Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Week In Review: Townedger Radio 12, CR Kernels, Gary Richrath RIP

Football season is upon us once again.  The rivalry that is Iowa/Iowa State took them to Ames and Iowa prevailed 31-14 to relocate the Cy Hawk trophy and take it back to Iowa City.  While it looked shaky at the start and losing Drew Ott to a dislocated elbow, the defense got tough in the second half and made life a living hell for Sam B Richardson, who in the last couple games had his way.  He got upstaged by C J Bethared who used his arm and legs to get the Iowa offense a jolt, something that Jake Rudock couldn't do last year and saw the writing on the wall and transferred to Michigan to become their starter quarterback under first year coach Jim Harbaugh, who decided that his job at San Francisco wasn't too long. Michigan won their game at home this week and although Harbaugh is in rebuilding mode, chances are good that he might get the team to be better this year and perhaps in the future beat the dreaded Ohio State University that has flourished under Urban Meyer.  While Rudock has proved to be a capable leader, his arm has always been suspect and he simply can't throw long like C J can.   But Iowa won't have to worry about facing Michigan this year as they clear some of the cobwebs that were in the empty trophy case.  Hopefully the trophy case will get crowded this year.

But we still have baseball going on and with three weeks left in the season, St Louis still leads, with Pittsburgh in the chase.  The Chicago Cubs on the other hand have faltered a bit, splitting a series with Philadelphia and may have to settle for the other wild card spot.  The relief pitching has become a Achilles Heel of sorts, with new acquired reliever Fernando Rodney replacing the now departed Soriano, in has been stoppers past their prime.  Tommy Hunter has been somewhat absent as well, while Joe Maddon gives halfwit Pedro Strop chances and Strop continues to help the other team.  On a plus note, the Cubs starters are still doing quite well, Jake Arrieta in the running for the Cy Young Award.  While the Cubs did take two out of three from St Louis last week, the Wednesday game showed that the relief pitchers simply didn't do their job and St Louis came back to win the game.  Still St Louis should still win the division, The Cubs started cold and didn't beat the Cardinals at all early in the season.  But at least Joe Maddon is doing his best to inject a new attitude for the team.

On the minor leagues, here in town The Cedar Rapids Kernels swept the Peoria Chiefs.  Game 1 saw Keaton Steele held the Chiefs to 1 hit in 8 innings.  LaMonte Wade had two hits and Max Murphy hit a 2 run home run to keep the game out of reach.  Peoria came back with a run in the night but Nick Anderson recorded his third straight save for the 3-2 Kernels win.  Game 2, played in Cedar Rapids started out with the Kernels taking a 1-0 league before Peoria came up with four unearned runs in the third inning.  With the bases loaded, T J White flubbed a grounder and threw wildly past first and Peoria scored two runs.  A balk forced another run in and another single gave them a 4-1 advantage.  But Cedar Rapids chipped away at the lead with a run in both fourth and fifth innings.  In the 7th inning the Kernels scored the tying run on a passed ball by the catcher and Chris Paul drove the winning run in with a single, scoring T J White who slid past the catcher's attempted tag.  TJ made up the errors with a couple of spectacular plays  in the 6th and 7th innings.  Lorman Yanda came in the eight to strike out Peoria but in the 9th after his forth straight strikeout, Brian OKeefe walked, despite the umpire missing a couple of borderline pitches.  Next batter, Steve Bean hit a screamer toward Nick Gordon who turned it into a unbelievable double play to end the game.  Cedar Rapids wins 5-4 and goes into the Championship round, with the first two games up in Michigan (West Michigan or Lansing)  and the rest of the series in Cedar Rapids next Saturday.  Which means I'll be missing another jam session on Sunday if need be.

As I try to take into what happened Friday Night between seeing the Dunshee Moon and then what turned out to be a mini high school reunion, it really hit home that I spent way too much time thinking some of the girls that I went out in high school, and that the ones I thought did like me, really never did.  I got that impression about Susan Raue who with Janice and a couple others that after all this time, while I doubt Janice would waste time to go to a reunion, if she was there I wouldn't know.  While Susan can be a bit more liberal than myself, we do share certain things and bands, it's easy to remember her license plate, which goes by Mama Kin, she tends to be more boorish and more uppity than when she was driving me nuts when we were in high school.  You'd think she would at least say hi but I guess we're not in the luxury enough for her to say hi to me too.  Nevertheless, the reunion was fun, I got to chat with many folks I haven't seen before.   That said, it kinda made me mad that our high school reunion of last year turned out to be a fucking bust, that most of us didn't get  invited and although 10 people did show up on a day notice it still was a fucking bust.  Not to get too caught up in that, I do recall that when they had it, we were dealing with floods and heavy rains but nobody bothered to do a make up date.  There was talk about a reunion at by Stone City but nobody followed up or cared enough to keep an interest to that.   Whoever gets to do the 40th reunion will have to find a different bar to go to; the usual place where we had the get together of previous reunions Bill's Tap is closing their doors this Saturday.  The owner is retiring and the city of Marion wants to do away with that bar anyway.  I'd like to go but I was never much of a fan of Bill's Tap and the Kernels will be playing that night.

The passing of Gary Richrath on Sunday was not noted very high in the music section.  His time has passed and Rolling Stone and SPIN magazine would rather deal with Nicki Minaj or the latest fad rappers but for us Midwesterners  he was a very important guitar player in the regional band better known as REO Speedwagon.  Back in the old days, when record labels were still grooming new acts for the radio and it took more than two albums to do so, REO Speedwagon was a nice rock and roll band that went a few changes before they struck the gold mine with the 1977 You Get What You Play For album that was a 2 record set of their best known songs.  And Gary was one of the main singer songwriters although he was more interested in playing guitar than sing, he only sang on two songs in the REO history.  Then REO became a ballads band and after a difference of opinions about musical direction, Gary left the band and started his own Richrath, which only made one album for GNP Crescendo and then spent the rest of his life fighting the drug and drink demons.  In 2013, Richrath made peace with Kevin Cronin and the guys got together during a Illinois fund raiser to raise funds for tornado victims to bash out Ridin The Storm Out, which was basically Gary's theme song.  Even as Kevin Cronin gave a heartfelt tribute to Gary's passing that didn't stop the folks from bashing Cronin's music direction of the band in around 1985.  Perhaps that may have more to do with shady managers and their record label trying to turn them into Muzak rock balladeers, The Epic Records of the 80s were much different than the label of the 70s with the revolving door of A and R men and record presidents coming and going.  In the early 70s of them trying to find that sound and going through capable vocalists (Terry Littell, Kevin Cronin and Mike Murphy before Cronin came back in 1976) REO Speedwagon made good albums (Their first remains their most adventurous), even their cult classic Riding The Storm Out showed them to be more pop  rock in the Crosby, Stills Nash way.   The REO album, to which Cronin returned is really the first album that would point them to the promised land of ballads, but they still rocked a lot harder thanks to Richrath's guitar work.  With the surprise selling of You Get What You Play For,  which may have kept them on the EPIC/CBS roster, REO would make that first ballad/rock album with You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish, with better production (John Boylan), better sound and better songs which Time For Me To Fly would become one of many patented REO ballads that the girls couldn't get enough of.  I prefer Blazin Your Own Trail Again, and come to think of it, enjoyed Tuna Fish over their breakthrough Hi Infidelity and the overplayed Keep On Loving You which is being played somewhere on the net and radio 35 years down the road.  And after that, REO spent more time on the ballads rather than the rockers, to which Hi Infidelity might have been their last true classic, but again better albums like Nine Lives which did not have a ballad and Tuna Fish which got by on Gary Richrath's guitar chops and rock attitude.  In the end he had to leave the band, he was too rock and roll for the band's pop balladry of the 80s.  Time and age really did get to Gary, but he could still wail away on the guitar up to the end.  And Kevin Cronin knew this, to which he still has a old picture of his guitar buddy wailing away as Kevin is singing to either 157 Riverside Avenue, or Riding The Storm Out.  And is happy to share that picture to the world.

The thrift stores are expanding around here, no shortage of junk thrift stores as Stuff Etc's Blairs Ferry Road location takes over the spot where there was once a gym.  This Friday, Goodwill opens their third Cedar Rapids location on Mount Vernon Road, in the old Drug Town location. I'm sure I'll be spending lots of time there as well. 

Ragged Records, the chosen place of forgotten 45s has a new website. Tell Bob that Crabby sent ya (although you won't get a 10 percent discount if you do).  Ragged Records still remains the place to buy new vinyl records and they continue to keep up on the latest releases. http://www.raggedrecords.org/

Singles Going Steady Medley: Same number, different labels

Sheila Tilton-Half As Much/I'll Be Whatever You Say (Con Brio CBK-110)  1976

She has a more soulful vocal than Debbie Grebel, the other Con Brio artist that was featured last week, but suffers from a slick Nashville Edition sound of backing that kinda sinks this 2 minute honky tonk single, B side is a bit more rough around the edges, and probably the better side. She was known as the girl with the heavenly voice which might suggest she has a gospel type of  vocal, but to these ears, she very much somewhat like a countryfied Bonnie Bramlett.

Rick Smith-The Way That I Love Her/Catching The 9:45  (Cin Kay 110) 1976

After hearing this second single I'm convinced that this Rick Smith is more in line with Bobby Goldsboro or Dickey Lee on this song, which does remind me of Honey by Goldsboro, and just as forgettable too.  B Side Catching The 9:45 is an improvement, but as the lack of record sales meant that world didn't need another Dickey Lee or Bobby Goldsboro.



Rachel Sweet-Fool Around (The Best Of) (Rhino  1992)

She could have been New Wave's answer to Brenda Lee, but once Stiff Records went belly up, CBS tried to turn her into Pat Benatar which didn't exactly work to her advantage, and the stand alone Collectibles CD of her last two Columbia albums are night and day. As a 15 year old, she knew her oldies and she had a sense of humor that made Fool Around, her debut, the best and perhaps we should focus our energies on that album for vintage new wave. Rhino used 13 of the 15 songs off that album but left off Truckstop Queen in the process.  A nice update of B A B Y and even if her version of Fool's Gold doesn't replace the Graham Parker version as the one to own, at least she got part of The Rumour to help out.  Be Still, the Devo cover is country and her wild style of Who Does Lisa Like or Put A Metal On Mary she aims to be Wanda Jackson.  But her Everlasting Love (which turned out to be her biggest hit) is something I'd never listen to again, it contradicts the new wave sound Stiff was trying to get out of her and more toward what Columbia wanted her to be.  But out of all the artists that were part of Stiff/CBS, Sweet survived the longest and when Then He Kissed Me came out, the fun was over.  Rhino ignores her last album Blame It On The Night with good reason. In the end, Fool Around, The Best of simply suggests that Fool Around (The album) is all you need from the teen from Akron Ohio.
Grade B-

Bill Cosby-Wonderfulness (Warner Brothers 1966)
Redd Foxx- Foxx A Delic (Loma 1966)
You Gotta Wash Your Ass (Atlantic 1976)

Bill Cosby's falling from grace from being accused by at least 50 women of various charges of being taken advantage of (I read the stories and accusations and trying to keep this clean) has tainted his cred and reputation of being the ultimate family dad on The Cosby Show.  Like many of you out there, his comedy albums of the 60s still remain classic despite the bad press and behavior of once was America's favorite dad.  Wonderfulness remains one of his best albums of childhood memories that most of us can relate to.  Getting our tonsils out and having him describe it in great detail all the way of getting ice cream only to find out that the parents bullshitted you.  Putting together go carts by stealing baby stroller wheels and having your own theme song while going downhill shows that life did exist without us having smartphones and still having a good time.  Cosby had a very keen eye and ear for detail about the past.  Side 2, the epic Chicken Heart remains one of Bill's best comedy routines, a segment about Bill getting too involved in a spooky radio show and getting into his dad's crosshairs.  Not all Cosby's Warner albums are classic, When I was A Kid never really warms up, and 200 Miles is a side long snoozer but next to Bill Cosby Is A Funny Fellow  RIGHT, Wonderfulness is Bill's best comedy, give or take a punch line or two. Grade A-

Redd Foxx on the other hand, is more of the blue comedians, more like a black Don Rickels but with more four letter words, Foxx made some of the more profane and hilarious race comedy records.  The Loma Foxx A Delic is a pretty raw album and somewhat laid back then the Laff/Dootone albums which were so X rated that you had to ask for them by name.  You Gotta Wash Your Ass is his sole Atlantic release, coming off the success of the Sanford And Son show series.  This is Redd Foxx as his most polished, he throws one liners, and quick jokes at hand.  You Gotta Wash borrows a few things from Foxx A Delic including the butcher joke later in the show. The title track comes into play at the end, where Mr. Foxx, in his Fred G Sanford voice reminds one to clean up before doing it. The Loma album is more rougher and rawer, but the Atlantic version is sweeter.  Both are B+ albums.

Wynonie "Mr Blues" Harris-Rock Mr. Blues (Rev-ola 2007)

While the US major labels have given up making anthologies for the original early R and B and rock and rollers, labels like Bear Family, Ace UK and Rev-ola have picked up and in some cases did a better job compiling the hits.  Harris, best known for Good Rocking Tonight, continued to have some major hits for King Records in the 1950s and this 30 song retrospect, even without Good Rocking Tonight, still makes a nifty little tribute to one of the more arrogant but excelling R and B shouter.  Plenty of anti P.C. songs on here (Keep On Churning Till The Buttermilk Comes, Sitting On It All The Time, Bloodshot Eyes), but Harris throws in a bossa nova rap on Please Louise, which reminds me a bit of Viva Las Vegas from Elvis done years later.  The lesser known songs like The Deacon Don't Like It or Mr Blues Comes To Town, is Wynonie on the top of his game.  His hard living of women and blues and good times was beginning to catch up with him and the sole and rare Atco single Tell A Whale Of A Tale/Destination Love shows that Harris was not exactly fitting into playing rock and roll and feeling like a fish out of water so to speak and his voice was beginning to show that, the long decline leading to a a couple more stops at various labels, his last at Chess, his voice shot but this collection stops after the Atco single.  The argument is that Harris made his best sides in the early 50s after Good Rocking Tonight, the compilation here backs that argument up.
Grade A- 

Don Williams-Currents (RCA 1992)

Williams' third and final platter for RCA doesn't differ much from the other two, in fact I have never heard a bad Don Williams album, a change of producers from the reliable Garth Fundis to Allen Reynolds (Garth Brooks) in a major label attempt to get Don back on the country charts. While the reviews were more giving of Currents, I liked Pure Love better.  While reviewers complained about the sameness of It's Who You Love or Too Much Love, I like them more due to of the sing along chorus.  It seems like a concept album at first glance, a lot of the songs deal with water. (Only Water, That Song About The River, Standing Knee Deep In A River (Dying Of Thirst), Catfish Keith). Too Much Love does come across like a list song (too much coffee, too much tea etc etc) but it's easy country rock feel does make you want to sing along if you're not complaining about it.  Reynolds while a good choice of producer does have that polished touch, it seems like Garth Fundis finds ways to make a Williams album sound better.  Alas, Currents didn't sell enough for RCA to keep interested so they cut Don loose.  But this is still a quality album, and Williams still reminds one of the best country artists ever.
Grade B+

Eric Clapton-Complete Clapton (Reprise 2007)

Given the wide range of music that E.C. has done over the years, trying to put it all into a 2 CD set can be a bit of work. Still, Polydor's Crossroads box set remains the overall champion, we didn't have to contend with Eric's blah 90s output or the muzak blues that became the unplugged version of Layla complete with some paid stuff suit whooping it up on the chorus line or when E.C. does a lead, that gets annoying after a while.  Disc 1, is the better of the two, it's has plenty of Cream hits and hits from the Polydor/RSO era to make it a nice resume up to I Can't Stand It.  But it does show that Clapton was getting more laid back as the albums progressed onward and his perfect life he wanted to be  J J Cale.  Disc 2, is the Warner/Reprise years and shows that Clapton was trying his best to have hits, his best album was Money And Cigarettes but only Rock And Roll Heart made it to the list. Way too much of the Phil Collins produced stuff, and Journeyman, while not as bad as Behind The Sun or August was, still overrated.  I find some beauty and comfort in Tears In Heaven but later drivel like My Father's Eyes or Change The World is simply background noise in a uncaring environment.  His blues numbers were uneven too, even for a guitarist with a love of the blues, he got too professional, even on From The Cradle although Motherless Child is one of the better latter day blues he did, even more than Sweet Home Chicago from his Robert Johnson tribute album. Concluding the whole thing with a song with J J Cale ends this on a upper note with Ride The River, one of the last Cale did before passing on a couple years later.  This collection was released around the time of the EC autobiography which is a must read.  The companion CD version is a luxury you can live without unless you find it in the dollar bins or if Crossroads the box set is a bit too much to listen through.
Grade B-

Alabama-Southern Drawl (BMG 2015)

The title track might be most blatant sellout attempt that they ever did, which sounds like Pour Some Sugar On Me countrified.  But life has changed on country radio and the type of music Alabama is famous for back in their hayday is basically big band and doesn't fit the Bro Country genre. Unfortunly it reeks, the usual line of we drink beer, drive trucks watch football bla bla is more suited for Cowpie Aldean or Jive Luke Bryan.  Or Hillbilly Wins The Lottery, which might worked better had Colt Ford or Cletus Judd did some rapping for fool value. They're good at one thing, ballads which Alison Krauss helps on Come Find Me, perhaps a updated Feels So Right.  Which will get the Alabama females fans swooning.  If you can overlook the cornball Bro Country attempt of the title track, it's Alabama as we know and sometimes like and tolerate.  But the ugly fallout between them and their former rock drummer Mark Herndon has kinda  tainted their reputation.  But you can always rely on them doing tributes to the American worker (this time out the farmer) and lamenting a return to go back to the country, to which they were compared as the ones breaking up tradition to the Nashville hit makers at that forgotten time.   In the end, I'll take their romantic Come Find Me over the Bro Daddy crashing Bro Country Junior's party of Southern Drawl the song.
Grade C

Counterpoint: http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/album-review-alabamas-southern-drawl

Townedger Radio Number 12 (Broadcast 9/16/15 via Lucky Star Radio)

Playlist: The Music Of The Townedgers

Just To Satisfy You (Unplugged Outtake from Fitting Finales)
Better Off Alone (Unplugged Outtake  From Fitting Finales)
We All Sleep Alone (Single mix from  Forthcoming Trains)
Tornado (Outtake from Forthcoming Trains)
Throw That Beat In The Garbage Can (From Bizarre Behavior)
Pale Blue Eyes (Outtake from Pawnshops For Olivia-From Townedgers Country)
It's So Hard (Outtake from The Highway Home)
Molly's Folly (Outtake From The Highway Home)
Be With Me (from 7/7/2007 Sessions)
Sail Away To A Brand New Day (From The Best Of The Townedgers)
New Maierburg Blues (outtake from 30)
The Perfect Life (Outtake from Pawnshops For Olivia-From Townedgers Country)
Midnight Rider (From Townedger Country)
Riders On The Other Side Of Midnight (outtake)

No comments: