Sunday, August 7, 2016

Week In Review: Tanking Ratings,Best Ever, Pet Sounds

Looks like that Russian bump that gave me inflated ratings have now ebbed again and we are back to the usual double digits views rather than the 660 that managed to pop up late July, thinking that this was going to be bigger than originally thought.  Looks like we back at low tide again.  The even more stranger side of things is The Review Consortium getting triple digits and I haven't posted anything there since March.  For the most part, I continue to use the Record World site more often.  I'm getting to the point that trying to maintain three different sites is more time consuming than need be and the hours invested of posting forgotten bands and pop 45s isn't paying off anymore.  With carpel tunnel issues, I just decided to cut back on the postings last week.  This is hell on the hands and wrists but the news will continue on as long as I'm thinking it serves a purpose.  I guess I'm one of the longer bloggers out there as I have seen bloggers come and go the past 14 seasons.  On occasion I'll see Jamie from A Sound Woman post something via Facebook and Tad continues to keep in touch, but I do miss Groove Sandwich.  Last time I chatted with Jamie was her observation about Dillard and Clark to which you can read here:

While she's busy going to college and living life I do hope someday we can chat again. A woman that buys vinyl, is worth keeping in touch. 

Basically the world continues to suffer in a world of shit between a Presidential year that has bring us the two most undesirable candidates ever, the failed reality megalomaniac  Donald Trump and the other  Hillary Clinton.  With Bernie Sanders out of the running and him trying to get his people to vote for Ms. Clinton, the observation is that, like the Bushes, the world is sick of Clintons.  But the bigger problem remains are the career politicians in both house and senate, doing less and less as the years move on.  With no term limits, Chuck Grassley will be voted in every fucking year, just like the puke face from Kentucky Bitch McConnell.   I think it is pointless to even mention the hijinx of Trump and everything that he says, he has no clear plan except getting the nuclear warhead codes and using them at the slightest minute.  Plus the guy doesn't pay his taxes, why else would he keep making excuses why he doesn't show his? Trump has done a fine job fleecing the tax payers for his bankruptcies.  But then again he's always been a bullshit artist.  As for Hillary......she's basically a Republican nowadays.  There's certainly no real Democrats anymore.  And the do nothings that hold congressional seats continue to go on vacation.  The hard working folks sure are not in congress anymore.  Enough of politics, even bitching about it does nothing anymore.  Do nothings sure do make a lot of money bitching about nothing, just ask Sean Hannity.

With Pete Fountain passing away, the music world that I knew back then is gone.  Musicians who define the pop and the rock scene have moved on to the next world and hopefully that world is a much better place.  The Bible keeps talking about the day that Jesus comes back to save this world but in reality, that is not going to happen.  Even the Son Of God wants nothing to do with this world anymore and we'll be dead before if anything comes out of the skies.  It's funny how growing up, we had three channels and PBS and they still had more shows and programming than the thousands of pay channels that offer nothing 24/7.  Viacom and changing VH1 Classic to MTV Classics is not a change, MTV in the 1990s may not been as a wasteland channel as it became in the 2000s but it's still a cultural decline and fall.  And the music never gotten any better, can you recall such classics like My Love Is Woo if radio plays it?  I betcha can't.   Can you recall anything from Limp Bizkit?  Radio doesn't play them anymore.  The great Clinton Telecom Act of 1996 is the cause of Corporate shitty music, it may have gotten you better cell phone service but music wise, we'll stuck with the classic rock playlist of 1985, updated with Stone Temple Pilots and one hit wonders like Eve 6 once in a while.  I love the 80s as much as anybody else but I rather not go back to Funkytown, since I never cared for that song in the first place.  What happened to old Oldies?  Well, they're like Big Band music, nobody plays those anymore.   We never thought that fifty years down the road that the music we grew up would not be heard on the radio anymore.  Except The Beatles or Elvis or Rolling Stones. But today's youth is surely missing out hearing the beginning notes of Duane Eddy's Peter Gunn coming from the jukebox at the local choke and puke. But today's youth wouldn't know that, they're too busy peering from their smart phone looking for Pokemon.  And once your youth is gone, you won't be finding those lost years looking for Pokemon. That's something you can never get back.

Still life goes on for those who rocked and rolled us 50 summers ago.  Case in point:  This Tuesday outdoors, you get Mike Love And The Beach Boys playing at the McGrath Amphitheater, with Otis Williams and The Temptations opening.  Four years ago, I might have jumped paying fifty dollars to see The Beach Boys with Brian Wilson and Al Jardine in tow, but despite having Bruce Johnston, the Mike Love Beach Boys just seems to be a creepy oldies act and Mike Love seems to be one of those musicians you rather stay away from.  Otis Williams is the last original Temptations, them of Motown fame, them featuring the talented but hot headed and irrational thinking David Ruffin now gone, the sweet tenor of Eddie Kendricks now gone and the cool bass singing of Mel Franklin now gone, Paul Williams gone, the Temps have become a Vegas like band that can sing the standards in their sleep, My Girl, Ain't Too Proud To Beg, Papa Was A Rolling Stone. Larry Braggs, who sang in Tower Of Power is one of the main vocalist today, while Ron Tyson is the longest tenured Temptation outside of Otis Williams.

Coming later in August is something called Psycho Fest featuring the likes of Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, Fu Manchu and Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats (no Mondo Drag though) and many many others but it also will feature the reunion of The Truth And Janey, Iowa's stoner band of the 1970s. Billylee Janey, who's been doing the white guy blues scene for many years will return back into his stoner rock mood, but I have no idea who will be a part of the original lineup, since somebody passed away from that band a few years ago and the archives haven't taken me to that article.  Stick around afterwards and hear Mr. Billy Lee tell you how he created stoner rock back then.  And basically No Rest For The Wicked is an Iowa rock classic album now back in print via the Rockadrome label, for 12.99.  If you want the original album, that might set you back a few more dollars but it is a worthy album to your collection.

Coming in September is the Happy Together tour with Flo And Eddie or better known as The Turtles, with a little help from Mark Lindsay, The Cowsills, Gary Puckett, Chuck Negron (of 3 Dog Night fame) and Spencer Davis which falls on September 2nd. at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake.  The same night that 50 Shades Of Rock returns back to North Liberty.

Karl Hudson has moved back in town now.  Welcome home.

Site of the month:

Yet another site dedicated to the best albums ever made.  You be the judge.  

Popcorn Jam note:  Dan Johnson took the day off to go watch the CR Kernels play, Mike Williams and Dan Hartman rocked the acoustic jam at Cooters, but all the drummers went down to Rumors to partake into the southern rock jam featuring Kenny Webb, Rick Clay, Kyle from Indiana and T Mack. The Crabb only did one song, but if you're going to do one song you might as well go all out.  The version of Rocky Mountain Way, this time out I used the version I originally did in 1982, namely all cymbals rather than drums with the intense ending.  I heard it was quite well although I don't remember much afterward. 

BTW.  20 years ago, The Ramones played their last show.  Let that sink in a while.

And I guess Britney Spears is back with a new album.  To promote that fiasco, she posed topless. When all else fails in life, show your funbags.

Passings: Dottie Ray, longtime KXIC personality that had her very own 15 minute show, even after the Corporate mergers.  She retired the show in 2013.  She died Monday, she was 93.

Glenn Yarbrough, famed folk singer who's big hit was Baby The Rain Must Fall, passed away Thursday from Dementia complications.  He was 86.

Reviews for the discerning slacker

Frank Zappa-Frank Zappa For President (Zappa 2016)

It seems 23 years later that we need Frank Zappa more than ever now but unfortunately what remains in the archives suggest otherwise.  This cheapo cheapo CD, throws synclavier  noodling for 15 minutes before going into Brown Shoes Don't Make It, a key cut from Absolutely Free.  A couple of spoken word pieces from FZ gets my interests back up, plus two cuts from a 1988 show (When The Lie's So Big and  a trainwreck in the making  cover of  America The Beautiful), plus another 6 minutes of synclavier noodling in between.  The last Zappa album I bought, (The Mothers Of Prevention) suffered from good intentions done in by synclavier noodling as well and the best songs, which were jams with Johnny Guitar Watson was left off the US release.  I think Frank was at this point more into symphony type of works, in the style of Varese, the composer that Frank cites as a main inspiration.    It would have helped if Ahmet Zappa could have located I Don't Want To Get Drafted and perhaps hearing one of Zappa's last compositions Overture To Uncle Sam worth the 7 dollars to buy this.  But Synclaviers tend to bore me, even in Zappa's complex time signatures. It still is a snoozefest.
Grade C

The Beatles-Revolver (Capitol 1966)

In that year of Can You Top This, Revolver seemed to be a reaction piece to Pet Sounds, or so the story goes.  For the first time, Capitol US issued the record as is, unlike Rubber Soul to which they added a couple and subtracted a couple.  While I tend to think the US Rubber Soul was the better of the two, Revolver really does showed that The Beatles did up the ante, and even giving George Harrison three songs, the great lead off Taxman, the not so great Love You To and the underrated I Want To Tell You.  They did give a posthumous 1976 hit with Got To Get You In My Life, to which Earth Wind and Fire made their own a couple years later for the flop movie that came out.  Say what you want about Yellow Submarine but I still love that song all the way down to Ringo's vocals and for power pop bliss She Said She Said and And Your Bird Can Sing can't be beat.  Tomorrow Never Knows is still a love hate thing but I can't think of a better song to end this album.
Grade A

The Beach Boys-15 Big Ones (Brother 1976)

The Beach Boys were a nostalgic act even in the Bicentennial year although they did get  minor hits with Rock and Roll Music and It's OK.   While it's been mentioned this was their best album since Sunflower, the throwaway covers kinda make this a passable affair.  Talk To me, gets a rave up middle in Tallahassee Lassie and too bad they didn't keep the groove going.  Al Jardine comes up with a decent rocker in Susie Cincinnati before the change of chords kinda ruins the mood toward the end.  Still some innocent fun with Blueberry Hill and In The Still Of The Night but Brian Wilson can't sing very well on Just Once In My Life.  Should have left that one off the record.
Grade B

Buckner & Garcia-Pac Man Fever (Columbia 1982)

For a children's album, I tend to look at this  somewhat melodramatic, even on the overblown Ode To A Centipede and perhaps Froggy's Lament is a bit too sad the way that Gary Garcia sings it.    But there's no denying that Pac Man Fever remains perhaps the 80s answer to Yummy Yummy Yummy, but with better guitar and better lyrics.  I've been looking for ages a decent copy of this album but as you know children albums tend to get played through the grooves.  It does get a bit tedious, especially side 2 of the lesser known video games and too bad nobody thought up a groove for Q Burt.  Sony Music never did sign off on releasing this album on CD and when it did show up (On K-Tel if it really matters) Buckner And Garcia had to redo some of the songs.   Kids today wouldn't know the difference between Donkey Kong or The Enforcer since they're too busy chasing Pokemon but as a bygone era relic, this record is at least worth listening simply of the sound effects of those old video games.   It's cheesy but I think it has good intentions.
Grade B

Counterpoint: (Guess who)

The Stillroven-Cast Thy Burden Upon (Sundazed 1996)

Only from Sundazed could come this batch of covers from an obscure Minneapolis band.  Their choices of covers is quite remarkable, anybody that can cover Love, The Animals, Small Faces and based themselves out of the midwest gets points for thinking outside of the usual top forty songs of 1966 thereabouts.  Like any upstarting garage band their covers are quite crude, the off drumming to Steppin Stone, and for Hey Joe, they don't cover Jimi Hendrix or the Byrds but rather Love.  And like most garage bands, the covers don't come close to the original be it Love Is A Beautiful Thing or Under My Thumb.  The first version of The Small Faces Tell Me Have You Ever See Me is a bit more rougher and better than the polished second version to which they're wondering what to do next.  I'm guessing the unreleased songs were demos to get them gigs.  I'm not going to rake them over the coals, they meant well.  And if anybody does cover Moby Grape's fourth best overall song from their S/T album does get points and kudos.  Not memorable but it works enough to get them the Friday Night Gig at the local watering hole
Grade B-

The Jayhawks-Paging Mr. Proust (Sham/30 Tigers 2016)

I guess this is where I turn in my Jayhawks button.  After the disappointment of their previous album with Mark Olson (who then left again), Gary Louris soldered on with most of the lineup that made Sound Of Lies plus Kraig Johnson, formerly of Run Westy Run.  Certainly it helps when you have a few of the REM boys pop in and have Peter Buck co produce it, but I have never heard such a crappy mix from a major band.  It seems like Louris' vocals are buried so far in the mix you can barely hear the words (Blame co producer Tucker Martine).  Another problem is that for every good song that Louris comes up with (The Dust Of Long-Dead Stars, Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces), he also comes up some real turds, (Ace, a oddball avantgarde sort that has Gary trying out his guitar effect pedals).  But it seems to me that The Jayhawks made three great albums at the beginning and then beginning with Tomorrow The Long Grass begin to father badly, Sound Of Lies comes to mind.  Even the American Recordings best of seems to suggest that even with the highlights from the albums after Long Grass, they pale next to Blue Earth or Hollywood Town Hall, although Smile and Rainy Day Music had moments too.  If anything this album is better than Mockingbird Time, but you have to skip over Ace, a major buzzkill to get to the last five songs. This could have been the worthy followup to Rainy Day Music but to me, it's a disappointment to the point that it gets knocked down a notch for one of the worst recording jobs this century.   At least George Drakouius or Brian Paulson would have done a much much more better recording.
Grade C+

Albums From My Youth-The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (Capitol 1966)

In my lifetime I have reviewed and heard just about every album that made an impact on the music world.  I have studied the Rolling Stone Review guides 1, 2, and 3, as well as Robert Christgau's reviews as well.  Until the day I die, I will continue to listen to anything that captures my attention. In the course of my lifetime, the music I most identify with is the music of my youth, which started when my mom bought 45s in the cheap bins and then going to my Grandparents to hear the big box of 45s all scratched up but playable.   Through the golden age of rock and roll that started in 1954 with Rock Around The Crowd and then having the likes of Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Freddy Cannon, The Everly Brothers, and through the British Invasion and the Animals, The Beatles and bubble gum pop like Tommy James And The Shondells, then to the garage rock of Paul Revere And The Raiders and The Rascals and The Doors, and then the underground rock and roll of Led Zeppelin, Foghat, Aerosmith and Blue Oyster Cult and continues to this day, although most new music doesn't hold much weight.

I have read Rolling Stones 500 Best Albums Of All Time and while the top ten continue to be the ones that people continue to buy, my views have been mixed on certain classic albums. Bob Dylan-Blonde On Blonde is an album that while worthy, I have never warmed up to it, nor Bruce Springsteen Born To Run, nor Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon.  They're still classic albums but for desert island discs, not my favorites.  I guess you can add Pet Sounds to that allotment.

While discussing this album with friends the past couple days and its importance to rock and roll, I finally decided to locate the album and play it on the way to work today.   Brian Wilson has said that mono version was the way to hear it (or at least he said that in a interview years ago).  When I found the CD for 4.99 at the now history Hastings store in Ames, it had both mono and stereo and after hearing it, I still like the stereo version better.  I think Brian Wilson had a such a fascination and obsession with Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound that he decided to do an  album such as Pet Sounds.  Of course you can't go wrong with Wouldn't It Be Nice, which leaves the album off on a great note.  The problem is, that side 1 really drags for me.  Of course Brian Wilson sings all over it, Mike Love kept in check, though he pops in on the bridge of Wouldn't It Be Nice, but does show up more often on side two beginning with Sloop John B which has always been one of my favorite Beach Boys numbers.  If the record deserves that A minus grade, it is the beauty of God Only Knows and Caroline, No. I do like the lesser known I Know There's An Answer and Here Today.  The connection to the wall of sound of Spector is that some of those musicians used by Spector, Wilson employs them on Pet Sounds,  (Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Larry Ketchnel, even Glen Campbell himself) plus Larry Levine records a couple of them.    The CD reissue (1996 version that is) really provides a detailed sessions of these songs, plus the bonus track Hang On To Your Ego and the liner notes are worth the price of the CD itself.

Given that, I do not deny Pet Sounds is a classic album, it influenced The Beatles to come up with Revolver and up the ante of some of the best albums that came out 50 summers ago, to which the youth and bands of today can never, never achieve, not even half way.  The Major labels will not support any band with the grand vision of what Pet Sounds became, when bands wanted to create their own music rather than fall into stale, flavor of the moment crap you hear on radio today.   Even Brian Wilson couldn't top what he did with Pet Sounds, with the failed Smile project which did come out years later and with Wilson with a band that could do the songs better than Mike Love and the hired hands of The Beach Boys and by then both Carl and Dennis Wilson moved on to the next world.   In the end, I more inclined, when wanting to listen to this period of The Beach Boys is to pull out the odds and ends that is 20/20 rather than Pet Sounds, which still remains on my CD shelf.   It doesn't matter what I think, for in the long run Pet Sounds will be part of the discussion of all time greatest albums of the rock era, after I'm gone.  If people think it's the best pop album ever made, so be it.  My guess remains had Wilson put Smile out, that would be the grand statement and really, Wilson's version of Smile (on Nonesuch) was one of the best of the 2000s.  But for myself, I have to be the mood to hear the first side and even on a good day, I can only muster up a A minus simply of the strength of the songs on side 2 and the popularity of this album from generations of critics and musicians.   I think I enjoy 20/20 more, but each to their own.


TAD said...

Hey Crabby -- I agree you have to kind of cast your mind back to a more innocent time to love all of PET SOUNDS, but I heard it at an impressionable age (just after high school) when I was naive and full of starry-eyed questions about the future.
PS is mushy and romantic and sentimental, and that's OK with me. I love it, but I also think it drags some on Side 1. It sure ain't perfect (what album is? DARK SIDE? RUMOURS? ABBEY ROAD? REVOLVER? SGT. PEPPER?? WHITE ALBUM??? No!), but I love it for the high points. For me, those are: God Only Knows, Here Today, I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, Sloop John B, Let's Go Away for Awhile, I Know There's an Answer. All the vocals are gorgeous, and the playing is amazing.
Wouldn't it be Nice? Well, OK, if I have to. The flow of most of the rest of it I'm OK with, though I got little use for "That's Not Me" or "Don't Talk" or "I'm Waiting for the Day." Not fully convinced about "Caroline No" as a closer -- I woulda used "Wasn't Made for These Times" or "Let's Go Away for Awhile" -- but then the album woulda sold LESS. DO love that barking-dogs-and-train tag at the end, though.
On the CD version I've got, you also get the bonus track "Trombone Dixie," which I think is great. I can't imagine Brian being so busy making new music that he could somehow FORGET this piece. Apparently Brian turned it into some other BB's song MUCH later. But I think it's cool with the chimes and the sly trombones on the choruses.
Yeah, I think SMILE's better, but it's a bigger canvas and all the mystery and the waiting somehow made it even HUGER, though I loved the box set a few years back. But that's a whole different sort of project, which maybe Brian couldn't quite grab hold of, though I think what we got is pretty great.
Thanx as always for the chance to blab about all this....

R S Crabb said...

Hi Tad

As always your more than welcome to chime in. Second opinions do count.

Not familiar with Trombone Dixie, my version has both mono and stereo versions of P.S and after I heard one version, I am not tempted to compare notes. Side 1 does drag but the second more than makes it up-not a bad song at all. I have given 5 stars or A pluses to some albums that grab my attention but even the masterpiece albums might have a subpar song to chose from. Alan Parsons gave a nice mix to Dark Side Of The Moon to make it a five star album, but in my book it's a B album. I can live without it. For an A plus album like Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, it's crackpot and original nature makes me like that one the best. For Fleetwood Mac, I'd go with Then Play On, more than Rumours but Rumours is a masterpiece. Sgt Pepper same thing but who in their rightful mind would consider The Randy Cliffs Trixie's Trailer Sales to be a masterpiece outside of me? Nobody else in this world.

That said, Pet Sounds deserves mention for a masterpiece, although I know you'll play your copy more than I will. The jury is still out if Smile would have eclipsed Pet Sounds had it come out, my guess would be Smile would have been better. In the long run, 20/20 would get more plays on my player, even as scrapings from Smile, to me it's a bit more consistent.


TAD said...

Hi Crabby -- "Best Ever Albums" looks like a cool site. I was intrigued enough to register and join. I even tried -- several times -- to submit a Strange Top 10 to them. Which went OK, until they ran into album titles they didn't recognize, and then their system locked up. Repeatedly. So. I'm sure there are less complicated ways to make a "compare favorites lists" site work -- since criticizing each other's musical taste is one of the major joys in life. But they'd have to be less OCD than this site. Getting around the site is a bitch. There are easier ways to do this -- Mark Prindle made it work for years and his site sure wasn't fancy. Maybe "cool-looking" is the last thing a site like this needs. Anyway, thanx for the tip and I might even visit them again ... for something.... Though any site that thinks DARK SIDE OF THE MOON was the best album of the '70s needs to get jolted around a little....

R S Crabb said...

I posted that link Best Ever Albums.. For I know that I will forget them. ;)

Troy Tempest said...

Sgt pepper was the first Beatles album that was the same in UK as in us. Revolver was the last one where they tampered with the songs.

Troy Tempest said...

Just think what a better album pet sounds would be if they cut out the dog barks and instrumentals and ended the album with good vibrations instead.