Archive for August, 2010

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles, Part 4

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2010 by 30daysout

Can’t stop spinnin’ those singles!  Today we listen to a handful from the other side of the Big Pond, from our friends in the United Kingdom.  They will take us on a little tour of the isles across the ocean.

Let’s begin in the northern Isles … in Scotland, where Al Stewart comes from.  Stewart, best known for the 1976 hit album Year Of The Cat (and its title track, a hit single), has also worked with a number of big names including Alan Parsons, Jimmy Page and Rick Wakeman.  Stewart followed up the platinum Year Of The Cat with 1978’s Time Passages, which spawned another hit with its title track and “Song On The Radio,” which barely managed to climb into the American Top 30.

MP3: “Song On The Radio” by Al Stewart

Now we catch the train south to Wales for Andy Fairweather Low, a Welshman, who made his name by performing with the group Amen Corner – they had a top single “Half As Nice” in 1969.  But Fairweather Low (or is it just Low?) is perhaps best known for playing with superstars like the Who, Roger Waters, Eric Clapton and many more.  “Spider Jiving” is the title track and single from Fairweather Low’s first solo album in 1974.

MP3: “Spider Jiving” by Andy Fairweather Low

Let’s hop over to London to find Tim Curry, an acclaimed stage and screen actor.  Of course you knew he could sing – he absolutely wailed as Dr. Frank N. Furter in the play and movie Rocky Horror Picture Show.  In the late 1970s Curry attempted to be a recording artist and his 1979 LP Fearless was fairly successful.  Curry co-wrote most of the songs on the album including the tongue-in-cheek single “I Do The Rock,” which dented the Top 100 for about two seconds.

MP3: “I Do The Rock” by Tim Curry

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Benefit in Texas to help soul singer Jerry LaCroix

Posted in News with tags , , , , on August 27, 2010 by 30daysout

A number of the top musicians from Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana will band together this weekend in Beaumont, Texas,  to help Jerry LaCroix, the legendary R&B/rock singer.

Jerry LaCroix

LaCroix, former lead singer for the Fabulous Boogie Kings, Edgar Winter’s White Trash, Rare Earth and Blood, Sweat and Tears, experienced congestive heart failure earlier this year.  The event will raise money for medical bills and expenses LaCroix has accrued from his lengthy hospital stay.

A few years ago, LaCroix moved to the Hemphill area to help care for his ailing mother and began experiencing health problems of his own.  “I haven’t been in the best of health since last year. I was getting weaker and weaker and in a matter of days, I couldn’t stand up,” LaCroix said in an interview with the Beaumont Enterprise. “I fell down twice trying to walk with a walker and the second time, I hit my head pretty hard.”

The benefit is Sunday, at the Beaumont Crockett Street entertainment district and it will feature appearances by Wayne Toups, Jivin’ Gene Bourgeois, G.G. Shinn, Scott McGill, Charles Mann, T.K. Hulin, Ken Marvel, Gerry Mouton, Willie T. and others.

If you can’t make it to Beaumont but still want to help out, contact Don Ball at (409) 548-4444.

MP3: “Try A Little Tenderness” (live at the Bamboo Club) by the Fabulous Boogie Kings w/Jerry LaCroix

MP3: “I Can’t Turn You Loose” (live) by Edgar Winter’s White Trash

Jerry LaCroix official website

Rick Campbell’s blog in the Houston Chronicle

Jerry La Croix page on the Ponderosa Stomp website

Review: Is It New Or Is It Old?

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by 30daysout

Well, here we are almost to the end of summer 2010 … and we have a handful of new records that sound nothing like the summer of 2010.

Now I am a HUGE fan of Brian Wilson, and the Beach Boys – but I must admit Wilson’s new Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin leaves me kinda cold.   Wilson has said many times that George Gershwin is his all-time fave, and as a result Gershwin’s heirs have asked Wilson to create a tribute to the long-dead composer.   There’s no doubt that Brian Wilson’s genius ear for arrangement is still on-target, that’s obvious on the beautiful, accapella version of “Rhapsody In Blue” that opens and closes the album.  And “Summertime” (from the musical “Porgy and Bess”) with Wilson’s voice is just about perfect for this time of the year.  It’s on some of the other tracks where I get a little lost:  the instrumental “I Got Plenty O’ Nuffin’ ” sounds like a Pet Sounds outtake, and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” was better when it was “Little Deuce Coupe.”  Oh, this is all right I supppose, particularly if you’re more a fan of Gershwin than of Wilson.  In my case, I kinda wish Brian had devoted all this energy to writing some new songs.  Ah well, maybe next time.

Listen to piano demos Brian Wilson used to create songs for the new Gershwin album

John Mellencamp strips it all down and gets back to his “roots” with the new No Better Than This. Rather than reinterpreting old songs like Brian Wilson, Johnny Cougar’s done the opposite – he casts some freshly written tunes in “old” settings.  He visits Sun Studios in Memphis to cut a rockabilly tune, he records a bluesy tune in San Antonio’s Menger Hotel, where Robert Johnson recorded … you get the idea, right?  The title song manages to rock out,  and that Menger Hotel tune “Right Behind Me” manages to summon up the right amount of spookiness.  Complete with low-fi production from T-Bone Burnett, No Better Than This seems to be the right step for Mellencamp.

MP3: “No Better Than This” by John Mellencamp

Let’s go back even farther in time, say Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three.  The band’s Riverboat Soul could have been heard on a dark night along the Mississippi, circa 1933.  For lack of a better adjective, this is pure Americana – with heaping teaspooons of ragtime, bluegrass and back-porch blues.   Impeccably played and sung, the songs never break character for a modern-day wink and that makes Riverboat Soul all the better for it.

MP3: “La La Blues” by Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three

You gotta love YOSO, and not just for the name.  YOSO is made up of former members of Toto (singer Bobby Kimball) and Yes (keyboard player Tony Kaye and bassist/singer Billy Sherwood).  Elements is the band’s first album, and there are strong original numbers like “Path To Your Heart” and “To Seek The Truth.”  Kimball’s vocals are pretty solid, but on a few numbers he threatens to lose control; I think “Walk Away” could have been stronger with a few more takes.   In case you have a short memory, Elements comes with a second CD of live performances of a few of the new tunes and some Toto/Yes classics like “Hold The Line,” “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” and “Rosanna.”  Now this is classic rock!

MP3: “Walk Away” by YOSO

Video of the Week: Ryan Bingham

Posted in News with tags , on August 25, 2010 by 30daysout

Ryan Bingham is ridin’ high this year – this spring he won an Academy Award for “The Weary Kind” (from Crazy Heart) and this video, taken during an in-store performance in California, was taken just a day or two after the Oscar celebration.  Ryan performs “Hallelujah” from his new album Junky Star, produced by T-Bone Burnett and which will be released next week.

Ryan Bingham official website

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles, Part 3

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by 30daysout

Let’s spin some more singles – today, some lesser-known singles from big artists and one really big hit for a band late in its career.

They don’t get any bigger than Bob Dylan, and in 1986 he formed a rock-and-roll summit with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  While they were on tour in Australia, Bob and Co. cut “Band Of The Hand,” to be used on the soundtrack of a movie by the same name.   With Petty producing, Dylan’s song reflected the ruthless attitude of a vigilante gang cut loose in the drug world – “It’s hell time, man,” he sings.  Stevie Nicks is one of the female backing singers, along with Debra Byrd, who worked with Dylan on a number of sessions.  “Band Of The Hand” came out on a 45-rpm single, a 12-inch single and on the movie soundtrack LP – but it’s never been on a Bob Dylan album.

MP3: “Band Of The Hand” by Bob Dylan with “The Heartbreakers”

In the early 1970s, nobody really knew what to do with Joni Mitchell.  An acclaimed singer/songwriter, she put out the critically acclaimed Blue but when she signed with Asylum Records some suit told her she needed a “radio hit.”  So she wrote “You Turn Me On I’m A Radio” sarcastically and it appeared on 1972’s For The Roses.   Guess what – it was a Top 40 hit, Mitchell’s first as a performer.  With her next album, 1974’s Court And Spark, Joni would refine that “radio hit” thing (“Help Me” and “Free Man In Paris”).

MP3: “You Turn Me On I’m A Radio” by Joni Mitchell

Just a few doors down from Joni Mitchell’s Laurel Canyon hangout was Crosby, Stills and Nash (and sometimes Young), who ruled music in 1972.  But they’d just completed a big tour and record exec David Geffen wanted another big folk-rock smash: why don’t we get the original Byrds together?  So we have the Byrds, trying to get off the ground with Crosby as the pilot.  The Byrds (1973) turned out to be a sorry echo of past glory, but the single “Full Circle,” written and sung by Gene Clark (with soaring harmony from Crosby) was one of the album’s few high points.

MP3: “Full Circle” by the Byrds

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Video of the Week: “Live Forever,” Joe Ely

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 23, 2010 by 30daysout

This week is the beginning of school in most parts of the country – and over the weekend we took my daughter over to Austin where she begins her sophomore year at the University of Texas.

On Saturday night she went to Threadgill’s South to hear the great Joe Ely, who was celebrating the 40th birthday of the Armadillo World Headquarters (where the Threadgill’s restaurant now stands).  Joe played his version of Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever,” and I thought it’s a perfect reflection this week for everyone about to start a new chapter of their lives – “gonna catch tomorrow now.”  Good luck to ya!

Joe Ely official website

Threadgill’s Home Cookin’ World Headquarters

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles, Part 2

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on August 22, 2010 by 30daysout

More singles from the back of my sister’s closet: they’re almost as good as albums!

First up, an all-but forgotten band from the late 1960s-early 1970s era: Seatrain.  Formed from the ashes of the ill-fated Blues Project by two of that band’s former members, bassist Andy Kulberg and drummer Roy Blumenfeld, Seatrain hit its stride with a self-titled album in 1970.  By this second album, there had already been a shift in the lineup – it now included folkie guitarist/singer Peter Rowan.  Anyway, the big hit single was “13 Questions,” which just missed making into the U.S. Top 40.  I remember FM radio used to play Seatrain’s wild version of “Orange Blossom Special,” from the same LP – the band finally broke up in 1973 after its third album.

MP3: “13 Questions” by Seatrain

The band McGuinness Flint was a British counterpart to Seatrain; it was also made up of former members of hit-making bands.  Tom McGuiness played with Manfred Mann, and Hughie Flint played with John Mayall, and their namesake band included songwriters Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle.  And they had a minor U.S. hit with “When I’m Dead And Gone” (although it was big in the U.K.) but subsequent efforts stiffed.  Gallagher & Lyle quit to record as a duo  – in addition to writing “When I’m Dead And Gone,” they later wrote hits for Art Garfunkel, Don Williams and others.

MP3: “When I’m Dead And Gone” by McGuinness Flint

Here’s another band with a similar trajectory: King Harvest, which had its beginnings when four Americans joined forces in Paris, where they happened to be living at the time.  At one point the band had three keyboard players, including Sherman Kelly, who wrote the song “Dancing In The Moonlight.”  It was released as a single in Paris and it failed – but in 1973, the group re-formed in the United States and signed to a new record label.  The label re-released “Dancing” and it became a hit, climbing into the Top 20.  The group could never match this success and after disbanding some of King Harvest’s members including keyboardist Ron Altbach, sax player Rod Novak and guitarist Ed Tuleja toured with the Beach Boys and Mike Love’s Celebration.

MP3: “Dancing In The Moonlight” by King Harvest

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