Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fun With Scratchy Records 3-Dress Them Up Ready To Show

Some of my favorite 45s over the years and some came from previous Singles Going Steady blogs.

Records and their sleeves can tell a story of where they have been or where they come from.  A few may been seen on various 45 sites but these come from my personal collection and of course from Goodwill.  I suppose it's a case of nostalgia but before everything became throwaway, the labels actually would take time to make some kind of art work to store their 45s or tout their wares.

The Animals Gonna Send You Back To Walker may have not been the first forty five I ever bought but it was the first single that I remembered and loved.  Too bad after hearing it the first time, I ended up breaking it and it would take 40 years for me to locate a excellent copy.  The wonders of EBAY.

King Flash I brought years ago from the long ago forgotten Salvation Army in uptown Marion, where the elderly lady would call me the record boy when I pop in to buy cheap 45s.  This record has actually held up very well over the years, before 1973 and before I started taking care of 45s and leaving them in their sleeves.  The Leo Greco Dot 45, is a tribute to the now departed Leo, who hosted the Czech Party on Sunday Mornings on various channels.  Leo made a few polka theme albums but he managed to record a single and album for Dot Records.  And of course Roy Hamilton, Don't Let Go, a fun late 50s R and B boogie number with the late great Jesse Stone doing the arrangements.

If only the record sleeves to tell the story of where they been and how they got into my collection.

DISCLAIMER: I didn't pay 88 cents for the King Flash 45, this actually comes from another record, Herman's Hermits Can't You Feel My Heartbeat.  For camp value I left the price tag on the sleeve.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Singles Going Steady 21-Leftovers

The vinyl revival has hit big time in the thrift stores and specialty antique store that trying to find anything decent and not scratched beyond repair is becoming a chore upon itself.  I think at this point that I'm more interested in seeing what people are buying nowadays than I do myself.  In fact, I thought I saw my own clone self at Half Priced Books buying a Friends Of Distinction Friends LP (It has Love Or Let Me Be Lonely their best song over Grazing In The Grass) and an Mason Profit LP as well.  This is the kind of dude that I want to party with.  Or the good looking babe buying Eagles Greatest Hits in Moline and knowing I'll never meet her again. I could care less about Bob Lefsetz and his trying to stay hip to the times by naming a Luke Bryan song his single of the year, betcha can't get it on a 45 can ya Grand Dad?

In a era long ago discarded and outdated, I still look at 45s to be the original source of hearing it as it's supposed to sound, even though the record may be full of scratches and been played to death. I try to find the VG to Mint 7 inch plastic ones with the big hole in the middle.  I wouldn't say that the finds of 2014 were the best in years, that wonderful sunshine day of late August, turned out that the things found was the best overall that I ever had.  Never again will I see naked VG copies of Bob Dylan's red vinyl single and Buddy Holly and Sam Cooke's DJ promos in one setting again.   That fluke alone is the highlight of this year and nothing comes close.  St Louis had the more varied records and cost more; even FYE had a couple of hard to find 45s at two dollars apiece.  If the owner of Record Exchange would have let me, I would have gladly spent the night going through that gigantic 45's of paradise upstairs.

Elsewhere it was the usual hit and miss outside of Davenport this summer.  It's not unusual to find a few old jukebox copies of stuff once in a while.  Teens my age back in the 70s now have given their collection to the thrift store, and most of them I thumb through and put back but once in a while something different will be found and I will document it in this Series dedicated to 45s  that now have reached 21.  My version of look what I found show and tell, to which kids in my grade school what the hell I was on when I showed them a copy of Inside Looking Out by The Animals and having the teacher play it. That's probably not true but I do know that my fifth grade teacher did play Family Of Man by 3 Dog Night during a show and tell of records.

So basically this blog is dedicated to things left off from the St Louis and Davenport finds, plus a couple things found this weekend while somebody brought up some old scratchy ones without sleeves but with a history to tell.  If the scanner works, I fire off the best ones, but the last time I posted my own pics from other sites, the damn pictures went missing.  I have no idea what the offense of The Marvellettes Strange I Know that made it disappear but I did get that picture back up and hopefully it will stay there.  But then again Google can't be trusted. (Box of records photo taken at Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis)

So, here's another edition of Look What I Found Show And Tell 2014, the final one for this year.

1.   Let Me In/Bouncing Bass-The Sessions 1965  (Fontana F-1529)  Look hard enough and you can find a old worn out DJ promo years ago and then research your find and have it come up with some interesting information.  When I found this forgotten 45, I have no idea about this, I brought it on knowing the producer of this song went on to produce early Deep Purple and Wishbone Ash first couple albums.  And then looking it up and finding that this was a minor supergroup of future rockers.  Miki Dallon who wrote this song went on to The Sorrows and did a remake of this song.  Chas Hodges played bass and Nicki Hopkins is on piano, Hopkins the better known for session work with The Kinks, The Who and The Rolling Stones and many other bands. The main guitarist is Richie Blackmore originally from The Outlaws (of Joe Meek fame) and playing a very distinct guitar lead, which he continued to use in the first lineup of Deep Purple.  Consider this effort to be either UK garage rock or freak beat.  And of course it didn't chart.  B side is Bouncing Bass, to which Hodges channels his inner Duane Eddy, had Eddy played bass.  A curio.

2.  The Joker/King Lonely The Blue-Bitter End Singers  1965  (Mercury 72469)  Another interesting artifact from 1965 (seems to be a big year for singles don't ya think?) The Bitter End Singers were another folk vocal band in the style of New Christy Minstrels although not as successful.  I gather The Joker was the A side, but I tend to favor the catchy King Lonely The Blue.  One of the 18 singles that were brought during the big find of August in Davenport.  To which I still have to marvel at the fact that while none of these singles had sleeves and may have been out in the open, they were in very fine playing condition.

3.   88 Lines About 44 Women-The Nails 1984  (RCA PB-14084)  This year, I didn't buy a whole lot of 45s at the local Half Priced Bookstore in town, there simply wasn't much of a selection, a lot of the better 45s didn't stick around long enough.  Earlier in the month, I found two of them, Akasha's 1977 (copyrighted 1979)  Let's Hear It For The Man (Akashic SH 53), which became the talk of the town a Facebook page.  And the other from this oddball band from down under which got airplay on the alternative and college rock stations but didn't make the chart. Further research shows that it made number 46 on the dance pop chart.  The Nails would be heard from again, with a remake of Let It All Hang Out a year later, then faded from view.

4.  Gurney Slade-Max Harris 1960  (Atco 45-6187)  From a forgotten British movie The Strange World Of Gurney Slade featuring Anthony Newley which sowed the seeds of the likes of Do Not Adjust Your Set and later Monty Python the opening theme is beat nik jazz beginning with a tic toc drum beat, keyboards somewhat like Dave Brubeck and a flute that cool to hear.  I've only seen the Fontana import 45 of said song.  Gurney Slade, the TV show, was way ahead of its time, even to the point that when aired nobody laughed at the skits but they do remember the theme music.  Harris passed away in 2004.

5.  Mr. Farmer-The Seeds  1967 (GNP Crescendo GNP-383)  This record has seen much better days and probably would be more at home on the Destroyed Records blog since I can't play it no more.  A while ago, there was a grocery store in Webster City that sold records for a 19 cents or something like that, basically off the wall labels, I think I got The Turtles as well The Challengers version of Wipe Out.  I recall this place had a lot of The Seeds 45s to which I knew nothing about.  I think I like Mr Farmer a lot better than Pushin Too Hard although this followup to Pushin' Too Hard only made it to number 86 in March of 67.  The real audiophiles out there will note that the single version differs from versions that made it to Rhino's Nuggets albums.  Record collectors site this as one of the collectable records to get.  Only wished I could have taken much better care of my stuff before I left the jackets on the records in the mid 70s.

6.  Trip To Moscow-Joe Bee 1972  (Stop  ST-402)  Country cut up record that somebody gave up earlier in the year that I found in Coralville (Coralville's Goodwill seems to have plenty of country LPs and 45s it seems).  Dickie Goodman was famous for cut in records and back then before music lawyers put a stop to this, it was a fun to hear goofy shit like Frankenstein or The Flying Saucers although most of that stuff has dated quite bad and makes a painful listening experience for more than 10 minutes.  This is an rarity, a cutup 45 that uses country music instead of rock.  Nothing comes up about Joe Bee, nor in the credits, perhaps in a attempt to hide incognito from the music copyright lawyers who would like a word with Mr. Bee. Outside of that, nothing remarkable about this song.

7.  The Boy Next Door-The Secrets 1963  (Phillips 40146)  It made up to number 18 on the charts in 63 but you don't hear it anywhere.  They were from Cleveland and were supposed to perform on American Bandstand before JFK's assassination canceled that performance.  They eventually became the last band to perform on Bandstand in 1964, the last band to do so before the show moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.

8.  Can't Let You Out Of My Sight-Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown 1965 (Wand 191)
      She Is Your Girl-The Pageants 1965 (Groove 58-0056)   

Basically a two for one special since both incorporates a Motown beat to these songs.  Both didn't do much on the charts, Jackson's sputtered up to 91 in August of 1965, whereas the Pageants did not chart.  Listening to both songs, Jackson with Maxine Brown was a bit more rocking.  B side was Don't Go written by future Motown writers and stars of their own Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Side note: The Pageants were produced by Joe Fogelsong, later head of Dot Records and more of a country producer.

9.  A Stranger In Your Town-The Shacklefords 1963 (Mercury 72112)  Number 70 chart position in 1963, but a more interesting band of the fact that it was Lee Hazelwood hooking up with Marty Cooper to make this single.  Hazlewood thought of this band to be like The Kingston Trio, in other words, a folk rock band that was the rage in 1963.  The Mercury album didn't do much on the charts. Later on Capitol would issue their second album, which somehow managed to be reissued on CD from Rev Ola.  A guest reviewer fills in the gaps.

10.  The Dodo-Jumpin' Gene Simmons 1964  (Hi 45-2080)  He hit number 11 with Haunted House but this followup only stumbled up to number 83 on the charts, probably sounding too close and similar to the earlier hit. This Jumping Gene no relation to the money making mongrel who is in KISS but you already knew that.

Additions: (brought to you by FYE)

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes-Blue Haze 1972  A&M 1357  A one hit wonder band that made an uptempo reggae type of song, but in essence reminds me more of what Sha Na Na or Flash Cadillac was doing, modernizing  music of the the golden age of rock and updating the sound.  But like Sha Na Na and Flash Cadillac, you never hear this song anymore.  I forgot all about it till I came across it on a KCRG Super 30 survey and finding a scratchy 45 at Goodwill.

Willie And The Hand Jive-Eric Clapton 1974 RSO 503  Followup to I Shot The Sheriff and didn't do as well.  And a song that classic rock radio doesn't play too often. B side Mainline Florida got some FM airplay back in the day but usually classic rock radio plays the overplayed and you can guess what songs they do play.

A Ray Of Hope-The Rascals 1969  Atlantic  2584  Another FYE find (they're not much of a place to buy 45s)  and another song you never hear on the radio anymore.  It's not on the Ultimate Rascals Collection but is on The Very Best Of The Rascals that Rhino updated a couple decades ago.  Too radical for oldies radio the reason why you don't hear it.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Good Riddence 2014

Never had I've seen a year that I wished would go away would be this year.  I thought that 2013 was bad enough, 2014 went one step further with one too many flooding rains and to top it all off, had a tornado that swept through this area and taking all of the trees down, knocking power off, and having 6 inches of rain in thirty minutes that flooded the basement and I lost about 100 CDs in the damn water.  Which lead to a big decision to waterproof the basement once and for all in October of this year.  Eight thousand dollars from the retirement fund and hopefully that the next rainy season next spring we won't have to worry about moving everything out of the basement that I did four times this year and the basement is still not in order.

The job situation wasn't much better.  Another Gordon meeting with the company idiot in June prompt yet another layoff and many people taking the buyouts, but what Mr Gordon didn't forsee that we had a shortage in help that almost made us miss important deadlines of meeting our contractual fulfillments, and a piss poor way of doing business.  The scanning department did made the move back up to Cedar Rapids and the year long paradise of being down in Iowa City went away with the usual paranoid practices and us being moved to other departments and doing the other departments' jobs while they sit on their collective asses and did little.  So much for showing that department how things were done in Iowa City, they don't work up here and alas my boss found that out the hard way as our privileges and perks were taken away by having things supposed to be kept secret fell into foreign ears and got back to their bosses.  Problem remains that the do nothings continue to get jobs and kudos while the working stiffs get stiffed.  The main person for town meetings retired, to replaced by none other than Gordon himself, which means more fucking layoffs for next year.  The bastards aren't happy till they sabotage everything we all worked up for.

The continuing problem of Record World is the disappearing of certain pictures, to which instead of replacing the pictures, I deleted the blog.  It seemed that just about everything that I posted in pictures have disappeared in various blogs and continues to suck the life out trying to maintain this blog.  Ivy Doomkitty had a few pictures gone, so did Samantha Fish and Bo Vixxen.  But what pisses me off is the disappearances of pictures that I took that I posted and disappeared.  I'm not sure if this is a Google thing or a Firefox thing or Chrome thing or whatever the fuck it was so basically i found the backup photos and kept them on my computer just in case.  I think it's more important to hang on the old 45s pictures then of some half naked eye candy.  Perhaps Record World got too close to Perez Hilton and TMZ territory, so basically the eye candy got shoved into the background and the emphasis was on music and records.  Which should have been the case in the first place.  I noticed on their Tumblr and Facebook sites that a lot of the eye candy babe were big complainers and whiners and basically wouldn't give you the time of day should you meet them.  I don't have time for that, I don't have much time to deal with whiners anyway.  The only woman who was kind enough to keep a smile on her face and acknowledged her fans was Ivy Doomkitty.  But the ones that I did my best to tout their work ended being less gracious and I quit touting their work, even though they might be one of the best upcoming blues guitar players out there. Still I continue to keep blogs of their importance, even on a cold January night that I didn't make it home.  It was a fun night before the car broke down and the year started on the downhill spiral, just like it did this year.  And just like me smacking the old silver POS car into the bumper of my brother's truck and had to pay 400 dollars to fix it.

The music scene this year was hampered by a major fire at 3rd Street Live/The Chrome Horse that shut down a major place to hear music and live bands.   A half year later and they still cleaning up the mess and there's hope that the bar will open up again sometime in the spring of 2015.  But Cedar Rapids still had their share of concerts, most notably Starship/Boston that sold out the Five Seasons Center, never mind the fact that Brad Delp left us 7 years prior.  Steve Earle played solo in Iowa City this summer and it turned out to be a good time.  But it was the only concert I went to.  Oh, and I wasted a couple nights trying to set in at the Bacon Jam but all I did was appear in the background for two seconds at the beginning of a show you can see on You Tube.  You'll have to search for it, I'm too tired to dig it up.  But this year we once again seen many music and movie stars leave this planet, from Lois Johnson (Loving You Will Never Grow Old her big hit in 1974), Phil Everly, Robin Williams, Bobby Keys, James Garner,  Ian McLagan and just last week Joe Cocker, just a few to say.  In my lifetime, two friends and classmates also passed on, classmate Mark Chalstrom and Steve Fry, the latter one of my better friends, a victim of Marlboro Reds.  A helluva guy.

This year people had the chance to change the government and get rid of the deadbeat conservatives, only the have most of them re-elected once again, the dreaded Mitch the Bitch McConnell, the fucking freakazoid Rick Scott of Florida, Scott Walker and some dick from Texas became Governor as well. Emperor for life Terry Branstad got to a record term as well although Brandstad is the lesser of all the mentioned above.  You couldn't escape the bullshit political ads from February to November to which new hack Joni Ernst beat Bruce Braley to replace Tom Harkin, who decided he was too old to run anymore.  And too bad Chuck Grassley won't do, retire.  But throughout the bullshit, the main story was seeing gas prices go under two dollars a gallon to 1.97 on the final week of 2014, before the GOP house and senate take over and mark my words, next year the price will be back to 4 dollars again.  And the usual do nothing cocksuckers in congress taking lobbyist money and kickbacks from Koch Industries and vote for money rather than common sense.

There were some highlights to this year although they were few and far between.  Perhaps the highlight was the August bargain hunt in Davenport that somehow I managed to find some ultimate 45s of long ago and far away, best described in the Davenport Bargain Hunts blog of late August.  This hard to believe find actually made me go back a week later to pick up the remaining ones that I left behind only to have them all gone by another collector.  But I'm sure that I picked the cream of the crop, the likes of which I will never ever see again in my lifetime.  It also planted a bright idea of me going to other thrift stores in the area to see if I could find more 45s and I racked up 200 more miles on the car and only finding roller rink skating 45s and country juke box 45s.  This year I only went to Madison twice this year and after the second time in July, I never did go back for the fall hunts, I went to St Louis instead and managed to spend 5 and a half hours at Record Exchange and blowing 50 dollars on scratchy 45s. 

The St Louis bargain hunt was the first time I was down there since 2009 and I welcomed the chance to hang at the Chain Of Rocks Bridge for a while.  But things have changed down there; the Missouri side was blocked off, so you had to cross the river to park on the Illinois side and the fire engine that was nicely restored and displayed about 10 years ago, is now scrapheap and tagged as well as other signs and the usual vandalism that associated with taggers and thugs who are hell bent on destroying things.  On a plus side, I did managed to be there on the day of a partial eclipse and took some pictures.  One place I did avoid was Ferguson, which was the scene of angry riots and burning and looting after a policeman shot and killed a black person down there, and that happened a few weeks after I was there.  Ferguson was out of the way so I didn't venture up there, but I did get lost in East St Louis, which is still a no man's land and somehow came out of that town, into the coal plants and dirty coal smell of Madison (Illinois)  and into Granite City which I did find a couple obscure stuff and 45s but not the haul that I had back in 2009.

In January, my old band Paraphernalia reunited on Facebook on a series of  photos of the old OK Lounge show that we did 30 years ago on the 7th of December.  Most everybody took part in the nostalgic trip, even Shawn Ster looked me up a few months later via Facebook.  As always there was talk about getting a band together but I tend to think my best friend dreams a lot about that ever happening again.  And I keep telling them, there's always the weekend jam we can go play at. Which seems to fall on deaf ears.  And in October I started up my own radio show Townedger Radio on the Lucky Star Radio Net Radio.  It's nice to hear songs that I want to hear instead of the usual 50 songs that The Fox will play on a infinite basis.  Corporate Radio Sucks.  But you already knew that.

And of course places come and they go.  FYE in Moline closed their doors, so did Apop in St. Louis. La Tequila changed owners and became Tequila House for about a month in Anamosa and closed, Si Senior in Mount Vernon got a change of owners and better food but perhaps the surprise was Frida Kahlo and their food in Solon.  Anamosa got Hacienda House (as well as Monticello, must be the same owners) in the location that used to be Hardee's.  And the return of Marco's Pizza in Cedar Rapids next to Family Video although this place doesn't have the pizza buffet at the former spot on First Avenue.  Also, my co worker and good friend Sonya Madden managed to have her daughter that she gave up for adoption years ago, come seek her out and they have bonded quite well over the years.  A happy ending to a crappy year so to speak.

And as the year winds down, I have had the flu and cold for the past couple days, another slap in the face by reality even though I got a flu shot, it never seems to fail that however much we try, we still get sick no matter what we do.

So this is where I ponder about what 2015 has in store for me and for you.  I hope next year will be a lot better than this year but I foresee more changes and perhaps even more passings from friends and musicians that I grew up listening to.  I also foresee  me continuing to find bargains in CDs and LPs and 45s when they become available and if I'm lucky to stumble upon them before the next collector gets them.  The vinyl revival of this year has even cause a lot of things being snapped up at the thrift stores and Half Priced Books.  Collectors and vinyl hounds are out there in droves.  When I think I have found it all, I found a couple more things that I wasn't aware of and then document them on this blog.  The Record World Blog in it's first year has done fairly well, I do very well in December as the last three years have indicated and even seeing a surge in readership in France has been a welcome change.  The past year, I have switched over to a playlist and just mentioning 10 things that I have been listening to on that week.  Next year there will be more focus on music and bands and not just a weekly playlist.  Since I have a net radio show Townedger Radio, I'll just post a playlist of that broadcast and leave it as a once a month thing.  I have been writing less, this year I only wrote up 100 blogs and took a month off a far cry from the 147 of last year.  I don't know if this will be a trend of doing less but whatever comes to mind or whatever band I want to spotlight or have a new Singles Going Steady, or ICON blog I'm sure I will do that.  But I'm also due for a new computer, this POS is outdated, has XP and hangs up way too many times and I have it for over 10 years now.  Which is hard to believe considering how much I'm on this thing.   I don't plan to invest in IPhones or Smartphones, I rather not do deal with texting with I'm with friends when we go out for supper.  I tend to live in the past and enjoy it more.  And God knows I spend way too much time on the internet.

Thanks to everybody who has continued to support this blog by reading this I thank you all, even if the ratings are a bit inflated.  Even though I don't have the high ratings of Bob Lefsetz I also like to believe that I'm not a stoic old crank like him who hates folks that buy vinyl but tries his best to jump on the bandwagon on bro country.  Each to their own.  But I try my best to remember the bands that got passed on, or were cult favorites and never made the limelight but once in a while I'll put up a blog of certain bands that get back to the original band members themselves and they'll point it out to their fans.  To the Swinging Steaks,  thanks for the shout out and posting the link of my blog.  If I can convert a new fan to their music then I done my job right then.  To 2000 Man and to Tad, you both have continued to support and comment from time to time. Another mission, to have chat with folks about music, which was the reason why I started this blog back in 2002.  And thanks to Drew and Rastro for their support as well.  And to Starman Dan and the wonderful Donna aka Brooksie, I miss you both.

Let's hope 2015 to be a better year than this one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas 2014

It's been a foggy, rainy dreary month here, unlike last year and below zero and 6 inches of snow on the ground.  Usually at this time of year we do have a typical snowstorm that makes travel a pain in the ass but not here.  East coast maybe.  And I think I'm coming down with a sore throat, not exactly what I want before Christmas but it's usually the rule and not the exception if somebody is sick in our family.

This year, once again I didn't find anything worth getting for Christmas tunes and although I did see an interesting Christmas CD in the cheap bins, it has God Rest Ye Gentlemen by Ronnie James Dio and something from REO Speedwagon but I didn't think it was worth buying.  Last decent Christmas CD I bought was Yuletunes.  No reason to post a playlist, just look up the Christmas 2013 playlist and that will do. Or let somebody else pick them:

The folks are getting more fussy to buy, so I ended up buying about 40 dollars worth of fudge for the old man and a Conway Twitty CD for mom and since my brother was having DVD problems, I picked up a DVD player for him as well. Made In China.  Which means it probably won't last but I have the same model I got about 4 years ago and it still plays.  My best friend and his wife would have loved Tequila but I thought getting them a Cracker Barrel gift certificate for her and a Guitar Center gift card for him would be better.  My other best friend got a card and three CDs of Train sounds, but have yet to hear from him.  Not asking for the world but You're welcome will do.

The world is full of surprises of course and this town out in the middle of nowhere has their share of feral cats running around.  I am not a cat person, especially when I go over to my best friend's house and deal with their set of deranged pussies, the old gray cat Smokey, now 17 years old and still psycho.  Always had a love/hate affair with it.  Cosmo, the more friendlier puss, though I think they pawned him off to their folks, he was a nice cat.  And there's Louie, the snow lion, whatever the fuck they are called.  Thank my mom for pawning him off to them when the old man was feeding the feral cats and one of them gave birth to kittens to which Louie was taken home.  Runs when company comes around and then glares from top of the steps.  Which explains why I don't visit much, can't stand him.  Getting back to the story, we have feral cats running around here.  However, the past weekend, there has been a gray youngster that's been hiding around the cars and I tried shooing it away.  She's not a feral cat, she might be a neighbor's cat, she might have been dropped off the highway by uncaring fucks and left to fend for herself.  I call it Callie. She's not a calico, I just like the name, she's gray with odd spots left and right.  She's a loving thing, rubs your leg and then jumps around wraps herself around your neck and purrs or gives you a catbath.  I take it over the neighbors and tell them to keep it in their yard but coming home guess who's waiting out in the rain?  Thought cats hate rain, this one doesn't.  The little shit had the audacity to jump in my nice clean car and the back seat and put paw prints on it.  She's not going to live long if she does stupid shit like that.  I talked to my brother about adopting it for our own but he's not for it.  Too much work.  Plus I have a waterbed.  I would not like to come home and see water all over the basement if Callie decided to exercise her claws on the bed.  Declawing would be the answer but I have been told that that inhumane to do that, even for house cats.  The next option is to either send it to my folks so they can take care of it, or take it to a animal shelter but the latter I'm not too keen on either.  Millions of cats and dogs get put to sleep after a certain time or if nobody adopts any of them.  Either way, I'm ready to smack the neighbors for not watching over their animals....if they can afford them.  And history has shown that they don't.

The rain reminds me more of late March or a cold Autumn rain and with freezing temperatures it turns the roads into an ice rink.  Which I found out all too well last Saturday night and almost went 20 feet down the Viola bypass hills, to which the smart minds at the IDOT took out the guard rails.  So I spent Sunday Night going to the carwash and spending 10 dollars to get the fucking sand and salt off my new car so it don't rust before the year is out.  And then the next day we get rain.  And the whole world and you readers know how much I hate rain, even after putting 8,000 dollars for waterproofing the basement.  Can't do nothing but bitch about the rain and history has shown I have done a fine job of that.

But I'm ready for Christmas to be over.  the malls are playing Christmas Music and so is KDAT and Jon Tesh, and I'm more interested in the radio station that plays Fear F**k Christmas than Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.  The child that used to live for Christmas mornings and paper will fly with his brother now pretty thinks it's all a bunch of commercialized bullshit.  And maybe it was then back when we were kids but we were all caught up in Rudolf The Red Nosed  Reindeer or A Charlie Brown Christmas to which I've seen the debut 50 years ago.   And sit and stare at our Christmas tree, with the blinking lights and the bubble lights as well.  And the old cardboard fire place that mom would say that Santa would come down from the chimney.  Man we were so gullible to believe in that.  But we have grown up, we never had kids or grandkids and the folks finally quit buying Christmas trees a couple years ago since nobody wanted to decorate it anymore.  It was pointless just to chop down a tree, decorate it and then throw it out on the 26th. The only we celebrate Christmas is the joy of being together one more time and to see if everybody can live to celebrate it again next year.

But we made it once again, although it will be a brown and muddy Christmas and even if we do get any snow, it won't be enough to cover the whole landscape.  Which is fine by me.

A Christmas time story:

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.  Whatever it means to you, it shall be.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Crabb Bits: Joe Cocker, Top 8 Rock Albums, Frida Kahlo, Akasha

Best rock lists are like assholes.  Everybody has an opinion    But first.

A couple more musicians passed away, Chip Young legendary guitarist who helped Billy Swann in Billy's hit making years passed away at age 76.  Chip also produced the novelty Ronnie Sessions single Wiggle Wiggle.

The big story is Joe Cocker who left us today at age 70, another victim of smoking and lung cancer.  Joe had a forty year plus career of major hits such as You Are So Beautiful, High Time We Went, Put Out The Light and of course known for the infamous Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour with Leon Russell providing valuable support.  Cocker did write did his own stuff (High Time We Went) but he was best known as covering other people's songs and turning them into hits,  With A Little Help From My Friends with Jimmy Page playing lead guitar,  Feeling Alright is considered to be the definite version of the Dave Mason song and You Are So Beautiful which Billy Preston wrote (never cared for that one myself but it was a big top ten hit in 1974-5). After Stingray, Joe moved over to Asylum for Luxury You Can Afford and onto Island which he made the cult classic Sheffield Steel.  A duet with the lovely Jennifer Warnes gave him a 1983 number 1 hit with Up Where We Belong.  Cocker returned to the spotlight by signing with Capitol Records and hanging with them for about 8 years, One Night Of Sin (1989) his last major hit album, despite the dated 80s production the album still holds up quite well, his last top ten (locally) When The Night Comes a song that Bryan Adams wrote and Charlie Midnight produced. Later recorded albums for Epic/550 Records, CMC International, New Door, Fantasy  and Savoy 429 Records.  His sand paper like vocals was one of a kind and memories do stand out,  his Woodstock show with The Grease Band, a very good band themselves, him being good humor enough to let the late John Belushi emulate him on a song on Saturday Night Show 40 years ago and being an all around nice guy.  There will never be another like Joe Cocker.  An original.

In no way this list is mine, it comes from the Daily 8 and they put together their idea of a best of.

My grades of their albums in order:

Bruce Springsteen-Born To Run A-
Pink Floyd-Dark Side Of The Moon B
Led Zeppelin-Houses Of The Holy A-
The Clash-Combat Rock B-
Beatles-Abbey Road A
Pearl Jam 10 B+
Grateful Dead-The Workingman's Dead A-
Deep Purple-Machine Head A

My friend Rastro didn't think much of the daily eight and gave us his version:

The argument about the B grade on Dark Side Of The Moon is that I never thought it rocked hard enough for me to really get my own copy, but classic rock radio continues to play a lot of tracks off it.  Plus I hated The Great Gig In The Sky from inception.  However I do dig Alan Parson's engineering and sound on the gold CD that came out years ago and those clocks stand out in the mix.  More freaky in it's 5.1 surround sound.  Combat Rock has always been The Clash weakest album, (Rock The Cabash, eeeccch) and radio overkills Should I Stay Or Should I Go.  The rest of the album never grew on me.

Classic and modern rock radio has overkilled the hits off all of these albums and I have a love hate affair with Pearl Jam's 10, to which I bought and donated back to Goodwill twice, most recently after hearing Jeremy and Alive four times in one day.  I originally gave ten a B minus/C plus then elevated up to B plus.  If anybody cares I'd recommend it but it's not something I'd pull off the shelf.  Same thing with Bruce Springsteen and Born To Run, I only bought a copy when Half Priced Books demoted it to the two dollar section after having about five of them unsold.  They are Japan reissues which is a bargain and Japan tends to take better mastering on their copies than the US counterpart. My favorite Zep is still...3, IV is the consensus favorite and Houses Of The Holy has a couple songs that drag.  Workingman's Dead is great, But I tend to favor American Beauty more.  But The Beatles and Deep Purple are just about perfect for these ears, of course we're all sick of Smoke On The Water, but anybody can play the riff.  Just an opinion.

Our friend Bob Lefsetz is bitching big time on his latest rant on the LA Times top ten best albums of 2014 and if he doesn't care what the folks think, why is he bitching about it. Top ten lists are just that, take them at face value, check out the videos on You Tube and decide for yourself.  He don't care about the new Dylan standards record, he don't care about us folk against anti streaming and if you don't think his way you don't belong.  Fuck that and fuck him.   Keep touting Spotify if you want Lefsetz, it has no meaning towards me.  Tout all you want about Luke and FGL but in five years nobody's going to remember the latter, maybe the former if he can get his head out of his autotuner butt. Jump on the band wagon when they're hot but when the record tanks, he'll be the first to jump off and go back to his 70s albums he grew up and still listens with.  in his words that I use when he rants about things like that, it makes me puke.  Big time.

Which leads into the next subject a Coralville Bargain Hunt that started in Amana to pick up some last minute Christmas gifts, some fudge for my fussy dad, and these things were not cheap, a half pound for 11.85 But they're oh so good.  Somehow on the way to Coralville I missed Highway 6 and ended up on a Gravel Road that took me back to highway 965 before the Iowa River.  In fact while taking a short cut it dawned on me that in order to get to Coralville you have to cross the Iowa River and I didn't, by then it was too late to turn around but I did managed to volley through the stop lights and ongoing road construction to Goodwill where I found a bunch of country albums of the 70s, some were even autographed by the artists. Somebody even threw away a copy of Grease to which both Olivia Newton John and John Travola signed the record.  I did pick up a couple of Porter Waggoner, one to which he actually signed and the rest were late 70s albums from Don Gibson, Roger Miller, Faron Young and Eddy Raven.  While explaining to the nice Asian lady cashier that when a couple of the albums had no price tags, I told her that country albums run about 1.88 (up from 1.38 due to the vinyl revival of this year) whereas rock albums have been 3.88 or more. Which was Heart's 1980 Bebe Le Strange was priced.  Somehow the Asian lady agreed with me that country doesn't sell and she sold them at 1.88, while wondering if they have no price tags they could be free.  Which is usually not the case.

Stuff Etc West in Coralville once again had plenty of CD choices to get and I bought six of them for a total of 9.25.  The best of the bunch was Mason Profit Come And Gone (One Way) and a Joe Vitale's 1980 Plantation Harbor (Wounded Bird) and the Kim Mitchell album with his hit Go For Soda on it.  And Willie Dixon's I Am The Blues (Columbia), the fifty cent discount one was Graham Parker & The Episodes Live From  New York (Razor & Tie) and some band called  The Frantics which I didn't know I had till I got it in the car.  I have to say that this year, I have continued to defy the odds and find music cheap and listenable, The Mason Profit completes my collection of that band's recorded output.  Willie Dixon, the late great writer of the blues songs that Led Zeppelin took as their own, made I Am The Blues for Columbia in the late 60s and it's something I wanted to hear since I never had.  I heard his 1989 Capitol Hidden Charms, he can write the songs and play mean acoustic bass but he never much of a singer.

After blowing about twenty dollars on 7 albums and 6 CDs, I decided to slip and slide on the way home and stopping in Solon for a new Mexican restaurant Frida Kahlo. 
I love Mexican food and I eat it more often than I do with pizza.  Fact of the matter is that we have more Mexican food places than Pizza nowadays it seems.  They opened up this summer and it would be a perfect place to eat at if I was still working at the old Pearson's place in Iowa City, they're down the road.  Frida Kahlo has now surpassed El Ranchero for the best place to get chips and salsa.  In fact their salsa is the best that I have had at any place here in Iowa.  Staff was very friendly and I like my spanish rice a bit more juicy. None of that dry as bullets crap.  The food was excellent.  Being in a small town such as Solon, that has another pretty good Mexican place (EL SOL)
can be of stiff competition; on a summer's night El Sol you can't get in before Frida Kahlo came into play.  And then closer to home we have El Senior in Mount Vernon, where I go to, since it's on the way to work. The lunch menu I can get in and out within a half hour and not be late for work.  All three are good, but in the end Frida Kahlo's salsa wins out if only to pick one.  Problem is Frida Kahlo is a bit further down the road, a but out of the way but since the best place in Anamosa closed down, I'm more inclined to head south.

Last week, I posted a picture of a long lost 45 from a local band called Madness, which were the best rocking band from Cedar Rapids in the late 70s early 80s.  They later changed their name to Akasha (due to a band called Madness that had a big hit with Our House and the ska flavored One Step Behind), but they had some great musicians, the great Don Timmons on drums, Tommy Bruner (who replaced Tim Canfield and later left himself), Billy Davis and Billy Watts, who played on Eric Burdon's When Your River Runs Day album of last year.  I found the 45 of theirs Let's Hear It For The Man and posted on a Cedar Rapids FB site and the photo jogged many a memory and even got comments from Gary Darling and Tom Bruner.  Bruner explains the band's beginning and history.

Bill Watts lives in Los Angeles and alternates playing with Teresa James and Eric Burdon & The Animals. Bill Davis lives in Kansas City and I believe is in the insurance industry now, though I'm not totally certain about that. Marty works at Overhead Door and I am told lives in Swisher. Gary Darling lives in Omaha, where he's played for years in a band called Fishheads and also does a solo acoustic act. Don Timmons is still around. I played with Don and Gary at one of the Parlor City jams earlier this year., and Gary sat in on one of my regular Sunday gigs at the Village Meat Market the same weekend. As for myself, I currently play in a classic pop show band called Past Masters (I call it my day job,) a four-piece rock band called Lab Rats, and various solo and duo gigs. I start working on my first solo CD in February.
I joined Madness in Feb. 1977. I left in July 1980 to take a year off to write (which didn't actually happen, as I joined another band sort of by accident.) About three or four weeks after I left they changed their name to Akasha. The Akasha album was called 'Thin Wire Balance' and featured three of my songs, though I was not involved in that project.

Contrary to rumor, we were never signed with Chrysalis Records. What happened was, they were ready to sign us and it's my understanding they had even drawn up a contract, when the Knack released "My Sharona," which went straight to number one. Suddenly, all the major record companies stopped signing bands that sounded like us and started looking for bands that sounded like The Knack.

We comprised the most well-known version of Madness, but we were not the original. The original lineup was: Bill Watts (guitar), Denny Ketelsen (Keyboards), Tim Canfield (bass), and Jeff Clark (drums), and that band was a spin-off from an eight-piece horn band called Brass Unlimited.

From Gary Darling: 

I played bass in Madness starting after Tim C. left. Actually I started as a sound man for Madness while Tim was still in the band. 1975. It was Bill, Marty, Don, and Me before Tom Bruner, and Billy Davis came in. Every few years a thread like this comes up, and I love seeing what time does to history, and how people remember happenings from that time. Everything I've seen here is fairly right on. As far as audio, all I can say is "This thing still plays?" Don Timmons used to have a good collection of live tapes. Some of that old stuff is great to hear.

As Akasha, they recorded Thin Wire Balance in 1982, which sold fairly well as a independent release. But the band broke up after new wave was the big thing and labels wanted to sing the new wave acts.  Don Timmons moved to Davenport for a while but has returned to the area and can be seen playing at various jam sessions in Cedar Rapids, as well as Tommy Bruner.   It is considered that Timmons is perhaps the best drummer in town, although he has been fighting health issues as well.  Not sure if the band is in the Iowa RnR HOF but Tim Canfield, the bass player is.(2011) 

Post Script:  While Thin Wire Balance turned out to be Akasha's only album release, they recorded a song called Madam Operator that was featured on what is rumored to be the first Iowa compilation called First Flight (Snowflake 1980)  which features some of the legendary musicians from the CR area.  The likes of Dennis McMurrian, Craig Erickson, Billy Lee Janey contributed songs with an Iowa theme.  Madness changed their name to Akasha due to a more famous ska punk band called Madness (One Step Beyond, Our House).  While Tommy Bruner did write Madam Operator, he left the band prior to them recording the song.  The lineup was Billy Watts (vocals, guitar), Billy Watts (Sax), Gary Darling (Bass), Marty Fauscher (keys) and Don Timmons (Drums).  While the record can still be found, somebody was kind enough to post this song on You Tube.  Here it is: 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Playlist: TE Radio 3, Rock HOF, Life Itself

Well, we didn't get the views for 12/13/14 blog as originally thought.  Last year the 11/12/13 blog got over 1200 views, this time out we only got 14.   So much for fads.  The end of year is coming up and some changes will be in store for next year.  Not sure what they will be but something of sort will continue on Record World.  I will continue to focus on my hobby job on Lucky Star Radio called Townedger Radio and will continue to do the playlist of the songs picked.  But I'm thinking the ten song playlist will be replaced by the once a month playlist of songs played that night.  I'm certainly not getting many comments about the playlist of songs like I once has.

The drawbacks of growing old is getting health issues be it chest pains, high BP or too much binge eating at the buffet.  Of course this time each year of the blog, I take an overall view and see if this is worth continuing. Most of my original core audience have gone on to other things or simply disappeared that either life happens or they find new loves and start families and have no time to read and comment or guest host.  Things do change in the 15 years that I have been on internet land.  And continue to do so till we all dead and gone and that remains is what is left up in net land.  And if I believe the ratings the archives do get looked at.  But I quit posting pictures (unless I have the pictures in possession, the ones that disappear come from Google) off the net unless I keep them on computer.  I'm basically tired of trying to replaced the missing ones with new pics.  And then watch them disappear as well.   In other words, what's the point.

Robert Christgau gives A grades to Miranda Lambert's Platinum and Drive By Truckers' English Oceans, not a surprise on the latter but is on the former although her album missed the 10 best by a couple points, not a big deal but she had a tad bit too many songs and a gimmick with Carrie Underwood that sounds more unfinished than half-baked. But we both agreed that Mike Cooley upping the ante in songs made it their best album in years.   As for his A plus of Wussy's Attica!'re on your own.

The 2015 rock and roll inductees this year seems to be bit more stronger than last year's.  Not phoney baloney rap acts thank God.  But it annoys me to see Stevie Ray Vaughan ignored over the years till a write in vote from people got him in,  who are more in tune with real music than Jann Wanner and the suits who dictate who gets in.  We can now say it's official: Stevie Ray Vaughan is now in, along with The 5 Royals, Bill Withers, Paul Butterfield Blues Band (his Elektra band years with Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop were classic), Joan Jett, Ringo Starr, Lou Reed (after he died of course, I'm sure Laurie Anderson will do a fine job standing in for him) and Green Day get their place in Hall Of Fame history.  Which leaves a few others outside looking in, (Deep Purple, Paul Revere And The Raiders, Yes, etc etc etc).  Like last year we'll put them in terms of my favorites.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

The last great pure Guitar playing rock and blues player before a helicopter crash took him away from us in 1990.  Since then we haven't a guitar player like Stevie that could sell music, Joe Bonamassa comes close but to me it was SRV and Double Trouble.   He got booed off the stage in Montreax during a blues fest which showed how clueless that crowd would be but won over Jackson Browne and David Bowie, who used him on the Let's Dance album.  The recording time Browne gave Stevie would turn into Texas Flood.  And then the legend grew.  Montreaux welcomed him back in 1985 with a standing ovation.  And Stevie overcame a vicious drug habit to the great comeback In Style album of 1989 which gave him classic rock classics as The House Is Rocking and Crossfire. And then jamming with Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy in Alpine Valley before that fate took him away from us.  I hold him in high regard with Hendrix.  That's saying something.

Green Day:

Snot nosed punks that started out like normal punks before getting Tre Cool on drums and reshaping their sound into something like The Who, Green Day is my favorite band of the 90s, Kerplunk showed what they could do with a crazy drummer and then came Dookie, which became a runaway seller. While Insomniac didn't catch on, I thought and still think it's their best to date.  They tripped over themselves on Nimrod but Warning showed they were growing up before our eyes, or their answer to The Who By Numbers.  Their International Superhits covers all the bases of hits, but they surprised the world with American Idiot, kind of a rock opera so to speak. The next album turned out to be their worst and perhaps their Uno Dos Tres albums released a month after each other could have been trimmed down to a be a solid album may have backfired in terms of record sales but it's Green Day as we know them.  Punks with a melodic heart.

Lou Reed:

Stolic old crank that made a career out of confronting and alienating his audience with albums such as Metal Machine Music and even his last album with Metallica Lulu raised ire but this is Lou Reed at his best.  Never content to stay to one formula, he went from a solo album with members of Yes to glam with Mick Ronson and David Bowie overseeing, and then rework rock and roll with the legendary Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter (Rock And Roll Machine).  And then Metal Machine Music, two records of feedback noise that only weirdos could listen to all the way through, but then turn around and make Coney Island Baby.  His Arista years were uneven, even Street Hassle had problems, and he became a stand up comic on the Take No Prisoners live album before going back to Growing Up In Public which is better than The Bells. A return to RCA gave us The Blue Mask, a title track that is Metal Machine Music with melody and singing the praises of his new wife (which would end in divorce 10 years later).  New Sensations was as close to Lou Reed making music for radio and I consider this to be his best of that time.  The Sire albums had their moments he kissed and made up with John Cale on the Andy Warhol eulogy Songs For Drella and even The Velvet Underground got reunited before Reed's iron hand got in the hand and the rest of the band told him to take off.  His last years he spent much time with new love Laurie Anderson and revisited Berlin, his 1973 anti classic and for a finale, jammed with Metallica on Lulu, a album that's more Lou with Metallica being the backing band.  He thrived on controversy and got it in spades.  The way he wanted to go out.

Ringo Starr:

This is where the Paul Revere and Deep Purple fans go up in arms, another member of a classic band gets his due and they're still out in the cold, I'm one of them.  But I also admit that I have more Ringo Starr solo albums then the other guys.  And Richard Perry managed to coax up some top billing stars to be on Ringo's classic 1973 album Ringo and Goodnight Vienna and Ringo did managed to get John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney to appear on his albums.  Kind of a mini Beatles reunion.  Later recordings on other labels were more miss than hit but Ringo did have one fine album in him on the 1991 Time Takes Time album which he got members of Jellyfish to sing and play for a power pop sound.  Later recordings with Mark Hudson and Dave Stewart were so so.

Bill Withers:

His Sussex years got him into the HOF.  Ain't No Sunshine one of the best 2 minute songs ever made, Use Me and of course Lean On Me.  Later became too MOR for me when he moved to Columbia but overall a fine vocalist and songwriter.

The 5 Royales:

Recorded for King back in the 50s.  Legendary R and B group in the style of the Clovers.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

I thought he was a limited vocalist but a great harmonica player but what got him in was his excellent band of the 60s when he recorded for Elektra that featured Elvin Bishop who tolerated him most of the time and when he went solo Butterfield never recovered and a switch over to Bearsville didn't bring much either.  The quality of music went downhill despite the best efforts of some producers Willie Mitchell for example.  But with Bishop or Mike Broomfield  East West,the album has been the one to seek out.

Joan Jett:

Part of the Runaways and later fronted the Blackhearts.  Really didn't get into her, we all got burned out by I Love Rock And Roll, but I do give her points for her beliefs and playing with Evil Stig, the band known as the Gits after their lead singer got murdered, Jett made a live album with the band.  Jett's last album was actually quite good.

Townedger Radio Broadcast on Lucky Star Radio Playlist 12/17/14

I Bet You They Won't Play This Song On The Radio-Monty Python
Rolling And Tumbling-The Strypes
Institutionalized-Body Count
I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight-The Fresh Young Fellows
Bird Dance Beat-The Trashmen
Lo And Behold-Bob Dylan/The Band (the basement tapes raw version)
Psychedelic Pill-Neil Young/Crazy Horse
Can't Be Who You Want Me To Be-Lizzy Williams Band
Can't Be What You Want Me To Be-The Townedgers
Rust Belt Town-The Randy Cliffs
Pictures-The Len Price 3
Coke 2-The Who
Quark, Strangeness And Charm-Hawkwind
Sally Can't Dance (45 Version)-Lou Reed
Dear Lisa-The Townedgers
Stupid Things-Elizabeth Cook
Bad Girl-Slim Gallard
I'm Going Find That Girl-Dixieland  Drifters with Norman Blake
Wrong-Train Hits Truck  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Can't Review Them All-Flavors Of The Passing Of Time

It's so easy to rip apart certain bands and artists over the years.  What used to be played a lot back then has fallen by the wayside or now being ridiculed.  The big story of the month has been the mental breakdown of Scott Stapp of Creed fame and once the story broke I felt sorry for him.  However more stories came out, his son wanted his dad to clean up his act and now we are hearing that Stapp threatened the POTUS' life.  Taking things a bit too far, but then again Creed was a part of the late 90s run of post grunge Pearl Jam type of music that I never gave a second thought or first listen to.  I remember Jerry at Relics touting Creed to be the next big thing as he was selling their first album.My Own Prison back in 1997 before closing the doors of that record store, leaving your's truly without a second home.  From 97 to 2001 Creed was one of the top selling and one of the most hated bands of that time.  Since then the band splintered into Alter Bridge with Miles Kennedy replacing Stapp as vocalist and carving out a decade of sustained success, while Stapp went solo, took too many drugs and went Koo Koo for Coco Puffs and now in the present becoming a basket case.  Tough  to feel sorry for him while he's slitting his own throat but when you can't help yourself and don't want to, you shake your head and move on.  Just like Alter Bridge did. Creed Greatest Hits basically covers all the bases and hits since Alternative Modern Rock won't play them anymore.  Otherwise stick to Pearl Jam.

Another band that gets raked over the coals, Nickleback continues to defy critics and music fans by making albums.  And even shows a sense of humor while dealing with naysayers via Twitter.  In some ways they remind me of Grand Funk Railroad, whose Capitol albums during the Terry Knight years can try a lot of people's patience but they did have their fans and had their hits as well.  For Google fun and giggles, the search word of Nickleback is, that usually is the worst band ever comes up at number 2 or 3. I don't hate them all that much, their music I don't listen to at all either.  Sliver Side Up, broke them big with How You Remind Me, which started the hate, perhaps it sounding close to Load era Metallica might have something to do with that.  I think the early Nickleback (Curb, The State) remains listenable, the Canadian grunge rock shows a hungry band ready to make it into the big time.  To which they did soon after.  Certainly not the worst band ever but they did get negative points for the upstart of Nickleback wannabes like Hoobastank, whose albums are even more uneven and sounding dated even for the 2000s.

The years of wasting time and money on stuff like Dave Matthews Band makes me wish I could have that time back.  Although he's a nice guy and does great causes, Matthews long running career with RCA sometimes proves that certain folks can hang on a major label for a while, 20 years for Matthews.  Revisiting his breakthrough Under The Table And Dreaming still turns out to be a big snoozefest of an album.  Through it all the only album that I liked enough to recommend was Big Whiskey And The GooGrux King but perhaps the best quote came from Futurerama when it was mention that the Dave Matthews Band does not rock.  And they were right on about that.

The classic rock era of the 70s and 80s are long gone, but Cumulus doesn't want you to know that while they're rehashing the same 200 songs day in and day out.  Long time ago radio in the 80s they would play songs twice in a night but at least they could pepper things up with new singles and artists but Classic Rock Radio nowadays is the same songs over and over again.  J Geils Band made about 10 albums many many songs but all we get to hear is Centerfold three times a night.  Which annoys the fuck out of me.  So much music out there but with Cumulus or Clear Channel buying all the airwaves all you get is the same old same old.  A lot of bands got shown the door out here from my collection.  Foreigner comes to mind, with Corporate GOP approved garbage of Cold As Ice, or Hot Blooded and Mick Jones so bankrupt for ideas and money that he rehashes the hits with his hired hands and this year a revisit of 4, their best album to which Robert John Lange took them into record sales land and forever a place on overplayed radio.  Basically, their last albums were remakes of their hits, acoustic remakes of their hits and now, a remake of 4, but with the lesser songs omitted for, you guessed it, Hot Blooded and Cold As Ice.  Forget them.

There are classic rockers such as Bruce Springsteen who every time farts up a new album, Rolling Stone gives it five stars and record of the year but in reality, his last few albums have been by the numbers forgettable.  I still enjoy The River and Tunnel Of Love but have to fast forward the overplayed Hungry Heart which is always playing at some bar or some Cost Cutters or some radio station.  Nothing like paying 183 dollars to Sirius Radio just to hear Hungry Heart at one of the 100 plus radio stations.  His new songs, like Hungry Heart make me change the station.  John Mellencamp is another artist that i used to listen to but not anymore.  John opened up for KISS back in 1979 to which he would lead the fans to say FUCK at the top of their lungs just to be a rebel.  His early Main Man albums tried to label him glam but it was more bubble gum and that didn't fit his image.  But he was learning the game as he recorded for Riva, with a big hit with I Need A Lover (Pat Benetar covered that for a minor hit) and I'm sure he had images of James Dean when he wrote the first three albums but he came across more like Joe Dirt Trailer Trash than Cool James.  The big difference was that Mellencamp had one of the finest backing bands ever in his presence and the best albums had Kenny Aronoff, an balding drummer on drums and he added spark and Larry Crane on guitar.  I have great respect for his 80s album when he turned into Little Bastard and had Don Gehman as co producer. American Fool was the start although the overplayed Jack And Diane and Hurts So Good has been killed by radio.  But he hit his stride with Uh Huh, to which he started using Mellencamp and then expanded his vision and songwriting to classic status with Scarecrow and The Lonesome Jubilee, to which Mellencamp actually equaled Springsteen in story telling songs about the demise of the farmers and farmland. I still recommend his 1989 Big Daddy albums as well (I still have a vinyl copy of it) but I think Mellencamp was beginning to question about being a rock singer and while he still incorporated a variety of styles once he begin to take himself too seriously he became to lose me.  Whatever We Wanted was his last very good album and once he lost Kenny Aronoff, his albums became less interesting.  While he touts his latest album Plain Spoken as his best (and he has returned to the Universal label fold via Republic on a lifetime record contract) to me it was just a plain album.  Not groundshaking by any means but at least he still following his own muse. And still fights for the common man and the causes.  He's not all bad.

While grunge music is basically dead, (it's all rock and roll if you think about it) a lot of the grunge bands have not aged well.  Both KRNA and THE FOX continues to rape us with the same Nirvana songs, the same Alice In Chains and the same Pearl Jam songs, we don't hear much of Soundgarden which is fine by me.  Perhaps one of the best named bands ever but hearing their new song off the radio is probably one of the most half assed things I have heard this year.   Chris Cornell's banshee vocals go a long way and even the best of their albums (Louder Than Love, Badmotorfinger) get donated back into the pile after hearing them.  But out of the big bands that came out of Seattle, (the big four that is) I pretty much put Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden in that order (Mudhoney doesn't count since they never broke big, but if I did that would knock both PJ and SG down a notch) in bands that I would play again.  Badmotorfinger is their best, anything else is up to the listener to check out.  Or Temple Of The Dog, the tribute album to the late Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone who missed out on being rich and famous but ended up being more of a curio or cult artist with MLB.

The 2000s onward, and most of the lavish praises and lovin on the rock bands of the day falls upon deaf ears and an indifferent buying public.  Critical darlings The Arcade Fire, Mumford And Sons, The Arvett Brothers, The Gaslight Anthem continue to make albums they like but once I hear them I can't see what the fuss is all about.  The garage rock movement of the 2000s has been forgotten, The Strokes being one of the overrated, The Hives a little less and made funnier albums.  The Killers from Las Vegas managed to build a decade long career of dance music, Duran Duran and goth pop, a better choice than Maroon 5, the former Kara's Flowers which a name change and a new singer and radio friendly hooks gave them music success but hardly any critical kudos.  Franz Ferdinand, I still have all four of their albums but hardly play any of them.  But for the most part, with processed beats and autotuner and manufactured pop crap from the folks at American Idol or The Voice or X Factor, today's winners are tomorrow's trivia question.  Only Miranda Lambert (from the now forgotten Nashville Star who lost out to trivial question what ever happened to Buddy Jewell)  and Carrie Underwood (American Idol) has made any lasting impressions on the charts (Kelly Clarkson to a lesser extent).  And if this is the way to go in music anymore, there'll be loads more folks that would be in the Can't Review Them All series.

The rules are simple.  Make enjoyable and memorable music and  I'll do my best to point it out.  Bore me with bad new music or overkill me with the same classic rot shit of years ago and they all go in the donating pile or next week's new additions in the used bins at Half Priced Books.   The guessing is that half wits like Florida Georgia Line will be a dated passing fancy a year or two from now.  Some bands still stand the test of time, while others date themselves to a certain period, stinking like bad baloney.   My money is on the latter for FGL.

Foreigner-Best Of 4 And More (Sony Music)

Or rather less.  Yet another live at a Casino recording with most of  4 their 1981 classic album and the usual greatest drivel.  Corporate radio loves them enough to entitle them to do a budget priced live album.  The glaring omission of their fourth single from 4 Luanne (which doesn't get any airplay on classic crock radio) lowers the grade by two notches   Stick with the original studio album, or the radio.  It's that simple.

Grade C-

Expiration Date:  Montgomery Gentry + Big and Rich

If anything is to be blamed on Bro Country, you can blame two entities on this: One Big And Rich, to which for a short time redefined country by adding elements of rap to their music.  Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy) can be blamed for Luke Byran the Florida Georgia Line.  Prior to that, John Rich was part of Lonestar but left before the hits started coming in.  I give Rich points for giving the world Gretchen Wilson, who's still doing her thing before a diminishing fan base, Wilson was born too late to be a rock star so she managed to become a country pinup model for most of the 2000s.    I was never sold on Big And Rich, although I did buy Rich's solo album for cheap and it wasn't bad.  Rich's extreme right wing views made me trade it in  Montgomery Gentry on the other hand, I did follow more and bought most of their albums, Eddie the brother of John Michael Montgomery and Troy Gentry was part of a forgotten band Young Country, but the early albums showed a love of Southern Rock and Charlie Daniels, the latter helping them out on Tattoos And Scars their 1999 debut.  That and Carrying On I think still stand up to this day but each ensuring album Montgomery Gentry sowed the seeds of Bro Country, especially on album number 3 My Town and song Hell Yeah.  After that the albums got preachy and too campy, or FOX news on CD.  The strange thing that stands out is that the songs that I thought that made an impact didn't chart as high as originally thought.  Hillbilly Shoes only made it to number 13 in 1999, whereas the number one hits ( If You Ever Stopped Loving Me, Lucky Man, Back When I Knew It All) I swore I never heard that much or at all on K Hack. A bigger question mark was some of the songs charted on the pop charts and I know none of the top 40 stations played any Montgomery Gentry.  The changing trends toward younger Bro country left Eddie and Troy being dumped by Sony Music and a move to Bro Country label Average Joe's have shown signs of desperation and the songs got dumber and dumber, the nadir was Titty's Beer a single that bombed on the charts last year.  They might have outdumbed themselves on new single Headlights which has the usual Bro country bullshit of trucks, scantly clad girls in shorts and plenty of beer.  It's certainly no Hillbilly Shoes but who knows, if Headlights sell well enough to hit the country top twenty, perhaps Montgomery Gentry will open up for Florida Georgia Line at some casino country bar a year from now.  And studies have shown that over 40 guys singing about trucks, barely legal girls in jeans and beer in this day and age, the youngster's tend to stay away in droves.  Or just call them creepy old men.

Monday, December 8, 2014

PLAYLIST: 12-13-14

Well I figured if it worked last year with the 11 12 13 event and giving me the highest rated views, I thought I try it again and see how far views this gets.  This weekend we have the 12 13 14 to which for the final time for another 100 years, the month date and year follows each other, December 13, 2014.  Falls on a Saturday.

College football season is now over and we now know who the best 4 teams are. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State which ripped up Wisconsin 59-0 in the B1G championships. The much hated Buckeyes led by Urban A Hole Meyer, lost their starting QB for Cardale Jones who became a folk hero. J D Barnett replaced Braxton Miller early in the season and was having a stellar season when he broke his ankle and Jones stepped in and it was business as usual.  For the thrashing of Bucky Badger, OSU managed to claim the 4th spot to play Alabama. TCU and Baylor got thrown by the wayside, if TCU would have held on and beat Baylor, they'd be the forth team.  Give Ohio State credit, they flew past the naysayers by beating just about everybody in the B1G ten.  In the meantime, Michigan says adios Brody Hoke after a sub 500 year, Mike Riley replaces Bo Pellini in Nebraska.  Kirk Feranez gets another contract extension after a disappointing 7-5 season but managed to get rewarded with a January 2nd bowl game with Tennessee in the what used to be known as the Gator Bowl now Taxslayer Bowl.  And it's in Florida.  I have a classmate that lives down there that says everybody should meet at her new place in Florida to see the game.  I'll be there in spirit.  For the other team, Arizona State, they're off to the Sun Bowl on the 27th to take on Duke.  Good thing they didn't play Oregon for the Championship, the Ducks dismantled Arizona 55-13, getting revenge for the Arizona win earlier in the season.

If you like lists of worst of, here's the worst country songs of 2014, with the usual motley crew of artists that show up regularly in Worst songs list:

For the do list of next year, I need to get a new computer.  The continuation of hang ups and not responding messages  and shock wave not working messages is the stuff that you take a fucking hammer to the computer with.  In this day and age of throwaway technology what is buy now obsolete a day later.  I have this computer for 10 years running, in today's world, it's an printing press from the 1700s.

The return and comeback of vinyl has been a big surprise as record collectors are now going to thrift shops in droves to find rock albums in between copies of Lawrence Welk, Mac Davis, the classics and garbage gospel acts of the 60s and 70s to the point that thrift stores have actually raised prices on vinyl now.  Which is basically a double edge sword, fine if you enjoy playing vinyl but not so much if you have to pay 20 dollars plus for what used to sell for 5.98 years ago.  I managed to find the elusive Fantasy album (the band made Stoned Cowboy a fine rocking song years ago) but didn't feel like paying 35 dollars for it.  It has come down to economics as well.  While some stores do sell vinyl (Target is rumored to be selling vinyl but I yet to see that at a store so it's an online thing) the nadir is the higher prices for 180 or 200 gram virgin vinyl but it's buyer beware, no refunds even for a 35 dollar copy (you'll get store credit but no money back).  Heaven forbid if you have a scratch on that new Ryan Adams LP. Perhaps the rip off folks behind Because Sound Matters think it's fair to charge 70 dollars for the latest Neil Young CD that always been forgotten.  There used to be a time which Target or K Mart had a nice cut out selection of albums ranging from 99 cents to 3.98 to which we could satisfy our music binges and discover new bands.  But those days are long forgotten and from another planet, another time.   Even for the bargain hunter like myself, I had to contend with the other bargain hunters when it comes to seeing who donated the latest vinyl at Goodwill and most of the time I end up finding nothing of value.  But it's nice to see people walking out of the store with that long lost Eagles Greatest Hits or Led Zeppelin 4 to play on players and not cheap sounding MP3s that you hear on your smart phone.  This generations' version of the transistor radio.

Another classmate went beyond the sunset last week.  Mark Chalstrom passed away from a sudden illness and he was four months younger than me.  We weren't close as friends but we did trade beer cans when that fad was popular in 1975.  Mark was a popular classmate, went out for football and basketball.  My favorite story was that Me, him, along with Mark Prouty and Rick Cooper went behind the old Katz Salvage brownfields in search of rusty old beer cans.  At that time, the old Milwaukee Road railroad went through Marion and trains would blow by sounding their own.  Being wild and free at that time, I loved the train yard enough to trespass through and of course that was a no no, I've had a couple run ins, with the old Milwaukee Road gumshoe, to which the third time led to a scream fest outside the Diary Queen and why didn't he go after the four other kids walking behind the old coast to coast instead of picking on me when I was more closer to the main thoroughfare and not in the yard was raised at this dude.  He never did pick on me again after that.

Anyway back to the story, the four of us was in this year after dark and finding a few dumpster cans there were train cars in the yard, and Mark Chalstrom managed to pull the air brake on one of the cars which prompted the gumshoe and other employees to come running out. And we all scattered around, somehow I was stuck inside the Salvage yard and basically trapped.  However I did managed to come across to the green tin fence in front of 7th avenue and somehow climbed over it and didn't get caught (one of the rare times that I ever gotten away with anything).  Chalstrom also got away but Rick and the other Mark got caught at the front.  We all managed to meet at the old Me Too store across the street and had a good laugh over that.  After graduation we all went separate ways, Mark got married and divorced a couple times and raised a daughter.  But now he's gone.  And will be missed.


Let Me In-Rory Gallagher (Against The Grain)
Gonna Be Alright Now-Gayle McCormick (S/T)
Talking In Your Sleep-Paraphernalia Tyrus (Live Under A Full Moon)
Primer Coat-Drive By Truckers (English Oceans)
Wait-Camel (I Can See Your House From Over Here)
Wigmore Swingers-The Len Price 3 (Nobody Knows)
Turn It Up-Texas Hippie Coalition (Peacemaker)
Shut Up And Dance-Walk The Moon (Talking Is Hard)
This Old Fool-Buddy Guy & Junior Wells (Play The Blues)
Echoes-Spanky And Our Gang (The Complete Mercury Singles) 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Best Music Of 2014

Everything rocks and nothing ever dies.

With that out of the way, let's us look back on the year of new releases and reissues.  And if you thought that last year was slim pickings, this year makes last year look like a big event. Music today is just a flavor of the week and then forgotten.  A year that only a couple of releases sold a million copies, Taylor Swift's 1989 and maybe Pink Floyd The Endless River but that's it.  Used to be big events when a new release did come out and stores would open at midnight on Tuesday but those days are gone just like most of the record stores that used to do that.  In a world of so much variety never that Corporate Radio has centralized the playing list that nothing new gets played on classic rock radio but you can hear Back In Black in regular rotation just like 1980 all over again. Except the lesser known bands never get played and all you hear is Back In Black.  And basically this is not another blog to say that radio sucks dung, I've managed to make that point countless other times.  But never have I seen such an era that when the new AC DC album came out, radio didn't play it in its entirety, they peppered some of the new tracks with Back In Black once again.

Fact of the matter is that music today takes a back seat to the overplayed on radio.  And most new music sounds the same be it country, top forty and rock.  Today's music has borrowed more from rap and processed beats and Munford and Sons inspired sing along, or whoever decided to cop Seven Nation Army as today's Jock Jam that you see and hear at football stadiums across the country.  Who decides what songs are acceptable or what's not needs to be slapped upside the head.  Marching bands being replaced by the bell tone of Hell's Bells or Crazy Train over the PA means AC DC or Ozzy should get a nice check from ASCAP and BMI, which will go nicely into the payments of the best care that Malcolm Young can get.  But the rockers from the 70s and 80s are getting older and some are past 70 if they're still living.  There's not too many left on this planet but some are still recording. Some 80 year olds like Willie Nelson, John Mayall, Leonard Cohen and Tony Bennett made new releases this year and they're worth a listen or two.  But nowadays after the releases, they're forgotten within a week or two.  And nobody cares like they used to.
The buying public of ten, twenty years ago have families, and getting older themselves. Prices continue to go up, disposable income is less and less and music mags from the past are becoming more Entertainment Weekly or The Enquirer rather than tout new music and exciting bands.  And Rolling Stone Mag is a joke upon itself, even by their best of list, which I guarantee you that most of the 50 best albums they tout, only 1 or 2 will be remembered a year from now.  And Songs For The Innocent makes Pop sound like The Joshua Tree.

For the most part the old rock and rollers released new albums as well. Neil Young had two, although I commend him for following his own muse, both weren't as good or memorable as the last two he issued with Crazy Horse.  Being in love might had something to do with it, but for myself there wasn't any point of spending 70 dollars to hear his 2 record love letter to Darryl Hannah. David Crosby spoke out against that and for the effort Young said no more CSNY reunions.  A much more happier reunion was the return of Christine McVie to the aging Fleetwood Mac and the shows have been reviewed as great.  A victory lap so to speak to reclaim past glories, even though Stevie Nicks issued a new album and it sold less than Time, the Fleetwood Mac 1995 bomb.  The rock goddess we loved and had fantasies being with are now 60 plus years old.    And today's sex symbols have enough staying power as last month's Playboy pinup.  Even with 40 something Jennifer Lopez rubbing butts with Iggy Azalea at the AMA's last month is now a thing of the past. Or seeing some Kadashian tramp showing off her buns or baby bump just to let the world know they're still there.  Some folk do but for the rest of us, we have better things to do than knowing what's Kortney or Kim is doing for today.  But I don't care, not even for Nicki No Talent Minaj who continues to flaunt booty at the drop of the hat or pants.  It doesn't affect me, nor you.

Which comes to the best of the year.  Perhaps one of the least interesting of years,  I reviewed about 40 albums and CDs and basically what it comes down to is which ones I would play the most rather than the one that has lasting value.  For lasting value we keep playing them right?  I looked back on the best of 2009, and I don't think the Manic Street Preachers or Monsters Of Folk have gotten much play here although they did make the list.  Jamey Johnson and Heart's inclusion in the 2012 best of are been donated for a better cause. Ditto for blues sweetheart Samantha Fish whose Runaway and Black Wind Howlin have been given new homes. Still worth getting if you find them, but for myself I kinda of fell out of favor with them.  Or just made me go back to the original sources or influences such as the Friday expanded edition of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play The Blues.  But in terms of real new good music, there wasn't much of it anywhere.  Crappy digipacks, expended editions of the original albums, even more crappier digipacks, the three music mafia labels jacking prices up 2 dollars all figured into a shorter list of tunes to consider.  And yet another Best Of The Who Hits 50 to avoid, this gave me the feeling that buying new music is as pointless as they come. Judas Priest made a return to form and they were forgotten three weeks after their new album. Nobody plays it but they'll play You Got Another Thing Coming.

So, from what limited resources that was available to me, The top albums of the year comes from albums that I can remember and perhaps might serve as some things that I'll play again next year or after that.  But there's no guarantee that I'll be around next year to think up of the best of the year that is for the ages.  What I do is that U2 nor Bruce is on this list.  And that's a step in the right direction.

The Strypes-Snapshot (Photofinish/Island)

After all the albums out there, this one seems to be on the player more often than not.  For those who enjoy a bit of that old Pub rock sound made famous by Eddie And The Hot Rods or Doctor Feelgood, you'll dig this album, their version of Rolling And Tumblin has managed to be heard on my radio show Townedger Radio and they cover Heart Of The City by Rockpile.  That's all you need to know.

Bob Dylan/The Band-The Basement Tapes Raw (Columbia/Legacy)

Forgo The New Basement Tapes hype, that T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello minor league all star lineup of putting old Dylan lyrics into limp Americana and go for the real thing, Dylan jamming with The Band without record label pressure to make what would be the first true bootleg album and the seeds of Americana.  Nobody could top Dylan when he was in his prime and The Basement Tapes Raw presents that, and without the overdubs of the 1975 Basement Tapes first album, still worth getting and taking notes to point out differences.

The Townedgers-Forthcoming Trains (Radio Maierburg)

I know.  It's one of my own but if I didn't like it and play it as much as I have been this year, this would not be on the list.  After the sloppy mess of 30, The Townedgers return to a much more comfortable level of acoustic and hard rock to make Forthcoming Trains their best since Pawnshops For Olivia.  The Crazy Horse meets Motorhead vibe of Wolfie has been good enough to make the playlist at Kill Radio and Lucky Star.  A more streamlined Midnight Run and Just Enough Love without the drum boasts of previous years shows a new mentality.  But also the sad and reflective How Hard It Is or the playful Our Love (Endless Highway) shows the versatility that is Rodney Smith and company.  But then again economic drum playing can go further than the bombast of years beforehand.  If only The Townedgers could be this fun from here on out.

The Essential Kinks (Legacy)

Not entirety, the MCA years are missing but Andrew Sandoval does pick most of the best of the Kinks hits from You Really Got Me to Scattered, a track off the 1992 Phobia debacle.  He does overdo it by adding three songs off the scattershot  Sleepwalker, the 1977 Arista debut, but only one from Arthur. Another quibble is a live Lola from the goofy 1980 live One From The Road rather than the studio, but for the most part the concept albums of the 70s from RCA are kept to a minimum, but you do get faves like Days, Waterloo Sunset, All Day And All Of The Night and the beginnings of heavy metal You Really Got Me.  And of course the best Dave Davies written song ever......Living On A Thin Line.  For a 50 year career sampler, it does quite well, unlike The Who Hits Fifty.

Beck-Morning Phase (Capitol)

Despite what George Stravois tells you, this is actually a lot better than Sea Change,  A lot of folk don't care much for Beck Hansen and his new age pop like tunes but I find Morning Phase to be a nice listen after a hard day at work. Blackbird Chain reminds me of Roger Waters' segment in Ummagumma. I probably have this record too high on the Best Of, but then again most of these songs are not in order.  Unless it's the first three.

The Empty Hearts (429 Records)

Power pop supergroup produced by Ed Stasium.  Not destined for the radio, unless it's Underground Garage.  Wally Palmer from The Romantics provides the vocals, Clem Burke from Blondie and many others pounding away on drums and Elliot Easton from The Cars on Guitar, and Andy Burbuk from Chesterfield Kings playing bass.  Garage rock still played by dudes in their 50s and 60s and still kicking it.

Kings Of The Sun-Rock Til You Drop (Self release)

One of the most underrated rock bands ever, The Kings from down under featured the Hoad Brothers, Jeffery and Clifford, the latter being the closest thing to Keith Moon since Clem Burke.  A well kept secret among fans, their 2 RCA albums hold up better than Guns And Roses, you know what album.  A third album never released here proper and sells for big bucks via Ebay, The Hoad brothers soldered on till Jeffery decided to retire.  Clifford on the other hand, took over lead vocals and gave us this album which picks up where Full Frontal Attack left off.  The hour long effort of Rock Till You Drop passes by like a speeding train. Cliff's vocals is a bit less radio ready than his brother but songs like Switchblade Knife and Fire On The Mountain recalls the hard rock swagger of Serpentine or Vampire.  This is real rock and roll, unlike the "real rock" that passes for real rock on Corporate radio.

Spanky And Our Gang-Complete Mercury Singles Collection (Real Gone Music)
The Grassroots-Best Of The Dunhill Singles (Real Gone Music)

This year has been very scant on reissuing forgotten bands of the 60s who used to rule the AM airwaves. Rhino is a corporate entity, Shout Factory is on their last legs and Razor And Tie is too busy trying to become Century Media.  Omnivore has been instrumental of remembering the 80s and 90s alternative rock side of things with a Scruffy The Cat demos (Legacy was supposed to come out with an best of Scruffy The Cat that ended up being download only or just scrapped the whole thing, Corporate Labels, all for the bottom line and not art) and keeping Jellyfish alive with reissues of their Charisma CDs.  Gordon Anderson is the best of reissues and I picked Spanky And Our Gang and The Grassroots out of the pile because these bands were a big part of my growing up years.  The Grassroots is not complete; No Smoke Without Fire was left off in favor of an alternative take of Let's Live For Today (with a censored line) but The Dunhill Singles shows a band that started out being a P F Sloan led band to a more pop centered horns driven hit making machine with Two Divided By Love, one of the lesser faves but perhaps the band better known as Steve Barri's personal production band.  The early hits with the failed Mr. Jones leading things off I still enjoy to hear as well as Where Were You When I Needed You or Only When You're Lonely, a very moody song not so different than what the Walker Brothers were putting out.  But thankfully, Real Gone did put on Love Is What You Make It, a under-performing 1973 should have been hit. The late Rob Grilli turned out to be a perfect vocalist for the Lambert/Potter Two Divided By Love or Sooner Or Later. But they also boosted some good song writers in Dennis Proviser and Warren Entener.  Somewhat of a more rocking Gary Puckett and The Union Gap but it's a shame that Real Gone didn't include the B sides such as Somebody To Love (B side to Love Is What You Make It, and probably would have been a bigger hit with it's catchy beginning hook) or Fly Me To Havana (B to Wait A Million Years) which has a middle part like Steppenwolf's Rock Me. MCA's spotty Best Of The Grassroots albums and CD never quite told the story like Dunhill Singles. And probably the best overall view of The Grassroots since Rhino's 1990 2 CD attempt.

For Elaine (Spanky) McFarlane and their blues folk band Spanky And Our Gang is more pop than ever in rock and they made such happy songs like Lazy Day and the corny B side of Byrd Avenue and this is where I begin to take notice with that song.  The Complete Mercury Singles, does have both a and b sides, and does have the 3 minute Sunday Morning with the bizarre coda/mistake ending that went missing through the years and countless reissues, a six minute version with studio chatter ruins is on Spanky's Greatest Hit(s) and another version without the coda was on a 45 reissue and Polygram's late 90s Greatest Hits but basically Universal screwed them over by taking one cut out for the The Millennium Collection. The Complete Mercury Singles starts out with the not usually heard And Your Bird Can Sing.  While Sunday Will Never Be The Same is their claim to fame (or Lazy Day), the best single that defines them and made me a fan was Sunday Morning and B side of Echoes or Everybody's Talking, with two versions on this, a later reissue omits the ocean sounds of the early single.  Or the take it any way you want to Like To Get To Know You complete with weird out ending.  But perhaps the infamous Give A Damn (taboo at that time due to the D word, we're come a long way from that) which a Bible Thumper complained and got the record pulled from the charts is not a protest song of burn baby burn but trying to find ways to reach the world to care about what's going on.  Their last album Anything You Choose/Without Rhyme Or Reason with the songs running into run another is worth hearing and it's good to see Three Ways From Tomorrow back on a best of comp. But tragedy was always a part of Spanky And Our Gang and when Malcolm Hale passed away at age 27 from a faulty heater the band was no more.  Nevertheless I think Spanky And Our Gang was just as important to pop rock music as The Mamas And Papas, plus they had a better sense of humor than the better known band.  The Complete Mercury Singles makes that point quite well.

Drive By Truckers-Oceans Away (ATO)

I have never been a big fan of the DBTs, most if not all of their albums were passing fancy, and only one Decoration Day got some plays but the rest I didn't really get into to.  But Oceans Away for me is their best since Decoration Day and it actually comes out rocking and swinging away on Shit Shot Counts. And for the first time ever, Mike Cooley wrote half the songs and Patterson Hood wrote the rest, never did we ever had Cooley work this much into any album.  And Cooley's songs do stick out, Primer Coat could be about anybody I know I went to school seeing their daughter being married off, or just being set in their ways.  That doesn't mean Patterson Hood is resting his laurels, he is at his best either paying tribute to a fallen roadie (Grand Canyon) or bashing some Conservative (or perhaps it's W Bush) on That Part Of Him.  Oceans Away, like any new album got a lot of press when release but nobody notices it much anymore, till you revisited the album again.  But when you do play it again, you do take notice.

The Len Price 3-Nobody Knows (JLM Recordings)

I never get tired of hearing bands be it British, American or whatever playing the same three chords in the tradition of The Who or The Kinks or Green Day.  Len Price 3 has always made my ten best of every year they put records out and so did Steve Van Zandt before Wicked Cool decided to focus on girl band acts. The title track, Billy Mason continues the Len Price 3 tradition of songs clocking around 2 and half minutes. It's a tough job but somebody gotta do it since most of the real rock bands of today rather dick around with pro tools, auto tuning and mope singing.  Hell with that.

Black Lips-Underneath The Rainbow (Vice)

I forgot all about this album while compiling the best list, so I must include this.  The Black Lips has been around for many a year and while their albums are garage rock noise at times their ambitions get the best of them.  Such as that live album they did across the border when Atlantic took a chance on them and lost.  Underneath The Rainbow just might be their most accessible album of all time, with side 1 actually playing quite well for 60s type inspired garage rock of the long forgotten (Sonics, Wailers), Some zaniness happens on side 2 beginning with Boys And The Band, and of course Do The Vibrate.  But overall, the record is a winner, right down to the freaky vinyl look.

AC/DC  Rock Or Bust (Columbia)

For those about to rock we salute you.  AC/DC as we know and love.  And simplified down to three chords and Brian Johnson's howls.  And it goes by fast with 11 songs at 34 minutes.  No bullshit rock and roll. 

Runner Ups.

Leonard Cohen-Popular Problems (Columbia)
Miranda Lambert-Platinum (RCA)
Slipknot: .5) The Gray Chapter (Roadrunner)
Body Count-Manslaughter (Sumerian)
Robert Plant-Lullaby And The Ceaseless Roar (Nonesuch/WB)
Jack White-Lazaretto (Third Man/Columbia)
Judas Priest-Redeemer Of Souls (Epic)
Doobie Brothers-Southbound (Arista)
Joe Bonamassa-Different Shades Of Blue (J & R Adventures)
Ace Frehley-Space Invader (E One)


Leon Russell-Life Journey (Universal)
Stevie Nicks-24 Carat Gold (Reprise)
John Mayall-A Special Life ( Forty Below)
Jack Clement-For Once And For All (I.R.S.)
Benmont Tench-You Should Be So Lucky (Blue Note)

Honorable Mentions:

Pink Floyd-The Endless River (Columbia)
Saliva-Rise Up (Rum Bum)
Foo Fighters-Sonic Highways (Roswell)
Against Me!-Transgender Dysporia Blues (Total Trouble)
Old 97's-All Messed Up (ATO)

There you have it.  Yet another list of what is considered the be the best that 2014 had to offer. The number where I put albums basically came of what I remembered at the time.  That no one album stood out from another, so perhaps it's easy to say there was a tie for 11th place and so forth on the acknowledgements and honorable mentions.  Which leaves the ones in purgatory a step ahead of the turds of the year.  Perhaps in the future I'll return to Tom Petty's Hypnotic Eye or Black Stone Cherry's Magic Mountain to listen and if there's anything to keep it on the shelves I'll keep them. Otherwise they'll be donated for some quick cash and paying off bills.  Same thing for Bob Seger's Ride Out.

The question remains of what 2015 has to offer.  The forecast is that less and less new stuff will be reviewed or even considered due to the major labels continuing to raise CD prices and not promoting the bands.  Next year we see the return of Belle And Sebastian, The Charlatans UK first album since the passing of Jon Brookes and Steve Earle returns in March with a new album as well.  But in a field of music, I don't expect much to come out for me to get interested in anymore.  I heard it all before and the bands I grew up listening to are now senior citizens or retired or just dead and classic rock radio rehashes the same 200 songs every day.

Perhaps if I do compile a best of this year, provided if I'm still around this time next year, I'm certain it will be much more shorter than this year.  Even the reissues are not thought provoking as they once was.  I simply have no use for investing in Led Zeppelin outtakes or 4 CDs of Velvet Underground outtakes.  Vinyl is too high and so are box sets and record stores are becoming fewer and fewer.  The one remaining thing is thrift stores and the kindness of strangers who give up their collections due to time and space limitations. If it has a label, and in good condition and if I haven't heard it, it's new to me.  There's lots of competition out there, Thrift stores are usually picked clean but once in a while I'll strike a treasure trove of goodies.  That's where my focus will be for next year and thereafter.

Until then....