Monday, August 31, 2015

Week In Review: River Roots, Jake Arrieta, Iowa Rock And Roll

One year ago this date, I went to Davenport and found the best bunch of cheap 45s ever so I thought I would test my luck to see I could improve on that.  I didn't find nothing.

I forgot Ragged Records was closing up shop early to host a concert downtown and by the time I got there the last customer walked out the door.  Which means that the next bargain hunt will be up in Madison next month, there was a box of records I overlooked in  Ragged but that will have to wait for another time.  My wallet thanks Bob for the early closing since I spent 100 dollars on upgrading my drum set.  In the meantime, bills continue to pile in from the belly button hernia, with yet another 800 dollars worth of bills that came in this weekend.  You gotta love big pharma and Unity Point for draining the nest egg.   With Ragged closed early I could have gone to the Source Bookstore for vintage vinyl but I decided to head to Moline to Co Op for a couple of CDs I don't need and striking out at the thrift stores.  It real pointless to even stop at EZ Pawn anymore, since they bought out Mister Money.  The era of decent CD finds are long gone, what they have yet if any, are junk.  But then again, going to the thrift stores on the weekends, means you won't find nothing but junk anyway.

So, I headed to downtown Davenport and watched the Peoria Chiefs defeat the Quad Cities River Bandits 4-2 behind the pitching of Austin Gomber who won his 16th game.  Only thing I remember about the game was that the outfield umpire passed out in the infield and they took him to the hospital, and they had the home plate umpire to call the whole game.  But QC only managed 3 hits all game and didn't put much fight.  Both Peoria and Quad Cities will be going to the playoffs next month as well as the Cedar Rapids Kernels.  For now, I'll be at next wed. playoff when QC comes to CR to play.  Or Davenport the next day.

As the game was going on, River Roots was in full swing next door.  Which meant I could not park in the Rhythm City Casino parking lot since there was a shitload of cars everywhere and finding a parking spot was hard.  While local acts Mickey and the Motorcars and The Suffers was playing during the game, I was curious to find out that Kacey Musgraves was the late night star and I managed to hang around for about 5 songs.  She did play Biscuits and Step Off and was pretty good, I begin to get bored when she started playing more mellower songs off her latest album and left after she begin This Town or Family Is Family.  I basically was in the free section and didn't see a need to plop about 20 dollars to see about an hour and half of show.  Mavis Staples was the headliner Sunday Night.

If you're a Cubs fan, you're probably whooping it up over Jake Arrieta's no hitter of the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0, which 50 years ago was the place of Sandy Koufax' perfect game and Bob Hendley's one hitter in the Dodgers 1-0 win.  But this time out, and amazingly shown on ESPN  I got to see the final inning which the Dodgers went down 123 as Chase Hudley struck out to end the game.  It wasn't a perfect game, Mr. Hole In The Glove himself Starlin Castro had an error but otherwise The Dodgers, who got no hit 9 days ago, had no answer to Arrieta's pitches.  It has been documented that when Jon Lester got signed this year that he was supposed to be the ace of the Cubs and he has done pretty good so far, but Jake Arrieta is the ace and whatever he did to change his pitching style since coming over from Baltimore for Scott Feldman has worked big time.  It was the first Cubs no hitter since Carlos Zambrano no hit the Houston Astros in a game in Milwaukee that was moved due to Hurricane Ike that wrecked havoc in Houston.  WGN did show a tape delay game of the no hitter but nothing is better than seeing it real time and thank God and Sunday that it was shown all around.  If it was a week night game, ESPN would have blacked it out.  Nevertheless, The Chicago Cubs of 2015 have been a fun ballclub to watch although most of us have been fucked out of that thanks to the new WGN superstation format that doesn't broadcast ballgames anymore and is nothing more than another worthless cable channel that offers nothing.  Seems like Chicagoland people get to see Cub games anymore.  Although the western swing only gave them a 2-6 mark, both games were won by Jake Arrieta.  They're back home this week and hopefully they're get their winning ways back.  A no hitter usually does great things for team morale.  We'll see.

For the past month and a half I have back out on the jamming route, playing drums in various jam sessions at a couple places, more like a hobby rather than getting back into playing music on a full time basis.  Studies have shown that since jamming, I have become a bit more tolerant and more at ease with myself with interaction with other musicians.  More surprises were revealed at Sunday's jam with the highlights being myself partaking with a fine bass player (Kenneth John Webb) on doing I wouldn't want to be like you (the alan parsons project song) and tearing it up with Stevie Wonder's Superstition.  Later an older woman came on stage to play drums on Roadhouse Blues which she did a better version by far. Although a smaller crowd was on hand (Peter and Ceci's band were playing in Walford that day) a few folks did show, including the usual five drummers to which I bumped Mike Lint off the drumstool so he could do Ain't No Sunshine.  With football season coming in a week, the Thursday jam sessions are coming to an end on Thursday Nights at Wrigleyville in Marion (pool tourneys will replace them) but there'll be a trial run on Tuesday Nights for a while. We'll see if I can make a couple of them before work gets busy again.

Renovation of the former Chrome Horse and 3rd Street Live Building will begin in October.  The place has laid dormant since the July fire of last year closing down on the more important places to play for aspiring musicians.   Plans are calling for it be a office styled building but with a upper floor for bands to play at and they have called this place The National.  But they say that the building will remain looking the same.  The hope is that The National will be in operation in late 2016.

Summer is trying to make a comeback here, temps in the 80s and being humid.  The fires out in the Northwest have tinted the skies to the point that Sunday the sun was blood red setting and the moon was blood red when it rose.  There hasn't been much rain of late, outside of an inch of it last Friday, postponing and moving football games to the next day (Ames ended up with 9 inches of rain, and Cedar Falls a all time high of 6 and a half inches of rain).  The Arizona newspapers proclaimed the end of the monsoon season, last week, only to get their teeth kicked in with a major monsoon this Monday, roaring through Central Phoenix with a inch of rain in a half hour causing major flooding in low lying areas and power outages as well, plus downed trees.  The forecast calls for more chances of monsoons this week although the thinking is that they won't be as severe as Monday's storm.  Once again I'll miss the Arizona getaway this year again, but if you don't have enough things to worry about down there, somebody has been shooting at cars from one of the overpasses on I-10.  Seems to get worse down in the valley of the sun. Heat makes stupid people do crazier things anymore.

Labor Day Weekend is when the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inducts the latest folks who put the state on the map before Slipknot came around.  Jan And Dean are the out of state winners, the rest are The Smokin Clams, Windfall Jac, FreeStyle, Castels, Inner Lite, and The Interstate Cruisers.  For places associated with rock and roll and bar music, the legendary Highway Gardens in Stanwood gets noticed. It's now known as Thirsty On 30.  Catamount Studios in Cedar Falls gets a special place of its own. The recording studio of choice, bands like Tripmaster Monkey, The Dangtrippers and Full Fathom Five recorded their classic albums there. Rivera Ballroom in Janesville and Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines are mentioned as well.  The weekend long show will be in Arnold's Park from the 4th to the 6th.

On the music side Eric Singer is taking exception to KISS Crazies who think he's aping Peter Criss on stage even though Singer is wearing the cat makeup that Criss used to do when he was in the band. Singer has had a long drumming career, playing in Black Sabbath and Badlands, the latter band featuring Ray Gillan and Jake E Lee.  So perhaps playing in KISS might be a step down but I concur that the last two KISS albums with Eric and Tommy Thayer are fairly good in their own right.  Ace Frehley is holding his own with his best album in years with Space Invader and God bless Peter Criss in whatever he's doing.  But things do come to an end and we have seen the last of the original KISS.  Tommy Thayer's old band Black N Blue did make a couple of great pop metal albums for Geffen in the mid 80s (The Dieter Dierks produced ones, The Gene Simmons produced album wasn't so great). Tommy and Eric have earned their keep I think to play in KISS, even if people think otherwise.  We all wish it could be 1976 all over again.  We wouldn't have to deal with Bro Country and Rap Crap.

The more Bill Ward reveals about unfair unsigned contracts the more he reveals himself as not a team player and an in it for the money kind of guy.  Now he is telling the world that when Heaven And Hell, the Dio led Black Sabbath band that changed their name for The Devil You Know CD, that he laid the tracks down originally and then Vinny Appice redid them.  That's a new one on me, since going back to the 2007 2008 sessions not one word was uttered about Ward.  Yet another excuse of a "bad contract" reason Ward passed on what would be the extra tracks to the The Dio Years best of and Appice redid them.  Or so what Bill Ward says. I love Bill Ward's playing in the early Sabbath years but I thought he was the weakest link to Heaven And Hell the 1980 album, especially on Walk Away.  Appice kicks his ass on The Mob Rules. But Ward has been on a tirade ever since walking away on 13 after saying that Sharon Osborne gave him a bad contract.  I doubt Sharon had anything to do with the 2006 sessions.  But he's beginning to look more like a whiner with each interview he gives blaming Sharon, Ozzy, Toni and anybody connected to Black Sabbath about bad contracts.  Perhaps it's the fact he can't play anymore.  That was the impression I got when I heard his 1990 album Ward One Along The Way.  A sad ending to what's becoming a bitter old man who gave us the speed beats of Supernaut of long ago and far away.

The new Motorhead album is out and they're out on tour but the high attitudes of Salt Lake City and Denver has forced Lemmy to cancel those dates due to ill health.  Lemmy is a few months away from age 70 but the old indestructible life of Jack and Cokes and smokes has forced Lemmy to drink Vodka and orange juice and a pack of cigs a week instead of a day.  I have heard parts of the new album and while it's Motorhead and it's the same songs done differently, Lemmy's voice is beginning to wind down, which  was heard on Aftershock a few years ago.  Cameron Webb still remains the producer of choice and Phil Cambell, Mikkey Dee band mates have been together for 20 plus years now.  Lemmy swears his version of Sympathy For The Devil beats the Rolling Stones original.  Here's hoping Lemmy can get his health back as Motorhead heads to Texas and we'll see how that goes from there.  So far, the Austin show, Lemmy only made it into three songs before saying he couldn't do the show anymore and that was it.  Perhaps the biggest concern is to see if Lemmy can do a full show, or just cancel the tour and try again when he gets to feeling better.  Which they have decided to postpone the rest of the Texas tour and maybe try it again should Lemmy get to feeling better.

Things you already know and don't care; Tom Delong would like to rejoin Blink 182, Dave Davies says as long as both he and his brother and Mick Avory is still alive a Kinks reunion can still be possible.  And the VMA's MTV's big event, usual pop crap, no rock bands, less said the better.

On a side note:  The Blackberry Smoke/ZZ Top show at the Amphitheater in Cedar Rapids has been moved indoors at the Five Seasons (US Cellaler  (sic))  Center on September 26.  Partly due to people complaining about the runover of time from the Pink Floyd tribute show last Tuesday.  Long term predictions indicate it will rain that night.  Besides the summer concerts scene are winding down as is stands.

No more nightmares on Elm Street anymore. Wes Craven died.  He was 76 and had brain cancer. As for Friday the 13th Jason....he lives on.

The reviewer hard at work under the watchful eye of Mother Hen and Tom (now retired)

The Big Chill Soundtrack (Motown 1983)

Boring movie but this was the soundtrack that bestowed life of the Motown sound and although Motown did issued The Soundtrack along with the companion copy of More Music From The Big Chill Soundtrack, this one redefined not only Motown but oldies rock and roll radio itself.  You've heard them all, I Heard Through The Grapevine (the rare five minute version) Ain't Too Proud To Beg, My Girl, The Tracks Of My Tears plus selected Atlantic classics from Aretha Franklin and 123 Good Lovin by The Rascals.  And of course A Whiter Shade Of Pale to add some rock bombast.  Consider the fact that most of these songs were not even 20 years old, the oldest being Tell Him By The Exciters, but here we are 22 years down the road and some of the songs are now over fifty years ago.  Still the timeless quality of Motown that these songs still sound vibrant and fresh today, although radio has played to death My Girl or Joy To The World.  But in reality I still can't get into the movie The Big Chill, it puts me to sleep.  But in all theory The Big Chill Soundtrack is what I consider the original Time Life Music Of the 60s before Time Life ran that into the ground.  The Deluxe Edition combines both the original and the followup cd and has a bonus track of note: Howard Tate's Get It While You Can, which should have made it to one of the two original albums in the first place.
Grade A-

Montgomery Gentry-Tattoos And Scars (Columbia 1999)

If Montgomery Gentry is to be remembered, I would rather much remember them as Southern Rockers rather than the Bro Country they are now lumped into.  They owed their sound more toward Charlie Daniels Band (to which Conservative Charlie wrote and sang on All Night Long) and Skynyrd, if they were 20 years earlier on the scene, this record and followup Carrying On would be on rock radio.  No denying that Hillbilly Shoes a nice rock stomper and All Night Long boogie rock up till the final verse, but the lesser numbers do have a more country vibe, namely the title track and the thumb at the nose at urban sprawl on Daddy Won't Sell The Farm.  Or songs about the working man on Trying To Survive and broken realtionships (Lonely And Gone, I Loved A Lot More Than I Hurt).  Eddie Montgomery (brother of John Michael) and Troy Gentry have written songs for others but in their long career together, they tend to borrow other songwriters to better effort I gather.  While the consensus say that My Town is their classic album, I tend to favor Tattoos And Scars myself.  Alas, while they got more and more famous, their albums became more letdowns and cliches.  Sony Nashville still has half assed Montgomery Gentry's greatest hits packages, leaving off key tracks in favor of lesser known and more geared to Bro Country fans to which surprisingly they have not bought, the nadir was Tittie's Beer, a big black eye in their music career but thankfully they left the Bro Country Average Joe's label for a more back to basis sound on a new album that has not sold a tenth of Tattoos And Scars' sales.   At least on the new album, they have the lead singer from Black Stone Cherry on a duet, which is much better than the Bro Country Melonheads that is polluting country radio.   16 year after the release, Tattoos And Scars still holds up quite nicely.
Grade B+

Porter Wagoner-RCA Country Legends (RCA 2002)

It's funny how country music has devolved over the past decade. Crap from the likes of Luke Bryan, Tyler Farr, Shannon Smith and of course Florida Georgia Line and their endless drivel of beer, trucks, tanlines and itsy bitsy bikinis from 16 years seem to be rule of things today.  If that's the endless spring break of country music fun, Porter Wagoner's music is the Freddy Kruger of country music.  At times his music can be fun and good times (Howdy Stranger Howdy, Company's Comin) and getting drunk at the bar (Misery Loves Company) but it comes with a price (Confessions Of A  Broken Man).  Porter sang some of the graphic songs of love gone wrong, murdering a cheating wife (The First Mrs Jones), getting revenge on a stranger who thought he was away (The Cold Hard Facts Of Life), even going insane (1971's The Rubber Room, one of the strangest Country songs ever made) or suicide (Cold Dark Waters).  While Porter's TV show was more of the happier shows on TV, I doubt that he sang The Rubber Room or Cold Dark Waters at any time.  In the CD era BMG/Sony has issued three different Porter Wagoner solo best ofs and every one is a frustrating mess, with key songs being left off.  The Essential Porter Wagoner is probably the best of the bunch but The Pair Greatest Hits has the most diverse.  In the end, the more available RCA Country Legends is the weirdest of the three and the Anti Bro Country of them all.  FGL or Luke Bryan might think they have a broken heart and drunk on their ass, but we all know they would never touch The Rubber Room or Cold Dark Waters, truly the morning after the night before of party hardy goofiness.
Grade A-

Horse Silver-Song For My Father (Blue Note 1964)

Leave it to Steely Dan to take the opening notes to the title track and turned it into Rikki Don't Lose That Number.  Which all goes to show that Steely Dan knew their jazz music quite well. Still, the original Song For My Father is a jazz classic song, a bossa nova type of hard bop before John Coltrane rewrote the jazz rules with A Love Supreme.  A underrated line up of Carmell Jones, Joe Henderson, Teddy Smith and Roger Humphries lead off the highlights of the October 26, 1964 sessions which comprises of followup The Natives Are Restless Tonight, Que Pasa and The Kicker, some of the best latter day hard bop tunes.  Of course Silver can do wonders working as a trio, with the spare bonus take of Que Pasa and album closer Lonely Woman, a nice blue jazz song.  CD bonus tracks, although adds a different band on Sighn' And Cryin' it's mostly Silver in a Ramsey Lewis style somewhat swinging and somewhat soulful.  This CD does add the 1963 led band of Blue Mitchell, Junior Cook, Gene Taylor and Roy Brooks on Calcutta Cutie and Lonely Woman, however the infusion of the newer lineup that did Song For My Father adds more color and youthful fun. And perhaps the reason why Song For My Father the album is considered Silver's high water mark. It swings very well for jazz.
Grade A

Forgotten classic of the 80's
Danny Wilde-Any Man's Hunger (Geffen 1988)

In the pawn shop era of buying CDs (that would be 1998 through 2002) I encounter plenty of forgotten artifacts of the late 80s when the new technology of CD was the way to go.  While Mister Money may have been a shady pawn place for getting pennies on the dollar for unwanted things, it was much easier to find obscure CDs of bands and artists that never took off.  Danny Wilde was part of Great Buildings that made a forgotten power pop album for Columbia in the early 80s, then went solo and put out The Boyfriend on Island in 1986, which had two singles that got airplay although I never heard them on the radio.  Geffen did pick up him up and working with the late Pat Moran (Robert Plant, The Searchers) turned out Any Man's Hunger.  While the gloss suggests more of a Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi sound, Wilde's heart remains into a power pop mode, and Any Man's Hunger is a power pop album.  Side 1 is just as good as anything Adams has done, or better than anything Bon Jovi ever put out with minor hit single Time Runs Wild, and the Adams soundalike Ain't I Good Enough although Moran's production makes Mel Gaynor's drums sound like cardboard boxes.  At times Wilde goes back to a sound like Great Buildings (Wouldn't Be The First Time) that hints of what he would do when he form The Rembrandts.  The slower stuff on side 2 kinda meanders a bit, he gets too close to Richard Marx on This Old Town, before rocking back to the throwaway Contradition which is tongue in cheek.  Wilde does know how to rock, the uptempo stuff of Bordertown, and Set Me Free is what he's best at, the singalong chorus to Any Man's Hunger in the end, gives this a favorable grade, although I'm ranking it higher than it ought to be. Fact of the matter is Any Man's Hunger is deserving of a minor classic.  But Geffen Records never promoted Wilde and after the second album, they cut him loose two weeks after releasing it.  Wilde would rebound and resurface with Phil Solem in the making of The Rembrandts, to which their 1993 album called LP would be seen in many dollar bins in the country, not a bad album but it was the only one that had that Theme From Friends on it and Atlantic didn't bother issuing it as a single (unless it was For Jukeboxes Only copies).  But I tend to think that Any Man's Hunger was better than any of The Rembrandts albums made, plus it rocked harder than anything Wilde has done before and since then. In a perfect world of 80s rock and roll, Time Runs Wild or Set Me Free would be played as much as Summer Of 69 or Livin On A Prayer.  It's a shame that he was a tax write off by a record company that didn't back him up the way he should have been.
Grade A-


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stevie Ray Vaughan 25 Years Gone

While the big news was the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run album came out this week, an even bigger event came up when Stevie Ray Vaughan took a ill fated helicopter and moved up to jam with Jimi Hendrix in the afterlife.

I recall hearing the news when my then girl interest Melissa told me about it and she was crying about it and I think we hugged each other before she went back into her routine at Dancers.  While her memory is gone into the ages, the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan continues to be a part of my music lifestyle.  If anything Stevie Ray Vaughan was the last true guitar hero in my lifetime, his passing pretty much snuffed out the blues players getting any radio airplay.

Stevie Ray was a music genius who could play anything he wanted to, jazz, fusion, rock and blues.  He could do it all.  It was a twist of fate in his first Montreaux concert that he gave a on fire performance, only to be greeted with indifference and boos, to which Jackson Browne and David Bowie came to his defense, Browne offering up his recording studio and Bowie offering a spot in his band to play guitar.  To which Bowie's comeback album of 1983 Let's Dance came to be.  While grateful, Stevie wanted more to show off his band Double Trouble, Tommy Shannon, who was part of Johnny Winter's band and Chris Leyton on drums.  The end result would be Texas Flood, a down and dirty album classic of its own.

Couldn't Stand The Weather showed SRV's jazzier side and he could take a Jimi Hendrix classic song and make it his own, Voodoo Chile was updated for the masses to hear and I may be in the minority but I thought Stevie's was the classic version.  The way that he mixes up the guitar lead and have Leyton follow him on drums is pure awesome.  The Texas shuffle of Cold Shot, and 9 minute despair of Tin Pin Alley has to be heard to be believed.

With Reese Wynans Double Trouble was complete.  Vaughn returned back to Montreaux in 1985 to a hero's welcome, but in the meantime he was battling booze and drugs and it would take a while for him to finally become clean in 1989.  He then recorded In Step, with the radio ready hits of Crossfire and The House Is Rocking and was in the process of joining up with his brother Jimmie on a new album by the Vaughn Brothers before playing Alpine Valley and have things come to a crashing ending.

And music hasn't been the same since.  Sure Kurt Cobain became the new rock and roll hero before he blew his brains out, but as for blues influenced rock nobody could fill Stevie Ray's shoes although Joe Bonnamassa comes close.  But to me, Stevie Ray was the last great guitar hero of my time and 25 years later he is still missed.

Play on SRV.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Townedger Radio 11

Playlist of Townedger Radio 11   (August 19, 2015) Lucky Star Radio

Litany (Life Goes On)-Guadalcanal Diary
Dance With The Devil-Cozy Powell
Let There Be Drums-Sandy Nelson
I Can't See You-Tim Buckley
Another Bubble-Robyn Hitchcock
Buckeye-Johnny And The Hurricanes
Boogie-John Hartford
Hope-Mason Profit
I Know About Me (Don't Know About You) The Townedgers
Pussy Pussy Pussy-Light Crust Dough Boys
Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night-The Turtles
Ain't It Amazing Gracie-Buck Owens
Call On Me-Bread
Morning Song-Compost
Sick Of Me-Descendants
Real World-Mighty Lemon Drops
Something's Telling Me-BoDeans
Black Metallic-Catherine Wheel

Somewhere near Stanwood, Tuesday.  A little tornado  appeared.  I slept through it.  S. Ash didn't and posted this via Twitter. This summer, the heavy rains and storms dried up during the July months and never really took hold.  We did have a wet June but for the past month and a half it's been back to drought like conditions.  Update: the weather bureau did confirmed this as a EF 0: weak tornado.

I love Bill Ward, and do think his drumming on the early Black Sabbath recordings are classic but I'm beginning to tire of his continual whines that if the band gets back on the same page....HIS PAGE...and if Ozzy Osborne and his wife apologize to him, then maybe he'll be on board to do perhaps the final Sabbath album and tour.  Which means that Billy will be on the outside looking in. The last time Bill did hang with Ozzy was a track of Tony Iommi's solo album about 12 years ago thereabouts.  History has proven that Ozzy and the boys could live without Mr. Ward although 13 could have used a bit of Bill's drumming.  But when Classic Rock Magazine continues to rehash Ward's sour berries and feeling "hurt" by the snob, you have to wonder if it's Bill's attempt to try to stay in the limelight.

In town, you can get free WI FI at the Hiawatha's public parks......isn't the intent to go outside and enjoy life rather be bound by the internet?  Just wondering.

The mind numbing garbage that is Bro Country continues it's downward slide with the latest mini full porta potties line of crap from Chase Rice who continues to dazzle us with thought provoking words of wisdom:  Just some old plowboys, pretending were cowboys (is that supposed to be We're and not were Chase buddy?!) came from nothing, oh but look at us now boys.  If you don't think that's country, UR ignorant  (from an actual tweet).  Technically from a kindergarder's point of view Chase that might pass for country....if you're five years old.  Me, I prefer a little more thought to my country.  I outgrew your type of music once I got past 4th grade.  But you can't escape this bad country.  KDST popped in Something Bout A Truck by Kip Moore after playing a Willie Nelson song and I could only do about 5 seconds and one dumbass lyric of that song. A former Iowa Hawkeye linebacker who recently retired made the grand statement of listening to Sam Hunt is equivalent to being peed on.  Which one can basically substitute Sam's name in favor of Chase Rice, who will ban you if you say anything bad to him on Twitter.  To those who cry out about the Luke Bryan bashfest and FGL can understand why anybody would want to, country music is evolving.   In this day and age I think New Bro Country is regressing.  As for Chase Rice, if you type in Chase Rice is, the first thing that crops up is Not Country. At least from the Yahoo site.

From the mind of Rich Rose, Las Vegas' favorite record store owner. 

"What the hell is this? It's terrible!" - Rich Rosen when a song comes on the radio
"It's Coldplay." - David Rosen
"And these people are successful?" - Rich Rosen

If you have 70 dollars laying around you could invest in Soul Manifesto, a 12 CD set that has all of Otis Redding's albums under one box set.  That is the albums that he recorded for Volt/Atco  Since I have all but 3 of them, I really don't see the need to pony up again.  The problem of music today is that you can get anybody's output in box sets rather than doing it the old way like I did and buy one album at a time. However, Legacy Records outdid themselves by putting out the 23 CD coffee table set of The RCA and T Neck Years (1959-1983).  Basically this is more of the T Neck Years, they only did one album for RCA (Shout!) and there's a big hole in the decade missing, Tamla/Motown, United Artists and Atlantic are missing and the other two major labels have dibs on those masters.  Some people would dig it but I think it's overkill.  Anything over five CDs is overkill and I don't even listen to The Specialty Records Story all that much.  Buyer beware indeed.

49 years ago, this was the playlist at a Duluth Minnesota am radio station.


Barrett Whitfield And The Savages-Under The Savage Sky (Bloodshot 2015)

Nobody makes this kind of music anymore certainly on the major labels.  But for one Barry White (no not that late great soul singer) aka Barrett Whitfield, he's more Howling Wolf, Wilson Pickett and Iggy Pop, and his band has a guitarist that played in the Lyres and produced this garage soul rocking album, the followup to Dig Thy Savage Soul, to which Little Steven's Underground Garage played regularly it seems.    Peter Greenberg has that 60s in your garage sound down pat, and Whitfield can howl with the best of them on such classic tracks as I'm A Good Man, I'm A Full Grown Man and Bad News Perfume. Perhaps I'm A Good Man would have been a better way to end the album rather than the moody Full Moon In The Daylight Sky.  You won't hear this on regular radio, it's too much punk and garage but betcha Little Steven will plug it on his show every chance he gets.  And it beats Chase Rice all to hell too.
Grade A-

PJ Harvey-Rid Of Me (Island 1993)

It's clear to me that what passed for noisy alternative rock in the 1990s has really dated itself and not in a good way.  Even though Harvey has been a critics darling throughout her career, a little of her goes a long way, even more on this noisy album that Steve Albini recorded.  I had this CD once and got rid of it, and decided to revisit it from the bargain bins and no, this hasn't aged at all.  Harvey can scream out of tune with the best of Courtney Love and the Man Size Sextet is the cause for a fast forward button.  She can display a rock side, Me Jane  is the best by far.   Ecstasy is better the second time around, and the other version of Man Size is good.  Steve Albini's adds his usual sound for some effect but his "recording" tends to overpower Miss Harvey.   I think she got better on her next album To Bring You My Love but Rid Of Me, she channels her inner Courtney Love.  With mixed results.
Grade B-

Shakin' Stevens-Get Shakin  (Epic 1981)

It's odd I never gave much thought to Stevens although his sound was close to Rockpile as anybody.  In fact I can't give you a reason why I didn't buy his records till finding them one by one in the Goodwill bins.  Get Shakin is basically Epic's condensed version of three albums he issued in the UK. A fine rockabilly star in his own right, he even employs Albert Lee on a few songs as well as Mickey Gee and Geraint Watkins, the mentioned names have played on albums by Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe who was Rockpile.  He also knows covers too, covering the Blasters (Marie Marie), George Jones (Revenuer Man), and Buck Owens (Hot Dog).  Of course the number one single This Old House in the UK went unnoticed and the only top 100 song he had was 1984's  I Cry Just A Little Bit which petered out at number 67.  Which deems the fact that Stevens was perhaps too rockabilly for the American public to digest.  But Dave Edmunds would produce him later in the 80s.  Overall a fine US debut from a guy that if you like the sound of Rockpile, you'll get a kick out of hearing it. I know I did.
Grade A-

Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels Greatest Hits (Roulette 1985)

One of those grab bag LPs that Roulette threw out in the mid 80s and while the Rhino album was the better of these best of, the one omission of Turn On Your Lovelight was the reason that I ended up buying the cheaper Roulette reissue.  If nothing else, this song itself shows why Johnny Bee is one of the best drummers out there alive today that nobody knows about.  His beats reminds me of a train goring through town. Of course the majority of the New Voice hits are here, Jenny Take  A Ride, Little Latin Lupe Lu, Devil In A Blue Dress, and of course this shows off Ryder's powerful vocals.  But still Greatest Hits remains that the Detroit Wheels backed up Ryder with plenty of rock passion. Jim McCartney and Johnny Bee would figure into the late 70s band The Rockets and have a couple hits on their own too.  But this is where it all started, the Rhino set is better but my heart remains with the Roulette cheapie.
Grade B+

Johnny Otis-Rock Me Baby (The Mercury and Peacock sides 1951-1955) (Rev Ola 2007)

Otis is one of the early rock and rollers but like most of the early ones, they got their start in Jump Blues or Big Bands and Otis was no exception.  Born a Greek but raised among black folk, Otis really absorbed the music influences of the time and turned it into his own sound, his biggest hits came on Capitol with the Bo Diddley influenced Willie And The Hand Jive and Ring A Ling, one of the more intense rock numbers of the late 50s.  While at Peacock, he played vibes on Johnny Ace's Pledging My Love and bring out the early rockabilly of Big Mama Thornton's Hound Dog.  No denying Rock Me Baby has hints of rock, but it's more jump blues and Mel Walker's Charles Brown/Billy Eckstine  type of singing, and the slower blues of Brown's influence, while good, tends to put me to sleep.  The hokiness of Call Operator 210 comes to mind of dated early 50s pop and I think Otis kind of sensed that as he plays with  a arrangement of The Peacocks spicing up what was getting to be a lax version of The Game Is Over.  Otis did revisit the early days of jump blues with One O Clock Jump and Groomp Blues, both minor houserocking classics.  Otis was beginning to get his act together after leaving Mercury for Peacock Records and working with Johnny Ace and Big Mama Thornton on the forgotten Yes Baby and beginning to sing more, including the title track and Shake It.  For a historical CD, Rev Ola does put in a couple missing pieces of Johnny Otis' music and the liner notes are informal.  You can probably live without this, I tend to think of the Mel Walker songs as a nice tribute to Charles Brown or Billy Eckstine but really don't do nothing for me. But the more uptempo songs and the hilarious Wishing Well with the underused Ada Wilson are the better songs.  If you're into what Johnny Otis does, this might work for you.  And if you're into Johnny Otis music, I'd like to talk to you about that as well.
Grade B+

Bon Jovi-Burning Bridges (Island 2015)

The writing on the wall, Bon Jovi bids adieu to Island/Def Jam after thirty years of highs and lows and surprised he hang around as long as he did on the label.  The tabloids say Mercury, but he's been a Island roster dude since Universal bought out Mercury, shut the label down and kept Jon on Island even though Mercury did return a few years later. Major labels are a shell of their former selves and that is even more true today.  While the reviews have been scathing, I kinda find this record somewhat listenable, even though having the insufferable John Shanks to produce and telling Bon Jovi to add those Mumford and Sons Woahs and Hey Yeah.  The title track just might be the most F.U to a major label since Graham Parker's Mercury Poisoning and Bon Jovi couldn't call it Mercury Poisoning Part 2, or This Island Isn't Big For The Both Of Us.  Side 1 has a couple fun songs the Richie Sambora co write credit of Saturday  Night Gave Me Sunday Morning or A Teardrop To The Sea.  We can't forget the new anthems of We Don't Run or I'm Your Man, although you won't hear much of them as time goes on.  Problem remains the boring assed ballads and side 2 is full of them, Fingerprints,  the Coldplay ripoff Life Is Beautiful and Who Would You Die For, yeah nobody going to request that one although they'll go with I'll Be There For You.   Don't expect Island to pay for a retirement party for Jon anytime soon after this final product is delivered and released last week and forgotten next week.  Like the majority of Bon Jovi albums, this is spotty and even more lackadaisical but I will give him credit for a good protest of a major label on his final try.
Grade C+

Men, Women And Children (Reprise 2006)

One of those throwaway tax writeoffs bands of the 2000s that nobody gave much thought about (and with good reason) their one and only album appeared in 2006.  They couldn't decide if they wanted to be the next Modest Mouse or Franz Ferdinand, so the lead off track they tried to go for a sound like Scissor Sisters with a disco sound somewhat like Funkytown.  At times MWC comes off like Information Society but with less emotion and less songwriting ability  and although there are bits of moments to remember (Vowels with A-E-I-O-U nothing chorus that's easy to remember and to chant too), the rest of the album the band does an okay job of aping other bands be it Modest Mouse or Smashing Pumpkins, but they could never sound like themselves at any given time.  Kinda like another one album band Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants which had a much better album than this one.
Grade C

And the Chicago Cubs continue to have a hot August and taken a few teams to task, sweeping the Braves over the weekend and winning two more games before San Francisco cooled them down 4-2. Still the remarkable fact is that Joe Maddon has turned them into contenders.  Although its too early to tell if they will make the playoff, nobody can beat St Louis and Pittsburgh is just as tough, I'm glad to see the Cubs are playing much better baseball before the year is out.  Go Cubbies.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Week In Review: Bob Johnston, Dogs On Skis, Jolly What!

The short term disability is coming to an end and I'll be back at work next week.  Since my belly button hernia being fixed, I have been at home with no paycheck in hand and a fucking sense of dread due to getting 500 dollar hospital bills for a 10 minute CT scan.  I hate going to hospitals as is in the first place and had I known this little in and out CT session was going to run a half grand even with insurance I would have passed on the spot.   Outside of the fact that 600 dollars is due for car insurance as well as 300 dollars on a Discover Card bill, 100 dollars for electric, 350 for rent and 375 for car payments totaled 2250 for bills.  A way bit excessive especially when the only paycheck was for 514 dollars for working the first week.  Makes me glad that I didn't do Arizona, otherwise I'd be more in the poorhouse.  This also means to live on  about 160 dollars till the end of the month when a steady paycheck comes in.  I probably should have held back on buying all those 45s when I was in Ragged Records a week ago.  But the savings account should cover the overflow of bills this month. Not sure about next month though.

So for the most part, I've been busy wasting precious time on the internet, trying to piece together The Townedgers Discography as well as maintaining this weekly blog of things going on. So far the only fun thing I have been doing has been jam sessions at Wrigleyville on Thursday Nights and at Rumor's Sunday Afternoon.  I have managed to jam with some of the finest musicians here in town and even got to see one of transgender singers hit the stage Thursday Night.  Jeorgia Robison really had a husky voice sounding on some of the blues songs that was sung, from Redhouse Blues to Jesus Just Left Chicago, it was the smooth bass sound of  Jay Carl that made things swing quite well.  They are part of Blue Scratch.

Music still exists in the live venues like Parlor City and New Bo, and having time off nights has enabled me to actually hear some of the new sounds and play in jam sessions.  Dogs On Skis, the legendary Iowa City covers band was there Friday Night entertaining the masses with their music.  They could be one of the better Beatles cover bands out there, after all, they did about 15 songs from the Fab Four that night and the surprises were good covers of Bus Stop and To Love Somebody, I didn't think much of the Mumford and Sons Hey Ho, or Men At Work Down Under but you can't please the old Crabb most of the time anyway.  Still, Nick Stika and company always put on a very tight and rocking show and that night was no exception.  I did managed to take a walk to downtown Cedar Rapids and caught part of a open air country show across the river but I could only take so much of bad Zac Brown Band cover and went back to New Bo and returned to the front area.

While up front and jamming to the tunes, a woman came up to chat awhile with me.  First thing she said that she thought that I looked to be an interesting man.  That's something that I haven't heard in quite a while.   I tend to hang in the background and shy away from most folks.  A long time ago, her and ex husband used to own the General Stone in Stone City but eventually sold that and moved into town.   But we chatted about the upcoming of New Bo and she mentioned about moving into that area, since one of her adopted daughters was going to the U of I and was looking for a much smaller house.  We exchanged pleasantries and promised to keep in touch next time we ran into each other.  Damned if I could remember her name though.  However if she's reading this, I'll be found at Rumor's on jam session Sunday Afternoon (till fall takes over and I'm back out on the trails again).

Progress is being made on the new building at the Indian Creek Nature Center, which means part of the walking trail that used to be one of my daily romps is now history.  I suppose all good things come to an end when it comes to such things, open trail walking before you hit the woods, but it kinda takes away the beauty of the prairie grasses that are out there, as well watching trains pass on through.  I do recall the times of when the ex and I went out there in the fall, walking the doggie and her taking many pictures of myself.  Sometimes I miss that or the occasional trek out to the bowling alley.  After the breakup, I went back into my shell and reported things on the Record Blog and did nothing else besides hanging on the internet.  The jams sessions of the past month has gotten me out in the open and interacting with people more and it's nice to chat and talk and play music.  But I believe that I embraced this type of living, of coming and going and doing my own thing.  I've gotten used to be the old hoarder record collecting dude living in a clutterhouse that would scare away anybody with a remote interest of dating or coming over.  After a night of jamming to some rock and roll, I'm more inclined to say goodbye to everybody, head over to Wally World for late night grocery shopping and off to home.   Or listen to a band at New Bo and then hit the walking trails around town before going back home.  I'm sure strange things have happened before but the way I look at things, living a loner life has worked better for me.  I'm open to strictly being friends, and leave it at that.

My mom turns 71 Saturday.  So basically I had nothing planned so we went out to a dinner and a movie.   So we went to see the movie Max, which is about a specialized dog in the Afgan war whose owner got killed,  Eventually the owner had a younger brother to which Max takes a liking too and while I won't give the details, it involves a so called friend that Max doesn't like and a illegal arms trading that involved a corrupt cop.  I think it's the first movie I've seen in about four years and it kinda cute and everybody got misty eyed when Max went to the funeral of his slain comrade who trained him.   Usually movies like Max, are taken to second run theaters the next month and the crowds are less and less, although my mom had a few choice words about people wanting to seat themselves in front of us and the chatty hens  next to us, but thankfully everybody was quiet and no cellphones were used in the showing of the movie.  Which is why I like going to Collins Road Cinemas, they will tell you to take it outside if you decide to chat up or use your cellphone.  Plus they're the only place that gives you a two dollar bill for change.  Go figure. I was proud that Mom did keep a civil tone, and she did not mention at all about how my car inside was too dirty.  That was a first.
Happy Birthday Ma, the object of my affections.

After this year, I will not be reviewing any new music.  Of course I have said that since God knows when but this year, there's simply haven't been anything worth hearing twice except for the new Blackberry Smoke album.  It's basically simple, the major labels are releasing shit rap and shit pop and shit country and basically instead if me bitching about how terrible the new stuff is, I ignore it.  That gives folks like Farce The Music the time to bash a FGL or the latest pop single from The Band Perry and me talking a listen to something else from the past.  Let's face it, the Major labels are interested in the profit line and to hell with developing any band with talent.  You might cringe at this thought but Miley Cyrus might be the closest thing to rock and roll with her live shows.  It doesn't make me want to go buy her music but at least she has the rock and roll spirit.  Unlike Mr. Kayne West.  Strange how new albums get hyped up till the release date and then after that they all sink like a stone.  But with fall coming up, there might some things to look at, but since Best Buy don't have the good stuff (Richard Thompson's latest yet to be found) and I quit caring, the guess is that I'll review about 50 albums for the whole year.  Forthcoming surprises is my best albums of 2000 and 2001, I found the original blog of those best albums (the original website got taken down years ago) and they may or may not be worth a read.  I don't know yet.  Another Singles Going Steady Series will be coming to celebrate the one year anniversary of the big Davenport finds.  We'll see if the return trip there a year later will have the same results.  I doubt it but it should be another fun read. 

If I'm to believed of the rumors about The Chargers returning to Los Angeles aka Carson California, chances are that I'll be rooting for a different team.  Once upon a time, they were based in Los Angeles in the debut AFL season and games played at the Coliseum had record crowds of about 2 to 5 thousand folks.  For the past decade or two, Los Angeles has not had a NFL team since the Rams left for St. Louis to which they're also rumored to return back to Cally.  I started rooting for the Chargers during the Don Coryell era and the mad bomber Dan Fouts throwing TD passes to Wes Chandler and many others, I still have that prized Dan Fouts jersey of the early 80s which doesn't fit no more.  Except for a ill fated trip to a super bowl which San Francisco ran them out of town, San Diego hasn't done much since and probably won't since they locked Phillip Rivers to a four year extension to his contract. Which means we're stuck with him till at least 2018.  San Diego's inept owner Alex Spanos continues to find ways to make me want to root for other teams, including going to a mutant white helmet and shirt that's not a throwback to yesterday but rather another endless cloning of subpar uniforms, at least the yellow whites of the late 70s and early 80s was much better. But in good faith, if Spanos thinks the money will be better in a overpriced stadium that is breaking the California Taxpayer's back so be it.  But I do believe I might just say the hell with it and root for a outdoor team closer to home.  Kansas City perhaps?

The creepy Col. Sanders guy played by Darrell Hammond has been replaced by Norm McDonald.  That still won't replace me going to Popeye's for my chicken fix.  I suppose McDonald is a slight improvement but it's still more Norm than Harlan Sanders. 

Bob Johnston passed away Friday.  He was 83.  You know him as staff producer for Columbia and Blonde On Blonde by Bob Dylan, but Johnston also produced Leonard Cohen, Simon And Garfunkel, Johnny Cash and The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, both on Columbia and MCA.  When he produced Moby Grape's Truly Fine Citizen, he pretty much told the guys that they had a couple days to get their act together and get the record done.  A no nonsense producer, Bob also revealed a lighter side. A long forgotten 1966 album called Golden Moldies he re-imagines some of the hits of the 60s with a Rainy Day Woman type of songs arrangement.  Released under the name of Col. Jubilation B Johnston and his Mystic Knights and Street Singers (Columbia 9532) it has never been issued on CD. Hell I didn't know it till I stumbled upon it on You Tube.  If you haven't heard it before, it's new to you. 

Record Porn:  Englands' Greatest Recording Stars The Beatles & Frank Ifield On Stage (Vee Jay 1964)

Photos: Tom Dehler (Front and back LP pictures)

Vee Jay kinda knew they had some of the finest Beatles songs before Capitol EMI roped everything in and they promoted the same couple songs on a variety of albums.  Basically a screw job of an album, to get people to buy the same songs over and over again, they were not on stage recordings for sure, but those who did buy the this album got the advantage of having From Me To You on a LP before the 1962-1966 Best of came out.  However those who thought they got screwed out of paying for this album are laughing all the way to the bank as this record has been known be sold for around 300 to 500 dollars and for Beatles collectibles it's one of the most haves, even in any condition (within reason of course, as long as the vinyl is VG playable).  If you're lucky enough to find the stereo version of this album, you might live off the profits very well, one sold for 22 thousand dollars in 1995! One of the key valuables is the misspelling of this little tidbit when they reissued this under the title Jolly What!  "It is with a good deal of pride and pleasure that this copulation has been presented".  The Vee Jay folks were so hell bent to rush it all one more time that they didn't bother to proofread. Copulation or Compilation regardless, the former word (screw job) would tend to be the overall assessment of this record.  But who knew that this would be a highly sought after copulation album? 

I actually found From Me To You/Please Please Me Vee Jay 45 a couple weeks ago from my favorite record store Ragged Records for about 8 dollars in fairly good shape.   I came across an cracked 45 of it at a Madison Savers store of the same name.  As for Jolly What? (or On Stage) this is more of a showcase for the easy listening/country singer Frank Ifield, who's big hit I Remember You is here as well as 7 other songs of note.  Ifield basically reminds me of Slim Whitman and I never did like I Remember You at all, even to a point of bypassing pristine copies of his Vee Jay single and a couple others. Even as a copulation album it really made no logical sense to hook the fab four with an asphalt version of a Slim Whitman.  On historical values in screwing the public, it rates an A, but taken as a whole, I can't give this record anymore than a B minus grade.  But if you have a decent copy, hold on to it anyway.

Vee Jay, once one of the better blues and R and B labels in Chicago, ended up getting their reputation shot down by all the poorly put together Beatles products in the year of 1963 to 1965, except perhaps Introducing The Beatles, which did tie in the missing pieces after Capitol issued Meet The Beatles.  They would released the Introducing The Beatles LP along with an album by The Four Season, who did record for Vee Jay in the early 60s before moving over to Phillips. The Beatles Vs The Four Seasons, a 2 LP battle of the bands series, does have some of the hits from the Four Seasons (Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Big Girls Don't Cry). Transglobal Music finally put a stop on Vee Jay issuing a cease and desist telegram.  Both The Beatles and Frank Ifield would head over to Capitol.  While The Beatles got bigger, Ifield enjoyed a lesser cluttered career, leaving Capitol for Hickory Records in 1966 where Ifield would record for the next four years.  Ifield did have a ear for great Nashville songwriters, he covered Don Gibson's Oh Such A Stranger (Hickory 1486) and John Loudermilk's It's My Time (Hickory 1550) in 1969 before dropping out of the US market till 1979 when Warner Brothers released Crystal (WB 8853), co produced with Wesley Rose, who was once part of Hickory Records.  Vee Jay would get two more attempts to get into the Beatles money with a dull interview record Hear The Beatles Tell All, and in 1965, had a cover band The Mersey Boys do a complete collection of Beatles songs The 15 Greatest Songs Of The Beatles-all composed by John, Paul And George as sung by The Merseyboys, which by then the general public knew better and didn't buy at all, like the Jolly What! album it does commend a few hundred dollars for record scavengers who are interested in all things Beatles and Beatles related.

The Merseyboys were actually The Brumbeats, who recorded a single I Don't Understand for Decca UK in 1964 and had a sound close to the Beatles although when I hear them I think more of Gerry And The Pacemakers. Mike Leander (later of Gary Glitter fame) produced their single and I'm guessing he had something to do with the making of the John Paul George album that Vee Jay released (VJ-1101). Soon afterwards The Brumbeats broke up.

Still in that short history of 1963 to 1965, Vee Jay did their best to get their foot in the door of Beatlemania and any original albums still are on want lists of many collectors around.  Their historical value is more so than the music itself, better best ofs and albums are out there. And if you're looking for more behind the scenes actions behind Vee Jay and their downfall, this link provides that highway to ruin.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Week In Review: New Bo Festival, Buddy Guy

Ever since the flood of 2008, the revival of Cedar Rapids has been slow but one thing that stands out is that the New Bo District has sprung up over the past five years and continues to become the go to place for alternative cutting edge music.  This weekend the first ever New Bo Festival started with Young The Giant leading off a array of up and coming bands.  Like anything new and improved, the first ever music New Bo Festival ended in a rain storm (imagine that).  While overpriced festivals like WARPED or Lollapalooza still bring in thousands, the cheaper and more fan friendly New Bo Festival might be the sign of better things to come and a new tradition.  While it's too early to see if U2 will have a open day for next year's New Bo Festival, all I can say is that New Bo is on to something.  And with new eateries and buildings replacing the old, it's on the way up.  Now if somebody can restore the old 3rd Avenue Live building, we'll be for the better of it.  Next up, around Labor Day, the New Bo Arts Festival.

Over the weekend, Steve Earle came a-calling with a trek to Madison and then a Sunday show in Iowa City.  Our friends at No Depression were at the Barrymore Show in Mad City and filed this report:

Speaking of new traditions Springville will have their end of summer fun days this weekend.  Jake McVey is the country singer that will be playing on Saturday, with an opening country band around town opening up for him.  Usual small town fair stuff to do, Tractor Pull, getting drunk in the beer tent etc.  Weather is supposed to be nice up till Sunday, when a slight chance of rain may appear.  Palo Fun Days is also happening this week, with my good friends Herm Sarduy and Dan Hartman and their band Kick It opening up for Full Circle on Saturday Night. 

The fun of baseball continues here.  Cedar Rapids this Sunday shut out Bowling Green 4-0, helped by a TJ White home run.  Quad Cities continue to do well although Dayton ended their 12 game winning streak on Sunday, both teams are in line to face each other in the MiLB playoffs in September.  In the meantime The Chicago Cubs did the unthinkable and swept the San Francisco Giants in 4 games for the first time since 1977, the year of the Freshmen body snatchers.  And amazingly TBS showed the game without blackout restrictions, which I can't believe that myself.  Alas, ESPN didn't get that message when they blacked out the Pittsburgh game last monday which ended in a rainout.  Which is why consumers are dropping cable.  Nobody wants to see ESPN News hot air announcers talk about Tom Brady suspension 24/7.  And blackout rules only benefits the fat cat owners who take away people's chances of seeing major league teams we rarely see anymore (See WGN Superstation for more proof).  Which, being a Cubs fan has really robbed my chances of staying home and watching them and having to go to a Cubs Sportsbar to see the games. A far cry from cable TV of even 20 years ago before bullshit mergers and adding 15 more minutes of commercials and hot air commentary from the so called sports channels, John Anderson and John Buccigross being the cause of climate change with their idiotic yacking on Sportscenter.   Or even more cringe worthy, Eli Manning's DirecTV spots which are as bad as the sexy Viagra cougar gals touting the blue pill for folks who can't get it up.   Well at least John Lee Hooker and Howlin Wolf can now rest in peace, knowing that their songs are no longer used, for the miracle drug, (side effects include blindness, 4 hour you know whats, even heart attacks.............).  Manning's DirecTV make Rob Lowe look like Marlon Brando.  And don't get me started on that freaky Col. Sanders KFC dude.

As you have seen so far, I haven't been posting much except for the usual Week In Review blog, since I have been doing triple duty in hosting jam sessions on Thursday Nights and Sunday Afternoons, trying to complete the next Townedgers album and doing blogs about the past albums over there.   As well trying to recover from a hernia operation which I'll be back at work in a couple weeks.  Before the month is out, a trip to Madison might be in the calling.  For sure the jam sessions has actually gotten me to interact with some of the finest musicians in town and perhaps a band might be started out of from one of these sessions although working second shift would put a cramp in anything outside of the weekend rocking at the bar.   For some of my Blogspot buddies, they been pretty silent outside of George Stravoian continue to review the lesser known and Brian Wilson and Bruce Springsteen. 2000 Man, one of the few commentators around here, has returned with two new blogs. One about Dire Straits, the other on James Gang In Concert, which surprisingly he must have known I was playing that the other night, you see the guys are trying to learn Walk Away and we needed to know how it went, the chorus everybody were not on the same page.  His latest posting is here:

Columbia House has filed for bankruptcy.  A long time ago, they and BMG Music were the ones that offered 12 albums for a penny or a dollar, which would be a good deal but then they'd send you the latest album in the mail for full price and you either had to buy or opt out of the deal.  A big loss leader even back in the days of cheap music, Columbia House actually quit the CD and LP side to go with the DVDs but that wasn't working for them either, thanks to Netflix.  While there's nothing different between a record club CD or LP, I just never got into buying them and tend to ignore them in the cheap bins, although I did get a Jimmy and Mama Yancey Piano CD (A BMG record club copy) for 50 cents in Waterloo a couple weeks ago.  I think at one point Warner Music Group had a hand in producing the CDs from Columbia House, (which I thought was once part of CBS), which if you looked at the CD it was produced from a WMG plant.  Really, no difference in sound quality outside of the UPC scan code either being altered or simply BMG stamping their mark in that area. I just thought it looked mutant.  Flimed Entertainment, who owns Columbia House simply said they been operating in the red the past 2 decades and while they'll still keep going on, they're looking for investors to take over.  Meanwhile Netflix's profits are over 500 percent in the past five years. Ah, streaming, one of many ways to keep you connected to your computer.

Robert Christgau returns once again with his Expert Witness column with more reviews and a new website that took him in.  How long it will last is anybody's guest but I always enjoyed reading his reviews, even though most of who he reviews I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.

And for the rest of the world, one year later Ferguson Missouri is still business as usual, for every peaceful protest, you get one or two thugs that make it into a riot and nothing changes.  Donald Trump opens his month and offends everybody, including Megan Kelly and nothing changes. The Who has re re re released Tommy with a full orchestra and nothing changes. Billy Corgan is always bitching about something and nothing changes. Phil Rudd believes he'll be back in AC DC and nothing changes.  And Cal Pie the one track mind pussycat continues to walk on my recently washed car with muddy prints and nothing changes.  Meet Mr. Spray Bottle Callie.  Wow never seen a cat jump that high while running off the car.  Something did change.

It was one year ago that Robin Williams checked out of this world.

And now Nightmare at Ivy Doomkitty Lane.  (Photo: Geri Kramer Photography)

Review Time:

Buddy Guy: Born To Play Guitar (RCA/Silvertone 2015)

Perhaps the last bluesman standing, Buddy has actually been part of the Silvertone roster for the past 20 plus years, that's saying a lot considering how the major label business is nowadays.  If you're a legend, like say a Tony Bennett or a Leonard Cohen at Columbia you have it make and basically on name association the major label don't have to write your album off as a tax loss.  For many years though Buddy Guy has been screwed by the best of them all, Leonard Chess kept taking advantage of him till Vanguard took him in the late 60s but Buddy did play on the classic Chess albums from Koko Taylor and Muddy Waters. Then a four decade hookup with Junior Wells, which also led to the classic Hoodoo Man Blues on Delmark, but even Atlantic dropped the ball on their Play The Blues album by recording them with a drugged out Eric Clapton, who still owes a good album with Guy.  But Guy finally got that classic album in him in the 1991 Damn Right I Got The Blues album and here he is 24 years down the road with Born To Play Guitar, which is more streamlined than the 2 CD set that got released last year.  It's a good album but it goes on a bit too long.  At age 79, Guy still sounds two decades younger than his age and he still plays mad guitar.  The duets and guest stars are hit and miss, I enjoy the Billy F Gibbons' mad guitar on Wear You Out, and Kim Wilson does channel the old Chicago blues, most notably on the Little Walter staple Too Late.  Certainly this record does have a feel, like the late B B King's One Kind Favor, it's Buddy Guy paying it forward with stories about Muddy on the acoustic played final number Come Back Muddy which Buddy wishes for the days that Muddy can come back and play and one day Buddy will be able to join the great Chicago bluesman from afar.  However how much as heartfelt as Flesh And Bone is with Van Morrison, once again somebody has to decide upon having one background don't yell at me women singers moan in the background and the song becomes too sappy, and Josh Stone tries to 'can you top this' with a over the top screech at the end of the Dinah Washington/Brook Benton cover of Baby You Got What It Takes.  Samantha Fish would have made a better alternative than Stone. Take away the over the top female guest stars and it's a A minus album.  As for the rest of the album Guy can rock and roll with the best of them on Crazy World and show the young ones how to do the blues with Whiskey Beer and Wine.  While B B King was winding down on One Kind Favor, Buddy still shows he has plenty of say so in his albums and Born To Play Guitar is one of his better efforts and Tom Hambridge works quite well in the production chair.   I do think on the next effort Hambridge if he decides to add guest stars to at least get ones that try to work better in the context of Buddy's music rather than the ones that like to show off how great they sing.  Suggestion: Bonnie Raitt or Miss Sam Fish?
Grade B+

Tripmaster Monkey-Faster Than Dwight (See How EP 1993)

They came from Davenport and they made this Ep and two full lengths for Sire in the 1990s.  This EP, recorded in Cedar Falls at the legendary Catamont Studios does show a Nirvana influence but as well Uncle Tupelo with the stop start beats and going from loud to soft and back to loud again.  I wouldn't call this power pop, nor grunge for that matter.  Garage rock with a kick, although the five songs offered are dated pieces from the early 90s.  Standouts would be Present Tense and closer Liquid Sky but Faster Than Dwight sounds like a it recorded in one day and hope that something would stick.  The next album Goodbye Race they would find their collective groove before losing it all on Practice Changes after Sire switched labels from Warner's to the less receptive Elektra.
Grade B-

The Best Of INXS (Rhino/Atlantic 2002)

You know it when the CD era is over is when you find 5 copies of Best Of Inxs in the dollar bins along with about 10 copies of Achtung Baby or 20 copies of Cracked Rear View.  It ain't going to get better folks, the Millenials kids have lived their lives through computers and have no use for outdated storage media.  In their heyday, before the Millenials were even thought of and their mom and dads were hanging at the local meet markets in town, chances are somebody was playing Inxs.  This best of ignore the first couple albums before the one with The One Thing and perhaps their best song ever Don't Change, and this is where the record begins.  I tend to think Listen Like Thieves is their best album, Kick the most overrated and anything else is in between.   Although this is missing Heaven Sent, this is probably the one album to get from Inxs since most of the hits are here and Need You Tonight is without that annoying Radiate part.  Michael Hutchins was for a while, the sex symbol of the late 80s although I'm sure that put a cramp into the style of the band, but they could do dance numbers (Devil Inside, The Original Sin) as well as corporate rock (New Sensation, What You Need) and alternative rock (This Time, Disappear).  They sold a ton of Kick and X but somehow the world soured upon them after Welcome To Wherever You Are and they were never the chart toppers again. Of course their cred got tarnished when they started did that reality show of finding a new singer (J D Fortune) and that eventually led to a new album (the actually listenable Switch) and to a lesser enjoyable all star tribute album (the flop Original Sin) but basically The Best Of Inxs is the one to get should you want to relive your 80s youth all over again.  Which is probably why I skip over New Sensation since the folks at DeSodas played it every night......
Grade A-

Mac McAnally-Simple Life  (Warner Brothers 1990)

For one of the most gifted singer songwriters of country music, his output has been unbelievably spotty  albumwise.  Somehow in the late 80s Geffen Records thought he was too country so this album got assigned through Warner Brothers, just before Universal bought out Geffen.  I'm sure Jim Ed Norman had something to do with this since he became part of Warner Nashville.  Despite the abundance of slow tempo songs, Simple Life one of Mac's better albums,  lead by failed country single (one of many failed country singles Mac had over his long career) Back Where I Came From, it is the best song off this album although the title track comes in a close second.  Fact of the matter is McAnally remains one of the best songwriters in Nashville with the family first honesty of Down The Road to which all fathers do want to know if the potential future husband of their daughters make enough money to maintain a family, a far cry from the Jerry Springer influenced idiot Nashville writers of today (Dallas Davidson anybody?).  Although the ballads tend to bore me, it's McAnally's honesty that makes Simple Life a pretty good album.  I do wish he would up the tempo a bit more though.
Grade B+

Wilderness Road (Columbia 1971) 

I came across them by accident when Real Gone had a sale on CDs and I ended up getting their second album recorded for Reprise Sold For The Prevention Of Disease, which was a funnier and better album.  The first and only release for Columbia works a concept album of sorts.  Somewhat of a cross between The New Riders Of The Purple Sage,  Poco and Mason Profit, more of the latter, the first album gives us the first version of Revival, a medley of original gospel songs which does suggest what Mason Profit was doing before the Talbot Brothers did find Jesus.  What sunk this album was that there was true hit single that could be taken from this record, and while they joke about the Hampton Grease Band Music To Eat sold double copies and was the 2nd poorest Columbia Records release ever (A myth) Wilderness Road's S/T album might have been number 3.  It's a shame really, the country rock was actually better than Poco From The Inside which came out around that time.  They do know how to jam, Pictures In The Gallery is probably the best and although the record loses steam toward the end song Rider's Return, the quick ending made me wonder is that all?  And Columbia had enough, dropping them after releasing this album.  Strange to say that the lesser selling Reprise album got a CD release that this didn't.  If somebody brings it to Real Gone's attention perhaps they'll issue it.
Grade B+

The Chambers Brothers Greatest Hits (Columbia 1970)

Bart Testa, whoever the fuck he was, called this a must avoid in the Rolling Stone Review Book Edition One, which means he didn't liked it at all.  One of the snob reviewers he also gave a big PFFFFT to Queen-News Of The World.  But then again, look his name up and he's more a film reviewer or Professor at University Of Toronto-St. George Campus.   Perhaps Rolling Stone put a gun to his head to review it and he gave it a bullet.  In some ways he could have a point.  Side 2 of this so called Greatest Hits falls apart with Let's Do It and Love, Peace And Happiness, not one of their better songs.  Perhaps Bart didn't like I Can't Turn You Loose, the Otis Redding cover and of course it pales next to the original or the Live In Europe Otis Version.  Perhaps Bart couldn't handle the full 11 minute freakout of Time Has Come Today, although when I bought this LP, I too was fooled that it was not the 4:45 edit that radio played.  I had two versions of that song on 45, one was the butchered 3:05 before the jam part, the second was the poorly constructed 4:45 edit which the omitted jam is gone but the last verse was poorly mixed despite the scratchy appearance.  The Chambers Brothers Columbia albums were all spotty, even their classic The Time Has Come LP had filler tracks.  Even without Uptown, I still like Greatest Hits better than the slopdash Time Has Come The Best Of, which included the rejected and hard to find first run through of Time Has Come Today.   But I also like the crazed Can't Turn You Loose and People Get Ready, although Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions lay claim to that number.  Overall, I do recommend it more than Bart Testa, who should just stick with the theater and the arts. To which he has done over the years.
Grade B+

Rod Stewart-Smiler (Mercury 1974)

This is where Rod's hot streak ended and boy did it ever.  When Rod signed on to Mercury Records, he was an unknown but beginning with The Rod Stewart Album, Gasoline Alley and Every Picture Tells A Story, Rod had a uncanny knack of picking great songs from other artists as well as penning his own number, Martin Quittenton being the perfect foil and partner who helped shaped up an overplayed classic named Maggie May.  But by Smiler, something wasn't quite right and perhaps the shaky first take of Sweet Little Rock And Roller was the sign of things to come.   Some moments of pleasure, Elton John playing on Let Me Be Your Car but the more rocking Hard Road (which sounds like The Faces backing Rod up) are the highlights of a album that never seems to take off.  The Sam Cooke number sounds uninspired, and I still don't know what to think of You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Man.  After this record Rod went over to Warner Brothers and reinvent himself as a classic rocker with a more polished sound and questionable hit singles (Tonight's The Night, Do You Think I'm Sexy) and later a lounge act with the Great American Songbook Series he did with Clive Davis but in some ways Smiler is the end of an era.  The era of the acoustic troubadour with a sloppy bar band sound (RIP Mickey Waller), perhaps the end as I care to remember Rod the Mod.   Smiler is a very sloppy album, but somehow it bookends The Rod Stewart Album as what Rod could do best.
Grade C

Mini Review of the life and times of  Ryan Adams

I don't share the majority of the Americana music papers on the universal love on Adams, in fact he's been a lot more spottier than say Jeff Tweedy and Wilco or Jay Farrar's Son Volt.  Even his original band Whiskeytown got caught up in the fervor of their albums when they were still around.  I love Faithless Street (the original Mood Food album version) and liked Rural Free Delivery as well.  The outpost albums of Strangers Almanac and Phenomena, the former album one of my co workers heard me playing it and called it most depressing thing she's ever heard.  The latter the end of Whiskeytown and the beginning of a streak of albums that Adams put out on Lost Highway, which are a mess upon themselves.  Basically each album, showed Adams taking over Whiskeytown and changing their sound from The Burrito Brothers to something like Joy Division gone country.   On his Bloodshot debut Heartbreaker, he's arguing with his producer and that sets the tone not only for that album but for his career.  Then Universal signed him up to Lost Highway label and Adams threw everything but the kitchen sink from here on out, the best one Demolition which has the last of the Whiskeytown influence and some band members.  His WTF moments came during an aborted punk rock album that Lost Highway wanted nothing to do with, and a 2 part EP which became the full blown Love Is Hell, his love letter to goth music and Morrissey.  The only thing that came close to being good was the 2 CD and LP Cold Roses, made with a band called the Cardinals and showed a balance between The Grateful Dead and perhaps The Byrds. I tend to think The Cardinals were a better bunch of musicians than Whiskeytown, but with the wide eyed innocence and country rock of Faithless Street, that band wins out.   Since then Adams had moved on, he surprised the world by marrying Mandy Moore (they later divorced) and moved over to Capitol for a pleasant debut, but with Capitol being bought out by Universal, his last two albums have been released via Blue Note.   The S/T album I heard good things but passed when Adams called it being influenced by The Smiths.  He continues to push the envelope,  he was pissed off when a troll in the audience called out for Summer of 69 by the other Adams, Bryan and Ryan fumed about that for months.  But he did eventually thought better of things and did a version all his own.  And now his next project is covering songs by........... Taylor Swift of all people.    Certainly Adams is one of the more interesting artists of the past decade by following his own music vision.  It doesn't always work but when it does, Adams can still give Jeff Tweedy a run for the money.

Caitlin Cary, the fine singer and violinist in Whiskeytown remains very active in the Raleigh Music Scene and activist but she's an very excellent needleprint artist too.  You can find some of her award winning art from this site:

Whiskeytown Albums

Faithless Street (Mood Food  1996) A-  (Reissued via Outpost Records 1998 with bonus tracks)
Rural Free Delivery (Mood Food EP 1997) B+
Strangers Almanac  (Outpost 1998) B
Phenomena  (Lost Highway 2001) B-

Recommended Ryan Adams Albums
Heartbreaker (Bloodshot 1999)
Demolition (Lost Highway 2002)
Cold Roses (Lost Highway 2005)
Ryan Adams (Blue Note 2014) 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Week In Review: "irreconcilable differences", Coda, Rowdy Roddy Piper

Celebrity marriages, just don't last.  First it was Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, then it was Will Smith and Jada Pinkett and now it's Galvin Rossdale and Gwen Stefiani calling it quits after 13 years together.  It seems nobody stays in love anymore. Even Reba has call it a day with her hubby Narvel Blackstock.  So what is the point of love anymore if nobody stays in love anymore?

Billy Sherrill, legendary producer for Tammy Wynette and George Jones passed away at age 78 from a short illness on Tuesday. Most of the artists that you heard on Epic in the late 60s through the 80s, chances are you heard a song produced by Billy.  Originally a rockabilly artist he switched to production and originally worked with Jim and Jessie (Diesel On My Tail) before discovering Tammy Wynette.  Just like Jerry Kennedy at Smash/Mercury, Sherrill worked with a pop country sound and for many years was associated with George Jones up to Jones' passing.  He also gave fellow rockabilly star Charlie Rich a big hit with Behind Closed Doors in 1973.  Sherrill worked on Elvis Costello's 1980 Almost Blue album as well.   But Billy will be forever remembered for the countrypolitian sound of country music of the 70s.

Lynn Anderson passed away from a heart attack, she was 68.  Best known for her cover of Joe South's Rose Garden, Lynn had a few choice hits on Chart Records before moving to Columbia. I always loved her cover of Rocky Top.

Death continues on.  Cilla Black passed away at age 72, from complications from a fall.   Rowdy Roddy Piper passed away from a heart attack Friday at age 61.  Piper was one of the more interesting good/bad guys of the WWE and also was a B movie actor.  He will be missed.

In the US, you can't have anything nice, nor safe to go hitchhiking across America.  HitchBOT, a robot that survived going across three countries before trying his luck in America met his demise in Philadelphia after some drunken  man born without a penis  decided to take his wrath of no manhood on the poor defenseless robot.

  Perhaps the guy just couldn't cut it in Hip Hop or skating anymore, who knows, or perhaps he got his spraypaint cans taking away so he couldn't tag a building. While the masses would like to give Mr. number 12 a taste of his own asskissing, HitchBot holds no ill will against his attacker who lost out on a meth deal.  Even in death Hitchbot points out that sometimes bad things happen to good robots. But he lives on with his friends. Just like the oxygen robbing doofus lives on, to beat up on future Hitchbots that come into Philadelphia.  Next trip you might want to avoid that area.

The uproar continues against Dr Walter Pulltooth Palmer, the traveling poacher who killed Cecil the Lion and claimed he didn't know that the lion had a GPS collar last week. The public outcry and even the Zimbabwe Government wants to have Dr. Pulltooth extradited to face poaching charges.  Which of course, avid hunter and rock guitarist All American Ted Nugent had to add his two cents into the whole thing, we all know Ted's right.  While HitchBot might be forgiving to his no penis attacker, the world isn't so much on Dr. Pulltooth, calling for his head. Dr. Pulltooth Palmer might have been one of the best dentists in Minnesota, his reputation have now lowered him down to Hitler, Kim Jung Uncola or any Cubs pitcher that blows leads.  Angry people have been leaving bad reviews at River Bluff Dental via Yelp, and although Yelp continues to delete them, twice more bad reviews come up.  Dr. Pulltooth also ran afoul of the law by killing  black bear in Wisconsin a few years ago and lied about it.  Whatever the case may be and even with Ted Nugent on his side, Dr. Pulltooth pretty much slashed his own throat by killing Cecil the Lion, chances are he'll be in hiding for the rest of his years. Until a angry elephant stampedes over his teeth on the next big game hunt.  One can only hope.

Want Meth with your tacos?  That was the question posed when the local police shut down the Taco Bell on Blairs Ferry Road next to the interstate.  Remnants of a meth lab was discovered in the early morning hours and the shady Ken Duby was arrested on meth charges, the other guy was used to work there was an assistant manager.  While the usual complaining customers were crying about not being served, it's easy to point out that 10 minutes away you can go to Lindale Mall or the one across the street in Marion, or just drive down 380 to 33rd Avenue to have your hash browns not tainted with meth.  After all, there's no shortages of Taco Bells in town.  On a different but related note, Popeye's which enjoyed a half year of many customers on my side of town will get their own store off Edgewood Rd SW.  Which means they'll have to knock down an a couple houses (God forbid if anybody should purchase one of many empty buildings down that street), but it should open before the snows hit.

The Chrome Horse, which got shut down due to a fire last year is now relocated in the former Grill Your Own Steaks Place and Fieldhouse on Blairs Ferry Road (and a few miles away from Taco Metlab).  The hope is that this will be a place for local bands to play at and perhaps another jam session setting as well.   The move away from the old place at New Bo is due to cost effectiveness, but it wouldn't surprise me to see another mircobrewery to take the place of the old Chrome Horse. We shall see. 

It had to happen, a spoof on Metallica via Garfield, known as Hetfield the cat.  Enjoy the cartoons before the No Fun boys shut it down.

The Dead is not dead quite yet. After the success of their Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago, Bob Weir, Micky Hart and Bill Kretzman will hit New York but without Phil Lesh.  Otell Burbridge will replace Lesh on bass, and the guitar player will be John Mayer.  Weir says that there'll be a few more concerts as well.  On a related note, what's left of Faces will play in a one off reunion.  It would be the first time Rod Stewart has played alongside Ron Wood and Kenny Jones.  A shame that this didn't take place when Ian McLegan was still alive.

Earlier in the year I came across this chewed up picture 45 sleeve of Jack Scott's Goodbye Baby for a quarter at the Salvation Army and thus begin a half year search to find a suitable single of this forty five.  Most were scratched up but Bob Herrington had a couple of decent ones and I settled upon a DJ copy of said song.  So now, you can say there's a nice reunion of 45 and sleeve.  Next up, trying to find a decent 45 of Swinging On A Rainbow by Frankie Avalon although it's not high on the list of 45s to get. For the dude who was searching for rocker bitch and her vinyl at the pawn shop, since you wanted some record porn, here ya go.  Record porn of Goodbye Baby by Jack Scott.  Enjoy!


Led Zeppelin-Coda (Super Deluxe Version) (Swan Song 2015)

I didn't buy the fourth time released Jimmy Page remastered supersets of Led Zeppelin albums, I did not see the need of rough mixes and reference copies of songs, although I'm sure the sound quality was improved, but then again the sound quality improved on the Jimmy's first trys of Led Zeppelin's catalog.  The original review of Coda was that Page missed the boat; we didn't get the whole try of outtakes and as long as Hey Hey What Can I Do wasn't on any album, be it Coda or perhaps it's more suitable home on Led Zep 3, the discography was incomplete.   Not this time, Jimmy Page finally closes the book and perhaps the vaults on this history of his most famous band on this 3 CD expanded edition of Coda, which Hey Hey What Can I Do is with Traveling Riverside Blues and Baby Come On Home, and would have rounded out the original album with at least an A minus grade.  However the treasure troupe of outtake goodies is somewhat rare and for a good reason left in the can although the shortened If It Keeps On Raining (later When The Levee Breaks) you can hear the band tinkering with it which would be redone later in a classic version.  And Bonzo's Montreaux, is basically John Bonham playing around with his drums, fun to hear but not required listening. The Bombay Orchestra sessions are hit and miss, Four Hands (later Four Sticks) kinda putting me to sleep whereas Friends is better but again it's not something I'd listen to.  In raw form The Wanton Song (Desire) and Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light) is interesting to hear, but certainly Robert Plant wasn't not sold on the lyrics on the latter song, a major rewrite would happen and with much better results.  There really wasn't much Led Zeppelin in the archives anyway, most of the songs were used on the albums and the outtakes were either jams or ideas waiting to be put to better use.  Coda did pretty much cleaned up the vaults with the exception of the long lost B Side to Immigrant Song on the first go around not included.  This time around, Jimmy Page does scrape the bottom of the barrel and I suspect that will be the end of it, unless he decides to redo The BBC Sessions or How The West Is Won, which would be pointless to get.  While Robert Plant has moved on to do his own thing, Page remains stuck in the past, promising to get off his collective butt and rekindle his solo career, which we haven't seen anything new since Outrider (1988) and his hanging around with The Black Crowes in the 1990s.  For the curious, Coda along with Led Zeppelin 1 are the deluxe reissues to get but only if you have an extra 20 dollars laying around and even being a fan, the outtakes are merely curios, which doesn't add much to the legacy of Led Zeppelin but if you're a fan, you might want to listen for a few times.

Grade B+

Split Enz-Waiata  (Mushroom/A&M 1981)

For New Zealand's best known band, they were too quirky for their own good.  The early Chrysalis albums showed a Roxy Music influence and even bits of prog rock but by the time they got their lucky break (and great single I Got You) they had more of a pop edge although the Eddie Raymer's instrumentals on this still hold roots in the early years.  However, while big brother, Tim Finn was still writing them out, Neil's songs had enough hooks and melody to give them that elusive hit single that was missing over the years (I Got You).  Waiata continues the Split Enz' pop direction sound, and although the reviews were not as glowing as True Colours, it was just as good of an album, although side 2's return to the old sound doesn't quite jell.  Standouts include the Squeeze like One Step Ahead and History Never Repeats which could have been a bigger hit had the band worked on the ending of the song rather than fading it out.  The lesser known (Iris, I Don't Want To Dance) are not bad and somewhat improve over Walking Through The Ruins or Ships.  Even though Tim Finn remains the main songwriter, it's Neil that is beginning to have his own sound and songs, which would eventually become Crowded House, the band after the Enz when Paul Hester, the last drummer to join the Enz would figure into Crowded House. Perhaps the last Split Enz album that still had its roots from Mental Notes before the whole pop thing took over.
Grade B

Shoes-Stolen Wishes (Black Vinyl 1989)

The thing about cult artists is that their albums or CDs usually are found in the 2 dollar all sales final bins and basically many things can be found, even Luke Bryan's Spring Break Checkin Out has been in the Clarence bins for a while.  Looks like Bro country on the way out?  Zion Illinois' very own Shoes have craved out a cult following living, making some of the best power pop on various labels (Elektra mainly) before returning back to their own label and putting out the occasional album or two. This 1989 album doesn't vary much on the sound, except for the more digitized drum sound but there's a catchy hook or two on She's Not The Same or Untangled. The vocal harmonies of Jeff and John Murphy and Gary Kiebe are super smooth but their lost their original drummer and Velvet Crush and Matthew Sweet drummer Ric Mench does a fine job.  Wish there was more of a variation of the songs, but Stolen Wishes is a nice listen anyway.
Grade B

The Bonnie Raitt Collection (Warner Brothers 1990)

For one of the best slide guitarist ever, male or female, I have never really paid much attention to her catalog and I suppose I should.  First of all, Bonnie never hid of the fact who her idols were and thank God for her mentioning Sippie Wallace and having her on two songs of this mixtape of her Warner Brothers years, compiled after Nick Of Time became the surprise hit of 1989.  While this overview steals quality tunes and surprises (a 1976 Women Be Wise song with Sippie Wallace helping out) and the early romps of Give It Up Or Let Me Go and Finest Lovin Man, these are the songs that give the legend that is Bonnie, and the funky numbers with Little Feat (with Earl Palmer stepping in for Richie Hayward) just as funky fun.  Too bad Warner Brothers decided on the single edit of True Love Is Hard To Find rather than the full version.  Of course there's those MOR ballads that made Nick Of Time what it is and those kinda derail the fun, I'll take the Rolling Stones riff of Willya Wontcha anyday over Love Has No Pride or The Glow for that matter.  If they would have included something with Fred McDowell and/or Me And The Boys I'd recommend it a bit more.  A good but flawed overview.
Grade B+

22 Cent CD Classic:  Rick Parker-Wicked World (Geffen 1991)

These days Rick Parker is better known for a producer (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) but back in the old days, he was once part of Lions And Ghosts, a West Coast band that sounded more British and their two EMI albums have moments of greatness. In 1991 he made his only solo album for Geffen, and Wicked World is one of those CDs that you see in the cheap bins that nobody buys.  Somehow this copy that I found for a quarter came from the Davenport Stuff Etc, and how it managed it found its way to Cedar Rapids is beyond me.  Perhaps one of two albums that Geffen messed up on the A and R side of things, the other Murray Attaway's In Thrall, Wicked World turned out be a freebie CD that seemed to be given away more than people buying it.  Perhaps the album cover showed Parker to be more of a boy band dude playing pop music, I wouldn't say if the pictures were the death of Parker's solo career, but Wicked World is not that bad.  It does have a slant toward Gene Loves Jezebel, also Parker goes for the blue collar type of songwriting like Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi for that matter.  Failed hit single Salesgirl Blues and the title track does rock honestly, but I think the sameness of how the rest of the songs sound makes Wicked World a good but passable listen.  Parker would try for a more pop sound on his next band Sparkler and their album Wicker Park.  The Lions And Ghosts albums are worth seeking out.
Grade B-

Albums Of My Youth-Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack (Polydor/Reprise 1977)

Perhaps the biggest selling double album in history, everybody had a copy of this on LP or 8 track and I suppose I'm no exception, if I didn't I wouldn't be talking about it.  You couldn't escape anywhere without hearing The Bee Gees' Staying Alive or How Deep Is Your Love and I wouldn't go so far as calling this Bee Gees Greatest Hits and other songs thrown in for fun is that they worked their butts off getting that right high helium sound which sound like caffeinated chipmunks.  The early hits of Jive Talkin and You Should Be Dancing do fit in the disco rock mode although Jive Talkin is not a disco song.  For soul Taveras' version of More Than A Woman is better and for a disco band K C and The Sunshine Band get shorted out (no Get Down Tonight) on the 2 minute Boogie Shoes.  David Shire's disco songs are filler and less useful than A Fifth Of Beethoven and MFSB, the outstanding Philadelphia session players to The Ojays and Jerry Butler, have a cover of the Nite Liters K-Jee which is more filler music, than say  Sexy, which would have a better selection.  Things end quite nicely with the masters of disco The Trammps burning the place down with Disco Inferno.  I have pleasant memories of high school dances that would play Saturday Night Fever (most of it anyway) but everytime I revisit this soundtrack, it really doesn't do too much for me.  Barry Gbb and that high end tenor gets a bit too much even on the hits.  It still remains a very important album of the late 70s, and even the 1995 remaster and putting it all on a single cd, the sound is quite remarkable. I'm sure the Reprise re remaster is just the same.  If you want to relive the 70s at your next reunion it will fit in quite nicely.
Grade B+

Playlist from 44 years ago. From the archives of Bill Pearson.