Tuesday, August 30, 2011



Dick Wagner has had an amazing career as the guitar player for Lou Reed and Alice Cooper. In addition he has recorded classic songs with Kiss and Aerosmith and written songs for artists as diverse as Meat Loaf and Air Supply.

Wagner’s discography is a Who’s Who of 70’s rock music, and his songs and lead guitar have been featured on more than 150 renowned albums.

Full Meltdown features 15 songs recorded by Wagner between 1979 and 1995 that demonstrate dazzling guitar virtuosity and an incredible sonic diversity, although Wagner’s masterful, howling guitar hallmark each piece, juxtaposed with lyrical beauty that is heart wrenching and soulful.

These songs will take you right back to your youth, and the innocence of driving down a fast highway with friends, carefree, wired, windows open, not giving a damn. Wagner gives the album a softer touch than I’d expected, but still demonstrates capability with a guitar and a voice that deserves to be heard.

More recently, Wagner was the man behind the console on the debut CD by Wensday, and while this effort might not match the power of that one, it is still a top-notch CD from a journeyman rocker that deserves a listen.

Electronic Press Kit

Saturday, August 27, 2011



Four immensely talented and quite different performers from Philadelphia (Ben Arnold, Scott Bricklin, Jim Boggia and Joseph Parsons) have teamed up to form the folk rock band, 4 Way Street. All four have had individual success in past years recording and performing as soloists or leaders of their own groups.

Pretzel Park, the group’s 12 track debut release, showcases the vocal ability and flexibility of each of these men, evident in the rich harmonies heard throughout.

How does a gravelly sounding keyboard/guitarist (Ben), a guitar- wizard pure popster (Jim), a sweet-but-funk hammering bassist (Scott) and a classical-style guitarist with roots deep in European traditions (Joseph) all manage to write both collaborative and individual songs and make it sound like it was always meant to be? One need merely sit back and be swept away in wonder and delight.

The band members each contributed individual songs to the album, and in collaboration transformed them in an undeniable group effort. Three songs were composed as a collaborative entity that are a testament to their synergistic relationship. Together they created a musical synergy that is remarkable, memorable and downright infectious

Right from the jangly guitar stirrings of the opener, your attention is grabbed and you are not let down by the two-and-four part harmonies that await you along with catchy choruses that make every tune a potential single.

This album is one incredibly solid, delightful body of work that travels an entire spectrum of emotions, from despair to joy, touching on many others along the way and guaranteed leave any listener richer for the experience.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011



Jonathan Edwards celebrates his fifth decade of performing, songwriting and recording with the release of his new album, My Love Will Keep. He joins such artists as Jesse Winchester and David Bromberg who have re-emerged with new albums on the Appleseed Label after long absences.

For most people, Jonathan Edwards is the one-hit wonder who recorded “Sunshine (Go Away Today)” way back in 1971. Those people would probably be surprised to know that since then Edwards has released seventeen albums and toured steadily.

It's taken more than a dozen years for Jonathan Edwards to take time off from his touring schedule and put together a new studio disc, but shortly after the needle drops, it's obvious it was worth the wait. Okay, sue me-it’s a CD, so the needle doesn’t drop, but I don’t really know what the heck a laser does, and “needle drops” still sounds cool, so there!

Edwards has not lost his skill at the songwriting craft, able to infuse his songs with the subtlety of nature's small wonders and the people who are part of life's cycle. The album opens with the rich strum of an acoustic guitar, the sigh of a pedal steel guitar, and Edwards's gentle tenor, and for the next hour or so the listener is treated to a country and bluegrass influenced set of one dozen songs (including five Edwards’ originals), some of which will be familiar to concertgoers, but all shine like new with full instrumentation and the co-production by Jonathan and Jim Begley. Guest appearances abound, by bluegrass singer Claire Lynch, guitarist Duke Levine, vocalist Moondi Klein (formerly of the Seldom Scene), and Jonathan's daughter Grace.

The cover tunes include a gorgeous slow ballad arrangement of The Beatles' "She Loves You" that is more meditation than celebration. Another stand-out is an adaptation of Jesse Winchester's "Freewheeler."

Edward's distinctive, country-inflected voice, multi-instrumental mastery (guitar, bass, harmonica, ukulele, mandolin) and superlative choice of material, arrangements and sidepersons were away from the studio for way too long. Fans are rewarded with a new release that does not break any new musical ground but covers the old ground quite well.

Well worth the wait, indeed.

She Loves You
Crazy Texas Woman
The Sailor's Prayer
Sunshine (Go Away Today)

Saturday, August 20, 2011



I was not familiar with UH until recently (well in the past couple of years), when Stephen T. McCarthy mentioned how their Demons & Wizards album had been a favorite of his in his rock days and he thought I'd like it based on my taste.

Stephen has since stopped listening to rock music, which I think accounts for all that angst on his blogs. But I did like the D&W album, so (as my addiction compels me to do) I set out to collect their back catalog.

Uriah Heep are an English rock band formed in 1969, and over the course of the bands' career there have been a number of line-up changes and different musical styles. The bands' influences include prog, hard rock and jazz and they were said to be the forerunners of the progressive metal scene.

With Into The Wild, most of the cast from 2008's excellent Wake The Sleeper album return, including producer Mike Paxman as well as the lineup of Mick Box, Trevor Bolder, Phil Lanzon, Bernie Shaw and Russell Gilbrook.

Into The Wild is a solid addition to the UH body of work, leaning more to an AOR sound than progressive rock, but with their signature sonic wall of sound wrapped around hooks and melodies with top notch production.

Bernie Shaw may not be the same type of vocalist that the late David Byron was during Heep's glory years, but after being the "new" lead singer for more than 20 years he's grown into the role.

Phil Lanzon plays the Hammond B-3 with the same kind of manic energy that Ken Hensley brought in the early 70s, and "new" drummer Russell Gilbrook brings a similar energy that seems to have re-energized the entire band.

All of the Heep trademarks are here, and there really is not a weak track on the album. Heep fans should like this, as well as fans of classic and melodic rock.

Nail On The Head

Kiss Of Freedom

Money Talk

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Record Industry Braces for Artists’ Battles Over Song Rights

Since their release in 1978, hit albums like Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” the Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute,” Kenny Rogers’s “Gambler” and Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove” have generated tens of millions of dollars for record companies. But thanks to a little-noted provision in United States copyright law, those artists — and thousands more — now have the right to reclaim ownership of their recordings, potentially leaving the labels out in the cold.

When copyright law was revised in the mid-1970s, musicians, like creators of other works of art, were granted “termination rights,” which allow them to regain control of their work after 35 years, so long as they apply at least two years in advance. Recordings from 1978 are the first to fall under the purview of the law, but in a matter of months, hits from 1979, like “The Long Run” by the Eagles and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer, will be in the same situation — and then, as the calendar advances, every other master recording once it reaches the 35-year mark.

The provision also permits songwriters to reclaim ownership of qualifying songs. Bob Dylan has already filed to regain some of his compositions, as have other rock, pop and country performers like Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Waits and Charlie Daniels, according to records on file at the United States Copyright Office.

“In terms of all those big acts you name, the recording industry has made a gazillion dollars on those masters, more than the artists have,” said Don Henley, a founder both of the Eagles and the Recording Artists Coalition, which seeks to protect performers’ legal rights. “So there’s an issue of parity here, of fairness. This is a bone of contention, and it’s going to get more contentious in the next couple of years.”

With the recording industry already reeling from plummeting sales, termination rights claims could be another serious financial blow. Sales plunged to about $6.3 billion from $14.6 billion over the decade ending in 2009, in large part because of unauthorized downloading of music on the Internet, especially of new releases, which has left record labels disproportionately dependent on sales of older recordings in their catalogs.

“This is a life-threatening change for them, the legal equivalent of Internet technology,” said Kenneth J. Abdo, a lawyer who leads a termination rights working group for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and has filed claims for some of his clients, who include Kool and the Gang. As a result the four major record companies — Universal, Sony BMG, EMI and Warner — have made it clear that they will not relinquish recordings they consider their property without a fight.

“We believe the termination right doesn’t apply to most sound recordings,” said Steven Marks, general counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America, a lobbying group in Washington that represents the interests of record labels. As the record companies see it, the master recordings belong to them in perpetuity, rather than to the artists who wrote and recorded the songs, because, the labels argue, the records are “works for hire,” compilations created not by independent performers but by musicians who are, in essence, their employees.

Independent copyright experts, however, find that argument unconvincing. Not only have recording artists traditionally paid for the making of their records themselves, with advances from the record companies that are then charged against royalties, they are also exempted from both the obligations and benefits an employee typically expects.

“This is a situation where you have to use your own common sense,” said June M. Besek, executive director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at the Columbia University School of Law. “Where do they work? Do you pay Social Security for them? Do you withdraw taxes from a paycheck? Under those kinds of definitions it seems pretty clear that your standard kind of recording artist from the ’70s or ’80s is not an employee but an independent contractor.”

Daryl Friedman, the Washington representative of the recording academy, which administers the Grammy Awards and is allied with the artists’ position, expressed hope that negotiations could lead to a “broad consensus in the artistic community, so there don’t have to be 100 lawsuits.” But with no such talks under way, lawyers predict that the termination rights dispute will have to be resolved in court.

“My gut feeling is that the issue could even make it to the Supreme Court,” said Lita Rosario, an entertainment lawyer specializing in soul, funk and rap artists who has filed termination claims on behalf of clients, whom she declined to name. “Some lawyers and managers see this as an opportunity to go in and renegotiate a new and better deal. But I think there are going to be some artists who feel so strongly about this that they are not going to want to settle, and will insist on getting all their rights back.”

So far the only significant ruling on the issue has been one in the record labels’ favor. In that suit heirs of Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley, who died in 1981, sued Universal Music to regain control of and collect additional royalties on five of his albums, which included hits like “Get Up, Stand Up” and “One Love.”

But last September a federal district court in New York ruled that “each of the agreements provided that the sound recordings were the ‘absolute property’ ” of the record company, and not Marley or his estate. That decision, however, applies only to Marley’s pre-1978 recordings, which are governed by an earlier law that envisaged termination rights only in specific circumstances after 56 years, and it is being appealed.

Congress passed the copyright law in 1976, specifying that it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 1978, meaning that the earliest any recording can be reclaimed is Jan. 1, 2013. But artists must file termination notices at least two years before the date they want to recoup their work, and once a song or recording qualifies for termination, its authors have five years in which to file a claim; if they fail to act in that time, their right to reclaim the work lapses.

The legislation, however, fails to address several important issues. Do record producers, session musicians and studio engineers also qualify as “authors” of a recording, entitled to a share of the rights after they revert? Can British groups like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Dire Straits exercise termination rights on their American recordings, even if their original contract was signed in Britain? These issues too are also an important part of the quiet, behind-the-scenes struggle that is now going on.

Given the potentially huge amounts of money at stake and the delicacy of the issues, both record companies, and recording artists and their managers have been reticent in talking about termination rights. The four major record companies either declined to discuss the issue or did not respond to requests for comment, referring the matter to the industry association.

But a recording industry executive involved in the issue, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak for the labels, said that significant differences of opinion exist not only between the majors and smaller independent companies, but also among the big four, which has prevented them from taking a unified position. Some of the major labels, he said, favor a court battle, no matter how long or costly it might be, while others worry that taking an unyielding position could backfire if the case is lost, since musicians and songwriters would be so deeply alienated that they would refuse to negotiate new deals and insist on total control of all their recordings.

As for artists it is not clear how many have already filed claims to regain ownership of their recordings. Both Mr. Springsteen and Mr. Joel, who had two of the biggest hit albums of 1978, as well as their managers and legal advisers, declined to comment on their plans, and the United States Copyright Office said that, because termination rights claims are initially processed manually rather than electronically, its database is incomplete.

Songwriters, who in the past typically have had to share their rights with publishing companies, some of which are owned by or affiliated with record labels, have been more outspoken on the issue. As small independent operators to whom the work for hire argument is hard to apply, the balance of power seems to have tilted in their favor, especially if they are authors of songs that still have licensing potential for use on film and television soundtracks, as ringtones, or in commercials and video games.

“I’ve had the date circled in red for 35 years, and now it’s time to move,” said Rick Carnes, who is president of the Songwriters Guild of America and has written hits for country artists like Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks. “Year after year after year you are going to see more and more songs coming back to songwriters and having more and more influence on the market. We will own that music, and it’s still valuable.”

In the absence of a definitive court ruling, some recording artists and their lawyers are talking about simply exercising their rights and daring the record companies to stop them. They complain that the labels in some cases are not responding to termination rights notices and predict that once 2013 arrives, a conflict that is now mostly hidden from view is likely to erupt in public.

“Right now this is kind of like a game of chicken, but with a shot clock,” said Casey Rae-Hunter, deputy director of the Future of Music Coalition, which advocates for musicians and consumers. “Everyone is adopting a wait-and-see posture. But that can only be maintained for so long, because the clock is ticking.”

Original article posted HERE

Wednesday, August 17, 2011



Yes are one of the most influential and ground-breaking progressive rock `n' roll bands and have been a dominant force for more than four decades. Their symphonic use of sound and innovative musical style has made each of the group's players virtuosos in their own right.

In any band you run the risk of band politics, and with a gaggle of virtuosos, you're bound to hear drama (pun intended), and Yes has had their share over the years. Most recently, the politics have led to the exits of singer Jon Anderson and inauguration of singer Benoit David. The new lineup signed a worldwide recording deal with the Italian-based record label, Frontiers Records, for their 21st studio release, Fly From Here.

With Drama-era singer Trevor Horn producing (producer on the successful 90125 and Big Generator albums), "Fly From Here" encompasses Yes' signature brand of mysticism and grand-scale compositions, maintaining a complex, symphonic sound that features the beautiful harmonies and strong heavy riffs that have become their trademark. Horn also collaborated with the songwriting and brought former Buggles and Yes partner Geoff Downes on keyboards, recreating the creative environment of the Drama album.

The music is solid and Trevor Horn's production is outstanding, and David's voice, while not Jon's, finds its own place within the band. Squire, Howe and White play in their usual melodic vein, and while Geoff Downes may not have the flamboyance of Wakeman, his sense of melody, harmonics and dynamics is excellent.

Fly From Here has a sound that hints at various incarnations of the band, and as a result sounds fresh. Although the album does not achieve the musical heights of the Fragile era, it delivers a sturdy set of quality songs that comprise a thoughtful, consistent offering that I did not expect to be as good as it is.

The Fly From Here suite (based on the Drama-era song Fly From Here) is as solidly progressive as anything produced by the band in the last couple of decades, and all of the themes in the Overture are revisited throughout the suite and the lyrics about aviation and relationships make a nice theme to base this musical suite around.

The other songs on the disc are representative of the pop sensibilities of the latter-day reunited Asia, lyrically thoughtful compositions with some gorgeous chord progressions and melodies and a more mature sound than the pop found on 90125.

From start to finish this is a solid album that leaves you wanting more.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I have been meaning to post this since Friday...

Jani Lane, front man of the popular 1980's band Warrant, was found dead in his room at the Comfort Inn hotel in Woodland Hills, California on Thursday, August 11. He was 47.

Born John Kennedy Oswald, in Akron, Ohio, Lane and Warrant rose to fame thanks to the hits "Down Boys," "Sometimes She Cries," and the band's 1989 signature power-balled smash, "Heaven" that reached No.2 on the Billboard charts and went all the way to No.1 on the Rolling Stone charts.

Hits like "Cherry Pie" and "I Saw Red" would follow.

In the thick of the hair metal band craze that ruled the 1980's until the grunge movement of the 90s took over, Warrant packed stadiums all over the world and lived the dream of every kid that ever picked up a guitar or started a band.

Lane, who played guitar, piano and drums, was also far more skilled behind the mic than people realized as he penned the bulk of the band's songs and was clearly the driving creative force behind Warrant.

Sadly, friends, family and fans may never know what the cause of Lane's death was as the initial autopsy test conducted on Friday was deemed inconclusive.

Jani Lane left an enduring body of work that fans will always remember.

R.I.P. Jani.

Sunday, August 14, 2011



A project that involves the teaming up of Stevie Ray Vaughan's rhythm section and members of Hendrix's Band of Gypsies, along with former Black Oak Arkansas guitarist Rocky Athas is interesting, to say the least. I'd not heard of this CD, but it came up while doing a search on Amazon and got me curious. Buddy Miles has certainly seen his ups and downs, but he was back riding high with the release of  Blues Berries.

With Buddy Miles at the helm, Blues Berries wasted no time bringing soulful Blues/Rock into the 21st century with a vengeance. Buddy's timeless crooning is backed by an unusually tight band. Rocky Athas is a strong axe man with tasty solos and a unique rhythm style reminiscent of Stevie Ray and Robin Trower, and on Hammond organ, Mark Leach is superb. Last but not least what can you say about Tommy Shannon and Chris Leyton of Double Trouble as the foundation all of this is built upon?

The disc is loaded with the rock, funk and soul stew that Buddy is famous for, with a taste of Louisiana, and an acoustic stopover on the way to kicking dirt and attitude around over the course of these songs, all woven together in a B-3 keyboard tapestry. The guitars are unmistakably Texas Blues with a rock 'n roll flare. It's hard to pick a favorite track on this one, and in the end, it all boils down to a great album from a band of gypsies who met at the crossroads at the top of their game. We, the listeners, win.

These clips are not from the CD (could not find any)-but they give you a feel for Buddy's style of music.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011



After signing to Frontiers Records, blues rockers Great White come back with their 11th studio album entitled Rising, a no-holds- barred, all original LP that is among their strongest releases to date. Their second studio recording in 10 years features 11 brilliant new compositions penned by the band.

Stylistically, Rising is very similar to their comeback album (2007's Back to the Rhythm), and finds the band emphasizing their laid-back, bluesy side rather than the kind of hard charging party rock that they built their reputation on in the 1980's. I love those 80's albums, but there's just something about this band's later sound that I find much more interesting.

There are a few rockers on Rising, like "Danger Zone", and "Shine" and "Loveless," but overall this is a pretty mellow album. The band seems comfortable and confident, and the result is a very mature, well written album. Melodic, moving songs like "I Don't Mind" and "Loveless" are as good as anything the band has recorded in a long time, and there are several other memorable songs on Rising that showcase Great White's knack for blues-based rock & roll.

They've been at this for more than 25 years, and have aged well. Great White fans that have stuck with the band over the years and have come to love their bluesy side should enjoy Rising. If you're looking for 80's nostalgia, this may not be for you.




Sunday, August 7, 2011



This album is a brilliant collaboration from Ray Manzarek, co-founder and keyboardist of The Doors, and Roy Rogers, world renowned slide guitar master and Grammy winning producer.

Finding inspiration at the crossroads where the blues meets rock `n' roll, Translucent Blues is a hard driving, blues, rock and jazz inflected effort.

This record bristles with soul, intensity and creative energy, featuring multi-layered arrangements, solid driving grooves and stylistic depth. Literate minded lyric contributions from the likes of Warren Zevon and Jim Carroll does not hurt, either.

Manzarek seems to make musical references to The Doors (on songs like New Dodge City Blues and Fives and Ones, a blues song with a traditional subject of having a roll of bills in your pocket) and Manzarek's post Doors career as well. There's even a touch of jazz in there.

Neither Rogers nor Manzarek are going to be noted for having the voice of an angel, and sometimes Manzarek pushes his vocal abilities a little too far, but both have the rough-hewn voices of old blues men.

Despite the title, this CD is mostly uptempo, goodtime blues with Manzarek taking lead role on the more rock oriented songs and Rogers with the more traditional blues songs.

Rogers' guitar strikes a balance between being out in front and delivering a counterpoint to Manzarek's distinctive keyboard style.

Both men are accomplished musicians, and the album sets the proverbial bar at a new height.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Since I just saw Styx open for Yes on 8/2, and since my review of their latest, Regeneration Volume II, is not quite ready, I thought I'd reprint this post from The Comet.

Styx’ Tommy Shaw, who recently released “The Great Divide” – his critically acclaimed solo album and bluegrass debut, blogs about rediscovering the joy of listening to vinyl albums. Nothing can match the ritual of just focusing on music, especially in today’s mad tech world. Tommy learns to put his iPhone down.

A couple of years ago my friend Mike Mettler (editor of Sound and Vision Magazine) and I got into a discussion about vinyl and the fact that I was missing out by not owning a turntable and spinning it at home.

It began a nudging campaign that ended only when I surrendered, but in doing so I asked if he’d help me figure out what to get. After all, except for a little1960s era portable record player I found at a yard sale in the early 90s, I hadn’t owned a serious turntable, dedicated stereo amp and speakers since I moved from a big farmhouse in Michigan to a New York apartment in 1985. That one was a Technics turntable, Luxman preamp, Yamaha NS 1000 speakers and a pair of Crown DC300A power amps to power them and the big subs they sat upon. It was a monster. Usually set on “STUN” you’d swear your skin looked better after standing in front of those speakers and listening to a couple of sides.

But that was then. I was now in the process of the final writing process for “The Great Divide,” my recently released Bluegrass album that I had been sneaking up on for a few years. The plan all along was to have a simultaneous vinyl release, so it only made sense that I’d need to get set up at the very least to be able to approve my own disc.

But I needed help because I knew a lot had to have changed in the high-end audio world so Mike made a few suggestions and pointed me in the right direction, and when we were done I ended up with a sweet home stereo that’s a mixture of old technology and the latest and greatest. A belt driven turntable and more compact high-end desktop speakers powered by a beastly HK990 with a massive volume control knob. It’s a beauty. And it’s not the amp and speakers we use when we watch movies (those never sound right to me in stereo mode).

It arrived in phases – speakers first, turntable second and amp third. Assembly of the turntable’s anti-skid device almost baffled me, but I was able to get it done without destroying any of the delicate parts.

To celebrate my reintroduction to the wonderful world of music on vinyl, Mike sent me some discs to listen to, including a 180 gram copy of Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” and the first Rolling Stones album, both re-releases. When I fired up the HK990 and I set the tone arm down on side one of the Neil Young album, well, there it was, that sound of needle touching vinyl, followed by a glorious panorama of sound. Subtleties and frequencies filled the room and I realized I was in the middle of that familiar ritual.

Whether you are rediscovering it or discovering it for the first time, it’s that pleasant surprise, what happens to you when you focus your attention on something that pays back immediately. All other subconscious doodling and subliminal multitasking goes silent. Combine that with the rich sound of the music and the net result is joy. It takes a while for it to sink in. Washing dishes by hand or washing your car by hand are similar in that you have to focus on this simple thing and you get immediate results there too.

But this could never be mistaken as a chore. Now add the aural aspect of it and you start to realize something good is happening to you. You really don’t even need to understand that you are suddenly hearing all the frequencies that have been slowly filtered out since the dawning of the MP3 in order to make the files smaller. That’s really just blah blah blah. Stop analyzing and enjoy it!

Back in the late 70s I would smoke a joint before I spun vinyl, but since I gave that up last century, it’s now easy to see that it really was not needed to unlock this beautiful door.

I have begun to build a new record collection (yes I also left all my albums behind when I moved to NYC). I live just up the hill from an incredible record store called Amoeba down on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. They have thousands of albums, old, new and reissued. What’s encouraging is to see the constant lines at the checkout gauntlet. Not just crusty Classic Rockers reliving their glory days, but what seems like a disproportionate amount of buyers who were born after CDs pushed vinyl off the shelves as the digital age was ushered in.

And because I travel so much I also like to purchase online and have that box waiting for me when I return home. It is what it is – a beautiful thing.

The more I listen to music on vinyl, the more I realize what a personal gift it is to take the time to do it.

I’m so connected to my iPhone it’s borderline dysfunctional. It has become a portable workspace and entertainment portal, but it also feels sometimes like it used to when I smoked cigarettes. When you smoke there are really only a few cigarettes per day that are actually enjoyable. For example, the one after a meal, when you’re on the phone, and in social situations. The others you smoke habitually to feed the nicotine addiction. That’s the iPhone for me sometimes. Turning it on and finding something to focus on at the hint of a moment where I might otherwise decide to just be.

When I listen to an album, I just naturally put the friggin’ thing down and walk away from it. Ahhh…

I don’t know if you are a Robert Plant fan, but I’ve really been enjoying his two most recent albums, the earlier one “Raising Sand,” the Grammy-winner with Alison Krauss and the most recent one all Plant. These ain’t pop records nor are they trying to be, it’s purely the guy who, when he took similar song ideas to Jimmy Page and his other band mates, together they turned them into massive rock songs. They are musical dreamscapes of self expression and if I still smoked pot, I’d probably still be out there spinning them over and over drifting off to some astral plane, possibly never to return to make my actual flight to the next STYX gig.

But it’s not just reissues, there are plenty of new releases by new and soon to be classic albums by current artists. Adele‘s “21” on vinyl sounds so good it makes you want to invite friends over for a spontaneous house party. Still waiting to spin Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Back” that I didn’t have the chance to hear before heading out of town. I’ve just about worn out Mumford and Sons on vinyl. Maybe I’ll do a playlist sometimes in case someone reading is looking for recommendations. Mike is my guru –he’s got a wicked knack for the best of the past and present. Good is good.

Thing is, there is so much music on vinyl out there, old, reissued, or new, that almost anything you want is available now. Even more impressive to me is the fact that nobody is making a fortune these days releasing on vinyl. They probably don’t even recoup the costs of producing it, but artists want it and are willing to absorb the costs to make it available to themselves and like-minded listeners. Next time you see a band performing on Letterman see what he holds up when he announces them – chances are it’s 12"x12”.

I have tons of MP3s on my iPhone and laptop, and I’ll continue to have that be my portable music source.

But the vinyl ritual requires disconnecting from the daily schedule and selfishly connecting to music, hands on, and it affects me in a way that 1s and 0s on a smart phone while you’re simultaneously doing several other tasks doesn’t.

Sitting back listening to music playing ambiently in a room with all its acoustic artifacts, knowing that in a few minutes you’ll be gently reminded by that subtle little popping sound to flip the disc to the other side if you wish to hear the whole thing, means you have to be involved.

Reading the lyrics and liner notes connects you to the artist and the 12”x12” cover let’s you enjoy the cover as a piece of art in a more friendly tactile experience.

But don’t take my word. Check it out and let me hear from you on my Facebook page, tsgreatdivide.

Happy spinning!


Way to go, Tommy!
I've been back into vinyl for a few years, now-right after Dan Fogelberg died, I wanted a copy of one of his albums, but the then-out-of-print CD was getting $50, but I picked up the vinyl for $1.99.
I still love the CD, and you can't beat an MP3 for portability (try bicycling with a portable record player), but still make time every week for some vinyl listening.
Some genres do not work as well-the latest Spock's Bear release is spread over two vinyl discs-it's just easier to listen to the CD. But I still love the sound of my thrity-six year-old copy of Born To Run, and Robert Johnson on wax just seems right.
The moral of the story? Put down yer iPod, pick up yer records, and turn it up to ELEVEN!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011



I was browsing the blues aisle in Zia Records over Fourth Of July weekend and saw this disc, and while I was reading the back cover, two people stopped to tell me how good this disc was.

For $7.99, I thought I'd give it a try.

Jimmy Rogers was a guitarist in Muddy Waters' classic lineup, which also included harpist Little Walter and bassists Big Crawford or Willie Dixon.

Matching the acumen of the "old timers" with the flash and commercial muscle of the upstarts, Jimmy Rogers holed up in the studio with rock icons like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton (among others) to create what would be the late singer-guitarist's swan song, Blues Blues Blues. With other rock-era titans (Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Stephen Stills) and a few blues stalwarts (Jeff Healey, Taj Mahal) along to lend support, this record is a star-studded sendoff to one of the blues' noble patriarchs

Over the years, I have seen many collaborations between blus artists and rock musicians, and many times have found it preferable to stick to the original blues recordings.

Credited to the Jimmy Rogers' All Stars, Blues Blues Blues doesn't disappoint at all, with strong rhythms, solid performances and excellent production values.

The blues classics are laid on a British rock foundation, but it does not veer altogether too much into the rock territory, striking a nice balance between blues and rock. The rock power is there, but this is unmistakably blues.

Excellent piano and harp add to solid guitar work, avoiding the cliché of a guitar shoot-out. Produer John Koenig opts instead to have the guitars provide a pleasant, easy-to-listen backing without taking over the songs.

One thing I noticed-the guitar in "Goin' Away Baby" sounds an awful lot like Mr. Petty lifted it for "Jefferson Jericho Blues" on the Mojo album!

I think my friend Stephen T. would label this as a great CD for driving, and I could see where you would avoid highway hypnosis with this disc on. There's a little something for everyone here-fans of classic and British rock, country rock, blues purists and blues newcomers will all find something to listen to here.

I don't think you can go wrong with this disc. At $7.99, it was a steal.