THE ROLLING STONES: SOME GIRLS Live in Texas ’78

This piece was originally published April 8th, 2013.

Some Girls still stCharlie Watts Some Girls Icon Templateands today as one of The Rolling Stones last incredible album masterpieces.

While they certainly made some outstanding albums afterwards—Tattoo You and Undercover are both high points—there were none that would be so perfectly complete as Some Girls.

Released in 1978 and quickly becoming a #1 album, it is hailed as an across the board classic, and one of their all time best selling studio albums.

Recorded in ’77 & early ’78, the writing and sessions were done amidst a time of even more internal turmoil than usual for The Stones, with Keith Richards’ looming Toronto drug bust a concern as to whether he could be imprisoned for years, and the challenge of responding to punk rock’s ground zero takedown of the dinosaurs of many of rock and roll’s giants.

 

The original cover art (there was also another color variant cover) to the 
Some Girls album, spoofing a wig ad is brilliant. The cover was quickly changed 
when copyright issues came up regarding the various female celebrities depicted.

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THE UNDERGROUND X-RAY RECORDS OF THE SOVIET UNION

This piece was originally published March 25th, 2013.

Soviet X Ray Records IconIt’s easy to take entertainment for granted.

In our present day we have the ability to purchase and enjoy so many recreational items: play a video game, listen to whatever it is we want, watch whatever we want, and, though there are still many folks out there who wish they could control our choices, read any books we can find.

Folks happily embrace the technology that has made obtaining our selections quick, simple and affordable, and we think nothing now of versions that exist only on the ether, or rather—on a cloud.

Still others, myself included, like to seek out older formats and what some will call obsolete mediums.

Some of these formats such as the vinyl LP have actually increased in their yearly sales and there are constantly new purveyors now marketing records, both for new album releases and reissuing older releases.

The annual April celebration event for small independent record shops around the world, Record Store Day, has increased popularity and made it a huge success. For many of these brick and mortar stores and the independent record labels that send exclusive items for sale on that day, it is their best retail day of the year.

Long thought dead formats such as 78 r.p.m. records, 8-track tapes, cassettes, VHS tapes and laser discs, still have numerous aficionados and collectors that will readily discuss at great length their obsessions and collections. In fact, there are even record labels, bands and filmmakers that choose to only release their output on some of these “antique” formats.

It wasn’t always this easy though…

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BEWARE OF MR. BAKER: GINGER BAKER VS. HIMSELF

This piece was originally published February 11th, 2013.

Even when I thought I knew just about everything creative, compulsive and crazed when it came to tales of the man and his music, I saw this film and realized my knowledge was only a small part of a wilder story.

  Beware of Mr. Baker is a documentary on the life of the legendary British rock drummer with a mane of flame and the eyes of a madman, Ginger Baker.

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THE REPLACEMENTS: REUNITED FOR SLIM

This piece was originally published January 28th, 2013.

Formed in 1979 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Replacements were one of the great groups that merged a love of classic rock, hook-laden bands such as The Beatles ( they named one of the albums Let It Be ), The Rolling Stones, and Badfinger with the proto-punk of The New York Dolls and the more recent snap of The RamonesThe ClashThe Jam and The Dead Boys.

In their early sloppy, alcohol-sopped party rock days, when they weren’t downright terrible, they could be a short distance from their musical heroes, The Faces

 

The Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Bob Stinson, Slim Dunlap, Steve Foley

Rod Stewart and The Faces defined great drunken Rock and Roll

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When they summoned up a melodic beauty in a song’s refrain, they could reach the cosmos of one of their other major influences, Big Star

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The Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Bob Stinson, Slim Dunlap, Steve Foley

Big Star with Alex Chilton (right)

Through their earlier days the line-up was founder/guitarist Bob Stinson who, in an effort to keep his little half-brother out of trouble, presented Tommy Stinson with a bass. Adding their friend, guitarist turned drummer Chris Mars, the new band, Dogbreath, would cover Ted Nugent, and Aerosmith, standard stuff for 70’s kids to play.
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LED ZEPPELIN: CELEBRATING THEIR LAST HURRAH!

This piece was originally published December 17th, 2012.

Led Zeppelin Post Icon
Ah, Ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow,
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla I am coming!
On we sweep with thrashing oar, our only goal will be the western shore.
© 1970 Led Zeppelin

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The above is the lyrics to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” from their third album, 1970’s Led Zeppelin III.

It was written by Robert Plant after being inspired by a concert the band played at a college in Reykjavik, Iceland and touring the country, which reminded him of Viking hordes and big ships.

It’s perspective, as that of the Vikings leaving Scandinavia in search of new lands and new adventures, always left me with the impression that it easily could have been a song about the members of Led Zeppelin themselves.

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The gods swooped down to conquer in their own private jet

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LYRES: Back on Fyre! — MY FAVORITE MUSICAL ACTS, PART 3!

This piece was originally published November 19th, 2012.

Lyres Post Icon TemplateOnce again, here is the next installment of a series of columns that would each cover one musical act that I would gladly go to see in concert over and over again.

As previously mentioned in an earlier episode, in deciding which acts should go into this list of live favorites, these are my prerequisites:

1) They are still currently making music I like and are touring live.
2) I’ve seen each more than a few times.
3) All stand out with a unique sound, presence and charisma.

Here I present to you,  MY FAVORITE MUSICAL ACTS, PART 3 — LYRES

By the time he had assembled his band Lyres, Boston singer/songwriter/tambourine shaker/pianist/Vox Continental organist, Jeff Conolly, had already become a legendary figure on The Hub’s local music scene via his band DMZ.

DMZ was one of the nascent punk rock bands formed in Boston, early 1976, that landed a label deal with Sire Records (and later Bomp!) with their Stooges/Saints/Stones sound filtered through a heavy dose of  ’60s garage trash punk.

 

DMZ featuring singer Jeff Conolly (center)

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After DMZ broke up, Conolly, a.k.a. “Monoman” (a nickname that has several possible origins including Jeff’s obsession with ’60s monaural soul and rock and roll recordings and collecting them, as well as a single-minded obstinate determination when it comes to running a band) founded Lyres in 1979, retaining the fiery power of DMZ, but pushing even more of a garage rock and soul 60’s sound to the forefront.

The two members of DMZ who stayed on as the first of a billion changing lineups of Lyres would be the always present Jeff Conolly and bassist Rick Coraccio.
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JOHN ENTWISTLE: Halloween’s Favorite Bass Player

This piece was originally published October 22nd, 2012.

John Entwistle was the legendary and highly influential bass player for The Who.

Before Entwistle, pop music fans of all different styles could care less about the bass as an instrument, often not paying that much attention to who was playing it or listening for its sound.

Playing the bass as a lead instrument with a full on volume, treble and bass attack, and with his very specific selection of type of bass, plus what strings and amplification to use, Entwistle brought an uncompromising new approach to the bass guitar.

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CHRIS ISAAK: Carrying His Rock ‘n’ Roll Torch ‘Beyond The Sun’

This piece was originally published July 2nd, 2012.

Chris Isaak Post TemplateAs Chris Isaak puts it, he grew up incessantly listening to his parent’s record collection as a child in Stockton, CA.

It wasn’t an outrageously huge collection, but it was one that would influence Chris to this day.

The collection was heavy on Sun Records recording artists and included records by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

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THE SMITHS ‘COMPLETE’ – A BOXFUL OF BRILLIANCE

This piece was originally published June 18th, 2012.

The Smiths Post Template

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of nineteen year old John Maher (he changed it to Johnny Marr to avoid confusion with Buzzcocks drummer, John Maher at the time ) getting together with a twenty three year old unemployed writer named Steven Patrick Morrissey to forge what many have called not only the greatest independent alternative U.K. band of the ’80s, The Smiths, but perhaps the last truly important classic pop songwriting partnership that popular music history has seen.

Can you name another songwriting team that has come along since that tops them?

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Andy Rourke, Morrissey, Johnny Marr and Mike Joyce  as The Smiths

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With this anniversary, there have come remastered editions (overseen by Johnny Marr) of their entire catalog, including a limited edition super deluxe pricey vinyl LP box, and (reviewed here) a more easily purchased CD box set version entitled The Smiths Complete.

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Despite any claims by fans or critics of who was the best or greatest, one thing is undeniable, that once they secured the line-up of Marr, Morrissey, drummer Mike Joyce and bassist Andy Rourke, The Smiths of Manchester U.K. found an exquisite chemistry that rang of the sublime and the catchy.

They released unquestionably beautiful music for the ages. Continue reading, please click here…

Standing At The Sky’s Edge: RICHARD HAWLEY’s Unexpected Musical Turn

This piece was originally published June 4th, 2012.

Richard Hawley Post TemplatePsychedelic Rock by its usual connotation, conjures up effects laden productions, replete with swirling overdriven guitars, echoed vocals, feedback squalls, Eastern model musical scales and exotic instrumentation drenched in reverb, all of which hearkens back to the acid fueled music of the late sixties and an early practitioner such as Jimi Hendrix.

The freedom that this music has given musicians and listeners has ensured that regardless of whether any of the participants have ingested mind altering substances or not, over the decades the fresh breath of Psychedelia has been an influences for artists, bands and music fans.

The sounds of Psychedelia have come back time and again as a healthy kick in the seat of musical complacency.

So while the anger of punk might have been the thing to give a big angry boost to said bloated complacency in the mid seventies, the creativity and subtleties allowed within the giant umbrella that is Psychedelia is often the direction to turn to when a sprinkling of something special, perhaps a small pinch of musical “Saffron,” is needed.

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Richard Hawley’s newest album Standing At the Sky’s Edge (Parlophone) is a perfect example of taking a great discography of near perfect albums and stretching out with a different and a very unexpected musical turn.
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