"I mean this guy's a real moron. He doesn't even understand fashion."
Jane's Addiction, Classic Girl EP/
"Does anybody remember laughter?"
Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains the Same
"If you like to see beautiful girls driving fast sports cars and breaking joculatory-type he-men men's spines. Boo!"
Cramps, Smell of Female
"Am I buggin' ya? Didn't mean to bug ya."
U2, Rattle and Hum
"If there was ever a musician who was an honorary member of San Francisco society ...."
Peter Frampton, Frampton Comes Alive
"We've forgotten Billy Preston."
George Harrison, Concert for Bangladesh
"I think I busted a button on my trousers. Hope they don't fall down. You don't want my trousers to fall down now, do ya?"
Rolling Stones, Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!
"This is the first song off our new album."
Cheap Trick, At Budokan/Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
"This is a song about a Welsh witch."
Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac Live
"We're not doin' it for the money. I'm doin' it for you people because I love you."
The Damned, Another Damned
"I guarantee you I will screw this song up."
Nirvana, MTV Unplugged in New York
"When I say Diedra's a slag, you say, 'Slag, slag, slag.' "
Toy Dolls, 22 Tunes From Tokyo
"This one is the latest uh ... the title track to our latest album I should say .... This is uh ... what? This is called 'Another Per-fect Hangover.' "
Motsrhead, King Biscuit Flower Hour
"We'd like to play three selected hit singles -- the three easiest."
The Who, Live at Leeds (reissue)
"Tired, so tired, tired of listening to gossip."
Bauhaus, Press the Eject and Give Me
"This part's real simple: 'Wa do dig, wa do dig.' 'Cause anyone can make a record, ya know."
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Royal Albert Hall Concert (aka The Concert)
"C'mon. Get in time with us."
Loggins & Messina, On Stage
"There's nothing wrong with being fat is there? No!"
Bad Manners, Dance Craze
"Oh here it goes again. As soon as he starts talkin' about sex, he starts talkin' about Nietzsche."
NoMeansNo, Live and Cuddly
"I want everything a little louder than everything else."
Deep Purple, Made in Japan
"For the record, we never broke up. We just took a 14-year vacation."
The Eagles, Hell Freezes Over
The Greatest Voice of the 20th Century The first half of Bob Dylan's show in San Jose last week -- you know, the one that had Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell as opening acts -- combined with the passing of Frank Sinatra, whose albums we've been listening to lately, reminded us of a lot of things: why we like Dylan, why we don't like Sinatra, and how cool rock 'n' roll can be. Frank Sinatra made a lot of halfway pleasurable music over his career (we don't even mind "New York, New York"), but as we listened we kept thinking that he just didn't have much taste. Even taking into account the fact that these tracks were recorded many years ago, what passes for subtlety on them struck us as a little obvious, and all that talk about phrasing and so forth in the obituaries is basically a nice way of saying his delivery was stentorian and overwrought. And leaving aside his icky personal life, we don't like what all that bombast came in the service of. Like Playboy, like all those commercials that make gambling seem glamorous, and like every emotionally stunted would-be ladies' man, Sinatra's mission was to romanticize the life of the aging barfly in order to make a lot of money. (And for him it worked pretty well.) Now let's look at Dylan: In a career that has extended now for more than 35-plus years, he has never told his audience what they wanted to hear. He's canny, sure, has made a lot of money, and has done some dubious stuff (like selling the occasional song for use in a commercial). But when he sings, the resonances are as complex and deep as Sinatra's, and he puts them solely at the service of his extraordinary songs. Here's an example: We've always thought "Just Like a Woman" was a bit flawed, both because of its overall harshness and the heavy-handedness of the chorus ("... and she breaks just like a little girl"). But its melodies still sing in our ears, and a lot of its pop poetry -- "her fog, her amphetamines, and her pearls" -- is still alluring. But take the song's key line; Dylan sang it originally like this: "She fine-ly sees/ That she's like all the rest." Thirty years on, he sings it much differently: The gloating, strident rhythm is gone, and he breaks the line another way: "She sees finally that/ She's like all the rest," with "finally that" almost in falsetto, a melodic fillip of regret and compassion. It's so easy to be a star -- easy to lapse into the grinning glad-handing and never come out, the way Sinatra and so many other stars have; it's so much harder -- and it takes a much higher psychic toll -- to be true to a voice inside and spend your life trying to communicate it faithfully, whether people listen or not. That's what Dylan did, and in the process challenged -- and changed, arguably for the better -- a generation. As the San Jose show reminded us, Dylan's journey rigors on to this day; indeed, it reminded us that the songs of his we like best are the ones that feature journeys. A guy gets up, goes out, and comes back: That's the deceptively simple precis of some of the most elaborate and complex songs in history: "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," "Tangled Up in Blue," "Isis," many more. Dylan's latter-day career has kept him on buses almost uninterruptedly for the last 10 years; over the course of the dozen or so shows we've attended since 1978 we've seen more careless, irritating performances than we'd like to remember. But we keep going for this reason: Frank Sinatra died a long way from home. Dylan, whenever his never-ending tour comes to an end, will be at a place much different -- he'll be somewhere quite close to the uncompromising, clangorous, promising place he started. (B.W.)
It's a Benefit Tonight, Wednesday, May 27, at the Bottom of the Hill, KUSF staffers honor former Program Director Jason Knuth, who took his own life three months ago. The college radio station plans a show featuring some of Knuth's favorite local bands, including Pistel (with Mark Pistel of Consolidated), Beak, Three Day Stubble, and Queen Cobra. The $6 ticket proceeds will go to Knuth's family. Knuth's KUSF family isn't the only group that's helping the cause. Sonic Youth, whom Knuth loved dearly, will be releasing a limited-edition memorial CD. Profits will benefit a local suicide-prevention outfit in his name. (J.S.)
Stay Evil!! Now With Two Exclamation Points The band formerly known as Lechers! will now be formally known as !Evils! "We make no apologies and give no reasons for this change, it's simply what we are going to do," reads the group's May communique. "As always, we are disgusted by so-called alternative rock and we'll do everything possible to keep the spirit of rebel rock and roll alive and entertain you in the process." (J.D.P.)
Folk Implosion If you like whistles, toe taps, accordion music, and incomprehensible yet beautiful vocal arrangements, don't miss Berkeley-based Savina Women's Folk Choir as they say goodbye at a farewell concert at Noe Valley Ministry on Saturday, May 30. The 11-woman collective has been singing Eastern European folk songs for 17 years, but has recently decided to disband because their director, Susan Mintz, is retiring. (J.D.P.)
Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), Heather Wisner (H.W.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to email@example.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.