Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Guitar" Frank, A New Obsession

I've been slowly going through a 600 LP collection I acquired last week, separating the wheat from the chaff, or in this case, the Townes Van Zandt records from the Randy Travis records and I've become obsessed with one particular record called, "Lonesome Road Blues" by "Guitar Frank" Hovington.


According to the liner notes on the back cover, he was "seen playing on a roadside porch by John Fahey, when he was on a record-collecting trip in Delaware." Another story, claims "Guitar Frank" refused to leave his home of Felton, Delaware, fearing he would lose his welfare checks. The songs in this album, released by Rounder in 1979 after an initial release on the U.K. Flyright label, were recorded in his home, over two days in July of 1975.

There are many blues men, from the blind to the sleepy, who have recorded sides that have been documented by great lovers of roots music like archivists Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records and Alan Lomax. But there is something about Hovington's playing that struck me as special.

I first felt this way about the Texas bluesman, Mance Lipscomb, after seeing Les Blank's 1971 documentary, "A Well Spent Life." Watching Lipscomb's long fingers on his battered hands, as he owned his acoustic guitar, changed the way I listened to country blues, which I'll admit, was casually. Pick a record by anyone, Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis or Big Bill Broonzy and I'd dig it, even if I couldn't quite tell who I was hearing. But once I saw Mance Lipscomb moving and strumming and singing, I knew each artist had something different to offer, and right now, after a long obsession with Mance, my obsession is Frank Hovington.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The White Album, 2018 Stereo Remix: Track By Track

Friday saw the release of "The Beatles," better known as "The White Album," in a stunning new 50th anniversary deluxe edition, with demos, session outtakes and a new stereo remix by Giles Martin, son of Sir George. Here is my track by track analysis of the new remix.

Back In The U.S.S.R.
Right from take-off, this song has new life. The hand claps are more pronounced, the drums are louder, the whole band sounds alive. Even Paul's vamping at the end seems new, as I only just noticed it.

Dear Prudence
Always a fave on the record, this new remix sounds as crisp as ever, with sounds I am hearing for the first time, especially on the fade-out, where you can now actually hear Mia Farrow adopting her fourth kid.

Glass Onion
Those STRINGS! Lennon's VOICE! This is now a powerhouse. Also noticed Lennon's primal vocals for the first time.

No difference

Wild Honey Pie
What used to be a throwaway is now a throwaway in a new stunning 2018 stereo remix.

The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
I was always on the fence about this song. I quite like the Esher Demo. Even Take 2 is exciting, with John asking Yoko is she could see the lyrics. But, the new remix didn't add much, except now I hear a countermelody on the singalong coda that I swear sounds exactly like "Quando Quando Quando."

While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Original lyric now inserted in original spot: "I look at you Paul, see the smug look you're sporting, still my guitar needs to be turned up." Brilliant.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun
This new 2018 remix makes the original from 1968 sound 50 years old. Amazing.

Okay, I can't do all four sides. Sorry.

Truth is, I am truly blown away by this whole set. I have mentioned a number of times how "The White Album" is not anywhere near my favorite from the Fabs, and yet I can't stop playing this new remix.

I think our friend Richeye nailed it with this:

"Giles remix of the album itself is stellar. There is a power in the band that wasn't there, yet the songs don't really sound any different."

One of the best examples of that statement is the instrumental take of "Birthday." While not on the record proper, this version sounds like a well-oiled, hard rocking band. Even The Beatles "heavy metal" song, "Helter Skelter," never quite hit that high, regardless of Paul's howling. Whether due to George Harrison's untreated, one-note solo, or just the careful production, it always sounded like a failed experiment. But what you hear on the "Birthday" session could stand up next to a track from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This band has balls! I can only imagine and hope, that while in the studio rehearsing, The Beatles were as loud and sweaty as most rock bands. I think that revelation now helps me hear a different band when I listen to the final product.

Another striking moment is the guitar version of "Good Night" with all four harmonizing, which got its own piece in the New York Times. Surely, this track was never a go-to, with its cheesy strings and Ringo's not quite vocalizing. Here, in this early take, Lennon employs his "Dear Prudence" guitar-picking, while the boys sing along. It's a beautiful piece of music, but what stands out is how much they don't sound like The Beatles. "Beatles Harmonies," by and large, is a term. Bands have been employing "Beatles Harmonies" since the Fabs broke up. Yet, on this track, it's hard to point out any singular voice other than Ringo's. These are not "Beatles Harmonies." My little mind was blown.

The "Pepper" remix seemed to correct a 50 year old stereo mix, and did so with great success. If you compare the 1967 edition with last year's edition, you'll hear a difference. It feels fixed. What's happening on the 2018 "White Album" is subtle, yet to my ears, more effective. It has somehow, miraculously, turned a record, that for years has been thought of as a collection of songs made by a band coming apart, into a brilliant, coherent, rock and roll record.

Play it loud!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Songs Of The Week, 2018: 11/3-11/9

I'm In The Mood For Love- Lord Tanamo
You Better Move On- Travis Wammack
Darling Be Home Soon- Jules Shear
And The Night Stood Still- Dion
Nowhere Is My Home- The Replacements
Surreal Estate- Be Bop Deluxe
Stone Cold Crazy (Trent Reznor Remix)- Queen


I'm In The Mood For Love- Lord Tanamo
I am a sucker for old ska and reggae covers of pop tunes and standards. I was listening to "This Is Trojan," a 6-LP boxed set and this track stood out on Side 6. Such a joyous groove!

You Better Move On- Travis Wammack
A brilliant arrangement of the Arthur Alexander tune, played like "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye. Hadn't thought about this one in years and then the iPod surprised me.

Darling Be Home Soon- Jules Shear
I decided after the first two tracks, that maybe I'd make this a week of cover versions, so I went with Jules Shear's version of the Spoonful. But it ended here.

And The Night Stood Still- Dion
A great song from a great comeback record. The LP was part of collection I picked up and I gave it a spin.

Nowhere Is My Home- The Replacements
From the unreleased Alex Chilton sessions, and released on the Euro-only LP, "Boink!!," also part of aforementioned collection.

Surreal Estate- Be Bop Deluxe
A new deluxe edition of Be Bop's third, "Sunburst Finish" has just been released. It's my favorite of from the band, and it made me think of "Drastic Plastic," which was my least fave for a long time. I decided to give it a spin after almost 40 years and it knocked me out. Whatever didn't do it for me in 1978, worked in 2018. This is from Side One.

Stone Cold Crazy (Trent Reznor Remix)- Queen
Still high from the NIN show last month and on a Queen kick since the release of the movie. So, of course, this came to mind. I imagine you'll either love it or hate it. I can't see making any new friends of either band with this track.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

And, He's Wearing A Tuxedo!

Short story:
I was ill-prepared. I have been less than inspired. I will be on the road until Friday. I wanted to get something up on the blog today, otherwise it would have been dead air until Friday. (No "dead air" jokes, please.)

Shorter story:
I woke up thinking about this drum solo.

And there ya have it.

Monday, November 5, 2018


“I love that feeling when you bite into a tootsie pop and the bits of crunchy lollipop are all mushed into the chewy tootsie roll. Also, anyone who continues to vote republican but claims they aren’t racist, is lying to themselves.”

- My cousin, Jason Little

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Songs Of The Week, 2018: 10/27-11/2

Abandoned Luncheonette- Hall & Oates
You Gotta Move- Rolling Stones
Then She Said My Name- The Black Crowes
Everything's Coming Up Roses- The Replacements
Spooky- The Grays
She's Crafty- The Beastie Boys
Useless Information- The Move


Abandoned Luncheonette- Hall & Oates
Had one of those conversations about H&O, you know, the one where someone thinks it all began with "Maneater." I had to point them to this amazing record.

You Gotta Move- Rolling Stones
This was an earworm for an entire day. I kept singing, "Ya gah-ta MOOOOOVE!" I couldn't stop. I needed to get it out of my system and into yours. You're welcome.

Then She Said My Name- The Black Crowes
Felt like hearing it.

Everything's Coming Up Roses- The Replacements
An inspired cover from the 'Mats. Not sure why I thought about it.

Spooky- The Grays
I believe I posted this as Song Of The Day on Halloween. I was originally going for the Classic IV, but decided this would be cooler.

She's Crafty- Beastie Boys
I went on a mini-marathon of Beasties after reading the NYT article.

Useless Information- The Move
Sold a trio of Move records, so of course, I needed to listen.

Friday, November 2, 2018

"Queen For A Day": THE WEEKEND MIX

Here ya go! 78 minutes of mostly deep cuts from Queen. I purposely stayed away from hits, and of the four hits that are included here, two are unique versions and two, well, I wanted them here. I've also included an exclusive remix of "Don't Stop Me Now," created by my friend Geoff Hoover. Remixes often destroy the heart of the song being remixed, but Geoff Hoover created some magic and really kept the soul of the tune. I love it. When I told him that, he replied, "I was strengthened by my inability to add crap to it." I like that quote almost as much as I like his remix. I also got my old friend and Pep In The Cat band mate, Carl Mealha involved. The photos here were taken by Carl at NYC's Uris Theatre, when Queen warmed-up for Mott The Hoople, and from the Beacon Theatre when the Cate Brothers opened for Queen.

Hope y'all enjoy at least some of this music. I imagine the diehards know it all, and may not bother to listen, and those that already know they don't like the band, may not bother to listen, so this is for the rest of you in the middle.

We Will Rock You (Fast)
Death On Two Legs
Sleeping On The Sidewalk
You Take My Breath Away
Hammer To Fall
She Makes Me
Play The Game
The Millionaire Waltz
Good Company
Long Away
Coming Soon
My Melancholy Blues
The Show Must Go On
It's Late
Don't Stop Me Now (Hoover Remix)
The March Of The Black Queen
Funny How Love Is
Seven Seas Of Rhye
Somebody To Love