Monday, October 31, 2011



Many die hard fans of Blue Oyster cult thought that their breakthrough album, Agents of Fortune, with it's hit single (reaching 12), "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," was due to the band's selling out.

And while there is no question that this album was more mainstream than its predecessors, in the summer of 1977, Blue Oyster Cult found itself in one of the trickiest situations for a rock band: recording the follow-up to a breakthrough hit.

By comparison, the follow-up album, Spectres, was only a modest success, reaching 43, although it does capture BOC at a high point in the band's career.

While there wasn't a "Reaper" on Spectres, there were crowd-pleasers like "Godzilla," stompers like "R.U. Ready 2 Rock" and the hooky, pop-flavored "Goin' Through the Motions," co-written with Ian Hunter.

Clearly, Blue Oyster Cult decided that "if it was worth doing, it was worth overdoing," resulting in a "wall-of-sound" production style as the band layered it on like never before.

And it worked. While I like many of the songs on the earlier BOC albums, Spectres benefits from the more polished commercial sound. This is my favorite BOC album, and there really isn't a bad song on it.

The reissued CD includes bonus tracks discovered when the original tapes were dug out for the reissue. A cover of 'Be My Baby' was from the pre-production sessions and the other bonus tracks, "Night Flyer," "Dial M For Murder" and "Please Hold" were leftovers.

I think I wore out a couple of vinyl copies of this album, and went on to buy the CD release and this reissue. Essential for all BOC fans (yes, even the fans of the early albums) and for fans of straight ahead seventies rock, this is an excellent album, well-produced with great songs and a band in their prime.


Thursday, October 27, 2011



I just read a quote from Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, who states that Meddle is the definitive Pink Floyd work.

David Gilmour himself once remarked that Meddle was Pink Floyd's first true album.

Meddle is widely regarded as Pink Floyd’s first concept album, introducing the idea of a theme that can be returned to. The 1971 album features the seminal track Echoes that filled a complete side of the original vinyl release.

Since I am less familiar with this album than their later works, I decided to pull it off of the shelf and give it some listening time. Now you, my faithful readership, have to live through my audio experience.

From the early pounding of "One Of These Days" to the choir that surrounds "Echoes," I can hear in Meddle the "classic" Pink Floyd sound starting to come together.

Meddle is often dismissed as a "transitional" album due to the massive success of it's follow-up, Dark Side Of The Moon, with 1970s-era psychedelia and galloping jams, long, breathtaking suites revealing strains of late-classical music and colliding sounds if acid-drenched proportions.

Meddle is a musical journey showing off a variety of musical styles. 

The album's final piece,"Echoes," is an epic sonic journey that stands as one of the band's greatest achievements, with every element that would become synonymous with Pink Floyd crystallized in this one phenomenal song: swirling keyboards, liquid guitar lines and floating vocal harmonies. From first to last "ping", this brilliant near-symphony is fantastic, and at 23 minutes, it is one of Floyds greatest achievements. The music is dense, almost orchestral, and the lyrics from Gilmour and Wright are at once depressing and surreal.

Meddle is Pink Floyd no longer searching, but finding itself , far more focused, melodic, and cohesive then anything before it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011



Lori Diamond and collaborator Fred Abatelli discovered each other through MySpace in 2007, clicked from the get-go and have been creating music together ever since.

With influences as disparate as Carole King, Billy Joel, Allison Krauss, and Miles Davis, it only makes sense that their 2011 album, True, is going to be all about the songwriting.

The album certainly delivers-the songs are well-written with wonderful melodies and introspective lyrics that delve into places in the human psyche that we often are not willing to publicly bare. Diamond sings them in an emotional vocal style that suits the material. That emotional openness helps to create a bond between Diamond and the listener.

Soulful vocals are plentiful on the album, as the artists weave an intricate web of gorgeous vocal harmonies over piano-driven arrangements. Lori Diamond’s has a voice is easy to listen to, lush and alluring, and the songs are classic singer/songwriter fare delivered with emotion and honesty. Abatelli’s playing contributes solid finger work and clever phrasing on bass and guitar, providing just the right rhythmic complement.

I thought that some arrangements might have benefitted from a denser arrangement to make the songs more radio friendly, although I can hear songs like “Choosing Peace” or “The Inside” as likely singles (if there still were singles). The overall production is quite good, and the arrangements are beautiful with top notch musicianship.

But what really stands out? Like I said before, it’s all about the songwriting. Diamond really delivers some gems.

The album is available for download at Amazon, and the CD is available at the artist's site.



Saturday, October 22, 2011


When Peter Framton hits the stage at the Ryman theater tonight, he’ll play a set that millions of people have heard a million times. Frampton will be playing “Frampton Comes Alive,” his monster live album from 1976, note for note, tonight at the Ryman Theater.

After the Ryman show in Nashville, Frampton will take his “Frampton Comes Alive! 35″ tour overseas to play at venues in Spain, Germany, the UK, and Belgium, before returning to North America for shows in Maine, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The “Frampton Comes Alive! 35″ tour celebrates the 35th anniversary of one of the most iconic live albums of all-time. It was the number one album in 1976, and at the time, was the best selling live album ever. (It is currently fourth, according to the Tennessean.)

Wayne Campbell, of Aurora, Illinois, said:

“Exqueese me? Have I seen this one before? “Frampton Comes Alive”? Everybody in the world has “Frampton Comes Alive.” If you lived in the suburbs you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of “Tide”.

The Tennessean reports that Frampton will recreate the iconic album on the Ryman stage, including the 14 minute “Do You Feel Like I Do,” (complete with talk box) before breaking out some Humble Pie selections and cover songs.

Frampton told

“The reviews that I’ve seen from people in the audience on social media are that they love the fact we do ‘Comes Alive!’ and they’re thrilled to get to see it again. But they’re really surprised and blown away by the second set, which in the back of my mind was my goal: ‘OK, this is what you know me for, but this is what I’m doing now and have been doing ever since.’ So it’s really working well, let’s put it that way.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011



Lexington, Kentucky is probably not the first place you think of when looking for a band that embraces the progressive rock genre, yet Dream The Electric Sleep have clearly done that on their debut album, Lost And Gone Forever.

The album, one of the more impressive debuts I’ve heard in a while, clearly pays tribute to the seventies giants, but also tips its hat to more current artists like Radiohead. Two years in the making, this collection of fourteen songs spans more than 75 minutes, with a sonic pallet of melodic crescendo that engages the listener despite averaging well beyond six minutes per song, with every note seemingly in the right place as DTES guide the listener through progressive soundscapes that beg to be listened to from start to finish.

From the songwriting to the the crisp production, this is an album to be savored, a listening experience that should be actively participated, even immersed in, rather than being presented as background music.

The music is beautiful and astonishing with a precise attention to detail without needless technical wizardry, painting a cohesive picture with melodies layered on top of each other emoting varying moods and atmospheres while remaining faithful to the Genesis/Rush/Pink Floyd glory days.

While the golden years of progressive rock are long behind us, sometimes a band comes up with an album so impressive and full of musical integrity and quality of composition that it reminds us all there is more to music than a three-minuteTaylor Swift ditty.

To those who say that progressive rock has reached the end of its road, it appears that DTES have given those of us with time on our hands a record worth donning headphones for.


Monday, October 17, 2011



Move Like This" is the Cars first album since 1987, and while it's been much too long since their last release, it was worth the wait! Aside from bassist Benjamin Orr, who passed away in 2000, all of the original members are back and they sound like they haven't missed a beat.  Certainly the rock album chart debut at #2 supports this.

The album is vintage Cars with Atari-era keyboards, super catchy choruses laced with perky beats, and Ric Ocasek's trademark vocals, along with the signature synth-driven electro pop foundations

Elliott Easton's guitar makes its presence known, and overall the disc recalls of the new wave/pop sound the CARS made famous in the 1980's, capturing their vintage swagger.

While the band isn't breaking any new musical ground with their latest release, this is a finely produced album that fans of their earlier work will love, and is highly recommended!



Thursday, October 13, 2011



It was one of those seminal moments in music history. The 5 Royales had just finished a performance at the Tropicana in Memphis when guitarist Lowman Pauling was approached by a tall young white boy. This was unusual for the time; the only white people who met the band backstage were promoters or record executives.

The young Steve Cropper wanted Lowman to show him how to "make that guitar stomp." In an impromptu performance, the guitarist showed his stuff for Cropper and his best friend, Donald "Duck" Dunn.

Dedicated, the title of Steve Cropper’s latest album, a tribute to The “5” Royales, says it all about the legendary Stax musician’s lifelong devotion to the life transforming power of soul music.

As the original guitarist of Stax Records house band Booker T. & The M.G.'s., Steve Cropper has had a storied career. Voted #36 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time, Cropper has worked with blues legends such as Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and the Blues Brothers Band. In short, he has an impressive resume.

This album, his debut album on 429 Records, features reworked versions of the Royales' most enduring songs, and includes duets with Lucinda Williams, Bettye LaVette, John Popper, and Sharon Jones.

Cropper's guitar is superb throughout, with tight rhythms and unique fills that seem to flow straight from his heart, soulful, rockin', rhythm and blues sounds that take you back to the 1950's.

The album features an amazing set of musicians which includes bassist David Hood (Muscle Shoals sideman), keyboardist Spooner Oldham (Fame Studios sideman and top notch song writer who has also played with Neil Young), Dap-Kings saxman Neal Sugarman, drummer Steve Farone, and drummer Steve Jordan. There's also an all star line up of special guests: Steve Winwood, B.B. King, Shemekia Copeland, Delbert McClinton, and Queen guitarist Brian May).

Cropper's playing is classic, with tight rhythms and unique fills that seem to flow straight from his heart, soulful, rockin', rhythm and blues sounds that take you back to the 1950's.

Upon the completion of Dedicated, Cropper wrote "It's been the most fun I've had making an album in a long time". Pick this up, and I promise you you'll have fun, too!


SAY IT (Live with Bettye LaVette)

Monday, October 10, 2011



n her 2007 album, Bettye enlisted some "dirty south" rockers The Drive By Truckers as her backup band. I must admit to being a little apprehensive of pairing long-time R&B icon LaVette with the Drive-by Truckers, but it worked. LaVette's whiskey-stained voice mixes well with the swampy backing band, all produced by the Truckers' own Patterson Hood.

The end result is a greasy mix of dialed down Southern rock behind inspired and rugged R&B. LaVette's voice infuses the songs with raw emotions, a fierce mix of pride, hurt, resignation, sadness, strength, and humility--traits that make her one of the finest R&B singers of her generation.

With swampy guitars, slippery Wurlitzer piano, and a driving backline, this record conjures up the spirit of great loose 70s bands like the Faces while offering Bettye an urgent, vital setting for her razor-sharp vocals.

Recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL, where she recorded "Child Of The Seventies" in 1972 - a masterpiece that was shelved then released 30 years later. Returning to Muscle Shoals was like returning to the scene of a crime; thus the album title, and the intense, personal music within.

At 61, LaVette is enjoying what would be a career resurgence if her 1972 masterpiece, "Child Of The Seventies," had not been shelved. This record is a great listen-check it out!



Friday, October 7, 2011



The title of the 2007 release from Doc Rogers And The Roc Dodgers echoes a saying I have said many times, although I phrase it as "life's too short to eat bad pizza."

Starting out, we have a sound philosophy.

The album itself straddles the border between country and blues, and the rockabilly neighborhood is not too far a trip.

The lyrics come from the Weird Al Yakovic or Randy Newman school of writing.

Stephen T. McCarthy did a post a while back where he likened Terry Rangno's lyrical style to Jim Stafford (remember Spiders And Snakes and My Girl Bill from the 70's?). Normally I'm not a fan of such albums-they tend to strike me as novelty discs, and does anyone really ever pull out their old Weird Al CD's?

This album holds together better than any novelty album, however, and the lyrical themes from 2007 still hold up in 2011. They are funny, but I'll warn you ther are a little on the conservative side, but so true. To keep this a bipartisan music only post, I won't quote them too much.

"I know them talkin’ heads would never lie to me

I know it’s all the truth, I seen it on TV"

The guitar work is provided by Larry Rosen, who is also featured in Slavin David's band, and gives a nice look at his range-not so much a departure from the more rocking blues of the Rock And Roll Road album, but putting a different spin on those blues riffs.

This is not an album for teenagers, or adults who think Lady GaGa is sophisticated. If you like folksy blues
and intelligent lyrical themes, this is an album for you.

If you want dance pop or "America Rules" anthems, there are plenty other discs out there to choose from, but you way want to listen to this one anyway and cultivate your tastes and your mind.

I couldn't find any clips, but HERE is a link to a page with samples. You can order the disc from CD Baby at this link HERE.

Monday, October 3, 2011



I was late arriving at the Marillion party. Introduced to them verbally at an old friend’s (how ya doing Terry?) wedding in the early nineties, Fish had already left the band by the time I was aware of their existence.

Tom, the friend telling me about them, described them as “sounding like old Genesis,” apparently referring to the Fish years.

The first disc I happened across was Six Of One, Half Dozen Of Another, a compilation that really made the band feel a lot like Genesis, as the early Hogarth songs had similar commercial elements and pop sensibilities to the commercially successful Genesis material.

Brave was the first new release I picked up from Marillion, and for a long time I didn’t get it.

And when I say a long time, I really mean years. Maybe a decade. Maybe more.

This was an album that the "faithful" always raved over, and I just never saw it.
In recent years, I picked up the Brave DVD and returned to the album, playing it repeatedly for more than a month, and it really started to take hold.

This is a complex album that you have to invest time in to really hear it.

Brave is mood music, a dark, somber story of a tortured childhood. Inspired by a news clip about an unidentified young woman found on a bridge alone at night, this is the rarest of concept albums, following its concept from beginning to end.

The storyline has the lead character’s life playing out from one bad moment to the next, from birth to the moment she jumps off the bridge and beyond. It is emotional, dark, and creepy.

The music really suits the storyline, very dynamic, soft and slow one moment and loud as hell and frantic the next. The emotion of the material is intense, and Steve Hogarth's (the singer who replaced Fish) lyrics and singing came of age on this album, giving the band a new identity with the new lineup.

Brave is NOT a pick-me-up. It is, however, a very cohesive piece of art, that, save for one or two missteps, begs to be listened to in one sitting.

Brave is an experience, and you have to listen to it that way. Skipping songs or just listening to the first couple of songs and then shutting it off will not give you a sense of the content, and you’ll be just like I was for years-you won’t “get it.”

Do not buy this album unless you are willing to give it time to sink in. This is a concept albums that does not offer instant gratification-you really have to listen to it. A lot.

The liner notes suggest that you "Play it loud with the lights off", and I concur. In addition, I suggest that you also wear headphones, as there are an awful lot of quiet moments you will miss.

This album can be found in fine indie stores and on Amazon, and I am anticipating some sort of twentieth anniversary release considering the special edition re-releases of other Marillion titles on the Snapper/Madfish label.

I would also suggest checking out the promotional film and the live performance from a fan weekend, both available on DVD at