by Fred Mills
“No hairstyle has quite attracted the fascination than the Mullet has, short in the front, long in the back, [a] bi-level phenomenon,” writes liner notesman (and co-author of the 2002 book The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods) Barney Hoskyns, who sagely adds, “What is often forgotten is that Mulletheads have peerless musical taste.” Don’t believe him? This “anthology of stonking hard rockers from the ’70s and ’80s” will put you straight.
Sure, some of the two-disc set is what puts said “taste” seriously into question. Billy Squier’s “The Stroke” hasn’t grown any less annoying with age, while Rick Derringer’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” has grown more so. (Shoot on sight any adult not of African-American persuasion and deploying a strict 12-bar progression who utters the word “hoochie.”) Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son” pretty much killed off the chances for a cappella musical stylings ever to be taken seriously in a rock context, and there’s simply no justification for ever cueing up any Journey song (here, the poop-chute celebration “Any Way You Want It”) unless you’re trying to get into the pants of that hairdresser you met down at Bubba’s Billiards ’n’ Bubbles.
Elsewhere, however, it’s impossible to get around the timelessness of, say, the cowbell clank that jumpstarts Grand Funk’s “We’re An American Band,” the volcanic riff that powers Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” the fuck-Vince Neil-I’m-Cub Koda crunch of Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ In The Boys Room” or the alliteratively fulsome b-b-b-boogie beat of George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone.” Me, I’m also a sucker for that T. Rex intro for The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress),” no matter that the tune single-handedly made it cool for half my senior class in high school to turn narc. And the indelible visual image I get of Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze doing a male strip job on SNL whenever Loverboy’s “Working For The Weekend” spins is rather compelling in its own right.
You, of course, will have your own guilty pleasures nestled somewhere amongst these 35 dusty jewels. But really, if we’re to accept that rock ’n’ roll isn’t totally devoid of aesthetics, shouldn’t that assumption extend to its fans as well? I ask you, fair readers: Who would you rather be seen with out in public, some fat hulking mook with a shaved head and an Anton LeVay goatee, or a Joe Dirt lookalike who, while admittedly not your first choice as a date, at least won’t frighten the members of your dining party before they’ve even had a chance to extract their napkins from the aluminum tabletop dispenser? As the saying goes, don’t bother knockin’ if the double-wide’s a-rockin’!
E-mail Fred Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org.