Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Baby Dynamite S/T

Baby Dynamite is a four-piece Rock and Roll band that has roots in both Connecticut and New York City. The band consists of: Christine Tambakis on vocals, Randy Funke on guitar, Benj LeFevre on bass and Gary Collins on drums. This quartet has found its sound by combining elements of Rock and Roll, Soul and Blues to create a band that truly lives up to the Rock and Roll style that was such a bit part of the seventies. Imagine Jefferson Airplane or Fleetwood Mac with a lot more Blues influence to their style. With their classic Rock and Roll style, the band is currently celebrating the release of their new self-titled release.

The self-titled release from Baby Dynamite begins with the track “Take Me Down”. For the first track of the band’s album, Baby Dynamite creates a track that combines the Rock and Roll and Blues genres to form a song that borrows largely from the Blues with a strong Rock and Roll backing to the music. Along with the band’s musical direction, the lyrics and Christine Tambakis’ delivery give the song a strong Bluesy sound. Baby Dynamite begins their new release with a song that shows off the band’s ability to jam.

With the track “It’s All Good,” Baby Dynamite adds a little more Blues inspiration to their music. The higher degree of Blues feeling in the track gives “It’s All Good” a strong groove that lasts for the entire length of the track. The guitars from Randy Funke, bass from Benj LeFevre and drums from Gary Collins all combine to create a strong backing track for the vocals from Christine Tambakis that add a definite note of beauty to the song. The guitar solo from Randy Funke that comes late in the track adds a lot of power to the track.

Baby Dynamite changes the direction of their self-titled release in a big way with the track “Jenny”. While the first two tracks have a strong Blues-inspired feel to them, “Jenny” has much more of a pop-rock feel. The track features a light, bouncy feel to the music and while the first tracks have a fully electrified sound, “Jenny” finds the quartet creating a track with a Folk-Rock feel to the music. The acoustic guitar and piano replace the electric guitars that helped form the music of the previous tracks. “Jenny” gives the listener another take on the sound from Baby Dynamite before the band returns to the stronger electrified sound.

The electrified feel of the music of Baby Dynamite returns with the track “Sanctify”. With the track, the band creates a Classic Rock song that once again uses a lot of the band’s Blues influence to shape the sound while adding some Soul influence to the music. Like earlier tracks, “Sanctify” finds the band making a strong groove that lasts throughout the nearly five-minute playtime of the track. The band feels very tight on this track as the song feels more like a jam session than any of the earlier songs. “Sanctify” is easily one of the strongest songs on the self-titled release from the band. With the current political mood of the United States changing, many bands and artists are standing up and making their voices heard.

With the track “Devolution,” Christine Tambakis and the rest of Baby Dynamite make their voices heard with a track about the rising anti-tolerance movement happening right now. Like much of Baby Dynamite’s music, “Devolution” features a Bluesy approach to the music to go along with the politically-charged lyrics of the song. Along with the powerful music that comes with the music, the lyrics of the track are delivered by singer Christine Tambakis with plenty of vigor. You can feel her disgust as she sings.

After such a strong and politically-charged track, Baby Dynamite changes the tempo of the music once again with the track “Stay”. A much slower track, “Stay” takes the band’s music in a direction reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. In fact, the track sounds as if it would have come from the early days of that band when guitarist Peter Green was a major part of the group’s sound before they went in a different direction.  The electric guitar on this track feels very much like Green’s style of playing. With “Stay,” Baby Dynamite shows the listener that their music has a wide array of sounds.

Much like the earlier track of “Jenny,” the band changes their musical delivery in a big way on the song “Fallen Angel”. The track feels like an acoustic track that would have been found on a Melissa Ethridge album. In fact, on the track, the vocals from Christine Tambakis are very similar to Ethridge’s. “Fallen Angel” is a track with a much different feel and sound than the rest of the release. However, this just shows off the versatility of the musicians in Baby Dynamite.

To finish off their release, the band creates the track “Scream”. With this track, the song feels as if the band created it live in the studio. Because of that feel, the band ends up being very tight and the songs ends up being one of the strongest tracks on the entire. And with the band being as tight as they are, they give Christine Tambakis a strong backing track to sing on top of. With this track, Tambakis delivers her lyrics in a style that will remind the listener of the way Janis Joplin used to sound. “Scream” is a very strong track and great way to bring the self-titled album from Baby Dynamite to a close.

The 2016 self-titled release from Baby Dynamite finds the four-piece band creating an album that contains many different musical approaches to the nine tracks that make up the release. The continual changing of musical elements helps give the album a lot of depth. This makes for one solid album that will satisfy lovers of old Rock and Roll as well as newer styles.

To hear the music from Baby Dynamite, check out the band’s live video for the song “It’s All Good“.

To purchase a copy of the self-titled release from Baby Dynamite, click on the album cover below:
Baby Dynamite


Featured Review Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Doris Brendel & Lee Dunham “Electrica”

I have not written any form of review or feature for quite some time. However much to my delight the wonderfully talented Doris Brendel recently offered me the opportunity to review her forthcoming new album which is very aptly titled Eclectica. After a few apprehensive moments my initial reluctance transformed into eager excitement as I am very proud to have been reviewing Doris’s album releases since 2010. Please pardon my initial apprehension; it was all down to having enough time to write a review which truthfully reflects the sheer musical quality of Doris’s creations. I am almost rendered speechless every time that I am privileged to hearing new work from Doris. The new album Eclectica has taken this to a new emotive level. Every time that I play Eclectica, I hear the album in a new light.


Eclectica lives up to its name in so many ways, the delivery and content of superbly crafted lyrics combine with the musical prowess of Doris and her band. I am completely besotted by this new milestone album. It follows on beautifully from the previous album, Upside Down World which Doris Brendel created and released in 2015. So much so, in fact, that the first track on Eclectica was originally written for Upside Down World. It is in fact also the track which was used to gain much audience participation whilst closing the live set which I saw when I was fortunate enough to see when Doris and her band played support to Wishbone Ash at The Cheese And Grain Hall on Frome last November. This thrill factor created by this performance was equivalent to a much longer or even a full set even though it limited to about 20/25 minutes in length.


This is the Eclectica tracklist:

The One

Love App

I Rather Wear Black

Crying Shame



Losing It

Death And Taxes


One World


Anybody who was fortunate enough to see Doris supporting Wishbone Ash during the past couple of years will already have heard some of the amazing new material which is soon to be unleashed with the release of Eclectica. Six out of the ten tracks on the forthcoming album were recorded while the previous album Upside Down World was being created. The four tracks which Doris has written after the birth of Upside Down World are ‘Love App’, ‘Losing It’, Death & Taxes’ and ‘I Rather Wear Black’.


Eclectica is a truly exceptional diversity of first class, top drawer tracks which will animate your emotions while exciting your senses. As the cover art suggests it is very much like a set of sliding drawers each filled with an individual musical treat. The album is progressively biased whilst also incorporating some luscious touches of pop, funk, folk and even a hint of medieval plainsong within this delicious selection of tracks. It is virtually impossible to generically categorise Doris Brendel as her music is just so diversely creative. Over the years since her departure from The Violet Hour Doris has created her very own musically creative niche. Alternative Rock would be the easiest tag to use if you needed to categorise Doris Brendel.


I have been immersing my senses with Eclectica for some time now and it hits a 10/10 rating with ease. I would almost go as far as to state that this is my album of the decade, the constraint in this statement is due to the fact that I am sure Doris will be releasing another album before 2020!


To hear the music of Doris Brendel, check out this live performance of the song “Crying Shame” from the soon-to-be released album of Electrica.


The launch gig for Eclectica is being held at The Borderline venue in London on Sunday May 14th. Full details about this gig along with all that you may need to know about Doris Brendel can be found at




Doris Blendel ElectricaAlbum credits
Lyrics written by: Doris Brendel (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9) Lee Dunham (track 5), Lee Dunham and Doris Brendel (track 10), and Peter Lockyer (track 3).
Music composed by Doris Brendel and Lee Dunham, with contributions from Lincoln Spalding (track 7)
Produced, recorded & engineered by Lee Dunham
Mastering – Mike Marsh @ The Exchange Mike Marsh Mastering, Devon
Published by Sky-Rocket Recordings

Piano –Ed Jones, Doris Brendel and Rich Clark (track 4)
Guitars – Lee Dunham and Andy Powell (solo, track 2)
Drums – Steve Clark (tracks 1, 5, 6, 9, 10) and Sam White (tracks 2, 3, 7, 8)
Bass – Lincoln Spalding (tracks 2, 3, 7, 8), Sparkie Dalton (tracks 5 & 6), Huggy Harewood (track 10), Lee Dunham (track 9)
Vocals – Doris Brendel & Lee Dunham.
Flageolet – Doris Brendel
Harmonica – Terry Dunham
Cello – Emma Dunham
Violins – Emma Robinson & Millie Robinson
Percussion – Lee Dunham
Visual and art concepts by Doris Brendel & Lee Dunham
Album Cover artwork – Igor Morski
Featured Review Features

Gary Pig Gold’s TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2016

Bob Dylan duly dumped about another thirty-seven (at last count) albums in our laps last year, while on much the other hand the vast majority of my aural Good Times! during oh-16 came courtesy of Micky, Peter, Michael and Davy. Nevertheless, there still remained room on the trusty Pig Player for the following splendid, purely alphabetically-listed items as well …which you should all be playing too if you aren’t already:


8x83 8X8 Inflorescence  (8X8 Records)
Once again virtually producing their sonic bridge between Queens, NY and Kiev, UKR, Lane Steinberg and Alexander Khodchenko return with forty three minutes which never fail to fully mystify as much as melodize. To begin, “Stop The Madman” takes its fanciful funereal march clear off our collective cliff, then “My Summertime High” trips Todd Rundgren straight over Colin Moulding before signing off with a most significant SMiLE indeed. But… is it Sunshine Pop?? Soon however, unlike on their previous offering, Alex and Lane start stretching out magnificent, purely instrumental passages: “Aftermath” sports a dense Mellotronic concluding quarter while “The Essence” tags on nearly two whole minutes which would sound completely at home beneath the very next Tom Cruise green-screen action caper; in fact two songs, “Head, Heart, & Tail” and “Between The Double Curtain” are almost totally instrumental. Yet wherever and whenever words do enter into it, the utterly Blonde on John “Bubbles” in particular, the lyrics weave a near Sir Ray Davies level of storytelling detail (“No More Second Chance”). Which reminds me: Lane Steinberg’s vocals – I single out “Some Surreal Idea” above all – are perhaps the best he has ever done. Which is saying quite a bit over a career which already spans decades. And counting.

Mike BadgerMIKE BADGER and the Shady Trio Honky Tonk Angels On Motorbikes (Generator)
Delightfully direct from the J. Strummer School of roots ‘n’ roll, Mike Badger’s northern UK ancestry (The Onset and, yes, The La’s to cite only two) plays as sure and smooth as his hollow body Gretsch upon this disarming little disc. “Miss Jones,” for starters, slyly sways in a Nesmith National Band way, while “27 Miles to Memphis” should without doubt be railroaded in Dave Edmunds’ direction asap. And while we’re at it, John Fogerty sure could use a tune or two just like “Mean And Nasty Devil” right about now. Elsewhere, “Adios Amigo” wouldn’t sound a single inch out of place on your favorite Rank and File album while “John Got Shot” fires 21st Century skiffle, I kid you not, complete with crackling Crickets-y guitar breaks here and then there. But it’s whenever his expertly Shady Trio channel those Tennessee Three – on “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” and “Maybe” mainly – that Mike’s way with a word and a chord shine brightest; and “The County’s First Psychedelic Cowboy” spins tall tales which could make Shel Silverstein roll over …while telling Mick Farren the news. P.S.: Mike’s exemplary The Rhythm & The Tide should be considered Required Reading as well, one and all.

Pet SoundsBeach Boys, Pet Sounds  (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
The Little Album That Could celebrated its 50th (!) Anniversary in 2016, and naturally Brian Wilson + Band fearlessly toured this whole world (“one last time”?) performing it to rapt audiences young, old, and definitely in between. To help with said commemoration on film, the venerable Classic Albums series gathers together the usual interview subjects (various Beach Boys, past and present, living and otherwise), some fascinating, seldom-heard-from figures (veteran Capitol Rec.s exec Karl Engemann), plus several downright dubious speakers (British teen singing starlet Helen Shapiro who, well, opened for the Boys back in ’67) to relate the oft-told yet still somehow captivating saga of one of our favorite-ever thirty-six minutes of vinyl. We get to view many an original Pet Sounds session reel box – one with Jan Berry’s phone number still visible – and hear snippets of raw recording chatter (thrill to M. Love Not War attempting “I Know There’s An Answer” Jimmy Durante-style), while engineer Bruce Botnick, listening to a playback of “Good Vibrations,” demonstrates how to correctly identify – within mere notes! – each studio used to record each suite section. Most interesting as well to hear Tony Asher recall how a brief hallway meeting between he and B. Wilson lead to his being asked, out of the proverbial blue, to write most of Pet Sounds’ lyrics, while Hal “Drummer Man” Blaine deciphers how the “Sloop John B” percussion was arranged to depict in sound the tiny ship’s increasingly choppy ocean voyage. “It’s all visual!” as Hal exclaims, and you’ll soon see too this is without doubt one Classic Album that more than deserves vivid A/V treatment.

MillersTalesBIG BOY PETE Miller’s Tales (•22 Records)
As the man/the legend himself has admitted, “This is what happens when you give Big Boy Pete a movie camera for Christmas.” And what happens all over this 90-minute (again, as BBP sez) “album of EyeTunes” is precisely the sort of seat-o-the-pants decorum-be-gawddamned DIY-ness which has infused Peter Miller’s career ever since he built his first Warblerama guitar in late-50’s Britain before going on to create some of the farthest-out sounds this side of Syd Barrett in Joe Meek’s parlor. And now, for the first time he’s bringing his all to the small – even laptop screen on this DVD: Be it chicken-pickin’ his way up and down the local record emporium’s vinyl aisles (“Once Upon a Tune”), sliding the kind of solos which would make even Zoot Horn Rollo recant (“Upside Down”), or plopping Sinatra in the middle of the nearest Nirvana video (“Baby I Got Screwed by You”). The accompaniment’s always top top notch of course (e.g.: Just when one thought there couldn’t be any more wah-wah Wonderwall Music comes “No Limeys Left in London”), but the visuals also wholly live up to their tasks (“The Flicker” imagines Casino directed by D. Lynch as opposed to M. Scorsese, while “My Loyal Shadow” displays genuine Bernard Shakey sensibilities, if you’d catch my drift). So! Call me Crazy Boy, but I for one hope we all live long enough to hear – and see – the Big Boy’s “Winnie” blanket-broadcast every 24th of January ’cross the length and breadth of that once United Kingdom in honour of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill.

chilton ALEX CHILTON Ocean Club ’77 (Norton Records)
They say cool things come to those who wait, and I had to wait about a year til this gem safely arrived here at the ol’ sty. Then again, we all had to wait 38 times as long as that to finally have those now sounds of Alex, Chris Stamey, and Lloyd Fonoroff blow their Live in New York proto-punk directly cross our paths. Kinda hot off his Singer Not The Song EP, Alex and those sometimes-called Cossacks, taking a night or two off from demo’ing up a storm for Elektra Records (who, I suppose not surprisingly, never bit) hit the Ocean stage with the following words: “Can I have a Coke and, uh, Canadian Whiskey on the rocks?” How else to follow that up than with a blast into “September Gurls” (how very odd though to hear Alex introduce this number to near silence; the Chilton revival/renaissance still, we must recall, a few years off) followed by a detour home to Chuck B’s “Memphis” as only a Box Top can, “In The Street” – yes, that 70’s theme – and then “Back Of A Car” (“There’s a screw loose in this speaker!” it sounds like Stamey saying by way of, um, introduction). Add a nice Seeds nugget, a “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” in – wait for it – Beach Boys Love You (!) fashion, a too-wily-for-words “Walk Don’t Run” and a de rigueur “Letter” (no, not “Please Mister Postman” as Alex teases) and we honestly have a fifty-minute trip back to a simpler time when Big Star albums could only be found in Woolworths’ 99-cent bin and “power pop” was strictly a phrase uttered in crinkly old Pete Townshend interviews.

FeltonSIMON FELTON Return to Easton Square (Pink Hedgehog Records)
One of my favorite singing songwriting types from the far-flung Isle of Portland – that’s in Dorset, England btw – takes good time off from his Garfields Birthday band to bring us a dozen, and I quote the Press insert, “essentially demos. The intention would be to one day record them ‘properly’ in a studio, but the reality is that this is as good as they’re ever likely to sound.” But! With material as finely tuned as Simon’s, there’s nothing whatsoever amiss in keeping said recordings raw, ripe and ready. “Will You Be There” for example rests with a low rumbling cello pulse; a most effectively spacious arrangement which features often throughout this collection. “Alibi” employs a perfectly playful rhyming scheme, lyrically speaking, while “Good Morning Britain” really makes me wonder how often Simon stays home to watch Gavin & Stacey reruns. Everything herein’s sung with a soft C. Blunstone approach; which reminds me: “I Would (If I Wanted To)” should be sent the Zombies’ way without delay! And, so far as my ears are concerned, “Goodbye (Again)” represents just about the absolute best two-and-a-half minutes they’ve had all year. “Demos”? Well, these ones prove, yet again, that less can honestly amount to more. MUCH more.

Fleshtones THE FLESHTONES …The Band Drinks for Free (Yep Roc Records)
Joyously celebrating, as their sticker sez, “40 Years Of Rocking Harder Than Anyone In The World,” those ever-touchy-feely Fleshtones defiantly continue to put the Rage in the back of Garage …and then some. To wit, this latest and very possibly greatest release of theirs turns the guitars up and screws the snare taut for the kind of witful wallop we’ve long come to expect from these masters. More specifically, “Love Like A Man,” not to mention “Rick Wakeman’s Cape” (Title of the Year, btw) deftly add the Sir to the Douglas, “Suburban Roulette” should be considered for immediate cover on the very next Teenage Head platter, and “Respect Our Love” sounds as if those Dead Boys actually aren’t. I personally cherish that little Ox outro, bass-ically Who speaking that is, on “Living Today,” and Bonus Points aplenty for shutting completely down Usher/Christian’s golden vintage “Gasser” to boot. Then, signing strategically off “Before I Go” with said fuzz’n’Farfisa-crusted capper and this is, without debate, one band who can live up to its album title. Any time. On me.

JanisJANIS JOPLIN Janis: Little Girl Blue (MVD Entertainment Group) The mark of good filmmaking, especially of the docu genre, is the ability to capture and hold the viewer’s undivided attention even if the subject matter is unfamiliar or of little if any interest. I’ll admit to falling into the latter category insofar as Janis Joplin is concerned, for while I have always admired her talents and drive, I never really appreciated the range and depth of both until Little Girl Blue laid it plainly to see …and hear. Not only is the wealth of historical footage, both performance and otherwise well chosen, but so is the inevitable swell of talking heads – notably her Holding Company, her younger sister Laura, and intriguingly her “former boyfriend” David Niehaus – and thankfully all the young, Century 21 celebrity testimonials are saved til the end credits, lest they divide and distract from Those Who Were Actually There And Know (John Lennon’s final words on the subject, from a 1971 Dick Cavett Show, remain most chillingly profound). BEWARE, however, the “Big Brother Acapella” on the Special Features menu …you’ve been warned. All from our heroes at MVD, who have also just brought us magnificent audio compilations from John Coltrane (!) and John Lee Hooker (!!), not to mention – speaking of fine documentaries and even finer record stores – All Things Must Pass.


Legal Matters THE LEGAL MATTERS CONRAD (Omnivore Recordings)
Meanwhile, from the fine folk over at Omnivore who, on the most recent Record Store Day alone brought us lotsa Bangles, Beach Boys and Big Star present (to kinda quote the sticker right there on the CD cover) the highly anticipated second hook-filled and harmony-drenched release from Michigan’s Keith Klingensmith, Chris Richards and Andy Reed. And while absolutely no time whatsoever is wasted as “Anything” lulls ‘n’ floats most gently in on a lush Badfinger-by-way-of-Crowded House bed of ooooh’s, ahhhh’s and six strings, these Legal Matters, baby, are never content to toil merely within the boundaries of any musical pigeonhole: there’s “More Birds Less Bees” which goes one further plus deeper into vintage – guess who? – Bachman/Cummings territory while the sweet chilling “Pull My String” adds a slight scoop of Townshend, but with the ’tude toned properly down. May I add “The Cool Kid” should henceforth be piped through the PA at the conclusion of each and every International Pop Overthrow festival clear round the globe? Andy’s Reed Recording Company right there in Bay City, MI checks that all sounds shimmer, yet pack punch when need be, ensuring and reassuring any out there who may often fret over who killed all the rock and roll stars – yes, the ones that used to make us wanna learn our guitars in the first place.

MonkeesOh ! and Did I mention… THE MONKEES Good Times! (Rhino Entertainment)










Gary Pig Gold

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Nektare “Apocalyptic Butterfly”

Trials and Tribulations is a character builder. After a two-year hiatus, I have returned to give awesome reviews of great rising heroes of Rock!

In my time in L.A., I’ve seen many concerts of talented bands. But there is one classic rockin’, psychedelic sounding, awesome band that stands above the rest. Nektare is the name. The driving force behind this band is Naomi Nektare. This petite lass, with a deep powerful voice, is an Arizona native who began writing songs from the age of three and has not stopped since.

Nektare consist of Naomi , vocals, Brandon Criswell, bass, Rich Vaccaro, guitar, and Todd Nosek, drums. The bands sound is inspired by rock legends like Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, all the way to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lenny Kravitz added with a little blues. Nektare has toured all over Southern California in well-known venues such as The Roxy, Viper Room and The Hard Rock Café.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Nektare’s upcoming album, Apocalyptic Butterfly. There is a lot of rock, heart, life experience, and passion in each track of the album. “American Dream”, written by Naomi Nektare and Rich Vaccaro, is about the struggles of following your dream. No matter how much you are pushed down, dust yourself off, get up and keep on trucking. It is a very inspiring song about tenacity. “Cruelean Blue”, written By Naomi Nektare and Brandon Criswell, is a touching story of love and loss. You can feel Naomi’s broken heart cry out. This song speaks to me the most. “Cruelean Blue” represents a painful part of life we all go through. The title track, “Apocalyptic Butterfly,” written by Naomi Nektare, is a very fast paced, classic rock sounding with religious symbolism popping out here and there. The song is about Revelations and the second coming of The Messiah. Talking about epic symbolism, imagine the apocalyptic destruction is a cocoon, and the symbolic butterfly, rising from the ashes, is The Messiah returning. What better way to symbolize the second coming like the title of the song?  If the end is coming, it takes a BIG brave person to ask forgiveness. And it equally takes a BIG person to set aside differences, accept the apology, and renew ties of friendship. Life is too short to hold grudges. (WINK, WINK). But I digress. Apocalyptic Butterfly will be released later this year.

I did have the pleasure of seeing the band in concert. Nektare’s live show is a spectacle. “Naomi sees herself as the shaman, her band as the sweet soul medicine and the audience as the tribe – uniting together to rise to a higher consciousness through music.” As said on her website. It was a magical experience I will never forget.

(Editor’s Note: Check out the video for the title track from Nektare‘s upcoming release Apocalyptic Butterfly as well as other songs by the group here.)

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Pearl “Little Immaculate White Fox”

Pearl Aday is a self-proclaimed “Rock Child” and has every right to that title. The daughter of larger-than-life rocker Meat Loaf, Pearl has never known a day without music. In addition to singing back-up for Meat Loaf from 1994 to 2003, she has done the same for Motley Crue. I guess to ensure her progeny are homozygous for musical genes, she has married Scott Ian (Anthrax).

Just a few bars into her debut record, “Little Immaculate White Fox”, it is easy to hear her primary musical influence – Janis Joplin. Incidentally, her biological father played drums in Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band. Pearl’s name comes from Joplin’s nickname, which is also the title of her landmark 1971 album. Follow all that?