Monday, May 11, 2015

Week In Review: Johnny Gimble, American Idol Axed etc

The big story of the week was the passing of Johnny Gimble, the famed fiddler who played on Bob Wills' Playboys band and countless others.  What you did not know was that Gimble got to play Bob Wills on the Clint Eastwood Honky Tonk Man movie of the early 80s. He also played for a spell in Willie Nelson band of 1979 to 1981.  A regular on Hee Haw as well, he also played with Carrie Underwood in 2007.  His last album was in 2010 but a series of strokes ended this legend's life.  Seek out Merle Haggard's A Tribute To The Best Damn Fiddle Player In The World (or my salute to Bob Wills).  You'll hear plenty of Gimble's work on this record.

Another passing: Stan Cornyn, behind the scenes person who made Warner/Reprise the major label to be on back in the 60s and early 70s. He was a Warner executive who wrote the liner notes for the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Grateful Dead and even came up with a glorious ideal of a dream date with The Fugs. But the downfall of the merger of Time Magazine and Warner Brothers ended Cornyn's tenure at the WB and he retired from it all, even saying that the label was no fun anymore, endorsing greed over boogie.  You have to admit the old Warner Reprise ads were fun to read in the Hippie era, ending with the Randy Newman note: Once you get used to it, his vocals are really something.  And Stan was right.  Passed away from lung cancer at age 81.

Bobby Irwin, drummer for the Sinceros and later the likes of Nick Lowe, Julian Cope and Van Morrison passed away from a long illness, he was 62.  Irwin replaced Terry Williams in the new Nick Lowe band of the 80s and you can hear him play from Nick The Knife to The Rose Of England, the last classic albums of Lowe's era.

All good things must come to an end and American Idol will not be back after 2016.  FOX canceled the show after big declines in the ratings and A.I winners being forgotten the day after.  The best known of the bunch remain Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson   While the show bullshtted the folks of future stars today, those who did win had to do it their way, be it 19 Entertainment who gave them shitty music and bad autotuned arrangements.  Perhaps the most off the wall person of this show was one William Huang who bowed out gracefully and managed to get a couple albums recorded for  Koch Records.  American Idol was never watched on my TV, I thought it was bullshit from the word go, and perhaps the best known stars were the judges, the acid king Simon Cowell, the washed up Paula Abdul and one time funky bass player Randy Jackson but even Cowell saw the expiration date of this show expiring and left.  It contradicted things when you had Nicki (no talent) Minaj trying to give advice to a mall store winner about how to make it in music (if you had no booty, you may have well stay home, or if you can master the auto tune you can make a meager living wage too.  But not everybody could be like Carrie or Kelly, the former being the bigger success due to 19 Entertainment correct judgement that she'd be better off marketed as country.   Alas, American Idol is responsible for crap like the X Factor or The Voice, shows on how to get a contract and be controlled by the major labels for the winners, and poor reviews and a bee line to the dollar bins when nobody wanted the product.  Ever see or hear anything from Highlights of American Idol Season 6?  Neither do I.

After 7 years being online, No Depression is bringing back it's magazine in the fall.  They were one of the best music mags to come out in the 90s and 2000s and have continued to be online for the latest news and views.

Imagine that.  I haven't gone over 100 view a day since April 24th.  The Russians must have closed up the internet.  No, they didn't, Russia opened up the net for 188 views on Thursday, most coming from something called Lawgibb dot com, which is not related to music or law but porn.  Never thought that a music site would be so big in Russian porn land. Somebody in Russian thought that August Ames' ass would be here somewhere in Record World.  Let me know when you find her here, I know there's nothing of her anywhere in this blog.  So keep those inflated ratings coming Russian Comrades.  They don't do for shit for comments but at least it gives me the false security that somebody is actually reading this in Nyet Russia.  I know there's a pick of Nicki Minaj's bootay in here, unless Google took it out.....

Speaking of Nicki Minaj, I have a co worker that works in another department who looks a lot like her.  I'm terrible with names but I was grabbing a much needed tea in the comfort station and this attractive black girl comes up to me and commented that I look like the dude from Dumb and dumber (jeff daniels), yeah I get a lot of those comments when I grow my hair out I said, but most of the time I'm more of line of being my namesake Crabby. She laughed over that and mentioned my name most of the folk she knows were black.  I said the only other guy with my name is white too.  So I asked for her name and basically it's a name you can't forget.  First person that I ever came across with a full name of Amazing Grace!  Betcha I'll remember that name when we crossed paths again in the future.

For the bargain hunter who goes out to Goodwill in order to find something that I missed hearing the first time, I still continue to find things of note.  I know there's hoarder collectors that go to stores and buy 20 to 30 records in bulk and post them on facebook.  Which there's nothing wrong to that.  But I do question those who do buy 20 to 30 records in bulk and don't play them.  But I as continue to get older and continue to sort through endless piles of crap nobody wants in order to find the lost classic, I begin to wonder if the lines of being a music collector is blurring into being a record hoarder of sorts.  After all things do piled up around here since the maximum capacity of storage has been exceeded.  And then I have to donate the lesser stuff in order to free up space.  Which I then go out and buy more.  The endless cycle that has been a part of life for 50 plus years.  I'm still trying to figure out to get rid of unwanted beer cans from years ago. While fads have come and gone, records still remain the escape and whatever is found on the cheap. We buy more records, but have less time to listen to them all.  Goodwill here have announced that they will be moving into the former Drug Town location on Mount Vernon Road, which is getting to be more of slumsville. A few doors down they will also have a Smoky Joe's Cigarette and booze outlet store which will bring more of the low lifes out in that area.  The Drug Town store would be perfect for a thrift store. And that Goodwill will open up around August, weather permitting of course.

As I get older, the type of music listened to mirrors a  lot of what my father listens to, plenty of more country of the 50s and 60s  and the oddball rock and roll album.  Or whatever Half Priced Books throws in the dollar bins.  Which explains why I have a stockpile of George Jones LPs.   I think it gets to the point that I get tired of the overplayed classic rock crap and seek out alternatives.   No shortage of music for the music lover if he can find it but we have very little outlets to hear the lesser played.  Corporations bought up most of the AM and FM stations and the big three major labels spur out crap.  Garbage in garbage out.  And cable is just as bad if not worse.  So what can the bargain hunting hoarder do before he dies?  Continue to hit the thrift stores for vintage 45s albums and CDs and hope that the scavengers who post their finds left enough behind to share the wealth. 

Sometimes what might come across a bargain turns out to be a dud.  Imagine my surprise last Friday when I went up to Goodwill and found the 4 LP Chicago At Carnegie Hall with the booklet and posters in tact and all four records looking to be in good shape.  Only to find that two of the records skipped.  Alas, not a bargain at all and was donated right back.  Although I did keep one of the posters from this set.

Singles Going Steady Medley:

Games People Play-The Spinners (Atlantic 3265) 1975  People consider Pick Of The Litter to be their best overall album, that's debatable but this song is one of the better singles they ever did. A group effort, from the late Phillipe Wynne and Bobby Smith to Pervis Jackson's bass vocal and Henry Fambough's vocal, It's debatable who did the female vocal, some say Henry Fambough did that, Barbara Ingram is the female vocal from various source. Some say Carla Benson, some say Evette Benton. And nobody still knows.  Could have been Billy Henderson for all we know.  Maybe we'll never know.

Black Dog-Newcity Rockers (Critique 7-99451)  1987  The forthcoming of Hairball, that tribute band of all things 80s and hair metal perhaps, but I think this came from the mind of Bob Rivera the mastermind of those later on Twisted Christmas albums that he was famous for.  Some people cry sacrilege but the lead singer does know how to sing like Robert Plant.  So did Michael White, who did have his own Led Zeppelin tribute band and did a one off solo album for Atlantic  (with Mack (Queen) producing). Ken Kozdra is the Newcity vocalist on this.  B side Gun Shy is hair metal.

The Walls Came Down-The Call (Mercury 811 487-7) 1983  The life and legacy of Michael Been I tend to think came into view after I found their best of for a dollar and perhaps they were one of the better alt rock bands of the 1980s, although nobody talks of them that much. U2 gets all the attention and a lot of it is overrated, after all Corporate radio loves Pride (In the name of love) or Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.  No shortage of The Joshua Tree in the 2 dollar bins.  The Walls Came Down I have fond memories of hearing on the radio and on MTV and finding a 50 cent like new copy 45 ignited the long lost memories.  Side note: last time I went to Pawn America they had the other best of The Walls Came Down, Best Of The Mercury Years for a quarter and it included the B side Upperbirth.  The Hip O best of, contains selections from their MCA and Elektra years as well as the Mercury years plus a selection with U2.  Micheal Been was a underrated talent for sure.

Take Off-Bob & Doug Mc Kenzie (Mercury 76134)  1981  Good day eh?  Part of SCTV Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas played brothers Bob and Doug on Great White North, one of the more funnier part of SCTV when they were on TV, but translated over to record, The Great White North LP is a chore to listen to, especially boring B side Elron Mc Kenzie.  Which leaves the A side with guest star Geddy Lee from Rush to sing the chorus. Which leaves Bob and Doug fighting each other about who's playing what on the song.  While Rush gets the notion of Thinking Man's Prog Rock, they have maintained a sense of humor, even more so with Geddy Lee, who was a big fan of SCTV and signed off being guest singer. Too bad he couldn't get the other two players to join in on this little song.  That would have been fun to hear.

Examples of classic rock albums that I never bought:  Supertramp-Breakfast In America (1979)

Supertramp is one band that I'm surprised I have any of their albums.  This is not one of them.  In the end of the disco era, it was dying in 1979 but what passed for classic rock albums were bland unless it was Van Halen 2 or AC DC Highway To Hell.  Even The Godz Nothing Is Sacred, a album that I loved lots back then has dated badly and now seems more like a band trying to smack Eric Moore out that that same two note bass playing he did throughout the album.  But in 1979 you could not escape radio (or classic rock radio nowadays) without the mundane Logical Song which is one of the dumbest songs Roger Hogdson ever wrote.  I may be in the minority of that comment but I have never cared for that song and it remains a station switcher when it comes on.  The record isn't bad overall, the title track probably one of the better songs and third single Take The Long Way Home is still catchy provided if the Corporate radio doesn't play it 15 times a day.  Crotchety old  critic Robert Christgau was not impressed and preferred The Doobie Brothers over this album which may have been thrown in for shock value.  If nothing else Breakfast In America finally got that Genesis clone label critics bestowed upon Supertramp and later releases showed a progressive pop feel before Hodgson left and Supertramp carried on with Rick Davies in the half good Brother Where Are You Bound. LP and Hodgon's In The Eye Of The Storm. which I liked better.  Breakfast In America on the other hand is their classic to most fans but for myself I'll live without it and play their Crime Of The Century album should I want to hear Supertramp.   Breakfast In America remains a B minus album.

More Pointless Reviews Of The Week:

Frank Sinatra-Ultimate Sinatra (Capitol/Universal) 2015

Long gone before his 100th birthday came up this year, there's really nothing much I can say to add to the legacy that was the original teenage heartthrob and Rat Pack member, and this old aging rock and roller never was a big Frankie fan although I did try out some of his classic albums (Only For The Lonely and the one with Antonio Jobim).  The 4 CD is more extensive but in this day and age basically a cash grab by Universal as I hear various grumblings on Amazon about the single CD has a bonus track not on the box set and vice versa.  The cut off point is 1979 with the pointless Duets that was done toward the end of the Chairman Of The Board's career not on the single disc retrospective.  For a overview, erratically put together with an alt take  of Just In Time in place of Nice N Easy but then again putting together a single disc of Frank's music is going to be omitting a key track or two. In this day and age, this Mix CD does begin with All Or Nothing At All, which I knew so well from the old Looney Tunes cartoons and it touches most of the hits of Frankie's career (One For My Baby, Come Fly With Me, Love And Marriage, New York New York) and most of his stellar Reprise years (Strangers In The Night, Summer Wind, My Way).  I still concur that his Greatest Hits Volume 1 on Reprise is the only one you really need, for 60s music it does fit in along a world of Beatles and rock and soul taking over.  And I heard good things bout the Jake Holmes penned concept album that Frank did called Water Town. The Ultimate Sinatra is somewhat misleading but for a overall sampling of who Frank is and what he did is a competent best of, despite it being a cash grab as it is.
Grade A-

Various Artists-Super Hits Volume 3 (Atlantic 1968)

One of those early albums that I bought as a kid and still have to this day, I must say for a 50 cent Salvation Army find years ago it's not as beat up as originally thought.  Before K Tel stepped in, the major labels would put together a best of with singles of that day and era and soul and R and B could live hand in hand with rock and roll.  This is where I discovered Percy Sledge' Take Time To Know Her, and Arthur Conley's Funky Street which got plenty of AM airplay back then.  Side 1 still really holds up beginning with Tighten Up by Archie Bell and The Drells Aretha's Since You Been Gone and Sam And Dave's I Thank You (what no Soul Man?  I think that was on Volume 1) before giving the full version of Cream's Sunshine Of Your Love all four minutes of it. and concluding with Wicked Wilson Pickett's I'm A Midnight Mover.  Side 2 brings out The Rascal's A Beautiful Morning, Sweet Inspirations' Sweet Inspiration and another Aretha Franklin number with Think.  Perhaps the weakest track is Booker T's Groovin' before the album ends with the full 7 minutes of Vanilla Fudge You Keep Me Hangin On.  Which to this 45 collecting kid, never heard the full 7 minutes before.  Nevertheless, this album remains us why Atlantic Records was so highly regarded back then and why Led Zeppelin came calling and wanting their record out on Atlantic rather than Atco. Atlantic had the best soul music going around out there, thank the Aretha, Sam and Dave and Wilson Pickett and even the lesser known Percy Sledge, Sweet Inspirations and Arthur Conley could hold their own. While Groovin' is the weakest track it doesn't mean it's bad, it's fairly good, the calm before the storm that is You Keep Me Hangin On.  The soul music takes center stage on Super Hits 3, whereas the longest tracks are from the rock bands Cream and The Fudge.  That said, Super Hits Volume 3 remains a potent best of 1968,  a That's What I Call Music without the filler crap and a great reminder of how music was back then, with no Corporation separating rock and soul apart.   Which is why I love this album and thanks so much to Jane Carlsen for donating her copy to the thrift store so I can have this the past 40 years. Wherever she may be.
Grade A

Fats Domino-Domino 65 (Mercury 1965)

The fat man's tenure at ABC Paramount didn't yield a lot of hits, so he moved on to Mercury Records for a even more brief time there, two failed singles and this live album titled Domino 65.  Basically by the numbers of his hits and somebody at the Mercury department even failed to label Whole Lotta Loving which ends side 1.  But the surprise here is that the extended jams of  Please Don't Leave Me and Domino Twist and the band lead by Clarence Ford is very good, especially if that's Ford wailing away on sax.  For a Las Vegas gig, it does have a bit more New Orleans grit than Vegas Polish but that's the fun of Domino 65.  But the canned audience sound is just that, somebody got a applause record and turned it up loud.  Mercury records indifference pretty much made it a tax write off but for a throwaway album, Domino 65 is not bad at all.  Later surfaced as a two record set called The Complete Domino 65 Album with two albums of Fats Domino classics. But I like the single album better due to jams of Domino Twist and Please Don't Leave Me.
Grade B+

Love Nut-Baltimucho! (Big Deal 1998)

As a Cd collector/hoarder I look for certain labels that have certain types of music.  Not if anybody cares but Big Deal was a label that championed power pop music of the 90s and although the music was not as groundbreaking or memorable as the days of 20/20, Paul Collins Beat, Plimsouls, even The Knack, the 90s did have a few good bands of note:  Greenberry Woods, Velvet Crush, Matthew Sweet come to mind.  Big Deal survived for about 5 and half years trying to build up a roster of power pop bands but one of their better bands was Love Nut who wore their Cheap Trick and Utopia influences on their sleeve, I even hear The Cavedogs, another band that never got their due.  Ed Stasium (The Ramones) produced this album but from what I hear the guy who recorded The Pursuit Of Happiness Downward Road stayed home and the drums a bit more in the back.  The record is not perfect, the intro song is goofy and this would have been an much more classic  album had Crop Duster and the hidden track been left off, Crop Duster one of those songs with a Tomorrow Never Knows type of arrangement.  But in between we have two minute anthems such as Stolen Picture, Essex Hair or Miss Fortune that do Love Nut proud.  I suppose I should keep an eye out on their Interscope debut Bastards Of Melody (originally on Merken with a glow in the dark cover).  But as history shows, power pop bands always seem to get the raw deal and Love Nut was no different than The Plimsouls or 20/20, getting stiffed by a a major label and then having a more band friendly label go belly up soon after signing with them. Baltimucho! is a minor classic.
Grade A-

Jimmy Webb-Still Within The Sound Of My Voice (E One 2013)

For the guy who wrote Mac Arthur Park, he's better heard with others singing his songs, the late Richard Harris or Glen Campbell or Kevin Salem who did Wichita Lineman in a acoustic show years ago. Webb's albums have been too MOR, the only one I recommend was his 1977 Atlantic album El Mirage to which I overpaid a CD copy to replaced a scratched up LP.  Working with Elton John's band did bring the best out in him.  Twenty years before Suspending Disbelief was his last album,  a good but a snoozing album that I donated to the Salvation Army last November and last time I checked it was still there. Anyway, Webb came out of retirement to do this comeback album in the presence of well known Nashville musicians, and this record was aimed at country fans, to which nobody bought back then.  Webb pulls out some of his best known numbers and brings in the stars (Lyle Lovett, Keith Urban), past stars (America, Marc Cohn), a couple females for MOR value (Carly Simon, Rumer, Amy Grant (?)) but I basically bought this for the duet with Justin Currie of Del Amtri  fame on the countryish You Can't The Wrong Man Right.  And basically shows how Mac Arthur Park would have sounded had The Association decide the record this although I doubt they would have done the dobro solo on the jam part.  Brian Wilson adds the oohs and ahhs in the background.  Perhaps the best song off this album is Kris Kristofferson doing the spoken word that Glen Campbell didn't do on Honey Come Back.  Or the uptempo Lovett duet on lead off Sleepin In The Daytime. But like Suspending Disbelief, Webb gets too comfortable in the slower tempo songs that make Still Within The Sound Of My Voice, go on too long and it is a long album.  But if its any consolation, at least Sheryl Crow doesn't appear on it.
Grade B-

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