Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Messina & Oates

The guest on this season's finale of "Live From Daryl's House" was Kenny Loggins. I haven't thought about Kenny Loggins in 30 years and then I took special care in trying to forget Kenny Loggins after his 90's trifecta of a Christian record, a children's record and a book/CD about his sex life. (I'll never hear "House At Pooh Corner" the same way again.)

But there was a short period, two albums really, where I really enjoyed Kenny Loggins. 1979's "Keep The Fire" and 1982's "High Adventure" both had a number of great songs, and I was a sucker for those Loggins co-writes with Michael McDonald.  "What A Fool Believes," "I Gotta Try," "No Looking Back" were all recorded by both Loggins and McDonald. "This Is It" and Heart To Heart" both recorded by just Loggins. Great stuff, full of hooks. Really well-crafted songs.

This isn't about any of that.

It's about "Swear Your Love," side one, track four, "High Adventure." No revelations here. Just sharing a tune I remember loving in 1982 and after whipping it out yesterday for the first time since, decided I still do. Of course it suffers a bit from being born in the 80s, but I still love it. Not really arena rock and maybe not quite power pop, but certainly a much better song than his 80's movie hit onslaught of  "Footloose," "Danger Zone" and "I'm Alright." Great chorus, great harmonies. Kind of girl group at its heart, I think.

As for his appearance on "LFDH," once you get past the initial shock of what Loggins looks like in the car on the way to club---I think he had his cheeks pulled back and pinned to the back of his skull---the performance was pretty good. I always hated "Your Mama Don't Dance," but Daryl Hall's band found a nice groove and it worked. The rest wasn't so bad, either.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Songs Of The Week, 2016: 6/11-6/24

I have been without a burner for two weeks, so apologies for the delay. Here are two weeks of Songs Of The Day.

Changes- Charles Bradley
It's All Over But The Smoke- Jules Shear & Ron Sexsmith
Groovin'- Ben E. King
Stranger To Himself- Traffic
Showdown-The Isley Bros.
A Midsummer's Night Scene- John's Children
Useless Begging- Todd Rundgren
I Knew- Bonnie Raitt
I'll Search the Sky- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Dream Life- Adrian Belew
Black Market Baby- Tom Waits
A Pair Of Brown Eyes- The Pogues
Allons Rock N Roll- Li'l Band O Gold
Streets Of Bakersfield- Dwight Yoakam & Buck Owens


Friday, June 24, 2016

Important Shmimportant or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Not Love Pet Sounds

I don't recall the year, but I wrote an ill-advised piece for The Huffington Post claiming that The Hollies' "Butterfly" was a better record than "Sgt. Pepper." I thought it was a mistake from the start, but I knew what I was feeling and went ahead with it. Sure enough, it went over like "Ringo's Rotogravure." If I had thought a bit longer and harder about it, I would have written what I am writing now.

"Pepper" might have better songs, but I still like more songs on "Butterfly," and to my ears, "Butterfly" plays better. If I had to rate The Beatles catalogue from my favorite to least favorite, "Sgt. Pepper" would come in at #8, with only "Please Please Me," "Magical Mystery Tour," "The White Album" and "Let It Be" dragging ass behind it. I play "Butterfly" more than I play "Pepper," even if "Pepper" is far more important to music history.

I like "Pet Sounds." I do. But I am pretty sure I have never listened to "Pet Sounds" without thinking that there are more than a few clunky speed bumps (just like "Sgt. Pepper") on what is widely considered one of the greatest, if not "the" greatest album of all time...you know...after "Sgt. Pepper."  Is it sacrilege to think "the greatest album of all time" should not include the completely out of place "Sloop John B," or not one, but two interesting, yet admittedly throwaway instrumentals?  Knowing the record's history and the emotional struggles of Brian Wilson certainly changes the way I might listen to "That's Not Me," but ultimately, what I am hearing is always the same, a clumsy tune with very uncomfortable instrumentation.  I get a lot more pleasure listening to "Today" or "Summer Days." These records aren't as important as "Pet Sounds," but they play better to my ears.

This is not to say music shouldn't be demanding. I am not campaigning for straighforward over complex. Trust me. I am not here to bury "Pepper" and "Pet Sounds." I'm just questioning why "A Hard Day's Night," featuring 13 Beatles originals, with arguably no weak tracks in the bunch, isn't ever considered monumental the way "Pepper" is. Is it the strings or the horns on "Pepper?" It can't be "When I'm 64" and "Within You, Without You." Is "A Hard Day's Night" too straighforward? Maybe 13 out of 13 killer tracks isn't such a feat after all.  Just like actors playing handicapped or dying characters always seem to get the Oscar over the lovable shnooks and nice guys, maybe solid as a rock pop music is too much fun to be taken seriously. Or maybe, it's being at the right place at the right time. Both "Pepper" and "Pet Sounds" were brilliant anomalies in 1966 & 1967, with the artists feeding off each other, doing their best to best the other. I don't believe that means we cannot reassess 50 years later.

Sometimes I think we have been conditioned to feel a certain way about art. We get on that bus and remain, as if our stop never comes. It's not a bad bus. We are riding with exceptional works of art. But there is that other bus, that awful crosstown bus that always seems to come at the wrong time, the one carrying the people who always stay on long after their stop and make statements like "The Stones were never as good after Brian Jones died" and "The Beatles are overrated."  I don't believe these people truly feel that way and I don't believe that those gushing their hyperbole over "Pepper" and "Pet Sounds" feel that way, either.  Some might. I mean, who am I to question what turns people on? But I think we've all been around friends who sit through painfully long and boring art house crap, say a French documentary about the boiling point of tin, and then force a rave review through their clenched teeth, while refusing to admit they'd much rather be watching "Duck Soup." Somehow it makes more sense to me for people to simply really like "Pet Sounds" and "Sgt. Pepper" and not go into the default setting of "these are the greatest records ever." It seems more honest. I trust it more.

And then of course, there are Neil Young fans. But I digress.

There are many records in the last 50 years that have been groundbreaking and influential, but I don't believe that is the same as being a great record.  The Who's "Tommy" is an epic, the "rock opera." It is legendary.  It was a first of its kind and years later became a monster success on Broadway. I never feel like listening to it.

"Blonde On Blonde" is my 4th favorite Dylan record. I won't be as brazen as I was when I handed in my Huffington Post piece and state that "Desire" is a better record, but I sure as hell like it more.  But I do think "Blood On The Tracks, "Bringing It All Back Home" and "Highway 61 Revisited" are better than "Blonde," but "Blonde" will go down in history, like "Pet" and "Pepper" as the one.

May I ask a personal question? Just between us. Your words will never leave this room, if you are motivated to confess.

Are they any records and artists you've been pretending to love because it's a lot harder to get off the bus at this point?

I'll begin.

Frank Zappa has hundreds of records. I think five of them are worth listening to, while much of the rest is a whole lotta smug and unfunny crap. If there is a hell, "Billy The Mountain" will be playing on repeat. I tried for years, sitting around with that frozen smile, while my friends all guffawed over "Joe's Garage." I won't do it anymore.

There. I feel better.

Weekend Mix: UK Folk, Blues, & Beyond

This has been some of my favorite music for a long time. The title is adapted from Davy Graham's 1963 album, "Folk, Blues and Beyond..."
For those unfamiliar with the territory, this is a good place to start. For those readers who are, I've thrown some interesting curve balls.

Davy Graham could have ruled the world but instead became a cautionary tale of heroin addiction. He passed in 2008.
Fairport Convention is still active, and will be 50 next year.

Excuse my brevity, but I must get back to my "Morris Dancing".




Brexit: When I posted this I'd forgotten all about the referendum. I knew it was imminent, but I was also sure it would fail. Holy Shit!

"Leave the factory, leave the forge and dance to the New St George"-Richard Thompson

Thursday, June 23, 2016


The final tracklist for the two-headed monster:

Side One

Side Two

As Michael Giltz said, "What's the takeaway here? I had fun."

I look at this final tracklisting, with about half of the songs winning by large margins, and I still would rather listen to either BB or SF than the best of both. There's something about "the album," how it was conceived and sequenced, that can make even lesser pieces of work, work.

I think some of us may have commented how we "always skip" the songs we don't care for. Truth is, I rarely do. I'm not a fan of "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," yet I'd rather listen to it than not. I love "the album." It's why I think so many CD boxed sets are inferior, with the compilers opting for a live version of a song instead of the original, or choosing an edit over the full length. One of the worst offenses was a recent vinyl repackage of "Who's Next," where the actual sequence of the original album was changed, to make room on a side for the bonus material. Side One is NOT supposed to end with "Getting In Tune" and Side Two is NOT supposed to end with "Baby, Don't You Do It." I understand the concept, but I always go back to the original and rarely want to hear the rarities.

Another thing came to mind, and maybe you can take the weekend to think about this one, showing your willpower by not commenting until the post goes up next week, but...

A number of you cited "Beggars Banquet" as the "important" album. I can think of a few very famous and well-loved "important" albums that just don't cut it for me, or at the very least, aren't my favorites by the artists. I prefer "Sticky Fingers" over "Beggars Banquet." And a few of my other choices might end up being sacrilege to some of you.

More on that on Monday.

Thanks to all for playing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

THE FINAL ROUND: Salt Of The Earth vs. Moonlight Mile

Side One

Side Two

I know that at some point prior to 1989, I loved "Salt Of The Earth," though never as much as "Moonlight Mile." But thanks to the performance above and one Axl Rose, a man who can sabotage the greatest moments in musical history by merely existing, I can never hear "Salt Of The Earth" the same way again.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Ray, Brian, Todd & Paul" : THE WEEKEND MIX REDUX

Paul McCartney, born on June 18th.

Brian Wilson, born on June 20th.

Ray Davies, born on June 21st.

Todd Rundgren, born on June 22nd.

I mean, HELL.

It feels like I've been listening to nothing but these four men, in one form or another, for my whole life, and I can't say I'd have it any other way.

If any of this sounds familiar it's because I wrote the same thing in 2011.  (and 2013.)

This Weekend Mix is not your average collection of tunes celebrating these four musical heroes of mine. Like the first collection, I've included some odd ball choices to keep you on your toes, including a few covers, some alternate takes, live versions and a production or three by Brian and Todd.


You may recognize the melody of the Sharon Marie tune as a blueprint for the Beach Boys 1969 hit "Darlin'."

Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris, a New Orleans legend delivers one of my very favorite covers. Period. It also happens to be one of my very favorite Ray Davies tunes.

Jamie Hoover of the great power pop band The Spongetones reinvents Todd's mini-classic "Izzat Love" from 1974's "Todd" LP.

Paul's "Summer Of '59" is an outtake from "Chaos & Creation In The Backyard." I admit, it's not a great song, but there is something about it I like and thought it would be a nice inclusion for those who may not have it.

The Hale & The Hushabyes track is simply breathtaking.

Let me know what you think.


Summer's Cauldron/Grass- XTC
David Watts- The Jam
Yes Sir, That's My Baby- Hale & The Hushabyes
Two Of Us- Neil & Liam Finn
Thinkin' 'bout You Baby- Sharon Marie
Oklahoma U.S.A.- Leigh Harris
I Need You- The Rationals
In My Room (Vocals Only)- The Beach Boys
Summer Of '59- Paul McCartney
Izzat Love- Jamie Hoover
Heart Of Gold- The Kinks
The Want Of A Nail- Todd Rundgren
Didn't I (Blow Your Mind) (Live From Daryl's House)- Daryl Hall & Todd Rundgren
Something (Concert For George)- Paul McCartney & Eric Clapton
Surf's Up (Tribute To Brian Wilson)- David Crosby, Vince Gill & Jimmy Webb
Great Day- Paul McCartney