Monday, May 2, 2016

Week In Review: Odds And Ends, Loud Drummers

The beginning of May and it feels like March.  Anyway, this month is our busy season so I will not be doing much reviewing or jamming in bands for at least a couple weeks.  But I have made plans to join on Tim Duffy's final Popcorn Jam as he moves to Georgia this month.  But in the meantime Tiffany Z has been hanging around here quite a few times, joining us once again for the Saloonatics 5th Popcorn Jam, and perhaps the final one.  The host drummer turned 50 shades of red, while yours truly was rocking out to some overplayed classic rock number and took exception on how the cymbals were gyrating and took away yours truly's drumsticks in the process.  Judging on past performances that I did do (and I have seen the video and pictures)  I'm sure his causes of concern were justified.  After the whole jam session, we had a good laugh and exchanged best of luck wishes. The host drummer remains a good guy, he's watching over his drumset like anybody would.  If he thought I was abusing his cymbals, wonder he thought when Rocky Smith came afterward and really make them things rock.   Afterwards, I'm positive that the host drummer might have hosted his last popcorn jam.   On another note, Terry McDowell will take over hosting the popcorn jam once Tim Duffy leaves, and Terry is a powerhouse drummer.   His drum set holds up after repeated bangings from previous popcorn jam sessions.   Next week, Brook Hoover, Dan Johnson and Jon Wilson will be the hosts with Tim Duffy.

Friday Night at Rumors, was Julie And The Mad Dogs playing to a small crowd, not like the one in Anamosa last month.  However they did work on the songs and this time out they almost had Fairies Wear Boots and War Pigs down just about right.  For somebody not even born when those songs came out Dakota McWhorter has turned into a nifty little guitar player.  For the most part, I did trade some drum talk with Mike Serbousek their drummer and he too plays in another band.  And lives in Monticello so I know there's two drummers that now live there, him and Dana Smith. 

While April is the time that temps go up, the end of the month was more like February going into March and Saturday I decided to brave the drizzle and the winds to see the Cedar Rapids Kernels play the South Bend Cubs. Really wasn't much of a game as South Bend took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, as Dereck Rodriguez couldn't find the strike zone and the Cubs managed to get two doubles in the process.   They never looked back.  The Cubs pitcher Alzolay no hit the Kernels for 4 and 1/3rd innings before CR got their first hit  and did score a run.  Kernels had a big chance to get back in the game, when Craig Brooks walked the first three Kernels to start the home half of the sixth inning but then struck out the next three batters and it was game over.  Most of the 1,237 paid attendance were either in the diamond suites or stayed home, the 237 shivered in the grand concourse, drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate and basically thinning out.  It didn't help that the game was played in a steady light rain, or that the Kernels bats were as cold as the weather.  They didn't even bother to play Sunday's game.  That was called due to rain and will not be made up anytime soon since Cedar Rapids doesn't play South Bend anymore this season.  In other words another fucked up time of having eastern division teams play the western teams for one series, usually in inclement weather in April.   Nice going guys.

Strange rumors going around.  Scott Stapp announced he's going to be Stone Temple Pilot's new singer.  The Stone Temple Pilots deny this and with good reason.  They don't need to cheapen themselves with the former Creed lead singer.  They already did that with Chester Bennington.  Perhaps it's time to hang STP up once and for all.

After a year and a half in business Fresh Markets is closing their doors in Cedar Rapids.  This company is based out of the South and I think they got some of the tax credits and grants to keep the store open long enough to reap the rewards and screw everybody else.  All of the locations in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Texas will close but you can always go down to the south to visit them.  In the meantime the CEO of Fresh Markets voted himself a nice pay raise too.  Asshole.

When you're washed up and have nothing left to say, you'll find ways to make news on the social media side of things. Sinead O'Connor has declared war on Arsenio Hall for saying he supplied drugs to Prince and laced her mary jane with a bit of PCP.   Hall responded by slapping a 5 million dollar lawsuit against her for libel and she told him to suck her hostess twinkie. I wouldn't be surprised if she did have one between her legs. Outside of that she does provide some sort of entertainment at her FB site and doesn't like Donald Trump.  On a related subject Caitlyn Bruce Jenner announced he/she will be posing nude for a magazine just to let you know he/she is still around. 

Whether you like it or not, Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee after Rafael Theodore Cruz hung it up after Trump whopped him in Indiana.  And basically this has become the nightmare nobody wanted to see.  After years of Tea baggery, Koch Industries tampering and just basic no nothing procedures from career fucks like Charles Grassley and Mitch Idiot McConnell, it has mutated into this.  The guy filed for bankruptcy four times and still managed to give us shitty reality crap and blowhard chest pounding and perhaps running for GOP may have been a inside joke to the Donald but no more.  If anything, getting Rafael Cruz out of the way and having him drop out  is a good thing, Cruz is a whacko who managed to piss everybody off by reading books to his daughters while the government was in shutdown mode a couple years ago.   Trump is right when he says the elections are rigged, on the other hand, Trump never served in a war and he's all for wars if he gets in.   On the other side it's Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Clinton will probably win out.  At this point they need to work together to ensure that the Donald doesn't get in to be POTUS.  We do not need any sort of a Trump presidency.  You might be staring at World War 3 if he does get in.  And on a side note, John Kasich threw in the towel.  Trump is the last man standing.   Unless Gary Johnson gets more involved.

Gene Hanson, decided to pay tribute to Prince by plowing his field into the symbol that Prince used.  It's most likely not to be up very long but he did managed to take the photo of this field.  Photo is by him.


Dave Trupaino didn't think much of my comment about Hey Soul Sister playing in the supermarket, so the Train fan told me to shop somewhere else.   Thanks for your concern about my well being.  Train thanks you for sticking up for them too.  Next up, Smashmouth.

In This Corner: More Record Reviews

Outrageous Cherry-Supernatural Equinox (Rainbow Quartz 2003)

Matthew Smith also plays in Volebeats, a pop rock Americana type of band but he's better known for this band that fuses The Velvet Underground/Jesus And Mary Chain/The Cowsills and sunshine 60's pop.  I have reviewed four of O.C. albums and all have good moments but they also have a lot of sub par moments and this one is no exception.   Smith does give Matthew Sweet a run for the money with the backwards guitar solo which he does about four or five times.  The good: when Smith keeps the songs under 3 minutes they work best.  Saturday Afternoon is that lost 60s classic done for the 2000s and it's a shame that Smith didn't go with that more often.  The bad: they show their Velvet Underground indulgence on the 8 minute closer See You Next Time or the 6 minutes of Psychic Wheels which shows that Hawkwind is much better for this type of music that O.C. tries to do.   By all means it's not a bad album, If You Want Me and Girl You Have Magic Inside Of You along with Saturday Afternoon are the highlights.  Problem is, for a 51 minute album, there's not enough of those highlights to justify this for more than a couple plays.  And even The Velvet Underground tends to overstay their welcome on the less inspired or more experimental numbers.   I'm sure Outrageous Cherry does have a classic album in them.  But it's not this one.
Grade B-

Eddie Harris-Jazz For Breakfast At Tiffany's (Vee Jay 1961)

Interesting idea, take Henry Mancini's soundtrack to said movie and turn it into a jazz album and Harris has done it before, Exodus comes to mind.  That record went gold and the stuffy jazz critics cried sellout.  Still, Harris, time at Vee Jay did managed to come up with some good to great jazz albums (A Study In Jazz, Bossa Nova) and Jazz for Breakfast At Tiffany's is a solid affair.  Harris's backing band is fairly unknown but Willie Pickens really adds some progressive type of piano work on Something For Cat and Hub Caps And Tail Lights reminds me of Frito Bandido commercial of yesterday.  Of course, Harris had to do his version of Moon River and the title track although I tend to favor Breakfast At Tiffany's more than Moon River.  Some great vibraphone work from Charles Stempley too.  You had to hand it to Eddie Harris, who took each and every song here seriously and gave them a fresh perspective and a good counterpoint to Mr. Mancini's soundtrack.  Worth seeking it if you're into jazz.
Grade B+

The Rock Album (K-Tel 1980)

In tribute to the late great K Tel dude, I managed to dust off this 1980 comp for old times sake and really The Rock Album precedes the Time Life Sounds Of The 70s and Dazed And Confused S/T by about a decade.  Of course, the Time Life Sounds Of The 70s sounds much better (as does Dazed And Confused) the major labels probably gave K Tel poorly mixed versions of the hits, hell Dream Police by Cheap Trick you have to turn the volume way up.  Surprisingly, most of the complete versions of the hits are here, Two Tickets To Paradise, Don't Fear The Reaper, More Than A Feeling, Lovin Touchin Squeezing.  There are edits,  Carry On Wayward Son and Dirty White Boy are 45 edits and Too Rolling Stoned by Robin Trower does fade out before Trower does his lead on the second part.   The other track you don't hear on radio much is Jethro Tull's Something's  On The Move and you can live without that.  Or Too Rolling Stoned for that matter, the rest of the songs still remain in regular rotation on THE FOX.   From Don't Let Me Down to Hold The Line, The Rock Album is a snapshot of radio of 1979 thereabouts and while I don't see a need for this in any other form, it's perhaps the best put together of K Tel albums of that time.  For 7.99 it was cheaper than buying the forty fives.  However on the down side, the poorly mastered sound has rendered this album useless.  To which you're free to make your own rock album by purchasing the Sounds Of The Seventies and garner the songs off there to your own mixcd. Or perhaps your own mix tape.  To which most of us did way back then.  Before CDs and the internet changed things for the better.....or worse.
Grade B

Ozzy Osbourne-Speak Of The Devil (Jet 1983)

This stop gap tribute to Black Sabbath stems from Brad Gillis, on loan from Night Ranger to take over for Randy Rhodes and Gillis does a fine job recreating that Black Sabbath guitar sound, although his whammy bar tends to drags things down a bit.  Certainly Ozzy has the right to revisit his Sabbath roots since he wrote the lyrics  to them all and he's always been the showman star, lotsa of Let me see your hands, and I Love you all or God Bless you all and at that time no F bombs to speak of.  A kind and more gentle time before then eh?  Tommy Aldridge provides power behind the drums, a bit more subdued than Bill Ward would ever been.  A couple of curve balls thrown, Iron Man goes into Children Of The Grave and Ozzy even dusts off  Never Say Die and The Wizard too.   I'm sure there have been better Ozzy live albums but Speak Of The Devil is probably the best of them all.  It certainly rocks harder than the original Sabbath Reunion album of 1996. And let that be written down for history's sake.
Grade B+

Samantha Fish-Wild Heart (Ruf 2015)

Perhaps her most varied album, this is where she goes for the contemporary MOR sound that Bonnie Raitt favored, this time out Luther Dickerson (North Mississippi All Stars) produces her in the rough down in Memphis at Ardent and Willie Mitchell studios for that down home blues.  While I was on board for her first two albums, Wild Heart just doesn't really do much for me.  At her best (Turn It Up, Road Runner) Samantha shows she's killer at the uptempo rock and blues that made Runaway a fun record to listen to.  At her least, she tends to go middle of the road and just doesn't convince me that acoustic blues is the way to go  (Go Home).  But even at her least, she has enough blues knowledge to be somewhat convincing if you're in the mood for middle of the road slow blues.   I hope some day Thomas Ruf will let her record an album with her live band.  Wild Heart is not bad but it is a letdown after the first two.  Perhaps Brady Blake would consider getting better cymbals to fit the mood next time too.
Grade B-

Goo Goo Dolls-Boxes  (WB 2016)

It's one thing to rid yourself of the drummer that kept the band in a rock and roll mode, it's another trying to stay relevant.  With Mike Matalin gone, John and Robbie have become Mumford and Sons light and whatever they used to be.  Superstar Car Wash and A Boy Named Goo, that band doesn't exist anymore.  In their 40s John and Robbie are desperately trying to fit into a musical world that has left them back in the past.   They got lucky with Dizzy Up The Girl, when they turned into emo Journey, the biggest misstep was the Glen Ballard fart Let Love In, but the last two albums did have a decent song or two or three to keep them on the shelves. Boxes however is even too pompous for them, big arousing chorus, stop start beats and plenty of new age keyboard and EDM beats to bullshit their way to thinking they mean something anymore.  At this point they don't although lead off track Over And Over (which would have made a better album title since GGD repeat themselves over and over) is listenable.   And the rest of the album, the songs don't stand out and worse, Robby's songs which were the most rock and rolling, has now succumbed to the Mumford and Sons bash and ball and really Boxes doesn't really have a true rock and roll song on this.  To which at this point, I have given up on them to ever return back to their alt rock roots ever again.  Boxes is not their worst album though, that honor still goes to Let Love In, and for 40 somethings they could do a decent new agey dance pop album if Johnny didn't sound so damn bored.   But I'm not into new agey dance pop.  So long guys.  It's been good to know ya.
Grade C

Album Of My Years: Dire Straits-Brothers In Arms (Mercury 1985)

Strange how Dire Straits best selling album of the 1980s was a disappointment.   Certainly Mark Knopfler was beginning to take over the band with each new album. Beginning with Making Movies, The Straits begin to extend their songs to almost epic timings;  the jury is still out on Tunnel Of Love but I always loved Telegraph Road, all 13 and a half minutes of it.  Love Over Gold remains the best of the latter day Straits albums, Brothers In Arms managed to be more successful with Money For Nothing, which balloons over 8 minutes the long version complete the derogatory F word, which I Heart Radio has banned, all stations do play the edited version.  Problem is while the songs are not bad, the over 5 minute mark for songs like So Far Away and Why Worry, which wears out its welcome halfway through.  And the long version do get tedious after a while.   Basically a waste of using Terry Williams who did great things with Rockpile and Man, but here, he's simply a hired hand on Money For Nothing.   Crank critic Robert Christgau compares Dire Straits to a blues Emerson, Lake And Palmer, not exactly right but substitute Greg Lake for Randy Newman and he might be right.  Even if Christgau has no use for Brothers In Arms, he did give it a B minus, probably on Money For Nothing alone.  I am tempted to give this album a straight B grade just like I did when I first encountered this album.  But the songs go on for so long that in the end I have to agree with Christgau on that B minus grade and when Warner Brothers remastered the CD in the late 1990s, they did improve on the sound quality of the cd.  First generation CDs you have to turn the player up full blast to hear everything, the recording is just about being there in the studio.   But when you're forced to hear the whole 8 minutes of Why Worry, it might put you to sleep.  And even the lesser known songs tend to meander all over the place, Walk Of Life or not.  Despite against the odds, Mark Knopfler and company managed to get on that MTV when MTV was playing videos and not bullshit reality garbage or B grade rap movies.  And Mark was laughing all the way to the bank and a video that captured the moment of an anti MTV old fart guitarist.   That ain't working indeed.  It's called luck, and a decent hook, and help from a certain Gordon Summer.
Grade B-


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