Monday, June 27, 2016

Week In Review: Passings, Bar B Q Roundup, Best of 2016

Bob Brooks for many years was the voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes and Sports news at KCRG AM before making stops at KHAK and KMRY.  He was also seen at the Cedar Rapids Kernels games up till his passing.  For 70 years Brooks was the voice of sports here, our version of Paul Harvey. Friday he passed away at age 89.




We are well into the concerts and music scene here and the Bar B Q Roundup provides a good place to see bands, although I'm not crazy of paying 15 dollars for overpriced sandwiches and dinners. In the end, I picked Cowboys for the best smells, but I am curious of how a cooked Snickers bar would taste.  Wooden Nickel Lottery was playing when I got there and they were promoting their new album Down The Line (reviewed later).  Rick Gallo's vocals seem more and more like Vince Gill this time out, and even if there was a sparse crowd there, WNL put on a great show.  Rich Toomsen remains one of the best guitar players out there and of course Jess on bass make a formidable couple. But it was nice and super cool of them to let me hang with them afterwards and talk of the new album with their drummer Delayne Stallman  before they packed up and went home.  The above picture is taken when they were opening up for Samantha Fish in Davenport 6/16/16.  Later bands were Red Door and their mostly modern classic rock covers and FLEX with their grunge classic rock, but I had other commitments so I didn't stick around to see the JC Project, heading to see Julie And The Mad Dogs at Hot Shots in Anamosa.  Some good news to mention that talking to Julie and drummer Mike that the band will continue onward, that the July 8th Rumors show will not be their last.  Mike also plays in West 66, and when the Mad Dogs have open dates, he plays with that band.  They return to Hot Shots next Friday Night.

Death never takes a day off and seems to be working overtime.  The list is as follows.

Jim Hickman was part of my favorite era of the Chicago Cubs, the era of the  1969 era through 1973, but he played for the hated Mets and The St Louis Cardinals as well.  He died on Saturday at age 79 after a lengthy illness. His best season was 1970 when he batted .315 and hitting 32 and driving in 115. He also made his only All Star appearance, hitting the game winning base hit to which Pete Rose bulldozed over Ray Fosse. Hickman continued to have productive season in 1971 and 1972 before injuries caught up with him and he was later traded to St Louis to where he played one season and retired.  His best years were with the Cubs.  RIP. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hickmji02.shtml

Sir Mack Rice, the guy who wrote Mustang Sally, one of the all time most played song at bar gigs and popcorn jams, died Monday from Alzheimer's, he was 82.  Mack also recorded for Stax Records and wrote other songs, namely Respect Yourself for the Staple Singers. http://www.commercialappeal.com/entertainment/mustang-sally-author-sir-mack-rice-dies-3648f02a-7c4d-39a1-e053-0100007f3fb2-384620521.html

Pat Summit, the female version of John Wooden, Tennessee's  legendary coach (Pat that is), passed away from Alzheimer's at age 64.  Never had a losing season in her career.

Buddy Ryan, former defense great coach for the Jets, Vikings and Bears and later became coach of Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals died Monday, he was 82.  His 1985 Chicago Bears defense may have been the all time best defense ever.

Scotty Moore, the guitarist that changed the music world when he and Bill Black joined forces with Elvis Presley to make those legendary Sun Recordings died after a long illness Tuesday.  He was 84. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/obituaries/musical-icon-elvis-guitarist-scotty-moore-dies-365c85ed-0ecb-5a13-e053-0100007f186c-384774031.html

Rob Wasserman, acoustic bass player for Ratdog and famed for his Duets albums in the 1990s died after a lenghty bout with cancer, he was 64. http://www.jambase.com/article/famed-bassist-rob-wasserman-1952-2016

Susan Thomas, Facebook friend of mine who helped me in Bejeweled Blitz by giving lots of coins, died from a long illness on Sunday.  She was 56. http://www.dicksonfuneralhome.com/sitemaker/sites/memsol.cgi?user_id=1820981 


Among the living...

Bill Kopp has been one of the resources of keeping up to date with good music.  This time out he writes a cool piece on Warren Haynes here: http://wncmagazine.com/feature/music_man_in_motion 

I don't pay attention to the radio anymore.  Corporate radio is like the major labels, the usual pile of steaming poo rehashed time and time again but the folks at Saving Country Music continue to torture themselves to get the worst songs of the year on country radio.  Why Thomas Rhett's Vacation didn't make the cut remains a mystery but these top ten turds of the year will make you bleach your ears out.  Thank God for the car discman. http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/the-worst-country-songs-of-2016-so-far/

As I get less impressed with new music, there are some decent albums out there worthy of my best of list. Ace Frehley's Origins Vol. 1 and Cheap Trick's latest proved that the old farts can still rock with the best of them and even though the backlash on Foghat continuing with Roger Earl only remaining from the original lineup putting the new album out under the Foghat banner, I still think it really rocks hard; Bryan Bassett has been part of the band for 25 plus years and new kid Charlie Huhn around for 15.  While Craig McGregor is not Tony Stevens, Craig is considered to be the better of the two and any recording with him accounts for serious boogie. I still say even the original lineup was prone to make blunders once in a while but Under The Influence might be their best effort since Stone Blue, but even that assessment will not change the stubborn public's mind of No Lonesome Dave No Foghat.  The Monkees Good Times is them coming full circle and if this is their last album, then they will go out with a bang, even though Davy Jones is no longer around, except on old recordings.  The Dawn At First Light, shows Sean Hayes finally embracing the jam band groove on four lenghty but fun songs.  Mondo Drag-The Occultation Of Light is part desert rock and part progressive rock and works, and Wooden Nickel Lottery's Down The Line is straight ahead blues rock with a bit of country leanings.  Those are the best of the year so far.

I try not to buy subpar albums but sometimes that I do like will stumble from time to time. Black Stone Cherry's Kentucky shows them breaking away from Roadrunner Records meddling only to find that they're meddling into so so Shinedown or Soundgarden.   Goo Goo Dolls Boxes, suggests that they should hang it up, they have gone from Replacements followers to Mumford And Sons and that's a big fall from grace.  The jury is still out on the new Jayhawks album but perhaps a couple more listens will reveal if it's a keeper or donated to Goodwill.  And more bands are going to Digipaks which really messes up the CD library.  I know about the new Neil Young and the Shawn Colvin/Steve Earle album but they don't seem to really grab my attention or head down to Best Buy to waste five minutes to see if they're in stock.   Reissues are getting fewer and fewer and even if Stephen Wilson is bought in to remix and remastered their albums, the fifth reissuing campaign of Emerson, Lake And Palmer's catalog  is not cost effective.   Unless you like comparing the Razor and Tie, or Rhino or Victory's version of Love Beach, you should consider getting yourself a life.

Happy birthday to Brooksie! She's always a sweetheart in this old Crabb's heart.

The new Neil Young album Earth is out and somebody from Newsweek managed to score a interview and waste Mr. Young's time and hung up on him.  I'm still working up the courage to even listen to it. http://www.newsweek.com/neil-young-earth-hung-473820



It doesn't seem like it but Cedar Rapids recorded almost 8 inches of rain this month, most of it was the 5 inch deluge that hit the area last week.   Waterloo recorded their 7th wettest June on record but for the most part a lot of the rain was hit and miss.  The rain here in Anamosa was 4 and half inches all month.  We're at level one on the drought monitor.  Once July rolls around it'll be even more drier. But of course that's subject to change.

Mahoney's in Cedar Rapids has been that neighborhood Irish bar that people would come in and have a beer or two and have fun.  Local musician Dick Prall has purchased the place and will rename it Dick's Tap and Shakeroom on July 11.  Prall, who has issued a few albums on his own says that there will not be any changes to the building.  The story is somewhere in this link http://myemail.constantcontact.com/CBJ-on-Small-Business.html?soid=1102751454250&aid=jM4ot-lZ3EI#story1

And to our AZ readers, it's monsoon season time.  Hope you guys get some rain and less lightning. Travis Neely (Travisshoots) really timed this little storm just right.



Record Reviews for those who are looking for new music or like reading reviews.

Wooden Nickel Lottery-Down The Line (Violet Isle 2016)

Behind the scenes of the music scene in this area, great music is thriving, but you have to look for it since radio won't play it.  Today's bands continue to master their craft and sound to stand out in a crowded world of bad autotuned songs, second grade bro country garbage and forth rate awful rap.  If you're playing in a blues band, you're pretty much regulated to wineries, specialized blues bars, scoring the early time slot at a festival, but if you're real lucky and real good you might get to open up for a established blues artist.  Blues artists and bands, I tend to pick and choose carefully, it's one thing to copy the sounds of Stevie Ray Vaughn or Joe Bonamossa, it's another to somehow create your own sound and vision.   If you have follow this blog, I have on occasion sing the praises of WNL and Rich Toomsen's guitar playing.  A few years ago, he was in Pearls4Swine, a band that had a sound like Primus and like no other in this town, but lately he and his wife Jess have dived headon into the blues, with lead singer Rick Gallo (who plays rhythm guitar) and drummer Delayne Stallman who lays down a workmanlike beat, economical and to the point.  On My Way, their first album showed what they could do with the blues and rock, but on Down The Line, they have come into their own.  A bit more varied than their first album, Toomsen does add a bit of Little Feat to Bad Gone Good, the sing along chorus line to Can't Be Wrong reminds me if Vince Gill played the blues, this would be the end result.  And Rich does show off some guitar flash in Throw It Down and The Open Road.  However, the best track is Nickels And Dimes, based on one of the best guitar riffs I have heard in a long time, and one of the reasons why Rich is highly regarded around the area as guitarist extraordinaire.  It may sound like Johnny Lang but there's a Stevie Ray Vaughn influence as well.  Even among guitar players such as Billy Lee Janey or his son Bryce, Craig Erickson, Dennis McMurrin and Jason Christensen to name a few, Rich Toomsen's name is high up on that list.  If the major labels are lacking in great albums, you have to dig deeper on the CD Baby Circuit or independent labels to find real blues rock, and WNL Down The Line, is a more looser sounding effect that improves on their first album.  This might be my favorite album of 2016.
Grade A-

Another review: http://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/07/wooden-nickel-lottery-down-line.html

Bun E. Carlos-Greetings From Bunezuela!  (E One 2016)

Earlier in the year his old band mates put out their comeback album, while that one tries to update Cheap Trick's sound into the now, Carlos is more content to remain horned in on the power pop and classic rock songs of the 60s and 70s.  Taylor Hanson gets his brothers to sing along to the Paul Revere and the Raiders classic Him Or Me (Taylor was once part of Tilted Windows with Bun E.) Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner pops up on It Takes A Lot To Laugh A Train To Cry or GBV's Robert Pollard adds a new song Do Something Real and covers the Bee Gees Idea.   And of course, Alejandro Escovedo, when he appears, it makes thing very special, he's on Tell Me and Slow Down. John Sterritt, (Wilco) tackles Armenia City In The Sky, but I tend to have a soft spot for Alex  Dezen who brings the power pop to I Don't Mind and I Love You No More.  The only goof is Les Cactus, which I think is more is more left field madness than a misstep, but it probably reveals more of Bun E's sense of humor.  Of course these songs would have clashed with Cheap Trick, but if nothing else, Greetings From Bunezuela is a fine mostly covers album and along the lines of the Monkees Good Times, a fun romp through the old classics of yesterday.  I never get tired of hearing of this music.
Grade B+

Faron Young-The Essential Recordings (Primo 2016)

He may have given Hank Sr a run for the money on his hillbilly recordings,but  Faron Young was an expert in the honky tonk side of things and although I like his Hank Sr attempts, I love his honky tonk country much more.   This budget 2 CD import showcases most of Faron Young's Capitol hits, beginning with Going Steady in 1953 and concluding with Three Days, which came out in 1961.  His songs of heartbreak could be a bit dark and song about temptation being stark and to the point as well, but Faron got a lot of help from up and coming songwriters and singers (Buck Owens, Bill Anderson and Willie Nelson come to mind).  In fact it was Young who covered Willie's Hello Walls and got a number 1 hit out of it.  Alas, Young did "Live Fast, Love Hard and Die Young", cashing out of this world in 1996.  Since Universal pretty much has both his Capitol and Mercury sides locked up, we're basically forced to go to outside pirate import labels to remember the once country charting stars of yesterday and Faron Young has been really forgotten over the years, There's been a bare bones best of that Curb and Universal put out without much thought.  If there's a beef with this selection, it is that Primo actually fades most of the songs out before they were over, which means that Primo may have used VG copies of 45s to compile this collection and not the original masters.  But this is a cheaper version of what Bear Family might have out and this is probably the cheaper one to get.   Disc 2 is worth the price alone, especially on the songs that Buck Owens sang background vocals to and the two Bill Anderson songs, Face To The Wall and Riverboat, which got some AM airplay in 1961 but I may have been too young to notice that.
Grade A-

Jefferson Airplane-Signe's Farewell-Fillmore Auditorium 10/15/66 (Collector's Choice 2010)

While she wasn't the spitfire that her replacement Grace Slick would be, Signe Anderson could hold her own for a song or two and she does shine on Chauffeur's Blues, but The Airplane remains a work in progress, still a sloppy jam band at best and trying to go away from their folk rock of the first album.  At time Marty Balin sounds shrill and In The Midnight Hour really is out of his league, but the opening riffs would be redone for Somebody To Love.  3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds is still in rough draft form and slowed down than the more speedier version that would make Surrealistic Pillow or for that matter Bless It's Little Pointed Head.  Out of all the extended songs, the only one that really catches fire is Fat Angel, to which Paul Kantner relives Balin of lead vocal for a song.   They're better off with the shorter and to the point Come Up The Years and Running Around This World. For a historic farewell to Anderson, it's a fond farewell, but if you're into this sort of nostalgia, you're better off with the memories. 
Grade C+

Eric Clapton-There's One In Every Crowd (RSO 1975)

After the success of 461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton made time by putting out this uneven effort, to which Mr. Slowhand becomes Mr. Stonedagain judging by The Sun Is Shining and the reggae efforts to top I Shot The Sheriff failed, although I do like Swing Low Sweet Chariot.   Funny thing about 461 Ocean Boulevard was that when Polydor reissued it in the late 70s, they took off Give Me Strength and replaced it with the boring as hell Better Make It Through Today although CD reissues corrected that mistake and return said boring as hell song to it's rightful album spot.  I do think that this is the album that Clapton started going for the Slowhand sound and beginning to copy J J Cale, which worked half of the time.  Problem was E.C was trying to eliminate Cale by writing his own songs to copy Cale and it didn't exactly work.  When Clapton goes half assed, like most of the songs on side 2, (The bizarre High and (end it already) the five minute Opposites, which goes to show when Clapton meanders, the result is like Dave Mason, it wears out its welcome.  Like We Been Told (Jesus Is Coming Soon), when Marcy Levy's gospel shrieking damn near sinks the song.  Or is it Yvonne Eliman?  Stop already.
Grade C+

Bad Company-Playlist, The Very Best Of Bad Company Live (Sony Custom 2016)

Another grabbag by Corporate Interests, this steals highlights from their 2010 show at Wembley, with three selections from the Hard Rock Cafe in 2008.  Mick Ralphs, in semi retirement managed to join his old bandmates Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke in Wembley six years ago, and for a quick money maker, he does sound inspired.  Paul Rodgers on the other hand has sang Can't Get Enough or Rock And Roll Fantasy so many times and bored to tears that he lets the crowd sing the chorus.  You really don't need this, however I got it for the lesser known stuff (Honey Child, Gone Gone Gone) and Live For The Music is boogie good.  Even when Rodgers would rather be at home doing something else, he remains a presence on stage.  And the band rocks, but it's still a corporate budget grab bag.
Grade B-

Albums from my youth-Whitford/St. Holmes Band (Columbia 1981)

I have not heard their followup, Reunion (due out next week) but I have had their S/T album on my shelf for many many years, and which will be included as a bonus disc to their new album.  Back in 1981, they were the opening act for Blue Oyster Cult and Foghat, their drummer Steve Pace would later leave to join Krokus for Headhunter.  Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) joined forces with Derek St Holmes (Ted Nugent) and Tom Allom (Judas Priest, Nantucket) produced their first album.  St. Holmes has always had a chequered  past, he made the first three Ted Nugent albums classic, especially the 1975 S/T one, but he and Rob Grange would leave Nugent and with Denny Carmissi (Montrose, Heart) put out the blah St. Paradise for Warner Brothers in 1978.  Whitford split from Aerosmith after the 1979 Night In The Ruts album. The one thing that Whitford and St Holmes had in common that they were 2nd stringers, they could come up with one or two pretty good songs for their other bands (Whitford thought up of Round And Round from Toys In The Attic, St Holmes Hey Baby from Ted Nugent to name a couple) but on their own, a different story.  That's not to say that the first album was a waste of time.  In reality, it starts out rocking with I Need A Love and Whiskey Woman and then the songs went from great to good to filler in a hurry. Side 1 still holds up, side 2 not so much, after Action and Shy Away, the last three songs are filler. Does It Really Matter, sounds like they didn't think it matter. If anything this album is proof that Whitford can take the lead vocal (he does on two including  Hold On), although there's a reason why St. Holmes is the featured vocalist. Columbia did issue a single from this (Shy Away which didn't chart) but wrote this off as a tax loss, and the album was one of those 5.98 new artist series.  I don't know, but I think this was a bigger deal back then and it was hoped that Whitford/St.Holmes could make it on their own, after 1982 the band was over and done, St. Holmes returned back to Ted Nugent for Ted's 1982 Atlantic debut and Whitford would reunite with Aerosmith soon after.   Somehow, the guys managed to get their masters of this album back and decided to reissue it with their new album for Mailboat. And those who do buy it can compare both albums.  The guesswork is that even with the bonus disc, Reunion isn't going to sell very many copies, the world don't care unless you're an audiophile that still cares about that new Whitford/St. Holmes album.  In reality, the 1981 album will probably get more played than the new album simply of the fact that the first album was better. I have heard snippets of the new album. It's so so.
Grade B

Photo: Rich Toomsen/Wooden Nickel Lottery (Taken by Angie Toomsen) 







 Apologies to Delayne Stallman for continuing to get his name wrong.

 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Week In Review: More Madison Bargain Hunts.

The last blog dealt with the main highlight of bike riding.  Even if I didn't partake in that ride downtown Madison and around the state capitol twice, I'd be renting a bike and discovering the city.  I do think that March I rode a rental bike about 15 miles around the city, rather than the 7.5 miles on Saturday.  Then  add another two miles getting to the meeting place.  Despite major leg cramps I survived.

The record and CD findings were mixed at best.  The Good news is that vinyl is doing quite well, with Mad City Music X Change, where vinyl has reclaimed most of the area and places like B Sides and Strictly Discs had plenty of customers.  The Bad: the Cd finds may have been the worst since 1996, when I went up there and found only one cd, which meant I didn't look hard enough.  Despite it all and from what I have seen at the record stores and Half Priced Books, the CD section titles weren't nothing to write home about and Pre Played on the Eastern side of Madison now have shrink their inventory to the far corner of the store, where DVDs and Blu Ray discs now occupied 98 percent elsewhere. The HP Books bargain bins was full of unwanted crappy cds and of course U2 could be found in quantity.  For 45s, St. Vincent De Paul on Williamson was the place to be.  But with each passing year and day, the findings are scarce and going to Goodwill and The Salvation Army is a waste of time.  Savers, had a bunch of R and B 45s from Ike And Tina Turner and Albert King but the records were too far gone to get.   To which at this point, it's basically easy just to say the hell with it anymore and just take chances at the local antique market.  The vinyl revival, has gotten the hipsters to scour the thrift stores and whatever they find, resale at a higher cost.  But then again, I spent five dollars on a VG Aretha Franklin Atlantic 45 at a antique mall in Mount Herob, a mercy sale.  But in reality, the findings are much harder and less satisfying.  At some particular point things end, even for a long in the tooth 45 crabb.  Unless I start getting more into The McGuire Sisters or Lawrence Welk easy listening dreak.   I still enjoy going St Vincent De Paul, since they remain to have a high turnover rate in their 45 inventory,   But Goodwill, Savers and The Salvation Army was a bust.  And Pawn America may as well throw their inventory of CDs in the recycle bin.  Nobody wants them.



If anything this time out Madison was a much more fun event than the hell of last September.  I spend the weekend checking out things on State Street and while I wasn't gung ho about the food at Za's, the Casa De Lara food was much better.  The Mole Casero was quite good, the tortillas were not sad to say. http://casadelaramadisonwi.com/
For the first time in about four years, I passed on Ian's Pizza,  I didn't care for the service help and their drinks had a crappy metallic taste to them last time I was there.  Where my hotel was, there was better options and if all else fails, there's always 7/11 on the corner.  There was plenty of road construction going on around the capitol area.  As far I recalled, 151 really didn't have much road construction going over by the main interstate by the Microtel, where I usually spend the night.  And I avoided the belt way once again.   Although there was still a few homeless people around State Street, they were not crowding up the place as they have been doing last time I visited. With the UW summer semester going on, there was not very many students around although many folks spent the evening around the beaches on the two lakes in town.   And even if The Graduate Hotel charged 12 dollars a night for parking, I figured it was worth it, rather than taking a chance on the downtown parking places. If you did come across the meter, a quarter only gives you 12 minutes.  Just like Iowa City.



After the WNBR bike ride, and taking care of seeing what the east side thrift stores had for bargains, I went to Dubuque on Sunday and Moondog Music had a bit more to offer.  Mount Horeb had a couple of Antique malls and The Duluth Trading Company, home of the 29.95 underwear.  They have a 7 year guarantee.  We'll see how they work out. http://www.duluthtrading.com/

Since it was Father's Day, I had to rush back home and I don't usually drive in the afternoon, but I did have time to scope out other places, ate at Platteville's China Buffet and then locating Uncle Ike's Music Store in Asbury, five miles from Dubuque. Uncle Ike's has a much better drum selection than Guitar Center, in fact I was drooling over some cool Ludwig Vista Lites drum that went for 2100 dollars. Very tempted to go back up there and pick one of them up. https://www.uncleikes.com/

There were things going on down here in beautiful Cedar Rapids, the Irish Fest with Eric Gales took place on Saturday.  Phillip Smith writes the review and took plenty of pictures to prove it. http://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/06/voice-of-cedar-lake-live-at-irish.html

Meanwhile the Rumors Popcorn Jam continued on, with perhaps the most hard rock songs that they have done since Terry McDowell took over.  For the first time, no Bad Company songs were played. Featured players were Ted Riely, Ian Jacoby, Rick Clay and Terry Mack.   Peter Stark documented the proceedings. However the owner of Rumors wasn't too pleased with the hard rock and metal songs played but nevertheless everybody still had a good time.



It's debatable if Lebron James is the all time best basketball player ever, and some of the referee calls in this series were very tick tacky but one cannot deny that James propelled the Cleveland Cavs to beat the Golden State Warriors  Sunday Night, he blocked shots, he made three point baskets and basically willed his way to give Cleveland their first basketball title. Kinda like Michael Jordan did for Chicago back in the 1990s.  Great performance from a future hall of famer but all time great?  I'm still a Jordan fan.  Which means the Chicago Bulls record season of 95-96, is that the Chicago Bulls remains the best team in history, thanks to Lebron's performance, Michael Jordan and the rest thank you.

Last month some Pittsburgh pitcher mentioned that he thought that the Chicago Cubs were not the best team in baseball.  Well, San Francisco Giants have done very well themselves but the big mouth Pittsburgh pitcher didn't put his money where his mouth is and Pittsburgh got swept by the Cubs over the weekend.  Phil Rizzo, Kris Bryant hit home runs, even old timer Dan Ross hit one on Saturday. St Louis got swept by Texas over the weekend falling 12 games behind first place Chicago.  If they are going to make this a pennant race they better get their act together.   And then St Louis swept The Cubs in Chicago this week.  They're not done yet.

Alas The Cedar Rapids Kernels losing to the Quad Cities over the weekend, knocked them out of the playoff race in the first half and must do better the second half of the season but they continue to lose players to promotion. Mike Theoapolis (sic) one of my favorite Kernels has been promoted to double AA.

The trial is over and Led Zeppelin prevailed over the estate of Randy Wolfe in the case of Taurus, Randy's song for Spirit was being ripped off for the introduction to Stairway To Heaven and basically I figured that Led Zeppelin would win out.  I've never drawn any conclusion that Taurus and Stairway were the same, they were different in song and structure. If anything, it got the original three members of Zeppelin back together but in all fairness this was a waste of everybody's time. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/led-zeppelin-prevail-in-stairway-to-heaven-lawsuit-20160623

The Bar B Q Roundup is this week and local favorites Wooden Nickel Lottery play Saturday.  Linn County Fair has three rock tribute bands play Thursday and Confederate Railroad on Friday.

Aerosmith has jumped on the farewell tour bandwagon so many bands have been doing (guess which ones)  The first Farewell tour will start in 2017.

This might be a record but Emerson Lake And Palmer are reissuing their back catalog for a fifth or sixth time (Elvis Costello might be doing the same thing as well). While it's noted that Stephen Wilson will be mixing the albums I just don't see the need to replace the ones that I got in my collection. I really don't know how Wilson will spice up the albums anymore than they are now (one can only do so much with tape hiss or EQ).  BMG music rights will be the new home of ELP, (Atlantic, Victory, Rhino and Razor and Tie were the other labels that issued ELP product if you're keeping a score card) A more better choice would be The Turtles, reissuing their White Whale albums via Flo and Eddie and Manifesto Records (originally known as Bizarre/Straight), I would love a copy of The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands but I do have their Ray Davies produced Turtle Soup on the shelf somewhere. http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7409015/the-turtles-pre-1972-copyright-warriors-reissuing-their-out-of-print-studio

Caitlin Cary, is an expert sewing visual arts that used to play in Whiskeytown and made a couple solo albums along the way.  A nice article about her famed arts and craft work http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/music-news-reviews/on-the-beat-blog/article84378077.html

And the ratings here continue to tank.  Might be under 2,000 views again.  Guess we are out of fashion once again. But I continue onward despite the odds. The final tally will be somewhere around 1800 unless Russia or China opens up the internet.

Passings:  Bill Ham, of natural causes Tuesday, He was 79.  He managed Z Z Top for years and later formed Lone Wolf Management which managed the likes of Clint Black, The Law and James Taylor. http://www.houstonpress.com/music/bill-ham-ex-zz-top-manager-and-texas-music-industry-giant-passes-away-at-79-8504929#!

Ralph Stanley legendary bluegrass banjo great passed away from skin cancer, he was 89. http://bluegrasstoday.com/ralph-stanley-passes/

Bernie Worrell, keyboard extraordinaire for George Clinton's bands plus the Talking Heads died Friday from lung cancer, he was 72 http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7416532/bernie-worrell-dead-funkadelic-parliament

The Memphis Horns are no more.  Wayne Jackson passed away Tuesday from heart failure at age 74. He and the late Andrew Love (who passed in 2012)  played on most if not all records on Stax Records (Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, The Mar Keys) and then he and Andrew split to play on songs by Elvis, Al Green, Neil Young and many others.  http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/wayne-jackson-memphis-horns-legend-dead-at-74-20160622



This week's reviews:

Foghat-Under The Influence (Foghat Records 2016)

While the continuing bitchings about Lonesome Dave and Rod Price, now playing in boogie heaven, not around, the lineup of Charlie Huhn and Bryan Bassett has solidified Foghat.  After all, both of them have been a part of this band since Dave's passing and Bassett has proven to be a worthy guitar player.  He proved that in Molly Hatchet on Devil's Canyon, the last album that Danny Joe Brown had anything to do with and Huhn spent time in Terrible Ted Nugent's band and Humble Pie.  And as long as Craig MacGregor is part of this band, they still remain legitimate, MacGregor was part of the glory late 70s years with the Live album and Stone Blue/Night Shift among others.   Their last album Last Train Home, spent way too much time with the blues and not enough boogie, this time out, the guys get back to doing what they do best, rock and roll boogie.  Plenty of guest stars on here, legendary blues guitar great Kim Simmonds to which Earl and Lonesome Dave was part of Savoy Brown, adds his signature slide lead on the title track and Upside Of Lonely, old bass player and producer now comedian actor Nick Jameson returns on three tracks including another version of Slow Ride, the title track and Hot Mama.  Dana Fuchs  adds some female sass to I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Honey Do List, which owes more to The Fabulous Thunderbirds than boogie blues.  And Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy) might be their best producer since Jameson, he balances the blues and the boogie rock quite nicely.  Lyrics are basically good time afterthoughts, Under The Influence does have a vibe like Stone Blue, but Knock It Off actually owes more to AC/DC rather than John Lee Hooker.   Scott Holt, also figures into the blues side, a cover of Savoy Browns She's Got A Ring In His Nose, but also can rock out, he's on 7 of the 13 tracks of UTF.  Does the world really need another version of Slow Ride?  Since it's Foghat and it's the bonus track I can forgive them.  Certainly while Dave and Rod are missed and Earl has been generous to include them in the liner notes, but even in their heyday, their albums can be hit and miss, even Fool For The City had a couple of clinkers.  The secret weapon remains Bassett, who had played in a version of Foghat in the late 80s and early 90s and he can make the spirit of Rod Price proud.  The buying public may not care, but Under The Influence in reality is a very solid effort, even to the point it might be their best album since Return Of The Boogie Men, or Night Shift, which came out 4 decades ago.  It rocks, it rolls and it has the blues and it doesn't wear out its welcome.  Which is what I like about Foghat.  I know what they can do and when they put their mind to it, they still rock with the best of them.
Grade A-



The Staple Singers-Freedom Highway Complete (Epic/Legacy 1965)

The original album was edited down for radio consideration but Sony decided to issue the whole 1965 church concert complete with sermons and lectures, a beautiful snapshot about the old black Baptist Church Sunday Morning get together, and The Staple Singers were backed up by a couple of old Chess sessionmen Phil Upchurch and Al Duncan) and of course the stinging guitar of Pops Staples.  The songs really stand out, be it Mavis Staples given it her best, (Help Me Jesus) and I never get tired of Samson And Delilah, and the title track Freedom Highway was a minor hit but showed that the best was yet to come.  I think the sermons and preaching goes on a bit too long, especially the bit about Rev Hopkins passing the plate around and taking about people going to pay a dollar at the Regal to see blues bands but don't pony up at the collection plate, which the congregation ponys up change hear and there.  But if you rather not partake at your local church, you can put this CD on any old time for that old time religion of soul and gospel.
Grade B+

The Junkers-Hunker Down (Self Released 2001)

It was slim pickings at the thrift store so I picked up this debut album from a now long disbanded alternative country band from Madison and regardless Ken Burns' vocals reveals one half Buck Owens and one half Jay Farrar and the music is more honky tonk than Son Volt. But I doubt that Farrar would ever start out an album by singing We're Adults so let's commit adultery.  In terms of their trailer trash country rock, Hunker Down is a oddball but fun listen as Burns sings the praises of coffee in Thank You Coffee but would rather have a shot of bourbon and go back to bed.   Or That's Why I Take Pills, another dry and dark sense of humor song that references Elvis.  Burns tries his walking talking folk ala 1964 Bob Dylan on Susan B Anthony Dollar Rag, recorded live at the now distant memory O'Cays Corral in downtown Madison, which would be destroyed in a fire soon after this recording in 2001.   Overall, Hunker Down is not bad, but The Junkers are no Randy Cliffs.
Grade B

Tom Jones-Long Lost Suitcase (S Curve 2015)

The third installment of a series of albums with Ethan Johns of traditional folk, country, blues and rock and roll, but it's beginning to feel like the same old same old all over again.  It's been proven time and time again that Tom Jones can do country and western, he had a mini resurgence in the 1980s with a few listenable albums on Mercury and then managed to get a freaky top forty hit with Prince's Kiss, but unlike Robert Plant, Jones is not that convincing when it comes to the blues.  He gives a valiant effort on Bring It On Home but I Wish You Would, goes on forever.  And the morbid Elvis Presley Blues and He Was A Friend Of Me really take the fun out of this album although Jones rebounds in a way with Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do or Til My Back Ain't Got No Bone.  But the record is a mixed bag and it really doesn't capture my attention like Praise And Blame did or to a lesser degree Spirit In The Room.  Like the other two, it's personal and Tom adds plenty of old pictures from his archives to share to the world.  But overall, you just wish that Tom would get back to just lively up the party rather than having these reminders that our time is just about up.  Or trade Ethan Johns for Art Of Noise.
Grade B-

Nashville West (Sierra/Hollywood 1997)

If you're looking for the legend of Clarence White and his expert guitar playing, this minor classic is for you.  White would later join The Byrds with drummer Gene Parsons and turned them more into the country side of things. Gib Guilbeau sings lead on most of the songs and this is where they turn into a bar band of sorts, they were playing the country hits of that time which explains why By The Time I Get To Phoenix and Green Green Grass Of Home is on this.  Gib, would later join the Flying Burrito Brothers is a competent and steady vocalist but  lacking a real vocal presence, which is why Roger McGuinn is a better singer or Gram Parsons for that matter.  But overlook that, and you can not only hear traces of country rock that The Eagles or Poco would get better known but also traces of a sound that The Grateful Dead would incorporate during their Workingman's Dead/American Beauty era.  And there were not too many bar bands that had a wonderkind guitarist like White, or for that matter Gene Parsons, who seem to never get credit where credit was due in his tenure with The Byrds.
Grade B

Montgomery Gentry-Folks Like Us (Blaster 2015)

I don't think they started bro country but they did lay down the groundwork for the latter day trailer trash hacks like FGL or Locash and Kane Brown to dumb down country radio and made Dallas Davidson a bit more wealthy.  But while the new Bro Country twenty somethings continue to play and sing second grade bad poetry about beer, trucks, dirt roads etc etc, Eddie and Troy continue to descend back into playing county fairs and issue albums on lesser known independent labels, and you wouldn't know that Eddie and Troy were Nashville songwriters at the start, continue to scour the bottom of the barrel of songwriters, most notably Wendell Mobley on four songs which are about...beer, old friendstan lines, pick up trucks, growing up in small towns and dirt roads to which Mobley gets out of his comfort zone on anything else.  The music is southern rock, with the tired Nashville cliche of the rapping/singing/shouting of the chorus of any of these four tracks Mobley wrote and for that matter much of the rest of the album.  Chris Robertson of Black Stone Cherry makes the obligatory guest star cameo on (wait for it), Back On A Dirt Road.   However, MG does pick two Chris Singleton songs (Pain, co written with Al Anderson) and Better For It and they're probably the best of the lot although I did get a chuckle out of Mobley's Hillbilly Hippies, at least MG still has a bit of humor left in them, even after their fiasco tenure with Average Joe's and that brown turd skid-mark of a song called Tittys Beer to which even the bro country faithful avoided at all costs.   Despite what the Farce The Music folks think, Montgomery Gentry did start out on a hot streak with Tattoos And Scars before going down the great decline with each album (though My Town remains their second best overall album, the only greatest hits CD I liked was the throwaway budget Super Hits despite no Hillbilly Shoes on it).  The problem with Folks Like Us is that Montgomery Gentry's time has come and gone and even at 10 songs, there's hardly any variation of themes, Conservative country that bares it's Charlie Daniels roots although they do tone down on the right wing rhetoric that Daniels is famous for.  But when you hear five straight songs in a row about grabbing a beer, going down a dirt road and taking about old times with good friends, even that wears out its welcome.  But at  least they didn't lowered themselves into covering Colt Ford.
Grade C


Monday, June 20, 2016

Rock and roll and the WNBR 2016 Madison Results

It's one thing to be radical and do something that has never been done before.  Originally, this started as a thought from last year.  Every summer the most liberal cities have something called World Naked Bike Ride Day and they have taken a life of their own.  Perhaps one of the best ones happens to be out in Portland next Saturday.  There's one in St Louis on July 16th and Chicago was last week. In past blogs, I have discussed about participating in one, and while I debated about St Louis, the Madison one came up on the 18th.   And as the countdown begin, I started looking for motel rooms close by, and I found one a block away from State Street, The Graduate Hotel, very pricey but I figured I may as well spring for the 12 dollars parking and not have to deal with moving the car every hour on the hour.  I do recommend the Graduate Hotel if you want to scope State Street and all the happenings.   Next up, renting a bike.  Not a problem, the city has those B Bikes that you rent for a hour or day and they have a bike station in about 10 different places close by.   And then my boss was kind enough to grant me the day off, although she might have questioned my sanity.

For a world wide naked bike race, the organizers kept things in secret about where to meet and I did not know about the meeting place till a day before it took place.  You basically meet at a gathering spot, and then they take you to the actual meeting place, which came to my surprise, a block away from the hotel, a sorority apartment by Lake Mendota. In the couple days to this, I didn't sleep at all, anxiety and back spams didn't help as I did a mini bike ride Friday Night just to get my legs in shape.  Last time I rode a bike was March of last year.  Once I left home, I had to crash course on wear to meet, etiquette and so on.   You couldn't ask for a better weekend, plenty of sunshine, mid to high 80s and plenty of bike riders and scantly clad college girls too.  But I had to find a hat to protect myself from UV rays and packed some potent SPF 50 sunscreen and a carry on for my wallet.  Since I was wearing shorts, I had make sure this was in my sight at all times.  If I lost my wallet, I would have been SOL.

Another rare thing, this bike ride had me getting up early in the morning than I'm used to.  At around 9 AM, I showered and put my shorts and shirt on and rented a bike and head out to the meeting place.  The first rule is that you do not show up naked at the meeting place, they'll tell you to cover it or go home, but most of the folk there were actually guys, in shorts and they were covered up.  I was chatting with John a model actor who mentioned that they are filming this for a documentary.   After a 15 minute wait,  we then backtracked our way through the city to the gathering place.  It was 9:30, and there was a handful of folks but once inside this gathering place, everybody pretty much took everything off.  So I figured why not and did the same thing.


(Photo: Ayo Blood)

In reality, being naked to world in public really that big of a deal.  There was no body shaming, no cat calls, nothing out of the ordinary.  Contrary to rumor, there was no big sex parties or orgies going on, one of the host dude was puffing on a hooka pipe, and no booze was present, they saved the beer and booze till after the bike ride.  And they had donuts and food and some of that yucky no sodium or sugar flavored water cans, which I must have four cans of that.  As I was undressing myself in front of a different house with an opened window, it came to my attention that I was being watched by patrons inside, it was a coffee house of sorts!  Anyway, they did eventually closed the window binds. But for the most part there were a plenty of guys, a few older men, older than myself and bald or showing touches of gray.   It was somewhat oblivious I was among some gay men and a few of them were tanned completely, no tan lines whatsoever and plenty of tattoos and piercings and dick rings so to speak. But a few women showed up as the day was going on, Krystal Price was one of them, and she's a season veteran of the nude Madison bike rides, while last year she was naked, this time out she went topless.   I sat around and make some small talk with a few guys before we all finally went out into the open at around 11 oclock.

In reality, this bike ride was uneventful.  Oh there were some oddball preachers standing by the road, shaking their bibles and preaching fire and brimstone bullshit, I found it somewhat comical.  The preaching of sinners going to hell by going out all naked, God didn't strike us down, He just provided the sun and occasional wind.  I had my oversized hat on my head and sunglasses too. I could pick myself out of the video and pictures if they ever surface on line.   I'd love to see the documentary about this naked bike ride.   But when the Bike Ride started in 2010, the police didn't like this at all and there were a few arrests made but as the event progressed on, they provided some sort of escort and watched from afar with amusement.  There was a gospel guitar player singing down State Street, and he was selling his CDs but I don't think he was all that great of a singer.  As we make our way up State Street towards the capital during the Farmers Market, we begin to hear the cheers and applause and the public whistling and taking photos as we rode on by, me tipping my cap or peaking through my sun glasses.  There was a concern about me handling this ride with so very little riding, and hoping that I didn't cramp up and in hindsight I should have taken some water along just in case.  The State Capitol lies on top of a hill and there's a bit of strain getting up one part of the hill but then you can coast down the other side.  Madison is in a two year construction (it's been said that construction will continue for next year's WNBR day).   I also had concerns about keeping up but most of the trip I was out close in front.  And yeah, there were a couple of nice looking girls I couldn't help but notice, but since I was 3 decades older than they were, it was just window shopping.  Among the rest of the bike riders, there was shouts of Come Join Us!, This is Democracy, and More Ass Less Gas, the latter would have come in handy for me.  And there was dude next to me honking his bike horn throughout.  It's strange riding the bike down John Nolen and then on Washington Street but since there was so many of the bike riders (142 final tally) I didn't see no bad drivers on the road for a change.  And then we stopped to pay a moment's silence for the Orlando shooting victims before heading onward.

Going past the St Vincent De Paul thrift store, where I donated my records and CDs the day before I heard some woman yell "GET A LIFE" or was it "GET A BIKE" since they had a bike sale going on. At the Co Op down the road they had a sale on Sausage links, the term Sausage Saturday was on their billboard and we all got a laugh out of that.  We were on Williamson Street at that time, which is basically one of my favorite hangout streets to go bike riding anyway.   But back on 151, we were treated plenty of car horns honking, people shouting and whistling and I even managed to do a half assed high five to a black woman taking pictures.  Towards the end, we got off to a side road that led up a hill and I start getting leg muscle cramps, but I wasn't about to end this.  I walked the bike up the hill and we reached a lake side park.  One crazy girl on skates decided to take a jump into Lake Mendota, which I have to commend her, but that water really did stink pretty bad.

And then we went back on Langdon  Street to our starting point and it was over, just like that.  At 1 o'clock, the trip took two hours to complete.   And I was surprised that I managed to do this, stripped down to just socks and shoes, hat and glasses and rode out with the radicals and liberals and the old guys and the new kids and gay guys and girls.  Surprised that I made good with the promise and managed to do something different than just look for scratchy records and not have fun.  But with the bike ride now over, and while people were grabbing a beer or champagne to celebrate, it was time for me to get back into doing what I like to do and after grabbing a doughnut and more of that flavored water, I put my shorts back on and rode on out, briefly talking to a Chinese dude who was asking about the nude bike ride and when it started.  Told him he missed the bike ride but the party was going on.   And then proceeded to return my bike back to the rental station and back to motel room.

While some of the bike riders will move on to Portland and later St Louis and other places in between,  this was my summer vacation.  And I do wish John well in his model career, he was a cool dude.   I can't say if I'll be back next year to take part in WNBR Madison on June 17,2017 but let it be known that I did take part in this years event.  And there are pictures out there to prove it.  I'm sure they're not safe for work either.  And guess what?  Ayo Blood  filmed it and posted it on You Tube.  The Old Crabb is in there.  NSFW so be careful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leGA_1hMZHA

Regardless I did have fun.

The video shoot explained: http://www.windmillermedia.com/2016/07/wnbr2016.html

Update of more pictures: http://photos.thechicagostar.com/Destinations/2016-Destinations/June-2016-Destinations/18-June-2016-WNBR-Madison/



(Photo: Bryan aka Maddobry via Twitter)


 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week In Review: TE Radio 19, WNBR Madison

Another week of senseless violence happened with some Islamic radical goofoff going to an Orlando alternative lifestyle bar and shooting 50 people dead before the SWAT team took this lowlife out of this world once and for all.  I will not comment on this worthless fuck but rather will say that 49 people got taken out of this world against their will.  AK 47s do nothing but kill people, they are not good for nothing else.



Popcorn jam of Sunday, didn't have much for surprises, but there was an interesting Beatles medley that I took part in.  Mike Lint took the picture of the week's hosts Dan Johnson, Terry McDowell and Tommy Bruner.  Herman Sarduy let us use his big snare drum too.

In other news, Adele didn't like Tony Visconti's remarks about her singing so she basically told him off.   What she said was in jest but of course social media blew it up to outrageous levels.  I do think Adele has a funny sense of humor.

While 2000 Man has been quiet of late, Tad has appeared once again on his website, touting a new love and new outlook in life.  While this life hasn't been as fulfilling romantic wise for the old crabb, I tend to be a bit more dependent on independence and the single life isn't too bad.  Open for discussion later on but Tad reveals his music highs of his life here: http://tadsbackupplan.blogspot.com/2016/06/music-that-changed-my-life.html

Last week we discussed the new and exciting protest fad of bike riding naked and while St. Louis has theirs next month, the folks in Madison will have theirs this Saturday and for the first time in this life, I am going to partake riding in this 10 to 12 mile bike ride, clothing optional. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable bearing everything out in the buff, but you have to admit it's something much different rather than the usual bargain hunting for records and CDs, which will take place after the WNBR trip.  I think it will be safe renting a bike and plod around the city streets of Mad City.  I'll have to bring sunscreen and either a pair of shorts, or a XXL T shirt.  Don't look for any pictures taken of this historical event but we'll document it in some way or another.  That is if I go through it.  Stay tuned next week for the results.  At least this time out, I found a hotel room to spend the weekend, unlike the last disaster of last September. And the location (it's a secret).  If I don't get too burnt and burnt out the next blog will be about my experience or WNBR Madison day. http://www.tonemadison.com/articles/filming-the-flesh-pedallers/

I'm not going to get too into great detail about some of the CDs reviewed this week.  The Poor Who Cares (Epic 550 Music 1994) is somewhat dirty rock and roll like Dirty Angels and Circus Of Power but with a lead singer sounding like Dan McCaffery of Nazareth fame.  Polished too clean by Paul Northfield (Asia, Rush).  Brendan Croker The Great Indoors (Silvertone 1991) is a good album but way too many songs and at 63 minutes, its too long to listen in one sitting.   The Dead 60s (Deltasonic/Epic 2005) is a band that loves The Clash but outside of Train To Nowhere and Riot Radio relies too much on Combat Rock and This Is Radio Clash.  One of those infamous Rootkit CDs that Sony Music issued, killing any potential of this band, but they basically broke up not too long after this release.  And Pearls 4 Swine Hoodwink (Bumble Puppy 1997), is best known for Rich Toomsen starting out to play guitar with Jim Scharosch and John Morgan.  Mostly a love of Primus and Rage Against The Machine with RHCP's funk thrown in.  It's not for everybody, but it does show why R. Toomsen is one of the best guitar players out in Iowa.   And finally, Sean Ryan and The Dawn All Time Low (Lonesome Driver 2013) is moreorless a solo album with Ryan trying a few different styles, to which he would eventually find his sound on the cover of Josh Rouse Comeback but for the most part, it's somewhere between later day Replacements or Gin Blossoms.   The best would yet to come. 

Let me be Blunt...which is basically a punk/hard rock/metal online mag from Australia.  While I continue to get older and not able to catch up on what is new hard rock and punk this magazine covers all the bases. http://www.bluntmag.com.au/

Passings: Henry McCullouch, guitarist for The Grease Band and later joined Paul McCartney in Wings died Monday at age 72 of a long illness.  He also was in Spooky Tooth.

Lincoln "Chips" Moman, famed music producer (The Gentrys, Sandy Posey, Willie Nelson) died Monday from a long illness, he was 79. http://www.commercialappeal.com/entertainment/music/music-titan-chips-moman-is-dead-at-79-35315a2e-5feb-5bbe-e053-0100007f82f0-382850711.html



Townedger Radio 20  June Edition (6/16/16)
https://www.mixcloud.com/LuckyStarRadio/townedger-radio-19/?utm_campaign=notification_new_upload&play=notification_new_upload&utm_medium=email&utm_source=notification&utm_content=html

Playlist:

Lost Woman-The Yardbirds
Bone Machine-The Pixies
Immigrant Song-Michael White
Victim Of Circumstances-Mudcrutch
Road Runner-Samantha Fish
Down The Line-Wooden Nickel Lottery
You Know I'm Not Good For You-The Townedgers
JAMF-I Love You
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover-Bo Diddley
Old Jim Canaans-Robert Wilkins
Stop Whistling Wolf-Maddox Brothers And Rose
The Kind Of Boy You Can't Forget-The Raindrops
I've Been Carrying A Torch For You For So Long That I Burned A Great Big Hole In My Heart-Nino Tempo/April Stevens
For Your Love-Michael Been
They Got Me Covered-Dirty Looks
Throw It Down-Wooden Nickel Lottery
Grandiose Failures-The Townedgers


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Week In Review: Ali RIP, Some things, Other Things

Another slow news week here.  The main story of Muhammad Ali passing away at age 74 from Parkinson's.  Basically most the news was positive although the usual chicken hawks bitching about him not fighting the Vietnam War, another pointless war.  Ali was the greatest fighter that I have known, but his Rope A Dope eventually got him too many hits upside the head and he paid for it.  In his heyday he could whoop anybody's butt, Joe Frazier and the George Foreman. The Thrilla in Manilla with Frazier was very very taxing boxing event for both Smokin Joe and Ali, but Ali prevailed.  Ali lost and then beat Leon Spinks in 1978, to be the three time champion but alas his 1980 brutal beating at the hands of Larry Holmes ended Ali's career, although he would fight one more time in 1981 and lose to Trevor Berbick.   While Ali had 34 years of living with Parkinson's, he remained one of the most loved athletics ever, up to his death Al remained a gracious and good man.



Bretagne, the last remaining rescue dog that helped rescuers during 9/11 passed away from old age, she was 16 and died Wednesday.

Goldie Howe, Mr Hockey or the George Blanda of hockey passed away at age 88 Thurday.  He played many years for The Detroit Red Wings and later the Hartford Wailers.  http://redwings.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=885583

Christine Grimmie, announced on her FB site that she was playing Orlando Friday and she did.  After a meet and greet autograph session, some fucking asshole shot her dead (and then the pussy shooter shot himself-sigh) after her show. Grimmie was on The Voice in 2014 and made a couple videos on You Tube that the world took notice. I'll never know why the hell the fucking asshole shooter came into the venue with 2 guns, but yet another tragic situation that will not go away and will repeat itself time and time again.  She was 22.

Saturday Night was spent at Cedar River Landing with Julie And The Mad Dogs, but before that, Lita Ford, Ratt and Bret Michaels played outdoors in downtown Cedar Rapids.  A monsoon opened up drenching most of the crowd on Lita's set but I managed to hang around after the rain and caught about half of Ratt's setting.  I guess Bobby Blotzer is the sole remaining Ratt dude and at this point they are a tribute band, the lead singer wasn't all that great and even for outdoors Ratt was very loud.  From what I heard, Bret's finale was the highlight.   Down in Iowa City, the Arts festival was underway, and The Wood Brothers played but I passed on that and just went into Stuff Etc and Goodwill to see if I could find anything of value CD wise.  Not much, and not a single 45 was found anywhere.  But somebody had a beginner's drum set complete for 350 dollars that I almost bought.  And still might if it's there the next time I go through town.  I might need it for my next job.

And yes, my place of employment is laying more people off again, despite winning some new contracts and I guess it's bound that our wonderful company will close their doors once and for all in a few years, our CEO has no concept of how to run a business and job cuts will be all across the board.   I'm basically of this gun to our head bullshit, just pull the fucking trigger and we'll be happy to live off our severance for a year.  The prize after 28 years of dealing with this sort news ever since Russ Gaglardi sold us off in 1999.  I'm surprised I have given half a century of working at one place. I didn't see that happening at all.

Sunday Popcorn Jam went on as advertised.  Mostly dominated by drummers taking the stage and singing songs.  Tom Miller from Past Masters did a few Elvis songs with me on drums, I sang Born To Be Wild with Terry McDowell on drums and Ernest the soul man showed up, still mad at me for not dropping everything and starting up a new band with him.   Can't win even while having fun playing drums on the weekends.



The Acousta Kitties celebrated a full year hosting the acoustic jam at Checkers once again Wednesday Night.  Lorie Parker, also took part of being guest host at CRL with The Mad Dogs and she's quite the showstopper, even showing the world of her new invention called the Boobarine. With Julie Jules Gordon taking the photo, Lorie demonstrates how the Boobarine works during live gigs.



Outside of that, there hasn't been much humor in the world it seems. We all are sick of politics, with Hillary and Donald (pinkie dink) Trump being the front-runners and  Bernie Sanders fans ready to write him in come November.  The above picture got me to comment about Ted Nugent and Rush Limpnoodle didn't fall through on them leaving when Obama became president, which some misguided woman mentioned that I was the just as responsible as the liberals for destroying the country.  Which got back a big HUH?! If I'm working for a living and paying taxes, how is it that I'm destroying the country?  Anyway, this woman cooled the attitude down and called herself a Fedupacrat and said she's tired of how this country is turning out.  Too much reality bullcrap and how social media blows up mindless rock stars and megalomaniacs that are running for president.  And people turning on one another.   It's not going to get any better anytime soon.  I'm sure she was prospecting quite well when Idiot 45 and Darth running things into the ground, but then again it's easier just to blame the black POTUS rather than the idiots in  the house and senate.  But also, the black POTUS hasn't exactly wowed me of late, especially on the TTP bullshit.  Things are quite ugly out there, climate change is either flooding things or scorching things and you can't drink the water due to oil spills.  One hopes that change can come around but maybe it's better off to have a meteor come in from outer space and destroy everything and have Mother Earth start all over again.  Just back in the days of the dinosaur.

Summer festivals are starting up: July 1st through the  3rd  has the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, main headliner Cash Box Kings play, and a few others. River Roots Live in Davenport 2016 on August 26-27 and features OAR, Booker T Jones and the guitar head lineup of Robben Ford, Lee Roy Parnell and Smoking Joe Robinson.  On July 9th, Sean Ryan and The Dawn do the second annual Dawn and On at the North Shore Inn and Marina in Moline.  The Dawn will have The Candymakers, Soap,  Winterland and a few others. More can be found at this link: http://www.thedawnband.com/festival.html

And oh yeah.  The World Naked Bike Ride coming to St Louis on July 16th. Maybe I'll see you there. Maybe I'll partake in the fun. May not have a job by then. https://wnbrstl.org/

Record Reviews:

Traveling Wilburys-Volume 1  (Wilbury/Concord 1988)

Time has treated this album a lot better almost 30 years later although Roy Orbison would not live long to reap its rewards.  A super group with Roy, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison (RIP), Bob Dylan and last but not least Tom Petty, they had a couple top ten hits with End Of The Line and Handle With Care.  Orbison I can take or leave, his falsetto on Not Alone Any More noted. Outside of that, it's a strong album, with Bob Dylan coming up with on of his best songs of the 80's Tweeter And The Monkey Man, plus Congratulations and  Dirty World. Since Lynne and Harrison produced this, their sound at that time shapes the T Wilburys Volume 1.  Still sounds like a good time to me.
Grade A-

The Kossoy Sisters with Erik Darling-Bowling Green (Tradition 1956)

Murder ballads before Nick Cave and if you know your folk and bluegrass music, a lot of it back in the 40s and 50s were gory murder ballads.  Take for example the suicidal girl that takes her life in I Will Not Marry, or the jealous boyfriend killing their love interest in songs like  Poor Ellen Smith or Down In The Willow Garden.  And you really don't want to know what they want to do on What Will We Do With The Baby O.   There's songs about brutal trainwrecks too (Engine 143 and In The Pines) but for the most part this album is famous for I'll Fly Away, which was used in O Brother Wilt Are Thou, the movie that gave bluegrass music a new lease in life in the 2000s but the Kossoy Sisters' version was not used.  Perhaps after hearing all the murder ballads in between the title track, that I'll Fly Away should have ended this record rather than tacked on at track 3.   Even Nick Cave would get depressed after hearing the whole 14 songs here.
Grade B+

Dio-Metal Hits (Flashback/Rhino 2005)

If you have The Beast Of Dio, you don't need this but since my copy got ruined in the great flood of 2014, I found this companion for a couple dollars at the pawn shop.  Rainbow In The Dark remains an all time metal classic as well as The Last In Line,  and the two tracks taken from Strange Highways has Dio sounding more pissed off as ever (it was recorded after he left Sabbath on slightly acrimonious terms in 1992) and Evilution sounds angry and defiant. Of course Ronnie would return back to Sabbath as Heaven And Hell in 2008 and remained with them till his 2010 passing. Like any budget priced mix CD, there's questionable songs added on and Dream Evil has one too many selections, (Night People instead of I Could Have Been A Dreamer tsk tsk) and Sacred Heart has none.  In other words, another cheapo cheapo compilation that's worth a dollar if you find it used.
Grade B-

Smothers Brothers-Curb Your Tongue Knave! (Mercury 1963)

Another period piece that Laugh.com issued on CD in 2002, this probably was Tommy and Dickie's best selling album, although there are no shortage of Smothers Brothers LPs at the local thrift stores.  Tommy playing funny guy to Dick's straight, it's a lighthearted satire on songs, highlight Dick finally going bonkers on I Talk To The Trees and the hilarious Swiss Christmas.  Dated folk comedy but it is fun to revisit once in a while.
Grade B

The Townedgers-Light At The End Of The Tunnel (Maier 1996)

Given that the subpar drum mix that hinders the first two songs Return To Town's Edge and Late Night that this record doesn't scream out of the gate but rather stumbles but in the course of two decades on, this album's lesser known songs have taken on a more importance. At times, Rodney Smith's lyrics seem to be thrown together for alternative rock shock value but in the case of Late Night or Weak Moment the lack of focus has made the songs filler, although musically The Townedgers never sounded more into the songs, especially Smith's manic drumming.  It is the love songs that kept Light At The End Of The Tunnel afloat, especially later faves Listen To Love and Spark Of Life, as well as the underside of love gone wrong (Losing Game). Even surgery to removed a burst appendix didn't keep Smith from recording the album, he was back in the studio a week later to come up with the angry Borrowed Time.  For the sloppy fun of Railroaded, which managed to hit the top ten on the alternative rock charts, Smith's clumsy word play clashes with Geoff Redding's guitarwork but Keith Moon would have been proud.   While the album was a thinly disguised love letter to Smith's ex girlfriend  in Spark Of Life and Listen To Love, the rest of the album was also taking notes of the red flags beginning to pop up in his love life, nothing more revealing than the key cut of Know Your Man, to which the ex girlfriend was warned not to get too clingy or too jealous.  It's not a total blood stained love songs as suggested, but there was some sort of trouble in paradise.
Grade B

Album from my youth: Bob Seger-Night Moves (Capitol 1976)

It's a Midwestern thing I guess but I tend to think that Night Moves was a better album from my high school years than Born To Run, the title track was one of those couples dance that you try to find somebody in your high school class only to choose a freshman, which was my best friend's sister.  It's no secret that Bob Seger was one of the hardest rocking dudes out there, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, Noah, Lucifer, even most of Smokin' OPs showed that Seger knew how to rock.  While classic rock radio shoves Turn The Page down our throats (the live version), the little known Back In 72 version was much better, but it was on Reprise and Seger never shown much interest of reissuing that album, nor the acoustic driven and bland Brand New Morning.  Live Bullet saved him from being dumped on his second Capitol go around and for the reward, Seger came up with Night Moves, a very potent album about growing up and growing old, as lead off track Rock And Roll Never Forgets, about when sweet sixteen turned thirty one, and really nobody really didn't think those old rock and rollers would continue to record, into well in their 60s or 70s like Bob has been doing. Night Moves, recorded with Muscle Shoals Swampers rather than the Silver Bullet band, (they only play on the cover of Mary Lou and it's a barn burner), shows Seger with an eye toward a more polished sound rather than the smash and crash of Live Bullet.  Seger must have loved the melody to Fire Down Below so much that he redid it as a cover of Frankie Miller's Ain't Got No Money on the more polished but less inspired Stranger In Town LP  in 1978.  Bob's cover of Come To Poppa is funky rock and roll classic too.  The question do I think this is Bob's best album?  I donno, I like Ramblin Gamblin Man the album and Number 7 a bit more, but in the Bob Vs Bruce wars of best album I'll go with Night Moves over Born To Run, but I know your opinion will differ.
Grade A-



Friday, June 3, 2016

Singles Going Steady 31-Don't Get Weird On Me Babe

Okay.  Another award winning batch of obscure 45s coming your way from the fine folks at The Salvation Army in Davenport.  Basically, I was down there to find the new Monkees CD, only to get one and tried to get it out of the jewelcase, to which it cracked.  Never seen that happen and hope to hell that never happens again.  Therefore, the new Monkees will have to wait another day to review.

The car needed new brakes and that relieved me of 471 dollars.  Maquoketa sits halfway between either Dubuque or Davenport and Anamosa if I wanted to go home.  In the end I decided Davenport would be the place of destination.  Last time I was there, The Salvation Army didn't have a good selection, most were all scratched to hell or just plain jukebox copies that seen better days.  This time out there was more of a selection although if you look at the songs posted, most are not exactly rock and roll but rather oddball curios and obscure pop artists and once again another polka band figures into this.  I'm sure I'm going to lose my credentials by continuing to review weird stuff like The Parkland Singers or The 20th Century Strings or Tony Roma, who may or may not be related to Tony Roma, the dude behind the steak places, that there's a location in Dubuque that might be worth eating at, pending if I had a 50 dollar bill laying around.  I had some tattooed looking dude saying if I was the record boy (been a while since I heard that).  I glanced up and said, "last of a dying breed dude".  No love life and no woman will do that to you.

The past couple days, between BDW and the Army, I managed to find a lot of obscure stuff, but most of them are not rock and roll but rather oddball stuff that are good for a laugh or curio listen.  And then it's put them back in the donation bins and move on to something more important.  In some ways finding these 45s due connect me to a past of growing up listening to all kinds of music.  Even crap like the Four Coins or Janice Harper served a purpose although all signs point to that I am hoarding music and records that I wouldn't give a second listen years ago.  What the hell happened to me?  Have I gotten even weird for Record World?  Or is it that I looking way past the overplayed classic rock crap that is played at bar gigs in order to find something that heard before.  Is it getting to the point that they might have to do a show about my hoarding habits?  Last time I checked, my brother has his own pile of hoarding crap too.  The only good thing about streaming is that it don't add up to pile upon piles of records and CDs but on the downside, not every single I find is on You Tube or even 45 Cat, to which The 20th Century Strings come into play, just like Rafe Vanhoy.  If it's a worthwhile single then it was worth the quarter paid or 50 cents for that matter, if not, at least the 45 sleeve is in good shape.  Unless it's the Gladstone single, then I keep the sleeve and throw the 45 back to the donation pile.

Granted Davenport remains a hot/cold destination and a crapshoot.  I rarely hit it big, but when I did a couple years ago, I tend to tout the finds and continue to revisit that Salvation Army store.  This time out I rolled the dice and it came up between snake eyes and a five, not enough to call it a classic find but not enough to label it a failure like it was in April.  There are record collectors that go there more than I do, they live closer and some of the greedy fucks will find them and try to sell them for make a profit on Ebay or other sites.   I tend to scan off the best finds and post them here.  Sometimes I get to see those scans on 45 Cat.   Most of the time I'm interested in hearing these forgotten songs sound.  And in the end, dedicate another Singles Going Steady series in such nonsense.   A couple classics here, a couple forgettable ones and the rest are somewhere in the middle.

In other words another weird one.

1.   Bride And Groom-The Parkland Singers (Limelight Y-3023)  1964

Polka music with a slight twisted sense of humor.  Didn't chart in 1964.  Limelight was basically used for either jazz or polka music it seems.   Not much is known about The Parkland Singers and I guess that's the way it's going to be.  I've never seen the Limelight record sleeve and it was in good shape.  Just like the record that was in near mint condition.   Probably gathering dust before it got donated to the Salvation Army.

2.  Recado-The 20th Century Strings  (20th Fox 316)  1962

They call it the bossa nova with strings added.   Zoot Sims did a version on Colpix Records (CP-656) the same year but neither song charted.  B side Ring Around A Rainbow sounds like something Mitch Miller would have thought up.  Not exactly rock and roll.  The single is not even listed on 45 Cat.

3.  The Green Door-Jim Lowe  (Dot 45-15486)  #1  1956

I'm guessing the copy I found was a reissue.  Dot in the late 50s was a red label, but this one is the standard black and multi colored letters.  Lowe was more into pop rather than country rockabilly and I think this song got some sort of resurrection around the early 1970s due to a soft core porn movie of the same name.  I think I had another 45 of Lowe's By You By You By You/I Feel The  Beat, a double sided hit, but I don't think I liked it much.  It got donated back to The Salvation Army.  Lowe also did some mind rockabilly covers of Maybelline and Blue Suede Shoes but they do pale next to the original.

4.  Real True Love-Tony Roma (Capitol 5204)  1964

His second and final single for Capitol.  Roma sounds somewhere along the lines of Steve Lawrence or Jack Jones.  In other words not rock and roll but Vegas pop.  B Side This Is My Prayer has a very oddball guitar lick, somewhat like the guitar lick to Six Days On The Road by Dave Dudley, but this is lush pop.  And not rock and roll.  Somebody remembered Roma's MGM's 1961 single No Power In The Universe and managed to post that one.  Enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ageGsJC_Vtg

5.  Cold Gray Bars-Ned Miller (Capitol 4607)  1961

Had a big hit with From A Jack To A King but this was the first of two failed singles for Capitol, written by Spade Cooley.  My Heart Waits At The Door is the B Side and like the failed hit single, pleasant but kinda blah.  The backing vocals don't help either.

6.  Tonight You Belong To Me-Patience And Prudence (Liberty F-55052) #4  1956

I recall NRBQ doing a cool version of this.  But for teenage girls it's quite all right sounding, this song doesn't last very long, it clocks ten seconds short of two minutes. B side A Smile And A Ribbon is a bit too cutey pie for me.  This record despite not having a sleeve is actually in pretty good shape considering it's just about 60 years old.

7.  Why Baby Why-Red Sovine And Webb Pierce (Decca 9-29755)   1955 #1 country charts

George Jones wrote this a long time ago and Red and Pierce covered it to the top of the charts.  Of course George would have a hit of his own later on.  You rarely hear any of the versions on the country charts.  Red is basically known for his CB songs of Giddy Up Go and Teddy Bear, but look deeper and he was one of the best country singers, making some classic sides for Decca and Starday along the way.  B Side Missing You was covered by a few artists (Ray Peterson one of them).

8.  A Piece Of Paper-Gladstone (ABC-11327)  #45 1972

Soft rock country minor hit.  Mike Rabon used to play in The Five Americans and then formed this country band that made one album for ABC.  It was controversial for the word abortion was added to the lyric, but I don't recall hearing this on the radio station at all.  It may have been banned.  Living In The Country is a bit more uptempo, sounds a bit like Poco.

9.  Only One Woman-Nigel Olsson (Rocket/MCA MCA-40337)  #91  1974

Elton John's drummer is no stranger to recording his own albums.  He had a nice debut on UNI and recorded another album for EJ's Rocket label before getting a surprise hit with Dancing Shoes in 1978.  This song written by the Bee Gees and it sounds like E.J. is backing Nigel up with the rest of the classic band.  Alas, this song is better suited for Steve Perry or a higher pitched vocalist.  B side was written by Davey Johnstone.  But I think Elton John sat out on this one. Produced by Gus Dudgeon

10.  So You Are A Star-The Hudson Brothers (Casablanca NB-801)  #21 1974

There are two variations to this song.  Originally when Warner Brothers distributed Casablanca product it came out as (NES-108), a reissue showed it under 801 when Neil Bogart struck out on his own.    The Hudson Brothers have been kicked around on various labels (Lionel, Playboy, in and out of Rocket Records, Arista and Elektra) but on their highest charting single they add a bit of Badfinger/Beatles type of pop to this song.  Still holds up over the years but B side Ma Ma Ma Ma Baby is their hardest rocking best.   I remember stealing this 45 from my Aunt Cindy's record collection when she lived with us for a year.  Good times.  On a side note, I did find their only Casablanca offering Hollywood Situation for two dollars in the cut out bins and it did have some worthwhile moments, such as failed single Coochie Coochie Coo (Casablanca NB 816). Mark Hudson produced Ringo Starr in the 1990s and 2000s and also has worked with Steven Tyler.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Week In Review: End Of May, Start Of June, BDW Record Finds

We started out strong and faded at the end.  Mother Russia gave us a nice boost of a few days of 200 plus views but now the net has been turned off over there and we'll back to the familiar 50 to 75 views a day.  Mostly old stuff that carried this month-the three year old Old 97's Hanging With The Band Blog, I added the Bettie Page Record Player photo once again after it disappeared three times.  It should hang around a while longer.  The Mother Russia Blog wins the number one spot with 41 views, the other three came from this month.  The All Time Views remains a joke.  I think the Swinging Steaks blog certainly has more than 193 all time views.   I don't think you can really rely too much on the stat checker.  Despite not many blogs written, this month turned out the be the best month of views since our record shattering 6,192 views in January, this month 3575 views;  not bad for a seldom read blog that doesn't get much promotion. I'm guess I'm doing well.

So the unofficial beginning of summer starts up with Memorial Day and nothing to really report.  A few bands played over that weekend that I caught part of.  Julie And The Mad Dogs celebrating Sharon Melville's birthday.  I hope Sharon didn't mind having an old crabb giving her a birthday hug.  And the Popcorn Jam, went on for the first time, Tim Duffy was not there and guys carried on.  Weatherwise, it's typical for this time of year, humid, lots of sun, a pop up thunderstorm once in a while, some wind damage in the corn fields but I have to say that May was a uneventful month for storms.


(Photo: Elizabeth Amanieh: KWWL)

Memorial Day where we pay tribute to those who gave some, some gave all and some paid the ultimate price for us to be free but a bunch of fucktards spraypainted the Freedom Rock in Cedar Falls over the weekend, of course everybody got mad about that.   I'm not the flag waving patriot that some like Charlie Daniels stressed to be but when you get douchecanoes who vandalize things such as the Freedom Rock and a few other things, you really want to go Islam on them and cut their fucking hands off, or paint-spray their eyes.  The things we can do without in life: Taggers and Vandals.  A bit of good news: the black paint has been taken off the Freedom Rock and with a bit of touch up paint will be good as new. 

June promises to have some sort of bargain hunting finds as I'm still working on details of doing a major city bargain hunting tour.   The top of month also brings the latest BDW singles as well.   For new music, it'd be nice if Best Buy had the new Monkees album in for review but once again they failed to deliver.  But they did the the new Rap album from whoever available, and continue to shrink their CD selection.

You may have not noticed but the Big Ten Baseball Tournament happened and the Iowa Hawkeyes were on the verge of doing something they've never done, win the title and go into the NCAAs.  They still haven't.  Ohio State came from  a 4-0 deficit and won 8-7.  Alas, the starting pitcher could only last three innings due to a sore shoulder and the reliever promptly gave up the lead, with the BIG TEN announcers, very pro Buckeyes ooh and ahh on every hitter on that team.  Iowa didn't do much in the regular season but got hot winning all the way up to the final game, but ran out of steam.  For their effort, they get to take the rest of the summer off.

Thursday (the 2nd was Marion High School's class of 1979's 37 year reunion.  A very low turnout due to it being on a weeknight but a few of the regulars did show up, Russ Swearingen and Doug Spinler plus the rare appearance of Dave Plond.  I had other plans and was on the wrong side of the state to attend. But it was a good time who showed up. 

Gordon Downie, Tragically Hip's lead singer announced that he is terminally ill with brain cancer, so the band will continue with one more album and a farewell trip.  While most in the states don't know they were still around, they have been going strong in Canada for 35 plus years, although the last album I heard from them Phantom Power was awful.  Their last good album was Fully Completely back in 1993 with the catchy hit single Courage.  MCA declined on Day For Night so Atlantic issued it.   Since then, they have been around on various labels, with so so results.

RIP Dave Swarbrick, best known for his fiddle work with Fairport Convention died Thursday at age 75 from emphysema. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jun/03/dave-swarbrick-obituary

Wounded Bird, the reissue label has quietly been putting out reissues of Rhino Handmade product, but they did put out a 2 CD set of Iron Butterfly Fillmore East 1968 which is a collection of different performances at different times.  If you want four versions of Iron Butterfly Theme, three versions of Are You Happy and four version of So Lo, to go with In A Gadda Da Vada's two fifteen minute versions, this is your baby.  Otherwise, To Bonnie From Delaney, the 1971 classic album from Delaney And Bonnie makes it's first US debut.  That is the one to get for your collection.  You'll thank me later.



It is a slow news week and I have been listening to albums but really don't feel like posting reviews of albums I already reviewed, so I am doing something different.  Samantha Fish is out and about on her 2016 trek through the country and she's back in Davenport on the 16th, with Wooden Nickel Lottery opened up for them at The Redstone Room.   She remains one of the best guitar player out there so catch her if you can.



So far, the new Blake Shelton LP has given Farce The Music some ammo in the Blake Vs Miranda situation, which Miranda doesn't care heads or tails about her former hubby, who's now with Gwen Stefini. But it is worth a laugh or two, despite a bit of photoshopping....or is it?


 (Photo: Steve Truesdell/RFT)

The Social House in University City in Missouri opened up this weekend.  I may have to do a road trip to see this place.  They showing their love to the city council who didn't think much of their body painting topless place. http://www.riverfronttimes.com/stlouis/review-the-food-at-social-house-ii/Content?oid=3076501

Record Reviews:

The Monkees-Good Times! (Rhino 2016)

Fifty years ago, the first episode of The Monkees TV show was shown and life would not be the same again, if you were into them.  Perhaps the first manufactured band, The Monkees benefited from great song writers like Neil Diamond, Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart and let's not forget Carole King and Gerry Goffin.  They were also blessed by the country style of Mike Nesmith who later would have a up and down solo career.  They were on top of the music world in 1966 and 1967 but their creative downfall started when they demanded to do their own songs.  Headquarters was uneven but the next album (Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd. was a classic.  While opinions varied on anything after that (I found Head to be slightly overrated, Changes overlooked) rock really has never embraced The Monkees all that much.  Once in a while they would get back together, sometimes Dolenz and Davy Jones would continue, in 1976 picking up Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart for a meddling album for Capitol, and then on the 20th Anniversary, Peter Tork rejoined them for a surprise hit single of That Was Then This Is Now, and then the trio (without Nesmith) made the poor Pool It!  10 years later, came Justus, an answer record to Headquarters, slightly better but reviews were mixed.  2 decades later, things turn full circle on perhaps their final album Good Times, which takes us back to the S/T album.  The major difference is Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne) producing this album and fans of the band writing some damn good music, even XTC Andy Partridge came up with You Bring The Summer and Rivers Cuomo gave them She Makes Me Smile. Even Mike Viola (the guy that sang the lead to That Thing You Do) helps out as well as members of Fountains Of Wayne and even some old demos produced by Jeff Barry got retouched.  Mike Nesmith adds a bit of irony and hippie dippy on Ben Gibbart's Me And Magdalena and Birth Of An Accidental Hipster, written by the modern day Boyce/Hart  Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher.  I guess for me, my favorite song is the late Davy Jones singing from the grave on Love To Love and this song connects the present with the past.  The passing of Davy Jones really did hurt them, although had he lived, there'd be more ballads but Love To Love and to an lesser extent  Good Times (with old dead rocker Harry Nilsson resurrected on tape to add backing vocals) is really what The Monkees were all about. Fun music and fun pop rock, something that was lacking on Pool It! or Justus.  Nevertheless, the surviving Monkees are now over 70 years old and Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork's vocals do remind us, they no longer 20 years old trying to be pin up poster dolls for teenage girls.  But while time worn, Dolenz and Tork's vocals do sound they're having more fun this time out.  Which might be the last time, since Monkees reunion albums tend to come out every 2 decades.  Which means if they stick around for 2036, they'll be in their 90s.  But let's enjoy Good Times! for what it is worth, a fun trip back the 60s, when a collection of upstart musicians on a TV show trying to be like the Beatles, which is impossible to do, but they did their damnest against all odds  to make decent albums and they sometimes succeeded.  For a reunion album, the 3rd time is the charm, despite losing the cutest Monkee a few years ago, they managed to get some ear candy songs  from fans the likes of Paul Weller, Ben Gibbard, Rivers Cromo and let's not forget Schlesinger himself.   If this is the final goodbye (and history has suggested it might be their last), Good Times is a good time of an album.  Back in 1966 do you ever imagine that these manufactured Fab Four who make a great album five decades later?  Me neither.
Grade A-

Waylon Jennings-Hanging Tough (MCA 1987)

While Will The Wolf Survive was a nice comeback album after RCA dropped him, ole Waylon felled victim to the canned and cold digital recording that plagued Nashville in the late 1980s.  And like fellow outlaw Willie Nelson, Waylon took to classic rock, although Baker Street lacks that saxophone solo that made the original fun and memorable, and Chevy Van which Jennings sounds bored as hell.  This album is best known for his final number 1 song Rose In Paradise, to which country radio never plays anymore.  What saves this record from total meh, is two songs on side 2, Fathers And Son which might be the best song about Dads and Sons ever, better than Cats in The Cradle. And The Crown Prince, which has echoes of what Waylon would do on his RCA return Waymore Blues Part 2. In the end, whatever Jimmy Bowen was trying to do, Waylon wasn't into the sessions and Hanging Touch shows it.   He'd probably better to call this Hanging On, since he was doing that, but barely.
Grade B- 

Let's Hit The Road-More Truck Driving Favorites by Various Artists (Starday 1965?)

Starday remains the most hillbilly country label ever.  If you're into real hillbilly country, Starday is your best bet.  Kind of a minor collection of old hillbilly country truck driving songs from the likes of the Willis Brothers (Give Me Forty Acres), a fun remake of Bubbles In My Beer by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan, Betty Amos's yodeling 18 Wheels, and Jimmy Dean's Bumming Around has been one a few of those old country collections.  Joe Maphis' guitar wheeling  Big Rig Guitar, shows why he was one of the best guitar pickers of the 1950s.   I was familiar with a edited I'm Leaving But Won't Be Long by The Homesteaders but this one adds a few more seconds. Even for a minor collection of truck driver's songs this is a very worthwhile find for me.  Takes me back to the days that country was hillbilly and not Bro country.  The Good old days.
Grade A-

Vince Guaraldi-Oh Good Grief! (Warner Brothers 1968)

The classic Lucy and Linus remains on Fantasy but this Peanuts tinged album came about due to the success of the Peanuts Christmas show and It's The Great Pumpkin and of course I grew up watching and listening the music.  Vince is somewhat like Dave Brubeck although Guaraldi is more straight lined jazz rather the odd timings of Dave.  Adding harpsichord and guitar slants this a bit more toward a rock sound and I think it tries too hard, it should have been more straight lined jazz without the harpsichord.  The title track sure sounds like Down At Papa Joe's, but the re-imagined versions seems more of a distraction than the stripped down versions that you can get on Fantasy.   For a curio listen, it's not bad though.
Grade B

Lukas Graham (Warner Brothers 2016)

And now your hyped album of the month or year.  Farce The Music put it in their best of 2016 and if you like this sort of Hip pop, you might consider and like  it, but I'm too old for this type of music.  Originally this record came out in 2015 under a different cover art and that cover art was NSFW so Graham retouched it for PG purposes.  I'll give him this, he's a damn good songwriter with the top forty hit 7 Years, and the songs do take time to get through to you.  I think the highlight of the record is Strip No More about a guy looking for a certain dancer that isn't at the strip club anymore (sounds familiar) and second highlight is Funeral, to which Lukas wishes that everybody gets wasted at his funeral when the time comes.  I'll drink to that.  Oh, and BTW, the banned cover art is actually tucked inside the digipack. Gets a few points for being a rebellious.
Grade B

Singles Going Steady Medley-BDW Records June Version.

West Of The Wall-Toni Fisher  (Big Top 3097)  #37  1962

Forever known for The Big Hurt, this would be her final top 40 showing in 1962.  It's one of those oddball songs, I can't figure if it's a country spoof or a pop spoof.  B side What Did I Do, is a passable torch ballad.  I guess.

My One Sin-The Four Coins  (Epic 5-9229)  #28  1957

Imagine that, the record has the song titles mixed up,  This Life the B side is typical pop group balladry, somewhat like the Four Preps were doing, or the Four Freshmen or The Four Aces or The Four Whatever.   I think my mom had this song in her original 45's collection.  Sounds more like my Aunt Sarge must have bought this Crew Cuts rip of My One Sin.  I don't think my mom could tolerate listening to this tripe.  I know one listen was enough for me. Back to the donation pile.

Merry Go Round-Helen LaCroix  (Warner Brothers 5261)  1962

Back in the 1960s, Warner Brothers didn't really have a major star outside of the Everly Brothers, and they issued some weird shit in the early 60s.  I couldn't find Dell Paul's Turkey Talk (WB 5260) and somebody did add Italian singer's Gino Paoli's Sassi (WB 5259), both records had too much dirt and mold for me to consider but I did buy LaCroix's song of Merry Go Round. This uncharting single borrows the piano riff of Autumn Leaves but seems to be more country driven.  B side Dear Teacher, is a weird number about a jealous 11 year old girl writing a note to a teacher bout this sort of puppy love.  It's pretty bad.  Nevertheless, the only WB single from LaCroix who disappeared from view after the record flopped.  (I'm not doing very well on this month's finds, NEXT)

Long Distance Love Affair-Rafe Vanhoy (Woodmont  W6464002)  1982?

Another obscure 45, so obscure that 45 Cat has nothing in the database about this song, but Sheena Easton ended up having a number 9 hit with it, renamed Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair). Vanhoy was a successful Nashville songwriter, scoring hits for Tommy Overstreet, Michael Murphy and his wife at the time Deborah Allen (Baby I Lied).  Van Hoy recorded one album for MCA in 1980, and the guess is that this came out after MCA dropped him.  B Side Summertime Gone By Blues is more soft rock than country, in the style of Parker McGee or Dan Seals or Lobo.  Pleasant but forgettable.

Call Me Up (And We'll Get Down)-Maximillion (Columbia 3-10129)  1975

They call this a soul classic but my ears tell me this is more bubblegum pop and it's really not that bad of a song.  Jimmy Wisner is the reason why this is a bubblegum pop number, he co produced with Alan Abrahams.  Outside of that, even the internet draws a blank on this band.

Fire-The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (Atlantic 2556)  #2 1968

The best 45 out of the bunch, imagine that.  Hard to find a decent copy of what is considered a true one hit wonder, although Arthur Brown has been around and still records to this day.  The lineup included Vincent Crane (later of Atomic Rooster) and Carl Palmer (Asia, ELP, 3) and if you look hard enough the old Beat Club video of Arthur is still around, as well as a Top Of The Pops taping. B Side Rest Cure was co written with Crane.  Produced by Kit Lambert and originally put out on Atlantic in the 1960s before Polydor Universal reissued it on CD in the 1990s. Followup single I Put A Spell On You was issued via Track/Atlantic (T-2582) , which failed to chart.  While Nightmare was the A side, our AM station actually played I Put A Spell On You instead. An oddball moment in radio history that nobody really cares about anyway.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvrddPfmOD8