Monday, November 21, 2016

Week In Review: Mud Games 2, Crabby's Turkey Shoot

Basically, a very short week of music. And lots of football to contend with.  Ratings should continue to squeak past 2,000 views.

2016 is shaping up to be a grim year for musicians leaving this world and Sharon Jones was a big loss.  She was one of the late comers to traditional R&B blues of the modern era.   To be honest, her music never moved me enough to review any of them but what I hear what pleasant enough to be considered one day.  A nice piece on her from the L A Times (including the usual ads and other bullshit that bogs down your computer,

As we wind down on the 2016 football season, things are still clear as mud but there are shapes beginning to form.  Iowa went to Illinois and shut them out 28-0, the first shutout for Iowa since 2009 and first against Illinois since 1985.  Close game till the fourth quarter till TD runs by Akim Wadley and LeShaun Daniels' 50 yard run put the game away.  Iowa defense for the second straight game is beginning to dominate games (they have to, even with the big runs by Daniels and Wadley, the offense is still asleep with the switch).  Next up is Nebraska on Black Friday, to which they'll be fighting for that Heroes trophy.  Hawks still can get a 8-4 record if they defeat the Mighty Corn, with banged up senior Tommy Armstrong Jr sitting out the last game.   Other surprises was Kansas beating Texas for the first time since 1938 to which Charlie Strong, Texas coach might be 10 million dollars richer when Texas decides to part company with him after the next game.  I didn't think Texas was a top 10 team when the polls came out in September and they proved that but losing to Kansas was a no no.  You have to feel for Charlie especially after his emotional post game interview.   For a good heart he should be undefeated but in Texas 5-6 and having 6 turnovers against Kansas is not acceptable.  Over in Ames, Iowa State scored 66 points on Texas Tech and blew their high powered offense out of Jack Trice stadium, T Tech only had 10 points all day. Credit the Cyclone defense for holding in check the NCAA's number 1 rated offense.  Iowa State has come a long way since the 42-3 drubbing at the hands of Iowa earlier in the season. It's too late for them to make any bowls but they will plenty of momentum for next season.  As for Arizona State, they lived up to their billing as NCAA's worst defense as Washington bombed them out of Seattle with a 44-16 pounding.  ASU has now lost 5 games in a row.  Their last game will see if they can keep the Governor's cup for another year against winless Arizona.  What started out as a promising year has revealed that ASU was in rebuilding mode and each game they got worse.  A win and ASU will break even and maybe get into a post Christmas bowl, not as if they deserved it anyway.  A loss and ASU can call this season a waste.

BTW, Michigan and Ohio State is on a collusion course for this weekend.  Michigan kids have a special announcement for Bucky Buckeye.  Photo comes courtesy of Buckeye Empire.  Hmmm

(Minnesota/Detroit Thanksgiving 1969)

The NFL this year has not been much on my mind, and even less since we got rid of TV. But I still remain fond of the days of the 60s and 70s when they played 14 games.  Before luxury stadiums and field turf, most teams played in old rundown baseball stadiums.  Last year I paid tribute to the likes of the old Cleveland Stadium, who rainy games would turn the field into a muddy mess and while most games were meaningless (the 7-0 1974 Slopfest victory over San Francisco), if anybody played in these games, their bright white jerseys would be covered by topsoil mud.  On our second attempt to glorify the Mud Games, I have pulled out a couple odds and ends games that remain the middle finger to luxury stadiums and field turf.  Picking out plastic pellets off yourself playing field turf is not the same as sliding twenty yards on poorly kept sod at Briggs/Tiger Stadium in Detroit when they played Thanksgiving Day, usually in shitty weather.  Salute to the grand old ball park.

Two For Two: Lions Shutout  Thanksgiving Mud Games

(in glorious black and white-the 1968 Detroit Mudbath, probably in the first quarter-Dick Lebeau looking mighty clean the above shot, he's number 44, Norman Snead 16 hands off to an unknown RB)

(Alex Karras 71 ready to make a big splash in the mud, looks like all pro Bob Brown is leaning on Mike Lucci as the unknown Philly RB drowns in a sea of mud)

Philadelphia 12  Detroit 0 (1968)
Minnesota 27  Detroit 0 (1969)

The Lions are a Thanksgiving tradition, playing on Thursday for a long time.  The 1961 Packers 19-7 win was played on a muddy field and rain.  The Lions came back the next year to derail the Packers in the Turkey Day Massacre which Lions Defense line kept introducing themselves to Bart Starr time and time again.   But mostly in the 1960s  it usually was a victory for the other team or tie ball games.  But the 1968 Mud Bowl, is infamous for a winless Eagles team, who could have gotten O J Simpson if they kept losing but instead upset the Lions 12-0 on 4 Sam Baker Field goals.  A steady cold 36 hour rainfall turned Tiger Stadium into a swamp.  Wayne Walker swore if you stay put for a second, you would sink knee deep in the muck. Punts and passes would hit the mud and stayed there.  There has been complaints that the Eagles were using dry balls for the field goals, whereas the Lions were using mud caked balls for any sort of playing.  Although the Eagles won, they lost out on the OJ sweepstakes and ended up getting Leroy Keyes.  Detroit would stumble to a 4-8-2 record.

(Jim Marshall leading the charge to get Bill Munson: Minnesota Vs Detroit 1969)

One year later, the infamous Minnesota Purple People Eaters defense came a calling on a gale force wind and a blizzard/monsoon to boot.  This would have been John Madden's perfect idea of a mud game. And of course who could forget Jim Marshall, covered in mud with snowflakes falling all around waiting for the next play.  On this game Minnesota had plenty of fun turning Bill Munson and Greg Landry's jersey into different layers of Tiger Stadium mud.  If the 1968 game was knee deep in mud, the 1969 was full blown quagmire as both teams fought the elements to which the snow was falling so heavily you couldn't see the players, as in late in the fourth quarter, Jim Marshall picking off a Landry pass and then tossing it Alan Page as Landry tried to tackle Marshall.  For a mud game it was a bitch to play in but it's quite fun to look at from the TV set.  That would be the end of the back to back Lions being shut out on Thanksgiving.  Next season, Detroit upset the Oakland Raiders and ended the amazing streak of 5 games being won on the arm and toe of George Blanda 28-14.  For the first time in a few years, it didn't rain or snow and the field was playable.

Wrong Jersey Mud Bowl:  Detroit 24 Minnesota 20 10/11/64  (Minnesota)

This was the game that Norm Van Blocklin decided to do away with the purple pants.  Originally Minnesota showed up wearing white jerseys, a strange idea considering Minnesota usually played with purple home jerseys, why Norm did that we'll never know, but Detroit had their white away jerseys. So basically, Minnesota had to change jerseys during the game.  And ended up looking like over ripe grapes in the process. And the rains came soon after. In the end it turned out to be a rare Detroit victory over Minnesota.  And if memory serves me well, the only time Minnesota ever wore those purple pants at the Met (now Mall Of America).  Back in the days of multi purpose stadiums in September/October the infield would not be covered up, some stadiums would eventually sod them after baseball season but once the rains hits, everything turns to mud.  With both Detroit and Minnesota getting spanking new stadiums and field turf, the days of mud and grime are over.  In other words real football played back then.

(Photo:Getty Images-Martin Mills)

A triple dose of Mud games  Minnesota Vs Atlanta

Atlanta 10 Minnesota 3 (1969 Atlanta)
Minnesota 37  Atlanta 7 (1970 Atlanta)
Minnesota 24  Atlanta 7 (1971 Minnesota)

The last game of the season for both teams fell upon in rainy Atlanta for the 1969 game to which Claude Humphrey's fumble return for a TD was the only TD in that game, by that time Minnesota did sow up a playoff spot anyway.  They were not happy about being upset, so for the next rematch they blew out the Falcons in another sloppy game with 398 total yards.  In 1971 Atlanta went to the Mall Of America (Metropolitan Stadium) and got smacked again 24-7.  Surprisingly I haven't found any pictures of these games but the highlights that I saw on old NFL shows did indicated that all three games were very muddy.  I'm sure there's photos out there on the net but at this stage of the blog, you'll have to take my word on it.

Oh, the American Music Awards was on Sunday. Heard there was a lot of crotch grabbing by the females and rappers, but was there any sort of music going on there?  I think Green Day  pissed off Trump supporters with a song of theirs but outside of that I could cared less.

Well, it's Thanksgiving Week and usually that's the time that I post the Turds of the year in the annual Crabby's Turkey Shoot segment.  With each passing year, our list of crappy albums gets less and less, not because of lack of crappy music, hell there's plenty of that to go around.  But rather a more diligent and frugal way of buying better albums and avoiding the Five Finger Death Punch, or Korn or Kane Brown and FGL.  So basically it's a short list, and basically the biggest turkey remains crappy digipaks that open from within.  For jewel cases it's easier but lousy digital package remains as bad as texting and driving.  Let's see, I wouldn't say the Goo Goo Dolls-Boxes (WB) was a total waste of time but they have altered their sound to like trying to go for the Mumford And Sons sound and it just doesn't work for them.  With that, I decided that their best years are done, either they retire or become an oldies act.   Black Stone Cherry's Kentucky was supposed to be their freedom from Roadrunner but their new album shows them becoming more and more faceless modern metal.  Barry Gibb-Into The Now (Sony Music) starts out fine and then falls apart before your very ears on the second side.  Frank Zappa For President (Zappa UME) shows the Zappa Family Trust scraping the bottom of the barrel of selected synclavier solos and a remixed Brown Shoes Don't Make It; it was priced as a EP but even for 5.98 it was a wasted listen.    The Jayhawks-Paging Mr. Probst (30 Tigers) was a disappointment, even before he passed on, Bruce Stanley mentioned how boring the whole thing sounded.  Probably the worst produced album Peter Buck ever made too.  And then finally Steven Tyler's country move We're All Somebody From Somewhere (Dot) is no different than the last Aerosmith album Music From Another Dimension, but this time out Big Machine/Dot decided to go for the country market rather than rock.  Not a disaster but too many songs and a lack of direction doomed this from the start.  Surprisingly, it hasn't turned up in the dollar bins at your local thrift store.  Yet.

Gobble Gobble Gobble....happy Thanksgiving. 

Record Reviews:

Mike Eldred Trio-Baptist Town  (Great Western 2016)

Upon five or six years ago, Mike and trio gave us the best album of 2010 and  the one thing I noticed is how Mike digs into the real core of not only the blues but rather music that makes the blues.  I suspect it's a concept album about this town located deep in the Mississippi which Eldred came across while searching for Robert Johnson's grave.  While there's plenty of guest stars that show up (Robert Cray, John Meyer, David Hilgado), it's Eldred and his band of former Blasters (John Bazz, Jerry Angel) that translates the blues into a history lesson.  There's a connection between Robert Johnson and down home delta blues and gospel, the spirit of Sun Records (which the whole album was recorded at Sun Studios) but even Led Zeppelin and The Beatles completes this sort of modernizing the past with the present.  While the acoustic moments tend to pass on by, the electric side of record stand out with all the grit all the way down to Angel's drumming on Hoodoo Man or Sugar Shake.  There might be quibbles with the almost hour time of the whole album or perhaps a six minute reworking of Can't Buy Me Love which The Beatles are turned into a Led Zeppelin type of workout including feedback at the end.  Still Baptist Town gets points for being a brutally honest album about a place that still remains one and the same since Robert Johnson passed on, where love and hate, rich and poor, black and white still have not changed over the years in that place outside of Greenwood Mississippi, and I think Mike Eldred really did his research well and it shows in his songs.
Grade A-

The Floating Opera (Wounded Bird 1971)

Originally on Embryo and produced by Herbie Mann, This Ann Arbor outfit managed to make hippy dippy rock and roll with a side of Vanilla Fudge irony.  The Fudge irony comes across on first song Song Of The Suicides but The Opera go jam rock on The Vision, complete with crazy over the top drummer.  Carol Lees is not the lead singer but she does sing on Fever Day, which is a somewhat a relief from the dated playing and un PC like vanities in Buckwheat Girl.  But I tend to like dated hippy dippy playing a lot more in this day and age over the autotuned processed beats that is forced upon us and while Herbie Mann is more a jazz player, he simply lets the band do the talking as producer.  Side 2 shows a bit more restraint (just slightly) but still the songs do rock out (Angelfood Cake Song).  Half Priced Books managed to have a few obscure Wounded Bird reissues in their stores and this was the best of the bunch outside of Fire Town's first album (which I do have and recommend it).  The Harem Sacrum reissues are subpar hair metal.
Grade B+

Best Of The Kentucky Headhunters (Mercury 1994)

I think the better overview was CMJ's Flying Under The Radar which stole great moments from their post Mercury years.  That said, The Headhunters were more Southern rock than actual country and their jumping on the country bandwagon probably had the same effect as the new gatecrashers Sam Hunt and Kane Brown but they are more pop than Headhunters rock.  Their overall best Mercury album wasn't Pickin On Nashville but rather Electric Barnyard which (again) was harder Southern rock.  But if you're in a junk store and see a bunch of Headhunter albums and want just one, The Best Of does honor you with Dumas Walker and Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine.  In fact they did pick great songs from other people, Waylon (Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line), Don Gibson (Oh Lomesome Me) and even Norman Greenbaum (Spirit In The Sky) to which served as a wake up call to Ricky Lee Phelps and he eventually became a minister of the gospel, but not before he and his brother Doug would leave to do their own thing (Brother Phelps) and made two very good albums which were more country than rock.  Replaced by Mark Orr and Anthony Kenney, they got to be more blues based than country and Rave On! and the Johnny Johnson collaboration That'll Work proved that and whatever country fanbase they had, they lost.  But not me as I continue to stick with them through their sole BNA release and the return of Doug Phelps after Orr retired.  Mercury Nashville decided to give the Phelps Brothers more country loving,  9 songs to the 4 submitted by the Orr/Kenney led group concluding with hard rock version of You Got To Hide Your Love Away.  But all along, I always looked at them more as rock than country.   King of the Pork Chop look Fred Young powerhouse drumming is the reason why they rocked hard.
Grade B+

Miranda Lambert-The Weight Of These Wings (RCA 2016)

The most anticipated album of the fall and when anybody decides to put together a double album it better hold the attention or I lose interest quickly.  Lambert has always made great to good albums, Platinum suffered from too much of all things, worse of all a Carrie Underwood duet that sounded unfinished.  This time out Carrie finally has the better of the albums released. Since calling it quits with Blake Shelton, it would be interesting how she would address the situation and she putting out another mess of an album spread out to two discs.  The better of the two is the one named The Nerve, starts out with a moody Running Just In Case and spins its tires before Miranda gets back into the country with You Wouldn't Know Me.  Usually Miranda is good for a decent hit single but Vice disappoints me, and so did the buyers, it didn't get past number 13 on the charts and second attempt hit We Should Be Friends has enough vibe to maybe appease the bro country crowd.   The Heart, the second disc might be her most personal to date but the songs run sluggish, and Bad Boy goes for a more metallic approach and falls on its face.  Final song I've Got Wheels is where Miranda exercises those demons of the past and rolling on to the next destination and is worth the price of The Heart alone.   Certainly The Weight Of The Wings is Miranda coming clean and they're delivered with honesty, I'll give her that.  But the production and recording is a bloated mess, too muddy and muffled.  As if the Weight Of These Wings are dragging you down and make you feel what Miranda is going through.  I hope she can return to the days of the Crazy Ex Girlfriend. She was more fun then.

Grade B-  


Robert Christgau:
Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings (Epic) Although singles are country's lifeblood, this Nashville chartbuster has been popular music's most consistent album artist for nearly a decade—four solo plus two by the triple-threat Pistol Annies. But on this double-CD, one subtitled "Nerve" and the other "Heart," she overreaches, sells herself short, or both—particularly, surprise surprise, on the "Heart" disc. Maybe she wants to prove something to her ex Blake Shelton, who I doubt is smart enough to justify the effort. Or maybe she just wants to convince herself she's worthy of a schmaltzfest like "Tin Man": "If you ever felt one breakin'/You wouldn't want a heart." Needless to say, I greatly prefer the album's sole solo composition, her current hit "We Can Be Friends"—rude couplets like "If you use alcohol as a sedative/And 'bless your heart' as a negative" are why I'll love her forever. But it would be sexist to insist she be all feisty all the time, and a co-write with Pistol Annie Ashley Monroe called "Use My Heart" is the love song that proves it—by pondering whether Lambert lacks the "nerve" for love. Here's hoping she learns how to put the two together. She deserves it and we need it.  B PLUS

The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (Polydor/Track 1969)

Perhaps the most zany bunch of horse hockey in the hippy dippy era, I can see why this album got a one star rating in Rolling Stone Review Book.  I look at Brown in the same way I look at Screaming Jay Hawkins or Wild Man Fischer,  Hawkins is more believable when it comes pulling off the melodramatics of  I Put A Spell On You, which would have made a better followup to Fire, the definite one hit wonder single of all time perhaps.  And Screaming Jay had soul too.  But Brown is more related to Wild Man Fischer, he's simply too weird and misses as much as the Wild Man, whose An Evening With Wild Man Fischer you can finally hear for yourself after it was freed from the clutches of the Zappa Family Trust.   Since I staked my time and money on Crazy World, I'll refrain from Wild Man Fischer.  Co conspirator Vincent Crane's noodling organ work is all over the place with Brown's frantic screaming and half sung lyrics, but even with the hit single Fire, Crane really doesn't have much to say about the wild side of things.  I'll give him this, he did Alice Cooper in shock value, going around with a fire helmet upon his head when he played live.  He might have inspired Ian Gillan for those hectic screams too.  Although not credited, Carl Palmer is the drummer on this album and might be the best player too.  The Cd reissued five mono cuts before the stereo album and the mono difference of no horns on Fire and the stereo version with horns is telling.   It also tells you go find the single on a One Hit Wonders Compilation CD too.  Unless you like over the top bad attempts of whatever Brown is trying to accomplish.
Grade C-


RIP Ralph Branca

Marie Dixon, first lady of the blues:


(photo: Getty Images Neil Liefer, Cleveland Vs San Francisco 12/15/62)

Updated:  If you long for the days of real football played in real mud, a you Tuber by the name of Comrade Dobler has managed to upload plenty of old Browns games from the 60s and 70s) and one of them is the mud games of the Browns when they played back to back mud games vs Buffalo and the 7-0 victory over the 49ers in knee deep mud, as well as the 1973 16-16 tie with San Diego.  Knowing the NFL and how they operate, they don't like having such games up on You Tube and will claim rights to these games so you will have to look at them before they disappear. Also a 1975 mud bowl victory over New Orleans can be seen as well, as a 1974 mud game at San Diego.  You'll have to look the links up.  They will expire eventually but kudos to Dobler for making me relive the good ole days of mud in your eye.  Neil Liefer got it all down in dirty living color.  Tribute to his memory too.

Dobler really went out of his way to download most of the Browns mud games, all the way to the 6-2 Dallas victory in 1970 to which  Gary Collins fumbled basically ended their season that year. Bill Nelsen's 3 interceptions didn't help either. Dallas would win the NFC East Title.

All time best Cleveland Mud Games. At Cleveland of course. (After the Green Bay Mud Bowl 1966)

Dallas 6  Cleveland 2 (1970)
Cleveland 7  San Francisco 0 (1974)
Buffalo 15  Cleveland 10 (1974)
Cleveland 16 San Diego 16 (1973)
Cleveland 26 Pittsburgh 24 (1972)
Cleveland 45 New York Giants 10 (1968)
Cleveland 27 Buffalo 10 (1972)
Cleveland 20 Green Bay 7 (1969)
Cleveland 17 New Orleans 16 (1975)
Baltimore 20 Cleveland 3 (1971 Playoffs) 

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