Friday, September 29, 2017

Andrew Steele Remembers Kirk Walther

My brother in law Kirk Walther passed away on Sept. 24. He died of cancer. For over 35 years he sold records in Iowa City.

In the beginning, he sold one small row of records out of a comic book store called Barfunkles that used to be on Burlington Street. I know this because well before he was family I walked in there and didn’t much like his inventory. It was mainly rock, and I was a jazz collector. From his tiny corner at Barfunkles he moved to his own location, put up a sign that read “The Record Collector” and then over the next 30-something years took the name with him through four or five different places — Prentiss Street, Linn Street, East Washington — until he settled into his last store back on South Linn.

Thirty-five years ago there were more than a few record stores in Iowa City. I couldn’t tell you why Kirk thought he had a shot selling records in a crowded market. Maybe he had no choice, maybe he just had a passion for it, but clearly he knew what he was doing. Eventually all the record stores went the way of the dodo except for one. Kirk’s store survived. I guess it’s obvious he had a passion for it. And that passion spread from him out into the world. That’s how passion works.

Iowa City, the town I grew up in, is a town of passionate teachers and artists, athletes and doctors. It’s world famous for this. I wanted to be a writer. However, coming out of City High School I was a C-minus student who couldn’t spell. One writing teacher at the University of Iowa changed my life in a week. I know the value of someone with passion who shares it with the rest of us. Writing became my life. Music sustained it. Thirty years in entertainment and I’ve never had an office without a stereo and a shelf of records. In those terrible, terrifying hours after midnight on a writing night at "Saturday Night Live" when nothing was working and my mind was tired and empty, I would put on my headphones and play records. Eventually, a song or maybe just a line or even a trombone solo was all I needed to get started on an idea. Music does that. I wrote a lot of sketches in my 13 years at "Saturday Night Live" listening to records.

A good used record store gives new life to old passions. A kid walks in and sees the posters, she flips through records she doesn’t know — something catches her eye or maybe they’re playing something she’s never heard before and she walks out of the store holding it. It could be the left turn she was hoping for. One song. This happens. I know it happens because it’s happened to me over and over again. For 35 years people walked out of Kirk’s record store with this chance at inspiration — a song or an artist gave them the courage to be who they wanted to be. Music, dumb pop music, classical music, punk, even barbershop quartet music moves us to kiss the girl, to hit the dance floor, to come out, to march for a cause, to dye our hair, to be vulnerable and share our passion, maybe even write a stupid sketch for "Saturday Night Live." 

I know for an absolute scientific fact that more lives were changed walking out of the Record Collector than any class taught at the University of Iowa. Of course, this is coming from a comedy writer and not much of scientist, but I’ll let the statement stand. So often we forget that a seemingly banal and simple business hiding in a building can have as much influence on our community, on ourselves, as any one person. The Record Collector was one of those businesses.

Over the years Kirk’s store evolved. I’d drop in every once in a while to see what kind of stuff he was selling. He knew his market but more than that he loved music. His store was vital.  He hired students. Visiting bands stopped by. He stocked their music. He had a cool store. He even got into jazz in a big way! After he married my sister, I always stopped by the store to talk records. Last spring I was in his store and he went to the back to get a record he wanted me to hear. He knew I liked female jazz singers, and this lady was unknown to both of us. He put it on the turntable and we both listened to her and then he said, “Can you believe it? I mean, just listen to her.” The astonishment, the excitement, the love of her voice, of the song, that’s how you keep a business alive for 35 years. 

About a year ago I decided to dump around 2,000 records. A friend hooked me up with a kid in his late 20s who owned a record store in Brooklyn and worked at WFMU radio, one of the hippest radio stations in the country. He drove up to my barn in upstate New York and loaded 25 boxes of records I no longer needed into his truck. We got to talking about great record stores, The Princeton Record Exchange, Rasputin Records in San Francisco, Jazz Record Mart in Chicago to name a few, and then I told him about my brother in law’s record store in Iowa City, The Record Collector. His jaw dropped, “That’s your brother in law? I know that store. That store is legendary.”

I haven’t lived in Iowa City for over 30-something years. I live in New York and Los Angles. But there are people all over the world who felt the influence of Kirk Walther’s passion. It was legendary.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Singles Going Steady-Dubuque Finds From The Goodwill Store

When you have nothing better to do like me, you go up to Dubuque to look for records.  This time, somebody dropped a lot of 45s from the past at the Goodwill Store. Mostly off the wall goofy stuff but I think we managed to find some nuggets among the turds.

1)     Mama Don't Allow-The Rooftop Singers (Vanguard 35020)  #55 1963

The first week of 1963, they had the number 1 record with Walk Right In but six months later this would be their final top 55 single.  Kinda lively uptempo folk.  B side is a folk cover of Duke Ellington's It Don't Mean A Thing If It Don't Got That  Swing.  It came with the actual picture sleeve.  Which is worth about what I paid for it.  Fifty cents.

2)     Daydream-Louis Armstrong (Brunswick 55318)   1967

Louis might have been the greatest artists back in the heyday of jazz of the 1920s and 30s but by the 1960s Armstrong was trying to find a way to blend in with the new rhythm and blues.  I actually got a kick of hearing Satchmo attempting to do The Lovin Spoonful in a soul mood and it works better for me than his version of Mame which placed number 81 in 1966 and of course Hello Holly.  Carl Davis, notable Chicago soul producer helps a lot as well as Gerald Sims, the arranger.  B Side Northern Boulevard Blues is more to Armstrong's style and liking; New Orleans jazz done as an instrumental.  He seems to be more comfortable on this song.

3)    Grover Henson Feels Forgotten-Bill Cosby (UNI 55223)  #70  1970

Never heard this one before.  Usually Cosby is better telling funny stories about school and kids and was once of the best loved actors on TV till accusations came from woman that tarnished Bill's reputation.  This song is pretty serious, about a ignored person that never gets any mail except from the IRS and him owning them money. Alas, serious songs like Grover Henson Feels Forgotten are not fun to listen to.  Not fun at all.  B side the instrumental version.

4)    Sugar And Spice-The Cryin Shames (Destination 624)  #49 1966

Sometimes being at the right place at the right time pays off in terms of finding the Nuggets classic. Originally known as The Travelers, their label pushed them for a change in the name of the band to which Cryin Shames was named out of frustration. This song was done quickly, pressed and sent to WLS in Chicago to which the song got played and made their top 30.  Columbia then signed them up but later singles didn't pan out.  B Side Ben Franklin's  Almanac is just that, a throwaway rave up that's over and done in less than two minutes.

5)    Skip A Rope-Henson Cargill (Monument  1041)  #25 1967

A one hit wonder on the pop charts although Cargill had a few others on the country charts in 67-68 but by the 70s he was a footnote in history.  One of the more catchier songs back then, a lot of other country stars, and for that matter the vegas pop stars took a shot at it but nobody was better than Henson.  Produced by the legendary Don Law.  B Side A Well Traveled Man owes a lot to Marty Robbins and the Nashville Sound.  A minor rewrite of Traveling Man or I've Been Everywhere.

6)     Please Don't Blame Me-Marty Robbins  (Columbia 4-40969)  1957

His previous hit A White Sport Coat made number 2 but this song geared for the pop charts didn't chart at all.  Basically A White Sport Coat rewritten. Which may have confused people of thinking this was A White Sport Coat., B side Teen Age Dream, more of the same. More Ray Conniff and his gang, probably a step up from Mitch Miller but still pap all the same.

7)    Somewhere In The Night-Batdorf And Rodney (Arista AS-0159)  #69 1975

They recorded for Atlantic and Asylum but they only had two 45s that charted and both were on Arista of all labels.  John Batdorf was more of a folk singer rather a pop singer, Mark Rodney was the other guy and harmony singer.  Amazingly this managed to made the charts although everybody is more familiar with Barry Manilow's version which did made number 9 in 1978.  To which by then Batdorf and Rodney were long gone from the Arista roster, Batdorf moving on to Silver and making more pap music, He never cared for Wham Bam which hit number 16 in 1976.  He might have been right of that song being total crap. But then again he was stuck with the sugary production of Tom Sellers, who managed to make music from Eric Andersen unlistenable too. Go figure.

8)     Your Other Love-Connie Francis (MGM  K-13176)  #28 1963

I never quite understood the fascination with Miss Connie and finding some of her 45s of the past are an exercise of trying to listen to the whole song without hitting the reject button.  Somewhat was Lesley Gore was doing, but Lesley did it much better. Way much better. B Side What Happened To Rosemarie is a Gore a ripoff.  Slightly better than the A side.  But she never could top Lipstick On Your Collar

9)     Sugar Town-Nancy Sinatra  (Reprise 0527)  #5 1966
        Summer Wine #49

I wouldn't say Sugar Town is one of Nancy's better songs but compared to Miss Francis it's much better and too bad Connie did have Lee Hazelwood nor Billy Strange helping her own.  She did snag Leslie Gore's arranger Claus Ogers. Lee joins in on Summer Wine.  Anything he did with Nancy during the Reprise years remains classic mystery good.

10   Solitary Man-Neil Diamond  (Bang B-578)  #21 1970  (Bang B-519)  #55 1966

Neil's first release of this song only made number 55 but once his UNI singles took off, his former label decided to reissue some of Neil's early singles and they did chart, in 1970 this made #21 (it made top ten here) and next single Do It popped in at number 36.  Sandwiched between these Bang singles was Cracklin Rosie, which topped at number 1.  B side The Time Is Now is Neil as his most bluesiest.  The B Side to Bang 519.....Do It (the 1:50 version).

Monday, September 25, 2017

Week In Review: Oodles Of Reviews

Getting the sports out of the way, Iowa played Penn State tough till they lost on a last second TD pass 21-19.  Arizona State finally beat Oregon in a defensive battle 37-35 and Chicago took three out of four from Milwaukee this weekend.  They should win the division this week.

(courtesy of Record Collector)

On a sad note, Kirk Walther, the owner of Iowa City's Record Collector passed away on Saturday from a short illness.  Record Collector I knew about in 1985 but Kirk might have started sooner (1983?) I don't think he liked it much when I came into the store with a bag from B J Records of the latest Animals reissues and he made that known.  But outside of that, we got along pretty well and I did managed to find some decent albums and CDs from 30 years of visiting Record Collector.  In the 1980s there were about 10 record stores in downtown Iowa City, Kirk managed to be the last one standing as BJ Records,  Sal's Music Emporium, Discount Records, Camelot, Disc Jockey, Musicland, Real Records and a few others went by the wayside.  A lot of musicians stopped in to buy music, most notable ones Sonic Youth.

One year ago, we had the second highest river crest in Cedar Rapids which if you look back a year ago on my blog you can read the play by play action.  This year we are now in a stage 2 drought level.  It's been very dry, the leaves have turned color and now are falling in between cracks of my cars and the morning glories are thirsty. The hottest tempertures of the year was recorded this weekend with temps a record 93 on Saturday.  However the fall changing cold front will drop temps back down to seasonal.  And looks to be dry.

Plenty of records bought and reviewed this week:

The Doors-The Singles (Elektra/Rhino/DMC 2017)

As classic rock bands begin to fade off into the sunset, the three major labels are pretty much resorting to their last means of trying to come up with product from bands that have been anthologized over the course of our lifetime.  We all know there's no shortage of Doors best ofs, box sets and anthologies, the question remains if anybody outside of audiophiles who wanted Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine, the 1972 2 record set that cherry picks tracks and lesser known stuff. I grew up as a kid, that scoured the 4 for a dollar 45 bins for certain bands and the late 60s at Woolworths was perfect to find stuff from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, Tommy James and of course The Doors.  My early Doors 45s came from the 4 for a dollar bins, People Are Strange, Love Me Two Times, The Unknown Soldier, even Wishful Sinful, to which I played a lot. As for Running Blue, well sometimes we don't make smart choices.  For the first time ever, we finally get the complete singles picture of The Doors, including the ones after Jim Morrison departed this earth. Back on AM radio, we were used to the 2:45 version of Light My Fire, the shorter Riders On The Storm and even Love Her Madly but we missed out on Tightrope Ride and Get Up And Dance. Back when we could not afford albums, singles were the way to go and B sides were deep cuts.  Who knows what would have happened had Roadhouse Blues would have become the A side rather than the number 50 You Make Me Real, a song you don't hear on classic rock radio  but Roadhouse Blues gets ran into the ground.  If you take a look at the singles that The Doors did put out, a lot of them were hit and miss, Running Blue for one, Tell All The People another and perhaps critics are right that the Doors' first two albums are classic, the next three uneven and the last one their third best album.  Other Voices and Full Doors Circle found that they couldn't replace Jim Morrison at all although they did play around with some interesting songs (The Mosquito, to which the single version is much different than the album cut due to some fancy editing). Some B sides didn't make the albums, Who Scared You found it's way on Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine as well as You Need Meat Don't Go No Further, the only time Ray Manzarek sang lead while Jimbo was still alive.  Which leads to the next question, is The Singles worth getting?  If you are into collecting 45s from the past and remember the different mixes of The Unknown Soldier and Touch Me and want to hear the mono version of Break On Through (I'm sorry but I always favor when Elektra edited she gets high to simply she gets, it really adds more to the song that way) and Light My Fire  then it's worth getting it into your collection, although I am never a fan of bad digipack packaging double cds that seems to be the norm. But as Morrison stated, this is the end of the Doors Compilations, the barrel is now scraped clean, most of the post Morrison singles are disposable and Do It, the b side to Runnin Blue really sucks. If they put their mind to it, The Doors did make classic rock and roll for the AM dial (I didn't hear the long version of Light My Fire till years later). The Singles captures everything as it was committed to forty five; you can live without this but if you are a fan of forty fives and AM radio and don't have the Doors albums, well here you go.
Grade A-

Tompall (MGM 1974)

Him being Tompall Glasser of the the Glasser Brothers fame, Tompall was associated with the outlaw movement of the early 70s by being around Waylon Jennings till they had a falling out. I tend to look at Tompall in the same way I look at David Allen Coe, an outlaw that tended to lean too much on ballads and not enough tough country rock.  He gets kudos on this album for Shel Silverstein writing songs and co producing with Kris Kirstofferson.  But he gets the raspberry for way too many ballads, especially on side 2.  Best song remains, Put Another Log On The Fire but you can find that on the RCA Wanted The Outlaws album so you can basically avoid this album.  The kiddie choir get tedious on Musical Chairs.
Grade C

More Hard To Find 45s  Volume 18 and 19 (Eric 2017)

The real K Tel CD label after the demise of the original K Tel, the folks at Eric Record continue to find great forgotten singles....and total crap. It's great that they found Timmy Thomas' Why Can't We Live Together, Malo's Suvaceito and The Neighborhood's Big Yellow Taxi (really a nice cover of Joni Mitchell's song but the rest of that album was terrible), and some people might care for the 3:27 edit of Roundabout by Yes and you might get a chuckle from the Sugar Bears You Are The One but there's a lot of hold your nose songs too, (Rainbow Connection, The Hustle) but had Eric added another song they could call it 22 Explosive Hits

Volume 19 more of the same, I enjoy Hocus Pocus from Focus, Venus from the Shocking Blue and Fox On The Run and Boys Are Back In Town but once again the crap is there (Daisy A Day, Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast, I Never Been To Me, Sometimes When We Touch) to the point that unless you really miss the days of K Tel or Rhino's Have A Nice Day (To which most of these songs are probably on) you can bypass this collection.  A better remastering job than Time Life but in reality I prefer a a cracked and scratchy 45 of Sometimes When We Touch over anything else.
Volume 18  B
Volume 19  C+

The Dream Syndicate-How Did I Find Myself Here (Anti 2017)

The surprise of the year might have been the first new album from this band from 1988 Ghost Stories but How Did I Find Myself returns more to the sound of Days Of Wine And Roses although Karl Precoda might be missed (Paul Cutler retired, Karl Precoda went into screenplay writing) but at least Kendra Smith returned to do the last song titled, of course, Kendra's Dream. Chris Canavas, co produced this with Steve Wynn and the wall of noise is like 1980s alt rock, it's noisy but it's melodic on most of the songs, the title track weaves itself though 7 and half minutes.  In some ways The Dream Syndicate could be forerunners of shoe gazer music like Ride, but unlike Ride, the album doesn't overstay the welcome either.  I still contend that Medicine Show or Ghost Stories are a better listen but then again this band never made a bad album either.  Still alternative rock but it still rocks.
Grade B+

Frank Zappa-Chunga's Revenge (Bizarre/Rykodisc 1971)

He's so hit and miss in his recording career that for every good song he does, he ruins the others with cheap third grade smut poetry.  The original Mothers Of Inventions could deliver Zappa's sarcastic songs like Freak Out and Only In It For The Money but once defections came into play and Ray Collins' leaving, the band fell apart, jazz leanings going for a more heavy rock sounding.   Getting Flo and Eddie to replace Collins didn't pay off either and it somewhat ruined what they had when they were The Turtles.  The title track would be a Zappa ploy to have his guitar soloing on extended songs and he would do that from here on out, it could also be boring.  Sometimes the sarcasm works as on failed single Tell Me You Love Me and Road Ladies.  Most of the time it didn't (Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink).  Chunga's Revenge never takes off for me, but compare it to Just Another Band From LA and it's actually better.  But not by much.
Grade C+

Album from my youth: Various Artists-Different Strokes (Columbia 1971)

A whopping 19 songs that sold for 1.99!  Columbia's answer to K Tel's albums but on this version they picked the up and coming artists for that year of 1971.  I bought it simply of Redbone's Maggie, their goofy single from the summer of 1971 but much to my chagrin, they put a 1:45 sampler edit of that song.  As well as 2 minutes of Big Brother And The Holding Company's Mr Natural to which Janis Joplin's vocal at the end you can't hear.  Or a 2:00 edit of failed single from It's A Beautiful Day Soapstone Mountain.  Even Soft Machine's Out Bloody Rageous comes at a 4 minute edit and Miles Davis' avant garde cut tends to suck the life out of this collection.  My brother couldn't relate to that 'piece'.  And there are pieces of poo here (Ballin Jack's Found  A Child) but what this record did was gather my interest to seek out other bands here (Laura Nyro's Blackpatch, Spirit-Morning Will Come which includes the ending of Life is Just Beginning, Poco's Man Like Me).  My glee club band did do a version of Fields Of Joy from NY Rock And Roll Esamble and I was more used to Johnny Winter's Rock And Roll Hootchie Koo.  By now, I ended up buying Maggie by Redbone on a chopped up 45 edit and decided the album cut was better.  For the unknowns, Bill Puka's Nothing At All is a buried treasure, Fraser and Debolt's All This Paradise should remained buried and lesser known hits from Tom Rush and The Hollies and a wild cover of Don't Fight It (feel it) is done by Elvin Bishop Group featuring the late Linn County singer Steven Miller (no relation to the Space Cowboy).  Before the internet and FM radio, samplers were the best way to discover new music, unless you took chances of DJ 45 copies of bands that didn't make it on radio (the good ole days) and Different Strokes was the product of the times  The special low price should remain under 2 dollars even in thrift stores, and it's worth the time nor effort to seek out and buy unless you are nostalgic for sampler albums and can't find Bill Puka's album, or Fraser and DeBolt.  Columbia would continue to issue sampler albums (the 3 LP The Music People was a much better buy and at least most of the songs were not chopped down to nothing. That album featured the debut of REO Speedwagon, Sweathog and Blue Oyster Cult just to name a few bands) and in 1980 put together two volumes of Exposed which was more into new wave acts and worth seeking out.  Different Strokes in reality was CBS's first true album of introducing new acts.  It's flawed on the bad edits and short songs but for a price of a new 45, it was a good buy to discover the new acts.  You know damn well Sony would never partake such a loss leader like this in this era.
Grade B

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why Nobody Buys New Music Anymore-Bhad Bharbie

‘Cash Me Outside’ Girl Signing Marks The Official Split of the Music Industry

here are now two completely separate music industries.

And most don’t even realize this. It has been a long time coming.

One, you have the traditional music industry. I call it the Superstar Business. And it’s run by the major labels. For a while now, of course, they have been solely focused on how to make the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time. This year. This week. This day. This moment.

Their vision and strategic timelines have been getting shorter and shorter. Gone are the days where a Columbia records sticks it out through two failed (full length) albums because they believe in an artist – like what happened with Bruce Springsteen.

Now the majors won’t even sign you unless you’re already proven — with the numbers to tout.

If you hadn’t lost all respect for major record labels yet, well you have now. Atlantic Records just signed someone who is not a musician.  Is not a rap “artist.”  Is not any more talented than the next 14 year old kid who can kinda rap.  But has a following. A massive one at that.

If you have been living under a rock the past week, you may have missed that Atlantic Records just signed (a 360 deal no doubt) Danielle Bregoli  (a.k.a. Bhad Bhabie) — who got shot to stardom by her colorful appearance on Dr. Phil.  The “Cash Me Outside” meme (and remix) was born.  And in true Kardashian fashion, she has since gained millions of Instagram followers.

Atlantic records doesn’t care about art. Doesn’t care about musicians. Doesn’t care about artists. All Atlantic Records (and their execs) care about is money.

We live in a capitalist society. So this is all fine and dandy I guess. But don’t think for a second that when you (or your artist) sign to a major that you will get some personalized attention because you have some artistic purity or integrity. Or because you think your music is great. Unless you’re going to make them a lot of money this year, don’t even bother walking in the front door

Let’s remember that Bhad Bhabi charted on the Billboard Hot 100, not because she has millions of fans. But because she has millions of people who wanted to see what all the fuss is about.

Myself included. You don’t need to buy records today to do this. All you need to do is head over to YouTube or Spotify and play the song for free. And Billboard tracks every stream. 1,500 streams equals a Streaming Equivalent Album (SEA) purchase – hence the Billboard charting. Let’s note that although she hit #1 on the US Viral Charts on Spotify, no one is buying her song on iTunes – she didn’t even crack the top 200 trending songs as of Monday (2 weeks after the release).
Yes, she has millions of Instagram followers. But I consider fans to be those who would actually spend money on their favorite artists. Attend concerts. Buy merch in a non-ironic way (see “Cash Me Outside” sold out Ts).
Or maybe she does have fans. I suppose she is perfectly emblematic of American culture right now: Lead by a bombastic misogynist as President supported by an aggressively anti-PC base.

What do we expect? We live in a reality TV nation — where people believe the way to “make it” in music is to either win a TV singing contest or go viral and get signed to a major record label.

When in reality this doesn’t prove to be a path to sustained success in the music industry.
And the major record labels know this.  And really don’t give a flying fuck.  They are set up that way.
The major labels are in the business of making money — not developing or showcasing talent. Period.
So get rid of that misconception.

And what is the other music industry existing right now? I call it the New Music Business. And it’s much more encouraging.

It is an industry existing completely outside TMZ culture. One that is not being written about by any of the culture rags. Or even Billboard very often. Because it’s not very sexy.
It is the industry of the independents. The working musicians. The DIYers damning the system and proclaiming they are not in it for quick fame and instant success, but because music is at the core of who they are. And they would rather build a career than chase fame.

There are literally tens of thousands of independent musicians, managing sustainable music careers, making middle class livings (or oftentimes 6-7 figure incomes), who you have never heard of. And Variety or TMZ will never write about.

Every creator on Patreon. Every artist touring clubs and theaters. Every musician running Kickstarters and PledgeMusic and IndieGoGo campaigns. Every indie artist making a living licensing songs on TV shows, commercials and films. Every artist making a music career happen in a creative way in 2017. There’s no one way to make it in the New Music Business. There are a hundred. And you haven’t heard of 95 of those ways. None of them have to do with getting signed to a major record label.
Because this is the new industry we are living in.
The “other” music business. The New Music Business is not supported by the major record labels. It’s not about a hit, but a career. It’s not about capitalizing on hilarious memes, but building relationships with fans.
I don’t care about Bhad Bhabi. And neither will anyone else (especially not Atlantic Records) in 3 years time. I’m not going to trash a 14 year old. That’s not cool no matter what you think of her or her perceived success.

Getting signed by a major record label is NOT a marker of success.

When 99% of all acts that get signed to major record labels fail (i.e. do not recoup the cost of their advance and get dropped), the odds are actually worse for you if you attempt to work within the traditional music industry. You might as well go and buy a lottery ticket.
So, both of these industries are existing. Simultaneously. One run by musicians defining their own career destinies.  And the other by money-hungry opportunists.  Which do you want to be a part of?

This originally appeared at Digital Music News.  And I thought it was worthy enough to be reposted here since we all know that links do have an expiration date, most of them really.

My Take: The major labels have been a joke focusing on the bottom line of making money. Atlantic Records is no longer a trustworthy name, they have not been since their founder died 10 years ago. The signing of the Cash Me Outside girl is another reason why not to trust them.  The old Atlantic would have kept the ole R and B acts and most rock bands going for two or three albums tops.  Bhad Bharbie will be long forgotten by this time next year. Empty headed rap pap pop music that nobody will remember next week.  They're already laughing at her.
Good luck Danielle Bhad Bharbie. It just might get you a job at Popeye's once people move on and Atlantic don't have two cents or two shits to care anymore about you.  Welcome to reality.

And learn to spell.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Week In Review: Quad Cities River Bandits 2017 Champions

And the minor league A ball Midwest Champion is Quad Cities as the River Bandits swept Fort Wayne 12-2 to win the third and final game of the Championship Series played at Davenport. It has been a remarkable season for the Bandits who had the best record in the second half, took out Peoria in the semis, Cedar Rapids in the divisional finals as well.   But the team that won it all this season only had one player that was on the roster on opening day, Chuckie Robinson, who was the MVP of the Championships.  The Bandits had a slight spin at the end with a six game losing streak before the playoffs but managed to correct that and with were helped by the arrival of Colin Moran, Mike Feliz and Evan Gattis but perhaps the unsung hero was Josh Rojas who was the main player that got QC into the championship. Future looks bright for Rojas who along with Abe Toro Henandez and  a few others including manager Russ Steinhorn who go on to the Houston Instructional League.  Colin Moran rejoins the Houston Astros as they clinched a playoff spot. The Bandits finished with a 87-61 overall record, they did struggle in the first half but in the second half found ways to win ball games and I recall seeing them win a game when they down four runs in July only to win in extra innings.  This is their third Midwest League Championship of this decade, they won it in 2011 and 2013, the latter which was the first time I ever went to Woodman's Park to watch them play and it has become my favorite place to watch a game.  In the college football side of things, Iowa had no problem with the North Texas Mean Green 31-14, despite being shaky once again in the first half and losing Akim Wadley and James Butler.  Nate Stanley threw for 2 touchdowns.  Next up, Penn State.

Oh and Arizona State lost to Texas Tech.  No defense whatsoever.

And The Chicago Cubs swept St. Louis over the weekend, with a 4-3 victory on Sunday. That puts them 6 games ahead of the Cardinals.  Tampa Bay plays two and then a a big four game series at both Milwaukee and St Louis and those 8 away games will dictate if the Cubs will finally win the division or if the Brew Crew make a serious challenge to them. St Louis is not out by any means but the Cubs sweep make have render their chances to wild card.  Two weeks left in the season and anything is possible.

Music News:  It wasn't a very good week for Tom Capone, Quicksand guitar player. On Tuesday Night, Capone got arrested for shoplifting at a Phoenix CVS store prior to the concert.  The band played on without him.

(Photo: Julie Gordon)

Saturday Night marked the debut of the new group called The Egads!, featuring yours truly on guitar playing a actual gig (and not a jam) for the first time in 25 years and first time ever playing guitar and singing, with help from our female singer Belinda James and guitarist Mark Randolph.  Missing a couple of musicians (Tim Nemec fell ill and Larry Axelman had to baby sit), they were replaced by a trio of bass players, namely Barth Walter from the Saloonatics/Robin Banks and Jeff Langenberg, plus Mike Clair and since I had to help out on guitar and vocals, Rich Toomsen and Kim Bean provided the beat. For 45 minutes we did 12 songs before the mosquitoes overtook the park.  This gig was for a benefit that was put together by Mike Clair and everybody had a good time.  The auction took about 2 hours to complete to which I spent time making three trips around downtown Vinton just to keep steps ahead of the mosquitoes invasion.   It wasn't easy.

Passings:  Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, famed WWE manager, and announcer passed away on Sunday. He was 73. In the 1990s, he managed the best ones (Andre The Giant, Ric Flair, Paul Orondoff and the immoral Handsome Harley Race.

Laudir De Olveria, percussionist for Chicago in the mid to late 70s passed away from a short illness. He was 77.

Jake LaMotta, famed boxer that Robert DeNiro played his role in the movie Raging Bull.  La Motta was 96.

Bernie Casey, former NFL running back great and movie actor died Tuesday He was 78.

On Wednesday, Johnny Sandlin, former Hour Glass drummer and later producer for most of the Capricorn Records roster (Wet Willie, Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic, Marshall Tucker Band, Col Bruce Hampton) passed away from cancer. He was 72

Record Reviews

Edgar Winter-The Edgar Winter Collection  (Rhino 1990)

Earlier in the year I bought the Real Gone Definitive Collection of Edgar Winter and thought that was a waste of dollars.  Bill Kopp's liner notes were fun to read but the folks at Real Gone went with album versions let's face it, Tobacco Road will drive you nuts if you have endure 17 minutes of this song, the last ten minutes excessive bombast including the longest scream ever committed to record.  The original intent was to find the collection that had the single version of Free Ride, to which the Real Gone CD did not.  Frustrated, I traded it at Half Priced Books and sought after the Rhino version which did.  It also has Hanging Around, to which the Real Gone album did not.  I always believed that had Dazed And Confused put the 45 version of Free Ride on that album it would be a classic album to get, even if it was on Volume 2 of D and C.   Collection  remains the better buy.  I never cared much of the White Trash lineup or for that matter Tobacco Road which is the last track on this collection which works best if you have to hear it.  Most of the their more accessible songs are here, including the highlights from They Only Come Out At Night (Hanging Around which is not on the Real Gone album) but surprisingly they went with the album version of Round And Round, which hardly anybody would know about the 3 minute edit of that song.  If nothing else, this collection showcases the importance of the late Dan Hartman's songs namely Free Ride and River's Rising, a catchy little number that I remember hearing back in the 70s but nobody ever mentioned the group that did this.  The Rhino remains the best overview, even more than the crappy cheapies that Sony Music put out as Greatest Hits or Playlist.  Edgar was the little brother, Johnny's albums were better but if nothing else, Edgar (with a little help from Hartman) had Free Ride.  That's all you need to know.
Grade B+

Margaret Whiting-The Wheel Of Hurt (London 1966)

Another Real Gone reissue was restoring Maggie's London albums back in order.  She was very prominent in the 40s and 50s with hits on Capitol but by the 60's they sent her packing away and she did put out a few country sounding singles and albums on Dot. Buoyed by a surprise hit The Wheel Of Hurt, London Records and for that matter Arnold Goland believed in her.  The album The Wheel Of Hurt is surprisingly good  although Winchester Cathedral is cringe worthy. She really does shine on the darker songs (You Don't Have To Say You Love Me) but she has so much fun at the end of Show Me A Man that Goland yells out sing it one more time Maggie.  Had London worked it right, they could have gotten a nice sized hit out of Nothing Lasts Forever but they ended up putting as a B side to Wheel Of Hurt.  The pop arrangements by Jack Gold has dated the majority of the songs but I tend to agree with Debbi Whiting that her mom's vocals were the best that she sounded.  The Real Gone reissue collects 13 bonus tracks from various London single, but missing is her number 98 followup to Wheel Of Hurt, Only Love Can Break A Heart.  But you do get German versions of Wheel Of Hurt and Nothing Lasts Forever.
Grade B

Ray Griff-The Entertainer (Real Gone Music 2014)

He had some chart action here in the states, but had more in his native Canada but this is the first actual release of Ray's best known stuff.  From what I hear Conway Twitty is the major influence especially on the ballads (If I Let Her In), but if he went uptempo more of a novelty, best known for You Ring My Bell, a 1976 hit for Capitol. I like the early honky tonk of his two MGM examples including lead off Your Lily White Hands and The Sugar From My Candy, and he does get a kick out of being called Raymond (as mentioned on three songs here, guess which ones)  but he remained a journeyman country star at best. If you're into journeymen country stars, you could do worse.
Grade B

Music of my youth: Iggy Pop-New Values (Arista 1979)

The first Iggy Pop album I ever bought due to the early videos of I'm Bored and Five Foot One but this record was special since it hooked Iggy back up with James Williamson who was on the Raw Power album, an album to got boosted to classic status when Iggy remixed the whole thing in the red and it became the first of the LOUDNESS Cds, the rough edges returned over the smooth mix that David Bowie did on the 1973 album.  Fast forward six years later and Williamson reunited with Iggy for the last time till the 2010's.  Iggy had a pretty band at this time, Scott Thurston (later with Tom Petty) helped along with the drummer from Tangerine Dream of all bands but side 1 does have some accessible power pop type of songs like Tell Me A Story and Girls, but also hints at new wave with the title track, with Williamson adding some nice guitar licks.  Things get a bit bumpy on the overlong The Endless Sea that ends side 1 and side 2 Iggy gets a bit more weirder on Five Foot One, Billy Is A Runaway and especially the un PC African Man, which is silly fun if you're not close minded or easily offended.  One of the highlights was playing this album for David Spich and seeing his reaction to Monkey Man.   Some people insist The Idiot or Lust For Life is the best Iggy.  New Values is the go to album if need be.
Grade B+

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Grant Hart

Grant Hart is a talented musician.  I guess you can say he was one of the main influences that would shape up my band The Townedgers with his sort of DIY music.    He was also the drummer for Husker Du, the other band that shaped the garage rock scene in Minneapolis.

I hope I can spell Grant Hart's name right in this blog, it seems like I can't find the right letter and hit D instead of T, which doesn't help my Torrette's Syndrome.   For the most part back in the 1980s I found myself saddled in bar bands more interested of playing hair metal crap.  I wasn't into Motley Crue or Poison or Guns N Roses for that matter.  GNR got heaps of praise of saving hard rock but I just never warmed up to their music.  My forte was playing the garage rock of Husker Du and when I tried to suggest a couple of Du songs to band asking me what I played when auditioning for them, I got shown out the door in record time.

I wouldn't say Husker Du was the ultimate band of the 80s for me, but in the noise filled aura of Jesus And Mary Chain, the cowpunk of Rank and File and the traditional rock of The Blasters, Husker Du fit somewhere into that scheme of my mixtapes.  Husker Du wasn't hardcore punk as originally thought on Land Speed Record or Everything Falls Apart, somewhere in the white noise guitar of Bob Mould, the subtle playing of Greg Norton and Grant Hart playing drums simply of the fact that his late brother had a set and he put them to good use anyway.  Like Tommy Ramone, Hart had a distinctive sound, not by the book but rather by feel.  He may have the only drummer out there that played the cheap Zildjian Impulse cymbals, to which I did get a few myself simply of the fact Grant used them, at least on the videos he did.

From about 1980 to the their demise, and tired of the dictating Mould, insisting HE was the main songwriter and HE had to white the majority of songs and the suicide of their road manager, the band imploded.  Nothing against Bob Mould, I do love his recent album that came out in 2016 and Sugar, the 1990 band Mould put together, but my favorite songs were sang by Grant.  The Girl That Lived On Heaven Hill to which Hart's screams probably influenced the guys in Nirvana.  While fans and critics raved about Zen Arcade, the 1984 double album for SST, my favorite Du album was the final one Warehouse, to which while Mould wrote 11 songs to Hart's 9, it turns out that Hart's songs were the better ones,  She's A Woman and Now He's A Man, She Floated Away and the last song You Can Live At Home which foretold more of the band imploding.  Certainly Zen Arcade needs to be listened to at least once in your lifetime, but for me Warehouse was their over all best album.  With Bob Mould being more of a control freak, him limiting Hart to lesser songs might have diminished New Day Rising or for that matter Flip Your Wig. Candy Apple Gray remains that one Du album that I have never warmed up much to, I don't think it was abrasive enough but I may want to revisit that album one more time before writing it off.  Flip Your Wig did suffer from a few Mould songs that served more as filler, particularly on side 2.

Once Mould and Hart split up, there would never be another reunion of Husker Du, Mould's ego would not let that happened.  They would share the stage one last time in 2005 when Hart did two songs with Mould and that was it. Certainly Bob Mould was more out in front with his solo stuff but Hart did work on a few albums and was trying to finish up a new album before he passed on Wednesday from cancer at age 56.   Nowadays, Husker Du isn't as remembered fondly as say, The Replacements or the other main star, the late Prince but those who was fans remain faithful to the end, up to the release of a big 3 CD set, the Savage Young Du's (Due Nov) to which Greg Norton speaks highly of, Their music was always full of energy, even though the white noise Plans I Make, another of Bob Mould's classic creations.

While three members finally buried the anger of the past down to put out Savage Young Du CD, rumors about a full reunion made social media to which Norton implied that they're only there to sell T Shirts.  Let's face it, even at this point, there was no way Husker Du could ever share the stage again.   With Grant's passing Husker Du is now history, like it had been when they broke up in 1987. Hart's death also reminds us that time is passing and the ones that shaped our music are now no longer a part of life and Grant was about 6 weeks younger than me.

But in the end Grant Hart has proven he could be equal in writing great music for Husker Du and balance out Bob Mould at times.  Grant's place in music history is now sealed.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Weekend Wrap-Don Williams, Troy Gentry

If Record World is beginning to feel like a toss out after thought than you're probably right.  I have been at gigs playing with The Townedgers and my new band The Egads!, doing a show Friday Night and being part of the Whittier Monthly Showcase.  This weekend I take guitar and drumsticks to Vinton for another jam  afternoon.   But things go on.

Such as Hurricane Harvey and then Irma, which might have been the biggest hurricane we had on record or close to it.  Nothing like a 400 mile wide hurricane playing havoc and rearranging the land scape, namely Kenny Chesney's home which got wiped out in the Virgin Islands.   Even on Monday Tropical Storm Irma still covered all of South Carolina and Georgia and over half of Alabama.  Harvey the week before, drowned Texas, with areas getting 50 inches plus of rain overall. Way too much for too many, although climate deniers will concur. The pill popping oxycondin fat fuck Rush Limbaugh was calling Irma a hoax before he pussied out and got out of the way of this hurricane.  No word if Irma leveled his place, which I doubt.  Foof 45's Mar A Logo might have been spared. Unlike Kenny Chesney's and others.  Questions remain about climate change but for the past three years, the ocean waters have never been warmer and this year was record warmth on the oceans.  Doesn't take much for things to form over 88 degree ocean temps.  As the world has seen this summer.

Gene $immons$ is never short about making money off the faithful it seems. His latest money making venture is to put out a box set of music that he has done over the years and they will not be cheap.  The Gene $immon$ Vault will have it's very own steel vault with the Cds and plenty of pictures, track by track notes and other notables starting at around 2500 and studio and home series are 25 and 50K.  The most expensive box set series ever but I'm sure there will be people that pony up the bucks and make Gene some $.  The only thing I care to hear would be the Van Halen demos when Gene used Eddie and Alex during Love Gun and the Simmons produced Van Halen demos for a rumored album before Warner Brothers threw more $$$ at Alex and Eddie and took them away.

It was yet another tragic week as we lost a couple of country stars on Friday.  Troy Gentry, of Montgomery Gentry fame lost his life in a helicopter crash in route to a show, he was 50.

Don Williams may have not been the best known country singer but in the 1970s to 1991, Don scored many many hits on country radio.  He was part of the Poso Seco Singers that had a minor hit with I Can Make It With You Baby, plus Time but they were more MOR folk pop than rock. Williams left for a solo career starting with JMI with Jack Clement and then onward to ABC Dot where he had big hits with I Believe In You, Till The Rivers All Run Dry (which Pete Townsend recorded with Ronnie Lane) and Tulsa Time (later Eric Clapton covered that song), when MCA absorbed the ABC and various labels, Don managed to have hits with Listen To The Radio and It Must Be Love. Once the hits dried up Williams moved to Capitol and hit a minor hit with Another Place Another Tim, but his last productive years was with RCA.  His second album True Love for that label is really a underrated that shows that Williams, laid back style done perfect on the songs that by now country music was moving way.  He did managed to get a number 4 chart placement with the title track and Lord Have Mercy On  A Country Boy which would be his final top ten showing at number 7.  The next album Currents was a bit too mellow for my liking, but RCA/BMG had enough songs to do The Best Of Don Williams, The RCA years.  He tend moved over to Winter Harvest and Giant before semi retiring but coming back in the 2010's with a couple of very good albums for Sugar Hill before he decided to retire last year.  Years of smoking caught up to him and he passed from emphysema at age 78 on Friday.

YES was supposed to play Cedar Rapids here Tuesday Night but the unexpected death of Steve Howe's son Virgil forced YES to cancel the rest of the tour, Todd Rundgren was the opening act. No word on how Virgil passed on though.

Tori Amos has done the unthinkable and has released her anti classic 1988 album for Atlantic called Y Kant Tori Read via digital download.  While that album suffered ridicule and bad reviews, it does warrant a curious listen and in a age of even more shittier music on the radio, sounds a lot better now than back then.  She chose a producer that did Pat Benetar's Seven The Hard Way but for dance alternative rock, you have to hear it once before moving on to something else.

(Photo David Purdy via Getty Images)

In the meantime, the Cy Hawk Series happened this Saturday and the Iowa Hawkeyes had to come from 10 points behind to tie and then been Iowa State in overtime 44-41.  The Cyclones had the game won till a bad decision to throw a pass which was intercepted Parker Hasse which enabled the Hawkeyes to tie the game.  Nevertheless, Akim Wadley had 240 all purpose yards, Nate Stanley rallied the team back, he's a bit wild at quarterback but has shown leadership if he doesn't overdo things. He did throw 5 touchdown passes.  Iowa defense was very sloppy and not focused  very well, the secondary gave up a couple long TD passes but did tighten up when it was needed.   North Texas State is next and I'm sure even with the victory, Iowa hater Colin Cowpie will be skeptical and indifferent.   As for Iowa State, they're improving but losing to Iowa in this fashion will either get them better prepared for the next game or continued to be shell shocked.   We'll see.

(Half moon in Tempe. Half assed Sun Devils team on the field)

And then, there's Arizona State, who's continue to hold down the NCAA's worst defense ranking, dead last with a San Diego State victory over them Saturday Night. 30-20.  When you have SDSU on a 2nd and goal from the 33 yard line only to mess up and the Aztecs get a field goal, you are bound to have a long season.  Texas Tech can't wait to get their hands on them next weekend.

Last season the Cubs had a excellent run to the playoffs but this season has been anything but rosy. At times they looked like shit and once again Milwaukee came into Chicago and swept the Cubs in three games and pulling St Louis within one game.  Funny how the Cubs can score 17 runs twice in one week and turn around and can only score 3 runs for the whole series. A 15-2 blowout also shows that the Cubs bullpen stinks with relievers giving up 11 runs in five innings.  This is not championship baseball and while the Cubs remain confident in the papers about making a run, their actions on the field are not. And losing to divisional opponents doesn't help at all. Cubs have three weeks to do something about this.  Or else once again, get lambasted as flash in the pans from their 2016 Championship year.  Of note.  Washington Nationals have clinched their division and Cleveland has won 18 games in a row, sweeping the clueless Baltimore Orioles. Who will be watching the playoffs on TV once again.

(Kip Scheetz frustrates the Kernels with his pitching Monday Night)

Here in the Midwest league it's Minor League playoffs and the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Quad Cities River Bandits are going to see who advances in the winner take all third game to play Fort Wayne or Dayton for the championship.  Game 1, Quad Cities spotted a 4-0 Kernels lead to score 4 in the 7th helped by a Royce Lewis error and a Chuckie Robinson home run, Josh Rojas singled in the game winning run in the 10th.  On Sunday, Cedar Rapids once again tore out in front to a 7-0 lead on home runs by Travis Blankenhorn and Shane Carrier hitting a 3 run home run.  River Bandits came back with a four run sixth inning as Kernel relievers walked four Bandits and a wild pitch scored the first QC run, with two to follow.  But Colton Davis, the 3rd Kernels pitcher of that inning got Abe Toro Hernandez to pop to end the inning and the bases loaded.  Another Bandits run, ended with Shane Carrier managed to make a head diving catch to end the 7th and Quad Cities never threatened again. On Monday, Quad Cities scored 3 runs in the first inning off Kip Wells who walked three batters and then MVP of the divisional finals Josh Rojas unloaded a three run double and Quad Cities never looked back.  Kip Scheels struck out 9 Kernels.  The Bandits win 6-1 and go on to Fort Wayne for the Championship. Fort Wayne will host the first two games and then Quad Cities will host games 3 through 5 if necessary.

(Pinterest photo)

I haven't done dream date pictures for a while.  Ratings haven't been all that great and I don't get much readership even with inflated Russian views and the usual Blogger garbage comments on outdated postings that offer more than than a eye roll.  40 years ago, Sally Field was eye candy and even at 70 years still remains attractive.  A bit of teasing helps in this photo.  She would still remains a dream date for me. Come to think of it, any woman at this point remains a dream date for me.

Record Reviews:

Neil Young-Hitchhiker (Reprise 2017)

It's good to know that Neil has been opening the vaults for vintage albums that never got released.  This batch of recordings was done in a afternoon to which Young might have been a bit stoned to say the very least.  I'm sure one day Chrome Dreams 1 will pop up soon, but while the consensus of the reviews have been ecstatic (David Crosby calls it the album that makes him want to sing with Neil and the songs that made him fell in love with Neil's Music) I tend to find it wanders around a bit even towards the end but at 33 minutes it's all easier to take with one listening. Campaigner, was boring for me even on Decade but I do find the Nixon reference funny to hear and Pocahontas is actually better here than on Rust Never Sleeps.  Powder Finger still needs a full band behind Neil but for a run through it's actually quite good.  I guess at this point after each so so new recording Young does (The Monsanto Years, good intentions but unfocused as hell, Spirit Trail likewise although I liked it much better) he makes it up by seeing what he has left to release to give to us and I guess it's all for the better.  But even I rarely play the acoustic side of Rust Never Sleeps if at all the overlong digipak just makes storing Neil's albums even more cumbersome and annoying. For historic value, Hitchhiker fits in nicely. Musicwise, it's Neil as we come to know and love him.
Grade B+

Eddie Kirkland-The Complete Trix Recordings (32 Blues 1999)

The gypsy king of the blues, Eddie was famed for recording with John Lee Hooker in the 1949 sessions and then went off to a career that wasn't as well known as Hooker was but Kirkland kept going till a 2011 U turn car accident took his life at age 87.  At that time he was gigging with Foghat (he played on Last Train Home for them).  These two albums reissued through 32 Records were on Trix and Front And Center works a lot better, since Kirkland was recording it in the style that John Lee would do for his solo and alone albums. Unlike Hooker's Boogie Chillen, Kirrkland's version tends to not go anywhere, it goes on a bit too long.  Detroit Rock Island is a pretty good instrumental and Have You Seen That Lonesome Train has a hypnotic riff.  The next album The Devil And Other Blues Demons shows Kirkland going into a more R and B and soul direction which doesn't work very well. He goes for a James Brown funk style on Pity On Me and Mother In Law. The problem with journeyman blues artists is that they can be convincing on their own when they stick to blues, when they opt for soul and funk they tend to come up short (Johnny Copeland comes to mind as well).  Even John Lee Hooker knew his limitations.  That said, Front And Center is listenable, The Devil And Other Blues Demons, not so much.  Even John Lee Hooker knew his limitations.
Grade C+

MXPX-The Ever Passing Moment (A&M 2001)

About 15 years  ago (has it been that long already) the majors were looking for "the next big thing" to which in the late 90s and early 00's this Christian modern punk band had it's moments.  And for that "ever-passing moment"  MXPX damn near beat Green Day at their own game on this album. Unlike Green Day however, MXPX suffered from an overcaffinated drummer playing speed beats on half the songs on their albums and most of the songs sounded the same, Mike Herrera being Billy Joe Jr despite it all.  MXPX was signed to Tooth And Nail, the Christian Punk label and scored a surprise hit with Chick Magnet from Life In General, to where the Green Day comparisons (Hitchin A Ride) come into play. Unlike Green Day, that band made better albums, MXPX needed a best of to show the world what they could or could not do.  Originally Ever Passing Moment got a A minus from me back then. MXPX has never done a more catchy song like My Life Story which could fit in on a Green Day record if Mike Herrera stuck a few F bombs in. Fifteen years later it still a punk classic song.  As time goes by and drummer's Yuri's speedbeats gets a bit tedious and tiresome the album has become dated along with the skate punks who have now moved on to steady jobs and families except for a select few that are over-tattooed and still probably tagging buildings and box cars in the dead of night. They didn't get Billie Joe Armstrong to help on this album but they did snagged Stephen Egberton (Descendents) and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) to help and Grohl does add bite to The Next Big Thing. Then Herrera falls back to the positive vibes of the Tooth And Nail years with It's Undeniable And Responsibility (What's that?), which are probably better than the throwaway tracks from Life In General and Going Slowly By The Way Of The Buffalo. It also helped that Jerry Finn (RIP) produced this album since he's the connection between Green Day and MXPX But for whatever reason (perhaps A&M wanted them to update their sound so on the next album they went for a Good Charlotte sound, and fell on their collective asses) The Ever Passing Moment proved to MXPX shining moment and sad to say their defined statement by the album title alone.  They're still around thank goodness and those who care will come to hear them play Life In General 20 years later. Herrera has shied away from those Christian rumors of long ago and far away, he's become skeptical as the rest of us.  Still, he's never really topped anything coming out of the gate like he did with My Life Story.  I doubt if I'll ever take a listen at the other MXPX albums but if I want to revisit my inner punk of the my early 40s, The Ever Passing Moment still works fine.
Grade B+

The Angels Greatest Hits (Liberation 2011)

In reality, I thought The Angels at times could rival AC/DC in riff flavored rock and roll but what separates them from the other band was Doc Neeson's cryptic and Dylanesque lyrical content and a howling vocal to boot.   There has not been any shortage of Angels best ofs out there, Mushroom threw out a bloated two cd set of hits and rarities, but stopped short of their Albert Productions (Epic in the US) best known stuff.   The Epic US version of Face To Face remains the best of the early years although The Alberts Angels Greatest did add a few more rockers to the equation (Who Rings The Bell and I Ain't The One), I guess in the end AC DC won out due to being more accessible and loved by Corporate Classic Rock Radio.  I found this for 2 dollars new at Stuff Etc. and being the number one Angels fan in the state that I am, picked it up. It's six seconds short of 80 minutes on the CD but this album, like the Mushroom import, goes with live versions of  Marseilles and Take A Long Line, the latter goes for a bloated and Spinal Tapish guitar lick and and endless ending that annoys rather than amuses.  But Neeson throws a defined howl and scream to I Ain't The One and getting the fans to sing the reply back to Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again is the stuff of legends made of.  While the Face To Face stuff is live instead of studio, we do get  a couple tracks off the 1980 Dark Room for good measure (No Secrets and Face The Day, the latter would have fit at on home on classic rock radio if Corporate Radio wasn't so hung on AC DC) and Dogs Are Talking, from 1989's Beyond Salvation, an album that the US label they were signed to was so skitterish they forced the band to re record their Face To Face lesser known hits to a more pounding mix.  I gather the two best songs off Howling are here, a cover of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place and Don't Waste My Time, however nothing is from Two Minute Warning to which this gets taken down a half grade. Not the best place to start for an overview of the Angels, as long as Epic keeps Face To Face in print, that's the one to get for the early years.  This one is a so so review of the later years although it stops at 1989 and Dogs Are Talking.
Grade B

Rory Gallagher-Irish Tour (Eagle Reissue 2011)

Rory has been a subject of note during the past few years. I've been putting the pieces of the puzzle that is his catalog into place by finding his albums.  Another cut out found at my second home Half Priced Books is his 1974 tour in (where else?) Dublin and Cork.  Rory has always embraced the blues quite well and for rock, turned the standard riffs into his originals. Such as the Bo Diddley riff of Cradle Rock, and turns I'm A King Bee into Too Much Alcohol.  While Rory's studio albums have been good to great, hearing him live the songs become something much more right up to Walk On Hot Coals and Who's That Coming to which the end the Irish crowd, really into it, chants Rory into the night. Like Phil Lynott, Rory's star has continued to shown much brighter after his passing and his albums are ripe for discovering if you're sick of classic rock radio and looking for something outside the usual guitar heads.  Irish Tour is a nice way to start out.
Grade A-

Music From My Youth: The Grateful Dead-Live/Dead (Warner Bros./Rhino  1969)

This is where The Dead begin to hone in on their live performances and while Robert Christgau gives it a A plus, I can't do that.  I love Turn On Your Love Light for about 10 minutes and then it becomes an exercise in tolerance as Pigpen keeps it going.  Death Has No Mercy is a spooky 10 minute bluesathon before the 8 minute Feedback excursion which predates and beats Lou Reed at Metal Machine Music, you had to be there to witness this.  And....then there's Dark Star, a 23 and half minute of improvised music interplay between Jerry Garcia and band.  There's days I love this song, other not so much and like Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz or Terry Riley In C, I have to be in the mood to listen to it.  Usually driving in the car going to work works great for me.   Not to be taken away of course, that Turn On Your Love Light really rocks in the first 10 minutes, right at the call and response of Pigpen and Jerry, Phil and Bob answering back.   The highlight is not Dark Star but side 2 with St. Stephen and The Eleven, both songs would become Dead staples and revisited time and time again.  I am not the biggest Dead head fan, and probably not the top 1,000 fan either but I do enjoy listening to them from time to time.  Live/Dead was that album to which turned the Dead into a must see live band, they were the pioneering jam band at that time.  I tend to favor other live albums for definite dead (1971's Grateful Dead S/T, the recent official release of the 1977 Cornell show) but Live Dead is the one that started the whole strange trip that it had been.
Grade A

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


NOTE: this was supposed to be on The Townedgers Music Emporium site but since it's late in the night, I guess we'll leave it here.

By the way Holger Czukay passed away. He was 79 and was bass player for Can

I'm going where the sun keeps shining
Through the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes
Banking off the northeast wind
Sailing on a summer breeze
Skipping over the ocean like a stone

Everybody's Talking-Fred Neil

Parlor City Blues Jam 9/5/17


Tony Brown-Lead Vocals and guitar
Mark Awad-Bass


Drums in the barn yard
I'm gonna leave you baby

The stage fright crept in tonight.  And I couldn't concentrate on providing the beat, trying to figure out the first song and finally Gibby clapping out the beat for me to follow through.  I'm sure Tony Brown put on a brave face through the roughshod performance that I gave him but at least Mark Awad provided some bass riffing so that I maintain the beat.  Plenty of great drummers down there, Scott Sanborn, our FOX 28 night time anchor is also a very damn good drummer on his own and he helped Big Mo and Tommy Bruner on Low Spark Of The High Heal Boys and You Can't Always Get What You Want.  Tim Wiley in the usually Wiley Kat form split after he got done.  And he wonders why I want nothing to do with him on the Wiley Kats.

The next song we did was better but since George Hanna didn't get to play drums I forgo my last song just to let him join up and finish the jam.  Handshakes all around, thanking everybody for letting me play along with them, I then hit the Hy Vee for getting some toilet paper and seen recently inducted Iowa Rock Hall Of Famer Craig Erickson and I bailed on him. I couldn't even talk to him. I'm retreating away from the stage again and just about everybody that isn't on stage. When I got home, Ryan Paul told me that he's back hosting the Checkers' Acoustic Jam with Julie.  And I told him I'm going to the Kernels game first and then perhaps show up later but didn't think I was going to take the guitar with me.

I don't know if I want to do this anymore.  Fighting myself to play guitar or even drums. I was surprised I kept myself interested in practicing on drums this afternoon. I have been ultra critical on myself the past few days. The problem of having a overactive mind.  And then the return of the stage fright and the fear of not being good enough.  I think it blindsided me into oblivion this time.

Is it easy to walk away from it all, to say I had a good run but there's really nothing left in the tank?  I was beginning to slide back into my shell even on Friday Night with The Mad Dogs's gig.  I was there to help Mike out with his broken finger and support Julie's band, but once the music is over what's is there left to do but to pack up and go home.  So I give her a hug and wish her well and see her at the next show.  Or when Dreams Of Arcadia goes playing somewhere.

This afternoon, I took a walk down at the new Grant Wood Trail Park in Marion.  It's not open to the public yet but the benches are out and the walking trail is paved so I went there for two hours.  walking around the small pond, watching the frogs jump into the pond and seeing monarchs fly around the flowers, wasn't much for dragonflies, it was too windy and too cloudy and bit on the cool side.  Fall is coming but I don't mind the wind all that much.  And I let my mind wander. And I remember things of long ago and far away. It's strange how I can't remember any of my grade school friends before Russ, but I can tell you my first girlfriends.  Donna Hess, in Kindergarten and first grade in Waterloo, Tonya took over before we moved to Nevada, then it was Michelle. Leah in Webster City and Cindy Kirth when we moved to Cedar Rapids. Cheryl Barker was the main one in Marion grades 4-6, I was going to be the high school QB superstar, she was going to be the cheer leader and promised to be together forever, bullshit like that.  Once I quit football in 7th grade, she quit me.  She wouldn't have never tolerated me playing drums anyway.

And regrets.  There are many.  Perhaps I should have asked Janice Berns out on a date when she was chasing me back my Junior year in high school.  Would she stayed with me if I played in bands?  It's hard telling,   And then, the girl in my Public Relations class that had a crush on me and seen me at Kitty's and smiled at me.  And the memory burns in my mind forever, as I couldn't gather the courage to go say hi.  And then watching her walk away, tears in her eyes perplexed why I never went up to her.   I was hoping to explain myself the next time I saw her in school.   Hoping to correct that mistake.....

......they say everything happens for a reason. And that someday somebody better will come along and make your life wonderful.  I'm still waiting.   I think there's times that I wish I can give up being the Townedger, the singer songwriter of depressing love gone wrong songs, the crazy drummer who thinks he's the second coming of Keith Moon   The girl in the PR class?  I never saw her again and would love to relive this life and at least go and talk to her when I had the chance and not so much hiding behind a invisible wall.  But then again I don't think anybody could subject their life to be part of mine. I'll give Nicole this, she gave her best to make it work.  But I'm destined to die alone, but leaving behind a collection of stories of all the emotions that I went through in terms of finding love, the good, the bad and the ugly. And it spilled out in the albums that I made, Especially Logic And Lies.

And there was I, sitting in the park all alone and watching the sunset fade. It's been a up and down year, the highs I can tell you about and the lows as well but they mean nothing to you. Going to a movie and holding hands with somebody, well that was one bright moment.  When Martin Daniels asked me of the best moments of this year, I told him that.  I told him "I would love more of that"...while becoming silent and getting misty eyed.

The need to belong.

And I wonder how the girl in the PR class is doing nowadays. I'm sure she don't give me a second thought nor third.

I was surprised I made it to Parlor City tonight in this depressive state.  While there were great musicians around, Dan Johnson, Jon Wilson, Mark Awad, Scott Sanborn, I quietly sat in the booth taking notes and trying to keep the beat tapping on the table with my drumsticks.  I was surprised I didn't get paired with Big Mo or Tommy but rather Tony Brown and Mark Awad.  Tony's songs are a bit more obscured than the ones I usually play but he's real cool cat. And of course Mark can play a very funky bass too.   I don't think it was one of my better efforts though.

And I don't know.  I'm sure Julie and Ryan would love for me to join them at Checker's but I am just not feeling it and it's baseball playoffs time. But I told Ryan if time allows I'll stop in for a bit. And then there's the Longbranch Jam and Whittier this weekend and Jeff Overly has said he was coming up Friday.  And practice with The Egads Sunday.  But I don't know. I feel defeated, in terms of music and of life.  Perhaps a good night's sleep might help and things will be better tomorrow.

But I do feel like walking away from it all once again.

Labor Day Highlights Plus Iowa Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

(Karie Skogman and Craig Erickson: Photo: Scott Sanborn)

(Surf Zombies:  Joel McDowell joins Brook Hoover and band, Scott Sanborn took the photo)

Here it is, the last official weekend of summer.  Big story is the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and the 2017 inductees.  And some of these folks I had the chance to play on stage with.  The best known are the Surf Zombies, the band featuring the late Kyle Oyloe and still living and keeping the flame going on Brook Hoover.  Karie Skogman, the Lita Ford of the Midwest, playing in bands such as Erotica and now fronts Lipstick Slick.  Craig Erickson, who I thought was already in the IA HOF, one of the fastest playing guitar players in town. Gary Kellgren, famed recording extraordinaire who worked on albums by Jimi Hendrix and Fleetwood Mac and opened up three versions of The Record Plant in New York and L.A.  David Sandler, who worked with Brian Wilson and American Spring and composed the one hit wonder Minnesota by Northern Light  The Whitesidewalls, a cover band that has continued to be one of the more in demand oldies covers band still playing.  And Tommy Allsup as well, Tommy was part of the ill fated Crickets band that played at the Surf Ballroom, but did not board the flight with Buddy Holly and others, he lost out on a coin toss to either the Big Bopper or Richie Valens. Stories have been conflicted over the years. Tommy would later become a producer to the stars (Asleep At The Wheel, Willie Nelson to name a couple) And a few more others have been inducted as well, most notably Steve Bridges (Sorosoff) of 99 plus fame but now has a more watered down I.E. corporate rock controlled position at KCJJ.

(Photo:Scott Sanborn)

Passings: Walter Becker, the other half of Steely Dan, died of a long illness, he was 67.
Dave Hlubek: Lead guitarist for Molly Hatchet that gave us Flirting With Disaster. He was 68

This weekend, I guest starred on 12 songs, helping out Mike Serbousek during the Julie And The Mad Dogs return to Rumors Friday Night.  Before that Brass Transit played New Bo, during a problematic set that had constant feedback problems, Rob Wallace paying too much attention to himself but the band did do a good copy of Chicago songs.  Inch 75 played outdoors at Union City.

Saturday, The Palomino Band played Aces And Eights, Doug Spinler, former Open Highway guitarist still plays the best Don Rich type of country guitar and Mike Eastman behind real drums holds down a steady beat.  I didn't make to the Ellis Rocking Reunion but stories were that Cathy Hart and Denny Kettelson both had chest pains and had to go to the emergency room.  And they too had PA problems but Kick It and American Classic put on a great show. I went to Walford to catch up on FLEX and Four Day Creep rocking the outdoors, Duane Connaughton, on vacation from his other band filled in on bass and managed to bring the rock and roll to the show.

Sunday:  Rumors jam and Dr Z Experiment finished the New Bo Art Festival with a jammy three hour set.  To which on Monday, I took a break from the band to go watch Cars 3 among with the kiddie choir.  I am a fan of the Cars movies that did came out and thought that Cars 3 was better than Cars 2.  And then rented the movie Whiplash, one of the most intense movies about drumming ever made.  Even on a good day I couldn't never hit that drum solo to Caravan like the main character did at the finale.  Highly recommended even if I had to pay 8 dollars for a used DVD of that movie. I been looking for it but couldn't remember the name of the movie. I do now.

And Iowa Hawkeyes started the football season with a 24-3 blasting of Wyoming Saturday.  While the offense looked a bit unsure in the first quarter, the Iowa Defense tighten up and kept the Cowboys out of the end zone all game.  Next up.  Iowa State which throttled Northern Iowa 42-24 for the Cy Hawk trophy.

When Richie Blackmore said he was open to return to play with Deep Purple one last time, the rest of the band didn't think much of it. Ian Gillan commented that he didn't think Richie played great, Roger Glover mentioned that Blackmore had issues of Roger remastering of the early albums and Ian Paice said that this lineup of Deep Purple was his most favorite lineup and having Don Airey and Steve Morse made the band a lot more fun than ole Richie during the classic days.  Make no mistake, while Richie gave Deep Purple that great guitar sound, Steve Morse has a better working bandmate and is can hold his own on guitar as his days with Dixie Dregs proven, and unlike Tommy Bolin didn't do drugs to kill himself either. Glover says never say never but in this context the guys say just stick with Rainbow and that medieval minstrel folk band he formed with his wife years ago.  Everybody is more happier that way.

This week's Reviews: (Or every other week or when I feel like it)

Sara Cram/The Derelicts-Little Secrets (Self Released 2008)

If anybody reads into these reviews I tend to look at local acts more so than others.  It's simple really; the major labels don't release anything worth a fuck anymore and I tend to look at No Depression with more suspicion than relying on them for anything worthwhile (Avett Brothers come to mind). Sara Driscoll now plays in a band called the Awful Purdies, but back in the 2000s she was part of the Diplomats Of Solid Sound and also The Derelicts which featured members of the Meekats/Surf Zombies, namely Kyle Oyloe and Brook Hoover.  To which the Surf Zombies got featured in the Iowa Rock Hall Of Fame last weekend.   Last album I reviewed, Sara put out her wounded heart and soul in a darken bit of acoustic folk that spoke from the heart.  This time out she decided to have a backing band with her and it's a better effort.  The secret weapon is Oyloe who adds his trademark of off the wall rock and roll and reverb driven guitar on songs like Hard Driving Man or I Got Friends. At times her vocals are in tune with a pissed off Natalie Merchant which gives Nervous and I Learned From You extra bite.  Time has mellowed her since, she's gotten married and having children of her own and practices yoga out in New Bo the past couple of summers.  But once upon a time, she did put a challenge to Amy Rigby in this sort of angry girl rock.
Grade B+

The Townedgers-Logic And Lies (Record Collect/Maier 2017)

For the fifth album in three years, Rodney Smith has been mighty busy on the local jam circuit and while this album was supposed to be half original and half covers, something happened that changed the outcome.  And usually the big cause was another crash and burn romance. Sometimes it does bring out classic albums if done right, Pawnshops For Olivia was one of the better breakup albums of that time, Love Sucks from 1983 faltered when the second side of songs got over dramatic.  And Drive In Blues (1992) fell somewhat in the middle.  The promises of everlasting love turning out to be nothing more than a mirage and a broken heart to boot.  While Pawnshops For Olivia was the best of the bunch, the album ends with the bleak Beyond The Sun.  Since Smith is very good at making albums about relationship failure, it comes to no surprise that Logic And Lies was based on the hope of finding a new love late in his life, the emotions of rejection and lack of confidence comes into full frustration and an overactive mind that compounds the problems on songs like Drawn In The Dark and It's Just A Notion.   Even though the self doubt, the songs do express hopefulness of convincing the love interest to give love another try on Love's Guessing Game and thinking in another world she is his man on All We Are.   Through the 30 plus years of his recording life, Smith has never stayed in love and the songs wish that things would be different, he could never find the perfect one for him and if he did, he'd find out later that he was better off alone, as it was proclaimed on the lead off track from Fitting Finales two years ago.  Major difference between Logic And Lies and Pawnshops is that the songs are better arranged, and benefited from full band participation, namely Geoff Redding who contributed more songs this time out since The Highway Home and even former Route 66 fill in Mel Strobie helped on two tracks.  Even in frustration, the title track might be the most potent love song Smith has done in years to which the ever hopeful Rod Rocker still believes that he's found the right and he's hanging on for life but she keeps killing him emotionally. The Stevie Ray Vaughn inspired Let It Go is blues rock, But even with hope, The Promise Flower, Smith admits that like the wind you can't hold the love interest. And Mystery Girl is the damning answer that he doesn't want to hear.  Despite the hopeless and failures of the songs that comprises Logic And Lies, the final song I'm On The Right Road Now, he finally found the girl of his dreams.  To which, the girl of his dreams is just that before ending the album with an acoustic revisit of the title track.  Logic And Lies continues the winning streak of listenable albums, although this does better Fitting Finales but not Forthcoming Trains.  Terry Bainbridge, who helped shaped Jubilee, last year's live album, and worked with Smith on 1987's Tales Of The Red Caboose, did a fine job bringing out the vocals up front. Given that, the way things have been going, Rodney Smith may never find the girl of his dreams or anybody who could put up with him longer than one date, but one can't deny that when he gets his heart broken, nobody can write the breakup songs better than he.  After all, he's had many years of practice.
Grade A-

Traffic-Far From Home (Virgin 1994)

Stacked up against the albums that Steve Winwood put out at that time, his reunion with Jim Capaldi turned out the be the much more weakest one he's ever put out and probably is the worst Traffic album of all time.  First of all, it's too long at 62 minutes, second of all Winwood can't write a song under 4 minutes.   At it's worst, Winwood sounds bored, especially on the title track, at its best, the songs work in a more weaker Roll With It sound. (This Train Don't Stop). If the listener hasn't given up by the final track, the best one (Mozambique) Capaldi and Winwood play it as a instrumental. Perhaps they should have gone that route more often then the plodding ballads.
Grade C

The Masked Marauders-The Complete Deity Sessions (Reprise/Deity  1969)

In the typical people would buy anything, this forgotten anti classic touted a secret jam session featuring Mick Jagger, John Lennon, George Harrison and Bob Dylan according to legend, but in reality was a made up hoax story by Greil Marcus that ran in Rolling Stone and people took it seriously enough to warrant an album.  In theory this is more of a comedy album in the style of Spinal Tap (only Spinal Tap was more funnier and more rocking) Can't Get No Nookie has been mistaken for a outtake missing from Jamming With Edward (to which Mick Jagger participated with Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts with guest stars Ry Cooder and Nicky Hopkins, but Jagger had nothing to do with Nookie).  Cow Pie is laid back mellow rock and then the joke wears thin, the John Lennon and Bob Dylan wannabes hacks and not very convincing and then they managed to suck the life out of Season Of The Witch. In typical parody style, Warner Brothers made the Deity label the only outlet for this album, laughed it off and claimed it as a tax loss.  Rhino Handmade then reissued it in 2001 and Wounded Bird picked it up later on.  As a curio, it's meant to be heard one time and then trading it in for something more useful. That said, Can't Get No Nookie is that one parody song that nails Mick Jagger in that time and frame.  And would have been good enough to make it on Jamming With Edward.  The rest, not so much.
Grade B-

Music of my youth: Steely Dan-Aja (ABC 1977)

Upon the passing of Walter Becker, I was drawn to see what kind of album that Steely Dan did would be worthy of inclusion to the tribute and talents of Walter, but you don't need me to tell you that with Becker's passing, the legacy of Steely Dan falls upon Don Fagen to maintain the cool jazz and pop swing of reeling in the years.   As time passes on and as each new release gets release and hardly anybody notices it the week after release, it is the classic albums of the 60s and 70s that people continue to seek out and purchases all over again. Aja is one of those albums, bought on 8 track tape my first time and later four times on CD, I can't help but get drawn in on the jazz rock passages that this band cooks up.  Plenty of session folks to help out. Rick Morrota provides the backbeat to Peg, legendary Pretty Purdie adds his beats to Home At Last and Deacon Blues, Paul Humphreys tackles Black Cow, Jim Keltner gets assigned to Josie but Steve Gadd wins out with his inventive drum work on the title track to which many a Steely Dan tribute band have tried to do but never duplicated.  It's funny how this song warmed me up to watch the drum movie Whiplash, to which a drumming student takes on a dictatorial band leader, gets ridiculed, asks out a girl for a date only to drop her in favor of being the best drummer, then gets ridiculed by the demanding Fletcher (played by J K Downing), gets the drum throne only to lose it when he forgets his sticks at the rent a car place and hurries back to get them only get into a car crash and then punches out the instructor when he messes up. Later in the film he gets dictatorial instructor out only to make up with him at a happy hour gig.  Then the instructor plots revenge on him by drafting him into the new jazz band he has forming, then ridicules him one last time before drummer boy goes off in a huff and then comes back to show the instructor up (or win him over) by doing the ultimate drum solo on Caravan.  What's this to do with Aja is that Gadd's drum part on the middle and fade out and so damn complex but somewhat simple enough if you can follow sixteen triplet figures on bass and tom toms and Gadd is sharp enough to pull this off.  The highlight of the album.  The rest of the songs are just as good, Peg is probably the most pop rock of all songs but owes a bit to R and B, The Purdie shuffle on Home At Last is noteworthy too.  I always got a kick out of the line I cried when I wrote this song, sue me if I played it too long and Robert Christgau mentioned that Sue me if I played it wrong would have been better to sing with.  The only time a critic ever upstaged the band's original lyrical content.  And then Mike McDonald adding backing vocal chops to Peg.  The original grade was a B plus, as a high schooler I was more into harder rock and roll and looked at Aja as a passable diversion but 40 years onward and Aja has become perhaps the best jazz rock album and it did solidify Steely Dan's spot in music.  For the other S.D. albums, I figure Countdown To Ecstasy the one to get, Can't Buy A Thrill as well, Pretzel Logic somewhat overrated outside of the title track and Rikki Don't Lose That Number  Katy Lied underrated and The Royal Scan their weakest and Gaucho a close second.  In the end Aja is absolute perfection.
Grade A+