Thursday, May 14, 2015

Keep Calm And Salute The Beatles (2015) CD Review

Keep Calm And Salute The Beatles, a new compilation of Beatles covers, features a pretty incredible selection of artists including Judy Collins, David Clayton-Thomas and Leo Sayer. Especially exciting is the inclusion of Jack Bruce, who died in October. His version of “Eleanor Rigby” is his last recording, and so this album is worth owning for that alone. Plus, I’m excited that my two favorite Beatles songs are covered here – “Something” and “Across The Universe.”

The album opens with “Across The Universe,” done here by Ann Wilson (yes, of Heart). She does a good job with it, capturing the mood of the original. That’s followed by a much lighter number, “Penny Lane,” performed by John Wetton. This is a pretty sweet rendition, and includes some nice percussion. It’s interesting to hear folks known for harder rock covering these songs.

Of course, for me the most interesting track is Jack Bruce’s version of “Eleanor Rigby.” I saw Jack Bruce perform once in the late 1980s, and he was fantastic. Known primarily for his work with Cream, here he gives a wonderfully sad and emotional performance of “Eleanor Rigby,” accompanied by strings. So effective is his performance that my girlfriend, listening to this CD with me, asked me if he committed suicide. Another of my favorite tracks is Andrew Gold’s rendition of “Norwegian Wood.” It’s fairly faithful to the original. This song was actually released previously on Andrew Gold’s Copy Cat.

Helen Reddy covers “All You Need Is Love” on this CD. It had been a while since I’d last listened to Helen Reddy, and I don’t think I would have recognized this track as being hers without the CD case. The style of “All You Need Is Love” is so different from what I know of her work, and she really captures the feel of the original. She does repeat “Love is all you need, at the end, even whispering it at the very end, but drops the “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” bit from her version. Judy Collins then follows with a pretty rendition of “I’ll Follow The Sun.”

One of the album’s surprises is Howard Jones’ nice cover of “And I Love Her.” His vocal performance is seriously good. Another surprise is KC’s version of “Let It Be.” Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. I saw KC & The Sunshine Band in concert several years ago, and it was probably the best show I saw that year. So I know the guy is talented. But this rendition is so heartfelt and moving, quite a bit different from his most famous material. It’s followed by an excellent and equally moving version of “Yesterday” by David Clayton-Thomas.

Stephen Bishop dips into The Beatles’ earlier material with “All I’ve Got To Do,” here titled “All I Gotta Do.” This is a tune from the group’s second LP, With The Beatles, and Stephen does a really good acoustic rendition. It’s followed by Billy Sherwood’s version of “Something,” my personal favorite Beatles song. Billy Sherwood also produced this compilation, and his take on “Something” is wonderful. The CD then concludes with Leo Sayer’s version of “Hey Jude.” It's a good rendition, and I really love the harmonica.

CD Track List
  1. Across The Universe – Ann Wilson
  2. Penny Lane – John Wetton
  3. Eleanor Rigby – Jack Bruce
  4. Blackbird – Liz Madden
  5. Norwegian Wood – Andrew Gold
  6. Hide Your Love Away – Todd Rundgren
  7. All You Need Is Love – Helen Reddy
  8. I’ll Follow The Sun – Judy Collins
  9. And I Love Her – Howard Jones
  10. Ticket To Ride – Felix Cavaliere
  11. Let It Be – KC
  12. Yesterday – David Clayton Thomas
  13. Nowhere Man – Martha Davis
  14. All I Gotta Do – Stephen Bishop
  15. Something – Billy Sherwood
  16. Hey Jude – Leo Sayer
Keep Calm And Salute The Beatles was released on April 28, 2015 on Purple Pyramid Records, a division of Cleopatra Records.

So-Called Grateful Dead Concerts Will Be Broadcast Online

Thinking about these upcoming concerts by the surviving members of the Grateful Dead generally angers or saddens me, depending on what aspect I’m focusing on. These reunion shows are billed as their final shows, which is annoying enough. I hate when bands announce a final show. How do they know they won’t want to play together again? That aside, the money involved in attending any of these concerts is disgusting. But word was the shows would be broadcast online for those of us who didn’t want to spend sixty dollars just to park our cars. And yes, the shows will be broadcast online. But they won’t be free. If you want to watch the Santa Clara shows, you have to pay $19.95 per night, and if you want to watch the Chicago shows, you have to pay $29.95 per night. Now that might not sound like much, especially to the imbeciles who recently paid a hundred dollars to watch two people punch each other, but it’s the spirit of the thing that is the issue here. If it were any other band doing this, I wouldn’t care. U2? Fine, they sold out ages ago. Rolling Stones? Fine. But the Grateful Dead? This was a band that was somehow unlike any other. They meant something. You know? Why the fuck are the surviving members trying to take every penny possible here? There used to be live radio broadcasts of shows back in the day, and those were free. Free. But sadly this is not a return to those days. Nothing about this entire venture rings true. It seems the spirit of the band is dead, and the members have become greedy monsters out to destroy our memories and make a ton of money. It’s a shame. The Grateful Dead was the best live band I ever saw, and their shows were unlike those of any other band. That band ended twenty years ago with the death of Jerry Garcia. These shows will not be the final Grateful Dead concerts. The final Grateful Dead concert was performed on July 9, 1995.

By the way, in the email they sent out advertising the webcast, they wrote: “Each concert will be a uniquely different that you won't want to miss, with the July 5 concert event being the last time the band will play together.” First of all, they left out the noun. A uniquely different what? But, more importantly, the phrase “uniquely different” is completely retarded and redundant. If something is unique, it can’t help but be different from all others. “Unique” means there is only one of it. And lastly, every Grateful Dead concert was unique. That is not anything that needs to be mentioned. The band never did the same show twice. But of course this announcement isn’t aimed at the fans; it seems to be aimed at those people who know little or nothing about the band. And perhaps it is those people that this entire venture is for. And perhaps those are the people who will be able to enjoy it. Because, once again, this isn’t the Grateful Dead. This is something else, a shadow of the band. A greedy shadow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Music To Take On The Road (Road Trip Mix CD Ideas)

In my CD reviews, I sometimes mention adding a song to my road trip mixes. And I thought it was about time to actually compile a list. Some choices are obvious, and have been on various mixes of mine for years. Others are more recent additions. But all have something to do with being out on the road or about heading home. I thought about various ways of presenting the list, and decided to simply arrange the songs in alphabetical order by the artists' names.
  • Highway To Hell – AC/DC
  • Key To The Highway – Dave Alvin And Phil Alvin
  • I Get Around – The Beach Boys
  • Two Of Us – The Beatles
  • Massachusetts – Bee Gees
  • No Particular Place To Go  – Chuck Berry
  • Route 66  – Chuck Berry (a lot of folks have recorded this song)
  • California Stars  – Billy Bragg and Wilco
  • Fast Cars – The Buzzcocks (for a fun change of pace, with lines like “I don't wanna cause a fuss, but fast cars are so dangerous/Fast cars, fast cars/Fast cars, I hate fast cars”)
  • Wasn't Born To Follow –  The Byrds
  • Going Up The Country – Canned Heat
  • On The Road Again – Canned Heat
  • I’ve Been Everywhere  – Johnny Cash
  • Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
  • The Long Road Home – Dave Coffin
  • Smooth Sailing – Dave Coffin
  • Hot Rod Lincoln – Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen
  • Up Around The Bend – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
  • The Wanderer – Dion And The Belmonts
  • Backroads And Blue Skies – Fur Dixon And Steve Werner
  • Everyday A Different Journey – Fur Dixon And Steve Werner
  • Homesick For The Highway Blues – Fur Dixon And Steve Werner
  • Where Are We Going –  Fur Dixon And Steve Werner
  • Kansas City – Fats Domino
  • Fool At The Wheel  – Duces Of Rhythm And Tempo Toppers
  • It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry – Bob Dylan
  • Eighteen Wheels – Ronnie Fauss
  • Radar Love – Golden Earring
  • Friend Of The Devil  – Grateful Dead
  • Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad – Grateful Dead (actually a Woody Guthrie song)
  • Liberty – Grateful Dead
  • Ripple – Grateful Dead (my favorite song, and definitely one to have along on a road trip)
  • So Many Roads – Grateful Dead
  • Truckin’ – Grateful Dead
  • Way To Go Home – Grateful Dead
  • Make It Out West –  The Greencards
  • Car Song  – Woody Guthrie
  • Hard Travelin’ – Woody Guthrie
  • Highway Down –  I See Hawks In L.A.
  • If You Lead I Will Follow  –   I See Hawks In L.A.
  • I’m A Rover – Irish Rovers 
  • Rocky Road To Dublin – The Kilkennys (a lot of bands have done this song, and pretty much all versions are good)
  • Strangers – The Kinks
  • Going To California – Led Zeppelin
  • Virginia  – Josh Lederman Y Los Diablos
  • America – Brian Mackey
  • Waltz Across Texas – Marlee MacLeod
  • King Of The Road – Roger Miller
  • Roadrunner – The Modern Lovers (Joan Jett also did a good cover of this song)
  • As We Go Along – The Monkees
  • Movin' Right Along – The Muppets
  • American Ride – Willie Nile
  • 3,000 Miles – Ellis Paul
  • Road Trip – Ellis Paul (especially if you have kids with you)
  • Beep Beep  – The Playmates
  • Diner – Martin Sexton
  • Freedom Of The Road – Martin Sexton
  • America – Simon And Garfunkel
  • Homeward Bound – Simon And Garfunkel
  • Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen
  • Miles From Nowhere – Cat Stevens
  • On The Road To Find Out – Cat Stevens
  • Take The Long Way Home – Supertramp
  • Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads
  • 1952 Vincent Black Lightning  – Richard Thompson
  • Highway In The Sun – Trip Shakespeare
  • Long Way Home – Tom Waits
  • Midnight Bus – Jesse Winchester
  • 40 Miles From Denver – Yonder Mountain String Band
  • Town – Yonder Mountain String Band
Compiling this list makes me eager to start planning a long drive. It’s been way too long since my last extensive road trip, and I’m itching to get on the road. By the way, while this list is obviously not meant to be comprehensive, feel free to leave comments with suggestions for other appropriate tunes. I may include them on my next road trip mix.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Lauren White With The Quinn Johnson Trio: “Experiment” (2015) CD Review

Lauren White is a jazz vocalist based in Los Angeles. On her new release, Experiment, she is joined by the Quinn Johnson Trio, made up of Quinn Johnson on piano, Trey Henry on bass and Ray Brinker on drums. Quinn Johnson also arranged and produced this CD, and worked with Lauren White on her 2013 release, Meant To Be. This new album also features a couple of special guests. Many of these songs should be familiar to you, and Lauren White does some interesting things with them. The album cover mentions that these tracks are “Inspired by the recordings of Irene Kral,” and you can certainly hear the similarities to their approaches. That being said, it's not like Lauren White is trying to copy Irene Kral's recordings.

The album opens with a good rendition of “Like Someone In Love,” a jazz standard. I love the way it begins with Trey Henry creating a cool rhythm on bass and then the other musicians coming in, paving the way for Lauren White’s entrance. “Lately I find myself gazing at stars/Hearing guitars like someone in love.” “Like Someone In Love” was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, and was a hit for Bing Crosby in the 1940s. Lauren White picks up the pace just a bit in her version, and this rendition features a wonderful groove. There is an excellent instrumental section approximately halfway through.

Lauren White then slows things down with her version of “Rock Me To Sleep,” a sweet tune written by Paul Vandervoort II and Benny Carter. Though a much mellower track, there is still a nice groove. Lauren delivers it almost like a jazz lullaby, and it totally works. It’s a bit more mellow than the version by Irene Kral. Kleber Jorge plays guitar on this track. Kleber Jorge also plays guitar on the Latin jazz number “Winter Moon,” written by Laurindo Almeida and Portia Nelson.

“Better Than Anything” is kind of a silly, playful tune written by David “Buck” Wheat and Bill Loughborough, and here it is delivered as a duet with Mitch Ellis. I love what Quinn Johnson does on piano on this track. And check out those nice touches on drums by Ray Brinker.

One of my favorite tracks is “It Isn’t So Good,” written by Tommy Wolf and Fran Landesman. Lauren’s version isn’t as lush and full as that by Irene Kral; after all, there is no horn section. But I actually prefer it. It has a more intimate feel, particularly at the beginning, due mainly to Lauren’s vocals and Trey Henry’s wonderful work on bass. “It isn’t so good that it couldn’t get better/It isn’t so bad that it couldn’t be worse.” And there is a delightful, though short piano solo in the middle, leading to a wonderful instrumental section. I wish that part stretched out a bit longer.

Another favorite of mine is “Small Day Tomorrow,” with its delicious late-night vibe. This song was written by Bob Dorough and Fran Landesman. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “I’ve got a small day tomorrow/I can sleep the day away/It won’t cause too much sorrow/Not tomorrow.” I love Lauren White’s delivery here. She really finds a lot to do with this composition.

“Experiment,” the album’s title track, is a Cole Porter song, and so of course is another of the CD’s highlights. Lauren White slows this song down and stretches it out to approximately twice its original length. (It’s also much longer than Irene Kral’s rendition.) Her version begins with a pretty instrumental section featuring Jodi Burnett on cello. I am always a sucker for cello, and certainly that instrument is part of this track’s appeal for me. Lauren’s vocals have a strange, dreamy quality at moments in this song. Jodi Burnett also plays cello on “You Are There.”

The album concludes with “Rain,” a short instrumental track that is a continuation of "Gentle Rain."

CD Track List
  1. Like Someone In Love
  2. Rock Me To Sleep
  3. Better Than Anything
  4. Sometime Ago
  5. Gentle Rain
  6. It Isn’t So Good
  7. This Is Always
  8. Show Me
  9. Winter Moon
  10. Wheelers And Dealers
  11. Small Day Tomorrow
  12. Lucky To Be Me
  13. Experiment
  14. You Are There
  15. Rain 
Experiment is scheduled to be released on June 5, 2015 on Cherry Pie. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Andrew Gold: “The Late Show – Live 1978” (2015) CD Review

Andrew Gold is known for his 1970s hits “Lonely Boy” and “Thank You For Being A Friend,” as well as for his work with Linda Ronstadt, Art Garfunkel and many other artists. The Late Show – Live 1978 captures him at his best. It is a recording of the last show of his 1978 tour, on April 22nd at Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood. This was his home turf, and this recording finds him relaxed and having a good time. This CD from Omnivore Recordings marks the first release of this live material, and features liner notes by band member Brock Walsh, including thoughts on each of the songs.

This CD opens with “I’m A Gambler,” a tune from his first, self-titled album. This is kind of a light, fun song to get things off to a good start. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Hey, you know I’d love to live the dream/Black tie tuxedo and a chauffeured limousine/Wining and dining all my friends/You know I’d pick up the check and win it back again.” After welcoming the crowd, he goes into “Hope You Feel Good,” a really good love song that Andrew Gold wrote with Stephen Ferguson. This was the first track from his second album, What’s Wrong With This Picture?

When introducing “Gambler,” a song written by Kenny Edwards, Andrew says, “We were in this band called The Rangers, from 1972.” Someone shouts out, and he responds, “Somebody actually knows The Rangers?” He adds, regarding the song, “It’s not on any album.” Well, now it is. It’s a good, lively song, with a nice instrumental section. “I ain’t no gambler, but baby, this ain’t no game.”

And it’s after that song that he gets into the material that should be more familiar to everyone. In introducing “Endless Flight,” Andrew jokes, “This is dedicated to all the horrible airline pilots that have flown us from here to New York.” And as soon as those first notes begin on the piano, the crowd cheers. “Endless Flight” is a wonderful song, and it’s so great to revisit it. You might also be familiar with Leo Sayer’s cover, which was the title track for his 1976 release. Someone in the crowd shouts out, “All right, Andrew!” And Andrew follows “Endless Flight” with “Thank You For Being A Friend,” another of his most famous songs, this one coming from his 1978 record All This And Heaven Too, released just before this concert. This song was also released as a single, and then years later used as the theme song for the television series The Golden Girls (though that was a cover version by Cynthia Fee). This is a sweet song, with lines like “And when we both get older/With walking canes and hair of gray/Have no fear even though it’s hard to hear/I will stand real close and shout/Thank you for being a friend.” (The original album version has the line as “I will stand real close and say.”)

Andrew Gold performs a couple more tracks from All This And Heaven Too: “Oh Urania (Take Me Away)” and “How Can This Be Love.” I’m particularly fond of “Oh Urania (Take Me Away),” with the opening lines “One hundred million billion/Stars up in the sky/Each one looks so beautiful/Reflected in your eyes/I wonder if there could be life up there.” “How Can This Be Love” was written by Mark Safan and Mark Goldenberg, and it was the opening track for All This And Heaven Too. After that tune, that guy yells out “All right, Andrew!” again, and Andrew responds: “Buy him a drink. In fact, drinks for the house.” Andrew then tells an interesting anecdote about the writing of “That’s Why I Love You.”

Of course he does “Lonely Boy,” his biggest hit, a song originally included on What’s Wrong With This Picture? This song always makes me smile. It reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The original version features Linda Ronstadt on backing vocals. Here Andrew Gold ends the set with it. It’s a good closing number, but Andrew Gold isn’t quite done. When he comes back for the first encore, he jokes, “We didn’t have anything prepared, you know, so while we were standing right there in the stairway right over there, just waiting there, we wrote this song, and arranged it and everything.” He then does a cover of The Beatles’ “Doctor Robert.” The other encores are “Go Back Home Again” and a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.”

CD Track List
  1. I’m A Gambler
  2. Hope You Feel Good
  3. Gambler
  4. Endless Flight
  5. Thank You For Being A Friend
  6. Oh Urania (Take Me Away)
  7. How Can This Be Love
  8. That’s Why I Love You
  9. One Of Them Is Me
  10. A Note From You
  11. Lonely Boy
  12. Doctor Robert
  13. Go Back Home Again
  14. Roll Over Beethoven

Andrew Gold is on lead vocals, guitar and keyboard. Joining him are George Marinelli on guitar and vocals; Brock Walsh on keyboard, guitar and vocals; Bryan Garofalo on bass and vocals; and Stan Kipper on drums and vocals.

The Late Show – Live 1978 is scheduled to be released on May 12, 2015 through Omnivore Recordings.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Knack: “Zoom” (1998/2015) CD Review

The Knack was a group that seemed to peak very early. Their biggest hit, “My Sharona,” was from the band’s debut album in 1979. And many people think that’s the only song of theirs that they know. However, that’s likely not true. This group had quite a bit of good material, and they continued to release good albums right up to the end, as well as put on fun concerts. I saw The Knack in concert once many years ago in Woodland Hills during one of their later tours, and I have to say they put on an excellent show. They were definitely a fun band to dance to. Now three of the band’s last albums are being re-issued. Zoom, originally released in 1998, was actually re-issued in 2003 as Re-Zoom, with a few bonus tracks. The new 2015 re-issue includes five bonus tracks, none of which were included on Re-Zoom. It includes the earlier liner notes, as well as new liner notes by Prescott Niles. This is fun power pop, so just go ahead and enjoy it.

Zoom opens with a ridiculously bright pop song titled “Pop Is Dead.” Kind of perfect, don’t you think? Here is the chorus: “Hey, pop is dead/Bring your shovel/Hey, pop is dead/Bust your bubble/Hey, pop is dead/Please don't trouble me/Not while I'm watching TV.” It’s followed by “Can I Borrow A Kiss,” which has my vote for the worst song title of the album. It’s a harmless little tune, but I definitely prefer the following track, “Smilin.’” It gets me right from its opening lines: “You tell me you're the second coming/But you come once and then you're done/When you're with me you say you're slumming/You must believe that I'm really dumb.” And I like these lines: “And it's gonna smear/The lipstick from your sneer.” This is one of those great songs about being out from under someone’s spell. These first three tracks were all written by Doug Fieger and Berton Averre.

“Mister Magazine” was written by Doug Fieger, and features some nice backing vocals which give it a bit of a 1960s pop feel. This song is about the less noble side of journalism, with lines like “He's perfected the art of the vicious and mean/Just a day at the office for mister magazine.” My favorite lines are: “Remorse, he can't feel it/His source won't reveal it/Of course it's the public's right to buy it.” The bonus tracks include a demo version of this song.

“Everything I Do” has a sweeter, prettier feel. The vocals are particularly good. Here are the opening lines: “Everything I do makes her sad/If I say I love her then it just makes her mad/Nothing I can do will make her love me too.” “Everything I Do” was written by Melissa Connell and Doug Fieger, and is one of my favorite tracks.

“Terry & Julie Step Out” has deliberate 1960s elements, including nods to “Twist And Shout” (near the beginning) and “Revolution 9” (listen closely at the one-minute mark), and these elements work so well with the lyrics. The Terry and Julie of the song’s title are Terence Stamp and Julie Christie, who starred together in Far From The Madding Crowd and who are also mentioned in The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset.”

“Harder On You” is fun and catchy pop song written by Prescott Niles and Berton Averre. It also has some nice rock elements to keep things interesting. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “I never would change one thing about you/It won't be so easy living without you, without you/And though it's gonna be hard on me/Feeling the way that I do/I know it's gonna be harder on.” A demo version of this song is included in the bonus tracks. And “Good Enough” truly rocks, with a great beat. This is one of my favorite tracks. It was written by Doug Fieger and Berton Averre. “Tomorrow” is also more of a rock song.

The original album concludes with “(All In The) All In All,” which is a slower, more psychedelic number. I really like the groove and sound of this track, though some of the lyrics are a bit on the weaker side. The bonus tracks include a demo version of this song. Besides the demos already mentioned, the bonus tracks also include “She Says” and a version of “My Sharona” with Terry Bozzio on drums. “My Sharona” is as good as ever.

CD Track List
  1. Pop Is Dead
  2. Can I Borrow A Kiss
  3. Smilin’
  4. Ambition
  5. Mister Magazine
  6. Everything I Do
  7. Love Is All There Is
  8. Terry & Julie Step Out
  9. Harder On You
  10. You Gotta Be There
  11. Good Enough
  12. In Blue Tonight
  13. Tomorrow
  14. (All In The) All In All
  15. She Says
  16. Mister Magazine (Demo)
  17. Harder On You (Demo)
  18. (All In The) All In All (Demo)
  19. My Sharona (Terry Bozzio Version) 
This special re-issue of Zoom is scheduled to be released on May 19, 2015 through Omnivore Recordings. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Canned Heat: “Stockholm 1973” (2015) CD Review

Three new live albums by blues rock band Canned Heat are being released on Cleopatra Records. The first, Carnegie Hall 1971, captures a performance the band did with John Lee Hooker, and was released in April. The second, Stockholm 1973, is a concert Canned Heat did on June 17, 1973 in Stockholm, Sweden. Like the first release, this CD includes liner notes by Dave Thompson, including portions of an interview with drummer Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra.

The disc kicks off with “Let’s Work Together,” a tune that was a hit for the band in 1970, and a song that was also included on Carnegie Hall 1971. It opens with an introduction: “We’re going to have ourselves some fun tonight. We’re going to do an old one now, one that we made about three years ago called ‘Let’s Work Together.’” Funny how at the time a song that was three years old was considered “an old one.” Ah, our changing perspectives. Anyway, this is a really good rendition, featuring some nice work by Ed Beyer on organ. Beyer had joined the band the previous year.

That’s followed by one of the band’s most famous songs, “On The Road Again,” which was originally sung by band member Alan Wilson (who died in 1970) and released as a single. The version here includes a great, lively, bluesy jam. And the following tune, “Harley Davidson Blues,” is one of my favorites on this release. It’s a fun, playful, catchy tune, with a cool country edge. Then “Election Blues” includes a false start, with the band changing the key (“We gotta change the key on that, fellows – let’s lower that down one”) and starting over. This is a good slow blues number with some timely political references: “Things seemed to be going right, then Watergate hit us, was a mighty blow” and “Dick’s on the throne again, baby, leaning so far right we might fall in.” But it’s the guitar work during the instrumental section that makes this track something special. And in the next instrumental section, there is some wonderful stuff on piano. This version of “Election Blues” is more than ten minutes long, and so there is plenty of room for these musicians to shine.

“So Long Wrong” also includes a groovy, energized jam. And then “Shake ‘N’ Boogie,” at fourteen minutes, is all about the jam. While not as long as the rendition included on Carnegie Hall 1971 (which is approximately twenty minutes), this version has a lot of fun moments, including some vocal play near the beginning and nods to “Let The Good Times Roll” (the Shirley And Lee tune). And of course there’s a guitar solo to sink your teeth into, and some very cool work on bass, as well as a drum solo. This track is obviously one of the disc’s highlights. The CD then concludes with “Goodbye For Now,” a good blues tune. Toward the end, they tell the crowd: “I hope you all had a good time tonight, or this afternoon, or whatever it is. We had some fun.” This track oddly quickly fades out at the end, and it feels like we might be missing the last few moments of the performance.

CD Track List
  1. Let’s Work Together
  2. On The Road Again
  3. Harley Davidson Blues
  4. Election Blues
  5. So Long Wrong
  6. Shake ‘N’ Boogie
  7. Goodbye For Now 
Stockholm 1973 is scheduled to be released on May 12, 2015 through Purple Pyramid, a division of Cleopatra Records.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Canned Heat with John Lee Hooker: “Carnegie Hall 1971” (2015) CD Review

Canned Heat is best known for the hits “Going Up The Country” and “On The Road Again,” but this was mainly a blues rock band, and they put out an album with John Lee Hooker titled Hooker ‘N’ Heat in early 1971. The album was all John Lee Hooker material, and was the last studio album to feature Alan Wilson, who died of a drug overdose in late 1970 (a member of the 27 Club). In the spring of 1971, Canned Heat performed with John Lee Hooker at Carnegie Hall. Part of the show was recorded, and now you can hear it with the release of Carnegie Hall 1971.  This CD features liner notes by Dave Thompson, with portions of an interview with drummer Fito de a Parra.

This CD opens with “Framed,” which the band dedicates to Abbie Hoffman, who was in the audience that night. And this version contains lyrics related to Julius Hoffman, that total fuckhead of a judge who oversaw the trial of the Chicago Eight (where Abbie Hoffman was one of the defendants): “When Judge Julius Hoffman walks down, sticks a joint in one pocket, some reds in the other, turns around to the jury and says, ‘Convict that hippie, he’s an addict,’ what could I do?” There is also a nice jam. (By the way, in the liner notes Dave Thompson writes “Abby Hoffman,” not Abbie Hoffman, but I can only assume he didn’t mean the Canadian track and field athlete.) “Framed” was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and was originally recorded by The Robins, and later by Cheech And Chong.

They follow that with “Let’s Work Together,” a song which was a hit for the band in 1970. “Let’s Work Together” was written by Wilbert Harrison. At the end of that tune, they introduce John Lee Hooker, and things get much bluesier with “Hey Babe,” a song he wrote. I love that great, mean vibe. This track is one of the highlights of the CD, and it’s followed by the album’s monster track, a twenty-minute version of “Shake ‘N’ Boogie,” which has a whole lot of energy. “I feel good, I feel good, I feel good now/Higher, a bit little higher, a little bit higher, a little bit higher.” There’s a wild guitar solo, and approximately eight minutes in it seems the song is coming to a conclusion. But no. Instead, it is just getting going, entering into a great jam. Sure, it gets a bit messy at moments, but that’s all right. And it leads to a fairly long drum solo.

This CD also includes a rendition of Willie Dixon’s “Back Door Man,” which opens with some chaotic and expressive electric guitar and has an unbridled energy throughout. The album then concludes with “Tease Me Baby,” a tune written by John Lee Hooker and Bernard Besman.

CD Track List
  1. Framed
  2. Let’s Work Together
  3. Hey Babe
  4. Shake ‘N’ Boogie
  5. Back Door Man
  6. Tease Me Baby
Carnegie Hall 1971 was released on April 14, 2015 on Cleopatra Records.

Grateful Dead: “Dave’s Picks Volume 14” (2015) CD Review

Dave’s Picks Volume 14 contains the complete show that the Grateful Dead did on March 26, 1972 at The Academy Of Music in New York. This was an interesting time for the band. Keith Godchaux had joined already, but Pigpen was still hard at it, and in fact had some new material, which can be heard on this three-disc set. And the band was about to tackle Europe. In fact, these New York shows were the last shows before their famous Europe ’72 tour. This three-disc set is limited to 16,500 copies, each numbered (mine is number 14077). And if you ordered a subscription, this set also includes Dave’s Picks 2015 Bonus Disc.

Disc 1

The first disc contains most of the first set (the final song not fitting, and so opening the second disc), starting off with “Greatest Story Ever Told.” That tune is followed by some great stage banter about choosing a song, and about a guy hollering out requests for “Alligator.” The band then goes into a really nice version of “Cold Rain And Snow.”

Pigpen then gets things rocking with “Chinatown Shuffle,” one of his new tunes, and one that is a tremendous amount of fun. For those who haven’t heard it, here is a taste of the lyrics: “And I can't handle your problems/Don't try to handle mine/Get yourself a shotgun, a pocket full of shells/And we can while away the time.” It’s a breezy number, not one of those epic Pigpen grooves, but still really good. The first disc also contains Pigpen’s “Mr. Charlie,” a song the band debuted the previous summer.

The band goes country with a cover of Hank Williams’ “You Win Again,” a song they did only in 1971 and 1972. It’s a shame they didn’t do this one more often. It’s an excellent song, and Jerry does a great job with it. They also do covers of “Big Railroad Blues,” “Big Boss Man” and “El Paso.”

The first set also includes sweet renditions of “Jack Straw” and “Looks Like Rain.” And after a nice “Loser,” there is a surprising joke about a Steely Dan, William S. Burroughs’ term for a special dildo (from his book Naked Lunch). There’s more delightful stage banter before “Playing In The Band.” This is a seriously good “Playing,” with a lively and exciting jam.

Disc 2

The second disc begins with the final song of the first set, Pigpen belting out “Good Lovin’.” And of course it’s his vocal improvisation during the song’s jam that is the track’s highlight. His repetition of “All night long” at one point might call to mind “Wang Dang Doodle.”

The second set opens with a bang – a seriously good version of “Truckin’” with a jam that just keeps rocking. My lower back had been hurting for several days, and I couldn’t help but dance to this one. And you know, I think it helped. And then ten minutes in, the guys return to the song’s final verse. Why not? And after that, the jam gets a bit mellower and exploratory, and eases into a drum solo, which then breaks open into an excellent “The Other One.” This version begins as a great, pounding number, and soon goes off into odd territory. And more than ten minutes into the tune, they return to main theme of the song and sing the first verse. And then it’s off into the unknown again. Then when it seems they might return to that main theme again, interestingly “Me And My Uncle” emerges. The second that song ends, the band does go back to the main theme of “The Other One” and after a little while gets round to the second verse. This entire section is fantastic, and is one of the highlights of the show.

Disc 3

As the second disc ends, the band is going into “Wharf Rat” out of “The Other One,” and it is there where the third disc picks up. “Wharf Rat” is one of my favorite Dead tunes, and this rendition is wonderful. I especially like the quiet delivery of the “But I’ll get back on my feet someday” section, and how “I’ll get up and fly away” emerges powerfully from that. “Sugar Magnolia” has a ton of energy, as you’d expect, and there is a nice long pause before “Sunshine Daydream.” And then Pigpen brings things down a bit with a moving rendition of his “The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion).” This song was played just a dozen times, all in 1972.  The band then wraps things up with “Not Fade Away” into “Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad” back into “Not Fade Away.” Apparently, there was no encore that night. None was needed; the band had already given the audience everything.

CD Track List

Disc 1
  1. Greatest Story Ever Told
  2. Cold Rain And Snow
  3. Chinatown Shuffle
  4. Black-Throated Wind
  5. You Win Again
  6. Mr. Charlie
  7. Jack Straw
  8. Loser
  9. Looks Like Rain
  10. Big Railroad Blues
  11. Big Boss Man
  12. Playing In The Band
  13. El Paso 
Disc 2
  1. Good Lovin’
  2. Truckin’ >
  3. Drums  >
  4. The Other One >
  5. Me And My Uncle >
  6. The Other One
Disc 3
  1. Wharf Rat
  2. Sugar Magnolia
  3. The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)
  4. Not Fade Away >
  5. Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad >
  6. Not Fade Away
Dave’s Picks Volume 14 was released in May of 2015. My copy arrived on May 1, 2015.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Grateful Dead: “Dave’s Picks 2015 Bonus Disc” (2015) CD Review

If you get a year’s subscription to the Dave’s Picks series of live Grateful Dead recordings, at some point in the year you receive a bonus disc. This year’s bonus disc arrived yesterday, in the same package as Dave’s Picks Volume 14. Like Volume 14, this disc contains music from March of 1972 (the month I was born). This bonus disc contains music from two shows that month – March 21 and March 27, both at the Academy Of Music in New York.

It starts with the March 27th show, with some tunes from the first set. The disc kicks off with a high-energy rendition of “Bertha,” which opened the show. There is some funny stage banter before the band begins. It’s great hearing the guys goofing a bit. And there’s actually some more stage banter after that tune, with the guys joking about Bill buying the Brooklyn Bridge. The disc then goes to “Brown-Eyed Women,” skipping “Black-Throated Wind” and “Chinatown Shuffle.” This is a really nice version of “Brown-Eyed Woman,” and it’s followed by “China Cat Sunflower” into “I Know You Rider.” It’s a fairly short rendition of “China Cat Sunflower” (just under six minutes) but the jam really cooks, and “I Know You Rider” likewise has great energy. Also included is a seriously fun “Cumberland Blues,” from late in that set.

The rest of the bonus disc comes from the beginning of the second set from March 21, 1972. Bob jokes before the first tune, “We’re going to start this next set off with one of your favorites, and we certainly hope it’s one of ours.” And they jump into “Truckin.’” This is a wonderful rendition, particularly because it’s great, groovy jam, the band clearly having a good time. It leads into a drum solo by Bill Kreutzmann, and then into “The Other One,” which bursts in like a monster and then goes in some interesting directions, evolving and changing, adapting and conquering. This is definitely a highlight for me. And at nearly eighteen minutes, it’s also the longest track of the CD. This bonus disc then concludes with an excellent rendition of “Wharf Rat.” “I’ll get up and fly away.”

CD Track List
  1. Bertha
  2. Brown-Eyed Women
  3. China Cat Sunflower >
  4. I Know You Rider
  5. Cumberland Blues
  6. Truckin ’>
  7. Drums >
  8. The Other One >
  9. Wharf Rat 
The Grateful Dead at this point were Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals; Bob Weir on guitar and vocals; Phil Lesh on bass and vocals; Ron McKernan on organ, harmonica, percussion and vocals; Keith Godchaux on piano; and Bill Kreutzmann on drums.

Dave’s Picks 2015 Bonus Disc is only available if you ordered the year’s subscription, but perhaps you could find someone willing to part with it.

Singing In School

In third grade, our class was chosen to sing a song for the whole school. Not in the auditorium, mind you, but over the intercom from the principal’s office. Remember how awful those things sounded back then? You could barely understand even the spoken word. The morning announcements were a series of harsh barks and a few almost-discernable words. And it was over that system that our lovely young voices were to be heard.  

After a rehearsal in our classroom, my teacher, Mrs. Nickerson, pulled me aside and told me I had a terrible voice and that it would be better for all considered if I didn’t sing. “You don’t want to ruin it for everyone, do you?” she asked me. I told her I didn’t. But I wasn’t sure. And I’m still not sure why it mattered so much to her that we sound good. It wasn’t for a competition or anything. Nothing was at stake. And even if it had been for competition, we were just children. So I thought about it for a while, then told my parents what happened, and asked for their advice. “You go ahead and sing if you want to,” they told me. I did want to. So I made up my mind to sing, and that was that. You can get over stuff quickly sometimes when you’re a kid.

So the day came, and we filed into the principal’s office. Just by my position in line, I ended up in the back corner. Mrs. Nickerson came over to me and said, “You’re far enough away from the microphone that we probably won’t hear you, so go ahead and sing.” And it was that moment that really cemented this whole thing in my memory. Had she just not said anything on the day... But what's done is done.

Third grade was the year I lost my blind respect for authority. There was more to it than this one incident, of course. But this was the beginning of it.

Friday, May 1, 2015

May 2015 Concert Calendar

I started this blog to let people know about all the good music that's out there. Here is a list of concerts you might be interested in for the month of May, 2015. Most of these are artists that I've reviewed, though some are some bands that I haven't yet written about, but really like. I will try to add to this calendar as much as I can throughout the month.

May 1, 2015  (Friday)
Hot Club Of Cowtown  -  Stoughton Opera House, Stoughton, WI  -  7:30 p.m.
The Howlin' Brothers  -  Cotton Wood Flats, Guthrie, OK  -  3:00 p.m.
James McMurtry  -  Off Broadway, St. Louis, MO
Red Molly  -  Sandler Center For The Performing Arts, Virginia Beach, VA
Martin Sexton  -  Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY

May 2, 2015  (Saturday)
Hot Club Of Cowtown  - Ramsey Auditorium, Batavia, IL
The Howlin' Brothers  -   Tamassee Craft Brew Festival, Salem, SC
James McMurtry  - Revolution Music Room, Little Rock, AR
Chris Page  -  The Carleton, Halifax, NS, Canada
Patrolled By Radar  -  The Escondite, 410 Boyd St., Los Angeles, CA
Tom Paxton  -  Finney Chapel, Oberlin, OH
Red Molly  -   Harvester Performance Center, Rocky Mount, VA
Martin Sexton  -  Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY
The Whooligans  -  The Auld Dubliner, Long Beach, CA

May 3, 2015  (Sunday)
Vance Gilbert  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
Hot Club Of Cowtown  -   SPACE, Evanston, IL
The Howlin' Brothers  - Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, Winchester, VA
Ellis Paul  -  Woody Guthrie Museum,102 East Brady Street, Tulsa, OK -  11:00 a.m.
(Free family show)
Ellis Paul  -  Guthrie Green, 111 East Brady St., Tulsa, OK  -  3:00 p.m.
The Whooligans  -   The Red Leprechaun, Long Beach, CA

May 4, 2015  (Monday)

May 5, 2015  (Tuesday)
Lady Low  -  Three Clubs, Los Angeles, CA

May 6, 2015  (Wednesday)
Jay Souza  -  Three Clubs, Los Angeles, CA

May 7, 2015 (Thursday)

May 8, 2015  (Friday)
10,000 Maniacs  -  Buffalo Iron Works, Buffalo, NY
Bruce Cockburn  -  Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA
The Howlin' Brothers  -   ACME Feed And Seed, Nashville, TN
Miss Tess And The Talkbacks  -  Top Of The Grade Concerts, Saluda, NC
Tom Paxton  -   Millennium Forum, Londonderry, UK
Preservation Hall Jazz Band  -  Pfeiffer Hall, Naperville, IL
Red Molly  -   The Smith Opera House, Geneva, NY

May 9, 2015  (Saturday)
Bruce Cockburn  -  Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA
Antje Duvekot  -  The Old Sloop Coffee House, Rockport, MA
The Howlin' Brothers  -   Holston River Brewing Co., Bristol, TN
Josh Lederman And The Cambridge-Somerville All Stars  -  The Plough And Stars, Cambridge, MA  -  4:00 p.m.
James McMurtry  - McGonigel's Mucky Duck, Houston, TX
Miss Tess And The Talkbacks  - Sugarlands Distilling Co., Gatlinburg, TN
Chris Page  -   Raw Sugar Cafe, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Tom Paxton  -   Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland
Red Molly  -   Edwards Opera House, Edwards, NY
Martin Sexton  -  House Of Blues, Boston, MA
The Whooligans  -   The Red Leprechaun, Long Beach, CA

May 10, 2015  (Sunday)
The Howlin' Brothers  -   Sugarlands Distilling, Gatlinburg, TN
Tom Paxton  - Ulster Hall, Belfast, Ireland
Preservation Hall Jazz Band  -  Shaky Knees Music Festival, Atlanta, GA

May 11, 2015  (Monday)

May 12, 2015  (Tuesday)
Lady Low  -  Three Clubs, Los Angeles, CA
Tom Paxton  -   Old Fruit Market, Glasgow, UK
Isabel Rose  -  Joe's Pub, New York, NY

May 13, 2014  (Wednesday)
Marshall Chapman  -  Conundrum Music Hall, Columbia, SC  -  7:30 p.m.
Tom Paxton  -   The Sage, Kilmarnock, UK

May 14, 2014  (Thursday)
Ellis Paul  -  GIG Performance Space,1808 Second Street, Santa Fe, NM  -  7:30 p.m.

May 15, 2015  (Friday)
The Howlin' Brothers  -   ACME Feed And Seed, Nashville, TN
Willie Nile  -  Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA
Patrolled By Radar  -  Villains Tavern, Los Angeles, CA
Ellis Paul Pecos Flavors Winery, 305 N. Main, Roswell, NM  -  8:00 p.m.
Tom Paxton  -  Town Hall, Birmingham, UK 
Martin Sexton  -  The Southern, Charlottesville, VA 

May 16, 2015  (Saturday)
Jonathan Edwards  -  Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA
The Howlin' Brothers  -   Tres Hombres, Cardondale, IL
Tom Paxton  -   Harrogate Royal Hall, Harrogate, UK
Martin Sexton  - Orange Peel, Asheville, NC
The Whooligans  -   The Auld Dubliner, Long Beach, CA

May 17, 2015  (Sunday)
The Howlin' Brothers  -   Layfayette's Music Room, Memphis, TN
Ellis Paul  -  The Cooperage Restaurant, 7220 Lomas Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM  -  7:30 p.m.
Martin Sexton  -   Lee Street Theatre, Salisbury, NC

May 18, 2015  (Monday)
Tom Paxton  - Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, UK

May 19, 2015  (Tuesday)
Lady Low  -  Three Clubs, Los Angeles, CA
Tom Paxton  -   The Anvil, Basingstoke, UK

May 20, 2015  (Wednesday)
Tom Paxton  - Lighthouse Poole, Poole, UK
Red Molly  - The Dakota, Minneapolis, MN

May 21, 2015  (Thursday)
Miss Tess And The Talkbacks  -   Knuckleheads, Kansas City, MO
Red Molly  -   McMillan Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
(Free show)
The Whooligans  -   The Red Leprechaun, Long Beach, CA

May 22, 2015  (Friday)
10,000 Maniacs  -   City Winery, New York, NY
Gaelic Storm  -  Riverfest, Little Rock, AR
The Howlin' Brothers  -   ACME Feed And Seed, Nashville, TN
Miss Tess And The Talkbacks  -   Hangar 9, Carbondale, IL
Tom Paxton  -   The Stables, Milton Keynes, UK
Red Molly  - Bedrock 66 Live, Springfield, IL

May 23, 2015  (Saturday)
10,000 Maniacs  -   City Winery, New York, NY
Hot Club Of Cowtown  - Chamber Music Hall Of Baluarte, Pamplona, Spain
Miss Tess And The Talkbacks  -   Capitol Theater, Lebanon, TN
Tom Paxton  -   St. George's, Bristol, UK
Red Molly  - Beverly Arts Center, Chicago, IL

May 24, 2015  (Sunday)
10,000 Maniacs  -   Stephen Talkhouse, Amagansett, NY
Antje Duvekot  -  Sandywoods Folk Festival,  Tiverton, RI  -  6:30 p.m.
Gaelic Storm  -   Summer Camp Music Festival, Chillicothe, IL
Hot Club Of Cowtown  -  Sala BBK, Bilbao, Spain
The Howlin' Brothers  -   Duck Creek Log Jam, Logan, OH
Red Molly  - CSPS, Cedar Rapids, IA

May 25, 2015  (Monday)

May 26, 2015  (Tuesday)
Lady Low  -  Three Clubs, Los Angeles, CA
James McMurtry  -   Etown, Boulder, CO

May 27, 2015  (Wednesday)
Hot Club Of Cowtown  - Austin, TX
James McMurtry  - Oriental Theatre, Denver, CO
Miss Tess And The Talkbacks  -   The Southern, Charlottesville, VA
Patrolled By Radar  -  Cinema Car, Culver City, CA

May 28, 2015  (Thursday)
Gaelic Storm  -   City Winery, Nashville, TN
James McMurtry  -   Edgewater Brewery, Grand Junction, CO
Miss Tess And The Talkbacks  - Shepherdstown Opera House, Shepherdstown WV
Ellis Paul Pat McGee's Down The Hatch, 1701 South Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills, NC  -  7:00 p.m.
Tom Paxton  -   Union Chapel, London, UK

May 29, 2015  (Friday)
Gaelic Storm  -   Paramount Center For The Arts, Bristol, TN
Ellis Paul Pat McGee's Down The Hatch, 1701 South Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills, NC
Martin Sexton  -  World Cafe Live, Wilmington, DE 

May 30, 2015  (Saturday)
Gaelic Storm  -   Harvester Performance Center, Rocky Mount, VA
James McMurtry  - Knotty Pine, Victor, ID
Miss Tess And The Talkbacks  -   Jammin Java, Vienna, VA
Ellis Paul Pat McGee's Down The Hatch, 1701 South Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills, NC
Tom Paxton  -  The Lowry, Salford, UK 
Preservation Hall Jazz Band  -   Bottlerock Festival, Napa, CA
Martin Sexton  -   Avalon, Easton, MD

May 31, 2015  (Sunday)
Gaelic Storm  -   Herndon Festival, Herndon, VA
James McMurtry  - Wells Fargo House, Virginia City, MT
The Whooligans  -    Nadine's Irish Mist, Sunset Beach, CA