Long live rock, I need it every night

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

ROCKWAR! Blam! Pow! Boof! Whammo!

Welcome to the first installment of ROCKWARS, which may become a semi-regular feature here at DC Rock Club. We members of Rock Club like nothing more than to bicker with each other, like a bunch of yenta women. Or better yet, like those guys from the Dockers commercials, only with 47% more douchiness.

We can argue about anything and often we each stake out extreme positions, the better which to piss off the other guy. For example, in 1996 Potsy asserted, with much certainty, that paper money would be obsolete by 2010. And here we are in 2008 and we’re still using the shit. We’ll always have paper money, because we need something with which to snort coke, and also because you can’t make it rain in the strip club with electronic debits.

Did I mention these arguments usually involve alcohol? Well, they do. I probably should have said that at the outset.

Okay, so the first ROCKWAR is the following: Boston is better than Steely Dan. I will be arguing the affirmative, and Sacklunch will argue the negative. Although I predict once he sees the onslaught of science and math that I will deploy, he’ll wuss the fuck out.


Sack’s first argument was that Steely Dan has better albums than Boston. My response to this is, dude, shut the fuck up, man. Everyone knows that the music biz is all about shifting units and nobody shifted units like Boston. For the sake of this argument we’ll ignore both bands’ later comeback albums, and focus on their glory years: 1972-1980 for Steely Dan, and 1976-1978 for Boston. Steely Dan released seven albums over that period: Can’t Buy a Thrill, Countdown to Ecstasy, Pretzel Logic, Katy Lied, The Royal Scam, Aja, and Gaucho. Aja was the top seller, hitting number 3 on the charts and going 2x platinum (equal to 2 million albums sold) as of 2008. Not bad.

Boston, on the other hand, was like a salmon, swimming upstream, busting a nut, and then quickly dying off. Also, like a salmon, they released only two albums, the self-titled Boston, and More Than a Feeling. Boston hit number 3, while More Than a Feeling went to the toppermost of the poppermost and hit number 1. As of 2008 Boston is 17x platinum (17 million sold) and More Than a Feeling is 7x platinum.

VERDICT: Boston, in a walk. Not only did their total album sales dwarf Steely Dan’s—24 million to 7.5 million—they did it all in only two (glorious) years. This is akin to Franco Harris taking 12 years to rush 12,120 yards, and he’s all like, wow, I’m a great running back, and then Barry Sanders comes along and rushes for 15,269 yards in only nine years, and then says, hey, fuck the NFL, I’m gonna go sell aluminum siding now.

Category: BAND NAME

Steely Dan named themselves after a dildo. That’s pretty cool, although the reference is from Naked Lunch, which is a little pretentious. Still, it’s better than naming yourself after a city.

VERDICT: Steely Dan. Let the baby have his bottle, I say.

Category: SONGS

Okay, this category is totally subjective, meaning I shall basically call everything I dislike “gay”, and everything I like “awesome”. Let’s begin.

I don’t dislike Steely Dan, I’m just sayin’ they’re overrated and aren’t as good as Boston. A quick look at their top songs shall prove this. Let’s rank their catalog, from best to worst:

Do It Again: This one’s pretty boss. Calling people “Jack” is a cool jazz mannerism that I endorse.
Dirty Work: Man, I had no idea this was Steely Dan. I thought it was Carly Simon, or someshit. Good song.

"Dirty Work" (Can't Buy A Thrill, 1972)

My Old School: Sack and I both went to William and Mary so we can dig this one. Would have been better if they had namedropped Burke instead of Annandale, but I’ll overlook that.
Peg: I like this song, but only because it reminds me of De La Soul’s “Me, Myself and I”.
Reelin’ In The Years: Yeah, okay.
Black Cow: Take my big black cow and get out of here? What the fuck are you talking about? And what will we do for dairy?
Deacon Blues: Whoa, stop. Lame easy listening crap.
Hey Nineteen: More of the same.
Kid Charlemagne: Crap song, and additional points deducted for inspiring the Hold Steady.
Rikki Don’t Lose That Number: Hmmm. I much prefer the Phil Collins version, “Don’t Lose My Number,” which is about Billy, who is probably a hotter piece of ass than Rikki, given that it’s Collins looking to get in there, versus Fagen/Becker.

Okay, now let's take a look at Boston's catalog.

More Than A Feeling: Oh, fuck yeah. He sees his Mary Ann walking away, and rips off a fucking awesome guitar solo. Mary Ann turns her shit around and walks back.
Foreplay/Long Time: Ooh, neat. Organ work leads to cool song that everyone sings along to with a scrunched up rock face: Well, I’m taking my time, I’m just moving on/You’ll forget about me after I’ve been gone...

"Foreplay/Long Time" (Boston, 1976)

Peace of Mind: More awesomeness. People, stop livin’ in competition, and let’s get high. Anti-9-to-5 screed.
Rock and Roll Band: One more reason Boston rules, is that they write songs about themselves and how they love to rock.
Let Me Take You Home Tonight: Much like myself, Boston will show you sweet delight, if you let them take you home tonight. It’s nice, really.
Smokin’: Boston wants you to toke up and have a good time. Okay, Boston, if you insist.
Hitch a Ride: Sometimes you gotta head out and hit the road, and hope it shows you the answers. Someday I myself shall hitch a ride.
Don’t Look Back: Are you kidding me? More blazing fretwork. Fuck jazz.

VERDICT: Okay, so the rest of Don’t Look Back is spotty, but everything on Boston kills Steely Dan. Boston wins again.


This is where Boston really pulls ahead. I am convinced that people give Steely Dan extra points because for some reason they think their music is more intellectual than Boston’s. They went to Bard College—ooh, so smart. They incorporate jazz into their music. Jazz is for Upper East Side Village Voice-reading grad student jerk-offs.

Prototype Steely Dan fans: "She goes straight for Arts & Leisure...I pick up the magazine."

Boston, on the other hand, is looked down upon for being a slicked-up studio band, a group of technicians. Their fans are the type of dudes who were in Heavy Metal Parking Lot, only just six or seven years prior. All across America, these freaks piled into vans with 10-20 friends, passed around the pills (uppers, downers, barbs, ludes, dust, whatever), and drank beer in the parking lot, and wore small denim shorts, smaller than any man should ever wear. Also, did I mention that Boston has pictures of spaceships on both of their albums? Rad.

I call shotgun

Verdict: Boston is better than Steely Dan. I sentence Donald Fagen to be shot at dawn. Becker can watch if he wants.


Anonymous said...

You might want to think about adding a category for "talent" (which I realize one could argue overlaps a bit with "songs"). Of course, if you did that, Steely Dan wins in a laugher.

Jimbromski said...

Take all those pills I listed, then listen to both groups, then get back to me. Only then will your analysis be entered into the record.

Let me know if you need help getting the pills, I know some people.

Jumbo Slice said...

You present a very compelling case. I'm a mental midget when it comes to Classic Rock (and most other things for that matter). My initial reaction when presented w/ the question was to vote for Steely Dan. You may have changed my mind. We'll have to see what Sacklunch comes back with.

Oh, your depiction of us in the first few paragraphs is spot on. Well done.

Anonymous said...

I don't really know any Steely Dan songs - without your list, I would have been able to come up with zero.

I know TWO Boston songs! And, uh, you forgot "Amanda" from your list! HEL-LO?! Power(ish) ballads must be included.

I vote Boston. Even if JCR is my husband and Steely Dan is his favorite band ever.

Jimbromski said...

Favorite band? Ah, he should have disclosed that. This is a clear conflict of interest.

I purposefully excluded the comeback music for both bands. This was from an e-mail exchange between Jumbo and I yesterday:

Jumbo: "I actually like "Amanda". It came out right when I had a crush on a girl named Amanda. I think it was 7th grade."

Me: "See, Amanda sucks. You have terrible taste. I deliberately excluded both Steely Dan and Boston's comeback albums."

Anonymous said...

This is a tough call. Boston doesn't have anything that can touch "King of the World" or "My Old School", but then Steely Dan doesn't have an answer to "Hitch a Ride" or "A Man I'll Never Be".

Hmmm... I'm going to have go with Boston simply because they're rockers. Steely Dan engages in too much jazz wankery for my tastes.

- darius cola

Anonymous said...

Debating which is the better band between Boston and Steely Dan is like debating which is the better beer--Yeungling or Rolling Rock. Neither one is very good and no one really cares which one you have. Also, none of them are worth the oily bowel movement you will endure the next morning.

Jimbromski said...

Listening to Boston is like drinking a Peroni with a lime twist


sacklunch said...

My team and I will be working all weekend on our defense. Stayed tuned.

G.H. said...

I think you missed a main point of argument here -- Steely Dan's cheeseball jazz phase. See their cover of "EAst St. Louis Toodle-oo". Also, they charge like 80 bucks a ticket nowadays, whereas I think you can see Boston at a state fair near you for what it probably cost to see them thirty years ago.

HOWEVER, you left out a few stellar Steely Dan tracks -- "Midnight Cruiser", "Brooklyn Owes The Charmer", "Bad Sneakers".

Anonymous said...

I was looking for a dildo catalog. This isn't it, unless you guys want to post your photos somewhere - pantless.

Potsy said...

sacklunch, can you get your mom the catalog she's looking for, please?

Eric Axelson said...

Last year we had this fight between Steely Dan and the Misfits...nobody won.

I'm firmly in Camp Dan (Steely)

Category 1: Bad ass musicians
-Boston: Tom Scholz (not saying the other guys can't play, but they never come up when people talk about sick players)
- Steely Dan: Donald Fagan, Walter Becker, Terry Bozzio, Denny Dias, Skunk Baxter...not to mention Wayne Shorter plays on Aja. Band of ninjas.

Category 2: Guitarmonies:
- Boston: pop some nice wheelies in "More Than a Feeling"
- the Dan: pop wheelies, at lightning speed in "Reelin' in the Years" and other songs (Bodhisattva anyone?)

Category 3: Sales vs. Content
Evidence A: http://talk.livedaily.com/showthread.php?t=585694
What other bands would you buy off the top 13 debuts? GnR and Pearl Jam...I think my list stops there. By the sales debate above, I'm waiting for rock club to see Hootie. You know you want to.

Category 4: Translation to modern music (Cultural Impact revisited)
Evidence B: Here's the list of hip-hop groups that sample Steely Dan. Someone find me a list of Boston samples in hip-hop (note: I think the only more sampled groups are Funkadelic, Isely Brothers and...)


"Peg" is used in "Eye Know," not "Me, Myself and I" though.

Category 5: Lyrical content
-Boston: I'm sure Scholz is a nice guy, but he's always begging in his songs, like he's in an emo band "I don't wanna wait my whole life through / to say I'm in love with you." (Amanda) Now where did I put my barf bag?
-Steely Dan: Donald Fagan is one dirty brother. Every other song is about sleeping with younger women and doing drugs "the Cuervo gold, the fine Colombian, make's tonight a wonderful thing" (Hey 19)

I can't see anything but a Steely Dan landslide.
If you want to throw up Alanis Morissette against Bjork, or the Backstreet Boys against the Temptations, or Matchbox 20 against Fugazi, lemme know.

ps - this is what happens when I'm unemployed.

Anonymous said...

Burn and burn.

Perhaps you could post some dildo pics for the folks above?

Jimbromski said...

Axelson, I specifically excluded Amanda for a reason. I have to throw the whole rest of your argument out as fruit of the poison tree.

You should have passed all this info to Sacklunch, he's in charge of the rebuttal.

Dildos are in aisle 6, next to the elf pr0n.

sacklunch said...

maddyI decided to use the comments section for my rebuttal, as I don't think we need another actual post on this subject. Many of the commenters have made my points for me, thank you Mr. Axelson for that compelling history of Steely Dan. I will keep this short.

First, ALBUM SALES. This is a ridiculous way to measure superiority. You know what sold more albums than BOSTON? Garth Brooks "Double Live". You know what sold less than BOSTON? A shitload of bands that by all accounts are better than BOSTON, including this band known as The Beatles. Stupid fucking argument. Album sales don't mean shit.

I think your assessment of the songs is fairly accurate, though you did fail to mention "Midnight Cruiser" and "Black Friday" which are also good (not great) songs. There also hasn't been any mention of "FM" , the title track to the box-office flop "FM". The soundtrack a chock-a-block full of 70's rock superstars, including Foreigner, Boston, The Eagles, Segar, and many more. However, when the execs were sitting around the conference table, deciding what bands should be on the soundtrack, they chose none other than Steely Dan as the title track holder. In fact, there are 2 Steely Dan songs ("Do It Again" is the other)on the album. Also, the song "FM" has that awesome guitar lick that we have all song along to. "..FFFFMMMM, no static at all.." Waaa-wa-wuh-waaaaaaa...

Another point, (and yes, I know this is after the "formative" years"). Boston had a single number one "hit" in 1986 with "Amanda". Power ballad cheddar at it's finest. I am not saying Steely Dan released anything good during the mid to late eighties, but c'mon. "Amanda" = Fucking terrible.

Also, in 2008, Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee used "More than a Feeling" as his campaign theme song.

And finally, and I think this will seal the deal. If you were locked in a room (for let's say, a 5 1/2 days) and had to listen to either Boston, "Boston" or Steely Dan, "Can't Buy a Thrill" on repeat, which would you choose?

Case closed.

Jimbromski said...

You just randomly wrote your dog's name in the beginning of this comment.

Your honor and gentlemen and women of the jury, can we trust this man on anything?

"I declare a bad trial thingy"

Lionel Hutz

sacklunch said...

Re: The Misfits v. Steely Dan

Even though I am in the pro-Steely Dan camp, I would have to go with "Die Die My Darling" over "Do It Again" any day of the week...

sacklunch said...

Typing error. Unfortunately, I can't edit the comments. Jumboslician.

Anonymous said...

For the record, Steely Dan is not my "favorite band ever." But their music stomps a mudhole in Boston.

Anonymous said...

Love you boys, but with the wrongheaded notions about Steely Dan, I might need to reconsider...

I can't say what hasn't been said more artfully (or in-artfully as in a few of the comments). But count me in the Steely Dan camp. Fun fact here, McCain was once in an SNL skit where he played a slightly loopy high school teacher with a penchant for SD. I'm not a McCain fan, but it's worth doing a youtube search for.

Jimbromski said...

"stomps a mudhole", that's a good expression

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FingerNail said...

Steely Dan over all has more music talent than Boston within the same time periods. Sorry Boston fans, Boston is a kick ass rocker group, but the depth of their music just dosnet measure up to that of Dan.