Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Classic Albums Of The 70s-Pretty Things Savage Eye

One of the longest lasting bands of the British Invasion but never quite reached the highest highs of The Rolling Stones or Beatles, The Pretty Things, named after a Bo Diddley song and having Dick Taylor on bass, who played on the earliest version of the Stones, managed to play some dirty R N B rock and roll in the Bo Diddley beat but perhaps they were too dirty for the American buying public who basically ignored them.  Shout Factory did a fairly good job of capturing the early years and of course the critics choices of the late 60s and early 70s on Come See Me.  Snapper's 2 CD Get The Picture focuses on the early years and of course a heaping helping of Bo Diddley music done The Pretty Things way.  Polygram issued Get A Buzz, which is the Fontana years and worth finding. Coming in March, Snapper Classics in the UK goes all out and will be issuing a big box set of just about everything The Pretty Things committed to vinyl or CD in their five decades of togetherness. We're talking 16 CDs baby!

Somehow The Pretty Things managed to find themselves on Rare Earth for Parachute and S F Sorrow, which the former managed to make the original Rolling Stones best 100 albums of all time which is debatable. I never did catch on what made them popular.  Then again critics choices tend to disappoint if you expect too much.  In the mid 70s, begin a much more harder rock sound with Freeway Madness, issued on Warner Brothers and somehow The Medicine Label, an offshoot of Giant Records reissued it and I come to find it to be a better listen than Parachute or SF Sorrow, a matter of taste I guess.  Madness didn't sell but then Jimmy Page and Peter Grant came calling and signed The Pretty Things up on the Swan Song label for a couple of albums.  Working with Norman "hurricane" Smith on both of them, Silk Torpedo was the first and despite of a couple rocking tracks. Singapore Silk Torpedo and Dream/Joey I didn't think much of it.  Slightly less enjoyable than Freeway Madness, next.

Savage Eye came out in 1975 and to these ears it was their best record of the 70s, beginning with the Under The Volcano which sounds a lot like Led Zeppelin with the Page like riff at the middle and end of the song. The new guy Jack Green helps the mellow but sad "Sad Eye" before they turn the amps up to ten and get the Led out on Remember That Boy.  Special mention to Skip Alan who does sound a bit like John Bonham.  Except for the so so My Song, the first side really does hold up.

Side 2 begins with the T Rex/Slade, glam slam  of It Isn't Rock And Roll and I'm Keeping (Bad Company) which may have been a shout out to the other band on Swan Song.  Phil may wails on It's Been So Long and perhaps the weakest track Drowned Man is still worth a listen before things wind down with Song For Michelle.  Snapper Music adds three bonus tracks from later sessions after Phil May left and the band tried to carry on before pulling the plug after running afoul of Peter Grant.  While the liner notes detail about the final recordings and messy breakup, the original Swan Song album has the lyrics.  Which is disappointing leaving the words off on the CD, there is a reference to Maggie Bell who signed on with Swan Song after a album on Atlantic that garnered good reviews.    However, Phil May revived the band in 1980 and The Pretty Things returned to Warner Brothers for the lousy Cross Talk album.  The less said the better.  But May and the Things have been recording new albums in the past 35 years all of varying degree.

Reviews have been mixed, Richie Umberger called it the least memorable in an All Music Review. Certainly Savage Eye was geared toward FM radio and it did get airplay here in the Midwest.  And although it only made it to 163 on the charts, it became one of only 2 of their albums to ever break into the top 200.  If Umberger may have been turned off by the Zeppelin type of sound and would rather hear Parachute  instead. He wasn't alone, other critics complained it to be too 70s and too polished although I tend to disagree on that.   What Savage Eye was really the first time I was introduced to The Pretty Things via FM radio and Under The Volcano and Remember That Boy, I love those songs.  And Jack Green does provide a vocal counterpoint to May's attempt to try to be in Robert Plant's league.  Which doesn't happen, sometimes May's high pitched vocals do remind the listener that he's no Plant.  Overlook My Song and Savage Eye is a enjoyable mini classic.  To which afterwards, when the Pretty Things returned in 1980 they gave up the hard rock that started with Freeway Madness and ended with Savage Eye.  But while the rest of the world will remember them for the hard nitty gritty of the 60s or the rock opera attempts of Parachute and SF Sorrow, I'll be happy to remember them for Savage Eye, even though I may be in the minority. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Week In Review: Physical Graffiti redux, Blind Blake

Well we haven't gotten the snow and blizzards that have been burying the Northeast and Niagara Falls has have so much snow and cold that the falls actually have frozen over in spots.  The problem has been a blocking low over Greenland which actually been ushering in more cold Siberian and Canadian temps and pushing the snow more south and east.  The lesser of the evils and I'll take cold over snow anyday although Callie the Outdoor Cat has a different opinion.   She's certainly wearing out her welcome by plopping her ass on my new car half the time, leaving muddy paw prints after I got done washing it on a sub zero day (a lost cause, since I live out on gravel roads and the damn dust covers the clean car up anyway.   She's also been on my shit list since sneaking in the doorway and sharpening up her claws on the couch.  To which a squirt bottle and an evil eye works wonders.  But it's gonna come down to eventually drop her to a no kill shelter and hopefully she can get a good home.  She's a good cat, a smart cat but this house indoors is not made for a feline who likes to walk on CDs and records and scratch up the couch and rocker.

Gary Glitter: rock and roll pedophile and his fall from grace complete by the UK courts, giving him a 16 year sentence for his actions against minors.  I once liked him and his album that had Rock N Roll Part 1 and 2 until the latter song became a jock itch anthem.  The guy lived a shady double life and the more I read about his history I have come to despise him, some freaky 70 year old pervert trying to go after the pre teen girls that used to like his music.  I'll never listen to his music again and perhaps Glitter, his 1972 album could be misinterpreted as a concept album about his actions in the songs of I didn't know I loved you till I saw you rock and roll, Shakey Sue or the cover of Baby Please Don't Go.  It's a shame really, Glitter did have some good songs, but his twisted mindset and actions has blackballed him ever from my record player again;http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2971695/Paedophile-singer-Gary-Glitter-jailed-16-years-historic-sex-attacks-three-schoolgirls.html 

Curtis Lee who had a one hit wonder with Pretty Little Angel Eyes passed away at age 75 from a long illness.  The sign of the times, we'll all getting old and someday we'll all be gone too.  Just ask Jerome Kersey who also left the world.  And Clark Terry, jazz trumpet player that played on Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Miles Davis in their bands and albums, he was 94. And a few others.

Farce The Music has been one of the longest followers of my antics on Twitter, though we really don't talk much.  Their meme's are hit and miss but this Monday's meme's might be one of the best that they have come up yet.http://www.farcethemusic.com/2015/02/monday-morning-memes-sturgill-aldean.html

A blast from the past became a facebook friend. Kathy Welsh worked at Record Realm back in the late 70s and every guy including myself had a crush on her.  She would have made a beautiful pin up doll. Still stunning in her 50s, she moved to California got married and had twins along the way.  Somehow she found my FB site.  Still a sweetheart.

Better off alone just ask Steve Earle.  His new album is now out although Best Buy did not have it.  Terra-plane, produced by R.S.Field (John Mayall, Webb Wilder) and showing more of a blues side to Earle, but also he wrote a song called Better Off Alone, which means that his 7th wife Alison Moorer and him are now separated.  I think Alison was with Steve when he played Iowa City last year but as they say, together we grew apart.  Perhaps the part of touring and raising a autistic son may have also strained the relationship.  Sometimes it's like that in life, sometimes you can find the perfect partner to help you through life, and sometimes you have to go through 3 or 4 or even 7 or 8 to find the right one, or maybe you never do. Some folk needs somebody in their life, others prefer to be alone.  Being a musician/record collector/hoarder also can play havoc too.  Problem is that sometimes your better half tries to change you into somebody else.  Which doesn't work.  And never will.  Steve is doing quite well being the hard core troubadour on his radio show on Outlaw Radio  and of course being a top notch voice of the generation.  He's a restless spirit and maybe he'll find a new love and wife number 8.  Better off alone?  That depends on who you ask.   And we wish Alison Moorer the best of luck on life's highway.

I guess they'll moving new releases to Friday now, instead of being the last in line on Tuesday.  Of course, Bob Lefsetz, well nothing left to say, ends up bitching about that and those who buy vinyl or CDs don't impress him, which makes me think if it doesn't bother him, why does he continue to bitch about it? http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2015/02/26/release-day-blues/

As the years go by, and new music not impressing me that much I tend to, like every other online music blogs go back to different places and times. 25 years ago, I would make trips out to the mall and hang at Camelot Music and buy out the cutout CDs at 7.88 or the lesser known at 3.88 and ended up getting most of Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry's albums that way.  35 years ago, cable came into our house and I spent countless hours watching Video Concert Hall and Night Tracks and old black and white comedy shows.  And worked as a small time gas sales associate at Marion 76 and being enshrined with any young woman with curves and sunshine smile.   Basically after graduating from high school, I basically fucked off about three years of my life and have been trying to play catch up ever since.  As time goes by, the names of them girls that I wished for a date for have become faded or blurry or messed up.  I'm sure they don't look like that anymore, neither do I for that matter.  But think a while and faces from the past come out of the deep ends of your mind and you can see them again.  The girl at Record Bar that would always smile and wink at me after making a sale. The chatting petite woman at Radio Shack that slightly touched my arm after a pleasant conversation. The world of a shy boy who would fantasied about a date with one of the two while playing albums on lonely weekend nights I remember quite well.  Looking back I think I had chances of dating a few more girls if I wanted to, but my world revolved around records and music.  Then I tried to play catch up and that didn't work very well;  the 80s and most of the 90s I was the dateless wonder.  Didn't help that much that when I did ask somebody out, it never lasted more than a couple dates and that was it.  Really 1980 was a year of discovery of new things and the new medium known as satellite TV and cable, and going to the mall and spend most of my check on video games at Lindale Mall.  Or see what new releases was out at Record Bar and trying to maintain eye contact with the winking sales clerk which my mind was looking elsewhere.

And now Rob Sheffield's look at Rush: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/06/rush_how_i_learned_to_forgive_and_even_like_the_most_hated_band_of_all_time/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

And the continuing tax where it hurts, Emperor Branstad signed into law a 10 cent gas tax increase which they say will repair roads and bridges but we all know that they'll vote themselves a raise in pay and more roundabouts for accidents to happen. In the meantime gas prices have continued to go up and up, from 1.79 to now 2.35 a gallon thanks to the usual excuses of pipeline maintenance and  and spontaneous combustion as tank cars blow up and pipeline leaks causing ecological harm.  The only thing good out of this, is that Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline bill, which one company has pulled their dirty oil out of this forthcoming money pit.  To which Bitch McConnell, pockets full of Koch Brothers and Big Oil bribes is screaming about unpatriotic the president is. And the loss of 23 permanent jobs.  Whereas, here in the great Midwest, we continue to feed Big Oil, and the GOP with yet another tax hike which we can't pay our bills in the first place. In a perfect world, the assholes who voted for this would get voted out but judging from the last election, the lazy folk will vote sitting on their ass, while Koch Industries continue to get the voters out, by basically bribing them so they can vote for the 1 percent party. And the one percent continue to get richer. 

And I always had a wondering mind. (sorry hon, I wasn't paying attention ;-) )
Which reminds me to tell you that Blogger is changing their adult content policy of posting sexually explicit photos on March 23rd.   Which is explains if anybody complains about certain pictures this could be taken down, or this becomes a private blog.  Judging by the ratings and readership Record World is a half step above private anyway.  This might also explains the disappearing Ivy Doomkitty  photos from various blogs. Here one minute gone the next although the pictures that came from my personal collection have disappeared entirely and none of the St Louis or Steve Earle concert photos were explicit.  It's annoying to see those gone and it's a bitch to try to find them and post them back up if I hadn't deleted them from my camera.  Since 2006, Blogger has been the choice home after My Space lost it's luster and most of my blogs prior to February 2008 where some classic stuff went into the great black hole in cyberland, lost forever.  While some adult content pictures seemed to fit the mood, none I would think would be that bad, although the picture about the protesting girl saying she gets more than the GOP did get airbrushed off one of the blogs that I had up a few years back. But let's face it, we really don't have freedom of speech like we used to.

The intention of Record World is basically a peek of what's going on in my world be it music, records or who died and once in a while Ivy Doomkitty, the cos player devine. But for every 9 people that agree or like what you read, there's always that 1, that's either complaining about the slightest thing, or trolling to make anonymous negative bullshit that makes me rewrite the rules of comments here.  Or the 1 that throws in porn association comments in the keyword search as well.  Do I have to change of how I word things?  Do I have to change record porn to record art since that 1 person didn't get the joke?   Does the photo of the Look In My Eyes Dammit Cos player have to be taken down since I can't use it to do a funny observation?  Is the bicycle race girls posted a couple weeks ago so offending that while the majority call it art, some call it porn? Have we lost our sense of humor to the point that we can't comment on anything anymore?  Is showing off any new record finds going to cause chaos and bedlam in here?  Hell it ain't worth it, not with minimal readership.  Record World is not even a dust spot in the internet world.  Once in a while I'll write up a blog that was get noticed (Swinging Steaks, Mom's Apple Pie) and might get commented on or bring a link from a website to get folks to read it, but 99 out of 100 blogs go by without any notice.  And Natalie Monet (number 6 on the most used keyword) nor Ivy (number 3 on the list) haven't brought in the readers either. 

The fact of the matter is the pride of posting the lost 45s, you can only find here at Record World.  But it's a hobby, a show and tell of sorts, and the Singles Going Steady blogs are not high rated sellers either.  The latest installment, despite promoting it only brought in 20 viewers from the world.  Which makes me think that maybe they did put me in private mode.  Although I'm sure Blogger's new rules is geared to shut down the naughty sites or turn them adult and private is a good thing and perhaps clean up their website. Beauty and content is in the eye of the beholder and reader I guess. Which means the bicycle girls may have to go riding into the sunset, unless they cover up.  Or have somebody edited out the eye girl below to slightly above the neck.  Then you won't be detracted as she points and say LOOK IN MY EYES DAMMIT!


Led Zeppelin-Physical Graffiti (Swan Song 1975)

The big story is the reissue of this 2 record classic with a bonus CD of 7 songs of alt mixes or demos and since I rather much have the original album in tact, my observation is that the original album is a necessity, the expanded edition a luxury you can live without, unless you're hard core, then it is for you. Go get it.  That said, P.G. is one of the most definitive 2 record sets ever released, rivals to Exile On Main Street or Hampton Grease Band Music To Eat so to speak.  I always thought that the original album mix kept the record at bay, Custard Pie screams to be heard all the way up, The Rover rides a rockin groove and In My Time Of Dying remains a all time favorite.  What's amazing about this track is how John Bonham really simplifies things without complications, you really have to be a seasoned drummer to either hesitate or omit the snare on the third bar.  A lot of the songs on Graffiti came from other sessions earlier in the 70s but somehow work better, Houses Of The Holy sounds more at home here than it would have on the namesake album.  If you want funky rhythms Trampled Underfoot works quite nicely and the Wonton Song comes close.  The sweet country swing of Down By The Seaside, the 50s throwback rockabilly of Boogie With Stu (with a little help from Ian Stewart with a nod at Richie Valens) the folk eclectic of Black Country Woman, and Side 4 of Night Flight and ending with the rocking Sick Again makes me think that perhaps P.G. might be even better than Exile On Main Street,  I don't think there's a minor track anywhere on this record except maybe the Jimmy Page instrumental but I think it's pretty damn good here.  Believe it or not, my least favorite song is everybody's favorite, Kashmir which really ushered in a new type of metal that would lead to other imitations of that style (Stargazer from Rainbow is almost identical, Richie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio really studied Kashmir). I do not hate Kashmir, it's damn good, I just don't play it thanks to Corporate Classic Rock Radio doing that for me.  I rather listen to Custard Pie, or Time Of Dying or the reflective Ten Years Gone, which reminds me of the one that got away.  This is a band collective effort and John Paul Jones is just as valuable to Zep as was Page's guitar, Plant's vocals and Bonzo's drumming, it's him driving the band on Trampled Underfoot, it's him at the haunting beginning of In The Light and it's him shaping up the counterpoint on Custard Pie.  When Page remastered the album in the late 90s he finally had the technology to make it sound like the true classic it is today and I'm sure the even newer mix is more to the point. Led Zeppelin would never make another album this hard rocking and as good ever again, they only had two left before Bonham drank himself to oblivion in 1980 but Physical Graffiti remains (to me) their best ever. Bob Lefsetz agrees too.  End of the world next.

Grade A+     

The Metronone All Star Bands (Bluebird 1988)

If you're into big band or jazz swings this might be of some interest to you.  RCA back in the old days would put together collective all star jam sessions off and on and it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to have Fats Waller sit in with Tommy Dorsey, or Buddy Rich jamming it with Count Basie and a collection of who's who brings some fun from these sessions which begin in 1937 with Honeysuckle Rose by Waller and Dorsey with the forgotten George Wettling on drums.  The Blues selections are basically easy listening, but things pick up with Buddy Rich leading a Count Basie/Coleman Hawkins/Charlie Christian/Harry James jam through a swinging Bugle Call Rag.and One O Clock Jump.  The historical and final January 3 1949 has a dream lineup of Dizzy Gillespie/Miles Davis/Fats Navarro/Kai Winding/J J Johnson with Shelly Manne pounding away on two wild versions of Overtime to which Shelly Manne never seems to get enough credit for being a legendary drummer himself.  They just don't make them like that anymore, nor the All Star jam sessions that made swing jazz listenable back then.
Grade A-

Ahmad Jamal-Tranquility (Impulse 1968)

Jamal has been very underrated over the years.  While best known for But Not For Me, a album that came out enos ago on Argo and part of the Chess Masters reissues, Jamal has worked best in a trio format and every album that I have heard has been just about picture perfect.  This late 1968 issue has Jamal trying out a couple of Burt Bachurach numbers (I say a little prayer for you, The look of love) although with mellow themes and it's quite nice to hear.  Side 2 containing the progressive jazz sounding of the title track and Manhattan Reflections gives me visions of Rick Wakeman for some reason.  The moody bass drum beginning and end of the title track and Jamal's interweaving with bass player Jamil Nasser on M.R.makes the second side essential listening for jazz improvisation.  It's argumentative but I tend to think Ahmad's years with ABC Impulse was his classic period.  Tranquility makes a valid point about that.
Grade A-

Rockin' Instrumentals (Cornerstone/MCA 1998)

When I was growing up, I tend to favor specialty songs, or instrumentals, most could be heard before the top of the hour on the AM stations years ago and today, the folks at Underground Garage will use them before a has been rock star or DJ pops up to bore you with useless blabbing.  Cornerstone Marketing, had two of them out before the turn of the century, one was more pop, this one more rocking although Lawrence Welk's Calcutta is about as rocking as Vaughn Monroe's Swinging Safari which was once used for the opening of a game show.  Being square as Mr. Champagne Welk or Square Pants Vaughn was, I actually enjoyed the hook to Safari and find some guilty pleasure in Calcutta. Anything that was hit instrumental in the late 50s and early 60s is right here and where else can you have Al Hurt's Java hanging with the In Crowd by Ramsey Lewis, Lonnie Mack's Memphis, Ray Anthony's Peter Gunn Theme (although the hard rumble of Duane Eddy's version is missed, but I grew up with both versions on singles) and Link Wray's Rumble, the only thing hard rock that Archie Beyer issued on his label and regretted releasing it. And that's on disc 1.  Disc 2 has a bit more cheese (Fifth Of Beethoven, White Sliver Sands, Hawaii Five O and the aforementioned Welk/Monroe tracks) but also has the cowbell laded Grazing In The Grass, the surf classic Pipeline and the rare long version of Time Is Tight by Booker T and The MGs, to which perhaps the shorter single version would have been a better choice.  In a nutshell, Rockin Instrumentals shows how wild and varied the songs could be for two minutes and playing riffs without words. Unless you count somebody yelling Tequila.  Or the Heh heh hehs of Watermelon Man.
Grade  A-

Blackberry Smoke-Holdin' All The Roses (Rounder 2015)

For all the comparisons to new country, Blackberry Smoke is more akin to The Georgia Satellites or Dash Rip Rock and Kentucky Headhunters; hard southern rock with a more attention to detail in the song lyrics.  Charlie Starr boasts another positive, he sounds like a southern Dave Edmunds as well.  Taking pot shots at Dallas Davidson and the Peach Pickers in particular, Let Me Help You Find The Door is a big middle finger to bro country Rock And Roll Again leveled at what ever passes for modern rock is another zinger song but perhaps the best of the bunch is Wish In One Hand (Shit in the other and see which one fills up first for you brother), perhaps the runner ups on The Voice or American Idol should take to heart.  Too High might be dedicated to the Smoke themselves.  Credit should be given to Brendan O Brien, who has worked with southern rock bands with good effect before and his production really shines.  Probably the best album of 2015 that I have come across, but that's not saying much, I only reviewed three others.  But I do believe after the year is gone, this will be in my top favorite albums of the year.  Music I can relate to.
Grade A-

Tim Buckley (Elektra 1966)

In his short recording career (his son Jeff's was even more shorter and more influential, which is debatable) Tim has proven to be a very eccentric and a very erratic recording artist but on his debut album, he is presented as a folk artist.  And perhaps out of all of his Elektra and Straight/DisCreet albums, his first is the most listenable.  Starts out with the hippie dippy I Can't See You but Buckley does let loose what would be his trademark high tenor screams on Strange Street Affair Under Blue and of course failed single Aren't You The Girl.  I actually come to enjoy the moody melancholy of Song Slowly Sung, basically a throwaway but for myself it actually works quite nice.  I found this album used for a dollar and it's been played a few times but out of all of Buckley's albums I like this one the best  although the consensus think that Buckley was being held back by Paul Rothchild's production, which basically sounds a lot like the Doors' debut.  And Rothchild's production can be heard on the majority of the Elektra roster at that time be it Tim, or Love or Jim Morrison.  A good band is backing him up (Billy Mundi, Van Dyke Parks, Jim Fielder and Lee Underwood).  After this album, Tim would slowly rethink his music and turned it upside down on later albums (Starsailor, Lorca, the porn soul of Greetings From LA, the faux soul of his final one Look At The Fool) but for straight folk rock, Tim Buckley the album shows promise and potential.
Grade B+

Howlin Wolf-Live And Cookin At Alice Revisited (Chess 1972)

For the legend that is Chester Burnett, it's a sad fact that he was never recorded in his prime, basically he started late in life anyway but by the time we get to this 1972 live set, Burnett was in ill health although you wouldn't know it by his powerful vocals.  Most of the living Chicago blues sessionmen (at that time) backed him up, Hubert Sumlin, Louis Myers, Sunnyland Slim, Eddie Shaw and Fred Below are present and accounted for.  Instead of recording in a south side juke joint, Ralph Bass decided on a coffeehouse.  Burnett not playing it safe goes for a obscure song list, the best known was Sitting On Top Of The World which was recorded a few times before.  But to prove a point the riffs known for Back Door Man or Spoonful or Burnett's signature Smokestack Lightning are rearranged but with different lyrics.  I would like to say that it would be required listening but it turns out to be  curio for Howlin Wolf fans only. Lead off track When I Laid Down I was Troubled gets off on the wrong foot; either this was their first attempt or they didn't have their stuff together, Fred Below not even on the same beat.  It's rough blues, even Sumlin and Shaw hit a raw and sour note on Sitting On Top Of The World.  And the band never really starts cookin till Don't Laugh At Me comes into play six songs in the album.  The bonus tracks tend to be the better, The Big House and another attempt at Smokestack Lightning in the way of the long and jammed out Mr. Airplane Man ends this on a much better note than the original album version. But there's hardly anything out there of Burnett's live performances and the ones that are out there, are poorly recorded import bootlegs. Which leaves Live And Cookin as the only Howlin Wolf live album worth noting.  Even with the actual product it's buyer beware.  But get the expanded edition, the bonus tracks do help a lot.
Grade B-

Record find of the day::  West Coast Blues  Blind Blake

Steve Warren, owner and picture taker of this album found this at a thrift store for a dollar which may be the find the year for anybody.  Because, it's one of the famed Paramount Records of the late 20s and number 2 and most importantly the even rarer 78 Paramount Record sleeve is harder to find. If the record is in VG or better shape, he can probably get at least 100 up to a 1000 thousand dollars from hard core collectors looking for anything off Paramount Records.  Blind Blake remains one of the most mysterious and famous of the post war acoustic blues and being a top recording star in the late 20s before disappearing  after making his final recordings for Paramount as they were shutting operations down in 1932.  After many many years and many folks trying to find anything of his whereabouts, it was noted that Blake died on December 1, 1934. from TB.  http://onmilwaukee.com/music/articles/blindblake.html  
Another link about Blind Blake: http://www.tdblues.com/2011/10/blind-blake-details-found/


Monday, February 16, 2015

Week In Review: Townedger Radio 5, Lesley Gore, SNF 40

For those are waiting with baited breath, Carl Sentence is the new lead singer of Nazareth.  Why yes,they're still around why'd you ask?

Love that chicken from Popeyes?  I wouldn't know but the big thing going on in town is the opening of one in Cedar Rapids, to which the masses responded with a traffic jam stemming back as far as Lindale Drive on the first day. A week later, I still counted cars waiting to go through the drive in, off Blairs Fairly about five cars deep on the road but eventually the novelty will wear off.  I am not that hard up to try them out, I probably get in and out by going to Waterloo, which had one operating for many years and you can get in and out sooner instead of holding up traffic down here. 

The Saturday Night Life 40 show or Let's Kiss Lorne Michaels' Ass aired on Sunday and if this is what they have for best moments I'll take my memories instead.  A couple things stood out, Bill Murray revived his lounge singer act, Jane Curtin's returning to the Weekend Update field (to throw a zinger at FOX news) and Wayne's World which they took a few lighthearted shots at Kanye West.  But the whole show was an exercise of trying to stay awake among the five minutes of commercials to which Michaels, if he was such a cutting edge genius would have added more skits and the funny SNL spoofs instead of doing a couple screen shots of them in a meaningless mash them together segments.  Way too much time spent on the unfunny SNL skits of this decade, Bill Hader way too much love and not enough for the not ready for prime time players.  And I always been creeped out by the Belushi Don't Look Back At Anger spot which they saved toward the end.  What Michaels failed to show was the old Taste Buds commercial sketch which may have been one of the best things that Budweiser ever signed off on.  Or the The killer Bees. Or the edgy Chevy Chase/Richard Pryor Word Association, leading up to Chase saying the N word and Pryor coming back with Dead Honkie! But the sign of the times that the original cast 40 years later are all gray hair or bald or dead.  Paul Simon singing Still Crazy After All These Years ruined by an overblown saxophone solo.  Miley Cyrus hashing up 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover to the groans of the old farts used to Simon's original.  Still, if anybody would have said that Saturday Night Live would survive after 40 years, would have been laughed at.  But the persistence of Michaels continuing to bring new comedians to the show is perhaps the theme of the show, even though SNL hasn't been as viable since the original cast left for the movies and TV shows many many decades ago. Lorne could never replace a John Belushi (who also got folks to buy the original soul music by playing Joliet Jake  Blues in the Blues Brothers) although Chris Farley did come close.  Looking back upon this, Saturday Night Live did out last a lot of the copy cat comedy troupe shows of the 70s, (ABC's Fridays) but the original inspiration and source of SNL Second City TV, still remained the better of the two shows to which Shout Factory basically released most of that on a few DVDs years ago that I managed to get as cutouts.  Even then, Lorne Michaels couldn't top the Eugene Levy, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Harold Ramis, Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin and Catherine O'Hara lineup of SCTV when the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players were on at that time.  Michaels could go on for another 40 years and stop can't top SCTV no matter what he did.  But the Not Ready For Prime Time Players were special in their own way too. But Michaels continues to pat himself on the back 35 years  later and recycling the warhorse that is SNL, so that people will remember him.  Kudos to Eddie Murphy for passing on parody Bill Cosby and his situation that's continues to go on.

Lesley Gore died Monday, aged 68 and from lung cancer.  Another victim of cigarettes. Gore has always to me been a different type of female singer, something more deep inside of her, the woman you can never tame.  Maybe it had something to do with her coming out being lesbian in the late 2000s but it always wondered me why no guy was with her during her hit making years with Quincy Jones and Mercury. Records.  However my favorite song of hers was not anything by Quincy but rather a obscure non album cut called I Don't Know If I Can which was perhaps a swipe at Shelby Singleton Jr who took over production for this and Young Love a number 50 charting single.  Basically known for It's My Party and Judy's Turn To Cry the smartasses out there wondering if Lesley wanted Judy more than she did of Johnny.  Over the years, I actually found some decent 45s of some of her lesser known stuff, I Don't Want To Be A Loser and an VG plus copy of a sleeveless 45 of  Off And Running which I got at a Mad City Half Priced Bookstore for 50 cents.  Alas it only made it up to 106 or 108 on the bubbling over chart in late 1966, which is surprising considering how upbeat the music is and was written by Carol Bayer and Toni Wine, one of the more trusted songwriters of the 60s and arranged by Jack Nitzche.   By then, Gore was all but forgotten after the glory years of 1963, which her first four singles hit the top ten.  Oldies radio still plays those and You Don't Own Me, which could be considered the forerunner of Feminist music, in the style of I Am Woman. Her last top ten California Nights (#16 in 1967) is rarely heard anywhere.  While Universal has kept a Lesley Gore best of in print over the years, the best one, the 2 CD It's My Party captures just about Lesley's best moments on Mercury although after Brink Of Disaster, Gore tries more of a contemporary pop something like Petula Clark's stuff but not as memorable or enjoyable.   I heard good things about her 1975 comeback album for A&M with Quincy Jones helping out, Jones always seems to bring out the best in Lesley than anybody else but that album didn't sell either.  In 2007 Lesley returned with Ever Since, which garnered good reviews as well and then came out of the closet.  For the most part, Gore was content to play the oldies circuit and give the fans what they wanted to hear.  While today's youth and music has forgotten Lesley, history will show that she was a lot better than most of the teenie boppers of that era, Quincy Jones alone really helped shape her music into what it is today.  It's fairly easy to find Lesley's 45s and LPs in the used bins even after death. There's more to her than just the Judy and Johnny saga of It's My Party.  I found that out after hearing Off And Running, and eventually sought out the 2 CD retrospective, despite it being scratched up for 20 dollars used and a record club copy to boot.

Record Porn: Tra Le La Le La Triangle/Leavin On Your Mind by Patsy Cline

About six years ago, Cedar Rapids had two Salvation Army stores to go to. the one on 3rd Avenue is still in tact but their record selection is always picked clean and what remains is the usual crap that nobody listens to under the age of 74, the other was located in Czech Village.  I really miss that place, they seem to have a better selection.  But anyway, the last time I was down there, I donated a bunch of LPs and most of my cassettes that I seldom played anymore.  But the last time I stopped in there, somebody dropped off a few country 45s of varying degree.  I picked up two, one was a Ray Price number and the other was this Promo copy of perhaps the most pop sounding song that Patsy would record, Tra Le La Le La Triange although I think the B side Leavin On Your Mind has managed to get more airplay on Willie's Roadhouse on Sirius XM.  No introduction necessary when it comes to Pasty, perhaps one of more emotional singers who you can feel the pain in the way she sings songs like Leavin On Your Mind or perhaps playing Miss Innocent on Triangle.  Whoever owned this copy didn't think much of Leavin and decided to go with Triangle, which made him in the minority.  Leavin On Your Mind made it to number 8 on the country charts in January of 1963.   I bought this record a week before the major flood of 2008 took out most of Cedar Rapids and The Salvation Army store, to which I'm guessing that my donated cassettes and LPs went down the river.  An interesting story behind purchasing the record.

A couple things to read: http://noisey.vice.com/blog/country-music-sexism?curator=MusicREDEF
A article that states Miranda Lambert continues to kick bro country's ass.  And of course how shitty bro country is, which reminds me that the new Love And Theft and Blackberry Smoke is out but Best Buy didn't have the the B.S. album, nor the new Steve Earle but they did have LAT. So far this year is shaping up to be even more shittier in new music than last year.

A story on Garret Rein: http://www.hidesertstar.com/news/article_a8cf2ef8-b718-11e4-a9ac-071ab3464b48.html

As part of looking for new artists, Rein has been very supportive of me and my efforts on Townedger Radio and he can be heard via Lucky Star Radio and a few other net radio outlets.  At age 33 he's considered to be a long shot in making it into hard rock but he has built up a following via social media outlets.  Thought I would give him a shout out. Side note, Garret makes a comment about a slight mistake in the article."It's Supposed to say "Alvin Taylor toured with Little Richard and bunch of other credentials. David Keckhut was the Lead Vocalist who worked with Michael Devin (Bass Player) of Whitesnake and Johnny G. (Bass Player) with Slash, shortly after Guns n Roses, Slash created his own band Slash's Snakepit"

And: http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/broken-record-why-record-store-day-is-not-working

For an everyday hoarder/collector, every day is record store day when I visit Ragged Records or Half Priced Books or the thrift stores.  I tend to think that RSD exclusives are overpriced and most I have on CD or vintage album vinyl.  The problem is the lack of close by record stores to hang out.  Unless I open up one myself.  It would be a money pit but perhaps if I get enough record fans perhaps I could eek out a living for about a month or two.

Wednesday Night is Townedger Radio, my little show on Lucky Star Radio.  Every 3rd Wed Night at Midnight CST, 10 Pacific I continue my losing effort to showcase music that is hardly played anymore and I think this show may have been the best one yet.  Check it out at this link: www.live365.com/stations/luckystarradio  or if that don't work www.luckystarradio.com/

The Playlist for 10/18/15  TE Radio 5

Black Night Crash-Ride
IOU-The Replacements
You Can Look But You Better Not Touch-Bruce Springsteen
Takes A Lot To Rock You-Dwight Yoakam
Gimme Gimme Good Lovin-Crazy Elephant
Turning On Blue-Tommy Keene
Just Enough Love-The Townedgers
Android-Green Day
Detroit Made-Bob Seger
Two People In A Room-Wire
Go Home Little Girl-Dash Rip Rock
Dogs Part 2-The Who
That's What She Said-The Greenberry Woods
Loud And Clear-The Empty Hearts
Oh No-The Mothers Of Invention
Budweiser-The Crew Cuts
The Mighty Quinn-Bob Dylan And The Band
Say It-Voice Of The Beehive
Bring It To Light-The Townedgers
Lawyers, Guns And Money-Warren Zevon
Free Jazz (excerpt)-Ornette Coleman

Saturday, February 14, 2015



As much as I get on Bob Lefsetz case (as if he really cares) once in a while he'll dream up a very good blog about a forgotten band from the past.  While he struck out on the Grammy blog, he came back and hit a home run with his tribute to Spirit, perhaps one of the best and versatile batch of musicians that ever formed a band.  The late Randy California and Ed Cassidy have been the anchor of this band for many years till California's accidental drowning in 1997 and Cassidy passed away in 2012. Cassidy, one of the oldest rockers of this era, started out playing in jazz bands and featuring the likes of Cannonball Adderley and Gerry Mulligan around the late 50s.  Then formed the Rising Sons with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder before moving on with The Red Roosters that featured Randy, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andres. When John Locke joined up, they became Spirits Rebellious before shortening the name to Spirit.

The classic lineup recorded for Ode and later Epic.  The first album Spirit was unlike anything you heard before, Mechanical World was the first single released in all of its 5 minute glory.  Radio couldn't quite figure what to do with a song like this and it never reached higher than 129 on the Bubbling over chart.  The next single I Got A Line On You, hit number 25 and is now a classic rock staple. The albums themselves were a different matter, there are filler moments on all three, the first, The Family That Plays Together and Clear, the latter two beginnings of progressive rock.  1984, the fatalistic single managed to hit number 69 on the charts before disappearing due to ongoing fight with Lou Adler and CBS Records which may have killed off any more chart action.  Somewhere along the line Epic Records got Spirit. 

But while the band was imploding, they managed to get the late David Briggs (Neil Young's choice producer who also owned Spindizzy Records, the home of Grin) to put together what is considered Spirit's best album  12 Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus.  A record way ahead of its time, I consider this to be one of the 100 most influential and best albums of all time, beginning with the words You have the world at your fingertips which also ends on the solemn Soldier, what lies between these songs remains rock and roll goodness with Nothing To Hide, going into Nature's Way and Animal Zoo and the freaky Love Has Found  A Way, going into the reflective Why Can't I Be Free and ends side 1 on what might be their best overall song Mr. Skin. Later versions of Mr. Skin has John Locke's organ riff beginning whereas The Mobile Fidelity CD chops it off (or the original album itself).  Side 2 gives us Locke's space jazz of Space Child going into the prog rock meltdown of When I Touch You, where Jay Ferguson adds screamo ooph to the coda. They return to rock on Street Worm, then go into the folkish Life Has Just Begun, to which the fade out A Beginning , leads off failed single Morning Has Come and then ends on Soldier.  12 Dreams can stand along among Led Zeppelin 4, The Who Who's Next and The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers as best albums of that fabled year.  And still sounds vital as ever.

After that album, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes left to concentrate more on boogie rock and roll in Jo Jo Gunne for Asylum in 1972 and all four of their albums have classic moments, although the least of them all, So Where's The Show suffers from a poor side 2.  California bowed out and the Staehely Brothers (Al and John) joined up and with David Briggs producing again, gave out Feedback. It's a uneven mess of a album, that does have some moments (Chelsea Girls) but has gone by the wayside although Collector's Choice issued it for a while.  Sensing that the best moments have gone pass, Epic issued The Best Of Spirit.  With 5 tracks from 12 Dreams, and the remainder from the first three albums, it does represent Spirit at their best but in 2003 a reissue of Best Of Spirit adds five more tracks including Taurus, a acoustic California number that somehow Jimmy Page took to use for the introduction to Stairway To Heaven which has had a few law suits in the courts about plagiarism that Page took to use.  With the inclusion of So Little Time To Fly and I'm Truckin, The expanded Best Of Spirit is a must have in your collection.   With the freaky Mechanical World, 1984, Fresh Garbage and Uncle Jack, it has just about everything you could want from Spirit.  Time Circle a 2 CD 1991 retrospective cherry picks albums fracks from the four albums and a load of outtakes and singles only songs.  Perhaps better to get the studio albums instead.

The Mercury years and then some showcased California returning back with Ed Cassidy and I must admit that the only album that I ever heard from this was the 1984 failed comeback attempt of Spirit of 84(or original title The Thirteenth Dream) to which the original lineup returned to re record seven of the 10 songs selected including an all star lineup of I Got A Line On You which got some MTV airplay.  It's also known as one of the earliest albums released on CD as well, that CD is rare to find.  A strange album they did Potato-land came out in 1981 via Rhino although it has its roots back to the early 70s is noted, but what I remembered from it sounded like a story from a bad comic book.  The Further Along  album is noted for the return of the original lineup with Jay Ferguson joining up last for some live dates, but a disastrous show featuring a drunk Neil Young   led to another split of the ways.  But basically the reviews of the Mercury albums showed critic indifference or just not as memorable as the Ode/Epic years.  And I guess we'll leave it at that.

I did see Spirit play in Arizona in 1987 and what is perhaps the most quietest concert that I ever went to, perhaps it was being played outdoors and they didn't want to wake up the snowbirds but Randy was in fine shape and Ed having his biggest drum set in tow.  Somehow Randy got IRS to sign them up for a new album and Rapture In The Chambers was the end result.  John Locke rejoined the band after a stint in Nazareth and so did Mark Andes, perhaps the last real attempt to connect the original members (Jay Ferguson sat out). Outside of Hard Love, a song geared toward album rock, the rest of the album was not memorable. Mike Nile joins California and Cassidy for Tent Of Miracles, a better album but not by much. California Blues was the final record, to which Randy shows off his blues side and covers Hendrix.

With the drowning of California, Spirit ends there although Ed Cassidy would continue as Spirit Revisited for a few 1998 dates. John Locke would pass away on 2006 and at the age of 89 Ed would leave the world in December of 2012. 

For the most part, most if not all Spirit albums are available on CD, Sony Music has kept the Ode/Epic albums alive with bonus tracks, Beat Goes On has kept the Mercury albums overseas (although the Polygram Mercury Years CD is out of print).  The emphasis remains that 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus is their classic all time best, that remains an A plus album in my book and every music collection should have that.  Also The Best Of Spirit (2003 expanded edition) is a must have as well if you want to hear the classic hits that made Spirit what they are today.  These two albums prove that they were way ahead of their time and on the basis of these two albums why they should be in the rock n roll hall of fame of your choice.  They are in mine. Also the importance of David Briggs to produce Dr. Sardonicus can't not be forgotten.  He made a great record sound like a classic in the way the songs go from one to another. 

But in any case there'll never be another band like Spirit, they were right for the late 60s and early 70s.  They might be gone but they're not forgotten.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week In Review: The Grammys Explained, Ed Sabol, Reviews

A night to remember or to forget.  The Grammys tend to be that.  Perhaps the most rock moment was AC/DC hitting the stage and Chris Slade returned to playing drums.  Slade who stepped aside when troubled Phil Rudd returned 20 years ago, came back after Rudd couldn't leave his country due to his ongoing legal problems.  Kanye West, acting like the usual asshole bitched that Beck should give up his record of the year to Beyonce, and then turned out the be the autotuned weakest link in a song by Rhianna and Paul McCartney, who had the second best Grammy moment, dancing to a song, not knowing he was being filmed till he looked at the camera and smiled meekly and sat back down.  While Sam Smith was winning 4 awards, hardly anybody took noticed that Rosanne Cash won 3 in the Americana and folk department.  Beyond the grave, awards were given to Joan Rivers and Johnny Winter, who's last album won best Blues album and Rivers best spoken word album.  Ziggy Marley got best reggae album, Weird Al got best comedy album and Mike Farris won best roots gospel album. Chick Corea won 2 jazz album awards. Miranda Lambert took home best country album with not living up to expectations Platinum and Carrie Underwood Best Country Solo performance with the crappy Something In The Water to which I'm Katy Perry could sing over the same track and they would call it pop.  Glen Campbell, won best country song with I'm Not Gonna Miss You, perhaps his final song ever and got the sympathy vote.  A nice gesture to the man and the legacy that he left on music, be it a session player in the Wrecking Crew or country pop star. https://bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/segarini-the-2015-milli-vanillisi-mean-grammys/

Perhaps the shock of the day was Beck Hansen's Morning Phase that won two awards including album of the year, to which had Mr. Kashisdan bitching up a storm; never mind the fact that if Kanye West would have won record of the year (and he didn't, since he had nothing new out) I'm sure the Autotuned dick would laugh in Beyonce' s face  Another questionable winner was Tenacious D, the faux paus comedy/metal duo featuring Jack Black won Metal song of the year with a Dio remake beating out more believable bands like Anthrax, Motorhead, Mastodon and Slipknot.  For alternative rock, St. Vincent beat out Jack White, although White did win best rock performance.  But it was Beck winning two awards that was the headscratcher., album of the year and rock album.  The Rock field was very weak, Beck won over Tom Petty, The Black Keys, Ryan Adams and U2.  Opinions vary on Ryan Adams and Tom Petty but you'd think the NARAS would have gone with The Black Keys for new taste.  Another odd fact was that I managed to watch the whole thing, until somebody's performance would bore me and I would change channels to watch The Family Guy (which seems to losing popularity over the years-sometimes Mr. McFarlane's gags do drag on such as Lois asking Peter if he puked in the kitchen sink, whereas Peter tells Lois to wait as he waits out the 2 minute intro of Baba O'Reily, the most boring segment since the Book talk skit).  Next to AC/DC the return of Jeff Lynne (going under the Electric Light Orchestra) doing a couple songs, part of Evil Woman and then new guy Ed Sheeran (who didn't win any grammys) helping out on Mr Blue Sky.  But was it really ELO, hard to say if Richard Tandy was there but Bev Bevan wasn't on drums, perhaps that Lynne may have banned him from returning after Bev did a tribute knockoff band ELO 2.  Pharrell Williams won a couple grammys for his Happy song, but his new remake including some references to Ferguson Missouri (the brief hands up don't shoot me gesture) was pompous as they come.  Miranda Lambert gave us Little Red Wagon, which may have been the second best rock performance although her keyboardist' Casino with the goofy sound effects may have been a tribute to Radio Shack and them closing their doors.    The eternal cool of soon to be 90 Tony Bennett lighting it up with Lady Gaga on Cheek To Cheek (which won best trad pop) does give fantasies of doing Miss Gaga in that way rather than her dressing up like KISS and being a total turn off.   But the rest of songs and stuff I could care less although Anne Lennox stole the show from Andrew Lozier-Byrne on the drab  Take Me To Church.  Or Tom Jones being saddled with the tuneless Jessie J on You Lost That Loving Feeling.  Max Martin got producer of the year but as for Izzy Azalea and Taylor Swift and Gaga wannabe Sia they went home empty handed.  But the night belong to Sam Smith who won  4 grammys and a trivia question in waiting.

Afterwards Kanye West, took out his autotuner and autocried about Beck winning Record Of The Year to which a lot of people told him to fuck off and grow up.  Shirley Manson in an FB rant told him to quit acting like a complete twat.  To which West took it as a compliment.  But then again opinions are like assholes, everybody got one, case in point: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2015/02/10/grammys-5/

The half rights and mostly wrongs, while Imagine Dragons got away with a Target sponsored ad and did a 4 minute song, and Dwight dueting with Brandy Clark was a highlight too.  But to bitch about Beck winning the best album shows the inner old crank that is Lefsetz. It was a shock to see the award going to Morning Phase and guess what?  The next day everybody went on their way going back to school and back to work to pay bills.  It does mean that I have two albums that won Grammys this year, Beck and Miranda Lambert.  That is also a shock upon itself as well.  And to bitch about AC/DC, perhaps Bob would have have Luke and FGL lip synched to a song, that seems to be up his alley.  To those who wanted to rock, AC DC saluted you with or without Bob's approval.  And it's too fucking bad that we didn't get more of that.  Instead of Kayne West's chipmunk tuned bitching about Beck.  And in the end makes a half assed attempt to apologize and said it was a joke just like the Grammys.  In the words of Bob, makes me puke.  Fucking autotuned chipmunk, go back and do what you do best, go bang Kim Buns Kadasian and make more silly named kids. Moving on.

Bob Dylan made a 30 minute speech Saturday giving kudos to Buck Owens and not so much to Lieber/Stoller, the guys who wrote Hound Dog and Tom T Hall, who Bob chose I Love as an example. In defense of Tom T Hall, he was written much better songs, I look at I Love in the same way as Country Is or I Care, basically a list of things Tom likes or loves. Basically its no different than half the garbage Dylan wrote for Under The Red Sky. (Wiggle Wiggle?).  Of course Bob Lefsetz got on the bandwagon and called it the best speech anybody has given in many years but for myself just like Dylan I took it in stride.  Dylan is entitled to his opinions and he can be right from time to time. But like Dylan wrote you don't need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows and this comes in handy.

The Tommy and Paul show known as The Replacements are going to tour again, dubbed as Back by Unpopular Demand, the Return Of The Replacements.  Never a dull moment when they get together.  For local entertainment George Thorogood and Brian Selzer will be playing here at the Amphitheater but I don't see paying 38 dollars to see them.  Or the 55 dollars commanded when Chicago pulls into town.  The problem of music today is that even going out to see an established or a band with one or two original members left and taking out a second mortgage just is not cost effective. Gone are the days of spending 5 to 10 dollars to see the same bands back in their heyday.  If memories are going to be that way, I'll save the money and pull out the records to revisit them.  Or wait till the Iowa City Arts and Jazz festivals and see the headliner for free and get up close and personal like I did when Los Lobos came into town.

It was 56 years ago that Buddy Holly's life ending in a barren cornfield in Iowa but another Cricket passed way Saturday.  Joe B Mauldin, was 74.  Tom Bruer took this photo and get credited for the surreal view of Buddy, Richie and The Big Bopper's last appearance.

One of the best basketball coaches of all time died as well.  The legendary  Dean Smith was 83 and lost his battle with Alzheimer's.  His North Carolina teams were great, especially the ones featuring Michael Jordan, to which they won the NCAA title on a Fred Brown errant pass in the final moments. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/02/rip-dean-smith-college-basketball-north-carolina

Ed Sabol is the reason why football got popular, as least to me. Before the NFL became its own Corporation and made the rules for themselves, they let Sabol and his production company film ball games and to this day the original Sabol produced NFL films of the 60 through 1995 remain classic.  Whereas would you see the likes of Dick Butkus throwing a Altanta running back down to the ground like a rag doll or Lynn Swann's amazing superbowl catches over Mark Washington of Dallas in 1976.  With the right amount of slow motion and in your face camera shots the NFL highlights of Sabol were the stuff of legends all the way down to John Facenda, the original voice of NFL films who passed away in 1984.  Ed retired in 1996 and his son Steve took over till he passed away in 2012. The original Football Follies remains one of the classics of NFL films.  Sabol died Saturday and lived to be 98.  I think he lived a full life.  The old NFL films inspired me to go out for football when I was in Junior high.

The amazing free fall of gas prices is now over as we are once again over 2 dollars a gallon.  It got down to 1.74 in spots, around here the cheapest was 1.79, but they have gone up over 30 cents in the past two weeks. The usual reasons cited, (perfect time to close the refinery for maintenance, ISIS, GOP controlled congress although they want you to blame striking workers for that too, oh and speculators looking out for themselves and Koch Industries). I'm sure they'll be back to 2.50 before March and 3.00 before summer, that's usually how it works anymore.

Reviews of the week:

Alice Cooper-Mascara And Monsters The Best Of Alice Cooper (Rhino/WB 2001)

The two sides of Alice; the first 13 showcasing the original and best band although this comp ignores the Frank Zappa freakout of the first two albums.  Pretties For You and Easy Action had moments but Zappa style didn't suit them well.  I'm still not sold on the studio albums Love It To Death up to Muscle Of Love, but the singles taken from them were good, to great to excellent.  And would have recommended this over the 1974 Greatest Hits had they decided to use the chopped version of Hello Hooray instead.  Schools Out with the bizzare flanger fade out works better than the album version.  It was more spooky to hear the single version over the School's Out album track since it has the dragged ending.  But beginning with 18 and concluding with Muscle Of Love is why Alice Cooper is a rock and roller hall of famer.  Generation Landslide is the bonus track but really doesn't do much for me but with his lineup of Mike Bruce, Glenn Buxton, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith they could do no wrong.  The second side of Alice Cooper, balladeer and although Cooper trades his band in for band that shaped up Lou Reed's Rock And Roll Animal is a stronger lineup, the songs are MOR right down to Only Women Bleed.  Cooper would work with Elton John's band  (I Never Cry sure does sound like Nigel Olsson playing drums and Dee Murray and Davey Johnstone popping in as well) but the new Alice Cooper is more MOR than shock rock and Bernie Taupin did help put together the album From The Inside.  I did buy Clones as a single but I tend to think it was more cheese than shock as well.  The album avoids the MCA years and concludes with the Bon Jovi inspired Poison (co written with Desmond Child).  Outside of what I recall of Hey Stoopid and Last Temptation they were fun listens but not enough to really remember or repurchase them to hear them again either. So sum it up, Mascara And Monsters, I consider to be Alice Coopers Greatest Hits but with 12 bonus tracks to boot.  That way, once I get done hearing Muscle Of Love, I can turn it off and go with something else that rocks.   For nostalgic feelings of high school and the high school dances, I put on You And Me and I Never Cry if I want to revisit that era.  The Monster tracks are great, The Mascara stuff not so much.
Grade B+ 

Lee Morgan-Cornbread (Blue Note 1967)

The Sidewinder will always be the go to album if I want to hear Lee Morgan but this 1966 session has its moments, basically on side 1 and the two rolling tracks: the title track and the jammy Our Man Higgins to which is dedicated to Billy Higgins playing drums and having a good time of it.  Things slow down considerably on side 2, the two mellow numbers Ceora and Ill Wind, which invokes memories of Miles Davis being laid back.  But I rather much have more uptempo jamming than slow tempo relaxing jazz anyday and outside of Most Like Lee, which pales next to the two songs on side 1.  Morgan has some underrated players on this album (Hank Mosley, Jackie McLean are the sax players, Larry Ridley is the bassist and the piano is by Herbie Hancock who fills in the gaps quite nicely on the ending of Cornbread. Hard bop of the late 60s was a dying trend thanks to the space jazz of John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Nevertheless, Cornbread does update the hardbop to late 60s standards and does a nice job too.
Grade B+

Richard Thompson- You? Me? Us? (Capitol 1996)

It's debatable to say if Richard's Capitol era was his best as a solo artist.  He did have moments of grandeur but whatever he attempted to achieve got undercut by Mitchell Froom's crazed production which you can hear to full effect on Rumour And Sigh, and Mirror Blue, a album that has never caught on to me and the reason why I held off on You? Me? Us? till I found a dollar copy the other day.  I think it's an improvement over Mirror Blue although the bloated Froom production on the electric side is just as annoying as Mirror Blue.  Good songs, overproduction which may have been the reason why Thompson quit working with Froom.  The Fairport connection still there, Simon Nicol plays guitar and son Teddy Thompson sings backup and drums are shared by Jim Keltner and Pete Thomas.  The songs are better than Mirror Blue, the failed love songs No's Not A Word and Am I Wasting My Love On You in typical droll Thompson humor.  For mad guitar workout there's Put It There Pal. The nude disc, is Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson on bass and sets the mood a bit more darker than the electric disc.  But I come to enjoy seeing Thompson play acoustic in a live setting than studio.  Unless I'm driving home on a solitary highway then the songs come in handy.  Yes, even in a 2 CD settling, this album bombed and Capitol wrote it off as a tax loss, but would let Thompson record one more album Mock Tudor with Dave Mattacks on drums and a different producer before writing that one off as another loss and concluding the Capitol years with a mix tape best of.  You? Me? Us? in Richard Thompson fashion is what I expect from the man, but alas, Mitchell Froom's production renders this album just about useless.  But it does have moments.
Grade B

Paul Revere And The Raiders-Complete Columbia Singles (Friday reissue)

Everything they cooked up and released on Columbia 45s are here for better or worse. The reactions can go from amazing to generous to bloated but it captures the band in full party time groove on the mojo workouts of Louie Louie up to Oo Poo Pa Doo which is probably the most Paul Revere led sound before Terry Melcher and Mark Linsday took over and set their sights on the pop charts.  And they held their own to anybody in terms of pop garage rock of Hungry, Kicks, Good Thing, Him Or Me.  Once Melcher left, Lindsay was left with his own devices and once in a while he'll come up with a zinger (Don't Take It So Hard) but he was moving the Raider toward bubblegum. Some of it sucked (Just Seventeen) and the teenyboppers just about gave up on them when Lindsay went with his pop move and went solo for a couple decent songs (Arizona, Silverbird) but the world really didn't need a teen version of John Davidson. So basically The Raiders regrouped and got a number 1 hit with Cherokee Nation in 1971 but in reality, the albums and singles showcased a gradual easing away from bubblegum to contemporary pop with mixed results but the band that gave us Country Wine, or Birds Of A Feather was no longer the garage rocking band of Kicks, but after Love Music barely got in the top 100, none of the following singles made much of an impact right up to their forgettable 1975 flop of Your Love Is The Only Love (an bad disco attempt) and the inept b side of The Easybeats Gonna Have A Good Time, which didn't impress Paul Revere enough to issue it on the 1990 2 CD The Legend Of Paul Revere.  Originally on Collector's Choice now issued for a limited time by Friday Music, you can purchase without taking out a second mortgage on your home, the rise and fall of Paul Revere And The Raiders.  Take note however, that the B sides to the hits were not throwaways, some were very good (The Legend Of Paul Revere, Do Unto Others, Frankfort Side Street and the eerie Upon Your Leaving) and showed more of a country folk style that Lindsay should have followed or let Keith Allison or Freddie Weller, the latter a country star in his own right, sing and write more often.  Or at least get Paul Revere himself to come up with a couple of ditties of his own (he was more interested in the live shows than in the studio).  For the complete audiophile that has to have all, The Complete Columbia Singles Collection will make a nice conversation piece but for the more passive listener, they're better off with the 2 CD Essential Paul Revere And The Raiders or the first Greatest Hits, which shows what The Raiders were best at.  Good old fashioned garage rock.  The Complete Singles, shows The Raiders doing just about everything Mark Lindsay throws at them and you can follow the decline to disc 3.  Which isn't bad when it succeeds, but when it doesn't, it's just as embarrassing as anything subpar The Monkees ever did.  In other words this collection is much as Lindsay as it was Paul Revere.  In for a time, it did work.
Grade B+

Record Porn:

Sweetwater  Why Oh Why (Reprise 816) (uncharted 1969)
A band that made it to Woodstock and made a few albums for Reprise but their first album remains their sole best.  Patrick Miller owns this rare stock copy, which looked like it came from the 4 for a dollar bins at Woolworth's years ago.   Or somebody was practicing how to use a drill. Has this hippie vibe that was the sound of the times.  I dig it myself.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Singles Going Steady 21-Even More Davenport Finds

On May 4, 2011 I started what would be the first of many Singles Going Steady blogs dedicated to the 45 and things that were found recently, or seen on EBAY or had stashed away in my collection.  And almost four years and 20 plus blogs (I'm sure there's more out there that didn't fall under S.G.S.) I have continued to defy the odds and find some oddball forty fives and this blog is no exception.  It's funny how after dropping another 40 dollars at Ragged Records that Bob Herrington informed me that he had an upstairs full of unsorted 45s with my name calling me, this of course after saying they were closing for the evening at five o clock.  I suppose this means I should consider getting there before 4 PM to which half crocked on BP meds and being in a cloud all day sorting for that GD I Do single by THE MARVELOWS.  I couldn't figure out their name while going through the N boxes at Ragged and getting them confused with The Royaltones who didn't do a version of I DO  (ref: http://www.45cat.com/record/4510629 )  That's the problem of getting older, I tend to forget certain bands before driving to Davenport and not jotting them down.

Nevertheless it was a fine day to go bargain hunting, despite snow on the ground, the temps did hit 48 degrees and maybe more.  The traffic sucked as with any Saturday Afternoon and of course I hit every GD long red lights at every intersection.  But in the era of the Vinyl Revival, the CD has been rendered useless and Stuff Etc, in Davenport sold their lot of CDs for 99 cents.  Which meant I found the two CD Richard Thompson You? Me? Us? for a buck as well as South of !-10 by Sonny Landreth and a Ajeandro Escovedo 2 CD 13 Years too.  3 bucks for 5 CDs?  Bargains can be found.  The Salvation Army Bargain Hunters Haven had plenty of 45s but a lot of them were overplayed jukebox records of country artists and some rock bands although So Alive by Love And Rockets was played to bits.  Still with a box of sleeveless scratched up forty fives, I took to the task of finding some that didn't look like they were used for frisbees or looked like they were ran over a few times on Highway 61.  A half year back, I did invade the same place and walked out with discovered gold (ref: http://www.rscrabb.blogspot.com/2014/08/singles-going-steady-18-davenport-finds.html ).  And continued to think I would get lucky once again but subsequent returns showed that the August finds were a fluke, or maybe I beat the hardcore collectors for a change.  It's nothing to write home about if the only thing you found worth mentioning was Pat Boone's Good Rockin Tonight.

The difference of finding 45s at say, Ragged Records or Co Op Records to Salvation Army is that the record stores have owners who know their records and priced them accordingly. Something to the effort of what Rich Rosen does at Wax Trax, he knows the artists, he knows the songs and he knows the label, therefore he can dictate a fair price that to which the buyer decides if he wants to pay 10 dollars for Rocky Top by Dillard And Clark  or let go a cheaper price for a country or pop artists. Which is probably why I got It's My Time by George Hamilton IV for a dollar.  Supply and demand and the idea of owning a scratchy forty five.  Plus I'm always on the lookout for 45s that my mom had in her collection years ago and me trying to score a better copy or replace a copy that got broken years ago or donated away.  If I would have kept all my forty fives in good shape, I could open up my own record store and live off the proceeds for a while. I'm not sure if Bob Herrington is that interested to see what I buy half the time, he's trying to stay in business as well and with the vinyl revival happening, he's doing a lot better than years past.  For how long nobody knows, just as long as people continue to shop.

For myself, I am never satisfied with just one type of music, I grew up in a era of lots of music and promo 45s and was spoiled beyond belief in the records that came in my procession in my child hood years. 51 years of sorting through boxes upon boxes of 45s, or stacks of them is something that I never ever got tired of.  The more obscure the artist, the better.  With the help of the internet or 45 Cat, it's easy to solve the mystery of the 45 rather than read countless record collecting magazines and getting nowhere.  So in seconds I actually found out who Crip Guerney really was when he made a one off single for Hi Records Messing With The Man  (Hi 2163), he was actually Rick Yancey who later became involved in some country bands (namely The Remingtons).  Or the 1964 Warner Brothers recording of The Demonstrators Sweet Violets (WB 5428) was actually one of the earliest productions of one Sylvester Stewart aka Sly Stone.  To which on Ultra Violet is Sly Stone wailing away on organ.  Since I have little use of new music anymore, I have to turn my attention to the lesser known or what is out there on 45s.  And even 51 years into collecting, I still come to find out that there's much much more that I have yet to discover.  And as long as they make needles and turntables, I'll still be out there discovering what is missing.  Which is the intention of Singles Going Steady, a play of words of 45s but also a wink at The Buzzcocks' 1979 IRS compilation of A and B sides of their singles.  Unless, you Dear Reader came upon this thinking this was the site where single people hook up; I don't need to remind you, you're at the wrong place.  Unless you're a single female with a huge record collection looking for companionship, but I'm not holding my breath on ever finding any woman with a remote collection such as yours' truly.

Like the others, the finds this week I managed to find some highly sought after stuff as well as the unusual and the laughable.  I did pass on So Alone and of course Bad Medicine by Bon Jovi.  A trashed jukebox 45 is no different than a Dave Clark 5 45 with the grooves worn off from overplaying.  I cannot blame the owner of their 45s, I played mine to death as well.  I just learn to take better care of them after I turned 13.  Or so I think.

1.  It Takes Minutes-Alan Rush And The Stonehouse (Mega 615-0002)  1970  Somebody actually put some thought into the 45 picture sleeve, probably getting in tune with the peace and love hippie dippy that started with Haight/Ashbury get together movement and ended with Altamont.  That didn't last too long.  Not much is known about Alan Rush or The Stonehouse outside they recorded this forgotten pop bubblegum type of number for the upstart Mega label in Nashville..  Further diggings found a promo ad calling this song "bubble gum at its commercial best in the now sound of Oklahoma City's top group.  Billboard gave it a thumbs up and called the song "catchy with a chance to make it big".  Alas, the rest of the world was uninterested since this song didn't chart at all.  Mega Records would struggle on after Alan and Stonehouse went back to Oklahoma City, although their best known artist Sammi Smith gave us Help Me Make Through The Night and Apollo 100 that had a freak hit with Joy.  http://www.45cat.com/record/6150002

2.  Boogie Bear-Boyd Bennett (Mercury 71479)  1959  Another missing piece of my mom's record collection found at Ragged Records.  It reached number 79 on the charts although locally it was higher.  Bennett, a rockabilly country star of his own had some luck recording Bill Haley/Comets inspired rock for King in the mid 50s.  This two minute novelty of Yogi Bear is more a curio and period piece rather than a classic rock track. If you care, Boyd does do a fairly decent Yogi vocal. A very silly number.  Right Boo Boo? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7xqNHxcKyQ

3.  Blue Moon-The Sh-Booms (Atlantic 2074)  Recorded May 26, 1960, released Aug 1960 A very late entry to the fading doo wop craze, Blue Moon didn't chart but it is interesting how this song's arrangement mirrors that to The Chords original version of Sh Boom more than The Crew Cuts.  Further research reveals that The Chords actually did become The Sh-Booms and this was their return to  Atlantic.  In fact Carl Feaster also sang on the 1954 version of Sh Boom.  Blue Moon didn't chart and The Sh-Booms said goodbye to Atlantic one last time.  Side note:  Sh Boom, the 1954 hit was reissued on Atco 6213 in late 1961.  Ref: http://www.uncamarvy.com/Chords/chords.html

4.  After The Lights Go Down Low-Al Hibbler  (Decca 9-29982)  1956  It's hard to categorize Hibbler, is he a jazz singer, a blues singer or straight pop singer, the questions have never been answered.  Best way to describe him as in the same league as Billy Eckstein or even Ray Charles to which like Ray, Al was blind. But he was a radical that got him in trouble and the major labels wanted nothing to do with him after being arrested in 59 till Frank Sinatra signed him to Reprise.  Originally a vocalist for Duke Ellington for many years, Al struck out on his own and perhaps his classic years was with Decca where he had a big hit with Unchained Melody (#3) and He (#4) both in 1955.  After The Lights Go Down Low was his last top ten charting, reaching number 10 in 1956.

5.  It's My Time-George Hamilton IV (RCA 47-9519)  1968  Once upon a time, George was marketed as a teen idol singer for ABC Paramount but in his heart he more of a folk country singer, to which he would explore at arm's length at RCA for a decade and a half.  George had a bit of rebel in him, for he recorded songs from the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen even before rock contemporaries started doing that.  His classic years he had production and songwriting help from John Loudermilk, which he scored a top six  hit with Break My Mind.  It's My Time has the same type of music like Break My Mind although the song is more darker and simpler.  Which may have put off the country music buyers, it only reached number 50 in 1968 but to me it has been one of those songs I can identify with. B side was Canadian Railroad Trilogy all 4:55 minutes of it, written by Gordon Lightfoot.

6.  Powerful Stuff-The Fabulous Thunderbirds (Elektra 7-69384)  1988  From the Cocktail soundtrack this surprises me that it only reached up to number 65 on the charts.  I thought radio played it a lot more than the poor showing on the chart but it would turned out to be the last chart showing from this band which featured Jimmie Vaughn on guitar.  Kim Wilson has continued to keep the Fab Birds going, including Duke Robillard for a year but the band with Vaughn and Fran Christna on drums remains the classic version of the band.

7.  Love Song-Lesley Duncan (Columbia 4-45354)  1971  Elton John covered this on Tumbleweed Connection and Here And There and like Lesley's version didn't chart (or maybe was an album track).  Fine arrangement is done by Richard Hewson who worked with The Beatles and Cliff Richard to name a few.

8.  Love Me-The Rascals (Columbia 4-45400)  1971  After years on being on Atlantic, The Rascals packed up and moved to CBS for two albums of varying degree and the only charted single was this number 95 offering in the summer of 71.  Our local radio station never played it and only ones that I heard this song from was either Peoria's WIRL or Chicago's WLS.  Perhaps the gospel type of feeling that Felix Cavarlaire wrote and sang about Jesus Son Of Man may have destined this song to the gospel stations around the area but I know I never heard this song locally.   Took years to find a decent 45 of this song.

9.  You Better Go-Raul Danks & Jon Taylor (LHI 17002)  1967  The term impossibility hard to find gets cropped up when you check Ebay or Collector's Frenzy.  But name association does spike the price up from time to time.  This single came from Lee Hazlewood's LHI imprint that he had going up in the late 60s, Light In The Attic actually put out a good chuck (although not all of the LHI singles made it to the boxset) of them a couple years ago.  You Better Go does have the Lee Hazlewood arrangements that are synonymous with Nancy Sinatra's  classic stuff.  But as a mystery duo Raul Danks and Jon Taylor is just that.  A mystery.  Like all of the LHI artists, this single didn't chart.

10.  Time Has Come Today (4:45  version)-The Chamber Brothers (Columbia 4-44414)  1968  There are three version of this song, one is the much rarer 1966 version that didn't chart and is much more rougher in quality and in sound.  The second version I somehow managed to find for 29 cents and much to my disappointment was the 3:05 edit that fades before the long jam part.  The third version is the four and half minute edit that radio did play in the late 60s and early 70s. Despite the scratchy record, I do noticed that the overlapping cowbell leading into the final verse is that the sound is a bit more muddy.  Later on when I got the Greatest Hits, Columbia ended up putting the whole 11 minute thing on which for the first time I heard the whole thing. And there are a few more edited versions out there, the quick ending that you hear on Little Steven's Underground Garage which makes you want to punch the person responsible in the nuts for that.  The old purists like myself much prefer the version I grew up listening to the radio with.  I suppose in the end, that this 45 was the find of the Davenport hunts, despite it being fairly scratched up, but not totality trashed like other versions that I have seen at various thrift stores.

I suppose when baseball season starts up again, I'll return back to Davenport and take up on Bob's suggestion of looking upstairs in the unsorted 45s to see what I can find.  Thanks to what he had downstairs, I managed to make a do and found some interesting things as well.  Thanks also to Co Op Records as well.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Black History Month: Howlin Wolf

Ah Chess Records.   The best blues label ever, with the best music coming from Chess in the late 50s and early 60s.  Often imitated but never duplicated.  Chicago blues had a mystic all their own. Of course Leonard and Phil Chess never paid their artists very well but you can't deny they had a roster all their own.  For rock and roll there was Chuck Berry destined to outlive us all and the late great Bo Diddley, along with Elmore James who recorded very briefly with Chess the founders of heavy metal.  But the blues roster was special; Muddy Waters, Little Walter Jacobs, Sonny Boy Williamson number 2, Lowell Fulson and John Lee Hooker. The Dells were still on neighbor label Vee Jay doing doo wop before moving to Chess/Cadet for some classic soul sides.  Etta James, the diva soul siren and the gritty Koko Taylor pure soul blues.  Most of the classic blues songs were written by Willie Dixon, who played acoustic bass and added backing vocal from time to time.  He may have been the least of the vocalists out there but he more than made it up with his hits like Back Door Man, Spoonful, You Shook Me and many many more.  Without his songs there wouldn't be a Cream or a Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones.

For the beloved Muddy Waters or Sonny Boy Williamson 2 (who kinda disappointed the british bands that idolized him.  Little Walter suffered from a bad liver and an bad attitude which got him into fights more often than not.  But for me my favorite bluesman was Chester Burnett aka The Howlin' Wolf, the legendary blues artist that originally recorded for Sam Phillips back in the early 50s before Chess picked up his contract and moved him up to the Windy City.  He was a towering figure, he could play the harmonica (Rice Miller aka Sonny Boy 2 teached him the harmonica from what I have read) and could play the guitar as well. His live performances were the stuff of legend, pounding on tables and imposing his 6 and half foot figure upon the world, delivering the songs in a growling bellow.  Wolf's Memphis sessions have been reissued and released on Flair/Virgin and Rounder.  With Willie Johnson playing mean and amplified guitar they are one of the true roots of the development of rock music. A couple of decent overviews can be found, Howlin Wolf Rides Again  I gather showcases the best of the Sun years (although you get three different mixes of Riding In The Moonlight which don't vary that much.  And Cadillac Daddy: Memphis Recordings 1952 (Rounder 1989)  with Willie Johnson on guitar and Willie Steele on drums, very primitive sounding but this lineup would also record Moanin At Midnight, which would surface on Howlin's first Chess album Moaning In The Moonlight which was actually a collection of Chess singles that came out in the 50s.

Moanin In The Moonlight is basically Howlin Wolf's Greatest Hits with the likes of future Viagra commercial spot Smokestack Lightning which The Yardbirds turned into a full blown Eric Clapton guitar showcase on their Five Live Yardbirds album years later.  I'm sure if Chester was still alive he would have object to a ED drug empire using his song but anyway, the early Chess sessions still feature Willie Johnson on guitar but later on the late great Hubert Sumlin would be the main guitarist adding counterpoint to Burnett's howl and growl. The Chess band that was used featured Otis Spann or Hosea Lee Kennard on piano, Willie Dixon played bass and the underrated Earl Phillips played drums, Phillips also figured on a lot of sessions from Vee Jay records and most notably Jimmy Reed. Outside of the Dixon penned Evil, the rest of the songs were written by Chester Burnett, and they showed a very dark side of things, even the recordings seem to ominous, the dark echo of I asked for water she gave me gasoline, to which Phillips drumming seem to invoke of a funeral procession.  Or Otis Spann, repetitive piano and the stop start beat to No Place To Go. Or the desperation of Somebody In My Home.  This is definite blues at it's best and most desperate too.

The other important album that Burnett did was 1962's S/T or Rocking Chair album.  With most of the recording from a May 1961 session featuring Sumlin on guitar, Sammy Lay on Drums, Dixon providing string bottom, and Johnny Jones on keyboard, the majority of songs are penned by Dixon but it has a feel like being in a sweaty crowded Chicago blues bar in summer.  A couple songs do date back to the 50s and features Willie Johnson and Earl Phillips (Who's Been Talking) but the songs included would be staples for the Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds as well, Shake For Me, The Red Rooster, You'll Be Mine, Wang Dang Doodle, Spoonful, Back Door Man, Howlin' For My Baby.  The songs that would later captured the likes of John Hammond Jr to become a perfect Wolf tribute artist on his albums. And of course George Thorogood as well. In a nutshell, without these two albums, Moanin In The Moonlight and the Rockin Chair album  there would not be rock and roll.

Howlin Wolf actually recorded as a singles artist,  and the Chess Compilations like The Real Folk Blues, More Real Folk Blues and Change My Ways continue to hold up much better than the actual albums that he did do in the late 60s and early 70s.  The Real Folk Blues has Killing Floor (later the basis of Led Zeppelin's Lemon Song) Built For Comfort (Later done by UFO), Sitting On Top Of The World (later done by The Grateful Dead and Cream).  More Real Folk Blues unearths more of Wolf's 50s recordings, lesser known but anything featuring Mr Sumlin on guitar and Earl Phillips on drums is worth hearing, including You're Gonna Wreck My Life (originally No Place To Go and probably the same version and not a alternative take) and going back to a 1953 session which the guess might be Willie Johnson playing guitar on Just My Kind.  Change My Ways contains Do The Do and Hidden Charms as the highlights.  Ain't Gonna Be Your Dog, cleans out the vaults for vintage Wolf tracks from various years up to a 1968 solo acoustic recording of the title track and Ain't Going Down That Dirt Road.  However that 2 CD set has been out of print for a while and will cost a few bucks should you find it.  It's for fans only but again this overview does work better than the albums that Chess put out at the late 60s.

Of course trying to keep up to date with the trends Marshall Chess thought it would be a great idea to saddle classic Howling Wolf tracks with cheeseball hippie dippy psychedelia which became the infamous This Is The New Howling Wolf Album-He Doesn't Like It.  And with good reason.  It's unthinkable to give one of the most original voices in music history to torrid bad guitar work and gobs of reverb to make it sound like shit.  A Cadet Concept single of Evil is all you need to hear about why Wolf hated this album.  He didn't care much for Message To The Young either, pairing him up to the soul music crowd, with drab results. And Live And Cookin  was recording Howlin' Wolf on a off night and it pales to his legendary live performances when he was much younger and too band none exists. In the 2000's the obsolete BMG label put together a collection of live performances on their short lived When The Sun Goes Down Series and put it out on DVD. Somewhere in the collection is Wolf performing songs with a young Rolling Stones band watching him in awe. Worth searching for at the local DVD or music store.

While Chess screwed up on the This Is Howlin' Wolf's New Album He Doesn't Like It, their next bright idea was to get some of Britain's best players to do  what is called The London Sessions and of course they vary; The Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry London Sessions are a farce, and the Muddy Waters one was good although they played it way too safe, the best of the bunch was on Howlin' Wolf Sessions with a all star lineup of Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts being the rhythm section and some help from Herbert Sumlin and Lafayette Leake from the home town.  It also helps to know that Ian Stewart the keyboardist that is the silent Rolling Stone and Ringo Starr also appear on some tracks and despite Wolf's voice being somewhat tired and a bit more laid back, The London Sessions is a fun listen. Eric Clapton gets raked over the coals all the time but any session he has done with his blues idols be it B B King or Freddie King or Junior Wells/Buddy Guy and Wolf, he always played it true to form and he takes to the hills with Do The Do.  And anytime you get the Rolling Stones Rhythm Section holding the beat down on What A Woman! aka Commit A Crime, it shows the true meaning of Father leading his Sons down the blues road.  Muddy Waters must have been jealous.

Wolf was in poor health up to his passing in 1976 but before he did, he returned to Chess one more time for one more album, The Back Door Wolf.  By then most of his contemporaries  have either passed on or retire.  Still working with Herbert Sumlin and SP Leary on drums, the new blood featured Eddie Shaw who wrote the majority of songs, Andrew McMahon playing bass and Emery 'Detroit Jr' Williams playing piano and harpsichord (!).  The harpsichord a dated and dumb idea probably suggested by Ralph Bass who produced, but when Williams played electric or straight piano the songs were a bit more believable. The album most famous for Coon On The Moon which Wolf sang would happen some day.  Wolf's vocals which he kinda laid back on the London Sessions returns with full bellow on Speak Now Woman or Trying To Forget You.  The Back Door Wolf, may paled in comparison to the Rocking Chair album but for a final victory lap in the blues rock field, Chester Burnett did managed to end his recording career in style.  Cancer finally claimed him on January 10, 1976.
Out of all the bluesmen who recorded for Chess, Burnett was the most successful one financially.  He didn't gamble or drink away his money and for the most part lived a modest life.  His vocal style is influenced by the Charlie Patton who taught him how to play guitar and sing. And he found a perfect bandmate in Hubert Sumlin who was a big part of Wolf's music till the end.  In 1980 Burnett was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame and in 1991 The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. 

Suggested albums.

Cadillac Daddy-The Memphis Recordings (Rounder 1989)
Moanin' In The Moonlight/Howlin' Wolf (MCA reissue of Wolf's classic Chess Albums on CD 1986)
Howlin Wolf Rides Again (Flair/Virgin 1992)
The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues (Chess 2 on 1 CD 1996)
Change My Way (Chess 1991 reissue of his 1971 comp)
The Very Best Of Howlin' Wolf (Moanin'/Howlin Wolf is his best of but if you want a good overview start here)
Chicago Blue (Tomato's shoddy remastering of Chess songs but it has Commit A Crime)
Ain't Gonna Be Your Dog (scrapings of the barrel of Wolf's output but still a fine collection)
The London Sessions (where Wolf teaches his Kids how to play the blues)
The Back Door Wolf (His last recordings and shows him in fine form)
I'm The Wolf (A french import that is Back Door Wolf with a different song sequence and five bonus tracks from various singles-I bought this years ago at a Tower Records store and haven't seen a copy since then)

Not recommended and I suggest looking on You Tube before buying any of the albums, are Message To The Young and This Is Howlin' Wolf's New Album He Doesn't Like It. And you can hear a disgruntled Wolf trying to keep it together through shitty arrangements and out of whack musicians.  Live And Cookin at Alice's Revisited is worth a listen to a later day Wolf live performance.  Even on a off night Wolf can still put together a good show.