Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Tubes: "Young And Rich/Now" (2012 re-issue) CD Review

Two early albums by The Tubes - Young And Rich (1976) and Now (1977) - are being issued as a double CD set. It's a joy to hear these albums, which have been out of print for quite a while. This material is much more interesting than that huge hit, "She's A Beauty," the song the band is most known for. Nothing against "She's A Beauty," of course - I always dug that song - but it's more standard fare compared to the songs on these albums.

Listening to these CDs, I understand better why the Grateful Dead chose Tubes keyboardist Vince Welnick as Brent Mydland's replacement in 1990. The Tubes were no run-of-the-mill pop band. This was a band that was fearless, that attempted to get Out There, and to go for it every time. And simultaneously didn't take itself too seriously. You can hear that attitude clearly in every track. Part punk, part rock, park theatrics. If you're into Frank Zappa, you're going to dig these CDs. If you're not into Frank Zappa, what the hell is wrong with you?

"Tubes World Tour"

Young And Rich opens with "Tubes World Tour." And what a strange song to open with, a song in which they sing their own band name in the line, "The Tubes world tour/A mighty important crusade." Ha! Indeed. And then, "We'll be leaving as soon as we're paid." This song has elements of Bowie and Zappa, as there is something theatrical and funky about it, particularly in the instrumental section. But it's also undeniable rock and roll, and is a lot of fun. Man, these guys must have put on a phenomenal show. I wish I could have seen them back in the seventies.

"Brighter Day"

"Brighter Day" starts with the entreaty, "Come on, baby, I'm in love with you." And the second time that line comes around, there's a wonderful little backing vocal bit in response. And that is the moment that made me fall for this song. This song features a cool groove. You just have to immerse yourself in this band's world, in their sound, in their reality. Surrender, and smile. And the funky instrumental section as it fades out must have had an influence on Phish, particularly on bassist Mike Gordon.


"Pimp" starts off sounding like the city streets at night, where something funky is about to go down. Right away it places you in the realm of the pimp, in his hands. He sings, "We'll use my car, and my brain, and your my oh my oh my oh my/You won't feel nothing, baby/You'll be real high with those bloodshot eyes/See those twenty dollar thighs." Oh yes, this band could make whores of us all. "Can't you control your bitches."

(This is another song that seems to have had an influence on Phish - you'll hear it in the instrumental section approximately two minutes in.)

"Stand Up And Shout"

"Stand Up And Shout" is a David Bowie-like rock and roll number with some damn fine work by Vince Welnick on keys. Here's a taste of the lyrics: "And just because somewhere along you started feeling wrong/And it had been too long since you opened your mouth/Then you get to wondering why it took so long to find/There's just one thing you can't do without/You'd better stand up and shout."

As it goes on, after the false ending, it seems sillier, going from Bowie to Spinal Tap (though it's in that section that there is a reference to "All The Young Dudes," which was written by David Bowie).

"Don't Touch Me There"

"Don't Touch Me There" is an delightfully odd duet that seems like something from The Rocky Horror Show, or something Meatloaf might do, as it parodies those early 1960s girl groups. And it's fucking hilarious. Re Styles sings, "Unzip that jacket/That leather smells so sweet/Put your chest against mine/Feel my heart beat." And then Fee Waybill replies, "I love the way your belt fits/The way it hangs so low/So low on your hips, my darling/I want you so." They sing together, "The smell of burning leather as we hold each other tight." But then she stops him: "Don't touch me there/Please, don't/Oh no, not there/Anywhere but there."

"Slipped My Disco"

"Slipped My Disco" is a disco song about hurting oneself on the dance floor (slipped disc, get it?). Apparently, Bill Spooner actually threw a disc while on the dance floor, and that's how this song came about. "I slipped my disco when I was dancing with you, baby." As for placing the blame, "Maybe it's my technique, or is it my shoes?" Blame the shoes. Definitely the shoes. So please, be careful when dancing around to this song. Perhaps go barefoot. I love the crazy instrumental section at the end.

"Slipped My Disco" goes right into "Proud To Be An American," a goofy rockabilly tune. Don't worry, it's not that "God Bless The U.S.A." proud-to-be-an-American garbage done by Lee Greenwood, which has my vote for the worst song ever recorded. This one is a playful tune, which lists all of the wonderful elements of this country, and yes, it's very funny (it rhymes "the constitution" with "land, sea and air pollution"). This album was released the year of the bicentennial of the United States.

I can't help but wonder what this album would do to me if I were on mushrooms. If anyone takes that plunge, please let me know the results.

"Smoke (La Vie En Fumer)"

The second album, Now, isn't quite as fantastic as Young And Rich, but is still good and worth listening to.

It opens with "Smoke (La Vie En Fumer)," a strange funky dance tune about night life and smoke, the social constructs surrounding smoking. This song is humorous, with lines like "Satisfy that urge for fun/Then brush your teeth and grab a taxi home" and "I just found out the other day it's a drag," a line that made me laugh. "The whole world is smoking/I can't stop choking." This song has a reference to The Byrds: "I'm eight miles high" (so maybe not about tobacco after all?). It also has some nice percussion.

"Strung Out On Strings"

"Strung Out On Strings" is a song about a guitar enthusiast, who as a boy chose guitars over girls and baseball. It begins like a bizarre theatrical confession: "No one made me do those things I've done/I did it 'cause it seemed like fun." But when it kicks in, oh boy!

This song seems to effortlessly drift into several musical genres (even with a little "Baba O'Riley" nod on guitar). And sure, there are lots of love songs to guitars, but this one certainly has its own feel. Is guitar-playing an addiction one really wants to kick? I don't think so. Yet this song finds him hoping his prospective, hypothetical son won't follow in his footsteps. "Strung Out On Strings" has a false ending.


"God-Bird-Change" is an instrumental track, and a fun tune, like if the Phantom of the Opera went on a weekend bender and created a carnival ride. "God-Bird-Change" was written by Mingo Lewis, who had recently joined the band as its second percussionist, and there is a great percussion section in this song. Be ready to dance when this track comes on. And if you listen on headphones, there will be a jolt or two.

"Cathy's Clone"

"Cathy's Clone" is a crazy, jazzy tune with some nice work on drums by Prairie Prince. And that's Captain Beefheart on alto sax. Re Styles does lead vocals on this track, singing "Let me introduce myself/I'm not Cathy/I'm Cathy's clone." Oh yes, science has gone mad, and these are the glorious results. Onward!

"Pound Of Flesh"

Despite its title, this song has nothing to do with Shylock and Antonio. The pound these guys are singing about is nothing Shylock thought about taking. But his daughter Jessica might have been interested in it. This rock tune is about a "ninety pound weakling with a pound of flesh." He sings, "I'm a lover, not a fighter/Won't you spend a one-nighter/With my pound of flesh."

CD Track List

CD One: Young And Rich
  1. Tubes World Tour
  2. Brighter Day
  3. Pimp
  4. Stand Up And Shout
  5. Don't Touch Me There
  6. Slipped My Disco
  7. Proud To Be An American
  8. Poland Whole/Madam I'm Adam
  9. Young And Rich
CD Two: Now
  1. Smoke (La Vie En Fumer)
  2. Hit Parade
  3. Strung Out On Strings
  4. Golden Boy
  5. My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains
  6. God-Bird-Change
  7. I'm Just A Mess
  8. Cathy's Clone
  9. This Town
  10. Pound Of Flesh
  11. You're No Fun

The Tubes are Bill Spooner on vocals and guitar, Fee Waybill on vocals, Michael Cotton on synthesizers, Prairie Prince on drums, Vince Welnick on keyboards and synthesizer, Rick Anderson on bass and vocals, Roger Steen on guitar and vocals, Re Styles on vocals, and Mingo Lewis on percussion (Lewis appears only on Now).

This special re-issue of Young And Rich/Now is scheduled to be released on March 27, 2012 through Real Gone Music. By the way, I love the pink and lime green CDs.

Chelle Rose: "Ghost Of Browder Holler" (2012) CD Review

When you pop in Chelle Rose's new CD, Ghost Of Browder Holler, the first thing that will hit you is her voice. At times she sounds like a female Mick Jagger, when the Stones were in their excellent country rock period, the way she deliberately stretches a vowel out. It's a sort of affected twang, that Jagger did so well. She also reminds me a bit of Marshall Chapman, the way her voice creates such a vivid picture, a living world. There is also some of the roughness of Tom Waits in the arrangements and delivery.

That being said, it doesn't feel like she's trying to be anyone but herself. And certainly there's no need for her to copy anyone. Most of the tracks are originals, and Chelle Rose can write a damned good song.

"Browder Holler Boy"

Ghost Of Browder Holler opens with "Browder Holler Boy," a song that is that kind of dirty country folk that I absolutely love. Like folk with an old razor. There is something sexy about it, especially in lines like, "Hold me in my dream/Shake my bed/Turn me upside down/Blood rushes to my head/I feel your touch and I hear you laugh." And suddenly a male voice joins her on the lines, "Did you think that I'd forget you? How could I do that?" I know I won't be forgetting this song anytime soon. And I dig the simple harmonica toward the end.

"Caney Fork Tennessee"

"Caney Fork Tennessee" is a slow, sexy number with some hypnotizing work on guitar. Okay, how is it that she's able to turn me on even when singing about apple pie? "Mama's baking you a big old apple pie/Just the kind you like." Maybe it's the way she nearly whispers "just the kind you like."

"I Need You"

"I Need You" is more in the rock vein. It works, but I prefer her kick-ass brand of folk. Interestingly, her folk has more of an edge than her heavier rock-oriented tunes.

"I Need You" is one of only two tracks not written by Chelle Rose. Julie Miller wrote this one, which opens with the lines "I need something like morphine, only better/I need something like a kiss that lasts forever." (Julie Miller's version was included on her album Broken Things.)

"Weepin' Willow On The Hill"

Chelle Rose does something a bit sweeter with her voice on "Weepin' Willow On The Hill," but still retains that edge. It's a magical combination, helping to make this one of the album's strongest tracks. I just love the sound of this one, particularly the mandolin played by Brad Rice. It all sounds so perfect and effortless. And check out these lyrics: "Lay my body in the water/It stings my skin like jagged ice/But it ain't colder than your blue eyes/Scared to death to look in mine." Nice, eh? This is one of my favorite songs of the year so far.

"Leona Barnett"

"Leona Barnett" is another seriously cool song. Chelle Rose sounds tough, like a serpent, which fits the lyrics, "I am as hard as a railroad spike that holds down this track I'm traveling on." And I believe her when she sings, "And I don't know who I trouble more/The mean old devil or the good old lord." This is the other cover on the album, this one written by Adam Hill.


Okay, the "Range Rovers" line caught me by surprise and caused me to laugh out loud - "Then he started acting weird and driving Range Rovers." Ah yes, that certainly spells trouble.

This one is more of a rock tune, about a relationship in which the man is completely non-supportive of the woman's musical ambitions. She sings, "Said this music that I make, it's a waste of time and money." Then later, in a verse about getting a divorce, she sings, "Took me a long time to figure out a plan/When you've got a couple kids, you put up with the man/But it was him or me, and one was going to die."

She then follows that with "If I Could," an earnest love song that opens with the line, "If you were cold I would warm you like a blazing fire."

"Wild Violets Pretty"

Ghost Of Browder Holler ends with "Wild Violets Pretty," which is another of my favorites. Elizabeth Cook performs backing vocals on this one, and their voices sound sublime together. The chorus is, "I'm gonna go where my baby be/Sweet freight train going to carry me/And we'll walk barefoot through the streets of the city/And pick bouquets of wild violets pretty." This song itself is incredibly pretty.

CD Track List
  1. Browder Holler Boy
  2. Caney Fork Tennessee
  3. I Need You
  4. Weepin' Willow On The Hill
  5. Rufus Morgan (Preacher Man)
  6. Leona Barnett
  7. Alimony
  8. If I Could
  9. Rattlesnake In The Road
  10. Damsel
  11. Shady Grove Gonna Blow
  12. Wild Violets Pretty

Musicians on this album include Chelle Rose on vocals and acoustic guitar; Ray Wylie Hubbard on acoustic guitar, percussion, and harmonica; Rick Richards on drums and percussion; George Reiff on bass, ukulele and percussion; Billy Cassis on electric guitar, acoustic guitar, percussion and harmonium; Brad Rice on electric guitar and mandolin; and Ian "Mac" McLagan on organ.

Ghost Of Browder Holler is scheduled to be released on May 1, 2012 on Lil' Damsel Records.

Just one more thought: I'm tempted to put "Rattlesnake In the Road" on a mix CD, and follow it with Phish's "Possum." Any other ideas on songs to follow that theme?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rick Springfield: "Beginnings..." (1972/2012 re-issue) CD Review

Nearly a decade before "Jessie's Girl" (and before his first appearance on General Hospital), Rick Springfield released his debut album, appropriately titled Beginnings...

Having heard little of his pre-"Jessie's Girl" output, this album came as a surprise. First of all, I didn't know he was such an accomplished musician. On this album he plays guitar, banjo, organ, harpsichord and piano. He also wrote all the tracks. Some of these tunes are pretty serious (including a song about suicide). Quite frankly, I never realized Rick Springfield was this talented (though he did write almost all the tracks from Working Class Dog). And no, not every song is great. For example, the final track, a fairly straight rock number titled "The Ballad Of Annie Goodbody," is nothing special. But over all, this album is truly interesting, and boasts some good tunes, some good songwriting.

"Mother Can You Carry Me"

The album opens with "Mother Can You Carry Me," a soft and pretty tune. It begins like a folk song, with acoustic guitar and vocals. But soon the strings come in, adding another dimension to the song. In that section, Rick sings, "When my heart was yours to play with/Though yours was never mine/And when I was there to lay with/Even then you had no time."

But I start to really love the song right after that, when the drums come in. The vocals sound so smooth then. And after that, there is a nice electric guitar section. It's interesting how when each element is added it seems completely natural to the structure of the song. There is a natural flow and progression to this song.

"Speak To The Sky"

"Speak To The Sky" was released as a single, and went to #14 on the Billboard chart. It's a fun, boppy song with a religious theme. These are the opening lines: "Speak to the sky whenever things go wrong/And you'll know you're not talking to the air/To the air/And the world will look better from up there/Speak to the sky because things can get you down/And you'll know when you're talking to the lord/To the lord/The world will look better than before."

Yes, it's a song about prayer, with Rick singing, "I speak to the sky every night." But it's truly fun, and even features a tuba. This song has a bit of a honky tonk thing, with piano and hand-claps. It's easy to see why it was a hit; after all, it's a bit of pop bliss, though its subject comes as a bit of a surprise.

"What Would The Children Think"

"What Would The Children Think" sounds a bit like Paul McCartney. This one tells the story of a middle class woman whose husband is cheating on her. She wants to hold it together for the sake of her children, presumably so that they'll still have an idealistic view of the world. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "What would the children think/Where would the children go/What would the children do/If they knew the way it was." This is not mindless teeny-bopper stuff. "What Would The Children Think" is an earnest song. The strings work to great effect on this one.

"1000 Years"

The chorus to "1000 Years" is totally catching, and I really like the piano, particularly during the chorus. The chorus is: "And in 1000 years I'll still be thinking of you/Though in 1000 years my love will have gone/But in 1000 years we'll probably be together/But right now you're gone."

This is a song of regret, with Rick Springfield singing, "And if I had only looked a little deeper/Each time I saw you weeping/How I wished I'd held you close/Because if I'd only shown my love in so many different ways/Maybe you would've stayed." There is a wonderful prominent string section around the three-minute mark. It's brief, but excellent.

"Hooky Jo"

"Hooky Jo" is a strange pop song about war stopping a relationship. It features banjo and tuba. It's totally catchy. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "And my sergeant said the war is over, son/It doesn't really matter that the north has won/So I packed my bags and I gave back my gun/I turned and headed home with the fighting done." Also, there is whistling and a dog barking at the end. So there.

"I Didn't Mean To Love You"

"I Didn't Mean To Love You" is a slower, groovy tune about a man who finds himself in love, and isn't all that happy about it. He sings, "I didn't mean to love you/I only meant to see how far you'd go/No, I didn't mean to love you/I tried to leave you, but my heart said no, no." It probably doesn't help that the girl is only seventeen years old. This song has a strange power. Rick really throws himself into this one, and it works, this being one of the album's best tracks.

CD Track List
  1. Mother Can You Carry Me
  2. Speak To The Sky
  3. What Would The Children Think
  4. 1000 Years
  5. The Unhappy Ending
  6. Hooky Jo
  7. I Didn't Mean To Love You
  8. Come On Everybody
  9. Why?
  10. The Ballad Of Annie Goodbody
This re-issue of Beginnings... is scheduled to be released on March 27, 2012 through Real Gone Music. It was originally released in 1972 through Capitol Records.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jan Luby: "Nobody's Girl" (2011) CD Review

When it comes to music, there are certain topics that many of my friends are probably quite tired of hearing me carry on about. One of those is the folk music scene in Massachusetts in the late 1980s, early 1990s. There was so much great music at that time, and all of it new. There were also a good number of venues, including The Old Vienna Kaffeehaus, The Nameless Coffeehouse and Passim. Jan Luby was an important part of that scene, and I'd often catch her sets at those venues. Her songs were featured on compilations such as The Old Vienna Tapes Volume I and Acoustic Alliance 2.

And then I lost track of her. She put out an album in 2000 (Tough Like A Weed), and then nothing for more than a decade. But now she's back with a new album and plans to perform. And this is very good news. So what was she doing the past decade? She went the family route, and that's fine, for it provided her with some material for her new CD. (Singing about raising a family isn't completely new for her; she used to perform an excellent song about public breastfeeding called "Product Of The '50s.")

I've always liked Jan Luby's voice, and her style. This is a wonderful batch of songs, and I look forward to seeing her perform them.


Nobody's Girl opens with "Bloom" which boasts a cool rhythm and an even cooler horn. But what I love the most is the line, "You know, I've been wondering, Mommy, if it's painful for a flower when it blooms." This is a song about a mother trying to decide just what to tell her daughter, who is about to bloom herself.

Jan sings, "Some evening she will feel the tug of the moon/And no matter what I say she's going to turn and go/Some things I don't know/Some I don't want to tell her/It's a beautiful big sweet scary world/And you won't always be my little girl." This is a damn good song. By the way, that is Steven Bernstein on trumpet.

"Come Home"

"Come Home" is a sweet and pretty acoustic tune about being true to one's self. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Because I remember who you are even if you've forgotten/But what can I offer/You have to figure it out on your own/It's time to come home/Come home to yourself/No, not home to me/Come home to yourself." And who doesn't at some time need to hear someone say, "You're going to be fine." Kevin Fallon plays mandolin on this track.

"A Roof And Four Walls"

"A Roof And Four Walls" has a nice old European feel, helped by Kevin Fallon's excellent work on violin. This is a song about poverty, sung from the perspective of a person who lived paycheck to paycheck, unable to save, and "Then the clouds rolled in on me/And here it is - my rainy day." This is a person who had a home; she sings, "I once had a life/Now it seems I have nothing at all." There is still pride in her voice, heard in lines like "There's no room at the shelter, but I wouldn't go there anyway." This song also touches on the uncertainty and instability of everyone's situation, the reason why people often look away: "They don't want any reminders they could soon be in our place."

Jan Luby tackles the subject of financial struggles again in "Nothin' To Show" with its repeated line, "How is it that I work like a dog/Still got nothin' to show." And a lot of us can relate to these lines: "Food stamps, they help a little bit/But when I use them I feel ashamed/Even when the cashier says 'Have a nice day.'"

"Newer Bigger Better More"

As you might know, I'm always on the hunt for good Christmas songs. They're hard to find. Well, this CD has two. The first, "Newer Bigger Better More," is about shopping the day after Thanksgiving. In this one, Jan sings, "And we're waiting here in line/We're huddled at the door/When they open, we'll rush in/Trample anything on the floor/Feeling anxious and afraid/Finding solace in a store/I'll be so happy once I have newer bigger better more." She mentions the strategies of shopping (geez, even the fact that one is needed is enough to keep me away from the stores on that horrid day). This song ends with the line, "Tis the season to be jolly/Yeah." Geoff Bartley plays guitar on this track. Joe Potenza plays bass.

The second, "Christmas Eve/Visiting Hour" is an excellent song about singing carols at a jail. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "We wish you a merry Christmas/And then we go our separate ways/You call and wave goodbye to us/And go back to counting days/Meet us on the outside next year." I've never heard a song like this one before.

"Comfortable Love"

"Comfortable Love" is a strange love song where there is no romance but a lot of regard. She sings, "And it's not like it was in the beginning/All the fireworks, the hunger and the longing/But when he sits beside me with a hand on my knee/There's a steady warmth that spreads all through me/It's a comfortable love." Is it sweet or sad? Yes. Kevin Fallon plays bass on this track.

"Moon Folly"

The song "Moon Folly" has a great beauty, in part created by the harmony vocals of Michal Lauren. It's a fanciful song about catching and keeping the moon. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "And then I will sit by the fire all night/Sit by the fire all day/I will gnaw at the moon to my heart's delight/Till I gnaw her slowly away/And while I grow mad with the moon's cold taste/The world will beat at my door/Crying come out, and crying make haste, my friend/And give us the moon once more." The lyrics for this song come from a Fannie Stearns Davis poem.

CD Track List
  1. Bloom
  2. Come Home
  3. Right Left Right
  4. A Roof And Four Walls
  5. Newer Bigger Better More
  6. Nobody's Girl
  7. Christmas Eve/Visiting Hour
  8. Everything We Do
  9. Comfortable Love
  10. Nothin' To Show
  11. Right Here
  12. Moon Folly
  13. Don't Look Away
  14. This Little Moment
Nobody's Girl was released on October 25, 2011.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mark Lindsay: "The Complete Columbia Singles" (2012) CD Review

Mark Lindsay is most well known for being the lead vocalist of Paul Revere & The Raiders, a 1960s rock band with a fun, loud garage-type sound. But in 1969 when he went to record his solo work, he chose a different type of sound, a different type of song. These songs are definitely softer than what he'd been doing, but still powerful. His vocal work on this collection will likely come as a surprise to anyone who has only heard his work with The Raiders.

These songs were recorded between 1969 and 1974, and are presented in the order in which they were released, with the exception of the first track, which was recorded first, but left unreleased until now. There are a lot of excellent songs here, and some of this collection's best tracks are the flip sides written by Mark Lindsay, particularly "All I Really See Is You" and "Don't You Know."

"Reason To Believe"

This collection opens with "Reason To Believe," a song written by Tim Hardin, and made famous by Rod Stewart. This track was previously unreleased, though it was intended to be Mark Lindsay's first single. This is a sort of sweet and playful version of the song. His voice only takes on that famous edge briefly near the end. There are also interesting deep backing vocals just below Mark's voice on some lines, especially at the beginning.

"First Hymn From Grand Terrace"

"First Hymn From Grand Terrace" ended up being Mark Lindsay's first single, released in 1969. Written by Jimmy Webb, this song features prominent strings, and so right away it differentiates itself from the Paul Revere & The Raiders sound. This is a rather tame song with lines like, "There was a DJ in L.A./We used to tune in late at night to hear our favorite song/And we always heard it at that perfect time/Up on that hill we climbed/And now you're gone, and I'm alone." It reached #81 on the pop chart.

"The Old Man At The Fair," the single's flip side, was also written by Jimmy Webb, and it too features strings. I actually like this song a lot more than its A side. It's a more playful and interesting song, and is undeniably catchy.


In Mark Lindsey's next single, "Arizona," he really belts it out. This song was a big hit, reaching #10 on the chart. Written by Kenny Young, this famous song has a delightful exuberance.

"Man From Houston," the single's flip side, was a song written by Mark Lindsay, but one very different from the tunes he wrote for Paul Revere & The Raiders. It has something of a country feel, and a definite sweetness. The song expresses an interesting yearning for the normalcy of a family. As he rides alone in a taxi, he thinks about the man who sat next to him on the plane. He sings, "Flew beside me all the way from Houston/And showed me pictures of his kids/And talked about his wife/Told me how she would be waiting in their yellow station wagon/With a hug and kiss to give him/Saying I love you/I wonder if I'll ever be like that man/Happy with his family and dying to go home."

"Silver Bird"

"Silver Bird" was written by Kenny Young, and has changes that are similar to those of his other song, "Arizona." It's not as strong a tune, and reached #25 on the chart.

Its flip side, like the flip side to "Arizona," was a song penned by Mark Lindsay. This one, titled "So Hard To Leave You," is a love song with lines like, "I never thought I'd see the day when I believed in someone/Now I believe in someone/I can feel your eyes melt away the cold inside me/It feels so good when you're beside me."

"And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind"

I'm a big fan of Neil Diamond (at least, everything he did up through September Morn), and I always kind of dug "And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind." It was originally released on his 1969 album, Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show. But I first heard it on the 1976 compilation And The Singer Sings His Song.

Mark Lindsay's rendition, released in 1970, is faithful to the original. It reached #44. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "Close my eyes and hear the flowers growing/As you lay sleeping in my arms/And the time will be our time/And the grass won't pay no mind."

"Problem Child"

"Problem Child" is one of my favorite tracks from this collection. Like "Arizona" and some of the others, the chorus is belted out in great contrast to the verses. But unlike, say, "Silver Bird," the entire flow of the song makes sense. And there is some nice work on guitar. It was written by Mac Davis. For some reason, it only made it to #80 on the chart.

Here is a taste of the lyrics: "I can give you a complete love/It ain't the kind you'll find on the street, love/You can fight it, but you know you won't defeat love/All my sweet love is going to bring you running home to your man/Problem child."

"Been Too Long On The Road"

More of a rock tune (at least at first) than many of this collection's tracks, "Been Too Long On The Road" was written by David Gates, the lead singer of Bread. This song has a definite power, and feels like an entire story rather than a pop song, because of its changes and arrangement. It only reached #98 on the pop chart.

Its flip side, "All I Really See Is You," is a really cool tune written by Mark Lindsay. I love his vocals on this one. And this song has some excellent lyrics: "But you keep saying you've been changing/But I perceive just what you are/And what I see - perfection that's so hard to believe/But skin-deep beauty only carries you so far/I've witnessed many disguises before my eyes/I've seen many a changing view/Watch the long parade of your charades" and "And I'm sure you're somewhere near the top/But the life you lead is composed of your fantasies." It's a song about leaving, and it's is one of my favorite tracks.

"Are You Old Enough"

"Are You Old Enough" is another of this CD's surprises. It's a funky, somewhat silly 1970s pop rock tune. I can't help but love it. This one is simply fun, and features the chorus, "Are you old enough to be young enough/To be bad enough to be good/Are you old enough to be young enough/To do the things you shouldn't when you should." And at two minutes, it's over before you know it. It reached #89 on the chart.

Its flip side, "Don't You Know," is another surprising gem. At times, I found myself swaying and tapping along to its rhythm, but the song isn't afraid of getting a bit weird too. Written by Mark Lindsay, "Don't You Know" is probably my favorite from this collection.


"California" is about a girl who was a hit in the high school play, but now wants to go out to California to make it big. And it's sung from the perspective of a boy who loves her, and doesn't want to stand in the way of her dreams.

This one features a groovy pop rhythm on the lines, "The glitter and the glamour are turning to rust/The stars on the sidewalk are covered with dust/All the movie lots are just about to go bust/In the whole big town, there's not a soul you can trust." Sadly, these are lines that are still pertinent, and strike a chord with a lot of folks. He then sings, "If your dreams don't come true, I'll be waiting here for you/Because to me you'll always be a star/And I'll still love you just the way you are." This is a wonderful pop song.

CD Track List
  1. Reason To Believe
  2. First Hymn From Grand Terrace
  3. The Old Man At The Fair
  4. Arizona
  5. Man From Houston
  6. Miss America
  7. Small Town Woman
  8. Silver Bird
  9. So Hard To Leave You
  10. And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind
  11. Funny How Little Men Care
  12. Problem Child
  13. Bookends
  14. Been Too Long On The Road
  15. All I Really See Is You
  16. Are You Old Enough
  17. Don't You Know
  18. Something Big
  19. Pretty, Pretty
  20. California
  21. Someone's Been Hiding
  22. Mamacita
  23. Song For A Friend
  24. Photograph
The Complete Columbia Singles was released on March 6, 2012 through Real Gone Music.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Drinking Songs (1998) CD Review

Just before St. Patrick's Day, these compilations of Irish folk songs start popping up everywhere. This one has some interesting versions of popular Irish songs, and a couple of excellent tracks that make it worth purchasing.

"Whiskey In The Jar"

This compilation opens with a very mellow and sad-sounding version of "Whiskey In The Jar." It's slow and pretty. This song has many more verses than are presented here. All of the verses about the narrator's brother are missing. This version is by The Irish Ceili Band.

Instrumental Medley

The second track is an instrumental medley of "Tarbottin," "The Longford Collector" and "The Sailor's Bonnet." It has a great fiddle. This is the music that will get folks dancing at the pubs on St. Patrick's Day.

"Crooked Jack" is a more serious song about working down in a hole.

"If You're Irish" is an instrumental possibly designed to get the Irish out marching. It doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the songs on this album.

"Parting Glass/The Brown Gate/The Yellow Bonnet" is an excellent medley of instrumentals.

"Lannigan's Ball"

"Lannigan's Ball" is so wonderful and so much fun, and this version - by Waxies Dargle - is perhaps the best ever recorded. Certainly, it's among the best. Often bands will leave out the chorus, or at least the "I stepped out" part. This version has it all, and great male and female vocals. And it ends with a sped-up instrumental section that is excellent. This CD is worth owning just for this track alone.

"I'm A Rover"

How many Irish songs contain the word "rover" in the title? Well, no matter. This is one of them, and it's a fun song. "I'm a rover, seldom sober." That's the way to be.

"Rocky Road To Dublin"

This song is incredible. It's always impressive hearing someone who can actually sing this song. It must be exhausting. There is barely time to breathe. Try singing along. This version is fantastic.

CD Track List
  1. Whiskey In The Jar - The Irish Ceili Band
  2. Tarbottin/The Longford Collector/The Sailor's Bonnet - Waxies Dargle
  3. Crooked Jack - The Blarney Lads
  4. Gypsy Rover - The Blarney Lads
  5. If You're Irish - The Irish Ceili Band
  6. Mountain Dew - The Blarney Lads
  7. Parting Glass/The Brown Gate/The Yellow Bonnet - Waxies Dargle
  8. Lannigan's Ball - Waxies Dargle
  9. I'm A Rover - The Blarney Lads
  10. Rocky Road To Dublin - Waxies Dargle
  11. Quare Bungle Rye - The Blarney Lads
  12. Ramblin' Irishman - The Irish Ceili Band
(Note: I originally posted this review on March 11, 2010 on another site.)

Irish Beer Drinking Favorites CD Review

This compilation of Irish songs is the perfect accompaniment to a day of drinking and dancing (so not just on St. Patrick's Day). This album contains twelve tracks of great Irish music to listen to at home, or on your way to your favorite pub.

"Seven Drunken Nights"

This compilation starts with a version of "Seven Drunken Nights," always a great song to hear on St. Patrick's Day. Most Irish bands cover this song. Gaelic Storm used to hold drinking contests during this song, and the song would last twenty minutes sometimes.

This version by The Kilkenny Brothers, however, is short. So short, in fact, because they left out Sunday night. This version should be titled "Six Drunken Nights." Was the singer so drunk that he forgot about Sunday? Unlikely. The likely story is that this is a family-friendly album, and the seventh night can get a bit dirty. There are several different Sunday night verses, however, and this band could have picked a relatively clean one. Oh well. It's still a cool song, even if this version is anti-climactic.

Irish Reels

The second track is an instrumental. A lively fun Irish tune that should get the folks step-dancing. The second part of it sounds very much like "Muirsheen Durkin," which is also on this album.

The album gets a bit mellower with "Fiddler's Green." This song allows you to stop dancing for a moment, and refill your Guinness or Smithwick's. But hurry, because the next two songs demand dancers.

"Muirsheen Durkin" is a fun tune about a man who no longer wishes to work, and instead wants to go to California to lead a life of leisure. Why not?

"The Wild Rover"

"The Wild Rover" has an audience clapping part that is absent from this studio recording. But when bands perform it live, they expect to hear clapping. Here is when to clap: after "And it's no, nay, never" clap four times (some people do it five times). Then after "No, nay, never, no more," clap twice. And then after "Will I play the wild rover," clap just once. Doing that will impress any of the old drinkers in the bar.

After that song, it's back to a mellow classic with "Black Velvet Band." There are hundreds of versions of this song. The one on this compilation is by The Kilkenny Brothers. This is a great song.

"I'll Tell Me Ma"

"I'll Tell Me Ma" is another fun song that's basically been covered by every Irish band that ever existed. And guess what? There is an audience clapping part in this song too. Basically clap on the counting - three claps on "one, two, three." The version on this compilation - by The Blarney Lads - has the line as "She is courting one, two, three." Some bands sing it as "She is counting one, two, three."

"Cod-Liver Oil" is a really cool song by the best band on the album, Waxies Dargle. Both the male vocalist and the female vocalist have great voices, and they sound wonderful together.
The ninth track is a set of reels - fun instrumental songs that will you have dancing and drinking and spilling beer all over yourself, your partner and the floor. Wonderful music.

"Finnegan's Wake"

This is probably the song that even the most un-Irish of people have heard. When at the bar, if the band plays this song, watch out for flying glasses of whiskey. Seriously.

"Scarce O'Tatties" is a very short instrumental.

This compilation ends with "Many Young Men Of Twenty," a somewhat sad song of men going off to war. It's not exactly a drinking song.

CD Track List

  1. Seven Drunken Nights - The Kilkenny Brothers
  2. Three Young Ladies Drinking Whiskey Before Breakfast - The Irish Ceili Band
  3. Fiddler's Green - The Irish Ceili Band
  4. Muirsheen Durkin - The Blarney Lads
  5. The Wild Rover - The Blarney Lads
  6. Black Velvet Band - The Kilkenny Brothers
  7. I'll Tell Me Ma - The Blarney Lads
  8. Cod-Liver Oil/Coolies - Waxies Dargle
  9. Docherty's Reel/Paddy Ryan's Dream/MacGinnerly's Reel - Waxies Dargle
  10. Finnegan's Wake - Waxies Dargle
  11. Scarce O'Tatties - The Irish Ceili Band
  12. Many Young Men Of Twenty - The Blarney Lads
(Note: I originally posted this review on March 1, 2010 on another site.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

T.S. Bonniwell: "Close" (1969/2012) CD Review

Like most people, I was aware of T.S. Bonniwell (often known as Sean Bonniwell) primarily for the Music Machine song "Talk Talk," which I had on at least two 1960s rock compilations when I was a kid. I had no idea that he'd released a solo album. And had I known, I would never have guessed that its sound was more in the folk vein. After all, "Talk Talk" is kind of a kick-ass rock tune, that is almost shouted or snarled rather than sung. So it came as a total surprise when I popped in Close and heard thoughtful, personal acoustic songs.

Bonniwell's full name is Thomas Sean Bonniwell, which is why this album is released under T.S. rather than Sean Bonniwell. Shortly after he was interviewed for the liner notes of this release, he died (this was in December of 2011), so he didn't get to see the CD release of his only solo album. All the songs on Close were written by T.S. Bonniwell.

"Where Am I To Go"

Close opens with "Where Am I To Go," a soft folk tune (that reminds me a bit of Tim Buckley). It's sung simply. This is not an angry, abrasive, insistent folksinger, but rather a humble voice asking questions like, "What's my part in destiny?" and "What's too high and what's too low?" and "Tell me, where am I to go?" The song builds with drums and an orchestral sound.

"Love Is Such A Simple Word"

I love the instrumental intro to "Love Is Such A Simple Word." It's really pretty and it immediately got under my skin. However, I'm not as fond of the song's lyrics, which are about the different uses of the oft-heard word "love." For example, he sings, "A mother loves her baby's smile/A boy his favorite dog/A seaman loves the ocean spray/And the mornings crisp with fog." And of course it ends with the line, "I think that I love you."

"Who Remembers"

"Who Remembers" is nostalgic list of childhood toys and games and other things that call to mind an innocence. But attached to these things is the question "Who remembers." Have we moved so far past these things that their imprint is gone from memory? Clearly not, at least not from Sean Bonniwell's memory. He sings, "Who remembers licorice sticks or kick-the-can or tug o' war?"

"Something To Be"

There is a different sort of nostalgia in "Something To Be." In this one, he sings, "Some little boy that I used to be/Is quietly calling my name to me." And then later he sings, "Some other man that I'm gonna be/Is quietly calling my name to me." There is the sound of a clock ticking our time away, which becomes more prominent toward the end of the song. The clock seems to be announcing our futures advancing on us, before we've had the time to make something of them. Vic Briggs does the lead guitar part on this song.

"Black Snow"

"Black Snow" is a song that Music Machine actually recorded. I love the piano on this one (it reminds me just a bit of Dave Brubeck), and there is some really nice stuff on drums. "Black Snow" is a truly interesting song, and is my personal favorite, though the short spoken word section toward the end is a bit jarring. "It's all the same to him, it's all black snow."

"Where It Belongs"

"Where It Belongs" is a fun country rock tune, with shades of Country Joe or perhaps Michael Nesmith. It begins, "It suddenly occurs to me to let my mind relax and take a tumble at a crossword puzzle song/Don't look for hidden messages or guess at what the message is/Because it's right up front where it belongs." And then he takes a slightly different stance with "And I believe in God, you see, but take it kind of personally/Keep it to myself where it belongs" (of course, if it's in a song, it's not really kept to himself).

He definitely shows a sense of humor in this one ("Put a stop to killing and so on/But I'm afraid that's nature's way/To make the total number stay/Around a figure, say, where it belongs"). This song even has a whistling section at the end.

CD Track List
  1. Where Am I To Go
  2. Love Is Such A Simple Word
  3. Who Remembers
  4. Something To Be
  5. Black Snow
  6. She is
  7. Temporary Knife
  8. Continue
  9. Where It Belongs
  10. But Not With My Heart
  11. Sleep

Musicians appearing on this release include T.S. Bonniwell on vocals and guitar, Jim Gordon on drums, Jack Libeu on vibes, Lyle Ritz on bass, Sharon Hicks on bass, Bill Hinshaw on French horn, Virgil Evans on trumpet, Steve Lester on guitar, and Fleetfoot on 12-string guitar. The songs were arranged and conducted by Vic Briggs.

This special re-issue of Close was released on February 21, 2012 through Real Gone Music.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

McGough & McGear: "McGough & McGear" (1968/2012) CD Review

I'm not sure what to make of this one. Roger McGough and Mike McGear (whose real name is Mike McCartney - yes, Paul's brother) were members of a comedy group called Scaffold. So clearly they're approaching this with a sense of humor. You can tell even by the track list that it's not overly serious (for example, a song titled "Mr. Tickle" is likely not a heartsick love ballad). Yet, it's more than just a bit of silliness. After all, Jimi Hendrix is on this recording, and I've never thought of him as a comedian.

This CD is a very strange collection of tracks, and even within a given track, there are all sorts of odd changes. There is spoken word and there is psychedelic rock, sometimes together. There is pop. Some tracks are more effective than others ("Basement" is a bit too repetitious on the whole "Why don't you marry me" bit). But it is certainly interesting, and it captures a bit of that odd year 1968.

One thing I could do without is the repeated use of a sound effect of ocean waves. That effect is present in tracks one, four, six, eight and ten. But there is a lot of strangely good stuff here.

"So Much"

The opening track, "So Much," begins with sound effects of water before going into some heavy 1960s rock (that's Jimi Hendrix on guitar). But the vocals are firmly in the pop vein, with some silly whispering backing vocals, "so much so much so much," which are actually rather delightful.

So how serious are they? Maybe it doesn't matter, because the tune works as a bit of late '60s psychedelia. And it features Paul McCartney on backing vocals. The lyrics are definitely of their time, with lines like "So much in love/The sun shines in and out from your eyes" and "So much in love/I ride the clouds high up in the sky." The song ends with some more wave sounds.

"Little Bit Of Heaven"

"Little Bit Of Heaven" is a tune about World War III. It seems to be making fun of Irish folk music at the start. Then the song goes into a spoken word section. "The rich huddle outside the doors of their fallout shelters like drunken carol singers/The poor clutching shattered televisions and last week's editions of TV Times, but the very last." Yes, it's end-of-the-world spoken word comedy. I like the spoken word stuff, but the affected Irish accent during the other sections is off-putting.

"From: Frink, A Day In The Life Of" and "Summer With Monika"

There are two tracks titled "'From: Frink, A Day In The Life Of' and 'Summer With Monika.'" The first, subtitled "Prologue Introducing A) Moanin' And B) Anji" begins with more wave sound effects, and then goes into spoken word. "They say babies were born, married couples made love, often with each other/And people died, sometimes violently." It's a summer described as ordinary, except that it wasn't, for the narrator spent the time with Monika. The guitar comes in after about a minute. The track functions as a weird love poem. "At first we kept birds in a transistor box to sing for us/But sadly they died, we being too embraced in each other to feed them." And yes, it's funny. But it's also sweet, at least at the start.

It seems over, then starts again, with jazzier guitar. Then the guitar disappears for a bit. And then the song really does take on a bluesy jazzy element, with drums and even a horn (this is around the four-minute mark). This track is really like a story - it seems like it should include a book so I can read along, and look at the goofy, whimsical pictures. (Ha! After reading the liner notes, I learn there was a book. A book of poetry titled Summer With Monika. So there.)

Later in the story, he laments, "The house is full of sexy men/Monika, don't you love me anymore?" There are some wonderful absurdities in the lyrics, like "The biscuits are having a party - they're necking in our bread bin" and "As I was helping the potatoes off with their jackets I heard you making a date with the kettle." And I love the line, "Your finger sadly has a familiar ring about it." This track is approximately nine minutes - nine of minutes of wonderful oddities that I can't help but love.

The second of those two tracks (the fifth track) is a continuation of the story, and is subtitled "Epilogue." This one is much shorter, and the two really could have been offered all as one track. "We kissed the sleep from each other's eyes and went out into the world/And now summer's here again." Their home has lost its magic, in lines like "The room no longer a world for make-believing in/But a ceiling and four walls that are for living in."

"Yellow Book"

"Yellow Book" is a strange little song that really got under my skin. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Your ear to the window pane/Listening for the secrets in the chatter of the rain/Which cloud has got married/Which one's left his wife/Which one has joined the army/Which one has lost its life." I really dig the piano on this track. It's songs like this that make me hope these guys are at least a bit serious, because I really like this song, and I'd feel a bit of a fool if it were all in jest.

"Mr. Tickle"

"Mr. Tickle" is another spoken word story, this one of a fifty-year-old man named Edward Tickle whose good house begins shaking. Edward figures it's hungry, and so feeds it bricks.

"Please Don't Run Too Fast"

"Please Don't Run Too Fast" is a goofy little tune about an old, lonely man watching children through the window. He sings, "Life is far too fast," and the line is repeated and sped up. Then the song returns to the main section again before he says to "Drop in anytime just to say hello."

"Ex Art Student"

This CD concludes with "Ex Art Student," another odd late '60s bit of pop, with vocals at first like the Beatles ("Good Day Sunshine"), and then possibly like Beach Boys or something, but only on the title line. (And on the "attic" bit, the song is reminiscent of The Who - listen to those drums and the bass.) The song fades out before the title line is repeated again. But mainly the song lists artists. There is also a section that is a deliberately messy bit of psychedelia, with sitar, and yes, with Jimi Hendrix again. Then it breaks back into "Ex art student," which caused me to laugh out loud.

(But as these guys were part of a comedy team, you have to wonder if they're perhaps making fun of the whole psychedelic music thing.)

CD Track List
  1. So Much
  2. Little Bit Of Heaven
  3. Basement
  4. "From: Frink, A Day In The Life Of" and "Summer With Monika": Prologue Introducing a) Moanin' And b) Anji
  5. "From: Frink, A Day In The Life Of" and "Summer With Monika" Epilogue
  6. Come Close And Sleep Now
  7. Yellow Book
  8. House In My Head
  9. Mr. Tickle
  10. Living Room
  11. Do You Remember
  12. Please Don't Run Too Fast
  13. Ex Art Student
This special re-issue of McGough And McGear as released on February 21, 2012 through Real Gone Music.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Anita And The Yanks: "Face The Wind" (2011) CD Review

I completely fell in love with Anita Mansfield the first time I saw her perform. It was on St. Patrick's Day a few years ago in some bar I can't recall the name of. Though it was St. Paddy's Day and not Christmas, she did a beautiful rendition of The Pogues' "Fairytale Of New York," and I was hooked. Since then, I've caught her shows whenever possible. She does great versions of "Drunken Sailor" and "The Fields Of Athenry." The last time I saw Anita And The Yanks, they did a kick-ass version of "Rocky Road To Dublin," a song which is really difficult to sing, there being little to no space to breathe. Anita And The Yanks perform a lot in the Los Angeles area, in various configurations. If you get a chance to see this band, do it. Put on your dancing feet, and do some Irish step-dancing. Or fake it.

For those folks who can't make it to a show, there is Face The Wind, the band's CD, which features almost entirely original material. (Those people who have made it to the band's shows have undoubtedly already picked up this excellent disc.) Anita is from Ireland, and that land definitely plays an important part in her music. There is something ethereal in the feel and delivery of these songs. It's like folk infused with an ambient sort of pop. There are some beautiful songs here, like the sweet "Rosaria" and the gorgeous "Sailing." This album has the power to transport you. Turn up the volume, sit back, and enjoy.


Face The Wind opens with "Memories," which starts with a wonderfully pretty and sweet guitar part. And soon after Anita's beautiful voice comes in, this song actually takes on more of a pop feel. And though there is something sad in a love song titled "Memories," the song has a positive, optimistic feel. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "I'm a world away from you/I should have stayed there with you/Miles apart, oceans roar/We should be together."

"Cailin Deas"

"Cailin Deas" begins with a steady drumbeat behind the vocals. This song has more in common with pop (her voice even reminding me of Madonna in a few key moments) than folk. But the song is a wonderful combination, with some great stuff on fiddle, which plays beautifully over a disco-like beat (listen to that hi-hat). This band really creates its own sound. The songs on this CD transcend and defy genre and categorizing.

"Wild Stag"

"Wild Stag" is a beautiful, uplifting tune. Co-written by Jack Lancaster, "Wild Stag" includes the lines, "The western hills are veiled by your ocean/I saw you/I saw you standing upon your light of wisdom/You had your freedom, you had your following." I love the song's instrumental section.

"Black Is The Colour"

"Black Is The Colour" is the album's one cover song. It's a traditional tune and a gorgeous song. I've never heard a bad rendition of it. Anita's version is excellent. Her voice truly soars on this track. And the fiddle is incredible, especially its intense build toward the end. There is also some nice work on drums by Tommy Amato. Here is a taste of the song's lyrics: "Satisfied I never will be/I write him a letter, just a few short lines/And suffer death a thousand times/For black is the colour of my true love's hair."

"Leave Me Alone"

"Leave Me Alone" is one of my favorite tracks. It's a song that says in no uncertain terms that a relationship is over. And you can't help but think the poor guy has made a horrible mistake. The chorus is, "It's too late to have me now/It's too late to want me now to love you/It's too late to work it out/I am fine on my own without you." This song has just a hint of a 1960s pop thing at times, which I dig. (And actually, the following track, "Personally" also has a bit of a 1960s pop thing going on.)


"Everchanging" is another of my favorites, and is probably the album's best track. This song is seriously impressive, in its structure, and of course the vocals. (This song is slightly reminiscent of "Life In A Northern Town" in the vocals in a few lines at the beginning, or perhaps that's just me.) There are some interesting changes, and I love the mandolin.

In this one, Anita sings, "Spending so many days/Wasting the time away/Waiting for you to change/One day you're here with me/The next day you're lost at sea/That's the way it is." "Everchanging" ends abruptly on a generous wish, "Hope that all your dreams come true."

CD Track List
  1. Memories
  2. Cailin Deas
  3. Wild Stag
  4. Black Is The Colour
  5. Leave Me Alone
  6. Personally
  7. Face The Wind
  8. Watch Out
  9. Everchanging
  10. Rosaria
  11. In You
  12. Sailing

Musicians on this recording include Anita Mansfield on vocals, guitar and mandolin; Bryan Dobbs on mandolin, guitar, bass and backing vocals; Rachel Grace on violin; Ryan Dean on drums; Tommy Amato on drums; Andy Reilly on drums; and Pat D'Arcy on uilleann pipes and whistles.

Face The Wind was released on August 23, 2011.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I See Hawks In L.A.: "New Kind Of Lonely" (2012) CD Review

Known both to fans of the jam band scene and to country music fans, I See Hawks In L.A. is a Los Angeles-based band that features excellent vocals and songwriting. And what's more, these guys are damned good musicians. Their new CD, New Kind Of Lonely, is an acoustic album. Fans of Wilco and Son Volt should take special notice of this CD, particularly because of the vocals. The acoustic work makes this one feel intimate.

My favorite Grateful Dead records are the acoustic ones - American Beauty, Workingman's Dead and Reckoning. Similarly, this might be I See Hawks In L.A.'s best album. This album, even more than the others, really demonstrates what a great, emotional and wise voice Rob Waller has. Plus, this group has great harmonies, which you can hear on basically every track, but especially in a song like "Mary Austin Sky."

"Bohemian Highway"

New Kind Of Lonely opens with "Bohemian Highway," and right away it's clear how these acoustic arrangements really showcase the band's vocals and lyrics. I love the touch of sadness and weariness in Rob Waller's lead vocals, and the great way the voices blend on the line, "Bohemian highway." There is also some nice work on guitar.

"Dear Flash"

In "Dear Flash" there is an easy-going beauty to the rhythm, and some nice work by Gabe Witcher on fiddle. It begins with a sort of nostalgic yearning, with lines like "Well, I sure do respect your need to fade into the hills" and "I miss those days." In the liner notes it says this song was "inspired by 'Divine Right's trip' by Gurney Norman, 1974 Whole Earth Catalogue."

"The Spirit Of Death"

My favorite part of "The Spirit Of Death" is near the end when they sing, "If you visit my grave, you won't be alone/I'll be dancing on my own gravestone/Bring your pretty women, bring your fruit of the vine/A whole lot of laughing and a little bit of crying." That section is like a sudden barn dance, and it's wonderful. And then the song suddenly speeds up, and that section really features Gabe Witcher on fiddle.

"New Kind Of Lonely"

The album's title track is a good folk tune. It opens by describing a wedding of some friends, then goes right into the line, "Now they feel like they're letting everybody down." Nice. The song describes the relationship, with a sort of melancholy sense of humor which I love. And I like that it ends with the line, "Sometimes it all comes true."

"I Fell In Love With The Grateful Dead"

It was the mid-1980s when I fell in love with the Grateful Dead, and I never tire of hearing other people's Dead stories. And that's what this song is, a collection (and recollection) of this band's personal experiences with that band. It mentions such renowned elements of the Dead scene as the Wall of Sound and the parking lot.

The song's change comes in the section where they sing about getting backstage. This definitely brings back some memories (I managed to get backstage a couple of times). "I Fell In Love With The Grateful Dead" at one point lists off some of the venues where they saw the band, including Winterland, Meadowlands, and Soldier Field (the venue of the band's final show).

By the way, "Your Love Is Going To Kill Me" also has a Grateful Dead reference.

"Mary Austin Sky"

"Mary Austin Sky" is a pretty folk tune. Once again, the song boasts some great vocals (I particularly love the repeated line, "holding back the inevitable"). I also really dig the bass line.

"Highland Park Serenade"

"Highland Park Serenade" is a folk tune about the Highland Park section of Los Angeles. It begins "Slow down, Figueroa, you're breathing too fast/Twenty miles of boulevard in a town that can't last/I wake up at night, hear your Saturday sounds/Helicopter, helicopter missions surround/It's a Highland Park serenade." This song mentions Mr. T's Bowl, which used to be my favorite music venue in L.A., until they changed the way the place was run. (Arlo, the sound guy there, is one of the best sound guys on the planet.)

"Highland Park Serenade" is a great tune, with a wonderful Latin feel (some of it is even sung in Spanish). I love these lines: "We're living at the end of Monte Vista/Where the sun sets down right when I kiss you." (Monte Vista is a street in Highland Park; so is Figueroa, for that matter.)

"Hunger Mountain Breakdown"

"Hunger Mountain Breakdown" is a seriously cool bluegrass tune which features the amazing Cliff Wagner on banjo. I am always happy to hear that guy play. And of course the song also features some great vocals - their voices are perfect for bluegrass. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "You know that if I'm up here on the mountain/My problems will soon be at an end/Well, I traveled all the way across this country/To climb above these pastures once again/See the smoke rising from the chimneys/Like memories scattering in the wind."

"Hunger Mountain Breaksown" was written by Rob Waller, Paul Lacques and Carter Stowell.

"If You Lead I Will Follow"

New Kind Of Lonely concludes with "If You Lead I Will Follow," a wonderful and gorgeous country song. Check out these lyrics: "The angels are singing/And I'm still clinging to the crack at the end of the ledge/You're calling to me/Denying gravity/I close my eyes and step over the edge." I love this song.

On an album full of great songs, "If You Lead I Will Follow is probably my favorite track. The chorus is, "If you lead I will follow/You give me comfort from the world/When my heart is feeling hollow/You fill it up with your diamonds and pearls."

"If You Lead I Will Follow" was written by Rob Waller and Paul Marshall.

CD Track List
  1. Bohemian Highway
  2. Dear Flash
  3. The Spirit Of Death
  4. New Kind Of Lonely
  5. I Fell In Love With The Grateful Dead
  6. Mary Austin Sky
  7. Big Old Hypodermic Needle
  8. River Run
  9. Highland Park Serenade
  10. Younger But Wiser
  11. Hunger Mountain Breakdown
  12. You Love Is Going To Kill Me
  13. If You Lead I Will Follow

I See Hawks In L.A. are Rob Waller on lead vocals and guitar; Paul Lacques on guitar, dobro and vocals; and Paul Marshall on acoustic bass, electric bass and vocals. Joining them on this recording are Gabe Witcher on fiddle, Cliff Wagner on banjo, Richie Lawrence on accordion, and Dave Raven on drums. Bubba Hernandez provides backing vocals on "Highland Park Serenade."

New Kind Of Lonely is scheduled to be released on March 6, 2012. I See Hawks In L.A. have released several other CDs, including Shoulda Been Gold (2010).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 2012 Concert Calendar

Here is a list of concerts you might be interested in for the month of March. Most of these are bands that I've reviewed, though some are some bands that I haven't yet written about, but really like. If you can, try to check out at least a few of these shows. I will be adding listings throughout the month, so please check back again later.

March 1, 2012 (Thursday)
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - University Of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Gaelic Storm - Kirby Center, Wilkes Barre, PA
Ellis Paul - The Alberta Rose Theatre, Portland, OR
Chris Trapper - Harlows, Sacramento CA
The Watson Twins - Iota Club and Cafe, Arlington, VA
Yonder Mountain String Band - Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

March 2, 2012 (Friday)
Anita And The Yanks - Ireland's 32, Van Nuys, CA - 9:30 p.m.
Glen Campbell - Little Creek Casino Resort, Shelton, WA
The Dunwells - Chandler Center For The Arts, Chandler, AZ
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - North Shore Center For The Performing Arts, Skokie, IL
Mickey Hart Band - El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
The Nields - The Kate, Old Saybrook, CT
Ellis Paul - Private show, Seattle, WA
Martin Sexton - Asbury Hall, Buffalo, NY
Chris Trapper - Backstage Lounge At Rio, Santa Cruz, CA
Yonder Mountain String Band - Madison Theatre, Covington, KY

March 3, 2012 (Saturday)
Glen Campbell - Northern Quest Casino, Spokane, WA
The Dunwells - Santa Fe Brewing Company, Santa Fe, NM
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - North Central College, Naperville, IL
Highway Ghosts - Johnny D's, Somerville, MA
(CD release show)
I See Hawks In L.A. - T. Boyles Tavern, Pasadena, CA
Ellis Paul - Seattle Folklore Society, Seattle, WA
Martin Sexton - The Egg, Albany, NY
Chris Trapper - Lestats, San Diego, CA
The Watson Twins - World Cafe, Philadelphia, PA
The Whooligans - The Auld Dubliner, Long Beach, CA
Yonder Mountain String Band - Orpheum Theatre, Madison, WI

March 4, 2012 (Sunday)
Anita And The Yanks - Muldoons, Newport Beach, CA - 2:00 p.m.
Glen Campbell - Clearwater River Casino Event Center, Lewiston, ID
Dave Coffin - The Burren, Somerville, MA - 11:30 a.m.
Ellis Paul - Sam Bond's Garage, Eugene, OR
The Watson Twins - The Southern, Charlottesville, VA
Yonder Mountain String Band - Canopy Club, Urbana, IL

March 5, 2012 (Monday)
Chris Trapper - The Mint, Los Angeles, CA

March 6, 2012 (Tuesday)
Anita And The Yanks - Finn McCool's Irish Pub, Santa Monica, CA
The Dunwells - The Saint, Asbury, NJ
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Sunset Center Theater, Carmel, CA
Ruthie Foster - Ramshead, Annapolis, MD
(with Paul Thorn)
Chris Trapper - Livy Lou's, Prescott, AZ
The Watson Twins - Smith's Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA

March 7, 2012 (Wednesday)
Peter Case and Paul Collins - The Echo, Echo Park, CA
The Dunwells - Mercury Lounge, New York, NY
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Flogging Molly - House Of Blues, West Hollywood, CA
Ruthie Foster - Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
(with Paul Thorn)

March 8, 2012 (Thursday)
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - The Warfield, San Francisco, CA
Ruthie Foster - WCL, Philadelphia, PA
(with Paul Thorn)
The Nields - Stone Mountain Arts Center, Brownfield, ME

March 9, 2012 (Friday)
The Dunwells - Rams Head, Annapolis, MD
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - The Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Ruthie Foster - City Winery, New York, NY
(with Paul Thorn)
I See Hawks In L.A. - Yolie's, Ventura, CA
Ellis Paul - Faith Community, Baltimore, MD
Martin Sexton - 20th Century Theatre, Cincinnati, OH

March 10, 2012 (Saturday)
Moot Davis - Layla's Bluegrass Inn, Nashville, TN - 4:00 p.m.
The Dunwells - Rams Head, Annapolis, MD
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - John Ascuaga's Nugget, Sparks, NV
Ruthie Foster - The Sanctuary Concerts, Chatham, NJ
(with Paul Thorn)
I See Hawks In L.A. - Pappy And Harriet's, Pioneertown, CA
Ellis Paul - Shady Grove Coffee House, Glen Allen, VA - 8:00 p.m.
Martin Sexton - Busters, Lexington, KY
Chris Trapper - Jammin' Jules, Swedesboro, NJ

March 11, 2012 (Sunday)
Ellis Paul - Coffee Works, Voorhees, NJ
Chris Trapper - In The Vogue Theatre, Indianapolis, IN

March 12, 2012 (Monday)
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Smith Center For The Performing Arts, Las Vegas, NV
Chris Trapper - 4th Street Theatre, Des Moines, IA

March 13, 2012 (Tuesday)
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Anthology, San Diego, CA
Chris Trapper - The Rudyard Kipling, Louisville, KY

March 14, 2012 (Wednesday)
The Dunwells - SXSW Hilton, Austin, TX
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Anthology, San Diego, CA
Chris Trapper - 3rd And Lindsley, Nashville, TN

March 15, 2012 (Thursday)
The Dunwells - SXSW Whole Foods, Austin, TX
Chris Trapper - Windjammer, Charleston, SC

March 16, 2012 (Friday)
The Dunwells - SXSW Maggie Mae's, Austin, TX
Ellis Paul - S.P.A.C.E., Evanston, IL
Martin Sexton - The Orange Peel, Ashville, NC
Chris Trapper - Smiths Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA
Umphrey's McGee - House Of Blues, West Hollywood, CA
The Whooligans - Dublin Square Irish Pub, San Diego, CA

March 17, 2012 (Saturday)
Anita And The Yanks - Tilted Kilt, Long Beach, CA - 2:00 p.m.
Anita And The Yanks - Irish Times, Los Angeles, CA - 9:30 p.m.
Ruthie Foster - Kessler Theater, Dallas, TX
Ellis Paul - S.P.A.C.E., Evanston, IL - 1:00 p.m.
(Special Family show)
Ellis Paul - Wheeler Arts Building, Indianapolis, IN - 8:00 p.m.
Martin Sexton - Visulite Theatre, Charlotte, NC
Chris Trapper - Workplay Theatre, Birmingham, AL
The Whooligans - Nadine's Irish Mist, Sunset Beach, CA

March 18, 2012 (Sunday)
Glen Campbell - Travis County Expo Center, Austin, TX
Ellis Paul - Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
Martin Sexton - 3rd and Lindsley, Nashville, TN
Chris Trapper - Mountain Spirit, Asheville, NC

March 19, 2012 (Monday)
The Nields - Straz Center For The Arts, Tampa, FL

March 20, 2012 (Tuesday)
Chris Trapper - Rockwood Music Hall, New York, NY

March 21, 2012 (Wednesday)
The Dunwells - Belly Up, Aspen, CO
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

March 22, 2012 (Thursday)
Glen Campbell - Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, FL
Ellis Paul - Concerts For Charity At Toscani, West Lawn, PA

March 23, 2012 (Friday)
7 Walkers - Slim's, San Francisco, CA
Anita And The Yanks - Tam O'Shanter, Los Angeles, CA
Glen Campbell - King Center For the Performing Arts, Melbourne, FL
The Dunwells - Swallow Hill, Denver, CO
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Weinberg Center For The Arts, Frederick, MD
Ruthie Foster - Eddie's Attic, Decatur, GA
Ellis Paul - 6 On The Square, Oxford, NY - 7:30 p.m.
Chris Trapper - The Towne Crier, Pawling, NY
The Whooligans - The Auld Dubliner, Long Beach, CA

March 24, 2012 (Saturday)
7 Walkers - Van Duzen River Grange, Carlotta, CA
Glen Campbell - Twin Oaks Amphitheater, Silver Springs, FL
Moot Davis - private show
Ani Difranco - The Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
The Dunwells - Warren Station, Keystone, CO
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - University Of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
The Nields - Common Ground Coffeehouse, Hastings-On-Hudson, NY
Ellis Paul - Concerts At The Crossing, Titusville, NJ
Martin Sexton - House Of Blues, Boston, MA
Chris Trapper - Jazz Central, Syracuse, NY

March 25, 2012 (Sunday)
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Berks Jazz Festival, Reading, PA
The Whooligans - Nadine's Irish Mist, Sunset Beach, CA - 4:00 p.m.

March 26, 2012 (Monday)
7 Walkers - Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Carnegie Library Music Hall, Munhall, PA

March 27, 2012 (Tuesday)
Glen Campbell - Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino Event Center, Tulsa, OK

March 28, 2012 (Wednesday)
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Missouri State University, Springfield, MO
Martin Sexton - Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln, NE

March 29, 2012 (Thursday)
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Sheldon Concert Hall, St. Louis, MO
Martin Sexton - Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO

March 30, 2012 (Friday)
The Dunwells - Firehouse Arts Center, Pleasanton, CA
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
Ellis Paul - Private show, Seekonk, MA
Martin Sexton - Wheeler Opera House, Aspen, CO
Chris Trapper - Cafe At Arts Collinwood, Cleveland, OH

March 31, 2012 (Saturday)
Moot Davis - Layla's Bluegrass Inn, Nashville, TN - 4:00 p.m.
The Dunwells - Hotel Utah, San Francisco, CA
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - University Of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA
Ellis Paul - The Strand Theatre, Rockland, ME
Martin Sexton - Canyons Ski Resort, Park City, UT
Chris Trapper - Rumba Cafe, Columbus, OH