Sunday, October 28, 2018

Archive Review: Wayne Kramer's The Hard Stuff (1995)

Wayne Kramer's The Hard Stuff
The MC5 – with guitarist extraordinnaire Wayne Kramer  – are one of those bands that has grown large in legend, receiving much more acclaim after their demise than they ever did during their brief artistic and commercial life span. As the cultural arm of the White Panther Party during the late ‘60s, the Detroit-based band mixed radical, “power-to-the-people” styled politics with crunching power chords and primordial metallic rock and roll. Along with fellow Motor City rockers Iggy & The Stooges, the MC5 did more to influence the punk rock revolution that would define the late ‘70s than any other band, save, perhaps, the New York Dolls.

Twenty-five years have passed and here's Kramer resurfacing with his solo debut disc. At a time when most forty-something-year-old artists from the 1960s are totaling up their mutual fund yields and cranking out safe-as-milk reunion albums, Kramer’s The Hard Stuff burns and scrapes like a shot of raw whiskey with a broken glass chaser. Recruiting an all-star team of punk rockers, including members of Rancid, Bad Religion, Clawhammer, and the Melvins, Kramer shows that he can still run musical circles around the young ‘uns.

Along with co-writer Mick Farren, Kramer has assembled eleven killer cuts for The Hard Stuff, with songs like “Edge of the Switchblade,” “Junkie Romance,” “Incident On Stock Island,” and “Crack In the Universe” brimming over with the sort of street poetry, colorful imagery and sheer attitude we haven't seen since Lou Reed’s day in the sun. It’s the music that truly sets The Hard Stuff apart, however, as Kramer’s guitar screams, cries, moans, and roars with a passion and a ferocity few players can even attempt, much less coax from their instruments. A quarter of a century may have passed since the MC5 broke up, but Kramer proves with The Hard Stuff that he can still kick out the jams. (Epitaph Records, released January 1995)

Review originally published by Bone Music Magazine, 1995

Buy the CD from Wayne Kramer’s The Hard Stuff

Return of Chris D and the Flesh Eaters!

The Flesh Eaters' I Used To Be Pretty
The Flesh Eaters were one of the fiercest and most sophisticated of the 1980s-era punk-rock outfits. Formed in Los Angeles, California in 1977 and featuring the poetic songwriting of band frontman Chris Desjardins (i.e. ‘Chris D’), the Flesh Eaters line-up was a revolving door of talented musicians from better-known L.A. bands like X, the Blasters, and Los Lobos. During the four decades since their founding, the Flesh Eaters have released roughly a dozen studio and live albums, from 1980’s bona fide classic No Questions Asked to their most recent effort, 2004’s Miss Muerte, recording for a slate of indie labels including SST Records, Enigma Records, and Desjardin’s own Upsetter Records imprint.

Fifteen years after the release of the band’s last album, the Flesh Eaters are back, baby! On January 18th, 2019 Yep Roc Records will release an all-new collection of songs titled I Used To Be Pretty. Chris D. is backed on the new album by what many consider to be the “classic” Flesh Eaters line-up that recorded 1981’s A Minute To Pray, A Second to Die – guitarist Dave Alvin and drummer Bill Bateman of the Blasters, bassist John Doe and percussionist D.J. Bonebrake of X, and saxophonist Steve Berlin of Los Lobos (and punk legends the Plugz).

The Flesh Eaters’ I Used To Be Pretty was produced collectively by the band members and also features singer Julie Christensen, from Desjardin’s other legendary band, Divine Horseman, on five of the album’s eleven songs. Six tracks on I Used To Be Pretty are reinterpretations of previously-released Flesh Eaters songs, including “Pony Dress” from the 1970 compilation Tooth and Nail; “My Life to Live” and “The Wedding Dice” from 1982’s Forever Came Today; “Youngest Profession” from 1991’s Dragstrip Riot; “House Amid the Thickets” from 1999’s Ashes of Time, and the title track from Miss Muerte

The album also features three inspired covers including a psych-drenched reading of the Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac’s “The Green Manalishi,” a raucous take on “Cinderella,” originally by garage-rock legends the Sonics, and a cover of the Gun Club’s “She’s Like Heroin to Me,” taken from that band’s Desjardins-produced album Fire of Love. In a press release for the new album, Chris D. says “some of Jeffrey’s songs could have been Flesh Eaters songs so easily. Some of his phrasing and his lyric images I really feel a kinship with.”
I Used To Be Pretty will be released on CD and as a double-LP vinyl version, and the band will launch a short tour to bring their music to fans outside of the West Coast (tour dates listed below). Quoted in the aforementioned press release for the new album, band member Dave Alvin states “it’s six old friends who rarely get to see each other or play music together and decided to make an album while we’re all still alive.”   

Buy the CD from The Flesh Eaters’ I Used To Be Pretty

The Flesh Eaters 2019 Tour
January 16 @ Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix AZ
January 17 @ 191 Toole, Tucson AZ
January 18 @ Pappy & Harriet's Place, Pioneetown CA *
January 19 @ Echoplex, Los Angeles CA *
January 20 @ Independent, San Francisco CA
January 22 @ The Star Theater, Portland OR
January 23 @ The Crocodile, Seattle WA
February 21 @ The Continental Club, Houston TX
February 22 @ The Continental Club, Austin TX
February 23 @ The Continental Club, Austin TX
February 24 @ Club Dada, Dallas TX
March 9 @ Turf Club, Saint Paul MN
March 10 @ Lincoln Hall, Chicago IL
March 11 @ The Pyramid Scheem, Grand Rapids MI
March 12 @ El Club, Detroit MI0
March 14 @ City Winery, Boston MA
March 15 @ Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia PA
March 16 @ Union Stage, Washington DC
March 17 @ Bowery Ballroom, New York NY

* with special guests Mudhoney

Manifesto’s Lee Michaels CD reissues

Lee Michaels' Nice Day For Something
The Reverend has written glowing prose about singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Lee Michaels previously for this site and elsewhere – in my review for the greatest hits album Heighty-Hi: The Best of Lee Michaels, I wrote that “nobody had quite nailed his unique, frequently minimalist creative vision” since his seven-album run with A&M Records circa 1968-1973. Continuing, I said “A soulful vocalist often accompanied on album by only a lone percussionist, Michaels explored the use of piano, keyboards, and even harpsichord in rock music unlike any other artist at the time; even when he went the full band route by adding bass and guitar, it was Michaels’ keyboards that led the parade.”

Needless to say, I’m a Lee Michaels fan, and I even got a chance to catch him perform live back around 1972 or so and I geeked out when Manifesto Records released Michaels’ The Complete A&M Album Collection, a seven-CD box set, back in 2015. So I’m especially chuffed that on November 16th, 2018 Manifesto continues their restoration of the Lee Michaels catalog with the release, for the first time on CD, of Michaels’ long out-of-print Columbia Records albums Nice Day For Something and Tailface. Both albums have been digitally re-mastered from the original tapes and sport spiffy deluxe gatefold packaging. These reissues bring nine of Michaels’ ten albums to date – minus only the self-released album Absolute Lee – under Manifesto’s care.

Lee Michaels made a lot of innovative and entertaining music while with A&M but he also had a long and somewhat fractured relationship with the allegedly artist-friendly label. He really only had one bona fide hit album during his five-year tenure with A&M, so when he delivered Space & First Takes – a four-song collection of psychedelic hard rock that featured two lengthy 15-minute jams – as the follow-up to the more “pop” oriented Top 20 LP Fifth, the label pushed back. Michaels subsequently gave A&M a live album to fulfill his contract, and lit out for greener pastures.

Lee Michaels' Tailface
Signed by the legendary Clive Davis to Columbia, Michaels recorded two albums for the label – 1973’s Nice Day For Something and 1974’s Tailface – both of which sank like a stone, afforded little or no promotional effort when Clive’s departure from the company cost Michaels the support of his biggest supporter at the label. It was even difficult to find them as new titles in record stores; my copies of both were purchased as use vinyl.

It’s a shame, too, as both albums further explored the minimalist, keyboard-oriented classic rock sound of popular early albums Michaels’ self-titled 1969 third album or the following year’s Barrel. While based on his signature sound, both albums also offered signs of musical growth and flourishes absent from his earlier work that went unnoticed in a busy early ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll marketplace.

These Columbia label albums would become obscure footnotes to Michaels’ impressive career, sought-after collectors’ items that command posh prices. After releasing Absolute Lee in 1982, Michaels retired from music altogether to pursue a successful career as a restauranteur. It will be nice to have both albums available on CD so that this deserving artist has another chance to be rediscovered by a young audience that might appreciate his original and honest music.

Buy the CDs from
Lee MichaelsNice Day For Something
Lee MichaelsTailface

Also on That Devil 
Lee Michaels - Heighty Hi: The Best of Lee Michaels CD review

Friday, October 26, 2018

American music legend Tony Joe White, R.I.P.

Tony Joe White 2018, photo courtesy Yep Roc Records
Tony Joe White 2018, photo courtesy Yep Roc Records

Singer, songwriter, and American music legend Tony Joe White has passed away at the age of 75 years according to his record label Yep Roc Records and confirmed by his family. A heart attack is said to be the cause of death.

White was a prolific songwriter and recording artist with sixteen studio albums, four live albums, and 29 singles to his name including “Polk Salad Annie,” the 1969 hit that would become his signature song. White’s career spanned 50+ years as he plumbed the depths of American music with an enduring blend of roots-rock, country, blues, and country music that would influence an entire generation of young singer/songwriters.

As a songwriter, White’s songs were recorded by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, and Dusty Springfield, among many others. In addition to “Polk Salad Annie,” which has been covered by over a dozen artists, White wrote “Rainy Night In Georgie,” which became a #4 chart hit in 1970 for R&B star Brook Benton. The song has since been recorded by a number of country, blues, soul, and even reggae artists.

White never scored another big hit after “Polk Salad Annie” and his career struggled during the late 1970s and well into the ‘80s until he was asked to produce a single track for Tina Turner’s 1989 album Foreign Affair. White ended up contributing four songs to the album, including the title track and the hit single “Steamy Windows,” as well as playing guitar and harmonica on the tracks. The success of Foreign Affair (over six million copies sold worldwide) rejuvenated White’s career, and he continued to tour and record until his death.

Tony Joe White 1970, photo courtesy Monument Records
Tony Joe White 1970, photo courtesy Monument Records
White’s original and pioneering style of Americana won him a new audience during the past decade, and he recorded three critically-acclaimed albums for Yep Roc Records, including Bad Mouthin’, which was released in September 2018. Bad Mouthin’ included six original songs by White as well as a cover of the Elvis Presley hit “Heartbreak Hotel” and several blues standards including songs by Charley Patton and John Lee Hooker. The album was produced by his son, Jody White.

In a state about White’s passing, Glenn Dicker, co-founder of Yep Roc Records said, “Tony Joe White was a true American original. In everything he did he did it with his own unique voice. There was a gentle ease and flow that vibrated from the man. Always a positive vibe. We have been very fortunate to have been able to work with Tony Joe over these past few albums and years. We’re grateful for all the wonderful music…and the hangs. We love you Tony Joe!”

Rolling Stone magazine’s Tony Joe White obituary

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Book Review: Martin Popoff's Sabotage! Black Sabbath In the Seventies (2018)

Martin Popoff's Sabotage! Black Sabbath In the Seventies
Kind of like the ‘Old Faithful’ geyser in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, you can depend on writer and music historian Martin Popoff to crank out new books with alarming and prolific regularity. He’s begun publishing them so frequently that I can’t keep up with buying them all, much less the reading of them. With almost 80 titles to his name (at this time), including über-cool coffee-table tomes like Led Zeppelin: All the Albums, All the Songs and Pink Floyd: Album By Album, Martin has penned books on hard rock and heavy metal legends like Rush, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, Motörhead, and Deep Purple, among many others. This is the part of the review where I tell you that Martin is a buddy of mine, a colleague and friend of many years, but before I got to know this talented writer, I was a fan.

My music library includes roughly three-dozen books that Popoff has written dating back nearly two decades, including some titles that he’s probably forgotten about. While I’ve reviewed but a fraction of these, I’ve absorbed every word ‘cause, you see, Martin is one of the few music archeologists willing to venture into the darks corner of rock ‘n’ roll history, an area far too often ignored by mainstream pundits. The founder and former editor of the Canadian metal zine Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles and a frequent contributor to music-oriented publications like Goldmine and Record Collector (U.K.), Martin is at his best when writing about his earliest musical obsessions – bands like the legendary Black Sabbath.

Martin Popoff’s Sabotage! Black Sabbath In the Seventies

I was 13 years old when I first heard Black was in the Berg’s basement in Erie PA. Their house was on the corner where our bus stop was, and a couple of the ‘braver’ of us would congregate in the basement where my schoolmate Rick and his older brother Bill lived. They had built “crash rooms” with mattresses and plywood walls, and they had a fridge stocked with beer and soda and a beat-to-hell old pool table. The boys lived downstairs while their parents and younger sister lived upstairs. Bill Berg rode with a local bike club, so he often had biker friends that crashed in the basement and they smoked and drank and did whatever while we wide-eyed young ‘uns stared in wonder. Sabbath’s first two albums were on heavy rotation in the basement over the fall and winter of 1970-71, and I became enamored of the band...

Sabotage! Black Sabbath In the Seventies is Martin Popoff’s third book on the band, including the informative Black Sabbath F.A.Q. and Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose, a gorgeous illustrated history of the British metal pioneers. No worries, however, as this new book compliments the other two as opposed to re-hashing ancient history, tho’ there’s plenty of band history to be had within these pages, with little or no overlapping content with Popoff’s previous efforts. As is his usual literary modus operandi, Martin offers an album-by-album band history via his numerous interviews with the musicians on a roughly 2:1 ratio with his critical commentary taking a back seat to the band members’ own words.

Heavy Metal Pioneers

Sabotage! covers Sabbath’s groundbreaking early years, (i.e. the ‘70s), when the band drew up the blueprint for what we now know as “heavy metal.” Popoff starts with their self-titled 1970 debut album, pores over classic LPs like Paranoid, Master of Reality, and Sabotage, and finishes the decade with 1978’s Never Day Die, singer Ozzy Osbourne’s swansong with the band before launching his successful solo career. Osbourne would later reunite with his original Sabbath bandmates in 2011, but that’s a story for another book. Sabotage! provides plenty of information on the creation and recording of the band’s first eight albums – six of which are essential for any classic rock fan – with bassist Geezer Butler (the band’s lyricist) and drummer Bill Ward (the band’s de facto historian) in particular telling some great stories about each album.

Guitarist Tony Iommi – the band’s riffmaster, taskmaster, and creative genius – offers insight into Sabbath’s lengthy history and their songwriting process while Ozzy, well…he’s Ozzy, right? The band’s charismatic, larger-than-life frontman, Oz provides interesting anecdotes about Sabbath’s travails on the road as well as clashes with religious zealots and occultists who both misunderstood the band’s lyrics. As the only non-playing member of the band, Osbourne displays a humanizing vulnerability for a rock star, always worrying about his place and contributions (which were massive, by the way, just as Ronnie James Dio’s would be later). Along with his multiple interviews with all four Black Sabbath members; associates like Jim Simpson, the Sab’s first manager; and musicians like Rick Wakeman and Jezz Woodruffe, Martin rounds out his narrative with vintage material from the yellowing pages of music zines like Circus, Creem, and Melody Maker.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

As he usually does, Popoff provides a valuable service with Sabotage!, documenting a fruitful and creative era of one of rock music’s most innovative and influential bands in Black Sabbath. The 1970s were a tumultuous time for the band, but they persevered and extended their legacy to the modern day in spite of changing musical currents and consistent belittling by the music press. Martin preserves the history of the era with both his own insightful commentary and the memories of the band members, resulting in an interesting and entertaining tale.

Will we eventually see a fourth Sabbath book from Popoff? One that covers the equally fascinating decade of the ‘80s and the six albums released by the band with singers like Dio, Ian Gillen, and Glenn Hughes? We can certainly hope so, as that seems to be a story waiting to be told, and there’s nobody better to tell it… Grade: A (Power Chord Press, published May 2018)

Buy it directly from the man himself!

Also on That Devil Music:
Martin Popoff - The Clash: All the Albums, All the Songs book review
Martin Popoff - Led Zeppelin: All the Albums, All the Songs book review
Martin Popoff - Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers: The Rise of Motörhead book review

Brian Eno Ambient-Era Vinyl Reissues

Brian Eno's Discreet Music
Former Roxy Music keyboardist and synth-wrangler Brian Eno left the legendary glam-rock band in 1973 after the release of their first two albums, just as Roxy was about to peak, commercially, in the U.K. Ordinarily, leaving a chart-topping band would be the kiss-of-death for an aspiring artist, but from the 1974 release of hiss landmark solo debut album Here Come the Warm Jets to this present day, Eno’s career in music is the stuff of dreams. While none of Eno’s couple-dozen solo albums could be considered as “commercially successful,” their artistic reach and generational influence far outweighs such tawdry concerns.

Eno’s musical collaborations with experimentally-minded fellow travelers like King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, Talking Heads’ David Byrne, and Krautrock pioneers Cluster were equally audacious and influential, and all of this stuff remains in print decades after its initial release – a sure sign that somebody is listening! As an in-demand producer during the 1980s and ‘90s, Eno helped shepherd hit albums by U2, David Bowie, James, and Talking Heads onto the charts while also working with more avant-garde artists like Jon Hassell, Laurie Anderson, Harold Budd, and the Velvet Underground’s John Cale.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of Eno’s lengthy and acclaimed career is his work in the field of “ambient music,” a term he coined to describe music “designed to modify the listener’s perception of the surrounding environment.” Enthralled, perhaps with electronic music and composers like Cluster’s Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius, Eno was looking to create a new instrumental musical paradigm. His first ambient album, 1975’s Discreet Music, was created by an elaborate tape-delay methodology that he pioneered for his 1973 collaboration with Robert Fripp, No Pussyfooting.

Brian Eno's Ambient 1 Music For Airports
Eno’s “ambient” series of albums would follow – Ambient 1: Music For Airports (1978), Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (1980, with Harold Budd), Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980, with Laraaji), and Ambient 4: On Land (1982) – changing the way that many of us thought about music. In between these four ambient albums, Eno would release equally challenging and thought-provoking works as 1978’s Music For Films, a conceptual work intended to serve as a soundtrack for imaginary films although many of the short pieces on the compilation album had previously-appeared in movies.

On November 16th, 2018 Virgin EMI Records/UMe will reissue Discreet Music, Music For Films, Music For Airports, and On Land as deluxe, limited-edition two-LP sets on 180-gram vinyl, each album remastered at half-speed for playing at 45rpm. Each of these deluxe vinyl reissues will feature an Obi spine strip, an Abbey Road “certificate of authenticity,” and a card good for a download of the album. A standard single-disc 33rpm version of each of the four albums will also be released.

Each of these albums has something of interest for the serious sonic explorer, from Eno’s reimagining of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” on Discreet Music, performed by the Cockpit Ensemble and conducted by Gavin Bryars to On Land, which includes contributions by guitarist Michael Brook, bassist Bill Laswell (Material), and trumpeter Jon Hassell. This isn’t pop music by any stretch of the imagination but all four albums offer fascinating soundscapes for the adventurous listeners.

Buy the albums from
Discreet Music 
Music For Films
Ambient 1: Music For Airports
Ambient 4: On Land

Creedence Clearwater Revival Complete Studio Albums

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Complete Studio Albums
Creedence Clearwater Revival had a well-earned reputation as a rock ‘n’ roll jukebox, a singles band that chalked up nine Top 10 hits in the space of four years circa 1968-72 with songs like “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Down On the Corner,” and “Travelin’ Band.” One of their earliest singles – CCR’s cover of the Dale Hawkins’ classic “Suzie Q” – barely missed the mark, peaking at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and they also had a few other high-charting singles to cement their reputation as radio-ready rockers.

What a lot of people have forgotten, or overlooked, is that CCR was also a damn impressive album band as well. Fronted by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Fogerty and including rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty (John’s brother), bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford the band released seven classic studio albums during its tenure, including three in 1969 alone. The music just seemed to pour out of Fogerty and crew, and the bourgeoning FM radio band lapped up these albums like a hobo with a bottle of ripple. Five of CCR’s studio albums charted Top 10, the sixth peaked at #12, and six of ‘em were eventually awarded Platinum album sales status, with their masterpiece, Cosmo’s Factory, moving over 4,000,000 copies.

That’s a heady legacy, indeed, so in honor of the 50th anniversary of the band, on November 30th, 2018 Craft Recordings will be releasing Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Complete Studio Albums box set. The seven-LP set features the entire CCR studio catalog – their self-titled 1968 debut; 1969’s Bayou Country, Green River, and Willy and the Poor Boys; 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory and Pendulum; and 1972’s swansong, Mardi Gras. Each album is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and has been mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios to create an “exceptional level of sonic clarity” and vibrancy. Each LP comes in a tip-on jacket that replicated the original album sleeves, and the box set includes an 80-page book featuring new liner notes by music journalist Roy Trakin along with archive photos and memorabilia.

The set is pricey even as these things go, running roughly $250 on Amazon, which averages out to better than $35 an album…definitely not for the faint of heart or low of budget. Clean copies of most of CCR’s albums can be had for less than half of that, so this is another label archival set targeting well-heeled fans with plenty of disposable income. Will the new pressings sound better than the originals? Maybe…but me, I’ll be happy with my beat-up old CCR vinyl and ten-year-old CD reissues.

Buy the box set on Amazon (if you dare): Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Complete Studio Albums

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Short Rounds: Mike Felten, Eric Lindell, John McLaughlin, Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson, Bob Seger & Ska Authentic (2018)

Mike Felten's Diamonds and Televisions
New album releases in 150 words or less…

Mike Felten – Diamonds and Televisions (Landfill Records)
I almost overlooked this one, a new(ish) album by my old buddy Mike Felten. Mike owned a Chicago record store for 30+ years and he absorbed a heck of a lot of music over that time. As such, Diamonds and Televisions is an electrifying collection of blues, rock, and folk sounds that perfectly scratches your itch, if you catch my meaning. It’s no surprise – Felten has been playing guitar and writing songs since he was a teen, and he’s honed his talents to a sharp edge over the course of several albums. Backed by a full band, Felten’s songs like the working-class blues of “Seven Days A Week,” the imaginative “Pa Kettle’s Bastard Son,” or the Dylanesque story-song “Statue of Liberty” showcase intelligent lyricism and exhilarating instrumentation. Diamonds and Televisions places Felten at the crossroads standing alongside fellow outsiders like Tom Waits and Mike Doughty, and that’s good company, indeed. Grade: A   BUY!

Eric Lindell's Revolution In Your Heart
Eric Lindell – Revolution In Your Heart (Alligator Records)
New Orleans-based blues guitarist Eric Lindell has been making great music for over a decade, at least since 2006’s Change In The Weather. The sublimely wonderful Revolution In Your Heart marks his return to Alligator Records, the label where he made three underappreciated albums during the late ‘00s. Recording in his Louisiana backyard, Lindell infuses a dozen original tracks with a subtle, laid-back, New Orleans vibe, effortlessly blending blues, funk, soul, and Southern rock into a heady musical brew. A superb lyrist and vocalist, Lindell loads songs like the hopeful title track or ‘70s-era soul throwback “Heavy Heart” with plenty of emotion, but it’s his nuanced fretwork that shines through every song. “Big Horse,” for instance, is a psych-drenched rave-up with swirls of Jimi-influenced guitar while the wistful reminiscences of “Pat West” are accompanied by jazzy licks. A talented artist worthy of greater acclaim, Eric Lindell is ready for prime-time. Grade: A   BUY!

John McLaughlin's Live In San Francisco
John McLaughlin & Jimmy Herring – Live In San Francisco (Abstract Logix)
Pioneering jazz-fusion guitarist John McLaughlin’s legacy is carved in granite, if only for his ground-breaking work with Miles Davis or the influential Mahavishnu Orchestra. Hooking up with talented guitarist Jimmy Herring and members of the 4th Dimension and the Invisible Whip bands, McLaughlin took a final spin across the states during 2017. Live In San Francisco documents the final concert of this ‘farewell tour’ and to say that the performance is breathtaking would be an understatement. McLaughlin’s guitar chops are as sharp as they were 50 years ago, and this collection of prog-leaning jazz-fusion instrumentals is stunning, the backing musicians displaying an uncanny chemistry and easily falling in lockstep with the guitarist’s immense imagination. The ‘70s-era Mahavishnu material is timeless, and McLaughlin seemingly hasn’t lost a step through the years. His crystalline playing of these legendary songs will appeal to fans of any era of McLaughlin’s lengthy and acclaimed career. Grade: A   BUY!

Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson's Chug It Down and Go
Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson – Chug It Down and Go (Blind Chihuahua Records)
Nashville guitarist Mark Robinson has a pair of critically-acclaimed electric blues studio albums – Quit Your Job, Play Guitar and Have Axe - Will Groove – to his credit along with a rowdy live LP that any blues fan should have on their shelf. Hooking up with fellow multi-instrumentalist Daniel Seymour, Robinson performs a breakneck stylistic U-turn with the acoustic Chug It Down and Go. Talent always shines through and Robinson and Seymour deliver a high-spirited, energetic, and entertaining collection of original songs with deep roots. While Seymour’s material skews towards old-timey jug band-sounding fare like the lovely “Barefoot Gal” (with David Olney on harmonica) and the spry instrumental “19th Street Ramble,” Robinson dabbles in Zydeco (“One Eye Blue”), antique jazz (“Gypsy Moon”), and Piedmont blues (“Take Me Down the Road”). It’s all quite clever and exceptionally well-performed, Chug It Down and Go a truly magical collaboration between two skilled and passionate music-makers. Grade: A   BUY!

Bob Seger & the Last Heard's Heavy Music
Bob Seger & the Last Heard – Heavy Music (Abkco Records)
Bob Seger & the Last Heard were one of the legendary singer’s earliest bands. Signed to the Cameo-Parkway label, they released five singles, ten songs total circa 1966-67, all of which are collected on CD for the first time with Heavy Music. An artist in search of a sound (hint: he’d glimpse it a couple years later with “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”), Seger checks several then-contemporary cultural boxes with these long out-of-print 45s – James Brown (“Sock It To Me Santa”), Bob Dylan (“Persecution Smith”), psych-rock (“Vagrant Winter”), the Beach Boys (“Florida Time”), and AM-radio pop balladry (“Very Few”) – as well as the timeless, bluesy title track and the stunning regional hit “East Side Story,” both of which open a window to Seger’s 1970s-era success. There are only ten tracks on Heavy Music, but each one is a slab of raw, energetic, prime-grade rock ‘n’ roll from the early Motor City scene. Grade: A-   BUY!

Studio One's Ska Authentic
Various Artists – Ska Authentic (Studio One)
Released nearly 55 years ago, Studio One’s wonderful Ska Authentic provides a snapshot of Jamaica’s homegrown music scene in the early 1960s, preserving long-lost tracks by legends like the Skatalites, Toots & the Maytals, and Lee “Scratch” Perry. While some performances, like Perry’s rollicking “Mother In Law” or the Maytals’ “Heaven Declare,” offer glimpses of the artist’s future genius others, like Delroy Wilson’s “Sammy Dead,” were throwaway singles with plenty of soul. Echoing the American R&B heard on transistor radios in Jamaica circa 1955-65, these songs are dance-oriented with foot-shuffling rhythms with blasts of soulful horns. The horns would eventually be replaced by amplified guitars and the rhythms would develop a harder edge as the style evolved into what we now know as reggae. Studio One’s Ska Authentic captures the island’s sounds with all their fresh naiveté and energy, taking the listener back in time to a more innocent age. Grade: A   BUY!

Previously on That Devil
Short Rounds, September 2018: Junior Byles, Guadalcanal Diary, Peter Holsapple, the Textones & Bill Kopp’s Reinventing Pink Floyd book
Short Rounds, August 2018: Gene Clark, Kinky Friedman, David Olney, The Posies, Boz Scaggs, & Southside Johnny
Short Rounds, July 2018: The Damnation of Adam Blessing, Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio, Howlin’ Rain & the Rockers OST

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard vinyl reissues

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard's Willoughby's Beach
Over the past few years, Australia’s King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard has made quite a name for itself as one of the hardest-working and imaginative bands in the rock ‘n’ roll firmament. The psychedelic time-travelers formed in Melbourne, Victoria in 2010 and features singer/guitarist Stu Mackenzie, singer/keyboardist Ambrose-Kenny Smith, guitarists Cook Craig and Joey Walker, bassist Lucas Skinner, and drummers/percussionists Michael Cavanagh and Eric Moore. The band has been extremely prolific since the release of its first record, 2011’s Angelsea EP, releasing 14 studio albums during the ensuing years, including an awe-inspiring five full-length recordings in 2017 alone.

Incredibly, no two King Gizzard albums sound alike, and the band’s sonic experimentation is often exhilarating, drawing upon classic 1960s-era psych-rock but pushing the boundaries of the genre even as they incorporate decades of subsequent musical influences. They’ve developed a loyal and growing worldwide audience not only on the strength of their eccentric, unique records (many of which were released on vinyl as well as CD at the time) as well as their energetic live performances. Sadly, the band’s earliest recordings were mostly released on their own independent Flightless Records label, and copies of them have been scarce as hen’s teeth for faithful Gizzard collectors to find.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard's 12 Bar Bruise
As a testament to the band’s growing U.S. popularity, ATO Records – which released King Gizzard’s last few albums stateside – will be reissuing the band’s first five records on both CD and vinyl on November 2nd, 2018. Each album title will include ‘reimagined’ artwork and packaging and new liner notes, and the vinyl versions will feature dazzling, eye-popping colored wax. The band’s ground-breaking nine-song EP, 2011’s Willoughby’s Beach, will be reissued on red colored vinyl with an embossed and spot UV deluxe sleeve. The band’s first two full-length albums – 2012’s 12 Bar Bruise and the following year’s Eyes Like the Sky – blended surf and garage-rock with the band’s trademark psychedelic sound. The former will be reissued on “Doublemint” green vinyl and the latter on “Halloween” orange vinyl, both with heavyweight sleeves.

The band’s third album, 2013’s Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, will be reissued on “Easter yellow” vinyl with a heavyweight jacket with inner sleeve printed on uncoated offset paper and includes a 24” square fold-out poster. Their fourth album, 2014’s Oddments, will sport “Grimace purple” vinyl and includes a heavyweight gatefold jacket with original artwork by Jason Galea and an inner sleeve printed on uncoated offset paper. Both albums showcase a maturing band expanding its sound to incorporate scraps of progressive rock, jazz, soul, and even heavy metal influences into its restless, reckless, innovative sound. Any of these reissues, on either CD or LP, offer an introduction to the charms of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard for newcomers; for those of us already on the hook, ATO is providing a cost-effective way for us to expand our collections.

Buy the vinyl from
Willoughby's Beach
12 Bar Bruise
Eyes Like the Sky
Float Along - Fill Your Lungs 

CD Preview: Big Brother & the Holding Company’s Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills

Big Brother & the Holding Company’s Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills
Legendary rock ‘n’ blues vocalist Janis Joplin was only with Big Brother & the Holding Company for a short while – a little more than two years between 1966 and ‘68 – but she had already begun forging a legend that endures to this day. Joplin would be fondly remembered by classic rock fans if only for her explosive performance on Big Brother’s classic Cheap Thrills album. That Joplin only released one solo album, 1969’s I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, before her tragic death in 1970 only ensured her notoriety (Joplin’s classic Pearl was released posthumously).

Unlike contemporaries such as Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison of the Doors, whose estates have turned the late artists’ work into profitable cottage industries, there’s not a heck of a lot of posthumous Janis Joplin material extant. There are the couple of Big Brother LPs she recorded with the band, her two solo efforts, three or four live performances, and a cash-grabbing myriad of “greatest hits” compilation albums. On November 30th, 2018 Legacy Recordings will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cheap Thrills with the release of Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills. The album will be available as a two-disc CD featuring 30 rare performances, including 25 previously-unreleased songs, culled from the 1968 Cheap Thrills sessions, while a two-LP vinyl version will feature 16 songs.

Janis Joplin 1970
Janis Joplin 1970, photo courtesy Legacy Recordings
Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills was purportedly the album’s original title, considered too controversial in 1968 by the label, which shortened it to the now-familiar moniker. The new set rescues 29 studio outtakes, as well as a previously-unreleased performance of “Ball and Chain” recorded live at the Winterland Ballroom in April 1968. Alternative versions of classic Joplin performances on songs like “Summertime,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Combination of the Two” are centerpieces of the new set, which also includes liner notes by Big Brother drummer Dave Getz and Jefferson Airplane vocalist (and friend of Janis) Grace Slick.

Cheap Thrills seems to have stood the test of time,” writes Dave Getz in his notes for Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills. “It might be because it is arguably the greatest work by a great artist, Janis Joplin. It is certainly the greatest and closest representation of what Big Brother & The Holding Company was as a band and I would add to that argument that Big Brother/Janis as a band, and as a SOUND, was the embodiment of the San Francisco, psychedelic, counter-culture of the 1960s…on another, more metaphorical level and in the perspective created by the distance of fifty years, I see Cheap Thrills as a time capsule for the year 1968. That year might have been the moment when it all came to a boil for Big Brother, Janis and the entire 1960s, acid-infused, revved-to-the-max, counter-culture generation.”

Buy the CD from Big Brother & the Holding Company's Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Bootleg Rodeo: Buckingham Nicks, Ry Cooder with David Lindley, Spooky Tooth

Buckingham Nicks' Alabama 1975
#7 – October 2018

Thanks to the vagaries created by loopholes in international copyright law, it seems that live music from the 1970s and early ‘80s – particularly FM radio broadcasts – are fair game for release on CD by dodgy European labels. The situation is a godsend for rock ‘n’ roll fans, who now have access to budget recordings by their favorite artists that were only previously available as higher-priced bootleg titles.

Not all of these so-called “copyright gap” releases are worth your time and money, however, which is where That Devil Music’s “Bootleg Rodeo” comes into play. This regularly-published column aims to separate the wheat from the chaff and let you know which of these recordings deserve a place in your collection and which should have been left to collect dust in a closet somewhere. Get ‘em while you can, kiddies, ‘cause one never knows when copyright treaties will be revised and the availability of these (admittedly limited edition) albums disappears.

For this month’s “Bootleg Rodeo” column, the first in a few months, the Reverend reviews releases by Buckingham Nicks, Ry Cooder with David Lindley, and the mighty Spooky Tooth, with links to buy ‘em (or not) from

Buckingham Nicks – Alabama 1975: The Tuscaloosa Broadcast (Iconography)
If not for Fate’s fickle hand, the duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks would have long ago faded into rock ‘n’ roll obscurity…though maybe not, given the talent and ambition of both musicians. The two met while attending high school in the San Francisco area, after which Buckingham invited Nicks to sing with his band the Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band. From 1968 through 1971, ‘Fritz’ would open for a number of biggish acts performing in the Bay area, including Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, allowing Buckingham and Nicks to get a taste of the bigtime and develop an onstage poise and chemistry that would prove invaluable during their future gig together.

The two artists developed a romantic relationship, and when Fritz broke up, Buckingham and Nicks moved south to L.A. to pursue their dreams of rock stardom. While in Los Angeles, Buckingham continued to hone his guitar skills while Nicks worked various jobs like waitress and cleaning lady to support the two. They wrote and recorded songs together, starving for their art, before coming to the attention of studio engineer and producer Keith Olsen, who helped the duo get a deal with Polydor Records. They released a lone 1973 album (Buckingham Nicks) for the label, which was subsequently under-promoted to death (to put it mildly). Although much of the country never heard the soon-to-be cut-out LP, they found a receptive audience in Birmingham, Alabama (of all places), and would later perform several well-received shows in the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa area (this is important – I’ll get to this below).

Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac heard songs from Buckingham Nicks, the album, while checking out Sound City Studios. Liking what he heard, Fleetwood and the band met with Buckingham and Nicks and offered them a gig with Fleetwood Mac. It was an opportunistic meeting for all concerned. Fleetwood Mac was a band in transition at the time after lead singer and songwriter Bob Welch left to pursue a solo career after the release of the modestly-successful 1974 album Heroes Are Hard To Find. Fleetwood Mac needed a singer and guitarist badly to capitalize on their rising star, and Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks ended up fitting like a glove. Released in mid-’75, the self-titled Fleetwood Mac album included just four songs written by the newcomers, but they were four important ones, and the injection of new creative ideas and energy resulted in a chart-topping album that would selling better than five million copies stateside (unheard of at the time) and launch the band to a superstar status that continues to this day.

Before hooking up with Fleetwood Mac, however, Buckingham Nicks had a trip to make to Alabama, which is where this Iconography label CD release of Alabama 1975: The Tuscaloosa Broadcast is sourced. Interest in the duo has only grown after their creative and commercial successes with Fleetwood Mac, and their lone studio album has never been reissued on vinyl or CD even after all these years (though both Buckingham and Nicks have spoken of wanting a reissue of the album). It’s an odd oversight for a label family as big as Polydor Records (now a part of the Universal Music Group), especially since aside from the original album’s ten tracks, there are reportedly another dozen or so songs available in the can.

The live performances documented by Alabama 1975 have circulated around the Internet for years, but Iconography is the first to release them on CD to my knowledge. The first 15 tracks here feature a complete January 1975 radio broadcast live from The Morgan Auditorium in Tuscaloosa, with another five tracks sourced from a previous 1974 performance in the same venue. While Alabama 1975 offers no musician credits, Internet scuttlebutt says that bassist Tom Moncrieff (who later played on Nicks’ first solo album) and drummer Gary Hodges were part of the Buckingham Nicks touring band; superstar studio bassist Waddy Wachtel also toured with the band at times, although it’s not known whether or not he appears on any of these tracks.

Overall, Alabama 1975 is an entertaining collection that provides an early glimpse of greater success to come for the duo. The sound is a fair-to-good with a few drop-outs but not much distortion to get in the way of the listener’s enjoyment of the performances. Buckingham Nicks crank through songs from their already-dead studio album as well as material like Buckingham’s up-tempo “Monday Morning” and Nicks’ hauntingly beautiful “Rhiannon” that would achieve greater heights when recorded by Mac further down the line. Nicks’ “Crystal” is a real gem, delivered here with great emotion and charm by the pair as a lovely duet. In spite of its minor flaws, Alabama 1975 is a fine live collection that would appeal to both Buckingham Nicks fans as well as the legion of Fleetwood Mac faithful. The Rev’s recommendation: Buy it!

Ry Cooder & David Lindley's Two Long Riders
Ry Cooder & David Lindley – Two Long Riders (Good Ship Funke)
I’ve written about the phenomenal guitarist Ry Cooder on this site before. A favorite here at That Devil Music, Cooder is a veteran of 1960s-era bands the Rising Sons (with the legendary Taj Mahal) and Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band as well as an accomplished studio professional whose credits include recordings by Van Morrison, Little Feat, the Rolling Stones, among many others. A moderately-successful solo artist during the 1970s and early ‘80s, Cooder also made a name for himself as a composer, writing movie scores for films like Walter Hill’s The Long Riders (1980) and Southern Comfort (1981) and Tony Richardson’s 1982 film The Border.

I haven’t had the opportunity to write about the multi-instrumentalist talent David Lindley until this moment, however. Lindley can boast of a C.V. every bit as impressive as Cooder’s – he was a member, with Chris Darrow (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), of the 1960s psych-rock band Kaleidoscope, which released three albums circa 1967-69 that remain highly collectible. Lindley would become Jackson Browne’s ‘secret weapon’, contributing his talents to Browne’s recordings from For Everyman (1973) through the hit Running On Empty (1977) to Looking East (1996), and touring with him for over a decade.

Lindley served much the same purpose for Warren Zevon, notably performing on records like Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School (1980), Sentimental Hygiene (1987), and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (1996). Lindley was more than just a sideman for Browne and Zevon, however, as he was also an in-demand session player with records by Rod Stewart, Ian Matthews, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Joe Walsh, and Crosby, Stills and Nash (band and solo efforts) to his credit.

Lindley fronted his own roots-rock outfit, El Rayo-X, with whom he released three wonderfully eclectic studio albums between 1981 and 1988; he has recorded a slate of true solo albums; and he collaborated with experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser on four acclaimed albums during the 1990s – and that just scratches the surface of Lindley’s career. Throughout all of this activity, Lindley became friends with Ry Cooder, the two first working together on Cooder’s 1978 album Jazz and again on 1979’s excellent Bop Till You Drop. Cooder would also use the multi-instrumentalist on film scores like Alamo Bay; Paris, Texas; and The Long Riders, from whence this live recording takes its name.

Documenting an FM radio broadcast of a lively acoustic performance by the two musicians at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1990, Two Long Riders mostly features material from Cooder’s solo catalog and soundtrack albums as well as a smattering of traditional blues and gospel songs. The sound quality is mediocre, at best, with muddy vocals literally buried in the mix, a great deal of hollowness, and an overall tinny ambiance that tends to favor the high end, making the two men’s instruments sound bright, loud, and clangy. The performances are top-notch, however, a literal guitar workshop for readers that dig that sort of thing, with the talented string-benders jousting on songs like the gospel standard “Jesus On the Mainline,” Cooder’s “Across the Borderline” and “Mercury Blues,” Bobby Womack’s classic “It’s All Over Now,” and the Leadbelly folk-blues gem “Goodnight Irene.”  
Bottom line: due to shabby production and sound quality, I can’t recommend Two Long Riders to any but the most hardcore fan of either Ry Cooder and/or David Lindley. If you’re a ‘newbie’ interested in Cooder, you’d be better served by albums like Paradise and Lunch or Bop Till You Drop, both of which can be had on CD at a budget price or found on vinyl at used record stores for a reasonable cost. Likewise for Lindley, whose El Ray-X albums are of uniformly high quality and a great showcase for the musician’s talents. Spend your money on those recordings instead. The Rev’s recommendation: Eh, maybe?
Spooky Tooth's Son of Your Father

Spooky Tooth – Son of Your Father (Laser Media)

It was a simple equation, really – take the late ‘60s British psych-rock band Art, add American keyboardist and songwriter Gary Wright – and viola, you have legendary rockers Spooky Tooth! It wasn’t really that easy – Island Records founder Chris Blackwell introduced Wright to the members of Art, which at the time included singer Mike Harrison, guitarist Luther Grosvenor, bassist Greg Ridley, and drummer Mike Kellie. The five guys hit it off, formed Spooky Tooth, and releasing their overlooked debut album, It’s All About, in 1968. They delivered what is arguably their masterwork, Spooky Two, in 1969 after which Ridley left to join Humble Pie, replaced by Andy Leigh for the controversial LP Ceremony.

Released in 1969, Ceremony was a project championed by Wright, a musical collaboration with French electronic composer Pierre Henry. Wright envisioned the resulting album as a Henry album for which Spooky Tooth served as studio musicians, but the label released it as a bona fide Spooky Tooth album against Wright’s protests. It sounded nothing like Spooky Two, and the band’s fans stayed away in droves, causing Wright to quit and chase after solo stardom. Harrison and the remaining members enlisted the help of the Grease Band’s Henry McCullough and Chris Stainton to record 1970’s The Last Puff, after which Harrison left to launch his own solo career before putting Spooky Tooth back together with Wright and guitarist Mick Jones for 1973’s You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw. The band’s history becomes even more convoluted after this point, before Harrison reformed it again in the 1990s.      

Son of Your Father ostensibly captures a 1969 live radio broadcast by the Ceremony band line-up and features mostly songs from The Last Puff album (four of the eight). They throw in “Better By You, Better By Me” off Spooky Two and a couple other songs of unverified provenance (possibly mistitled?). Better sources credit the album to the 1970 version of the band that toured in support of The Last Puff – Harrison, Grosvenor, drummer Mike Kellie, bassist Steve Thompson, and keyboardist John Hawken – which makes more sense given the album’s track listing. As such, Son of Your Father offers a glimpse of this transitional band roster that existed for the tour, subsequently breaking up and never recording.

The performances on Son of Your Father are pretty rockin’ tho’ the sound is somewhat muddy and there’s a bit of hollowness to the mix. Overall, though, the sonic quality is acceptable using the Reverend’s standard benchmark (age of recording x volume = aural satisfaction), but I really wish that Laser Media would get its shit together and provide better packaging, liner notes, and such for its semi-legit releases of ages-old radio broadcasts like this. Still, performances like the band’s malevolent take on the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus,” Harrison’s soulful reading of “Son of Your Father” (complete with some delightfully white-hot Grosvenor fretwork), and the fluid, chaotic instrumentation provided the powerful “Better By You” make for an entertaining listen regardless of the incorrect information provided the CD release.   

It should be noted that Spooky Tooth served as a finishing school for a number of accomplished musicians. Singer/songwriter Mike Harrison enjoyed a modest solo career during the mid-to-late ‘70s, releasing three critically-acclaimed albums. Gary Wright, of course, scored a big FM radio hit in 1975 with “Dream Weaver” and released a slew of acclaimed solo albums, later reuniting with Harrison in Spooky Tooth but also doing session work with folks like George Harrison, B.B. King, and Jerry Lee Lewis, among others. Greg Ridley, as mentioned above, became Humble Pie’s longtime bassist and also played on Steve Marriott’s solo albums. Guitarist Luther Grosvenor changed his name to ‘Ariel Bender’ and hooked up with Mott the Hoople while late-period Spooky Tooth guitarists Henry McCullough (Wings) and Mick Jones (Foreigner) also went on to successful bands.

Spooky Tooth was a criminally-underrated band during its time on planet earth, its legacy partially redeemed by the 2015 release of the nine-disc box set Island Years, 1967-1974 which collected everything from Art’s lone 1967 album Supernatural Fairy Tales through the band’s final 1970s-era LP The Mirror. The box also includes a rare, previously-unreleased live album documenting a 1972 performance in Germany. There’s precious little live Spooky Tooth to be found in the wild – I recall seeing an obscure albeit legit release titled Live In Oldenburg 1973 that shows up on few of the band’s discographies (tho’ I can see the LP cover in my mind), and there’s an out-of-print BBC Sessions disc from 2001 that seems to feature the 1969 band line-up. As such, in spite of Laser Media’s notorious labeling snafus and minimalist packaging, I have to recommend Son of Your Father for any faithful Spooky Tooth fan. The Rev’s recommendation: buy it!

Previous Columns:
Bootleg Rodeo #6 - The Band, John Hiatt with Ry Cooder, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Bootleg Rodeo #5 - The Byrds, Midnight Oil & Poco
Bootleg Rodeo #4 - The Marshall Tucker Band, Steely Dan & Joe Walsh  

The Long Ryders’ Two Fisted Tales box

The Long Ryders' Two Fisted Tales
The Long Ryders were another of those great “lost” bands of the 1980s, fellow travelers to outfits like Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, Stealin’ Horses, and Jason & the Scorchers, among others, a band that never received its due in spite of a brace of innovative and entertaining albums that blended punk rock intensity with the “cosmic cowboy” roots-rock of influences like Gram Parsons, Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan, and the Byrds. Formed in Los Angeles in 1982, and widely labeled part of the “Paisley Underground” movement, the Long Ryders featured guitarists Sid Griffin and Stephen McCarthy, bassist Tom Stevens, and drummer Greg Sowders with vocals provided by all the band members.

The Long Ryders’ third and final album, 1987’s awesome, critically-acclaimed Two Fisted Tales, was tragically ignored by a record-buying public buying into the “nerf metal” din of less-talented bands. It remains Griffin’s favorite album by the Ryders, and in addition to great original songs like “Gunslinger Man,” “Prairie Fire,” and “Harriet Tubman’s Gonna Carry Me Home” the album also included a wonderful cover of NRBQ’s classic “I Want You Bad.”

On November 30, 2018 British archival label Cherry Red Records will reissue Two Fisted Tales as a three-CD box set. With production overseen by the band’s Tom Stevens, the set includes the re-mastered original album with three bonus tracks, a second disc of demos from the band’s archives, and a third disc featuring a memorable live show from Palm Springs.

The Two Fisted Tales box set includes a new booklet with rare, unpublished photos and memorabilia and new liner notes by Griffin. The box set precedes a brand-new Long Ryders studio album scheduled to be released in 2019 by Cherry Red in the U.K. and the good folks at Omnivore Recordings stateside. If you’re a fan of contemporary roots-rock bands like the National, American Aquarium, or Beachwood Sparks, you owe it to yourself to rediscover the Long Ryders, one of the influential and innovative pioneering bands that helped launch the Americana movement.

Check out the album on the Cherry Red website

Chris Cornell’s Legacy Honored with Deluxe Box Set

Chris Cornell box set
Chris Cornell’s death in May 2017 robbed the rock ‘n’ roll world of one of its all-time greatest vocalists. The talented singer and songwriter for chart-topping bands like Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog, Cornell also enjoyed a significant solo career with his four solo albums circa 1999-2015 all charting in the Top 20. Over the course of a career that spanned four decades (and still ended far too soon), Cornell earned two Grammy™ Awards and selling better than 30 million records worldwide.

Given his popularity and influence on rock vocalists to follow, it’s only fitting that Cornell should be honored with a career retrospective box set. On November 16th, 2018 UMe will release the self-titled Chris Cornell, a limited-edition deluxe four-disc box set with 64-tracks, 11 of which are previously-unreleased. The set is being released with the support of Cornell’s wife Vicky on behalf of The Chris Cornell Estate.

Working extensively with Cornell’s former bandmates and friends, Vicky Cornell has compiled a collection that represents the singer’s entire career, including songs by all three of his aforementioned bands along with solo material. The set includes such memorable moments as Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike,” and Audioslave’s “Like A Stone.” Among the previously-unreleased songs are a live performance of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a duet with Cat Stevens on “Wild World,” and a duet with his daughter Toni on a cover of Bob Marley’s reggae classic “Redemption Song.”

Chris Cornell
In addition to the four-disc box set, Chris Cornell will also be released as a seventeen-track single disc version housed in a jewel case with a limited-edition custom die-cut slipcase that showcases Seattle with tree-line graphics on the front and other cities that Cornell lived in on the back cover. The set includes a 32-page booklet with unreleased photos and liner notes by friends and bandmates like Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, Tom Morello, Mike McCready, and Brendan O’Brien. A two-LP 180-gram vinyl edition features a gatefold jacket with similar slipcase graphics and a twelve-page booklet while the four-disc box set includes an expanded 54-page booklet.

For the hardcore fan with money to burn, Chris Cornell will also be available as a limited-edition ‘Super Deluxe’ box with four CDs, a DVD, and seven-LP set featuring all 64 songs plus 23 music videos along with a 66-page hardcover book wrapped in linen with a red foul signature cover. The ‘Super Deluxe’ box also includes three artist lithos, three photochromatic lithos inspired by Cornell’s fascination with the sun, a turntable mat, a microfiber vinyl cleaning cloth, and a 36” x 48” wall poster.

“Since Chris’ sudden passing I have put all my efforts and energy into sharing his music and legacy with his fans from all over the world,” says Vicky in a press release for the Chris Cornell box set. “I felt we needed to create a special collection to represent all of him – the friend, husband and father, the risk taker and innovator, the poet and artist. His soaring vocals found their way into the hearts and souls of so many.  His voice was his vision and his words were his peace. This album is for his fans.”

Buy your copy at
Chris Cornell single disc version
Chris Cornell double LP set
Chris Cornell four-disc box

Monday, October 1, 2018

New Music Monthly: October 2018 Releases

We're nearing the finish line for 2018, kiddies, and October promises another slobber-knocker slate of new releases that promise to tax your bankroll and please your soul. You got your new music from folks like Will Hoge, Graham Parker, Doyle Bramhall II, High On Fire, Elvis Costello, John Hiatt, Tom Morello, Ace Frehley, and many others as well as archive releases from Lindsey Buckingham, Permanent Green Light, Mott the Hoople, and R.E.M. among others. So, like I said, lots of tunes to spend your hard-earned coin on.

If we wrote about it here on the site, there will be a link to it in the album title; if you want an album, hit the 'Buy!' link to get it from's just that damn easy! Your purchase puts money in the Reverend's pocket that he'll use to buy more music to write about in a never-ending loop of rock 'n' roll ecstasy!   

Lindsey Buckingham's Solo Anthology

Anthrax - State of Euphoria [deluxe 30th anniversary reissue]   BUY!
David Bowie - Live In New York 1987   BUY!
Doyle Bramhall II - Shades   BUY!
Lindsey Buckingham - Solo Anthology: The Best of Lindsey Buckingham   BUY!
Coheed & Cambria - The Unheavenly Creatures   BUY!
Hugh Cornwell - Monster   BUY!
Echo & the Bunnymen - The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon   BUY!
Electric Six - Bride of the Dead   BUY!
Kristin Hersh - Possible Dust Clouds   BUY!
High On Fire - Electric Messiah   BUY!
Will Hoge - My American Dream   BUY!
John Lennon - Imagine [deluxe box set]   BUY!
Cat Power - Wanderer   BUY!
Sari Schorr - Never Say Never   BUY!
Unicorn -  Laughing Up Your Sleeve   BUY!

Graham Parker's Cloud Symbols

Martin Barre - Roads Less Traveled   BUY!
Lindsay Beaver - Tough As Love   BUY!
The Bottle Rockets - Bit Logic   BUY!
Elvis Costello  & the Imposters - Look Now   BUY!
John Hiatt - The Eclipse Sessions   BUY!
Peter Holsapple & Alex Chilton - The Death of Rock...   BUY!
Calvin Johnson - A Wonderful Beast   BUY!
Dave Keller - Every Soul's A Star   BUY!
Paul Kelly - Nature   BUY!
Tom Morello - The Atlas Underground   BUY!
Nazareth - Tattooed On My Brain   BUY!
Graham Parker - Cloud Symbols   BUY!
Permanent Green Light (Michael Querico) - Hallucinations   BUY!
Primal Scream - Give Out But Don't Give Up: The Original Memphis Sessions   BUY!

Ace Frehley's Spaceman

Terry Callier - The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Sandy Carroll - Blues & Angels   BUY!
Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics   BUY!
Disturbed - Evolution   BUY!
Ace Frehley - Spaceman   BUY!
Marty Friedman - One Bad M.F. Live!!   BUY!
Handsome Jack - Everything's Gonna Be Alright   BUY!
Los Straitjackers - Complete Christmas Songbook   BUY!
Will Oldham - Songs of Love and Horror   BUY!
Yoko Ono - Warzone   BUY!
R.E.M. - R.E.M. At the BBC [box set]   BUY!
Soulfly - Ritual   BUY!
Various Artists - Stax '68: A Memphis Story   BUY!

The Action's The New Action!

The Action - The New Action! [vinyl]   BUY!
Eric Bibb - Global Griot
Fifth Angel - The Third Secret   BUY!
Mott the Hoople - Mental Train: The Island Years 1969-1971 [box set]   BUY!
NRBQ - All Hopped Up   BUY!
Ty Segall - Fudge Sandwich   BUY!
Joe Louis Walker, Bruce Katz & Giles Robson - Journeys to the Heart of the Blues   BUY!

Mott the Hoople's Mental Train

Album of the Month: Mott the Hoople's Mental Train is a six-disc box set that collects includes remastered and expanded versions of all four of the band's original Island Records label releases; an entire disc of unheard and unreleased material; and a full disc of live and BBC performances. Each of the original albums - Mott the Hoople, Mad Shadows, Wildlife, and Brain Capers - has been expanded by 8 or 9 tracks, adding single versions, demos, alternate takes, and much more. A fifth CD, The Ballads of Mott the Hoople, is subtitled "Unheard and Unreleased Music from the Island Archive." That's a lot of great music for the Hoople fan!

Bob Dylan’s More Blood, More Tracks Bootleg Series Box Set

Bob Dylan’s More Blood, More Tracks
Bob’s Dylan’s Blood On the Tracks is, without a shred of doubt, my all-time favorite album by the Scribe, and it remains one of my Top 10 discs of all time. I can sing along, verbatim, with almost every track on the album and I’ve played it, literally, over a thousand times since its release 43 years ago in January 1975. So it pains me to say that, as much as I adore this record, I still won’t be ponying up almost two C-notes for a copy of More Blood, More Tracks.

The 14th volume in Dylan’s acclaimed “Bootleg Series,” More Blood, More Tracks is scheduled for release on November 2nd, 2018 as both a six-CD box set and in two-LP or single-CD ‘highlights’ editions. The boxed version features 87 songs, including 75 previously-unreleased tracks, covering all the extant session material from Blood On the Tracks.

The More Blood, More Tracks box set follows the same format as The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-1966 in that is presents all the available studio material in chronological order so that each song is presented in multiple versions. The box also includes a large hardcover book with new liner notes and reproductions of pages from Dylan’s original lyric notebooks while the double-LP and CD versions include one alternative take of each of the album’s ten original songs plus an eleventh song, “Up to Me,” a rare session outtake.

The story behind Blood On the Tracks reads something like this – after signing with, and releasing a pair of albums for David Geffen’s Asylum Records label (including 1974’s underrated Planet Waves), Dylan returned home to Columbia Records to record what would become one of the most acclaimed albums of his storied career. It didn’t come easy, though…after recording four sessions over ten days in September 1974 in New York City with producer/engineer Phil Ramone, Dylan assembled a ten-track album and submitted it to Columbia for release. He took a test pressing of the disc with him to Minnesota in late November to listen to over the Christmas holidays.

Bob Dylan's Blood On the Tracks
The notoriously-demanding singer/songwriter was dissatisfied with what he heard and, in December (shortly before Columbia was to release the album); he went into Sound 80 studios in Minneapolis with a new group of musicians and re-recorded five of the album’s ten songs. These five takes would replace the NYC recordings, and would become the Blood On the Tracks album that we know and love. Over the years, material from the New York City sessions has leaked out, but only one of the five NYC-recorded tracks from the original test pressing has ever been officially released, “You’re A Big Girl Now” appearing on Dylan’s Biograph box set. Alternate takes of songs like “Idiot Wind” and “Tangled Up In Blue” from the NYC sessions have been subsequently released on the first three albums in The Bootleg Series.

While the More Blood, More Tracks box set offers an absurd amount of material, the current $160 Amazon price tag is too damn rich for my blood. Although it’s likely to drop by $10 or so by release day, that still averages out to a costly $25 per CD, which smells to me like label exploitation of Dylan’s rabid fans. The single-disc set featuring the best alternative versions of each song (or the double-LP set) may be the best bet for fans that just don’t need eleven takes of “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.” I’ve included Amazon links to all three versions so that y’all can pick your poison…

Grab it from Amazon!
Bob Dylan’s More Blood, More Tracks 6-CD box set
Bob Dylan’s More Blood, More Tracks single CD
Bob Dylan’s More Blood, More Tracks two-LP vinyl