Friday, July 29, 2016


Henry McCullough has played guitar on several records you have probably owned over the years-he was the lead guitarist on the original rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, played in the Grease Band with Joe Cocker at Woodstock, and picked the stellar solo on "My Love" during his tenure with Paul McCartney's Wings.

Henry returned to Ireland after leaving Wings and established himself as a songwriter (his "Failed Christian" was recorded by Nick Lowe) and released nearly a dozen records under his own name before passing away last month.

One of his more recent releases, 2008’s Poor Man's Moon, shows the gentler side of Henry's music, with an easy rolling JJ Cale feel. 

There are Celtic and country stylings in the music, but the prevailing atmosphere is soulful and bluesy.

The songs on this album feel lived in, mature compositions that come with a lifetime of experience. When McCullough takes his guitar out for a spin, he can still deliver the goods, but there is no showing off here-the guitar is mostly tastefully restrained within the structures of the songs.

There are treasures on this record the repay repeated listening.

This record was released on McCullough’s own SIlverwolf label, and is a CDR. 

It’s out of print, and I bought mine from Amazon seller and it was not cheap. 

They were willing to give me a refund, but only if I paid to ship the disc back to them. Had I know what I was buying, I’d have purchased the digital album at a third of the cost.

Monday, July 25, 2016


From the cover of his major label debut, Booty And The Beast, one might expect Popa Chubby to be a rap singer. I know when I heard rocking blues playing in the record store and they handed me that CD, I thought the Zia Records employees were smoking something.

Born Ted Horiwitz, Popa got his start backing punk rock poet Richard Hell. He won a Long Beach, CA radio station's national blues talent search and was the opening act at the 1992 Long Beach Blues Festival.

In 1995, I'd just moved to Arizona, and sadly had never gotten the chance to see the man live when living in Philly (a short drive from NYC, where Popa Chubby is based).But I was glad Zia Records played that disc that Sunday afternoon, as 21 years later I still love that record!

I was lucky that Popa Chubby has made a few stops in Phoenix, although it's been more than fifteen years. But he still delivers top notch blues rock, and sadly, remains a virtual unknown on these shores.

This Spotify Playlist  serves as my suggested introduction to Poa Chubby's music-I am hopeful this will interest you enough that you'll visit Popa's website and check out more.

The song they were playing in store was "Looking Back." It grabbed me and did not let go.

"I was lookin' back to see
If she was lookin' back to see
If I was lookin' back at her"

Popa's first live album features a cover of Tom Waits' "Heartattack And Vine," which is even better when you're right in front of him seeing it live.

"See that little Jersey girl in the see-through top
With the pedal pushers sucking on a soda pop
Well I bet she's still a virgin
But it's only twenty-five to nine
You can see a million of 'em on Heartattack and Vine"

"Let The Music Set You Free" is the anthemic album opener from the Deliveries After Dark record, Popa's 2008 release for Blind Pig


"Another Ten Years Gone" is another anthem chronicling Popa's life over the course of rock and roll history.

"Why I Can;t Have You" is a more traditional-sounding blues ballad.

"She Said That Evil Was Her Name" shows the softer funkier side of Popa Chubby's music.

Two songs from How'd A White Boy Get The Blues make the list. First, "Daddy Played The Guitar And Mama Was A Disco Queen, which starts as an acoustic ballad and builds into a rock-rap funk-fest, complete with explicit lyrics! 

Next up is the title track, another acoustic-based ballad with some tasty guitar licks.

"Sweet Goddess Of Love And Beer" is also from the debut, Booty And The Beast, and is the closest PC has ever come to a hit.

"Somebody Let The Devil Out" was Popa's 9/11 song, written in the aftermath of that tragedy, culled from The Good The Bad And The Chubby.

Finally, "What's So Great About Rock 'N' Roll" is another gem from Hit Thje High Hard One, the first of several live offerings.

So there you have it, assuming the link to the Spotify playlist works. If you like these songs, I hope you'll consider buying a couple of Popa's records-he can use the support and he's that good. And if he plays your town, by all means go!

Friday, July 22, 2016


Indie rockers American Authors return with the anticipated follow-up to their hit debut (album certified gold, "Best Day Of My Life" single 3X platinum), What We Live For.

Drawing on the same radio friendly sound from the debut, with a little more electronica thrown in, the band seems to be trying to make lightning strike a second time.

They manage to pull it off-a solid follow-up that ought to get airplay (or whatever kind of play it's called these days).

Monday, July 18, 2016


38 years ago, he was shackled with ‘the new Dylan‘ label, and quite frankly, I always thought that Steve Forbert’s debut, Alive On Arrival, was worthy of the hype.

It seemed that every singer/songwriter who played  an acoustic guitar and blew into a harmonica was destined to be labeled as the  next ‘new Dylan’. 

Sadly, Forbert spent the next decade trying to shake off that tag, and while his second album yielded a top 40 (number 11) hit, he was never able to replicate that success. 

For many, he was a one-hit wonder, although he continues to tour and record, on the road as I write this and heading into the studio this fall to record his seventeenth studio album 

He’s also released three live albums and five compilations, as well as more than a dozen exclusive releases directly from his website.  

Safe to say, he moved beyond the Dylan hype and has forged a successful career; his 2015 album Compromised is proof that he hasn’t lost any of his charm. 

Here's a selection of ten songs that I think serve as a decent overview of Forbert's career that I hope might give you a taste to experience more.

Spotify users can find the playlist HERE and can find quite a few of Forbert's records on the site. Or you can purchase physical CD's and digital downloads from Forbert's on-line outlet.

Goin' Down To Laurel" This one still makes my toe tap-it was my introduction to Forbert (big thank you to Ed Sciacky) and it opens the first album. Good choice. 

"Romeo's Tune" opens the second record and was his biggest success, although far from his best song, in my opinion. I hated the vocal arrangement when it came out but have come to appreciate it over the years. 

The third record failed to live up to it's predecessor, and although "Get Well Soon" was the single, I was always partial to "Philadelphia Rain."

With Forbert being such a good songwriter, I struggle a little including a cover song on this list, but his cover of The Searcher's classic was my highlight on his eponymous fourth album.

Forbert had a disagreement with his record label, and his fifth album was never released (Forbert released it himself on his website a couple of decades later). 

This led to a hiatus with Forbert being prevented from recording due to contract issues, and ultimately a label change. "Samson And Delilah's Beauty Shop" was a concert favorite that made it's way onto the What Kinda Guy best-of compilation.

Forbert's first album for Geffen was a great album that sadly did not get heard. It was a struggle to just pick one song for this playlist, as there were so mnay "oughtta be" classics. For me, "I Blinked Once" stood out, as I was approaching thirty and the song was about looking back.

Forbert released a second record for Geffen that was also quite good and came and went mostly unnoticed. As temped as I was to include the cover song on this list, I went with "You Cannot Win 'Em All"

From Geffen, Forbert has label-hopped quite a bit, but has continued to release new music.

From 2012's Over With You, check out "All I Need To Do."

And from 2015's Compromised, check out the title track.

"It Isn't Gonna Be That Way" closes side one of the first record, and I thought it fitting to be the closer for this list. This was the perfect album side to crash to back in the day. I wonder if kids today have discovered this record and figured that out?

Interesting trivia tidbit-in the video for Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," Forbert plays her boyfriend. That's him on the right in the tux.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Veteran Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes returns with Soul Searchin, an album of R&B covers recorded in Nashville with such luminaries as Steve Cropped and Dan Penn.

A household name in Australia, Barnes is a virtual unknown on these shores, and since even if there was such thing as radio this would never get played, this album should do little to spread the word in the US.

Barnes debuted at number one in Australia with this release, and pulled ahead of the Beatles (also down under) with his 15th number one album.

I wanted to try something different, this being the fifteenth of the month.

Suppose I was to post a version of one of the songs from this album that I am partial to...

Then I could post another version of the same song by a different artist.

Who knows? Some of you might feel compelled to leave an opinion in the comments stating your preference.

It would be like the two songs were competing against each other...almost in a battle!

Now I do not want this to imply that I am participating in any kind of orchestrated blog activity.

In fact, if you see a resemblance between this post and an organized blog activity, it is purely coincidental.

And lest I forget Jimmy Barnes' new album, there is also a deluxe edition of the album with even more songs on a bonus disc!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Marillion's new album is due this September (the 23rd to be precise).

Entitled F.E.A.R. (Fuck Everyone And Run), the title comes from lead singer and lyricist Steve Hogarth's assertion that "all worthwhile human impulses come from love, and all negative and destructive human impulses come from fear."

"This title is adopted not in anger or with any intention to shock. It is adopted and sung (in the song "New Kings”) tenderly, in sadness and resignation inspired by an England, and a world, which increasingly functions on an “Every man for himself” philosophy. I won’t bore you with examples, they’re all over the newspapers every day."

"There’s a sense of foreboding that permeates much of this record. I have a feeling that we’re approaching some kind of sea-change in the world – an irreversible political, financial, humanitarian and environmental storm. I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that my FEAR of what “seems” to be approaching is just that, and not FEAR of what “is” actually about to happen."

A sample of one of the new tracks is featured on Marillion's You Tube channel HERE.

Sadly, the pre-order window closed last month, but the album will be widely available on September 23. 

Friday, July 8, 2016


I was a kid when Melissa Manchester released her first hit, "Midnight Blue," and I must confess that I still love that melody-one of those guilty pleasures I wouldn't admit to liking to my high school friends but I'd hum along to when it came on my mom's radio station.

I found it funny that she (Melissa, not my mom) was awarded a Grammy for what I considered a throwaway 80's piece of fluff ("You Should Hear How She Talks About you") but not for the aforementioned song or for the two movie songs that were nominated.

I stumbled across Melissa Manchester's latest effort in the blues (?) bin at a local store, and thought I'd give it a listen.

"You Gotta Love The Life," Manchester's first record in more than a decade, is pretty darn good-not a piece of filler on the album, a collection that includes blues (check out "Feeling For You" below, on which Keb Mo' lends a hand) jazzy pop stylings (the title track) and her obligatory ballads ("Big Light," with Al Jarreau guesting).

The album is full of guests, as noted above, and it is a showcase of what I would call her strength-songwriting. Manchester teaches a course of the craft at a Southern California college.

This album will probably not make a splash, and Manchester will undoubtedly continue to come up as a punch line to the "Where Are They Now" discussion, but the lucky ones who try this disc on will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Sure, I just said I'd be doing one post a week, but I will chime in with upcoming release news when I feel like it. Like now.

Kansas release their first album in fifteen years this fall. 

The Prelude Implicit features 10 all new tracks written by the band and co-produced by Zak Rizvi, Phil Ehart, and Richard Williams. KANSAS's signature sound is evident throughout the album. 

It showcases Ronnie Platt's soaring lead vocals, David Ragsdale's blistering violin, Williams and Rizvi's rocking guitar riffs, the unmistakable sound of David Manion's B3 organ and keyboards, Ehart's thundering drums, and Billy Greer's driving bass and vocals.

Monday, July 4, 2016


I ended my blogging hiatus last month with a post title about your past coming back to haunt you. It was really about the music industry rereleasing music from years gone by in an effort to separate fools like me from my money.

With the American yewts not spending what our generation did on music, the record labels are marketing as much product to we boomers and Generation X-ers as possible to separate us from our cash before we kick the bucket.

Sometimes the product is kind of cool, as has been the case with Springsteen’s deluxe editions of Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town. The latest entry in the series. The Ties That Bind: The River Collection,  is a comprehensive look at Bruce Springsteen's 'The River' era, one of the most pivotal periods of time in his career. The original double album was released on October 17, 1980 and reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.  

The set contains 52 tracks on 4 CDs with a wealth of unreleased material, and 4 hours of never-before-seen video on 3 DVDs. It is comprised of the original 'The River' double album as released in 1980; the first official release of 'The River: Single Album;' a CD of 1979/80 studio outtakes; a two-DVD film of never-released, newly edited multi-camera footage from Springsteen's famed 1980 show in Tempe, AZ, long rumored but never-before-seen; rare tour rehearsal footage; a brand new documentary "The Ties That Bind" about 'The River;' and a coffee table book of 200 rare or previously unseen photos and memorabilia with a new essay.
Today being the Fourth Of July, here is Bruce's "Independence Day."

I am taking a leap of faith that anyone reading is familiar with the original album, so I won't spend a lot of time talking about it.
If you're a die hard fan, the remastering is well done, the bonus tracks are worth hearing, the DVD's warrant watching, but the $91 price tag is a little steep, although it was released at $102 so it may continue to drop. For casual fans who do not own it, the regular album release is available separately. 

After this post, I am going to a once-a-week schedule (for now), with posts on Fridays to coincide with the new releases in stores (although the titles featured will usually lag and will often be catalog titles).

Friday, July 1, 2016


I know at least one regular reader will find this post of interest, as I send her a daily dose of her favorite band.

Multi-platinum and Grammy winning San Francisco band TRAIN pays homage to one of their biggest musical inspirations with the release of the first cover album of their career, LED ZEPPELIN II.

The decision to do a Led Zeppelin cover album took shape when the band recently performed the complete Led Zeppelin II album on this year's annual Sail Across the Sun cruise. 

"Our favorite band is Led Zeppelin. We love the band. They made a huge impression on our lives musically. So I thought, why don't we record an album just for the fun of it for our fans," said lead singer Pat Monahan. "The hard part was deciding which one."

The 9-track album follows the original Led Zeppelin II track listing including classic hit songs such as "Ramble On" and "Whole Lotta Love." The band has famously covered Zeppelin their entire career in live shows.

All of the band's proceeds from this album will go to their charity of record, Family House in San Francisco, of which they've been huge supporters for years.

Robin, you probably knew that LZ was an influence-I only saw Train once and do not recall a Zeppeling cover being played (but I could just forget), and when I saw this record released, I wondered why. It was not until preparing this post that I found the answer.

Not sure whether this is one for casual fans-they'd probably be better served with the original record.