Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Week In Review: 12-0 Baby!, Evan Stock Band, Tom Bruner, The Townedgers

Here we are.  It's December. The final month of a year that has gone by.  For Black Friday, I stayed home and watched Iowa taking out Nebraska 28-20 to finish the regular season 12-0 and a date with Michigan State which blew out Penn State, leaving Ohio State out in the cold, although the Buckeyes had no problem with Michigan once again.  While FOX Sports hackjob Colin (Cowpie) Cowherd predicted Nebraska would not only win but blow out the Hawks in the process, Iowa proved him wrong and continue to find ways to win.  There's a strange method to the madness on how Iowa wins their games.  Nebraska, outgained the Hawks in total offense, 433 to Iowa's 250, but Tommie Armstrong Jr. threw 4 interceptions including a pick six to Parker Hesse.  The star was Jordan Canzeri, who rushed for 140 yards, including two long TD runs of  29 and 68 in the third quarter to pretty much put the game away, although the Iowa bend don't break defense provided plenty of strokes and heart attacks in the process.  So in the case of be careful of what you wished for, it will be Michigan State.  And probably for the Hawks better that way.  Ohio State finally used Ezekiel Elliot (how come his mom can't give him a easier to spell name, such as Lamond or George or Devonte) to his advantage and he shredded Michigan's defense for 214 yards and 2 Tds.  Likewise J T Barrett who added 139 yards rushing and passed for another touchdown in a 42-13 massacre in Ann Arbor.  Jake Rudock who had a nice senior career playing QB and a possible NFL career got hurt and that was all for the Wolverines.  Certainly it's arguable Ohio State remains the best of the big ten, but losing to Michigan State was their undoing.  Nebraska was favored by Colin Coward on them knocking off Michigan State earlier in the month and playing at home.  Of course, Mr. Herd probably banked on the success of Tommie Armstrong having a breakout game just like last season and Tommie figured in the outcome as well, but his four interceptions were the reason why they came up short.  While Colin and company would like you to think that the more 5 star players you have on your team the better, Iowa has done things the old fashioned way, teamwork and playing together and taking advantage of opportunities when things happen. When the offense wasn't coming around, the defense stepped up, when the defense became average or below average, the offense picked up the scoring.    It hasn't been easy, but the trophy case this year is full, the Hawks reclaimed the Cy Hawk, Heartland, Heroes and most importantly Floyd of Rosedale and they're all on view for the whole year. And the Hawks hope to add a couple more awards.

Still with a 12-0 record, The Hawks are still getting slapped in the face.  Oklahoma has jumped to 3rd place with their blow out of Oklahoma State.  Flashy players like Baker Mayfield  that can put up scores in a hurry tend to inflate numbers, but the Hawks giving up 433 yards to Nebraska figured into the dropping.  Still Twitter nation continues to cry about the teams that Iowa played. To those who do, blame the computer and the expansion of Maryland and Rutgers into the big ten. Had the Big Ten not do this, Iowa would play Ohio State or Michigan or Michigan State. The only way to shut the critics up is to keep winning and keep playing the way they have been. Then again it would be nice if the defense would be a bit more aggressive like they were earlier in the season, but it is hard to replace a Drew Ott, they really haven't been the same since he went down with a ACL tear.  Still, 12-0 is nice.  On a side note: The B1G ten does have 6 teams in the top 25, including Northwestern and Wisconsin, two from the weak west says the pundits.

On the other side of the fence.  The Paul Rhodes era at Iowa State is over, and West Virginia send him away with a 30-6 loss.  Reports are saying that Toledo head coach Matt Campbell will take over, he has a 35-15 record at Toledo.  Certainly going from a MAC team to the one of the doormats of the Big 12 is going to be a work in progress but Campbell have proven he can win, he's an offensive minded coach and Iowa State does have a quality running back in Mike Warren and while Joel Lanning had his ups and downs as QB replacing Sam B Richardson, he should be a better QB for next season.  Campbell may have to wait on bowl games (he's 2-1) but he's won at least seven games in a season.  If he wins 7 for Iowa State next year, he'll be Big 12 coach of the year.

As for Arizona State, they had a lead on California before the defense quit and QB Jared Goff threw for 536 yards passing and five touchdowns in a 48-46 comeback win.  Jared may be declaring for the NFL draft with his outstanding performance, but when I was watching the game it looked like the Sun Devil defense couldn't tackle, couldn't guard against the pass and couldn't do anything at all.  Steve Bercovici threw for 4 touchdown passes but the key was Zane Gonzalez' school record six field goals, four in the second half, which was key in Cal's victory.  Arizona State traded field goals for touchdowns and when ASU took the lead with 2:35 left, that provided enough time for Cal to race down the field and score the winning field goal.  In other words another epic meltdown for ASU in their disappointing 6-6 season, but ensuring the chances of a minor bowl for such a good job they did this season.

On the music side of things Evan Stock has his own band in the Waterloo area. they're basically blues and rock and roll, the way I like things. His band played a gig last week and back home where they have everything in their van, local dumbass Nick Kollasch came a calling and set fire to three of the cars plus the van in the process.  He is charged with first degree arson.  Now Nicky boy hasn't been a stranger to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, he got arrested in April after punching out a officer after a hit and run and apparently  got out jail for good behavior.  Kollasch also had at his home two of Stock's guitars.  As they say, the show went on, as Evan Stock came down to Parlor City Saturday Night to play with what they had left.  

Meanwhile in Waterloo, Quentin Hart becomes the first black mayor of that town defeating Tim Hurley.

Passings: Alex Cooley, legendary Atlanta promoter who had the Electric Ballroom in the 70s, which had some of the biggest names in rock and roll, and figured into the making of the Atlanta International Pop Festival in 1969, passed away Monday at age 71.

Scott Wieland, Stone Temple Pilots and Wildabouts  lead singer, found dead in the tour bus prior to a December 3 show in Minnesota.  He was 48.  Died from a drug induced heart attack.

Ivy Doomkitty! (Geri Kramer photography photo shoot)

Certainly in the two years of being part of The Record World, Ivy has been the 2nd most searched person here, even though she has been more into cosplaying and comic book conventions.  She's been super friendly and has favored tweets from the Twitter side of things.  Sure would like to meet her on my bucket list of people to see.

Record Reviews:

Tommy Bruner-Miles To Go (self released 2015)

Bruner is an Iowa musician icon, going all the way back to Madness (not the UK band but the hometown that had to change their name when the UK band had a hit with One Step Beyond) and has been a local favorite, playing on Sunday Jam Sessions when he's not touring with The Past Masters and The Lab Rats, but as a solo artist, his new solo album is a fun retro throwback to DIY rock and roll. His vocals remains something like J J Cale although Eric Clapton or Steve Winwood come into play.  There's some guest vocalists along the way (Barb Myers, Tim Duffy, Layne Goldsberry, Bart Carfizzi-all three are part of Past Masters) and Carfizzi adds a bit of keyboard horns on The Ballad Of Jim Clark but this is Bruner doing most of the singing and playing.  There's a bit of Psychedelia rock in the feedback laden Middle Of Nowhere, beautiful ballads such as You And Me and The Rest Is History.  And a bit of blues as well, though Lena River comes from the swamp, and Too Far To Care is country blues done right.  Square One is the odd one here, which Bruner goes for a Stephen Bishop vibe, I'm sure Paul Simon has a influence on this as well.  My favorites remained the power pop style of Almost (As Beautiful), which sound like something The Townedgers would do (more about them and their new album soon) and the standout is It Doesn't Work Like That.  In a era of autotuned processed beats, it's refreshing to hear music like Miles To Go.  Tommy has said he's is working on a followup and already a few songs have been posted on You Tube.  Miles To Go is three chord rock and roll that I never tired of, 14 songs that are worth revisiting again and again.  One of the best of 2015
Grade A-

Brotherhood-Brotherhood Brotherhood (RCA 1969)

The second album featuring Phil Volk, Drake Levin and Mike Smith, after leaving Paul Revere And The Raiders finds them into a hippie dippy sound, but for the most part when they get it right, they do sound like the extension of what they used to do in The Raiders.  At their best, they can do the Come Together vibe of the Youngbloods (Don't Let Go) and even some of that sunny pop of the Raiders (Family Tree, Destination Unknown). Glory Train reveals more of a jazzier direction, more jazzy than Paul Revere would probably allow but most of side 1 is fairly decent, although their take on California Dreaming owes more to Iron Butterfly than Mama's And Papas. Still their Rose Garden won't make you miss Lynn Anderson or Joe South and the worst song is Love Sketch, to which it goes on for over three minutes and it feels longer than that.  To which there's a scratch on that album which makes the song skip, it might be an improvement.  Overall the album holds it own against the releases the Raiders released at that time, a bit more stronger than Heavy With Marshmellow album that their former employers put out at that time.
Grade B+

Freddy Weller-Games People Play (Columbia 1969)

Since we're talking Paul Revere And The Raiders, Weller became the guitar player at this point and time but managed to convince Columbia and Mark Lindsay to produce his first country platter and he got a nice hit out of the Joe South cover of Games People Play.  It's a serious record when you have the late Clarence White play guitar and Glen Hardin playing piano and Red Rhodes running wild on steel guitar and fellow Raider Keith Allison on bass.  Outside of Games People Play and These Are Not My People (both written by Joe South) the rest of the songs are Freddy Weller written with help from Mark Lindsay, Keith Allison and even Tommy Roe for that matter.  The slower ballads are so so but the best moments are the Allison co writes: Louisiana Redbone and the country classic Freeborn Man which appeared on Alias Pink Puzz, but this version is more country sounding. And surprisingly forgotten since Collector's Choice left it off his best of they released years ago.  Weller has a journeyman's voice, good for a couple songs but over 11 songs the casual fan would have their mind wonder.  For a country debut, it's dated now but back then it fit the sound of the times.
Grade B

The Townedgers-Fitting Finales (Radio Maierburg 2015)

If The Townedgers are not breaking new ground, they still continue to make polished garage rock with a more acoustic focus.  That doesn't mean Rodney Smith has been going through the motions, at age 54 he sings better than ever and while the songs don't break new ground, he knows about heartbreak very well in Different Paths, or singing about the life of being alone as lead off track Better Off Alone indicates.  Like the preceding surprise album of last years Forthcoming Trains, Fitting Finales relies on lesser known covers and revisiting the Townedger catalog.  Get It Over With, unlike the 1992 version, is stripped down to just guitar and vocals from Smith.   Another revisited song Love Tonight is more romantic than the desperation resignation that it originally appeared in 2007.  Smith has been mighty busy back on the Cedar Rapids music scene, sitting in on jam sessions and participating in other bands, which is why Fitting Finales got relegated to the back burner.  And the sitting in helped, it's been years since his drumming has been this explosive even to the point of shredding a few speakers on songs like From A Motel 6 or Let's Work Together, the old bar band standard made famous by Canned Heat.  The completely acoustic sound (except for Let's Work Together), The Townedgers have tried a couple times, 2005's A Long Time Forgotten and 2008's morbid Pawnshops For Olivia, Fitting Finales is not as dark, in fact some songs are playful (The Life We Lead) and even in the reflective title track, written after reuniting with former Paraphernalia/Tyrus bass player Russ Swearingen, it sums up Smith's returning back to playing live in town after a very long layoff,  It also doubles as a thank you to the musicians who encouraged Smith to return to the stage but also acknowledges the importance that his former band mate was in reuniting for the first time in 30 plus  Standing on the stage with our weapons at hand/Coming Full circle, the return of the band, as Smith sings it  may not be the return of the band that fans may have wanted but rather to enjoy the moment while they can, before "returning back to the basement, satisfied of my accomplishments".  Even if Rodney Smith would like to return to being that couch potato, he's simply too good of a drummer to waste away his talent as he has done the previous two decades of walking away from the music scene to focus on The Townedgers.  Fitting Finales, may not have had that hit single from Forthcoming Trains, perhaps the highlights of this album might be the covers which defines this album.  The Townedgers can boogie like Canned Heat on Let's Work Together and can do country (Just To Satisfy You and A Satisfied Mind), Smith redefines  Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown into a cranky folk blues with a more cynical edge than the hit single version of Lightfoot's.  On the cover of the hidden track I Know Your Rider, he transforms The Grateful Dead into The Who.    No small feat.
Grade B+

The Zombies-Still Got That Hunger (The End Music 2015)

They sound like they do this time out.  The Zombies are still the Rod Argent/Colin Blunstone band, Jim Rodford was in Argent years ago. Chris White and Hugh Grundy did participate in the reunion of a few years ago but they're nowhere to be found (actually White and Grundy are part of the band that revisits their 1968 album, the newer stuff is with Jim & Steve Rodford and guitarist Tom Toomey).  There's nostalgia all over the place here, the cover art winks at Odyssey And Oracle, their 1968 masterpiece and Argent and Blunstone wishes for the days of New York and remakes I Want You Back Again, with mixed results.  I think Movin' On is more Argent than Zombies, which is not a bad thing and Rod Argent remains an excellent pianoist, going into jazz rock on Little One and We Were Young Once Again.  Certainly this era's Zombies are more bar rock and roll than the oddball pop weirdness that made Odyssey And Oracle such a great album, they're more older and polished that that good, but once in a while, they do sound like the old Zombies on songs like Chasing The Wind. In other words, not a groundbreaking album but a polite sort of classic rock.
Grade B

Crowded House (Capitol 1986)

Something So Strong and Don't Dream It's Over are the two best songs on this debut, which was two parts of Split Enz (Neil  Finn and Paul Hester) and produced by Mitchell Froom.  Outside of the hits, nothing comes close of capturing the hooks and melody of the two hit singles and Finn oversings right off on the bat on Mean To Me.  Side 2 he tends to settle down in a way and Hole In The Water and I Walk Away are worth another hearing.  Finn would have better but not better selling albums, but he never did follow up Something So Strong or Don't Dream It's Over anyway.
Grade C+

Mark Knopfler-Screenplaying (Mercury 1993)

Highlights from the movies that Knopfler scored in the late 80s and early 90s.  Cal, shows his Celtic love of penny whistles and a bagpipes, The Princess Bride best loved as a movie, but the songs sound more muzak and new age and Local Hero he adds Mike Breckner on sax.  If anything Dire Straits bandmates John Illsey, Guy Fletcher and Terry Williams pop in briefly but it is soundtrack music and not Money For Nothing.  Quite pleasant to hear while driving home or reading a book but I doubt if I'd play this anymore in the future.
Grade B-

Final Big Ten Championship: Michigan State 16 Iowa 13

To which both evenly matched teams played till Iowa finally gave out.  Although CJ Beathard threw a 85 yard TD pass to Devaun Smith in the forth quarter, the Iowa offense was nonexistent, only 3 yards total in the third quarter.  But Michigan State proved to be the best team going on a 22 play drive that took all but 30 seconds off the clock for the winning touchdown and the Iowa defense was wore out.  After which ESPN and Colin Cocksucka Cowherd wasted no time telling the media that Iowa was a fluke, never mind of being 12-0 and playing junior colleges. Paul Finebaum, equally hard at times ended up being impressed that Iowa was a very good team after all.  Try going 12-0 all season, it's a lot harder than you think although Clemson remains the sole unbeaten team in college sports.  For bowl games, it looks like Iowa still might come up with Roses, as in the Rose bowl and probably playing USC or UCLA or even Oregon.  It's too early to tell but for now rest assured that Iowa will be playing on New Year's Day somewhere.

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