Monday, December 28, 2015

THE NEW DYLAN THREE AND A HALF DECADES ON

Back when this album was released, Steve Forbert was billed as the "new" Dylan.




Even though the lead single (Romeo's Tune) from his follow-up was a hit, he soon vanished from the mainstream (although he's continued to release music-upwards of forty titles counting the live releases sold from his web site).

I loved the debut-I heard Goin' Down To Laurel on Ed Sciacky's radio show in Philly, and ran out and bought the record.

New Dylan? 

I guess not, but who could live up to that hype? 

That's how Springsteen was hyped, but it took the club mix of Dancing In The Dark for him to hit it big.

Forbert has always stayed pretty true to his roots (Mississippi roots, so that means folk/rock with country flavor).

Here's the song that won me over.



And here are a couple more of my favorites...





The rest is in the vault. Songs 1 through 5 are side one of the record, and I must have worn those grooves flat-that album side was one of my favorites for crashing to.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

CHRISTMAS BONUS

...for those of you with access to the Vault...


Monday, December 21, 2015

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

One of my first MTV crushes was Patty Smyth, lead singer for Scandal. I was fortunate enough to see the band and work security when they played my college, but did not get the chance to see her perform live again for a couple of decades.

This year, Patty released a Christmas album, Come On December. While last year I featured a different Christmas release from my collection for each day of the season, this year, this is all you're getting.

Serves ya right-you been naughty!









Monday, December 14, 2015

NEW WORLD


From The Lefsetz Letter, 10/9/2015

What if after a long bout of writer's block you put out an album nearly as good as your debut, but most people ignored it?

Then you'd have Karla Bonoff's 1988 LP "New World."

Produced by Mark Goldenberg of Cretones fame and released on Danny Goldberg's Gold Castle Records this gem sank like a stone...sometimes the public just hasn't caught up with you yet. 


And at least twenty-odd years later "New World" lives on online.

HOW LONG



I'd featured Bonoff's debut a few weeks back (also inspired by the Lefsetz blog), and was reminded of this forgotten gem by Lefsetz' second post of that Friday.


Karla Bonoff still tours, and if you get the chance, I recommend getting out to see her.

One of the greats.

Those with access to the Vault can check out the rest of the album.


Monday, December 7, 2015

THAT'S ME IN THE BAR

I am from Philadelphia's western suburbs.

My favorite musician (Todd Rundgren) is also from the western burbs.

That is sort of a coincidence. 

I say sort of because I was introduced to the music by a high school teacher who had been Todd's classmate, and who knows whether I would have discovered the music otherwise. Todd has never exactly been a household name.

Philly is a music city, and those western burbs have spawned a fair amount of musical success stories (The Hooters and Cinderella come to mind from the 80's). Maybe you remember them, maybe not, but they had their moments in the sun. 

Another musician hailing from those same streets (Upper Darby, to be more precise) achieved a lot wider fame although he tragically died quite young. But who doesn't know the words to Bad Bad Leroy Brown, even if it's only that last line, "Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone?" 

Jim Croce died young sadly, but I think it is safe to say he is a household name. But I'm not here to talk about Jim today, either.

The man who is the focus of today's post is his son, A.J. Croce.



A.J. has been releasing finely crafted albums since 1993, and his second album, That's Me In The Bar, is today's vault entry (and is being reissued on vinyl this year).

So while I do tend to check out artists when I hear they are Philly-based, I am sure upon hearing this album you'll see that the music merits further listening.

THAT'S ME IN THE BAR



CHECKIN' IN


Vault key holders can hear the rest of the album. If you don't know about the Vault, you gotta ask.

Monday, November 30, 2015

NUDGE IT UP A NOTCH

Both Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere have pretty impressive resumes.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, the pair united for a couple of records in the last decade with results one might expect from such a duo....in short, excellence!



On paper it's a dream match made in souls heaven, with iconic guitarist of Booker T and the MG's writing and recording with the legendary blue-eyed soul vocalist of The Young Rascals. 

The disc lives up to the hype, with their songwriting talents smoothly intertwining and the sound remarkably fresh and energized. 

Cavaliere's vocals retain his soulful phrasing and his organ recalls that old Rascal feeling, while Cropper's guitar - both as a lead and rhythm instrument - retains every bit of its defining Memphis identity. 



You'll want to check this whole platter out in the Vault...


Monday, November 23, 2015

HOW I SPENT MY FALL VACATION

It was the song "Wondering Where The Lions Are" from his 1979 album Dancing In The Dragon's Jaws that introduced Bruce Cockburn (pronounced "coh-burn") to the US from the Great White North, but I was always partial to the follow up, 1980's Humans, especially the track that inspires the title of today's post.




I am sure the above qualifies as a run-on sentence, but screw it, it's my blog and I don't take off points for bad grammar.

Cockburn has enjoyed a career spanning more than 45 years and yielding some 35 albums, two dvd's, a box set and his memoirs.

Check out the album in the Vault!


video





Saturday, November 21, 2015

OUT OF THIS WORLD

Well, I am getting used to things not swaying from side to side after going on the 2015 sailing of Cruise To The Edge, the progressive rock cruise headlined by rock veterans Yes.

There is one occasional visitor of this blog who will disappoint me in a big way if he does not know the significance of the title of this post (in relation to one of the bands on the cruise). 


Long-time followers may remember that last year I went on two cruises, the first (and sadly, only?) Progressive Nation At Sea event and the second Cruise To The Edge. A bit excessive, but it was the first time in a long time I had taken vacations that were not centered around visiting family.

The PNAS cruise was better (in my opinion) in both environment (far better cruise ship experience, better weather) and execution (all concerts on time and scheduled so that you could see everyone), so I was excited that CTTE 2015 was on the Norwegian Pearl (the PNAS ship). While the weather did not favor us, and the execution was still not up to the high water mark (pun intended) set by PNAS, CTTE 2015 was still a far better experience than its predecessor.

The absence of Chris Squire, the only member of Yes who had (until this year) appeared in every line-up of the band, who passed away in June, was evident on this year's cruise. Many passengers posted tributes on their cabin doors, and there was a special tribute concert on the last night, led by the Neal Morse Band with guests appearances by several members of the other bands on the cruise, playing many of the songs Yes had rarely, if ever, performed live, along with several selections from Squire's solo record, Fish Out Of Water.

The headliners (Yes and Marillion) each played two shows, and you were assigned a seat to one of the performances (so everyone could see them at least once).



Having just seen Yes a few weeks ago, the headlining show was not the highlight for me, although the sound was better (the AZ show was at an outdoor stage, the show on the boat was in the theater), and my seat on the balcony was excellent (seats were assigned in the order you booked, and since I booked late I was up top but lucked out-great view of the stage).


Marillion were certainly a treat, but I decided not to wait in line in hopes of getting a seat to the first performance (I was assigned a seat to the second night, the last night of the cruise). I'd done that last year, but having seen them three nights in the spring in Montreal, I was okay with only seeing the set played once (each band I'd seen twice played pretty much the same set). Great show, good song selection (Man Of A Thousand Faces!), sadly no preview of the forthcoming record. 



Although I'd already seen Spock's Beard twice this year (ROSFest and CalProg), this was the big event for me, and I saw both shows, their midnight show on Sunday night as we set sail for the edge, and their pool show on Tuesday night in Nassau. While the show was similar to the CalProg set, these guys have made their way up to number two on my desert island list (behind Todd Who?) and since they never venture out to the Arizona desert, they were the main reason I'd caved and booked the cruise.



Similar to the Beard, I'd seen Enchant at the Gettysburg and Los Angeles shows with Spock's, but still caught both sets on the cruise. Ted Leonard, who fronts Spock's Beard, is also Enchant's singer, a band I discovered shortly before they went inactive in 2004, only to release an album out of the blue in 2014. I am not sure what the future holds for them, but since I'd never thought I would get to see them live, seeing them four times in 2015 did not seem like overkill.



Neal Morse was a founder of Spock's Beard and the front man until 2002. I'd only seen him live with the band once, when they opened for Dream Theater in Phoenix in the late 1990's. I'd only seen his band for the first time last year at the first Morsefest. They were the "sailaway" band (played as we pulled out of the Port of Miami), and the band who fronted the Chris Squire tribute as noted above. While the tribute was interesting, I was hoping the band would have done a second show in the theater.



Guitarist Steve Rothery is a founding member of Marillion who released a long-awaited solo project last year, and I was glad to finally see some of those selections performed live, although it was a show I would have rather seen in the theater (better acoustics) than the lounge setting it was given. Unless I missed it, SRB only performed once.



I have posted on Moon Safari before, a discovery I made on last year's CTTE-their harmonies...WOW. I was only able to catch one performance (the second was another midnight show, and I was too damn tired). Another band I wish had been given at least one theater show.

Some other bands I saw....



Fans of Jethro Tull remembered Martin Barre, who did a set that would have been more in line with a blues cruise, but was a nice change of pace (I saw two performances)


I only caught part of a Lifesigns performance last year, so was pleased to see a full set this year at Saturday's pre-show party.



Barracuda Triangle is a Flower Kings side-project conceived on last year's CTTE. 


Bad Dreams was a new discovery for me-their set featured a Genesis medley, and someone next to me mentioned that they'd begun as a tribute band.



Three Friends take their name from the Gentle Giant album, and feature members of the seventies progressive band best known in the US for Octopus.


PFM



Airbag wear their Pink Floyd influences on their sleeves.



Allen Holdsworth's set was plagued by wind, causing him to stop after roughly 45 minutes-and many of us were surprised he'd carried on that long.



Messenger seem to draw as heavily on folk influences as progressive, and delivered a good performance.



Caravan date back to the beginnings of the progressive rock scene, and their set leaned on their recently released album as well as their roots.



Anglagard are a hard band to describe-interesting sound with a lot of King Crimson influences. Their first set was cut short by the rain.

The weather was not kind, but CTTE still could execute better. They should hire the management team from PNAS, as they still had a lot of scheduling conflicts, few shows started on time (causing even more conflict), and they were sloppy at reporting schedule changes (although that was better on days three and four).

I was told that one show scheduled for midnight did not start until almost three am!

On PNAS, they had used the theater quite frequently, where CTTE limited it to Yes on days one and two (I think because Yes had stipulated that) and had one or two other shows (besides Marillion) on days three and four. By limited the use of stages, it created more conflicts and delays. Poor planning. 

The emcee for every show apologized a lot and said they were doing the best they could, but the weather was not a fault for everything. CTTE should look to PNAS, which had more bands, to learn how they were able to execute as well as they did.

But still, this was a fun week, and my brother, who pretty much only knew Yes from the song "Roundabout," had a good time as well.

I was a lot less frantic about seeing every band this year, in light of the scheduling conflicts in the original timetable and my desire to spend time with my brother. 

I still managed to see all or part of twenty four shows, and while I missed seven bands, I still had a great week of music-any more running around and I would be more of a zombie than I am as I compose this on Saturday.









Monday, November 16, 2015

THE INNER MOUNTING FLAME

The Mahavishnu Orchestra's 1971 debut album, The Inner Mounting Flame, is rhythmically complex and involved jazz-inflected rock made accessible.




Guitarist John McLaughlin had worked with Miles Davis not too long before this album came together, and virtuosic musicianship abounds.

To my ears, it leans closer to progressive rock than to jazz, but maybe that's what fusion is all about. Take a listen and see what you think.




If you have the Vault combination, you can hear the whole album.

If you don't have the combination, all you gotta do is ask...


Monday, November 9, 2015

A COMMON ERROR

Not sure how I first heard of Jamie N Common, but although the name sounds like a rapper, the music is not.



He seems to only have one piece of music available, Rumble And Sway, an EP ("extended play") from 2013.

Isn't it funny that they call a CD with only six songs on it an "extended play?"

I digress.

The record is pretty darn good, but as of this writing (early October, 2015), there's no follow-up. A couple of guest appearances with Eminem and X Ambassadors, but no full length from the man himself.

Maybe if my legion of followers starts calling their local radio stations, we can change this.

Probably not.

Here is one sixth of the album, Have A Little Faith.




....and here's an acoustic version



The rest is in the Vault.

Monday, November 2, 2015

DRIFTER



Mike Flanigin has been a working musician for two decades, as a member of the house band at Antone's in Austin and then making his Hammond B3 organ growl and purr for the crowds at the Continental Club Gallery, rubbing elbows with the likes of Kat Edmonson, Jimmy Vaughn, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Gary Clark, Jr., all of whom play on his upcoming debut album, The Drifter.

Most of the album is made up of Flanigin's original songs, save for one cover, the title track, which comes from the first blues record Flanigin ever owned.

I like the album, although the styles are all over the map, making it a little uneven. I read that Flanigin wrote the songs with his guests in mind, which accounts for the variances in style.

However, when I say uneven, it doesn't mean I don't like it or that the songs are bad-it's just that some of the songs come as quite a surprise when a soulful number follows a blues rocker.

As I composed this, there were no studio versions out there to provide as a sampler, so I had to make my own.

Here's the title track:

video


And here's one that's somewhat organ-ic...

video




For those with the combination, the whole record is in the vault...

Monday, October 26, 2015

SOMEONE TO LAY DOWN BESIDE ME

I was introduced to Karla Bonoff by my good high school friend Chuck E (not the guy from the Rickie Lee Jones song), and I loved the album. I never picked it up on CD, and the record sat with the rest of my vinyl collection through the 80's and 90's, forgotten. 



Ten years or so ago, I was sorting through my vinyl and came across the record. Realizing how long it had been since I heard it, I played the record. Wow, is it ever as good as I remembered!

I went out and found Karla's entire catalog on CD. Well, not all on the same day, but I got 'em!

A couple of weeks ago, her debut was featured in a post of The Lefsetz Letter, which inspired me to pull the album off the shelf.

Still a keeper!

I hope Mr. Lefsetz does not mind me quoting from his post.... the yellow italics are his words, not mine, but really capture just how special a songwriter and performer Karla Bonoff is.


From The Lefsetz Letter, 10/9/2015

Linda Ronstadt was America's sweetheart, the coolest rock chick who owned the airwaves, she released her third smash in a row, "Hasten Down The Wind" and the killer track, which finished the LP, was "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me." 

The voice we all knew and loved singing a song by someone we were completely unfamiliar with, one Karla Bonoff.

"Still you know that may be what I need
Is someone to lay down beside me
And even though it's not real
Just someone to lay down beside me
You're the story of my life"

A beautiful song sung by someone who seemed to own the world, the darkness was absent.

But when Karla sang the same song with the same arrangement...WHEW!

"Well morning is breaking, 
the street lights are off
The sun will soon share all the cost
Of a world that can be sort of heartless
Not like love that you feel in your heart"

Sung by an unknown, someone just like us, the words seemed so much more...BELIEVABLE! This was someone who was yearning for connection in a world that so rarely provides it, back before Match.com, never mind Tinder. When loneliness killed.

You heard Karla sing and you thought about yourself. And how the world really was kind of heartless, that's the key word in the song, the one you remember.



I had the fortune of seeing Karla Bonoff last year. The friend I attended with, while claiming to be a New Yorker, is essentially an Arizona native (she was ten when she moved here) and suffers from that malady common to Arizonans, the blind worship of all things Arizonan.

So to her, Linda Ronstadt is a saint, and we had a spirited debate when I said I always liked Bonoff's originals to the Ronstadt covers.

To me, Ronstadt had a decent voice, but since she didn't write anything, she was less compelling. I mean, covering Elvis Costello's Alison? Really? 


From The Lefsetz Letter, 10/9/2015

"Oh baby, this time it's good-bye
And you can be sure that I won't cry
Our love is just a faded story
I'm walking down the road
And you've just got to let me go"

"I Can't Hold On" is upbeat as opposed to the dirgy "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me." It evidences the freedom of one who's thought about it a long time and has broken away and is now reveling in the power of her aloneness.

"'Cause I can't hold on
I can't hold on
I can't hold on anymore"

These are not the words of a fly-by-nighter. She tried, she's not the one who jumps from relationship to relationship, but she's finally reached her limit, she's done.

"And maybe next time you'll cry
When someone like me says good-bye
You'll wake up when she's gone and wonder
How you could let her go
But look at me, I'm going under..."

Come on, if you haven't said this to yourself, maybe even made the mistake of saying it to your ex, you're a leaver, not one of the left. You've given your all and it's still not enough. You want to scream and shout, but they're still playing games...

It's all here. This is the best post breakup song I know, I've sung it to myself many a time.




From The Lefsetz Letter, 10/9/2015

So different from today's music, where the singers are winners and kick their significant others to the curb. You can tell Karla Bonoff's been hurt, she's been on the losing end of love, but now she's resigned to the loss, she's gonna let him go.

"I'm not telling any lies now
I need you
You know how
I think I can see how to let you grow
I've got to let you go"

This is the last thing you want to do!

"Though that's my face in the mirror
It's sometimes you that I see
'Cause we've been here for so long now
I see your soul in me"

You've merged. You've even started to look alike. The person closest to you, who knows all your secrets, is no longer there, and will ultimately be with someone else. It's soul-crushing.

The rest is in the Vault for those with the key...



Monday, October 19, 2015

R.I.P. SMOKIN' JOE

This week's Vault entry is the latest by Smokin' Joe Kubek, who passed away last weekend at the all-too-young (from where I am sitting) age of 58.

For a quarter century, Kubek defined the Dallas blues scene, releasing fifteen albums over the years. 

Kubek died shortly before he was to appear onstage at the Pleasure Island Seafood Blues & Jazz Festival in North Carolina, according to his label. He was scheduled to play there Saturday afternoon with his longtime collaborator Bnois King.


Earlier this year, Kubek and King teamed up (for what would be the last time) for Fat Man’s Shine Parlor, delivering the goods once again.


Rest in peace, Joe!

Here's a taste of the record, which is sitting in the Vault.


Monday, October 12, 2015

I WANT YOU BACK (NO, NOT THAT ONE)

I lived in South Jersey (near Camden, outside of Philly) from 1989 through 1993, and shortly after my move found Compact Disc World in Marlton. 

Although a smaller retail footprint, their selection was better than Tower Records, and they played a lot of cool stuff in the store. I was there every Saturday.

Which was how I heard of the band Cry Charity’s lone album, “Peace Love Humiliation.”



CDW had it playing in the store, I loved a couple of the songs, and snapped it up.

Cry Charity put together a solid album and while the genre does not make it into my player that often these days, I still love Tracy Bartelle’s voice.

All in all, it was a remarkably polished work, and had it been given even a half-decent promotional effort, this album might well have been a major seller.

Unfortunately, the label folded just weeks after Peace Love Humiliation was released, throwing the band into legal limbo and killing any hope for the album's success. Cry Charity never recorded anything again, although Bartelle issued a couple of digital albums during the last decade. 

No You Tube for these guys, so I hope this file I created works...




video


Vault keyholders know where to go for the rest of the album...not sure it this can be found on download sites, but there were used copies to be had on Amazon..

Monday, October 5, 2015

AIN'T THERE ONE DAMN SONG THAT CAN MAKE ME BREAK DOWN AND CRY?

David Bowie is always described as being "ahead of his time," and besides thinking that is a dumb saying, I am not sure I agree.

Take his 1975 release, Young Americans. No, really, I have an extra copy, so take it.

The album draws on soul music, which was in full swing (pun intended) in the mid-70's-in fact, disco was thriving by the time the album was released.

Ahead of its time? Hardly.

But a reflection of its time, successfully blending soul and rock elements? 

I'll give him that. 

I'm pretty sure I got my mitts on this one when my oldest brother moved out to go to college and left it behind. It is one of my favorite Bowie albums, and in my opinion far outshines his 1980's commercial high water mark, Let's Dance.

And why does it matter that it's one of my favorite Bowie releases?

CAUSE IT'S MY F#@$&NG BLOG!


YOUNG AMERICANS



SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME



It's also in the Vault, for you in the know. 

Interesting trivia-forty years ago, the song "Fame" from this album hit number one on the Billboard 100 (week of September 20, 1975)

Monday, September 28, 2015

DAVID & DAVID-50% OFF

I know Stephen T. McCarthy has posted about his affinity for the David And David Boomtown album, and I did look for the post to link to it, but failed at finding it.



Although, as half of this duo, this album is where David Baerwald first came to prominence.

The album went platinum, spawned a top 40 hit and stayed on the Billboard albums chart for a year, and yet, no one has heard of them, or Baerwald.

Perhaps you don't know him better as being the co-founder (with Bill Bottrell, who you also don't know) of the Tuesday Night Music Club that launched Sheryl Crow's career.



Her you know!

Anyway, in between Boomtown and TNMC, Baerwald released a few fine albums on his own, and I'm betting you never heard of them, either.



Until now.



If you know the combination, the rest is in the Vault...




Monday, September 21, 2015

IT TAKES A VILLAGE...

...at least a little one!

One of the musical highlights of the 1980s was John Hiatt's Bring The Family, the '87 album which introduced the veteran minstrel to a new generation of fans. 

Stuffed with amazing compositions, it featured a stunning lineup; Hiatt of course doing most of the singing and strumming a sad acoustic, the mighty Ry Cooder handling electric guitar and a little sitar on one number, Nick Lowe on his signature bass (the token Brit in mix) and a man who has banged the drums for everyone from Bob Dylan to Manhattan Transfer, the wholly underrated Jim Keltner. 






The "super-group" Little Village reunited the all-star lineup under a new name and the result was the excellent eponymous debut. 

The magic between these guys was undeniably incendiary, grooving their way through 11 upbeat songs. Unfortunately, there were no subsequent albums of this super-group, but that makes the album Little Village even more unique.

The individual members easily clicked; the album’s classic guitar rock sound and catchy songs does not sound dated almost a quarter of a century later. Each member was already very much a star in his own right, so the album was truly a collective effort. 



In the album's wake the Villagers hit the road; veterans to a man of the live circuit, the shows were a magnificent spectacle. 

When the tour bus pulled up in San Fran and the fancy gear was unloaded into the Fox Warfield Theatre, the whole affair was broadcast across the greater Frisco area by local FM radio.

This week, the Vault faithful get a two-fer, the original classic album and the live show (which was recently released for public consumption).


The lyrics that got me on this one?


I was driving in the wee hours of the morning, pulling an all-nighter, and had this album in the player. Having just gone through a break-up, and being half-asleep at the wheel, these lyrics really struck home and the guitar work really captures (sets?) the mood!

Here's a live version....


And here's another song from the album....


If you have the key-off to the Vault wit' ya!


Monday, September 14, 2015

LYRICS I WISH I'D WRITTEN

My last post highlighted a title I wish I'd come up with, and this post is all about the lyrics.

You know the kind I mean-when you hear them, you wish you'd thought of them first!

I bought this CD a month or so ago and on Saturday I finally got around to listening to it. 

Boy do I wish I'd played it sooner. Liked every song, but song number five hit me with this line...

I ain't afraid of lonely
Lonely and I will get along just fine

That one resonated with me.

I also dug this line from the same song-tell me you've never felt this way after a breakup, right?

There's a pile of books that I been wanting to read
Now I finally have the time

Clicking on the lyrics above will take you to the album version of the song (and Mr. Keller's Bandcamp page)-below is a live version from You Tube.


This album is also featured in TheVault this week. 

That's right, faithful-just because I haven't posted here doesn't mean I haven't been putting music out there. 

If you have the link, you should check The Vault every Monday.

If you don't have the link, you may want to start groveling...(or sending me an e-mail will work)


Last week's selection is still there as well...


It's a cheap (free) way to check out music you would have otherwise probably never heard of...all I ask is that if you like it, you consider buying it and play it for your friends....gotta support the artists if we want to have access to music deeper than One Direction.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

WENT LOOKING FOR WARREN ZEVON'S LOS ANGELES



The title of the new song by Lucero made me think of a series of posts Stephen T. McCarthy did a few years back about Los Angeles.

The lyrics are not bad, but I did not think they lived up to the promise of the title (although, to be fair, after you name drop Zevon, you're kind of setting yourself up for a fall).

But I still think it's a pretty good advance song from their new record, due September 18.

Decide for yourself.




Order the album here:




Tuesday, September 1, 2015

MARILLION-IT'S ALIVE




Marillion who literally invented “Crowdfunding” (or “the Direct to Fan” model now so prevalent in the music business) back in 1997, have decided to join forces with the new masters of the art, PledgeMusic for the release of their eighteenth studio album, due in early 2016.

Available in a variety of formats

Check out the album trailer and pledge campaign HERE.

Find a better way of life at marillion.com





Monday, August 24, 2015

THE BEARD IS OUT THERE







And if you are in the LA area, check out the band this weekend: