Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Playlist-Brother Leon


I love Leon Russell, most folks do.  He's had a long and storied career, being one of the main arrangers for some of the acts on Phillips/Liberty, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, Brian Hyland, and then became part of the Mad Dogs And Englishmen for Joe Cocker before forming his own label Shelter and putting together three very good albums and two turds.  And then the disaster with Mary McCreary and even more turds for Paradise/Warner Brothers.   I still think his 1992 effort Anything Is Possible for Virgin had its moments with Bruce Hornsby but Elton John hooking up with him on The Union somehow freed Russell and he helped Elton by putting a fine performance despite over the top gospel singers that sunk that album.  Thankfully the soul sisters took the day off and staying on Universal, Russell has put together his best album since Anything Is Possible with Life's Journey. Produced by Tommy LiPuma, and recorded by Al Schmitt, two of the finest jazz folks this also features the like of Budda Abe Lanoial Jr. (Paul McCarthney), Willie Weeks (famed session player) this record focuses in on what makes Leon Russell who he is.  Giving props to R and B he covers Fever (Little Willie John) and you know when Leon gets into it when he does that banshee scream he's famous for.  He can rock out when the time calls for it on Big Lips and pays homage to Ray Charles with not one but two of Ray's better known stuff (That Lucky Old Sun and Georgia On My Mind).  He can also do dixieland with the album closer Down In Dixieland, or go into blues with Come On In My Kitchen. Or big band jazz with I Got It Bad And That's Not Good.  The downside is that Russell tends to nod us off on the slower numbers, while good, three in a row tends to lose the momentum that the first five songs started out with.  However the Paul Anka cover is the nadir but that's nitpicking.  Leon tends to think that this album might be his last chapter and at age 72 he might be in the final stages of a long and industrious career with many highs and some lows, which you can probably tell by the cover picture of a thoughtful Leon, all long hair and scraggy beard and on the other side him reading the Bible.  He has been at peace with himself and always humble toward everybody.  I recall him playing in 1989 with Edgar Winter after a long hot day watching Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult, Atlanta Rhythm Section and a couple others, and remember seeing him dark sunglasses and cowboy hat making to the stage and he put on a pretty good show anyway.  But in the lateness of life, it's good to see him back in the spotlight, with Elton John providing support and making his second good record in a row, we just about gave up on him when those Paradise albums came out.  His voice may not be as powerful as it once was (usually folks 70 or over have that problem) but the man can still play the hell out of the grand piano.  Think Of Me he sings?  You Bet

Life's Journey
Grade B+

Okay so the lovefest that was the Jann Wanner Music Hall Of Fame went without a hitch although Bruce Springsteen's long winded speech killed the all star jam session but then again.....I think this if they still wanted to do an all star jam is to pack some out of the way bar and do it that way.  But this hall of fame is more like the No Fun Hall Of Fame, where rebellion is against the rules, which would have been fun had Ace done New York Groove instead of the Wanner approved Highway To Hoboken.  I don't comment much on that HOF anymore, it makes no sense.  You might hate Lars Ullrich from Metallica but he's got it right that Deep Purple should be in the hall.  And Paul Stanley right by saying the record buyers should have more pull, then than stuffed shirts who own the place.  Fuck them.

You folks in Waterloo/Cedar Falls I have no idea where you can get your new music fix at but for the first time in almost four years I returned back to that pitiful town in search of things I didn't have and walked away with 2 LPs, Orleans One Of A Kind and Trio's 1981 S/T.  The folks at St Vincent De Paul really cleaned up the record room from the last time and managed to arrange things.  But Stuff Etc, the pawnshops and Goodwill had nothing of note and I got to the Independence Goodwill too late to see what they have. It was a very warm and windy day but by 7:30 the storm clouds gather and surrounded me when I was in downtown Independence taking in a breather by the Wapsi.  Prior to the night, we have no rain whatsoever and was 7 inches in the red, in severe drought, but that's gone by the wayside since the hated rains returned for most of the night and most of Sunday.  We don't need to go from drought to flood.  But on a plus, this monsoon did stop the grass fires around the area.

Waterloo has changed big time in the last time I was there, the roads are more fucked up than ever before and the backroads to St. Martan Blvd have been eliminated, leaving with roadblocks to turn around and come back the way before, but the old houses on Huntington and Ridgeway where I used to live at are still standing, The traffic on Ridgeway continues to suck like it did in 1968 and the traffic lights worse.  Once upon a time Waterloo had some fine music stores, Cd Warehouse, Co Op and Cd's Plus were the go to places but they're now all distant memories.  Pizza Ranch I went for supper and ended up paying for it, and making an emergency stop to use a toilet along the way.  But then the fucking storm of the week may have also been the major cause of nerves here.  When people pray for rain, they usually get it but get way too much than needed.  I didn't ask for this shit.

So we lost some people along the way.  Jesse Winchester, the cult artist singer songwriter that became a draft dodger and didn't tour America in the 70s and lost all momentum died at age 69 from cancer.  Bob Lefsetz did a nice post on Jesse on his site mentioning that Jesse was on Ampex, the label most famous for making crappy 8 tracks that wouldn't last past 10 plays.  Actually, Jesse Winchester was on Bearsville for most of his career and Albert Grossman who ran that label tended to slight his roster.  Jesse's biggest hit was Say What which made it to number 32 in 1981.

As we continue to limp along through the month with subpar ratings and no 100 views for the past week, I was intrigued by some of the archives that made it in the top 10 of the day but it also brought back unwanted memories of the goth bitch that was Ditchell Williams, the infamous snatchapple that gave a neutral rating on a 2 dollar Johnny Guitar Watson Cd I should have just donated to Goodwill.  She also tried her hand of being a stand up comedian.  That failed.

Cumulus Corporate Radio sucks (but you knew that) but KKRQ's Classic Cafe at noon they managed to actually play some obscure album cuts and forgotten songs of the 70s and 80s or 90s for that matter. Mark Pitz has done a good job playing The Pusher by Steppenwolf, or Jerry Douchette's Mama Let Him Play (which made this playlist this week) and Quiet Riot.......Slick Black Cadillac.  Good stuff but a slight problem, Pitz seems to talk over the introduction, and what is it about The Pusher they use that they edited out the GD the Pusherman part?  Kinda reminds me of Underground Garage's butchering of Time Has Come Today by The Chambers Brothers. Classic Cafe, to which sometimes even I shut up and enjoy the music. Then after one I go back to CDs. Feel free to check out their site but knowing y'all you'll be staring at the foxy chicks eye candy.

BTW did you see the Blood Moon Monday night?  It kept me up way past my bedtime but I managed to hang in there and watch the moon being swallowed up the darkness till around 2 AM when for the next 45 minutes got to see the moon go from orange to pink to red.  The 25 degree temps made it hard to stay outside for very long (I actually managed to see it all from the comfort of my computer chair and window outside) but did manage to grab a coat and watch as the moon got darker and all the stars hidden from the moonlight begin to come out.  I think we have a few more chances of another moon eclipse in the next couple years but thankfully the rain was gone, the clouds disappear and we got to see it.


Vinyl Lovin:

The Strypes-Snapsnot (Virgin/EMI/Island)

50 years ago, we had the Beatles conquering America but back in the UK young start ups like The Yardbirds and The Who would take things more radically.  Maximum R and B they call it and 50 years later this Irish band of upstarts show off their love of The Yardbirds and The Who as well as Pub rock geniuses Dr Feelgood.  I'm sure some of these lad's folks were not even born when the originals were roaming the pub scene. Ross Ferrelly's use of harmonica hasn't been used this much since Keith Relf was alive and did I mention that these guys are into Bo Diddley and Nick Lowe too?  When I saw that they did Heart Of The City on this CD, I had to buy this and see how it sounds and these guys tear it up. In some way The Strypes are like The Len Price 3, in the Max R and B style but while the LP3 like their Who and Kinks too, The Strypes perfer their Who and Yardbirds and pub rock too.  They owe nothing to the autotuner pro tools polish crap that is music today, it's punk raw and it's shocking that this came out on a major label (their management is associated with Elton John).  They're one up on the LP 3 this time out, they don't limit themselves to the 2 and half minute mantra that sometimes drags the other band's efforts.  And I haven't heard anything this radical on a major since The Godfathers were on Epic in the 80s. They know hooks, they know a good lyric (the lyric about not being bad as Lee Van Cleef on Angel Eyes is worth the price of admission alone) and their Rolling And Tumbling (their version although they do give Muddy Waters credit) is their nod to The Yardbirds (via Drinking Muddy Water) or even Cream for that matter.  Just when I'm about to give up on new music, a band like the Strypes will come along, borrow a thing or two from the past and turn it into their own sound and get me interested again.  Here's hoping we hear more from them in years to come.
Grade A-

Ruben And The Jets-Con Safos (Mercury 1973)

Not Frank Zappa's project but rather Ruben Guevara, who came up to Frank after a show and told him how much he love the Cruisin with Ruben And The Jets and somehow impressed Frank enough to let Ruben use the band name for two albums for Mercury.  This album not produced by Frank (the first one, For Real was Zappa produced) shows a West LA answer to J. Geils Band but with a heart more in in the doo wop rather than blues.  It's standard bar band music at the time and Con Safos pales next to For Real.  It's okay but it makes you want to seek out the original bands rather than this.  Fun fact: Guevera would appear in a few Cheech And Chong movies including playing the trumpet player on Up In Smoke. Durango, the final number would have worked wonders as a Yesca instrumental on Up In Smoke.
Grade B-

Orleans-One Of A Kind (Radio 1982)

Larry Hoppen would have been a good member of Chicago had he joined up with Bill Champlin when they did their comeback album 16 which David Foster also killed the fun and spirit in the process.  That's what I get the impression when I play this album from Orleans.  Five years ago they were on top of the charts with Still The One but I actually enjoyed their more rocking stuff (Let There Be Music) and John Hall's contributions before leaving for a solo career and later becoming a Congressman. Larry Hoppen and his brothers would continue the band, with stops at Infinity/MCA (1979's Love Takes Time, their last top ten hit) and moving over to Radio Records, house of Stars On 45, Badfinger and Glass Moon and putting out this last desperate attempt for another hit. But Radio Records despite the Stars on 45 hit medley's was falling apart and would go under soon after this record was made.  I do like the title track One Of A Kind, which would have been a hit had there been some kind of record promotion, but the rest of the album sounds no different than what Kenny Loggins was putting out, or what Peter Cetera would be doing later.  Even on vinyl, there seems to be no bass guitar in the mix or it's mixed way down or maybe they couldn't afford one.  Hoppen has always been a very good vocalist, no doubt, but the songs here just don't stand out.  Once in a while a chorus line with a minor hook will float on by (Gotta Lotta Money (big deal)) and Circles is a nice ballad that if given to an over the top American Idol woman singer would make it on KDAT, but One Of A Kind is more of One And The Same.  You play it once, file it away (or donate it back to Goodwill) and like the last song suggests Move On.  To other things.
Grade C


Comments are always encouraged but please remember when you do take the time to do so, remember to use correct spelling, the below comment doesn't apply but does remind me of this little sign that somebody thought up on the spot at the local GOP get together.  Moving on to Big Baby Corner, Go Kev.

Kevin Carsner writes on my rant about this weekend's storm that dumped seven inches of rain in my basement and KCRG's 3.88 rain gauge mark (when we had more than six inches).

You may be aggravated but you should watch your language. Also the time you spent writing this you could have done something about the leak. And why is it KCRG's fault that it rained? Have a good day too!!!!
(he unfollowed me after that remark)

Dear Kevin. 

Piss off.
Seriously, piss off.

And try to help your brother with your ailing dad. But you won't, even though you're still in driving range here.

Rebuttal: From one of my bestest friends from Mingles, Miss Becky Robinson, comes to my defense.

Kevin instead of berating Rod YOU could have shown more compassion for his situation.. AND he never said it was KCRGs fault .. and MAYBE just maybe he was taking a break from bailing his basement out while he posted this .. I find your lack of compassion FAR more offensive than a few semi vulgar words ... SMH

We love ya Becks!


Mama Let Him Play-Doucette
Inside Out (extended version)-Mighty Lemon Drops
Light Up Or Leave Me Alone-Traffic
One Of A Kind-Orleans
Rock Me With One Steady Roll-"half pint" Jackson
Electric Sweat-Mooney Suzuki
We're Here For A Good Time (not for a long time)-Trooper
Step Off-Kacey Musgraves
Angel Eyes-The Strypes
Gold Mother-James

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