Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Singles Going Steady 22-Classic Rock

Perhaps the most blatant and condescending attempt to go commercial, this edition of long running Singles Going Steady series takes a bigger look at the 45s that came into view this weekend and really took shape during my time up in Madison and trying to find the keepers from the crap. Knowing all the time, that some of the mentioned costs more than the actual Cd the songs came from.  The references of some of the songs come courtesy of Strictly Discs in Madison.  Basically it's all rock and roll this time out.

1.  Please Please Me-The Beatles (Vee Jay 498) 1963  I don't need to rehash the story of The Beatles being on EMI and Capitol in the US had a very passive interest in them till I Want To Hold Your Hand broke big and then they decided that maybe they did have a band that could make them lots of money in the long run but before that various Beatles songs did make on various independent labels (Tollie, Swan, even Atco got into the fun before Capitol recalled all masters for their own keeping). Perhaps the oddest pairings was being on a R and B label like Vee Jay and certainly Vee Jay took advantage of that by offering the single in different configurations, most notably the rainbow edge label that bared some similarity to Capitol's LP rainbow label. I did find a reference copy at Savers (see Week In Review: Madison) but the record seen much better days and I didn't feel compelled to just pick it up.  Kinda like finding  All Shook Up by Elvis in a thrift shop.  Unplayable but it might make a okay wall fixture to show off just to say you have a copy.

2.  TVC 15-David Bowie (RCA PB-10665)  1976  The bicentennial year was a bumper crop of outstanding and classic songs made into 45s but the big problem of most of these were in edited form.  I'm sure if Marion TV and Records would have had a copy I'd probably buy it but be pissed off at the 3:30 edit and not the full 5:30 version.  The best part of the song is the chorus ending.  Half of the time, radio played the edited version and we missed out on the full version and had to get the album in the first place.  Bowie to me has been one of the most erratic artists of the classic rock era, never got into his Ziggy Stardust persona all that much but I actually think that Station To Station was his best studio album of all time. But that's just my observation.

3.  Candy Store Rock-Led Zeppelin (Swan Song SS-70110) 1976  Another 45 that our local record store didn't stock and hard to believe since anything Led Zeppelin could sell.  However, this song didn't chart at all and basically for some idiot reason Marion TV and Records couldn't get a copy.  Not a lot of thought on the lyrics but that band can cook up some bitching heaviness.   And further proof that John Paul Jones was the secret weapon of L.Z.

4.  The Shout-Robin Trower (Chrysalis CHR-2429)  1980  Robin Trower's classic years was on Chrysalis and having James Dewar being the lead singer.  The lesser known 45s (Man Of The World, My Love) would sound just as great on classic rock radio with the overplayed but since Corporate rock radio doesn't play that way, the hell with anything else not Foreigner.  Of course in my lifetime, Bridge Of Sighs was a must have album but Trower started tinkering with the formula for more of a funk and soul feel on In City Dreams and Caravan To Midnight but the album Victims Of The Fury returns Robin and James back into a gritty hard rock sound but the catch was the songs were now shorter and on The Shout a nod to punk rock if you can believe that.  The lyrics are all Keith Reid though, a bit more wordy than Johnny Rotten or The Clash.  One of those songs that KRNA played in 1980 that made me took notice between the Billy Joel and Journey stuff they touted and I did find a cutout cassette of that album. And then bought the vinyl...and the CD.  But never the single, couldn't find it anywhere.

5.  A Horse With No Name-America (Warner Brothers WB 7555) 1972  I think I was in fifth grade, home from school being sick with the flu when I first heard this off a fading radio station in the afternoon.  My mom worked at Sears at that time, and once she left for work I had free rein to turn the radio on and listen to the songs out there.  It's overplayed to death now but it was one of those songs when you hear the first time it grabs your attention. In some ways America was no different than Crosby Stills and Nash or Loggins And Messina, it was folk rock with some jamming off and on, especially on B side Everyone I Meet Is From California which didn't make it to the first America album, a head scratcher for the omit.  Out of the CSN and LM bands, America was the weakest of the bunch and their albums have been uneven at best and even slid into a MOR ballad band although they hit number 1 with the overplayed Sister Golden Hair a big 1975 hit but if given the choice Horse wins out.  But then again once they lost Dan Peek, they really did become a MOR band.

6.  Mother Freedom-Bread (Elektra EKS-45740)  1971  People loved those David Gates ballads but if he turned out a rocking 45 such as this song the chart position were not as high.  Don't laugh but Bread was a very capable rock band if they wanted to be, James Griffin wrote more of the rockers, Gates' "bread" (pun) and butter was the ballads.  I come to find I can handle the ballads more now than I used to but this surprise rocker I did buy when I went up to the Lincoln Woolworth's visiting my Grandma when she was still alive (good times). 1971 was a nice watershed year for great 45s and that trek did continue up to 1976 before disco and rap and corporate rock sucked all the inspiration out. Mock me all you want but Bread was a very good rock band when they wanted it to be.

7. Come Up The Years-Jefferson Airplane (RCA 47-8848) 1966   The strange case of Jefferson Airplane is how classic rock radio plays Somebody To Love or White Rabbit every chance they get but the failed 45s you won't hear at all.  But the failed singles probably had too much of a sound too similar to the Mama's And Papa's or Simon And Garfunkel.  It didn't help that they had one of the biggest assholes managing them, one Matthew Katz who co produced their first album.  Grace Slick was still in The Great Society and Skip Spence was playing drums for The Airplane even though he was a guitarist by trade.  This song was too folky to make an impression on the charts, B side Blues From An Airplane would hint for the sound they were searching for, but Jefferson Airplane Takes Off remains a stellar first album.  However the Airplane would manage to excrete themselves from Matthew Katz and go on to bigger things,  Spence would form his own band Moby Grape but unfortunately would retain Katz for his management skills.  And the rest would be history.

8.  I Wanna Go Back-Eddie Money (Columbia 38-06569)  1986  We know the money man and his first album which Two Tickets To Paradise and Baby Hold On are still in regular rotation over the years and somehow I managed to score a vinyl copy of The Sound Of Money which sold boatloads of CDs in the late 80s but this song has always struck a chord with me.  While going from shit job to shit job in my five months being in Arizona, this song was really my expression of being homesick  and since I was about to be kicked out of the house by my loving Aunt Virginia it was either go home or go homeless.

9.  Something Lacking In Me-Nigel Olsson (Rocket PIG-40455)  1975  Nigel has always been one of rock and roll most underrated drummer, he drummed in Uriah Heep for a spell before joining up with Elton John for a off and on 40 plus year career but Nigel had an eye for a solo career which he got further with hackster Paul Davis co producing him rather than his boss.  Something Lacking, is not much different than Philadelphia Freedom, even has Gene Page arranging the strings on this song.  One of the co-writers on this song is none other than David Foster, who would later turn Chicago into mush.  One of 45s that I found in Davenport that I took noticed after all the scavengers bypassed this record.

10. Shakin Street-MC5 (Atlantic 2724) 1970   In this day and age we tend to take certain band records more seriously than we used to back when they were still around and The MC5 were no exception. They didn't do themselves any favors by using F bombs to stores that wouldn't sell Kick Out The Jams using the Elektra label and they certainly didn't do themselves any favors by having Jon Landau producing their album, which Lars Ullrich must have took to heart on Metallica's And Justice For All.  A very tinny and no bass mix whatsoever.  Which tends me to think that Landau is about as overrated as his previous employer Jann Wanner.  On the plus side he got to produce the MC5.  Interesting to note that Landau wanted Fred Smith to sing this rather than Robb Tyler, Smith would rather not but in the end, not only this song remains MC5's best overall song, it influenced a lot of the up and coming garage punk bands at that time.  Not bad at all. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Record Collecting In The Vinyl Revival

Since the report of vinyl sales that have gone up last year it obvious to me that every collector and scavenger is now out and about and plundering the used vinyl at the thrift stores, which will make the upcoming Madison trip a bit more challenging.  Certainly today's like minded individuals will be looking to see what they can find and then post their findings via certain record collecting social media outlets.  

In today's antique stores and record marts, I have noticed the big price markups on moldy album covers and records that don't justify their price.  To pay five dollars for a Ted Nugent album which looks like somebody left out on the highway. (not that I would buy Ted Nugent mind you but I have seen an album that looked like it was left out on the highway) or four bucks for a scratched up 45 really comes to wonderment if it's cost effective just to get a reference copy   But in this day and age, some folks do.  Or get ripped off at an EBAY seller site since the record advertised as VG mint was more like VG minus or poor grade.  Today's bargain hunter has to really do their homework and check out pictures and ratings before deciding to invest.  In my EBAY buys, the buyers I bought records from I can recommend.  In my previous years, I managed to revisit and reacquired 45s to replaced poor copies or records that got broke right off the bat due to me being younger than 5 years old.  It's really a shame that I never treated those records better or kept the sleeves.  But I did managed to find Gonna Send You Back To Walker 45 from the Animals (The first 45 that really caught my attention) or One Beer from Chuck Murphy.  Rock and roll bluffs don't care about the latter but since I grew up listening to a wide variety of records some do stand out for me enough to seek out better copies.  And still working on a trying to get Until I Found You from Don Hollinger for less than 40 dollars (good luck with that).

After eight months away from Madison, I think it is high time to revisit that city and the thrift stores that might have the elusive or lesser known 45 that might appeal to me.  Davenport has been fairly nice with some obscure stuff that the most keen eyed collectors out there overlooked but the weird stuff like The Charles Randolph Grean Sounde The Very Very Blue Danube (Ranwood R-1010  1974) or Carmen Cavallaro Just Say I Love Her (Decca 7-29735  1955) are going to sit there a while.  But in this bizarre world that I live in, if the record looks new, has a sleeve and doesn't skip all over the player then I'm more than willing to give it a spin and then donate it back if I don't like it enough.  And if I stay interested, then I'll research more via the net to learn more about Carmen Cavallaro, who was a big influence on Liberace or to a lesser extent Roger Williams.  Not exactly rock and roll.  And in the case of Charles Randolph Grean, he started out in the big band era, later produced a few country albums for The Sons Of The Pioneers and Eddie Arnold and in the 60s worked with Leonard Nemoy and The Mills Brothers (Cab Driver) before composing the number 11 1969 hit Quentin's Theme from the Dark Shadows soap opera show.  Grean also had a hand in writing Sweet Violets, a early 50s hit for Diana Shore and later done by The Demonstrators for Warner Brother in the 60s, which was close to rock and roll as Grean would ever get. The 1974 Blue Danube I think Grean tried to capitalize on the rock classical craze of Apollo 100's Joy but even then the classical rock craze didn't last very long.

But then again my life has always been the interest of the 45, and the origins of songs and where they come from and they continue to hold my attention more to this date.  It probably would have done my ex girl friends to come up with a box of records, sit them out and front of me and let me sort through the way to keep my attention. Yes, I kinda stopped once the CD boom came around in the 1990s and that year span up to 2002, till I found a decent turntable and once again picked up where I left off.  And up till 2014, I had the pick of the litter, till vinyl sales surged up and the scavengers begin to buy any and everything.  To which even the big finds of last August even shocked me and perhaps the majority of them slept late and yours truly crept in and added them to my collection at 10 cents apiece. To which I doubt I'll ever see the likes of that again.

Last weeks' treasure trove of finds was really not much if you look at it.  The majority of them were country 45s and most scavengers passed on, but since I grew up in that late 60s country music sound I managed to find some songs that eluded me for years.  I always liked the uptempo But You Know I Love You from Bill Anderson (Decca 7-32514) more than The First Edition's version and while classic country plays David Houston's Almost Persuaded, his best song was You Mean The World To Me (Epic  5-10224). There was plenty of Buck Owens to be had, I picked up Buckeroo and Tall Dark Stranger. Strangely though, who ever had the 45s didn't have any George Jones and the only Merle Haggard there was The Fugitive (Capitol 5803).  And plenty more others.

In the course of the last five years of 45's, the country side findings have been better than the rock side of things.  The old 60s of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson RCA 45s have been more plentiful out there and the forgotten country stars of yesterday I have plenty of Faron Young, Roy Drusky and the late great Dave Dudley who recorded many albums for Mercury and only has a paltry 11 song best of to show for his tenure there.  There's not much demand for his I Keep Coming Back For More (Mercury 72818) single but since it was in fairly good shape, I thought why not.  While finding country 45s can be fun and rewarding, it is still the rock sides that I'm on the lookout for. Once in a while, I'll stumbled upon a box of sleeveless 45s of rock and roll but most of them are too scratched up or are overplayed jukebox copies.  Not all bad but it does comes down to wondering if I'll see a certain  45 if I should pick it up.  Which was the case of finding a G grade of Link Wray's Jack The Ripper (Swan 4137), but I did managed to clean it up with plenty of rubbing alcohol and a towel and getting the dirt out of the grooves.  Still having the scratches though but the sound has improved with a good cleaning. 

Today's collectors are getting more and more keen on things, going to estate sales, sucking up to the thrift store employees in order to get the cream of the crop, but sometimes something will fall through their greedy little mitts and comes into my attention.  Which somehow I managed to score a Mobile Fidelity copy of The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, one of the sacred cows in the collector's world.  I'm not above paying big bucks for something that I really want but to find Magical Mystery Tour for 2.38 is why I collect.  The fun of finding something cheap and being happy to say I have a copy.  I could put this up for grabs on a FB record collecting site and quote a price but I have a feeling I'll be playing this from time to time.

And for the Madison bargain hunts is like the Arizona Bargain hunts.  The object is to have fun and see what's out there for the picking.  Nothing against the Antique Malls, they serve a purpose and everybody likes to makes money as well spend money.  I just don't see a need to blow on overpriced moldy and scratched up albums.  And if it's worth mentioning, I'll be sure to do that.  But I also keep a open mind, and knowing that somewhere in the past of the 50s pop recordings and 60s country, there's also good music in that. 

So get them boxes of 45s ready Mad City.  I'll be in your town soon. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Week In Review: Records, Hawks, Ted Cruz sucks

A bit of unfinished business, AJ Pero Twisted Sister drummer passed away at age 55 from a heart attack.

John Renbourn, from the Pentangle and solo years was one of the better acoustic guitarist the world has known but when he didn't show up for a concert and when they went to his home, they found him dead from a heart attack.  He was 70.



Loretta Lynn finally played at the Paramount last night before a capacity crowd.  It was a family affair as her son, and grand daughters played the show.  A classmate of mine Donna Grant was kind enough to take pictures of the show, with Loretta looking grand than ever.  I wonder if Loretta played anything off Van Leer Rose. http://www.hooplanow.com/subject/life/arts/music/review-loretta-lynn-brought-exceptional-evening-of-country-music-to-cedar-rapids-20150327

The NCAA tourney's have come and gone and the biggest disappointments came from Iowa once again.  The lucky team is UCLA, a season which they got in at a higher than what they should have been rating and won the SMU game on a technicality.  However, the biggest loser was Iowa State which got upended by one point to Alabama Birmingham to which game two UCLA blew that team out. If the scrip goes to plan Gonzaga will beat them.  Which leads to Iowa finally winning their first NCAA game since 2001 by playing their best game against Davidson, and then turned around and Gonzaga politely showed them the door in a 19 point win.  Iowa never lead, starting things right off the wrong way with a turnover and the rest was history. Still the NCAA is Kentucky's for the winning, any upsets would be the major one.   In the NIT's Richmond ended Arizona State's miserable season. Which lead to Herb Sendek getting fired two days later after being ASU coach for 9 seasons and having 2 NCAA and 4 NIT appearances  The ASU team underachieved, the high point them beating Arizona in Tempe and downside getting their ass handed back to them in Utah and Colorado. Getting back to Iowa, they haven't been to the sweet 16 since Tom Davis' last year as coach as AD shit for brains Bob Bowlsby (now big 12 Commish) forced Davis out.  And Iowa still is paying for Bowlsby' mess.  Here's hoping next year's Hawkeyes will improve but it won't be easy.  Aaron White's career is done.



On the plus side the Iowa women are going to the Sweet 16 with a 88-70 win over Miami, as the Bethany Doolitte/Melissa Dixon/Samantha Logic farewell tour continues.  Overcoming a cold shooting first half, the Hawk girls lit up the usual dormant  Carver hawkeye baskets with 75 percent shooting in the second half.  And for their effort, gets to play Baylor this Friday.  And they lost 81-66 in a game they never led and had some behemoth man-woman center break Bethany Doolittle's nose.  Sam Logic gave her final triple double performance of her career but it wasn't enough.  It's too bad that we didn't have somebody come off the bench and give Sune Agbuke a punch where the sun don't shine after that non called elbow that she threw that broke Doolittle's nose.  The Hawks only had seven FTs attempted all game whereas Baylor had something like 15 or 16. Coach,Kim Mulkey's happy to know that the refs were on her side all game.  Nevertheless the Hawkeye Women had a great season.  Sad way to see it end when them playing against 8 players.

The big news from here is that Rod Stewart, long time vocalist who's best records are still the ones he cut with Mercury and that side project called Faces is coming to the Five this summer.  To which rumors of a Faced reunion might be forthcoming but Ian McLegan's death pretty much shattered it being a real band (Ronnie Lane checked out years ago) but the nostalgic folk will pony up dollars to see that.  Stewart hasn't done much since then, whoring himself out on the Great American Songbook and his last return to rock album Time was a mixed bag, more meh than yeah.  Over the weekend Heart appeared here as well.  I didn't go to that, I went to Davenport to waste a nice day (perhaps Friday and Saturday would have idea days to do Madison since Monday a late winter storm postpone going up there, thus starting up the here comes the crappy storms to fuck your trip up season) and to see if Bob down at Ragged Records would give me the green light to see his hidden 45s collection upstairs.  However, Bob said it would have preferable to give him a few days notice that he could clear space up there, which made me wonder if this is even worth the effort.  I don't doubt there may be lots of clutter upstairs but give a month notice for the next time might be even overwhelming for me.  So basically I ended up getting the new James McMurtry Complicated Game 2 Record set for 27 dollars and left it at that.

Since the August jackpot finds, each trip since then has not has as rewarding.  And of course the scavengers were out and about more often than not and I ran into one at the Salvation Army as he looked at an old Just For Fun scratched up 45 that was done by Bones Howe and mentioned he could have sold that for 50 dollars via Ebay had it been in better shape.  It's guys like him that makes bargain hunting a bit more harder to find for records of note, if anything comes up rock and roll, the album is usually scratched, the cover is moldy and looked it was in a flooded basement.   While the scavenger left there empty handed, I found some off the wall DJ promos and odd stuff that are byproducts of an era of music nobody cares about anymore.  The best of the bunch may be used for Singles Going Steady but the only interesting thing was a Jack Scott picture sleeve of Goodbye Baby/Save My Soul (Carlton 493) minus the record.  For six records I ended up paying 2 dollars for, most might be re-donated later on.  But for the most part, the same old Juke box country records of the 80s were still there at The Salvation Army, and probably will be there next time I'm back in town.  Just like that Jimmy Webb Cd that I donated six months ago and is still there today.

The love affair with Samantha Fish is over.  I used to get emails from RME, the Davenport outfit that would tout of forthcoming shows but most of the things I get in the hotmail addy is the usual ED drugs bullshit and countless spam of winning the Nigeria Lottery or shady business deals.  And half the time, the old out of date computer freezes up due to Hotmail's commercials that make things run even more slower.  While this was going on, Samantha Fish came back to The Redstone Room on March 13th to a filled with capacity electric performance.   She's still promoting Black Wind Calling and I know it would have been a great music show but once again with no promotion about it up here, I knew nothing about it.  Perhaps she can make an effort to drive up 61 to 30 to Cedar Rapids and play here once a while, maybe Bluesmore?  I'm game but she's not returning my phone calls or emails.

Kathy Welch was the lovely record girl at Record Realm that everybody in town had a secret crush on myself included.  Still lovely in her mid 50s she has since moved out of town and done all the things people do, get married have kids but she's started up her own little shop of jewelry and even specialty sandals.  Like all my friends I try to give props and promote their business whenever I can.  Here's hers. http://www.rochatcollettedesigns.com/  

Gary Overton, the clown President of Sony Music Nashville stepped down.  If you don't get played on country radio you don't exist comment he made started a backlash and may have played a role in him stepping down.   Without Miranda Lambert, he would have been gone years ago.

The Library Of Congress added a few more pieces to the national recording registry.  The major albums are note is Sly And The Family Stone 1968 classic Stand!  (Despite the 13 minute Sex Machine, the rest of the record is flawless) Laryn Hill's album after The Fugees broke up, (not into that sort of stuff but it is worthy of inclusion of hearing Hill when she had her shit together before falling off the deep end), Steve Martin's Wild And Crazy Guy (1978 comedy album with King Tut although Let's Get Small is his classic moment), Radiohead OK Computer (I look at this record the way I do with Dark Side Of The Moon, one of the all time classic B albums out there, a must hear but not something I pull out to listen to after that) and The Doors first album (from Break On Through to The End an album way ahead of its time). Other notable recordings includes wax cylinder recordigs of the late 1890s of Benjamin Ives Gilman at the Chicago Fair (1893), Blind Lemon Jefferson 1928's Black Snake Moan/Matchbox Blues (an old Paramount Recording), Agnes Moorhead's Suspense radio theater show of Sorry Wrong Number (1943), A 1945 recording of FDR's funeral (we need another Franklin Roosevelt in the White House to combat the John Birch Tea Party and the one percent party), Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker My Funny Valentine (1953, 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1955, Stand By Me from Ben E King in 1961, Joan Baez 1960 folk album, You Lost That Lovin Feeling by The Righteous Brothers (one of the best Phil Spector productions ever before he became Looney Tunes) and a few others. http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2015/15-041.html

And the clown show is coming once again. Scott Walker has been here a few times and now it's official: Ted Cruz, the Canook wants to be president here.  This is where I play the birther card and say provide a birth certificate saying you were a US born citizen, wait you can't.  Republicans give elephants a bad name, the clowns vying for votes and Koch money are Jeb Bush (No more fucking Bushes in the white house, the last one really screwed things up), Donald Trump (wouldn't you like this clown for a President, declaring bankruptcy at least four times) Walker (his comment about union workers compared to ISIS really didn't help his cause) and now Ted (shut the government down) Cruz, today's Joe McCartney, perhaps the worst thing to ever come out of Wisconsin (although Scott Fitzgerald is making a ploy for all time worst). The Tea Party no different than the John Birch Society.  But then again the Democrats aren't much better, touting Hilary Clinton (No more Clintons either) or Joe Biden.  Whoever wins, we all still lose.  Cruz is just a joke, and it rhymes with lose.  Funny thing with the Conserves, they even turn on each other.  Just like Karl (Marx) Rove getting into a shouting match with Glenn Beck.   Which reminds me, this week is the new Ray Stevens album, one part novelty, one part obama bashing, one part pop, the rest all filler.  Even Wally World hasn't gotten that in.

Sunday, while going through the same records at Stuff Etc, a guy told me that Goodwill managed to get some 45s of note in, about 300 and I was in the vicinity, so I made it past the usual 4 stop lights turning red when you get there to Council street and that Goodwill.  The guy was right, there was a tub full of country records from the 60s and 70s.  Scavengers tend to overlook country, but since I grew up in that time I did like a few country records and I did managed to sort out and picked the 14 best suited songs for me.  There was some Johnny Cash (all scratched and played down to the nubs), Jerry lee Lewis (various shapes) Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells and so on but I did pick up a couple Buck Owens 45s that weren't too bad in shape, a couple Jim And Jessie, couple Dave Dudley's and some odds and ends, nothing exciting.   Perhaps I'll use them for a Singles Going Steady Country Sides blog.  The rock stuff was rare and I really didn't want a Winchester Cathedral single but for a country haul, it worked out okay.

Rod's Reviews:

Red Simpson-The Man Behind The Badge (Capitol 1965 thereabouts)

Oh, BTW whoever had the country singles donated a bunch of country albums, I did have the Buck Owens albums and the Jim Nesbitt Truck Driving Cat With Nine Lives LP had a scratch that made me put it back but I settled on this concept album from Red Simpson, who is better known for I'm A Truck and did have a best of that Diesel Only issued years ago on CD.  Simpson back then wrote a lot of songs for Buck Owens which is why he was on Capitol, back then labels actually supported the artists.  On this album Simpson salutes the men in blue in 12 songs about policemen.  Best song is Johnny Law, the familiar guitar sound of Don Rich playing and help from the Buckeroos themselves (Doyle Holly co wrote Johnny Law), the rest just what you expect from a concept album of 1965 saluting the men in blue. Perhaps Bruce Springsteen may have heard this album while penning Highway Patrol, which is by far anything better on The Man Behind The Badge but still with Ken Nelson's great production work and the Buckeroos (or whoever was backing Red up) impeccable playing, it's probably worth that 1.68 cutout price just to hear this. But if you do find this album, play 25 Years In Patrol and compare it to Neil Young's Southern Pacific, a song about a guy whose time in his profession has come and gone.  Even throwaway songs have a message if you listen closely.
Grade B-

Free-Heartbreaker (Island 1973)

My favorite Free album is also the one that doesn't have the late Andy Fraser playing bass on it. But then again Free was more inconsistent than Bad Company despite the latter's Rough Diamonds or Burning Sky but the former's Free At Last was one boring mess outside of Little Bit Of Love.  Reviews of Heartbreaker were mixed and toward the negative, but for these ears I actually enjoyed the lesser known ballads that John Rabbit Bundrick did on side 2.  On a whole, the album does showcase the breakdown and breakup of the band due to Paul Kossoff's bad habits, and Bundrick and Paul Rodgers punching each other out in terms of who was leading the band.  Kossoff does play on the majority of the album, and gets songwriting credit on Wishing Well although while not credited, that is him playing lead guitar. Kossoff's distinctive tone can also be heard on the title track and Come Together In The Morning, which his druggy lead somehow adds a bit of tone to the ballad.  Tetsu Yamanchi's bass quite nicely follows what Fraser did on previous albums, the chunky riff to Wishing Well, which in classic rock radio world would be played as much as All Right Now.  Wishing Well is the best song, second best is Easy On My Soul, a very mellow song that features a double keyboards from both Paul and John.  Heartbreaker, the song is damn near heavy metal, even if Kossoff wasn't full time, at least he made the most of his efforts with said song.  The original mix didn't appeal to Chris Blackwell and he sent Andy Johns to mix it better, and Johns put together a very bassy and mysterous mix that is part echo and part wow and flutter, in fact the original album I thought the compression made the songs much more harder rock sounding.  Make no mistake, this album you can actually hear the band falling apart at the seems all the way to the closer Seven Angels.   In the end, Heartbreaker is the end of Free and Rodgers and Simon Kirke would move on to a whole new level with Bad Company, where Kossoff would eventually form the Back Street Crawlers before dying in 1976 from heart failure, and Tetsu Yamanchi would replace Ronnie Lane in Faces.  John Bundrick would do a couple solo albums and session work before joining up with The Who but even he said that being in Free was a much better time, despite things falling apart.  The bonus tracks while interesting are not essential although Bundrick's guide vocal for the shelved Hand Me Down/Turn Me Around and minor B side Let Me Show You How (featuring the original Richard Digby Smith's mix, would give a idea how the record would sound like before Andy Johns came in to remix it.).  The album would have been slightly better than Free At Last. Chris Blackwell was right in his judgement to redo the sound recording.  In the end, while the Free fans tend to enjoy Fire And Water or Highway better, Heartbreaker is their finest work as they're being pulled apart by the forces of Rabbit going one way, Kossoff the other (he pitched a hussy fit when Snuffy Walden came on board as second guitarist) and Paul Rodgers riding the storm out along with Simon Kirke's powerful but economic playing.  A minor rock classic of it's own excesses.
Grade A-

James McMurtry-Complicated Game (2015)

While a reviewer at No Depression raved about this being James' best album ever, I'm not that sure or that enthusiastic to do the same but McMurtry has always been a quality singer songwriter the past 25 years, ever since Too Long In The Wasteland to which John Mellencamp gave his blessings and his band to help James.  But this record is much more stripped down than Too Long or anything else for that matter. Lead off track Copper Canteen would be a perfect bro country song for Luke Bryan to cover till he took a deep look in the lyrics and it's not all tanlines, pussy chasing and beer drinking. It's much more deeper than that, it's a song that looks hard and into the soul of somebody who looks at today's kids, and the big box stores that have replaced life the way it used to be.  Rest of the album is not as hard hitting as Copper Canteen but the blows are more than just glancing either.  Ain't Got A Place is kind of a update of I'm Not Around Here and it's interesting to read James' thoughts on some of the songs on the lyric sheet that is on both of this 2 record set that you have to play at 45 RPM (found that out the hard way).  James songs, like his dad's books, are imagines pined in between the grooves and the simple production does enhance the despair and desperation even in the love songs.  In some ways Complicated Game is no different than say, Where You Hide The Body or Just Us Kids, the hour long album comes across like a book or movie.  And it all makes sense to hear it in one setting, up to the end of Cutter which James ends the song with the thought of I don't know what to say to you, I shouldn't judge but I often do, there's really no way to top that, and so it ends.  The cold hard facts of life in those last two lines.
Grade A-

Silver Apples (MCA 1997)

They made two albums for Kapp back in the late 60s, and I recall seeing Contact, the second album in the 44 cent bins but never bought it.  This band features Danny Taylor playing drums and Simeon playing oscillators in different rhythms and sounds.  Very original ideal that nobody ever did back then.  I'm sure the original Kapp 44 cent albums are now worth more in price (Universal reissued the LPs on vinyl a few years back) although the novelty tends to wear thin if you hear both albums on this 2 on 1 CD that is both the first album and Contact)  Hearing You And I gives me visions of Pere Ubu and what Alan Revenstine would do in that band, I think Pere Ubu and David Thomas must have a Sliver Apples Lp in their collection.  Oscillations is their other classic song, even too weird for the hippie dippy generation.  I suspect Simeon may have found a banjo to pluck on, thus giving us a oddball cover of Ruby, the old bluegrass staple.  But next to Trout Mask Replica, Silver Apples' records are avant garde bliss (or torture).  Your choice.
Grade B

The Replacements-All Shook Down (Rhino/Reprise/Sire 2008)

I for one, was never a big Replacements fan, Husker Du was the band of choice.  And through their career the only two albums that appealed to me was Let It Be which still is their classic and the 1987 Pleased To Meet Me, an album that Alex Chilton was supposed to produced but even he was too eccentric or erratic for any value so Jim Dickinson stepped in.   Fast forward to 1991 where the Mats were down to Paul Westerburg and Tommy Stinson and whoever was in the recording studio, the rock numbers they sounded like Rolling Stones (if Ronnie Wood was lead singer, not Mick) but hell Westerberg sounded half bored on this album anyway. But I think All Shook Down was slightly better than Don't Tell A Soul, with the simplistic Merry Go Round being a nice but failed single.  And Torture is torture especially when the Concrete Blond singer starts screeching, Tina Turner Miss Napoliano is not.  The Expanded edition is the one to get, simply of hearing Paul's demos and the alternative reading of My Little Problem and adding a couple songs off the hard to find promo Don't Buy Or Sell It's Crap, which could have been the working title of All Shook Down. Tommy's Satellite is interesting in itself, after Paul broke up the Mats, Stinson continued under the Bash and Pop name and the underrated Friday Night Is Killing Me which Satellite suggests of how that band would sound.  For a band that started out with Sorry Ma Forgot To Take Out The Trash, I could see how that bumpy and decade long run would end with the subdued All Shook Down.  The original album is a B minus but the bonus tracks of the expanded edition does give this a very weak B plus.


Finally, it's been noted how crappy country music has turned into with hack acts like Chase Rice, Florida Georgia Line which has turned into a boom time for the Farce The Music dudes.  This little Craigslist add, is a parody of things but it pretty much sums up the major label requirements to make it on radio anymore.  I have no use for new country, the o has been left off for some time but this humorous add really sums things up.  It could also be used for the now vacant CEO job at Sony Music now that Gary Overton has been jettisoned.  Don't look for better music to come out anytime soon on K HACK, unless somebody builds a time machine and turn music back about 50 years. 


(from a old deleted Craigslist ad)


Major Nashville Record Label seeks Male Recording Artist aged 21-27. Not interested in female acts.

Be at least 5'8 tall, have straight white teeth and at least rudimentary knowledge of basic guitar chords. Preferable if you're new to town, haven't played out very much and aren't working with a Manager. Want to work with clean slate. Have every song needed for first album on hold. If you have your own songs we can talk about that down the road but not necessary. Track listing is below to get you excited for the project.

George Jones & A Mason Jar
Texas Hot Stick
All Y'all
Straight Outta Jerkwater
Beer In A Duck Blind
Hank It Up
Rural Route 69
Damn Girl (The Thigh Gap Song)
Skeeter Bite
17 Miles to Smyrna
Meemaw's Nanner Puddin'

Please send a Youtube/Soundcloud link to your singing and a clear picture. Have the opening spot on a MAJOR late Summer shed/small arena tour already secured so want to be recording ASAP.

  • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Forgotten Bands Of The 70s-Crack The Sky

In today's world you have the internet and You Tube to find your way to obscure or music from bands you don't hear on the radio.  But before the net, life revolved around going to see what cheap albums that I could find for a dollar or less.  Back in those days Target or K Mart did managed to have a budget section of albums nobody wanted.  Even the old Kresge's store had a wide variety of albums from 44 to 88 cents, to which I thought of while playing The Silver Apples Cd the other day. Seeing 44 cent copies of Contact.  Getting back to subject K Mart had a box of dollar albums and as I was thumbing through, most of them didn't stand out, till I found an interesting album called Animal Notes from Crack The Sky, perhaps the most well-known band to ever come out of Steubenville Ohio, or from another website Wierton West Virginia, to which they are the best known band to come out of Wierton.

Basically Crack The Sky goes by the moniker "music that thinks" or something to that effect.  At times they have a progressive rock sound, other times power pop.  At times, they come across like Pink Floyd, other times 10CC.  The ring leader is John Palumbo, but with guitarist Rick Witkowski Crack The Sky are at their mad best.  But anyway, the 1.00 album I picked up that day was their second album Animal Notes, which came out in 1976 via Lifesong, the label started up by Cashman and West.  Animal Notes was a very quirky and progressively messy.  We Want Mine was a very minor hit on the FM dial (later covered by Eddie And The Hot Rods on the forgetful Fish And Chips album) perhaps the best song was Maybe I Could Fool Everybody Tonight.  Side 2, the 10cc inspired Rangers At Midnight wasn't something I'd play very often, and Virgin....No is like Yes via Queen.  However the last two songs Invaders From Mars and Play On get too bombastic and over the top.   Their first album from what I'm told is better, it does have the odd time Ice and the medley of Hold On/Surf City and the prog rocking She's A Dancer. But even their first album had a something that would try your patience.  Mind Baby comes to mind.

For reasons unknown, either Palumbo didn't want to tour or wanted to stay home and let the other guys go on, it's hard to tell but they got themselves a a capable vocalist in Gary Lee Chappell and Safety In Numbers came out in 1977.  The Pink Floyd influenced Nuclear Apathy  might be the highlight of that album and Palumbo did write a couple songs in the process (on side 1) but opted out in favor of a solo album Innocent Bystander which may have been a pop move. Listening to it this day and age he seems to channel more Harry Nilsson or a whacked out Randy Newman but nevertheless both albums didn't chart that much.  Lifesong didn't exactly have a promotions department but they did managed to strike up a distribution deal with CBS Records for the late part of the 70s.  With Palumbo out of the way, they ended up making a live album which shows that Crack The Sky would have been fun to watch live.  Improvising and joking on the spot, (Rick Witkowski cracks a joke on the break of Maybe I Can Fool Everybody Tonight) and even throwing in the William Tell Overture (or the Lone Ranger theme song) on Surf City.  However, extending Ice into an 11 minute keyboard solo wasn't a very good idea but rocking out to Lighten Up McGraw, leading into She's A Dancer (which takes a more progressive rock turn with it's 9 and half minutes of jamming at the end).  1978 was then golden era for live albums, and Live Sky is a worthy addition to anybody's collection.

To which something changed, Palumbo returned, the band broke up, and then got back together for a series of albums that I never heard.  CBS dropped Lifesong from distribution and the later albums Raw and White Music I never heard.  Then they broke up again.  Lifesong then picked Crack The Sky's best moments on Classic Crack.

John Palumbo and Crack the Sky never really gone away.  In 1989 they signed to Grudge Records for the concept album From The Greenhouse.  Basically it's John and Rick Witkowski playing most of everything but overlook the dated electric drums and it's a decent listen although Palumbo never sounded more Pink Floydish or Roger Waters.  However, I have not heard the other two Grudge albums Dogs or Raw City.  Fast forward to 2012 and I did find Ostrich and for latter day Crack The Sky, the reviews were mixed but Palumbo adds elements of Steely Dan and a bit of Zappa like fun on King Of The Rodeo or the silly Pole Dancing At The Hollywood.  Side 1, Palumbo doesn't add much to the chorus but you can sing along to them (Your House Is On Fire, Happy Happy Happy), but the sillyness does wear thin toward the end, especially on Don't Ask.  While fans tend to think not much of Ostrich, I give Palumbo and company some slack and think it's worth a listen or two, and even the album closer Ali's Song, Palumbo sings about his daughter all grown up and ready for the outside world.

In the CD era, Crack The Sky albums are somewhat not that hard to find if you look in the right spots.  Best overview remains the smugly titled Crack Attic (The Best Of Crack The Sky) that Renaissance Records issued in the late 90s and has just about everything you could want to hear from CTS but this compilation would like you to believe that they went from progressive rock funny guys to a more pop sounding band on  the last two songs Poptown and Too Nice For That.  They kinda clash with the earlier material like Ice or Surf City but it is a decent sampler. A later comp, The Best And The Rest actually focuses more on the lesser known albums of the 80s and even throws in two tracks from Innocent Bystander, Palumbo's solo album.  However, the caveat is that the two songs selected from the CTS 70s albums are the subpar Mind Baby and somewhat better We Want Mine.  For a best of, it's as uneven as they come.

But in the end Crack Attic or Classic Crack are the ones to get if you're interested and that works out for you, the Lifesong albums of the 70s leading up to Live are the ones to check out.  And despite what people tell you, Ostrich and From The Greenhouse do hold their own.  Palumbo and company have been quiet since Ostrich, but Rick Witkowski has been busy in production, he has worked on Joe Gueshesky's most recent album. 

Crack The Sky remains to have a very loyal fan following.  Being on Lifesong didn't help them at all and did played a role and keeping the band as unknowns that couldn't get their records to the store in time.  We Want Mine is basically Palumbo showing his ire at Lifesong for withholding royalties, or lack of promotion. Classic rock radio doesn't even recognize them at all, I have yet to hear a Crack The Sky song on radio or satellite radio.  So they are a well kept secret, but to share the secret of this band is to find their albums and seek out what you may have missed all these years.

For myself it started with an album that I found for a dollar at K Mart in 1979.

Albums of note (the ones that I heard)

Crack The Sky (Lifesong 1975) B+
Animal Notes  (Lifesong 1976) B
Safety In Numbers (Lifesong 1977) B-
Live Sky (Lifesong 1978) A-
Innocent Bystander (Lifesong 1978 by John Palumbo) B
White Music (Lifesong 1980) B
Classic Crack (Lifesong 1981) B+
From The Greenhouse (Grudge 1989) B
Crack Attic (Renaissance 1997) A-
The Best Of The Rest (Winthrop/Lifesong 1999) B-
Ostrich (Aluminum Cat 2012) B+ 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Townedger Radio 6 and Sold Out Miranda Lambert

And the world continues to lose rockers of varying degree. Mike Porcaro bass player for Toto lost his battle with ALS at age 59.  And Billy Davis (of Foghat and The Outlaws) passed away from a brain tumor.  Davis was part of Roger Earl's Foghat band of the early 90s but later would join The Outlaws for a spell and then became a part of Joey Molland's Badfinger. He also had his own band The Cats, featuring another Earl's Foghat member Jeff Howell before the tumor wiped out his musical abilities. Clive Burr, former Iron Maiden drummer passed away from MS on Monday at age 56.

Thom Wilson passed away on Feb. 8th. Best known for producing The Offspring 1994 classic album Smash.  He also produced Face To Face Big Choice in 1995 and Shocprock (sic) America's Dirty Little Secret for Warner Brothers in 1996.

Bruce Crump passed away on Monday.  He was 57.  Bruce was the drummer on most of Molly Hatchet classic albums for Epic in the 70s and 80s and was part of the Dixie Jam Band and later Gator Country, which comprised of former Molly Hatchet members and Paul Chapman of UFO fame.  2015 shaping up to be a banner year in people dying it seems.  And I'm sure more will be coming as the days gone by.

Andy Fraser, best known as the bass player in Free succumbed to cancer and AIDS. He was 62.  His funky basslines on All Right Now and Stealer are classic rock moments.  And late to press, Michael Brown of The Left Banke fame passed away at age 65 and AJ Pero, drummer for Twisted Sister dead at 55.  Grand total of 9 people passing away this week.  Not a good time to be a musician over 50 it seems.  I better watch myself.

It's country time here in Cowpie Iowa and Miranda Lambert came through on a sold out and wild show Saturday Night at the Five.   I mince no words about Miranda, she is the best out there in country rock and everytime she comes into town it's guaranteed to sell out and fans leaving home happy.  Of course Diana Nollen, long time CR reviewer puts out a thumbs up review.  Newcomer Justin Moore and Sunny Sweeney opened up to which Sunny would join Miranda on Cowboy Take Me Away before ending the show with ZZ Top Tush.  BTW Diana newcomer Sweeney has been around for about 5 years and had a decent album on Republic three or four years ago called Concrete.  http://hooplanow.com/review-miranda-lambert-fastest-girl-in-town-20150316

Speaking of country girls, Loretta Lynn is slated for the third time's a charm showing at the Paramount on March 26th.  Lynn canceled a couple times last year, one for health issues, another on conflict of live dates but here's hoping she'll make it here this time.  We're all getting up in years.

On the other side of the country, we have Alison Moorer, the former wife to Steve Earle who managed to hang with him for almost 9 years. She has a new album coming out and it's the most personal and perhaps most engaging record to date and honest to the point. Like the good woman she is, she doesn't talk much about Earle and the impending divorce, she really doesn't care much to hear Steve's latest and her concert shows are kept to a handful due to being mommy to a autistic child to which I have seen up close in a friend that does have a autistic boy himself.  A full time job, that only gets paid off in love.  The folks at No depression took time out to interview Moorer on her latest album and what's it like to have a son with special needs. http://nodepression.com/interview/allison-moorer-interview-new-music-men-and-little-boy-her-life

The ratings this month are down, and I doubt if I'll make 2,000 despite adding content and getting 10 views per blog.  Interesting to note that the Review Consortium has not had any new entries since October and two days outperformed the Record World blog.  The Brian Howe Bad Company blog is still beating the original Paul Rodgers Blog  by about a 100 to 1.  Which leaves the archival stuff still most read with surprise of Sick Of Rain Period with 13 views.  Probably from those in waterlogged Texas.  Forthcoming blogs will include yet another Mad City visit and reported findings, whoever dies and maybe something from Singles Going Steady or an ICON feature.  I figure with warmer weather people are out and about and not spending time reading Record World.  But then again the Google meter points that I only had one 100 plus view day this month and 2 in the past thirty days.   Maybe I should go rattle Bob Lefsetz cage to lively up the ratings.

On the subject of Tony Robinson, the ersatz black kid that was shot and killed by a white Madison Police officer.  I don't comment on it since I don't know the fact and trying to put them together would base an opinion.  I met the kid once maybe, the crazy skateboarder weaving in the middle of the road in downtown Madison that wouldn't get over.  And had he been white the story wouldn't be national news.  I don't know if calling attention to yourself was the right thing to do, or Tony decided he wasn't going to cooperate with a white policeman.  We'll never know but what I do know  that had Tony would have listen to the officer perhaps he might be alive today.   Not all cops are racists, not all blacks are thugs or gangstas, troublemakers are of different colors but again since Robinson was black and the officer right, the media is blowing things out of whack.   I've been to Ferguson, it's a powerkeg waiting to explode even driving down there, the police and black folk don't get along very well.  Years of racial profiling has made blacks very suspicious of the cops.  Madison is no Ferguson,  it's a college town, it's the state capital but yet there's a diversity that people do get along fairly well be it the whites, blacks, Hispanics and Oriental.   But being a cop is a very tough job and I commend them for tying to hold the law while dealing with those that do hate cops or have attitudes or bias towards them.  Whatever Tony Robinson had for feelings of them he took them to his grave. And I'll leave it at that. http://timmorrissey.blogspot.com/2015/03/being-safe-out-there.html

It seemed that Mr. Robinson ate some magic mushrooms before freaking out on the confrontation with the people office and meeting his doom as well.  Nothing more to comment.

Same old shit different day, Benjamin Netanyahu  the renegade P.M. was elected to a 4th term in Israel. People don't want change for the better, Bibi's fear mongering speech at the UN may have had something to do with him getting elected again, but this is getting old.  What it means is that they'll continue to build more settlements and squeeze folks in Gaza even more so.  Not that Humas is any help but more years of Yayhoo at the helm will lead the world down to a more destructive path.   And we continue to wait for Jesus to descend from Heaven which doesn't seem to be soon.   In the meantime this fucked up state continues to build more roundabouts, Joni Ernst and Steve King continues to make idiots of themselves and nothing ever going to come giving  the 1 percent more tax cuts.  We've seen the results, they're buying out the elections en masse.  And the meantime Bob Lefsetz continues to bitch about us folks buying CDs and albums.  In other words Bob, WGAF what you think?   On the positive, Chris Borland, after one year in the NFL decides to hang it up and not risk getting brain damage in the future.  For too long some of our NFL stars stayed too long and ended up paying the ultimate price, Junior Seau comes to mind.  Congrats Mr Borland for your life changing and saving decision and all the best to you in the future.

And now this: The Dwarves website got hacked by Islamic extremists, and the lead singer isn't happy.  I wouldn't be either: http://newnoisemagazine.com/dwarves-website-hacked-jihadist-hackers-frontman-blag-dahlia-pens-response/

Time for Rod's Wonderful Record Review:

Nigel Olsson's Drum Orchestra And Chorus (Uni 1971)

Best known for being the long time drummer for Elton John (off and on) but in the late 70s, Nigel had a couple of easy listening singles that Paul Davis produced that managed to reach the charts, that Nigel Olsson is far different than the guy that put this record out in the early 70s.  At one time he was part of Uriah Heep (a couple recordings with him are on the first Uriah Heep S/T album) but the early Elton John years he was a hard banging drummer with a Keith Moon type of bash and crash, very interesting to hear on the 1970 live album featuring just Elton, Nigel and the late Dee Murray, who plays on the Drum Orchestra.  In fact this record is no different than say, Tumbleweed Connection except it's Nigel doing the lead singing.  B J Cole and Caleb Quaye, also part of Elton John albums help out and Quaye has been largely forgotten over the year but he was a very capable guitar player in his own right, he'd later formed Hookfoot.  To throw some variety, Janis Joplin clone singer Kathi McDonald screeches on Hummingbird (the Leon Russell song) and Spooky Tooth's I Can't Go Home Again which turns out into a 7 minute jam.  Trying to have that hippie vibe Nigel covers Spirit's Nature Way which goes on a bit too long at the end or country rocker We're Got A Long Way To Go.  I mentioned this album after another blogger wrote about Nigel's pop albums of the late 70s but while Dancing Shoes or Little Bit Of Soap was a failed effort for music acceptance, The Drum Orchestra And Chorus album does suggest that Nigel and friends could have made a decent although not as memorable career as the being the drummer for the best selling artist of the 1970s.  Basically Nigel's best moments are with the diva at the piano.
Grade B

Vanity Fare-Early In The Morning (Page One/Bell Records 1970)

I look at these guys in the same manner as I do with The Foundations, a band best known for two songs even though both bands did make a an album or two.  Whereas The Foundations blue eyed soul didn't do much for me (and still don't) Vanity Fare's two songs Early In The Morning and Hitching A Ride are easier on the ears and easy to sing along to.  I suppose the use of the Harpsichord on Early In The Morning had the hook that made it stand out, or the flute beginning of Hitching A Ride or the piano boogie at the end of the song that made it classic rock gold.  Alas, there would be no more hits, Page One Records ran out of steam and Vanity Fare became one of those what ever happened to bands out there. Of course, the rest of the songs don't grab you like their hits but they do have a charm of their own,  Barry Landemann trying for another Early In The Morning hit with You Made Me Love You, a decent cover of Four Strong Winds, and a hippie vibe in the old standard Music Music Music and faithful but pointless covers of I Live For The Sun and Hey Baby.  Perhaps Keith Skues, former BBC DJ best sums their music up as original as Abe Lincoln borrowing books from the NY Public Library after Vanity Fare based their music as happy and tunefully style on the West Coast sound.  Professionalism done right so to speak and sometimes you can get a hit out of it too. And with Early In The Morning and Hitching A Ride, a permanent place on oldies radio too.
Grade B+

The Jones Gang-Any Day Now  (AAO 2005)

Upon revisiting the Bad Company catalog up to the point on the third straight time of hearing Sliver Blue And Gold on the third straight Bad Company album, I decided to revisit the Jones Gang, which is three parts of the Bad Company mark 3 lineup (Robert Hart, Rick Willis and Bucket Cowell) and Kenny Jones, who was the wild drummer for Faces but then lost himself by being Keith Moon's replacement in The Who.  Hart, managed to carbon copy Rodgers' vocals in the Bad Company era but on this record that's more The Law than Bad Company 3, he turns into a Richard Marx clone. Originally I gave this is B plus grade 10 years ago but a decade later, even with the help of Ronnie Wood, still comes across as The Law light.  Kenny Jones barely breaks out in a sweat, except perhaps on  Where Are You that he trots out the vintage drum rolls that Roger Daltrey hated when he was playing them in The Who.  There's a stab of Kashmir on lead off The Time Of Your Life and the lite MOR pop of Angel.  But if there's any thing related to Bad Company, it's more toward the Brian Howe era rather than Hart's own Badco 3.  Basically the record flopped (I recall AAO had a straight deal with FYE to issue the album in their own stores only), not because they didn't try but rather of the fact that it was 2005 and the world didn't need a update of Richard Marx or Badco 2 or 3. And like The Law's album it put people to sleep.
Grade C+

Delta Rebels-Down In The Dirt (Polydor 1989)

One of those two dollar Cd's that I found at Half Priced Books and bought on the idea that this was southern rock done 80s style.  Upon further research,  it was revealed that Eddy Shaver (son of Billy Joe Shaver), future Creed player Steve Ingle and future Brother Cane guitarist Damon Johnson was in this band.  Kinda cool if you think about it.  The music itself is a bit uneven that the Rebels came across like Little Caesar or a lesser metallic Circus Of Power.  A bit of bro country type of lyrics can be found in stuff like Kickin Down The Night or The Girl's Gone Western (don't tell Florida Georgia Line this song exists or they will cover it).  But they get to their boogie best on Darlene, an ode to a strip dancer or Used Tires, the highlights of this album. On the downside, we get yet another don't yell at me female on the title track and the rapping to Rock-And-Roll Women (S N D) is just plain silly.  However the guitar work of Johnson, Shaver and Rocky Atlas (credited in the thank you section) almost makes up for the nonsense of that song.  Being on Polydor didn't help and the band broke up soon after, Shaver, Ingle and Johnson moving on to better bands.  Down In The Dirt is merely a good bar band playing so so original material.
Grade B-



Townedger Radio 6 Playlist 3-18-15
(broadcast on Lucky Star Radio)

What A Girl Wants:Ace Frehley
Head Over Heels-The Yo Yos
I See Sound-Moth
If It Takes You There-Idlewild
I Don't Care About You-Fear
Ohio-Paraphernalia Tyrus Band
Oh My Surprise-Batdorf & Rodney
Slumville Sunrise-Jake Bugg
51st Anniversary-Jimi Hendrix
Walk A Thin Line-Route 66 (The Townedgers)
Turn It Up-Texas Hippie Coalition
Helen Says-Hank
Go West Young Man-EIEIO
Ever So Much-The Townedgers
Love's Closing In On Me-Tommy James & The Shondells
Don't Deserve You-Randy Rogers Band
I Wish You Were A Beer-Cycle Sluts From Hell
Deep Six Saturday-Tommy Keene

(Encore Shows are sometimes heard on Friday Nights at 11 PM CST on Lucky Star Radio)



Friday, March 13, 2015

The Week In Review: Goodbye Gene Gene The Dancing Machine

Passings: Jimmie Greenspoon, keyboardist for Three Dog Night.  Really his piano and organ work made songs like Try A Little Tenderness, Eli's Coming, Let Me Serenade You were classic rock gold.  Certainly the vocal talents of Cory Wells, Danny Hutton and Chuck Negron made them special but without Jimmie Greenspoon's musical work, they'd be nothing. Jimmie died from cancer at age 67.

Daevid Allen, the leader of prog band Gong also succumbed to cancer at age 77.  Never got into their music but I did listen to a couple of Gong's albums, best one was You.  I may have to take another listen just for old time's sake.  Best way to describe their music was something like Hawkwind with more chords and more hippie dippy.

Eugene Patton aka Gene Gene The Dancing Machine, a part of the Gong Show is dancing beyond the stars. He was 82 and lost his legs and dancing ability to diabetes. The Gong Show had bad singers and actors, and would be responsible for copy cat shows like American Idol and The Voice in later years.  Patton was always the highlight of the Gong Show.

Update of the death of Wayne Static, was from a overdose of Oxycondon, Xanax and alcohol poisoning. Although Static gave up illicit drugs in 2009 he did use Oxycondon and Xanax from relief of his panic attacks. Perhaps the use of some kind of alcohol gave a adverse reaction and Static passed away in his sleep.

It's that time again when independent bands head to Austin for the annual mess we call SXSW festival.  Sponsored by Budweiser, Four Loco and many other booze companies, after all it's not music without booze.  And more booze in the conferences about music.  Good luck finding a motel room down there.

The continuing lack of good music coming out this year has prompted me to say that this year's new releases will be the least in history.  Only 3 new albums reviewed and Best Buy can't get the new James McMurtry in. While thinking of things to look for in the next Mad City trip I come up with a blank and might just say the hell with it and stick to the thrift stores and dollar sections at the record stores.  The Record Store Day listings aren't much better and by the time I do get up there, the good stuff get picked up and listed on EBAY for black market prices.  There are some things of note, Trip Shakespeare early albums before A&M picked them up are now reissued but I never thought much of either of the early albums, eccentric and good but I didn't quite get them. Bill Kopp did score an interview with John Munson about those albums. http://blog.musoscribe.com/?p=7426 

While RSD was a good idea back in 2008 or 2009 when originally started, it has since then become more of a rip off of overpriced albums.  However, I have seen more of people hanging into record stores and buying records the past year and that is a good thing.  It even has brought back the cassette, what's next the 8 track? Might happen.  The downside of the vinyl revival is that there's more crate diggers going to Goodwill and Salvation Army and getting lucky as well. But a good bargain hunter like myself can always find the more obscure and be happier with it, then the ones who hoard Pink Floyd or Beatles albums. I'm not that hardcore to spend ridiculous prices on hot wax vintage vinyl the folks at Better Records put out, I tend to favor the lesser known.  Regardless Pink Floyd will always be around in some music way but we're still trying to get Universal to reissue The Brains albums.  And somebody needs to remind the world about Chuck Murphy and his music too.

I haven't given much thought to the latest Bob Lefsetz recycled blogs, the endless repeating of how much he hates vinyl, Spotify is the bomb and if you're not into Luke Bryan you just don't get it.  Sometimes  when you have nothing left to say it's better to take time off and get away from it all. Yes once upon a time, music mattered and it was ran by record label presidents that were into music and not into the bean counting business fud duds we are stuck today.  Or the cookie cutter top forty and country stuff that makes the 1910 Fruitgum Company sound like The Beatles and Ohio Express Led Zeppelin.  Oh it would be nice to get back to the garden as Joni Mitchell wrote about Woodstock and have meaningful songs once again.  But the garden can't be found, it got bulldozed down and a Wal Mart lies on top of it. 


I haven't been in a very good mood lately.  Perhaps it's a need to go somewhere, or take time off from work but I can't complain about the weather.  It's been above normal and sunny, the rains have stayed to the south of here and most of the snow has melted.  Perhaps it's also watching the poor excuse of a basketball team called the Iowa Hawkeyes both men and women made a one and done in the Big Ten Tournaments.  At least the women played both quarters, the Men played a lousy first half and then called it a day as Penn State came from 12 behind to beat them 67-58 in the first round.  One and done once again.  Lousy 7-32 shooting in the second half didn't help nor did Coach Fran McCaffery blowing his wad and getting a technical.   Perhaps Iowa doesn't do very well in Chicago, Northwestern beat them in, but then Iowa ran off six straight victories and bullshitted us into thinking that they were for real.  Let's look at the bright side, perhaps they can win six straight in the NCAA's (Fat chance since Kentucky is picked to win it all).  Win all you can but one loss and it's wait till November.  And I rather not, I want to enjoy springtime and baseball, not worry about our subpar Football team, which Jake Rudock is thinking of leaving for another team and basketball which loses Aaron White and Gabe Oslanti and Josh Oglesby, who lost his three point shooting touch this season.  Getting back to basketball, if it wasn't for Aaron White and Jarret Ultoff, Penn State would have blown them out of the United Center.  Afterwards, the Big ten announcers got in line to kiss the Penn State's coach's ass of a great victory, which isn't saying much when they only shot 18 percent in the first half and Iowa a lousy 28 percent.  However Iowa decided to stay in the 27 percent shooting range whereas Penn State managed to start scoring a bit more often.  Penn State is better than their record indicated, 8 losses were by seven points or less.  Or maybe Iowa wasn't as good as I thought they would be.  Still the Hawkeyes are a NCAA shoo in, although I'm betting their seeding will be no higher than 10th or 11th due to their poor showing Thursday.   They better hope they don't get lumped in where Wisconsin or Kentucky or Villanova is at.  Then they'll be one and done and good luck Aaron White in your future job.

I haven't been too pleased at the outdoor cat Callie either.  The little bitch was being your typical cat, playful one minute, biting and scratching the next and I'm not putting up with it.  I don't do biting and scratching cats very well, it's noted that I'm not a cat fan, they tend to be more prickly and unpredictable than this crabby record collector.  While trying to clean up the yard, and taking five on the chair, Miss Cat Attitude jumped on my lap for a bit of attention, don't mind that, but for some reason she got to be a bit more riled up.  She likes getting her belly rubbed and ears, but next thing I know she's nipping me in my arm and that is cause for off the lap.    Then she growled at me and started to bite again.  By then, she woke the inner hulk inside of me, and I hissed right back and grab her by the neck and made a point of who is boss here. Callie was not harmed by the way.  And I told the ungrateful pussycat that she don't have a choice in this matter; that further outbursts will get her dropped off to the local animal shelter without a second thought.   In China and third world countries, Cats are delicacies on the menu so consider yourself lucky Callie Marie Rustbucket Pussycat that you don't live there.  So she sulked away for about a half hour before going back to her makeshift home in the back of my brother's junk pickup truck and me going to work.  She didn't do herself any favors when I came home and seeing her gray butt on the gray car.  I made it known, she's on thin ice but she did get fed before bed.  And left it at that.

In every man, there's a killer inside, that if the wrong nerve gets stepped on or something snaps , the killer notion does take over. I've been on the warpath since my dental provider sent me a collection notice over a lost check in the mail, and they're next on the list to go fuck themselves and get a new dentist.  They know the phone number, they call it when they remind me two months in advance,  but when bills are due and the payment is lost, they draw up a sarcastically intoned  collection notice.  That don't set well with me.  We deal with frustration and stress every day, no wonder my BP is over 180 most days; I have a outdated computer that freezes up everytime somebody farts on the net, you're dealing with red lights and assholes on the highway to work and the corporation you work for is readying up for more layoffs, despite too much work and not enough folks to get it finished right.  It's easy to see why people snap, the wife or girlfriend gets mad over a slight thing you did or something you forgot, if you have babies, they're crying or pooping and need attention or you have kids who listen to rap and won't pull their pants up or strung out on drugs or fighting you over rules.  A no win situation, not all kids are bad, but sometimes they'll get into trouble, or worse if you came home and having your 16 year old daughter announcing she's knocked up after a one nighter.  Or the one you love is seeing another on the side.  Most of the time, I root for crappy teams that don't do shit which adds more stress and it's much ado about nothing.  The world doesn't end if the Hawkeyes don't win the Championship or the Cubs but I get sick of the same lame results.

Life is life, the good and the bad and the horrid, and sadly things go wrong.  Sometimes there's a breaking point that if the offender cross that, there's no turning back.  Kinda like the Ferguson Missouri fiasco where the black population don't trust the Police, or Israel building new settlements on the West Bank and having the idiot Netanyahu address congress about the same Iran speech he gave 25 fucking years ago.  And then having 47 Republican with some radical rightie named Tom Cotton writing a note to Iran and talking war.  That don't sit well with me.  Congress and politics for that matter have split the country up more so now than ever, and of course in the end, we ended up with this Iowa C word Joni Ernst trying to say what we want when in no fucking way this bitch is speaking for me.  I disown anything she says or do and the other idiot Charles Grassley is a career politician whose been bought out by Big Pharma, Big Oil and anything associated with Koch Industries.   Just like Joni baby.   But I shouldn't worry about her, she much ado about nothing.

I don't do well with stress and adversity very well, nor split personality stray cats.  And it takes great restraint not to choke 8 lives out of the gray hairball or do other inhumane things to it.  It's their natural instinct to act that way...but I don't agree with it and she's still about a step ahead of the Linn County Animal Shelter as of this writing.  To those who want a free cat, that has its shots and is fixed and is friendly about 47 percent of the time can contact me and pick Callie up at your convenience.  But the window of opportunity is a small one, she may not be here much longer, especially when she escapes indoors and starts walking on the stereo and the 45s on the shelf.  They were here longer before she came around , and will be long after she's gone. 
Just how soon remains up to the owner of the house.

But deep inside I don't like the killer that does inside this body, and somehow remains subdued by the good that's inside of me.  I do have angels working overtime to shield me away from the killer that would do more harm than good.   And so it goes. 

And Jonathan Richman makes his way back to Gabes in Iowa City on Sunday the 15th for a show. Tickets are fairly cheap, 15 dollars and Richman always puts on a good show. 

Reviews:

Miles Davis-Sketches Of Spain (Columbia 1960)

Miles can be a genius but sometimes he can be overrated as they come.  I can take small doses of Davis on certain albums, the John Coltrane/Miles Davis Canadian best of that I found for 40 cents in Arizona made a perfect drive into deep old Route 66 music.  I don't think he could ever top Kind Of Blue or for fusion rock The Jack Johnson album.  While critics raved about Sketches Of Spain, I find it somewhat of a chore to listen through, especially on the side long Concierto De Aranjuez which is more Gil Evans than Davis, who pretty much makes fart noises on the trumpet.  The liner notes suggested Davis was very difficult to work with and the performances show it. Actually the alternative version (added as bonus tracks) is better, at least Davis shows some interest in that ill fated November 15, 1959 sessions. A March 10, 1960 session includes the other side and the rest of the songs and I do hear bits on John Phillip Sousa on Saeta, anything with a drum roll does work wonders (thanks Jimmy Cobb on drums and Elvin Jones on percussion).  The best song from this is Solea to which Miles adds his trademark trumpet solos throughout the song.  I hear elements of avant garde and some of it reminds me of The Mothers Of Invention Uncle Meat album years later although if Frank Zappa listened to Miles Davis I wouldn't know.  Sketches Of Spain can be a difficult listen, it's not something I'd play on a regular basis.  But I do commend Gil Evans for this classical approach to Spanish Themes for this is record is much as his as it is Miles, maybe even more.  But if you're not hardcore Miles, you're better off with Kind Of Blue...or A Tribute To Jack Johnson.
Grade B+

1910 Fruitgum Company-Indian Giver (Buddah 1969)

Really the Ohio Express was a much better band.  The 1910 Fruitgum Company made the annoying Simon Says and 123 Red Light and probably are more brainless than Chewy Chewy or Yummy Yummy Yummy.  This very brief album (only 25 minutes long, side 2 barely makes it over 10 minutes) sounds more like Tommy James I Think We're Alone Now era.  In fact the best songs here (Indian Giver and Special Delivery) are co produced by Bo Gentry and Richie Cordell who did produce Tommy James; the other producer was Bobby Bloom I'm thinking of Montego Bay Fame.    The rest is basically Kasenetz/Katz bubblegum filler, not much thought or effort was made, certainly not on the selections on side 2. Vocals in one speaker, backing music on the other.  No different than the throwaway Tommy James tracks from I Think We're Alone Now or Getting Together.  But for some reason some of the lyrics remind me of early KISS.  You can draw your own conclusion over that.
Grade C+

Super Soul Blues Volume 1 (Paula 1991)

From the archives of the great Stan Lewis' Louisiana labels of soul blues Jewel/Paula/Ronn come 15 tracks of varying degree. John Lee Hooker starts out with a boogie Roll and Tumble and Tina Turner does Shake A Hand which sounds a bit like the Staple Singers.   Some local favorites like Frank Frost's My Back Scratcher which gives visions of Slim Harpo, Little Johnnie Taylor's disco funky Goin To Get It On, and Bobby Rush' Bowlegged Woman, Knock Kneed Man which the best of the bunch.   Later Phil Walden reached an agreement with Stan Lewis is issued three decent and better compilations the Paula/Jewel Story which gives deeper insight to this forgotten label as well as The Fire/Enjoy Label and the one for your collection of the Cobra Records Story, to which Lewis managed to score those masters as Eli Torasco was having a fire sale at that time.  But Stan Lewis for a time in the 1990s put out a lot of this stuff on his own and on his own label and most is worth getting.  Super Soul Blues Volume 1 is a nice sampler.  And Stan Lewis is still going strong to this day at age 87.  That accounts for something.
Grade B

Combonation (Warner Brothers 1984)

For some reason I continue to get this band's name mixed up with Combination which is not the same thing at all.  And for another reason we can't get Universal to reissue Tom Gray's former band The Brains on CD but we can get a minor band's unheard album issued via Wounded Bird.  Too bad The Brains didn't record for Warners, maybe then we would have their albums reissued.  Long time ago I did buy the Combo Nation album on LP for a dollar and it was quite chewed up, so when the CD was selling for three bucks new I thought a upgrade would be in the works.  Combonation is a new wave band, with elements of The Cars, some XTC, Bob Marley and power pop and  Girls Like You got some airplay on MTV although I never saw the 45 but It's All Over Sue I did have as a Promo 45. It does sound a bit like them sounding like the UK Records of Hearts In Her Eyes fame but again the XTC sound comes into play with Hazardous Conditions and No More Information, and give them credit they managed to pull the white boy reggae of the silly lyrical We's Gwyne Hollywood.  Adventures In Modern Living is very Cars sounding, Girls Like You somewhat in The Knack territory.  Not a lot is known about them, Mark Hart is considered the main songwriter (although Steve Dudas, Rick Moors and Billy Thomas helped)  Randy Foote was the main vocalist who played latin drums as heard on Babble On, Ted Templeman, Warner Brother's ace staff producer produced this, the guess is that Donn Landee recorded it but due to the shoddy Wounded Bird layout, we don't know.  For a one and done album, it's an 80s album all the way and early 80s too, a product of the times and really not bad; I enjoy No More Information and It's All Over Sue the most. Lost in the shuffle of the majors the band broke up after Warner's dropped them after poor sales of this record.  Mark Hart went on to play in Supertramp and Crowded House.
Grade B+

Eric Andersen-Sweet Surprise (Arista 1976)

Granted I wasn't impressed with the folk singer songwriter explosion of the 70s and most of the time didn't care until in later years and bad new music I decided to revisit whoever I came across in the cutouts or what the crate diggers overlooked at the thrift store.  Dan Fogelberg never gets any love, nor does Livingston Taylor.  Eric Andersen had a cult hit with Blue River for Columbia back in the 70s and never followed a proper album and came on board to the fledgling Arista Records roster with a bunch of folkie castoffs (Batdorf And Rodney, London Wainwright the third, Don McLean).    Blue River remains his best studio although I enjoy The Best Songs, a nice overview of Andersen's work which doesn't have anything off Sweet Surprise, his underachieving 1976 effort and basically Tom Sellers didn't do Eric any favors with a bland recording (also Mark Harman who recorded this gets the blame equally).  It's not all bad, How It Goes shows Andersen taking a page or two out of Bob Dylan's book in longform songwriting and he covers a Tom Waits song (San Diego Serenade).  But side 2 songs don't stand out, they actually sound unfinished except for the title track.  Had Andersen gotten a producer who knew what the hell he was doing (Norbert Putman would have been the answer)  Sweet Surprise would have been a 'sweet surprise'.  Instead, he got Sellers.
Grade B-

45's found in Iowa City

Two-Bit Manchild/Broad Old Woman  Neil Diamond (Uni 55075)

The laughable pricing of 45s at the Iowa City Goodwill Store continues, with some of them being 1.88 or 2.88 (don't understand the logic of Alan O'Day's Skinny Girls being 1.88 and I could have gotten it for 88 cents due to an indifferent and bored lady clerk) but I managed to find a decent copy of Manchild B/W the infamous Broad Old Woman (6 AM Insanity) which seems to be a work in progress song.  Tad mentioned this a few times in his blog and in some conversations and I always wanted to hear it on 45 format, the only way to get it since it has only been on the Complete UNI Sessions that has now gone out of print.  For a B side, it does capture the weirdness that Neil Diamond was doing after leaving Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich  and Bang Records for the upstart UNI Records and freaky Tom Catalano co producing.  The guess is that Artie Butler is involved.  While Two Bit Manchild would have sounded at home on Bang Records, the song only reached number 66 on the charts a lackluster showing but hearing it today it remains a very good song.  It's more of the more rocking numbers on Velvet Gloves And Spit, Neil's first UNI album, but the record is all over the place weird. He should have considered putting Broad Old Woman on this as perhaps a bonus track?

The Flight Of Chicken Rabbit  by  The Two Man Symphony (Big Tree BT 15003)  1974

A novelty number, kinda of a selection mix  of country/classical and ELO to boot.  Jim Cretecos and Ted Cooper were the guys who wrote and produced this.  Further research doesn't come up much on Cooper, but Cretecos was the better known, he wrote hits for the Partridge Family and Robin McNamara (Lay A Little Lovin On Me) and was instrumental in taking on a newcomer to produce his first album (or co produce) namely Bruce Springsteen's Greetings From Asbury Park and the followup The Wild/Willing/E Street Shuffle.  He certainly got farther with Bruce then he did on Chicken Rabbit, now a curio promo 45 that so unknown, that you tube doesn't have a clip for said song.  And so it goes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bad Company-The Paul Rodgers Era

A few years back, I wrote a piece about Bad Company when they reformed with Brian Howe as the vocalist.  I didn't think it would have been such a hit, it's in the top ten all time best of Record World blogs.  With the announcement that Rhino is reissuing the Bad Company albums in expanded 2 CD form, I decided perhaps it's time to take a look at the original band.  I don't have a high opinion of expanded 2 CD sets,  I'm not hardcore enough to buy alt mixes and alt takes of songs that didn't make the final album cut or regulated to simply B sides.  In the case of the first Bad Company album, itself a staple of classic rock radio and one of the must owns albums of the 70s I tend to think that Little Miss Fortune and Easy On My Soul, B sides to Can't Get Enough and Movin On would have enhanced the album a little better and both cuts were better than the hardly played The Way I Choose, the weakest track from their first album.  Simply trotting out a 2 CD expanded edition just does not seem cost effective.  Unless you're a hard core fan that has to have it all.  To which Rhino Records salutes you, now fork over your money.

That said Bad Company is a supergroup from in 1973 when Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke of Free joined forces with Mick Ralphs (Mott The Hoople) and the late Boz Burrell, who was the lead singer on the King Crimson album Islands but did not sing in Bad Company.   Free was falling apart, Ralphs was getting frustrated in Mott for writing up Can't Get Enough and didn't have the vocal to make it a hit.  Enter Paul Rodgers, which we call "the voice" of rock and roll.  Rodgers  could sing just about anything and even in his early 20s he can do R and B and the blues as well as rock and roll.  They were also the first band to sign up with Swan Song, Led Zeppelin's label which established them in the cool category.  The first album remains their best although it's not as perfect as they want you to think.  Side 1, most of the songs get regular play on Corporate Rock, the count em off and Kirke's drum hit at the beginning of Can't Get Enough, to the funk and roll of Rock Steady and a remake of Mott's Ready For Love to which Paul's vocals do give the song better justice than when Mick sang it for Mott from All The Young Dudes.  My favorite remains side closer the moody Don't Let Me Down, which did get more FM airplay back then than now.  Side 2 starts with their namesake song Bad Company a crowd favorite even if Brian Howe sang it during his tenure in the band and Robert Hart which I'll probably add something down the road from him.  After the snoozefest that is The Way I Choose, they get back to top forty land with Movin On which is boogie rock without much thought, just go with the melody and rock out.  And concludes with the Paul Rodgers showcase Seagull which is just Paul and his guitar.  Bad Company still remains required listening after all these years and despite some of the songs being overplayed.   They were never quite live up to the hype ever again.

Straight Shooter is a slightly weaker version of the first album, with rocking hits (Good Lovin Gone Bad, which the word Yeah repeated in record numbers, Bad Company songs never really meant much outside of rock and roll and getting laid) and the hard rocking overplayed Feel Like Makin Love  (Let's Get It On for the rock and rollers out there). Another rocking FM classic is Deal With The Preacher (Mick Ralphs knows how to use a hook when needed) and to a lesser extent Wild Fire Woman. Somehow Simon Kirke managed to get two songs he wrote onto the album (Anna and Call On Me) and they are the two weakest.  B side Whiskey Bottle (B side to Good Lovin Gone Bad) probably would have made the album stronger but overall, it does pale in comparison to the debut.

Run With The Pack, the formula begins to tire and the buyers were not so much willing to buy but in my ears it is a better album than Straight Shooter although more inconsistent songs are beginning to show up.  Starts out according to plan with a rocker Live For The Music before Rodgers leads us into Simple Man and then failed rocking single Honey Child, (it's recycled Can't Get Enough sped up but I like it myself).  Plaintive ballad Love Me Somebody puts me to sleep before waking me back up with the pompous title track.  For some, the sad Silver Blue And Gold was the perfect love is gone ballad that played great when you broke up with your high school sweetheart and she broke your heart, but for myself I think I rather much prefer Love Me Somebody.  A remake of Young Blood was fun but it didn't sell as a forty five either and between the last two ballads, we get Sweet Lil Sister, another boogie rocker about a groupie I betcha.  Overall, a good record though not a classic.

Burnin Sky, led by the title track is not bad but the rest of album is halfassed, as if Paul Rodgers was trying to come up with ideas that will stick.  At time some inspiration comes around in songs like Too Bad and Man Needs Woman but Master Of Ceremonies is awful.  I have no idea what Rodgers was trying to do but the absence of Mick Ralphs writing songs didn't help things either.  This was their worst album before Rough Diamonds came out five years later, that still is their worst, but Burnin Sky is runner up.
 
It would be a couple years before Bad Company reconvene and Desolation Angels was worth the wait.  Led off by the overplayed Rock And Roll Fantasy, the production and sound was a much smoother sound than what Chris Kimsey (and Ron Nevison on the earlier albums) gave them.  The acoustic numbers (Take The Time, Crazy Circles) were a bit more inspired, Gone Gone Gone and Lonely For Your Love has Mick Ralphs playing inspired rock again and even throwing a bit of soul music into Oh Atlanta and Evil Wind despite the disco drum boasts on the latter.  She Gives Me Love is a rewrite of Don't Let Me Down. Desolation Angels while not perfect was a improvement over the bloated Burnin Sky and at least feels more like a band effort rather than a Paul Rodgers solo album.

The final effort Rough Diamonds, recorded a few years later remains the worst of the Paul Rodgers era led band. Outside of Electricland, this version of Bad Company was trying to come up with something Corporate rock sounding and ended up being too corporate for its own good.  With the poor sales and poor reviews Bad Company called it a day, Atlantic cherry picking songs for the 10 from 6 Best of.   However a few years later the band minus Rodgers and with Brian Howe, begin the second phase of their career.

After Brian Howe left, Robert Hart was lead singer.  Atlantic not ready to give up yet, stuck them on the East West label for two good but not great albums.  Hart, who made a album for Atlantic in the late 80s had a more suited vocal in the style of Paul Rodgers.  By then Rick Wills (Foreigner) replaced Burrell on bass. Company Of Strangers (1995) upon a second listening actually is not bad considering if you put this up alongside the subpar Rough Diamonds and Burnin Sky. Robert Hart does sound like a decent Paul Rodgers sound-alike although a few songs get dangerously close to Brian Howe's showboating. I suppose a B grade is a bit too generous and there might be a bit too many songs but I like it fine and not bad for a Rodgers tribute kind of album.   Stories Told And Untold (1996) sees the band moving out to Nashville to try their luck and revisit some of Rodgers era led songs, Vince Gill and Alison Krauss helped out.   The failure of that album pretty much was the end of Hart era Bad Company, Hart would go on to the Jones Band for one album.

Paul Rodgers stayed busy through these times, making a solo album (Cut Loose) and then joining up with Jimmy Page in The Firm for two albums and then with Kenny Jones of Small Faces/Who fame with The Law.  But after the demise of that band and back into solo work, he did decide to rejoin with the original Bad Company for a 2 CD overview of selected Bad Company hits and misses for Anthology (Elektra 1999) It's a throwaway as you would think, but it's not a greatest hits package, Electricland is missing and so is Gone Gone Gone but the B sides not on the original two albums are here, plus four new songs of varying degree.  Rock And Roll Fantasy-The Very Best Of, might be the best overview, since it does include most, if not all of the singles that Bad Company issued in the Paul Rodgers era. And does have Electricland and Gone Gone Gone on this best of.  It's not a perfect overview, Weep No More still remains a filler song, perhaps adding Little Miss Fortune instead would been a better choice.  It does include the best songs from Rough Diamonds and Burning Sky, perhaps the only ones you need.  A little late to the game but compared to the rest Rock And Roll Fantasy shapes up to be their best overview.

Since then, Bad Company has issued two live albums, Merchants Of Cool in 2002 (with 2 new Paul Rodgers songs of varying degree) and Sony Music put out highlights of 2011 concert on their Extended Versions Live Series (it may have been the Wembley show that Eagle Rock issued earlier). Despite it being sold as bargain bin special, it did managed a surprising 82 chart position on the Billboard Charts.  Rhino did managed to issue 2 live dates from 1977 and 1979 and shows that the original Bad Company could boogie with the best of them, alas the 1977 show features way too many songs from Burning Sky.  The 1979 live document is better. While Rodgers doesn't think much of the Brian Howe or Robert Hart years (he doesn't do any of the songs from that time) he has managed to get back into the band if Mick Ralphs feels up to it although Simon Kirke remains the only member of Bad Company to play on all albums from various lineups. Boz Burrell passed away in 2006.

Despite the shoddiness of their catalog, when Bad Company wrote the right song, they could do no wrong. Even though their stuff is overplayed, there's still a magical charm to Shooting Star or Feel Like Making Love if Paul sang it or even Brian Howe and everybody knows the words to Can't Get Enough.  If you played in a bar band at any time you were get requests for this song or Feel Like Making Love.  And Paul Rodgers still remains one of my favorite all time vocalists ever. That accounts for something. But when I want to hear my favorites of Bad Company, I'm more in line to play Honey Child or Deal With The Preacher and while my classmates wanted to hear Silver Blue And Gold for that earnest ballad, I'm more happier to play Seagull, which speaks for me more.  Your favorite might be a tad bit different.


Grades:

Bad Company (Swan Song 1974) A-
Straight Shooter (Swan Song 1975) B
Run With The Pack (Swan Song 1976) B+
Burnin' Sky (Swan Song 1977)  C+
Desolation Angels (Swan Song 1979) B+
Rough Diamonds (Swan Song 1982) C
10 From 6 (Atlantic 1985) B+
Anthology (Elektra 1999) B
Merchants Of Cool (Sanctuary 2002) B
Extended Versions (Sony Music 2011) B
Rock And Roll Fantasy-The Very Best Of Bad Company (Rhino 2015) B+
Bad Company Live 1977 and 1979 (Swan Song/Rhino 2016) B

The Robert Hart Albums:

Company Of Strangers (East West 1995) B
Stories Told And Untold (East West 1996) B

Selected Paul Rodgers Albums:

Cut Loose (Atlantic 1983) C+
The Firm (Atlantic 1985) B
The Firm Mean Business (Atlantic 1987) B+
The Law (with Kenny Jones) (Atlantic 1991) C
Muddy Waters Blues (Victory 1993) B-
Now (1997) B
Electric (CMC 2000) B
The Cosmos Rocks (with Queen)(Hollywood 2008) B
The Royal Sessions (429 2014) B+