Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Other 100: 11-15

11. Roxy Music- Siren

There doesn't seem to be a lot of love among the cognoscenti for "Siren," Roxy Music's "disco" album. Was it because it was popular, with a genuine hit in "Love Is The Drug?" This record runs neck and neck with "For Your Pleasure" as my favorite Roxy Music record, but this is the one comes with me, because it has the very best drum sound I have ever heard on record. But also, it seems to perfectly mix the best of early Roxy with what later Roxy became. "Siren" nails it with accessible melodies and occasionally off-center arrangements. And again, it's drummer Paul Thompson's shining hour. Not a bad song in the bunch.

12. Bobby "Blue" Bland- Two Steps From The Blues

I know this record is on Elvis Costello's Top 100, but I think it's reasonable to say, his list is not a "usual" list, so it goes on mine. If you think you've never heard this record, chances are you still know every song. The record is an R&B classic, and the songs have been covered by many.  Hell, I think British singer James Hunter based his whole career on this album.

13. Rolling Stones- Through The Past Darkly U.K. MONO Vinyl

This is the most questionable entry on this list, but it must be here for the reasons I stated in the first post. I play this baby once a week. It has a better track list than its U.S. counterpart and the rare-ish MONO mixes from singles jump right out of the speakers. Essential!

14. Daryl Hall-Sacred Songs

"Sacred Songs" is part of an unofficial Robert Fripp-produced trilogy that also includes Fripp's own "Exposure," which Daryl Hall appears on, and Peter Gabriel's sophomore solo release. "Sacred Songs" is not only the best of the three, it might be Daryl Hall's finest hour. As a fan of both King Crimson and Hall & Oates, it certainly has elements of both, but it is incredibly unique in that nothing, not even the most commercial tunes, such as the title track and first single, or the gorgeous Philly-soul of "Why Was It So Easy" simply flow from beginning to end. Robert Fripp's use of his then "new" invention Frippertronics works in ways no Hall & Oates fan could have ever imagined for the pop duos own material.

15. Electric Light Orchestra- Zoom

Time certainly heals all wounds. When "Zoom" was released in 2001, no one gave a crap about Jeff Lynne. He canceled a tour due to lack of ticket sales and "Zoom" was forgotten, even by the man who created it. Now, Jeff Lynne is selling out concert halls all over the world, as he should be, and still, "Zoom" is forgotten. But not by me. I will go on record saying, there isn't one other ELO record with as many perfect pop songs as "Zoom." I loved it then. It's a favorite still.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Other 100: 6-10

6. The Meters- Rejuvenation

I can't say for sure if music from New Orleans needs to be heard live, the way people say you need to see the Dead and Bruce Springsteen live to become a fan. I certainly loved Irma Thomas and Fats Domino and so many others, including The Meters, long before I made my first trip to the Crescent City. But there was a sea change after my first week in New Orleans, and suddenly the music felt different, almost holy. If there was one record that defines that feeling, it's The Meters' "Rejuvenation." It plays like The Meters Greatest Hits. It is funk and soul, blues, jazz and rock, and most important, happiness, all in one place

7. Chicago II

Prior to becoming known as schlock balladeers, the Chicago Transit Authority were a respected, horn-based, jazz rock band that also had the ability to create wonderful hit singles. "Chicago II" first made its way into my hands on an 8-track, and almost 50 years later, I can still hear those bad fades as the tape made its way from track one to track two. Still, I played that baby constantly, especially Side Two and the suite entitled "Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon." I'm sure you are familiar with the hit singles "Make Me Smile" and everyone's wedding song from 1969-1975, "Colour My World." But in the context of the suite from which they came, these two songs have a different life. The playing, especially Terry Kath's guitar and Danny Seraphine's drums, is out of this world. This is without a doubt one of my favorite Side Twos.

8. Jr. Walker & The All-Stars- Home Cookin'

Too many of Motown's album catalogue is uneven. It is rare when you can find a Supremes, Temptations, or early Marvin Gaye album that is consistent. But "Home Cookin'," from Jr. Walker & The All-Stars is an absolute killer. It is the closest thing to what a James Brown record might have sounded like under the guidance of Berry Gordy. There is the iconic sax intro to "What Does It Take," some raw funk workouts like "Baby Ain't You Shame" and "Hip City," and the impossible bass playing from "The Hook," Mr. James Jamerson on the title track. This record rocks!

9. The Bees- Free The Bees

I can't describe the fervor over this record when it first came through my shop. Who the hell were The Bees and what the hell kind of music are they playing? I still can't describe it because every song on "Free The Bees" is different. At times they sound like The JB's, or maybe even Traffic, or possibly The Ventures. It's a damn smorgasbord of music. If we played it, we sold it. I can't even decide what song to post as a sample, because it wouldn't represent anything else. All I know is, 13 years later and it still kicks my ass.

10. Savoy Brown- Getting To The Point

Would you believe I hadn't heard a note of the Chris Youlden lineup of Savoy Brown's music before the 90's? I had written them off as some sort of boogie band, like the music made by ex-members when they formed Foghat. But once I heard Youlden's voice and style, and discovred the ridiculous playing of Kim Simmonds, there was no turning back. "Getting To The Point" is the second Savoy Brown record, but the first featuring Youlden. It remains my favorite and their style of British blues still blows me away. How can the blues be fresh and original? Listen to this record, and you will understand.


Monday, February 20, 2017

The Other 100: 1-5

My friend Michael sent me a text.

"I want to see your list of best albums of all time that no one includes."

After a solid 20 text volley, we decided that the best approach was not for me to find 100 records that don't appear on the usual "100 Best Albums Of All Time" lists in Rolling Stone twice a year, or any of the other music rags. That list could end up being an unlistenable collection of oddball selections and ultra-hip choices that quite frankly, wouldn't be any fun at all.

One can assume that most have "Revolver," "Blonde On Blonde," "What's Going On?," etc., in our Top 100. But if fate would actually place us on a desert island with electrical power and a stereo, and a climate controlled storage area to keep these vinyl gems safe, what 100 records, in addition to that first 100, would absolutely need to be there?

I chose my 100 based on one thing. Heavy rotation. I won't claim any of these records are better than the usual Top 100, though some might very well be. For my purposes, these records are just as important, and in many cases, they get played as often, if not more, than anything else in my collection.

I will be sharing them in random groups of 5. I have gushed about many of these before, so forgive me if at some point I am repeating myself.

Again, these are being posted in random groups of 5, which means "Rough mix" is NOT #1 and The Darkness is NOT #5.

Next post will be titled, "The Other 100: 6-10."

1. Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane- Rough Mix

This record barely got made. If I remember correctly, it started out as a Ronnie Lane project and Pete Townshend was asked to help out, along with Eric Clapton. What it finally became, is a near-perfect collaboration of two friends, mixing up Lane's sweet country folk and Pete's legendary power chords and orchestrations.  The results are mostly gorgeous.

2. Willie Nelson- Teatro

I am not a fan of Daniel Lanois, but I think he created something truly magical and unique with Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris, who shares vocals with Nelson on many tracks, much like she did on Dylan's "Desire." I couldn't believe my ears when I first heard this record and played it to the point of almost never wanting to hear it again. Time passed, and the love affair has picked up nicely, with no regrets.

3. Black Sabbath- Heaven & Hell

The last two Black Sabbath records with Ozzy Osbourne were a far cry from their first groundbreaking three. The very last, "Never Say Die," is considered to be a mess, and I believe the band, especially Ozzy, had just about disowned it. Truth be told, I really love it, but that's not why I am here. The first with new singer, Ronnie James Dio, sounds nothing at all like the dark, evil riffing of the band before it. Instead, it is a true reinvention,  and "Heaven & Hell" remains one of the very best hard rock albums of all time. This is another I played to death when it was first released. My band at the time covered "Neon Knights." And today, it has not lost its sheen. (The album, not my band.)

4. Marshall Crenshaw- Life's Too Short

Many will claim Marshall Crenshaw did not live up to the potential of his critically-acclaimed debut. The sophomore slump had less to do with the material and more to do with Steve Lillywhite's bombastic production. By records three and four, the casual fan had moved on. But, in 1991, Marshall reappeared on a new label and gave us "Life's Too Short." I have no qualms about calling this record better than his debut. The songs are ten years more mature than those two minute pop gems of the debut, the sound has expanded, and though one could argue the production could have been toned down a touch, I don't think it is nearly as bad as "Field Day." This really is my fave MC record.

5. The Darkness- Hot Cakes

During the 70's, I listened to Queen, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Mott The Hoople and T.Rex almost exclusively. The Darkness magically takes the best of all those bands and serves up one hit after another on "Hot Cakes." It may sound like hyperbole, but every song on this record has a riff or chorus to die for. As a matter of fact, I'm going to listen to it now. One of the most played records in my collection since its release.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Songs Of The Week, 2017: 2/12-2/18

King Kong- Big T Tyler
I'm A Greedy Man- James Brown
Crumbs Off The Table- Laura Lee
Slangshotz & Boomerangs- C.C.Adcock & Lafayette Marquis
On The Road Again- Canned Heat
When My Baby's Beside Me- Big Star
Sweet Dreamer- Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Charlie Faye & The Fayettes

I've been listening to Charlie Faye and The Fayettes, thanks to Dave F., who a few months back, told us it was his favorite record of 2016. The record pushes all the right buttons for me. I especially like the two tracks featured here.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Ed Sheeran is horrible. It's not because I'm old. It's not because I miss Andy Williams. It's because Ed Sheeran is horrible. And so is Katy Perry. And if you're going to watch and complain about the Grammy Awards in the year 2017, then you only have yourself to blame.

I watched the Grammy Awards.

If you can guiltlessly mock "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" by Genesis or roll your eyes at "Shout It Out Loud" by Kiss, and yet give a rousing, standing O of respect to Beyonce and her bizarre, music-less, seven minutes that even Golan-Globus would have left on the cutting room floor, something is definitely rotten in Denmark.

And speaking of rotten in Denmark, here's Lukas Graham's Grammy nominated song.

Once I was seven years old, my mama told me,
"Go make yourself some friends or you'll be lonely."
Once I was seven years old

It was a big big world, but we thought we were bigger
Pushing each other to the limits, we were learning quicker
By eleven smoking herb and drinking burning liquor
Never rich so we were out to make that steady figure

Once I was eleven years old, my daddy told me,
"Go get yourself a wife or you'll be lonely."
Once I was eleven years old

I always had that dream, like my daddy before me
So I started writing songs, I started writing stories
Something about that glory just always seemed to bore me
'Cause only those I really love will ever really know me

This was a Grammy nominee for Record Of The Year? Remember "Playground In My Mind" by Clint Holmes? How about Jessie Colter's "I'm Not Lisa?" We hated those songs. "Only Seventeen" is one of those songs. And this is okay now.

I can recall sitting glued to the television for hours when MTV first came on the air, whining about bad videos by Saga while waiting for an Elvis Costello video, or wanting to the throw the remote at the screen when the "Safety Dance" video aired for the 15th time in one day. Today, Men Without Hats seem like Bacharach and David.

It couldn't have been just me who counted no more than three notes in the entire melody of that Katy Perry song? Or any Katy Perry song?

Nothing is right about any of this. Even a small pleasure like David Bowie getting his first Grammy Award is tainted by the fact that he won for Best Rock Performance on a record he recorded with a jazz  band. Plus, it was too late. Bowie is dead. Bowie is now the Peter Finch of glam.

As you may or may not know, I have no love for Adele, a perfectly decent, one trick singer who unbeknownst to me, made a "comeback" this year at the age of 27. The drama on stage during her pathetic, funereal take on George Michael's "Fast Love" was somehow embraced as heroic. "I'm sorry. It's live TV," Adele reminded us, as she carelessly tossed off "fucks" and asked to begin again. Live TV can't be easy...unless, you rehearse. (Adele meet Sid Caesar. Sid. Adele.) Her tribute to George Michael was neither moving nor entertaining. It was really more like Adele paying tribute to Adele. It made me squirm.

Megagaca seemed to delight many people on social media. "Finally, something refreshing." I enjoyed it. It was a holy mess, but less of a holy mess than everything else we had been subjected to up to that point. We loved it because it didn't suck. That's the way we treat music in 2017. If we don't absolutely hate it, it's Mozart.

And how about that ill-advised Bee Gees tribute? I read a few comments asking,"Why pay tribute to the horrible disco years?" For one thing, the Bee Gees disco years were far from horrible. The Brothers Gibb reinvented themselves and took on the world with some of the greatest pop singles in the history of music. Plus, it will soon be the 40th anniversary of that reinvention. That explains wanting to pay tribute. It also explains not one song played from "Cucumber Castle." But, I digress. The cast of characters chosen to sing 90 seconds of four songs, while a voice similar to Martha Stewart's casually announced each performer over the music, was mind-bogglingly bad.. Truly, a shambles, that even for the Grammy Awards, was an embarrassment. I imagine Barry Gibb was singing to himself the way we were told to repeat, "It's only a movie" when we went to see "The Last House On The Left."

I realize this ranting is just spitting in the wind, and many times, it can backfire. I fully expect the cards and letters to come in defending Solange, Frank Ocean, Little Big Town, Kelsea Ballerini, Mrs. Manicotti, Queen B, Adele and all the other "kids" who just want to have fun and be heard. We had our chance. Why shouldn't they? Well, of course they should. But at what point do we stop accepting spectacle over substance?

I have this vision of John Hiatt singing "Have A Little Faith In Me" surrounded by 25 male dancers dressed like Darth Vader. Or, Elvis Costello singing "Alison" while swinging from a trapeze. Or, Black Sabbath calling Joni Mitchell up on stage for an ironic cover of "Free Man In Paris." Of course, this is all very silly, except it's what we watch every February on CBS. Only the names have been changed.

Is there no chance at all that this will ever change for the better? Can it be that music will actually get worse as we get older? All of our heroes are dying and I don't see anyone carrying the torches. Some are trying. But too many have no idea whose torches they need to carry. That is the problem. That is our fault.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Songs Of The Week, 2017: 2/5-2/11

Idiot Wind (New York Mix)- Bob Dylan
For What It's Worth- Lou Rawls
Oh Me Oh My- Lulu
Heart Of Gold- The Kinks
Steady Now- Amanda Kravat
Just Another Girl- Buddy Judge
I Didn't Know I Was Saying Goodbye- The John Sally Ride