For some reason, Seasick Steve went largely unnoticed by the music world until about ten years ago, and even then, only finding success across the pond in the UK.
I bought one album based on the review (You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks) and one based on the title (I Started Out With Nothing And I Still Got Most Of It Left) and neither album disappoints. I proceeded to collect his earlier titles.
He's just released Hubcap Music, and while I get around to crafting a review, here's a video tidbit to introduce you and tide you over...
Trevor Bolder, the bass player who was one of the founding
members of David Bowie's legendary backing band the Spiders From Mars, died
Tuesday at the age of 62, after suffering from pancreatic cancer for several
Bolder played on several classic Bowie albums, including Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and Aladdin Sane.
The English musician and record producer was also known for being a
member of British rock group Uriah Heep, joining them in the late 1970s and
playing with them throughout his career. He appeared on the band's most recent
album, Into the Wild, in 2011, and was planning to join them for their
performance at the Download Festival in June, reports NME.
Bolder also played
with Mick Ronson and Wishbone Ash.
Uriah Heep issued the following statement about Bolder's
"It is with great sadness that Uriah Heep announce the
passing of our friend the amazing Trevor Bolder, who has passed away after his
long fight with cancer. Trevor was an all time great, one of the outstanding
musicians of his generation, and one of the finest and most influential bass
players that Britain ever produced. His long time membership of Uriah Heep
brought the band's music, and Trevor's virtuosity and enthusiasm, to hundreds of
thousands of fans across the world. He joined the band in 1976 and, barring one
short break, was a fixture until his ill health forced him to take a step back
early this year."
Lead guitarist Mick Box said, "Trevor was a world class
bass player, singer and songwriter, and more importantly a world class friend.
He will be sadly missed by family, friends and rock fans all over the world. We
are all numb to the core."
The Beard is back! Yep, that's right, with the departure of Nick
D'Virgilio, we are presented with the third incarnation of the band. Have no fear, though as D'Virgilio is replaced
by a pair of familiar faces.
Joining the band on a permanent basis is their previous
touring drummer Jimmy Keegan and new to the band is former lead singer of
Enchant, Ted Leonard.
Rounding out the band is the core of Dave Meros on bass,
Alan Morse on guitar and Ryo Okumoto on keyboards.
After Neal Morse left the band in 2002, the next three releasess
were somewhat darker albums, with 2010’s X
being noticeably lighter and proggier.
Brief Nocturnes and
Endless Sleep continues that trend, the movement back towards the type of
music and energy that gave the band its reputation in the first place.
In what is a bold move for a band with twenty years under
their belt, Ted Leonard gets a fair amount of writing credit on this disc, and
Keegan’s drums are mixed to provide a new found energy, the cohesiveness with
Dave Meros as a rhythm section showing after years of playing together live.
Ted Leonard had to follow two of the better known singers on
the modern progressive scene, but he quickly makes his mark on the band’s
sound, as is evident on “Submerged.”
Lifted from Leonard’s solo album, it
becomes the best ballad the Beard has ever done.
The album has all the prog that you could want, tight
rhythms, obscure lines, rolling bass lines, Mellotron, keyboards all over the
place and catchy choruses.
The solos features great tradeoffs between Ryo
Okumoto and Alan Morse, and the songs co-written with the aforementioned Neal
Morse bridge the band’s different incarnations together.
Neal Morse's contributions are strong, but meld beautifully
with Leonard's writing style, each song great in their own right.
this one-truly, the Beard is back, and better than ever.
Doors co-founder and keyboardist Ray Manzarek died today in Rosenheim,
Germany after a long battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74.
Manzarek grew up in Chicago, then
moved to Los Angeles in 1962 to study film at UCLA. It was there he first met
Doors singer Jim Morrison, though they didn't talk about forming a band until
they bumped into each other on a beach in Venice, California in the summer of
1965 and Morrison told Manzarek that he had been working on some music.
They quickly teamed up with drummer John Densmore and
guitarist Robby Krieger and began playing gigs around Los Angeles. About a year
later, the Doors recorded their debut album for Elektra Records. "We knew
once people heard us, we'd be unstoppable," Manzarek wrote in his memoir.
"We knew what the people wanted: the same thing the Doors wanted.
The Doors didn't have a bassist, so Manzarek often played
the bass parts on his Fender Rhodes piano. He also played a Vox Continental
organ, which can be heard on the famous intro to "Light My Fire" and
numerous other Doors classics. The group shared credit on most songs and split
all profits evenly.
The group carried on for two more
albums after Jim Morrison died in July of 1971, but they split in 1973.
Manzarek remained extremely busy, producing albums for X and playing with Iggy
Pop, Echo and the Bunnymen and others.
"I was deeply
saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek
today," Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said in a statement. "I'm
just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last
decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him."
After seeing Alex's and Lee's blogs today, I am new to the party. I have been a little remiss at blog reading these past couple of weeks and nearly missed this event.
Better late than never, right? If I was certain that the just-released Star Trek: Into Darkness counted as a remake, it might have gotten the nod. But I think I will go with Heaven Can Wait.
Why? Julie Christie is beautiful, Charles Grodin and Buck Henry are hysterical, and the Rams win the Super Bowl!
Worst remake ever? Wow...so many to choose from, but what it coming to mind is the recent Arthur remake. It bordered on sacrilege. And it stunk. When it comes to songs, there are so many, it's hard. And I own so many, it's even harder.
Also, if you ask me a favorite song/worst song question today, my answer will often be different if you were to ask me tomorrow.
So for the best remake, I am going to go with the one that literally just popped into my head.... RAM JAM
Back in 1977, Ram Jam was a one-hit wonder with their cover of this old folk song, often credited to Leadbelly but actually predating him by some time. Worst remake ever? A tie, because the whole album is so bad.
Almost everything off of Todd Rundgren's 2010 album, (re)Production, which featured Auto-Tune dance versions of songs he produced for others. You can read my review here. Whaddya think?
Former Marillion lead singer Fish is making progress on
his newest effort, A Feast Of
Consequences, his first album of all-new material in six years (since 2007’s
13th Star), due this summer.
To tide fans over, a live CD/DVD was released on May 13, 2CD’s
and 1 DVD housed in double tray fat jewel case with 12 page booklet. This is
the entire Sunday Electric set from the Leamington Convention last October.
Feast Of Consequences will be available as a deluxe edition with a
100-page hardcover book in a slipcase and DVD on the making of the album (DVD will
include demos, interviews from across the writing and recording period as well
as a tour diary taking in Fish’s thoughts on the development of the new
Other configurations include a standard CD release, a
double vinyl gatefold and a download.
If you read my last post, you'll know that Todd Rundgren's latest effort, State, will not replace Nearly Human and my favorite Rundgren LP, and that I was experiencing some trepidation over having bought tickets to three shows prior to the album release. However, I'd also made the comment that I anticipated the material being more palatable live. His 2004 album, Liars, was also heavy on the electronics (albiet lighter on the dance grooves), and was not a big favorite of mine. His 1998 effort, With A Twist, featured bossa-nova versions of his better known tunes (hits does not seem to work)-also not very heavy in my CD player rotation. However, both shows were quite good, and I was glad to have seen them.
In fact, the only tour that after having seen the live show I would actually qualify as "bad" was the 'interactive' tour for No World Order, mainly because the tour involved very little instrument playing...it was Todd using the interactive CD as his backing band....fortunately I saw the show on a DVD, having missed the tour due to an out-of-state move. Which brings me to last Saturday's show at the Trocadero in Philadelphia.
Yes, the songs were heavily synthesized (although Jesse Gress and Prarie Prince provide guitar and drum accompaniment, respectively. Todd actually picked up a guitar a couple of times as well. The songs from the (re)Production CD came off better live as well. and the Liars and No World Order material fit in nicely. Todd would not be Todd if he played it safe, so while I reserve my right to be critical about an album, I still applaud him for trying new things. After the Philly show, I do not feel so back to having tickets for two more shows in AZ.
In 1973, at the apex of his fame, Todd Rundgren followed up
his hit-filled, double LP Something/Anything?with a record he christened A Wizard, a True Star.
It was as far from the expected follow-up as could be imagined, and forty years later, Rundgren continues to create the
unexpected, as his latest effort, State,
Continuing the electronic trend he started on Liars, and the dance-pop trend started on (shudder) (re)Production, State is an album anchored in electronic dance grooves that may cause some long-time fans alarm.
Readers of this blog may remember that my review of the aforementioned (re)Production was less than favorable.
State is far better than that effort, but nowhere nearly as good as Liars...and Liars is not one of my favorites.
The opening track, “Imagination,” sets the tone for the rest of
the album, breaking out an electronic
dance groove that sounds more like Skrillex than Rundgren, and sounds all too much like Rundgren, at age 65, is trying to appeal to an audience a couple of generations his junior.
Lyrically, the album continues in the vein of Arena and Liars, exploring the lack of
imagination that Rundgren feels abides today – in music, politics, and everyday
Musically, while I cannot blame Rundgren for trying out something new, there is something missing, and someone who wrote a review in a Yahoo group dedicated to Rundgren captured the problem.
There is no ear candy on this album.
Liars was an electronic album, but it had "Living."
Stryper's first album hit the streets during the Reagan years, which just goes to show you that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Roughly three decades removed from those carefree days of the summer of 1984, the members of Stryper have now taken a step down an increasingly common route of releasing retooled versions of their classic material from yesteryear.
While Stryper front man Michael Sweet freely admits that his motivation was largely related to licensing issues and gaining tighter control over the band's back catalog, those who can put their cynicism on hold will find that, despite the less than completely artistic motives for its creation, Second Coming plays out fairly nicely when you spin it.
Taking tracks from the band's first three releases (including To Hell with the Devil, considered their high water mark), the album's production lends the reworked compositions a welcome sense of fullness, immediacy and bass presence that were absent on the first two albums.
Just as importantly, its chronological sequencing works to place the band's artistic growth and expansion in that much clearer focus, not to mention that devotees who have lamented original member Tim Gaines being M.I.A. on the Devil sessions can now hear the prodigal bassist holding down the bottom end on those tracks.
Given that this album and its predecessor were constructed almost exclusively around cover tunes, skeptics will be relieved to know that Second Coming's two new cuts, the towering "Blackened" and the funky, Bad Company-inspired "Bleeding from Inside Out," can stand toe to toe with the quartet's classic work from the '80s.
Hard-core fans and completists will have already scooped up the album by now. Casual fans who do not already own once of the previous two compilations may want to pick this one up. Stryper have managed to remold their most dearly-loved compositions into incarnations that are actually, against all odds, superior to the originals.
So there you have it...twenty-six progressive albums from the last year or so.
Did any reader feel inspired to go seek out any of these titles?
How about simply being inspired to break out some similar music you already owned?
As always, I appreciate your stopping by and doubly appreciate you leaving comments. I started this blog because I felt it sad that the concept of "the album" was being deteriorated by the increasing market for downloads, and no genre of rock leverages the album format like progressive rock does.
Hopefully, I've introduced some of you to something you enjoy that you would not have otherwise heard. If I did inspire you to go out and purchase a title, please make sure you leave a comment to that effect...it gives my blog added "street cred."