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:


Klaatu Barada-Nikto said...

Starman here. Keep up the good work, Crabb. You should publish your own vinyl collectors magazine. You know your music and you know the printing press. Take care.

R S Crabb said...

Hi Starbro

Miss talking to ya in the chats and talking tunes. Hope y'all doing well and great seeing ya once again ;)