Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Week In Review: Gene Wilder, Detective, End Of Month Thoughts

It's the end of August of already?  This month has been going by quite fast.  The projected ratings for this month was going to be 3500 but a bit of inflated viewers will make it just shy of 4,000.  To the readers that actually read anything.  I thank you.

A moment of silence for the passing of Gene Wilder, famed actor of the better version of Willie Wonka as well as Young Frankenstein,  He now reunites with Gilda Radner and Richard Pryor in the great beyond.  Alzheimer's claimed him.  He was 83.  (for the most part Gene was married to Karen Boyer for the past 25 years and was with him on the day of his passing).

Darrell Ward, Ice Road Trucker for the past few season died in a plane crash in Montana. He was 52 years old. http://www.kbzk.com/story/32862434/ice-road-trucker-star-identified-as-victim-of-montana-plane-crash?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook_KBZK_TV

Monty Lee Wilkes, soundman for the likes of Nirvana and The Replacements died from cancer.  He was 54. http://www.startribune.com/monty-lee-wilkes-sound-engineer-for-replacements-nirvana-and-first-ave-dies-at-54/391556811/

With Labor Day weekend coming up, this will be the big weekend of big outdoor music happenings, Wolfcreek or Blitzcreek will be taking place up in Center Point and most hard rocking bands will be playing Saturday and Sunday.  F B and Company has their own blues jam on Sunday and Terry McDowell will be playing in Flex, so the guys from KICK IT will be hosting the popcorn jam.  I'll be sitting this one out.  However last Sunday's jam brought out some of the best jammers, you can take a read of the happenings via this site. http://townedgers.blogspot.com/2016/08/popcorn-jam-8-28-16-wide-variety-of.html

MTV hosted their yearly Video Music Awards or in this case bad autotuned chipmunks with dancers doing stripper moves on stage.  Didn't know any of the artists or winners and basically the MTV hosts and women were as phony baloney as Spam.  I did catch Britney Spears toward the end.  She has a new album out and reviews are good.  But don't take my word, her new album is not on my list of things to review.   The photo comes courtesy of Madison Square Garden.

I was talking with Carol, who used to work at Relics in Cedar Rapids up till their demise in 1996 and she had a newspaper photo of the building being torn down in favor of the parking lot for Best Buy, which is also not doing very well of late.  Best Buy is not liked from Carol, in fact she refuses to even set foot in any Best Buy store.  I really have bittersweet memories of the last days of Relics. I spent a lot of time hanging out there in the 1990s, but Jerry never did mention he was closing the store, and the week after buying Freedy Johnston's Never Home and a couple others, I came into an empty building where old posters laid on the floor.  That strip mall was home, even to the crappy food that was Zio Johnno's.  Relics would return with the help of Steve Bray and later Marcus Draves  but the store finally closed for good in 2003.    This photo is from Carol Becker's archives.

For the most part, we still have Half Priced Books in town, Siegel's Pawn but their CD selection is getting less and less.  And there's still Moondog Music and CD's 4 Change in Dubuque and Ragged Records and Co Op Records in the Quad Cities, and thrift stores to boot. I'm still amazed of what I can find for music, as long as I live, there's always be some sort of music out there for me to find and listen to. Been that way for 5 decades and why change now?  I'd be bullshitting if I said I was giving it all up.  But I still may do a garage sale to rid of so much music that I know I won't be listening to but a few times.  Question remains which ones do I get rid of? 

Labor Day week, I will finally take a couple weeks off from work and try to do a bit of housekeeping and getting rid of some unwanted things.  I plan to take it EZ and step away from the hectic life of blogging and try to learn to get some me time and be happy for a change.  The job situation and seeing a few more long time co workers get shown the door has weighed heavily on me but that seems to be the way of life any place you work, they downsize, the CEO votes himself a big raise and who's left have to to do the work of the coworkers now gone.  I'm sure another bargain hunt will be forthcoming, where I don't know at, but what I do know is that I'm burned out and just want to relax for a while.  Last time I was relaxed was coming from Arizona in 2013 for about 45 seconds and coming home and seeing another rainstorm that flooded the basement. I almost told my brother to take me back to the airport and get back on that plane to Mesa.

While KRNA continues to play the top 500 classic rock songs in a row, I have to say they are making some more adjustments to play the more obscure and they do check their website for comments from scrutinizing crabbs about their playlist, one in particular of the fourth Tesla album Psychotic Supper.  Told them they should play that album, they got back to say they're looking for it in their archives.  If not, I can always mail them a copy that I found for a dollar at a thrift store.  

On the baseball side of things, The Chicago wrapped up their best August season with a 21-6 mark, 38 games over .500 and streaking away from the St Louis Cardinals, 15 games behind with perhaps the only thing left for them is to battle Pittsburgh for the wild card.  It's the Cubs best record this late in the year since the 1945 season, their last World Series showing, the 15 game lead their last since 1907, the year that the Cubs won it all.  And they are 40 games over .500, never thought I would see that in my lifetime.  Sweeping Pittsburgh to complete the hotter than August competition, they won 6-5 despite a shaky bullpen, which might come into play.  For the overall homefield advantage, Washington is fighting them neck and neck, they too are hot as well.  But for the hitting of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant one can only wonder had Kyle Schwarber stayed healthy if the record would be much better.  The lineup has been coming through, Jason Hayward has been getting more hits of late and Kyle Hendricks has been the ace of the starter five.  However Joe Maddon has been using a lot of bullpen help, I'm guessing that at least 15 or 20 have been part of that.  On the minor league side of things, The Cedar Rapids will play on in September, they clinched a playoff spot sweeping both the hapless Quad Cities River Bandits, who will be sitting the playoffs out and division leader Clinton which already won the first half division and probably overall division for the season.  Which means we'll be seeing the Kernels play in mid September for five straight years.  And football season starts as well, Iowa plays Miami Ohio on good ole ESPNU, one of the channels we don't get on our crappy cable company and continues to provide less analog channels. Analog will be the thing of the past out here.  Which means I'll just use the TV for DVDs watching then.

To start my weekend off, I got to catch the last set from 50 Shades Of Rock and my favorite girl drummer Tiffany Z bringing the beats to this band.  As they say tip your local server, but mine was such a bitch, she would have gotten a kick to in the ass rather than a tip. If you're having a bad day, don't take it out on the old Crabb that just gotten done with working at the coal mines.  50 Shades Of Rock played the favorites, with a left turn with Dead Or Alive You Spin Me Round (Stop it) and Friends In Low Places but they do bring new meaning to Smoke On The Water, or Free Bird.  A rocking drummer will always help a band go further.   I love Tiffany for the fact that she's always interested in the next project I'm taking on.  Remind me to deliver the latest Townedgers CD in her hands next time I see her.

This just in, on Friday (9-2-16)  The Marion Indians ended their two year losing streak by blowing out Benton Community 45-22.  About time guys. 

Forgotten Bands Of The 70s-Detective

Out of all the bands that recorded for Swan Song, Led Zeppelin's label, Detective  was the lesser known of all bands on that label, behind the likes of  Zep, Bad Company, Dave Edmunds, Pretty Things, Sad Cafe and Maggie Bell/Midnight Flyer.  Kinda of a minor league mini supergroup, the best known guy was Mike Des Barres, who's wife Pamela, the best known groupie to the stars.  Mike Monarch was part of Steppenwolf during the At Your Birthday Party era, Bobby Pickett a decent funky bass player, Tony Kaye was part of Yes and then Badger before signing up for this band and Mike Hyde a drummer that played a John Bonham power beat.  The problem was that Detective couldn't write that major song to drive Hyde's drumming.

They made two albums, the first is the better of the two but it shows too much reliance on Led Zeppelin and even getting Andy Johns to produce the majority of the songs.  The album also threw in a few numbers from a ill fated recording session with one Jimmy Robinson, no relation to Jimmy Page and you have to find the Rock Candy reissue of their first album for a better explanation, in the case a out of whack producer trying to change the band's sound but the guys were buying it. If nothing else, Robinson did manage to get a bigger drum sound on songs like Grim Reaper or Got Enough Love.  The Johns produced sides of Recognition and Detective Man reveals that this band sounded more like a boogie band (Humble Pie, since Des Barres did a better Steve Marriott than Robert Plant or Paul Rodgers).  But the clash of music styles, including a funkified  Wild Hot Summer Nights is more disco Rolling Stones, which meant somebody must have been listening to Black And Blue (I would have said Miss You but that wasn't out there yet, perhaps Mick Jagger was listening to this album and got the inspiration?).  It's a mess of a debut, somewhat like Savage Eye from Pretty Things but that band had much better songs.

When It Takes One To Know One came out, Detective decided to move in a more Rolling Stones sound and a more boogie sound like Help Me Up and the Can't you hear me knocking knock off Competition. Even the Faces's sound come into play (Dynamite, Warm Love) and of course Humble Pie via Led Zep (Tear Jearker).  With Swan Song not paying much attention to this band, and Atlantic even less, the band broke up.  Tony Kaye would bounce around to the next band Badfinger before rejoining Yes in their comeback 90125 album.  Des Barres joined with Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Clem Burke (Blondie) for the ill fated Chequered Past, that made one forgettable hair metal album for EMI. Des Barres can be heard on Little Steven's Underground Garage nowadays and still records as a solo artist from time to time.

Wounded Bird did issue both albums for a while and Derick Oliver's Rock Candy reissued the S/T  album in 2010 and it still remains in print.  Given the two, The S/T album wins out over the more uneven Takes One To Know One.  I wouldn't consider either one classic essential rock and roll but given on its own terms, the boogie rock and roll didn't sound out of the place with the other boogie bands out there and at that time Humble Pie closed up shop for a while.  In the end, Detective may not been the new Led Zeppelin or even Humble Pie but as workmanlike bar band rock, they did okay.

Detective (Swan Song 1977 Rock Candy Reissue 2010) B
It Takes One To Know One (Swan Song 1978) B-
Live From The Atlantic Studio (Gonzo Import 2013) C

Album from my youth: Lynyrd Skynyrd-Street Survivors (MCA 1977)

For their last album, they went out in style with the hit single What's Your Name and bar bands favorite songs That Smell, I Know A Little and You Got That Right, and even the filler tracks of Honky Tonk Night Time Man and I Never Dreamed really do sound pretty good in this context.  But when I hear the expanded edition I can see why they managed to dust off an oldie from the past One More Time to replace Sweet Little Missy, which would have dragged the record down.  In fact, the original eight songs leading to Steve Gaines' singing on Ain't No Good Life still remains perhaps Skynyrd's best overall although Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama purists would disagree.  Still Steve Gaines did provide a much needed kick in the ass for good ole southern rock and roll, not that Nuthin Fancy or Gimme Back My Bullets were duds, I tend to like those better than the two previous ones since classic rock radio hardly plays them outside of Saturday Night Special. But I Know A Little and You Got That Right has some nice guitar interplay between Gaines, Allen Collins and Gary Rossington.

For the bonus tracks, there's a reason why they were left off,  the songs are not very good, as if Ronnie Van Zant is trying to find some lyrical inspiration on Georgia Peaches, and Sweet Little Missy just doesn't work.   There are two different versions of You Got That Right and I Never Dreamed which isn't bad, but something you can live without.  I guess the key track Jacksonville Kid, while so so, it's for the better that Van Zant decided to chuck the original lyrics of Kid in favor of Honky Tonk Night Time Man, written by Merle Haggard.  The bonus tracks simply are not needed, but it's not for me to downgrade the album.  It's still remains a solid A album up to Ain't No Good Life.  You're basically free to listen to something else.  But one can only wonder what would have happened had Skynyrd not gotten on a junky airplane in a ill fated 1977 flight, just like what would have happened had Stevie Ray Vaughan decided not to board an helicopter in 1990.  The observation would have been more decent Southern Rock, with Ronnie's dry sense of humor and Southern Hospitality. But Skynyrd would return 10 years later with Johnnie Van Zant taking over and the results not as rewarding, unless you want to hear Johnnie's take on Free Bird and the first two albums.  You won't find me in a old folks home, declared Ronnie on You Got That Right and that would come true, but what he and Steve Gaines left behind was a damn near perfect Southern Rock album that nobody would ever come close to duplicating, except maybe Molly Hatchet's first album, or even Blackfoot's Strikes which was in the neighborhood.  But alas, once Ronnie and Steve and Cassie Gaines left this world, southern rock was never quite the same.   Street Survivors would be the end of an era to classic southern rock.
Grade A

Record Reviews:

Leapy Lee-Little Arrows  (Decca 1969)

An album that you see regularly in the dollar bins.  Fun fact: Gordon Mills who managed Tom Jones Engelbert Humperdink also managed this obscure British star who had a top ten hit with Little Arrows and then disappeared from it all.  Another fun fact: Little Arrows was written by the duo of Mike Hazelwood and Albert Hammond.  While Lee did things in a pop vein he had better success as a country singer, can't figure that one out.    All music guide mentioned had Decca decided to go with If I Get To Saginaw Again, that might have gotten some success or the other Hammond/Hazelwood comp Theresa although Mike Vickers (formerly of Manfred Mann) puts a very dated 60s arrangement to that song.  The reason why the record has a country and western leaning is the poplar songs of that on this album (Little Green Apples, a straight run through of Harper Valley PTA in the way that Tom T Hall wrote it and I'll Be Your Baby Tonight) and they're passable but harmless.  I tend to think AMG overrated it.  It's not a four and half star album but rather a three star effort.  And it's a shame that Decca got bored with Leapy Lee after Little Arrows (the single) ran its course.   The followup Here Comes The Rain got ignored.  A interesting artifact that is worth 25 cents to rediscover  and donate later.
Grade B

Dave Dudley-Sings  (Golden Ring 1962)

I think the Record World site has reviewed twice more Dave Dudley albums than any other site.  This is his first album and breakthrough song with Six Days On The Road, including that chunky plunking guitar and perhaps the strangest backing vocal group, a strange cavernous sort of echo. I always thought they were saying Hooray after Dudley finishes up a line in his verses.  And I always got a kick out of that line I'm taking little white pills and my eyes are open wide, as if he's doing a wink and  an grin.  Six Days On The Road remains one of the greatest truck driving honky tonk songs in country history.  And even with this vintage recording, it still sounds good coming from vinyl, in fact even though I bought this at St Vincent De Paul in a dusty ole record bin, the record is in great shape after 50 years it plays great.  The other song of note is Last Days In The Mines, which is perhaps one of the best tragic stories that was written by Jimmy Key, to which Dudley would record for a bigger hit for Mercury a couple years later.  Dudley could write songs himself, he writes five including Six Days soundalike Taxi Cab Driver, complete with that trademark chucky plunking guitar and those Hooray background vocalists.  And famed concert country promoter Smokey Smith writes up one on side two called  Yesterday's Lover.  A good debut despite the big misstep song at the end, the five minute Barbara Allen which drags.  Nevertheless, Dave Dudley Sings would be the start of a nice long country career.
Grade B+

And now a trilogy of albums from Pravda in tribute to K Tel Records..For better or worse.

Various Artists: 20 Explosive Dynamic Super Smash Hit Explosions (Pravda  1991)

The alternative rock tribute to K Tel and those cheesy 70s AM classics that still get played.  The key track is here the Smashing Pumpkins destroying Jackie Blue, which the Ozark Mountain Daredevils had a number 2 hit in 1975.  It might be noted that Billy Corgan and company would hit it big with Siamese Dream, but their attempt to try to ape the Nirvana sound annoys the hell out of me but it's not the worst track here.  That distinction goes to Cheer Accident and their clueless cover of Shaft, which is part industrial bad Ministry crap and I dare you to sit through the whole five and half minutes including the ending with what it seems like four hours, (end the fucking song already dumbasses!).  M.O.T.O and God's Acre also have the problem of overstaying their welcome, the latter, after a somewhat straight run through of King Harvest Dancing In The Moonlight, they have to come back with a punk rock ending and then come back for an third encore of feedback (Go away already).  Then God's Acre fucks up Mississippi Queen with a bunch of unintelligible metal guitar clusterfuckus and wear out their welcome on the final chorus (there's a reason why the song is 2 minutes 30 seconds, learn the GD song before you throw it under the bus).   13 Nightmares makes Everything I Own seem like nightmare number 4, and even in any version Convoy still sucks although The New Duncan Imperials at least give it a better effort than the Pumpkins, M.O.T.O and God's Acre did on their songs.  It's a shame that Pravda didn't get Gary Hoey's version of Hocus Pocus, and perhaps The Fresh Young Fellows may have played it too safe on Black Betty.  By far, the best songs come from the power poppers, The Sneeches with Shoes doing a friendly I Wanna Be With You, Material Issue tackles Little Willy and The Sinatras' cover of Shannon actually is better than Henry Gross' original.   Despite the efforts of The Slugs charga charga ooga ooga's on Hooked On A Feeling, The Reviers Brandy and so forth, Pravda's first attempt to salute K Tel falls on its ass.  Unless you absolutely want to hear the Smashing Pumpkins fuck up Jackie Blue without the humor to pull this off, you can live without it.
Grade C

Various Artists: 20 More Explosive Fantastic Rockin Mega Smash Hit Explosions (Pravda 1992)

A much better effort with a better selection of bands (Smithereens, Dash Rip Rock, King Missle, Fastbacks, Uncle Tupelo etc.) and this time out the crapfest is kept down (Dayglo Abortions' awful I Write The Songs) and the grunge stars elsewhere on their own power trips.  At least you know when the Smithereens do a cover like It Don't Come Easy, it's straight forward the way it supposed to be. Uncle Tupelo's cover of Merle Haggard's Movin On features Brian Henneman (later of The Bottle Rockets) taking the lead vocal and Iowa favorites Head Candy does a cool version of Maggie May. If you want corn, there's John Wesley Harding and Kelly Hogan, the 90s version of Donnie and Marie on A Little Bit Country (See Convoy for worthless songs from the 70s) and the hidden track of Brother Louie by unknowns known as Siegler.  Even Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves work, but I'm not so sure of Goober And The Peas' attempt at MacArthur Park.  But at least Billy Corgan didn't get his grungy little hands on it.
B plus

Various Artists-Star Power (Pravda 1995)

As far as I know this was the last of the albums that Pravda paid tribute to cheesy 70s AM classics and still nobody bothered to cover Mammy Blue or Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.  Only true dud would be Brown Betty's Don't Give Up On Us, which couldn't do David Soul any justice, no matter how many out of tune screaming guitars they could add on.  Or maybe Big Fish Ensemble doing I'm Am Woman but with a man singer instead.  The Dick Nixon's infamous One Tin Soldier is also here but since they were a novelty band in the first place at least they threw in some Richard Nixon themes to make me chuckle for a second or two.   Highlights include A-Bones turning Rock The Boat into a Bo Diddley love fest and The Silos take on Mama Told Me Not To come is more Randy Newman than 3 Dog Night.  And of course the late Vic Chestnutt turning The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia into a more dark sinister sound than Vicky Lawrence could ever do.   Local favorites Rex Daisy plays Welcome Back fairly straight and surprising Fig Dish Kung Fu Fighting works better than Love Battery's deconstruction of White Bird.  I think this record pales next to 20 More  Hits but still is a better listen than the original 20 Explosive Hits.  It's hard to tell if Pravda Records decided that seeing Rhino putting out the Have A Nice Day Series which has most if not all of the songs available by the original artists and decided to do either a tribute or parody of the AM classics gold was a worthwhile investment.  It may have gotten some airplay on the college radio station circuit of the 1990s before Corporations bought everything and radio became stale, but for the most part any remaining copies are probably in dollar bins in thrift stores or collecting dust in collections like mine and chances are I probably won't give them much airplay or love for that matter.  And in the end results, these CDs will probably join the K Tel albums at your local Goodwill or St. Vincent De Paul.  Unless I want to get rid of unwanted guests, then I just put on Jackie Blue by Smashing Pumpkins.  If anybody is still around, Cheer Accident's Shaft.
Grade B

Various Artists: Sounds Of The Seventies-Am Top Twenty (Star Vista/Time Life 1993)

Of course there's Have A Nice Day Volumes 1 through 25 but Time Life did compile some of the best/worst case of AM Radio.  To which Blue Swede's infamous Hooked On A Feeling starts the party going with Paper Chase, Mouth And McNeal, King Harvest, Terry Jacks, Coven and Henry Gross has their original versions of songs you compare notes with. Certainly the fast forward button will come in handy, especially on Run Joey Run and Afternoon Delight, two songs that nobody wanted to cover anyway.  The surprise song is not Jungle Fever by the Chakachas but rather I'm Doing Fine Now, the big one hit from New York City and one of the last great R and B hits of the 70s before disco arrived.  Or the breezy Hitchin A Ride from Vanity Fare, a guilty pleasure upon itself.  Or Beach Baby by First Class.  In other words, this 22 song sampler really shows the good and the bad of hooky pop rock music.  You might hate Chevy Van by Sammy Johns or Beautiful Sunday by Daniel Boone but you have to admit they're catchy enough to play on the local jukebox.  My Baby Loves Lovin, and Billy Don't Be A Hero, like Afternoon Delight and Run Joey Run you can live without (so keep that FF button handy).  But this a cheap and perfect album of AM radio in the mid 70s.  (for better or worse and for that matter a better tribute to what K Tel was doing at the time).
Grade B

And then...there's this.

George Hamilton-By George! (ABC Paramount 1965)

Sometimes there are albums that are so bad, that you have to hear them just once to hear how bad they sound.   Of course, no relation to George Hamilton IV who did record for ABC Paramount during his teen idol years, this George Hamilton is the famed actor, who did the voice of Hank Williams during the 1963 Your Cheatin Heart movie.  I'm not sure if he was really in demand after his Hullabaloo show stopping performance and ABC Paramount even with Ray Charles on roster couldn't break anybody else outside of The Impressions and Frank Fontaine (whoever he was) decided to cast their lot with George and hooked him up with Peter Angelus (of Frankie Avalon, Fabian fame) and managed to corner some of The Wrecking Crew to play on this album.  At best, George is in the Bobby Rydell and Pat Boone side of teen idols, good intentions but hardly worth hearing.  At best, Hamilton does pull off She Wasn't Like That (When She Used To Be Mine) in the style of Del Shannon and Loneliness, the failed hit single would give ole Pat Boone a run for the money.  But George is no match for You Lost That Lovin Feeling, which he really goes over the top and falls flat on his face and even worse And I Love Her, a Beatles song that should have been off limits from the get go. No matter how many times Angelus tries to overdub Hamilton's limited vocals, they never improve.  But if ever you should come across this artifact, find the inner sleeve of the ABC Paramount artists that did record and except for the roster on Impulse label, outside of Brother Ray and The Impressions, George was competing with the likes of Frank Fontaine, the haunting guitar of Roy Smeck and the French rock and rollers Les Djinns Singers.  And finding he was better off staying with his day job as actor extraordinaire.
Grade C-

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