Friday, July 8, 2016

Jeff Beck- The Revolution will be Televised

Jeff Beck's new album and track come at a timely point.  Once again his playing is passionate and fearless.
Some are complaining about the female lead vocals, but I think it lifts his work above and appeal beyond the "guitar nerd" level of expression.
The lyrics are topical and current. This isn't a guy just resting on his laurels.



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Vinyl Exams: 1981: A busy time for Joe Walsh, Joe Vitale & Bill Szymczyk

By the end of 1980, the Eagles had broken up under a cloud of strained relations and fatigue, but 1981 began to see the members get back into the music scene.
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Joe Vitale had been playing with Joe Walsh since the Barnstorm days and toured with the Eagles on their last tour as an auxiliary musician
Wikipedia lists the recording of Vitale's solo album "Plantation Harbor" as 1979-80 (probably in spurts around Eagles/Walsh commitments). Produced by Bill Szymczk , longtime Eagles/ Walsh producer. more on this album later...


Szymczk also stayed busy taking on the monumental task of producing The Who's first album since Keith Moon's death "Face Dances". 


Criticized at the time for not rocking enough and sounding more like a Townshend solo album, the album still has some moments. "You Better You Bet" is still in their live setlist today and Entwistle's contributions provided the most energetic moments.
The Who "You"


1981 also saw the release of Mickey Thomas (from Jefferson Starship) solo album "Alive Alone", also produced by Bill Szymczyk. This is was a contractual album Thomas owed Elektra Records. 

Musicians include Vitale on Drums, keyboards and percussion, Don Felder, & George "Chocolate" Perry. It features a Henley/Frey song "Too Much Drama". I enjoy the cover of Cream's "Badge" and 
               the title track written by Jules Shear, "Alive Alone".


Add to that Vitale and Walsh's extensive involvement with John Entwistle's 1981 solo album "Too Late the Hero"
While not a commercial success, it featured the rock radio track "Talk Dirty' and the epic title track (one of Enwistle's best).
                                       "talk Dirty"

                           "Too Late the Hero"
                       
                        
Of course Walsh, with heavy involvement from Vitale and producer Bill Szymczyk , also released his solo album "There Goes the Neighborhood" in the Summer of 1981 . 
It featured the single "a Life of Illusion" and the album rock radio track "Rivers of the Hidden Funk" . I'd also recommend "Made Your Mind Up", one of Walsh's greatest ballads, and "Things", combining his humor with bittersweet feelings.
                             "A Life of Illusion"
                    

                         "Rivers of the Hidden Funk" w/ Don Felder
                              

                              "Made Your Mind Up"
                    

I highly recommend the previously mentioned "Plantation Harbor" album. I discovered in the late 90's. (I found an album in great shape and later sold on EBay for around $75!)

It was like getting extra Joe Walsh record. 
There are some strong memorable songs and features some great guest appearances from Mickey Thomas, Don Felder, the Chicago horn section, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Timothy B. Schmit. Marilyn Martin, probably best best known for her #1 duet with Phil Collins "Separate Lives' contributes some excellent backing vocals reminiscent of Stevie Nicks. 

                                            "Man Gonna Love You" 
with Marilyn Martin & Don Felder
                                    
                      " Never Gonna Leave You Alone"   
                  with Mickey Thomas & Joe Walsh 

                                        
   "The Lady on the Rock" 
w/ Joe Walsh, Don Felder. co-written by Stephen Stills



If you want to stretch out the timeline a little, in 1982 Joe Walsh contributed one of the iconic guitar solo's to ex-bandmate Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry". All of the Eagles, except Glenn Frey contributed songs to the "Fast Times at Ridgemont high" soundtrack. Walsh's "Waffle stomp" was a silly romp that Summer. 
1982 also saw Walsh and Vitale (on one track) record with Ringo Starr for his "Old Wave" release. Walsh produced and played on most tracks.  Released in certain countries in 1983, the album didn't get released in the US until the 90's. 

                          "Waffle Stomp"
 
                       Ringo Starr "In My Car"
                     

I was fortunate enough to see Joe Walsh live last week in Washington,D.C. Joe Vitale was back playing drums and keyboards with him. 

Joe Vitale 2015 interview

Friday, April 24, 2015

Some thoughts on concert live streaming..

It’s a Tuesday night. You’ve worked a hard day. There’s a show 45 miles from home that you’d be more apt to attend if it was on a weekend . Too bad there’s not an alternative way to see the show... Wait! There is!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Top 3 albums of 2014 (one bored music nerd's opinion)

Full disclosure, I am mostly a classic rock, classic alternative rock fan. I really don't hear a lot of new bands or new music that hits me. Sure ,once in a while I'll here a cool song from a current band. It's just rare I check out the whole album...

I really had a hard time thinking of 5 great albums of "NEW" music that came out this year! Songs popped up in movies or on Sirius I would like and find they are a few years old...There are always cool reissues, but I am not counting them...

 One of the big hypes, this year, of course, was the new U2 album released for free by Itunes/Apple. I've listened a few times and would give it 3 out of 5 stars. 
My main problem with it is they used a couple of current trendy producers to , I guess, sound current! but to me what it'd done is generisize (is that a word?) the music. It sounds like maybe what a Bono solo album would sound like(?) Producers like Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite have been an integral part of U2's classic sound and their success. Their touch is missing here...

      



Elsewhere in former Superstar world, Prince released not one but two albums! I confess I have not had the patience to wade through them...
 His Saturday Night Live performance was energetic but the songs were unfamiliar and somewhat unremarkable...





Pink Floyd released the much-hyped "Endless River" only containing 1 mediocre song with vocals.  I confess I am a "Gilmour" guy in the battle of Gilmour/Waters. He always had stronger melodic instincts than Waters who is a limited musician but a fine lyricist. 
I've heard bits and pieces of the rest of the album, but I think I have to be in the right mood to digest this mostly instrumental album...



John Mellencamp used to be a favorite in the 80's. His sound has basically evolved into "Americana", folk and blues. Having said that, if you can accept that change, his "Plain Spoken" is a decent release. The lyrics especially show a maturity and braveness in confronting the aging process.

                 



I did like "Milwaukee" by The Both (Aimee Mann and ted Leo). I confess I haven't listened to the whole album... 




Bryan Adams put out a fine album of covers of some of his favorite old songs as well as putting out a 30 annv. deluxe issue of "Reckless", but I wouldn't count those as "new" music..


                                         

AC/DC returned, against the odds, to release "Rock or Bust". I haven't listened to the whole album , but what I have heard, I already like more than their 2008 over-hyped "Black Ice" release.



Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham returned from the ashes of the excellent hard rock band Black Country Communion to form California Breed. I must admit, I was disappointed with the release. I'm a "melody" "hook" guy and there is a dearth of them here. The music is mostly riffed based; more aggressive than BCC but lacks the catchiness of those BCC songs. Bonham has already left the project apparently over the lack of potential income...

Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers released an album of covers of classic Stax/Volt songs. Recorded with some of the original musicians from the originals. It is a good album, but not one I listen to repeatedly.




 Robert Plant released a new album as well and his "Rainbow" single ishis catchiest since "29 Palms" in 1993. I havent fully investigated the full album so I can't include it here.

               


This brings me back to my original premise. 5 great new albums! but I can only really name 3!




















Chrissie Hynde returned with the excellent "Stockholm". While her first actually "solo" album, she has stated this was one of the more collaborative experiences she's had.
 Chrissie is a rare artists that still writes songs as good or even better than when she started! 
The last "Pretenders" album was released in 2009 and was a mixed batch of ballads, aggressive rockers and even a little country sounding material. Martin Chambers didn't play on it but Nick Wilkenson and James Walbourne did. They are now in her current band. (Confused? I guess no "Martin Chambers"= no "Pretenders"?)

I think the roots of her current style were laid in her excellent collaboration with singer JP Jones and their "JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys" release. 
If you missed it, go back and check it out. Lots of great, catchy tunes. I was lucky enough to see the tour and they were great. 
Collaboration seems to suit Chrissie these days. The proof is in the songs. Guests on the "Stockholm" include Neil Young and John McEnroe (!). I caught her current tour and she was great (when she wasn't yelling at people ,who paid $80 to see her, for taking pictures).



                                  

 



 











                                          


















 


Billy Idol is not a name you would think of sounding "vital" in 2014, but his latest "Kings and Queens of the Underground" is one his strongest albums and maybe his best overall since "Rebel Yell". Combing some of his original aggressiveness with a more reflective, introspective sound. Some of the lyric subject matter was brought on by the writing his autobiography. 
Legendary producer Trevor Horn does an excellent job with combing all of the sonic elements. Horn also plays bass on the album and brought in his old Buggles/YES bandmate Geoff Downes to contribute some fine, subtle keyboard work. Steve Stevens is still a great guitarist. Here, he shows some restraint to mix in with all of the other elements of the music.
                               
                     








                                                 














I couldn't remember if Circa Zero's "Circus Hero" came out this year or last. They had done some early press in 2013 but the album came out the Spring of 2014. 
They then did a few promo appearances and disappeared! The group, Andy Summers of the Police and Rob Giles from the Rescues, combined to write and perform an excellent album that mixed elements of the Police with, say, some more modern elements of groups like the Foo Fighters. STING has not put out a solo album this consistent!
The guys even appeared on Jimmy Kimmel
In interviews, they sounded ambitious and committed to the group; even speaking of doing a second album! 
I was hoping for a tour, but they talked about finding the "right opportunity" and not wanting to play "clubs".  (uh-oh)
I would assume this would mostly be Summers reservations. (His last tour was the Police reunion tour, one of the biggest of all-time.)
 
They really should have reconsidered and played this past summer at some of the popular clubs in the US (here in this area, the 9:30 club would have been good). I think they were hoping to get an opening slot with a current big band on a tour of arenas or outdoor sheds. Obviously, this didn't happen. 
They stopped tweeting and updating their website.. (not a good sign).. I thought they had a lot of potential... Maybe they will surprise and continue on...

    





                                              
                       



Those are the 3 essential albums from this year, to me.

some "Honorable Mentions" would include:

 Spandau Ballet, have returned with a documentary and a career spanning compilation that included 3 new songs produced by Trevor Horn (him again!). 
"This is the Love" is in the fine tradition of "Gold" and "Soul Boy" reminds me of a good ABC-type track (think "By Default By Design" meets "The Night you Murdered Love").



Also, Bryan Ferry released, to me, his best solo album in a long time. I hear elements of classic, late period Roxy and also his "Bete Noire" era. I would recommend, and if this were a "Top 4" list I would include him...





Hopefully 2015 will bring us some more good stuff

Cheers and Happy New Year.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Seconds and minutes...5 songs: Human League, U2, The Outfield, John Mellencamp, Don Henley






Heard this one on Sirius today. The Human League had a few really good deeper cuts (also check out "louise" and "life on Your Own").
 Phil Oakley has a great voice and I think really sings with honesty and conviction.






Human League "Seconds"

                                              

                                                      
        Pretty much every song on "War" is a winner. 
      The Edge shares lead vocals with Bono on this one.
                                          
                                                   U2 "Seconds"(live)

                       

                
                           

  Yes, we still constantly hear the ubiquitous "Your Love", but these guys had some other decent songs....
Producer/Engineer William Wittman had a recognizable sound.
He also worked with The Fixx,  Patty Smyth and Scandal, The Hooters and more.


                                          The Outfield "61 Seconds"







 I admit, as a person that was a big John Cougar Mellencamp fan in the 80's, I've been disappointed as he has been moving away from Rock into Folk and Americana styles of writing and performing, but I've realized he's older and it's his choice... He's probably not going back to the "Crash boom bam" anytime soon. 
Upon acceptance, his new album has some very thoughtful lyrics and gentle tunes running thru it. 
He often performs older hits in this style(with mixed results). Here's a 2014 performance of  an old fan favorite/album cut from the "Scarecrow" days. The song does lend itself to the folky arrangement

                              John Mellencamp Live 2014
                     "Minutes To Memories"





                                     


In this song, the protagonist has loved and lost; won and been defeated..but ,the song has hope.... Just as things can go bad in a "new york minute", things can turn around for you just as fast. You have to hang in and be open to new opportunity....


                           Don Henley "New York Minute"
                 (live 1994 with the Eagles)


The Eagles - New York Minute by 0Ztaylovic0

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Orignal Vs. Cover(s) "Rosalie" Bob Seger vs Thin Lizzy, Andy Taylor

"Rosalie" is an obscure old Bob Seger song from his "Back in '72 album. I say 'album" because, strangely it has NEVER been released on even though it contains the studio version of his beloved "Turn the Page"

                                



Irish hard rockers Thin Lizzy covered the tune on their 1975 release "Fighting". The Lizzy boys add some distortion and speed the song up a little.

 


Ex- Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor, always a rocker at heart, covered the tune live and even thru in Thin Lizzy's "Cowboy Song" for good measure. Taylor has always professed his love for Lizzy and is essentially covering their version.


Phil Lynott's raspy voice  really captures the energy needed to sell the song, so I think you've got to give the "win" to Thin Lizzy for dusting the song off and making it a great rockin track.