Friday, September 22, 2017

"Group Hug 2.0: Cry Baby Cry": THE WEEKEND MIX

First, thank you all for your suggestions. I have had a miserable two days of homework.

Before we get to this Weekend Mix, I wanted to get this out of the way as quickly as possible. Burning Wood quietly celebrated its 9th anniversary this month. I used to ask for contributions to help defray the cost of the membership to the site that stores all the music. I stopped doing that a few years back, as I never felt comfortable asking in the first place. But the site I have been using is safe and secure, with no ads or pop-ups. No one gets "webmugged," to quote a brilliant friend of mine. Well, this year's membership fees are due and I simply don't have it. So, come mid-October, all files will be unobtainable. There is a Paypal donation button about halfway down, on the left. If you feel like helping out, I will make it worth your while for another year. There, as always, is NO obligation.

Thank you.

And now...

Here are 18 songs that, according to some of you, have left you either in tears or some state of motionless other. I needed to edit a few selections out for time and space, as well as work with what I had on hand, which explains a few omissions. And I admit, I tossed in a few more of my own personal heartbreakers. But don't fret, at least some of what we have here should melt the icy veins of even the hardest of the hard.



God Only Knows- The Beach Boys
The Drugs Don't Work- The Verve
Watching The World Go By- Kasim Sulton
The Color Of A Cloudy Day- Shelby Lynne & Alison Moorer
Lake Charles- Lucinda Williams
You Are Not Alone- Mavis Staples
You're A Big Girl Now- Bob Dylan
Texas Girl At The Funeral Of Her Father- Randy Newman
Child's Song- Tom Rush
Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding- Jesse Winchester
Hearts Of Stone- Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
This Woman's Work- Kate Bush
Old Friends/Bookends-Simon & Garfunkel
Lost It-Boz Scaggs
Valentine's Day- Bruce Springsteen
Company- Rickie Lee Jones
For Good- Kristin Chenoweth & Idina Menzel
Just One Victory- Todd Rundgren


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cry Baby Cry

Music, quite often, moves me to tears. It doesn't have to be a big sweeping ballad. Sometimes, just knowing Ed Sheeran is successful will do it. But seriously folks, I am not ashamed to shed a few tears over a song.

The last chorus before the guitar solo in Todd Rundgren's "Just One Victory" does it to me every time. It's joyous. It's hopeful. Triumphant. Good things we don't feel as often as we should.

Side One of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bookends" really does a number on me. "Voices Of Old People" into "Old Friends" into the "Bookends Theme" is just so damn beautiful and heartbreaking, especially the resolving strings. It's an entire life from birth to death in nine minutes.

I once played Bruce Springsteen's "Valentine's Day" for a friend and explained how the song really tore me up. He thankfully sat quietly and listened to it all, only to say, "Enough of this shit" on the fade.

Pick a gospel tune with a big choir. Any gospel tune with a big choir. How about, "How Excellent" by The River Of Life Choir? 100 voices harmonizing is a sure fire way to make my knees buckle.

The song that has been doing it to me good lately is the one featured at the very top. I know far too many people that have been having a real hard time of it this past year, with not much light ahead. (At least not yet.) Kasim Sulton, long time bassist for Todd Rundgren and all around utility man--like the Randy Velarde of rock and roll--released his third solo record, "3" in 2014. It's a terrific pop record, not unlike his band Utopia, but it's "Watching The World Go By" that gets all my attention. Talk about a hard time, here Kas sings about it, with great emotion, and the hooks and crannies needed to make a great ballad. I lose it on every spin.

I knew going into this that many of you were not going to be moved in the ways that I am. I have many friends who simply won't allow themselves to succumb to the "ballad." In all fairness, I have been accused of showing more emotion over a song or a movie scene than at real life bad news. That's just the way it is. We all have our moments and if you feel like sharing one of yours, a song or two that reduces you to a puddle, now is the time.

Be kind.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Living Colour's Massive Return To Form

From 1984-1989, it feels as if all I did was see the band Living Colour play live.  From The Kitchen on Broome St. in downtown NYC, when the band was an instrumental trio, to the addition of vocalist Corey Glover and their semi-regular shows at Tramps, to countless sweaty, jam packed nights, sitting on top of amps that were already stacked halfway back towards the bathroom steps in CBGBs with my man Tim Vega, where we witnessed the band become legendary. What a run of mind-blowing live music.

Then the record came out on Columbia and they didn't fuck it up! It was all I wanted and more. It was slick, but not too slick. The material I had become so familiar with over the years was mostly intact. "Vivid" became a huge hit and I played the crap out of it.

I saw lead vocalist Corey Glover recently. He was singing with my buddy Maurice Brown, who was holding court at the Jazz Standard, for a residency of anything goes-type jams. This particular night was all about James Brown. We hadn't seen each other since a Red Hot Chili Peppers/Pearl Jam/Smashing Pumpkins show and after party in 1991, back when I did those things. I was thrilled that he recognized me. We caught up 25 years in 10 minutes and a flood of memories took over.

I am listening to Living Colour's new record, "Shade." It's been out for a week or two, and I admit, I didn't jump at the chance to get this baby on my victrola. I can't say I loved their 1989 follow-up to "Vivid," though "Time's Up" did have a handful of terrific songs. By their third release, "Stain," it felt as if they were no longer sure of who or what they had wanted to be. By the time of their first comeback, 2003's "Colleidsoscope," the sweat stains had finally come out of my CBGB's t-shirts and I didn't bother.

"Shade" is a monster. 30 years later, and I am feeling that thing again. Welcome back, guys!

The formula is the same, only more focused. Heavy riffing, over solid grooves and words that beg to be listened to. Corey Glover voice sounds better now than it did 30 years ago. Vernon Reid can still shred like a motherfucker, but has reeled it in just enough so you can wrap your head around the heart of his soloing. And the rhythm section of Doug Wimbish and Will Calhoun remains a machine that should not be operated without supervision. Two covers, an inspired take on Biggie Smalls "Who Shot Ya" and a brilliant reinvention of the Marvin Gaye classic "Inner City Blues" have made me very happy. "Shade" has taken most of my time this weekend. Living Colour's return is a welcome one.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Songs Of The Week, 2017: 9/2- 9/15

Little Ramona (Gone Hillbilly Nuts)- BR-549
Early 1970- Ringo Starr
High & Dry- Radiohead
Don't Stop- Geraint Watkins
Come See Me- Sandy Edmonds
This Is Our Life- Rob Laufer
All 4 The Betta- C.C. Adcock
Eiderdown Clown- The Scots Of St. James
Throw Your Arms Around Me- Neil Finn & Eddie Vedder
Down River- Spooky Tooth
The Inner Light- Junior Parker
Heart Of Steel- Galactic w/ Irma Thomas
Basement Kiss- Elvis Costello
Women's Intuition- Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson


Friday, September 15, 2017

Stuff: 9/15/17

There is a new Sparks record out called "Hippopotamus" that I think is quite brilliant, and yet I am struggling to write about it, other than to say, it might be one of the best records of their career and of the year.

The Rails, who put out my favorite record of 2014 and 2015,  "Fair Warning," have just released "Other People," which is failing, at least after four solid spins, to do what "Fair Warning" did for me. Again, I've tried to expand on this for a week now and cannot, other than to say, it's just okay.

I read a glowing review in Mojo about a new live record from Steve Winwood called "Greatest Hits Live." It's just the type of package I can live without- a compilation of live tracks, with no information at all. No dates. No venues. Nothing. Yet, I was intrigued by the review and by the very low price for a 4 LP set, so I impulsively grabbed a copy...after a few cocktails. It arrived yesterday and boy, if it isn't as wonderful as Jeff Tamarkin says it is in Mojo. Heavy on Traffic tunes, a stellar band, and a fantastic recording. I have to say, this is really the surprise hit of the summer. The tunes are faithful, yet reworked enough to keep things exciting. Two Blind Faith tunes, a Buddy Miles cover and Spencer Davis tracks, all really cook.

There is also a new Neil Finn record out, which is monumental for me. I listened once with headphones and was not moved to go back a second time. I don't believe this is the end of this story. My hard copy has been pre-ordered and I will begin again when it arrives.

I've been binge-listening to Frank Zappa after not listening to Frank Zappa for years and years, no thanks to someone I know who played so much Zappa that he made me hate Zappa. I'm over it, finally, and these new Zappa releases, remastered from original analog tapes by Chris Bellman and Bernie Grundman are simply stunning.

I hope to snap out of this malaise and post on a more regular basis. Until then, these short bursts are all I've got.

Grant Hart, R.I.P.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kaptain Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds

Before I discovered records stores, all my music was bought at a local department store within bicycle range of my house. When this album arrived in 1972, these guys scared the shit out of me. They looked like biker outlaws. I didn't buy it.

Many years later it turned up in a room mate's collection. 
I had no idea who Randy California was, or that he possibly wrote "Stairway To Heaven".

I was surprised to find out Randy Craig Wolfe was given his stage name by Jimi Hendrix, to distinguish him from another Randy in Jimmy James and The Blue Flames, who was dubbed Randy Texas, and that Ed Cassidy, with whom he formed Spirit, was his stepfather.

Anyway, there is a pretty cool cover of "Day Tripper" on it I thought you might enjoy. 
It's followed, rather oddly, by another cover, Paul Simon's "Mother And Child Reunion". 

Clearly Jimi was an influence.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Sixteen years later America stands tall, has a clear eyed concentration on truth and justice, and is utterly focused on what's really important. Also, Train just freely covered Led Zeppelin II, so the terrorists didn't win."

- J.M.