Got The Fever

Friday, June 15, 2007

Argent

We never stumble onto all the music we come to cherish completely on our own. There are many influences and events that collide together which provide us with the depth and richness of our personal musical catalogues. There are countless others who have given us a gift by turning us on to a certain track or a certain band and we are the better for it. Or, perhaps we are turned on to something completely new.

I mean "new" as in new to us at least at that time or moment that we hadn't heard before. It could be something just released, something from our parent’s youth, something that was regional, something from across the pond, or something from a friend’s youth. Indeed, it was an older friend of mine who first turned me on to the Argent catalog. This friend was INTO Argent. Looking back I can say in retrospect that it was probably my first deep entry into progressive rock. I say probably, because I can’t be certain. Around the time that Argent were big (well, was Argent ever really big?), there were so many other artists in the same vein, such as Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Focus and Gentle Giant just to name a few. I'll give you the Readers Digest version of Argent: Out of the ashes of The Zombies, Ron Argent formed his new band along with guitarist/composer Russ Ballard and a few others.

These guys have a special place on my shelf because of that friend long ago. I’m happy that I knew him and that I know Argent because of him. And yes, of course, in turn, I have awakened others to what I had passed to me. Nothing so different than what readers of Got The Fever do to their friends – only now, we have Blogs to pay it forward!

Liar
Written by Ballard, this was also covered in great fashion, and was a hit, by Three Dog Night. However, the howl of despair at being betrayed has never been performed more desperately and with such bitterness as this original version. A brilliant, rumbling, haunting guitar riff throughout sustains the misery and help bridge us into the shouting of the one word that it all boils down to: ‘Liar!’

Pay particular attention to Ron and his solo at around 1’00, which begins sparsely, and then feel his direction shift as he expertly bangs the ivories into quick, on its back, willing submission. Ballard’s turn out front at 2’14 is subdued and subtle, yet belies a smoldering, bubbling anger beneath.


You’ve taken my life – so take my soul
That’s what you said – and I believed it all
I want to be with you, long as you want me to
I won’t move away

Ain’t that what you said?
Ain’t that what you said?
Ain’t that what you said?

Liar!

God Gave Rock And Roll To You
This is one of only a handful of songs about rock and roll that gives it reverence, and admits that it’s a gift and an honor to be playing – and making a living – by playing it. The a cappella break is touching and heartfelt, the Hammond organ swells are majestic, the acoustic guitar playing almost classical in places, and the lead guitar smacks as an almost certain influence on later Queen.

It’s been covered a few times, but no cover has came close to the original.

If you wanna be a singer or play guitar
Man you gotta sweat or you won’t get far
Cuz it’s never too late to work 9 to 5
And if you’re young then you’ll never grow old
Music can make your dreams unfold
How good it feels to be alive!

God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you

Saved rock and roll for everyone

Hold Your Head Up
Give me the name of a song that defines a certain time in your life – possibly a whole season. Keeping that in mind, give me the name of a song that causes you to gasp quickly when you hear the very first note – a recognition long before anyone else in the room has even begun to formulate a clue.

For me, it’s this track. It was Argent’s biggest (and only?) hit.

From the very first pulse of life with the bass/organ commanding control of the atmosphere around the fully aroused speakers, this has got you by the short and curlies. Anyone that love a bit of organ just about damn near swoons when they hear Ron and his gifted hands willing the beast to purr or roar on demand.

The single version was never enough for me and it always seemed a cheapening and a robbery of the true spirit of the song. Here it is in all of its splendid full-length glory.

And if they stare
Just let them burn their eyes on you moving
And if they shout
Don't let it change a thing that you're doing

Hold your head up,
Hold your head high


I remember that as a kid, after being turned on to Argent by that long ago friend, I used to lie in my room on the floor, speaker on either side of my head, and begin the march toward degrees of deafness with this burrowing my ears, reading the cover over and over. I don’t do that anymore. I’m an adult.

Now, I have expensive earphones that cause much greater damage in a shorter amount of time, and I need to wear non-prescription glasses that magnify in order to read the CD notes.

Plus, I don’t have to worry about Mom spot-checking me by smelling my breath for alcohol while I listened to Argent. Just my wife.

Liar (21)
God Gave Rock And Roll To You (22)
Hold Your Head Up (17)

From: Argent: Anthology

Addendum:
I want to thank tgrundy over at RIBS for turning me on to a site that included one of the albums from my wish list that I have listed on the right side of this blog as “What I’m (Unsuccessfully) Searching For”. He found me a "Chairman Of The Board" greatest hits!

If anyone can turn my nose toward any of the others, please do get in touch with me. I truly appreciate it.

9 Comments:

  • This was a great post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    I'd never heard Argent's version of "Liar"...just by 3 dog...anyway...I definitely like the...heavier...tone to the song.
    Props!

    By Blogger Casey, at 1:04 PM  

  • KISS covered "God Gave Rock and Roll To You." Not quite as understated as this, obviously.

    By Anonymous Jeff, at 1:58 AM  

  • Casey - glad you were turned on to something new here. Kinda shows the point, eh? I have to say that although I really love the TDN version (and play guitar along with it on occassion), I prefer Argent's version. I feel that the pain, the phrasing Ballard has, lends itself well to the whole intention of the song.

    Thanks anonymous for the Kiss cover - yea, they covered it for 'Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey' or whatever the name of the second in that series was. I believe it was also covered by ?Pantera?. Too lazy to check on Google. But, in my opinion, not even close to the majesty and truimph of Argent's original.

    By Blogger wzjn, at 6:50 AM  

  • Was Argent big? Never superhuge, but "Hold Your Head Up" reached No. 5, and they opened for the Doobie Brothers on a spring 1972 tour. I saw them in the old Minneapolis Auditorium. (I imagine they must have headlined sometime!) Depends on your definition of "big," I guess, but that and a string of more than a half a dozen albums, well, far better than most.

    By Blogger whiteray, at 12:08 AM  

  • Forgot to say, Thanks for the "Liar." I'm very interested to dig into it for a few listens, see how it plays today!

    By Blogger whiteray, at 12:10 AM  

  • whiteray - yea, see your point - anyone with six albums had to have been at least big enough for the labels to be earning some kind of profit through the fans. But, I'm grateful they were at least that big - they left a great catalog for me to go through once in a while! Let me know how you like that 'Liar' track.

    By Blogger wzjn, at 2:11 PM  

  • I dunno . . . "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" always sounds a little Spinal-Tap to me. But "Hold Your Head Up" is superb, and I'm looking forward to hearing their version of "Liar," as the Three Dog Night version of that is a fave of mine.

    By Anonymous jb, at 9:33 PM  

  • Argent was the first band I saw live, either 72 or 73. Went with a few friends and we all managed to get in for nothing. Hey!, we thought, this live music lark is great - loud music, and it's free.
    That was the one and only time we successfully gatecrashed.

    By Blogger Darcy, at 7:20 PM  

  • We have to admit that music can influence people. 70s and 80s are the best examples of it.

    By Anonymous pharmacy, at 1:15 PM  

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