Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Top Ten Of The Week-Decline And Fall Or The New Tri State Tornado

Coming to the end of the month and asking the question of what happened to spring?

It's been a cool and mostly gray month. And we been getting mostly drizzle and light rain. Supposed that's a good thing considering the fact that St Louis and points to the south have been blasted with heavy rains, tornadoes and floods. I can identify with that judging from past years and seeing moats outside the door here. I am not a fan of springtime storms. Friday with a big EF4 tornado ripping apart Lambert Airport in St Louis and other spots along the way reminds us of a smaller but more destructive tornado in Iowa City and one alongside 151 about five years ago.

So far the ratings here assures me that this month will be one of our biggest and best months of readership. Most of them coming from Drew's Odd and Sods page (Thanks Drew) and Tad's Back Up Plan (Thanks Tad). We have passed March and with a little more luck should overtake January with four days to go. But everything has a cost it seems, I been having carpel tunnel issues again and my left wrist has been giving me pain of the past couple weeks. I may figure to take next month off and try to rest it, or otherwise I may have to go that fixed. The ratings for the Consortium have been in the single digits but I really don't go there to post and really don't see the need to tout that. However, rest assured that next month The Crabb Music Site will have something for your Crabby fix of music observations and top tens. As for any bargain hunts coming next month, 4 dollar a gallon gas pretty much sums it up that decision. Plus I have things to do around the yard and won't be doing much traveling anyway.

Now for the latest in Music trends, here's the top ten of the week.

1. Black Book-Rank & File 1987 They pioneered Cow punk or were the forepunks of Americana Alt Country but by the 1987 they moved from Slash/WB to Rhino to make what I thought was enjoyable rock and punk but the purists out there hated it. I remember KUPD playing this song and when they said it was the new Rank N File I camped outside Zia's and picked up a promo copy of it a few days later. When it came out on CD I bought it again at Best Buy, I think I even had it on tape. Even with the hair metal guitar leads I still called it the best album of 87 although 24 years after the fact it has sounded a bit dated due to the hair metal guitar leads. Being on the cool retro Rhino label was a double edged sword, they put it out but never did promote it much and the Kinman Brothers retired the Rank N File name but returned as Blackbird (made an album and EP for Scotti Brothers in the 90s) before finally settling for Cowboy Nation and making western styled music. Collector's Choice Music reissued this album but botched up the recording. The Rhino CD still holds up much better than whatever passed for the CCM sound.

2. Waitin On The Sky-Steve Earle 2011 I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I haven't gotten the new Steve Earle album yet (but will once I make my way into town) but I heard this new single and must say that I'm impressed with what I heard. Perhaps the meeting up with John Henry Burnett may have convinced the old man to return to what he did best, stunning good music and leaving the rap and drum machines (and John King) behind. Didn't like his last two albums very much although the Townes tribute album was touching but would have been done better had he done it in Nashville with The Dukes rather than drum machines in New York. Heard one bad review of this already but since I'm a big fan of Steve Earle, rest assured I'll take a listen to it.

3. Maggie's Farm-Bob Dylan 1965 This was the infamous version done at Newport Folk Festival and to which Pete Seeger was ready to take a axe to the power supply. Funny how 45 years after the fact that this don't sound like a big deal but back then it started the folk masses and although we do hear the cheers at the beginning we don't hear the boos since it fades out quickly after the song is done. This version can be found on the No Direction Home S/T that Sony Music put out in 2005. Which reminds me, Norio Ohga, the guy who pioneered the CD passed away at age 81. He didn't like the sounds of cassette tapes and sought for a more viable product and got it when the CD was finally introduced to the buying public in 82. And the CD was the preferred way of listening to music till the internet and downloading came along. To which Crabby salutes Ohga with his vision and the CD. Every time I take a look at my stacks of CDs piled up to the sky, I'll think of him.

4. Badass Mama-Cycle Sluts From Hell 1991 Got your metal on people? This came out at the tail end of the hair metal outbreak to which Nirvana ended on Smells Like Teen Spirit and started the grunge years much to Kurt's chagrin but this is not about him. This was about four chick ladies, with alias name Venus Penis Crusher, Queen Vixen, She Fire Of Ice and Lady 1%. You get the picture. In some ways they sounded like Joan Jett leading L7 at other times a female version of Spinal Tap. When I listening to this the other day, it sounded to me that although it was called Badass Mama it sounded more like Fat Ass Mama so had to rechecked the label. I donno, still sounds like Fat Ass Mama to me. Nothing wrong with that.

5. Government Cheese-The Rainmakers 1986 Their first album got plenty of great reviews and a minor hit with Let My People Go Go but this ode to no government cheese remains a Crabb favorite. To where I stole this weeks title from, Decline And Fall. I think they have a new album out.

6. Little Man-Alan Jackson 1998 The decline and fall of the small town mom and pop store as seen from the eyes of Mr. Jackson who is one of the best singer songwriters to ever come from Nashville in the 1990s but I really never paid much attention to his music. Too much steel guitar and fiddles mind you, take them away and he could pass as Americana. Actually he is Americana if you think about it. After 20 years with Arista he parted ways from that label but in the end he will go down as one of the few true country music artists from an era that gave us Garth Brooks. This comes from 16 Greatest Hits, a CD that was found in the two dollar bin at Half Priced Books. If I was looking for a studio album I could hang my hat on (bad country joke, "hang my hat on") I'd go with High Mileage although Under The Influence shows Jackson can do the drinking at the bar songs better than say Jason Aldean or Josh Thompson. Yep, they're real country too, next.

7. Good-Better Than Ezra 1995 Out of all their albums, I still play Deluxe 16 years after the fact and it still holds up. The rest of their albums, nope. I think I enjoyed them for the fact that they sounded a bit like the Gin Blossoms but with less focus and a lot more looseness. I remember seeing this in the used selection at BJ's and not hearing a note bought the album and played it twice after getting home. I'm sure I'm the only out there that gave it a B plus and then upgraded it to a A minus. But then again what do I know?

8. Hikky Burr (Part One)-Bill Cosby with Quincy Jones 1969 Or if you remember it, the original theme to the Bill Cosby Show of the late 60s to which the Coz raps along to music provided by Quincy Jones. Cosby remains one of my most favorite comedians out there but he's also a very capable jazz composer and also scored a minor hit with Little Ole Man (Uptight Everything's Alright). Used to watch the Bill Cosby Show and never could understood the nonsense lyrics, sounded he was saying Hit The Bird, Hit The Bird. Always pays to research and read the actual lyrics or song title (aka Fat ass mama from the Cycle Sisters Of Heaven).

9. True Religion-Hot Tuna 1971 Burgers will go down as the go to album if you want to hear electric Hot Tuna although fans will go for either their first album or Pull Up Then Push Down, although the sound quality of the latter wasn't all that great. Thought it was CD (the dumbfucks at CD's Plus buffed the scratches out and gave it such a shitty shine that I thought it would never play) till I heard the selections lifted off for the Keep On Trucking Best Of Sony Music put out in 2007. Hot Tuna has a new album out, what I heard so far I like enough to buy it, now only if I can find it............

10. Your Favorite Thing-Sugar 1994 To top this all off, we take a track off their ignored and thrown into cutouts everywhere CD File Under Easy Listening and this was the genuine followup to the Husker Du farewell Warehouse but with different members. I wasn't too impressed with Copper Blue and so I ignored this album till I found it in the 50 cent bins and figure its worth a listen. And it would be the last time Bob Mould would ever get close to the Husker Du sound with Sugar. And then they broke up.

And finally Jim Rogers was a co worker that I worked with for just about 20 years in the computer and printing area down in NCS in Iowa City and moved up to Cedar Rapids in 1998 and spend first shift being in the tape/CD making room. I regret to say that Jim passed away from kidney failure after being in poor health the past couple years. He didn't look very well the last time I saw him in February. At one time he did own a bar down in Coralville and sometimes after work we would hang there for a few. I suspect that I will be going to his funeral this week. Sad to see him go but I'm sure the folks at Pearson will remember him with a blue push car, his employee number and the dates worked. Jim was a good person and he will be missed. He was 63 years old.

Post Script: The Tornadoes of the past week took out Malaco Records in Jackson Mississippi last week but today I witness from the internet the share power and terror of the Tuscaloosa/Birmingham Tornado which was a monster and stayed on the ground for a ungodly five hours before disappearing somewhere around North Carolina. Today may have been the most significant outbreak in US history. Last week tornadoes tore through the St Louis Airport and Missouri got hit with so much rain that the levees breached around Poplar Bluff. The tornado situation was the worst since the outbreak in 1974 but perhaps a better example of this Alabama monster, we have to go back to the Tri-State Tornado of 1925. To which that one tore through Missouri and through the whole Illinois state and part of Indiana before disappearing.

For our final offering, I enclosed a link of raw footage of the Tuscaloosa Tornado that hit at 5:14 PM. I've seen some of big storms up here in Iowa, The 1968 May 15 outbreak at Charles City/Oelwein, The 2006 April 13 Tornado at Iowa City and a small one just not too far from here and the 2008 Parkersburg/New Hartford monster that tore a path about 100 miles wide in the state. Even the St Louis Lambert Airport EF4 of last Friday. But when I take a look at this ominous dark twister with so many mini funnels coming every which way like snakes in Medusa's hair I feel bad for the folks who had to endure this storm which stayed on the ground and wiped out small towns and ran into Birmingham a half hour later and then into Georgia. This storm is for the ages folks. I pray that neither me nor you ever have to come face to face with such a force of nature.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Music Of My Years-The 90's Take Three-The Lesser Known

Perhaps these are good arguments that the 90s may have been the last great decade of music.  But as I was listening to some of them this week, it still amazes me how the lesser knowns had good music.  This final segment of the 90s ties what was in my player at that time.  I doubt if we'll ever had a decade that was this diverse and interesting.  I'm sure I left a few more off but that's okay.  It's all out there to discover on your own or on you tube or whatever passes your fancy at in the digital download section.  I don't expect y'all to go all out like I did, after all, I did work in a music store.

More albums of note that got airplay at the Crabb house or in the car.

Semisonic; The Great Divide, Feeling Strangely Fine
Treat Her Right: What's Good For You
Tommy Keene: Ten Years After, Isolation Party
Blue Rodeo: Lost Together, Five Days In July, Casino, Tremolo
Blameless: The Signs Are All There
54-40: Show Me, Fight For Love, Dear Dear, Since When
The Uninvited
Body Count: S/T, Born Dead, Violent Demise: The Last Days
Todd Snider: Songs From The Daily Planet, Step Right Up, Viva Satellite
Cracker: S/T, Kerosene Hat
The Cruel Sea: The Honeymoon Is Over
Roger Daltry: Rocks In The Head
REM: Out Of Time, Automatic For The People, Monster, New Adventures In Hi Fi
Kevn Kinney: Macdougall Blues, Down Out Law
Peter Himmelman-From Strength To Strength, Flown This Acid World, Skin
For Squirrels: Example
Mighty Joe Plum: The Mightiest Dogs
Everything: Supernatural
The Beautiful South: Carry Up The Charts
Klover: Feel Lucky Punk
Brother Phelps: Let Go, Anyway The Wind Blows
Steve Earle: Train A Comin, I Feel Alright, El Corazon, Essential Steve Earle
Hindu Love Gods
Traveling Wilbury's Volume 3
Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream, Adore
Ian Moore
House Of Large Sizes-My Ass Kicking Life
Ramones-Acid Eaters, Adios Amigos
Ozark Mountain Daredevils-13
Richard Thompson: Rumour & Sigh, Mirror Blue, Mock Tudor
Wire-The First Letter, The A List
Soul Asylum-Grave Dancer's Union
Eagle Eye Cherry-Direless
Sister Hazel: S/T, Someplace More Familiar
Decedents: Everything Sucks
Widespread Panic: Everyday, Space Wrangler, Ain't Life Grand
Omar & The Howlers: Southern Style, Muddy Springs Road

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Crabb Bits: St Louis Tornado, Easter, Hair Metal, Bootlegs, Passings

The miracle that is the internet gave me a chance to read the play by play of Friday night's tornado in St Louis which damaged Lambert Airport and towns and cities around the Interstate 270 corridor.  About 7:25 PM one of the storm chasers showed a live cam of some of the blackest and darkest clouds that I have seen and remarked at that time, somebodys is going to get a bad tornado out of this.  Usually when I stay in St Louis I hang around that area which is close by the Chain Of Rocks Bridge, one of the last reminders of what used to be Route 66 and it remains a special place in my heart.  The tornado hopped over the river and took out some homes in the Granite City area too.  Granite City I tend to visit when in that area too, their Goodwill and Salvation Army stores have some great vinyl albums that I did pick up from time to time although I'm sure when I was down there they benefited from a record store closing and some of the discarded items were there to which I bought.  Two days later the airport has reopened but with limited activity and chances are they will be doing repairs to that airport for at least three months. 

Hoppy Easter everybody.  With that out of the way, I will not be doing any bargain hunts today due to Easter but tomorrow is another day.  The folks at Half Priced Books, I like to know who prices the forty fives up there.  The dufus has some 45s for 5 freaking dollars! Which is more than I paid for the Beach Boys Love You LP.  I'm sure it's a slight look over or maybe the fat dude up there thinks he can make a killing on moldy and dusty DJ copies of crap that nobody bought for a quarter when Rock n Bach was in business.  98 cents is not that bad but anything over a dollar isn't worth it and I simply don't buy 5 dollar forty fives unless it's by Buddy Holly or Elvis.  I can't get on the guy too much, he does throw the lesser selling cds in the clearance bins after a while and I'm sure once the 45's take up space they'll be marked down.  Till then I settled on Paul Stookey's Wedding Song for 48 cents and in very good shape.    I also tend to think Jim Kibler lives at HP books more than I do since I've seen him once again scoping out cd's in the buck bins. 

Despite what people think, vinyl records still sell very well at HP Books.  I thought about picking up the Cinderella Night Songs on vinyl when I saw it on Thursday but when I went back to pick it up it was gone.  They had Def Leppard's 1980 On Through The Night LP (via RCA record club) and Tangerine Dream Exit (no they're not hair metal but they had it on vinyl), both picked up two days later.  Never been a big Def Lep fan, when I want to hear them OTTN would be my go to album, till I traded it in when I lived in Arizona and had it on CD too, but bought it during Record Store Day up in Dubuque.  Robert John Lange showed them the way to have hits and they got popular and exploded on the scene with 83' Pyromania but I prefer the Tom Allom metalized production more so.  Joe Elliot seem to be a bit timid on the vocal back then but the guitar sounds was excellent.  Wish I could say the same for Kick Axe Vices (Pasha 1984), with drums sounding like Quiet Riot and a vocalist that was HM OTT (heavy metal over the top) that he makes the album just about unlistenable.  Rough Cutt Wants You (WB 1986) is a bit more metal pop friendly and most of side two worked for me till the awful ballad The Night Cries Out (for you) ends the record on a sour note.  For silly metal fun, Cycle Sluts From Hell (Epic 1991) reminds me had Spinal Tap been led by women this would be the result.  They had a minor metal hit with I Wish You Were A Beer.  At that time they were touring the states with Motorhead and although the record sold fairly well, there was never a follow up album.  To me CCFH sounded a lot like L7's Bricks Are Heavy but how L7 was alt music and not metal and CCFH vice versa is up for debate for the future. 

Judging from the ratings I noticed that we are becoming a hit in Iran, since I had 4 readers popping in on the stats page. Hard to believe that. I'm sure the Ayatollah Ali Kemenini would be forbidding the people from reading Imperialist propaganda from Infidels in Death To America but can't imagine him popping in and leaving a comment saying more Crabb please.  Still I'm flattered to see the Iranians stopping in from time to time.  This is not about world domination but record collecting and music seeking here.  Wouldn't mind coming out to visit y'all but I don't think you have record stores out there that keep me occupied. As of Monday, I seen 19 folk from Iran came to visit this site. Keep spreading the word and all good vibes to my Iranian dudes.

Finally, Drew made a blog about bootleg albums and tapes from over the years and basically I haven't made much of an effort to listen to bootlegs although I do have some in my procession.  The Black Crowes New York 1990 comes from New York show and is fairly brief at 39 minutes. Most of the songs are from Shake Your Money Maker to which was released not too long after this show. One of the earliest bootlegs I do have is The Who Lifehouse Live (at the young vic London 1971 April)  and the recording is very rough sounding.  I guess Universal had a different mix and song set up for Who's Next Deluxe Edition but Lifehouse Life predates Who's Next by about four months.  A more interesting find was the MC5 Phun City UK Festival 1970 (Sonic Records 1996) but it was recorded on a mono cassette. For historical purposes only. A better sounding one Thunder Express (Skydog France) which was their 1972 live in the studio that has been bootlegged a few times, I found this at the old Sam Goody up in Dubuque in 1996.

In the 1990s modern technology improved to the point that people could record a concert or good sound recordings from the soundboard and in my time of working at the record store many great shows from Nirvana or Metallica or The Grateful Dead was on out cd.  And they sold for 25 bucks a cd, very pricey but lots of people bought them up and the Nirvana sides tend to bring big bucks via EBAY.  There were two very good cd companies that put out Bootlegs, Oxygen and KTS were two of them and the Gin Blossoms In Bloom (KTS 259-1994) has two edited shows from Solana Beach and The Metro in Chicago in 1993 and some of the songs would find themselves on the New Miserable Experience Expended Edition and the DVD that Universal put out.  Swimming With Your Boots On (Oxygen 1996) is Del Amitri's 1996 tour of Germany and Atlanta split up and the sound is outstanding.  It's one of those cds that Jerry at work got me to buy for 15 bucks and it makes a nice addition to the Del Amitri collection if you can find it.  Finally The Goo Goo Dolls Gaa Gaa is a radio recording from Milwaukee in 1995 and notable for the band stopping in the middle of Cause Your Gone to tell two dudes to stop fighting.  Still known as punk rockers as they were riding the wave of their latest cd at that time Boy Named Goo, but you can sense the change of direction as they were promoting their new hit Name.  Not much known about this CD company putting this out but the orgins lead to Taiwan.  Last, not least Flashback gave us Roxy Music Bittersweet which gives us unreleased BBC performances of their first album and three songs from Boston.  I guess in terms of bootlegs I tend to pick and choose a little more carefully than regular recordings.  But I seem to be more attractive to the MC5 recordings than anything else.

For the lesser known Alive did have a Mitch Ryder/Detroit show from 1972 with pretty good liner notes but the sound is poor. A better sound was MC5 66 Breakdown which has some early live recordings. As they say buyer beware.

And its been a bad week for more musicians passings. Poly Styrene, the vocalist on X Ray Spex Oh Bondage Up Yours died from spine and breast cancer at 53. Tom King, the main leader of The Outsiders passed away at 68 and the remarkable Phoebe Snow has gone away at age 60.

But still alive and doing fine is Duane Eddy who turned 73 on Tuesday (the 26th).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On The Subject Of: Ray Stevens

On the subject of:

Ray Stevens:  We share the same birthday.  He's perhaps the most versatile artist who can do just about anything and everything that comes to mind.  Who else can cover the Coasters and do a bluegrass version of Misty or You Are So Beautiful at the turn of the record?  Fact is, I do prefer  his version of You Are So Beautiful over  than the Joe Cocker version, at least you can dance to Ray's version.  I made a observation that I didn't pay much attention to Ray's output after 1978 and tried to put a humorous spin on it and blamed him for growing his beard back (and keeping it on).  Perhaps I shouldn't try dry humor, did that one time before and it didn't work either.

I checked out a comment from the person at hand, and he has probably the best reference site on Ray's recordings at hand.  Ray Stevens Music Journey it's called.  Certainly I may have missed out some of Ray's hits from 78 onward but I do recall some of the better known Shriner Convention for RCA, MCA gave us The Mississippi Squirrel Revival later on and of course Would Jesus Wear A Rolex.  For the most part Stevens' wrote the majority of his comedy hits and most are still worth listening to and get a good laugh out of.   They translate better over on the TV screen or when he plays live.   Since Ray Stevens recorded for many labels, getting the most definite package remains elusive, somehow the licensing fees are always a problem and the Curb Box Set package and the Varese Vintage best of, had re recordings of some of his earlier hits for Mercury.  Hip O 20th Century Masters cherry picks the latter day best and classics and the logical guess is that the early hits are from Mercury since Universal owns Hip O, MCA and Mercury.  The Varase All Time Greatest Hits focuses on the Monument/Barnaby sides and probably does the better job of Ray Stevens' funny and serious side.  Another good overview would be the Rhino Best Of Ray Stevens which ends at Shriner's Convention.  And the Mercury Best Of Ray Stevens (1967 reissued on CD in 1993) has the early hits in their original setting.  The frustrating factor for me is the lack of You Are So Beautiful on any of the mentioned above best ofs.  Perhaps Warner Brothers should have kept Ray's albums in tact rather than bunching them up in 3 different compilations.   The argument may have been that Ray's WB period may have been his slightest but the songs from Just For The Record and Feel The Music sounded more at home than they did on Cornball (WB 1996) .  As far as I know, I Need Your Help Barry Manilow was the last new song I heard on the AM radio in 1979 to which anything afterward made the country charts.

For myself I have been a causal fan, I remember his TV show from the mid 70s but except for his 1976 WB albums and of course, the early Monument 45s that radio played, didn't follow much of Ray's output.  In the case of myself it was too much music and so little time but I have seen his MCA and RCA CDs in the budget bins from time to time.  The follow up single to You Are So Beautiful was Honky Tonk Waltz (WB 8237) which got some country airplay but the B side was the odd and strangely beautiful Om to which I think Warners released as a stand alone single but didn't chart.

In the end, Ray Stevens may have been the greatest novelty and comedy singer out there but The Rhino and Varese sets suggest he was much more than that.  Even with Jeremiah Peabody's.....Pills Stevens made a very good rhythm and blues song and trying to sing the title track gives him big points too.  I'm sure for future reference I'll try to find the Mercury best of, then the Rhino best of for starters.  His RCA/MCA cds tend to be found from time to time (I have heard good reviews of his 1983 return to Mercury About Me LP and the MCA He Thinks He's Ray Stevens).  But I do admit that I haven't paid much attention to Ray till I came across the Jeremiah Peabody's Pills single last month and perhaps research more via You Tube and what is found at the used record stores.   I've never heard a bad Ray Stevens album or video, his musicianship and word play is far too good for redundant.  And he does have a way to get you to sing along to the song be it OM or Everything Is Beautiful.  Even in his 70s he still knows a hook or two. And his latest ditty The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore is dead on and true.

The country version of Spike Jones?  Maybe so.  However as the 2000's progressed onward, Stevens has become a bit more Conservative since leaving Curb Records for his own label Clyde. Being the flaming Conservative Liberal Crab that I am, I tend to tire of the right wing rhetoric of Grandpa Voted Democrat or Obama bashing Obama Nation but at least Stevens doesn't overdo it unlike Ted Nugent.  But also being 70 years old Ray Stevens also has covered Frank Sinatra (2008's Say What??), done a Christmas album, and a gospel album to boot on the Gaither Label last year.  With a new album coming out via Player/Sony RED this year, Stevens returns more to what he does best, novelty country with Taylor Swift Is Stalking Me being the lead off video single.  But also songs that perhaps suggests that he tends to watch too much FOX news.  Throw that criticism aside and Stevens is just about 6 decades into a music career that continues to evolve what he does best; half country, half novelty, half comedy, half seriousness.   For myself I tend to enjoy his Mercury years a lot, the Monument years a little bit, and the rest off and on, You Are So Beautiful and Just For The Record the preferred album of choice.  Yours favorites will vary.   

A big fan gives tribute to Ray Stevens here:

His Ray Stevens Music Journey is one of the best if not the best tribute site to Ray Stevens on the net. He has kept this up to date as possible.  If you have a question about Ray's discography or his videos or TV shows, contact this guy.  He would know more about Ray than me. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Top Ten Of The Week-Everyday Could Be National Record Store Day

....if we had one in town.

With record stores going as fast as drive ins into the past of our used to be, I was once again pretty much at home in the surroundings of either CD's 4 Change or Moondog Music last Saturday.  And the next big plan is the next Record Store Day next year but with four dollar a gallon gas right around the corner and the situations of the world getting worse and worse we may have to find a different way of means to get there.  Certainly I would love to move to Dubuque to be close to the hangouts, I'd love to open up my own store in town but then again I would have to contend with the rules coming from the major labels bout getting Record Store Day Exclusives.  I didn't wake up early enough to get the Foo Fighters Medium Rare LP and I guess Moondog Music never did get anymore into the stores so basically I'll just write it off, till Sony Music does reissue it on CD and you know they will....just like they did with Bob Dylan Live at Brandeis University 1963.  Wait a while folks, if the majors can get a buck out of it, they'll issue it.

The frustration that is My Space is really gotten to the point that I may as well just delete my site over there since the jackoffs have taken away the blog search and it puts you back into start, which is why I haven't been able to put much from the archives over there.  I have not posted over there don't intend to and basically thinking the hell with it, and cancel and lose three years of blogs and observations.  Basically Rupert Murdoch didn't do anybody any favors when he acquired My Space, only person that made off like a bandit was Tom Anderson.  I was going to save a few more blogs from Brooksie but she canceled her account so unless I can find that April 2004 report about the DC trip, that will remain in the archives of deletion in cyberland.  Such a shame cuz I have forgotten most of what we did and the places we seen.

In the last 8 years of Blogging Top Ten, 2003-2007 were deleted when MSN decided to end the Groups, which leaves the majority over at My Space.  There's a year a half worth of top tens at Multiply and the rest are over here.  Which leaves a new one for the week.

1.  Nobody Knows-The Feelies 2011  They're back after a 20 year hiatus and sounding like they never missed a beat.  Will they do it again 20 years from now?  Hard to say, but if I'm still around I'll take a listen.

2.  Jeremiah Peabody's Pills-Ray Stevens 1962  He's been around for over 50 years and Ray Stevens remains one of those artists that straddles the funny with the serious.  I share the same birthday as he does but for music, what I do have is on 45s.  And he's been pretty much label hopping from here to there and I'm sure all four labels does have some kind of Ray Stevens music in their archives too.  He had a way to cover the classics, bluegrass remake of You Are So Beautiful, country version of Misty and then the classic silly stuff with canned laughter and applause to boot  (The Streak, Guitarzan, Along Came Jones Ahab The Arab).  I didn't pay much attention  most of anything after I Need Your Help Barry Manilow and his stops at RCA, MCA, Capitol and Curb. Maybe it was the beard that through me off I dunno (bad attempt of a joke) , but I did remember watching his TV show in the mid 70s and still have fond memories of that and some of his serious stuff (Mr. Business Man, America Communicate With Me, Funny Man).  Perhaps the best Ray Stevens was the Rhino CD of his Mercury/Monument/Barnaby years. I would liked to see Warner Brothers just straight reissued Just For The Record instead of chopping it up in the 3 comps that they issued in the mid 90s.  For me the one Ray Stevens to get would be the Mercury best of Ray Stevens (or 1,837 Seconds of Ray Stevens).  In any case I did the 45 of this up in Mad City Music X which has Mr. Stevens in a R and B, Doo Wop vain, sounds like a cross between Alley Oop and Western Movies.  But you may know this song as the longest titled 45 in record history: Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green And Purple Pills....until Fiona Apple gave us the longest titled album in record history, When The Pawn.....(hell with it I'm not typing that one out folks).

3.  Cigarette Dangles-The Pursuit Of Happiness 1993   They were from Canada and made a couple of listenable albums for Chrysalis before moving over to Mercury and hooking up with Ed Stasium and this did get some airplay on the radio, I remember seeing a video on 120 minutes too.  They were power pop at best but Stasium put a loud drum sound that sounds a lot like Living Colour's Vivid which turned out to be a clash of sound (blame Paul Hemingson for that while we're at it).  The Downroad Road had about five songs too many but I liked it fine but then again I found it for 50 cents during Record Store Day and I'm sure the guy at CD's 4 Change would have given it to me free if I would have picked up another four 50 cent cds.  Perhaps I should have just for the jewel cases.  Razor & Tie put together a pretty good best of called Sex & Food but it has been out of print for years.  Better to find the albums and put together your very own mix disc of TPOH.

4.  Black Slacks-Robert Gordon 1979  Pretty good remake of the Sparkletones classic. Found this on 45 at the aforementioned Cd's 4 Change last Saturday.  Before The Stray Cats came along, it was Gordon along with Link Wray (and Chris Spedding) trying to keep the rockabilly alive.

5.  Wasting My Time-Jimmy Page 1988  When Outrider came out, it was a big deal.  A return to the rock and roll roots or the sounds of Zeppelin screamed the critics.  Even one song featured 3/4 of the Zep lineup if you consider Jason Bonham (since dad was you know who) and Robert Plant but it was basically a throwaway track. Jason played on 6 of the 9 tracks (Barrimore Barlow from Jethro Tull played on two) and even The Firm's Tony Franklin figured into this song (vocals provided by John Miles who sounds a bit more Plantish than Plant himself).   MTV played the video to death in 1988 and the record sold a ton but there was a lotta return and many went to the used bins at the local store not too soon after.  Used to have the CD but now have the vinyl instead.

6.  Rock Away-Ric Ocasek 1991  Sandwiched in between Cars today and yesterday was that Ric did have a solo career to which he sold albums but they never seemed to be on par with The Cars albums and in some ways this does mirror Jimmy Page's album, hyped at first, bought and then returned to the cut out racks soon after.  Ric had it worse though.  In fact we were trying to find this album when it was released back twenty years ago in the Arizona getaway, back when there was a record store on every other corner.  Fireball Zone was the highly anticipated album.  Heck I thought this song beat the majority of Cars songs for rocking out but  the buying public didn't think so and Fireball Zone went into cutout land soon after.   Collector Choice Music supposedly reissued it via their failed Tartare label, to which they send out a CD R recorded version of it.  I'd say save your money or go buy the 3 dollar special at Amazon.  It's cheaper and guaranteed to play better.

7.  Gimme Gimme Good Lovin-Crazy Elephant 1969  So what if it's bubble gum?  So what if it sounds too much like Mony Mony at the beginning?  This has always been on my favorite 2 minute songs in the history of the AM radio era.

8.  Wasted-Def Leppard 1980  Sure Robert John Lange gave them the sonic polish and sound and made them what they are today but I prefer the Tom Allom produced debut when they were trying to go for that hard rock sound and did succeed.  Heck I think I bought it just for the cool cover.

9.  King Nothing-Metallica 1997  Gawd the purists out there were up in arms howling over Load missed the point.  I might be in the minority on how great this record is and can play it from end to end all 78:57 of it.  Now Reload, that one was a chore to sit through and listen to.  Maybe Load wasn't the big metal album but to me it was pure hard rock and they did it well I thought.

10.  Road Runner-Bo Diddley 1963  From the just reissued Bo Diddley's Beach Party album, an album so good that I had to play it again.  Yep, Bo kinda miss a lead or two or play it slightly out of tune and on the wrong fret but this how rock and roll was played.  No auto tuner to hinder things and playing off the frenzy of the audience although the liner notes detail how the South Carolina police had  shut one set down due to Jerome Thomas dancing with the white women (in the south in the 60's that's a no no, or where ever Haley Barbour is Governor at).  You had to be there I gather but in terms of live documents of the 60s, this rates up there with James Brown at the Apollo or BB King at the Regal.  Classic.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

National Record Store Day 2011-Dubuque

Beginning a snowy morning, I made my way up 151 to Dubuque and stopped at Moondog Music and CDs 4 Change for interesting finds.  Moondog Music had Enemies Of Confusion, a Dubuque band that played some good to okay songs concluding with a Weld version of Cinammon Girl from Neil Young.  Picked up Iggy Pop & James Williamson Kill City on Vinyl and the new Feelies and Bob Dylan Live At Branfels 1963 and Bo Diddley's Beach Party.  Thought about picking up the Yardbirds Sundazed 45 of Goodnight Sweet Josephine and Bad Brains Pay To Cum but didn't see the need for overpaying 45s over five bucks.  They'll be collector's items in about 20 years.  Alas, they didn't have the Foo Fighters Medium Rare LP, they sold them out five minutes after opening their doors but the dude says if they get anymore coming in next week, he'll let me know.  Of course, he'll have to send it out this way, one can only make so many trips to Dubuque with gas at 3.75 a gallon.

CDs 4 Change had more worthwhile and forgotten forty fives so I picked about five up and a few albums that were discounted and got treated to another band.  Three hairy dudes and guitars and they were half crocked before they hit the stage.  I don't think they went through one song without messing it up in some way.  So I hung out there a while then moved on to Borders and picked up a couple of 6 dollar cds (Best of Paul Desmond and Best Of Hot Tuna).  Goodwill had some high bias Maxell tapes for 50 cents each so bought them all up for future recording uses.

And that's what Record Store Day 2011 went for me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crabb Bits: National Record Store Day, Ratings, The 90's Take Two

In a sad attempt to bring new ratings into the Crabb House of Hits, we didn't get much on the Nobody Loves You Blog.  Guess nobody does love me then.  However upon looking at the traffic resources I've seen a visitor from Iran and China, to which I'm sure both were immedity arrested and charged for crimes against humanity and were stoned to death in the process.   Or it may have been AJAD himself, although I'm sure it wasn't since he and his Ayatollah buddies are planning world domination.   But if its the rare music fan from Iran then all apologies and glad y'all stopped by.

This Saturday is National Record Store Day, to which the major labels think up some rare overpriced albums and singles to sell for the record collector in you and me.  Only problem is that record stores are like drive ins; they are getting few and far between.  Since they are none in Cedar Rapids or Waterloo or Anamosa, Dubuque and Iowa City are the two logical choices although perhaps Davenport and Co Op Records might have something planned.  Then again everytime I go to a music store is my Record Store Day, I just get too involved in the overpriced limited edition sets that I have seen on what's available for Record Store Day this Saturday.  Maybe the Foo Fighters Medium Rare LP and I made it known to the record stores out there that if they had it I will arrive at their store but so far they don't seem to care to respond or maybe they just can't get it in.  Maybe I'll stay home (GF:  yep like's that gonna happen).

In the continuing story of the music of the 90s, I continue to find albums that were left off the lists on the overlong blog written last weekend.  For Squirrels, came from Florida and their new album was a week away from being released and they had a bad wreck and lost their lead singer and bass player.  For Example (Epic 550 Music-1995) showed their two biggest musical influences which was REM and Nirvana.  College radio played Mighty K.C. (a tribute to Kurt Cobain) which the damming line of there by the grace of God go I into the great unknown, and if any good 90's comp albums were out there, this song should have been on it.  8:02 PM, the followup was good radio materal but the bad timing and accident killed any hope and potential For Squirrels would have, in fact I think they would have made it in the music biz.  Travis Tooke, the guitar player would actually recruit replacements and  tried to tour but it didn't go far and eventually would retire and return with the drummer in tow to form Subrosa, who tend tried to go more toward a Soundgarden style of rock and emo and the end result was the halfassed Never Bet The Devil Your Head, another tax write off for Sony Music.  Side note: Nick Launay (of Midnight Oil fame) produced both albums.  For Squirrels remained the ultimate what could have been band and you can find their album in the dollar bins in thrift stores.  Worth a listen, the Subrosa album you can live without.

You pretty much know the story of my ex high school sweetheart Miss Penny and her dislike of alternative music.  I'm sure I have told the story about how we dated twice after high school for two disastrous get together  in the late 80s and early 90s.  She didn't have a high tolerance for rock music, even back in the 70s, she was into the country stuff from Laurie Morgan and who was popular at that time.  She had a great disdain for Nirvana, didn't like Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream and less said the better about Urge Overkill Saturation to which that became my go to album when we were going out somewhere in the car.  So I guess we were doomed to fail at everytime we decided to get back together.  But then again, it wasn't meant to be, she wasn't a music person, I'm not sure what she was good at except bartend and bitch about the clientele that went up there.  And last thing she wanted to hear was the feedback laden Stalker from U.O.  Which was fine by me after we had a falling out on Valentine's Day and another disaster from a indifferent and couldn't cared less woman.  To which I stayed mad and not talked to her unless it was bad for 12 years afterwards.

The music continued to be fun for me.  I still bought the classic rock acts such as Get A Grip from Aerosmith or Catfish Rising and Roots To Branches from Jethro Tull. Yes, had Talk and Open Your Eyes. But I do know I was into the alt rockers that didn't make a dent in the charts, The Ass Ponys, The Ape Hangers.  I tended to have much open mind and still do to this day and age, even though the new music of the 00's and this decade I'm becoming less receptive just like Miss Penny was back in the 90s.  To which my time of era of music remains the 60s through the 90s.  And I still think there's more out there that I will discover.  It wasn't the end of the world when Jerry Garcia died in 1995, Warren Haynes took over, when The Grateful Dead ended the jams after Garcia's death, Widespread Panic and Phish took over.  And Dave Matthews Band too.  In some ways Woodstock 99 may have ended the hippie dream once and for all but the original Woodstock it was peace and love (and getting a piece too) but the 94 and 99 disaster was all about the money to which is the norm today. The 90s was the last true decade of music being fun and to be discovered at the music store before the internet took over and pretty much killed off the excitement of the music store.  I'm sure we're better off for it but if nothing else the net does grant me the chance to blog and have a few folks reading yet another music site about forgotten music or music of my years.

The record store is dying breed, only succeeds in college towns or liberal cities.  Sometimes when I read Bob Lefsetz's blogs I tend to wonder if he is rooting for the remaining stores to close forever.  Technology is wonderful if you can afford it or get it on the sly like Bob does and you have less clutter unlike a record collector but when you been brought up to frequent the music stores on New Release Tuesday like I have been or go to a open music store on a road trip, you can't give it up so easy if you don't want to.  Just like me. I don't want it to end, that's why I keep doing it, just like the 20 or 30 folk that go up to Half Priced Books everyday.  I think Jim Kibler lives there more than I do.  If National Record Store Day is a rip off then folks are advised to not go then.  But when I go a store this weekend, it's because of hoping to find something of value, something that will get me to listen to it.  I have a list of what's available at Record Collector in IC or Moondog Music or CD's 4 Change in Dubuque.  I also know there's nothing in Waterloo, nothing in Cedar Rapids and nothing in Ames anymore.  National Record Store Day can be looked at a ploy by the major labels to get people to overpay on limited edition copies of 45s or CDs that won't be much value till 10 or 15 years from now if we're still alive to enjoy it.  But for myself, I go there for the unknown just waiting to be picked up and listened to and make a comment about it.

That's all that matters to me.

Post Script: Kirk from Record Collector said the shipments for the Sonic Youth/Nirvana EPs didn't come in and wasn't too pleased about that.  Major label mentality always sucks he says.  Yep, it was like that 20 years ago when I worked at the music store and Jerry couldn't get certain promos in.  That's the problem with record mergers, they never seem to be in it for the music lover.  Just the bottom line of $$$.  Fuck the consumer.   Maybe I'll say the hell with it and forgo National Record Store Day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Top Ten Of The Week-Nobody Loves You

I thought maybe if I add something catching to the eye that I get more ratings to my top ten.  Hell it worked for Sick Of Summer Ready For Fall or My GF Thinks I Should Blog More Often (even if my digits fall off).  So if I got you to check this blog out, heh heh heh, it just a teaser to tell ya it's the latest edition of the Top Ten Of The Week.

It was five years this date that we had the infamous Iowa City tornado that rambled through Iowa City and took out Sweet Living Antiques, one of the stores that got me interested in collecting vinyl once again.  Closer to home, we had a tornado that ripped through the southern edge of US 151 which came down from the hill, crossed the Wapsipinicon River, tore down the barn and Veterinarian Place but the tornado spared the new Wal Mart uphill.  Tornados are a way of life here in the great state of Iowa, on Saturday, a EF3 tornado ripped part of Mapleton and left a trail of damage and flatten houses.  Down here where I was at, we didn't get any bad weather, it stayed away and on Sunday the front went through.  So we missed out on the storms, but there's always next week.

Smells like cowpie outside.  Farmers must be planting their crops.  Of course it doesn't help knowing that gas prices are once again high and ready to be the most we had to pay since 2008, no thanks to Obama and the oil barons out there.  It won't stop me from going someplace for National Record Store Day but when it takes 50 dollars to fill the car up, we won't be doing much of anything this year.

Record stores are getting few and far between.  I came to find out that almost two years ago that Cellophane Square closed up their Seattle store via the web.  10 years ago, I went out to Seattle on a blind date and ended up going to this place in the University District of Seattle and found that they had a huge Clarence bin of CD's five bucks or less and stocked up on some plus some piece of shit recording from Bliss 66. But for two bucks managed to get Head Candy's 1991 album on Link/Elektra and Titanic Love Affair  plus a few others. One record store across the street had the latest Verve Pipe for 2 bucks, I can't think of their name but I'm sure they're a thing of the past.  Just like Cellophane Square and Wherehouse Music and Tower.  Great times great memories of cd hunting up there. Everyday Music is around that area I gather but I remember them most from a Portland trip the year before.  I've heard the Everyday Music cd selection is very good but don't look for me to get up there anytime soon.  Just a slight problem of too high plane fares.

While putting together the Music Of My Years The 90s, I didn't realize how vast and wide open the music I was listening to really was, and even in my second attempt to add what was missed, I tended to overlook about 30 more albums.  I did leave some albums out; if they weren't mentioned I either wasn't interested or had them at the time.  In terms of REM, I did buy Monster and liked it the best but the rest were found in pawnshops later and perhaps I'll make an effort to add what was found in the next segment of MOMY.  In this day and age a lot of the  junk cds that I do see in the buck bins were from the 90's and there some great songs off crap albums, which was another why I didn't include some that you may have thought I omitted. Whatever the case may be, perhaps the 90s was the most versatile decade to all there was so much music out there to be discovered, only to have corporates like Cumulus and Clear Channel, with the blessings of the Telecomm Act of 1996 buy just about all of the stations and gave us the overplayed or crap formats from the likes of KDAT or Modern Rock or Alternative Rock.  I don't think there's been anything as Alt rock since 1993.  Perhaps the Telecomm Act of 1996 was actually the day the music died, but then again the Polygram buyout by Universal and Limp Bizkit didn't help things either.   And no, I still can't get myself to sit through Three Dollar Bill Y'all, which may have been the best  album title that Fred Durst came up. And Faith is actually somewhat funny itself, at least it gave George Michael enough royalty music for to him to hang out at the park in his restroom hijinx.

The Songs Of The Week:

1.  Hang Straight Up-I Love You 1991  They looked like hippies and the guy sounded like Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult fame but their music a bit dark and funkier than BOC boys.  Jerry at Relics had a copy of this he was playing and I liked it fine but not to pay 8 bucks for it.  Found a cutout of it for 3 dollars at Camelot Music.  I Love You got good reviews but perhaps it was the name itself that people shied away from. No heavy metal person in their right mind would buy something from I Love You, they be thinking it must be a Air Supply spinoff eh?   Geffen Records sat on the album and most of the copies went to the cutouts but somebody liked them enough to give the go ahead for another album, All Of Us, which was produced by Chris Goss of Masters Of Reality fame.  That sold even less, hell I found a promo copy at BJ Records in 94.  There's a video to Hang Straight Up on You Tube but you have got to type in the whole song and whole band just to have it come up.  That was work upon itself.  Martin Popoff, noted metal review guru gave both albums high marks.  The band broke up in 95.  Any album afterward was not by them.

2.  The Stealer-Free 1970  This was the followup to All Right Now, and our radio station played it a lot. More so than the major stations I gather since it bombed.  It does sound like All Right Now Part 2 if you listen to the lyrics that Paul Rodgers wrote and sang but Andy Fraser adds more funky bass to Paul Kossoff's rocking guitar riffs.

3.  Hate Me-Saliva 2011  And rock and roll as we know it 40 years down the road.  These guys started out as Nu Metal Rap Heads but I noticed with each album they tended to show more rock in them than say Limp Bizkit or Korn but they tend to keep an eye on the modern rock radio better than say, Incubus.  No, this is not their cover of Blue October's crappy song but rather their own.  They'll never be critics darlings but at times I do enjoy their music to which Blood Stained Love Letter remains the go to album.  Still waiting for Universal to provide their own ICON best of in the near future.

4.  Orange Blossom Special-The Stanley Brothers 1955  Who dares goes from modern rock to classic bluegrass outside of me let them speak up or forever hold their embarrassment.  Next to Flatt & Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers redefined the high lonesome sound of Mountain Soul aka Bluegrass although this selection I came across via the cheap Pickwick Dueling Banjos album of 1973, remixed in fake stereo which actually sounds better than the mono recording.  But then again I'm probably deaf too. Mercury 70663 Catalog number, try to find it on 45 if you dare.

5.  It Must Be Hell-Rolling Stones 1983  Play some Rolling Stones my significant other says and I do but of course I had to pick a selection from the worst Stones album ever, Undercover.  An album so bad, it made the cutouts six months after release.  I still like the title track and this final number but everything else is a piece of poop turtles.  Keith Richard was so bankrupt for ideas that he recycled this riff from Soul Survivor (Exile On Main Street).  Hell I was to deaf back then that I actually gave this a B Plus. Upon further review, I was way off the mark and a change of batteries in my hearing aid helped too.

6.  Space Oddity-David Bowie 1973  Came out in 1969 on Mercury Records and sold squat till a change in labels and RCA reissued this in 73 and got better results.  Gus Dudgeon produced this and Paul Buckmaster did the arrangements, both would go on to help a certain English Diva find his mark in modern music.  Side note:  the Mercury single is going for triple digits on EBAY.  Side note 2:  The only time I ever seen any Bowie Mercury albums they were either on 8 track or cheap cassettes.  Can't recall seeing any vinyl though, if I did they were on the RCA label.  Even back then, the Mercury vinyl albums were fairly rare.

7.  Easy Evil-John Kay 1973  Later in the year, this was this minor hit from the former leader of Steppenwolf still struggling to make a name for himself in the country rock field. Written by Alan (Undercover Angel) O'Day who played keyboards on this song.  The highlight is the beat played backwards on tape, still sound pretty damn mysterious in this day and age.  I recorded this on on a cheap cassette player my dad brought for Mother on Christmas and I ended up using it more than she did.  Heard it on Beaker Street around 74.  For you Beaker Street fans, yes it's been two months since the last broadcast.  Sad to say that perhaps Clyde may not be coming back after all.  The ducks are not lining up in the pond at all.

8.  Long Haired Guys From England-Too Much Joy 1991  Smart assed pop punkers that got in trouble for performing 2 Live Crew As Nasty As They Wanna Be album in its entirety at some bar in Florida and got arrested for their trouble.  They made three enjoyable albums for Giant/WB in the early 90s and how this album managed not to the get the dreaded Parental Advisory sticker is beyond me.  They dropped a couple F bombs on this ode to Short hair US Guys losing out the the long haired UK freaks that the girls only wanted to (should I say it? why not) fuck long hair guys from England.  Until Oasis and Blur came around then it was short hair guys from England. Something to that effect.

9.  Sister Havana-Urge Overkill 1993  I was dating my high school sweetheart for a second time and like the first time we got together in 1989 it wasn't what it used to be.  Especially when she was a bartender at The Keg at that time and having guys coming on to her and of course some of them she did take up their offer. Well idiot me thought not once but twice of getting back together with her and both times came up a even more disappointed than before.  That's why they are called Ex.   And her music taste was strictly country and nothing else.  Imagine my surprise when we took a Thanksgiving trip to her relatives that I got zero sleep due to somebody snoring and farting up a storm (not me for a change) so I played The Flying Burrito Brothers and she called it church music?!?   And she didn't like the new Nirvana nor Smashing Pumpkins either, so I threw this on and the second side of the cassette starting out with Crack Babies to which she covered her ears and said WTF is this noise?!?  I told her she can damn well walk back from Bennett to Marion for all I cared.  The sorry assed second attempt of reunion of us ended not too long but I look at Urge Overkill with extreme fondness and even a song I didn't care much for (Crack Babies) became a favorite by default.  However Sister Havana was the alt rock hit and it turned out to be their big shining moment.  The next album Exit The Dragon I didn't care much about.  As for me and the ex, she did marry somebody else and surprise they are still together although my brother has to put up with her when she gets her car fixed.  Took me and her 11 years to finally be on civil terms.

10.  Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights) Pat Travers Band 1979  We go with the live version.  Tuesday PT turned 57 years old and still rocks like he's 27.  He recorded for Polydor and Go For What You Know Live was his biggest selling album although Crash And Burn also went gold.   I got to see PT live at Dillons in 1990 and he had a great band with Mars Cowlings on bass and Jerry Riggs on guitar, my favorite lineup of his bands.  Got to shake his hand when he came off stage along with Riggs and Cowlings too.  Only the drummer declined to interact.  I think he left the band soon after.  Anyway, PT does have a Facebook page and he does interact with fans from time to time.  He still hangs in Florida but he did make a weekend trip to play some shows up around Lake Dundee Illinois and Minneapolis.  Of course the l979 recording features Pat Thrall and Tommy Aldridge with Mars too.  We love ya PT.

To the spammer who throws spam Anonymously the title is dedicated to you.  Nobody loves you. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Music Of My Years-The Relics Years 1991-1998

Ah the 90's.  The last true good decade of good music.  Prior before this decade I had a good memory of what was going on in the music world, MTV was still playing videos but moving toward the reality garbage they are now today.  Downtown Julie Brown's pop disco show which the cool people were bump and grinding to somewhat listenable music and Headbangers Ball and 120 Minutes still a part of the programming.  I remember Ben Sidran doing a jazz show on VH1 for a few years and seeing Enya on it.  Memories.

At that point in my life, I was working and hanging out at a music store called Relics in Cedar Rapids which opened in 1990 when Jerry Scott decided to break away from Jim Henson and Rock n Bach and opened his own music store.  And for the first few years I worked as a part part timer, which means I got to man the cash register while Jerry or Erin or Carol went to the bathroom.  At that time, I was still into the classic rock format but was beginning to hear the upstarts known as Grunge, the Seattle sound.  Flannel rock from Pearl Jam and the punk rock railings of Nirvana although I have to say I didn't get into their music all that much.  I was listening to more new music but in the form of cutouts at Camelot Music, back when they had music stores in the malls.  Disc Jockey and Camelot was also up in Waterloo at the Crossroads Mall.  But in the cutouts at Camelot I came across stuff from The Raindogs, and brought Border Drive In Theater simply of cool name.  At that time Camelot was getting cutouts from Warner Music Group to which was the easiest way of getting Roxy Music, all but two of their albums came from the cutouts.  But for the most part, my second home was Relics  by Collins/1st Avenue, later became a good friend of Bruce Stanley on the other Relics store close to downtown CR.  At that time, CR boasted 10 decent music stores, Co Op even had a place at Town & Country.  And in the malls, if all else fails, there was Sam Goody/Musicland.

During the CD boom years, Relics was the place to hang out.  I remember the midnight music sales of Metallica Black Album, Pearl Jam Vs and one day Rob Halford while in the band Fight came out and hung with the people one night before performing at Dillon's (or 3rd Street Live as it was called).  The alternative  music was Erin's department, she was a young teen just out of high school that Jerry hired and she would be into the newer bands.  The Greenberry Woods who became Splitsville, she was such a fan that the band made her head of their fan club.  Carol, was into The Grateful Dead and reggae music, Bruce was into Steve Earle and The Replacements, but these folks were our answer to the MTV VJ's of the 80s, I knew basically what time to go up there and knew who would be there working but mostly I hung with Jerry and traded music ideas and when I went to Arizona to pick up albums, I would leave most of them there with him which was a bad thing since I never did get much trade value for them.  In fact,  I traded a box of my albums one day to get the Led Zeppelin 4 CD box set and been kicking myself ever since doing that since I traded my Exile On Main Street 2 LP set as part to sweeten up the deal.

Somewhere around 1992, having gotten sick and tired of hearing the same classic rock songs over and over, I decided to do a make over and started listening to the new music.  At that time, I was in Arizona at the old Chuy's Hideaway on Mill in Tempe thinking I was going to see The Sidewinders which at that time was the best known AZ band outside of the Meat Puppets only to see Echo House opening up for some band called the Gin Blossoms.  This bar they had sofa's up front and I shared part of mine with some of the Echo House dudes, who sounded like an Alternative Journey but never made it, but the Gin Blossoms would become a focal point of my favorite bands.  I became a fan and bought New Miserable Experience when it came out a couple weeks later.  And bought more off the wall stuff that Relics had as promo copies although I remember Van Halen FUCK album came out, somebody came in and traded it in a couple days later.  I discovered Killing Joke that way, their Pandemonium came out in 1994, nobody bought it so decided to take it home an listened to it for smiles and giggles and ended up being a fan of their music.  I also into the Madchester music scene with The Charlatans UK, The Dylans, Ride and later through the pawnshop The Primitives and Lush. It was perhaps the last decent music period, the early 90s and seemed like that when Kurt Cobain ended his life and Nirvana, the music begin to spiral out of control to nothingness till either Universal bought out Polygram or Limp Bizkit went gold which was when the day the music actually died.  But even then I managed to find some highly great albums that nobody knew about.  1997 gave us Big Back Forty Bested, one of the albums that have stood up the test of time and still gets played a lot in this house.  In fact, I got to see them play live Gabe's as they opened up for The Honeydogs one late November night and gotten to seen Sean Beal hanging close by to myself as he and the other guys shouting along to Can't Take My Eyes Off You by The Honeydogs.  I saw The Honeydogs three times in the late 90s when they made their way to Gabe's.  Another highlight was seeing Cary Hudson and Blue Mountain with Kevin Salem opening up. In fact they did a acoustic show at BJ's Records in 95.  Another good moment was Primus/Rush during the Counterparts tour to which Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson would introduce their new songs as new country songs.

It was this time in 1994 that I took my first trip up to Madison to check out their music stores and became such a fan of those music stores that every year I seem to go up there at least twice a year.  At that time we heard about the internet but it remained a mystery till Steve at work got me online one night and thus changed my way of thinking forever and became a internet junkie.  But around 1996, the Relics that I once knew and cherish was changing.  Jerry couldn't get the latest music for me and one day told me to head to Best Buy to pick up It's Alive by The Ramones.  Something was up indeed.  The last day I was there I picked up Freedy Johnston's Never Home and Less Than Jake's Losing Streak and that was it.  There was no mention of Relics closing up for good.  The next week, I returned to an empty building and that was it.   Four months later, Relics opened up under Steve Bray in Hiawatha and then Marcus then bought that and moved it next door to Yanda's before the owner complained about that Hippie place selling demon music and it was moved to another place down the road.  But for me the end of the original Relics was the ending of a part of my life.  A part of wasting three hours a day bullshitting with Jerry or Bruce or Carol or Erin about new music.  Sometimes I see Jerry Scott from time to time at Best Buy while he's checking out the new music or even at Half Priced Books and we say hi but it's not the same.  Bruce works at Siegel's Pawnshop, Erin got into catering for a while and then formed Alter Ego Comic Books in 1997 to which she did sell music till she gave that up and now sells comic books.  She says it's less hassle than dealing with the major labels.

At that time, the music stores were moving on too.  Camelot closed up their music store around 1998 and Rock and Bach managed to outlive Relics and then Jim Henson went to online only but for the most part, I spent a lot of time there talking with Jim Kibler on the Saturday Nights before heading next door to DeSotos.  As for the Relics store itself, the strip mall that it used to sit would be bulldozed and made into a parking lot for the brand new Best Buy, as for the second time in ten years taking away a part of my history in favor of a bigger and better store.  In the place of Relics, Cd Warehouse sprouted up next door to Best Buy and CD's Plus (opened in 1991 to counter against the Hippiedom that was Relics) remained.  But the times were changing for the music hunter and not for the best either.  The Universal/Polygram merger was the death knell of music and if it wasn't that, it certainly ended with the arrival of the crappy Nu-Metal spawned by Limp Bizkit in 98.  To which we conclude this era on a ominous note.  However, in 1996 while going to Siegel's in downtown C.R. and seeing their used CD section, it ushered in a new era in my life to which I call the Pawn Shop Years and discovering the cheap cd and the forgotten cheap Cd artists of that time. Rick Parker would be pleased but that's for another time and blog.

The Music of this era.

Gin Blossoms: Dusted, New Miserable Experience, Congratulations I'm Sorry
Killing Joke-Pandemonium, Democracy
Green Day-Kerplunk, Dookie, Insomniac, Nimrod
Ride-Nowhere, Smile, Going Blank Again, Tarantula
The Dylans, Spirit Finger
The Charlatans UK-Some Friendly, Between 10th & 11th, Up To Our Hips, S/T, Telling Stories
Jason & The Scorchers: A Blazing Grace, Clear Imperious Morning
The Bottlerockets: S/T, The Brooklyn Side, 24 Hours A Day
James McMurtry: Candyland, Where'd You Hide The Body, It Had To Happen
Screaming Trees: Sweet Oblivion, Dust
Meat Puppets: Forbidden Places, Too Far To Care, No Joke
Rush: Roll The Bones, Counterparts, Test For Echo
Drivin n Cryin: Fly Me Courageous, Smoke, Wrapped In Sky, S/T
Alice In Chains: Dirt, Sap, Jar Of Flies, S/T
Pearl Jam: Ten, Vs, Vitalogy
Nirvana: Nevermind, In Utero
Foo Fighters: S/T, Colour And The Shape
Metallica: S/T, Load
Big Back Forty: Bested
Train Hits Truck: Never Been There
Sand Rubies: S/T, Night Of The Living Dead, Release The Hounds
Mach Five
Helmet: Strap It On, Meantime, Betty
Little Village
John Hiatt: Perfectly Good Guitar, Best Of The A & M Years
Greenberry Woods: Rapple Dapple, Big Money Item
Tripmaster Monkey: Goodbye Race, Practice Changes
Four Horsemen: Nobody Said It Was Easy
Black Crowes: Shake Your Money Maker, Southern Harmony..., Amorica, Three Snakes & One Charm, By Your Side.
Big Country: The Buffalo Skinners, Why The Long Face?
ZZ Top: Antenna, Rhythmeen
Dramarama: Hi Fi Sci Fi, Vinyl, 18 Big Ones-The Best Of Dramarama
Chris Knight
John Mellencamp: Whatever We Wanted
Dwight Yoakam: If There Was A Way, Gone, This Time, A Long Way Home
Too Much Joy: Son Of Sam I Am, Cereal Killers, Mutiny, Finally.....
Voice Of The Beehive: Let It Bee, Honey Lingers
The Stairs: Mexican RnB
Eric Clapton: From The Cradle
Stone Temple Pilots: Core, S/T, Tiny Music & Songs From The Vatican..., No.4
Talk Show
Foghat: Return Of The Boogie Men
Blue Oyster Cult: Heaven Forbid
Elton John: Made In England, The Big Picture
Live: Mental Jewelery, Throwing Copper
Blues Traveler: S/T, Four
Tom Petty: Into The Great Wide Open, Wildflowers, She's The One Soundtrack
Sponge: Rotting Pinata
Velvet Crush: Teenage Symphonies To God
Oasis, Definitely Maybe, What's The Story Morning Glory, The Masterplan
Offspring: Smash, Ixnay On The Hombre, Americana
Suicide Machines:  Destruction By Definition
Arc Angels
Doyle Bramhall II-Welcome
Reef: Glow
Motorhead: 1916
Neil Young: Harvest Moon, Sleeps With Angels, Mirror Ball, Broken Arrow
Bob Dylan: Time Out Of Mind
Blue Mountain: S/T, Dog Days, Home Grown
Dan Baird: Love Songs For The Hearing Impaired, Buffalo Nickel
Masters Of Reality: S/T, Sunrise On The Sufferbus
Robert Plant: Fate Of Nations
I Love You: S/T, All Of Us
Less Than Jake: Losing Streak, Hello Rockview
The Why Store: S/T, Two Hearts
Catherine Wheel-Ferment, Chrome
Pink Floyd: The Division Bell
King's X-Faith Hope Love, S/T, Dogman, Ear Candy, Tape Head
Smithereens: A Date With The Smitereens
Deep Purple: The Battle Rages On, Perpendicular, Abandon
Chimeras/Pistoleros: Mistaken For Granted, Hold On To Nothing
Jayhawks: Blue Earth, Hollywood Town Hall, Tomorrow The Green Grass.
Fastball: Make Your Momma Proud, All The Pain Money Can Buy
Kyuss: Blues For The Red Sun, Sky Valley (aka S/T)
Mighty Mighty Bosstones: Question The Answers, Let's Face It
Collective Soul: Hints Allegations..., S/T, Disciplined Breakdown, Dosage
Hootie & The Blowfish: Cracked Rear View, Musical Chairs
Kentucky Headhunters: Electric Barnyard, That'll Work, Rave On, Stompin Grounds
Blue Rags: Rag & Roll, Eat At Joe's
Ned's Atomic Dustbin-Godfodder, Are You Normal?, Brainbloodvolume
Pete Droge: Necktie Second, Find A Door, Spacey & Shakin
Senseless Things: The First Of Too Many

PS, As Drew mentioned in his comments that there was a lot more music that I left off and he's certainly right.  At that time, I didn't paid much attention to REM and the Out Of Time and Automatic For The People till I found them in the clearance bins at the pawnshop years later. I think Alternative rock was at its best in the early to mid 90s but some bands I didn't hold much interest, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Korn, Marlyn Manson fall into that category.  Some bands I didn't include of the fact that I wasn't into them at that time (Sister Hazel, Eagle Eye Cherry, Mighty Joe Plum had great singles on the radio but the albums were blah at best although Sister Hazel has grown upon me as the year progressed). Of course Jennifer Trynin Cockamanie which came out in 1994 had the great Better Than Nothing and was poised to take over the alt music world till Alanis Morrisette topped her with You Oughta Know which I heard for the first time in the Las Vegas Strip and thinking this was going to be big.  Trynin made one more decent album for Warner and then disappeared.

A lotta great local bands had decent albums out.  Head Candy made one for Link/Elektra in 1991, These Days, gave us Carnival in 1994 and Doctor Jones From The Basement To Your Brain in 92 were the local faves.  Then again I overlooked Cedar Falls very own House Of Large Sizes.  So for part two, I add a few more forgetten favorites and why I overlooked Uncle Tupelo can be blamed on my Alzheimer's. In other words, too much music, and too little memory.  Here goes the rest that I remember and if I forget any, you can comment later.  I'm sure I will omit a few..

Candlebox: S/T, Lucy
Big Head Todd & The Monsters: Sister Sweetly, Live Monsters, Beautiful World
Uncle Tupelo: No Depression, Still Feel Gone, Andoyne
Wilco: AM
Son Volt: Trace, Wild Swing Tremolo
Backsliders: Throwing Rocks At The Moon
Bo Ramsey: In The Weeds
Cry Of Love: Brother
Webb Wilder: Doo Dad, Acres Of Swede
Goo Goo Dolls: Hold Me Up, Superstar Car Wash, Boy Named Goo, Dizzy Up The Girl
Brian Eno/John Cale: Wrong Way Up
Raindogs: Border Drive In Theatre
Electric Boys: Groovious Maximus
Unwritten Law
311: S/T, Transistor
Gov't Mule: Dose
Allman Brothers: Seven Turns, Where It All Began
Brother Cane: S/T, Seeds, Wishpool
Ministry: The 1992 Album
Melvins: Houdini, Stonerwitch
Whiskeytown: Strangers Almanac, Faithless Street, Rural Free Delivery
Refreshments: Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy, Bottle & Fresh Horses
Big Sugar: 500 Pounds
Urge Overkill: Saturation
King Missle: The Way To Salvation, Happy Hour, S/T
Better Than Ezra: Deluxe
Paul Westerburg-14 Songs
Dio-Strange Highways
Del Amitri-Waking Hours, Change Everything, Some Other Suckers Parade, Twisted
Rolling Stones-Voodoo Lounge
Mick Jagger-Wondering Spirit
Down By Law-Last Of The Sharpshooters
Bad Religion: Gray Race, Stranger Than Fiction, No Substance, The New America
Rage Against The Machine: Evil Empire, Battle Of  Los Angeles
Dada: Puzzle, Sonic Highway Flower, S/T
BBM: Around The Next Dream
Denis Leary: Lock & Load, No Cure For Cancer
Bloodhound Gang: Use Your Fingers
The Poorboys: Pardon Me
Kevin Salem: Soma City
Blur: Leisure, Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife, The Great Escape, Blur
Social Distortion: Somewhere Between Heaven & Hell

And many many more.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Crabb Bits For The Week

On The Subject  Of:

As you can tell I haven't really been posting a lot this month, only two all of the month.  A sign of spring actually, been getting out of the house and trying to do a bit of exercise before the ticks come out.  This week, Old Purple, the once trusty Corsica is on life support once again.  Went to work and when I got there, ended up seeing smoke coming out of the hood and it was spitting out anti freeze.  Thought it was a radiator hose split right?  Oh no, it was a crack coming from the radiator itself.  Fucking nice so my brother got the sliver Corsica back home and took Old Purple out to the shop to which we can either put a replacement in it or just trade the old thing in.  It was supposed to last through the winter and it did while Miss Sliver got its brakeline fixed and the GF who came down to see me was treated to the antics of Old Purple and leaking tires in a 10 below morning in Iowa City.   Old Purple was recused 12 years ago from the ex who was 3 payments and my credit rating just about becoming worthless and we have gone from town to town searching for bargains and more music.  I'm hoping to get more up to date car this spring and trying to muster courage to head to the car dealership and dealing with them shysters.  Wish me luck on that.

You may have never heard of Bill Pitcock IV but he played guitar on Dwight Twilley's I'm On Fire back in 1974 which is one of the best power pop songs ever to come out (I'm sure the next top ten will have a DT song in it, look for it and guess which one). I'm On Fire was one song I played over and over back in the days of 45 collecting (look for another blog about that too). Pitcock IV died this week from cancer at age 61. Twilley's latest album does have Pitcock playing on it or so Dwight says.   Long time ago, DCC reissued DT's Sincerely his 1976 album for ABC/Shelter which although I'm On Fire came out around summer of 75 here, the album didn't hit stores till a year later and by then Twilley was pretty back into the unknown world.  If you want to hear good 70's power pop, find the DCC version for it was more bonus cuts than the Right Stuff/EMI reissue replacement in the mid 90s.  I never forgave them for leaving Did You See What Happened off that one.  That was the B side to I'm On Fire, and it's the closest thing to power pop rockabilly ever attempted.

For the most part, nothing new worth getting and basically Best Buy has some bad road construction so I didn't go there.  I had a 15 percent off coupon for Half Priced Books so I went and picked up the Time Life Stanley Brothers Definitive  Collection and the best moments were when they joined King/Starday for the hits of Man Of Constant Sorrow, How Mountain Girls Can Love and O Death to which Ralph got a hit out of for O Brother Where Art Thou, the album to reintroduced the world to bluegrass once again.  As far as I know this is the only complete career overview of the Stanley Brothers although Columbia issued a cd of their own and Mercury added choice cuts to their short lived Best of Bluegrass series.  The third CD combines rare live performances and life after King Records.  Bill Monroe may have been in a league of his own but next to him and Flatt & Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers defined bluegrass music to art form.  Time Life almost has done a perfect job in terms of getting their best songs.

For other albums  Tom Rush-The Circle Game (Elektra 1969) shows Rush covering Joni Mitchell and James Taylor before they became well known and it's a folk cover album thus a bit overrated in my book.  Even Jackson Browne and Charlie Rich Rush covers but perhaps the standout remains his own No Regrets that is the last song of the album.  This record must have meant something since Elektra has kept it in print all these years even after when Rush would leave for Columbia soon after ward.  Interesting fact:  Linda Eastman was the photographer of the album cover and that might be her snuggling up to Tom in the cover shot.  Speculation.  For more fun and giggles in the two dollar bin comes The Free Story (Island 1973) to which that point UK Island issued this as the complete best of to which it is not.  On the plus side it adds hard to find selections from an aborted Paul Rodgers album (Lady), a selection from the Kossoff, Kirke, Rabbit and Testu project that Island did release as and album and the original 45 version of All Right Now. On the negative side, it adds way too many songs from the crappy Free At Last album (I could never get through side two without falling asleep at some point), skimps on Ton Of Sobs and gives us the halfassed live version of The Hunter and the jamathon Mr. Big.  And only selects Come Together In The Morning from Heartbreaker (where's Wishing Well or the title track at?-Answer Heartbreaker was omitted due to time restrictions on the CD which clocks at 76:33 minutes).  So in the end the A & M Best Of Free wins out for best overall Free overview, although I wouldn't say it's definite either.  Even on Fire and Water, Free's sloppiness and meandering blues tend to try my patience.  So maybe they were destined for failure but that doesn't discredit the fact that Paul Rodgers has always been one of my all time favorite singers.  So it goes.

For albums this week, I took my chances on Wishbone Ash Locked In (Atlantic 1976) which is their least interesting album and maybe it is the new guy Laurie Westfield but this record never gets off the ground with pointless songs going nowhere, or Martin Turner's She Was My Best Friend even worse (Turner can't sing period). Rest In Peace is probably the best thing off a pointless album to which a reviewer blamed Tom Dowd for this but he had nothing to work with.  At least Ron & Howie Albert had more to go on with better songs for New England which came out in the same year.  Nevertheless that was the 2 and final album for Atlantic and Wishbone Ash returned to MCA for another five years with minimal success.

My Sportin Life by John Kay (Dunhill/ABC 1973) was Kay's second solo offering and I thought it was much better than Forgotten Songs & Unsung Heroes though most what I heard came from the MCA cut and paste Lone Steppenwolf CD which cherry picks tracks off Kay's 2 albums.  More country rock than Steppenwolf, Kay managed to get Easy Evil (written by Alan (Undercover Angel) O'Day)  on the top thirty and that turned out to be the highlight of that album.  From what I remembered I wasn't too impressed with Lone Steppenwolf but perhaps if I find another copy of that I'll check it out but I think the cuts on Sportin Life sound better on that album rather than a comp.

Getting bored with the new stuff, out of my collection I pulled the Capitol Monster Summer Hits Series of surf and drag music.  Back then in the early 60s EMI had cornered the market with hits by Beach Boys and Jan & Dean with a few lesser known bands and in 1991, put out Wild Surf and Drag City, with the famous monster driver pics that was the rage of the early 70s.  In fact Drag City, in the cover shot they have the famous Moon Muffler logo (my fave).  Can't understand why somebody would give us a even lesser edit on 409 (comes in at 1:49 rather than 2:05) and five cuts from The Super Stocks is about four too many (although me thinks they were in competition with The Four Speeds who recorded for Challenge in 63).  And Bert Convy is two tracks too many (the Lieber/Stoller Cheers cuts).  The six Beach Boys cuts dominate (which includes Mike Love's greatest contribution to that band, the two note horn intro to Shut Down Part 2) and The Gants Road Runner is just about punk as they go.  I still think The Duals were way ahead of their time by being the only black guys doing surf and drag music with Stick Shift.  It's rough and unusual and my idea of drag music fun.  Wild Surf is probably the better of the two comps just by The Trashmen's Surfin Bird and The Rivingtons Papa Oom Mow Mow and the Brian Wilson produced Honeys.  And Brian's daddy Murry topping him for the only time: The Sunrays I Live For The Sun.   The Pipeline and Wipe Out numbers are not original.  This time out the Beach Boys only get four surf songs on there but Jan & Dean wins out with Surf City and Ride The Wild Surf.  Given as a whole both comps suffer was too much filler and lackluster pop numbers trying to be surf and drag and probably too much for the autotuner crowd but for old hippies like myself, they do remind me of a kind and gentler times when  I was younger..................

So I decided to go to Waterloo on a late notice and of course it turned out to be a road trip.  Found a couple old country records at St Vincent De Paul and surprised it was not too busy there on a Saturday.  CD's Plus up there has closed up shop so if there's any decent music stores up in Waterloo it's beyond my knowledge.  Pawnshops had nothing although Money And More did have a nice DW drumset for 800 dollars.  Stopped at the Isle, the new casino up there to use the bathroom and then head to Independence to the Del Rio Mexican Place to where I was treated to bad Mariachi live music and had to wait 45 minutes for supper to arrive but the salsa was awesome so I loaded up on chips and salsa before returning home and spending 45 dollars to fill the car up.  Dark days lie ahead. 

The country records found was Carl Jackson Old Friends (Capitol 1978) to which this bluegrass banjo superpicker sets his sights on making it into the Nashville country charts only to fall flat and no sales.  In some ways it reminds me of Vince Gill when he first became a solo artist, or Keith Urban although Jackson beat Gill by about 7 years.  Jackson is at home when he covers Bill Monroe or does a banjo instrumental like Lil Jimmy but the album never really goes anywhere till side 2 and the conclusion of Sweet Dixie (Reprise) to which the ballad fades into a mean banjo playing and fading into the distance.   The other album Golden Country Instrumentals (Starday 1968) is that, a budget album of 10 songs that barely goes over 24 minutes but features a wild Joe Maphis Fiddin On The Guitar which is just about fusion as country gets, a jazzy Penguin Strut from the talking steel guitar wiz the late Pete Drake and the Stanley Brothers Bonnie & Clyde Getaway.  I have to mention Glen Campbell's Phoenix After Hours; certainly Campbell was riding the charts of Gentle On My Mind, a album that paved the way for John Hartford to live the good life and give the world Aero-Plain, but Campbell was a damn good guitar player and Phoenix After Hours proves that.  I think Starday at that time was distributed by RCA judging by the packaging, but for a budget label and the record 40 plus years old it played like new.  I like it fine myself but I doubt that y'all ever find another copy.  It's not the fact it's rare, but people today don't care for Country Instrumentals like they did back in the past.

Next week is National Record Store Day and I'm sure I'll be at one close to home.  We'll see where the road leads on that one.

Final Grades of things reviews (as far as my memory goes)
Wishbone Ash-Locked In (Atlantic 1976) C
Dwight Twilley-Sincerely (DCC/Shelter 1988) B+  (the Right Stuff reissue) B-
The Free Story (Island 1973) B-
The Stanley Brothers-The Definitive Collection (Time Life 2008) A-
John Kay-My Sportin' Life (Dunhill 1973) B+
Tommy Overstreet-Better Me (ABC 1978) B
Monster Hits: Drag City/Wild Surf (Capitol 1991) B+
Carl Jackson-Old Friend (Capitol 1978) C+
Various-Golden Country Instrumentals (Starday 1968) B+
Free-Free At Last (Pickwick/A & M 1972) C
Free-Heartbreaker (Island 1973) A-

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Top Ten Of The Week: In Defense Of Derek & The Dominoes

With the new Deluxe Edition of Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs I have bought this album five times in my lifetime.  Long time ago, I got the 2 record set, then traded that for the 2 CD Polydor set, then traded that in for the 20th Anniversary Edition, then found the remaster of Layla for a dollar and now went to Best Buy for the 2 CD 40th Anniversary one.  What does that make of me?

Derek And The Dominoes was actually Eric Clapton and part of the Delaney & Bonnie touring band which broke away to do a album on their own and it might be the top 5 all time albums ever made.  However Duane Allman then came on board to add his great slide guitar work and the title track became a song for the ages.  For years I played that song and try to figure how did Duane do that, was he playing violin? steel guitar or a slide up around the highest level of the guitar?  And then leading off to Jim Gordon's beautiful piano beginning of the second part of the song, Gordon being the ill fated drummer of said band making his biggest contribution.  Originally Atco put it out in edited form (and it even made its way to a K Tel Comp album 22 Explosive Hits I think it was) and then in 1972 reissued it in its 7 minute glory.  Originally there was work on the second album but it was aborted and most of it didn't see the light of day till the 4 CD Crossroads came out.  By 1972, Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident and didn't figure on the 2nd album.

In some ways I think it was best there wasn't a followup.  When you take into account of all the songs that made up Layla, even the cover versions talked about failed love or lust (Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Key To The Highway) and Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out takes on fairweather friends (or women for that matter).  Perhaps it was a concept album so to speak.  Nevertheless, Layla the album, is just about perfect, even down to Bobby Whitlock's Thorn Tree In The Garden, a throwaway but still when Whitlock moans at the end of the song, even he is feeling the blues of love and loss.

The original mix of Layla was always bland to my ears (although music purists praised the Phil Spector like sound courtesy of Tom Dowd) so they remixed it on the 20th Anniversary Version and there's a bit better separation of sound and there's a few extras that are in this recording that's missing from the original, the intro of Whitlock going "Whooo" on Keep On Growing and bit more brighter sound that I kinda prefer over the original mix.  Disc 2, featured some long form jams that are for the fanatics only.  I think I played that disc about three times in the past twenty years and the third disc featured some more extended jams and alt versions of Mean Old World or Tell The Truth and couple others.  Again I don't play that one much either.  But I bought the 40th Anniversary for the second disc of bonus tracks and the tentative titles that comprised of the aborted Derek & The Dominoes second album.  Perhaps of note and value is the Bobby Whitlock adding vocal counterpoint to Go To Get Better In A Little While, which the unfinished version made Crossroads.  Whitlock added his vocals and keyboard work last year in Austin for inclusion on this recording.  To me, it kinda like colorizing an black n white movie,  kind of pointless and is good for a listen or two.  And the aborted second album is mostly blues covers, a hard rocking Evil, but Mean Old Frisco is messed up by Jim Gordon playing on the offbeat and not exactly keeping up.  That one doesn't work very well. And One More Chance, Clapton does sound like he's ready to move on to other things.  And Got To Get Better was done better in concert then in the studio.  I think overall had it been released it would have been at least a three star album tops but to these ears it sound like the wheels were beginning to fall off.

Which leaves us with the 45 version of Roll It Over/Tell The Truth to which Atco released in late 1970 but it didn't chart or made much headwave.  Part of the problem was Phil Spector's production and a fast version of Tell The Truth sounds too hurried and out of place with the much better and slower version.  Those two songs  made the EC Crossroads boxset as well.  Perhaps the highlight of the whole 2nd disc was a performance on The Johnny Cash Show to which they played four songs, a spirited It's Too Late, shorted 6 minute versions of Tell The Truth and Got To Get Better In A Little While and a jam with Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins on Matchbox to which is worthy of the price.  Whitlock provided a great vocal counterpoint with Clapton on these songs (as well as In Concert album).  Why they didn't continue is probably due to too many drug problems and too much paranoia within the band.  Just an observation from myself, nothing more.

In terms of what to buy, if you have the remaster of the 1996 Layla album I really don't see any need for you to upgrade to the 2011 version, unless you like a much louder bass sound or if you're a completest and want it all, then the 2 CD Deluxe Edition would make a nice coffee table version to play.  But I still remain partial to the 20th Anniversary Layla album version which the sound opens up and is not as compressed but since I'm such a lazy bastard, I usually pull out whatever close by.   But any rock and roll fan who wants the classic best has to have some version of Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs in their collection.  For all the time and effort, Eric Clapton hasn't made anything this outstanding or memorable before or after and that's saying something.  And even in the end when he finally got Patti Harrison, the object of his affections, it was doomed to failure and they would eventually go separate ways.

Layla the album itself remains a A plus album  anything else is an A-

The Top Ten Of The Week is as follows.

1.  The Bitch Is Back-Elton John 1974  Did you see EJ on Saturday Night Live?  For the first 30 minutes and his monologue Elton and company made SNL the most funniest I have seen since the days of Eddie Murphy and that's saying something.  Of course it helped when Tom Hanks made a cameo but Elton was funny, playing the diva guy in some of the sketches although toward the end, the gay jokes and man to man kissing got to be awkward about the 5th time.  If his music career finally dries up, he can always try for standup comedy.  Plus he even got Brother Leon Russell to do his patented high scream on the 2nd song Monkey Suit.  But I wished they left the screaming soul chick singer home on Hey Ahab. She sucked.

2.  Carol-Tommy Roe 1964  I'm fifty years old and can't remember last week from last year but when it comes to forty fives I used to have I got a photogenic memory and this long lost classic was from my first collection of 45s back then I was 3 years old.  Seems like Momma always knew what would shut me up would be plenty of cheap 7 inchers and I think I got this one from Woolworth's cheap bins since it was her name.  But for a Chuck Berry cover, Roe sure nails this down and I always got a kick out of the dude doing a guitar imitation along with the doo dooing chick singers.  Like The Animals' Going Send You Back To Walker, this was my first exposure to rock and roll and it hasn't let go since.  Somehow the old 45 got broken but it would take me over 45 years to find a replacement copy, thank you Mad City Music X for having it.

3.  Ball Crusher-Steppenwolf 1970 Steppenwolf 7, one of my all time favorite albums and of course Robert Christgau bashed it big time but he missed the mark on this.  This song is so heavy sounding, I have to play this in the basement otherwise the top floor would have collapsed. (Thank God for Spell checker, I cannot type for shit tonight).

4.  Spanish Moon-Arc Angels 1992  Drew mentioned this one on his best albums of the 1990s and this is my way of saying that I do read his blogs but sometimes don't comment.  I figured between blogging all the time and commenting over on some of my followers on Blogspot that perhaps I overdo things.  Anyhow, this has Charlie (Beat So Lonely) Sexton, hooking with Doyle Bramhall II with Double Trouble and having Little Steven produce the album.  Tonio K (Life In The Foodchain) helped on the lyrics so this is actually a mini supergroup if you think about it. Unfortunately, this band didn't last, Sexton went solo and helped Bob Dylan, Bramhall moved on the play in Eric Clapton band and Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughn's rhythm section would formed another mini supergroup with David Grissom called Storyville and made a couple of so so albums for Atlantic's Code Blue Label.

5. 25 Or 6 To 4-Chicago 1970  If you were a listener of AM radio back in the early 70s you got to hear plenty of Chicago and this was the first song that I ever brought from them in the 29 cent bins at the old Arlan's down the road in Cedar Rapids.  I used to remember that they have a much bigger record selection than K Mart to which at that time both places were where I went to buy music.  Prior to 1975, I didn't take care of my records, most of them you threw away the sleeve and stick it on these wire storage units and then the dust bunnies would take over.  Or they all got thrown in the box and ended up getting many scratches and some even got broken.  When I was over at my folks I was sorting through the ones that I could salvage and still play and this one is in better shape than the majority of them. From 1970 to 1978 Chicago managed to have least one hit in the top ten charts and of course most of them still get regular play on classic oldies stations.  Then the hits dried up and then with the help of David Foster got them back on the charts in the mid 80s with more of a keyboard sound than horns which made me less of a fan.  Basically after Terry Kath's ill fated date with a gun, Chicago was never quite the same either.  The guy could play a mean lead guitar.

6.  White Lies, Blue Eyes-Bullet 1971  I know my friend Tad, enjoys this one hit wonder as much as I do. Imagine my surprise of finding the 45 up at the Half Priced Books In Madison last week but can be found on Rhino's now out of print Have A Nice Day Series Volume 7.  Actually I thought about doing a top ten of the week of 45 singles but since I started adding album cuts decided to forgo that for a while.  Last time I did that, a tribute to the 45 singles, the ratings took a dive.  Perhaps I should do a top ten downloaded song blog? Maybe that will stir up ratings.  This just in, Keanu Reeves says there's going be a new Bill & Ted 3 is forthcoming.  Fuck me running.

7.  Let It Roll-Mel McDaniel 1986  Another country star off the great Grand Ole Opry in the skies, Mel had his big moments in the mid 80s for Capitol and my GF says Old Man River is her favorite song.  Mine might be Stand Up, or Louisiana Saturday Night but he does a credible Chuck Berry cover of this song.

8.  Heartbreaker-Joe Bonamassa 2011  Imagine my surprise on his new album Dust Bowl that he covered this song from Free and he does sound a bit like Paul Rodgers and was just about floored.  Imagine my disappointment when he bought in over the top screamer Glenn Hughes to ruin this.  Does it sound like I'm anti Hughes?  Not exactly, in fact I liked some of his stuff in Deep Purple when David Coverdale couldn't hit those high notes, at that time Coverdale was a more smokier singer, Hughes has always been a screamer in Trapeze (You Are The Music, We're Just The Band) which managed to record for the Moody Blues' Threshold label.  Hughes tends to grate on my nerves when he overdoes his screaming for the high notes. Anyway, the new Bonamassa Dust Bowl album is worth getting, it's a bit more rock and roll than the blues that he's known for.  Guess being in Black Country Communion has gotten him to rock out.  Look for the 2nd BCC album later in the year.  BTW, I did like Hughes' remake of Medusa on the first album.

9.  Alligater_Aulator_Autopilot_Antimatter-REM 2011 GD Mike Stripe makes these song titles easy don't he?  That's how it spells out on the latest from REM with a cameo from the usually annoying Peaches who actually blends into the song.  And doesn't use the F bomb for a change.  Has she been born again?  While some people think this album is a throwback to Out Of Time or Automatic For The People, I don't hear that.  There's too many harder rocking songs such as AAAA (don't ask me to type that out again).  It's more of an extension of the sound they has on Accelerate (how come this song didn't make that album since AAAA is more in tune with   Accelerate.  Collapse Into Now is a worthy followup and the more I listen to it the more it sounds better.  Maybe it is the answer record to Out Of Time.  But knowing REM and how they operate, I doubt it.

10.  Bad To The Bone-George Thorogood & The Destroyers 1982  This song didn't take off till Stephen King used it on the horror movie Christine, about a possessed car that enslaves their owner.  Possessed car that would kill anybody who did it damage or ones who flicked their cigar ashes in it.  Seen it originally at a drive in here in the early 80s and it scared the hell out of me till I got used to seeing it on TV.  Back in the early daze of MTV (when they were showing music videos rather than being another shit reality channel) this was one of the early videos to which big bad Bo Diddley played himself and ole George wows him in a big game of pool.  In terms of theory, classic rock radio plays the hell out this song but it is the highlight of that album.  Back then, George was heavily into Chuck Berry and John Lee Hooker got a minor hit of a remake of Nobody But Me, the old Isley Brothers song later covered by The Human Beinz.  But each album, Thorogood would moved a bit further from the Elmore James/Chuck Berry/John Lee Hooker tribute album to more of a updated sound and music from others.  In fact, he would make a good DJ in terms of what he plays.  Maybe some day XM Sirius will let him have his own hour long short.  Betcha it would be ba ba ba baddd.

That's this week's top ten. What I'm working on in the common blogs are the continuation of Music Of My Years, more album reviews and what else comes to mind.  I have kinda been taking it easy the past week but rest assured that I have been keeping up to date to reading all of your blogs out in Blogspot and making a comment or two.  Thanks everybody for your comments and keeping my blog career going for at least another week or two.  It's always a work in progress.

Finally, 17 years ago this date: Kurt Cobain blasted himself into oblivion.  Everybody knew this was going to happen.  The first thing that came into my mind when In Utero came out was this dude is going to off himself.  That album always seemed to me to be his suicide note, especially after the feedback laden All Apologies.  I'm sure you the listener probably didn't think that way but I think it was the only album I have listened to and said afterward, this is the final statement.  On April 5th, Cobain blew his face off and you can make a good argument that the music truly died on that day.  Even though Nirvana broke up on that shotgun blast, Dave Grohl has a new Foo Fighters album out to which he reunites with Butch Vig as Producer and the bass player on a couple songs and Pat Smear too.  Probably as close to a Nirvana meeting as it will ever get unless Courtney Love gets involved which won't be the case.    But it was also 30 years go this date that Bob Hite, the big harmonica player and singer of Canned Heat passed away from a heart attack at age 36.  Hite was rumoured to have one of the largest record collection of blues 78s from the past and Canned Heat was taken from a old Tommy Johnson blues song.  In their heyday, Canned Heat was one of the better blues rock bands lead by Al Wilson's great guitar work but sadly he had an sad fate too.

Hite was a giant of a man, weighing over 350 pounds but the man was a walking and talking blues historian and would talk blues till the light of day. The best Canned Heat record to me remains 1970's Future Blues which has the stomping cover of Let's Work Together.  Highly recommended.