Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top 10 Of The Week-The $1.99 Special

While hanging up around the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store on Williamson Street in Madison yesterday a strange thought came my way.  If this was a second hand store, how are they paying for the satellite radio?
It also answered a question of what ever happened to the original MTV VJ's Nina, Alan, Mark, Martha?  Don't ask about JJ, he's been dead for a few years but the still living are now living in their own 80's world on a XM/Sirius channel about the 80s.  But they don't turn away from the tried and tired.  Any fucking radio station this side of KDAT plays Broken Wings or Footloose or Take On Me anytime of day just like classic rock plays Sweet Child O Mine from Ethel Merman and Guns.  I was about ready to buy copies of Broken Wings by Mr Mister and throw them up in the air or fling them off Monona Terrace to the rocks below Lake Monona.
 But getting back to the 80s station at hand.  Like any other person who grew up in that era, MTV was the place to go to see the lesser known and other forgotten before the Madonnas, Billy Idols and Michael Jacksons gave it a identity.  Everybody had a crush on Martha Quinn or Nina Blackwood before she stocked up on the bon bons and not getting off the couch.  And of course, age.  Since then, even though MTV eventually replaced the five originals VJs, you really don't remember anybody else.  Hell, I had to look it up myself.  So, here they are in this canned format at some XM radio that gets played at the thrift store and annoying the public with Mr. Mister again and Mr. Footloose.  I'm sure Richard Page is still getting good royalties from that shitty Foreigner lite song.  Now if XM would have bought back 120 Minutes and played the lesser known 80s song I might pony up a subscription for that.

The big news outside of the ones that Steven Adler, full time druggie and part time drummer from Axl's Guns before being booted, is that Chinese Democracy is now being sold for 1.99 at Best Buy, which includes the vinyl album if you can find it.  What was supposed to be a ground shaking event two years ago is now gone to Best Buy writing this off as a tax loss and decided to cut inventory and sell it quick.  They would have better luck leaving it out in the open as Free and still have problems getting rid of it all. I thought about two or three just for the jewel cases myself, unless they are the cheap assed ones that we have been getting for years.  You know the ones, the ones that the tray is always loose and doesn't stay secure to the jewel case, those MF's.  Seems like Best Buy has had problems of trying to unload Chinese Democracy, at one time they had them for 4.99 before thinking they sold enough to return them back to 11.99 then 9.99 and then finally admitting defeat and having their own budget version of said album.
 The problem is that Axl is in charge with hired hands so he can go out out into the world, show up two hours late and then play.  Seems like Anti Music always seem to think that this is newsworthy, or having Steven Adler getting more than his 15 minutes of fame and it's making rock music looking more laughable than it should be.  Kind of like the new Velvet Revolver singer or Van Halen album or even A Kinks reunion which might be more certain than the Slash returning to the same stage as Axl.   I'm sure it's not a question of when but where for Dave Davies to put up with Ray one more time for the dollars.  But with Best Buy finally giving up on recouping what they put in when they became sole place to buy this so called masterpiece, they cut their losses and run.  And the day is coming very soon that they may just donate the whole Cd and vinyl to the local thrift store.  And then you can be double tortured by a overrated and bloated album while hearing the strains of Mr. Mister in the background.

Your very own version of Hell on Earth.
The Top Ten Of The Week.

1.  You Better Think Twice-Poco 1969  For a band that started out in the early thrones of country rock music you don't hear much about Poco as much as you do as Eagles (they're called Eagles, not The Eagles as Glenn Frey would tell you but this is not about him or that group) and as I have gotten late to the Poco Appreciation Society I had to pick and choose which albums to get and turns out I gotten a few of them and most had mixed results.  Yes the ABC/MCA years were prickly at best, in fact I like their Atlantic album Ghost Town better than anything from ABC Years (although Head Over Heels noses out Legend for best album from that label).  Even the Very Best Of Poco that CBS/Sony Music was erratic at best, the Hip O had a nice overview of all labels but any Best of must have this little rave up rocker from the mind of Jim Messina to which got played on KRNA back in the 70s.  I'm sure I'm not done with reviewing more Poco albums but their S/T 1969 effort might be their overall best.  Deliverin comes in a close second.

2.  Angel Dance-Robert Plant 2010  If you really want to know how far down the CD prices have been for used stuff, Band Of Joy, Plant's latest was bought for 5 bucks at Frugal Muse and I think it's better overall than Raising Sand, his 2007 get together with Alison Krauss which got Percy into the spotlight once again. (Has it been 2007 since Raising Sand got released?). I guess if there was a thing as singles, this would have made the playlist but since AOR rock is dead, it's all made up.  Anyway, a radical reworking of the Los Lobos song to which I predict that band will have something in the top ten before I'm all said and done.

3.  Blue Train-John Coltrane 1957  In my jazz listening, I tend to overlook J.C. more often since I'm more into the sounds of Dave Brubeck with Paul Desmond but there was a time that I did listen to the sheets of sound era of J.C and Kind Of Blue Miles.  Best Buy had been selling Blue Train for 5.99, (the Rudy Van Gelder Remasters with two bonus tracks and better liner notes) and is essential if you want to get the classic jazz of the 50s.  I don't play it too often myself but when I do, I consider this to be the best of the J.C 50's stuff.  You really don't need me to tell you more, but he kept pushing himself to the other limits in the 60s with his best lineup (Elvin Jones, best jazz drummer ever) and A Love Supreme, and each ensuring album taking him further out to space than Heaven's Gate cult trying to hitch a ride to Hale Bopp in 97.  Marshall Applewhite would have better luck with Interstellar Space.

4.  Heartline-Robin George 1985  Interesting 45 found at Mad City Music X yesterday.  It was a DJ promo copy from Bronze Records, Gerry Bron's label which was home to Uriah Heep and Motorhead but this song is better with the hair metal craze of the mid 80s.  Don't recall hearing this on radio although it peaked at number 40 on the mainstream rock charts whereas on top 100 barely making it to 92 before falling off.  Kinda sounds more like metalized John Parr.  Inspirational verse:  It much too late to change the tune, I don't like this song.  Actually I do, right up to the Queen like ending.  Can be found on You Tube.

5.  Don't Take It So Hard-Paul Revere & The Raiders 1968  Underrated song from Mark Lindsay and company.  I remember buying this on 45 but the record skipped so we had to take it back and since they didn't have any other copies of this, ended up getting The Turtles Story Of Rock & Roll.  You'll be happy to know that Sony Music has issued The Essential Paul Revere & The Raiders to replaced the other 2 cd set and here's hoping they don't tack on that goofy ending that plagued that CD and my own mix copy of song.

6.  Charge Card Medley: In The Evening When The Sun Goes Down/Stormy Monday/In The Evening/Bye Bye Blackbird-Lou Rawls 1978   When you say Lou you said it all, the man could even make me drink Budweiser when he said, Yeah, this bud's for you.  It's a far cry from today when you have some halfwit barely strumming chords to sell bad beer whereas in the past they had Ed McMahon and Lou promoting Budweiser. Lou could also sing the hell out of a song.  In fact the trip up to Madison consisted of the 2 CD Best Of Lou Rawls and I was in the Mad City city limits after leaving my house.  Lou recorded for a variety of labels and technically his best was when he hooked up with Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff for five years on Philadelphia International.  I did come across a dollar copy of Lou Rawls Live and even though this is a medley what makes it go is Lou's rapping and talking before going into songs.  Too bad Lou departed to the Big Budweiser in the sky five years ago.

7. Kiko And The Lavender Moon-Los Lobos 1992  Can't decide if this is classic or just overrated. 16 Songs wrapping up 52 minutes to which I came home from Dubuque from Madison and didn't have the change the CD player.  Mitchell Froom can be blamed for the production to which for the next few years they would do their most experimental but not really getting my attention back till Tin Can Trust from last year.  Appently, David Hidalgo and Louie Perez were so taken by Froom's work on Kiko that with him and Tchad Blake, there would be the side project Latin Playboys.  And if you thought Kiko was weird, the Latin Playboys stuff is even more out there.

8.  The Entertainer-Martin Hamlisch 1974  AM radio was still odd enough to include this segment from The Sting, the movie that won best picture and inspired me to go get the book and 45 of this song.  Most of the music was inspired by Scott Joplin's turn of the century piano and people bought it judging from what I have seen at Goodwill and Salvation Army but could never find a decent copy of it.  But you can get a download of this for 8.41 at Amazon.  No thank you, downloads are so not cost effective, think I'll take my chances on memories and a scratchy 45.

9.  The Billboard Song-Homer & Jethro 1952  To which I'm sure Roger Miller must have been listening to and gave us Burma Shave.  My GF will happy to know that in my Mad City trip, I found two more Homer & Jethro albums to further try her patience.  But she informs me that she is still laughing over their version of Sink The Bismarck.

10.  You Set The Scene-Love 1967  If there's one album that really brings to mind the greatness of the 60s, it would be Forever Changes, the third album from Arthur Lee and the band he called Love (originally The Grass Roots but some other band had that name and bigger hits).  Yes it borrows a bit from Pet Sounds but it has a sound all its own to a point that Forever Changes has been reissued about five times in the CD era.  CD remastering king Steve Hoffman took his own shot of remixing the album and if you ever get the collector's edition of this, you will note slight variations such as Lee and band chatting up a storm in the finale.  The Hoffman remixes are fun to listen to a couple times but in the end, I still prefer the original mix and intentions of Bruce Botnick and Arthur Lee.  As they say, everybody should own at least one variation of Forever Changes and that means you if you haven't already.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Madison Bargain Hunts: Hunting In A Hostile Republican World

Madison.  Interesting place to hang out.  Lotta demonstrations going on from what I have seen on the news so when I planned to go up to Mad City it was to see what and how things work down there.  And of course to find music that I didn't have.  And came up with a few interesting things.

The weather was somewhat cool but I found myself pretty much having no trouble getting around the city.  By now when I go into town, I start on the west side and move across 151 to the other side and the next day, hit the Capitol and Mad City Music Exchange.  I also find that I have better luck at the Whitney Way Half Priced Bookstore than I do with the one on the other side of town.   Monday was pretty much going thru HP Books and then hitting PawnAmerica for their dollar CD sale.  To which I spent two hours sorting through a lotta crappy CDs and a lotta scratched up but managed to find three of them.   PrePlayed had nothing to speak of, they keep shrinking their CD inventory to the point that basically it's not much to find in there.  Come to think of it I forgot to stop at the Frugal Muse Bookstore on Washington.  No big deal, although I did stop at the west side store.

I spent Monday  Night at the Microtel as always, and pretty much took it easy.  I figured this was going to be a two day event at best, so I got about four hours of sleep and ended up getting back spams just in time for Tuesday Morning.  Nevertheless, that didn't stop me from finally walking down to The Capitol to see what goes on.  And basically despite what you hear, there wasn't much protesting in the thousands, but I've seen about 20 to 25 folks walking around with picket signs and shouts of "Recall Walker", one being Scott Walker, the Governor who took away the collective bargaining that riled up the state workers.  I took some pictures but sadly, the battery died before I got into The Capitol.  I got there about 12:30, and made past the check areas and inside the rotunda, is a beautiful sights of sculptures and paintings.  Inside, there were about 100 folks singing protest music and carrying signs and there were some schoolkids on a tour of the place.  Nothing radical, but I was amazed how orderly the protesters were.  Even the security guards were very nice. So basically I stayed a while and then moved down State Street to find Ian's Pizza, the pizza place who fed the protesters last month.  2.50 for a slice of Cheese or Pepperoni but I think the cashier messed up since I only paid 3.50, but gave them a tip and told them to keep fighting the good fight.

Got tired of feeding the meter so I drove back around where Mad City Music X was at and parked the car there and spent about three hours sorting through 45s and vinyl and finding a 45 that I used to have as a child, Tommy Roe's Carol for 50 cents and a few others.  Then walked back to State Street for a final walk through of the Capitol area before finding some cool stuff at The Exclusive Company (Say it with me!).

The night run at the Capitol showcased a group of folks still singing protest songs and holding candles but I think the overall feeling perhaps this has ran its course.  Things seem to have a back to normal feeling although there would be one protester on the block, ranting and raving.  But I think the majority of folks just went home since it was a bit chilly outside.  Or perhaps they're waiting to return for the weekend.  I'm sure they will but I have to say that I've never been inside of any Capitol or any place.   But with the events I may have been as close as I will ever get to the vibes of the 60's.

So I return back to car via a short cut at Monona Terrace and then it's off to a Borders that was closing.  Madison has two of them, the one over by the motel is not the list of being closed but the one on Midvale is. This one had two floors but by the time I got there, it was picked clean and whatever was there, Borders jacked the price up to the point that anything new was 20 bucks and even 40 percent off didn't vary all that much from Best Buy.  But you can tell when a place is closing, is when there's a down feeling when you walked through the doors and seeing the cashier with a sad look in her face.  Nothing we can do really, so I hung around for about 20 minutes and then went across the street to the new Target and see what was the fuss there.  Indoor parking, take an elevator to go up to the store, kinda nice but just time wasting to hit the road and return home.

In the end I saw the protesters, and heard them sing We Shall Overcome and This Land Is Your Land and it was emotional in a way.  But I felt like the old man out, still, I came, I saw and then went and found some more cool music.  And made all green lights out of town.

I'm sure I'll return again, but I have a friend in Des Moines that has told me of a new record store opening up.  Maybe I'll convince myself to go there sometime in the near future.   Afterthought:  Monday, Jeff Tweedy played there as well as 7 Walkers, but they must be following each other since they were playing in Iowa City last week I think.  The Old 97's and Teddy Thompson play Friday, but tomorrow James McMurtry and The Bottlerockets play at the High Noon Saloon.  15 dollars gets you in.  Would have loved to seen that.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Day When The Music Buying Stops

As I prepare for my next bargain hunting trip up to the right wing republic of Wisconsin this week I was reading this.

And it got me to thinking about the plight of the music bargain hunter that goes to the music stores to find things.  I don't take into account of the downloaders out there who download music, I don't do that myself, I have many options to choose from but it got me to thinking that ever since Rootkit copy protected CD fiasco which eroded sales since then that the CD is on borrowed time and judging from what I seen at the Wally World and Best Buy section will never return to what it used to be.

The internet has been wonderful in terms of chatting with like minded folk that love music and the obscure and you can find just about anything on You Tube in terms of old forgotten music of my years and yes if it wasn't for the net, I'd be a dateless old person.  The internet also has killed off most of the bricks and mortar Mom n Dad record stores that I used to know and used to go to.  But the major labels never did us any favors either, with overpriced and over recorded LOUD cds (and still are today, the new Saliva has got to be the worst recorded album ever, songs were pretty good though).   Killing the original Napster may had something to do with poor sales but the big slit in their throat remains the copy protect Rootkit CD to which consumers had enough and stop buying and started their illegal downloads in droves.   Leaving the majors to drown in their own bile.  So be it.

Vinyl has always been around, although the majors gave that format just about up in the height of the CD era (Early 90s) and although they are making a hairline comeback, the problem remains that the LP is much more higher cost than the cd itself and paying 50 bucks for a 2 LP Best Of Neil Young is not cost effective unless your a audiophile with a pile of cash an a record player to boot.  The only reason why I bought the 36 dollar Le Noise was that I didn't want the digipak set to which i would find that on jewel case at Target for 14 bucks earlier this year.  Although the independent labels has their LPs around 12 or 15 bucks, back in my days you could have gotten Physical Graffiti for 11.98.  And even if the new stuff is on 180 gram Virgin Vinyl, I have enough complaints about Tom Waits' reissues to buypass them, or least go seek out the original 2 record Nighthawks At The Diner, a record I once had but ended up traded that and about 40 others to get that 4 cd Led Zeppelin boxset that I don't play too often.   It's not that we can't buy vinyl in town, but problem is our town doesn't have no more the record store that has the new vinyl, we have to fucking drive 45 miles to Iowa City or Dubuque or save up extra money or time to head to Madison to which they still have 10 decent stores for music.

And if there's no decent music stores in town anymore, then we have to go to the net.  The advantage to this is saves wear and tear on the car and you don't use gas.  The flipside is that you don't get the thrill of anticipating what your going to find when you walk into a store and see what they have for music.  But then again things do come into an end anyways.

When I turned fifty this year, I basically made it a point that I wasn't go and seek out each and every record store like I did.  The Arizona trip was it, there's no more coming up.  Vegas has been discussed from time to time but in a era of high gas prices returning and the lack of enthusiasm of flying  I don't see that happening either.  My GF talked about maybe St. Louis and there's a remote chance of going, the only definitive bargain hunts is Madison, 2 and half hours away from here.  Minneapolis while sounding good is not a place I'm familiar with and at my age I'm more inclined to go where I at least know where things are at.  Perhaps the next time I'm up in Michigan with my GF, she'll take me to the local FYE (if they're still open) or to further shut me up return me to Encore Recordings in Ann Arbor and leave me there for about 4 hours.

Habits are hard to break and even though I said I would retire from bargain hunting for the lost recordings that's easier said than done but I have been cutting back a lot more than last year.  But I do a lot more hanging around Half Priced Books in town.

I don't forsee any shortage of used cds and albums.  I'm still surprised of what has been turning up but for new music and the way nobody knows how to record it, the newer cd's still sound like overloud bullshit.  And the majors have no intention of breaking new acts rather than the single of the day.  I'm still surprised in this day and age Saliva remains on the Island roster even though the last two albums didn't sell a whole lot.  Which is why going to Madison is fun, they still have enough music and enough turnaround in the bins at the Pawn America store to keep it interesting.  I never know what I'm going to find, that's the fun of it.

But the day when the music buying stops is the day I won't be around.  That's what I think.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jorma Kaukonen Barbuque King Reviewed By Denny DeGorio

Denny DeGorio played bass on this 1980 album that I found at Record Collector yesterday. While some people consider this to be Jorma's fortay into New Wave, I found it more pop rock boogie.  David Kahne Produced this, He would go on to produce Rank & File and later Sugar Ray and the latest Teddy Thompson album.  Denny takes up the story from here.


When Hot Tuna broke up, in 1978, it was a strange world indeed. This amazing guitar player, troubadour of tunes and craftsman of original music always gave a tip of his hat to tradition, while he dutifully carried the torch of the reigning free spirit of the Volunteers of America and the Woodstock generation. Jorma always had an open mind, encouraged creativity in everyone around him, and back then, just as now, he remains an amazingly humble and talented person.

Jorma was not a punk-rocker, nor did he ever try to be. What he did try to be, if anything, was true to himself. To be forced into anyone's preconceived notion or expectation of what he should be would contradict everything he believed in and in my opinion all he stood for. It must have seemed odd I imagine, that the very audience that enthusiastically embraced this ideology in the sixties, were the very ones who seemed to not want to let Jorma change, grow or experiment during this time. Jorma could have easily found a Jack Cassidy replacement; there were tons of fans that practically worshiped him, enthusiastic fans that knew every single song backward and forwards. There were plenty of fans that had access to him and any one of them would have jumped at the offer to play bass for him . There may not have been anyone who could truly replace Jack, for he was (and is) truly a great and unique bass player in his own right, but he could have found someone who knew the songs and someone who could at least emulate Jack's approach. To Jorma, I think, it was about more than that. It was about the spirit.

I was there, that's how I know. I heard people shout disappointedly, "Let your freak flag fly Jorma!!!" after he had cut his hair and died it PURPLE. His hair was short and PURPLE!!!! What more of a "freak flag" do you want???!!!...This reaction seemed about as open minded in '79/'80 as a redneck hollering "get a haircut hippie" a decade earlier. As someone who grew up wanting to believe in 60's ideology it only fueled my disappointment at what had become of that generation. They appeared closed minded and biased to me.

Would his audience of been happier if he put together a professional cover band performing his greatest hits? Did they want a Hot Tuna tribute band? It certainly would seem so. Would Jorma have been? Obviously not.

When Jorma first asked me to play with him it was after he saw Bob Steeler and I play a show in our band "The Offs" at an old Jewish Temple/punk venue next door to the closed Fillmore West. When I met him I didn't know a single one of his songs (unless it had been recorded by Jefferson Airplane). I had a couple of Jefferson Airplane albums as a kid (Bless It's Pointed Head and Surrealistic Pillow were two albums I eventually snagged from my brothers record collection), and the only album I was really familiar with as it had endured many spins on my portable stereo - Volunteers of America). I called him Jorma (With a "hard" J as in "Jump"). I remember asking him about Pentacles and evil spirits as my total knowledge of the Jefferson Airplane was derived from the reading (and re-reading) of the inside of the "Volunteers of America" album: which I also note was the very first new rock album I ever bought.

We met up a couple of days after that if I recall the three of us. We got together and just jammed for hours. The next time I saw him wasn't until a gig in New York. We hadn't even practiced, not in any disciplined sense. I think it was booked as a Hot Tuna show, if I recall - but it wasn't unusual during my tenure for us to be booked as one thing for us to provide quite another.

As we continued to play together, we got a little better. There were a lot of things lacking, and the band was never as good as a band with Jorma should have been. This was for a variety of reasons, including my relative inexperience. We also had our moments, if I can say so myself - but I always thought in retrospect we could have (and probably should have) been so much better, especially with practice and professionalism - but that was the last thing we considered in those days. For these reasons and perhaps others the audience was generally unreceptive to me as a musician and a performer and I generally gave it right back. For better or worse this album chronicles that time. I keep a copy like one might keep a yearbook or a picture album. It reminds me of a younger innocent time for me. It reminds me of fun, wild and free times. It also brings back some bad memories. You can say what you will about this album, but if you listen maybe you can sense a little bit of that spirit, I can even hear it through the over-production. I think I took away a lot of things from my time with Jorma, from that experience - things I am applying now as I return to music after so many years away. After this experience I went on to play with other fantastic and talented musicians. We had True Believers with Alejandro and Javier Escovedo and Jon Dee Graham; I've lived in Austin, Texas since returning from time spent in Munich Germany, it was because of Jorma that I ever travelled there in the first place. For me this Jorma album represents the beginning.

So I give this Album three stars, and each one of those stars go completely to Jorma. (I subtract two stars for my contribution).
His guitar playing is impeccable. I honestly think that although Quah is a must have, this album rounds out any true collection representative of the man. His audience hated this album, for the most part - it sold less than any of the Albums that preceded it. The radio stations barely played it. I must say that I felt as though I was their scapegoat at times and in retrospect I understand why - but at the time it was a tough pill to swallow. They seemed to view Jorma as being a traitor for joining the "punks" (I was the "token" punk rocker). Since my only experience thus far had been playing in punk rock bands I was quite used to people throwing stuff at me; in fact I loved it - and at times I provoked them more.

I guess you could say Jorma wasn't listening to his audience at the time, and he was soon dropped from the record company immediately following the release of this album (RCA).-We parted ways not long after that, though to this day we keep in touch. Although Jorma's audience might not have been all that open minded, they were eager to forgive him and take him back. It was soon forgotten, as if it was just a prank, and he continues to forge ahead to this day. I admire Jorma now, and think it took a lot of courage to do what he's done. He continues to inspire me today and I've grown to develop a lot of respect for him. He is a brave man, and he taught me the life long lesson that it takes true courage to be yourself, sometimes even when you are unsure of what that is. Like any true artist, he is a complicated man, and this album is part of a complete picture. If you are a Jorma fan, you should buy it. If you are one of the old fans that used to throw things at me, you should buy me a beer (a root beer will do!)- or buy my album (if I ever get the dang thing recorded and released ha-ha) - and though I guess I can't really blame you for hating on me back then - in case anyone ever wondered.... I really wasn't evil incarnate (drunk perhaps but not evil).....

Crabb notes:   The album bombed since RCA didn't promote it and Vital Parts, the backing band that Jorma christened would disband.  DeGorio would join with Alejandro Escovedo in The True Believers and played on their first album which is a classic if you can find it.

Barbuque King really doesn't vary much from Hot Tuna I think although Kahne adds plenty of 80's style echo to the mix but it does show more of a pop rock sound than what we don't usually get from Kaukonen.  It fairly holds up although the cover of Love Is Strange seems a bit out of place.  But I do enjoy most of side 1. The title track and Milkcow Blues Boogie nods toward Hot Tuna.  Larry Wittman and Steve Huff of Paul Collins Beat add backing vocals on two cuts.  Worth three stars.

Music Of My Years-The CD Era 1987-1990

 The CD was born around 1982 and I've seen previews about it on CNN Headline News telling us about this 6 inch data storage disk but I never seen any CDs till 1986 thereabouts when there was a very small area at Target and K Mart that had them and they sold for an ungodly 25 bucks.  As a vinyl collector I took exception to this and vowed never to buy the damn things till they came down in price, or there would be a great CD that wasn't on album.

In my time at Arizona between 1986-1987, I discovered that the record stores had way so much out of print albums that I pretty much wasted my savings on trying to get out of print classics from the likes of Mott The Hoople (all Atlantic albums), Hawkwind (Space Ritual) or the latest on vinyl that Zia's or Rockaway sold used, but they also had a used CD bins that they sold for 10 bucks apiece.  But I refused to get on board and when I moved back home from Arizona after not finding any job and getting the runaround from every GD place I applied, I still bought vinyl albums.  But the turning of the tide came when at BJ Records there was this Motown CD of old Vee Jay Records Hits that sold for 15 bucks that I swore one day that I would end up buying.  At my place of work some dude had a collection of over 100 CDs that he would listen to on a portable Discman.  Had another friend that actually took in a CD player component and he had mostly had Stevie Ray Vaughn, or Rush or Ozzy for that matter but his CDs look like they been ran over a few 100 times.

On September 8th of 1987, I finally went to the old Target store on First Avenue and purchased a Sony Discman for 200 bucks and then over to the fledgling Best Buy across the street and bought Lynyrd Skynyrd Nuthin Fancy for 10 bucks and a cut out Pete Townsend Deep End Live cd.  Then trekked over to BJ's To finally pick up Vee Jay's Greatest Hits and the CD buying era was born.

Best Buy at that time was in the strip mall that replaced the Twixt Town Drive In.  At that point the city finally caught up to the fields of that part of town.  What we didn't know back then that when we first saw the newspaper ads promoting a brand new electronic experience the world has never seen, little did we know that this little yellow tag of a new business would era in a new beginning but at the same time we didn't know that the great big decline would be coming since Best Buy was buying things in bulk and selling them cheaper than the music stores around here.  At that time, K Mart and Target had good selection of albums and even Lindale Mall had Record Bar and The Record Store (later Musicland/Sam Goody). Across town Camelot Music was going strong and for independent record stores there was Omni  and Rock n Bach.  Rock N Bach, was Jim Henson's creation, a store that dedicated itself upon the music of the 50s and 60s and promo copies of unknown bands that I bought in bulk.  They moved over from Ellis Blvd to behind the Handi Mart next to Lindale and I spent many times there.  There was this long haired dude named Jerry Scott that I ended up being friends and chatting tunes but at around the late 80s, Rock N Bach had a big selection of CDs.

But with about 7 decent music stores to go to (and twice more in Iowa City) there wasn't a need to really to go hitting the road like I do now.  But once I purchased a CD player, I didn't buy the new stuff but rather bought a lot of the compilations of the 50s and 60s and whatever came out on Chess/MCA so for the most part even back then the comps cost 8 or 9 dollars and the best of the bunch was Dunhill Classics, mastered by Steve Hoffman. Hoffman who mastered the Vintage Collections of the 50s and 60s for MCA cleaned up the sound to the point that they actually sounded better than the actual 45s, they're hard to find now but Universal did reissued them under the Special Markets banner and if you see any of the Vintage Collectibles, they're the actual Hoffman masters although they don't give him credit.  If it's the full 3:38 of Born To Be Wild By Steppenwolf, that's Hoffman's work.  But I also bought fun stuff like Beach Classics, Toga Party and the Ted Nugent & Amboy Dukes best of.

For new music, it varied.  Yes, Big Generator was one of the first cd's I bought but also bought Anthrax Among The Living at the new Record Realm at Iowa City which used to be on first avenue in Cedar Rapids.  Hard to figure out why they moved down south but they didn't stay too long in IC.  I also started to listen to more alternative rock from the likes of Mighty Lemon Drops, The Stone Roses and Drivin n Cryin'.  There was still good new rock coming Kings Of The Sun and Circus Of Power on RCA.

At this point, the Music Of My Years ends at 1990, at the time the opening of Relics Records in the old group of shops off First Avenue and I would make it my second home until it was closed down in 1997 and later Marcus Draves took over for Jerry Scott and moved it to Hiawatha.  But the old place of shops would be torn down to make way for Best Buy to move from the old Twixt Town Strip Mall to take away more of our livelihood.  The Relics Years will have to wait for another time.

The Music of that time:
Anthrax-Among The Living, I'm The Man EP, State Of Euphoria, Persistence Of Time
Elton John-Reg Strikes Back, Sleeping With The Past
The Mighty Lemon Drops-World Without End
The Dangtrippers-Days Between Stations
Full Fathom Five-4 AM
Kings Of The Sun, Full Frontal Attack
Circus Of Power, Vices
The Stone Roses
Drivin N Cryin'-Scarred But Smarter, Whisper Tames The Lion, Mystery Road
Nick Lowe-Basher (Best Of), Party Of One
Richard Thompson-Daring Adventures, Amnesia, Rumour & Sigh
James McMurtry-Too Long In The Wasteland
Steve Earle-Guitar Town, Exit O, Copperhead Road, The Hard Way
Dwight Yoakam-Guitar Cadallics etc etc, Hillbilly Deluxe, If There Was A Way
Lonnie Mack-Road Houses & Dance Halls
Stevie Ray Vaughan-Live Alive, In Step, The Sky Is Crying
Bob Dylan-Oh Mercy
Deep Purple-House Of Blue Light
Godfathers-Birth School Work Death, More Songs About Love And Hate
Living Colour-Vivid, Time's Up
Rolling Stones-Dirty Work, Steel Wheels
The Kinks-Think Visual, UK Jive
Robert Plant-Now & Zen, Manic Nirvana
Jason & The Scorchers-Still Standing, Thunder & Fire
Status Quo
BoDeans-Outside Looking In, Home
Sidewinders-Witchdoctor, Auntie Ramos Pool Hall
Omar & The Howlers-Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty, Wall Of Pride, Monkeyland
Webb Wilder-Hybrid Vigor, Doo Dad
Metallica-Master Of Puppets, Garage Days Re Revisited
The Godz-Mongolians
REM-Document, Dead Letter Office, Green
Aerosmith-Done With Mirrors, Permanent Vacation, Pump
Georgia Satellites-Open All Night, Land Of Salvation & Sin
Rank & File (Rhino)
Smithereens-Especially For You, Green Thoughts, 11
The Feelies-Only Life
Tom Petty-Let Me Up (I've Had Enough), Full Moon Fever
Neil Young-Freedom, Ragged Glory

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top Ten Of The Week-Terms Of Familarity

So here we are.  Three days into spring.  And right off the bat the first day we had a gullywasher.  My brother built a bit a diversion off the driveway and made our very own waterfall from it into the ditch.  Spring is here, looks like rain rain rain once again.  Could be worse, could be ice.

With winter officially over, I can tell you that I didn't catch the cold nor flu all winter for the first time since 2006. I call it a miracle upon itself.    Can't tell you how I did it, a little luck and blessings from above.  Some weren't so lucky this year.   Wayne Robinson used to be head of the IT department when I was working in Iowa City at the old NCS place.  He retired sometime last decade but stayed on as a consultant.  He went out to Colorado for vacation last week and ended up getting a massive heart attack and died Saturday.  He was 63.  He was a tall guy, had long curly hair and had a scruffy unshaven look half the time.  I think I recall him from the scanner side of things when I first worked in IC around 1985.

Ralph Mooney, the best damn steel guitar player ever.  He used to play in Wynn Stewart's band of Wishful Thinking fame then co wrote Empty Arms, a 1956 hit for Ray Price, and then was part of Waylon Jennings' outlaw band of the 1970s.  He also had a hand in the Bakersfield Sound on recordings by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.  Later played on the latest Marty Stuart album.  Dead from complications from cancer at age 82.  They're all leaving us.  Only ones left behind are the autotuned faceless folks.

Pinetop Perkins.  Last of the original blues-men that goes back to the days of Muddy Waters.  Recently won a Grammy TM with Joined At The Hip with Willie Big Eyes Smith, who used to be Muddy Waters' drummer on Hard Again in 1977, switched over to harmonica later.  Pinetop was famous for Pinetop's Boogie Woogie in the early 50s.  Played with Sonny Boy Williamson on the King Biscuit Broadcasts.  Ike Turner called him one of the founding fathers of Rock and roll and taught him what he knew.  Oldest person to win a Grammy TM.  His heart gave out and he passed from a cardiac arrest at the age of 97.

Yesterday I was subjected to one of the worst all time albums ever with the Sin-arta Tribute Album (for release next week but if you want a cheap copy, contact me) but the second most disappointing album of the year has to be the New York Dolls-Dancing Backwards On High Heels (429/Savoy) to which I couldn't wait to review it and ended up getting a note from Mark Prindle telling me about it was going to be a disappointment since it sounds like a mediocre David Johansen nostalgia solo trip.  To which he was dead on.  Part of the big problem was that they lost Sami Jaffe and Steve Conte to Michael Monroe's Band (MM being former singer of Hanoi Rocks).  The other problem is Jason Hill's subpar production work.  And the songs themselves really sounded thrown together and nadir is Johnansen's I'm So Fabulous which supposely mocks the tourists who visited New York and give the impression that they so high and mighty but the way David sings it, he sounds bitter and dour.  The only decent song was a remake of Funky But Chic.  Before this, I have never had heard a bad David Johansen nor NY Dolls album.  But this sounds tired.  But at least the total time of album is 37 minutes long which still might be too long of a album to be entertained.  But at least it's not a total waste as the Sin-arta fiasco.

And finally, I hate Guns N Roses most particularly Sweet Child O Mine to which I heard on two radio stations at the same time last night and once again from the dumbfucks at The FOX at 11 oclock this morning while going to the dentist.  I do like Slash and his guitar playing, I bought and enjoyed Izzy Stratlin's two Geffen albums and even Duff McKegan had some quality moments.  Axl Rose remains the problem with that baying vocal of his, never liked it much before nor after.  I think ample times of hearing the intro to Welcome To The Jungle at every NFL game, or the opening notes of Sweet Child that makes me run out of the store or punch the button on the radio.  Like any overplayed song you have to hear to classic rock radio, it goes past the point of annoyance and if you didn't like the song in the first place, it's a Chinese water torture just like the Chinese Democracy bomb that Axl gave the world.  We live in a world that we have more music than ever before, but our Cumulus owned FM stations continues to slash the playlist to the same 50 songs to which Sweet Child O Mine is guaranteed to annoy me everytime I turn on The FOX.  In terms of my frame of mind I'd perfer Rebecca Black.  But that opinion might be different next week.

The Top Ten Of The Week:

1.  Funk #49-James Gang 1970  One of more familar guitar introductions.  Amazing how Joe Walsh can pull that off.  Taken from James Gang Rides Again, a album that I had originally on 8 track.  To which it repeated twice on 8 Track.  Fun fact: originally The Bomber had the Bolero medley on 8 track but not on the album nor 15 Greatest Hits that MCA stuck out on CD.  That used to be 16 Greatest Hits but Ya Dig got left off the CD version.  Confused?  You shouldn't be.  Ya Dig was the B side to Walk Away, their highest charting hit.  Never heard Funk #49 on radio before getting the 8 track at a garage sale.

2.  Here We Go Again-Ray Charles 1967  The man redefined country music with soul and this is when Brother Ray incorporates a bit of blues to go with that country sound.  You'll be happy to know that Willie Nelson along with Branford Marsalis and Norah Jones is doing a Ray Charles album called Here We Go Again The Songs Of Ray Charles which will be on Blue Note Records.

3.  Shotgun-Vanilla Fudge 1969  The jury is still out on The Fudge and their radical arrangements of cover songs.  Carmine Appice influenced John Bonham and you can hear trace amounts of Appice's drum solo at end on Moby Dick to compare notes.  However, this is a straight ahead heavy metal wrecking of the Jr. Walker classic to which Vince Martelli takes on a wah wah petal and gets strangled in the process.  Atco Records issued this a butchered 2 and half minute version on the 45 but the whole 6:14 glory is found on The Very Best Of Vanilla Fudge (Atco 1982) or Near The Beginning which Sundazed reissued a few years ago and is still in print.  The Butchered single version is on the Rhino Best of.

4.  Let There Be Music-Orleans 1975  They were on ABC for a few albums and didn't have hits so they jumped on board to Asylum and this was the first of a few hits for them.  John Hall would go on to a solo career and now is a Congressman from New York.  This managed to pop into the local top thirty but they would have a bigger hit with Dance With Me (which was my Aunt's theme song at her wedding).  In terms of this lite pop rock, I think I prefer them over Pablo Cruise.  At least I can listen to their Still The One comp over the Pablo Cruise's Need You Now, which didn't do much for me.

5.  Gallows Pole-Led Zeppelin 1970  I have a friend that had the first two LZ albums before ZOSO came out but he didn't have LZ 3 and couldn't figure out why.  He said it was too mellow for him but I found a scratched up copy for a buck and turned out that this would be my fave LZ album before Physical Graffiti.  Turns out that I actually liked side 2 more than I did side 1, from this song to (Hats Off) To Roy Harper which is weird for LZ standards.  Before that this song was on the bootleg An Hour With Led Zeppelin 8 Track, poorly recorded but did the trick before finding the actual album.

6.  Sake Of The Song-Blackmore's Night 2011  For years I resisted hearing anything from Richie Blackmore's Medieval Folk group till I found a new copy for 2 bucks at Half Priced Books.  They actually had two copies of this in the budget bins but of course somebody snagged that up too.  But to find out that this is very good.  Blessed with a beautiful woman with a great singing voice, Candice Night might be the best vocalist that Richie Blackmore ever had, so great that he ended up marrying her.  But the new album Autumn Sky proves that Blackmore is still very technically great at playing guitar or mandolin or whatever passes for a string instrument.   So give him a hand, he deserves it.  Side note: Yeah I know, Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio  were great vocalists that gave Blackmore's songs classic status but since he couldn't marry either one of them....

7.  Don't Do It-The Band 1972  As much as I'm trying to get Brooksie to do a top ten (eventually I'll win, I hope)  I tend to borrow tunes from her website of what she's listening to. I choose this outstanding track from Rock Of Ages.

8.  Lonely Winds-The Drifters 1960  Wasn't a big hit but my mom had it on a 45 years ago.  Showcases the late great Ben E King.  I tend to revisit the music I grew up with but I somehow tend to ignore the doo wop and R and B bands of long ago and far away,  I'll rectify that in the near future.

9.  Sometimes I feel So Uninspired-Traffic 1972  I have those days too.  And top tens to boot but I'll never tell which ones they are.  The album Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory never got much good reviews but I always enjoy that record when I play it.  Although On The Road is a bit of a chore to sit through.  And John Barleycorn Must Die (especially Empty Pages).

10.  Wish You Were Here-Pink Floyd 1975  I guess I must have mistakenly put my copy in the donation bin at Goodwill for I have not found the CD and ended up getting a replacement vinyl album for four bucks at Half Priced Books.   Next up on my vinyl want list: Animals.

New releases this week include.
Steve Martin & Steep Canyon Rangers-Rare Bird Alert (Rounder)  Better put together album than The Crow but still that album was pretty good.  Still standard straight up bluegrass although Martin adds a bit more comedy to the songs (Women Like To Slow Dance-done to a fast bluegrass beat, Jubilation Day, King Tut). A-

Saliva-Under Your Skin (Island)  For modern rock, I can listen to them without much problem.  Radio ready ballads to go with their nu metal rap. Better than Chico Dibalo although when I feel the need to hear Saliva, I put on Blood Stained Love Letter.  B

John Popper & The Duskray Troubadours (Savoy/429)  A scrappier version of Blues Traveler he touts and he's right, with Jono Manson helping out, it's more poppier and less abstract than BT although he slops it up on Leave It To Faith.  B+

As this went to press, Elizabeth Taylor passed away at age 79.  I really wasn't that big of fan, but I think my faves were with Richard Burton on Who's Afraid Of Virgina Woolf and Cleopatra.  Something about their chemistry that brought out the best of both of them.  I do admire her charity work in the fight against AIDS and of course we all know about  her being best of friends with Michael Jackson. I'm sure something in her died when he O'D two years ago but she's always had some sort of health problems but overcame them.  But once again seems like we're losing ICONs from the past and Liz is one of them.  She'll be missed. RIP.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Crabb Cheapo Cheapo Reviews-Angelfire, Sin-arta, Blackmore's Night

No shortage of things found in the 2 dollar bins at my favorite place to find things.  Perhaps the most bizarre out of all of them is the Sin-arta CD.  To which Bruce Kulick, former KISSer and now Grand Funk Railroad hack decides to get some of his metal singing buddies to cover songs done by the Chairman Of The Board and I don't Frank would have approved much of it.  I only could sat through 2 songs, the OTT New York New York theme done by Devin Townsend and Glenn Hughes giving everybody a headache on the oversung I got You Under My Skin.  Kulick did a very good metal Christmas tribute album to which heavy metal heads sang Christmas Carols but this Frankie tribute would have him spinning in his grave.  I'm sure Geoff Tate and Doug Pinnick will have better versions but for now it didn't seem like a good time to review it.  Even though I found a promo copy in the 2 dollar bins, the release date is March 29 so I got the exclusive on this.  Which may not be a big deal after all.

Upon new releases from Richard X Heyman to which i passed on, I ended up getting Angelfire (Radiant) a collaboration between Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple) and Sarah Spencer and even though Morse gets top billing, it's Spencer that does the domination of songs and arrangement, in fact this is the first Morse album that he sounds subdued and not out front.  Spencer's airy vocals  comes across like a  Sarah McLaughlin,  Loreena Mckennitt and Enya and what do I make of it?  Is it religious music?  New Age?  Certainly not rock and roll.  I did find myself humming along Everything To Live For, or Get Away.  But this is the type of stuff you hear on The Spirit 89.1 although I wouldn't call it praise music.

I have really not heard much of Blackmore's Night, his medieval folk acoustic band all that much and finding his new album Autumn Sky (Spinefarm/Fontana)  in the 2 dollar bins was worth  listen to even though I didn't expect much but in all honesty it's not a bad album at all.  The purists out there have based lead off track Highland  for it's rock beats and Blackmore playing electric leads but I came to find that I actually liked the song and for what I heard, Blackmore's guitar playing remains damn good.  He obviously enjoys playing this music which kinda reminds me of the old Fairport/Steeleye Span bands of yore and Candace Night sings pretty damn good.   Again the purists out there have decried the cover of Celluloid Heroes (done by the Kinks, thought Blackmore was done with rock n roll?) and it may be slight but I can to listen to it. Candace does owe a bit to McKennett in vocal but I must say she's a pretty good singer that doesn't oversing. In fact she wins me over on the beautiful finale Barbara Allen.  Even Richie Blackmore's work on the six string is excellent. Bravo!

For albums of note Willie Nelson-Country Winners (Camden/Pickwich 1973) a budget priced 9 song selection of some of Willie's best known RCA stuff (The Party's Over, Night Life, Funny How Time Slips Away).  I forgotten how Hello Walls starts out with Willie dueting with the late Pete Drake's talking steel guitar (Drake could make it sound robotic) but then again I didn't realize that I had more than half the songs on the RCA Best Of Willie Nelson Volume 1.  Pickwick back in the 70's would license albums from the major labels and then chop off one or two lesser known tracks to sell it at budget prices, a total ripoff if you ask me. But for cheap records, Pickwick vinyl seemed to be a lot better than most of the major labels.  I also don't know why I have more RCA Willie Nelson than I do his classic Columbia albums either.

Moody Blues Caught Live + 5 (1977)  Three sides live came from a 1969 show and for a band that did things perfectly in the studio they sure were sloppy and loose onstage, heck Nights In White Satin kinda sounds punky to me.  The Dream/Have You Heard/The Voyage medley sounds quite dated and whoever is trying to hit the high notes on Ride My See Saw is sadly out of tune (John Lodge behind this?).  Doesn't help when Mr. Edge is trying to do a drum solo on Peak Hour and looking buffoonish but I guess that's why I consider that tune to be punk rock too.  But for the pluses Gypsy sounds better than it did on the ill fated Live at The Isle Of Wright 1970 album, Never Comes The Day and Tuesday Afternoon rock and even Dr. Livingston I Presume rocks as well.   The 5 studio cuts on side four were not good enough for the original albums but Give Me A Little Something is the best out of the bunch with Long Summer Days with a catchy chorus.  The five songs would appear later on the London Prelude, which came out in 1987, one of the first CDs that I ever bought.  Strange to see Caught Live + 5 issued on London instead of Threshold in 1977 and I remember seeing many copies in the cutouts at Target.

Grades of note:
Steve Morse & Sarah Spencer-Angelfire B
Blackmore's Night-Autumn Sky A-
Willie Nelson-Country Winners B
Moody Blues-Caught Live +5  B

Sin-arta (Armory/Eagle Rock)

It's hard to do a tribute album to celebrate of a legend and many have tried and most have failed.   And some should have never been tried at all.  Case in point, the new Frank Sinarta tribute album from Bruce Kulick who decided there's nothing to do better than turn the guitars up to 10 and give us the usual outdated hairmetal riffs from the 80s and have former metal heads sing Frank's better known hits.  And it fails miserably.  Not even Geoff Tate can save Summer Wind from the excessive Kulick riffs and loud drums and cheesy keyboard masquerading as horns.  Or have the likes of Devin Townsend, Glenn Hughes, Eric Martin and Ripper Owens who trashes Witchcraft to the point that you wish that The Chairman Of The Board would come out of the grave and fit him with cement shoes.  This is so bad, that the best track on the album is done by Jeni (Warrant) Lane and Ritchie Kotzen on That's Life....which was much better done by David Lee Roth.  And Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) played on that track too and on this album but you can't hear him over the screams of the guest singers and overpower Kulick guitars.  Even Robin Zander is overmatched by Fly Me To The Moon. 

If you're going to cover Frank Sinarta's music and songs you better have a certain respect and know how to approach to sing the songs.  And nobody does this on Sin-arta, which just may be the worst album I have ever had the misfortune to listen to.  It's beyond sucks, this is a total failure.  And a piece of shit too.

Grade F

Thursday, March 17, 2011

crabb bits: More ARS Neil Diamond Observations, & Vanilla Fudge Too

On The Subject Of:

Atlanta Rhythm Section...Funny how when a important player dies that we revisit their work and ARS is no different.  The first 45 I've bought from ARS was not their big hit So Into You but Jukin, which popped out in the summer of 1976 and I bought up at the old Marion TV and Records.  But I kept mispronouncing it as Junkin which showcased my Midwestern ignorance of Jukin, which was southern for going out to the bars and dancing to the jukebox and getting into fights and drinking or such.  There's another term for Jukin in the urban dictionary which is a little bit different which is about popping and grinding on the dance floor.  Amazing how the rappers tend to take it to a different style and graphic imaginary (thank God for Spell checker).  Nevertheless, Jukin wasn't a major hit for the Atlanta Rhythm Section but it did pave the way for Polydor to keep the band going for the next album which So Into You gave them staying power in the FM field.  For the most part, I have not heard their 2 MCA albums to which original lead singer Rodney Justo was on, but for the most part Ronnie Hammond was the more smoother.  But like the majority of folk the only album I got was The Very Best of ARS in 1990 which had most if not all of their hits and choice album cuts although the showstopper Another Woman's Man is on Red Tape, an album on my want list.  But the albums that I did get were the 1982 Columbia LP Quinella    which rocked a lot harder than the failed 1980 Boys From Doraville or even Champagne Jam.  Since the passing of Hammond, the CD has been commanding big bucks off Amazon for 40 dollars for the cheapest copy and 60 dollars for the Sony Special Products version which I can't figure out since that version features no liner notes.  It did give them a hit with Alien, but the next album got shelved after a disagreement with CBS and they disbanded for a while and then reformed to make 1989's Truth In A Structured Form which came out on (guess where)  Imagine/CBS records!   It actually sounded too much like 38 Special with the big beats and keyboard sounds of that time but still worth a listen.  For me the masterpiece was 1999 Eufaula to which Ronnie Hammond wrote about the happenings of that time.  He was shot by a police officer in a fight but survive and was going through some personal problems and some of it came out in certain songs.  But sadly their record label went bankrupt and it never got promoted right.  To which eventually Hammond would retire from the Atlanta Rhythm Section in 2002.  But for good late 90s southern rock Eufaula can't be beat, for it still sounds like ARS did back in the 70s.  It was honest and it should have been a classic.

For Neil Diamond music contributions, he made his mark with The Bang Years, recently reissued and shows what happens when Neil was paired with sympathetic producers who knew how to make a song better by singing in the right spots.  Ellie Greenwich sang backup along with Jeff Berry on these recordings and their contribution remains irreplaceable.   Back in the 70's Bang Records repackaged the songs so many times that the ensuing albums made no sense outside of trying to get money from the public as his UNI hits were piling up (and later Columbia) which explains why Do It and Solitary Man managed to pop into the KCRG top 100 songs of 1970 even though they recorded four years earlier.  At my time as I teenager I had a choice between a K Tel Compilation of Neil Diamond's Bang Hits and the 2 album set from Bang called Double Gold which the only difference was the K Tel album was a dollar cheaper.  After that, they all disappeared, leaving us with the 1983 Columbia Classics-The Early Years but the songs were different than the versions I was familiar with on 45 or on the K Tel Best of.  For the youngsters that didn't know the mono 45 versions could have cared less but to me, it was kinda sacrilegious to hear alternative takes of Cherry Cherry or Kentucky Woman or Shilo.  At least I remembered but the album isn't a throwaway, even though The Bang Years you have the mono 45 recordings.  But still, Classics reminds me of the colorization of black and white movies,  that with different arrangements and strings and horns on Kentucky Woman smoothed out the rough edges and made it tamer than the original version.  However, I'll grant them this, at least they edited in the first verse of Do It and it went from 1:52 seconds to 2:24.

When Neil moved over to UNI (later MCA)  he kept the pop sensibilities but with Tom Catalino, Neil wrote some great pop songs (Memphis Streets, Brother Love's Traveling Show, Hurtin, You Don't Come Easy) but he started writing strange songs  (Pot Smoker's Song which was anti pot judging by the voiceovers) Dig In, and perhaps his most WTF song title ever You're So Sweet Horseflies Keep Hanging Around Your Face (say what????)  The weirdness that was Velvet Gloves & Spit has to be heard once to be believed and then traded in.  In some ways Sweet Caroline and Brother Love's Traveling Show begin to show Neil going toward the bombastic and overblown (although not too much since 45's limit that to around 3 and half minutes) but they are still classic songs.  Certainly by now, Neil knew his formula and knew it well to translate it into hits like Holly Holy (to the over the top ending) or Cracklin Rosie and Walk On Water, the calm leading to the buildup and then taking it home LOUD.  The Neil Diamond Collection captures all the great UNI/MCA hits, plus a rocking remake of Cherry Cherry and makes a good bookend with The Bang Years.

By then when Neil Diamond moved over to Columbia in 1973 (and still remains) he became a adult contemporary pop star and didn't rock and roll anymore.  By then I gave up after his chaotic 1976 Beautiful Noise album, produced by Robbie Robertson who would go on a chaotic career himself.  Hated If You Know What I Mean but did like the title track a little.  And Be from the Jonathan Livingston Seagull album was a fine track but I haven't heard it in years.  His pop hits never spoke to me in the way Cherry Cherry or Solitary Man did and as much as Longfellow Serenade sounded okay on the radio it sounded odd on the stereo.  And after his big number 1 1978 hit You Don't Bring Me Flowers, I ignored him till 2005's Rick Rubin Produced 12 Songs which should have returned him even more into the spotlight had Sony Music not installed those copy protect Rootkit CDs that killed off any momentum that he had.  Rick Rubin did enabled a bit more control over previous producers while stripping Neil's sound down to simply guitar, piano and bass and 12 Songs is his best since the UNI years.  However, the next album Home Before Dark  didn't do much for me and it may have been the Natalie Maines duet or the fact that songs went on too long.  I'll doubt if I ever make a effort to review his Columbia albums of the late 70's and 80s but I may in the future seek out his Three Chord Opera album of 2001 to which Peter Asher co produced or maybe even the Bob Gaudio produced country album 1997's Tennessee Moon but it's not high on my list of things to get.  In the end, the early Neil will always have a home and some shelf space in my listening room.  I hold those close to heart.

In my search for 45's this week, it was Leo Greco Rain Rain Polka and it is what it is, a decent polka number that doesn't overstay it's 2:10 mark.  Dot Records back in the 60's was ran by Randy Wood and he seemed to not have much of a rock and roll liking although, he did release a bunch of surf numbers between the Billy Vaughn, the Lawrence Welk, the Pat Boone and so on.  And when Dot got bought out by Paramount, Wood formed Ranwood and took Welk, and Vaughn with him it seems.  But as everybody knows Polka doesn't sell very well and Greco's single and album Czech Time proved this.  Greco would go on to host the Czech Party show Sunday mornings on WMT AM and Later 1450 K Memory and he may still be doing that.  However I rarely am up that early on Sunday Mornings so I wouldn't know.  The other was Vanilla Fudge Season Of The Witch Part 1 and 2 on Atco Records and it's one of the more silliest songs I've heard.  The Vanilla Fudge is one of the bands that can move me or annoy me.  The best stuff remains You Keep Me Hanging On, Take Me For A Little While probably the two biggest hits they have.  Further research showed that Shotgun is a two and half minute song on 45 whereas it's over 6 minutes on their albums but Atlantic/Atco decided to give their version of Some Velvet Morning to a full 7:42 on a 45, twenty seconds longer than MacArthur's Park by Richard Harris!  Season Of The Witch is about 8 and half minutes long but even the single version of part 1 and 2 is shorter than the album cut.  And made no sense being issued as a single. And the public didn't buy it either.  The Fudge did break up around 1970 only to reform and make the crappy Mystery in 1984 for Atco, in trying to be in with the times but sticking out like a sore thumb and none of the songs I liked much anyway.  In the end, The Best of Vanilla Fudge (1982 version) is my go to album if I want to hear the craziness that was Vanilla Fudge.  For their studio stuff  Renaissance and side one of Near The Beginning I'd give nod over the still in print ATCO self titled but I really have no use of the 23 minute Break Song that sinks Near The Beginning from classic to relic of its time.  The less said about their 2000's stuff and the Led Zeppelin Out Through The In Door tribute the better.

And so it goes.

More Time Wasters:  I'm sure Bob Geldof has good intentions being the keynote speaker at SXSW and claiming rock and roll is dead but I have yet to hear a listenable Bob Geldof album, or for that matter Boomtown Rats.  As for Glee the show, to which high school seniors break out in song, seems like if you slam the show, the creator slams you.  But I'm sure the Glee dude isn't losing sleep over Geldof saying he won't perform in that show.  Neither will Dave Grohl.  But since Grohl is more bankable, I'm sure the Glee dude will be throwing a tantrum over that.....The fallout over Scott Walker and the Union up in Madison has made kinda hard to go take a stroll down State Street and seeing the college kids and wishing I was 25 years younger.  Thought about going there last week but went to Davenport instead.  However the The RS bargain hunting network will be Mad City bound probably around early April.  So if you see a grumpy old crabb hanging around Half Priced Books or Mad City Music Exchange on some Monday that time, chances are you have encountered me.  Hopefully the rainy season will not be upon us by then.  But then again it's just about springtime so I'm sure it will be rain rain rain every week here, just like last year and the year before that and before that....Coming attractions:  more Music Of My Years, more top tens, and whatever comes to mind but with the weather getting warmer it will mean I'll be out and about to enjoy it before the storms and bugs come out and they will.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Top Ten Of The Week-The Ides Of March And The End Of Days

By now you have heard of the terrible happenings out in Japan beginning with a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami so wide and so sudden that when you see the videos of it hitting, you cannot realize how fast it has happened.  In the course of 30 seconds, city streets and towns were washed away by black death tide and many many cars, trucks, boats and buildings wiping cities and towns off the map.  Even Godzilla never destroyed Tokyo that fast. It makes me wonder if there is a beginning of the end of days and seeing the horrible destruction and hearing first hand accounts of possible nuclear meltdown.  The worst disaster happening to Japan since World War 2.  However if there's anybody that can survive this and rebuilding it's them.  But first the aftershocks must subside.

And if you haven't had enough things to worry about, Limp Bizkit is back with not only one but two new albums ready to be ignored.  Guess old gray beard Fred Durst hasn't gotten word that the world can only take so many disasters at one time.  Lil Wayne will appear on a track, Wes Borland returns and if anybody gives a flying fuck  Gene Simmons guest stars as Super Tongue.   Certainly in the annuals of rock history has never been a band that has been so worthless and annoying as Fred Durst and the Bizkit Boyz who managed to give Woodstock a bad name in 1999 and managed to waste Interscope money with life changing titles like Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Favored Water (or what happens when you eat too many burritos and hot dogs and get the end result 10 minutes later) and the worst version of Behind Blue Eyes ever made.  If events in the Middle East, Japan earthquakes and Tsunami and floods are reminders of the End Of Days are coming, then 2 new Limp Bizkit albums should seal that fate. The Ides Of March indeed.  Et tu Gray Beard Durst.

It hasn't been a good day for Gilbert Gottfried, the annoying voice dude that been the AFLAC duck ever since it was invented.  He cracked one too many tasteless jokes on Twitter and they fired him and looking to replace him.  I would say Tom Waits would fit perfect for that  but since he doesn't do commercials or let them use his songs to sell things that is a moot point.  Speaking of which, Tom along with Neil Diamond, Darlene Love, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell and Dr. John have taken their respective place in the Rock Hall Of Fame.  Even the other Neil, Young that is, jammed with Waits on Get Behind The Mule.

And two more musicians of note have passed on.  Joe Morello, drummer for Dave Brubeck's classic Take Five lineup passed away at age 82.  Of course Take Five is the best known song of Brubeck and company and always seem to have a drum solo but upon hearing the 1968 Buried Treasures live document came to find out that there was no drum solo in that song, Morello waited till St. Louis Blues to do a bit of solo on that number.  When I was younger, my dad bought a box of records home and that was my exposure to Jazz but didn't pick up on it until 1996 when I started picking up John Coltraine and Thelonious Monk albums and then filled in the blanks later with other artists, Brubeck was somebody I didn't get into till later in the 00's.  Brubeck may have had better lineup (his 1972 rhythm section of Jack Six and Al Dawson were more rocking) but Joe Morello was the one holding the beat for the most famous of the lineups.   I've never heard any bad Brubeck albums but anything featuring the late great Paul Desmond remains classic.  Brubeck turned 90 last December but even in his twilight years still manages to play a bit of piano and live from time to time. But I'm sure in the great beyond and in the great lineup in the sky he'll reunite with Morello and Desmond for a heavenly performance of Take Five or In Your Own Sweet Way.

Ronnie Hammond was the lead singer of Atlanta Rhythm Section, replacing Rodney Justo and was the voice behind the hits So Into You, Jukin, Alien, and Champagne Jam.  He continue to sing with ARS for the forgotten 1990 Truth In A Structured Form (recorded for Imagine/CBS and recorded by a then unknown Brendan O'Brien) and Eufaula (Platinum 1999) before retiring from ARS in 2002.  He passed away from a heart attack at age 60.  I got to see Atlanta Rhythm Section in Oklahoma City in 1989 with a lineup featuring the likes of Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult, Leon Russell and Edgar Winter together and a couple other bands that escape my memory.   Hammond retired in 2002 mentioning that "nobody didn't want to hear his kind of music" which I don't think strayed far from the truth but rather of the fact that noboby bought any of the ARS stuff outside of the Polydor stuff.  Time and radio have passed ARS by but by no means their later stuff wasn't that bad, it's pretty good.  It's just that the youngster had their own music to listen to.  Hammond had that distinct vocal that associated him with ARS, you may have not known the name but the voice you would know that's a ARS song.  Ronnie Hammond, the vocalist.  He will be missed.

My choices for the Top Ten Of The Week if you have read this far.

1.  Any Way You Want It-Journey 1980   I'm sure I'm going to get lambasted by Steve Perry Appreciation Society but you can slowly see by this album that Perry was taking the band over although I think Departure was the last true Journey which Greg and Neal sang on a couple songs.  Had the album long time ago, I think I traded it and about 100 other LPs to get that Led Zeppelin box set I hardly play and so thinking I could find the CD in town cheap right?  Wrong.  Wally World didn't have it, neither did Best Buy and I ended up getting it for five bucks at the Moline for fuck's sake.  Sure this is overplayed but it is good rocking Journey even when The Voice soars higher and higher toward the end of the song.  Again I do like Steve Perry mind you but there are some songs on Departure that I cannot listen to (I'm Crying comes to mind) and it became the template of next Journey album Escape to which they became a Arena Band on the strength of Don't Stop Believing.  But then again Steve Perry have always been a fan's favorite though never high on critics' list.  Given the clash of egos between The Voice and The Rest Of Journey, I doubt if they'll ever perform together again.

2.  I Feel Fine-The Beatles 1964  Course it came out as Beatles 65 but like the rest of the folk growing up in the US I was much more used to the loud mix of the US version rather than the more tidy UK version although the remastered version that came out in 2008 is the most clean sounding of all recordings, I still prefer the Dave Dexter Jr mix of the US version.  But out of all the bands that ever recorded, it seems that everytime I hear A Beatles song it still sounds like it was recorded yesterday.  And I'm sure a 100 years from now The Beatles will still sound fresh and new, even though you and I will be gone to the next big thing.

3.  Birmingham Blues-Charlie Daniels Band 1975  Epic presented this as a country classic but it was more southern rock than country and with a double drummer lineup probably the closest thing to the Allman Brothers that CDB ever got.  Originally on Kama Sultra/Buddah as an edited 3.09 version.  Gawd 45s back in the 70s in their butchered form ruined many a pleasant listening experience for me.  Later reissued on Epic when Charlie Daniels moved over to that label around 1977.

4.  Cab Driver-The Mills Brothers 1967  The left field song of the week and yes I do like their little country hit that actually did get airplay on the AM radio station.  A combination of barbershop like singing to go with that country swing it stands out like a sore thumb even on the Best Of Mills Brothers.  A top five hit for Dot Records, a strange label upon itself which was home to surf bands, Lawrence Welk, Billy Vaughn and Cedar Rapids very own Leo Greco, who does a Sunday Morning show of polka tunes.  Greco did a 1965 album for Dot called Czech Time.  And had a minor polka hit with Baby Doll Polka ( DOT  16790).  How the hell did I get off subject with Leo Greco when we should be talking about the Mills Brothers?  Cab Driver (DOT 45-17041)

5.  Cherry Cherry-Neil Diamond 1966  This is the reason why he made it to the Rock Hall Of Fame, great 2 and half minute songs don't get better than this.  Certainly he went on to Big and Better things with UNI/MCA and then to Columbia where he became larger than life but he became Adult Pop by the late 70s to the point that I quit caring much but always knew that he made his mark during the Bang Years.  Still, he owes Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry for the pleasant harmonies that made his songs even better.  True the 1973 remake on Hot August Night is bombast fun and damn right I like that, but I always will love the original version of this song.  B side to this is the remarkable I'll Come Running and now you can get on The Bang Years, the first time that Neil's 45's have been given proper release.  If you want to understand AM radio, you need a copy of The Bang Years.

6.  Day Tripper-Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 1966  AM radio in the 60s was a haven for different types of music and styles and chances of hearing it is much greater than what FM radio gives you today.  Back when Herb and Jerry were pioneering the alternative side of music in the 60s they signed up this Latin/Jazz type band which covered Beatles number into their own sound.  Of course people bought the albums, I see many of Sergio Mendes A and M stuff wear worn and used in dollar bins at the Salvation Army but the music still is timeless as they come.  Even Herb Alpert married Lani Hall at one time.  Amazingly, Universal did reissue the first album Herb Alpert Presents..... on CD in 2006 via Verve.  Given the paltry 25:47 total time of album they could have added Equinox as a bonus album and it still would barely pass the hour mark.

7.  I Can't Stand It-Eric Clapton & His Band 1981  His last top ten single for RSO/Polydor before moving on to a long career at Duck/WB/Reprise to which he's still at.  On this track EC surrounded himself with the likes of Gary Booker (Procol Harum), long time keyboard player Chris Stanton (Grease Band/Joe Cocker) and Albert Lee (guitar genius) and made a pretty good album with Another Ticket.  Found the vinyl piece for the only record bought when I did Davenport last weekend.

8.  Best Friend-Senseless Things 1991  A band from England that made one album in the US with the hopefully optimistic titled The First Of Too Many which made a beeline to the dollar bins at the old Only Deals store in town.  For alternative rock, I enjoyed it right up to the end of You're My Friend straight to the end, if I'm not dead fadeout.  They were more pop sounding than Ned's Atomic Dustbin (betcha you haven't heard that band in over 2 decades) and shared the same producer Jessica Corcoran.  Since they bombed in the US, Sony Music kept the rest of their albums over the pond and although I haven't heard the second album I did find the third Taking Care Of Business which basically sounded like they were late to the Grunge bus.  Then was never heard from again.

9.  I'm Not The Only One-Atlanta Rhythm Section 1999  It's probably easier to throw up a So Into You or Imaginary Lover into the top ten and give kudos to Ronnie Hammond as the voice of ARS but I tend to enjoy their Eufaula album 12 years after the fact.  By then ARS was regulated to the oldies and classic rock acts and the album sunk without a trace.  It also didn't help that their record label went belly up soon after.  One of most personal songs that Hammond wrote on the album and yes he's not the only one trying to survive to make it back to the top of the charts.  Take a look at Gray Beard Fred Durst whose probably in the same boat.

10.  Third Week In The Chelsea-Jefferson Airplane 1971  The best song off Bark and Jorma's farethewell to the Airplane as he and Jack Casady would move on to Hot Tuna.  This song would also be a focal point on the way Jorma Korkonen would go on his 1974 Quah album which is basically acoustic blues and gospel numbers as well as songs that fit in the mode of Third Week.  And speaking of Hot Tuna, they do their first new album in just about 20 years coming out.  It should be worth a listen to.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Davenport Bargain Hunt

Sounded like a good idea at the time.

Was a nice day getting there but unfortunately fighting a bad back and of course Montezuma's Revenge most of the day,  I really didn't enjoy it much.  Both Salvation Army stores had nothing to offer and the only Goodwill thing I found was Eric Clapton's Another Ticket.  Mister Money had a 50 cent cd of Mills Brothers Greatest Hits.  Imagine my surprise of finding Journey Departure for five bucks at FYE instead of Wal Mart.  Basically I didn't see the need of the new REM CD for 17 bucks or 15 bucks at Best Buy so I passed.  One can only take so many crappy digipaks taking up space.

Took some time off going on the river walk and seen more trains on that part of the tracks more than I did on the UP line off highway 30.  However the second train was about a mile long and then stopped on the tracks so couldn't get out of the park till about 7. Which meant I didn't feel like going across the pond back to Co Op Records to find more vinyl pieces.  Basically, a trip to Big Lots then to Cracker Barrel then to Borders to pick up a couple of cheap cds and another quick dump.  Good to see the Borders being spared from being closed down in Davenport, they do have a bigger bargain selection than Dubuque.

I thought about going to Madison but decided that they had too much snow on the ground down there and lot more protesters for me to handle so I stayed close to home.  Perhaps I'll go there next month.

Daylight savings time begins tomorrow.  Lose an hour of sleep (no big deal) but we gained an hour of sunlight.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top Ten Of The Week-New Same Old

For a audiophile like myself I have become to be resigned to the fact that we're not going to get any big special reissues anymore.  There comes a time in life that you reach a certain point and that saturation of the the same old becomes obvious that you pretty much have it all from the music and stars of yesterday.  There might be some scrapings from the bottom of the barrel that will make you fork over $$$ to get that one unreleased demo but for the most part, it's all rehash.  Case in point: The Jimi Hendrix re re issues that Sony Music has been touting.  South Station Delta next month?  Hell, I got that on MCA Vinyl from my best friend.  I can't get excited over that.  If the Hendrix estate wanted to really wow us how bout reissuing the missing Reprise albums that got replaced by these Experience Hendrix Reissues?   They may have been flawed; they may have been a money grab back then but at least they were not re reissued like everything I've seen from their partnership with Sony Music.  Except for Valleys Of Neptune and West Coast Seattle Boy.

If you have noticed about Universal's ICON series which is actually replacing the 20th Century Masters Collection as bare bones best of which means that you get practically the same overplayed hits with a replacement of one lesser known numbers therefore it doesn't do me any good getting the Buddy Holly Icon, nor Rush Icon nor Lynyrd Skynyrd Icon but sometimes they will add a new band to all this.  Case in point we finally get a true reissue of War's Greatest Hits as War Icon including Spill The Wine or Bloodhound Gang's Show Us Your Hits or Puddle Of Mudd Icon (quit laughing).  Next up is Local H Icon to which should be interesting since they only recorded four albums proper for Island.   Used to be greatest hits packages gave you a very good song sample of major hits and cool cuts (Best Of The Doobies come to mind, even Lynyrd Skynyrd Gold & Platinum) but most of the greatest hits packages are overdone and I'm sure The Doors have more best ofs than actual albums when Jim Morrison was alive.

The music news of today is lame.  Usually it's the same old same old, Steven Alder ex GnR drummer and full time drug addict back in rehab for the 27th time calling attention upon himself once again.  The poor victim of drugs and booze, never mind he got thrown out of GnR for not keeping a beat.  Really we don't care, we don't care about Adler's Appatite or his GnR tribute band, perhaps the dude will OD' from too many drugs or get cirrhosis from too many Four Loko and Jack Daniels or ink poisoning from too many tattoos.  May have looked sexy back in 1988 but 20 plus years later it makes you look much older than you are.  Either sober up or fuck off Adler we have too many other things on the plate to worry about.

You may not care about this either but it sounds like The Darkness might be regrouping again.  You remember them don't ya?  They were a fun over the top band from the UK with loud guitars and Justin Hawkins falsetto that reminded one of Queen, or Spinal Tap, either way they made two Atlantic albums you can find in the dollar bins and they are still pretty good.  I always thought that their PG version of Permission To Land was great fun, more fun than the PA version.  But then again they ended up being on Atlantic Records which didn't know how to promote them.  Atlantic 2003 is a far cry from the Atlantic of the classic rock years and after two albums they imploded.  But they might be back for world domination, or at your local county fair this summer.

New forthcoming releases from the likes of a reformed Face To Face (Century Media on May 17) and the 3rd from Black Stone Cherry to which they switch from Bob Marlette to Howard Benson.  That comes out on the 31st of May.

And Johnny Preston passed away at age 71.  He had a big hit with JP Richardson's Running Bear for Mercury in the late 50s.  In fact Richardson (aka Big Bopper) arranged it and did the woops and hollers in the background.  Late note:  JP Richardson finally became the third and final member of the infamous plane crash in Clear Lake to make it to the Iowa RnR HoF last year.

This week's Top Ten of noteworthy.

1.  California (Hustle & Flow) Social Distortion 2011  Mike Ness and Social D you know your going to get three chord hard edge rock and roll with a punk edge.  And though I have a love/hate affair with some of his albums the new one Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes is a keeper and if you buy the vinyl you get two bonus tracks and a CD of the album.  This track he finally gets to sound like the Rolling Stones (or Black Crowes if you add the soul chick singers) and actually does it better than The Stones (latter day kiddies).  If there was still a thing called AOR radio this would be getting plenty plays.

2.  MacDougal  Blues-Kevn Kinney 1990  Suggested by Brooksie over the weekend and it got me to thinking about playing this album on her suggestion.  Kinney, the longtime dude behind Drivin' n Cryin actually recorded this as a solo artist although the DnC boys did provide minimal backup support on this Island album. Somewhat a folk rock album 30 years removed from the folk scene to which I'm sure Kevn was a toddler and too young to get there.  Produced by Peter Buck of REM fame, the album didn't sell very well but those who heard it recommended it.  Found it on vinyl for a dollar than of course found the CD soon afterward.  Kinney would try to repeat the performance on his 1994 Mammoth Down Out Law CD but with little success.

3.  Soon-My Bloody Valentine 1990  If you think time hasn't passed you by figure this, Loveless came out 20 years ago and even though folk say it's a noisy classic, I think it's a noisy mess most of the time.  Nevertheless MBV should be inducted into the RnR Hall of fame just for the inclusion of this song, which might be the best song that ever came out of the 90s.  After Loveless, the followup is still being worked on.  So they say.

4.  Beatles & Stones-Beady Eye 2011  You have to admit Liam Gallagher knows his Beatles and how to sound like them.  Although I'm sure it's wishful thinking to think this will have lasting power as The Beatles and Stones but I do like this song and the album fine myself.  Question remains when Oasis will get back together again.  And there's always a next time when both parties are still alive.

5.  Foolish Questions-Johnny Cash 1966  From the 2011 Bootleg 2 Memphis To Hollywood CD.  The first cd is historical for his 1955 radio broadcast of his show and the demos of his Sun hits okay but to me the second side is better of him having a full band and the Man In Black always had a sense of humor such as this 1966 outtake which predates Bill Engvall Here's You Sign, or Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.

6.  She Don't Love Nobody-Chris Hillman & Desert Rose Band 1988  What ever success that eluded him during The Flying Burrito Brothers, country music made up for it in the late 80's when Hillman and Herb Petersen formed Desert Rose Band and recorded a few top ten hits for Curb Records.  This was a number three hit for them, written by John Hiatt who wrote many great songs back then.  Secret weapon was John Jorgensen on guitar who could play with the best of them.  Nick Lowe also does a killer version of said song.

7.  I Got Five Dollars And It's Saturday Night-George Jones & Gene Pitney 1965  One of the strangest pairings in country music this did hit number 15 on the CW charts.  Back then Pappy Dailey would pair George up with just about everybody for duets.  In fact I found a Musicor compliation of duets to which it was Gene Pitney and George teaming up with Melba Montgomery on some duets.  However this was taken off a cut out cd for Time Life called 40 Years Of Duets with George Jones and for the most part most of the fun stuff was in the 50s and 60s when George was dueting with Gene or Melba Montgomery or others.  However the best duets were with Tammy Wynette to which four songs were picked from.  Jones didn't do much rock and roll and this was as close as he would come, till a wild 1980 duet with Johnny Paycheck on Maybellene.

8.  Woman-Free 1969  More to than just All Right Now, Three Dog Night actually covered two songs of Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraser for their albums, I'll Be Creepin was on Naturally and this song was off Golden Bisquits and It Ain't Easy.  Why do i know this?  I'm a big Three Dog Night fan and they did choice covers from the Island Records roster.  Spooky Tooth comes to mind as well.  However this song is a little more slowed down and more funky than 3 Dog Night.  Basically I found Free to make very spotty albums (Heartbreaker remains my Go To when I want to hear Free) and half the time they're farting around but when they get their act together such as on Woman they do earn their Rock n Roll Stripes.

9.  Young Man's Blues-Elton John 1973  B side to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road one of the fun things about EJ in the 70s is that on his singles he would add a B side not available on the album and this actually came from the 8 track only Lady Samantha album that DJM put out around the mid 70s to which I used to have a copy but it died.  Since the invention of the CD that album actually got reissued in the early 90s to which I got as a import and paid about 20 buck for it new.  Later Island Records remastered the classic Elton John albums they did put bonus track that were B sides to the 45s that time.  Fun fact:  Norman "Hurricane" Smith, the legendary producer who had a hit with Oh Babe What Would You Say plays sax on Young Man's Blues.  Not the real title, MCA fearing backlash retitled it Young Man's Blues.  Actual song title: Screw You.  A fun song to request on the juke box when there was a juke box at the old eatery I used to hang out in Marion in the mid 70s.

10.  The Journey-Mott The Hoople 1972  Finally, our last offering of the week comes from the Brain Capers album, the final album that Ian Hunter and company recorded for Island in the early 70s (released on Atlantic in the US on a license deal).  If you get the reissue of the Angel Air Brain Capers you'll get to read that when they did Brain Capers, Guy Stevens got the guys all drunk and recorded the album on an 8 hour blur to which Dale Griffin aka Buffin actually passed out on the drums on one track, which wasn't this.  However in the archives they swear there's a much better version that never got released proper and it might have been lost forever, who knows?  It starts out mellow and then breaks up into a rockin bridge before returning to the mellow part of the song.  In fact it could have been the best Mott song ever, if Guy Stevens would have done more than one take of this song.  So in the end, around the 8 minute mark they return to the rocking bridge of the stop and start of Mick Ralph's guitar and the Verden Allen's keyboard cranked all the way to ten.  Part 2 of The Journey is retitled The Wheel Of The Quivering Meat Conception to which The Journey ends up being a trainwreck and the band smashing up guitars and amps or sounding like that before everybody passes out in a drunken stupor.  Thus ending their Island/Atlantic years.  However a few months later, David Bowie would come to their rescue, give them a song entitled All The Young Dudes and finally making that classic album that would finally give them some recognition.  But you know, I think I enjoy their sloppy drunk Brain Capers and the rest of their Island/Atlantic output just as much if not better.  And so did a few other fans. Atlantic did have their first album in print most of the time and did reissue all four of the Island albums on CD in the 90s.  Still remains in print as imports and worth seeking out.