Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1-27-10 Top Ten Of The Week-New Radio, Old Radio

Clear Channel has dropped Sports at KMJM/1360 (Cedar Rapids) and debuted a Classic Country format in its place. Clear Channel also owns "95-7 Kiss Country" (KKSY Anamosa-Cedar Rapids), which competes with Cumulus' KHAK/98.1 (Cedar Rapids). Ironically, 1360 was the original home of KHAK. It became KTOF in 1995 with a Christian format, and then switched to KMJM with a Nostalgia format in 2001

Ah good old Clear Channel. Don't you just love Clear Channel? I didn't pay much attention to this till Steve at work told me about this station that switched over to classic country. In a perfect world, the classic country would have been on the Anamosa station but since Dyersville is close by with their own version of classic country it wouldn't work out. But country seems to be the main choice among forty somethings. Can't stand most new country out there, sounds like a cross of bad Hallmark nostaglia and bad poetry phasing. But I do like a listen to the classic country although KMJM seems to have a jones for Kenny Rogers. Long time ago KHAK was on 1360 and I remember hearing a wide variety of songs. Ever hear much from Tommy Overstreet? KMJM will play Gwen (congratulations). Hell they even played Eddy Raven's Who Do You Know In California. Gotta like that, so I did program 1360 into my car radio and when I'm in touch, I'll take a listen to it, but the signal goes off after 10 PM, I'll return to 650 WSM or AM 740 Zoomer Radio out of Canada. Kinda sucks when you can pick up Toronto better than the hometown stations. Hell, even Nashville comes in better.

Anyway I'm a month into here from My Space and my GF has deleted her My Space account. I have yet to do that basically hoping that my followers will come over here but so far that has been minimal. I still think that if word gets out and if I can still promote the lesser known stuff that I'll get more followers but I don't toot my horn all that much, but will post a link to this when I'm in twitter, and hearing the left bitching about the Right Wing Nut Jobs in congress. I won't do politics here, trying to keep this a music and regular lifestyle site if at all possible. But I'm not too keen on new music, can't get into the new Beach House album. KUNI has been playing and promoting that album but like Animal Collective its music geared toward the younger generation. And I hadn't paid attention to the Pop And Jazz poll of last year. Two years ago Jim Musser got me to review Jon Langford's Gold Brick and I played it twice and donated it to the Salvation Army after I couldn't sell it on EBAY. Two months after donating, it is still there. Guess nobody cares about the new music or best of 2008 eh?

The Top Ten Of The Week:

1. All Night Long-Rainbow 1979 This flopped as a single but it began the pop era of Richie Blackmore and company and featured Graham Bonnett as lead singer but egos got in the way and Graham was gone after Down To Earth, replaced by Joe Lynn Turner. Had this on album one time and traded it in but found the cd at 60 percent off at the liquidation sale of FYE at Coral Ridge Mall, who has been hosting the Pawnshop Favorite Series on Crabb Radio (check local listings).

2. Indecision-Carbon Leaf 2009 Didn't like their last album and part of the problem lies with Peter Collins, who sold Rush out in the late 80s. This time John Morand returns to the production chair and the band sounds a bit more inspired. I've heard Echo Echo remains the best Carbon Leaf album out there and perhaps some day I'll listen to that. How does one describe their music? Kinda reminds me of Sister Hazel's latest album Release. They used to call this jam music but this doesn't sound like that to me.

3. Sitting On Top Of The World-Grateful Dead 1966 The original jam band and while critics rag about their first album, I do find some pop charm in the songs that they did. Who would have thought that this song would only last for 2 minites?

4. A New Rock And Roll-Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush 1978 I swear you young whippersnappers and your GD rap music and your IPODs don't realize how great you got it made although your choice of music sucks to high heaven. It wasn't the dark ages for us growing up, we had something called underground FM and Frank Marino was one of the underground guitar heroes. Made three albums for 20th Century Records before moving over to Columbia and making his best selling album there called Live. The guy can play guitar (still does) but Mahogany Rush in their glory even outrocked Ted Nugent at California Jam 2. When CBS promoted this they used the great headline that anybody can make a 2 record live album, Frank needed only one. Perhaps the reason why was that CBS wasn't about to sing extra $$ in such a cult guitar player. Sure everybody had Double Live Gonzo but the cooler people had Frank Marino Live.

5. Overture-The Smithereens 2009 Yes they are still around although in the last five years they have made two Beatle tribute albums, a Christmas album, a Live album and now their tribute to The Who's Tommy, a rock opera album that the concept still remains murky but The Who pulled it off simply of having a great rhythm section and a good vocalist to boot. The Smithereens sound like they are having lots of fun on this record and you gotta give props to their record label to sign off on this. Surely EMI would have nixed this idea. But I don't forsee people playing 20 bucks for a tribute album when you can get the real thing for 12 bucks (or 10 bucks) at selected Best Buy stores? I bought this since it was 50 percent off at FYE. Great effort although why they even try is basically for the fun of making music.

6. You Got To Me-Neil Diamond 1966 Why isn't Neil Diamond in the RnR HOF? The guy was a great songwriter and could write some of the best pop songs of the late 60s. Overlook his hokey Columbia period and you still can make a great argument for his enclosure. Produced by the husband wife team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (RIP) who also sang backup on this song.

7. Mannish Boy-Hindu Love Gods 1990 Warren Zevon and the guys from REM making a business man's holiday recording of chosen blues covers and other oddites. Another musician born on January 24th but also who has passed on to the other side of enternity. Yes, there's more to Warren Z than just Werewolves Of London.

8. Dry River-James McMurtry 2002 The decade's best artist, this comes from James' third and final album for Sugar Hill Records and after the first two produced by Lloyd Maines (Natalie's father, you know the chick from the Dixie Chicks), James self produced this one. Course it did help that David Grissom came back and played guitar on St Mary Of The Woods too. It also helped that John Mellencamp stayed home too.

9. Tubluar Bells-Mike Oldfield 1973 You either like or loathe this song which actually a bunch of songs in two parts on vinyl and was the best selling album for a while on Virgin Records, to which at that time was distributed by Atlantic Records. In some ways this reminds me of Tangerine Dream but TD had much more interesting albums and song cycles than this album. Is it new age? New Wave? Prog Rock? Noise? Sheesh, I don't know. Later Oldfield redid this and John Cleese replaced Viv Stanshall for the voice at the end of Part One. Why? Good Q.

10. To Understand The Sun-The Townedgers 2005 Yes, the lead singer was also born on the 24th of January as well but unlike the other 9 songs here, The Townedgers remain the best cult band that nobody hears much about. I doubt if their My Space site gets many hits but those who did listen to this band became fans. From the acoustic and moody Long Time Forgotten, it amazes me that it has been 5 years since this record came out. And where does the time go?


Monday, January 25, 2010

My Love Hate Affair With Taylor Swift

Radio is torture. Espeically country radio.

I still like Taylor Swift; she made Saturday Night Live worth watching when she host it back in October. The problem I have with her is the overplayed You Belong To Me, which has now moved over to lite rock. I started hating her when that song invaded my dreams one night and constantly played over and over for three long hours. And then going to both Stuff Etc stores in Iowa City and hearing that song in both stores.

That song was number on the charts here for six straight weeks and the video was your typical teen fluff, boy overlooks geeky girl next door for stuck up cheerleader and then they connect at the high school dance soon afterwards. Real life usually isn't that, real life, the geeky girl still gets passed over for the stuck up cheerleader that her love interests goes for. Half a year ago, I did consider it a good top forty song but after six months of hearing it everywhere i go and every radio station that has a country or top forty format played it, is sick of it to the point that I just gag when I hear it and then have to deal with it in my head for three hours afterward. Hell of a earworm song, 7,000 cds to choose from and my brain plays something I don't have nor want.

In Twitter I had a round two with a Carrie Underwood fan saying that Swift is pop while Carrie isn't. Bullshit, take away the fiddles and steel guitar and Carrie is just as pop as Taylor Swift is. At least Taylor Swift can control her voice unlike Carrie who has to cram all her voice in the final chorus of her songs. I can't say Carrie Underwood is manufactured but she's the most successful singer ever to come out of American Idol, one of the reasons why music went to the cesspool its in now. Taylor Swift did it with My Space and hard work and connecting with her fans whereas Underwood still remains aloof with her fans. And American Idol wouldn't have given Taylor Swift a second look.

Time for Taylor Swift to start coming up with a new song rather than You Belong To Me which has its place in Lite Rock and New Country Radio. It still gets played on a hourly basis on the infamous satellite radio station XM 25, for I have yet to go into Stuff Etc, and not hear it.

I certainly didn't request it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1-20-10 Chock Full Of Rock Goodness

Reading on the snafu that is OK GO against EMI for disallowing them to showcase their video, it all goes to show that once and for all signing to a major label isn't going get you anything more than heartaches and grief. Still can't get into their latest that but that song is pretty good and if there was a MTV showing videos that might get some airplay.

Here at R Smith Music Appeciation Consortium, I tend to support music in the best way possible. It's been a very fast moving month, with three times visiting the dying FYE and finding things that I overlook the first couple times. But I don't think I'll be back there in the final three days with 60 percent off everything. My car would rebel against me.

I think I'm getting very sick of hearing Taylor Swift's You Belong To Me, to which i heard at both Stuff Etc. in Iowa City/Coralville. Personal to XM 25, we have six decades to choose from, quit playing the same 20 songs over again.

I have bought some new music this month but since I have discontinued the Review Consortium of New Music, I am just not that interested of posting 70 CDs of varying degree. But thanks for asking.

The Top Ten Of The Week

1. Boogie Till You Puke-Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band 1978 Kudos to Bob Dorr for playing this classic chestnut on KUNI Saturday Night. Considered the be the signature song for the band, I remember KUNI playing lots of cuts off this album including In Jail In Jacksonville and Too Sick To Reagge. Wounded Bird reissued this album on CD for about two weeks.

2. I'm Breathing-Jet Black Stare 2008 Forgotten band who made one tax write off for Island Def Jam and it's actually not that bad of an album although everything recorded in this decade is overrecorded and TOO DAMN LOUD FOR ITS OWN GOOD. I suppose these guys had to get day jobs, or um went back to the tattoo store to get more tats.

3. I Hate Rock And Roll-Jesus And Mary Chain 1995 And rock and roll hates me they sang. Next.

4. Small Town Talk-Bobby Charles 1972 He's more famous for See You Later Alligator, but he made an album with members of The Band for Bearsville that Rhino issued a couple years ago. Thought for a moment I was listening to Richard Thompson. Taken from Castle UK's Bearsville Sampler to which I got for two dollars at HP Books. RIP Bobby Charles who passed last week.

5. Your Time My Time-Lovehammers 2009 Remember these guys? You don't, well let me clue you in then; in 2006 when INXS was looking for a lead singer, Marty Casey was runner up to JD Fortune but he was in a Chicago band named Lovehammers (no The in front of band's name). For his trouble, his band did get to make an album for Epic and had Doc McGhee be their manager for a month. The Epic album wasn't that bad, in fact it was better than the INXS that came out but it made a bee line to the budget bins, McGhee said adios and the band returned back to Chicago older and wiser. This band knows a few hooks and where to put them and the new album Heavy Crown is pretty good. But outside of me, nobody really cares.

6. Shoot Shoot-UFO 1975 Funny when a music store goes out of business everything goes on sale and you can find plenty of bargains at half off. So, I got the remastered Force It which includes the naughty picture that the US label brushed off, and it has better sound and bonus live tracks to boot. This was a minor hit and certain FM stations did play it. My 2nd album that I got from UFO, the first being the live classic Strangers In The Night. Required rock listening in my high school years (heck my GF wasn't even born yet, boy did she miss some great tunes then).

7. Eyes Wide Open-Goo Goo Dolls 1995 Funny when FYE closes their doors, they take their satellite station and the clerks play whatever they want. Thankfully no rap and not a Taylor Swift to annoy me but the girl up there played a Boy Named Goo to which said track comes from. I used to like the Goo Goo Dolls before they were cool and before they became a bad Journey wannabees. Yeah, I'm sure going to miss FYE, I did find some nice stuff there in the bargain bins......

8. One Way Ticket-The Darkness 2005 Weren't these guys supposed to be the next big rock thing? What the hell happened to them? First of all they were 20 years behind the times and second of all, MTV quit playing videos and third and last Justin Hawkins ended up living too much of a rock star and the band imploded soon after One Way Ticket To Hell And Back was released. I gave that album an A minus and then sold it but I always wanted to relisten to this and FYE came to rescue with 60 percent off this album. Which I got for a buck twenty. And I still think it's an A minus album.

9. Madrigal Meridian-Tangerine Dream 1978 From Cyclone, their first album featuring vocals from a chap named Steve Jolliffee and real drums from Klaus Kreiger who moved on to Iggy Pop's New Values but this side long track has no vocals and sounds like Tangerine Dream as you know and love them. I was never big on TD in my youth and somewhere in the early 2000's I decided to review their Virgin Records catalog and though nobody can deny their classic period was when Peter Baumann was in it (he left prior Cyclone) and it sounds like TD was going in a Pink Floyd mode on the vocal songs on side one. Jolliffe would move on after Cyclone but I consider this to be one of the darkhorses in their catalog. In the mid 1990s EMI remastered and reissued the TD albums but all now on import only. So it goes.

10. One World-Utopia 1982 Utopia with Todd Rundgren has made some classic stuff and they made some terrible stuff but I think their biggest strength was that they were a very excellent pop rock band. Don't think I ever heard Swing To The Right, their final Bearsville platter but I'll be sure to keep an eye out if I should find a copy of this on CD.

RIP Carl Smith.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coralville-FYE Finale

Bargain hunts are not going to be the same with the closing of the FYE store in Coral Ridge. Today, I made my forth and final trip to FYE, to within a week they will close their doors forever and we will lose another music store.

Funny how FYE was very expensive in their time around but when they have 50 to 60 percent off their stuff, you can stock up like I have. But the feeling inside FYE is like going to a funeral. It has that deathlike atmosphere and we're just paying our final respects to it. I'm still can't believe that FYE was doing that badly, I thought they were doing quite well till when me and my GF went there.

Used to be that they had three rows of new and used cds but now it's half empty and most of the stuff has been picked clean although I did find a import copy of UFO's Force It half priced. And other used stuff for 60 percent off.

In defense of FYE, I did find some used cds of note in the 12 years that I have gone there, stuff that I wouldn't find at Best Buy and also found the Slade In Flame DVD for five bucks a half year ago. But of course, nobody cares about paying 20 bucks for a cd you can get for 15 bucks or less at Best Buy. But Best Buy doesn't do trade unlike FYE. So I found about 12 cds to take home and review and as I left the doomed place, a heavy fog started to desend, making the trip home very foggy. Perhaps a fitting finale so to speak. Nevertheless, I'm sure there's more profitable FYEs still in business although perhaps a few more will be on borrowed time. So long FYE in Coral Ridge...It's been good to known you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Middle Age Crisis

As I sit here trying to think of something catchy to talk about, I'm resigned to the fact that as Recordphile that my time is at an end. With FYE closing their doors here it will mean one less music store to hang out, one less place to find the cheap bargains if looking hard enough for them. But it also has been known that I am losing interest in a hobby that has for 45 plus years have shown me every type of music known to man. Except rap although I have been known to play The Roots or Beastie Boys from time to time. Despite it all, I'm still listening to the new CDs from the likes of Ringo Starr and OK GO although the latter is once again recorded so fucking bad, that you wonder whoever recorded it was deaf. Distortion hell I call it.

As I try to plan the happenings of the new year and trying to incorporate my girlfriend into it all, it's becoming quite obvilous that this year will be final year for me to bargain hunt like I do, this was planned long before Nicole popped into this life, it started around the Tower Records closing and the domino effect of music stores closing their doors left and right to the point that Cedar Rapids don't even have a record store like we used to. Half Priced Books came to my rescue with used stuff mind you but they really not a real music store, just like Best Buy isn't a real music store. CDs are nothing more than after thoughts. No longer cutting edge. The Beatles remasters may have been the final straw. What's left to do now?

I been pondering this for the past year or so, even more now that Hastings in Ames is gone and the aforementioned FYE, a store that I hated at times but once the closing their doors sale, the halfwits who passed as clerks asking if I was all right have moved on down the mall and the remaining clerks leave me alone to see what's left to get at 50 percent off. And I get to morned them and shop in peace.

I haven't been a lotta fun of late, and perhaps it's a case of living too long. I have been especially annoyed as hell of our idiot neighbors across the street and their puppy dog running out in the road, and barking at the foot of our driveway. And constantly chasing the little fucker back over, cussing up a storm while The Stoopids let it run. Trying my best to keep my brother from getting the BB gun and popping Puppy in the butt with leadshot. Finally, today I had enough; I'd call the local sheriff to go tell the stupid bitch over there to keep an eye on this dog before it gets run over by a speeding pickup truck or shot by an irate person. It's was good to know when the Linn County Deputy went past there, he almost ran over the damn dog so hopefully he prove his point to the no brained bimbo over there to keep their dogs in their own yard. These folks should be barred from having animals, they didn't take care of their beagle who cries out in the makeshift kennel they made for it for the past three years, and they not going have this dog running around the neighborhood either. I try to be a good neighbor but sometimes you have those who simply don't want to be good neighbors, see how much they can get away with. Especially with their oldest speeding standing on his snowmobile and jumping into our ditch in the process. This neighborhood, we like to keep to ourselves and would like to keep it that way without some yappy assed mutt halfway into the driveway. What the fuck anyway?!?

I am thankful that I still got a job and thankful that I got good co workers but somedays I would rather not be bothered with such petty shit of not fully filling out part cards on jobs. GD Steve was on my buttons about that today, finally I filled them out fully, snapped "happy now? now leave me the fuck alone" and went back to reading Twitter and getting depressed on the latest adventures of the propaganda channel FOX News and the antics of Rush and Sean Hannrity. And the less said the better about those two RWNJ Shock Jocks. I'm sure my girlfriend worries and wonders about myself at times but even after a while of crappy printers, bitching seniors and my own indifference, she tried to cheer my poor sorry ass up but in the end, I said I had enough of Twitter fun and signed off.

Love isn't easy, yes I know that. Had 30 years of total failure, Dear John notes, cheated upon, fucked over and almost seen my credit report go down the shitter. Basically it is hard for me to really open and truly express myself to the way my other half would like me to do. True, I rant and rave but there comes a point that I get so damn pissed at life and so angry that I go into automatic silence and don't come out of it for a few days. Can't tell you what I am feeling now, cuz I don't have that feeling to show. Sometimes a weekend of silence and a good long Blogbitch will do wonders. But I get tired of dealing with the shit we call life (i.e. dumbfuck drivers, idiot neighbors who don't watch their animals, long red lights that enabled us to meet that speeding textmessenger listening to Rush Asshole) and sometimes I take five and close up shop and go drive to the record stores in Dubuque/IC/Madison and be happy for that short amount of time.

I don't know what this year is going to bring. In one year I'll be fifty and will retire from the CD bargain hunts that I do now. I found more than I ever bargained for and I'm certain I'll find a few more classics before I hit 50. For the first time in this life, I have managed to find that special woman that continues to let me be for who I am and God bless her, I love her to death. She figures greatly into what I do this year and where we go for bargains. Certainly would love to take her out to the desert and the places that I love to go when I want to get away from it all. But it all depends on the situation out there and the timing and cheap air fares if there's such a thing.

If this year is going to be the best, it is failing so far, with the Haiti earthquake and starting out with another cold, just like last year and the year before that (although the Haiti quake was this year). But in the meantime, I'll continue to do the things I like to do and with the one that matters most to me. But I can't promise anymore than one day at a time and I'll take life at that proposition.

And if those damn neighbors still can't control their puppy dog barking, I'm sure there'll be war and another phone call to the deputy just in case that happens.

So it goes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

1-13-10 Mick Green RIP

Mick Green was one of the best pub rock guitarist ever. In the early 60s, he joined Johnny Kidd's Pirates to begin a long and storied career. After Kidd died in a car crash The Pirates broke up for a spell and then returned with a vengence, recording two classic albums for Warner Brothers and a lesser known for Mike Nesmith's Pacific Arts. When Frank Farley and Johnny Spence moved on, Green kept the Pirates going through the 90s and making a few albums along the way but if you really wanted to hear the power of Mick Green, seek out Out Of Their Skulls or Skull Wars (the Warner Brothers albums, the UK album have a different mix and feel). Green passed away on 1/11/10 at the age of 65. He will be missed.

Anyway, I'm still trying to get a feel of blogspot and trying to allow reader comments. I'm a bit tired from going to the dentist and getting my second root canal in as many months, perhaps we got the wrong tooth the first time, but I tell you nothing is more worse for pain than an incensed tooth. The second root canal was very painful, seemed like that dying nerve was into convulsions and had to deal with pain all weekend. And on top of that, trying to get over a damn cold that seems commonplace every damn January. But anyway here in top ten land, we still keep an eye out on music new and old, with a wry comment here and there. I don't think we get the readers like we did in My Space but get the word out and I'm sure the place will be jumping. I don't miss My Space all that much for blogging, at least here things are saved right off the bat.

This week's songs of note.

1. The Fight Goes On-Pat Travers 1990 I got to see Pat Travers and his band play at Dillon's (now 3rd Street Live) and he had Peter Mars Cowling and Jerry Riggs playing and I thought they were better than the Pat Thrall/Tommy Aldridge band of Go For What You Know. Even got to shake Pat's hand (and Jerry and Mars though not the drummer) when they came off the stage and Pat had a nice tight grip too. The album School Of Hard Knocks was availble as an import to which I did get at Best Buy back then. P.T never seems to get enough credit as a hard rock and roller although recently he's more into blues than rock.

2. There's A Light-Noel Redding Band 1975 Former Hendrix bass player goes out and forms a light rock/blues based band that made two albums for RCA that didn't get good reviews but somebody at One Way Records thought enough to reissue them as a 2 on 1. Former Thin Lizzy guitarist Eric Bell plays lead and they sounded a bit like Badfinger (Ass, the album after Straight Up comes to mind) or a Mott The Hoople without a identity. Can be found for a buck at for those who are interested.

3. Fill In The Blanks-Ringo Starr 2010 The first new album of the year is Ringo's Y Not and it is a lot better than Liverpool 8. Why is this album better you ask? Simply of the fact that Ringo has finally gotten rid of Mark Hudson, who pretty much made any of the albums he co produced worthless. Ringo does sound like he's having a bit more fun this time out. Good for him.

4. California Sun-The Riveras 1962 Surf music back in the early 60s could be rock and roll fun. The call and response of guitar and cheesy vox organ makes this a summertime treat to listen to. If only new music was this much fun.

5. When Did You Stop Loving Me When Did I Stop Loving You-Marvin Gaye 1978 This came from his Here My Dear album, which was basically a kiss off to his then wife Anna Gordy Gaye. He owe Motown an album and the next album he would give the royalites to Anna for divorce settlement but what he came up with is one of more oddball classics in the 70s. No, it didn't sell very well and at first Anna didn't think much of this album but supposely she's warmed up to it. Funny thing though while reading the liner notes, that the woman that Marvin left Anna for, he would split up shortly after this album was released and despite the acromonies, Marvin and Anna did chat and kept in touch before his untimely murder. This did get reissued on CD in 1994 thanks be to Cary E Mansfield, who later become head of reissues at Varese Sarabande and bought my copy of The Spongetones Where Ever Land.

6. Rock This Place-Dan Baird 2003 Formerly of the Georgia Satellites, Baird made two pretty good solo albums before putting a import only compliation of a aborted third album to which this song appears on. I'm a fan by the way.

7. Fashion-David Bowie 1980 My GF made a request to put a David Bowie song on the top ten to which this track was decided upon. I'm sure she's never listen to this particular track but I think it came off Scary Monsters, his RCA 1980 album to which this song has a hook that goes something like...beep beep. Don't know if DB was trying to copy Bad Girls from Donna Summer or not. Beep Beep anyway.

8. Good Day-Swinging Steaks 2006 Their classic album came out on Capricorn in the mid 90s but once they didn't sell enough copies went back to the indpendent route and made a couple albums in the 00's. Still think their best remains Southside Of The Sky but this album Sunday Best isn't too shabby either. Found in the buck bins at FYE. Perhaps I should make one more trip to FYE before the door shuts forever down there at Coral Ridge in Coralville.

9. Someday I'm Going To Ride In A Cadillac-Charlie Major 1996 Country star from Canada, made a couple best sellers for Arista Canada and tries his luck on a new and already failing record label. And this song could have made an impact on the charts if it had some promotion behind it.

10. All In It Together-The Pirates 1978 Mick Green and company were so good but to the ears of the US public, their music was much too rough and too raw for even the punks who like the Sex Pistols or Ramones. Not for this critic who bought Skull Wars simply of the fact it had a cool cover and the clerk at the record store said it was rock and roll. Appently this charted on the finer college stations out there and I could have swore that I heard it on KUNI one night in 1979. Kinda wished that Wounded Bird would have issued this album like they did with Root Boy Slim, I'd buy a few copies for myself and friends. Nevertheless, Mick Green would influence Wilko Johnson who would form Dr. Feelgood, a name taken from one of The Pirates songs. The Pirates were the best in pub rock of the late 70s and some of their performances can be found on You Tube. Check them out.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

RIP Tony Clarke

It's interesting to note that in this day and age that music is not longer the focal point, that it seems that we're only interested in what TMZ or Perez Hilton puts out. Or how many times Lady GaGa or Carrie Underwood changes their wardobe during the VMA's. Used to be that the music itself matters. Not anymore.

Last week I knew of the passing of Willie Mitchell, the producer who gave Al Green that definite sound that made his albums classics. Al Green Gets Next To You is all you really need to know about the greatness of Mitchell. There are producers who shape the sound of who they worked with. The Beatles had George Martin, Mott The Hoople had Guy Stevens, Neil Young's best recordings featured David Briggs and of course Jimmy Miller with The Rolling Stones. But perhaps no producer shaped up a band to their potential than Tony Clarke did with The Moody Blues. While Willie Mitchell got some press, Clarke's passing pretty much didn't register much as a blip and a comment from the most dedicated of Moody Blues fans.

The Moody Blues at that time, lost Denny Laine and Clint Warwick after scoring a hit with Go Now and was considered their time was up, till their record label paired them with Clarke to do a album version of Dvorak's New World Symphony till the Moodies conviced Clarke and company to write their own songs and shaped them into Days Of Future Past, the first album featuring a rock band and a orchestra. It wasn't supposed to work but everything fitted in quite nicely and The Moody Blues was reborn and Denny Laine became a footnote.

The Moodies never did return to the orchestra sound, replacing with something called the Mellotron that could imitate the sounds of orchestra if needed. Certainly the Moodies may have wrote and played their songs, but it was Clarke's production that shaped In Search Of The Lost Chord through Seventh Sorjourn and made them what people considered the peak years. Clarke would later produce albums with John Lodge and Justin Hayward (Blue Jays) and the reunion Moody Blues Octave album. It is written that Clarke did built a studio with the Moodies to record albums(only time that happen was 1981's Long Distance Voyager but he didn't produce), but after Octave he would never produced them again. Pip WIlliams and Tony Visconti would take over production on later MB albums but they would not have the same sound or vision that Clarke gave them.

Tony Clarke may not have been a well known producer and his passing may not have MTV cut in on their reality shows but to the seasoned fan and record collector, Clarke's production with the Moody Blues remains his best and most personal. A good music producer will do that, they could elevate a band from out of the ordinary to having their own sound. Clake made The Moody Blues rock and roll pioneers. He will be missed.

Side note: Tony Clarke produced Baby Come Back from The Equals who featured Eddy Grant on vocals who would top the charts with Electric Avenue in 1982 thereabouts.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rod's Top Ten For 1-6-10

Greetings folks. Welcome to my first top ten of the year here in sunny Blogspot. The rules are simple, I pick ten songs that I have been playing on my player and I make witty observations. I've done this at MSN Groups from 2003 to 2008 when they shut it down, and I've done this at My Space from 2006 to 2009. I moved it over here to Blogspot since it's easier to compile them and not lose them over at My Space.

I try to go more past the usual overplayed stuff you hear on the radio but sometimes I have been known to throw a classic oldie. Sometimes I'll throw in a jazz number or country or something before 1954. I think the majority tracks will fall between 1966 to 1993. Why do I do this? Simply to point out there's much more out there to choose from in terms of music and it's my job to keep the forgotten alive. Shall we start?

But first, a moment of silence for the passing of Willie Mitchell, who produced most of the soul music from Hi Records and produced Al Green's best known songs. He was 81.

Thanks to everybody who commented on The Brains post which was written a few years ago. I still think The Brains need to have their albums reisssued on cd and their music has better staying power than most of those MTV keyboard Crank Yankers. Tom Gray we salute you!

This week's selections
1. Combination Of The Two-Big Brother & The Holding Company 1967 I am not the biggest Janis Joplin fan out there and I have heard better versions of this song off Live At Winterland 68 but since Clyde Clifford from Beaker Street played this, I thought I pull Cheap Thrills out and hear it once again. I miss those days of the 60s that you can go to the Fillmore and see a Big Brother or Jefferson Airplane or Grateful Dead.

2. Can Your Monkey Do The Dog-Rufus Thomas 1962 As a youngster I used to listen to a lot of soul music simply of the fact that you can get them 4 for a dollar at Arlan's or K Mart. Or 29 cents a piece. Anyway, this was originally off the Walking The Dog album that I found on CD for a buck at the pawnshop. Later The Cramps would remake this as Can Your Pussy Do The Dog (Quit snickering Sassy).

3. Long May You Run-Stills-Young Band 1976 Sadly missing Crosby and Nash, Neil and Steve put this album out and I still don't know what to think of it. Sounds a bit like Manassas if Neil took over for Chris Hillman but this was a nice mellow number that found its way on Neil's Decade album.

4. The Universal-Blur 1995 One of those British bands that got hyped up to the max, I think Parklife is their best but their followup The Great Escape seems to be missing something but I do like this number. I just got done hearing The Great Escape the second time around and still can't get into that album. Blur was on their way of becoming the 90s answer to The Kinks till they went with a Pavement like sound on their S/T album, with mixed results.

5. What Are We Doing Here-John Entwistle 1971 Pigeon's-Cedar Rapids Iowa, KCRG was given out free albums and I managed to pick up Smash Your Head Against The Wall, John's first solo album and it remains his best overall. In fact it rocked pretty hard, problem was the record skipped on My Size which frustrated me and took me years to get a replacement copy till they finally reissued it on CD. This track is pretty mellow. Jerry Shirley from Humble Pie guest stars on drums. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker who'd go on to do great things with Queen.

6. Can't Get Used To Losing You-The English Beat 1980 Nice ska remake of the Andy Williams classic number and I do like Andy's version too.

7. What You Got-Duke & The Drivers 1975 Originally heard on some Memphis station in the mid 70s, it took me a good ten years to find this song. Duke & The Drivers came from Boston and they do remind me of J. Geils Band without a distinctive lead singer. But they have such a love for Willie Ellison and The Soul Brothers Six that they do a credible version of Check Yourself. But What You Got is their ultimate one hit wonder and it's a gritty garage rock number. Originally on ABC Records and I'm sure the bastards at Universal won't be reissuing this song nor album (Crusin) anytime soon on CD. Side Note: Bobby Chouinard aka Bobby Blue Sky would go on to drum for Billy Squier and Ted Nugent before passing away from cancer.

8. He's Gonna Step On You Again-John Kongos 1971 Later covered by Happy Mondays, this is another one hit wonder from somebody who was produced by Elton John's producer Gus Dudgeon. In the end Gus decided to stick with EJ and John Kongos went into the archives of one hit wonder land. Collector's Choice Music reissued the album on CD but outside of the hit, not much to recommend it.

9. Calypso Blues-Marvin Gaye 1965 One of the cds that I found in the cutouts at the soon to be closed FYE store was Marvin Gaye's Tribute to Nat King Cole, an album that Motown put out but didn't promote all that much although it did get reissued on Cd. And Gaye sings Cole very well but I like this little number to which it's only Marvin and some bongo player accomplying him. Reminds me of Chuck Berry's Havana Moon but I'm sure once you hear this number you won't believe your ears it came from Motown.

10. The Weapon-Rush 1984 From The Grace Under Pressure Tour CD that came out I had to include this simply of the fact that SCTV's Joe Flaherty guest stars as Count Floyd as he leads the introduction to this song. One thing about Geddy Lee and company is that they always have had a barbed sense of humor and it's too bad they never did make it to SCTV the TV show.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year

It's 10 below as I write this. My other half is sleeping away, getting ready to return home after spending a week here with me. I'm missing her and she's not gone yet.

2009 is now history, so is the first decade of this year. Ten years ago, I was celebrating New Year's in Dubuque with my best friend and his soon to be wife, ten years later, we bring 2010 in, with Nicole and I watching part of Inglorious Bastards while our hosts were passed out on the couch.

It's a new year people, and I have moved my music site over to blogspot and you can find it under R S Crabb Music Consortium. My Space was my home for 4 years but viewership was nonexistant and I got tired of waiting to get into the blogs. I still have dialup and My Space isn't dialup friendly.

Going to Coral Ridge Mall, I find that FYE will be closing their doors in a couple more weeks and I did find some cds of note for 40 percent off price. The music stores continue to close. After 35 years I have retired from reviewing new music but I still will continue to buy cds in the used and clarence bins. But for the first time in years I may have found that companion to spend quality time with and Nicole remains that unique person. Yeah she drives me crazy and some of the things she say I have to scratch my head but I love this woman beyond dreams.

2009 was a rough year but I hope that 2010 will be much better. Happy New Year!