Friday, April 1, 2016

Week In Review: Patty Duke, Easter Jam, Puddle Of Mudd Meltdown

Who died this week?  Patty Duke, the famed teen actress who also played in a few movies and recorded a few singles and albums passed away from sepsis.  She was 67..  James Noble, the lovable governor on Benson died from a stroke.  He was 94.   Will Wes Scatitlin of Puddle Of Mudd fame joining the departed soon?  Yet another meltdown he had on stage, caused the guys in Puddle Of Mudd to say the hell with him and departed the stage. Note the fans booing and somebody yelling Fook You at Wes.

Life hasn't been kind to Wes lately.  Puddle Of Mudd, who's time as come and gone, say about 10 years ago, continues to tour behind the antics of Wes and usually the results have been more miss than hit.  Something about over the hill Nirvana wannabes just doesn't seem to fit the times.  I still like Come Clean, their debut, but anything after that simply isn't worth time nor space to talk about. One thing for certain, Wes and POM will somehow survive and keep limping onward.

Jay Johnson had a very bad day Monday, when his mansion styled house burnt to the ground.  Another mansion type of place in Solon got burned down as well.  Although there doesn't seem to be any connection to the fires, Johnson did post that everybody got out of the house alive and all are accounted for.

Popcorn Jam:  Easter weekend showed yet another big turnout of musicians and drummers playing alongside Tommy Bruner, Terry McDowell and Tim Duffy, with members of Saloonatics, Dunshee Moon and Matt Johnson from Blue Scratch sharing the stage at one time.

I caught the last five songs from Blue Scratch at Mount Vernon Saturday Night while washing  the car and the band was top shape.  Julie Gordon, subbing for the original female singer did a excellent job and it must have been a good night since they ended it with a version of Tush.  Julie And The Mad Dogs play this weekend at Anamosa on her birthday and I plan to document the happenings.  Wednesday Night, The AcoustaKitties celebrated Julie's 50th birthday earlier at Checker's Tavern acoustic jam.  Most of the top musicians were there, including Tiffany  Z. of Motorboat fame on her farewell to Iowa tour this week. 

Derek Sivers, used to be head of CD Baby, but has been on his own and keeps busy at his website.  He writes to me from time to time so I thought I help spread the word at his website:

At least I'm not the only one when it comes to collecting records, Henry Rollins shares the same views as me.

Teaching the world of rock and roots guitar, learn from a legend.

An EXCEL CLASS, for advanced students
June 20-24 11:00am-12:00pm
Instructor: Brook Hoover
Fee: $75

Join us as we study the foundation of rock n roll with professional musician and guitar teacher Brook Hoover. Class will start with basic blues, rock and surf riffs. Important chord shapes will follow and then be arranged into standard types of chord progressions. Includes lead guitar and improvising concepts that are easy and work over most popular styles. Emphasis on blues, surf & rockabilly. Space is limited so please call to RSVP 319-350-1805

Oh, Sam the fisherwoman bought her sister along for the ride too.


Homer And Jethro-Live At Vanderbilt U (RCA 1968)

After the dismal Any News From Nashville, the guys decided to go live on their next album and things were a lot better this time.  Of course it helps when Jerry Reed plays guitar as well.  But it is Kenneth "Jethro" Burns' mandolin work that is the price of admission.  Burn's is one of the best mandolin players that Nashville ever had, despite Homer And Jethro being song satirists.  Plenty of standup comedy between songs especially There's An Empty Hanger In My Closet Tonight and She Was Bitten On The Udder By An Adder, and The Great Society is a dig at the Vietnam war for sure.  Granted Live At The Country Club is their classic live moment in the sun, but the Vanderbilt U live date has plenty of good singing and good playing.
Grade B+

Laugh In 69  (Reprise 1969)

Continuing the comedy vibe, if you were around in the late 60s, chances are you did watch Rowan's and Martin's Laugh-In.  And the original show with it's lightning fast skits and jokes set the template of what comedy would be later on with the likes of Second City and of course Saturday Night Live.  Epic issued the first Laugh In LP and Collectibles did put that out on CD, but as far as I know Laugh-In 69 has never seen the light of day on CD.  The omission of Rowan  and Martin does taint the followup, but the regular cast is all there and Goldie Hawn, being the ultimate dingbat still remains more funnier than Sarah Palin serious (her and Bristol Palin makes Goldie sound like Elizabeth Warren nowadays).   And Artie Johnson (God bless him) makes it all verrry interesing. Still a stellar cast like Judy Carne (RIP), Ruth Buzzi, Joanne Worley, Harry Gibson, Dave Madden, Alan Stines and special guest star Connie Stevens, plus Gary Owens' voiceover does make me yearn for those old days once again.   Of course Laugh-In is better seen than heard (in it's original format-The DVDs have been truncated and due to music license restrictions the music and bands that played on Laugh-In have been omitted), but since Rhino or George Schlatter can't seem to duplicate the feeling on the DVDs, I'm basically resigned to this album if I want to live the days of you bet your sweet bippie or Sock It To Me, Laugh-In 69 will have to do.  Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls.

Grade B

Eddie Fisher And The Next 100 Years (Cadet/Verve 1970)

Not to be confused with the pop standards singer, Fisher was a jazz funk guitarist that recorded this one album for Cadet/Chess Records in 1970.  Although Fisher was part of the Memphis soul and blues with Solomon Burke and Albert King, this is St. Louis funk jazz and it would be the only album Eddie recorded for Chess/Cadet.  The CD remastering is subpar, the bass player is hardly heard and the drummer is over in the right speaker tripping over his beats but Fisher does provide some funky wah wah riffs on East St Louis Blues which really does give a feeling one being in that part of town and Jeremiah Pucket the opening track.  Equal parts, Shaggy Otis, and Good King Bad George Benson, Fisher should have been better known.  But alas, Chess Records was in bad shape and this record got no airplay whatsoever. Somehow Verve/Universal had enough requests to reissue this and in 2006 they did.  Only misstep was the avant garde cellos and violins that start and end on Beautiful Things but once Eddie hits the tunes, it gets a bit funky.  A minor, damn near forgotten funk fusion classic.
Grade A-

Christopher Cross-Every Turn Of The World  (Warner Brothers 1985)

Funny how five years ago Cross was the toast of the music world with a Grammy winning debut album and four top 30 songs, and then by album number 3 he couldn't get arrested.  Course it didn't help if this album sounded very dated.  The title track and most of side 1 is actually quite good and it does rock in spots (I Hear You Call and That Girl-close to power pop as Cross would ever get).  In Love Is Love, he becomes Kenny Loggins.  That didn't help his cause.
Grade C+

P.F. Sloan-Here's Where I Belong (Best Of The Dunhill Years) (Ace/Big Beat UK 2008)

Due to time restrictions, two songs were left off his second album Twelve More Times but this was Phil's tenure at Dunhill, which made him a shooting star on Eve Of Destruction and then crashed.  The story goes that Lou Alder gave Phil a copy of Bringing It All Home from Bob Dylan and Sloan took it home and listened to it for a week and came up with his own songs.  Certainly he borrows a lot from Dylan and it shows all the way down to tuneless harmonica.  The major difference was that Sloan had better luck getting people to sing his songs better than he did.  Not that he wasn't trying, but perhaps he was trying too hard. His first album Songs For Our Times is basically him with guitar, and it comes off like Dylan's... The Freewheelin more so than Bringing It Back Home.  Take Me For What I'm Worth, comes off better for The Searchers though.  Whatever the case may be Sloan sounds a bit too serious. 12 More Times, enlists the Wrecking Crew on a few tracks and they do help a bit more but for a curio piece Here's Where I Belong is a non essential but a good overview of what Sloan could do.  If nothing else Eve Of Destruction still holds up 50 years after the fact but I always had a soft spot for What's Exactly The Matter With Me, which Barry McGuire did as a B side to Eve. As for the singles that didn't make it to the album, City Women is one of Sloan's best songs and might have been a hit had Dunhill gave any interest to which they didn't.  I still think Child Of Our Times, The Trousdale Demos that Varase put out years ago is the one to get,  Phil is a bit more loosen up so to speak.  Or You Baby, to which Ace UK complied the best cover versions of Sloan's songs. Phil could never top The Turtles' Let Me Be
Grade B-

Albums of my youth: Rush 2112  (Mercury 1976)

My introduction to this Canadian trio.  Beaker Street played the Overture which got me to buy the LP. In reality, it took me forever to warm up to these guys, who started out somewhat like Budgie till John Rutsey left and a Keith Moon soundalike and a guy that liked science fiction named Neil Peart replaced him, and the band became something different. Years of being the most copied drummer, took a major toll on Neil,  but this album Rush needed to keep on Mercury and it worked big time. Out of all the concept albums, 2112 still works the best, Peart's futuristic visions have now rang true to this day and age.  Reminds me of new bands trying to get their music on I Heart Radio and only to have them turned away but that's not how the album really goes.  Credit goes to Terry Brown who gave this album a polish and elegant mix but when I heard this on 8 track it was damn near perfect. Alas the original CD version wasn't so much great till the second attempt came though.  For science fiction rock and roll, 2112 wasn't the first (Remember The Future by Nektar and Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull preceded before 2112) but at 20 minutes it remains their epic song.  Of course, it's Geddy Lee's  vocals that turned many people away, mid range he's fine, but when he goes HIGH on helium that shriek ID's him.  I have come to find myself tolerating it more now than back then and it's hard to believe it was 40 years ago April 1 2112 came out.  Side 2, only Tears is considered the filler track but it's not that bad, it actually has Geddy Lee actually not screeching through it.  While folks go for Passage To Bangkok or Something For Nothing, my favorite track is Lessons written by Alex Lifeson, one of the last songs that Peart didn't write the lyrics for.    Knowing Peart, the Ayn Rand may have been tongue in cheek, Peart has always shown a dry sense of humor, but in today's world the Priests of Syrinx are I Heart Radio (or maybe even the Republican party) and when the hero dies, the people rebelled and take over once.  Rebellion so to speak.  Peart has mentioned that the album really does have a happy ending and who knows, maybe in 2112 or even sooner the repressed will take over once again.  It does good sound in theory.   While Rush might have classic albums (Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves), 2112 is my vote for their all time best.  Simply of the fact that Rush got their prog rock act together and became a live force to be reckon with for the next 4 decades.
Grade A

Mark Prindle finally relents and reviews Billy Joel:

Latest news:  Bob Lefsetz has been tapped to be the new A and R head at Universal Mercury.  Bob has announced he's signed up Kim Kadashian to her own service label (Big Booty Belch)  and she will have a new album out by June, with Dr. Luke producing and with cameos by Guns and Roses, Kendrick Lamar and Luke Bryan, with beats arranged by Kanye West.  It will be called Number 1. Lefsetz announced that  Kim's new album will be only available on vinyl LP.   And will be heard on Spotify. She will be the opening act for AC/DC and the core band of Guns And Roses.   Rock and roll is back and better than ever.

Yeah, I know, it's a bad April Fool joke even it's not true.   Enjoy the day.

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