'The Next Great American Band' does the right thing
A couple of the bands got flack from the judges for cutting things out of their songs on The Next Great American Band. Perhaps that wouldn't have been necessary if the show hadn't burned the entire five minutes before the first commercial break giving us a recap of last week and airing a paean to Rod Stewart. Just a thought, show.
If you want my spoiler, and you think I'm spoiler, come on sugar let me know!
Tres Bien! finally got the boot this week, something I'd almost given up on. Look, they're likable guys, but they weren't the best band there -- hell, they shouldn't have outlasted Franklin Bridge, for one thing. When Sheila talks about then needing their own Saturday-morning TV show, she's onto something -- they did smack of the Monkees at times (which is not to say I don't like the Monkees -- I actually saw them live at the Mann in Philly in the 80s, which, upon reflection, I'm not entirely sure I should say out loud), in that they seemed sort of made-for-TV in a way. A little too quirky, too clean, too easy to package. I have a hard time imagining them out on the road.
Dot Dot Dot opens up the show with "Young Turks," which is a great song for them (and a great song in general). Michael adds some unnecessary synth flourishes, but otherwise I like their version. John tells them it was their best performance so far, and Sheila likes them, but warns Adam that he's got to really concentrate on his vocals, and that the band has to be careful with tempos sometimes. The crowd boos her for this, and folks -- Sheila E. knows from tempos, so shut up. Dicko comments that the song worked as a call to arms, but they lost the story (we never find out that "Patti gave birth to a 10-pound baby boy," for example), and wonders why Michael needs two keyboards. Good question.
D&MHO do a confident, swinging take on "Baby Jane." John tells them the vocals were great, they stepped up their performance, and it was great to finally hear their guitar. Sheila loves them, as per usual. What's not so usual is Dicko also liked it, with a few caveats. Again, they truncated the song to make it fit the time limit, and Dicko said they left out the good stuff.
Sixwire takes on Hot Legs, and it rocks. They seem a lot more relaxed, and Andy lets his voice get a little rougher, a little squeaky on the high notes, growly on the lower notes. It works for him. They include a bass solo, which gets roundly mocked. I liked it. A great version all around.
The Clark Brothers do a sort of swoony, contemplative, shimmery version of "You're In My Heart." It's lovely. I'm not moved to tears, like Sheila is, but I liked it a lot. Dicko wonders why they didn't incorporate fiddle, which he thinks would have worked well with this song. Was it because Ashley can't fiddle and sing at the same time? Dicko reminds everyone that the bands can be fluid -- they can bring in more people, fire people -- and wonders if they'll ever bring in a couple more Clark Brothers if necessary. Ashley says he'll make some calls. The audience squeals.
Light of Doom does "Infatuation," which is one of my least favorite Rod Stewart songs. It doesn't have the same high-energy feel I've come to expect from the boys, but the judges like it, and praise both Erik's lead vocals and Lucas' backing vocals.
Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends:
- Tres Bien! was apparently very well-liked by everyone -- the Light of Doom kids hug them on the way out, and Adam from Dot Dot Dot writes "Tres Bien! Rules" on his chest at the end of the show.
- In the opening montage about Rod, some of the guys from D&MHO say it's tough choosing one of Rod's songs because his racy lyrics don't work with their faith. I hate to say it, but my eyes rolled at this. One, it's not like every song Rod wrote was "Do You Think I'm Sexy." What about "Forever Young" or "You Wear It Well," just off the top of my head? Second, if the Clark boys, all preacher's kids, can take a Rolling Stones song about rape and murder and turn it into a song of hope, you can figure something out. It just seemed like unnecessary bellyaching on their part.
- Dicko agrees with me: "If at 62 Rod the Mod is too sexy for Denver, you're not going to like Pussycat Doll night next week."
- The commentary on D&MHO was fun. After Sheila gets finished gushing, Dicko said "I loved it -- to a point." Sheila cuts him off: "Wait -- can we applaud 'I loved it' first and then you can go on? He said he loved it, oh my god!"
- Dicko and Sheila had similar fun with Sixwire. Dicko: "You guys are so much better when you let your hair down and you have fun. It's sexy." Sheila: "You thought it was sexy, huh?" Dicko: "I'm not dead."
- Dicko was, however, unmoved on one thing: "The bass solo, I thought you still got the electric chair for that in some states, and you certainly should. Never do that again." Why no love for the bass?
- As always, the judges were blown away by The Clark Brothers. John: "A song like that is going to make guys hate you and make women love you." Sheila (after choking back tears for several seconds): "It's overwhelming what you guys bring here. This is what my life is about and that's why I'm here. I thank you." Dicko: "The original was simple, heartfelt and beautiful, and while yours wasn't as sing-along as the original, you brought something magical. You always, always do." Damn straight.
We learn about the bands' musical influences. Most are expected, but a couple of the stories or influences stand out:
- Light of Doom's Lucas cites John Entwistle and Bootsy Collins as influences -- and I'm pretty sure he disagrees with the judges on bass solos.
- Denver says he loved Huey Lewis, which makes sense -- not only was that a band with horns, but it's a successful act fronted by a guy who looked like he should be an accountant.
- Andy from Sixwire praises Glen Campbell, and I've got to respect him for that. "Rhinestone Cowboy"? "Wichita Lineman"? Good stuff.
- Austin Clark talks about seeing a dobro master Jerry Douglas at a bluegrass festival and buying all his CDs -- despite the fact he didn't have a CD player.
- Ashley Clark talks about hearing the Beatles for the first time at age 16 -- he'd never heard them before because they always listened to bluegrass and country gospel, and their dad didn't like the Beatles because there was no banjo in it. Hee!
Next week, it's Queen. This could either be absolutely fabulous or horribly wrong.