Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week In Review, Sports, Country Perspective, Leonard Haze, Unmarked 45s

Baseball season is winding down, and for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, they started out with a 9-3 victory on Saturday Afternoon, Clinton took the next two including the winner take all 1-0 11 inning victory.  The odd thing about playoff baseball in the minor leagues is that hardly anybody shows up for these games.  Only 620 folks made it to the stands and half of them were the Clinton faithful.  Cubs will finally clinch the division title later in the week but it seems the ace of the staff is Kyle Hendricks who almost no hit the Cardinals Monday with a 4-1 Cubs victory.

The NFL season started and the San Diego Chargers did their usual choke job in Kansas City, blowing a 17 point lead,  leading 24-3 before the Chiefs came back on a very poor Chargers defense and the usual fold job from Philip Rivers, winning 33-27 in overtime to which my best friend had to give me grief over that before I reminded him of the Cubs whopping his Cardinals team.  Still San Diego is poised to once again occupy the basement of the AFC West, they went 0-8 against their divisional rivals and starting out 0-1.  A long season is in store.  Even though Rivers has been a iron man, playing in 161 straight games at quarterback, his erratic playing has always pissed me off and I always thought of him lowly, although he's a step up from another erratic QB in Jay Cutler.   But then again, with Joey Boo Hoo Boza out with a hamstring pull  after holding out all of the preseason is giving one of the second coming of Ryan Leaf.  Mike McCoy may not be around long as coach but the biggest problem remains The Spanos family continuing to shoot themselves in the foot in bad draft picks and a shit defense that can't stop the run, nor the past.  Or worst of all, playing three quarters and taking the fourth quarter off, even the rookie punter gave Kansas City help with a shit 17 yard punt. The 24-3 lead was a fluke, and I knew that as I turned the game off and went to do my usual Sunday Afternoon thing, doing a couple songs at the Popcorn Jam and finally getting to play alongside Craig Erickson along with the best players in town with Dan Johnson and Tommy Bruner. Sad to say, my set list was about 5 minutes for both songs.   But then again there were 7 other drummers in tow, and we were limited to two songs.  The way it goes but the others had some jamming numbers, including a stunning interplay between Jeremy Jacobs and Erickson on three Hendrix numbers with, Trevor Ott pounding on drums.  Next time bring ear plugs, a reminder to myself.

In the Cy Hawk game, the trophy stays home as Iowa destroyed Iowa State 42-3 and it wasn't even close.  Even with that, Iowa dropped a notch, no love from the Coaches Poll whatsoever and probably never until they beat somebody more notable.  Top rated North Dakota State of the FCB is next.  That's not going to be easy and but a NDS win and you'll get ESPN and Colin Cocksuk Cowherd telling you that Iowa remains a joke.   The prediction remains Iowa to be 8-4, Nebraska and Wisconsin have improved big time and they are wanting their trophies back.  I'm hoping that won't be the case.

(Source: ESPN)

Arizona State outlasted Texas Tech 68-55 in a wild offense display by Kalen Ballage who scored a record tying 8 touchdowns in one game.  Texas Tech has always had a wild offense masterminded by Kliff Kingsbury but his theory is to outscore the opponent since his teams lack defense.  Not that Arizona State isn't that great, but they did managed to intercept a couple passes and score a safety.   After the game Ballage invited his offense line to the interview room and gave them some heaping praise.  Of course ASU has a new offense coordinator in Chip Lindsay replacing Mike Lovell and new quarterback Manny Wilkins as Mike Borcovici graduated and moved on to a brief spell with San Diego.  The main ASU RB is Demario Richard who ran for over 100 yards but Ballage got the TDs. Pat Mamhomes threw for 540 yards and two TDs and Justin Stockton ripped the Sun Devils Defense for a 75 yard TD run but in the end, Texas Tech came up empty on three drives in the third and fourth quarter.  For a rebuilding year, ASU might have a crack at 4-0 with winnable games against Texas/San Antonio (Who) and California, but it might be wise to bring some sort of defense to the game next time.  You can't play basketball scores all the time.

On the music side of things.  Mikkey Dee has found new employment as drummer for the Scorpions replacing James Kottak.  Leonard Haze, former drummer for Y & T died from COPD, he was 61.  Haze always played Ludwig drums, which I remember quite fondly from that band's era.  Haze also did time with Ian Gillan's band before forming his own band HazeXexpierince.   Jerry Donahue, guitarist for Fairport Convention suffered a major stroke which has paralyzed his right side and he can no longer play the guitar.   The town of Maquoketa had a 2 day music fest with the likes of John Moreland and a few other big name bands but I had to cancel due to Bruce Stanley's funeral and the Cedar Rapids Kernels winning game one of the finals 9-3 over Clinton.

(Discogs: Photo)

Record collecting in this day and age can be fun, but it can also be frustrating as hell, even more so when going to record stores and seeing boxes of unmarked 45s and hoping to find a bargain, only to have the owner of the record store look it up on the internet and inflate the price of a scratched up 45.  I do not mind paying 6 dollars for something that I have been looking for, or four for a promo copy of Mirror Star by the Fabulous Poodles, only to take it home and seeing it played like a G rated 45, scratched up beyond belief.  Basically since where I bought it from is about a 100 miles away, this is one I have to take on the chin.  It's a crapshoot on taking chances on 45s in a box and I should have known better so I blame myself on figuring I found a bargain but in the end I didn't.  The Unit Four By Two, Concrete And Clay was in better condition but as history has shown, those old London Records never stood the test of time and most of anything from London or the London based distributed labels (Sire in their first year, Parrot, Hi), the hard vinyl tends to fall apart after each play.  The consideration factor is that most if not all 45s from 50, 60 years ago have been played and most are not in excellent or mint shape, unless it's a fluke, such as the Waterloo finds of a couple weeks ago.  All in pristine shape and the owner of them took excellent care of them but they were found at a consignment store.  I can see today's record store owners trying to survive and make a buck in a world that streaming on your smartphone makes it hard for a brick and mortar store stay in business, it's another when you're looking at jukebox forty fives and finding something out of the ordinary and them knowing they can pop you in the pooper.  The single in question is The Superiors 1965 Verve single What Will I Do, which looked to be in good shape, to which the price to own this would have been 30 dollars, a bargain since it was sold off EBAY for 55 dollars!  A good song but not enough for me to buy it and play it  a couple times at best and comment about it.  However, there are Northern Soul record collectors willing to  pay 30 dollars for it.   There's one up for bids at EBAY at 7.99 starting bid.  I'm sure that price will climb as the days go by.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb8xuyUVAgA

But in the past couple years of haggling with my record store owner buddies for scratchy singles, I have become more and more tired of the search for unpriced  single 45s and would rather try my luck at the thrift stores.  Once in a while I'll strike instant gratification gold, but as my Wednesday bargain hunts went, they were not so much of a bargain. The way it goes in the vinyl revival era nowadays.

The ratings of Blogspot is confusing to say the very least but I do think that the 514 plus views on my tribute to Bruce Stanley are honest enough to put it in 4th place in the all time views of Record World. Those who shared and viewed it.  Bruce thanks you from The Great Beyond. 

Site of the month: Country Perspective.  This guy goes above and beyond on the state of country music then and now. https://countryperspective.com/

Record Reviews

Whiskey Myers-Mud (Thirty Tigers 2016)

Southern rock in this decade remains a mixed bag at best, but at least you can call it rock better than  the bubblegum hair metal-autotuned  sounds of Bro Country.  A gigantic 7 member band from Texas, they are somewhat linked to Blackberry Smoke, to which Mud, the new W.M album can be compared to B.S's The Whippoorwill all the way to the soul sister screamer (Kristen Rogers) who does exactly that on a few songs here.  While I'm not all that convinced that Mud is a classic album, it is a steady work of progress that gets better with each new song, I usually think Southern Rock has to have at least one or two uptempo numbers.  Like most other Southern Rockers of this day age, Whiskey Myers doesn't do the uptempo all that much, mostly Southern shuffles and red dirt Country like songs (On The River, Lightning Bugs And Rain) or Drive By Truckers inspired Trailer We Call Home.  I kinda wished they did boogie a bit more such as the Bad Company driven Some Of Your Love, the Black Crowes rock of Frogman (Written with Rich Robinson of you know who) and the rock of Hank to which Hank Jr is name checked, and not Senior, 3, Locklin nor Snow.  Deep Down In The South might be aimed at the Bro Country dudes and probably Dave Cobb, their producer might have something to do with that.  Their first album Early Morning Shakes from 2014 might be the better of their albums, but for a followup, this is not a waste either. For the likes of the new Southern Rock, it took a while for DBTs and Blackberry Smoke to find their inner classic album in them and Mud I wouldn't say is a bonafide five star album, but Whiskey Myers is on to something and I still think they got a bright future in them.  Mud is down and dirty, but it is a promising good time.
Grade B+

The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl (Apple/Capitol/UME 2016)

The reissue of the year is a no brainer.  People have been clamoring for this to be issued on CD (those who still buy CDs that is) and the original album did only last 29 minutes for a full set.  Adding four more tracks from the other Hollywood Bowl concert gives us I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Baby's In Black and it's amazing how the late George Martin and his son Giles managed to get the music out in front out of all them screaming girls.  The songs are shorter, faster and even more tighter than their studio counterparts and The Beatles did rock with the best of them.  Guess there wasn't a workable version of I Saw Her Standing There, but for punk rock, I think Ringo Starr started it with this version of Boys.  Seems like everything they did was historic and an classic, even in a live setting.
Grade A

Butch Engle And The Styx-No Matter What You Say (Beat Rocket 2000)

He was better known as writing with Ron Elliot of The Beau Brummels  and probably helped them shaped up the sound during their Warner Brothers era, but on a whole Butch and The Styx had a bit more in common with The Association or Triangle era B.B's and not exactly rock and roll.  In fact when they try to venture out into hippy dippy flower power psych pop, they don't convince me very well, even with all that gobs of echo thrown in.  This album has just about everything they recorded as demos and a failed single for Loma and another failed single for Onyx , Puppermaster to which Ron Eliot would record with the Beaus later on and version two of Hey I'm Lost, not exactly a good song to be repeated three times over.  I brought this simply of the connection to the Beau Brummels.  But for demos and a handful of singles only the folks at Sundazed could come up with this sort of overview.   But it's one of those albums that you will listen one time just for the sake of historical means of a major player helping out another band and doing better than the output that he recorded for his own band.   And even Triangle doesn't do much for me either.  No matter what I say.
Grade C+

Creedence Clearwater Revival-Marti Gras (Fantasy 1971)

Whether or not you agree with Rolling Stone or Spin's assertion that this is one of the all time worst albums from CCR, you have to admire that John Fogerty, tired of hearing his rhythm section whine about not getting any credit where credit is done on the previous albums, told Doug and Stu to come up with something and see what happens.  And of course their songs paled in comparison to John's, although I don't think they are not listenable.   In fact, there's sort of a goofy charm on Need Somebody To Hold, and Stu's Door To Door isn't bad, it did make B side to Sweet Hitch Hiker, by far the best song on this album.  Fogerty didn't really break much of a sweat when he decided to make this album a democracy,   Looking For A Reason and minor hit Someday Never Comes are good, but not great John Fogerty songs and perhaps Hello Mary Lou was him marking time.  But even a half inspired John Fogerty songs are better than most of what Stu Cook and Doug Clifford came up with.  Even as CC Revisited, I don't think they bother much of even doing their own songs live anymore.  The real money remains the hits of course. Overall, it's the weakest of the CCR output as everybody agrees but it isn't without its charm.  An A for effort I suppose but in the end. it's a .....
Grade B+

Sleepy LaBeef-The Human Jukebox (Sun 1995)

He recorded for Plantation back in the 1970s, and this short 12 song set came out on Sun from various albums and sessions.  Of course I bought it for Blackland Farmer, his failed 1971 single but here he takes on some of the old boogie country rock and roll songs of yesterday.  He does add something different to Bob Wills Faded Love and makes it more bluesy and his versions of Boom Boom Boom, Good Boogie Tonight (aka Good Rockin Tonight) and Tore Up can rival a good bar band.  The misstep is Me And Bobby McGee where he tries to incorporate both Janis and Jerry Lee Lewis and it just doesn't work very well.  I'm sure there's better albums to hear LaBeef but The Human Jukebox, is still worth hearing simply of the fact Blackland Farmer is on this.
Grade B

The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band (Asylum 1974 reissued via Elektra/Wounded Bird 2000)

And now perhaps the biggest waste of an all star lineup it seems. Former Buffalo Springfield Richie Furay joins forces with Byrds/Burrito Brothers wonderkind Chris Hillman along with hotshot song writer John David Souther and backed with Al Perkins (Manassas), Jim Gordon (session drummer extraordinaire for Delaney And Bonnie and Derek And The Dominoes, and The Carpenters just to name a few) and Al Harris (Manassas, CSN), and trying to make an album to appeal to fans of Poco or the target audience of The Eagles and it falls flat on its face.  It's one of those albums that I continue to buy, then donate and then buy back to see what the fuss is all about.  I love Fallin In Love, their failed hit single and like Border Town and even Chris Hillman's hard rocking Safe At Home but like the last time I listened to this, the rest of the songs are bland or just plain suck.  The guess is that John David Souther couldn't get along with Richie Furay or vice versa and it turned out to be a waste of time and the album went straight to the cut out bins, do not pass go or collect 200 dollars, although the LP cost me a measly dollar.   While Furay is credited for the best song of Fallin In Love, he gets the blame for the worst song Believe Me.  He should never try to hit the high notes ever again.   Anyway, the CD is now out of print and used copies sell for over 20 dollars.  You're better off just cherry picking Falling In Love and Safe At Home for 1.29 per single or pay 6.99 for a MP3 copy.  To which I suggest the former.  Or better yet, pick up Cantamos by Poco or On The Border from The Eagles, they were much more enjoyable than this failed B team super group.
Grade C

Music From My Youth-Z Z Top-El Loco (Warner Brothers 1981)

This was the record that Billy Gibbons decided to incorporate more of a new wave kick in the boogie blues' ass that was ZZ Top and while Eliminator broke them big, El Loco I like better.  It doesn't get run into the ground like Eliminator and I love the goofy Tube Snake Boogie and the naughty naughty Pearl Necklace although my best friend complains that the radio station plays those songs too much.  It's a strange record, they do return to a boogie blues with I Wanna Drive You Home before going El Loco, with Ten Foot Pole to which Mr Gibbons talks nonsense, and probably inspired The Melvins into doing their own gibberish nonsense song Hootch years later.  Another strange fact is that Leila, made the top 30 in rock but that song never gets played on classic rock radio.  Side 2 starts out with It's So Hard somewhat of a yawner before Pearl Necklace and then their new wave move with Groovy Little Hippie Pad and B-52 inspired Party On The Patio.  But I also love the humorous Heaven Hell Or Houston.   In the end I think El Loco was the end of ZZ Top as a band of well meaning for me, Eliminator was better but MTV and KRNA and KKRQ and other assorted rock stations have played most of those songs to death.  El Loco was the first album for ZZ Top to get hip to the times and they would get more famous as the 80s wore on.
Grade B+

And now, the bi yearly Can't Review Them All series of artists and bands that are not cost effective.
The music biz is full of them.

Jason Aldean-The Dwight Yoakam of Bro Country (not a slam on Dwight but rather a comparison), Jason has managed to carve out a ten year career of bad country and bad rock and roll to make turd after turd albums.  Of course name checking Johnny Cash, the logic is thinking he's country if he namechecks a legend, but then again if Nickelback namechecks Johnny Cash or Webb Pierce, they could called country too.  Strange how it works in this day and age.  Aldean's music is not exactly memorable, but to stay relevant get another bro county or flavor of the month (Kelsea Ballerini) and do a duet for a new album, which he did.  I had a friend that did a meet and greet with Jason and she mentioned he was kinda creepy, just like that Johnny Cash song.  As for Dwight Yoakam, Dwight's last subpar album is ten times better than the new Aldean album.  http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/jason-aldean-just-admitted-to-the-dumbing-down-of-modern-country/

The Mars Volta-Nothing screams prog rock more than hyper speed beats and shouted out lyrics that nobody can understand.  Frances The Mute was that album it might be worse than anything kOrn ever did.  The most overrated band of the 2000s.

Megadeth-Out of all the metal bands that broke big in the 1980s, Dave Mustane's band has never made much of an impression on me,  I did buy Peace Sells But Who's Buying years ago but something about his vocals that I never cared much for.  He continues to make the news on a regular basis, throwing out band members, welcoming new members and then throwing them out and then have some former bandmates return and get thrown out.  Dave always had great musicians backing him up though.  For classic Megadeth, Rust In Peace is the one that gets the most votes, followed by Peace Sells and then Countdown To Extinction.  After that you're on your own.

Guns And Roses-They entered my restricted list simply of the fact that classic rock radio overplays Welcome To The Jungle and Sweet Child O Mine.  Appetite For Destruction remains a rock classic, but like most classics overplayed on KKRQ or KRNA you get sick of hearing the endless plays of those two Corporation Approved Rock Songs.  Granted GnR were not hair metal, the guitars of Slash and Izzy Stratlin were the Joe Perry/Brad Whitford of that band.  The key player is Izzy Stratlin, who favored a more roots rock and roll with a side of reggae and his songs on Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 still are quite good but since Axel Rose doesn't sing them, you don't hear them on the radio.  There is a goofy charm to The Spaghetti Incident?, which GnR finds some rock and punk covers that's worth a 1.98 in the cut out bins.  It is true that Axel Rose runs a tight ship and as the original members drop out due to drug problems and music disagreements, has managed to keep band going and finally giving the world The Chinese Democracy after years of delays.  It's listenable but not as classic as Appetite or the best of Use Your Illusion albums.  While Slash and Axel finally settled their differences enough to stand each other on stage again this year (2016).  Duff McKegan also joined them on stage through a successful summer tour that even Steven Adler managed to play drums on a few numbers but while fans raved about the original trio back together, to me it wasn't a full reunion with Izzy Stradlin missing and not taking part, later making a rare comment that he wasn't invited to the reunion (it's all about the $$$).  But the world remains happy that as long Slash is there, it's GnR.  A side note: my mom forbid me to bring and GnR albums into the house, not that it mattered much. There were more harder rocking and better bands that never got the credit that was bestowed upon GnR (Kings Of The Sun anybody?), and I doubt that GnR saved rock and roll even back then.  If you stand Sweet Child O Mine playing many times during the day this late in life, you're welcome to them.

Kanye West-He is rap, he drowns himself in autotuner, he's married to a Kadashian and is overrated even by Rolling Stone Magazine standards.  He's only rock with his mouth, and did I mentioned he's rap?

Tony Bennett-He's 90 years young and probably still be swinging the big band pop and lite jazz till he's dead.  Like pop singers of that era, it wasn't cool to like Tony Bennett, but he is good at what he does.  I heard the duet with Lady Gaga from that album is fairly good. Two albums of note is the I Left My Heart In San Francisco and If I Ruled The World-The Jet Set Album, both from the 60s and anything with Ralph Sheldon Trio is worth hearing, and the recently released album with Dave Brubeck is worth hearing as well.  Perhaps if I'm still around when I turn 70 I might be interested in what he has out there to listen to.  But like Frank and Dean, it's not the right time for me to indulge myself in his albums.  

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