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October 06, 2005

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» Little Steven: Smash or Trash? from The Contrarian
Little Steven Van Zant is a study in contrasts. His role as a member of Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band, a musical act that gets me excited as a bowl of tepid chicken broth, never really endeared me to him much and his godawful taste in clo... [Read More]

Comments

Dave the Spazz

It's a case of a Fucking Jerk versus the Fucking Pussies.

"...Dion's total Soprano's coolness..."

It's really sad when a clown like this guy is on your side. LSVZ's commitment to rock &roll and his skewed vision of what is "garage" has been fleeting and self-serving at best. He's done almost as much to set back the cause of rock & roll as JACK FM.

erik

i think Wu-Tang Clan is every bit as wild as Jerry Lee Lewis ever was.

James from Hoboken

There's about 1,000 things about LSVZ than annoy the crap out of me.

1) Disco doesn't belong on the radio? Says who? A whole lotta people turned to disco because it gave them something rock didn't by the late 70's. And disco was the music of outsiders in the same way rock used to be but no longer was by that time.

2) Jerry Lee -- great musician, wild man, yep. But he didn't try to take on the music industry and subvert it. The Pistols did (not saying they succeeded, but hey, they tried). This is the same industry that pays LS' salary, I'm thinking. What's more wild, destructive behavior, or an attempt to fight a corrupt institution?

3)Whenever LS gets press for things like this, the story always ends up being more about him, and being on The Sopranos, or being a rock celebrity and lecturing about it to a paying audience (depressing, but true), and less about the music. Contrast this to Lenny Kaye, who actually did a whole lot of things for rock and roll, like compiling the original Nuggets collection, and writing tons of ink about great pop music without shining a light on himself.

4) if the money was in oldies, WCBS wouldn't have changed formats.

Brian Turner

His site endorsements clearly spell out exactly who kicks the Sex Pistols' and Wu-Tang's asses: Lorenna McKennitt, Jackson Browne, and a big thumbs up for that new Stones album.

Chris T.

DISCLAIMER: I work for Little Steven... and I never liked the way he dresses.

...having said that, I'm glad SOMEONE with "clout" (whatever the hell THAT is) is saying these things. Whatever your feelings about LS or his taste in music or clothing, he IS "on our side" - and I don't think he's been as bad for radio as JACK, nowhere near. At least LS hires real live people as DJs, including several WFMU staffers. JACK has done jackshit for me.

To James from Hoboken: 1) Personally, I'd rather hear disco in a nightclub or someplace where you can dance with other people. Disco on the radio has always seemed like a pointless exercise. 2) Jerry Lee Lewis was a pretty revolutionary figure but - unless I'm way off the mark - there wasn't much of a "music industry" to take on back then. There was certainly no "establishment" like there was when the Pistols came along. I'd also argue with whether Malcolm McClaren and the Pistols were interested in "subverting" the record industry or fighting a "corrupt institution". That seems like a romantic reading of the situation. Didn't they always talk about being in it for the money? 3) LS didn't go seeking press for this. It was a keynote address at an industry convention and written up by our Irwin for WFMU's blog - not exactly "the press". And how can you blame LS for using his "rock celebrity" status to talk about these things or for how he's written up in the press? Your point about Lenny Kaye misses the point: whatever good work Lenny's done it hasn't given him the same high profile as LS's work with Springsteen or his role on The Sopranos. If LS wants to use that high profile to champion Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, etc., than I say more power to him. 4) If I read LS's comments correctly, what he's trying to say is that "oldies" are not the problem. It was the fact that the format never adjusted itself to appeal to young people. It began to sound musty. But it IS possible to play music from the 50's and 60's and make it compelling to a younger demographic AND make money with it. The folks at Infinity or Clear Channel or whatever have no interest in hiring the sort of people who could contexualize Eddie Cochran, et al, in today's music world and make interesting radio. They're after the easy coin, and if that means sticking that godawful JACK format on every station in the land and eliminating lots of salaries in the process, so be it.

Jeff

Regardless of who is wilder, I think that LS's big point is that so much of radio is soulless. Too many radio stations play exactly the same setlist (well, there's the classic rock setlist, the AAA setlist, the oldies setlist) with no variation. I get bored listening to a lot of stations even when I like the songs they play. The DJ's I want to listen to are the cranky ones who sometimes don't like a record, or will talk about what's going on in their life and then play a song that makes relates to what they've just said. I don't think every radio station needs to be freeform, but DJ's should have the power to change, adapt, and maybe occasionally throw out the setlist.

Lee R.

I don't go for LS tactics, but also being in radio, I know that personality is everything. We have JACK here in Canada, and they kicked everyone's ass in their first 6 months. After that, their ratings dropped in half. Listeners got tired of the playlist (throw out the expensive, target-marketed, computerized, extremely deliberate playlist? Are you kidding?), and with no engaging personalities to keep them listening, they went back to their regular favorites.

Cynthia

I'd venture to guess anyone who has any affinity to radio would be hard pressed to disagree with most of LS's assertions documented here (if they put aside their personal opinion of the man's personality, anyway). But in a forum like this, it's akin to preaching to the choir. In the forum in which he originally presented it, it was likely split between 1) preaching to the choir and 2)preaching to the deaf (not to mention short sighted) media execs.

Jeffersonic

Hmm....wasn't little steven himself in some schlocky,
crappy seventies band that was overhyped, maudlin to
the extreme and practically void of any musical spontaneity? I believe he was! I remember diving for the radio to change the dial anytime I was confronted with that homogenous Pepto-Bismol soundin' shit that he was a part of.....come on; springsteen's not much cooler than Hootie and the Blowfish, The Sopranos were fun for awhile but, I don't know, doesn't the show seem like a soap opera that's gone on for too long? Who cares what
the fuck little steven thinks; he's got no credentials in my neighborhood; just another pompous gasbag fouling the air..........a point that occcurs to me is that 60's radio was not so genre specific, delicious spontaneity was occuring naturally, the people pimping the music hadn't yet become sophisticated enough to extract every bit of value from the "product"........

Tim the old guy

Obviously Little Steven did exactly what he intended: he got people talking. A couple of observations strictly as a music listener and lover:
1) Lee R: It's nice that in Canada you actually had radio personalities for the people to go back and listen to. In Nashville, Tennessee, "Music City," we have exactly zero. So it's no surprise that the mainstream (aka not country, not the indie or college folks) are flocking to the new JACK and I'll be very surprised if they go away in six months or even in five years unless something changes radically.
2) To a number of you: When you have the record collection Little Steven and his buddies Southside Johnny and Garry Tallent have, you can criticize his knowledge of rock history. Right now, you just look silly.
3) To Jeffersonic: You don't look silly. You look like a complete moron. Little Steven, or Miami Steve, as he was known then, was and is in one of the greatest rock n' roll bands that ever walked the planet. My guess is that you were what, four, when Born to Run came out? I'm guessing that cred in your neighborhood means whoever has the most bling and totes the biggest gun. Impressive.

Dave the Spazz

Even though he's not known for his wit, Little Steven ventures into the surreal realm of funny on occasion. Here's a link to that infamous memo he sent out to bands on the eve of his Randall's Island show last year. Go down about halfway to the paragraph that begins "If your band does not have a look..."

Jeffersonic

Sorry old Tim, I was born in 1959, my old man was an audiophile who brought an awesome
group of stereo components into our home in 1963. The Ventures "Walk Don't '64" was among
the first records I listened to repeatedly, and I still listen to it....I was speaking metaphorically
about my "neighborhood" which consists of musicians who have remained in contact for
decades, holding forth and arguing endlessly, (and enjoying it) over music and its astonishing
varieties and permutations through time and geographic boundaries. All of these people have extensive musical collections which I'm sure rival or surpass little steven's or southside johnny's. I'll give it to you that those springsteeners are "professionals". You like them?
Good for you...I just think the music is really boring, the lyrical content execrably sentimental and contrived.....yuck...

listener_paul

A rock song with lyrics that are sentimental and contrived? Heavens, no! It can't be happening.

Look, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are what they are--like them, don't like them. Like a lot of bands, their early records show a hungry band that helped turn rock away from the pomposity of 20 minute drum solos. Bruce ran out of interesting ideas with Nebraska, sure. So what?

Jeffersonic

Can someone provide me with a list of bruce springsteen's interesting ideas?

krokus

I like Little Steven. I like his radio show. I liked him on the Sopranos. I like him in Bruce Springsteen's band. I liked the speech. I think there are plenty better targets to bitch about, if you really want to bitch.

Jeff Jotz

Regardless of LSVZ's lousy clothing, WCBS-FM dug its own grave by playing the same 100 oldies (or AM radio hits or whatever you want to call them) over and over again, just like Q-104 plays the same tired playlist of classic rock staples that turned me off to the genre by the time I was 15. C'mon, people, there are plenty of great Kinks songs besides "You Really Got Me" and lots more decent Stones songs than "Satisfaction." Towards the end, WCBS played the same songs that you'd hear at a suburban New Jersey wedding. I'm surpised that they didn't throw in "The Macarena" or "Electric Slide" before JACK FM mercifully put a bullet in their heads.

Skillet

Honestly, Little Steven, who I've never paid any attention to, sounds like an idiot. That "old school, let's kick disco's ass" mentality is how this country ended up with Hummers and the Bush administration. But anyway,as long as radio is a business, for the most part, it's gonna suck. The existance of stations like WFMU, or Pittsburgh's WRCT, depends on either a well-funded college or listener (financial) support. But these stations know that formats are kind of rediculous anyway. And as far as the fifties are concerned, all those old rockers LS brought up are great (well maybe not Dion, or Fabian), but what about the slew of proto-rock and roll and rockabilly from the era that commerical radio hasn't even heard of? They wouldn't play it if they had. And how many people realize Bo Diddley's hottest record was a live album he did at Myrtle Beach in '63? It's never been reissued and for that, the world is a sadder place. The point of this is, that Diddley album, obscure Link Wray, Lightnin' Hopkins' Herald sessions, etc, etc needs to be right up alongside the Stooges, Minutemen, Cosmic Psychos, Gories, Homosexuals, the Fall's, Donna Summer, early chicago house, some street band from Western Java, Os Mutantes, Morton Feldman, some kids singing aobut cheese badly, Ted Nugent, Jimmy Logsdon, PIL's Metal Box, Comets on Fire, Sinatra, Tex Carmen, Ewe drummers of Ghana, on and on until all this recorded music we're blessed with has everyone so mixed up that they end up liking it all. Or at least realizing that these things exist. Why hear what you gre up with? You already know that!

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