Archive for April, 2010

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Woodshedding at Woodstock

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by 30daysout

Editor’s Note: We are expanding this feature for this week only, to help call attention to Record Store Day on Saturday.  Independent record stores are dying on the vine, go out on Saturday and show ‘em that you love them by purchasing some vinyl.

Today we travel about 1,500 miles to the hamlet of Woodstock, New York, comfortably situated in the rustic Hudson Valley north of the Big Apple.  Now this isn’t the place where the big Woodstock festival took place (that was in Bethel, about 40 miles to the northeast) – the town of Woodstock is a haven for artists, musicians and the like.  One of the town’s most famous residents is Levon Helm, best known as the drummer for the Band.

The stories are rock legend: about the Band backing Dylan as he went “electric” in the mid-1960s, how a discouraged Helm quit, how the group reunited with Dylan in Woodstock, then finally how Helm rejoined and recorded the landmark Music From Big Pink.  By 1975, Levon Helm was a big-time rock star.  He had just married a young lady he first met while working in L.A., and he moved back to bucolic Woodstock to make his permanent home. On his 20-acre homesite, Helm built a huge timber-framed barn with only wooden pegs and locally quarried bluestone.  Overlooking a bass-filled lake and shadowed by Overlook Mountain, Helm’s barn was to double as a recording studio.

The studio was nearly complete in 1975 when Helm welcomed his first client, Chicago blues great Muddy Waters.  Helm and his business partner songwriter/producer Henry Glover invited some of the A-list musicians to sit in on the sessions with Waters and his touring band.  The result was The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album, released in 1975.  Among the musicians on the album were guitarist Bob Margolin and pianist Willie “Pinetop” Perkins from Muddy’s band, blues-harp monster Paul Butterfield and hot session guitarist Fred Carter as well as Helm and Garth Hudson from the Band.

The album kicks off with “Why Are People Like That,” written by Louisiana singer/songwriter Bobby Charles (who was also living in Woodstock at the time).  Waters wrote five songs his own bad self, including “Born With Nothing” (on which Muddy plays a wicked slide guitar) and “Going Down To Main Street” (with Garth Hudson on accordion).  The accordion wasn’t known as a blues instrument (outside of  Clifton Chenier’s neighborhood, of course) but Hudson turns it into a blistering blues tool, particularly on “Caledonia,” a cover of the hot Louis Jordan tune.

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“Orange Is In” celebrates “Donate Life Month” with new tune

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2010 by 30daysout

Every day thousands of people wait by the phone for the “call.” The call from someone who will tell them that they are about to receive the “gift of life.”

In my travels over the past couple of years, I have heard many stories from grateful transplant recipients. I have also heard the tales of donor families who have found a way to deal with their grief through knowing their loved one lives on in someone else. The song “Someone Came To Help Me” by Orange Is In was inspired by the people and their stories. April is National Donate Life Month. It only takes a few minutes to sign up and become a donor. Give the gift of life this month and every month.

Listen to “Someone Came To Help Me” by Orange Is In

LifeGift Official Website

The Methodist Hospital Center for Liver Disease & Tranplantation

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Psychedelic Two-Fer!

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2010 by 30daysout

This week we’re going to double up our reviews of old records and run a few more of these features than usual, all to help promote Record Store Day, which is Saturday.  Independent record stores are dying on the vine, on this day (at least) go on out and show ’em that you love them by purchasing some vinyl.  A few of us are lucky enough to live in a place where there are a handful of record stores – the one I’m going to on Saturday (Houston’s Cactus Records) is the place where I bought many LPs back in the 1970s.

I didn’t buy either of these albums at the record store, but I dug ’em up out of my big sister’s bedroom.  She always was a dedicated follower of fashion, and once a pop group had a hit single or album she usually jumped on the bandwagon.  So in many cases she has the album that came out after the big hit … which is pretty fascinating in itself, I guess.

Like today’s entry: II X II by the Cowsills, released in 1970.  Many people consider this album to be one of the group’s finest, even though it was a so-called “experimental” album (which in those days, meant “psychedelic.”)  You know the Cowsills: they were a singing family from Rhode Island complete with Svengali/manager dad, singing mom etc., and they’re best known for a handful of pop hits including “The Rain, The Park and Other Things” (1967), “Indian Lake” (1968), “Hair” (1969) and so on.  They were the real-life inspiration for the TV series “The Partridge Family,” and they were actually going to play themselves on TV until the clan learned producers wanted to replace the singing Cowsill mom with actress Shirley Jones.

As with all pop groups, the gig got a bit old when the hits stopped comin’, and around 1969 everyone was listening to albums anyway.  Now unlike the TV Partridges, the Cowsills could actually play their own instruments.  Brothers Bill and Bob Cowsill wrote the bulk of the band’s material, which kind of fit a lightly rockin’ folk-rock groove.  When it came time to record II X II, everyone in the band felt it was time to break away from the pop image with material that was a bit more mature and introspective.  So here you go: the title song which kicks off the album, is a kind of sci-fi Utopian fantasy that puts the Noah’s Ark concept on a groovy starship going to another planet to start a new peaceful civilization, or something.

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Song of the Day: “Dear God”

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , on April 9, 2010 by 30daysout

Here’s a nice way to begin the weekend: the new video from alt-pop supergroup Monsters of Folk – M. Ward, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Conor “Bright Eyes” Oberst and producer Mike Mogus.  What is it?  Philly soul trippin’?  Psychedelic panty dropping music?  Judge for yourself, and have a great springtime weekend.

Monsters of Folk official website

Review: Lots o’ New Stuff

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2010 by 30daysout

As usual, the new album racks fill up between SXSW and Record Store Day next weekend … and there is a lot of good new stuff out there.  So let’s get right to the best:

J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf hasn’t put out a studio set since 2002 but with the new Midnight Sessions he turns back the clock with a collection of excellent songs ranging from the elegaic rocker “The Night Comes Down (For Willy DeVille)” to the delicate acoustic ballad “The Green Fields of Summer.”  The album swerves from loose, Rolling Stones-flavored rockers like “Tragedy” (a duet with Shelby Lynne), Americana ear candy like “Always Asking For You” and love-man funkiness with “Overnight Lows” and a cover of the Lou Donaldson classic “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky.”  In addition to Shelby Lynne, guests include Neko Case and Merle Haggard.  Highly recommended.

Listen: “Tragedy” by Peter Wolf w/Shelby Lynne

At one point on Women + Country, Jakob Dylan sings “Everybody’s Hurting,” and he is talking about an America that’s been shaken down to the roots – namely the common hard-working Americans who can’t see a future for themselves and their loved ones.  On this album Dylan visits the America that was most vividly depicted by the Band so many decades ago, and the music (produced by T-Bone Burnett, in the style of the Plant-Krauss masterpiece Raising Sand) lends the songs a ghostly, dreamlike quality.  But lest you think this is all depressing stuff, “Lend A Hand” assumes a jaunty French Quarter strut and the opener “Nothing But The Whole Wide World” perfectly blends Dylan’s voice with backing singers Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, who drift in and out throughout the album.  This album has really grown on me, and you should give it a chance to grow on you too.

Listen: “Everybody’s Hurting” by Jakob Dylan

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Bonus Song of the Day: “Ghost of Tom Joad”

Posted in Bruce Springsteen with tags , on April 7, 2010 by 30daysout

Because we saw Tom Morello a few weeks ago and he blew us away, and because we recently posted the awesome Rage Against The Machine version of this song … and that other guy singing with Morello ain’t too shabby either.

Song of the (Next) Day: Andrew W.K.

Posted in News with tags , on April 7, 2010 by 30daysout

I know it’s only Wednesday, but today’s a good day to get the party started.  Party Hard!

(Catch Andrew W.K. in a city near you, coming this summer as part of the Vans Warped Tour.)

Song of the Day: Louis Armstrong (Not!)

Posted in News with tags on April 6, 2010 by 30daysout

Last week we ran Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” done up smooth jazz style – today we give the metalheads equal time.  So here’s “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, the Death Metal version.

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Mama Lion

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , on April 6, 2010 by 30daysout

Back in the days of 12-inch long-playing vinyl, the album cover was almost as important as the music.  Who can forget the classic photograph on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, or the iconic prism on Dark Side of the Moon?  So today let’s dig around and find an album with interesting packaging – ah, here we go … 1972’s Mama Lion (or in the U.K.,  Preserve Wildlife).

Click on image to see the "hidden" gatefold art (NSFW)

Mama Lion was the name of a group built around female singer Lynn Carey, who had ah, interesting packaging of her own.  Carey was a decent blues-rock belter in the mold of Janis Joplin, and the rest of the band was fairly adept at cranking out some rockin’ grooves.  The band included on vocals and keyboards a young James Newton Howard, who would go on to become well-known as a writer and performer of movie scores (Pretty Woman, Prince of Tides, The Dark Knight, etc.).  Bassist/singer Neil Merryweather was also in the band – he doubled as Carey’s boyfriend.

Another obvious influence was Led Zeppelin, but Mama Lion came up a little short in the songwriting department.  So the album is filled with covers with Carey’s voice running roughshod over trinkets like Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and the Motown chestnut “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.”  The originals, including “Wildcat” and “Sister Sister (She Better Than A Man)” were written by Carey/Merryweather and fit the mold of a strong, earthy woman singin’ about “her man.”  Howard turns in some fine rock piano work on “Wildcat” but his piano intro on “Mr. Invitation” shows off his classical training.

But … the cover art.  Ahem, yes – Mama Lion was perhaps best known for its notorious gatefold photo, which was revealed after you opened the “cage door” on the album’s cover.  It depicted Carey breastfeeding a lion cub, and perhaps was the best thing about this whole album.  Carey went on to front Mama Lion for at least one more album, and later in 1972 she became the Penthouse magazine Pet of the Year.   She worked in movies and TV and her voice is dubbed for one actress in the movie Beyond The Valley of the Dolls.

For listening purposes, Mama Lion is a great time capsule to the era.  For viewing purposes, the controversial cover art shows that artists wanted to get people talking (and buying music) long before Erykah Badu.

MP3: “Ain’t No Sunshine”

MP3: “Mr. Invitation”

MP3: “Wildcat”

MP3: “Can’t Find My Way Home”

MP3: “Sister, Sister (She Better Than A Man)”

YouTube: Mama Lion on German TV in 1973 doing “Candy Man”

Play Ball!

Posted in Rock Moment on April 4, 2010 by 30daysout

It’s time for baseball … what else is there to say?  (Don’t ask Lee Elia!)

MP3: “Who’s On First?” by Abbott & Costello

MP3: “Catfish” by Kinky Friedman

MP3: “Yankee Stadium” by Nils Lofgren

MP3: “Narragansett Beer” by Curt Gowdy

MP3: “Past Time” by the Baseball Project

MP3: “Go, Cubs, Go!” by Steve Goodman

MP3: “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” by Bob Dylan

MP3: “Hank Aaron’s 715th Home Run” by Milo Hamilton

MP3: “Baseball Bat” by Courtney Love

MP3: “America’s Favorite Pastime” by Todd Snider

MP3: “Real Men of Genius: Mr. Designated Hitter” Bud Light commercial

MP3: “Centerfield” (live) by John Fogerty w/Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Clarence Clemons

MP3: “Get The F***ing Job Done” by Lee Elia