Saturday, August 6, 2016

Week In Review: 50 Shades Of Rock. MTV 35, Pete Fountain

It's August.  I think this summer has been one of the best in terms of live music.  And plenty to chose from before it all ends.  I haven't been much in a blogging mood since my place of employment decided to have a Bloody Tuesday and got rid of almost of everybody that I worked with in the 28 years of being there.  Good people like Jim Malatek and my co worker of many many years Tom Woodruff decided to take the severance and leave.  Woodruff has been a mainstay there for 40 years like Jim and was planning to retire September 2nd.  I will miss him most of all. As well as my boss Ellen.   I'm very depressed about this but I'll carry on somehow.

So it's come to past that 35 Summers ago, the world was introduced to something called MTV.  To which it was the first channel to program music in a video form.  Now long ago and far away there was other forgotten cable channels that did show music videos, Midnight Special, Kirshner's Rock Concert and even Satellite Program 1 which had Video Concert Hall around 1979-1980 to which I saw Split Enz I Got You before MTV.  MTV would not be carried by our cable company till 1983, but at the gas station that I worked at, they had a dish to which we could see MTV and me getting yelled at for not doing my work. In reality MTV was a passing phase even when we got it in 83. It ended up making superstars out of ordinary bands such as Culture Club, A Flock Of Seagalls, Billy Idol and of course, some girl by the name of Madonna.  MTV would go down the toilet as the 80s rolled by, which VH1 got introduced for the more roots rock of bands. By the late 80s MTV became dance orientated but they did provide some rock and roll with Headbangers Ball, which mutated into hair metal and grunge and 120 Minutes which was the original alternative show before that got diluted into hair metal and grunge or that faceless crap music KRNA now plays.  In the 1990s MTV traded the Music for Moron logo as they introduced us to reality TV and lots of it.  Mindless shit such as Road Rules and The Real World would be the pioneers of crap reality shit for the likes of  Real Wives Of Whatever or The Kadashians to which today cable TV is unwatchable. Thanks to technology you can relive the first six hours of when MTV came in fresh and handy and given new spins to the likes of Pat Benetar, The Who and Rocking Rod Steward plus also forgotten band such as Ph.D.  With Viacom continue to fuck away what we remember of MTV, with VH1 Classic gutted in favor of MTV Classic (The 90s years mind you), and with new music videos the equivalent of a really bad soft porn video, those glory days will never return.  So if you want to remember the good ole days, try this link out, or seek what You Tube has out there.  It may have been stupid, even with the Swatch commercials, and you can't bring back your youth, but it's a nice trip back to the past before you have to go out to The Real World and pay bills and feed your family.

Pete Fountain, who's Dixieland via New Orleans jazz made him a star in the 40s and 50s, and one of the best clarinet players ever,  passed away Saturday at age 86 from heart failure.  He did a killer version of White Silver Sands with The Lennon Sisters:

Nice to see the readers in Russia giving the Record Review a much needed spike in ratings, which meant July ended with the 2nd best views ever, but the only folks that comment are my regulars, Tad and 2000 Man.  I ended up a few views short of 5500 but that was twice more expected than the 3,000 views originally forecast.   The TE 20 radio blog had the most views with 56 and everything but the Mom's Apple Pie blog came from the previous month.  Special thanks to Larry, who kept up to date with the latest of that rumored third album that Mom's Apple Pie made that never came out.

Like December, when I had the highest views ever, the next month did tail off and I was back into the usual 2000 views territory so I don't forsee 600 plus views every day.  If I make it past 100 that's a good day, but when I see 660 views I tend to get skeptical.   I don't plan to change much of the format, certainly it'd be nice to get more comments but I'm not about to bring back the faceless folks who troll or throw spam bullshit about watching more movies on the computer or make 2000 dollars a day clipping out coupons.  It's bad enough to weed out the fucking Canadian Drug comments when you could post anonymously. But after the highs of 660 views, I'm back down to trickle down views.  Strange when you go from 660 to 27 in a matter of days.  So much for that I guess.  I suppose the Russians read their fill of blogs for this season.

Despite my depression, I did managed to go up to the Popcorn Heavy Metal Jam, and of course it was loud and 8 drummers showed up to pound on the drums.  Most of Cedar Rapids finest metalheads did crowd the stage.  A good time was had by all who joined up to crank the guitars to 11 but a better time was Friday Night at J and A Tap in North Liberty to see the return of Tiffany Zweibohmer and 50 Shades Of Rock.   I tend to be biased, but I know who I enjoy watching most playing on stage.  I dig Hostage, Past Masters really are a fun band and God knows there's plenty of great drummers out there.  Terry McDowell is the round mound of beats, Troy Mitchell with his band can really do John Bonham damn near like the master and if the Saloonatics drummer yells at me for hitting his cymbals hard, thank his lucky stars Patrick Geisland didn't come up after me.  I might assault the drums with my playing but Patrick damn near destroys them.  Out of all the drummers, Tiffany Z is my favorite, simply of the fact that her playing echoes my style.  Borderline chaos but with a touch and feel for the original beat of the songs. Like me, she tends to add a bit more of her own creativeness to the songs and she plays loud and she has a certain intensity.  50 Shades Of Rock, is classic rock, with a spin on some later material, I don't know if Tiffany did her version of Shake It Off like she did with Motorboat on her final show with them   She did have a guest star in Julie Gordon on What's Up and Julie did her usual fine job of singing that song.  But the shining moment was when the band dusted off (you guessed it) Free Bird and damned of Tiffany played a note for note drumming like Artimus Pyle did on the live version.  While most drummers would stumble around the drum boasts, Tiffany nailed the whole thing down.  Even I gave her a standing ovation, she earned it.  Also, Stairway To Heaven.  I did mentioned to her about my intense version of Rocky Mountain Way with Hostage a couple weeks back before the break.  Needless to say her Free Bird drumming was intense in the first degree.  50 Shades Of Rock returns back to North Liberty on September 2nd.   I may have to pay her a visit.

I failed to mentioned this, but up in Madison they have given the marquee at the Orpheum Theater a new facelift and much needed new lighting and it looks stunning now.  Next Mad City trip will probably be sometime in October before the snow flies.  Might do some bike riding.

From Sean Ryan-the set list from their Down On The Farm show last weekend. Plus the August 5th set list. (Stolen from The Dawn's FB page)

We had a blast at Down on the Farm yesterday. Big thanks to our buddy's in Soap for having us!!!! And huge thanks to our brother Derek Fortin for making the trip with us!!!!

The Dawn- DOTF 7/30/16

Paradise> 46 Days> Paradise, A Little Piece Of Mind, Freezeframe, Walking On The Moon*> Ticklelicious, Troubled Days, Young Americans*
*= w/ Derek Fortin

The Dawn- 8/5/16

Set One:

Don't It Make You Wanna Dance, Funky Bitch, A Little Piece Of Mind, Let Me Down Easy> Gold Dust Woman*, Dreams*, Troubled Days, Lochloosa^> Debra^

Set Two:

He's Gone, The Way I Feel> Back On The Train, Save Me> Wolfmans Brother, Tall Boy> Drums, Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes, Freezeframe

*= w/ Rachel Nelson
^= w/ Derek Fortin, Samuel Carothers and Matt Ajishegiri
Entire set featuring Edub Wilson

I used to work at Marion APCO forty summers ago when my dad managed the place.  In fact you can say that I was forced to go up there to work there.  I'm sure my dad was trying to prepare me for the adult life whereas I wanted to live my childhood as long as I could.  The old place of employment got torn down and in its place will be the location of the new Dunkin Donuts, which used to be a block down at the former site now turned into the Marion Roundabout From Hell.  If you can navigate that cluster bomb of a roundabout, Dunkin Donuts will be a block away.

Acousta Kitties with Jess Toomsen (Wooden Nickel Lottery) guest star.  at Ramsey's 8-4-16 (Brenda Snow-Photo Credit)

Record Reviews:

Kevin Coyne-In Living Black And White (Virgin 1976)

While the metal fest was going on at Rumors Sunday, I was trying to form into words of the latest music that I have been hearing.  Hell with Quiet Riot give me something off the wall.  Kevin Coyne is off the wall, somewhat like Alex Harvey (SAHB) but a bit more schizophrenic.  Originally a two record import, CBS got cold feet and issued it as a stand along single live album and cherry picked the best moments.  He'll be forever known for House On The Hill, which rumored to be inspired by his days working at a mental hospital and Fat Girl, which is so un P.C. but he had a damn good band backing him up, featuring one Andy Summers before he found fame and fortune with Gordon Summer and Stuart Copeland in the Police and Zoot Money playing mad keyboards.  I think Steve Thompson might be the bass player for John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Peter Woolf might be one of the mad unheard of drummers out there.  Certainly his uncompromising attitude might have prevented him from being a bigger name artist (he turned out an offer to replace Jim Morrison of The Doors according to Jac Holtzman) but even John Lydon liked his music such as Eastbourne Ladies. My favorite is Turpentine, which is part Pere Ubu and Part Who.  The CD version is the 2 Record LP set but my review for the single album.  Not bad, but it does make me wonder how the rest would sound like.
Grade B+

Screaming Jay Hawkins-At Last (Last Call/Valley Entertainment 1998)

Hawkins last album before his passing really doesn't open up any new roads or styles-he mostly rewrites his hits (I Put A Spell On You, Little Demon) and re titles them.  But with his blues styled R and B, he invokes comedy in them, starting off with Listen which borrows a lot from Louis Jordan or Babs Gonzalez complete with fart noises.  Hawkins is no stranger to poo poo jokes, he unleashed Constipation Blues for Phillips was back in 1969.  Hawkins enjoyed a semi comeback with albums for Bizarre/Straight in the 1990s but this album ended up on a lesser known independent label.  Plenty of all stars for this effort, Jim Dickenson produced it, David Hood and Roger Hawkins (playing electric drums...????) help out and it recorded at Sun Record with Roland James (Jerry Jaye) recording it.  All but one song Hawkins wrote, the exception being I Shot The Sheriff that gets bogged down with a new set of Hawkins lyrics that wear out its welcome at the end.  The guy could get weird and he really did love to f..k, (he boasted about having 75 children, but 33 could be verified as his) but he could also pen a heartfelt thank you song. (I'll Be There).  Make Me Happy, Hawkins raps out his epitaph.  His vocals really did held up all these years after bellowing out a drunken I Put A Spell On You and went from balladeer to all out freaky person.  This could have used a bit more cover version but for a finale, Screaming Jay did really go out on top.
Grade B

Kate Wolf-Give Yourself To Love (Volume 1 and 2) (Rhino 1983)

It's a shame that Kate's life was cut way too short.  She remains one of the best cult folk singers out there with a voice like a soft wind blowing through the trees.  She works better in a bluegrass accomplishment (Picture Puzzle, Give Yourself To Love) and can do wonders on other people's song. Although I'm not too sure about her take on Peaceful Easy Feeling, she really shines on Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where The Time Goes.  I found this for 1.88 over at Goodwill, a bargain considering the fact that her Rhino reissues really sell for big bucks.  For a live document, it really isn't too bad, it only goes to show had Wolf lived longer she could have been better known.  But thank your lucky stars that somebody managed to record her live performances.  Uneven yes, but damn I love her singing.
Grade B+

The Who-Greatest Hits Live (Geffen 2010)

A hodgepodge of live dates.  Of course disc 1 is the best since long dead drummer Keith Moon dominates the songs and yet Universal doesn't release Baby Don't You Do It, which remains a rip roaring B side thrash and probably never will.  It gets points taken away for sticking Magic Bus from the Live At Leeds album and a BBC version of My Generation, and perhaps the least memorable live version of Won't Get Fooled Again.  Early versions of Can't Explain and Pinball Wizard do show that when firing on all eight cylinders The Who were the best damn live band in the world.  If Zak Starkey was the second coming of Keith Moon, Universal stiffs him, he gets three songs, power house favorite Simon Phillips has five songs from the dreaded Join Together 1989 cash in.  And Kenny Jones is shut out.  Starkey was closer to the spirit of Keith Moon, (after all, rumor has it Keith taught Ringo's boy), Simon Phillips is more technically better, but his polished beats contradicted Keith's sloppy smash all, bash all.    Disc 1 remains overall the best of the two CDs but given the uneven 1989 pickings on the second disc and yet another new Who song that goes nowhere, this is for Who fanatics only.
Grade B-

Album From My Youth-Ten Years After: A Space In Time (Chrysalis 1971)

For a band with a wonderkind guitar specialist in the late Alvin Lee, their albums really didn't have the major hook that guaranteed repeated listenings, Robert Christgau lowered the grade two points from his original B plus review.  But even in terms of boogie blues rock, TYA had less staying power than Foghat.  In trying to pick the best album from TYA, all have problems, including Undead, which gave the world the original live version of I'm Going Home, basically a two minute song stretched out   9 or 10 minutes more, (the Woodstock version definite proof of its warts and all, great to see it when you heard it the first time but after that it tends to leave for a bathroom break).  Alvin Lee wasn't much of a lyricist either, case in point One Of These Days, which Lee sounds like he's making them up as they go.  Of course their greatest hit, I Love To Change The World is on this. But getting back to One Of These Days, it does feature one of TYA's greatest jams, featuring lead and rhythm harmonica.  Musically, it's all fine, the jam on I've Been There Too, the raveup of Once Upon A Time and the two minute failed followup single Baby Let Me Rock And Roll You, and the reworking of Good Morning Little School Girl that becomes Let The Sky Fall, and the moody Here They Come.  Alas, the problem lies with Alvin Lee the lyricist and most of the songs really lack focus on the the words.  And Lee was never a good lyricist in the first place, his guitar playing still makes these albums nice to revisit from time to time.  For the best overall Ten Years After album, Stonedhedge is the one to get.  Like Christgau, I have downgraded A Space In Time over the years to the point that Rock And Roll Music To The World was the better one after Space In Time.  But A Space In Time is still worth hearings because of Chris Kimsey who recorded the album and sweeten up the guitar effects.  But it's not an A minus album anymore.  It's a B plus, still recommended but you can also live without it too.

Singles Going Steady Medley-BDW August 45s

Touchdown-The Young Ideas (Swan 1044)  1959

Basically stolen from Bill Doggett, this is Honky Honk, except for the whistle and a youth glee club shouting along.  B side Dream might have been used for Happy Days.  Pretty corny but it did come from Swan Records, who basically did a corny teen pop stuff too.  Very laughable if you do get to hear this, kinda like a teen pop Crew Cuts or Danny And The Juniors.  (You got me flippin, how they managed to keep a straight face saying that I'll never know).

The Wheel Of Hurt-Margaret Whiting (London LON-101)  #28 1966

Better known for her pop tenure at Capitol in the mid 40s and early 50s, Whiting did managed to score a top thirty hit (this was number one on the easy listening charts) on the pop chart.  A bit of country influence as well.  B side Nothing Last Forever would have not sounded out of place on a Connie Francis album, and it's a bit uptempo too.

Cherokee Nation-Don Fardon (GNP Crescendo  GNP-405)  #20  1968

Fardon was once part of The Sorrows that had a minor hit with Take A Heart but this was his highest charting single with longtime producer Niki Dalton.  In some ways this song does mirror Take A Heart.  While Don had a modest hit with this, Paul Revere And The Raiders would do a note for note cover of this song and it would reach number 1 in 1971.  B side Dreaming Room is a bit more pop blues.

You Walked Into My Life-Kathy Linden (Felsted 8554)  1958

Her best known single Billy (#7 1958) but I never heard that song or don't recall it.  This was an uncharted single.  B side Somebody Loves You is sunny Diana Shore type pop.  Or Marilyn Monroe.  Pretty cheesy too.  The A side is much better.

First Date First Kiss First Love-Sonny James (Capitol F3674)  #25  1957

Top 25 followup to his number one Young Love, this shows Sonny to be in the teen pop mode.  Speak To Me is even more pop sounding. Eventually Sonny would find his country roots but it would be a while.  I prefer his Jimmy Reed over his Frank Sinatra moves.

Do The Madison-The Bachelors (Epic 5-9369)  1960

I'm guessing this is not the same group of guys that had a few hits on London.  A vocal group in the same vein as The Crew Cuts or The Goofers.  I suppose the Madison dance was kinda like the stroll, but this version has a happy harmonica and a kettle drum accent like Sha Boom via The Crew Cuts. B Side The Bachelors Club, sounds a lot like Standing On The Corner, this time out they sound like the Hi Lo-s.

There was other cool singles by the likes the Regents Barbara Ann, Tommy Roe's Everybody and a bunch of Johnny And The Hurricanes 45s and the Count Five Psychotic Reaction but those records were in poor shape.  Once again it seems that the best shape of records were the pop side of things and as you can see it was once again a hit and miss.  Hopefully we'll do better next month for BDW finds. 


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