Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Other 100: 61-65

61. Fairport Convention-Unhalfbricking

I have sung the praises of both Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny many times on these pages. RT, for his otherworldly guitar playing and Miss Denny for having one of the purest voices in music. But it is on "Unhalfbricking" where the entire crew of Fairport Convention rise up for one of the greatest records of all time. The band's version of Dylan's "Percy's Song" is definitive. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a song more beautiful than "Who Knows Where The Time Goes."

62. Al Green- I'm Still In Love With You

Between 1971-1975, the Reverend Al Green was a hit machine, releasing six near-perfect soul records helmed by the master, Willie Mitchell as producer and backed by the amazing Hi Rhythm Section. I can't say for certain if any of these records appear on the usual 100 lists, but in my mind, they do not. As wonderful as these records are, it wasn't difficult to pick a favorite. 1972's "I'm Still In Love With You" is the one. "Let's Stay Together" might be Al Green's signature tune, but if I can't have them all, I want the one with "Love & Happiness" and "For The Good Times," and "Simply Beautiful," which is a stunner," and "Look What You Done For Me" and of course, the title track. Damn! Might have to listen to this right now!

63. World Party- Goodbye Jumbo

Karl Wallinger is a genius, and that may be the problem. Releasing only 5 records in 30 years might also be the problem. As leader of World Party, Wallinger has created a perfect hybrid of his favorite artists- John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Prince, and on 1990's "Goodbye Jumbo," he nailed the recipe. This is a perfect record, with nary a stinker in the lot. Sure, occasionally he's a bit too much like his heroes, making it difficult to separate the brilliance from parody. But if you had to have one, "Goodbye Jumbo" covers all the bases.

64. CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis

About 5 years before my first trip to New Orleans, a CD had been floating around my shop.  It was priced, along with hundreds of others that I knew nothing about, and it sat in the used bins for months, until an employee pulled it out and put it on.  I was transformed. I truly had never heard anything like this before. It felt like it could be a Rolling Stones record of "Exile" outtakes, but with a distinctive, southern feel. It was CC Adcock. I played that CD non-stop, until I finally made it to New Orleans where I got to see and hear CC in person for the first time. In 2004, CC released his sophomore record and it was even better. "CC Adcock & The Lafayettee Marquis" kicks off with a filthy groove and never lets up. This is Cajun rock, southern soul, swampy R&B, country ballads and dirty-ass rock and roll. It is one of my essential New Orleans records and one still gets heavy rotation 13 years later.

65. Bad Brains- I Against I

The Bad Brains debut might be the greatest hardcore record ever released, though it is much more than that. But it is their 1986 release, "I Against I" that perfects the formula of punk, funk, metal and reggae. Jimmy Page-like riffs played with ferocity. Dub grooves that are so deep, you might lose your shoes. And balls-out energy and passion that will make your speakers sweat. Seeing the Brains live at CBGBs took years off of my life. I still haven't recovered. But if the term "hardcore" scares you, I suggest "I Against I," if you're curious.












Tuesday, March 21, 2017

For those waiting impatiently for the next five records of my "Other 100" list, 61-65 will be here tomorrow. Until then, please enjoy a track from my new record "A New Set Of Downs," featuring the songs of singer and guitarist, John Dunbar, backed by Sal Maida on bass and yours truly on drums and harmonies. CDs and vinyl coming soon.

(Please forgive the self-promotion. I'm allowed...occasionally.)

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Other 100: 46-60 and Songs Of The Week, 2017: 3/11-3/17


Surprise, Surprise- Rolling Stones
Any Time At All- The Beatles
The Chase Is Better Than The Catch- Motorhead
Baby Lemonade- Syd Barrett
I Can't Reach You- The Who
St. Elmo's Fire- Brian Eno
Indoor Fireworks- Elvis Costello
Terrapin- Syd Barrett
Crazy Mama- Rolling Stones
Next Time Round- Elvis Costello
Girls In Their Summer Clothes- Bruce Springsteen
Water From An Ancient Well- Stanton Moore
Books Are Burning- XTC
Blue, Red & Grey- The Who
Here Come The Warm Jets- Brian Eno



Groove Making- George Perkins
A Little Bit Of Green- Elvis Presley
I Like My Toys- The Idle Race
Pickles- Allen Toussaint
Misdemeanor- Foster Sylvers
8:05- Moby Grape
See You Tonite- Gene Simmons


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chuck Berry, 1926-2017

He was 90, and yet his passing still comes as a shock. I just assumed he would always be there, just like his words and music.

Some time back, there was a discussion here about great songwriters and the usual names came up. But, so did Chuck Berry, a not so usual suggestion when discussing Bob Dylan or Cole Porter or John and Paul. As much as we love rock and roll and Chuck Berry, we take that "Johnny B. Goode" riff for granted. But underneath it all, were real stories.

Without Chuck Berry, well...I don't want to think about it.

Long distance information, give me Memphis Tennessee
Help me find the party trying to get in touch with me
She could not leave her number, but I know who placed the call
'Cause my uncle took the message and he wrote it on the wall

Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
She's the only one who'd phone me here from Memphis Tennessee
Her home is on the south side, high up on a ridge
Just a half a mile from the Mississippi Bridge

Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis Tennessee

Last time I saw Marie she's waving me good-bye
With hurry home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
Marie is only six years old, information please
Try to put me through to her in Memphis Tennessee

I got lumps in my throat
When I saw her comin' down the aisle
I got the wiggles in my knees
When she looked at me and sweetly smiled
There she is again
Standin' over by the record machine
Looking like a model
On the cover of a magazine
She's too cute to be a minute over seventeen
Meanwhile I was thinkin'
If she's in the mood no need to break it
I got the chance and I oughta take it
If she can dance we can make it
C'mon queenie let's shake it

Tell me who's the queen
Standin' over by the record machine
Looking like a model
On the cover of a magazine
She's too cute to be a minute over seventeen
Meanwhile, I was still thinkin'
If it's a slow song, we'll omit it
If it's a rocker, then we'll get it
And if it's good, she'll admit it
C'mon queenie, let's get with it

And how about this filthy little groove!



Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Other 100: Midway Recap

This has been a blast for me, and from the looks of things, the enthusiastic comments and personal suggestions, both here and on Facebook, you all seem to be having some fun, as well.

But there seems to be a bit of confusion, now and again.

This list, MY list of "The Other 100," are my choices of records that A) I find just as important as the "usual" Top 100 found in your year-end magazine lists. This list does not represent albums that would be on readers first 100, though many might, and it does not represent records I would keep off the "usual" 100. This is strictly and ONLY, records I do not believe I have ever seen on your usual Top 100.

That said, "The Who Sell Out" is one of my three favorite records of all time. It is on THIS list because it will never be on Rolling Stones Top 100. Led Zeppelin's "Presence" is NOT my favorite LZ record, but my faves just might be on RS Top 100.

Get it?

Someone asked me on Facebook, "How come no Dylan on your list?" Because there are 10 Dylan records on every list! The mission statement is about what I would choose instead of the usual. Of course, there are Dylan records on my first 100.

Carry on list lovers!

The Other 100: 51-60 (Double Trouble)

51/52- Elvis Costello- King Of America and Blood & Chocolate

Released within a little over six months of each other, Elvis Costello's 1986 one-two punch, remains to my ears, his finest hours. To go along with these two gems, were five nights on Broadway in October of that year. I attended all five with my friend and roommate, Rich, and each night seemed better than the night before. These two records contain some of Costello's smartest material, with K.O.A., perfectly mixing E.C's love of country music without abandoning the pop and new wave sound his fans needed to hear, and B&C, raging hard with some of the angriest material of his career.  That week in October still feels fresh in my memory, with little details of every night, as vivid as yesterday's weather, and I think that has everything to do with the music found on these two records. Inspired, for sure.

53/54- Rolling Stones- Now and Black And Blue

The debate over early versus late Stones records will continue as long as there is dirt. While it seems we all can agree on "Beggars Banquet," "Let It Bleed," "Sticky Fingers," and for the most part, "Exile," there is a great disparity over much of the rest of the catalogue. As for an early favorite, the "Rolling Stones Now" is what I play the most. It's the most consistent, even though it was pieced together from U.K. album tracks and singles. with both the originals and the covers finally convincing me that these boys had something. The covers of Solomon Burke, Alvin Robinson, Otis, and Willie Dixon become all Stones. "Now" also contains two of my all time fave Jagger/Richards tunes, "Heart Of Stone" and "Surprise, Surprise." No cringeworthy moments, as far as I'm concerned. As for "Black And Blue," I believe the story was, it wasn't really supposed to be a record. These were jam sessions used to audition Ronnie Wood for Mick Taylor's job. Harvey Mandel, another contender for Taylor's job, also appears on two tracks. Whatever the intention, this record is a killer. The funky opener "Hot Stuff" really cooks. Both the ballads, "Fool To Cry" and "Memory Motel," and the rockers, "Hand Of Fate" and "Crazy Mama" are absolutely classic Mick and Keith. Not sure why this record gets tossed off.

55/56- Brian Eno- Here Come The Warm Jets and Another Green World

The two dozen songs (or whatever some of these mini-mindblowers might be) that comprise Eno's 1973 and 1975 releases, are nearly impossible to describe. They don't fall into any category or genre. Some of the melodies rival some of the most beautiful. Some of the rhythms will drive you to both dance or put your fist through a wall. Some of the lyrics are basic, while others will make you gasp or howl with laughter, or simply scratch your head and say, "Huh?" This is what Brian Eno does best. With help from Robert Fripp (two of his greatest guitar solos appear on each of these LPs- "Baby's On Fire" on "Warm Jets," and "St. Elmo's Fire," on "Green World,") Phil Collins and members of Roxy Music, Brian Eno has created two of the most unique records of the 70's and both continue to astound me, after almost 40 years of on and off, heavy rotation.

57/58- Syd Barrett- The Madcap Laughs and Barrett

My fascination with Syd Barrett begins with Pink Floyd's "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn," one of my ten favorite records of all time. Underneath, or maybe within...or possibly on top of...SOMEWHERE amidst the drugs and psychedelic sounds, you will find these one of a kind, and very British, folk and pop tunes. "The Madcap Laughs" and "Barrett," two solo records produced by David Gilmour and Roger Waters & David Gilmour and Richard Wright, respectively, bring those songs to the forefront. These records have layers, and need attention. It's not that they wouldn't work as pop records, they just might, on say, Planet Zogg. But with a real focused listen, you will find beauty, hooks and melodies. These two records are something truly special. Not quite as frenetic as "Piper," but no less genius.

59/60- The Who- The Who Sell Out and The Who By Numbers

It is no secret that "The Who Sell Out" is not only my favorite Who record, but one of my Top Three favorite records of all time, so you can imagine my disappointment while reading Townshend's memoir, finding little to no mention of the record. As a matter of fact, "The Who Sell Out" mostly gets mentioned as a curio, and rarely with reverance, other than by the real diehards. For me, it's a masterpiece. It keeps you on your toes. It contains some of Pete's poppiest work--"Our Love Was," "I Can't Reach You," and "Mary Ann With The Shaky Hands---as well as one of his most beautiful lyrics---"Sunrise." AND, it has "I Can See For Miles," one of the greatest singles of the 60's. The adverts and jingles only add to the excitement. Do I like "The Who By Numbers" more than "Who's Next?" Some days, yes. Yes I do. It's confessional. It's radio-friendly. It's Keith Moon going crazy. It's heartbreaking. And while it may not have hall of fame tracks like "Behind Blue Eyes," "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again," it does have "Blue, Red & Gray," which depending on my mood, might be better than all. (Don't quote me. I just love it.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Other 100: 46-50

 46. Stanton Moore- III

Like I said about The Meters in an earlier post, New Orleans music takes on a different life when you are experiencing it live in the Crescent City. Not all of it translates to record with the same heart and soul. But when it does, you are rewarded in big ways. My go-to artist when I am in New Orleans, also happens to be one of my favorite living drummers, Mr. Stanton Moore. For years, he's been the anchor in Galactic. He's provided the beats and grooves for the avant-funk collective known as Garage A Trois. He's released solo records and he's been a session man, showing off his chops and ability with people as diverse as Rachid Taha and metal-thrashers, Corrosion Of Conformity. But he nailed it on his third solo release. "III" is everything and more. It's an aural feast of New Orleans sounds. And it's a drummer's dream, or nightmare, depending on your frame of mind. The originals, led by Robert Walter on the B-3, with the stellar Will Bernard on guitar, fall into a soul pocket from the get-go. It's Jimmy Smith meets The Meters meets Led Zeppelin, the latter getting name-checked because of the riffing and enthusiasm. I saw most of this record performed live at an intimate midnight show in Preservation Hall, not long after Katrina. That may give me an edge, in terms of "feeling it." But as I said, this one translates.

47. The Beatles- A Hard Day's Night

How does a Beatles record end up on an alternate Top 100? By being a record that is constantly overshadowed by the same 5 Beatles records that appear on everyone's list. "Rubber Soul," "Revolver," "Sgt. Pepper," "The White Album" and "Abbey Road" get the nods, all the time. But how about this baby, their third record in under 2 years, their first with all original material, and quite frankly, one of their rockingest. I don't need to say much more, except I love it more than most of The Beatles catalogue, including both "Pepper" and "The White Album."

48. Motorhead- Ace Of Spades

Lemmy, Fast Eddie and Philthy Phil, a trio unlike any other. You either get Motorhead or you don't. There's no "getting to know them" period. You won't suddenly appreciate the lyrics to "Love Me Like A Reptile" while sitting by the lake. You won't suddenly recognize the melodic bass line in "Fast & Loose." And hopefully, you will not relate to "Jailbait." But no band plays rock and roll, YES...this is rock and hard, loud and fast, as Motorhead. "Ace Of Spades" continues to come through when I had enough of that sensitive crap. It's a monster and I love it.

49. XTC- Nonsuch

Our good friend, AWITW, posed the question, "Which bands got better with age?" He suggested XTC and I agree. There seems to be three phases of XTC- pre-"English Settlement," post-"English Settlement," and post-"Skylarking." I'm a fan of it all, but "Nonsuch" is my favorite. It's a double-record that many claim would have made a better single record, but when I try to edit, I simply cannot. Lyrically, both Andy and Colin are in a zone, from the gorgeous "My Bird Performs," to the upbeat and still heartbreaking "Dear Madam Barnum," to the absolutely stunning, "Wrapped In Grey," XTC were on a roll.  The pressure was on after the success of "Skylarking" and they delivered twice, first with the brilliant "Oranges & Lemons," and then, what I think is more brilliant, "Nonsuch." This record closes with "Books Are Burning," a personal fave and one of the greatest guitar duels ever put the wax, courtesy of Dave Gregory and Andy Partridge.

50. Bruce Springsteen- Magic

I'll keep this brief, since I've gushed on about and defended "Magic" way too many times on these pages. It's simple. "The Boss" did not stop making good records in 1978. And if we want to talk about albums versus "records" in Grammy terms, "Magic" is chock full of great "records." I love this album. In the old days, this would have had as many hit singles as "Born In The USA."