Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chocolate Soup for Diabetics

A friend gave me a CD-R of British Psych from the late 60's.  Mostly Summer of Love era.  It's a compilation cut down from a 5 CD series called Chocolate Soup for Diabetics.  You can buy all 5 for $65 bucks from Amazon.  Not bad for Import prices.

But this CD seemed more than enough.  It's good, it's out-there if you know what I mean.  But this isn't really a post about this type of music.

My larger point is that there is so much music that seems to have passed us by.  Not just what is being released today but in the past.  People always say that no one can keep up with all the stuff put out now, compared to the "old days".  But skimming through a Shindig magazine, makes me think that there was just as much left behind then as is now.

That's why I always tell people that the greatest record I've ever heard is still out there to be discovered.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Music and Politics Again

Politics and music reared their ugly head again recently. Lynyrd Skynyrd, or what's left of it, said that they were no longer going to fly the Confederate flag in their concerts.  After getting bombed by their Southern fans, Gary Rossington (who's the last remaining member) folded and said they still would.

When I saw the initial statement, I knew it wouldn't last.  This version of Skynyrd, which actually kind of stinks, is being kept alive by its core fan base from the 70's and whoever hears their stuff on Classic Rock radio today.

Let me say that the original Skynyrd were a great band, and they still sound good on XM's Deep Cuts whenever I hear a long last track.
But this version, led by Ronnie's brother Johnny on lead vocals has none of the originality of Ronnie's songs.

So, yes I still love the old Skynyrd and have heard very little of the post-Ronnie Skynyrd that is worth exploring.

Read the article below:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Playlist for 9/28

Emitt Rhodes - 69-73 Recordings
Phil Alvin - Unsung Stories
Thin Lizzy - s/t & Bad Reputation
Yeasayer -Fragrant World
Stars -North
Animal Collective -Centipede Hz
Billy Squier - Don't Say No
Stevie Wonder - Music of My Mind
Iron Maiden -Number of the Beast
Judas Priest -Screaming for Vengeance

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who's Bad?

Is Bad better than Thriller and Off The Wall?

Well, no, it isn't, but that's what the article is about.
The newly reissued 25th anniversary of Bad does have people talking, though.  And it's a slight case of revisionist history, for sure, but Bad is a pretty great album.

The knock on it at the time is that it was too slight, the production was too sterile and Jackson didn't hit the peaks he did with Thriller.

But hearing it now, Quincy Jones' production is still top-notch, and let's face it, Jackson missed it on his future songs.

The songs singled out as slight, like, "Liberian Girl", "Speed Demon" and the Stevie Wonder duet, "Just Good Friends", sound better now with time.

There are demos on the re-release that didn't make the album and while good they are demos nevertheless.  But "I'm So Blue" is excellent.

Stream it yourself if you've never heard it or haven't since 1987.  You might be surprised.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Joni Mitchell Poll

Another poll:  this time on Joni Mitchell.   20 songs, and able to include songs she sang background on.  Which is how I snuck in that James Taylor song.
Also Top 5 albums at bottom of page.

1.  Help Me
2.  River
3.  Free Man In Paris
4.  Case Of You
5.  Big Yellow Taxi
6.  Both Sides Now  (1969 version)
7.  Chelsea Morning
8.  California
9.  You Turn Me On I'm A Radio
10. Woodstock
11. Circle Game
12. Carey
13. Raised On Robbery
14. For The Roses
15. Blue
16. Both Sides Now  (2000 version)
17. Come In From The Cold
18. Last Time I Saw Richard
19. Coyote
20. You've Got A Friend  (background vocals)

Top 5 Albums
1.  Court and Spark
2.  Blue
3.  Ladies of the Canyon
4.  For The Roses
5.  Clouds

Friday, September 21, 2012

Playlist for 9/21

Cat Power - Sun
Bob Dylan - Tempest
Avett Brothers -Carpenter
Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
Jackson 5 - Rare Pearls
Flatlanders - Odessa Tapes
Robert Cray -Nothin' But Love

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Year End Lists

Every year I worry that I won't find enough great albums to fill out a year-end list.  This paranoia usually starts right around March.  Although labels do release albums in January/Feb., it isn't until March that the new year really kicks off.

But those fears are always gone by the end of Summer, and now as I look over 3/4's of the year, I could fill out an album/singles list really easy.

The single of the year seems pretty set, but the album race is wide open  By this time last year I knew no album would top Adele's 21, and she was an easy #1.  But this year could be tougher.

I've streamed more albums this year as well, which has helped me weed out overrated critical favorites, and instead find smaller gems.

All of this will play out the last week of December when I knock out another year-end list.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Judging Judges

Don't pre-judge, don't pre-judge."  The voices in my head keep saying.  American Idol will go into 2013 with Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson.  Jackson is a joke of a judge, and why they are bringing him back is pretty depressing.

And who knows, maybe the other 3 judges will add something.
But these shows  (The Voice, American Idol, X Factor) aren't about finding talent anymore, they are about topping themselves with Celebrity judges.

Here was the judging panel for American Idol:  Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.  The 2 men no one ever heard of and a former Pop star that had faded into obscurity.

Fox got 'em for cheap, but it paid off.  They made some stars out of the batch:  Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson, Daughtry (kind of).  But even back then the track record of making recording stars out of their yearly Top 10 was pathetic.

But then Simon Cowell got bored, and Paula's loopy act got old and Randy was still a nobody.
So they brought in Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.  And they were a bomb in year 2, so much so that an off-camera mentor, Jimmy Iovine, proved to be the only judge anyone cared about.

But since AI signed Tyler and Lopez all these shows seem to be focused less on the singer's and more on close-up's on the judges strutting to their seats.

 The Voice has yet to produce, through 2 seasons, anyone who can sell records or even get noticed.  Adam Levine knows this, but there's not much he can do.
Recording stars are hard to make in this age of fractured radio formats and .99 downloads.

The ratings are down for The Voice and the X Factor (who signed Demi Lovato and Britney Spears to try and bring in a younger audience).  And I want to see if American Idol continues to drop as well.
Oh, and another year of Ryan Seacrest.  Yippee!

Postscript:  Aguilera and Cee-Lo are taking a cycle off from the Voice, being replaced by Shakira (who needs a career boost) and Usher.  Shelton and Levine need to take off as well in the next cycle.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Country Hall Backlog

You think the Rock Hall is backed up?  The Country Hall wants to have a word with you.
Peter Cooper is a Country music critic/musician and this column:

pretty much says it all.
He mentions many great names that aren't inducted.  I would add 4 to that list:  Randy Travis, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash and John Anderson.

As an argument against what Cooper advocates.  Chet Flippo, a Hall voter wrote this a week after Cooper's column appears:

He doesn't want the Hall to turn into the Rock Hall, which in his opinion inducts too many people.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Playlist for 9/14

Bloc Party - 4
Neu/Neu 75
Jean Michael Jarre - Oxygene
Kinks - Low Budget
J. Geils Band - s/t & Monkey Island

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Voice

Two years into The Voice and the show has yet to produce a single star. Maybe some of the contestants have gotten more gigs at better pay, but as far as breaking through on a household name basis, the answer is no.
You see. so far, the show is about the 4 judges.  And the gimmick of turning their chairs around.  Once that is done, it's just another singing show.  I've heard some good voices, but never thought anybody, especially the winners can sell records.  And isn't that the dream on all these shows?  Make that album and sell that product.

I'll watch as much as I can again this year, but I think the rose will begin to fade for the show.  Much like the U.S. X Factor, which also produced no hit records, the public watches but doesn't want to buy.

Once the seasons are over, the winners drop their albums and hope they sell enough to make another.  Even the American Idol winners are now getting dumped after one release.

As for that show, I'll have more to say on it when they announce all 4 judges.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Americana Music Awards

What have we been missing all these years?  I know the Americana Music Awards have been given out for many years, but thanks to AXS TV we finally got to see what all the fuss is about.

This was a great Awards show.  Well, I'm not really talking about the awards themselves.  You know how I feel about awards shows and who wins them.

I'm talking about the talent.  Watch this and you'll wonder why you waste your time watching all those Country awards shows  (even if I still will).

But, I mean come on, here you get Bonnie Raitt, Richard Thompson, Mavericks, Jason Isbell, Hayes Carll, Emmylou Harris, Alabama Shakes, Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Did I mention Tom T. Hall?

Catch it if you can.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Politics and Music

Anyone who is a Facebook friend of mine knows where my Politics are.  And while I rarely post on Facebook, Twitter or here about politics, I do "like" a bunch of stuff on Facebook, and sometimes I just can't help but drop a line or two about the state of the world.

I know that just mentioning politics can cause harm amongst family and friends, which is why I try to hold back when doing so, both here, on Twitter and Facebook.

This is another contentious election season, and my vote is already secure for a certain candidate.  I hope no one gets upset if they see anything too political before Election day.

Let me just say that I like plenty of artists that aren't on my side politically, and no I'm not talking about only Country acts.   These Presidential election years are the only time I get frustrated when someone I like isn't on my side, but once its over, everyone seems to move on.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Who Poll

Latest Poll I voted in was on the Who.  This time only 20 songs, and only Who songs.  Too bad I had to stop at 20, had 5 more that I could have voted for.  But this is about right:

1.  Won't Get Fooled Again
2.  I Can See For Miles
3.  My Generation
4.  Behind Blue Eyes
5.  Baba O'Riley
6.  Pinball Wizard
7.  Magic Bus
8.  Happy Jack
9.  I Can't Explain
10. Anyway, Anyhow Anywhere
11. I'm Free
12. See Me, Feel Me
13. Pictures of Lily
14. Squeeze Box
15. Who Are You
16. Boris The Spider
17. Kids Are Alright
18. Join Together
19. Eminence Front
20. You Better You Bet

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Roxy Music and the Rock Hall

The above link is for a documentary that came out in 2010 about Roxy Music.  It's from BBC and is an hour long.  And it's very good.  And why have I not seen it until today?  Have to give Bob Lefsetz credit for putting the link on his Twitter feed.

Every Rock Hall NomCom member should be given a copy of it and then tell us why Roxy Music has never been nominated.
But there is a small clue halfway through the film.  When someone says that one of the reasons Roxy was never as popular in America as they were in Europe is that they didn't get Airplay on U.S. radio.  Could it be  that the same fate that keeps Roxy out of the Hall, is the same one that may also doom the Smiths?

But influence should rule.  As should fab music.  Watch this doc and see Roxy's influence on New Wave, Punks and even Disco artists.

Saturday, September 08, 2012


There's a reason this year's MTV VMA's tanked (getting half the audience it did in 2011):  Performers.
The 2011 show had Beyonce, Adele, Lady GaGa.  And Amy Winehouse had just passed away, so there was a tribute to her.

The 2012 version had the overexposed Rihanna, Pink, Alicia Keys, Taylor Swift, One Direction, Green Day among its headliners.  None of those will make you want to tune in.
In fact the best performance of the night was by Frank Ocean. who gets half the airplay of the above combined.

These MTV music awards have nothing to do with Music Television anymore, anyway.  MTV only shows videos early in the morning.  MTV is just using it's 30 year brand name to get  it's biggest audience tune in.  The ratings for 2012 were still above 6 million, but half of the 2011 take.

But the main problem is that Pop music, which MTV celebrates, just wasn't that exciting in 2012.  And the audience numbers show it.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Playlist for 9/7

Rumer - Boys Don't Cry
Boswell Sisters - That's How Rhythm Was Born
Just Tell Me That You Want - Fleetwood Mac Tribute
Ry Cooder - Election Special
Darkness - Hot Cakes

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Joe South

Joe South, who died today, may seem like a minor figure in Pop music history.  Everyone knows the songs he wrote that were hits for others:
"Rose Garden", "Hush", "Down In The Boondocks".   And then there were his only Top 40 hits:  "Games People Play" and "Walk A Mile In My Shoes".  Not to mention the #41 "Don't It Make You Want To Go Home".

And you might be surprised to find out he played on Blonde on Blonde.

But his brief run of songwriting prowess came to an end in 1971 when his brother committed suicide.

These are the Pop names that have always fascinated me.  People we know, but have forgotten about.  It's when they die that we see there career laid out in front of us.  

Streaming Update

Been going back and forth with 2 streaming sites.  Spotify (which is Free with commercials, and Rhapsody (which I pay).  Both have pretty much the same content, just a few exceptions.

But if you haven't subscribed to any streaming site, and you listen to a lot of music like me, than I have to recommend you step into the 21st Century.

These sites have helped me skip a bunch of albums I might have wasted money on, and they've also helped me decide to purchase stuff I was on the fence about.

Now I'm still a physical copy person when it comes to music I buy.  The exception is one-off singles which I buy from Itunes.

And while we keep hearing about the death of CD's and the continuing dominance of digital, I'll go down fighting for the physical over the cloud.

I must say though, that if you are looking for certain albums that are out of print on CD, they are probably on Itunes.  I've had to break down and buy some digital downloads of albums that I don't believe will ever be out on CD.  But I still like the original artwork of a good old fashioned record co. cd.
Like I said, I'm going to hold out as long as the format allows it.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

2013 Rock Hall Ballot Predictions

You've got to be careful when making Rock Hall predictions.  Between who you want nominated and who you think will get nominated.   That's where it gets tough.
But here's what we know.  Longtime NomCom watchers firmly believe that NomCom members are told to keep quiet about what goes on in the annual meeting.   The head honcho who runs the NomCom's meeting, Jon Landau (or Rock Hall Prez Joel Peresman) can tell me I'm full of it, but I wouldn't believe them.   The Hall has never released the names of the people on the NomCom, but the ones we do know about usually don't say much when the annual  list is revealed.

So, without any inside info to go on, we don't know what artists were close to being nominated in 2011, and even worse, which names continue to get laughed out of the room.  To those of us that don't believe the Hall completely goes by the final vote tally in picking their inductees, we also don't know who did what % wise on the final vote totals.  That's why predicting who will end up on the final ballot is very tough.

What we do know is the ballot will at least be diverse.  Crossing many genres, and not having too many names from one area dominating the ballot.

With that in mind, I offer 15 names below.  Some familiar ones from past ballots crop up again.  The NomCom is always good for a head-scratcher or two on each ballot (Conway Twitty, Sir Douglas Quintet).

Next to each name is an alternate choice, just to cover my butt in case I'm completely wrong about the whole list.  The only 2 names that seem to be shoo-ins for nomination are Public Enemy and Donna Summer, so I've listed no alternate choice for them.

As for the rest, here goes:

Donna Summer
Public Enemy
Cure   (Smiths)
Stevie Ray Vaughan  (Paul Butterfield Blues Band)
Spinners  (Chaka Khan)
Roxy Music  (Kraftwerk)
Monkees  (Turtles)
Gram Parsons  (Randy Newman)
Deep Purple  (KISS)
War  (Whitney Houston)
ELO  (Chicago)
Joan Jett  (J. Geils Band)
Heart  (Linda Ronstadt)
Joe Cocker  (Neville Brothers)
Joan Baez    (Willie Nelson)

Of these 15 nominees, 7 have never been nominated before and only 1 is first time eligible.  And among my 13 alternates, that number is 8 who have never been nominated.

Okay, I have a feeling that there's no way the Hall won't nominate either Deep Purple, KISS or Rush this year.  Out of spite, they may only put 1 of those on there, but the backlash will be huge if none get on. I went with 1 myself, but I was tempted to add Yes as a surprise nominee.  The chorus of Hall hate will only grow if Rush doesn't get on the ballot this year.  But does the NomCom care?   This will be another test of fans' expectations vs. the NomCom's stubbornness.

I know many think the Spinners will return for another ballot.  But I'm not going to be shocked if they don't get there.  Cliff Burnstein got them on the ballot last year.  If he attends this year will he do the same?

The Hip Hop NomCom members will push hard for N.W.A. to get on the ballot with Public Enemy, but I won't be surprised if only PE get a nod.  The NomCom might decide that to make sure PE get inducted, they'll be the only Rap act nominated.

Hard to know what 60's Pop act will get nominated next.  Could it be the Zombies, Tommy James, Neil Sedaka, Lesley Gore,  Paul Revere & The Raiders?  Does anybody have Little Steven's Phone #?  Or maybe nobody from that era.  I'm going with the Monkees, but not feeling too confident about that choice.

All I can say about Joan Baez is that NomCom member Robert Hilburn pushes her nomination every year.    But Hilburn doesn't attend those NY meetings, just sends in his choices.  Do NomCom members who don't attend the N.Y. meeting get as much say as the ones who show up?
As a backup I went with Willie Nelson, who would also make a strong ballot nominee as well.
Country seems to be a forgotten field with the NomCom.  But I say that Campbell, Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson would do well with voters.

Joe Cocker and the Neville Brothers are 2 names that could get huge support when and if they are nominated.  Might take them a ballot or 2 to make it.  Both seem to have slipped through the cracks of the NomCom, much like Jimmy Cliff, Dr. John and Leon Russell did.  But we all know that they got inducted right away (2 were voted in, the other under a different category).

And speaking of  omissions (and the Hall has many), what about Roxy Music?  Never even been nominated.  But maybe the Hall will go and give Kraftwerk another nod.

Thinking they'll keep the Cure on the ballot for their token 80's Alternative pick.  But maybe they'll switch and go with the Smiths or Depeche Mode Or Joy Division/New Order.

Couldn't make up my mind about ELO.  It was either them Chicago, Steve Miller Band, Hall & Oates or the J. Geils Band.   But it seems the Hall favors the J.Geils Band among this group.

The 50's.  Still names to induct.  Chuck Willis forever nominated and never getting voted in.  The Hall might have to slip him in someday.  Same with the "5" Royales or the Dominoes.  Actually, all acts from the 50's, if they keep getting bypassed by voters,  the Hall will have to look into coming up with an alternative ballot for them, or just changing the rules again and putting them in as Early Influences.   I say a good old fashioned Veteran's Committee might have to be established to deal with these acts.
That's why I'm rolling the dice and saying no one gets nominated, but I'd go with Chuck Willis if one does get on.

Don't know how many more Blues names they can nominate before eventually getting to Stevie Ray. Maybe they'll give the category a rest this year.   But they could still nominate people like Albert King, Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Johnny Winter before him.  But for Vaughan fans who wonder when his time will come, I say soon, but then I've been saying that since he's been eligible.

War and Gram Parsons are 2 names the Hall wants inducted, but voters have soured on.  It's surprising with Parsons because he was a critic and artist fave.  Voters slighting War probably think they were just another crossover R&B act from the 70's with no influence.  How sad.

I thought Heart would go in right away last year.  We'll see if they return to the ballot this year.  It's possible their 80's power ballads have hurt them with voters.

Not only is the Hall hearing it from Metalheads, but also from those who believe that not enough Women are getting in.  They have a point.  There are a lot of excellent names that are waiting just to be nominated.   For that reason, I have Joan Jett making another appearance. but Linda Ronstadt would be a better choice.

Also went back and forth on the Monkees and Whitney Houston.  Jann Wenner would love to get both nominated & inducted.   TV Ratings!!!  Can death get you on the ballot quicker?  This year will be a good test.   Whitney, the Monkees and Donna Summer nominated on the same ballot?  The NomCom is rarely that generous.

And besides, won't Whitney take away votes from Donna Summer?

Warning!   The Hall's final ballot is always full of surprises, head-scratchers and seems to be made to inspire heated conversation.    Deep down, Peresman, Landau & their wacky gang of NomCom's love the attention.  They want various message boards to light up and for people to bitch, complain and be outraged.
And I'm sure we will.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Hal David

Too damn Pop.  Just too damn Pop.  That's the knock on Burt Bacharach/Hal David as inductees for the Rock Hall in the non-performer category.

But it overlooks the impact they had on the sound of Rock music and artists.  From the Beach Boys to Elvis Costello to all the artists who still cover the duo's songs today, those are the ones to ask when it comes to influence.

The same could be said as to why Dionne Warwick can't get in with her exquisite run of 60's hits.  Yet somehow Dusty Springfield is seen as the more hip alternative.

So, hats off to a tremendous lyricist, Hal David who lived a very long life.
As I said in my Twitter/Facebook post:

"Walk on By" + "House Is Not A Home" = pure genius.

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