Monday, October 26, 2020

RIP Bob BIggs of Slash Records

Bob Biggs, Founder of Slash Records, Dies at 74 
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Sunday, October 25, 2020

What's New Keanu? by Tom Neely


 Because Tom is a decent human being, he is a dog lover, with previous pooches named Barky and Samhain (RIP to both). According to Tom, Keanu is mostly his girlfriend's dog, but he thinks Tom is ok, as well, and Tom obviously has just a bit of affection for Keanu, as well. His exploits appear on Neely's Instagram account at times and here he has gathered together a collection of his favorite pieces. Most dog lovers, especially those who live with relatively small mutts, will recognize their own fur baby in these strips, and this is much more light-hearted and, dare I say it, sentimental than much of Neely's more graphic, ultra-violent, ulrta-sex-driven, disturbing work. But, that's because Tom is a sweetheart underneath the EC Comics cover that he wears!

Anyone with a four legged friend should have this one!

Pastiche by Tom Neely


 This bit of sequential art came about when Tom needed a break from a big project and gave himself a week to process a complete comic book in time for a Comic Con. Combining his fascination with doppelgangers with some vintage Popeye comic books he found, he created Dopeye, an uncannily familiar sailor who has an existential crisis when he meets himself and what else can he do but down some spinach and fight his way out? It is a bit esoteric in the manner of his works like The Blot, but that certainly doesn't effect its entertainment value!

According to the back cover - and it wouldn't lie, would it? - this became "one of Neely's most popular and acclaimed pieces of sequential art" - quite a feat considering some of the incredible work that he has done! It actually led him to draw some official Popeye comics, as well!

Beautifully done artwork with wild, anarchic scenes (I will never know how he can willingly create so many crowd scenes!), some pop culture in jokes and a story line that may be perceived equally as deep or meaningless - as much art can!

Neely Covers Comics To Give You The Creeps by Tom Neely

 


Tom Neely is an old friend of ours who, of course, is known for his fantastic Henry and Glenn series as well as the amazing Humans Planet of the Apes-meets-Hell's Angels comics. Naturally, he has done quite a bit of other work in a wide variety of settings including this neat little comic where he puts his own spin on old school Creepy and other classic horror comic covers. Neely has a unique, instantly recognizable style - a mix of vintage cartoons mixed with rock'n'roll, horror, plenty of pop culture, pop art and pop violence. I'm a huge fan but for a measly $6, this is a great collection!

RIP Jerry Jeff Walker

Jerry Jeff Walker, Who Wrote 'Mr. Bojangles,' Dies At 78 
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Friday, October 23, 2020

Blues All Day Long - the Jimmy Rogers Story by Wayne Everett Goins

 


Jimmy Rogers was, of course, the guitarist in Muddy Waters' ace backing band at its peak, along with Willie Dixon, Little Walter and Elgin Evans, before he moved on to a successful solo career and he is still known as one of the legends of the Chicago music scene. Goins realized that there was not a true biography on this man despite most of his comrades receiving acclaims regularly and he decided that he should be the man to fix this glaring omission. 

Rogers' childhood is a bit confusing as his parents did not stay together long and he was sent to live with his grandmother and her large family, who he would refer to as siblings instead of aunts and uncles. Considering that his sir name varied from his biological father to his step-father to his grandparents' names, this became even more obtuse. Goins does his best to straighten out this tanglement and give us as clear of a picture as possible.

Because he traveled a lot as a child - his grandmother worked and traveled on the railroad and he would often accompany her - Rogers was mostly a loner, although he had a few close friends. I find it wild that he was childhood buddies with Snooky Pryor, who ended up as another Chicago blues great, of course, and Rogers' nickname originally was Snooky, and Pryor was Bubba! As children, their parents did not approve of their interest in the "devil's music", but they managed to see a number of the early greats by sneaking off to whatever juke joint they were playing in. As he grew older, he would sit in with the giants on both guitar and harmonica and created a name for himself in the region and eventually moved permanently to Chicago.

And man, what a time to be in Chicago! So many legends were on the scene and they were playing together, drinkin' together, gamblin' together and hangin' at each other's houses - almost gives me chills to think of all these cats in the same place'n'time, just diggin' the music. Jimmy joined forces with Muddy Waters and eventually brought Little Walter into the fold and proceeded to produce some of the most enduring blues music ever recorded. Each man eventually went on their own and with the entrance of rock'n'roll on the scene, their stars began to diminish. In fact, Rogers, dropped out of music altogether for most of the 60's to support his family and wouldn't return until the 70's. But, his return began his most productive period of his career - regular gigs in Chicago (man, I wish I had been a few years older and knew about all these cats playing in clubs!), recording, and even touring Europe.

While there are some fun tales of this time, and it's nice to know that Rogers was acknowledged for his contributions to the blues, a good portion of this period is simply Goins listing the various musicians coming'n'going from the band and the gigs that they played and tours that they embarked upon. Certainly there are some hip anecdotes - the band plays with the Exploited at one point! - and Rogers reunites with other Chicago legends for recordings and concerts, it just isn't as captivating as the early days. In fact, most (not all) of the recordings that Rogers is involved in seem to simply be him revisiting his old songs over'n'over with various sidemen, even as he attains higher levels of acclaim than ever before. In fact, just before he died he was busier than ever, with a star-studded album being released just a short time after he was taken by cancer (same as his old boss, Muddy) at 72.

Regardless, I had a good time with this - worth delving into for the vast amount of info on the old days and Goins does his best to set the record straight throughout Jimmy's history.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

RIP The Amazing Randi



James Randi, magician and paranormal debunker, dead at 92 
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Besides being a pop culture icon, rock'n'rollers will remember Randi as the one who created some of Alice Cooper's (that band) greatest illusions. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

RIP Spencer Davis



SPENCER DAVIS FOUNDER OF '60S BAND Dead at 81
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Spencer formed the great garage/white-soul band, the Spencer David Group, featuring a young Steve Winwood. 
Another great one gone...

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Hi Records Story


 

After finishing the Al Green bio that had a fairly extensive history if Hi Records included I wanted to hear more from the artists featured on this Memphis label. There are a few compilations around, but this was reasonably priced and seemed to encapsulate a good number of the musicians.

The Bill Black Combo was a 50's instrumental band and the music is somewhat similar to the likes of Bill Doggett and others from that time period - kinda swingin, bachelor pad-styled tunes. From there we get Ace Cannon's sax groove, "Tuff", Murray Kellum's doo-wop number "Long Tall Texan", the soul stirrin' "20-75" by Willie Mitchell (who would end up producing many of the Hi Records hits), Jumpin' Gene Simmons' classic 50's R'n'B "Haunted House", the Motown-ish "Love Is After Me" (Charlie Rich), Jerry Jaye doin' a rockin' take on Fats Domino's "My Girl Josephine", Willie Mitchell returns for "Soul Serenade", Ann Pebbles does a fabulously funky job on "Part Time Love" and then there's a couple smash hits from Hi's biggest star, the smooth soul serenade singer Al Green - "Tired Of Being Alone" and "Let's Stay Together".

Ann Pebbles comes back for the terrifically lascivious "(I Feel Like) Breaking Up Somebody's Home", George Jackson gives us the soulful breakup/makeup number, "Aretha, Sing One For Me", followed by another Green masterpiece, "I'm Still In Love With You", then Otis Clay's upbeat-but-depressing dance number "Trying To Live My Life Without You", Quiet Elegance lives up to the name in the powerful, painful ballad "You've Got My Mind Messed Up", Pebbles appears again for "I Can't Stand the Rain", Syl Johnson grooves in "Back For a Taste Of Your Love", Phillip Mitchell gets soulful in "Turning Over the Ground", Otis Clay is back for the love-lost ballad "It Was Jealousy", Syl Johnson does a fine job on Green's "Take Me To The River", Jean Plum sings sweetly in "Look At the Boy" and the proceedings conclude with OV Wright's won brand of soul in "Precious, Precious".

If you're a soul music fan then you should know many of these artists already but either way, this is a fine comp and a hip representation of this swingin' label.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

recommended live streams and live gigs

 10-10-20 - the Two Tens live stream virtual release show 8:00 pm Pacific Time

10-10-20 - Franks'n'Deans live stream - 8:00 pm Pacific Time

10-22-20 - Rev Horton Heat and Shanda ad the Howlers LIVE at the Fremont Country Club

10-23-20 - Rev Horton Heat and Shanda ad the Howlers LIVE at the Fremont Country Club

10-31-20 - Rayford Brothers LIVE at the Sand Dollar

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

More RIP's

Johnny Nash, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ Singer, Dies At Age 80
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RIP Eddie Van Halen



Eddie Van Halen, Guitar Hero, Dies At 65
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I had no idea that he was this sick, but then, I haven't followed his career since his first LP, to be truthful. Can't say I'm a big fan, but I did like their debut when it came out and I can't dismiss his influence.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Soul Survivor - a Biography of Al Green by Jimmy McDonough

 


As much of a rock'n'roller as I am, I have always loved Soul Music, as presented by the greats of the 60's and the 70's, including the sweet, lovin' soul of Al Green. Jimmy McDonough (who also wrote the Neil Young Biography, Shakey) warns the reader right from the start that this will not be a sweet story, though, referencing Al's "autobiography", Take Me To the River, that Al admits he had little to do with, and mentioning his apparent multiple personalities and, an especially compelling story, the death of a woman that he was involved with (ruled as suicide) in his own home. As a minister in Memphis for over 40 years now, Green remains a man of mystery and McDonough does what he can to break down that wall and reveal a bit more of the man that the inconsistent "autobiography" showed.

Strangely, McDonough extensively quotes later-era Gizmos guitarist Dale Lawrence who, as far as I know, has nothing to do with Green, his style of music or his locale. Obviously, McDonough must know Lawrence personally, but it certainly made me do a double take as the first quote is on page four! Jimmy does also quote various other musicians without stating their qualifications other than as "musicians", which is fine, just a little odd.

There are a couple of chapters solely dedicated to Hi Records and the Royal studio and house band, which certainly does have plenty to do with the Al Green sound and is a fascinating tale in and of itself. Once Green was ensconced at Hi, there was a bit of trial'n'error before they starting making hits, but once they did, they were on a roll! Superstardom struck and stayed, bringing Al fame'n'fortune. Since he could not bring the Hi Records studio band on tour, he picked up a group - described as raggedy - that was led by guitarist Larry Lee, probably best known for being part of Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, Jimi Hendrix' Woodstock band! 

McDonough gets into Green's personality, as well, and we find out that along with being a tremendous womanizer, he was not respectful to his musicians or staff, which I was a bit surprised by, for some reason - maybe his laid-back vocal delivery. But, women loved him, to the extent that a crazed fan/ lover actually committed suicide (apparently), which caused his career to start faltering right as it was reaching new heights.

Once he found religion he started his own church and decided to only release gospel records, which led to several Grammys, but a lot of uninspired music. While there is some crazy drama - sex, drugs, violence - during this period of his life, it is less interesting to me than his star-studded soul days. But Jimmy does his best to keep you absorbed throughout these years, as well. I do wish that I had been able to get to Green's church the one time I was in Memphis - it sounds like it is still quite the experience!

As McDonough disparages other writers' version of the Al Green story, I suppose that one should take his interpretation with a grain of salt, as well, but he tells it well and seems to have done his best to get to the true heart of the tale. I'd recommend it!




Thursday, September 24, 2020

recommended live streams

 9-26-20 - Guitar Wolf presents Shemane Jett Fest - Free Live Stream Festival with a ton of incredible bands!

9-26-20 noon through 9-27-20 noon - Life is Shit Virtual Festival from the Dive Bar

10-10-20 - the Two Tens live stream virtual release show 8:00 pm Pacific Time
10-10-20 - Franks'n'Deans live stream - 8:00 pm Pacific Time

10-22-20 - Rev Horton Heat and Shanda ad the Howlers LIVE at the Fremont Country Club

10-23-20 - Rev Horton Heat and Shanda ad the Howlers LIVE at the Fremont Country Club

10-31-20 - Rayford Brothers LIVE at the Sand Dollar

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Cowboy Song - The Authorized Biography of Phil Lynott by Graeme Thomson


 As with most teens in the 70's, I discovered Thin Lizzy through their terrific breakthrough album, Jailbreak, with their hits "The Boys Are Back in Town" and "Jailbreak". Hard-edged rock'n'roll with great songwriting and amazing dual lead guitars hooked damn near every kid who played rock'n'roll at the time. I have yet to truly explore their entire catalog (they have far more releases than I ever realized), but Jailbreak and Fighting have never left my playlist since they first appeared. As frontman, singer and songwriter, Phil has always been a stylish'n'hip rock'n'roll character who was cool enough and adaptable enough to play with Johnny Thunders and members of the Sex Pistols, among others, and is still revered to this days, decades after his untimely, all-too-early death. 

I never knew much about his story and right from the beginning this book tells the tale of a true individual, a young black kid in Ireland born out of wedlock to a white woman who went on to have two more children by other men who she gave up for adoption. His mother had numerous issues and Phil was sent to live with his grandparents where he stood out among his white peers, but it seems that he was given more positive attention, as opposed to the racial distancing one would expect, at least for the most part.

He grew into a stylish teen and, as much for his unique looks as anything else, became the lead singer for the Black Eagles, a local beat band who lasted a surprisingly long four years or so before fizzling out. From there he was asked to join Skid Row, again, more for his style than his singing, and he helped them to gain true notoriety with his looks and theatrics as well as the friends he brought along to create light shows and help roadie. He then started Thin Lizzy with Brian Downey (drums) and Eric Bell (guitar), got signed to Decca Records, moved to London and released two albums in short succession to little acclaim. Slogging through tours that barely paid the bills, they then stumbled upon a more winning formula with a revision of the traditional Irish number, "Whiskey in the Jar".

Funnily, despite previous theatrics in other bands, with Thin Lizzy Phil had to learn how to reach the audience while playing bass (his first band doing this) and singing. But, he studied hard at his presentation as well as his songwriting and everything did progress. By their third album, they started making headway in the charts and reached the attention of Ritchie Blackmore, who floated the idea of a supergroup with himself and Ian Paice, Paul Rodgers and Phil! This got as far as a recorded demo and fizzled when Ritchie and Ian returned to Purple, which may have been for the best all around! Thankfully, this was a time when a record company let a group grow (within reason, of course) and after a couple of dud albums, Thin Lizzy and company did begin to see some reward all around.

As everyone knows, the Jailbreak album was their smash hit breakthrough with "The Boys Are Back in Town" becoming a worldwide hit single and starting them on a trajectory for super stardom. Unfortunately, this is when Phil contracted hepatitis and derailed their entire momentum, which, while they remained reasonably successful, they - and he - never truly recovered from. The fact that two further American tours were derailed for other health and personnel issues (guitarists were the bane of Lynott's career, despite giving the band its melodic sound) also kept them from the ultra-stardom that they might have reached otherwise.

I always find it exciting to read about musicians' ride to fame'n'fortune, especially during the thrilling 60's and 70's, but so many, including Phil, threw everything away with extreme excesses of drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, no one, not even the record companies or producers would make them terminate their excesses since most of them were dealing with the same devils. This is where Phil's story becomes painfully pitiful, sad, and sometimes sickening, 

Graeme managed to interview nearly every important character in this fascinating story and found more information through the usual channels of magazines, TV shows and documentaries, and fuses it all together into a captivating and informative tale. I have to say that this is one of my favorite r'n'r biographies of recent times. Dig it!

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Misfits - Static Age

 


This record has a truly convoluted legacy, which is explained fully on Wikipedia, with the album not released in its entirety until 1996 despite being recorded in 1978! Many of the songs had appeared in one form or another over the years though and this sound is likely what most people think of when they think of the Misfits.

Led by Glenn Danzig, of course, here he is joined by Jerry Only (bass) with Franche Coma on guitar and drummer Mr. Jim, for a stripped down, punk rock look at pop culture, media and horror movies, done with catchy hooks and Glenn's powerful vocals. While the sound quality/mix is pretty mediocre - 17 songs were recorded in 30 hours - the songs are well written, melodic punk rockers. "Static Age", "TV Casualty", and "Some Kinda Hate" are basic sing-along punkers but then we get the sublime "One Last Caress", a minimalist masterpiece with an impossibly memorable melody driving lines like "I got something to say, I killed your baby today". Truly one of Glenn's best! "Return of the Fly" is based on the B-movie, of course, "Hybrid Moments" is highly melodic, "We Are 138" is a cryptic anthem while "Teenagers From Mars" is a true B-Movie anthem, "Come Back" is a bit more drone-y and probably the longest song here, and then there's "AngelFuck", another incredibly memorable, incredibly offensive, amazing song!  

Kinda obvious where he got the title "Hollywood Babylon" and it's another stompin' punk singalong, "Attitude" is more minimalistic punk making the Ramones sound proficient by comparison, followed by one of their most infamous, "Bullet", about the JFK assassination, which suddenly shifts lyrical gears with a chorus of "you gotta suck, suck Jackie suck" and more sexual references, which seems like a strange juxtaposition to me, but then I'm not Glenn! He adds some electric piano for a more moody/garage feel in "Theme For a Jackal" but "She" goes back to primitive punk, "Spinal Remains" is practically early thrash, and the closer, "In the Doorway" is pretty basic punk rock. There's a hidden track with another version of "Hollywood Babylon", among others, with some studio chatter and some false starts'n'stops for a behind-the-scenes "look" at the sessions.

As I say, the sound quality is pretty iffy - it wasn't until the band Danzig that Glenn finally got good studio sound courtesy of Rick Ruben - but the songs are true classics, confirming the Misfits rightful place in punk rock hierarchy. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

recommended live streams

 9-18-20 - the Delta Bombers live stream 6:30 pm Pacific time

9-19-20 - Junior Brown live stream - 7:00 pm CDT

9-23-20 - The Hypnotiques live stream 7:00 pm Pacific Time

9-26-20 - Guitar Wolf presents Shemane Jett Fest - Free Live Stream Festival with a ton of incredible bands!
9-26-20 noon through 9-27-20 noon - Life is Shit Virtual Festival from the Dive Bar

10-10-20 - the Two Tens live stream virtual release show 8:00 pm Pacific Time
10-10-20 - Franks'n'Deans live stream - 8:00 pm Pacific Time

10-31-20 - Rayford Brothers LIVE at the Sand Dollar

Monday, September 14, 2020

Patti Smith - Early Work

 


I've been continuing to catch up on the written works on Patti Smith lately, since I hadn't really bought much since Babel in the 70's. Her poetry can be somewhat esoteric and ethereal with wild, disjointed, stream of consciousness, free-association imagery, but she also can turn a mean phrase when she tries. Her prose is still lyrical, but much more coherent, which means it can be a bit easier to read, but the challenge of her poetry is very worthwhile, as well.

This book of poems collects a portion of Patti's 1970's work, including some which would later become lyrics to her better known songs - an early version of "Oath" (the prelude to her version of "Gloria"), "Land" ("Horses" before it became "Horses), "Babelogue", the intro to "Rock'n'Roll Nigger", and plenty of others, as well as some that became BOC lyrics (they recorded her words long before she became a musical artist herself), along with at least one missive that appeared in Creem magazine (her ode to Jim Morrison). Also included are photos that she took, as well as some that she related to the words, either found or produced by friends such as Robert Mapplethorpe.

This is a nice selection and a good overview of Patti in the 70's - fans should certainly get this one! 

James White and the Blacks - Sax Maniac

 


This weekend I had a chance to peruse some of our massive vinyl collection and stumbled upon this haphazardly. Obviously, I listen to all kinds of music all the time, but I have been going through a No-Wave period off-n-on, so I wanted to revisit this one from 1982. Turns out that this is one of the best combinations of funk (excellent bass/drum rhythm section by Colin Wade and Ralph Rolle, respectively) and atonal noize/sax screeches that I am aware of. Pretty gawddamn great from start to finish!

James Brown-styled funk is infused throughout the record, starting with "Irresistible Impulse", an almost straight-forward funk piece, excepting for James' wild vocalizing and some crazed keyboard and sax noodlings towards the end. I don't have the album in front of me and I'm listening via YouTube right now, so I'm not sure if the track order is correct, but White's take on "That Old Black Magic" is damn near unrecognizable, but in a good way - he truly reinvents this in his own funked-up style filled with plenty of wild cacophony. "Disco Jaded" isn't quite as frantic, but is still a discordant ride through alt-rhythms and weird'n'wooly key'n'sax interplay backing White's tortured, wailin' vocals. The bass lines are truly frantic'n'loopy in "Money to Burn", but maintain a happenin' groove with White and the Discolitas trading vocal lines on top of it followed by some beautiful madness with insane horn duels. This leads into the title cut with James proclaiming himself a "Sax Maniac" with the Discolitas confirming this while the horns provide a soulful backing and I certainly hope that White was doing his best James Brown dance moves throughout this one! This feel continues in "Sax Machine" - he wasn't influenced by Brown at all, was he? - although the Discolitas carry the vocals more in this one while James wails away on his horn - and they finish things off with their latest dance craze, "The Twitch", which seems appropriate for the a-rhythmic funk that they blast through this number!

The anchoring groove helps to make the crazed shrieks'n'bleats a bit more palatable, in a way, but the insanity is beautiful in its own way, as well. Amazing record!

The Byrds Original Album Classics - 5 CD set

 


The Byrds literally rang in the folk-rock scene with Roger/Jim (for some reason he would switch his first name) McGuinn's 12-string Rickenbacker guitar with their classic cover of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and their own amazing put-down song, "Feel a Whole Lot Better". Merging the songs of the folk scene with the electricity and harmonies of the Beatles, they created a new, instantly recognizable sound that resonates and inspires to this day. This 5-CD set compiles their first five albums in reproductions of the original covers which, while pretty cool, makes it a bit difficult to read the text when it has been shrunk down this much. No booklet is included, but this is budget priced and you get all of the great music, so that is really just a nit-pick.

They debuted with the album Mr. Tambourine Man and the smash hit single that started a genre opens the album, starting their legacy of covering Dylan and making him even more popular than he already was! Gene Clark's "Feel a Whole Lot Better" is one of the prettiest put-down songs ever and continued the 12-string folk-rock sound, another Dylan cover already, "Spanish Harlem Incident" isn't nearly as successful, but Clark and McGuinn's "You Don't Have To Cry" is a nice pop-folk number, Clark's "Here Without You" is catchy'n'moody in a captivating minor key, Pete Seeger's "The Bells of Rhymney" is given a terrific treatment, Dylan's "All I Really Want To Do" is probably better than the original, "I Knew I'd Want You" is another excellent Clark tune, and his collaboration with McGuinn in "It's No Use" is a cool garage rocker, then there's a slightly odd Jackie DeShannon cut, "Don't Doubt Yourself, Babe", that still works, for their fourth (!) Dylan number we get "Chimes of Freedom" and the album finale was a super strange take on the 1939 song "We'll Meet Again". For the bonus tracks there's another lovely Clark song, "She Has a Way", alternative takes of "Feel a Whole Lot Better", "It's No Use" and "You Won't Have to Cry", the single version of "All I Really Want To Do" and an instrumental take of "You and Me".

Turn! Turn! Turn! is the title of the group's sophomore album as well as their hit single version of Pete Seeger's adaptation of the Bible's Book of Ecclesiastes, done in their signature, jangly folk-rock manner. McGuinn collaborates with Harvey Gerst for the truly lovely "It Won't Be Long" (amazing melody!), Clark's "Set You Free This Time" is a sweet, slow-tempo'd, Dylan-esque number, and they cover another Dylan tune, this time one that was unreleased, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune", McGuinn adapted the traditional "He Was a Friend of Mine" as a tribute to JFK, "The World Turns Around Her" is another terrific Clark tune, while Hillman suggested Porter Wagner's "Satisfied Mind", hearkening to their later country period, then they get a bit in a folk/psych mood for Clark's "If You're Gone", back to Dylan for a terrific take on "The Times They Are a-Changin'", McGuinn and Crosby get together for "Wait and See" and the vinyl finished with an odd adaptation of "Oh! Susannah!", of all things. There's a plethora of extras on this CD, starting with a couple more Clark songs, "The Day Walk" and "She Don't Care About Time", alt takes on "The Times They Are a-Changin'" and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" as well as "She Don't Care About Time", "The World Turns All Around Her" and an instrumental of Crosby's "A Stranger in a Strange Land".

Their third album, Fifth Dimension, saw the departure of guitarist/songwriter Gene Clark and therefore the prominence of McGuinn and David Crosby as songwriters, along with a great deal of experimentation. The opening "5D (Fifth Dimension)" is a Dylan-esque folk number, sounding like it could easily fit in either of their previous albums, as does the traditional "Wild Mountain Thyme" but these are followed by the fun, country-styled, pop excursion into the existence of extra terrestrials, "Mr. Spaceman", then the McGuinn/Crosby harmony-drenched collaboration "I See You" which brings in some neat, psychedelic 12 string noodling reminiscent of "Eight Miles High", which had already been recorded by this time. Crosby's first recorded original "What's Happening?!?!" brings in more psych 12 string to his existential questioning, then a cover of Nazim Hikmet's "I Come and Stand at Every Door" is a melancholy ballad, and the terrific "Eight Miles High", an incredibly catchy and wonderful mix of Coltrane, Ravi Shankar, psychedelia and folk-pop - truly original, creative and it still causes goosebumps every time I hear it! Not as inspiring is their Leaves-like take on "Hey Joe" or the instrumental band composition, "Captain Soul" (essentially, simply a jam), the traditional "John Riley" fares a bit better and "2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song)" is simply a novelty. The bonus tracks on this record include the fabulously lovely "Why", the flip to the single of "Eight Miles High" and a similarly incredible raga-rock number, along with a beautiful folk-pop arrangement of another traditional, "I Know My Rider", Crosby's freak-out "Psychodrama City", the original versions of "Eight Miles High" and "Why" (I prefer the "official versions", but that could just be due to familiarity), an instrumental of "John Riley" and a radio interview. Nice extras!

For their fourth excursion, Younger Than Yesterday, the band, with the help of producer Gary Usher, further expanded their sounds with more psych and jazz influences, as well as the addition of extra instruments. Bassist Chris Hillman emerged as a vocalist and songwriter here, as well, including co-writing, with McGuinn, their hit from this album, the opening classic, "So You Wanna Be a Rock'n'Roll Star", which included a brass section, adding a different texture to the proceedings. Hillman's "Have You Seen Her Face" is a super-strong, somewhat Beatles-esuqe folk-pop tune, "C.T.A. - 102" is nice, but not overly strong, "Renaissance Fair" is a gorgeous Crosby/McGuinn number with an impossibly great melody line in "I think that maybe I'm dreaming", Hillman returns for "Time Between", a sweet country-pop number hearkening to the band's future country stylings, Crosby's "Everybody's Been Burned" has a captivating melody and could easily fit in on the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album. Another strong Hillman composition, "Thoughts and Words", opened side two of the vinyl, with Crosby's Jefferson Airplane-like (he even sounds a bit like Grace in a couple of places!), highly (hah!) psychedelic "Mind Gardens" coming next, they return to their roots for their cover of Dylan's "My Back Pages" and another Hillman tune, "The Girl With No Name" fits in well with that and the vinyl ended with "Why", from the "Eight Miles High" single. There's a bunch of bonus tracks here: Crosby's "It Happens Every Day", the upbeat "Don't Make Waves" (wonder why this didn't make the album? It's a goodie!), an alt version of "My Back Pages" with keyboards and a weirdly (but not badly) effected lead guitar, an alt of "Mind Gardens", another Crosby tune, "Lady Friend" and the single version of "Old John Robertson" that segues into an uncredited instro of "Mind Gardens".

More experimentation took place for The Notorious Byrd Brothers, with even more different instruments - including pedal steel and one of the first uses of a Moog on record - while the band went through much upheaval - Crosby left, Michael Clarke left, returned, and left again, and Gene Clark returned for a few weeks before quitting again! Horns open "Artificial Energy", giving a slightly soulful pop sound - already pretty different for this group! Carole King/Gerry Goffin's  "Goin' Back" is given a nice Byrds-y treatment, "Natural Harmony" is slightly jazzy, "Draft Morning" starts as a wistful ballad that evolves into a war-themed theater piece, their pedal-steel/psych take on the King/Goffin "Wasn't Born to Follow" was a highlight of the Easy Rider soundtrack, while "Get to You" is a light-weight, string-filled ballad. "Change is Now" kinda throws the kitchen sink into the production, turning a ballad into a psychedelic backwards-lead guitar jam and then a country number and still somehow working, more byrdsian countryisms in "Old John Robertson", which breaks briefly for a strange string section, Crosby/Hillman's "Tribal Gathering" again sounds a bit like later CSN with a cool guitar lead, "Dolphin's Smile" is somewhat experimental, but still Byrdsian, while "Space Odyssey" is definitely spacey! Another big batch of extras here  including the wacky instrumental "Moog Raga", which lives up to its title, a more down-to-earth instro of "Bound to Fall", one of my fave Crosby songs, the ever "controversial" "Triad", alternative takes of "Goin' Back" and "Draft Morning" and the instrumental "Universal Mind Decoder" which segues into an uncredited radio ad and in-studio argument!

These bonus priced collections are well worth it in my eyes, especially with all of the extras included. A fantastic collection of some of the best folk rock ever done!


Thursday, September 10, 2020

RIP Diana Riggs



Dame Diana Rigg: Avengers, Bond and Game of Thrones actress dies at 82 
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Out of Africa - Isak Dinesen

 


Once again, I'm not sure what brought me to this particular book - I assume that there was a recommendation in something else that I was reading, somewhere. But this particular tome is well known enough that a movie was made from it in the mid-80's, although I was not aware of it until now.

Set in the 1920's, Karen Blixen, the author's true name, owned a coffee plantation in Kenya, Africa after divorcing from her husband. As can be imagined, a woman running a large plantation - thousands of acres - was a rarity and I can only assume that in Africa it was even more scarce, although she does mention another female friend who ran another farm while her husband was in the service.

Often a bit politically incorrect, Blixen's reminiscences are not laid out in the form of a novel, rather they are simply somewhat random vignettes giving the reader bits'n'pieces of life with the natives. I think I would have been drawn into the story a bit more if there had been some sort of linear plot, but Blixen tells the tale with fine lyrical imagery. There are innumerable characters involved - a large number of "squatters" who lived and worked on the farm as well as quite a few friends and acquaintances who come'n'go and often stay in the large house that is the center of the plantation. Many adventures of all sorts ensue and it is a quite fascinating view of life in the wild at the beginning of the century, very different than it would be now, for certain.

The descriptions of the natives are generally very positive and those that worked for her were very respectful of her and continued to keep in touch for decades after she was forced to sell the farm and leave the country. In the epilogue she recounts other friends of hers visiting her old servants and writing their own tales of the countrymen and being impressed by the continued loyalty.

Although intriguing, I'm afraid that the book did not really captivate me. Still, it does capture a time and a place that few white people truly experienced.



Wednesday, September 09, 2020

RIP Simeon Coxe of Silver Apples

Simeon Coxe III 1938 - 2020
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Thursday, September 03, 2020

recommended gigs and live streams

 9-4-20 - The Zombies live stream - 9:00 pm

9-15-20 - the Reeves Brothers live stream 7:45 EDT

9-18-20 - the Delta Bombers live stream 6:30 pm Pacific time

9-19-20 - Junior Brown live stream - 7:00 pm CDT

9-26-20 - Guitar Wolf presents Shemane Jett Fest - Free Live Stream Festival with a ton of incredible bands!
9-26-20 noon through 9-27-20 noon - Life is Shit Virtual Festival from the Dive Bar

10-10-20 - the Two Tens live stream virtual release show 8:00 pm Pacific Time

10-31-20 - Rayford Brothers LIVE at the Sand Dollar

Saturday, August 29, 2020

West Side Story


This tale, and updated version of Romeo and Juliet, of course, displays the unnecessary bigotry and hated of the "other" in NYC in the early 60's. The stupidity of fighting for "turf" is highlighted as a Latina (played  in a very un-politically correct manner by the very white Natalie Wood) falls in love with a "pollack" as their different factions fight for the streets of NYC.

Again, the cinematography and sets (obviously on a sound stage, but very effective none-the-less) is superb, with special kudos to the lighting and set dressers. As I said, I have always loved the choreography of these types of films and this is especially well done - Jerome Robbins did an incredible, unforgettable job here - and Leonard Bernstein shines with his music for Stephen Sondhelm's lyrics, creating fantastic songs that stand the test of time and have been covered by musicians as varied as Tom Waits and Alice Cooper (which may be a reason why this resonates so strongly with me).

Of course, the story of two outcasts falling in love heartened my heart, as well, as I have always been an outcast in the crazy world we live in - although, of course, I didn't want to end up as these characters did! Naturally, in today's world of ultra-violence, this story of rival gangs is pretty quaint, but it's a good story, told well, with style (man, the PR's all dress like MInk DeVille!) and flash.

I'd be surprised if anyone has not seen this in this day'n'age, but if not, make the time while it's available on Netflix!

Fiddler on the Roof

I have always been a sucker for 60's musicals, having grown up in that time, living with the soundtracks and often singing the songs in one fashion or another - home, school, in the playgrounds. I always loved the choreography that was displayed in these movies (as well as in the various variety shows of the time) and appreciated the way the films would combine the music and visuals.

Fiddler is set in the early 1900's Russia and focuses on the changes that a family goes through as the daughters grow up and become independent while the Tsar eventually evicts the Jews from their village.

I am sure that I was entranced by the fact that the main characters were rebelling against the "tradition" that the older generation was extolling, as was happening everywhere in the 60's - the movie is obviously a simile for the then-modern times. The father eventually comes around and understands that things like love matter more than tradition and that tradition does not supercede the ultimate political authority, which is what squashed the rebellion of the 60's.

The cinematography is especially nice, with effective bits such as the father, who has regular conversations with God, suddenly finding himself far away from the people whose situation he is discussing with God. But, the sights in general are effective and rich in colors and show fine direction with lots of fantastic shots'n'angles (a wow shot - stark white geese against a grey graveyard scene).

It is a sad story, but also filled with hope and love that they pray will overcome the situations that they find themselves in - as many can relate to in this modern day'n'age, as they could in the 60's.

A timeless tale, as people try to find themselves and try to find love in a world that cares nothing for them, for what else can we all do?

Thursday, August 27, 2020

recommended gigs and live streams

8-27-20 - Atomic Video Jukebox Live Stream

8-29-20 - the B-52's free live stream at 8:00 pm
8-29-20 - The Tell Tale Hearts video viewing party at 1:00 pm Pacific Time at the TTH's FB page

9-2-20 - Monk and the Po Boys LIVE at the Sand Dollar

9-4-20 - The Zombies live stream - 9:00 pm

9-18-20 - the Delta Bombers live stream 6:30 pm Pacific time

9-26-20 noon through 9-27-20 noon - Life is Shit Virtual Festival from the Dive Bar

10-31-20 - Rayford Brothers LIVE at the Sand Dollar

Monday, August 24, 2020

Echo in the Canyon (movie)

Laurel Canyon was, of course, LA's center for its folk rock scene, with the likes of the Buffalo Springfield, Mamas and Papas, Byrds, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, and many, many more living in the somewhat secluded neighborhood, which was still just over the hill from Hollywood. This documentary concentrates on this folk-rock scene with some fantastic period footage, interviews with some of the survivors and a concert and recordings done by more modern artists such of Jacob Dylan, Beck and Fiona Apple. For me, the concentration on the newer artists is a bit overdone, especially as they try to put the period into some sort of historical perspective, without having lived it. Their performances are quite good, but don't match the originals, which just goes to show how talented the 60's musicians and singers were/are.

But, this is well worth seeing for the original music and the fine footage that was uncovered, as well as the modern interviews with those who were there - Roger McGuin, David Crosby, Michelle Phillips, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, etc. - along with the likes of Ringo, Jackson Browne and Tom Petty, in his last film interview. Amazing music that is still highly influential and that will make you want to pull out your old albums once again!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

RIP Walter Lure


Sad to hear of Walter's demise - gawd knows what the Heartbreakers would have sounded like without him, although he emulated Johnny's style, I think he kept the group more grounded and helped to hold it all together.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

recommended live streams

8-26-20 - The Hypnotiques live stream at 8:00 pm
8-26-20 - Goldtop Bob LIVE at the Sand Dollar

8-27-20 - Atomic Video Jukebox Live Stream

8-29-20 - the B-52's free live stream at 8:00 pm

9-2-20 - Monk and the Po Boys LIVE at the Sand Dollar

9-26-20 noon through 9-27-20 noon - Life is Shit Virtual Festival from the Dive Bar

10-31-20 - Rayford Brothers LIVE at the Sand Dollar

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

RIP Ron Heathman of the Supersuckers

Former Supersuckers guitarist Ron ‘Rontrose’ Heathman has died 
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