Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Flood Of 2016

If you haven't heard or seen the news, you might not know that our area is once again at the mercy of a raging river, that will be coming through town around 23 to 24 feet of muddy water.  The past couple weeks the Cedar Valley has gotten hit with 15 to 20 inches of rain for this month, an ungodly amount of rain.  Just like in 2008 we have had a stalled front throwing many many monsoon storms, but this time more centered in around southern Minnesota and north eastern Iowa.

(photo: KWWL-Cedar Falls 9-24-16)

(Photo: KWWL- 4th Street Bridge at Waterloo 9-24-16)

Unlike the 2008 flood, which Cedar Rapids got socked with 10 inches of rain to go with the upper rivers runoff which gave us the EPIC SURGE of 31.3 feet, we managed to not get hit too hard, but we did get three inches of rain here.  I seen the ditch culverts fill up and seeing a raging creek going through the back yard but thankfully the basement stayed dry.  Of course we got it waterproof, 8,000 dollars of peace and mind and so far so good.   But I don't live in the floodplain which is New Bo, a place where I do spend lots of time in that area.     Still, with the announcements of the impending flood, people in this town banded together, and started sandbagging places, putting up Nesco dams of whatever they are called, and moving things out of harms' way.  In 2008 The Paramount lost their pipe organ, to which it got repaired and put in place but volunteers have moved the pipe organ into a more safe place.    Right now Cedar Rapids downtown, you can only use the 380 bridge to get through town.  Better safe than sorry.

Even the farmers are hurrying up their harvest in flood plains.  This afternoon I seen at least 5 harvesters and tractors cleaning up the corn and soybeans over by US 30 and the Sewage Treatment Plant and on the way home tonight, there was still a few of them on the other side of the highway completing their harvest.  Everybody is heeding warnings.  Fellow musicians helping others move their gear and stuff out of the basements in the floodplain areas of Time Check and New Bo.   You cannot escape the wrath of the Red Cedar, it was here before anybody was around and best to minimize the damage by heeding the warnings and picking things up before the flood arrives.

Photo: Cale Henderson

Needless to say, the river has risen a couple feet today.  The walking trails at the Nature Center are now underwater in low areas and both Prairie Creek and Indian Creek are taking in Cedar River runoff.   This blog will chronicle the happenings as they happen.  The calm before the storm so to speak.      However, while they're trying to save New Bo, the core of engineers decided to keep the folks who own Tornado's Pub and Grill out of the makeshift Nesco Dam, as well as Kickstand and a couple buildings being remodeled.  The Art Gallery, Antique store across the street, they managed to get everything out of the building into storage before the NESCO dam was built.  Updates to come next few days, till the river crest and things slowly return back to normal.  Grace Potter is supposed to be playing at The Paramount on the 29th, two days after the flood crest. The Fab Four Beatles Tribute Band had to be postponed till next month.   But this will be a blog in progress.

Sunday:  River continues to rise to 13 feet in CR.  The Wapsi to the east has flooded out Littleton and Independence despite the efforts of sandbaggers trying to save houses in Littleton.  30 miles downriver, Lou Lou's in Olin, a camping ground is already beginning to flood.  River is supposed to crest around 24.5 feet in Anamosa on Wednesday. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Week In Review: TE Radio 22, Eagles Snub, Cubs Win

(Photo: SB Nation)

So ends the last weekend of summer.  New Bo park hosted the first ever harvest moon fest with local bands SaLOONatics, JC Project, Crankshaft in front of a small circle of musician friends and family.  I basically stayed home to watch Iowa get manhandled by North Dakota State (see last blog about that experience) and mowed the yard.  Almost fall and the grass still grows.  Friday Night sports, Marion's two game winning streak came to an end up in Dubuque as Wahlert beat them 17-13,  Arizona State almost got upset by University of Texas-San Antonio but managed to win on a last second Ballage TD and nuff said.  That would have been a more big upset than North Dakota State's so called shock heard around the world but then again ESPN or Fox sports don't hate ASU as much as they do of the Iowa Pretenders known as the Hawkeyes. ASU is 3-0, but their next foe is Cal, who managed to upset University of Texas-Austin (the real TX team).  Given how both teams have no defense whatsoever, it should be another basketball score in the making.

(photo: Getty Images)

The Chicago Cubs, managed to win the Central Division Friday when they beat Milwaukee, the fastest time they won the pennant since my grandpa was in grade school. Joe Maddon decided to give the guys time off over the weekend and Milwaukee whopped them on Saturday after yet another Jake Arrieta sub par pitching performance, he simply hasn't been the same since his Cy Young winning season of last year, in fact he's fading to be the number 3 ace behind Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester. Sunday, Hendricks got outpitched by a pitcher with a 5.91 era, to which Maddon decided vacation is over and played the regulars Monday for a win over the lowly Cincinnati Reds.

(Credit: Bob Yeazel)

Jerry Corbetta passed away, he was 68 and had Pick's Syndrome.   Best known as the vocalist for Chocolate Hair, later known as Sugarloaf since their record label didn't like the original name.  Big hit was Green Eyed Lady, which fit on AM radio, FM radio, underground radio, classic rock radio, oldies radio and so on. Later singles didn't figure much but their final top 2 hit, 1975's Don't Call Us We'll Call You used the phone number to CBS Records in New York as a ring tone, kinda of a novelty hit but the song really deal with (back then) bands trying to break into a major label and getting rejected.   Corbetta later would join the Four Seasons before touring as part of the Legends Of Rock groups that played state fairs around the country.

The Kennedy Center had announced that Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and Don Felder should not be included when The Eagles get honored in that televised gala  Kennedy Center Honors crap in December.  Probably a decision that Don Henley may have suggested since his feud with Felder has been tabloid fodder for the past 2 decades.  It was decided that Henley, Joe Walsh, Tim Schmit and the late Glenn Frey, casting his vote from beyond the grave, were the ones carrying the torch would be honored.  It way it goes. Say what you want about Felder, but if it wasn't for him kicking the Eagles in the ass to get that guitar lead sound right on the overplayed Hotel California, the Eagles would not sound the same.  Meisner played a crucial role as well as we all know from another overplayed song Take It To The Limit.  Without Bernie Leadon, they would be a very minor country rock band.  I won't take away Frey and Henley's role of perfecting those harmonies, but without Leadon, they'd be nothing.  And you won't see or hear that on the Kennedy Center Asskissing Honors show.  I love Joe Walsh, I can tolerate Tim Schmit, but on a whole, it remains the Henley/Frey show. They work well for live shows and excellent paydays, but that last Eagles album really was boring. If I want to celebrate their legacy, I'll just throw on any of their first three albums.

And the ratings so far this month, no views over 200 since September 7, hell no views over 100 since September 7.  If it wasn't for the Bruce Stanley Tribute blog, I might not have 100 views at all this month. Rest assured it'll be another 2,000 views but I rather not do another death blog about a good friend if this means higher ratings.   Usually the rule of thumb is that out of every 10 blogs I do write for the past month, only 1 or 2 get read.  Unless it's one of the ole reliable blogs (Circumstances beyond our control, Hanging With The Band) that continue to pop up in the most viewed, to which I probably blame some picture of a model for that.  And I still can't get into that candy apple red hair that Ivy Doomkitty has been sporting lately.

John D Loudermilk, one of the best all time songwriters known (Tobacco Road, Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye, Break My Mind, It's My Time covered by The Townedgers) passed away Tuesday from bone cancer. He was 82.

Record Reviews:

Aaron Lewis-Sinner (Dot/Big Machine 2016)

Given the fact that Aaron is better known for Staind, the Nu Metal band of the 1990s he tends to come across as yet another rocker trying to make it in country music but unlike Steven Tyler or Bret Michaels Aaron at least is making a valiant effort to come across as a country singer. He certainly is outlaw enough to be a convincing David Allen Coe, although I tend to think Coe is more imposter than Waylon and Willie  or Hank Jr. as all four plus Johnny and June and George Jones gets namechecked on That Ain't Country.  While Aaron gets bounty points for calling out fake Bro Country imposters such as FGL to which he shares the same label with, simply being on Big Machine does give suspicions if Lewis is actually country enough to really care about.   Lewis gets credit by adding Willie Nelson (sounding even more  of his 80 plus years voice on the title track) and hooking up with Buddy Cannon, who did produce albums from Willie and George Jones when the possum was still alive.  And likewise tapping Vince Gill and Alison Krauss for vocal support.  The downside is that being on Big Machine, Lewis is probably required to write a song about trucks and back roads and we get that on Northern Redneck, probably Lewis's trying to appease the Bro Country crowd, but I think it comes across as tongue in cheek rather than horse manure that FGL or Luke Bryan is known for.  Another downside is that there's quite a bit of slow tempo outlaw songs that meander on the second side of the album.  Plus there's a Straind  like bellow on Mama that suggest Lewis is trying too hard to hit those out of reach notes in the chorus.  In the end, the record wins out, due to that Lewis took on a Chris Stapleton song in Whiskey And You and it sounds fine, but what wins me over is daughter Zoe covering Bruce Robison's Travelin' Soldier, originally done by The Dixie Chicks.  For being 13 years old, Zoe sounds right at home with the traditional country sound.   It's still hard for me to even think ever about listening or even buying Aaron Lewis's album, given that I never cared much for Staind.  Since Aaron was adamant about blasting the bro country crowd and that the folks at Saving Country Music even talked about this gave me the reason to listen to Sinner. He does show himself to be more David Allen Coe than the original outlaws of country, and even if Coe is the least of them all, it's not that bad to be compared to Coe.   It's rough around the edges like Willie and Waylon and a bit inconsistent like David Allen Coe, but it's a hell of a lot more honest than Steven Tyler's country attempt.  It is a good country album.
Grade B

John Fogerty-Centerfield (Warner Brothers 1984, later issued via Dreamworks/Geffen)

With CCR, Fogerty made some of the best swamp rock albums in the history of music, to which his vision or the music clashed with the CCR rhythm section and after Marti Gra, John cut them loose and begin somewhat of decade an half exile, throwing together DIY projects like The Blue Ridge Rangers and a Asylum album that has disappeared from sight.  That Asylum J.F. album had a great song in Almost Saturday Night and a good one with Rockin All Over The World but the rest of that album I can't remember.  And then for 9 years he'd disappear to the point that Joe Strummer actually requested that John would come up with something new and John did, by surprising the world with Centerfield, a album that seemed to pick up where Marti Gras left off, but without Doug and Stu hanging around.  I guess they are missed from a fan's viewpoint but John thought good riddence.  In fact The Old Man Down The Road is so damn CCR sounding you have to check the credits and no, that's John doing all instruments and vocals.   Take away the electric drums and you would swear it was 1969 all over again.  I think the title track remains a bit corny, Vanz Can't Danz might have ole Zal Zentz still spinning in his grave but even for the disco beat and goofy drum solo I like it fine and the short and simple songs of Big Train From Memphis and I Saw It on TV are vintage Fogerty, even though he did add some Creedence riffs to Saw It On TV.  John has managed to stick around and put out more albums in the next few years and finally learned to embrace the magic sounds of Creedence and has become more of a better tribute artist to that band than his estranged bandmates, but I do admit I haven't had much interest in the past two albums that Fogerty has done.  If his Asylum 1975 effort was a misstep, Centerfield was a full fledged return back to the basis and the fact that simple three chord rock and roll if done right can remain timeless.  By far Centerfield, is John's solo masterpiece.
Grade A-

Frank Zappa-ZAPPatite (Zappa 2016)

I don't think there'll be a best of Frank Zappa album we can all be happy with.  Strictly Commercial, the Rykodisc 90s best of, is probably is the best of the bunch and Zappa tried to compile a best of the Mothers with Mothermania  but Zappatite, while adventurous, pales next to Commercial, and poor choice of songs from Overnight Sensation (trading Montana for Dirty Love), perhaps I'm The Slime makes a great lead off song and probably says more about Zappa's output overall. Zappa could play it straight, although rare,  Peaches En Regalia might be his best overall song ever, and Trouble Comin Every Day his best rock song overall.  And of course his usual progressive rock fun of Cosmic Debrik and Titties And Beer.  G Spot Tornado, hints of a synclavier future we could do without and Strictly Genteel is Zappa reaching to be a classical composer.  For a sampler of what Zappa was, it's uneven as hell, but if you're looking for something that has Peaches, I'm The Slime, Valley Girl, and Joe's Garage here you go.  But Strictly Commercial is a much better overview.
Grade B-

Adele-21 (Columbia 2011)

I know.  She's got a good voice and lord almighty she can belt out those heartbreaking torch songs, but she doesn't rock enough for me and the sob songs get tiring after a while. Rolling In The Deep and Rumor Has It are excellent songs, the former probably the best song she's ever done and she has enough variety to Rumor Has It that  it's worth to hear a few more times.  Whitney Houston also had a great voice and I would have liked her better had she not shout and scream out of control.  The uptempo stuff, there's much of, outside of Take It All and Rolling and Rumor.  Her last album probably had the same amount of ballads as well and I think I liked it better than 25.  But for a 1.88 special, it's one of those albums that I had to listen just to see what the fuss is about.   21, Adele puts her heart and soul into these songs but I think I prefer Amy Rigby or Linda Thompson if I want to hear love gone wrong songs.
Grade C+ 

Music Of My Years-Cinderella Night Songs (Mercury 1987)

This is too hard rock for me consider it to be hair metal.  Tom Keifer had more Nazareth in him than Bon Jovi, who was instrumental of getting Cinderella on Mercury Records.  Certainly a lot of Aerosmith comes into play, but credit Andy Johns (RIP) for giving them the hard rock and roll sound that wasn't hair metal.  The hard rock riffs of Push Push and hit singles Somebody Save Me and Shake Me  were head banging fun, although Keifer's lyrics are very simpleminded.  If Nobody's Fool reminded one of Bringing On The Heartbreak by Def Leppard, Leifer channels his inner Dan McCaffery to make it sound harder than Poison or Motley Crue for that matter.  Hell On Wheels even sounds a bit like Blackfoot's Warped although I'm sure Keifer and the boys would ever deny of hearing Blackfoot, maybe Ted Nugent was thought of?  No matter, I tend to enjoy Cinderella's first album more than Motley Crue and Poison or even Ratt for that matter, but with Long Cold Winter and otherwise I never paid much attention.  Night Songs remains their bona fide classic album.  Their poofy hairdo might have made them come across as Hair Metal but in reality, Cinderella was pure hard rock and roll.
Grade B+

Townedger Radio 22-Broadcast via Lucky Star Radio 9/22/16

Listen-Screaming Jay Hawkins
Trying To Forget You-Howlin Wolf
It Don't Come Easy-The Smithereens
Aging Eyes-Tommy Bruner
Nickels And Dimes-Wooden Nickel Lottery
Orion Subsiding-King Buffalo 
Different Shade Of Blue-The Townedgers
Myth Of Love-The Georgia Satellites
Feel This/No Fat Burger-Descendants
Him Or Me-Bun E. Carlos
Black Rose (A Rock Legend)-Thin Lizzy

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Rock and Roll and the Mockery Of Iowa Football

I don't think this could have waited till the next week in review blog.  This loss is historic in the fact that anybody suggesting that Iowa had a legitimate chance to be a force in the Big Ten West should be laughed at.  Fox Sports spudboy Colin Cowpie Cowherd is going to rub it in your face.  Iowa you're simply not good enough to even be considered in the top 25 ever again.

For a FCB school North Dakota State is a force to be reckon with. They win and win and wind and then sometimes they go play a Power 5 college and beat them.  They have done that six straight times now.  They were picked to win this game.  It wasn't the shot heard around the world as ESPN Butchie  Beth Mowens  wold exclaim time and time again after NDSU won on the last second field goal 23-21.  The Bison did exactly what Michigan State did to Iowa in the championship game last year,  they simply played power run football and shoved it down the Hawkeyes throat.  And the defense failed.  And the offense failed.  For a high powered bunch of running backs and all American pretty boy C J Bethard at quarterback and WRs, the offense managed to have negative nine yards in the forth quarter.  Not exactly the stuff that winning teams are made of.

The 2016 Iowa Hawkeyes wanted to prove that last year was not a fluke, they went undefeated all season till they trip up against Michigan State and then got blown out of the Rose Bowl by Stanford.  Critics like Cowpie Cowerd scoffed all along the way, saying Iowa played nobody, they got lucky at Wisconsin and they got lucky against Nebraska.  There was no North Dakota State last year and good thing too, Iowa would have lost that game as well.   But in order for Iowa to be taken seriously, they had to pony up a tough team before the Big Ten, why not drop a half a million to North Dakota State and have them show up and lay down and take the money home, why not?  Only problem is NDS was on a mission to come to Iowa City and kick ass and win the game, not just win it but dominate it and that they did in the final quarter against a tired Iowa defense that ran out of gas once again due to piss poor offense plays.

There was no line on the game, but I figured North Dakota State would win it.  Of course around the state, hardly anybody noticed and predicted that since the Big Ten had better players they would win regardless. The Bisons didn't see it that way as they shredded Iowa's defense for big yards rushing.  One of the greatest upsets in college football history?  Bullshit. North Dakota State could have beaten anybody from the Big Ten West and give Ohio State a good run for the money. But ESPN, the anti Hawkeye channel and FOX SPORTS with Colin Kocksuck will blow their horn and give this game the top story.  But even you, me and Colin Clueless will tell you this game is not a upset.  But this game has branded The Iowa Hawkeyes to be forever pretenders to the NCAA championship this season.  They are going to have to win ALL of the games, plus the bowl game against the other team and thank their lucky stars North Dakota State will not be that team.  But I have a better chance at winning the lottery then the Hawks winning the championship this season.

Whatever shred of credibility Iowa had left went out the door.  It doesn't matter if they blow out their foes 100-0 from here on out, nobody is going to give them any credit, Iowa will be, like Colin Clitherd will remind you, pretenders and shouldn't be there.  In fact, maybe The Big Ten West should trade Iowa for North Dakota State since NDS wins more the games they should rather than the Hawks who continue to crack under pressure of playing a top rated team be it Power 5 or FCB.    There was hope that perhaps beating NDS they would at least get some sort of cred.  Not anymore. This game pretty sums up the feelings of what the naysayers have said about Iowa, they're not good enough, they're pretenders.  And sorry to say, I have to agree with the hated Colin Custardpie, they're are pretenders and there's not a damn thing they can do about it, till they finally get off their collective asses and beat a Michigan or a Michigan State or a Stanford but rest assured they won't be going to the Rose Bowl this year.

They just don't have it and North Dakota State proved it.

PS:  Now that I calmed down, it isn't a total waste of a season and that one game would shape up the scope of the rest of the season, which BIG TEN games start taking over. That said, North Dakota State is a force to be reckon with and if Michigan or Ohio State don't want to play them, that's fine too.  The Bisons would have battled them tooth and nail.  But I remain unconvinced that this was a upset and an embarrassment,  the latter yes it was since it made top news around the sports channel across the America and the naysayers laughing their asses off, as an upset, it wasn't.  By adding NDSU, Iowa did try to toughen up themselves by playing quality rivals, but in the process they failed since they couldn't stop the power run in the final quarter, to which their opponents will now use in their plan of attack on future Hawkeye games.  And in any case the other teams they play will be tougher than last year, Nebraska is tougher, likewise Wisconsin and Minnesota and they want their trophies back.  Wisconsin remains the most shaky of the trio, Nebraska upset Oregon and who knows what the Gophers have in store.   Even Maryland is not a gimme game either, nor Rutgers, which the Hawks go to play there. If Rutgers win, that would be considered a bigger upset than the so called NDSU game.  Nevertheless, with each loss to a quality team does not help Iowa at all but rather confirms everybody belief that they will be pretenders and until Iowa beats a Michigan, a Michigan State or a Ohio State, the masses will not be convinced. And the falling out has begun, in the Amway top twenty five  coaches poll, they falter down to number 25.

However history has shown that after a bad loss, Iowa would come back and kick butt.  They did that when Arizona State blitzed them out of Tempe in 2004 but Iowa came back to share the title and a bowl game victory, and in 2002 after Iowa State took them out, went 8-0 to share the title and then lose in the Orange Bowl. And another Missouri Valley team in 2009 almost beat them if their FG kicker didn't miss a couple of field goals, after that Iowa did wake up and start winning and then winning the Orange Bowl that year.  Wake up calls like those did enable Iowa to get serious about playing again and playing winning football.   It has been done before.  But they are not going to convince Cowpie Cowerd, not now and maybe not later, unless it's a top 3 NCAA football powerhouse. It would have been easier to give half a million to Northern Iowa and perhaps a easier game but nothing is a gimme, unless your playing cupcake schools and junior colleges in need of money.  North Dakota State gladly took the money and promptly kicked Iowa's offense and defense line's ass all over Iowa City.   When your punter moves the ball better than your vaulted Running attack (only 34 rushing yards all day from all of them) and NDSU runs it that much plus 205 more yards, it's going to be a loss regardless.  Perhaps the Hawks should have given half a mil to Prairie View A and M or Trump University, ESPN would have ridiculed them (like Colin Cookiepuss Cowerd) anyway but it still would have been a win.  Next week's game with Rutgers will tell if The Hawks will be as advertised or worse, not even a ordinary subpar team.  Guess we'll wait and see next week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week In Review, Sports, Country Perspective, Leonard Haze, Unmarked 45s

Baseball season is winding down, and for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, they started out with a 9-3 victory on Saturday Afternoon, Clinton took the next two including the winner take all 1-0 11 inning victory.  The odd thing about playoff baseball in the minor leagues is that hardly anybody shows up for these games.  Only 620 folks made it to the stands and half of them were the Clinton faithful.  Cubs will finally clinch the division title later in the week but it seems the ace of the staff is Kyle Hendricks who almost no hit the Cardinals Monday with a 4-1 Cubs victory.

The NFL season started and the San Diego Chargers did their usual choke job in Kansas City, blowing a 17 point lead,  leading 24-3 before the Chiefs came back on a very poor Chargers defense and the usual fold job from Philip Rivers, winning 33-27 in overtime to which my best friend had to give me grief over that before I reminded him of the Cubs whopping his Cardinals team.  Still San Diego is poised to once again occupy the basement of the AFC West, they went 0-8 against their divisional rivals and starting out 0-1.  A long season is in store.  Even though Rivers has been a iron man, playing in 161 straight games at quarterback, his erratic playing has always pissed me off and I always thought of him lowly, although he's a step up from another erratic QB in Jay Cutler.   But then again, with Joey Boo Hoo Boza out with a hamstring pull  after holding out all of the preseason is giving one of the second coming of Ryan Leaf.  Mike McCoy may not be around long as coach but the biggest problem remains The Spanos family continuing to shoot themselves in the foot in bad draft picks and a shit defense that can't stop the run, nor the past.  Or worst of all, playing three quarters and taking the fourth quarter off, even the rookie punter gave Kansas City help with a shit 17 yard punt. The 24-3 lead was a fluke, and I knew that as I turned the game off and went to do my usual Sunday Afternoon thing, doing a couple songs at the Popcorn Jam and finally getting to play alongside Craig Erickson along with the best players in town with Dan Johnson and Tommy Bruner. Sad to say, my set list was about 5 minutes for both songs.   But then again there were 7 other drummers in tow, and we were limited to two songs.  The way it goes but the others had some jamming numbers, including a stunning interplay between Jeremy Jacobs and Erickson on three Hendrix numbers with, Trevor Ott pounding on drums.  Next time bring ear plugs, a reminder to myself.

In the Cy Hawk game, the trophy stays home as Iowa destroyed Iowa State 42-3 and it wasn't even close.  Even with that, Iowa dropped a notch, no love from the Coaches Poll whatsoever and probably never until they beat somebody more notable.  Top rated North Dakota State of the FCB is next.  That's not going to be easy and but a NDS win and you'll get ESPN and Colin Cocksuk Cowherd telling you that Iowa remains a joke.   The prediction remains Iowa to be 8-4, Nebraska and Wisconsin have improved big time and they are wanting their trophies back.  I'm hoping that won't be the case.

(Source: ESPN)

Arizona State outlasted Texas Tech 68-55 in a wild offense display by Kalen Ballage who scored a record tying 8 touchdowns in one game.  Texas Tech has always had a wild offense masterminded by Kliff Kingsbury but his theory is to outscore the opponent since his teams lack defense.  Not that Arizona State isn't that great, but they did managed to intercept a couple passes and score a safety.   After the game Ballage invited his offense line to the interview room and gave them some heaping praise.  Of course ASU has a new offense coordinator in Chip Lindsay replacing Mike Lovell and new quarterback Manny Wilkins as Mike Borcovici graduated and moved on to a brief spell with San Diego.  The main ASU RB is Demario Richard who ran for over 100 yards but Ballage got the TDs. Pat Mamhomes threw for 540 yards and two TDs and Justin Stockton ripped the Sun Devils Defense for a 75 yard TD run but in the end, Texas Tech came up empty on three drives in the third and fourth quarter.  For a rebuilding year, ASU might have a crack at 4-0 with winnable games against Texas/San Antonio (Who) and California, but it might be wise to bring some sort of defense to the game next time.  You can't play basketball scores all the time.

On the music side of things.  Mikkey Dee has found new employment as drummer for the Scorpions replacing James Kottak.  Leonard Haze, former drummer for Y & T died from COPD, he was 61.  Haze always played Ludwig drums, which I remember quite fondly from that band's era.  Haze also did time with Ian Gillan's band before forming his own band HazeXexpierince.   Jerry Donahue, guitarist for Fairport Convention suffered a major stroke which has paralyzed his right side and he can no longer play the guitar.   The town of Maquoketa had a 2 day music fest with the likes of John Moreland and a few other big name bands but I had to cancel due to Bruce Stanley's funeral and the Cedar Rapids Kernels winning game one of the finals 9-3 over Clinton.

(Discogs: Photo)

Record collecting in this day and age can be fun, but it can also be frustrating as hell, even more so when going to record stores and seeing boxes of unmarked 45s and hoping to find a bargain, only to have the owner of the record store look it up on the internet and inflate the price of a scratched up 45.  I do not mind paying 6 dollars for something that I have been looking for, or four for a promo copy of Mirror Star by the Fabulous Poodles, only to take it home and seeing it played like a G rated 45, scratched up beyond belief.  Basically since where I bought it from is about a 100 miles away, this is one I have to take on the chin.  It's a crapshoot on taking chances on 45s in a box and I should have known better so I blame myself on figuring I found a bargain but in the end I didn't.  The Unit Four By Two, Concrete And Clay was in better condition but as history has shown, those old London Records never stood the test of time and most of anything from London or the London based distributed labels (Sire in their first year, Parrot, Hi), the hard vinyl tends to fall apart after each play.  The consideration factor is that most if not all 45s from 50, 60 years ago have been played and most are not in excellent or mint shape, unless it's a fluke, such as the Waterloo finds of a couple weeks ago.  All in pristine shape and the owner of them took excellent care of them but they were found at a consignment store.  I can see today's record store owners trying to survive and make a buck in a world that streaming on your smartphone makes it hard for a brick and mortar store stay in business, it's another when you're looking at jukebox forty fives and finding something out of the ordinary and them knowing they can pop you in the pooper.  The single in question is The Superiors 1965 Verve single What Will I Do, which looked to be in good shape, to which the price to own this would have been 30 dollars, a bargain since it was sold off EBAY for 55 dollars!  A good song but not enough for me to buy it and play it  a couple times at best and comment about it.  However, there are Northern Soul record collectors willing to  pay 30 dollars for it.   There's one up for bids at EBAY at 7.99 starting bid.  I'm sure that price will climb as the days go by.

But in the past couple years of haggling with my record store owner buddies for scratchy singles, I have become more and more tired of the search for unpriced  single 45s and would rather try my luck at the thrift stores.  Once in a while I'll strike instant gratification gold, but as my Wednesday bargain hunts went, they were not so much of a bargain. The way it goes in the vinyl revival era nowadays.

The ratings of Blogspot is confusing to say the very least but I do think that the 514 plus views on my tribute to Bruce Stanley are honest enough to put it in 4th place in the all time views of Record World. Those who shared and viewed it.  Bruce thanks you from The Great Beyond. 

Site of the month: Country Perspective.  This guy goes above and beyond on the state of country music then and now.

Record Reviews

Whiskey Myers-Mud (Thirty Tigers 2016)

Southern rock in this decade remains a mixed bag at best, but at least you can call it rock better than  the bubblegum hair metal-autotuned  sounds of Bro Country.  A gigantic 7 member band from Texas, they are somewhat linked to Blackberry Smoke, to which Mud, the new W.M album can be compared to B.S's The Whippoorwill all the way to the soul sister screamer (Kristen Rogers) who does exactly that on a few songs here.  While I'm not all that convinced that Mud is a classic album, it is a steady work of progress that gets better with each new song, I usually think Southern Rock has to have at least one or two uptempo numbers.  Like most other Southern Rockers of this day age, Whiskey Myers doesn't do the uptempo all that much, mostly Southern shuffles and red dirt Country like songs (On The River, Lightning Bugs And Rain) or Drive By Truckers inspired Trailer We Call Home.  I kinda wished they did boogie a bit more such as the Bad Company driven Some Of Your Love, the Black Crowes rock of Frogman (Written with Rich Robinson of you know who) and the rock of Hank to which Hank Jr is name checked, and not Senior, 3, Locklin nor Snow.  Deep Down In The South might be aimed at the Bro Country dudes and probably Dave Cobb, their producer might have something to do with that.  Their first album Early Morning Shakes from 2014 might be the better of their albums, but for a followup, this is not a waste either. For the likes of the new Southern Rock, it took a while for DBTs and Blackberry Smoke to find their inner classic album in them and Mud I wouldn't say is a bonafide five star album, but Whiskey Myers is on to something and I still think they got a bright future in them.  Mud is down and dirty, but it is a promising good time.
Grade B+

The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl (Apple/Capitol/UME 2016)

The reissue of the year is a no brainer.  People have been clamoring for this to be issued on CD (those who still buy CDs that is) and the original album did only last 29 minutes for a full set.  Adding four more tracks from the other Hollywood Bowl concert gives us I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Baby's In Black and it's amazing how the late George Martin and his son Giles managed to get the music out in front out of all them screaming girls.  The songs are shorter, faster and even more tighter than their studio counterparts and The Beatles did rock with the best of them.  Guess there wasn't a workable version of I Saw Her Standing There, but for punk rock, I think Ringo Starr started it with this version of Boys.  Seems like everything they did was historic and an classic, even in a live setting.
Grade A

Butch Engle And The Styx-No Matter What You Say (Beat Rocket 2000)

He was better known as writing with Ron Elliot of The Beau Brummels  and probably helped them shaped up the sound during their Warner Brothers era, but on a whole Butch and The Styx had a bit more in common with The Association or Triangle era B.B's and not exactly rock and roll.  In fact when they try to venture out into hippy dippy flower power psych pop, they don't convince me very well, even with all that gobs of echo thrown in.  This album has just about everything they recorded as demos and a failed single for Loma and another failed single for Onyx , Puppermaster to which Ron Eliot would record with the Beaus later on and version two of Hey I'm Lost, not exactly a good song to be repeated three times over.  I brought this simply of the connection to the Beau Brummels.  But for demos and a handful of singles only the folks at Sundazed could come up with this sort of overview.   But it's one of those albums that you will listen one time just for the sake of historical means of a major player helping out another band and doing better than the output that he recorded for his own band.   And even Triangle doesn't do much for me either.  No matter what I say.
Grade C+

Creedence Clearwater Revival-Marti Gras (Fantasy 1971)

Whether or not you agree with Rolling Stone or Spin's assertion that this is one of the all time worst albums from CCR, you have to admire that John Fogerty, tired of hearing his rhythm section whine about not getting any credit where credit is done on the previous albums, told Doug and Stu to come up with something and see what happens.  And of course their songs paled in comparison to John's, although I don't think they are not listenable.   In fact, there's sort of a goofy charm on Need Somebody To Hold, and Stu's Door To Door isn't bad, it did make B side to Sweet Hitch Hiker, by far the best song on this album.  Fogerty didn't really break much of a sweat when he decided to make this album a democracy,   Looking For A Reason and minor hit Someday Never Comes are good, but not great John Fogerty songs and perhaps Hello Mary Lou was him marking time.  But even a half inspired John Fogerty songs are better than most of what Stu Cook and Doug Clifford came up with.  Even as CC Revisited, I don't think they bother much of even doing their own songs live anymore.  The real money remains the hits of course. Overall, it's the weakest of the CCR output as everybody agrees but it isn't without its charm.  An A for effort I suppose but in the end. it's a .....
Grade B+

Sleepy LaBeef-The Human Jukebox (Sun 1995)

He recorded for Plantation back in the 1970s, and this short 12 song set came out on Sun from various albums and sessions.  Of course I bought it for Blackland Farmer, his failed 1971 single but here he takes on some of the old boogie country rock and roll songs of yesterday.  He does add something different to Bob Wills Faded Love and makes it more bluesy and his versions of Boom Boom Boom, Good Boogie Tonight (aka Good Rockin Tonight) and Tore Up can rival a good bar band.  The misstep is Me And Bobby McGee where he tries to incorporate both Janis and Jerry Lee Lewis and it just doesn't work very well.  I'm sure there's better albums to hear LaBeef but The Human Jukebox, is still worth hearing simply of the fact Blackland Farmer is on this.
Grade B

The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band (Asylum 1974 reissued via Elektra/Wounded Bird 2000)

And now perhaps the biggest waste of an all star lineup it seems. Former Buffalo Springfield Richie Furay joins forces with Byrds/Burrito Brothers wonderkind Chris Hillman along with hotshot song writer John David Souther and backed with Al Perkins (Manassas), Jim Gordon (session drummer extraordinaire for Delaney And Bonnie and Derek And The Dominoes, and The Carpenters just to name a few) and Al Harris (Manassas, CSN), and trying to make an album to appeal to fans of Poco or the target audience of The Eagles and it falls flat on its face.  It's one of those albums that I continue to buy, then donate and then buy back to see what the fuss is all about.  I love Fallin In Love, their failed hit single and like Border Town and even Chris Hillman's hard rocking Safe At Home but like the last time I listened to this, the rest of the songs are bland or just plain suck.  The guess is that John David Souther couldn't get along with Richie Furay or vice versa and it turned out to be a waste of time and the album went straight to the cut out bins, do not pass go or collect 200 dollars, although the LP cost me a measly dollar.   While Furay is credited for the best song of Fallin In Love, he gets the blame for the worst song Believe Me.  He should never try to hit the high notes ever again.   Anyway, the CD is now out of print and used copies sell for over 20 dollars.  You're better off just cherry picking Falling In Love and Safe At Home for 1.29 per single or pay 6.99 for a MP3 copy.  To which I suggest the former.  Or better yet, pick up Cantamos by Poco or On The Border from The Eagles, they were much more enjoyable than this failed B team super group.
Grade C

Music From My Youth-Z Z Top-El Loco (Warner Brothers 1981)

This was the record that Billy Gibbons decided to incorporate more of a new wave kick in the boogie blues' ass that was ZZ Top and while Eliminator broke them big, El Loco I like better.  It doesn't get run into the ground like Eliminator and I love the goofy Tube Snake Boogie and the naughty naughty Pearl Necklace although my best friend complains that the radio station plays those songs too much.  It's a strange record, they do return to a boogie blues with I Wanna Drive You Home before going El Loco, with Ten Foot Pole to which Mr Gibbons talks nonsense, and probably inspired The Melvins into doing their own gibberish nonsense song Hootch years later.  Another strange fact is that Leila, made the top 30 in rock but that song never gets played on classic rock radio.  Side 2 starts out with It's So Hard somewhat of a yawner before Pearl Necklace and then their new wave move with Groovy Little Hippie Pad and B-52 inspired Party On The Patio.  But I also love the humorous Heaven Hell Or Houston.   In the end I think El Loco was the end of ZZ Top as a band of well meaning for me, Eliminator was better but MTV and KRNA and KKRQ and other assorted rock stations have played most of those songs to death.  El Loco was the first album for ZZ Top to get hip to the times and they would get more famous as the 80s wore on.
Grade B+

And now, the bi yearly Can't Review Them All series of artists and bands that are not cost effective.
The music biz is full of them.

Jason Aldean-The Dwight Yoakam of Bro Country (not a slam on Dwight but rather a comparison), Jason has managed to carve out a ten year career of bad country and bad rock and roll to make turd after turd albums.  Of course name checking Johnny Cash, the logic is thinking he's country if he namechecks a legend, but then again if Nickelback namechecks Johnny Cash or Webb Pierce, they could called country too.  Strange how it works in this day and age.  Aldean's music is not exactly memorable, but to stay relevant get another bro county or flavor of the month (Kelsea Ballerini) and do a duet for a new album, which he did.  I had a friend that did a meet and greet with Jason and she mentioned he was kinda creepy, just like that Johnny Cash song.  As for Dwight Yoakam, Dwight's last subpar album is ten times better than the new Aldean album.

The Mars Volta-Nothing screams prog rock more than hyper speed beats and shouted out lyrics that nobody can understand.  Frances The Mute was that album it might be worse than anything kOrn ever did.  The most overrated band of the 2000s.

Megadeth-Out of all the metal bands that broke big in the 1980s, Dave Mustane's band has never made much of an impression on me,  I did buy Peace Sells But Who's Buying years ago but something about his vocals that I never cared much for.  He continues to make the news on a regular basis, throwing out band members, welcoming new members and then throwing them out and then have some former bandmates return and get thrown out.  Dave always had great musicians backing him up though.  For classic Megadeth, Rust In Peace is the one that gets the most votes, followed by Peace Sells and then Countdown To Extinction.  After that you're on your own.

Guns And Roses-They entered my restricted list simply of the fact that classic rock radio overplays Welcome To The Jungle and Sweet Child O Mine.  Appetite For Destruction remains a rock classic, but like most classics overplayed on KKRQ or KRNA you get sick of hearing the endless plays of those two Corporation Approved Rock Songs.  Granted GnR were not hair metal, the guitars of Slash and Izzy Stratlin were the Joe Perry/Brad Whitford of that band.  The key player is Izzy Stratlin, who favored a more roots rock and roll with a side of reggae and his songs on Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 still are quite good but since Axel Rose doesn't sing them, you don't hear them on the radio.  There is a goofy charm to The Spaghetti Incident?, which GnR finds some rock and punk covers that's worth a 1.98 in the cut out bins.  It is true that Axel Rose runs a tight ship and as the original members drop out due to drug problems and music disagreements, has managed to keep band going and finally giving the world The Chinese Democracy after years of delays.  It's listenable but not as classic as Appetite or the best of Use Your Illusion albums.  While Slash and Axel finally settled their differences enough to stand each other on stage again this year (2016).  Duff McKegan also joined them on stage through a successful summer tour that even Steven Adler managed to play drums on a few numbers but while fans raved about the original trio back together, to me it wasn't a full reunion with Izzy Stradlin missing and not taking part, later making a rare comment that he wasn't invited to the reunion (it's all about the $$$).  But the world remains happy that as long Slash is there, it's GnR.  A side note: my mom forbid me to bring and GnR albums into the house, not that it mattered much. There were more harder rocking and better bands that never got the credit that was bestowed upon GnR (Kings Of The Sun anybody?), and I doubt that GnR saved rock and roll even back then.  If you stand Sweet Child O Mine playing many times during the day this late in life, you're welcome to them.

Kanye West-He is rap, he drowns himself in autotuner, he's married to a Kadashian and is overrated even by Rolling Stone Magazine standards.  He's only rock with his mouth, and did I mentioned he's rap?

Tony Bennett-He's 90 years young and probably still be swinging the big band pop and lite jazz till he's dead.  Like pop singers of that era, it wasn't cool to like Tony Bennett, but he is good at what he does.  I heard the duet with Lady Gaga from that album is fairly good. Two albums of note is the I Left My Heart In San Francisco and If I Ruled The World-The Jet Set Album, both from the 60s and anything with Ralph Sheldon Trio is worth hearing, and the recently released album with Dave Brubeck is worth hearing as well.  Perhaps if I'm still around when I turn 70 I might be interested in what he has out there to listen to.  But like Frank and Dean, it's not the right time for me to indulge myself in his albums.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Week In Review: Labor Day Music, Waterloo, BDW 45s

For the next week I'm off from work.  It's been a very long and tiring summer of trying to complete a project for a state that would yank the contract away from my place of employment and give it to another competitor but yet we can still clean up this fucking mess that they left us.  It didn't scan worth a shit on our scanners and those 8 different vendors didn't know how to make scanning test scores.   What this summer was to be a furlough off to play in bands didn't turn out as planned.  But then again it's been that way at my place of employment for 6 years now running, layoffs and more job cuts and less and less work to do.  One gets tired of hearing the usual bad news from our CEO, it's no longer about the worker who tries to get things done with subpar and outdated materials, scanners and printers.   What used to be a company that cared about their employees, was sold off by a conman to another company which has been taking away the things that make going to work tolerable.  The makings of being on the USS Titanic, but unlike the ship sinking in a few hours, our company has had a slow leak since 2010, but now that slow lead is up to our necks.  I doubt if there will be a blue cart with my name on it when my last day arrives.  Just like Tom and Jim who was with this company for 40 years and the only reward is a payoff and a good luck in your future endeavors.

It has been yet another year of death and disappointments, most recently Bruce Stanley, which is in the previous blog, and now the one of original folks who started up Zia Records passed on too Brian Faber.  It's been three years since my last Arizona trip, but Zia's was one of my favorite hang out places when I went to AZ or Vegas for that week away to get away from Chaos Central. Thirty years ago, when I lived in Chandler, Zia's was my second home.  Zia's continues to be the exception to the rule of record and CD stores going out of business.  The guess is that Zia's will be around to stay, too bad we can't say the same to Hastings which is now history.   But the reality remains that I'll won't make it back to Arizona anymore.   The hassles of flying, renting a car, motel etc is simply not cost effective and certainly with Hastings gone less stores to find cheap music.  This year will mark thirty years ago that I attempted to move out to Arizona to start a new life, only to succumb making meager wages in a right to work state and a Aunt's impatience that threw me out of the house to come back up here.  To the point that I have nothing to do with Aunt Sarge and even my brother, who she still tries to maintain some sort of family connection with the usual monthly blabbering, wants little to do with her.   Bruce passes on but yet Aunt Sarge continues to live on, with years of living under 110 degree Arizona sun has melted her brains into cheese wiz.

I haven't been much in a blogging mood, even less with Bruce now gone but as the way Bruce would want it, I continue to head into town to check out bands and partake on bargain hunts.  The big thing was Blitz Creek, a two day rock and metal fest at around Center Point to which most if not all rock and metal bands took part in.   The new boss wouldn't let us out early Friday Night, so I missed out on In The Attic playing at New Bo outdoors but managed to see 50 Shades Of Rock and Tiffany Z at J and A and chatted with her a bit.  With school starting up Tiffany will be hitting the books rather than the drums.  Regardless, I still love to watch her play drums and still remains one of the best drummers around, and I'll do my best to see her next time the band is in town.

Saturday, I went up to Waterloo to get away from it all for an afternoon of seeing what St. Vincent De Paul had for music but alas, there wasn't much for 45s, most were still the old scratched up stuff that's been there for months but I did find a three LPs, and a couple CDs for 3 dollars.  I doubt if anybody would ever buy Leapy Lee, George Hamilon, Dave Dudley, Chet Baker with Paul Desmond and The Gaslight Anthem in a single visit.  Another surprise was that Stuff Etc, somebody brought up a pristine collection of promo 45s of old R and B stuff.  Mostly big band, jazz but I had to hear Prez Pardo version of the Marilyn Monroe Mambo.  It certainly isn't rock and roll but one of those curios you had to hear just once.  Just like, um that George Hamilton By George! fiasco album.  Whoever kept those 45s, kept them in great shape, even sticking a zip lock bag over the original 45 sleeves.  And for 99 cents a piece they were worth a listen.  I managed to get a better copy of House Of Blue Lights from Chuck Miller than the one that I had.   But I'm not sure if anybody would be interested in these 45s for a future Singles Going Steady Blog, outside of Chuck Miller and The Platters' Only You, most are either pop big band or jazz.  They're certainly not rock and roll.  But I commend the owner for painstakingly keeping these 60 year old artifacts in good shape, so I think I'll keep the ziplock bags in tact.

There were some cheap CDs at the pawn shop in Waterloo I thought about getting but passed on that, likewise a bunch of 45s from the Goodwill Cedar Falls store; I'd love a copy of Daddy Cool from The Rays but the record seen better days and there a bunch more old big band classics from the likes of Gene Krupa and Perry Como, and a Hit Records attempt at the Lonely Bull and Telstar but I passed. Independence Goodwill had Radio Moscow first CD, and I wanted to revisit that CD.  I guess 8 years after the fact that it wasn't as memorable or good as my first review of it.  It's not bad for heavy trio blues hard rock in the style of Frank Marino leading Blue Cheer, but it's not an A minus that I originally gave it.  More like a straight B grade.  Independence is a small town but I tend to go there for supper rather than Waterloo's places of eatery.  The Pizza Ranch  really didn't have a good pizza selection so it was biscuits and gravy, and of course a porta potty would come in handy about 20 minutes later.  I drove back down 150 on the way to Waubeek to check out a local month jam session, which I stayed for 2 songs.  The guy had electric drums and I don't do well with electric drums.

Sunday was Ballgame with The Kernels and they were shut out 5-0, wasted an afternoon there, so I went down to Parlor City to catch up with Wooden Nickel Lottery's CD debut gig and while the intention was to stay for a short set then off to the jams, I ended up staying through all of the second set and managed to chat with Jess and Rich Toomsen.  Rich is a guitar slinging madman putting together some wild licks part Stevie Ray, part Joe Bonamassa and even Joe Satriani.  Delayne Stillman is almost perfect for the blues tinted songs that WNL does, as they promoted their new album Down The Line.  Rick Gallo sounds a lot like Vince Gill or Craig Fuller, he is the most elusive member of that band, I've never talked to him at great length like I have with Jess or Rich for that matter.  But he can also play guitar as well.   Jess told me that WNL doesn't have much coming up for gigs, mostly private parties and perhaps later addition back to Parlor City.  Basically a play it by ear since WNL doesn't do many covers,  Rick did cover I'm Not The Only One and Further Up The Road or The Thrill Is Gone.  But I'm sure Rich and band did do Nickels And Dimes on their third and final set.  By then, the Jams at Rumors and Cooters were winding down, Kick It subbing for Terry McDowell at Rumors and Julie Gordon and Lorie Parker in for Mike Williams at Cooters Acoustic Jam.  And I was out walking back to the car over the 16th Avenue Bridge where some bike riding woman not paying attention lost control of her bike as she fell over the sidewalk into the road. Thankfully she wasn't hurt.

Monday was Labor Day, so basically I picked up a couple things at Half Priced Books 20 percent off sale, passed on new drum gear at Guitar Center and was going to buy a few 45s at the opened Salvation Army store, only to find that both Convention 72 and Instant Replay 45s had a nasty crack in both so I passed on that.

In other words, life continues to go on.  I have a week off.  And the last thing I want to do is wonder about work.  I have things to do around the house, things to donate, things to throw away,  to try to clean house.  As you can tell, I'm still sitting in front of the computer, not getting anything done outside of writing up another blog of my adventures this weekend.

For now this will do.  Just another way to say I'm still around.  I'm always around.

PS:  Thanks to those who shared the Bruce Stanley Eulogy blog.  If there's any more pictures of Bruce playing guitar or drums for that matter, I try to post them and give credit for those who post them. To share and keep the memory of Bruce alive, is the intention.  Eventually we will all join Bruce in the great beyond in the near future. I'm honored to be a friend of his.

In the meantime Phyllis Schlafly, devout Conservative hag who mentioned that there'll be a woman president over my dead body might see that come true.  She passed away at age 92.  At the same time Anthony (Ann) Coulter bombed big time on the Roast Of Rob Lowe that she became target practice for the social media set this week.   And if you haven't turned  your TV on this week, you might want to wait till after November, the bullshit political ads are everywhere even in your mailbox as trees are being cut down for such propaganda nonsense from the hard working politicians putting up their signs all over this area, the only line of work that they have done all year.  Such backbreaking tasks of putting a sign in your yard, might have overworked them that they have to file workman's comp.  They are certainly not used to this kind of, or any other kind of work.  Just ask Chuck Grassley.

Cedar Rapids disposed of Wisconsin 3-1 to move on to the division finals against Clinton and will play them at home Saturday.  The Marion Indians have won more games this year than they have the previous two years, outlasting DeWitt Central in a 7-0 slugfest in the mud at Thomas Park Field, which has been inundated by rain the past couple days.  While it's too early to tell if Marion has changed their ways back to winning, they have looked fairly decent, even playing top notch defense, although DeWitt Central was pretty much bogged down in the mud all game.  Marion moves on to Dubuque to play Walert next Friday.

Record Reviews:

Chet Baker/Paul Desmond: Together-The Complete Studio Recordings (Epic 1992)

They really didn't record much together. in fact the three February 1977 songs would be the last before lung cancer claimed Desmond a few days later, but even in the end Desmond still could come up with a beautiful solo or two.  Strangely, those three tracks would wind up on A&M Horizon and not Epic, and history has shown but both Baker and Desmond recorded for Creed Taylor's CTI Records in the early 1970s.  It's nice to hear the interplay of both Baker and Desmond in a light jazz setting.  Two more tracks, You'd Be So Nice To Come Home Too and the 19 minute Concierto De Aranjuez come from guitarist Jim Hall's Concierto album of 1974.  Mostly, these tracks are more favorable to both Hall and Chet Baker, who throws in a cool version of How High Is The Moon.  I don't think this got issued in the US, lack of interest perhaps or licensing issues.  But for a jazz curio pairing of two of the more eccentrics of jazz  it's not bad gentle jazz.
Grade B+

The Wild Flowers-Tales Like These (Slash 1990)

I don't think the world was ready for a British version of Midnight Oil but this record was an improvement over Sometime Soon, although the alternative producer Matt Wallace didn't do them much favors either.  The call and response of Shakedown and the Cultish Hopes Crash Down are the two best, but ballads are not their specialty either.  Even with Wallace's polished recording, it still remains angry Brit rock, which isn't bad if you're not into happy love songs.  Some days I'm not into happy love songs either.
Grade B+

Singles Going Steady Medley: BDW Scrapings

Teen Age Goodnight-The Chordettes (Cadence 1299)  #45  1956
Lay Down Your Arms #16 1956

Back in the days of the 1950s radio stations tend to play the flip side from time to time.  The Chordettes famed for Mr. Sandman hitting number 1 in 1954 and Lollipop #2 1958, had the most chart placing 45s in 1956, mostly on the strength of the B side Lay Down Your Arms, a big band pop type of a song that was famous better in WW2.   I'll go with the echoey charm of Teen Age Goodnight which probably did close a few high school dances back in 1956.

There's A Grand Ole Opry Show Playing Somewhere-Red Johnson (Capitol 5318)  1964

Written after the tragic plane crash that took the life of Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins this did managed to pop up on the country charts, but in reality there's not much use for this song anymore, unless you like those songs of country stars who left us before their time.  You can update it by adding the likes of Merle, Johnny and Keith Whitley.   Originally HEP 2933, Capitol picked up this single.  Red's only Capitol single, although he would return back to Hep for a few more singles before another one off for Dial Records.   Fun Fact: Johnson co wrote Taxi Driver for Dave Dudley.  B side Railroaded, is a bit more brighter than Grand Ole Opry and a bit more fun too.

He'll Have To Go-Jim Reeves (RCA Gold Standard 447-0574)  #2 1960
Am I Losing You #31  1960

Reeves recorded many many sides for RCA, even after his passing, they continue to issued the beyond the grave songs that still charted up till 1979 but He'll Have To Go will be his signature tune regardless.  The number 2 chart was for the pop, we all know it topped the country charts in 1960.  Perhaps the best representative single of the polished Nashville sound that Chet Atkins perfected in the early 60s for RCA.  With the Anita Kerr Singers adding those lush vocals.  Am I Losing You was another top ten country hit although it didn't chart as high as He'll Have To Go.

Come Softly To Me-The Fleetwoods (Liberty F55188)  #1  1959
Graduation's Here-The Fleetwoods (Dolton No.3)  #39

One of the best loved vocal groups of the early days of rock and roll, Come Softly To Me is vocal perfection, two girls harmonies over the guy's lead vocal.  Originally on Dolton Record No 1, Liberty decided to add it to their collection when it hit number 1.  The followup single Graduation's Here didn't fare as well, squeezing in at number 39, but next single Mr. Blue would return The Fleetwoods back to the top spot for the last time.  The songs were arranged by Bonnie Guitar who would go on to a decent country music career.

Corina Corina-Ray Peterson (Dunes 45-2002)  #9  1960

Had a number 7 hit with the tragic song Tell Laura I Love Her for RCA before moving over to Dunes for a three year fling and this Phil Spector arranged song did hit number 9.  I guess Ray was a teen idol of sorts, after Corina, Peterson  would have one more top 30 hit with Missing You and a top 70 single with The Wonder Of You, a one off for RCA.  Later made stops at MGM, Reprise and UNI with uncharted singles. B side Be My Girl is a 2 minute yawner.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bruce Stanley

One of my best friends passed away Thursday.  This is not the way to start my vacation.

With each passing of a friend or family or musician, it is a reminder that nobody here gets out alive.  The only two things that are certain are birth and death, whatever comes between that you make your own way.

I've known Bruce Stanley for at least 25 years.  We shared time together chatting about music at various stores, either Omni and Relics Records, then over at 16th Avenue Music.  We even helped Chris Proctor pack his gear one night.  Legend is that Bruce was a damn good drummer for Redwing (later Sargent Rock, with troubled guitarist Barry Binger) but I always known him to be one of the best guitar players in town.  He played a lot in the 1990s with The Merles, the band he was in with Jerry Scott, who owned Relics from 1990 to 1996.  I spent many a time in both Relics, on the edge of town (now the Best Buy parking lot) and the downtown Hood.

(photo: Matt  Brooks)

Everybody loved Bruce, and if Bruce considered you a friend, he'd go out of his way to say hi to you and bullshit awhile.  He did that even while busy at the pawnshop, that he'd find time to chat.  There isn't many people I let in my life to tell my troubles to,  Bruce is that rare person.

We share one common trait, we loved music to the point that both of us never had a bonding relationship with women.  I think I've seen him with somebody one time in the late 1990s and that lasted about almost a year.  Bruce and I did managed to go see a few shows in 1997-1998.  One was The Honeydogs and Blue Mountain, the other Big Back Forty opened for The Honeydogs to which that billboard still hangs over my closet.  We also seen Gary Louris and Mark Olsen down at CSPS around 2009 or 2010.

Once 16th Avenue Music closed their doors, Bruce moved to Siegel's Jewelry and Pawnshop, to which he had to deal with some of the lowlifes of this town.  And I continue to bother him up there, but I did buy two guitars from him, in 2003, I got a Gibson Les Paul (ole Blackie) and two years later sold me my favorite acoustic guitar, a Guild.  Bruce also was instrumental in selling me a four track hard drive (which died in 2015) and a Line 6 Amp (on life support).  He knew music gear and I'm sure he still had his guitars at his place of residence.   I never been there to his new house, which he bought not even a year ago.

I think he gave it his all, helping fellow musicians and friends along the way, but I think he had been in declining health the past few years.  He smoked too much and and probably didn't exercise enough and the usual factors of life came into play (stress and dealing with people pawning their stuff off).  The last time I chatted with him, we talked about the new Jayhawks album Paging Mr Proust being a disappointment and the new Foghat album.  He got busy and I decided to leave him be for the next time.  The last time I seen him was during the Rumors Metal Jam but didn't get around talking to him.  This week, I wanted to tell him that I finally got to jam with Rick Clay on Dreams and how fun it was but had errands to do and would have to catch him next week.  To which, like Dennis Pusateri, the next time is to pay final respects with him.

Life is tough, it's hard and then you die.  For the past year, I have to deal with job layoffs, pushing my vacation back to get things down at my place of employment and hopefully there would be hope that we can get more contracts to keep going, but at this stage in life, I'm tired of it all.  It hasn't been a good month, my good friend Jeff Kewley's dad passed away at age 94, but he lived a long and fruitful life.   Thursday on his day off, Bruce went home, watched a bit of TV and then took a endless nap.  The guess is that he may have suffered a heart attack.  But perhaps he was just worn out from life and gave it all.

I didn't get the message till 2 AM after hanging with 50 Shades Of Rock at the J and A Tap all night.  It was a fun night till I got the sad message that Bruce departed from this world.  I went to bed weeping. I lost the best friend to talk music to and to tell bad jokes with since Dennis Pusateri.  And it's not going to be the same again.  The friends I still have around are fun to be with and there'll be more fun and laughs with them but only Bruce had the knowledge of knowing who Blue Mountain is, or The Sand Rubies or The Jayhawks.   Let's face it, the era of life as I know it is coming to an end.  The closing of Hastings, and the days of Relics are history.  Can I ever be a fixture at a record store and chat into closing about music with anybody else like Bruce?  I doubt it.

I thought about saying the hell with it and close up shop for a while but that would defeat the sense of purpose.  I'm sure Bruce would come into my dreams telling me to keep looking for new music, keep playing music, keep going as if nothing changed.   So for the most part, I cried a bit more and then went up to Waterloo for another bargain hunt.  I'm sure we'll cry some more when we say one final goodbye to Bruce sometime next week at his visitation.  And life will go on, till the next person that I know passes on.  We're not getting out alive in this life, and I rather not live forever.  Lemmy is gone, Dennis Pusateri is gone, Merle Haggard is gone, and so are 40,000 other people in this world.

But I want to remember Bruce as one of the best friends I ever had and this life and for the past 25 years a highlight to chat with him.  But I wanted to remember him most as the guy behind the counter at Relics, saying in his own way.  Hey Rod, I got a Japanese import of an Matthew Sweet album.  One for me and one for you.

I'll have to find that cd around my archives  to take a listen to it.

BTW, the Brat says she'll miss seeing you too. 

RIP Bruce.

Special Thanks to Carol Becker for the use of  her photos of Bruce during the Relics years. The Top Picture, The Merles picture and the Relics with Jerry Scott above.

Jeff Lawrence shares this 1994 performance photo at Big Dogs.  The band was called The Merles, which he played alongside Jerry Scott.

Lyndal Anthony took a couple of interesting photos of Bruce during the 1980s.  Here's a rare pic of Bruce jamming on a Bo Diddley Type guitar.

Another late 80s photo.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Week In Review: Gene Wilder, Detective, End Of Month Thoughts

It's the end of August of already?  This month has been going by quite fast.  The projected ratings for this month was going to be 3500 but a bit of inflated viewers will make it just shy of 4,000.  To the readers that actually read anything.  I thank you.

A moment of silence for the passing of Gene Wilder, famed actor of the better version of Willie Wonka as well as Young Frankenstein,  He now reunites with Gilda Radner and Richard Pryor in the great beyond.  Alzheimer's claimed him.  He was 83.  (for the most part Gene was married to Karen Boyer for the past 25 years and was with him on the day of his passing).

Darrell Ward, Ice Road Trucker for the past few season died in a plane crash in Montana. He was 52 years old.

Monty Lee Wilkes, soundman for the likes of Nirvana and The Replacements died from cancer.  He was 54.

With Labor Day weekend coming up, this will be the big weekend of big outdoor music happenings, Wolfcreek or Blitzcreek will be taking place up in Center Point and most hard rocking bands will be playing Saturday and Sunday.  F B and Company has their own blues jam on Sunday and Terry McDowell will be playing in Flex, so the guys from KICK IT will be hosting the popcorn jam.  I'll be sitting this one out.  However last Sunday's jam brought out some of the best jammers, you can take a read of the happenings via this site.

MTV hosted their yearly Video Music Awards or in this case bad autotuned chipmunks with dancers doing stripper moves on stage.  Didn't know any of the artists or winners and basically the MTV hosts and women were as phony baloney as Spam.  I did catch Britney Spears toward the end.  She has a new album out and reviews are good.  But don't take my word, her new album is not on my list of things to review.   The photo comes courtesy of Madison Square Garden.

I was talking with Carol, who used to work at Relics in Cedar Rapids up till their demise in 1996 and she had a newspaper photo of the building being torn down in favor of the parking lot for Best Buy, which is also not doing very well of late.  Best Buy is not liked from Carol, in fact she refuses to even set foot in any Best Buy store.  I really have bittersweet memories of the last days of Relics. I spent a lot of time hanging out there in the 1990s, but Jerry never did mention he was closing the store, and the week after buying Freedy Johnston's Never Home and a couple others, I came into an empty building where old posters laid on the floor.  That strip mall was home, even to the crappy food that was Zio Johnno's.  Relics would return with the help of Steve Bray and later Marcus Draves  but the store finally closed for good in 2003.    This photo is from Carol Becker's archives.

For the most part, we still have Half Priced Books in town, Siegel's Pawn but their CD selection is getting less and less.  And there's still Moondog Music and CD's 4 Change in Dubuque and Ragged Records and Co Op Records in the Quad Cities, and thrift stores to boot. I'm still amazed of what I can find for music, as long as I live, there's always be some sort of music out there for me to find and listen to. Been that way for 5 decades and why change now?  I'd be bullshitting if I said I was giving it all up.  But I still may do a garage sale to rid of so much music that I know I won't be listening to but a few times.  Question remains which ones do I get rid of? 

Labor Day week, I will finally take a couple weeks off from work and try to do a bit of housekeeping and getting rid of some unwanted things.  I plan to take it EZ and step away from the hectic life of blogging and try to learn to get some me time and be happy for a change.  The job situation and seeing a few more long time co workers get shown the door has weighed heavily on me but that seems to be the way of life any place you work, they downsize, the CEO votes himself a big raise and who's left have to to do the work of the coworkers now gone.  I'm sure another bargain hunt will be forthcoming, where I don't know at, but what I do know is that I'm burned out and just want to relax for a while.  Last time I was relaxed was coming from Arizona in 2013 for about 45 seconds and coming home and seeing another rainstorm that flooded the basement. I almost told my brother to take me back to the airport and get back on that plane to Mesa.

While KRNA continues to play the top 500 classic rock songs in a row, I have to say they are making some more adjustments to play the more obscure and they do check their website for comments from scrutinizing crabbs about their playlist, one in particular of the fourth Tesla album Psychotic Supper.  Told them they should play that album, they got back to say they're looking for it in their archives.  If not, I can always mail them a copy that I found for a dollar at a thrift store.  

On the baseball side of things, The Chicago wrapped up their best August season with a 21-6 mark, 38 games over .500 and streaking away from the St Louis Cardinals, 15 games behind with perhaps the only thing left for them is to battle Pittsburgh for the wild card.  It's the Cubs best record this late in the year since the 1945 season, their last World Series showing, the 15 game lead their last since 1907, the year that the Cubs won it all.  And they are 40 games over .500, never thought I would see that in my lifetime.  Sweeping Pittsburgh to complete the hotter than August competition, they won 6-5 despite a shaky bullpen, which might come into play.  For the overall homefield advantage, Washington is fighting them neck and neck, they too are hot as well.  But for the hitting of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant one can only wonder had Kyle Schwarber stayed healthy if the record would be much better.  The lineup has been coming through, Jason Hayward has been getting more hits of late and Kyle Hendricks has been the ace of the starter five.  However Joe Maddon has been using a lot of bullpen help, I'm guessing that at least 15 or 20 have been part of that.  On the minor league side of things, The Cedar Rapids will play on in September, they clinched a playoff spot sweeping both the hapless Quad Cities River Bandits, who will be sitting the playoffs out and division leader Clinton which already won the first half division and probably overall division for the season.  Which means we'll be seeing the Kernels play in mid September for five straight years.  And football season starts as well, Iowa plays Miami Ohio on good ole ESPNU, one of the channels we don't get on our crappy cable company and continues to provide less analog channels. Analog will be the thing of the past out here.  Which means I'll just use the TV for DVDs watching then.

To start my weekend off, I got to catch the last set from 50 Shades Of Rock and my favorite girl drummer Tiffany Z bringing the beats to this band.  As they say tip your local server, but mine was such a bitch, she would have gotten a kick to in the ass rather than a tip. If you're having a bad day, don't take it out on the old Crabb that just gotten done with working at the coal mines.  50 Shades Of Rock played the favorites, with a left turn with Dead Or Alive You Spin Me Round (Stop it) and Friends In Low Places but they do bring new meaning to Smoke On The Water, or Free Bird.  A rocking drummer will always help a band go further.   I love Tiffany for the fact that she's always interested in the next project I'm taking on.  Remind me to deliver the latest Townedgers CD in her hands next time I see her.

This just in, on Friday (9-2-16)  The Marion Indians ended their two year losing streak by blowing out Benton Community 45-22.  About time guys. 

Forgotten Bands Of The 70s-Detective

Out of all the bands that recorded for Swan Song, Led Zeppelin's label, Detective  was the lesser known of all bands on that label, behind the likes of  Zep, Bad Company, Dave Edmunds, Pretty Things, Sad Cafe and Maggie Bell/Midnight Flyer.  Kinda of a minor league mini supergroup, the best known guy was Mike Des Barres, who's wife Pamela, the best known groupie to the stars.  Mike Monarch was part of Steppenwolf during the At Your Birthday Party era, Bobby Pickett a decent funky bass player, Tony Kaye was part of Yes and then Badger before signing up for this band and Mike Hyde a drummer that played a John Bonham power beat.  The problem was that Detective couldn't write that major song to drive Hyde's drumming.

They made two albums, the first is the better of the two but it shows too much reliance on Led Zeppelin and even getting Andy Johns to produce the majority of the songs.  The album also threw in a few numbers from a ill fated recording session with one Jimmy Robinson, no relation to Jimmy Page and you have to find the Rock Candy reissue of their first album for a better explanation, in the case a out of whack producer trying to change the band's sound but the guys were buying it. If nothing else, Robinson did manage to get a bigger drum sound on songs like Grim Reaper or Got Enough Love.  The Johns produced sides of Recognition and Detective Man reveals that this band sounded more like a boogie band (Humble Pie, since Des Barres did a better Steve Marriott than Robert Plant or Paul Rodgers).  But the clash of music styles, including a funkified  Wild Hot Summer Nights is more disco Rolling Stones, which meant somebody must have been listening to Black And Blue (I would have said Miss You but that wasn't out there yet, perhaps Mick Jagger was listening to this album and got the inspiration?).  It's a mess of a debut, somewhat like Savage Eye from Pretty Things but that band had much better songs.

When It Takes One To Know One came out, Detective decided to move in a more Rolling Stones sound and a more boogie sound like Help Me Up and the Can't you hear me knocking knock off Competition. Even the Faces's sound come into play (Dynamite, Warm Love) and of course Humble Pie via Led Zep (Tear Jearker).  With Swan Song not paying much attention to this band, and Atlantic even less, the band broke up.  Tony Kaye would bounce around to the next band Badfinger before rejoining Yes in their comeback 90125 album.  Des Barres joined with Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Clem Burke (Blondie) for the ill fated Chequered Past, that made one forgettable hair metal album for EMI. Des Barres can be heard on Little Steven's Underground Garage nowadays and still records as a solo artist from time to time.

Wounded Bird did issue both albums for a while and Derick Oliver's Rock Candy reissued the S/T  album in 2010 and it still remains in print.  Given the two, The S/T album wins out over the more uneven Takes One To Know One.  I wouldn't consider either one classic essential rock and roll but given on its own terms, the boogie rock and roll didn't sound out of the place with the other boogie bands out there and at that time Humble Pie closed up shop for a while.  In the end, Detective may not been the new Led Zeppelin or even Humble Pie but as workmanlike bar band rock, they did okay.

Detective (Swan Song 1977 Rock Candy Reissue 2010) B
It Takes One To Know One (Swan Song 1978) B-
Live From The Atlantic Studio (Gonzo Import 2013) C

Album from my youth: Lynyrd Skynyrd-Street Survivors (MCA 1977)

For their last album, they went out in style with the hit single What's Your Name and bar bands favorite songs That Smell, I Know A Little and You Got That Right, and even the filler tracks of Honky Tonk Night Time Man and I Never Dreamed really do sound pretty good in this context.  But when I hear the expanded edition I can see why they managed to dust off an oldie from the past One More Time to replace Sweet Little Missy, which would have dragged the record down.  In fact, the original eight songs leading to Steve Gaines' singing on Ain't No Good Life still remains perhaps Skynyrd's best overall although Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama purists would disagree.  Still Steve Gaines did provide a much needed kick in the ass for good ole southern rock and roll, not that Nuthin Fancy or Gimme Back My Bullets were duds, I tend to like those better than the two previous ones since classic rock radio hardly plays them outside of Saturday Night Special. But I Know A Little and You Got That Right has some nice guitar interplay between Gaines, Allen Collins and Gary Rossington.

For the bonus tracks, there's a reason why they were left off,  the songs are not very good, as if Ronnie Van Zant is trying to find some lyrical inspiration on Georgia Peaches, and Sweet Little Missy just doesn't work.   There are two different versions of You Got That Right and I Never Dreamed which isn't bad, but something you can live without.  I guess the key track Jacksonville Kid, while so so, it's for the better that Van Zant decided to chuck the original lyrics of Kid in favor of Honky Tonk Night Time Man, written by Merle Haggard.  The bonus tracks simply are not needed, but it's not for me to downgrade the album.  It's still remains a solid A album up to Ain't No Good Life.  You're basically free to listen to something else.  But one can only wonder what would have happened had Skynyrd not gotten on a junky airplane in a ill fated 1977 flight, just like what would have happened had Stevie Ray Vaughan decided not to board an helicopter in 1990.  The observation would have been more decent Southern Rock, with Ronnie's dry sense of humor and Southern Hospitality. But Skynyrd would return 10 years later with Johnnie Van Zant taking over and the results not as rewarding, unless you want to hear Johnnie's take on Free Bird and the first two albums.  You won't find me in a old folks home, declared Ronnie on You Got That Right and that would come true, but what he and Steve Gaines left behind was a damn near perfect Southern Rock album that nobody would ever come close to duplicating, except maybe Molly Hatchet's first album, or even Blackfoot's Strikes which was in the neighborhood.  But alas, once Ronnie and Steve and Cassie Gaines left this world, southern rock was never quite the same.   Street Survivors would be the end of an era to classic southern rock.
Grade A

Record Reviews:

Leapy Lee-Little Arrows  (Decca 1969)

An album that you see regularly in the dollar bins.  Fun fact: Gordon Mills who managed Tom Jones Engelbert Humperdink also managed this obscure British star who had a top ten hit with Little Arrows and then disappeared from it all.  Another fun fact: Little Arrows was written by the duo of Mike Hazelwood and Albert Hammond.  While Lee did things in a pop vein he had better success as a country singer, can't figure that one out.    All music guide mentioned had Decca decided to go with If I Get To Saginaw Again, that might have gotten some success or the other Hammond/Hazelwood comp Theresa although Mike Vickers (formerly of Manfred Mann) puts a very dated 60s arrangement to that song.  The reason why the record has a country and western leaning is the poplar songs of that on this album (Little Green Apples, a straight run through of Harper Valley PTA in the way that Tom T Hall wrote it and I'll Be Your Baby Tonight) and they're passable but harmless.  I tend to think AMG overrated it.  It's not a four and half star album but rather a three star effort.  And it's a shame that Decca got bored with Leapy Lee after Little Arrows (the single) ran its course.   The followup Here Comes The Rain got ignored.  A interesting artifact that is worth 25 cents to rediscover  and donate later.
Grade B

Dave Dudley-Sings  (Golden Ring 1962)

I think the Record World site has reviewed twice more Dave Dudley albums than any other site.  This is his first album and breakthrough song with Six Days On The Road, including that chunky plunking guitar and perhaps the strangest backing vocal group, a strange cavernous sort of echo. I always thought they were saying Hooray after Dudley finishes up a line in his verses.  And I always got a kick out of that line I'm taking little white pills and my eyes are open wide, as if he's doing a wink and  an grin.  Six Days On The Road remains one of the greatest truck driving honky tonk songs in country history.  And even with this vintage recording, it still sounds good coming from vinyl, in fact even though I bought this at St Vincent De Paul in a dusty ole record bin, the record is in great shape after 50 years it plays great.  The other song of note is Last Days In The Mines, which is perhaps one of the best tragic stories that was written by Jimmy Key, to which Dudley would record for a bigger hit for Mercury a couple years later.  Dudley could write songs himself, he writes five including Six Days soundalike Taxi Cab Driver, complete with that trademark chucky plunking guitar and those Hooray background vocalists.  And famed concert country promoter Smokey Smith writes up one on side two called  Yesterday's Lover.  A good debut despite the big misstep song at the end, the five minute Barbara Allen which drags.  Nevertheless, Dave Dudley Sings would be the start of a nice long country career.
Grade B+

And now a trilogy of albums from Pravda in tribute to K Tel Records..For better or worse.

Various Artists: 20 Explosive Dynamic Super Smash Hit Explosions (Pravda  1991)

The alternative rock tribute to K Tel and those cheesy 70s AM classics that still get played.  The key track is here the Smashing Pumpkins destroying Jackie Blue, which the Ozark Mountain Daredevils had a number 2 hit in 1975.  It might be noted that Billy Corgan and company would hit it big with Siamese Dream, but their attempt to try to ape the Nirvana sound annoys the hell out of me but it's not the worst track here.  That distinction goes to Cheer Accident and their clueless cover of Shaft, which is part industrial bad Ministry crap and I dare you to sit through the whole five and half minutes including the ending with what it seems like four hours, (end the fucking song already dumbasses!).  M.O.T.O and God's Acre also have the problem of overstaying their welcome, the latter, after a somewhat straight run through of King Harvest Dancing In The Moonlight, they have to come back with a punk rock ending and then come back for an third encore of feedback (Go away already).  Then God's Acre fucks up Mississippi Queen with a bunch of unintelligible metal guitar clusterfuckus and wear out their welcome on the final chorus (there's a reason why the song is 2 minutes 30 seconds, learn the GD song before you throw it under the bus).   13 Nightmares makes Everything I Own seem like nightmare number 4, and even in any version Convoy still sucks although The New Duncan Imperials at least give it a better effort than the Pumpkins, M.O.T.O and God's Acre did on their songs.  It's a shame that Pravda didn't get Gary Hoey's version of Hocus Pocus, and perhaps The Fresh Young Fellows may have played it too safe on Black Betty.  By far, the best songs come from the power poppers, The Sneeches with Shoes doing a friendly I Wanna Be With You, Material Issue tackles Little Willy and The Sinatras' cover of Shannon actually is better than Henry Gross' original.   Despite the efforts of The Slugs charga charga ooga ooga's on Hooked On A Feeling, The Reviers Brandy and so forth, Pravda's first attempt to salute K Tel falls on its ass.  Unless you absolutely want to hear the Smashing Pumpkins fuck up Jackie Blue without the humor to pull this off, you can live without it.
Grade C

Various Artists: 20 More Explosive Fantastic Rockin Mega Smash Hit Explosions (Pravda 1992)

A much better effort with a better selection of bands (Smithereens, Dash Rip Rock, King Missle, Fastbacks, Uncle Tupelo etc.) and this time out the crapfest is kept down (Dayglo Abortions' awful I Write The Songs) and the grunge stars elsewhere on their own power trips.  At least you know when the Smithereens do a cover like It Don't Come Easy, it's straight forward the way it supposed to be. Uncle Tupelo's cover of Merle Haggard's Movin On features Brian Henneman (later of The Bottle Rockets) taking the lead vocal and Iowa favorites Head Candy does a cool version of Maggie May. If you want corn, there's John Wesley Harding and Kelly Hogan, the 90s version of Donnie and Marie on A Little Bit Country (See Convoy for worthless songs from the 70s) and the hidden track of Brother Louie by unknowns known as Siegler.  Even Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves work, but I'm not so sure of Goober And The Peas' attempt at MacArthur Park.  But at least Billy Corgan didn't get his grungy little hands on it.
B plus

Various Artists-Star Power (Pravda 1995)

As far as I know this was the last of the albums that Pravda paid tribute to cheesy 70s AM classics and still nobody bothered to cover Mammy Blue or Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.  Only true dud would be Brown Betty's Don't Give Up On Us, which couldn't do David Soul any justice, no matter how many out of tune screaming guitars they could add on.  Or maybe Big Fish Ensemble doing I'm Am Woman but with a man singer instead.  The Dick Nixon's infamous One Tin Soldier is also here but since they were a novelty band in the first place at least they threw in some Richard Nixon themes to make me chuckle for a second or two.   Highlights include A-Bones turning Rock The Boat into a Bo Diddley love fest and The Silos take on Mama Told Me Not To come is more Randy Newman than 3 Dog Night.  And of course the late Vic Chestnutt turning The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia into a more dark sinister sound than Vicky Lawrence could ever do.   Local favorites Rex Daisy plays Welcome Back fairly straight and surprising Fig Dish Kung Fu Fighting works better than Love Battery's deconstruction of White Bird.  I think this record pales next to 20 More  Hits but still is a better listen than the original 20 Explosive Hits.  It's hard to tell if Pravda Records decided that seeing Rhino putting out the Have A Nice Day Series which has most if not all of the songs available by the original artists and decided to do either a tribute or parody of the AM classics gold was a worthwhile investment.  It may have gotten some airplay on the college radio station circuit of the 1990s before Corporations bought everything and radio became stale, but for the most part any remaining copies are probably in dollar bins in thrift stores or collecting dust in collections like mine and chances are I probably won't give them much airplay or love for that matter.  And in the end results, these CDs will probably join the K Tel albums at your local Goodwill or St. Vincent De Paul.  Unless I want to get rid of unwanted guests, then I just put on Jackie Blue by Smashing Pumpkins.  If anybody is still around, Cheer Accident's Shaft.
Grade B

Various Artists: Sounds Of The Seventies-Am Top Twenty (Star Vista/Time Life 1993)

Of course there's Have A Nice Day Volumes 1 through 25 but Time Life did compile some of the best/worst case of AM Radio.  To which Blue Swede's infamous Hooked On A Feeling starts the party going with Paper Chase, Mouth And McNeal, King Harvest, Terry Jacks, Coven and Henry Gross has their original versions of songs you compare notes with. Certainly the fast forward button will come in handy, especially on Run Joey Run and Afternoon Delight, two songs that nobody wanted to cover anyway.  The surprise song is not Jungle Fever by the Chakachas but rather I'm Doing Fine Now, the big one hit from New York City and one of the last great R and B hits of the 70s before disco arrived.  Or the breezy Hitchin A Ride from Vanity Fare, a guilty pleasure upon itself.  Or Beach Baby by First Class.  In other words, this 22 song sampler really shows the good and the bad of hooky pop rock music.  You might hate Chevy Van by Sammy Johns or Beautiful Sunday by Daniel Boone but you have to admit they're catchy enough to play on the local jukebox.  My Baby Loves Lovin, and Billy Don't Be A Hero, like Afternoon Delight and Run Joey Run you can live without (so keep that FF button handy).  But this a cheap and perfect album of AM radio in the mid 70s.  (for better or worse and for that matter a better tribute to what K Tel was doing at the time).
Grade B

And then...there's this.

George Hamilton-By George! (ABC Paramount 1965)

Sometimes there are albums that are so bad, that you have to hear them just once to hear how bad they sound.   Of course, no relation to George Hamilton IV who did record for ABC Paramount during his teen idol years, this George Hamilton is the famed actor, who did the voice of Hank Williams during the 1963 Your Cheatin Heart movie.  I'm not sure if he was really in demand after his Hullabaloo show stopping performance and ABC Paramount even with Ray Charles on roster couldn't break anybody else outside of The Impressions and Frank Fontaine (whoever he was) decided to cast their lot with George and hooked him up with Peter Angelus (of Frankie Avalon, Fabian fame) and managed to corner some of The Wrecking Crew to play on this album.  At best, George is in the Bobby Rydell and Pat Boone side of teen idols, good intentions but hardly worth hearing.  At best, Hamilton does pull off She Wasn't Like That (When She Used To Be Mine) in the style of Del Shannon and Loneliness, the failed hit single would give ole Pat Boone a run for the money.  But George is no match for You Lost That Lovin Feeling, which he really goes over the top and falls flat on his face and even worse And I Love Her, a Beatles song that should have been off limits from the get go. No matter how many times Angelus tries to overdub Hamilton's limited vocals, they never improve.  But if ever you should come across this artifact, find the inner sleeve of the ABC Paramount artists that did record and except for the roster on Impulse label, outside of Brother Ray and The Impressions, George was competing with the likes of Frank Fontaine, the haunting guitar of Roy Smeck and the French rock and rollers Les Djinns Singers.  And finding he was better off staying with his day job as actor extraordinaire.
Grade C-