Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Outfield

For all intent purposes, The Outfield was your basic three chord band that sang about love, failed love and missing love and winning it all love. From their Say It Isn't So, which reminded me of good Utopia to the Yes 90125 inspired Voices Of Babylon The Outfield was one of the brighter spots of the MTV led 80's generation but of course best known for Your Love which was a top 5 single in 1985. In some ways they were the UK counterpart to The Hooters, to which both bands made three albums and then moved over to MCA for a couple more.

For those who want one album, I suggest Big Innings which combines most of their Columbia singles with some choice MCA tracks from Diamond Days and the less satisfying Rockeye although Closer To Me did scrape the top 40 in 1992. Play Deep tends to sound too samey even with the hits and Bangin does rock a bit harder but their best studio album was the David Kahne produced Voices Of Babylon, a surprise failure of a album saleswise but overall, they did manage to alter the sound a bit more. They lost drummer Alan Jackman soon after and Simon Dawson came on board for the pretty good Diamond Days.

After Rockeye, MCA dropped The Outfield but they have continued to record, releasing Extra Innings, a batch of recordings for a sixth album but never happened for the defunct Platinum label and a very good Any Time Now in 2007 for Sidewinder Music. Extra Innings contains They Can't Knock You Down Again, which is the most heavy metal they ever sounded.

In 2009, Alan Jackman rejoined the band as drummer once again and The Outfield are working on a new album which has yet to be released.

The albums

Play Deep Columbia 1985 B
Bangin Columbia 1987 B-
Voices Of Babylon Columbia 1989 A-
Diamond Days MCA 1990 B+
Rockeye MCA 1992 B-
Big Innings Legacy 1996 B+
Extra Innings (unreleased) Platinum 1999 B
Any Time Now Sidewinder Music 2007 B+

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Van Halen

As a senior in high school, my first encounter with Van Halen was on a 8 Track that I bought at the local K Mart. At that time they had a 45 version of You Really Got Me and although it didn't chart very high, it was one of many great songs off their first album. You know you're in for a rude awakening on the backwards guitar intro to Running With The Devil and then Eddie showing off his classical chops on Eruption. In the punk and disco era, Van Halen was a different sound although Ted Templeman recorded it just like he did with the first Montrose album; guitar on one side, the bass in the other and drums down the middle. Of course it all ties in with the crazy singing of one David Lee Roth, the record is so perfect but now classic and modern rock plays Van Halen to death. But back in the days of the eight track, this was our version of modern rock re imagined.

What separates the David Lee Roth years and Sammy Hager is that the DLR albums averaged around 35 minutes, the Hager albums around 54. DLR had 8 to 10 songs, the Sammy years 12 to 15 thereabouts. And even though the Sammy Hager albums weren't all that bad, they had a tendency for the music charts and perhaps spoiled by the keyboard led Jump, Eddie would attempt to be a keyboard player as well as guitarist. I do have a soft spot for 1986's 5150 with Best Of Both Worlds and Get Up but didn't care for Love Walks In. OU812 was even more spottier and less interesting, didn't like it much then, don't care for it now. With For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge that turned out to be the hardest rocking of the Sammy years, Roundaround, Right Now and Top Of The World the best of the bunch, but on a second listen twenty years down the road F.U.C.K. had way too much filler. Balance lacked substance and the less said about Van Halen 3, the better. By then Hagar was bounced, Gary Cherone came onboard and reviews were bad all around. With good reason; Cherone over sings, and Eddie sounds bored throughout the whole 65 and a half minute affair. When listening to this I really wished that Gary, who really was pretty good in Extreme would just shut up.  Only decent moments were Ballot Or The Bullet and although critics hated the final How Many Say I, I actually found it a blessed relief from wanking and screaming of Cherone. With that Warner Brothers dropped them.

Which leads us back to the original lineup. VH2 (1979) was more of the same but with a eye on the charts with top ten Dance The Night Away and the lesser charting Beautiful Girls, but there's no weak tracks on this album either. DOA, Somebody Get Me A Doctor, Out Of Love Again, even the cover of You're No Good was downright rocking. Women & Children First remains my favorite, leading off with And The Cradle Will Rock leading into the voodoo sounding Everybody Wants Some and then the Sabbath like of Fools, ending with the speed metal Romeo Delight. Again no weak cuts on this baby either, side two leading off with the bizarre Tora Tora and Loss Of Control to Take Your Whiskey Home, the goofy Could This Be Magic and concluding with the underrated In A Simple Rhyme which might be a ballad in some ways or a pop song, however I do dig the final 10 seconds of this song to which Eddie and Alex lead off with either a start of a new song or just goofing around.

The dark Fair Warning (1981) more darker and DLR throws a F bomb on Sinners Swing, Eddie throws us a evil opener Mean Street and side B lead off Unchained. Diver Down (1982) got a big hit with cover Oh Pretty Woman but to me that was the least of the DLR albums. It was too jokey and depended too much on covers although I think I liked Where Have All The Good Times Gone better than Pretty Woman. And then MTV broke them big on 1984 with the number 1 Jump. But on that album Eddie Van Halen discovered the keyboards and Alex electric drums. Certainly got top ten hits from I'll Wait and Panama but the lesser known such as House of Pain, Hot For Teacher and the prog rock sounding Drop Dead Legs, Van Halen was moving more away from the guitar drive of the first five records. But it also foretold that Roth didn't like that direction and things came to a head and Roth left for a spotty solo career which had some good moments (Eat Them And Smile) and some forgettable (Your Filthy Dirty Mouth) . Hagar replaced Roth and Van Halen managed to get bigger. Not necessarily better though.

As for their best of collections Best Of Van Halen Volume 1 showcase the battle of Roth vs Hagar and it's mostly the hits warts and all and the two new tracks recorded with David Lee Roth but they're really nothing special. And The Best Of Both Worlds is hardly useful I think. Buyer beware. Certainly Eddie has nothing to prove anymore and any new release wouldn't be a shadow of the glory years. But once upon a time when we were all young, Van Halen was the premier guitar band.

They really were and they still can do it.  In 2012, the first album with David Lee Roth since 1984 came out and A Different Kind Of Truth shows that Eddie still be the best damn guitar player   Tracks like Big River, She's The Woman, Chinatown and You And Your Blues as just as classic as the early stuff.  The recording is a bit muddy and more rawer and could have used the Ted Templeman/Donn Landee touch but musicwise this is their best since Women And Children First.  And that's saying something.  And a surprise since Eddie swore he'd never work with DLR ever again.  But somehow DLR always gets Eddie to play hard too.  And that's a blessing.

Van Halen (WB 1978) A+
Van Halen II (WB 1979) A-
Women & Children First (WB 1980) A+
Fair Warning (WB 1981) A-
Diver Down (WB 1982) B+
1984 (WB 1984) B+
5150 (WB 1986) B+
OU812 (WB 1988) C+
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (WB 1993) B-
Balance (WB 1995) C
Best Of Van Halen Volume 1 (WB 1996) B
Van Halen III (WB 1999) C-
Best Of Both Worlds (WB 2004) C+
A Different Kind Of Truth (Interscope 2012) A-

David Lee Roth albums
Crazy From The Heat EP (WB 1984) C+
Eat Em And Smile (WB 1986) B+
Skyscraper (WB 1988) B-
A Little Ain't Enough (WB 1990) B
Your Filthy Dirty Mouth (Reprise 1994) B
DLR Band (Wawazat 1998) B+
Best (Rhino 1998) B
Diamond Dave (Magna Carta 2003) NR
Sonrisa Salvage (Friday 2007 reissue) B+

Selected Sammy Hagar albums that figured on this
Montrose (WB 1973) A+
Paper Money (WB 1974) B-
Standing Hampton (Geffen 1981) C+
Unboxed (Geffen 1993) B+
Chickenfoot (Redline 2009) A-
Chickenfoot 3 (E1-2011) B+

Certainly Sammy Hagar has a bigger LP discography but I really wasn't that much into his songs. The Capitol albums of the late 70s did spawn some FM classics such as Red or I've Done Everything For You (later covered by Rick Springfield) but I did get Standing Hampton on hit single I'll Fall In Love Again but the B side was a piece of crap called Satisfied, a throwaway if there ever was one. His biggest solo hit was I Can't Drive 55, from the Ted Templeman Produced VOA but never got around buying or reviewing it although I have heard bad reviews of it. And I avoided his MCA albums, didn't care for Mas Tequila. But after being bounced out of Van Halen along with Michael Anthony, they formed the supergroup Chickenfoot and actually made a album that rocked quite hard. I did include include the two Montrose albums simply of the fact that this sound was the basis of Van Halen, and I'm sure Eddie had a copy of that album laying around growing up. Montrose (1973) remains one of the best guitar rock albums ever put out in the 70s with underground classics like Rock The Nation, Make It Last, Space Station Number 5 and my fave Bad Motor Scooter. I do believe if there was no Montrose, there wouldn't be no Van Halen. Just my opinion.

In 2011, Chickenfoot 3 came out and like the first is hard driving rock and roll from Sammy, Joe, Micheal Anthony and Chad, and fun most of the time and still distinctive of having Anthony's backing vocals helping Sammy out.  Surprisingly it didn't sell as well as the first album but for those who love guitar driven rock and roll will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reviews of Albums.

Richard Thompson-Dream Attic (Shout Factory) The world's best unknown guitarist returns once again but this time out plays new songs in front of an audience that is probably going to the bathroom or getting more beer. The major difference between this and his last album Sweet Warrior is that Dream Attic's songs make great instrumentals. Although there are some good numbers (Money Shuffle, Demons In Her Dancing Shoes, Haul Me Up) the majority of the songs sound unfinished and in the case of Crimescene that song may be the worst thing he's ever penned. Plus the 73 minutes totat time of album gets too much to listen all in one setting. His least interesting since the Mitchell Froom overproduced Mirror Blue. C+

Goo Goo Dolls-Something For The Rest Of Us (Warner Bros) As if Let Love In never happened, the Goos give us a return to Boy Named Goo days with the bouncy and catchy Sweetest Lie and then as if their record label reminded them they need a couple hits to stay onboard return to the days of Let Love In with those sappy ballads. Used to be Robby sang the majority of songs up till Boy Named Goo, now Robby is allowed his two songs and one does rock pretty hard. I like them better when they come up with a Sweetest Lie and though it starts out promising, all the Iris rewrites tend to bog this album down in a big way. The girls that grew up listening to Dizzy Up The Girl and Gutterflower I'm sure are not listening to the Goo Goos anymore, they're now grown up and having families of their own. Unlike John Rzeznik still, living in 1997 and still looking for that epic followup to Iris. Improves over Let Love In but not by much. C+

Bob Wiseman Sing Wrench Tuttle-In Her Dream (Atlantic 1990) In Blue Rodeo, Wiseman was the eccentric secret weapon and shaping their early albums up to a cool degree. On his own it's easy to see why Wiseman was kept in check. Inspired by poems sent to him by the elusive Wrench Tuttle (and helped out by some Blue Rodeo players, namely the bass player and drummer and Ben Mink figures in this too) Wiseman adds interesting arrangements and brings in plenty of help from Mary Margaret O'Hara who channels Yoko Ono on Travel Agent. Another problem is the album goes on for 58 minutes and tends to grate on nerves. There's a reason why Wiseman was allowed a couple songs on Blue Rodeo albums, he doesn't sing very well. That's usually a problem for the eccentric artist who tends to make his original band's music sound classic but left to their own devices tend to really go over the edge. This is a classic case in point. C

Music thoughts

It's good to see From Good Homes reuniting and playing around their area although I don't believe that they will record anything new. It's beyond me why they never broke big, their RCA albums were just as good as anything Dave Matthews put out, maybe even better. For a good starting point, find Open Up The Sky and play that.

So Buffalo Springfield is once again returning to the stage although Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer won't be there since they're both dead. But they'll be a part of Young's Bridge concert series and although I don't hold my breath of anything new it all goes to show that as long as you're still alive there will always be a chance for reunions. Even Young sang about Buffalo Springfield Again. The question remains if Steven Stills can sing it better then he did on the CSNY deja vu live album.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It Came From The 80s

In celebrating 29 years of MTV (to which half of that been dedicated to crap reality bullshit) we take a passing look at some of the bands that figured somewhat in the video music era.

Talk Talk-They lived on the diode and keyboard sound and borrowed from the New Romantic period plus Duran Duran and Bryan Ferry figured into their music too. I sure Mark Hollis looked in the mirror and wished he could be as soulful as Ferry. I came across them via confusion, supposedly Ed Hollis who was the Eddie in Eddie & The Hots and got their first single Talk Talk and actually enjoyed that song. But in the end, Talk Talk was more in line with OMD or Duran Duran rather than the Hot Rods. Which lead me to be less interested and listening to their retrospective proved that Synch pop of the 1980s is so damn dated. Their big hit: It's My Life.

Hooters-In 1985 they broke big with Nervous Night which gave us And We Danced, which still sounds great to this day and was a bright spot in Top Forty radio. Their first top forty hit was the oddball Christian-Reggae All You Zombies which hasn't aged very well. Day By Day the followup to And We Danced didn't do so well on the charts and later albums for Columbia and MCA got lost by the wayside. I remember at the time, their other labelmate The Outfield scored big time with Play Deep and Say It Isn't So but like The Hooters, their second album bombed and they too would move on to MCA.

Mr. Mister-Richard Page was a background singer that helped the success with REO Speedwagon so it was no big deal when he formed his own band and signed with RCA. Their big hit and biggest nadir is the Foreigner lite Broken Wings which continues to grate on people's nerves and ears on the eternal damnation we call soft rock radio. Kyrene was a better song, not as annoying but the followup album Go On flopped and Mr Mister was no more and Richard Page would go on to a solo career. But Broken Wings will continue to pay the bills since corporate radio seems to like that crap. The drummer for Mr. Mister would go on to play in King Crimson.

Level 42-One of the more better synth pop band in the mid 80s, they scored a big hit with Something About You but I think these guys had a bit more progressive rock in them at least in the early years they did. Later moved on to RCA for one and remained over the pond from there on out. But I do like their Best of that I found for a buck better than the Talk Talk best of.

A-ha Take On Me, what else do you need to know from these Swedish clowns? Further proof that 1985 was the worst year in recorded music prior to the discovery of the autotuner.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Gin Blossoms

Out of all of the bands that were buzzbin worthy of the 1990s, I followed the Gin Blossoms more than the others simply of the fact that they came from my old stompin ground of Tempe Arizona and I came across them by accident of being the last second replacement of the beloved Sand Rubies/Sidewinders at Chuy's. So seating in front of them with some super fans and part of the opening act band Echo House I got to see and hear the majority of the Gin Blossoms songs to which their A and M debut was slated to be released later that summer of 1992.

They had a connection with the Sidewinders by releasing their debut on the San Jacinto Label which was owned by Rich Hopkins of that band. The GBs had a great songwriter with another Hopkins, the late genius Doug whose fondness for the outrageous and booze led to his parting of the GBs. The first album Dusted is in that Arizona pop rock that the Sidewinders was famous for and a lot of the songs off that album got remade for New Miserable Experience. Dusted was out of print and highly sought after till the GB's reissued it for a brief time on their Gin Blossom label.

If you want to know about 90s power pop from Arizona, New Miserable Experience remains one of the best albums of the 1990s with songs such as Hey Jealousy, Mrs. Rita, Untill I Fall Away, Found Out About You and Alison Road. It was that rare album that the label picked no fewer than five songs for singles and all got airplay bigtime in 1992-1993. But also the GBs also had minor hits with a nice cover of Soul Deep and another concert favorite Idiot Summer. New Miserable Expierence can be found in the dollar bins but I still think it remains their most perfect album and A and M expanded it with a bonus cd of choice live cuts and a couple from Dusted and other tracks that didn't make it on the album. Critics didn't care much for it, in fact old crank Robert Christgau gave NME a C plus and dismissed it but I believe that record went above him. In the classic rock of the 90s, Mrs Rita or Hey Jealousey is playing somewhere.

But what was supposed to be their shining moment, they never quite recaptured the pop magic of that album after Doug Hopkins departed (Hopkins later formed The Chimeras and wrote songs that would be become Mistaken For Granted before committing suicide). True they continue to have radio hits with Follow You Down and the Marshall Crenshaw cowrite Till I Hear It From You but Congratulations I'm Sorry, while good wasn't great. While A&M backed them wholeheartedly, there are actually more best of Gin Blossoms then there are actual albums. Outside Looking In, pretty much cherry picks the best of both albums and that got replaced by the 20th Century Masters Series.

The Gin Blossoms broke up, Robin Wilson formed the more darker rocking Gas Giants and did a decent album and then did a cartoon recording with famed cult guitarist Tommy Keene. Jesse Valenzula made two decent albums as a soloist and with The Odd's Craig Northney. And then in 2006 The GB's reformed and made Major Lodge Victory on Hybrid, this time with help from Danny Wilde. But Hybrid went bellyup but the Gin Blossoms continue to tour and have a new album coming out on SLG's 429 Records in September.

But I still continue to have good memories of this Tempe band that continues to play up here in Iowa in the summertime. Saw them during the Flood Festival of 1993 and they will be playing at the Bar B Q festival on June 25, 2010. And they still remain one of the best live acts to see, even 18 years after encountering them at Chuy's. And still despite so so recordings remains one of my favorites acts to come out of the 1990s.

"Hello, we are the Gin Blossoms from Tempe Arizona, ready to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and we all out of bubble gum............................."

The albums:
Dusted (San Jacinto/Gin Blossoms Records 1989) A-
New Miserable Expierence (A&M 1992) A-
Up And Crumblin' (A&M EP) B+
Congratulations I'm Sorry (A&M 1996) C+
Outside Looking In-The Best Of (A&M 1999) B+
Major Lodge Victory (Hybrid 2006) B
In Concert (Cleopatra 2009) B
New Miserable Experience Expanded Edition (A&M 2009) A-
No Chocolate Cake (629/Savoy 2010) B

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bands Of Passing Interest For June

Here at the RSCMC, I keep the subject on music and bands of note. I kinda gotten a bit lazy over the past three months and with further prodding from my GF, I decided to add a couple bands of note, meaning bands that I do have a few albums from but not all of them. Consider them a step ahead of Can't Review Them All but a step below of a discography. Since I don't get much traffic in the RSCMC I pretty much consider this my own reference guide.


They were ahead of the Eagles in terms of forming to play country rock and roll and somehow can be blamed or praised for country music today. I'm not exactly a big fan of Poco but I do have a couple of their albums. My favorite remains Delivern' their 1971 live which is the final album of their famed lineup of Jim Messina, Richie Furay, Rusty Young, Tim Schmidt and George Grantham. Randy Meisner who played on Pickin Up The Pieces was the original bass player and left due to problems with Messina. And they Had a minor hit with A Man Like Me. I could refer you to the Very Best Of Poco, the 2 record overview which showcases the highlights (You Better Think Twice, Good Feeling To Know) as well as the lowlites (Bad Weather) but I perfer their rocking country over the country ballads that tend to drag their albums down particularly From The Inside. But however I docked the CD copy of Very Best Of Poco twice for the omission of Railroad Days which was the hardest rocking track on From The Inside.

Even though the original lineup tends to be fondly remembered it was Paul Cotton and Rusty Young keeping the name and band going throughout their career, espeically after Furay departed after Good Feelin To Know. I do have a fondness for their forgotten Cantamos album and have kept a lookout for their 1975 ABC debut Head Over Heals which includes the beautiful Keep On Trying. Each album got them more closer to MOR than country and radio played Crazy Love and Heart Of The Night from Legend. Under The Gun was uneven as hell despite having a nice rocking title track and though I heard good reviews of Cowboys And Englishmen, never heard the album itself. Last single I brought was 1983's This Old Flame which was on Atlantic and though Rhino issued both of Poco's albums on Atlantic as a two on one, it may have been the weakest albums from them. And then just in time for the CD age, RCA got the original band back together to do the moneygrab Legacy with the original lineup and although they had their biggest hit since Crazy Love with Call It Love, it was not too inspired. Part of the problem was Paul Cotton was missing, they had too many outside songwriters and the music wasn't memorable.

Although they were mostly a cult band, the best album to get remains The Ultimate Collection from Hip-O, since it contains most of their well known songs for Epic, ABC-MCA, Atlantic and Call It Love song. But for original Poco material, it's Deliverin for me and Contamos and Head Over Heals.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Crabb Music Consortium Reviews-Americana

Golden Smog-Stay Golden Smog The Rykodisc Years (Rhino-2008) A busman's holiday of sorts, Golden Smog made two albums and an EP for Rykodisc to which half of Down By The Mainstream is used and half of Strange Tales. Mainstream was the better of the two and On Golden Smog wasn't even used and Another Fine Day was on Lost Highway and the folks at Rhino didn't want to spring to license that album. Which is a shame since AFD was their best.
Made up of members of The Jayhawks, Wilco, Soul Asylum, Honeydogs, Run Westy Run and later getting Jody Stephens of Big Star to help out on drums. For the Ryko years V was by far their best song which would have fitted perfectly on Hollywood Town Hall. MVP: Gary Louris who could harmonize with the best of them. The weakest link: Kraig Johnson of Run Westy Run who sang like he wanted to be someplace else. And caught in the middle: Jeff Tweety, still into country but would get warped forever by OK Computer and gave the world Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Wilco became larger than life. Grade C+

Tennessee Ernie Ford-Vintage Collections (Capitol 1996) One of the greatest gospel singers of all time, Ford was always very good (and better) at jump blues, swing and country music. In fact, Mule Train might well be the very first Americana songs ever recorded. Country Junction owes a lot to Bob Wills and Hambone shows Ford had a ear for good novelty. Also got good female counterpoint in You're My Sugar with Kay Starr and Helen O'Connell on Hank Sr's Hey Good Looking. He never did top Mule Train, nor Sixteen Tons which solidified him as a great country singer but once he started doing hymms and gospel numbers people remember him more. This collection focuses the majority of songs from 1949 to 1953, with only three selections after that includes 1955's Sixteen Tons, 1956's First Born which hints of a more gospel direction and 1965's Hicktown. Nothing wrong with his gospel albums but when the man did swing and country, he was just as good as the rest were, and more distinctive with that baritone he had. Grade A-

George Jones-Early Hits-The Starday Recordings (Time Life 2007) Jones was destined for stardom with Why Baby Why and although people remember him more for the ballads, I thought that his uptempo numbers were even better. Mercury has a much better overview with the 2cd Cup Of Sorrow but left off his hard rocking Revenoor Man which was demoted to a forgotten budget cd The Classic Years. But in the mid 50s, Jones was a hard core honky tonker and with that crew cut he simply looked evil back then. And yes, he had his Hank on too, listen to his first session outtake For Sale Or Lease. But with Don't Stop The Music or Just Once More, that was Jones in his own persona and it would take him to bigger hits for United Aritists and Epic years later. Grade B+

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pawnshoppe Music Reviews

Basically most came from the FYE store and 60 percent off used stuff. Not like we wanted to pay 20 bucks them anyway.

Patti Scialfa-23rd Street Lullaby (Columbia 2004) Mrs. Bruce Springsteen's second album and she's still feeling her way around the recording studio but this shows a bit of the spark that would make her next album Play It As It Lays her classic. Too many Sheryl Crowisms espeically on Love (Stand Up), and hubby only makes a cameo on three tracks. But it does amaze me that her albums are not overproduced like Bruce's last three. Good in spots but not a consistant listen. B-

Rainbow-Down To Earth (Polydor 1979) Graham Bonnet replaces Dio on this and Richie Blackmore goes for a more mainstream sound. This record gave us All Night Long and Since You've Been Gone, which was covered by Head East, The Currie Sisters and few others. Record got panned by the media but Martin Popoff gave it a 10 and called it an instant classic. Wouldn't go so far in terms of saying that but it does have its moments. Side note: Roger Glover, former Deep Purple, produced and played bass. B+

Gretchen Wilson's Greatest Hits (Columbia 2010) Funny how country radio made her an overnight sensation with Redneck Woman and then after three albums Sony Nashville kicked her to the curb. Her best was the overlooked One Of The Boys and she could cover Billie Holliday as well as Heart, perferred her God Bless The Child over Barracuda. She was also a better rocker than balladeer (All Jacked Up, Here For The Party) and sometimes the Muzik Mafia could give her some decent stuff. Of course, nothing ever came close to the hell yeah of Redneck Woman and her video of being Momma Badass striking the fear into Kid Rock and Hank Jr. And she could throw in a bitchslap to Miranda Lambert on Homewrecker but unlike Lambert, Wilson's songwriting couldn't keep up with the more feisty Lambert and sometimes John Rich comes more as a liability than asset. Still Greatest Hits presents Wilson as a great singles artist and party animal in a course of three albums. Side Note: Wilson's latest album is called I Got Your Country Right Here on her own Redneck label. Here's hoping she's does good although Sony Nashville dicked around with her the last year or so. Grade B+

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

can't review them all-old dad's records

I grew up in a music collecting family. My mom had plenty of 45s to keep me occupied and there was always some spare change to go to Woolworth's to pick up 3 for a dollar 45s. Dad was more into country and western and oddball music. Such of this month's edition of CRTA.

Freddy Fender
The Tex Mex version of Elvis, he had a regional hit with Wasted Days And Wasted Nights back in the late 60s but his arrest of drug procession did him in for 15 years. Struck it big with Before The Next Teardrop Falls for Dot Records which begain his classic period. My dad wore this song out likewise the remake of Wasted Days & Wasted Nights. Further investigation reveals that his early stuff for Chess and minor labels do process a lot of rock n roll with them and the GRT LP Since I Met You Baby despite updated music overdubbing showed Fender was more rock than country. The Best Of Freddy Fender (later on CD) is best overview of the ABC-Dot years which that Freddy and Huey P Meaux knew what to pick and cover for songs. His Sugar Coated Love crossed into the rock chart briefly in 1977. Fender moved over to Starflite/CBS in 1978, and does a fine cover of Squeeze Box. I don't think my dad played much of the followup Together We Drifted Apart and soon after that Freddy disappeared till Doug Sham tapped him to be a part of the Texas Tornados which did three good albums for Reprise, and Fender re recorded his hits for The Freddy Fender Collection. Like Doug Sham, Fender passed away and sometimes classic country will revisit Before The Next Teardrop Falls or Wasted Days & Wasted Nights although I was surprised to hear Secret Love at the Classic Closet thrift store the other day. There are some compliations out there worth nothing, a couple of spanish only albums which Fender did nicely but for myself The Best Of Freddy Fender pretty much captures childhood memories of Dad singing along to those old scratchy 45s. Memories indeed.

Mitch Miller
The guy hated rock and roll, what more can one say about not reviewing any of his albums but I will give Mitch credit for shaping that Columbia sound of lots of echo in the background and The Bridge On The River Kiwi is regularly played at Greyhound parks everywhere. But back in the 50s, Mitch and his gang would do those singalongs that my old Grandpa would sing too. Mitch Miller's Greatest Hits is a curio I guess of that past, but like Mantovani, there's a reason why you see his albums gathering mold in the basement or at the Salvation Army, their biggest fans are now dead. Even our folks had a copy of Your Request in the record collection. Mitch is still alive and in his 90s but I'm guessing he still plays some of his music.

Slim Whitman
For use only in Mars invasion, Slim was the original rage in the 50s, scoring big hits over in England and a few over here via Imperial Records. Even scored a hit with Birmingham Jail for RCA as well but his yodeling...hmmm you're either a fan or foe of it. The guy enjoyed two comebacks, one in 1980 for that TV commerical for All My Best, then signed with Cleveland Entertainment for a few years. Second comeback was in the flop movie Mars Attacks! to which the world is saved when Grandma put out her Slim Whitman tape and watching Marsians' head explode since they couldn't handle that yodel. Like Freddy Fender, my dad would sing along to the record. In the CD age, Slim hasn't fared as well. I haven't seen any of the Epic/Cleveland International stuff out on CD but Capitol Records quietly put out the budget line Vintage Collection to which contains most of the Imperial Records that put Slim on the map.

Johnny Mathis
Now Dad didn't like JM at all, in fact he used Johnny's Greatest Hits to use as target practice. Somebody in the family did, we had 4 Johnny albums. He worked better as a singles artist (Wonderful Wonderful, It's Not For Me To Say, Gina) as he worked with Mitch Miller in order to save everybody from the evils of rock and roll. Some was good (Open Fire Two Guitars), most was make out music and I never did heard any of his Mercury albums. He later returned back to Columbia to make his typical MOR make out music but I do have a soft spot for 1973's I'm Coming Home, which was produced by Thom Bell and done with the MFSB band and had a hit with Life's A Song Worth Singing. After that, I can live without.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Review Consortium

I love music. It's the only thing that matters to me.

For years I've been putting thoughts together in MSN Groups, My Space and Multiply since 2003 but before that I was a freelance writer for the free review papers that seemed to be the rage before the internet made things easier. For the past couple years I have been trying to find a better website than My Space and decided to settle on Blogspot for music reviews. Which is why I call this the Music Consortium since this will deal with music and music only. I might be a bit long winded or I may not give it enough attention but this is a work in process and spelling might be suspect and I may add run on sentences. But since I'm not getting paid for this, this is yet another music review site of music that matters to me or perhaps to you.

I have been told that my blogs have gotten better over the years and thanks for the comments to that. I know for sure that I'm not as extreme as I used to be although I have been known to throw a few f bombs in my other sites. I'm a observationist and I write like that. And I love to talk about music of the 50s through the 90s although I will comment on something new or even stuff before 1954 which is considered the beginning of the rock and roll era. I do like to read what Robert Christgau writes although he tends to favor rap and world music more than I care about. And Mark Prindle remains a great read, although he might be a bit TV-MA for the faint of heart or conservatives. I've known to chat with TAD from his website and he has extensive knowledge of music of the early 70s and prog rock.

Here in the Consortium, I will point out my favorite sites for music or where to find cheap cds, or those hard to find radio stations that go beyond the overplayed crap you hear on classic rock or modern rock or top forty and country. As I add more to this site, I'll be adding artists and bands from all decades, and add some country and jazz and blues to boot. What you will think about Tangerine Dream or the great Theolonois Monk or Foghat is up to you but they are a vast part of my listening pleasure here at the Consortium. I love Buddy Holly and Bobby Fuller but also enjoy Bobby Darin or Big Joe Turner. However there are other bands that I never gotten into (Bon Jovi, Poison, Radiohead, Motley Crue, Animal Collective) so I might include them into something I called Can't Review Them All. Sure it'd be easy to slam a Limp Bizkit or Mr. Mister but I think I will take the high road and let somebody else do the slamming for me.

Again, these are only my opinions so it shouldn't be the end of the world if I dis Train's Save Me San Francisco or Head East US 1, or think Sgt Pepper is only a B plus album. Everybody's ears are different so results will vary. And every Thursday I add something I call the Top Ten Of The Week which are songs off albums that I have played during the week, or something that I found at the pawnshop or thift store. Or it could be a scratchy 45 in my collection or heard off the radio. I do have a small following of fans that do enjoy reading the top ten so I keep them happy by putting one out every week. Maybe I'll have some new folks over here but maybe not. Don't know unless we try eh?

And so it goes. Here's hoping that the R S Crabb Music Consortium will be a entertaining read for you as well. Check back whenever ya can and as they say..."keep it rocking".

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Some Crabb Reviews.

Trouble-Simple Mind Condition (Escapi Music)

Trouble's first new album in 15 years remains true to the heavy metal music of the late 80s when they made two classic albums for Rick Rubin's Def American label (why they haven't been reissued is beyond me). Unlike thrash of Metallica or Slayer, Trouble remains more in tune of early Black Sabbath but not as dark and sometimes can be enlightning. Their cover of Ride The Sky starts with the riff like Immigrant Song from Led Zeppelin and Goin Home is the stuff that would find regular rotation on Headbangers Ball (circa 1989 mind you). Eric Wagner remains in nice vocal form. Not a dull track and if you enjoy metal like it used to be before Poison and Motley Crue came and polluted Simple Mind Condition should be on your player. Grade A-
Cuts: Goin Home, Ride The Sky, Arthur Brown's Whiskey Bar, After The Rain

Manic Street Preachers-Send Away The Tigers (Columbia)
2007 album and although it rocks pretty hard it lacks the focus of their 2009 Journal For Plague Lovers lyricwise. Without Richey James' lyrical help MSP lose their way. But it does get better with throwaways such as I'm Just A Pansy or Winterlovers. Grade B-

Genesis-Live (Atlantic)
I have a Twitter buddy that has been supplying me with Gentle Giant songs, for what reason I don't know. Genesis has always been an underground band around 1973 to which when this album was released to the world (on the famous Charimsa Label) and the bizarre word of Peter Gabriel and although not a total waste, it serves purpose to me that I still can't get into this period of Genesis although Watcher Of The Skies and The Knife are top flight. Grade C+

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to the new R S Crabb Music Site

Greetings music lovers.

After four years at My Space I have taken my act elsewhere to blogspot to give you The R S Crabb Music Consortium, another music fandom site that offers yet another alternative to the same old same old.

For seven years I've been doing something called the Crabb Top Ten on My Space and MSN Groups. I wanted a more suitable and more reliable site that has easy access to the archives past and be user friendly. I have another site on Blogspot called The Thoughts Of R Smith and that one is more of a lifestyle and diary of things going on.

I'm not sure if i want to do a weekly top ten but I do want to do a review consortium of music that i have reviewed. I think I'll settle for the decades of the 60s to the fairly new decade but will dive into the 50s and earlier if need be.

So here tis. And look forward to reviews and comments in the future.