Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Week In Review: More Madison Bargain Hunts.

The last blog dealt with the main highlight of bike riding.  Even if I didn't partake in that ride downtown Madison and around the state capitol twice, I'd be renting a bike and discovering the city.  I do think that March I rode a rental bike about 15 miles around the city, rather than the 7.5 miles on Saturday.  Then  add another two miles getting to the meeting place.  Despite major leg cramps I survived.

The record and CD findings were mixed at best.  The Good news is that vinyl is doing quite well, with Mad City Music X Change, where vinyl has reclaimed most of the area and places like B Sides and Strictly Discs had plenty of customers.  The Bad: the Cd finds may have been the worst since 1996, when I went up there and found only one cd, which meant I didn't look hard enough.  Despite it all and from what I have seen at the record stores and Half Priced Books, the CD section titles weren't nothing to write home about and Pre Played on the Eastern side of Madison now have shrink their inventory to the far corner of the store, where DVDs and Blu Ray discs now occupied 98 percent elsewhere. The HP Books bargain bins was full of unwanted crappy cds and of course U2 could be found in quantity.  For 45s, St. Vincent De Paul on Williamson was the place to be.  But with each passing year and day, the findings are scarce and going to Goodwill and The Salvation Army is a waste of time.  Savers, had a bunch of R and B 45s from Ike And Tina Turner and Albert King but the records were too far gone to get.   To which at this point, it's basically easy just to say the hell with it anymore and just take chances at the local antique market.  The vinyl revival, has gotten the hipsters to scour the thrift stores and whatever they find, resale at a higher cost.  But then again, I spent five dollars on a VG Aretha Franklin Atlantic 45 at a antique mall in Mount Herob, a mercy sale.  But in reality, the findings are much harder and less satisfying.  At some particular point things end, even for a long in the tooth 45 crabb.  Unless I start getting more into The McGuire Sisters or Lawrence Welk easy listening dreak.   I still enjoy going St Vincent De Paul, since they remain to have a high turnover rate in their 45 inventory,   But Goodwill, Savers and The Salvation Army was a bust.  And Pawn America may as well throw their inventory of CDs in the recycle bin.  Nobody wants them.

If anything this time out Madison was a much more fun event than the hell of last September.  I spend the weekend checking out things on State Street and while I wasn't gung ho about the food at Za's, the Casa De Lara food was much better.  The Mole Casero was quite good, the tortillas were not sad to say. http://casadelaramadisonwi.com/
For the first time in about four years, I passed on Ian's Pizza,  I didn't care for the service help and their drinks had a crappy metallic taste to them last time I was there.  Where my hotel was, there was better options and if all else fails, there's always 7/11 on the corner.  There was plenty of road construction going on around the capitol area.  As far I recalled, 151 really didn't have much road construction going over by the main interstate by the Microtel, where I usually spend the night.  And I avoided the belt way once again.   Although there was still a few homeless people around State Street, they were not crowding up the place as they have been doing last time I visited. With the UW summer semester going on, there was not very many students around although many folks spent the evening around the beaches on the two lakes in town.   And even if The Graduate Hotel charged 12 dollars a night for parking, I figured it was worth it, rather than taking a chance on the downtown parking places. If you did come across the meter, a quarter only gives you 12 minutes.  Just like Iowa City.

After the WNBR bike ride, and taking care of seeing what the east side thrift stores had for bargains, I went to Dubuque on Sunday and Moondog Music had a bit more to offer.  Mount Horeb had a couple of Antique malls and The Duluth Trading Company, home of the 29.95 underwear.  They have a 7 year guarantee.  We'll see how they work out. http://www.duluthtrading.com/

Since it was Father's Day, I had to rush back home and I don't usually drive in the afternoon, but I did have time to scope out other places, ate at Platteville's China Buffet and then locating Uncle Ike's Music Store in Asbury, five miles from Dubuque. Uncle Ike's has a much better drum selection than Guitar Center, in fact I was drooling over some cool Ludwig Vista Lites drum that went for 2100 dollars. Very tempted to go back up there and pick one of them up. https://www.uncleikes.com/

There were things going on down here in beautiful Cedar Rapids, the Irish Fest with Eric Gales took place on Saturday.  Phillip Smith writes the review and took plenty of pictures to prove it. http://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/06/voice-of-cedar-lake-live-at-irish.html

Meanwhile the Rumors Popcorn Jam continued on, with perhaps the most hard rock songs that they have done since Terry McDowell took over.  For the first time, no Bad Company songs were played. Featured players were Ted Riely, Ian Jacoby, Rick Clay and Terry Mack.   Peter Stark documented the proceedings. However the owner of Rumors wasn't too pleased with the hard rock and metal songs played but nevertheless everybody still had a good time.

It's debatable if Lebron James is the all time best basketball player ever, and some of the referee calls in this series were very tick tacky but one cannot deny that James propelled the Cleveland Cavs to beat the Golden State Warriors  Sunday Night, he blocked shots, he made three point baskets and basically willed his way to give Cleveland their first basketball title. Kinda like Michael Jordan did for Chicago back in the 1990s.  Great performance from a future hall of famer but all time great?  I'm still a Jordan fan.  Which means the Chicago Bulls record season of 95-96, is that the Chicago Bulls remains the best team in history, thanks to Lebron's performance, Michael Jordan and the rest thank you.

Last month some Pittsburgh pitcher mentioned that he thought that the Chicago Cubs were not the best team in baseball.  Well, San Francisco Giants have done very well themselves but the big mouth Pittsburgh pitcher didn't put his money where his mouth is and Pittsburgh got swept by the Cubs over the weekend.  Phil Rizzo, Kris Bryant hit home runs, even old timer Dan Ross hit one on Saturday. St Louis got swept by Texas over the weekend falling 12 games behind first place Chicago.  If they are going to make this a pennant race they better get their act together.   And then St Louis swept The Cubs in Chicago this week.  They're not done yet.

Alas The Cedar Rapids Kernels losing to the Quad Cities over the weekend, knocked them out of the playoff race in the first half and must do better the second half of the season but they continue to lose players to promotion. Mike Theoapolis (sic) one of my favorite Kernels has been promoted to double AA.

The trial is over and Led Zeppelin prevailed over the estate of Randy Wolfe in the case of Taurus, Randy's song for Spirit was being ripped off for the introduction to Stairway To Heaven and basically I figured that Led Zeppelin would win out.  I've never drawn any conclusion that Taurus and Stairway were the same, they were different in song and structure. If anything, it got the original three members of Zeppelin back together but in all fairness this was a waste of everybody's time. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/led-zeppelin-prevail-in-stairway-to-heaven-lawsuit-20160623

The Bar B Q Roundup is this week and local favorites Wooden Nickel Lottery play Saturday.  Linn County Fair has three rock tribute bands play Thursday and Confederate Railroad on Friday.

Aerosmith has jumped on the farewell tour bandwagon so many bands have been doing (guess which ones)  The first Farewell tour will start in 2017.

This might be a record but Emerson Lake And Palmer are reissuing their back catalog for a fifth or sixth time (Elvis Costello might be doing the same thing as well). While it's noted that Stephen Wilson will be mixing the albums I just don't see the need to replace the ones that I got in my collection. I really don't know how Wilson will spice up the albums anymore than they are now (one can only do so much with tape hiss or EQ).  BMG music rights will be the new home of ELP, (Atlantic, Victory, Rhino and Razor and Tie were the other labels that issued ELP product if you're keeping a score card) A more better choice would be The Turtles, reissuing their White Whale albums via Flo and Eddie and Manifesto Records (originally known as Bizarre/Straight), I would love a copy of The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands but I do have their Ray Davies produced Turtle Soup on the shelf somewhere. http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7409015/the-turtles-pre-1972-copyright-warriors-reissuing-their-out-of-print-studio

Caitlin Cary, is an expert sewing visual arts that used to play in Whiskeytown and made a couple solo albums along the way.  A nice article about her famed arts and craft work http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/music-news-reviews/on-the-beat-blog/article84378077.html

And the ratings here continue to tank.  Might be under 2,000 views again.  Guess we are out of fashion once again. But I continue onward despite the odds. The final tally will be somewhere around 1800 unless Russia or China opens up the internet.

Passings:  Bill Ham, of natural causes Tuesday, He was 79.  He managed Z Z Top for years and later formed Lone Wolf Management which managed the likes of Clint Black, The Law and James Taylor. http://www.houstonpress.com/music/bill-ham-ex-zz-top-manager-and-texas-music-industry-giant-passes-away-at-79-8504929#!

Ralph Stanley legendary bluegrass banjo great passed away from skin cancer, he was 89. http://bluegrasstoday.com/ralph-stanley-passes/

Bernie Worrell, keyboard extraordinaire for George Clinton's bands plus the Talking Heads died Friday from lung cancer, he was 72 http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7416532/bernie-worrell-dead-funkadelic-parliament

The Memphis Horns are no more.  Wayne Jackson passed away Tuesday from heart failure at age 74. He and the late Andrew Love (who passed in 2012)  played on most if not all records on Stax Records (Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, The Mar Keys) and then he and Andrew split to play on songs by Elvis, Al Green, Neil Young and many others.  http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/wayne-jackson-memphis-horns-legend-dead-at-74-20160622

This week's reviews:

Foghat-Under The Influence (Foghat Records 2016)

While the continuing bitchings about Lonesome Dave and Rod Price, now playing in boogie heaven, not around, the lineup of Charlie Huhn and Bryan Bassett has solidified Foghat.  After all, both of them have been a part of this band since Dave's passing and Bassett has proven to be a worthy guitar player.  He proved that in Molly Hatchet on Devil's Canyon, the last album that Danny Joe Brown had anything to do with and Huhn spent time in Terrible Ted Nugent's band and Humble Pie.  And as long as Craig MacGregor is part of this band, they still remain legitimate, MacGregor was part of the glory late 70s years with the Live album and Stone Blue/Night Shift among others.   Their last album Last Train Home, spent way too much time with the blues and not enough boogie, this time out, the guys get back to doing what they do best, rock and roll boogie.  Plenty of guest stars on here, legendary blues guitar great Kim Simmonds to which Earl and Lonesome Dave was part of Savoy Brown, adds his signature slide lead on the title track and Upside Of Lonely, old bass player and producer now comedian actor Nick Jameson returns on three tracks including another version of Slow Ride, the title track and Hot Mama.  Dana Fuchs  adds some female sass to I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Honey Do List, which owes more to The Fabulous Thunderbirds than boogie blues.  And Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy) might be their best producer since Jameson, he balances the blues and the boogie rock quite nicely.  Lyrics are basically good time afterthoughts, Under The Influence does have a vibe like Stone Blue, but Knock It Off actually owes more to AC/DC rather than John Lee Hooker.   Scott Holt, also figures into the blues side, a cover of Savoy Browns She's Got A Ring In His Nose, but also can rock out, he's on 7 of the 13 tracks of UTF.  Does the world really need another version of Slow Ride?  Since it's Foghat and it's the bonus track I can forgive them.  Certainly while Dave and Rod are missed and Earl has been generous to include them in the liner notes, but even in their heyday, their albums can be hit and miss, even Fool For The City had a couple of clinkers.  The secret weapon remains Bassett, who had played in a version of Foghat in the late 80s and early 90s and he can make the spirit of Rod Price proud.  The buying public may not care, but Under The Influence in reality is a very solid effort, even to the point it might be their best album since Return Of The Boogie Men, or Night Shift, which came out 4 decades ago.  It rocks, it rolls and it has the blues and it doesn't wear out its welcome.  Which is what I like about Foghat.  I know what they can do and when they put their mind to it, they still rock with the best of them.
Grade A-

The Staple Singers-Freedom Highway Complete (Epic/Legacy 1965)

The original album was edited down for radio consideration but Sony decided to issue the whole 1965 church concert complete with sermons and lectures, a beautiful snapshot about the old black Baptist Church Sunday Morning get together, and The Staple Singers were backed up by a couple of old Chess sessionmen Phil Upchurch and Al Duncan) and of course the stinging guitar of Pops Staples.  The songs really stand out, be it Mavis Staples given it her best, (Help Me Jesus) and I never get tired of Samson And Delilah, and the title track Freedom Highway was a minor hit but showed that the best was yet to come.  I think the sermons and preaching goes on a bit too long, especially the bit about Rev Hopkins passing the plate around and taking about people going to pay a dollar at the Regal to see blues bands but don't pony up at the collection plate, which the congregation ponys up change hear and there.  But if you rather not partake at your local church, you can put this CD on any old time for that old time religion of soul and gospel.
Grade B+

The Junkers-Hunker Down (Self Released 2001)

It was slim pickings at the thrift store so I picked up this debut album from a now long disbanded alternative country band from Madison and regardless Ken Burns' vocals reveals one half Buck Owens and one half Jay Farrar and the music is more honky tonk than Son Volt. But I doubt that Farrar would ever start out an album by singing We're Adults so let's commit adultery.  In terms of their trailer trash country rock, Hunker Down is a oddball but fun listen as Burns sings the praises of coffee in Thank You Coffee but would rather have a shot of bourbon and go back to bed.   Or That's Why I Take Pills, another dry and dark sense of humor song that references Elvis.  Burns tries his walking talking folk ala 1964 Bob Dylan on Susan B Anthony Dollar Rag, recorded live at the now distant memory O'Cays Corral in downtown Madison, which would be destroyed in a fire soon after this recording in 2001.   Overall, Hunker Down is not bad, but The Junkers are no Randy Cliffs.
Grade B

Tom Jones-Long Lost Suitcase (S Curve 2015)

The third installment of a series of albums with Ethan Johns of traditional folk, country, blues and rock and roll, but it's beginning to feel like the same old same old all over again.  It's been proven time and time again that Tom Jones can do country and western, he had a mini resurgence in the 1980s with a few listenable albums on Mercury and then managed to get a freaky top forty hit with Prince's Kiss, but unlike Robert Plant, Jones is not that convincing when it comes to the blues.  He gives a valiant effort on Bring It On Home but I Wish You Would, goes on forever.  And the morbid Elvis Presley Blues and He Was A Friend Of Me really take the fun out of this album although Jones rebounds in a way with Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do or Til My Back Ain't Got No Bone.  But the record is a mixed bag and it really doesn't capture my attention like Praise And Blame did or to a lesser degree Spirit In The Room.  Like the other two, it's personal and Tom adds plenty of old pictures from his archives to share to the world.  But overall, you just wish that Tom would get back to just lively up the party rather than having these reminders that our time is just about up.  Or trade Ethan Johns for Art Of Noise.
Grade B-

Nashville West (Sierra/Hollywood 1997)

If you're looking for the legend of Clarence White and his expert guitar playing, this minor classic is for you.  White would later join The Byrds with drummer Gene Parsons and turned them more into the country side of things. Gib Guilbeau sings lead on most of the songs and this is where they turn into a bar band of sorts, they were playing the country hits of that time which explains why By The Time I Get To Phoenix and Green Green Grass Of Home is on this.  Gib, would later join the Flying Burrito Brothers is a competent and steady vocalist but  lacking a real vocal presence, which is why Roger McGuinn is a better singer or Gram Parsons for that matter.  But overlook that, and you can not only hear traces of country rock that The Eagles or Poco would get better known but also traces of a sound that The Grateful Dead would incorporate during their Workingman's Dead/American Beauty era.  And there were not too many bar bands that had a wonderkind guitarist like White, or for that matter Gene Parsons, who seem to never get credit where credit was due in his tenure with The Byrds.
Grade B

Montgomery Gentry-Folks Like Us (Blaster 2015)

I don't think they started bro country but they did lay down the groundwork for the latter day trailer trash hacks like FGL or Locash and Kane Brown to dumb down country radio and made Dallas Davidson a bit more wealthy.  But while the new Bro Country twenty somethings continue to play and sing second grade bad poetry about beer, trucks, dirt roads etc etc, Eddie and Troy continue to descend back into playing county fairs and issue albums on lesser known independent labels, and you wouldn't know that Eddie and Troy were Nashville songwriters at the start, continue to scour the bottom of the barrel of songwriters, most notably Wendell Mobley on four songs which are about...beer, old friendstan lines, pick up trucks, growing up in small towns and dirt roads to which Mobley gets out of his comfort zone on anything else.  The music is southern rock, with the tired Nashville cliche of the rapping/singing/shouting of the chorus of any of these four tracks Mobley wrote and for that matter much of the rest of the album.  Chris Robertson of Black Stone Cherry makes the obligatory guest star cameo on (wait for it), Back On A Dirt Road.   However, MG does pick two Chris Singleton songs (Pain, co written with Al Anderson) and Better For It and they're probably the best of the lot although I did get a chuckle out of Mobley's Hillbilly Hippies, at least MG still has a bit of humor left in them, even after their fiasco tenure with Average Joe's and that brown turd skid-mark of a song called Tittys Beer to which even the bro country faithful avoided at all costs.   Despite what the Farce The Music folks think, Montgomery Gentry did start out on a hot streak with Tattoos And Scars before going down the great decline with each album (though My Town remains their second best overall album, the only greatest hits CD I liked was the throwaway budget Super Hits despite no Hillbilly Shoes on it).  The problem with Folks Like Us is that Montgomery Gentry's time has come and gone and even at 10 songs, there's hardly any variation of themes, Conservative country that bares it's Charlie Daniels roots although they do tone down on the right wing rhetoric that Daniels is famous for.  But when you hear five straight songs in a row about grabbing a beer, going down a dirt road and taking about old times with good friends, even that wears out its welcome.  But at  least they didn't lowered themselves into covering Colt Ford.
Grade C

No comments: