Archive for June, 2008

Review: “Pacific Ocean Blue,” Dennis Wilson

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on June 30, 2008 by 30daysout

The last time I saw Dennis Wilson was in August 1983 at the Houston Astrodome. The Beach Boys were playing after an Astros game and he looked completely disheveled when he got out of one of the convertibles that brought band members on the field.  Dirty jeans, no shoes, no shirt, and probably high as a kite.  By this time, he couldn’t keep time and another drummer was also on stage.

Wilson drowned later that year (ironic because he was the only Beach Boy who could surf), however, he left behind one of the better solo albums by any member of the Beach Boys, Pacific Ocean Blue.

Wilson never had the clean, angelic voice of his brothers Brian and Carl.  His was rough, grainy (maybe from all the years of drugs and alcohol) soulful and sad.  It reflected his life.  His voice is best showcased on the excellent “Thoughts of You,” “Time,” “Farewell My Friend,” the eerie “End of the Show,” and the spiritual “River Song,” where the lyrics include the line “got to get away” illustrate his pain of living.

This two-disc collection also features the unfinished album, Bambu, that Wilson was working on shortly after the release of Pacific Ocean Blue. His decline into drug and alcohol abuse took away any inspiration he had to finish, in his words, “a superior follow up.” The Bambu disc also features a version of “Holy Man” sung by Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.

Out of print for more than 15 years, it’s nice to see Legacy Recordings finally released this gem. Mike Love never had it in him to make an album this good.

MP3: “Thoughts of You

MP3: “River Song

Dennis Wilson Pacific Ocean Blue Website

Review: “The Last Country Album,” Heybale!

Posted in Review with tags , , , on June 30, 2008 by 30daysout

It’s no secret that Austin, Texas, is a town full of veteran pickers and players.  One of the best things you can do, for example, is visit the Continental Club for a Sunday evening performance by Heybale!, the pure country unit headed by guitarist Redd Volkaert and pianist Earl Poole Ball.  The Last Country Album is Heybale’s (let’s just drop the exclamation point from here on) first studio effort, and it’s mighty fine for a Saturday – or any other – night.  The first thing that hits you here is these musicians certainly know their way around a country song: Ball is the honky tonk piano player who worked with Johnny Cash and Buck Owens, as well as the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers.  Volkaert played for years behind Merle Haggard in the Strangers; vocalist Gary Claxton is a mere pup by contrast but his whiskey-soaked voice is perfect in this company. 

Many of the songs are originals, the highlights include Ball’s “Honky Tonk Mood,” which will certainly put you in one, “Everything … About Drinking,” and the instrumental “Heybalin’.”  Redd croaks the lead vocal on “Step Aside” in his unique singing voice.  And “Let’s Go To Mexico” puts you in a cantina on the Texas-Mexico border.  If you are a fan of real country music, I can’t recommend this album enough.  Just about as far removed from current Nashville country product as you can get, The Last Country Album could very well be the last country album … but let’s hope not.  For one, I am going to want to hear as much Heybale as I can.

MP3: “Honky Tonk Mood”

Heybale! official website 

Rock Moment: Alejandro Escovedo, 2008

Posted in Bruce Springsteen, Rock Moment with tags , , on June 29, 2008 by 30daysout

Bruce Springsteen and Alejandro Escovedo in Houston.  Photo courtesy of

We’ve already written plenty about Alejandro Escovedo’s brilliant new release Real Animal, and so have many others – it is certainly one of the albums of the year.  Escovedo celebrated the release with an Austin home stand that included an in-store performance at Waterloo Records, two nights at the Continental Club and a wild appearance at the Keep Austin Weird Festival.

Probably the best moment was the quietest: Alejandro telling the story about how he came to play his new single “Always A Friend” last April onstage in Houston with Bruce Springsteen.  “We got a text message as my wife and I were driving to Houston from Austin,” he recalled.  “They told us Bruce wanted to play the song live that night.” 

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One For The Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 27, 2008 by 30daysout

It’s getaway day for many of us, and we are looking forward to the short week and holiday coming up.  But in the meantime, here’s our boy Iggy Pop in a vintage performance.  Have a good weekend!

Friday is Boss’ Day: Live, Houston 1984

Posted in Bruce Springsteen with tags , , , , , on June 27, 2008 by 30daysout

Photos by Art Meripol.  Visit his photo blog here.

In early October, 1984, it was announced that Bruce Springsteen was coming to The Summit on Nov. 29. Tickets were to go on sale at 6 a.m. at the Houston Astrodome, however, the line up was at 3 a.m. Yes, 3 a.m. This was before the days of the lottery, so where you were in line was where you were in line. Thousands of us braved an unusually cold October morning in anticipation of purchasing tickets to the hottest rock and roll show on the road.

Springsteen was riding an unbelievable wave of popularity. Born In The USA was a monster album, he was constantly being played on the radio (those were the days), and on MTV and he had quickly become one of my idols. I had to get a ticket to this show. There were no ifs, ands or buts, I had to get in.

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Live: Alejandro Escovedo, Austin

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on June 26, 2008 by 30daysout

The release of Alejandro Escovedo’s new album Real Animal is taking on national holiday proportions in Austin.  In the past seven days, Escovedo and his crack band have already appeared on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and “The Today Show.”  Thursday afternoon, they kicked off a three-day Austin home stand with a rollicking in-store appearance at Waterloo Records.

Escovedo remembered how he once worked at Waterloo, and how he played Iggy Pop and the Stooges on the store sound system every chance he got.  “And I was never late, and I did everything they told me to,” he joked.  “I was the best employee they ever had.”  Then he charged into his “Real As An Animal” rocker, the song he wrote about Iggy Pop.  “He (Iggy) represents everything that is exciting about rock and roll,” Alejandro said.

Led by guitar genius David Pulkingham, the band performed a handful of songs from the album including “Sister Lost Soul,” “Slow Down” and the great new single “Always A Friend.”  Escovedo and band will play a two-night stand at the Continental Club Thursday and Friday, and Saturday night they headline the “Keep Austin Weird Festival.”  Then, Alejandro said, they begin a long tour of the midwest.  Then they’ll come back home to Austin.

Real Animal is out now in record stores.  You can hear Escovedo’s Friday (June 27) night show live on KGSR radio, at 10:30 p.m. CDT.  Go here and click “Listen Live.”  You won’t regret it!  UPDATE: KGSR radio has promised that you can still hear the live June 27 show as a streaming program.  Check their website.

MP3: “Real As An Animal”

Alejandro Escovedo official website

Review: “Soul Speak,” Michael McDonald

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2008 by 30daysout

Michael McDonald has one of the most distinctive and best voices in rock and R&B. His last two discs of Motown classics were instant smashes and both sold millions. His latest, Soul Speak, follows the same the formula (although not strictly Motown), but sounds very tired.

McDonald seems to labor through classics like Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ for the City,” Aretha Franklin’s “I Knew You Were Waiting,” Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher,” and the Teddy Pendergrass hit “Love TKO.” The few bright spots include his take on Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which seems to be recorded a lot these days. He does offer a couple of new original songs, “Only God Can Help Me Now,” and “Can’t Get Over You (Getting Over Me),” but both are forgettable.

I’ve always thought that if you are going to record someone else’s material you have to either do it better or at least different. Unfortunately, McDonald doesn’t do either on the majority of the tracks on Soul Speak.

MP3: Into the Mystic

MP3: Only God Can Help Me Now

Michael McDonald Official Website

Review: “Evil Urges,” My Morning Jacket

Posted in Review with tags , on June 26, 2008 by 30daysout

You can flip many coins on My Morning Jacket’s new album Evil Urges and still be accurate: ambitious/precious; satisfying/frustrating; illuminating/confusing.  It all depends on how adventurous you want your rock music to be.  But this Kentucky outfit is certainly not boring on this masterful effort.  Stretching their wings and delivering their most wide-ranging set to date, MMJ sinks deep into the Southern Gothic motifs of their past work and emerge with an original hybrid of psychedelic funk, for lack of a better description.  “Highly Suspicious,” sung by MMJ frontman Jim James in a helium falsetto, makes one wonder if these boys have  been woodshedding with old Prince albums.  After a few detours on the other side of the tracks, MMJ comes back into more familiar territory with rock stompers like “Aluminum Park” and “Remnants.”  Like their spiritual cousins the Raconteurs, MMJ are certainly adept at their instruments but maybe not so skilled at assimiliating their grab-bag of influences.  The quiet “Librarian” takes a 1960s-style acoustic tiptoe through the tulips, and it doesn’t work.  Again, if you like your rock on the adventurous and surprising side (see Wilco), then Evil Urges is for you.  I could flip the coin on giving this album a thumbs up or thumbs down, but I’ll give them points for effort and just say that Evil Urges has the potential to satisfy – or even exhilarate – if you happen to be in the mood.

MP3: “Evil Urges”

MP3: “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Part 2”

My Morning Jacket official website

Paul McCartney’s Top 10 Guest Shots

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2008 by 30daysout

During and after his stint in the Beatles, Paul McCartney was one of the most important rock musicians in the world.  Songs written by McCartney alone were hits for other artists (see our post from May 26, “With A Little Help For Their Friends”) and any time he showed up at someone else’s recording session it was an event.

But those Beatle boys were rascals and more often than not they would get into some tomfoolery; McCartney was no exception.  Some of his cameos could be called bizarre at best.  Nevertheless, today we’ll count down his top 10 guest appearances on record (and video).

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Lost Classics? “Ask Me What I Am,” Burt Reynolds

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , on June 24, 2008 by 30daysout

Burt Reynolds’ star was shining very bright in 1973. He was nominated for Academy Award for his performance in the disturbing Deliverance, and he had a couple of more movies in the can (pun intended). Like most superstars with huge egos, Reynolds probably thought he could do anything. So why not make a record? The result is the painful Ask Me What I am.

My brother actually bought this collection at a used record shop as a joke, and we spent quite a bit of time listening to the tune “There’s A Slight Misunderstanding Between God and Man” and laughing our asses off. However, I don’t think Reynolds intended it to be a joke.

I think he fancies himself as a storyteller. “Childhood 1949” opens the record with a tale of the good old days gone sung by a man who sounds like he’s about to hang himself. Next is “Slow John Fairburn” where he tells us in a laughable Texas twang about some old douchebag in his tiny hometown. It just gets worse with “I Didn’t Shake the World Today,” and the Donny & Marie-infested “You Can’t Always Sing A Happy Song.” As Frank Barone would say “Holy Crap.”

Besides Reynolds inability to sing, the 11 songs were produced by Bobby Goldsboro, who had a big hit with the God-awful “Honey.” This combination is deadly and hilarious all at the same time. I have no idea how many people bought this piece of crap, but those who did also got a full length picture of Burt on the inside jacket in tight baby blue pants….….fabulous.

MP3: “There’s a Slight Misunderstanding Between God and Man

MP3: “Childhood 1949

MP3: “Slow John Fairburn

MP3: “You Can’t Always Sing a Happy Song