Archive for James Burton

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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Review: “Play” by Brad Paisley

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on November 10, 2008 by 30daysout

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This new album from country music hitmaker Brad Paisley is a slight breath of fresh air – certainly it’s head and shoulders above 90 percent of the usual Nashville crap.  Play is mostly guitar-fueled instrumentals, and Paisley as a picker ain’t bad at all.  He does the usual country raveups and tosses in some stylistic detours like the surf thumper “Turf’s Up” or “Les Is More,” played in the style of guitar pioneer Les Paul.  Oh, he throws in some vocal tunes for the girls – “Start A Band” is a goof duet with Keith Urban and “Come On In” features the late Buck Owens.  Paisley even remakes his own hit “Waiting On A Woman” with a guest appearance by … wait for it … Andy Griffith.  B.B. King shows up to play and sing on “Let The Good Times Roll,” the obligatory kinda-blues number.  The album’s centerpiece “Cluster Pluck” features a traffic jam on guitars with guest pickers James Burton, Vince Gill, Redd Volkaert and many others.  Despite the stellar lineup, the song is pretty standard stuff. Upon first listen I was thinking, this is OK, but why is this boy trying so hard?  Maybe he wants to show everyone he’s more than just a pretty-boy country singer who happens to be a good guitar player.  So instead of trying to be George Strait, Brad wants to be, uh, Roy Clark?  Well, give Brad Paisley points for trying; Play is just what the title promises – some nice clean fun.

MP3: “Come On In” by Brad Paisley with Buck Owens

MP3: “Turf’s Up” by Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley official website

Stream the whole album for free

Lost Classics! Jerry Lee Lewis

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , on October 6, 2008 by 30daysout

Jerry Lee Lewis, 1980. Photo by Art Meripol

You can call Jerry Lee Lewis a lot of things – but “boring” is certainly not one of them.  Lewis, of course, came up in the late 1950s through Sun Studios in Memphis, and his work for that label is one of the cornerstones of rock.  “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Great Balls Of Fire” and some of the other sides he cut for Sun are true rock and roll classics.

But almost as soon as he became well known, Lewis courted controversy.  He married his second wife before he was divorced from his first, and in 1958 he took on a third wife: his 13-year-old first cousin (once removed).  The resulting scandal basically ruined his career, and while Lewis never has stopped recording the only hits he had after that were on the country charts.

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