It’s a story older than Rock ‘n’ Roll itself. A band makes their bones around a charismatic frontman. Maybe he writes the songs. Maybe he just sings them. In either case, he’s the face of the group, the one the people come to see. Then, something happens. Maybe the frontman dies. Maybe there’s an argument over money. Maybe his own inflated ego causes him to start a potentially ill-fated solo career. Whatever happens, the band decides they don’t need their charismatic frontman any longer, and they’ll go on without him. Sometimes, this works. After Buddy Holly died, The Crickets went on with different frontmen for years. Joy Division lost the iconic Ian Curtis, and went on with a name change to become even more popular and successful as New Order. AC/DC had more success with replacement vocalist Brian Johnson than they did with Bon Scott. Yet, for every band that goes on with their new frontman and succeeds, many more fail. These are some of their stories.
I’m very anal about how I organize my music. It’s a simple system: Albums are organized by artist, and by date of release. If an album is by a artist with a proper name, say, David Byrne, it gets sorted under the last name. I even do this with MP3s. I am anal. This system is easily stymied by artist collaborations. Take for example this new single by David Byrne and Brian Eno. Does it go under “B”? Does it go under “E”? Or does it go under “D”? The traditional methodology is to alphebatize by the first name in the list, so… “B” then, right? Thing is, the last time David Byrne and Brian Eno collaborated on an album, the amazing My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, it was released with Eno’s name in front. With the parties the same, I’d like to keep these two things grouped, but I can’t because David Byrne is getting top billing here. What can I do?
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Here’s another hypothetical mix CD, this one called “Jeff Bridges… I Don’t Need No Jeff Bridges To Put Music To My Poem!” The title’s taken from one of my favorite Tom Goes To The Mayor episodes (though, really, they’re all pretty dang great), and the main idea of this mix is to expose people to bands or songs they might not know otherwise. None of the songs were chosen for ironic value; I tend to find all these songs very listenable, and hope others do as well. The songs worked themselves out into “sides” like an LP, although, length-wise, each “side” here would probably be about 2 sides of a real record, but since this is hypothetical, no one will mind.
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These are the top ten songs — in no particular order save for number one — ever recorded by anyone. If a song is not on the list, it undoubtedly was a good try, however, I feel your pain. None of the songs I wrote were ever even in the running. But those are the breaks, and here they are. The Top Ten Songs Ever.
This is the first of what will, hopefully, be a series of reviews of excellent records lost to the mists of time. Some were later found again, like this particular record, the self-titled debut by Polyrock.
Polyrock was a post-punk/new wave band from New York City with a distinctive minimalist flair, owing in no small part to the involvement of Phillip Glass in production and performance. I suppose the closest parallel to Polyrock would be early Talking Heads, somewhere around More Songs About Buildings and Food, though the approach is totally different. Polyrock’s music was pattern-based, usually with a driving, mechanical drum beat, while Talking Heads were more open and conventionally pop in their arrangements.