Monday, April 25, 2016

Week In Review: Popcorn Jam. Aunt G, K Tel, 20 Albums

Billy Paul joined the cavalcade of musicians leaving the planet.  Best known for Me And Mrs. Jones Paul passed away from pancreatic cancer Saturday.  He was 81.

This weekend's Popcorn Jam might have been one of the best ones I ever partaken with.  The hosts were Jason Christensen, Dan Johnson, Terry McDowell and Tim Duffy and some of the finest drummers took to the stage.  Tiffany Zweibohmer from 50 Shades Of Rock joined in to rock the place with her version of Crossroads and a few others.  Jon Wilson, who usually hosts the jams as a drummer came out as participant and his highlight was a jazzed up version of Boom Boom Out Go The Lights. The keyboardist for the Grateful Dead tribute band Winterland joined on Dixie Chicken but perhaps the highlight of the show may have been yours truly joining forces with Ernest, the soul singer (don't know his last name but the man sings great soul music) with his trademark When You Love  A Woman Blues and The Twist, to which the man really bust a excellent move in tribute to the late Prince.  Alas nobody bothered to document this historic event, Kevin Schumaker wasn't there to video tape the jam session but he will be there next week when The Saloonatics host their 4th popcorn jam. Missing in action was Tim Wiley who decided to just hang around Cooters with the acoustic jam with Dan Hartman and Michael Williams and continues to improve on his guitar playing skills. Without Wiley around, the Rumors Jam was a bit more lighthearted and not as ominous as it was last week.  Terry McDowell thought for a moment that he was going to be the only drummer up there, till about 5 30 when Tiffany and myself showed up, as well as Peter Stark who sat this one out.

Gayla Drake  is part of something called Auntie G and The Stone City Nephews and Housewerks had their album for 4 dollars.  It was recorded in 2012 and put out on vinyl.  Gayla Drake had recorded CDs under her name and she was a fine finger picking guitarist before taking up on the fiddle.  The album is bluegrass with some avantgarde twist, including a Drake fiddle freakout at the end of  One Hundred Miles.  And it is Drake that dominates the singing (7 out of the 10 songs here she sings lead vocals) and she wrote all the songs.  I've known Gayla a little bit from her days at working at National Computer Service before it bought out by Pearson, and one time I thought about approaching her about doing a project together but never could own up and ask her to do so. The songs are strong (Highway 13 probably the best of her singing), but I do like If Only For You and 100 Miles even with the fiddle freakout.  I think she would work wonders in a Americana group but for a bluegrass effort Auntie G and The Stone City Nephews is a strong B plus record.  Plus when you buy the album from her, it's not a corporation major label you're dealing with.  And I give big breaks to folks who promote their music this way.  Perhaps I'll look her up next time she's in Stone City.

Wooden Nickel Lottery has revealed their spring tour in support of their forthcoming album. (photo by Myka Forrest)

Sunday May 15th, Parlor City (CR) ~ 4-8pm
Saturday June 18th, CR Downtown Farmers Market ~ 9:30-noon
Saturday June 25th, BBQ Roundup @ McGrath ~ 2-3:30pm
Monday July 4th, Cedar Ridge Blues Fest ~ 1-4pm
Friday Sept 2nd, Fridayloo (Waterloo) ~ 5:30-9:30pm

Been a while since I had a photo of Ivy Doomkitty to share, thought I get that out of the way.  Still looking better than me ;) 

This weekend, The Salvation Army will be opening up their brand new store on Council Street, across the street from the Goodwill.  I hope that there'll be some sort of bargains and 45s of note but by the time I get there, the place will probably be picked apart.   As always the grand opening of anything has clogged up traffic and hardly any places to park.  If there were any 45s there, I either couldn't find them or the record scavengers got to them first.  No shortage of Bill Cosby LPs either or even Twisted Sister. I did found Eddie Harris Jazz For Breakfast At Tiffany's on Vee Jay and Prefab Sprout From Langley Park To Memphis on LP.   I was tempted to take a look at a Fabian LP but somebody laid claim to it.  Needless to say, if the record looked like the Chubby Checker/Dee Dee Sharp album, it's probably scratched all to hell. Another Cameo/Parkway LP seen better days and so did Humble Pie's Rocking The Fillmore.   There also was a Bryan Ferry In Your Mind on LP too, but I didn't buy it.  That album wasn't all that great.   

Site of the day 20 albums.  It's hard to compose an all time 20 albums classic but this site really has done their homework.  Anybody that has Bill Amesbury gets a big shout out.

While the big hoopla is Guns And Roses at Coachella, reformed trance poppers Lush played the Roxy.

More passings: Remo Belli, the guy who makes Remo drum heads passed away at age 88 Monday.

Phillip Kives, the guy behind K Tel products died Wednesday at age 87.  While he's famous for the Slice And Dice and the Veg O Matic  he was instrumental of those 22 greatest hits packages K Tel used to on commercials. Of course I bought a few 22 Explosive Hits and Believe In Music comes to mind and K Tel did make some decent comps in the later years  The Rock Album comes to mind, but like all things must end so did the major labels helps and K Tel laid silent for a few years till they came back in the 1990s.  The CD versions were very brief, Blues Classics and British Invasion Hits were 10 to 12 tracks total, and of course there's no way K Tel could grab something from The Beatles or Pink Floyd for that matter.  However the CD era wasn't very kind to K Tel Records and by 2000 Phil Kives stuck to VegOMatic or the non stick cooking frying pan.

22 Explosive Hits Promo:

Prince was cremated over the weekend in a very small private ceremony.  Meanwhile he's in route to dominate the top ten songs of the week.  While many cover bands and big bands are trying their hand at playing Purple Rain or Little Red Corvette, somebody takes a look at public grieving over deaths of famous stars.  Honestly, social media in this day and age takes things to historic levels but in the end everybody dies (no exceptions). 

Record Reviews: (photo: Jim Viner) 

Texas Hippie Coalition-Dark Side Of Black (Carved Records 2016)

Leave it to them to make their own black album, complete with everything into the black that you have to get a 500 watt light bulb to read the hilarious lyrics.  And that's not to put that in a bad way, in fact THC still reminds me of the old time bands of the 1970s that made a living off great riff and stoopid lyrics (see The Godz, Grand Funk Railroad).   Peacemaker, my first encounter with them remains my favorite, the last album not so much, Skidd Mills tried to polish them up for radio consumption and still got zip plays here.  Enter Sterling Whitfield (Ugly Kid Joe) to inject some humor to go along with their Pantera thrash hard rock and really THC has gotten better to duplicate that Pantera sound, although they have totality given up their Southern Rock roots on the acoustic beginnings of Knee Deep and Dark Side before those Pantera guitars fired up.  Big Daddy Riech can do Phillip very well, even coming up with his own version of Rise and Gods Are Angry with the F bombed laden chorus a future classic at THC concerts.  I get a kick out of hearing Shakin Baby, which is somewhat Turn It Up revisited (with the classic line "lets see those panties droppin") and Into the Wall, and Big Daddy becomes the second coming of Phil Anselmo.  At times the songs do get tedious, Hit It Again repeats chorus about 5 times too many, but that's a slight nitpicking from over here.  Dark Side Of Black improves greatly from their last album Ride On, though that record wasn't that all bad.  And for their red dirt metal, the songs have bite and the music grooves through that metal overdrive guitar.  Certainly a lot better than what ROCK 108 throws at us for new hard rock.
Grade B+

Little Feat-Dixie Chicken (Warner Brothers 1973)

Perhaps their best loved album, a nice New Orleans bouncy groove is the beat for the title track and Lowell George really dominates this album despite new addictions from Sam Clayton, Paul Barrare and Kenny Gradney would replaced the original bass player who went back to Frank Zappa and The Mothers.   While comparisons to Music From Big Pink could have been said about the first two albums, this is more like The Band's S/T album although, I can see the argument that George writes good songs but not great songs.  Certainly Dixie Chicken would be reworked into the show stopper it would become on the Waiting For Columbus album but for old time's sake I do like the original version better.  And second favorite track is Fred Tackett's Fool Yourself.   The rest has to catch me in that mood to listen to it, Fat Man In The Bathtub and Roll Um Easy included.
Grade B+

Best Of Little Anthony And The Imperials (Rhino  1989)

Back when Rhino championed the obscure and forgotten, they put together some interesting and worth hearing comps of famed Doo Wop groups and Little Anthony And The Imperials were included.  The Rhino complication team worked overtime to include the complete discography as well but this best of focuses only on the End and DCP (Don Costa Productions) labels and some of these songs are damn near depressive, the unreleased It's Not For Me makes Morrissey sound like Donny And Marie.  Certainly Little Anthony specialized in doo wop balladry with the classic Tears On My Pillow, Two People In The World as well as the hits of Goin Out Of My Head and Hurts So Bad, to which The Lettermen scored top five hits in around 1968.  They didn't do it very often but they could rock it a little, as evidenced by obscure hit (and bonus CD track) I'm Alright co-written with Sam Cooke and Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop, my favorite song from these guys.  I doubt that George Goldner co wrote I'm Alright, but thought he pad his name to it anyway, major label heads back then made that a practice.   Even for 1950s and 1960s standards, the sexual innuendo of Shimmy Shimmy with Anthony throwing in the line Man I'm glad I'm single might have turn a few of the FCC heads back then.  I'm On The Outside Looking In, was one of the original 45s that I ever knew about in my toddler years but I don't think I liked it much back then, it met a cracked record fate, but nowadays I do like to hear it once in a while.   Still, a bit too much on the slower doo wop ballads but I think Rhino did a good job with the selection of songs from this band that did make it into the rock and roll hall of fame behind Jann Wanner's back.  Which earns them an A minus for that effort.  And God bless Joe McEwen for getting them in there, which Jann eventually fired him from the Board of Directors. 

The Pentangle-Sweet Child (Reprise 1968)

Perhaps one of the best kept secrets of the 1960s was this band and their acoustic guitar showmanship of John Renbourn and Bert Jansch, plus the double bass work of Danny Thompson and Terry Cox, a vastly underrated drummer.  In the anything goes world of music of the late 60s, their record label signed off on a 2 record set, one live and one studio.  It can be said the studio side of the songs are not as good as the songs on the first album, but they do have a charm of their own, especially the Jacqui McShee's high octave singing on I Got A Feeling and the title track.  It is the live side that brings this record in classic mode, beginning with Market Song, and McShee adding emotional power to No More My Lord and then sweetens it up with Renbourn on Turn Your Money Green.  Perhaps no band has even given equal treatment to each band member, not even Fairport Convention was this liberal.  The CD version adds seven more from the Royal Albert Hall concert, three of the songs were from the first album.  Only Bruton Town was issued on Sweet Child and this version does improve from the first album.  Surprisingly, Waltz and Bells do sound a bit more tamer than their studio counterparts from The Pentangle (the first album) and more subdued.  Another of note, some of the live songs, it sounds like somebody was using an electric guitar too. Nothing wrong with that and sometimes comes in as a relief.  But at the end, Waltz and Bells do sound unplugged.  The second CD also adds 3 alt takes and a studio version of Haitian Fight Song, I think I like the alternative take of The Trees They Do Grow High, McShee's vocals stand out better. They never did top their debut but for a followup, Sweet Child turned out to be a very good sophomore release which still holds up almost fifty years after the fact.
Grade A- 

Albums Of My Youth-Robin Trower:  Bridge Of Sighs (Chrysalis 1974)

Trower has enjoyed a long and storied career but his best years were the first three albums, produced by Matthew Fisher and one cannot overstate the importance of James Dewar for vocalist.  Twice Removed From Yesterday could have been that classic album but there were a couple of stinkers that made the record very good than great.  On album number 2, they come roaring out of the gate with Day Of The Eagle and kept on rocking.  Of course the Jimi Hendrix comparisons are always there and will be till the end of time, but the foreboding title track remains his all time best, including ominous music and perhaps the best use of a wind machine in rock history.  Not all is Hendrix lite, Trower throws a funky rhythm to The Fool And Me, cops a lick from Free in Lady Love and goes to town on Little Bit Of Sympathy.  And then there's Too Rolling Stoned, to which Trower goes from funk to stoned out blues and the underrated Reg Isidore provides the right amount of drumming to the song.  I have this album in very many formats, including twice on 8 Track and there was a major difference; the Warner version was better mixed, The Chrysalis version was sped up and Little Bit Of Sympathy had a poor edit that repeated part of Trower's guitar lead at the end.  The original CD version suffered from a very poor mix, Isadore's drums sounded like cardboard boxes, and Capitol reissued it in late 1999 with much better mix plus a bonus live in the studio LP featuring most of the tracks of the album.  Yet in 2007, the album got remixed and remastered with yet another
live-performance, this time from the BBC and adding new songs that would comprise the next album For Earth Below.  Some people consider this to be his classic album, myself included, but I also like Twice Removed From Yesterday and For Earth Below and Victims Of The Fury.  Make no mistake, when I first heard the intro to Bridge Of Sighs, there was nothing quite like it, the wind chimes blowing in the wind and then Robin's guitar.  The rest they say is history.
Grade A

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Crabb thoughts on Prince, Cubs No Hitter, etc.

Two days later after the passing of Prince Rogers, the tributes keep coming in.  Whatever Prince could do, he could do it better than anybody else.  In terms of theory, Prince will go down as perhaps the best one man recording band making records his way from the beginning.  While the masses will lay praise on Purple Rain and 1999,  his first four albums of DIY rock and soul will be the ones that I will remember.  For at that time, Prince was one of us, home recording musicians making music in route to be famous, just like I did.  Only Prince got more and more famous and I never did leave the garage myself.   People talk of the way Prince would remain shy and aloof, he never did try to use the media to promote everything he did or done and go into reality shows or have a porn star wife (see Kanye West) what I like about Prince was he kept true to himself and let his music and his skills do the talking.  He fought tooth and nail with Warner Brothers throughout his music career and refused to cave in to their demands.  He didn't move out west or to New York but stayed close to home in Minneapolis.  He promoted the music scene in Minneapolis as much as he could.  Even close to death, Prince still supported buying records and cds, even buying the new Santana album and classics from The Chambers Brothers, Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell to name a few.  He kept busy going after You Tube and getting his music off that channel, which may have made a few folks mad.  With his passing, there's more You Tube Prince stuff going up.  Prince may have been a one man army on that.

While he was private with his life, perhaps the reason why he asked people not to take photos of him going around town might be that Prince looked at himself as one of us and not the rock god that he perceived to be.   And wanted to come and go his own way and not be hounded.  Fair enough.  In the end Prince, through his social media was really one of us who enjoyed music in any form and would go out his way to promote those artists that he enjoyed hearing.  Up to his passing, Prince gave it his all until his body just gave out.  But he had a nice 37 year run at it.

The Chicago Cubs are 13-4 so far in April and have turned the tables playing in April.  They went to St. Louis and took 2 out of 3, and then Thursday Jake Arrieta pitched his second no hitter as the Cubs blew out Cincinnati 16-0, in a game that The Cubs hit 5 home runs, two from Kris Bryant, one from Ben Zobrist, Phil Rizzo and Dan Ross, who caught the no hit game.  Brandon Finnegan, who almost no hit the Cubs in Chicago last week, got blasted early and often.  You have to feel for the guy who ended up getting whiplash after seeing ball after ball go out into the stands and seeing if any would fall into the river nearby.  Arrieta has been on fire, having his 24th straight quality start and the Cubs winning 17 straight Arrieta decisions of late.  Last time the Cubs was setting April on fire was 1969. Hopefully history will not repeat itself, the hated New York Mets ended up playing .750 ball in route to scorch pass the Cubs, the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles to win it all.  Barring injuries to key players (Kyle Schwarber lost for the season due to a freak collision) The Cubs should make the playoffs.  Of course the nay sayers will chime in, as they always will that Chicago will falter when June and July come up and Arrieta can't continue his dominance (a slight observation: Jake did have a subpar game in the playoffs against St. Louis to which Cardinals fans will point out time and time again, right Ron?, but for now Arrieta has been unbeatable in the regular season.  But for now I'm enjoying the hot start and it's better being 13-4 than the other way.  The other way you're already writing off the season.

And Friday Night The Cubs won again 8-1, scoring 4 runs in the 9th inning.  If they can keep delivering in the 9th inning it will be a fun season.  But it's a long season, and last weekend Colorado did that 2 out of 3 games.  Be careful.

I heard this all before, but the recent new MTV head Sean Atkins wants to put the M in MTV back into music but lets face it what he is proposing isn't much different from the past.  Unless you count Mark Burnett looking for the next hip hop artist as "music".  Which I call bullshit and the new MTV shows are more reality garbage.  Let's face it, we're not going back to 1981 when music videos did kill the radio star and everybody had wet dreams about Martha Quinn and (at that time) Nina Blackwood, we wanted to be friends with J J Jackson and Mark Goodman and wanted to punch Alan Hunter, and we used to have the rock and roll movie sunday nights shows and later 120 Minutes and Headbanger's Ball.  The M still stands for Moron TV, VH1 is more worse and I have no idea about MTV2 or VH1 Classic is about anymore.  The guess is that Atkins is going back to 1990s MTV.  Nice try to get to past glories Sean but let me know when you do get more serious about real music.  I think it's too late anyway judging by the shit we hear on new music radio.

While people continue to speak glowingly about the legacy of Slick Willie Bill Clinton, it also marked the 20th anniversary of the infamous and music/radio/tv/paper killer Telecommunications Act of 1996, to which corporations begin to buy up all sorts of media, from paper to radio and TV Stations.  A bright idea by GOP hypocrite Newt Numbnuts Gingrich and John "dingleberry" Dingell of Michigan who thanked God and the lobbyists around for this bill.  This bill started the era of Clear Channel I Heart Media who now owns over 1000 radio station across the country.   Six Corporations: Viacom, News Corp, Comcast, CBS, Time Warner and Disney own over 90 percent.  There is no such thing as "fair and balanced" and may God have mercy on you, if you're working for Gannett and have to deal with layoffs every year.  The fact of the matter remains that BIG MEDIA is spending big bucks to both parties (BTW) in an attempt to take over the internet.  Cable and satellite spent 1.8 million dollars on lobbying alone.  And they continue to raise rates due to "programming" issues.  To which the the consumer returns are getting less and less, including our shit hole cable company that dropped five channels and raised the rates five dollars.  Not very cost effective mind you. And a reminder:  Hillary Clinton is running for POTUS, and BIG MEDIA is really contributing a lot of dollars to her campaign.  Which may be a big red flag but given who the GOP is throwing out, they're even worse.  Bill Clinton signed this act into law and every Republican voted for this, 15 Democrats and Bernie Sanders as an independent voted against it.  And now the damage is done, we're stuck with shit reality crap shows, Pravda news from the likes of FOX and CNN and I Heart playing the same fucking songs over and over and cable/dish networks continue to raise rates citing "cost of programming". Actually Andy Griffith and Lucy reruns have never been that expensive but the lobbyist game of owning your own congressman or woman is going up in cost.  So to celebrate 2 decades of the era of I Heart Control, let's aim a light a fart in the faces of Slick Bill, Newt and Dingleberry Dingell of the end of radio as we used to know it and the beginning of less choices and higher rates from the likes of Viacom, New Corp and the four others in the destruction of free speech and press: 

Another Prince story:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Record Store Day 2016, Townedger Radio 18, The Dawn

For the third straight year, Davenport was the place to be for the 2016 edition of Record Store Day, to which the major labels stick out limited edition product with inflated prices on what you could have gotten for 8 dollars 30 years ago.  I wasn't impressed with the titles the major labels put out, in fact the only album that I bought was a band from Geneseo Illinois called The Dawn.  They are not new to the area, in fact The Dawn have been playing around The Quad Cities area for about 2 years now and have recorded a couple of album, the most recent is At First Light, to which the band sold for 10 dollars for vinyl copies, five for CD.  Jam bands can try patience but The Dawn really is a nice rocking band somewhere along the likes of Widespread Panic   The new album At First Light only has four songs, the shortest is 7:55 seconds, the rest fall around 10 or 11 minutes.  Of course there's going to be the Grateful Dead comparisons.  For local jam bands around here, The Dawn is one of the better ones.  Not sure if they'll make it up to my neck of the woods but the QC folks will get to see them a few times this summer.

Usually Record Store Day I celebrate more often than the mid April date.  Last year it was 45's galore from Ragged Records but this year, I didn't buy any.  But I did purchase 3 cds, a Tim Buckley, A Rain Parade and Sylvian Sylvain's RCA's debut on Wounded Bird.  Co Op Moline I got The 11th House a fusion jazz album on Vanguard.  For thrift stores, The Essential Skeeter Davis for a dollar and Montgomery Gentry Carrying On for 50 cents.  Last time up at Goodwill, they had plenty of 45s, but this time out, nada.  The only 45 worth noting I got at the Salvation Army As Is Store, was Bad To Me by Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas. The cashier dude was very careful to wrap the 45s in newspaper so they didn't get scratched by the jewel case.  First time I ever seen that happen but i admire the guy for doing that.

Plenty of road construction to screw things up and the I-74 bridge to Illinois was one lane south.  So I had to go the long way, back to downtown Davenport and the Centennial Bridge in Moline and to Co Op Moline.  River Drive was all fucked up, so it was a maze of road closed and one lane signs and every GD light I hit was either red or turning red.  Since I got there late, the Quad Cities River Bandits played a one o'clock game to which Kane County beat them 5-4.  Last season the Bandits had the best record in the minor leagues but most of the players have moved on to double or triple A ball and the new team isn't very good, at least not at the first week.   So I may not be going there to watch as many games as I did last season.  It's also too fucking bad, that my luck of hitting red lights didn't transcribe over to the slot machine at Rhythm City Casino, which I lost 6.94.  Even with penny slots my luck sucks, unless it's hitting red lights, then I have the best luck.  Outside of that, the weather was nice, the temps were in the 80s and there a nice breeze coming off the river.

A week ago on April 9-10 1973  our town got 15 inches of very wet snow and closed everything down for two days.  On the third day, temps warmed back up into the 70s and all the snow melted within a week leaving a muddy mess for the majority of April

AC/DC continues to cheapen themselves.  Turns out that Axl Rose is the replacement singer for the booted Brian Johnson and the Angus Young Band continues on.   Rose is also busy with Guns And Roses back in tow.  But we can all give a middle finger to Angus' version of a AC DC tribute band, even though Cliff Williams the bass player has been there since 1978.  Nevertheless, I'm not interested to see Axl with AC DC or GnR for that matter.

There has been things going on between The Wiley Kats, and last weeks popcorn jam to which I made note of in the Townedgers Blogspot site and didn't feel like repeating that. This Sunday's jam was the final performance of The Lab Rats,  Tim Duffy has been threatening to move to Georgia and it looks like he'll be going there in May.  It was Shuffle Sunday as the Wiley Kats did La Grange, Cold Shot, So Excited and Pride And Joy, which didn't please the drummer who in rebellion sped up Cold Shot to almost punk like, to which Stevie Ray Vaughn might be spinning in his grave but Lemmy would have approved.  The Wiley Kats, with guest star Tim Duffy and later Bart Carfizzi ended up doing Scuttlebuttin, Crossroads and Red House Blues for almost a half hour.  Not bad consider the drummer was sun burned from hiking at the Nature Center.  Highlights included Dana Rocky Smith, showing off on drums on his set and R S Crabb joining the Labs for the final number, a version of Hush, The Deep Purple version to which Bart Carfizzi could go home happy.  It was a nice day so most of the jammers stayed home and mowed the yard,  I can't recall the last time only 3 drummers jammed at Rumors.  A very short guest star list included the infamous The firegirl, who sings that George Strait number The Fireman, Ian and Kyle too.  Present but didn't perform was John Hernandez and Shawn Ster.  To which I'm sure Ster did go to Cooters for the acoustic jam and do his songs.  He usually does things solo.  As with the Wiley Kats, the problem of band practice and time restrictions and getting everybody together is becoming well known and might be reaching an impasse.  Perhaps a rethink or more dedicated band mates might help. In my case, I have a actual real working job at evenings that I'm not about to give up over playing for 250 dollars split three ways.  Bills do not decrease over time.  In the meantime, In The Attic, usually jam regulars have been out and about promoting their new EP, here they are rocking out to the masses at Hy Vee Wilson Avenue.

In each and every city, the city governments are as crooked as they come.  They don't fix the streets in Marion but they'll gung ho about putting up fucking roundabouts.  In Cedar Rapids, Ron Corbett, the Boss Tweed of the 21st century and a couple of GOP council members (Justin Sheilds, Ralph Russell)  are ready to add an 15 cent tax increase to pay for that library downtown, five months after voters rejected a 27 cent increase referemdem (can't spell it, spell checker isn't helping). Shady politics as usual from this motley crew of jackoffs, who think putting a water fountain in Green Square Park will bring more visitors.  Or buying empty lots in thinking they're going to put a casino there.  In this day and age dollar foolish is the norm, especially from Ron Corbett's dollar ignorance.  With voters staying home and not voting Ron nor Justin or Raphie out of office, they get to reap the rewards of not voting.  Or seeing those wonderful lights that change color at Green Square Park that don't work half the time.  Just like Ron Corbett.

The Rock Hall Of Fame highlights will air on HBO on April 30th but you may not get to see Steve Miller's part of the show.  Still reeling mad over the high jinks Miller said that he has not signed off on the agreement to air his induction and may not do so since he didn't like the contract the rock hall has given him.  He's also not too happy with Capitol, now part of Universal which will make Miller more grumpy than usual.  You'd think all them airplays of The Joker or Rock'n Me would be raking in the dollars for The Space Cowboy, but it's not, I'm sure the majors have taking a big chunk of change for themselves.  Still the Rock Hall's idea of pairing today's pop stars introducing the old dinosaurs of music is BS anyway.  I can't see Miller listening to the Black Keys (and vice versa). And The Black Keys really have not made an album I can sit all the way through to listen with.  Miller would have probably quit after the first song.

Archives: We revisit the recording significance of Blue Oyster Cult.  Their best albums was with the original lineup of Al and Joe Bouchard in the band.  When Al left the band, Revolution By Night suffered a great deal and Club Ninja was worse.  So far Secret Treaties has benefited by bonus tracks and the first album and second album not so much. They'll always be known for Don't Fear The Reaper but in all fairness Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll remains their best song. 

Passings: Gib Guilbeau of the Flying Burrito Brothers passed away Monday, undisclosed illness. He was 78....Doris Roberts, the beloved Mom on Everybody Loves Raymond passed away from natural causes on Sunday.  She was 90...Pete Zorn, former Steeleye Span player and Richard Thompson collaborator passed away in his sleep from cancer.  He was 65....Chyna (Joan Lauden) WWE wrestler and adult film star passed away Monday under mysterious circumstances, she was 45.  Dwayne (Pearl) Washington, one of the best college basketball players of the 1980 for Syracuse passed away from a brain tumor, he was 52.

On Thursday, Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead in an elevator at Paisley Park Studios in Minnesota.  He was 57.  He was suffering from the flu virus at the time, but perhaps he just wore himself out making so much music for the world to hear.  RIP Prince. You will be missed.
Lonnie Mack, famed guitarist best known for his version of Memphis and later Wham! passed away from natural causes, he was 74.  Stevie Ray Vaughn was instrumental in getting Lonnie back into the spotlight and co produced his Strike Like Lightning for Alligator Records and then recorded on Epic for Road Houses And Dance Halls.  Mack was also a profound fisherman to which when he played up here in Iowa, he'd go fishing on the Wapsipinicon River around Waubeek or Central City.  He retired from live performance in 2001 but on occasion would hit the local jam circuits in his area.  Guess Stevie Ray was calling for him and Lonnie decided to join up.  He will be missed.
There's debate on when Jim Morrison was saying Do It Robbie, Do It on Roadhouse Blues, the article errors by saying it was Lonnie, but Lonnie was playing bass instead.  Robbie Kieger says:
Krieger: " 'Roadhouse Blues' is one of my personal favorites. I Was always proud of that song because, as simple as it is, it's not just another blues. That one little lick makes it a song, and I think that sums up the genius of the Doors. I think that song stands up really well as an example of what made us a great band. And the session was really cool, one of my fondest memories of the band. We cut the tune live, with John Sebastian playing harp and Lonnie Mack playing Bass, he came up with that fantastic bass line. - He just happened to be hanging around. I think he had a contract with Elektra and wasn't recording so they gave him a job at the studio. We just said, 'Hey, why don't you play bass?'"

Krieger: "There was a bar near the Doors workshop on Santa Monica Boulevard that Jim and his friends would hand out called The Roadhouse. One little known fact is that Lonnie Mack played Bass on the studio version o 'Roadhouse Blues'."

Krieger: "He just happened to be working in the Elektrastudio that day, and I has always loved the way he played. So I asked him to play Bass and he said, 'Well, I'm not really a bass player, but I'll try'. And after that, I always called him a bass player which made him mad. He'd say 'I'm a guitar player, goddamit!'."

Mack also played bass on Maggie McGill. 

Milt Pappas was one of the best pitchers to wear the Baltimore Orioles uniform and spent 10 seasons with them before being traded to Cincinnati in the Frank Robinson deal.  He would later be traded to the Chicago Cubs and one of his highlights was an almost perfect game no hitter against Montreal.  He had a 209-164 lifetime record.  Roger Maris hit home run number 59 off Pappas when Maris was doing his record breaking HR record in 1961.  Pappas could also hit, he hit 20 home runs, including what would be the last HR hit by a pitcher before the designated hitter rule took effect in a 1-0 game, against Bill Stafford of the New York Yankees in 1962.  While he did well in Cincinnati, it turned out that Frank Robinson had a banner year, winning the triple crown in 1966 and helping the Orioles to win the world series, sweeping the LA Dodgers that year.  He was later traded to Atlanta and then on to the Chicago Cubs where he went 10-8 after Atlanta traded him in 1970.  Pappas' best year as a Cubs pitcher was 1972 when he went 17-7, including that no-hitter the last thrown at Wrigley Field.  But in 1973 a 7-12 record and having some injuries, the Cubs finally released him in 1974.  Pappas retired afterward, at that time he was the only pitcher that won over 200 games in his career and not post a 20 wins season but he did have back to back 17 games won in 71 and 72.  Both Baltimore and Chicago continue to embraced the legacy of Milt Pappas and he was a favorite whenever he was at Wrigley Field and at Camden Yards.  Pappas died of natural causes at age 76.

Your dream date: Ashley Axeliss returns with a ultra cool photo from her instragram site. I figured this place needs a bit of eye candy and cheesecake.

Record Reviews:

The Dawn-At First Light  (Lonesome Driver Music  2015)

You have to love a band that sells their new album on vinyl for 10 dollars on Record Store Day, not only you got the vinyl but the band also threw in a CD for nothing and it turned out to be the bargain of the day.    The Dawn is from Geneseo Illinois but plays around the Quad Cities area.  And they are a jam band, with roots firmly into the likes of moe. and Phish and like both bands, this four song LP runs at 40 minutes and the shortest song is 7:55 minutes the rocking Let Me Down Easy.  The somewhat easy flowing Ticklelicious comes in at 10:47, and side two has the 10:08 Paradise and the 11:07 Slow Motion.  Even with the mellow beginning of Ticklelicious they do rock out toward the end.  Paradise begins life as a Reggae number before mutating into Starless type King Crimson.  And Slow Motion starts somewhat like the beginning of the Grateful Dead's Aligator before venturing into prog rock territory.   Sean Ryan knows enough of Trey Anastacio to almost sound like him at times and the other guys, Jordan Vanopdorp, Dan Olds and Josh Womack can improvise on the spot and take songs to other styles without disrupting the flow of the song.  It also helps having Patrick Stolley (The Multiple Cat, Mondo Drag) behind the production booth.  The CD version is nice to have out in the car but the vinyl mastering shows a much more warmer production and Ben Olds' stellar bass work shines through.   They really don't have much to say, some lyrics here and there and it's off to jam once again.  Even though the songs are long, they're not boring and plenty of surprises await.  Compared to Moe's 45 minute Meat, At First Light is better put together and more accessible. Certainly they're worthy to be included of the likes of moe. or Phish, At First Light is better than the last moe. album or for that matter Widespread Panic.  For hometown made jam bands, The Dawn are one of the best and At First Light almost captures their live music setting very well.   If you're into the above mentioned bands, you'll dig At First Light.
Grade A-

Sylvain Sylvain  (RCA 1979)

He was a sideman for The New York Dolls with good reason, David Johansen was the much better singer, Sylvain comes across more like Sha Na Na than NY Dolls and while this record isn't that bad, there's enough Sha la la, doo doo doos to make it more of a West Side Story type of thing.  He strikes out bad on the ballads (Without You, Tonight), and  Teenage News has a bit of NY punk to go with his late 1950s rock and roll. Which recalls more of Dion rather than David or Bruce for that matter. Perhaps the best track is What's That Got To Do With Rock And Roll, to which even in 1979, this album was doomed to failure since it wasn't disco or corporate rock.  But still even Sha Na Na has some sort of value, even for nostalgia. And Sylvain Sylvain is about the same, although he wrote his own songs and had a bit more teeth to his cover version of Ain't Got No Home.  But you'd never would think on  this album, Sylvain was part of the New York Dolls.  A trip to the nice wild side of things.
Grade B

Norah Jones-Introducing (Blue  Note 2010)

Jones, from the beginning of Come Away To Me, through her Danger Mouse collaboration has done just about everything except front a rock and roll band, and this uneven collection of duets tries to make a good case of how she can blend into things.  You have to admit anybody that can turn the Foo Fighters into a bossa nova band must be doing right, right?  Jones is great at towing the line between country smarts and jazzy cool, but she couldn't improve Here We Go Again with Ray Charles since the original song was the best version but she tries.  Nor Baby It's Cold Outside with Willie Nelson, since Homer And Jethro and June Carter did a better version.  She is not so great when Ryan Adams gives her a crappy song (Dear John) or Belle And Sebastrian gives her a so so song. When it works it's usually acoustic county as evidenced by Bull Rider (with Sasha Dobson) and Creepin In (with Dolly Parton).  The Outkast duet is a novelty but even with her sweetening up the rap numbers with Q Tip and Talib Kweli, both songs suck.  In other words, a mixtape cd of Norah helping out, with mixed results.
Grade C+

Cortelia Clark-Blues In The Street (RCA 1966)

In the time that David Houston's Almost Persaded won just about every Grammy out there in that year, this long forgotten album (reissued for a time by Collector's Choice Music) won best folk recording in 1967.  Not bad for an album that sold 700 copies new.  Clark was a street singer that sold shopping bags and would sing from time to time and Felton Jarvis recorded him in action with the sounds of the city all around them.  However since the cars passing by wasn't heard very well, so RCA enlisted Norro Wilson and Jerry Reed to honk their horns and spin their tires.  It's amazing how Blues In The Street did beat out Peter Paul And Mary that year, Clark didn't have I Dig Rock And Roll Music in his song list.  Even with Wilson and Reed hot rodding up and down the RCA parking lot, you still get to hear people throwing coins in Clark's cup and Clark's shouting "Shopping Bags!" after each song. It does get a bit monotonous even toward the end of side 2, and even improvising lyrics to Bye Bye Love and Trouble In Mind shows that Clark didn't know the actual lyrics, they don't exactly fit.  His own songs are a bit better (Love Blues, Baby What Have I Done, which suggest Clark might have listened to John Lee Hooker) and the comparisons to Jesse Fuller seems right.  Street singer recordings tend to be bare boned and stripped down, with the sounds of city as accomplishment (for further listening try to find David Lannen's Street Singer that came out on San Francisco Records many years ago)  This would be Clark's only album release, RCA wrote the album off as a tax loss and Clark would eventually die from injuries received from a accidential house fire accident  in 1969.   The record itself is uneven, at times the missteps like Bye Bye Love make Clark seem like Wesley Willis, but unlike Willis, Clark doesn't turn them into parody.   Many a street singer that I have known have known to blotch lines to songs many times over.   But for a curio that won Best Folk Album of 1967 it probably beats Anita Kerr and The New Vaudeville Band for a better listen.
Grade B

Albums Of My Youth-Journey  Escape (Columbia 1981)

This was the album that made Journey mega-superstars but it also alienated me into paying less attention to them from here on out.  You know the story, Greg Rolie and Neal Schon were part of Santana, hooked up with Ross Valory and Anysley Dunbar and made three fair to meddling albums before getting golden boy Steve Perry to sing and Infinity started the road to arena rock.  A slight change was made, Rolie wanted out to start a solo career and ex Baby's keyboardist Jonathan Cain replaced him.   The lead off track Don't Stop Believin' has become a monster of its own, overplayed as hell on Corporate rock stations, baseball arenas, wedding receptions and funerals.  If your living here on Planet Earth, you will not escape that song.  That said, the album was a disappointment to me from Departure and the blame might be on Steve Perry, who started out somewhat in the background, being part of the band on Infinity but each album begin to demonstrate his vocal power to the point that he's actually leading the band more often than not and oversings at every chance he gets, during the chorus of Keep On Running and Lay It Down, to the point you want to cut off his mike. The ballads made the senior prom and any slow dance a chance to reconnect with your loved one, Open Arms the syrupy weeper to which I've seen grown men simply cry as they embraced their dates, wives, potential nookie getters etc etc and somehow managed to make it on the oddly titled Heavy Metal S/T to that movie.  Open Arms is as heavy metal as Love Will Keep Us Together. Who's Crying Now was another 80s monster ballad anthem, but usually if your I Heart owned radio station played anything from Escape it would be Don't Stop Believin', Open Arms and Who's Crying Now, in basically that order.  In some ways, Escape was a desperate attempt to hit rock radio and it did, as well as the soft rock stations too.  Looking at this album now, listening to all the pompousness of this album still doesn't change my view of this record.  There are some decent moments; the straight ahead rock of Dead Of Alive or the hooks that comprised  Stone In Love, but the over the top ending of Escape and the bombastic Mother Father, which is a bizarre attempt for prog rock before Perry's singing the chorus line puts it in Jim Steinman territory and the overall saturation plays of Open Arms and Don't Stop Believin'  makes Escape just about unlistenable to me.  For every original Journey fan that got off the bus after Escape, 10 thousand new fans joined up.  But they got their number one album but this new found sound would eventually split up core members, Ross Valory would get replaced by future American Idol judge Randy Jackson and Steve Smith returned back to jazz fusion, which he liked more but it didn't pay as well as being a part of Journey.  In 2016 Steve Smith has rejoined Journey for a few selected dates in the summertime but Steve Perry has not.   For classic albums of my youth, Escape remains more of an anti classic, this album never did much for me, just like REO Speedwagon's Good Trouble became their death knell and me moving more towards bands that didn't have to rely on sappy ballads or over the top throatnomics of Steve Perry.  I don't deny this album being a landmark and one of the 80s best selling and essential albums from fans who continue to love Escape and Don't Stop Believin'  But that doesn't mean I should reserve a space in my CD or record collection for a record that never did much but put me off Journey for a long long time.
Grade C

Townedger Radio 18-Broadcast On Lucky Star Radio 4/20/16

One Two Three-Ramsey Lewis
Something Is Me-Paul Westerberg
Shout Bamalama-Otis Redding
Almost Beautiful-Tommy Bruner
May Not Be A Next Time-The Townedgers
Sunshine-Johnathan Edwards
Dick Soup-Banjo & Sullivan
Truck Driver's Queen-Moore & Napier
Commit A Crime-Howlin' Wolf
Pulstar-Julian Cope
Night Woman-Gerard McManon & Kid Lightning
Bring It On Home-The Townedgers
Turn On Your Love Light-Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels
First I Look At The Purse-J.Geils Band
Morning Noon And Night-Climax Blues Band
And It Caved In-Junk Monkeys
Pipeline-Stevie Ray Vaughn/Dick Dale 
Just To Satisfy You-The Townedgers
I Don't Wanna Get Over You-Waylon Jennings.

(due to technical issues, The March edition was repeated)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Crabb Notes On The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

I'm not sure that the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame 2016 inductees are the ones for the record books, but for the first time in years, it was mostly a rock and roll studded event.  The late Bert Berns was worthy.  He co wrote Twist And Shout and produced some great tracks for The Drifters, Ben E King's Let The Water Run Down, one of the better Bo Diddley beats song not done by Bo and produced Van Morrison's overplayed Brown Eyed Girl, a staple for jam sessions all over this fair state.

Photo (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) 

There was some no shows.  Deep Purple's manager forbid (or didn't want)  Richie Blackmore from playing with the band so he stayed home.  Peter Cetera tried to get Chicago to lower the key of 25 or 6 to 4 and the band wouldn't hear of that so he stayed home but Danny Serpentine showed up and played.  So did Bun E Carlos with Cheap Trick, despite him not being on their new pretty good new album.  Of course Sheryl Crow showed up and partake in a tribute song with Grace Potter for Glenn Frey.  I'm sure Jann Wanner will be pushing her into induction soon.   Ian Gillan did paid tribute to most of who was in Deep Purple but forgot Rod Evans, who we'll never see perform on a stage ever again it seems.

Some observations:

Peter Cetera is shown to be a total A hole in the whole handling of the Chicago fiasco.  I'll give him props for making a debut album that still holds up, but then he went Barry Manilow and further into sugary muzak pop.  He used to be one of my favorite Chicago players but since leaving, he's become so full of himself that it's hard to take him seriously.  If he wants to sing 25 6 to 4 in E minor, then he can do it with his band.  At least Danny Serpentine did put aside differences and reunited with the band on this occasion.

I didn't figure Blackmore would make the trip to Brooklyn for the Jann Wanner Lovefest.  Blackmore really can't stand Ian Gillan and share the same stage with him but Bruce Payne just as much as the problem.  But then again, maybe the rest of Deep Purple couldn't deal with 10 minutes of Richie anymore.

NWA, in theory, has a rock and roll attitude despite being a rap act.  And Straight Out Of Compton is one of the top five rap albums of all time.  It pissed off the music mainstream with their raps about life in the ghetto in the late 80s in Compton, not a nice place to be back then as it is now.  That said, I have no use for NWA, they're a rap group and I don't listen to rap groups.  They're no Body Count.  Perhaps if they would have used real instruments I would consider.  I do have to agree with them that they say Rap will never go away.  Being a fresh and original bunch of rappers, would breed imitators that would be less interesting and more annoying, Kendrick Lamar being a rare exception. To Pimp A Butterfly might be a good rap album, but to me it's not rock and roll.

Little Steven Van Zant made a comment that kinda contradicts the purpose of the Jann Wanner Appreciation Society, saying that it pisses him off when musicians are a no show when they get inducted.  At the same time Steve Miller took advantage of his time by making a point that the Rock Hall only allowed him 2 tickets to the show free, one for him and his wife. If Steve wanted his latest band to join up or even the guys from previous band it would be 10,000 dollars per person.  Little Steven can pissed at Peter Cetera's leaving his BMW (Bitchy Moaning, Whining) at home or even at Richie Blackmore, after all, Richie was a solid part of Deep Purple, although Steve Morse was hardly mentioned or the Hall wanted him to be a active member.  After all Steve Morse has been one of the best guitar players ever and his role in the Dixie Dregs should have gotten him his very own place at the hall.   Rock and Roll has had it's roots in rebellion years ago, a far cry from the ass kissing Corporate blowjob that Jann Wanner and the Rock Hall Org is now infamous for.  After all, last year they booted off a few on the committee because the ones booted off were nominating forgotten R and B acts that did shape the form of rock and roll (The Five Royales come to mind). If it wasn't for the fans who voted for Chicago this year or Deep Purple or Rush a couple years before, Jann Wanner would still have them on the outside looking in.   And we all know that Jann and the Org. who do their best to keep out bands such as Paul Revere And The Raiders or Yes or even Warren Zevon and the voters may have to vote them in themselves.

(Photo: Mike Coppola, Getty Images)

In the end, the true punk spirit of this years' Rock Hall Of Fame turned out to be Steve Miller, although NWA did say almost the same thing but didn't stick around to take questions.  Steve Miller at age 72 has just about seen it all and done it all and he's right if he said that the Rock Hall, who put his song montage together didn't consult him or pay Miller to use them.  Jann Wanner's version  of   enmiant domain   But by speaking his mind and having his moment in the spotlight, Steve Miller took full advantage of his situation and told it like it is.  This give me a newfound admiration for the Space Cowboy who is this year's rebel in the Corporate hoo haa that is The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

As for Little Steven, it's one thing to be associated with Bruce Springsteen and I admire Little Steven for his Underground Garage show that promotes the lesser known, if he was anybody else, say Nick Simpler or Jon Brant, he too would not be allowed to get into the Jann Wanner love fest.

Unless he had 10,000 dollars laying around.  Then he might.

The Black Keys didn't make many friends when Dan Auerbach complained that Miller didn't know him and that they distanced themselves from Steve soon afterward.  Which is why Jann Wanner paired them up with Steve Miller rather than Elton John or somebody more familiar.  The problem of the rock hall of fame and their continuing to use new acts to induct the classic rock acts.  Frank Marino, who will never be in the rock hall (But he is in the R S Crabb Rock Hall Of Fame) puts in his views of the whole thing.  Like Miller he is right.  In the case of The Black Keys it ends up them being corporate kiss assers.

"Yes, actually, and I couldn't agree with him more. It's about time someone else said these things publicly. Many artists have long held the very same dim view of this whole aspect of the Industry, and how it's handled, myself included. When I wrote a song called Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, way back in the 70's, it was meant as a tongue-in-cheek indictment of the whole Hall Of Fame charade.
And shame on those members of The Black Keys for distancing themselves from Steve Miller afterwards. Regardless of how caustic his comments might have seemed to them, or even whether or not he was simply unpleasant or hard to listen to, he was and is right. And he should seem unpleasant in his criticism, because the truth is often unpleasant to those willing to defend a lie. They should have at the very least limited their criticism of him to his attitude, if that's what bothered them so much. Actually, they should have simply shut up.

But their unctuous defense of the Industry's practices, particularly with regard to the Hall Of Fame, comes of as mere pandering and, if you'll pardon the expression, sycophantic ass-kissing. And this, if nothing else, illustrates the root-cause of the long-festering sore on the body of the Music Industry... musicians themselves so desirous of fame, acceptance and applause that they will defend the very hand that beats them and their brethren over the head, like the proverbial battered-wife. It's a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Is this what it's come to? Are we really now giving credibility to self-serving johnny-come-lately pretenders over genuine artists? Why were they even there in the first place? It should have been someone like Elton John. And if, as they complained and whined afterwards, they found him so terrible from the moment they met him backstage ("Oh my goodness! He didn't even know who we were!!!"), why did they still go on stage, all smiles, and hypocritically play out the charade?

What's next? Does Paris Hilton get to induct The Moody Blues?"

Frank Marino

From Bob Lefsetz:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Merle Haggard

I knew Merle was in bad shape when he canceled his spring tour but he never fully recovered from getting double phenomena and on his 79th birthday Merle checked out of this world.

For myself, Merle's best years were on Capitol and during the mid 60s when he scored a major hit with Branded Man and The Fugitive.  But while he was famous for those prison songs, Merle Haggard also expressed a genuine love of Bob Wills and made a classic album called A Tribute To The Best Damn Fiddle Player and Merle appeared on Wills last album For The Last Time.  To which Wills was in poor health and would later pass away but Haggard's version of Cherokee Maiden is a fun listen.   Another good concept LP was My Love Affair With Trains.  Haggard recorded something like 50 albums for Capitol it seems and most do hold up.

When Merle left for MCA, the albums were more honky tonk and a bit more polished.  I Think I'll Stay Here And Drink is my favorite song from that era.  But by the time he went to Epic I don't think I paid much attention anymore.  Perhaps it was the canned and sterile 80s production that sink most of those albums I don't know.  He made a couple albums for the punk rock Anti label and returned to Capitol for a couple of forgotten albums but his later albums were with Willie Nelson and the late George Jones, one of which was Kicking Out The Lights or Floodlights, one of the two titles.

Overall, Merle between 1965 and 1975 made some of the best country songs.  The misunderstood Okie From Muskogee, The Fighting Side Of Me, Sidewalks Of Chicago and Mama Tried are top notch songs.  Even the lesser known like It's All In The Movies, It's Not Love But It's Not Bad have a soft spot in my heart.  But while pundits poopooed Movin On, the TV theme for that forgotten show, I liked it fine.   Even Lynyrd Skynyrd covered his Honky Tonk Nighttime Man and should have covered The Old Man From The Mountain.

Yet again, the Grim Reaper is working overtime this year and being a musician seems to be on top of that list of people saying goodbye.  With the passing of Merle Haggard, old time country and western is falling by the wayside, replaced by garbage from the likes of Kane Brown and maybe Merle seen enough of Bro Country White Trash just to say the hell with it all.   The old man from the mountain has returned home once again.


From Charlie Daniels:

I was in the recording studio working on an album on April 6 when I received a text from my manager with only one line.

“Merle Haggard has died.”

I immediately shared it on Twitter and almost as immediately, Paula, our publicist, started receiving calls from media outlets looking for reaction about Merle's death from industry people, and within an hour or so we had the first of three TV crews who came out to tape interviews.

Such was the stature of Merle Haggard in Music City and the music community in general and as the entertainment reporters scrambled to get something together for the early news, I had occasion to express the way I feel about the Hag, the legend that he was, the songs he wrote and sang and the long shadow he cast over American music for five decades.

You can count on your fingers the number of people in country music who reached the status of being recognized by just their first name. Elvis, Hank, Loretta, Willie, Dolly, Garth, and a precious few others ever breathed that rarified air and Merle was one of them. When you said Merle, anybody who knew the least thing about country music knew who you were talking about.

You could hear one of his songs you'd never heard and after you'd listened to the first line you knew it was Merle.

Now, just how many modern day singers can you say that about today. In this homogenized, cookie cutter, copycat affair that the mainstream record business has become, Merle was always recognizable, a breath of fresh water among the stale atmosphere of modern day country music.
Merle wrote and sang in a style and vocabulary that was understood by the common man and like Hank Williams and George Jones, held a special place in their hearts, a "he's one of us" type place, that transcended the artist-Fan relationship.

People truly loved Merle and related to the heartbreak, hard drinking, outlaw songs he sang like nobody else could.

He inspired at least two generations of aspiring country singers and up until the recent country rap, “bro country” or whatever the title du jour came along, you could hear a little bit of Merle in the vocal style of a lot of young country singers.

To say Merle lived a full and sometimes tumultuous life would be an understatement. He was married five times and there seems to be a gray area as to whether he did or did not spend time in prison.
He always kept a top-notch band and traveled the country right up until his health wouldn't allow him to get on the bus and head down the road anymore, and I'm sure that had to be one of the saddest days of his life.

I remember the first rime I ever saw him, some 48 or so years ago. He knocked my socks off. The simplistic style of the music the band played behind him emphasized the lyrics he was singing in that one of a kind voice, no tricks, no gimmicks, no musical acrobatics, just four guys and Merle putting out a sound that hit you right in the part of your heart where your emotions live.

Merle's individuality and unique style will leave a gap in country music, a gap that cannot be filled by anybody, present or future.

The Lord only made one Merle Haggard.

Rest in peace, sir and thank you for the music that will set the standard for many years to come.

In 1978, Merle Haggard played at a Texas bar that had the Sex Pistols come through town and played a gig, there's a website that documents that turn of events:

And now Dennis Davis, drummer for David Bowie's Station To Station album has passed away too!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Week In Review: Motorboat, Julie And The Mad Dogs, More 45s

Friday Night was Motorboat's farewell to Tiffany Zweibohmer.  Tiffany who's going to school to get her P H D is relocating to LaCrosse with her hubby Eric.  Basically I told that story in a earlier blog and actually set aside Friday Night to go to North Liberty and the J & A Tap.  It was standing room only as Motorboat's set list included a lot of the 90s alternative rockers and a few curveballs.  In my opinion since coming out of retirement that Tiffany remains one of the best drummers out there, she plays loud, in fact she almost rivals me in terms of laying down a loud pounding beat but she can also sing.  The highlights was Tiffany taking Taylor Swift's Shake It Off and turn it into a Pat Benatar type of hard rocker that bares no resemblance to the original.

 But then again how many bands can you think of that still plays Tubthumper from Chumbawamba and make it rock and roll.  Of course her old bandmates from Blue Scratch paid her a visit,  Jay Dean and Jeorgia Robison  for a mini reunion of sorts.  For the first time anyplace my co worker Dan Moyer showed up, he is friends with the Motorboat guys.

It was nice to chat with Tiffany for a spell, she even mentioned about wanting to do Crazy Train sometime in the future with maybe 50 Shades Of Rock.   I wish her well in the future and I'll leave a chapter open should she venture down here from Wisconsin, male or female, she's still one of the best drummers out there.  Motorboat will play this Friday at Checkers Tavern with new drummer Chad Grimm taking over.  As for Tiffany, she'll be with 50 Shades Of Rock April 16 in Muscatine as Mississippi Brewing Company, and Bierstube Moline at Moline Illinois April 30th.  Catch them when you can.

Julie And The Mad Dogs played their first gig since January and it was back at Knucklehead's   Julie Gordon has been very busy playing in Blue Scratch and The Acoustic Kitties but in her own little group, she shows that she's a rock and roll girl.  While the Anamosa crowd was a bit sparse at the beginning more folks came after the Adult Prom was over and there was no shortage of party animal drunks although one dude crashed into the microphone thus getting the evil eye from the band members.  A continuation of Julie's birthday party bash (she had one Wednesday Night at Checker's Acoustic Jam),  one of her friends made her a interesting looking jello caster.  The Mad Dogs set list is a bit more varied than the usual bar band faves, but any band that can do Cinnamon Girl, War Pigs, Fairies Wear Boots and Tom Waits gets creative points from me and kudos.   And plenty of guest stars too, Julie is very liberal minded to give her friends from jam sessions and other bands to appear on a couple songs.  Dakota McWhorter continues to get better with each gig that he plays, replacing the departed Kyle Oyloe, to which Julie did a tribute song in his honor, and for a youngster who wasn't even born most of the songs, he held his own on the classic rock numbers.  For a rhythm section Kevin Michael and Mike Serbousek  do rock and roll with the best of them.  It got a bit interesting when Mike decided to do a quick bar hop during the break, to which a search party was mounted and quickly got him back into the fold after the Kyle Oyloe tribute song was over and done.  However, Mike did take over the lead for Johnny B Goode to which the guest drummer was so wild and kept dropping drumsticks that he was down to just playing with one drumstick before the song was over and done.   It was heard that he did a fairly good job keeping the beat with one drumstick, but I don't think he was up there to do a Rick Allen style of playing.  Certainly one of the best gigs that I have been to and Happy Birthday Julie once again.

So it wasn't a April's Fool joke and Guns And Roses reunion with Slash and Duff came true at the Troubadour.

Donald Trump has his haters, they're thinking of removing of his walk of fame star.  They shouldn't never included him in the first place.

Despite the no pictures policy, you can tell some fans managed to take some shots of the group in action.  Of course I didn't expect a full flown reunion, Izzy Stradlin basically is retired and Stephen Adler is always MIA, he was rumored to be a guest star but wasn't there.  But as long as Slash and Duff remain in good standing, the band will have tour dates coming up. That should make the folks at Blabbermouth happy (and many other rock sites).  I have no use for GnR but here's a nice review of GnR's Not In This Lifetime Tour.  I figured as long as everybody's alive they would get back togeher, just like you did.

All these band  gigs and I still managed to find a collection of 45s at the most unlikely of places, the SW Cedar Rapids Goodwill which usually is picked apart. And should make a very interesting mini Singles Going Steady this week.   It brings new meaning to the word record hoarding.  I also paid a visit to a resale store that had a few vintage 45s and CDs.  Beware, the place doesn't price their stuff and I balked at paying five dollars for pop singles but they threw in a Gold Disc of The Searchers on Mobile Fidelity for 20 dollars.   If it plays it's the bargain of the week.

Popcorn Jam was with the Saloonatics once again, third time in six weeks.  Highlights were Tim Wiley putting aside his differences with the gang and jamming on a few numbers.  Yours truly got to play the old Kansas chestnut Carry On Wayward Son and would have nailed it, had the old dropping the drumstick trip happened once again.  Seth Williams, the 17 year old, drummed on the majority of the songs and Ernest The Soul Man, tried to teach him how to play The Twist.  With me being in band mode nowadays I tend to play a bit louder and rougher and hope I didn't destroy Kim Bean's electric drums this time out.  On Flirting With Disaster, I bailed.  I need to play acoustic drums for that and I wasn't about to do yet another Rick Allen trick and play one handed once again.  I'm getting mighty tired of that.  Kudos to Barth Walter for excellent bass playing work.

Chris Stapleton has been the toast of Nashville music and on the ACM's he won 4 awards, including best album of the year, song of the year with Nobody to Blame, Best New Male Vocalist of the year and Best New Male Vocalist.   Poor Cam didn't win any awards although she was up for four of them.  To appease the Bro Country crowd, Jason Aldean  was entertainer of the year,  country ditz Kelsea Ballerini won best new female artist over Cam (can't figure that one out), Florida Georgia Line Duo Of The Year and best new artist, Old Dominion to which Farce The Music will be hacking up goobers on that.  Miranda Lambert won best Female Vocalist Of The Year and Vocal Event Of The Year with Smoking and Drinking with Little Big Town, who unlike the ACA's of last season, Girl Crush didn't sway the ACM. Thomas Rhett got Single of the year, with Die A Happy Man.  An upset so to speak and Eric Church Mr Misunderstood won Video Of The Year.   A shining moment was Martina McBride and Darius Rucker paying tribute to the recently departed Joey Feek, which just about compensate for the bad taste in the viewer's mouth of FGL and Old Dominion winning awards and of course, Mr Aldean who didn't win the douchebag of the year award, that went to Brantley Gilbert.

Villanova's Kris Jenkins sank a three point basket with no time left to propel Villanova to a three point victory over North Carolina 77-74 in what might be one of the greatest games ever for Championship Basketball.  Hometown hero Marcus Page tied the game with 4 seconds left with his own three before Villanova took it down court and passed to Jenkins for a desperation three pointer, which it did go in.  For the top rated Tar Heels, this was a very tough game to lose and even Roy Williams ended up in tears after the game.  The way Villanova played through the tournaments, they were not going to lose, even blowing Oklahoma back to Norman with a 95-51 win.  Already the pundits who can't wait for October to roll around has placed Duke at number 1 in the preseason top 25.   That's pushing it boys.

And baseball season started as the Chicago Cubs shut out Anaheim 9-0. Jake Arrieta and Travis Wood combined to shut the A's out and Miguel Montero hit the first home run of the season.  Good thing Dexter Fowler came back, he scored three runs.  Matt Schzur drove in three runs with a double in the 9th inning.  It's always good to start out with a win and the Cubs have done that.  Here's hoping they'll continue to win throughout the season.

The St Louis World Naked Bike Ride happens on July 16 this year.  I'm curious to consider making the trip to participate but chances are that I'll remain fully clothed for this.

From the stupid department: Donald Trump still leads the GOP, Sarah Palin continues to say everything stupid and Theodore Rafael Cruz is your worst nightmare.

Passings: Andy Newman, the piano player for Thunderclap Newman passed away at age 74.  The band recorded one album for Track called Hollywood Dream and best known for Something In The Air.

And American Idol is now history.  Thank you William Huang for the return.


CHEAP TRICK-Bang, Zoom, Crazy....Hello! (Big Machine 2016)

No Bon E Carlos, no Cheap Trick they say.  Course Daxx Neilsen is no Bun E. (but then again nobody is like Bun E. Carlos)  but on this new album, Daxx doesn't have to contend with cheesy ballads either.  Julian Raymond (Fastball, Pistoleros, Glen Campbell) has always had a power pop side to him that benefitted bands before, without him Fastball would be nobodies.  He worked with Cheap Trick before, the last album I believe but he cowrites most of the songs with the guys.  And for the first time since Heaven Tonight, Cheap Trick finally makes an album that is a worthy listen all the way through.  In their storied career they tend to try my patience even on their better albums (the self titled, Dream Police, In Color), but on Bang Zoom etc, every song is straight ahead rock and roll, with some power pop thrown in between.  Kinda wished they would have made the cover version of The In Crowd a bit longer or at least fade it out.  And it's been a while since they rocked as hard as they do on Blood Red Lips or even Long Time No See Ya.  While Cheap Trick fans do bitch about the lack of the original drummer, Daxx Neilsen is very good in his own style and it fits with the riffs of Rick Neilsen.  Even though they are on the label of Scott Borchetta, and he has to plaster his name underneath the credits, at least he's not there to pair them up with FGL or Locash.  This is their best record since Heaven Tonight.
Grade A-

With Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello, the Rockford, Illinois, foursome sticks to what they know: anthemic, melodic rock. The key elements have been in place since their self-titled 1977 debut: Robin Zander's powerful lead vocals, often doubled (an octave higher) by guitarist Rick Nielsen; Nielsen's mock-heroic (yet underrated) guitar abilities; Tom Petersson's thunderous, eight-string bass and Bun E. Carlos' solid-as-rock drumming. But — 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction notwithstanding — Bun's gone, replaced by Nielsen's son Dax. The difference is subtle but real, and something important has been lost. Some songs sound like rewrites: The intro to "When I Wake Up Tomorrow" echoes "Tonight It's You." The album offers nothing as immortal as anything they did in their early days (though "No Direction Home" comes close), but Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello is still a solid if unspectacular addition to the group's catalog. — Bill Kopp

BLACK STONE CHERRY-Kentucky (Mascot 2016)

For a band seeking creative freedom from being under the Roadrunner banner, they haven't changed very much if at all.  As far as I'm concerned Folklore And Superstition is their high water mark, with their debut a close second.  Number 3 they tried their best to crack modern rock radio and that failed and on number 4 even went so low to include Nashville hack songwriters The Warren Brothers on a song or two.  In a plus, BSC is still more melodic than Five Finger Death Punch, but on a negative side, BSC creates a lot of noisy guitars and don't say very much.  They borrow from Soundgarden quite a bit, Chris Robertson growls and scream like Chris Cornell and The Wave Of The Future or Shakin My Cage could pass as Badmotorfinger ear Soundgarden.  There's a bit of old gospel soul to the beginning of Rescue Me before the guitars start blaring through.  And of course for a cover, they dusted off War, which might be the most powerful track on that album.  But for the original songs, we have heard them all before and in better versions.   Five albums in, BSC is not going to change their style, and it's still from the Bob Marlette way of arranging songs, in heavy riffing after the first chorus and verse, the second slows down and then blares back up or simply going into the lead.  Sometimes I think Bob Marlette has done more harm than good on the bands he produces. For Kentucky it's the band that produces themselves (with David Barrick co producing and not Marlette but Marlette's touch is on this album).  One of the more anticipated albums has turned into one of the bigger disappointments but at least they'll still more listenable then most of their modern rock buddies.  But not by much.  And the Best Buy extras didn't help either.
Grade C

JOE JACKSON-British Live Performance Series (Rainman 2015)

While Joe Jackson is not too keen on live performances that he didn't authorize (
his original band really did rock and roll with the best of them.  He's right that the first disc of the live 1979-1986 2 CD best of shows a great band.  While BLPS may not be the best of the bunch, it is a step up from those awful Concert Classics Series that Renaissance continues to keep in print.  This brief 9 song set from 1981 has 5 tracks from Beat Crazy, Jackson's problematic 1980 album which shows the band at the crossroads but these live versions are actually good and Mad At You sounds more angry than the studio version ever did, as well as Fit.  Jackson goes bombastic on his hit single Is She Really Going Out With Him, which borrows more of the melody from Ace's How Long and the over the top ending gets annoying.  But what the Joe Jackson Band could do was straight ahead punk rock as indicated with I'm The Man and Don't Wanna Be Like That and the herky jerky rhythm of Beat Crazy the song.  Despite the so so recording, this album does show that out of all the bands and styles Joe Jackson has done, his original band remains the best.  For further proof, seek out Afterlife, their 2004 reunion live album. And Joe Jackson does have a point, the sound of this CD is awful.
Grade C+

DICK HYMAN-Moon Gas (with Mary Mayo)/Moog-The Electric Eclectics Of Dick Hyman (Omni 2015)

At age 89, Hyman continues to play off and on in various jazz piano configurations, but his two best known albums recently got reissued via Omni.  Moon Gas, originally recorded for MGM is what is known as Space Age Lounge Jazz argument-ed by  the sassy vocal styling of Mary Mayo.  The title track and Space Reflex (Blues in 5/4) somewhat sounds like Dave Brubeck O'Ding on Sun Ra and while Mayo does add some nice vocals on the jazz standards of Bye Bye Blues and Isn't It Odd, the record does go a bit too closely to muzak space jazz.  Moog on the other hand reveals the seeds of electronic music to the point that it may have influenced Kraftwerk and Neu! and Keith Emerson judging by the 8 and half minute The Minotaur, which Emerson may have used for inspiration for the ending of Lucky Man.  Amazingly there was a 7 minute edited version that may its way on 45 and did play on some FM underground stations.  Certainly the other side of the 45 The Topless Dancers Of Corfu lies between Ummagumma Pink Floyd, the Silver Apples  and early Tangerine Dream.  Although the album is Hyman experimenting different sounds and noises on the moog, the record is nothing like you heard before,  close to Sun Ra but not as going into deep other space as when Sun Ra gets going.   Two bonus cuts are taken from the second Command album The Age Of Electronicus, the outrageous cover of Turn It Up Or Turn It Loose and Kolumbo, which could be Minotaur Part 2 although not as interesting.  MGM did have Moon Gas out on a stereo LP but the masters have been lost, so you got the mono version instead.  Moog is the better of the two albums but both make a nice buy should you want to hear space age lounge jazz or hear how Keith Emerson got influenced by the latter album (Moog).
Grade B+

NEAL SCHON-Late Night (Columbia 1989)

Speaking of Bob Marlette, here's Bobby in one of his early productions, a bombastic, new age, full of echo bunch of hooey featuring Neal away from Journey.  As much I like Neal as a guitarist, Late Night is everything gone wrong and although Neal gets part of the blame, most of it falls under Bob Marlette who helped produced, arranged and mixed part of the album.  Most of the songs on Late Night would have sounded perfect for Miami Vice and not all the album is bad. Softly and I'll Be Waiting is somewhat listenable and the 8 minute The Theme featuring Steve Smith formerly of Journey but playing under his own band Vital Information sits on drums.  The problem is that when Schon gets to singing, he ends up more like Richard Marx rather than Greg Rolie or even Steve Perry.  Another problem is the don't yell at me soul sisters that ruin two songs, most notably Smoke Of The Revolution featuring one Sheryl Crow,  her all time worst backing singing songs ever.  Marlette's liberal use of dated keyboards and the album sounds like it was recorded in a cave.   Schon tries the rebound the Crow debacle with two new age fusion songs.  A shame that Steve Smith wasn't around to play drums, Omar Hakim sounds out of his league on those songs.  A double shame that Bob Marlette continues to get employment after this trainwreck of an album.
Grade C-

Singles Going Steady Medley:

Whole Lotta Shakin Going On-Conway Twitty (MGM K-12962)  1960  #55

I suspect Conway was more of a rockabilly pop star than the country maverick that he would later be. One of those 5 dollar specials that I just have to have.  It's actually a pretty good version if you think about it.  B side The Flame is something akin to Elvis' It's Now Or Never or Toni Fisher's The Big Hurt , but with more hokey string arrangements.

Itchin'-Jimmy Jones (Cub K-9076)  1960

Jones had two top ten hits with Handy Man and Good Timin, but Itchin' didn't chart at all, probably on the local charts or bubbling under.  I suppose the pop arrangement didn't help much.  The B side is a reworded version of Old McDonald aka EE I EE OH!  (Sue McDonald).  Cheesy.

Put Your Hand In The Hand-Ocean (Kama Sutra  KA-519)  1971  #2

In 1971 you could not escape this song.  It made number 1 for a couple weeks at KCRG.  One of those hippy Jesus songs that people would sing, even in our mixed chorus class we were forced this song upon us.  I recall there was a bunch of hippies that had a old 39 Ford pickup, with Jesus Saves in big block letters on the side and they would play this song as well.  It does have that nice backbeat that worked for The Band, Up On Cripple Creek.  You seldom hear this on radio anymore, even on Oldies it's not played all that much.    B side is one of those Get Together songs.

For Now And For Always-George Hamilton IV (ABC Paramount 45-9898) 1957 #25

ABC Paramount had George has a teen idol pop star, but this song seems to suggest a more country sound, despite Don Costa adding syrupy backing singers. This would be George's last top 25 chart showing for ABC Whatever, as frequent releases got further down the top 100.  B side One Heart is somewhat the song that Mitch Miller would get from his artists had George recorded for Columbia.  A nice pop teen idol song that wouldn't feel out of place on a Guy Mitchell or Frankie Avalon record. This copy the label needs to be glued back on.

Just Married-Marty Robbins (Columbia 4-41193)  1958   #26

Certainly Marty started out as country, but he had pop and rockabilly leanings and pestered Mitch Miller to do more of a pop sound, so Miller paired him up with Ray Conniff.  Part rockabilly, part pop due to the Conniff arrangement and that famed Columbia echo that made these records fun to listen to.  B side  Stairway To Love (#68) has Mitch Miller's signature sound all over it, all down to the bomp bomp bomps.   For a almost 60 year old 45, this plays very well.  Usually Columbia 45s are as cheaply made as possible but this is a rare exception to the rule.

White Sliver Sands-The Lennon Sisters/Pete Fountain  (Brunswick  9-55013)  1957

As we become more into Grandpa's music, let it be known that there's an interconnection between Lawrence Welk and The Lennon Sisters, Welk did record for Coral, whereas The Lennon Girls did this one on Brunswick although I think Pete Fountain was the major star of that label and got the girls on that label.  This is Dixieland pop for sure.  B side One Day A Little Girl is typical Lawrence Welk type pop.  Despite what the label says, Pete Fountain is not on this track, unless he's on the intro and end notes.

The Shelter Of Your Eyes-Don Williams (JMI-12)  1972

Don was part of the Pozo Seco Singers before striking out on his own and his early years he recorded for Jack Music Incorporated or JMI.  Even these early sides  you can hear that slow baritone on these soft ballads, such as the B side Playing Around, although Shelter Of Your Eyes has Don singing in a higher key.   Produced by an up and comer named Allan Reynolds who later go on to produce the likes of Emmy Lou Harris, Crystal Gayle and somebody named Garth Brooks.  Williams next single Come Early Morning had a B side called Amanda, which Waylon Jennings would score a top ten hit. Which is Don's version is just as good as Waylon.  Or Waylon knew enough of the arrangements to leave them be but add his own vocal style.

From Julie And The Mad Dogs

This will be the last season of Julie & The Mad Dogs. 
Our last gig on schedule for the summer is July 8th at Rumors. 
We have 6 gigs remaining: 
April 29th = Rumors-Cedar Rapids 
May 27th = Knuckleheads In Anamosa IA - Sharon Melville's Birthday Bash!!!
June 4th = CRL (Cedar River Landing-Cedar Rapids IA
June 25th = Hot shots-Anamosa 
July 8th = Rumors-Rumors C..R
Thank you ALL for your love and support. I hope to see as many friends/family as possible at these last few gigs heart emoticon heart emoticon heart emoticon as we finish out for the season in honor of Kyle Oyloe
**DO 'LIKE' our page if you haven't already - it was me & Kyle's hope to get over 500 'Likes' ..LoL.. I know that's silly but what can I sa ya gotta be silly now & then emoticon