Thursday, March 23, 2017

Week In Review: What New Music, Chuck Berris, Sib Hashian

With me getting busy at work, I haven't had much time of posting things.  Which really doesn't matter since the December 5, the same blogs getting read over and over again (Christmas 2016 still putting in double digits views and Blogger hasn't posted the 10th most viewed blog of all time.  For the first time since December 1, readers dropped under a 100 views: 81 on St Patrick's Day.  We're still have 100 plus readers so say the ratings but I believe it's more of a alternative fact. Divide two from the actual readership and that's probably the right numbers.

In the meantime new music is coming out, but I'm not hearing it.  The total albums reviewed the whole year so far: five.  Somewhere along the way Nicki Minaj has passed Aretha Franklin with the most Billboard hot 100 hits entries ever with 76 "songs" passing Franklin's 73.  Nicki placed 3 new singles on the chart last week, and none of the 76 songs I have ever heard.  To which Minaj gave folks her Twerk of support.   But it shows my age, or indifference.  The only place I could ever hear her auto tuned robotic voice might have been at the downtown Taco Bell as they play Urban R and B (Rap).  But then again, like TV, I don't pay attention to the radio, it's the same 300 songs on Classic Rock, New Country sucks and the less said about top forty radio the better.  Record World congratulates Ms. Minaj on her ability to make the top 100, but in the end I still prefer the original Alvin Chipmunk and Ross Bagdasian for being trailblazers of auto tuned sounds.

For the first time in about 2 years, I couldn't find a thing to buy at Moondog Music.  Sometimes that's the way things go.  Did find a few 45s at the Goodwill Maquoketa store and a couple Goodwill Dubuque CDs but this time out, it was a bust.

Speaking of busts, The Iowa Hawkeyes are done from the NITs.  With a whopping 25 turnovers and going 8 out of 19 in free throw shooting at home, TCU outlasted them 92-90 in Overtime concluding a season of high peaks and low valleys and the Hawks finally succumbing from their dismal free throw shooting abilities.   Jordan Bohannan  kept Iowa in the game with a couple of three point bombs but in the end, playing no defense and being generous in turnovers and a developing career in bricklaying  has put the 2016-1017 season in the history books.   The Hawks lose Peter Jok and his 91 percent free throw shooting from the line but everybody else should return.   Hopefully some of them will learn to shoot free throws too.

Something about Carver Hawkeye Arena that seems to help the other team rather than the Hawkeyes, the Iowa Girls made the sweet 16 before Washington State beat them in Iowa City 74-66.  Ally Disterdorf finishes her career at all time leader in scoring with 2.102 points. While Iowa scored the first 12 points and a 20-13 lead, they went on a 7 minute scoreless streak that doomed them. Strangely Washington has a losing record in the WNIT, they're now 16-19 and going to the final four in the WNIT.  The Hawkeye girls should have not even lost to this team, even more so at home.  On the positive side of things in the state, the local Junior College girls Kirkwood won the Division 2 Junior College title with a 61-46 win over Johnson Country (Kansas) Simone Goods scored 19 pounts and got 17 rebounds and was named MVP of the Tournaments.

Again Steve Alford made the sweet sixteen in the NCAAs only to be shown the door once again  Kentucky beat them 85-76.  While Indiana would love to welcome him back, Alford swears he's happy at UCLA and will stay there.  Not sure if Bruin Nation will like that, oh and Rent A Player Lonzo Ball has declared for the NBA draft, much to the happiness of his dad.   He should be a top three player taken.  UCLA will reload on replacements.

Passings: Chuck Barris, best known for giving us The Gong Show and The Newlywed Game passed away from a long illness on Tuesday, he was 87.

While Tom Scholtz brings his Boston band back in town again another of his former bandmates has passed away.  Sib Hashian the burly Afro haired style power drummer died from a heart attack playing on stage on a rock and roll fantasy cruise ship Wednesday Night, he was 67.  Sid was brought on board to beef up some of the demos that led to Boston's first album and stayed on board for live shows since Scholtz tended to do most of the songs himself with little input from the classic Boston lineup.  But while Tom continue to use other members to do later albums, Sib would play drums for Barry Gourdeau's 1980 S/T album to which Barry managed to capture the Boston sound along with the late Brad Delp who ten years ago left the world. But throughout the rest of Sib's life he would help Barry and Brad on various projects.  In fact Sib was with Barry and Mike Antunes on that cruise jam.

As we get older, what remaining bands of the classic rock era are gearing up for "farewell" tours and Fleetwood Mac is one of them.  While Stevie Nicks lamented about the Mac never making another album again that didn't stop Christine McVie and Lindsay Buckingham to come up with new songs for a forthcoming album called Buckingham/McVie with John McVie and Mick Fleetwood providing rhythm. It may or may not be issued on Reprise.  In the meantime the late Chuck Berry's new album is due in stores (or online buying) tomorrow. Simply called Chuck it was his final album of new songs since the disappointing Rock It! in 1979   Although Keith Richards might have grieve over the passing of the rock and roll riff king, the way I been hearing reports, Chuck didn't care much for the guy, I could be wrong.  They butted heads constantly in the making of the 1986 Hail Hail Rock And Roll and Berry punched him in the face when Richards touched Chuck's guitar.  For myself, I celebrated Chuck's passing by playing both volumes of the Rarities albums that MCA put out in 1985, remastered by Steve Hoffman and Hoffman did a great job cleaning the tapes up. Plus listening to Fresh Berries, the first Chuck Berry album I ever bought (1.99 at Arlan's many moons ago), still a fun album although Berry by then was repeating himself.  In fact he used the same riffs for Merrily We Rock and Roll and Every Day We Rock And Roll, and another bunch of same riffs to My Mustang Ford and Ain't That Just Like A Woman.  Berry was getting quite lazy by Fresh Berries but the record still is a fun listen. A lot more fun before the mediocre Mercury era came around, come to think of it, Fresh Berries was the truly last fun Chuck Berry album ever. By then he was resting on his reputation and there's plenty of stories of his legacy around.  Both good and bad.

Singles Going Steady Medley-Maquoketa 45's

It's been a lackluster bunch of finds for CDs, nothing found in Coralville nor Dubuque and the only things of note were some quarter finds of 7 inch vinyl.    Reviewed in real time.

1)  Ruby Baby-"Larry Dexter"  Hit Records No. 52  1963

Continuing our look at the cheaper versions of the hit singles from the folks at Spur/Hit Records.  For the most part some of the better Nashville session players did play on these 39 cent bargains. We really don't know who Larry Dexter is but he does a credible version of Dion's number and I gotta admire the folks at Hit Records to keeping the arrangements as close to the Dion performance including the ad libs.  Certainly, the enthusiasm by the Nashville session players have made searching out these early Hit Records versions worth hearing, although by the late 60s, indifference to the modern music of the Beatles and such were beginning to creep up.  Dexter would make one more single Blue On Blue on the more pop slanted Giant Records (no relation to the 1990s label) but even the internet cannot crack the secrecy of who Larry Dexter was.  That goes for Rett Hardin on B Side of the cover of Bobby Darin's You're The Reason I'm Living, which is more up Nashville's alley it's fun to guess who was doing what, but the piano player sounds a lot like Hargis Pig Robbins, who played on many many Nashville sessions.

2)  Promise Me Anything Blues-Dora (Dorothy)  Hall (Reinbeau 6060)  1966?

Another of those artists who you see records in the thrift bins and have no idea who they are.  It took a while to find anything on her, nothing showed up as Dorothy Hall but as Dora Hall, she recorded a lot for Reinbeau Records in the 60s.  To which the term Vanity star comes, there's a website that dedicates some time discussing about Dora Hall and it's worth a read:
Hall was a passable cabaret singer of the 1920s and married the guy that gave us the cozy solo  cup Leo Hulseman who did his damnest to make her singing career take off when she was in her 60s.  The other side of this single All He Would Say Is Uhm Uhm might have been the A side.  Despite the effort of her approving hubby, none of her singles charted but she has fans out there that care for this easy listening sort of vanity music.  Look hard enough and you'll find a dedicated fan with a site preserving the efforts of Dora Hall.

3)  Today-The New Christy Minstrels  (Columbia 4-43000)  #17  1964

The folk music scene was winding down due to the Beatles and Dave Clark Five invading from across the ocean but the New Christy Minstrels managed to show a respectable number 17 with this bland number to which I wonder why I bought this in the first place.  B side is the mysterious Miss Katy Cruel.  Although this record has been played, it plays like new, give or take a few dust pops in the groove.

4)   If I'm A Fool For Loving You-Jimmy Clanton (Phillips 40208)  1964  #1 WFBC Greenville SC

A regional hit in some places but Jimmy's Phillips years didn't have any that popped on the Billboard Top 100.  A teen idol stuck in trying to grow up, He gets hooked with Jerry Kennedy and the Merry Melodie Singers and goes for a country sound, this was written by Stan Kesler (who produced Sam The Sham Wooly Bully), and the guess work is that the usual Nashville Session players at that time backed him up  (Hargis Robbins, Roy Drusky Jr.  (perhaps) and  Buddy Harman).  Arranged by Ray Stevens of all people but he did arrange for Ronnie Dove as well too.  The other side A Million Drums was co written by the team of Jeff Barry and Arnie Rensick and have an Maharishi type of horns with Harman's trademark drumming style.  This song may have been geared toward rock top 40. In reality in terms of teen idol singers, Clanton was somewhat in the middle/bottom of the list.  He didn't have the type of voice that stood out  like Johnny Tillison or Brian Hyland but he wasn't the worst of them all.  He was a step above say Eddie Hodges or Fabian.

5)  Half Heaven-Half Heartbreak-Gene Pitney (Musicor 1026)  #12 1962

Great.  This record has a nice scratch through the first minute of the bland pop ballad.  Gene Pitney has always been a schizophrenic singer songwriter, coming up with some nice pop nuggets (It Hurts To Be In Love) and then some awful balladry (Mecca).  I tend to look at this song in the latter. B side Tower Tall isn't much better.

6)  Rosie Why Do You Wear My Ring?-Kenny Dino (Kenneth Diono)  (Musicor 1015)  1962

From the guy that gave us Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night tries to follow up with the same results and falls short on the charts.  I have to admit those ba baba ba bop chick singers do have a nice catchy hook to them. Credit Lois Green, Leslie Smith and Alan Eicher for that.  B side What Did I Do is teen idol pop

Record Review

Lambert, Ross And Hendricks-The Hottest New Group In Jazz (Columbia 1996)

Or the complete LBH since Columbia issued all three of their albums plus a bunch of outtakes on a 2 CD set.  This sort of scat jazz is not for everybody and Annie Ross can really belt out those high notes, Halloween Spooks is the type of shrieks that bring to mind Yoko Ono or Bjork.   Dave Lambert's 1966 car accident silenced the trio once and for all but Bobby Hendricks and Annie Ross have their fans and in short inspired the likes of Janis Siegal and The Manhattan Transfer.  In the the course of their three albums they do have moments (Everybody's Boppin which includes a insane scat duet between Lambert and Hendricks and adding words to John Coltrane's Mr PC which might be their best known me) but to these ears, the way out singing and scatting gets too close to the Hi Lo's, who have their own fans as well.  So does Slim Whitman for that matter.
Grade B-

The Rolling Stones-Beggar's Banquet (London 1968)

For the first time ever in my life I finally found a copy of a Cd and managed to take a listen to it.  The newer 2002 remaster version really brings the sound out in front thanks to Jon Astley  who has a uneven track record in mastering things (He blotches the hell out of Ram Jam's Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Ram) but here you practically have Brian Jones in your car playing the slide to No Expectations and of course those jungle congas on the overblown Sympathy For The Devil stand out too.  In essence I think the album does get overrated, Jigsaw Puzzle  seems to go on forever, Dear Doctor is ho hum and then Sympathy itself tends to be a channel changer although fifty years later I am tolerating it more often if I don't hear it more than once a month.  On the other side Street Fighting Man is one of their all time best, Prodigal Son is more evil than Sympathy  and Salt Of The Earth jams pretty damn hard to close things out on a high note.  Do I love this album? Not really, but I do like it enough to warrant it the first step of albums that defined the Stones up to Exile On Main Street and yes it was the end of the Brian Jones era and the start of the Mick Taylor era to which they challenged the Who, Beatles and The Kinks in making five stars albums.  If you think about it, the era of 1968 to 1973 continues to be the best of all time for albums.  And you had to be there to enjoy it all.  Five decades later, albums like Beggar's Banquet hold up better than anything modern rock has to offer, and perhaps the Stones being influenced by the blues and soul did figure into they coming into their own and making their own style and sound.  Like Sgt Pepper, Banquet remains a album I can recommend for the influence of rock music but for me to listen to it on my own time, that's another subject matter, Let It Bleed is the better of the first two Stones album after Satanic Majesties Request, but make no mistake, Beggar's Banquet is good classic album, but not enough for me to call it an all time classic.  Therefore.
Grade A-


yrdbird_2000 said...

Hey Crabbby! I'm pretty slow about ideas and thoughts popping into my head most of the time. After reading some of your posts; it dawned on me that you might be able to find a 45 that I've wanted for about fifty years. I have no idea who performed it, but it was an instrumental, and I think the title was "Jack Sacks The City". I believe the year was 1962 or early 1963. It's sort of a slow, jazzy number and I only heard it played on our local radio station once, but I never forgot it. It still bugs me after these years that I don't have it or ever heard it again. I hate not owning a song that I could never forget I enjoyed reading your blogs. Keep up the good work!

R S Crabb said...

Hi Hoop!

Always a pleasure to hear from you. I think we got a match here from the folks at 45 Cat.

Sax Fifth Avenue is a very slow organ driven jazz/blues ballad done by Johnny Beecher and came out on Warner Brothers 5341 B side is Jack Sax The City which is very up tempo and has ample use of the tympani drum and plenty of Cowbell (Blue Oyster Cult would be jealous). I have never heard this before till you mention it. I'll keep an eye out to see if I can locate a copy.