Tuesday, September 28, 2010

R&R HOF nominees (!!!)

It must be getting to the bottom-of-the-barrel-dreg-time for the Rock Hall of Fame.  This year's nominees were just announced and Bon Jovi was actually listed as a nominated act (supposedly) worthy of inclusion in the bastion of rock legends.  If they even get close it would absolutely make the Hall a farce and completely take away any imprimatur of legitimacy it holds.  Just because a band can sell tickets to a mass audience doesn't mean it has any musical value whatsoever.  Most of the time the inverse is true.  If you're reaching that many people, generally speaking, it means that what you're dishing out watered-down product.  (Or in Bon Jovi's case, rinsing out).  Also listed as nominees were Chic, Donovan, Dr. John, J. Geils Band, LL Cool J, Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, Donna Summer, Joe Tex, Tom Waits and Chuck Willis.  
Laura Nyro should be  a shoo-in, as should Chic, for their production and influence alone.  Tom Waits will most likely be inducted, although I could never acquire a taste for him, despite the fact that he's written some brilliant songs.  (I like them when they're sung by people other than Tom Waits).  

The fact that a "band" such as Bon Jovi is being nominated while classic acts such as Richard Thompson, The Spinners, Roxy Music, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Moody Blues, Yes, and more aren't in is a joke.  Music is different than sports...you can't quantify greatness sometimes.  It ain't just the amount of records you sell.  


Love these guys....great band, and unless you live in NYC it's doubtful you've heard of them.  They're a collective of supremely talented musicians and vocalists that live in NYC/Brooklyn.  They all play in other bands or have solo projects as well, as I'm sure the financial realities of being in a band today dictate.  I first discovered them the first time I attended Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble in Winter 2006.  They were unbelievably good, and I've seen them about 8 times since then - pretty much every time they play in the area.  I'll write more about them in another post (they've got a new album coming out soon), I just found this video of them performing the Nina Simone song "See Line Woman" in Banjo Jim's, a tiny bar on the Lower East Side.  I think I might've been at this show too....it was just before Amy Helm (lead vocals) had her baby.  In any event, this place is really small, and the band is crammed into a corner, but obviously like it, as it's their "home" bar and base in NYC.  

Friday, September 24, 2010


Here's a great clip I came across....from 1973, it's a clip of The Stories performing "Brother Louie".  Jose Feliciano introduces the clip, and he couldn't be more wrong when he says "I think we're gonna hear a few more Stories from them in the next few months to come".  A classic 1-hit wonder, the band was formed by the guy that founded Left Banke (and also wrote "Walk Away Renee), but he left the band, and of course, they then had their only hit, "Brother Louie", which was huge in 73.  I remember hearing this in the summer on Top 40 radio constantly, and I still have the 45.  This was a time when music like this co-existed with drek like Tony Orlando.  Here's a list of the top 5 songs in the US in 1973, at the time that The Stories reached number 1 (8/25/73):
1) Brother Louie
2) Live and Let Die (Wings)
3) Touch Me In The Morning (Diana Ross)
4) Let's Get It On (Marvin Gaye)
5) The Morning After (Maureen McGovern)
After the band broke up shortly after this, the lead singer (Ian Lloyd) had a brief solo career, and at one of his recording sessions, the future leaders of Foreigner met (Ian MacDonald and Mick Jones) and then plotted future world domination of the pop charts.
Ian Lloyd currently lives in NYC and I guess still performs....the description on his website is classic..."with one of the most distinctive and powerful voices in the history(!!) of Rock music..."  Well he did, for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

new JJ Grey album

Is the right terminology "album" or "disc"?  JJ Grey has recently released a new collection of songs called "Georgia Warhorse", which is a moniker for a type of grasshopper that is apparently prevalent in the South.  This is Grey's 5th disc (his 3rd as "JJ Grey and Mofro") and his best and most consistent cd so far.  All of his discs are very good, and if you're not familiar with him you should check him out, he's an original.  His music sounds like a mix of greasy swampy southern rock, blues, and soul.   The lead single "The Sweetest Thing" is a great duet with Toots Hibbert, a feel-good tune that's got all the hallmarks of a classic single - you can sing along almost instantly and can't get it out of your head for days.  (It's this records' equivalent to "Orange Blossoms" off the record of the same name). Fortunately, there are other excellent songs here, my favorites being the opening cut "Diyo Dayo", "Hide and Seek", "King Hummingbird", and the excellent "Beautiful World", which could also be a single.  But the difference with this disc as compared to the rest of Grey's output is the consistency.  Whereas in the past there'd be 1 or 2 really good songs and maybe a good ballad, on this disc there are really no bad songs, all of them are listenable.  He's also a very good live act and is playing the Brooklyn Bowl in November.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

great new Mavis tune

Just released on the disc she did with Jeff Tweedy, this is the single (and only new song) - "You Are Not Alone".  Written by Tweedy, it's a great soul song and (sort of) evokes the Staple Singers in tone.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

new music Sep

Some excellent new discs released recently...

Richard Thompson "Dream Attic" - another good disc from one of the masters of the guitar.  The new disc was recorded live in front of an audience (you can hear them on a few tracks).  They're all new songs, typical Richard Thompson, which means excellent writing and instrumentation, and Thompson's singular vocals.  As always there are some rockers and some mellow Celtic tracks, but no RT classics here.  If you're already a fan you'll like this very much, if not there won't be anything to convert you.  He's put out some consistently good, sometimes great, but always interesting albums over the course of his career (24 albums plus some live ones).  Too bad not enough people know about him.  Going to see him live at the Wellmont in a few weeks, he's just an amazing guitar player, can't wait.

Robert Plant "Band of Joy" - not really being a big fan of his last record (Raising Sand) I found it to be a slick overproduced "adult" record", not what I want from Plant.  This new disc is much better.  He covers a wide range of songs, from Los Lobos and Richard Thompson to traditional ballads.  The playing is much looser, and although there is a prominent female vocal (Patty Griffin..who is way too skinny btw) this is more of a vehicle for Plant to play with a true band (as opposed to strictly session players).  By no means is this "rock" music, but it does show how good a singer Plant is, and if you enjoyed Raising Sand you'll probably like this as well.  I find it a bit more rough around the edges than Raising Sand, which I like.  (Between this disc, Zeppelin, The Honeydrippers, and his solo work, all he has to do now is a rap record and he will have covered almost every genre except polka).  

Los Lobos "Tin Can Trust" - They play all types of music well, and their original music is an amalgamation of rock, Tex-Mex, country, blues, jazz and folk.  Every disc they produce has a particular focus or theme (usually involving East LA), and this excellent collection of songs talks about working class people scraping their way to make ends meet and survive.  There are some outstanding songs on this disc - "On Main Street", "Tin Can Trust", and "All My Bridges Burning" (written with Robert Hunter) among the best.  There are of course the obligatory traditional Spanish/Mexican songs, which are very good, if you like that sort of thing.  They also do a spot-on cover of the Dead's "West LA Fadeaway", (which fits perfectly with their "Bertha" cover from the 1991 Grateful Dead tribute disc "Deadicated").  The band is on a good run, as their last disc, 2006's "The Town and the City" was also excellent.  I can't understand why these guys aren't bigger.  They consistently produce excellent albums, and are a great live band.  One of the all-time great American bands.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Clash (what's left)

Mick Jones and Paul Simonon will be part of the touring band backing up Gorillaz when they go on the road for their "Plastic Beach" disc.  Not exactly a Clash reunion, but it'll be interesting to see if Gorillaz adds any Clash songs to their set list.  Also playing with Gorillaz as special guests are De La Soul and Bobby Womack.  Should be a good show...

Gorillaz have confirmed a partial line up of guests to appear on their highly anticipated "Escape To Plastic Beach" North American tour. The artists confirmed so far include De La Soul, Little Dragon, Bobby Womack, appearing as special guests of the Gorillaz Plastic Beach band which features Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of the Clash.

The full list of (so far confirmed) artists:
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
Little Dragon
De La Soul
Bobby Womack
Roses Gabor
Bootie Brown

Thursday, September 9, 2010

new Clapton

I heard the new Clapton disc today (self-titled).  It sounds like a classic Sunday morning record...the music "looks backwards" (Clapton's words)...it's a collection of mellow (for the most part), tin-pan alley influenced songs, with some blues.  Some songs wouldn't sound out of place in any hotel lounge, they border on easy-listening, and he covers some standards here too.  Lots of piano.  Vocals are smooth too...he's definitely mellowing.  I put this next to Van Morrison's classic "Poetic Champions Compose" for perfect rainy Sunday fall/winter morning music.  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Giant haybale accident claims ex-ELO cellist...really.

I was a big ELO fan when I was a kid, and I just read about this freak accident in the UK that killed the band's cello player.  He was killed by a giant bale of hay....I can't even comment on that.  I mean, what do you say?  It's like a giant game of Mousetrap gone horribly awry.  From several sources:

LONDON — A giant bale of hay has killed a founding member of Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) after it tumbled down a hill and crashed into his van.Cellist Mike Edwards, 62, died after the 1,323 lb bale rolled down a steep field in Devon, southern England, smashed through a hedge and careered on to the road.He died instantly in the freak accident on Friday afternoon.
Mr Edwards recorded several studio albums with ELO between 1972 and 1975. He quit the band at the height of its fame in 1975 to become a Buddhist and changed his name to Deva Pramada because of his religious convictions.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

new Franti video

This was the best single of the summer (until Cee Lo Green's recently released single "F-You"), and it's just getting officially released now, I don't get it.  Anyway, it's a really good Michael Franti song called "Sound of Sunshine".  Filmed obviously in Venice, Ca.  Should've released it in May.