The following is an edited transcript of a chat with readers Friday by Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers.
Q: Reading biography of John Gotti. An associate suggested Gotti get into music business . Gotti said “That’s too tough a business.” Wonder what he meant ?
JM: I know what he meant. The music business eats its young alive. It is cruel and heartless and run by thugs who wear silk shirts.
Q: Did you see SNL last week? Not a fan of Gaga or any current Top 40 pop I guess but she did a killer performance on her second song. She can really belt it out, also played some acoustic guitar and piano on the song. I was impressed!
JM: She’s talented, certainly. I have trouble forming an emotional connection to what she’s doing. For me, she’s no Kate Bush, or Bjork, or even M.I.A. But I do give her props.
Q: Black Sabbath has come to Toronto, now will be coming to Hamilton and London, Ont. What gives? No Buffalo love? Same thing with sir Elton John. He just played in Erie, Pa., of all places and then Toronto. Buffalo is in between all of these places. Just seems strange.
JM: It’s weird, because both would sell out here.
Q: Opinion on the new U2 from the “Mandela” soundtrack? Probably the most interesting thing they’ve done in awhile.
JM: It whets my appetite for the forthcoming album. However, I thought that several tunes from “No Line On the Horizon” were incredibly compelling. It’s just that they were surrounded by the more glitzy, “Put On Your Boots”-type fare.
Q: Just finished reading Slash’s autobiography. I can’t believe how Guns N’ Roses became so huge and then imploded so quickly. The fact that Dave Navarro was about to join the band when Izzy Stradlin left blew my mind. Also, I know it’s only one side of the story, but Axl Rose ruined what could have been an awesome band.
JM: Slash’s side of the story is corroborated by every single other account I’ve read, including Duff McKagan’s book, which was a great read. It just seems that Axl is … um … lacking in people skills?
Q: If this were Critics’ Corner, I could ask you which of the JFK books or movies you would recommend.
JM: “Rush to Judgment.” Oliver Stone’s “JFK.”
Q: It’s heresy to even suggest this to many folks in this town, but did the Goo Goo Dolls sell out?
JM: Well, that argument has certainly been made. I mean, it’s not like they sound like they did on “Jed” any more, right?
Q: Speaking of U2 I would love to see them do a show where they do albums front-to-back. I know it’s become cliche but what I’d give to hear “Pop” or “Zooropa,” there’s some amazing songs on those records, but terrible singles choices on both as well.
JM: I’ve been saying this for years, and I’ve been laughed at repeatedly, but I still think “Pop” was a (slightly flawed) masterpiece of an album. Very brave, and ahead of its time. And as much as I’ve loved a lot of what U2 has done since, “Pop” is the last time they sounded dangerous to me.
Q: You think SNL gave a big boost to many bands?
JM: I do. But strangely, it didn’t really do much for the Tragically Hip in America. I really thought that being on SNL was going to make them huge outside of Canada.
Q: Wayne Shorter was pure joy last night.
JM: One of the greatest living, if not THE greatest living.
Q: Do you like the band Blackberry Smoke? What album(s) of theirs would you recommend? I was trying to describe them to a friend of mine but got stuck on “Southern-ish rock with Jamey Johnson vocals.” What should I have told him?
JM: I think the way you described them to your friend is spot on!
Q: Did Ravi Shankar impress you?
JM: Yes. Incredible! Of course, I feel like a tourist, picking up little bits of what he did and assimilating them into a western rock thing. It’s disrespectful, in a way, though not meant to be. Indian Classical music is such a way of life and a discipline, and I have endless respect for it.
Q: Are you a fan of Meat Loaf (the band)?
JM: Meat Loaf has always made me cringe. It packs in everything I dislike about both Broadway musicals and pompous pop-rock. Interesting, since “Bat out of Hell” producer Todd Rundgren is a hero of mine.
Q: Night before thanksgiving at The Hotel Lafayette looks like its going to be a great time … four or five rooms with good music.
JM: Yes, that sounds like it can’t miss!! Ambitious undertaking! Reminds me of the old days at the Adventure Club!
Q: In “The Last Waltz,” one of The Band members said he enjoyed being on the road . I wonder if this is a rare or common opinion?
JM: I guess it really depends on the personality type. It’s not for everyone. Particularly people with families. Or problems with substances.
Q: Some of the NCAA marching bands are amazing. I wonder if they are all music students or is it open to all students. Ability to move and play is quite an art you think?
JM: Yes, absolutely.
Q: 20th anniversary of “Definitely Maybe …”. Is Oasis in the Top 10 best British bands ever?
JM: No way! Top 100, maybe.
JM: In fact, I take that back. Top 250.
Q: I’m sick of everyone hating on cover bands. (I play in cover and original bands). I too would like to see more original music in the clubs, but when the owners stop booking cover bands, they aren’t replacing them with original bands. They replace them with the jukebox. And that means 3-5 musicians without a gig and one less option for live music.
JM: Good point.
Q: Halftime at the CFL Grey Cup: Sheepdogs, Hedley and Serena Ryder perform. You familiar with any of those groups?
JM: Yes, all of them. That’s a pretty cool half-time!
Q: 45th anniversary of the release of The Beatles White Album today. What rank would you give it among their releases? What’s your favorite track from it?
JM: I place it third. After “Abbey Road” and “Revolver” and ahead of Sgt. Pepper. My favorites … and this is tough … are Dear Prudence, Julia, Helter Skelter, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
Q: “Camelot” was JFK’s favorite musical. What is yours?
JM: “West Side Story.”
Q: Musical guilty pleasure?
JM: AM Gold! Gerry Rafferty, 10cc, Eric Carmen, and so forth. Seems like the pop I heard on transistor radios as a little kid stuck in my brain. It was well-crafted stuff.
Got a question for Jeff Miers? Visit his Friday live chats at buffalonews.com.