Friday, February 10, 2023
The View On Pop Culture: Rosie Flores, Bill Lloyd, "Cool and Strange Music," remembering Chet Atkins, John Lee Hooker & others! (2001)
A skilled guitarist and breathless vocalist, Rosie Flores has worked in the past with honky-tonk heroes like Asleep At The Wheel and Butch Hancock as well as recording two mid-‘80s classic cowpunk albums with her SoCal band the Screamin’ Sirens. Flores’ solo career has stretched over almost fourteen years and, with the release of her seventh album Speed of Sound (Eminent Records), has hit another artistic plateau. Flores works in a traditional country vein with healthy doses of rockabilly (Buck Owens’ classic “Hot Dog”, “Rock-A-Bye Boogie”), alternative country (Robbie Fulks’ “I Push Right Over”, John R. Cash’s “Country Boy”) and rockin’ pop (Marshall Crenshaw’s “Somewhere Down The Line”) as well as a handful of her own originals. All of the material features Flores’ engaging vocals and highly underrated guitar playing while producer Rick Vito provides clean lines and a glossy finish to the collection. If you want to hear some country music with heart and soul, look no further than Rosie Flores and Speed of Sound.
Bill Lloyd is remembered by many as half of the popular country duo Foster & Lloyd, who recorded three hit albums during the late 1980s. Lloyd has always been a rocker in his heart, however, and he’s enjoyed a successful career as a songwriter and session guitarist, playing with artists like Al Kooper, Kim Richey, Steve Earle, and Marshall Crenshaw. His fourth album, All In One Place (Def Heffer Records), gathers a decade’s worth of Lloyd’s songs from various tribute albums and compilations. A glorious collection of pop-influenced roots rock, Lloyd joyfully interprets songs by folks like the Hollies, Badfinger, Bobby Fuller, Todd Rundgren, and Harry Nilsson. He also throws in a few of his own spirited compositions, as well as songs co-written with artists like Dan Baird (The Georgia Satellites), Jerry Dale McFadden (The Mavericks), and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate). Think a mix of the Beatles and the Kinks with a slight Nashville twang and you’ve nailed the pop-rock aesthetic that makes All In One Place an enormously charming collection of tunes. (Available from Bill Lloyd Music at www.billlloydmusic.com)
Corporate music magazines depend on big advertising bucks from the major record labels to survive, so it’s no surprise that their editorial coverage tends to slant towards today’s trends. Fan-produced “zines” often offer a more diverse perspective on music, although none provide the range of interest that is the staple of Cool and Strange Music! magazine. A labor of love on the part of publisher/editor Dana Countryman, every quarterly issue of Cool and Strange Music! covers the strange and obscure, the wild and the wacky in a 64-page package with clean graphics and knowledgeable, entertaining writing. The latest issue includes a cover feature on guerilla comedians Firesign Theatre, articles on musicians David Bagsby and Bruce Haack, a look at Latin label Seeco Records and a guide to self-help records. Every issue is a musical education in itself. Cool and Strange Music! can be found at Tower Records and Borders Books.
We’ve lost a few giants of music and movies this past month or so. Although most had long since passed their days of glory, the contributions that all of these individuals made to pop culture can’t be forgotten. Carroll O’Connor (born 1925) had achieved a modicum of success as a character actor in over two dozen films but will always be best-known as Archie Bunker, a role he played on television for twelve seasons and for which he won four Emmy Awards. Actor Jack Lemmon (born 1925) often represented the common man during a remarkable film career that included dozens of movies and won Lemmon two Academy Awards, his first for the film Mister Roberts in 1955. Equally adept at playing both comedic and dramatic roles, Lemmon was a triple threat talent, also dabbling in music and poetry.
Guitarist Chet Atkins (born 1924) was a six-string virtuoso who defined the “Nashville Sound” in country music during the 1960s. Atkins recorded close to 100 studio albums during a fifty-plus year career, and played with a diverse group of talent that included Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, George Benson, and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Johnny Russell (born 1940) is best known as a country songwriter who scored hits with folks like Buck Owens, George Jones, Dolly Parton and even the Beatles. Russell also enjoyed a lengthy career as a performer in his own right, charting his first country hit in 1971 and joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1985, where he remained a fixture almost every Saturday night until his death.
John Lee Hooker (born 1917) was the last of the true Delta Bluesmen. Whereas most of his contemporaries made their way from the Mississippi Delta northward to St. Louis and Chicago, Hooker’s sojourn took him to Detroit, where he forged a lengthy career with a unique sound and charismatic performances. Hooker recorded over 100 albums during a career that spanned six decades, working with such musical luminaries as Bonnie Raitt, George Thorogood, Van Morrison, Carlos Santana and Canned Heat. All of these entertainers will be missed for the timeless moments of joy their talents brought us. (View From The Hill, June 2001)