Friday, December 29, 2006

History Of The Music World 2006

Goodness, after a subpar couple years 2006 brings us the most albums reviewed in this decade. Take a look.

1.   The Coral-The Invisible Invasion (Deltasonic 39:52)  B+
2.   Best Of The Mississippi Sheiks (Legacy 63:53) B+
3.   The Strokes-First Impressions Of Earth (RCA 52:17) C
4.   Neil Morse ? (Metal Blade 56:28) B
5.   Blue Rodeo-Are You Ready (Rounder 51:06) B+
6.   A Cellerful Of Motown 2 (Universal) A-
7.   Blind Boys Of Alabama-Atombomb (Realworld 35:24) B+
8.   Train-For Me It's You (Columbia 48:11) B+
9.   Ray Scott-My Kind Of Country (Warner Brothers 46:15) A-
10. Foghat-Covered By Foghat (Sterling/Rhino 44:32) A-

11. Cat Power-The Greatest (Matador 44:17) A-
12. Jamie Oldaker-Mad Dogs And Oakies (Concord 63:03) B+
13. Ray Davies-Other People's Lives (V2 61:03) B+
14. Rhett Miller-The Believer (Verve Forecast 43:28) A-
15. Nine Black Alps-Everything Is (Interscope 35:28) A-
16. Teddy Thompson-Seperate Ways (Verve Forecast 48:01) B+
17. David Gilmour-On A Island (Columbia 51:33) B+
18. The Little Willies (EMI 43:31) B+
19. Neko Case-Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (Anti 35:49) B
20. Donald Fagen-Morph The Cat (Reprise 52:33) B

21. Willie Nelson-You Don't Know Me (Lost Highway 39:35) B+
22. The Go! Team-Thunder Lightning Strike (Columbia 40:54) B-
23. Queensryche-Operation Mindcrime Two (Rhino 57:08) B-
24. Yayhoos-Put The Hammer Down (Indpendent 48:56) A-
25. My Morning Jacket-Z (ATO 47:03) B+
26. Tommy Kenne-Crashing To The Either (Eleven Thirty 44:25) C+
27. Northy/Valenzuala (The Cab 45:25) B+
28. Built To Spill-You In Reverse (WB 54:23) B+
29. Drive By Truckers-A Blessing And A Curse (New West 48:00) B+
30. Belle & Sebastian-The Life Pursuit (Matador 49:20) A-

31. Evans Blue-Melody And Enerjetic Nature Of Volume (Hollywood 45:09)D+
32. Arctic Monkeys-People Say I Am That's Not What I'm Not (Domino 41:02)A-
33. Howard Tate-Live (Shout Factory 55:00) B
34. Secret Machines-Ten Silver Drops (Reprise 45:43) B+
35. Killing Joke-Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell (Cooking Vinyl 62:04)A-
36. Les Paul & Friends American Made World Played (Capitol 65:16) B-
37. Goo Goo Dolls-Let Love In (WB 42:06) C
38. Ministry-Rio Grande Blood (13th Planet 51:25) B+
39. Charlantans UK-Simpatico (Cerole/Sanctuary 44:24) B+
40. Rebel Meets Rebel (Big Vin 40:25) B-

41. Pearl Jam (J 49:39) B
42. Neil Young-Living With War (Reprise 41:35) B+
43. Paul Simon-Surpise (WB 45:10) A
44. Snow Patrol-Eyes Open (Fiction 45:08) C+
45. Ranconteurs-Broken Toy Soldiers (Third Man 35:43) B+
46. McFly-Just My Luck (Universal 42:50) B+
47. Bullets & Octane-In the Mouths Of Young (RCA 40:16) B
48. Less Than Jake-In With The Out Crowd (Sire 40:53) B-
49. Gomez-How We Operate (ATO 51:44) B
50. Mission To Burma-The Obliterati (Matador 51:47) B

51. Al Anderson-After Hours (Legacy 45:44) B-
52. Bottle Rockets-Zoysia (Bloodshot 52:45) B+
53. George Thorogood-The Hard Stuff (Eagle 56:40)B-
54. Wolfmother (Interscope 54:21) B+
55. Guster-Ganging Up On The Sun (Reprise 48:52) B-
56. Johnny Cash-American V A Hundered Highways (American 42:46)B+
57. Cracker-Greenland (Cooking Vinyl 63:09) B+
58. Roger Clyne-Live At Billy Bob's (Smith Music 72:23) B+
59. Derailers-Soldiers Of Love (43:34) B+
60. Bo Ramsey-Stranger's Blues (Bo Ramsey Music 47:25) B

61. Pure Prairie League-All In Good Time (45:13) B+
62. The Living End-State Of Emergency (Adeline 52:25) B
63. Chris Knight-Enough Rope (Drifter's Church 51:00) B+
64. Outfield-Any Time Now (Sidewinder 51:29) B+
65. Black Stone Cherry (Roadrunner 46:35) B+
66. Helmet-Monocrome (Fontana 42:05) C
67. Golden Smog-Another Fine Day (Lost Highway 64:16) B+
68. The Format-Dog Problems (Nettwerk 47:10)B+
69. Jessi Colter-Out Of The Ashes (Shout Factory) A-
70. Foreinger-Extended Versions (CMG 66:35) B

71. Crucial Reagge-Summer Jam (Trojan 35:32)B+
72. Crucial Reagge-Funk Party (Trojan 44:40) B
73. Tom Petty-Highway Companion (American 43:56) B+
74. Pink Spiders-Teenage Graffiti (Geffen 40:08) C+
75. Tapes And Tapes-The Loon (XL 41:25) B-
76. Widespread Panic-Earth To America (Sanctuary 62:02) B
77. Todd Snider-The Devil You Know (New Door 39:38) A-
78. The Elms-The Chess Room (Universal South 38:39) B+
79. Gin Blossoms-Major Lodge Victory (Hybrid 49:06)B-
80. Primal Scream-Riot City Blues (Columbia 52:09) A-

81. Wisbone Ash-Clan Destiny (Eagle Rock 48:07) B+
82. The Lost Trailers (BNA 40:26) C+
83. Bob Dylan-Modern Times (Columbia 62:46) A-
84. The Roots-Game Theory (Def Jam 47:16) B+
85. Motorhead-Kiss Of Death (Sanctuary 46:16) B+
86. Carbon Leaf-Love Loss Hope Repeat (Vanguard 47:47) C+
87. Elton John-The Captain And The Kid (Interscope 46:05) B+
88. Gov Mule-High And Mighty (ATO 72:03) B+
89. The Killers-Sam's Town (Island 44:08) C+
90. Jet-Shine On (Atlantic 55:10) C+

91. Damwells-Air Stereo (Zoe 62:40) C
92. Peter Gammons-Never Slow Down Never Give Up (Rounder 42:15) B+
93. Bob Seger-Face The Promise (Capitol 43:13) B+
94. Alejardro Escovedo-Boxing Mirror (EMI 48:10) B
95. The Drams-Jubilee (New West 67:39) A-
96. Randall Bramlett-Rich Someday (New West 57:14) B
97. UFO-Monkey Puzzle (SPV 46:14) C
98. Sister Hazel-Absoluetly (Rock Ridge 55:45) B-
99. The Essensial Jimmy Thackery (Blind Pig 61:17) B+
100. Primus-They Can't Be All Zingers (Interscope 76:13) A-

101.  Jerry Lee Lewis-Last Man Standing (Artists First 66:26) C+
102.  Robyn Hitchcock-Ole Trantula (Yep Roc 40:38) B+
103.  Marty Casey & Lovehammers (Epic 38:33) B
104.  Sting-Songs From The Labyrinth (Universal 48:56) B
105.  Montgomery Gentry-Some People Change (Columbia 53:04) B
106.  The Who-Endless Wire (Universal Republic 59:00) B
107.  The Staple Singers-Stax Profiles (Concord 55:25) A-
108.  JJ Cale/Eric Clapton-The Road To Escondido (Reprise 57:10)A-
109.  Peter Frampton-Fingerprints (A&M 55:42) B
110.  Alabama-Songs Of Inspiration (RCA 49:40) B-

111.  Keith Urban-Love Pain And The Whole Crazy Thing (Capitol 62:24)B+
112.  TV On The Radio-Return To Cookie Mountain (Interscope 65:58) B-
113.  The Beatles-Love (Apple 78:55) B
114.  Oasis-Stop The Clocks (Columbia) B+
115.  Ozark Mountain Daredevils-Rhythm And Joy (Varese Fontana 67:46)B-
116.  Incubus-Little Granades (Epic 47:44) B
117.  Electric Prunes-Just Good Old Rock And Roll (CCM 37:33) C-
118.  Darren Smith-Last Drive (Crafty 48:25) B
119.  Rembrants Greatest Hits (ATCO/Rhino 79:17) C+
120.  The Hold Steady-Boys And Girls In America (Vagrant 40:16) A-
121.  Depeche Mode-Best Of (Mute/Reprise 74:50) A-

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas 2006

I hate to say this but we are not going to have a white christmas this year. The winter storm that dumped two feet out in Denver stayed north and west of here. We did a good soaking and fog, but the kids will be disappointed that once again we're going to miss out.

Really doesn't break my heart. My opinion of snow changed after a blizzard to which i spent most of the night stuck outside of Solon for four hours. But I do feel sorry for the children that won't be able to slide down the hill outside of Crabb Manor here in Ioway.

This Christmas, I did managed to find a couple of CDs for the holidays that matter. First up was The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (Fuel 2000-2003) and it's a good listen. Ian Anderson has always seem to get a bad rap ever since the GRAMMYS gave Tull the best heavy metal album of the year with Crest Of A Knave. Best folk record I could see but even Ian didn't bother to pick up the award since he too thought it was a farce. I think he could have left Bouree off this album, but the interplay between him and Martin Barre is still breathtaking in it's own right.

Christmas Eve with Jackie Wilson (Brunswick 2000) shows Mr. Excitement in good vocal form but the arrangements have not held up over time. It still sounds like 1963 and even it's half hour form tends to drag. But I got it for a dollar so it was worth a play.

Christmas with Jimmy McGriff (Collectibles 1996) is JM's holiday offering when he was on Sue Records and Nina's Discount Oldies reissued it when they managed to licensed the Sue Recordings. Winter Wonderland is done in a over the top, pompous and belligerent and overstays it's 5 minite 54 seconds, and some of the songs do a bit too much grandstanding at the end and Hip Santa suffers from a very bad mono mix. Had he chosen to do a more jazzier funky sound like he did on Christmas With McGriff this album might be worth a listen next year. But then again I think Christmas With McGriff sounds like a rewrite of his Gospel Zone which does rock, but geezus fade it once and for all Jimmy.

There were new releases to speak of. Hall and Oates did made a christmas album for the FYE music chain, Billy Idol also did his very own christmas album and seeing Billy dressed up in a full shirt is shock waves on itself. But I settled upon local band The Townedgers and their Christmas With The Townedgers (Radio Maierburg 2006) to which they go acoustic and actually rock out with Drummer Boy and turn Santa Claus Is Coming Into Town into a brooding blues number. With throwaway numbers such as Christmas Time Next Year and One Of Everything You Got, they're not such throwaways but truthful observations about the trials and tribulations of last minite christmas shopping, but also the greatest gift of all; the gift of surviving another christmas just to live to see the next one. With 2 bonus cuts, the 14 songs barely crack the 30 minite mark, thus making this the shortest album of the TEs career. It's short and to the point and except for the downer Christmas Without You, a fun record to unwrap your gifts to.

Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rock n roll and The Brains

1980 at the late lamented Record Bar, searching through the cassettes.

In the attempt to try find something new I came across a interesting band. The Brains they were called and a couple things looked interesting. One it was produced by Steve Lillywhite to who helped shaped Eddie And The Hot Rod's 1978 Life On The Line CD. And second of all, one of the guys looked like the drummer from that band. Must have been British right?

WRONG. The Brains were actually from Georgia and second of all they played high intelligent new wave that rocked a bit harder than their New Wave brethren. And the guy I thought was the drummer was actually the bass player. The "brain" behind The Brains was a quirky looking keyboardist by the name of Tom Gray whose songs of desperation helped shaped songs such as See Me, their best known song Money Changes Everything and my opinion the best song off the album Girl In The Magazine, which sounds like the answer to Pictures Of Lily.

Although Lilywhite did produced the album the loud drums was actually recorded by Mark Richardson, one of the most prominent sound engineers at that time. For years in my own band while trying to learn Girl In The Magazine, we have tried and failed to get the loud drum sound. In my other top forty band, nobody cared to covered any of The Brains songs. Not worthy to get folks out on the dance floor they said. What did they know. Although KRNA never bothered to play anything off the album, KKRQ did play Money Changes Everything after midnite a couple times but the underground college stations KUNI and KRUI did pick tracks off the album, KUNI tracking In The Night and Magazine and KRUI playing Raeline.



Like the majority of bands that were on Mercury/Polydor, the lack of promotion didn't help The Brains, especially with the new Rush Permanent Waves coming out, although The Brains did move enough copies to warrant another effort Electronic Eden. A little more discontent sounding, perhaps dealing with the hassles of being on a major label, this album has the most dated of sound, although Lilywhite and Richardson were back on board. My faves remain Dreamworld and Asphalt Wonderland. Nevertheless, Manfred Mann's Earth Band did cover Heart In The Street for their Change album of 1981. But shortly after Mercury/Polygramm dropped the band and with a change of bass players (Keith Christopher comes on board), found themselves on Landslide in 1982 with the classic Dancing Under Streetlights EP of that year.

Listening to Streetlights, one wonders what would have happen had it become a full album. Rolling Stone gave it a four star rating and there could have been two bonified hits with the title track but the second song Tanya was the song for the ages. One of the more chilling account of (what I thought) was about a guy running into a ex girlfriend years later as she drove down the road in a station wagon full of kids. A song that reminded me so much of somebody that I dated, only to find her five years downtown with a husband with two daughters.

Sometimes a song can become a reality before you know it.

Tanya the song itself was way too smart and way too hooky for the classic rock stations out there. How the Hell did Tom Gray write that song the way it was written? Perhaps he might have lived that song. Like I did when I ran into someone that I used to go with.



And with the final chorus line Tanya will life be a song/Tanya why be a song? It is the thought that living in the fantasy and thinking of being together and actually being together are two different things. Certainly the intense guitar notes from Rick Price and Tom's keyboard at the end brings the song to a crashing finale as, like the band, echoes out into the distance. Never to be heard from again.

But that would be the end of The Brains as we would know them. Charles Woolf would leave being replaced by Mauro Magellan and the band disbanded soon after. Nevertheless, Christopher and Magellan would join forces with Rick Richards and Dan Baird to become something more different and something more southern boogie. You know them as the Georgia Satellites.



Cyndi Lauper did keep the memory of the band going for me by covering Money Changes Everything but in my opinion she murdered it on that MTV video that played in 1984. But till then and now Tom Gray disappeared from up here, untill in 2004, while using Google to do research, I come to find out that Gray had taken up the steel slide guitar and formed a band by the name of Delta Moon and completely redoing his sound from hard edged new wave rock to straight ahead Southern Delta blues based rock, making four albums in the process, all free from the major label hassles of years ago. In fact the first Delta Moon album, Charles did play some drums on some of the tracks.

But The Brains in the CD age? Non existent. Hell, I had to transfer my cassette copy to CD with Dancing Under Streetlights and Tanya with bonus tracks. The Brains 1980 album still holds up very well enough though it does show it's 80s sound. And there are fans still out there (a lot of them have cropped up on my space the past weekend, with the official Brains and Delta Moon My Space sites and even Charles Woolf has his own my space profile) so I imagine if each and every one makes requests to the special order record companies, (Collector's Choice or Nina's Discount Oldies/Collectibles label, perhaps even Hip O Select can issue it, even with 5000 copies it would sell out-look at Rank And File) and request The Brains output to be reissued I'm sure it can be done but major labels tend to do what they want and not exactly the fans.



But a Brains fan is forever, and if you have read this far, include yourself. Who knows, there might be a few surprises in store for us in preserving the history of one of rock's ahead before their time bands.

PS: Charles Woolf the drummer died from cancer in September of 2010.  He wasn't even mentioned in any of the music publications that I came across in that time.  Such a shame really; I always thought he was one of the best drummers that nobody ever heard of.  Tom Gray is looking more like an old hippie ( ;-) )but he continues to amaze the music world with his music.  Hellbound Train is a modern blues classic.  Check their site out.

http://www.deltamoon.com/Delta_Moon___Home.html

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Rock n roll and Buffets

Some new places have opened up on Cedar Rapids. Across the street from the Mall of Death aka Westdale, Poncheros moved their burrito grill down Edgewood Road. Two doors down is Cici's Pizza, a pizza buffet that is very cheap to eat there and reminds me of Eatsa Pizza in Arizona. For 6.80 you can eat up on pizza, pasta, salads and pop and I'm sure I probably regain the ten pounds lost from a week ago. Perfect for lunch when there's nothing at work to eat although the pizza sauce is a bit more spicy. Also Ruby Tuesday on Edgewood is now open.

Once upon a time we had albums of bloopers. Kermit Schaefer was the collector of on air mess ups and slip of the tongues and in the golden era of live radio, there was no ten second delay to stop the f bombs and oopsies. Back in the 70s MCA issued two record sets of Bloopers (six volumes of them) and most of them still have a laugh. The chance of hearing the late great Lowell Thomas laugh without control still remains the price of admission. When Schaefer passed around 1984 thereabouts, Dick Clark took over and made one album for Atlantic of bloopers but his constant butting in on the bloopers doesn't work on audio although on video it's preferable. The Atlantic album overdoes music interludes that repeat to the point of annoyance and there's a reason why there was never a volume two of Dick Clark's uncensored bloopers.

All Time Great Bloopers (MCA) Three Stars
Dick Clark Presents Radio Uncensored Bloopers (Atlantic) One Star

The Electric Prunes-Just Good Old Rock And Roll (Reprise-Collector's Choice Music)

The Prunes on the fifth and last album for Reprise isn't the same band that did I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night. This is by far a whole different band which had more of a dated rock sound that sounds like 1969. They started out psychedelic pop and then made two strange albums that bordered on Religion themes (Mass In F Minor and Release Of A Oath) and when the dust cleared, this last album returned to a more of a organ driven sound. And not for the better, think Steven Stills leading Bloodrock and you'll get a idea of how this sounds. In fact, the only person left from the original Prunes is Dave Hassinger, who was producer. And most of the songs are bland and boring even for 1969 standards and forgettable as well. The new Electric Prunes it is, improved, nope.
Grade C minus