Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Reviews: Bread, Coldplay, Neil Young Etc.

Basically you can't kill something that you enjoy doing right?  Only I do this whenever I get the feeling to blog or review something, cuz somebody gotta do it right?

Certainly this month I have continue to mine to pawnshops and thrift stores for off the wall stuff or flavor of the week gone stale the next  and as long as the world turns I continue to find them wherever and whenever I could.  For the first three months I only bought 5 new releases, the past month and half that has been doubled. But I tend to pick and choose very carefully.  And I try not to lower myself to Bro Country artist's standards of them boasting of their latest piece of shit (looking at you Chase Rice) and calling it radical.  But really, turn on GAC and you see 10 videos of the same horseshit and drinking, scantly clad 17 year olds and getting some of that and trucks with plenty of autotuner and call it radical.  Bullshit. But then again I just made Chase Rice a ton of money by slamming him.  As his cigar chewing manager looks on with glee (looky here KACHING, out of touch critic with no followers slamming my boy, when will they learn..when will I learn?). Haters be dammed anyway.

For us over 50 folks we have our decades and our music to fall back upon and when it was good and not cliche. Let's face it, I'll never warm up to the Bro Country or the modern rock or Top forty anymore, I'm out of the target age range.  But I still have plenty of music from 7 decades to choose from.  There's not shortage, you just gotta keep a open mind.  And know where the find the music at.

For starters let's try Bread (Elektra 1969), their first.  True they're soft rock but their debut has plenty of pop guitar and music to keep it interesting and includes their first attempt of It Don't Matter To Me which would be polished up the next time for a hit single.  Evenly divided up songwriter wise, David Gates gets six songs, James Griffin (RIP) and Robb Royer (RIP) get the other six and shows the diversity of styles.  In the end Gates's songs are more radio ready. Look At Me is the perfect example of the formula Gates would later use for songs like Diary or Aubrey.  Griffin wrote the more rocking numbers.  Overall Bread the album is a strong debut for a band that would sell more records later on.  They get lambasted by critics but really Bread could hold their own against anybody at that time.

Tom Johnston was the main songwriter for the Doobie Brothers in their mid 70s heydays but once Mike McDonald rechanged their sound with Minute By Minute, Johnston moved to a solo career.  Everything You Heard Is True (WB 1979)  is a disappointment, as if Bob was trying to be the answer to Minute By Minute and the record never catches on fire till the second side and finale Outlaw which does sound like the closest thing to the Doobies Tom did.  Elsewhere, he fails at the disco numbers although Savannah Nights was his first and only hit.

In our WTF department we have Human Drama-Feel (RCA 1990) to which they can't decide to be Echo And The Bunnymen or Simple Minds or Talk Talk and could only listen to side 1 before throwing this back to the donation pile.  The world don't need a emo version of Old Man.

Fun-Some Nights (Fueled by ramen 2012)  Blame Mumford and Sons on this one although the title track got ample airplay on the radio.  For a band that's supposed to be FUN, they're really not, the lead singer likes to say Fuck a lot and on Stars decides to turn the autotuner on full blast to sound like R Kelly or Drake.  To which he violates the Crabb credo, use Autotuner and I tune you out.   Destined to be the one hit wonder that they're forever to be.

In the archives I have Body Count Born Dead (Virgin 1994) the second followup to the scathing S/T album and song Cop Killer that got Ice T and company banished from Warner Brothers forever.  In fact I like Body Count, too bad more black artists don't go for heavy metal, they're too busy making fodder for Luke Giordano to make fun of on his This Songs Sucks series. Originally I gave this album a B plus but playing it 20 years later, this record really didn't have much to say outside of the usual Body Count chants (Body MF Count) and the plodding metal songs do just that, plod on like a dinosaur stuck in the tar pits and going down. And the most pit jammings are awkward at best.  Not a wasted effort, I still dig Who Are You and Street Lobotomy for shits and giggles.  Eddie Kramer who mixed the Hey Joe cover for the Jimi Hendrix Stone Free Tribute album didn't have much kind things to say about that.  He might have a point, it does feel like a band going through it one time and signing off.

The Russian Review guy G.S. convinced me to get Billy Joel River Of Dreams (Columbia 1993)  and he's right, it's better than the over the top and over-sang and overstressed Storm Front failure that Joel did with Mick Jones of not the Clash but the other band fame.  But again Joel overdoes it again on some of the songs and when he sangs falsetto, I just want to punch him (cut it out Joel, you're no James Brown or Mick Jagger).  And Color Me Bad guest starring on All About Soul? Over look that and the previous and it winds up a credible B.J. album, the best songs at the end, particularly Famous Last Words.  Which in part was B.J.'s last song written. Since then he scored a classical album and has a residency at Madison Square Garden but has not released a pop or rock album since River Of Dreams.

And of course the oddball record Jerry Lee and Linda Gail Lewis Together (Smash/Mercury 1968)  which brother and sister gets together to record an interesting duet album. Jerry Lee's ego is all over the place and threatens to take Linda Gail down with him on Jackson which sounds more nastier than Johnny and June or Lee And Nancy.   The single Don't Let Me Cross Over is more soul than country. The sibling rivalry adds more of a building tension on Don't Take It Out Of Me or Milwaukee Here I Come and Jerry Lee's pounding on his piano reminds me of the classic Star Club live album as well.  Linda Gail would later do a album with Van Morrison and is more of a footnote to history than actual singer but paired with her  brother, they seem to bring out the best in each other despite some of the lackadaisical throwaways on this album which are few and far between.  Duet albums should be this fun.

And for the new Coldplay getting bad reviews all over the place, here's another one:

And my take on Ghost Stories:  It's boring.  The last two albums had some kind of variety but Coldplay is stuck in this Radiohead/U2 vibe that doesn't vary from the slow pace from the beginning.  Oh they add some EDM to think they can rock out, but in essence Coldplay simply doesn't rock.  Grade C

Speaking of horse shit: Bob Lefsetz has been piling it on with the last three incoherent blogs in his website. I'm sure he spreads the gospel of Dallas Davidson and Luke Bryan's T Pan Conway tribute song but that's where the hardcore country fans get off the bus.  And the double entree of he knows there's people that can play but he just doesn't want to hear it since he doesn't have time for good, he wants great and for example gives up That's My Kind Of Night which is not great.  You can broaden your horizons if you look hard for it.  KHAK nor Dallas Davidson isn't that.  He summarizes that we get the music that we deserve.  Which is why people turn off the radio or quit listening or quit buying.  You can shout all you want about the future of music Bob but the future means nothing if all we have is subpar crap on the radio.  But then again in Bob's real world, albums would be forbidden and streaming music would be the absolute.  And those who disagree are inferior.

Spotify is nice if you can deal with it, but if I want to hear something right then and now, I usually put in a record or CD and I get to hear that song right then and now.  It's been that way for 53 fucking years.

A Letter From Home-Neil Young

It's been talked about for the past month and even Neil and Jack White did an on spot recording session one night on a talk show and now we get the official release of A Letter From Home, an album that recorded on a Voice O Matic' one of those long forgotten recording booths that was the rage back in the 40s and 50s and Neil thought it would be nice to record like a old field recording.  This is Neil at his most raw and even feeling out the songs in one take fashion.  On record he starts out with a greeting for his mom and on side 2 says to say hello to Keith, being Ben Keith his long time friend and sometimes Collaborator.  Neil gives us two shaky Willie Nelson numbers and Gordon Lightfoot songs as well, If You Could Read My Mind the better of the two over the overdone Early Morning Rain.  I guess Jack White adding a scratch mark for most of IYCRMM makes a valid argument why we prefer our music without scratches.   Unless you're a big fanatic of Neil Young or field recordings for that matter,  getting the deluxe edition (120 dollar retail price) makes no sense or value although the recordings themselves are leisurely fun.  But it's not something you would play on a regular basis.  File this under Trans and Everybody's Rockin as weird Neil.
Grade B  

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