Saturday, June 30, 2007

FBO: 'Considering Midnight Oil for Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame'

Let's down shift a bit, and merely consider a band for the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame that rarely gets much mention out of its home-continent, Australia: Midnight Oil.

They're not very good, really, but still the Failed Bands of Oklahoma is TAKING SOME TIME to consider whether they'll nominate Midnight Oil for the Hall. (Their first album dates from the late '70s, well beyond the '25 year' mark the Hall requires for consideration.)

--> Hall or no? Your input is welcomed, and needed.

FBO Admin bought their album Red Sails in the Sunset in 1984 because it had a 'cool cover.' It looked like something like Mars and Sydney combined -- of course at the time I thought it was a fictional city, not recognizing the Sydney Opera House, but still it had an effect. Songs like 'Best of Both Worlds' were punkier than the follow-up break-through-to-US #1 album Diesel & Dust (1986) with the single 'Beds are Burning.' We always knew Peter Garrett, the extremely bald lead singer, was upset about something -- the environment, Australia's aboroginal right, nuclear weapons etc -- but we weren't sure what, and that was OK. You trust a guy like that. And over time he's proven it all the more, by going into politics and GETTING ELECTED.

See more on Peter Garrett here.

Most importantly, Peter is probably the most successful head-shaved (male) lead singer of all time. (Sinead O'Connor is likely the most successful bald lead singer.)

Bald heads in the real world trod over more iffy grounds. Ten years, or maybe 15, ago, having your head shaved was a novel thing -- a notch above the also-novel goattee. You were either a neo-Nazi, a Yul Brynner fan, or maybe liked Sinead. It was kinda cool -- like Kojak and his lolipops. Those days are done. Having your head shaved now means exactly one thing: YOU ARE GOING BALD. The 'cover up' and the 'toupee' has long since fallen away to this equally transparent tactic. Stop doing that.

Perhaps nominating Midnight Oil to the Hall will help.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Hoi An, Vietnam

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

FBO: 'Inducts Lou Reed to FBO Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame'

Paul McCartney is in the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist, but LOU REED isn't. Let's think this through a bit:

Paul has had one of the driest recording spells in the past, oh, 37 years of any supposed genius songwriter since Mozart faked his death and stopped making music for 42 years. (That didn't happen.) 'Ebony & Ivory' and 'Say Say Say' duets are hardly forgotten, or forgiven, nor that disaster 'Give My Regards to Broad Street.' Paul's band Wings -- which have should have no play in his SOLO inductee to the Hall -- guards really his only tolerable post-Beatles work: debatably 'Band on the Run,' 'With a Little Luck,' 'Live & Let Live,' 'Mull of Kintyre' (for the bagpipes). And, again, those do not count.

If the Hall has room for Paul's tedious solo outings, and allows vastly overrated Eric Clapton to get in twice -- as solo artist (which we reluctantly accept) and the two-year-running Cream (unforgivable) -- why can't Lou get in for Velvet Underground (happened; 1996) and his long-lasting, often interesting and challenging solo career? Lou's Transformer album (1972) is his most famous -- produced by Bowie, with 'Walk on the Wild Side' (jazz and drag?), 'Satellite of Love' and 'Vicious,' while the under-appreciated 1973 concept album Berlin is likely the most depressing of all time -- try 'The Kids' or 'The Bed,' where the narrator sits on the bed where his ex 'slit her wrists' and rethinks what went wrong. More importantly, Lou fell into an often hilarious wave of self-destruction, with the incredibly inconquerable double-live album Take No Prisoners, where his 20-minute version of 'Wild Side' lashes out at the audience and never gets into the song, or his double-album noise instrumental album Metal Machine Music (1976). (Later he'd make a video -- 'Video Violence' -- of a Lou Reed 'robot' pulling its face apart...) There are misfires -- and galling disasters (like his most recent Edgar A Poe concept album The Raven), and too many cover shots with his mug on the cover, but his 27 years of solo recordings have been ambitious and way out of the curve.

The FBO asks:

--> Put Lou in now (or take Paul, and Jackson Browne!, out now). Surely his work has out thought, influenced and performed a Bob Seger?

FBO Admin

Mobile HQ -- Hue, Vietnam

Thursday, June 21, 2007

FBO: 'Eyes Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, John Cougar'

Do the Ronettes really deserve to be in the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame? This year, along with previously documented underachiever REM, the Ronettes angled into the Hall, largely on their puppet-body contribution to (allegedly) human-killing Phil Spector's 'wall of sound' sound. The songs are catchy -- the few that exist -- but they didn't do that much to make them. Do you applaud the players of Twister for the overlapping tangle that people get into based on the color the arrow points to?

The FBO will be, over the next two weeks, appointing new bands the FBO recommends for joining the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame that have been snubbed so far.


Can anyone listen to 'Pink Houses' and not like it? John Cougar -- often so mocked for his dumb swoop of hair in the mid '80s and carrying the vibe of someone that might have laughed too hard at a taking-a-dump-on-someone's-porch prank years before -- is actually something of the Real Bruce Springsteen. A working-class guy who has working-class roots and earned his slur with his Central Time Zone homeland. He helped found Farm Aid, still going, and has made jangly, duo-guitar rock'n'roll beginning at precisely the moment (1982 or so) that the Rolling Stones forgot how to. John has kept it up. You may smirk at the recent Ford Truck commerical -- 'this is our country' -- but you can't deny the hook, or that it SOUNDS LIKE JOHN. He has his own voice -- something hard to find -- and his own co-opted sound that has never sold out, tried fashionable tricks or swayed from his Indiana convictions. In his OK single 'Cherry Bomb' (which featured a bi-racial couple in the video), he lets his long-standing bandmates take a stab at a line in the last verse (can you imagine Billy Joel or Bob Seger do that?). The title 'Pink Houses' deserves credit. Here in Vietnam, you can't walk down a street without seeing a pink-fronted home, or go into a cheap motel with rose-pink walls. But in the USA, pink houses are hard to find. The man is MORE the poet than many so-called poets, and deserves, for 20 years of consistent rock'n'roll production, a nod into the Hall.

Is there anyone else who really plays Stones-inspired rock anymore? John's held the banner high.

--> Consider this:

John Cougar is not in the Hall, but BOB SEGER, ZZ Top, Jackson Brown (sacre bleu!), Santana, Jefferson Airplane and Billy Joel are.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Saturday, June 16, 2007

FBO: 'Pythons & Kajagoogoo in Hanoi's Outskirts'

IN its restless efforts to promote failed bands, FBO Admin accepted a recent invitation to attend a 'nightclub opening' in a far-flung district of Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, weaving on the back of a Quebecois photographer's bike which followed Vietnam's most famous 'python artist.' Mr Tong, a 40-something circus performer, wore a tight black shirt, black slacks and tan loafers -- he's been working with pythons for 16 years. 'It's the most important act of the circus,' he said at one traffic light, in English. 'Wait till you see the crowd go crazy tonight. I'm the big performer of the opening.' Thirty minutes later we pulled off a main road, and onto a new development's fringe, where -- reached by a red-lantern-lit sidewalk into a former field, was a booming outdoor courtyard packed with local families crouching at small plastic tables watching a 1-2-3 mix of performances. On stage was a guy wearing a 'Desperately Seeking Susan' jacket and untied fake Converse sneakers and sporting a Kajagoogoo hairstyle with bleached spikes, belting out vocals (and dance moves) to a pre-recording synth track. Some kids held their ears at the high notes.

We got ushered into the 'VIP room,' a FBO regularity. It was an open house to the side with a plain tiled floor, a few bamboo mats on the ground with a dad smoking a water pipe and some kids sitting around. In a corner was a simple bed, with a couple models applying more make-up before their dance peformance with a gay guy with fake red-leather pants with white fringe. Soon glasses of Hanoi Beer with giant block-chipped ice cubes floating in it were handed to us.

Mr Tong was getting ready. He had put on a leopard-skin headband, leopard-skin wrist bands, bicep bands stretched taut over his bulging muscle, and a single shoulder strap over his broad shoulders. I asked where the costume came from. 'This? I designed it,' he said. 'It's based on the Vietnamese legend of Tac San: a jungle man who saves a princess.' Is that something like Tarzan?, I asked, noting the similarity of the name. 'No, it's not Tarzan,' brushing the long tail of his full hockey-style mullet -- the only one I've seen in Vietnam. No sideburns in the way to stop his move.

A few minutes later Mr Tong jumped on stage to a 'Night at the Roxbury' soundtrack, clapping wildly. Out of a basket he pulled two giant pythons and wrapped them around him. Occasionally flexing, occasionally pointing to the audience Mick Jagger style, occasionally pulling unwilling and very frightened girls and boys -- maybe nine or ten years old -- out of the audience to drape pythons over their shoulders. Family members and other kids jumped up and down in their seats, clapping uncontrollably.

Mr Tong was a little more subdued after the performance. Wiping off sweat, he mentioned he'd been to New York before. 'I spent a week in Madison Square Garden with the Ringling Brothers,' he said. 'New York's great. It goes nonstop. I stayed up so late that month. Sometimes after 1am!!'

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Hanoi, Vietnam

Sunday, June 10, 2007

FBO: 'NBA Banned'


So little in life leads to justice, so the FBO demands that a couple things provide it: sports and rock music.

When Robert Horry of the San Antonio Spurs body-checked Steve Nash into the boards during a recent NBA playoff game, Nash's teammate Stoudamire -- being a human -- jumped up to check on his teammate. NBA Commissioner David Stern -- who makes players dress in suits to go to games to de-gangsta the league -- suspended Stoudamire (the team, the Phoenix Suns, second-best player after Nash) along with the so-so provider Horry. The Suns lost the next game, then game seven on the road in San Antonio. The rule refers to players moving outside the designated 'bench' during an 'altercation.' It follows the famed Pacers/Pistons brawl that led to fists thrown in the stands. Stoudamire never ran toward Horry, never raised a fist or pushed a fly. Yet, the Suns were allowed to essentially give up the series due to David Stern's questionable literal take of the rule. (And never mind that the Spurs' best player, Tim Duncan, jumped onto the court following a rough foul two games earlier!)

Can justice be served? Well, the FBO roots for Cleveland Cavaliers to do, what seems, the impossible. It's not the Spurs fault of course, but no one really knows whether they could have beaten the Suns without the huge gift from the head of the NBA.

Meanwhile, we would like to remind FBO fans of the creed: 'people don't root for underdogs, only underdogs that win' as we refer to David Stern's latest target: OKLAHOMA CITY.

In a Yahoo Sports piece today, David Stern oohed at how much he wants the Seattle SuperSonics franchise to stay in that city that hates the team, despite Oklahoma City's high-hearted endorsement of a two-year temporary team, the New Orleans Hornets, and a stadium ready to put them in.

Stern says regarding the 'hopes' of keeping the Sonics in Seattle:

"I think it's just going to work itself out and I hope it does. It's been a good city for the NBA and we'd love to stay there."

Full story:;_ylt=AuNOs3Qr2nsWTO7oensLZPy8vLYF?slug=ap-supersonicsfuture&prov=ap&type=lgns

The NBA is banned by the FBO until David Stern is FIRED.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Sapa, Vietnam

Friday, June 08, 2007

FBO: 'FBO-Sponsored Blog Details Vietnam'

FBO Admin directs FBO traffic this week to this site, which follows FBO member Robert Reid's investigatory trip through north and central Vietnam.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Hanoi, Vietnam

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

FBO: 'The Deconstruction of REM'

We've alluded to this before -- that REM was the USA's great alternative hope of the '80s, cordially bouting with Europe's own alternative hope, U2. The results are painfully obvious to see, for the American-centric music fans in us all: U2 by a KO.

Consider these facts:

REM made a few good albums -- 'Murmur' (1983), 'Reckoning' (1984), 'Fables of the Reconstruction' (1985), 'Life's Rich Pageant' (1986) **ed note: remember when bands made albums every year?** and debatably (very) 'Document' (1987). By their first major-label release, the patchy 'Green' (1988), REM lost its edge. By the still-enigmatic power-fuzzy 'Monster' (1994) the singles stopped being hits, and the band slid into horrible sludge it's never shown any sense of rebounding from.

Of REM's 12 or so studio albums, only four are very good. That means 66% of their original work has been questionable. In a 25-year career, 20 years are marred with suspicious output. That's a seriously unimpressive track record.


--> Mike Mills' Ego
The smart dork in the classroom, a Paul McCartney without the talent, suddenly found his confidence, right before the penultimate song in a fairly remarkable 'Unplugged' peformance for MTV in 1991. Michael Stipe said, before they started 'It's the End of the World As We Know It', something like 'we have one more song for you,' and the audience 'ahhhed'. Mike Mills chipped in: 'Oh, we can stop now if you like?' This generated much doting, polite laughter. And Mike Mills took note. By the time the awful 'Automatic for the People' came out, with burgeoned confidence, he had long bleached hair, was wearing cowboy suits, and his back-ups seemed even higher in the mix.

--> Michael Stipe's Ego
Stipe was his best when he was down in the mix, slurring his words, with lyrics that skirted the meaning -- leaving what he was talking about a 'best guess.' Compare the 'acid rain' anthem 'Fall on Me' (1986) with 'Everybody Hurts' (1992) which has about the subtlety of a punch to the groin. Somewhere, Stipe got his confidence -- we don't have the exact location but it likely involves a successful MTV awards or his bad haircut from the 'Green' tour.

--> Pete Buck's Laziness
Long a liar -- note the photo of him playing piano on the back of 'Reckoning' (1984), or hear his repeated claims that the next album 'doesn't have any guitar'; both lies -- Buck's worst offense is that he just doesn't try anymore. Take 'Everybody Hurts,' where he goes for a blues slow-pick to telegraph the 'sad' tone of the song's listeners. Where are the 'Seven Chinese Brothers'?

--> Departure of Bill Berry
REM's only infallible, almost critique-proof member -- Bill Berry -- left the band in 1997 after suffering a brain aneuryrsm. The band has never been the same.

If you think REM deserve props, and its recent induction into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, and believe REM is tops...

--> Compare U2's 'One' (1991) with REM's 'Everybody Hurts' (1992) -- The winner in these partner testaments to soaring emotion, 'One' is an anthem of reconciliation amidst differences, the other is included in mockery in movies and films when an over-sensitive character breaks down (eg The Simpsons, The Office (US), 'Bewitched').

--> REM copies Canada's great trio Rush on acid rain. Rush sung about it on songs like 'Distant Early Warning' in 1984. REM's 'Fall on Me' came out a year later.

The FBO asks
either that REM apologizes for 'lacking luster' in the past 20 years -- seriously they had five good ones, and 20 dodgy ones -- OR to return the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame ribbon to Cleveland. Their choice, which.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Saturday, June 02, 2007

FBO: 'Celebrating Global Warming & the Beatles (Part IV Cancelled)'

The fourth installment of this 'three- of four-part series of the FBO 'celebrating global warming' by listening to the Beatles and Wings has been cancelled.