Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Week In Review-Willie 82, Ben E King

The big news is that Ann Wilson of Heart married Dean Wetter. Her first marriage ever.

Of course the rest of the world burns or gets shaken up.  Nepal had a big earthquake that killed thousands and even caused a big snowsquake on Mount Everett that buried and killed at least 17 folks. In Baltimore,  Freddie Gray dies in custody of police and it was burning and looting all night up there.  Perhaps the best known event was some irate mother smacking the black out of her dumbass son for looting.  Too bad they didn't have a few more mothers that do that.  Just like Ferguson, a career criminal gets killed and the thugs burn loot and shoot up things.  Certainly in life a lot of innocent black folks got killed and nobody revolted over that. Emmit Till whistled at a white woman according to legend and he got lynched and hung, nobody revolted over that.  It seems to me in a age which the one percent is so inclined to shove the TPP down our throats, slashing and taking away more jobs overseas that the quality of life has gotten to the point of being a pipedream.  It is much worse to blacks who tend to get passed over even on the crap jobs that nobody wants. To make martyrs out of  Freddie Gray who had a long and lengthy record in and out of jail just doesn't add up.  It's different when a black person tries to better himself and gets the usual treatment and bigotry that has been the American way for many years, a Jackie Robinson trying to make it in baseball, a Ernie Davis playing against Texas rednecks in football. Or a Sidney Potiter  making it in movies. Greatness knows no color.   The frustration of no jobs and leaning into a life of crime and trying to play the thug life as glorified in some rap songs have made some of them thinking they're entitled to their slice of the pie. And to hell with the innocent.  Like Ferguson, Baltimore had some of the innocent working people's place of employment burned down or looted by some crazed blackperson just for his own gratitude. Which in the long run, doesn't make anybody feel sorry for him but rather the opposite.  And sad to say this will continue till the day we pass on and hope that the next world is more peaceful and not hateful. Update is that the 6 Policemen who had Gray in their custody will face charges from their actions to one of them getting a second degree murder charge.  Certainly Freddie Gray was no angel but he did not need to die under these cops who were supposed to protect and serve the common folk.

Somewhat on a related subject, going home, took the short cut back to highway 13, and came across to the Stop sign, didn't see nobody coming, kept going thing I know I saw headlights come up down the road and you can guess the rest.  Fucking people can drive 80 in a 55 MPH zone, other's can do a Cal Stop, but when I think I can do that, I get pulled over.  Goodbye 200 dollars, the price I pay for California Stops. The story of my life, even told the deputy you got me.  Doesn't pay to be honest in this life.  I'd make a poor Republican.

It's been a strange year, seeing Barry Manilow getting married to a guy and now Bruce Jenner coming out to say he's a woman in a man's body.  And if it makes Bruce feels good about himself coming out why should I care about that.  Life goes on anyway.  Hell back in those days of his Olympic gold years, he did look pretty stunning for a guy, and he got the women too, Linda Thompson before she had a few facelifts. The Kadashian mess I don't care but Bruce had nice taste in women and his kids came out decent looking too.  In reality, Bruce Jenner isn't a part of my life, he doesn't figure in the paychecks and the monthly bills.  I'm not the one to judge.

Which leaves us in the musical side of things and it was 30 years ago that the Jesus And Mary Chain came out of nowhere to start the shoegazer movement and plenty of feedback with Psychocandy, the 1985 freak beat classic album.  And who would thought that the Reid brothers would still be around.  I used to have their CDs till last year's flood in the basement and I lost all of them when they fell into the water.  If I had to buy them again, I'd go for Darklands, their moody 1987 followup.Or Stoned And Dethroned their 1994 Def American flop. But Psycho-candy is classic, if nothing for Bobby Gillespie playing drums on that album, he was the secret weapon and would later leave to do his own Shoegazer band in Primal Scream.

If you been following my blogs you'll notice that this month and year you may have noticed the lack of weather reports here.  We're in the rainy season but March was a dry month and April even more drier.  Outside of one Sunday and Monday rainstorm that gave us a inch and a third of rain, it has been sunny and fairly mild.  The way that I like it.  The bargain hunts have been few, my place of employment we are in our peak season and I've been working the OT in order to get some money saved for the summer bargain hunt whereever that might be at.  The bargain hunts this year are more off than on and with hipsters buying anything that looks like vinyl, this hunter has to be very crafty in terms of going places.  Madison didn't offer much and while Record Store Day had good returns, nothing historical was found.  May doesn't look that promising either.  The only certain thing would be a return to Waterloo to see what the Goodwill at Crossroads Mall would look like but history has shown that Waterloo has been disappointing in anything found.  Everything is picked clean unless some hoarder misses something of value and I find it.  So I might just say hell with it and stay local till the big summer bargain hunt. Whereever that may be at.

Grooveshark is no more.  The Major Labels shut it down after copyright infringement and must pay 75 million dollars to the Big 3 label and surrender all content.  Then again you streaming fans can go over to Spotify for your streaming fix.  I myself still enjoy the actual product despite Bob Lefsetz telling us all, it's bad that you do.  I'm not playing for space Bob, I want something in hand.  Get it? 

Jack Ely, you don't the name but you would recognize his distinctive vocal on Louie Louie by The Kingsmen.  He died at age 71 from a unknown illness.  In his words, Louie Louie was a jam but he decided to sing the vocals and they had one microphone above them so therefore he shouted out the words, basically making them up as he went.  Nobody quite knew what the words were or if they were X rated.  The FBI even did a big 400 plus page report but ended up being much ado about nothing.  Ely had a falling out with the band and left.  He later had a single called Louie Go Home on Bang but it didn't chart.  One of the members of that band Charlie Coe would join Paul Revere And The Raiders.

And if you read this far.  Happy Birthday to the one and only Willie Nelson.

This week's reviews:

Eric Clapton-Forever Man (Reprise 2015)

Horse hockey.  Clapton recorded for Warners from 1983 to 2010's underrated Clapton album and throughout it all even his best albums were full of filler.  Again key songs are left off (She's Waiting, See What Love Can Do), we get a bonus disc of Clapton's blues and the other two CD a mix disc of the usual. A couple of songs from the Cream reunion, a couple from Steve Winwood and the pick hits from Unplugged and Tears In Heaven.  I tend to think Money And Cigarettes was his best for the WB Reprise, and the J J Cale 2006 collaboration second best.  But basically this is nothing more than a cashgrab from a label that pretty much told Clapton to get lost after 2010.  Clapton's Chronicles is still available and much cheaper should you decide to venture onward.
Grade C+

Jim Reeves-It's Nothing To Me (RCA 1977)

Funny thing about major labels is back when RCA was the talk of the town that they continued to keep the memory of Reeves alive years after he passed away from ill fated plane crash.  And RCA had plenty of songs to fall back upon but by the late 70s, they pretty much used everything up and regulated to putting cheesy updated rock guitar solos.  Case in point, the title track that used to be on Tall Tales And Short Tempers (I always get the GD title messed up time and time again).  Even in LP standards, this doesn't even go past 20 minute EP standards barely, but It's Nothing To Me got Country airplay, even a bit on rock radio hard to believe.  The original version without heavy metal guitar is the better version but I had the 45 years ago and gave it to my dad who promptly wore the grooves off and used it for a ashtray.  Highlights include Trying to Forget, the whole minute forty three of it and side 2 four of the five songs were written by Jim himself.  The nadir, most songs on side 2 are overdone by the Anita Kerr Singers or The Nashville Edition. In other words a cash grab on the memory of Gentleman Jim.
Grade B-

Tim Buckley-Goodbye And Hello (Elektra 1967)

Even in the vinyl revival I still tend to find albums of note.  It's not that I have high standards or being a hoarder but I think the powers to be decided that I should review more Tim Buckley.  Last month I found his first album and liked it fine enough to put in a order for Goodbye And Hello and guess what I found at Half Priced Books recently?  Buckley starts out in the folk rock mode and then two songs into things, ditches the drums for congas and the oddball I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain shows his avant garde roots that he would use more and more on later albums.  The Title track is medieval and wouldn't sound out of place on a Blackmore's Night album   And it goes on for 8 and a half minutes.  Which critics and fans rave about the later albums, I tend to favor Tim's folk rock on the first and the hippie dippy rock moves on this album.  In a perfect world, Buckley would be better remembered, although his later failed experiments such as Star Sailor or the porn funk of Greetings From LA have to be heard once to be believed.  In Tim's case his most accessible albums were the first two and anything after that would be for cult fans only. Given that, he was an original and the only person that could match him in this talent was his son Jeff, who would make a cult classic album in Grace and then fall from grace.  The apple didn't fall far from the tree.
Grade B+ 

Albums of my Youth: Nazareth-Hair Of The Dog (A&M 1975)

Do you believe it was forty years ago that this album was released?!  The Naz has always been a cult band at best  and started out on Warner Brothers before switching over to A&M around 1973.  Don McCaffery's vocals like Geddy Lee's is hard on the ears.  My favorite album remains Loud N Proud, with a metallic remake of Joni Mitchell's This Flight Tonight and an overblown Ballad Of Hollis Brown but side 1 showed a pop metal sound with Not Faking It, Turn On Your Receiver and a cover of Little Feat's Teenage Nervous Breakdown.  Somehow Hair Of The Dog, had enough heavy metal charm to make it their biggest selling album although the title track would have made a nifty hit single, it was the B side to Love Hurts, the Everly Brothers remake now being played to death on Classic rock radio. I suppose the AM side would have never consider the line Now you're missing with a...(son a bitch) NOW YOUR MESSING WITH A SONOFABITCH! but once found the b side, got played a lot at Ole's Ham N Egger or Stickney's Scoreboard.  But then again I wasn't that enthused about Love Hurts and rather play the power riffing Miss Misery or Changing Times, based on the stop start riff of Led Zeppelin's Black Dog and the coda taking a page from Black Sabbath's Under Wheels Of Confusion's ending.  Side 2, showcased a cover of Nils Lofgren's Beggar's Day and it really pales in comparison to the Crazy Horse version.   Whiskey Drinking Woman reminds me somewhat of Honky Tonk Woman although more bloozy than country.  Final track Please Don't Judas Me is a bit of Moody Blues prog pop but it's 9 minutes timing plods along, just like Hollis Brown plodded along on Loud N Proud.  I don't recall playing Please Don't Judas Me all that much, most of side 1 got the record play here although in later years I skipped over Love Hurts.   The power and strength of Love Hurts I think was the reason the album succeed the way it did but it didn't win over critics and record buyers since then never gave much consideration on later effort such as Close Enough For Rock And Roll, which revealed that Nazareth wasn't a heavy metal band but rather a competent rock band.  Hot Tracks stole enough tracks from previous albums to make a decent best of although I enjoy the 1987 Classics comp more so.  Over time, Hair Of The Dog took a back seat to Loud n Proud and 1982's 2XS and I still like those albums more than I do Hair Of The Dog and Malice In Wonderland, their 1980 album, showed them more into MOR rock than metal despite new guitarist Zal Clemenson, formerly of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band presence. Perhaps new producer Jeff Baxter had something to do with the new direction which gave us Holiday,   Clemsenson only lasted two albums and Billy Rankin took his spot with the late Spirit keyboardist John Locke helping out.  Perhaps the unsung hero of Hair Of The Dog was Manny Charlton who produced and played guitar.  The riffs of Hair, Miss Misery and Changing Times showed he could hold his own.  40 years later, like Foghat or BTO, Nazareth was the sound of the times for stoner heads and even though they get laughed at by the newbies, this type of rock and roll got us through the doldrums. Listening to it nowadays, you probably don't hear the reason why this was in everybody's record collection.  But for some love struck heartbroken fool, Love Hurts was that perfect song for the kid that never got asked out to prom back then.  And the B side ready to put that girl back in her place after she stood him up.  A perfect one two punch  in a flawed classic rock album that was released 40 years ago.
Grade B+

Late to press. Last year I had the worst readership, but this April turned out to be the best views since December of 2013 with 3,464 views.  Thank You Russia, and the rest of the faithful.

The MDA Labor Day Telethon is now history.  They have decided to retire the show which was a fixture on Labor Day Weekend.  It hasn't been the same since Jerry Lewis was let go in 2010 and I hardly paid much attention or hardly noticed it in a truncated form.  But Jerry Lewis poured his heart and soul into the show back in when it started, smoking lots of cigarettes and drinking mucho coffee in the early years.  Took him years to finish You'll Never Walk Alone without falling apart but I do recall one show that he finally reunited with Dean Martin via Frank Sinatra in the early 80s.  Cary J Hahn was the local host who stayed up all nite as people came to Broadcast Park to fill up the fishbowl.  It was a big deal growing up but like everything else things change and people die or move on to other things. The MDA will continue in the digital world but it's not the same.

Darius Rucker has a new Bro Country album out but that didn't stop him from getting back to his own band Hootie And The Blowfish to do Hold My Hand on the retiring David Letterman's show last night.  There was talk of them doing Wagon Wheel but that got nixed.  Internet rumors, don't believe in  all that you read. ;) 

Death never takes a day off, people come and die and May 1st started out with the music world losing the soulful voice of Ben E King, he of Stand By Me fame of natural causes; he was 76.  The familiar intro of Stand By Me, one of the best bass riffs recorded ever is considered to be one of two songs King was famous for, the second Spanish Harlem is the greatest Phil Spector song ever made according to Nutso Phil. To me, the best Ben E King song was 1964's Let The Water Run Down based on the Bo Diddley riff and sounds a bit more country than soul, perhaps the best Bert Berns produced song ever.  In my childhood years one of his singles I (Who Have Nothing) was one of the first batches of 45s that I ever heard and still stands out in my mind.  There were a couple more singles that I came across in my lifetime, Katherine was one of them, a 9 cent special and produced by the mysterious Bob Gallo.  Some minor hits continued, What Is Soul one of them but the next time King made anything close to a hit was Supernatural Thing.  He later worked with Average White Band on a album that got good reviews but no sales.  Atlantic, in their usual neglect of the soul catalog, gave us a less than average best of called Stand By Me, but anything that lacks Let The Water Run Down or It's All Over on any best ofs is not technically  a best of.  Even Primo, the budget reissue label dropped the ball on a 2 CD best of Ben E King which focused basically on his early Atco years and Drifters singles and on the second disc lush pop music of standards.  I guess we'll have to wait till Real Gone takes on giving us a definitive best of or just make a mix tape of his best songs ourselves. It's also noting that another King, BB King has been hospitalized after having a mild heart attack and at age 89, might be on the path to the great white light.  And fallen comrade Joni Mitchell is still alive despite the TMZ babble about her in a coma.   You have to watch the internet for typos or flawed stories.  And I suppose it's a dire situation for BB King who is now in HOSPICE in Las Vegas and I suspect I'll be writing a tribute to BB in the not too distance future.  He's had a long grand ride as one of the last original blues artists still alive.

And perhaps the last note is a grim note of the effects of aging and playing drums.  While Rush is contemplating a tour this summer this is word that Neil Peart has the beginnings of tendonitis, which means one of the world's best drummers may not be able to play himself those crazy rhythms that made Rush songs stand out.  Another fact of how aging takes away things we take for granted.  I feel for Neil, I go through wrists that hurt like hell, even after doing exercises to prevent tendonitis.  And our bodies are winding down, so much you can do when the spirit is willing but the body isn't.  I don't see anything golden about the golden years, whereas everytime you walk, you fart, or my thumbs continuing to crack every other time or lock up. I'm beginning to think that the golden years was the developmental years of growing up rather then being older and dealing with the body breaking down.  Yeah, I love to live like I was 20 and had no fear, instead of being 54, having back spams that won't go away, the walking toots. and having to get coke glasses out to read the fucking liner notes to albums and CDs.  And I don't forsee any improvement anytime soon, probably more worse things on the horizon.  Make no mistake, Neil Peart is an original himself, just like the Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich who never seem to tire out as he was getting older on drums too.  At some point retirement will have to come but Neil does have a family to share his life with after Rush, and his music preserved on audio forever too.   Everything comes to an end.  We just don't know when yet.

Kinda like this blog.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Forgotten Bands Of The 80's-Streets

Steve Walsh was the voice behind Kansas from the beginning up till 1980 when he took off in a more rock direction, or perhaps he was tired of Kerry Livgren's Christianity lyrics that was Audio Visions although Walsh did participated in Seeds Of Change, Kerry's 1980 solo album that also had Ronnie James Dio on  a couple tracks.  Nevertheless creative differences was cited and Walsh made a fairly decent solo effort before joining with Mike Slamer a fairly decent guitarist that had more flash than substance it seems.  Billy Greer played bass and the underrated Tim Gehrt played drums.  And thus Streets were born.

While Kansas moved up with the Elefante brothers, it's hard to tell who rocked harder in 1983, Kansas' Drastic Measures or Streets 1st, both co produced with Neil Kernon (Hall And Oates) who added loud drums to the mix.  Released on Atlantic, 1st I think gets the nod, it's a bit more metallic than Kansas and they had one of my favorite singles of that time If Love Should Go which I'm surprised didn't do better than a poorly number 87 showing on the charts (the local chart had it higher and it did get airplay on the major radio stations).  Basically Atlantic didn't show a lot of promotion nor interest in this band and the album made its way to the cut outs within months.  Overall, the album owes more to hard rock, elements of Bad Company and Foreigner with Slamer's Van Halen type of leads.  Not original sounding but they could be entertaining. A later 1983 concert was issued via King Biscuit which basically is their first album plus a couple tracks played to a receptive crowd.  Worth searching for if you can find it, King Biscuit Radio for a time in the 1990s put out live albums of selective bands and Streets was one of them.  And the sound quality is quite good.

By 1985, Streets were already forgotten, and their next album Crimes In Mind shows them going for the hair metal sound and falling short of expectations.  Don't Look Back paled in comparison with If Love Should Go for a single, and it bombed but it is one of the better songs on this album.  Beau Hill (Ratt) opted for that hair metal sound and it didn't suit the style of Walsh, who sounds strained on some of the songs and channels his inner Lou Gramm on the ballad Broken Glass.  It does sound like second rate Foreigner even on the rockers I Can't Wait or Desiree and hair metal guitar leads do date themselves.  Crimes In Mind was the final effort as Streets broke up and Steve Walsh returned to Kansas a couple years later with Billy Greer replacing Dave Hope on bass.  The 1987 album Power owes more to Streets than prog rock from what I remembered of it, the only thing I can remember is the sappy Can't Cry Anymore ballad that ends that album.  Walsh would remain in Kansas till he retired from the band in 2014.

If nothing else, Streets started out promising but as MTV and hair metal became more and more popular, it was oblivious that Atlantic was trying to turn them into something like Twisted Sister or Ratt and it didn't pay off.  Still their classic rock moment remains If Love Should Go, a song that should be played a lot more times like the other songs of that time but you never hear even on pay radio.  It's a shame really, it's a great song but too bad that Walsh and company didn't have another song like that in them.  But at least Walsh could return to his day job and day band and continue to sell out arenas and state fairs.   In other words, a side project of a band that never really took off.


1st (Atlantic 1983) B+
Crimes In Mind (Atlantic 1985) C+
King Biscuit Live (King Biscuit/BMG 1997) B 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Forty Years Of Reviews--A False Rarity

Up till the end of 2013 for 10 years I employed something called The Top Ten Of The Week.  Which featured songs of note of that certain week and towards the end, added pictures to which most disappeared soon afterwards.  What's the point of posting pictures when they disappear giving some needed eye candy to the endless babble of the songs of the week.  Frustrated, I gave up and put up instead a playlist of the songs of the week and noteworthy news.  And the ratings pummeled.  So I did other things to pepper up Record World, the cheesecake photo of the week, which also disappeared.  The ongoing Singles Going Steady series of tributes to 45s, The ICON. Lost or Forgotten bands of the rock era.  Apparently the internet has been turned back on in Russia, I've seem to have more views over there the past couple months although I killed and renamed a blog over inflated ratings.  Have I done it that way, I could be over 5,000 views but I'd rather have 5 or 50 views and have comments rather than inflated ratings.  After all, in 12 years of blogging, it's more fun to engage in conversations with real time folks talking tunes rather than having nameless trolls under Anonymous crying over a song from overrated bands and not having valid arguments.  Which reminds me of Aunt Virginia, my mom's older sister wishing my brother a happy birthday but telling me that my birthday is meaningless to her.  To which I entertain visions of taking a dump on her grave but that would be a waste of fertilizer.  Of hoping she goes by the way of Nick Lowe's Marie Provost song, to which Aunty Gin would die, and her doggies would eat her for dinner since she alienated everybody in this family along the way.  Poetic justice?  The hippie girl didn't think so, chastising me in a reply that calling the old hag, an old hag is a reason why Aunt Gin doesn't speak to me.  To which I told Hippie Girl that it was long before she started cutting people out of her life or starting fights but it begin at a get together after Virginia made a smart comment bout me losing my hair and gaining weight.  Thus proving that the Arizona summer sun melted her brain away over the years.  Then again while trying to live a new life down there 30 years ago, she threw me out of the house since I couldn't find a decent paying job to pay rent after four and half months living with her.  But then again we were never close although I do thank her for the chance to live the Arizona dream for a short time.

When I first did the top ten, it was a labor of love to show off the songs, and I had a wonderful ally in Brooskie aka Donna who post her top ten and made comments of the songs, to which I picked up from her. But then the labor of love felt more like a chore and I eventually went back to just doing a playlist and not comment.  Whatever happened to Brooksie is a mystery too, perhaps she gave up the internet life and the computer.  Or migrated into real time life, either way she's sorely missed.

The interesting aspect of The Top Ten was to groove and educate the masses there's more than just Corporate controlled radio, which is proving that anything the Corporations bought out over the years have turn the variety into the same old shit and not in a good way.  The major labels don't promote the new artist and all they have left to make money off on is rehashing classic albums by putting outtakes and b sides and charging full price.  Once in a while Real Gone Music will issue something of value but Sony Music/Universal/Warner Music Group shows no interest outside of profit lines and autotuned dance beats and chipmunk vocals.  The return of rock and roll won't happened.  The kids today grew up with rap and nu metal and it's beginning to show in the music made. Joni Mitchell talked about getting back to the garden in Woodstock, but the garden is long gone.  It's been replaced by an outlet mall and a Subway eatery.

Forty years ago, I started the long journey of reviewing albums for the local junior high and basically they weren't much to base a career on.  It was fun pointing out on how Randy Bachman would recycled the songs off BTO's Not Fragile to make Four Wheel Drive, which at the time was pointless but fun.  Although I don't play the album much, I think it's better now than back then but that's not saying much, if you listen to modern rock music today.  Who thought that forty years on, I'm still reviewing and buying stuff I have yet to hear and blogging about it.

It was easier to review albums since money was too tight to mention and I worked a job putting Penny Savers on doors of homes and getting one cent per paper. Which came to about 7 dollars per week.  I didn't have much of disposal income so whatever was brought had to be desired.  The early ones was Deep Purple Stormbringer (nobody had the 45 so I got the album), a album with a classic title track but the rest not so much memorable. One Sunday, I found a 20 dollar bill and lived on that for about a week, buying Aerosmith's Toys In The Attic and calling that the best of 75.  Once getting a steady job, then it became a big deal, buying anything that looked interesting in the cut out bins or on sale.  Back then reissues came from Pickwick, the budget minded label that gave us soundalike bands during the hits of today or truncated albums with a track or two missing.  Although much maligned Pickwick did managed to keep some obscure stuff in print for the most time and their copy cat version of Tommy really wasn't bad.  I still have that album around somewhere as well as Stormbringer or Toys In The Attic.  Although I did submit reviews for the local school paper (most not published) and did off and on reviews, it wasn't till 2003 that thanks to the internet I was able to horned my craft as they say, sometimes going for the outrageous, especially on crappy albums for shock value but since everybody else was doing that, I decided to give at least an honest overview to see anything is worth listening.

In the final analysis the conclusion is that about 80 percent of what I heard is interchangeable  and have some songs that do stick out.  The usual grades apply A being a requirement for your collection, B for recommended, C for fans of the genre only, D you have to pay bills and eat and E Florida Georgia Line resides here. For a guy with strict guidelines and standards, I tend to have a very favorable and generous meaning when I give grades out, I do and still play a C grade album if I still have it in my collection.  And of course, trading in a A or B graded album just to clear shelf-space and to give a profit line to Half Priced Books.  I really don't see a need for OK Computer nor Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in my collection, I recommend them to you if you're hard up for something you haven't heard but they do not rock enough for me to keep myself.  To further the arguments I have never see a need for Dark Side Of The Moon, it's worthy of classic rock status and perfect to mellow out on wine and doobie. But Pink Floyd has never been one of my favorite bands and if I had to play Pink Floyd, it's usually Piper At The Gates Of Dawn or More.  Even though I traded The Wall, I still do have Animals and Wish You Were Here, simply of the fact that someday I may want to play that and imagine my surprise that I donated Wish You Were Here to charity without knowing it, but somehow found a dollar pawnshop remaster and kept in sight.

Over the years, I have seen fads and changing times beginning in the mid 70s when album rock and top forty all of a sudden started up reaction to the times.  Disco, punk, new wave, goth, the 80s garage rock movement, hair metal, grunge up till 1998 there was different styles to keep my interests going before rap came along and really change things for the worse. Or nu metal.  Since then, the music that revolved became to get stuck in the mud and been spinning its tires ever since.  People complain about Billy Ray Cyrus Acky Breaky Heart which really doesn't differ that far from Keep Your Hands To Yourself, nor the puke inducing Boot Scoot Boogie a song that started the downfall of my relationship of an ex girlfriend but compared to what is heard on Bro Job country passes for The Beatles. But then again, I have not been impressed with modern rock either, or top forty radio for that matter so the only recourse of action is just simply ignore anything that I can't stand listening to, which includes Cumulus/Clear Channel or (Townsquare Media whatever they're called) Corporate Radio.  It boggles the mind of how Baby You A Song is the catch phase and a number 1 country single for half a year or having the autotuned chipmunks like FGL mug at the camera and lip synch to a backing track on the ACA's last week.  While the old guard complain about the death of country music, what the sad fact is that this new kind of Country is the new Country and the times are a changin. It's here to stay weather you like it or not.  And most don't while some do. 

Never in our lives that we have so much out there with so little outlets to hear it from.  The Corporations bought most of the airwaves out thanks to Bill Clinton and the Telecom Act of 1996 which did more to kill music more so than the Day The Music Died in 1959 ever did.  Or the continuing of mergers of record companies that we have now just 3 dictating the rules and the airwaves.  Net Radio is nice, it does get the word out but it comes in trickles and not the Clear Channel owned airwaves. And with each merger the new releases were not ground breaking or grabbed you by the ears  Further proof is the glut of CDs from bad rap or stale grunge rock of the 1990s in the dollar bins at the thrift stores. Or Justin Bieber's last flop.  If there's no substance, there's no lasting impact, unless it's filling up the landfill with unwanted crap.  And Corporate Radio is more interested of rehashing the classic rock playlist that hasn't been changed since it's inception. So it's Foreigner all day and somewhere on the airwaves another Foreigner song is playing giving Mick Jones some more income for his retirement fund.  Which seems to include a new version of Cold As Ice or I Want To Know What Love Is.

So for reviews I had to dig deeper into the archives, much more so than the usual reissues of 2 CD deluxe classic albums of long ago and far away.  It's a rip off and a far cry from the super saver series that the majors did put out, classic rock albums for 4.99 rather than the 19.99 180 gram virgin vinyl snake oil the major labels tout.  Doesn't matter if the vinyl is recycled or pristine virgin, if it ain't mastered or recorded right it's going to sound like shit.  Just like the Ryan Adams Cold Roses 2 LP set that that a vertical scratch on one side and the record store saying too bad. No refunds, buyer beware.  And the major labels thinking buying a Crosley record player will have your records sound better?   Hardly.

That's the fun of blogging on a record site that doesn't get much views outside of the nighttime Russian crowd, finding something out of the ordinary to listen and give a opinion about it.  Or maybe write about a band that gets ignored in the press and somebody took note of it to comment.   I continue to dig and review and write and hope something can get preserved out of the bands that haven't made the big time.  And wonder if Clear Channel politics had something to do with one band getting mucho airplay while another gets ignored.  And there have been bands that I missed the first time and got the hear a second time and finding out that I did miss out when that band was out and about and trying to make it big.  And sometimes cult bands are better than the hyped bands, I tend to favor Swinging Steaks more than Wilco, or Delta Moon over Mumford And Sons.  Or Miranda over Carrie Nation. It's a matter of taste and songs. If need be, I'll take Blur over Oasis although Ride was the much preferred band to hear.  Or James McMurtry over Bruce Springsteen.  A matter of choice and taste, Springsteen is nice but not every hour on the hour with Hungry Heart.

As so it goes.  When Jerry Scott told me to dig deeper into the music instead of playing the same 20 songs over and over  I took his advice and went further out into the desert.  And still continue to drive even deeper into the archives with a new find in the cheap bins or LP section.   And I will continue to do that till my time is up.  Music has been that one constant in my life  and since I don't anything else to do, I keep searching for the elusive song or album.  If I find it then, maybe I'll quit.

But you know that I won't. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Week In Review-Record Store Day Reviews

Instead of bitching about the American Country Awards, I'll stick to reviewing the record buys of the week.

Waylon Jennings-Live 55 (BCR Media 2015)

Out of all the RSD albums to get, I decided to get an early radio broadcast of Waylon jamming with some of his buddies.  This owes more to Hank Williams Sr rather than Buddy Holly although having somebody named Leroy do a couple numbers and have a female singer sing one at the end of side one is fun.  They don't make them like that anymore, certainly Timesquare Media or Cumulus or Clear Channel would never dare have anybody do something like this sixty years ago. Done on the spot which explains why instead of hearing Blue Swede Shoes somebody thinks up of Tutti Fruiti, or the mess up at the end of Heartbreak Hotel, but this is innocent fun from a long time ago, and Waylon does sound wise beyond his teen years. An odd curio but as fun as Johnny Cash's first radio show.
Grade B+

Ellie Greenwich-Let It Be Written, Let It Be Sung (Verve 1973)

It's a shame that Ellie never got the kudos for being one of the best singers in rock and roll, she wrote tons of great music for others and backed up Neil Diamond in the formative years but her solo output has been few and far between, even more so now that's she passed away.  On this 1973 effort Ellie rearranges some of her best known songs and put them to better use I gather.  The waltz that becomes Baby I Love You, a reggae feel on Chapel Of Love and puts a cool and collective spin on Maybe I Know and River Deep And Mountain High.  I think she poured her heart and soul into this album and it's a left field classic. Of course Artie Butler is behind the scenes and of course Ellie is behind the outstanding backing vocals as well.  MGM didn't do no favors by not promoting this, it would have been a nice soft rock sound along the likes of what Carole King was doing.  And just as good too.
Grade A-

Deadicated  (Arista 1991)

Tribute albums to the classic bands are hit and miss.  Rarely do I find an album that's worth a listen or a keeper.  Basically in other words, yet another various artists tribute to Grateful Dead, who was winding down their career and Clive Davis was looking for a cash cow to milk.  In reality the Dead, Arista albums were problematic, and outside of a freak hit in Touch Of Gray in 1987, that album (In The Dark) and the one after that, their last studio effort Built To Last was an exercise in trying to stay awake.  So Ralph Sall called up a few artists in love with The Dead to convince them to cover their best known stuff.  The first half is actually quite good with Los Lobos, Bruce Hornsby and Susan Vega having the highlights and even Dwight Yoakam comes through with Truckin.  Second half of the album bogs down big time beginning with the Cowboy Junkies, To Lay Me Down, which  kills the mood  and the usually reliable Midnight Oil fails with Wharf Ray, perhaps one of my least favorite Dead song.  Winston Rodney and Burning Spear cover of Estimated Prophet has a very bad and dated simmons drum sound, Rodney does sound like he believes in the song but Casino Keyboards and Simmons Drums is awful.  Dr John kinda gets things back in the right direction with Deal but when Jane's Addiction ends the whole thing with Ripple, a song out of their league, you wish Arista would have left that in the can along with the Cowboy Junkies and Midnight Oil.   But then again it's a tribute album by various artist with the intent of the quick sale and it did sell very well.  After Lyle Lovett's Friend Of The Devil, it is the right spot to end the record and forget the last four out of five songs.  I did up it a notch for the lyrics of John Barlow and Robert Hunter who penned the best of the Dead songs. And sales did go into protecting the rain forest, what's left of it today.  The album is overblown but if you see it for a dollar somewhere at a thrift store it's worth picking up, just to finally figure out what the hell they were singing on Truckin.
Grade B

The Best Of Ike And Tina Turner-Proud Mary (EMI 1991)

Like Sly Stone, Ike Turner started out as a pretty damn good producer and arranger and then hooked up with Annie Mae Bullock to form the Ike And Tina Revue.  While this best of is missing certain pieces of the puzzle, this is the perfect album for the rise to the top and the train wreck that followed that was Ike And Tina Turner.  A&M wouldn't give up River Deep Mountain High so they went with the United Artists remake and although it loses the Phil Spector bombast still remains somewhat funky.  When they were on Sue Records, Tina had a wreckless and wild vocals, perhaps the original Don't Yell At Me Female singer.  In the 60s Ike and Tina started to cover rock and soul and their versions of Come Together and I Want To Take You Higher shows that Ike knew his funk and rock.  Which lead to their cover of Proud Mary which the nice and rough second half will be what they're famous for.  But after that, Ike's coke habit and weird work habits would be forthtelling in Up In Heah and I'm Yours (Use Me Anyway You Wanna) to which it sounds like too much coke was used in this halfassed song.  Nutbush City Limits is the best song Tina ever written but boy did the wheels fell off after that.  I'm surprised that EMI didn't include anything from What You Hear Is What You Get, their live album to which Tina turns I've Been Loving You Too Long into total porn.   Proud Mary does capture the highlights (and the lowlifes as well).
Grade B+

Clear Light  (Elektra 1967)

Best known for Cliff DeYoung being lead singer (he was an actor and had a hit with a cover of My Sweet Lady by John Denver), boasting two drummers including the late Dallas Taylor and Doug Lubahn on bass who played on 3 of The Doors albums, Clear Light is also known as the band that got a scalding review from Robert Christgau giving it a D minus, and perhaps he had a point.  The songs really didn't have much thought behind them, bizarre word plays, minute and half songs that sounded unfinished and perhaps the nadir was Mr. Blue, done in a funeral drum march with a chorus that even with the double drummers nobody knows how to keep a beat and speeds it up. While Christgau calls this something like The Doors, I look at The Godz (ESP Disk version band) at that arrangement.  Either their highlight or low light depending on who you ask.  However, Street Singer which features the line of organ grinder's monkey strangling himself on a chain is bad poetry, even more so than the stupidest of Jim Morrison's less successful works.  It makes The End sound like A Day In The Life.  Still, it's bizarreness is worth of hearing it once in your life and try not to roll your eyes, it's hippy dippie at it's mad best/worst.  The only song that could be called a hit was the failed single Black Roses, perhaps their shining moment.  Like the most of their Elektra bandmates, they had a bit of Doors here and a bit of Love there but unlike both bands, they were better off being session players to which Ralph Shuckett would do later for James Taylor Lubahn for The Doors and Taylor providing the beat to Crosby, Stills And Nash. Nor they were capable of providing a bona fied hit which probably Paul Rothchild threw up his hands and told them to get lost.  Basically one of those albums that did made its way to the dollar cut out bins at the end of the 60s.  The album is a mess of a record but if anything, it sounded better than Contact High With The Godz.  Perhaps they were more suited to ESP Disk than Elektra.  Sundazed reissued this on CD and Lp with a bonus track She's Ready To Be Free, a throwaway B side to Black Roses.
Grade B-

Rod Stewart-A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues (Private Stock 1976)

Another Christgau slam (This got a C minus) this collection is basically a set of demos that Stewart recorded in the mid 60s and trying to find a sound best suited for him.  His version of Shake is more of the Otis Redding song rather than Sam Cooke and I think the band was aping The Animals more than any other band.  In fact Private Stock is issue Shake as a single (it flopped).  The unreleased stuff is pleasant but unremarkable and the two failed UK singles (Why Does It Go On, The Day Will Come) presents Stewart trying to sound like the Walker Brothers.  A nice groove to I Just Got Some, and Bright Lights Big City is more jazzy than blues rock.  Back  then Stewart sued Private Stock on this release and whatever copies were out there went straight into the cut outs.  With good reason, it's bland.  Stewart would actually get better later on by joining with Jeff Beck and then found his inner self with the first four Mercury solo albums before he got too big for his britches.
Grade C

Glass Moon-Glowing In The Dark (Radio 1982)

Tad talks about their first album being one of the best prog rock albums out there but since i haven't found that album I'll take his word.  Their second album Glowing In The Dark spawned off a top fifty single in On A Carousel which really isn't bad, it kinda reminds me of Trillion when they did Make Time For Love.  I really don't think this album is very prog rock sounding, it's more in line with Prism, especially on side 1's opener Simon or She's On.  Political Action might be the most progressive rock sounding on Glowing In The Dark but overall, Glass Moon's second album is more of a progressive pop than rock album.  Which could be good or bad.

Grade B

Chicken Shack-Imagination Lady (Deram 1972)

The argument that when Christine Perfect would leave the Shack for Fleetwood Mac was that Chicken Shack did lose their vocal presence and with Stan Webb leading the trio, they became a boogie blues band but slightly less than their counterparts Savoy Brown or the beginnings of Foghat that knew enough hooks to make their music more radio ready.  I myself found that Dave Walker made Savoy Brown a better band, as well as Foghat which Dave Peverett and Rod Price knew enough Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon to make their songs work.  Stan Webb is your journeyman guitar slinger and slightly sub-average blues singer and without Christine Perfect, became  a faceless boogie blues band, with unoriginal original songs an drummer that rambled on for about six minutes on Telling Your Fortune which Webb borrows I'm In The Mood after Paul Hancox's drum solo and plods on for another four minutes.  And perhaps the most bombastic version of If I Were A Carpenter ever made, even more so than the silly Leon Russell version a few years later.  This is the kind of song that drag a album down and it does here.  When 2000 Man mentioned Chicken Shack in his latest blog, it prompted me to seek this CD out, to which I still have.  While the argument that Webb is a B squad guitar player, I tend to think Robin Trower had better chops and Frank Marino better imagination.  In some ways the destruction done to If I Were A Carpenter is somewhat like Clear Light taking Mr. Blue a Tom Paxton folk song and desecrating in a different style although I like their version of Mr. Blue better than The Shack's Carpenter.  The problem of Imagination Lady is of a band trying for a harder (not heavy metal) sound and it just doesn't work very well.  If nothing else, the album cover is perhaps the best thing of this album.  Outside of that, it's just not memorable.
Grade C


A lot more of the Crabb archives are now lost.  Multiply dot com shut things down so therefore, whatever I had over there for blogs and top ten are now been banished to the Death Star of the Internet. For the most part, I did managed to salvage some of the My Space archives before Justin Timberlake and company deleted the blogs. The major blog gone is the Neil Young reviews.  I may try to update that one of these years. Another pain in the ass is the disappearing of the pictures of past blogs.  Pictures of tornadoes, rock stars, 45s and selfies have gone by the wayside and I really no idea of why they do and basically just throw my hands up in disgust  and just deleted the damn space anyway.  It's not fun but what can you do about it? And some of the archives aren't visited that much.  It does piss me off to see some of the tornado shots of a few years ago disappear or even my own pics as well.  And I know fucking well that I still have the pictures.

WGN farewell.  No longer your channel for baseball, the Superstation that used to be WGN is still taking up space on cable land like a decayed cadaver with endless repeats of In The Heat Of The Night, or Walker Texas Ranger and all the baseball and basketball I used to watch is now only shown in the Chicago area, leaving the rest of the world with USA light but without the WWE.  I never thought I would see the day that a channel that prided itself on Chicago Cubs baseball 150 games per year now decides that Matlock repeats are the way to go.  The usual dumbing down effect that the world and Corporate big shots are now doing to us in a big way.  If you have digital free channels you might catch a ballgame via KCRG 9.2 or 9.3 or 9. whatever if the wind is blowing right but for the consumer who lives out in the boonies are basically screwed. The childhood of seeing the Cubs on Sunday Afternoons are just like my childhood, gone forever and if they do show any type of baseball on cable, it's usually blacked out (thank you TBS and MLB, the Charles and David Koch of cable TV)   It's to the point that I don't watch much TV anymore, too many commercials (there's at least 10 channels showing commercials at any given time) and too much bullshit reality garbage and ESPN whoring out Jon Gruden at every chance they get.  It used to be a tradition to catch part of the Cubs in the day game before going to work but not anymore I guess. The Cubs seem to have a above 500 record but I wouldn't know.  The only time I've seen them was the Peegate game which they stayed in Arizona and the Cardinals showed up and kicked their ass on ESPN, which amazingly had no Jon Gruden around for that time.   Used to be cable had something to offer. Not anymore and certainly not on WGN.

From Henry Rollins:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Record Store Day 2015-Davenport

It's a surreal feeling when I managed to go to Goodwill and actually find some things of note and I managed to do that Thursday, two days before Record Store Day would be upon us. Usually the thrift stores are picked clean but since I didn't work Thursday, I figured I would pop in to see what The Salvation Army or The Marion Goodwill had.  For that rare time, I found four records of varying degree, Gentle Giant The Missing Piece, UK's 1977 S/T album, Rod Stewart's A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues, that 1976 Private Stock of mid 60s music that Stewart filed suit to stop but the record was found easily in the cut out bins and I had a copy originally, and B B King's Back In The Alley, that 1973 best of that ABC Bluesway issued.  I guess that was the find of the week since it was only a dollar.  And then Friday, the pawnshop had Big Audio Dynamite first album for a dollar too.  So I basically was thinking of tossing RSD to the side and just do something else.  But in the end, caved in.

It really didn't make much sense to go scour the Thrift stores in Davenport since I was there a month ago and didn't find anything of note and basically talked myself out of the same quarter 45s that have been there time and time ago, and they still had Jimmy Webb Suspending Disbelief, the one that I donated back in November.  Even for 95 cents and still in mint condition, nobody wanted it.  Thought about taking it home but that would not be cost effective.  And I suspect the Black Crowes Lions cd is still mine as well.  Still left there empty handed as well as going to Stuff Etc and finding nothing.  Moving on, I went to Ragged Records, basically to pick up the 45s that I put away the last time I was there.  Ragged was very busy today, plenty of people in store picking up vinyl left and right and of course they had a wide selection of RSD exclusives, perhaps the best was the 2 LP Sly And The Family Stone Live At The Fillmore that I looked at, but once i put it down, somebody snatched it right up.  I didn't see the need to spend 40 dollars on that, nor the 23.99 retail for a mono copy of The Doors Strange Days, nor the Spingsteen The River which I paid 3 times less the 40 dollars to have that once again.   While some band was making lots of fusion noise on the makeshift stage, I spent time in the 45 section refusing to come out till they quit playing.  Ben Crabb, the other sales person gave me a 2 dollar set rate for all 6 45s that I bought, rather than having Bob quoting a price out of the blue, which made better cents and sense to me.  The Tower 45 of Harry Nilssons Sixteen Tons was the prize find.  I also managed to reacquire Steppenwolf's Rock Me and a picture sleeve of Jim Reeves, I Know One B/W I'm Getting Better.

It's fairly easy to find Jim Reeves LPs around here and he usually gets slammed by collectors seeing his stuff at the thrift stores but I could use a better LP of Tall Tales and Short Tempers simply of the original version of It's Nothing To Me but I never seen a 45 picture sleeve of I Know One.  And basically Ben was probably happy to see it go.  Even though it was Record Store Day, Ragged Records slashed 20 percent off used records prices and I managed to find a Glass Moon and Clear Light's Sundazed reissued for under 20 dollars.    So it was not a total ripping off consumers, Ragged made it a store wide sale.  And if things sell, that's a win win for all.

Co Op in Moline, when I got there didn't have the crowds that Ragged enjoyed, like the last time I was there on RSD day not too many people were in there but they had the Waylon Jennings Live 55 LP which was a old Waylon Jennings radio show so that became my RSD buy. Searching deeper, I came across the late Ellie Greenwich Let It Be Written, Let It Be Sung album on Verve for a dollar. Since I wanted to catch the Quad Cities River Bandits game at 6 I didn't spend a whole lotta time in Co Op, just long enough to browse and buy and head back to Davenport.   And basically didn't go to Books A Million and check out their vinyl selection, besides I spent my limit.  And got to watch Quad Cities beat Kane County 2-1 in a pitchers duel. to which Colin Bray, Cougar outfield would be taunted by some drunk fans out in the picnic areas.  Bray damn near killed himself making a spectacular catch in foul territory and then get upended on the short fence and into the stands.  He stayed in the game but he was hurting.  Quad Cities this season has been excellent with a 9-1 mark, they keep playing that way they'll make the playoffs.  Kane County is the defending champions going 91-46 last season but most of the roster are now in double and triple A.

I tend to think this year's Record Store Day was better than expected.  Not that I counted on finding anything much, but somehow I did think I'd return back to Ragged enough to put the records I want out of sight, or hope that collectors out there would overlook them.  I still was not that impressed of the exclusive RSD stuff out there, the double sided Lemonheads/Gram Parsons is for hoarders only and although my OCD gets the best of me, I know when to put certain things away.  But I also know that in this day and age, the vintage 45s I've been searching since the big finds of last year's excursion was a fluke upon itself.  Will I ever find a Buddy Holly/Bob Dylan/Sam Cooke collection again I doubt it.  And every trip since then, I bullshit myself that I will get that lucky again, only to throw up my arms and just plunder what Ragged Records has available, I really haven't bought myself up to bother Bob about those undiscovered 45s hiding up in his attic and due to my limited space at home, really don't see the need to. The beginning of this decade saw me finding plenty of 45s for very cheap at various Half Priced Bookstores across this country which may have gotten me this false sense of thinking I can still find 45s at any given time.  But since the vinyl revival, Goodwill and Salvation Army hasn't been as fulfilling as it once was.  But then again, I may have driving deeper into the harder to find 45s than most folk, even to the point of going after pop records of the 50s that my mom have grown up listening to.  Carmen Cavarallo perhaps the oddball find and certainly not rock and roll but as long as the record is in decent shape and not chewed up, anything is possible and usually is bought and listened to.

Just like the Nutty Squirrels.  (all pictures taken at Ragged Records, Davenport, except for the River pic)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Townedger Radio 7-Percy Sledge RIP, The Golden Era Of Music?

I've known Bruce Stanley for over 20 years.  I knew him when he was down at Omni later Relics Records located in the hood part of town and we would sit back and talk tunes and bullshit throughout the years.  We have gone to seen a few bands, Big Back Forty, Blue Mountain, The Honeydogs to name a few and we were both trading CDs and albums to expand our musical horizons.  After all, it was he that told me about Scruffy The Cat, Blue Mountain, Matthew Sweet and even though Relics folded in 1996, we continued to talk tunes while he was selling music gear over at 16th Avenue Music in Czech Village (RIP). For the last decade and a half I could find him working at Siegel's Pawnshop and we continue to bullshit about music although the demise of music stores and Best Buy's continuing to shrink the CD section, we haven't had much to get excited about.  New Alabama Shakes?  Meh.  He hasn't said much good about the latest Iron And Wine but I admit that I never got into them.

We would try to wow each other in what we could find at the stores but lately, we talk about the good old days; the last true decade that great music, the late 80s alternative music scene before Nirvana.  He made a valid point that we were very lucky growing up in our era of the last of the great music.  Robyn Hitchcock, Lloyd Cole, Aztec Camera and the fond memories of Big Back Forty and Sean Beal standing behind us taking in a concert with The Honeydogs and then wondered what ever happened to him.  I think we were the biggest fans of that band.  I don't think the death of Kurt Cobain was the death of music, I think it was 1998 when Polygram got sold away to what would become the Universal Behemoth Empire, a Corporation so big, it refuses to issue The Brains Money Changes Everything album and has sued Rick Parashar's offspring for the tapes of Temple Of The Dog to which Universal claims that the late Parashar verbally agreed to hand the tapes over for 35,000 dollars. Or maybe it was Limp Bizkit and Nu Metal that was the beginning of the end.  Or perhaps it was Cumulus and Clear Channel turning every radio station into the same cookie cutter Corporate Radio with the same 23 songs played over and over.  I suppose 1998 was the cut off year, although there was still decent music being put out, it just didn't bring back memories like the golden age or rock and roll and Hippie Dippy Rock or Album Rock.

Nevertheless, Bruce and I talked about the vinyl revival and Record Store Day, to which both of us admit that if you have to celebrate one day of buying overpriced record store day specials just to play once and file away, it made no logical sense to blow 25 to 30 dollars on albums you used to get for 5 dollars back in the day.   We both thought that Cedar Rapids needs a record store of its own but again Bruce said that you're better off throwing your money down the loo and getting a better return.  In this day and age of certain old fart music insiders saying streaming is the future, who ever buys CDs and LPs are the problem, it doesn't make sense to open up a music store, only to have the goodies you have being bought up, and what remains is crap that nobody wants.  I saw that firsthand in going to Madison a couple weeks ago.  And the usual bitchings that going to thrift stores and Antique Malls, the luck is more miss than hit, unless somebody got lucky and posted their findings on a Vinyl appreciation face book page.   The great argument is that CDs are past their prime and should be retired.  I really don't think so.  A lot of my music reviews are CDs that I play in the car when I'm out and about and basically they're still as good as they ever were when I started buying them almost 3 decades ago.  But then again when a Cd is overcompressed and overloud then it's not such a good thing.  The loudness factor especially in the last decade really ruin certain albums of note.

The vinyl revival of the past couple years has gotten to the point that scavengers have brought out just about anything that is seen at the thrift stores and what remains is crap nobody wants.  Once in a while, there might be something obscure that the most savvy of scavenger record hunters will overlook but it's not too often.   I don't see people getting too excited over Carmen Cavallero.  Or most old country stuff if it's not Johnny Cash or Buck Owens.  It's odd but during the CD explosion, CDs would sell for 10 dollars used while LPs only were around 3 or 4 dollars used.  Nowadays, it's like Paranoid is 20 bucks reissue new whereas you can get it new for 5 or even less at a thrift store.  And what didn't sell or sold for a dollar or less now gets big bucks on EBAY or other places.  It really makes me wish I could have kept that ABC/Sire version of the First Ramones album on hand.  I didn't think the value would go up in value and that dollar lack of sense has made me realize I'll never find that album again.  The reissue of course but even the Rocket To Russia LP is much different than the one that I grew up listening to in high school.

I grew up on rock and roll and even in high school, I started getting into new wave and punk.  And then getting into the weird shit.  Wire 154, XTC Black Sea,  Iggy Pop, New Values, Devo and I would torture Dave Spich, a co worker by going over to his house, with a pizza from Naso's and the mentioned albums and seeing the strange looks on his face before he threw me and the pizza out the door.  Great times actually. XTC Black Sea Record Realm had that as a promo and I still have the Green sack cover that RSO put over the cover of the album, I think the record skipped on a couple songs.  I wasn't a fan of English Settlement but I ended up getting the Epic album that was a single album and not a double like the import was.  And imports were I could catch up on artists that didn't sell in the US, Doctor Feelgood, Hawkwind and Eddie And The Hot Rods come to mind.  It took a while for me to really get into prog rock of Neu! or The Soft Machine or Tangerine Dream but somehow over the years I did find and purchased and listened to most of Tangerine Dream's Virgin years.

Back in the 80s college towns had the best record stores.  BJ's in Iowa City replaced going to Musicland or Sam Goody, plus BJ's had a hell of a cut out record section, where they even sold The Beatles about 5 dollars under suggested retail price and I still have Let It Be, with a poster included. A Lowell Fulsom Kent album went unclaimed for years till I picked that one up.  The obscure artist like Crack The Sky as well.  When Real Records opened up, they were the place to go for Jazz and Blues.  But in the late 80s world, even Target and K Mart still had a decent album section as well.  The good old days, before the internet, and we still had real drive ins to go see a movie. Or playing video games at the mall.  And even having the chance to pick up girls at that video arcade too.  I miss those days, I really do.

I tend to look at the period of 1985 through 1997 as the last great influential era of music before everything got Corporate Rock and all the fun was taken out of.  Before autotuned chipmunks and processed beats and bad poetry passing as rock or country or whatever top forty is.  I been looking through the archives to remember bands that made it to the cutout bins and never heard from again.  The Velvet Elvis, Mach Five, Super 400, even to Dream Syndicate or  The Blood Oranges.  Even The Bottle Rockets have fallen off the map although they are still around.  Or The Backsliders from North Carolina.  There was more to just Uncle Tupelo which splinted into Son Volt and Wilco, I really dig deep and read the alternative magazines to keep up to date of who was up and coming.  But in these days and times, I just really haven't based much interest into the up and coming, but whoever was out and about 10 years or so ago I still keep an eye and ear out for. Such as Delta Moon whose new album is out.

I was looking through the archives and found the first Record Store Day was in 2009, at least to my knowledge it was and back then it was a celebration of the remaining record stores still in business and some odds and ends of exclusive RSD vinyl that while collectable was overpriced as is.  In 2009 I went to Real Records and later Record Collector and getting the MC5 single of Kick Out The Jams (MF version not brothers and sisters which I would rather have).  This year whatever I do will be a last minute decision. Half Priced Books will have a vinyl appreciation day Friday with 10 percent off new and used vinyl.  Will it be worth the effort to return to Davenport or Dubuque and thinking the local thrift store will have anything of value?  The logical thinking is no but I did file away a couple of 45s at Ragged Records for maybe future purchases and hope nobody knows about them.   In my opinion, Record Store Day is a ripoff, overpriced limited edition albums that the best titles are already gone before they're put out, however it does bring the crowds out to witness other deals or to see up and coming bands.  But then again I was always said that anytime I go to a record store is Record Store Day in my book.  Although the returns are less and less, once in a while I will find something worth mentioning.   And the weather is supposed to cooperate too. It's baseball season once again and perhaps if The Quad Cities River Bandits are playing home this weekend maybe I put another 200 miles on the car for a day of bargain hunting and baseball.  It depends on if I feel if it's worth it.  Even thinking about it tires me out.  We'll see.

Baseball season is now going and Cedar Rapids Kernels are 5-0 as of this writing.  I saw them win the home opener 8-3 over Beloit before a crowd of 1,752, of course the usual brat kids seated where I was at.  This team has the makings of playoff caliber provided if the players don't get promoted and the replacements don't take over.  Minor league baseball is the future of Major league stars and it's still a thrill watching them develop before your very eyes.  I have come to watch less baseball on TV anymore, WGN doesn't show the Cubs much anymore and TBS games are blacked out every other game.  Besides the weather is getting warm and there's other things to do than spend it sitting on the couch and falling asleep and missing much of the game.  KCRG has announced a baseball TV lineup but they're on 9.2 and guess what, we don't get that out here in the boonies, even with digital rabbit ears. 

A few things going on the music world.  Jack White and AC/DC played Coachrella over the weekend, some poor fan got hit by a train afterwards and died...Speaking of brain dead. Marco Rubio has joined the GOP clown bus, Hillary Clinton running for Democratic POTUS, in other words the usual bought and sold candidates out there. Republicans trying to eliminate the federal estate tax, star another war. Nestle continues to hoard the water in California,  them and the frackers.  Beam me up Scotty, no intelligent life here. 

RIP Percy Sledge.  Best known for the overplayed When A Man Loves A Woman one of the more bitter love songs ever written while some think it's a romantic ballad.  I tend to like Take Time To Know Her better, that doesn't get played very often and It Tears Me Up.  I think I had his greatest hits years ago. The hits were on Atlantic, but he later showed up on Capricorn and Infinity to name a couple.  Cancer claimed him at age 73.

Bill Withers will be in the rock hall of fame this weekend, and Rolling Stone wrote a fine article about Bill.  They don't make anybody like Bill anymore:

Record Store Day and why it should be abolished.

Richie Blackmore turned 70 on Tuesday and there's been rumblings from Joe Lynn Turner about getting Richie back on board for Rainbow and David Coverdale even mentioned that a Deep Purple MK 3 Reunion was talked about but that fell through, even more so after Jon Lord passed away.  Whitesnake's new album remakes some of the Deep Purple songs of that time in a new album.  Good idea but don't know if that's worth getting or hearing.   Outside of the usual Mike Portnoy stories or Megadeth rehashes Anti Music has in their site, not much going on in the music world.  Speaking of useless new albums featuring useless guest stars and bands past their prime, read on... 

Rod's Wonderful Record Reviews Of The Week:

Blues Traveler-Blow Up The Moon (Loud And Proud 2015)

You can tell a band is on its last legs when their new album they decide to enlist help from up and coming bands.  Blues Traveler has been around for over 25 years now, and they have returned with yet another change of labels and a sense of desperation to sound relevant today.  With all around nice guy Dave Grohl letting them record at his studio 606 Sound, John Popper and company gets a little help from long in the tooth teen ex idols Hanson, autotuned chipmunks 3OH!3, rappers Dirty Heads, over the hill punkers Plain White T's and Bowling For Soup (that's a name we haven't heard in about 10 years) JC Chavez and to have some country flavor, Jewel and Thompson Square appear as well.  The title is laughingly bad lyricwise and namechecking Willie Nelson on Vagabound Blues is just plain wrong.  This just does not feel like a Blues Traveler album, but rather sounds like guest stars doing their own thing and having Blues Traveler backing them up.  It's not totality unlistenable, in fact there's a certain guilty pleasure of hearing Jewel or Thompson Square or even Secondhand Serenade on Darkness We All  Need.  You hardly noticed B.T. until Popper does his trademark Harmonica solos on the songs at hand.  Perhaps this CD would have been more logical say about 10 years ago when most of the bands were making headway on the music charts back then.  Popper has stated that this was the band's manager's idea and the band went with it.  And they think they'll continue in this direction.  If that's the case, the Blues Traveler we all know and loved is gone forever.  Chances are this record will sink without a trace.  And believe you me, radio isn't going to play this either.  They haven't yet.
Grade C

Dwight Yoakam-Second Hand Heart (Reprise 2015)

Like Don Rich with Buck Owens, when they were together they made classic country from Bakersfield but when Rich died in 1974, Buck Owens would never scaled the upper reaches of country radio and his records became not as memorable.  To draw the comparison, when Pete Anderson produced Dwight in the classic years, all the albums had a quality of style, a styles of rockabilly, Elvis and modern country all rolled up to one.  Since the falling out with Anderson, Dwight has continued to make albums but the records were never as memorable.  Even his return to Warner/Reprise with 3 Pears there was something amiss.  Second Hand Heart owes more to the Rolling Stones rather than Buck and the Bakersfield sound all but gone.  Certainly the Keith Richards/Chuck Berry riff on She pretty sums up the album itself, Dwight is rocking out and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Dwight produces most of this, with a bit of help of mix master Chris  Lord-Alge  (90s alternative rock bands, Steve Winwood).  Dwight still has a good backing band but not as good as Anderson's led band, basically all irreplaceable, no Skip Edwards, no Taras Ponderink, no Jeff Christie or Jeff Donovan.  None of the songs are country sounding, Dwight leaves out the autotuners and bad rappers off his album, a very good thing.  The remake of Man Of Constant Sorrow is more Black Crowes than O Brother but everybody is having a good time.  Some of the songs need a good fadeout, Off Your Mind goes on too long, and the rest of the songs would song better on Outlaw Country on XM radio than K HACK. In the end this record gets the nod over 3 Pears but find the Target version of this album, which includes a 1989 demo of The Big Time, produced and played by Pete Anderson and compare it to the newer version.  It's more stripped down and to the point.  Who knows, maybe if they can meet halfway we could see Pete come back to produce the next effort which won't happen.  So until then, Dwight is on par with Buck Owens, without a key member or producer, the records are good but lacking something.
Upon a second listen, his version of Who Will Stop The Rain sucks and final track Nothing But Love not much better.  Sometimes Exclusive albums with bonus tracks are left off for a reason.  The 1989 demo of The Big Time proves that Pete Anderson is the missing link between a good album and subpar album.  Probably the most overrated album of 2015.
Grade C+

Percy Sledge-It Tears Me Up Best Of (Atlantic/Rhino 1992)

Percy is more in line with country ballads than pure uptempo soul and that's probably why I never warmed up to him that much.  Of course he couldn't top the blistering When A Man Loves A Woman but like I said in the blog, I like Take Time To Know Her which basically should have come into play 40 years ago on my part.  That said, Sledge specialized in the slower ballads although he does speed up Try A Little Tenderness, to which Otis Redding still owns but adds special meaning to Love Me Tender.  I'd love to see more uptempo stuff rather than the handful that Rhino issued. Of course Marlon Greene is all everything as producer and guitarist but who gives the songs that soulful groove?  None other than Roger Hawkins.  Which is why It Tears Me Up is worth hearing.
Grade B+

Joe King Carrasco And The Crowns (Hannibal 1980)

One of the best kept secrets of the 1980s was Carrasco, a smart ass from Texas that took the heart and soul of Augie Meyers and Sir Douglas Quintet and added some B 52s fun and excitement to their music. This is Tex Mex party rock and roll and all of side 1 rocks quite nice, even the Spanish sung  Federales is good time. But certainly the ghost of Doug Sahm can be heard on Don't Bug Me Baby,  I Get My Kicks On You and of course Bad Bad Girls which you can heard traces of She's About A Mover.  Of course it helps when Huey P Meaux is mentioned (He produced the best of Sir Douglas) and music lover Billy Altman produced, hands off and letting King and The Crowns do their own thing.  Being on a small time label Hannibal didn't help much but the record sold well enough for MCA to offer up a deal and King and The Crowns would make two just as good albums before going back to the indees for their classic Bordertown.  Secret weapon: Kris Cummings, who was the Kate Pierson to King's Fred Scnieder. Or maybe even Louis Prima and Keely Smith although Keely was never as fun as Kris was.  Jes saying.
Grade A-

The Spinners-The Original Spinners (Motown 1967)

Of course, the classic years were with Thom Bell and Atlantic in the mid 70s but before then, The Detroit Spinners were among the B squad of Motown groups that didn't get the big songs or productions but rather competent and listenable soul doo wop.  The connection between I'll Be Around and Truly Yours is that the vocalist is Bobby Smith and that producing them was Harvey Fuqua and William Stevenson which puts them more into Doo Wop at times with Tomorrow May Never Come and come to think of it, you can hear echoes of I'll Be Around to a lesser degree with Truly Yours which did managed to get some chart action in the mid 60s.  Since Harvey Fuqua wasn't as noteworthy as say Smokey Robinson or Holland/Dozier/Holland he tended to favor more of a dated soul sound such as That's What Girls Are Made Of or I'll Always Love You, a song that must have been a requirement of Motown singers to cover, The Isley Brothers probably the best version of said song.  The Funk Brothers band sound a bit less inspired but more polished on the numbers, The Original Spinners shows The Spinners still looking for a sound to call their own.  Later on, G C Cameron would come on board to give them a hit with the Stevie Wonder penned and produced It's A Shame.  To which later on The Spinners would lose Cameron as they left Motown for Atlantic but Cameron suggested one Phillipe Wynne to replace him and the rest they say is history.
Grade B

Steve Hillage-Motivation Radio (Atlantic 1977)

To me Hillage was part reason why the mid 70s Gong was tolerable, he seemed to be a calm among the storm of craziness that was Gong and Motivation Radio is more accessible and preferable to Gong. Somewhat progressive in a way but also suggesting something along the likes of Hawkwind, I enjoy Motivation and Light In The Sky leading up to the six minute Radio. Side 2 owes more toward Gong, with Saucer Surfing leading up the chaotic beginning of Waiting For The Spark.  A fine record despite a blah cover of Not Fade Away.  Sometimes it's better leaving the cover versions be.
Grade B+


Album of my youth: Tom Petty/The Heartbreakers Damn The Torpedoes (Backstreet 1979)

The first time I heard of Tom Petty was from a article in Creem Magazine and at that time they were talking about his latest You're Gonna Get It, the last album he did for Shelter (somehow TP got the masters back to that and the first album and Gone Gator has kept them in print). I think they were on The Midnite Special which I went out and got the 8 track.   I know radio did not play Breakout around here, when I first heard that one it was from the FM Soundtrack to the movie.  The movie wasn't so great, the soundtrack was the sounds of the 80s, a blueprint of Corporate Rock from Steely Dan's FM (No Static At All) to Billy Joel to the Eagles and of course Boston's More than A feeling.  I'm getting off subject here, but while reviews of You're Gonna Get It was lukewarm, I thought it was great enough to warrant a solid B plus with the hits I Need To Know and FM classic Listen To Her Heart, which believe it or not ABC edited the damn song.  But Shelter was running into financial instability and Petty moved over to the fledgling Backstreet label which ironically was part of MCA Records, to which Petty would have a love hate affair for the next decade and half.  But at that time he was on Backstreet.

In some ways it was a success story on how Damn The Torpedoes came out of left field and became one of the classic rock albums of the 70s although the record took some time of getting going, beginning with Don't Do Me Like That and Refugee, now classic rock overplayed staples but one of those songs that if I play it in the car still sounds good, although countless repeats on The Fox makes you sick of hearing it.  Hooking up with hot shot producer and later label head Jimmy Iovine, the connection was perfect for the time.  Iovine has done wonders with other folks, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, however Iovine's production for Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge Of Town was muddy as hell, on DTT, Shelly Yakus (Blue Oyster Cult) brighten and polished up the Heartbreakers sound which made it radio perfect sound.

Over the 35 plus years of Torpedoes, the record did not wow me like Y.G.G.I.  It took plenty of effort to sit and listen through Refugee or Here Comes My Girl.  I was more into the power pop rock of Even The Losers or Complex Kid (Shadow Of A Doubt) or Century City or even the throwaway What Are You Doin In My Life, which is my favorite song off that album.   To which Classic Rock Radio doesn't play very often. Which is why it is my favorite song off that album.  Of course the variables of sound effects and odd things on the album showed Petty's sense of humor, the woman's voice at the beginning of Even The Losers, the Ping ping ping introduction before Century City and whatever the hell was at the end of What Are You Doin' kinda cheapen the album a bit but they do give the record something different. I suppose Louisiana Rain would have made a nice single of sorts or even Losers or Complex Kid, most of Torpedoes would have been perfect for the radio.  I am guessing this was Petty's high watermark album and anything after that would suffer, which they did on Hard Promises which begin a falling out period with MCA, when the label wanted to charge 8.98 and Petty said no and he'd would win that battle. By then Ron Blair opted out and the late Howie Epstein would take over.  For myself I got off the Tom Petty band wagon for a while before getting Let Me Up (I Had Enough) his 1987 underrated classic album.  Then Petty stuck it big with The Traveling Wilburys and a solo album Full Moon Fever which cemented his role as classic rocker, with a little help from Jeff Lynne.  Instead of keeping it simple, Petty then hooked up with Rick Rubin, who brought out the self indulgence with the bloated Wildflowers and Stan Lynch left after Into The Great Wide Open, replaced by Steve Ferrone (Average White Band) who has managed to stay in the Heartbreakers ever since. Ferrone is more professional but Stan Lynch was the driving backbeat, although a bit sloppy but perfect on the early Petty albums including Damn The Torpedoes.

The album has been remastered and reissued a few times on CD.  MCA issued the so so sounding Compact Price Series and then Universal and later Geffen restoring the inner sleeve pictures and on the last reissue the lyrics. And it's finally nice to finally read what Petty was singing.  Perhaps the song that speaks most out to me is Even The Losers, with the tag line at the coda, it's such a drag living in the past and for most of my life I seemed to be doing that, especially over some freshman girl in high school that I haven't seen since graduation.   Damn The Torpedoes the album, Tom Petty seemed to write songs that fit my moods or how I was feeling and didn't know it at the time.  And albums like these stay in my collection for that reason, they struck a chord with me that continues this to this day.  Even though Refugee and Don't Do Me Like That are still overplayed on the radio.
Grade A

TOWNEDGER RADIO: Broadcast number 7 (aired 4/15/15 on Lucky Star Radio)

Rose Of Jericho-Eleventh Dream Day
Not With A Bang-The Fanatics
Can't Stop The Music (he played it much too long) Hall & Oates
Lucifer Sam-Pink Floyd
Dirty Bird-Brant Bjork
Margo Known As Missy-The Judybats
Revenoor Man-George Jones
Let The Chips Fall-Jack Clement
Lynchin' Party-Bobby Bare (Happy 80th Birthday Bobby)
Wolfie (Demo)-The Townedgers
Silent E-Tom Lerner
Hold Me Tight-Ten Years After
P F Sloan-The Association
I Just Want To Make Love To You/Don't Want Your Money  Paraphernalia Tyrus
The Train-Ray Charles
Don't Let Go-Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen
You Can't Put Your Arms Around An Memory-Johnny Thunders