Sunday, January 24, 2021

Songs Of The Week, 2021: 1/16- 1/22


Trouble Boys - Thin Lizzy
You Can Have Him- Dionne Warwick
Somebody In The World For You- The Mighty Hannibal
Tell The World How I Feel About You- Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Right And Wrong- Joe Jackson
Marwa Blues- George Harrison
Ship Of Fools- World Party


Trouble Boys- Thin Lizzy
This classic Dave Edmunds tune seems tailored-made for Phil & The Boys. I have a great memory of buying this picture sleeve single at Zig Zag Records in Sheepshead Bay and an even greater memory of buying it again just last week from a dealer in England.

You Can Have Him- Dionne Warwick
I was listening to Rhino's excellent Dionne Anthology and this b-side came on. I hadn't been familiar with it, though I knew this wasn't the first time I played this Rhino comp. It quickly became a favorite thanks to that cool and crazy drum beat.

Somebody In The World For You- The Mighty Hannibal
James T. Shaw, aka King Hannibal, aka The Mighty Hannibal wasn't one of your go-to soul artists, flying under the radar for most of his career. But the "Hannibalism" compilation on Norton Records is pound for pound, one of the greatest collections of R&B, funk and soul ever assmembled. If you dig this track, I highly recommend tracking down that Norton set.

Tell The World How I Feel About You- Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
I picked up a number of new record collections over the last two weeks. (Lots of it available now in the Discogs shop. Just click on the "Records For Sale" link on the right. 😋 But I digress.) One of the collections had an instant Harold Melvin/Teddy Pendergrass collection, which came at the right time since I was still thinking about that Teddy documentary that aired on Showtime. Good film, and this, a great song.

Right And Wrong- Joe Jackson
Residual effects of the Joe Jackson binge. One of my favorite intros!

Marwa Blues- George Harrison
Wesley Stace, aka John Wesley Harding, put together a Spotify playlist of later George Harrison material. I was happy to see this track made it. Just a lovely piece of music.

Ship Of Fools- World Party
This was a happy accident. I had been listening to the Dead's "Mars Hotel" and thought I'd share "Ship of Fools." I put the World Party track in the Song Of The Day folder instead and decided it was a better way to close things out.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Larry King, 1933-2021


Larry King interviewing Eric Clapton:

So Eric, do you write your own numbers?

Friday, January 22, 2021

"A Bunch Of Songs": The Weekend Mix



I have a folder where I toss random tunes. These are songs I read about, hear about or simply enjoyed at one time and hoped to revisit at another, like say... in a blog post. Today I chose an hour's worth.  It looked like a good mix and so here it is.


Lee Perry's "Africa's Blood" is getting a reissue next week. I was unfamiliar with this record and did some digging. This All Music review got me- "the personality of Perry shines through and gives each track that Upsetter twist that keeps this stuff from being relegated to footnote status. A perfect example of this is the cover of "My Girl" here. Sure, it's the same song, but it also bears the unmistakable stamp of Perry, turning a cover of a song you've heard too often into a foot-tapping good time. Heartily recommended."

Of all the Phil Spector songs, it was this Ronettes track that came to mind when I first heard about his death. I can't explain why, but it did and so it is here.

I've been wanting to post this Peter Wolf song as a Song Of The Day forever, but there is no YouTube video of the studio track. So it is here. I could listen to that coda on a loop.

I avoided Joe Jackson's "The Duke " for years, assuming I wouldn't dig it. Steve Vai playing "Isfahan?" Iggy Pop and Sharon Jones? I'm no purist, but I do love Duke Ellington and back in the 90's I spent a whole year or more going through the Penguin Jazz Guide and listening to as much of The Duke's catalogue I could get my hands on. On paper, JJ's "The Duke" looked awful. Boy, was I wrong!  I finally gave in as part of the recent JJ binge. Wow! What a terrific record! It all works, including Vai, Pop and Jones.

And speaking of Sharon Jones, I love her cover of the early Gladys Knight single. It might be better than the original.

And speaking of Gladys, this one stayed in the vault until just a little while ago.

Been thinking about the original "Ice Cream Man" since Eddie Van Halen passed.

I featured Molly Tuttle's Rancid cover a couple of days ago, but I think "Today's Cover Version" gets lost in the shuffle, so here it is again.

"No More Tearstained Make-Up" came to me first when Elvis Costello covered it in the 80's. It is one of my Top 10 Motown songs. As a matter of fact, I had started writing a piece on the album "Watchout," a solid Motown album from start to finish, but have been too distracted lately and never completed it. Anyway, the song is here and I highly recommend Martha & The Vandellas' "Watchout." It is also a Top 10 Motown album.

There are some other goodies here as well, including a beautiful reading of Bowie's "Strangers When We Meet" from the live Bowie celebration a week or so ago, and NIN's Adam Ant cover, which I absolutely love. That Squeeze track might be my favorite of their b-sides and while I'm not a big Smithereens fan, I do think Smithereens "11" is a perfect album and this song from their follow-up is pretty great, too.

Anyway, dig in and give them all a chance.

Maybe I Loved You- The Jay Vons
I Can't Take You Back- Gladys Knight & the Pips
Ice Cream Man- John Brim
My Girl- The Upsetters
Giving Up- Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine- The Ronettes
What The Butler Saw- Squeeze
Now & Then- The Smithereens
Olympia, WA- Molly Tuttle
Perdido/Satin Doll- Joe Jackson
I'm Not Here- NRBQ
Physical (You're So)- Nine Inch Nails
No More Tearstained Make Up- Martha & The Vandellas
Strangers When We Meet- Gail Ann Dorsey
I Don't Wanna Know- Peter Wolf


Thursday, January 21, 2021

ICYMI: New Radicals Together Again




I can't get enough of this song or the album it comes from. The New Radicals will forever be known as one-hit wonders and even that hit isn't exactly as well-known as other one-hit wonders. "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed, Too" is a solid record from head to tail. I've said it here before and I'll continue to say it. If you don't know the record, it's time. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Pardon Me



With just a few hours left before we have a new actual leader in the White House, I'd like to take a few moments to pardon a few people myself.

Mary J. Blige for having a career while never singing on key, either live or in the studio.

Todd Rundgren for every attempt at rap, hip hop and electronic dance music.

Gary Cherone and Van Halen III.

Bruce Springsteen for "Harry's Place" which makes "Outlaw Pete" sound like "Jungleland."

Drake for "God's Plan." (Talk about working in "mysterious ways.")

Van Morrison and Eric Clapton and their lame-ass anti-lockdown song.

The Grateful Dead for the "1969 Fillmore Good Lovin' Massacre."

Aerosmith for all 30 power ballads since 1993 that sound exactly the same.

Every Dave Matthews fan.

Jagger. Richards. "You Got Me Rocking."

Whoever green-lighted "Orange Crate Art."



Monday, January 18, 2021

Sonic Boom: A Terrific Book With A Terrific Soundtrack


Peter Ames Carlin wrote one of my favorite rock bios of all time. His 2012 New York Times bestseller "Bruce," told the story of Bruce Springsteen the way I like reading a rock and roll story. It spared the 60 pages on the history of Colts Neck, New Jersey and another 40 pages on his great-grandparents' parents and got to the heart of what makes a great rock book--the subject and his music, with just the right amount of historical pepper. Peter Ames Carlin knew what a Bruce fan wanted to read.

This is why I was looking forward to "Sonic Boom: The Impossible Rise Of Warner Brothers Records." Carlin, who has contributed a number of times to Burning Wood, loves music the way we love music and I was confident this story would not be bogged down with numbers, charts and statistics. It would be something I'd want to read. Stories worth telling.

I was not wrong.

"Sonic Boom" reads like a series of shorts, each covering a pivotal moment from WB's beginning and its failure to release a hit, right on through its rise in the early 70's. But this isn't filled with the stories you've heard time and again. These are inside stories from the very top of the heap, Mo Ostin, and his staff of music-loving crazies and visionaries, who share anecdotes about Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, Frank Sinatra, The Kinks, Alice Cooper, Lowell George and The Grateful Dead.



Long before Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" and "Purple Rain" there was Ira Ironstrings and that 1958 classic "Music For People With $3.98 (Plus tax, if any)." It took a number of these mistakes before WB had a hit record..and it wasn't with music. Even when Frank Sinatra, a man who famously hated rock and roll, was given Reprise Records, he signed his pals Frank and Dean of course, but also Ethel Merman and Dennis Day. 1962's "hit" list included, among other misses, "The X-15 And Other Sounds Of Missiles, Rockets and Jets." The rise took some time and some truly forward thinking and you'll read about how it all unfolded, with The Kinks, Trini Lopez, chimps on tricycles and one of the GTOs jumping out of a cake.

"Sonic Boom" is fast and funny, and it does what the best music books should do--it makes you want to listen along. My soundtrack to "Sonic Boom" included revisiting Van Dyke Parks' "Song Cycle," which is now something I love after dismissing it for years, Little Feat's "Feats Don't Fail Me Now," Alice Cooper's "Love It To Death,"and The Dead's "Anthem Of The Sun." I'm sure each of you will have your own personal picks as you read along.

I rarely write about books I've read, but I had so much fun with "Sonic Boom," I thought you might want some of that fun, as well.

"Sonic Boom" is out tomorrow and you can get it here.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Songs Of The Week, 2021: 1/9- 1/15



Hoist That Rag- Tom Waits
Shake- The Time
Iris- Split Enz
Don't Think About Me- Peter Frampton
Bittersweetheart- Soul Asylum
I Read You Like A Book- The Tages
God Said- Todd Rundgren


Hoist That Rag- Tom Waits
I don't always love when Tom Waits barks, but on this track there was no other choice. It's perfect.

Shake- The Time
I've been on a Prince kick since Christmas. This track from The Time is on "Graffiti Bridge," which is a much better record than its reputation.

Iris- Split Enz
This was a single but it did not do well in the USA. I think it is one of Neil Finn's best. I saw Neil with Crowded House many times, including once at The Bottom Line and twice at CBGBs. Very intimate shows and as a matter of fact, I literally had my feet on the stage at the CBGBs shows. Neil often takes audience requests. I shouted out for "Iris" at the Bottom Line and he said he couldn't play it because it was in a different tuning. Months later at CBGBs, I shouted out for "Iris" and he shouted back, "You again? I can't play that one, it's in a different tuning." Not sure if he really remembered me, or if no one ever requests "Iris." True story. Great song. And Neil, just bring a second guitar.

Don't Think About Me- Peter Frampton
Frampton goes power pop. I highly recommend "The Art Of Control." The production is a bit dated, but the songs are all great pop rockers like this one.

Bittersweetheart- Soul Asylum
From my favorite Soul Asylum record, which I played last week. This one stood out.

I Read You Like A Book- The Tages
The Swedish Beatles, this nugget by The Tages, or just Tages, depending on the record, popped up on the iPod.

God Said- Todd Rundgren
Because I love it and thought it was a great way to go out.