Monday, August 22, 2016

Week In Review: King Buffalo, Davenport, QDogs Bluesfest.

Two years after the great Record Find, I decided that somehow the time would be right to see if anything decent coming in for 45s at my favorite Salvation Army hangout.  Again, the usual scratched up 45 suspects that have seen better years about 5 decades ago but I did pick up a nice 45s storage case that still had most of the number stickers that people used to deface their records with.  I do think the past couple of times I have been there, I have bought some of their donated records.  Perhaps if I get some ambition I'll try to match up the records with the number dividers that came with the record case.  I could have bought the other case there but I figured somebody would need one too.  It would have been EZ to get the other one but then again I would have to take the Don Corneal and Hilltoppers 45s inside as well.

It was road construction hell once again, and I couldn't get across any of the bridges to Moline.  The one that went to the arsenal, there was an accident and traffic was backed up, the I-74 bridge is in a five year replacement plan and even on a good day, getting across it is a pain in the ass and more road construction made that impossible to cross.  For the first time ever, I didn't buy anything from Ragged Records, not that they had anything good, but I just didn't find anything that was worth a listen.  I did find three LPs very cheap at Goodwill, picked up two cds for 67 cents at Stuff Etc and that was good enough for me this trip around.  Down by the river, they had the Quad Cities POPS, which parking space was filled to the brim and I basically parked down by Ragged Records and walked a mile to the ballpark to which the Quad Cities River Bandits lost 4-2 to Kane County.  That will end my trip to the Woodman Park for this year, the team started out slow and never did make a valid effort to make the playoffs, promotions will do that.  Looks like if I want to see any playoff games is to drive to Clinton.  In the meantime, The QC jam band of The Dawn played and they delivered two amazing sets last night.  Sean Ryan provides the set list:

The Dawn- 8/20/16
Set One:
Water In The Sky, Tired & Blue, Let Me Down Easy> Space> Let Me Down Easy, Phases> Drums> Sugaree, Troubled Days, Wait For The Moment, 1612, Rock Your Body
Set Two:
Born To Run, A Little Piece Of Mind, Blue Indian, Ticklelicious, Mikes Song> Wooly> Drums> Weekapaug Groove, Debra, Freezeframe
Bust outs: Tired & Blue and Phases haven't been played since 2014

Around this area, the places are still buzzin with great outdoors shows, QDogs held their annual Bluesfest with the likes of Tony Brown and Dan Johnson, Kevin Burt, The Janeys managed to play outdoors after the rains went through earlier in the morning.  This is Dan with the Skeeter Lewis All Stars.

(Photo: King Buffalo)
File this under Your Dream Date for the Month but it also is a discovery of a up and coming band that blew me away with their new album Orion.  They're King Buffalo and they're from Rochester New York but they play old time heavy rock blues with plenty of Black Sabbath Masters Of Reality sound with hints of King Crimson aka Red, although I'm sure the guys would disagree with. What we can agree with is that this new album is the future of real rock and roll, none of that bullshit NuMetal or bogus Autotuned angst Rock 108 plays.  In fact if Rock 108 ever plays King Buffalo, I'll be surprised as you will be.

Passing's: Lou Perlman, shyster and the guy that broke the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC big in the late 90s died in prison he was 62...Matt Roberts, formerly of 3 Doors Down died of a drug overdose in West Bend Wisconsin, Friday, he was 38.  Toots Theilman famed harmonica player that played on a few jazz albums and on a Billy Joel passed away Wed.  He was 94.

A Sandy Pearlman tribute by Paul Rappoport:

Record Reviews:  (Popcorn jam photo of John Hernandez, Peter Stark, Terry McDowell, Tommy Bruner, credit: Brenda Snow)

Tommy Bruner-Camping With WiFi  (Orange City 2016)

He didn't take too long for the followup to Miles To Go.  On this recording, the odd time of My Sweet  Charade, is more of a slight departure from the previous album, he's not afraid to reprogram the drums to do such things.  Some songs a bit more darker than Miles To Go, the anti love of Not The One and Sizzling Rivalry  might suggest he was listening to Richard Thompson.  Except for Rick Clay adding some metallic guitar leads at the end of Cranberry Lane, everything is done by Bruner.  His mellower stuff still has that Mark Knopfler influence although Tommy has been playing guitar longer before Dire Straits came onto the scene.  Originally the album got delayed a few months as Tommy was looking for a more polished sound and added a few songs along the way.  To pick a song that would sound good on radio would take a bit more listens but I'd go with Aging Eyes, a bit more aggressive in song than It Doesn't Work Like That from Miles To Go.  Or maybe Purgatory Train, which bestows a dry sense of humor to perhaps the hardest rocking track on WiFi.  But the anti war and tribute to the last grod Republican  might be the most potent song on this album.   While the overall songs of Wifi might be better than Miles To Go, it's the recording that really stands out, it's one of the best recorded albums I've heard in a while.  Certainly he's not quitting his day job (that would be The Past Masters), but like fellow Iowan Bo Ramsey, Tommy Bruner remains one of the best songwriters out there.  Camping With Wi Fi shows that.
Grade A-

Julie London-Julie Is Her Name (Liberty 1955)

No shortage of her albums in the thrift store bins and while I remembered her most as Jack Webb's wife, then she would divorce him and marry Bobby Troup and they would stay together till his passing in 1999 and she would follow him a year later into the great beyond, of course being a chain smoker didn't help either.  Outside of that, she shared a love of jazz music with both Jack and Bobby and in 1955 did a very intimate torch light jazz album with Barney Kissel on guitar and Ray Leatherwood on bass.  This stripped down affair did yield a hit single with Cry Me A River.  The rest of the album are basically standards by Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Irving Berlin and for background music before bed it's not bad at all.  Certainly not rock and roll but for being a torch singer with limited range, Julie knew her comfort zone and never stretch out too far.  Not a lot uptempo stuff,  Can't Help Loving That Man or S'Wonderful are about as uptempo as it gets.  But hey the cover art is sexy.  The record that I found was in fairly good shape, had a few pops and clicks for a early 60s reissue album not bad.  Once Bobby Troup started getting her into more arrangements with full bands and orchestras it got too pop for my liking.  But in a stripped down effort like her first album,  I can listen to it.
Grade B+

Robin Trower-Long Misty Days (Chrysalis 1976)

After putting together three strong albums, Robin kinda ran out of gas on this record and it didn't help with Bill Lordan smashing cymbals left and right really sucking the mood out the more quieter numbers like Hold Me and the title track but the title track sounds like a rewrite of I Can't Wait Much Longer.  Messin The Blues is the reason I still have this record, which the drummer does decide to play more of a drum beat and not cymbal crashes.  S.M.O is the second favorite but overall, it's one of the weakest efforts that Trower put out during the classic years.
Grade C+

Spike Jones-Dinner Music (for people who aren't very hungry) (Verve  1957)

Like Louis Jordan, and Bob Wills, Jones was the toast of the 1930s and 40s but by 1957, rock music and country kinda pushed these guys to the background.  Wills never changed his country swing and the MGM and Kapp albums were quite good.  Jordan did attempt to update his music with more rock guitar (courtesy of Mickey Baker and produced by Quincy Jones) for Mercury but people weren't buying sad to say.  Jones, on the other hand was a singles artist for RCA but in 1957 he decided to do his first every long player album and he revisits most of his RCA hits.  Of course the RCA sides were better but Jones made a valid effort to update them, Betsy Gay replacing Homer And Jethro on Pal-Yat_Chee is actually more hillbilly then the other guys, and only Jones could come up with a drum solo throughout Ramona, and decides to one up the Singing Dogs on Memories Are Made Of This.  Remakes never really top the originals, and despite what Spike tells you Cocktails For Two is slightly redone, but however I got a chuckle out of hearing Wyatt Earp Makes Me Burp.  Rhino did issue this on CD in 1990, but I found the G & O reissue of the Verve album in fairly good condition. Which seems to be the norm while sorting through old pop albums nobody cares about anymore at Goodwill.  When it comes to Spike Jones, I still do care.
Grade B+

The Thieves-Seduced By Money (Capitol 1988)

One of those odd ball albums of the 1980s that really didn't fit in with the trends.  The Thieves, actually belong into the side of Nashville rock and roll, owing a lot to Jason And The Scorchers, who even in their classic years, struggled to get any airplay on the radio but they did influence many of the rough and tumble bands of country, even the likes of A Thousand Horses and Blackberry Smoke can lay claim to that part of music history.  Another that comes to mind is the Questionnaires, who like Jason and company got stuck on the EMI label and made two albums that became bargain bin classics. While Gwil Owen wrote all the songs on this album, Kelly Looney would be better known for moving on to Webb Wilder and then Steve Earle and The Dukes, he played bass and Jeff Finlin, who later made a few albums on his own played drums but didn't write the songs.  And they were produced by Marshall Crenshaw, a cult star in his own right (at that time Crenshaw produced two classic various artists rockabilly CDs on Capitol).  But the sound Marshall gotten out of these guys were close the Jason And The Scorchers, but alas settled upon James A Ball to record the album and like most of Ball's recorded albums, tend to sound too boxy and cluttered.  At times, there some hard charging songs, Everything But My Heart sounds like I'm Not Your Man from Tommy Conwell (Conwell did make two albums for Columbia, Guitar Trouble was the better of the two, Rumble had the hit single) and the Scorchers sounding From A Motel 6 and the title track, to which would have worked better had Ball faded out the trainwreck ending. Black Lipstick sounds like the Romantics or Kings Of The Sun for that matter.  Owen has continued to write and record (although research seems to indicate that he hasn't done anything since 2010), but even in 1988 hardly anybody mentioned this album and I did find the cd for 20 cents at Stuff Etc a few years ago.  It won't make you forget Jason And The Scorchers or The Long Ryders but The Thieves were just as good if not better than Tommy Conwell or even Green On Red.  Problem was they were rock and roll, not hair metal.  For Cowpunk as they call it, it does rock.
Grade B+

The Uninvited-Pop This (Roarshack 1992)

Another band that couldn't find a audience after landing a deal with Atlantic Records in the 1990s was this band that had more in common with Too Much Joy than Sugar Ray, even The Rainmakers.  Steve Taylor had a dry sense of humor and didn't mind throwing a F bomb or two as indicated on Three Little Monkeys, somewhat a rap rock number, Ordinary Man a bit of punk bluegrass country roll.  Credit or blame Jim Wirt for the wide variety of styles, he'd later produced albums from Incubus and Jimmie's Chicken Shack later on.   This band, no relation to the Uninvited band that did Our Two Cents Worth, did make a good debut, they would improve on that when Atlantic snatched them up for a quick tax write off album.  But nobody around here knew much about this band, and this CD which gather plenty of dust at the thrift store was sold for 16 cents to me.  I tend to have a soft spot for bands such as The Uninvited and will continue to seek out the bargain bins for their four other albums.
Grade B

Florida Georgia Line-Dig Your Roots (Republic Nashville 2016) (Photo Meme:FTM)

More autotuned beat box bro country pop whine.  This time they try their hand at reggae with Ziggy Marley on the title track and somehow bring what's left of The Backstreet Boys on God, Your Mama And Me, which might have been a hit for the latter, say 1998.   Perhaps they have their eye on top forty radio this time out. Compared to country music radio today, you couldn't tell the difference. This should appease to the 16 year old females and drunken bubbas out there. For the rest of us, there's much better stuff out there (Nickelback, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Steven Tyler)...
Grade D-

Albums from my youth: The Battle Of The Bands (Starstream 1982)

Many years ago before MTV took root into videos, the local starving bands would submit tapes and 45s to the radio station for hopes that their songs would get airplay, which many did not.  The bright ideal of the 1980s was to have bands submit demos, and the 10 best songs would get picked on a LP that the winner would have a chance to record for a major label, in this case Atlantic.  Who wouldn't want to record for a label that had Led Zeppelin, Big Joe Turner, Aretha Franklin, Yes and many others?  Well we were all blind once.  Miller Lite Beer sponsored and major cities had their share of bands sending things in.  Alas, time has not been kind to the dated new wave sounds most bands submitted, Jinx  had two of them and neither one stands out. Landslide also put in two songs, Yesterday's Gone the better of the two. I'm not sure who won the Cedar Rapids version, nothing comes up on the internet on who did and if they went to the final, the guess was Feeling Free with Ain't Got Time, which has a nice a bass introduction to it but they can't decide on what to do with the rest of the songs.  Tank's Dangerous Girl has a high end midrange guitar sound that is damn near unlistenable and The Misstakes  He's Not-She's Not There is so so girl pop.  The only ones that stood out for me is the goofy I Wanna Go To College by The Subsonics which has a Kraftwerk groove that's very catchy, but the lyrics are Sophomoric at best, Kicks with the more straight forwarded rock of Pessimistic People and the best one, Nick Stika and The Buzzard's punk rock of She's The One.   The next year 1983 the project was scaled back to a skimpy 4 song EP, with the unfortunate winner getting a EMI America contract (and you know how bad they were for a label; they couldn't do anything with David Bowie and J Geils Band, when both had hits). But, Starstream never did print out who the members were on these bands outside of the songwriters and most were well known around the area, rumors of Doug Robertson (later of Dangtrippers) were contributors.  For an album, it served it's purpose back then, but most of the music outside of She's The One or Pessimistic People, is just dated new wave or music trying to impress the Corporate brass.  Which might explain why the winner of the 1982 Battle Of The Bands Cedar Rapids Version didn't move on after the next finals.  It's just not very good.
Grade C+  


King Buffalo-Orion (Self-released 2016)

While rock and roll radio continues to mine the same 200 songs on Classic Rock Radio (or in KRNA's case 250) and modern rock/alternative rock radio sucks even more, today's new bands face a dilemma, do they sell out the major 3 labels and sound all the same or do they go with the net pod radio approach and go with the grassroots of playing live and releasing their albums on Bandcamp or CD Baby and hope for sales via word of mouth?  Being the old Crabb, I still can't get into most of what passes on the major labels but in the meanwhile the best music is out there via self released albums.  My favorite albums of the year are from the non major label artists, from local faves Wooden Nickel Lottery, Tommy Bruner and The Dawn as well as the established ones such as Foghat.  It's hard to keep up what's out there; I do think most bands try their best to put out what they think is great music.  Granted I am not much on Twitter anymore, unless I'm doing meltdown play by play of Iowa Hawkeyes game (coming in September) or promoting this website.  Once in a while I'll get followers that have music out there but those fairweather followers are bad rappers or so so pop singers or country wannabe stars  But Bob Lefsetz I'm not.  I have no connection to the major labels, but I am a part of Lucky Star Radio and anybody who wants to submit songs and albums can email them at gmail. (  Certainly if anybody does follow me in Twitter land, I do check out what they have for music.  But since I'm in my 50s, I don't have much time as I once did but if it rocks I'll do my damnest to get the word out.  Provided if my fingers can type the review.

I'm guessing that my liking of the last Mondo Drag album, might have something to do with Twitter picking out King Buffalo to be a new follower, so basically I found their website and decided to check out what they had to offer.  Turns out that King Buffalo might have made the best hard rock album of 2016, even more than Mondo Drag's latest The Occultation Of Light.  Beginning with the title track, Orion, there is an element of foreboding bass and guitar, not heard since Black Sabbath's Masters of Reality.  In fact Sean McVey sounds a bit like early Ozzy Osbourne, as the song twists and turns into a sludgey jam.  But I also hear Hawkwind (Lemmy Kilmister when he was in the band) particularly into the reverb drenched vocals of McVey in Monolith and Down From Sky.   They also have a bit of Kyuss in them (Sleeps On A Vine)  although I think they're more in the 70 heavy blues rock, (Ummagumma Pink Floyd, Budgie), even Porcupine Tree too.  The kind of heavy blues rock that I always enjoyed.  Like Porcupine Tree, King Buffalo works well in the extended songs, such as Kerosene (which sounds a bit like Stranglehold, till the chaotic ending which does sound a bit like Budgie's Crash Course), the hypnotic Orion Subsiding and the 10 minute closer  Drinking From The River Riding. Already the band has been getting great reviews from the metal online sites and they should.  This is an album that really gets better with each repeated listens, unlike the stale modern rock heard on the radio, the last classic debut album that I heard was Radio Moscow back in 2009.  This is better, it's everything that I love about rock and roll and heavy blues, it's simple but it rocks, it's controlled chaos that doesn't overstay its welcome.  And even at the end of the 10 minute Drinking From The River Rising, you just want to play the whole album over again.  Time will tell but I do believe that King Buffalo is one of the best up and coming heavy blues stoner rock bands. And Orion is one of the best debut albums I have heard in a long time.  That's saying something.
Grade A

Singles Going Steady Medley-Davenport Finds (2 Years onward)

While the finds were not as great as they were two years ago, they were better than last year's finds.  I think I found 2 45s back then.  The results.

King Of The Road-Roger Miller  (Smash S-1965)  #4 pop 1965 #1 Country

Two years ago, was the best bargain hunt ever for 45s at the Salvation Army and every year after that, I seem to return back there.  Didn't find much but I did get a record case for the continuing growth of 45s.  Again, basically country finds and it's rare to find anything Roger Miller that isn't scratched up to oblivion.  This was the song that defined Roger Miller and of course credit must be given to Jerry Kennedy for the stripped down affair too.   B side is Atta Boy Girl, a brief minute fifty six of quick country fun.

Out Of Control-George Jones (Mercury 71641)  1960

Another honky tonk drinking song from the voice of country music.  While the majority of people will say he was the best at ballads, I still concur that his uptempo stuff for Mercury/Starday were some of the finest country music had to offer.  Certainly while the Musicor, United Artists, Epic, Asylum, MCA years had their moments too, the Mercury/Starday is where to start.  B side Just Little Boy Blue, is really a hard rocking country song in the style of White Lightning or Who Shot Sam.  Backing vocals by Donnie Edwards later known as Johnny Paycheck.

Dealing With The Devil-Merle Haggard  (MCA 52020)  1981

Ole Merle and those drinking honky tonk songs.  What he does best.  Eddy Raven co wrote this song.
B side Fiddle Breakdown show Merle's fiddling skills.

No Love Have I-Webb Pierce (Decca 9-31021)   #4 Country 1960

Another hit single written by Mel Tillis, a nice little singalong in the style of I Ain't Never with a bit of drum rolls like Til I Kissed You from the Everly Brothers.  I'm thinking Buddy Harman might on drums.  It's odd that in the past couple years of how many quality country singles I have found via The Salvation Army or St. Vincent De Paul.  It does help that they're in very good shape, although they have been  played many times (but not like the used juke box records).  B side Whirlpool Of Love isn't as memorable or good as No Love Have I.

Cannonball/Moovin N Groovin Duane Eddy (Jamie EP JEP-101)  1958

A rare EP that was in these bunch of records that I buy.  In the old days, when jukeboxes had EPs, they tended to cost more to play.  Growing up, there was a baby sitter that had a bunch of Duane Eddy 45s, and she knew those songs would keep me occupied for a while.  Produced by Lee Hazlewood during the classic Jamie years.   The other side has Mason-Dixon Line and The Lonely One.  Which means more Duane twangy guitar and plenty of honking sax and hoops and hollers. All four songs clock under 2 minutes.   The record looks a bit rough but does play fine.

Thanks to Karen Howarth for keeping all the records in their sleeves.  Rest assured these have found a good home at the hoarder house of hits.

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