Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Crabb Bits: The Kinks, Bob Crewe, Robert Plant, Cosimo Matassa

Oh where to begin.

Bob Crewe passed away. Started out a songwriter writing Daddy Cool and Silhouettes for The Rays and produced The Four Seasons, Mitch Ryder and gave us Music To Watch Girls By.  RIP 

Cosimo Matassa is a name you may have never of, but if you have heard Little Richard, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino and others, you would have heard him recording them.  Cosimo who passed away Wed at 88 from stroke complications was instrumental in developing the legendary New Orleans Sound of the early 50s and 60s.  Without him music would sound a wee bit different.

Legacy Recordings will be reissuing 16 albums from The Kinks beginning with Muswell Hillbillies onward.  Legacy acquired the North American rights to the RCA and Arista albums. October 14th Legacy will also put out the two cd overview Essential Kinks to which I'm guessing will focus on those years.  Sanctuary PYE in the UK have been putting out two cd sets of certain albums up to Lola And The Moneygoround.  Since I already have the CDs that were issued I don't see a need to upgrade.  Reissues tend to blog down the original intention of the album and while the first two Kinks RCA albums were classic and very good, the concept albums that followed were not.  And while Sleepwalker was the first back to basics rock album they did, it was too spotty and too erratic for me to give up my vinyl copy.  Word Of Mouth, the 1984 Arista finale was my favorite of that era.  Think Visual and UK Jive, their MCA records (no word if they're part of the Legacy deal) is Rock professionalism at work, most critics have slagged them off, I find some pleasure in Visual and UK Jive.  Their first and only album for Columbia Phobia sucked and To The Bone I never heard. For the RCA and Arista albums, this will be their third reissue (BMG passed but Rhino issued the first, then Velvel/Koch later via Konk).  And re re issues tend to come with a shrug of the shoulders rather than waiting on baited breath. And 2 CD sets of classic albums are a luxury, if you have them in original form, you really don't need them.  Unless you're a CD hoarder.

Bob Lefsetz bitching about U2 and the new album and how they tacked it on Itunes and the new Apple phone. And blah blah blah. Fuck off anyway Lefsetz, nobody said you had to listen to it, just stick with your bro country crap.  No country for bitchy failed A and R men.    Nobody has time to listen to music, everybody is on their Smart phone looking for the next big thing.  Screw the record and CD buyers.  His latest blog might be the biggest double standard bunch of BS that I have read yet this year.  And that's saying something.

Jason Isbell had the best line:  U2 phones it in.  Bwahahahahahaha!

I didn't know this existed:  The original Days Of The New got back together to do some reunion shows and they turned out to be turds of a different dog.  Basically a one hit wonder band, they had one hit that I can never remember but still gets played on real rock stations (snicker).  A missed date in Columbia, DOTN limped into St Louis where Travis Meeks, either high on something he shouldn't have taken or being indifferent fucked around for six  songs till the bass player had enough and said this band is over and left the stage followed by the guitarist and drummer.  In music history Days Of The New made an album of like minded Alice In Chains but with a more acoustic bent and Meeks fired the band and soldered on with a revolving door of replacements while the rest of the band formed Tantric and continued to make like minded AIC music for Maverick and various labels.  The original band reformed this summer but they were so under the radar by this time nobody gave them much thought till this Spinal Tapish moment that ended things once and for all.

There are a select few that still care about music even though they're becoming few and far between but I still see them trying to find something at the local Best Buy or Half Priced Bookstore.  We're not extinct but we are  an endangered species.  I had a choice of reviewing either the new Ryan Adams or Robert Plant.  Guess which one I ended up getting.  lullaby....AND THE CEASELESS ROAR (Nonesuch/WB) is Plant's latest and I can see why he said no Jimmy and the boys and went on finding his own niche.  Actually if you really think about it, the album continues in the same wavelength that began with Raising Sand, the surprise comeback album with Alison Kruass.  Trance meets Zeppelin says Plant and he's right.  The herky jerky African rhythms repeated over and over.  Revising Little Maggie at the end as a African chant .  And there's still a bit of Zeppelin like riffs on Turn It Up.  Plant's band on this album might be the most varied band he's ever put together as well.  Sometimes a song can be trancelike in it's state like A Stolen Kiss, first listens sounds like it's dragging but repeated listens reveal a more atmospheric sound.  I still have reservations about Rainbow, didn't care for it much when Plant released it as a single and it works better in a album format after Little Maggie (are you reading this Bob Lefsetz?  Course not, you don't listen to albums after 1969 anyway).  Nowadays, Robert seems to be better suited singing in a lower voice rather than the banshee years of Zeppelin, age simply will not let him do that anymore.  He did adopt to that on the Led Zep farewell Celebration Day and it worked.  In today's most over the hill bands would have died to get back together for one more cash grab record and tour and Led Zep would have ranked in the dollars.  But hooray for Robert to follow his heart and go where the music and beats were playing.  And sorry to say that Jimmy would have been in the way.  In the trilogy of albums he's done beginning with Raising Sand and continuing with Band Of Joy.  lullaby....AND THE CEASELESS ROAR is a music journey worth seeking out and if you followed that far from the last two albums, this one will satisfy just as well too.

Monday, I went and got the car's oil changed and tires rotated at the car dealership in Maquoketa.  And since it's was an hour and half to do other things, I went uptown to see what the Goodwill had to offer and outside of a Walter Egan Not Shy LP, the store had nothing to offer on CD either.  Unless you like country.  Maquoketa also has one of the best Mexican food places in La Casa DE Pancho.  They had a pretty good lunch special going on and for 5.95 you can't beat it.  The waiter was kinda stuffy but as long as they come by to offer a refill on drinks, that always generates a tip back.  Recommended.  (The website has been taken down, perhaps a chance of ownership?  I won't know till I go get the car's oil changed next time I'm in town) 

The Antique Mall on the edge of town was going out of business so I thought I stopped in and see what they had.  Once upon a time Banowetz Antique Mall was the pride of Maquoketa and a place to go.  But in April they decided they were closing their doors and five months later they still had a decent selection of old furniture and antiques. And a collection of old Edison cylinder records and old 78s.  But I guess I missed the boat on 45s although they have a few, most of them were by Patti Page or Bobby Vinton or Lawrence Welk or The Lennon Sisters.  They had about 10 Connie Francis 45 to choose from.  But I chose none of them.

Since I've been to Davenport the previous couple ventures out on highway 61, I decided to head to Dubuque to see what I could find.  Whereas the MacQ Goodwill had nothing, the Dubuque store had plenty of things to take home. A couple of Randy Van Warmer CDs, The Raiders' Collage album and the Fleetwood Mac with bonus cuts were picked up.  Back in July, I took up about 50 cds that fell into the water in the basement on the June tornado event but they were all gone the next time I stopped back.  I wasn't too happy about the scratched up CD I got from CD's 4 Change so I passed on this them and stopped at Moondog Music and found Jay Ferguson's Real Life Ain't This Way and a PF Sloan Best of.  Moondog's 45 selection is basically new stuff but they did have some Bobby Goldsboro Epic singles that I admired and put them back in their place.

Later on, I did the river walk and stopped at the casino to gamble away 6 dollars playing penny slots.  I didn't get much payoff action and that was over and done after a half hour of that and choking on cigarette smoke from others losing their fortune.  For a brief moment the clouds whisked away and got to see the last of the Supermoon rising above and shining on the Mississippi River.  But I called it an evening only to get home and seeing an uncoming lightning and thunderstorm, to which once I got home, the fucking storm would last six hours, and three inches of rain that got water in the basement bathroom and the garage but the bedroom remained dry for a change.  That was a minor blessing.

Jack Clement-For One And For All (IRS)

Jack was one of a kind.  Hell of a songwriter and hell of a producer as well.  Him working and breaking Charley Pride alone gets him into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.  And just about everybody in country music in the 60s or 70s sang a Clement written song.  But for Jack himself For One And For All is only his third proper album and this was recorded and finished just before he died last August from liver cancer.  An all star effort, and even having the legendary Duane Eddy playing his trademark twang on Jesus Don't Give Up On Me, which would have served a heartstopping ending to this album although The Air Conditioning Song leaves things a bit more upbeat giving the circumstances.  The talents of Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Rodney Crowell and Emmy Lou Harris, country stars of the past are paired with stars of today Dierks Bentley and The Secret Sisters on backing vocals.  And of course John Henry (T Bone) Burnett is co producer of this effort and it has the T Bone sound, you'll know it when you hear the O Brother soundtrack or the Secret Sisters two albums.  I'm certainly glad that Jack picked his finest songs for this fitting finale, including Miller's Cave and The Spell Of The Freight Train, one of the finest songs that Charley Pride ever recorded (it was the B side to Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger).  Interesting note:  six songs off this album Pride recorded himself and some where hits (I Know One, Just Between You And Me, Let The Chips Fall). It would have been nice to see Pride come out and sing on this album.   Even in ill health, Clement's voice (similar to Burl Ives when Burl was doing country) reveals  age and experience in these songs.  Even on Jesus Don't Give Up On Me, it does sound like Clement knowing his time wasn't long.  But all is forgiven, and I'm sure he's up in the great beyond writing and paling around with Hank Snow, Waylon or Johnny Cash.  It won't get airplay on bro country radio, it's too country and no bros allowed in this party.  But those who did showed up, did have a good time.

Grade B+

The Raiders: Indian Reservation/Collage (Raven)

I love Paul Revere And The Raiders and yes they should be in the rock hall of fame but admit this, when Mark Lindsay took over production from Terry Melcher he became the de factor leader in the studio while Paul Revere was the leader when they played live and the Lindsay production era has been very problematic.  Even on their best album Alias Pink Puzz, Lindsay had way too much bubblegum in him to establish The Raiders as a rock band.  While there's sentimental love for Phil Volk, Fang and Mark Smith, Freddy Weller, Keith Allison and Joe Cornejo Jr were more professional sounding.  Raven Records odd choice of putting out Indian Reservation before Collage makes this an uneven affair right off the bat.  But first let's talk about Collage, one of the albums that Rolling Stone said was their best album overall (bullshit).  Maybe in 1969 it might have been but 45 years later, it shows the weakness of having Mark Lindsay produce and write everything.  I never liked Just Seventeen, it's even more creepy nowadays and the dated horn charts don't help either nor the dated fuzz guitar.  Best song was written by Weller, We All Gotta Get Together which could have ended the album on a positive note, but Lindsay had to add two minutes of somebody yacking and a muzak version.  Also, Tighter and Gone Moving On, were better in their original state on Revolution, which to me was their finest studio album.  Highlights include Save The Country and Interlude (To Be Forgotten), but the low points are Dr. Fine and Sorceress With The Blue Eyes to which Mark screams over The Raiders trying to be hard rock.  It didn't work then, it surely doesn't work now.

Indian Reservation, the single turned out to be The Raiders' biggest single ever, a reworking of Don Fardon's version (he was once in The Sorrows), while Don's version was the better, The Raiders had better marketing.  The album itself, reveals more of what Mark Lindsay was doing as a solo artist and it shows.  Mark Smith, the original drummer does come back to play on this album, but he's working with a pop band rather than a rock band.   The Raiders could have taken a page out of the 3 dog night book and cover other singer songwriter's songs,  The Shape Of Things To Come is not bad till Lindsay fucks around with a middle eight that damn near derails the song and Prince Of Peace (written by Leon Russell) is fairly good.  The problem once again is Lindsay's production and arrangements.  Heaven Help Us All will not make you forget Stevie Wonder's version but the key song is a cover of The Easybeats Come In You'll Get Phenomena. While The Easybeats version builds up to a shouting crescendo, Lindsay plays it way too safe. Birds Of A Feather was a nice followup single, but it seems like Smith wanted to up the tempo and ended up throwing drum rolls on the chorus probably just to keep awake.  Album closer The Turkey pretty much is one.   Raven Throws in two songs from the crappy Country Wine album (the best ones, Raven also has that album out called Country Wine Plus, which features forgotten singles as well.  I remember side 1 of Country Wine was good to great but side 2 may have been the worst side of songs The Raiders ever did and I don't recommend that album).

While I don't agree that Collage is the missing classic album that Paul Revere And The Raiders ever did, I will say it's interesting in it's failed way to be a missing classic album.  It should be heard once and then donated to Goodwill, unless you're trying to complete your Paul Revere collection.  Perhaps Lindsay did try to stay up to date and create a rock masterpiece.  Lindsay would have done better having a different producer to get the band going although Gary Usher would have been a better choice.  It also didn't helped that the recording engineer would later be the go to guy for Shawn Cassidy's early albums.  Indian Reservation is The Raiders as pop professionals that reached the top of the charts with a polished hit single that still gets played on oldies radio.  Sad for them, the bottom would fall out big time and in five years they'd be dropped from Columbia.  You get the hear the unraveling for yourself on this set.

Grade C+    

John Lennon-ICON
Ringo Starr-ICON

Universal's attempt to cash in on the overplayed hits from the former Beatles and both are about as pointless as they come.  The ICON series are more in line with the 10 Best Series that EMI used to put out, budget priced CDs with the major hits and a few odds and ends but in Ringo's case a pointless live version of Yellow Submarine.  There are much better comps out there (Lennon's Legend, Ringo's Photograph) or even the long deleted Shaved Fish and Blast From Your Past are better alternatives to this cash grab, unless you do run into this for five dollars.  But remember you also have to eat and pay bills too. Choose wisely.

Grade for both albums: C

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