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Matheson Kamin’s Best of List for 2019

The year of 2019 is coming to a close. That means it’s time for everyone who reviews music to put together their Best Of lists. This one is mine. And like with many of the Best Of lists I have done through the years, this one comes in several parts.

The first part of the list consists of ten albums of original music that I had reviewed in 2019. The ten releases in the main section of the article are those releases that need to be mentioned one last time before the year comes to an end. Most of the reviews come from this site for the Rock and Roll Report. However, two of the reviews were originally posted in my own WordPress site called Matheson’s Entertainment Blog

The second part of the list consists of only two releases, but they still have great meaning to me. And coincidentally, both albums are from singer-songwriters that have the same first name.
The first album in this section,
Emily Mure’s Sad Songs and Waltzes, is a release that features Mure re-imaging some very good songs from days gone by. As it is a release of only cover tracks, I did not want to include it in the main portion of the list. Instead, I am placing it in the second portion of the article.
And with Emily Strand’s
Delay in the Connection, I had found a review from a long time ago that had never been published for one reason or another. I had given the singer-songwriter and this release some coverage around the time that it was out but had never actually created a full review that would appear online. Finishing and publishing what should have been the 2005 review of this strong release in early March of this year, I wanted to include it in the list for 2019, even if it is not from the same decade much less the same year. So I placed the 2004 release in this section. 

The third and final section of my Best of List for 2019 features some of the best songs that have remained with me throughout the entire year. These songs deserve to be promoted one last time before the year comes to an end.

With all of that in mind, may I present Matheson Kamin’s Best of 2019 List:

 

1 Benny Bassett “Words For Yesterday”

It was back in 2014 that the band Vintage Blue released their EP called No Going Back. That release would prove to be the band’s last release. Shortly afterward, lead singer Benny Bassett would take the next step and go on his own as a solo artist. And as such, Bassett has created releases that have stayed in a relatively close musical frame of mind as what had been created by his former band. To date, Bassett has released one album and one EP of original music of his own since the members of the band went their separate ways. Having just recently put out the acoustic EP called Rosemont Sessions – Volume One which finds Bassett segueing from older material to the newer songs, he has just released his newest EP called Words for Yesterday. Words for Yesterday from Benny Bassett finds the singer-songwriter in fine form. The new EP is perfect for any fan of Adult Contemporary music. The release gives the listener a good cross section of what Bassett can do. The EP comes with a lot of the same kind of Adult Contemporary flavor that was present in his music with his former band of Vintage Blue while it also shows off his ability to stretch as an artist. 

Read the entire article HERE

 

2 The Good Morning Nags “Hard Hope” 

Six-piece NYC based ensemble The Good Morning Nags dates back almost a decade as they formed back in 2010. Today’s version of the band consists of Tim Hassler (fiddle, vocals), Ben Quinn (mandolin, guitar, harmonium, and vocals), Titus Tompkins (percussion, mandolin, vocals) and Britt Reagan (guitar, dulcimer, vocals) as well as Mark Spitznagel (banjo, vocals) and Pete O’Neill (bass, vocals). This ensemble of musicians takes their various musical influences and creates a style that revolves around a Folk-Rock/Country-Rock style of music. Having already released seven-song self-titled EP back in 2017, the band recently returned with a new album of music. That 2019 album is entitled Hard Hope. The Hard Hope release from The Good Morning Nags finds the band building upon that earlier release. While most of this release falls into the Americana category, this is a solid album of music that actually outshines the earlier release, which indicates that the band is growing as a unit. 

Read the entire article HERE

 

3 Bird Streets S/T

John Brodeur is a New York-based singer-songwriter who has spent the last twenty years as basically a one-man band, creating several albums of Indie Rock. The last release to come from Brodeur came out in 2013 and that album was called Little Hopes. Cut to five years later and a new album from Brodeur was created. But this particular release was slightly different from what had come before. Right around the time he was wrapping up production on the Little Hopes album, John Brodeur found himself looking to create something new. This time, however, he decided not to go it alone. Brodeur got in contact with multi-faceted artist Jason Faulkner and talked Faulkner into helping him produce the music for a new venture. The result is a musical project known as Bird Streets, a moniker that came from a section of the area known as the Hollywood Hills. Brodeur spent time in both 2014 and 2016 working alongside Faulkner during which time they created the debut album for Bird Streets. The self-titled debut release from Bird Streets was released in 2018. As you make your way through the various tracks that make up the self-titled debut release from Bird Streets, there is plenty on the album to keep fans of John Brodeur happy. Plus, the inclusion of Jason Faulkner helps add new dimensions to his music that weren’t there before. Together, John Brodeur and Jason Faulkner create an album that fans of the eighties, nineties and today will truly enjoy as influences from all of those decades help to shape the music of this release.

Read the entire article HERE

4 Falling Stars “Let it All Go”

Falling Stars is a Cleveland, Ohio-based Rock and Roll band. The main backbone of the band, Chris Allen and Tim Parnin have been creating music within the Greater Cleveland area for around fifty years of combined experience. While Chris Allen and Tim Parnin have been kicking around the area for years, it was only when the two artists decided to collaborate that they actually played together. They called upon Dave Padrutt and Gary Porter for their new band. In 2017, Falling Stars put out their initial release called Stranded in the Future, an album that found the band drawing from several different styles and time periods of Rock and Roll in order to bring their song to life. What resulted was a release that was the perfect addition to any Rock and Roll lover’s music collection. Two years have passed. Chris Allen, Tim Parnin and the rest released the band released as their second release, an EP called Let It All Go. Let It All Go is rather short with only four tracks. And those four tracks contain only about eleven minutes of music as each of the four songs lasts for just over two-and-a-half minutes a piece. But no matter how short the EP happens to be, each track shows off the various musical influences that help to shape the sound of the band. Whether it is the genres of music that the band draws from, or the person behind the production board who helps to shape the sound of the tracks, the four songs contained within Let It All Go from Falling Stars combine to create an EP that shows off the progression of the four band mates of Chris Allen, Tim Parnin, Dave Padrutt and Gerry Porter as a group.

Read the entire article HERE

 

5 Griffin House “Rising Star”

Griffin House is a musician and singer-songwriter who went in the direction of music when he could have taken a much different path in life. He was offered a golf scholarship to Ohio University but chose Miami University in Oxford, Ohio instead. While there, he focused his free time on learning to play guitar and write songs. Griffin House has released a number of albums and other releases that contain his version of Americana music, which contains a strong, underlying Rock and Roll flavor to the music as well as other musical influences. The most current album from the singer-songwriter, released earlier this year, is entitled Rising Star. Like other albums in Griffin House’s discography, the ever-changing feel of the music within the Rising Star album keeps the album interesting. Much of the new release from Griffin House blends together, creating a loose storyline throughout the tracks. But since the album was created at the same time a documentary film starring House was being created, that’s understandable. And with the loose storyline running through the tracks, this ends up being one of the more interesting albums produced by the singer-songwriter.   

Read the entire article HERE

 

6 Erica Blinn “Better Than Gold”

Currently calling the city of Nashville, Tennessee home, Erica Blinn is a singer-songwriter from Columbus, Ohio. Performing for the musician started rather young as she was only a teenager when she started playing the harmonica which would lead to her exploration of other instruments which includes the guitar, the instrument that she plays on stage when in concert. As a songwriter, Erica Blinn has released three albums: 2011’s self-titled EP, 2014’s Lovers in the Dust, and her most current album, 2018’s Better than Gold. It is that last album on which Blinn is currently touring. The Better than Gold album Erica Blinn finds her creating songs that contain many different styles of music. From straight-out Rock and Roll to Pop-Rock with some funkiness to it, the various tracks on the album help give the album depth. And with those various musical elements, Erica Blinn’s abilities as a singer-songwriter comes through rather well. The album ends up being strong from beginning to end.

Read the entire article HERE

 

7 The Motels “The Last Few Beautiful Days”

The band known as The Motels has been creating music for almost fifty years. While the band has had a few hit singles over the years (which included “Only The Lonely,” “Suddenly Last Summer” and a few others), the band has been rather low-key. Between 1971 and today, the band has gone through several different versions, used several different names and has even gone through periods where there wasn’t a version of the band at all when lead singer Martha Davis was recording and touring under her own music. After an extended period where The Motels were not a thing, Martha Davis and others formed a version of the band. This band created the album Clean Modern and Reasonable in September 2007, the first album from The Motels in 22 years. The current version of The Motels consists of: Martha Davis, Clint Walsh Guitar, Nic Johns Bass, Marty Jourard Keyboards and Sax and Eric Gardner Drums. This version of The Motels have created the newest album under the moniker of The Motels, 2018’s The Last Few Beautiful Days. For those who have enjoyed songs like “Suddenly Last Summer,” “Remember the Nights,” and “Only The Lonely” from The Motels over the last forty years, then the band’s newest release of The Last Few Beautiful Days should be an album you will enjoy. The reason for that is because the new release from The Motels feels like much of the band’s previous albums as the music of this album find Martha Davis and band drawing inspiration from the past.   

Read the entire article HERE

 

8 The Persian Leaps “Electrical Living”

Drew Forsberg is the driving force behind the St. Paul, Minnesota-based band called The Persian Leaps. Having been created by Forsberg back in the early days of this decade, the band was mainly a musical outlet for Forsberg who used the moniker of The Persian Leaps to release his solo music. Eventually, however, it became necessary to create a real band to perform the music. And through the lifetime of The Persian Leaps, the musical outfit has gone through several stages, from the solo project to a full band, changing sizes depending on how many people were in the band at the time. Throughout the time that The Persian Leaps have existed, the musical outfit has released a generous amount of 5-song EPs. Then the band released its first full-length album, Pop That Goes Crunch, last year. And having already released one album of music, The Persian Leaps returns in 2019 with yet another one. This time, the new release from the band is entitled Electrical Living. Throughout the release entitled Electrical Living, The Persian Leaps create an album that alternates between Power Pop and Alternative Rock. When combined together, the eleven songs on the release create one solid album that features many radio-friendly tracks for those who like the music of the late eighties/early nineties. And while this particular album is a break from the norm for The Persian Leaps founder Drew Forsberg, the choice to go in a different direction resulted in a strong release that is absolutely worth checking out.

Read the entire article HERE

 

9 Gretchen Pleuss “Daughter of the Broader Skies”

Gretchen Pleuss is an Ohio-bred singer-songwriter who makes her home in Akron and performs regularly around the Northeastern Ohio region. Not only does she perform her own music in venues around the area, she also hosts an Open-mic night at the Uncorked Wine Bar. As a singer-songwriter, Pleuss creates music that is strongly based in Folk-Rock. And it is that style of music that can be found on Pleuss’ albums Out of Dreams (2013) and From Birth, To Breath, To Bone (2016). Pleuss recently added to that discography with her latest album, 2019’s Daughter of the Broader Skies. As a musician, Gretchen Pleuss is a guitarist that has developed a rather jazzy style to her playing. That jazzy playing style from Pleuss helps to shape the feel of her Folk-Rock music, which is very evident in her latest album of Daughter of the Broader Skies.  Pleuss’ new release contains many songs that have a light, bouncy feel to them. But the songs on the album that come with a message keep the release from getting too light and easy. The dozen tracks on the release show off the talent of Gretchen Pleuss as a singer-songwriter as well as musician.   
 
Read the entire article HERE

 

10 Hadley Kennary “Habits”

Chicago, Illinois native Hadley Kennary is a singer-songwriter who, like many trying to make it in the music industry, has moved to Nashville to be part of the vibrant music scene in that town. And being in Nashville, Kennary is starting to get noticed. That has to do with her strong vocals and her writing ability. Both of those qualities have led to many accolades such as winning second place in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Songwriting Competition, as well as being included in several other contests. To date, Hadley Kennary released a self-titled release in 2011, the In Fall album in 2013 and the Momentum EP in 2016. Just recently, Kennary released her newest EP of music. The 2019 release from the singer-songwriter is titled Habits. Habits from Hadley Kennary is a strong five–song release. And with the Pop-Rock, Alternative Rock, even Top 40 influences in the songs, the album gives the listener a short, but accurate indication of the talents of Kennary. Whether you are a fan of Pop-Rock, Alternative Rock, even Top 40 music, there’s something here for any lover of Rock and Roll music.  

Read the entire article HERE

 

Extra #1: Emily Mure “Sad Songs and Waltzes”

Having been classically-trained as an oboist, New York City’s singer-songwriter Emily Mure would later move to the guitar with which she would find her true calling as a Folk musician. Emily Mure has released three albums of original Contemporary Folk music. But now, the most current release from the singer-songwriter finds her exploring a much different idea. Mure’s newest release, entitled Sad Songs & Waltzes, is a short five-track release where Mure reinvents some of the songs that helped influence her, even if those songs don’t actually fall into the same musical category that she is classified under. The Sad Songs & Waltzes release from Emily Mure is a well-named release as all of the tracks (“Gone for Good” from the band The Shins, the album’s title track of “Sad Songs and Waltzes” written by Willie Nelson, The Cranberries’ song “When You’re Gone,” Wilco’s “The Lonely 1,” “No Surprises,” by Radiohead, and “Yellow” from Coldplay) contain rather sad lyrics to them. Together with the Folk-inspired arrangements, the six resulting cover tracks create a solid release that is familiar and intriguing at the same time. And although each track falls into the Folk category because of the arrangements of the songs, the release also belongs within the Rock and Roll music category because of the songs and the artists who created them originally being of the Rock and Roll style.

Read the entire article HERE

Extra #2: Emily Strand “Delay in the Connection”

Dayton-based Emily Strand is a musician who is currently creating music that is largely based in the Folk music genre. Her style of music blends together a large amount of Folk influence with an equal amount of Rock and Roll. That Folk/Rock blend created by Strand is matched up with her vocal talent to create a sound that is easily reminiscent of earlier female Folk artists like Joni Mitchell or Carly Simon. And while Strand does have a sound that is very similar to the likes of Joni Mitchell, her sound is slightly more commercial. Taking all of that into consideration it is not surprising that Strand’s music is as catchy as it is. Emily Strand has already released her own music. The singer-songwriter (and guitarist) released her debut release entitled Evansville. Strand added to her music collection with her latest release entitled Delay in the Connection. Delay in the Connection from Emily Strand is a solid release throughout the ten tracks that are included on it. The base of Folk music threads its way through the album, but the release has plenty of moments that contain a lot of energy.  And several of the tracks on the album contain plenty of promise as they feel like hit singles yet to be released. If you are a fan of artists like Ani Difranco, Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow or even Alanis Morissette, Emily Strand is one artist you need to add to your music collection. And you should start off with this album of Delay in the Connection. 

Read the entire article HERE


Top 5 Songs from 2019 (in no real order):

1 Bird Streets “Betting on the Sun”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJGftkNgaik

2 Hadley Kennary “Casual”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=63&v=-fZaqMRNrqE&feature=emb_logo

3 The Good Morning Nags “Birmingham”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fCTfClEy-4

4 The Motels “Punchline”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=x5ycH5rtMA4&feature=emb_logo

5 Falling Stars “Let it All Go”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4WL5h5wrWo&feature=emb_logo

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Featured Review Reviews and Suggestions

PIGSHIT: Ten You May Have Missed In 2019

PIGSHIT: Ten You May Have Missed In 2019
So even though Tarantino’s latest failed to put Paul Revere or his Raiders back up at the Toppermost of the Poppermost, and American Funnyman Neil Hamburger’s long-too-awaited Still Dwelling seems to have passed totally under the fryer, the Pig Player this past year was kept busy as always spinning, alphabetically as always…   

 

 

 

ALEX CHILTON
From Memphis To New Orleans
(Bar/None Records)

“Alex Chilton created a unique body of work when he emerged from a self-imposed exile in the 1980s” says the handy sticker on the shrinkwrap, and this stellar assortment more than ably covers each of the man’s bases, musical and otherwise. From the vengefully autobiographical “Lost My Job” to the Zappa-sharp “Guantanamerika” to, yes, the covers (a fine Brian Wilson-fashion “Let Me Get Close To You” plus a “Little GTO” that would impress Ronny and his Daytonas) there is something here for every ear …as was, more often than not, Alex’s wont in life. Personally, the real revelation to me was the anything but celibate “No Sex” guitar work, the “Dalai Lama” meets Alley Oop – hearing is believing – almost – and, most comi-tragically, how with just a twee bit of a tart-up “Thing For You” could’ve been one of Hall & Oates’ most ginormous-ever chart-toppers …sparing our hero from months of pushing brooms, washing dishes and trimming trees had only, alas, song met singers. “A solid collection for the super fan as well as the new listener,” to quote that sticker again? I’d recommend everyone steering this collection From Memphis To New Orleans to your player of choice asap.       

ALAN CLAYSON AND THE ARGONAUTS
Sol Nova
(Hookah Records)

After a performance last August by the one, the still only Alan Clayson at the Half Moon in Putney (I myself caught a Neil Innes show there a few years ago …but I digress) a gentleman claiming to own a record company expressed interest in immortalizing the man’s quite legendary “Sol Nova” upon ten inches of 21st Century vinyl. “While I was civil enough to him,” Alan reports, “I’m sufficiently battle-hardened by the business to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised if it turns out he wasn’t talking crap. And, he wasn’t! He seemed to be someone with more money than sense – and I like people like that.” Or, as the official Hookah Press Release perfectly states, “On rare occasion a bright object will appear without warning in the night sky. This might be a sol nova; a star that, via a side-action of radio activity, has mutated suddenly into a celestial behemoth, swallowing and destroying all the planets in its orbit. And their inhabitants. Alan Clayson and The Argonauts have expressed this horror via a single of space-rock persuasion. Please try not to faint.”

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Between The Lines: The Complete Jordan/Wilson Songbook ’71-81
(Grown Up Wrong! Records)

Jordan/Wilson as in Cyril and Chris, that is. And while that musical team may for some inexplicable reason still not find themselves uttered in the same circles as Jagger/Richard(s) and, dare I say it, Lennon/McCartney, this above-superb compendium of shoulda-been-Big-BIG-hits from their Golden Decade sets records completely straight in a wholly, well, Groovie way. From the smartly Small Faces “Let Me Rock” clear through the too-bad-the-Ramones-never-got-a-stab-at “So Much In Love,” it’s plain this material, while planted in the past (eg: “Teenage Confidential” is the best song Gene Clark never wrote, while “Yes I Am” encapsulates the entire Aftermath LP in two and a half minutes flat) adroitly set the stage for the power popping paisleys of the Eighties and Nineties to come. Honestly, I still remember how absolutely floored I was when the magnificently Merseybeating “Yes It’s True” and especially “You Tore Me Down” first appeared upon my Pig Player 43-or-so years ago: I put my own band together within a week. P.S.: Also not to be missed in any way whatsoever is Grown Up Wrong’s I’ll Have A… Bucket of Brains collection of all the Groovies’ original, mainly Rockfield recordings from A.D. 1972. All together then, that’ll make four – count ’em! – versions of “Shake Some Action.”

JOHN & YOKO
Above Us Only Sky
(Eagle Vision)

Just when you thought there was categorically nothing left to see, let alone hear, about John Lennon comes this unexpectedly revealing study of J & Y circa 1971. Ostensibly a fly-on-the-studio-wall charting of the Imagine album sessions – quite possibly the most (over?) documented five days in recorded music history – Above Us Only Sky veers into all sorts of fascinating directions; most intriguingly into the backstories of both Yoko and John… which explains not only why the two got together, but why they stayed together. These 113 minutes also illuminate, as never before, the sly yet festering radicalism which lurks, not just lyrically, beneath much of the “sugar coating” which John later described, in perhaps attempting to excuse, the finished product’s orchestral gloss. Speaking of which, of particular note throughout is the ubiquitous, perpetually sunglassed Phil Spector: “a very heavy presence” in the understated words of Sounds photographer Kieron “Spud” Murphy. On much the other hand however is the vintage ’69 Bonus footage of John, Yoko, and Apple publicist Derek Taylor (!) busking “Oh Yoko!” in a Bahamian hotel room. Who knew Mrs. Lennon could be so skilled at harmony singing?!!      

LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS
“Black Velvet Dress” / “Alex”
(Big Stir Records)

For anyone out there who may still, for some unfathomable reason, question the power and the glory of the three-minute four-chord p-o-p song done right, “Black Velvet Dress” will in no way fail to raise you off your settee and shove things direct towards the nearest Volume UP knob. “I heard you were giving a funeral today” may indeed be the first words voiced here, but what follows instead is a deceptively cheery deep breeze through all the brightest and the best of a circa-’78 playlist from your most trusted music geek’s audio closet. Nostalgic? No. The word would be “timeless.” N.B.: stay tuned for the coda too. Meanwhile, “Alex” sports the exceptionally ethereal sheen of, say, the Springfield or even Who at their most subtle and nuanced …and the concluding 30 seconds are just about the most gorgeous I’ve spent all year. Oh! and Hunt down then repeatedly hear these Librarians’ “And Then She’s Gone” b/w “Until There Was You” as well. And let’s all hope their long-promised full-length album isn’t much longer overdue.   

 

KIMBERLEY REW AND LEE CAVE-BERRY
Enjoy The Rest Of Your Day
(KL Recording)

And on the subject of pop done right, connoisseurs of the jangle genre, while already well acquainted with Mr. Rew’s renowned past will be as tickled as I at the breadth, bravado, and downright panache he and Lee pack into this singularly unassuming little disc. Donning their Blue Caps straight out of the gate on “Flat Cat,” rollicking towards The Great Lost Buckingham Nicks gem “Jess,” the two can make one incredible string band (“Angel On Earth”) one moment, then with “Sad Case” ricochet with precisely the kind of Northern beat ballad last heard on your fave rave Hollies B-side. Lee’s “Backing Singer Blues” places her 20 feet from stardom, certainly, but in a less bitter, more sweet way while “All The Colours” and maybe even the T.Rex-y “Sister Cow” demonstrate a most fruitful future awaits K & L if ever they should decide to explore the wide wild world of children’s entertainment. No, really! These songs are exhilaratingly all-ages, you bet, but with a keen eye and ear towards the canny sophistication which comes with musicians and songwriters who’ve been around. All the way around. And don’t it feel good?    

“THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS”
(ABKCO Films)

As the onslaught of over-boxed (not to mention all too frequently over-hyped and -priced) 50th Anniversary Christmastime Commemorative Issues roll onward and outward, how refreshing to hear – and see! – a package that more than deserves its place not only in socio-musical history, but right up there on your nearest collectors’ shelf too. This exquisitely restored and bountifully expanded edition of the Rolling Stones’ sorta-ill-fated 1968 all-star-and-then-some television spectacular is worth treasuring today if only to savor fresh commentary tracks from Mick and Keith, Marianne and Yoko, and director Michael Lindsay-Hogg …not to mention a bonus trio of additional Taj Mahal performances and even a Dirty Mac rehearsal of the latest Beatle B-side “Revolution.” Nevertheless, when all is said and sung, it remains The Who and their still-incendiary-after-all-these-years “A Quick One While He’s Away” that continues to steal the show; “for a brief moment it seemed that rock ‘n’ roll would inherit the Earth,” as no less an authority as official Circus chronicler David Dalton reminds us.    

 

SEX CLARK FIVE
The Orange Album
(Records to Russia)

It’s getting harder each and every decade to “miss” our beloved SC5, as they inch ever so closer to genuine mainstream underground acclaim and success: Now, in a mere 40 (!) minutes, are 23 (!!) good 2019 reasons why. Including “The Orange Album Song” (clocking in at 0:44), “Feel Too Hard” (adept vocal counterpointing), “Leni Riefenstahl,” “Jeanne d’Arc” and “Merchant of Venice” (acute melodic name-dropping; the latter complete with transcription sampling), “Those Days Are Gone” (psych!), “Cosmic Brain” (power!), “Home at Last” (pop!!), “Danielle” (I love the Honeycombs too), “Girl” (beats the Beatles’), “Hold On” (beats the Hermits’!), “Another Glad Life” (should’ve ended up in that Queen movie), “Dark Age Saint” (should’ve ended up on Disc 4 of the Kinks’ new Arthur box) …and I have still left a full ten other tracks thoroughly unaccounted for! Yes, James Butler and Rick Storey have produced yet another album which, remarkably, remains unfailingly loyal to their very own style of sound; as unmistakable today as it was in, unbelievably, 1985. If you missed them then, don’t miss them now.

SQUIRES OF THE SUBTERRAIN
Radio Silence
(Rocket Racket Records)

Our noble Squire may have taken ’018 off, but he’s back …in all of his “recorded in the basement on analog gear” splendor. And you know what? This whole project seems, and surely sounds, positively soused from start to finish. But, in the kind of way that might make even the 1972 Raymond Douglas Davies green with ARLD. Tracks titled “Fever Eyes,” “Whiskey Closet” and “Tequila And Gin” provide clues, of course; not to mention the “Last call, Harry Nilsson!” aroma ’round “Too Much Of A Good Thing.” Elsewhere though, there’s the “8th Wonder Of The World” (yep, it’s the eighth number of the program) which should immediately be sent David Lynch’s way, the severely alt. country – even Hank Hardwood might appreciate – “Shadow,” and the Bradley brothers’ brass-propelled clean outta Nola and into the swamp “House Of Ghosts.” Add a shot of Speedy Keen on the title track accompanied by the most, um, mischievously tuned pianos this side of Quadrophenia and the Radio Silence becomes truly deafening.    


JOHNNY THUNDERS    
Madrid Memory
(Cleopatra Records)

Had I been anywhere in Spain on the evening of June 14, 1984, I would have made damn sure I was right there cheering on everyone’s favorite Doll as he and veteran partner-in-grime S. Sylvain hurled themselves through this typically shambled set of classics, soon-to-be-classics, and Grade A clunkers to boot. Introduced with simulated lightning and, yes, thunder, then the dulcet tones of “Pipeline,” a JT resplendent in his finest Dr. as opposed to Sgt. Pepper matador finery kicks off with an expertly ragged one-two “Personality Crisis”/”Too Much Junkie Business” slap before settling into the slipstream of things, Madrid-style. That means a shot of “Tequila” mixed with the “Just Another Girl” guitar solo, Sylvain ravaging his portable 88’s for a Booker T. by way of Terry Adams “Green Onions” I kid you not and, ladies and gentlemen, Jerry Nolan beating beautifully during “Don’t Mess With Cupid” especially. Break the merriment with an interview segment featuring, and I quote, Composer and Painter Carlos Berlanga, Music Producer, Manager and Starmaker Miguel Angel Arenas and three-quarters of the Zoquillos Punk Rock Band, follow with a four-song acoustic encore featuring a flamenco “Eve of Destruction” (!)… all memories you can put more than your arms around. Then, for even more fun, Don’t Forget to check in to Room 37 on your way out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Featured Review

PIGSHIT: TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2018

Lindsey Buckingham got kicked out of Fleetwood Mac (again), The Monkees made their first-ever Christmas album (!), and I am still waiting for that big Turtles Battle of the Bands Commemorative Special Anniversary Collectors Edition. In the meantime though, I remained happily singing along beneath headphones to (in strictly Alphabetical order)…  


EDGAR BREAU
Edgar Breau
(Flying Inn Recordings)

Understandably kept quite busy piloting Simply Saucer since his Patches Of Blue in 2012, this marvelous return to root launches from the man’s consistently astonishing acoustichords into realms only hinted at on previous releases. Meticulously, beautifully recorded by Jordan Mitchell and Adam Bentley at their TAPE Studio, the often haunting aural landscapes – evident often during each track’s decaying moments, so as to ensure the listener’s listening – support and perfectly compliment the album’s deceptively tranquil lyrics. And Edgar’s eye, not just ear for detail has rarely been as keen (“Days Of Golden Sunlight”) nor as sharp (“Mount Idaho”); even when cast with W. B. Yeats (“He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead”)!  Kim Deschamps’ pedal steel adds ideal touches, to the N.ville North of “Martha’s Back” for instance, and Colina Phillips’ vocal harmonies are of course, and I quote, knockout. Not since my most recent digital encounter with Johnny Dowd have I spent such a fulfilling three-quarters of an hour with the lights out, and the campfire slowly fading.       

 

“D.O.A.: A RIGHT OF PASSAGE”
(MVD Rewind)

Celebrating, if that’s the correct word, the 40th (!) anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ ill-fated inaugural tour of the U.S. – and subsequent implosion – this more-than-bountiful Blu-ray + DVD edition contains still-incendiary mosh-eye footage of John Paul Steve ‘n’ Sid wow’ing (all the while confusing, baiting, and too often inflaming) the unsuspecting denizens of Atlanta, San Antonio and Dallas et al, then heads to the very heart of the matter – the decaying rot of James “No Future” Callaghan’s once Great Britain – to watch Generation X record “Kiss Me Deadly,” ex-Pistol Glen Matlock’s Rich Kids attempt a pretty lame “Pretty Vacant,” and X-Ray Spex, the Dave Clark Five of the New Wave, belting out their cheeky “Oh Bondage Up Yours.” The bonus Punk Documentary That Almost Never Was featurette (actually, it’s longer than the main attraction!) is absolutely Required Viewing as well, if only to discover the hidden connection between p-u-n-k and High Times Magazine, followed by – wait for it! – vintage footage of Barbara Walters interviewing Malcolm McLaren.  

 

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Fantastic Plastic
(Sonic Kicks/Severn Records)

Technically a 2017 release, which didn’t arrive at the sty til early oh-18… but it’s still not a minute too late to miss! Jumpin’ just like the Groovies we all know and will always love, right off the bat “What The Hell’s Goin’ On” shakes solid not-so-slow death, maximum mid-range on each and every guitar with the rhythm a compressed Wall of Deep Sound. Even when riding NRBQ’s “I Want You Bad,” or their ol’ Bay Area Beau Brummel pals’ “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” the impressively intact C. Wilson/C. Jordan vocals most notably retain a sense of substance and style which has punctuated this band for (how can it possibly be?!!) fifty-plus years and counting. Sure, while the retro MAD Jack Davis/Beatles ’65 packaging may well point direct towards the Larry Williams bass beneath “Crazy Macy,” the “Street Fighting Man” licking “Let Me Rock,” and the wonderfully Flamin’ Springfield “She Loves Me” – to say nothing of the big beat ballads “Lonely Hearts” and “I’d Rather Spend My Time With You,” Fantastic Plastic bends, not buckles with the undeniable durability and strength of the Flamin’ Groovies …NOW.

 

THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE
Electric Ladyland
(Legacy Recordings)

As the boomers – or at least their hearing – slowly but surely all f-f-fade away, what remains of the recorded music industry scramble to squeeze the last remaining blood off the tracks of warehoused catalog items prior to shuffling them permanently out to audio pasture. Hence the ongoing onslaught of Deluxe Remastered Super 50th Anniversary Numbered Limited Special Signed Commemorative Collectors Editions of each and everything from that White Album to Big Green Village Pink on down. But! One such big bonus Yule box deserves a fate much better than play-once-stick-up-on-some-shelf; in fact, its contents have aged not one note since first appearing upon countless turntables a half-century ago. Produced and directed in true cinematic fashion by Jimi alongside studio savant Eddie Kramer, a 2018/19 visit to Ladyland is every bit as mind-boggling and, yes, ear-shattering as it was circa ’68. And its Electric extras, including demos, out-takes, grungerful Hollywood Bowl concert plus expanded Making of Electric Ladyland Blu-ray only serve to enhance and enlighten this bona fide classic. Why, even its original Jimi-approved (but never used) front cover has been reinstated: another example of how this is one 50th Anniversary done entirely right.

JOHN & YOKO
Imagine / Gimme Some Truth
(Eagle Rock Entertainment)

And! Not to be one-upped by that above-mentioned White anniversary, the Lennon quarter of our forever Fab equation is more than fairly represented by these 152 (!) minutes of gorgeously upgraded sight and sound, centered on and around the recording of his most popular-ever long-player. The original 1972 Imagine film – the world’s first “video album” as it turns out – is still a joy to behold, guest-starring Dick Cavett, Jack Palance, George Harrison and, ever the debonair perfectionist, Fred Astaire …though it’s still not entirely clear who that man and/or woman wandering around London in a black bag is. 1999’s Gimme Some Truth: The Making of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ Album is just that; to watch things getting, um, testy as Phil Spector tries voicing his high “Oh Yoko!” harmony in the Lennons’ right-by-the-kitchen Ascot Sound Studio is, as Yoko says, “home cookin’.” Self-indulgent, ultra-big-budget glorified home movies, you say? Well, I say Where else are you going to be able to watch Miles Davis shooting hoops with John Lennon as Andy Warhol skulks in the shadows with Jack Nicholson, shooting off Polaroids?!

 

CHRIS RICHARDS AND THE SUBTRACTIONS
Peaks and Valleys
(Futureman Records)

Barely a minute into this disc and we’re already thoroughly, willingly submerged by every single Vox-happy, ooooh-ahh’ing, tom-tom’d beat; long a specialty of Chris’, but the first we’ve heard from this incarnation of his since 2012’s Get Yer La La’s Out. And now with Andy Reed – yes, he of Bay City’s Reed Recording facility – on board, the musical team is complete, and completely compatible. Andy’s keyboards, be they a Wing-y Moog on the “Weekend,” dash of Mellotron (“The Coast Is Clear”) or strings “Wrapped In A Riddle” color but never overwhelm he and Chris’ angular axes and luscious vocals. Yes, those vocals! Meanwhile, “Maybe That’s All” is the BEST track Cheap Trick hasn’t cut …yet, and “Call Me Out” stars guitar lines worthy of, dare I compare, ex-Mac Lindsey. But it’s throughout the four infallible minutes of “In A Sense” all of these Subtractions’, er, pluses ring finest as Larry Grodsky’s drums pitch against, then wash amongst the 6-strings, Todd Holmes’ lock-step bass, and (speaking of Bay City again) wholly Roller-worthy backing choral. Bonus Points are due too towards Chilton/Bell’s “Thirteen”: it takes a big band to tackle Big Star, but it’s just one of many many peaks Chris has hit herein. As he regularly does.     

SEX CLARK FIVE
Mrs. Von Braun You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter
(Records to Russia)

Four songs, Seven inches, Nine minutes: my still favorite strum ‘n’ drummers from Alabama offer vinyl obsessives ample reason to heave their latest too-big-stickered Record Store Day hauls off the turntable, making way for something altogether groove-ier. Track-by-lovely-track then, the final 30 seconds of “Saint Barbara” would not have sounded a tad out of place inside a Saucerful of Secrets or even The Who Sell Out, why “Quasar” wasn’t chosen as The Big Bang Theory theme I’ll never know, cue up “Painting” if you ever wondered what Del Shannon (!) produced by Joe Meek (!!) would’ve sounded like, and “Paper Rock Saber” takes a mere three-minutes-five to flawlessly encapsulate those first four Doors albums …with Sexier lyrics and vocals, it should go without singing. Which reminds me: Their grand new Live! album (SC5 in NYC for CMJ on 11/1/91) should be grabbed ASAP as well. “A typically out of control show,” in their own wide words.

 

LANE STEINBERG
Lane Steinberg & His Magical Pony
(Lane Steinberg)

Leave it to Lane to again provide me with just about the fun-nest, most rewarding forty minutes I’ve spent (after taxes) all year. This time ’round and ’round however, the man is joined by a stellar assortment of fellow DIY-at-home writers and players: R. Stevie Moore, Irwin Chusid, the remarkable David Grahame and, for a splendidly understated little trio of Broadway-bound trinkets, the piano of Tot Taylor. One screen over, “You’re Not Connected To The Internet” sports a decidedly dial-up sound, “Everyone Thinks I’m Happy Now” rests upon one phenomenal cat indeed, “Crazy As A Shithouse Rat” must certainly be The Title – perhaps even Zeitgeist? – of The Age, and “Another Early Autumn” with perhaps even “Portofino” makes one won-won-wonder why Lane isn’t writing (for starters) Brian Wilson’s next couple of albums. After all is said and sung, I will conclude by saying “Magical” only begins to describe the ever-melodious goings-on in and around this astounding collection …and, come to think of it, this one too.

 

TODD AND JINGYU
Find Me Find You: A Story
(Todd Lerner Music)

Delicate yet disarming, always enchanting yet occasionally striking; purely adjectively speaking this seemingly merry skip down a romantic trail belies the over ten years it took to write and record. For not a solitary word or chord is ever overwrought or self-consciously labored. The piano-focused à la Left Banke Michael Brown/Odessey and Oracle Rod Argent arrangements – which, most cleverly, build and bloom as the album progresses – remain sparse, while often nuanced (the vocals especially). Speaking of which, Jingyu and Todd’s voices mix, match, then will overlap and counterpoint …the better to subtly conjure the musical dialog their dance relates. Then, as in “Everything Is Good,” a simple whistling “da-da-da” can, and does, suffice. Then, a minute later, “Where It Goes” demonstrates a remarkably complex, though again seamlessly tossed-off mastery of time and tempo. Find Me Find You is truly unlike anything I have heard this year; I now hope you hear it soon yourself. P.S.: and, as the couple themselves suggest when cueing up the tracks, “if one listens in order they tell a fully-integrated story on finding romantic love.”    

 

“WHITE LACE AND PROMISES: THE SONGS OF PAUL WILLIAMS”
(Curry Cuts)

For those who may have in 2018 – or, for that matter, 2019 – question the very concept of the “tribute album” (not to mention the compact disc itself), I would suggest even a cursory listen to any of the twenty-three tracks on this downright delight-filled, yes, tribute to iconic songwriter / singer / actor / supreme 70s talkshow guest Paul Williams. Everything about this endeavor, right down to Craig Dorfman’s rock and roll reporting introductory notes reflect much, much love within its labors. As its subject unquestionably deserves. From the Davenports’ “Evergreen” clear through Brandon Schott’s “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday” the material, as challenging as it may be stands not only the test of four decades’ time, but also the approaches, often whimsical yet always respectful, each participant offers. And while several bravely recast, as in “update” I suppose one could say (Cait Brennan’s “Old Fashioned Love Song” and even more so XNYMFO’s “Dangerous Business”) the existing templates, wisely none ever stroll too far from the indelible, impactful originals. Even Sitcom Neighbor, as they take my All Time Fave PW tune “Out In The Country” straight back to America …as in Gerry, Dewey etc. that is. Paul Williams is most deserving of such a talent-heavy nod, of that there can be no doubt. Thankfully, Andrew and all at Curry Cuts have now produced it.         

 

by Gary Pig Gold

 

Categories
Featured Review Reviews and Suggestions

The Rock and Roll Report’s “Best Of” List For 2018

And so ends yet another year. For this writer, a lot of music came into my life. I ended up listening to and reviewing more music than any previous year. The amount of music made it both a lot easier to choose the best albums and harder to choose those albums. It was easier than any previous year to put together the list because of the sheer amount of music to pick through. But because of the amount to pick through, there were several albums that had to be left out of the list. While I had to pass some of the best releases I had heard by, I am rather pleased with the resulting albums and singles that made their way onto this list. I hope you will take the time to read the condensed reviews that follow and then will click on the link to finish reading the entire review. Enjoy. 


1. Bryan Banks “Sound of Urgency”
 

Bryan Banks is one of those musicians who took it upon himself to create his music on his own. When you have a musician who does everything on his own, the results could either be good or bad, depending on the talent of the individual. There is definite talent within the music of Bryan Banks as he seems to take many different flavors of Rock and Roll when creating his music. His music takes some Rock and Roll, Funk, and Grunge with a large hint of Heavy Metal thrown in and mixes all those styles together in the sound that makes up his music. And with the fact that everything on the album was created by Banks himself, the multi-talented musician has created an album of music that ends up being rather well-rounded. His debut album is entitled The Sound of Urgency. The Sound of Urgency from Bryan Banks was put together by Banks one song at a time over the course of several years. And while that time period created a rather long wait between the first single release and the final album packing, Bryan Banks has proved that sometimes it is worth the wait if you’re looking for quality. The Sound of Urgency turns out to be a very solid album of Rock and Roll that any fan of the music style will enjoy.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-bryan-banks-sudden-sounds-urgency/


2 Micah Olsan “Open Space” 

Milwaukee-based singer-songwriter Micah Olsan has gone through several stages in his musical career. And with those stages came different musical influences that helped flavor his music. Throughout his career, Olsan has performed with a band called The Many and he has performed on his own as a solo artist. But with each stage comes a different style and sound to Olsan’s music. And currently, Micah Olsan is in the middle of promoting a new EP of music that features a solo sound and style largely influenced by Folk music. The new 4-song EP from Micah Olsan is entitled Open Space. During his time as a singer-songwriter, Micah Olsan keeps evolving and changing his style. With his latest folk-based EP, Olsan takes his music in a much different direction than it’s ever been in before. And the softer, gentler side of Olsan shows off a very different side of the artist. The five tracks on the album are nicely varied while keeping that lighter approach on the music. 

https://matheson12.wordpress.com/2018/01/26/cd-review-micah-olsan-open-space/

 

3 The James Emmett Band “Bet Against Me” 

Ever since the band The Outsiders had their first taste of celebrity status when they released the song “Time Won’t Let Me,” the last name of Geraci has meant something in the city of Cleveland as Emmett Peter “Sonny” Geraci was part of that band. And although Sonny Geraci passed away back in early February of 2017, the name is still being mentioned in association with music in Greater Cleveland. But this time, it’s the next generation of the family that is making the noise, so to speak.
Sonny Geraci’s sons Justin James and Mathew Emmett have picked up the music bug and are currently making music just like their father used to do. In fact, they have been creating their own music for years. However, it’s just recently that the two brothers have been doing so together. And together, the brothers have created their own band; a band that features their middle names to form the band’s moniker. The group is called The James Emmett Band. As sons of Rock and Roller Sonny Geraci, Justin James Geraci and Mathew Emmett Geraci have created a band that proves that they have, indeed, inherited the music gene from their father. Bet Against Me from their band The James Emmett Band is a solid effort that comes complete with five songs that show off their various musical influences. The release features plenty of tracks that are just screaming to be played on the radio. If a five-song release is this good, then a full-length is surely welcomed.   

 

4 Falling Stars “Stranded in the Future” 

In Cleveland, there are many artists and bands that have been making names for themselves for years. One band that just recently came into being has a history in the Greater Cleveland area that reaches back years before it came into being. Together, two separate songwriters based in Cleveland named Chris Allen and Tim Parnin’s musical histories combine for more than 40 years of experience. That experience was put to good use when the two musicians decided to create a new band together. The resulting musical outfit featuring Chris Allen and Tim Parnin is called Falling Stars. Throughout the tracks that make up the album Stranded in the Future from Falling Stars, Chris Allen and Tim Parnin create songs that feature different Rock and Roll styles. Together, those various styles of Rock and Roll combine to create one release that feels ultimately timeless. The resulting release of Stranded in the Future from Falling Stars is one album that any love of Rock and Roll should search out and add to their music collection.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-falling-stars-stranded-future/ 

5 Stone Diamond “Don’t Believe What You Think”  

It was back in 2013 that Stone Diamond released their debut album entitled We Stole the Stars from the Black NightThat particular album was so strong and was such a breath of fresh air as far as Rock and Roll was concerned that it made quite an impression on those who were lucky enough to have been exposed to it. They would then go on to add the album Phoenix to their discography. Now, five years after the release of the original album, the ensemble (now a little larger than before) returns with their third album. That album is entitled Don’t Believe What You Think. The Don’t Believe What You Think release from Stone Diamond is a solid release from beginning to end. And with the inclusion of many different elements and influences, the Classic Rock from the band changes from one track to the next. For those music lovers who enjoy Classic Rock, Stone Diamond creates a release that will surely be something you’d want to experience first and then add to your own music library.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-stone-diamond-dont-believe-think/

6A The Whiskey Hollow “Greenhouse”  

Back in 2016, singer-songwriter Madeline Finn took songs she had been writing, and after putting together a band, started performing under the moniker of The Whiskey Hollow. With that loosely-bound group of musicians, she took seven of her songs and created a very strong debut release under The Whiskey Hollow moniker. That release was called X Waters. X Waters was a very solid release that found the group blending together a few different genres of music to create a unique sound that put Finn and her band far apart from the rest of the Cleveland, Ohio music scene. Today’s version of The Whiskey Hollow has recently put out a new EP of material. While the previous release contained a total of seven tracks, this new EP is a six-track EP. The new EP from Cleveland’s band The Whiskey Hollow is entitled Greenhouse. Greenhouse from The Whiskey Hollow is a solid release from the first track. While it does not truly feel like the band’s previous release of X Waters, the new EP from the band shows the creative process at work as Madeline Finn and the rest of the band show how they have gelled as a unit. The new sound for the band may be different than the previous direction, but the group is still solid and the Greenhouse EP proves that with the six tracks of Rock and Roll.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-whiskey-hollow-greenhouse/

6B Madeline Finn “Colerain Mansion” 

From the first time when I was in the audience for a three-song performance of Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Madeline Finn, I knew that the singer/guitarist had talent. She would release her first CD entitled X Waters not that long after that performance. X Waters and the follow-up entitled Greenhouse show off not only her musical abilities, but also the abilities of those musicians who helped to create the band The Whiskey Hollow. It was The Whiskey Hollow that was responsible for creating the music found on the two EPs of music. And with X Waters and Greenhouse, the Greater Cleveland area would come to know the true talent of the musical artist known as Madeline Finn. The Colerain Mansion EP from Madeline Finn continues the singer-songwriter’s string of releases that show off her musical abilities and her talent as a singer-songwriter, as well. While the previous releases of X Waters and Greenhouse gave the listener a good idea of what Finn could do with a band, the six tracks that make up the release show what she can do on her own. But as those of us who have seen her perform within a group and by herself can tell you, that’s not a surprise. The Colerain Mansion EP from Madeline Finn may be the most laidback of the three releases she has created, but the music contained within it will easily leave you stunned by the beauty it contains.

 http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-madeline-finn-colerain-mansion/

7 Joal Rush “Kaleidoscope Emotions” 

It was back in 2004 that singer-songwriter Joal Rush released his first EP. That EP, entitled Delightful Things, introduced the world to a musician whose straight-out Rock and Roll sound was very reminiscent to that of Jack Johnson. And given that the two artists create their songs using several different genres of music as influences such as Folk, Pop, Rock and Soul, it is a safe comparison to be made when describing the sound of Joal Rush. Almost fifteen years later, Joal Rush has been through a lot, including moving from Charleston, South Carolina to Music City, Nashville, Tennessee where he currently lives. And within that city, Rush created his latest album of music. The current release from Joal Rush is a twelve-song release entitled Kaleidoscope Emotions. While there are many people in the music industry being played on the radio today who deserved to be signed to a major label, there are just as many out there right now who are not signed to a major label and deserve to be. One such artist who deserves to be on a major label is Joal Rush. And his newest album entitled Kaleidoscope Emotions proves that point rather well.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-joal-rush-kaleidoscope-emotions/

8 Sister Speak “The Stand” 

Sherri Anne was born in Canada but currently splits her time between The United States and Canada in Los Angeles and British Columbia. The singer-songwriter has a voice and a style to her songs that bring to mind artists like Tori Amos and most obviously, Sarah McLachlin because of the style of both artists’ vocal sound. Given the piano or acoustic guitar nature to her songs, Sherri Anne’s music has a Folk flavor to it with a slight Alternative Rock flavor. Recently, Sherri Anne created a new six-song release under the moniker of Sister Speak. That release is called The Stand. To bring the EP to life, she was joined by Sarven Manguiat (Electric Guitar) and Avli Avliav (keys, moog bass and programming) along with several others who added touches to several tunes on the release. Starting from the very beginning track, Sister Speak’s The Stand EP hits the listener with Pop-rock music that is sure to satisfy. The five “album tracks” and the bonus track that completes the release combine to create a pop-rock release that feels so solid that each of the songs contained within should be allowed to find their way onto radio on their own merits. As it is though, the lead-off single of the title track of the release is a great place to begin. Hopefully, more tracks will be featured. Through it all, Sherri Anne and the rest of the musicians who helped to create the release under the Sister Speak moniker combined their efforts to make a solid debut that should be only the beginning of something special.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-sister-speak-stand/

9 Jann Klose “In Tandem”

Jann Klose is an internationally known singer-songwriter. The German-born artist discovered the world at a young age when he came to the United States as a young child as part of a foreign exchange program. It was in the city of Cleveland, Ohio that he discovered what another part of the world was like. And while in Cleveland, he also discovered and nurtured the musical side of his personality. But after a while, that musical side needed more than what Cleveland could offered and he made his way to New York City where he resides today.During his time as a musician as well as singer-songwriter, Jann Klose has created and released several EPs and albums of music that feature his musical blend that incorporates jazz, pop, and other musical styles. That blended style creates a sound that has helped him gain an audience not only in Cleveland, New York and Germany as a whole, but also in other parts of the world. Because of that, his music is and has always been well-rounded as far as its sound and appeal. You can find that well-rounded sound on Jann Klose’s aforementioned releases, which includes his latest album. The newest album from Jann Klose is entitled In Tandem. The In Tandem album from Jann Klose is a strong release with many moments in its thirteen tracks that fans of pop-rock will find very enticing. If you are one who enjoys Rock and Roll with a strong Pop influence as well as and international flair to the songs, Jann Klose’s In Tandem is the album for you.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-jann-klose-tandem/

10 The Weight Band “World Gone Mad”

Having created a band around musicians that spent time within The Band and The Levon Helm Band as well as The Midnight Ramble Band, a musical outfit put together as a Tribute Band of sorts to Helm, it should come as no surprise that the resulting sound that is created by The Weight Band can be described as being “picking up where The Band left off”. That truly does describe the sound and feel of World Gone Mad, the first official album from the supergroup. After spending a few years on the road touring, The Weight Band released their first album. That album is entitled World Gone Mad. And “picking up where The Band left off” is quite possibly the best way of describing the feel of the album. On their new album entitled World Gone Mad, the individual members of The Weight Band each show off their individual influences. And since many of the players in the band can claim to have played with The Band’s Levon Helm in one band or another, it is easy to see why the influence from Helm has made such an impression on the music of The Weight Band. And with that being said, if you have ever been a fan of the music from The Band, this collection of songs from musicians who used to play with him in one manner or another help to expand upon what has come before. While this is not a tribute album in any way, the influence from Helm is more than apparent.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-weight-band-world-gone-mad/

11 The Alarm “Equals”

Every so often there comes a band that should be a lot larger popularity-wise than they are. This is a band that has been around a long time but has not gained the popularity they truly deserve. One particular band out there right now that could be described this is the Welsh Rock and Roll band called The Alarm.In total, The Alarm has released in excess of fifteen albums. They have also released several versions of a Greatest Hits collection from the band that adds to the number of releases in the band’s discography. In fact, the band just recently added yet another album to their impressive discography of music. The newest album from The Alarm is entitled Equals. Mike Peters has really picked up a lot of different musical influences over the years. Those influences have helped to shape Equals from The Alarm. The ever-changing sound and feel of each of the tracks as well as the talents from the rest of the band have combined to create a release that features a musical sound that never really stays in one place. That ever-changing style on the album is sure to please any lover of Rock and Roll music.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-alarm-equals/

12 Pale Hollow “Pilots”

When Michael Allen took his music, he looked for musicians who wanted to form a new band. What resulted was a musical outfit by the name of Black Amps, which would exist for a while before changing their name to Pale Hollow and in 2007; a self-titled album was released under the Pale Hollow moniker. That self-titled release from Pale Hollow saw the band create a sound that combined elements of The Kinks, The Verve and many other British influences as well as American bands such as The Byrds, The Verve Pipe, even The Raspberries into one sound. Because of the various different elements, what resulted was a sound that was very retro in nature. But that retro feel to the band’s Americana music ended up allowing the band to gain a rather large following within the Greater Cleveland area. Years would pass after the band’s first release. The band would change members during that time. And the band would change the feel of its music just a little because of the shifting of the band members. The current version of Pale Hollow includes: Michael Allen – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar, Kirk “Nemo” Nemerovsky – Drums, Jeff Ritchie – Bass, and Scott Steinbrick – Lead Guitar. It is this lineup that is featured on the newly-released second album from Pale Hollow. That second release is entitled Pilots. For those who enjoy a more relaxed feel to their Rock and Roll while also enjoy having some orchestral flavor to that music, the sound of Cleveland, Ohio’s Pale Hollow may just be what you are looking for. The band’s 2018 release of Pilots is one of the most commercial albums that are not available from a major label. It’s also one of the strongest albums of 2018. If you happen to be a fan over rather commercial Rock and Roll but are tired of the same bands on commercial radio, Pale Hollow and the band’s 2018 release of Pilots may just be what you are looking for.  

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-pale-hollow-pilots/

 

TOP SINGLES OF 2018

1 Reina Mora “Passenger” 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TuJeFZjYhI

 

2 Sister Speak “New York Sunrise”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXi7H8KnIEY

 

3 The Alarm “Beautiful” 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgXrHpduUjQ

 

4 Madeline Finn “Win the Girl”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo86u8tcmD0&fbclid=IwAR0di4a6l5mWI-oHyRRAn-hVFbeex6ikCC3lK7qB1ng7l7sOBunL32TlKTU

 

5 Jann Klose “Love High” 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX6R03ZMEbY 

Bonus Track: 

Jaclyn Bradley Palmer “Winter Night”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0Zs2ua6Gxs

 

 

Categories
Featured Review Rock History

Exit Stencil Recordings Re-releases Two Albums from Cleveland, Ohio’s The Damnation of Adam Blessing

Any mid-sized city or larger has their share of bands that have left a mark on that area’s music scene. And Cleveland, Ohio is one such city that has had its share of really good bands. And while there are some bands within the city’s music scene today that are making a lot of noise, there will always be those bands that are talked about long after they’re gone. One band that left its mark on the music scene so strongly that people remember them today is the band The Damnation of Adam Blessing.

Having taken their name from a book of fiction written by Vin Packer with the same name, the Cleveland-based Hard Rock band The Damnation of Adam Blessing ended up being grouped together with bands like Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper and other bands that are now classified as Classic Rock. And just like both Tull and Cooper, the moniker of The Damnation of Adam Blessing would later be considered the name of the lead singer, a role that the band’s singer, Bill Constable, would gladly take up.

And as Adam Blessing, Constable would lead the band through its historic time as a group. Along with Bill Constable on lead vocals, the rest of the band consisted of Bob Kalamasz – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals; Jim Quinn – Rhythm Guitar, Percussion, Electric Pillow, Backing Vocals; Ray Bench – Bass Guitar; Bill Schwark – Drums and Ken Constable- Backing Vocals.

The Damnation of Adam Blessing is one of those bands that should have been a lot bigger than they were, but have gone on to become bands that people still remember, even long after the initial time of the group had come to an end. Because the band has stayed on the minds of people many years after the band came to an end, there have been several reissues of the group’s music. One of the most memorable reissues was the three CD Box Set put out in 2000 from the Italian Record Label Akarma entitled Damnation to Salvation which included the self-titled release from the band, the second album entitled The Second Damnation, and the third release entitled Which is The Justice, Which is the Thief. A fourth album, Glory, was not included in that reissue. The 3-record version of that box set is currently available on Amazon.com for an asking price of almost $100.00. Thankfully, there is something a lot less expensive now available from Exit Stencil Recordings.

In 2018, Cleveland-based record label Exit Stencil Recordings is bringing the music from The Damnation of Adam Blessing back into existence. Available soon will be the1969 Self-Titled album and the 1970 release called The Second Damnation. The vinyl LP reissues will be just like the original issues that were released nearly fifty years ago.

It was with the first album that people got to know The Damnation of Adam Blessing. Right from the first track of “Cookbook,” the band’s self-titled release gives the listener a glimpse into the musical style of the late sixties/early seventies. The album contains such classic tracks such as: “Morning Dew,” a track that helped put the band on the map, musically. The release also contains the song that really brings the feel of that era to life, “Strings and Things”.  One of the more unusual tracks on the album is the band’s classic interpretation of the song “Last Train to Clarksville”. While people are used to the version of the song by The Monkees, The Damnation of Adam Blessing gives the track more of Rhythm & Blues approach to the music. While that version did come after The Monkees, there is no way you can call it a cover as the band put their own spin on it. The album also comes with many other classic tracks.

After the release and success of the self-titled album, The Damnation of Adam Blessing returned with their second album. The band’s second release, entitled The Second Damnation, finds the band creating an album that lives up to the first album. And while the magic of the first album does appear on the band’s second release, The Damnation of Adam Blessing (called simply “Damnation” on this release) incorporated some of the psychedelic influence that was happening at the time into their music. Maybe it was just a natural progression of the band’s sound.  And while there is some of that psychedelic feel to the music, the band does not go overboard with that influence. The Second Damnation includes songs such as “Back to the River,” “Ba-Dup” and “Money Tree” as well as many other classic tracks from the band. 

To go along with the reissues, both of the albums from The Damnation of Adam Blessing now come complete with liner notes describing the band and its music. For those fans of the band that have been waiting for a solid reissue of the music of the band, now is the time to get in line as the record label Exit Stencil Recordings is now taking orders for the reissues that will be released in the near future. Complete details on the reissues can be found on the record label’s website.  If you are new to the music of The Damnation of Adam Blessing, this is the time to become acquainted with the band.

Together, first two albums from The Damnation of Adam Blessing stand as strong as or stronger today as anything that was released on major record labels at the time. And while many bands that were mainly “local heroes” seem to fade away after a while, this group’s legend is as strong today as it’s ever been. Because of that, the label Exit Stencil Recordings will shortly be re-releasing the self-titled release AND The Second Damnation from The Damnation of Adam Blessing. In only a matter of days, the two albums will be available on the label’s website. Stay tuned to the label’s website as well as the band’s Facebook page to stay updated.

To discover (or rediscover, depending) the music of The Damnation of Adam Blessing, check out the first three songs from the band’s 1969 self-titled release.

   

 

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Pigshit: RIDING THE WILD SURF: JAN BERRY and the Birth of West Coast Rock

There’s Brian Wilson and his Beach Boys, most obviously. Then there were Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young, those Eagles, and my own personal favorite Turtles, Byrds, and possibly even Runaways. Not to mention Lindsey Buckingham’s Big Mac. 

Yet whenever the songs and stories of California are sung and strummed, one name – one very important name – is most often left out. A man who, beginning in the late 1950s with a bank of audio equipment in his Bel Air garage actually invented, or at least kick-started, the entire Los Angeles independent rock scene. By writing and performing songs in his home studio which, taken into the Hollywood recording studios proper were meticulously crafted into bona fide hit records back when young Wilsons, for example, were still mowing Hawthorne lawns for extra root beer money. 

The man I speak of is William Jan Berry; a singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, actor, promoter best remembered as one half of that certifiably zany, albeit boldly pioneering SoCal rock duo Jan & Dean.

By adding their Pacific-blonde good looks to East Coast doo-wop hooks, the records Jan and highschool pal Dean O. Torrence made not only formed the vocal template for all surf-rock to come (starting right from the start with the “bom, bomp dip-de-dit”s of that very first Beach Boy song) but in their production employed various members of what came to be known as the Wrecking Crew when Jan’s sessions outgrew his garage and moved into Western, United, and the other fabled studios Phil Spector, most notably, would later erect his Walls of Sound within.

Yes: but before Phil, there was Jan. And before “I Get Around,” “Good Vibrations” and [gulp!] “Kokomo” there was a sun-kissed little classic called “Surf City” which, with Jan’s assistance, gave co-writer B. Wilson his very first Number One record back in the Summer of ’63.     

The string of hits Jan went on to write and produce throughout the mid-Sixties, with their double-drumming attack welded to lush orchestrations were, and remain, just about the best records ever to come out of El Lay. Credit for innovations both technical and musical which continue to go Spector’s and Wilson’s way – with the latter’s Pet Sounds most often cited – again are more than evident in Jan Berry records from years earlier. Most unfortunately however, an utterly debilitating road accident in April of 1966 (eerily like the plot of J&D’s “Dead Man’s Curve”) kept Jan out of peak action for much of the rest of his life and career. Although brought back to the public’s attention via a 1978 made-for-TV biopic, the titanic twosome’s hit-making days never returned, though they continued to keep countless thousands of concert-goers throughout America well-versed beneath waves of harmonious California Myth until Jan’s death in 2004.

Thankfully, one man above all is helping keep Jan Berry’s life and legacy, both on record and off, alive and well:  Mark A. Moore’s landmark Jan & Dean Record remains the reference book on this subject, in the process recounting the very birth and growth of the Los Angeles rock industry. Mark began his good work by assembling the much-praised 2008 Encomium In Memoriam tribute, and has now announced plans for a full-length Jan Berry biography.

“It will be a companion to The Jan & Dean Record,” Mark revealed to this Rock and Roll Reporter. “The biographical elements of the first book will be fleshed out for a full length stand-alone monograph. Unlike the previous expensive reference work, the new bio will be offered at a reasonable price.”

Good news indeed, absolutely. And until its arrival, you’re also urged to dive deep into my extensive interview with Mark and all things J&D which appears in Vulcher Magazine. What better way then to recognize, salute, and roundly honor Jan Berry on what would have been – what should have been – his 77th (!) birthday on April 3rd.  

 

 

 

 

 

Read also: 

Gary Pig Gold’s TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2017

 

 

 

 

www.GaryPigGold.com

 

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Featured Review

Gary Pig Gold Celebrates Mothers Day …50 Years Later

The first Friday of most every month throughout 1967 and into ’68, I was formally excused from school so that my mother could take me all the way into Toronto for orthodontic appointments. As due reward afterwards, I would be treated to a tasty french-fry-and-chocolate-milk lunch in the sumptuous Eaton’s Department Store cafeteria, then left for an hour alone in the adjacent Music Department while dear mom ran her errands elsewhere.

Gawd, I truly was deep in pre-teen heaven in there, believe you me: Guitars – just like the one Tommy Smothers played on TV every week! – lining each wall, while right over there were more record albums gathered alphabetically together in one place than my wide young eyes had ever ever seen. 

But it was while methodically flipping through that “Misc. M” bin one innocent Friday in search of the latest Monkees long-player that I came across an image which shook me to the very core of my hitherto safe, sound, Micky’n’Mike-loving spine:

A foreboding, dark purple sci-fi sky shot through with lightning bolts, beneath which were strewn an above-motley crew of comic-book cut-outs (some of whose eyes were obscured with sinister black bars!) And in front of all that stood what appeared to be a group of bearded, ugly, definitely NON-Monkee-looking men wearing… wearing dresses and standing by a mess of rotten vegetables which for some reason spelled out the word “mothers.”

Subconsciously at least, I recognized this was sort of, for some reason, like the picture on front of my latest Beatle album. But I also instinctively gathered something BAD was afoot.

So for the next several months, as if revisiting a decaying body rotting in the back woods or the scene of some other such crime, I’d patiently let Dr. Shanks, D.D.S. rip around my mouth, rush with Mom to scarf down some Eaton’s fast-food, then creep back towards those record racks to check if …IT… was still hidden there. Why, one grave Friday I even showed the offending, but somehow alluring record jacket to my mother (who, immediately sensing things untoward indeed, said “put that down, Gary. We’re going home.”)

Flash forward a couple’a years:  By now, my comparatively straight teeth and I were enrolled in the local high school, specializing in Fine Arts and pouring over my latest charcoal still-life when the most incredible music suddenly burst from the record player at the back of the room. It was Eric Shelkey’s turn to bring vinyl in to accompany the day’s lesson y’see, and Eric, being by far the most freeeky, out-there student in all our Grade 9 Specialty Art class (I mean, the guy wore little round eyeglasses just like John Lennon, and his hair actually reached below his shirt collar!) certainly did not disappoint with his choice of music. Yep, instead of the usual docile strains of Tommy Roe or, at worst, Blood Sweat and Tears, the room was this morning filled with fully-stereophonic snorks, wheezes, electronic noises (much like those the microphone made in the auditorium downstairs when it wasn’t working), and some creepy voice which kept whispering “Are you hung up?” over and over again.

Understandably I suppose, just like my mother had back in Eaton’s music department, our usually pretty patient art instructor Mr. Pollard walked quickly to the back of the classroom, turned the volume all the way down, removed the offending twelve inches from the turntable, inserted it back in its sleeve, and told Eric he could pick his record up after class, thankyouverymuchnowpleasegetbacktoworkeveryone. Of course, me being me, I made sure to follow Eric out into the hall afterwards to find out the name labeled onto the middle of this wondrous, forbidden twelve inches. Most obligingly indeed, but being careful to check both ways first to see if anyone was looking, he pulled the album slowly from his portfolio case.

AND THERE IT WAS. That same diabolical image which had haunted my post-orthodontic Fridays all those years ago! 

Winking most conspiratorially, Eric invited me over to his place to listen to the entire record that day immediately after school. I naturally began saving up my allowance and bought my OWN copy a couple of months later, locked myself in my room… and it would be quite some time until I ever listened to Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd. – or anything else, for that matter – quite the same way ever again.

I couldn’t say it then, but I surely will now:  Thank you, Frank Zappa. Especially for your music. Especially for that one particular album released a full half-century (!) ago this very month.

 

 

 

 

www.GaryPigGold.com
 

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Gary Pig Gold’s TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2017

Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie released a new CD – together!, Chuck Berry released his last CD, and Jan & Dean’s REAL Filet of Soul finally arrived …after a quite, well, fishy 52-year delay. Nevertheless, I still found ten more vintage-2017 gems to recommend to each and everyone. In, as always, strictly alphabetical order they are: 

 

 

 

THE BEACH BOYS
Sunshine Tomorrow
(Capitol Records)

Conventional misinformation always had it that, soon after Brian Wilson lost his great big SMiLE in 1967, he retreated for a decade or so beneath the covers of his Bel Air bedroom. In truth, the Beach Boys simply followed him there, built a studio downstairs, and got straight to work writing and recording several of the finest albums they, or anyone else for that matter, produced as those Sixties slowly turned Seventies. The proof of this fine period of work begins with the two-and-a-half hours (!) of studio and live material from ’67 Sunshine Tomorrow contains, focusing primarily on sessions which begat the Smiley Smile, Wild Honey, and ill-forsaken Lei’d in Hawaii albums. Audio savants Mark Linett and Alan Boyd do their usual stellar job restoring and refining the Boys’ original work …so much so that an additional 138 – I kid you not – tracks from the time, released recently as two digital-only companion compilations, are worth your undivided attention, and frequent listens, as well.  
 

 

 

ALAN CLAYSON AND THE ARGONAUTS
This Cannot Go On…
(Rush Music)

Superlatives such as Legendary, Heroic, Lionhearted, Maverick, Icon(oclast) are being tossed ’round far too indiscriminately these days, but in the case of Alan Clayson, and his Argonauts’ first utterly new album in three decades, they really only tip the sonic iceberg so to speak. For instance? Had songs such as “The Refugees” and “Looking For A Monday” found their way on to any Roxy Music record, I might just have given B. Ferry the time of day after all. Also “Angelette” lolls in precisely the mode of shepherd’s pie balladry Ray Davies once served, “I Hear Voices” may at last be The Great Lost Saucerful of Secrets Bonus Track we’ve all been waiting for, and “Lone Cloud” sends Donovan Leitch scurrying deep into Joni Mitchell’s nearest ice cream castle. Later, Alan’s old chum John Otway adds theremin to “The Local Mister Strange” – get this one over to Simply Saucer asap! – and “If I Lost You” could’ve, would’ve, should have been one big hit single …especially if “Teenage Runaway” ended up on its flipside. Oh! and in the 7-inch dept., could this here “Landwaster” be the same Claysong which appeared on the Argonauts’ Virgin vinyl debut circa 1978?! Somehow stacking perfectly strangely alongside the Sex Clark Five’s latest [see below], maybe Rock ‘n’ Reel Magazine said it best when declaring that, quote, Somewhere there is a parallel universe where Clayson and the Argonauts are (dare I repeat it?) Bigger than the Beatles.

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Live 1971 San Francisco
(RockBeat Records)

For those far from the know, the Flamin’ Groovies were one of “those” bands who may have sold too criminally few records back in their day (1969 through ’79, very roughly) but had, and have, an impact FAR above, and light years beyond rote chart positions or ticket grosses. Proof? Close your eyes, bask in the delightfully semi-fi quality of this vintage fifty-three-fifty and you could be perfectly excused for thinking CBGB circa Son of Sam as opposed to that wascally Bill Graham’s Fillmore in the equally terrifying age of Jethro Tull and Tapestry. Launched with a much-needed wallop of Shepherd’s Bush to the Bay Area via “I Can’t Explain,” our night jumpers take one “Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller” to show Keith R. who the real, as opposed to “New” Barbarians really are, wrest “Shakin’ All Over” clear out of – guess who? – Chad Allan & The Expressions’ grip as, c/o Roy Loney, they “get down with” a touch of pure Vincebus-worthy Cheer …and, speaking of turning air into cottage cheese, flawlessly insert an intermediate seven minutes into “Road House” which bring all new meanings to “raw” and “power,” believe you me. P.S.: At about mid-point Roy introduces “a new song; it’s gonna be on our next album,” and out pours a “Slow Death” which, as it always did and continues to, takes a mere five-and-a-half minutes to exile those Stones, for starters, clean off any main street we’d care to roam. Cap it all with 480 full seconds of “Louie Louie” before the Groovies go “Walkin’ The Dog” clear into proto-punk-power-pop-whatever immortality, and all that’s left to do next is for you to go reach for their new album too. Got it?      


RICK HARPER
debased
(HiVetiver Records)

Hard to believe it’s been over 30 years now since this most esteemed, fully self-contained singer/songwriter/arranger/engineer/producer/multi-multi-instrumentalist first entered this Rock and Roll Reporter’s headphones. And this collection of, according to the liner notes, demos sent to the Library of Congress for copyright protection etc. is a treat even a long-time listener as I wasn’t completely prepared to gulp this year. Right from the proverbial get-go (Track 01: “I Just Wasted Another Day”) Rick’s turn of phrase, to say nothing of chords, twist and turn yet still always excite and astound. Yes, this is one disciple who spent more than his fair time beneath all the latest Capitol and Columbia releases back in the day. The subtle yet superb moves upon the mixing board – on that Master Volume during “I Sank” for example – matched with the typically, ultimately triumphantly Harper rear-view of life (“You Sold The Harp”) and lust turned to rust (“It Was All Wonderful”) keeps far more than the ear engaged. Then there’s “But It Never Did”: rarely has derailing sounded quite so, um, on track. And the concluding “The Dane” honestly just has to be heard …nay, READ to be fathomed. So! Far from wasting any days, as 01 may claim, debased shows Rick not only maintaining his standards, but remaining in the process as prolific and prodigious in 2017 as he was back circa 1987. And, I should know.  


CURTIS KNIGHT Featuring JIMI HENDRIX 
Live At George’s Club 20 (1965 & 1966)
(Dagger Records)

“I’d like to let everyone know that this is being recorded live here at the fabulous George’s Club 20,” frontperson Curtis Knight claims right off the bat (“Fabulous??” laughs his guitarist “Pretty Boy Jimmy James”). And “This,” says the accompanying booklet, “is what Chas Chandler heard when he first encountered Jimmy James in the summer of ’66.” Now, a half century later, we hear a curious but most enjoyable – at times even illuminating – glimpse into the audio closet of a bona fide pioneer honing his craft …in what I’m sure all involved thought at the time was the privacy and security of Hackensack, New Jersey. Sure, there’s de rigueur slops across “Land Of 1000 Dances” then, with the bassist a full half-step sharp (!) for the first 30 seconds, “What’d I Say” (though Jimi manages some “fabulous” variations upon Uncle Ray’s lyrics here and then there); meanwhile Curtis, on “I’ll Be Doggone” and especially “Ain’t That Peculiar” demonstrates he’s certainly no Marvin Gaye. But what salvages it all, and then some is, not surprisingly, Jimi’s six strings. “Get Out Of My Life Woman” absolutely hints at the style, substance, and majesty the world would soon, er, Experience in a little over a year, while “I’m A Man” and “Driving South” together provide a fiery, downright savage eleven minutes that makes this trip back to Hackensack wholly worth it. “Eat that guitar,” Curtis cries at one point. “He’s doin’ it with his teeth, y’all. Eat It! EAT IT!” He does. And it’s spectacular


RICHARD X. HEYMAN
Incognito
(Turn-Up Records)

If the names, songs, and/or sounds of Terry Melcher, Michael Brown, Emitt Rhodes, Bernard Webb, Steve Lillywhite, Phil Seymour, Ron Flynt, C. J. Ramone, Dino Danelli, either Pernice Brother, “Guitar Keith” Allison, Richard Manuel, Ben Gibbard, Jimmy Greenspoon, Eddie Kramer, Sufjan Stevens, even Phil Ochs mean anything whatsoever to you or your record collection here in 2018, you would be more than well advised to immediately sort one-man-wonder Richard X. Heyman’s 12th (!) release into this lofty company without question or hesitation. Period. It’s truthfully no surprise to these here ears that, just as on his previous eleven albums, the playing on Incognito – all by Richard, practically all by himself – is measured yet spirited, the arrangements, both instrumental and vocal, even more so (nice to hear those acoustics, Richard!), and the melodies… the melodies! Just check again some of those synonymous names I dropped above to give you but an inkling of what’s been thoroughly achieved on this disc, and the levels to which it, and Richard, without doubt belong. Exclamation point!      

 

 

ROLLING STONES
Sticky Fingers: Live At The Fonda Theatre 2015
(Eagle Rock Entertainment)

For those still making Strolling Bones, Steel Wheelchairs and/or World’s Oldest Rock and Roll Band jokes I could occasionally – occasionally, that is – empathize while watching the DVD portion of this concert package …particularly as the groove flops then flats out altogether during “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”: won’t you come home, Bill Wyman! And while we’re on the subject of ex’s, Mick Taylor’s guitar could have resuscitated “You Gotta Move” and “Wild Horses” within two or three bars. But enough of my yakkin’. “All Down The Line” and “Bitch” could be performed as heartily by NO other septuagenarians within my reach, I never thought I’d live to see these Stones entice “Sister Morphine” out of bed, and about that other Mick you say? Straight after warning the Fonda Theatre the band’s about to play us Sticky Fingers “in the order of the 8-track tape” (then teasing, or perhaps threatening, to bring Satanic Majesties on stage as well one of these anniversaries) he launches into a quite solid hour of leaps, bounds, sweeps and, yes, sways – vocal and otherwise – that are a true miracle to behold. The man has still gee-oh-tee eye-tee, I swear. Yet I must also quibble at the way the black-and-white faux-backstage interview clips are ruthlessly razored in to, and haphazardly amongst the concert footage itself: there’s a reason someone invented the Bonus Menu, you know. But stick squarely with the audio-only disc of this fine From The Vault edition and I’ll be sure to meet you all back here in time to review Black and Blue: Live 2025.           

   
SEX CLARK FIVE
Ghost Brigade
(Records to Russia)

In the grand tradition of Chad & Jeremy’s “Progress Suite,” or perhaps even that first Nirvana’s Story of Simon Simopath, my forever favorite band from Huntsville, AL have, utilizing seven primary characters – including God, a cavalry troop, World War I soldiers plus various vandals and mercenaries – plus 23 songs, and all in a record 46-minutes-13 produced not a Rock… gawd, no… but a genuine Strum and Drum opera! Most likely the world’s first, in fact. With music as if Joe Meek had heard an even newer world, and in the concluding forty seconds of “Christmas Truce” a soaring, divine, altogether heavenly choral I do hope to hear piping out of each and every shopping mall come Xmastime 2018 forward, Ghost Brigade is now destined to spend far more time occupying my better senses than, say, that great big 50th Anniversary Pepper boxtravaganza. Why, my Brigade even came equipped with a full-color 16-page libretto! As Sex Clark James Butler explains, “It has a hero, a heroine, a good guy and a bad guy, love denied and love conquering all. What more could anybody want?” To which co-SC5 Rick Storey helpfully adds “It even has a plot, I think.” 

 

SQUIRES OF THE SUBTERRAIN
Slightly Radio Active
(Rocket Racket Records)

Barely a year has crept by since, hmm, could it really be 1998 that a Christopher Earl creation hasn’t lodged for many an hour upon the ol’ Pig Player, be he solo or in total cahoots with other wild wonders (e.g.: Big Boy Pete or even Hank Hardwood!) Because there’s always so much in each release to hear, be buoyed along with and, yes, marvel at you see. “What Was That” you ask? Well, this disc’s very first 30 seconds say, and set it, all. Up. Dueling riffery and oh, those ahh’s. By a minute-thirty we’ve added trashy Trashmen drums and Entwistle-y trumpets, only to be sprinkled with some swarmandal and loopy Linda McCartney moogery. Nice looonnnng fade, too. Elsewhere, “The Last Rose (Of The Season)” may at first glance plant an XTC in its pear tree while “Letters To Heaven” arrive via the far-Left Banke, “Fireworks In Her Eyes” ends our wait for that fourth – or was it fifth? – Buffalo Springfield long-player and “Around The World (Of Hurt) In 80 Days” sports an actual five syllable lyric. And why “Eventide” didn’t feature beneath the credits of some seventh season Mad Men episode I’ll NEVER know. Yep, Mr. Earl, after all these years, definitely remains my main Squire. Become Slightly Radio Active yourself and make him yours.

 

“TO LOVE SOMEBODY:
THE SONGS OF THE BEE GEES 1966-1970”
(Ace Records)

One of the great joys of the post-mixtape age – even though we had to scale down from 90 magnetic to 80 digital minutes – was the speed and ease with which compilation discs could suddenly be burned. Choose > Copy > Export > Paste > Save! But heading 2017’s list of Damn! Why Didn’t I Think Of Making That?? comps must surely be this remarkable collection of early Brothers Gibb covers, running good gamuts from soul (Percy Sledge’s “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You”) to ska (Pat Kelly: “I Started A Joke”); from the spicks (Los Bravos’ “Like Nobody Else”) clear through, so to speak, the specks (the dark side of Goon Moon’s “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man”!) Not to mention April Byron, the Liz Taylor of Australia I’m told, and her extreme fantastic rarity “He’s a Thief”: quite possibly my Record of the Year …or of 1966 even. Expertly assembled and annotated by Ace’s own Tony Berrington, To Love Somebody proves, as few elsewhere ever could or have, the abundant treasures still to be found in even the first five years of Barry, Robin and Maurice’s vast, exceptional compositional canon. Which, come to think of it, gives me hope there’s still more April Byron records out there left to track down too. Excuse me then…

 

Gary Pig Gold 
www.GaryPigGold.com

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Matheson Kamin’s Best of 2017 List

BEST OF THE ROCK AND ROLL REPORT FOR 2017

1 CD Review: Count’s 77 “Soul Transfusion”

Sometimes, you have to go far out of your way to find real Rock and Roll music these days. Thankfully, there are still those musicians out there that are keeping the feeling of real Rock and roll alive. You just have to know where to look for it. One band that is keeping the spirit of real Rock and Roll alive is Las Vegas-based band Count’s 77. Like the band’s name suggests, Count’s 77 is a Hard Rock band that focuses their musical energy on creating real Rock and Roll. Throughout their album of Soul Transfusion, Count’s 77 makes good use of musical influences that are both modern and a little bit older. The album contains plenty of songs that will end up satisfying and Rock and Roll lover’s need for Good Ole Rock and Roll.   

Read the entire review HERE

2 CD Review: Satellite Gods “Marker 7-58”

Australian singer-songwriter Brendan McMahon found his calling in his early teenage years as he started to listen to bands like Led Zeppelin, KISS and Black Sabbath and discovered he wanted to make music just like those bands and others. After taking time to develop his craft as a musician while being part of several cover bands, McMahon found his own voice and started creating his own songs. Most recently, McMahon has put together a band of his own called the Satellite Gods. Together with this group of musicians, McMahon has released the band’s second album entitled Marker 7-58. Throughout the thirteen tracks that make up the newest release from Satellite Gods called Marker 7-58, Brendan McMahon and the rest of the band creates song after song that make for a very strong and solid album. This is the type of release that should simply be experienced from beginning to end without skipping tracks.

Read the entire review HERE

2B CD Review: Brendan McMahonUniversalist

Brendan McMahon put out his last release entitled Marker 7-58 under the moniker of his band Satellite Gods. One year later, McMahon has included a track by that title in his new release that was put out under his name. Brendan McMahon’s new 5-song release is entitled Universalist. When comparing Marker 7-58 (Brendan McMahon’s last release while he was using the moniker Satellite Gods) to his new EP of Universalist, the biggest difference that you can see is that the new release seems to make use of McMahon’s singer-songwriter side much more than the last album. The last release felt more like an album while the new release seems more like a collection of tunes each deserving to be heard. While not altogether sporadic, Universalist feels a lot looser with its musical variety in the styles contained within each of the songs than Marker 7-58 did. While not as solidified as that last release, Universalist is still a solid release as the five songs that are present show off many sided of Brendan McMahon’s songwriter personality.

Read the entire review HERE 

3 CD Review: Remember Jones “Tranquilizer!

New Jersey-based singer-songwriter Anthony D’Amato spent a lot of time on stage. Some of that time on stage was included in the Asbury Park production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch where D’Mato portrayed Hedwig himself. Taking that theatrical experience, which also includes recreating an album from Amy Winehouse live in concert as well as other projects, D’Mato took his experience and created a new persona: Remember Jones. Remember Jones started creating a style that was reminiscent of Las Vegas-type concert experiences. That included an orchestra containing 25 pieces. In fact, the entire experience worked so well that the first album from Remember Jones entitled “Ladies and Gentlemen, Remember Jones!” was created live in concert. And with that album being as big as it was, a new EP was created. The newly-released 5-song EP is entitled Tranquilizer! Tranquilizer! from Anthony D’Mato’s Remember Jones is a short but solid release of five tracks that focus on Soul music while the different styles of the musical genre helps to keep the release fresh throughout the twenty minutes of music. Though rather short, the five tracks on Tranquilizer! make the EP very strong.

Read the entire review HERE

4 CD Review: Mark Bryan “Songs of the Fortnight”

Singer-songwriter Mark Bryan may never be as famous on his own as he had been when he had been part of a band. You see, Bryan was a founding member of a small band called…Hootie and the Blowfish. When the band went its separate ways and Darius Rucker changed directions and goals to enter the world of Country music, Mark Bryan also went for a solo career. But he chose to stay within the Pop-Rock genre that earned his former band its following. Since the band separated Bryan has released three solo albums, having just released the third just recently. The new release from Mark Bryan is entitled Songs of the Fortnight. While it’s been quite a while since Hootie and the Blowfish had been a band, it’s great to know that lead singer Darius Rucker is not the only one from the band that has kept busy since that band ceased to be. The new release of Songs of the Fortnight from Rucker’s ex-bandmate Mark Bryan shows off the talent of the lead guitarist/singer-songwriter. And the various different directions that Bryan takes the music on the release show off the versatility of Bryan.    

Read the entire review HERE

 

5 CD Review: Roadcase Royale “First Things First”

One member of the late, great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Prince’s band the New Power Generation, Liv Warfield has joined up with former Heart founder Nancy Wilson to create the base for a new musical project. The new project the two women are part of is called Roadcase Royale. In every genre of music, you will end up losing talented musicians or bands or both. The thing is to find other talented individuals to fill that void. And while both Prince and the band known as Heart are no longer around, the void left behind from the loss of those entities has been filled rather nicely by the very same people who had a hand in creating the songs made famous by those artists. Nancy Wilson, Liv Warfield and their bandmates have created a new band in Roadcase Royale that is easily as solid as what the two musicians had come out of. Having already made musical history once, Wilson and Warfield are doing it again with Roadcase Royale. It should come as no surprise that this new ensemble truly ROCKS! The band’s new First Things First release that will immediately catch your attention.

Read the entire review HERE

6 CD Review: Stratospheerius “Guilty of Innocence”

When looking for musicians that have the talent to put on a good show, you don’t have to look any further than seven-string violinist Joe Deninzon. Guilt of Innocence from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius finds the band in fine form as they create a new album of music. While the album comes with plenty of Progressive Rock tracks, it’s the other songs containing other styles that help to make the release even more entertaining. If you happen to be a fan of Progressive Rock, the new album of Guilty of Innocence album from Joe Deninzon and the band Stratospheerius is one album you need to check out.   

Read the entire review HERE

7 CD Review: Granicus “Better Days”

It was in the city of Cleveland that Granicus founder and drummer Joe Battaglia brought together a band of four other individual musicians in order to create a Hard Rock band to rival the likes of Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Blue Cheer and other bands that were around at the same time. While the bandmembers of Granicus may have changed over the years, this new version of the band is still out there to burn the place down, musically speaking. Better Days from Granicus is a very solid release from a band that has had an extremely interesting history as a group. While it was not created by the same exact group that ended up getting signed to RCA back in the seventies, this version of the band has done a nice job creating a solid group of songs that create an album that live up to what had come before. Drummer and founder of the band Joe Battaglia should be proud of what has been accomplished on Better Days.

Read the entire review HERE 

8 CD Review: Mickey Hart “RAMU”

For his 2017 album of RAMU (which stands for The Random Access Musical Universe), Mickey Hart created each of the tracks on the album using, as he put it, Pythagorean mono-chord, a series of chords tuned in order to create healing. Each track has the same basic flow and therefore the tracks segue into each other rather well. That helps to make the RAMU album one of the most solid and unified albums released within the year 2017. Throughout the twelve tracks that make up Mickey Hart’s new release of RAMU, he and his band of musicians blend a lot of different musical elements to create a release that changes directions from one track to the next. As the songs change so do the influences used to help shape the music. And while the tracks all have a style of their own, Mickey Hart’s use of his Pythagorean mono-chord gives the album a solid foundation that makes the album feel unified in its musical direction.

Read the entire review HERE

9 CD Review: Daniel Welsh “Extra Stout”

Extra Stout from Daniel Welsh is a solid release from beginning to end. Throughout the six tracks that make up the EP, not one song is a disappointment. In fact, each of the tracks on the release have a very commercial feel to them. While this is an independent release, the EP from Welsh feels as strong as anything a major label could put out. And with Welsh’s former affiliation with Warner Brothers Records, there may be a very good reason for that. If you are a fan of Rock and Roll music that has a timeless feel to it, Extra Stout from Daniel Welsh is a release you need to check out. 

Read the entire review HERE

10 CD Review: Electric Guest “Plural”

Released earlier in 2017, Plural from Electric Guest is an album of music that fits nicely into the Indie Rock category. The duo of Taccone and Compton combine elements of Rock and Roll, Soul, even a little Hip Hop and Reggae together to create the band’s style that is rather laidback in its delivery. But that laidback delivery creates a sound that would fit easily on most Top 40, Adult Contemporary and Hot A/C radio formats. That nearly universal appeal translates into a wide potential audience for the band’s music. The Plural release from Electric Guest is one of those rare albums that features such strong tracks that you simply put the album on and let the release play out. There isn’t one song on the album that brings down the quality of the release. My only complaint is that I had not discovered this album much sooner in the year.

Read the entire review HERE

Top 10 Songs from 2017
1. Andrew Wiscombe “Holding a Ghost”

2. Remember Jones “Tranquilizer”

3. Count’s 77 “Summer of 77”

4. Stephen Covell “Monuments”

5. Mutts “I’ll Be Around”

6. Mark Bryan “If You Saw Her”

7. Brendan McMahon “Saturday Night in Riga”

8. Robbing Johnny “Sylvia”

9. Mickey Hart “Wayward Son”

10. Electric Guest “Dear to Me“

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Featured Review Reviews and Suggestions

Wet Wet Wet celebrates the 30th Anniversary for their “Popped In, Souled Out” album

Long before the internationally-renown British Pop group One Direction ever hit the European music scene, another Pop group was making hit music. Originating from Glasgow, Scotland, Wet Wet Wet was one of the most talented bands in Great Britain from the 1980’s. At a time when America was enjoying music from the likes of Kim Carnes, Salt-n-Pepa and The Art of Noise, Europe also had Wet Wet Wet who was heating up the charts over there.

Having been formed in 1982, Wet Wet Wet made a name for themselves with one of the strongest Soul albums of the year 1987 entitled Popped in, Souled Out. With that album, the band would end up releasing several singles off of the release, which included the song that began their rise to fame- “Wishing I Was Lucky”. Altogether, Popped in, Souled Out would produce four singles for the band: “Wishing I Was Lucky,”  “Sweet Little Mystery”, “Angel Eyes (Home and Away)” and “Temptation”. This release would eventually earn the band its first No. 1 album award.WWW-Popped-In-Souled-Out-Super-Deluxe-30th-Anniversary-Edition-1-1024x888

Since the release of Popped in, Souled Out, the band (which includes: Graeme Clark, Tommy Cunningham, Neil Mitchell, and Marti Pellow, as well as unofficial fifth member Graeme Duffin) has released total seven studio albums, which includes the latest album, 2007’s Timeless. And Wet Wet Wet has continued to produce hit songs. The band has even put out a 2013 album called Step by Step: The Greatest Hits that includes the song “Wishing I was Lucky,” as well as their other No. 1 songs “With a Little Help From My Friends” (1988), the song originally made famous by The Beatles; ‘Goodnight Girl’ (1991); and ‘Love Is All Around’ (1994) (a song that was featured in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral), as well as the rest of the band’s Top 40 singles.

The title Popped in, Souled Out is rather appropriate as the band Wet Wet Wet features a Soul-based sound to their music that is very commercial in its feel. The Soul base of the band’s music on this album is completely soaked in an eighties Pop delivery. The album’s songs like “I Remember,” “Angel Eyes” and “Words of Wisdom” all will take the listener back to the eighties as soon as the album is put on.

Amazingly, thirty years have passed since the initial release of the Popped in, Souled Out album. And like much of the music that had been created at the time, this album now has a timeless feel to it. And to celebrate the anniversary of that thirty-year mark, Wet Wet Wet has announced that they have created a special expanded edition of the Popped in, Souled Out album.

The new 2017 release of the album Popped in, Souled Out from Wet Wet Wet includes a lot more than just the original release. Like many other re-releases, Popped in, Souled Out comes complete in a multi-disc format. This re-release features five separate discs of music from Wet Wet Wet. Popped in, Souled Out from Wet Wet Wet was originally a thirteen-track album that featured twelve studio tracks including the aforementioned “Wishing I Was Lucky,”  “Sweet Little Mystery”, “Angel Eyes (Home and Away)” and “Temptation”. The album also included one live track of the band performing “Wishing I Was Lucky” live at the Wendy May Show. This entire album is included in the new release and still includes that live Wendy May performance.

Along with the original thirteen tracks that made up the original album, the disc containing the initial tracks for the album also includes the tracks “Sweet Little Mystery (Live at Capital Radio),” “HTHDTGT (Live at Capital Radio)” (a track also known as “How the Hell Did They Get There”), “Angel Eyes (Single version),” “Temptation (Single version),” and “Sweet Little Mystery (Single version)”.

For the remaining discs that make up the five CD re-release of Popped in, Souled Out from Wet Wet Wet, Disc Two is entitled THE MEMPHIS SESSIONS WITH BONUS TRACKS and comes complete with eight regular songs and three Bonus tracks, Disc Three is entitled B-SIDES, REMIXES AND A NUMBER 1 and features thirteen tracks of various songs from the band’s recording history, Disc Four is entitled UNRELEASED AND RARITIES and features various tracks from various recording sessions from the band’s past as well as a few remixes that weren’t included on Disc Three. The final disc in the collection for this reissue is not a CD but a DVD featuring performances from Wet, Wet, Wet on BBC Television as well as band promos and a selection called “Snapshots – The Story of Popped In Souled Out”. That DVD is only part of the physical packaging for the album as the actual packaging is a photo album that features photos taken during the recording process of Popped In, Souled Out.

Altogether, the packaging for this 30th anniversary edition for the Popped In, Souled Out album from Wet Wet Wet is rather impressive. And for fans of the band Wet Wet Wet as well as those who have never heard of the band, this rerelease of the album Popped In, Souled Out is a nice tribute to a band that has had a strong musical career. The reissue for an album that has gone 5 times Platinum since its release is also nice way to introduce new fans of the band to not only the Popped In, Souled Out release, but other material from the band as well.

For more information, check out the video for “Wishing I was Lucky” by Wet Wet Wet.