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-


No comments: