Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Top Ten Of The Week-Sting Ray Bikes Are Go!

I noticed Bob Lefsetz has another wild hair up his crosshairs about music again.  Ya sure you're not getting Alzheimer's Bob bro?

Where were you on May 15, 1968?  If you were in Charles City, this is what greeted you at around 4:50 in the afternoon.  At that time, we were living up in Waterloo, and I remembered it being a very humid day and had a very bad belly ache.  We had a tornado warning and Dad marched us into the basement, mom was out doing errands.  To the north and west a F5 monster slammed into downtown Charles City and later onward to Elma.  13 people lost their lives in this monster tornado.  An hour later, another F5 tornado tore through Oelwein and killed 4 people there including a Mrs Grace Damon who went back to retreieve her purse to her apartment.  Somehow Waterloo in between got spared during that day of the F5 tornadoes. Caused by, you guessed it, another stalled out front and the Gulf of Mexico throwing moisture laded unstabled air into the region. I think I hated stalled fronts back then too. .

Death never takes a holiday off.  Chuck Muncie, one of the best running backs that the Chargers had in the Air Coryell, Dan Fouts era has passed away from a heart attack  He was 60

Al Fitz, was the inventor of the Sting Ray.  If you grew up in the 60s and early 70s most everybody you knew had Sting Rays as bicycles.  Mine was an old piss yellow Sting Ray that my dad bought for five dollars and revived it so I could go tooling around Marion.  I remember Jeff Kewley, had a beautiful blue five speed Sting Ray that he bent the frame trying to jump that infamous hill in the church parking lot next to Longfellow School in Marion.  My best friend Russ had a orange Sting Ray. Fitz passed from a stroke at age 88.

1.  Climb Up On My Music-Rodriguez 1971  You gotta love the internet for certain people to rediscover musicians that didn't sell anything here but became rock star legends in off the wall places.  The guy's name is Sixto Rodriguez and he made two highly regarded but poor selling albums for Sussex (later issued via Light In The Attic) that sounded like Jose Feliciano with a Bob Dylan fixtation although the sticker says it's more like if Dylan was hispanic and listened to MC5 this would be the result.  There's a movie that came out on DVD that showcased two big fans who discovered Sixto's albums and made it a point to seek him out and it's called Searching For Sugarman and Legacy cherry picked songs for a soundtrack that serves a pretty good introduction.  And then I found his second album Coming From Reality up in Madison and played it twice in a row.   Produced by Steve Rowland of The Family Dogg fame and includes Chris Spedding on guitar.  The rediscovery of Sixto has paid off for he is once again touring on a limited basis and even though he might get a nice healthy pay from all of this, his down to earth demeanor has basically had him giving off to friends and family and whatever nonprofit groups that he believes in.   While Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones bitching about not having enough money and wanting 600 dollar concert tickets, Sixto shares his wealth around and lives life to the fullest.  Too bad it took the world 42 years and a couple of big fans to get us to hear the songs of Rodriguez.  To which when Bob Lefsetz cries about how albums, Cds and music are irrelevant in this day and age, makes you want to tell Mr. Lefsetz to keep his opinions to himself.

2.  Milk It-Nirvana 1993  Poor Rolling Stone Mag, they put together a list of the worst band of the 90s and although they have no problem with most of them, until Nirvana was put at number 5 and then Rolling Stone popped a tampon and calling the fans wrong on that.  Look, every band has their fans and their critics and some love them, some don't.  RS didn't have a problem when Creed was voted Number1 crap band of the 90s and Nickleback a close 2nd (My opinion remains Limp Bizkit worst band ever at number 1, Creed 2).  When you dream up a top ten of all time anything, you bound to leave off other dubious bands of note be it best band or worst and it's all opinion.  Ever seen the recent Rolling Stone Record review book to which Mr. I Hate The 70s Prog Rock Funny Guy Rob Sheffield bashed everything from Journey or Kansas?  It's out of your league boy, leave that to people who like Kansas or Journey.  Back to Nirvana, they broke big with Nevermind and then followed it up with the glop that is In Utero which foretold me of a future meeting with Kurt Cobain and a shotgun when I first heard it in September of 93.  I had this cd once but since Pawn America had it for 50 cents, I decided to revisit it again and Steve Albini's really outdid himself on the mix (too bad he fucked up the Page/Plant Walking To Clarksdale reunion CD five years later).  In Utero remains a A minus album for myself, for screaming and feedback galore you can't beat it but that reason alone might get them placed in the top ten worst bands of the 90s.  Do I think Nirvana is one of the worst bands of the 90s, no I like them fine but people's opinions vary.  After all it is a reader's poll.

3.  Comedown-Bush 1994  And now the Number 7 worst band of the 90s from Rolling Stone who didn't have a problem with them making a list.  I guess they didn't like the Nirvana like sound of 16 Stone. That's what you get from a Reader's Poll.  Gavin Rossdale can be an acquired taste for even the casual Bush fan and as I spent most of this year revisiting the albums of Bush from the dollar bins in town and their albums remains very chaotic and uneven, even 16 stone suffers from that although the years have treated it better than the Steve Albini mess that was Razorblade Suitcase.  16 Stone remains one of those few 90s albums that KRNA will play from time to time and you can guess which songs they do play off that.  I already gave you a clue on one of the songs.

4.  I Want To Go Somewhere-Keith Stegall 1985  Another dollar album classic, Stegall made a S/T debut for Epic/CBS in the mid 80s and he had shown a sound that was like Eddy Raven or Gary Morris and Keith had a couple singles that dented the country 100 but the record bombed but Stegall hung around Nashville and eventually one of the more in demand producers of Country Music today.  But had his record label promoted him better, he could have gone places as well.  He made a followup for Mercury in the 1990s that had same results, good reviews no sales, so he didn't give up his day job as producer.  Alan Jackson's best stuff is produced by Keith.

5.  Good Lovin-It's A Beautiful Day 1970  Hippie Dippy freaks that they were, IABD was another band that was managed and mangled by the infamous Matthew Katz to which had he not had his hooks in this band and Moby Grape, that their best albums would still be in print. Found their 2 on 1 cd in the used bins during an Arizona bargain hunt and even though IABD may have been the least of the San Francisco jam band scene (Jefferson Airplane The Grateful Dead and Quicksliver Messenger Service had better musicians) I find that they had their share of good songs as well, kinda of a strange vocal mix but it does sound good when you're toking up a fatty.

6.  Good Morning, Good Morning-The Beatles 1967  Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for 50 cents? Don't mind if I do.  And if Pawn America had Dark Side Of The Moon that cheap as well I would have ponied up too.  But sad to say, Pawn America's big CD section has gone from from 4 aisles down to a one an a half and a lot of the stuff that was there may have been taken to a local landfill.  Who do they think they are Wal Mart?  Last time I was there, they didn't have much to offer and what I did buy, I donated back soon afterwards but this is why I stop in there when I'm in the neighborhood, they had plenty of Johnny Cash and a few other oddities.  They also had the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack but I passed on that, it had a few more scratches than I would like but the Sgt Pepper CD was in like new shape.  I don't think it's the best album of all time but it's still very good.

7.  The Part I Know By Heart-Foster & Lloyd 1987  The A side was Crazy Over You which ushered in the Boot Scoot Era to which Brooks and Dunn would lay claim five years later but Foster And Lloyd did Crazy Over You better.  That was country but the B side The Part I Know By Heart is power pop, certainly not country to these ears.  Guess which side I enjoy most.

8.  You Can't Have Everything-Grant McLennan 1991  The late great G.W. was part of the notorious Go Betweens which made a few albums in the late 80s and featured the pop rock sensibilities of McLennan  who was Lou Reed to the John Cale avart garde of Robert Forrester whose album Danger In The Past I found before getting McLennan's Watershed album and basically I figured right on Grant being more alternative rock  Basically on the Money Is No Answer comp that RCA put out to showcase the Beggar's Banquet bands which enabled me to seek out the good (McLennan, The Dylans, The Charlatans UK) and alas the not so good (Carnival Art, Buffalo Tom). Later in the new century, The Go Betweens reunited and made an couple albums before McLennan passed away.

9.  Last Bookstore In Town-Graham Parker & The Rumour 2012  I think I reported about Graham reuniting with his old pub rocking band last year and they made the first GP/Rumour album together since Squeezing Out Sparks back in 1979, called Three Chords Good and of course took me forever to get a copy of the new album.  Score one for the Senior Citizen Rock and the AARP who continue to send me cards about signing up to be a member of AARP to which I won't be doing that till I get a GD senior citizen discount at Perkins.  Maybe then we'll talk about it then.  Not now.  Anyway, Three Chords Good is now flat out rock and pub like the Mercury/Arista years and the record goes on too long but welcome back any ya old geezers.

10.  Feel So Good-Jefferson Airplane 1971  The Airplane was crashing by this time, Paul Kantner was going further and further into space, Grace Slick was singing songs in German and the album Bark was a mess of an album but the best songs came from  Jorma Kauknoen this and Third Week In The Chelsea. Jorma spends most of his time with Hot Tuna which is on tour but the old crank is very particular about not recording his shows or taking pictures.

Just when you think you had enough...

Diamond Smiles-The Boomtown Rats 1979
Orange Blossom Special-Johnny Cash 1965
It'll Only Hurt For A Little While-Dave Clark Five 1966
Fool's Gold-Fitz And The Tantrums 2013
Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses-U2 1991


The Browns-Complete Pop And Country Hits (Real Gone)

Give Gordon Anderson credit, he has done a helluva job keeping the memory alive of some bands when he formed the missed Collector's Choice label and now Real Gone, to which he has reissued and kept some of the C.C. back catalog in print by taking them over to RGM after leaving Collector's Choice, which is still a very good place to order music that you don't see at any local music store here.  Originally The Complete Hits, Anderson adds three more songs to that album (Teen Ex, which somehow didn't make the CC album tsk tsk, Blue Christmas, Ground Hog are the add ons).  The Browns was Jim Ed Brown and his sisters Maxine and Bonnie had a sweet and perfect harmony to their music and even the mundane songs of that time sounded good at that time. Early country hits like Looking Back To See and I Hear The Bluebirds Sing gave way to the beginnings of The Nashville Sound although in my lifetime Dick Flood's Three Bells got more airplay on the pop charts whereas the Browns version made the country top ten.  With Real Gone reissuing The Browns Complete Hits, this does blow away the Eric version which overdoes it on the sappy ballads and even though their country hits begin to wind down in the mid 60s they still managed to score a keeper here (Oh No) and a failed attempt for the hippie generation (Coming Back To You). Jim Ed Brown would go on to a successful country career (Pop A Pop, Bottle Bottle)

Grade B+

Pick hits: Looking Back To See, Oh No

Mark Lindsay-The Complete Columbia Singles (Real Gone)

When he was with Paul Revere And The Raiders, he rocked out with a little bit of soul but as solo artist, he headed down the middle of the road to be Gary Puckett and working with Jerry Fuller (The Union Gap) Lindsay patented the hushed verses and bombastic chorus which gave him a hit with Arizona and later Silver Bird.  Lindsay makes little attempt to rock out and given as a whole TCCS tends to put you to sleep with all this MOR pop and dated production but nevertheless Lindsay had some great session guys playing (Hal Blaine and even the doomed Jim Gordon plays drums) along. There's some attempts to hurry the beat up, I wouldn't say it's rocking out, it's kinda like what The Raiders were doing but I don't think Paul would approved of the odious Alan O Day comp Are You Old Enough and The Grassroots did a better version of Mamacita but Lindsay does a fine version of Neil Diamond's And The Grass Pays No Mind and the beautiful closer Photograph.

Grade B-
Pick Hits: Arizona, Silver Bird

Rodriguez-Looking For Sugarman (Light In The Attic/Legacy)

Getting late to the game Sixto Rodriguez (how many times I typed that name in and put a fucking q in it instead of g) made two albums for Sussex in the 70s that got no airplay and no sales in the US but in South America he became their version of a Dylan/Elvis and his albums went for big bucks on the net before Light In The Attic reissued them in 2009.  But this is the reason why we continue to listen to albums since Bob Lefsetz thinks the album should be canned and everybody should be streaming music through the big juke box in the sky.  Fuck that and fuck him.  Anyway two fans of Sixto R went out on a venture and seeking out the man himself and made a movie out of it that is now on DVD and a must see.  Turns out the Sixto didn't disappear, he simply stayed in Detroit and learned a trade and worked on through life and the usual shit that happens.  Looking For Sugarman cherry picks selections from Sixto's 2 albums and while universal praise is on the first one Cold Fact, Coming From Reality in my opinion is better, it benefits from Steve Rowland's production as Sixto commands the listener to climb on my music and my songs will set you free.  But that one is not on the overview, Adam Bock going with the more controversial stuff A Most Disgusting  Song (which Sixto proclaims he's played at every faggot bar, hooker bars, motorcycle funerals, etc and introduces seedy characters later in song) and Cause, (the immoral line I talked To Jesus at the sewer and the pope said it was none of his GD business, pretty heady stuff even in 1971).  Cold Fact is as raw and rough as the Detroit streets that Sixto lives and still does today, and even employed some of Motown's finest on that record, after all Dennis Coffey produced and Bob Babbit played bass (it sounds like him).

But even though Sixto's music may have been rough and raw, all his songs convey of hope even during the poorest of times and even though he toiled in obscurity for the 42 years after Coming After Reality, the stars aligned just right for him to get the well deserved kudos even though Clarance Advant fucked him over royalties, Sixto never rant and raved about it (unlike Ronnie Wood pissed off about people not paying 600 dollars to see 70 year old rockers screaming about getting no satisfaction, should have not bought all that booze and smokes then woody).  Like the late Howard Tate, Rodruguez never went away, he was always here but this time out with the success of the movie Searching For Sugarman and the rediscovery of his two albums and this overview, he sounds like Jose Feliciano after listening to Dylan after a night of Motown.  The MC5 reference on the cover of Coming From Reality I don't get but Sixto did share the 5's recording engineer on the final three sides he recorded with Coffey/Theodore before getting a real job to pay the bills.  At least on the SFS soundtrack, Sixto is finally getting some royalty money for spreading the good word.  42 years later, his music still blows most of the new bands and artists out of the water.

Grade A-
Pick Hits: Cause, Street Boy, Can't Get Away

The Sixto Rodriguez albums of note:

Cold Fact (Light In The Attic/Sussex 1970) A-
Coming From Reality (Light In The Attic/Sussex 1971) A

Counterpoint from Mark Prindle:

I just watched the documentary "Searching for Sugar Man." It was incredibly inspiring and Rodriguez seems like a standup guy, so it's great to hear that he is now finding the fame that so eluded him in the early '70s.

Having said that, his music is terrible. I can't figure out what the heck all those South Africans hear in it. Just sounds like James Taylor crap to me.


TAD said...

Crabby: I've got the 1st 2 Beautiful Day albums & I don't remember "Good Lovin'." Course I hardly remember any of the 2nd album, so I guess I'll havta look again....
Uncle Bob Lefsetz IS amusing 2 read, but he is REALLY hung-up-on Being Current, being cutting-edge, etc., which means his use 2 me is fairly minimal cos I'm 2 busy looking backward. + I'm not some struggling young whiny starving snot-nosed 19-year-old musician trying 2 get my music heard....
But I DO think when Bob starts talking about how you need more of a drive than simply Wanting To Be Famous, that you absolutely must have Something To Say, THEN I think he's on2 something.
The resta the time I couldn't care less about his recommendations of What To Buy or what's the best phone or internet or music-streaming or video-streaming service 2 buy in2. Couldn't care less.
I spose Keeping Current is important if you're still A Player in The Business, but how many of us are, or want to be?
What're his credentials anyway? Some former record-company guy now retired cos he couldn't cut it? Guess I'm gonna havta look him up. Bet he's gotta Wikipedia page....

R S Crabb said...

Lefsetz used to be a A/R director for Sanctuary Records but the only band he did that for was WASP and Blackie Lawless thought Bob's pick for a single sucked so Lawless fired him on the spot. Bob's likes to think he's one of the important figures of music with his blogs and at times I like his choice of music but don't like his continuing to bitch and moan about records being passe and streaming things is the future. For him maybe, not you and I that still love to have albums in our hands reading the notes and holding them. I have no use for the latest I Phone which is outdated the next year. But i'm sure he's sick and tired of having musicians emailing him their music and saying they're the next big which they're not.

I had the It's A Beautiful Day cd for a couple years and couldn't find it in my vast collecting of hoarding things. The first album and Marrying Maiden still has some songs that hold up very well and Good Lovin sounded good when i was playing it at work the other day so thought I give that a shout out. Good thing I got the CD, cuz we all know those records are not streaming on those music sites that the almighty Bob raves about.

One thing we know more than he does, good music that nobody knows about. Course it helps if you keep an open mind too. Cheers! ;)

TAD said...

Happy Anniversary, & BTW, Ivy Doomkitty is HOTT! More, please....

R S Crabb said...

Ivy changed her hair to candy apple red. I don't really like it much, but she's still a beauty.