Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Week In Review: Trainwrecks Are Us

Happy New Year!

And the same old shit continues.  Marah Carey didn't have a good New Year's Eve night when she tried to lip sync to a bunch of old songs that made her famous, but she claims that the earpieces that Dick Clark Productions gave her didn't work and they promised that they would.  Nevertheless, Carey half danced and half commented through the whole ordeal while social media world blew up big time.  And Dick Clark Productions claimed innocence.  I've seen the videos posted and Carey simply bit her tongue and did the best she could, making the best out of a bad situation. http://969thekat.iheart.com/articles/trending-104650/mariah-careys-odd-performance-on-new-15427870/

It wasn't a good ending to 2016 for Rhonda Rousey as she got her ass kicked by Amanda Nunes, nor Ohio State getting whitewashed by Clemson 31-0.  However the big trainwreck was down at Raymond James Field in Tampa as Florida kicked Iowa's ass 30-3 in the Outback Bowl.  So far 2017 has picked up on the shit luck where 2016 left off.  Once again, with the piss poor performance by the Hawkeyes, has gotten mainstream media wondering why the hell Iowa was in a New Year's Bowl game anyway, Paul Feinbaum calling Iowa, The Pinata of the the Bowls and with five straight losses in a row and three fucking blowouts I agree with him.  Iowa showed less this game  than the Rose Bowl debacle.  CJ Bethard, playing his final game for Iowa was hurt and after pulling a hamstring couldn't function as Florida kept sending defense players past Iowa's Ole blockers and getting up close and personal with CJ.  Akim Wadley, was the only bright spot  rushing for 115 yards and with LaShaun Daniels, the first two Iowa running backs with over a thousand yards for the first time ever. Let's just leave it at that and hope that 2017, Iowa can improve. The defense should be better although they will be losing Desmond King.  But in the final analysis, even with a 8-5 record, The Hawks were average, their best showing was in November, but the rest of the season, they sleepwalked though it all.

Over New Years' Eve, a car  was spotted abandoned on the Julian Dubuque Bridge and sad news is that Alison Morgan may have jumped into the Mississippi River.  She has been missing since Saturday Night and sad to report that Morgan may have gone under the ice.  Rescue efforts have been put on hold till the the weather gets better.

After 31 years, the Marion Maid Rite is closing their doors on January 31st, giving the town folk a few more weeks to enjoy a maid rite before it's gone forever.  The owners thought it was a good time to retire.   I wish them well.

So here we are again, a new year and I'm already sick and tired of trying to write this blog and using the back space key every other time or have spell check pop up just as much.  Over 1,000 views for the first three days and not too bad, but in reality, it's a bitch and I've been dealing with sore hands from playing guitar and drums and blogging to document things.  But I'm still here, deleting most of the spam crap from Blogger spammers and keeping things up to date.  I'll be back later to continue the music news.  Been doing this for 15 years now.  It's a vice and hard habit to break.

Record Reviews:

Harvey Headbanger (2010)

One of the premier hard rock and metal bands in this area took the time to make an 8 song CD.  They were much better of covering Rock You Like A Hurricane or Welcome To The Jungle. The band lineup varied and changed over time, Terry McDowell would replace Craig Sprat and Ted Reily took over for Dave Calhoun.  But on this effort Sprat along with Harvey writes the majority of these Hairball inspired songs.  Perhaps they should have done a metal covers instead of originals.   Very Spinal Tap, with the inspired lyric I going to drop my coin into your slot.  If you're up into how they sound like, the original guys play on this 2011 video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps980Uid7I4

Harem Scarem Rocks (Wounded Bird 2001)

While Harvey Headbanger may have celebrated their inner Spinal Tap, Harem Scarem did a better job of creating that 80s hard rock sound that could rival Night Ranger or Loverboy, although I think H.S. was better than their Canadian counterparts.  But they were 10 years too late to the 80s rock scene but you gotta love them for giving the old college try.  Wounded Bird issued the majority of their 90s albums when Warner Brothers US passed on them and really peppered up the the albums with plenty of bonus tracks.  Saviors Never Cry would be playing on classic rock radio and No Justice could possibly be a nice take on Sammy Van Hagar Van Halen.  But I think these guys were in line with Little America or Honeymoon Suite too, they had enough rock and roll hooks to their music.  A companion CD Ballads, is as advertised but I prefer my 80s rock uptempo and this is a good sampler of a band that was big in Japan (so to speak) but unknown in the states.
Grade B+

Lawrence Gowan-Lost Brotherhood (Anthem 1990)

Gowan has been the lead vocalist of Styx for quite some time but in the 1990s under his last name Gowan, he managed to win SOCAN awards up in Canada.  This record features Alex Lifeson (Rush) playing guitar and Tony Levin (King Crimson) and Jerry Moretta on drums and it's a underrated cutout classic.  Found this for 40 cents at Stuff Etc, and Gowan can sing like Geddy Lee (not the helium screams but rather latter day (Hold Your Fire) era Rush but he can also sound like Peter Gaberial and Peter Himmel too.  He had a number 6 (Canada) single with All The Lovers In The World, but Gowan showed a bit of Progressive rock too, especially on side 2 with songs like Holding Them Back and Message From Heaven.  Like Harem Scarem, Gowan had good success in Canada but in the US, even on Rush's label, he couldn't get arrested. A shame really, it's worth a listen
Grade B+

Black Rose (Casablanca 1980)

Cher's first attempt of a hard rock move and it's actually fairly good, despite having James Newton Howard as producer (not exactly a rock and roll producer although he did get good results with this album and later on, Jude Cole's Start The Car). Cher does go over the top at times with songs like Julie and Young And Pretty but it's not Mariah Carey over the top bad. Les Dudek (remember him?) does provide a bit of relief with You Know It and the Bad Company influenced Fast Company  (irony in the title don't ya think?).  While Cher did have a top ten hit with Take Me Home for Casablanca, there's nothing on this album that sounds disco, unless Trey Thompson's bass popping shows up from time to time.   Next to I Paralyze, one of Cher's finer moments and it sure in the hell beats her hair metal garbage for Geffen at the end of the decade.  A guilty pleasure.
Grade B  

Freddy Cannon-Action! (Warner Brothers 1965)

My final offering comes from a free album that I found outside of Analog Vault in New Bo and it's a period piece.  Very short album, 25 minutes long give or take a second or two and really, Cannon has no business covering Papa's Gotta Brand New Bag or High Heel Sneakers.  Beachwood City is Abigail Beecher with different lyrics and Palisades Park's music.   Nothing tops the title track and even if the album is slight, I always loved Cannon from Tallahassee Lassie onward.  Second best song is You Gotta Help Yourself, filler for sure but it has a nice hook to make me remember this album, long after I forgotten the rest.
Grade B-

The Wapsipinicon Dreamers (Maier 2017)

The side project of Rodney Smith and it has been a 25 year record in the making.  Originally a band with Chris Dutcher joining up didn't pan well and the whole thing got shelved, till being inspired enough to finally come up with something after The Townedgers finished up Jubilee.   The W.D. eventually became reality as a busman's holiday with Mark Mason and Mel Strobie joining Martin Daniels, Geoff Redding and R. Smith but the liner notes don't say who played what.   It was supposed to be a country album, and it does have a country sound but it doesn't differ all that much from The Townedgers sound.   Anybody who decides to add If I Were A Carpenter, Fly Away Home, Oh Death, Splendid Isolation, You Can't Touch This, Let Your Love Flow, Solitary Man does have a skewed sense of humor.   In essence, The Wapispinicon Dreamers are no different than a local bar band although bar patrons would be leaving for the door on the more eclectic songs.  Still, it's Rodney Smith's show and album and the acoustic jams have done him wonders judging by this version of Dead Flowers which is more to the studio version by the Stones and not the wild TE Country version.  And The Life We Lead is faster than the Townedgers' version, and more to the point.   While The Townedgers albums have had cover songs before, this album showcases the covers than original, although Baby Wanna Dance is that obligatory Town's Edge Rock cover.  BTW, Fox On The Run is not The Sweet version but rather the Tom T Hall bluegrass number done rock style.
Grade B+

Mark Prindle had started to review albums again on his FB site.  While a lot of the bands are not ones I'm familiar with he is looking at some of the better known acts to which I picked the best of the bunch. 

The Doors - London Fog 1966 - Supposedly the earliest Doors recording ever released, this features the band playing a bunch of blues covers and only two originals -- "Strange Days" (which wouldn't be released until their second album) and "You Make Me Real" (which wouldn't be released until their FIFTH album, for Pete's sake!). It's of historical interest, but that's it. The set list is boring ("Hoochie Coochie Man," "Baby Please Don't Go," etc.) and they weren't exactly the cream of the young white blues crop.  (Crabby note: I noticed on their live albums their blues cover versions are somewhat half assed, Morrison never really deliver the blues songs at all live.)

Bruford - One of a Kind - In his autobiography, Bill Bruford called this one of the three best albums he's ever played on (the other two being "Close to the Edge" and "Red"), but this mostly sounds like corny smooth jazz-rock to me. There are some cool proggy synth riffs scattered throughout, but the overwhelming feel is that of '80s fusion. Not for me!

Strawbs - Grave New World - Folksy, symphonic prog rock. When it's good (which is often!), it reminds me of Jethro Tull or the Moody Blues. At its worst, the songs are too soft and la-de-da, like Cat Stevens or something. I'm not fond of the lead singer's ugly voice, but the other guys contribute lovely harmony vocals.

Colosseum - Valentyne Suite - Hippie freakout music, low-down boogie-woogie blues, butt-grooving funk, horn-drenched jazz-rock and organ/piano-driven prog rock. It's very dated, but still a fun listen. I wouldn't run out and buy it or anything, but the sidelong title track is definitely worth a listen.
Nina Hagen Band - S/T - Starts off with a German cover of "White Punks on Dope"! Then progresses into German language original compositions that combine rock guitars, new wave synths and funk/dance rhythms. Some of the music's alright, but her voice is gruff and not to my liking.

 Elvis Costello - Brutal Youth - I listen to this and know full well it's not my type of music -- too slow, too old-timey singer-songwriter poppy -- but I enjoy so many of the songs! (Not ALL of them, but at least half). Elvis cares about melody. And I don't hate his voice anymore!

If - 3 - British jazz-prog-rock, with an uneven mix of horn-driven brappiness, piano-driven laid back tunes, cool rockin' proggish synths, and corny dogshit -- with Spooky Tooth-style bluesy vocals (or "Steve Winwood-style," if you don't know Spooky Tooth). Some of the songs are perfectly enjoyable, but others are just awful.

Ramones - The Family Tree - Double-cd compilation of side projects, guest appearances and solo material. Some good, some bad. You don't need it. (Do try to check out Dee Dee's hilarious cover of Metallica's "Jump in the Fire" though!)

Neil Young and Bluenote Cafe - Bluenote Cafe - If you loved the Chicago blues stylings of "This Note's for You," you'll LOVE two hours and 15 minutes of it! Although the six-piece horn section sounds really good and all the recordings sound terrific, there are definitely some sections on this double-CD that make me never want to hear Chicago Blues again (the middle of disc 1, for example). It can get very generic and tedious. As a whole though, there is some great stuff on here and it's definitely worth hearing if you're a Neil fan. There are some otherwise unavailable originals, and they even do "On the Way Home" and a super-long version of "Tonight's the Night"!

Pixies - Head Carrier - I hated "Indie Cindy," so was shocked by how much I enjoy this one. It's good! Just good melodic songs, with a female bassist who sings every now and again. A few sound a bit too "Pixies"-ish, but maybe that's just the noise that comes out when these guys get together. I enjoy this one so much that it turned me back into a Frank Black fan! I hadn't been into him for a few years, but this did the trick. I guess my next step should be to try "Indie Cindy" again?


TAD said...

Re: Harvey Headbanger -- Steve Winwood's ARC OF A DIVER has a song called "Second Hand Woman" that includes the lyric: "Go down babe, a slot machine, take my dime...." And I thought he was such a ladies' man.... Jeez, it didn't take much to figure that one out, even back in 1980....

R S Crabb said...

Harvey Headbanger is a local band here so I doubt you ever heard of their song. Not that you really want to. ;)