Features Record Labels

Rock and Roll is Alive! Part 1 – An Alive Records Natural Sound’s Round-Up

Let me tell you, I get a decent bit of music in the mail thanks to this gig right here and although every day brings a package with a little bit of melodic lovin’ inside, there are days where the bounty is just so fucking cool it makes me glad I decided to become a music writer. The day I received this fat package of music from the Alive label was one of those great days.

Alive is one of the few labels left which is dedicated to keeping rock and roll…ahem…alive in many ways, but most importantly in spirit. The label is a throwback to the days when substance meant more than anything else and sticking by your bands while they grew and matured was more important than milking them for one monster hit. I mean, while I am sure Alive would love to sell a ton of records and have a huge fat hit on their hands, they seem incredibly loyal to their bands and are nurturing their roster as each band builds their own reps and fan-bases which will eventually help the label as a whole. As it is, the label has one of the best young rosters out there and will soon be able to compete with any other label out there is the discs contained in this package is any clue. Since they sent me so many wonderful releases, I am splitting this article into two parts so I don’t hit you with too much good stuff at one time.

Reviews and Suggestions

Wonderful-Lee Done!

Michael Lee – Face Forward

Rarely do artists come along with fully-formed personalities, having boundless talent, their own sound and a complete vision of who they are, what they want to do, and how to present their talent to whoever they think is their target audience. An artist like Prince comes to mind in this respect, and though there has to be others, his is the obvious name one would recall as embodying this type of artist. While Lee does not have the hard funk sound Prince has long since settled into, Lee does compare to Prince in many ways. For one, Lee seems to have a vision for his sound. Mixing jazz, prog, and rock the same way Prince mixes soul and rock, Lee has fashioned a hybrid that no one could call totally original, but one Lee is able to use and manipulate to fashion his own sound. As Prince is able to take the R&B of James Brown and the guitar stylings of Jimi Hendrix and add a little of his own personality and come up with something new yet familiar, Lee is able to take his influences, throw a little of his own sensibilities in there and come up with something unique yet still recognizable. While not groundbreaking, Lee’s talents are quite formidable and his mastery of stringed instruments of all types and well as keyboards and percussion show Lee to be a musical prodigy capable of doing anything he wants in the music world. Also like Prince, Lee has found his own sound. Most likely due to Lee being a self-taught musician (also like Prince) Lee has his own idiosyncrasies and his own way of achieving his sound which makes it his own. He is also able to own it, not in the same way Prince flamboyantly owns his persona, but one can sense Lee’s comfort within himself as his confidence permeates the CD but doesn’t engulf it. This is a musician who labored over this album until everything was right, and once you listen, you’ll know that Lee knew it.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Heavy Glow “The Filth And The Fury” [EP]

I don’t think I have heard any other band capture the classic sound of 60s/70s guitar rock as effectively as Heavy Glow. The band is: Jared Mullins (Vocals & Guitar), Joe Brooks (Bass), and Dan Kurtz (Drums). This trio rocks it like it’s 1969.

Their new 7 track (counting the two unlisted bonus tracks) EP, “The Filth And The Fury”, will transport you to a bygone era. Heavy Glow has mastered the tones and styles that dominated the crunchy and fuzzy psychedelic sounds that permeated freedom rock. Combined with the smoky soul of the vocals supplied by Jared Mullins, you have a win-win situation. The retro vibe is so remarkably good that someone who didn’t know better would easily be fooled if I told them “The Filth And The Fury” was recorded in 1969.

My favorites from this EP include the sizzling opener, “I Almost Prayed”, the seductive “Love Ghost”, and catchy “Bourgeois Baby”. The band already has a large following in San Diego, but this EP should help them expand that circle of love. Heavy Glow will light up the night for fans of Hendrix, Cream, The Doors, and early Rolling Stones.

Heavy Glow on MySpace. Official site.


Genius or Madman? Gary Reynolds Plans to Release 52 Songs and 12 Albums in 2010 – Really

Seattle-based singer/songwriter Gary Reynolds and his band, The Brides of Obscurity, have extraordinary plans for 2010: they plan to release a song a week and a full-length album a month throughout all of 2010. Yes, you read that correctly. The band will release fifty-two songs and twelve full-length albums this year and to keep things fresh the tracks will range in style from psychedelic indie-rock to power-pop to folk-inspired numbers.  So genius or madman? Read the interview, hear the tunes and make up your own mind!

Q: Wow! Tell us about the inspiration behind choosing to release 12 albums this year.

A: I came up with this concept of releasing a song a week. Basically, I’ve been playing music for a long time and officially, what happens is, in the past I would record an album. I have three “Chronicles” – Cretin Chronicles volumes 1, 2 and 3 – those were what I did in my college days and they’re Brit-poppy psychedelic garage rock. Remember the “Pebbles” series that came out?

Reviews and Suggestions

Some Like It Hot!!! The Flame Gets Reissued

the flameThe Flame – self titled
Fallout Records

Those who love the late, lamented, oft-troubled band known as Badfinger are hereby put on notice to check out Fallout Record’s 2006 reissue of the eponymously titled Stateside debut album of South African pop-rock band The Flame. Originally released by the band in 1970, the album has been a much-sought-after collector’s item for those into power pop and classic rock. Produced by Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys but not sounding at all like that band, the album is sure to turn the heads of many music fans who hate the suckery of today’s modern rock and wish it sounded like it used to when it used to…um….rock.

Features Rock History


pigshitlogo-webFollowing along from my circa-’69 adventures in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens via last week’s Piggery…..

1. Let’s get one thing straight right off the top here: Jimi Hendrix was NOT the illegitimate mutant offspring of wild Indians, raised by wolverines deep within the celestial ice caverns of Venus’ third moon. No, Jimi – make that Jimmy – grew up in relative normality in Seattle, Washington, I kid you not. And his old man was a gardener, fer gosh sake!

Confusion similarly surrounds the other end of his life as well: For even though Jimi did NOT take his last meal in the same London flat Mama Cass (and later Keith Moon) did, it was, if you care to subscribe to such loony legends, Cass who was felled by a tuna-fish sandwich. Jimi choked to death on something else …still food-related, however.

Features Rock History


jimihendrixmugshotBelieve it or not, the very first “real” concert I was ever allowed to attend as a wee Canadian tyke was The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, May 3, 1969.

I’d already been a fervent fan for a couple of years, having spent most of my Grade 8 art class making swirly sketches of Jimi in charcoal. Plus the “Are You Experienced?” album was right up there – almost – with “Monkees Headquarters” on my 1967 Most-Played List.

Fast-forwarding, Christmastime ’68 was spent, between runs down the local tobogganing hill, digging all eight vinyl sides of “The White Album” AND “Electric Ladyland” and, most likely as a direct result, my gym-class rhythm section and I were just starting to assemble our very own semi-power trio when word filtered along the groupvine that the Experience were planning to stop by our very neighborhood in a few months as part of their possibly-Farewell World Tour.

In a word then? WOW.

Rock History

Cover Story – Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Are You Experienced?”, with photography by Karl Ferris


Copyright ©1967 and 2008 by Karl Ferris – All rights reserved.

Subject: Are You Experienced?, a 1967 release (on Reprise Records) by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with cover photo & design by Karl Ferris

Considered by many music fans and critics as one of the (if not THE) greatest debut record from a rock-era artist, Are You Experienced (with or without the ?) also illustrated how records were produced, packaged and tailored for distribution to the world’s music marketplaces. Released in the U.K. in May, 1967, the record was a compilation of the fantastic music and performances that had been wowing crowds in London theaters up to that point. Those crowds included most of members of the leading musical acts of the time – including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Hollies, The Who (and many others) – who’d all come to watch and listen in stunned amazement to the trio’s musical magic.

In the 40+ years (yes, that long ago!) since its release, the record’s influence on both the musicians who’ve striven “to play guitar like Hendrix” and those who create “Best Of” lists continues, with EVERY top guitarist today confirming Hendrix’s influence on their playing and the record’s positions on Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” (#15) in 2003 (following up its #5 ranking in 1987’s “Best Albums of the Last 20 Years” and #5 on a similarly-titled list published in 2001 by cable net VH-1. It is now also a national treasure in that it has also been selected to be permanently preserved by the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry and archive.