Friday, July 26, 2019

Archive Review: Grin's The Very Best of Grin (1999)

Grin's The Very Best of Grin
Nils Lofgren has gained a fair degree of respect for his role as guitarist in Springsteen’s E Street Band, receiving far fewer props for his solo efforts and studio work with Neil Young and Ringo Starr. Lofgren’s is a career that dates back to the late sixties, however, thirty years as a journeyman rocker and visionary. Grin, Lofgren’s first band, is one of those great cult favorites whose place in rock & roll obscurity outshines even Lofgren’s wonderful, if mostly ignored solo career.

Grin released four fine major label albums during their six years, 1968 – 1974, and toured constantly, supporting folks like Jimi Hendrix, the Faces, the Byrds and the J. Geils Band. The Very Best Of Grin offers a deeper retrospective look at the band than previous “best of” albums, a nineteen song history that pretty well sums up what Grin was all about musically.

Grin’s The Very Best of Grin

Originally a trio, teenage guitarist Lofgren was joined by Washington D.C. music scene vets Bob Gordon on bass and drummer Bob Berberich, forming Grin. Signed by Columbia Records’ Spindizzy imprint with a little help from Neil Young and producer David Briggs, the band relocated on the West Coast to record their debut album. The Very Best of Grin includes four tracks from the band’s first effort, including the surprisingly honky-tonkish “Everybody’s Missin’ the Sun.” The previously unreleased “Nobody” is an outtake from the sessions for the first album and sounds a lot like a Lofgren solo song, offering a foreshadowing of music to come while the also unreleased “Sing For Happiness” from those sessions is a soulful ballad complete with lush backing vocals.

The band’s second album, the conceptual 1+1, proved to be their signature disc, yielding what would be the closest Grin ever came to a hit single, the buoyant “White Lies.” An energetic pop/rock tune with an undeniable hook, “White Lies” again sounds like solo Nils, the young guitarist developing his vocal chops and showing the charisma that would later create a loyal following. 1+1 was broken into two sides, the “dreamy” side and the “rocking side,” and The Very Best of Grin includes a selection of material from both, six songs in all. “Hi, Hello Home” offers a countryish beat with fine harmony vocals by Nils and guest Graham Nash. The turbo-charged “Moon Tears” would become a staple of Grin’s, and later Nils’ live performances, an enduring fan favorite that refuses to die.

Grin expanded to a foursome in 1972, adding Nils’ brother Tom on guitar and keyboards, a pairing that continues even today, the two brothers touring in support of Nils solo material. This Grin line-up would record two albums, the criminally-overlooked All Out, which would be their Spindizzy/Columbia swan song and the ill-promoted Gone Crazy for A & M, which would later become Nils solo label. The Very Best of Grin includes a half-dozen cuts from All Out including the rocking “Love or Else” with Nils and Berberich’s shared vocals playing off each others differences and strengths. “Sad Letter” is a bittersweet love song with a tearful guitar riff courtesy of brother Tom while the title cut is a soulful ballad featuring solid vocals by Berberich and guest Kathi McDonald. “You’re the Weight,” the lone cut here from Gone Crazy, is a flat-out rocker, featuring forceful vocals from Lofgren, a full band chorus and some tasteful six-string work from Nils.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Grin would be dropped by A & M Records after the lukewarm success of Gone Crazy, the band playing their farewell show in front of a hometown D.C. crowd in late 1974. Nils was almost immediately picked up as a solo act by the label, and would go on to enjoy a critically acclaimed if commercially questionably career until joining the E Street Band in 1984. Lofgren’s solo releases have been less frequent since hitting the road with Bruce, but albums like Silver Lining or Damaged Goods show a mature artist mining different musical veins that those enjoyed in his youth.

For those Nils Lofgren fans who know him only through his solo work or E Street Band performances, I’d heartily recommend The Very Best of Grin as a portrait of Lofgren’s roots. With only the classic 1+1 still out-of-print, this is the best documentation of the range and depth of one of rock music’s better, if little-known bands. (Sony Legacy Recordings, released June 8, 1999)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 1999

Also on That Devil Music: Grin’s Gone Crazy CD review

Buy the CD from Amazon: Grin’s The Very Best of Grin

Friday, July 19, 2019

Archive Review: The Hellacopters's High Visibility (2002)

The Hellacopters's High Visibility
Forget about all those nu-metal poseurs and “modern rock” fops with their Pro Tools-enhanced vocals and vacant rock star riffs. Brothers and sisters are taking it back to the streets, with Europeans like the Hives and the Hellacopters showing we Americans the way back into our garages. Throw in a New York City rock scene that includes the Strokes and the Mooney Suzuki, and it’s cool once again to bang out three chords on your Stratocaster. If you have any doubt, do not fear, for the Reverend would never lead his flock astray! Look no further than the Hellacopters, good fellows from Sweden, and the High Visibility CD, a literal hymnal of all that is holy and righteous in rock ’n’ roll today.

Released overseas a couple of years ago, the good folks at Gearhead Records have recently made High Visibility available stateside for the Reverend’s rock ’n’ roll ministry. Hellacopters’ frontman Nick Royale is one of the genre’s most powerful vocalists, mixing heavy metal energy with Motown soul, while the band raises a mighty ruckus on songs like “Baby Borderline” and “Throw Away Heroes.” The Hellacopters worship at the altar of the Grande Ballroom, with spiritual influences that include the Stooges, the MC5, Radio Birdman, and other acolytes of the joyful noise of the Motor City. Unabashed proselytizers of a ’70s rock aesthetic, the Hellacopters bring the divine word and garage-rock grace to we sinners with massive, feedback-ridden, guitar-driven three-chord hymns certain to have the heathens dancing in the aisles.

Tunes like the romantic blunderbuss “Hopeless Case of A Kid In Denial” or the blustery “Toys and Flavors” strike your ears like a thunderbolt from the right hand of Zeus. The riff-heavy “A Heart Without A Home” will make you forget about the musical wasteland the new millennium has become, the Hellacopters smiting false modern rock idols with a righteous fury. Wait no longer my children! Get thee hence to the local music retailer and obtain a copy of High Visibility by the Hellacopters. The Reverend guarantees that thou shall discover rock ’n’ roll salvation in the grooves of this entirely essential compact disc. (Gearhead Records, released April 20, 2002)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 2002

Buy the CD from Amazon: The Hellacopters’ High Visibility

Monday, July 15, 2019

Spotlight on Deep Purple

Deep Purple circa 1983
Deep Purple circa 1983

Deep Purple Select Discography:

Shades of Deep Purple (Tetragrammaton Records, 1968)
The Book of Taliesyn (Tetragrammaton Records, 1968)
Deep Purple (Tetragrammaton Records, 1969)
Concerto for Group and Orchestra [live] (Tetragrammaton Records, 1969)
Deep Purple In Rock (Warner Bros, 1970)
Fireball (Warner Bros, 1971)
Machine Head (Warner Bros, 1972)
Made In Japan [live] (Warner Bros, 1972)
Who Do We Think We Are (Warner Bros, 1973)
Burn (Warner Bros, 1974)
Stormbringer (Warner Bros, 1974)
Come Taste the Band (Warner Bros, 1975)
Made In Europe [live] (Warner Bros, 1976)
Deep Purple In Concert [live] (Spitfire Records, 1980)
Live In London [live] (Harvest Records, 1982)
Perfect Strangers (Polydor Records, 1984)
The House of Blue Light (Polydor Records, 1987)
Nobody's Perfect [live] (Polydor Records, 1988)
Slaves and Masters (RCA Records, 1990)
The Battle Rages On... (Giant Records/BMG, 1993)
Purpendicular (CMC International/BMG, 1996)
Abandon (CMC International/BMG, 1998)
Bananas (Sanctuary Records,2003)
Rapture of the Deep (Eagle Records, 2005)
BBC Sessions 1968–1970 (EMI Records, 2011)
Now What?! (Eagle Records, 2013)
Infinite (earMUSIC, 2017)

Deep Purple Mini-Bio

Deep Purple In Rock
British rockers Deep Purple are inarguably one of the most influential bands of all time. Purple's trail-blazing mix of operatic vocals, virtuoso guitar and keyboards, and unrelenting rhythms informed several generations of rock superstars, from Kiss, Queen, and Van Halen in the 1970s to Metallica and Iron Maiden in the '80s and even bands like Pantera and Alice In Chains in the '90s. Purple's imprint on the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal is enduring and undeniable.

Formed in 1968 by singer Rod Evans, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Nick Simper, keyboardist Jon Lord, and drummer Ian Paice, Deep Purple were originally a psych-influenced progressive rock band. This line-up recorded three late '60s albums that were released by the indie Tetragrammaton Records and scored hits with cover songs like Joe South's "Hush," Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Rain," and Donovan's "Lalena." By 1970, however, as rock music was evolving, so was Deep Purple, towards a heavier, harder-rocking sound.

Evans and Simper, deemed "unsuitable" for the band's new direction, were ousted, replaced by singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, who were also a songwriting team. This cemented the legendary "Mark II" line-up of the band that lasted from 1969 to 1973, re-forming again for a five-year run from 1984 to 1989. First finding success in the U.K. with albums like Deep Purple In Rock and Fireball, the band scored a multi-Platinum™ Top 10 U.S. hit in Machine Head, which yielded their classic song "Smoke On the Water." The band's Made In Japan live set went Platinum™ in the U.S. and sold over eight million copies worldwide. Purple's 1973 studio follow-up, Who Do We Think We Are, earned a Gold™ record for sales but tensions between the band members came to a head with Gillan quitting the band and Blackmore subsequently firing Glover.

Deep Purple's Machine Head
Purple soldiered on, recruiting singer David Coverdale (later of Whitesnake) and bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes (Trapeze) for the recording of Burn, the band's eighth studio album, which became a Top 10 hit that was followed quickly by Stormbringer, both albums scoring Gold™ Record status. Disgruntled over the musical direction of the band, Blackmore quit to form Rainbow with singer Ronnie James Dio. Undaunted, Purple brought in guitarist Tommy Bolin for the disappointing Come Taste the Band, but after Bolin's death in 1976, Lord and Paice decided to break up the band.

After being offered a truckload of cash, the Mark II version of Deep Purple reunited in 1984 for a pair of studio LPs and a live album, but the bad blood between Gillan and Blackmore proved too much, the singer left the band once again. Purple brought in former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner for the horribly mediocre Slaves and Masters album, but when the rest of the band wanted to bring Gillan back in the fold for the band's 25th anniversary, Blackmore acquiesced, but left the band himself after the release of The Battle Rages On, quitting during the album's support tour and temporarily replaced by shredder Joe Satriani. Accomplished six-string virtuoso Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs) took his place, and other than Jon Lord retiring in 2002 (R.I.P. 2012), to be replaced by journeyman keyboardist Don Airey (another Rainbow veteran), this Purple line-up has continued to tour and record to this day.

This is but a brief overview of Deep Purple's lengthy and complex 50-year career. If you want the full story, check out writer Martin Popoff's comprehensive history of the band. There are a bunch of dodgy Deep Purple live albums, some of 'em pretty good, but most of them not so much, and I haven't listed those here. There are also a slew of various compilation albums that I'd avoid, but if you really need to check out the band, look no further than Machine Head and/or Perfect Strangers. If you dig those LPs, the rest of these will end up in your collection sooner or later...

Archive Review: Emo Philips’ Live From the Hasty Pudding Theatre (1987)

Emo Phillips’ Live From the Hasty Pudding Theatre
Comedy is entirely a matter of personal taste, comedy recordings doubly so. Informed criticism of either is somewhat futile and not unlike dancing upon the edge of a well-oiled razor blade, albeit a rather large razor blade. What one person may consider leg-wetting, liver-quivering funny may seem incredibly droll and boring to the next person…all of which, in a round-about way, is my manner of introducing you, gentle reader, to the somewhat slightly strange work of Emo Philips.

You may have seen Emo on Letterman’s show or, perhaps, on one of the many pay-cable networks which seem to dote on young comics these days. If you’ve never seen Mr. Philips – a tall, gaunt fellow with an anachronistic pageboy haircut and a strained, sing-song delivery – you’d never forget him. Emo is one sick puppy. His shtick is a curious mix of introverted self-criticism, audience-shared personal experience, and intellectual absurdity; in short, an artist requiring an acquired taste.

Live From the Hasty Pudding Theatre is Philips’ second record, recorded at Harvard’s legendary Hasty Pudding Theatre, a living shrine to theatrical farce, a location well-suited for Philips’ style of comedy. The material here is consistently off-the-wall, the jokes quick and fleeting, dealing mostly with Emo’s day-to-day existence. The humor is more than a wee bit cerebral, with intellectual broadsides and odd non-sequiturs flying freely. At his best, Philips is a mirror reflecting the various quirks and eccentricities of our society; at his worst, he is merely strange. This is an enjoyable album, if not uproariously funny, but rather the sort of comedy record which yields a fresh dimension of thought with each listen… (Epic Records, 1987)

Review originally published by The Metro (Nashville), 1987

Buy the CD from Amazon: Emo Philips’ Live From the Hasty Pudding Theatre

Friday, July 12, 2019

Archive Review: Wayne Kramer's Citizen Wayne (1997)

Wayne Kramer's Citizen Wayne

When former MC5 axeman Wayne Kramer made The Hard Stuff, his first solo disc for Epitaph, he recruited a gang of studio help that read like a literal “who's-who” of alt-rock and punk stars. Cashing in on his legendary reputation, Kramer delivered a solid effort that was one of the year's best albums. For his third Epitaph release, Citizen Wayne, the Gen-X sidemen are gone, as is long-time Kramer lyricist Mick Farren. Under the guiding hand of producer David Was, Kramer is entirely on his own here, and if the resulting songs aren't as breath-taking as those on The Hard Stuff, they ain't half-bad, either.

Mixing the metallic-tinged, guitar-driven style of rock that he's known for with a sort of manic jazz improv and urban R & B influence, Kramer has created an interesting, thought-provoking album that showcases a lyrical talent few of us realized Kramer possessed. There are several songs here that have caught my attention and fired my imagination, from the slightly surrealistic history lesson of "Back When Dogs Could Talk" to the clever satirical wordplay of "Revolution In Apt. 29." "Down On the Ground" is possibly the best riot song I've ever heard, the story of the MC5's ill-fated trip to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, while "Snatched Defeat" and "Count Time" tell of Kramer's personal trials and tribulations. "Shining Mr. Lincoln's Shoes," a simple Guthriesque tale of life on the streets in America reveals Kramer's populist social consciousness, while other cuts take on government-sponsored drug runners and media-created celebrity.

If much of Citizen Wayne seems to be autobiographical, well, it is. During their time, MC5 were a ground-breaking hard rock band with a political edge that made a lot of noise, stirred up a lot of controversy and, ultimately, sold few records. They might have been an obscure footnote in musical history if a current generation of young punks hadn't gone searching for their non-commercial roots and rediscovered the pre-punk Midwestern anger of MC5 and the Stooges. Kramer was elevated to the status of a legend without any of the material benefits. That he's defeated addiction and imprisonment to return to music after a hiatus of many years is a tribute to the man's talent, that Kramer has delivered an album as electric, insightful and vital as Citizen Wayne is an indication of his artistic creativity. (Epitaph Records, 1997)

02/15/2022 Review edited to correct 25-year-old error in the producer's if anybody cares...

Also on That Devil Music: Wayne Kramer's The Hard Stuff CD review

Friday, July 5, 2019

Archive Review: Radio Birdman's Zeno Beach (2006)

Radio Birdman's Zeno Beach
Australia’s Radio Birdman is possibly the first punk band to earn mythical status not on the strength of their music, but rather on their obscurity. The exposure of the average American rocker to Radio Birdman’s blistering late ’70s punk has come solely through a single compilation, The Essential Radio Birdman: 1974-1978. The band’s influence on a generation of Australian artists following in their footsteps cannot be understated, however, with every Oz band of note over the past 20 years – Celibate Rifles, the Screaming Tribesmen, Hoodoo Gurus, and many others – tapping into the Birdman spirit in one form or another.

While the prospects of a Radio Birdman reunion at this late date seemed a bit spotty, Zeno Beach, the album resulting from the reassembled band, is much better than it has any right to be. Recruiting original Birdman shouter Rob Younger – an ingredient essential to any successful reinvention of the band – and calling up mates Chris Masuak and Pip Hoyle, Deniz Tek managed to assemble two-thirds of the original Birdman lineup, adding a couple of new friends to the mix. The chemistry of the newfound band is incredible, adding a fresh layer of grime and grunge to the band’s classic high-flying punk roots.

Detroit-born Tek’s fascinations with the Stooges and the MC5 can still be heard in the songs, but they don’t dominate the proceedings as they once did. Younger’s amazing vocal range – he sounds like Robert Smith of the Cure one moment, like Iggy after a three-day binge the next – is supported by the dueling guitars of Tek and Masuak and a solid rhythm section. The result is a classic, timeless rock ’n’ roll album, bristling with energy and attitude and driven by screaming guitars that channel four decades of garage-bred roots into 45 minutes of near-perfect Marshall flash. (Yep Roc Records, released August 22, 2006)

Also on That Devil Music: Radio Birdmans The Essential Radio Birdman CD review

Buy the CD from Amazon: Radio Birdman’s Zeno Beach

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 2006

Archive Review: Humble Pie's On To Victory/Go For the Throat (2012)

Humble Pie's On To Victory/Go For the Throat
Fronted by the dynamic, charismatic Steve Marriott, British blues-rockers Humble Pie enjoyed a brief early-1970s heyday that reached its peak with the band’s 1972 album Smokin’. Originally formed in 1968 by Marriott and guitarist Peter Frampton, the band would go through various line-ups and musical directions before latching onto Marriott’s favored rock ‘n’ soul hybrid, a boogie-and-blues brew that, combined with an unrelenting tour schedule, would take Smokin’ to number six on the Billboard albums chart.

While subsequent albums would experience diminishing commercial returns, Humble Pie remained a popular live band when Marriott decided to pull the plug after 1975’s disappointing Street Rats in favor of reforming his 1960s-era outfit the Small Faces. When that reunion went south in a tangle of egos and mediocre music, Marriott put together Steve Marriott’s All-Stars and toured briefly before finally forming a new version of Humble Pie in 1979 with original drummer Jerry Shirley, guitarist Bobby Tench (from the Jeff Beck Group), and bassist Anthony “Sooty” Jones. This Humble Pie line-up recorded a pair of albums – 1980’s On To Victory and the following year’s Go For the Throat before health issues prompted Marriott to bust up the band for a second time in 1981.

Humble Pie’s On To Victory

Reissued as part of a two-disc set, On To Victory and Go For the Throat were both unfairly maligned at the time of their original release, and both albums deserve another listen by long-time fans and newcomers alike. Rather than rest on past laurels or try to recreate the heavy blues-rock formula that struck gold with Smokin’, Marriott’s new Humble Pie would sojourn into unexpected musical territories, incorporating Marriott’s love of American soul music and R&B with the blues-rock sound with which he had built his reputation. As such, On To Victory cleverly mixes these related influences to create a fresh (and funky) sound.

On To Victory scored an unexpected minor hit with “Fool For A Pretty Face,” the song’s swaggering bravado mixing boogie-blues with raucous soul to good effect. The similar “Infatuation” is built with the same blueprint, Marriott adding backing harmonies behind his growling vocals, blasts of R&B styled horns accenting the mix. A cover of the Holland/Dozier/Holland classic “Baby Don’t You Do It” is offered a reckless performance with a lot of charm, Marriott’s signature high-flying vox imitating his previous “I Don’t Need No Doctor” while the band delivers a stone rhythmic groove in the background. Marriott plays a cover of Otis Redding’s “My Lover’s Prayer” fairly straight, gospel-styled keyboards chiming reverently behind his anguished vocals, while the high-flying “Further Down the Road” displays Marriott’s underrated six-string skills and a killer performance by drummer Shirley.

Humble Pie’s Go For the Throat

Experiencing a modicum of sales success with On To Victory, the re-formed Humble Pie was hustled into the studio to record a quick follow-up. Released in 1981, Go For the Throat could be viewed as a sequel to its predecessor and, in many aspects, its songs are almost interchangeable with On To Victory, with a few minor artistic lapses. An overwrought cover of Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up” features some fine guitar and keyboards from Marriott, but an overall embarrassing vocal take. Much better is Marriott’s original “Teenage Anxiety,” a mid-tempo ballad with emotional vocals, a solid rhythmic construct, and tasteful piano leads.

Marriott revisits an old Small Faces tune he co-wrote with Ronnie Lane, “Tin Soldier” a relic of the psychedelic 1960s but still holding a bluesy, soulful edge with Marriott’s inspired vocals and nuanced fretwork, and Shirley’s big-beat timekeeping. Another Marriott original, “Driver,” sounds like a ZZ Top outtake albeit with more frantic percussion and a chaotic arrangement fueled by ripping guitar, flying harmonica riffs, and explosive drumbeats. The swinging, Rolling Stones-styled “Restless Blood” is pure raunch ‘n’ roll cheap thrills, and “Chip Away” (The Stone)” is an unbridled rocker from the early Humble Pie songbook, Marriott’s vocals almost lost beneath a storm of stammering guitar, bass, and drums.

Live In Los Angeles 1981

This reissue of On To Victory and Go For the Throat packages both albums on a single CD, accompanied by a second live disc that captures a live 1981 radio broadcast recorded in front of an enthusiastic audience at the Reseda Country Club in Los Angeles, California. The eight-track playlist, although stretching across a full 45-minutes, is curiously short on material from the reformed band’s then-current albums. No matter, because starting with a particularly high-octane ten-minute jam on the band’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor” (originally an R&B chart hit for Ray Charles), this live set strikes like lightning and sounds like thunder, showing why Marriott was always more popular as a live performer than a studio artist.

“Infatuation” takes on a new life on-stage, the band stomping and snorting like a mad bull tearing through a china shop. The band revisits another early Humble Pie gem in “30 Days In The Hole,” one of the more popular AOR tracks from Smokin’, Jerry Shirley’s flying drumbeats and Marriott’s out-of-control vocals paired with intertwined guitars and heavy bass lines. The hit “Fool For A Pretty Face” is well-received, Marriott’s vocals edgier and stronger than the studio version, the band’s crashing instrumentation building to a cacophonous crescendo. Marriott revisits his childhood with a livewire cover of Gene Vincent’s early rock classic “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” pulling off an audacious performance, while a cover of Don William’s country classic “Tulsa Time” swings as hard as the original with amped-up guitars and sonic drumbeats, although the gravel-throated Marriott’s attempt at twangy vocals fall far short of the mark.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Since both On To Victory and Go For the Throat have long been out-of-print in the U.S. and available only sporadically as a British import, it’s good to have both albums available again as part of a single set. While neither album is as engaging or entertaining as early Humble Pie efforts like Rock On or Smokin’, neither is as bad as critics avowed at the time. Both albums include a handful of truly transcendent musical moments – solid fusions of blues, rock, and soul – and although On To Victory is the better and more spontaneous of the two releases, the albums mesh together seamlessly on a single disc. Throw in the red-hot live set, and you have a deluxe edition tailor-made for Humble Pie fans to chew upon for a while. (Deadline Music, released March 13, 2012)

Monday, July 1, 2019

New Music Monthly: July 2019 Releases

What July lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for with quality, the month offering new blues jams from Chicago's Billy Branch and the mighty Supersonic Blues Machine as well as a cool four-disc box Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records set. There are new rockin' tunes from folks like Imperial Teen, Violent Femmes, and Purple Mountains; some rare Little Steven music; and a slew of archive releases, including some Crowded House on wax and some rare Paul McCartney vinyl stuff. Plus, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a long overdue reissue of Brian Eno's Apollo album on CD and vinyl! No matter your taste in music, there's something here for you to listen to in July!

If you’re interesting in buying an album, just hit the ‘Buy!’ link to get it from’s just that damn easy! Your purchase puts valuable ‘store credit’ 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!

Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues' Roots and Branches

Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues - Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter   BUY!

Crowded House's The Very Very Best of Crowded House

Crowded House - The Very Very Best of Crowded House [vinyl]   BUY!
Gomez - Liquid Skin [20th anniversary reissue]   BUY!
Imperial Teen - Now We Are Timeless   BUY!
Little Steven & the Interstellar Jazz Renegades - Lillyhammer The Score, Volume 1: Jazz   BUY!
Little Steven & the Interstellar Jazz Renegades - Lillyhammer The Score, Volume 2: Folk, Rock, Rio, Bits & Pieces   BUY!
Paul McCartney - Amoeba Gig [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Paul McCartney - Choba B CCCP [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Paul McCartney - Paul Is Live [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Paul McCartney - Wings Over America [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains   BUY!
Supersonic Blues Machine - Road Chronicles [live]   BUY!

Brian Eno's Apollo

Davina & the Vagabonds - Sugar Drops   BUY!
Brian Eno - Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks [Extended Edition]   BUY!
Steve Goodman - Affordable Art [CD reissue]   BUY!
Steve Goodman - Artistic Hair [CD reissue]   BUY!
Live - Throwing Copper [25th anniversary reissue]   BUY!
Various Artists - Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection [4-CD history of Chicago blues label]   BUY!

Violent Femmes' Hotel Last Resort

Soundgarden - Live From the Artists Den   BUY!
Violent Femmes - Hotel Last Resort   BUY!

Steve Goodman's Affordable Art

Album of the Month: There are a number of great choices for the month, but the Rev has to go with the late Steve Goodman's Affordable Art, reissued on CD by the good folks at Omnivore Recordings. The last album released during singer/songwriter's lifetime, on his own indie Red Pajamas label, Affordable Art is a fine collection filled with humor, poetry, and humility – all of which were Goodman's stock-in-trade. If you're unfamiliar with this legendary, talented wordsmith and performer, Affordable Art is a great place to start. Omnivore is also reissuing Goodman's Artistic Hair album this month, and a couple more titles from the artist in August, and you honestly can't go wrong with any of 'em!

Archive Review: Monster Magnet’s Dopes To Infinity (1995)

Monster Magnet’s Dopes To Infinity
What the 1990s are lacking, if I were to inject my two cents worth here, is a truly HEAVY rock ‘n’ roll band. Sure, there’s grindcore, death metal, and metallic rap; punk rap and hardcore punk, and a dozen other variations on the old guttural vocals/loud ‘n’ fast guitars and monster rhythm combo, but there's no really, really HEAVY rock outfit...the kind of stuff that an early Bob Seger (before he hit middle age and senility) used to call “Heavy Music.”

After all, the ‘60s had Dust, Sir Lord Baltimore, and Vanilla Fudge and the ‘70s had Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind, and the mighty Black Sabbath. Even the ‘80s – the great cesspool that was the Reagan era – produced semi-heavy bands in Metallica, Slayer, and the rest of Tipper’s demon-inspired nightmares. Kids these day have nobody to call their own, no righteous headbangers that they can tell tales to their grandchildren about – “well, chilluns, I remember the night that we pried Ozzie up off of a hardwood floor in a West Nashville bar and propped him in front of a mike. Sabbath rocked so hard that they were wheeling them out of the auditorium in iron lungs!”

With the best interests of these young ones at heart, I’d like to nominate Monster Magnet for the open position of the “Heaviest Band of the 1990s.” Dopes To Infinity, their latest effort, comes mighty close to recreating the magic that all of those aforementioned bands brought to their ‘heavy’ creations. First of all, they’ve got a great name, one that would look good on a patch or a school notebook (and that’s important!). Secondly, they've got great song titles – stuff like “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” or “Look To Your Orb For The Warning” or, lest we forget, “Ego, The Living Planet.”

Most importantly, as we used to say once upon a time, Dopes To Infinity kicks out the jams with a dozen powerful, psychedelic-tinged rock tunes. Thunderous, spacey, hypnotizing, and capital-H Heavy, Monster Magnet are no mere pretenders to the throne, but rather real contenders for the crown. (A&M Records, released March 21, 1995)

Buy the CD from Amazon: Monster Magnet Dopes To Infinity

Review originally published by Bone Music Magazine, Nashville (1995)