Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nilsson Throws It Away

How do you followup your commercial breakthrough? Hopefully, nobody ever asked Harry Nilsson. RCA's latest reissues of Nilsson's early 70's work are case examples of someone bent on not heading up the charts. 1972's Son of Schmilsson and 73's Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night weren't what anybody had in mind for someone who was waxing Top 10 in 1971.
Although the former has some of Nilsson's most popular songs: "You're Breakin' My Heart" and "Remember", it's missing a big commercial kiss of a single. The standards set produced by Rock-hating Gordon Jenkins, was too obtuse for the 1973 record buying public. Of course, ask Carly Simon, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt and others, and they'll say Harry Nilsson was a decade or two too late getting in on the standards covers bandwagon. Basking in alcohol and heroin, Nilsson pissed his career away by the time Little Touch had disappeared. By the time of 74's John Lennon produced Pussy Cats, his voice was a shell of it's self. It would be nice if RCA or someone reissued his mid-70's stuff, but you can find the best of these on 1992's Personal Best, still the best Nilsson compilation. Seen today, I like Son of better than Little Touch. Although the latter has gotten a bad rep, I think it holds up better now.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Searcching For Power Pop

AOL and Yahoo's Online Radio stations have what seem like a thousand genres to choose from. But in the need for a Power Pop fix, I could find nothing for it. XM and Sirius don't have a Power Pop channel. Punching in the Raspberries on Yahoo's search, I came up with this Raspberries Fan Radio, which plays a lot of Raspberries and some other acts close to Power Pop. Also Live365 Internet Radio has a bunch of stations, but the sound isn't that great on most of them. Programming a Power Pop station wouldn't be that tough. Yahoo seems like the one that would do it first. They've got a deeper selection of channel's than AOL. The satellite ones probably won't go for it. But I'm hoping one of the above big namers surprise me.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Playlist for 5/28

Dixie Chicks - Long Way Around
System Of A Down - Mesmerize
Great Lost Singles - V/A (Collector's Choice)
Dillards - Wheatstraw Suite
Rascal Flatts - "What Hurts The Most"
Taylor Hicks - "Takin' It To The Streets"
Elliott Yamin - "Moody's Mood For Love"
Nilsson - Son of Schmilsson

Saturday, May 27, 2006

And The Conservatives Say... We're Hip With The Latest Rock Tunes

Conservative Top 50 - New York Times

Good for a laugh.

But I'll only comment on #13. Chrissie Hynde is talking about the Reagan Era's attack on American Farmer's and big Government's bulldozing of small town attitudes.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

An American Idol For Rock Critics?

Taylor Hicks seems like an American Idol even Idol-hating Rock critics could like. His love of 60's Soul puts his heart in the right place. If given the chance to sing what he sings best: good old American Bar Band Soul, he could make a decent CD. But listening to the generic Soul of his pre-Idol album, Under The Radar, I'm more afraid that the Idol handlers will do to him what they did with Bo Bice and Kelly Clarkson (on her first album). Mold him into their vision. I'm rooting for him. But I have my doubts.

Monday, May 22, 2006

If It's Still Okay For Toby Keith

Does anybody else notice that Toby Keith ends his latest album with a pro-prayer in school song. The word God on a Country album! Keith calls himself an Oklahoma Democrat, but we all know better. I wouldn't care about Keith's politics if he had the balls to truly reveal his inner liberal. But he's courting mainstream Country, where the mere thought of rocking the boat (dissing Bush, dissing the War, questioning the USA), will get you blackballed. Unless your an old vet like Haggard or Willie. But new Country acts don't have the guts to go against the grain. Even a Bill Clinton fan like Tim McGraw plays Clinton's centrist take and ruffles few feathers. But Natalie Maines did. Taking The Long Way isn't political, but you can't get around her history while listening to it. Althought, they're giving up on Country radio playing them, it's still a Country album. There's whisks of 70's Country/Rock here but it's not a pop album. My only complaint is that it's missing a big hit that would've made it tough for even the Southern stations that continue to boycott them, to play. Others will miss a "Goodbye Earl" or "Sin Wagon". I think they'll return to that next time. For now they've got old scores to settle.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jason Lytle Just Wanted Your Love

Eight years and 4 albums later, Jason Lytle's Grandaddy is history. A victim of Indie's sometimes cruel profits: people need to make a living and sometimes courting the fringes you don't. So bandmembers left in their pursuit to feed their family, and Lytle is now on his Modesto own. What was great about Grandaddy, until they botched the followup to Sophtware Slump, was that Lytle and Co. had a piece of Indie sound to themselves. Space-age simply sung and oh so slow renderings of life in nothing to do Modesto. So, 2006's Fambly Cat sees him go out on a high note. There's even more a sense of letting go in these songs. A band on the outs. But Lytle leaves with an ELO cover. Riding his Shangri-La's in to his sleepy Northern California night.

Playlist for 5/21

LeAnn Rimes - "Something's Gotta Give"
Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
Ashley Monroe - "Satisfied"
Better Than Ezra - "Juicy"
Jack Ingram - "Wherever You Are"
Foreigner - Complete Greatest Hits
Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
Placebo - Once More With Feeling
Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow

Friday, May 19, 2006

Melanie As Classic Rock Artist

I like XM's Deep Tracks and Sirius' The Vault . I think XM's show digs deeper in to the vaults. And both don't just play old tracks. You'll hear recent album tracks. But you're not likely to hear most of this stuff on your local classic rock station. And that includes Melanie's "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)" a 1970 #6 charter. I've always liked Melanie, but is that song a classic rock one. I heard it on XM, and am still debating. I think folk/gospel is a stretch for that format. What is Rock and not has always been in the back of my mind. When Rick Springfield was charting in the 80's, my rock station played some of his hits. But you'd never hear him on classic rock today. But then, if it's good enough for Melanie, why not "Love Somebody".

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Jack White Smothers Brendan Benson

Some are saying that even at 30 minutes, the Raconteurs Broken Boy Soldiers is still too long. But to me it's just right. But come on, the best moments are all Jack White's, while Brendan Benson struggles to keep pace. You'll hear prog-rock and Zep riffs and power pop and anything more than 30 minutes would've been pushing it. Benson doesn't have White's genius, and some songs suffer for it. At least on the title cut and the single "Steady As She Goes" he keeps pace. But White smothers him. Still, those that didn't like Get Behind Me Satan will bitch. Those of us who loved it also love this one.

Wrestling with Paul Simon

In his first album in 6 years, Paul Simon offers no classics, but offers fewer duds than on 2000's You're The One. But without the presence of Brian Eno, it would be neglible. Simon, like many of his peers- Sting and John Mellencamp have forgotten how to write hit songs. Now Simon, and they make albums for themselves. Getting rich and complaining that radio won't play you anymore will do this to you. This wasn't always the case. When these guys rode Top 40, they would make sure their albums had at least one song worth buying as a single. Even when the album wasn't worth it. Graceland at least included a throwaway in "You Can Call Me Al". Now Simon throws in "Outrageous", just as he did on his previous one with
"Old". Quick songs with quick hooks made to show that he could still whip out a 3 minute confection if he wanted. But neither of those is worth a compilation. The best moments on Surprise are at the front end of the album, when Eno pushes the music and Simon offers laments on this crazy life. But I keep buying albums by my heroes, because I keep hoping for some of that old spark. Surprise doesn't offer much of it, but parts of it stick with me. And damn if it's not the most frustrating album by an old hitmaker in some time.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Playlist for 5/13

Paul Simon - Surprise
Chris Isaak - Greatest Hits
Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
Wreckers - "Leave The Pieces"
Jimmy & Mama Yancey - Chicago Piano (Collectables reissue)
Jolie Holland - Springtime Can Kill You

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Forgotten Elvis Song Gets A Surprise Cover

Elvis Presley had 107 Top 40 hits. So what makes "If I Can Dream" so forgotten. Well, until the CD era it never got packaged on any of Elvis' hits compilations, even though it went to #12. And Elvis himself performed it only once: at the close of the 68 Special. I bring this up because of American Idol contestant Elliott Yamin's cover of "If I Can Dream". Of all the songs to do, I was stunned to see someone finally taking a shot at it. Yamin did okay. He lacked the big finish that Elvis brought to it. Looking at, I notice that the song has been covered by a few people. But not many. Maybe, it was meant to be Elvis' and only Elvis' song. Dressed in his white suit, and performing the tribute to Martin Luther King only a short time after he died, Elvis gave so much that he almost collapsed at the end of the performance. It may be his greatest live TV performance. Not many are ever going to come close.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Van Morrison's TV EP

Yep, the Van Morrison Country album, Pay The Devil, wasn't very good. But there is a bright spot. CMT ran a special called, One Night In Nashville, which was taped at the Ryman, and it's better than the album. Heck, if Morrison released an EP of the five live I'd buy it. On record the band sounds stitled, here relieved of the studio they sound alive and Morrison mostly sticks to the script. But even he seems to be awaken by the Ryman's history.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Jolie Holland Will Be Found

Jolie Holland's music is too eclectic to reach the mainstream. I think she'll end up on a Collector's Choice Music catalog 20 years from now. You know the mail order catalog that specializes in resurrecting forgotten singer-songwriters on the 60's/70's. She'll be labeled as someone who put out great albums, but was too out there for the masses. On her second proper album, Springtime For The Masses, her jazzbo voice/coupled with folk leanings, once again makes for intentive listening. But if you like your folk/jazz/pop uptempo, you can pass. Holland's forte is pre-Rock female vocalist simplicity. I loved her first, Escondida, and am on board for this. Only the lead track gives us a love song, and most of the rest are the usual tales of love lost. She's not for everyone. Her vocals may take on pretension, if you're not ready for them. But I find her whole package compelling.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Playlist for 5/6

Neil Young - Living With War
Pearl Jam - s/t
Phil Vasser - Greatest Hits Vol. 1
Wolfmother - s/t
Built To Spill - You In Reverse
Bo Bice - "Real Thing"
Matthew Sweet/Susannah Hoffs - "Run To Me"
Buck Owens - Live At Carnegie Hall
Don Rich - Anthology
What's Shakin' - Various
Wackers - Wackering Heights
Susan Tedeschi - "Tired Of My Tears"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wolfmother Really Aren't Serious

First there's the name. Wolfmother? Then there's lead guitar/singer Andrew Stockdale's hair. Eric Clapton's Cream days! But I should talk about the music. At first it's Uriah Heep imagery. Unicorns, eagles, witchcraft, jokers and tales. Oh and they're a power trio. But this isn't so much Cream as it's Led Zeppelin. But maybe it's a 70's White Stripes. Okay, they're derivative. And if it sounds like I'm being sarcastic and skeptical, I'm not. I like this CD as much as I liked the Darkness albums. But like the Darkness, I wonder if they'll last past album #2 without all the imagery. At times they rock harder than any band I've heard in years. Other times they unicorn stuff makes me puke, or laugh. Unlike the Darkness there's no humor here, but maybe there is. The followup will tell. But this strange hybrid should keep you early 70's classic rock fans happy.
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