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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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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Electric Guest “Plural”

Together, Asa Taccone (a musician known for his musical contributions to the Digital Shorts routines on SNL as well as being an ex-Hip Hop producer) and Matthew “Cornbread” Compton (a multi-talented individual who creates musical scores for movies like MacGruber and plays the drums in the band Engine Down as well as others) make up the core of the Los Angeles-based Electric Guest, a group that adds Luke Top on bass and Reese Richardson on keyboards/guitar whenever they go on tour. As a musical ensemble, Electric Guest has created two albums of original material. The first album is entitled Mondo and their newest release is a Danger Mouse-produced album entitled 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.

Plural from Electric Guest begins with the track “Zero”. The track features the band’s unique sparse delivery. Like most of the songs performed by Electric Guest, “Zero” is created with one keyboard and drums that create the main body of the music and the bass and second keyboard that are there simply to add depth to the music. The lyrics to the track “Zero” are delivered in such a manner that the listener can hear hints of “Something in the Way She Moves” from the Beatles in the vocals from Asa Taccone. There is also a slightly retro feel to the music of the track as well as the keyboards give the song a slight New Wave feel.

The new release from Electric Guest continues with the track “Glorious Warrior”. With this track, the duo of Taccone and Compton create a track that features pace to the music that is quite a bit sped up from the previous track. The quick pace to the music is matched up with a musical sound that is definitely based within the Indie portion of Rock and Roll. In fact, the music to the song simply sounds like a quickened version of the music from the band’s one track called “Dear to Me” that shows up a few tracks later on the Plural release. The resulting song of “Glorious Warrior” creates a music feel that is lively but also strangely familiar because of the use of a quicker version of one of the band’s other songs. The track ultimately feels like a track that would feel right at home in a Discotheque back in the seventies during the height of the Disco era.

With the track “Back and Forth,” the band’s sparse musical delivery really comes through. The keyboards that create the music of the song bring to mind pop bands from the eighties. Moreover, the music of the track and the falsetto vocals from Asa Taccone bring to mind the style of George Michael and the band WHAM! The track begins with a very simple melody created on the keyboard and the voice of Taccone which creates a glorified acapella feel to the track. Soon, just a few more keyboards are added to the song that results in a track that contains an eighties Pop/New Wave feel to it.

The Plural release continues with one of the songs that have become rather popular since the release of the album. The track “Dear to Me” features a strong keyboard presence that creates New Wave/Pop feel to the song with a slight Motown influence to the music. That musical combination creates a track that comes across as very infectious and catchy. The song is built on a sparse keyboard delivery that allows for the vocals from Asa Taccone to truly stand out. The lyrics to the refrain contain a strong falsetto presence as well as harmonic feel that adds to the catchy nature to the track. Having been around since before the album was actually released, “Dear to Me” has been getting the band’s name out there to help them add to their already tight-knit but loyal fanbase.

The feel of the music for the Plural release from Electric Guest changes drastically on the track “Oh Devil”. The track contains a very powerful danceable beat to the music with a slight Reggae feel to it. The danceable quality comes as a result a much stronger bass presence on the track than most of the other songs that make up the album. The Reggae feel on the track is added to with the inclusion of Reggae artist Devin Di Dakta who adds his personal touches to the track. “Oh Devil” is one of the standout tracks on the release as well as one of the catchiest.

Much like “Oh Devil,” the song “Back for Me” separates itself from the earlier tracks on the album. The song features a much heavier and prominent bass part that goes along with a much more prominent drum part. Together, the bass and drums combine to create a straight-out Rock and Roll beat. That strong beat is joined by the keyboards to create a track that is as close to Alternative Rock as the band gets on this release. The vocals on the refrain for the track are delivered in a way that their harmonic quality brings to mind vocal arrangements from back in the sixties with groups from Motown bands like The Association or The Beach Boys. Like many of the tracks that make up the Plural release, “Back for Me” is a catchy track that will immediately grab the listener’s attention.

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.

To hear the music of Electric Guest, check out their video to the track “Dear to Me“.

For more information, check out the band’s record label Downtown Records.

To check out the Plural release from Electric Guest, click on the album cover below:

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Brothers and Sisters S/T

Brothers and Sisters are an indie band based in Austin, Texas. The Beach boys, The Mamas and The Papas, with a bit of Buffalo Springfield, inspire their classic rock sound. Real life brother and sister, Will and Lily Courtney, head the seven-piece band.

As a child, Will Courtney was taken to a Beach Boys concert. From then on, he was hooked and chased his dreamed of being a musician. As an adult, Will moved to L.A. to launch his music career. Tired of the L.A. music scene, Will moved back to Texas and formed Brothers and Sisters with his sister and friends. The band consists of Brother Will, vocals and guitar; sister, Lily, autoharp, and vocals; friends, Ray Jackson, pedal steel Guitar; Greg McArther, drums; David Morgan, bass; and Daniel Wilcox on lead guitar.

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Artists and Bands

The Americans’ Charlie Klarsfeld on working with Sean Lennon, The White EP, and the coming year

On November 16, modern pop band The Americans will release their sophomore effort, The White EP. The Americans have recruited none other than Sean Lennon to lend a hand with the new EP, which contains six genre-defying songs. It could even be argued that no one since Prince has blended rock, pop, and soul so masterfully as The Americans. Recently, lead singer Charlie Klarsfeld took a few moments to answer some questions about the EP, The Beatles, and the coming year.

Q: Thanks for taking the time for this interview! So, tell us how The Americans came together…

A: I started the band about two and a half years ago. The cast of characters has changed over time, as I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect Americans, and we reached the band’s permanent form this summer with the addition of James Peanutbutter Preston on the bass.