Friday, March 31, 2006


Back before the Internet changed everything, I used to cherish my issues of ICE Magazine. The release dates, especially for reissues was priceless. But then along came Amazon and sites like this Pause & Play (the music site), and the magazine didn't seem so vital. I still subscribed, but my last renewal made me wonder if I should've. So, it's sad, but not surprising, to read on various music forums that ICE is closing down. Long time readers like me can still feel the rush of the monthly magazine in the mail. But in the magazine biz, nothing lasts.

Fighting For Their Relevance

UB40 haven't been relevant in years. But the title track of their latest CD, Who You Fighting For?, is their best song since they ditched the political stuff in the late 80's and decided to be a reggae cover band. A rant on Iraq, Bush and the people that have screwed up the world, it's not overtly preachy. I have to admit that I'm glad they covered "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and this release. Hard to believe that that song hasn't been covered more. Anyway, this is their best CD since Labour of Love.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hey If Sonny Bono Can Be Elected

No Nukes! No Nukes! At lunch in the House dining Hall he can entertain with 70's flashbacks of "Still The Same" and "Dance With Me". And no this is not a joke. John Hall for Congress 2006 -- 19th District of New York

Another Reason I Wish Ronnie Van Zant Were Here Today

Why is it that I like Johnny Van Zant better when he's singing with brother Donnie on Get Right With The Man, than I do when he's fronting Lynyrd Skynyrd? He sings lead on most of the Van Zant album, but Donnie has a decent voice. And with less pretension. But thankfully, Johnny's not the annoyance that he is with Skynyrd. Since he's taking over full time lead vocal duties, Johnny has added nothing to the Skynyrd catalog. And watching him on the RRHOF telecast mugging his way (and going through the motions) through "Free Bird" and "Sweet Home Alabama" makes you wish Ronnie was here to smack him upside the head.

You Won't Get This With Satellite Radio

Ok, I'll bite on this one
Type in a radio station for playlists. But, yeah, the most bizarre thing is the map with all these songs playing right now.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Going Streaming

Recent records that I've streamed, but aren't bowled over by:
Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Ben Harper, Toby Keith

Recent record that I've streamed but do like:

In other words, advance streaming is the way to go for music critics who don't get advance copies.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Glimmers Of Hope From Elvis 1976

My Dad was at a record shop in Germany and bought an Elvis CD called One Night In Alabama. He gave it to me to add to my Elvis collection. I thought it was a Follow That Dream release (the internet only mail order BMG run Elvis CD store that specializes in releasing archival material). But it wasn't. It turns out to be a typical Elvis concert from his last years. This from August 1976. I've got a FTD CD called New Year's Eve which was from 1976, and the track list is similar. Here we have Elvis giving half-hearted reenditions of his big hits, going through the motions on covers of others and trying to stay awake during band intros. So why do I care? Because like all of music's great creations, even Elvis at his worst will give me moments of genius. Half through "I Got A Woman", the band finds a groove and Elvis wakes up with them. And on a typically over-the-top "Hurt", he outdoes his album version. Hints of what might have been, had he not given up on life. 29 years later we still can't give up on him.

Return of Greil Marcus' Real Life Rock Top Ten?

In the April issue of Interview, Marcus has a Top 10. He doesn't call it "Real Life", but it follows the same formula. Usually, he has an article column called "Days Between Stations". But if this is the start of a new Top 10, then it might be worth buying Interview for it.

Why The Dixie Chicks Will Never Have A #1 Single Again

Dixie Chicks return to country radio Their new single is good but not a classic. I bet their are better songs on their forthcoming CD. But that's not the reason they will never have a #1 single on the Country charts again. If you read the article you can see that their is still bias towards the Chicks. There are just too many Country stations that are pro-Bush that they won't get enough airplay to go to the top, no matter how good the song. Of course, I'm prediciting that their CD will debut #1 on the Country chart, and maybe the Pop one too. But you have to wonder: If Toby Keith were to speak out against the war or Bush today, how he'd fare on Country radio. I think you know the answer.

Playlist for 3/26

Buck Owens - I've Got A Tiger By The Tail (Sundazed 1965 reissue)
Buck Owens - Legendary Country Singers (Time Life)
Geoffrey O'Brien - Sonata for Jukebox (book)
Donnie McClurkin/Kirk Franklin - "Ooh Child"
Dixie Chicks - "Not Ready To Make Nice"
Prince - 3121

Saturday, March 25, 2006

One Big Buckaroo

It wasn't until Hee Haw went off the air and out of public conscience that Buck Owens began to get the recognition he was due. You can thank Dwight Yoakam and Marty Stuart, to name two who took Owens' sound, and brought an updated version to the top of the Country charts. But it was no coincidence that Owens made Bakersfield his home. He always had a love-hate relationship with Music City. No he was no Outlaw like the Nashville-bashing Waylon Jennings, but his do it his way easily rubbed the tight Executive shirts the wrong way. Not until 1996 did Owens finally get in the Country Hall. Like Webb Pierce, he was kept out because of Nashville's biased music politics. His was an original sound. From the Beatles to early Haggard to Garth Brooks, the Buckaroo sound made its imprint. And Owens' big smile now shines bright.
Rhino has a great Owens box set, and 2 compilations. But surprisingly the only good 1 CD comp is from Time -Life. Either way you can't go wrong with his peak 60's stuff.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Prince As Pre-Prince

3121 by Prince reminds me of pre-Prince. You know, the type of records he made before Purple Rain (i.e. Prince and Soft and Wet, but not Dirty Mind). This time the ballads are the weak spots, while the jams are still primal funk. "Lolita" has visions of "When You Were Mine." It's as good as Musicology.

Is Anyone Awake At The Hall?

Yeah, this year's RRHOF VH1 show was pretty boring. Maybe it's because the big giants who were inducted: Miles Davis, Johnny Rotten, Ronnie Van Zandt, weren't there. Oh, I know, Miles and Ronnie are gone. But the rest of the show was missing legends and personalities. Have all the great ones been inducted? Or is the RRHOF just inducting mere mortals now.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Why Van Halen Aren't In The RRHOF

Bassist Michael Anthony gets asked the question Van Halen Interview, but his response isn't right. The reason they're not in the Hall is because of one name: Sammy Hagar. The first year they were nominated (2003), I saw their name on the semi-finals list. Like everyone else, I figured they'd be a first ballot inductee. Since then, they haven't even been nominated. It has nothing to do with voters not liking hard rock. Voters just aren't ready to induct a hack like Hagar. But fear not. They will eventually get in.

Playlist for 3/19

Donald Fagen - Morph The Cat
Rent - Movie Soundtrack
Van Zandt - Get Right With The Man
Ken Emerson - Always Magic In The Air (book)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Why Burt Bacharach Isn't In the RRHOF

It wasn't until I read Ken Emerson's Always Magic In The Air, that I realized that Burt Bacharach didn't care for Rock 'n' Roll when it sprang to popularity in the 50's. Emerson mentions a couple of times how Bacharach had no love for the genre. I bring this up because I believe that Bacharach belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his songwriting. If leaving out people because they don't like Rock music were a given, then why induct Nat "King" Cole who once did a song called, "Mr. King Don't Rock 'n' Roll". There's no argument that Frank Sinatra and Burt Bacharach, 2 people who've professed their dislike for Rock, have been influential to Rock musicians. Bacharach has teamed with Elvis Costello, so maybe he's not quite the square he was in the 60's. As far as Emerson's book is concerned, it touches on a genre (60's Pop and pure Pop from the Brill Building) that churned out great stuff. It's best when it hits upon the pre-Beatles Pop that was dismissed and still gets dissed by Rock historians. Like Simon Reynolds' Rip It Up, which also touches on an overlooked era (late 70's post punk), it's a much needed revisionism.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Not The Nashville Paula Abdul

A veteran of many Music and Movie Biz titles, Anastasia Brown is the only reason to watch Nashville Star. She's a judge on the show. Her put-downs and advice are a welcome relief on a show that is mostly a love fest for the 12 singers. And she's no Paula Abdul. The show has a lousy track record of talent. Season one's Miranda Lambert is the only one to do great things. And she didn't even win. Last year, sandwiched between suck-up Phil Vasser and the equally horrible Bret Michaels, Brown was the only judge setting the acts' straight. On the first episode this year, she got help from Rich of Big & Rich who was a guest judge. Too bad, they should keep him. He was tough. Did I mention Phil Vasser's a judge? Like Michaels, his job is to say stuff like, "Dude, you rock!", or "Dude that was awesome!" Anyway, pray for Brown to keep it up this season. Nashville Star isn't must viewing. I didn't see any one from the 12 that will top the Country charts. But Brown is worth checking on.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Herb Gets In From The Side

Notes From The Rock And Roll Hall Of FameNo Herb Alpert would never be inducted as a recording artist. Let's say he snuck in the Hall from an open side door. No knock. I liked the Tijuana Brass, but not in the Hall. Alpert and Jerry Moss' induction for A&M makes me think that every label head will get inducted eventually. But all the big names are being scooped up. The future doesn't look so easy to predict. Shouldn't Shirley Robinson get a nod for Sugar Hill. Russell Simmons will get in for Def Jam. But I can't think of many more.

Cool Cat

There are 2 types of Steely Dan fans: the pre Aja and the post Aja. Look if you don't like their Jazz years that started with that album, then you won't like Donald Fagen's solo work. It's just an extension. His 3rd solo, Morph The Cat, doesn't Rock, but it grooves. Better than 1993's Kamakiriad, and as much as 1982's The Nightfly. Lyrically, which has now provide Fagen's best moments, he's as good as ever: meeting Ray Charles, Behind The Music Rock Band, Death and cleverly worded anti-Republican rant. Pre-Aja fans who think he'll ever write Rock songs again, can skip this. The rest of us, who've stuck with him from the beginning, will continue to enjoy the groove.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I'll Holler But They Can't Hear Anyone

What can I say? I love to rag on this blog Holler If Ya Hear Me. Why? Because when it launched in 2005, I asked to contribute to it. But I got denied. Wouldn't be a big deal if the blog was somewhat current. But check for yourself. It's rarely updated. And it includes a ton of writers as contributors. Actually, the only reason I ever checked it out was because Dave Marsh's Rock & Rap Confidential newsletter said to look for it. Marsh hasn't posted since 12/22/05. Maybe they need my help, after all.

The Country Son's Are Rising

I liked Hank III's album, and I really like Shooter Jennings Electric Rodeo (April 4). It's better than his debut, with no Country cameos to slow down the pace. He's more Country/Rock than before. In fact this Rock's harder, and the closer, a cover of Hank Jr.'s "Living Proof", is a fine wrap-up from one legend's son to another.

First Timers For 2007 RRHOF

Since the latest RRHOF class is being inducted March 13, why not think ahead to 2007's ceremonies.
Here's a list of first time nominees ( a note: sometimes the Hall's dates and mine don't always mesh. I could be off by a year or two) by how I'd vote. This is only for first time nominees.
Phil Collins
Lionel Richie
Duran Duran
New Order
Husker Du
Joan Jett

3 guilty pleasures on the list (can you spot them)
Of the 7 names, I predict only one (R.E.M.) will get on the ballot.

Speaking of Mojo

I find myself reading Mojo for the articles more than the reviews. What I'm finding is that the articles are coninciding with great reviews. Case in point: the April issue with Dave Gilmour on the cover and an article on Van Morrison. Both of their new albums get 4 stars. What a surprise! This happens too often in Mojo. So, in order to get exclusive interviews they suck up to names that will sell issues. And yes, I've heard both albums, and they're are both duds.

A Springsteen Mini-Bio for Under $10

The novel take on Music From Big Pink may be of interest to some, but for me the 331/3 book series from Continuum works best when it sticks to talking about the album, the artist and its aftermath. Which is why Geoffrey Himes' take on Born In The USA is more to my liking. In a 144 pages you get a mini bio, a look at the album, talk of pre-Born and post-Born albums, and a discography to boot. All for $9.95. So, Mojo thinks this approach is played out. I don't. And wish the writers would stick to the music.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Playlist for 3/12

Neko Case - Fox Confessor
Kris Kristofferson - This Old Road
Stacy Lattisaw - With You (Collectables Reissue)
Blue Magic (Collectables Reissue)
Merle Haggard - Hag/Someday We'll Look Back (Captiol Reissue)
Merle Haggard - Mama Tried - Pride In What I Am (Capitol Reissue)
Gospel Music - Various Artists
Little Willies
Wilson Pickett - Sound of/Wicked (Collectables Reissues)

4 Books
Frank Kogan - Real Punks Don't Wear Black
Greil Marcus - Old, Weird America
Bill Friskies-Warren - I'll Take You There
Simon Reynolds - Rip It Up

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Norah Jones' Big Tease

I remember Eric Clapton saying that if he had it his way, he'd just be a guitar player in a band. No lead vocals, no spotlight. Just hang back and play. I get the same feeling watching Norah Jones. Her shy stage persona seals it. And on her side project, Little Willies, I'm more convinced than ever by my observations. The best songs on this 3 day recorded album all feature Jones, either singing lead or duetting with the dull Richard Julian. Yeah, Julian, a New York singer-songwriter who has 4 CD's to his credit, is damn dull. Jones gets off a great cover with Elvis' "Love Me". The rest of the album sounds like the side project that it is. Do I prefer Jones in front or behind the band. I'll take her in front. Unless she gets better bandmates.

Prediciton:No Backlash

AOL News - Faith Hill, Tim McGraw Blast 'Humiliating' Katrina CleanupMcGraw's a Democrat who loves Bill Clinton. Certainly, the Bush-loving Southern Red State Country Radio Stations know that already. But will their be a backlash. I'm prediciting that there won't. McGraw never signals out Bush by name ("leader of the free world" doesn't have the same impact).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Johnny Rotten Fools Himself

I've got no problem with the Sex Pistols refusing to pay to play at the Rock Hall of Fame on March 13. The Hall says it's a non-profit, and that's why they charge even inductees to pay for their relatives and friends tickets. What I do find funny is that people seem to think that the Pistols' rant explaining why they won't attend, somehow makes them "punk" again. Johnny Rotten hasn't been punk since the day he split up the band. In fact a case could be made that the moment they signed a record contract, their punk credentials were up. Since 1978, Rotten has lived off his image of being a punk icon. Outside of a detour with Public Image Ltd., Rotten has used his Sex Pistols image to bolster his Record Company hating rants. But of course he does love Record Companies and money. You remember the reunion tour of 1996? Yeah, money speaks. Even to an "outsider" like Rotten. It took the Pistols 5 times to get in the Hall. So, maybe all these rants have to do with that. They were deserving their first year, no doubt about it. But I suspect that Rotten really just wants to stick it to the "man" one last time. But who will end up getting the last laugh?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Mott, Again

They haven't completely been forgotten, but Mott the Hoople never get mentioned in "Greatest Rock Band Ever" articles. Not even ones that focus on the 70's. But they were great. Ian Hunter's mix of Dylan lyrics, punk singing and heart-of-gold ballads set the stage for the Clash's existence. 3 new reissues (one 1974's lesser The Hoople) tell the tale again. Get Mott first. It's their greatest. All The Young Dudes is second. The title single, written by Bowie, may have hurt their career. They never graced the Top 40 again. But Ian Hunter had great songs in him. This trio proves it, again.

Oscar Recap 2006

Crash, this year's Shakespeare In Love.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Why They're Called Guilty Pleasures

Robert Christgau's latest podcast makes a reference to guilty pleasures. Christgau doesn't like the term, that is used by another writer to describe an upcoming show. Although if you go to his web pageRobert Christgau, and type in guilty pleasure in the text search, you'll find that he's used the phrase to describe Ted Nugent and a Bruce Hornsby song. Christgau believe that you either love something or not. But it's called guilty pleasure because you'd never tell anyone that you love Bread or "Ice Ice Baby". Of course you like 'em, but you know others won't or won't admit to it. Yeah, guilty pleasures exist and always will.

Playlist for 3/6

Ne-Yo - "So Sick"
Casada - "Everytime We Touch"
Mott The Hoople - Mott/All The Young Dudes (Reissues)
Jeffrey Osborne - From The Soul
Michael Buble - It's Time
Jackson Browne - Running On Empty (Reissue)

MLK Channel Gone

Well, AOL's MLK channel (which I raved about) is gone, just as Black History Month ended. Too bad. That was a great idea for a channel. Somebody needs to start it up again. This is the internet. There's got to be interest for a station like that.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hank III for III

Yeah, I guess Straight To Hell (Curb) by Hank Williams III, is another good album. But he could be making great albums. Like Shooter Jennings' debut, this suffers from too much "what's wrong with Country today-and I love the Old style Country Singers best-material". I could also do without the gay put-down that leads off one track. What's funny about Hank III is that he hates his record company, but still won't leave them. In every interview I've read, he mentions this Punk/Rock/Country hybrid he has in the can. It's supposed to be as wild as he is. On the bonus disc, you get a feel of that album. But as long as Hank III is on a major label, he''ll never get to release the crazy stuff he has in the can. He's 3 for 3 as far as albums go, but so far they're doubles, not home runs.
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