Saturday, January 14, 2017

10 Best Shoegazer Albums (From NME)

It's arguable of some of these albums listed upon here.  But I look at this with suspicion.
In the early 1990s, the UK brought us something with lots of feedback laden guitar and softspoken vocals, usually from the female side of things.  But I don't think the New Music Express did a throughout  job in compiling this ten best of.  First of all, they give too much credit to Slowdive, which I heard two albums and got bored to death with.

Here's what NME went with.

  1. Slowdive – ‘Just For A Day’ (1991)

It sounds crazy now, but in 1991 you’d have been laughed out of any student bar in the country for liking Slowdive. ‘Just For A Day’ was considered the epitome of drippy, empty, anaemic home counties mithering, made specifically for bedwetters, virgins and vegans who were too scared to be goths. Now, twenty-five years after it made Richey Manic declare that he hated Slowdive more than Hitler, its recognised as the slab of ghost-ridden gorgeousness it always was. Taking cues as much from The Cure and The Cocteau Twins as much as contemporaries like Chapterhouse and Ride, it merged glacial indie atmospherics with Celtic mysticism, canyon balladry and opiated melodies like ‘The Sadman’. Perfect for sinking sweetly into an overdose.

  1. The Verve – ‘A Storm In Heaven’ (1993)

Back when ‘Urban Hymns’ was merely their accountant’s wildest fantasy, Richard Ashcroft piloted a space rock behemoth called simply ‘Verve’ and ‘A Strom In Heaven’ was their impression of a brimstone blues wrecking ball demolishing the sonic cathedral. Rather than spectral sonic echoes, this was music caught in intergalactic winds, roaring through wormholes and battering at God’s windows. If shoegaze ever looked up, ripped open its shirt and howled into approaching traffic, it was here.

  1. The Radio Dept. – ‘Lesser Matters’ (2003)

With nods to Nothing, A Place To Bury Strangers, early M83, Deerhunter, Blond Redhead and Cheatahs, the nu-gaze revival deserves its own separate list. But arguably the record that kicked (or should that be ‘shuffled’?) the revival off, ‘Lesser Matters’ – the debut from Swedish fuzz fondlers The Radio Dept. – remains one of the few next-gen shoegaze records capable of holding its own amongst the lexicon of wobbly greats. Swapping copious scree pedals for touches of electronica, it remapped shoegazing’s sonic otherworld for the 21st Century by sounding like the sort of electro gig that, previously, only Derek Acorah could hear.

  1. The Boo Radleys – ‘Everything’s Alright Forever’ (1992)

The Boo Radleys’ acknowledged masterpiece – 1993’s ‘Giant Steps’, containing the decade-demolishing ‘Lazarus’ – was too much of a shift towards their mid-90s psych-pop incarnation to be allowed to do its dubby skank along shoegaze’s top table. That record belongs in Albums Of The Decade lists, whereas their previous record ‘Everything’s Alright Forever’ was perfectly placed to encapsulate the full shoegaze vista, from the fouled beauty of ‘Loveless’ to the oceanic swells of ‘Nowhere’ and the scorched grunge of early Teenage Fanclub. Plus, Martin Carr’s blood pumped with the Merseyside gene, so ‘Everything’s Alright Forever’ swarmed with the sort of half-buried pop melodies that many shoegaze bands lost in the gaps between their effects pedals.

  1. Ride – ‘Going Blank Again’ (1992)

As if Ride heard ‘Loveless’ and knew the game was up in terms of screwing around with the possibilities of guitar, then watched Newman And Baddiel mock them as dozy dullards on The Mary Whitehouse Experience and realised they needed to be less wet and wafty, for their second album scene pioneers Ride simply turned the volume up to ‘Gas Giant’ and set about writing some of the most gargantuan funk, rock and pop tunes of the 90s. ‘Twistarella’ – their own ‘Friday I’m In Love’ – and ‘Leave Them All Behind’ propelled shoegazing into a grander melodic sphere, while ‘OX4’ was reportedly classified as a planet in its own right by NASA, until the drugs wore off.

  1. Ride – ‘Nowhere’ (1990)

Ride’s debut, of course, set the shoe blueprint: warping squalls of guitar, post-baggy psychedelia and blank vocal harmonies muffled by fringe. From the frenetic opening ‘Seagull’, akin to an utterly emotionless ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, ‘Nowhere’ expanded into hitherto uncharted oceans of sound, such as when ‘Polar Bear’ reimagines Bowie’s ‘”Heroes”’ as an ever-looping acid trip about flying girlfriends. Startling on first release, the vitality to ‘Nowhere’ transcends the shoegaze cliché to this day.

  1. My Bloody Valentine – ‘Isn’t Anything’ (1988)

If ‘Nowhere’ was the shoegaze blueprint, ‘Isn’t Anything’ was its Big Bang. Crushing the core influences of The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Cure, The Cocteau Twins, Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3, The Velvet Underground and Wire into a white hot ball of weird, Kevin Shields fused a new form of musical plasma that splattered messily across My Bloody Valentine’s full-length debut in its unrefined form. Tenderised, elastic guitar notes bent around gloriously awkward pop tunes prone to bouts of sudden manic punk thrashing and twisting-in-bedsheets narcolepsy. It was the 80s indie version of Picasso chucking his entire palette against the wall and going “copy that”.

  1. Slowdive – ‘Souvlaki’ (1993)

The 21st Century rehabilitation of Slowdive’s reputation is largely down to the lingering echoes from their second album ‘Souvlaki’. Criminally ridiculed in 1993 amid the Britpop fanfare, for over twenty years it hung around like a rather lovely smell until today it’s seen as the defining statement of this self-celebratory scene thanks to Neil Halstead’s desolate lyrics – he’d recently split from singer Rachel Goswell – and lustrous tunes like ‘Machine Gun’ sounding less lost in the (p)haze. Sessions with Brian Eno also inspired songwriter Halstead to discover dub, ambient and Aphex Twin albums, helping him do the impossible – give mist an edge.

  1. Spiritualized – ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’ (1992)

As a root influence on the movement with Spacemen 3, Jason Pierce was surfing the solar winds long before shoegazing came along. So his first album with Spiritualized, while only distantly connected to the scene, showed all of these home counties wannabes how to study their sneakers in style. Narcotic dream-pop and intergalactic rock drifted across this double disc like celestial bodies waltzing. If Kubrick rocked…

  1. My Bloody Valentine – ‘Loveless’ (1991)

The daddy. While everyone else had their head down trying to fathom out the monstrous sounds MBV had gifted them, Kevin Shields was busy making them all redundant. Okay, so it took him three years, an army of engineers, 19 studios, most of Alan McGee’s bank account and enough weed to kill a Kraken, but he emerged with a record of such inventive, heart-twisting beauty and violence that it remains unmatched in experimental guitar music to this day. Sampled feedback, bending chords, melodies like sunbursts, tectonic shifts, tsunamis and apocalypses; the revelation of ‘Loveless’ was that it’s beauty came from sounding how music simply shouldn’t – this writer recalls playing it to a couple of record producers who both lay on the floor hyperventilating when they realised my stereo wasn’t broken. ‘Loveless’ may have killed off shoegaze, but it’s also the reason it’s alive today.
Now that you read this far. I tend to disagree with the Souviaki, the snooze fest  and anything Spiritzalized as well.   Crabby's Picks of Top Shoegazer albums are (in particular order since numbering them 1 to 10 is pointless and my taste changes every time out.

The Catherine Wheel-Ferment (Fontana 1992)

Before they deteriorated into alternative pop metal, Rob Dickinson managed to configure the wall of noise into something listenable and Black Metallic remains the best overall shoegazer song, with gobs of echo, gobs of Husker Du like guitar buzz and Dickinson's vocals buried in the background.  Catherine Wheel might have had better selling albums but Ferment remains their best overall.  And that's not going to ever change since they broken up after the flop Wishville album.

The Jesus And Mary Chain-Darklands (Warner Brothers 1987)
The Jesus And Mary Chain-Psychocandy (Warner Music UK 1985)

Psychocandy might have been critically acclaimed better but the solemn and subdued second album was easier on the ears. 

Lush-Gala (4AD 1990)
Their albums were spotty even on good days but this record compiles their 3 EPs into one nifty overview, with two versions of Thought Patterns included.  Lush never seemed to get the credit due to them unlike the Choctau Twins.

My Bloody Valentine-Loveless (Creation/Sire 1991)
My Bloody Valentine Isn't Anything (Relativity 1988) 
Given a choice between Isn't Everything or Loveless, I chose the latter of the album closer Soon, which is pretty hypnotic before Kevin Sheild's feedback laden guitar rips into place.  Loveless didn't kill Shoegaze according to rumor, Nevermind and grunge did and not for the better.

Ride-Going Blank Again (Creation/Sire 1992)
Ride-Smile (Creation/Sire 1991)
Ride-Nowhere (Creation/Sire 1990)
Like Lush, Ride had an album compiled of EPs and B sides (Smile) which is worth seeking out and Nowhere is a fun "ride" so to speak, but Going Blank Again starts out with the 8 Minute Leave them All Behind and then Twisterilla, which managed to sneak into the Power Pop Hits of the 1990s on Rhino.  Kids in the midwest didn't buy this, I got mine as a cutout for 3.88 when Camelot was in town and in the mall.  Certainly MBV Loveless might have been an influence but there's also a Hawkwind sound too.  Ride lost focus on the next album and 1996's Tarantula was more classic rock than shoe gaze and I still like 20 years after the fact.  The boys have reunited, like Lush and have a new album in the can.

Blur-Leisure (Food 1991)
Before they became UK working class stiffs with Park Life and then Pavement indee rockers with the self titled album, Leisure found them playing around the showgaze sound with songs like There's No Other Way  and She's So High.  Blur has disowned this album but I still like their shoegazed songs better than the Pavement influenced Song 2 (not that it's bad, it's quite good but it's the only song radio plays if they do play Blur)

The Dylans (Beggars Banquet 1992)
The Charlatans UK-Some Friendly (Beggars Banquet 1991)
The Darkside-All That Noise (Beggars Banquet 1991)

Between their label mates The Charlatans UK, The Dylans had more of a hypnotic vibe vocalwise, The Charlatans were looking to be the new Rolling Stones which they eventually achieved after the death of Rob Collins their keyboardist. The Charlatans also had a hit with The Only One That I Know, complete with them lifting Jon Lord's keyboard work on Hush.  The Dylans had a minor hit with the catchy Godlike.  The knock was that perhaps The Dylans were  a bit too much in the Madchester sound but to these ears their first album was a nice shoegazer mini classic. Followup album flopped and they were no more.  As for The Darkside, All That Noise is really a half assed affair, some good moments, but a lot of the songs are toss off efforts. Melomania released a year later is better including the 9 minute Rise which might be their high point.
Blind Mr. Jones-Stereo Musicale (Cherry Red 1994)
By the time this album came out, Shoegazer music was passe, but give Blind Mr Jones credit for issuing this album 2 years after the fact, but I have no idea who this band was till I found their album in the cutouts for a dollar in 2013.  Herb Cohen issued this via Bizarre/Planet in 1994.  Out of all the shoegazer bands mentioned, Blind MR. Jones has more in common with Hawkwind than MBV or Jesus And Mary Chain.  But nobody knew much about BMJ even in 1994, they also seem to teeter on being a jam band of sorts.  

Curve-Doppelganger (Charisma/Anxious 1992)
Curve-Pubic Fruit (Charisma/Anxious 1992)
Curve-Cuckoo (Charisma/Anxious 1993)

They blurred between MBV and Lush but with a more noiser approach.  Toni Holliday and Dean Garcia were the main folks behind this band and while New Musical Express have basically ignored Curve's album in favor of Slowdive and The Verve but Doppelganger is a shoegazer classic album all its own with Fait Accompli being the main hit.  I tend to think NME missed the boat especially on the Pubic Fruit album which complies the first three Curve EPs plus Fait Accompli.  Like Lush's Gala, Public Fruit shows Curve's EPs to be just as entertaining.

Ned's Atomic Dustbin-Godfodder (Columbia 1991)

If nothing else, Gray Cell Green has a somewhat catchy bass and drum hook, but it's considered fruitless to call them shoegazer, they play too fast and have two bass players in their band but God Fodder remains a good if dated listen.  Later albums were attempts at Modern rock, with mixed results.

So as you can see there's a bit of difference of what I think works for Shoegazer albums and the NME although your opinion will vary.  But at this point and time, nobody really listens to Shoegazer music all that much.  But I still have all these albums around somewhere and do play them from time to time.  If and when I come across any more Slowdive albums or the Verve album in question I'll take the time to listen and comment when I do get around finding them.  But I tend to think they're a bit overrated, as well as the Boo Radley's (I reviewed Cmon Kids and Giant Steps years ago but didn't think much of them).  But I'm sure we'll pick up on this subject in the near future to consider if I was right or wrong on calling these bands overrated.  For now, my opinion remains unchanged.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Week In Review: Tommy Allsup, Blogger Spam Comments

What it comes that I really have not much interest in new music news anymore and the fact is that I don't know half the bands that NME or Rolling Stone writes about or senseless stuff on how if Ronnie James Dio was still alive, Richie Blackmore would have not had him in the recent Rainbow concerts of last year.

I do put out local interest stuff on sports or about the Iowa Hawkeyes replacing the retired Greg Davis for Brian Farenez to run the offense   Which means Iowa will continue to run first with their running backs, the hope is that they can get blockers that can protect the QB.  Even winning some award for best blockers (which was bullshit if anybody watched the Outback Bowl fiasco) didn't stop them from yelling OLE while the opposition D was introducing themselves up close and personal to CJ Bethard or LeShan Daniels when they needed to provide some blocking to earn this made up award.  Expect Iowa to continue to trip over themselves in the major bowls.   If I think eye candy is needed I'll find something to bring in more readers.

(photo: Julie Gordon-Acousta Kitties Acousta Jam 1/10/17)

The good news is that another jam session has been brought up.  While Karl Hudson had to put his Rumor's Acoustic Jam on hold, Bart Carfizzi and Joe Hutchcroft will host something called the Pizza Jam, which will be on Thursday's Night at the Silver Star Saloon off Edgewood Road in Cedar Rapids.  Since I am still employed, I won't be able to partake in the fun and games.

And it's been 1 year ago that David Bowie passed away. He would have been 70 had he lived.  Elvis would have been 82.  We all get old and when the folks we grew up listening to passed away, we still listen to their music. Still, there is good music going on, but you don't and won't hear it on the radio.  Go see a live band and support their efforts.  They won't get rich but they might make a few dollars off playing a guitar or drumset or sing.  Or all of the above.

Tommy Allsup passed away Wednesday, he was 85.  Basically the story has been told many times about the "coin toss" that spared his life when he called the wrong side and either A) JP Richardson or B) Richie Valens  got on the plane, winning but losing as they say.  But for 58 years Allsup would make time to come up to the Surf Ballroom to participate in the local Winter Dance Party that has been held on the first week in February.  Most of the original artists are now gone with the exception of Dion.  Allsup also produced Asleep At The Wheel in the 1970s and was slated to come back up to the Surf this year.  Instead he will join the band in the great beyond.

While I'm doing good in viewership, I'll think of something up and risk more carpel tunnel.

The problem I have been having of late is Blogger spam  in the comments section and usually I delete the fucking mess anyway.  But today, let me show you what sort of nonsense that floods my inbox, usually from the archives that have nothing to do with music.

 There's a chance you're qualified to receive a Apple iPhone 7  (Good Riddence 2014)
(probably the one that blows up in your face due to battery problems-next!)

 From my experience the ultimate Bitcoin exchange company is YoBit. (What does this have to do with The  Gunfight at the OK Lounge?  Allan Reed would like to know too)

Are you paying over $5 for each pack of cigarettes? I'm buying my cigarettes over at Duty Free Depot and this saves me over 60% from cigarettes. (I guess that would work on the Sell Outs Blog but does Duty Free Depot sell CDs and LPs?, but I don't pay for anything that is cigarettes, I don't smoke)

Looking for the Ultimate Dating Website? Join and find your perfect date, Create a account and find your perfect date, match, blowjob etc (from TE Radio Blue Scratch Blog)  Spammer liked that blog so much he decided to repeat himself four times.

Coke Or Pepsi? (Various sites)  Faygo!

I don't much comments outside of Tad once in a while and he's more worthy of discussion, than the Blogger Spammer Toolbit that he thinks spamming worthless crap and click bait sites is that I'm going to approve this internet spam toe jam. Is there a payoff if I do, if so I expect a check in the mail that will cover the costs of this site that has now averaged over 100 readership for the past 31 days.  Usually I'll accept Jacksons, Grants and Franklin over Bitcoin any old day, but I come to find out that Spotify checks aren't even worth wiping your ass with, since you can't cash a .00000593 check for a couple plays of my songs.   Still, I expect that the 100 views every day will drop back to the usual 40 or 50 reads a day and the usual hope of breaking the internet Mendoza Line of 2,000 views at the end of month. I will have that beat this month but next month beyond I doubt that I will.  I'm too eccentric for the Bob Lefsetz crowd.   But here's hoping that there will be some sort of comments worth posting up, instead of the usual bullshit that keeps getting dumped to the spam file.   Not that Blogspot will care that much but I do.

Your monthly eye candy of the month, but I really would love to check out that record collection that she has in the background. 

Reviews: (courtesy of Mark Prindle)

Nazareth - The Newz - Granddad rock. The problem with being an obsessive completist is that you end up convincing yourself that 21st-century Nazareth albums are somehow worth buying -- even though not even the majority of their 20th-century ones were. Do yourself a favor and buy "Hair of the Dog," "Razamanaz" and "Loud 'n' Proud." Those are all very strong hard rock albums. The rest of their discography is so hit and miss, it's ridiculous. And this one is mostly generic blues rock,Tuff rock and ballads played and sung by really old people (and the bassist's son). It has a couple of uptempo rockers that recall the old days, and the guitarist tries to play something interesting in a couple songs near the end, but that's about it. Look, in all honesty, I enjoy 5 of these songs. But you won't, believe me. I didn't need to buy it, and you CERTAINLY don't! (Unless you're a collector of "Old People Complaining About the Internet" songs, because "Loggin' On" is one of those wonderful rare beasts!)

Nazareth - Big Dogz - Why did I buy a 2011 Nazareth album called "Big Dogz"!? Nobody needs this; the band members themselves don't even need this. I'm dumb enough to convince myself I like a few songs, but this is mostly just embarrassing garbage by the oldest people in the history of the world. Check out these lyrics: "Big government/Look at these clowns/Screwing around/Big Government/Dragging us down/I don't wanna drown -- Somebody get me a lifeboat/Because you're not getting my vote/Somebody get me a life coach/'Cos you're starting to encroach." You know what? I like Nazareth. They're not any good at all, but I like them. But even I have managed to resist purchasing their 2014 release, "Rock 'N' Roll Telephone" (a title that, if isn't an AC/DC parody, SHOULD be!).

 Ant-Bee - Pure Electric Honey - Retro-psychedelic/experimental music, slathered in reverb and full of druggy sleepy vibes like '60s Pink Floyd. Not bad, but there have been a lot of bands doing stuff like this over the past decade for some reason. The whole 'pump up the reverb' thing. It's the autotune of indie rock.

Antipop Consortium – Fluorescent Black - Highly regarded NYC hip-hop. Lots of electronic melodies and noises in the beats, some of which are very cool! The guys' voices are pretty bland unfortunately, but they do some pretty clever things with rhythms (speeding up, slowing down, chopping things up). Overall, I'd say these guys are very good at what they do. I wish their voices were more interesting, but if you're a hip-hop fan and have not heard this album, please check it out. And now my son keeps singing "I was born electric" and asking "Dad, why was that guy born electric?"

Aphex Twin - Drukqs - Two CDs worth of somber piano instrumentals, gamelans, ambience and electronic beats. Not unpleasant, but certainly not anything I ever need to hear again.

Thin Lizzy - At the BBC - This six-disc box set has a bunch of repeated tracks (different performances of the same songs), but the songs themselves are really good. The most enjoyable part for me was disc 5, a fantastic late-period live show with a great set list.

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service - The highly regarded comeback album. It's fine, but I don't understand why everybody's going apeshit about it. Its best tracks are truly great, but it's as inconsistent and occasionally boring as every other Tribe album (except the superlative "Midnight Marauders"). I appreciate the Can, Gentle Giant and Black Sabbath samples though.

Rod's Reviews:

John Lee Hooker-If You Miss Em, I got Em (ABC Bluesway 1970)

The late great Johnny Lee's Endless Boogie period.  ABC Records did pair him up with some legends (Endless Boogie featured Steve Miller) and on this forgotten effort, Earl Hooker (no relation) is host but out of all the boogie blues albums, this one is one of more boring efforts.  Like most efforts, this is John Lee and Earl jamming to some songs and Ed Michel rolled tape.  Best known song Lonesome Blues is where John Lee shouts out to the guys to get with the feeling.  Bang Bang Bang Bang is Boom Boom Variation 243.  Baby Be Strong is I Don't Wanna Go To Vietnam Part 6.  Problem is John Lee Hooker has never been interesting to me on the long drawn out blues excursions such as I Wanna Be Your Puppy Baby, to which Earl wakes up from his nap to do a couple of doggie sounds on his wah wah pedal and the even longer Have Mercy On My Soul! To which the nodding listener   eventually falls asleep if he hasn't already.
Grade C

Teegarden And Van Winkle-But Anyhow (Atco 1969)
(I hate this GD keyboard).... Best known for their 1970 minor hit God Love Rock And Roll this duo made two albums for Atco and Wounded Bird reissued them. Somewhat in the way that Lee Michaels recorded his albums with Frosty on drums, it's organ and drums and it's not bad if you like this sort of stuff.  They turn Jimmy McGiff's I Got A Woman inside out, speeds up Season Of The Witch, slows down Annie Had A Baby and throws a couple of originals in a blues rock mode. David Teegarden has always been a underrated drummer, adding a more jazzier style which fits the songs. Both these guys would have help in the making of Bob Seger's Smoking OPs  around 1972, but even as their own band, they do provide a nice sound of their own.
Grade B+

The Very Best Of Jethro Tull (Chrysalis/Capitol 2001)

30 plus years of Tull and we continue to get upgrade and make overs but I still think the 2 CD 1991 Best Of Jethro Tull covered the rise and fall of Ian Anderson and company.  M.U. the original best of showcases the classic rock songs that made Tull famous.  But then again, I found this for a 1.88 at Goodwill and thought it was worth a look.  EMI at that time, cherry picked the songs and while some got left off (but can be found on other best ofs) this is a okay overview of the Chrysalis years beginning with A Song For Jeffrey from the Mick Abrahams This Was album to the title track of Roots And Branches, the 1995 underachieving album, maybe time has treated that record better then when I heard it 22 years ago.  My problem is that, I enjoyed the early Tull albums up to War Child, then it was a long and lazy period of albums that simply lost my interest till they made their heavy metal award winning album Crest Of A Knave  a farce award upon itself, but by then Anderson stole enough former Fairport Convention members to make Crest a more rock album in the style of Fairport, but EMI didn't had much use for followups Rock Island and Catfish Rising.  Even Ian Anderson who wrote the liner notes kinda shrugs off the whole thing and mentions that there might be more inclusions and deletions on future albums but he won't make you buy them all over again, not yet anyway.  But the liner notes are worth reading if you have a 1.88 laying around  and seeing  a like new copy at your old Goodwill.  You might get your money back on a even trade at the local thrift store too.
Grade B

Genesis-Foxtrot (The Famous  Charisma Label/Atlantic 1972)

I guess I'll never warm up to the Peter Gabriel era, although I tried listening to the Genesis Live, didn't care much for it, Selling England By The Pound probably the best but didn't care much for it either, nor the overblown Lamb Lies Down On Broadway which I hated right off the bat since Mike Davenport made me listen to the whole 2 CD set years ago.  Foxtrot is right up there with Selling England By The Pound as the most listenable Genesis albums but in all fairness the stuffiness of Gabriel's vocals tends to make me not care much for this sort of British Prog rock although there's bits and pieces of songs like Watcher Of The Skies and Get Em Out By Friday which does flirt at some sort of melody.  Fans tend to enjoy the 23 minute Supper's Ready side 2 which ends on a pompous fadeout.  Certainly it is worth hearing once to wonder what the fuss was all about. You'll either embrace it or run away from it. The way British Progressive Rock usually is.
Grade B-

The Raspberries-Live On Sunset Strip 2005 (Rykodisc 2007)

There's a expanded edition that has the whole show in hand but in all fairness I never seen the 14 song live CD till I found a BMG club version for 2 dollars and for latter day reunions, this actually does work very well.  Eric Carmen and the boys really showed a love of detail on the early 70s versions of these songs and they do rock out and rock hard.  A shame The Raspberries didn't put a bigger dent in 70s power pop, they were quite good at it.  And still worth hearing 40 years after the fact.
Grade B+

Ian Anderson-Walk Into Light (Chrysalis 1984)

Techno Tull?  In a way it is but it is Ian kinda moving into 1980s technology even if recording tends to be a bit brittle and icy.  Some moments are worth hearing again (Trains, User Friendly) and I think Different Germany would have worked better had Martin Barre and the Tull boys helped out.  Overall, it's in the same league as Under Wraps, but Walk Into Light is slightly better.
Grade C+

Album from my youth: Neil Diamond Gold (K Tel 1977)

20 Greatest Hits it was advertised, but in essence all the songs were from his Bang years, my favorite era of Neil's music since I grew up listening to the likes of I Got The Feelin (oh no no), Solitary Man, You Get To Me, Do It and many others.  At the same time in the cut outs you could find Double Gold which was the 2 LP set of Bang material with a extra song.  Credit must be given to Jeff Berry and especially Ellie Greenwich who both produced and sang backup and made the songs that much better. While K Tel was constantly bashed for their stop gap greatest hits packages, it must be noted that K Tel did find some classic cuts to go with the Osmonds One Bad Apple or The Candy Man from Sammy D Jr. (Flash Small Beginnings and April Wine's You Could Have Been a Lady was on 22 Explosive Hits.  Back then licensing songs were much less hassle than they are today thanks to the three major label Mafias out there.  At that time Bang Records continue to reissue Neil Diamond's songs (he only recorded two proper albums among the 7 albums issued from that label).  While I tend to think Red Red Wine would show a peak into the later years and not one of my favorite numbers, I enjoy the lesser known I'll Come Running or Love To Love more.  By now, the K Tel album is a thing of the past and I still have my copy but Double Gold would be replaced by The Bang Years, which is just as essential in my collection along with Sgt Pepper or Forever Changes.  Neil would eventually go over the top with bombastic live performances and schmaltzy pop ballads later on, but the Bang Years showed that his simplicity worked much better.
Grade A-

and thought from the spammer blogger.
I have just downloaded iStripper, and now I enjoy having the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop...

Well you better get back to them and leave the rock stories and comments to us then.  That may explain why your right hand is bigger than your left.  Good Day.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Singles Going Steady 34-Mostly 80s Mostly New Wave

In our last get together of Singles Going Steady, we scraped the bottom of the Davenport Salvation Army finds.  Since then, except a few Dubuque Goodwill finds nobody has given up their 45s.  And perhaps for the better of it, since everybody is hoarding them.  You won't believe the dry spell I have at Half Price Books in town.  I'm sure Madison has a better selection but it's winter and Madison is snowy colder than here.  Maybe on the next World Naked Bike Ride Day I'll venture up there.

This time out, somebody did drop off a bunch of picture sleeve 45s and while some were overpriced (4.99 for a Led Zeppelin one) most were 49 cents and somehow managed to slip underneath the watchful eye of the HPB buyer.  I did pay 5 dollars for a 45 of note but only at a antiques store.

Since Record World has been enjoying over 100 views for over a month I thought it was high time to make myself known again and let you all know I'm still alive, unlike Nat Hentoff who left us last week at age 91.  One of the best jazz critics out there I bought a few jazz albums under his recommendations.  But on these collection, not a jazz record to be found.   It's more New Wave and 80s rock which brings images of MTV and Music Theater on Satellite Station 1 many many eons ago.  I saved the Culture Club and Men At Work picture 45s for somebody else but did find songs that made more sense to me.   Maybe you too. (but not U2)

1)  I Like Them Big And Stupid-Julie Brown (Bulletz BR 767-7)  1983

There were two Julie Browns that was part of the MTV 80s culture, one was Downtown Julie Brown, the Club MTV host and Miss Julie Brown, the comedian who also recorded an EP for Rhino and then a full album on Sire to which this song was re recorded I think.  Miss Julie Brown seemed to be the more fun of the two and while I'm sure Seymour Stein had vision of another Madonna hit making machine, Brown was more interested in being more than anything else.  Another fun song was Because I'm A Blond.  She later starred in the TV version of Clueless to which I tried to watch on the crappy CW channel for a week before the show was replaced by infocommercials.  She might be in her late 50s but I still find her to be sexy and fun to be with.  If only.

2)  I Got You-Split Enz (A&M  2252)  #53 1980

For a number 53 hit, it still gets played on oldies radio or KDAT when they go 80s but in all fairness, this was one of the early songs I bought by seeing their video.  While A&M was good to them, this was their only top 100 song, which is a shame, but for early new wave rock and roll, I Got You remains a golden treasure.

3)  New Romance (It's A Mystery)-Spider  (Dreamland DL-100)  #39 1980

Mike Chapman was a hot shot producer that scored hits with Blondie and The Knack and managed to convince Polygram to give him his own label.  This band featured Holly Knight, which was the link between Dale Bozzio and Pat Benetar as well as Anton Fig (Ace Freheley) playing drums.  You really don't hear this song all that much anymore and while I found the 45, it reminded me that it sounded a lot better back in 1980 than in 2017.  But then again a few other songs from the past have sounded dated, but still I remember them and New Romance better than any of the crap on top forty radio.  At least this song has a hook to remember it by.

4)  Ways To Be Wicked-Lone Justice (Geffen 7-29093)  #71 1985

Very much hyped in 1985 and even Tom Petty wrote them this song. I suspect Lone Justice was in the pioneering Americana rock field from the likes of Jason And The Scorchers, Green On Red, Rank And File and so forth but Geffen Records really went out of their way to promote Maria McKee and band.  While McKee turned out to be a very good singer songwriter,  the Lone Justice albums have fallen out of print and easily can be found in the dollar bins.  I used to have them all but was not that sold on them like I was with the Long Ryders or Jason and so forth. If need be I know where to find them just in case I want to revisit Lone Justice.

5)  Stars-Hear 'n Aid (Mercury 884-004-7)  1985

Here ya go, Metal's answer to We Are The World and a much better song, written by Ronnie James Dio and having a all star cast to record the whole thing.  Geoff Tate, Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma, Don Dokken, Vince Neil, even Derek St Hibbins of Spinal Tap fame.  40 hard rock and metal musicians all came together to record this song for the folks in Africa.   Certainly it's good enough to be included on a Dio album is needed to, but Dio donated the song away.  Once in a while you'll hear it on Ozzy's Boneyard.  Sometimes Rock 108, but not very often.

6)  Ten Men Workin'-Neil Young And The Bluenotes (Reprise 7-27908)  1988

Neil's wilderness years I guess.  After the fallacy that was his Geffen period, Neil return to the other side of Warner Music back to Reprise, where he's been ever since but he was still throwing weirdness into the wind, with the album This Note's For You, to which Neil was forming his own Blues Brothers revue it seems.  Power swing he calls it.  The record is uneven as well as this song.  B side I'm Goin, is a Neil Young throwaway.

7)  Ten Years Of This-Gary Stewart (RCA PB-10957) #16 Country  1977

He was considered to be one of the latter day better honky tonk country singers of that time and he did score some hits (She's Acting Single, I'm Drinking Doubles, Out Of Hand) on the country side.  He later recorded for High Tone once the RCA hits dried up.  Once he lost his wife of many years due to illness, he gave up living and killed himself in 2003.  But we still have his music.  Which I should check out once I find his albums.  B Side is I Ain't Living Long Like This, later made into a hit by Waylon Jennings and covered by Foghat and Dream Syndicate.

8)  I'll Be There-Stan Gunn (Sugar Hill SH-007)  1970

Early rockabilly star, later went on to a supperclub country music career, recorded for Jack O Diamonds and Sugar Hill.  So so Nashville song that didn't do much on the charts.

9)  Jump Into The Fire-Nilsson  (RCA 74-0673)  #27 1971

Had this on 45 years ago, but too many games of Frisbee left about three giant scratches across the playing surface making it useless to play, still I thought highly of this edited version enough to buy a better copy of it for 50 cents.  Herbie Flowers plays a mean bass on this.  Alas, on the single version you miss out of Jim Gordon's drum solo which KCRG played the long version one night, which may have been the reason why the 45 got scratched up.  Where's the drum solo at?

10)  Get Back-The Beatles (Apple 2490) #1  1969

So ends this edition of SGS, the number 1 hit single from the Fab Four and the 45 that I got for 5 dollars at BDW Records this week.  The BDW folks haven't had much in terms of 45s and between this and Day Tripper, I chose this 45, since it was in better shape and I like Get Back better.  I always like the single version rather the Let It Be finale to which John Lennon thanked everybody and hope they passed the audition.   Yes you have lads, yes you have.   Now get Billy back on keyboards and jam on one more time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Week In Review: Trainwrecks Are Us

Happy New Year!

And the same old shit continues.  Marah Carey didn't have a good New Year's Eve night when she tried to lip sync to a bunch of old songs that made her famous, but she claims that the earpieces that Dick Clark Productions gave her didn't work and they promised that they would.  Nevertheless, Carey half danced and half commented through the whole ordeal while social media world blew up big time.  And Dick Clark Productions claimed innocence.  I've seen the videos posted and Carey simply bit her tongue and did the best she could, making the best out of a bad situation.

It wasn't a good ending to 2016 for Rhonda Rousey as she got her ass kicked by Amanda Nunes, nor Ohio State getting whitewashed by Clemson 31-0.  However the big trainwreck was down at Raymond James Field in Tampa as Florida kicked Iowa's ass 30-3 in the Outback Bowl.  So far 2017 has picked up on the shit luck where 2016 left off.  Once again, with the piss poor performance by the Hawkeyes, has gotten mainstream media wondering why the hell Iowa was in a New Year's Bowl game anyway, Paul Feinbaum calling Iowa, The Pinata of the the Bowls and with five straight losses in a row and three fucking blowouts I agree with him.  Iowa showed less this game  than the Rose Bowl debacle.  CJ Bethard, playing his final game for Iowa was hurt and after pulling a hamstring couldn't function as Florida kept sending defense players past Iowa's Ole blockers and getting up close and personal with CJ.  Akim Wadley, was the only bright spot  rushing for 115 yards and with LaShaun Daniels, the first two Iowa running backs with over a thousand yards for the first time ever. Let's just leave it at that and hope that 2017, Iowa can improve. The defense should be better although they will be losing Desmond King.  But in the final analysis, even with a 8-5 record, The Hawks were average, their best showing was in November, but the rest of the season, they sleepwalked though it all.

Over New Years' Eve, a car  was spotted abandoned on the Julian Dubuque Bridge and sad news is that Alison Morgan may have jumped into the Mississippi River.  She has been missing since Saturday Night and sad to report that Morgan may have gone under the ice.  Rescue efforts have been put on hold till the the weather gets better.

After 31 years, the Marion Maid Rite is closing their doors on January 31st, giving the town folk a few more weeks to enjoy a maid rite before it's gone forever.  The owners thought it was a good time to retire.   I wish them well.

So here we are again, a new year and I'm already sick and tired of trying to write this blog and using the back space key every other time or have spell check pop up just as much.  Over 1,000 views for the first three days and not too bad, but in reality, it's a bitch and I've been dealing with sore hands from playing guitar and drums and blogging to document things.  But I'm still here, deleting most of the spam crap from Blogger spammers and keeping things up to date.  I'll be back later to continue the music news.  Been doing this for 15 years now.  It's a vice and hard habit to break.

Record Reviews:

Harvey Headbanger (2010)

One of the premier hard rock and metal bands in this area took the time to make an 8 song CD.  They were much better of covering Rock You Like A Hurricane or Welcome To The Jungle. The band lineup varied and changed over time, Terry McDowell would replace Craig Sprat and Ted Reily took over for Dave Calhoun.  But on this effort Sprat along with Harvey writes the majority of these Hairball inspired songs.  Perhaps they should have done a metal covers instead of originals.   Very Spinal Tap, with the inspired lyric I going to drop my coin into your slot.  If you're up into how they sound like, the original guys play on this 2011 video.

Harem Scarem Rocks (Wounded Bird 2001)

While Harvey Headbanger may have celebrated their inner Spinal Tap, Harem Scarem did a better job of creating that 80s hard rock sound that could rival Night Ranger or Loverboy, although I think H.S. was better than their Canadian counterparts.  But they were 10 years too late to the 80s rock scene but you gotta love them for giving the old college try.  Wounded Bird issued the majority of their 90s albums when Warner Brothers US passed on them and really peppered up the the albums with plenty of bonus tracks.  Saviors Never Cry would be playing on classic rock radio and No Justice could possibly be a nice take on Sammy Van Hagar Van Halen.  But I think these guys were in line with Little America or Honeymoon Suite too, they had enough rock and roll hooks to their music.  A companion CD Ballads, is as advertised but I prefer my 80s rock uptempo and this is a good sampler of a band that was big in Japan (so to speak) but unknown in the states.
Grade B+

Lawrence Gowan-Lost Brotherhood (Anthem 1990)

Gowan has been the lead vocalist of Styx for quite some time but in the 1990s under his last name Gowan, he managed to win SOCAN awards up in Canada.  This record features Alex Lifeson (Rush) playing guitar and Tony Levin (King Crimson) and Jerry Moretta on drums and it's a underrated cutout classic.  Found this for 40 cents at Stuff Etc, and Gowan can sing like Geddy Lee (not the helium screams but rather latter day (Hold Your Fire) era Rush but he can also sound like Peter Gaberial and Peter Himmel too.  He had a number 6 (Canada) single with All The Lovers In The World, but Gowan showed a bit of Progressive rock too, especially on side 2 with songs like Holding Them Back and Message From Heaven.  Like Harem Scarem, Gowan had good success in Canada but in the US, even on Rush's label, he couldn't get arrested. A shame really, it's worth a listen
Grade B+

Black Rose (Casablanca 1980)

Cher's first attempt of a hard rock move and it's actually fairly good, despite having James Newton Howard as producer (not exactly a rock and roll producer although he did get good results with this album and later on, Jude Cole's Start The Car). Cher does go over the top at times with songs like Julie and Young And Pretty but it's not Mariah Carey over the top bad. Les Dudek (remember him?) does provide a bit of relief with You Know It and the Bad Company influenced Fast Company  (irony in the title don't ya think?).  While Cher did have a top ten hit with Take Me Home for Casablanca, there's nothing on this album that sounds disco, unless Trey Thompson's bass popping shows up from time to time.   Next to I Paralyze, one of Cher's finer moments and it sure in the hell beats her hair metal garbage for Geffen at the end of the decade.  A guilty pleasure.
Grade B  

Freddy Cannon-Action! (Warner Brothers 1965)

My final offering comes from a free album that I found outside of Analog Vault in New Bo and it's a period piece.  Very short album, 25 minutes long give or take a second or two and really, Cannon has no business covering Papa's Gotta Brand New Bag or High Heel Sneakers.  Beachwood City is Abigail Beecher with different lyrics and Palisades Park's music.   Nothing tops the title track and even if the album is slight, I always loved Cannon from Tallahassee Lassie onward.  Second best song is You Gotta Help Yourself, filler for sure but it has a nice hook to make me remember this album, long after I forgotten the rest.
Grade B-

The Wapsipinicon Dreamers (Maier 2017)

The side project of Rodney Smith and it has been a 25 year record in the making.  Originally a band with Chris Dutcher joining up didn't pan well and the whole thing got shelved, till being inspired enough to finally come up with something after The Townedgers finished up Jubilee.   The W.D. eventually became reality as a busman's holiday with Mark Mason and Mel Strobie joining Martin Daniels, Geoff Redding and R. Smith but the liner notes don't say who played what.   It was supposed to be a country album, and it does have a country sound but it doesn't differ all that much from The Townedgers sound.   Anybody who decides to add If I Were A Carpenter, Fly Away Home, Oh Death, Splendid Isolation, You Can't Touch This, Let Your Love Flow, Solitary Man does have a skewed sense of humor.   In essence, The Wapispinicon Dreamers are no different than a local bar band although bar patrons would be leaving for the door on the more eclectic songs.  Still, it's Rodney Smith's show and album and the acoustic jams have done him wonders judging by this version of Dead Flowers which is more to the studio version by the Stones and not the wild TE Country version.  And The Life We Lead is faster than the Townedgers' version, and more to the point.   While The Townedgers albums have had cover songs before, this album showcases the covers than original, although Baby Wanna Dance is that obligatory Town's Edge Rock cover.  BTW, Fox On The Run is not The Sweet version but rather the Tom T Hall bluegrass number done rock style.
Grade B+

Mark Prindle had started to review albums again on his FB site.  While a lot of the bands are not ones I'm familiar with he is looking at some of the better known acts to which I picked the best of the bunch. 

The Doors - London Fog 1966 - Supposedly the earliest Doors recording ever released, this features the band playing a bunch of blues covers and only two originals -- "Strange Days" (which wouldn't be released until their second album) and "You Make Me Real" (which wouldn't be released until their FIFTH album, for Pete's sake!). It's of historical interest, but that's it. The set list is boring ("Hoochie Coochie Man," "Baby Please Don't Go," etc.) and they weren't exactly the cream of the young white blues crop.  (Crabby note: I noticed on their live albums their blues cover versions are somewhat half assed, Morrison never really deliver the blues songs at all live.)

Bruford - One of a Kind - In his autobiography, Bill Bruford called this one of the three best albums he's ever played on (the other two being "Close to the Edge" and "Red"), but this mostly sounds like corny smooth jazz-rock to me. There are some cool proggy synth riffs scattered throughout, but the overwhelming feel is that of '80s fusion. Not for me!

Strawbs - Grave New World - Folksy, symphonic prog rock. When it's good (which is often!), it reminds me of Jethro Tull or the Moody Blues. At its worst, the songs are too soft and la-de-da, like Cat Stevens or something. I'm not fond of the lead singer's ugly voice, but the other guys contribute lovely harmony vocals.

Colosseum - Valentyne Suite - Hippie freakout music, low-down boogie-woogie blues, butt-grooving funk, horn-drenched jazz-rock and organ/piano-driven prog rock. It's very dated, but still a fun listen. I wouldn't run out and buy it or anything, but the sidelong title track is definitely worth a listen.
Nina Hagen Band - S/T - Starts off with a German cover of "White Punks on Dope"! Then progresses into German language original compositions that combine rock guitars, new wave synths and funk/dance rhythms. Some of the music's alright, but her voice is gruff and not to my liking.

 Elvis Costello - Brutal Youth - I listen to this and know full well it's not my type of music -- too slow, too old-timey singer-songwriter poppy -- but I enjoy so many of the songs! (Not ALL of them, but at least half). Elvis cares about melody. And I don't hate his voice anymore!

If - 3 - British jazz-prog-rock, with an uneven mix of horn-driven brappiness, piano-driven laid back tunes, cool rockin' proggish synths, and corny dogshit -- with Spooky Tooth-style bluesy vocals (or "Steve Winwood-style," if you don't know Spooky Tooth). Some of the songs are perfectly enjoyable, but others are just awful.

Ramones - The Family Tree - Double-cd compilation of side projects, guest appearances and solo material. Some good, some bad. You don't need it. (Do try to check out Dee Dee's hilarious cover of Metallica's "Jump in the Fire" though!)

Neil Young and Bluenote Cafe - Bluenote Cafe - If you loved the Chicago blues stylings of "This Note's for You," you'll LOVE two hours and 15 minutes of it! Although the six-piece horn section sounds really good and all the recordings sound terrific, there are definitely some sections on this double-CD that make me never want to hear Chicago Blues again (the middle of disc 1, for example). It can get very generic and tedious. As a whole though, there is some great stuff on here and it's definitely worth hearing if you're a Neil fan. There are some otherwise unavailable originals, and they even do "On the Way Home" and a super-long version of "Tonight's the Night"!

Pixies - Head Carrier - I hated "Indie Cindy," so was shocked by how much I enjoy this one. It's good! Just good melodic songs, with a female bassist who sings every now and again. A few sound a bit too "Pixies"-ish, but maybe that's just the noise that comes out when these guys get together. I enjoy this one so much that it turned me back into a Frank Black fan! I hadn't been into him for a few years, but this did the trick. I guess my next step should be to try "Indie Cindy" again?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Iowa Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association is pleased to announce its 2017 Hall of Fame inductees!

BANDS: Jeff Brandt & Galaxy (Central Region), Lavender Lace Band (Central Region), High Heel & the Sneakers (Southwest Region), The Night People (Southeast Region), Hampton Road (Northeast Region), Prince & the Paupers (Northwest Region), IRRMA All-Stars Band (Northwest Region) 

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMERS: Angelo Doud (Southeast Region), Craig Erickson (Southeast Region)

NON-PERFORMERS: Kid Bisket (Northeast Region), Gary Kellgren (Southwest Region), David Sandler (Central Region), Matt Coffin (Southeast Region), Don “Shakey” Ahrends (Northwest Region), Reiman Music (Northwest Region)

WOMEN WHO ROCK: Karie Skogman (Northeast Region)

BORDER BAND: The Whitesidewalls (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN)

IRRMA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Jerry Jones (Northwest Region), Steve Soboroff (Southeast Region)


SUPPORT: Marla Black (Northwest Region)

DJ: Kyle Martin (Central Region)

SPIRIT AWARD: Surf Zombies (Central Region), Merle and Jan Wiese (Northwest Region), Greg Miksich (Central Region), Bruce Cameron (Central Region)

The 2017 IRRMA Hall of Fame Induction Spectacular weekend takes place September 1-3 in Arnolds Park and will mark the association's 21st induction year.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 In Review

So here we are at the end of the year. If you have made it this far, congratulations!  You survived the year unlike Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Debby Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, Prince, Merle Haggard and on and on. This year we lost Billy Pinney and his dad James, Billy suffered a heart attack, James died from smoking too much.  Basically I haven't seen neither since the turn of the century and those relatives I don't have much to do with.  I simply lost track of Billy.  But losing Bruce Stanley in late August would set the tone for a somber rest of the year. And William Christopher was the last person to get on the 2016 death train. Father McCauley from MASH.

The year started off on the wrong foot right off the bat when Iowa got blown to bits by Stanford in The Rose Bowl, once again proving to the ESPN and the Colin Cowpisses of the world that Iowa didn't belong and when the football season came around it was looking that Iowa might not finish above 500, losing to North Dakota State and crappy Northwestern and getting blown to bits by Penn State before doing the unthinkable and upsetting mighty Michigan 14-13 and then shutting out Illinois and blowing out Nebraska to finish 8-4 and get a trip to Florida to play Florida in the Outback Bowl.  Arizona State on the other hand sucked and after starting out 5-1 would lose the rest of the games and for their effort had the all time worst defense in the NCAAs.  Key injuries didn't help on the offense but the defense was a fucking mess all season.  While Iowa got better during the season ASU got worse and worse.

The beginning of the year I predicted something special would happen and it the form of the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908, coming back down 3 games to 1 to win the 7th game in amazing style over the Cleveland Indians in perhaps the best all time World Series ever.  Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo had banner years, Dexter Fowler took a pay cut after the deal with Baltimore went sour and was part of the reason why the Cubs won it all.  Dan Ross, retired after the season and with Rizzo and Dexter appeared in Saturday Night Live.  Fowler would later sign with the St Louis Cardinals for next season and Adonis Chapman returned back to the Yankees with a big pay contract and proceeded to bitch about Joe Madden overused him in the world series.  He did have a point since he had nothing to show in the final two games but his 2 and 2/3 inning shutout in game five was his best pitching performance of the season.  Even though the price of borrowing Chapman trading an of a up and coming short stop, you cannot take away the title CHICAGO CUBS 2016 WORLD SERIES AND BASEBALL CHAMPIONS.  It's in the history books and I'm glad I got to see and hear it.

So the hope is that the Cubs can continue to return back to the world series and since the loss of Chapman and Fowler,  Wade Davis and John Jay have taken their place.  We'll see where 2017 will go.  On paper it still looks good.

Another surprise of the year was taking part in the World Naked Bike Ride day in Madison in June.  One of the most daring and off the wall thing that I have ever done, it was interesting of the fact of joining 150 other bike riders taking everything off and go riding around  downtown Madison in the early morning, peddling for about 7 miles and trying to shake off leg cramps towards the end.  But to my surprise I finished the bike race and after that, retreating back to the motel to rest for a couple hours and then do the bargain hunts around the usual thrift stores in Mad City. But if you look up WNBR Madison 2016, you might see the full birthday suit of myself for further proof. In Record World it's NSFW and a no no to post.

(Acousta Kitties in action)

Surprise number 2 was playing guitar and singing songs in front of a crowd for the first time in over a year and I'm amazed how everybody enjoyed the songs.  But at Checkers Tavern, the Acousta Kitties have been hosting the Acoustic Jam for over a year and they continue to draw a great support of regulars, to which I might be a part of if I didn't have a job.  Playing acoustic jams don't pay but when you get the crowd to sing along to Games People Play and Dead Flowers, it's priceless.  I hope to do more jams in 2017, weather and health permitting.  I also took part in many Popcorn Jams on Sundays and a few Parlor City Blues Jams on Tuesday and managed to play alongside some of the best talent in town.  We lost a couple jammers,  Tim Duffy moved to Georgia but in return Jason Christensen and Karl Hudson returned, Jason from Memphis and Karl from Florida.  Karl has continued to keep busy with jam sessions and playing in The Buzz and solo projects around the area.

For bargain hunts, I didn't venture outside of the comfort zone.  It was usually Davenport one week, Dubuque the next and it varied, I did go up to Madison twice this year, the WNBR weekend and then back there again in October.  I didn't go overboard on buying vinyl but I did find The Golliwogs Pre Creedence on LP and that record may have been the highlight of the year.  Runner up: Bobby Bare 500 Miles Away From Home, that record was part of my growing up years and my dad still has that record, in very scratched up condition.  Surprisingly, I did managed to find about 100 new 45s from various eras, mostly the pop or middle of the road including a bunch of oddball stuff at the Waterloo Stuff Etc stores, and Cliff Steward Coral stuff at the St Vincent De Paul in Waterloo, a very hit and miss store but sometimes I can score with some good finds if I knew when to go up there.  Even the Dubuque Goodwill had some choice 45s of the year.  No shortage of pawnshop cheap cds too. I just bought 8 of them for 1.88 apiece in town (Echoes-The Best Of Pink Floyd, Best of Kristy McColl, T.Rex, White Zombie and...ahem....Bob Dylan's Christmas In The Air to scare off anybody who comes calling around here.

The big news was the loss of Hastings Entertainment Stores when they got bought out by liquidators and they ended up closing all of the stores.  By November 1st, Hastings was history.  It was a shame, Hastings was the last great entertainment store that you can find cheap CDs and DVDs under a dollar and was a great place to hang around with the locals when I was in Kingman or Lake Havasu City or Bullhead City.  Say what you want about them, they did serve a purpose and now there's a great big void now that they're are gone.  The internet is fine but we all need to go somewhere on a Saturday Night.  And you can't beat a Hastings despite what people say about them.

In late September the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids reached the second highest crest ever, even more so than the 1993 flood but people kicked in efforts to save the town and sandbagged and picked up and packed up everything in the flood prone areas.  Not everybody stayed dry.  While New Bo was fairly dry, the folks at Tornado's Pub had to sand bag themselves from a 5 foot flood river since the makeshift flood wall was built in front of their building and places like The Kickstand and the Mad Modern Art place had to endure flooding in their building.  However, once the flood crested, Tornados was open a week later and The Kickstand two weeks later.  And Parlor City was hosting jams three weeks later.  Unlike 2008 Cedar Rapids rebounded but the big difference was that the river runoff came all the upstream and we didn't have the flooding 10 inch rainfalls of 2008.  Plus it happened in the fall when we didn't have much rain to contend with.  We got lucky but we all came together to support one another.  And watched as Ron Corbett took credit for that as he considers running for Governor in a couple years.  It never ends.  But we also got our first record store in town too, Analog Vault opened up in New Bo in October and seems to be doing well.

In October I finally kicked the cable TV and have not watched much TV in the past three months.  I had to go Wrigleyville Bar in Marion to watch the Cubs win the Series or listen to them on the radio as well as the Hawks but I have to find that I can live without the crap reality shows or for that matter those annoying Big Pharma Drug commercials and the damned E.D. crap that is now part of sports. Four hour erection ain't going help me anyway.  I get by watching DVDs of quality shows I grew up watching and will be content that way.

This month saw the biggest reader viewership this year with me going over 12,000 views.  I'm guessing mostly phantom readership although Blogger spam is 99.9 percent of comments.  And none that add to any of the blogs that the spammer blogger has posted to.  Which is why I have things awaiting approval.   But those who continue to read, I thank you for your patronage.   And while 2017 will continue on with the usual rant and ravings and music news and views and, there's no getting around that, deaths.  Cause people will die and we'll continue to lose people of all statue.  But what awaits us all is the forthcoming year of President Failed Reality Star and, worse, the GOP controlled everything, which is slated to set this country back 60 years ago.  Seeing Obama leave after 8 years, I honestly say I hate to see him go, despite a do nothing and obstructing congress, he did managed to do a few good things.  Like stopping the Dakota Pipe Line to which the Indian Nation stood up for clean water and not another leaking pipeline. We cannot afford to see our water supply poisoned by oil, which has happened time and time again.  The question remains is the President Failed Reality Star who continues to use Twitter for his saber rattling and continue to bitch about Saturday Night Live making fun of him.   Despite not having the popular vote, the Electoral voted him in regardless.  Hillary may have run the popular vote, President FRS won in the states with the most electoral votes.  I'm not certain what the GOP will have in store rather than their being bought out by the lobbyists and Big Oil and Big Pharma, but if this is the beginning of the end times, we can hope that Jesus will come and save this world from further destruction.  Or perhaps have a meteor score a direct hit on the planet and have everything start all over again.   The election this year was a farce from the word go and if The Democrats slit their own throat by sabotaging Bernie Sanders and keeping Debbie Wasserman Schutz through the whole ordeal then that's the reason why they lost.  But then again it's hard to tell the real news from the fake, certainly the major networks didn't provide much relief in between their fucking drug commercials and Hilary's emails.   In the end it didn't matter anyway, the bad guys all won, from Ron (Snake in the grass) Johnson to Congressman for life Chuck Grassley and joker Steve King.  Oh I voted, but the wrong fucks won anyway.  It is what it is. And not worth bitching about anyway.

So basically for a wrap up, there's not much to be said or done.  I'm completed 15 years of blogging things from music to sports to rant and ravings and once in a while I strike a chord with forgotten bands or a tribute to friend taken from this world.  It's a hit and miss and I can see why people give up, half of my readings are now from folks who moved on back to real life.  The Best of 2016, it's nice to give credit to bands that wouldn't be known at SPIN or Rolling Stone, it's hard to keep up with the Best lists out there, I just choose the ones that make the most sense.  Pitchfork will have theirs  Robin Hilton of NPR has hers and neither has any of my favorites.  I think I'm more inclined to play Mike Eldred Trio's Baptist Town more than Metallica's latest, which got good reviews but I've outgrown them.  Or in Hilton's case I'll stick with Wooden Nickel Lottery or Tommy Bruner than Beyonce or Kanye Autotuned Chipmunk West or what's on KISS country.  The hope is that Bro Country is on the way out and the women continue to kick the guys' ass in terms of memorable country music but I wasn't a fan of Miranda Lambert's effort.  Perhaps Cam's time is gone too, her latest album, has three used copies at half price books.  Likewise Steven Tyler's failed country attempt or Aaron Lewis for that matter, although Lewis has his heart in the right place but I think his daughter might have a better go at it since she was involved on the best song on Aaron's album.

While I insist that next year I won't partake in any more new albums, the logic is that I'll will find something to listen to.  There will be bargain hunts in the future, more 45s to come across, more jams to play at and life will go on, unless it's our time to leave this world.  Which I don't see happening anytime soon, remember the more you bitch, the longer God lets you live so I'm here for another 517 years.  Certainly more trips to Davenport, Dubuque, Waterloo, places I'm comfortable of going.  And of course Madison although returning to do WNBR Madison in 2017 is probably out of the question.  But I did find my Tazmainan Devil Silk Boxes and just cover up. Biking naked is one thing I can cross off my bucket (fuck it) list.

But I have grown tired of the usual blogging of the week in review and most of the time, I'm using the backspace key more than any others and good thing the spellchecker comes up.  With 12,000 views this month, I'm encouraged to consider keeping this going.  But I am slowing down as you can tell, I've only done 89 blogs this year, I've been posting things under The Townedgers blog which might explain the reason for the decline but I'm more interested of doing a diary of the jams and recording projects since they are dear to my heart.  But I fight the keyboard to get my thoughts down pat even for Record Review.  For something that doesn't pay at all, I tend to waste more time doing this, but it's nice to look at the archives and remember the time and places that I was at or what was happening. Too bad that Groove Sandwich or Trucker Kitty didn't keep theirs up,  they really had some cool stories to go with, but I can also why they pulled the plug.  When it's time consuming and the returns aren't there, it's best to say you did your best and move on. But in the end, I did end up with over 12,500 views.  Historic in views but doubt if we'll have that many in the incoming months.

And life will go on.  If things interest me enough, there'll be something documented, or if I unearth a cool collection of 45s, Singles Going Steady will return.  Forgotten bands? Sure why not?  ICON? Everybody likes to read them.  Bargain hunts?  For my own amusement I guess.  And for you dear reader who read this far, thanks for your support.  I've come a long way from The Yardbird's Roost on to the fucked up My Space years (Both MSN and My Space deleted a lot of classic blogs from 2002 to 2008 although I did save a bunch for the 2009 term of theory I should have gone with Blogspot sooner 2006) and Multiply (which lost key blogs including the Neil Young ICON Blog).  Could have gone with Wordpress but Blogger/Blogspot has been very good to me, despite the spam comments.   However, I do hope 2017 is a much better year, while it was great to see the Chicago Cubs win it all, losing Hastings and many good friends and musicians turned this year into a bittersweet sort of thing.  

And I wish everybody a blessed 2017.  Keep rocking.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Week In Review: George Micheal, Carrie Fisher etc.

Even this late in the year the passings continue.  George Michael, famed for Wham! and his album Faith passed away on Christmas Day from heart failure, he was 53.  Death has been everywhere this year and really have thinned the musicians out there, beginning with David Bowie and now Michael. I wasn't a big fan and so be it, but I do find Wham! I'm Your Man to be a guilty pleasure listening more than Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and Faith had a nice collection of different songs from I Want Your Sex to the rockabilly title track.

Carrie Fisher en route to L.A. suffered a heart attack and never recovered, passing away early Tuesday Morning, she was 60.  Fisher also best known for playing in Star Wars but I loved her as the crazy person trying to kill The Blues Brothers and posting a autobiography called Postcards From The Edge, to which I stole the title to name an album that I did back in 1988.   She was married to Paul Simon which had its ups and downs before they called it a day.  In essence, her work is done on this planet.  She will be missed.  And then the next day her mom Debbie Reynolds joined her in the afterlife, she suffered a stroke but in essence she died of a broken heart.  She was 84.

Getting to football, The San Diego Chargers may as well be dead,  Josh Lambo, had one field goal blocked and another went wide right and Cleveland won their first game of the year.  While Lambo gets the blame for the loss,  Phillip "Fumbles and Interceptions" Rivers is now turned the ball over 19 times this season, and basically he might be replacing Dan Fouts in all time passing and so forth, he remains one of the annoying quarterbacks for the Chargers and after 12 years this year has been his most disappointing.  He couldn't rally the Chargers to beat the Raiders and then his kicker let him down.  But in all fairness the Chargers have blown 6 games with leads.  They may as fire Mike McCoy, they may as well give Rivers his walking papers and start anew once they move it up to Los Angeles.   Had they held the leads they could be challenging Kansas City and Oakland for the top spot but then again, when they blew a 24 point lead in Kansas City this season, it was of things to come.  And not for the better.  Basically the below picture will leave the legacy of Phillip Rivers to be a whiner.  He should apply for a job as a baker, he does make a lot of turnovers.....

I think she can play better QB than Rivers.  This week's eye candy...cuz we need something to cheer us up.

For Christmas here, we went from 2 below last Sunday to 40 degrees and rain and clouds most of the day with the usual dumb fucks driving NASCAR speeds on icy covered roads.  I remember of Christmas past, of 1999 when Olivia came down to visit us from Oregon and ended up getting phenomena for 3 months afterwards.  Then two winters of Nicole (2010, the coldest Christmas it seems and we drove in the old Purple Corsica which kept having a flat tire and on New Years Day looking for a place with air to fill the damn tire up, and 2011).  Alas Nicole was the last to see our family, The Bickersons in action and usually new potential dates are scared away after the first meeting.  Last year was a disaster but this year, there were no blowups, everybody got along fine and Santa was very good to me.   Hopefully all of us will be back next Christmas.   And you too as well.

My good friend Mark didn't have a good Christmas flight, on the way to CR, his plane had mechanical trouble  and then flew back to Kansas City of all places.  What should have been a four flight turned out to a day and an half.  Mark didn't get here till 4 AM and still to wait for a rental car place to open up at 6 to get a car.  And that's one of the reasons why I don't fly in the wintertime.  Actually I don't fly at all anymore.  Too much bullshit to deal with and it usually starts with the TSA.

(Photo: AP)

As we wind down this year, the uncertainly of next year will be on the horizon, the 45th President of the USA, the Failed Reality Star and of course the GOP in control of everything.   Already gas prices have gone up from 1.89 to 2.25 in the three weeks and it's not even springtime.  It wouldn't surprise me to see the return of 3 dollar a gallon gas by summertime with the usual bullshit excuses of the raises, OPEC, leaky oil polluting the water supply.  Perhaps the people who died in 2016 made the right choice of exiting here before the Failed Reality Star becomes the POTUS.  He certainly can't keep off Twitter.  Will things change around?  Probably, as prices continue to rise but no businesses want to pay anybody 15 dollars an hour.  Things go up, gas, electric, insurance, HEALTH insurance, food etc etc.   But there's so much fake news out there, it's hard to tell what's the truth and what is bullshit.  In the meanwhile some of the Rockettes don't want to partake into the gala presidential celebration of the failed reality star on Jan 20.  The guess is that Mike Love's Beach Boys will have the honors, but I'm surprised Ted Nugent wasn't asked to do that, nor Charlie Daniels.

A retraction to a blog, Neil Young's Peace Trail did pop on the Billboard Chart at number 75 last week and then dropped out of the top 200 the next week.  I thought the record was good enough to be included in my top 20 best of 2016 and still think it's a decent listen.  But if Neil Young would take the time to develop the songs rather than toss them out he still might have a album for the ages, like After The Gold Rush or Rust Never Sleeps.  Perhaps he should take a breather before issuing a new album next year to you know he will.  Perhaps people are getting burned out of his music or just don't care. I still do. 

I guess that's all the news and happenings for now.  Tune in next time for 2016, the year in review.  It should be a hit.