Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Week In Review: Dumb Jock ESPN Announcers, CMA Awards, Death And Music

It's the beginning of November but it feels like May.  It's hard to believe of having temps in the 70s and plenty of sunshine but the beginning of regular standard time is not too bad despite a 5 oclock sunset. Best way is to enjoy it before the snow and cold hits.

Crabby got his revenge as Kansas City took out The New York Mets in five games, which is one more than I predicted, basically I was ticked off as dem "mazing" Mets swept Chicago before.  I got to watch games 4 and 5 as Kansas City came from behind, I loved the Sunday Night when Kansas City scored two runs to tie it and then threw a Five Bomb in the 12th inning.  It was 30 years ago that Kansas City took out St Louis for the WS title too.  However Supermet Daniel Murphy who hit the ball out of sight in the NL games, made a costly error that propelled a couple of Royal runs proved that somebody must have put kyponite (sic) in his uniform and came down to earth in this series.  And with that we can close the 2015 Major League Baseball season.

From a recent jam session Brook Hoover and his out there guitar playing.  He's part of the Surf Zombies, Three Presidents and other various bands.

And so Marion gets a new mayor  Nick AbouAssaly defeated Jon Nieland and Joe Spinks for the honor.  In the meantime Marion continues to mess up the traffic by adding more roundabouts in the area. Roundabout hell for sure.  Cedar Rapids voters said NO to a 27 cent tax levy on Library improvements.  Look for another taxpayer waste of time special election to see if they can sneak that one through again.  Nobody knows the meaning of the word NO there, Ron Corbett I'm looking at you.

In the meantime Iowa continues to beat B1G ten teams and ESPN continues to cry about their soft opponents.  You'd never know it from the bad announcing of Kelly Stouffer as he continue to ass kiss Perry Hills, who may have been an upgrade from the under-performing other QB for Maryland but by the time he got the terps into the endzone, Iowa had a 21-7 lead.  Driving down the field, Perry would throw an pass into the arms of Desmond King who raced it back for a Pick Six Touchdown.  Certainly it may have been pride that Hills refused to have a helping hand from a Iowa defense line tackled after getting smacked after that interception, but knowing it was not going to be his day.  While Stouffer raved about Hills' remarkable comeback effort to score a late TD and 2 point run in, Stouffer forgot the fact that Maryland couldn't do anything in the first half and turned the ball over twice in their first two processions.   But what Kelly Stouffer overlooked was that it was Iowa's defense that kept Maryland out of the endzone in the first half and Iowa's Offense did enough to maintain a decent sized lead.  CJ Beathard, may have not been himself, still playing hurt but he did enough and Rakim Radley did enough to score when needed.  With ESPN and the Alabama world figuring an Iowa 8-0 record is the coming of end times, what ESPN and the Alabama clueless dude and his kids plus another ESPN hack Peter Burns saying (quote)
I am not ready to live in a world in which Iowa finishes a season undefeated in the sport of American college football.

He's either in denial or thinks Iowa is loading up on junior college teams.  Blame the computer then Peter, you play the teams the computer picks for you and this year Iowa got lucky and missed out on Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State teams in the East division.  Which I predict they will play all 3 next year.  By then CJ will graduated as well as most of the defense and Iowa will be in rebuilding mode.  And then ....wait for it....Burns will say I told you so.  Which he's chomping at the bit should Iowa stub their toe on the next games at hand.  Perhaps there's more to the Burns twitter comment that was taken out of context, or maybe he can't look past Alabama to see the surprise team in college football.  I know Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana and even Nebraska are capable of showing up and playing good football,  Minnesota almost beat Michigan and Purdue surprised Nebraska last weekend so anything is possible. The Iowa defense has been very good this season and one of the reasons why they're 8-0 and not because of cupcakes games.  But any upsets and you'll be seeing the I Told You Sos from the likes of Pete Burns and rest of the Disney employees at what used to be a good sports channel, now overpriced and overrated with ex dumb jocks that couldn't cut it as NFL QBs and couldn't find day jobs other than ESPN hacks such as Kelly Stouffer, voted number 29 in the worst NFL quarterbacks of all time, who sat out a year and not wanting to play for the St Louis Cardinals.  He eventually wound up being a bust for Seattle for a year or so.  In other words, a perfect fit for ESPN. 

Cat Logic:  Callie continues to call the backyard her home and as Alpha Pussy she seems to have a personality like mine:  she's a loner, screams at every cat that dares to come into the yard and when Adolf the fat white cat comes around she pops him in the face at every stare.  It's been almost a year since she made herself known around here and I have come to accept her.  She's been fixed, has her shots and rarely leaves the yard.  There are times I would like to kill her, especially after washing the car and having her muddy prints all over it, but I like her too much to do such a thing.  After all it was decided not to take her to a shelter, she's a plain jane cat and nobody would want her.  So she finds way of entertaining us and even in my dark days she does managed to make me laugh.  Such as jumping on the open back door of the station wagon.  She can be entertaining.

Death never takes a holiday:  Mike Pollack.  I remember Mike as the oddball looking dude with a one of those silver fillings on his front tooth and there was rumors that Mike hung himself by accident during a Halloween prank.  Mike went to our high school before moving over to a Catholic school. He served his country well in the Marines and led a nice quiet family life before passing away last Wed at age 55.  Semper Fi.

Al Molinaro, the wacky guy who played the policeman in The Odd Couple and better known as Big Al Delvecchio on Happy Days passed away at age 96.  He even shows up on Weezer's 1995 video of their hit Buddy Holly.  He lived a good long life.

Fred Thompson, the cranky old dude lawyer on Law And Order and later became a Conservative Senator and later ran unsuccessfully as President died Sunday at age 73, lymphoma cause of death.  Best known for Arthur Branch in Law And Order, Thompson did carve out a decent movie career as well.  He was on the staff for the Watergate Committee  and with Howard Baker, put a big crack and later the downfall of Richard Nixon.   While the left paints hims as somewhat too extreme right wing, while conservative of his voting, he wasn't that gung ho on religious rights and abortion issues.  Even in 2007 he said that he didn't vision himself as a career politician.  If nothing else he was a better actor than Ronnie Reagan.  His role in the Watergate hearings might have been his greatest accomplishment.

Tommy Overstreet.  One of my favorite pop country singers of the 1970s, he struck a chord with me with his hit single Gwen (Congratulations) and I Don't Know You Anymore.  His hits were on ABC/Dot records up till his last memorable hit Fading Out Fading In.  I actually managed to compiled a ideal greatest hits of his music and the folks Varese Sandabunde  did put that out as a best of in the late 1990s.  The Best Of Tommy Overstreet is a very good overview of the Dot years. He moved to Elektra to end out the 1970s and later Interchord.  Overstreet, took his music act to Branson Missouri for a few years before retiring out in Oregon.  He passed away Monday at age 78.

In terms of new music on CD, things are drying up here big time.  Target has practically done away their whole CD section except for a tiny sliver of a half space in the music section, with a handful of new releases and overpriced classic albums, in a attempt to phase them out and get the consumer to stream things.   Looks like I'll be ordering more things online from websites to get the music that I want.  Or see what the kindness of strangers donated to the thrift stores.

Taylor Swift got sued for 42 million dollars on claims that she stole her song Shake It Off from a unknown singer Jesse Braham aka Jesse Graham's song called Haters Gone Hate  that he wrote in 2013.  But then again there's probably one or two other unknown songwriters that probably wrote lyrics similar to Shake It Off.  This comes on the report that Taylor Swift is the highest paid musician this year, earning up to a million dollars a day.  Perhaps on wishful thinking that Braham should get songwriting credit, perhaps he should take her advice and "shake it off". To which the judge did tell Braham as she dismissed his lawsuit soon after.

Even more on the tabloids side of sleeze comes word that Gwen Sefiani, fresh from saying adios to Galvin Rossdale is now dating Blake Shelton at some get together over the weekend.   If I had my way and was Blake, I would have kept Miranda Lambert myself.  A matter of choice, which means nothing.  The country music awards were on and even though Shelton might have a new love he is not Best Male Vocalist Of The Year.  That honor went to Chris Stapleton, all around good guy and the best songwriter out there.  Stapleton took home two other awards (Best New Artist, Album Of The Year) and  stole the show with a two song duet with Justin Timberlake.  Little Big Town won single and song of the year with Girl Crush. Even though bro country still dominated, Luke Bryan-entertainer of the year, it was the left field win of Male Vocalist which shocked the public and perhaps Cole Swindells or the Duo (duds) of the year Florida Georgia Line.  It won't mean K-HACK or KissoffKountry 95 will play Traveler and perhaps winning Male Vocalist doesn't mean a thing, just ask Jamey Johnson. But perhaps it shows that maybe just maybe good songwriting and albums might bring about a better change in Country radio.  I didn't pay attention to the show, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood hosted it and there's a bit of tension about Miranda and Blake in the same building.  Shelton might have gotten the NO DOUBT singer, but in the long run Miranda Lambert took the high road.  Which in the end Miranda got her revenge in some way.  While Shelton lost out to Chris Stapleton in Male Artist, Miranda went home Best Female Artist once again.  And still a better dream date than Gwen Stefiani.

This Friday will see the release of the Bob Dylan box set On The Cutting Edge, in a few formats including standard 2 CD overview or the whole super box set that comprises the three Dylan albums of note: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. Anne Margaret Daniel gives us her take on reviewing the whole thing: http://nodepression.com/album-review/cutting-edge-bob-dylan-how-does-it-feel-so-very-good

Next Up: Reviews

Cream-Fresh Cream (RSO 1967)

A long time ago, I brought the Mono LP at Rock n Bach for about 4 dollars. It was in VG shape, but when Best Buy had the CD in new, I tried to trade the mono album back to Rock n Bach to which Jim Henson declined to take it back.  In hindsight I should have kept the mono album.  Almost five decades on, the debut from the supergroup of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and grumpy Ginger Baker has sounded a bit dated and sloppy.  Given Baker's pissed off views at life, he probably will tell you he was held at gunpoint when he was in Cream.  I have to say that Robert Stigwood's production and recording in stereo is really odd, that this record is better heard in mono.  Bruce's vocals is buried in the mix on Sweet Wine, and on Cat's Squirrel's you can see why Baker was enraged of all the noise going on and that he was smashing cymbals trying to drown out Bruce's offkey harmonica and Clapton's loud guitar. Or the chaos that is Rolling And Tumbling which is basically Jack and Eric dueling one another and Baker bashing away on a odd rhythm.  I come to know NSU, Sleepy Time Time and Sweet Wine on the Live Cream album, which 15 minutes of Sweet Wine can be as annoying as Baker's 37 minute drum solo of Toad (actually it was 19 and half minutes off Wheels Of Fire but felt like 37 minutes long) to which it's more tolerable in the five minutes that is on this album.  Make no mistake, Ginger Baker is a legend upon drummers, both in rhythm technique and angry tirades, he wasn't a cymbal basher as say Keith Moon or John Bonham but more of a jazzier Elvin Jones type.  But for sloppy youthfulness Fresh Cream was a fine debut when it came out, but as and oldster like myself the sloppy youthfulness does suggest that Cream would get better on the next album.  But it's a bit too sloppy for be the blues album that Clapton wanted it to be, or the rock album that Bruce wanted it to be and too damn sloppy loud that Baker wanted it to be.  A flawed but listenable mini classic.
Grade B+

Wooden Nickel Lottery-On My Way (Violet Isle 2015)

There's plenty of blues rock bands out on the landscape.  I have my favorites, Delta Moon is one of them, Jimmy Bowskill Band is another and from a distance Joe Bonamassa and Johnny Lang.  I also have fond memories of Blue Mountain, to which Cary Hudson finally put that band to rest in 2013. Wooded Nickel Lottery is from Center Point Iowa, not exactly a mecca for blues rock bands but a well kept secret that is not such a well kept secret due to word of mouth and playing at Parlor City  every so often.  Like Blue Mountain, WNL has a husband wife team of Rich and Jess Toomsen, he is the main songwriter and lead guitar player, she is the bass player that plays behind her back, but WNL owes more to latter day blues Bonamassa favors.   Equal to the band is Rick Gallo's vocals and the steady drumming of Delayne Stallman, which Gallo does sound a bit like early John Popper and Lang.  These 11 songs have been refined during live performances, Slow It Down is a crowd and mine favorite.  Wait For Me is closer to Bad Company in classic rock sound. Since coming out of retirement and checking out the music scene here in town,  I can tell you that Wooden Nickel Lottery is an up and coming band and the blues rock world is taking notice, they're opening for Anthony Gomes  this Saturday in Davenport.  On My Way, is rightfully titled, they are on their way, this album is a nice introduction to a promising new band.  They would fit at home on Ruf Records (Are you listening Thomas Ruf?)
Grade A-

The Pentangle (Reprise 1968)
John Renbourn-Sir John Alot Of....(Transatlantic 1968/Lost Lake Arts Reissue 1984)

The original unplugged British Band of wonders, the late Bert Jansch and John Renbourn (who passed this year) were two of the best guitar players this side of Fairport Convention, Jacqul McShee was a haunting vocalist this side of Sandy Denny but Danny Thompson and Terry Cox were a great rhythm section.  This record was once part of the KCCK music library, KCCK meaning the jazz and blues station in town and somehow they were thinning their record collection.  I ended up getting this S/T album along with Renbourn's Sir John Alot Of ....which was reissued in 1984 via the new age label Lost Lake Arts/Windham Hill.  While side 1 tends to be a bit too much traditional folk ballads, side 2 gets a more to my liking thanks to Terry Cox's percussion work especially on Four Eight and Seven Up. While Renbourn's Lady And The Unicorn put me to sleep, Sir John Alot does manages to hold my attention span a lot longer than it should.  Which leaves us back to the first Pentangle album. While McShee is the main singer, it is the interplay between Jansch/Renbourn along with Thompson/Cox that make songs like Pentangling and Bells (including Cox drum solo) their best moments together.  I don't understand the logic of KCCK blacking out Bruton Town from their playlist, perhaps it borders too much on folk rock and approving Waltz for radio airplay which is progressive folk rock in a way.  But for a debut album, I think it's worthy of inclusion of all time great debut albums, alongside Led Zeppelin or The Velvet Underground's first album.  Fairport Convention may have been the more better known bands of the two, but The Pentangle's first album is better than the first Fairport Convention album (Which came out on Cotillion for you vinyl hounds-reissued on Polydor on CD years later) and that is saying something.  Castle/Sanctuary would issue The Pentangle on CD with bonus cuts in 2002, but the original album is damn near flawless.

The Pentangle A
Sir John Alot Of.... B

Old Dominion-Meat And Candy (RCA 2015)

The argument that country is the new rock and roll is lazy thinking.  While the traditionalists out there have no use for Sam Hunt, it's realized that the blending of rap beats to sluggish four four beats and making a list and passing them off as songs is now the major labels way of thinking.  While Steven Thomas Erwine might give this a four star rating and thinking this is slowly moving away from bro country to sweet pop rock, it's still bro country with the usual references to tanlines, beer, pick up lines and getting drunk and getting laid.  Not much variation on the songs either, stale EDM beats and half thought lyrics does not make a classic album than it does for a future  dollar bin sale CD. Basically to my recollection the only country bands that made albums that rocked was the Dirt Drifters who sadly broke up before the arrival of FGL and Blackberry Smoke who has succeeded...as a rock and roll band.  Old Dominion started out as songwriters to Dierks Bentley and The Band Perry, while Erwine raves about their success, they're no Chris Stapleton, but perhaps a more smarter Dallas Davidson which isn't saying much but Matthew Ramsey is a better lyricist than Mr. Dallas Dude. In fact Ramsey might have stumbled upon a potential hit with Said Nobody, although you can't tell the difference between that song and first two Snapback and Half Empty, which would sound at home on K HACK, Second best song is a ballad Song For Another Time, which mean that Old Dominion would sound better as a ballad band rather than the Bro Country Beer Can In A Truck Bed, which isn't as awful as the title suggests but it's is not very memorable.  Which is most of what Meat And Candy is, an album that, while the band worked behind the Nashville music scene and knows what radio wants (at this time) and getting a producer who knows how Country radio works (Shane McAnally)  Meat And Candy sounds like Nashville 2015 and will be a dated music piece in a year or two.  They even went back to a scratch and sniff label promo sticker that supposedly smells like bacon  but the purists think it smells like bullshit. http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/old-dominions-meat-candy-a-semi-rant
Grade D

Counterpoint: http://www.whiskeyriff.com/2015/11/12/old-dominions-debut-meat-and-candy-is-a-steady-diet-of-wit-depth-fun/

Results of our little Halloween party of last Friday (from left to right. Rod Albaugh, Donna Smith, Brad Milner and Betty.  on the floor my boss, who has a wicked sense of humor.  

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