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.

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:

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.

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.

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