Monday, January 31, 2011

BRUCE GETS HIS WOODY GUTHRIE ON

Review originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/disc_connected on June 29, 2007



BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN-THE SEEGER SESSIONS

Anyone who has read my review of Def Leppard's "Yeah!" release already knows how I feel about covers albums. This is an album of covers by one songwriter. Guess what my opinion of this concept is?


One saving grace is that The Seeger Sessions follows close on the heels of Devils And Dust, so Bruce did not make us wait three plus years for this. Come to think of it, he has been somewhat prolific of late compared to his earlier years.

The seeds for this album were planted back in 1997 when Bruce contributed a song to a Pete Seeger tribute album. Bruce felt the need to one-up that concept, so he assembled a band and cut this album in three one-day sessions. These songs do go a long way towards capturing the breadth of American song, and the embodiment of folk's evolution.

This is not a bad album, and although it won't stay in rotation in my CD player as long as it may deserve, is does show Bruce aging gracefully and perhaps being passed the baton as the voice of American folk.

Sadly, Bruce has also taken to preaching his Socialist politics at concerts, which alienates those of us in his audience who do not share his view and just want to hear him play. Sorry Bruce, but when you rant against those nasty rich people-from where I'm sitting, you're one of 'em!

In 2007, Bruce released a double live disc (and DVD) of the Seeger Sessions band (in Dublin), performing tracks off the album and Springsteen originals rearranged to suit this lineup. A good souvenir of the live shows, and a good companion piece to a good album. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that rumoured E Street Band album coming later in the year...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

TEST DRIVE THE NEW CARS

Review originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/disc_connected on June 30, 2007



The first Cars concert in two decades took place in front of an invite-only audience in January in Burbank, California. Several tracks from that show are the centerpiece of the New Cars album, "It's Alive," from Eleven Seven Music. The disc also features three new tracks, "Not Tonight," "Warm," and "More."


But who are these New Cars, who are playing those songs that bring up eighties memories, and who is this guy who sounds so much like Ric Ocasek?

From the suburbs of Philadelphia, Todd Rundgren has enjoyed a prolific and sometimes successfully career as a musician and producer, among other things. Members of Rundgren's loyal following (I admit it-I am one) will not show any surprise at Rundgren's often chameleon-like musical ability-just look at Utopia's 'Deface The Music' and his solo 'Faithful' albums for proof.

When Ric Ocasek declined to be part of a reunion, Cars guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes drafted Rundgren to front the band. Longtime Rundgren affiliates Kasim Sulton (singer/bassist in Utopia and on countless Rundgren and Meat Loaf tours) and Tubes drummer Prairie Prince (also a face on many recent Rundgren outings) round out the lineup.

The live songs effectively mimic the Cars original sound with a Rundgren twist-of particular quality is Kasim Sulton's lead vocal on 'Drive,' which was originally recorded by Benjamin Orr.

Of the new songs, 'Not Tonight' achieves the Cars sound, while the other two songs ('Warm' and 'More") would sound at home on any Rundgren disc. The new material suggests the New Cars could be a worthy vehicle for Rundgren's polished pop instincts should the group stick together beyond summer touring.

Overall, a must have for Cars or Rundgren fans, or a good tour souvenir if you attended their summer tour with Blondie.





Saturday, January 29, 2011

NOW THAT WE'RE OLDER IT'S MORE COMPLEX

Review originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/disc_connected on June 30, 2007


My first listen to the debut album from The Peace Creeps, "Autumn Of Love" was like a reunion with an old college friend. I wore out the grooves on the A's albums back in the day, and listening Richard Bush's vocals on the lead track, "Bulletproof," felt like two old friends picking up where they left off.


As the album progresses, the Creeps develop into a very different sound from the A's, as the music successfully blends elements from the last few decades. I hear British Invasion (Beatles, The Kinks, and Rolling Stones) and American rockers (Byrds, Big Star, Hendrix) all shaken together (not stirred) with a contemporary sound.

The Peace Creeps have arrived with fourteen tales of the human condition. A quarter century ago, Richard Bush sang "Life was so simple when we were kids. Now that we're older it's more complex". "Autumn Of Love" builds on that thought.

This album is definitely worthy of being added to your collection-pick it up at CD Baby (http://cdbaby.com/cd/peacecreeps)

Friday, January 28, 2011

TURN THE PAGE

Bob Seger has announced that he will to head out on a U.S tour in March, his first for almost five years, reports Billboard.com.

Seger also promised a "forthcoming, as yet untitled new release" which is expected to hit shelves shortly before the new shows get underway.

Seger said he plans to announce further details of the concerts in the near future and in the meantime he posted a 42-second teaser clip on his official website that features archival photographs with the caption, 'On Tour, Coming To a City Near You!'

The 65-year-old announced plans to return to the live circuit during a radio interview in Detroit last May, however, a fall tour was subsequently withdrawn after the singer decided to spend more time recording new material. He will once again tour with his Silver Bullett Band and the complete line-up began rehearsing last week.



Seger's last tour to promote album 'Face the Promise' contained 50 shows and fans of the singer-songwriter will be hoping for a similarly lengthy list of dates. In 2009, the 65-year-old released the retrospective album 'Early Seger Vol. 1'


THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED


Gregg Allman has lived through drug addiction, Hepatitis C, marriage to Cher and a liver transplant. He has also been making records both solo and with the Allman Brothers since 1969, but this is his first album of blues covers, and the material suits him. "Low Country Blues" is his first solo album in 14 years and was produced by T Bone Burnett. The album features 11 covers of songs from legendary bluesmen Muddy Waters, Otis Rush and B.B. King (among others), with one original song written by Gregg and the Allman Brothers' Warren Haynes. Gregg's backing band on the album includes Dr. John on piano and Doyle Bramhall II on guitar.


I have heard some people complain that T-Bone Burnett is too heavy-handed when producing, but I do not hear that. Burnett is a master at capturing the "roots" sound, and while I can hear a definite Burnett influence on the record (a rootsy yet unobtrusive element), it does not take away from the performance. Allman's voice and piano playing fit the blues like an old glove-smooth and natural. Production is excellent, Gregg's voice is in top form and the choice of musicians is top notch.

Back in the day, Gregg and Duane set the bar for revitalizing the blues and presenting them in a new a creative way. On this release, Gregg gets back to the music that influenced him all those years ago. All in all, a fine release from a rock legend.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

GUESS THAT'S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES


Joanne Shaw Taylor is an original, with guitar playing full of energy, poetry and soulful blues licks. She is the real deal.

On 'Diamonds In The Dirt', her second CD, Taylor is on fire with a collection of songs expressing her hopes and fears forged from crash and burn experiences on her journey through life since her widely acclaimed debut album (White Sugar).


Her deep smoky vocals are like the calm before the storm that is a whirlwind from her scorching Fender Telecaster. The sound on this album is heavier than on the debut, but the album delivers on the hype and expectations surrounding her sophomore release. Her guitar style is somewhat reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughn, and her riffs have the drive and power of hard rock. This album is a winner.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WEST COAST PSYCHEDELIA MEETS VOODOO FUNK


7 Walkers formed out of informal collaborations between Bill Kreutzmann (ex-Grateful Dead), New Orleans bass man George Porter, Jr, and Papa Mali (ex-Killer Bees). The style is somewhat of a fusion of Bay area jam-rock with greasy New Orleans rhythm and blues and Texas blues. Or as Kreutzmann says, "swampadelic."


The band plays loose and rootsy in a manner that will appeal to jam band fans (Deadheads take note), and if Kreutzmann in the mix were not enough of a selling point, the lyrics were written by a gentleman named Robert Hunter. There's even a guest vocal appearance by Willie Nelson on "King Cotton Blues."

Mali's vocals are in the Tom Waits/Louis Armstrong/Muddy Waters vein, and suit the music well. 7 Walkers is organic and original music that goes for the creative jugular. Full of imaginative lyrics and music that blends quite a few styles, but amid all of the undercurrents, manages to coalesce into something new.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CHICKENFOOT TO ENTER THE STUDIO THIS MONTH


Chickenfoot are set to enter the studio on January 29 to begin work on their next album. Speaking to Rich Rogenmoser of Rich’s Music Exchange at the recently-completed NAMM trade show, bassist Michael Anthony said the band also will “hopefully” tour later this year. “If people want to hear it, we’re out there to play it,” Anthony said. The bassist was asked if playing in Chickenfoot was still fun for him. “Oh, yeah,” he responded. “At this point in my life and career, I won’t do it unless it’s fun. One of the great things … is that I can do what I love to do. The other guys in Chickenfoot feel the same way.”


Anthony did not address the issue of who would fill in for drummer Chad Smith, should Chickenfoot indeed go on tour. It is presumed that Smith’s obligations to the Red Hot Chili Peppers will take precedent over any road plans for Chickenfoot.

http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/News/chickenfoot-0121-2011/

SAME OLD SONG


Regeneration is not the first Styx album without founding member Dennis DeYoung, but it is the first album where they make an attempt at covering songs written by and originally sung by the former frontman.

This may turn off some long-time fans, but the infusion of Lawrence Gowan and Ricky Phillips have revived the energy and mojo that caused Rolling Stone magazine readers to crown Styx "the Best Band in the World" in 1981.


Regeneration is a seven song EP containing six re-recorded STYX classics and one brand new track, "Difference In The World".

While it is a bit disappointing that there is only one new song, the re-recording of two Denis DeYoung originals with Gowan vocals ("Grand Illusion" and "Come Sail Away") are welcome (no disrespect to Dennis) for the different spin-we also get JY's take on Lorelei.

Not sure why we needed to get Tommy doing new versions of his songs, but they're not bad, although new material would have been better.

The Grand Illusion
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Lorelei
Sing For The Day
Crystal Ball
Come Sail Away
Difference In The World

This is a return to what made the band work early on-their sound has evolved along with the personnel changes, but they remain true to the roots of the group. Full of excessively filigreed keyboard and guitar passages and the anthemic choruses that made the band a household name in the late seventies, Regeneration proves that Styx have more than enough musical vitality to transcend their peers on the casino and county fair circuit. It's a bit pricey at $15 for only seven songs, but a necessary addition to a completist's collection.

Available at shows and at http://www.styxwrld.com/

Monday, January 24, 2011

NOBODY MOVE OR THE MUSIC BLOGGER GETS IT!


I decided to approach this top ten list by imposing some restrictions on myself, with apologies to Alex if that violates the "spirit" of his blogging event. I had what I believe is a good reason for doing so.


For anyone who has even visited my blog over the past eight months or so, it should come as no surprise that if you held a gun to my head and told me to name my favorite songs, they would all be songs by Todd Rundgren.

I'll prove it to you right now. I am holding a nickel-plated revolver to my head RIGHT NOW and will blow my brains out if I do not list my ten favorite songs.

I’m serious-if I don’t come up with ten songs, the gun goes off. Stay back-I’ll do it!

While it is hard to type with my left hand, here goes nothing:

Parallel Lines
Just One Victory
I'm Looking At You But I'm Talking To Myself (Utopia)
Compassion
Bread
Love Is The Answer (Utopia)
Only Human (Utopia)
Love Of The Common Man
We Gotta Get You A Woman
Courage

Okay, we can all relax now-I've put the gun away.

This should please the ferret-faced-fascist dude-he thought I was cheating by posting the list that follows. But if I didn’t, you’d be done with my blog and off to number #103 by now (assuming someone entered this event after me).



For me, the only surprise in the list above is that "Hello It's Me" is not on there. I have probably spent one third of my waking hours between 1977 and 2011 listening to Todd Rundgren’s music, and those songs up there get the most rotation.

But I figure if I just stop there, this list is not really of much interest to those legions who follow my blog.

Okay, under twenty followers does not a legion make, but you get my point. You all EXPECT my list to be all Todd Rundgren songs, and most of you don't really remember him if you've heard of him at all!

A few years ago, I read a book by John Sanford. While I forget the title (it's in his "Prey" series), a friend lent it to me because of this "subplot."

In the book, the lead character's wife gives him an iPod. While the iPod can hold thousands of songs, the character decides he needs to demonstrate discipline and self-restraint, and decides to come up with his "100 best songs" to load onto the device. Then throughout the book, as they investigate a string of grisly murders, there is some hilarious dialogue as they debate what artists and songs should be on the list.

I have been working on my list since reading that book, with the ultimate goal being 100 songs I would never fast forward through no matter what. It is still a work in progress, as there are many songs that I do not think will make the final cut.

Of course, I may not live to see the final cut. I could see spending another 25 years on this. And be enjoying every moment!

I have an insanely large music collection, in fact, some may call me obsessive or addicted. As a result, my favorite songs change almost daily.



my collection-this is only part of the room...

To be given less than a week to prepare a ten favorites list was an impossible task, but it was worth a try to see if I could name the ten "best" of my 100 song playlist. (I say less than a week because I could not see the alert for this event on Alex's blog due to his background color-Stephen T. McCarthy mentioned this to me).

But like the character in the book, I decided to impose a little discipline on myself. Here are my self-imposed rules:

(1) Avoid song duplication from prior lists

(2) The first song is the exception to rule # 1

(3) Go for songs that represent “perfect singles”-ones that I would never hit fast forward or change the radio station on.

Still, coming up with just ten is hard. I have been working on my perfect one hundred for some time, so to weed out eighty or ninety is tough.



But a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, so here is the list as of today. I cannot promise I'd name the same ten tomorrow, although you could probably lay your last farthing on number one and come up a winner.

These are not necessarily my favorites, right? We've established that my favorites are all by Todd Rundgren. But these are all songs that I think are “perfect singles,” so they are certainly among my favorites.

Parallel Lines-Todd Rundgren

"Some things never come together parallel lines running on forever
And you can't turn back, there is never any starting over
Parallel lines never do cross over"



Anyone who has read my earlier lists-we did desert island discs, drinking songs, driving songs, love songs, breakup songs-did I miss any?-should not be surprised by this, nor that it's number one. I think it made every other list, including "chain gang songs" and "songs to rumble to." Hands down, my favorite song. "Nuff said.

 
No Matter What-Badfinger


"No matter what you are
I will always be with you
Doesn't matter what you do girl
Ooh girl want you "



This may very well be the perfect pop song, IMHO. Catchy melody, hooks you right away. I dare ya ta listen to it and not hum it all day!

 
I Want You Back-The Jackson Five


"Every street you walk down I leave tear stains on the ground
Following the girl I didn't even want around"



Another pop gem, this from the first album I ever purchased way back when I was a yewt. Some sixteen thousand titles later (counting records and CD's currently under my roof-only God knows how many have passed through my hands, and He's probably asking himself what he has wrought), it's still a fine example of Motown genius. Sadly, Michael self-destructed and died at an all-too-young age.

Graham Parker also did a note-for-note cover that was pretty good.

 
Salt In My Tears-Martin Briley


"I'll sit around and drink a few more beers
Until the memory just disappears
'Cos you ain't worth the salt in my tears"



No one seems to remember this but me. The opening guitar riff has "hit single" written all over it, and the title line hooks you right away-"you ain't worth the salt in my tears!"

I remember we'd be drinking and come up with other things the girl in the song wasn't worth-the only printable one being "you ain't worth the foam on my beer."

This was finally reissued on CD last year-as a pricey import, but far better than getting scalped for the $100 the original disc was fetching.

 
Always There For You-Stryper


"When the world has closed the door
And you can't go on anymore
I'm always there for you"



Stryper was the first Christian band I was willing to put on my turntable and listen to, mainly because they were savvy enough to make their song lyrics secular enough to get radio and MTV play.

I heard “Honestly” and fell in love with it, but this song, from their subsequent album, was simply a perfect radio single, even though I never heard it on the radio. It did get heavy MTV rotation, however, which was sort of the same thing (only different).

 
Lawyers Guns And Money- Warren Zevon


“I’m hiding in Honduras, I’m a desperate man
Send lawyers guns and money-the shit has hit the fan”



Not Warren’s best lyric, but a great rocker that should have been a hit, from his most commercially successful album, Exciteable Boy.

So many of his songs should have been hits. And yet, Boy George had a bunch of hits. Who says there's justice in the world?

Not quite a Dylan, but Zevon was a master lyricist. Another talent who left us too soon.

 
The Waiting-Tom Petty


“The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard”



It was so cool being an early Petty fan-for the first two albums he was our own little secret. Most people who saw the cover of the debut album thought it was my friend John. Then Damn The Torpedoes came out and exposed TP to the masses.

There are so many TP songs to pick from, but for a radio single, I always liked this best (neck and neck with Refugee).

 
Wait For Me-Daryl Hall And John Oates


“Wait for me, wait for me
Although I know the light is fading fast”



Another stellar example of the Philadelphia sound-I always thought these guys sounded so close to Todd R. it was uncanny, but since they both were influenced by the Gamble & Huff sound, it makes sense. This song was released right before they began their Top 40 chart assault in the first half of the 1980’s. Sadly, that’s about the same time Todd’s start started to fade for good.

 
When You Close Your Eyes-Night Ranger


“I remember when we learned about love
In the back of a Chevrolet
No good for an old memory to mean so much today”



Most people would pick “Sister Christian” but I always thought this was the better song, also from the Midnight Madness album. Certainly a better song when you’re nineteen, but still a catchy tune that takes me back.

Anyone know why they moved the parking brake to between the front seats? Was it just to hamper a teenager’s moves?

 
Beautiful-Marillion


“Everybody knows we live in a world
Where we give bad names to beautiful things”



One of my favorite bands, they’re progressive, although this song is a radio-friendly ballad. Powerful lyric, too.

This song features Steve Hogarth, who still is referred to as "the new lead singer" after twenty years.
 
So there you have it. Ten songs I never get tired of. I encourage you to go check them out (the links on the song titles will take you to a you tube clip).
 
I look forward to checking out your lists. If you're reading this and did not participate in the blog hop, comment me with your list.
 
If any of these songs brings back any memories, comment with the story.
 
If you want to leave a negative comment, please go to a Stephen T. McCarthy blog and post it there! 
 
I lost bets to him on BOTH football games yesterday, so he's flush and will be in a good mood while reading your spam!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

THE ALBUM THAT CHANGED THE SYSTEM


By now everyone reading this should know how Radiohead released their latest album, "In Rainbows," without being signed to a major label as a download-only album, asking their fans to pay them "what they feel is fair."


Crazy? Maybe not. Radiohead has about a million die-hard fans, many of whom will probably order the limited edition package at forty pounds sterling. Many more will certainly pay at least the suggested price for the downloads (interestingly enough, according to a Billboard article, a couple of artists who have sold their work in a similar manner actually averaged more per unit than their suggested price).

The music is as inspiring as the band's refreshing business model. While many of the songs are sonically sparse when compared to their more guitar-rock oriented work, this stripped down approach makes the material feel more human.

One lyric has Thom Yorke singing "I'd be crazy not to follow/follow where you lead." Musicians are watching to see how this ends financially up for Radiohead and are thinking the same thing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2011 TODD/HEALING SHOWS

STILL TURNING TRICKS...

Review originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/disc_connected on June 30, 2007



It is refreshing to know that in an ever-changing world, Cheap Trick are still able to put out an album full of snappy hooks, hard-driving guitar and Beatles-like vocal harmonies. I am almost tempted to end this review without typing another word.


Over the last ten years, it seems like Cheap Trick kept trying to release concert albums that would recover the magic of their breakthrough 'Live At Budokan' album. Three live albums, two greatest hits collections and one box set were released compared to the two proper album releases, which were excellent efforts but seemed to go unnoticed. Here's hoping that Rockford,' a collection of 12 new Cheap Trick songs gets noticed.

'Welcome To The World' is an energetic opener, immediately followed by the Linda Perry-produced 'Perfect Stranger,' which is also the album's first single (as if there were such a things as singles anymore).

Their bubblegum harmonies and edgy guitars still sound fresh in 2006, yet nothing on the album is as refreshingly retro as 'If It Takes A Lifetime,' arguably one of the strongest tracks recorded by this band in fifteen years.

The following lyric from 'Perfect Stranger' says it all. "I don't need another perfect stranger/Driving me insane/Constantly saying 'it's time for you to change'" Cheap Trick haven't changed, and they don't have to.

Friday, January 21, 2011

SWAMP MUSIC


Combine the fatback guitar tone of Eric Clapton during his Cream days with the slap-back rhythms of the delta, and you’ve got the spontaneous combustion that are the North Mississippi Allstars. On Hernando, their 2008 release, the Allstars get back to basics, revisiting the mean swamp blues that the Dickinson brothers do so well, which should leave longtime fans pleasantly surprised by cohesiveness of this album that only seems to be lacking any weak tracks.


The band's first studio album on their own label, Songs of the South Records finds the Allstars are at their nastiest and best. Named after the town the trio (Luther-guitars, vocals and Cody Dickinson-drums, and bassist Chris Chew) grew up in together, this album ranges from foot-stomping Allstars anthems to Mississippi blues-rock with plenty of middle ground. All in all, this may be the first great album of the Allstars catalogue.

Their new record, Keys To The Kingdom drops early next month.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

FIRST COMMUNION


This is a supergroup in the context of this music scene. Jason Bonham is a groove orientated drummer with great power and finesse. Derek Sherinian is one of the finest keyboard players in the world and Joe Bonamassa is the premiere blues rock guitarist of this generation. Glenn Hughes? We all know his pedigree and talents, so enough said. How could it go wrong?


BCC sounds like you just pulled it out of the 8-Track player of an old 1975 pickup and threw it on top of a stack of contemporaries like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Cream. Producer Kevin Shirley has captured the essence of pure 70s rock with a whole lot of attitude and a healthy dose of musicial self-indulgence.

There are some terrific hard rock moments on here, along with lengthy jams and blues numbers-a little something for everyone. The performances are well-produced-the feel of some tracks almost sounds live in the studio. Definitely worth spending the rent money on this one.

JOE BONAMASSA VISITS THE DUST BOWL

Joe Bonamassa is set to release his 12th full-length solo album, Dust Bowl in the UK on March 21 and in the USA on March 22. The album will be promoted on Bonamassa's forthcoming 2011 Dust Bowl World Tour that will take in America, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia.




Dust Bowl is Bonamassa's 9th studio release on Provogue Records in Europe and his J&R Adventures label (which he created with long-time manager Roy Weisman) in the US and his 6th collaboration with Dust Bowl's producer, Kevin "Caveman" Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Black Crowes, Black Country Communion).

Shirley most recently produced Bonamassa's 2010 release, Black Rock, which entered the UK album chart at #14 and 2010's self-titled debut album from Black Country Communion, the Bonamassa-helmed, British-American rock supergroup with Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath), Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner) and Derek Sherinian (Billy Idol, Dream Theatre). Recorded in sessions at Black Rock Studios in Santorini, Greece, Ben's Studio in Nashville, TN, The Cave in Malibu, CA and The Village in Los Angeles, CA, Dust Bowl combines the gritty, blues-based tones of Bonamassa's first albums with the fluid, genre-defying sounds he's mastered in the years since, plus a dose of Nashville in duets with legends John Hiatt and Vince Gill.

"Dust Bowl," Shirley explains, "is very firmly rooted in the Blues, but definitely explores the outer reaches of the genre and showcases Joe's amazing virtuosity as he digs deep into his psyche in some lengthy and blistering guitar solos." "This is the best album we've ever done," adds Bonamassa. "I'm finding more inspiration in storytelling in my 30s, in writing songs that are about something more profound than 'my baby left me.' I like albums that are made with the right intentions and sound organic and a little rough around the edges, like a great band playing live in the room, and that's what we accomplished with Dust Bowl."

Along with the best of intentions, Dust Bowl benefits from collaborations with the best of Nashville, legends Vince Gill and John Hiatt. Gill lends his signature guitar stylings to the John Hiatt/John Porter-penned "Tennessee Plates," on which Hiatt duets with Bonamassa. Gill also plays on "Sweet Rowena," a song he composed with frequent writing partner Pete Wasner. Arlan Scheirbaum, Beth Hart and Blondie Chaplin play on the Michael Kamen/Tim Curry track "No Love On The Street," and Glenn Hughes sings on the Paul Rodgers-penned "Heartbreaker."

Other standout tracks include Bonamassa originals that showcase his storytelling, such as the album opener "Slow Train," an old-style British Blues song, "Black Lung Heartache," "The Last Matador of Bayonne," "The Whale That Swallowed Jonah" and the title song "Dust Bowl." In support of the album, Bonamassa's Dust Bowl World Tour includes the U.S., Canada and Europe as well as Australia and Asia, including Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Voted "Best Live Act of 2010" by Planet Rock Radio, Bonamassa's mesmerizing concert experience is set to get even better with the infusion of some of his best new music to date.

from www.melodicrock.com

R.I.P. DON KIRSHNER

wsLA Times states: "Don Kirshner, the veteran music mogul who shepherded songs from a monstrously talented stable of young writers to the top of the pop charts in the 1960s, launched the career of the Monkees and then became a familiar face to millions of rock fans as impresario of his late-night music TV series in the 1970s, died Monday of heart failure in Boca Raton, Fla., where he had lived for the last decade, a family spokeswoman said Tuesday. He was 76.


"Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" brought the biggest names in rock and pop music to television in live performances instead of the lip-synced sessions that often characterized rock music on television.

Each week Kirshner, usually dressed in a high-collared leisure suit, dryly introduced acts in his distinctive Bronx accent, including the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sly & the Family Stone, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Barry Manilow, the Eagles, Devo, Prince and countless others over the show's run from 1973 to 1982."

Those in my age bracket will remember that show well, as there was no MTV, so DKRC was pretty much it for music on television. Another part of my childhood dies...

R.I.P. Don

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MORE THAN JUST A CLEVER NAME...


The Holy Goats are Todd McCullough on lead vocals and guitar, Pete Scott's on lead guitar, Steve Crawley on drums and Priscilla Selgas and Rebecca McLelland-Crawley on backing vocals. They sound like the second coming of Bad Company getting shotgun-wed to the Black Crowes, with some Humble Pie and Grand Funk swimming in the gene pool . The Holy Goats prove to be worthy of these comparisons, bringing back the essential ingredients of rock and serving them up with a straight shot of blues. With soul-driven vocals and harmonies added to raw riff rockin' guitars, the Goats kick power blues rock into overdrive, taking the retro rock sound to the next level.


Somehow their debut release was overlooked by the music biz-I am always on the lookout for great new music, and The Holy Goats deliver. Their sound blends rich and soulful vocals, impressive blues-inspired guitar riffs and solos, a tight rhythm section into a 12 pack of great songs that helps you get your hillbilly on. Great musicianship and songwriting-this one leaves you wanting more!

I've had this in the car for a few days, and have not gotten bored with it. If you like good old rock and roll with attitude and want to tap the steering wheel a little harder on the way home, these guys are just what the doctor ordered. Available at CDBaby, as is their follow-up, "Next Round."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

HELL HATH FROZEN OVER




Mr. Big's original members return with their follow up to 2009's highly successful, “Back To Budokan” CD/DVD. "What If," their first studio album in 14 years, was produced by studio vet Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, Rush, Iron Maiden) and is set to drop in early 2011 on Frontiers Records. A world tour will follow in March, launching in South America.

Formed in 1988, Mr. Big forged its place in hard rock history by combining trademark "shredding" musicianship with awesome vocal harmonies. The original line-up – vocalist Eric Martin, guitarist Paul Gilbert, bassist Billy Sheehan, and drummer Pat Torpey. Mr. Big produced numerous hit songs that ranged across a wide array of rock genres – be it ballads, heavy metal, or blues rock. Their biggest hit, "To Be With You," was a Billboard Hot 100 number one single in 15 countries for several weeks in 1991, propelling the band the band to huge international success and record sales in the multi-millions.


Each of the band members is also a reputable virtuoso in the music industry. Billy Sheehan has won dozens of “Best Bass Player” awards in numerous magazines, including an unprecedented 14 years in a row from Player Magazine. Paul Gilbert, recognized as one of the top guitarists of this generation, has released several albums during the long hiatus, and designs guitars for Ibanez. Pat Torpey has been conducting clinics for Tama drums and releasing instructional albums, while Eric Martin has produced 8 solo albums and is recognized as one of the most distinctive voices in the rock world.

So enough with their resume…let's talk about the new album for 2011!

Once the needle drops (figuratively-no vinyl release that I am aware of), you'll find yourself wondering if it's the early ‘90s all over again. "What If" could easily have been the successor to the mega-hit "Lean Into It" from which “To Be with You” was culled. "What If" takes the listener on a raucous ride through an alternate reality of excellent musicianship and great vocal harmonies.  No new ground is broken on this release, but you will find well-crafted songs with Martin's strong vocals, some expert bass playing by Sheehan mixed with plenty of tasty licks by Gilbert all neatly kept in time by top notch drumming from Torpey. Shirley's production work is loose and makes you feel like the whole thing was done live.

This album is a primer in how a band can stay relevant, push boundaries and kick ass without selling out everything that made the band great in the fist place. "What If" is a very solid release from these veteran rockers who have not been present on the U.S. music scene for more than 15 years. Frontiers Records' new distribution deal for these shores may put this release into people’s hands, assuming there are still record stores to stock it in. Sadly, although there are rockers and a ballad that are radio-worthy, radio is brain-dead, so I'm not holding my breath for airplay.

If you are a fan of the band, hell has frozen over, the four original members got back together and this disc is everything long-time Mr. Big fans have hoped for all these years. Melodic rock fans new to the band ought to check it out as well-you just may find yourself scouring the record bins for their earlier material.

Monday, January 17, 2011

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT...



Time to put that ferrett-faced-fascist guy to work!


Yep, that's right, the review for today's CD is the work of none-other than Stephen T. McCarthy, he of the "Stuffs" and "FFFF" blogs.


In a hastily scrawled note on a cocktail napkin (well it was a regular napkin, but cocktail napkin sounds so much cooler), Stephen's ad-hoc review of the new Brian Wilson CD, "Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin" was far better than anything I'd have come up with, due to Stephen's greater interest in the music genre and his greater passion for the artist (BW is to Stephen T. as Todd Rundgren is to me).


So without further fanfare, here, in McDogg's own yakkin' style, is what he had to say:

I hadn't even heard about this.

I knew from a couple of biographies I've read that Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" has indeed always been his favorite songs since he was essentially an infant.

He modeled the Beach Boys on the sound of the Four Freshmen but his big hero was Phil Spector & "Rhapsody In Blue" was the love of his life.

I was a little disappointed in this at first. "Rhapsody" should have been more fully developed. There was no way he was gonna touch Mahalia Jackson's take on "Summertime" not Miles Davis' version on "I Loves You Porgy."

But things really picked up with "I Get Plenty O' Nuttin'" and got fabulous with "It Ain't Necessarily So," and then to turn "S' Wonderful" into a bossa nova piece amid all the typical inventiveness that his genius applies to arrangements in the stuffs that follows…the guy is certainly a national treasure. Best version of "S' Wonderdful" ever!

"They Can't Take That Away From Me" done a la early rock 'n' roll doo-wop-who'd a thunk it? Probably my favorite version of that song, too.

"Our Love Is Here To Stay" still goes to Natalie Cole IMO, and I still don't like "Someone To Watch Over Me."

What's up with that song?

Why is it so danged popular?

It's been covered a million and two times, but there's nothing to it.

The supposed melody is flat and boring, the lyrics are sentimental tripe, and no man should ever sing the line, "I'm a little lamb who's lose in the woods."

WTF?


Postscript-I agree with Stephen that no man should ever sing that line. I've always thought of "Someone To Watch Over Me" as a song to be sung by a woman.
 
Why?
 
Real men do not compare themselves to little lambs. Not even to get a woman into bed. Never. Under any circumstances.
 
Thanks, Stephen, for the note and the permission to post it.

VAN HALEN COMMENCE WORK WITH PRODUCER JOHN SHANKS

Van Halen will formally start work on a new studio album with Grammy Award winning producer John Shanks Monday January 17.

The band will record their first all-new studio album since 1998's Van Halen III and their first with original singer David Lee Roth since 1983's 1984.

There are no further details available about this latest stint in the studio, nor any suggestion of when the band will be finished and anything subsequently released. Manager Irving Azoff is said to be pushing the band to tour, but word is Eddie Van Halen is reluctant to do so without any new material to release.

So while a 2011 tour has been publicly mentioned previously by Azoff, it remains up in the air as to when, or even if a tour will happen this year.

Questions remain about what happened to the much discussed 2010 recording sessions with producer Ross Hogarth. Officially denied, and not likely to ever be addressed, the fact remains the band were in the studio writing and working for much of 2010. Several famous names commented positively about hearing new material during 2010, including Dweezil Zappa & John 5.

Additionally Warner Publishing issued a press release mid-year stating that the band had re-signed to the company, adding that they were (at that stage) in the studio recording.

Additional rumors remain about Warner's desire to release remastered versions of the band's Sammy Hagar fronted albums and there is talk of a career spanning Box Set at some stage - fuelled by news that Warner also reached new publishing agreements with Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth in 2010.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

DEF LEPPARD SAYS "YEAH!"

Review originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/disc_connected on June 30, 2007


Since I first heard of this release, some eighteen months ago, everyone who seemed to have gotten their hands on demos expressed disappointment in the covers album concept. I must admit that my feeling is if a band takes years to complete an album, it ought to be of original songs.


I am a Def Leppard fan, and while I don't hate the album, I do hate the covers album concept. That said, this album is not bad. It is a very 'true to the original' type of tribute release-the songs are faithful reproductions of the original tunes capturing the spirit of the originals rather well. While I don't see it staying in rotation in my player as long as 'X' or "Adrenalize,' it is not a bad listen while we wait for an album of original material

Following are some of my thoughts on the better tracks and a round up of the various bonus tracks available.

The standout track is 'No Matter What' (Badfinger). This track was also included on the "Rock Of Ages" collection. One of the best pop songs ever written given a slight edge.

'Hanging On The Telephone' (Blondie) is one of the few instances where the band may have improved upon the original. This version is polished and the chorus harmonies and lead guitar suit the band's style. And it's just a gutsy song to elect to cover.

'Waterloo Sunset' is a great track -how can you go wrong with The Kinks? The tone and the delivery is near perfect, making this the most 'Leppard' of all the tracks covered.

'Hell Raiser' (Sweet) is a good change in tempo. The album needed a rocker at this point and that's what you get, with added vocals from The Darkness' Justin Hawkins.

'Little Bit Of Love' (Free) was a good choice for the album and a chance for the band to include a good commercial rock track that most will be familiar with. And at least they did not select "All Right Now' or the oft-covered 'Wishing Well.'

My second favorite selection, 'Don't Believe A Word' (Thin Lizzy), is better suited for the band than most of the other tracks, better suited for the album and a classic song. Again, it's refreshing that they did not select a more obvious Thin Lizzy song ('Jailbreak' or 'The Boys Are Back In Town')

The Best Buy and Target bonus editions feature a couple of extra tracks. Best Buy offers up 'Winter Song' and a live version of 'No Matter What.' Target counters with 'When I'm Dead And Gone' and a live version of 'Action.'

Wal-Mart offered a separate bonus CD with interviews and five bonus tracks: 'American Girl,' 'Search & Destroy,' 'Space Oddity,' 'Dear Friends,' and 'Heartbeat.'

Saturday, January 15, 2011

POETS & PORNSTARS (SELF-TITLED INDIE RELEASE)

Review originally posted on http://www.myspace.com/disc_connected on June 28, 2007



Who says rock and roll is dead?


I saw these guys live as the opening act for Tesla and they blew me away. Not just because of Sally Hope, the PYT playing bass-they rocked! So I picked up their EP at the merchandise table.


This is what rock and roll should look and sound like. From the start these guys get your attention-the songs are delivered with a killer groove and constant energy, and the catchy lyrics stick in your head.


The lyrics are really well written, the music itself is brilliantly arranged, and it is hard to pick out a favorite song off of the album.


This album is hard-rockin', freeway drivin' with the top down rock-n-roll- the sound is so ultra-clear and clean that you miss out on some of the raw intensity and dirty-noise that you feel in their live performances. 


Poets and Pornstars' debut is a shot of pure rock and roll adrenaline. If you can't find this EP, look for the major label release.

As I re-post this, both of these CD's are out-of-print and the band broken up. Too bad-this was a good one.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A GOOD EFFORT BUT JUST NOT GIANT


Since their 1989 debut Last of the Runaways, Giant has been one of the most highly regarded bands in the AOR/melodic rock community. Formed by brothers Dann and David Huff, the band released a pair of classic melodic rock albums as the ‘80s came to a close, and then reappeared briefly in 2001 with a new album and some live appearances.


Since then, Dann Huff has become a sought after producer, with Faith Hill and Shania Twain are knocking at his door. As a result, he didn’t have the time to commit to Giant, and the guitarist/vocalist/primary songwriter of the previous three Giant albums is no longer in the band. Giant without Dann Huff is not quite so Giant, even with reknowned vocalist Terry Brock (Strangeways, Seventh Key) filling his shoes for the 2010 release, Promise Land.

This incarnation of Giant features founding members David Huff and Mike Brignardello and Winger guitarist John Roth in addition to Brock whose (Strangeways, Seventh Key). Brock’s presence alone makes Promise Land worth checking out, and having songwriting contributions from Dann Huff does not hurt. While Promise Land is a very solid melodic rock album, with several seasoned veterans of the day involved, something is missing in order to call it Giant..

The songwriting, production, musicianship and vocals are all solid-heck, Brock has one of the better voices in melodic rock, and he turns in a first class performance here, but as good as the album is, it's missing the heart and soul of Giant. David Huff would have been better served starting a new band, because without Dann Huff this just isn’t Giant. For melodic rock fans, definitely worth buying, but for an introduction to Giant, you would do better to seek out the aforementioned "Last Of The Runaways."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BACK TO BASICS

It's a new year, and while I'm a couple weeks late, time for resolutions. Mine is the title of today's post, back to basics.


I've been going through my insanely large CD collection and taking the CD's out of the jewel cases and putting them in little plastic sleeves. This will give me a lot more shelf space and allow me to gets things out of boxes and back onto the shelf, where they'll have a chance of being listened to again.

As a result, I've been revisiting some older CD's and some of those spins are finding their way on to this blog in the form of CD reviews, as well as some more recent acquisitions that deserve attention.

Which was why I started blogging (on My Space back in 2006) to begin with.

My reviews are not the typical critical review-I'm far too lazy to invest that kind of time! I usually try to describe what I think the band sounds like and why I like the disc. Hopefully it gives the reader enough to go seek out sound bytes or a copy of the album if what I say seems remotely interesting.

I actually did turn some people on to new music on that site-while I did not reach millions (I had 4,000 My Space friends, but many were already musicians), I did reach a few.

That's fun.

If just one person gets the same charge I'm getting right now listening to "Pardon Me," the major label debut from Jonathan Tyler And The Northern Lights, well then this is time well spent.

And now, a back to basics review!



The Lewisville blues-rock outfit Jonathan Tyler And The Northern Lights delivers a powerful major-label debut CD, opening with a trio of scorchers (the title track, "Young & Free" and "Young Love") and never really lets up. Think an updated Black Crowes sound that feeds on raw energy. Having already conquered Dallas with their indie collection of Southern rock-meets-classic rock anthems, Pardon Me is the band's formal introduction from Atlantic Records. Sadly, I cannot find a copy of "Hot Trottin," the indie release, at a reasonable price (and I don't do downloads).

The 'Pardon Me' sessions were recorded live in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce (known for his work with Cage The Elephant, John Hiatt, Patty Griffin, Audio Adrenaline, Crowded House) with a focus on giving the songs room to breathe and feel alive. It sounds like the band expended just as much sweat and passion in the studio as they do onstage. This is bluesy groove rock from a great band that just needs some air time and deserves a listen. Great guitar work, and the drummer and bass player create a great groove in a rock-solid rhythm section. In this day of musician wanna-be bands and American Idols, these guys are the real deal, and deserve to be big.

Why? Well everything's big in Texas!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

IT'S GOOD TO HAVE FRIENDS


Veteran singer-songwriter Mark "Moogy" Klingman (who, along with Buzzy Linhart wrote the Bette Midler standard "(You Gotta Have) Friends") was recently diagnosed with cancer. His battle to survive is being fueled with what he knows best: singing and playing keyboards for his band The Peaceniks, in and around New York City.


"The medicine that works best is the music," he told AOL News recently, "and what's happening at the end of this month is probably the best medicine the musical gods could have ordered."

Klingman's referring to two shows he'll be part of Jan. 29 and 30 at the Highline Ballroom in New York City. The concerts will be special, as they will feature a reunited version of the revolutionary early-1970s band that helped put Klingman on the musical map: Todd Rundgren's Utopia.

Rundgren and Klingman were friends back then and together created a unique recording studio, The Secret Sound, in Klingman's midtown Manhattan loft. There, Rundgren crafted some of his most memorable work, including the solo albums "A Wizard, a True Star" and "Todd." He also produced albums there for other artists, including the strange-but-satisfying Hall & Oates exploration, "War Babies."

And it was at the Secret Sound where some of Klingman's friends, a group of tight, seasoned musicians, were brought in to play on Rundgren's solo records. The collaborations resulted in the formation of one of the era's most compelling progressive-rock outfits: Utopia.

The band included, among others over the years, Rundgren on guitar and vocals, Klingman and Ralph Schuckett on keyboards, John Siegler on bass and Kevin Ellman on drums.

Together for just a couple of years, from 1973 to 1975, the group delivered two diverse albums that showcased complex, long-form rock 'n' roll epics sprinkled with many other elements including jazz, funk, fusion and early-era electronica -- all subtly flavored with Rundgren's trademark sparkling pop melodies and punctuated with gusts of his ferocious guitar work.

Utopia gradually disbanded in 1975, and Rundgren went on to form a new edition of Utopia.

But for the sake of their ailing friend, all five original players (along with some special guests) will be coming together for the first time in more than 35 years.

And just how faithful are the Rundgren/Utopia fans after all this time? Both shows sold out within two days, and today, there's a frenzied Internet buzz for spare tickets (and a portion of the gate will go toward paying Klingman's mounting medical bills).

"When Moogy asked me to do this, I knew it was important so I told him I'd be there," Rundgren told AOL News. "He's one of the band's charter members, an old friend -- it was a no-brainer."

Today, Rundgren, is involved in myriad musical projects including several productions, a myrecordfantasy session, musical "survival camp" and a back-by-popular-demand mini-tour featuring stylized reproductions of two his most vaunted albums, "Todd" and "Healing."

Back then, it was Rundgren's inventive star power, whiz-kid dynamism and prodigious musical talents that helped the band soar sonically both onstage and in the studio. Now, he is looking forward to rekindling some of the old Utopia fireworks, even if it's just for two nights.

"We had so much freedom back then with our own studio that we basically would be learning things about music around the clock," Rundgren said. "And the guys in the band are exceptional players, so we all pushed each other. As far as these shows for Moogy, as is the case when you choose to play the older stuff, it has an instant effect on fans because it transports them back to a time when they were younger, when there was a sense of optimism, and when music really mattered in their lives. We musicians benefit from that feeling just as the fans do. But first and foremost, this is about Moogy and so our focus will be on making the shows special for him."

Bassist John Siegler -- who went on to play for Hall & Oates for years before settling in to a successful career scoring for TV and film -- echoed Rundgren's premise. "Totally all about Moogy," he told AOL News. "If it wasn't for Moogy back then, bringing in us, his buddies, to play with Todd, all of our lives would have been very different. Moogy is a catalyst like that, always bringing people together. Given his condition today, we all thought we'd bring ourselves together for him."

Keyboardist Ralph Schuckett -- a renowned veteran session player who has worked scoring productions with Siegler for years -- also remembers Klingman as someone who made things happen. "He had a great energy for helping to crystallize that version of Utopia. And then once Todd started leading the band, we took off. That was the era of groups like Return to Forever and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and we fit right in. Todd gave us all so many chances to express ourselves within that band, and so I have incredible musical memories from that period. And obviously, to come back together for these couple of nights to help our pal Moogy is a total privilege."

"I'm highly motivated to practice," drummer Kevin Ellman told AOL News with a laugh. "That's some highly complex music Utopia played so trust me, I'll be practicing a lot."

Though he does play regularly in various bands, Ellman has a day job running the company he founded, Financial Wealth Preservation (he's also a former CNBC-TV financial analyst). "I lead the best kind of double life," Ellman said, "and I know that our coming together for Moogy will be unforgettable."

Klingman said he is touched by what his Utopia friends are doing for him.

"Look, I'm sick, but not too sick to play," he said. "I plan on beating this disease and like I said, it's the music that makes me feel better than any of the drugs I've been given. It rejuvenates me. And since having Utopia together like this is a dream come true, what could be better?"

TODD RUNDGREN PERFORMING THE TODD & HEALING ALBUMS IN 2011!

The first-ever TODD & HEALING ALBUMS LIVE concerts in September 2010 were a huge success and the reviews were oustanding including many "best ever" from fans that have been going to Todd concerts for decades! A large LED display and lasers were on display throughout the shows with Todd and the band dressed in extravagant costumes. Todd brought out his SG Gibson "The Fool" replica guitar and even performed a few songs while playing the piano. The music was outstanding with an all-star band consisting of Jesse Gress, Greg Hawkes, Prairie Prince, Bobby Strickland, and Kasim Sulton. Local choirs, led by Choir Master Dirk Hillyer, joined Todd and the band during parts of the HEALING set and added a brand new element to the music for fans that had only heard it by listening to the album. The shows closed with the song, "Sons Of 1984" which included fan participation even after Todd and the band left the stage!




2011 Todd & Healing Tour and Events:






3/25: Belding Theater (limited capacity of only 908)
Hartford, CT

3/27: Berklee Performance Center
Boston, MA

3/28: Count Basie Theatre
Red Bank, NJ

3/30: Stranahan Theater
Toledo, OH

4/01: Southern Theatre (limited capacity of only 925)
Columbus, OH

All concerts are being presented by RundgrenRadio.com. Ticket information will be available on the http://www.sonsof1984.com/  site and during RR weekly radio shows.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

YELLOW MATTER CUSTARD REVISITED



CalProg is pleased to present a very special tribute to the music of the band that influenced more lives than any other before or after... The Beatles.

Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)
Neal Morse (Spock's Beard)
Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big)
Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Meat Loaf, Joan Jett, Todd Rundgren)

All join forces to become YELLOW MATTER CUSTARD.

Come join us in this musical celebration of life, love and rock and roll. The timeless melodies of Lennon and McCartney will remind you why they are widely considered to be the best tune-crafters of all time. This is a show that will appeal to your entire family, and what better way is there to spend a Friday night than singing along with a theater full of music lovers?


This show will also debut our newest venue The Art Theater of Long Beach. This warm and friendly indie movie house seats a cozy 380 people. They serve what you'd normally expect from a movie theater, but they also serve beer and wine. And YES, you can take it into the theater! Tickets are only available here at CalProg.com (they are not available at the theater box office).

BACK ON MY FEET AGAIN



John Waite-In Real Time


While long time fans continue to wait on legendary vocalist John Waite to release his next album (due later this month), this live compilation was released to tide them over.

"In Real Time" is a warts and all recording, with little (if any) overdubs, but sadly it only features 10 tracks, barely an EP considering compact disc capacity. This really could have featured another ten songs.

Waite is one of the best vocalists in the business, and this disc features a cover song (Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll", three Babys tunes, two Bad English tunes, and four songs from his nine solo albums. Sadly, the brevity of this disc leaves me wanting too much more, because so many classic songs from a hit-filled catalogue were left out.

But the performance is solid with a lot of energy, and while John's voice cracks in a few places, it shines brightly on the rest of the disc. A must have for all JW fans, and an all-too brieft snapshot of a long and illustrious career.

John Waite's new solo disc, "Rough And Tumble," drops January 21, 2011 on Frontiers Records.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A COUPLE FROM THE VAULTS


Long out of print on LP, and never before (to my knowledge) available on CD, these two "lost classics" finally saw a proper CD release on the American Beat label a year or so ago.


If you didn't live in Philly in the late seventies/early eighties, you probably never heard of these guys, a new wave band whp recorded two albums for Arista Records in 1979 and 1981 that failed to make a significant chart impact. Their self-titled debut album, The A's, was praised by Rolling Stone but failed to excite the record-buying public. The follow-up, A Woman's Got The Power, found the band taking a more serious approach with better song craftmanship and slicker production, and reaching the lower rungs of the US album chart. The title track received a lot of airplay on Philadelphia-area radio and clawed it s way up to #18 on the mainstream rock charts.

During that time, The Hooters, Robert Hazard and Tommy Conwell broke out of Philadelphia onto the national scene, and unfortunately The A's were on the verge but didn't quite succeed.

The first album is rawer, and starts off with the local hit, “After Last Night.” The album has an urgent and jittery (almost nervous) feel, with a tremendous radio pop sense and catchy hooks. The lyrics are pretty trite, but you'll want to break out that skinny tie and give this a listen any way. On the second album, the deeper, seasoned, more confident vocals and top-notch songwriting shows definite growth, although the slicker production takes them away from the new wave sound and into the more commercial, straight-ahead rock sound of the day, although the last song, Insomnia, jerks you back to the sound of their first album. There were a few songs on this album that should have been hits, and they deserve a listen all these years later.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

TODD RUNDGREN (RE)PRODUCTION


Gigatone Entertainment, a next-generation entertainment company, has announced special guest artists appearing at the myRecordFantasy event January 17-19, 2011 alongside headlining rock superstar Todd Rundgren.


Joining Rundgren, who’ll be simultaneously working on his latest album project, (re)Production, will be David Johansen of the New York Dolls, Starship lead vocalist Mickey Thomas and Brent Bourgeois of the Sacramento-based 1980s pop band Bourgeois Tagg.

myRecordFantasy, held at Gigatone’s headquarters at the Track Shack Studios in Sacramento, will feature Rundgren’s fans from around the world vying for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of auditioning to perform on his new album. In addition, fans will be attending and participating in nightly jam sessions and a grand finale concert with Rundgren and the guest artists. The live performances will be streamed on the internet and available via pay-per-view at http://www.todocast.tv/gigatone/.

Rundgren, whose innovation as a producer and recording artist has spawned one of pop music’s most devout followings, will find himself in familiar company. He was at the controls for punk rock pioneer Johansen and the New York Dolls’ eponymous debut album . And, he produced Bourgeois Tagg’s second album, Yoyo, in 1987, which included the Top 40 hit, “I Don’t Mind At All.” Rundgren will be appearing with Gigatone stablemate Thomas, vocalist on No. 1 Starship hits “We Built This City,” “Sara,” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” for the first time.

On (re)Production, Rundgren will be performing songs from his impressive body of work as a groundbreaking producer. Among the titles he’s recording originating from myRecordFantasy guest artists are “Love My Way” from the Psychedelic Furs, “Better Than You,” by the New York Dolls and Bourgeois Tagg’s “Out of My Mind.” Other album tracks will include “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” from Meat Loaf’s epic Bat Out of Hell, Grand Funk Railroad’s “Walk Like a Man” from We’re An American Band, “Dear God” from XTC’s Skylarking as well as various cuts from albums he produced for Badfinger, Patti Smith, Hall and Oates, Rick Derringer and The Tubes, among others.

As with previous events, myRecordFantasy is filmed in high definition, with reality episodes airing on Gigatone’s Channel Page on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/gigatonerecords. Jam sessions and the finale concert will be streamed live and made available by pay-per-view. Gigatone Entertainment was founded by music and digital entertainment pundit and Grammy Governor Mitchell Koulouris

http://www.myrecordfantasy.com/news/2011/01/guests-announced-for-myrecordfantasy-with-todd-rundgren/







Can we get a US release for Todd Rundgren's Johnson?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME HASN'T RECOGNIZED RUNDGREN

from Goldmine magazine blog (link below)

A wizard, a true star, but not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.




“I’m sort of like a piece of flotsam floating in a sea of public acclaim. I just go under for awhile and then bob up again.”

Since the mid-60s, Todd Rundgren has been a vital part of the music industry in just about every established form and some he has constructed himself.

He may have vanished from the surface occasionally, but he’s never been far from the action and he belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on any number of levels.

In the opener of his website, Rundgren dares you to “Go ahead, ignore me.” And so far, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has called his bluff, doing just that. Not this blog, though, which makes Rundgren the new year’s initial pitch for induction.

I first encountered Rundgren in a 60′s concert. I can’t remember the exact year, but I think the concert was headlined by The Byrds preceded by The Shadows of Knight with Rundgren’s Woody’s Truck Stop the opener. If I’m not quite sure, keep in mind this was the 60s.

I didn’t know of Rundgren then, but I do remember the band made a good impression. They didn’t stick around long, though, evolving into Nazz, which scored minor hits with “Hello It’s Me” and “Open My Eyes,” both Rundgren compositions. “Hello It’s Me” eventually became a major hit in 1973 and Rundgren’s highest charting single when his solo recording of the tune reached No. 5. I prefer the Nazz version, but what do I know?

Rundgren stuck around for a second Nazz LP, which did much better chartwise than the debut, but left before the third was released, though it was dominated by material he had written. His first solo effort, “We Gotta Get You A Woman,” was an immediate smash, peaking at No. 20. But it did create some confusion, being released as Runt, a nickname Patti Smith bestowed on Rundgren. Was Runt a real group or just Rundgren? The answer came, sort of, with the second Runt album, 1971′s “Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren.” Cleared right up, huh?



There were some others involved, but basically it was Rundgren all the way. Rolling Stone, in typical fashion, called it “the best album Paul McCartney never made.” They loved it probably because it didn’t sell. If it had been a smash, it probably would have been labeled “commercial dreck.” Or maybe it was the magazine’s strong endorsement that contributed to it not selling. allmusic.com rated it five stars, its highest rating.

Rundgren stepped into the limelight on the follow-up, the next year’s “Something/Anything?” The double-record set starts with the No. 16 single “I Saw The Light,” which is followed by what should have been another hit, “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference.” Except for side four, Rundgren did everything, playing all the instruments, singing all the parts and producing and engineering as well. Rundgren’s effort earned the work five-star ratings from The Rolling Stone Album Guide and allmusic.com.



The next issue, 1973′s “A Wizard/A True Star,” didn’t reach the heights of “Something/Anything?,” which peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, but it did cement the Philadelphian’s reputation as “a wizard” if not “a true star.” The single disc contained 19 tracks, nine of which clock in at under two minutes each, and almost an hours worth of music. With LPs losing much of their sonic punch with extended playing time – the standard LP usually ran about 15-20 minutes per side, Rundgren pushed the vessel’s limits and the LP cover included a message to listeners urging them to crank up the volume. If one did, they heard another remarkable work, one that earned Rundgren his third consecutive five-star rating from allmusic.com.

Continuing through to the present, Rundgren has continued to release an album or two every year. The results have varied, but the quality has remained and every once in awhile another hit single pops up such as 1978′s “Can We Still Be Friends” or 1983′s “Bang The Drum All Day.” His band Utopia also produced a steady stream of best-selling long-players from 1974 through 1985, 10 efforts reaching the charts. Utopia’s 80′s singles, “Set Me Free,” “The Very Last Time” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” helped Rundgren maintain airwave presence.

He also has done soundtracks for TV shows and movies (“Dumb and Dumber” anyone?). In recent years, Rundgren has appeared with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band & The New Cars.

All this should suffice to get Rundgren into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but there’s so much more it will take a major literary work to do it justice.



allmusicguide.com’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote, “Todd Rundgren’s best-known songs — the Carole King pastiche “I Saw The Light,” the ballads “Hello, It’s Me” and “Can We Still Be Friends,” and the goofy novelty “Bang on the Drum All Day” (sic) — suggest that he is a talented pop craftsman, but nothing more than that. On one level, that perception is true since he is undoubtedly a gifted pop songwriter, but at his core Rundgren is a rock & roll maverick. Once he had a taste of success with his 1972 masterwork, “Something/Anything?”, Rundgren chose to abandon stardom and, with it, conventional pop music. He began a course through uncharted musical territory, becoming a pioneer not only in electronic music and prog rock, but in music video, computer software, and internet music delivery as well.”

On top of all that, there’s his resume as a producer. After working as engineer on The Band’s “Stage Fright” album, he produced his own hits as Nazz, Runt, Todd Rundgren and Utopia, most of Badfinger’s classic “Straight Up” LP, Foghat, Ian & Sylvia, Patti Smith, Paul Butterfield, Grand Funk, Meat Loaf’s mammoth “Bat Out Of Hell,” Hall & Oates, The Tubes, the New York Dolls, XTC, the Psychedelic Furs and many others. Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf’s collaborator, said, “”Todd Rundgren is a genius and I don’t use that word a lot.”

And Erlewine added, “Rundgren may have existed largely on the fringes of pop music, but he produced a body of work that ranks as one of the most intriguing in rock & roll.”



Rundgren is reported to have said, “I guess I’m like those old-fashioned artists – da Vinci and Rembrandt. You don’t get discovered until you’re dead.”

He underestimates his notoriety. Obviously a lot of fans and many in the music industry discovered him long ago. Now it’s up to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to follow suit.

(For those regular readers waiting for the inevitable, we won’t disappoint. Nazz was on the SGC label. Rundgren walked away from the group after two albums. SGC was distributed by … Atlantic Records.)

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame hasn't recognized Todd Rundgren
By Phill Marder

Goldmine Magazine

http://www.goldminemag.com/blogs/bang-the-drum-all-day-until-todd-makes-the-hall-of-fame#ixzz19w3ZFR00