Monday, July 13, 2020

More Ringo

There's a new Ray Wylie Hubbard record. It's called "Co-Starring" and it features, among others, guest appearances by Pam Tillis, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Larkin Poe and on the opening track "Bad Trick," Joe Walsh on guitar, Don Was on bass, Chris Robinson on vocals and Ringo Starr on drums.

"Co-Starring" is a typically wonderful Hubbard affair with songs running the gamut from heartbreak to hilarity. "I'm gonna drink till I see double and then I'm taking one of you home," for example. Or, the stunningly beautiful closer "The Messenger" where RWH states, "I am not looking for loose diamonds, or pretty girls with crosses around their necks, I don't want Four Roses and water, I'm not looking for God, I just want to see what's next."

But it's the title track that kills me, maybe for an obvious reason. "Bad Trick" is a burner, and I'll give the credit to Mr. Starkey. This video absolutely tickled me. Try to ignore Don Was and enjoy Ringo being all "Ringoey," as my pal Peter put it. Ringo doesn't like playing drums alone these days. Even on his All-Starr tours, he plays along while the main drummer Greg Bissonette does all the hard work. But on "Bad Trick" it's all Richie, sounding very "White Album" with his groove and fills.

Last week  I mentioned a TV special being aired on AXS-TV, celebrating the Beatle's 80th birthday. It was a mostly fun affair, with new video contributions from Sheila E. with Ringo on drums turning in a solid "Come Together," Joe Walsh doing a DIY version of "Boys," and Sheryl Crow pulling a Roy Wood, playing a half dozen or so instruments including a cello for a fine take of "All You Need is Love." Friends and family from Edgar Winter and Mick Fleetwood to a whole lotta little Starkeys sent birthday greetings and Ringo played host from behind his kit, airing video clips of his All-Starr Band, as well as a new video for his single "Give More Love" that featured vocal contributions from an endless roster of rockers, including Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne and more. Sir Paul was a no-show, which was both a surprise and a disappointment, and instead the show closed with a clip from a few years ago of Paul and Ringo doing "Helter Skelter" from one of Macca's live shows.

Somehow, Peter Frampton's lovely take of "It Don't Come Easy" did not make the final cut. Thanks to hpunch for finding this one and sending it off to me.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Songs Of The Week, 2020: 7/4-7/10

Watermelon Man- Buddy Guy
Mini-Skirt Minnie- Wilson Pickett
China Girl- Iggy Pop
This Boy- The Beatles
Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight- The Fireman
Silly Love- 10cc
Like It Or Not- The Turtles


Watermelon Man- Buddy Guy
This was almost last Saturday's cover version, but I liked the idea of opening up the SOTW with it.

Mini-Skirt Minnie- Wilson Pickett
Not one of The Wicked Pickett's biggest hits, peaking at only #50 on the Billboard chart, but definitely one of my favorites.

China Girl- Iggy Pop
Fell into an Iggy, Bowie, Berlin, Kraftwerk hole last week after reading Mojo's review of the new Iggy/Bowie boxed set. I think I listened to 'The Idiot" twice in a day. I think Ig's original "China Girl" kicks Bowie's ass.

This Boy- The Beatles
It was Ringo's 80th, so...this...boy.

Nothing Too Much Out Of Sight- The Fireman
Paul McCartney doing business as The Fireman. "Electric Arguments" is worth your time if you are unfamiliar with it. It's uneven, like most experiments. But it's never boring, at least not to these ears.

Silly Love- 10cc
I had considered a 10cc week, five days of trying to spread the word about four musical geniuses who might only be remembered for two or three hits. Still considering it, but until then...

Like It Or Not- The Turtles
A track from the unfinished/never released swansong by The Turtles, "Shell Shock," this track was produced by Jerry Yester and can now be found as a bonus track on the Ray Davies produced "Turtle Soup." All of the "Shell Shock" tracks can be found elsewhere, so not sure why it wasn't a separate release in the reissue campaign. Oh, I know why...because they never get it right!

Friday, July 10, 2020

"M": The Weekend Mix

Manifesto- Roxy Music
Madison Time Pt. 1- Ray Bryant
My Whole World Ended- David Ruffin
Madness- Prince Buster
Maggie's Farm- Linda Gayle
Mickey Mouse Boarding House- Walter "Wolfman" Washington
Man Attack- The Revillos
Malibu- Hole
Mandocello- Cheap Trick
Mona Lisa- Moon Mullican
Man Comes Around- Johnny Cash
Man Of The Wolrd- Fleetwood Mac
Melancholia- The Who
Mr. Wilson- John Cale
Me & Magdalena (Version 2)- The Monkees
Mixed-Up, Shook-Up Girl- Patti & The Emblems
Mary- Robert Fripp
Matilda Mother- Pink Floyd
Metal Firecracker- Lucinda Williams
Mindless Child Of Motherhood- The Kinks
My Girl The Month Of May- Dion & The Belmonts
Mississippi- Bob Dylan
Moody's Mood For Love- King Pleasure


And a new Elvis Costello song....

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Road Trip!

Okay ladies and germs, I am on the road, driving south through plutonium, to pick up some records. I'm loaded up with face shields, hand sanitizer, some Fig Newtons and my trusted copy of Kitty Kelly's "His Way: The Unauthorized Biography Of Frank Sinatra." 

Wish me luck!

All you vinyl freaks, be sure to click on the link over to your right to see the new loot for sale. 

And don't worry, I've got your letter "M" weekend mix ready to go. 

Enjoy your Thursday and please, do the math, wear your masks and stop being vain, selfish, greedy pricks. 


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

This Boy Is 80

My first drum kit was a bass drum, a snare and a ride cymbal, set up in the corner of my mother's bedroom in a two bedroom apartment that was shared by a set of grandparents, along with my aunt and uncle. No one cared if I played. It was encouraged at all times.

I'd play along to "No Reply" from "Beatles '65" and "I'll Get You" from "The Beatles Second Album." I can still see those two album covers in living color lying on my mother's bed, as I hammered away, completely drowning out the man I was trying to emulate.

One Friday evening, my mother had some friends over. Maybe six people, at most. I was in the bedroom listening to The Beatles and one of my mother's friends asked if I would play the drums for them. I was terrified. She said, each of them would give me a dollar. It would have been my first paying gig, and $6 to a kid in the 60's was definitely something to shake a stick at...but I refused. $6 bought two LPs back then, but I still couldn't do it. She closed the door and I continued smacking away at "No Reply," albeit a bit more quietly and self-consciously.

Today, Ringo Starr is 80 years old. Every July 7th since 2008, Ringo has asked for a world celebration by requesting that everyone says or thinks "peace & love" at noon. That seems easy enough. Every July 7th, I think of that night in my mother's bedroom, holding out for more money, and refusing to play along to my hero in front of a measley crowd of six.

Almost 60 years later and The Beatles remain in heavy rotation, never sounding anything but fresh and exciting. Timeless, as the cliche goes. It's hard to believe the two living moptops, Paul and Ringo, are 77 and 80, respectively. Seems impossible, really.

Tonight, check your local cable provider, if you happen to be a fan, for an 80th birthday celebration on AXS-TV, beginning at 8PM, E.S.T., and starring the man of honor, Ringo Starr, with a little help from his friends, Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh and a few others that don't really add up, like Jackson Browne and Ben Harper.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Starkey.
Thanks for everything!


Monday, July 6, 2020

For The Record #4: Rolling Stones Half-Speed Masters

In June of 2018, the Rolling Stones released a gargantuan boxed set with the somewhat clumsy title, "Studio Albums Vinyl Collection 1971-2016." Here's what "they" said about it:

‘The Studio Albums Vinyl Collection 1971-2016’ presents this monumental era in rock’n’roll history in a highly bespoke, lenticular mounted, limited edition box-set housing the 15 studio albums from Sticky Fingers through to Blue & Lonesome in faithful and intricate original packaging replications. Every album has been lovingly remastered and cut at revelatory half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, from vinyl specific original tape transfers designed to get the very best possibly sound from the format. Each album is pressed on heavyweight 180-gram black vinyl and includes a download card for HD digital redemption of the catalogue and includes a numbered certificate of authentication.

Cut at half speed, these are among the highest quality vinyl pressings that these classic Rolling Stones albums will have ever received. Half speed mastering and pressed to a very high standard ensures top notch sound quality for the listener.

Special care has been taken to create packaging to the same high standards, with detailed artwork reproduction for each album including ‘Some Girls’, which comes housed in the replica design including 20 cut-outs on the cover, while the sleeve of ‘Sticky Fingers’ is presented as Andy Warhol’s original design, complete with a working zip with a hidden image underneath and ‘Exile On Main Street’ comes with a set of 12 original postcard inserts."

I might have fallen hook, line and idiot for it, had the retail price not been the equivalent of a Shetland pony. And though I have gone on the record a number of times, expressing my displeasure with most of the band's output post "Steel Wheels," as both a record collector and fan of the Stones, there was something appealing about finally owning nice, shiny vinyl copies of the heretofore impossible to find later titles like "Bridges To Babylon" and "A Bigger Bang," not to mention the sonic upgrade of the earlier essentials from "Sticky Fingers" through "Some Girls."

Still, I showed great restraint and passed on the box, assuming, in typical label fashion, that once all the shnooks shelled out for this monster, the powers that be would release the titles individually, at a much more affordable price, thus relieving the cheapskates from having to purchase the unwanted titles.

CUT TO: July, 2020

The Rolling Stones have just released all of the half-speed masters from the boxed set, most of which retail for a little under $20, with double LPs, fetching somewhere in the $35 range.

What'd I tell ya?

I took a dive and grabbed two of my favorite Stones albums, the criminally underrated "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll" and "Black and Blue," as well as "Bridges To Babylon," a record that quite honestly, I remembered exactly two things about---k.d. lang had something to do with it and I loved the sound of "Might As Well Get Juiced." I figured, let's test the half-speed mastering on two albums that could use an upgrade, and get an album that might as well be a new Stones record to my ears.


I took "Bridges To Babylon" out for a spin first and this sucker blew me away. It truly is one of the most perfect sounding records I have heard. Crisp, full of body, a real powerhouse of sound. Honestly, when Side Four was over, I was in love with "Bridges To Babylon." Was this record always this good? Have I convinced myself that this record was this good because I loved the sound and package? Whatever! Mission accomplished, Interscope Records.

Next up, "Black And Blue." I carefully slice through the shrinkwrap and pull out a...LYRIC SHEET? Where is my faithfully replicated inner with the studio tracking information? A lyric sheet? Did I need to read, "Melody, it was her second name" over and over and over? This is not good. No, no.
Still, it's open. Might as well give it a spin.

Nice! That opening snare smack of "Hot Stuff" and I was sold. The record sounds better than ever. But, replacing the original inner in a package that boasts "faithfully replicated artwork" with artwork that never existed is a crime. Why not replace "Hey Negrita" with...well...anything?

Still at this point, I am so chuffed with the sonics, I jump for another $18 and get "Some Girls" before I bother to unwrap "IORR." As I wait for "Some Girls" to arrive, it's time to visit "IORR." Slice, open, BOOM. Original hard custom inner, just like I pictured it, and the record sounds fantastic. I guess these geniuses over at Abbey Road know what they're doing, though it is a bit odd that nowhere on any of these three records does it say "Abbey Road Studios." The hype stickers all simply say, "Half Speed Mastered." Abbey Road info is in the deadwax.

CUT TO: A few days later.

In short, "Some Girls" sounds like crap. What the hell happened? The life has been sucked out of this amazing record. It's been cleaned up, vacuumed of all its essential filth and fury. And the damn cover has NOT been "faithfully replicated." It's not diecut. It's flat, like the sound. I've gone from chuffed to crushed in less than 72 hours.

Could it be that only the LPs found in the box were faithfully replicated? I guess that's possible. But these individual titles are not being sold as "budget" reissues, so it seems a bit careless to roll out a new project by a brand as huge as Jagger/Richards with such inconsistency. Though, they did allow Don Was to make "Blue & Lonesome" sound like Whitesnake. speaking of careless.

With 11 titles to go, I decide to abandon this whole project. It's not worth my time, and especially not worth spending what is likely my 300th dollar on yet another version of "Exile On Main Street" since 1972, for what should more accurately be boasting "Half-Assed" reissues as opposed to "Half-Speed" masters.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Good news?

I no longer hate "Bridges To Babylon."

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Songs Of The Week, 2020: 6/27-7/3

Ordinary Girl- Mike & The Mechanics
No Religion- Van Morrison
Me Just Purely- Brendan Benson
Call Me Mellow- Tears For Fears
Growing Up (Trent Reznor Remix)- Peter Gabriel
Meteor Shower- Rhett Miller
Another World- World Party

Ordinary Girl- Mike & The Mechanic
There is a fantastic 3 CD or 2 LP set covering Paul Carrack's career with everyone from Ace and Squeeze to Mike & The Mechanics and various side projects and guests spot. It's called "Collected,"and amazingly this wonderful single is not on it. FAIL!

No Religion- Van Morrison
I would not be lying if I said "No Religion" is one of my five favorite Van tracks. It is also on one of five Van records nearly impossible to track down on vinyl for less than $100. Anyone have a vinyl copy of "Days Like This" they'd like to give up? Let me know. I'll pay shipping. :)

Me Just Purely- Brendan Benson
Benson's excellent new record "Dear Life" inspired me to go back and listen to his excellent debut, "One Mississippi." That's where you'll find this song.

Call Me Mellow- Tears For Fears
And speaking of favorite albums, TFF's "Everybody Loves A Happy Ending" is mine, by them. (Is that good English? Not sure, me.) But yes, this "comeback" was solid from head to tail, and this pop gem is a perfect three and a half minutes. Someone find me the vinyl on this baby! I'll pay shipping. :)

Growing Up (Trent Reznor Remix)- Peter Gabriel
About as close as you'll get to a Gabriel/Nine Inch Nails collaboration. Just discovered this on a digital only set of Gabriel stray tracks called "Flotsam & Jetsam," but it has been floating around on a single since 2003.

Meteor Shower- Rhett Miller
"I cannot make light I'm so burnt out, I know where you are, I cannot believe how much it hurts, I'm a fallen star" Damn, Rhett! I'm sorry. But wow, what a track.

Another World- World Party
Found deep into the 5 CD World Party rarities set, "Arkeology," this is currently my new favorite Karl Wallinger tune.