Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Reissues of 2011

1.  Drive By Truckers - Greatest Hits
2.  Rosanne Cash - Essential
3.  Paul Kelly - Greatest Hits (the Australian singer/songwriter)
4.  Nick Lowe - Labour of Lust  (reissue)
5.  Joss Stone - Best of
6.  Beach Boys  - Smile Sessions
7.  Ashford & Simpson - Send It/So So Satisfied  (reissues)
8.  Gorillaz - Singles Collection
9.  Neil Diamond - Bang Years
10.  Phil Spector - Very Best of

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mainstream Rock

The above link is from the NY Times, and it's about how crappy "Mainstream Rock" was this year.  Notice the term.  What we are talking about here is not your crit-fave stuff like Radiohead, but the stuff that sells to the masses.  And how very little of it crossed over and charted.

Mainstream Rock in the 70's/early 80's would have been Bad Company or  Foreigner, etc, etc.  There aren't bands like that anymore.  Nickelback is hanging in there.  Foo Fighters as well.
But the problem is, is that albums don't sell anymore.  Singles do.  So the days of a Boston or REO or someone like that selling 10 million copies off of a few singles appear to be a fond memory.

The record biz knows this and that's why they've turned their attention away from Mainstream Rock and put their money with Dance Pop Divas and Hip Hop.  These are selling.

For the genre to come back on the charts, there will have to be more than one artist to break through.  The genre needs an Adele, not a Foster The People.

Top Singles of 2011

1.  Rolling In The Deep - Adele
2.  Moneygrabber - Fitz & The Tamptrums
3.  Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
4.  Someone Like You - Adele
5.  Get Some - Lykke Li
6.  Honey Bee - Blake Shelton
7.  Grenade - Bruno Mars
8.  I Wanna Go - Britney Spears
9.  Last Friday Night - Katy Perry
10. Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5
11. Wilhelm Scream -James Blake
12.  Rumour Has It - Adele
13.  Down By The Water - Decemberists
14.  Super Bass - Nicki Minaj
15.  Take Care of Yourself - Teddy Thompson
16.  It's Five O'Clock - T-Pain/Lily Allen/Wiz Khalifa
17.  Without You - Keith Urban
18.  Strawberry Swing - Frank Ocean
19.  Katy On A Mission - Katy B
20.  Second Chance - Peter Bjorn & John
21.  Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO
22.  If I Die Young - Band Perry
23.  Edge of Glory - Lady  Gaga
24.  Colder Weather - Zac Brown Band
25.  Show Goes On - Lupe Fiasco
26.  Price Tag - Jessie J
27.  Baggage Claim - Miranda Lambert
28.  I Just Had Sex - Lonely Island
29.  Lonely Boy - Black Keys
30.  Kmag Yoyo - Hayes Carll
31.  Hell On Heels - Pistol Annies
32.  Are You Gonna Kiss Me  - Thompson Square
33.  We Found Love - Rihanna
34.  Stereo Hearts - Gym Class Heroes
35.  Born This Way - Lady Gaga
36.  Paradise - Coldplay
37. We R Who We R - Kesha
38. Midnight City - M83
39. Video Games - Lana Del Rey

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Paul Nelson

If you don't know who Paul Nelson is, do me a favor and pick up Kevin Avery's Bio/Retrospective on his work called Everything Is An Afterthought.
Nelson was one of the first of the major Rock critics.  Along with Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau, Ellen Willis (a book on her was also released this year, recommended) , Richard Meltzer, Paul Williams, Lester Bangs, Robert Palmer (the writer, not singer).  And some others I've missed.
Before writing for Rolling Stone, he mainly wrote about Folk Music.  But he had other passions beyond Rock.  He also loved movies.  And for 5 years in the early 70's was an A&R man Mercury Records, where he signed the New York Dolls.
All of this well documented in Avery's book.  But here's the kicker.  In the mid-90's, Nelson stopped writing about, well, everything.  No music or movie articles.  He got a job at video store in New York City and worked there pretty much until his death in 2006 at the age of 69.

There's a certain sadness in Nelson's tale.  Especially in the last decade of his life.   And it is this part of the book that I found most compelling.
Paul Nelson is somewhat overlooked when we talk about the early Rock Critic pioneers.  With this book, he finally gets long overdue recognition.

Top Albums of 2011

Top Albums of 2011

Top Singles link is here
Top Reissues link is here

1.  Adele - 21
2.  Tuneyards - Whokill
3.  Fountains of Wayne - Sky Full of Holes
4.  Hayes Carll - Kmag Yoyo
5.  Mayer Hawthorne - How Do You Do
6.  James Blake  -s/t
7.  Black Keys - El Camino
8.  Steve Cropper - Dedicated
9.  Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
10. Jill Scott - Light of the Sun
11. Pistol Annies - Hell on Heels
12. Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What
13. Dave Alvin - Eleven Eleven
14. Decemberists - King Is Dead
15. Raphael Saadiq - Stone Rollin'
16. Van Hunt - What Were You Hoping For
17. Teddy Thompson - Bella
18. Drive By Truckers - Go Go Boots
19. Miranda Lambert - Four The Record
20. Fitz & The Tamptrums - Pickin' Up The Pieces
21. North Mississippi All Stars - Keys to the Kingdom
22. Merle Haggard - Working In Tennessee
23. Lady Gaga- Born This Way
24. Charles Bradley - No Time For Dreaming
25. Marsha Ambrosius - Late Nights Early Mornings
26. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Revelator
27. Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, Ultra
28. Social Distortion - Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
29. Wilco - Whole Love
30. Dale Watson - Sun Sessions
31. Brad Paisley - This Is Country Music
32.  Destroyer - Kaputt
33.  TV On The Radio - Nine Types Of Light
34.  Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire
35.  Jason Isbell - Here We Rest
36.  Florence & The Machine - Ceremonials
37.  Lonely Island - Turtleneck & Chain

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TV Update

Haven't done a TV update in a long time.  Below are shows I never miss.

Breaking Bad
Boardwalk Empire
Walking Dead
Curb Your Enthusiasm
True Blood
The Glades
Game of Thrones
Parks and Recreation
Bored to Death  (cancelled)
Hung (cancelled)
How to Make It America (cancelled)
American Idol
X Factor
The Voice
Amazing Race
American Pickers
Hawaii Five-0
Storage Wars
No Reservations
Raising Hope
New Girl
Hell's Kitchen
Strike Back
Eastbound and Down
The Killing
Hell on Wheels
Nurse Jackie
Big C
Little Couple
Life & Times of Tim
Real Time with Bill Maher
Mad Men  (not on this year, but still great)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cee Lo Gets Paid In Other Ways

The above link is an article about Cee Lo, and how, despite having a huge single with "F--- You", has only sold 450,000 copies of his Lady Killer album.
Yet, he's making big money.  Just not from music.  He and his management are getting paid through other avenues.  Commercials and TV mostly.
The fact is, that the Cee Lo album is excellent.  But the single was a novelty.  And even though other songs on the album were just as good, they didn't cross over to mainstream radio.  I do hear him on Urban AC quite a bit.

You see things have indeed changed.  Must be said, though, that even in the good old past a smash single didn't always translate to big album sales.  How many of you bought Nick Gilder's album in 1979?

None of this is news to me.  I've been reading about this stuff for years now.  And I say good for Cee Lo for finding ways to branch out. He's working his butt off trying to stay on top.   Like I said, his album is superb.  He didn't get the million+ sales he wanted.   So, why not reward yourself otherwise.

Xmas Music

Funny, every year I keep saying I don't need to add any more Christmas singles to my collection (or albums), and every year I do.  I always put together a Xmas playlist on my wife's Ipod.  That playlist continues to bloom, no thanks to all these Xmas channels that you can listen to on the Internet or through Dish Network or SiriusXM.
I can't help it.  I'm still finding stuff that I've never heard before.  At least I have another year to rest my Xmas ears.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Always have to chuckle at people who say they don't care about the Rock Hall, and yet feel free to spout their opinions about it.  This happened right after the Inductees were announced.  Facebook was screaming with comments, and a bunch were from people said that same thing.

On another note, while boomers weren't happy with the Beasties or Peppers, even Guns, I didn't sense the usual snark from the 80's generation.  It was a big class for that era, right?

One side note:  not one R&B based act inducted this year (I'm including War as an R&B act sense they charted many Soul hits).  No one can say the choices weren't good.   I wonder how many R&B based writers get a ballot.  I'm thinking not many.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

X Factor Ending

In the end, not much different than American Idol, although teenagers do better on the latter.  Talent wise?  For a show that's called the X Factor, I don't see much of one in any of the contestants.  Well, maybe the very young Rachel Crow, who got into the Top 4.  She seems to have something going for her.
Let's hope next year they make some changes, like getting rid of Nicole as a judge, and getting the public more interested in the groups, all of whom got voted out fairly quickly.

Now we wait, like we do on all these shows, to see if anyone sticks around for more than just their one year of fame.

Pazz & Jop

Should let everyone know that I've already voted in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll.    The results will be published in the Jan. 18 edition.

I will post a link to my Album/Singles Top 10's.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Playlist for 12/21

Rhett Miller - Interpreter
John Mellencamp - On The Rural Route
Black Keys - El Camino
Adele - Roots - Undun
Amy Winehouse - Lioness
Bryan Adams - Cuts Like A Knife

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eddie Trunk Rock Hall Interview

That Eddie Trunk interview with Joel Peresman, President of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, had some interesting moments.  You can listen to it on You Tube  (easily searchable).
But when VH1 bigwig Rick Krim, who's a NomCom member called and said he had never heard of Wanda Jackson when her name was brought up a their annual meeting, I had to laugh.  Or cry.

A NomCom member should know about all genres of Music going back decades and including today's music.  There's just know other way to say it.  If Toure doesn't know Prog or Little Steven doesn't know R&B, then what good are they when a certain name from those come up?

Frankly, I'm puzzled by all this.  I think you can find 30 people throughout the World who are well-versed in all genres, decades, etc.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Soul Music Poll

British Soul Magazine In The Basement asked its readers to answer some Poll questions, which I did, and then found out to be incredibly tough, especially when only 3 answers were allowed.  Must say this is a great magazine, and must also say that the next issue is the last.  There are no more Soul magazine out there.  Sad.

Here were my answers, which I could have changed around on any other day.  But this is a snapshot.

Female:  Aretha, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross
Male:  Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson
Group:  Temptations, Spinners, Earth Wind & Fire
Instrumentalists:  Booker T & MG's, King Curtis, Little Walter
Song: My Girl-Temps, Higher & Higher - J. Wilson,  I Want You Back - J5
Album - What's Going On - M. Gaye, Songs In The Key - S. Wonder, Thriller - M. Jackson
Songwriters - Smokey Robinson, Holland/Dozier/Holland,  Gamble & Huff
Producer - Gamble & Huff, Thom Bell, Holland/Dozier/Holland
Label - MotownPhilly International, Atlantic
Reissue Label - Rhino, Ace, Time Life

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Year End Musings

Make no mistake, when I drop my Top 20 albums/singles of the year, the #1 single will surprise no one.  But the #1 album?  Had it in the bottom 10 until last month.  Moved up quite a bit after listening to it and other contenders again.  But it might surprise a few as well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Donna Summer Rock Hall Article

A superb article on why Donna Summer belongs in the Rock Hall.  I've said too much already on why she and Chic  belong.  The above says it even better.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Playlist for 12/13

Michael Jackson - Immortal
Hunter Hayes
Mountain - Climbing
Dave Brubeck - Jazz Goes to College
Humble Pie - Smokin'

Monday, December 12, 2011

Phill Marder Update

I have to apologize to Phill Marder.  In an older post, I said he had written a piece on Joy Division for Rock Hall induction.  Looks like I was wrong.  I went back through all his Goldmine magazine pieces and couldn't find that piece.  Wonder what group I got them mixed up with?

Anyway, Phill and I had an email conversation about some things, and we found out that, we agree on most things.  Not sure how all of it started.  Probably had something to do with Chaka Khan.  But Phill and I shook hands over the Internet.

I'm not that happy with a lot of what I wrote about him in that piece.  Too harsh, as I read it again.  So, I decided to delete the whole thing.

You see what this damn Rock Hall does to us.  Makes us crazy.  Crazy I say!!

Women and the Hall

Evelyn McDonnell has written a very strong piece on the Rock Hall's Women Problem.  Is it a problem.  Read her post.

I especially love this line about Madonna:  
"a dance-driven artist oft ridiculed by rockist pigs"     So true!   Madonna haters can't believe she's in the Hall.  Most of these are "Rock" fans who can't stand the idea of Pop acts like her and Abba getting a nod over some of their "Rock" idols.   Too bad.  Both are icons and both were great.  There's a lot of room under that roof for many genres.  

Anyway, back to the Hall and Women.  5 were nominated this year.  Good for the NomCom for getting that many on the ballot.  A coup!  But, alas, only one, Laura Nyro, got in.

The other 4:  Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, Heart and Joan Jett all would have been better than the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

McDonnell brings up some interesting snubs in Joan Baez (at first I said no, but now think she belongs) and Patti LaBelle.  But if Chaka can't get in, what are her chances?  But she's a good snub, as well.

Still, this is a good piece.  Snarky and hitting all the right points.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Freddie King

The ballots are in and counted and soon the Rock Hall will announce their 5 inductees and (probably) sidemen, etc.
My 5 names that I predicted:  Donovan, Small Faces/Faces, Chili Peppers, Guns 'n Roses and Heart.
But now I think I'll be wrong.  I started to feel a Freddie King momentum shift pick up after the nominees were announced.  While some might think he's a marginal Bluesman to induct ( I prefer Albert King) the fact is that if fellow Hall members actually send in their ballot, King could get in first time nominated.  King is the type of  name that usually sneaks in right away.  I mean if Clapton, Buddy Guy,  B.B., Jeff Beck, Robbie Robertson and bunch of other Hall members punch in his name, he'll only need a few more non-artist votes to get in.

I had him as my wild card choice.  But just ahead of the announcements, I think I'd chance the Peppers for him.  And, yes, I know I didn't slot my beloved Spinners this year.
More on all of this after the inductees are announced.

Friday, December 09, 2011

X Factor

Yea, I'm watching, but don't find it any better than a normal season of American Idol.  The big difference between the two is supposed to be the age of the singers.  X Factor goes high, but the reality is that in the U.S. the voters always tilt young.  In England, a Susan Boyle can win, but in America we didn't get a sympathetic older voice like hers to vote on.
Still, the ones texting their votes the most are the same ones that watch American Idol.
But the big problem here, as on Idol are the judges.  Hard to believe that LA Reid could hate an Old School/Bill Withers type Soul singer like LeRoy Bell, but he did.  I wonder if Reid knew Bell's backstory.  He and his 70's songwriting partner Casey James co-wrote the Elton John hit "Mama Can't Buy You Love" and "Are You  Ready For Love". The duo had a disco hit in 1979 with "Livin' It Up".  And his Uncle is the genius Soul Producer/Songwriter Thom Bell.  Yet, Reid hated Bell.  Because Reid likes the youngsters and felt Bell was too old and boring.  A stunning failure on Reid's part to recognize a lost talent.
Simon is Simon, and the other two stink as usual.
There's talent on this show, for sure.  But will any make it past their initial first albums?  Take a look at all the Idol winners and runner-ups who have been getting dumped after 1 album.  It's a tough business regardless of how many tune in every week and vote for you.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Swap Hall Meet

Which of this year's nominees would I swap with the new inductees?

Spinners, Chaka Khan and Donna Summer for Laura Nyro, Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys.

I like the Beasties, but they can wait another year or two.

Early Influence?  Clovers for Freddie King.  Why that great early 50's R&B group has been passed over is a deep Hall mystery.  Even Dave Marsh thought they were inducted.

Non-Performer?  Don Kirshner doesn't do much for me.  Don Cornelius would be better.  Soul Train was a pretty damn influential TV show.

Musical Excellence?  This is tough.  Nothing against Tom Dowd, but the category seems to be all over the map after only 2 years.  Last year Leon Russell this year a Producer/Engineer.
I don't know, how about a Quincy Jones.  Producer, arranger, composer, songwriter.  A better choice.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

My 2011 Nashville Scene Ballot

Here's my 2011 Nashville Scene Ballot.  No reissues this year.  Couldn't find 5 that were worthy.

1.  Hayes Carll -Kmag Yoyo
2.  Dave Alvin - Eleven Eleven
3.  Pistol Annies - Hell on Heels
4.  Merle Haggard - Working In Tennessee
5.  Drive By Truckers - Go Go Boots
6.  Miranda Lambert - Four The Record
7.  North Mississippi All Stars - Keys to the Kingdom
8.  Dale Watson - Sun Sessions
9.  Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire
10. Brad Paisley - This Is Country Music

1.  Blake Shelton - Honey Bee
2.  Hayes Carll - Kmag Yoyo
3.  Miranda Lambert - Baggage Claim
4.  Pistol Annies - Hell on Heels
5.  Keith Urban - Without You
6.  Zac Brown Band - Colder Weather
7.  Thompson Square - Are You Gonna Kiss Me
8.  Brad Paisley/Carrie Underwood - Remind Me
9.  Hunter Hayes - Storm Warning
10. Alison Krauss - Paper Airplane

2012 Rock Hall Reactions

Jann is jumping for joy.  Guns! Peppers!  Beasties!   Donovan, Ron Wood and Rod Stewart for the boomers!  Nyro for the women!  Star-studded evening!!!!!

Let's be honest here.  Jann has wanted popular 80's/90's bands inducted on the same night for years.  That's why he and his Hall staff tried to change the 25 year rule to 20.  He's got big ones in one night.  Now, he can sell the rights to a cable channel with big-name inductees in his pocket.

The good news is we got the Chili Peppers out of the way.  The bad news is they got inducted. Okay, everyone thinks I hate them.  I don't.  I own some of their records.  But talk about getting inducted too soon.  I don't care if they started in the mid-80's.  There are better, more influential bands out there.   Oh well, win some......

The Beasties aren't a surprise.  I know some critics who think they weren't much.  But that's because they still view them as the Licensed to Ill trio.  Their catalog is quite diverse.

As I posted when the Nominations were announced, they really, really wanted Laura Nyro in there. 3 years in a row on the ballot.

And as for Donovan, I also said that I believed he came close last year.  His stock among critic's and most likely fellow Hall voters has also gone up over the year's.

The Rod-era Faces were a great, influential band.  Period.  The Small Faces?  A nice British band.

NO, I'm not mad that my beloved Spinners did not make it first time nominated.  Remember, the O'Jays didn't get in first time either (2nd time).  Judging by some Hall voters, I think they got quite a few votes.  BUT, yes I am worried that they may be a one year wonder on the nominee ballot.  I've got to keep up the pressure on Dave Marsh to get them on next year.

Hell, not much to get excited about on the Soul front this year:  War, Chaka, Spinners, Donna.  Nada.

There are always surprises.  I thought Heart would get in right away. This is the big  surprise for me.   Seems like Joan Jett was picking up some votes, might have split a bunch with Heart.

No surprise:  the ANTI-DISCO voters once again kept out Donna Summer.  Don't blame the NomCom for no Disco acts inducted.  They do keep nominating Summer and in the past, Chic.  But as long as the current body of electorate is voting, it's going to be a battle.   But I'm Captain Optimistic.  I think they will both get in one day.

I have a feeling if the Small Faces/Faces do return it won't be together.  Wonder if they'll be a one time nominee.  My guess is that most voters didn't know anything about the Small Faces.

Sneaky bastards.  Nominating Freddie King and then putting him in the Early Influence category.  Did he not get enough votes?  I've always been on the fence with him, but thought he'd get voted in, not snuck in.  Oh well.  Where will the Hall go next in the Blues category?  Stevie Ray, Johnny Winter or maybe Albert King?

Don Kirshner is a good pick for non-perfomer.  But let's not forget that Don Cornelius is just as worthy. Nope, make that MORE worthy.

As for Tom Dowd, his daughter has lobbied  him for years.  No problem with it.  But let's not forget Quincy Jones as well (who seems to have been black-listed from the Hall, at least Q thinks so).
2 other non-performers:  Cosimo Matassa was a legendary New Orleans Recording Engineer/Studio owner and Glyn Johns also an Engineer and Producer.  No problem with them, either.

Why not look ahead to next year's class.  Among the first time nominees eligible:  Public Enemy are the only ones who I predict will get nominated right away.  NWA are also eligible.  They could sneak in as well.  I've got a year to change that prediction.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Howard Tate & Hubert Sumlin

You think you know they're names from somewhere.  That's how it is with under-the-radar acts that seem to be forgotten. But they weren't forgotten.

Hubert Sumlin was the guitar complement to Howlin' Wolf's growl.  Tons of guitarists cited his influence.  But although Sumlin was loved, he never got accolades.  Amazingly, not even a nod to the Rock Hall as a Sideman.  I bet they correct this, but it will be after the fact.

Howard Tate's name is legendary amongst us Deep Soul fans.  His albums in the late 60's/early 70's though got little sales, but loads of critical acclaim.  He quite the biz, but came back to it.  His most famous song was covered by Janis Joplin, "Get It While You Can".  But to Soul fantatics like me, his death stirred up memories of a time when real Soul was everywhere.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Playlist for 12/4

Willie Nelson - Remember Me
Rosie Flores  - s/t
Allen Stone - s/t
Tin Huey - Contents Dislodged
Noel Gallagher - High Flying Birds
Human Switchboard -  Anthology
Etta James - Dreamer
Charlie Rich - Once a Drifter

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Rock Hall Aritcle in NY Times

This is a very good read.  Some interesting tidbits.  We long time followers of the Hall kind of know this stuff already, but it's good to see it appear in a big Daily like the New York Times.
The bottom line is that ego does play a part in how the process works.  We already knew that.

 The anti-disco stuff is eye-opening.  The manager of the Bee Gees had to call Ahmet Ertegun and Seymour Stein to get the Bee Gees nominated!  But that was then, and to be fair, most of those NomCom members are no longer on the board.

I want to go on record with this:  there is no longer an anti-disco bias amongst the NomCom members.  BUT there is one amongst the voters who've done a great job of passing over both the groundbreaking Chic and influential hit-making Donna Summer.

Also, the quote on Rock bands by the manager of KISS is good, but then again both them and Bon Jovi were nominated and passed over.  This seems more of a problem with the electorate than the NomCom.

I'm no NomCom apologist, and as I always say, every Hall whether a Sports one or Music one has problems and no one is ever satisfied with who gets in and doesn't.  At the end of this article someone suggested that the  Hall needs to broaden its NomCom membership.  Duh, I've been saying that for years.  Get rid of some of these old, stodgy voices and bring in fresh ones.  And a term limit of being on the NomCom.  Yes, yes, yes.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Year End Lists

That time again for year end lists.  Will do Albums/Singles/Reissues.  Probably a Country one too if the Nashville Scene asks for a ballot.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

MTV Book

I Want My MTV  by Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks  is a book I recommend, but not so much for those who were there went it first launched.  By now most of us who watched from the start know the history of the channel. If your a newbie than this is a good history lesson.
But you see, I was watching almost from the beginning.  Luckily I didn't have to wait for my MTV.  My cable system didn't get it immediately, but did get it a year later, when MTV started to find its footing, and more videos were being made.
The book rightly ends in 1992 when Real World comes along, is a hit, and MTV begins to snub its nose at the product that made its name.
Now, those of us from the early days of MTV only tune in when they have their video or music awards show.  Otherwise, we are flipping by the channel seeing if anything musical is on.   And then we move on.
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