Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Week In Review: Wiley Kats, Jason Christensen, UNI Meltdown

The Popcorn Jam at Rumors this Sunday featured the long awaited debut of the Wiley Kats, a new power trio featuring Ben Benton on bass, Tim Wiley on guitar and vocals and R.S.Crabb playing drums.  Kinda hard to believe that this all took place within a week and two rehearsals.  Wiley has been a guitar picker on the Cedar Rapids music scene, Benton played in various heavy metal bands and the drummer, who spent 3 plus decades in The Townedgers  looking for something different to do.

Despite some rough spots  the band tore through a angry version of Voodoo Chile and Jailbreak before doing one blues instrumental with Tim Duffy popping up back on guest guitar.  After three songs that was it for the drummer but Wiley managed to play Help The Poor with Duffy doing the vocals.   Needless to say, the crowd was receptive and gave a hearty applause after Voodoo Chile and Jailbreak.  While the future is uncertain for the Wiley Kats, (the drummer works evenings and tends to focus his attention to record collecting and this blog), chances are if arrangements can be worked out and if everybody gets along together, you might be hearing more of this band in the near future. The future is also unwritten.

But the popcorn jam featured the return of Jason Christensen, who played in Scarlet Runner for a few years before trying his luck in Nashville/Memphis and returned home.  Christensen can play SRV or Eric Clapton just about note for note and he wailed away on The Killing Floor  and Tore Down.  Also this jam featured for the first time in two months Bart Carfizzi, taking a break in between concerts with the Past Masters.  Tim Duffy will return for next week's Easter edition of the Popcorn Jam and the Saloonatics coming back the week after. Look for more surprises.  Some of the highlights come from Kevin who continues to post the highlights via You Tube. Special props to Terry McDowell for laying down the beat. He's one of the best drummers in town. These highlights prove it.

The world keeps getting dumb and dumber.  Sarah (no brain) Palin is going to do a reality TV show with her being a Judge!  Yeah you read that right.  A Montana based production company to do a Court room show with Dingy Doo as judge and if enough people like it, it might be syndicated.  Time to KILL YOUR TELEVISION.

The unthinkable has happen Sunday.  Northern Iowa had a 12 point lead on Texas A&M and seemingly had the game out of reach before A&M took advantage of turnovers and half assed defense and even a bullshit referee foul to tie the game and eventually won 92-88 in double OT, by then the UNI scorers fouled out and A&M prevailed.  This loss really hurts for UNI since they had the game won at hand, unlike Iowa getting blown out of Brooklyn by Villanova by 19 and never was in the game.  Somehow the Panthers went in to panic mode and simply collapsed. With the exception of Iowa State in the Sweet 16, all other Iowa teams are done for the year.  Of course, it's hard to even imagine anybody blow a 12 point lead with 44 seconds left in the game, but Northern Iowa gets the hard knocks of forever having that distinction of blowing a 12 point lead in basketball, pro or college.  To which Lebum James saying that UNI should just quit altogether.  This comes from somebody who had to go to Miami and have a couple other guys help him win a championship. James hasn't exactly wowed the crowd with his own version of meltdown in previous playoff games. It didn't help Northern Iowa lost their guy to inbound the ball due to fouling out.  And they went into panic mode. And eventually would lose in two overtimes. I don't need to post the You Tube link of their meltdown, you can find it on your own.

The big rumor is AC/DC is getting Axel Rose to replace Brian Johnson on vocals on certain dates, despite Rose getting back together with Slash and Duff in Guns And Roses. Even for rumors I find that far fetched.  Brian Johnson was told to quit or risk losing more hearing (didn't he bother to use ear plugs?) and more rumors circulated that Johnson was kicked to the curb.  Hard to say but I'm sure AC/DC will find a old rock veteran with street cred to continue their cash cow concert tour, although there's plenty of AC DC Tribute bands that have vocalists that could sound like a Brian Johnson or Bon Scott (and come cheaper than Ethel Merman Rose).

Barry Manilow plays here in April at the Paramount and he is donating a new piano to the Cedar Rapids School District in hopes of getting people to actually play a real instrument. The grumblings I heard is that the district will put a gold plague thingy on it saying "donated by Barry Manilow, do not touch" and that may be so.  But why is it the kindness of famous musicians usually become "look what Barry donated to us to music alive and teach kids how to play music but do not touch".  The object is to get people to play music, not show off expensive artifacts from famous musicians. But I do think that's nice of Barry to do such a gesture.

The Review Consortium has a feature on Fred Neil and his albums:

Rory Feek's latest: 

Somebody donated a bunch of comedy albums at Stuff Etc, and I managed to pick up a few, couple of Homer and Jethro, Burns & Schriber and Laugh In 69.  And I managed to pick up a couple DVDs of Perry Mason's last season 1965-1966.  That will keep me busy watching something besides Dip Shit Palin, Attempted Judge (Jerry! Jerry!)

Sadly Sarah Palin keeps living. But a few more passed away this week including Ken Howard (The White Knight) and Joe Garagolia (I know I spelled it wrong) Sr.  Joe G played for the St Louis Cardinals and for a brief spell The Chicago Cubs and couple others but he's been known for broadcasting the baseball games of the week for NBC in the 70s.  Next to Curt Gowdy one of my all time favorite baseball announcers ever.  He was 90.  Garry Shandling passed away at age 66 from a heart attack, he was famous for The Larry Sanders Show.  And finally James Jamerson Jr, son of famed bass player James Senior also died, he was 58.  James Jr also played bass and for the last few years kept the Motown spirit alive with his music, most notably the Standing In The Shadows Of Motown shows.

Pointless banter:  It was 30 years ago that Todd Rundgren produced what some called the best XTC album ever Skylarking, I tend to disagree.  Social media brought up a war of words, taken out of context since social media likes to pick fights and supposedly somebody egged Todd on to call Andy Partridge a few choice names, to which Partridge flared back with a war of words, while acknowledging Todd did shape Skylarking into a decent record.  The song at hand was Dear God, one of my least liked XTC songs.  A song that almost didn't make the list due to album timing issues but once the CD came about, no problem adding it.  It kinda reminds me of when Brian Mullahan produced The Bums' Newfoundland Days and the band calling Mullahan a tyrant behind the boards. Everybody knows that Todd can be prickly when it comes to working with him, as well as Partridge who can be a very thin skinned, but Todd's production work did bring massive hits to Grand Funk Railroad and made The New York Dolls sound cool, as well as The Pursuit Of Happiness.  In reality, Skylarking got XTC in the limelight just by name association.  It may have hurt XTC by being mainstream that the next album Apples And Oranges wasn't as good despite The Mayor Of Simpleton being one of XTC's best moments. Skylarking earns it kudos but for myself I like Black Sea or English Settlement more, and Dear God is the all time ultimate XTC song, so I find myself agreeing with Partridge on that argument.  But it is obvious that XTC is done and anything with Todd Rundgren only amounts to social media trying to piss off a grumpy old art pop rocker and it worked.

Pointless banter 2: Michele Bachmann every-time she opens her mouth.    

Enough of the dingbats, let's us enjoy the beauty of Ashley Alexiss (with Joshua Paull taking the photo) to chase away the koo koo for coca puffs minds of Bachmann and Palin.

Record Reviews.  There are few.

William R. Strickland-Is Only The Name (Deram 1969)

One of the most strange progressive folk albums out there if there's any a term, Strickland's only album was reissued via Cherry Red, the UK company that specializes in weird and off the wall albums.  This record will fucking will try your patience, Strickland coming across like a schizo Tim Buckley (You Can Know My Body (but you'll never know my soul) or Nick Drake on K2 (If I Stand Here Much Longer).  And I damn near threw this CD out the window when the porn folk of Touch came on, I'm not interested of hearing Strickland getting his rocks off while a flute is playing in the background. What saves this record from the overrated as hell file is World War 3, (imagine Arlo Guthrie going to Vietnam instead of getting out of it during Alice's Restaurant) which is Strickland's 11:20 minutes of fame, it's a classic.  And Computer Lover supposedly influenced Keith Emerson on Karn Evil 9 segment of Brain Salad Surgery.   I should not reserve harsh judgement on Is Only The Name, especially when World War Three saves this from the return box at the thrift store.  But for now, it remains a C plus album.  (side note: Strickland did tour in 2010 and 2011 opening for Bill Cosby of all people but his website has been taken down and his FB page has been dormant for 5 years).
(side note 2-The Best Song World War 3 is at the end, it's not a standalone song at you tube, you'll have to fast forward to around 29 minutes to hear this song.  The rest of the stuff, good luck sitting through all of it).

Crossroads To Cowtown (Fantastic Voyage 2011)

A various artists of Hillbilly and cowboy boogie of the early 1950s overview.  I've seen a few of Fantastic Voyage albums for 6 dollars at Half Priced Books and it appears that Fantastic Voyage is trying to be the Rhino Records of this decade.  No shortage of fun stuff, Leon McAuliffe leads off with his rare single Take It Away Leon, and Tennessee Ernie Ford really is more than How Great Thou Are gospel as evidenced by Kiss Me Big.  Hank Penny does his own version of Wynonie Harris' Bloodshot Eyes and even latter day Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys Cadillac In Model "A" is still vintage Bob Wills, the guy still had it, when he went over to MGM.  Plenty of females had spice, especially Rose Maddox' Stop Whistlin Wolf and Rosalie Allen It'd Surprise You.   Not a surprise: the majority of songs are lead with a steel guitar, which was boss back in the early 50s and gave hillbilly country it's distinctive sound.  In this day and age, this type of music is more of a historical curio rather than essential, but if you're tired of hearing bro country bullshit and want to hear the real hillbilly side of country, Crossroads to Cowtown is a good place to start.
Grade A-

Supergrass-I Should Coco  (Capitol 1995)

Where does the time go?  I can't fathom how 21 years have passed since this trio from England stumbled upon the alternative music scene and scored a nice hit with Alright and Caught By The Fuzz, but these guys were more into glam rock than Green Day.  Led by Gaz Coomes they tear through 13 glam rockers and the occasional trip into Psychedelia on the 6 minute Sofa (of my lethargy).  The goofy cover art gives the impression that they are punk. The music reveals Supergrass was one of the best Britpop bands at that time, and compared to the likes of Blur or Oasis damn near forgotten.  As far as I know they never made a bad album.  This is considered their best.  That's debatable.
Grade A-

Pinkard & Bowden-Gettin' Stupid  (Cornerstone/Warner Special Products 1993)

The 80's version of Homer And Jethro, this duo squandered many of Warner Brothers dollars to make slightly humorous albums.  Mostly hit and miss but once in a while could remake a song to make it sound funny (Drivin My Wife Away, Mama She's Lazy).  Like most 80s country recordings, the cold sounding digital drums date the project.  In today's world of babes, tan lines and pick up trucks to rap beats, I rather much hear the unpolitical correctness of I'm Going To Beat The Cheat Out Of You over Baby You A Song anyday;  in today's country music world, the music is so damn bad that Pinkard $ Bowden couldn't do a parody on Locash or FGL if they wanted to, today's country parodies itself. Look at it this way, Locash is the Michele Bachmann to FGL's Sarah Palin.  But overall, Homer And Jethro were the best at country parody in their heyday, P&B held their own.  Sometimes their humor didn't translate very well on record, (Harvard A.K.A comes to mind) and I Lobster But Never Flounder really takes fish jokes past their expiration date but it's harmless and silly fun.  They do Homer and Jethro (or even Confederate Railroad)  proud on the trailer trash songs (Satellite Dish, Trailer Park Queen) and if anybody drives down the four lane highway tells the truth on bad drivers in the passing lane in Blue Hairs Driving In My Lane, complete with imitation Willie Nelson guitar leads.
Grade B

Homer And Jethro-Any News From Nashville?  (RCA  1966)

Speaking of which, this was a latter day album from Homer And Jethro and it pains me to say this is a disappointment.  It starts out fine with a revamp of Act Naturally and The Folk Singer's Song which they try to peddle songs to Perry Como and Eddy Arnold and get turned down.  Side 2 seems to be a song cycle of the ups and downs of Nashville today (being 1966 mind you) from the mind and pens of Homer And Jethro. Which shows that Homer And Jethro were better at covering and parodying other people's rather than their own stuff.  To which the titles themselves (Busted Musicians, The Lousiest Record, I Can't Afford To Be A Star, I Can Do Without Nashville) reveal a more cynical and defeated view that their time did pass them by.  And the end result is not a comedy record that you can listen to over and over again.  It's more like watching the curtain coming down on a duo whose comedy routine you're waiting for the punchline, but it never seems to come.  Not one of their better efforts.
Grade C+

Loggins & Messina-Mother Lode (Columbia 1974)

This is where it becomes more of the Kenny Loggins show rather than Jim Messina, although failed single Growin and FM underground track Changes are the best of the bunch here.  In any case, this record really is where soft rock becomes prominent and this record might be the cause of startup bands like Firefall, due to the flute on some of these songs.  The long tracks Be Free and Move On, pale in comparison to other  long songs such as Angry Eyes  or to a lesser extent Pathways To Glory but they're listenable compared to Brighter Days or Get A Hold, those songs point more to Kenny's future.  I'd say out of all the Loggins and Messina albums that I have heard, this is their least likable, I haven't heard So Fine or Native Sons yet.  I suspect Sittin In Again, the best of, is the one to hear their music, but that record is problematic, it leaves off Thinking Of You, My Music and Growin. Unless Sony Music decides to present a version of Playlist of Loggins And Messina, you'll going to be disappointed.  The other way is to make your own mix cd of their best songs, provided if you can find their CDs in the used bins.  Mother Lode only cost me 95 cents, which sounds just about right on your Loggins And Messina budget.
Grade C+

Joke of the day: 


TAD said...

Hi Crabby -- Good Luck with the band, and keep posting the cheesecake shots. Sam The Fishing Buddy is HOTTTT!

R S Crabb said...

Sam sez Howdy ;)