Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Week In Review: Ali RIP, Some things, Other Things

Another slow news week here.  The main story of Muhammad Ali passing away at age 74 from Parkinson's.  Basically most the news was positive although the usual chicken hawks bitching about him not fighting the Vietnam War, another pointless war.  Ali was the greatest fighter that I have known, but his Rope A Dope eventually got him too many hits upside the head and he paid for it.  In his heyday he could whoop anybody's butt, Joe Frazier and the George Foreman. The Thrilla in Manilla with Frazier was very very taxing boxing event for both Smokin Joe and Ali, but Ali prevailed.  Ali lost and then beat Leon Spinks in 1978, to be the three time champion but alas his 1980 brutal beating at the hands of Larry Holmes ended Ali's career, although he would fight one more time in 1981 and lose to Trevor Berbick.   While Ali had 34 years of living with Parkinson's, he remained one of the most loved athletics ever, up to his death Al remained a gracious and good man.

Bretagne, the last remaining rescue dog that helped rescuers during 9/11 passed away from old age, she was 16 and died Wednesday.

Goldie Howe, Mr Hockey or the George Blanda of hockey passed away at age 88 Thurday.  He played many years for The Detroit Red Wings and later the Hartford Wailers.

Christine Grimmie, announced on her FB site that she was playing Orlando Friday and she did.  After a meet and greet autograph session, some fucking asshole shot her dead (and then the pussy shooter shot himself-sigh) after her show. Grimmie was on The Voice in 2014 and made a couple videos on You Tube that the world took notice. I'll never know why the hell the fucking asshole shooter came into the venue with 2 guns, but yet another tragic situation that will not go away and will repeat itself time and time again.  She was 22.

Saturday Night was spent at Cedar River Landing with Julie And The Mad Dogs, but before that, Lita Ford, Ratt and Bret Michaels played outdoors in downtown Cedar Rapids.  A monsoon opened up drenching most of the crowd on Lita's set but I managed to hang around after the rain and caught about half of Ratt's setting.  I guess Bobby Blotzer is the sole remaining Ratt dude and at this point they are a tribute band, the lead singer wasn't all that great and even for outdoors Ratt was very loud.  From what I heard, Bret's finale was the highlight.   Down in Iowa City, the Arts festival was underway, and The Wood Brothers played but I passed on that and just went into Stuff Etc and Goodwill to see if I could find anything of value CD wise.  Not much, and not a single 45 was found anywhere.  But somebody had a beginner's drum set complete for 350 dollars that I almost bought.  And still might if it's there the next time I go through town.  I might need it for my next job.

And yes, my place of employment is laying more people off again, despite winning some new contracts and I guess it's bound that our wonderful company will close their doors once and for all in a few years, our CEO has no concept of how to run a business and job cuts will be all across the board.   I'm basically of this gun to our head bullshit, just pull the fucking trigger and we'll be happy to live off our severance for a year.  The prize after 28 years of dealing with this sort news ever since Russ Gaglardi sold us off in 1999.  I'm surprised I have given half a century of working at one place. I didn't see that happening at all.

Sunday Popcorn Jam went on as advertised.  Mostly dominated by drummers taking the stage and singing songs.  Tom Miller from Past Masters did a few Elvis songs with me on drums, I sang Born To Be Wild with Terry McDowell on drums and Ernest the soul man showed up, still mad at me for not dropping everything and starting up a new band with him.   Can't win even while having fun playing drums on the weekends.

The Acousta Kitties celebrated a full year hosting the acoustic jam at Checkers once again Wednesday Night.  Lorie Parker, also took part of being guest host at CRL with The Mad Dogs and she's quite the showstopper, even showing the world of her new invention called the Boobarine. With Julie Jules Gordon taking the photo, Lorie demonstrates how the Boobarine works during live gigs.

Outside of that, there hasn't been much humor in the world it seems. We all are sick of politics, with Hillary and Donald (pinkie dink) Trump being the front-runners and  Bernie Sanders fans ready to write him in come November.  The above picture got me to comment about Ted Nugent and Rush Limpnoodle didn't fall through on them leaving when Obama became president, which some misguided woman mentioned that I was the just as responsible as the liberals for destroying the country.  Which got back a big HUH?! If I'm working for a living and paying taxes, how is it that I'm destroying the country?  Anyway, this woman cooled the attitude down and called herself a Fedupacrat and said she's tired of how this country is turning out.  Too much reality bullcrap and how social media blows up mindless rock stars and megalomaniacs that are running for president.  And people turning on one another.   It's not going to get any better anytime soon.  I'm sure she was prospecting quite well when Idiot 45 and Darth running things into the ground, but then again it's easier just to blame the black POTUS rather than the idiots in  the house and senate.  But also, the black POTUS hasn't exactly wowed me of late, especially on the TTP bullshit.  Things are quite ugly out there, climate change is either flooding things or scorching things and you can't drink the water due to oil spills.  One hopes that change can come around but maybe it's better off to have a meteor come in from outer space and destroy everything and have Mother Earth start all over again.  Just back in the days of the dinosaur.

Summer festivals are starting up: July 1st through the  3rd  has the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, main headliner Cash Box Kings play, and a few others. River Roots Live in Davenport 2016 on August 26-27 and features OAR, Booker T Jones and the guitar head lineup of Robben Ford, Lee Roy Parnell and Smoking Joe Robinson.  On July 9th, Sean Ryan and The Dawn do the second annual Dawn and On at the North Shore Inn and Marina in Moline.  The Dawn will have The Candymakers, Soap,  Winterland and a few others. More can be found at this link:

And oh yeah.  The World Naked Bike Ride coming to St Louis on July 16th. Maybe I'll see you there. Maybe I'll partake in the fun. May not have a job by then.

Record Reviews:

Traveling Wilburys-Volume 1  (Wilbury/Concord 1988)

Time has treated this album a lot better almost 30 years later although Roy Orbison would not live long to reap its rewards.  A super group with Roy, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison (RIP), Bob Dylan and last but not least Tom Petty, they had a couple top ten hits with End Of The Line and Handle With Care.  Orbison I can take or leave, his falsetto on Not Alone Any More noted. Outside of that, it's a strong album, with Bob Dylan coming up with on of his best songs of the 80's Tweeter And The Monkey Man, plus Congratulations and  Dirty World. Since Lynne and Harrison produced this, their sound at that time shapes the T Wilburys Volume 1.  Still sounds like a good time to me.
Grade A-

The Kossoy Sisters with Erik Darling-Bowling Green (Tradition 1956)

Murder ballads before Nick Cave and if you know your folk and bluegrass music, a lot of it back in the 40s and 50s were gory murder ballads.  Take for example the suicidal girl that takes her life in I Will Not Marry, or the jealous boyfriend killing their love interest in songs like  Poor Ellen Smith or Down In The Willow Garden.  And you really don't want to know what they want to do on What Will We Do With The Baby O.   There's songs about brutal trainwrecks too (Engine 143 and In The Pines) but for the most part this album is famous for I'll Fly Away, which was used in O Brother Wilt Are Thou, the movie that gave bluegrass music a new lease in life in the 2000s but the Kossoy Sisters' version was not used.  Perhaps after hearing all the murder ballads in between the title track, that I'll Fly Away should have ended this record rather than tacked on at track 3.   Even Nick Cave would get depressed after hearing the whole 14 songs here.
Grade B+

Dio-Metal Hits (Flashback/Rhino 2005)

If you have The Beast Of Dio, you don't need this but since my copy got ruined in the great flood of 2014, I found this companion for a couple dollars at the pawn shop.  Rainbow In The Dark remains an all time metal classic as well as The Last In Line,  and the two tracks taken from Strange Highways has Dio sounding more pissed off as ever (it was recorded after he left Sabbath on slightly acrimonious terms in 1992) and Evilution sounds angry and defiant. Of course Ronnie would return back to Sabbath as Heaven And Hell in 2008 and remained with them till his 2010 passing. Like any budget priced mix CD, there's questionable songs added on and Dream Evil has one too many selections, (Night People instead of I Could Have Been A Dreamer tsk tsk) and Sacred Heart has none.  In other words, another cheapo cheapo compilation that's worth a dollar if you find it used.
Grade B-

Smothers Brothers-Curb Your Tongue Knave! (Mercury 1963)

Another period piece that issued on CD in 2002, this probably was Tommy and Dickie's best selling album, although there are no shortage of Smothers Brothers LPs at the local thrift stores.  Tommy playing funny guy to Dick's straight, it's a lighthearted satire on songs, highlight Dick finally going bonkers on I Talk To The Trees and the hilarious Swiss Christmas.  Dated folk comedy but it is fun to revisit once in a while.
Grade B

The Townedgers-Light At The End Of The Tunnel (Maier 1996)

Given that the subpar drum mix that hinders the first two songs Return To Town's Edge and Late Night that this record doesn't scream out of the gate but rather stumbles but in the course of two decades on, this album's lesser known songs have taken on a more importance. At times, Rodney Smith's lyrics seem to be thrown together for alternative rock shock value but in the case of Late Night or Weak Moment the lack of focus has made the songs filler, although musically The Townedgers never sounded more into the songs, especially Smith's manic drumming.  It is the love songs that kept Light At The End Of The Tunnel afloat, especially later faves Listen To Love and Spark Of Life, as well as the underside of love gone wrong (Losing Game). Even surgery to removed a burst appendix didn't keep Smith from recording the album, he was back in the studio a week later to come up with the angry Borrowed Time.  For the sloppy fun of Railroaded, which managed to hit the top ten on the alternative rock charts, Smith's clumsy word play clashes with Geoff Redding's guitarwork but Keith Moon would have been proud.   While the album was a thinly disguised love letter to Smith's ex girlfriend  in Spark Of Life and Listen To Love, the rest of the album was also taking notes of the red flags beginning to pop up in his love life, nothing more revealing than the key cut of Know Your Man, to which the ex girlfriend was warned not to get too clingy or too jealous.  It's not a total blood stained love songs as suggested, but there was some sort of trouble in paradise.
Grade B

Album from my youth: Bob Seger-Night Moves (Capitol 1976)

It's a Midwestern thing I guess but I tend to think that Night Moves was a better album from my high school years than Born To Run, the title track was one of those couples dance that you try to find somebody in your high school class only to choose a freshman, which was my best friend's sister.  It's no secret that Bob Seger was one of the hardest rocking dudes out there, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, Noah, Lucifer, even most of Smokin' OPs showed that Seger knew how to rock.  While classic rock radio shoves Turn The Page down our throats (the live version), the little known Back In 72 version was much better, but it was on Reprise and Seger never shown much interest of reissuing that album, nor the acoustic driven and bland Brand New Morning.  Live Bullet saved him from being dumped on his second Capitol go around and for the reward, Seger came up with Night Moves, a very potent album about growing up and growing old, as lead off track Rock And Roll Never Forgets, about when sweet sixteen turned thirty one, and really nobody really didn't think those old rock and rollers would continue to record, into well in their 60s or 70s like Bob has been doing. Night Moves, recorded with Muscle Shoals Swampers rather than the Silver Bullet band, (they only play on the cover of Mary Lou and it's a barn burner), shows Seger with an eye toward a more polished sound rather than the smash and crash of Live Bullet.  Seger must have loved the melody to Fire Down Below so much that he redid it as a cover of Frankie Miller's Ain't Got No Money on the more polished but less inspired Stranger In Town LP  in 1978.  Bob's cover of Come To Poppa is funky rock and roll classic too.  The question do I think this is Bob's best album?  I donno, I like Ramblin Gamblin Man the album and Number 7 a bit more, but in the Bob Vs Bruce wars of best album I'll go with Night Moves over Born To Run, but I know your opinion will differ.
Grade A-