Summer is here, so have been the rains and floods and other outdoor events. The uptown Amphitheater is being put to good use. ZZ Top and Blackberry Smoke will be playing outdoors in September. I am more inclined to see Blackberry Smoke more than that little ole band from Texas. This week Irish Fest came and went and Devon Allman played that night as well. Allman who is the son of Gregg Allman has been known to put together a great show. And the show went on despite 4 inches of more rain and more floods to deal with. We missed out on Tropical Storm Bill, which you can see the clouds from that storm in the southeastern skies. Forthcoming shows this weekend in Central City at the Linn County Fair is a AC DC tribute band and Sammy Kershaw and the ageless Leroy Van Dyke doing a afternoon show with Dave Dighton Band.
Here we are at the halfway point of 2015, another year to forgot. Another year of some dipshit going into a church and shooting innocent blacks who simply were praying for a better world. Another year of promise falling apart by more bullshit and bad luck. I can't recall another year which shit fuk luck has been the rule and not the exception. Another year to try to get better things into the house and on the net to hear net radio stations and Townedger Radio only to have once again, issues to which I couldn't listen to the whole program. And deciding to pull the plug after the 12th show. Technology has made things better but also the usual demons that screws things up, made it for the worse as well. There hasn't been a happy medium to anything this year. After trying out the new CD burner and finding that it doesn't even play the GD duplicate CDs has sucked the fun and life out of me. Why even try anymore? 2015 has been the year of No Fun. Looking for bargains in faraway towns, only to hit 8 out of 10 red lights and with red lights we get traffic jams and congestion. Or having some idiot either driving 10 miles under the speed limit, or some Bubba in a Pickup going 90 miles an hour, yacking on a cellphone and weaving in and out of traffic. I sit back and watch many folks, yacking on a cellphone while driving in cars with one headlight and they don't get pulled over. However, if you slow and go on a stop sign on a deserted road, only to find headlight pop up out of nowhere and relieve you of 200 dollars, you realize that you are under the frickle finger of fate's butt once again. Same thing while doing a cancer walk and have a fucking redwing trying to carve their initials in the back of your head. I think sometime in the near future I'll be buying a gun from the NRA and go shoot the flying bags of shit that poaches along each and every road sign here in Iowa. I'm not sure where the good times are at, but I do know that for everytime I think I'm going home in a good mood, mother nature will send yet another flying bag of shit upon me and we can relive the attack birds scene just like Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds. Can't win the lottery or have anything good happen to me, but boy oh boy we can have an angry redwing screeching at me.
And just like that, the GOP clown bus is now stopping here, a year and a half before the next bought out elections and already we have had Rick Perry ads shoved down our throats. Watching the news isn't much better with Big Pharma annoying the hell out of America with endless drug commercials. Cable and Satellite TV has never been worse than they are now, bad reality crap on each and every channel. Even The Weather Channel is now Bad Weather Reality Channel. Up at the car dealership which I got my car serviced on, they have the retired old guy Eldon up there. He used to be a salesman and a nice guy and I have seen and talked to him the last three or four times up there. When I do see him, he doesn't remember me, plus he loves to watch Fox News Channel. Which is why I go around Maquoketa looking for something else to do. But never in this life that we got so little to see to hear on so many channels that are available to us. Radio is just as bad if not worse. I tend to get a bit annoyed to hear the same songs from 30 or 40 years ago. Variety is the spice of life, but repetition is the pebble in your shoe, even if you do get it out, there's one or two more to take its place it seems.
That said, 2015 had its share of decent albums and good music although they have become few and far between. So far the best record remains Blackberry Smoke Holding All The Roses, Blur The Magic Whip, Delta Moon Low Down and Graham Parker Mystery Glue. A list that is a far cry from what Rolling Stone, or New Musical Express is touting. Forty years onward, I have slowed down a lot in terms of checking out new bands. The overhyped bands tend to have overhyped albums and in the end result got donated back for a few cents on the dollar. Of course it all boils down to if the albums will stand the test of time or just become footnotes and donated stuff at Goodwill. Even Mark Prindle brings up that Judas Priest Redeemer Of Souls is no better than Black Sabbath's 13, by the numbers heavy metal that doesn't tarnish the reputation of said bands. Mark didn't say that last sentence but I'm sure he may have thought it that way. Still, things haven't changed all that much, Apple continues to screw the artist with their lack of royalty payments and Bob Lefsetz continuing to tell us that if you're not streaming and if you're still buying albums and cds, you suck. Ever since getting the new computer I have not paid much attention to his latest rants. A hoarder always, I have no use for streaming and paying for it, that's why we still have CDs and discman players. Nice to know Bob can pay or get the new technology, while in my case this new computer is already outdated. But then again, get too many records and your place can collapse, just like an old antique store in San Diego did. But then again and again, Lefsetz probably lives in a studio which he could only fit about 100 records or cds in. Which is why he continues to tout the albums he grew up with and gets pissed off at unsolicited music from the young ones. If you want to retire get out of the way Bobbie boy, says an old 60's band.
The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame aka Jann Wanner's favorite bands Incorporated have decided to get rid of a few known rock critics and former A and R men in favor of getting hip with the times. The two big names that stood out for me was Greg Geller and Joe McEwan, the latter who put out some great reissues and compilations on Warner Brothers in the 90s and Greg Geller, one of the more knowledgeable guys on R and B acts. It really makes no sense to continue harping and bitching about how bad the Hall has become over the years, now with Wanner and Jon Landau being larger than life itself and continue to dictate the rules, it makes one cringe to read about who gets in next year. I'm sure both Geller and McEwan has something to do with getting The Five Royales, a R and B band from the 50s that recorded for King Records indicted and pissing the masses off. But in this life nothing ever makes sense unless you have plenty of dollars and are related to the success of Bruce Springsteen. Then again rock and roll hasn't been rebellious since Mitch Miller was doing his sing alongs. And that was a long long time ago my friends.
Cat Logic: Since posting his photo, Adolf has disappeared or gone back to his family. No big loss to me but to Callie, our outdoors cat, I think she's been a bit lonely, now that Rocky Rococo met a sad and tragic ending, he ventured into unfriendly yard and a neighbor shot him. There was a feeble reason that Rocky was killing the guy's cat, to find I call bullshit. Rocky had three legs and Callie used him as a punching bag. I don't think he was all feral, he could come up to you if you had food in your hands but he did have a hard life, venturing in and out of this town and scrapping and coming out on the losing end on cat fights. Unlike Callie, who continues to remain in this yard ever since she showed up unannounced seven months ago. I could handle her jumping on the cars and taking a snooze on the old gray POS, she seems to like that car the best. She does know when to hide when the June Monsoons hit the area and only comes out when things pass over. It takes getting used to her, but she does come as someone I can talk and bitch about the day I am having and rubs my legs as if to tell me things will be better. I sure hope some day.
Every June, it's big storms and this year is no exception. We have about 8 inches of it this month but the main difference this year is the basement improvements that has kept the water out of my livelihood. And why didn't we get this done sooner is a good question. I have seen rivers of rainwater go through the drains and coverts outside here, last year I'd be taking time off and drying out the basement but with a new sump pump and a nice little indoor moat, we don't have the running creek going through the basement anymore. Last year at this time, we had the tornado hurricane that gave us 9 inches of rain, knocking out power and making this the worst time I ever spent in this house. And things are still not in order a year later. But it's nice not having an ulcer wondering when the water seeps in and taking a week's vacation time trying to dry things up. And perhaps the only good argument of streaming stuff, especially after losing my Dio, Metallic, Jesus And Mary Chain and part of The Rolling Stones Cds as they fell into the water of last year. Nice to have some piece of mind but I still fucking hate rain.
Finally, Happy 62nd birthday to Paraphernalia/Tyrus vocalist Mike Swearingen, still of my favorite vocalists of all time. And the best vocalist that I have had the pleasure of being with. I think we blew his voice out of Highway To Hell or Rocky Mountain Way but he remains a character of sorts and why he's not in the Iowa Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (although Bob (legend in his own mind) Dorr is in there twice). Mike has played in many bands of note here in Iowa, Swede is the best known of them. I look forward to jamming with him one more time before we all die of old age, or injuries suffered from a pissed off Redwing blackbird. That said, he's a great guy. Happy Birthday Mike.
Randy Rogers, who will be playing here in July, lost his daughter born six days before her passing talks about the disease that took the life of Rumer Rain Rogers. http://www.people.com/article/randy-rogers-newborn-daughter-dies-nonketotic-hyperglycinemia?xid=socialflow_facebook_peoplemag
Frank Cho, one of the more interesting cartoonists out there: http://apesandbabes.com/
Bill Bentley has replaced Al Kooper on The Morton Report but he puts together his best of 2015 (the first half that is). Can't argue with most of the selections. http://www.themortonreport.com/features/bentleys-bandstand/bentleys-bandstand-best-albums-of-2015-the-first-half/?fb_ref=Default
We used to laugh and cringe at this, now we embrace it thanks to bad rap, bad beats and Florida Georgia Line, beautiful music. WMT FM was one muzak station. KAHM out in Prescott continues the beautiful music of James Last, Frank Crackenfield and Barry Manilow. I discovered this by accident back in 2008 but from time to time when Lucky Star Radio bangs out the gargle metal and I have to recollect my thoughts. http://www.kahm.info/
NOTE: Kahm has quit steaming, but you can find them on the radio dial should you venture into that part of Arizona.
Happy birthday Donna Will aka Brooksie, one of my favorite music friends out there and who used to have her own blog of top ten songs of the week. I suppose I should put it to rest but I always valued Donna's opinion on new music and got me to listen to The White Stripes and become a fan. It's been about two years since we last talked. Perhaps she found the ideal guy and got married again and turned off the computer, or maybe she did join with a traveling hippie consortium that hang out at Widespread Panic concerts. She'll always will have a special place in my heart and I hope she's doing all right. We got together in 2004 for a five day jaunt around Washington DC and Gettysburg. One more smooch...for the good times and beyond. Much love.
This week's reviews:
Midnight Oil-Redneck Wonderland (Columbia 1998)
The two selections that were selected for their best of, were some of the weakest tracks on this angry comeback album which turned out to be their final Columbia platter but it does use some interesting angry guitar and EDM beats, before EDM became the rage. Somebody must have been listening to the Prodigy. I'm sure co producer Magoo was responsible for that. But nevertheless Peter Garrett is pissed off at the world as the title track suggest, and even the next two songs Concrete and Cemetery In My Mind continues this love fest with beats and distorted guitar. This album falls out of favor as Garrett shouts through a bullhorn or through distortion on Return To Sender and BLOT. I donno, while there's moments that showcase the anger that does recall their classic years, although nothing does sound as vital as Beds Are Burning or New Sky Mining. Drop In The Ocean actually ends things on a more quieter note, I do like the anger that Garrett bestows in songs like Redneck Wonderland or White Skin Black Heart but the album tires me out if I listen to it all the way through.
The Best Of Dick Dale and His Del Tones (Rhino 1989)
For the self proclaimed King Of The Surf Guitar, Dick Dale played some of the more wildest surf music, in comparing him with Link Wray or Duane Eddy, I think Eddy was the more popular although Eddy favored more pop numbers than both Link or Dick. I'm also guessing Wray was the more raw of the trio but the most ferocious was Dick Dale with Misirlou, the song that defined him. While Better Shred Than Dead covered almost everything Dale recorded including a early 90s album that I can't recall, the single Rhino edition is basically his best known Deltone and Capitol singles and albums. Like Link Wray, singing was not one of Dale's better suits but get the girls singers to sing King Of The Surf Guitar and Wray's guitar does the talking. He also wails away on Mr. Eliminator and Nava Nagila, but the final song Pipeline is special, Stevie Ray Vaughan guest stars but lets Dale do most of the lead guitar playing. In this day and age, kids probably don't care or want to hear surf music but those with a open mind will enjoy these 18 songs of surf and turf mini classics. If you don't like this music, you're a Ho Dad.
Dick Feller-Dick Feller Wrote (United Artists 1974)
One of those singer songwriters that probably were too quirky or too good at their craft than most country artists at that time, Feller's songs were covered by Jerry Reed, John Denver and a few others. He was good at story telling and was a very underrated fingerpicker guitarist. He could be as sentimental as Bobby Russell (He of Honey and Saturday Morning Confusion fame) or write a song like Tom T Hall (Feller's Daisy Hill comes to mind) but his forte was the novelty number (The Credit Card Song, Lord, Mr. Ford). Like Tom T Hall, he tends to pepper songs with cutesy kiddie background singers (Nobody Rides A Train), but sometimes those kiddies songs turn out to be coming of age songs. Case in point: Biff The Friendly Purple Bear, a anti Cats In The Cradle song about a child that outgrows his stuffed animal. Or Jericho Springs, one of them tragedy love songs that reminds me of Knoxville Girl done by the Stanley Brothers years ago. Dick Feller Wrote is a fine album that did so so but I'm keen to seek out his Asylum record No Word On Me which was released a year later, which had his best known number Making The Best Of A Bad Situation. To which being the only country artist on Asylum might have been Feller's theme song.
Albums Of My Youth-The Best Of Z Z Top (London 1978)
That's right folks, before they were on Warner Brothers, that little ole band from Texas spent their 70s on London Records which wasn't the same label when The Rolling Stones was labelmates. In fact London Records was in a disarray although their 8 tracks looked real neat, all blue. And basically their London albums still hold up, although who in their right mind decided to redo the drum tracks for that dated 80s drum sound on ZZ Top Six Pack (and reissues) was a dumb idea. Warner Brothers thankfully decided to keep the original mix at hand on the first of many many best ofs, the first Best Of ZZ Top remains the best of the bunch, before Tube Snake Boogie, before Gimme All Your Lovin' which Corporate Classic Rock Radio has ruined forever. Of course, La Grange is their theme song, about a cathouse shack (you know what I'm talkin' about), the perfect Billy Gibbons tongue in cheek song all the way to the John Lee Hooker how how hows. When I bought the 45 that song was an edit, just like B side Just Got Paid. All of the songs off Best Of, were bar band favorites, from Tush to Heard It On The X, and Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers. The only song I never warmed up to was the deep blues of Blue Jean Blues, too slow for my liking and this best of ignores Tejas, their most underrated album. (Arrested While Driving Blind, It's Only Love) which is why I probably don't like it as much as I originally did back then. But at least this record keeps the drum mix in tact and shows ZZ Top to be the most stripped down back to basics rock blues band before they decided to upgrade to vintage cars and scantly cladded women in the 80s. Back then they had that formula down pat. All the way to the medley of Waiting For The Bus/Jesus Just Left For Chicago, and even Francine, which does hint toward Gimme All Your Lovin. Music with hooks and a catchy chorus.
And The Townedgers finally made the net radio bigtime, scoring with their first number 1 hit with We All Sleep Alone, from Forthcoming Trains. I'm in shock but ecstatic that after 33 years, we're an overnight sensation. How cool is this.
We All Sleep Alone actually unseated Abi Ann's summer hit of 2015 Future Ex Boyfriend from number 1 to number 2. Her song would sound quite nice on Americana Radio, but she's opening for Kelly Clarkson on Kelly's summer tour. Check her out if you can. Abi Ann is this month's eye candy.