Monday, July 27, 2015

Week In Review: Ragbrai Wrap Up, No Hit Cubs, Music

The RAGBRAI week has come and gone, and it was interesting for the fact that most of the places I used to live at were on this year's route with the exception of Nevada.  Unlike 2012's historic run, this year I didn't participate much in the festivities, Dennis De Young in Hiawatha, Cheap Trick in Coralville and various other bands playing in towns along the way.  The only encounter was trying to get through Mount Vernon and the few 100 bike riders who chose to write the rules their own way and stray off the the roads they were supposed to be on.  However, my co worker and former manager Jeff Harper decided to do this year's RAGBRAI and he managed to do the whole thing from Sioux City to Davenport, with a couple of flat tires on the final day he managed to enjoy the fruits of his labor by dipping his tires into the Mississippi River.  He says he's hoping to do that again in the near future.  Congratulations Jeff, you did a fine job.

Unlike the Chicago Cubs who really messed up this weekend and the lowly Philadelphia Phillies came into town and not only swept the hapless and hitless home team, Cole Hamels no hit the Cubs for the first time in fifty years since Sandy Koufax out-dueled Bob Hendley in the 1965 Koufax perfect game.  Sunday  with the wind blowing out, Phillies teed off on Jason Himmel who even called his pitching performance "garbage" and it showed.  Only thing good that came out was David Ross showing the relief pitchers how to get outs and then in the bottom of the ninth hit his first home run of the year.  Although the Cubs are still 4 games above 500, this Philadelphia sweep feels like the usual fold job that the Cubs are famous for.

To further rub it in fans faces, ESPN showed the infamous 30 for 30 show about the infamous Steve Bartman show, to which the dude, and about five other CUBS fans going after a foul ball that messed up Moises Alou's chances of catching it.  Of course people like to use scapegoats, and Cubs fans will turn on one of their own, never mind the fact that Alex Gonzalez, booted the ball and Florida scored 8 runs soon afterwards in that 2003 Hell game.  Too bad they didn't get Bartman out to pitch for the Cubs, he could have done no worse than half the idiot bullpen that inning.  History has been more kinder to Alex more than Steve, but it all goes to show that we're all human, and humans will mess up. For some messing up comes at pivotal parts of the game and infamy becomes that.  I admire Steve Bartman for staying out of the spotlight unlike others would've like to kill him on that foul ball.  Till the Cubs even make the World Series (if ever) Bartman is better off being incognito when he's in Chicago.

Rod Stewart came into town and delivered one of the best shows ever at the Five Seasons Center (or so says Diana Nollen) Friday Night.  I had a couple friends that echoed that statement although I didn't feel paying 75 dollars to see Rod the Mod, but contrary to rumor, the man does put on a great show although he hasn't made any albums that grabbed my attention since Never A Dull Moment. You can read Diana's glowing review (provided if you can answer the 25 questions they seem to have in order to read reviews anymore, fucking internet rules)

The next night the ageless Roger McGuinn came to the Paramount to play in front of a small crowd and technical problems but as a storyteller he had a few ones to share.

The Jones County Fair came and went as well, from sell out shows from Tim McGraw.  Next year the country follies continue with Carrie Underwood and junk rappers Florida Georgia Line being the first two artists to headline.  We'll see if the expiration date had expired on the two autotuned chipmunks but Carrie Underwood has withstood the test of time and 10 years on has proven to be one of the best known artists of this decade.  Still, Farce The Music will have plenty of barbs to throw at FGL from now till when the beatbox autotuned goofballs hit the stage.

Monday marks the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway which is basically part of US 30 in this neck of the woods and the original road is from Mount Vernon to Cedar Rapids on what's called Mount Vernon Road.  But the Lincoln Highway is a coast to coast road and plenty of highlights and old historical can be found on that road.  Perhaps  a trip to Ames might work wonders this year.  For the most part this weekend I did Waterloo.  Found some vintage 45s at Goodwill in Independence and St. Vincent De Paul in Waterloo, the latter's music room a fun place to hang out and try to find keepers in those Herb Alpert, Gospel and Lawrence Welk albums, which i didn't find anything of note.  The Goodwill in Crossroads Mall is where the old FYE used to be at, which used to be Disc Jockey, which used to be Camelot Music, that same area where I spent many a time at various record stores.  While Crossroads continue to still be around, most of the places of note are long gone and now houses plenty of empty buildings.   St Vincent De Paul remains the destination place, although it looked like that Stuff Etc dumped a lot of their unwanted CDs up there and I did get Terry Reid The Driver CD, which was a Stuff Etc reject.  And probably should have left it there.

Bobbi Kristina Brown, in Hospice care for the past month joins her mom in the afterlife.  She was 22.

Vic Firth passed away at age 85.  He made the best drumsticks around.

This weekend bought the first ever B sides get together in Cleveland. While I didn't go there, Mark Stegall did and sends this report in... B-SIDE RECAP....Where to begin? Well, I'd first like to thank those who came to was a spectacular day and there were thousands and thousands at the Hall (we were smart for arriving early).  The accommodations were terrific at the Holiday Inn Express (even though Kyle had a temporary compulsion to drive his Honda into the swimming pool ala Keith Moon). Since the pool was small and inside the building I convinced him that might shorten the weekend. Bill Pearson and his wife went to the Indians/Sox game Friday night and watched Jose Quintana shut out the tribe. Kyle and I watched it from his room. I wasn't planning on going to the game on Saturday but since Kyle and Craig were and since Chris Sale was pitching they talked me into it. Our dinner was good, pretty quiet place but gave us a chance to visit and Bill shared with me a top 40 survey from 1966 with his DJ mug on it which I promptly had him autograph for me. Kyle got online from the hotel and got me an absolutely great seat to the game about 25 rows from the field behind home plate. I sat behind the guy who created the Larry Doby sculpture which they dedicated that night and they had bobbleheads too but we got there too late for those. The Sox pummeled the Tribe 10-3 and I giggled like a little kid throughout the game. Overall, I knew I would enjoy these guys but I have to say Kyle, Craig, Bill and Owen were terrific people to meet and my wife and I just had a splendid time. If you didn't go, you missed out on some great fun. The Hall of Fame was truly secondary to friendship and brotherhood of kindred spirits.

Since I wasn't there, I showed support by wearing the T shirt at a jam session. Sounded like fun.   That's Guitar Dave Bonham on bass and T Ray Robertson on guitar.  Yours truly on beer cans.

Gotta love Willie Nelson and his portrayal of  Donald Trump as  Dr. Booger Nelson.  He might be 82 but Willie still has that dry sense of humor that I find so appealing.  Go get em Booger er Willie ;)

Reviews: (photo credit: Michelle Annette-Granillo)

Robbie Robertson (Geffen 1987)

Robbie is lot like John Fogerty, both were the creative force behind their respective bands But as a solo artists, Robertson is the more scattershot.  And there's always been a love/hate affair with Robertson's two albums for Geffen, to which the first, is the least bloated of the two.  A lotta hype went with this album, plenty of guest stars (Peter Gaberial, U2, Bo Deans, even Garth Hudson and Rick Danko appear although in limited duties)   It's not that songs are bad, I always have a soft spot for Showdown At Big Sky and American Roulette, but 28 years after the fact, the record sounds weird.  The odd duet of Somewhere Down The Crazy River with Sammy Llamas now formerly of The Bo Deans and wanted to be like Peter Gaberial on Fallen Angel. Given that Robbie used the drummer for Peter's band at that time, maybe he was trying to strip away any reminder that he was once part of The Band.  And the real seriousness of the music sinks the whole thing as well, Robertson trying to make that grand statement and doesn't quite pull it off.  Also Robertson can't sing.  It's one thing if Tom Waits or even Leonard Cohen singing songs in a earnest way, but there's a reason why Levon or Rick or Richard sang Robbie's songs.   Also this record belongs to Daniel Lanois more so, he of U2 Joshua Tree fame finally getting his sound down.  It was a big budget album which now you see more often in the dollar bins and wondered what was the big fuss all about.  I don't know, I have bought this twice and donated it twice and probably donate this copy back to Goodwill as well.  While Robbie Robertson, the album was a strong attempt to reclaim past glories and his heart was in the right place, it's too serious and no fun.  And it could have used Levon Helm as well.
Grade C+

The Sunshine Band-The Sound Of Sunshine (TK 1975)

Ah yes, but without K.C, The Sunshine Band was more like a damp rainy day.   On this tepid reissue of their bland 1975 album, we get 9 songs that times in at around 26 minutes and about four variations of Rock Your Baby, the big hit with George McCrae, which without his vocals turns this into Muzak Disco.  Nothing wrong with instrumental albums, Sandy Nelson and Duane Eddy made a decent living doing that. But these numbers do sound like unfinished demos and uninspired attempts to get people out on the dance floor but more likely folks leaving for bathroom breaks.  Robert Christgau nailed them good when he gave this thing a D plus and he may have been right.  When KC and the boys put words and groove, you get classics like Get Down Tonight or That's The Way I Like It.  Without vocals and no grooves, it puts you to sleep.
Grade D+

311 Greatest Hits 93-03 (Volcano 2003)

In the so called alternative music world of today you seldom hear much of 311 anymore although they are still around and mostly intact but at one time they were one of Capricorn's better selling artists of the 1990s when the late Phil Walden revived that label.  311 hailed from Omaha Nebraska, which I considered to be a regional band.  20 years ago, their S/T album broke them, with the hit Down and followup All Mixed Up.  I'm surprised I still have that album on the shelf, probably of the anti gun Guns Are For Pussies which would make a nice protest song in this day and age.  Later albums showed Nick Hexum taking over and 311 moving toward reggae influenced type of music, and the last album I cared about was Transistor went on a bit too long but the title track and Beautiful Disaster are classic songs themselves.  Used to be Greatest Hits packages showcased the hits before Corporate Rock Radio dumbed things down and best ofs are nothing more than a mix tape the labels put out.  311 Greatest Hits is that, it gives you about an hour's worth of what made 311 one of the stand out bands of the 90s along the likes of Sugar Ray or to an lesser extent Smash Mouth.  I think 311 is probably the lesser pop friendly of all bands mentioned.  This overview which also includes a couple then new songs that aren't too bad and a cover of The Cure's Love Song, to go along with the loud quiet loud and big ending songs such as Beautiful Disaster or Down.  A good overview and resume of a surprising long and varied career.
Grade A-

Ohio Express-Golden Classics  (Collectables 1994) 

In essence, Tommy James and The Shondells were the greatest bubblegum band ever.  Don't believe me, play anything from the Ohio Express or 1910 Fruitgum Company or any other Buddah artists at that time (except Melanie of course), but Joey Levine may be the best bubblegum vocalist, although Ron Dante or Tony Burrows might concur.   As a 7 year old, I was known to sing Yummy Yummy Yummy or Chewy Chewy, the latter the best known of bubblegum pop, as if you can chew gum to the beat.  Even among the groans and graffaws of rock and roll purists, bubblegum did serve a purpose.  Compare Ohio Express to the nowadays pop artists (FGL or what the Disney Channel touts for pop stars) and their music holds up a lot better than say, Cruise, or My Kind Of Night.  Perhaps the best of the Buddah bands, The Ohio Express might be responsible for the coming of The Bay City Rollers, easy to sing along chorus to the songs, but the Express did borrow a few things from Tommy James, like the chorus to Down At Lulu's (which they borrowed pieces of Love's Closing In On Me from TJ) which might be their best song.  Yummy Yummy Yummy you'll either love it or hate the earworm that eats away at your brain, although once again the source points to Mony Mony for the introduction.  They were a singles band and sometimes they can stumble upon a groove, as indicated on the cheesy Roll It Up or Firebird but when they went hippy dippy they were laughable and awful (Turn To Straw).  While Joey Levine was the main vocalist on the hits, he wasn't present on perhaps their best song Sausalito  (Is The Place To Go) which was done by none other than Graham Gouldman and Hotlegs who later did Neanderthal Man for Capitol a year later.  Then became 10cc.  For a period piece,  Golden Classic covers the good, the bad and the ugly.  But sometimes the world does need a Yummy Yummy Yummy to combat to dire seriousness of U2 or Radiohead, or show the world they had a bigger IQ than Tyler Hubbard and the other FGL dude.
Grade B-

Happy birthday to the one and only Buddy Guy who turns 79.  He wrote an autobiography a couple years ago which told some stories about some of the various Chess artists that were alive, Little Walter, Muddy Waters and Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson 2) the latter one of more cantankerous bluesmen in music history.   Buddy was instrumental in shaping up some of the sounds of Chess Music, playing acoustic guitar with Muddy Waters on the Folk Singer LP, hooking up with Koko Taylor on Wang Dang Doodle.  He had a love/hate affair with Junior Wells throughout their long career together but calls Wells his best friend.  Guy helped Wells out on the Hoodoo Man Blues LP for Delmark but in the book Guy didn't think much of the Atco LP Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play The Blues, although Friday Music did expand the record to 2 CDs, it's not one of the crown jewels in Guy's catalog.  If nothing else, Buddy Guy just might be the last living bluesman to be connected to the past, even jamming with Lonnie Johnson before Lonnie passed away. He's known John Lee Hooker, BB King, Albert King, Ike Turner, Big Mama Thornton for many years before they all passed.  He jammed with Jimi Hendrix and an up and coming youngster Stevie Ray Vaughan.  And he continues to influence the newbies that are in the blues world, Devon Allman and Samantha Fish comes to mind.  He has no intention of slowing down.  So with that, I give out a shout out salute and birthday wishes to the one and only Buddy Guy and hopefully maybe meet him someday face to face at Legends in Chicago.   One of the last original bluesmen standing and perhaps one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet too.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Week In Review: RAGBRAI, Davenport, 1000th Post

Somewhere along the way I posted my 1000th post here in  I'm sure I am over that, some postings got deleted along the way.  For 9 years now I have been part of this social place of venting and talking music.  Social media outlets don't have a long shelf life, I've starting out in Classic Rock and moving to Steve Anthony's Yardbird's Roost in 2003 for this long journey, and then branched out to the fledgling My Space in 2006 and losing most of the prized blogs when they threw out past entries by incompetence, which I managed to save most of the 2008 year but 2006 and 2007 I did not.  Another move to Multiply also turned out to be a bust as well.  Through it all, Blogspot has outlasted them all.  Here's hoping that I don't jinx this site and lose everything I worked on since then.

By now you have heard of the All Nude Bike Ride Day that was held up in St Louis last week.  Heard everybody had a good time but I forgot all about that event, which I thought about going.  Perhaps next year but that's not the end of the bike rides.  In fact......

This week marks RAGBRAI, where thousands of bike riders take part in bike riding across this state, in humidity, hot sun and monsoons.  This route is very interesting since most of the stops are in areas that I used to live in or live around and chances are I won't see this lineup ever again. Huey Lewis and The News kicked things off with a show in Sioux City and overnight stays in Spirit Lake, Fort Dodge, Eldora, Cedar Falls, Hiawatha, Coralville and Davenport, five of the seven towns a part of my history.  Unlike the last Ragbrai which did go through my place to Anamosa in 2012  the riders will be going through County Home Road onto Springville and down the backway to Mount Vernon and through Sutliff over to Solon before making its way to Coralville that night. Amazingly the last day, the road to Davenport will cover parts of highway 6 and past Wolcott, on what used to be old highway 6 before things end at the Mississippi River.

Which leaves us into the next segment.  With the Arizona vacation scrapped, I took in a weekend getaway at Davenport.  It sounded like a good idea at the time but in the dead of summer heat and humidity it made watching the Quad Cities River Bandits/Cedar Rapids Kernels rivalry a bit more sweaty and of course it didn't help having my seat section being overrun by yet another yacking woman on a cell phone and texting, or having The Stupids sit being you and getting up every other pitch.  The Bandits this season were 5-0 in games I watched them play and going to Davenport's John O'Donnell is fun way to watch them.  Cedar Rapids came back to win that game 4-3 with a two run 9th inning.  Sitting in the seats with a hot and sweaty crowd didn't do much for me, so next game I returned back out to the Berm Section I.E. the outfield.  The humidity was gone the next day and the sun shined through and Quad Cities came back to win that game 5-1.   The Kernels are my hometown team but for some reason when the rivalry heats up, QC seems to win.  It's fairly nice to hang out in the outfield section and not having to deal with texting and cellphone talking mommas although there was no shortage of smokers trying to sneak one behind the center field wall and hope the ushers don't catch them.  Of course, the rivalry will continue into the playoffs, QC and CR will hook up in September.  Which means I'll return to the Quad Cities again.

Fact of the matter was the bargain hunts were slightly better than last time although the Salvation Army didn't have very many 45s.  All of the jukebox copies that were there the last past months were either taken to the landfill or somebody bought a old jukebox.  I found a few off the wall CDs for a dollar, Melanie's Greatest Hits, Hank Thompson, Shawn Phillips and Crew Cuts on Campus (review later) and did stop to see Bob at Ragged Records and have him relieve me of 25 dollars of some chosen 45s (a blog about that later).  To which 15 minutes before closing Bob then mentioned that he did have the treasure trove of unsorted 45s in the back room ready to be looked at, but by then I spent my limit and told him I'll be back in a month or two.   I managed to find a couple of LPs at Goodwill which was even more shocking.  The Cleddus Maggard White Knight album (reviewed later) and Jackie Lomax Three which is a better album than the Apple Is This What You Want thing Jackie made before going to Warners and like Badfinger getting the cold WB shoulder as his records got nil promotion.  Alas, the Stuff Etc half priced sale, I came up with nothing, they were picked clean.   While I had my share of stop lights and dumbass drivers, this trip was actually not as stressful.  Getting a motel room was a different story since most of the places in Davenport were booked and the trick was trying to weave around dumbass walkers who would not get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Somehow I ended back up at Walcott at a Days Inn and not getting much sleep and having to deal with crap cable shows and a body that would let me sleep.  I basically don't watch cable anymore, the commercials are on every five minutes and most of them are Big Pharma drug spots to get the masses of folk to talk to your doctor about getting a new drug habit.  The dumbing down of America continues, all the way down to some model touting Viagra, which thank God that no more John Lee Hooker or Howlin Wolf songs are used anymore but everytime I see a ED Big Pharma spot I just want to take a baseball bat to the TV set.   Perhaps I should have just gone home Saturday Night but I wanted to take in a Sunday Baseball game so I threw a 100 spot at Days Inn, spent a sleepless night and stayed over for another day.

Unlike Madison, Davenport doesn't have record stores that stay open on Sunday.  Except for the Moline Co Op Records store to which I had to cut that visit short due to Mr. Funny Bowels and a run to the McDonald's toilet.   It's been a war between me and this body on each and every bargain hunt that I do, at some point you gotta go and basically after a while I just get tired of this and stay home and not plan for a long term trip out of here.  I'm sure a Mad City trip is forthcoming soon but anything that lasts more than a day is getting to be no fun and hell.  It's a bitch getting old.

Elizabeth Chaffe and the Lizzy Williams will make their way to Nue Studio and Cafe Friday on Melrose in not so sunny Los Angeles.  She continues to work on new songs and hopefully we'll get to hear that new album I've been bugging her about ;-) 

For those who like to cheat on their significant other, The Ashley Madison site got hacked and the hackers are threatening to expose the cheater's information out to the rest of the world.  Not that I care that much about it, but it seemed like a good idea to give this some newsworthy space. 

Passings: David Somerville, the voice of The Stroll and Little Darlin from The Diamonds  of the 50s fame passed away at age 81 on June 14.  Cancer got him.  Somerville later became a folk singer under the David Troy name, then later replaced Ed Cobb in the Four Preps band.  Somerville was also known for doing radio voice overs most notably Mattel toys and Ford and Toyota just to name a few. He also appeared on a Star Trek show and McCloud.  One of David's songs The Troublemaker was recorded by Willie Nelson

Jillian Johnson, singer and songwriter of The Figs, a folk Cajun band from Louisiana, was murdered by Right Wing Nut Job Psycho Kochsucker John Russel Houser Thursday as she was at a movie theater Thursday. She was 33.  Yet another victim due to some asshole's extremist views and a gun. The problem of life and having to deal with assholes like John Russel Houser, who then took the easy way out and offed himself. A special kind of Hell awaits for C words like him.

Alex Rocco, best known his role in The Godfather but also was part of the George Carlin TV show on FOX passed away at age 79. Rocco was in That Thing You Do! where he played the owner of Play Tone Records too.  Alex has mentioned that his favorite role was sleazy Al Floss in the short lived Famous Teddy Z show (with Jon Cryer) on CBS.  Another victim of cancer.

Bobby Buie, songwriter and producer who helped The Candymen, The Classics IV and Atlanta Rhythm Section to have some hits over their career passed away on Sunday.  He was 74 and died after having a heart attack.

Wayne Carson (Thompson) another songwriter of note, (Always On My Mind, The Letter, Soul Deep, Neon Rainbow....) passed away Monday at age 72, of various health issues.

Josh Greenberg who founded Grooveshark, an online music streaming service was found dead in his apartment, he was only 28.  Grooveshark was sued by the major labels and was awarded something to the effect of 75 million dollars, but a settlement reached was that Grooveshark wiped itself clean and give the web domain and ownership to the major labels.

Of course Yes will continue on without Chris Squire.  Alan White sez so.  Billy Sherwood will be the replacement for the time being but look for new players in the future. 

Over the course of this year Miranda Lambert swore that her marriage to Bro Country star Blake Shelton was safe and they would not part. But with the damning words "this is not the future we envisioned" they announced that they were divorcing after four years.   Perhaps in this life love is dead, and those who have a successful recording careers and don't spend time together needed might be a reason, or infidelity.  While Lambert's last video Little Red Wagon showed her with the belt Mrs. Shelton wore around her waist, the cracks of the relationship were beginning to show.  Despite the locals and traditional country fans wailing away about Shelton's Bro Country music and his habit for beer, I was rooting for them to be the forever couple that they were telling across the country.  I'm sure in due time both will rebound, or perhaps give it another try.  But alas, the fairy tale love and wedding has somehow eroded in time.  Perhaps this might free up Miranda to write a new album of love gone wrong and perhaps the return of the Crazy Ex Girlfriend.  Chances are that her album will be a lot better than the recent Shelton album, which didn't take off as well as his Based On A True Story album, which Boys Round Here forever lumped him into the Bro Country field.  Nothing left to say but to wish the both of them luck and happiness down the road.  


The Crew Cuts On The Campus (Mercury 1954)

A bit of cheese from over 60 years ago, The Crew Cuts were actually Canadian but had that Hi Lo's type of vocals that makes anybody born past 1961 run for the hills.  To make this short, this is a concept album about songs about college and football and the Girl From Sigma Chi to which everybody sang, from the Four Preps to the Four Freshmen and everybody in between. Let's face it The Sweetheart Of Sigma Chi is a boring song, even for 2:32 it drags like Metal Machine Music, or The Halls Of Ivy.  Like the Hi Lo's The Crew Cuts sound like it's 1954, even to the Zis Boom Bah of Mr. Touchdown USA or the Tiger Rag bop of Varsity Drag. Very dated indeed, although if nothing else their version of Sha Boom made folks seek out the original version by The Chords.   Perhaps The Crew Cuts On Campus might have ignited the rock and roll era by having Elvis and likes go against this friendly radio approved pop fluff for a more memorable era of music.  Prep music for preppies, before The Blackboard Jungle changed things.
Grade C+

Melanie-Beautiful People (Buddha  1999)

Ah the original hippie dippy girl.  The world fell in love with her at Woodstock.  Her music on the other hand was uneven at best.  She got a freak hit with the throwaway Brand New Key, a song that topped the charts but at the same time her old label Buddah countered each new release with one of their own.  Problem is, Melanie could sing, she could also screech out of tune and some songs such as Bobo's Party or Ruby Tuesday suffered from the result.  The surprise of this best of may not be the songs themselves but rather having the Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame mastering the songs! Which gives her an added point.  Two new songs, one of them Summer Of Love II tries to update the Woodstock love of a long time ago and doesn't quite pull it off, the other I Will Get Over is slightly better although it's not something I'd listen to all that much.  If nothing else, Melanie's best song is the Lay Down (Candles In The Rain) to which she and the Edwin Hawkins Singers take it to 7:39 of feeling the groove and love of the song, to which The Singers damn near upstage the little hippie girl.  Second best:  Ring The Living Bell.
Grade C+

Shawn Phillips-The A&M Years (A&M 1992)

Phillips is not a rock and roller, he'll be the first to tell you that.  Best thing about this is Phillips' liner notes which seemed to indicate that the label must have held a gun to his head to write them out.  He doesn't comment much on the music but his scorching disgust of the music industry back in 1992 is a must read.  If Phillips is a forgotten songwriter,  his views on the music back then is more true today than 23 years ago.  His music is all over the place, it could be folk, or it might be the beginnings of new age.  I'm sure he had to let A&M put Bright White on a best of anyway, it's the song I pretty much can I.D. him with.  As a composer, Phillips can write them as ballets, or music set to fairy tales or going into jazz.  All the songs here on this best of, are a composer's labor of love, not with an eye on the charts but rather sitting back and enjoying them on their own till you fall asleep.  The problem that I had with Second Contribution.  This varies the style to the point of driving home from Davenport the other night that the moods of the music really did come through, it's good driving home music and the total time of the CD I managed to get home without changing the CD.  Kinda like Tangerine Dream although that band tends to add a bit more rock elements to keep me interested to come back to.  Composers are fine, but singer songwriters are better, when they rock out.  A nice sampler of what Shawn Phillips can do, passable though, but his views on the recording industry gives him extra points for being spot on.
Grade B-

Wilbur De Paris-The Wild Jazz Age/On The Rivera (Atlantic 1960)

On a warm Sunday Evening in the park, I was enjoying a couple sets from the River City 6, a Bix influenced Dixieland jazz band and somehow they got me into going into the closet to find this 2 on 1 CD that I got for two dollars a few years ago and revisit it.  I found his long obscure Atlantic single Petite Fleur (Atlantic 2011 1959) which featured Wilbert Kirk on harmonica to counterpoint De Paris' trombone.  De Paris recorded for Atlantic in the 50s and early 60s, Collectibles issued some of them as 2 on 1 CDs, such as The Wild Jazz Age, which is considered to be his classic album.  A fun blend of Good Time (aka old time) jazz of the 20s but with a Dixieland flair.  Even for 1959 standards, The Wild Jazz Age is outdated compared to the historic works of Mingus, Monk, Coltrane and Miles Davis but De Paris and his band is having a hot town in the old town tonight, starting out with the appropriate title Running Wild and really doesn't let up, even to the more mellow and Pete Fountain sound of Creole Love Call which features the drummer Kirk adding his harmonica.  On The Rivera is a 1960 Antibies Jazz Festival in France and it's a rave up even with Battle Hymn Of The Republic   being uptempo and suggesting more of New Orleans.  De Paris is basically forgotten nowadays, but these two albums probably are the best way to hear his Dixieland jazz and he and his band are having fun.  And if the band is having fun, that works fine with me.
Grade A-

Cledus Maggard And The Citizen's Band-The White Knight (Mercury 1975)

The brainchild of Jay Huguely, who departed this world in 2008, his song was one of the early songs that celebrated the CB, citizen's band radio.  Working for Lesley's Advertisement Agency he composed two version of The White Knight and sad to say that the longer 7 minute version exists only on 45, the shorter three minute version on LP.  Basically a concept album about the CB in various songs, the followup Kentucky Moonrunner made it to number 42, whereas The White Knight the song was number 1 country (number 19 on the pop chart although you'll never hear it on classic oldies radio).    There are some good moments, including Dad I Gotta Go, about a boy that wanted to go to the bathroom and Maggard leaving a convoy after convoy and then getting ringed up by the country monty's, CB 76 which a short history lesson had our forefathers had CBs back then and Cledus' CB Lingo Dictionary which explains the terms and slang words of the CB world.  The joke runs thin, on Mercy Day, and even worse Who We Got On That End (You're The Only Friend That I Got) that damn near kills this record.  Boring as hell too.  Even for datedness, The White Knight does bring back the memories of C W McCall, Dave Dudley's Me and Old CB and perhaps Rod Hart's CB Savage album which might be the better listen, that is if anybody gives a shit about CB radio and old country music.  As always Jerry Kennedy provides excellent production and expert sessionmen as well (Buddy Harman, Charlie McCoy, Johnny Gimble, etc etc).  Huguely would return for one more attempt at country cornball, with Two More Sides, which has him dumping the CB trucking lingo.  Jay would later become a TV writer, writing a certain show called Magnum PI and a few more before retiring and eventually passing on into the next world.  The White Knight is harmless fun.  It's a shame they didn't put the whole 7 minutes of The White Knight, that would have been a more worthy add.  Not issued on CD.
Grade B

Gary Pig Gold revisits Rockpile Live 1980.

Terry Reid-The Driver (Warner Brothers 1991)

Once upon a time, Reid was suggested as a lead singer for The New Yardbirds but he turned them down, The New Yardbirds ended up with Robert Plant, renamed Led Zeppelin and rewrote rock and roll.  Reid on the other hand became more of a cult artist, his best album remains Bang Bang You're Terry Reid, but 20 years later, Trevor Horn produced this fiasco.   It's one thing to reinvent yourself as something new and exciting but it's another when you become Michael Bolton.  In some ways Reid sounds more like Dan McCaffery rather than Percy Plant and the dated 90s production and keyboards didn't help things at all.  The only song that Reid shines is on the guitar riffs of If You Let Her before he returns back to Bolton wanna be.  Even the cover of Gimme Some Lovin is wasted by a strange arrangement and attempted jam that falls apart at the end.  Plenty of all stars on this album (Enya (!), Joe Walsh, Stewart Copeland, Alan White) but in reality, The Driver is more new age than rock and passable at best.
Grade C

Finally, The Townedgers continue their month on the top ten of the week via Lucky Star Radio. Thanks guys.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Week In Review: Summer heat, TE Radio 10, Jam fest

I have been tending to other sort of business here.  Thursday Night, I managed to hit one of those jam sessions that are few and far between for musicians.  I got invited to a Thursday Night show what you can do expose up at Wrigleyville in Marion Iowa, located across from KFC.  I brought the guitar to do a couple songs only to leave it out in the car and banged on this cheap 10 dollar drum set and a couple trash can lids for cymbals for two songs.  The first one, this guy was wailing away on guitar showing off his Eddie Van Halen skills, so I told him if he knew the opening riffs to You Really Got Me, I can fall in with the words. Amazingly that went off pretty good.  It also was the first time I led any band into a jam song on my own willingness.   I stayed up for one more song, the obligatory Sweet Home Alabama and then it was off to hanging around and talking old times with an old classmate from high school and high five all the folks that thought I sounded good.  Next jam session will be this Thursday at the same place.

For the first time in 2 years we finally got that famed July heat wave that cooks everything up. It's amazing that the highway of storms we have the last month has gone east and north this time.  The weather bureau last week miss the prediction of 2-3 inches of rain, we got about 10 sprinkles Saturday Morning but for the most part we were soaking up sunshine and humidity and I spent the weekend celebrating my best friend's birthday with a 12 dollar hamburger at New Bo Alehouse and a misguided waiter who tacked on a 20 percent gratuity rate, which was bullshit since we not a party of 8 or more, which seems to be standard procedure for going out on a town and going somewhere which is not Hardee's or McDonalds.  After complaining to the owner about this and saying we not a party of 8, we had separate checks, the fee got waved off.  Perhaps the waiter was a bit overwhelmed by the crowd there, we don't know, he'd disappeared for a good while but I thought he was worthy of something since he did managed to keep the drinks flowing.  I still gave him something for a tip, but it did fall shorted of his expectations and the next tattoo he wants to get.

We went across the street to Parlor City, for more drinks and checking out The Ramblers, a Americana band of sorts that played some Irish Celtic songs in the process, which of course got my best friend about talking to playing again.  Which lead to the usual, we need to do this song or that song and of course the Rush Song Of The Day to play.  Which means nothing ever changes around here.  Parlor City is where the lesser known bands play which don't focus on the tired bar band requests, although the medley of Stairway To Heaven/Smoke On The Water/Free Bird was very interesting.  Reunion bands are so hit and miss, which is why I continue as The Townedgers on my own.  However, if my best friend makes it to the Jam session this week, it will be the first time we played together since 2008.  We'll see what happens after that, if I can keep him off the golf course.

In this day and age, driving on the road is like playing Russian roulette.  Too many accidents and you're either getting stuck behind somebody going 45 in a 55 or an asshole riding your ass and going 80 in a 55 (or in my case, see last week's blog about the butt plugger and their finger flipping feet out the window douchecanoe).  Driving the interstate is a taking in your life in your own hands, or highway 100 to which KGAN weather dude Justin Roberts got into a accident with a car, whose driver died on the scene a 19 year old Zoee Norton.  From what I have read it seems to be too commonplace about what happens and I do not know the cause of Zoee's passing, could it been a faulty brake line that didn't work?  Car malfunction?  Tire blow out?  I don't know but a sad fact might be a case of texting and driving, which does have dire and fatal consequences.  If you don't believe me, take a lunch date at any Restaurant of your choice and spend 15 minutes watching the traffic flow by.  You will not believe how many folks talk on the cell phone or checking their smart phone or texting and not paying any attention to what they are doing.  I get distracted too, but usually is changing a CD and trying to place it in the discman just right.  Today's youth and society have now up the dangers of driving with Smart Phones and texting and not confining with the rules of the road and thus most of us are playing with fire.  To the slow poke in front, to the GD asshole in the back too busy in a hurry to get somewhere and trying to run us off the road, someday I might be a cross on the side of the road due to incompetent drivers and the fucking red lights help either.  Which a clear road becomes a traffic jam because some programmer is having fun at our expense of not keeping the lights in sync.   But Zoee Norton becomes yet another statistic in highway fatalities, another makeshift cross on  the side of the road and perhaps the dangers of being on the road.  The investigation is ongoing so opinions will keep a secret. But a good reminder that texting and driving don't go well together, and so is talking on a cellphone and dropping it while driving and trying to pick it up. Justin Roberts will be laid up for a while but the good news is that he's out of the hospital and recovering.  Zoee Norton will be laid to rest, with her organs donated to help others in need.  She's an angel now. 

Luke Bryan continues to stick his foot in his mouth once again, thus pissing off the traditional country folk.  The king of wearing women's skinny jeans said he would never ever be a outlaw country singer (like he would ever be)  laying in the gutter and snorting cocaine like Waylon and Willie did which really got a response and not in a good way, even ruffling the feathers of one of Waylon's relatives who told Luke to stick that in his girly jeans.

I don't comment about Luke Bryan or try not to.  I bought a couple of his CDs, thought they were shit and donated them back to science.  His My Kind Of Life is one of the all time worst garbage songs ever (that Conway/T Pain pairing extra groan points and another reason to shoot Dallas (Cliche Master) Davidson) and another song about growing corn is another salt rub in the wound song that makes me hate the guy anymore.  Basically Farce The Music does a much better job smacking Luke and Sam Hunt and FGL around better.  Since my time is limited anymore, I do not choose to listen to these singers or autotuned specialists, chances are I won't like them.  In this day and age, social media makes it easier to take somebody's comments and twist them around and both sides do that.  The GOP and the Liberals, the country music fans and haters.  And I try to find some sort or middle ground without resorting to rant and ravings.  As for Luke Bryan, he's the new country sound, for worse and wear.  He might claim to cite Waylon as a musical hero but as a musical influence, another story that doesn't wash very well.

And there's no love in CCR country either.  John Fogerty has sued his ex band mates  with breach of contract issues on Friday.  This has been a big burning point for Fogerty who agreed to let the guys use Creedence Clearwater Revisited provided both Stu Cook and Doug Clifford is on stage together.  Basically without Fogerty's songs CC Revisited would not exist in their own right. Although Cook and Clifford have wrote songs on occasion, it's the CC Revival songs that people want to hear and the royalty checks coming in.  While we all love John and his music, it's C C Revisited that comes through during the state fairs and monster truck rallies around here.  I don't recall Fogerty ever playing Jones County Fair or anything around this area.  And he continues to get most of rock's A list of stars at his Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame jam sessions.  I can see the dirty slamming of Doug and Stu but I do think John can be a bit of a hypocrite himself.  Say what you want about the guys who are tarnishing John's songs but they're doing the dirty work of going to Casinos and state fairs while John is more content with the spotlight and bigger paychecks and slamming the guys on every magazine.   And of course vice versa.  I expect John and the boys reunite about the time John plays a local state fair or Casino visit.  Which basically means, don't hold your breath for either.

The death of BB King sparked some issues saying that he was poisoned to death but the official results of his autopsy was of natural causes and partly of Alzheimer's as well.  Which may have explained the reason why his St Louis concert (one of his last shows) turned out the way it did. BB still lives in the music and concerts that he did performed.  Sad reminder that life is fleeting even in our main years.  And I wish it could be the 1970s all over again and not the Corporate Crap of this era.

And now a case study in quality taking the day off. And everybody knows that MCA Records had some mighty piss poorly made LPs and 45s back then.  A forgotten single WKRP In Cincinnati from Steve Carlile that turned out to be his only hit.  This record is a glory hole.   This record could only play on a specially made record player.  And here it is.

Forthcoming events this week is Solon Beer, Beef Days this weekend.  The weather is expected to be plenty hot out there in those tents up around Solon and what better way of having beef is the mass amounts of beer and thousands of flies landing on you and yours during this wonderful time.  If beef is not what you came up there for, there's always the Mexican Place El Sol on the corner.  The flies will be less in there.  Next week is the Jones County Fair, with Tim McGraw headlining.  Basically an all country lineup with the usual Sunday Gospel group as well.   And next Thursday will be RAGBRAI coming around the area.  They'll be going through Springville but not here in the suburbs. Bob Pitchford takes the picture of a gorilla who thinks of all of this.  Pfffft. Or perhaps Grumpy Gorilla is listening to FGL against his will too ;)


Blossom Dearie (Verve 1956)

It's not that I've stopped buying classic rock music, on the contrary I still listen and buy them, I just don't have the time for the same shit you hear over and over on the radio.  Bob Lefsetz's constant Spotify touting, streaming etc etc, but in the old days, we have going into the store and picking something up cheap and seeing something that might appeal to the ears.  Streaming is great for not having record or cd clutter around the house but is any streaming service going to have anything from The Townedgers on board? Or Train Hits Truck?  Or some band that was had some exposure on the radio back in the 90s and beforehand?  With parents or grandparents leaving this world and their Andy Williams or Herb Alpert records behind,  there's artists that have yet to be discovered.  For better or worse.  The preppies today are buying just about every rock and roll record or jazz record and touting them on their FB site, which makes the listener collector ready to smack them.  In my later years I have gone to the cult artists of the 50s and 60s and so on.  The Theolonois   Monk Riverside albums,  Nina Simone, even Tim Buckley has reentered my life.  But for a while, I have referenced Blossom Dearie as someone to seek out if and when I could find a decent overview of hers.  The Diva Series, is a nice sampler of who she's about, but I ended up finding this S/T album reissue for 2 dollars.  Which is really a low key, stripped down affair backed only by Jo Jones on drums and Ray Brown on bass, except for a couple songs with some background singers in, the bonus track Johnny One Note sounding like the Hi Lo's were in town.  Her voice had that Betty Boop, little girl lost sound, and perhaps her trademark although she was a fine piano player in her own right.  The songs sung in French I could do without and I'm sure Thou Swell was heard by Nina Simone and done in her own way.   Plenty of Rogers and Hammerstein numbers to choose from here, but perhaps the best remains Blossom's own Blossom's Blues, which dark and spare arrangement is a nice ending to a stunning debut of originality.  Norah Jones and Nellie McKay may have been influenced by Blossom Dearie from their debut albums as well.
Grade B+

Three Dog Night-The Complete Hit Singles (Geffen 2004)

Not the fully complete hit singles, they're missing Nobody, their first and their last Everybody Is A Masterpiece for singles but you can hear the development of  one of rock's best singles band of the late 60s and early 70s.  Another line of corporate bullshit is that these are the single versions, actually they're not, One fades out on the forty five, and Let Me Serenade You the keyboard intro is more up front.  But Joy To The World and Old Fashioned Love Song are original 45 mixes.  As well as Liar. But still it makes one wish that Real Gone Records would have compiled this.  As an overview this replaces The Best Of Three Dog Night and for that matter the Joy To The World best of with better sound and perhaps the best known songs beginning with One.  But I still like Golden Biscuits for the inclusion of Woman and Nobody, which seems that the latter song gets no respect.  3 Dog Night was the ultimate cover band, and they picked some of the best songs written by other people.  Who else could cover Paul Williams, Harry Nilsson, Hoyt Axton and John Hiatt?  They also covered Spooky Tooth, Free and The Youngbloods on their albums.  To which Sure As I'm Sitting Here is the long album version as well as Play Something Sweet and not the single version, which tends to grate on the nerves of the completest who looking for what he remembers hearing on the radio.  Still most of the hits are here, Harmony their best overall album before the ruts sat in and number 1 single Black And White topped the charts.  And then teenyboppers moved on to something else although 3 Dog Night still managed to break out a cool song or two (Shambala, Let Me Serenade You) before they wimp out on the number 11 chart placing of Till The World Ends, which seems to, despite Everybody Is A Masterpiece being the last true single but not well known anymore thanks to Corporate Classic Rock, seems to be a fitting way to end the best of.  I've never cared much for Till The World Ends, but can listen to it, unlike Another Brick In The Wall. But to hear things start out with the urgently rocking One and ending on Till The World Ends, their admission of defeat, makes The Complete Hit Singles one of the best rise and fall of a singles band ever made on CD or LP.  But I cannot in good faith give this a five star review, more like a four star recommendation that if you need only one Three Dog Night CD, this would be it.  As a fan, I think Golden Biscuits is the better buy, but that's not coming out on CD.  Maybe in a streaming service (up yours Bob Lefsetz)
Grade B+

Tim Buckley-The Dream Belongs To Me (Manifesto 2002)

When all is said and done, I will forever enjoy the folk troubadour of the late 60s rather than the sleeze porn rhythm and blues of Greetings From LA years but Buckley is a one of a kind artist who followed his own muse, even as fucked up as it would get.  Look At The Fool, his final effort was knocked around by critics but I found some sort of guilty pleasure of hearing it.  Greetings From LA  made me want to take a shower after hearing it.  Robert Christgau was never too kind to him, even on Starsailor, the album that was his best, or so said the critics.  Myself his first two are the ones to get, simply that they're more assessable than the later stuff.  This record splits between two 1968 sessions, both folky and not bad.  Part 2 stems from a February 1973 session to which you get 8 songs of the same funk groove and Buckley's vocals more druggy and out front, singing through the pain I guess, by then Buckley's view of the world and music really changed and not in a very good way.  This version of Sefronia actually is better than the studio version and it points out to Buckley doing the songs on feel and expression.  An acquired taste, but enough to established a cult following, The Dream Belongs To Me shows the two sides of Tim Buckley: the hopeful folkie and the dirty white boy who tried to funk up the beat.  This includes a 60 second promo of a Elektra album tacked on at the tail end of Quicksand.
Grade B

Q-Dancin' Man (Epic 1977)

Forgotten band that made a fine single.  Dancin' Man is basically a very simple get up and dance number that in a perfect world would be played as much as Play That Funky Music White Boy.  Robert Peckman had an eye and ear for that AM radio hit smash and Dancin' Man was it. Dancin Man the album, though has them trying to revamp Dancin' Man vibe and of course the followups flopped and failed but that doesn't mean they didn't have that charm of the hit single.  Do I Love You and Jump For Joy are perhaps the best songs, although I can't understand why the B side Love Pollution didn't get any vinyl lovin for album inclusion.  The perfect feel good throwaway number (Particles of happiness spreading all around) I think I played that side as much as Dancin' Man.  Q tries elements of doo wop (the side 1 closer Have I Sinned) and William Thomas takes a turn for a slow jam Make Us One Again which sounds like The Manhattans and sticks out like a sore thumb.  A valiant effort but Dancin' Man,the album shows Q to be a dance band, you won't remember the songs but you'll have a good time dancing to it.  Provided if you still live in 1977.
Grade B

Dean Martin-Country Style/Dean Tex Martin Rides Again (Collector's Choice 2001)

I always fancied Deano to be a country star if he wanted to be, in fact his 1983 Warners album might have been his best country sounding album before he passed on five years later but these mid 60s Reprise 2 on 1 CD is basically pop sounding like country.  Make no mistake Deano can sing the phone book in one take, and judging by the way the songs came out on Country Style, Martin did one take and moved on to the next.   Chuck Seagle didn't do him any favors either, most of the arrangements sound too much alike and the background singers are still 10 years behind the times.  On Rides Again, Jimmy Bowen adds a bit more production and style and Marty Paich was a better choice than the Mantovani style of Seagle.  Still, the record feels like a weekend get together before Martin returned back to the movies and Mat Helm (or his TV show).  A shame that Bowen didn't get around to produce I Walk The Line, which Seagle sinks in bombastic finale and of course those background pop singers not helping either.  Some inspired moments,  (Take Good Care Of Her, Room Full Of Roses) but not enough to warrant this collection back to the two dollar bins, along with the vinyl counterparts which can be found at the local Salvation Army.
Grade C

Ivy Doomkitty, we miss ya.  (Photo by York In A Box, great picture!)

Townedger Radio 10 (Broadcast 7-15-15 Via Lucky Star Radio)

Cinnamon Girl-The Gentrys
Oscillation-Silver Apples
Heaven And Hot Rods-Stone Temple Pilots
Wish In One Hand-Blackberry Smoke
The Big Time (1989 Demo)-Dwight Yoakam
If You Want To Be A Bird-The Holy Modal Rounders
Don't Bogard That Joint-The Fraternity Of Man
It's My Time-The Townedgers
The Castle-Love
I Broadcast-Blur
Feed The Tree-Belly
The Wild Ones-Waylon Jennings
They're Coming To Take Me Away AH HA-Napoleon XIV
D Boon-Uncle Tupelo
The Billboard Song-Homer And Jethro
Cut Me Off-Gear Daddies
Bullethead-Van Halen
North Cedar-House Of Large Sizes
Two Heads-Jefferson Airplane  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Week In Review: US Women's Soccer, Reviews, Ringo 75

Some odd notes found over the weekend during the forth of July.  Big news is that the US women soccer team took care of business and blew out Japan 5-2 in World Cup play Sunday, the first time the women won it all since 1999 and they get revenge from the let down of the 2011 season which Japan won on penalty kicks.  No let down this time as the US scored and scored often, including a Carli Lloyd 50 foot bomb that went past the Japan goalkeeper.  After that school was out.  It could have been a bigger score but in reality Lloyd's hat trick scoring was all that matters.  In other words, Japan met the Soccer Godzilla.  Long time player Abby Wambach, one of the best players ever ended up giving  a kiss to her wife, which pretty much gave Conservatives or Man and Woman Marriage Supporters a run to the bathroom to throw up.   Nevertheless Abby can now retire on top, the girls didn't let up this time around.  Almost the perfect soccer game ever played for the women.  And no shirts were taken off in the process.

Unlike the rest of the world, I stayed home on the Fourth Of July. I was tired and had stomach pains all weekend to which I found out that on a doctor's visit that I have what they call a belly button hernia and probably need to have that fixed.  This has been a constant pain for as long as I remember but on a walk downtown the next day, I needed to get some sort of exercise and thankfully I didn't get attacked by any redwing blackbirds, however while straying off the trail to check out a butterfly on a flower I almost got hit by a bicyclist, who came out of nowhere and right under my blindspot.  Once again, another reminder of how this year has sucked in trying to get exercise and going into town, taking my life into my own hands.  I have never witness such a year that I had to endure this type of shit luck.  I may never venture out again way things are going.  No shortage of asshole drivers and red lights in town to which road rage becomes when one thing leads to another.  Long red light=shit head drivers that ride your ass or do things to cause road rage.  Namely bumming around kids, with one bright minded dude with their legs out the window and showing their IQ as you yell at them to GTFOMA. Which I wanted to go after them but they had the traffic and red lights on their side as they were laughing all the way down C St. (Picture above is practically the same color of car that was changing my radio stations on the car, although you don't see Shit For Brains showing you their IQ finger).  Which they can thank their lucky stars, the next time, I would have taken all of them out and kick their ass all the way to Hell for being bad drivers.  But I'm sure all of you fine readers have had your share of bad drivers as well.  In a world of instant information during texting, cell phone yacking or just plain not paying attention and being in a hurry to get somewhere at the expense of others, this is what the world has become today and not in a good way.  You think things will get better?  So far things are  continuing to get worse.  Drive like they're out to get you?  Hell might as well say live before they do get you, be it dumb-ass drivers or raging redwings.

Basically it was 35 years ago that Led Zeppelin played their last show together before John Bonham's fondness for booze cost him his life and I'm surprised that Atlantic hasn't bothered to put this out on stand alone CD or DVD although some of the songs did appeared on that DVD years ago.  When Robert Plant called it the last show, he didn't know it would be the last show, after Bonham's 40 shots of Vodka a couple months later, it was the last show:

Four years ago, I lost one of my best friends Dennis Pusateri.  It surprises me that time has gone by that fast since then.  Dennis was one of those good heated people  that never said a bad word to anybody and found ways to make people laugh. I still remember the days we used to listen to cassettes and CDs working in the Pell Department of the old beloved NCS, a place that used to be a great place to work. Last I heard, he still has no headstone on his gravesite but I'm thinking he's buried with his parents and his brother, who was murdered in 1988 and the case not solved.  I'm still haunted of the memories of not talking to Dennis at Hy Vee three weeks before he passed away from a motorcycle accident which he was killed from a driver not paying attention and pulled out in front of him. I'd always thought I'd talk to him the next time I see him.  Which turned out to be his funeral. R.I.P my brother.

Before they got big and famous, this was this little ad calling for Nirvana fans to be into a video called Smells Like Teen Spirit.  Little did everybody involved would know that this would be the next big thing....for better or for worse.  A blast from the past photo from 1991.

Ringo Starr, the most lovable Beatle (IMO) turned 75 Tuesday.  Ringo has outlived Bonham and Keith Moon for that matter despite him have a cigarette in either hand on any given day or photo shoot.  It turns out that out of all The Beatles, I have more Ringo in my collection than Paul (4), George (3) or John (Zero although i have had a few of his albums at one time).  Ringo had more fun albums and songs for that matter.  I tend to be partial to his B sides, Down And Out (B side to Photograph) or the more mysterious Blindman (B side to Back Off Boogaloo) with Klaus Voorman helping out.  Ringo's albums were uneven, his best were the Richard Perry produced Ringo and Goodnight Vienna albums but also the 1991 Private LP Time Takes Time which Ringo jammed with the guys from Jellyfish on the majority of the songs and came up with the Byrds sounding Weight Of The World.  Although Ringo continued to make albums, they became less and less entertaining for me, Mark Hudson got too full of himself on Choose Love and Ringo booted him out in favor of Dave Stewart on Liverpool 8, another disappointment of a album as he returned to Capitol for that one fateful album. 

Problems with the Bullfrogspond site, somebody directed me to this link that will work if you want to see chart positions of songs.


Trouble (United Artists 1977)

Not to be confused with the metal band of the 80s that recorded for Metal Blade and later Def America, this Trouble band has more to do with booze rock of the mid 70s.  The lead vocalist is Rick Failla, who might be the closest to Paul Rodgers and this record sounds like them digging on Free's last album Heartbreaker.  Cary Raymond does a mean Paul Kossoff.  Basically the songs do pale in comparison with Heartbreaker but they give it a good ride, especially on I'm Leaving You which could be Heartbreaker part two.  Bits of Mott The Hoople and Bad Company come to mind, N Y City the former, Out On The Road the latter.  I'm sure Richard Digby Smith had a hand in the Mott/Free sound, he produced Free.  This record hardly got noticed back then, and it sat in the dollar bins for a while before I took a chance on it.  For boogie booze rock, it's not bad. Brian Glascock would later play drums for The Motels and Iggy Pop to name a couple other bands.
Grade B+

Morris Grants Presents JUNK (Argo 1961)

Is jazz ready for satire?  In 1961 not really.  One of the more interesting albums that I found up town was this obscure jazz record that makes lighthearted fun at Norman Granz JATP series that came out on Verve Records (and later Philo Records) with this complete with canned applause and speeded up freakouts (Frensi).  Things come to a head to C Jam Blues which a fight ensures towards the end. For a parody satire album the jazz performances are quite good although you have to really dig deep into the internet to see who's behind the songs.  Turns out Doc Severisen is the Trumpet player  however things get muddier.  The mysterious Jordan Ramin is on various saxes and plays piano (rumors of Clark Terry might be the sax player since this was released on Argo, Chess's jazz label), Trigger Alpert on bass, Bernie Leighton on piano, and Don Lamond on drums.  Basically this is mostly Ramin's idea and it was a good hearted jazz satire album, although the jokes were kinda corny and dated at the time. Ramin actually had his own label, Thunderbird Records in the 50s (Ramin put out five singles and one album under the Thunderbird Records banner, the album The Worst Of Morris Garner which was a parody of Earl Garner, and the results angered Garner's manager and Columbia Records which got Ramin blackballed by Columbia and radio wouldn't play it. A few years later Ramin resumed the Morris Grants name on the Argo LP Morris Grants Presents  JUNK  (aka Jazz University's New Kicks).   While the record isn't perfect, jazz purists still have a hard time getting into this I come to find the JATP parody to be as good intentions as say, Homer And Jethro doing a country parody or Weird Al doing rock.  I'll doubt if I'll ever hear the Worst Of Morris Grants, that record is even more rare than JUNK. The Ornotte Morris parody of Ornette Coleman may give oddballs looks but the Morris Brubeck parody of Mr. Brubeck is spot on.   Ramin died in 2012 so whatever secrets he had he took to his grave.  The UK reissue label Hallmark issued this on CD.  For this Argo LP, there's pops and clicks but the record doesn't skip and I have to say, it's interesting jazz.  Fun too.  But not for jazz snubs.
Grade A-

Denny Laine-Holly Days (Capitol 1977)
Mike McGear-McGear (Warner Bros. 1974)

A case of two different Paul McCartney produced efforts.  The Denny Laine album is basically a Buddy Holly tribute album made during a Busman's holiday.  Hard to think Laine was the lead singer and part of The Moody Blues, by this time he was employed as a Wings sideman with Paul and Linda Mac.  And say what you want about Linda, she does bring a bit of good charm to her vocals be it on this album and the McGear album.  Critics never took to Holly Days, it does sound underproduced. A few interesting ideas, It's So Easy might have worked better had Laine and McCartney not slowed down the tempo for Listen To Me, and the Acapella arrangement of Rave On is not bad, and Heartbeat actually gives me visions of Fleetwood Mac when they did Buddy's Song on the Kiln House album.  But it becomes a curio listen, since the instrumentals that end both sides of the album really don't go anywhere and I'm Looking For Someone To Love shouldn't be treated as a lazy jam number.  It's uneven but Holly Days does have its heart in the right place.

McGear, is the 1974 album that has Mike McCartney leading the Wings band (with Gerry Conway on drums, he of Fairport Convention fame) and brother Paul producing and it's a very interesting sound this has.  Mike does share a bit of Paul's pop sensibility although Mike has more of a eccentric sound to his.  A Syd Barrett vibe is heard on Have You Got Problems? and Givin Grease A Ride rocks harder than anything Wings ever did (although Helen Wheels comes close).  I think side 1 is the better side, it shows a bit of creativeness. Taking on Roxy Music's Sea Breezes might have been a bit extreme, I like it fine and the rocking Leave It as well.  Of course the buying public never caught on to this, and perhaps Warners didn't promote this as well as they should have (see Badfinger for more on how to screw up a band) but McGear is a strong debut from a lesser known McCartney brother who could be as witty as Paul could.

Holly Days B-
McGear B+

Iommi (Devine/Priority 2000)

Believe it or not, the Billy Corgan track Black Oblivion is pretty damn good in this otherwise all star jamming with the Black Sabbath riffmeister.   When this came out, Tony Iommi pretty much retired the Black Sabbath banner after the disappointing sales of Forbidden, and turned out his second solo record (the first was Seventh Star which Warner Brothers tacked on the B.S. name to generate record sales) with many of the in demand lead singers of metal bands of that time.  From the likes of Henry Rollins to Dave Grohl to Phil Anselmo this record takes forever to get its act together and really doesn't until the Smashing Pumpkins bald dude does his best Ozzy on Black Oblivion and all everything Kenny Aronoff doing his best Bill Ward imitation.  Then the record kicks in, with Ian Astbury rocking out with Flame On, the late Peter Steele's death metallic Just Say No To Love and perhaps for the last time, getting original Black Sabbathers Ozzy Osborne and Bill Ward on the best track (naturally) the dark and brooding Who's Fooling Who, which wouldn't sound out of place on the Sabbath's 13 album, recorded 13 years later and is the best sound of what had Bill played on 13.  The record then sinks in self parody with cornball Billy Idol's sophomoric and laughable lyrics to Into The Night despite having Soundgarden's rhythm section playing a tight beat.  Bob Marlette who produced doesn't help with cliche' production and cheese beats although the Ozzy and Billy Corban numbers does give this album heavy metal credibility.  In other words, one of those tribute albums that fall short of expectations.
Grade C+

Green On Red-Gas Food Lodging/Green On Red (Restless 1999)

A reissue of the Gas Food Lodging LP and the EP, two different styles from a band that started out Velvet Underground fanatics but also threw in Bauhaus and The Dream Syndicate (the Steve Wynn led group) and I find the EP's Goth rock slant to be a bit boring for my liking.  A change of pace and Dan Stuart upped more of an cowpunk sound that never sounded better on leadoff track That's What Dreams Are Made For. Credit newbie Chuck Prophet for finally getting Green On Red that sound that was missing on the EP.  Certainly Dan Stuart's fondness for booze and other thing immoral helps, Hair Of The Dog and the Dream Syndicate nod Fading Away makes Gas Food Lodging their best album overall, although they would still visit their Bauhaus gothness on Sixteen Ways   I think that's where their heart was at, but thankfully Gas Food Lodging is one of the better early Americana albums of the 80s.  Green On Red never did topped that on later albums.
Grade B+

Third World-Reggae Greats (Mango 1984)

In theory Third World was too disco and too much soul to be taken as strict reggae artists seriously.  They tried to be jack of all trades and the first half of this best of, shortchanges their Jamaican beats in favor of latter day Motown soul disco, never mind Now That We Found Love turned out to be their biggest hit at that time. In terms of Jah beats, Jah Glory is fine reggae, you won't mistake The Wailers but Third World could do that beat if they wanted to.  Their 96 In The Shade is a classic too but I think I prefer to hear that song on the namesake album they released.  There's soul to it but thankfully the disco beats is held to a minimum.  For reggae got soul. Third World does rank with Toots And The Maytals and The Pioneers, T.W. being third, for pure reggae they're further down the list when you include Bob Marley And The Wailers to the equation.  An uneven best of.
Grade B  

And once again, The Townedgers We All Sleep Alone reclaims the number 1 spot on the Lucky Star Radio top ten songs of the week.  I still think it's a feel good moment regardless, I know the Timesquare Media fools would never consider hearing the song in the first place but having a net radio station of fans of new music liking The TEs music is just a good feeling if not better.  Thanks Diggy Kat for the love and support.  Now I have to learn the song to play live now! ;) (we'll forgive you for Skid Row though)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Grateful Dead-Fare Thee Well (revised)

I tend to think that I was born at the right time to see and hear most of the important bands of my lifetime. But for all intent purposes I rarely ventured out to see most of them.  I was too young for Woodstock and the Haight Ashbury Love In of 1967, saw the future of FM underground radio only to be brought out by Corporations and turned into the same 13 songs of the past 40 years, likewise the major labels morphed into three bloated behemoths that would threatened even the ones trying to preserve  the chart topping ratings of the billboard top 100.  The resource that I used to find chart positions of songs back then bullfrog's pond, got sued by one of these corporations (betcha I know which one) so that resource got taken down for a while.  Strange to see that our love and hobby of music,  and trying to preserve the legacy of the forgotten artist is always being tested by one of the big three and their high ranking lawyers.  Basically things started going downhill by the late 70s and early 80s when corporations begin to buy up the independent labels and what was promised for more music ended up being the opposite.  If nothing else, I've seen the regressing of music, to the point of today that new music on a major label sucks.  When you have Kayne West trying to bullshit people thinking he's rock and roll, is laughable.  He couldn't have done this without his processed auto tuner voice.  At least Miley Cyrus is more into the spirit of rock and roll than Mr. Kadashian.

The Grateful Dead......truthfully I never was a big fan of theirs, not when Jerry Garcia was alive but when they came into town, it was a big event, with The Dead Heads hanging around the Five, it must have been nice to do that, go from town to town, dancing in the aisles, toking up a joint and getting that free loving.  But their records remain somewhat spotty.  I thought their WB debut was hippie fun, Anthem Of The Sun, trippy freaky, Axomoxoa a bum trip and Workingman's Dead and American Beauty their flawed classics. I don't recall the United Artists era all that much, the records were boring and it was strange to see Clive Davis sign them to Arista for more unevenness.  Oh, once in a while they would score a decent track (Passenger, Alabama Getaway) but by then, the Dead were more interested in playing live and letting people record it on their own, but Go To Heaven sucked.  The surprise hit of In The Dark and overplayed Touch Of Gray, still good but I'd rather not hear it anymore.  In The Dark turned out to be their best since American Beauty and while their final effort Built To Last got poor reviews, I find it a better listen than say, Go To Heaven.   But there's tons of their live shows available via bootlegs, or regular releases. Mike Gallucci might disagree but I like Dead Set.  And the Skull and Roses album of 1971 which gets my vote over Live/Dead, both classic albums but the S/T album having a good time jam and better songs.  The Dick's Picks series, which Rhino started out and now taken over by Real Gone Music gives the listener the whole ball of wax of being at a 3 and half hour Dead show, the 1978 Madison/Cedar Falls shows of that year I got simply of the fact it was recorded at home.  But a document of the past, it works well for me but I don't play it too often.

And so The Dead continue to play live up till 1995, twenty years on after the passing of Jerry Garcia, the band came to an abrupt end.  And strange things happened, Bob Weir grew out his beard, Phil Lesh continues with friends and once in a while make a album and Mickey Hart went back to do his Planet Drum projects.  Weir started Ratdog, and once in a while get back with Lesh and Hart as simply The Dead, but without Garcia, that special feeling was gone.  This year to celebrate The Dead's fifty years of music, they started The Fare Thee Well tour, with Trey Anastasio  replacing Garcia on guitar and vocal.  Last weekend they played in California and this weekend, they're playing at Soldier's Field in Chicago.  So basically this is their last go around, the return of Bob, Mickey, Phil and Bill Kretzman.  The set lists are varied and different than most and they promise that surprises are in store.  Judging by the July 3rd Set list.  They are right.

 7-3-15 setlist

Box Of Rain
Jack Straw
The Wheel
Crazy Fingers
The Music Never Stopped

Mason's Children
Scarlet Begonias
Fire On The Mountain
New Potato Caboose
Playing In The Band
Let It Grow
Help On The Way
Franklin's Tower
Ripple (Encore)

The second night brought out more surprises and more obscure songs, some were a chore to sit an listen through, Lost Sailor comes to mind. But what better way to end a Dead show on the Fourth Of July with U.S. Blues.  While Trey Anastasio shined the first night, tonight belonged to Bob Weir.  Even if Lost Sailor wasn't one of the better numbers, The Dead sounded pretty tight, even going into different songs without missing a beat. The fireworks at the ending of US Blues is the stuff of rock legend.  Even with all the money grabbing crapola that's going around during the run of shows.

Set One:"Shakedown Street"
"Standing on the Moon"
"Me & My Uncle"
"Tennessee Jed"
"Cumberland Blues"
"Little Red Rooster"
"Friend of the Devil"

Set Two:"Bird Song"
"The Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)"
"Lost Sailor" > "Saint Of Circumstance"
"West L.A. Fadeaway"
"Foolish Heart"
"Drums" > "Space" > "Stella Blue" > "One More Saturday Night

Encore:"U.S. Blues"

The final night: July 5th

They saved the best show for last, as if they knew this would be it and nothing more would be heard from the Dead again.  Beginning with China Cat Sunflower, they even pulled out Terrapin Station before the Drums and Space sequence.  The interesting inclusion of Days Between, one of the last songs Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote together has to be noted since it's one of more darker Dead songs written. However, they pick up the good vibes with a very rocking Not Fade Away one of the highlights of the show with Trey Anastasio and Bob Weir trading licks and vocals.  Then have the band leave off the stage one by one till only the drummers remains and playing.  Somehow this led to the encore of Touch Of Gray at which Trey and Bruce Hornsby took turns singing as Bob and Phil would sing the chorus.  And the show ended with Attics Of My Life, a problematic song which somehow was a perfect ending to a wild weekend of ups and downs of a storied career of a band that invented the long standing jams.   After five decades, two of them without Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead survives and still does with the many many live bootlegs and official releases of their concerts over the years.  I'm certain that these shows will be epic and must haves.  For a band that started out On The Golden Road to unlimited devotion, they end up in the attics of our lives and changed it for the better, or to some the worst.  To the beginning of Pigpen's Vox organ, it ends on Bob Weir's acoustic guitar and Trey Anastasio and Phil Lesh singing along.  Nothing left to say but....fare thee well.

Set List:

China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Estimated Prophet
Built To Last
Samson & Delilah
Mountains Of The Moon
Throwing Stones

Terrapin Station
Unbroken Chain
Days Between
Not Fade Away


Touch Of Gray
Attics Of My Life 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

KCRG Super 30 Survey July 4 1975

Continuing our look into the top 30 of forty years ago.  If you remember last month's Top 30, you got to see a wide variety of music, mostly bland pop from the likes of Olivia Newton John, Pilot and The Captain And Tennile, who's odious Love Will Keep Us Together still was in the top two.  No accounting for taste it seems.

What strikes me as ironic is how this list doesn't differ much from June 6. Out of all the Bubbling Under songs, only The Hustle and Goodnight Vienna got on the charts and the latter song making it's debut at number 26.  Black Friday and The Last Farewell are gone from sight. 

Open for discussion. the top 30 of July 4, 1975

1.   Muhammad Ali-Johnny Wakelin
2.   Love Will Keep Us Together-Captain & Tennile
3.   Please Mr. Please-Olivia Newton John
4.   Listen To What The Man Said-Wings
5.   I'm Not In Love-10cc
6.   I'm Not Lisa-Jessi Colter
7.   Why Can't We Be Friends-War
8.   Jive Talkin-The Bee Gees
9.   One Of These Nights-Eagles
10. Magic-Pilot
11. The Hustle-Van McCoy
12. Midnight Blue-Melissa Manchester
13. I'll Play For You-Seals And Crofts
14. Minnesota-Northern Lights
15. Pinball Wizard-Elton John
16. Bloody Well Right-Supertramp
17. Swearin To God-Frankie Valli
18. Attitude Dancing-Carly Simon
19. Run Tell The People-Daniel Boone
20. Disco Queen-Hot Choclate
21. I'm On Fire-Dwight Twilley Band
22. Someone Saved My Life Tonight-Elton John
23. Dynomite-Bazuka
24. Hey You-BTO
25. Rockford Files-Mike Post
26. Goodnight Vienna-Ringo Starr
27. Romeo And Juliet-Sha Na Na
28. Wildfire-Michael Martin Murphy
29. When Will I Be Loved-Linda Ronstadt
30. Thank God I'm A Country Boy-John Denver

Hit Bound (Bubbling under)

Could It Be Magic-Barry Manilow
Third Rate Romance-Amazing Rhythm Aces
So What If I Am-Paper Lace
At Seventeen-Janis Ian

Interesting fact: 19 of the top 30 songs were on the June 6th top thirty.
Elton John Philadelphia Freedom dropped off the charts replaced by Someone Saved My Life Tonight.  The last four songs, would eventually drop out of the charts the next week.

I find it hard to believe that Sha Na Na and Northern Lights managed to stay this long on the charts. They never get played on the radio anymore.  I don't recall the Paper Lace and Daniel Boone songs at all. Paper Lace best known for The Night Chicago Died and Boone's Beautiful Sunday is his one hit wonder.

Despite it all, the top 30 remains very pop driven, and hardly anything rock and roll is on this.   However the best song remains I'm On Fire, a great song by Dwight Twilley, but alas, he would not be heard from again for over a year when Sincerely came out.  The guess is that Shelter Records was going from MCA to ABC in terms of distribution but the lack of an album killed Twilley's chances of being a bigger star.  He would eventually move to Arista for a couple albums and then EMI for the 1980's mini hit Girls.