Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Week In Review: Grammy 2016, The Fossiltones, Vanity

The 2016 Grammys(Whatever TM) are now in the books and Taylor Swift won album of the year with 1989, Kendrick Lamar took home 5.  And critics faves Alabama Shakes won 4. The awards that mattered most was Buddy Guy winning blues album of the year with Born To Play Guitar and Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell taking two awards home for their albums. Girl Crush by Little Big Town also won two awards for best country and country duets.  In some ways the awards mirrored the victories that Stapleton and Little Big Town won for the CMA's last fall.  The Eagles paid tribute to Glenn Frey with Take It Easy with Bernie Leadon playing the lead and Jackson Browne singing the song.  Lady Gaga did a nice Bowie tribute and the Hollywood Vampires gave Lemmy a sendoff with a riotous cover of Ace Of Spades.  The list of winners are found here:


And if you read this far, Bob Lefsetz, in repeat mode delivers this:

In the long run, while Little Big Town's Girl Crush won country single of the year, Joey + Rory's If I Needed You might be the song that outlast Girl Crush for sentimental value. Joey Feek's strong will to continue to live has been one shining light in the year already full of musicians dead or dying.  If anything Joey had managed to live to see the Grammys and see their new album released on the 12th and she made it to Valentine's Day.

Somewhere along the way, Vanity, who best known for her early 80s hits and starring on Purple Rain passed away at age 57, Kidney Failure was the cause.  Years of drug abuse and crack additions didn't help but she eventually conquered those demons and turned her life around, singing gospel music for the Lord before the Lord called her home.

In search of a song: The Fall's Hit The North:

I managed to take in seeing two bands Friday Night, Toxic Blonde played at Cedar River Landing, and The Fossiltones, at Rumors.  Led by Dawn Sedlacek aka Riot Dawn, Willie Wells, the ever busy Terry McDowell and Troy Harper, Toxic Blonde played through a scathing set list of Ozzy Osborne, and Harper is one of the best multi players out there, he can play either guitar, drums or bass and be damn near perfect, especially on the the RHCP's version of Higher Ground. Terry McDowell has been extremely busy of late, working through four bands and playing Toxic Blond Friday Night, Flex the next night and still made it as host drummer for the Sunday jam session at Rumors.  The Fossiltones, led by Joe Hutchcroft was more classic rock 60s, and pulling out a few interesting tricks, Summertime Blues (The Rush version), Baby Please Don't Go (the AC/DC version) and Rockin In The Free World.  As advertised, they are Old Guys That Do Rock.  No arguments from this side of the fence.

Another weekend and this walking flu crap still remains and made going to Iowa City a coughing hell, no matter how much cold meds I took or drinks I had.  It didn't help when buying a Blue Oyster Cult CD and getting home and finding that the wrong cd was in the jewel case.  Somebody wasn't doing their job it seems, I don't think Kirk would have accepted that one.  I finally returned the borrowed CD back to Sweet Living Antiques and ended buying a couple records in the process.  But I should have stayed home since I was still feeling miserable from the GD walking flu.

Sunday was the Valentine's Day Rumors Jam and a better than expected turnout was there.  The Acoustic Kitties hosted the show but also special guest stars were In The Attic once again and Blue Scratch, where all the band members were there, including Julie Gordon, taking over for Cate Becker, who is  on leave.  A more detailed report of that show can be found here:
Mike Love is not well liked and with good reason.  He comes off as a pompous asshole who wants to have all the attention to himself.  When he tours as part of The Beach Boys, it's only him with his hand picked crew.  When what's left of the original boys got back together for a 50th anniversary tour, Love pretty much fired them all after that was over and gone.  And being Mr. Conservative hasn't done him any favors either.  Rolling Stone dishes the dirt or tries to build up Love's ego on this interesting story. 

Last year, Popeye's opened to great acclaim and many weeks of full parking and a waiting time of a half hour to get waited upon.  Since then a new Popeye's has opened on the SW side on Edgewood Road and F Ave, unlike last year, the place has been very quiet and not having the line of cars waiting to get their tea and chicken.  The novelty has worn off it seems.

Half Priced Books closed for a couple days to rearrange the CD and LP section and add the VHS alongside.  In some ways this new and improved actually isn't new and improved, this looks like most of the HPB stores that crams the dollar LP section into one big bottom layer on the record section and the 45s are tossed in in a smaller spot.  Basically, it has been slim pickings even with this new look, and doesn't bode well in the two dollar bins, but the clerk assured me that they'll spend some time off and put the names in ABC order. I don't like the new look but what can you do?  Plus they ripped up the carpet.  The guess is that new carpeting will be on order.  After all, the carpet has been the original ever since they opened up in Marion 10 plus years ago.

I think it is safe to say that gas prices have finally reached bottom at a 1.32 a gallon, it soon will be spring which means everything will be going back up to 2 dollars a gallon and more.  I don't envision a dollar a gallon anymore in this life, too many greedy bastards and OPEC won't allow that.  But for now, it's nice to have a full tank under 20 dollars for that rare occasion.

And the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival returns back to Davenport at LeClaire Park this year after taking 2015 off due to financial concerns.  The shows will take play July 1 and 2.  Rain or shine.

Are the Iowa Hawkeyes running out of gas?  They played so so enough to beat a winless Minnesota team at home by four points and then went up to College Station to have Penn State kicked their ass 79-75 in a game which made you think it was closer as the score indicated. It wasn't.  Iowa turned the ball over 13 times, couldn't get bench help in scoring and continues to miss free throws when they need the points.  Only 6,500 Penn State fans were in attendance, to which they all stormed the basketball court after they won the game.   The lackadaisical performance of Iowa in the past three games is beginning to look like last year when they ran out of gas at this point and flopped in the tourneys.  With four games left in the regular season, Wisconsin comes to town with away game at Ohio State, a home game with Indiana and up to Ann Arbor with Michigan to conclude the regular season.  All four remaining games are not cupcakes, Wisconsin has won 7 straight, Ohio State is always tough at home and Indiana is tough anywhere, ditto Michigan.  Whatever the case, the wheels are beginning to fall off and perhaps a week off might help the Hawks refocus.  Spending extra time at the free throw line working on getting the ball through the rim might help too.

Here's a milestone.  Jim Brown turned 80 years old today.  Perhaps the best NFL running back of all time, Jim retired at the top of his game to get into movies.  Even at age 80, Jim Brown still looks like he can gain 1,000 yards.  The man is unstoppable.  Happy Birthday Jim!

Your dream girl: Ashley Graham.
(Photo: S.I.) 

In a era of skin and bones Ashley Graham managed to grab the Sports Illustrated cover of being one of the plus size models to grace the cover.  And I say that's all right by me. 
A collection of Reviews:

Peter Paul And Mary (Moving)  (Warner Brothers 1962)

Much beloved by the faithful, Peter Paul and Mary jumped on the folk music boom of the early 60s but unlike The Chad Mitchell Trio which sounds dated now, their music still sounds fresh at times.  While their second album didn't have the big hit like If I Had A Hammer or Lemon Tree and had a darker tone to it, it's still sound fabulous to me.  The sad undertone of Puff The Magic Dragon, the 60s version of Cat's In The Cradle about imaginary dragons I can relate to, growing up I didn't have many friends so I made plenty up in my mind but anyway.   Nevertheless, this album has my all time favorite PPM song, which is not Puff The Magic Dragon but rather Big Boat, a failed single that I did find a excellent copy for a quarter at the downtown Salvation Army.   And should have been included on their best of.  In the CD era, Peter Yarrow and Warner staff producer/engineer Lee Herschberg managed to make the CD sound even better than it originally came out on LP.  The recording is damn near perfect.  The songs, well they do vary, after all, it was the folk era, and there's was plenty of subpar folk songs out there too.   Fortunately  Peter Paul and Mary managed not to do too many of them back then.
Grade B+

Pousette-Dart Band-Amnesia  (Capitol 1977)

Richard Thompson must have loved this album so much that he would name his album a decade later Amnesia.  Just kidding of course.  Jon Pousette-Dart and company was a soft rock band that made a couple albums for Capitol, this one was probably their best known and best selling but the reviews were so so.  Bland country rock it was called and maybe they had a point.  The title track has a melody that could rival Poco or Pure Prairie League and Norbert Putnam who did produce the latter band gives it a nice laid back country sound.  Side 1 had the better stuff, Fall On Me managed to be heard on the ABC show Lost and Country Line has that peaceful easy feeling of light country rock.  Side 2 takes a bit more effort to stay awake, they really didn't have it them to rock out.  The sounds of easy listening late 70s.  Harmless, somewhat listenable.

Grade B

Yes-Big Generator (Atco 1987)

As much maligned as they were, the 80s version of Yes, I actually liked a lot, 90125 showed they could do pop rock with a progressive twist (Changes, It Can Happen) but Owner Of A Lonely Heart got played to death and nowadays is a channel changer.  The long awaited followup, works for side 1 and Love Will Find A Way, their  most power pop attempt ever but Final Eyes falls flat and Holy Lamb may have been left off the CD.  Almost Like Love they could have rival OMD or ABC for dance pop. The only true rocker Rhythm Of Love did nothing on the top forty charts and the title track shows a bit of funk.  My favorite two songs are the aforementioned Love Will Find A Way despite some of most cringe worthy of lyrics, with the line I eat at Chineu or whatever the hell it's called the major fart.  And the dark Shoot High Aim Low, featuring a cool Trevor Rabin acoustic lead.   Despite the two turds on side 2, it's not a total washout, but 90125 wins out on consistency and inspiration. By then Yes was going through the motions of coming up with 90125 part 2 and the tossed off line of Love Will Find A Way doomed it from being Owner Of A Lonely Heart part 2.  Things would get more chaotic with Union and Talk before Rabin opted out. The LP version seems to have a better bass mix whereas the CD version of Generator the bass was polished clean off the mix. Still a minor classic in my book.
Grade B+

Warren Zevon-Semtinental  Hygiene (Virgin 1987)

For the late Warren Z, his comeback album of 1987 was unexpected. Asylum gave him the boot after 5 albums and a best of, and he was paired up with the guys from REM, with Mike Stripe only on Bad Karma, and plate of all stars helping out.  Neil Young, Bob Dylan, the guys from the Eagles, Jorge Calderon, even George P Funk Clinton on the dance ditty Leave My Monkey Alone.  The title track should have been a hit and if there was a perfect world would sit side by side with Werewolves Of London, including mad Neil Young guitar.  In terms of sarcastic songwriter, Zevon updates things on Detox Mansion, Trouble Waiting To Happen and The Factory. Or the classic Even A Dog Can Shake Hands, done with Mike, Bill and Peter.  No wonder they ended up doing more jamming on cover songs and call it Hindu Love Gods. Next to that band of unknowns that backed him on on the live Stand In The Fire, REM was the 2nd best band for Warren Z.
Grade A-

Ornette Coleman-Ornette On Tenor (Atlantic 1962)

In other words, Free Jazz becomes Anti Jazz in five songs.  But this time out Jimmy Garrison and Ed Blackwell are the rhythm section, and for free jazz Garrison is perhaps the best bass player ever, he would later help shape up the classic lineup of John Coltrane.  Blackwell is a bit more expressive than Billy Higgins, but not as explosive as Elvin Jones.   The key track is Cross Breeding, to which starts out just like Free Jazz, but stops in favor of a extended Coleman blowout on tenor saxophone.   The improvisation (I wouldn't say the song) is shorter than Free Jazz although Free Jazz is more unified. The problem of free jazz is that the listener is forced to seek out each member of the band playing of what they're feeling at the time and for many casual listeners it will come out as white noise and notes all over the place but pick and choose what's Ornette is doing, or Don Cherry is doing and you might walk away impressed.  On the lesser songs on side 2 Eos, and Ecars I found myself more into what Jimmy Garrison was doing on the bass and how he was holding the songs more together. Or how Ed Blackwell was throwing drum rolls around Garrison while Coleman and Cherry duked it out. Compare this to Free Jazz or This Is Our Music and it falls short. But even with the shortcomings On Tenor is unlike anything else in jazz at that time and does have moments of pleasure and intense exchanges between Coleman and Cherry.  But not quite enough to call it a classic though.
Grade B+

Album of my youth: Humble Pie-On To Victory (Atco 1980)

As much as Steve Marriott was loved and worshipped, Humble Pie started out as a meeting between Steve and Peter Frampton, fresh from his time with The Herd who recorded a couple singles and albums on Fontana.  As Safe As Yesterday Is was a fine debut but put on Andrew Oldham's Immediate label, which was falling apart, but nevertheless it was a fine combination of blues, rock and folk.  I tend to favor the acoustic Growing Closer on the UK version rather than Natural Born Bugie which A&M tacked on when they issued it, along with Town and Country on the Lost And Found 2 fer.  By the time they got to A&M, Marriott was starting to throw more boogie blues into the music and after their shining moment of Rocking The Fillmore with the 12 minute jam a thon that was I Don't Need No Doctor, Frampton left for a solo career and Clem Clempson took his place. Smokin gave us Hot And Nasty and 30 Days In The Hole, and the success of Smokin' showed The Pie going more toward R and B soul, with mixed results.  The final album Street Rats on A&M was a clusterf**k, despite a cool cover of Terry Reid's Let Me Be Your Lovemaker, Marriott thought doing musak covers of The Beatles Rain and Drive My Car would be the way to go, and the record did go...into the cut out bins amid poor reviews, so they broke up.

Five years later, Marriott reformed The Pie with Jerry Shirley and they added Bobby Tench (Jeff Beck Group) and Anthony 'Snooty' Jones to replace Greg Ridley and Atlantic signed them to their Atco branch for two albums.  It actually starts out great with failed hit single Fool For A Pretty Face and a nice cover of Baby Don't You Do It.  But the problem was, Steve Marriott's voice was shot all the hell after years of screaming and Johnny Wright added a very boxy mix.  The tuneless Further Down The Road, is painful to hear Marriott try to scream out those words and in the process made Tom Waits sound more tuneful.  It didn't help that Marriott chose a cover of Otis Redding's My Lover's Prayer and couldn't sing that one either.  He did better on Over You which seemed to fit in his limited vocal range.

Some of my favorite songs off this album is You Soppy Pratt aka You Can't Do That and Get It In The End, both wouldn't make any best of collection but the song benefits from some soul sister backing and Jerry Shirley's expressive drumming.  Infatuation might have been picked for a second 45 had Fool For A Pretty Face charted higher than it's number 58 placing.    Bobby Tench, didn't offer much either, he contributed the sloppy reggae Savin It that ends side one.  And it's not worth mentioning either.

The initial grade to this album was a C plus.  It was better than Street Rats but not by much.  It's interesting to know that Humble Pie always had a great run at covers and Baby Don't You Do It is no exception.  But the sad fact remains that even in 1980  Humble Pie's time have come and gone.  They soldiered on for 1981's Go For The Throat, which has better production from Gary Lyons but they had to rely on covers of All Shook Up and even the Small Faces' Tin Soldier.  The surprise was that Atco/Atlantic thought enough to reissued them in a halfassed way on CD in the early 90s and I brought both of them to replaced a scratched copy of On To Victory.  You can live without both albums as well, without Peter Frampton or Greg Ridley, Humble Pie relied way too much on covers and half baked boogie songs.   Given that, Fool For A Pretty Face remains a closet classic.  Collectibles issued both albums as a 2 on 1 CD.  In this day and age, I still cannot recommend On To Victory as a must hear, but since I associated myself with off the wall music it has grown on me to raise the grade from a C plus to a B minus and that still might be a bit too generous to give a grade to. Whatever the case, On To Victory was a last gasp for the remaining few faithful who supported the efforts of The Pie.  Even Universal didn't think adding Fool For A Pretty Face was worth putting on their Humble Pie best ofs. I disagree, it was a much better song than the awful Rain.

Grade B-

Townedger Radio: Repeat of radio show number 11 (2/18/16)


Litany (Life Goes On)-Guadalcanal Diary
Dance With The Devil-Cozy Powell
Let There Be Drums-Sandy Nelson
I Can't See You-Tim Buckley
Another Bubble-Robyn Hitchcock
Buckeye-Johnny And The Hurricanes
Boogie-John Hartford
Hope-Mason Profit
I Know About Me (Don't Know About You) The Townedgers
Pussy Pussy Pussy-Light Crust Dough Boys
Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night-The Turtles
Ain't It Amazing Gracie-Buck Owens
Call On Me-Bread
Morning Song-Compost
Sick Of Me-Descendants
Real World-Mighty Lemon Drops
Something's Telling Me-BoDeans
Black Metallic-Catherine Wheel

Late news: the 2016 inductees to the Blues Hall Of Fame in Memphis this year.

Elvin Bishop, John Mayall, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson and the Memphis Jug Band have been named as this year's inductees into the Blues Hall Of Fame.

They'll be recognized at a ceremony in Memphis, Tennessee on May 4 - the night before the 37th annual Blues Music Awards. The artists were voted in by a panel of "blues scholars and industry veterans." The Hall Of Fame say: "Each of these musicians has carved his place in blues history. 

"Bishop's beginnings with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to his more recent recognition for the 2015 Blues Music Awards Song of the Year have elevated him to the highest stature in blues music.

"Clearwater, Johnson, and Mayall each boast careers that have spanned more than a half century, and their talent has not waned as they each continue to produce music and to perform for devoted audiences. The Memphis Jug Band's music crossed the racial divides of the first half of the twentieth century and inspired many musicians to follow in their footsteps."

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