Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jefferson Starship: “Live In Central Park NYC May 12, 1975” (2013) CD Review

Jefferson Airplane was a vital part of that great mid-1960s music scene in San Francisco, a scene that included the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother. Those bands often played at Golden Gate Park, usually for free, and in other parks around the country. The name change from Jefferson Airplane to Jefferson Starship (along with some personnel changes) did not mean an end to those concerts in the park.

On May 12, 1975, Jefferson Starship did a free show in Central Park in New York. Live In Central Park NYC May 12, 1975, the new two-disc set, captures that show in all its loud and wild glory. This band, though its name had changed, was still going very strong at this point. In fact, this was the same year they released that excellent album Red Octopus.

I love that this set includes the stage banter and tuning between songs. At the beginning of the first track, Grace Slick asks, “Can you hear back there?” And they kick in with a high-energy, deliciously loud and pounding version of “Ride The Tiger,” from Jefferson Starship’s first album, Dragon Fly (1974). Check out that great guitar work.

There’s some more stage banter at the beginning of the second track, including a warning to the folks in the trees. They then go into “Fast Buck Freddie,” from Red Octopus (an album that was released soon after this concert). And Grace belts out the lyrics, rising to some heights.

Marty Balin’s “The Witcher” has an intense, joyous sound. This is a band that was having fun. “Oh baby, I’ve been tattooed on you.”

More stage announcements begin the fourth track, again asking the folks to get out of the trees, and introducing Papa John Creach on violin. This is a nice, meaty version of “Devil’s Den,” with a wild bass solo. The first disc ends with “Papa John’s Down Home Blues,” a song written by Papa John Creach and featuring some wonderful stuff by him on violin. This is glorious blues rock.

The second disc opens with “Play On Love,” the song which opens side two of 1975’s Red Octopus. It’s kind of a sweet pop tune. Grace Slick then gets all bluesy with the piano-driven “Better Lying Down,” a song featured on her solo album, Manhole. Grace sings, “Go ahead and go down on somebody now/Go down on your neighbor/Go down on your friends/Go down on your relatives/No, don’t go down on your relatives.” That’s Pete Sears on piano. He also co-wrote this tune.

Before “Come To Life,” Grace Slick says they need to tune. Then: “It doesn’t make much difference, but we do it anyway.” I love that. “Come To Life” was co-written by Robert Hunter, one of the two chief lyricists for the Grateful Dead.

They do a few classic Airplane tunes, including “White Rabbit,” which has a great extended instrumental intro. The longest and craziest jam of the show, however, is “Sweeter Than Honey,” a tune from Red Octopus. It includes a manic drum solo.

They end the set with two classic Airplane songs – “Somebody To Love” and “Volunteers.” They stretch out a bit on these tunes, jamming on “Somebody To Love.” “Volunteers” was always one of my favorites, and this rendition has the right amount of energy. It’s also helped by Papa John’s presence on violin. The last several seconds of the song are from an inferior sound source, which is a shame. But it’s great to have this show at all.

CD Track List

Disc One

  1. Intro/Ride The Tiger
  2. Stage Announcements/Fast Buck Freddie
  3. The Witcher
  4. Stage Announcements/Devil’s Den
  5. Caroline
  6. Drivin’ Me Crazy
  7. Papa John’s Down Home Blues 

Disc Two

  1. Play On Love
  2. Better Lying Down
  3. Have You Seen The Saucers
  4. Come To Life
  5. White Rabbit
  6. Stage Announcements
  7. Sweeter Than Honey
  8. Somebody To Love
  9. Volunteers

Jefferson Starship at the time of this concert was Marty Balin, John Barbata, Craig Chaquico, Papa John Creach, David Freiberg, Paul Kantner, Pete Sears and Grace Slick.

Live In Central Park NYC May 12, 1975 was released on September 3, 2013 through Real Gone Music.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Murdergram at Three Clubs: More Photos

Yesterday I posted a review of the Murdergram concert they did on October 24th at Three Clubs in Hollywood. I included several photos. But of course I took a lot more than what has been posted so far. So today I thought I'd post just a few more. I hope you dig them. And if you live in the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend you check out this band (and all of Holland Greco's other projects, for that matter).

Murdergram performing "Rumble"
"American Nightmare"
"American Nightmare"
"Batman Theme"
"Only Up From Here"

Friday, October 25, 2013

Murdergram Performs at Three Clubs, 10-24-13

Murdergram performing "Hollywood Babylon"

As everyone knows by now, Halloween is the best holiday (St. Patrick’s Day is a close second). One of the many great things about this holiday is that Murdergram gets together to do a few shows in the days leading up to Halloween. Murdergram is a special project started by Holland Greco as a sort of Halloween celebration. The band does (almost exclusively) Misfits covers. And it’s fucking awesome. They did a few shows last October, and they’ve reunited for a couple of shows this year.

The first was Thursday night at Three Clubs in Hollywood. I hadn’t been to that venue since they stopped doing ‘80s nights on Fridays, but it’s actually a cool venue for live music, as there are tables around the edge, raised a few steps from the floor, and the sound was pretty decent. Holland, as always, looked fantastic made up for Halloween. The guys all sported these creepy clear masks (at least for a good portion of the set).

They kicked off their set with "Rumble," a great instrumental number, the perfect way to get things cooking, with Holland on an electric ukulele. From there they did “Halloween Babylon” and then “Halloween,” with Joey Ninja playing his bass with a bow. Holland moved to the keyboard for a slow and very sexy rendition of “American Nightmare.”

Holland moved back to the electric ukulele for “Die, Die My Darling,” and introduced the band at the beginning of the song. There was some really nice stuff from Clark Dark on guitar. And then during “Batman Theme,” Princess Frank was glorious on the drums, really working that tom.

“Attitude” and the always-fun “Vampira” rounded out the set of Misfits tunes. And then, as a surprise, they did a couple of Holland’s original songs – “Only Up From Here” and “Flashback.” Interestingly, Holland didn’t play ukulele for those two tunes. Before “Flashback,” Holland said, “I hope you’re all in the Halloween spirit, and you’ll stay and have some Halloween spirits.” “Flashback” featured some more great stuff from Clark on guitar.

Set List
  1. Rumble
  2. Hollywood Babylon
  3. Halloween
  4. American Nightmare
  5. Die, Die My Darling
  6. Batman Theme
  7. Attitude
  8. Vampira
  9. Only Up From Here
  10. Flashback
The next Murdergram show is Sunday at The Thirsty Crow in Silverlake.


"American Nightmare"
"American Nightmare"
"Die, Die My Darling"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Megan Jacobs CD Release Party at The Last Bookstore, 10-22-13

Megan Jacobs performing "Losing My Mind"

A decade ago I attended some of the best concerts of my life. I still think about those nights, and whenever I run into someone else who was there, the conversation will always turn fondly to that great band from Highland Park, The Peak Show. For the last year or so of the band’s existence, Megan Jacobs was the keyboardist and backing vocalist. And she was awesome.

Somehow in the intervening years she’s gotten even better. On October 22nd she played songs from her new CD, Moving On, at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles, and this is the best material she’s ever written. She had five other musicians accompanying her for this show, including Dan Ubick, who produced the album and co-wrote the material. She performed the entire album, though not in the order the songs are presented on the CD.

She opened with “Something To Believe In” and then went into the CD’s title track, “Movin’ On.” She told the audience to interpret it “as you will.” After the song, she said, “That was definitely inspired by Mike The Poet,” who performed two of his poems before Megan’s set.

About “Losing My Mind,” Megan said she wrote it on the 405 freeway while missing a flight to San Francisco. That of course got a big understanding laugh from this Los Angeles crowd. “Losing My Mind” is an excellent song.

Though I think my two favorites – if I were forced to choose – would be “Life Goes On,” which has a great early R&B feel, and “Under The Covers,” which is a gorgeous and completely moving song.

By the way, The Last Bookstore is a very cool store. I bought a couple of Shakespeare books (for only five dollars each) for myself and a copy of Lawrence Durrell’s Justine (which was only three dollars) for a friend. The people who work there were all incredibly friendly.

Set List

  1. Something To Believe In
  2. Movin’ On
  3. Losing My Mind
  4. Don’t Get Me Wrong
  5. Life Goes On
  6. No Hiding
  7. Don’t Think Twice
  8. Under The Covers
  9. Unconditional Love

Moving On is now available on CD. 

"Movin' On"
"Losing My Mind"

"No Hiding"

"Unconditional Love"
Megan Jacobs introducing "Unconditional Love"

The Paley Brothers: “The Complete Recordings” (2013) CD Review

I admit it – I had not heard of The Paley Brothers before listening to this new CD. And that’s a shame, because a lot of this music is really good. These tracks boast lots of bright pop sounds, lots of innocence. Remember innocence? Well, this collection will trick you into thinking you do. Also keep in mind that these guys played with Jonathan Richman. And The Ramones play on one of these tracks. So don’t be quick to dismiss this band.

The Paley Brothers released an EP and one full-length record on Sire before moving on to other projects. Of these twenty-six tracks, eleven were previously unreleased. So it’s not like there was a lot of material circulating. Still, it seems wrong that these tunes weren’t more widely known. Well, now with the release of The Complete Recordings they have another chance.

“Here Comes My Baby”

The collection opens with “Here Comes My Baby,” which is glorious, feel-good pop with a certain 1960s vibe (though it was recorded in 1979). There is a bit of an early Beatles thing around the two-minute mark. This track was previously unreleased.

“She’s Eighteen Tonight” also has a bit of an early Beatles feel at times.

“Meet The Invisible Man”

“Meet The Invisible Man” is one of my favorites, and it’s another that was previously unreleased. It’s unabashed pop, but the sound on the title line is bloody great, and is enough to drive the entire song. This is also from 1979, but sounds like it was recorded earlier. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “You look through me like I’m not there/Which shows about how much you care/No matter what I do or say/You never notice anyway.”

“Too Good To Be True”

“Too Good To Be True” asks that eternal question: “I gave you my heart – how could you break it?” Also: “How could you be so cruel?/How could I be such a fool?” How many of us can honestly say we’ve never asked these questions? But how many of us have wrapped them in a fun pop tune?


“Boomerang” is a good ruck tune that certainly has a groovy Beach Boys thing going on. Well, hey, Brian Wilson provides backing vocals on this track. This is one of the collection’s highlights, and shockingly it was previously unreleased.

“Rendezvous” also has something of a Beach Boys sound.

“Jacques Cousteau (The Young Jacques)”

Probably the oddest tune in this collection is “Jacques Cousteau (The Young Jacques).” And yeah, it’s fun. Check out these lines: “He shoots little fishes just for fun/But only with a camera, not a gun/’Cause he’s Jacques, Jacques, Jacques Cousteau/How low can you go?” Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes and David Robinson (members of The Cars) appear on this track. It was recorded in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Live Tracks

There are two live tracks in this collection, both recorded at Madison Square Garden when The Paley Brothers opened for Shaun Cassidy, both previously unreleased, and both sporting women’s names as titles. The first, “Felicia,” is a cool (and very short) rock tune. The second, “Sheila,” is a fun rendition of that classic tune written by Tommy Roe (a song that sounds very much like Buddy Holly).

The Ramones

The Paley Brothers and The Ramones join forces to tackle the Ritchie Valens classic, “Come On Let’s Go.” And the results are excellent. This is one of the best renditions of this song ever recorded. And yes, you’ve heard it. It was featured in the film Rock ‘N’ Roll High School.

The Paley Brothers also do a wonderful cover of “I Heard The Bluebirds Sing,” and a very cool cover of “Down The Line.”

Another interesting choice of covers is “Theme From Fireball XL-5.” I never saw that show, but this song is delightful. Check out these lyrics: “I’m so lonely out in space/I long to feel your touch/A million miles from your embrace/Is a million miles too much.”

CD Track List

  1. Here Comes My Baby
  2. Meet The Invisible Man
  3. Too Good To Be True
  4. Boomerang
  5. Felicia
  6. Come Out And Play
  7. She’s Eighteen Tonight
  8. Running In The Rain
  9. Sapphire Eyes
  10. Come On Let’s Go
  11. I heard The Bluebirds Sing
  12. Down The Line
  13. Sheila
  14. You’re The Best
  15. Stick With Me Baby
  16. Hide & Seek
  17. Lovin’ Eyes Can’t Lie
  18. Spring Fever
  19. Rendezvous
  20. Jacques Cousteau (The Young Jacques)
  21. Tell Me Tonight
  22. Magic Power
  23. Turn The Tide
  24. Ecstasy
  25. Theme From Fireball XL-5
  26. Baby, Let’s Stick Together

The Complete Recordings was released on September 3, 2013 through Real Gone Music.