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.


Klaatu Barada-Nikto said...

Glad to hear you're getting into Tim Buckley. He was quite a talent. I have Hello and Goodbye, also Happy Sad which is a great album if you're in a mellow mood. Then I have a Live 1968 double disc CD where he does a great version of "Dolphins". And it is hard to believe its been 40 years since HOTD by Nazareth. I first heard it on LP brand new, then another friend had it on 8-track, then an old girlfriend bought me the LP. I never did like the transfer to CD. I thought it was too bright. Maybe they've remastered since then, I don't know. But it was one of the heaviest things around in '75.

R S Crabb said...

Howdy Starbro (you'll always be Starman to me) but perhaps I should call you by the name Klaatu ;)

When I think of Nazareth Hair Of The Dog rocked pretty hard, Loud N Proud was perhaps a slight more hardrocking but everybody in school had that copy (Hair Of The Dog) on 8 track or LP and yes the CD mastering is a bit brighter than the LP. By now, most of the stuff we listened to as teens are now 40 plus years old. Somebody made a cassette copy of Hair which I played most of the time, but the title track skipped, which I did get the 8 track later on.

I still find Tim Buckley to be an acquired taste on his later efforts although I would like to find Starsailor without taking out a second mortage on the home. I found his first album on LP for 50 cents a couple months ago and Goodbye And Hello a couple weeks later I'm sure Tim would made a good folk singer but I do believe he's was looking for a new sound and Goodbye And Hello and later albums he continued to redefine himself. Somehow FYE and Hastings had plenty of his 2 CD Anthology overview in the cheap bins (they were selling it fullprice even with the saw cuts in the jewel case-tsk tsk). They also had the Best Of in the 1.99 section which I picked up. I do think he did a good cover of Dolphins from Fred Neil and Tom Waits Martha. The first two albums remain the most accessible, Happy Sad Tim really begin to add more blues and jazz to his songs and it seemed to work for him fairly well although record sales begin to drop. Needless to say, nobody quite sounded like Buckley either. He had a style of his own. Cheers!