Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 In Review

So here we are at the end of the year. If you have made it this far, congratulations!  You survived the year unlike Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Debby Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, Prince, Merle Haggard and on and on. This year we lost Billy Pinney and his dad James, Billy suffered a heart attack, James died from smoking too much.  Basically I haven't seen neither since the turn of the century and those relatives I don't have much to do with.  I simply lost track of Billy.  But losing Bruce Stanley in late August would set the tone for a somber rest of the year. And William Christopher was the last person to get on the 2016 death train. Father McCauley from MASH.

The year started off on the wrong foot right off the bat when Iowa got blown to bits by Stanford in The Rose Bowl, once again proving to the ESPN and the Colin Cowpisses of the world that Iowa didn't belong and when the football season came around it was looking that Iowa might not finish above 500, losing to North Dakota State and crappy Northwestern and getting blown to bits by Penn State before doing the unthinkable and upsetting mighty Michigan 14-13 and then shutting out Illinois and blowing out Nebraska to finish 8-4 and get a trip to Florida to play Florida in the Outback Bowl.  Arizona State on the other hand sucked and after starting out 5-1 would lose the rest of the games and for their effort had the all time worst defense in the NCAAs.  Key injuries didn't help on the offense but the defense was a fucking mess all season.  While Iowa got better during the season ASU got worse and worse.

The beginning of the year I predicted something special would happen and it the form of the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908, coming back down 3 games to 1 to win the 7th game in amazing style over the Cleveland Indians in perhaps the best all time World Series ever.  Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo had banner years, Dexter Fowler took a pay cut after the deal with Baltimore went sour and was part of the reason why the Cubs won it all.  Dan Ross, retired after the season and with Rizzo and Dexter appeared in Saturday Night Live.  Fowler would later sign with the St Louis Cardinals for next season and Adonis Chapman returned back to the Yankees with a big pay contract and proceeded to bitch about Joe Madden overused him in the world series.  He did have a point since he had nothing to show in the final two games but his 2 and 2/3 inning shutout in game five was his best pitching performance of the season.  Even though the price of borrowing Chapman trading an of a up and coming short stop, you cannot take away the title CHICAGO CUBS 2016 WORLD SERIES AND BASEBALL CHAMPIONS.  It's in the history books and I'm glad I got to see and hear it.

So the hope is that the Cubs can continue to return back to the world series and since the loss of Chapman and Fowler,  Wade Davis and John Jay have taken their place.  We'll see where 2017 will go.  On paper it still looks good.

Another surprise of the year was taking part in the World Naked Bike Ride day in Madison in June.  One of the most daring and off the wall thing that I have ever done, it was interesting of the fact of joining 150 other bike riders taking everything off and go riding around  downtown Madison in the early morning, peddling for about 7 miles and trying to shake off leg cramps towards the end.  But to my surprise I finished the bike race and after that, retreating back to the motel to rest for a couple hours and then do the bargain hunts around the usual thrift stores in Mad City. But if you look up WNBR Madison 2016, you might see the full birthday suit of myself for further proof. In Record World it's NSFW and a no no to post.

(Acousta Kitties in action)

Surprise number 2 was playing guitar and singing songs in front of a crowd for the first time in over a year and I'm amazed how everybody enjoyed the songs.  But at Checkers Tavern, the Acousta Kitties have been hosting the Acoustic Jam for over a year and they continue to draw a great support of regulars, to which I might be a part of if I didn't have a job.  Playing acoustic jams don't pay but when you get the crowd to sing along to Games People Play and Dead Flowers, it's priceless.  I hope to do more jams in 2017, weather and health permitting.  I also took part in many Popcorn Jams on Sundays and a few Parlor City Blues Jams on Tuesday and managed to play alongside some of the best talent in town.  We lost a couple jammers,  Tim Duffy moved to Georgia but in return Jason Christensen and Karl Hudson returned, Jason from Memphis and Karl from Florida.  Karl has continued to keep busy with jam sessions and playing in The Buzz and solo projects around the area.

For bargain hunts, I didn't venture outside of the comfort zone.  It was usually Davenport one week, Dubuque the next and it varied, I did go up to Madison twice this year, the WNBR weekend and then back there again in October.  I didn't go overboard on buying vinyl but I did find The Golliwogs Pre Creedence on LP and that record may have been the highlight of the year.  Runner up: Bobby Bare 500 Miles Away From Home, that record was part of my growing up years and my dad still has that record, in very scratched up condition.  Surprisingly, I did managed to find about 100 new 45s from various eras, mostly the pop or middle of the road including a bunch of oddball stuff at the Waterloo Stuff Etc stores, and Cliff Steward Coral stuff at the St Vincent De Paul in Waterloo, a very hit and miss store but sometimes I can score with some good finds if I knew when to go up there.  Even the Dubuque Goodwill had some choice 45s of the year.  No shortage of pawnshop cheap cds too. I just bought 8 of them for 1.88 apiece in town (Echoes-The Best Of Pink Floyd, Best of Kristy McColl, T.Rex, White Zombie and...ahem....Bob Dylan's Christmas In The Air to scare off anybody who comes calling around here.

The big news was the loss of Hastings Entertainment Stores when they got bought out by liquidators and they ended up closing all of the stores.  By November 1st, Hastings was history.  It was a shame, Hastings was the last great entertainment store that you can find cheap CDs and DVDs under a dollar and was a great place to hang around with the locals when I was in Kingman or Lake Havasu City or Bullhead City.  Say what you want about them, they did serve a purpose and now there's a great big void now that they're are gone.  The internet is fine but we all need to go somewhere on a Saturday Night.  And you can't beat a Hastings despite what people say about them.

In late September the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids reached the second highest crest ever, even more so than the 1993 flood but people kicked in efforts to save the town and sandbagged and picked up and packed up everything in the flood prone areas.  Not everybody stayed dry.  While New Bo was fairly dry, the folks at Tornado's Pub had to sand bag themselves from a 5 foot flood river since the makeshift flood wall was built in front of their building and places like The Kickstand and the Mad Modern Art place had to endure flooding in their building.  However, once the flood crested, Tornados was open a week later and The Kickstand two weeks later.  And Parlor City was hosting jams three weeks later.  Unlike 2008 Cedar Rapids rebounded but the big difference was that the river runoff came all the upstream and we didn't have the flooding 10 inch rainfalls of 2008.  Plus it happened in the fall when we didn't have much rain to contend with.  We got lucky but we all came together to support one another.  And watched as Ron Corbett took credit for that as he considers running for Governor in a couple years.  It never ends.  But we also got our first record store in town too, Analog Vault opened up in New Bo in October and seems to be doing well.

In October I finally kicked the cable TV and have not watched much TV in the past three months.  I had to go Wrigleyville Bar in Marion to watch the Cubs win the Series or listen to them on the radio as well as the Hawks but I have to find that I can live without the crap reality shows or for that matter those annoying Big Pharma Drug commercials and the damned E.D. crap that is now part of sports. Four hour erection ain't going help me anyway.  I get by watching DVDs of quality shows I grew up watching and will be content that way.

This month saw the biggest reader viewership this year with me going over 12,000 views.  I'm guessing mostly phantom readership although Blogger spam is 99.9 percent of comments.  And none that add to any of the blogs that the spammer blogger has posted to.  Which is why I have things awaiting approval.   But those who continue to read, I thank you for your patronage.   And while 2017 will continue on with the usual rant and ravings and music news and views and, there's no getting around that, deaths.  Cause people will die and we'll continue to lose people of all statue.  But what awaits us all is the forthcoming year of President Failed Reality Star and, worse, the GOP controlled everything, which is slated to set this country back 60 years ago.  Seeing Obama leave after 8 years, I honestly say I hate to see him go, despite a do nothing and obstructing congress, he did managed to do a few good things.  Like stopping the Dakota Pipe Line to which the Indian Nation stood up for clean water and not another leaking pipeline. We cannot afford to see our water supply poisoned by oil, which has happened time and time again.  The question remains is the President Failed Reality Star who continues to use Twitter for his saber rattling and continue to bitch about Saturday Night Live making fun of him.   Despite not having the popular vote, the Electoral voted him in regardless.  Hillary may have run the popular vote, President FRS won in the states with the most electoral votes.  I'm not certain what the GOP will have in store rather than their being bought out by the lobbyists and Big Oil and Big Pharma, but if this is the beginning of the end times, we can hope that Jesus will come and save this world from further destruction.  Or perhaps have a meteor score a direct hit on the planet and have everything start all over again.   The election this year was a farce from the word go and if The Democrats slit their own throat by sabotaging Bernie Sanders and keeping Debbie Wasserman Schutz through the whole ordeal then that's the reason why they lost.  But then again it's hard to tell the real news from the fake, certainly the major networks didn't provide much relief in between their fucking drug commercials and Hilary's emails.   In the end it didn't matter anyway, the bad guys all won, from Ron (Snake in the grass) Johnson to Congressman for life Chuck Grassley and joker Steve King.  Oh I voted, but the wrong fucks won anyway.  It is what it is. And not worth bitching about anyway.

So basically for a wrap up, there's not much to be said or done.  I'm completed 15 years of blogging things from music to sports to rant and ravings and once in a while I strike a chord with forgotten bands or a tribute to friend taken from this world.  It's a hit and miss and I can see why people give up, half of my readings are now from folks who moved on back to real life.  The Best of 2016, it's nice to give credit to bands that wouldn't be known at SPIN or Rolling Stone, it's hard to keep up with the Best lists out there, I just choose the ones that make the most sense.  Pitchfork will have theirs  Robin Hilton of NPR has hers and neither has any of my favorites.  I think I'm more inclined to play Mike Eldred Trio's Baptist Town more than Metallica's latest, which got good reviews but I've outgrown them.  Or in Hilton's case I'll stick with Wooden Nickel Lottery or Tommy Bruner than Beyonce or Kanye Autotuned Chipmunk West or what's on KISS country.  The hope is that Bro Country is on the way out and the women continue to kick the guys' ass in terms of memorable country music but I wasn't a fan of Miranda Lambert's effort.  Perhaps Cam's time is gone too, her latest album, has three used copies at half price books.  Likewise Steven Tyler's failed country attempt or Aaron Lewis for that matter, although Lewis has his heart in the right place but I think his daughter might have a better go at it since she was involved on the best song on Aaron's album.

While I insist that next year I won't partake in any more new albums, the logic is that I'll will find something to listen to.  There will be bargain hunts in the future, more 45s to come across, more jams to play at and life will go on, unless it's our time to leave this world.  Which I don't see happening anytime soon, remember the more you bitch, the longer God lets you live so I'm here for another 517 years.  Certainly more trips to Davenport, Dubuque, Waterloo, places I'm comfortable of going.  And of course Madison although returning to do WNBR Madison in 2017 is probably out of the question.  But I did find my Tazmainan Devil Silk Boxes and just cover up. Biking naked is one thing I can cross off my bucket (fuck it) list.

But I have grown tired of the usual blogging of the week in review and most of the time, I'm using the backspace key more than any others and good thing the spellchecker comes up.  With 12,000 views this month, I'm encouraged to consider keeping this going.  But I am slowing down as you can tell, I've only done 89 blogs this year, I've been posting things under The Townedgers blog which might explain the reason for the decline but I'm more interested of doing a diary of the jams and recording projects since they are dear to my heart.  But I fight the keyboard to get my thoughts down pat even for Record Review.  For something that doesn't pay at all, I tend to waste more time doing this, but it's nice to look at the archives and remember the time and places that I was at or what was happening. Too bad that Groove Sandwich or Trucker Kitty didn't keep theirs up,  they really had some cool stories to go with, but I can also why they pulled the plug.  When it's time consuming and the returns aren't there, it's best to say you did your best and move on. But in the end, I did end up with over 12,500 views.  Historic in views but doubt if we'll have that many in the incoming months.

And life will go on.  If things interest me enough, there'll be something documented, or if I unearth a cool collection of 45s, Singles Going Steady will return.  Forgotten bands? Sure why not?  ICON? Everybody likes to read them.  Bargain hunts?  For my own amusement I guess.  And for you dear reader who read this far, thanks for your support.  I've come a long way from The Yardbird's Roost on to the fucked up My Space years (Both MSN and My Space deleted a lot of classic blogs from 2002 to 2008 although I did save a bunch for the 2009 term of theory I should have gone with Blogspot sooner 2006) and Multiply (which lost key blogs including the Neil Young ICON Blog).  Could have gone with Wordpress but Blogger/Blogspot has been very good to me, despite the spam comments.   However, I do hope 2017 is a much better year, while it was great to see the Chicago Cubs win it all, losing Hastings and many good friends and musicians turned this year into a bittersweet sort of thing.  

And I wish everybody a blessed 2017.  Keep rocking.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Week In Review: George Micheal, Carrie Fisher etc.

Even this late in the year the passings continue.  George Michael, famed for Wham! and his album Faith passed away on Christmas Day from heart failure, he was 53.  Death has been everywhere this year and really have thinned the musicians out there, beginning with David Bowie and now Michael. I wasn't a big fan and so be it, but I do find Wham! I'm Your Man to be a guilty pleasure listening more than Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and Faith had a nice collection of different songs from I Want Your Sex to the rockabilly title track.

Carrie Fisher en route to L.A. suffered a heart attack and never recovered, passing away early Tuesday Morning, she was 60.  Fisher also best known for playing in Star Wars but I loved her as the crazy person trying to kill The Blues Brothers and posting a autobiography called Postcards From The Edge, to which I stole the title to name an album that I did back in 1988.   She was married to Paul Simon which had its ups and downs before they called it a day.  In essence, her work is done on this planet.  She will be missed.  And then the next day her mom Debbie Reynolds joined her in the afterlife, she suffered a stroke but in essence she died of a broken heart.  She was 84.

Getting to football, The San Diego Chargers may as well be dead,  Josh Lambo, had one field goal blocked and another went wide right and Cleveland won their first game of the year.  While Lambo gets the blame for the loss,  Phillip "Fumbles and Interceptions" Rivers is now turned the ball over 19 times this season, and basically he might be replacing Dan Fouts in all time passing and so forth, he remains one of the annoying quarterbacks for the Chargers and after 12 years this year has been his most disappointing.  He couldn't rally the Chargers to beat the Raiders and then his kicker let him down.  But in all fairness the Chargers have blown 6 games with leads.  They may as fire Mike McCoy, they may as well give Rivers his walking papers and start anew once they move it up to Los Angeles.   Had they held the leads they could be challenging Kansas City and Oakland for the top spot but then again, when they blew a 24 point lead in Kansas City this season, it was of things to come.  And not for the better.  Basically the below picture will leave the legacy of Phillip Rivers to be a whiner.  He should apply for a job as a baker, he does make a lot of turnovers.....

I think she can play better QB than Rivers.  This week's eye candy...cuz we need something to cheer us up.

For Christmas here, we went from 2 below last Sunday to 40 degrees and rain and clouds most of the day with the usual dumb fucks driving NASCAR speeds on icy covered roads.  I remember of Christmas past, of 1999 when Olivia came down to visit us from Oregon and ended up getting phenomena for 3 months afterwards.  Then two winters of Nicole (2010, the coldest Christmas it seems and we drove in the old Purple Corsica which kept having a flat tire and on New Years Day looking for a place with air to fill the damn tire up, and 2011).  Alas Nicole was the last to see our family, The Bickersons in action and usually new potential dates are scared away after the first meeting.  Last year was a disaster but this year, there were no blowups, everybody got along fine and Santa was very good to me.   Hopefully all of us will be back next Christmas.   And you too as well.

My good friend Mark didn't have a good Christmas flight, on the way to CR, his plane had mechanical trouble  and then flew back to Kansas City of all places.  What should have been a four flight turned out to a day and an half.  Mark didn't get here till 4 AM and still to wait for a rental car place to open up at 6 to get a car.  And that's one of the reasons why I don't fly in the wintertime.  Actually I don't fly at all anymore.  Too much bullshit to deal with and it usually starts with the TSA.

(Photo: AP)

As we wind down this year, the uncertainly of next year will be on the horizon, the 45th President of the USA, the Failed Reality Star and of course the GOP in control of everything.   Already gas prices have gone up from 1.89 to 2.25 in the three weeks and it's not even springtime.  It wouldn't surprise me to see the return of 3 dollar a gallon gas by summertime with the usual bullshit excuses of the raises, OPEC, leaky oil polluting the water supply.  Perhaps the people who died in 2016 made the right choice of exiting here before the Failed Reality Star becomes the POTUS.  He certainly can't keep off Twitter.  Will things change around?  Probably, as prices continue to rise but no businesses want to pay anybody 15 dollars an hour.  Things go up, gas, electric, insurance, HEALTH insurance, food etc etc.   But there's so much fake news out there, it's hard to tell what's the truth and what is bullshit.  In the meanwhile some of the Rockettes don't want to partake into the gala presidential celebration of the failed reality star on Jan 20.  The guess is that Mike Love's Beach Boys will have the honors, but I'm surprised Ted Nugent wasn't asked to do that, nor Charlie Daniels.

A retraction to a blog, Neil Young's Peace Trail did pop on the Billboard Chart at number 75 last week and then dropped out of the top 200 the next week.  I thought the record was good enough to be included in my top 20 best of 2016 and still think it's a decent listen.  But if Neil Young would take the time to develop the songs rather than toss them out he still might have a album for the ages, like After The Gold Rush or Rust Never Sleeps.  Perhaps he should take a breather before issuing a new album next year to you know he will.  Perhaps people are getting burned out of his music or just don't care. I still do. 

I guess that's all the news and happenings for now.  Tune in next time for 2016, the year in review.  It should be a hit.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016

As the final shoppers continue to invade the local stores before Christmas and as we continue to celebrate the pagan holiday of hearing 10 different versions of Holly Jolly Christmas and Have Yourself  A Merry Little Christmas It's basically a time to reflect on making it to this holiday.  And this year we lost many people.  Just last night we lost another rock and roller in Rick Parfitt, longtime player in The Status Quo, Britian's long time boogie band.  To which I think also puts an end to that band.  50 years ago, The Quo came into the scene and gave us Pictures Of Matchstick Men.  Then The Quo went for Bee Gees power poppers to boogie sonic masters with their early 70s albums Piledriver, Quo and On The Level.  They almost called it quits till Bob Geldorf asked them to open up Live Aid.  The Quo continued on.

Each year Christmas becomes less and less interesting for me.  I don't have children or grandkids and the spirit of gift giving to those kids are just a dream.   And getting older, I really get less interested of checking out band gigs.  I thought I would have an early Friday Night off to look up Karl Hudson and The Buzz but by the time I left, I was too tired to pay him a visit.  But I need to show up at his gigs just to support his band efforts.  The man moved back here from Florida to frigid Iowa and playing to a crowd of 10 people in a bar which somebody would steal one of his microphones, gives good cause that maybe he should have stayed in Florida.  The weather is a hell of a lot nicer there.

I finally sat down to listen to Bob Dylan's Christmas In The Heart CD and come to find it's actually quite listenable, in fact I prefer his Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas over anybody else. I like Christmas Blues and the polka flavored Must Be Santa.  It's product but it's like Christmas With The Townedgers, nothing to get too overly excited about but it is sung from the heart, despite Dylan's wheeze like vocal.  A B grade and a wink . Christgau's take:

Christmas in the Heart [Columbia, 2009]
Funnier than the Chipmunks, give him that ("Must Be Santa," "Winter Wonderland"). * B-

Here in Record World, life is great judging by the ratings.  Over 10,000 for the first time ever, seems like I'm getting more readers looking at the archives and giving hope that this is not a lost cause.  But in the circle of life,  things happened along the way.  Getting back into the music scene and playing more often, recording with The Townedgers and try to balance work with tasks around the house, this place needs an overall or a big ole dump outside to throw things out.  And next year I need to really get rid of this leaning tower of pisa entertainment center for a more sturdier one.  This place is not looking any better than the abandoned school house down the road.   Music continues onward and so does life.  Perhaps five years ago I should have heeded my advice and paid more attention to my love interest rather than post 10 to 15 blogs in social media  talking about it.  Social media is a blessing and an curse and you have to balance out the good and the bad and see if it's worth keeping, your special someone or a blogging hobby.  In the meantime, that special someone now has a new special somebody and is happy about it, and I still have this blog and this subversive life style of social media and music junkie.   I like to think next year to have a special somebody to celebrate Christmas with but as history as shown that will not happen.   Who knows, maybe next year Record World will have 20,000 readers.   And the same 2 followers, which I thank you for your support.

Despite 45 degrees temps and a cold rain, this will be our first white Christmas in three years.  Since December we have had a snowstorm every weekend, last weekend was 2 inches of blowing and drifting snow and  -4 daytime temps.   Which in essence is our typical winter weather in Christmas.  We just been spoiled by two Brown Christmases in passing years. But I don't think the weather isn't as frightful as it seems as we have to deal with dumbass drivers in SUVs or big pickup trucks driving NASCAR speed down the ice slicked highways and by ways with no regard with anything in their way.  Or washing your car off only to be stuck behind the sand and salt trucks trying to do their jobs and I picked the wrong time or road.  And more bad drivers.  Even with two or three cars stuck off the road doesn't deter the texting idiots driving with their knees or Bubba Trump plowing through at 80 MPH.   I like life, but I hate people, especially the ones that do such crap as mentioned above.  This world isn't coming together but rather splitting apart. And judging by the elections this year it does seem we are at the end times.

But everybody has family and everybody has their own agenda. And even to the Texting dudes and dudettes and Bubba Speeder we'll warrant a Merry Christmas to them as well.  Just don't try to kill somebody on their destination too.

(photo: Ivy)

And to the rest of us naughty or nice or both.  Happy Holidays as well.  In terms of naughty I'll take Ivy Doomkitty under my tree any Christmas.

Or another drum set.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Week In Review: TE Radio 25, Ellis Kell, Blue Band 35, LA Chargers, Rock and Roll HOF 2016

Zsa Zsa Gabor passed away, she was 99.

But the the bigger news around here was Ellis Kell losing his battle with cancer at age 62.  Kell is a Quad Cities legendary  rock and roller who with the Ellis Kell Band opened up many a headliner act in the Davenport area in the late 70s and early 80s.  Kell also started the RME experience, encouraging many people to take up playing music. Sean Leary writes a nice piece on the Q C Legend.


With the death of Arnie Erickson the Music Loft, one of the last of the original music stores in Cedar Rapids will be closing their doors at the end of 2016.  Craig Erickson continues to teach guitar and play his music around the area.  I do admit I haven't talked to Craig all that much, our paths rarely cross on the jam circuit but in the early 1980s I did buy drum stuff from them, I think they were the only place in town that sold Camber Cymbals.  Starter cymbals of course, but I bought my first 4 track recorder from Craig in 1989.  So basically Craig is responsible for The Townedgers music sound although we didn't know how to work it for about 2 years. 

On December 9th, I gotten word that Rex Glasgow left this world, he was 59.  He'll be forever known as the DJ up at Super Skate in the late 70s and early 80s best known for saying ALL SKATE after slow skate songs.  Rex was a big part of my growing up years in town and he will be missed greatly.

Longtime KRNA programmer and DJ Greg "Shark" Scharnau passed away Tuesday from a long bout with cancer he was 49.  Greg also worked for KDAT and KCRG before moving over to KRNA and hanging there for 14 years.  A career as they say in radio.

Since living without TV, you probably have noticed not much in terms of sports anymore.  I lost interest in the NFL and watching the follies that is the soon to be history San Diego Chargers, blowing their sixth game of having a lead and getting swept again by the Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders 19-16, in front of a crowd that had more Raiders fans than Chargers.  San Diego folk, tired of Alex and Dean Spanos jibber jabbing of wanting a new stadium and basically will more back to Los Angeles for the first time in 56 seasons.  L.A. can have them.  It's pathetic to see Phillip (Mr. INT) Rivers trying to rally a team only to get knocked down or throwing errant passes to which Oakland would intercept  and run the clock out.  Granted Rivers' receivers are not high caliber, but rather rookies and glass handed WRs who would drop balls and run the wrong way.  For 12 seasons I have seen Rivers fail more than win, perhaps that's bestowed on the Spanos family who can never find any sort of coaches or general managers worth a shit, and had to watch former QBs like the hated Eli Manning and odd man out Drew Brees win Super Bowls while the Chargers spin their wheels.  I enjoyed the Dan Fouts era, and rooted for Brees as he did his damnest to get the team to the playoffs but basically former worthless GM Ass Jack Smith mailed him off to New Orleans.   I wouldn't say Rivers is as worthless as first round flop Ryan Leaf but Phillip has been my least favorite Charger.  Still, Rivers's time as a Charger could be nearing at an end, it's once again rebuilding time and perhaps a change of scenery means a change in coaches.  Mike McCoy simply doesn't have it.   56 years ago the Chargers did have a very good team but they couldn't draw flies at the Colosseum.

So instead of seeing another Rivers disappointment, lets' have another archival picture of a Chargers RB Paul Lowe playing  in front of 55 people on a late autumn afternoon, in LA.   Chances are better that the newly return L A Chargers will have better crowds, but the 1960 team could probably take out the 2016 Chargers any day of the week.   I'm tired talking about this already, moving on.

Are people sick of Neil Young?  Judging by the buyer's remorse and indifference  it seems that way.  After a poor showing in the lower 200 for Earth, his new album Peace Trail didn't even chart at all.  Since the passing of David Briggs, the man that made Neil's albums classics, Young tends to throw things together, to see if things stick.  Sometimes it works (Chrome Dreams 2, Greendale) sometimes it's an inflated mess (Storyville, The Monsanto Years) and once in a while it don't work (Are You Passionate?), but Neil always had enough in him to keep me interested and pony up dollars for his next efforts.  He's made five albums in the past three years and people might be overwhelmed by his vast catalog.  Earth was an interesting concept live album and if he didn't go an almost full 30 minutes on Love And Only Love perhaps the world might have taken to that album better.  But Neil Young continues to blaze his own trail and even if his failures are out there (Arc), he demands the full listener's attention although common folk would have stalled after 5 minutes of Love And Only Love Earth Version.  You're not going to get another Harvest or Harvest Moon, nor Ragged Glory., and even with the no chart showing of Peace Trail, Neil could interest the buyers with a standalone CD release, it seems better than most of his 2010's output.  I do like Peace Trail, raggedness and all and fuzz tone harmonica and it is a decent protest album of the 2010s, Neil standing with the Indians on the the pipeline issue, it's his best album (to me) since Living With War.  Neil has partnered up with John Hanlon, who was around when Briggs was alive, but in reality, it's Neil producing the whole thing and John recording it.  David Briggs would have found a way to make it a classic album and his loss really has changed Neil's albums over the years, they vary from so so to good to sometimes very good but never really elevated to classic status.  But I'm sure Neil is back in the studio with a new set of songs done his way and 2017 you will hear from Neil Young, whether you like it or not.  I do.

And now the big news of the Jann Wanner Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductees.  A bit more rocking and rolling with the usual Wanner favorites thrown in there.  I'll put them in the order of importance for me.

Yes-For many years, many folks wanted Wanner to induct Yes into the HOF for their inventive prog rock, but it took Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman to replace Tony Banks and Tony Kaye, not that both Banks and Kaye were bad but Howe gave a little more something to The Yes Album and Wakeman on Fragile. Basically lineups came and gone, the one constant was Chris Squire, who is now dead and won't be able to enjoy the festivities.  Yes was revised a few times, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes came on board in 1980 with Drama and then Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye with Jon Anderson joined Squire and Alan White for 90125 which gave Yes a more pop sound, the inescapable Owner Of  A Lonely Heart and the prog pop of Changes.   Big Generator and Talk continued this sort of sound before the band brought back Steve Howe and they still made classic albums 1999's The Ladder, which was Bruce Fairbairn's finest hour before he passed away.  Magnification, basically the final Yes studio album was still enjoyable, and the band came full circle when Trevor Horn produced Fly From Home, to which at that point Jon Anderson was replaced by a soundalike.  They're in the twilight of their career but with Squire gone, they're an official tribute band.

Journey-The fans spoke up and voted them in, otherwise they'd be on the outside looking in.  Basically a knockoff of former Santana members Greg Rolie and Neil Schon hooking with Ross Valory and Ansley Dunbar (don't forget George Tickner) and making three albums of varying jam rock degree although Look Into The Future hinted at prog rock too.  Rolie's vocals not standing out the first three albums do have some good music in them but with Steve Perry joining up for Infinity, their sound changed overnight with massive hits like Wheel In The Sky and Lights.  Dunbar either got fired or left and Steve Smith (Ronnie Montrose) played drums and the classic lineup was then made with albums like Evolution and Departure.  Jonathan Cain (The Babys) replaced Rolie and Escape rewrote the book on arena rock and it sold a ton with their signature song Don't Stop Belevelin.  By then I begin to lose interest as it became the Steve Perry Band and later albums sounding more desperate than inspired.  Journey imploded in 1989 but reunited on the Trial By Fire album and Neil Schon continues to lead that band with a Steve Perry soundalike on vocals.  Steve Smith has rejoined them on occasion too.

ELO-Another hit making machine of the 70s overlooked for many years, Jeff Lynne owns a share of classic rock radio with hits like Don't Bring Me Down, Evil Woman, Turn To Stone and Rock and Roll Is King.  Originally an offshoot of The Move, the eccentric Roy Wood plays on the first album No Answer, this was Lynne's band all along the way, and in 1973 Lynne decided to cross Beethoven's 9th with Chuck Berry on Roll Over Beethoven.  The Best of ELO (the updated one) has all the hits but I tend to be partial to 1979's Discovery and 2001's Zoom to which Lynne put under the ELO banner rather than his own name.  Lynne has produced Dave Edmunds, Joe Walsh, Del Shannon and Tom Petty over the years as well as taking part of the Traveling Wilburys.

Pearl Jam-The band we thought that would implode first in the grunge years has been the longest lasting band from the Seattle scene and Eddie Vedder has branched out into other things and being one of the biggest Chicago Cubs fans out there, taking part of them winning the world series by recording a new song.  Their early albums, Ten, Vs, and Vitalogy are reasons why they are in the hall of fame but keeping Dave Abuzzesee and Jack Irons out of the inductions is blasphemy, Dave's power beats ARE why Pearl Jam is in the hall of fame.   Originally the guys were once part of Mother Love Bone, to which when Andrew Wood OD in 1989, 1990, the band would reform under various jams and getting Eddie Vedder.   Matt Cameron plays drums for Pearl Jam and keeps a tight beat but to me Dave Abbuzzesee was the Keith Moon to Matt's Charlie Watts.

Nile Rodgers-Since Chic wasn't getting in, Wanner decided to nominate Nile for his production and guitar playing skills.  Nile has produced the likes of Madonna but also Stevie Ray Vaughn and Ric Ocasek.

Joan Baez-Legendary folk singer who best years were with Vanguard and had a hit with The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and hung out with Bob Dylan a lot.   Later years with A and M had Diamonds And Dust as a top 20 hit  too.

Tupac Shakur-20 years ago after his killing, Tupac makes the HOF. The sixth rapper to do so.   Not rock and roll but with his gangsta style rapping, it's rock attitude.

(Photo: The Blue Band)

So far, December has been a bitch with cold weather and snowstorms every weekend.  The 25 below windchill canceled a few shows and killed my Corsica's starter but Redd started up.  It made jamming quite easy, since hardly anybody showed up and on Tuesday Night I finally got to share the stage with Bob Dorr and Jeff Petersen of the legendary Blue Band up at Parlor City and managed to do six songs with Tim Giblin host and arranger.  The Blue Band has been around for 35 years now, with a New Year's Eve Gig at the Artisan Sanctuary in Czech Village.   Bob is best known for KUNI Back Tracks which is still on Saturday Afternoon and he still has a wide range of musical  knowledge, even wailing away on I'm A Man, and helping Jeff Petersen singing to Four In The Morning and Move It On Over.   Even with the wild drummer taking a break from work to play, we had a few girls dancing to Rockin My Life Away.  Special thanks to Bob for letting me play his drums.

And now the ratings game.  We are in uncharted territory, over 9,000 views so far this month. Not exactly sure why the sudden boom in interest, but with 10 days left Record World might reach an zenith, 10,000 views.  Which means the peaks and valleys will be huge, kinda like Mt Everest one month, and lower than Death Valley the next.  I have had many other things going on that kinda kept me blogging here than I used to in the past.  I still have to come up with the review of this year, and the events that happened.  I have noticed that the spam blogger comments have spiked big time, which is the drawback of more readership here.   Once in a while we'll get a real comment about music or the eye candy shots, but in the battle of Coke Vs Pepsi, I prefer root beer, or sweet tea from a place that can make good tasting tea.  And judging for the shoddy quality of tea at Kum N Go and Hardees, Florida Georgia Line makes better music.  And that's saying how bad sweet tea is around these places.  Half the time I want to go up to somebody at Kum N Go and say, geez you might be able to taste some tea among the 10 gallons of sugar used in a 32 Oz cup.  And since you requested this Tad, here's the dream date girl of the month, introducing this week's edition of Record Reviews.

Bette Midler-It's The Girls (East West/WB 2014)

Her first album in 8 years and she pays tribute to the Girls sound, be it The Chordettes, Andrew Sisters, Motown, 60s Girls Group and even TLC.  Basically done for fun, Midler loves the songs enough to play them like the record did, although she makes Waterfalls a ballad without the rapping.  Midler is enjoyable when she does the songs right, she rarely over sings, and her add libbing on Too Many Fish In The Sea and Give Him A Great Big Kiss (Muah) made me break out in a smile, and with a wink and a nod to "the girls" (guess which ones?)  Previous reviews complains of over production but I don't hear it on this, sometimes a bit too much drum boasting from JR Robinson but that's nit picking.  The country arrangement of You Can't Hurry Love may not fit the song but that's nit picking as well.  Midler is excellent at ballads, (Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow) and revisits her swing songs with conviction (It's The Girl), and still has one of the sweetest vocals in her later years. And still looks like good eye candy too.  An overlooked feel good album of the 2010s.
Grade B+

Will Bradley Featuring Ray McKinley-It's Square But It Rocks (Hep UK 2002)

In the swing era, Bradley is overlooked and forgotten which is a shame.  Bradley's band offered equal parts of Boogie Woogie to their Big Band Swing and Ray McKinley could hold his own with Gene Krupa or Chick Webb or Cozy Cole on drums.  This is the second compilation on Hep, the better known songs are on volume 1 (Down A Road Apiece anybody?), which since I have the Columbia Best Of The Big Bands CD of Bradley/McKinley I don't really need volume 1.  First part is mostly big band balladry, not bad, but it is the boogie swing that I'm more interested in and it does feature Beat Me Daddy Eight To The Bar in all of its 5 minute glory and the lesser interesting Scrub Me Momma with a Boogie Beat.  And they had a rocking piano player in Freddie Slack too.  Next to Louie Jordan Will Bradley does figure in early rock and roll, but they call it boogie instead.
Grade A-

Jose Feliciano-Encore! (Wounded Bird/RCA 2010)

Among the Wounded Bird cutouts at Half Price Books is Jose finest moments at RCA, but I find it tedious.  Hit single Light My Fire managed to revamp The Doors big hit and sets the pattern for later singles, starts out softly, then Jose gets caught up and goes all over the place.  Gotta love his rapid fire light my fire barrage of the final fadeout and the single version is better.  Susie Q, Jose gets creepy and it turns out to be more of a forgotten fart of a song than say Hi Heel Sneakers.  Pegao, sounds like Jose redoing Classical Gas and he keeps Wichita Lineman as a instrumental, before he goes over the edge on wrecking California Dreaming.  Joe Cocker has the better version of Hitchcock Railway, but Jose's isn't that bad.  If you're interested in the cross pop of the late 60s and decent Spanish guitar playing it's worth a listen but you can live without it.  Missing in action: Feliz Navidad, that Yule time classic song you hear every hour on the hour on the Christmas channel and probably Jose's finest moment.  But the single version of Light My Fire is required listening, it's better than Tiny Tim's Tip Toe Through The Tulips.
Grade B

Brass Transit (Self Released 1998)

Now here's something that wasn't part of the grunge or Nu Metal garbage of the 1990s.  A local ensemble of 11 guys and more horn players than Chicago had at that time.  I have no qualms about bands trying to recapture the horn sounds of Chicago or Blood Sweat And Tears and at times they have funky sound that starts the record out jumping on Try To Decide or the goofy Hey El Nino.  But as the record progresses onward, they then start mining into Lighthouse territory or even Chase, both bands of that era capable of making great singles (One Fine Morning for Lighthouse, Get It On for Chase) but then stacking their albums with subpar ballads or half assed R and B.  While I credit them for being original, perhaps they should have sneaked in a cover song from EWF or Ides Of March, they have done a wild Vehicle cover in their concerts.   Brass Transit continues to dazzle people in concerts 18 years after the fact but this record never really cooks, as they say. A slow simmer actually.

Grade C+  

Robert Christgau:

Buddy Guy: Born to Play Guitar (Silvertone) At 79, last Chicago  blues master standing nabs cameos, nails songs by his Berklee-trained drummer, survives the Muscle Shoals Horns, and claims his birthright yet again ("Come Back Muddy," "Kiss Me Quick") **

David Bromberg: The Blues, the Whole Blues, and Nothing but the Blues (Red House) In the year the Rolling Stones capitalized their franchise on the cheap by mining the blues of their youth, who'd have guessed they'd get smoked by this equally ancient folk muso? Yet it's no contest. Where the one remake Mick and the boys shine up a little is Little Johnny Taylor's near-soul 1971 "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing," Bromberg leads a livelier band through a set that kills the same the-postman-told-me shtick. Prone as a young hippie to the fallacy that blues was a music of old men on porches, now he digs into these lyrics as the sexually insecure cuckold he can evoke as Sonny Boy Williamson and Bobby Bland could not, adding a nerdy comedy routine to Bessie Smith's "You've Been a Good Ole Wagon" and showcasing the belated debut of the pathetic "How Come My Bulldog Don't Bark When You Come 'Round," which he learned long ago from a lead sheet whose composer was too embarrassed to put his name on it. In real life, meanwhile, Bromberg has long been married to musician Nancy Josephson. They own a violin store in Wilmington, Delaware, where she's made a name for herself creating vodou-influenced beaded objects in a nearby studio. Ain't love grand? And let's hear it for art, too. A MINUS

Happy Holidays!

Townedger Radio 25-The Best Of 2016 Playlist (On Lucky Star Radio 12/22/16)

You Want It Darker-Leonard Cohen
My Sweet Charade-Tommy Bruner
Can't Be Wrong-Wooden Nickel Lottery
Wonderful Crazy Night-Elton John
Young Man Blues-Mose Allison
Old Man From The Mountain-Merle Haggard
Love 99-The Townedgers
Waiting For The Thunder-Blackberry Smoke
Bad Motor Scooter-Paraphernalia Tyrus
Shake It Baby-Texas Hippie Coalition
Sugar Shake-Mike Eldred Trio
You Wouldn't Know Me-Miranda Lambert
Ramon Casiano-Drive By Truckers
Young Blood-Green Day
Frogman-Whiskey Myers
The Moon Upstairs-Mott The Hoople


Monday, December 19, 2016

Ragged Records

The original post got deleted by Blogspot.  It came from 2013 and was about me discovering Ragged Records.  Or maybe it didn't:

 KWQC Photo

Bob Herrington continues to run the store and Ragged remains one of the best places to find music.  Since the text of the blog is gone forever, I did managed to keep the pictures.   Ragged is worthy of keeping up on the local music scene as well.  I have found some hard to find CDs and 45s in my three years of going to Ragged Records.

Keep up the good work Bob!

Best of 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Best Of 2016 In Music

So here is your reward for making this month the most read ever  And if fate has any thing to do with this, this could  be the most viewed of all time for readership.  But then again, while it's been a nice month and having everybody check out the archives, it really has not  changed my view of the future of Record World, unless this get 10,000 views then yeah we'll see about continuing this online rag of records and bargain hunts and seeing who passed away.

These ten best albums of 2016 will not figure in the major mags, the SPIN, NME, Rolling Stone who touts pop tarts or modern anger rock.  I can't tell you any of the names of the  bands that Rock 108 plays, if I listen to the radio, it's brief snippets of classic rock KRNA and KKRQ, the Fox.  I applaud KRNA for going back to classic rock and bringing some lesser known songs to the list but most of them are the usual Back In Black, Guns N Roses, Boston stuff we have heard for going on 30 years now.  This sort of disdain has not made me offer myself to the Hair Ball tribute bands around town.  They're good at Guns N Roses than me and why even be in a band that plays Hair Ball type of metal. I may as well stay at my better paying night job then.

Like the previous years, the best of 2016 selections will probably fade in time, certain albums will lose their luster, and most if not all will not be remembered by rock radio, no matter how much the press touted David Bowie and Leonard Cohen's latest albums before both of them passed away.  And let's face it, the major labels make no effort to promote real music anymore, just set the latest winner from The Voice with autotuner and process beats, watch it flop and then declare a tax loss.  The way it has been since the days of Al Jolson or Blind Blake.   However for the dinosaur bands of the old classic rock and roll era, some did put out albums and some were even very good enough to be listened to more than three times.   Once The Rolling Stones, blues album get out of the way, nobody is going to remember it as well, nor Cheap Trick although I found their latest album was fairly good, however Bun E Carlos' album was much more fun and while both do cancel each other out, I find myself playing Bunzerala a lot more than Cheap Trick's latest.  The Monkees, 50 years ago, put out their first album and this year they return with Good Times, which might be their last album since they put out albums every other decade or so,  the comebacks of 1986 and 1996 flopped big time, Heart And Soul lacked Mike Nesmith and subpar production and songs, and Justus took itself way too seriously, but Good Times, did make the top ten of the year for that good time feeling that The Monkees made us with Last Train To Clarksville or Pleasant Valley Sunday and damned if they didn't get good songs like She Makes Me Laugh and You Bring The Summer.   I also thought that Foghat's Under The Influence was better than The Stones' Blue And Lonesome, it's not rocket science to do what Foghat does, blues boogie rock and roll and be damned with the comment that without Lonesome Dave and Rod Price they're nothing, Roger Earl still has Bryan Bassett and Charlie Hahn and on occasion Kim Simmonds helping out.  And it was a better album than their blues based Last Train Home years ago.

For reissues, the major labels managed to issue big box sets from Bob Dylans 1966 Tour and The Who My Generation had five (Count em) CDs to try to entice you to spend big bucks to hear alt takes of My Generation or The Kids Are Alright or Pete Townsend's demos.  The hell with that, so we sat and waited to see what Sundazed or better year Real Gone Music had for music and for off the wall forgotten LPs, Real Gone and Gordon Anderson continues to find the stuff the majors wouldn't release.  Which is how we finally got that definite Porter Wagoner all time best of.   But I think outside of The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl and Porter, most reissues were busts.

In the long run, the best albums came from local bands and bands under independent labels, the lesser known, the better.  Which is how King Buffalo came to my attention, from Twitter and being friends long enough to discover their first album, the best damn heavy blues album in thirty plus years, part stoner, part Magnum, part Sabbath and Hawkwind and part Quaalude and Boone's Farm.   This year, Tommy Bruner and Wooden Nickel Lottery, local favorites here, came back with better Sophomore albums, both artist and band did place their album in last years best of.  Nothing against the latest Eric Clapton, but Tommy Bruner's Camping With Wi Fi was more inspired and almost recorded to perfection and Tommy's out there working on completing his next album for next year. For WNL, Down The Line, continues their blues rock with a Little Feat shuffle, but a bit more looser and one take feel.   And sometimes that's the way to go and perhaps a blues label (Ruf Records) could take a chance on WNL but that band is quite happy living in the shadow of the world on the outskirts of Center Point/Urbana.

But my top three I'm certain that they will continue to get airplay in the future, as for the next 7 that is debatable but I figured they are good enough to be recognized  as the best of the year. Drive By Truckers and Blackberry Smoke are good as gold for good music.  But since I didn't review much for new music the best will include reissues.  I doubt if I'll ever pay attention to new music after this year anymore, I have too many albums from the past to contend with  and want nothing to do with  The 1975 or Alica Keys or Beyonce or Autotuned quack Kanye West.  From here on out kiddies, you'll have to get the thumbs up from Pitchfork or NME on flavors of the moment, so listen to a sample via Spotify or You Tube and then go check out the local band struggling to make it in this Corporate Rock end times.

The Best:

1).  Camping With Wi-Fi-Tommy Bruner   (Orange City Records)

Tommy is one of the hardest working musicians in town; if he's not gigging with The Past Masters (his day job) or The Shadow or hosting a jam session, he's busy recording new music and at age 62, he's only getting started in his solo music albums and Camping With Wi Fi really rocks.  Playing everything except for Rick Clay playing insane guitar on Cranberry Lane, Bruner  plays with a Clapton slow hand type of rock and blues.  I certainly have played this album a few times on Townedger Radio this past year and it is the best recorded album thanks to Mike   Cutsforth.  But this is Tommy's album all the way.   His version of Slowhand of the 2010s.

2)  Down The Line-Wooden Nickel Lottery ( Violet Isle)

Rich Toomsen is also one of the best guitar players in the area and for the past couple years, he and Jess have been the heart and soul of the band,  he writes the songs, the band plays them.  They got a excellent drummer in Delayne Stallman and an able vocalist in Rick Gallo, who in previous blogs, has a Vince Gill/Craig Fuller type of vocals.  On My Way was a fine debut, but Down The Line improves on the songs, adding a bit more rock on Can't Be Wrong and The Open Road and features Rich throwing some stunning guitar leads on Throw It Down.  The crowning achievement is Nickels And Dimes to which Rich discovers his inner Stevie Ray Vaughan on one of the best guitar riffs I have heard in years.

3)  Orion-King Buffalo (Self Released)

I can't say it's real prog rock, but the feel is more heavy blues of the early 70s, Space Ritual influenced Hawkwind, or early Sabbath.  The term is stone rock but it's what was call heavy blues.  This trio from Rochester New York has put out a excellent album, layered in reverb drenched fuzz blues and even Ummagumma Pink Floyd in Orion Sungiving.  With Kerosene, they recorded their masterpiece.  If this came back out in 1976, this would be on classic rock radio, but at that time these dudes were toddlers or not born yet, but it's a good bet that their folks might have a decent record collection, or they knew somebody that had In The Court Of The Crimson King, or Magma.

4)  The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl  (Apple)

Perhaps the final piece of the Beatles puzzle finally issued on CD, their live recording at the Hollywood Bowl, complete with screaming teen girls almost overpowering the music.  Giles Martin, does a find job of balancing the screaming teens and Beatles rock and roll.  And fifty years ago, this was a big deal.

5)  The Definite Collection-Porter Wagoner (Real Gone Music/Sony Music)

Forgotten by country music today, Porter was one of the more weirder top stars at that time.  Certainly he could do uptempo friendly bluegrass country (Howdy Neighbor Howdy, Y'all Come), revisit Uncle Pen (the first version makes its CD debut on this compilation) and good ole bar room sing alongs (I enjoyed as much as this as I can stand, Misery Loves Company).  Porter was also good at murder/revenge ballads (The First  Mrs Jones, The Cold Hard Facts Of Life) songs of suicide and despair (The Rubber Room, Cold Dark Waters) and other songs of note (Green Grass Of Home, Carrol County Accident). While Porter recorded for RCA up till 1982, this ends with Highway Heading South, which might have been Porter's last great single.  Next to Buck Owens and Don Gibson, Porter remains my third all time favorite country singer and this 2 CD overview is proof he was very good at what he could do.

6)  Good Times-The Monkees (Rhino)

Even in death, Davy Jones did managed to grace this album, a version of Neil Diamond's Love To Love and thank Rhino and Adam Schlegsiner for sparing us the sappy ballads this time around.  It helped a lot that Rivers Cromo and Andy Partridge gave the boys some great songs too (She Makes Me Laugh, You Bring The Summer).  It helped that the guys picked some good songs from the likes of Boyce/Hart and Jeff Berry and Joey Levine too, prompting back to the days of classic power pop of their first album.  50 years later and with Peter, Mickey and Michael all pushing or beyond 70, they're celebrating their youth one last time.  Good times, it really was.

7)   Baptist Town-Mike Eldred Trio  (Great Western Recording Co)

No stranger to my top ten albums best of, he was the best in 2011 with 61/49 and while I didn't get to hear his Elvis tribute album, I did managed to latch on his sonic blues rock journey this year.  Eldred had a few notable help on this album (Robert Cray, David Hidalgo John Mayer) it's his and his batch of musician brothers (John Bazz, Jerry Angel) bringing out their inner Robert Johnson and Sun Records sound with a bit of hard drumming from Angel.  The connection from Johnson, to the Sun Records Sound to The Beatles and Led Zep is all there.   For excellent albums, Mike Eldred is a name you can trust.

8)  American Band-Drive By Truckers (ATO)

This album got better with repeated listens and Patterson Hood continues to really dig deep into the roots of the blues and rock (and protest music) beginning with Ramon Casiano and ends with Baggage which the subject at hand is Merle Haggard rather than David Bowie.   While the jury is still out whether or not this is their all time best album ever, it's still a stunning listen through the whole album.

9). Under The Influence-Foghat (Foghat Records)

Let's cut to the chase and quit snickering.  I don't care if a band is missing key members if they can make a rocking album and while Dave Peverett and Rod Price might be jamming with Elmore James and Bo Diddley in the afterlife, Roger Earl managed to corral Kim Simmonds, his old Savoy Brown crony for a couple of blues numbers and even both Nick Jameson and Craig MacGregor take turns jamming on bass, including the remake of Slow Ride, which is their theme song like it or not and they'll continue to record it as a bonus track.  While The Rolling Stones Blue And Lonesome is a credible return to their roots, Foghat continues to deliver quality boogie blues rock, to which the term boogie sonic was coined from Crabb Incorporated.   Foghat doesn't do autotuned new jack pop, with them it's WYSIWYG and Bryan Bassett has been an able replacement for Rod Price or Erik Cartwright.  Plus they do a very good version of Savoy Brown She Got A Ring On His Finger and A Ring In His Nose.

10) You Want It Darker-Leonard Cohen

While Blackstar is a nice fitting finale to David Bowie, I enjoyed Cohen's final effort a lot more, to the point that this gets the final spot in the best of 2016.  The title track is perhaps the most telling and perfect song about all the passing of musicians that were taken from us this year, with Cohen throwing in the towel and declaring that he's ready.  And the Lord took him up on his offer.  The chamber music of side two tends to bog down things but I think he and his son Adam Cohen, who produced the majority of songs (Pat Leonard also produced a couple here too) and sequenced them into a nice finish to a distinguished career.

Honorable Mentions:

Bittersweet-Kacey Chambers (Sugar Hill/Concord)

Although this came out two years ago, it was new to me when I scored a copy of this and it was an harrowing listen throughout.  Chambers plays the crazy psycho that makes songs like Wheelbarrow and Stalker come alive.  In the end she does reveal She's Alive and all for the better of it.  Since this record is recorded in 2014, I can't put it in the top 10 best, but if I haven't heard it before it's new to me.

At First Light-The Dawn (Lonesome Driver Music)

This is where Sean Ryan turns The Dawn into a full time jam band, with four songs, the shortest at 7:55 and the rest at 10 plus minutes, but there's not a wasted note or jam anywhere.  They do tend to hang around the Quad Cities to play but they're getting better known around the jam band circuit and quite honestly, At First Light rocks a little harder and better than Moe's last album.  And as from what I heard from their catalog, the best is yet to come.  The Dawn are getting better and the future is bright for them too.

Mudcrutch 2 (Reprise)

A better followup from Tom Petty's original band before he formed the Heartbreakers but Ben Tench and Mike Campbell figure greatly in here too.   Everybody contributes to the songs but of course the best ones remain the ones written by Petty.

Neil Young-Peace Trail (Reprise)

Young continues to be busy: putting out the 2 CD live Earth, complete with sounds from the animals and bugs along with the crowds and up to the 30 minute/half song/half feedback Arc tribute Love And Only Love, Earth might have been picked.  But Young works on almost a hurried first take feel anymore and if the albums and songs are not as meaningful as say Freedom or After The Gold Rush, when Young has something to protest about, he does managed to at least sound convincing, as on this recent album about the Dakota Pipeline Access and the world's well being.   It still sounds too much tossed together but at least Neil's heart and guitar are in the right place.

Blackberry Smoke-Like An Arrow (Thirty Tigers)

While this made the best of in a few lists, I couldn't warm myself enough to stick it in the ten best of the year.  The protest music didn't grab me as much as Wish In One Hand or Let Me Help You Find The Door but Waiting For The Thunder and Sunrise In Texas came close. Still not a bad album by any means.  It's certainly beats anything on rock radio or country for that matter.

Motorhead-Clean Your Clock (UDR)

The last live album from Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee, now holding the beat behind the Scorpions.  Lemmy's voice is a shell bellow of itself, but he gives it all hes got even in his last years and knowing that the end is near as evidenced on Ace Of Spades.   In the end, it's still pure rock and roll.

Bun E Carlos-Greetings From Bunezuela (E One)

While  Cheap Trick soldered on with a new album which wasn't bad, I enjoyed Carlos' solo album more, since it had more of a power pop heart and a good choice of old time covers (Him Or Me, Armenia City In The Sky) and using the Hanson guys and Alejandro Escovedo on a couple tracks too.  I Don't Love You No More was one of the biggest earworm songs of 2016, easy to sing along, hard to get out of your ears.

Mondo Drag-The Occultation Of Light  (Riding Easy)

Originally from Davenport, they moved to Oakland in a attempt for more fame and fortune on the Progressive rock circuit, this record pales next to their 2nd album which I thought was their latest and was ready to put it on my best of the year, either way The Drag continues to amaze with their Crimson like prog rock.

Ace Frehley-Origins Volume One (E One)

While Ace dreams about reuniting with Gene and Paul in his former band, he does enlist the latter on a version of Fire And Water.  Basically a covers album, Ace does it quite well, but I think he wanted to do his versions of Parasite and Cold Gin, with him singing instead of Gene. Lita Ford helps out on Wild Thing.

David Bowie-Blackstar (Columbia)

Even in death, I was never impressed with The Next Day, and like most of Bowie's music I either liked it or I don't.  But on his final album, Bowie must have known his time was due and there's been countless hints from the artwork or even the vinyl.  Like Jim Morrison said years ago nobody here gets out alive so we bind our time with listening to music.  I Can't Give Everything Away might be his best final song overall.  But in the end, this record did grow on me a lot better than The Next Day, which I still don't care much for.

And if you made it this far: the last five album of the year that might get a few more plays.

Whiskey Myers-Dirt (30 Tigers)
Descendents-Hypercaffium Spazzinate  (Epitaph)
Cheap Trick-Bang Zoom Crazy Hello (Big Machine)
The Rolling Stones-Blue And Lonesome (Rolling Stones/Polydor)
Alejandro Escovedo-Burn Something Beautiful (Fantasy)

And with that I've completed my obligatory Best Of 2016 In Music.   Your opinion will vary.
No Depression-
Part 2:
And this:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Rock And Roll To The World

I've had more readers (from Russia) twice more this month than all of last month and haven't posted much.  Is less more?   I've been busy on other things and still working on the 2016 wrap up. Outside, the weather is cold just like they would predict it but we have to deal with it the best way possible.  Death continues to take people, Alan Thicke passed away at age 69.  Bristol Palin is knocked up for the third time (you betcha) and we all can't wait for the failed reality star to take over the POTUS role and have the GOP finally kill the American Dream once and for all.  You know to route, tax cuts for rich, raise the retirement age to 75 and jack them gas prices up back to 4 dollars a gallon and build crappy made pipelines so that oil can poison our water supply. 

Forthcoming blogs will be the Best Of 2016 albums, Townedger Radio playlist, and Good Riddance to a Shit year blog and after that.....?   If anything of value comes along that's newsworthy and not having to deal with the failed reality star, the crooked female democrat who won the popular vote and the end of the world, I'll pass it along.   In the meantime, to my USSR faithful, keep inflating those viewership ratings and if we get 10,000 views for this month, perhaps I'll commit to another year.  But in reality folks, life happens and I must follow where it leads.

Not gone yet.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Greg Lake 12/8/17 RIP and Comments

"I think there is some truth in the fact that ELP may have appeared at times to be pretentious. It depends, really, on your view. I think people tend to dismiss things they don’t understand.

I think if someone listens to something like Pictures at an Exhibition, they assume – because they were probably brought up that way – that classical music is for the elite. And really, it’s not. Classical music was for the everyman. It was written for the public; it was just written at a different time in history. And, it’s less complicated than people would imagine. There’s nothing really complicated about Pictures at an Exhibition.

However, if your view of classical music is that it’s for the elitist-type person — the intellectual, the them-what-knows – then you’ll probably be offended when someone like ELP tries to play some classical music.

To us, though, it was just doing a great tune that we liked."

Greg Lake RIP.  (Died Wednesday from cancer. He was 69.)

From Tad:

OK, this sucks. I'll miss ELP for half a dozen great pieces of music. Ghod knows I didn't always love them (Tarkus, most of their later stuff), but when they were good (Karn Evil 9, Fanfare for the Common Man, Still You Turn Me On, From the Beginning, Lucky Man, even Emerson's Piano Concerto) they were pretty great. I don't think Lake "made" ELP, but he did write the hits and produced all the albums ... and he always claimed he wrote the melody for King Crimson's "Epitaph,

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Amanda Picks The Worst Country Songs Of 2016

Since I don't have time to invest in crappy bro country music messes, I found this little reply to Country Perspective's 2016 Worst Songs to be quite entertaining and dead on.  To Amanda, we here at Record World love this sort of music reviews and thank you for investing the time to write this out.
Original post is here:


10. (tie) Michael Ray, “Think a Little Less”
The first entry in the worst singles of 2016 list is by last year’s worst song of the year champion, Michael Ray. Michael Ray was the dark horse in last year’s list, with “Real Men Love Jesus” sneaking in at the last minute to win it all, passing by such abominations as “Ridiculous”, “B.Y.H.B”, and what was to be last year’s champion, Old Dominion’s “Break Up With Him”. “Real Men Love Jesus” pissed me off to no extent with its bullshit societal stereotypes of what a real man should be. And of course, Michael Ray is back this year with this shitty, vapid hookup song. Seriously, Michael? “Kiss a little more, think a little less…get you out of this bar, out of that dress?” I thought you would learn something from “Real Men Love Jesus” barely peaking inside the top 20. This is just another stupid song about meaningless hookups that shouldn’t exist. I remember in a few interviews of Michael Ray that I stumbled upon early in his career, when he said that he loved traditional country music and that he would make traditional country if his record label would let him. What the fuck, Michael? You’re on the same record label with Ashley Monroe and William Michael Morgan. Both of them have been able to make pure country music, much less pure country albums, so the whiny bullshit about your record label is not an excuse. I also remember Michael Ray saying that Gary Allan was his hero, and that his [Michael’s] music was like that of Gary’s. Being as big of a fan of Gary Allan as I am, that kinda pissed me off and really soured my outlook on Michael Ray a little bit. Michael Ray is a mindless pretty boy pop singer, much like Luke Bryan. And I hate to break it to you, Michael, but Jon Pardi is closer to being musically similar to Gary Allan than you are or ever will be. And of course, “Think a Little Less” is written by none other than Thomas Rhett, who will make an appearance of his own later on in the list. Puke a little more, listen a little less.

10. (tie) Love and Theft, “Candyland”
Okay, guys, I have a confession to make: I like pop-country as well as traditional country. But only if it is insanely catchy, very well-written, or both. Right now, I can think of five examples of pop-country done right on the current chart: RaeLynn’s “Love Triangle” (a very well-written, great song), Trent Harmon’s “There’s A Girl” (another decently-written song with obvious country influences), Maren Morris’s “80’s Mercedes,” (more of a straight-ahead pop song, but nonetheless insanely catchy and very well-written), Little Big Town’s “Better Man” (a very well-written song), and Lauren Alaina’s “Road Less Traveled” (an insanely catchy song that I’ve found myself singing along with quite a few times). There is a definite place in country music for pop-country. Carrie Underwood is another example of a fantastic pop-country artist. Maddie and Tae are a fantastic pop-country duo with traditional influences, and they are arguably the best group/duo in mainstream country music today. However, pop-country is an insanely hard concept to master. And when pop-country goes wrong, it can result in a complete doozy. Which brings me to Love and Theft’s “Candyland”. “Candyland” is this year’s last-minute entry. I was analyzing the bottom 30 of the top 60 on the Billboard Country airplay chart one day. I was familiar with Love and Theft but had never heard Candyland. Out of curiosity, I opened up my Spotify account and typed in “Love and Theft Candyland”. Holy shit. Turns out, my curiosity got the best of me, as “Candyland” turned out to be downright awful. “Got you better than a lemon drop, poppin’ like a pop rock/Feeling like a kid in a candy store”?!?!? You have got to be fucking kidding me. This song sounds like a bunch of bored middle-schoolers wrote it on their study break. And to think it came from the same duo who sang “Whiskey on My Breath”. What a difference a year makes.😦

9. Old Dominion, “Snapback”
You know there’s an even bigger pile of shit ahead when Old Dominion tanks to #9. Snapback is an exercise to avoid being country at all costs. The instrumentation/production is beyond annoying, the lyrics are stupid, and there’s absolutely nothing country at all about a snapback hat. This song sucks.

8. Steven Tyler, “Red, White, and You”

“Free fallin’ into your yum yum…” That’s enough to make the pink umbrella stickers themselves, Florida Georgia Line, cringe in disgust. Enough said.

7. Kelsea Ballerini, “Yeah Boy”
You know, I have almost had enough of this Mickey Mouse country. It is completely mind-boggling to me how artists like Kelsea Ballerini, Clare Dunn (who I’ll get to in a minute), Hunter Hayes (who is actually super-talented but wastes his incredible gift on this poppy bullshit), RaeLynn (I love “Love Triangle” and like “Careless” but most of her other music sounds like it could be interchangeable with the music from all of the Disney Princess movies or Disney Channel sitcoms), and the like are even considered in the same genre with various legends (George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Dolly, Tammy Wynette, Hank Sr., and the like) and George Strait, Alan Jackson, Gary Allan, Tim McGraw, Josh Turner, William Michael Morgan, Eric Church, Jon Pardi, Chris Stapleton, Mo Pitney, Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, Carrie Underwood, Lee Ann Womack, Maddie and Tae, and Miranda Lambert. “Yeah Boy” is just another piece of shit pop song that belongs nowhere near the country genre. “Yeah Boy” would fit better on an episode of Hannah Montana or some other fluffy Disney Channel sitcom than on a country radio station. And to add to all of this, “Yeah Boy” is basically female bro-country. The lyrics are extremely shallow and somewhat objectifying. Mouseshit is a good word for describing this type of Mickey Mouse Disney country. And “Yeah Boy” is mouseshit.

6. Clare Dunn, “Tuxedo”
While we’re on the subject of female bro-country and Mickey Mouse mouseshit, here’s another good example brought to us by Clare Dunn. “Tuxedo” is extremely vapid and stupid, and Clare Dunn, while a talented guitar player, has one of the worst voices I have ever heard in the genre of country music, along with Brantley Gilbert (who will be featured later on this list), Tyler Farr, RaeLynn, and Tucker Beathard (who sounds like a mix between a dying cow, nails on a chalkboard, and a cat in heat, and who barely missed the list with his boringly bad single “Rock On”). Clare’s Iggy Azalea-style white-girl rapping is absolutely horrendous and the lyrics are just vapid, stupid, and somewhat objectifying. “My baby looks so sexy out there working in his boots…” “He’s a knight in shining armor with them blue jeans on…” “He’s like a George Strait quiet type…” How dare you name-drop George Strait in your gosh-awful pop song! The audience demographic that this song seemingly aims for (stereotypical pre-teens and teenagers) probably don’t even know who George Strait is, sadly. And the “Tux-tux-tuxedo” bridge is headache-inducingly annoying. Much like “Yeah Boy”, “Tuxedo” sounds more like it belongs on an episode on Hannah Montana than on a country station. Mouseshit.

5. Jana Kramer, “Said No One Ever”
Holy. Fucking. Shit. What on earth is this?!?!? Jana Kramer should know better than this. I’d halfway expect it out of someone like Kelsea Ballerini or RaeLynn, but Jana Kramer? The same artist who sang songs like “Why Ya Wanna” and “I Got the Boy” (both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, and the latter being one of the best singles of 2015)? It doesn’t even sound like the same person. “Said No One Ever” is arguably worse than anything Kelsea Ballerini or RaeLynn both have ever released. “Said No One Ever” makes Kelsea Ballerini’s “Yeah Boy” sound like Kacey Musgraves and RaeLynn’s “God Made Girls” sound like Ashley Monroe. Along with how cringe-inducingly bad “Said No One Ever” is, while “Yeah Boy” and “Tuxedo” sound like Mickey Mouse mouseshit, “Said No One Ever” sounds slightly more childish and more like it wouldn’t sound out of place in a Barbie or My Little Pony movie. I would love to support Jana Kramer because her first album and a select few songs of off her second album (“Boomerang”, “I Got the Boy”, “Dance In the Rain”, and “Last Song”, namely) are awesome, but “Said No One Ever” and over half of its accompanying album, Thirty-One (every song on Thirty-One except the four named above) makes me seriously question Jana and if she is really serious about a career in country music. This song is pretty good……said no one ever.

4. Chris Lane, “Fix”
At this point, trashing “Fix” for the umpteenth time would be pretty much beating a dead horse. The subject of many memes, much tomfoolery, and quite a few epic rants (thanks to Farce the Music, this site, and Saving Country Music), “Fix” has made Chris Lane pretty much universally hated by all real country music fans. “Fix” also spearheaded Chris’s crap-tacular album, Girl Problems, which is a strong competitor (and maybe even the winner) for the worst album of 2016. However, for a quick review, “Fix” likens a romantic relationship to meth, cocaine, and alcohol. It also painfully references Breaking Bad when it says “I’ll be your smooth ride, your late night, your Walter White high…” Obviously and sadly, Chris Lane has a point here. The only way anyone in their right mind could enjoy Chris Lane and “Fix” would be if they were incredibly drunk and/or extremely high. Not to mention that “Fix” is not country in any way, shape, or form, and has a sound that makes Sam Hunt sound like Alan Jackson. The lyrics are kindergarten-level stupid, and after hearing Chris’s annoying falsetto, I couldn’t find the Motrin fast enough. Chris Lane is just another of many pretty-boy pop singers making a living in the country genre. Maybe he and these other posers should take notes from guys like George Strait, Alan Jackson, William Michael Morgan, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Tim McGraw, Jon Pardi, Gary Allan, Brad Paisley, and Josh Turner on how to make country music that is enjoyable but still genuine and respecting the roots of country music. And is it just me, or does the narrator of “Fix” seem like a complete douchebag? The narrator of “Fix” is self-absorbed, pushy, extremely whiny and needy, and a slight bit creepy. The narrator of “Fix” reminds me of this one guy I have had a class with in college. He is also pushy, excessively needy, and extremely self-absorbed, with an ego bigger than the entire state of Texas. The ambience of “Fix” also annoys the hell out of me. It all seems so contrived and fake. The delivery of the song would actually be somewhat convincing coming from the guy from the class I described, although still pushy, needy and creepy. But it seems like a total cop-out for Chris Lane. The way I perceive Chris Lane, he seems to me like a seemingly heartless ballsack of a douche (for lack of a better insult) that hasn’t the slightest clue on the subject of romantic pursuit. To sum it all up, “Fix” is yet another exercise in sheer stupidity and blatantly avoiding anything at all to do with actual country music.

3. Brantley Gilbert, “The Weekend”
Oh, Brantley. Don’t you know that bro-country is so 2014? Obviously not, because “The Weekend” is bro-country cranked up to eleven. As I already said before about this song, it features blatantly lazy songwriting, terrible instrumentation that could make a deaf person cringe, and it gave me a nagging headache after listening to it once out of curiosity. I spent the following two hours listening to Gary Allan, Tim McGraw, and Lee Ann Womack to clean out my ears and relieve my headache. “Wake and bake and we at it again…”? Really, Brantley? I thought you were sober. And even worse, “we at it again”? As a future English teacher, this bugs the absolute shit out of me. It’s “we’re at it again”. Learn some grammar, Brantley. The rest of the song is just extremely stupid and incredibly cliché. “The Weekend” is music for those who have the I.Q. of a sheep. And speaking of his sheep fans, the die-hard members of the BG Nation will defend Brantley to the death. They are always like “Brantley iz da bestest kuntry artest evurrrrrrrrr! Reel kuntry muzik at it’s finust! BG NASHUN 4 LYFE!!!!!!” You could tell me that Brantley Gilbert is better than Cole Swindell and Thomas Rhett, and I would agree with you. You could tell me that Brantley Gilbert is better than Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean, and I might believe you. But there is absolutely no way that you could tell me that Brantley Gilbert is better than George Strait, Alan Jackson, Chris Stapleton, Tim McGraw, Eric Church, Gary Allan, Josh Turner, William Michael Morgan, Jon Pardi, Brad Paisley, Mo Pitney, Chris Young, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, Lee Ann Womack, Maddie and Tae, Brothers Osborne, and Maren Morris. Anyway, avoid this song like the plague and go listen to William Michael Morgan’s excellent new album, Vinyl, instead.

2. Luke Bryan, “Move”
(Semi-rant time!) The runner-up spot in this year’s worst-of list rightfully goes to Luke Bryan. Just when I thought Luke couldn’t piss me off any more, especially after taking up three back-to-back spots in last year’s worst-of list, he proves me wrong and does it yet again with “Move”. This is basically “Country Girl Shake it for Me 2.0”. In all honesty, “Move” is actually worse than “Kick the Dust Up”, “Strip it Down”, and “Home Alone Tonight”, which I counted among the worst of the worst of 2015. And of course, after the decent “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day”, Luke releases the worst song on his Kill the Lights album and one of the worst songs of his entire career, the absolutely horrendous “Move”. Luke Bryan is 40-fucking-years-old. When the hell is he ever going to grow up? Luke, you are a grown ass man and you’re still singing about spring break and dancing with teenage girls. What the hell? I feel sorry for his wife and family. If I were his wife and saw him dancing and prancing around like an assclown and humping every freaking thing in sight on stage, I would be the epitome of mortified. It would embarrass the absolute shit out of me. Luke, you are not sexy. You are creepy as hell. Gary Allan is sexy. And he doesn’t wear sparkly skinny jeans, he doesn’t shake his ass like a Chippendales dancer and dance like an idiot, and he doesn’t sing about mindless, meaningless hookups and spring break. Gary Allan is the perfect example of what a sexy male country star should be. He dresses and looks sexy with his plethora of tattoos and his tight-in-all-the-right-places jeans (NOT skinny jeans like Luke’s, absolutely no man should ever wear skinny jeans, in my honest opinion), and he struts around the stage in a sexy manner, but he doesn’t act vulgar, disgusting, and immature like Luke Bryan. There is a way to be sexy that completely avoids being disgusting and creepy. Apparently, Luke Bryan hasn’t quite grasped this concept yet. And y’all know the old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Luke Bryan is an “old dog” that has been wiggling his non-existent pancake ass on stage for so long that it has seemingly become a habit of his. I highly doubt Luke ever will learn how to be sexy but mature. Going back to the song, “Move” is absolutely fucking pointless. The lyrics are extremely misogynistic and idiotic. Hell, Luke even gives his army of sheep fans a spelling lesson with M-O-V-E. Luke, a rational person would already know how to spell “move”. But those who actually enjoy this song are not rational. Many of Luke Bryan’s fans are seemingly idiots. They’ll eat up anything, even ridiculous, pandering bullshit. It absolutely baffles me why people my age (mainly girls and the “douchebag bro” type guys my age; I’m 20) eat this shit up. Seriously, I’m beginning to think that I’m one of the very few 20-year-old girls who thinks Luke Bryan is creepy, disgusting, and an absolute waste of space and airplay in the country music world. “Move” makes me want to puke every time I hear it, and Luke Bryan makes me want to puke every time I see him on TV shaking his ass and acting like a horny college bro. It is quite appropriate that “Move” is number two on this list, because it is nothing but a flaming pile of shit.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…the worst country single of 2016 is………*drum roll please*…………………………

1. Thomas Rhett, “Vacation” (WARNING: NSFW language rant)
Well, well, Thomas. You have really managed to fuck up mainstream country music for good this time. As soon as I caught wind that Thomas was releasing “Vacation” as a single, I knew that no one, no matter how hard he, she, or they tried, would be able to top “Vacation” as the worst song of the year. I have been waiting since the moment it was released to tear the song a good deserved one, and now is my chance. So let’s get started, shall we?
The first issue that I have with Vacation is the fact that Thomas Rhett basically borrowed the beat from War’s “Low Rider”. Essentially, this is what he did with “Crash and Burn (ripping off Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang” and copying basically every Bruno Mars song from the past five years) and “Die a Happy Man” (which is Thomas Rhett’s half-assed cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”). Thomas Rhett is an artist with not a shred of originality to his name. He is a proud product of nepotism, riding the coattails of his daddy, 90’s country star and songwriter (one of the infamous Peach Pickers, might I add) Rhett Akins. Rhett had some pretty decent songs back in the day. Thomas has only had one song that I enjoy, and that is “Beer With Jesus”. That being said, the lyrics to “Vacation” are absolutely asinine. The lyrics sound like an annoying jingle to a commercial. “Vacation” could be a commercial for a number of things: Billabong bikinis, Coppertone lotion, Motel 6, Solo cups, Walgreen’s beach chairs, Red Stripe, and Busch Light beer. If “Vacation” was a commercial, it would be a headache-inducingly annoying one. “Vacation” would be one of those commercials in which a person would change the television channel every time it came on. And let’s not even get started on the grammar. It’s awful. Who the hell wrote this? A five-year-old? “Hey, let’s party like we on vacation”? Give me a fucking break! And Thomas, you don’t mean to tell me that it took 14 songwriters to write this trainwreck. 14 fucking songwriters! Of course, half of them are from the band War, in which Rhett wisely credits because he shamelessly stole the beat from “Low Rider”. Take away half of 14 and you still have seven. How in the hell does it take 7 songwriters to come up with something that sounds like a little bitty kid wrote it? Every time I think about this song, I think of my two very favorite country songs of all time and how many people it took to write them. It took only two people to write Gary Allan’s “Smoke Rings in the Dark” and it only took two people to write Ashley Monroe’s “Two Weeks Late” (one of those two being Ashley herself). Both “Smoke Rings in the Dark” and “Two Weeks Late” are absolute musical masterpieces. If you take away the members of War, you have, I’m assuming, six or seven songwriters. It took six or seven songwriters to create “Vacation”, and it is an absolute disaster. I could write a random song by myself that would probably suck, but still be a hell of a lot better than “Vacation”. And the video for this shit mountain is just creepy as hell. Seven-to-eight-year-old little girls dancing around in bikinis singing about “cold ones”. Holy moly shit, it makes Thomas Rhett look like a pedophile and it is just plain wrong. “Vacation” is a train wreck coming in contact with a plane crash. It is truly horrific, awful, and terrible in every way, shape, and form. Thomas Rhett has really outdone himself this year with “Vacation”. I’ve been wanting to nail him ever since he released Tangled Up last year, but he didn’t make that easy. Crash and Burn, while not a great song, had decently-written lyrics to back the annoying Bruno Mars-on-drugs-style instrumentation and Thomas’s weak vocals, Die a Happy Man was kinda boring (but dare I say average if not due to radio overplaying the song), and T-Shirt was bad, but not really among the worst of the worst. I know that this title gets doled out a lot over the years, pretty much every time a horrifically bad song is released, but I can confidently say that Thomas Rhett has released the worst radio single in the history of country music. Not even country radio cared very much for it, as it only peaked at #30(?) on the country airplay charts, and they’ll play whatever tripe Thomas Rhett sends them. And if it wasn’t for Thomas’s slightly more horrific album cut “South Side” (which gets my vote for the worst country song of all time), Vacation would even be considered “the worst country song of all time”, in my opinion. “Vacation” is way worse than “Kick the Dust Up” and “Donkey”. “Vacation” is way worse than any song Sam Hunt has ever released. “Vacation” is worse than “Move” and “Burnin’ It Down”. Hell, “Vacation” is even worse than “Real Men Love Jesus” and “Break Up With Him”. “Vacation” is terrible in any genre you put it in. It is a sorry excuse for a country song, a sorry excuse for a pop song, a sorry excuse for a rap song, a sorry excuse for an R&B song, a sorry excuse for a song in general. Shit, “Vacation” isn’t even really music. “Vacation” is a haphazard hodgepodge of sounds and noise fused together to form a gigantic mass of audio diarrhea. To make yet another sarcastic, attempting to be humorous quip to sum up the awfulness of “Vacation”, I would rather be forced to write down every dirty and downright inappropriate thought I have ever had about Gary Allan and next go on national country radio and read them all aloud, than to ever listen to “Vacation” again, or even better yet, “Vacation”‘s accompanying album, “Tangled Up”. There are two groups of people who purposely listen to this drivel: the extremely brave reviewers at sites like this one, Saving Country Music, and the like (I greatly admire you guys, I couldn’t make it the entire way through “Tangled Up” without getting a massive migraine); and the Thomas Rhett fans who are seemingly so stupid and have not a clue what real country music is. Aside from maybe “Beer With Jesus”, the career of Thomas Rhett has been nothing short of embarrassing and just plain sad to those who know what real country music is and love real country music. As a fan of mostly traditional country and decent pop country, “Vacation” made me angry that Thomas Rhett would have the nerve to release this steaming pile of dog shit as a single, especially as a single in the country genre, and it also made me sad for what country music has become, and for what many people my age that claim to be country music fans think of as country music. “Vacation” is an absolute disgrace to country music and music in general. Congratulations, Thomas Rhett. You have not only unearthed the worst single of 2016, but the worst single of all time.

Dishonorable mentions:
-Thomas Rhett, “T-Shirt” (unsurprisingly just another bad song by Thomas Rhett)
-Kane Brown, “Thunder in the Rain” (pop bullshit that sounds like Justin Bieber/One Direction)
-Every Cole Swindell single released/or had significant impact in 2016 (somehow Cole managed to miss my list this year, which totally takes me by surprise considering the fact he is a constant source of horrible music)

-Tucker Beathard, “Rock On” (due to his gosh-awful cat-in-heat vocal performance)

-Chase Rice, “Everybody We Know Does” (Bottom-of-the-barrel horseshit like everything else Chase Rice releases)

-Justin Moore, “Somebody Else Will” (a straight-up pop song with no place in country music. Although Justin Moore is not one of the best artists in mainstream country music, he clearly knows better.)

-Dustin Lynch, “Seein’ Red” (another shitty pop song from a once-promising artist)

-Chase Bryant, “Room to Breathe” (more shitty pop-funk type music. Chase is talented, but he should stay away from this Sam Hunt-copycat music.)

-Dierks Bentley and Elle King, “Different for Girls” (Dierks sounds great here, but the production is a bit sleepy and sterile, and the lyrics are filled with presumptuous lies and outdated gender ideals. Miranda Lambert’s “Vice” is a good counter-argument to “Different for Girls”, stating that girls sometimes do the same as guys regarding the demise of a relationship. Some girls move on quickly, while some also try acting seemingly tough and unscathed although they are deeply saddened and devastated inside. And unlike “Different for Girls, “Vice” is actually a good song. “Different for Girls” falls quite a few points short of average due to the nature of the lyrics.)

-Blake Shelton, “She’s Got a Way With Words” (Blake sounds decent here and the production is alright, but the lyrics are nothing but vapid, shitty, petty, stupid bullshit. Blake sounds childish and whiny throughout the duration of the song, which has an extremely immature approach. There’s a reason Jake Owen passed on “She’s Got a Way With Words”.)

-Drew Baldridge, “Dance With Ya” (Horrific, sad, and pathetic. That’s all.)

-LoCash, “Ring on Every Finger” and “I Know Somebody” (LoCash is nothing but the poor man’s FGL. We definitely don’t need another one of those. One FGL is more than enough.)

-Dylan Scott, “My Girl” (Holy hopping sheep shit, did he just name-drop Eminem in a supposedly country song? Between the dime-a-dozen, painfully generic lyrics and migraine of a production, Dylan’s monotone delivery makes “My Girl” nearly insufferable.)

-Morgan Wallen, “The Way I Talk” (“The Way I Talk” sounds like a FGL reject. And Morgan Wallen reminds me very much of a Tyler Hubbard impersonator.)

-Jerrod Niemann and Lee Brice, “A Little More Love” (two has-beens collaborating on a stupid ’90’s sounding rap-pop-rock-reggae song. I thought we’d heard the last of Jerrod Niemann with the ridiculously humiliating “Donkey”, but I was wrong. While “Blue Bandana” was decent, “A Little More Love” sucks. The only scrap of redemption found in this song is the fact that Lee and Jerrod harmonize fairly well in the chorus. Other than that, the song is a pathetic cry for attention. Lee and Jerrod should co-headline a tour and call it “Touring With the Has-Beens”. Randy Houser, Jana Kramer, Parmalee, and Thompson Square could open for them.)

-Lanco, “Long Live Tonight” (We do not a “country” One Direction. Especially one with a name that sounds like a catering company.)

-Dierks Bentley, “Somewhere on a Beach” (Dierks, please. Get back to the music we all know and love you for. “Somewhere on a Beach” is more sad than anything, because it signifies that 2016 was the year of Dierks Bentley selling out. Hope you like the cash, Dierks. You had to trade in your respect for it. Hopefully his next album is better than “Black”. Aside from a couple of decent-to-good songs, “Black” is a disappointment. Maybe Dierks will get back to himself, the Dierks Bentley we all know and love, with his next album.)

-Chris Lane, “For Her” (Go away, Chris. And never come back.)

-Granger Smith, “If the Boot Fits” (I hate this song. It’s one of the laziest bunch of cliches songwriting I’ve ever heard. Is it bad that I wish that Granger would completely abandon his mainstream career and pack up and go back to Texas? His Texas country music was actually somewhat decent. He could go back to the Texas scene or he could always make a career out of his Earl Dibbles Jr. comedy schtick. Granger’s Earl Dibbles act may be corny, but it’s a hell of a lot better than his mainstream country career. Granger’s mainstream country career is the real joke here.)
-Florida Georgia Line, “H.O.L.Y.” (Leave it to FGL to place sexual innuendo in a supposedly spiritually-based song. “Get ya singing, babe, hallelujah, we’ll be touching heaven”…um, no thanks.)
-Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (The lyrics do have a bit of a sleazy nature, but Keith’s latest offering isn’t really as much outright bad as it is dreadfully and painfully boring. “Blue Ain’t Your Color” is Lunesta in audio form.)

In the midst of all of the awful atrocities that were listed that mainstream country music had to offer in 2016, “Vacation” is my personal pick for Worst Song of 2016. I fully agree that Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation” is Country Perspective’s worst song of 2016. No contest really, not even with “Move”, “The Weekend”, “Fix”, and “Said No One Ever”.

Not to be outdone, Farce The Music adds their worst of 2016 songs, basically a carbon copy with a few omissions.