Monday, February 22, 2016

Week In Review: First Bargain Hunt Of The Year, New Music,

Last week we were dealing with snow and cold, by the end of the week, the front went through and temps warmed up to the fifties for a brief spell Saturday.  Thursday, a big wind event had speeds up to 63 miles an hour and shingles and semi's were being blown off the road.  Saturday turned out to be the first bargain hunt of the year to Davenport (where else?) and to find the new location of Co Op Records, a few doors down from Chuckie Cheese.  While it is nice to see a new record store, the problem was CO OP had not much for music, most of the inventory came from the old Locust Street location.  Brief stops were at Ragged Records to which I picked the new Mondo Drag but not the Multiple Cat new release, which record store clerk Benjamin Crabb is now playing in that band.  Which means next time I'm in town I may have to pick it up.  Spring must be coming down there in Davenport, the evil Redwing blackbirds were out and about terrorizing fellow joggers.  It wasn't all bad, I had a nice looking female jogger smile and waved at me as she jogged on by.   Alas, nothing was found at the thrift stores and most of the jukebox 45s from the last Salvation Army visit were gone.   Probably off to the local landfill.  Sign of the times:  The K Mart on Brady Street is now history, as well as the Aaron's store, which got located someplace else.

Friday Night I ended up working most of the night so I only caught the last set of Blue Scratch at Checker's Tavern.  It was kind of a confusing set so to speak, last month Catey Recker was going to take a couple months off to go back to school but here she was closing down the set.   Matt Johnson, the drummer did a much better job laying down the beat this time out, the guess was that when they played last month there, they may have not did much rehearsing and it sounded like that.  This time out, they were more tighter, although the whole gig ended on a awkward note, unlike closing things with Tush, they chose a song I wasn't familiar with and they quietly turned their amps off and started to tear things down.  Next week Blue Scratch moves on to Ramsey's Winery in downtown Marion.

Sunday jam at Rumors brought out some of drumming heavyweights, Rocky Smith, Matt Johnson  joined up, with Dave Bonham's last jam in town before his move to Davenport next month.  It probably came as a shock to hear Little Wing end on a Bolero beat via Derek And The Dominoes and soul singer Ernest getting into his bag of tricks, freaking out the local drummer on Got My Mojo Workin.  I should have threw in a copy of Muddy Waters live at Newport when I gave my Impulse High hats to him. While jam sessions have been fun, the glut of drummers has cut into playing time on stage but for the most part on idle I sit and chat with fellow musicians.  Usually Terry McDowell, taking most of the night off and comparing notes on how to do songs.  Certainly, every drummer has their own way of playing to the music and I'm no exception.  Even the most experienced will stumbled upon a beat or two, or slag through something that they are not used to play or never played that song.   I'm amazed on how a few of my contemporaries can't seem to master around the Rocky Mountain Way beat.  Or the baffled Texas Shuffle to which I spent many a time on You Tube watching them and it still doesn't translate to my playing.   So basically it's a art of improvisation and not throwing yourself off the one beat.  If I can come off stage and get kudos and good jobs, then I managed to do my job of keeping the beat.  I may not the best of the double bass drum rollovers, but I keep  a driving beat to make up for that shortcoming.

In 1944, Clare McIntosh took in a movie at the old Circle (later Camelot) Theater only to lose his wallet in the process.  While various owners have kept the movie theater going for years, nobody could locate the wallet and the theater closed down.  It has since reopened at The Talent Factory, a showcase featuring comedy acts and perhaps local bands.  But on renovating the old place, somebody found McIntosh's wallet while upgrading the upper apartments.  The guess is that Clare may have sat in the upper balcony and his wallet fell through. The owner of the place Larry  Sloan   managed to locate the wallet's owner back to McIntosh who is still living and lives in Runnels Iowa.

Tornado porn: On June 8, 1966 a Tornado tore through Topeka Kansas. Mike Leavanworth, stopped at a Estate sale and managed to find a treasure trove of color photographs and aftermath of this twister of 50 years ago and managed to put them out on flickr. The old photos tell quite a story:

While Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town got nice record sales of His Master Voice Without The Dog Awards last week, Joey + Rory's Hymms made number 1 on the  country charts, selling something like 68,000 copies.  Which is saying something that Best Buy and Wally World didn't have that album.  While Joey Feek continues to cling on to her life, she's actually lived long enough to see the Gaither released album make the charts in a high position.   It's not rock or roll and why does Record World continue to look at such mindless wonder and not pay more attention to Look At Me Kayne West or Pimp A Butterfly Kendrick, or The Weekend is that Kayne, Kendrick, Drake and whoever doesn't appeal to me and basically music has been going down the pooper for many years.  And Joey + Rory are more in-tuned to country that I used to know rather than the stalker bro-country of Old Dominion and the Florida Georgia Chipmunks.  And the Feeks seem to be more down to earth than the who dats that are Cane Brown or what Farce The Music pokes fun at.  And Joey Feek remains a fighter, she's lasted longer than the prognosis gave her back in November.  You haven't seen her name in the passing list.

We will never work with each other again department:  Looks like the guys in Deep Purple would rather not share the stage ever with Richie Blackmore again, judging by the war of words between them and Richie.  Originally Ian Paice was open to the idea of even Richie showing up, but the DP manager said NO!!!!! and Ian Gillan, Blackmore's thorn in the side lead singer of the classic years would rather have Richie watch from the seats.  If it means anything, Steve Morse and Don Airey who have been in the band a long time (Morse has been Blackmore's replacement for over 20 years) will get to share the stage, and perhaps David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes might have a hand on these things.   It's a shame really to see bickering between the two camps because of old pranks gone wrong or prima donna acting, Blackmore's indifference on the Battle Rages On tour that finally put things to a head and Blackmore quitting soon afterwards.  To which we are never ever getting back together comes to mind and even in the honor of being inducted into a Hall Of Fame to which real fans have them in their own HOF beforehand, that bygones can't be bygones even for 15 minutes.  Kind of like the Peter Cetera Vs Chicago thingy.  I suppose singing 25 to 6 or 4 in E minor does work well for Petey since the dude is now 71 and can't hit that A minor high notes he once did.  We all get old and change comes.

We will never work with each other again department 2:  When voters stayed at home in droves in 2014, Mitch the Bitch McConnell, Joni Wonderbags Ernst won because of voter indifference.  Don't blame me, I voted and not for the Iowa Screech.  Since Andy Scolia died a couple weeks ago, McConnell, acting like the true authoritarian almighty along with senile old fuck Charles Grassley, with Orrin Hatch and South Carolina fuckface Lindsay Graham all say they will not even consider replacing Scalia till a new POTUS is elected.  Bullshit politics working as usual and of course the Grumpy Old Pussy party, has done nothing for the people unless Koch Industries buys another congressman.  While Obama has not done much for my liking his second term (TPP will put him in cahoots with Slick Willie's 1996 Telecom Act), he has managed to somehow do his job a lot better than the War Criminal Bush Jr and Haliburton Chaney.  Basically our democracy has been a laughing stock all over the world since Teabaggermania got into congress and it makes me fucking sick to see how the GOP controlled anything refuses to work with compromises and have no fucking ideas of their own for healthcare, although Rafael Cruz promises to carpetbomb those ISIS folks damn women and children and Donald Trump wanting to build a wall.  Meanwhile Ms. Ernst who thinks 7.25 an hour is perfect minimum wage, despite the fact that prices continue to go up  and who works minimum and having two/three jobs and still not breaking even, Ernst thinks they are the freeloaders.  Ernst got in on the bullshit platform of jobs jobs jobs and making Washington squeal.  Grassley, and McConnell did put in a judge when the bad bit actor Reagan was president his last year now says that it's wrong to even think about a new Supreme Court Justice in a election year.  This is why there should be term limits for these career bullshit artists, who a long time ago did their job but now have gotten too fat on lobbyists bribes and the Koch Brothers greasing their palms.  But then again, the system has been geared toward the rich and not the middle class or poor.  Voters in 2014 had the chance for change and finally getting rid of the Kentucky Turtleface, Koch fucking douchecanoe but everybody stayed home and the old bitch is back and doing a damn thing.  There's not a single Republican that's even worth a second look; Jeb Bush dropped out of the race and Ben Carson is close to as well.    Which leaves us, John Kasich, the less extreme out of a bunch of war happy chicken hawks, but you have Big Mouth Trump,  Marco Rubio and Rafael Theodore Cruz, the new 3 Stooges of hypocrisy.  At least Bernie Sanders has some sort of ideas to get America going in a different direction, Hillary Clinton can't be trusted, she's too cozy with Wall Street.  Basically I'm sick of seeing a Bush or a Clinton in the white house, and most of the news you see are tilted toward the GOP or Hillary.  But the obstruction that Grassley and McConnell have been doing for many years needs to go and term limits is one way of doing that, voting by the people for the people and get the old fucks out of congress.  The only hope is the see the ghosts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the rest who drew up the Constitution rise from the dead and give us a walking zombie revolution to oust the do nothing Koch suckers that has thrown this country into the fucking toilet since 9/11.  But the damage was started with a B movie actor being president in the 1980s and starting the trickle down economics that have done nothing for the working man, unless you were born into rich royality, or a fucking career politician.  If you're not, then you're screwed.  It's not the poor that sucking this country dry, it's the major corporations and the subsidies that they continue to get be it Big Oil, or The Church, or The NFL.  Let that sink in a while.

Not safe for work:  50 years of Playboy Centerfolds have come to an end since the magazine has decided to scrap the Centerfold of the month.  Many a dream date can be found at this site, which might disappear after a while.

Due to the demand of last week's dream date picture: Ashley Graham.  Here ya go Tad! 

Of course Nicole Arbour had to cry about her S.I. cover.  Which I can assure you that Arbour will never grace a Your Dream Date here at Record World, unless I decide on a Fruit Loops Wacko of the Week.  In other words Nicky poo, jealous much?

Looks like Cheryl Tiegs has joined on the bashing too.
I have no time nor patience for has been ex beauty models who's time was gone about 40 years ago. This jive talk about every model should have 36 inches and anybody who doesn't is fat is reason why this world is going to hell in a handbasket. You wanna be skin and bones Miss Tiegs have at it but a full figured woman is much more fun.  History has shown that.

Like the rest of the music faithful, I had high hopes of the HBO Martin Scosarce Mick Jagger series called Vinyl but just about everybody and everything have called it trash.  What was supposed to be a show about music and the record industry in the 70s has turned out to be a pale version of Good Fellas and not in a good way.  In typical Martin S fashion plenty of F and MF bombs are dropped, plenty of gory violence is there but what is lacking is actual music. Contrary to 1973 The New York Dolls weren't heard outside of New York and the bit actors trying to be Peter Grant or Robert Plant don't help either.  While Richard Hell can be Lou Reed Jr (an asshole more or less for those who know him) his review of Vinyl has been spot on.  The HBO show continues to limp on for next Sunday.  Let's see if they have anything remotely related to music than Casino 2-Recording Industry Version.

Mark Lee Goodale is part of 45 and unlike me, he seems to have better luck scouring places to get vintage 45s.  I'm sure he's got about 20 or 30 of things on my want list but this week looks like he found a copy of Louie Louie by Paul Revere And The Raiders on a orange label.  The guess is that this might be a UK or Canadian copy. If it's a US version that would be a rarity. It's looks to be a US copy judging by the photo.

Another viewpoint of the Grammys:

Ratings:  I guess we're coming down the mountain, going from 251 views on Jan 25 to now 50 today even with updates of the latest blog.  I guess Russia got bored with us or read everything from the archives.  Looks like we'll be back in the 2,000 views valley from here on out.

Just like last season Iowa started strong and then flopped toward the end.  Whatever they had in sweeping Michigan State and Purdue is now long gone, looking like shit once again and Wisconsin beating them 67-59.  It seems like they built Carver Hawkeye Arena on ancient Indian burial grounds for once again the Carver Hawkeye jinx hit the home team, shooting 32 percent and watching The Badgers throw up three point baskets with ridiculous ease. The anti Iowa network ESPN rubbed it in the fans faces again, picking Iverson's windmill jam as number 2 in the plays of the day, but that's the least of Iowa's problems.  The bench scoring scored two baskets and Jarrod Uthoff who transferred down to Iowa will go 0-5 against his former team. It's simple to see that Iowa's starters are either running out of gas or become very tentative and timid since barely scraping by Minnesota and then Penn State whopping their butt.   It's one thing to start out strong but it's much better to finish strong and keep winning in March, rather than falling apart and losing.  What seemed to be a lock on winning their first B1G ten title, is now fading away with each bad showing and loss.  Doesn't matter, Iowa will make it to the NCAA with 20 wins but all signs are pointing to another one and done in the B1G ten tourneys and NCAA.  And every chance of Iowa stumbling, another dig from the likes of ESPN and the ESPN reject on Fox Sports  Colin Pumpernickel.  It's not been a good week for Iowa sports, with the wrestling team being upset at home by NC State and the Iowa women looking even more clueless then the guys with Penn State girls whopping them. 81-68 and being down by 19 at the half. Penn State girls are in rebuilding mode, with a 11-17 mark. The girls now 17-12 still have an outside chance to win 3 games to finish with 20 wins but that will take a couple wins before the season is over and perhaps a couple of wins at the B1G tourneys.  In other words they got their work cut out for them.   Just like the men.

Passings: Sonny James, legendary country music star who started his career playing fiddle on early Jim and Jessie recordings then hit a number one record with Young Love in 1958.  Known as the Country Gentleman, he later recorded for Columbia in the 1970s and Monument later on.  Died of natural causes Sunday, he was 87.

Monday marks the year anniversary of the death of Davy Jones of the Monkees.  In reality he's been gone for 4 years but the strangeness of being born on Leap Year's Day and dying makes it a fluke of sorts.  While the cute Monkee is no longer around but in recordings, his band mates are putting together a new album with help with some rock and roll heavyweights and Adam Schleisnger from Fountains Of Wayne helping.  Which means it might be worth hearing when it's done. But Davy Jones will appear posthumous on a old song or two. 

Record Reviews:

Mondo Drag (Riding Easy 2015)
Like their retro rock brother Parker Griggs and Radio Moscow, Mondo Drag continues to have a love of late 60s and early 70s rock and roll, at times borrowing from the likes of Hawkwind and Meddle era Pink Floyd but unlike Radio Moscow, Mondo Drag is more of a band collective rather than the guitar hi-jinks of Radio Moscow, who kinda lost me after their first album. A few years ago, The Drag recorded a nice debut on Alive Naturalsound called New Rituals and then broke up and then reunited.  Working again with Pat Stolley (The Multiple Cat, Tripmaster Monkey), they return with a album that does the late 60s proud, in fact Zephyr damn near sounds like Mark 1 Deep Purple Book of Talisyn fame. Crystal Visions Open Eyes, owes to Kyuss at time, desert rock as imagined coming from the Midwest, (since the release of this album a year ago, they have moved to Oakland).  And the 7 minute Plumajilla starts out in a Hawkwind haze and then disappears into a Magna/Yes/Pink Floyd ending.  In a throwback to progressive rock of the 70s, there are 7 songs that total 34:40, an EP by today's standards.  Had I known this album sooner, it would have graced the 2015 best of list.  A year later it still sounds damn good.  Their new album The Occulation Of Light is due this weekend.  That will be on my want list.  Next to Porcupine Tree, Mondo Drag is one of the best new prog bands.
Grade A-

Sun Ra-Greatest Hits Of Sun Ra And His Arkestra (or Easy Listening For Intergalactic Travel) (Evidence 1999)

Perhaps the most outrageous of them all, Sonny Blount aka Sun Ra can play straight uptempo bop jazz one minute and then the next go out in to outer space dimensions with free jazz freakouts or chants. This is not exactly easy listening as in muzak jazz, Sun Ra can play it straight before deciding to add weird elements to his songs  We'll Wait For You, for comparison try MC5's Starship or Weasel's Ripped My Flesh by Mothers Of Invention.  Anyway, this overview, Evidence compiled 18 songs from 16 different albums, a handful of 70 plus records that Sun Ra put out on his own and sold at concerts when he was alive.  Evidence in the 1990s issued something like 21 of them.  Sun Ra's always had a top notch group with him, Marshall Allen and John Gilmore figured greatly.  The second half of the album does begin to get going, right around We Travel The Spaceways, and into the jazz meltdown of Thither And You, the jungle drums of Yucatan and Sun Ra's organ work on Otherness Blue and The Order Of The Pleasure Jesters is pure genius.  He even tries funk on The Perfect Man.  Still, Sun Ra's extreme free jazz moments are not for everybody although he's more tamer than Albert Ayler or Om era John Coltrane.  Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra Volume 1 is the best introduction, or Nothing Is, the two albums that came out on ESP Disk years ago. But for an overall view of what Sun Ra did best, Greatest Hits does work.
Grade B+

Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons-Chameleon (Mowest 1972)

In the history of rock and reviewing albums The Four Seasons output can be a clusterfuck.  And most of their albums were uneven listening, the only albums I could sit through were Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, their bizarre meeting with Jake Holmes and Who Loves You, their 1976 comeback album with the way overplayed December 1963 and lesser known Silver Star as highlights.  Their Motown years continues Bob Gaudio's foray into middle of the road light rock although Chameleon is really better than what I would expected.  Frankie has two of his own, the failed single Love Ain't Here Like It Used To Be, a precursor to My Eyes Adored You and even for them a couple of harder light rockers as Sun Country and When The Morning Comes.  It might be a bit more consistent than Who Loves You the album, but without that big hit that got them through such as Who Loves You and (yep) Oh What A Night.   In that strange time of the early 70s, the thought of The Four Seasons and even Bobby Darin on Motown nobody could picture, Darin would signed with Motown and did a few singles and songs enough to make a posthumous album when he passed in 1973.  The Four Seasons on the other hand would drift on by, on to Warner Curb for a brief stab at the top forty a couple more times before becoming a oldies act.
Grade B

Nothing But Thieves  (RCA Voleur) 2016

Alternative music of the 2010s is so much different than what I was used to hearing years ago.  Most of those bands are now gone or a few remaining members have reunited and carried on with some fanfare (Lush, Primitives).  If I stayed too long at Best Buy convincing myself to buy something I usually end up regretting the whole thing so basically anybody new had better convince me that paying 8 dollars for an up and coming band that their music is worth hearing more than once.  So I give you Nothing But Thieves a band that has that Muse vibe in them, or Radiohead and even Jeff Buckley from reviewers who gushed over this new debut.  Granted I'm not a Muse nor Radiohead fan and Jeff Buckley's Grace rubbed me wrong from the word go, all said bands have their moments, you know my opinions of the overrated Kid A, but another band that reminds me of NBT is the forgotten Under The Influence Of Giants that made a one and one album for Island a decade ago but NBT is more in line of Muse,  Conor Mason is a fine vocalist, he does have that high yodel that recalls Bono or Thom Yorke.  For songs they pass by in the more acceptable 2 and a half to three minute range, the only four minute song on the album is the weeper Lover, Please Stay. And Painkiller actually has a guitar line that recalls early 90s grunge in a way.  Still, they have an eye on the alternative rock side of things with the smothering Excuse Me and the dancelike trance of Ban All The Music and Graveyard Whistling.  The slight drawbacks is when they slow things down to a crawl, Tempt You (Evocatio) the last song is a yawner.  Still, I give NBT credit for keeping my attention span going through most of the record, and perhaps some day they'll compete with Muse and Radiohead in musical headlines.  On this album, they keep things short and to the point.  That accounts for something.
Grade B+

King's X-Ear Candy (Atlantic 1996)

While people look back on less memorable albums of twenty years ago, I propose that in their time King's X was very far ahead of the times and didn't share into the grunge rock movement. Their harmonies came from the Beatles and Ty Tabor had envisions of trying to capture that Beatles spirit with a bit spiritual awakenings.  They might have been a Christian Rock band under rock pretensions. Their Atlantic years did spawn some surprises (Out Of The Silent Planet, Gretchen Goes To Nebraska) but even Love Faith Hope and Dogman found themselves in the cut out section a half year later.  But once they shed themselves of Sam Taylor in favor of Brendan O Brien on Dogman they stumbled but on Ear Candy they recovered quite nicely and in my opinion remains their best overall Atlantic album. Arnold Lanni was a better fit as producer than Brendan and the songs should have been played more often on radio rather than Soundgarden, songs like Mississippi Moon, which in deed capture Ty Tabor to be as important as a lead singer although Doug Pinnick gave a bit more color to songs like Looking For Love or Run or 67.  In some ways this album reminds me of Stone Temple Pilots Tiny Music, which also came out twenty years ago, Ear Candy having a lot of variation in their songs and music and why it didn't break as well as Tiny Music might be blamed on biased radio and a indifferent Atlantic promotions team that didn't do King's X any favors.  Sometimes classic albums don't get their due till years after it's been completed and forgotten till some rabid fans or a music mag coming across it by accident.   And maybe a decade from now, somebody will discover Ear Candy and elevate it into the classic albums of the 1990s. (I can only do so much, unless one of the 52 readers of the day goes out and listens to this on You Tube and then rave about it in their blog).   In a strange sense of irony, a year later when King's X moved over to Metal Blade to do Tape Head, their first for the label, some now out of work DJ was laughing at the fact that King's X was still around and was singing the praises of some band called Limp Bizkit and calling that the future.  Only problem is King's X made better albums, Limp Bizkit simply made noises.  And King's X still made viable and good to great albums but with Ear Candy they simply made their finest overall.   And it still holds up after 20 years.
Grade A 

Pentatonix  (RCA 2015)

Tad made an interesting point about new music and he reviewed the latest Tedeschi/Trucks album which you can read from here:
Though I cut back on reviewing new music this year I have made some exceptions.  The latest Nothing But Thieves which has some substance to that album, and I have heard mixed reviews on the 2 CD Dream Theater album,which would have bored me to death.  Pentatonix has some history, winning the third season of The Sing Off, to which Epic dropped them and RCA picked them up, which is strange since Sony Music owns both labels.  But this Arlington Texas based vocal group, who managed to wow the masses with their covers of other people songs, decided to do their debut album with original material. Now Accapella vocal groups are not new, The Nylons have done this, Bobby McFarren ditto and even the Manhattan Transfer, and let's not forget The Persuasions, Pentatonix updates their perfect pitch vocals with beatboxing, and other fun sounds and their songs are peppered with hip hop beats.  A Capella groups, once the novelty wears thin, end up being somewhat a freak show but Pentatonix cover's of other now music bands and artists showed they have lots of creativity to go around.  Na Na Na is this year's version of Happy, it's infectious and fun to sing along till about the 20th time the radio station plays it, then it's not so fun.  For sheer balladry Take Me Home is nice, and perhaps songs like Cracked, and Ref will be included on those soft rock radio stations.  However somebody should have told Jason Derulo to stay the hell home when he screams those high notes on If I Ever Fall In Love, Pentatonix didn't need him anyway.  For a band that relied on covers before this album, they should not give that up either.  I do admit I'm not a big fan of the the Great Sing Off TV show or The Voice, and the don't yell at me singers tend to get on my nerves in a split second (see Jason Derulo), but I do think there's some substance into this album not to get it a indifferent grade.  They're excellent vocalists and they're good at what they do.  Let's just call this a left field excursion into something I don't listen to much, worth a few plays and see what the future brings for them.  As for myself, I'll go with a more rock minded band.
Grade B-

Album Of My Youth: Kevin Salem-Soma City (Roadrunner 1994)

Salem was part of Dumptruck, a band that made a couple albums for Big Time and played on one of them before moving to a solo career.  Salem, along with Blue Mountain became the two regular rockers signed to the ultra metal Roadrunner Records in the early 90s and it's hard to fathom Kevin Salem sharing the same label with Coal Chamber and later Slipknot and it should have not worked. But Kevin put together a hell of a backing band featuring members from Roscoe's Gang (Keith Levanault, drummer extraordinaire).  If anything, Salem was compared to Freedy Johnston, since he appeared on Johnston's Can You Fly, but unlike Johnston was a bit less flashy.  Produced by Niko Bolas (Warren Zevon, Neil Young), there's a bit of garage polish on the mix and Lighthouse Keeper has a Freedy influence, but the band owes more to Crazy Horse or Roscoe's Gang, with Syd Straw providing female vocals to songs like Forever Gone or the sad ballad of Shot Down, and Diviner echoes of Crazy Horse comes through the lead guitar player.  Failed single Will would have been a nice add to the alternative rock and roll side of things.  If there's a complaint, it might be that the album does goes on a bit too long, it clocks in at 53 minutes, In A Whisper tends to wear out its welcome at six minutes plus, but it's the last song. But between that and Lighthouse Keeper it's a consistent listen throughout. This was one of those CDs that Jerry Scott played a lot at Relics Records in the 90s and if you went up there in 1994 you couldn't escape it. To which I think we were better off anyway rather than the second rate grunge crap that was going around.  In 1995 Kevin Salem opened for Blue Mountain at Gabes in Iowa City and I got to see Salem's acoustic show at B J's Records, I didn't make it to the show, my girlfriend at the time got food poisoning and we made the long trip back to Cedar Rapids.  Salem would make one more album Glimmer for Roadrunner before they dropped him and he went on to production work and raising a daughter.  He's made two albums since but from what I have read about them, they're not as rock and roll as Soma City. An underrated classic album of the 1990s from an artist that deserved a better fate.
Grade A-  


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Week In Review: Grammy 2016, The Fossiltones, Vanity

The 2016 Grammys(Whatever TM) are now in the books and Taylor Swift won album of the year with 1989, Kendrick Lamar took home 5.  And critics faves Alabama Shakes won 4. The awards that mattered most was Buddy Guy winning blues album of the year with Born To Play Guitar and Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell taking two awards home for their albums. Girl Crush by Little Big Town also won two awards for best country and country duets.  In some ways the awards mirrored the victories that Stapleton and Little Big Town won for the CMA's last fall.  The Eagles paid tribute to Glenn Frey with Take It Easy with Bernie Leadon playing the lead and Jackson Browne singing the song.  Lady Gaga did a nice Bowie tribute and the Hollywood Vampires gave Lemmy a sendoff with a riotous cover of Ace Of Spades.  The list of winners are found here:


And if you read this far, Bob Lefsetz, in repeat mode delivers this:

In the long run, while Little Big Town's Girl Crush won country single of the year, Joey + Rory's If I Needed You might be the song that outlast Girl Crush for sentimental value. Joey Feek's strong will to continue to live has been one shining light in the year already full of musicians dead or dying.  If anything Joey had managed to live to see the Grammys and see their new album released on the 12th and she made it to Valentine's Day.

Somewhere along the way, Vanity, who best known for her early 80s hits and starring on Purple Rain passed away at age 57, Kidney Failure was the cause.  Years of drug abuse and crack additions didn't help but she eventually conquered those demons and turned her life around, singing gospel music for the Lord before the Lord called her home.

In search of a song: The Fall's Hit The North:

I managed to take in seeing two bands Friday Night, Toxic Blonde played at Cedar River Landing, and The Fossiltones, at Rumors.  Led by Dawn Sedlacek aka Riot Dawn, Willie Wells, the ever busy Terry McDowell and Troy Harper, Toxic Blonde played through a scathing set list of Ozzy Osborne, and Harper is one of the best multi players out there, he can play either guitar, drums or bass and be damn near perfect, especially on the the RHCP's version of Higher Ground. Terry McDowell has been extremely busy of late, working through four bands and playing Toxic Blond Friday Night, Flex the next night and still made it as host drummer for the Sunday jam session at Rumors.  The Fossiltones, led by Joe Hutchcroft was more classic rock 60s, and pulling out a few interesting tricks, Summertime Blues (The Rush version), Baby Please Don't Go (the AC/DC version) and Rockin In The Free World.  As advertised, they are Old Guys That Do Rock.  No arguments from this side of the fence.

Another weekend and this walking flu crap still remains and made going to Iowa City a coughing hell, no matter how much cold meds I took or drinks I had.  It didn't help when buying a Blue Oyster Cult CD and getting home and finding that the wrong cd was in the jewel case.  Somebody wasn't doing their job it seems, I don't think Kirk would have accepted that one.  I finally returned the borrowed CD back to Sweet Living Antiques and ended buying a couple records in the process.  But I should have stayed home since I was still feeling miserable from the GD walking flu.

Sunday was the Valentine's Day Rumors Jam and a better than expected turnout was there.  The Acoustic Kitties hosted the show but also special guest stars were In The Attic once again and Blue Scratch, where all the band members were there, including Julie Gordon, taking over for Cate Becker, who is  on leave.  A more detailed report of that show can be found here:
Mike Love is not well liked and with good reason.  He comes off as a pompous asshole who wants to have all the attention to himself.  When he tours as part of The Beach Boys, it's only him with his hand picked crew.  When what's left of the original boys got back together for a 50th anniversary tour, Love pretty much fired them all after that was over and gone.  And being Mr. Conservative hasn't done him any favors either.  Rolling Stone dishes the dirt or tries to build up Love's ego on this interesting story. 

Last year, Popeye's opened to great acclaim and many weeks of full parking and a waiting time of a half hour to get waited upon.  Since then a new Popeye's has opened on the SW side on Edgewood Road and F Ave, unlike last year, the place has been very quiet and not having the line of cars waiting to get their tea and chicken.  The novelty has worn off it seems.

Half Priced Books closed for a couple days to rearrange the CD and LP section and add the VHS alongside.  In some ways this new and improved actually isn't new and improved, this looks like most of the HPB stores that crams the dollar LP section into one big bottom layer on the record section and the 45s are tossed in in a smaller spot.  Basically, it has been slim pickings even with this new look, and doesn't bode well in the two dollar bins, but the clerk assured me that they'll spend some time off and put the names in ABC order. I don't like the new look but what can you do?  Plus they ripped up the carpet.  The guess is that new carpeting will be on order.  After all, the carpet has been the original ever since they opened up in Marion 10 plus years ago.

I think it is safe to say that gas prices have finally reached bottom at a 1.32 a gallon, it soon will be spring which means everything will be going back up to 2 dollars a gallon and more.  I don't envision a dollar a gallon anymore in this life, too many greedy bastards and OPEC won't allow that.  But for now, it's nice to have a full tank under 20 dollars for that rare occasion.

And the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival returns back to Davenport at LeClaire Park this year after taking 2015 off due to financial concerns.  The shows will take play July 1 and 2.  Rain or shine.

Are the Iowa Hawkeyes running out of gas?  They played so so enough to beat a winless Minnesota team at home by four points and then went up to College Station to have Penn State kicked their ass 79-75 in a game which made you think it was closer as the score indicated. It wasn't.  Iowa turned the ball over 13 times, couldn't get bench help in scoring and continues to miss free throws when they need the points.  Only 6,500 Penn State fans were in attendance, to which they all stormed the basketball court after they won the game.   The lackadaisical performance of Iowa in the past three games is beginning to look like last year when they ran out of gas at this point and flopped in the tourneys.  With four games left in the regular season, Wisconsin comes to town with away game at Ohio State, a home game with Indiana and up to Ann Arbor with Michigan to conclude the regular season.  All four remaining games are not cupcakes, Wisconsin has won 7 straight, Ohio State is always tough at home and Indiana is tough anywhere, ditto Michigan.  Whatever the case, the wheels are beginning to fall off and perhaps a week off might help the Hawks refocus.  Spending extra time at the free throw line working on getting the ball through the rim might help too.

Here's a milestone.  Jim Brown turned 80 years old today.  Perhaps the best NFL running back of all time, Jim retired at the top of his game to get into movies.  Even at age 80, Jim Brown still looks like he can gain 1,000 yards.  The man is unstoppable.  Happy Birthday Jim!

Your dream girl: Ashley Graham.
(Photo: S.I.) 

In a era of skin and bones Ashley Graham managed to grab the Sports Illustrated cover of being one of the plus size models to grace the cover.  And I say that's all right by me. 
A collection of Reviews:

Peter Paul And Mary (Moving)  (Warner Brothers 1962)

Much beloved by the faithful, Peter Paul and Mary jumped on the folk music boom of the early 60s but unlike The Chad Mitchell Trio which sounds dated now, their music still sounds fresh at times.  While their second album didn't have the big hit like If I Had A Hammer or Lemon Tree and had a darker tone to it, it's still sound fabulous to me.  The sad undertone of Puff The Magic Dragon, the 60s version of Cat's In The Cradle about imaginary dragons I can relate to, growing up I didn't have many friends so I made plenty up in my mind but anyway.   Nevertheless, this album has my all time favorite PPM song, which is not Puff The Magic Dragon but rather Big Boat, a failed single that I did find a excellent copy for a quarter at the downtown Salvation Army.   And should have been included on their best of.  In the CD era, Peter Yarrow and Warner staff producer/engineer Lee Herschberg managed to make the CD sound even better than it originally came out on LP.  The recording is damn near perfect.  The songs, well they do vary, after all, it was the folk era, and there's was plenty of subpar folk songs out there too.   Fortunately  Peter Paul and Mary managed not to do too many of them back then.
Grade B+

Pousette-Dart Band-Amnesia  (Capitol 1977)

Richard Thompson must have loved this album so much that he would name his album a decade later Amnesia.  Just kidding of course.  Jon Pousette-Dart and company was a soft rock band that made a couple albums for Capitol, this one was probably their best known and best selling but the reviews were so so.  Bland country rock it was called and maybe they had a point.  The title track has a melody that could rival Poco or Pure Prairie League and Norbert Putnam who did produce the latter band gives it a nice laid back country sound.  Side 1 had the better stuff, Fall On Me managed to be heard on the ABC show Lost and Country Line has that peaceful easy feeling of light country rock.  Side 2 takes a bit more effort to stay awake, they really didn't have it them to rock out.  The sounds of easy listening late 70s.  Harmless, somewhat listenable.

Grade B

Yes-Big Generator (Atco 1987)

As much maligned as they were, the 80s version of Yes, I actually liked a lot, 90125 showed they could do pop rock with a progressive twist (Changes, It Can Happen) but Owner Of A Lonely Heart got played to death and nowadays is a channel changer.  The long awaited followup, works for side 1 and Love Will Find A Way, their  most power pop attempt ever but Final Eyes falls flat and Holy Lamb may have been left off the CD.  Almost Like Love they could have rival OMD or ABC for dance pop. The only true rocker Rhythm Of Love did nothing on the top forty charts and the title track shows a bit of funk.  My favorite two songs are the aforementioned Love Will Find A Way despite some of most cringe worthy of lyrics, with the line I eat at Chineu or whatever the hell it's called the major fart.  And the dark Shoot High Aim Low, featuring a cool Trevor Rabin acoustic lead.   Despite the two turds on side 2, it's not a total washout, but 90125 wins out on consistency and inspiration. By then Yes was going through the motions of coming up with 90125 part 2 and the tossed off line of Love Will Find A Way doomed it from being Owner Of A Lonely Heart part 2.  Things would get more chaotic with Union and Talk before Rabin opted out. The LP version seems to have a better bass mix whereas the CD version of Generator the bass was polished clean off the mix. Still a minor classic in my book.
Grade B+

Warren Zevon-Semtinental  Hygiene (Virgin 1987)

For the late Warren Z, his comeback album of 1987 was unexpected. Asylum gave him the boot after 5 albums and a best of, and he was paired up with the guys from REM, with Mike Stripe only on Bad Karma, and plate of all stars helping out.  Neil Young, Bob Dylan, the guys from the Eagles, Jorge Calderon, even George P Funk Clinton on the dance ditty Leave My Monkey Alone.  The title track should have been a hit and if there was a perfect world would sit side by side with Werewolves Of London, including mad Neil Young guitar.  In terms of sarcastic songwriter, Zevon updates things on Detox Mansion, Trouble Waiting To Happen and The Factory. Or the classic Even A Dog Can Shake Hands, done with Mike, Bill and Peter.  No wonder they ended up doing more jamming on cover songs and call it Hindu Love Gods. Next to that band of unknowns that backed him on on the live Stand In The Fire, REM was the 2nd best band for Warren Z.
Grade A-

Ornette Coleman-Ornette On Tenor (Atlantic 1962)

In other words, Free Jazz becomes Anti Jazz in five songs.  But this time out Jimmy Garrison and Ed Blackwell are the rhythm section, and for free jazz Garrison is perhaps the best bass player ever, he would later help shape up the classic lineup of John Coltrane.  Blackwell is a bit more expressive than Billy Higgins, but not as explosive as Elvin Jones.   The key track is Cross Breeding, to which starts out just like Free Jazz, but stops in favor of a extended Coleman blowout on tenor saxophone.   The improvisation (I wouldn't say the song) is shorter than Free Jazz although Free Jazz is more unified. The problem of free jazz is that the listener is forced to seek out each member of the band playing of what they're feeling at the time and for many casual listeners it will come out as white noise and notes all over the place but pick and choose what's Ornette is doing, or Don Cherry is doing and you might walk away impressed.  On the lesser songs on side 2 Eos, and Ecars I found myself more into what Jimmy Garrison was doing on the bass and how he was holding the songs more together. Or how Ed Blackwell was throwing drum rolls around Garrison while Coleman and Cherry duked it out. Compare this to Free Jazz or This Is Our Music and it falls short. But even with the shortcomings On Tenor is unlike anything else in jazz at that time and does have moments of pleasure and intense exchanges between Coleman and Cherry.  But not quite enough to call it a classic though.
Grade B+

Album of my youth: Humble Pie-On To Victory (Atco 1980)

As much as Steve Marriott was loved and worshipped, Humble Pie started out as a meeting between Steve and Peter Frampton, fresh from his time with The Herd who recorded a couple singles and albums on Fontana.  As Safe As Yesterday Is was a fine debut but put on Andrew Oldham's Immediate label, which was falling apart, but nevertheless it was a fine combination of blues, rock and folk.  I tend to favor the acoustic Growing Closer on the UK version rather than Natural Born Bugie which A&M tacked on when they issued it, along with Town and Country on the Lost And Found 2 fer.  By the time they got to A&M, Marriott was starting to throw more boogie blues into the music and after their shining moment of Rocking The Fillmore with the 12 minute jam a thon that was I Don't Need No Doctor, Frampton left for a solo career and Clem Clempson took his place. Smokin gave us Hot And Nasty and 30 Days In The Hole, and the success of Smokin' showed The Pie going more toward R and B soul, with mixed results.  The final album Street Rats on A&M was a clusterf**k, despite a cool cover of Terry Reid's Let Me Be Your Lovemaker, Marriott thought doing musak covers of The Beatles Rain and Drive My Car would be the way to go, and the record did go...into the cut out bins amid poor reviews, so they broke up.

Five years later, Marriott reformed The Pie with Jerry Shirley and they added Bobby Tench (Jeff Beck Group) and Anthony 'Snooty' Jones to replace Greg Ridley and Atlantic signed them to their Atco branch for two albums.  It actually starts out great with failed hit single Fool For A Pretty Face and a nice cover of Baby Don't You Do It.  But the problem was, Steve Marriott's voice was shot all the hell after years of screaming and Johnny Wright added a very boxy mix.  The tuneless Further Down The Road, is painful to hear Marriott try to scream out those words and in the process made Tom Waits sound more tuneful.  It didn't help that Marriott chose a cover of Otis Redding's My Lover's Prayer and couldn't sing that one either.  He did better on Over You which seemed to fit in his limited vocal range.

Some of my favorite songs off this album is You Soppy Pratt aka You Can't Do That and Get It In The End, both wouldn't make any best of collection but the song benefits from some soul sister backing and Jerry Shirley's expressive drumming.  Infatuation might have been picked for a second 45 had Fool For A Pretty Face charted higher than it's number 58 placing.    Bobby Tench, didn't offer much either, he contributed the sloppy reggae Savin It that ends side one.  And it's not worth mentioning either.

The initial grade to this album was a C plus.  It was better than Street Rats but not by much.  It's interesting to know that Humble Pie always had a great run at covers and Baby Don't You Do It is no exception.  But the sad fact remains that even in 1980  Humble Pie's time have come and gone.  They soldiered on for 1981's Go For The Throat, which has better production from Gary Lyons but they had to rely on covers of All Shook Up and even the Small Faces' Tin Soldier.  The surprise was that Atco/Atlantic thought enough to reissued them in a halfassed way on CD in the early 90s and I brought both of them to replaced a scratched copy of On To Victory.  You can live without both albums as well, without Peter Frampton or Greg Ridley, Humble Pie relied way too much on covers and half baked boogie songs.   Given that, Fool For A Pretty Face remains a closet classic.  Collectibles issued both albums as a 2 on 1 CD.  In this day and age, I still cannot recommend On To Victory as a must hear, but since I associated myself with off the wall music it has grown on me to raise the grade from a C plus to a B minus and that still might be a bit too generous to give a grade to. Whatever the case, On To Victory was a last gasp for the remaining few faithful who supported the efforts of The Pie.  Even Universal didn't think adding Fool For A Pretty Face was worth putting on their Humble Pie best ofs. I disagree, it was a much better song than the awful Rain.

Grade B-

Townedger Radio: Repeat of radio show number 11 (2/18/16)


Litany (Life Goes On)-Guadalcanal Diary
Dance With The Devil-Cozy Powell
Let There Be Drums-Sandy Nelson
I Can't See You-Tim Buckley
Another Bubble-Robyn Hitchcock
Buckeye-Johnny And The Hurricanes
Boogie-John Hartford
Hope-Mason Profit
I Know About Me (Don't Know About You) The Townedgers
Pussy Pussy Pussy-Light Crust Dough Boys
Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night-The Turtles
Ain't It Amazing Gracie-Buck Owens
Call On Me-Bread
Morning Song-Compost
Sick Of Me-Descendants
Real World-Mighty Lemon Drops
Something's Telling Me-BoDeans
Black Metallic-Catherine Wheel

Late news: the 2016 inductees to the Blues Hall Of Fame in Memphis this year.

Elvin Bishop, John Mayall, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson and the Memphis Jug Band have been named as this year's inductees into the Blues Hall Of Fame.

They'll be recognized at a ceremony in Memphis, Tennessee on May 4 - the night before the 37th annual Blues Music Awards. The artists were voted in by a panel of "blues scholars and industry veterans." The Hall Of Fame say: "Each of these musicians has carved his place in blues history. 

"Bishop's beginnings with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to his more recent recognition for the 2015 Blues Music Awards Song of the Year have elevated him to the highest stature in blues music.

"Clearwater, Johnson, and Mayall each boast careers that have spanned more than a half century, and their talent has not waned as they each continue to produce music and to perform for devoted audiences. The Memphis Jug Band's music crossed the racial divides of the first half of the twentieth century and inspired many musicians to follow in their footsteps."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Forgotten Bands Of the 80s-The Toll

Here's something that was different in 1988, a narrative rock band from Columbus Ohio, famous for The Godz and later Big Back Forty, and there was nobody quite like The Toll.  The comparisons have been U2 but The Toll owed more to The Cult and Jim Morrison and The Doors.  And Brad Circone was part Ian Asbury and part Jim Morrison.  But dig a big deeper and Circone is more influenced by the likes of Sigmund Freud, F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway to name a few. 

The Toll was marketed as alternative rock and their debut album The Price Of Progression was a 9 song debut, but at 56 minutes it was one of the longest single albums ever put out.   There are three epic narrative songs on Progression, the 10 and half minute Johnathon Toledo, which next to Mike Jackson's Thriller, the longest video ever made.  It's interesting to hear Circone do a narrative about visiting a Indian souvenir shop and telling the story of how the white men took over what used to be where Indians were free to roam and putting them in reservations.  It's one of those you have to hear to believe it.  Even more stunning was the 10 and a half minute Anna -41-Box about a abused woman plotting revenge on her abusive and evil husband.  The third 11 minute song, Living In The Valley Of Pain might be an anti religion song.   The late Mick Ronson (David Bowie) appears on the final track Stand In Winter which other music sites suggested would have made a classic track for The Toll had Geffen Records promoted them right.    The Price Of Progession, had shorter songs,  Smoke Another Cigarette and Tamara Told Me got some airplay on the old 99 plus radio station and Jazz Clone Clown is where they do sound like The Cult.  While the U2 comparison is overreaching, The Toll does have a credible rock and roll sound.  But being on a major label, while enabling them to make an epic album like The Price Of Progession and getting Steve Thompson and Mike Barbiero to produce and give it that rock and roll sound, Geffen was clueless on how to promote them.  In 1988, Geffen was more interested in Guns And Roses and Aerosmith and if The Toll was going to remain on Geffen, they had to focus more on shorter rock songs and cut out the spoken narratives since Jonathon Toledo failed to connect with the MTV generation.

The followup Sticks And Stones and Broken Bones, was issued three years later. The Toll did put together a new album but Geffen rejected it.  That album had 12 songs and while Circone did shorter narratives on songs like Happy or Hear Your Brother Calling, the only song longer than 7 minutes was the last song Sweet Misery.   While the record wasn't bad, the music was a bit all over the place and the jury is still out if Matt Wallace was the producer suited for The Toll.  There's elements of Midnight Oil, especially on the backing vocals.  It might suffer from too many songs and perhaps the major label indifference shows the band a bit frustrated.  For a second album, it pales next to the inspired sounds of The Price Of Progression but Sticks And Stones And Broken Bones holds it's own and is worth seeking out if you're into good 90s Midwestern rock and roll.

But by 1991, Geffen had a major breakout band in Nirvana, Guns And Roses had Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 and The Toll was another tax writeoff and soon after Geffen bid them bye bye.  The Toll broke up in 1992, but has reunited a couple times, in 1993 when Ronald Koal died, they did three songs and in 2011 got back together for another one off after the death of Andy Davis, radio station programmer.

 Life after rock and roll The Toll have made into the working world. Rick Selk is an attorney, Brett Mayo is energy management director at Ohio State University, Greg Bartram is a photographer and Brad Circone is an highly successful consultant and owner of Circone and Associates.

And while the guys have gone to more successful ventures, those who witness The Toll playing live have mentioned that they have always put on a great show in their time together.  In the archives of 80s rock and roll The Price Of Progression remains their classic moment in the spotlight.  And still is a must listen for those who like a bit of story telling in those 10 minute songs that The Toll was good at.

The albums:
The Price Of Progession (Geffen 1988) B+
Sticks And Stones And Broken Bones (Geffen 1991) B

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl Weekend-Bands, New Elton John, More 45s

I have been lax on checking out the local band scene due to being stuck with the flu cold crap but I did take part of Friday Night off from work to witness a couple.  The first stop was Rumors, which getting to be my second home it seems, due to jam Sundays most notably.  The band was Rattlebox, from Mount Vernon and most notably a classic rock band with a more spin on the 90s music.  From my half hour being there, they took on Green Day, Weezer and even Zombie from The Cranberries.  If I wasn't pressed for time, I would have stayed more than a half set but in the near future should they come this way again I will stay a lot longer.

The Smokin Guns are more into straight country although they have enough rock and roll sensibility as well and they do play around the more smaller towns and venues in Eastern Iowa.  I've known and jammed with John Shaw and Pat McDuffee at jam sessions around town.  John is best known for his Les Pauls that he brings to the jams and for country music, he comes across as a rock and roller.  Lead vocals are shared between Derrick Patterson and Jessie Lee Smith, who on that Friday Night at The Chrome Horse her vocals were not coming through the PA.  Patterson, sang country covers as Mountain Music, which got the crowd dancing and the Bon Jovi via Montgomery Gentry Wanted Dead Or Alive.  They been known to close their gigs with Born To Be Wild.  Certainly not country by any means but for a good time band, The Smokin Guns do rock.

Saturday Night debuted a new lineup of Lipstick Slick, the seminal hard rock band led by Katie Skogman as she broke in a new guitarist Scott Runyan.  Ted Reilly showed off his new bass guitar and the band soar through some high energy loud rock and roll, tearing through metal hits of Judas Priest, BOC, Skid Row to name a few.   Rick Clay came later in the show after I left and he joined in the fun.  Next week Dunshee Moon and Toxic Blonde invade CRL,  the weekend bands are Sky Pilot on Friday and Fossiltones on Saturday at Rumors.

Super Bowl Jam at Rumors featured an all star lineup of Tim Duffy, Dan Johnson, Terry McDowell and Guitar Dave Bonham (shown above) with yours truly and Seth Williams providing drum relief for the big guy.  I sat in on four songs, most notably a couple of Beatles songs that Dan Johnson knew and a reworking of Cortez The Killer for about 8 minutes.  Then Ernest returns to do the Twist and his Bring It On Home/Love Your Woman medley.  Kudos to whoever provided the sloppy joes and pulled pork sandwiches for the jammers and the small crowd that turned out.  Next week, The Acoustic Kitties with Terry and Tim return.  As for the super bowl, defense won big time as Denver defeated Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 24-10.  In the battle of number 1 and number 2 draft picks, number 2 Von Miller was the better as Cam got sacked 7 times and Denver's defense was tough as nails.  Peyton Manning won his 200th NFL game in the process.   In the basketball side of things Iowa outlasted Illinois 77-65 in a off/on game that they had a 20 point lead but Illinois managed to chop the lead down to 11 before Iowa finally put them away.

The big new release this week is Elton John Wonderful Crazy Nights (Mercury/Island) and of course there's plenty of three star reviews out there, Elton mailing it in once again bla blah.  For somebody who's 68 and not too far from 70, Elton John still puts plenty of thought and craft into his albums, the problem was that on the album with Leon Russell The Union, a few songs were ruined by some soul sister who COULD NOT STOP YELLING, despite that record being a highlight for Brother Leon.  The Diving Board, while okay, had echoes of the 1997 The Big Picture, way too many ballads and not enough rock and roll and where the hell was Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson?  Fortunately, both of them are back along with Ray Cooper (on a few songs) and even though John Henry (T Bone) Burnett's production lacks the shine of  Gus Dudgeon who produced the classics of E.J.  Wonderful Crazy Nights finally shows Burnett fitting in with E.J.  At 10 songs totaling 41 minutes, Wonderful Crazy Nights doesn't overstay its welcome unlike the previous two John/Burnett offerings.  While the biggest complaints from the 3 star albums reviews  said E.J. was sounding too comfortable, I think having Davey and Nigel on board inspires E.J. and the music is much more rewarding.  And Elton does rock with caution but it's still nice to hear Johnstone's 12 string lead on Claw Hammer and the two harder rocking songs Looking Up and Guilty Pleasure, which are no means even close to in your face of The Bitch Is Back or Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting but they're uptempo enough to make me enjoy hearing them.   Even the ballads such as Blue Wonderful and A Good Heart could be heard on the soft rock station if KDAT ever played them.  Which is doubtful.  Even though I hear elements of Genesis' That's All in In The Name Of You, and the title track sounds a bit like I'm Still Standing, the fact is that E.J. sounds more inspired and it does sound like he's having fun this time out.  There's no guarantee that with Nigel and Davey getting up there in years they'll be back for the next album but if they are, I'll be waiting to hear that too.  Wonderful Crazy Nights is his best since 2001's Songs From The West Coast.  To which E.J. gets that extra fourth star, which BTW goes for the 10 song album.  The deluxe version has two more songs to which I have not heard.  Also new, is the super deluxe reissue of Black Sabbaths first three albums and Past Lives gets a official WB release.   Unless you're hardcore for alternative mixes and slightly revised lyrics, you can pass on this latest money grab.

The bluegrass awards were held this week; Winners are posted here.

It's all about me:  Looks like Peter Cetera's triumph return to Chicago has been derailed once again. He offered to sing 25 or 6 To 4 in a different key and play bass for the final song at the rock hall induction but the rock hall declined to accommodate him.  I'll give Peter this, he made a nice debut album then went gooey and got a number 1 hit with Amy Grant, the second album sucked, the third album had some good moments and I can't you how the rest went.  As for Chicago they still sold out the casinos and festivals they have played in since Peter moved on.  Can't play nice keep your ego home and get your rock hall award mailed to you.  Cetera did managed to sing the harder rocking Chicago songs of the 70s before David Foster pussed things up and make Pete a household ballads star.  Nowadays he's more Air Supply  than rock and roller and he's basically semi retired anyway.  Until he's in need of money and decides to do new versions of Next Time I Fall In Love or If You Leave Me Now and hocks the CD on late night TV.  To which if any is sold is in the dollar bins at the local Stuff Etc.  Even Danny Serpentine, the original drummer will be there with what's left of Chicago and Terry Kath in spirit.  Peter can stay at home and pout.

All about me 2:  Mike Portenoy, who left Dream Theater on his own free will continues to cry about returning to the band in the future and perhaps so that might work, but Mike Mangini is just as good as drummer if not better and not so egotistical.  Once in a while the folks at Anti Music will pay Portenoy a visit and Mike will mention things like he'd "welcome" a return, probably on his own demands.  Life goes on and Dream Theater has a new album to promote and that they will.  Portenoy has his own 4 bands he hangs out with and gives pricey drum workshops at your local Guitar Center.  There are drummers that make you want to take up drums, Neil Peart before all that drum action taking a toll on him and getting tendinitis, old timers like Buddy Rich, newbies like Galvin Harrison. Portenoy is one that sucks the life out of you,  he's great but most of what I heard from him gives me a headache. Plus he's not so nice when you see him at a meet and greet.  Which makes second hand news at Anti Music for about a line or two before you move on to the next order of business.

All about me 3: Kayne West, new video called Famous about wanting to get into Taylor Swift's pants after crashing her award years ago.  He'll do anything for attention.  In further Kanye happenings, he didn't like Pitchforks 9 out of 10 review of his latest crap, he tweeted it should be rated a 30 on a 10 scale and that white magazines shouldn't review black music.  Here at Record World we'll honor his request of not reviewing his shitty music.  Great black music remains Motown, Stax, jazz, Otis Redding, Mother's Finest, Bus Boys, even Body Count.  Jive music is Kanye's auto tuned glop set up as rap music, it ain't rock and roll.  Go beg for more money from rich white folks Mr. Kadashian.

Last weekend, was the winter dance party at the Surf ballroom and it was one of the most special nights they ever had with surviving members of The Crickets were there.  Jerry Allison who wasn't present during the last night Buddy Holly played but Tommy Allsup who did play 57 years ago was there, joined in the fun as well.  This show was in part a tribute to Joe Maudlin who passed away a year ago.  Gordon Payne who was part of the 1980s version of the Crickets sang and guest stars ranged from Tonio K to the legendary Albert Lee, Keith Allison and the Killer Vees, who were without Bobby Vee who has been in declining health over the years. The Thursday show featured Martha Reeves and The New Vandellas, The Coasters and Tommy Allsup, and Friday had Flash Cadillac.

New music website: Spill Magazine.  Perhaps the new version of SPIN for new bands. Plenty of reviews to go around and check out:

Your dream date: From OUTLAW via Facebook.  You can look but you better not touch.

If you live in the Chicago area, you're in luck to watch plenty of the 2016 Chicago Cubs as they build upon their successful 2015 season.  If you live elsewhere and got this USA shit replica called WGN superstation,you're screwed out of any sporting events.  Rub it in WGN America.

The one thing I haven't comment lately is cheap oil and I never seen prices this low since the 1990s or before Idiot 43 oil president became supreme leader.  I have seen prices as cheap as 1.39 and they tell me Oklahoma City had it for 1.11 and cheaper.  It's nice to fill the car up and have it under 20 dollars.  But rest assured if Eduardo Rafael Cruz or Dumbass Trump became head of state, we'll be back up to 4 bucks as quickly as it came down.  After poor showings, Chris Christie has gone back to the buffet section in town and Carly Fionna quit as well.  I don't think she liked me meeting up with her to say Vote for Bernie in Mount Vernon a couple weeks ago, but life goes on.

Passings:  Dan Hicks, died from liver cancer.  He was 75. Better known as Dan Hicks with His Hot Licks Band that recorded for Blue Thumb, Epic and Surfdog.

Goofy cat picture, courtesy of Callie Rustbucket, surveying the world from her throne after being in the garage for about two weeks.  It's safe to say that Callie has enjoyed the comforts of a warm garage rather than hanging in sub zero temps in the shed and back of the pick up truck.  She's been very self sufficient and has made good use of the litter box that was provided in January. Come springtime she'll want to be back in the yard again but for now, she's a quiet tenant in the garage to which I have to check off and on.

Singles Going Steady Medley (Half Priced Books Six Pack)

Jelly Jam-George (Wild Child) Butler    Jewel 793 (1965)

Little known soul blues classic from the pen of Willie Dixon and came out on Stan Lewis' Jewel label.   Dixon probably produced this as well.  In the 1990s Stan Lewis got in the CD business by putting out a few blues comps.  Out of the five Paula/Jewel best of blues, none of them has this song on it.  Guess you can call it a lost northern blues classic.

Come As You Are-Peter Wolf (EMI America B-8350)  1987  #15

Legendary front man for J. Geils Band and then went solo, Wolf's music career has been a trend of R and B and rock and roll with mixed results.  Lights Out went number 12 and this song was the second and last of the top 15 hits Peter has.  Come As You Are sounds more like a Springsteen ripoff but does have a catchy sing along chorus line.  I remember the CD being one of the first to get thrown to the cutout files, and what I recall it was okay, nothing flashy but nothing really stood out outside of the hit title track.  Problem was Wolf was on EMI America, a label that never had much luck breaking new artists, they dropped the ball on Jason And The Scorchers, The Del Lords and even David Bowie got bad promo.  Wolf would bounce around the labels making decent albums, but he'll always be known as the lead singer for J Geils regardless of what he does.  Yet another song that while making the top 20, classic rock radio doesn't play anymore. 

Pushbike Song-The Mixtures  (Sire Polydor SI-350) 1971  #44

At that time, the highest charting single from Seymore Stein's Sire label, which was more into progressive rock than the punk of The Ramones five years later but in the early days, Stein would have distribution through the likes of London Records and Polydor before standing on it's own two feet via Gulf and Western and later ABC.  This song is a cheaper version of Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime.  Or Jug band music.

Birthday-Underground Sunshine (Stardust Records (Canada) URC-1212) 1969 #26

For many years I was familiar with this version of The Beatles song, which I think I liked this version back in 1969 but nowadays it's sounds a bit dated and too bubblegumish.  Another one and done record just like the Mixtures.

I Got A Wife-The Mark IV  (Mercury 71403)  1959  #24

One of the novelty 45s of the late 50s, uptempo rock and roll and a vocal group in the tradition of The Crew Cuts but less stuffy, and this song being of the consequences of having a talkative wife, including speeded up chipmunk chatter that sounds like your better half chatting away.   For future references look up You Talk Too Much by Joe Jones and later George Thorogood and compare notes. Next up, The Goofers Goofy Dry Bones.....

Doing The Popcorn-Kim Melvin (Hi 2160) 1969

I found a better copy of this song to replace the one I have in my collection.  While this 45 is somewhat rare on the Northern Soul sound, I have actually found a couple copies in various stores, but the Half Priced Books one was in better shape.  Melvin Kimmonds aka Kim Melvin recorded two singles for Hi, and the guess of who is playing the drums is either Al Jackson Jr or Howard Grimes, the latter I'm guessing is the drummer.  The song is based upon either The Tighten Up or Shotgun, the beat is too straight for the James Brown version of Popcorn.    B side Keep The Faith sounds unfinished and could have made an impact on the pop charts had Melvin added more thought to the lyrics or the Hi Section playing in tune.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Black History Month-Mother's Finest

It's been said that black musicians don't play rock and roll anymore.  The majority of them are either R and B autotuned chipmunks (although Leon Bridges might be the only thing close to R and B as I knew it) or gangsta rappers, at least Body Count qualifies as rock and roll although most black America has no use for them.

Once in a great while, you will get black folk that are into rock and roll.  Jimi Hendrix is considered the best rock and roll guitarist when he was alive, Bo Diddley pioneered the shave and a haircut/two bits jungle rhythms into Bo Diddley the song.  Arthur Lee and Love, for a time was considered the Velvet Underground of The West Coast. But when rap exploded through, most opted to bad poetry and thug life on pirated beats.  There were exceptions: Living Colour, Follow For Now, Eric Gales and Justin Warfield to name a handful, but overall black players simply didn't rock.  In the mid 1970s a band from Atlanta was signed to RCA Records, known as Mother's Finest.  A somewhat integrated band with Barry Borden on drums (he later moved on to Molly Hatchet/The Outlaws/Marshall Tucker Band) and Gary (Moses) Moore, who has rejoined the band from time to time. But the main force of the band was Joyce "Baby Jean" Kennedy's soulful voices and Glenn Murdock's counterpoint vocals.  After the one off album for RCA, Mother's Finest would sign with Epic Records for what is considered their classic period.

The S/T album was well received, with the un P.C. Niggizz Can't Play Rock And Roll and minor hits Rain and Fire but Gave You All The Love goes on way too long at seven and a half minutes. Another Mother Further is much better, perhaps their best overall album with failed single Baby Love and Mickey's Monkey with the guys actually taking the riff from Led Zeppelin's Custard Pie and reshaping it into their own way of Mickey's Monkey.  This record shows that M.F. could funk it up and rock hard at the same time.  The late Duane Roland of Molly Hatchet speaks highly of this album, calling it one of the best Southern Rock albums he's ever heard.  Which is saying a lot.

Mother Factor, on the other hand slows the whole thing down and while it's not bad, there's far too many ballads and not enough rock and roll, though there were some fine songs as Watch My Stylin' and Give It Up.  Changing producers from Tom Werman to Skip Scarbrough didn't help either.  In 1979, Mother Finest Live was issued and showing off that M.F. these dudes could rock out with the best and Baby Jean giving Grace Slick a run for the money with Somebody To Love and Mickey's Monkey coming close to heavy metal.  A excellent live document of this radically funk/rock band.

Their time at Epic ended soon afterwards, and M.F. took their act over to Atlantic for Iron Age.  And a change of producers once again to Jeff Glixman (Kansas).  On this album M.F. abandoned their funk rock to metal rock and they could rock with the best of them but the songs sounded practically the same.  Perhaps they tried too hard to go metallic.  Nevertheless, this would be their only album for Atlantic, and Barry Bordin opted for Molly Hatchet.  In 1989 Capitol put out If Looks Could Kill, and although it featured the band, this is basically a Joyce Kennedy solo album with a couple bonus tracks by Glenn Murdock, but it sounds more like Chaka Khan.  After that debacle and another label change, Black Radio Won't Play This came out on Scotty Brothers and it's the hardest rocking album they ever put out,  Iron Age came close to hard rock but Black Radio was better produced and had better songs (Like A Negro, Attitude).  And of course the album title was true, black radio wouldn't play this, it was too rock and roll.  Alas white corporate radio didn't play it either, rock and roll segregation radio.  Hell, Living Colour couldn't get much airplay after the novelty of Vivid and Cult Of Personality wore off.  Like Atlantic before, Scotty Brothers let them go after the failure of this album.

Since then, Joyce Kennedy and Glenn Murdock has kept Mother's Finest going through various changes and on various independent labels from abroad.  Which means most of their albums are hard to find and expensive to get via Amazon.  Sony Music has kept Another Mother Further in print, while the others have come and gone as well.  Wounded Bird for a time, issued Iron Age and the RCA and S/T album as well.  Razor And Tie put out Not Yer Momma's Funk, the Very Best which cherry picks the good (Baby Love, Mickey's Monkey) and the bad (Gave You All The Love) and focus on the Epic years and leaves off the rest.  Sony Music has had the budget best of Rock Your Soul in print and cuts out the excess filler cuts to make it a nice cheat alternative to the Razor And Tie comp.   Raven Records has all four of the Epic albums you can get as a 2 CD set.  And probably is the best buy, considered you would have to pay exorbitant prices to get the out of print Epic CDs or LPs.

Black or white, Mother's Finest was a band who could open for a major band and blow them off the stage and perhaps they were better seen live then in the studio.  Even today, 40 years after the fact, they still hold their own as one of the finest rock/funk bands that nobody has ever heard of.  Yet another band that Jann Wanner has no idea exists and won't let them into the Jann Wanner Rock and Roll HOF.

The classic era Mother Finest albums.

Mother's Finest (Epic 1976-Wounded Bird) B
Another Mother Further (Epic 1976)  A-
Mother Factor (Epic 1978) B-
Live (Epic 1979)  A-
Iron Age (Atlantic 1981) B-
If Looks Could Kill (Capitol 1989) C
Black Radio Won't Play This (Scotty Brothers 1992) B+

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Week In Review: And The Circus Leaves Town, Pere Ubu

And so, another Caucus has come and gone.  The logic of seeing countless, endless political bullshit commercials, unknown phone numbers hanging up and not leaving messages about their wonderful Koch sucker promising bigger and better things, and the Trump letters going into the garbage bin and back the local landfall are gone, which means we're spared of seeing anymore political bullshit adds for about three weeks.  In the end, Hillary and Bernie ended up in a tie, although Ms. Clinton claimed victory in 6 straight coin flips and rigged a few caucus places along the way.  For all the grandstanding and great thinking of Donald Trump, he came in second behind Xenophobic spick Rafael Cruz, or Ted, but in my book Rafael will be his due name.  Lesser of the evils Marco Rubio came in a close third.  In the meanwhile, Martin O'Malley, a distant third in the Democratic race decided to hang it up.  He really couldn't compete with the Hilary money making machine, he did have some great ideas but he was kept in the dark most of the time.  Also Rand Paul and Mike the Hack Huckabee dropped out of the race, the former Arkansas slum lord, who did win the Caucus in 2008 I think (or 2012, Rick Santorium won the other and was barely a blip on the screen).   Which if you look at the whole picture is that whoever wins the GOP Iowa nod is basically the kiss of death, which one hopes will be the fate for Rafael Cruz, which rhymes with douche.  Donald Trump is a blowhard, but Cruz is more dangerous and if he becomes POTUS, this world will not be for long and the USA can be qualified as a third world country.  After all, the stay at home vote in the 2014 elections are cause for the do nothings that are in Congress.  But if you look at the whole picture, the Iowa Caucuses are worthless, since Iowa is not a primary.  The only thing good is that sometimes Iowans can weed out the worthless, such as Mike Huckabee who didn't show up last week at a music gig.  But then again, we'll be stuck with Rafael Cruz ready to carpet bomb ISIS and go after poor people on welfare, but turning a blind eye to the Corporate Lawyers and Career Politicians who are robbing us taxpayers blind.

While I have no time to spare to hear the latest garbage that is Bro Country or poor grammar rap pop, the latest scour on the horizon is some white boy wanna be black hack known as Kane Brown.  In this wasted era of pretending of country being the new rap and rock has fallen upon these deaf ears and is best to be left to the generation 30 or under.  The dudes behind Farce The Music have done a great job in exposing hacks like Kane Brown or Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line and even made a decade long jabbing at Gary Levox of Rascal Flatts.  It's bad enough to shake my head and change the channel every GAC video I see of some backward baseball hat wearing fool driving pickup trucks and chasing scantly clad 16 year olds.  But alas, this type of shitty music is here to stay;  I chose to ignore it and leave it to Farce The Music to let people know about how awful this so called country music really is.

Another music death:  Jon Bunch, singer of Sense Field died, he was 45.  He may have chosen to end his life.  Also the passing of Jimmy Bain was revealed he had lung cancer, he died last week at age 68.

Joe Dowell, pop singer who had a hit with Wooden Heart for Smash Records in 1961 passed away from a heart attack Thursday (the 4th)  He was 76.

Joe Alaskey, the voice over for Looney Tunes and Bugs Bunny passed away at age 63.  He can be heard as the voice over for Foghorn Leghorn and Yosemite Sam in Who Framed Roger Rabbit as well.  Another cancer victim: 

Maurice White, the leader of Earth, Wind And Fire died Thursday (the 4th) after a lengthy battle with Parkinson's Disease, he was 74.  White started years ago as house drummer for Chess Records as well, playing drums behind Billy Stewart's 1966 hit Summertime.  EWF was originally signed to Warner Brothers but their major hits were on Columbia with That's The Way Of The World, Shining Star and the 1973 hit Evil.

57 years ago, you all know too well about that ill fated plane ride that took Buddy Holly, J P Richardson and Richie Valens into the Great Beyond. Dion was part of that ridiculous Rock and Roll Winter Party From Hell that some shit head promoter decided to zig zag these guys going to Davenport than to Duluth and then back down to Minnesota and then Clear Lake in same days, hopefully is burning in Hell for their devious actions.  Dion managed to talk about his experiences on that tour in a hour long segment that he has up on his website or you tube. 

After taking a half year off, Tad has returned with a couple new entries into his Back Up Plan blog. It's nice to see him back in action again.

2000 Man has been also back in action as well.  His latest review is the 2 album set of Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything.  I had the 2 LP set that Rhino came out, but there was a awful scratch on one of the sides and I traded it back in.  Down the road Goodwill had both CDs for 3.88 so I wasn't out of a copy.  It's a sprawling album even for 2 records it's all over the place but it has the hit I Saw The Light and an extended jam of Hello It's Me, but my favorite side is the one that Todd is doing the studio jam.  Rundgren's career is all over the fucking place and you really have to pick and choose the albums as he puts out.  A Wizard/A True Star is one of those either or albums that will try your patience and the 2 LP Todd is where a lotta folk got off the bus but as far as I know Something/Anything might be his best overall album.

So much for the big Snowageddon event that they predicted this week.  We ended up with about three inches all told, with most of the heavy stuff staying north and west of here.  If anything the grouchy old groundhog from Puxatory didn't see his shadow, a early spring perhaps?

Still suffering from this shit flu, but I did managed to celebrate my birthday with my best friend going to Ruby's Pizza in down town Cedar Rapids.  They have oddball hours and they are closed on Sundays and a strange 5 to 9 on Saturday but their pizza is excellent, and even better when you mircowave it the next day.  We then watch the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders hockey team defeat Youngstown in overtime 4-3.  It had a few major fights, the one at the end of the second period turned out to be a in your face smackdown, with a couple players getting game misconduct and thrown out of the game.  As much fun as it was, I didn't think much of bleacher seats and the overcrowding and Deb, my best friend's wife was complaining about a couple girls with bad hygiene and some dude overpowering us with his Musk perfume.

Still feeling like shit, I did manage to pop in at the Sunday Rumors Popcorn Jam in a show of support but passed on playing.  As always when Brook Hoover shows up, he pulls more obscure songs out to play.  Dan Johnson, Jon Wilson  and Tim Duffy were the other major players.  Highlights was Baggy Spandex playing their songs,  Dan Hartman and Herm from Kick It doing a few songs and Joe Hovencourt of The Fossiltones channeling his inner David Lee Roth but the highlight was Ernest and older looking black guy, popping on stage and wowing the crowd with his version of The Twist and later topping that with a very soulful medley of Bring It On Home.  I haven't heard that much soul in person since Otis Redding passed away years ago.   As with previous jams, Jon Wilson brings the minimal of drums there, one bass drum, snare hi hat and cymbal, basically enough to keep things simple.   Perhaps sometime in the future I'll get to host the drummer jam but for now I have to start getting well in order to do that.  The Fossiltones play Rumors this Friday Night.  Smokin Guns with John Shaw invade The Chrome Horse as well and the beloved Past Masters are in Riverside.

Selected Discography;

Pere Ubu-The Fontana Years 1988-1993

The oddballs from Akron/Cleveland have been instrumental in making some of the most off the wall stuff since Captain Beefheart, but they kinda broke up around 1985 or 1986 before coming back in the late 1980s and made what I think is their most accessible albums, beginning with the avant garde via garage The Tenement  Year on Enigma. If Captain Beefheart ever fronted The Talking Heads it would have sounded like Something's Gotta Give or David Thomas making fart noises on the trombone on George Had A Hat.  Even if The Tenement Year owes more to Dub Housing than modern rock, it is perhaps their best of the four albums that was released between 1988 and 1993, still this record has more art rock than alternative. And they could come up with a college single with We Have The Technology.

The next album Cloudland, finds them signing on to Polygram on the revised Fontana label and they work with an outside producer with Steven Hague (The Human League, Depeche Mode) and David Thomas made some of his more dance friendly and alt rock songs beginning with Breathe which should have been played more often than not. With second drummer Chris Cutler in tow, his drumming with Scott Krauss was a bit more united than the all over the place of the previous album.  At times Pere Ubu can challenge The Underworld with dance type music, Why Go It Alone or Chase The Sun shows that but perhaps the mad fun is this the anti disco dance number Love Love Love.  And Allen Ravenstine's oddball noises fit perfectly into place.  But his leaving after that album Pere Ubu didn't recover very well.  Worlds In Collision starts out great with Oh Catherine and I Hear They Smoke The Barbuque, but the misplace of Turpentine! at track 3 derails the whole album and while there are some nice numbers (Mirror Man, Cry Cry Cry, Winter In The Firelands)  World In Collision is their weakest album of this era.

Polygram in the US bailed on the final album The Story Of My Life, and Imago issued it instead of Merucry/Fontana (in the UK it did come out on Fontana) and The Story Of My Life is their most straight ahead rock and roll effort beginning with the wonderful Wasted and Come Home.  There is an art rock moment in Postcard.  With the departure of Allen Ravenstine and Eric Drew Feldman it is Jim Jones' guitar work that stands out and by then Chris Cutler departed, leaving Scott Krauss as the sole drummer again.  Apocalypse Now, is a 1991 gig in Chicago that Thirsty Ear issued and it shows what Pere Ubu sounded like at that time.  One of those oddball CDs that Half Priced Books threw out in the dollar bins it's a nice artifact of that place and time of a band that was trying to present themselves as worthy to be included in alternative music but Pere Ubu  was throwing a curve or two just to be different.   With Tony Maimone and Scott Krauss departing, David Thomas kept Pere Ubu going with various lineups and changes and continues to make albums over the years but for myself, The Fontana Era was the band's most idealistically realized and perhaps most listener friendly.

The Albums:
The Tenement Year  (Enigma 1988) A
Cloudland (Fontana 1989) A-
Worlds In Collision (Fontana 1991) B+
The Story Of My Life (Fontana/Imago 1993) A-
Apocalypse Now (Thirsty Ear 1999) A-

All things Ubu: