Thursday, July 31, 2014

TIRED OF HANGING IN THOSE DUSTY ARCADES?

I recently posted about both of these bands, and here they are on a double bill.

You North-Easterners may want to check it out!



P.M. UPDATE- R.I.P. DICK WAGNER



Guitarist and songwriter Dick Wagner died Wednesday July 30 in Phoenix. Wagner was 71.

Wagner worked with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Kiss and Aerosmith. Wagner had been hospitalized after contracting a lung infection following heart surgery in early July.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

HEARTBREAKER




On Tom Petty’s new album, Hypnotic Eye, the 63-year-old and his eternal Heartbreakers deliver their toughest, most straight-up rocking record in many years.



Three years in the making, Hypnotic Eye often sounds like buddies out on a weekend garage-jam bender, reminiscent of their first two records (1976’s Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and 1978’s You’re Gonna Get It!).

The album is pretty good, although it does not meet the bar set by Mojo a few years ago.

One thing rubs me the wrong way.

Petty rails against the “one percent” in a Billboard interview this week, criticizing those wealthy people who “just want more.”

I know what he means.

For example, those wealthy aging rock stars greedily charging $200 a seat for their arena concerts!




Someone forgot to tell Petty that when you live in Malibu, YOU are the one percent!









Monday, July 21, 2014

R.I.P. ROCKFISH



James Garner died of natural causes at his California home Saturday, July 19, at the age of 86. It almost does not seem possible, as I am sure that somewhere right now an episode of “The Rockford Files” is playing.

We all loved James Garner's TV characters, who with no visible heroic traits could somehow beat the bad guys in the end.

Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford were basically the same character in different footwear, the antithesis of almost every traditional protagonist on television.

Maverick was a gambler who aspired to become nothing higher than a hustler, happy to finesse a few bucks and leave town untroubled by any gunfire he heard behind him on his way out. He didn't use a gun much. He started with his wits and when necessary moved on to his fists.

Low-budget private investigator Jim Rockford lived in a mobile home and liked to eat Mexican food. He hung out with a bizarre posse whose help often got him beaten up. He constantly was taking cases so low-end you wondered how they ever got on television, yet the show developed characters like a good drama and put them in situations that sometimes seemed closer to a good sitcom.

Garner’s charisma served him well on the big screen, starring in more than 50 films and earning an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor in the 1985 romantic drama “Murphy’s Romance.”


He acted well into his 70’s only slowing down after suffering a stroke. He is survived by his wife of 55 years and two children.






Saturday, July 19, 2014

ON THE DARK SIDE

Another band that found success in the wake of Bruce Springsteen started as a shore band, although their turf was north of Asbury Park in Narragansett, Rhode Island.





John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band were a New England bar band who established a strong following in the Northeast corridor, playing shows as far south as Asbury Park. The band released an independent single in 1980 that sold 10,000 copies and got a lot of airplay in the markets where their following was concentrated, but the labels did not seem interested-a rare case where the Springsteen comparisons did not lead to a label signing. 



Longtime fan, producer Kenny Vance, hired the band to score the movie "Eddie And The Cruisers," a movie about a legendary Jersey band that sounded an awful lot like Bruce Springsteen.



That soundtrack went on to place number 10 on the Billboard  albums chart and yielded a number 7 single with "On The Dark Side."








Their follow up made the top 50, and the inclusion of "Hearts On Fire" and "Voice Of America's Songs" in subsequent Sylvester Stallone films helped sales. 








Their third release had disappointing sales, pretty much limited to their core fan base.






A sequel to "Eddie And The Cruisers" in 1989 was a box-office failure, although it led to another soundtrack opportunity for the band. The "Eddie Lives" soundtrack suffered the same fate as the film, although the film has gone on to "cult" status in home video circles. 




The band continues to perform, mostly in New England, and their songs still find their way onto soundtracks, but there has not been any new music in a couple of decades.



Friday, July 18, 2014

A TIP OF THE HAT TO "HERE'S TO YOU FRIDAY"

There's a reason it's called "the battle of the sexes..."

In light of her recent post on the trials and tribulations of dating, I thought I'd post this clip of a poignant and tender love ballad. 

This clip goes out to Robin at Your Daily Dose, and all who commented on her post...enjoy!


Harry Nillson "You're Breaking My Heart"



UPDATE- A sad footnote

I just learned (from CW at Tilting At Windmills) about the passing of blues legend Johnny Winter on Wednesday.




From the late 60's through last weekend, thisTexas blues legend emblazoned himself into the world's consciousness with his tattooed arms churning out lightning-fast guitar riffs and his striking long white hair flowing from under his cowboy hat.


Winter, who collaborated with the likes of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Jimi Hendrix, was among the world's finest “white blues” guitarists, a list that includes Eric Clapton and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, who followed in the footsteps of the earlier Chicago blues masters.

Winters idolized Waters, and got a chance to produce some of the blues legend's more popular albums. Winter played a major role in introducing the blues to a new audience.

John Dawson Winter III was born on Feb. 23, 1944 and raised in Beaumont, Texas. He was the older brother of Edgar Winter, and had been on an extensive tour this year to celebrate his 70th birthday.


In a recent documentary, Winter was quoted as saying, "I love playing guitar. It's the only thing I've ever really been great at." His last performance was on Saturday at the Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria.

So while the music world suffers a major loss, I cannot help but think that the span between Winter doing what he loved above all else  and his passing from this mortal sphere was less than a week.

I'll bet he's okay with that.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

BOTB-BLACK MAGIC WOMAN





Started on the Far Away Series, and refined by the bloggers noted below, I've been somewhat of a wannabe player in the Battle Of The Bands blogfest, which happens on the first and fifteenth of each month. These guys are to blame for this foolishness:

Far Away Series

Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends

Tossing It Out

Your Daily Dose


The way it works is, I put up two versions of a song and you tell me which one you like better.

Simple right? If you look at past comments, some people agonize over this decision, but I'll let you in on a little clue.....there's no wrong answer! Whatever you like IS the right answer!

There's supposed to be a post in five days or so where I tally up the votes and disclose my preference, but I'm generally not motivated enough to do that second post. Plus, if you can sit infront of a computer, I am assuming you can count.

Sometimes, a cover song becomes more popular than the original-in fact, sometimes the original goes largely unheard and people assume that the cover is the original.

Such was the case with "Love Is The Answer," a song I featured on an earlier BOTB post, and it is also the case with today's song.

Most people hear the song "Black Magic Woman" and think it was a Santana original.



Heck most people aren't even aware that Santana is actually the band name (although it is also the guitarist's surname).

But I digress.

The original "Black Magic Woman" was written by Peter Green and released on a Fleetwood Mac single in 1968, later appearing on a compilation album, English Rose



By the way, didja know that Fleetwood Mac started out as a blues band almost a decade before that pop version sold boatloads of records with the Rumours LP? In between there were enough lineup changes to make King Crimson feel stable.

I know at least one of you reading knew this, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a second one of you knew it as well.

But I digress again.

Fleetwood Mac did not achieve popularity in the US until the mid-70's, so when Santana released his version in 1970 (went all the way to number 4), many people (mistakenly) thought it was his.

So here is the version most people know...



And here is the Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac version...



You know what to do and where to do it...and if you want to know who got the most votes, count 'em yerself! My vote will come out somewhere in the comments section.

Friday, July 11, 2014

SUMMER SINGLES


The Songs of Summer blog hop is being hosted by  the Armchair Squid, Cygnus and Suze, although I heard about it from Trisha F's blog ( Word+Stuff).

It seems simple enough-list five of your favorite summer songs and share some memories about them.

As usual, I don't follow rules very well, as there are seven songs below (although the songs that are my blog hop entries are clearly labeled)
  

1966-THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL
"SUMMER IN THE CITY"

I was five and sharing a room with my oldest brother who played this song to death. 

When he moved out, his two Spoonful albums mysteriously made their way into my record collection.

One of the first perfect summer songs I became aware of, and while the Beach Boys made a career out of perfect summer songs, this one resonated more to an east coast kid (a 'woody and your best girl' had a whole different meaning in the Philadelphia suburbs)







1975-WAR
"LOW RIDER"

More LA than Philadelphia, the song still ruled the airwaves that summer, even though to someone from Philly, low riders were jeans.

I was still on the young side in 1975, but this song seemed to get resurrected each year, especially at the Jersey shore.

The melody really makes you feel like you're crawling through traffic in the hot sun.

Although you never truly know what the hot sun is until you come to Arizona in July...







1982-SURVIVOR
"EYE OF THE TIGER"

By this summer, our gym of choice had moved from the Police Athletic League gym over the Upper Darby Firehouse to The Rock's (my friend Ken was "The Rock" long before Dwayne Johnson stole the moniker from him) basement, and this song was the soundtrack of that summer.

In fact, the memory of those days is making my muscles sore...




A runner-up for this summer would have been "Take The L" by the Motels. 

While it was not the big hit from their All Four One album, we played that one to death as well because we could make fun of each other to it (take the L out of loser, you're an 'oser').





1985-DAVID LEE ROTH
"CALIFORNIA GIRLS"

I can hear Stephen T. McCarthy foaming at the mouth, so let me start by saying this song is not here because it is better than the Beach Boys' version, but I was four when Brian Wilson wrote and released this soundtrack to his first LSD trip (according to Wikipedia, that's what the music was inspired by), and let's face it...one thing David Lee Roth knows is how to show off sexy women in videos.

This song got a lot of play that summer, something that I am sure had Mr. Wilson smiling all the way to the bank.




2010-KATY PERRY
"CALIFORNIA GURLS"

This song seemed to be playing every time I walked through the lobby of the bulding I worked in during the summer of 2010, and I stand here to confess to Katy Perry being a guilty pleasure. 

Yeah, it's pop fluff, but the song is catchy, she's a hottie, and what's not to like about the video?



In no way is this list comprehensive, nor would I say these are my top five summer songs. These are the five that came to mind as I composed this.

Ask me next week, you'd probably get a different list.

I'll leave you with a song that seems appropriate, John Welsey Harding's "Summer Single."



It sounds the the hosts of this fest are Down Under, so stay warm my friends! 
















Monday, July 7, 2014

I DON'T WANT TO GO HOME


THE NEW SPRINGSTEEN PART TWO

After Bruce Springsteen started finding success, first with Born To Run, and continuously up to the massive mainstream success of Born In The USA, labels also started looking for “the next Springsteen.”

This series continues to focus on some of the artists who have been tagged with that label, some who achieved mainstream success, some who did not.

Today's artist may have been one of the first "New Springsteen" signings, hailing from the same Jersey streets and boardwalks-his name is John Lyon, but you know him as Southside Johnny.



Southside has long been considered the Grandfather of "the New Jersey Sound." Jon Bon Jovi has acknowledged Southside as his "reason for singing.”

Lyon grew up in Ocean Grove, New Jersey and graduated from Neptune High School with future E Street Band members Garry Tallent and Vini Lopez.



Southside's first three albums, I Don't Want To Go Home (1976), This Time It's for Real (1977), and Hearts of Stone (1978), were Stax-influenced R&B, arranged and produced by the co-founder of the band and Springsteen confederate Steven Van Zandt, and largely featured songs written by Van Zandt and/or Springsteen.



The Van Zandt-written "I Don't Want To Go Home" became Southside's signature song, an evocative mixture of horn-based melodic riffs and sentimental lyrics. Other notable songs included "The Fever", "Talk to Me", "This Time It's For Real", "Love on the Wrong Side of Town", and a cover of Springsteen's "Hearts of Stone".



Cast under Springsteen's long shadow, Southside and the Jukes never gained national commercial success and in 1979, despite the critical acclaim for their third album, they were dropped by their record company.





After a brief tenure on Mercury, the band seemed to switch labels with each album over the next decade, with his biggest exposure coming in films, appearing in Adventures in Babysitting performing at a college frat party ("Future In Your Eyes," "Expressway to Your Heart" and contributing songs to the film Captain America ("Memories of You," "Written in the Wind") and Home Alone ("Please Come Home for Christmas")



His recording career was re-launched with the album Better Days (1991), which featured production by Van Zandt, songs by Springsteen, and vocal performances from Van Zandt, Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, but once again bad luck struck when the record label went bankrupt.





Southside eventually relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, taking a break from the music business.

After a decade without a record contract Southside finally founded his own record label in 2001 under the name of Leroy Records, and started releasing and distributing his records, including Messin' with the Blues (2000), Going to Jukesville (2002), Missing Pieces (2004), and Into the Harbour (2005).



In 2008, Southside Johnny collaborated with long-time Asbury Jukes trombone player Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg, for a break from the classic Asbury Jukes sound to classic Big-Band Jazz. Together with a 20-piece big band they recorded a cover album of songs written by Tom Waits, entitled Grapefruit Moon.



The Jukes' most recent album, Pills and Ammo, was released in June 2010, receiving the most critical acclaim since Better Days. The songs were primarily written by Southside Johnny and Jukes keyboard player Jeff Kazee.

Recent releases also include a live recording of the Hearts Of Stone album, and a a live performance of Van Zandt's Men Without Women album. The material on Men Without Women was composed almost entirely of unused material originally recorded by Southside Johnny during the Hearts of Stone sessions, later re-recorded by Van Zandt as his first solo album.



In January 2013, he released a CD called Songs From The Barn with his side project, The Poor Fools, and reportedly a new Jukes album is in the works.



Southside continues to perform, and maintains a substantial audience following.


And when they play, it's always a party! 

Sadly, he never gets out west, so it's been more than twenty years since I've seen him live.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

AIN'T EVEN DONE WITH THE NIGHT


THE NEW SPRINGSTEEN PART ONE

When Columbia Records signed Bruce Springsteen, John Hammond thought he’d found the “New Dylan.”

Dylan made such an impression on the folk music world (and modern music in general) that critics and fans have been looking for an artist who would live up to his genius and legacy for decades now.

Since Springsteen auditioned for Hammond with just an acoustic guitar, it is not hard to see why Hammond thought he’d found an artist similar to Dylan-check out the songs he demoed for Hammond in their acoustic versions on the Tracks collection.

Imagine Hammond’s surprise when Springsteen delivered Greetings From Asbury Park.

Countless artists have been labeled "the next Bob Dylan" through the years, but after Springsteen started finding success, first with Born To Run, and continuously up to the massive mainstream success of Born In The USA, labels also started looking for “the next Springsteen.”

This series is going to focus on some of the artists who have been tagged with that label, some who achieved mainstream success, some who did not.

And we’re starting with a kid from Indiana named Johnny Cougar.

You know him better as John Mellemcamp, but his manager insisted that Mellencamp's perform under the stage name Johnny Cougar, suggesting that the bumpy German name "Mellencamp" was too hard to market.

Mellencamp reluctantly agreed, although his first album (Chestnut Street Incident) flopped, the second (The Kid Inside) was not released until after Mellencamp’s breakthrough, and the third (A Biography) was only released overseas, although the song “I Need A Lover” was a hit Down Under.

After being dumped by MCA, Mellencamp (as John Cougar) signed with the tiny Riva Records label, releasing what most people think of as his debut, 1979's John Cougar, and adding “I Need A Lover” which charted at number 28.  The song was also covered by Pat Benatar on her debut album In the Heat of the Night.



In 1980, Mellencamp returned with the Steve Cropper-produced Nothin' Matters and What If It Did, which yielded two Top 40 singles — "This Time" (No. 27) and "Ain't Even Done With the Night" (No. 17).





In 1982, Mellencamp released his breakthrough album, American Fool, which contained the singles "Hurts So Good," an uptempo rock tune that spent four weeks at No. 2 and 16 weeks in the top 10, and "Jack & Diane," which was a No. 1 hit for four weeks. A third single, "Hand to Hold On To", made it to No. 19. "Hurts So Good" went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the 25th Grammys. 





After that, Mellencamp added his surname to his albums, recording as 'John Cougar Mellencamp" until finally dropping 'Cougar' with 1991's Whenever We Wanted. 


His success continued through the 1990's and into the new millennium.


In 2006, his lent song "Our Country" to Cheverolet in what appeared to be selling out, but in the absence of radio airplay was a pretty shrewd promotional idea-the song was nominated for a Grammy.


Sadly, Mellencamp joined most other artists who drank the Kool-Aid, performing in support of our current Kenyan-In-Chief.


A new album is planned for 2014.

Friday, July 4, 2014

BLUES FOR A DOG


Here's a special Independence Day treat for everyone, although what it has to do with the day is beyond me...I needed to schedule this somewhere...

Blues For A Dog is a song written and performed by B.B. King for the season five episode "Look Who's Barking" of Married With Children.





During a bout of insomnia, I happened to catch a rerun of this episode a few years back and loved the song.

I have never been able to find this on a CD-if anyone knows of it being officially released, I'd love to know about it.

BLUES FOR A DOG


I was born in the junkyard,
A child of the streets,
My ghetto was cats and garbage,
And other tasty treats.

Police chased and caught me,
I was in the pound alone,
The Bundys came and got me,
Didn't even bring a bone!

I'm hungry out here.
I ain't talkin' jive.
I'll eat anything,
Even if it's alive.

Don't want no fax machine,
Got no use for a phone,
Don't even want my belly rubbed,
Just give me a blood-stained bone!

Starvin' out here Mama,
Got no food to call my own.
You better watch your wives and children,
I'm out here prowlin' for a bone.

Woman makes you stupid,
Every man's a hound,
She says I love's an ocean,
Then she pulled you in to drown.

Woman makes you stupid,
Always playin' with your head,
Next time you'll be smiling,
Is the day you wake up dead.

Woman makes you stupid,
When she show a little tail,
I don't know why we need 'em,
Oh yeah: a coffin needs a nail!