Friday, April 7, 2017

Week In Review: Justin Case Returns, U Conn Out, The Tearaways

It's been a slow news week here as you can tell from the last time we chatted.  Plenty of work at my regular place of employment and lack of interest of the music news has really made me indifferent.  Plus the fact that Blogspot counter can't be counted on the ratings games, since the top five blogs are the same top five blogs from December.  Looks good on the views though, I cleared 6,000.

Your final two for the Women's Championship, South Carolina and Mississippi State, who bounced U Conn out the door with a last second shot to win 66-64 and shut down the 111 game winning streak of U Conn.  Morgan Williams hit a 15 foot shot to overcome that and poor officiating that gave The Huskies two FTs to tie the game. Strange how in 111 games won, that even the U Conn fans were looking at this loss as something special and even Geno had a wry smile and calmly mentioned that Mississippi State was the better team.  It's a revenge game since U Conn destroyed the same team last year and won by 60 points.  This time out Mississippi State played with a vengeance.  Don't cry for U Conn, they were in rebuilding mode with a new set of players but in due time they'll return to their winning ways again. Geno will see to that.  South Carolina beat Mississippi State for the NCAA title of best overall.

(Photo: Peter Stark- Justin Case at Rumors 4/7/17)
(L to R: Layne Goldsberry, Terry McDowell with the big smile, Karl, Hudson, Peter Cacioppo, Ryan Ruling)

Karl Hudson has been back in Cedar Rapids for almost half a year and he has been very busy hosting acoustic jams in town as well as his own shows and playing in The Buzz but he has reformed Justin Case with Peter C (the keyboard player who's last name is always hard to type out), the ever busy Terry McDowell (drummer for Flex, Threshold, Lab Rats, Toxic Blonde, The Mutts, The Townedgers etc etc) and Avery Riot's Ryan Ruling and will make their presence known at Cedar River Landing.  Justin Case always have the fun slogan Justin Case: Just In Case You Like To Rock And Roll and will be another way to hear Wanted Dead Or Alive in their own arrangement.

(From Kenny Arnoff via Twitter)

Sometimes if you wait long enough you might get some newsworthy people following you on Twitter. One of them is Kenny Arnoff, the legendary drummer extraordinaire for John Mellencamp and choice drummer for The Bo Deans decided to be a part of Crabb followers.  I always enjoyed his drumming and he managed to play on a bunch of classic stuff from the likes of Richard Thompson, Brother Phelps, Mitch Ryder, John Fogerty.  And basically my cymbal lineup comes from what he plays, K crashes and such.

The other major follower is The Tearaways a band heavily influenced by Revolver era Beatles, Badfinger, the Hollies and everything and anything that's good about power pop.  I came across them via the International Pop Overthrow compilations of the early 90s and Rhino when they did their Power Pop Hits of the 90s managed to put Jessica Something on that.  I was surprised that they were interested enough in me to follow back.  The first album that I bought from them was 1999's In Your Ear, which had a ready made hit single  Angelyne  and The Living End which they damn near came close to bridge the Beatles and Tom Petty all together.  While their discography list 7 albums, the ones that I know about are 1993's See The Sound and 1996 De La Vina, both would figure into the other two albums. The Ground's The Limit is See The Sound with three new tracks and a more polished mix, In Your Ear, takes the best cuts from De La Vina.   I suppose I might be one of a select that does have all four albums but I can see why The Tearaways went a change of songs and led The Ground The Limit album with Can't Get Through, which would have made a nice following up single to Jessica Something, to which sometimes gets played on Little Steven's Underground Garage.  Out of all the power pop bands of the 1990s, I believe The Tearaways were one of the best of duplicating the Badfinger/Beatles sound but since they were never on a major label, they remained under the radar.  A new collection of the Earle Mankey Session (volume 7 already?) is due for release in 2017 but it's Japan only.  Japanese people tend to like power pop better than the US counterparts.  Although I have not heard anything from them since 1999's In Your Ear, I will try to locate whatever missing albums for future reference.   As it stands  the grades remain A- for See The Sound, In Your Ear and The Ground's The Limit and a B Plus for De La Vina.   A shout out and thanks to the guys in the band, and John Ferriter for keeping it power pop and of course Kenny for being a first rate drummer.

The American Country Music Awards happened Sunday Night and in reality, it's not much to talk about. Jason Aldean, Entertainer Of The Year (Bwahahaha), FGL with single of the year with H O L Y (Throw the periods in if you want, but it's still a shitty song), Thomas Rhett won two awards, and if one thought Carrie Underwood would get the best of Miranda Lambert, one is wrong since Miranda won two awards, the female vocalist of the year award (she has a lock on that) and her latest album won Album of the year, a shock really, considering how I thought it was her worst album of all time.  Brothers Osborne was best new group and best duo, Little Big Town, best vocal group of the year, Lori McKenna best songwriter and Maren Morris best new female vocalist and Jon Pardi best new male vocalist.  And that's as far as I go on this.  Farce The Music does a better job of slamming Jason, FGL and Thomas Rhett.  Just for the record, Miranda Lambert has won best female vocalist of the year eight straight years, even with a subpar album Miranda still kicks butt.  Congratulations!

Passings: Lonnie Brooks, Chicago bluesman, died of natural causes over the weekend, He was 83.

Paul O'Neil, founder of the Trans Siberian Orchestra and producer (Testament) died Wednesday of a chronic illness, he was 61.

Don Rickles, legendary actor/comedian/observationist, famous for the audience insults of the 50s and 60s died of Kidney Failure at age 90 on Wed.

David Peel, I can't consider him a singer but he's famous for Have A Marijuana LP that came out on Elektra and Real Gone issued it a few years ago and Peel autographed it. He died from complications from a heart attack on Thursday, he was 73.

In terms of reissues 2017 promises to revisit some of the old classics.  Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever were left off the original Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album due to time considerations. Over the years I have looked at that album with admiration from far away and calling it the greatest B plus album in music history.  It's like Dark Side Of The Moon but unlike Dark Side, Sgt Pepper has plenty of its own uses, and that I actually did buy Sgt Pepper when I found it for a dollar back when Pawn America was selling CDs.  While the new reissue adds more of Ringo Starr's drums out in the forefront and adds the two omitted Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane, it will not make me buy it all over again, unless I find it for two dollars at a thrift store. I always thought the original album was missing something, it turns out those two songs would have finally elevate it to an A album.  It means nothing to other ears though.

On the other side of things, Rhino is continuing to super size Bad Company albums with the reissue of  Run With The Pack and Burning Sky.  Unless you're a audiophile completest you really don't need the upgrade.  Run With The Pack I still like but only as a single album, the less said about Burning Sky the better.  I think there's a blog on Bad Company that I put up a few years ago that explains it better,but I'll say this, I like Run With The Pack better than Straight Shooter but true that Pack that the band was beginning to wing it, though the jammy Honey Child has been a favorite of mine as Sweet Little Sister.  Burning Sky on the other hand shows the band in a creative funk, to which Mick Ralphs didn't write many songs and the band overrelied on Paul Rodgers to come up with the songs.  Outside of the title track, the rest is forgettable.  But it is better than Rough Diamonds, but compare it to the Brian Howe era albums Holy Water and Dangerous Age, those two were much better than Burning Sky.   Coming soon, Rhino will probably issue Desolation Angels and the bad Rough Diamonds in double disc form.  And we all know that the world will be waiting outside the local record store to pick up Rough Diamonds when it comes out.  Not.

Which begs the question and yes, yet another Foreigner best of is coming out next month.  It's called Foreigner 40, which might be their 40th album of greatest hits repackaged.  It certainly doesn't feel like the first time for a band that just might be the most repackaged band in rock history. Although The Who might be coming within striking distance for best ofs too.

Speaking of criss crossings of labels, The Bee Gees will be reissuing their albums all over again. After pulling their stuff from Polydor/Universal, they moved over to Reprise for a few years are now back on Universal via Capitol (it really pointless to continue to ping pong from one of the three major labels just to get the new and improved reissue, no wonder the music industry is dying) with yet another greatest hits compilation called (what else) Timeless.  If you haven't gotten any of the best ofs, it's a nice start to hear the hits all over again. But I don't see the need to replace the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that I got for two dollars at Half Priced Books.  In the meantime, Rock Candy is putting out the last of the Frank Marino Columbia albums, Live, What's Next, The Power Of Rock And Roll and Juggernaut, the last three never issued in the US (and still haven't since Rock Candy is an import label).  While Rock Candy reached out to Frank for putting together the liner notes, Frank politely declinded, he's had a acrimonious relationship to CBS/Sony Music for many years and has refused to listen to any of those albums, saying that they sounded inferior in the first place.  He's got a point, they have sounded distorted and poorly mastered, even though George (no relation to Frank) Marino did the job. We all love Frank's guitar playing of the past but if he is not listening to these albums, there's something wrong about that.

Singles Going Steady Medley: Last of the worthwhile 45s at Salvation Army in CR

A couple weeks ago I put out a double album's worth of Singles Going Steady, the Salvation Army 45 cent finds, perhaps the most bizarre of all singles going steady blog of all time and 150 people managed to take a peek at that.  Three weeks later, I decided to see what was left and there was still some finds of note, in fact out of all the 45s I put back, all but four of them were still up there.  Somebody did snagged Blueberry Hill from Hank Crawford, but it was a good thing  that I did pick up the original batch of 45s anyway.  Nice to get that Kenny Owen I Got The Bug rockabilly number.

But again, not much in terms of rock, but pop and country and bluegrass. These are scrapings of the bottom of the barrel.   A six pack of Toonz.

1)   Tell All The World About You-Peggy Lee (Capitol  4812)  1962

What radio station that used to have this record plastered it was a few stickers to which A-1134 became 2620 to Capitol 4812 and yet it still didn't place in the pop charts.  Peggy Lee had some success covering Ray Charles with Hallelujah I Love Him So (#77 in 1959) and she brings a professional and passionate vocals to this Benny Carter Arrangement, the drummer does sound like Earl Palmer.  Very lively indeed.  B side Amazing, is not.

2)   Wind-Slim Whitman (Imperial X8328)   1960

In the course of this year, I've bought a few 45's from Frank Ifield, but amazingly in my lifetime anything Slim Whitman was bought on orders from my dad who loved to sing that trademark Slim Yodel but came to find out that the more beers Daddy drank, the less he sounded like Slim and more like somebody in pain to call 911.  While it was true that Slim had the biggest selling hit single in Britian, that came about in 1955 with Rose Marie that stayed number 1 for 11 weeks! In the US, it made number 2.  Slim did have hits on the country side but he's only had one that placed in the top 100, I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen (#93 1957).  Wind was written by Bob (Cool Water) Nolan, and has that dry desert type of western sound complete with fake wind and that yodel that destroyed many a invading Martian.  Slim did have a long dry spell with the hits till 1965 when Younger Than Yesterday hit number 8.  As you recall, Frank Ifield had a top ten hit with I Remember You (#5 1962), which sounded like a dead ringer for the Slim master yodel, so Slim did his own version of I Remember You, which crawled to number 49 on the country charts, and a lowly 134 on the Billboard Bubbling under.  Still, Slim Whitman continue to have enough success to still be on Imperial till they folded into Liberty, then United Artists, then they eventually dropped him.  Thanks to late night TV and All My Best, Slim Whitman became a cult artist and sold enough of that album for Cleveland International/Epic to sign him for a few albums. And had a number 15 country hit with When and another attempt to do I Remember You made it to number 44 in 1981.  The yodel was silenced forever in 2013 but Slim still lives on, on scratchy records and dad still trying to copy that yodel.

3)   Memories, Memories-Joanie Sommers (Warner Brothers 5339)  1963

I guess she was Warner Brothers attempt to turn her into another Connie Francis but it didn't work.  She had a number 7 hit with Johnny Get Angry but that was all she wrote for Joanie.  This is a uptempo number complete with rabid banjo playing toward the end.  Cheesy production by Stan Applebaum.  B Side Since Randy Moved Away, ho hum bland ballad.

4)  Think Again-Patti Page (Mercury 73249)  #38 country 1971

The Patti Page that I come to know started going more toward country at the end of her first time at Mercury, then she went to Columbia for a few years before returning back to Jerry Kennedy and Mercury.  A nice ballad from Jerry Foster and Bill Rice, even better was the B side A Woman Left Lonely written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham.

5)  A Field Of Yellow Daises-Charlie Rich (Mercury 73498)  #23 Country 1974

To capitalize on the number 1 hit single Behind Closed Doors and Most Beautiful Woman In The World, his former labels would issue their own singles from past sessions and Mercury was no different.  Charlie benefited from getting great songs from his wife Margaret Ann who wrote Yellow Daises.  I tend to like the Jerry Kennedy produced version better than the sappy and sugary production of Billy Sherrill.  Originally this recording came from the era he was signed to Smash Records, but in 1974 Mercury issued two singles with so so success. B side Party Girl is not one of Rich's better songs.  Ray Stevens doesn't help with the dated arrangements either.

6)  Gonna Have Myself A Ball-Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs (Columbia 4-43259)  1965

Their sort of bluegrass didn't quite fit with the hard honky tonk of country radio and the Bakersfield sound and Johnny Cash but dammit, Flatt and Scruggs made some fine singles for Columbia, this was one of the better ones before Earl Scruggs started cramming Bob Dylan songs down Lester's throat and Lester wanted a more simple and countryfied type of bluegrass playing to which they would break up a few years later.  B Side Rock Salt And Nails is on the Versatile Flatt And Scruggs,  a very underrated album.

7)  These Are Not My People-Freddy Weller (Columbia 4-44916) #5 Country 1969

For a few years Weller played guitar in the late 60's edition of Paul Revere And The Raiders but always came across as somebody that could play country and managed to convince Columbia to give him a shot at that.  He had a top ten hit with Games People Play before doing another cover of a Joe South number that hit number 5 but in this day and age you'd never know. Weller had some success with country music and seemed to be better suited for that rather than the pop rock of The Raiders. Some of his better songs were Bar Wars and Stone Crazy, from a one off album with Dot records in 1975 which explains why Collector's Choice couldn't put on a best of CD, Universal either asked too much or the compiler forgot about Stone Crazy.  Overall, Weller's best of is pleasant country rock but a tad bit too friendly

8)  Fallen Angel-Poison (Enigma/Capitol B-44191)  #12  1988

To conclude this medley, I offer to you perhaps the best of the power pop hair metal from Poison. By this time I quit buying 45s in favor of CDs and albums and while I never will be a fan of Poison, some of their songs do have a bit of melody to them.  Of course what made the song go was the video, to which the labels did put a bit of money into them.  MTV would play this video about five times in a day too.  Poison's glory time was 1988 and Fallen Angel didn't chart as well as of course Talk Dirty To Me or Nothing But A Good Time.  I think KRNA does play Talk Dirty To Me and of course the signature Every Rose Has Its Thorn.  And of course the band did copy Motley Crue in destroying a AM classic, in such case they tackled Your Mama Don't Dance and it sounded like a trainwreck in progress.  Like labelmates, The Smithereens, Poison was part of Enigma/Restless Records and was the best selling of both bands.  When Enigma got shut down (or sold to IRS), Capitol then took both the Smithereens and Poison, the latter band better promoted.  I don't know, in hair metal, Motley Crue was the more harder rocking band, Poison seemed to be more pop and radio friendly although Bret Michaels and CC DeVille have always have a toxic relationship.  Once Nirvana and the Seattle music scene took over, hair metal got pushed to the back seat and tensions between CC and the band got bad that CC left and Richie Kotzen took over for one album which flopped.  Fallen Angel has that Night Ranger sound of harmonies and CC's band Samantha 7 had one album produced by Jack Blades.  Poison still makes the rock and roll news (will they or will they not get together again and tour) and Bret Michaels has been a regular on the Casino music tour.  30 years onward Poison never dies.

Album from my youth: Whitesnake (Geffen 1987)

This is the record that changed David Coverdale's band from a Deep Purple sound of R and B into ear shattering hard rock and roll and on the opening riff to the remake of Crying In The Rain, Coverdale means business.  Of course it's well known that Coverdale (with Glenn Hughes) replaced Ian Gillan in Deep Purple and made three albums of varying degree, the classic Burn, the uneven Stormbringer and somewhere in the middle Come Taste The Band but when Purple broke up, Coverdale form Whitesnake and evenutally recruited the late Jon Lord on keyboards and Ian Paice on drums. And in reality I think Ready And Willing remains Coverdale's finest moment, at no where on that album you would hear the hard hair metal but with each passing album they would get a bit more harder with replacement players taking over (Mel Gallery and John Sykes would replace Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden, Cozy Powell in for Paice on Slide It In, that record foretold the future better.  But by 1986, Coverdale decided to go full Zeppelin and Sykes would be the lead guitarist.  Anysley Dunbar (recently inducted in the Rock Hall Of Fame with Journey) might have done his best over all heavy metal drumming, he tears it up on Crying In The Rain, originally a more Deep Purple bluesy ballad on Saints And Sinners, their 1982 album available as a import for many years before Geffen reissued it due to the success of the S/T album. Next song Bad Boys continues the high voltage rock and roll before leading into their hit single Still Of The Night, which rewrites Black Dog, but then after that, the record simply falls apart.  Certainly lame ballad Here I Go Again is nice to hear once in a great while and it sounds better on a Hair Metal Ballads CDs than it does here.  Side 2 never really jells for me all that much, Coverdale doesn't stray far from the horn dog lyrics he's been known for, not a lot of thought goes into Gimme All Your Love nor Straight From The Heart and we treated to two more bland ballads in Is This Love and Don't Turn Away.  Overall, in the history of this album, there's been a love hate thing about this, if Coverdale would have continue the smash and bash of the first three songs of side 1 this would be a metal classic, in reality this record is a minor metal classic, but when MTV wanted big budget videos, they managed to get Twany Kitaen, super model babe turned psycho, since her marriage to Coverdale went into the toilet and she eventually married Chuck Finley to which that didn't last either.  Neither did this lineup, Dunbar bowing out, replaced by Tommy Aldridge and Neil Murray by Rudy Szaro and Sykes moved on to form his own band Blue Murder and Adrian Vandenberg and Steve Vai became the new guitar players and Whitesnake became hair metal goofballs for the crappy Slip Of The Tongue album, an album I played once and got rid off an having bought it again.  In these days, Whitesnake's album remains easy to find in the dollar bins and at your local Goodwill store and at times it is fun to play the first two songs and bring out the devil horns but I have no use for Here I Go Again or the ballads.  In the long run, the era which Coverdale was keeping the DP sound alive works better for me rather than the all out Zeppelin assault of the S/T album and later ones.  And in reality, Coverdale get did lucky with the Kitaen video shots as well as being there at the right time. And found a perfect producer of bombast in the late Mike Stone (although Keith Olsen was co producer, but I'm sure he's more responsible for the ballads on the album).  I may not hate it as much as Robert Christgau did when he bashed it but as I get older I don't really see the need to have this on my shelf.  But in my wild youth, Whitesnake did serve a purpose for me, they were the alternative to Motley Crue (to which Whitesnake opened up in a 1988 concert at the Five Seasons Center).  Just in case if I managed to get lucky with a woman into hair metal I could put Whitesnake, the album to good use, especially on the bland ballads.  But that never happened.  So let's consider the S/T album a period piece of good times and wet dreams of Tawny Kitaen.  But 30 years on, people are going to wonder what the fascination was in the first place.  You really had to be there.
Grade B-

A now, a few words about Sonny Lott From Todd Stein.

"Any musician will tell you that the heart and soul of any band is the rhythm section. Sonny Lott was a man with a huge heart, over flowing with soul. Sonny, whose given name is Fletcher Henderson Lott, came to Iowa City over forty years ago and immediately made an impact on the music scene in eastern Iowa by playing drums with many of the best bands in the area.
"As a member of the legendary Mother Blues Band, Sonny played alongside fellow Iowa Blues Hall of Fame members, Patrick Hazell, Bo Ramsey, and Joe Price for several years. He continued playing over the next four decades with bands and musicians all over eastern Iowa and can be heard on numerous recordings.
"Known mainly as a rock steady drummer, Sonny was also a fantastic vocalist. He was famous for his renditions of Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally”, the T-Bone Walker standard “Stormy Monday”, as well as many other Blues and R&B classics.
"In addition to his musical talent, perhaps his greatest gift was his ability to befriend most everyone he met, from his fellow musicians to those who came to the shows. Sonny is missed by his family, friends, and all those lucky enough to have heard him play."

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