Sunday, March 5, 2017

Week In Review: Springville Girls Back To Back Titles, Modern Sounds Remakes

It's March and basketball championship fever is in the air again.  A bittersweet sort of one though. First the good, The Springville Girls have now won back to back championships by defeating Turkey Valley 45-36 in a rematch from last year.   Leading all the way the girls' defense pretty much kept the other team at bay, although T.V. did get within five with a minute remaining in the game. It was the Springville defense that was stellar through the playoffs, holding Burlington Notre Dame to 16 points the whole game and stymied Kingsley-Pierson 28 points below their average.  Come back next year folks to see if Springville goes for the 3 peat.  All of the starters return including Mikayla Nachazel and Rylee Menster who led the Orioles girls with 15 points.  The girls will celebrate by getting back to the gym the next day (Photo: The Gazette)

For top rated Marion it was a different story, losing out to North Scott in overtime 52-40. North Scott wins their first overall title, and overcoming Marion's lead of 33-27 to eventually outplayed the Indians from there on out.

The New Bo district has been my favorite place to park the car and go do a bit of walking down that area.  It used to be a scary place after the Iowa Steel Works closed up shop and left abandoned.  Three decades ago that place and the old Wilson/Sinclair packing plant were the places to work, I used to do daycare work at St. Wincelaus around that time, but like Wilson and the Iowa Steel/Trade Works is now a distant memory.  The Flood of 2008 managed to recreate the area into now something more preppy and family friendly with the building of the New Bo Market, and the New Bo shops that have now popped up.  As with standard rules, the click bait has an expiration date but the Gazette has put together a nice story about the property around New Bo having a much more higher value.  Which probably means to the renter higher rent too but even I'm amazed of the come back of New Bo, almost 9 years after the great flood changed things.

The Iowa Men's BB team finished strong with a 90-79 victory over Penn State Sunday to finish 18-13 for the season with the Tournaments coming up, they will be seated 7th.  They have won their last three games after stumbling against Illinois at home, but taking out Maryland and Wisconsin on those team's floor the Hawkeyes are playing their best ball.  They're still on the bubble on NCAA consideration but they are in a lot better shape than two weeks ago. Peter Jok scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half, Nicolas Baer added 20 points of his own.  Jok, playing his last game as senior has stepped up his game and can be considered to be  a good pick for the NBA   While the Hawkeyes get ready for the B1G Tournaments in DC, The Iowa Women, going through a disappointing year was defeated by Northwestern 78-73 in round 2 in the Tourneys, poking a hole for their NCAA chances. They may have to settle on the NITs, if they get picked.

Once again the Iowa Men's team fell apart in the first round of the B1G Ten Tournament, getting blown out by Indiana 95-73.  The Hoosier caught fire and made 12 out of 19 3 point baskets as well. Hard to beat somebody when they are shooting 75 percent from 3 point land.  So once again it's one and done  (Iowa hasn't advanced past the second round since 2013) and maybe they are better off in the NITs.  After having a nice three game winning streak, the Hawks have return to a fucked up offense that couldn't beat Nebraska Omaha earlier in the season.  Pretty bad when Rutgers wins more games in the tourney than the Iowa did.   I'm also thinking the Cubs will be back in the world series again before Iowa wins a Big Ten Tournament game.

Passings: Robert Osbourne, host of TCM movies.  He was 84. Died from a long illness.  Osbourne would provide opening and closing commentary on movies shown on Turner Classic Movies, which remains the best channel to watch movies.  Commercial free.

(Photo:Beth Van Zant-Muscatine Journal)

The storms of March 6th came tearing across this part of the state with 2 EF2 Tornadoes touching down in the area of Bennett, Eldridge and NW Davenport  around 10 PM. But a more stronger EF 2 Tornado tore through The Muscatine area, injuring 3 people and tearing a roof off a church and destroying the church organ in the process.  Also, twisters were reported around  Bernard and Zwingle in Dubuque county, another tornado tore the roof off a school in Seymour and Knoxville reported two tornadoes as well.  Up here, it was a wind event, with some straight line winds knocking over sheds.  Springtime in Iowa.  For the rest of the week, weather should be windy and below normal.  Weekend highs only in the mid to upper 30s.

Click Bait: A profile of The Dawn Sean Ryan.  His band The Dawn is the premier jam band in the state.

For the second time in as many weeks, I went to Davenport to pick up a new guitar and find some more hoarding albums to take home. The Salvation Army Collector's Corner, the place where I find the cheaper and more varied of the singles, is having a great reopening since they decided to paint the place.  I really didn't think I would find much since I was there 2 weeks ago...

OOH, Looky Here, More Singles Going Steady Medley!

Let's Cry Together-Patti Page (Mercury 72044)  1962

Her final singles for Mercury had her going country and they didn't placed on the charts.  I'm guessing the other side Every Time I Hear Your Name was the A side and Shelby Singleton has her going more toward a  Lesley Gore sound.  Let's Cry Together was co written by Singleton and Jerry Kennedy.

I Wonder-Brenda Lee (Decca 31510)  #25
My World Is Falling Down  #24

Double sided hit from Little Miss Dynamite and a better song than Losing You reviewed a month ago. Co written by Cecil Gant it's more in line with I'm Sorry, complete with a piano hook that makes a the song a minor classic, later covered by Humble Pie of all bands. My World Is Falling Down, Bill Anderson shares writing credit.

Bye Bye Love-Webb Pierce (Decca 30321)  #73  1957

Both Webb and The Everly Brothers recorded this song and both charted, the Everlys won out with the overall showing.  Pierce was gradually moving away from the Hank Sr sound to a honky tonk rockabilly style that managed to give him some pop success on the charts.   For a record that has seen better years it plays very good despite it all.

You Played On A Player-Garland Green (UNI 55213)  1969

The other side Angel Baby has a  big old creator scratch but You Played On A Player is kinda of a nice Northern soul sound.  Angel Baby more uptempo but feels more like a throwaway.   Green's next single Jealous Kind Of Fella made it to number 20, but I never heard it on the radio even back then. I think Angel Baby may have been the plug side but since it didn't chart and since Played On A Player is in better shape, I go with the latter for a pick hit.

I've Been Everywhere-Hank Snow (RCA 47-8072)  #68  1962

One of only two singles that Snow ever got on the pop charts.  In the early 1960s, Chet Atkins put together what was called The Nashville Sound and people complained about how polished everything was.  Which made the recordings sounding much better, compare the hard honky tonk of Webb Pierce's Bye Bye Love to I've Been Everywhere and weep.  I'm sure the Anita Kerr singers didn't help either but I liked her arrangements on most of the RCA artists she backed up.  Snow had the big hits in the 50s but by the 60s' he was winding down, but I've Been Everywhere is one of his best songs.  I think it's still better than the Johnny Cash version.

You Don't Know Me-Ray Charles (ABC Paramount 45-10345)  #2 1962
Take These Chains From My Heart (ABC Paramount 45-10435) #8 1963

Growing up, Ray Charles on ABC Paramount was the singles that I grew up with, beginning with the long trashed That Lucky Old Sun and many others; Concord Bicycle was kinda enough to issues all of his ABC singles into a big ole glorious box set that I probably played twice.  But being a bargain hunter, finding any of Ray's ABC Paramount singles in great shape is a chore upon itself but I did managed to find two of them during my Salvation Army visit. Both figured in Ray's playing country and western music his own way, complete with syrupy strings on Chains and a bluesy Gerald Wilson arrangement on Careless Love and Ray's double duet on No Letter Today.  While people worried that Charles' country period would have ruin his career, it didn't.  In fact Charles may have responsible for saving ABC Records.  Note the catalog numbers of the forty fives.

Song Sung Blue-Neil Diamond (UNI 55326)  #1  1972

His second and final Number 1 single.  Probably too MOR for me to play all that much but I do like the song. Like Lean On Me, whoever had these songs got them 2 for a dollar at Target around 1972 thereabouts. B side Gitchy Goomy is another Neil Diamond nonsense song he was famous for putting out as B sides at that time.  He was smoking something off the wall for sure.

Beep Beep-The Playmates (Roulette R-4115) #4  1958

I guess they were bubblegum teen idol pop back in the day and my mom had a couple of their other singles in her collection (Jo-All and What Is Love?) but not this novelty write up rewording of Hot Rod Lincoln.  Out of all of their hits, Beep Beep is heard the most times. But like the Paul Ankas, Georgia Gibbs, etc of the world The Playmates are forgotten.

He's So Fine-The Chiffons  (Laurie 3152)  #1 1963

How to make a perfect song in under two minutes: come up with a memorable hook and sing along lyrics and have a good time of it.  Perfect example: this song.  The number 5 followup One Fine Day is more of the same, but then later hits wouldn't be as memorable till the 1966 number 10 single A Sweet Talking Guy.  The Kitchen Cinq did a subpar version of She's So Fine to which I'm probably the only person that knows such a record exists.  I have that forty five as well.  Hoarders are us.

Witch Doctor-David Seville (Liberty 55132) #1  1958

For the first time ever, we have no fewer than 3 number 1 hit singles on this Singles Going Steady blog and that might be as ironic as it gets.  Ross Bagdasarian (no relation to the Kadashians thank God) was a good piano player and arranger (Rosemary Clooney's Come-On A My House) and was an actor of sorts (best known for the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rear Window, although he appears on The Greatest Show On Earth and Stalag 17) but he was more of a musician than actor. Upon buying a tape recorder, Seville (let's use that instead of the Bagdasarian banner,easier to type) found that he could manipulate voices at different speeds and octaves, and Witch Doctor was the first song for Seville to try out this new found process of voice manipulation.  While critics maintained that Sheb Wooley and Ray Stevens did this better (Purple People Eater for Sheb, Bridget The Midget for Stevens) the more rougher style of Seville was more original and better.  Eventually, the success of this single would feature more off the wall recordings before Seville went for a 3 part harmony of The Chipmunk Song and his new found creation The Chipmunks which would spawn off pale imitations of the real thing (Dancer, Prancer and Nervous, Shirley And Squirrely, or if you think about it, The Nutty Squirrels which worked better due to a more jazzy arrangements and better musicians).  Ross's passing from a heart attack in 1972 ceased the Chipmunks till his son took over in 1979 and since then has kept The Chipmunks alive with albums and later movies.  But in air fairness, Witch Doctor is the first song that would pave the way toward The Chipmunks, and still remains a goofy but much loved novelty classic.


12 Top Hits (Battle Of Bonnie And Clyde Etc)-Various Artists (Modern Sound 1968)

From the folks that gave you Hit Records, they were continuing to put out albums and singles up till the end of the decade till either they quit selling or ASCAP or BMI were bitching about not getting paid, but parent label Spar Records had offshoot labels of remakes of hits.  So here we are, trying to reason why it's worth hearing 50 years after the fact.  First of all, Spar was out of Nashville and had access to some of the finest musicians in town (Boots Randolph, Bill Justis, Bergen White) and while they had did their best to faithfully recreate the sound of the hit singles, it doesn't work very well, who ever is doing the Davy Jones vocal on Valerie just don't fit, and Simon Says is embarrassing be it 1910 Fruitgum Company or cover bands.  That's Charlie McCoy on harp on Jackson and original songwriter on Honey and Little Green Apples is Bobby Russell. Not that you would want to hear Honey be it Bobby Goldsboro or Bobby Russell but it is a unique take.  So so versions of Bonnie And Clyde  and Poor Side Of Town and whoever did Jackson ( did pay attention to how Nancy and Lee did it.  But if the highlights are Honey and Little Green Apples what to make the rest of the song on this?
Grade C+

Various-Parade Of Hits 1963  (Modern Sound 1964)

I'm always having fun trying to piece who sang what on these covers, could it be the late great Skeeter Davis ghost singing on her hit single The End Of The World under the name Kathy Taylor? (none are credited), and there's a ahead of it's time fuzz bass on Sugar Shack (or maybe it's a scratchy record), whoever's playing guitar on Memphis is giving Lonnie Mack a run for it's money. Certainly side 1 is a good listen.  Side 2, you get a credible remake of Reverend Mr. Black (by Bobby Russell)  before the silly shit comes next ( Henry Frolic's On Top Of Spaghetti, surprised nobody suggested Beans In My Ears).  It rebounds with "Sammy Fox" tackles Major Lance's The Monkey Time, (Curtis Henry did a version of Um Um UM Um Um which isn't too bad) I Kadez then polishes up Louie Louie and things conclude with Music City Five's Sukiyiki.  The sound on this album is a bit more warmer than the 12 Top Hits reviewed earlier and if you can stomach On Top Of Spaghetti you might find it entertaining.  As the nameless artists, I went with was posted on the Hit Records singles listings.  You're free to assume who did what.
Grade B

12 Top Hits (Cried Like A Baby etc.)  (Modern Sound 1968)

When you get the liner notes written upside down you get the feeling that by this time Spur Records didn't care much outside of writing these albums off as tax losses. More guessing.  Kathy Shannon does another Dionne Warwick cover of Do You Know The Way To San Jose, The Chords take on Lady Madonna, which sounds more soulful than it should, The Jalopy Five take on Young Girl and Cried Like A Baby, and it sounds like two different bands.  I suppose I'm wasting too much time trying to sort who did what.  While the recording and production on Parade  Hits Of 1963 was fairly good, this time out, the recording sounds like a 1.98 tossoff.  And Young Girl sucks, be it Gary Puckett or Jalopy Five.  So does The Unicorn.  BTW, Archie Bell And The Dwells are not the band doing this parody of Tighten Up.  There's a bit of sour fart notes on A Taste Of Honey and the rest is throwaway background noise, Hang On Sloopy not bad but doesn't differ much from the original an d bar bands.    After three albums of hearing cover versions of hits long ago and forgotten, I think I had my share of them.   A product of the times, the 1.98 alternative to the originals if you care.   But of the course the original versions were better.
Grade C

Ryan Adams-Prisoner (Pax-Am 2017)

In following the antics of Ryan for the past two decades I have come to conclude he tends to be a bit overrated.  At his best (Whiskeytown-Faithless Street, Cold Roses) he tends to have compatible musicians keeping him in check, at his worst (Love Is Hell, Rock And Roll) he tends to overstay his welcome after the first song. The Lost Highway years he threw any and everything at his listeners and even his record label told him to cut that out.  Since being on Blue Note, Adams is heard less often but here he is back after a couple years from his last album, making the grand statement Do You Still Love Me, which really kick things off very well. And then the next 11 songs, Adams plays the same song with different lyrics.  I took a pass on his Taylor Swift tribute album but I tend to think he's better at writing breakup albums.  Prisoner is not as soul shattering as per say The Townedgers' Pawnshops For Olivia, We Disappear is a more sunnier outlook than Beyond The Sun, but in the end it's over and nothing ever gonna to change that.  In the end, Prisoner continues the critics love for Adams, but to these ears there's a unfinished feel to the album.  But I'm sure he'll return very soon for a followup.
Grade B

Toad The Wet Sprocket-PS (A Toad Retrospective)  (Columbia 1999)

For all intent, Toad is better served on a best of; I have had a hard time listening to their studio albums.  For every good song they would have 10 subpar or worse. I remember Hold Her Down being played on the radio a couple times (in this day and age it's basically banned) and Crazy Times I got confused with Crowded House (don't ask), They tended to borrow too much from REM and after Hold Her Down, this comp ends with 2 unreleased turds that tend to bog this collection down. In terms of 90s alternative rock Toad wasn't the best of them,but they weren't the worst either, somewhat less interesting than say, Sister Hazel but better than Dog's Eye View or Let Love In era Goo Goo Dolls.
Grade B

Black Uhuru-Strongg (Mesa 1994)

There are two classic periods of B.U, one the classic Island years with Michael Rose and Puma Jones helping Duckie Simpson and the second and lesser known, the original lineup of Don Carlos and Garth Dennis rejoining in the 1990s to which this 1994 album would be the last to feature Carlos and Dennis.  As with most reggae albums of the 1990s, this relies too much on electronic drums and keyboards but it is a very inspired album, especially when Sly Dunbar pops up on Yes I and final track I Pray.  The title track (yes it's called Strongg) is fine as well.  Mystical Truth, is the best of the albums done during the Carlos/Simpson/Dennis era but Strongg is a good album too.
Grade B+

John Mayall-Tough (Eagle 2009)

For a guy not in the both, the blues hall of fame or rock and roll hall of fame, Mayall has gotten the short end of the stick and for almost 60 years of playing blues rock boogie, he's managed to get some of the finest musicians ever to play on his albums,  Even late in his career, he's gotten a fine group in Rocky Athas on lead guitar and Jay Davenport playing drums and Tough continues Mayall's fine albums of this century.  Gotta love his sense of humor on That Good Ole Rockin Blues to which he shares his displeasure of rap.  He can boogie with the best of them (Nothing To Do With Love) and slow it down as well (Slow Train To Nowhere). He may have been 75 when he recorded Tough, but he backs that up with some kick ass music.
Grade B+

Edgar Winter-The Definitive Collection (Real Gone 2016)

Out of all the classic rockers of the 1970s, Edgar might be the least essential of them all.   I tend to think his best of is They Only Come Out At Night, the album that Winter concedes it was a commercial stab after Clive Davis let him do his own thing on the first couple albums.  Hanging Around was left off in favor of Alta Mira (not exactly a fair exchange) and the remix of Free Ride will forever remain on a 45 unless somebody puts it out on a lost 45s collection series (Maybe Eric Records since they're good at digging up stuff like that). Jerry LaCroix might have been Winter's favorite singer but Dan Hartman offered more in songs like Free Ride and River's Rising.  Older brother Johnny pops in on a rocking Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo, but after the so so success of River's Rising, Edgar decided on going back to a more jagged R and B sound and eventually disco (Stickin' It Out).  Great liner notes by Bill Kopp.  Outside of that, you're on your own, The Rhino best is less extreme and has Hangin Around, so does They Only Come Out At Night
Grade C

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