Monday, September 28, 2015

Week In Review: Super Blood Moon, Wooden Nickel Lottery, Cubs Win, The 80 Club

So here we are into the fall after a eventful summer of jam sessions and checking out the local bands.  While Western Iowa got hit with 8 inches of rain from a tropical Pacific depression, high pressure on top of us blocked that over here, so we have had nice warm sunny days although we have now lost about an hour and forty five minutes of daylight.  Gets pretty dark after 7 PM here and it's bound to get darker.  Which means leaves will be turning colors and we'll be knocking them off the car once again.

There is joy in Chicagoland, The Chicago Cubs made it to the wild card playoffs.  Jake Arrieta won his 20th game of the year, the first Cubs player to do so since 2001 I think and somehow the crazy magic of Joe Maddon and the youthful players like Kris Bryant and Kyle Scharber managed to get the Cubs in the playoffs a couple years earlier than planned.  Anywhere else The Cubs would be in first place but they're third behind the St Louis Cardinals who should win 100 games this year and the Pittsburgh Pirates who seems to beat anybody else in other divisions but not in their own.  Although I did get to see a few games, (although ESPN did their damnest to enforce blackout rules and screw Cubs fans out of some weeknight games)  the loss of Chicago Land WGN in favor of USA Light Superstation WGN did figure into not seeing them more than we used to.  For the first time since the dreaded 2008 series, the Cubs will figure into a one game wild card playoff with Pittsburgh, but in all fairness and what this team has gone through, this season will be a success story.  And Jake Arrieta won his 21st game Sunday Night shutting out Pittsburgh 4-0, salvaging the final game of the series and stopping Pittsburgh's 8 game winning streak.  Can you say Cy Young winner?

On the other side of things, The Baltimore Orioles will be staying home.  Chris Jones being the most hard luck hitter this year with yet another amazing catch by Mookie Betts to end a game  Although he has hit 40 home runs, he could have at least 50 this year, but he's made the highlight reel the hard way with 8 of them being hauled from across the fence from various teams.  It's gets tiring to see that all that time, even when you think it cleared the fence, only to have a Mookie Betts take away a game winning "walk off" and turned it into a loss.  Some folks fall in rose bushes and come out smelling like shit, others vice versa.  It's even worse when you're the high school Marion Indians who once again lost Dewitt Central in the game of the winless teams.  35 years ago, the Indians won the 3A title beating Atlantic up in Cedar Falls.  This year they might go winless, and they looked worse for the wear in the mud last week when Solon ran over them 35-7.  The case of irony is Tony Perkins who QB that team that won it in 1980 is the coach of the zero for the season team this year and since winning the opening game last year, has not won since. Perhaps the ghost of Les Hipple, which Tony is tied for all time victories is prolonging that?  Dewitt Central held them off 21-14 after Marion's fertile effort to tie the game didn't happen.  If Marion was located in Arizona, they might have a chance to win at Kingman, which they do have a win but was shut out 59-0 from last years' champs River Valley. Kingman gets to play Lee Williams High which, like Marion is looking for a win this season.

The Super Duper Blood Moon was out in full force Sunday Night and while it looked a bit dicey with clouds, around sunset the clouds parted and the moon begin to disappear in the earth's shadow.  We were blessed by seeing the whole thing, and a few shooting stars as well.   Brian Johnson out in Arizona shared this photo of the happening.  It ended a big day of me going into town and participating in another jam session and then taking off to catch the last set of Wooden Radio Lottery, the up and coming rock band blues from here featuring Jess and Rich Toomsen and Mike Gallo's vocals.  And I talked to Rich and Jess for a few while digging their tunes with Tim Henderson one of my classmates in high school and we seem to catch each other at these venues, with him crashing a jam session and taking a picture of yours truly in action.   With them opening for Anthony Gomes in Davenport, their set list is what I consider to be rock and blues.  Both Gallo and Rich can play lead guitar and on a instrumental that I think was Eric Johnson inspired Rich Toomsen did a excellent job. And yes Jess can play her bass behind her back.  Mike Gallo is a pretty good vocalist as shown on the ole B B King classic Thrill Is Gone and Bobby Blue Bland Further Up The Road.  Perhaps the one who stole the scene was a 5 year old girl (I think she was the drummer's daughter) doing a version of You Are My Sunshine and she knew all the words.  A future star in the making perhaps?

After Chris Ackland's suicide, Lush was put to rest.  But they have announced that they are reforming and will appear together in a London show in May next year. Like the Primitives, Lush was a shoe gazer pop rock band, but a bit more spacey Choctaw Twins rather than the new wave punk that the Primitives favored.  4AD will issue Ciao! their best of as a 2 LP set and a box set called Verse. Lush CDs can still be found in the cheap bins and that's where I discovered them.  I like Gala, their 3 EPs on one CD set the best.

Eddie Montgomery announced that his son Hunter passed away from an accident and was on life support for a short time. He was 19.  Blake Shelton, still reeling from his divorce will put on a happy face and be the first performer to play at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.  Provided if he gets over his hangover.

The 80 club has two new members.  One is Johnny Mathis, who along with Nat King Cole redefined lush pop music made by black folks.  While plenty of his albums are in bargain bins at local Salvation Army stores,  I do have 16 Greatest Hits which has his trademark hits It's Not For Me To Say, Wonderful Wonderful and the eerie Maria.  I do recommend his 1973 album that he hooked up with Thom Bell titled I'm Coming Home, a rare moment that Mathis went for a updated soul music sound. For being a romantic style singer, he threw a curve by coming out gay, but then again with a voice like that you never seen him with any women back then.  After I'm Coming Home, Mathis retreated back into lush MOR pop hitting the charts with 1978's Too Little Too Late.  The other 80 year old is none other than Jerry Lee Lewis, who outlived all of his rock and roll cohorts (with the exception of Little Richard).  He should have been dead years ago, still he was the ultimate rock and roll rebel, being blackballed after marrying his 13 year old cousin.   Jerry Lee crossed over into the country market and reinvented himself, although he never gave up his rock and roll roots, The Live At The Star Club, was a scorched earth of a live album which could be considered a forerunner of punk music, backing him up.  His record label sat on it (it was issued aboard) till Rhino put it out sometime in 1990s.  For the 60s and 70s, Lewis had major country hits on Smash/Mercury, trying the patience of Jerry Kennedy, but in 1973 he was paired up with some fine musicians for The Session, Peter Frampton and the late Rory Gallagher adding some nasty slide guitar on Whole Lotta Shakin Going On.  Once the hits dried up, he later moved over to Elektra for a couple decent records, and to MCA for a forgettable effort.  Sire Records then picked him up in 1994 for Young Blood and since then, Jerry Lee has lived a semi retired life, with the occasional album with guest star musicians, Jimmy Page played on his overrated but truthfully advertised Last Man Standing album and a brief return to the major label on Mean Old Man for Verve/Forecast.  I kinda grew tired of his all star collaborations albums, and tend to favor his Sun years or the Smash/Mercury albums, most notably The Killer Rocks On and his duet with Linda Gail Lewis on the harder to find Together album.  It seems that Jerry Lee is so evil, the devil doesn't want him himself, his antics are the stuff of legends even if paying a late night visit to see Elvis and threatening to shoot up Graceland might be a bit extreme.   I wouldn't be surprised if Jerry Lee outlived us all.  Here's to you killer ;-)

I got to hand it to Real Gone Music for their lightning quick shipping of three cds that I bought during their annual big sale and ended up getting the droll McGrough and McGear 1967 album for EMI, the late Dick Wagner's sole Atlantic release and Belfegore's 1983 Elektra album which may have been the missing link between Killing Joke and Ministry.

Eye candy of the month- The "giant baby" Jaymee Lawton

If you lived out around Goodyear on the I 10 area, chances are you saw this big plywood picture of a big baby girl off the Duncan Family Farm.   Nevertheless Jaymee is now all grown and looking quite nice for a teen.  She turned out to be a pretty good softball player   Alas the term can't have nothing nice applies here, the big baby survived haboobs, heavy storms and fucking moron taggers and vandals but in 2013 they finally dismantled the baby.
As for Jaymee Lawton, she battled 663 her final year in high school and signed on to play at Utah Valley University, joining her sister Kelsey.  She's has come a long way since being the "giant baby" at Duncan Family Farms.


Los Lobos-Gates Of Gold (Los Lobos Records/429 Savoy 2015)

Although Made To Break Your Heart is pure rock and roll, the album feels more like Kiko or the Latin Playboys, the side project of David Hidalgo and Louie Perez.  David's son Junior is the main drummer (Bugs Gonzalez is saved for the Live performances) and his herky jerky rhythms seem to be perfect.  I have no problem with Cesar Rosas' Spanish songs, they do tend to fit very well in any Los Lobos albums and he's more in presence than on 2010's classic Tin Can Trust, and he's pure rocker than the abstract songs that Hidalgo and Perez usually do.  Still Made To Break Your Heart is the best song on the album, but Los Lobos continues to mine their influences of blues and rockabilly and Mexican as well.  The title track is second best and everything else is very good.  Perhaps a bit too much emphasis on the Latin Playboys sound and Tin Can Trust was a better album, but still I think it was worth the wait to hear what these longtime LA vets put out.  But then again the only song radio plays is La Bamba, Los Lobos are no one hit wonder and I have yet to hear a bad album.  Then again Louie Perez does not make a bad song either, David might be the better singer songwriter, Cesar might be the rocker, but Louis Perez is the one that keeps things going.  To which we are thankful he's still in the band.
Grade B+

Don Henley-Cass County (Capitol 2015)

Going country is not a big surprise to Don Henley, he's dabbed in country during the early years of the Eagles before they became Corporate Rock Darlings with Hotel California.   At times you want to smack him upside the head (The Last Worthless Evening, radio continuing to play Boys Of Summer 23 times in a day) and the never ending Eagles farewell tour, which continues 23 years after the fact. But honest to goodness, Henley hasn't made an album this good since I Can't Sit Still and for that matter Cass County is 10 times better than Long Road Out Of Eden, that disaster of a double album that I couldn't finish to listen to the end. The surprise of it all, is that the guest stars do a fairly good job, even Mick Jagger plays it straight on Bramble Rose and plays good harmonica too, a far cry from what he's known to do with his regular band. Of course Miranda Lambert helps out, as well as Dolly Pardon and even ole Merle Haggard on The Cost Of Living.  In these days and times, it probably pointless to put out an album that gets listened to once and file away and forgotten and I'm sure that fate will await Cass County, but for the first time in many years, Henley sounds committed on this album.   For real country, it sure kicks Luke Bryan's ass.
Grade B+

The Valley Girl Soundtrack (Rhino 1994)

Cult movie but the soundtrack was almost a perfect view of new wave music, although leaving off Girls Like Me by Bonnie Hayes takes this CD down a notch.  The movie was famous for acknowledging The Plimsouls and Josie Cotton, the S/T steals three songs from Everywhere At Once, The Plim's sole Geffen release and Josie has her two best known numbers here, Johnny Are You Queer and He Could Be The One.  I'm certain the the movie gave a big boost to Modern English I Melt With You to classic oldies status although some of the stranger numbers was hard rocker Pat Travers' I La La La Love You masquerading as  new wave or the overplayed Men At Work Who Could It Be Now.  Lesser known fun stuff from The Flirts (Jukebox-Don't Put Another Dime In) and Gary Myrick (She Talks In Stereo), but leaving off Bonnie Hayes and trading Sparks Eaten By The Monster Of Love for the more flawed Angst In My Pants, turns this comp from a must have to a curio luxury listen.  If you can find More Music From Valley Girl and combine the best tracks, you might have the idea version.  But in my days we call them mixtapes.
Grade B

Dick Wagner (Atlantic 1978)

Richard (Dick) Wagner was one of the twin guitar attacks that shaped albums like Lou Reed's Rock And Roll Animal and Alice Cooper's Welcome To My Nightmare and I contend to remember him that way.  On his sole S/T album, he has the usual suspects (Steve Hunter is the other guitar player as well as the late Dom Trioniano (James Gang, Guess Who)) and bombastic production from Bob Ezrin but in some ways this is more listenable than Welcome To My Nightmare or for that matter, Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell but once again Atlantic dropped the ball and issued this as Richard Wagner to which record stores stuck this in the classical section.  Wagner's steller career begin with The Frost and later the bombastic metal of Ursa Major but he learned his cues from Alice Cooper quite well, even bits of Elton John pop up on Small Town Boy.  Certainly the bombast of Motor City Showdown would have made Jim Steinman envious. If your a fan of Alice Cooper or for that matter Lou Reed's Rock n roll animal or Berlin for that matter, you might like this one.
Grade B+

At Last It's The 1948 Show (Cherry Red 2007)

Before Monty Python, The 1948 Show was British humor at its most British but John Cleese and Graham Chapman were the two main writers of this show and like Monty Python better seen than heard.   A 2 DVD set captures the visual side and perhaps a better buy than trying to decipher and picture the skits in your mind.  Cleese steals the show, Marty Feldman comes close and Tim Brooke Taylor plays straight man and Aimi McDonald just stands there and look pretty.  One of television's earlier form of dingbat although the complaint is that she brings nothing to the table, eye candy so to speak.  Early form of Monty Python can be heard on Bookshop and Four Sydney Lotterbies, The Python versions are better but they're here in rough form. Although the other show associated with MP Do Not Adjust Your Set was geared toward the kiddies, the 1948 Show's does mirrored more of what would be MP but without both shows, M.P wouldn't exist as we know it.  If your a Python fan, you probably tolerate The 1948 Show but if you're not a fan of them, or for that matter British Humor, this will be a waste of your time.
Grade B-

Widespread Panic-Street Dogs (Vanguard/Widespread Records 2015)

Jam bands tend to follow their own melody, Widespread has been doing this for close for 25 plus years and while John Bell still would like you to think Widespread Panic can jam with the best of them, he's never lost his inner Van Morrison.  Duane Trucks is now the new guy on drums and he fits in quite well and Jimmie Herring whereever he goes he puts the swing in the music.  That said Street Dogs is a bit uneven, even for this casual fan. Starts out great with Sell Sell, and even long time producer John Keane adds his own song with Welcome To My World.   Highlights are an cover of Tail Dragger, Street Dogs For Breakfast and on the bonus Joe Cocker tribute tracks of High Time We Went and A Little Help From My Friends.  Widespread have done better albums, they have done slight albums and this record is not their best nor worst.  It has moments of greatness but in the case of jam bands when they tend to bore they meander a bit, and that happens when they go over seven minutes.  Street Dogs is for the W.P. fan, not so much for the casual fan.
Grade B

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