Archive for August, 2010

Live: Jack Johnson, Houston

Posted in News with tags , , , on August 19, 2010 by 30daysout

Jack Johnson gets down in a mellow way in Houston (Photo by Lily Angelle)

Jack Johnson is an artist who does a lot of things right.  He doesn’t tour and release albums incessantly – his current tour supports To The Sea, a new album that is only his fifth since 2001.  He supports pro-environmental causes and in fact all of the proceeds from this current tour are going to charity.

So his recent stop at Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion had a special village of tents with info on the singer’s favorite causes, including recycling, eco-friendly transportation and community volunteering.  And as a reward to those fans who took the time to visit the village, Johnson and some of his band members and opening acts played an intimate, acoustic set on a side stage tucked away among the Pavilion’s pines.

Full disclosure: I didn’t attend the concert, my daughter and her friend did …

Jack Johnson and Zach Gill (Photo by Lily Angelle)

I just showed up to swipe my credit card and present the duo with a “ticketless” voucher that aims to discourage scalpers.  Johnson and his buddies – including G. Love, Hawaiian singer Paula Fuga and Johnson keyboard player Zach Gill – played a short acoustic set in the Houston heat.  The songs included “Mud Football,” “Stepping Stone” and “Girl I Wanna Lay You Down.”

Later, fans were treated to a full-blown show (complete with a 30-minute rainstorm) that included the single “You and Your Heart” and a cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker.”  And of course “Bubble Toes.”  By all accounts, a good time was had by all.

Jack Johnson official website

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Fat Mattress

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on August 19, 2010 by 30daysout

Found this dusty classic in the back of my sister’s closet – Fat Mattress, from 1969, the eponymous first album by a band featuring British singer Neil Landon and guitarist Noel Redding who at the time was bass player in the Jimi Hendrix Experience.  Fat Mattress came about because Landon and Redding were buddies who wrote songs together – the duo then recruited bassist Jim Leverton and drummer Eric Dillon (who had both performed in Engelbert Humperdinck’s backing group).

Redding was really the sparkplug behind this gathering.  He sought a venue where he could write, sing and play lead guitar as a frontman; he was of course not able to do that with the Experience.  Redding and Landon had written a number of songs together for a failed Landon solo record, and these wound up as the basis for the first Fat Mattress effort.

“All Night Drinker,” which opens the record, has an unmistakable Jethro Tull feel complete with a rock flute.  But the flute player is really Chris Wood from Traffic, not the only superstar who would pop up on this record.  “I Don’t Mind” is an inoffensive but anonymous bit of English psychedelic pop rock, as is “Petrol Pump Assistant,” with its Byrds-like chiming guitar figure.

One of the album highlights is the wiggy “Magic Forest,” another Traffic soundalike.  In fact, “Magic Forest” was released as a single and achieved mild success – it was a hit in the Netherlands.  “Everything’s Blue” and “Walking Through A Garden” are more flavorful slabs of English pop rock, the former song evoking the sound of Yes and the latter sounding an awful lot like the Who.  Then of course there’s “How Can I Live,” in which Redding’s buddies from the Experience show up to play – Mitch Mitchell sits in on drums and Jimi Hendrix handles the percussion.

The first major public exposure of  Fat Mattress was as the opening act on a Jimi Hendrix U.S. tour, during which Redding performed with both bands. Although they played some big audiences opening for Hendrix,  Fat Mattress were ultimately unable to achieve any notable success on their own.  In fact, their own U.S. headlining tour was canceled after only five dates.  The group disbanded shortly after releasing Fat Mattress II, the follow up to the debut LP.

After leaving Hendrix in 1969 Redding played with a number of bands including the heavy metal trio Road.  Redding stayed bitter about signing away his royalties from the ongoing sales of Hendrix/Experience recordings; in fact when he died in 2003 he had been planning a lawsuit to attempt to gain some of those lost royalties.

MP3: “All Night Drinker”

MP3: “Magic Forest”

MP3: “Walking Through A Garden”

MP3: “How Can I Live”

Video of the Week: “Goodbye” by Steve Earle

Posted in News with tags , on August 16, 2010 by 30daysout

I heard this song recently on the season 4 finale of “Friday Night Lights.” Steve Earle simply awesome once again…

Steve Earle official website

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , on August 12, 2010 by 30daysout

Riffling through my big sister’s records the other day, I noticed a couple of boxes in the back of her closet.  Opening one of the boxes, I discovered some big stacks of 45 singles … yeah!  So today let’s drop the spindle on the turntable and slap on a few of her glorious singles.  Let’s concentrate today on people known in the 1970s as “singer/songwriters” – performers who turned out to be the best representatives of their own material.

When Bob Welch came into the spotlight, he had some big shoes to fill – in 1971 the American singer/guitarist was invited to join British blues-rockers Fleetwood Mac, replacing guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer.  With the Mac, Welch cut five albums including 1972’s Bare Trees, which contained his composition “Sentimental Lady.”  He quit Fleetwood Mac in 1974, formed the short-lived band Paris and finally went solo in 1977.  “Ebony Eyes” was a rockin’ single Welch released that year – it was actually the followup to his Top 10 smash “Sentimental Lady” (re-recorded with some then-current members of Fleetwood Mac: Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham).  “Ebony Eyes” was a guitar rocker that reached No. 14 on the U.S. singles charts.

MP3: “Ebony Eyes” by Bob Welch

Albert Hammond was a British musician who first made his mark as a songwriter.  He co-wrote a number of U.K. hits in the late 1960s-early 1970s including a few that spanned the globe – “Gimme Dat Ding” by the Pipkins (1970) and “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies (1974).  It was after he moved to the United States that Hammond became a singer, and he had a big hit in 1972 with “It Never Rains In Southern California.”  Hammond followed that up the next year with “The Free Electric Band,” the title song for his second solo LP.  The story of a trust fund kid who decided to chuck it all and become a long-haired rock and roller, the song was Hammond’s only chart hit in his native England.

MP3: “The Free Electric Band” by Albert Hammond

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Adios, Buddy!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by 30daysout

Ranger (2001-2010)

Damn …  it’s time to say goodbye to my back porch beer drinking buddy, ol’ Ranger.  He lived with us for about nine years and yesterday he moved on over to the next life.  Ranger’s heart was bigger than 10 backyards but it gave out too soon.

He wasn’t afraid of anything that crawled, climbed or slithered.  The heat or cold didn’t bother him, although he didn’t mind paying a visit indoors once in a while.  That sonovagun liked to run, but he never ran away.  Adios, big boy – we’ll keep your house in case you ever come this way again.

MP3: “Bugler” by the Byrds

MP3: “40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)” by Bob Schneider

MP3: “He’s A Good Dog” by Fred Eaglesmith

MP3: “Hound Dog” by Big Mama Thornton

MP3: “Walking The Dog” by Rufus Thomas

MP3: “Old Blue” by Roger McGuinn

MP3: “Salty Dog” by Flogging Molly

MP3: “Red Dog Speaks” by Elvin Bishop

MP3: “Queenie’s Song” by Guy Clark

MP3: “Old Dog” by Shelby Lynne

MP3: “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges

MP3: “Goodbye” by Steve Earle

Brian Wilson’s Gershwin album coming next week

Posted in News with tags , , on August 11, 2010 by 30daysout

Musical genius Brian Wilson is set to release his new album Brian Wilson Reimagines George Gershwin next week.  You can listen to some clips and see a video documentary on the making of the album:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Brian Wilson official website

Video of the Week: Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three

Posted in News with tags on August 10, 2010 by 30daysout

Pokey LaFarge, a modern day balladeer in the truest sense, delivers his brand of deeply rooted Dust Bowl Appalachia-blues on his third offering Riverboat Soul.  Hailing from St. Louis, Mo, 27-year-old Mr. LaFarge and his dapper band of ragamuffins the South City Three deliver a mighty fine collection of spirited takes that make the doctors and nursemaids feverishly hoot, holler, stomp our feet and clap our hands.

Our favorite cut on Riverboat Soul comes in the form of “La La Blues”- a fistful of freewheeling ragtime, an oscillating groove and foot-tapping hook that shines brightly, a true cooker.  Pokey exclaims: “One thing that’s happened is the new material is being written for a bigger sound with more vocals from my compadres, who all like to join in and make a joyful racket.”  WARNING: This is one of those ear-worms that you can’t shake for days.

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three official website

Review: More Wily Veterans!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on August 9, 2010 by 30daysout

Got some great albums coming out to rock the rest of the summer … let’s jump right in and take a listen:

Street Sweeper Social Club is a rap-rock outfit led by guitarist Tom Morello and vocalist Boots Riley, created in the mold of Morello’s angry Rage Against The Machine.  SSSC blew us away with a live set at SXSW this spring, and now they have The Ghetto Blaster EP, their second album which is really an EP (but you knew that already).  Only seven tracks long, the EP features three covers – including an incendiary version of L.L. Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” as well as M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” and “Everythang,” a song from Riley’s other band The Coup.  But the best things here are the title track and the riotous “The New Fuck You,” as well as a lengthened version of “Promenade,” which happens to be the best track from the band’s debut.  This EP is a great way to get introduced to a terrific new band – but if you get the chance to see them live, do it.  They’ll knock you out.

Video: “Mama Said Knock You Out” from SXSW 2010

Vodpod videos no longer available.

With a lineup that has been pretty much intact for an astounding 36 years, Los Lobos still manage to put out music that sounds as fresh as their major-label debut in 1983 (which was also an EP).  Tin Can Trust opens with the stomping “Burn It Down,” and takes you on a journey with the 10 songs that follow.  Long-time fans will notice the album seems like it was put together from the Los Lobos template: a couple Spanish songs (“Yo Canto” and “Mujer Ingrata”), some tasty blues rock (“Do The Murray,” a cover of the Dead’s “West L.A. Getaway”) and some experimentation (“Jupiter Or The Moon,” which reminded me of Steve Winwood).  Most ambitious is “27 Spanishes,” which is a history lesson set to music, and the simmering “All My Bridges Burning,” which also resembles the Grateful Dead (it was co-written by the Lobos’ Cesar Rosas and Robert Hunter, the Grateful Dead’s lyricist).  The musicianship is top-notch, and the atmospherics are just right.  Tin Can Trust is a very satisfying album.

MP3: “Jupiter Or The Moon”

Marc Cohn is the honey-voiced singer who gave us the hit “Walking In Memphis” and he has recorded an album of covers called Listening Booth 1970.  I was ready to give this thing 50 lashes with a wet noodle for being so, well, wimpy: Cohn smooths down songs like “The Letter” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” then manages even to torque down already slow tunes like “Into The Mystic” or “Make It With You.”  Don’t listen to this while operating heavy machinery!  But the more I listened, the more I got into Cohn’s relaxed groove, and his choice of material: John Lennon’s “Look At Me,” Paul Simon’s “The Only Living Boy In New York”  and the Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie” work best because the songs are not so familiar that they instantly evoke the original artist.  “After Midnight” is too close to ultra-mellow Clapton, and covers of Badfinger and Smokey Robinson are just wrong.  Still, Listening Booth 1970 will work for just about anyone who wants a mellow good time, especially if you pass up the caffeine when you purchase this album at Starbucks.

MP3: “The Letter”

Backyard Fireball: Barbecuin’!

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , on August 8, 2010 by 30daysout

I’m fixin’ to barbecue up some ribs this afternoon – with temperatures at my house expected to be around 95 today, it feels like freakin’ winter.  Yeah it’s been hotter than hell around here lately, but that can’t stop me from barbecuin’!

What about you?  All you need is a fire of some sort, and some meat – and some barbecue sauce to cover up what you screw up.  So let’s get started … you light the pit and I’ll cue up some tunes!

MP3: “Boogie Woogie Barbecue” by Mitch Woods

MP3:  “Barbeque” by Robert Earl Keen

MP3:  “Bar-B-Q” by ZZ Top

MP3: “(Take Out The Squeal) If You Want A Meal” by Earl Summer Jackson

MP3: “Barbecue Boogie” by Elvin Bishop

MP3: “The Original Queen Bee Barbecue” by Harley David

MP3: “Bar-B-Que” by Wendy Rene

MP3: “Eat Your Wife And Kiss The Barbecue” by Mount Righteous

MP3: “Hot Barbecue” by Boogaloo Baby

MP3: “Too Much Barbecue” by Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows

MP3: “Texas Cookin’ ” by Guy Clark

MP3: “BBQ” by The Master Plan

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Willie Dixon

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , on August 5, 2010 by 30daysout

My sister’s been sleeping in these days – she didn’t get a job this summer and she’s been hanging around the house all day.  So I haven’t been able to sneak in and see what she has in her record collection.  So today I have a dusty, forgotten album from my own closet, one that I had to reach way in the back to locate.

It’s Peace? by Chicago bluesman Willie Dixon, and it came out in 1971.  Now Dixon is one of the all-time great American songwriters – he penned such blues classics as “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Evil,” “Spoonful,” “Back Door Man,” “Little Red Rooster,” “My Babe,” “Wang Dang Doodle” and many more.  As performed by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson, these songs put Chicago and Chess Records on the map in the 1950s and influenced thousands of young rockers in the 1960s.

Willie Dixon’s fingerprint on rock and roll is indisputable.  Not only did he work with seminal rockers like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, but songs by Dixon were covered by bands like the Rolling Stones, the Doors and Jimi Hendrix (and stolen by Led Zeppelin).   But while he is considered one of the all-time great songwriters, as a performer he’s not that great.  He can carry a tune and he has a passable sing-shout style appropriate for blues, but when guys like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf are in the same room a singer like Dixon doesn’t have a chance.

So we get to Peace? which was recorded by Dixon for his own label, Yambo, in the early 1970s.  By this time Chess had gone into decline as a label and in fact it was sold in 1969 to General Recorded Tape (GRT).  The classic blues artists were having a hell of a time getting attention with their albums but people like Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry were doing OK on the revival tour circuit.  Dixon thought it would be cool to get all timely and write songs that had some social significance for the time.

Good idea, but that means the music would have a relatively short shelf life.  “Peace” is an agreeable shuffle and it’s still fairly listenable today because its lyrics are broadly written:  “Peace is what I’m tryin’ to get/Peace I haven’t found it yet/Peace all the world needs/A peace for you, a peace for me.”  And with its sweet female chorus and fat horn section, this is a long way from the Wolf’s electric Chicago blues.

“It’s In The News” gets more topical, name-dropping Richard Nixon and Chiang Kai-shek to tell the story of Nixon’s reaching out to China with his so-called “ping pong diplomacy.”  The song is a mess; Dixon attempts to interpret world events in a down-home language, punctuating his verses with the chorus “It’s in the news/Everybody in the world got some kinda blues.”   And that’s the song message – it comes off about as profound and deep as the local loudmouth down at the corner bar.

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