Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Week In Review: 4th Of July, Earth By Neil Young

For the fourth of July, this may have been the most low key one I have ever seen in years.  While there was plenty of things going on in around the area. (WNL played a private party, and a winery in Swisher Monday as Photo above shows)  I basically chose to take it easy and not do much.  The only gigs I went to was West 66 at Hot Shots Friday Night and the Rumor's Popcorn Jam on Sunday.  The Freedom Festival, a 20 plus year Cedar Rapids event, was the Monday's highlight, with people streaming downtown to get a decent seat to watch the fireworks display.  But for the most part, all I did was do my walk around New Bo to Downtown, back to New Bo and then Sinclair Park and home again.

Sinclair Park is a park down by the old day care center that I used to volunteered at.  It's even hard for me to even believe that I had an idea for going into day care center work nowadays but I did it back around 1979.  Across the street used to be Sinclair Meat Packing (used to be known as Wilson's and on some days the stench of that place would be bad due to the burning of animal waste).  The area was working class but it wasn't exactly a nice place to take a stroll at.  Across the tracks was The Brown Derby, a black bar that used to be a very rough bar.  Memories of having black dudes calling the white people Honkies or Crackers was commonplace and some of them gathered in the park.  After sometime in the 1980s, either the Brown Derby caught fire or the city brought the place and bulldozed it to the ground.   It's now a picnic area.  The St. Wincelenus Day Care caught fire in the 1990s and that too is a distant memory.  But Sinclair Park didn't exist till a few years ago.  A distant memory to a meat packing place that closed up in 1990.  But the area is much nicer to take a walk in nowadays.  Most of the riff raff associated with the Brown Derby crowd moved down the road to around third avenue.   And there is a walking circle in Sinclair Park that I go around 3 or 4 times and then move on elsewhere.

(Photo: Dan Williamson)
For free shows you couldn't beat The Oak Ridge Boys in Coralville, the legendary country-gospel group making their first appearance outdoors.  Out among the CR folks there were some firecrackers popping, and the usual dudes driving up and down the boulevard with their American Flag waving in their truck bed playing Thomas Rhett Vacation or some other horse hockey crap.   Or, somebody's rap music which makes me wish for the days that rap music wasn't the norm and was left in better hands with the Last Poets   On occasion a classic rock song would blare from a passing car or motorcycle, but few and far in between.  But I did managed to visit my late friend Dennis Pusateri's grave site.  And then ordered a pizza and went home to watch Zabriske Point and played music afterwards.  For the first time ever, I did not hear one MX 80 or firecracker go off in this town.  I enjoyed the silence.

(Photo: Barry Adams)

The rainy season arrived late.  Last Tuesday Night, we had four inches of rain, which might have been the most rain we got since the tornado storm two years ago, which prompted us to finally waterproof the basement.  The storm arrived around midnight and pounded the area. At 3 AM winds were at 50 MPH as the rain came in through the air conditioner.  However the basement stayed dry. Which made sleeping a lot less stressful.  Winds did play havoc in Madison as evidenced by the twisted sign along the beltway.

The ratings for last month, I did slide by 2,000 views.  It was a very interesting month to say the very least.  There hasn't been very many photos of the 2016 WNBR Madison event and the blog documenting that has only totaled 29 view as of this writing.   I suppose in this day of political correctness, it's not correct to go parading up and down Madison wearing only socks, shoes and a hat. Not trying to push boundaries, but rather documenting that we actually went through this. The most views were the Bar B Q Roundup blog of last week and I suspect that Wooden Nickel Lottery might have something to do with the big bump of views since they were the main artist reviewed.  The only blog not associated with the June Blogs, was the My City Was Gone Of Marion which continues to get plenty of views (there is a second version of My City Is Gone Marion out there, which tells the story of the demise of our fair town, a third installment might be worked up this month). The Bar B Q roundup got 120 views, twice more than second place runner up More Madison Bargain Hunts. and third place TE Radio.   Later installments of this month will be another Singles Going Steady segment and perhaps a lost band series, I don't know.  Depends on if I have any ambition to do any.

Passings: Kyle Calloway, former offensive tackle for the Iowa Hawkeys in the late 2000's was struck and killed by a train as he was jogging along the tracks.  He was 29.

What did I listen to this week in music?

Neil Young-Earth (Reprise 2016)

So far, the reviews have been lukewarm, the sales have been poor and Neil isn't helping himself hanging up on interviewers of his new album, but really this CD is much more of an improvement over The Monsanto Years.  Young in recent years has been scattershot on protest albums, Living With War had some good ideas but the rushed one take feel never did that record any justice.  Revisiting The Monsanto Years in a live setting complete with animal sounds, makes the songs from that album much better this time around.  Even if it's a live album, Young picks some of the more ecological songs (Mother Earth from Ragged Glory starts the whole thing off with singing crickets and an oncoming storm) and disc 1, Young avoids all of his time wore classics (only After The Gold Rush and Vampire Blues come from the 70s) and there's a certain country beauty and charm to such tracks like Human Highway and the lovely Western Hero from 1994's Sleeps With Angels.  Vampire Blues gets a minor update and a big dig at Chevron  too.  In fact, if you listen carefully, the processed vocals and the auto tuned on certain words, such as GMO-when Young sings GMO through auto tuner, you can hear the ticked off nature that Young has against Monsanto.  Disc 2 returns back to the gritty rock and roll Young is known about, and while Promise Of The Real, the band featuring Willie Nelson's sons kinda found themselves timid around Neil on the last album, on Earth they come blasting away, like a second generation Crazy Horse, on songs such as Big Box, Hippie Dream and the 28 minute closer Love And Only Love, to which at the end the applause comes down to honking ducks and geese and farm animals in approval.   Perhaps this is Neil's strongest protest album since Tonight's The Night but this time out he's got Mother Nature on his side as he rambles against the evil corporations like Monsanto, Wal-Mart and Chevron.  While I'm sure he'll swear this record would sound good on PONO or on vinyl but for the budget minded folk, the CD sounds quite fine to me. The Monsanto Years failed but it had good intentions, Earth improves of those songs chosen and his band comes through big time.  Perhaps his best of this century, although Love And Only Love goes on for fifteen minutes too long (the ode to Shine On You Crazy Diamond is worth hearing if you can slough through the 10 minute coda)

Grade B+

Danny Tate-Nobody's Perfect (Charisma 1995)

One of those guys that you heard about and seen their cds in the dollar bins and never quite know who they really were.  Tate recorded for Charisma/Virgin in the 1990s, while the majority swears by his first album, his followup featured Pete Anderson and the Mad Dog/Little Dog Band that was Dwight Yoakam's backing band, the classic band that is, Yoakam's later bands never had the fire and the sound that Anderson produced.  Despite it all, Virgin/EMI never got behind Tate and shut Charisma down soon after this record got issued.   Kind of a minor all star lineup, the majority of songs Tate cowrote with Daniel Lee Murphy, who made a couple country albums for MCA, but also Danny Wilde and Autograph's Steve Plunkett co writes as well.  Even ole Dwight adds backing vocals on Muddy Up The Water but while Pete Anderson can do country, he knows a Keith Richard riff or two and turns it up on Blind Desire.  In the end, the classic track is Stayin Alive which Tate sangs in the chorus "One more time at the back of the line but I'm staying alive" which might be directed at the ineptness of his record label supporting him.  But it is a line for the ages and makes this record much better than the dismal sales.  Then again, I have yet to hear a Pete Anderson produced album that didn't rock out either.   Sometimes name association will get me to review a obscure artist such as Danny Tate.  A lost classic.
Grade A-

John Hiatt-Crossing Muddy Waters (Vanguard 2000)

Whether or not Bring The Family is the definite Hiatt album of Americana (I thought it was overrated) I tend to believe he got better with Slow Turning but then again, John Hiatt has always been an artist that's prone to stumble from time to time (Overcoats, Bring The Family, Little Head) and then come back and kick major can (Slow Turning, Perfectly Good Guitar) but once A&M cut him loose he kinda lost the way with two up and down Capitol albums and a best of.  His time at Vanguard was only 2 albums but Crossing Muddy Waters was a big improvement over the lackluster Little Head and all over the place.  It's mostly acoustic and country rock but Hiatt sounds very inspired this time out.
Grade A-

Bad Company Live 1977 and 1979 (Swan Song/Rhino 2016)

They could have called it What You Hear Is What You Get but since Brian Howe's version of Bad Company called their live album that name, they basically went generic.  The major difference between this live album and last week's Playlist review is that Boz Burrell is bass player and adds a more funky disco thump.  The 1977 live concert relies too much on Burning Sky (the album) an album that never grew on me and tends to make my mind wonder on forgotten stuff like Morning Sun or Like Water before Simon Kirke wakes me up with his drum solo. The 1979 live at Wembley show takes 6 songs off Desolation Angels (Again way too many so so new songs and they left off Take The Time or Lonely For Your Love but still adds Rhythm Machine?) and that show the band sounds a bit more alive than the 1977 Houston bill.  Believe it or not only Feel Like Making Love and Shooting Star are both represented (the guess is that  Can't Get Enough may have finished the Houston show but may have been left off due to cd time constraints).  If you're keeping score, this is the 4th live document featuring Paul Rodgers, which means they still a ways to catch Foreigner in flooding the market with pointless greatest hits live albums that only the audiophiles and rabid fans will buy (guess which one I'm of), the key here is since Burrell passed away, there wasn't any original live Bad Company albums out there outside of bootlegs. And for that matter, it really doesn't matter, nor the songs differ from the studio version.  Rodgers, like any human singer will forget the words or alter the lyrics like he does on the 1977 Feel Like Making Love version, or improvises them on Good Lovin Gone Bad.  As the years go by, the Brian Howe Bad Company era isn't mentioned all that much anymore and while that Bad Company revealed their inner Foreigner, while the Rodgers led era has a more original rock and R & B spin, to which why everybody likes Paul more than Brian.  But even the Rodgers' led Bad Company era that had the hits, their albums also had some songs that meander and for every hit like Can't Get Enough or Rock And Roll Fantasy, you get misses like Man Needs Woman or Rhythm Machine, or when Kirke goes into a drum solo time to go get an overpriced beer or go use the restroom.  By now we can all sing the lyrics to Feel Like Makin Love or Can't Get Enough and I'm sure Rodgers is probably sick of singing them, he lets the crowd sing away on the Playlist and Merchants Of Cool live sets.  Given their album history, Bad Company would have benefited more had Swan Song put this out around 1980 rather than waiting 36 years after the fact and knowing that Boz Burrell is no longer around, it certainly would have helped them more than putting out the putrid Rough Diamonds, easily the worst of the Rodgers' led Bad Company albums (although Burning Sky comes very close).   But you had to be there to witness them playing live, the workmanlike performances of these two shows really don't stand out that much different than the studio versions.  But even with their workmanlike performances, it is the spark of Paul Rodgers that keeps this band going and why Live 1977 and 1979 is the best of all Bad Company live albums.  It would have been better had they simply edited it down to a single overall live package but since Sony Music beat them to that with Playlist, Rhino thought just adding two shows would be more bang for the buck.   In a way it is, but you still have to sit through a lot of crappy songs off their 2nd worst album to get through to the hits.  Overall, the 1979 set is better but the world could live without Hey Joe.
Grade B


TAD said...

Crabbsta! And here I was gonna drop you a line asking what the heck was goin on! You hadn't posted in a week, no recap of the weekend's outrages for me to laugh at?! What the heck? But then you come through before Blogger even has a chance to post an update! Nice job! Keep em comin!

R S Crabb said...

Oh I'm still around Tad!

I basically took a bit of time off between here and blogging over at the Townedger's Blog. It really has been a slow news month for me, but I do have a few things in store. Stay tuned. ;)