Thursday, July 28, 2016

Forgotten Bands Of The 80s-Fastway

I remember the 80s.  I also remember on August 1st, VH1 Classic is going to change over to become MTV classic to which they will show the first hour of when MTV was worth watching.  I really don't GAF about Road Rules repeats, which sucked in the first place.

Video killed the radio star indeed.  In 1984 MTV previewed a song off All Fired Up called Tell Me, which is basically a rewrite of their big hit Say What You Will. But the video was so bad, that it was showed once and then somebody burned the video afterwards.  I have yet to see it surface on You Tube and probably never will.

But lets go back a couple years.  Fast Eddie Clarke was the beloved guitar player in Motorhead but after Iron Fist, Clarke decided to go solo.  Originally Pete Way was signed up to play bass, he of UFO fame and then the one that sealed the deal for me, Jerry Shirley (Humble Pie, Natural Gas, and one of my all time favorite drummers) played drums after Humble Pie ran its course.  Clarke was tired of the all assault, in your face type of hard rock Motorhead was famous for and wanted to get to a more melodic hard rock sound ala Led Zeppelin and he found the best Robert Plant soundalike with Dave King, a very young Irish singer.  Contractual problems forced Pete Way out of the band and Mick Feat replaced him on their first album.  Eddie Kramer produced it.  Their first album remains a hard rock and roll classic, bursting out of the gate with Easy Livin and ten other hard rocking favorites, from the likes of Say What You Will, Give It some Action, We Become One and side one closer Heft! which Jerry Shirley tears up his drums at the coda end.  Bonus track Far Away From Home, reveals their inner Led Zeppelin fixation.   I tend to think that Fastway's first album was more Zep sounding than say, Kingdom Come or Bonham for that matter.  In 1983 I gave it record of the year honors.  And still holds up better today than Quiet Riot or Def Lepperd for that matter although those band's had bigger record sales.

All Fired Up, was the followup and Charlie McCracken, formerly of Taste came on as bass player.  Kramer was behind the production board again but this time out, the songs were not as memorable although I did like Tell Me, Steal The Show or Hung Up On Love, but with If Only You Can See and Hurtin Me, the Zep soundalike songs hurt more than helped.  After that, Jerry Shirley and McCracken opted out.  What follows next was total abandonment of their hard rock and roll and any credibility.

With Waiting For The Roar, new members came in and Terry Manning, fresh from success with ZZ Top, Molly Hatchet (in a way) and George Thorogood, came in to destroy their sound in favor of dated keyboards and a weird pop sound.  There was a minor hit with The World Waits For You but followup single Little By Little showed them trying to be Z Z Top.  The record pissed off fans of the first album and sales tanked.  The next album Fastway tried to go back to their hard rock sound on the Trick Or Treat Soundtrack but the cliche lyrics and music didn't help either.  Adding Heft as an afterthought along with If Only You Can See saves this from being a total waste of time.  With that David King left to do a new project called Katmandu with Mandy Mayer (Krokus, Asia) and made one album before calling it a day.  King would reinvent himself with Celtic  Irish folk punk rockers Flogging Molly  and still continues to front that band to this day.  Perhaps I have to look into their music now that I know that King was once part of Fastway.

In 1988 Clarke revived the Fastway banner with new singer Lea Hart.  On Target, was really off the mark.  The band had become more of a pop hair metal band and despite some okay songs like Dead Or Alive, but like Waiting For The Roar, bad dated keyboards sink the effort, and while Dave King may have saved the previous albums, Lea Hart is no Robert Plant, nor Dave King.  It's a real bad record, to which I actually have the vinyl album, which is rare, but still full of empty music.  Bad Bad Girls, returns to a more rock and roll sound on lead off cut Had Enough and two members of Girlschool play on it under alias (due to contractual conflicts and Fast Eddie didn't want another situation like he did with Pete Way).   The reviews called it a Poor Man's Bon Jovi.  For another bright idea Clarke and Hart decided to revisit On Target but added reworked versions of Trick Or Treat or Say What You Will.  That didn't work either.

In 2012 Clarke returned with a new version of Fastway with Toby Jepson of Little Angels fame.  And Eat Dog Eat is the best Fastway album since All Fired Up, with more emphasis on a more blues rock sound somewhat like Rory Gallagher/Taste era. The misfire is the ballad Dead And Gone, and perhaps a bit too much reliance on Def Lepperd but at least Clarke isn't aping Bon Jovi like he did on both On Target and Bad Bad Girls. Since Eat Dog Eat, Fastway hasn't recorded a new album (Clarke has issued a blues album in 2014) but they're still touring to this day, opening up for Saxon across the pond this summer.

But in the end, their first album put them into such greatness that they would never repeat that success again.  It still remains one of the best rock albums of 1980s.

In January of 2018, Eddie Clarke died from phenomena.  He was 67.


Fastway (Columbia 1983)  A
All Fired Up (Columbia 1984)  B+
Waiting For The Roar (Columbia 1985) C
Trick Or Treat Soundtrack (Columbia 1986)  B-
On Target (Enigma/GWR 1988) C
Bad Bad Girls (Enigma/Legacy 1989) C
On Target (Reworked) (Receiver 1998) C-
Eat Dog Eat  (MVD Audio/SPV Steamhammer  2012) B+

Monday, July 25, 2016

Week In Review: RIP Hastings, Gary S Paxton, RAGBRAI

So who Marni Nixon?  She was the voice behind the stars on certain movies.  In other words, the ghost singer behind the stars.  She passed from cancer at age 86.

Jack Davis, best known for his drawings for Mad Magazine as well as country covers for the likes of Jerry Reed and Homer And Jethro left this world Tuesday after a long illness.  He was 91.

Pat Upton, lead singer of the Spiral Starecase (More Today Than Yesterday) died Wednesday from unknown causes.  He was 75.

Roye Albrighton leader of the prog rock band Nektar (Remember The Future) passed away at age 67.

Thomas Sutherland was held hostage by Islamic assholes for six years in Lebanon and then released in 1991.  Eventually he won a big payoff from Iran, which he gave to charity and Thomas became a actor later on.  He died of heart failure at age 85.

Remember Miss Cleo, the Psychic that you saw on info commercials back in the 1990s that you call and she'll predict your future.  No more. Colon cancer claimed her.  She was 53.

Sandy Pearlman, producer for the classic Blue Oyster Cult albums of the 1970s and later produced The Clash and Dream Syndicate died after a long illness.  He was 72.

Gary S (Flip) Paxton, once part of Skip and Flip, and later produced songs such as Alley Oop and Monster Mash passed away from liver disease and complications from heart surgery at age 77.  Paxton wrote Woman (Sensuous Woman), which became a number 1 country hit for Don Gibson. Paxton later became a born again gospel singer that got caught up in the Jim and Tammy Bakker scandal of the 1980s.  A interesting man to say the very least.

Bill Kopp has his own blog and I follow him via Facebook, and we touch base once in a great while but he's been very busy writing liner notes for reissue label Real Gone Music and doing interviews on selected magazines.  This time out he scores big with an must read interview of Sonny Rollins.

Last week bought the Jones County Fair through town with the likes of Boston and 38 Special playing the rock and roll one night, then bro country dipshits Florida Georgia Line played the next night and Carrie Underwood played Saturday among the bizarre weather we had.  I basically went to Davenport on Saturday to watch Quad City River Bandits blow out the Bowling Green Hot Rods 9-3, and for a while I wonder if the rains and tornadoes followed me down highway 61.  The skies got dark, there would be lightning off to the north and east and then the wind changed direction.  Somehow, the storm blew over, we got some sprinkles out of it, but on the way home, the pavement three blocks away was very wet.  In the course of this storm two tornadoes touched down, one near Worthington  and one on the newly constructed Lake Delhi.  The cold front finally came through Sunday, and basically took most of the humidity with it away. Just in time for the start of the July event known as RAGBRAI which got off to a tragic start when a bicyclist got hit and killed by a driver in a pickup.   This years bike ride is not going to be in the area.   Closest town would be Washington on Thursday.

Speaking of the Bro Country Beavis and Butthead FGL.  Seems that they made the Jones County Deputies not too happy about them requesting no police  backstage during their show at the Jones County Fair , but later requested a police escort out of town after their set, to which FGL was told to rock off by themselves.

As the sun sets down....   Hastings is closing their doors since they couldn't find a buyer and Draw A Circle LLC, strapped for cash sold it off to liquidators and the going out of business sales are popping up all over the 123 locations around the US.  The way it goes.  What used to be the golden age of CD buying (1994-2005, the year copy protected CDs were introduced) has been a slow death for Hastings, which still had plenty of people coming to that store to buy videos and hang out on a week night or weekend. It is the end of an era, Hastings did serve a purpose, however like everything else around here, the internet killed off business, kiosks popped up at local stores and Wal Marts and it was easier to rent movies that way.  With the three major record label pooping out crappy music and people streaming, trying to find decent music CDs was becoming harder to find.  The usual excuses, nobody is buying cds, nobody is buying books, nobody is renting videos, everybody has a Kindle.  I don't have a Kindle, that's why I go an Hastings store, to get away from the GD computer.  I spend too much time on this already.  Sometimes it's fun to go buy something new on CD or just to get out.  This world is becoming slaves to the net.  With the closings of Tower Records, FYE closing half of their stores, this remains the continuance and decline of the big box stores.  And Hastings came in handy for the small towns that couldn't have a Best Buy or FYE or Sam Goody (now history).

There are solutions to this problem of replacing Hastings and it can come from local businesses in their areas.  In the case of the Arizona Hastings stores,  I can think of one place that could come in handy, and that would be Bookman's, that has a couple locations in the Phoenix area, 4 in Tucson and 1 in Flagstaff that did eventually replaced their Hastings store.  Basically, Brookmans is located more around the college side of those towns, whereas Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City don't have a college hub, nor Kingman and since those towns are smaller than Flagstaff, it probably won't work.  Recently Zia's Records And Tapes have actually done better, since they have adapted more of a computer savvy attitude and branched out to comics and even music instruments.  They recently moved to a better location in Tempe and most recently opened up a brand new store in Mesa.  This wouldn't work for Zia's to start up a location in those AZ towns.   In this day and age, you better off throwing money down the toilet than starting up a CD and record business or even video or books. Neither Kingman or Lake Havasu City could support a Zia's in their area sad to say.

The only true option that remains would be opening up a consignment store such as Savers or Stuff Etc.  Perhaps a book store like Books A Million would help, but unlike Hastings, BAM doesn't allow trade ins. But at least they would provide some sort of entertainment for people who want to get away from the computer for a while and interact with other folks. Which was why Hastings was a great place to hang out.   Half Priced Books would be another great option, especially for cities like Amarillo or Albuquerque or Spokane, but the thought is not to overextend to the point that they can't make payments and have to close down such as what Draw A Circle did two years after buying Hastings.  And they didn't do nobody any favors either.   And in the end, I won't be heading to the Hastings going out of business sale, it's not cost effective for me.  But I will miss Hastings, simply of the fact that even a tourist from Iowa can come in any store and hang with the crowd and be part of them.   How I managed to pull that out remains a miracle upon itself.

And the Russia Bump has returned in the ratings.  Friday I ended up with 613 views.  With the bump, I'm sure I'll managed to scrape 4,000 views, and there is plenty to see from the archives to keep you busy reading stuff from 2011 or returning to such classic stuff like Hanging With The Band or My City Is Gone.  I can't tell you what's the secret, last I checked I haven't had many folks link this site with theirs and basically I don't flood Farce The Music with add my link to their site.  If that's the case we might have even bigger rates.  I haven't posted much of Your Dream Dates photos and Ivy Doomkitty changing her hair style to candy apple red isn't exactly a plus, but I still love her.  The bottom line is that Record World, just like my playing drums, is a time consuming hobby that doesn't pay, except having fun or being encouraged that something I write clears 100 views. I doubt this blog will do that but I can only hope.  Record World is just my opinion on the music biz and what I like and what might account for news.   And what I find for 45s and such.   So far, it's been a long 14 year run of highs and lows.  And just like Hastings, Record World will be over and done somewhere down that road.   But for now, we trudge on because somebody's gotta do it.

This month's dream girl: Heather DeLoach.  Back in the early 1990s Blind Melon had their number one hit single No Rain, featuring Heather as a 10 year old bee girl.  The song is now so old it's being played on classic rock radio  (there was a argument with a friend of mine saying such songs shouldn't be included on classic rock radio since they were not part of the 1960-1970 classic rock sounds, but with songs like No Rain twenty plus years old, how do you market it, original classic alternative rock?).  I never cared much for the song but the video was quite fun to watch.  Heather is now 33 and still looking pretty good, if not better over the course of time. Blind Melon is no more, the lead singer OD'd on drugs in 1995 and they never did follow up their album with anything worthwhile.  But if you want to go back to the memories of the bee girl and the song, this link will make you think it's 1992.  And really 1992 wasn't that bad of a time.

This is not the Bee Girl. 

Record Reviews:

Descendents-Hypercaffium Spazzinate (Epitaph 2016)

Who could have thought of these former punks now all grown up and in their 50s still playing that fast and loose punk rock that made them famous?  And once they were telling their folks to shut up are now telling their kids to shut up and listen to them?  Vicious full circle it is.  Their last album Cool To Be You was their most uninspired album, a label change didn't help so they're back with Brett Guerwitz and Epitaph for a much better sound, although Everything Sucks still sounds better. But Milo Auckerman's is more in tune with the dangers of bad food (No Fat Burger) and self shaming (Fighting Myself, Victim Of Me).  Bill Stevenson still plays drums at break neck speed and the rest of the guys (Karl Alvarez, Steven Egerton) know each other so well, they have no problems amping it up. The shorter songs work better, like every great punk band but the most telling of the album of Beyond The Music, they're no longer just a band but family.  And always have been. And will continue to be as long as they're still alive.
Grade B+

Counterpoint from a fan:  The Descendents are like those Japanese soldiers they'd find in the Philippines who still thought WWII was happening but for 1996 Warped Tours.

Carole King-Tapestry  (Ode 1971)

A landmark album since it sold many copies and established Carole King as established pop rock star. And it came out 45 years ago this week so I basically thought I'd take a first listen to this album.  My best friend's older sister has this record in her collection and so did most of the high school girls at that time.  I had Her Greatest Hits in my collection, but rarely played it, the best songs were off Tapestry.  I kinda miss Sweet Seasons or Jazzman but I don't see a need to buy her best of a second time.   I do think this is her definite and defining album, leading off with I Feel The Earth Move, b side to her top ten hit It's Too Late and concluding with Natural Woman but Smackwater Jack really rocks in its own way.  Jury is still out on You Got A Friend is better than James Taylor and So Far Away I can love one minute, hate the other and the lesser known tracks Where You Lead and bonus track Out In The Cold are nice songs before it ends with a live solo performance of Smackwater Jack.  In the end this record does deserve it's place as a classic.
Grade A-

Rod Stewart-Atlantic Crossing (Warner Brothers 1975)

This record is the past, present and future of Rod Stewart.  His first five albums he recorded for Mercury remains some of the best music he's ever done, Smiler on the other hand was a dog turd.  Stewart was part of Faces, which recorded for the WB and I'm sure that figured into him staying onward.  The past was that Rod Stewart with Faces made some great sloppy rock and roll and it shows on opener Three Time Loser and All In The Name Of Rock And Roll, which damn near outrocks The Rolling Stones at that time.  The present was Stewart revealed more of a R and B feeling on such numbers like Drift Away and This Old Heart Of Mine, featuring Mr. Al Jackson on drums before his untimely murder later that year.  But the future also reveals Rod was trying to become better known on the music scene looking for that followup hit to Maggie May, he would get it on the next album's Tonight's The Night, to which I didn't care much for even back then.  It also meant that the future would be those GD Great American Songbook series that he undertook when Clive Davis signed him up to J Records in the 2000s, after his Warner hits dried up.  Atlantic Crossing might have been a flop when released but in essence this was his best album since Every Picture Tells A Story and he managed to get some of the finest musicians on this record, from Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and Al Jackson from The MGs, to the Muscle Shoals Swampers (David Hood and Roger Hawkins with Pete Carr) plus Jesse Ed Davis and Nigel Olsson too.  I can do without his Greatest Hits Volume 1 with his Warner Hits, but Atlantic Crossing does convince me enough that this would be his last truly great album.  Great American Songbook notwithstanding of course.
Grade A-

The Replacements-Stink (Twin Tone/Rhino 1982)

Young, loud and snotty.  Like their other Minneapolis competition Husker Du, The Mats were a bit more punk pop than the abrasive noise of the Du's but in 1982 they were punk and haven't quite grasp what they were capable of till Let It Be came out.   Even with bonus tracks, this EP barely registers an album (27 Minutes long).  You're Getting Married hints at the future but the Mats are too busy getting drunk and fucked up.  Once in a while they'll connect with a punk anthem (Kids Don't Follow, God Damn Job) or add goofy country twang (Dope Smokin Moron), or simply don't know when to end a song (Rock Around The Clock, which the coda ending is twice longer than the song itself).  Still it's in good fun.  And still better than Hootenanny.
Grade B+

Ralph Stanley (DMZ/Columbia 2002)

He was ancient when John Henry Burnett signed him up on his off shoot label for Sony Music after delivering a potent Oh Death from O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack that gave bluegrass another shot in the limelight briefly.   But in his own world weary voice, he sangs the gospel with glee, of ready to meet Jesus, to which he would eventually do this year.  Of course Norman Blake plays on this record too.  But even with half gospel songs, Stanley also devotes a fair amount of the old songs of tragedy and loss that the old bluegrass singers and bands used to do.  If you know your music you'll find that Little Mathie Grove the song, Fairport Convention would do as Matty Groves. And while Fairport's version might have been better remembered, Stanley's version is a bit more graphic.
Grade B+

Singles Going Steady Medley (Pop Corn Hits Of The 50s and Joni Mitchell too)

You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio-Joni Mitchell (Asylum AS-11010)  #25 1972

Reprise couldn't break her so she went over to David Geffen's newly formed Asylum label and managed to get a modest top 25 showing.  I can take or leave most of Joni's material (Raised On Robbery Yes!, Big Yellow Taxi-Sometimes) but I don't recall the radio playing this much.  This record spent a good year at the Davenport Salvation Army before I decided it looked good enough to play on the record player.  A few scratches but I would think the record is in VG- shape.

Freight Train-Rusty Draper  (Mercury 71102)  #6  1957

If anything Draper was like Guy Mitchell;  he started out as a pop singer than gradually moved over to country music.  I think Mitchell was much more convincing country singer, he'd covered Ray Price and Marty Robbins, Draper would have some luck with Hank Locklin Please Help Me I'm Falling and Willie Nelson's Night Life.  But Carl Stevens' arrangements echo more what Frankie Laine was doing at that time.  In other words, more pop than country.  This would be Draper's last top ten hit.  B Side Seven Come Eleven is a novelty Vegas type number including introduction of somebody throwing the dice.  Which according to rumor, turned out to be snake eyes.

Butterfly-Andy Williams (Cadence 1308)  #1  1957

Andy's attempt of a Elvis style rockabilly number and it actually holds up almost 60 years later.  You wouldn't think Andy would later become one of the all time pop artists of all time, I wouldn't believe that either till Sony Music issued 16 Greatest Hits which does steal some of Andy's Cadence sides as well as his famous Columbia hits.  Today's generation don't give a shit regardless but just wait, when they turn 50 a 100 years after Butterfly's number 1 chart placing they'll be searching for this song.  B Side It Doesn't Take Very Long, isn't as catchy.

Mutual Admiration Society-Eddy Arnold And Jaye. P. Morgan (RCA-47-6708)  #47 1956

#24 on the Cashbox top 100, a strange pairing of country singer Eddy with the sassy and brash Mary Margaret Morgan on a pop style hit.  I actually like this pairing of stars of this off the wall tune.  But like the previous three singles on this weeks Medley, all were part of somebody's extensive 45 collection  that they dumped off  at the Davenport Sal Army store.  And despite a couple more months of being handled by scavenger hunters, they were not scratched up.  Alas, the fifth 45, Moonshine Gambler by Frankie Laine was too worse for the wear and couldn't be played.  Problem with certain 45 and the vinyl grade, the hard plastic grooves were prone to wear thin.  All four of these vinyl pieces were from soft vinyl and played very well with minimal scratches, pops and clicks.  I'm sure next week, will be a new month of singles, and perhaps BDW Records at the Antique Mall will have something of value.  We'll see.

Records from my youth: Blue Mountain-Dog Days (Roadrunner 1995)

It's strange to see how 20 years later these albums came out.  Blue Mountain was very much loved by the Iowa City crowd, as Cary Hudson and company always came to play at Gabe's Oasis every year in the 1990s.  They were Americana but with a drive of Crazy Horse and a love of old time blues.  Special Rider Blues is updated blues, kinda like Canned Heat of the 1960's   Roadrunner Records was a heavy metal based label but in the mid 1990s, they decided to sign up some rockers and alt country folks, Kevin Salem was one, Blue Mountain was the other.  A year prior, you can find their S/T album at B J Records and that record is more rocking and more punk thanks to a drummer who was into punk rock.  Dog Days, Hudson recorded some of their songs off that album with Eric Ambel producing and a more straight ahead drummer.  Laurie Stirrat, is the sister to John who was part of Wilco and appears on the new Bun E Carlos album, and she brings the harmonies to Hudson's vocal.  I really don't know if Soul Sister or Band Called Bud are better versions than the original on the first album but they are a bit polished and less punkish, and Ambel's adds more of an old time production, something akin to the old vintage pre war blues records of the 30s.  Frank Couch is a more straight ahead drummer to replace the old one, bit more in Ralph Molina territory but still enough to throw a few cymbal accents to differ his sound.  The argument is that the CD goes on a bit too long, it's five minutes short of an hour and Roadrunner thought highly enough to reissue this and add six more songs. But the original 14 songs did reveal that Cary Hudson's Neil Young influence was obvious but Hudson could play the hell out of his guitar too.  For Americana classic, Dog Days is Blue Mountain's finest moment, but I reserve the right to say the first album was just as good but a bit more cluttered.
Grade A- 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Last Bargain Hunt-The End Of Hastings Entertainment

In my travels to the Arizona desert, I always managed to spend half of my vacation in Phoenix/Mesa/Tempe/Chandler and then pick three days to head up to the north country.  The old Route 66 road is still in tact, the inner beauty and peacefulness of Crookton Pass and being in Kingman still has that old Route 66 aura around it.  But I also would pass through hot towns like Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City to stop at what was considered to be The Best Buy for small towns Hastings Entertainment.   You couldn't find better entertainment by going to the Kingman Hastings store on a Saturday Night and watching the freak show couple with piercings and tattoos all over their body toting their three kids running up and down the aisle while they push another baby in a cart.  It isn't global warming you have to worry about, but rather the population explosion that continues unchecked.  But that's not about them.

I discovered Hastings, in all places Spokane Washington while dating a woman with snakes for pets. At that time they had four places up there, some old grocery store, one in a strip mall near the woods and one way over East Spokane.  And it turns out that Hastings could rival Wherehouse Music for off the wall bargains, and cut out sold on the cheap.  It turned out that on the next Arizona vacation after breaking up with the snake lady, that Hastings had plenty of them stores in the smaller Arizona towns, that didn't have a Zia's Records nor Rockaway or FYE, which eventually did buy out Wherehouse Music and then they too begin the long decline of closing stores and leaving behind empty buildings.   Hastings did have a store in Iowa, which was in Ames and for a few years I managed to turn the car west on highway 30 and spend a couple hours sorting through plenty of used CDs and taking home a pile.  Every time I think I took home about 10 at the very least.  Hastings would close Hastings down in 2010.  So basically I just planned to do a yearly Arizona getaway and just hit the ones that I knew in Arizona.  Usually, I'd start at Prescott, go up highway 89 to Flagstaff, then down Route 66 country to Kingman, Bullhead City and then Lake Havasu City.  The latter town always seems to have a more varied bunch of CDs some as cheap as a quarter.  I managed to find a John Coltrane/Miles Davis Duet import CD for 49 cents that made a very nice soundtrack to the barren landscape of Route 66 as I drove into California back around 2012 I think.

While Hastings was terrible about promoting new music, they did somehow sold cheaper CDs than the big box stores such as FYE or Best Buy.  I managed to find Nina Simone Sings The Blues and Jeff Beck Wired for 3.99 new.  In Flagstaff in 2009 (or 2010) after the roof collapsed after a major snowfall, Hastings rented out the old K Mart and I managed to score cutouts such as the Complete Velvet Underground Live At Max's Kansas City and Forever Changes by Love for 3.99.  The 2 CD Marshall Crenshaw Best of was bought for 1.99. Wet Willie's hard to find Capricorn CDs was gotten on the cheap too.  The main reason why I went to Hastings, whatever the case may have been somebody would bring a hard to find album or CD and I would come across it.

The glory CD years of the 1990s and early 2000s Hastings was the place to go to, if you were living in a smaller town, it was the only place to go to, but as the world begin to start living more from the computer and at home, Hastings was struggling even back then.  It was a disappointment for me after going to Ames in 2010 and seeing that they closed that store and I haven't been back to Ames since then.   Flagstaff was closed in 2013.  And the closest one was 3 and half hours away in Kirksville Missouri which I did make one final road trip to see what they have in 2014.

In June Hastings announced they were going under chapter 11 bankruptcy and was hoping to find a buyer.  Nobody was interested and this week Hastings announced that they were closing all stores and ended up getting two shady liquidator firms specializing in going out of business sales which announced that as of this week everything was for sale at 30 percent off (pending the usual shady deals of marking of marking prices up so you are thinking you're getting bargains which you are still paying higher costs).  All sales are final, no more new stuff would be forthcoming and no more of Hastings taking in used stuff to sell.

I considered either getting on a plane to Arizona to visit the last four Hastings stores I used to go to, or drive three and half hours to Kirksville but in the end I came to conclude that it was not cost effective and it's not much fun going to a store that's going out of business and knowing that it would be the last time I'd be there.  FYE in Coral Ridge and Southpark Mall comes to mind.

So in the end, I rather much remember the memories of jumping in the car at the Motel 6 in Kingman to drive down to Stockton Hill Road at that Hastings location to hang out till closing time. Or flying through Bullhead City to see the oversized Hastings sign greeting the weary traveler looking for that cheap CD fix.  But in the past 15 years I have seen many stores go by the wayside, each closing more prominent than the others, Wherehouse Music gone, CD Warehouse gone, Tower Records gone, Django Music gone, Borders gone, and FYE on life support but I'm sure I'll be writing their obituary sooner than expected. The only used store that continues to hang in there is Half Priced Books and here's hoping that they will stay around longer.  With the closing of Hastings Entertainment, it is a major death knell, a continuation of the shrinkage of stores that sell used videos or CDs, Books and Magazines that was a social gathering for the young and bored at the local small towns.  They might have gotten a bad knock by the music snobs or preppies who wouldn't be caught dead in there but for myself it was a continuance of discovering new music on the cheap.  At this point in music life, there isn't going to be another store to take its place, unless you're a antique store selling at a higher profit.

But I won't be at any of the liquidation sales going on at the 123 Hastings stores, to which all will be history on Halloween 2016.  This tribute to Hastings from memory will have to do.

I'll miss you Hastings.  Thanks for the music and memories.

(Side note:  Hastings was sold to Draw Another Circle which acquired too many other stores (MOVIE Stop was one of them) and due to their overbuying was cause for the bankruptcy proceedings.)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Week In Review: TE Radio 20, Alan Vega, Craig Erickson

From the newswire:  Alan Vega, singer in the protopunk duo Suicide passed away in his sleep.  He was 78.. Suicide made a couple of albums of note in the late 70s, I think Ric Ocasek produced their 1978 S/T effort.  I've seen them play on the long forgotten Live at the Peppermint Lounge show on USA, and really never gotten into their music.  A bit too abstract for me.

Leslie Witt worked at WXRT for 39 years, being that rare DJ of hanging around the same station despite Corporate Rock changes.  She passed away from ovarian cancer.

Sister Hazel Williams, not a musician but the Gainesville missionary who set up her own Angels Of Mercy Ministries which inspired jam band to take up her name Sister Hazel in tribute passed away on Friday.  She was 91.

Garry Williams, famed producers for the likes of Happy Days, Pretty Woman, Jack Parr and The Tonight Show and many others passed away from a stroke Tuesday.  He was 81.

Dennis Green, who coached Northwestern for a time and then Minnesota an the Arizona Cardinals (which he gave his infamous tirade about the Chicago Bears after they blew out his Cardinals on a Monday Night massacre ten years ago) passed away from a heart attack.  He was 67.

Lewie Steinberg, the original bass player for Booker T and The MGs, died Friday from cancer.  He was 82.  He played on Green Onions.

This weekend I really took time off to come up with a new show of Townedger Radio and stayed home Saturday and then did the Sunday Rumors Popcorn Jam.  It was the first jam that featured local guitar hero Craig Erickson.  Despite a very disappointing crowd and not too many jammers, people missed out perhaps some of the most fiery battle of the guitar between Craig and Tommy Bruner, who's been doing double duty with Past Masters and always finds a way to make to the jam after being somewhere in Missouri Saturday Night.   Even on a few hours' sleep Tommy did find ways to shine on the songs that he plays at The Popcorn Jam, You Can't Always Get What You Want or Gimme Shelter, this time out, with a second guitar player, the songs got extended past four or five minutes.  While Erickson did show his guitar flash, there were complaints from the faint of heart that the band was playing too loud.  In fact, the complaining was getting to be a bit too much, even to the point that host bass player Dan Johnson, practically shut his amp off during one of the songs.  With excellent cameos from Mike Lint, D J Hovenstot and Barb Myers, it turned out to be the Craig Erickson show and he shined on Shaky Ground and on the finale Comfortably Numb, which is turning out to be the jam's closing theme, with Terry McDowell's pounding beat. Two months after Tim Duffy's move, Terry has continued to put together some great host jammers, most of the time it has been Tommy Bruner and Dan Johnson doing the majority of the work and all have been very supporting of the jammers and those who pop up on stage.  But they have competing with Cooters Acoustic jam that's across 1st Ave and closer to home the Stone City Sunday Jam and the jammers have been fewer and fewer, although there is no shortage of drummers who show up.   The two guitars of Sunday's lineup has been a rarity and the guesswork is that most guitar players are either at the acoustic jam or playing a Sunday Afternoon gig.  Certainly Terry has worked his butt off to make the popcorn jam a success or keeping it afloat, Tommy Bruner remains the MVP since getting other guitar players have been much harder to find or even less, bass players, Dan Johnson was the sole bass player.  For now, the Popcorn Jam has holding its own, with Terry promising more of a harder rocking future jam, unless the owner of Rumors decides he's had enough and pulls the plug. But I'll do my best to continue to support the efforts  of The Popcorn Jam for as long as its fun or when it ends, whichever comes first.

(Photo: John Hernandez)

It turns out that Tommy Bruner mentioned that it was the first time he and Craig has jammed together in 42 years.  Hard to believe that both have been gigging in town for so long and it took them that long to get together once again.  On another side note in local bands, Dana "Rocky" Smith is now playing drums for Kick It, replacing Herman Sarduy who was last seen telling the female drummer from Flawd Logic to check out John Bonham videos on You Tube.

For the past month on my daily walks around the trail I have seen a majority of Smart phone zombies glued to their small screen in playing the absurd Pokemon Go game.  Basically I'm not going to comment much on zombie nation since I've seen many around New Bo, Rumors Bar And Grill, Thomas Park, Wasteland Mall in tune with their searching for Pokemon or who ever.  Just remember not to venture too far off trail, or avoid cow pastures.  For these couple, for their effort they got the future steak sandwich of America chasing them up a telephone pole.  Take that all you zombies.

(Photo Credit: J&K Farms)

Such wild weather we had over the weekend.  July brings heat and humidity, with the usual late night monsoons and basically I managed to sleep through another wild wind and rain storm, to which a EF-2 tornado ripped a roof off a apartment building and collapsed a house in Vinton as well as another EF2  twister smashed into Walford, that happened early Sunday Morning. Two more twisters were confirmed, an EF-1 that tore up a ag Co op building in Andrew and another small twister in Parkview.   There were plenty of tree branches and limbs on the ground in Cedar Rapids but up here we had mostly rain and some leaves fallen off trees and all over my car.  I think I slept through it all.

Since I crossed off doing the WNBR Madison last month, I opted out on the 9th annual St Louis WNBR trip, which is rivaling Portland and Chicago for most participants.  I'm sure there was a few of the Madison crowd that decided to take things off and ride around town in the buff.  For next year I might decide to show up in Mad City again, but this time out wearing some cool silk boxers, which had I found them in time last month I would have wore them instead.  The Riverfront New Times covered the whole thing, and of course, some of the pictures are not safe for work or for virgin eyes either.

As I get older, the less I'm interested in today's shenanigans of what The Kasdashians do or what Taylor Swift does  or if both Kim and Kayne butt heads with Taylor.  The social media world continues to blow up on such nonsense. The Look At Me I'm Wonderful persona that is Kim and autotuning Kanye just begs for attention, just like the last decade when Paris Hilton was sending tongues wagging and fingers tapping on computer boards. For Taylor Swift, she has become the poster girl for psychos with her going through relationships like I do on the weekly CD reviews and she has transformed from country star to pop diva.  She might be fighting Lady Gaga for this Century's Madonna, but I'm too old to care anymore.    Lady Gaga has been on the downside as well, Antipop didn't do as well as she thought it would and she broke up with her boyfriend after five years after a Valentine's Day proposal. It is beginning to look that love never lasts in life anymore, even less when you're in the social media spotlight.  If Taylor Swift did things right and invested her money, she would have never work again in her life, but we all know that she'll continue to fall in love and break up with future guys and will be fodder for TMZ in her battles with Kanye Kadashian and Katy Perry and write songs about it.  As for myself, I wish it could be 1968 all over again and didn't have to deal with rap or autotuned pop songs.  At least the divas back then made you have wet dreams about them, rather than the new stars of today that gives me dry heaves.   The Music of 1968 was much better than this crap you hear on radio today.

If you really care, Mick Jagger is having baby number 8 with his 29 year old love steady.  And in the meantime so is about 50,000 other folks this week. It just adds more woe to the population explosion to this world but in Jagger's case, the baby should not have to worry about starving too much.

The big stink this week was the Republican National Convention to which Donald Trump was paraded around in big fashion.  Spoiled sport Ted Cruz, looking forward to the 2020 election refused to give his blessing to Trump.  Meanwhile Third Eye Blind pissed off the right wing crowd by not playing their big hits of the 1990s and taunted the crowd by saying Do You Believe In Science, which was greeted with boos.  Perhaps they should have done a cover of She Blinded Me With Science.

Record Review Time:

Bud Powell/Don Byas-A Tribute To Cannonball  (Columbia 1961)

Basically Julian "Cannonball"  Adderley produced this comeback album of sorts for Don Byas who hadn't recorded since 1955 and to pair him up with the erratic and eccentric Bud Powell pays dividends.  This 1961 recording session wouldn't see the day of light till 1979 when Columbia issued it as an afterthought and then reissued it on CD. Byas is an throwback to the hard bop era and has a real easy going swing to his saxophone playing.   Adderley somehow managed to get some inspired performances from both Powell and Byas, who was going through his own demons.  Long time bass player for Powell Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke provide a steady rhythm section.  The CD has the only track that Adderley plays on, a in progress version of Cherokee, otherwise this is Byas' showcase.  Certainly the uptempo Just One Of Those Things do start things a jumping as well as Myth but also they could do a nice slow tempo song (I Remember Clifford).  There maybe other important and better jazz albums but A Tribute To Cannonball, is historic for perhaps one of the last  time that Byas and Powell played top notch and compliment one another , but it's also Julian Adderley's ability to be a excellent producer as well.   For standard 1961 jazz jams, it's worth to hear it.
Grade B+

The Firesign Theater-Shoes For Industry (Columbia/Legacy 1993)

For radio comedy of sorts, The Firesign Theater was hit and miss, but Sony Music decided to compile their best works into a sprawling 2 CD overview that captures just about all the highlights from their Columbia and Epic solo albums.   They owed more to old time radio and The Goon Show, they predated Monty Python by about 2 years.  Of course they had to include the original Nick Danger sketch, all 28 minutes of it, plus the followup detective shoes, including a Chinese version of Nick Danger.  Of course there are other classic moments, Beat The Reaper to which the secret disease wipes everybody out, a spoof on the Archie Comics (High School Madness!)  and Forward Into The Past, which revisits old time events into a old radio style show.   The drop in quality skits is noticeable on disc 2, (The Breaking Of The President, is awful).  However, Temporarily Humboldt County is dead on about the white man taking over the land from Indians and putting them on reservations.   Taken as a whole Shoes For Industry makes me lose interest on the subpar moments.
Grade B

Ronnie Dove-Rarities  (Collectibles 1998)

His easy listening pop hits reminded me of Bobby Vinton and Real Gone did compile most of his Diamond  hits of the 1960s, he was MOR but may have been one of the first artists to cover a Neil Diamond song and have Ray Stevens arranged a couple of songs in the process.  And like Bobby Vinton is easily heard in small doses.  This is all over the map taken from various labels but this time out, Rarities revealed that Ronnie Dove was a very good country singer as well.  Starting with one of his final Diamond singles of the 1960s, the over the top What's Wrong With My World (Dove would return to Diamond in the mid 1980s for a trio of singles), the album then slowly goes into a more country mode beginning with Never Gonna Cry.  It's hard to tell where the majority of the songs come from from various labels and since Dove has the masters, some of them came from processed fake stereo mixes that sound very dated.  And also suffers from the Nashville Edition backing vocals that also dates itself and such lush pop arrangements even on the country songs.  Something akin to what Jimmy Bowen was doing when he was producing  Dean Martin's Reprise hits.   A more reliable comparison would be Billy Joe Royal's time at Atlantic in the 1980s after his Columbia hits dried up.  Dove's better songs were done during his time at Motown's country division Melodyland/Hitsville to which Please Come To Nashville Dove finally puts it all together country style.  B side Pictures On Paper could have been a hit too.  A 1973 minor hit for MCA So Long Dixie is also included.  When Dove tries to go R and B it's sounds too Vegas to work for me (Sunny) and the way this album was put together seems scattershot, but that doesn't mean it's a waste of time.  In fact, had Dove decided to do a strictly country best of that would have been a better idea.  His voice, like Billy Joe Royal was high lonesome enough to generate hits, but Motown couldn't promote anything country and they had T G Shepard.  If nothing else Please Come To Nashville is a highlight upon itself but the best track may have been California Cowboy, to which I have no idea what label had that, a big missed opportunity that might have been a top ten hit single.  Dove might be better known as Diamond's (the label) answer to Bobby Vinton, but in the long run, I liked him better as a country artist.
Grade B+

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band-Delilah: The Best Of (Universal 2013)

In a perfect world Alex Harvey would be better known than just a cult hero but his studio albums could be spotty (Faith Healer was much better heard on the Live album), I think Castle put out a best of years ago but that too missed the mark.  But in some ways the world does some sort of overview.  Harvey could cover just about everything from School's Out to Framed to even Crazy Horses (The Osmonds!).  But then again the best way to hear Alex Harvey is to hear them live and the 1975 Live album covers all of his best songs from Vambo to Give My Compliments To The Chef (this version is the BBC version) to the Tomahawk Kid and of course Framed and the campy title track.   Even in his later years, he was way ahead of the times and never caught on in the states but he had a great band backing him up, the zany Zal Cleminson on guitar, Chris Glen and Ted McKenna the driving bass and drums duo, people to this day still rave about Harvey having the best damn rock band backing him up.  For studio albums, I'd go with Tomorrow Belongs To Me but for a mix tape overview it does the trick.  But I still say buy Live.
Grade B+

Jim Kweskin's America  (Reprise 1971)

For an album of standards, this is mighty fucking depressing.  As I'm sitting here trying to tolerate side 2's three long six minute songs and really just want to kill myself after hearing this.  Probably the most depressing Old Ragged Cross ever recorded, and I tend to believe that Robert Christgau is right, the Lyman Family isn't much fun to be around with.  He gave this record a B minus and he might have been too generous.  If Kweskin keeps it under three minutes it works better, Okie From Muskogee, Back In The Saddle Again are the two best moments, Sugar Babe comes in third.  After that, you might as well quit playing the record.  The liner notes are a hoot.  The music: they make Morrissey sound like Pharrell Williams.  Isn't that an accomplishment you never thought you would hear.  Don't take me up on that offer, you'll regret it.   Trust me.
Grade D+

Album From My Youth-Chuck Berry-Fresh Berries (Chess 1966)

One of my earliest album buys ever, I think it may have been my second or third album. Chuck was nearing the end of his Chess Records tenure, Mercury threw a ton of cash his way and those albums continue his long decline and he never did win over the hippie crowd, despite making a half assed attempt with Steve Miller and his band which that record has remained in print.  History has actually treated Fresh Berries with a lot more respect than those Mercury albums, although Berry was getting very lazy with his riffs.  Hell, he repeats himself wit the same riff on My Mustang Ford and the remake of Louis Jordan's Ain't That Just Like A Woman.  Berry made it clear that Jordan was the father of rock and roll, he even does a Latin version of Run Joe.   Berry's Chess albums always had some sort of filler to them, even classics  like Rockin At The Hops and St. Louis to Liverpool has some filler track, not as much as Fresh Berries though. He was never a convincing bluesman and Wee Wee Hours tend to plod along.  But Dave Edmunds did cover It's My Own Business and George Thorogood It Wasn't Me, the two best songs off this album.   In the end, I can't say it's a album to remember ole Chuck by, but compared to the bloated, uninspired and out of touch Mercury albums, it would be his last good album.
Grade B

Townedger Radio 20-Broadcast on Lucky Star Radio 7/20/16


Blondie-The Iron City Houserockers
What's Wrong With Yo Yo-The Van DeLeckis
Get It Over With-The Townedgers
Big Boat-Peter, Paul And Mary
Best Friend-Senseless Things
Leland-35 Summers
Got My Mojo Workin-Muddy Waters
Leaving Here-Eddie Holland
Bim Bam-Sam Butera With The Witnesses
He's Gonna Step On You Again-John Kongos
Let's Dance-Chris Rea
When The Skies Come Falling Down-The Pursuit Of Happiness
Keep A Walking-Sam And Dave
Solid Rock-Dire Straits
Greenback Dollar (45 Version)-The Kingston Trio
You Tell Me Why-The Townedgers

Setlist from The Dawn via Sean Ryan  (Photo: Dye Photography)

The Dawn- Camp Euforia 7/15/16

Roses Are Free, Let Me Down Easy, Comeback^, Freezeframe, Blue Indian, A Little Piece Of Mind, Ticklelicous, Don't It Make You Wanna Dance, Paradise

^= w/ Austin from Euforquestra

Featuring Edub Wilson on percussion for entire set


Friday, July 15, 2016

Rock And Roll And Whatever Happened To Amy

Love is a fleeting moment.  Sometimes it flashes past you like a shooting star.  And it disappears into the dark.

In this life, 34 summers ago, I was playing some video game at Show Biz Pizza, which would become Chuckie Cheese.  I seem to recall that Show Biz had good pizza and Chuck E Cheese not so much, a step ahead of Little Caesar's maybe?   I don't know, I was working a shit job, and Friday I get paid enough to dump about 5 dollars worth of quarters into the video games up at Show Biz.  Just another wasted night I guess.  I think I bought a couple albums at Record Realm, I know Fleetwood Mac Then Play On was one of them, the other I'm not sure, The Rockets Rocket Roll maybe?   Anyway, I was minding my own, playing Centipede, when I had some petite woman pop up and started a conversation with me.  She wore glasses, sexy in her way, although I didn't care much for her perm hairdo.  But I was polite and chatting a spell with her.

Her name was Amy and she lived in town over by Wellington; I consider her place was less of the gang bangers that popped around Beaver Avenue and 15th St.  Don't recall her last name; it may have been Holtz of Fultz, it's all moot now.  What struck me odd was that I seen her with a dude, which turn out to be her boyfriend.  He looked like a Bubba, and had a 4X4 Chevy out in the parking lot.  Basically hearing that I excused myself from her conversation and back to the video game.  Half hour later she came back and mentioned that her better half went on without her and if I could drop her home.  Being the good Samaritan that I am, I did take her home but somehow we got into some sort of conversation and we managed to spend a couple hours at the parking area across from Quaker Oats till about 1:30 AM, after saying a long goodbye.

When I met her I think it was in July. Somehow she managed to look into the phone book and decided to see how many Smith's she could find till she found me.  I have to hand it to her, she eventually did.  And so I was shocked when my mom called me out of my room to say there was a woman on the line wanting me.  I thought it was a crank call.  Perhaps it should have been.  So we chatted a while and agreed to meet at the mall and spent a couple hours hanging around, or maybe gone to Ellis Blvd to watch the boats on the river.  She did give me her phone number and I promised to call back sometime.  But throughout those two weeks, Amy would call at night, even after midnight which didn't set well with Mom.  So I didn't hear from her in a week, but I did see her and Bubba at Show Biz soon after.  The next day she called and wanted to get together again.

We met in the Lindale Mall parking area, and she drove a Mustang a 78 or 79 I think. It was a red one. So I got in and we drove out to Ellis, watching a ball game but I think she wanted more than just going to a ball game.  Perhaps she was tired of Bubba and his 4X4 truck.  But what did I offer her that he couldn't give?  A big record collection?  A five piece drum set starting at you when you open the door to the bedroom?  It certainly wasn't money, I had none and living at home, and would rather hang at The Record Bar or Record Realm.    As much as I wanted Amy to be a part of this life, the problem was that everytime I saw her, she was with Bubba and wouldn't look my way but once he was doing something other, she'd be coming around the corner.   Something wasn't right and I'd be dammed if I was going to get into confrontation with Bubba just in case he caught us together.  In our conversations I had one eye on her and one eye out in the parking lot, just in case a oversized Ford came barreling down the parking lot.

I recall a moonlit night around 11 PM as we got back to the Mall.  She then parked the car and asked "So what do you think of me?" and I mentioned that I thought of her as a friend, even respected her.  Her eyes, full of infatuation, lit up the night time skies, maybe a bit of devilish delight, kept persisting "what else"? she kept saying.  "Oh I don't know but that new Rockets album Rocket Roll is their best album of 1982, how does that grab you?"  But in the back of my mind I'm going OMG, this chick has got the hots for me...(and she has a boyfriend out there that might come out of nowhere and bury me in the mud outside of Ellis Park too).  Somehow between the bantering and plodding, she managed to whisper out a quick I love you.

And then it got quiet.  Real quiet.

You what?  (granted in the moment of infatuation people will blurt out something like I love you just to see what kind of effect that will give you-At that moment, the last person that said they loved me was some ditzy freshman girl in high school, and that caught me off guard too).   It's been years since anybody said they love me, even in jest.

I think the silence from me kinda took Amy by surprise.  Somehow we jested about it once about going to bed (typical early 20th banter but she did say Could we?).  My goodness she is serious about this?!  I'm seeing things changing before my very eyes and all Amy had to do was lean over and slowly throw her arms around me and give a soft kiss.  And then my defenses would have been down and life would have been very much different.  But in that pregnant pause, it did recover me to the point that all of a sudden this wasn't going to work out.  And I wasn't going to come between her and Bubba.  After a few more exchanges of what's wrong with me or whatever the case may have been, I finally mentioned that I cannot love her in the way that she wanted me to love her.    I basically, that I do love you (in a way) but I cannot touch you since you are seeing Bubba (since he at that time gave her a engagement ring a week before this encounter).  And I'm not about to come between both of you.  She then smiled and said "we can still be friends?"  Of course, and then I held her hand for a few minutes.  And then we both went separate ways and back home.

She might have called once or twice afterwards but I think even she knew that she wasn't going to leave Bubba.  And I don't think we were meant for each other, she didn't care much for my friends or family, and she certainly wouldn't want a drummer/record collector in her life either.   A year later I did call her, but her sister mentioned that Amy moved out to be with Bubba.    In 1988, when I was downtown Cedar Rapids, I was watching a band with a few friends and I think I saw her with her husband Bubba with a couple of young daughters tagging around.  My friend Dennis, pointed toward her and mentioned wasn't that the one who was chasing you at Show Biz years ago?  I looked and mentioned "could be".    He said, ya know that could have been  you with her and the girls.  I nodded and said that could have been a possibility.    There was a chance that could have come together on a hot July night, but it didn't feel right.

Looking back I think both me and her made the right choice.  I'm sure they're still together and perhaps she is now the grandmother and I wish her happiness and best of luck.  As for myself, I'm still the record and CD collector and hoarder and drummer and still blog about it here at Record World.   And sometimes my collecting habits are very hard to break.  Even love loses out to the next batch of music that I find.

It's only life but it is what I do best.

(Parts of this blog taken from the Paraphernalia Chronicles, based on observations by R. Smith (C) 1982 Record Hoarder Communications Inc.) 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week In Review: The Dawn And On Jam 2016, Steven Tyler

One of the most exciting things that happened over last weekend was The Dawn hosting their own jam session in Moline, with plenty of bands to take the stage.

The set list taken from The Dawn FB Site

(Photo: Ashley Crider-Dawn And On Festival 7/9/16)

WOW!!!! Yesterday was amazing! Dawn and On 2016 was a huge success! Thank you to everyone involved! It was the highlight of the year and we love you all so much!!!! See you at DAO 2017!!!!
The Dawn- DAO 7/9/16
Freezeframe, A Little Piece of Mind, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes*, Paradise, While My Guitar Gently Weeps^, St. Augustine^, Troubled Days, Walking On The Moon# >2001, Ticklelicious
Encore: Young Americans+
Encore 2: Rosanna#
*= with Candy Trumpet, Bethann Gavin, Erin Moore and Christina Strickland Boyer
^= with Joe Marcinek
#= with Derek Fortin
+= with Derek Fortin and Kelsey Lillion
Percussion guests= Joe McKinney, Edub Wilson and Cush Chrisman

Next up: The Down On The Farm Festival July 29-30 in Manhattan Illinois. 

 (Photo: Julie and the mad dogs facebook site)

Closer to home, Friday Night was a wild party down at Rumors, as Julie And The Mad Dogs took over the stage with special guest stars such as Scott Sanborn, KGAN/FOX 28 news anchor.  Since April The Record World folk continue to take notice of their last few dates with their future up in the air.  But the world's worst kept secret is that they will continue to play around the area, they are not breaking up.  Plenty of rock and roll was still coming from past the 1 AM cut off time, with guest jammers wailing away at Van Halen Ain't Talking About Love, AIC Boy In The Box and Voodoo Chile before the plug was pulled.    Of course, Mike Serbousek got to sing Johnny B Goode with the infamous Crabby playing mad drums, plus a couple other songs.  Although, I couldn't make it till the final set (busy at work), their final set, they managed to get the folks on the dance floor.  Sunday, Mad Dog guitarist Dakota McWhortor joined the Rumor's Popcorn Jam with Troy Harper and myself for a few classic rock favorites.  Anybody that plays Cinnamon Girl is super cool in my book.  Highlight of that Sunday jams was War Pigs, which Terry McDowell kicked major butt.  Surprised that Black Sabbath didn't pick him to do their farewell tour.

Saturday I had plans to catch Four Day Creep, Rick Clay's southern rock style band at Cedar River Landing but it was company night at the ball park, so I ended up going to that and watching the disappointing Cedar Rapids Kernels lose to Kane Country 7-4 before 3500 people.  For 24 dollars you get to sit in the upper deck, eat as much hot dogs, hamburgers and brats as you can or have your choice of 7 oz pop or beer.  It seems to me that each year, they jack the price up and offer less and less.  I wasn't impressed with the pork and beans, (they were crunchy) and in typical clumsy ass fashion I managed to drop my hamburger on the damn floor.  It didn't help much to have two brats sitting down the aisle getting up to go grab more pop or hot dogs and come back, sit down for two seconds and off they go again.  Should have trade places with them,  I counted about 28 times they got up their chair to do something and come back again.  Plus having lower back spams didn't help the situation either.   As it stands, I don't think the Kernels have the players to get to the playoffs this time out, all the good players have been promoted to double A or triple A and in their spot, they get shaky infielders with batting averages lower than the Mendoza Line, and the relief pitching is awful.  Derreck Rodriguez, who stunk up the joint last time I've seen them play in May, did pitched better this time out, but the reliever came in, walked a batter, next batter got a hit and then a Kane County player hit a 3 run home run and Kane County never looked back.

Joe Perry needs a rest.  Sunday he was playing with The Hollywood Vampires when all of a sudden he felt sick and collapsed behind the stage as they were playing I Gotta Line On You.  He's in stable condition and resting comfortably and should be back on stage some time in the near future.  On another note, isn't Steven Tyler's country album out yet?   

It's All Star Break, and the Chicago Cubs need a break. They finally managed to beat Pittsburgh 6-5 Sunday but since losing Dexter Fowler to a hamstring, they have been 7-17 and lead the Pirates by six and a half games.  Still the Cubs are 17 games over 500, but the past two weeks, they simply have wilted under playing 22 straight games and Jake Arreita beginning to walk more people, he isn't the dominant pitcher he was in April/May.  The Cubs simply stunk it up when The Mets swept them in four last weekend.  Here's hoping that if they play each other in the playoffs, the Cubs can sweep them.

Passings: Danny Smythe, drummer for the Box Tops died July 6th.  He was 67.

This week's reviews:

Steven Tyler-We're All Somebody From Somewhere (Dot/Big Machine 2016)

This is about as country as Music From Another Dimension was and just as bombastic.  Take away the pseudo fiddle, the twangy mandolin, and that banjo and set time back two decades and it comes across a rock album, but without Aerosmith's rocking sensibility and more ballads than Get A Grip.  The majority of the tracks are produced with John Henry (T Bone) Burnett, and the worst tracks are done by Dann Huff (responsible for that God awful Red White And You, Only Heaven  and Love Is Your Name).  Tyler does co write three songs with the goofy Warren Brothers  and My Own Worst Enemy sounds more at home on MFAD then here, at least Aerosmith could rock out the ending much better.  Like Music From Another Dimension, Tyler tries too hard to be all everything and the record tends to be a clash of ideas, certainly the world didn't need another version of Janie's Got A Gun.  Take away the Bro Country shenanigans of White Red And You or Love Is Your Name, and focus more on the blues side of things (Tyler's last good album was Honkin on Bobo) and this record could be remembered in a different light.  The record isn't all trash, pick your spots and the songs do stand out.  Gypsy Girl is one of Tyler's better ballads, and there's a sly sense of humor in The Good, The Bad, The Ugly And Me or I Make My Own Sunshine.  For the rockers, you have Marti Fredicksen production with his usual mixed results although the cover of Piece Of My Heart with The Loving Mary Band is a nice fun romp.  But Tyler, nor his production team could stick with the country formula before getting desperate and coming up with a few ballads in the style of Get A Grip or for that matter the song Crazy.  Like Music From Another Dimension, it ends up trying everything and pleasing nobody.  It took Big Machine and Universal a year after sitting on this to finally releasing it. And come in a couple weeks this record will be forgotten as well.
Grade C


The Cure Greatest Hits (Elektra 2001)

In my lifetime I never paid much attention to Robert Smith and his band, I did had Staring At The Sea a couple times but both CDs seem to skip.  I basically got Greatest Hits for research in case of a forthcoming band project and if somebody wanted to do Love Song.  In essence, I can't thumb my nose at the whole thing, their better known songs do have a catchy hook to them being the staggered three beat of Boys Don't Cry, the power goth pop of Friday I'm In Love or the drummer's china crashes of Lullaby.  I suppose the best songs do come off their late 80s and early 90s albums, since their early stuff came on Sire, none of that is on this album and technically, Boys Don't Cry is the best starting point.  Smith's EDM fixations tends to drag this a bit, the new songs Cut Here and Just Say Yes, are merely filler.  But as they say, if you want the best overview and can't find Staring At The Sea, Greatest Hits is as advertised.
Grade B+

Tesla-Five Man Acoustical Jam (Geffen 1990)

In some ways, this record did usher in the unplugged era, not that it started with this album mind you, but rather Jules Shear did something called Unplugged for VH-1, to which artist simply brought their acoustic guitars and jam for an hour.   Tesla, in my opinion was a hard rock band, not hair metal, their music had too much bite for the pap of the likes of Poison or Britney Fox.  Their first two albums were decent hard rock but both albums clocked at around an hour, which tends to bore the less interested.  This record no exception, clocking close to 68 minutes and this too, tends to wonder all over the place.  The problem is the acoustic version of Coming Atcha and (No Way Out )Heaven's Trail are for electric guitars, realizing that, they do plug in the finale of Love Song to which the fans really go all out.  Despite a few F Bombs, Tesla reveals that they do have a love of classic rock in the five tracks, a made up as they go Truckin, nice versions of We Can Work It Out and Lodi and a well deserved hit in the remake of Signs, a song that Jeff Keith wishes that they could written that one.  As for a live performance, Tesla sounds inspired and they are having lots of fun as well as the Philadelphia crowd.  While some people think Nirvana's unplugged Cd is definite, I tend to favor Tesla's good time sightly more.
Grade B+

Raindogs-Border Drive In Theater (Atco 1991)

The Raindogs were stuck in between music styles:  they were not hair metal, nor grunge, but they weren't country either, they were kind of a gentler John Mellencamp.  Their second album for Atco went right into the budget bins which is kind of a shame,  Some Fun, featuring Harry Dean Stinton doing some poetry in the middle section is really a good Americana track.  While Don Gehman (Mellencamp, Hootie And The Blowfish) produced this, it's Kevin Smith who recorded this and without the sonic thump of Gehman's previous albums with John Mellencamp, the drums do sound a bit like cardboard boxes.  Mark Cutler, who sounds like Steve Wynn writes 9 tales of love and woe and basic craziness (Dance Of The Freaks, features Iggy Pop reciting a poem, complete with a MF bomb) as well as a stripped down Let's Work Together.   The only  time Cutler gets into Mellencamp territory is Look Out Your Window, but he does throw a Tom Petty reference is on side 2 opener Stop Shakin' Me Down, with the late Johnny Cunningham adding violin touches.  25 years down the road, Border Drive In Theater has kinda lost a bit of it's hooky charm that made me played it regularly and spoke of it as a lost budget classic.  It still remains a likeable record and anybody does name their album after a drive in, will still get three and a half stars in the final analysis.  Too bad that Atlantic never gave much thought about promoting the album and writing it off as a tax loss, three months after the release and throw it in the bargain bins.   It deserved a better fate.
Grade B+

Kenny Neal-Hoodoo Moon (Alligator 1994)

For fourth generation blues, Neal has carved out a nice little blues career himself.  From Baton Rouge, Neal recorded for Alligator in the 1990s, most have their moments and although I really don't know much about his music, Hoodoo Moon is a nice polished updated sort of Louisiana bayou blues via way of Chicago and he is working with Lucky Petersen on this album.  At times he reminds me a laid back Bobby Bland or Tyrone Davis.  Yes we get the usual name checking on I'm A Blues Man, the BB King type of playing and a dated 90s horn charts but look deeper and on the best moment, he covers Warren Haynes' If Wishes Were Nickels.  Even while covering Elmore James It Hurts Me Too, he does bring his own style to that song. Very workmanlike but professionally well done.
Grade B+

Albums from my youth:  The Rolling Stones-Some Girls (Rolling Stone 1978)

Perhaps the last classic Stones album ever made?   Hard to say, since it starts out with the disco shuffle of Miss You and side 2's opener's Far Away Eyes were the two tracks I didn't care much for. But after Miss You, we got the hard rocking When The Whip Comes Down with perhaps my favorite line of all time: when the shit's bad, sitting on the can, or that's how I made out the words.  And then after Far Away Eyes, we got Respectable.  For the best song, I tend to enjoy their cover of Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) and runner up Shattered.   Getting Chris Kimsey to record it was a good idea, he certainly brighten up the mix better than Goat's Head Soup or It's Only Rock And Roll.  Some people took offense on the title track, it didn't bother me much, nor did Beast Of Burden, which was kind of boring to these ears.  I also didn't think Ron Wood was better used for the album, I think he had more of a identity on Black And Blue more, but this is more Keith Richard's album anyway, with his Chuck Berry riffs and of course his usual vocal song in Before They Make Me Run.  I used to think this was a solid A album and some ways it still earns that A grade despite classic rock radio running Miss You and Beast Of Burden into the ground.  And the rockers still remain great rockers, and Lies a not bad filler rocker.  But The Stones would never make that hardcore classic album ever again, they came somewhat close with Emotional Rescue (more than Tattoo You but just my opinion) and Voodoo Lounge.   You can say they basically coasted on their albums of the past and simply made albums for the fact of having something new out.  Some Girls is the last of the five star albums.
Grade A

Singles going steady Medley-Madison Leftovers on the country side

Fan The Flame, Feed The Fire-Don Gibson (ABC Hickory AH-54010)  1977
Best known for his RCA singles, Gibby stayed for a long time at Hickory Records, even as that label was absorbed into the ABC banner.  A great songwriter, by then Don started to cherry pick other songwriters, most notably Eddy Raven who came up with this top 40 country hit single. Harmonica none other than by Charlie McCoy who played on just about everything that needed a harmonica to it.

Another Lonely Night-Carl Belew  (Decca 31200) 1961

File this under forgotten country singers of the past, Belew is best known for co writing Lonely Street and sung by many folks.  A hard honky tonkin song, it does sound like Owen Bradley produced it and arranged it. Sure beats anything bro country today.  This was in the mist of Belew's first tenure at Decca Records (from 1959 to 1961) which his biggest known hit was Am I That Easy To Forget (1959).  Carl went to RCA for 8 years before returning back to Decca/MCA in 1970 though 1974. In his time, he never did release Lonely Street as a stand alone single though.

Three Days-Faron Young (Capitol 4696)  1962

Another song co written with Willie Nelson, this was winding down his time at Capitol Records. A honky tonk song with a bizarre guitar lead.  You have to hear it to believe it.

It's Not Supposed To Be That Way-Steve Young (RCA PB-10868)  1976
Young's best known for Seven Bridges Road but he covered this Willie Nelson tune to little fanfare.

Not So Long Ago-Marty Robbins (Columbia 4-42831)  1963
A honky tonk update of El Paso.  Hard to figure Marty at times, he could do cowboy songs, he could honky tonk, he could do rockabilly, he could also do pop too.  With mixed results. For fun and giggles try to hear the El Paso melody in the lyrics.

You Got Me Runnin-Jim Glaser  (Noble Vision NV-102)  1983
A cover of the Parker McGee 1977 song that Gene Cotton got a modest hit out of.  A nice song but it does sound dated even for 1983.

American Heartbeat-Survivor  (Scotti Brothers ZS4-03213)  1982 #17
Follow up to their Eye Of The Tiger hit (#1), but you don't hear this on the radio, nor see it on their first best of.  Basically very cliche sounding and played to the masses.

I'm Going Home-The Kingston Trio (Decca 31730)  1964
Their second single for Decca after being on Capitol for many years.  Even for a folk single it's kind of blah to hear.

Love Is Blue-Paul Mauriat (Philips 40495 or Double sided hit 872 852-7)  1968 #1

Perhaps the weirdest hippie dippy classic of them all, it's basically more of a muzak pop instrumental that somehow both young and old seem to like. Grooving Harpsichord, rocking strings and horns and an uptempo playing drummer, it might be the only song that got played on the underground FM station and muzak station back in 68, but that's the power of an hook driven song.   But this also concludes this medley of the rest of the 45's that I found in Madison last month, not much rock and roll but plenty of country and oddball music.  I'm not sure if this finally tips Record World into the land of the anything but rock and roll singles, or simply the world's most hoarded batch of 45s in the neighborhood. Anyhoo, this completes this month's selection of the latest batch of 45s for now.  Or until, I get wowed again by the next big bunch of finds at either BDW or The Davenport Salvation Army store.  And judging by the past three Singles Going Steady Medleys or full blog, they have been hit and miss.

I do miss the days before vinyl became popular again.  I had better finds.

From Toprock Arizona, it's been three years since I've been out in the desert and doesn't look like I'll be there this year, but David Carbillido-Jeans managed to catch a BNSF on the main railway line and took this photo. (Via Trains Magazine: Photo by David Carbillido-Jeans)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Singles Going Steady 32-Madison Melodies

Heard that I was missed.  Basically I haven't gone away, I was updating some things in the archives and adding content to my music page The Townedgers.  Yes, I still have this urge to play in bar bands once again and I have on occasion sat in on a song or two or three. But I'm not going to sit by the phone and wait for that call to grab my drums and head on down to Rumors or Hot Shots to play Brown Eyed Girl.  I have been first and foremost a record collector that prides himself on looking for the hard to find music that nobody else cares about anymore.  I don't think nobody else on the internet has given any consideration to the talents of Cliff Steward and The San Francisco Boys lately.  The only band I really want to keep going have announced that their drummer will remain in the band and they continue to play around the area.  Which means I will finally get back to record collecting full time soon.  That is if there's any records out there that I haven't known about.

Last month was a triumphed return to Madison to see what the St. Vincent De Paul had for 45s and also taking a bike ride on the wild side.  Fighting muscle cramps, I still managed to add a few more choice quality 45's to which we spin the black circle.  Like BDW Records, there are cool stuff out there, problem is, a lot of it isn't exactly rock and roll but rather in the country and western field, or pop.  But if you have an open mind, a forgotten artist song can brighten up your day.  If not, you can always donate the record back to charity.  But even with an open mind, I do know what I'm looking for and that's something out not heard on the radio anymore and with Corporate radio sucking the life out of the overplayed, there is no shortage of unheard music.   I've given up trying to find a picture sleeve of Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix, unless I'm willing to put a second mortgage on the house and I'm not about to do that. I can only do so much nostalgia, and my wallet can only take so many hits.

Madison still has three record stores of worthiness, Mad City Music Exchange, Strictly Discs and Sugar Shack, the forth one B Sides on State Street I don't think has any 45s but then again I may not looked hard enough.  For cheap 45s, it is St. Vincent De Paul, the Goodwill and Salvation Army never seems to have any, and if there is any, the records are in poor shape.  Likewise Savers.  Of course there are record scavengers out there who find them and then bump the price up on EBAY, which sucks the life out of record collecting in this day and age.  The resources are drying up, unless somebody dies and their relatives end up donating them to the thrift stores.  Basically Mad City Music X and Sugar Shack's 45's are very hit and miss, scratched up and basically taking up space.  Nobody wants a Poor looking, cracked 45, unless they're doing some kind of art deco thingy.  Strictly Discs probably the more desirable ones, but I'm tired of those places naming their own price after looking up the value on the internet.  Let's face it, the golden era of 45s peaked about 40 years ago and those daya are not coming back.  The internet has given us wonderful things but they also have taken away the mom and pop bricks and mortar stores.   And there's nothing left to do but take chances at the local junk shop and come up with something.....

.....which I continue to have good luck finding things.  Which for the past five years I have been posting the findings here under the Singles Going Steady Banner.  And like the last few SGS pieces, a slant toward country and pop and once on occasion some rock and roll.  Used to be a time that I did something called Top Ten Of The Week and peppered some of the selections with 45s before I got bored with that.   But I never get bored in finding records and always enjoying to share them with you dear reader, although they're not a guaranteed ratings grabber.  At this point, blogs are nothing more than a time consuming celebration of finding something decent to play.   Even 60 year old 45s, when kept in good shape still play like new.  And those who used to have these, God bless you for taking good care of them.

1.   One Night-Elvis Presley (RCA Victor 47-7410)  #4  1958
       I Got Stung  #8

By this time, finding anything Elvis on Sun Records is out of the question but his RCA 45s are easier to find.  Thank you Betty Laugen for your copy of this Elvis classic.  I'm guessing the record is in VG shape, it plays well on One Night, a bit more rougher for I Got Stung, which I tend to like better.  Of course Smiley Lewis had a version of this song on Imperial, but Elvis sang it, although the lyrics got altered a bit.

2.  Big River-Chip Taylor (Warner Bros WBS 8128)  1975

Strange how all of the country band around town will cover Folsom Prison Blues but none of them will touch Big River.  The Shacklefords did it as a b side to their Mercury single (that vocalist none other than Lee Hazelwood) and Johnny Cash, who wrote it, took it to number 7 in 1958.  Chip Taylor is best known for penning Wild Thing but he did record a couple of  albums and singles on various labels, the best known were on Warners.  Although it's considered country, there's a bit of rockabilly on this live version from Taylor.  The single was taken from the album This Side Of The Big River, which is considered to be Taylor's best album.  Collector's Choice issued the album in 2006 (now out of print).  Another should have been hit single.

3.  Lucky Devil-Carl Dobkins Jr (Decca 9-31020)  #25  1959

A teen idol of sorts, Dobkins Jr is now basically forgotten, although if you're lucky enough My Heart Is An Open Book can be heard as a lost classic, never mind it made it to number 3 in March of 1959.  By December Dobkins, would take Lucky Devil up to number 25 although local markets had this song charted higher.   This record does have enough rock swing to it over the likes of Fabian or Bobby Rydell, but I do think Dobkins was more akin to Johnny Tillotson, although Johnny gets the nod with better song selection and name association.

4.  Please Come To Nashville-Ronnie Dove  (Melodyland ME 6004F)  1975

In 1975 thereabouts, Barry Gordy, owner of Motown decided that the time was right to start up a country and western label, originally called Melodyland but later changed to Hitsville and signed up some of the lesser known pop and rockabilly stars of yesterday, Dorsey Burnette and T.G. Shepherd who had the biggest hits for that label.  Strangely none of the Melodyland sides have shown up on CD format anywhere (in reality Shepherd's sides should have had a best of).  Ronnie Dove racked up a few big hits via Diamond Records in the 1960s but by 1975  he was regulated to the oldies circuit.  This uptempo gospel like country single didn't chart, but in some ways this reminds me of Billy Joe Royal's Atlantic years, where he went country.  One of the best songs Dove ever recorded despite the efforts of Mike Curb.

5.  Michelle-David And Jonathan (Capitol 5563)  #18 1966

File this under one hit wonders, but these guys are better known as Roger Cook and Roger Greenway, who wrote some big hits for the Fortunes (You Got Your Troubles) and The Hollies (Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress) and the White Plains stinker My Baby Loves Lovin. Under the David And Jonathan name they worked with George Martin on this Beatles cover. Their followup Lovers Of The World Unite, didn't make an impression in the US but in the UK it was their biggest hit at number 7. 

6.   Baby I Love You-Aretha Franklin (Atlantic 45-2427)  #4 1967

Soul music never was better than in the 1960s and you had a choice between Memphis soul via Stax, Chicago soul via Mercury/Brunswick, Philadelphia soul, and none finer than Atlantic soul.  However, the Queen of Soul toiled for five years at Columbia and had marginal success before signing with Atlantic and come firing away in 1967, with Respect hitting number 1, this was the followup and features the fine Fame/Muscle Shoals guys, David Hood and Roger Hawkins on drums.  And the hits would continue on for a few years.

7.   Country-Girl, City Man-Billy Vera and Judy Clay (Atlantic 45-2480)  #36  1968

Atlantic soul from the blue eyed soul of Billy Vera, teaming up with Judy as the first integrated singing duo, with two singles that Atlantic released.  Being 1968, this didn't set very well with America and whatever chance they had to promote the record was met with indifference and bigotry. Eventually there was a version done by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra (Storybook Children) that can be found a best of Nancy And Lee CD, if you can find it cheap.  Vera himself had meddling success with Atlantic in the late 60s but the number 36 placement of Country Girl would be his highest charting single for that label, before hitting number 1 with the 1986 remake of At This Moment, which Alfa issued as a single in 1981 and stalling out at number 79.  If nothing else Billy Vera has kept busy, writing liner notes to a few Rhythm and Blues albums on various labels in the 1990s.  Judy Clay recorded for Stax for a time but mostly sang backup to the stars before her passing in 2001.  To which Vera would write her obituary.  For his love of R and B, should be enough to get Vera into the rock and roll hall of fame. 
FYI-Chip Taylor co wrote and produced this song. 

8.  If I Can Get Just One More Hit-James O'Gwynn (Plantation PL-164)  1977

The Smiling Irishman Of Country Music,  James recorded for Mercury, United Artists and Hickory Records.  Perhaps his best known might be Losing Game, recorded for Starday/Mercury in 1956, but in all fairness he was a journeyman country artist.  After two failed singles for Pete Drake's Stop records, James would hang around Plantation Records from 1972 to 1977, to which If I Can Get Just One More Hit would be his final single.  It is a rare single, 45 Cat doesn't have it in their database.  Even for 1977 standards this does sound of desperation, the cliche lyrics didn't help much and it turned out to be wishful thinking for O'Gwynn.   James passed away in 2011.

9.  This Time-Waylon Jennings (RCA Victor APBO-0251)  #1 Country  1974

Numbero uno fan Diggy Kat always raves about the greatness of Ole Waylon, but I've known Waylon before he was outlaw cool.  Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line, Love Of The Common People, Singer Of Sad Songs (produced by Lee Hazelwood, he seems to pop up a few times it seems) I could go on and on but once Jennings got control of his music over the likes of Danny Davis, he rewrote the book on Country Music In Nashville!  But I also think at times, Waylon got too laid back for his own good but usually he made his point in two and half minutes such as this song.  I could have swore that our local rock station did play this song from time to time but Billboard claims it never charted.  At least on the pop side, country it made number 1.

10.   Queen Of The Rain-The Sons Of Champlin (Ariola America 7608)  1975

While Bill Champlin and the Sons Of Champlin were a hippie dippy band back in the late 60s for Capitol by 1975, they became more album rock, but with a eye on pop.  Of course Champlin would find that formula worked wonders when he joined up with Chicago and douchecanoe David Foster turning them into Keyboard Muzak.  Queen Of The Rain has enough rock in it to keep it from being muzak pop like Chicago became, but this song didn't strike a chord with listeners. They would have better luck with the #47 Hold On in 1976.  But by 1975, the hippie dream was over anyway and most of the hippie dippy bands eventually became corporate fodder (Case in point: Jefferson Starship) by the middle of the 1970s.  It' burned out and faded away.