Archive for Bobby Kimball

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

A Tale of Two Cities: Toto, Live 1985

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2008 by 30daysout

As thousands of students filed into G. Rollie White Coliseum on the campus of Texas A&M University on a cool March evening, you could feel excitment in the air. T-shirts and other parephenalia were being snapped up quickly, the beer line was long, the girls were scantily clad and TOTO was about to hit the stage in less than an hour.

The band had just released, Isolation, its first LP since their megahit TOTO IV and the first with new lead singer Fergie Fredericksen, who had replaced Bobby Kimball. I had made the trip from college in Beaumont, TX and, as a fan since the first album, I was really looking forward to this show. After having to endure opening act, John Parr (Naughty, Naughty), TOTO finally hit the stage and proceeded to kick ass.

The crowd was on its feet for most of the night while the band ripped through classics like “Rosanna,” “Hold the Line,” “Africa,” and “I’ll Supply the Love.” Keyboardist David Paich was so enamored with the crowd that at the end of the show he said “whenever anyone asks me where I’m from, I’m going to say College Station, TX.” If you know anything about College Station, the crowd went nuts. Then one week later….the band played at The Summit in Houston. What a difference a week makes.

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30 Days Out Exclusive Interview: Bobby Kimball (Toto)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 4, 2008 by 30daysout

If you listened to the radio in the 1980s – if you even had ears – you heard the music and the musicianship of Toto.  Even if you didn’t know it.  This group, formed in 1977, virtually defined pop music in the 1980s and enjoyed incredible commercial success.  Their songs, including “Hold The Line,” “Rosanna,” “Africa,” “I’ll Supply The Love” and too many others to mention, ruled radio.  And their fourth album, Toto IV, sold millions and earned an armload of Grammy Awards.

This was a group of savvy studio professionals – not only did they shine on everything they recorded as Toto, the band’s members also had a hand in some of the era’s biggest recordings: David Paich masterminded Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees, drummer Jeff Porcaro recorded and toured with Steely Dan; and so on. 

Lead singer Bobby Kimball, from the swamps of East Texas and South Louisiana, anchored this exciting sound as Toto’s lead singer.  He was a founding member of the group then left in 1984 after the massive success of Toto IV.  He rejoined the group in 1998 and fronted the band until they finally called it quits earlier this year.  One of the great voices of rock music, Kimball describes what it was like to be one of the biggest bands of the 20th century, and what led up to its dissolution after three decades and 30 million records sold.

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