Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week In Review: New Blah Music, Marshall Koehn, Farm Aid

At some point, I'll be back here more often than I have been.  I've been busy writing archival stuff for The Townedgers Blogspot site of old albums or wasting afternoons watching football and going out to see baseball.  However I have some major hospital bills to take care of, which means I haven't gone up to Madison, and thank our lucky stars we didn't do Arizona this year.  Getting 500 dollar Unity Point bills for a 10 second cat scan really has drained the budget and more ways than one and GD if yet another 179 dollar bill came in the mail this week.  So for new releases I've been previewing them and I have to say that the C grade given to Alabama's Southern Drawl might be a bit generous, but I'm not going to change it to a worse grade. Alabama's ballads are their calling card and they do have some good songs, but alas the title track and Hillbilly Wins The Lottery or Footstompin Music is Bro country bad.  They should know better but perhaps this is the recording industry giving them one more victory lap before they go back into being a oldies act.  And too bad, they need Mark Herndon more now than ever behind the drums but that's not going to happen ever again.

You can't trust All Music or Rolling Stone for what they give out for four star albums.  The trick is to divide their star count in half and you'll get the best grade.  Wish I could say that the new Keith Richards album is worth getting but it's not.  For a 22 year followup from Main Offender, it's falls short of expectations and it has about 8 songs too many.  The world really doesn't need a hour long album, which half is subpar ballads and the rest a peek inside of Keith's record collection. Crosseyed Heart isn't a total bomb, the fans who like it have good reason, Richards knows enough Chuck Berry styled riffs to even make the less inspired uptempo numbers worth a listen or two.  Richard's keen sense of humor shines on Amnesia and Trouble, but I think I like Love Overdue better than his straight take of Goodnight Irene.  As always, The Winos, his longtime backing band featuring Waddy Wachel and drum god Steve Jordan suits him fine.  Chop this album down to 10 songs and it will hold its own against Main Offender or Talk Is Cheap. And give points for still rocking them out at age 71 and singing in his nicotine soaked vocals but it's a B minus overall.

Lana Del Ray remains an acquired taste but her third album Honeymoon (Polydor/Interscope) is an improvement over the Dan Auerbach fiasco of last year in spades.  She's got that weird Zombie pop type of music down pat, and at times sounds a bit like Laurie Anderson and Marianne Faithful. While critics are falling over themselves in praise of the the new record, I tend to look at it like I do Keith Richard's album, too many songs and it goes on too long at 65 minutes, you really have to be in a mood to listen to her.  That said, this might be her best album overall with key tracks such as Art Deco or Music To Watch Boys By and quoting David Bowie.  The music journey that Miss Lizzy Grant has embroiled continues on that dark and stormy slope of love and while she's not the second coming of Nico or Marianne Faithful she's getting there.  I tend to think that Dan Auerbach's guitar production may have sank Ultra-violence when I hear Honeymoon and while I'm not as enthused as the critics are on this album, I believe it's her best.  I'd give it a weak B plus but reserved judgement for future listenings.    And the new Darlene Love album is good as well.  A labor of love produced by Steve Van Zandt but I'm really not into her music but if you are a fan of Darlene Love, chances are you will love this album.  Believe the hype.  But I am more interested in the new Los Lobos album.  That one sounds like one of the best of 2015.

Passings: Yogi Berra, one of the best catchers of all time and one of the funnier commentators with his Yogi-isms passed away at age 90. Al LoCasale, who worked with Al Davis and The Oakland Raiders for 30 plus years died at age 82.  Like Davis, LoCasale, started with the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers before going over to Oakland to turn that team into one of the most feared teams of the late 60s through the 80s.

Ben Cauley was the only surviving member of the Bar Kays, the band that went down along with Otis Redding in a 1967 plane crash in Lake Monona and part of my pilgrimage to Madison when I go up there, but he has join the the rest of the guys in the Great Beyond.  He was 67.  He would later start up the Bar Kays with a more funky sound and made a few albums for Mercury along the way.  Cauley took part in sessions with Steve Cropper and Rufus Thomas plus the Staple Singers on some Stax Recordings.  

In the meantime since the passing of Al Davis, Oakland has been a shell upon itself in NFL football, no longer feared but featured also rans but in a former rage of glory they have told the NFL to stuff their gold 50 yard line in tribute to the 50th Super Bowl played on the 49ers field this year.  In this day and era of field turf, multi kinds of uniforms and endless promos of certain events it's nice to see somebody stand up and give the big FU to Roger Goodell and the No Fun League.  But then again you can file this under WGAF.

It was 30 years ago that the first Farm Aid show was broadcast and I recalled it was VH1, back in the days when they were into music and not in reality rap crap that replaced the music.  Maybe it was never about the music in the first place.  30 years later, originator Willie Nelson along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp are still part of the Farm Aid shows, along with Dave Matthews and a host of youngster ranging from Imagine Dragons to Kacey Musgraves who almost stole the show herself.  I'm sure there's better links but Rolling Stone did put a bit of effort in this report. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/15-best-things-we-saw-at-farm-aid-2015-20150921/best-example-of-less-is-more-dave-matthews-and-tim-reynolds-20150921 

In the football side of things, the big explosion you heard was Marshall Koehn kicking a 57 yard field goal to propel Iowa to beat Pittsburgh 27-24. Just as memorable was seeing Brett Greenwood take to the field on a walker for the coin toss. Greenwood who was one of the best DBs Iowa had in the late 2000s ended up with life threatening injuries to his brain that ended his NFL career.  Greenwood had to work hard to even make that trek on the 50 yard line which you had to see in person, with the rest of the The Hawkeyes in tow behind him.  The game itself revealed that Iowa's pass defense is once again lacking, although they did come up with two big interceptions in the first half, the Pitt QB managed to take the team down for a tying touchdown.  The Iowa Punting Team sucked, giving up a Touchdown on a blocked punt.  However the major difference was  C J Bethard, the QB that replaced Jake The Snake Rudock now up in Michigan,  CJ managed to take the team down on him running the ball to get a couple first downs and for the game winning kick.  Marshall Koehn, had a steller career as the Solon kicker, came to Iowa for the first couple years and had some unpredictable and erratic kicks, but beginning with last season found his comfort zone and becoming a reliable kicker.  Destiny was on his side Saturday Night.  In the usual fashion  Pitt called time out after the first kick went wide and short, a practice kick and the one wondering if Koehn would hit it at all.  The second kick removed all doubts and it could have been good from 60 yards, it had a few yards to spare.  Imagine the stunned and disappointed look on the star Pittsburgh running back face as the kick split the uprights and Koehn and company celebrated by running down the field and taking out a few Iowa cheerleaders in the process, something that you didn't see on the regular TV.  A 57 yard field goal attempt is either a good or a bad moment.  A miss and we go into Overtime, but a kick like that, when made, and you become big ten player of the week.  To which Marshall Koehn deserves it. http://www.blackheartgoldpants.com/football/2015/9/20/9361185/marshall-koehn-destroys-pitts-hopes-then-destroys-a-few-cheerleaders

The Midwestern Minor League season is now over and West Michigan defeated the Cedar Rapids Kernels 3-2 to win the decisive game and series.  The Kernels did however score the first run in all of the games that they played and did so again on Monday, Austin Diemer hitting a solo shot and the Kernels added another run in the forth before The White Caps had a three run 5th, boasted by two walks, and two wild pitches, the second wild pitch giving West Michigan the lead for the rest of the game. Ross Seaton pitched 7 strong innings to pick up the win and Joe Jimenez getting his second straight save.  The usual annoyances were noted, more people were there and I had to endure the cowbell banging dude a couple rows down and the Kernel's fan screaming in my ear and pounding on the chair in the back of my row.  Somehow I managed to also sit in the section where a couple folks had their kids in tow, and Junior kept throwing his juice bottle about six times before he decided to leave and made a comment about not bothering me anymore.  Which in essence his kid really wasn't that bad, as daddy made a couple beer runs and wouldn't stay in his seat.  But since he left early it was one less hassle next to the rabid fan behind me trying to make me deaf along with Mr. Need More Cowbell.  However Mr. Need More Cowbell got the last laugh as about 100 White Cap fans made it down to our ball park and cheered their team on.  To the point that when Ross Seaton left the field, he tipped his cap to the fans.   The five game series might have been the best series in quite a while, but in the end West Michigan gets their first title since 2007. http://www.mlive.com/whitecaps/index.ssf/2015/09/west_michigan_whitecaps_get_th.html#incart_related_stories

RIP 1994 Corsica.  After 294,000 miles and being a part of this life for about 16 years, half of that too long, it went to the junk yard this week.  For the most part I didn't want to deal with it anymore and getting the 2013 Impala to replace it, regulated it to the far corner of this house.  If I had my way it would have been gone about 2 years before, the engine might have been saved but the body was rusted out and the damn stereo speakers didn't work half the time.  But Purple made a few trips to St Louis, Des Moines and Mad City, I pretty much got the car by default, my ex missed 3 car payments and I was a step ahead of the repo man to purchase it back.  But I think we got our money's worth out of it and up till 2008 it was reliable before 200,000 miles and it had a habit of destroying car tires.  The hope is try to pay off Redd and save up for another car, provided if I don't get let go from our company of employment.

Julie Pavlova has been one of my bigger supporters of music and recording music.  One of the most positive and sweetest of women that I have ever met online and would like to meet in person.  She lives across the world in the Ukraine and has a website to promote health and well being.  This is her website: http://theshantiworld.weebly.com/

From the vaults, a 1980 half hour showcase of Captain Beefheart. http://dangerousminds.net/comments/big_eyed_beans_from_venus_captain_beefheart_and_the_magic_band

50 years ago this week: The Beatles cartoon series made its debut.  Hard to believe how dated these cartoons are have become but back then they were quality entertainment, safe and plenty of Beatles songs to go around.  If they came out on DVD they would sell but I'm sure the lawyers and copyright holders and Universal would intervene (I'm surprised that they haven't been yanked off You Tube yet), but they are a fun look at even after 50 plus years.  God we are old: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/revisiting-beatles-wonderfully-wacky-cartoon-series-50-years-later-20150925

The Foo Fighters continue to surprise and amaze people with cover songs and special appearances, with a cover of Tom Sawyer with the Yes vocalist Jon Davison, (they couldn't cover a Yes song saying it was too hard?) and then Stevie Nicks appearing for Stop Dragging My Heart Around and Gold Dust Woman with HAIM, Stevie's vocal group helping out.  Even with a broken leg, Dave Grohl have been very creative in the Foo Fighters tour of this year and even winning a couple of Emmys for his Sonic Highways Show Season 1.  If anything Dave is trying his best to preserve rock and roll as well as loving to play rock and roll, even getting praise from his one time Nirvana band mate Kris Novosevic.  Although Kurt Cobain may have been the brains behind Nirvana, it's Grohl that turned out to be the rocker and by keeping himself alive keeping the spirit of rock and roll alive.  The Foos past couple albums never did much for me, but whatever Dave decides to do, I'm all for it and behind him 100 percent.   Plus he seems like a nice guy to go record buying with.

The Davenport finds of a couple weeks will conclude going there for a while.  I went over budget big time, but the secret tub of 45's turned out to be the holy grail of music with finding a better copy of Cruel World by Don Hollinger, to which copies go for 40 dollars on EBAY or in around that amount. Which makes one wonder about the high cost of nostalgia, and why one would have pay so much for a 45 that they couldn't give away at the drive in back in 1968.  While some people jump on the Pink Floyd bandwagon of influential music or The Beatles or whatever classic rock radio plays every damn day (Killer Queen), having a wide collection of cheap 45s back then made me appreciate the lesser known, The Don Hollingers of the world that managed to do one Atco single and disappear the next day.  Music goes way deep beyond the well known, and there's plenty of Northern Soul artists and garage punk bands of the 60s' who are not well known and made one single before getting real jobs to pay bills off.   I think what puts me off about hearing Hell's Bells or Killer Queen is that it feels like these songs are being shoved down our throats, especially the bell tone that you hear at every sporting event or Welcome To The Jungle. Hearing the same song over and over for 20 plus years is as torturous as Muzak. Finding the obscure album or CD or 45 says there's more out there to be heard if one searches long and hard.

Record Collecting today, is a bit more tricky than it was back then 10 or 20 years ago.  The biggest fly in the ointment is the record store having unmarked albums or 45s decides to look up the market value on EBAY and then post accordingly, supply and demand marked up.  And complaints have been rampant on Yelp, when record buyers thinking they're getting bargains are getting popped in the wallet  and the bargain isn't so much a bargain.  As a record buyer, I do have a set list of how much to spend on certain items and Goodwill and the Salvation Army is not going to have certain records in stock, nor the mom and pop record store.  Jukebox 45s are a dime a dozen and most have seen better days, but in the case of dollar wise, paying 10 dollars for Cruel World is like a bargain to me. I know for a fact I will not see that anywhere, unless somebody throws it in the donation pile and I hope to beat the scavengers to it, that is a rare 45.   Bob Herrington from Ragged Records has been very instrumental of having certain 45s of the past that I used to have and didn't take care of, managed to have replacement copies  to which I can relive my childhood.  If the price is right and if the bills are taken care of, then I'll gladly pay money for old 45s and live on Ramen Noodles for the rest of the month.  But there are also set rules from me, and that if I invest such and such dollars, is that the record has to be in very good shape without craters for scratches on 45s.  And in a sleeve too.

Which might separate a record store from a museum, the latter coined for record stores that overprice their stuff to the point that nobody wants to buy them.  In the old days of Rock n Bach, Jim Hanson had a nice inventory of quarter DJ 45s that I did find many things that radio didn't play but this was 30 years ago, to which you can get Neil Young Walk On or Foghat Step Outside for a quarter.  Nowadays somebody would look it up on EBAY and sell them 10 times that price.  Which frustrates buyers who find things unmarked in the dollar section of albums, only to have the owner connect to a computer and base price from Ebay or other sights and it's not a dollar anymore.  And the potential buyer gets pissed off and bashes that record store on Yelp.   If there's gonna be a survival of the remaining of record stores, there has to be a set price at that place and time.  And the consumer would either have to pay for that or leave it behind.  Taking chances at the thrift store is more miss than hit, in fact you're better winning a 10 dollar scratchoff lottery ticket than finding such and such a record. The mindset of the buyer is that they can download it for free on the net anytime they want and that's partly true for Pink Floyd or Zeppelin but not so much for Don Hollinger, Cruel World is not available as a single download or you tube video as of this writing.  Nor is Here There And Everywhere by The Foremost on Capitol.  Let's face it, the new music is not memorable and even myself, as you can tell, I don't buy much new music anymore and even the 2 dollar finds are donated back the next day.  Keith Richards has a 4 star album out on All Music but it's something I buy, play a couple times and forget about it the next week.    I will support the local record store as much as I can and as much as the finances allow but for record store museums they can have their artifacts. There's nothing out that I'd pay 50 to 100 dollars for a obscure 45.

I'd hold in my hands for a minute and put it back.

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