Saturday, August 23, 2014


This week's Billboard featured their list of the 25 hottest clubs (their words, not mine) in North America.

Let's just dive in and take a look at their list....

I've got three words to, type.

What a crock!

First off, the fact that several clubs in Los Angeles are not on this list seems criminal to me (The Troubadour, The Whiskey a Go Go, The Roxy).

But even before we go there...House Of Blues makes this list twelve times. And the franchised Fillmore (the original deserves to be here) is on here four times.

So sixteen of the "hottest" clubs are chains?

I left a comment on Arlee Bird's Tossing It Out blog that I will paraphrase here-if the best of anything in your opinion is a chain, you probably need to get out more. 

And if the best of anything in your city is a chain, you probably need to move.

Reading Billboard's small print, their list is based on attendance.

So this is not about the hottest clubs at all, because attendance is more a function of what acts were booked there than the club itself.

Would anyone go to a House Of Blues to see an unknown band?

I doubt it.

In Phoenix, the clubs that need to be on such a list-The Cresecent Ballroom, The Marquee Theater, The Rhythm Room-are the clubs that feature the music that is the future.

Philadelphia is not represented at all. And San Diego's Croce's is not there (along with the rest of the Gaslamp District).

I would also point out that I find it hard to believe that New York and Chicago have only one club each on the list, while Columbus Ohio is on there.

Nothing against Columbus, but I find it hard to believe that anything in Columbus Ohio is better than Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago.

And the Columbus Ohio venue (which at least does not appear to be a chain) ranked above Stubbs Bar-B-Q in Austin, TX.

Anyone who has been to Stubbs would have to agree that it friggin' ROCKS!.

And if you haven't been there, go! Austin is one cool city. And Stubbs deserves to be at the top of this list-no House Of Blues that I have been to can touch it!

In fact, most of the clubs on Sixth Street in Austin are far hotter than any House Of Blues.

Come on, Billboard-get a clue!

Friday, August 22, 2014


I guess Neil Morse's work ethic is rubbing off on Ted Leonard.

Touring with Spock's Beard and Transatlantic, doing hometown shows with his bar band, releasing a second Thought Chamber album and beginning work on the new Spock's Beard record was apparently not enough to keep vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ted Leonard busy.

So in his spare time, he got back together with the band he fronted until their ten-year hiatus began in 2004 (Enchant) to record a new album.

The Great Divide is due September 29.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Flying Colors and Mascot Label Group are proud to present the video for Mask Machine, the first track of the upcoming album Second Nature.

The album is available to pre-order at the label and at Radiant Records.

Flying Colors features the talents of:

Dave LaRue (bass)
Casey McPherson (lead vocals)
Neal Morse (keyboards, vocals)
Steve Morse (guitar)
Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals)

Friday, August 15, 2014


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


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.

A really good example of this phenomena is Joan Jett's cover of "I Love Rock 'N' Roll."

The song was initially recorded by the London-based band The Arrows in 1975, but the song went largely unheard, at least on this side of the pond. 

Former Runaways member Jett resurrected the song as the title track for her second solo album in 1982 and took the song to number one for a whopping seven weeks. 

It's become her signature song.

So here is the original version from The Arrows...

And here is the version you know by Ms. Jett:

There you have know what to do and where to do it....or did you forget already? 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


As I mentioned yesterday,  Thin Lizzy were one of the first bands I discovered on my own. While I was winding my way through the “T” shelves in my collection, I took some time to revisit their albums. 

Picking up right where I left off yesterday...

Bad Reputation followed Johnny The Fox, with the hit single from the album being “Dancing In The Moonlight.”

I always thought the title track got overlooked. Sure, it did not have the radio-friendly hooks of “Dancing In The Moonlight,” but it was a killer rock song.

Gary Moore returned to the fold again, and for the first time stayed long enough to cut an album with the band. 

Black Rose was the band’s most successful album, peaking at number two in the UK, but only reaching #81 in the US.

A shame, too, because there were a couple of good rockers on this album, like "The Toughest Street In Town."

Another cool song was "Waiting For An Alibi."

Thin Lizzy would release a couple more albums before Lynott's tragic passing, and the band has tried to reunite (unsuccessfully)
over the years with different singers, but Lynnott was the heart and soul of the band.

The songs here are by no means a comprehensive list, and I am sure that many fans would compile an entirely different selection.

But it's my blog, so you're stuck with my list!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


A couple of months ago, I featured Bob Seger while I was winding my way through the “S” shelves in my collection, and his original version of “Rosalie” got a mention, and a discussion of the Thin Lizzy cover, which got far more play on the national radio scene, ensued.

Thin Lizzy were one of the early bands I discovered on my own (many others were influenced by what my four older siblings were playing). It stands to reason that as I am going through the "T's" that I would revisit their output.

“Jailbreak,” “The Boys Are Back In Town” and “Dancing In The Moonlight” (not the King Harvest song, the one with the “It’s Caught Me In Its Spotlight” chorus) are their claims to fame, but the Thin Lizzy catalog has a lot of gems that have gone forgotten by the vast unwashed wasteland that is classic rock radio.

The Thin Lizzy version of Rosalie was released on their fifth studio album, Fighting, which was their first to chart in the UK (#60). Here ya go, STMcC!

The follow-up was their breakthrough album, Jailbreak, and should be familiar to most classic rock fans in the US due to the aforementioned two singles, the title track and their biggest hit, "The Boys Are Back In Town."

Another song that got a lot of airtime back in the day was "The Cowboy Song."

Johnny The Fox followed Jailbreak, with the standout track (in my opinion) being “Don’t Believe A Word,” although writer Phil Lynott and guitarist Scott Gorham fought over the arrangement (Gorham won).  

Lynott and Gary Moore later did a version as originally intended on Moore’s Back On The Streets album.

Continues tomorrow....

Sunday, August 10, 2014


The other day, I mentioned a new album from Neil Morse, who left Spock's Beard a decade or so back to pursue his own muse, starting a new genre (Progressive Christian Rock) in the  process (follow the links to my four-part post on Spock's Beard).

The new album, Songs From November, is described as a "singer-songwriter feel-good album," full of strong melodies and powerfully personal stories, but absent the progressive elements you might usually expect.

Here is the lead track.

The album hits stores and digital sites on August 19.

Here's the buzz from the label's site:

Even a style as broad and accepting as Progressive Rock has its boundaries. Prog icon Neal Morse decided to break that mold and create a challenging new album. 'Songs From November' may be his bravest outing to date. Musically, creatively, and production-wise, it’s like nothing he’s ever done. Can you handle it?! It’s an album of “normal” songs! Songs even your friends might like!

Says Neal, “I listen to a lot of different kinds of music for various occasions…prog albums when I really want to focus on intricate music…sometimes jazz and classical. But many times I find myself attracted to 'feel good' singer-songwriter albums like a Jackson Browne or Graham Nash record. So one day I thought to myself…I'd like to make an album like that! 'Songs From November' is that album.”

Morse wrote most of the songs during a flood of ideas in November, 2013. He recalls, “They just kept pouring out that month…I don't really know why…but it was great!” After the epic Transatlantic world tour was completed in March 2014, Morse set out to make 'November' a reality. And he would craft it differently than anything before.

Says Neal, “I could've gotten together with a bunch of studio musicians in Nashville and banged this thing out, but I felt like the thing to do was to get together with this young drummer named Gabe Klein and work on it as a team. He is only 18 years old and amazing! We had a great time recording these songs and many more. We actually recorded twice as many songs as we needed and picked the best ones. It was the first time I've ever done that and it was very fruitful. I sent out 21 songs to a bunch of different people that I trust and chose from their lists. So that was also a totally new approach for me.”

The final 11 songs are among the best that Neal has ever composed – and the most surprising you will hear. In reinventing himself, he was ready to explore uncharted territory. Are you?

Track Listing:
1. Whatever Days
2. Heaven Smiled
3. Flowers In A Vase
4. Love Shot An Arrow
5. Song For The Free
6. Tell Me Annabelle
7. My Time Of Dying
8. When Things Slow Down
9. Daddy's Daughter
10. Wear The Chains

11. The Way Of Love

Friday, August 8, 2014


Neal Morse is certainly keeping busy this year, between a Transatlantic album and tour, a new solo album and tour, and now a new Flying Colors album and tour.

Those of you in the Los Angeles area may want to check this out. I wish they'd scheduled a Friday or Saturday night-I'd have made the drive.

Flying Colors with Bend Sinister
Thursday October 2, 2014 - 8:00pm at
Armstrong Theater - Torrance Ca. (Do Not Call Theater) 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


That don't sound like no Hank Williams tune...

Neal Morse gets his progressive Christian groove on at this two-show event, a rare US appearance. 

Progressive fans in or around Nashville should check this out...

Monday, August 4, 2014


Any progressive rock fans in or around Chicago should check this out-there's a link to the site on the right side of the blog...

Saturday, August 2, 2014


For months I have been pissing and moaning about how to get my own clips onto the blog, and it turns out I had the answer all along.

All I had to do was click my mouse buttons together three times and say, "There's no software like Adobe Soundbooth"

I am interested in your feedback, however.

Yesterday, I noticed a lot of comments that focused on the video portion of clips. 

That struck me, because I am usually listening to these while working, so the video window is in the background while I am working (I actually do work from time to time).

Plus, I was the generation before MTV. 

If I wanted an MTV experience, I had to get high and go to a concert. 

The idea of sitting and watching videos on TV never really resonated with me.

Although now that you can't (Ever watch MTV lately? Is there ever any music content?), I kind of miss it.

But enough foolishness-my question...

How important is the video to people? 

If I put my own clips up, they will only be the audio.

However, they will be the intended audio.

Case in point-this is the original Badfinger studio version of "Without You intended to be part of yesterday's post.

I'd appreciate your feedback-would you listen to clips like this, or is the video portion important to you?

Friday, August 1, 2014


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

Far Away Series


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!

Where I fail to follow rules is, there's supposed to be a post in five days or so where I tally up the votes and disclose my preference.

Well usually I disclose my preference in the comments, I assume anyone who can get to this site can also count, and I'm generally not motivated enough to do that second post. Plus, I stink at following rules!

For this one, I tried to go back through everyone's prior posts to see if it had been used before. 

Problem is, there is no way to easily search blogs (that I know of), and after dealing with getting past 30 A to Z posts for two bloggers, and opening every post to see what song was used, I said the heck with it. If it's a repeat, everyone knows how they'll vote. 

That effort led me to rethink my naming convention for these posts-usually I try for a clever name, now I will use the title of the song. I even went back and re-titled past BOTB posts just in case any of the other participants ever have the same issue.

But I digress-you are not reading to learn of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Back to the tunes.

"Without You" was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans, and first appeared on Badfinger's No Dice album (closes side one for you vinyl hounds).

Both Ham and Evans felt the song had little potential, but it has been covered more than 180 times, was a number one hit for Harry Nilson and a number three for Mariah Carey.

Sadly, both Ham and Evans took their own lives during the decade following their release of the song, and never saw how enduring a hit it became, once being called "the killer song of all time" by Paul McCartney (who may have written a song or two himself, I am told).

Interesting (for me) tidbit-the follow-up album was started with George Harrison as producer, but he pulled out due to the Bangladesh concerts (bloody quitter). 

A certain whiz-kid producer named Todd Rundgren came in to save the day and finished the album. The album spawned two hit singles ("Day After Day" reached number 4, and "Baby Blue" reached number 14), the former with a clear Harrison sound, the latter sounding more like Rundgren (but not as heavy handed as he often is). 

The album itself reached number 31 (back when that meant something) and featured uncredited performances by Harrison (slide guitar on "Day After Day") and Leon Russell.

But I digress even without further ado...

First up is the original Badfinger version of the song....

And from a couple of decades later, here is Mariah's version.

This next version is not intended to be part of the battle-I simply remembered they'd done it and thought I'd give you a listen to the Heart version....although nothing stops you from voting for it if you are so inclined...

I mean, it's not like the US Government is spying on you and would know that you voted on an unauthorized BOTB it?

You know how this works...the suspense is killing me!