Monday, August 27, 2012

Guy Forsyth: "The Freedom To Fail" (2012) CD Review

Guy Forsyth's new CD, The Freedom To Fail, is a fairly positive album, with songs that contain some good messages while managing to refrain from straying into cheesy or superficial or preachy territory. That's a difficult line to walk, and Guy Forsyth succeeds.  Most of these songs are really good, and some of them you can sink into emotionally.  And one of these tracks, "The Things That Matter," is among my favorites of the year.

Guy Forsyth dips into various musical genres on this release. Sure, there's the blues. But there are also elements of folk ("Balance," "Old Time Man"), country ("The Hard Way," "Econoline"), rock and pop (particularly "Played Again"). There is also some good and interesting use of backing vocals on this album, like on the opening track. All songs but one are originals.

The album's title reminds me of the little vocal warm-up we did before performing Samuel Beckett's short plays (to put us in the right frame of mind): "No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

"Red Dirt"

The Freedom To Fail opens with "Red Dirt," a cool bluesy tune, but with great gospel-like backing vocals that totally work with the song's theme. This song has a fun feel to it, with a wild (but short) instrumental section with fiddle and clarinet. I like that the lyrics first have to do with seeds, but then expand to raising a child, and then go further to adults, to all of us, with lines like, "Too much pride, and he won't pay attention/Too much money, and the soul grows thin/Too much faith, you can't see reason" and "Too little love makes it easy/Makes everything black and white."  This song has a great energy, and is an excellent opening track - it pulled me right in.

"Red Dirt" was written by Guy Forsyth and Mark Addison.

"Sink 'Em Low (The Holler)"

"Sink 'Em Low (The Holler)" is the one cover tune on this album. It's a song in the public domain, and is an interesting spiritual tune. It's performed basically a cappella, but with a strong percussive element, like chained feet stomping. It's a powerful effect, and the vocals are great ("Wammo" performs vocals on this one). It starts, "If you want to please your captain/Sink 'em low, boys/Raise 'em high/Sink 'em low, boys." And then, "I asked my captain/What'll be my fine, boy/He said if I don't hang you, I give you ninety-nine."

Bessie Jones has also recorded an excellent version of this song.

"The Things That Matter"

"The Things That Matter" is my favorite song from this album.  I completely love this song. For those of us who are getting older (which is, hey, all of us), this one will have a certain poignancy. As time passes, you realize which things are truly important in life.  Yes, it's a life-is-short song, even containing a reference to Robert Herrick's poem in the line "gather roses while you may." I know this is a song I'm going to return to often. It's beautiful and true. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "I only want things that matter/I only want things that you can share/Don't give me diamond rings/All those so-called finer things/They don't matter when they are not there."  (It's that last line that really makes the chorus work for me.)  And the vocals have a sweetness to them.

"The Things That Matter" was written by Guy Forsyth and Brian David Keane.

"Can't Stop Dancing"

"Can't Stop Dancing" is a strange song that begins with a somewhat slow old-time European feel (think: man with a rose in his teeth, mysterious woman, stone streets). And then it kicks in like an insane disco song as performed by a voodoo gang on amphetamine (I love the horn).  The song then goes back to the main section, which has a certain gypsy vibe (with accordion). The second time it goes wild, it has almost an eerie, Halloween feel to it. This is an incredible song that for some reason makes me think of Santa Sangre.  I fucking love it.


"Balance" begins as a sweeter folk tune. He sings the first line a cappella: "Balance is a process of constant correction." It's weird, because in a way it has a positive feel (at least at the beginning), yet there is something really depressing about the lines, "You can't stop your heart from falling to pieces/Can't stop the lover from running away/And you can't change the world/You can't change the weather/The best you can do is to get through the day." Especially, "The best you can do is to get through the day," as there seems to be something sad and defeated in that. This is certainly one a lot of us can relate to.  Though those lines are sad, there still is something hopeful about this song. It's a really nice song.

"Balance" was written by Guy Forsyth and Matt Smith.

"Should Have Been Raining"

"Should Have Been Raining" is a blues song about how the weather didn't warn him that he was making a mistake when he broke up with a woman. He gives details of the scene, then sings, "Should have been raining/Should have hit me as I crossed into the street/But there was no cool wind blowing in my face/So easy to leave/Should have been raining/Raining fire down from the sky/Some catastrophe to warn me/More than one tear in your eye/Should have been raining/Should have been storming/Should have been pouring down on me."   The song then finds him returning to that place, and sees her now looking happy and looking into another man's eyes - and it's raining then. By the way, the instrumental section toward the end reminds me just a bit of "Layla." 

"Should Have Been Raining" was written by Guy Forsyth, Brian David Keane and Rachel Loy.

CD Track List
  1. Red Dirt
  2. The Hard Way
  3. Sink 'Em Low (The Holler)
  4. The Things That Matter
  5. Econoline
  6. Can't Stop Dancing
  7. Balance
  8. Thank You For My Hands
  9. Played Again
  10. Should Have Been Raining
  11. Old Time Man
  12. Home To Me

Guy Forsyth is on vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ukulele, harmonica and mandolin. Joining him on this release are Jeff Botta on bass and vocals, and Nina Singh Botta on drums and vocals. Also performing on this release are Oliver Steck on keyboard, accordion, trumpet, vocals; Matt Smith on 12-string electric guitar and vocals; Sick on fiddle and toy piano; John Doyle on clarinet; Jon Dee Graham on steel guitar; Ed Friedland on bass guitar; David Webb on organ; and William "Wammo" Walker on vocals. (By the way, Jon Dee Graham released a new album just last month, Garage Sale.)

The Freedom To Fail is scheduled to be released on September 11, 2012 through Blue Corn Music.  This is his seventh album.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Steve Forbert: "Over With You" (2012) CD Review

Steve Forbert has been releasing records since the late 1970s. He had a hit with "Romeo's Tune" from his second album in 1979. That song reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and completely holds up - I was just listening to it, and it's an excellent song).  (By the way, he has another Shakespeare reference in the title to the song "Steve Forbert's Midsummer Night's Toast," though the lyrics have nothing to do with the play.)  He was nominated for a Grammy in 2004 for Any Old Time, a tribute to Jimmie Rodgers. He's an excellent songwriter, whose songs have been covered by Rosanne Cash, Keith Urban, Marty Stuart and Webb Wilder.  So why don't we all know about this guy? 

Sure, his voice isn't as strong these days, but it has character, and character goes a long way. Plus there is an appropriate wariness and vulnerability in his voice that really help sell the songs on his new album, Over With You. These songs really hit me emotionally. And yeah, maybe I'm a wreck these days, but these songs got right on top of me.

Not that these songs are depressing. They're really not. They engage your emotions, which is a positive thing, but the album isn't designed to tear you apart. There is humor in these tunes. Like in "Baby, I Know" the repeated line is "Baby, I know you're only ninety percent happy with me."  I love that line, because it's funny in several ways - it's funny that he's acknowledging that he hasn't made her completely happy, that he knows and indicates the exact percentage, and also that the percentage is so high, yet he's still working on improving (after all, it seems a lot of people would be thrilled with 90%).  And I just love the line "Things don't tend to work out like I planned them, but they could" in "Can't We Get Together" - that line has a great mix of sadness and optimism.  And then you have a song like "Metal Marie," which is probably the most catchy tune on the album (there's even a reggae element to the song).

Steve Forbert also has some talented musicians helping him out on this new release, including Ben Harper on guitar. All the songs on Over With You are originals.

"All I Asked Of You"

Over With You opens with "All I asked Of You,"an intimate-sounding song about a problematic relationship. His rough, somewhat awkward voice works to make us feel more for him and to put us firmly on his side, because it lacks arrogance and certainty. It's an emotional and vulnerable voice, which is perfect for lines like "All I asked of you was a chance to make it right" and "This is not the way it should be, my darling/You should be my wife." It's like a song that wishes it could be a love song. And I can't help but love it.

"All I Need To Do"

"All I Need To Do" is a more upbeat tune with definite pop elements, though it's about a relationship that has ended. This is one of my favorites, partly because of the bitter humor in lines like, "I'll get by without you/And I'm going to like it/So I say to myself/Find a new match and strike it"  and "All I need to do is just to find someone who's just like you/All I need to change is just the seven letters of your name."  His voice really strains on the line "It's true that I worship the ground you walk upon," and though that strain works in the song, it would be interesting to hear someone else cover this song.  (As a side note, this is one of the many songs that rhyme "self" with "shelf.")

"That'd Be Alright"

"That'd Be Alright" features is another happy-sounding tune, with more of a rock sound at times, and a catchy guitar part.  Ben Harper plays lead guitar on this track. (This album was produced by Chris Goldsmith, who also produced the album There Will Be A Light by Ben Harper and The Blind Boys Of Alabama.) "That'd Be Alright" begins, "Hold on tight 'cause it's coming up a full moon/You might find that you need some company/This wild night could take any turn at all soon/I don't mind if it brings you back to me/That'd be alright."  I really like those lyrics.

"Over With You"

"Over With You," the CD's title track, is a slow, heartfelt and intimate song. It's a song in which he displays unabashed affection, shown in lines like, "What means most to me/As in time you'll see/Is your happiness and your peace of mind." He also sings, "Forever's such an easy word to say or write on paper." This song features some nice, light playing on keys. It's actually a really pretty tune.

"Don't Look Down, Pollyana"

"Don't Look Down, Pollyana" features cello, a gorgeous instrument that I've always had a weakness for. It adds another layer of beauty to this song. This is a wonderful song. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Shreveport, Louisiana is just as high as Niagra Falls/You feel as if you're over a barrel/Think you might be close to the edge/You're hoping there'll be somebody there/Who will get you back intact off the ledge."  Excellent, right?

"Sugarcane Plum Fairy"

Over With You concludes with "Sugarcane Plum Fairy, a bittersweet tune. He sings of the magic of days long gone, with images that are evocative of magic and fairy tales - "wonderland of light," "castle wall." But now "I watch your tired eyes taking care not to meet with mine right." The song features a strange harmonica part - it's interesting, because it sounds almost as if it's struggling, like the man in the song, struggling to regain what was there before.

CD Track List
  1. All I Asked Of You
  2. All I Need To Do
  3. In Love With You
  4. That'd Be Alright
  5. Baby, I Know
  6. Over With You
  7. Don't Look Down, Pollyana
  8. Can't We Get Together?
  9. Metal Marie
  10. Sugarcane Plum Fairy
Joining Steve Forbert on this release are Ben Sollee on cello and bass, Jason Yates on piano and organ, Michael Jerome on drums and Sheldon Gomberg on electric and upright bass.  Ben Harper plays guitar on three tracks: "In Love With You," "That'd Be Alright" and "Don't Look Down, Pollyana."

Over With You is scheduled to be released on September 11, 2012 on Blue Corn Music.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

David Greenberg and Harpeth Rising: "The End Of The World" (2012) CD Review

Harpeth Rising is a group of four musicians - Rebecca Reed-Lunn on banjo, Jordana Greenberg on violin, Maria Di Meglio on cello and and Chris Burgess on percussion (they all provide vocals as well). All of them have been playing and studying music since they were children, and their level of expertise and dedication shows on every track of their new album, The End Of The World. These folks are clearly excellent musicians.  Jordana Greenberg is the daughter of singer/songwriter David Greenberg, who joins them on their new release - not just on vocals and guitar, but also as songwriter. He composed all the songs on this album. And the band did the arrangements.

There is a real beauty to a lot of these tracks. (I admit, I've always been a sucker for cello.) These songs have some good stories, and interesting characters, but often it's the violin that really hits me. These songs often feel like they're moving toward a real destination, and that it's somehow important they get there (like in "Outlaw"). I find myself moved by these songs, and immersed in them.

"Goin' My Way"

The End Of The World opens with "Goin' My Way," a good folk tune. David Greenberg has that storytelling folksinger thing nailed down, and he infuses his songs with a sense of humor, apparent in lines like these: "I've been a grifter, I've been drifter/You know I've been a wheel/The only thing I never tried was getting real/I've been around, I've been a square/I've been a tumbleweed/I was washed up in the belly of a whale on the beach/He was goin' my way." There is some interesting stuff on banjo in this song, and I love the violin. I really like the instrumental section toward the end. It's beautiful (listen to the cello), and has a great build.

"Evil Eye"

"Evil Eye" has a really good sound, and there are female lead vocals on this one. It's an interesting combination of angry, disheartened folky lyrics (with images like "crooked grinning cop" and "corporation infestation") with the sweet beauty of violin and cello and the happy tones of banjo. And check out these lyrics: "Now darkness waits outside the gates, collecting on a curse/Here among the refugees, wherever we do meet/Each man now doth hold his tongue, but the time will come to speak."

"Out Of Sight"

With "Out Of Sight," at times it's clear that David Greenberg is going for a Dylan thing in the lyrics (and in their delivery), like "He asked me where I'm going/And I tell you some long story/Of the sailor who is rowing in his lifeboat in your hand/You say you want to come along/You say that's where you belong/I've already stayed too long/And we all must drown alone" and "And you're terrified of what you'll find/Washed up on the shores of your desire." But what I love about this song are the strings - there is a glorious sadness when these instruments raise their voices.

"Goin' Goin' Gone"

"Goin' Goin' Gone" is a fun bluegrass-type tune that is just wonderful. It feels like an old song you might have heard around a fire. And it's so refreshing to know songs like this are still being written. It's kind of a relief, you know? And that instrumental break is fantastic. I love it. I know this is one I'm going to be singing to myself from time to time. And I hope to hear folks singing it around a fire sometime soon.  (And the line "One man's beef is another man's rodeo" surprised and delighted me.) 


"Nowhereland" reminds me of Sinéad O'Connor. This song comes from that same realm, with the same tones, a similar attitude, and something of her beauty. And this song boasts some excellent lyrics. Here is a taste: "It's a long way back from nowhereland/In blood the world is bound/It's a long way back from nowhereland/It's a long way back until you stand/With just one raindrop in your hand." I love that image. This is a really nice song, one of the strongest on this CD.

"The End Of The World"

The album closes with its title track, which features a gorgeous opening on strings. The vocal line, when it comes in, immediately brings to mind some early work by Leonard Cohen (not exactly the lyrics themselves, but the way they're presented) - "It's the end of the world/And the gypsy is calling you" (though of course the word "gypsy" is one that Leonard Cohen returns to).  And I like the lines, "Drink and be merry/Tomorrow's your birthday/You have to keep going, though you know how it ends."  The violin and cello have this beautiful dance together. I also really like the percussion on this tune.

CD Track List
  1. Goin' My way
  2. Evil Eye
  3. Señorita
  4. Out Of Sight
  5. Goin' Goin' Gone
  6. Nowhereland
  7. Truck Stop Mama
  8. Outlaw
  9. You Can Only Follow
  10. The End Of The World
The End Of The World was released on July 31, 2012.  This is the band's third album. The first two are Harpeth Rising (2010) and Dead Man's Hand (2011).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Coal Porters: "Find The One" (2012) CD Review

The first thing that hit me about this band was, of course, the name. The Coal Porters. It made me laugh, but then I thought, well, this band has to be damn good to pull off a name like that. And I was not at all disappointed. People are doing a lot of interesting things with bluegrass these days. It's a form of music I love, but I'm no purist. I actually really like when bluegrass is mixed with other genres, and also when bands do bluegrass covers of songs from other musical realms. The Coal Porters cover David Bowie and the Rolling Stones on this record, certainly not traditional bluegrass fare. 

Most of the songs, however, are originals. This band features three songwriters who all contribute good material. And of course it's not a bluegrass album unless there is at least one instrumental, and this album has one titled "The Betsey Trotwood." It's fun tune written by John Breese and Carly Frey.

The only thing on this album that I could really do without is the introduction to "Ask Me Again" by DJ Brian Matthew. Yes, he's an important figure in the history of music. But it's jarring and it pulls me out of the moment every time I listen to this album.

Find The One was produced by John Wood, whom you probably know from his work with Fairport Convention.  By the way, this is an enhanced CD, and apparently there is a short documentary film of the band. I was unable to access it because my DVD player didn't recognize that this was anything but a CD, and my computer kept telling me that Flash Player wasn't installed even though I just installed it three times.

"Barefoot On The Courthouse Lawn"

The opening track, "Barefoot On The Courthouse Lawn," has a really pretty start. Then when the vocals kick in, it takes on one of those positive, can-do attitudes. This song really brings to mind in a vivid way the folk festivals I used to attend in Oregon, with lots of folks dancing on the grass. Dresses twirling in the air, toddlers trying to keep up with their parents, lots of great music, and a happy, relaxed vibe. This song takes me right back to those wonderful days, with its overall feel, and with lines like, "A crowd aged eight to eighty/All tapping feet in time/27 strings pick Glendale Train/In summer's bright sunshine."

"Barefoot On The Courthouse Lawn" was written by Sid Griffin.

"Never Right His Wrong"

"Never Right His Wrong" features female lead vocals. Carly Frey, the band's violinist, sings lead. She also wrote this track. This is one of my favorites. I dig the vocals, particularly in the chorus, which is, "His arms were open, his eyes like the dawn/But she ain't the same since he's been gone/His mind was made up, the past an older song/But she knew then that he'd never right his wrong." There is a really nice break where the fiddle takes over. I really liked this song before that section, but this is the part that made me love it.

"Hush U Babe/Burnham Thorpe"

Okay, I hate the use of the letter "U" in place of the world "you." But that aside, "Hush U Babe/Burnham Thorpe" is a seriously cool tune. And it doesn't hurt that it features Richard Thompson on guitar (he's fantastic, as always).  I love the vocal delivery on the lines, "sounds like someone's getting close/I pray it is not the Holy Ghost/A few more miles, then we're there/I love you all, I do I swear." It has this great energy. And then the fiddle takes the lead. I just can't get enough of this fiddle.

"Hush U Babe/Burnham Thorpe" was written by Sid Griffin and Carly Frey.


The album's first cover is "Heroes." I've long been a big David Bowie fan. And in 1990 or 1991 End Construction did a sort of bluegrass Bowie medley that was completely wonderful, and totally worked. Before that, I'd been wary of folks covering Bowie. That medley changed things for me, and prepared me for this beautiful rendition of Bowie's "Heroes," the title track from his 1977 record. There are male and female lead vocals on this one. It's interesting that they chose to have the female vocals come in on the line, "I, I will be king, and you, you will be queen."  This is one of my favorite tracks, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it.

"Red-Eyed & Blue"

"Red-Eyed & Blue" is another track that I love, mostly because the female vocals have an old-timey country feel, which I really enjoy. Plus, this song has a great vibe, like a slow summer breeze at dusk. And I really like the lyrics to this one. Here is a taste: "My rainbow's colours are down to just two/I'm red-eyed and blue over you/All her friends said he would ramble and roam/But her infidelity started at home/What could he do? Red-eyed and blue/Tried to get even but only got even more/Red-eyed and blue over you."

"Red-Eyed & Blue" was written by Neil Robert Herd.

"Gospel Shore"

"Gospel Shore" is one of the most interesting tunes on this record. It has this cool bass line in its opening section, but this song has several different sections, all of which have engaging elements. This song has an intriguing structure. This track also features Jules Bushell on musical saw, and Charlie Thomas on percussion. 

"Paint It, Black"

The album concludes with a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black." It's weird that they included a comma in the title. My copy of Aftermath has no comma. Word is that when Decca released the song as a single in 1966, they inserted the comma (but the original and true title of the song has no comma). Anyway, this rendition starts with a sort of bluesy vibe, then kicks in. It's a good, vibrant, lively rendition (particularly in the vocals). And it features Robert Elliott on sitar.

CD Track List
  1. Barefoot On The Courthouse Lawn
  2. Never Right His Wrong
  3. Hush U Babe/Burnham Thorpe
  4. The Betsey Trotwood
  5. Heroes
  6. Red-Eyed & Blue
  7. Ask Me Again
  8. Brand New Home
  9. Gospel Shore
  10. You Only Miss Her When She's Gone
  11. Farmers' Hands
  12. Paint It, Black

The Coal Porters are John Breese on banjo; Carly Frey on vocals and violin; Sid Griffin on vocals, mandolin, harmonica, and autoharp; Neil Robert Herd on vocals, guitar and Dobro; and Tali Trow on vocals and bass.

Joining them on this release are Andrew Stafford on bass, Jules Bushell on musical saw, Robert Elliott on sitar, Charlie Thomas on percussion, and Richard Thompson on guitar.

Find The One is scheduled to be released on September 18, 2012 on Prima Records.  This is the fifth release from The Coal Porters.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Los Lobos: "Kiko Live" (2012) DVD Review

Los Lobos' 1992 release, Kiko, one of my personal favorite records, is getting the special treatment for its twentieth anniversary.  There is a new 20th Anniversary Edition of the album (with bonus tracks) scheduled for release on August 21st. Also to be released on that date is Kiko Live on both CD and DVD.  Kiko Live is a performance from February 24, 2006 of the album in its entirety.  The DVD also features new interviews with all members of the band, as well as with Mitchell Froom, the Kiko producer, and Tchad Blake, the Kiko engineer.  The film begins with interviews, and also has interviews inserted throughout the performance, between songs (never in the middle of a song, of course).

It seems there are at least six cameras capturing this show. There is some use of split screen throughout, and some shots of the audience. But mostly what is captured is this insanely talented band performing one of the greatest albums in the history of music. By the way, the DVD includes the option to just play the concert (without the interviews), which is a cool feature.

The film starts with interviews with band members Conrad Lozano (bass, guitaron, backing vocals), David Hidalgo (vocals, guitar, accordion), Steve Berlin (keyboards, saxophone), Cesar Rosas (vocals, guitar), Louie Perez (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Cougar Estrada (drums, percussion). (Cougar Estrada did not appear on the original release. There were a few different drummers on the original record).  They talk about the record, and how the decision came about to perform it. Cesar jokes that it actually meant rehearsing, something they don't normally do.  And there is footage of them rehearsing at Cesar's house (there is a shot of the Eastside Diner clock on the wall). There is also a bit of footage outside the venue - the House of Blues in San Diego - before the show actually starts.

Los Lobos performs Kiko in its entirety, in the order presented on the original record. So the show opens with "Dream In Blue." I love the drums at the end of the song. It is odd, however, that after the song, the film goes to black, then comes back in. This makes me wonder what was cut. It definitely gives the impression that something is missing. Stage banter? Tuning? Switching instruments? I think a concert film should include everything.  However, this isn't much of an issue throughout, because often after a song, the film will cut to an interview.

After "Wake Up Dolores," the band talks about how Kiko began, the studio being in the poorest area of Los Angeles. And we hear a bit about the song "Angels With Dirty Faces" before seeing the band perform that song. In other interview segments, band members talk about the origins of the band, how they met at James A. Garfield High School. Cesar Rosas says, about the band's name, that a lot of Mexican bands at that time were naming themselves after wildlife.  They also talk about writing the songs, and the way they recorded as they went (often doing only a few takes).

My favorite song from this album is "Saint Behind The Glass," and before that song there is an interview with Louie Perez about writing it. He talks about his childhood home, which had one room in which he, his mother and his sister slept. (And yes, there is a shot of the house.) There was a statue in a glass box, and the song came from that. It's about memory, about recollection, about growing up.  Then a harp is brought on stage for the performance of this song. That's Angel Abundez on harp. The instrumental section is fantastic, especially when the Abundez takes the lead.

Band members talk about learning Mexican folk songs, and how the band played those songs in a restaurant. But then they'd get requests for popular rock songs, so they'd take out the electric instruments and play that stuff too.  Los Lobos opened for The Blasters at the Whiskey. Steve Berlin was playing with the Blasters, and he began sitting in with Los Lobos, and eventually joined the band. Cesar says that's when they evolved from a folk group to a rock group.  That interview segment leads to the performance of "Reva's House," a great rock tune.

There is a lyric flub in "When The Circus Comes." David sings "You left your name carved on a tree" again instead of "I'll scratch your name out on that tree." And in the footage we see him smile as he realizes his mistake. Cesar introduces "Arizona Skies," a moment that's not included on the CD.

Another of my favorites from Kiko is "Two Janes," and there is another interview with Louie about the writing of that song.  He talks about the characters and subjects of the album, but about this song in particular. He had read about two girls who committed suicide by sitting on train tracks.  I didn't know that was the inspiration for that song.  But of course he changed it so that the two girls are two aspects of one person, which is wonderful.  By the way, Louie plays percussion on this song.

Before "Whiskey Trail," the band switches drummers. David says, "This is Dave Jr. over here" as his son sits behind the kit for this one.  Another nice moment.

Toward the end there are interviews with the members about what the record and their music means to them.  Other musicians then join them for the last song, "Rio De Tenampa."  A group called Los Cenzontles, including a great horn section. I love this song, and this rendition is so much better than that on the original record.

The encores played that night are included in the bonus features, rather than as part of the proper film.

DVD Bonus Features

This DVD has several bonus features. The first, as already noted, is the encore.  The encore was composed of three songs - "Carabina 30-30," "Volver, Volver" and "La Bamba." All three are sung in Spanish, and before the first tune Cesar jokes with the crowd (one of the only bits of stage banter included in this performance). Louie plays drums for the first two songs of the encore.  And the Angel Abundez returns on harp for "La Bamba."

The second bonus feature is a series of three "Bonus Vignettes": "Hi-Fi Low-Fi," "The Story Of La Bamba" and "The Music Reveals Itself."  All three are more interviews with band members.  The second is about how they played "La Bamba" as a traditional folk song before becoming involved in the film, and then about the expectations of audiences after the film was released.  There is also some truly interesting information about the song itself.  In the third, the band members talk about their experiences with music.

The third bonus feature is a slide show of still photos of the band. Some are old shots in the studio and so on, and then there are lots of shots from the night of this concert.  Another cool feature of the DVD is that the various menus are illustrations of the songs.

Kiko Live is being released on DVD on August 21, 2012 through Shout! Factory.  The CD version of Kiko Live will be released on the same date.

Los Lobos: "Kiko Live" (2012) CD Review

One of my favorite albums, Kiko, turns twenty this year. And to celebrate, Los Lobos are releasing a CD and DVD of a live performance of the album. I have mixed feelings about bands playing complete albums. When I go to a concert, I generally don't like knowing what song is coming next.  I like it when the band allows the moment or the muses to determine the next song. On the other hand, this is one of my favorite albums, and I wish I'd been there to see them perform it. It was recorded on February 24, 2006 in San Diego. And now I'm getting the chance to hear it. And it's excellent. Also, it's not a note-for-note reproduction. Los Lobos stretch out a bit on several songs. This album has nearly eighty minutes of music; the original album is just under fifty-three minutes. These songs have a vitality, like living organisms, so this in no way feels like nostalgia. This album is a new way to experience these tunes. There's not much in the way of stage banter, but there wouldn't be space on the disc for it anyway.

"Dream In Blue"

"Dream In Blue" kicks right in with that great drum beat, and then some bass. There are no band introductions. It sounds great, and they keep it going a bit longer than on the original album, which I appreciate. And then there is a bit of a drum solo at the end, which is wonderful. A great start to this performance.

"Angels With Dirty Faces"

I got a bit mesmerized by the instrumental section in "Angels With Dirty Faces." The mood of those guitars just really got hold of me.

"That Train Don't Stop Here"

And yes, as I expected, this concert includes a kick-ass version of "That Train Don't Stop Here." It got me dancing around my apartment, even in this bloody heat (it's 100 degrees here in L.A. at the moment). There's a very cool guitar section in this rendition that makes it one of the disc's highlights. This version is nearly seven minutes long.

"Saint Behind The Glass"

"Saint Behind The Glass" is my favorite song from Kiko, and it's wonderful to hear the crowd react the moment they recognize it. Clearly I'm not alone in my total love for this song. And there is a beautiful instrumental section added to this version, which put me in a ridiculously joyful mood.

"When The Circus Comes"

There is a slight lyric flub in "When The Circus Comes," but still a pretty great version of one of my favorites  from the album. David repeats "You left your name carved on a tree" instead of singing "I'll scratch your name out on that tree."  This song is not extended or anything; I was hoping for a longer version.

"Arizona Skies"

This rendition of the beautiful instrumental "Arizona Skies" has a groovy percussion section, which is absolutely wonderful.

"Two Janes"

Another highlight of this concert is an incredibly moving version of "Two Janes." This has always been one of my favorites, but this version still really got to me in a powerful way, as if I were hearing it for the first time.

"Wicked Rain"

This concert includes an intense and seriously groovy version of "Wicked Rain" that had me dancing around my apartment again. It's yet another highlight of this live record.

"Just A Man"

At this show, Los Lobos did a really long version of "Just A Man." It's nearly ten minutes. It starts in a slow bluesy way, with that great easy groove and some loose guitar-playing over it. This version features a lively vocal performance. And then the song stretches out, the guitar creating its own path through the blues. Very cool. I don't often think of Los Lobos as a blues band, but holy moly.

And then they stretch out on "Peace" too.

"Rio De Tenampa"

Kiko Live ends with a great version of "Rio De Tenampa," complete with the verses in English, which were not included on the original version, but are included in a demo version in the bonus tracks of the 20th Anniversary Edition.

CD Track List
  1. Dream In Blue
  2. Wake Up Dolores
  3. Angels With Dirty Faces
  4. That Train Don't Stop Here
  5. Kiko And The Lavender Moon
  6. Saint Behind The Glass
  7. Reva's House
  8. When The Circus Comes
  9. Arizona Skies
  10. Short Side Of Nothing
  11. Two Janes
  12. Wicked Rain
  13. Whiskey Trail
  14. Just A Man
  15. Peace
  16. Rio De Tenampa
Los Lobos are on tour now, and fans will have some more chances to see them perform this album in its entirety. The following shows are scheduled to include performances of Kiko: September 27th at Showcase Live in Foxborough, MA; September 28th at Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, NY; September 30 at Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA; and October 1st at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA.

Kiko Live is scheduled to be released on August 21, 2012 from Shout! Factory. Also scheduled for release on that date is the new Kiko 20th Anniversary Edition and the DVD of Kiko Live.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Los Lobos: "Kiko 20th Anniversary Edition" (2012) CD Review

I was something of a fan of Los Lobos in the 1980s. Like a lot of folks, I was turned onto them when "Will The Wolf Survive" was released as a single (it got a lot of airplay in Boston). I saw them in concert in the summer of 1989, and they put on a great show. But it was the release of Kiko in 1992 that really won me over. It's a fantastic record, full of surprises and joy. The band clearly was unafraid of taking chances, and it seems each chance they took paid off well. This album quickly became one of my favorites, and it's remained such for twenty years now. (I can't believe it's been twenty years.)

One thing I love about this record is that each song is its own individual world, each song is distinct. They didn't come up with a single sound or idea and then stick with it for the course of the album. Each song is allowed to develop, to go its own course. And miraculously, each course is intriguing. It's one of those rare records that makes you feel - maybe just for a moment - that you don't need any other records. Everything is here.

This record is so full of great, diverse material, that different tracks will stand out for you at different times. That helps make it an album you can return to again and again. And now is as good a time as any to revisit this wonderful record. For its 20th anniversary, Kiko has been newly remastered, and is being re-issued with five bonus tracks.

"Dream In Blue"

From its opening drum rhythm to the entry of its guitar and then vocals, "Dream In Blue" just builds in a perfect way. It's a great opening track. It has a good, positive vibe, and some interesting changes, like daylight melting into night, before the drums begin again, and the line, "Woke up laughing in my bed."

"That Train Don't Stop Here"

"That Train Don't Stop Here" is a fun combination of blues and rockabilly. It's a song to get you dancing. It has a great groove, and then some serious guitar work. It has a false ending, and I love that it comes screaming back in. I only wish it then went on longer.

"Kiko And The Lavender Moon"

"Kiko And The Lavender Moon," the title track, is one of my favorites. I remember this song surprised me the first time I heard this album, partially because of its old-time elements. This is one I'd listen to over and over again in the early days. My memory is that it was my first favorite track from this record.

"Saint Behind The Glass"

"Saint Behind The Glass" is my current favorite, and has been for many years. One day I listened only to this song, like twenty or thirty times, and stopped only because I had to leave my home for some reason or other. It's an incredibly beautiful song, and I sometimes sing it to myself to cheer myself up. It's a song that lifts me up, like a reprieve from mundane cares. It works almost like a fairy tale. If you haven't heard it, I highly recommend you check it out.

Los Lobos did a show at the Santa Monica Pier a few years ago, this song was the highlight for me. The whole show was great, but this one tune made my night.

"Reva's House"

"Reva's House" is one of those great rock songs that sounds like summer. Its sound brings to mind everything that's positive about summer - the possibilities, the excitement, the youth. But Los Lobos can mess with your expectations. Though it has this great positive sound, there is the line, "There's something going wrong." And then this song suddenly changes with the lines, "Could only hear the sound/Of the breaking of her heart." I love them for that.

"When The Circus Comes"

"When The Circus Comes" is another that I sometimes find myself listening to over and over, usually when I'm feeling sad or frustrated or lost. It's an incredible song. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "You left your named carved on a tree/You scratched mine out right in front of me/Didn't mean that much/Didn't mean that much." I completely love this song. This album really has a lot of songs that played important parts in my life, songs I have a strong emotional attachment to. By the way, Phish has covered this one, and included it on a few of their live albums.

"Short Side Of Nothing"

"Short Side Of Nothing" is the one I remember hearing on the radio a lot at the time. It's another really strong track, and another with an honest emotional core. I think that might be part of the draw. Not only did the band experiment and try different things, but they did it while remaining true to the essence of the songs. It's like experimenting to get closer to the truth, rather than just messing around in the studio. Check out these lyrics: "Dreams wash down the gutter/All my hopes in vain/Crows up on the rooftop/Laughing out my name/Here I am on the short side of nothing."

"Two Janes"

"Two Janes" is another that played a significant role in my life. It's an excellent and beautiful and sad song. I like that you can read into it what you wish, to an extent. It's specific in the lyrics up to a point, but a lot is left open.  Those are the songs that so many folks can relate to. Songs like this one make the listener an active participant. Early in the song we learn, "Jane number one looked as happy as can be/Jane number two knew what could set them free/Too many nights hiding under beds/Too many fears to fill their pretty heads." And then near the end, "Jane number one is standing at the gate/Jane number two has the key that holds their fate/Too many angels with brand new silken wings/Too many cries for love but no one hears a thing."  It's an amazing song.

"Whiskey Trail"

It still surprises me that on an album that is one of my all-time favorites, there is one track that I'm not all that fond of. "Whiskey Trail" is the only tune on this album that's just not that interesting or compelling. It's a country rock song, and it's never grown on me. It still might someday, I suppose. 

"Rio De Tenampa"

Kiko ends with "Rio De Tenampa," a delicious tune sung in Spanish. It feels like a last song, but also has that element of a street party, conjuring the image of people following a band down narrow streets, that sort of thing.

Bonus Tracks

This special 20th Anniversary Edition has five bonus tracks, nearly twenty-four minutes of music. The first is a studio demo version of "Whiskey Trail," and while it has more of a raw power and drive than the album version, this remains the one song that doesn't move me. Sorry.

The second is a studio demo version of "Rio De Tenampa," and it's actually quite different from the official version. First of all, it includes verses, which are sung in English. Also, it's more than twice as long as the album version. It's completely wonderful. I love this rendition, and it's quickly become one of my favorites. "I wondered how long these memories would last and dreamed of what tomorrow will bring."

The other three bonus tracks were recorded live in 1992, and were part of the "Holiday House Party With Los Lobos" special on NPR. The first is a seriously cool version of "Peace," which includes a short introduction at the beginning, and an interesting ending.  The second is "Arizona Skies," but with "Borinquen Patria Mia" with lyrics sung in Spanish.  The final bonus track is a groovy live version of "Kiko And The Lavender Moon."

CD Track List
  1. Dream In Blue
  2. Wake Up Dolores
  3. Angels With Dirty Faces
  4. That Train Don't Stop Here
  5. Kiko And The Lavender Moon
  6. Saint Behind The Glass
  7. Reva's House
  8. When The Circus Comes
  9. Arizona Skies
  10. Short Side Of Nothing
  11. Two Janes
  12. Wicked Rain
  13. Whiskey Trail
  14. Just A Man
  15. Peace
  16. Rio De Tenampa
  17. Whiskey Trail (Studio Demo Version)
  18. Rio De Tenampa (Studio Demo Version)
  19. Peace (Live)
  20. Arizona Skies/Borinquen Patria Mia (Live)
  21. Kiko And The Lavender Moon (Live)
Kiko 20th Anniversary Edition is scheduled to be released August 21, 2012 from Shout! Factory and Rhino. Also scheduled for release on that date is the new Kiko Live album, which will be available on CD and DVD. (I'll be reviewing those soon.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Holly Golightly And The Brokeoffs: "Sunday Run Me Over" (2012) CD Review

One of my favorite albums from last year was No Help Coming by Holly Golightly And The Brokeoffs. So my expectations were extremely high when I put in their new disc, Sunday Run Me Over.  And I have to say, I couldn't be more excited. I've already listened to this album several times, and it's certainly one of the best of 2012.  It's everything I wanted it to be, and yet still surprised me.  There are a couple of tracks that had me laughing out loud (including their cover of Mac Davis' "Hard To Be Humble").

Most tracks are originals, but there are also three interesting choices for covers, including the slow country tune "I Forgot More," where Holly allows a sweetness into her vocals. Written by Cecil Null, that song was a number one hit for the Davis Sisters in 1953. They also do an interesting take on Wayne Raney's "We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus (And A Lot Less Rock And Roll)," changing it to "We Need A Whole Lot Less Of Jesus (And A Lot More Rock And Roll)," about how the Jesus freaks want to direct the nation, regardless of the large numbers of people who don't believe in that nonsense. Amen. And probably the most fun cover on this release is Mac Davis' "Hard To Be Humble," which starts with Holly and Dave on their computers, leaving hateful messages about each other on Facebook (and then clicking the "Like" button) - this is the first reference to Facebook in popular culture that I've actually really loved. 

As wonderful as these covers are, it's the duo's originals that really impress me. Their music is like Folk holding a knife to Punk's glorious throat, then after a moment the two laughing it off and skipping down hobo alley to get a root beer float, which they share.

"Goddamn Holy Roll"

Sunday Run Me Over opens with a bang, with "Goddamn Holy Roll." Sounding like a back-porch musician just released from the asylum and given a strange combination of medications to help her along. Anyone is bound to have something to say about religion under those conditions. "Goddamn Holy Roll" is sort of the title track, as the CD's title is in the song's first line.

"They Say"

"They Say" is a slow, mean tune that sneaks on you like a snake, and waits for you to notice it before striking.  Very cool. 

"One For The Road"

I completely love the ridiculous waltz, "One For The Road." This song cracked me up the first time I heard it. And the second. And the third. It put me in a great mood. It begins, "The band starts to play, as the ship is setting sail/The captain says it's clear for miles today." And check out these lines: "As we rise and fall and sway/In the line at the buffet/Take a walk or take a spill/Just hug the rail." It is a delightful tune, that at one section sounds like it's run through an instant carnival machine owned by a demented aging dwarfish ringmaster.  I love the percussion during that section.

"Turn Around"

"Turn Around" is another of my favorites. It's a simple tune, with a steady rhythm, but Holly's vocals kick ass. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Why don't you turn around/Walk away/You are not welcome here/You cannot stay/Turn around/Don't come back again/And take your misery/With you when you go."  Fucking great.

"The Future's Here"

I love that a song called "The Future's Here" has elements that sound make it sound at least seventy years old. I love the old-timey feel of this song, juxtaposed with lines like, "The future's here/The past is gone."  This is another completely delightful and wonderful tune. Ah yes: "Jet pack, flying cars/It's a fact, there's life on Mars/The future's here, and here we are/Don't keep us waiting/No time to waste/No hesitating/Don't want to be out of date."


"Goodnight" is another favorite of mine. Holly is so great at singing these angry and dismissive tunes. Check out lines like, "You'll have to excuse me if I look confused/But you might as well talk to the wall/Whatever you mean will be wasted on me/Nothing you've got entertains/You ain't got a hope, and I don't get the joke/So there's no need to tell it again." There is something insanely sexy in her voice, in her delivery, in her attitude.

CD Track List
  1. Goddamn Holy Roll
  2. They Say
  3. Tank
  4. I Forgot More
  5. One For The Road
  6. Turn Around
  7. A Whole Lot More...
  8. Hand In Hand
  9. The Future's Here
  10. Hard To Be Humble
  11. Goodnight
  12. This Shit Is Gold
Sunday Run Me Over is scheduled to be released October 9, 2012 on Transdreamer Records.

Clover: "Clover and Fourty-Niner" (1970, 1971/2012 re-issue) CD Review

I still feel like I really missed out by not being in San Francisco in the mid to late 1960s. Not that I had a choice. I wasn't born yet. But since my very early teens, I've been drawn to the music that came out of that place and time. (I was 13 the first time I begged my parents to take me to a Grateful Dead concert - they refused, and three years passed before I finally saw that band.)  I am always excited when something from that time is released on CD, especially when it's something I haven't heard before, like these two records by Clover.

This is a band I knew absolutely nothing about. So it was a thrill when I put this disc in to immediately find myself groovin' to the music. There are some real gems on this CD.  And it turns out that although I hadn't heard this band, I'd certainly heard other stuff from these musicians. For example, John McFee was a member of The Doobie Brothers. And Alex Call wrote "867-5309/Jenny," which was on the radio approximately every fifteen minutes in 1982. John Ciambotti played with John Prine.  Other interesting notes about Clover: 1. Huey Lewis would later join the band, as would Sean Hopper (a member of The News); 2 the band would back Elvis Costello on My Aim Is True (1977). Insane.

This CD features two complete albums by Clover - their debut, self-titled album, originally released in 1970, and Fourty-Niner, originally released in 1971. (And no, I have no idea why "Forty" is misspelled.)  I prefer the first album, but the second has a ridiculously fun song titled "Chicken Butt" (as well as the cool rock tune, "Love Is Gone").  Both albums have a heavy country influence.  They were originally released on the Fantasy label (the label CCR was on).

The liner notes for this CD release were written by band member Alex Call, which is cool.


Clover, the band's debut album, opens with a fun, seriously groovy rendition of "Shotgun," a song by Junior Walker & The All Stars. Clover's version has a funky edge. There is some nice work on guitar during the short jam section.  They also add some of their own lyrics, like "You're walking down your street/And oh, what do you hear/There's music everywhere."  That's exactly the impression I have of San Francisco at that time.

"Southbound Train"

"Southbound Train" is a cool bluesy tune with a nice instrumental section. It's about a man whose woman has left, and how he's dealing with it. "Around here there just ain't no hope at all."  And so, "I'm going down to the station, going to catch that southbound train/I'm going to bring you back home, or I ain't coming back again." And then the pace picks up, led by some great work both on piano and guitar. It's a really nice section, and I wish it went on a bit longer.

"Southbound Train" was written by Alex Call and John McFee.

"Going To The Country"

Going to the country always sounds appealing, and this song offers some good reasons for going: "The city is full of policemen/They've got one on every street" and "The air's so foul that I can't breathe." Of course, it's mostly city bands that sing of the virtues of the country. "Going To The Country" was written by John Ciambotti and Alex Call.


This album features a slow version of "Stealin.'" This is a song that a lot of the San Francisco bands did at that time, including the Grateful Dead. Clover's rendition has a country breat, and a sweetness to the vocals, particularly during the chorus. I've always loved this song, and this version has definitely grown on me.  It has a certain beauty.

"No Vacancy"

"No Vacancy" is an unabashed straight country song. The first lines are "There's a room in your heart for every man in town/But there ain't no vacancy for me." Ah, one of those sad country songs about a guy who can't get the girl. I always think that if the girl in question just heard the song, all would be well. And maybe that's the point.  I always love the ridiculous metaphors that these weepy country tunes use.  "No Vacancy" was written by John Ciambotti.

"Lizard Rock And Roll Band"

"Lizard Rock And Roll Band" is a silly song about, yes, lizards in the desert playing rock and roll. It's totally stupid, but fun (reminding me of something Phish might do). Here is a taste of the lyrics: "They had a wizard lead guitarist, and the drummer kept the backbeat with his tail" and "When I went to pick him up, his tail came off in my hand." Nonsense, right?  But it is fun.


"Fourty-Niner," the title track of the second record, is an interesting tune. The rhythm is so simple and insistent. Their vocals sound particularly good on this track when they harmonize, on lines like "Runnin' around these hills, looking for that pot of gold/If you find it, you can keep it, because by then you'll be too old."  But it's the piano that really does it for me on this one.  "Fourty-Niner" was written by John Ciambotti and Alex Call. I'm not sure which of them is responsible for the misspelling.

"Chicken Butt"

My favorite track from the second album (and maybe the entire CD) is "Chicken Butt." Seriously.  I love it. It's a silly bluegrass country tune, and their vocals sound great. Plus, there is a fiddle. The song is just completely fun. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Had me a goat and her name was Fred/Milked too much and now she's dead/Had me a horse and I called him Paul/Couldn't mount him because he's too tall." And yes, they make chicken noises at one point. This tune is glorious in its absurdity. "Come back, chicken butt."

"Chicken Butt" was written by John Ciambotti, Alex Call and John McFee.

"If I Had My Way"

Grateful Dead fans take notice: "If I Had My Way," a song by Reverend Gary Davis, is the same song that became "Samson And Delilah" when the Dead did it. This version by Clover has different lyrics.

CD Track List
  1. Shotgun
  2. Southbound Train
  3. Going To The Country
  4. Monopoly
  5. Stealin'
  6. Wade In The Water
  7. No Vacancy
  8. Lizard Rock And Roll Band
  9. Come
  10. Could You Call It Love
  11. Harvest
  12. Keep On Tryin'
  13. Old Man Blues
  14. Fourty-Niner
  15. Sound Of Thunder
  16. Chicken Butt
  17. Mr. Moon
  18. Love Is Gone
  19. Mitch's Tune
  20. Sunny Mexico
  21. If I Had My Way
This re-issue was released on July 31, 2012 through Real Gone Music.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Booker T. & The MGs: "Green Onions" (1962/2012 re-issue) CD Review

"Green Onions" is probably the coolest rock instrumental tune ever recorded. It's definitely way up there on the list, if not at the very top. It was released as a single, and then as the title track from Booker T. & The MGs' first album. Concord Music Group is now releasing Green Onions as part of their Stax Remasters series.

Booker T. & The MGs were essentially the house band for Stax, appearing on albums by Otis Redding, Johnnie Taylor and Albert King, among others.  This re-issue of the Green Onions album includes new liner notes with information on how that famous title song came about. It was created quickly as the intended flip side to "Behave Yourself" (a song which is also included on this album).  And that song came about only because the four members had been hired to back Billy Lee Riley, and after a short session they just started jamming.

All tracks on this album are instrumentals. Most are covers, including a cool version of Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman" and an incredible rendition of "Lonely Avenue" (which Ray Charles also recorded).  The only one that doesn't quite work for me is "Twist And Shout." It's not bad, but just seems a less inspired choice.  There are two bonus tracks, which are live recordings from 1965 (after Donald "Duck" Dunn had joined the band).

"Green Onions"

Green Onions opens with its famous title track. In some ways, this song is so simple. Yet I never get tired of it. And it sets a very specific tone whenever it's used in a film, which is often - movies like American Graffiti (1973), The Flamingo Kid (1984), For the Boys (1991) and Striptease (1996) use it. This song has such a great groove. Written by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson and Lewis Steinberg, it was first released as a single and it reached #1 on the R&B chart and #3 on the pop chart.  I love that guitar part by Steve Cropper about a minute and a half in - just those great accents. And of course Booker T's organ work is perfect.

"Green Onions" was also included on a compilation titled Stax Number Ones, which was released in 2010.


"Rinky-Dink" is a fun tune written by David Clowney and Paul Winley (and recorded by Dave Baby Cortez). For some reason, possibly the prominence of the organ, this song reminds me of going to an afternoon baseball game in Boston. I feel like someone should shout "Play ball" at the end of the song. It just has that great summer vibe about it.

"Mo' Onions"

"Mo' Onions" is the only original track written for this album (the other two originals having had already been released as a single). This song is exactly what its title suggests, a sequel to "Green Onions." It has a slightly slower, looser feel.  And yeah, I love it.  "Mo' Onions" was written by all four band members, just as "Green Onions" was.  It was later released as a single.

"Behave Yourself"

"Behave Yourself" is the song that started it all, sort of. It's a great slow blues number, with some wonderful stuff by Booker T. Jones on organ.  This was intended to be the A side of the single, but was made the flip side after Steve Cropper convinced the owner of Stax that "Green Onions" was the better tune.  But this song could easily be an A-side as well.  It's seriously cool. It feels like a hot night in the city when your plans are loose, but you've got a good group of people with you, and there are odd promises in the air.

Bonus Tracks

This re-issue includes two bonus tracks, both being live recordings from August of 1965.  The first is a high-energy rendition of "Green Onions," with some different stuff from Steve Cropper on guitar. It includes the band's introduction at the beginning. Also, this version has Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass; he had joined the band in 1964. The track fades out, which is a shame. I'd love to hear the rest of it.

Packy Axton joined the band for a fun version of "Can't Sit Down," the CD's second bonus track. Each member takes a turn at lead, including Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass and Al Jackson on drums.  I can't help but love this rendition, though it definitely gets messy at the end.

Both bonus tracks were originally released on Funky Broadway: Stax Revue Live At The 5/4 Ballroom.

CD Track List
  1. Green Onions
  2. Rinky-Dink
  3. I Got A Woman
  4. Mo' Onions
  5. Twist And Shout
  6. Behave Yourself
  7. Stranger On The Shore
  8. Lonely Avenue
  9. One Who Really Loves You
  10. Can't Sit Down
  11. A Woman, A Lover, A Friend
  12. Comin' Home Baby
  13. Green Onions (Live)
  14. Can't Sit Down (Live)

Booker T. & The MGs are Booker T. Jones on organ, Steve Cropper on guitar, Lewis Steinberg on bass, and Al Jackson Jr. on drums. Donald "Duck" Dunnplays bass on the two live bonus tracks.  Packy Axton plays saxophone on the last track.

This special re-issue of Green Onions was released on July 24, 2012  through Concord Music Group. Last year, also as part of the Stax Remasters Series, they re-issued Booker T. & The MGs' 1970 album, McLemore Avenue.

The Beatles: Their Golden Age (2012) DVD Review

The Beatles: Their Golden Age is an hour-long documentary on the history of The Beatles. Narrated by Les Krantz, this film focuses much of its attention on the years 1963 and 1964. Obviously an hour is not nearly enough time to provide an in-depth look at this band, and much of this footage has been included in other Beatles documentaries. But there is quite a lot of old newsreel footage, which is always fun to watch, and some of it I hadn't seen before (like the footage of them arriving in Seattle). There is, however, no new information here. The filmmaker conducted no interviews.  While knowledgeable fans of the band might be disappointed, casual (or new) Beatles fans will find enough information, which is presented in chronological order so it's easy to follow. Basically the film provides a brief overview of the band's key points. 

Its biggest strength is the old newsreel footage, including snippets of interviews with band members.  One of the biggest drawbacks of this documentary, however, is its lack of Beatles music.  Obviously it's expensive (and probably difficult) to get the rights to their songs.  But a documentary about a musical group that is devoid of any of its music can only go so far.

The documentary starts with screaming fans, and in fact includes lots of shots of fans throughout. The narrator acknowledges right at the start that it was a combination of talent and timing that propelled The Beatles into stardom.  The documentary spends very little time on the group's beginning.  It mentions skiffle and the influence of Elvis Presley, and then quickly gets into the Hamburg scene with drummer Pete Best, and then immediately onto a mention of Brian Epstein.  But then suddenly the narrator is talking about "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me" having already been released, and the media catching on.  So suddenly Ringo Starr is there.  There is no mention of Pete Best being fired, and also no mention of Stu Sutcliffe.

There is some footage from a short film titled The Beatles Come To Town, which is cool.  It shows the staff of a venue getting ready for a Beatles concert, and the fans coming in. There is also footage of The Beatles holding up a giant plush panda they received as a gift. The narrator talks about the audience reaction, and says, "It was like The Beatles had lifted the lid off hundreds of years of English reserve."

We're treated to footage from their first New York appearance, including shots outside Carnegie Hall where some protesters demonstrated against the band. There are also shots of fans sleeping in Heathrow airport in England, waiting to greet The Beatles on their return home. There is some footage from a press conference at that time too, which is great.  I also like that the Variety Club awards newsreel footage is included (where John Lennon says, "Thanks for the purple hearts," eliciting laughter from the crowd).

In June of 1964, Jimmy Nicol replaced Ringo Starr on a tour when Ringo was sick, and this documentary includes some good footage of him with them. But, again, we don't hear the music. We see concert footage with Jimmy Nicol on drums, but don't hear it. It would be great to hear how much their sound was affected by the presence of a different drummer.  I also really wish there was an interview with him, even something from that year.

There is also some nice footage of the production of A Hard Day's Night (but I wish there was sound; instead we get the sound of fans screaming along with Beatles-like music). And there is a short segment about Help! (it cost three times more than A Hard Day's Night), including footage from the trailer.

There is a segment on some of the controversy surrounding the band, including a shot of the butcher cover and bits about the famous Jesus statement. Newsreel footage mentions how the KKK led the Beatle merchandise bonfires. And of course there is that footage of John explaining himself that we've all seen many times. There is also that great "prostitutes and lesbians" line from Paul McCartney, and the briefest of moments from a TV interview where Paul talks about LSD. There is also footage of the Beatles arriving at Brian Epsein's memorial (but nothing about how his death affected the band members, particularly John).

There are brief mentions of most of The Beatles albums, including Rubber Soul and Revolver (one of my personal favorite albums). But there is almost nothing about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is surprising. You'd think some of the film's time would have been dedicated to that album.  And to the White Album, particularly the way it was recorded.

There are short bits about their lives outside the band. For example, there is footage of John Lennon talking about his book In His Own Write and reading a poem. And there is a snippet of an interview with George Harrison and Pattie Boyd just after they got married (that's the stuff I really like in this film).  And we see John and Yoko Ono during their bed-in, and Paul with Linda Eastman (including great footage of Paul teasing his new daughter). 

There is a bit about Let It Be, but almost nothing about the band's breakup.  At the end, there is a short section about the band members post-Beatles.

The DVD has no special features.  The Beatles: Their Golden Age was released on July 24, 2012.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Strangely Attractive Music Video

Strangely Attractive, a Los Angeles band that I am tremendously fond of, is putting up 52 music videos in 52 weeks.  The fifth video is one that I shot for them. It's for their tune "My Happy Man," and is a live acoustic rendition of the song. It's also all one take.  I really dig this song, and I hope you'll enjoy it too.  And if you live in L.A., you should check this band out when you get the chance.  Chris Gongora, the band's bass player, was the original bass player for The Peak Show, which as you probably already know is one of my favorite bands of all time.

Here is a link to the video: "My Happy Man."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Complete List Of Articles With Links: A-M

I've been keeping a list of all my articles, with links to each of them.  Because of its length, I am now splitting the list into two blog entries.  This covers bands and artists A-M.  The second will contain N-Z plus compilations and miscellaneous articles.  I will be adding to these each time I post a review.


3 Leg Torso
- 3 Leg Torso: "Animals & Cannibals" CD review

7 Walkers
- 7 Walkers: "7 Walkers" CD review

The Ad Libs
- The Ad Libs: "The Complete Blue Cat Recordings" CD review

Cannonball Adderley
- Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans: "Know What I Mean?" CD review

Adam Aijala & Ben Kaufmann
- Adam Aijala & Ben Kaufmann: "Live At The Old Town School Of Folk Music" CD review

Anita And The Yanks
- Anita And The Yanks: "Face The Wind" CD review

Frankie Avalon
- Frankie Avalon: "Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions" CD review

- Aviatik: "Reconstruction/Deconstruction" CD review

Chet Baker
- Chet Baker: "Sings - It Could Happen To You" CD review
- Chet Baker: "The Very Best Of Chet Baker" CD review

Chris Barber
- Chris Barber: "Memories Of My Trip" CD review

Richard Barone
- Richard Barone: "Glow" CD review

Tony Bennett
- Tony Bennett: "The Best Of The Improv Recordings" CD review
- Tony Bennett: "Isn't It Romantic?" CD review

Tab Benoit
- Tab Benoit: "Legacy: The Best Of Tab Benoit" CD review

Big Head Blues Club
- Big Head Blues Club: "100 Years Of Robert Johnson" CD review

Black Party Politics
- Black Party Politics: "Hive Mind EP" CD review

Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers
- Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers: "Ugetsu" CD review

The Blasters
- The Blasters: "Live 1986" CD review

Blue Oyster Cult
- Blue Oyster Cult at Warner Park Concert Review

T.S. Bonniwell
- T.S. Bonniwell: "Close" CD review

Booker T. & The MGs
- Booker T. & The MGs: "McLemore Avenue" CD review

David Bowie
- David Bowie: "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars" 40th Anniversary Edition CD review

Paul Brady
- Paul Brady: "Hooba Dooba" CD review

- Breakaway: "Hold With Hope" CD review

David Bromberg
- David Bromberg: "Use Me" CD review

Greg Brown
- Greg Brown: "One Big Town" CD review
- Greg Brown: "One More Goodnight Kiss" CD review
- Greg Brown: "The Poet Game" CD review

Dave Brubeck
- Dave Brubeck: "The Definitive Dave Brubeck" CD review

Bullied By Strings
- Bullied By Strings show review
- Los Angeles Gets Bullied Again (Finally!)

- Cake Gives Away Tree During Concert

Glen Campbell
- Glen Campbell: "Live In Japan" CD review

Peter Case
- Phranc and Peter Case at California Plaza, 8-20-11

Marshall Chapman
- Marshall Chapman: "Big Lonesome" CD review

Ray Charles
- Ray Charles: "Live In Concert" CD review
- Ray Charles: "Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters" CD review
- Ray Charles: "Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles" box set review

Chubby Checker
- Chubby Checker: "It's Pony Time/Let's Twist Again" CD review

Slaid Cleaves
- Slaid Cleaves: "Sorrow & Smoke: Live At The Horseshoe Lounge" CD review

Jimmy Cliff
- Jimmy Cliff: "Rebirth" CD review

Closer Ocean
- Closer Ocean: "Supercollider" CD review

Dave Coffin
- Dave Coffin: "The King Is Dead" CD review

Leonard Cohen
- Leonard Cohen: "Bird On A Wire" DVD news
- Leonard Cohen: "Dear Heather" CD review
- Leonard Cohen: "Death Of A Ladies' Man" CD review
- Leonard Cohen: "Feels So Good"
- Leonard Cohen: "I'm Your Man" CD review
- Leonard Cohen in Las Vegas 12-10-10 Concert review
- Leonard Cohen in Las Vegas 12-11-10 Concert review
- Leonard Cohen North American Tour Dates
- Leonard Cohen: "Old Ideas" CD review
- Leonard Cohen: "So Long, Marianne" CD review
- Leonard Cohen: "The Best Of" CD review
- Leonard Cohen: "The Future" CD review
- The Leonard Cohen Tour Is Over - Now What?
- Leonard Cohen: "Various Positions" CD review
- New Leonard Cohen CD

Ornette Coleman
- Ornette Coleman: "Something Else!!!! The Music Of Ornette Coleman" (1958/2011 re-issue) CD review

Judy Collins
- Judy Collins: "Bread & Roses" CD review
- Judy Collins: "Fifth Album" CD review
- Judy Collins: "Home Again" CD review
- Judy Collins: "In My Life" CD review
- Judy Collins: "Running For My Life" CD review
- Judy Collins: "Times Of Our Lives" CD review
- Judy Collins: "True Stories And Other Dreams" CD review
- Judy Collins: "Whales & Nightingales" CD review

John Coltrane
- John Coltrane: "The Very Best Of John Coltrane: The Prestige Era" CD review

Chick Corea
- Chick Corea: "The Definitive Chick Corea On Stretch And Concord" CD review

Christa Couture
- Christa Couture: "Lost" CD review
- Christa Couture: "Loved" CD review

Count Crow
- Count Crow: "Count Crow's Halloween Spooktacular" CD review

Susan Cowsill
- Susan Cowsill: "Lighthouse" CD review

Miles Davis
- Miles Davis: "The Definitive Miles Davis On Prestige" CD review
- Miles Davis Featuring Sonny Rollins: "Dig" CD review
- The Miles Davis Quintet: "The Very Best Of" CD review

Moot Davis
- Moot Davis: "Man About Town" CD review

The dB's
- The dB's: "Falling Off The Sky" CD review

Dead Ringers
- Dead Ringers: "Dead Ringers" CD review

Jackie DeShannon
- Jackie DeShannon: "When You Walk In The Room" CD review

Fur Dixon & Steve Werner
- Fur Dixon & Steve Werner At McCabe's 7-15-11 Concert review
- Fur Dixon & Steve Werner at McCabe's, July 21, 2012 Concert review
- Fur Dixon & Steve Werner Record Live CD In San Pedro - Photos And Set List
- Fur Dixon & Steve Werner: "Songs Of The Open Road Volume One" CD review
- Fur Dixon & Steve Werner To Record Live Album

Thomas Dolby
- Thomas Dolby: "A Map Of The Floating City" CD review
- Thomas Dolby: "Oceanea" EP review
- Thomas Dolby Performs at the Masonic Temple at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 10-14-11

Micky Dolenz
- Micky Dolenz at Warner Park - 8-29-10 Concert review

The Dovells
- The Dovells: "For Your Hully Gully Party/You Can't Sit Down" CD review

The Dunwells
- The Dunwells: "Blind Sighted Faith" CD review

- Durocs: "Durocs" CD review

Clint Eastwood
- Clint Eastwood: "Rawhide's Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites" CD review

The Evangenitals
- The Evangenitals at The Golden Spur 9-24-11 concert review

Bill Evans Trio
- Bill Evans Trio: "Explorations" CD review
- Bill Evans Trio: "Moonbeams" CD review
- Bill Evans Trio: "Waltz For Debby" CD review

EZ Tiger
- EZ Tiger: "EZ Tiger" CD review

Finding Fiction
- Finding Fiction: "Try This At Home" CD review

Dean Fields
- Dean Fields: "Under A Searchlight Moon" CD review

Ella Fitzgerald And Joe Pass
- Ella Fitzgerald And Joe Pass: "Easy Living" CD review

Ella Fitzgerald And Oscar Peterson
- Ella Fitzgerald And Oscar Peterson: "Ella And Oscar" CD review

Fools On Sunday
- Fools On Sunday: "Fidelitorium Recording Sessions" CD review

Ruthie Foster
- Ruthie Foster Is On Tour
- Ruthie Foster: "Let It Burn" CD review

Andy Friedman
- Andy Friedman: "Laserbeams And Dreams" CD review

Gaelic Storm
- Gaelic Storm at The Troubadour 10-16-10 Concert Review
- Gaelic Storm: "Cabbage" CD review
- Gaelic Storm: "Herding Cats" CD review

Jerry Garcia
- Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band: "Almost Acoustic" CD review

Allison Geddie
- Allison Geddie: "Everything You Don't See" CD review

The George W. Bush Singers
- The George W. Bush Singers: "Songs In The Key Of W" CD review

- Germs: "(GI)" CD review

The Girls From Petticoat Junction
- The Girls From Petticoat Junction: "Sixties Sounds" CD Review

Glengarry Bhoys
- Glengarry Bhoys: "Mountain Road" CD review

Teddy Goldstein & The Goldsteins
- Teddy Goldstein & The Goldsteins: "Alright Is The New Fantastic" CD review

Holly Golightly And The Brokeoffs
- Holly Golightly And The Brokeoffs: "No Help Coming" CD review

Sakis Gouzonis
- Sakis Gouzonis: "The Tree Of Life" CD review

Grateful Dead
- Dick Latvala: The Man Behind The Grateful Dead's "Dick's Picks"
- Grateful Dead: "Crimson, White & Indigo" CD review
- Grateful Dead: Crimson, White & Indigo DVD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume One" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Two" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Three" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Five" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Six" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Seven" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Eight" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Nine" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Ten" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Eleven" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Twelve" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Thirteen" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Fifteen" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Sixteen" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Seventeen" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Nineteen" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Twenty-One" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Twenty-Two" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Twenty-Three" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume 32" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume 33" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume 34" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Go To Heaven" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "Hundred Year Hall" CD review
- Grateful Dead: "To Terrapin: Hartford '77" CD review
- Grateful Dead: Truckin' Up To Buffalo DVD review
- Grateful Dead: "Without A Net" CD review
- History Of The Grateful Dead - The 1970s
- History Of The Grateful Dead - The 1980s
- History Of The Grateful Dead - The 1990s (New Music, Albums)
- History Of The Grateful Dead - The 1990s (Changes, Final Tour)

Grateful Dread
- Grateful Dread: "The Grateful Dread" CD review

Great American Taxi
- Great American Taxi: "Reckless Habits" CD review

Holland Greco
- Holland Greco 2-13-11 Set List
- Holland Greco Adds Stand-Up Bass To Her Band
- Holland Greco At Thirsty Crow, 2-27-11 Concert Review
- Holland Greco Celebrates Birthday at Thirsty Crow, 10-16-11
- Holland Greco: "Tunnel Vision" CD review
- Megan Jacobs and Holland Greco at The Sunset Strip Music Festival, 8-19-11

The Greencards
- The Greencards At The Mint 7-5-11 Concert Review
- The Greencards: "The Brick Album" CD review

The Grownup Noise
- The Grownup Noise: "The Grownup Noise" CD review
- The Grownup Noise at The Silverlake Lounge 8-15-11 concert review
- The Grownup Noise in Los Angeles concert review
- The Grownup Noise: "Shall We?" CD review
- The Grownup Noise: "This Time With Feeling" CD review

Vince Guaraldi Trio
- Vince Guaraldi Trio: "Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus" CD review

The Heavy Guilt
- The Heavy Guilt: "In The Blood" CD review

Richard X. Heyman
- Richard X. Heyman: "Tiers/And Other Stories" CD review

Dan Hicks And The Hot Licks
- Dan Hicks And The Hot Licks: "Crazy For Christmas" CD review

Hot Club Of Cowtown
- Hot Club Of Cowtown: "What Makes Bob Holler" CD review

Shannon Hurley
- Shannon Hurley at The Hotel Cafe 8-31-11 concert review

I See Hawks In L.A.
- I See Hawks In L.A.: "New Kind Of Lonely" CD review
- I See Hawks In L.A.: "Shoulda Been Gold" CD review

Jim Infantino
- Jim Infantino: "Strawman" CD review

Kate Jacobs
- Kate Jacobs: "Home Game" CD review

Megan Jacobs
- Megan Jacobs and Holland Greco at The Sunset Strip Music Festival, 8-19-11

Jefferson Airplane
- Jefferson Airplane: "Live At The Fillmore Auditorium 10/15/66 Late Show - Signe's Farewell" CD review
- Jefferson Airplane: "Live At The Fillmore Auditorium 10/16/66 Early & Late Shows - Grace's Debut" CD review
- Jefferson Airplane: "Live At The Fillmore Auditorium 11/25/66/ & 11/27/66 - We Have Ignition" CD review
- Jefferson Airplane: "Return To The Matrix 02/01/68" CD review
- New Jefferson Airplane Albums To Be Released

Freedy Johnston
- Freedy Johnston: "Rain On The City" CD review

Diana Jones
- Diana Jones: "High Atmosphere" CD review

- Kanary: "Haunted" CD review

Tommy Keene
- Tommy Keene: "Behind The Parade" CD review

Paul Kelly
- Paul Kelly: "Greatest Hits: Songs From The South Volumes 1 & 2" CD review

Kelly's Lot
- Kelly's Lot: "The Light" CD review
- Kelly's Lot: "Live In Brussels" CD review
- Kelly's Lot: "Pastrami & Jam" CD review

Albert King
- Albert King: "The Definitive Albert King On Stax" CD review
- Albert King: "I'll Play The Blues For You" CD review

Albert King With Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Albert King With Stevie Ray Vaughan: "In Session" DVD/CD review

Carole King
- Carole King: "Pearls: Songs Of Goffin And King" CD review
- Carole King: "Simple Things" CD review
- Carole King: "Touch The Sky" CD review
- Carole King: "Welcome Home" CD review

King Teddy
- King Teddy: "Stirred And Shaken" CD review
- King Teddy: "A Very Teddy Christmas" EP review

The Brian Kinler Band
- The Brian Kinler Band at M Bar, 6-23-12
- The Brian Kinler Band At Vitello's - Concert Review
- The Brian Kinler Band Performs At M Bar In Hollywood, 10-3-10
- The Brian Kinler Band: "Stories From The Quarter" CD review

Terry Knight And The Pack
- Terry Knight And The Pack: "Terry Knight And The Pack/Reflections" CD review

Sonny Landreth
- Sonny Landreth: "Elemental Journey" CD review

Alvin Lee
- Alvin Lee: "Still On The Road To Freedom" CD review

The Life Of Riley
- The Life Of Riley: "The Life Of Riley" CD review
- The Life Of Riley: "Live In Hollywood At The Hotel Cafe" CD review
- The Life Of Riley: "Long Way Home EP" CD review

Mark Lindsay
- Mark Lindsay: "The Complete Columbia Singles" CD review

Little Richard
- Little Richard: "Here's Little Richard" enhanced CD review

Sam Llanas
- Sam Llanas: "4 A.M." CD review

The Loomers
- The Loomers: "Reeling Down A Road" CD review

The Lovin' Spoonful
- The Lovin' Spoonful: "Daydream" CD review

Jan Luby
- Jan Luby: "Nobody's Girl" CD review

Madame Pamita
- Madame Pamita show review

Aimee Mann
- Aimee Mann: "@#%&*! Smilers" CD review

Marley's Ghost
- Marley's Ghost: "Ghost Town" CD review
- Marley's Ghost: "Jubilee" CD review

Jimbo Mathus
- Jimbo Mathus: "Blue Light" EP review

Paul McCartney
- Paul McCartney: "McCartney" CD review
- Paul McCartney: "McCartney II" CD review
- Paul And Linda McCartney: "Ram" CD review

Anne McCue
- Anne McCue: "Broken Promise Land" CD review

McGough & McGear
- McGough & McGear: "McGough & McGear" CD review

Lori McKenna
- Lori McKenna: "Pieces Of Me" CD review

James McMurtry
- James McMurtry: "Childish Things" CD review
- James McMurtry: "Live In Europe" CD review

Bill Medley