Monday, January 26, 2015

Week in Review: 54 or 45 It's all the same

The big story of the week is RAGBRAI has announced the bike route for late July and for the first that I can ever remember, the road goes through our area and stays through our area. Beginning in Sioux City and ending in Davenport the stops along the way   Storm Lake, Fort Dodge, Eldora, Cedar Falls, Hiawatha, Coralville and Davenport are the lucky towns hosting the thousands of bike riders. And basically going through Hiawatha, Coralville and Davenport you're basically in my area although it's doubtful that RAGBRAI will be going past my door like it did back a few years ago.  Looks like the big challenge will be a lot of the trail will be uphill.  So plan accordingly if you should decide to partake into our wonderful state. Come to think of it The St Louis Nude Bike Races might be on that week too. We'll check later. (due to adult content controversy, the Bicycle Girls picture got taken down.  Trying to keep it PG ya know.  So we'll try this one.

Chicago has been booked to play at the Amphitheater by the River this summer too.  Coming in May, local metal rockers Slipknot play at the Five Seasons Center (along with Hatebreed) in May.  Doubt I'll go, but at least we're getting more bands to play this area a lot more often.

It was a strange paring and I'm surprised that it lasted as long as it has but after almost 6 years of marriage Mandy Moore filed for divorce from Ryan Adams.  The usual reason of differences that couldn't be resolved. But then again nobody stays in love anymore. For better or for worse doesn't apply anymore. Moore, a pop singer in the mode of Jessica Simpson or Kelly Clarkson never made the big time but she did help sing background vocals on Ryan's latest album.  Celebrity marriages: they just don't last.

Last weekend, all three Iowa major colleges got their basketball team in the top 25, only to have Iowa getting smoked at Wisconsin 82-50 and having to hear used jockstrap hack announcer Dan Dakich scream and cry about Adam Woodbury poking the eyes out of  Wisconsin shooters and screaming that the NCAA and Coach Fran to do something about it.  To which Coach Fran told him in nicer terms to fuck off and die. Sooner the better. Dakich is the worst announcer who tries his best to be a shock jock but more like a used jock strap off a 400 pound tackle after playing in 90 degree and 80 percent humidity.  What Dakich wasn't paying attention to was  the game which the Hawkeyes shot a shitty 28 percent all game and Iowa point guard Mike Gesell who shoots 60 percent from the fucking free throw line.  Which came back to bite him in the ass in the Purdue game which Gesell missed important free throws in route to a Purdue 67-63 win.  Good bet the Hawks won't be rated.  Like the football team too Goddamned uneven to be a great or even good team.  In other words probably a team two games over five hundred when it's all said and done.  Iowa State after two big wins, went to winless Texas Tech and got beat.78-73.   But at least The Cyclones were spared of Mr Mighty Mouth Dan Dakich, a former assistant coach that couldn't cut it and now one of ESPN' asshat announcers. Be dumb and stupid and you might latch on to one of their announcer roles, as soon as a former jock gets booted for making unwanted passes at females temps at ESPN. 

This weekend, I celebrated my 54th birthday with another low key but uneventful bargain hunt into my old growing up area of Waterloo/Cedar Falls. However the pursuit of the 45 eluded me, although I did find some real scratched up copies of All Shook Up by Elvis and Homer And Jethro's Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyeballs, I didn't pick them up, they were too far gone with scratches and mold on them.  Not a whole wasted trip, I found The Steeleye Span Story, the old 2 LP set Chrysalis put out years ago for two bucks at St Vincent De Paul in Waterloo.  Since Waterloo doesn't have many places to find vinyl, I tend not to venture up there very much, and besides their thrift stores are always picked apart. I did strike up a conversation with an old man who told me he was looking for 8 tracks and had at least 7 working 8 track players in his house.  Sadly for him, the only 8 tracks they had was a Roger Whitaker and some other MOR artist I forgot who.  Stuff Etc had a couple CDs for two bucks unopened, plus Little Feat's Let It Roll, one of the CDs that got destroyed by last year's water in the basement episode.  The Independence Goodwill had a Lush Stray CD that I bought, Lush was a shoegazer band of the early 90s and I had the other ones but decided to revisit this one.  And still uneven as I remembered it.

My mom loves to tell the story about the day I was born.  It all started with a chili supper and indigestion which eventually lead to stomach pains and a trip down Route 66 where her water broke during a blizzard. And on 11 50 PM on a sub zero January 24th, I became born into this world and Mom threw up on one of the nuns afterward.  It has been a long and strange trip to many of record stores, from Woolworths to Arlans to Marion TV and Records and on to Goodwill and Salvation Army and many many stores along the way and now settling for Half Priced Books, Stuff Etc and who else that has CDs or LPs or 45s.  In life itself I have been a failure at love and relationships, and now chosen to live the rest of my life in chasing after vinyl stuff I still am looking for. I certainly don't expect anybody to come out of the woodwork to change my opinion about love, I'm too far gone.  Too set in my ways and besides. I got too used to this lifestyle.  Future bargain hunts I might look west to Des Moines since I haven't been there in five years, and if my health stays good perhaps Arizona, but that's speculation at best.  Madison in March for sure (weather permitting of course). Davenport if I get leads on used 45s at the Salvation Army.


Belle And Sebastian-Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance (Matador 2015)

To which B&S make their EDM move and shoot themselves in the foot.  Technically, a better album than Write About Love, Stu Murdoch and company decide to up the beats and the timings of the songs to a ungodly 61 and a half minutes of 12 songs.  Murdoch is good enough to know hooks and melody to make the songs listenable but when he crosses over the five minute mark he tends for the listener to lose focus.  Play For Today is one of those songs that starts out good than goes on and on to you wonder when the hell is he going to end the damn thing.  Same thing applies to Enter Sylvia Plath, which reminds one of what the Pet Shop Boys used to do and would have been perfect for, say Donna Summer is sadly isn't around anymore.  Problem is Play For Today is about 2 minutes longer than it should be, and it kinda derails the album.  Before I write this album off The Book Of You, including a heavy metal guitar lead toward the end captures my attention and I nod in approval.  For all the fun and disco music of this album, the whole thing ends on a bummer with Today (this army's for peace), the party's over on this song.  Overall, the new direction B&S goes after the lackluster Write About Love, I commend them for trying something different.  It has it's moments with Ever Had A Little Faith?, Nobody's Empire and Allie and is an improvement over Write About Love but it's no Dear Catastrophe Waitress or The Life Pursuit.
Grade B

Jimmy Hall-Touch You (Epic 1980)

Best known as lead vocalist for Wet Willie, Jimmy struck out for a solo deal after the flop of Which One's Willie, perhaps the least  of Wet Willie's albums.  On this album, Hall returns to a more nitty gritty R and B of covering Wilson Pickett' 634-5789 and having Bonnie Bramlett dueting on Private Number.  With some of Wet Willie's band members helping out, this feels more like a true Wet Willie album than Which One's Willie? And when Jimmy Hall gets decent material, he can sing the hell out of them.  He had a top twenty hit with I'm Happy That Love Found You, which wouldn't feel out of place on a Michael McDonald album.  While he can slow it down a bit (The Same Old Moon), Hall is better suited for the harder southern rocking stuff like Never Again or Rock And Roll Soldier.  A very good debut that holds up with the best of Wet Willie's stuff too. Side note:  Touch You was part of CBS Records 5.98 developing artists series of the early 80s. While the single I'm Happy That Love Found You made it to number 27 on the single charts, the album sputtered up to 180 on the top 200.  As far as I know, it has never been on CD in the US.
Grade B+

Little Feat-Feets Don't Fail Me Now (Warner Brothers 1974)
                 Let It Roll (Warner Brothers 1988)

A Little Feat fan is forever, at least during the Lowell George era.  While some people have their Feat Faves (Dixie Chicken, Sailing Shoes, Waiting For Columbus) I think I put my money on Don't Fail Me Now.  I think it's their most accessible album with FM deep cuts like Rock And Roll Doctor, Skin It Back and of course Bill Payne's Oh Atlanta which was their first hit single (oops they didn't have hit singles, but I got the forty five and KKRQ played it a lot in 75).  While the medley of Cold Cold Cold/Triple Face Boogie is a show stopper I think I like the more prog rock sounding The Fan more.  Although George was the leader of the band, it helped a lot that Paul Barrae and Bill Payne played crucial roles in the songwriting.

But after the death of Lowell in 1979, Little Feat disbanded only to return in 1988 with new help from Craig Fuller (Pure Prairie League, American Flyer) and Fred Tackett  and Bill Payne And Paul Barrere taking over the role from Lowell George and dedicating the album to him.  I think I like this record because of Craig Fuller, an all around nice guy and really shapes up the album on side opener Hate To Lose Your Lovin'.  The other side opener is Barrere running through Let It Roll which really rocks.  Of course the New Orleans influences of Hate To Lose Your Lovin and Cajun Girl which gives me visions of Allen Toussaint.  This is collective band effort, all the way down to Sam Clayton's bass growls (or is that Bob Seger in the background).  Linda Ronstandt adds female counterpoint to Voices On The Wind which took me about 20 years to get into.  And Bonnie Raitt figures into this as well although I'm sure she's adding some slide guitar on a couple of these songs.  Nevertheless Let It Roll was a decent selling enough for the Bugs Bunny Label to commit another album (the less interesting but still entertaining Representing The Mambo) but being the restless soul that is Craig Fuller, he would leave after Shake Me Up, their first and only for Morgan Creek records after the Bunny label dropped The Feat and Shawn Murphy would take up more lead vocals, for better or in my case for worse for other labels. With the passing of Richie Hayward, the Feat continues on with another drummer for Rounder and the album Rooster Blues.  But let's face facts folks, there are two Little Feat bands, the band which Lowell George was the influence and the other, a tribute band making fair to good albums.  I consider Let It Roll a very good album, not a classic as say Feats Don't Fail Me Now, but perhaps to the second coming of the Feat after George, perhaps their classic album.
Grade Feats Don't Fail Me Now  A
           Let It Roll B+  (originally a B grade in 1988)

The Steeleye Span Story (Chrysalis 1976)

Perhaps the more traditional British Folk band of the 70s, They weren't as well known as Fairport Convention nor as musically inclined like The Pentangle but this generous 2 record set gives a great argument about the importance of Steeleye Span in British Folk Rock.  Like Fairport and Pentangle they had a great female vocalist in Maddy Prior and Tim Hart providing male vocal counterpoint.  Like Fairport, Tyger Hutchings came aboard after being bored with that band, hung around for a couple albums and left again to form the Albion Band, to which the classic lineup of Span was born with the addition of Bob Johnson and Rick Kemp, Peter Knight playing a vital role and eventually settling on Nigel Pegrum to play drums.  Picking the best songs from 9 albums, they range from vocals only (A Calling On Song) to flat out  rock and roll (Thomas The Rhymer and the drumless but still rocking Alison Gross), and at times hints of acoustic prog folk that Ian Anderson who borrow for his Jethro Tull album Heavy Horses in the repetitive Hard Times Of Old England.  Why they didn't make it in the US was simply they were too British for us to take in but for the open minded, listening to The Steeleye Span Story, is a perfect introduction.
Grade A-

The Blues Brothers-Briefcase Full Of Blues (Atlantic/Flashback 1978)

John Belushi may have been a goof ball comedian and fun time actor but he also professed a love of old R and B and blues recordings and so did Dan Ackroyd to which they became Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues.  Based upon a skit on Saturday Night Live which became larger than life and became a recording project, and they picked an all star lineup of soul music session-men featuring Matt Murphy (who goes all the way back to playing on Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson 2)'s last sessions, Steve Cropper and the late Donald Dunn from Booker T and The MGs and featuring a young upstart drummer by the name of Steve Jordan. And the horn section that boasted Tom Scott and Paul Shaffer leading them, they have studied and know their R and B roots well.  The weakest link is Belushi's vocals, he's really no different than the local dude at the bar playing Mustang Sally (which Thank God is Not on this record) but what he lacks in voice, he shows enough enthusiasm to show that he's not spoofing these songs whatsoever.  It's pure joy when he says Play It Steve on Soul Man or taking Willie Maborn's I Don't Know by accenting on the BaaaBEEEEEEE part.  Sometimes there's a bit of parody shown, the fake Jamaican accent on Groove Me does not work. And perhaps the band could have chimed on Hey Bartender.  But you have to give the man credit when Belushi tells the adoring audience to go out and buy as many blues albums as you can.  And give Mr.  Dan credit for introducing the world (and me) for Rubber Biscuit, to which I had to go find the original version by The Chips to hear how's it is done.  The success of this album would eventually lead up to John Landis directing the 1980 cult classic movie of The Blues Brothers to which they pay it forward and give credit and appearances to Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker.  Briefcase Full Of Blues is a fair covers album, but if it makes you seek out the originals then it did it's job.
Grade B

Exile's Greatest Hits (Epic 1986)

Country pop rockers who started in 1978 on Warner/Curb with Kiss You All Over but never followed it up on the pop charts so they went country in the early 80s.  They boasted two lead singers in J P Pennington and Les Taylor and their harmonies somewhat in the Alabama/Eagles tradition but the music is more Poco than either band.  Today's country has forgotten them but they hit the top ten with I Don't Want To Be A Memory, Give Me One More Chance (with a riff recycled from Clapton's Lay Down Sally) and the macho groove of Super Lovin.  The soft country sounds gets a bit repetitive, especially on side 2, and throwing in a remake of Kiss You All Over saves licensing fees, but not necessary needed but if you're going to include a best of, you have to include it in one way or another.  I guess.  Nothing wrong with Exile's Greatest Hits, it's pleasant and bland at the same time.  A perfect snapshot of early 80s country pop.
Grade B- 

Mark Lindsay-Arizona/Silverbird (Collectibles 1996)

Lindsay's journey into Muzak land.  A far cry from the rocking Paul Revere And The Raiders days, Mark decided to go MOR and enlisted Jerry Fuller (Gary Puckett and the Union Gap) to produce medium to slow ballads and plenty of strings in the process.  He got a top ten hit in Arizona and a top 40 one in Silverbird.  But on this 2 on 1 CD of his albums, he's competing with Andy Williams and John Davidson on ho hum versions of Sunday Morning Comin Down, We Only Just Begun, and a couple of Beatles ballads (guess which ones).  There's some guilty pleasures in hearing Leaving On A Jet Plane (ruined by a coda at the end) and Something (real honest but it won't replace George Harrison's version whatsoever).  Perhaps Lindsay, realizing how much it didn't rock would try to make a better effort on the revamped Raiders (with mixed results) but there's a reason why you see Arizona and Sliverbird in the dollar bins at Goodwill.  It's a couple steps above Mantovani and Barry Manilow but there's a couple times Barry kicks Mark's ass on some songs.  But it's still not rock and roll.
Grade C+


TAD said...

Hey Crabby -- I've got THE STEELEYE SPAN STORY, and still play it now and then. I can stand the whole first side, "Alison Gross" (I LOVE the GREAT violin noise near the end), "One Misty Moisty Morning," and "Fighting for Strangers." "All Around My Hat"'s a real fave, too. The fact that they were "Too British" was one of the things I loved about them ... but a few years later I FINALLY heard Fairport Convention, and my opinion of SS dropped a bit. I think maybe they coulda rocked a little more, but I'll keep the good stuff....
Nice bicycle race photo too, BTW....

R S Crabb said...

Hi Tad,
I started out with Fairport Chronicles and then branched over to The Pentangle Sweet Child 2 Record set and Steeleye Span Story was next. Compared to both bands Steeleye Span is bit more looser and not as polished. I think SS Story pretty much covers the basics, in someways they remind me of a British Jefferson Airplane.

The local record store had Story for about 20 dollars (too much for my blood) but finding it for 2 dollars at the Thrift store was much more cost effective. In my 45 collection I do have Gaudete (probably a mercy buy). In the British Folk Rock bands, I still have Fairport number 1, Pentangle 2 and Steeleye Span 3rd but Maddy Prior is a good vocalist too.

Glad you like the Bicycle Picture, but I'm surprised that the content Gods haven't edit the picture yet. Perhaps they covered enough of themselves to let the picture pass on by. And nobody's complained about it....yet ;)