Saturday, August 13, 2011

Photo Happenings and the Five Worst Guitar Tones in History

Hello everyone.

In case you haven't noticed, I've been changing some things around here on my blog.  I feel like I'm still getting back into the swing of things, blogging-wise, and so I have to admit this blog is a mess in terms of consistency in subject right now.  That's one of the problems with having lots of interests, I guess.  So far splitting topics up into their own sections seems to be working okay, although sometimes it's difficult to narrow my thoughts down to one subject.  Such is life.  Anyway, I might play around with changing the formatting, colors, font, etc. until something "sticks."  I realize all both my readers are savvy enough to follow along without any trouble, so I ain't worried.

Also, Blogger changed their post editor while I was on hiatus from blogging, and while the new program seems to be intuitive and better than the old one, I'm still getting used to it, so I'll apologize in advance if the formatting looks shabby for a while.  I'll be a pro at this in no time.

I've added a banner ad to the top of the page and moved the rectangular one to the bottom of each post.  That way it's not annoyingly at the beginning of each post like before.  Also, there are now two opportunities for people to click on them, which I hope will happen a lot, though for the record I'm not encouraging anyone to do so.  As mentioned in a previous post, I'm prohibited from doing such a thing.  However, I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to mention that the ads are the only way I'm going to be able to make a living at writing until I finish my book and it (hopefully) gets published.  Anyway, if you don't see the ads, you're probably running something like Mozilla Firefox with AdBlockPlus, which is what I usually use to browse the internets, just like the good hypocrite I am.  You should use ad blocking software on other sites, just not this one.

Rob Happenings

I decided to change the heading for this section from "Personal" to "Rob Happenings."  I realize that people might not give a shit about what's going on in my life, and I respect that.  The point of having a heading was to break subjects up and make it easier for people to skip on past.  But calling it "Personal" wasn't very accurate because I was blogging about stuff going on in my life, but really not anything of a personal nature.  This is a public blog.  You'll have to do some serious digging if you want to find out about any of my skeletons. 

Anyway, I had a great time yesterday at our friend Michelle's family ranch.  She and her husband and kids were up visiting from Texas, and her family owns a gorgeous (and huge) ranch tucked away in a valley to the north.  We spent several hours taking photos of the property and Michelle and her family, and Cathy unsurprisingly got some great shots.  This was actually Cathy's third or fourth time taking photos up there over the past couple weeks.  Yesterday, I managed to get lucky and shoot a few keepers, but with a piece of property that beautiful, you can basically point the camera in any direction and wind up with a great shot.  Most of the time I just follow behind Cathy and do what she does.  Yesterday I didn't have to.

I have to say it felt great to take photos.  It's something I hadn't done in a few months, and I didn't realize how much I missed it.  Anyway, we'll have some up soon at Out There Photography's website which I'll plug right here:  Do yourself a favor and check back there periodically to see the photos.


The other day when I was working on my novel, I was writing a scene where I wanted to have music playing in the background.  But not just any music.  This music needed to have an annoyingly bad guitar tone.  I thought of several songs that would fit the bill, and ultimately the one I chose to go with had less to do with the annoyance level than with other story considerations.  But I thought the concept of bad guitar tones would make for a great thing to discuss here on this blog, so without further ado, here is my list of...  

The Five Worst Guitar Tones in History

To be clear: I'm not talking about the song writing or musicianship of the guitar players, which are both far superior to anything I could churn out.  Rather, I'm focusing on the guitar tone each used on the recording, which has nothing to do with skill or ability, but is all about taste, or lack thereof.  Each of the guitarists here made the conscious decision of making their guitar tones sound the way they did, and I can only assume it's the result of too much cocaine or the encouragement of some out of touch record company executive who might have been better suited to a job selling insurance.  Let's get to the list.

Dishonorable Mention: Peter Frampton, "Do You Feel Like We Do"

The guitar tone throughout the beginning and end of the song is actually kinda tasteful.  The problem is Frampton busts out the stupid talk box in the middle.  "Look, I can talk through my guitar!  It's the same uninspired lyrics I sing over and over again throughout the song, but now it sounds like a guitar!"  If I could sum up this idiotic vocal/guitar effect in just one word, it would be "gimmick."  Guitar-ish sounding vocals might be an easy way to earn some quick notoriety, but by about the 378th play on the classic rock radio station, it just sounds dumb.  There's a reason why no one else does it, and that's why Peter earns a dishonorable mention here.

5: Boston, "Don't Look Back"

I probably could have used any Boston song, since they all sound the same. But this is the only one I could think of by name. Guitarist Tom Scholz, who has a Master's in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, designed his own effects and amps to achieve the sound he wanted, proving taste is not something that can be taught by college professors.  After Boston became famous, Scholz started his own amp and effects company until it finally went out of business during the 90s.  Apparently, the elusive "let's piss off the roommate" demographic isn't big enough to sustain a company.  Listening to this song actually hurts my teeth.

4: Bon Jovi, "Livin' on a Prayer"


Every time I hear Richie Sambora's guitar intro in this song, I'm immediately transported back to seventh grade. And that's not necessarily a good thing. True, there were some great things about being twelve years old, but the music definitely wasn't one of them. I never liked Bon Jovi--I was probably the only one in my whole school who didn't--but I couldn't escape hearing this song and "You Give Love a Bad Name" on a seemingly hourly basis until Guns N' Roses came along two years later. It seemed everybody in my class not only had Slippery When Wet on cassette, but they carried it with them at all times. I think they must have handed out a copy to each kid at school one day. Fortunately, I was absent that day.

3: Yes, "Owner of a Lonely Heart"

Steve Howe earned a whole lot of accolades during the 1970s for his guitar work with the progressive rock band Yes. But by the 80s, Howe was gone and replaced by a guy named Trevor Rabin. I think the new guy realized he sucked compared to Howe, so he overcompensated with tons of effects.  The result is a guitar intro that sounds a lot like my neighbor's leaf blower. I'm aware that "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was a big hit during the 80s, but you have to remember this was the decade that also brought us minivans, parachute pants, and Kirk Cameron.

2: Survivor, "Eye of the Tiger"

I can't listen to this song without thinking of Rocky III. Actually, I can't listen to this song at all, at least not all the way through. It's terrible. The video is even worse, but if you mute the sound, it's kinda funny. Aside from that, everything about this song is awful, the least of which is the guitar tone. It sounds like an old lady with emphysema trying to clear her throat. And that's being generous.

1: Toto, "Hold the Line"

You know, I've always wondered what it would sound like if someone took a cheese grater to my ear, and I think I have a pretty good idea now.  What would prompt someone to make their guitar sound like a swarm of retarded bees?  Perhaps the guitarist was trying to be as annoying as possible in order to distract from the ridiculous warbling of the singer.  What a mess.  But I suppose that's to be expected from a band that took its name from the dog in The Wizard of Oz.  Fail.

In Closing

If you're thinking about getting me a present, here's a not-so-subtle hint:



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

ya rock rob love readingurblog. hope u and cathy are great!!hugs to u both. raylynn

7:14 PM, August 13, 2011  
Blogger Rob said...

Thanks Raylynn!

7:22 PM, August 13, 2011  
Blogger Nikki said...

Garrett is highly offended - Eye of the Tiger is his favorite song. I only let him listen to it at daycare.

8:59 PM, August 13, 2011  
Blogger Rob said...

Nikki, don't be alarmed. If it's still his favorite song ten years from now, then you should start worrying.

9:23 PM, August 13, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved your take on the various gruesome guitars and actually snorted about your Bon Jovi aversion. I, too, am instantly transported back to the dingy, grey halls of good old PR Jr. High whenever I hear a Whitesnake or Bon Jovi song on the radio.
Thanks for the laugh!

6:58 AM, August 17, 2011  

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