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.

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