Sunday, May 02, 2010

Rashly I asserted that Devo were New Wave riffers supreme, clean forgetting about Tubeway Army, who were less synthpop than they were synthrock.

Pretty much any track on Replicas could be presented as evidence of Numanoid riff-prowess, but the allegedly more electronic The Pleasure Principle is also rifftastic in places

Another New Wave killer-riff provider: Siouxsie & the Banshees (standing in for the undealt-with and not-to-be-dealt-with, this being the last instalment of Riffs Week, topic of Goth). Juju is their hardest slab of rock.

X -- bizarrely over-rated but "Nausea" can't be denied

Reinventing the riff, and rock:

Always felt "Marquee Moon" was a distant Yankee cousin of "Freebird". Which--talking here about the long section after the song proper--ecstatically blurs the difference between riff and solo.

Okay time to wind up now, having neglected Flipper, ZZ Top,Blue Oyster Cult, Chrome, the Kinks,and many more, and also having failed to pursue the questions of the riff in rap (a/k/a the Stab, written about an aeon ago by Dave Tompkins of vocoder bk fame) and the riff in techno-rave (again a/k/a the stab, but also terms used by producers like melody-riff and doubtless others I'm not privy to).


Carl elaborates on the Ron Johnson appeal and asks if this is not an extension of postpunk. Well, it would fall into "late postpunk" I guess (c.f. the second-wave of avant-funk), and for the most part, to my ears, something of an ingrown, cul de sac like development, although I did love Stump, especially early on,and as a live band. But shambling/Ron Johnson as postpunk-continues is the argument of this recent book by John Robb, Death To Trad Rock.

Riffs Mailbag

Stanley Whyte:
"1. No, there probably aren't any killer/undeniable Motorhead riffs - it's all about the sense of onslaught for Motorhead think - but this one comes closest:
- Deaf Forever from their Bill Laswell-produced (??) 86 disc Orgasmatron.

2. What? No mention of Slade? Run, Runaway seems all about the riff (plodding one-note thing it is). What a charmingly daft tune - what DO they think they're singing about? ("I like black and white/ DREAMING IN BLACK AND WHITE/you like black and white - run, runaway").

Jake Smith: he seconds Stranglers's "basstastic distortions" and suggests also "Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well""

Jon Dale: "I still think Aerosmith had the best riffs on the planet, though Royal Trux gave them a run for their money around Thank You/Sweet Sixteen/Accelerator era... Accelerator particularly odd, given how completely inhuman and mechanised the riffs are ("I'm Ready", "Juicy Juicy Juice", "Banana Question" are almost punitively produced...)"

"Is there an opposite to the "drops away" effect you mentioned with regard to Beefheart, The Ruts etc.?

I'm thinking one example could be Free, who seem to sound more and more anomalous to 70's blues-rock as time goes by. I think it's the sheer metronomic consistency of Simon Kirke's drumming, which seems to define their entire sound in a way that the style of no other drummer does.

I'd love to set up a digital metronome against one of their songs and see just how accurate his bpm's are. I strongly suspect that he's of pretty much digital drum-machine accuracy. "Woman" and "Songs of Yesterday" are good examples

Oh go on then, one more for the road...