Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The dB's: "Falling Off The Sky" (2012) CD Review

The dB's are back, with their first album in twenty-five years, and the first with the original lineup since 1982's Repercussion.  They took their time recording this one (they made the decision to record a new album back in 2005) and the results are wonderful. There is nothing tentative in these recordings. This band is as tight as ever, as if they'd never stopped recording and touring. I hope we don't have to wait decades before the next release from this excellent band.  While most of these songs are joyous pop rock gems, there are also songs like the pretty "Far Away And Long Ago," which features a string section.  There are no weak tracks on this CD.

I am thoroughly enjoying this album, more and more each time I listen to it.

"That Time Is Gone"

Falling Off The Sky kicks off with "That Time Is Gone," a great, fun, energetic pop rock tune.  I particularly love the keyboard, which reminds me a bit of some late 1960s stuff - it has that kind of lively vibe. Plus, the song features good vocals.  This song puts us on a bus, driving away from an earlier life. "Every truck that passes, every cactus, every bird is freer than you now/You've got nothing holding you back/Nothing tying you down/Freer than the law allows."  "That Time Is Gone" was written by Peter Holsapple.

"Before We Were Born"

"Before We Were Born" is a love song that works as both a sweet pop tune and a hard-driving rock song.  I'm really into this band's vocals, which in this song at times are a bit reminiscent of R.E.M. Check out these lyrics: "I'll be there when you wake/To paint the blue back on the sky/And dry your eyes/And I've got a feeling that I knew you before you were born/Before we were born."  I completely love this song.  This one was written by Chris Stamey.

"The Wonder Of Love"

"The Wonder Of Love" is one of my favorites. It has such a bright catchy rhythm. I dig the drumbeat. There is a surprising section about two minutes in that breaks the rhythm up for a moment. Then the vocals come back, "Sometimes I wonder if the wonder of love is ever enough or always too much/And then I figure that it all levels out/Homeostatic and soft to the touch/Then I've got to believe in the wonder of love." This song features horns, which add to its bright feel.  That's Al Strong on trumpet, and Peter Lamb on saxophone.  "The Wonder Of Love" was written by Peter Holsapple.

"Write Back"

"Write Back" is another of my favorites.  This one was written and sung by drummer Will Rigby. I totally dig his vocals. They remind me of some odd combination of They Might Be Giants and Buzzcocks.  My favorite section is when he sings, "I guess I knew that I/Was telling you goodbye/When I didn't reply to your reply to my reply to your reply to my reply to your reply to my letter." There is some interesting work on drums, as you might expect, but also on keys. This song is totally catchy, and completely cool.  And there is a string section, which I always appreciate.  Karen Galvin and Kaitlin Wolfberg are on violin.  Josh Starmer is on cello.  (I'm a sucker for cello.)

"Send Me Something Real"

"Send Me Something Real" is a song that has already worked its way into my brain, and pops up from time to time (as if it had lived there for years). It surprises me that this is a new song, as I feel I've known it for a long time. This one is on the sweeter side, but has an element of longing, with the repeated line at the end, "Seems like an eternity since you were here with me."  "Send Me Something Real" was written by Chris Stamey.

"World To Cry"

"World To Cry" is wonderfully catchy. The vocal line feels like something John Cafferty (perhaps with help from Tom Petty) would have had a hit with in the mid-1980s. It starts, "You think you know it all, but what do you know/You think you love someone, but where did it go/You learn to trust yourself, but not for long."  I like the line, "Sometimes you choke yourself just to see how it feels."  "World To Cry" was written by Peter Holsapple.

"The Adventures Of Albatross And Doggerel"

I seriously love "The Adventures Of Albatross And Doggerel."  Right off the bat, it's catchy.  But this one has an interesting structure, with its strange section in the middle where he sings, "I can see everything/I can hear everything/But I can't do anything for you" (with a strange Felini feel for just a moment behind the vocals). When it kicks in after that section (especially the second time) it's glorious.  This is one of my favorite songs of the year so far.  It was written by Chris Stamey.

This song has a lot of guest musicians, including Kaitlin Wolfberg on violin, Karen Galvin on violin, Josh Starmer on cello, Corey Sims on trumpet, Lisa Lachot on flute, and Charles Cleaver on Wurlitzer.

"She Won't Drive In The Rain Anymore"

"She Won't Drive In The Rain Anymore" is another of my favorites, partly because of these lines: "She won't drive in the rain anymore/Buys things twice at the grocery store/Keeps her hatchet on the attic floor."  This song is a truly compelling portrait of a woman who won't drive in the rain anymore.  And this song has a distinct beauty.

CD Track List
  1. That Time Is Gone
  2. Before We Were Born
  3. The Wonder Of Love
  4. Write Back
  5. Far Away And Long Ago
  6. Send Me Something Real
  7. World To Cry
  8. The Adventures Of Albatross And Doggerel
  9. I Didn't Mean To Say That
  10. Collide-oOo-Scope
  11. She Won't Drive In The Rain Anymore
  12. Remember (Falling Off The Sky)

The dB's are Peter Holsapple on vocals, guitar, and keyboard; Gene Holder on electric bass; Chris Stamey on vocals and guitar; and Will Rigby on drums, percussion and vocals.  Joining them is Mitch Easter on guitar.

Falling Off The Sky is scheduled to be released June 12, 2012 on Bar/None Records.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Steve Poltz: "Noineen Noiny Noin" (2012) CD Review

Noineen Noiny Noin is Steve Poltz's thirteenth full-length album, and yet somehow he's new to me.  This CD jumped right on top of me from its fantastic start.  One thing that hit me was the album's humor. It seems like Steve Poltz has a bit of a twisted outlook (which I always appreciate), but then he can surprise you with "I Pray It Never Comes To This," which is a sweeter folk tune (his voice is beautiful on that one).  And then on a track like "Check Your Head," the vocals are up in the higher registers, something like Mick Jagger doing "Fool To Cry" (and yes, that tune has a definite 1970s feel).  Sometimes I'm not exactly sure where he's coming from, and I like that.  This album continually surprised me, and there are lots of different vibes to these tunes, and a mix of genres. It boasts excellent songwriting, and an interesting delivery.  There's really only one tune on this CD that doesn't work for me.  The rest of the album is so good.

Noineen Noiny Noin also has a bonus CD (which is titled Noineen Noiny Noin And A Haff).

"Spirit Hands"

The first track, "Spirit Hands," begins with a brief instrumental intro (which reminds me of backwards Beatles stuff), then kicks in like an energetic bit of folk pop. The first lines are, "Lay me down in a field of daisies/Let me dance in a room full of crazies/I was lost, but now I'm found again/Won't you run away with me around the bend." It soon becomes, "I was found, but now I'm lost again," and then the song suddenly changes, reaching a different level, becoming a rock song. While the transition might be jarring, it totally works. The song shifts levels throughout, and it's a joy to go along with each change.  Steve Poltz has a great voice for folk (that blend of wisdom, humanity, and humor), and then is able to belt it out for the hard rock sections.  "Spirit Hands" is a great opener, immediately pulling me in (and setting my expectations rather high for the rest of the album).


"Croatia" reminds me a bit of early Cracker material. It's that fun kind of loose country rock - of course, in this case the country is Croatia. But no matter. There is a definite sense of humor to this (and most of the album's tune), complete with stutter ("takes its t-t-t-toll").  The chorus is, "Croatia, I'm going to miss you/Like a bottle of wine, I'll put my lips against you/Hold on tight, it's a roller coaster ride/From Dubrovnik to Split, it's gonna be all right."   I love these lines: "I'm trying to play quiet, but I end up loud/Throw some money in my case, I ain't too proud." Jason Brown plays French horn and trumpet on this track.

"Slovenia Breeze"

"Slovenia Breeze" reminds me a bit of Uncle Tupelo. It's a slow, easy-going tune, with some really nice vocals.  Here is a bit of the lyrics: "Let the wind blow back your hair/Where this train goes, I don't care/I feel like I'm hypnotized/Maybe I just realized/This moment I could freeze/In the Slovenia breeze." But my favorite line is, "Broken English can't be wrong when it's mixed in with a song."

"Conversations With The Moon"

"Conversations With The Moon" is a quiet acoustic number with the vocals much more prominent than on other tracks, like he's right next to you.  And so there is a wonderful intimacy.  This one is also truly pretty.  It's about being on tour in England, across the ocean from the person he misses, and afraid to cross the street because he doesn't trust the way people are driving. I like the lyrics about the differences in language: "There's a bonnet on my car/And a torch for when it's dark/But a heart is still a heart/Yours and mine are far apart."  This is one of my favorite tracks.

"Giving Thanks"

In "Giving Thanks," we can forgive him for the no-longer-clever God-is-a-woman bit, especially because he follows it with the line, "But if I'm a believer, it's usually when I'm in need."  But the lyrics I really dig are these: "I'd like to stick around with brand new eyes/I got good friends/They're like family to me/I got good family - they're like strange, weird friends to me/But I guess I'm thankful for all the people I meet." What I love is that this song is kind of humorous, yet feels earnest. The lines are sung without any sarcasm or irony in his voice.

"Ordinary Dude"

"Ordinary Dude" is one of my favorite tracks.  Right away I'm in love with this tune, because of the violin at the beginning.  And the energy is fantastic. This song features great vocals (like a bizarre combination of an Irish folk tune, a CSN song, a march, and... hell, I don't know what).  I like these lines: "If I get picked up by the coppers, I'll tell them I ain't in the mood/Go find another criminal 'cause I'm just an ordinary dude."  If ever I find myself in that situation, I think I will use those lines.


"Trash" is a slow song, sung from the perspective of the man who gets shot in Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."  He tells a different sort of story than the way Cash sings it.  He creates himself as a transvestite who is getting ready to go out and will be dead before the end of the night. He sings, "I might be for sale, but I ain't no whore" and "Oh, the things we do looking for love." It's a serious and personal song, and it's only slowly revealed that the man the transvestite hooks up with is Johnny Cash.  The first hint is the line, "He was standing in the corner all dressed in black."

When the man has come, he then turns on the transvestite, his own feelings of self-loathing being the reason for the shooting.  At least, that's the way it's told in this rendition of the story.

"Sucker Punch"

"Sucker Punch" is foot-stomping aggressive country rock, and it's a bit silly, with lines like "She had me for dinner/I stayed on 'til lunch." This turns out to be another song about a transvestite, but this one from the perspective of the man who finds himself dating her. The Kinks did it better in "Lola."  "Sucker Punch" is not all that clever or original. This is the one tune that doesn't work for me.

"Some Things About Me You Should Know"

The first CD concludes with "Some Things About Me You Should Know," which is a strange list song. It's like a profile on an online dating site, but aggressive ("You should fucking know these things about me").  How personal is this?  I have no idea.  Is he revealing anything about himself, or just making jokes? He says, "I use humor as a crutch."  So who knows?  I like this: "I quit drinking booze/That's not any big news."

(Note: I got a message from Steve Poltz, and every word in the song is true.  He says it's the most personal song he's written.)

Bonus CD

There is a second CD included in this package, that contains approximately twenty-three minutes of music.  The first song, "Killin' Myself To Be With You," is a slightly goofy, but also sweet love song. He finds himself falling out of a tree, sinking to the bottom of the ocean, falling down a mine shaft - "No matter what I do, I'm killing myself to be with you."

"Salt Suit" is an odd folk song, with a spoken word delivery during the verses. It's about a man who was not able to cry, not even when watching The Notebook.  But then he couldn't stop crying, and his suit became caked with salt (thus, the title). This song is more than a bit silly too.  The line about kicking the dying man with the cute puppy makes me laugh each time (Maybe there's something wrong with me).

"From The Top Of Her Head" is a sweet, pretty song, that features violin. This is my favorite from the bonus CD.

CD Track List
  1. Spirit Hands
  2. Croatia
  3. I Pray It Never Comes To This
  4. Slovenia Breeze
  5. Conversations With The moon
  6. Check Your Head
  7. Giving Thanks
  8. Ordinary Dude
  9. Trash
  10. Dreams 23
  11. Sucker Punch
  12. Some Things About Me You Should Know
Bonus Disc
  1. Killin' Myself To Be With You
  2. Salt Suit
  3. From The Top Of Her Head
  4. The Medical Career
  5. 22 Love Avenue
  6. Dog In Bosnia

Musicians on this album include Steve Poltz on vocals and guitar; Marc Earley on double bass and electric bass; Rachael Aquilina on violin and viola; Hugh Jennings on accordion and flute; Steve Hensby on mandolin and bass guitar; Steve Hesketh on Hammond organ and Wurlitzer; Ben Witt on electric guitar, acoustic guitar and bass; Lee Jones on acoustic guitar, pedal steel, slide guitar and backing vocals; and Shaun Sibbes on drums, percussion and backing vocals.

Gregory Page is on bass and backing vocals on "Croatia." Jason Brown is on French horn and trumpet on "Croatia."  Malcolm is on drums, piano, harpsichord, guitar, percussion and vocals on "Slovenia Breeze."  Chelsea Gibson does backing vocals on "Check Your Head."

Noineen Noiny Noin is scheduled to be released June 19, 2012 on Arrival Records.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Paul And Linda McCartney: "Ram" (1971/2012 re-issue) 3-Disc CD Review

When I was in my early teens I had a summer job as a janitor at the grammar school, cleaning all the desks and such.  As you can imagine, it was totally lame.  What made it bearable was that one of the guys in charge of this operation brought a small boom box to work every day.  And the tape he always played was Paul and Linda McCartney's Ram.  Rather than get sick of this album, which is what one might think would happen, I actually grew to love it even more.

Now Ram is being re-released as part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, with plenty of bonus material.  It's wonderful to revisit this album, and it sounds better than ever on this remastered edition.  Half of the tracks were written by Paul McCartney, and half by Paul and Linda.  A lot of these songs are on the silly side.  So sure, it's light fare, but it's so damn good.  Joining them on this album were Denny Seiwell on drums, David Spinozza on guitar and Hugh McCracken on guitar.

There are two discs of bonus material.  The first is a CD, with more than a half hour of tunes.  The second is a DVD, with footage of Paul and Linda from the early seventies.

"Too Many People"

Ram opens with "Too Many People." I've always loved this song.  It has a bit of that goofy pop joy that Paul is so great at bringing to a song, and it features some wonderful work on electric guitar. As he says on this release's DVD, this song was aimed at John Lennon.  With that in mind, here is a bit of the lyrics: "Too many people going underground/Too many reaching for a piece of cake/Too many people pulled and pushed around/Too many waiting for that lucky break/That was your first mistake/You took your lucky break and broke it in two."  I love that wild instrumental section at the very end of the song (I wish it went on a bit longer).

"3 Legs"

The second track, titled "3 Legs," is a deliciously silly bluesy folk tune that then becomes a rock song when the electric guitar is added. I love the backing vocals on this one. And really, what is this song about?  Here are some of the lyrics: "A fly flies in/A fly flies out/Most flies, they got three legs/But mine got one."  And then, "My dog, he got three legs/Your dog, he got none."

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" is probably the most famous tune from the album. The first half has kind of a great, lazy feel (though as always, I could do without the rain sound effect).  It's the second half that I've always loved (the "Admiral Halsey" section), with the lines "Hands across the water (water), hands across the sky."  The song is so much fun, with its playful touches throughout, which are delightful.

This one was co-written by Linda McCartney, and was released as a single later in 1971, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Smile Away"

"Smiles Away" is a great rock tune. This is one that is just pure fun.  There is nothing too serious here, and there's nothing wrong with that. This song isn't going to affect you emotionally, or hit you on an intellectual level.  It's just a bit of fun.  But it works as such.  It has elements of early rock and roll, particularly the backing vocals.  Paul instructs the others, "Now smile away quietly now" and then "Smile away horribly now."

"Monkberry Moon Delight"

Paul McCartney really lets his vocals rip on "Monkberry Moon Delight." I love when he shouts out tunes like this.  This song has a simple catchy rhythm, and also has the best title on the album.  This is another that was co-written by Linda McCartney.

Bonus CD

The bonus CD has eight tracks.  The first is "Another Day," one of my favorites of his.  This song is so simple, yet so pretty. It describes an ordinary situation, but this woman becomes very vivid. Paul McCartney is skilled at capturing the details of daily life, calling attention to certain characters.  Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Sometimes she feels so sad/As she posts another letter to the sound of five/People gather round her and she finds it hard to stay alive/It's just another day"  "Another Day" was co-written by Linda McCartney, and released as a single in 1971.

"Little Woman Love" is a seriously fun little tune, that features some nice stuff on piano. Sure, the lyrics don't offer any great insights into the human condition, but that's okay.  The song starts, "I got a little woman I can really love/My woman fit me like a little glove/You know I'll always love my little woman love."  There is a great (though brief) moment on bass in this song.

"Hey Diddle (Dixon Van Winkle Mix)" is a pretty tune with a steady drumbeat. This is a song that will bring a smile to your face (and the more I listen to it, the more I love it). It's one of those simple, yet completely effective songs.  (By the way, Dixon Van Winkle was one of the album's sound engineers.)

"Great Cock And Seagull Race" is a bluesy rock and roll gem. I especially enjoy the piano on this instrumental track.

"Rode All Night" is a pretty loose little jam. It has something of an improvised vibe, a testing of the waters, and so it's messy at times. It definitely sounds like a song that's not quite finished, but its raw quality is exactly what I like about it. They sound like a garage band. And at nearly nine minutes, there is a certain perceived reluctance to end this song. (Or maybe they just weren't sure when or how to end it.)


The third disc is a DVD that contains approximately a half hour of footage.

The first track, titled "Ramming," features a recently recorded interview with Paul McCartney in which he talks about the album. Accompanying that audio track are photos and interesting graphics.  Paul McCartney talks a bit about the breakup of the Beatles and going to Scotland (and there is footage of Scotland).  He also talks about Linda's vocals, and about holding auditions for the band.  There are photos of them in the studio in New York.  Music from the album plays under Paul's audio track.  And he talks about certain songs from the album, particularly "Heart Of The Country," "Dear Boy" and "Too Many People."  "Too Many People," he says, was a message to John Lennon "across the airwaves." Of course, this is the most interesting bit, as he talks about how he felt Lennon "was preaching a little bit about what everyone should do, how they should sort of live their lives, and I felt that some of it was a bit hypocritical."  Paul even mentions the song war and Lennon's "How Do You Sleep?"

The DVD also has music videos for "Heart Of The Country" and "3 Legs," both of which were filmed in Scotland in 1971.  Both of them feature footage of Paul and Linda on horseback.

And there is footage of Paul playing "Hey Diddle" on guitar, seated on the ground with Linda and their dog.  Linda is singing too, and you can hear the kids playing in the background.  This is great stuff.  This too was filmed in Scotland in 1971.

The last section of the DVD is titled "Eat At Home On Tour," and it's footage of Wings on tour.  Very cool stuff, including concert footage, backstage footage, and footage of the "Wings Over Europe" tour bus (the kids had a playpen on top of it, something that would most likely be frowned upon these days - but I'm sure they had a lot of fun).

CD Track List

CD 1
  1. Too Many People
  2. 3 Legs
  3. Ram On
  4. Dear Boy
  5. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
  6. Smile Away
  7. Heart Of The Country
  8. Monkberry Moon Delight
  9. Eat At Home
  10. Long Haired Lady
  11. Ram On
  12. The Back Seat Of My Car
CD 2
  1. Another Day
  2. Oh Woman, Oh Why
  3. Little Woman Love
  4. A Love For You (Jon Kelly Mix)
  5. Hey Diddle (Dixon Van Winkle Mix)
  6. Great Cock And Seagull Race (Dixon Van Winkle Mix)
  7. Rode All Night
  8. Sunshine Sometimes (Earliest Mix)
  1. Ramming
  2. Heart Of The Country
  3. 3 Legs
  4. Hey Diddle
  5. Eat At Home On Tour
Ram was originally released on May 17, 1971.  This special re-issue of Ram is scheduled to be released May 22, 2012 through Concord Music Group.   It is also being released on vinyl and as a box set.  Last year's releases in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection included McCartney and McCartney II.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sonny Landreth: "Elemental Journey" (2012) CD Review

Elemental Journey is Sonny Landreth's eleventh album, and his first instrumental record.  I have to admit, it took a while for me to get into this one.  It's not completely effective for me.

For an instrumental to work for me, generally the main instrument has to have the same emotional impact and power that a human voice has (or can have). And while I won't deny the electric guitar's capability to reach that (there are moments in some of Jerry Garcia's solos that have left me in tears), it's difficult for it to sustain over a course of a song or entire album - more difficult than it is for, say, a violin or cello or piano.  It seems to me it's more difficult for electric instruments than for acoustic instruments, as there is something more human and intimate in the acoustic instruments.  So while I can appreciate the talent of the playing - and Sonny Landreth is a darn good guitar player - and admire the structure of the songs, I'm not drawn in or moved by this album for the most part.

Fortunately, he does add string arrangements to certain tracks (the arrangements are by Sam Broussard).  And some of the tracks are quite good, particularly "Wonderide," "Elemental Journey" and "Forgotten Story."  All of the songs were written by Sonny Landreth.  And some feature guest players such as Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Robert Greenidge.

"Gaia Tribe"

Elemental Journey opens with "Gaia Tribe," a guitar rock tune. This is the sort of song that needs lyrics, at least for me.  It's just not that compelling as an instrumental. It feels like the section toward the end of a long Deep Purple song, which makes sense as this track features special guest Joe Satriana on guitar (he played with Deep Purple in the mid-1990s). But as such, it sounds like it should eventually go back to the chorus, rather than be complete in itself.

"For You And Forever"

"For You And Forever" a little more fun, but still it feels that the lyrics have been cut from it, rather than a song that was conceived as an instrumental. It does not feel complete as it is. That being said, there is some nice work on guitar.


"Wonderide" is probably the most fun track on the CD (though it could still benefit from a good set of lyrics).  I particularly like the opening section of this track. The string arrangement is interesting, and works both in conjunction with and as contrast to the guitar and keyboard.  This is my personal favorite on this album.

"Elemental Journey"

"Elemental Journey," the album's title track, is pretty cool, and features some interesting changes. I particularly like the effect of the acoustic guitars beneath the electric guitar.  This song also has a catchy rhythm.

"Forgotten Story"

"Forgotten Story is another of my favorites. I dig the steel drums in this one, which gives this track a very different feel from the others. The section where the steel drum is essentially the lead instrument is wonderful.  That's Robert Greenidge on steel drums.  Mike Burch is on drums on this track.

"Opening Sky"

Elemental Journey concludes with "Opening Sky," which has moments of beauty.  This is a slower, more thoughtful piece, and in some ways is the most emotionally satisfying track on the album.

CD Track List
  1. Gaia Tribe
  2. For You And Forever
  3. Heavy Heart Rising
  4. Wonderide
  5. Passionola
  6. Letting Go
  7. Elemental Journey
  8. Brave New Girl
  9. Forgotten Story
  10. Reckless Beauty
  11. Opening Sky

Musicians on this album include Sonny Landreth on guitars, David Ranson on bass, Steve Conn on keyboards, Brian Brignac on drums, Doug Belote on drums, and Mike Burch on drums.

Elemental Journey is scheduled to be released on May 22, 2012 on Landfall Records.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Albert King: "I'll Play The Blues For You" (1972/2012 re-issue) CD Review

Albert King's incredible 1972 album I'll Play The Blues For You is being re-issued as part of the Stax Remasters series. This special re-issue includes four bonus tracks, all of which were previously unreleased (more than twenty minutes of extra music). This has become one of my favorite blues albums.

"I'll Play The Blues For You"

I'll Play The Blues For You opens with its title track, a song that is so cool, so smooth. It's the blues as a love song, like some serious (and seriously loving) foreplay.  The first lines are, "If you're done and out, and you feel real hurt/Come on over to the place where I work/And all your loneliness I'll try to soothe/I'll play the blues for you." It's sexy and intimate, in Albert King's vocal delivery and in the overall vibe of the song.

This song has a sweet spoken word section ("Come on in, sit right here, let's rap a while/You see, I'm kinda lonely too").  The guitar solo doesn't get too wild or loud, but rather sticks with the great vibe of the song, and is just perfect. And I love that he says, "Excuse me" before starting it.  There is also some really nice work by The Memphis Horns.

"I'll Play The Blues For You" was written by Jerry Beach.  It was released as a single, though cut into two parts, as the song is more than seven minutes long.

An alternate version is included in the bonus tracks, and I might actually prefer that one.  It doesn't have the spoken word section, but still contains little bits of spoken word, like "How are you feeling now?" and "Can you feel it?"  And it's longer, at nearly nine minutes.  In this case, the more the better.

"Little Brother (Make A Way)"

"Little Brother (Make A Way)" is a fun bit of mellow funk, that opens with a spoken word section: "Now you young folks is raving about how bad you want to be free.  But I want to tell you what it was like in my day for an old man like me. Are you ready for this?" Yes, oh yes.  This song has such a good groove, and it features more smooth vocals from Albert King.  The lyrics are serious, but ultimately it's a very positive tune.  This one fades out too soon.  I could easily use another three or four minutes of this one.

"Little Brother (Make A Way)" was written by Henry Bush, Marshall Jones and Carl Smith.

"Breaking Up Somebody's Home"

"Breaking Up Somebody's Home" is possibly the most famous tune on the album. It was released as a single, which reached #35 on the R&B chart (and #91 on the pop chart). It was co-written by Al Jackson Jr. who played drums in Booker T & The MGs, and it has that kind of Booker T groove to it.

Albert King really sinks his teeth into this tune, finding all sorts of great places to play within its beat and structure.  At more than seven minutes, the song also finds room for a nice funky section four minutes in that is completely delicious.  And once again, his vocals are really smooth.  Here is a taste of the lyrics: "I've got nowhere to turn to/Tired of being alone/I feel like breaking up somebody's home.

Ann Peebles was the first artist to record this song.  It was also covered by Bette Midler, Bob Seger, and Etta James.

"High Cost Of Loving"

"High Cost Of Loving" is a more serious and tough-sounding blues tune about the expense of keeping a woman happy.  Albert King sings, "I bought you a leather coat, you said you wanted a mink." (Hey, I want a mink.)  And then, "The high cost of loving is getting higher every day/It seems like the less I make, lord, the more I have to pay."  I love that he adds, sort of under his breath, "I ain't got no money/Yeah, but I'm a good lover."

"High Cost Of Loving" was written by Allen Jones and Sherwin Hamlett.

"Don't Burn Down The Bridge ('Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across)"

"Don't Burn Down The Bridge ('Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across)" is a great blues tune, with a delicious groove, and some wonderful, spirited work on horns. This is one of those tracks that makes you want to turn up the volume and dance around your home. Give yourself some elbow room and shake yourself out (Maybe move the breakable stuff to a safer distance first).

And when it's over, don't worry, because there is an alternate version in the bonus tracks.  This version is rougher and doesn't include the horn section, but still has a great energy. (Though I do prefer the first version.)

Bonus Tracks

The other two bonus tracks are "I Need A Love" and "Albert's Stomp."  The first is a funky tune with some great stuff on horns and bass, and of course some fantastic licks on guitar.

The second is a cool instrumental tune written by Albert King.  It's the only instrumental track on this release.

CD Track List
  1. I'll Play The Blues For You
  2. Little Brother (Make A Way)
  3. Breaking Up Somebody's Home
  4. High Cost Of Loving
  5. I'll Be Doggone
  6. Answer To The Laundromat Blues
  7. Don't Burn Down The Bridge ('Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across)
  8. Angel Of Mercy
  9. I'll Play The Blues For You (Alternate Version)
  10. Don't Burn Down The Bridge ('Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across) (Alternate Version)
  11. I Need A Love
  12. Albert's Stomp
This special re-issue of I'll Play The Blues For You is scheduled to be released on May 22, 2012 through Concord Music Group.  Last year Concord Music Group released The Definitive Albert King On Stax.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Parker, Gillespie, Powell, Roach, Mingus: "The Quintet: Jazz At Massey Hall" (1953/2012 re-issue) CD Review

Concord Music Group is releasing a special re-issue of The Quintet: Jazz At Massey Hall as part of its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series.  Featuring five of the most well known names in music (Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Charlie Mingus), this disc contains some amazing performances.  Recorded on May 15, 1953 at Massey Hall in Toronto, this is one of the most famous concerts in the history of jazz.

And yet the venue was less than half full.  That's completely insane.  The reason given was that a heavyweight boxing match was scheduled for the same night.  It's impossible for me to imagine someone (anyone) preferring to watch two men punch each other than experience five insanely talented musicians playing their hearts out together. (People choosing violence over joy frightens me.) After all, this was a one-time thing.  These guys weren't touring as a group or anything.  A small group of Canadian jazz fans organized this show.

Charles Mingus taped this concert, and originally released it on his own label, Debut Records.  There are no bonus tracks because apparently this was it - this is everything that the five musicians played together on that one night (though there was other music performed).


This incredible quintet kicked off the show with "Perdido," written by Juan Tizol. This song has a nice swinging groove, and is a fun tune to start the night.  You can hear the audience totally digging it. They seem well aware of what a momentous occasion this concert was. 

The bass seems really prominent in the mix, even over Bud Powell's piano lead section.  (In the liner notes, it says there was a single stage microphone to capture all five musicians, and that the bass was lost, and so Mingus overdubbed some of his parts later.) 

This song has an abrupt ending. I wonder if the original tapes could be consulted to see if those extra seconds could be added back in.  It doesn't seem like we're missing any of the song, but the exact moment it ends, the disc then goes into the introduction of the second song.  It would be great to have every second of this performance, even the space between songs.

"Salt Peanuts"

"Salt Peanuts" includes a spoken intro to the song by Charlie Parker. After saying that Dizzy Gillespie wrote it, he adds, "We sincerely hope you do enjoy Salt Peanuts."  Oh yes, how couldn't I? "Salt Peanuts" is a very silly and deliciously fun tune, with interruptions of "salt peanuts, sale peanuts" near the beginning.  This song features a quick tempo, and some high-spirited playing.  It really sounds like these guy were having a phenomenal time, and totally grooving off of one another.  There is a very cool extended drum solo just before the end, and another shout of "salt peanuts, salt peanuts"

"Salt Peanuts" was written by Dizzy Gillespie and Kenny Clarke. 

"All The Things You Are/52nd Street Theme"

Things relax a bit with Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are," which is actually rather pretty and sweet. I really like Gillespie's playing on this track.  "All The Things You Are" was written for the musical Very Warm For May.

"All The Things You Are" slides into Thelonious Monk's "52nd Street Theme" right near the end of the track.

"Wee (Allen's Alley)"

"Wee (Allen's Alley)" is another quick-paced gem. This one moves with a wonderfully manic energy.  This track is delicious.  Gillespie is screaming at angels, and man, it's bloody awesome. There is a fantastic drum solo by Max Roach near at end, and it continues the manic pace. The crowd, of course, eats it up.  You will too.

Written by Denzil Best, this is one of the best pieces of recorded music I've ever heard.

"Hot House"

There is a brief spoken intro to "Hot House," a tune written by Tadd Dameron. Man, this one has such a cool vibe that it actually makes you feel like a cooler person just from having listened to it.  Charlie Parker gets pretty close to the microphone at one point, which is great, especially for those of us who want to immerse ourselves in this music, get closer and closer, have these guys play right into our brains.  Gillespie doesn't seem to get as close, but plays as loud as if he were right there.  And then Bud Powell's lead section is just terrific.  Charles Mingus then takes a turn at lead, which is also wonderful.

"A Night In Tunisia"

This CD closes with "A Night In Tunisia," which also has a brief intro.  Written by Dizzy Gillespie, this is the tune most familiar to me, one I've long loved. And this rendition is truly incredible.  Dizzy Gillespie is particularly impressive on this track.  And this one features some of the most joyful playing by Bud Powell.

CD Track List
  1. Perdido
  2. Salt Peanuts
  3. All The Things You Are/52nd Street Theme
  4. Wee (Allen's Alley)
  5. Hot House
  6. A Night In Tunisia

The five musicians on this album are Charlie Parker on alto saxophone, Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, Bud Powell on piano, Charles Mingus on bass, and Max Roach on drums.

This special re-issue of The Quintet: Jazz At Massey Hall is scheduled to be released on May 15, 2012 as part of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series.  Also being released that day are The Bill Evans Trio's Moonbeams and Thelonious Monk Quartet's Misterioso.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thelonious Monk Quartet: "Misterioso" (1958/2012 re-issue) CD Review

Concord Music Group is releasing a special re-issue of Thelonious Monk Quartet's 1958 album Misterioso as part of its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series.  This series has already given us re-issues of Thelonious Monk's Thelonious Alone In San Francisco and Monk's Music.

Misterioso is a live recording from the summer of 1958 at The Five Spot Cafe in New York City.  It features Johnny Griffin on tenor sax (listen to him fly in the incredible version of "In Walked Bud" included on this disc). And of course it features some amazing playing by Thelonious Monk.  One thing I love is that Monk's playing is always surprising - to us, and, it seems, often to himself.  So his music always has a great lively, youthful feel.

Most of these songs had been recorded by Thelonious Monk before and released on earlier albums.  All of these tracks were written or co-written by Monk, with the sole exception of "Just A Gigolo."

This special re-issue contains three bonus tracks, for a total of more than twenty-eight extra minutes of music.


Misterioso kicks off with "Nutty," a strange tune that at first sounds a bit off, like it's not quite put together correctly.  But quickly its unusual structure, its seeming disjointedness becomes part of its charm.  I particularly like Johnny Griffin's work on sax.  It seems he's the one who decides to take over and put the tune on track, and then goes a little nuts himself.  When he takes a breather, the song becomes softer, with a steady rhythm by Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass and Roy Haynes on drums.  And Monk takes the lead spot on piano.

"Blues Five Spot"

"Blues Five Spot" begins with just piano, seeming just the slightest bit hesitant. But the song very quickly finds a great, lively groove.  And again it's Johnny Griffin who jumps in front, taking the lead, and after a few minutes, everyone else drops out for a moment so he can solo.  His is a playful (and even a bit silly) solo.  But my favorite part of this composition is when Griffin takes a break, and Thelonious Monk takes the lead.  He then soon fades to the background so that Ahmed Abdul-Malik can take a lead spot on bass.  Very cool.  That leads to a drum solo. 

"Blues Five Spot" is one of my favorite tracks.  It has such a great vibe.

"Just A Gigolo"

The only cover on this album is "Just A Gigolo," written by Irving Caesar, Leonello Casucci and Julius Brammer.  This is also the only track that is Thelonious Monk playing solo.  It's also the shortest track, at just over two minutes. You can hear a lot of the crowd noise at the venue on this track.


The album's title track, "Misterioso," is a song that Monk originally recorded a decade earlier for Blue Note.  It's a wonderful tune, with a simple, yet catchy bass line by Abdul-Malik.  It's one of Monk's excellent blues pieces. And this version features great stuff from Johnny Griffin.  There is some interesting work on drums by Roy Haynes too - for a short moment his sharp hits on the snare seem like repeated attacks, gun shots.  And then seven and a half minutes in, Monk takes the lead.  And then the song eventually ends where it began.

Bonus Tracks

This re-issue has three bonus tracks.  The first is "Evidence."  This song, for me, feels tense at times, partly because of the forceful way it's played in conjunction with its quick tempo.  Toward the end there is a drum solo, heavily favoring the snare, and with some interesting chops.

The second bonus track is "'Round Midnight," probably Monk's most famous composition, which he co-wrote with Cootie Williams and Bernie Hanighen.  This is a wonderful rendition.

The final bonus track is a medley of "Bye-Ya" and "Epistrophy."  Art Blakey plays drums on this track, and there is a great drum solo.  By the way, according to my trusty dictionary, "epistrophy" means "in botany, a return to or toward a normal state from an abnormal."  Hmmm.

CD Track List
  1. Nutty
  2. Blues Five Spot
  3. Let's Cool One
  4. In Walked Bud
  5. Just A Gigolo
  6. Misterioso
  7. Evidence
  8. 'Round Midnight
  9. Medley: Bye-Ya/Epistrophy

Thelonious Monk Quartet, at the time of this recording, was Thelonious Monk on piano, Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone, Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass, and Roy Haynes on drums.  Art Blakey plays drums on the final track.

This special re-issue of Misterioso is scheduled to be released on May 15, 2012 as part of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series.  Also being released that day are The Bill Evans Trio's Moonbeams and Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powerll, Max Roach and Charles Mingus' The Quintet: Jazz At Massey Hall.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Leonard Cohen North American Tour Dates

This morning, the tour dates were announced for the North American leg of Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas world tour.  That's excellent news for anyone who lives in this part of the world and has taste in music (and has a bit of cash saved up).  I managed to catch eight shows during his previous world tour (2008 - 2010), and these were some of the best experiences of my life (not just music-related experiences, but experiences period).

Here are the dates:

October 31 - Austin, TX - Bass Concert Hall
November 3 - Denver, CO - 1st Bank Center
November 5 - Los Angeles, CA - Nokia Theatre
November 7 - San Jose, CA - HP Pavilion
November 9 - Seattle, WA - Key Arena
November 11 - Portland, OR - Rose Garden
November 12 - Vancouver, BC - Rogers Arena
November 16 - Calgary, AB - Scotiabank Saddledome
November 18 - Edmonton, AB - Rexall Place
November 20 - Saskatoon, SK - Credit Union Centre
November 23 - Chicago, IL - Akoo Theatre
November 26 - Detroit, MI - Fox Theatre
November 28 - Montreal, QC - Bell Centre
December 2 - Quebec City, QC - Colisee Pepsi
December 4 - Toronto, ON - Air Canada Centre
December 7 - Ottawa, ON - Scotiabank Place
December 11 - London, ON - John Labatt Centre
December 13 - Kingston, ON - K-Rock Centre
December 15 - Boston, MA - The Wang Theatre
December 18 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
December 20 - Brooklyn, NY - Barclays Center

The Bill Evans Trio: "Moonbeams" (1962/2012 re-issue) CD Review

Concord Music Group is releasing a special re-issue of The Bill Evans Trio's 1962 album Moonbeams as part of its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series.  This series has already given us re-issues of The Bill Evans Trio's Waltz For Debby (2010) and Explorations (2011).

Moonbeams is an album of slower tunes recorded in May and June of 1962.

There is something so clear and perfect in Bill Evans' playing, in his style. Yet at the same time these recordings have a loose, introspective feel. There is a certain spontaneity to even the slowest of songs that makes them  lively. His playing is never dull, no matter the tempo.

This special re-issue includes three bonus tracks, all of which were previously unreleased.

"Re: Person I Knew"

"Re-Person I Knew" begins as a late-night soft tune, like at a club after it's closed, with a piano player who is reluctant to go home.  But when the other musicians come in, it changes. It has a sometimes-uneven rhythm that catches you off guard at times, with its odd starts. And then it features a nice, soft section with the bass taking lead.  This was Bill Evans' new bass player, Chuck Israels, who joined The Bill Evans Trio after the death of Scott LaFaro.

"Re: Person I Knew" was written by Bill Evans.  Interestingly, its title is an anagram of the sessions' producer, Orrin Keepnews.

"Polka Dots And Moonbeams"

Bill Evans has such a light touch, feeling his way through the beginning of "Polka Dots And Moonbeams." And then a couple of minutes in, his playing becomes brighter. You can sense his changing emotions - it's all there in his playing. There is nothing hidden.  And at times, there is a certain sweetness to this recording.

A slightly shorter take of this song is included in the bonus tracks.  It features some playful, joyful work by Bill Evans, as well as the other two musicians who follow him.

"Polka Dots And Moonbeams" was written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen.

"I Fall In Love Too Easily"

"I Fall In Love Too Easily" features very light, sparse playing by drummer Paul Motian. And Chuck Israels' bass is mostly in background. This track is mainly Bill Evans, who seems to have mixed feelings about falling in love so easily.  At first, it seems like maybe he's alone and lonely (as if his love went unrequited), but toward the end, it seems things are turning around.

An alternate take is included in the bonus tracks.  "I Fall In Love Too Easily" was written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, and was featured in the 1945 film Anchors Away.  It was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to "It Might As Well Be Spring," a song which, interestingly, The Bill Evans Trio also covers on this album.

"In Love In Vain"

This CD includes a really good, mellow, slow rendition of "In Love In Vain," a song written by Jerome Kern and Leo Robin

"Very Early"

The original album concluded with "Very Early," a song composed by Bill Evans.  It's one of the brightest tracks on this release, feeling lighter.  And it features probably the most interesting work on bass by Chuck Israels on this disc.  At moments, he's playing alongside Bill Evans rather than under him.

A shorter version of this song is included in the bonus tracks.  It's a truly pretty rendition at the start, and has the same bright energy as the other, earlier take.

CD Track List
  1. Re: Person I Knew
  2. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
  3. I Fall In Love Too Easily
  4. Stairway To The Stars
  5. If You Could See Me Now
  6. It Might As Well Be Spring
  7. In Love In Vain
  8. Very Early
  9. Polka Dots And Moonbeams (Take 3)
  10. I Fall In Love Too Easily (Take 3)
  11. Very Early (Take 10)

The Bill Evans Trio, at the time of these recordings, was Bill Evans on piano, Chuck Israels on bass, and Paul Motian on drums.

This special re-issue is scheduled to be released on May 15, 2012 as part of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series.  Also being released that day are Thelonious Monk's Misterioso and Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powerll, Max Roach and Charles Mingus' The Quintet: Jazz At Massey Hall.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Stephane Wrembel: "Origins" (2012) CD Review

The first track of Stephane Wrembel's new CD, Origins, is really good. The second is impressive.  It was during the third track when I basically lost whatever poise or composure I had, and exclaimed aloud, repeatedly and to myself and to the music, "Holy moly!"  Basically, my head exploded.

Sometimes I prefer listening to instrumental music because the songs can be about whatever I wish them to be (to a certain extent, that is), and I can let them relate to my own life. And sometimes I prefer instrumental music because I don't want someone else's words interfering with my own thoughts (like if I'm working on a story).  And sometimes I prefer instrumental music just because it's beautiful.  But every once in a while something unexpected happens, and the music takes hold and takes you on a journey all its own.  You just have to surrender, and float along with the tunes, and sometimes no greater joy can be had than by doing just that.  And that's what I experienced listening to Origins.

Somewhere in the eighth song I'd left my body completely, making writing a rather difficult endeavor - if I had any thoughts I could express anyway.

You know how they say it's really difficult to think without words.  I have found that to be true.  Whenever I think, my thoughts take the form of words.  But the music on this disc obliterates thought (in a most joyous way).  Or creates a whole new realm of thought, where words aren't necessary, where they're alien and crude.  Obviously, there are no lyrics, so the music isn't expressed in words.  But it has an effect on the listener, making words unnecessary for him or her too.  It's like communication on a more pure level.  Of course, here I am, writing about it, putting it into words.  Sorry.

I know a lot of people are aware of Stephane Wrembel because of his performance during the Academy Awards. I didn't watch the Oscars (I couldn't be less interested in awards shows), but I did see Midnight In Paris, and loved it.  It was one of my favorite films from last year, and the music was wonderful.  The theme that Stephane Wrembel wrote for that film is included on this disc (it's titled "Bistro Fada," and is the seventh track).  Woody Allen used Wrembel's music before - his song "Big Brother" is featured in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

At times, Stephane Wrembel's playing reminds me a bit of Javier Mas (who recently toured with Leonard Cohen). He's in that same realm, with the same mastery and ecstasy in his playing. The other musicians on this album are all excellent as well, and there are times when I was blown away by Nick Anderson's jazz drumming. My only criticism or complaint is this: I could do without the laughter at the end of "The Selfish Gene." It felt intrusive, and somehow broke the spell (if only momentarily).

CD Track List
  1. The Voice From The Desert
  2. Momentum
  3. The Edge
  4. Tsunami
  5. Minuit Aux Batignolles
  6. Prometheus
  7. Bistro Fada
  8. Water Is Life
  9. The Selfish Gene
  10. Voyager (For Carl Sagan)
  11. Les Puces Des Batignolles
  12. Vox Populi
  13. Train D'enfer
  14. Carbon 14

Musicians on this album include Stephane Wrembel on acoustic guitar and 12-string guitar, Koran Hasanagic on rhythm guitar, Dave Speranza on acoustic bass, David Langlois on washboard and percussion, and Nick Anderson on drums.

Origins is scheduled to be released on May 15, 2012.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chris Smither: "Hundred Dollar Valentine" (2012) CD Review

I got turned onto Chris Smither in the very early 1990s back in Boston, when he was already attracting a loyal audience.  Then a few years later I was working as a DJ in Oregon when Up On The Lowdown came out.  That's an album I really enjoyed, and we played the hell out of it (particularly its title track). If anything, Chris Smither has only gotten better since then.  His new studio release, Hundred Dollar Valentine (his fifteenth album) features good, well-structured songs, and his honest delivery.  There is something understated in these performances, nothing flashy. This is some of the best stuff Chris Smither has put out. 

There is a definite blues base to most of this material, as you might expect, but these are not simple blues tracks.  Obviously there is a heavy folk influence.  But it's not just that.  Listening to a track like "All We Need To Know," you hear a mix of genres and influences that add up to something that's all his own.  It's partly the musicians he's gathered for this release, including Kris Delmhorst on cello (I'm always a sucker for cello) and Ian Kennedy on violin.

By the way, Hundred Dollar Valentine has a "hidden track," though it's not really hidden, just not mentioned on the track list.  All songs on this release are originals.

"Hundred Dollar Valentine"

The album kicks off with its title track. This is loose acoustic blues, almost like a jug band playing blues (partly because of the way Billy Conway plays the drums on this track), and includes a count-off at the beginning.  Though this song has the great ol' back porch feel, and a timeless theme - how life is a mess when you're missing that special someone -  its lyrics show it to be a modern song, particularly in the line "I had a lighter in my carry-on/But the airline took it away."  I'm also fond of the line, "I called a taxi 'bout an hour ago,/But I think he's lost in the rain." And the backing vocals by Anita Suhanin are wonderful.

"On The Edge"

"On The Edge" is an interesting tune that creates its own world, has its own feel. It starts off seeming like it's promising to be a love song, with the guy stopping by to make sure the other person is all right. But by the end of the first verse, he sings, "We're dancing on the edge of the stage, it won't be long before we fall/The dance is the thing, the fall just brings us the news/That we don't get no curtain call." And by then, we know this is no simple song, no simple story.  In a verse about a clown is this line: "Funny ain't a joke to him, it's the heart and soul of all he'll be."  Nice.

"What It Might Have Been"

"What It Might Have Been" is closer to being straight acoustic blues, with some nice work on harmonica. But like a lot of Chris Smither's work, it's the lyrics that really make this song.  "It ain't what I know that makes me blue/It's what I thought I knew."  It's a strange song of acceptance tinged with sorrow. "I've learned that losin' is part of the game."  This is one of my favorites.

"What They Say"

"What They Say" is a lighter, more fun tune.  Like the opening track, this one has a loose, back porch feel.  Its opening lines are "They say the good die young, but it ain't for certain,/I been good all day, and I ain't hurtin.'"  What a great way to begin a song.  Robin Smither plays violin on this track, and in the liner notes it says "Introducing Robin Smither," so apparently it's his daughter's first appearance on an album.

"Place In Line"

"Place In Line" is a song about growing up, learning what everyone comes to learn - that we never really learn anything. "And now tomorrow's just your grand plan for yesterday."  This one features a nice mix of Chris' vocals with Anita's vocals throughout the song. This song offers some advice: "don't hold on too tight/Loosen your shoes, don't listen to news/That keeps you up at night/Don't try to explain, try not to complain, no one really cares."  And yet it's not a lonesome song - mostly because of the presence of female as well as male vocals. That keeps it from being sad.  Really, it actually has a hopeful, positive feel somehow.

"Every Mother's Son"

"Every Mother's Son" is a folk song about a man who becomes violent and kills six people before being killed himself. But it addresses the man's mother.  "You think too fast, yes, you love too slow/You know, you needn't feel that you're the only one."


The CD's "hidden track" is "Rosalie."  Chris Smither's voice is rougher on this track, which was apparently recorded late at night.  It's a good tune.  At the end, there is a bit of conversation.  Chris says he wrote it "thirty-five, forty years ago" and hasn't sung it on stage in years.

CD Track List
  1. Hundred Dollar Valentine
  2. On The Edge
  3. What It Might Have Been
  4. What They Say
  5. All We Need To Know
  6. Make Room For Me
  7. I Feel The Same
  8. Place In Line
  9. Feeling By Degrees
  10. Every Mother's Son
  11. Rosalie

Musicians appearing on this CD include Chris Smither on vocals and guitar; Billy Conway on drums and percussion; Kris Delmhorst on cello; Jimmy Fitting on harmonica; David Goodrich on slide guitar, diddley bo and xylophone; Ian Kennedy on violin; and Anita Suhanin on vocals.  David Goodrich also produced it.

Hundred Dollar Valentine is scheduled to be released on June 19, 2012.

May 2012 Concert Calendar

Here is a list of concerts you might be interested in for the month of May. 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.

May 1, 2012  (Tuesday)
Paul Brady  -  The Stables, Milton Keynes, UK
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club Gallery, Austin, TX

May 2, 2012  (Wednesday)
Paul Brady  -  Assembly, Leamington Spa, UK
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club, Austin, TX 
Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster  -   Acadiana Center for the Arts,  Lafayette, LA

May 3, 2012  (Thursday)
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  The Evening Muse, Charlotte, NC
Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster  -   House of Blues, New Orleans, LA

May 4, 2012  (Friday)
7 Walkers  -  Republic New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Anita And The Yanks  -  Ireland's 32, Van Nuys, CA  -  9:30 p.m.
Paul Brady  -  The Arc, Stockton, UK
David Bromberg  -  Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center,  York, PA
Lindsey Buckingham  -  The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA
Moot Davis  -  Blue Moon Saloon, Lafayette, LA
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  Albino Skunkfest, Greer, SC
Ellis Paul  -  Leon Memorial Hall, Adam State College, Alamosa, CO
Martin Sexton  -  Irving Plaza, New York, NY
Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster  -  Manship Theatre, Baton Rouge, LA
Christopher Williams  -  Wesleyan Church, Ellington, CT -  7 p.m.
Keller Williams  -  Cox Capitol Theatre, Macon, GA

May 5, 2012  (Saturday)
Big Head Todd And The Monsters  -  Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT
Paul Brady  -  The Sage,  Gateshead, UK
David Bromberg  -  The Grand, Wilmington, DE
Marshall Chapman  -  The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, TN  -  9:30 p.m.
Moot Davis  -  Rockett Cafe, Waxahachie, TX
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  French Broad River Festival, Hot Springs, NC  -  8:00 p.m.
Los Lobos  -  Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Ellis Paul  - Curry House Concert, Las Cruces, NM
Martin Sexton  -  Irving Plaza, New York, NY
Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster  -  Mississippi State University - MSU Riley Center for the Performing Arts, Meridian, MS
The Whooligans  -  The Auld Dubliner, Long Beach, CA  -  10:00 p.m.
Christopher Williams  -  Pilgrim Congr Church, Merrimac, MA -  7 p.m.
Keller Williams  -  Vinyl Music Hall, Pensacola, FL

May 6, 2012  (Sunday)
Paul Brady  -  The Artrix, Bromsgrove, UK
Ruthie Foster  -  The Maple Leaf, New Orleans, LA
Ellis Paul  -  Academy of Music and Dance, First Christian Church, 1809 El Taseo, Las Cruces, NM  -  4:00 p.m.
Special family show
Christopher Williams -  Eastern Hills Church, Manlius, NY -  6 p.m.

May 7, 2012  (Monday)
Mickey Hart Band  -  Tower Theatre, Bend, OR

May 8, 2012  (Tuesday)
Paul Brady  -  Assembly, London Islington, UK
Mickey Hart Band  -  Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, BC
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club Gallery, Austin, TX 

May 9, 2012  (Wednesday)
Paul Brady  -  Junction, Cambridge, UK
The Evangenitals  -  Villains Tavern, Los Angeles, CA  - 9:00 p.m.
Mickey Hart Band  -  Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club, Austin, TX 

May 10, 2012  (Thursday)
Paul Brady  -  The Fleece,  Bristol, UK
The Evangenitals  -  L.A. Artwalk, Los Angeles, CA
Mickey Hart Band  -  Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks  -  Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, CA
Moonalice  -  Applegate River Lodge, Applegate, OR
Christopher Williams  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  7 p.m.

May 11, 2012  (Friday)
The Dunwells  -  Wardrobe, Leeds, United Kingdom
Dean Fields  -  House Show, Lynchburg, VA
Ruthie Foster  -  South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, South Milwaukee, WI
Mickey Hart Band  -  Ashland Armory, Ashland, OR
I See Hawks In L.A.  - Cinema Bar, Culver City, CA  -  10:00 p.m.
James McMurtry  -   Floore's Country Store, Helotes, TX
Moonalice  -  Mt. Tabor Theatre, Portland, OR
Ellis Paul  -  The Crow's Nest, 150 Maysville St, Presque Isle, ME
Christopher Williams  -  225, Colorado Springs, CO  -  7:30 p.m.

May 12, 2012  (Saturday)
Big Head Todd And The Monsters  -  House of Blues, Myrtle Beach SC
Paul Brady  -  City Hall, Salisbury, UK
David Bromberg Quartet  -   The Mockingbird Roots Music Hall, Staunton, VA
Marshall Chapman  -  Peerless Books, Alpharetta, GA  -  6:30 p.m.
Dean Fields  -  Luther Cafe, Cary, NC
Ruthie Foster  -  Thrasher Opera House, Green Lake, WI
Mickey Hart Band  -  Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA
James McMurtry  -  Lola's,  Ft. Worth, TX
Moonalice  -  Domino Room, Bend, OR
Ellis Paul  -  Stone Soup Coffeehouse, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 50 Park Place, Pawtucket, RI
with special guest Chris Trapper
The Whooligans  -  Dublin Square, San Diego, CA
Christopher Williams  -  Boulder Center for Conscious Community, Boulder, CO

May 13, 2012  (Sunday)
David Bromberg  -  Lake Eden Arts Festival,  Black Mountain, NC
Moonalice  -  W.O.W. Hall, Eugene, OR

May 14, 2012  (Monday)
Mickey Hart Band  -  The Wilma Theater, Missoula, MT
James McMurtry  -  Massey Hall, Toronto, ON
(Leonard Cohen Tribute Concert)

May 15, 2012  (Tuesday)
Mickey Hart Band  - Knitting Factory, Boise, ID
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club Gallery, Austin, TX 

May 16, 2012  (Wednesday)
Mickey Hart Band  -  The State Room, Salt Lake City, UT
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club, Austin, TX 
Moonalice  -   Union Square Live, San Francisco, CA

May 17, 2012  (Thursday)
Marshall Chapman  -  Hard Rock Cafe, Nashville, TN  -  8:00 p.m.
Gaelic Storm  -   Admiral Theatre,  Bremerton, WA
Mickey Hart Band  -  The Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO
Ellis Paul and Vance Gilbert  -  Ram's Head On Stage, 33 West Street, Annapolis, MD
Stephane Wrembel  -  Joe Pub, New York, NY

May 18, 2012  (Friday)
Ruthie Foster  -  Cherokee Creek Music Festival, Cherokee, TX
Gaelic Storm  -  Edmonds Center for the Arts,  Edmonds, WA
Moonalice  -  Golden Sails Hotel, Long Beach, CA
Ellis Paul  -  Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette St., New York, NY
Chris Smither  -  Camp Jam in the Pines, Monroeville, NJ
Keller Williams  -  Dominion Riverrock, Richmond, VA
Stephane Wrembel  -  Brooklyn Folk Festival, Brooklyn, NY

May 19, 2012  (Saturday)
Ruthie Foster  -  Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival, Annapolis, MD
Gaelic Storm  -  Broadway Center for the Performing Arts  Tacoma, WA
Mickey Hart Band  -  Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  London Gastropub, Monrovia, CA
Ellis Paul  -  Landmark on Main Street, 232 Main St., Port Washington, NY
Chris Smither  -  The Regent Theatre, Arlington, MA  -  8 p.m.
Tickets: $23 advance/$28 at door
The String Cheese Incident  -  Hangout Music Festival, Gulf Shores, AL
The Whooligans  -  The Auld Dubliner, Long Beach, CA
Keller Williams  -  DrumSTRONG, Charlotte, NC

May 20, 2012  (Sunday)
Ruthie Foster  -  Charlie West Blues Fest, Charleston, WV
Mickey Hart Band  -  Sainte Rocke, Hermosa Beach, CA
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  Topanga Banjo And Fiddle Contest, Camarillo, CA
Moonalice  -   Civic Park, Hanford, CA
Free show
Ellis Paul  -  The Vanilla Bean, Corner of Rts. 44, 169 & 97, Pomfret, CT
Chris Smither  -  One Longfellow Square, Portland, ME  -  8 p.m.
Stephane Wrembel  -  Barbes, Brooklyn, NY

May 21, 2012  (Monday)
The Dunwells  -  Borderline, London, United Kingdom

May 22, 2012  (Tuesday)
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club Gallery, Austin, TX 
Christopher Williams  -  Fellowship Bible, Brentwood, TN

May 23, 2012  (Wednesday)
David Bromberg  -   Basilica Palladiana, Vicenza, VI, Italy
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club, Austin, TX

May 24, 2012  (Thursday)
David Bromberg  -  Auditorium Modernissimo, Nembro, Italy
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  The Ugly Mug, Santa Cruz, CA
Yonder Mountain String Band  -  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA

May 25, 2012  (Friday)
David Bromberg and Jorma Kaukonen -   Acoustic Guitar Meeting, Sarzana, Italy
Marshall Chapman  -  7th Annual Hippie Jack May Festival, Crawford, TN  -  4:25 p.m.
The Dunwells  -  Cragfest - Main Stage, Skipton, United Kingdom
Gaelic Storm  -  Summer Camp at Three Sisters Park,  Chillicothe, IL
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  Strawberry Music Festival, Jamestown, CA  -  3:00 p.m.
Keller Williams  -  Summer Camp, Chillicothe, IL
Yonder Mountain String Band  - DelFest, Cumberland, MD

May 26, 2012  (Saturday)
Entrain  -  Theater in the Wood, North Conway, NH
Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks  -  The Soiled Dove Underground, Denver, CO
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  Strawberry Music Festival, Jamestown, CA  -  5:45 p.m.
Ellis Paul  -  Kerrville Folk Festival, Quiet Valley Ranch, Kerrville, TX  -  10:30 a.m.
Special family show
Ellis Paul  -  Kerrville Folk Festival, Quiet Valley Ranch, Kerrville, TX  -  7:00 p.m.
Keller Williams  -  DelFest, Cumberland, MD
Yonder Mountain String Band  -  Hookahville, Thornville, OH

May 27, 2012  (Sunday)
Marshall Chapman  -  Sounds Stadium, Nashville, TN
Moot Davis  -  Chesterwood Antique & Classic Car Show, Stockbridge, MA
Ruthie Foster  -  Strawberry Music Festival, Yosemite, CA
Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks  -  Meandowgrass Music Festival, Colorado Springs, CO
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  Studio E, Sebastopol, CA  -  7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $22
James McMurtry  -   Hidden Cove Marina, Lake Lewisville, TX
Patrolled By Radar  -  SoCal Singer Songwriter Tribute, Cinema Bar, Culver City, CA
Ellis Paul  -  Kerrville Folk Festival, Quiet Valley Ranch, Kerrville, TX  -  10:30 a.m.
Special family show
The Whooligans  -  Nadine's Irish Mist, Sunset Beach, CA
Keller Williams  -  Jam on the River, Philadelphia, PA
Yonder Mountain String Band  -   Summercamp, Chillicothe, IL

May 28, 2012  (Monday)
Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks  -  Sol Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM

May 29, 2012  (Tuesday)
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  Laurel Thirst Pub, Portland, OR  -  9:00 p.m.
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club Gallery, Austin, TX 

May 30, 2012  (Wednesday)
James McMurtry  -  Continental Club, Austin, TX 
Bonnie Raitt and Chris Smither  -  Hampton Beach Casino, Hampton Beach, NH
Stephane Wrembel  -  The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI

May 31, 2012  (Thursday)
I See Hawks In L.A.  -  Triple Door Musiquarium Lounge, Seattle, WA
James McMurtry  -  Shady Grove, Austin, TX
Moonalice  -  The Coach House,  San Juan Capistrano, CA
Keller Williams  -  Wakarusa, Ozark, AR

May 2012 Update (With Links To All Reviews)

Howdy, everybody. At the beginning of each month, I'll include a link to the blog entry that lists all of my articles, arranged by subject, so that they're easy to find. That link is this:

List Of All My Music Articles

I add to that blog each time I post a new review.

It's been my intention with this blog to let people know about all the great music that's out there. So I tend to write about CDs and bands that I like. Sure, there might be an exception now and again. But I have no desire to tear apart some new band that's out there struggling to find a fan base. What I want to do is let people know about new bands they might not have heard of yet, and to remind them of some bands they might have forgotten. And to keep people up-to-date with all the great new releases, as well as concert listings. Basically, to share my love of music with anyone who cares to read this.

The big news today is that the Leonard Cohen North American tour dates are going to announced on Wednesday.  I'm hoping he'll be performing somewhere near me, and I'm hoping to suddenly come into a lot of money, because these tickets are going to be expensive.