Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Week In Review: Leonard Cohen RIP, 2016 Farce, King Crimson

A few weeks ago Leonard Cohen released his latest and would be his last album You Want It Darker.  It seems to me that like Bowie's BlackStar, that Cohen looked upon this to be his last farewell in the music world.  While Leonard's early 60s albums gave him much praised and covered many times by other singers and bands, I tend to look at 1988 I'm Your Man to begin his best era, although he recorded off and on, the only misstep he had was the Dear Heather album.  He'll be forever known for Hallelujah, to which John Cale recorded the definite version that made its way to the first Shrek movie.  Cohen died Thursday at age 82. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/leonard-cohen-dead-at-82-w449792


Robert Vaughn, (Man from UNCLUE, The A Team) passed away from Leukemia. He was 83. 

Arizona State, is like Iowa, started out on fire but flamed out.  Utah dropped them to 5-5 with a 49-26 bombardment.  Next loss, at Washington next Saturday.

The end times are upon us once again. 2000 all over again?    Basically once again a wasted vote:  GOP controls the house and senate, back to 5 dollar gas again, World War 3, the new Depression.  Happy days are not here again, but then again everybody is sick of Hillary and the failed reality star is now your POTUS.  Not mine, I didn't vote for him.   Republicans everywhere, let's take it back 50 years folks and go after those Indians trying to get in the way of Big Oil and their pipeline.  Never mind the fact that you can't drink oil.   Of course, this state is a Red State, we can't get rid of Chuck and Pat Grassley who won, and Chuck will probably die in office, but people will continue to vote for his spirit. Same with doofus Steve King.  Even the corrupted Ron Johnson in Wisconsin beat Russ Feingold.  I give up, I voted, and it meant nothing.

So what now?  The question remains if the GOP controlled everything turns on the Failed Reality Star and impeaches him out of office and then you're stuck with Mike Pence.  Here in the great Red state of Iowa, we still have Grandpa Grassley, working hard to obstruct but I do admit he does work at some point of time and likewise Rod Blum over the worthless Joni Wonderbread Bags Ernst. Retirement age will probably go up to 75 way things are going.  Wellmark will continue to raise rates 50 to 75 every year and you can count our failed reality star to get us into more wars.  Or perhaps the scenario will be the failed reality star turn tail on the GOP and actually work for the interest of the American people.  Yeah right. Already the folks at Anonymous are gearing up a war of words with the failed reality star.  Maybe the revolution has began.  But the system is rigged anyway. Business as usual.

But I don't exactly see this as a upset by the failed reality star, there was a sense of dread in the air but the voters have spoken.   If anything came of this Joe Arapio has been relieved of his duty as Sheriff of Arizona, but the usual shit goes on.  Even junkhead Mario Rubio returned to congress as well.  As the failed reality star said, tell a lie long enough and people will believe it.  Who knows, perhaps this new POTUS will stand up to GOP interests to blaze a new trail and to rid of Wall Street interests or Koch Brothers influence.   Still in the end, I voted and still reserve the right to tear into this GOP controlled euphoria.  If gas prices go back up over 3 dollars a gallon we'll call them out as hypocrites or anything else that impedes our way of life.   But I will be in my own right skeptical, and the F.R.S. POTUS and the GOP controlled congress will be called out if it doesn't benefit us. So make American great again or get voted out by the vote or otherwise.

And love one another too.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your (not mine) POTUS, the failed reality star. I didn't vote for him. 

Valid points: http://www.stonekettle.com/2016/11/bug-hunt.html

The Book Of Revelation. For these changing times. 


Some eye candy to get off the election day horsehockey. I'll guess that she'll do nicely. This month's dream date and nothing more.

Record Reviews:

King Crimson-Live In Toronto (DGM  2016)

Almost one year ago Robert Fripp took Crimson up to Toronto for a series of dates, one to which he was so put off by cellphone mania taking pictures that they didn't do any encores.  Whatever the case may be the November 20, 2015 show was recorded and released on CD very quietly.  Certainly all hell breaks loose on Lark's Tongue In Aspic Part 1 and if that that doesn't jolt you out of the sea, then you can try Pictures Of The City and the varied jazz to metal sound.  And maybe Jakko M. Jaksyzk (who also fronted the K.C. Tribute band 21st Century Schizoid Band) is the best vocalist suited for Crimson.  He certainly adds more oomph to In The Court Of The Crimson King than Greg Lake did or Easy Money and John Wetton.  The three drummers, Pat Monstello (Mr Mister), Bill Rieflin (Ministry, REM but played with Fripp in 2006) and Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) the main drummer, writing arrangements and all three drummers passing around the beat.  It helps to have long time Crimson bass player Tony Levin maintaining the aggressiveness that makes songs like Level Five and Red sound like the forthcoming book of Revelations coming alive before your very ears.  And Mel Collins who adds angry sax and lovely woodwinds where needed.  What really strikes me is the loud aggressive prog rock metal that comes in and out of Live In Toronto, climaxing into the show closer Starless, which sounds a bit more polished the the 1974 USA version, but 21st Century Schizoid Man which Fripp did do as a encore, 11 minutes of aggressive doom complete with Harrison doing a drum solo and might be the best version of this played live ever.  While Live In Toronto is not the complete show, (A three cd set called Radical Action To Unseat The Hold Of The Monkey Mind and is probably a better deal if you're into King Crimson), it does hold enough attention for me to give it four stars. Or a solid A minus.

Loggins And Messina-"So Fine"  (Columbia 1975)

End of the line and they knew it, so they went for a more oldies covers album which didn't sell very well.  The results vary, they do a very good version of Hello Mary Lou or Wake Up Little Susie. Splish Splash deteriorates into Sha Na Na parody and Elvis and Hank Sr aren't losing sleep over My Baby Left Me or Hey Good Looking.  But they do have genuine love of the oldies and they make like a good oldies cover band on So Fine or Honky Tonk Part 2.  Not groundbreaking but not an embarrassment either.
Grade B-

Soft Boys 1976-1981 (Two Crabs/Rykodisc 1995)

Given the weirdness that is Robyn Hitchcock, he always had the right kind of players to play his type of music vision. And basically his fans thrive on this sort of alt rock visionary, more accessible than Captain Beefheart, but with a record collection that boasts even of the Hoosier Hot Shots; what else to explain I Like Bananas or doo wop on the Monotones Book Of Love.   Disc 1 focuses on the odd ball covers and forgotten singles and sometimes the whole thing slows to a crawl on the cover of Stephanie Says, though Robyn goes with the John Cale version of Heartbreak Hotel and then channels Elvis on That's When Your Heartaches Begin.  Disc 2 shows the creative growth of the Soft Boys with sections taken off A Can Of Bees and Underwater Moonlight, with the latter cut a early version that is more rough around the edges.   With Kimberly Rew, The Soft Boys were decidedly more rocking and he could add mad guitar where needed (Mystery Train, Kingdom Of Love V2).  But it is Hitchcock's show and band and while he's not for everybody, this odds and sods overview does give an decent overall view of a band that was probably too quirky for new wave and too far out in space for rock and roll.  Still Robyn is only too happy to open up the vaults for just about everything he committed to tape (and that includes the Rhino reissues of his original albums, later moved over to Yep Roc with some adds and deletions).  Since the Soft Boys never had any hits, this long deleted Rykodisc set makes a very interesting mix box set.  For the less adventurous, there's always A Can Of Bees or Underwater Moonlight.
Grade B+  

Leon Russell-Life's Journey (UM-2012)

 I love Leon Russell, most folks do.  He's had a long and storied career, being one of the main arrangers for some of the acts on Phillips/Liberty, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, Brian Hyland, and then became part of the Mad Dogs And Englishmen for Joe Cocker before forming his own label Shelter and putting together three very good albums and two turds.  And then the disaster with Mary McCreary and even more turds for Paradise/Warner Brothers.   I still think his 1992 effort Anything Is Possible for Virgin had its moments with Bruce Hornsby but Elton John hooking up with him on The Union somehow freed Russell and he helped Elton by putting a fine performance despite over the top gospel singers that sunk that album.  Thankfully the soul sisters took the day off and staying on Universal, Russell has put together his best album since Anything Is Possible with Life's Journey. Produced by Tommy LiPuma, and recorded by Al Schmitt, two of the finest jazz folks this also features the like of Budda Abe Lanoial Jr. (Paul McCarthney), Willie Weeks (famed session player) this record focuses in on what makes Leon Russell who he is.  Giving props to R and B he covers Fever (Little Willie John) and you know when Leon gets into it when he does that banshee scream he's famous for.  He can rock out when the time calls for it on Big Lips and pays homage to Ray Charles with not one but two of Ray's better known stuff (That Lucky Old Sun and Georgia On My Mind).  He can also do dixieland with the album closer Down In Dixieland, or go into blues with Come On In My Kitchen. Or big band jazz with I Got It Bad And That's Not Good.  The downside is that Russell tends to nod us off on the slower numbers, while good, three in a row tends to lose the momentum that the first five songs started out with.  However the Paul Anka cover is the nadir but that's nitpicking.  Leon tends to think that this album might be his last chapter and at age 72 he might be in the final stages of a long and industrious career with many highs and some lows, which you can probably tell by the cover picture of a thoughtful Leon, all long hair and scraggy beard and on the other side him reading the Bible.  He has been at peace with himself and always humble toward everybody.  I recall him playing in 1989 with Edgar Winter after a long hot day watching Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult, Atlanta Rhythm Section and a couple others, and remember seeing him dark sunglasses and cowboy hat making to the stage and he put on a pretty good show anyway.  But in the lateness of life, it's good to see him back in the spotlight, with Elton John providing support and making his second good record in a row, we just about gave up on him when those Paradise albums came out.  His voice may not be as powerful as it once was (usually folks 70 or over have that problem) but the man can still play the hell out of the grand piano.  Think Of Me he sings?  You Bet

4 years later.....

The death of Leon Russell Saturday hasn't diminished the fact that  Life's Journey is still a good album although my opinion of it has differed a bit since then.  I don't think Leon Russell was a rocker but rather more interested in covering the lush pop standard This Masquerade Is Over.  His albums over the years do suffer a bit and the Shelter CD of The Best Of Leon Russell is the best overview. He started laying a lot of turds beginning with Stop All That Jazz and it continued when Warner Brothers threw a ton of money his way to start a new label Paradise, and those albums featuring ex wife Mary McCready remained awful.  Bruce Hornsby did managed to coax Anything Can Happen in 1992 from Leon to which Virgin had no idea to promote and being sold off to EMI didn't help either.  The orgasmic soul sister that sunk The Reunion is not on Life's Journey and if she is, she's held in check.   I still enjoy his frantic remake of Fever and a couple others on Life's Journey, which turned out to be Leon's last album and it's a nice to exit stage right. I certainly wasn't expecting the early Shelter years albums for five star albums but I did expect more than what he did for Paradise in the late 70s.  With Tommy LiPuma producing it was a nod to go for  a lush pop sound than rock n roll.   I think Life's Journey is more of a solid three star album or a B grade but since he put his heart and soul into his final effort, I'll keep it with the original B plus grade.


TAD said...

Hi Crabby! Don't have much use for Leonard Cohen's singing voice (even worse than Bob Dylan's!), but thanks for setting me straight that it's John Cale who sang the version of "Hallelujah" that I want to hear. I also think Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" is pretty great -- when it's the Neville Brothers' version.
And I appreciate the King Crimson review, though I think I'm probably done with their albums. Would still go see them again, though....
Keep rockin, despite the apocalypse and all....

R S Crabb said...

Hi Tad

Cohen's croak works better than Dylan's Wheeze but listening to You Want It Darker it does work in its own way. He was pretty bad shape when he recorded it with his son Adam Cohen producing. The argument is Jeff Buckley's version is the best, I don't agree with that, John Cale nailed it and I remembered it best during the sad scene on the movie Shrek, between Donkey and the Dragon. I recently broken up with the woman from Portland and I could relate to the heartbreak of that song and scene.

Certainly the Live in Toronto King Crimson live document you can live without but I think it's worth hearing. I always had reservations about Adrian Belew's era with KC. But they're better to see live, just don't bring your smart phone to record or take pictures. Robert Fripp would not like that. ;)

TAD said...

Hi, Crabby: This has nothing to do with your blog, but....
You said once that you sold CD's and stuff through e-bay or Amazon or something. If I'm remembering this right and you DID -- was it worth it? Did you make any money? Was it worth the hassles involved?
Reason I'm asking is, I'm considering maybe going into the business and making a little extra cash on the side, but I'm wondering what kind of experience the average person would have had. I figure, if I've got all these CD's and albums and books cluttering up the house, may as well make some cash on the stuff I don't want anymore, right?
Would you be willing to pass on your (brief) impressions? Thanks in advance....
Oh, and thanks as always for the eye candy. You have great taste....

R S Crabb said...


Since you asked, I did sell CDs via Amazon for a few years before CD sales tanked big time and basically thought it was simpler to get pennies on a dollar at the local Half Priced Bookstore. My take: You're not going to get rich and basically you'll be selling at a loss when you factor in shipping charges from the US post office. Once in a great while I would make something off certain out of print CDs, the highest I ever sold a CD went for 60 dollars (a numbered Rhett Miller CD that I found three copies of Rhett Miller's 1989 Anthologies or something like that, sold two and gave one to my late friend Bruce Stanley). I didn't do EBAY, too many crooks and trolls out there and went with Amazon. I did okay the first three years but not enough to quit my job and most of the people that brought from me were upfront and did give positive reviews, with a couple exceptions of some dumb bimbo from Missouri that made fun that I sent her a CD with cracked jewel case, which wasn't that way when I sent it to her. A lot of fucking hassle for a dollar cd plus 3.89 shipping and handling.

What you have in your collection will determine if you're get a fair price, but you'll have to deal with other sellers that will low ball you, unless you have The Left Banke There's Gonna Be A Storm in your collection, then you might get something from it. Supply and demand is the norm and get ready for disappointments

I had good luck with Amazon in the past about selling things and they do pay you, I think they paid me every week. But it's been three years since my last sale and basically I got tired of the low-ball sellers rendering some of my stuff down to the 3.89 shipping price Amazon paid for each CD sold, but Amazon doesn't go by what the Post office sells by. In the end, you won't get much for your stuff but at least you'll have a bit more room to move around if you're wanting more space at home.

Good luck and yes, I wish that eye candy was keeping me warm at night too. But that's not going to happen anytime soon. Cheers!
Hope this helps.

TAD said...

Thanks Crabby, your info did help. Still thinking it over....