Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bush Revisited

Bush has been one of those bands that have benefited quite well from the dollar shop pawnshop buys that I have been doing the past few years.   For a band that has never really captured my fancy, Bush will go down in history has coming flying out of the runway with Everything Zen, which is perhaps the best Nirvana rip ever.  Unlike Kurt Cobain, Gavin Rossdale owes a bit more to the classic rock sound to which Everything Zen kinda reminds me of Crazy Horse (don't ask why they just do). My second favorite song from that album Sixteen Stone, the 45 second X Girlfriend.

Throughout their course of history, Bush's British Grunge music sounded perfect for alt radio and modern rock to which KRNA still plays Everything Zen and a couple others from the first album but nevertheless Bush has never been a critic's fave band no matter what they do.  The Steve Albini recorded Razorblade Suitcase was supposed to give them street cred, but that bombed as many a copy found itself into the dollar bins all across America and the problem wasn't Albini's production but rather a lack of songs that took up too much time and not worth remembering.  Deconstructed, was a techno flop, re-imagined the hits for techno dance and over an hour?  Not worth your time nor mine. The Science Of Things reunited them with the original producers who produced Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe back in the 80s but in 1999 it's a different story but The Science Of Things really starts out great with Warm Machine and Jesus Online and even The Chemicals Between Us is listenable for techno, but the rest of the album falters.  Cut the filler down to a reasonable 10 songs and it could be their classic.

Somehow Rossdale and company moved over to Atlantic for the ill fated Golden State before disbanding, Bush forming a new band Institute with Page Hamilton playing guitar and Distort Yourself which also featured Chris Traynor gave a harder edge sound that was lacking in Bush.  Rossdale made a listenable solo album Wanderlust, which All Music calls him the Grunge Peter Cetera (ouch).  Has its moments but for the most part you can live without it too.

And then Rossdale does the unthinkable, brings the Bush name out of mothballs, keeps the original drummer and adds Chris Traynor and makes the best album of their career, the Bob Rock produced The Sea Of Memories to which Bush finally becomes a good hard rock band and not a grunge bunch like they're known in the past.  And against all odds succeeds, thus getting this reviewer to go back and review their past catalog (and not costing me over 8 dollars in getting the back catalog).  For the most part Bush is in need of  a decent ICON collection that Interscope is famous for but since Kirkland Records has been reissuing the Trauma albums of the 90s we probably won't see that happening.  But as for yourself, your better off with Sixteen Stone and the Sea Of Memories  to understand what makes Bush a band to hear.  If not, well, there's better bands to cast your lot with.

UPDATED: Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase were once again reissued via Zuma Rock and I'm sure Science Of Things has been as well  although I didn't see it at Best Buy.  The usual propaganda of Remastered For The First Time (what the hell were the original Trauma/Kirtland CDs were supposed to be?  Remastered is a very very overused term since everytime you burn a copy, you're remastering it yourself).  After a one off with E One music, Bush signs up with Zuma Rock on a Sony Music deal and issues Man On The Run.  If you liked or love Sixteen Stone you'll tolerate Man On The Run although Nick Raskulinecz (Rush, Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains) really doesn't do much outside of turn the recording levels up higher than usual.  If Sea Of Memories was an extension of Distort Yourself, Man On The Run is basically Sixteen Stone Redux but without a key song like Everything Zen to make it memorable.   It's not bad, some songs are worthy of a second or third listen (Just Like My Other Sins, Loneliness Is A Killer) and the original album closer Eye Of The Storm could be an album cut for album rock, if there's such a thing.  But Rossdale will write a song that makes one smirk (Let Yourself Go, is about as dumb as the Breathe In Breathe out rant from Machinehead off 16 Stone) and in this day and age he will not convert new listeners or stifle his critics that like Bush as much as they do Nickleback, so Man On A Run is for fans and followers only.  The album is a tad bit more disappointing than Sea Of Memories, but the key element of Chris Traynor as member of band keeps Bush more rocking than usual, although Corey Blitz is more of a hired hand. Give Gavin Rossdale this, while the critics been after his head for 2 decades and waiting for him to fail, he continues to defiles them all.  Much to their dismay.

Update: In 2017 Rossdale came up with Black And White Rainbows, a somewhat more upbeat album considering that his marriage to Gwen Stefani crashed down beginning with Mad Love and continuing through Water and Lost In You although perhaps Gavin might be thinking more of his new found love, or perhaps a love letter to the remaining Bush fans out there.  The record drags on way too long and too many slower tempo songs at the end kinda makes this a chore to listen through if you're not a hardcore fan.  But it doesn't differ much from Sixteen Stone (to which let's face it will be the album that Bush will be forever remembered); it may have meant more if this was the followup to that album rather than the dull thud of Razorblade Suitcase 20 years earlier, but radio will not bend over backwards to play Black And White Rainbows, Bush's time has come and gone.  They could benefit from a best of.  But in theory, Rossdale has never topped Everything's Zen, that the first song that started a career and he could never follow it up with another rip roaring song.  I still think 2010's Sea Of Memories is their best overall album and Sixteen Stone the only other album you could ever want.  But I'm mostly amazed of myself  to continue to follow the antics of Gavin Rossdale and Bush by buying Man On The Run and Black And White Rainbows, knowing full well they might have a good song or two, but in the end they would stockpile their album with five or six subpar filler songs and lose whatever interest that I have had in the first place.  I doubt there'll be a next time, but I can never write Bush off.  It's a hard habit to break.

Sixteen Stone (Kirtland 1994) B
Razorblade Suitcase (Kirtland 1996)  C
Deconstructed (Trauma 1997) C-
The Science Of Things (Kirtland 1999) B
Golden State (Atlantic 2001) B-
Institute-Distort Yourself (Interscope 2005) B
Gavin Rossdale-Wanderlust (Interscope 2008) C+
The Sea Of Memories (E One 2010) B+
Man On The Run (Zuma Rock/Sony Music 2014) B
Black And White Rainbows (Zuma Rock/Caroline 2017) B

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Paul Revere And The Raiders

Three years ago I attempted to put into words the legacy of Paul Revere And The Raiders and their music.  This the original posting on the Record World Blog  http://rscrabb.blogspot.com/2011/04/crabb-bits-mel-mcdaniel-paul-revere.html

Three years on and the death of Paul Revere got me to return to their recordings and revisit what I thought of their 2 CD Essential Paul Revere And The Raiders, overall time has shown that was the best overview.  Basically the more scattershot Legend Of Paul Revere, the bloated 2 CD set Columbia issued in 1990 turned out the be the better overall overview.  More that album shows the tale of the two Paul Revere And The Raiders bands; the first the overall party band led by Revere and the second the more hit laden and pop leanings  of Mark Lindsay.   The liner notes to the 1990 best of by William Ruhlmann are a must read.  With both Paul and Mark providing insights it does show that the band had inner struggles between the two performers all the way back to when Lindsay popped up onstage in the early beginnings of The Raiders and impressing Paul to let him into the band.  It also shows that Lindsay can be full of himself at times too, whereas Revere remained the fun loving rock and roll guy who specialized in bad jokes and taking Louie Louie down the road further than the Kingsmen, though that band had the bigger hit.  It was sloppy fun, The Raiders' version was more jammy and since Lindsay didn't sing much of the song outside of Louie Louie hook line the song wouldn't dent the top 100. The Legend Of Paul Revere, the best of, is looked upon as one cd dedicated to the covers and the party time feeling of their leader, while the second focuses on Lindsay's studio version of the Raiders, more sessionmen than band members, which did struck a nerve on The Raiders themselves, three of them moved over to The Brotherhood and making two albums for RCA.  In their place, Freddy Weller and Keith Allison, more polished musicians would take their place.

The fun band that Paul Revere envisioned made recordings for Gardena and had a number 38 hit in 1961 with Like Long Hair or Beatnik Sticks and are on The Legend Of P.R. Mojo Workout, a sprawling two cd set that Sundazed put out in 2000 shows the dirty R and B and early rock songs that Paul liked.  Problem was Mark Lindsay couldn't deliver them in the same way.  Good example was the uncharting Over You, which Aaron Neville did much better.  And in these changing times, it's a bit creepy hearing Lindsay singing he's going to  kill his love interest if she goes cheating on him. Mojo Workout taken on its own is nice party music for the early 60s, the covers well known and chosen but Linsday can't sing them that well.  But then on track 18, when Steppin Out comes marching in, they were on to garage rock and that's when Lindsay does come into his own, the material is better suited for him rather than Over You or Slippin And Slidin'.

The big success of their hits, Terry Melcher gets full credit and he had a way to make the songs and hooks sound better.  In fact AM radio was perfect for Him Or Me What's It Gonna Be, or Kicks.  The albums themselves were peppered with R and B or an occasional ballad.  Just Like Us might have been the perfect introduction to The Raiders, with even Drake Levin and Mike Smith singing a song or two.  Here They Come is a half live half studio affair and the live side captures the craziness of a Paul Revere concert.  It's good fun to hear Louie Louie live and them romping through Do You Love Me or lead off You Can't Sit Down, a song that features that rare Mark Lindsay's sax solo. The studio side, showed The Raiders trying their best to cover Time Is On My Side, although it pales next to The Stones or Irma Thomas. They also cover PF Sloan on These Are Bad Times For Me And My Baby.  Not a total wasted effort but Here They Come is the first true Raiders album, in search of their own sound.

Midnight Ride was better, with Kicks being the big hit and Not Your Stepping Stone a album cut classic, it could have been a hit single for them, but The Monkees beat them to it.  Amazingly when the band was going through changes The Spirit Of 67 and Revolution remain my favorite albums from them.  By then Paul Revere was more interested in their live performances so it was Mark Lindsay and Terry Melcher with some studio musicians coming in to help; Hal Blaine is on Him Or Me (not Jim Gordon as rumors have it)  Spirit Of 67 features The Great Airplane Strike which gives The Rolling Stones a run for their money. Mark dominates the singing with Fang and Mike Smith singing one song apiece. Revolution is their heaviest album...and their strangest.  Some of the songs appeared in mono, the most oddest is Make It With Me, which Lindsay's vocals are buried in the fuzz, even the backing vocals are mixed higher up.  Only Paul Revere appears as the other vocalist on Ain't Nobody Can Do It Like Leslie Can (mixed in mono).  The CD version, now out or print and commanding high prices has an extended Him Or Me and The Legend Of Paul Revere (the song). The haunting I Hear A Voice, to which Mark and The Raiders sing along to a moody Revere piano.  Their finest moment.

Once Terry Melcher left to do other things, Lindsay took over production and they went pop with each new album.  Influenced by Sgt Pepper, Something Happening, is more Magical Mystery Tour with the oddball horns, and stop start bridges (Too Much Talk).  Being on Dick Clark's Where The Action Is  in the afternoon opened up new doors, but it also begins a bubblegum type of pop that I don't think Lindsay envisioned and has said that Melcher was missed big time.  Something Happening, while more polished wasn't as memorable as Revolution, only Don't Take It So Hard saves the album from being more slight.  Hard And Heavy With Marshmellow, another play on words by Mark is even more bubblegum with Mr. Sun And Mr. Moon, but the record is saved by the four minute and more mysterous sounding Cinderella Sunshine (A 2 minute up tempo track became a 45 but to these ears not as essential) and perhaps it's was becoming that The Raiders were trying to keep up with The Monkees. Only this time The Monkees made a better album.

Alias Pink Puzz is the final good album, and for the first time since The Spirit Of 67, the other Raiders add their two cents worth, most notably Keith Allison's Freeborn Man, which is more country than rock. In some ways I look at Pink Puzz like I do at the S/T Association album, it does show the bands doing something more different than the bubblegum pops that Lindsay was turning them out to be.  I'm not sure how radio mistook them for another band when Let Me came out under the Pink Puzz name, Lindsay has a distinctive voice  and if the fool radio programmer was didn't know that, he surely would by the MA MA MA MAA scream at end of song.   Collage, the next album, a lot of people like more but for me it was more a letdown. This record has more to do with the Monkees' Head album rather than Sgt Pepper's and Lindsay remade Tighter and Gone Movin On to a more polished but lest interesting version.  The problem of this album is that it's too bizarre, and Lindsay trying to keep up with the times made a dated effort, the screams all over Sorceress With The Blue Eyes or Dr. Fine makes one reach for the Fast Forward button. And Just Seventeen is just a bad song overall, probably the worst song they ever put out since Over You.  It's not all a wasted effort, We Gotta All Get Together in single form is fairly good till the last minute and half drags it down, a cover of Laura Nyro's Save The Country and Interlude (To Be Forgotten) are highlights.  But I tend to look at Collage is one of the more overrated albums of the 60s, even from Paul Revere And The Raiders themselves.

By then, Lindsay convinced Revere to change the name to The Raiders and in 1971 they finally scored their first and only number 1 hit with Indian Reservation. The album itself is famous for Mike Smith returning back to drums.  But the album itself is all over the place, there are some questionable remakes (the world could live without with Eve Of Destruction) and Max Frost and The Troopers aren't losing sleep over The Shape Of Things To Come.  Although I think Lindsay showed some music taste in covering Come In You'll Get Phenomena (the Easybeats song) the problem was he lacked the vocal and arrangement to pull it off. The success of the single enabled Columbia to release another album and the final one was the uneven Country Wine.  First side is good, the title track, Power Blue Mercedes Queen (with a riff taken from Mississippi Queen) standouts, but side 2 whatever Lindsay came up with, the songs simply were awful and ranks with the worst that they ever done.  The failure of their 1974 single All Over You, a Bob Dylan song made their label decide to not issue another album and the Raiders decade long association with Columbia was over, sans a forgotten 1975 single Gonna Have A Good Time b/w the bland Your Love which appears on the now deleted and hard to find Complete Columbia Singles on Collector's Choice Music.  By then Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere decided to go their own ways.  Revere would form his own Raiders in the late 70s, and instead of doing new recordings, stayed true to his vision of being a fun and party band, playing the hits and doing comedy skits and routines and become one of the most loved entertainers till his death.  Lindsay's latest album actually sounds more rocking to the early Raiders rather than the MOR pop he was doing in the late 60s and early 70s: having hits with Arizona and Silverbird.  The Real Gone Columbia Singles of Mark Lindsay CD, warts and all isn't bad.  In 2013 Mark released Life Out Loud and is by far his most rocking album to date. It does actually recall a lot of Spirit Of 67 or Revolution, it's a shame that Mark didn't go this way after those albums.

In some ways The Complete Columbia Singles a great beginning and end saga of the happenings of Paul Revere And The Raiders and if you can find it fairly cheap is the recommended overview.  But it also documents the downfall as well.  The Raiders really begin to lose their ID on the 3rd CD.  A development of being wild garage rockers that gave The Wailers a run for their money to a garage rock sound and then on to pop bubblegum.  Cheaper alternatives remain the latest 2 CD best of Paul Revere And The Raiders or even the first Paul Revere And The Raiders Greatest Hits revision with a few bonus tracks tacked on for better value. Sundazed used to have all of the Paul Revere And The Raiders' classic 60s album but most have fallen out of print, as of this writing only Just Like Us, Mojo Workout, Midnight Ride are in print.  However Raven Records down under has kept their albums in print, including Indian Reservation/Collage as a 2 on 1 CD. They also packaged the first five Columbia albums on a double value 2 cd set.  Something Has Happened includes the next four (Goin To Memphis, Something Happening, Hard And Heavy, Pink Puzz) into a 2 CD set.  So if you buy these two Raven packages you will have the complete Paul Revere on Columbia collection.  The Aussies seem to take great pride in preserving music that the Sony Music here in the states has given up years ago.  I still hold claim that their 1972 All Time Greatest Hits is the go to album but since that has never on CD, it's a moot point but if you do come across it, it's still worth a listen.

But being the madman in rock and roll Paul Revere, bless his heart, lived his dream to the fullest, when Jack White made a comment about how old men can't rock anymore, Revere told him to put up or shut up, but White never took the challenge.  His loss.  But what we all know, Paul Revere remained the real deal, and never a phoney or fake. Thankfully, his recordings will continue to live on, making new fans who don't get the new rock of today.  Or just get tired of whatever Jack White is putting down.


Here They Come (Columbia 1964) B+
Just Like Us (Sundazed Reissue) B+
Midnight Ride (Columbia 1966) B+
Spirit Of 67 (Columbia 1967) A-
Paul Revere And The Raiders Greatest Hits (Columbia 1967 revised 1999) A-
Revolution! (Columbia 1967) A-
Gone To Memphis (Columbia 1968) C+
Something Happening (Columbia 1968) B-
Hard And Heavy (With Marshmellow-Columbia 1968) B-
Alias Pink Puzz (Columbia 1969) B+
Collage (Columbia 1970) B-
Indian Reservation (Columbia 1971) B-
Country Wine Plus (Raven 2011) C+
All Time Greatest Hits (Columbia 1972) A-
A Christmas Past...And Present (Koch Reissue 2007) B
The Legend Of Paul Revere (Columbia 1990) B
The Essential Ride 63-67) (Columbia 1996) A-
Mojo Workout (Sundazed 2000) B
The Complete Columbia Singles (Collector's Choice 2010) A-
The Essential Paul Revere & The Raiders (Columbia 2011) B+

Mark Lindsay-Arizona/Sliverbird (Collectibles 2 on 1-1971) C
You've Got A Friend (Columbia 1973) B-
The Complete Columbia Singles of Mark Lindsay (Real Gone 2012) B
Life Out Loud (Bongo Boy 2013)  B+

Here They Come/Just Like Us/Midnight Ride/Spirit Of 67/Revolution (Raven Import 2011) A-
Something Is Happening/Hard And Heavy/Alias Pink Puzz (Raven Import 2012) B+
Indian Reservation/Collage (Raven Import) B-
Country Wine Plus (Raven Import 2013) C+