Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Week In Review: Gail Zappa, Billy Joe Royal, High Prices Headaches

The ratings have been tanking of late here in Record World.  Even with new stuff and Singles Going Steady, we have not cleared 100 views since last day of summer.  Even a last minute serge didn't top 2,000 views   Way things are going I'd be lucky to clear 1500.  I'm also aware of the loss of photos from the archives section.  When I copied and pasted them back then, whoever had the pictures up would take them down, thus leaving blanks in the blogs, including mine that disappeared.  Since this past year, I posted the pictures myself, and so far this method I have not lost any pictures.  I can't control the deleting pictures of previous blogs, unless I go to each and every one and saved them in my photos and then reposting them.  I have saved certain ones because they do mean something to me. I also lost certain 45s of the past thinking they could last forever, such as Nightmares by The Creation but that picture got deleted as well.   It's not high on my Honey Do list of saving each and every picture, but I hope that if they're still out in net land, they'll be here in Record World.

The Chicago Cubs won their wild card game, beating Pittsburgh 5-0 on a couple of home runs, one from Dexter Fowler and one from Kyle Schwarber, who's been the spark that got the Cubs going.  They seem to wake up from their sleep after being no hit by Cole Hamels.  Of course it helps when Jake Arrieta wins 22 games and had a 0.75 ERA since the all star break and after pitching this complete game gem that's even lower.  Cubs fans are really superstitious, they have taken the Back To The Future part 2 that in the movie that they won the world series in 2015.  If that holds true then the end of the world is in sight.  However, the St Louis Cardinals stand in their way in the first round of the playoffs.  While the Cards had their way with the Cubs earlier in the season, the last couple meetings have seen the Cubs win the series although not a sweep.  Not bad for a team that was still rebuilding, that The Cubs defined expectations and got into the playoffs via wild card.  This year has been a successful one at best, despite not being shown on WGN anymore (The Superstation USA light channel, not Chicagoland WGN which I wish we would trade for any day on our shitty cable company, Two Cans and a Nylon String Cable out of Springville Iowa). Still the Cardinals won 100 games this season and remain a favorite to make another world series appearance.  It's the first time both teams seen each other in the playoffs, but you never know.  Quad Cities had the best minor league record and it took Cedar Rapids two games to dispose of them.  You gotta believe quoted from the late Yogi Berra.

Passings include Gail Zappa, wife and watcher of Frank Zappa's back catalog after a long illness, she was 70.  If anything Gail was the perfect wife to the late great Frank and keeping a sharp look out of his music of the past.  A couple years ago, she signed up with Universal to which most of Zappa's music was reissued.  Son Dweezil continues to do the Zappa plays Zappa concerts around the country.  Billy Joe Royal, the guy who gave us Down In the Boondocks and Cherry Hill Park but also did a lot of Joe South's songs passed away Monday at age 73.  When the pop hits dried up, Royal went country and recorded a few albums for Atlantic Country.  He had been playing the oldies circuit in the 2000s before ill health forced him off the road and into retirement.

High prices continue to happen.  Gas prices went up a whopping 30 cents this week, due to the South Carolina Flooding, or so they say.  Fuck the working man and that 1 percent pay rise, getting offset by 10 percent price hikes on just everything  in life.  Cable continues the usual hikes for "programming" but that's bullshit, especially from our shitty cable company.  The analog feed they give us, continues to be fucking snowy and wavy lines at all times.  And if there's something worth watching, they decide to do those annoying blue screen emergency tests that you miss the punch line to a movie and it ends.  ESPN continues to pick and choose what games we can watch and if it's on ESPN FU then we won't see it. such as the Iowa homecoming game with Illinois this Saturday.  Every other channel has commercials going between shitty reality crap show or subpar crap like Two Broke Women.  Even Jerry Springer has cut deep into his show, where about 20 minutes of the show goes for commercial spots and the audience participation, what used to be a five minute highlight is now barely a minute.   But nobody seems to care anymore, even vintage shows are cut down to fucking 20 minutes.  Alfred Hitchcock Presents was a 25 minute show, but somehow ME TV managed to chop three minutes off each episode.  Who really watches TV anymore?  On Demand is one thing but I don't want to be ball and chain to a fucking smart phone.  I do enough of that on this computer as it stands.

Sirius XM priced themselves out me to be a subscriber.  Their price went up from 184 dollars to 204 on the renewal notice, and I can't afford that.  Their choices have gone way downhill from last year and even Outlaw County outlived its usefulness. So basically I called them up to cancel.  And the overworked sales associate started giving me other cheaper choices, I mean how many times you got to tell them no I can't afford it.  Maybe I should have said if you have a fucking way of me making more money I'd like to hear it but I have to eat and CDs are much cheaper than satellite radio anyway.  While Bob Lefsetz continues to tout Spotify, I tend to think he's full of shit and if I want on demand music, I'll put on a CD or LP.  Spotify might be a wave of Bob's future but I have lived without it so far in this life.  And chances are I'll continue to live without it till I'm dead.  Besides I'm not impressed with Pandora and their shitty song selection either.

And if anybody really gives a fuck, the Hall Of Fame Music Inductees (let's not call it the rock and roll hall of fame if Janet Jackson or NWA is involved) are Chicago, Yes, Steve Miller, Deep Purple, Los Lobos, The Cars, Chic, The Smiths  and a few others, the ones who get nominated will be ridiculed when the time is right.  I'm sure The Smiths and The Cars will get pushed in the doors, I'd to see Los Lobos, Deep Purple, Chicago and Yes get in but it's all irrelevant anyway.  It doesn't matter what I think, or what you think.

Over at the Review Consortium I take a look at the music of The Rockets, them being of Oh Well fame.

The body beautiful and the usual snooty folks who call them pornography:

If you like 45s and want to find a place to buy them here ya go:

Time for new reviews of albums you should give a shit about (or not)

Collective Soul-See What You Started By Continuing (Vanguard/Concord 2015)

While nobody was looking The Concord Music Group bought out The Welk Music Group of labels, one being Vanguard and so Concord have been looking for trendy bands to be on that label.  Even if it means signing up Jam Band giants Widespread Panic and Collective Soul, a band that 20 years ago was on top of the music world.  Like Widespread Panic, a Collective Soul album is something you would know since Ed Roland hasn't changed the sound since coming on with the 1993 overplayed classic Shine.  And for the first seven songs, SWYSBC might have been their best album since Disciplined Breakdown, till Roland goes for a mellower sound and hope to hit the light rock radio charts with Memoirs Of 2005 and Tradition, both I can swear to you will not get played on KDAT.  I still like their harder rocking number although Roland's titles of songs are damn near lazy and not much thought,  (This, Hurricane, Exposed,Contagious, it goes on)  I like how they sound but put some GD thought into the titles Eddie.  However the highlight/lowlight  of the album Without Me, which starts out somewhat mellow, Roland and band into such bombast, you have to hear it to believe it.  The strings come out of nowhere and sound like Penny Lane, then the guitars go into something Queen would do and then the over the top ending, complete with a don't yell at me female singer screeching at the end, as if she's trying out for The Voice.    It may have been a very ambitious song for Ed Roland but to me the pompous bombast of the whole thing made me dotch the album a half grade.  For the first seven songs though it's vintage Collective Soul, the next three they rest on their laurels and then on the grand finale they raise for the stars and end up falling in the mine shaft.  A grandiose failure that is Without Me.
Grade B-

Queensryche-Condition Human (Century Media 2015)

Honest to God, this band found their stride after booting Geoff Tate out of the band.  Their second album with Todd La Torre, is a revelation, considering how precise that La Torre does sound like Tate and much better than Tate himself.  I have to admit that Tate did held them back as he dictated the band to do a covers albums, revisited and updated Operation Mindcrime 2, did an answer to Pink Floyd The Final Cut and then went bonkers with Consequences of Chaos, to which the band said enough.  They really do sound revitalized on their second album since cutting ties with Tate and there's a balance of power between that Mindcrime sound as well as Empire while adding elements of Rage For Order.  The title track is that blend of Rage For Order/Mindcrime and while Tate could only growl, La Torre can scream it with the best of them.  If anything, La Torre sounds too much of Tate and not enough of himself to give a identity but again, the prog rock metal of the band is their true I.D. Even producer Zuess, listened to enough of the early Peter Collins' produced albums to give Queensryche that sound that was brilliantly captured on Empire.  While arguments is that songs like Bulletproof or Toxic Remedy paled in comparison to Jet City Woman or Take Hold Of The Flame, they certainly a lot better than the crap I hear on Rock 108, this is more real rock that I remember from them than Five Finger Death Punch or the next Linkin Park wannabe.   I'll hold my judgement on Tate's Operation Mindcrime's new album on Frontiers till I hear that one, but I do know when both bands had their albums out after the messy breakup, Queensryche's S/T album walked all over Tate's Cleopatra CD.   And if this record is any indication of who's winning the ballad of the bands, Tate's second album is already in trouble.  Condition Human is an excellent carbon copy of what they used to do before their original singer got too full of himself.
Grade A-

Ticks-Sun Shinin' On Your Rain  (Medium Cool 1992)

The only Cd I could find out of all the crappy ones at Pawn America, which hard to believe five short years ago, I ended up buying like 40 of them in one sitting but they're not buying CDs anymore and what they have are forgotten alternative rockers or shitty dance rappers.  Ticks was led by Tom Hicks and they may or may not been from Decatur Illinois.  Although they were produced by Peter Jespersen and had Slim Dunlap play on one track and Brian Paulson co producing, Ticks were more influenced by The Jesus And Mary Chain or T Rex, or perhaps shoegazer music. Certainly they more interested in Jesus And Mary Chain of Automatic fame but there's a shadow of Darklands, especially on the mellower numbers.  A few of the songs seemed to be underdeveloped, almost in demo form.  Hardly much is known about Tom Hicks, who simply disappeared after the failure of this album.  But that is the love about finding a obscure band such as Ticks.  While not essential, Shinin On Your Rain  is a fine version of Tom Hicks' take on alternative rock of the early 90s, and incorporating a shoegazing type that is uncommon of midwestern alternative rock.
Grade B+

Blake Shelton-Reloaded-20 Number One Hits (Warner Nashville 2015)

For a while, Blake was on top of the world, raising the ire of the country traditionalists with Boys Round Here  and having misunderstandings with Ray Price, who Blake made nice to before Price passed away.   Perhaps he took the words of Boys Round Here too seriously, the breakup of his dream marriage to country babe Miranda Lambert shattered that myth of love conquers all which when I hear the love songs on this best of kinda leaves me a bit cold hearing them after their breakup.  The original Reloaded was perhaps a better overview than this one that features Blake's chart topping hits and I'm sure a couple remakes that could but probably hit the top spot.  In listening to this, I tend to like Blake's more uptempo stuff (Boys Round Here, sorry Farce The Music) and the duet with Ashley Monroe.  But when your major label puts out this kind of best of, it's a indication that they're ready to move on to the next Bro Country artist.  And the original Loaded best of, would be the one to get despite Boys Round Here or Lonely Tonight.  But I'm sure Warner Brothers will correct that mistake with another attempt of a best of a year or two from now.
Grade B

Sonny Rollins-Tenor Madness (Prestige 1956)

By all means I believe the golden age of jazz begins in the 50s with Miles Davis, leading the charge and Dave Brubeck on Fantasy was beginning to turn it into something progressive.  Monk, Clifford Brown even Charlie Parker in his last years, jazz was to classic music in the 50s as rock was is in the 60s and 70s.  Sonny Rollins has always maintained such a high standards of his work that he tends to dismiss it more than the listener appreciates it.  But on this album Rollins teams up with most of Miles Davis sidemen who would appear on A Kind Of Blue and the pair of Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones is one of the best jazz players holding the beat and Red Garland on piano is no slouch either.  The title track is historic for its the only time that John Coltrane would be on a Rollins recording and the battle between Sonny and John is worth the price of admission alone.  Next to Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones is one of the top five drummers in jazz and to me  second only to Max Roach.  Nevertheless, this is Rollins' album and is his show and even on the ballad standards, he finds way to keep the songs interesting, even adding a tag line to the end of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, to a point that he makes this song his very own.  One of his best.
Grade A

Los Lobos-The Neighborhood (Slash/Warner Brothers 1990)

While the Los themselves distanced themselves from this 1990 album, I still find a certain charm to this. John Hiatt and Levon Helm helped on this record and perhaps they were put off by Jim Keltner's drumbeats on The Giving Tree, or perhaps Larry Hirsch's recording of this.  After all, this is the final song that Willie Dixon ever wrote (I Can't Understand) and for latter day blues it holds its own. Perhaps there's too much percussion on I Walk Alone, or perhaps Jenny's Got A Pony should have made for a children's album, but I don't consider this a throwaway album, a misstep maybe but a subpar Los Lobos album is better than anything from Poison or Locash.  Robert Plant did cover Angel Dance and Los Lobos still does the title track in their live set.  But the best track remains Emily, part power pop and part country.  Kiko gets the love and The Neighborhood gets the knock but for a throwaway album, I disagree.  It's not a perfect album but does have enough songs to be heard from time to time.  Robert Christgau missed the boat on his frowny face grade.  I wish I could make a throwaway album as good as this.
Grade B+

Truth & Janey-No Rest For The Wicked (Montross 1973 Thereabouts)

Something about this record leaves a high demand across the pond and even the local store has the CD for 75 dollars, which is a big chunk of change to hear this artifact from the past.  The record is the stuff of legends, a power rock trio from town led by Billy Janey (later Billy Lee Janey who continues to make blues rock albums on a regular basis). While the Cream and Hendrix references are there, the band most likely that comes to mind is Budgie and Dust, all power rock trios with a bit of  Axis Bold As Love Hendrix era, or Wheels On Fire Cream.  Steven Bock and Denis Bunce, are the rhythm section and they compliment Billy as well, although the progressive rock gets slightly overboard on the 9 minute Remember.  Even back then Janey shows his blues roots by covering I'm Ready, with the riff that he would use on his theme song about Stone City, and The Light, improvises with a bit of Little Wing.  The standout song is Ain't No Tellin', the Mississippi John Hurt, where Billy shows his lightning fast guitar picking, and does suggest that the future for Billy would be the blues.  Reviews have been mixed, some are fanatical about it, some think it's overrated, both valid points.  Billy Lee is a great guitar player and he'll be the first to tell you that personally if you should run into him at the local West Music in town.  And It's All Above Us gets dangerously close to Frank Marino Maxoom territory (which can be a good or bad thing depending on the listener).  He has many blues rock albums out there, but No Rest For The Wicked is the album that people ID him with.  And as they say, you can do worse.  I like it when I'm in the mood to hear it.
Grade B+ 

Lost Classic: Buck Clayton Jam Session-All The Cats Join In (Columbia 1956)
                      Buck Clayton Jam Session From The Vaults (Columbia 1988)

Many years ago, my dad bought home two boxes full of records that some guy gave him at the old gas station he used to work at.  Most of the albums were pure crap that nobody wanted between the beer drinking songs and German Marching Band numbers and polka numbers, but there was a collection of jazz albums that were actually pretty good and probably worth a lot more money now.  I remember Thad Jones/Gerard Wilson Brass Bag which came out on World Pacific but I had the Fontana Import.  Another one was highlights from the Jazz at Massey Hall concert with Dizzy, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charlie Mingus and Max Roach.  And this minor classic from one of Buck Clayton jam sessions he was famous for.  Somewhat akin to the Norman Granz JATP series, Clayton's sessions had more flash and a more spontaneous sound than Granz.  Except for December 1953 date and song Lean Baby, the rest of the songs come from two March 1956 sessions.  The original album of All The Cats Join In I think have the better takes, Jam Session From The Vaults are the outtakes from that album plus After Hours which wasn't on the original album.  Hallmark has reissued the album via MP3 format, however a Spain box set of Clayton's jam sessions has the all the tracks listed but I'm not about to spend the twenty to see if they issued takes or outtakes.  The outtakes are something to behold, the title track All The Cats Join In, in alternative form is more looser and more in line with what Count Basie was doing at the time.  And I'm sure Out Of Nowhere, the vaults version would have been the perfect take till Coleman Hawkins' squawk at the end of his solo made that song useless, it really does stand out and not for the better. But as the season professional that Coleman is, he finishes it up and lets Al Ralshon take over on the piano.  Clayton still finds and gets some of the finer lesser known jazzmen to take the lead (J C Higginbotham, next to J J Johnson one of the best trombone players ever, trumpeters Billy Butterfield, Ruby Braff, Joe Newman on trumpets, Buddy Tate, Julian Dash and Coleman Hawkins on Sax, Milt Hilton and Walter page on bass and Bobby Donaldson with Jo Jones (not Philly Joe) on drums.  The alternative versions on From The Vaults are fine and After Hours is worth seeking out that album but the original album remains one of the better of the jam sessions that Columbia put out at that time.  And better heard on CD or LP rather than the tinny sounding MP3.
Grades:  All The Cats Join In A-   Jam Session From The Vaults B+

Forty years ago, KCRG Super 30 from October 10, 1975

1.   Get Down Tonight-K C And The Sunshine Band
2.   Ballroom Blitz-Sweet
3.   Bad Blood-Neil Sedaka/Elton John
4.   Feelings-Morris Albert
5.   Calypso/I'm Sorry-John Denver
6.   Dance With Me-Orleans
7.   Let's Live Together-The Road Apples (?)
8.   Who Loves You-The Four Seasons
9.   The Proud One-The Osmonds
10. Carolina In The Pines-Michael Martin Murphy
11. Lyin' Eyes-Eagles
12. It Only Takes A Minute-Tavares
13. S.O.S.-Abba
14. Rocky-Austin Roberts
15. Lady Blue-Leon Russell
16. I Only Have Eyes For You-Art Garfunkel
17. Miracles-Jefferson Starship
18. Daisy Jane-America
19. Solitaire-The Carpenters
20. Games People Play (They Just Can't Stop It)-The Spinners
21. Mamacita-The Grassroots
22. You-George Harrison
23. Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady-Helen Reddy
24. I Go To Pieces-Cotton, Lloyd & Christan
25. How Long (Betcha Got A Chick On The Side)-The Pointer Sisters
26. You're All I Need To Get By-Tony Orlando/Dawn
27. Send In The Clowns-Judy Collins
28. Feel Like Making Love-Bad Company
29. Never Felt Love Before-Felix Cavalaire
30. Too Many People-Melissa Manchester

Hit Bound

Our Day Will Come-Frankie Valli
I'm Still Gonna Need You-The Osmonds
Sky High-Jigsaw
What You Got-Duke And The Drivers
The Way I Want To Touch You-Captain and Tenille.  


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