Friday, February 28, 2014

Music Of My Youth-KISS (The Makeup Years)

I am not a high profile card carrying member of the KISS army but somehow in the late 70s my classmates at Marion High School would dress up as the cartoonish characters and mine out to Shout It Out Loud during the variety show.  It was a different time back then, 8 track players would blare out KISS Alive as I walked the 20 minutes to the high school.  No rap music back then, it was a glorious time.

By now the Jann Wanner Hall Of Fame succumbed to the KISS army demands and finally added them into the RnRHOF(BS) warmth and leaving Deep Purple and the Moody Blues still out in the cold. But with the original members fighting away, Ace doesn't want Tommy Thayer wearing his space ace facepaint, Gene and Paul not wanting Peter and Ace play and finally saying they will not perform, I think it's time to revisit to a much warmer and fuzzy time to when KISS, as a bunch of unknowns that couldn't get arrested in New York City became the first Casablanca signing, taken on as a chance by Neil Bogart and making power rock and roll with Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise, one of them being a member of Dust with hopes of world domination.  The first two albums are basically rough and tame rock and roll, the songs were actually pretty good, Deuce, Firehouse and Cold Gin (Written by Ace Frehley, sang by Gene Simmons) plus the on your feet pompous of Black Diamond (seen better live) made the S/T album a keeper, Hotter Than Hell added more bombast and a better sound and I think that was the better of the two.  Parasite, Let Me Go Rock And Roll and Hotter Than Hell dumb rock and roll fun  Neil Bogart took over production and Dressed To Kill lacked power, the songs sounded too nice but with Rock And Roll All Night, KISS finally scored a top ten hit.  But they needed a producer that would capture their live sound and they found it with Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Elliot Randall) and recorded mostly during a wild Detroit crowd, Alive elevated them to superstar status. The songs from the first three albums amped up, this is where KISS made their money (before Gene Simmons became Mr. $immon$) and of course it's a time piece upon itself right on down to the 16 year old girls with the Farrah Doo.  Make no mistake about it, with Ace playing wild guitar, this band was the feared opening act that would upstate the headliners. Fireworks! Fake blood!, guitars on fire! KISS took the shock value of Alice Cooper and upped it a notch and they sold out arenas as well.

Nevertheless the lyrics were still dumb, even if Bob Ezrin helped shaped their next album Destroyer which may have been some kind of concept album, they meant business with Detroit Rock City leading into King Of The Night Time World.  When I think about this album I also think of Pink Floyd's The Wall in the trails and tribulations of being a rock star, though not as long as said album. Despite the goofy Great Expectations, the love theme Beth and silly God Of Thunder, this does have Flaming Youth and another party anthem Shout It Out Loud, Destroyer remains a lot of people's favorite KISS album. I think I like Rock And Roll Over better myself, Eddie Kramer returns to produce it but as I get older I really don't listen to this nor Love Gun all that much.  Peter Criss takes a stab at Baby Driver, Gene invites you to put your hand into my pocket and grab on to my rocket on the silly Take Me and Calling Dr Love, he's got the cure you're thinking of. ala Medicine Man by the forgotten Buchanan Brothers.  Ace Frehley starts singing on Shock Me on Love Gun and time has actually treated that album better than Rock n Roll Over.  Then it's back to the live circuit on Alive 2 but I don't play the live sides all that much, the studio side actually has some of the heaviest stuff KISS ever did, All American Man, the blistering Rocket Ride (sung by Ace) and a cover of Dave Clark Five's Any Way You Want It.

And with that 1978 begin the downfall. Casablanca put out the first of many many KISS best ofs with Double Platinum, a strange collection of their best stuff, and then, the solo albums which may have backfired in Gene $immon$ plot to be taken seriously as a solo artist.  His solo album was very subpar, and only the Peter Criss snoozer kept the Mr Tongue out of the least effective album.  Paul Stanley's album wasn't too bad but it was Ace Frehley's album that was more in spirit with KISS then the other four. Of course it helped greatly when Ace kept Eddie Kramer being the production board and managing to get one of the best backing bands as well (Anton Fig plays drums), it may not help the egos of Gene and Paul when New York Groove was the highest charting of the singles released, hitting number 13 in 1978.

Somehow KISS never recovered from the solo albums and a change of producers from Kramer to the lackluster and colorless Vini Poncia (Ringo Starr) and while Dynasty got ridiculed for the disco I Was Made For Loving You, the album was okay with a cover of 2,000 Man the highlight, but the rest of the record sounded more pop than actual rock and got worse with the Unmasked which turned out to be one of their biggest bombs of their career.  By then the booze and drugs were not helping either and Peter Criss would leave (Anton Fig actually played on Unmasked) and Ace would too after Music From The Elder to which Criss was replaced by the late great Eric Carr.  The problematic Vinnie Vincent replaced Ace on the boring Creatures Of The Night to which the Makeup years ends with a dull thud.  They would take off their makeup for 1983's Lick It Up which returns them more back into the silly rock and roll we have come to love from KISS but anything after that I really didn't care much as KISS was trying to find their way through hair spray pop metal and later grunge, somehow during a unplugged show Peter and Ace returned and there was joy and hope of a new KISS album for us to relive the old days.  What we got instead was Psycho Circus. And You Wanted The Best You Got The Best, was wishful thinking, basically another greatest hits with some outtakes masquerading as new songs.

Although we would love to see the original guys KISS and make up for at least one more time on stage, KISS last two albums have actually been more in spirit of the 70s than anything they have done in the three decades since then. Arguments for Tommy Thayer not that good, I disagree with, he's a more compatible guitarist than Ace and is a lot more easier to work with too.  It also helps he used to play in Black N Blue, a fairly good rock band from the 80s that made a few album on Geffen (Find the ones produced by Dieter Dieks Scorpion's Producer rather than the lame Gene Simmons produced albums) and Eric Singer, the drummer who replaced Eric Carr has drummed with Black Sabbath and The Cult and seems to keep a better beat than Criss. It also helps that Paul Stanley produced the last two as well, he seems to have a more rock production than Bruce Fairbairn did on Psycho Circus, plus it keeps $immon$ doing what he likes best, make more money.

Like it or not, KISS has served a purpose in my life and the fact remains that when I was a teenager, I played a lot of the 70s albums all the way up to Love Gun and discarded the rest anything after 1979.  Nothing wrong with rock and rolling all night and partying every day, but at some time we have to grow up.


KISS (Casablanca 1974) B+
Hotter Than Hell (Casablanca 1974) A-
Dressed To Kill (Casablanca 1975) B
Alive (Casablanca 1975) B+
Destroyer (Casablanca 1976) B
Rock And Roll Over (Casablanca 1976) B-
Love Gun (Casablanca 1977) B-
Alive 2 (Casablanca 1977) B
Ace Frehley (Casablanca 1978) A-
Paul Stanley (Casablanca 1978) B
Gene Simmons (Casablanca 1978) C
Peter Criss (Casablanca 1978) C-
Dynasty (Casablanca 1979) C
Unmasked (Casablanca 1980) C-
Music From The Elder (Casablanca 1981) C+
Creatures Of The Night (Casablanca 1982) C
Lick It Up (Mercury 1983) B+
Psycho Circus (Mercury 1996) C
You Wanted The Best You Got The Best (Mercury 1997) Ha ha ha  C-
Very Best Of Kiss (Mercury 1998) B+

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cowpie: Jason Aldean Concert Review

I want you to read this little review of Jason Aldean's concert last month and a reviewer gave his two cents worth.. Travis Kitchens wrote this original piece.  I reposted this because if I post the link it will be outdated and therefore be worthless and not work somewhere down the line.  I think he was spot on. The Baltimore Sun pulled it with pressure from a couple advertisers who shall remain nameless but both play a big role in the career development of one Aldean since they sponsored his concert.

The original review.

Baltimore Arena smelled like the inside of a Spearmint Rhino Saturday night. Reams of rednecks streamed in from every direction across Baltimore Street and it took a half hour to get through the line and inside to will call. They all came to see Jason Aldean. You might not recognize his name, but that’s ok, because you probably wouldn’t recognize his music either, or at least not be able to distinguish it from anything else on country radio.

I grabbed an $11.50 beer, passing booths selling shirts and koozies reading“I’m About To Get My Pissed-Off On,”and lots of Fireball Whisky schwag.Drinking Fireball gives you a slight cinnamon burn in the throat, then travels to the stomach, and, judging from the men’s bathrooms, immediately evacuates the bowels and gut. The puke smell along with loud shitty music and fog machines reminded me of traveling from Kentucky to Florida for Spring Break in high school, and that makes me part of Aldean’s target market.
Tyler Farr, the opening act, looks like Joey Fatone from N’Sync, and he’s only slightly less talented. Farr shuffled around the stage Saturday night with a prop guitar hanging from his neck like a No Limit chain, announcing the chart position of every song before playing it. “Ain’t’ Even Drinkin’” is the I-hope-this-night-never-ends prom song, a teen smash spell hand-crafted in a Nashville laboratory. “Ain’t even drinking but I’m buzzing baby/ain’t even smoking but I’m so stoned/feels like I’m getting lit/ain’t even took a sip/but I’m already gone.”

The crowd was infected, and showed their enthusiasm by gently poking the sky in a circular motion with I-don’t-give-a-fuck faces on. “Whiskey in My Water,” a shitkicker twist on “Me and My Girlfriend,” starts by ripping off the melody of Shooter Jennings’ “Fourth of July.” The artificiality and repetitiveness of his songs may have contributed to the vomit smell, and I felt like I was being subjected to military torture.
Whatever trivial contribution white people may have previously made to rap music has now been permanently nullified by pop country rap duo Florida Georgia Line. The Line was created from the leftover scraps of the Showbiz Pizza band, and they have an impressive number of programs, or songs. Beach balls were dispatched to the audience for “Party People,” and generic video footage playing on four jumbotron monitors above the band illustrated each song: dirt bike races and buggy mudding, video models molesting muscle cars, and giant all-white stadium crowds waving cell phones and American flags. “Gonna get buckwild/get a little buzz on/David Lee Roth style/might as well jump, jump.”

Each song is basically an advertisement performed live for the audience, the most blatant example being “Cruise.” Footage of new Chevy trucks play on the jumbotrons while they sing: “You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise/down a back road blowin’ stop signs through the middle/every little farm town with you/in this brand new Chevy with a lift kit/would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it.”

Advertising and country music is not a new relationship (Hank Williams shilled for Mother’s Best Flour, etc), but the way it has seeped into the songs and motivations of the artists has reached new and vulgar heights. They mentioned sponsor Fireball Whisky in the song lyrics and several times in between, and said to the roughly 14,000 people in attendance, “You guys truly are life changing.” Considering their latest album has already sold over 1.5 million copies, I would imagine that’s true.

Finally it was time for the headliner, Jason Aldean, whose show was a lot like watching a two hour beer commercial, and I don’t think his fans are unaware of that. You don’t listen to and enjoy Aldean’s music, you take it. It’s a mindless dopamine rush as precise in it’s effects as methamphetamine, and the not-so-subliminal marketing strategy deployed on the audience is as sophisticated as that of a presidential campaign. He struts around the stage with his prop guitar like a rockstar android wiggling his ass in a manner so contrived it makes Madonna look like Miles Davis in comparison.Aldean uses the “Margaritaville” market approach, tailored for the Buckwild generation. His empire is sponsored by Under Armour and Southern Comfort and there’s talk of a new redneck themed restaurant venture called Fly Over Steaks, where patrons are served and sweared at by waiters dressed as the cast of the television show Duck Dynasty (fingers crossed for an Inner Harbor location).

Aldean’s band looks like action figures from Spencers, and play like the American Idol house band. There were occasional flourishes of pedal-steel guitar, along with non-stop ear-splitting bass, a horrifyingly awful attempt at rapping, and brash guitar solos in every song. During “Dirt Road Anthem,” the adults in the crowd air scratched while half-staggering like they’d just had a stroke (imagine your grandma as an extra in the “Nothin’ But A G Thang” video). Aldean also rekindled his ongoing beef with Justin Bieber, this time taking shots at Biebs over who is more influential with hair styles. It was a chilling moment, and it was clear that this crowd did not like Justin Bieber one bit.

But the highlight of the night was Aldean singing a duet with a hologram of Kelly Clarkson. I didn’t know she was a hologram at the time, but I’m now wondering if Aldean was even there, and hoping he wasn’t

End of review.

It seems to me in a plastic world of fake bro country acts, half assed autotuned garbage and not one new release of the new year to get excited about that now the powers to be are now enforcing censorship on those who do not like going to said concerts or not being entertained. Perhaps they should have gotten more of a yes man who loves Jason Aldean and write right review that Live Nation would approve.   Welcome to fucking robot land where big money rides over objectiveness.  The sign of the times.

I have no time nor use for the new Bro Country acts and basically commenting about it basically waste time and internet space.  But the new generation loves this type of music and they're welcome to it.  Having Tyler Farr, Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell and Jason Aldrean in the same building is not where I'm going to be. But this is not rebellion, it's hanging with the moneyman and giving them free advertising be it car productions or rotgut whiskey.  Damn straight Waylon nor Hank would never wanted it that way or for that matter George Strait or Alan Jackson.

Now if you will excuse me time for me to put a wallet chain on and listen to the latest single from Aldean, Amour All Me A Brewski.

original link:


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Record World Playlist 2-26-14

I really didn't pay much attention to the Winter Olympics this year but did note of the US meltdown against Canada and the Finland blowout 5-nil and it may have been the most disappointing of the US hockey team in recent memory, while the girls blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the Canadian Girls.  For Canada's reward they should get both Justin Bieber and Ted Cruz back.

I have no use for Dancing With The Stars but had to point out that they're doing a make over to improve from sagging ratings,so they got rid of their 28 piece Harold Wheeler Orchestra  and Brooke Burke-Charvet in favor of a 5 piece electronic band and pre recorded music, in order to get younger viewers to watch.  Which is not work. Which will not get me to watch this show (not that I ever did anyway).  If you really want to watch more crap, there's Basketball Wives, which has the most scary looking bimbos with steroid encrusted looking lips that can suck paint off the house in the summertime.  And among other things, Snooki, is knocked up again, along with 10,000 other women around the world. You care? I don't.

It wasn't a good week for me either, ended up slashing my finger on a Made In China piece of shit plastic garbage can and put about 100 dents in it in the process, plus going to ER at 2 AM trying to stop the bleeding and getting a tentius shot too.  Weatherwise, we continue the snow and cold and sub zero shit that has been a part of winter since December 1st although Friday's Winter Storm Seneca Wallace was a rainmaker rather than snow (actually last Thursday but too tired to back track).  We had thunder ice that day and almost an inch of rain this early (too early).  No snow that time but the winds howled for 2 days afterwards.  Sick of winter?  Me too.

Another slow news weekend, but you knew that the original KISS wouldn't perform at the Jann Wanner Hall Of Fame, another big falling out, Ace didn't want Tommy playing Space Ace and Gene and Paul thought Ace and Peter should be there to pick the award up only.  Gene likes Tommy Thayer better, he's a more loyal and in line employee of the band and Eric Singer the drummer has maintained the beat most of the time except when Peter returned to the lineup. Would love to see Ace back in the fold but he tends to be a bit wilder and not as easy to control and Peter may have been the least needed band member of said band.  And everybody still misses Eric Carr the Fox which after Carr's passing, the fox face retired.  As they say to be continued.....and so it does, KISS put out a statement saying that they would only show up for the awards, Ace and Peter boycotting and the KISS army is not happy either.   While Gene And Paul CEO's for KISS INC states their business, Ace remains defiant that Tommy Thayer doesn't show up in the Spaceman paintface that he wore during the classic years which the two KISS CEOs said Thayer could since he's been a more reliable performer.  But Ace shouldn't feel too bad, after all Gene and Paul are still pissed off that Ace's 1978 album was the best selling of the solo albums that came out that year and neither Gene or Paul's solo stuff, even later didn't sell as well.  But then again Ace's last couple albums haven't set the world on fire either.  As they say, stay tuned for further developments.  This won't go away.

Hawkwind will not tour in the states and Canada due to visa issues and the lack of finances provided to do such a tour, the band issued a statement saying that they tried everything to make this work but in the end, it would not be cost effectiveness and Dave Brock is still not 100 percent to do such a long trek. They were also still not happy with Nik Turner doing a Hawkwind like tour but even Turner's tour were played to mostly half empty sports bars across the country.  They may not be happy with Turner but at least his last album was in the spirit of the original Hawkwind than the last decade of Brock's output with Hawkwind.  

From the archives:
I had to replace yet another couple pictures due to them disappearing and thought why not revisit a blast from the past.  After all, lot of people do on some of them, more than other it seems (circumstances beyond control, hairball and quibble and bits the three most revisited)  Up next, the new Ted Nugent song I Am A Pedophile on Classic Crock Radio.

Archives volume 2: John Mendelson, big Kinks fan and wrote and compiled The Kinks Kronlkes (sic) became the first person to review Led Zeppelin's first album for the up and coming Rolling Stones Magazine and trashes it to pieces.  The world and musicians would have a different viewpoint:

When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder, Thou Will Go.  John Fowler 89, former principal of Vernon Junior High and voice of the Marion Indians during my formative years, WWW2 Vet and local hero, died from complications from a stroke.  I actually he passed on years before. A great man and an Marion Iowa Icon. RIP.

Kelly Holland, vocalist for Cry Of Love, best known for Too Cold In The Winter and Peace Pipe from their Brother album, severe abdominal stomach problems, he was 52.  One of the best pure classic rock vocalists in the grunge era, Holland departure derailed Cry Of Love and they never recovered.

Chip Damiani, drummer for The Remains, one of the best if not the best unknown garage rock bands of the 60s (they could have been real big) suffered a brain hemorrhage, died suddenly at age 71. The Remains recorded a highly sought after LP for Epic and toured with The Beatles before Chip left to go back to school and was replaced by N.D. Smart.  When The Remains reunited back in the 2000's Chip was behind the drums once again.

Harold Ramis, one of the best performers of the SCTV Network when they were on TV and legendary producer director for Animal House, Ghostbusters, STRIPES, Caddyshack and later the Anaylize   This And That Movies passed away at age 69 from a rare disease affecting blood vessels. A all around great guy, Ramis returned to Chicago from LA and could be seen from time to time in the city or Cubs games.

Gail Collins: Infamous lyricist that co wrote Strange Brew and later hooked up and then shot and killed Felix Pappalardi, got jailed and paroled in 1985 and disappeared from view and went to Mexico and lived as a recluse, dead from cancer. She was 71.

Vinyl Lovin:

Sweetwater (Reprise 1969)

Perhaps the most best known unknown band to play Woodstock, Sweetwater made it there on the grounds of their first album which somehow sounds like Jefferson Airplane jamming with Santana to which the latter band exploded on the scene with their Woodstock performance but Sweetwater was left in the archives and became more of an footnote.  Which is a shame really, their first album was very good and with Nansi Nevins sounding like Sandy Denny and Grace Slick, they were destined for at least FM greatness till a car accident sidelined Nevins and they never recovered.  Were they Los Angeles answer to The Airplane?  Not really, they were more varied and Jefferson Airplane would have never employed cello and flute to their sounds.  Starting out with the vocals only of Motherchild Child before going into a Latin groove this begins a journey of early funk, hippie dippy (My Crystal Spider) avant garde passages, protest music (What's Wrong) and good old fashioned RnR (For Pete's Sake) this album actually does beat The Airplane at their own game. In fact I think it's better than Volunteers.  Unlike the Airplane, they didn't have a decent vocalist outside of Nevins and it would show on later albums (haven't heard the second but the third Slices was a hodgepodge affair) but the first album is their classic.  Found a very worn out cover of this album (probably the worst looking album I ever bought) on vinyl but the record itself is in very good shape.   Grade A-

Instrumental Themes For Young Lovers (Columbia/Legacy 1997)

Dedicated to John Fowler.  I remember during my junior high years (better forgotten) that when you went to the principals office they would be listening to the Muzak station at the time WMT FM.  The soft safe sounds of Percy Faith or Ray Conniff or Barry Manilow would fill in there as you would get chewed out for being late or being a brat.  WMT FM later changed formats and went from old time middle of the road music to faceless Cumulus/Clear Channel Corporate Crap to now shitty Bro Country (the even more faceless KISS Country).  I'm off subject so getting back to this.....somebody at Sony Music Inc thought it would be cool to come up with 12 to 13 tracks of muzak sounding lite jazz or lite pop to make this forgettible collection of remembering the local muzak station and for Percy Faith he gets one track to himself (Theme For Young Lovers) and future Muzak practitioners like Andre Pevin, Dave Grusin and Andre Kostelanetz hipping out to the groove of a full orchestra on Cast Your Fate To The Wind or Stella By Starlight.  But it's not all muzak as they would like you to think although on Errol Grant's remake of Misty it is more 100 Strings driven than his Mercury version, the oddball zither that is the hook on Ferrante and Teicher's Blue Moon shows their avant garde side as well.   And the 35 minute time on the record is basic, to the point and out of here before you know it's over.  And probably all for the better for it.   Grade B

Best tracks: Cast Your Fate To The Wind (Joe Harrell) Blue Moon (Ferrante & Teicher)

Jeff Golub With Brian Auger-Train Keeps A Rollin' (E One 2013)

Brian Auger is one of the most underrated musicians out there and for me his best period was in the late 60s and early 70s, making a couple classic albums along the way (Closer To It, Befour) but he was more jazz based than I would have liked back then growing up but then discovered later.  Jeff Golub, a very good jazz guitar player in the tradition of Larry Carlton or a more lively George Benson hooks up with Auger on this record.  Interesting to point out that Golub lost sight in both eyes but the title track comes from an incident that Golub fell on a subject track in front of a uncoming train and got clipped and drag for a bit but survived. Gotta admire him for his sense of humor.  Auger actually gets help from former members of the Oblivion Express (Steve Ferrone who never does wrong be it here, or Tom Petty) and Alex Ligertwood who is the weakest link and singer here. I never cared much for Alex's vocals, he's not Muddy or Mose on I Love The Life I Live and even Brian Auger's original vocal takes on Whenever Your Ready and Happiness Is Around The Corner are still preferable.  The best vocals come from guest singer Christopher Cross who sings on How Long (the Paul Carrack/Ace cover) but in all fairness the best moments come from the instrumentals which dominate the record, the interplay between Golub and Auger are impeccable.  The Police cover of Walking On The Moon is pointless though.  Given that, Train Keeps  A Rollin' while not groundbreaking or classic, remains a nice record to do the laundry or taking a drive down the road.
Grade B


Why Do I Cry-The Remains
Hard To Laugh-The Pursuit Of Happiness
Why Oh Why-Sweetwater
That's The Way I Feel About Cha-Bobby Womack
(Why) Am I Treated So Bad-The Staple Singers
It's Still Warm-Dramarama
Rude Boy-Identity
Whenever You're Ready-Brian Auger Oblivion Express
Pictures Of A Dream-Paul Allen And The Underthinkers


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Black History Month-Big Joe Turner

Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley may have started the big part of the rock and roll era but in my estimation if it wasn't for Louis Jordan, Chuck Berry would still be in hair styling and Bo Diddley a boxer. Yes Louis Jordan was one of the big influence of rock but Big Joe Turner was the other pioneer.  His Atlantic sides remain early rock and roll gold.

Joe Turner goes all the way back to the 1930s during the Kansas City Jazz era and was one of the best blues shouters in that time, but John Hammond had him and Pete Johnson in the famous Spirituals to Swing at Carnegie Hall with the classic It's All Right or Roll Them Pete in 1938, one of the key tracks that foretold the future of rock and roll but that time known as boogie woogie. Throughout the years, Turner would play with the likes of Willie "lion" Smith for Decca with the early jazz blues of I've Been To Kansas City, do a blues duet with Jimmy Witherspoon for Aladdin and selected singles that comprised on the Rock Before Elvis 2 CD set on Stash to which brings the argument that Turner may have been the forefather of rock since Stash put no fewer than five songs on that comp. Recording with a variety of labels (MGM, Swingtime, Freedom, Okeh, Imperial to name a few) there's a few great CDs that are worth getting; the hard to find Jukebox Lil of I Don't Dig It (early imports suggest this came out on the Route 66 label but the CD that I found came from the Czech Republic of the late 80s), Arhoolie's Tell Me Pretty Baby (with Pete Johnson behind the piano) and the EMI Jumpin With Joe which rounds up all his Aladdin and Imperial sides.

But his glory years was with Atlantic and hooking up with wildman Harry Van Walls on Chains Of Love (some of the wildest 88 playing is on that) Turner begin to strike R and B top ten with songs such as Shake Rattle And Roll (later watered down for white folk consumption by Bill Haley And The Comets), the boogie Honey Hush (later done by Foghat), Corrine Correna and TV Mama (with Elmore James playing guitar), Turner benefited from some of the finest Atlantic musicians and production from Jerry Wexler and Ament Ertugen.  But still Turner remained his jazz roots, reuniting with Johnson once again on the classic Boss Of The Blues and the lesser but still entertaining Big Joe Rides Again. And after his tenure with Atlantic, returned more into the Kansas City type of jazz  or straight blues, moving over to Norman Granz, Pablo Records and recorded off and on till his passing in December 1985 after suffering a heart attack.

The Pablo years have their moments although the Very Best Of Joe Turner showed more up to date and less essential takes on Shake Rattle And Roll or Flip Flop And Fly. 1983's Blues Train features him with Roomful Of Blues (Muse) and is produced with love by Doc Pomus and Bob Porter.  The 1985 Pacha Pacha All Night Long collaboration with Jimmy Witherspoon was Turner's last and he wasn't in the best voice and was in ill health.  A curio if you come upon it.  But in my book, his Atlantic albums are required listening.  And his 40s recordings just as good too.

The Albums (incomplete)

Early Big Joe (MCA 1985) A-
I've Been To Kansas City (Decca/MCA 1990) B+
I Don't Dig It (Jukebox Lil 1988 thereabouts) A-
Have No Fear, Big Joe Is Here (Savoy 1982)  B+
Tell Me Pretty Baby (Arhoolie 1991) A-
Jumpin With Joe-The Complete Aladdin and Imperial Sides (EMI 1992) B+
Big Joe Turner's Greatest Hits (Atlantic 1985) A+
Rhythm And Blues Years (Atlantic 1985) A
Boss Of The Blues  (Atlantic 1956) A
Big  Joe Rides Again (Atlantic 1958) B+
Shoutin The Blues (Specialty 1991) B+
Big Bad And Blue (Atlantic 1993) A+
Pacha Pacha All Night Long (Pablo 1985) B-


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hot Air:Nugent's World

Outrageous can be good or in this case a career killer or perhaps in my book an go fucking away and for Ted Nugent it's the latter.  Still remains one of the best guitar slingers in the rock world, Mr. Gonzo's anti Obama and hanging around with the FOX news cronies and paling with Sarah Palin has made him a adverbial poison to the ears and upchucking to the guts. But anybody that's over 67, has a creepy old pussy scraper (IE goatee) and talks about this place would have been better had the south won and slavery still in place deserves their place on the blacklist.  But then again Ted's glory years are way back in the 1970s and he hasn't made one listenable album since leaving Epic for the greener and own your own masters time at Atlantic (reissued via Eagle Rock).

Perhaps the turn it up to 10 may have turned his braincells into right wing gibberish.  Even though Nugent never did any hard drugs or booze for that matter (he does have a clean living attitude of living off the land and remains a avid hunter) stories about his avoiding the draft have been legendary. But then again all pure USA conservatives seem to have that mentality too, avoid the draft and then years later turn around with a made in china US Flagpin telling how much they love their country and at the same time loathe a black president, preaching family values to a Texas GOP running for office and slamming the female opponent and basically telling her go back to the kitchen and put out later.  The problem of this country today, especially from the new Marxists masquerading as the new right. Which George Washington himself warned the new country about. But the nadir of Nugent is his continuing to write stupid songs as a sixty something about the sweet pootang that he has continued to recycled time and time again. Girl Scout Cookies anybody?  He may seriously want to boycott the actual cookies since they're everything he's against except for the underage scout that might pop on his doorstep. The UK cover of his last studio album pretty much sums things up when you see it in the used bins. Tacky.

I told this story before but I have come across Nugent by actually stumbling upon his hideaway out in Michigan about 40 years ago, beer can hunting and having a friend of mine being very nervous and asked him what for.  He mentioned that we're on Nugent's land and he's been known to shoot trespassers but we basically chalked that place up at a loss and got off there in record time.  But at that point Nugent was putting together what would be his classic S/T album for Epic.  Breaking free from his original band The Amboy Dukes, the original band was one of the best garage rock bands to come out of the Detroit area, before the riots and eventual downfall of a proud city into a no man's land.  But Nugent had great sidemen as well, he benefited greatly from John Drake being the vocalist (the late Rusty Day later of Cactus took over soon afterwards) and their Mainstream albums varied from garage rock to even the early stages of prog rock. Nugent continue to kick guys out of the bands for overdoing it on the booze and drugs  and by the time they recorded the awful Rock Bottom for Polydor, Nugent was last man standing.      Moving over to DiscReet, Nugent's Call Of The Wild and Tooth Fang And Claw, Nugent to find his sound and stuck FM gold with Great White Buffalo one of the best songs he ever written.  And beginning with the power riffs of Stranglehold, once a FM cult favorite now overplayed classic, Nugent kicked the door open by making his best album ever.

The three albums he made with Derek St Holmes, Rob Grange and the late great Cliff Davies are his legacy and the best musicians he ever had and Double Live Gonzo is either his high watermark for live recordings or his cheesiest, screaming and raving like a looney on the live Motor City Madhouse or OD on feedback on Hibernation but his band revved it up to 100 miles down a dead end road but after that, St Holmes and Grange left and form St. Paradise with the Denny Carmissi from Montrose to make a unremarkable Warner Brothers album.  Nugent managed to find another decent vocalist, Charlie Huhn and Dave Kiswenthy (sic) for the next four album, the uneven Weekend Warriors, the underrated State Of Shock before Nugent took over the vocals for Wango Tango and farewell Intensities In 10 Cities.  By saying bye bye to Cliff Davies once and for all, Nugent's output from here on out was more spike and jive rather than shock and awe.  And for a time in the 90s,  he checked his ego at the door and joined the minor league supergroup Damn Yankees with Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades and made two pop metal albums which are period pieces of that time. Nobody plays Damn Yankees anymore anyway.

Since then Nugent, has gotten more into politics and more into the right wing shock and jive of Rush (Oxycondin Daddy) Limbaugh and appearing regularly on FOX news, and being Ted, outrageous and silly at the same time.  He found time to appear in a VH1 reality show about over the hill musicians trying to make an album and sharing a house and pissing everybody off in the progress. Nugent's albums in the process has him searching for a sound that tried to fit in the keyboard dominated world of the 80s and even his best selling album of the 80s had him trying to ape the Foreigner sound with future Bad Company throat Brian Howe at the helm. A even more dated sound followed with Little Miss Dangerous and after that nobody cared.  Not even Derek St Holmes and Mike Lutz from Brownsville and Denny Carmissi could save the 1994 and Atlantic farewell Call Of The Wild with Nugent's politicking words (which told more of Nugent's future in TV and radio) and lackluster music didn't fit right. Craveman (2002) was quite listenable but the juvenile Love Grenade forever ruined it. The lyrical creepiness is something that a 12 year old kid would think up after coming across a Penthouse for the first time.   

But Nugent is back and not in a good way, once again blowing his horn for family values and GOP Tea head Greg Abbott. And you know we will not hear the last of Terrible Ted from now till 2016 when he can celebrate the last of Obama's days as POTUS whereas recycling yet another song about teenage Cat Scrach Pootang, his drug of choice.  To each their own I guess.  Perhaps his actions may come back to haunt him, having his own 13 year old conquest and having her dad excersing his 2nd amendment right of guns and the right to defend them by splattering his hide all over the place.  It's a fantasy I know, but Ted better hope that never happens.  Even though he didn't do drugs, his chasing underage girls of 13 and writing about it may have tarnished his cred more than his Right Wing extremist views.  He just chose a different vice.

In the meantime, if you can overlook Ted's Right Wingness, A selection of his work.  For better or worse.

The Amboy Dukes (Mainstream 1967) B+
Journey To The Center Of The Mind (Mainstream 1968) A-
Migrations (Mainstream 1969) B+
Marriage On The Rocks/Rock Bottom (Polydor 1970) C+
Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes (Dunhill Compact Classics) B+
Call Of The Wild (DiscReet 1973) B
Tooth, Fang & Claw (Bizarre Planet 1975) B-
Ted Nugent (Epic 1975) A-
Free For All (Epic 1976) B+
Cat Scratch Fever (Epic 1977) B+
Double Live Gonzo (Epic 1978) B-
Weekend Warriors (Epic 1978) B
State Of Shock (Epic 1979) B+  (Later reissued on American Beat-now out of print again)
Live At Hammersmith 1979 (Epic 1979) NR
Wango Tango (Epic 1980) B
Intensities In 10 Cities (Epic 1981) C
Great Gonzos (Epic 1982) B+
Nugent (Atlantic 1982) C
Penetrator (Atlantic 1984) C
Little Miss Dangerous (Atlantic 1986) C
If You Can't Lick Them, Lick Them (Atlantic 1988) C
Spirit Of The Wild (Altantic 1994) C
Loaded For Bear-Best Of The Amboy Dukes (Epic 1999) B+
Craveman (Eagle 2000) B-
Love Grenade (Eagle 2007) D+

Note: The Atlantic albums were reissued via Eagle Records in 2008.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Record World Playlist 2-19-14

More snow, more cold, and freezing rain now.  This winter continues to wallow in the typical winter years of suck. But spring training has started in Arizona and Florida.  Already Arizona is bitching about the high 80s down there.  Don't like it send it up here.  BTW Saturday gave us another 2 inches and Monday another 8 inches. The winter of discontent 2014 continues!  I wouldn't bitch so much if we didn't have fucking storms every other fucking day. We'll settle for 5 straight days of sunshine if that's possible. Wonder why I can't get out of the driveway?  Here's proof!

There has been some worthy concerts around the area despite the 25 Alberta Clippers we had this winter. Somehow Kacey Musgraves managed to sneak under the radar and played in Madison. And Neutral Milk Motel played to a sold out Majestic Theater crowd.  Never got into them at all. However this weekend on the 22nd Mad City will get to see the one and only Richard Thompson with his son Teddy opening up and is worth going to although I doubt we will go due to the 10 foot snowdrift behind the car.  For the local casino Bret Michaels played a sold out show and even David Cassidy popped in.  For the summertime festivals, George Thorogood will be at the Deleware County Fair in July.  Weather permitting of course.

Death never takes a day off.  Bob Casale, part of the great Devo band has passed from heart failure. Devo everybody knows from Whip It but managed to make a great record and visual career.  Their robotic video of Can't Get No Satisfaction to me remains their best video.

Done in by his own hand and mishandling of snakes: Jamie Coots, reality star of a National Geographic show that I've never seen and pastor of an Kentucky Church was fatally bitten by a poisonous snake and refused treatment for the snake thinking God would save him.  God was tending to other business and Coots was called up yonder.  However  the snake that bit Coots will be used for the next service says son Cody.  In the meantime The WBC, will be there to protest on Coot's burial despite overlooking the Bible's passage of love your neighbor.  When I added a PS that snakes will be provided for the WBC, that tweet got retweeted twice by them, to which I deleted that remark.  They apparently don't know the irony of my comment or too blind to see it.  Or maybe the Kentucky congregation were going to give them free rattlesnakes for showing up. God bless them if they did but if when I go to church I tend to avoid the ones that play with the vipers and the ones that promote hatred from within.   Your beliefs will vary too. 

The parade of clippers and snowstorms has not enabled me to go out and search for new stuff.  In fact another Iowa City venture turned out to be yet another car ride with nothing found.  Kirk at Record Collector is probably laughing at me  since I didn't stop in but his inventory has been thin last time I was there. And basically since Iowa City charges outrageous prices on the parking meters it's beginning to be not worth going downtown.  Half Priced Books threw a few things in the 3 dollar bins, most notably Paul Allen And The Underwriters-Everywhere At Once (Legacy) which is a busman's holiday for the Microsoft Man and kinds of reminds me of Peter Gammon's all star Rounder album of a few years ago, but Allen has a better sound and better help from Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Joe Walsh, Derek Trucks and Ivan Neville to name a few.  My mind begins to wonder later in the album when Allen decides for the blues and R & B rather than rock of Six Strings From Hell featuring Walsh and easily the best thing Joe has done in years. The CD goes on too long but it's still a decent listen before it winds to a halt on Another Sunset. 

I'm not sure what the record is for the longest time of not buying anything new but we're more than halfway through this miserable year and still have yet to buy anything new. Anything on a major label is libel to suck  And GAC continues to show the same old videos of Bro country acts and the usual plot of sun, pickups, half naked or Daisy Dukes wearing models being the love interest of some wallet chain swinging douchebag. No fewer than five videos had the same scenario; Waylon Jennings is rolling in his grave. And of course it's topped off by a Brantley Gilbert video in the tradition of Scarface.  The only time GAC varied the videos was Kacey Musgraves Follow Your Arrow, to which her backing band of guys dressing like Gram Parsons and The Buckeroos clashing with the Bro Country of That's My Kind Of Night, or whoever Cassandra Pope is.  Jana Kramer becoming a distant memory after she broke it off with the OG wannabe B.G. If this is the best that country has to offer, like rock and roll it's going to be a long year for new music and my interest is waning more every day.

Of course the bands that I do like have new albums out, but imports only.  Kings Of The Sun/Rock Till You  Die and it's still straight ahead rock and roll but with Clifford Hoad taking over lead vocals over retired brother Jeffrey, in some ways returning back to their 1988 S/T sound.  The hour and four minute album may be a bit too much for the economical but I never grow tired of three chords and rock and roll.

The other The Len Price 3/Nobody Knows (due March 4) continues their love of 60 British Invasion Rock in the form of The Who and The Kinks and a grumbling concern that Wicked Cool which issued their first three albums will take a pass in favor of Cocktail Slippers.  For the rest of us, if you're into new music comps, Diggy Kat's Songs That Made An Impact 2014 is out as a free download and of course The Townedgers are on it, with their hit single Cannery Row.  Other favorites include Vufcup, Garret Rein, Parker Rose and the enigmatic Stephanie Andreis who's still working on the promotion side God bless her.

It's fun to have some vinyl lovin partys. But since we were not invited, here's some of the latest reviews of past stuff. Well son of a bitch the picture disappeared! Guess I'll find another eye candy.  Let's try this one!

The Best Of The Dells (Tristar/JCI)

One of the best doo wops (when they were on Vee Jay) The Chicago Dells moved over to Cadet/Chess and made a few top ten quiet storm type of songs that would ushered in better seducers like Barry White. (Charles Barksdale's slow raps at the beginning of Oh What A Night may have influenced Barry White come to think of it).  Their best album 1968's uneven There Is showed their strengths and weaknesses in terms of the uptempo and great Wear It On Our Face to which Charles Stepney would recycled and slowed down for Please Don't Change Me Now, the b side.  Although the late great Marvin Junior was main vocalist, John Carter had that high helium tenor vocals that brought out the punctuation of the 6 minute remake of Stay In My Corner which Cadet/Chess had the full 6 minutes on the 45.  One of the longest lasting doo wop band, they would remain together for over 5 decades before the passing of Marvin Junior last year (John Carter left us in 2009). Once Junior passed on The Dells called it a day.  The Best Of The Dells, is a very cheap and poorly recorded artifact of their Cadet/Chess hits and mostly slower ballads which will not be those who like their R and B rocking.  But I still have a fondness for Stay In My Corner, or Oh What A Night and the canned applause of Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation, their 1973 chart topper (produced with Don Davis who later produced two albums from Robin Trower!).  The CD mastering is awful (which seems to the nadir of Tristar/JCI since it seems they got the resources from third rate cassette versions of the hits).  Grade C+

Paul Jones-Starting All Over Again (Collector's Choice 2009)

Once the distinctive voice of the Manfred Mann EMI/Ascot years (Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Sha La La) Jones made a comeback album with Carla Olson (The Textones) producing and for all that matters, it's a so so subpar blues effort. Featuring Eric Clapton on two tracks and Percy Sledge on Big Blue Diamonds, it's a record you play once and then file away.  The title track gets bogged down by an overzealous drummer and Clapton must have been on a coffee break to lay the the tracks down.  Jones can still play the harmonica though.   Grade C

The Crickets-In Style With The Crickets (Coral)

The death of Buddy Holly robbed The Crickets on the one distinct thing that made them one of the best pioneering garage rock bands of the 50s, to which somehow doomed replacement David Box managed to capture a more nicer Buddy Holly sound on Peggy Sue Got Married and Don't Cha Know before Earl Spinks came on board to record a pedestrian garage rock album that the world really didn't need another Great Balls Of Fire or Rock n Roll Phenomena but at time echoed the foundation that Buddy laid down previously with inspired Buddy imitations like Ting A Ling or A Sweet Love.  It's the bonus cuts that make this album a keeper, with the original I Fought The Law and Love's Made A Fool Of You, the latter cut that Bobby Fuller used for his own hit a few years later before mysterious circumstances cut his life short.  After that, the Crickets went pop and for the worst but In Style is the missing piece that bridges the gaps before the great downfall. And maybe the future was with David Box. (later reissued on Bear Family and Jasmin in various configurations)

Grade B+    

Peggy Sue Got Married (Complete Version)
B side Don't Cha Know (David Box Vocals)


House On Pooh Corner-Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Baby Please Don't Go-Nancy Sinarta
Train Kept A Rolling-Jeff Golub with Brian Auger
Shake Off The Demon-Brewer & Shipley
Give It To Me-J. Geils Band
Your Own Backyard-Mott The Hoople
New Twist-Frank Frost
Reason To Believe-Tim Hardin
Dust My Broom-Elmore James (1951)
Night Time-George Thorogood & The Destroyers

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rock And Roll And The Operations Mandate And How It Failed.

It was almost a year ago that our hot shot operations manager marched everybody into the cafeteria and made an announcement that our printing department would be moving up to Onatonna Minnesota and those who wanted to go could but those who didn't would have to either take a buyout or take a chance in the pool and hope not to get demoted to packaging.  You'll love Minnesota said Gordon, you'll love it even more since it snows more than it does here, hard to believe.

In the year past that shock we have to come to conclude one thing.  And that's Gordon is an idiot. The transfer move to Minnesota with printing didn't worked out as well because Gordon failed to realize at the time that he was stealing our work to keep his Minnesota workers happy and working all year around was that the Minnesota plant was much more smaller than the one we had here in town.  It also goes to show that management with their packaging conspirators also are idiots too.  The scanning that is now in Iowa City which is supposed to move up to C.R. is going to be crammed into a smaller building.   I don't mind the shorter drive to work but not going to be too thrilled in the packing us into like sardines.  A very poorly planned and ill timed maneuver if you can call it that.

This winter working in scanner and at times being loaned out to packaging has been a clash of differences. The hectic and chaos that is packaging is shorted into 9 minute breaks (which is supposed to be 10 but we got paid yahoos to watch the clock to called out BREAK when it happens and then watches the time and count people who are 10 seconds late back from break and short them a pay or two.  Whereas in scanner we work with a more lenient and tolerable attitude.  Though I work better with the former co workers in printing down in packaging, it's the seniors and bosses that tend to take advantage of the situation and nit pick on each and every little thing that happens.  Which includes blowing a gasket if you have a open container on the production line.  Or the packaging boss blow on and on about things that don't matter to you but serve up old hot dogs from the day shift and trying to get a dollar out of these overcooked e coli in the works.  Whereas in scanner we have pot lucks and free food whereas in packaging paying 50 cents for brownies just to have it go to Pearson Cares.

Basically we were going into darker days when somebody decided to make Gordon, the Onatonna head of operations up there to be one down here and we never seen him that much, unless he came down just to see what he could steal back up there and leave us down here dangling in the breeze.  The type of guy that you don't want to turn your back to, otherwise you might get a knife in the back.  I do not have a high opinion of him, another of these rah rah guys, that got hired out of someplace else, and have no clue on how we operate as a company and decided to do things his way.  And that was his elaborate plan, to keep his workers happy, displaces the ones down here and to make a big mess out of everything and throw money down the drain and move printers and scanners to a more cramped and hostile working conditions.  I'm always amazed at some of the things that I heard from Conrad up there about how bad it is and how Gordon didn't have a clue or concept on how big things were down here.  But then again Gordon knows everything.  In other words, he's an idiot.

At this time last year we begin to prepare to say goodbye to our team and wondered how things would turn out once September rolled around.  And half a year into scanning I still conclude that even though my new co workers are eccentric and not exactly commandeering, some of them are even more oddballs than myself, at least they do help you when you have questions.  The bond and closeness of my old printing mates after 20 years of being together is sorely missed.  Up in packaging the scanning co workers and I don't associate at all, unless it's Jack talking sports.  Usually the main bitcher, is usually sucking down a gallon plate of spaghetti and complaining he's gotta make an hour trip up to Packaging land to get from where he lives. And has a 4 year college degree and still works at a crappy job.  We all do, I just do the best of what I got and move on and try to keep up.

But some good news has come out of this and it may have been too late to save the printing department, but we have managed to win a big sized contract that will make up for the loss of the California project that was one of the cornerstones of why we continue to work at Pearson Inc and it will keep me working for at least another five years (God willing if I haven't had a stroke yet, or better yet win the lottery and finally retire with my own blue cart-those who retire in the company get their own personalized blue carts for their tenure spent at the company, a long standing tradition).  One that a rationable   person would think of not moving every GD thing up to a shorter work space and perhaps leaving things be.  Which means even though I'd be driving an extra 20 miles to work, that in Iowa City you have space to breathe and park carts when the busy season starts up.  I might be even thinking outside the box on this, but perhaps maybe even Printing moving back to CR if this doesn't work out and leaving scanning be? Or maybe this is wishful thinking on my part.  But if Gordon and management continues to trek on moving scanning into a even more cramped CR in July, catastrophic and damaging things may happen.  But then again Gordon may just skip out like Russ Gaglarti did back in 99, took the money and run and get somebody to buy out the place.

To which I say, mergers and buyouts do not help the average worker, only the investors and those with company stock benefit from this and the average worker either adapts or gets laid off.  Most of the scanning folks that I work with act like rats jumping off a sinking ship, in it for themselves as they try to get on to other departments, namely phone work and that's not my cup of tea. We'll still have a job be it scanning or the dreaded and close by packaging department once things move up there.  But there's still time to right the wrongs and keep things where they work at best.   I'd love to move on to a better job and a happier outcome, but sad to say the record store business hasn't been all that great either and there's less and less of them now.

So we try to do our best with what we have and hope we can make a difference so that our customers do come back. I still care of what I do and with the folks that I work alongside with, but I wished I can go back to this infamous Town Hall meeting that the dumbass ops manager from Minnesota came up with and smack him upside the head for all the turmoil that he has brought upon us the past year.

He didn't do any favors to anybody but for himself and the profit line.

Which is why he's still an idiot.

Update:  Our wonderful place of employment continues to lose contracts left and right and once again we had the annual meeting of them looking for people to buy out and not work for a year and it's getting very tempting not to say no.  Since I have a car payment for the next couple years can't do it, not right now anyway.  However I may have to take a furlough for one of the summer months since we won't be working. And maybe use that time to clean up the house and get rid of some hoarder shit.  Still, we have a job but not taking the buyout, we are rolling the dice once again.  With our business trying to get everybody to go online for their testing (amazing how the internet has been killing our livelihood all these years with record and book stores closing up and now the limeys trying to get everybody to go paperless) it seems that we are on borrowed time once again.  With Gordon whooping it up in Austin and probably looking for more stuff to take back to Minnesota to keep his printing help going, we were spared of his rah rah BS about taking one for the company will make us better.  Not really, it's making us look bad in spite of us losing two major big contracts, I'm still hoping to tough this out for another 5 five years or when my boss finds a better job.  The way it's been going in this life and so far this year is even worse that last year.  But we're survive, one way or another.

Update 2:  Gordon continues to move printing ops up to Minnesota by announcing that he's going to take away the IBM printers for springtime processing another stupid move in another spring season already in chaos in January.  The old familiar faces of the temps are back, all the way to Buzzard Lady and The Psycho Couple, a woman and her boyfriend/hubby giving dagger eyes to anybody who stares at his woman for more than 2 seconds.  And of course the usual rah rah bullshit of the clueless idiot that is head of operations in our town telling everybody they are needed and no excuses if you're two seconds late or if the weather sucks.  A clash of ideas, if the Iowa State Patrol and the Weather Bureau and the IDOT telling people that travel is not recommended or if there's ice on the road, the wonderful Tracy can get in his newest Mustang and come get us.  Packaging boss Jeff was not amused at the comment about having buses coming to get us either but this the logic of a corporate department, intending to close up shop in five years and putting everybody out on the unemployment lines, unless you want to travel up to Minnesota for a chance to continue to work in printing. But then again Gordon is typical Corporate, and if you're not one of his guys, you get passed upon.  Come springtime during another Town Hall Meeting aka Layoff Two Oh One Five, I'm sure Gordon will be happy to pass out severances to fed up employees who gave it their all and all they got was being docked point one for being 1 second late, or having to work the weekend for overtime due to Management incompetence.  The only hope is to be brought by a more sympathetic company and restore things how they used to be but I won't see that in my lifetime.  Nor yours. .

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Record World Playlist 2-12-14

Another weekend, another snowstorm, another sub zero day after. Repeat often.  The story of winter this year.  I guess the rest of the world has cabin fever, I had more 100 views days this month than all of January. The new format is easier to do but everybody likes to see pictures.  I try to pick the best pics but sometimes I lose them when I revisit the top tens of the past and then have to find a substitute. Sometimes it's a bigger pain in the ass than trying to pick ten songs of the week and make observations of them.

Winter hangs on. Two straight nights of below 20 night time temps, both record setting lows but the thinking is that we have seen the last of this below zero shit. Indications are forecasting for warmer weather (40 or even 50s next week?) but of course we got to get through this week and another snowstorm for tomorrow. Besides it should start warming up since it's already the middle of February?!

Better Than Ezra (remember them?) has signed up to The End Records and will release a new album this spring with Michael Jerome from Richard Thompson's band playing drums.  Might be worth a listen to. 

In the great depression, Shirley Temple managed to get America through some of the hard times but making memorable movies, Good Ship Lollipop, Animal Crackers In My Soup, every kid used to sing that when they were that young. Later became Ambassador to Ghana and later Czechoslovakia during their 1988 year of freedom Shirley Temple Black foresaw the changes of that country.  She had three children in her life, one Lori became bass player for a time in The Melvins.  But now she is for the ages, dancing into the sunset along to Good Ship Lollipop one last time. She was 85.

This is a slow week for music but the Cracked piece i posted last week about ways to make it in the music biz pretty much sums up how bad the music scene really is, and the major labels in particular.  It also suggests how bad country music is, when you see about 15 songwriters on a single song.  Didn't use to be that way.  It sucks really bad today and not about to get better. But this is so dead on about the music industry that I thought I post it again.

My love affair with XM radio is slowly coming to an end.  Deep Tracks may as well rename themselves The Pink Floyd Channel since that's all they play when I'm in the car.  Or on the weekend, it's supposed to be Deep Tracks from other bands!  Underground Garage still remains the go to channel until Springsteen comes on and it's on to 60's on 6 and then 50s on 5, which is interesting for all the obscure songs that they play on the radio. Even the 60s played a Randy And The Rainbows song I never heard. The big discovery is Soul Town with old soul and R and B from the 60s and 70s, falling out of favor: Classic Vinyl and Classic Rewind; if we want to hear that we'll turn on the FOX. Or KRNA

Vinyl Lovin:

Rammstein-Herzelein (Motor/Mercury 1995)

For many years I never got into Rammstein, perhaps the reason why they sang in German and nobody could understand them unless you were German. However this band was unique in their way of taking Metallica riffs along with Killing Joke and Neu type of rock and Krautrock and the lead singer had a voice that recalls those long time Nazi songs.  A madness to their method but this didn't get issued in the states till after the oddball success of Sehnsucht. No matter, Rammstein's music, a combination of heavy metal, Industrial and Groove trace has made them one of the most original bands of the 90s, even if you don't speaketh the deuche there's a certain menace and tension that lacks in lesser bands and it sounds like it in Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen and Der Meister, even throwing in grunge on Seeman, a track I don't get into but they have used this as a closing theme at their show.   I haven't heard anything after their 1999 Live In Berlin CD although I'm sure it's just as jarring and intense as anything like Herzelein. And even after 20 years together all six members are still together and still playing. And a hell lot more fun than the Nu metal jokes like Korn, or Mudvayne or Godsmack.

The Association-Birthday (WB 1968)

They got the hits but lost the critics' love (not that they had much critical love in the first place) but The Association remains one of the more curio bands of the 60s.  Forever damned by the cuteness  of Cherish or Never My Love which could have worked for a good folk rock song, their albums had plenty of variation and perhaps the best of them (Insight Out) showed they had more country rock than what AM radio played them for.  The album covers are buyer beware and Birthday which makes you think it's a psychedelic album continues in the pop rock vein that Bones Howe laid down on them and although Birthday sold well, it was considered a disappointment and a sales decline. The key track Come On In, tells of the future that the band wanted to go in and they would for the S/T and Stop Your Motor albums and you really can't blame them for trying something different. They still had hits, Time For Livin, which turned out to be their only top ten British hit and Everything That Touches You, a psycho pop song in a way but reminded me a bit of what The Moody Blues would do (and better). And Like Always, another attempt to revisit the soft rock of Never My Love with lesser results. Birthday while not bad, isn't hippy dippy as the cover art would like you to think it was.  The Association was never Hippy Dippy even if they did sing about Pandora's Golden Heebee Jeebees.  Or Along Comes Mary for that matter.  They were too professional to even be considered hippies anyway and perhaps the best song left off Birthday, Six Man Band would have confused everybody further. But to ever think what if, consider this: Jimmy Webb actually offered them a little something called MacArthur Park to which they turned down, it was too long.  That could have been their 24 minute opus which would  have blown their reputation out of the water. Which leaves Birthday, with the smooth type vocals and pleasant background music that we have come to expect from The Association.

The Animals-Rip It To Threads Live (IRS 1984)

My favorite band of the British Invasion, their catalog got shredded to bits, Abkco issued the early years in a box set last December and it's a must have for those who want to hear some of the roughest and toughest R and B covers ever.  But The Animals have been an imploding band from within and in a matter of three years Eric Burdon would be the last man standing as he went hippy dippy and made some of the over the top and boring psychedelic albums but decent singles (Sky Pilot, Monterrey).  The original Animals regrouped twice, once in a one off recording in 1977 (Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted) and in 1983 buried the hatchet once again and made a subpar album (Ark) and this fiasco live recording, poorly recorded and half the times Burdon sounds way off key.  Few times things seem to connect, Bring It On Home actually works itself out to be listenable and Oh Lucky Man turns out the be the best song played.  But it would been better served had IRS Records spent a bit more time (and effort) to find better versions played live than just do a one and done recording.  This doesn't represent The Animals at their best  at all but rather tarnishes their legacy.  This was not the way to go out.

Reissue Theory:
Camper Von Beethoven-Our  Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart/Key Lime Pie (Omnivore)

CVB "sellout" albums period when they jumped on the big record money machine called Virgin and issued two albums of varying degree but now reissued and pumped up with bonus tracks which adds to the mystery that is CVB.  David Lowery's play on words has been a joy to hear (take off your jewelry you look like Grace Slick!) and sometimes the instrumentals were even better (Eyes Of Fatima part 2, Waka). But losing Jonathan Siegel on Key Lime Pie and replacing him with the less talented but striking beauty Morgan Fichter made the music a bit more one dimensional although they scored a freak hit with a cover of Pictures Of Matchstick Men.  Although Key Lime Pie was (at that time) the demise of CVB, you can hear the future in this on Lowery's next band Cracker, which is more of an extension of CVB ideas but with more emphasis on rocking out and would have varying success with it for the rest of Lowery's time with Virgin.  On the whole, Revolutionary Sweetheart is the much better of the two but if you can withstand crappy digipacking the bonus tracks would make a nice investment for those who missed out and tells a better story overall. But since I don't see any need of upgrading I'll just rely on the original album intents.  

And finally The Beatles 50th concert Sunday Night on CBS was a nice way to remember the Fab four when they invaded The Ed Sullivan Theater and changed music.  The usual flavor of the month bands were there and doing from good to overblown (Alicia Keys screaming out a verse which ruined Let It Be she was doing with John Legend, too bad she didn't take the song's advice and let it be) and watching John Mayer and Keith Urban take Don't Let Me Down's original and turn into a showoff case of who can top who on guitar playing.  And Brad Paisley's guitar was slightly out of tune as well.  I also find it amusing to see Dave Grohl smashing cymbals left and right but you can never really hear them on the Joe Walsh/Gary Clark Jr While My Guitar Gently Weeps.  But the night belonged to the surviving Beatles, Ringo Starr popping back on the drums to do the song Boys to which 80 something Yoko Ono was showing off her dancing moves and pissing off the Yoko haters on Twitter.  I actually found that quite fun.  But then Paul Mac comes up with his band (with Buddha lookalike Abe Lanoniel Jr pounding away on the drums-he's basically has managed to make Paul's band rock out a little bit harder) but Paul looked like he had a good time on Birthday and the song that fired off the shot in TV land 50 years ago with I Saw Her Standing There and then Get Back.  The night belonged to them as Ringo joined up with the Sgt Pepper/Little Help From My Friends medley to which Ringo bounced around the stage and got everybody up to sing.  And then the obligatory ending of Hey Jude to which the show ends on a high note. Of course it may have not been like it was 50 years ago but it was close enough despite John and George not being there. And perhaps Julian Lennon should have been there to join in the fun and games, if this was 1985 he would have been there to sign along to Hey Jude.  Nevertheless, this is the closest you'll ever see of a major television event in music ever again, despite what one of the yayhoos in One Direction thinks.  The magic of the Beatles will remain long after the stale pop of One Direction gets designated for reassignment in the dollar bins at the local thrift store. 


Cuddly Toy-Roachford
Come On Darkness-Camper Von Beethoven
Runner-Manfred Mann's Earth Band
Boys-The Beatles
The Headmaster's Ritual-The Smiths
All Coon's Look Alike To Me (1902)-Arthur Collins
Come On In-The Association
All Day And All Of The Night-The Kinks
Illumination Theory-Dream Theater
Stay In My Corner-The Dells

Friday, February 7, 2014

Blast From The Past-Four Seasons Who Loves You

I never been much of a Four Seasons fan, the high pitched falsetto of Frankie Valli sometimes puts me off and makes me change the channel whenever I hear Sherry or Candy Girl.  Upon hearing Private Stock's long deleted Four Seasons Story, I never quite caught on although without the direction of Bob Crewe and main Seasoner Bob Gaudio they would not have the hits.  There's personal favorite songs of note: Working My Way Back To You or Opus 17 (don't you worry about me) and B side Beggar's Parade.  They were a singles band, their albums tended to grate although the Genuine Imitation Life Gazette remains a curio classic, their response to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Like most teen idol bands their hits dried up and moving over to Motown didn't help either and The Four Seasons were regulated into oldies history, until they paired up with the evil Mike Curb and with help from Warner Brothers put out Who Loves You, a somewhat now dated attempt to go disco with the title track and nostalgia in the overplayed December 1963 (Oh what a night).  What got me to buy the album was their third single from that album Silver Star an underrated classic of a song that was bypassed on regular radio.  Kinda epic in its way, it begins with the piano driven beginning and is that a french horn doing the lead riff? At six minutes, Warners chopped it down to three and a half minutes. And starts out the record on a high note.

Listening to Who Loves You today still manages to hold up although the fast forward button gets pushed for Oh What A Night.  Gerry Polci, and Don Ciccone  compliments Valli fairly well since he could not hit the higher notes better than Frankie could at that time.  Even though there's the usual MOR fare (Slip Away) and pop songs via harmonies (Harmony Perfect Harmony) they attempt to shake things up with new wavish Mystic Mr Sam (B side to Silver Star) and Gaudio's attempt of prog rock; Emily Salladedanse (which actually ends on side 2 of the LP).  These two songs alone put a more varied and variety sound on Who Loves You.   And for these ears the WB album of Silver Star/Harmony/Storybook Lovers/Who Loves You and Side 2 Mr Sam, Dec 1963, Slip Away, Emily Salladeetcetc had a better flow than the Curb CD that came out in the 90s which rearranges the whole album into Who loves you, Mr Sam, Silver Star, Emily, Storybook, Dec 1963, Harmony, Slip Away in that order, which really shows more of a decline in song arrangement.   But still easier to take than the rest of the albums that the Four Seasons would put out, the disappointing Helicon, with Valli becoming more behind the scenes and Gerry Polci and Don Ciccone doing most of the vocals. Later, even more duller albums such as 1985 Streetfighter and 1991's bizzare Hope + Glory was forced upon the world, the latter Gaudio relying too much on the despised syn-clavier and not enough on songs.

Which leaves Who Loves You as the last genuine 4 Seasons album you could listen to.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Record World Playlist 2-5-14

At 71 years old Robert Christgau continues to pop out his faves for the best of last year and how he managed to find more decent music to put on the best of list is beyond me.  I think he had more LPs on his list than I did for the total reviews of 2013.  This year's promises to be even less.  I didn't buy a single new album at all last month.

I admire Bob to continue to mine the world music market and of course rap, although when I turn 71 I'll like rap as much as I did when I was 53.  Few and far between.  You'll have to dig through till number 61 when Ashley Monroe's Like A Rose and two spots down Kacey Musgraves' album to see the only 2 record we liked enough to include on our lists. Only other album we have in our list: number 73 Pistol Annies' Annie Up.  Which might be their last album from rumblings down below.  But then again most new music that comes from the major labels is shit anyway.  Don't believe me read this:

Winter continues to suck here. Clippers coming left and right and cold air but out in the west they can't buy a storm or can't come up with the right rain dance.  Over in the UK, they're drowning in floods once again.  You either drowning in it or being dried up with no rain the big case of climate change over the past ten years to which the earth got knocked off it's track around the sun by a half a millimeter which might explain the fucking weird weather of the past 10 years.   Can't wait for spring and the rainy season flooding the basement once again.

The 55th annual winter dance party hit the Surf Ballroom to a sold out crowd in the three nights up there. I spaced it off but Los Lobos was the the featured act due to a certain Richie Valens song.  They did play up in Makato the night before to a sparse but appreciative crowd. 

Other notables, still alive and still able to make it up there was Tommy Allsup (the last member of that touring Crickets, (unless Carl Bunch is still alive), the great Albert Lee, Chris Montez, ole Chubby Checker as well. The first night (Thursday) Tommy Roe, The Four Preps and Jimmy Gilmer with what's left of the Fireballs. And Friday was Jimmy Clanton and the Original Drifters (?), plus the oldies band Whitesidewalls. For happenings 55 years ago, this time out the press covering this was lax at best and even I overlooked this while repeating the old blog over the weekend about the original show.  There's always a thought that I will make it up there next time they have this, but since it's always GD cold and fucking snowing I shrug and say there's always next year.  Forthcoming acts are Scotty McCreerey, Atlanta Rhythm Section, REO Speedwagon and later in March Queensryche with Stryper opening up.  I'm guessing this is the band that booted Geoff Tate out and made one of their best albums in a while.  Worth going to although you may want to pass on the opening act.

Goodwill in Iowa City has now moved into the old Office Max building off US 6 across from the Salvation Army which used to be the old Audi's which Audi's has a new place of their own too.  But it's been a down year even for Half Priced Books, I didn't buy a single thing in there last month either.

Cliff Hoad continues to keep Kings Of The Sun going, I mentioned in a comment at the Sweden Music Festival this summer that it would be nice to see them play but they're playing with a wide variety of bands (Foghat, Rainmakers come to mind) and Clifford was kind enough to be a Facebook friend.  Haven't heard much of their recent stuff, but their RCA albums are both classic, Full Frontal Attack  blowing AC/DC out of the water with that 1990 album.  Too bad Kings Of The Sun never did make it big.

Ratings for last month was 2100 half than the best month ever and back to the long decline, only the Phil Everly tribute blog and 1/14/14 playlist made it past 25 views. Only one day I've seen 100 views or more, and only 3 of last month's blogs made it in the top ten of the month.  Perhaps it's time to retire this since there's not much of an interest anymore from both sides of the fence.

Ground hog Day, another piss poor excuse to wake up a rodent and piss him off to say more winter.  Phil fucked up last year's prediction, I take no stock in grumpy gophers.  Nor top hat fruitcakes that teases groundhogs.  Crabb predicts winter till March 21st. (at the earliest).

Super Bowl was a Seahawks blowout 43-8 and the commercials were hit and miss, mostly misses. I think I liked the Bob Dylan Chrysler spot and the Radio Shack Back To The 80s bit but I didn't think much of the Budweiser heart tugging ones nor the even more dumber Bud Light spots.  Any spots that shows people driving off cliffs, or having drivers speeding 100 MPHs and having dumbass captions like Professional Driver Do Not Attempt are disqualified for touting stupidity. The Jackass Syndrome we call it.  Gwen, the charismatic puppeteer  making lady did one of the more eye opening commercials when she quit her job to go into her new career via Go Daddy.  Wish her luck.

And you may not agree with me but Bruno Mars did put on a super performance during halftime, even the cameo by Red Hot Chili Peppers was tolerable.  Bruno is a natural born entertainer and has a much longer lasting value than say, Justin Beaverbizkits. Anybody that starts out with a drum solo does get crabb points.

It was three ago this date that Beaker Street with Clyde Clifford signed off for the very last time. And I guess it's forever history now. 

Elly Mayday, here's hoping you can beat cancer.  Thoughts and prayers  be with you.

Vinyl Lovin:  Paul Rodgers-The Royal Sessions (429)

Paul has always been one of the best, if not the best vocalist in rock history and it's just a shame that he never did record a proper R n B album till now, working with what's left of the Hi Rhythm band that made the great albums for Al Green to make a decent tribute album that pays homage to the fallen (Sam Cooke, Albert King and of course Otis Redding who figures greatly in half the songs).  Of course classic rock radio won't play this, there's no rock and roll but a soul album that Paul took great care of doing the songs his way.  It's 40 years too late but for a soul tribute album, it's much better than the Billy Sherwood produced Muddy Waters tribute album that Victory put out 20 years ago.  This stays true to the roots that inspired Paul. If you like this record, well, there's a treasure chest full of Otis Redding's albums for the original source.


Hazy Shade Of Winter-The Bangles
Well Well Well-The Hives
Same Old Grind-Omar And The Howlers
I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down-Sam & Dave
Well All Right-Buddy Holly
The Big Bopper's Wedding-The Big Bopper
Sharing You-Bobby Vee
Come On Let's Go-Richie Valens
The Great Salt Lake-Band Of Horses
Get It-Dave Edmunds

Can't get enough of Ivy Doomkitty?  Here she is with a couple of her friends.

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