Sunday, December 13, 2015

Karen Carpenter's lost gem

Growing up The Carpenters were one of my mother's favorite groups.  She loved Karen Carpenter's singing and the music of Richard Carpenter.  I remember listening to many of their albums on a weekend afternoon.  Karen Carpenter had a wonderful voice and she knew how to deliver what her brother wrote.  The Carpenters ruled the soft rock to easy listening area of the AM dial in the 70's.  I don't think there were many weddings that "We've Only Just Begun" wasn't played at during that time.  Were the Carpenters a really great duo?  Sure the songs that  Richard Carpenter wrote are classics.  Were some of them more than bordering on sapy?   Yes. I really think Karen didn't get her due as a vocalist or the fantastic drummer that she was due to the sapy factor.

In 1979 Karen worked on her solo release with producer Phil Ramone.  As I have read and heard  about from interviews is that Karen wanted to explore a more mature and modern sound.  As 1980 came around she brought the release to A&M records only to have Albert and Moss to urge her not to release it. As described by her producer Phil Romone, after a painful decision she shelved it and had to pay back the money it took to make it.  Three years later, Karen Carpenter left us due to her struggle with Anorexia.  Growing up with the Carpenters, her untimely death really hurt.  If anything good came out of the loss was that a disease that had been in the dark for too long came out into the light.

So I grew hearing of the lost album.  It was just the past few years that I found that the album was actually released.  I found a copy on ebay but didn't pull the trigger and buy it.  So while watching a recent special on the Carpenters I got curious about her lost release. Yes, Apple music has it and after a few times listening to the music  I believe Albert and Moss were wrong not to release it.

Now I am reviewing the music with the mindset of living in 2015, but I remember 1980.  Sex and sexuality was there but on the fringes of popular culture and certainly the nice girl from the Carpenters didn't sing about Making Love or her First Time.  Looking at the lyrics from the next century it seems so tame but Madonna and Prince hadn't taken over main stream music yet.  So I can understand their decision, but boy we missed out on some great music.

Karen Carpenter the album is filled with catchy, if a bit dated songs.  I think it could have really moved Karen's career along to new areas.  Making Love in the Afternoon is a track that Peter Certera wrote and sang background vocals on.  With no doubt I am sure that the track would have been a mega pop hit.  It's a catchy well sung track that I could listen to over and over again.  If I had You is another pop hit and finally her cover of Still Crazy after all These Years is a lost classic.  Truly her delivery of that song could have a blog written about it alone and is a testament to how great a vocalist she really was.  The only knock I have on the album is that the music style to some of the songs is a bit pop disco sounding. which is something that  was done a the time.  The music isn't enough of a knock on the album that I wouldn't recommend it.

So if you are looking for a wonderful artist who explored new areas to only be denied, give Karen Carpenter's solo album a listen.  And I have to say it is nice to live in a world that at least we are starting to respect female artists for the complete Woman that they are.

Til next time, listen to the best - your ears deserve it.  

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Kylie: Christmas in the Disco

It is December and in the spirit of the season I am going to review some of my favorite Christmas CDs.

Kylie Minogue is the greatest Disco Princess outside the USA.  In my mind she should be the greatest in the states too but for some reason she has never fully gone over around here.  Kylie has been on the music scene for decades.  In 1988 she broke on the US shores with a cover of the classic Locomotion.  After that she disappeared from the States for a while.  Now the rest of the world was enjoying the disco diva, but Kylie was another one of those artists that didn't just come across in the USA.  I got back to listening to her in 2001 with the Fever CD. The video of Can't Get You Out Of My Head was futuristic and hot.  Kylie not only is a great singer, but certainly not hard to look at. Fever was a great disco/dance CD and I enjoyed it.  But unfortunately like with her appearance in 88 she left the US pop carts.

With Kylie being in the charts world wide as long as she has been I was surprised that this year's release is her first Christmas CD.  Drama/Switchblade Kitten, an old and dear friend, suggested I review the release and I couldn't wait.

The new release is a mix of what you would expect in a Christmas CD and some surprises.  The CD starts out with the Christmas standards and they are okay but how many times have you heard Winter Wonderland and It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?  Now what I was looking for was found in the tracks like I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter, Every Day's Like Christmas and Christmas Wrapping.  These tracks are fun, poppy and danceable, Christmas Wrapping has a enjoyable contribution from Iggy Pop.  Kylie just smokes on Santa Baby and since she seems to be Madonna's successor in the Dance world it is appropriate she gives her own take to the classic that Madonna torched in the 80s.  The standout on the release is Kylie's cover of 2000 Miles.  Her voice molds the the feel of the song and shows that Kylie can really deliver an emotional ballad.

If you want to listen to a great artist that most of the world seems to enjoy more than Americans; I would give Kylie Christmas a listen.

Til next time listen, to the best - your ears deserve it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Vandenberg a looked over Guitar god

One of  favorite guitarist  is Adrian Vandenberg.  The first reaction from most people is "Who?"  My reply is normally the blond guitar player in the Whitesnake videos.  Most of the time that works.  The fact that he is known as the 2nd best guitar player in someone else's band is a shame because he is so much more.

The 80's were the time to be a lead guitarist.  They were the gods of the age.  There were many of the gods on  MTV and shredding the stages with their mighty axes.  Unfortunately with so many gods on the scene some really notable guitarists got lost.

Okay the fact that I knew of  Vandenberg before Whitesnake was thanks to Mark "Blender" Benson. Mark was just able to find some real gems and the band Vandenberg was an outstanding discovery. The band had three albums in the early 80's and unfortunately other than Mark they never found a large audience.  I only own the Greatest Hits CD but I have listened to every album from many road trips with Mark.

What I find great about Adrian Vandenberg's style of guitar play is that unlike many other guitar gods of that time, is that guitar playing fits with the song instead of please suffer through this until my guitar solo comes in.  On the track Different Worlds he switches from classical guitar to electric naturally and it fits within the frame of the song.  The rest of their greatest hits CD is an perfect example of  early 80's hard rock.

I saw Whitesnake on tour where Adrian Vandenberg and Steve Vai were both playing guitar.  This is where my admiration for Vandenberg's guitar playing was cemented.  I am not taking anything away from Steve Vai, He is a technical genius on the guitar, but compared to Vandenberg he seemed like a little boy trying to show off.  In Vai's defense this was the style of the age and maybe this is why Vandenberg got lost in the mix.  When Adrian came to play his solo it was more like a master working on his art.  There was a passion and soul built into his playing along with the technical brilliance.   All I can say is that my date at the time swooned when he played.

This was the highest point of Adrian Vandenberg's career.  He faded away with the guitar gods of the age.  If you are looking for the best of early 80's hard rock I would give them a listen.

Til next time: listen to the best - your ears deserve it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Redefining Roles In This Moment

My wife recently noticed that my blogs start with "In High School" quite often.  So I am doing this blog talking about a new band, yes from this century, but the obstacles they face have been around for awhile.

This blog will will have me talking about Octane Channel on Sirius/XM.  Hard Rock and Metal have for many years been a tough place for women.  In the art form Women have either been objects of Lust, Distain, or on very rare occasion adoration.  The great thing about this generation is the evolution on the sound.  Young woman have really started to come into their own as artists.  I have already talked about Halestorm a great Hard Rock band fronted by a female rocker. The newest band that has caught my attention is In This Moment.

I am not reviewing a CD but the band.  What I find really interesting about In This Moment is that they are carrying on the Shock Rock started by Alice Cooper.  Now I don't like all of their music. Some of it is just too edgy and rough, but I do respect what they are doing.  As I said earlier, women have not had an easy time in music in general but Hard Rock and Metal has been really tough to break into.  In This Moment has found their share of unfair criticism.  The lead singer Maria Brink is an attractive blond young woman, who sings about sex and edgy subjects.  The criticism is that a woman can not willfully want to discuss such subjects, there must be a man behind her forcing her to sing about such things so all us guys get aroused.  What utter Cave Man crap!  Maria Brink and the band are facing what Madonna did last century with  Pop and Dance  The band even released a song to answer their critics Sex Metal Barbie.  Now the song isn't my cup of tea but the message is right on.

Octane is where I found their music, some of I really enjoy, but finding their video channel on YouTube has taken it to a whole other level.  I am going sound really old here but I have missed out on the music videos on You Tube.  The discovery has made me thrilled and opened up a new way for me to enjoy music.  In This Moment's video channel is what made me appreciate the band even more.Their videos are testaments to Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson.

I have mentioned several times that I don't get all of In This Moment, so I want to mention several songs I really dig.  Big Bad Wolf is one of their newer releases and it is the jam! Adrenalize is another great song and finally The Gun Show is very tasty and fun.

If you want to hear where Shock and NuMetal is going in the future led by a great female lead singer, In This Moment is a great place to start.

Til the next time' only listen to the best: your ears deserve it.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Metallica's Black day for purist

I remember Metallica from high school. All of the burn outs wore the t shirts from the early tours. For those of you who don't remember or don't know what a burn out was, they were the kids really into Metal music and drugs. I never was fully in their group I really liked hard rock I didn't have the application for Metal at the time, and I didn't do drugs. So I spent high school around the music of Metallica. I even remember the disappointment and heartache when the original bassist Cliff Burton died way too early. I guess the closest to early Metallica I got into was the video for the song One. 

When Metallica first came on the market they, like most Metal bands, weren't on the radio and they definitely weren't on MTV. Metal finally got a toe hold in the mass media with The Head Bangers Ball. I remember that show, 120 Minutes for alternative music and finally the great Ed Lover show for Rap was a way MTV gave a small voice to videos that weren't pop. 

In 1991 I was in college and Metallica released the Black album. I finally heard the band on radio and saw videos on MTV. I enjoyed what I heard and saw, but Metal purists were none too happy. Before I get to my review of the album I want to look at the Metal fans reaction and what is truly Selling Out. 

The problem with the Black Album is that it crossed over. This means Industry smucks realized that could make big money off of Metal music, or at least a formula of it. I think that after many times listening to New Metallica, and the fact that the band has lasted ,it must have meant that the band wanted a change. The great bands that last change. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Rush, and heaven knows Queen all changed and tried different styles over their careers. I think the reason Metallica lasted is that they wanted to change. Unfortunately, there were many Metal bands that listened to the music industry smucks and changed for the money. Fans know when it is real and when it is a formula. Hey there are many Metal bands that didn't give into the Industry and they are still around. So is it truly Selling Out if you want to change your music and it becomes popular?  Let's be honest the Black Album could have bombed. 

On the album, The first change I noticed is that the songs are much shorter. It kind of reminds me of the change Rush did after their first few albums. It's like the band felt we know we can write epics ; can we get the point across in a shorter time. The other change is there is a heavier bass line. I sometimes wonder if this change plus the cross over of Rap lead to the Metal of the 21 century?  The songs are still very dark Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, The God That Failed are all on the unpleasant side of life. I love Sad But True the grove just diggs in and grabs you. Finally, yes there is sort of a ballad on the album, Nothing Else Matters. I know that was probably the biggest sticking point for Metal purists. I have to admit I sort of side with the purists on this one. Now Hair Metal had already fallen into this Industry trap of releasing the heavy track and then the ballad ; so too did a lot of Metal bands who would never willing write more less release a ballad. So Metal went the way of Hair bands, Fans know a formula and will also look for the Pure Art

So I like the Black album, and to be frank to anytime there is a change haters be out in full force. But if it a change cause the musicians want it they will last. Give it a listen. it is a great Album. 

Till next time, listen to the best your ears deserve it. s

Monday, October 12, 2015

Steely Dan Alive Alive at Last

In keeping with my resent pod cast, Bluegrass Blog Mixer on ITunes and my last blog I felt it was time to share my thoughts on Steely Dan. I have reviewed the solo works from Donald Fagen and Walter Becker but I haven't shared my thoughts on a Steely Dan album. Now I love them all and the best worst thing I ever bought was Citizen Dan.  It was a box set of all of the CDs, but with the band not putting out anything new I had bought all there was to get.  I was stuck until the guys reunited for a tour. 

I have yet to see the band live. I do greatly regret it. Something is always in the way. So for now their live album will have to and it does do quite nicely. Now Donald and Walter are known to be perfectionist in the studio and I had often wondered would that translate to a live performance?  Surprisingly enough it does. I was in Interlochen Michigan working at the Arts Academy when the CD came out and the sound engineer guys where quite impressed with sound on the CD. 

Now my first memories of the Dan are once again the AM radio in the Parents VW Bug or van. In college I bought a cassette that had Katy Lied and The Royal Scam on it and I got sucked into their world.  Now to the suburban white boy that I am the world of the Dan is the other side of the tracks, drug dealers and the underbelly of life. A musically mysterious realm that their songs bring me to.  The reason I am reviewing Alive in America is the other albums have been reviewed and analyzed to death and as I wrote about earlier the first new Dan in many years. 

The CD starts the mood with Babylon Sisters and it glides on their jazz, pop, rock blend from there. The tracks are mainly the big hits.  I have to admit I was surprised that the only solo work on the CD was a Walter track. I reviewed Book of Liars on an earlier blog about Walter solo but on this release was my listening to the song. It is a better song live than what he had on his solo CD.  Oddly enough the song is richer and musically layered live than in the studio.  The feel of the recording is almost like you're seeing the band on a late summer night laying on a blanket under the stars.  

I recommend Alive in America for anyone like me who haven't gotten a chance to see the Dan live. 

Till next time listen to the best your ears deserve it!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Kamakiriad Fagen Looks at Middle Age

I love Steely Dan,  I have already reviewed Walter Becker and it is time for Donald Fagen.  Odds are even people who don't love Steely Dan will recognize some of Donald Fagen's songs.  Commercially he achieved more success after the break up than his partner Walter did.

Donald's first three CD's were his takes and views on early, middle and twilight of a man's life.  The first CD The Nightfly had a few hits and most people know of it.  The second CD Kamakiriad never really hit the pop crossover like the first, but right now it is my favorite of the three and the one I will review.

I guess being middle aged it is closer to what I see and feel.  I won't say I am what you traditional think of as middle age,:mainly no kids.  But I observe and feel what I would describe as the middle of my shuffle on this mortal coil.  That's a lot of explanation on why these tracks speak more to me and the tracks off the other two CDs.

Keeping in that theme, the CD starts with the track Trans-Island Skyway.  It is a track about how men love cars and when we get that one "I made it car."  For the singer, the car is way over the top with the bells and whistles, not that I don't think having a vegetable garden in your car isn't great. I haven't quite gotten to that "I made it" car yet, but I know I will share in the pride of the singer of this track. Snowbound is another great track.  When I hear it, I always picture my time in Michigan and the fun, at least for the first couple of days, of the town being covered in snow.  The stand out track on the whole CD is On The Dunes.  Beaches are special places and the way Donald uses his words paint such a picture of the pain that he feels from the breakup I really feel I am there.  Finally Tomorrow's Girls, I was talking with the Mrs about this song.  She works on campus at UK and I see the Coeds at work.  At my age women in their 20's almost feel like women from another planet.  Like the city is being invaded by Tomorrow's Girls.  The song nails how time changes and how we look at the opposite sex.

I got a wonderful gift for Christmas last year.  A pair of wireless Bose Headphones.  Now Steely Dan and Donald Fagen have been accused of over production on their CDs but to all who say that listen to their works on headphones.  Their songs are made for to close your eyes and let the music and lyrics take you to the dunes and watch a man morn a lost love, or watch a suburban college professor walk across campus and marvel at the Coeds like they are from another world.  The music Donald and Walter make is meant to immerse yourself in the worlds they create.  If it is overproduced and slick or not I don't care, when I listen I am there.

Til next time- only listen to the best: your ears deserve it!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The comment that caused a career to Fly away

I have had a hard time starting this blog. The CD is incredible but the trio or one of them is difficult. What the singer said and the reaction or overreaction to the comments is not an area I want to go into with my blog. Unfortunately the  contervery seems to have an halo effect with the trio and caused an early demise to a stellar career. 

The trio are the Dixie Chicks and whatever your opinions on their lead singer Natalie Maines are that is fine with me.  What I want to review is in my opinion is one of the great modern country CDs. 

Fly came out in 1999 and dominated the country music charts and propelled the band into crossover success. I like most of America loved the trio. The group was fun and a great blend of modern feel with a healthy nod to their country past. 

The CD starts off with the track Ready to Run, which was also included in the soundtrack to the Julia Roberts movie Run Away Bride. The video that accompanied the song was very cute with the trio running away from their weddings on bikes. Sticking with the video theme Goodbye Earl is wonderfully tasty song about vengeance. The video with its release had some great stars in it, Jane Krakawoski and Lauren Holly as the best friends and Dennis Franz as Earl.  Finally Cowboy Take Me Away another successful crossover hit. 

The thing that makes this CD is great is in between these crossover country songs is some wonderful updating of country classic themes. Hello Mr Heartache is a country gem along with Cold Day in July share the wonderful traditional word play that are in country classics. Hole in My Head and Sin Wagon are fun jams. Finally you can hear feel the desperation and hopelessness in the tracks Heartbreak Town and Without You. 

Well if you don't know what happened to cause the trio's career go sideways find out for yourself I am not covering it here. Still with such a prefect blend of the old and new in a country music scene that seems to have abandoned their past it makes you wonder what if. 

Til next time listen to the best your ears deserve it.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Guy is Immortalized

Hey a review of an CD from this century in fact this decade.  I wrote in an earlier post of my love of Disturbed and how they re awoken my love of Hard Rock.  Well Disturbed took a five year hiatus and the members put out some good music.  Then last year on Disturbed's Facebook page The Guy was shown being revived.

The CD was released and shot to number one on the charts.  Fans loved it and the critics were back on the hunt again. Critics are what critics are, I take everything they say with a grain of salt and to take pieces of what they say to make a true picture. They don't like the CD and don't see any growth, the quote I loved was "this was a for Fans only release", of course they wrote the CD for the fans who else buys it?

On to the CD.  First of I disagree with the critics there are some new things on the release.  First off there is almost a ballad, well by Disturbed's standards a ballad.  You're Mine is a song the lead singer David Draiman wrote for his wife. it and the song The Light are almost upbeat and happy.  I am not sure I would have used those terms to describe any Disturbed tracks from earlier CDs.  Finally the cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Sound of Silence should put the haters of Draiman's voice to rest.  The man can sing and his delivery on this track proves it.  Sheryl listened to the track and didn't know it was Disturbed.

Now there are the standard Disturbed tracks. The title track is powerful and Immortalized can be used to fire up teams before taking the field.  The video release for The Vengeful One brings back Disturbed mascot The Guy and although a great video it isn't Land of Confusion.  I am kind of happy they didn't try to remake the Todd McFarland video that was lighting in a bottle and couldn't be repeated.  The new video is live action and animation, it features The Guy returning and taking on the evil of the media.  The funnest point is that the corporation has an intern named Hope and the monsters of executives eat her  Not exactly subtle but funny.

In some ways the critics are right if you like Disturbed you will like this CD.  In other ways they are wrong I can see some changes without losing your fan base.

Til next time listen to the best your ears deserve it.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Powerful Soft Rock Mr. Cross

Me and Sheryl were watching Anchorman 2 and Christoper Cross's Ride Like the Wind comes on. Wow that is a great song do I own that?  Reviewing ITunes I find out, no I don't.  That was quickly fixed.  I am surprised and not so surprised that the Album didn't make it onto ITunes, I probably had a copy of a copy on cassette.  It was nice to rediscover another musical piece of my teenage years.

Now in the early 80's Christopher Cross dominated the air ways and many a jam box.  I remember several youth group and choir groups bus tours that Mr. Cross was played on the jam box on the way home. It was a soft rock sound that parents and teenagers could listen to.  Growing up in Miami in the early 80's you couldn't get away from the song Sailing.  Everybody with a boat either had that or Jimmy Buffett playing on a loop.

The album, as I rediscovered is really one of the perfect examples of Soft Rock.  Not only did you have the classic Sailing, there was I Really Don't Know Anymore and Ride Like The Wind.  Those tracks featured on background vocals the Great Micheal McDonald another legend in the soft rock field.

As a funny side note Sirius XM has put out a temporary channel called Yacht Rock. Please check it out it plays all the artists I have listed and more.  I am back in my parents Volkswagen and listening to the AM radio, good times.

To say the album was a monster is an understatement.  When it hit the Grammy's the album and Mr. Cross won five awards.  And if this isn't a shocker it beat Pink Floyd's The Wall for album of the year.

Unfortunately for a lot of Soft Rock artist of the age MTV showed up.  Pop and Dance ruled the charts and airwaves fueled by the Music Video.  Not to say Christoper totally disappeared there were a few very notable hits, Think of Laura from General Hospital, that's for you Halcomb, and Arthur's Theme from Arthur but nothing like the monster his first Album was.

So if you want to take a great trip back and listen to classic give his first album at try.

Til next time keep listening to the best your ears deserve it.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Chickenfoot what I expected a few years later

The 80's where a great time for hard Rock.  One of the bands that ruled the age was Van Halen.  I remember a friend gave me their first album it was a master piece of ROCK. By the time I got into high school the album 1984 came out for Van Halen. I was less than thrilled, keyboards on the album and not just filler music keyboard solos.  What happened to the Monsters of Rock?  Then Dave went solo found his own guitar genius Steve Vai and put out some fun music.  Guitar driven over the top flamboyant style that we knew from Mr. Roth.  To the outside observer thank God he is gone David was keeping the band back.

For the next album Van Halen was going to add Sammy Hagar, Holy Sh#t I was stoked.  The Red Rocker, the guy who wrote I Can't Drive 55, Heavy Metal and 3 Lock Box, old Guitar driven Van Halen is back. Then 5150 came out.  I have grown to like the album now, but then I was meh.  It's a good rock album but not what I thought it should sound like.  Van Hagar, as they were known, put a few more albums most solid rock albums.  Then the public found out who the real snake in Van Halen was.

Eddie Van Halen is an innovator and a monster on the guitar, but as a person what came out about him is pretty terrible.  He threw Sammy under the bus, and then a few years latter he threw the most underrated Bass player Michael Anthony the same place.  Now lead singers and lead guitarist have always had tenuous relationships in most bands but Michael Anthony has never gotten into the mudslinging and drama that has seemed to follow Van Halen.

Sammy and Michael still played together and jammed in Cabo at Sammy's club.Ah to be 10-20 years younger and to hang out there.  They brought on Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a Guitarist that more than holds his own with Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani.  Chickenfoot was born.  I bought the album and what I thought I would hear 30 years ago was there.  Guitar driven songs and almost a hard rock jam band feel.  What I feel makes this band superior to Van Hagar is that all the musicians work together not in competition for the lime light.

If you want to hear a great rock band Chickenfoot is the way to go.
Til next time be good to your ears they deserve it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chess many moves for a musical

In 1984 watching MTV I caught a video that was very different.  One Night in Bangkok was a concept video from the concept album Chess.  The song is neat and different and for kid like me that was raised on musicals from my Mom it was genius.  After the song hit I didn't know any thing more about the album Chess for a few years.

1987 I was a senior in Miami Killian High School and I was singing in the coral ensemble.  The director Mr. Matthews was looking for works for us to preform and he brought Chess back into my world.  I learned much more about the musical from what we sang and I loved every minute of it.

1989 attending Miami Dade Community college and still singing.  I found the concept album for Chess in a second hand CD shop.  It was the original concept ie the British version and it was awesome.  I devoured the songs and for a 20 something idealist the themes running through them hit all the right buttons.

Now I can still put the CD on at anytime and lose myself in the story and music.  Different things speak to me now but it still stands the test of time.

The beauty of the album is first it is a great collaboration of song writers.  Take the music of ABBA which lends itself to story telling and then add the lyric great Tim Rice to weave the story through the words.  Second the story itself, as a child of the end of the Cold War I knew of the Chess matches between evil USSR and the noble USA.  Imagine a 20ish young man looking behind the scenes with the story told and finding the people involved might not be so black and white as the Chess board is.

The themes are mature and deep, nationalism, drive for career, abandonment of family and can love survive success.  The story is crafted equally well through the music and the lyrics. If you want to hear some very clever and words that sound right out of real life listen to Argument and Pity the Child.

As good as the Concept album was the show for many years didn't translate well to the actual stage. I saw the American tour and it just didn't quite work, the curtain had fallen by that time and the East Vs West didn't work.  There were a few more attempts until

2008  a very stripped down version sticking the the original Concept album with limited dialog other than the songs.  The performers included Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal and Josh Groban.  Finally it is the closest to what I pictured in my mind.

If you want to listen to history and very current situations preformed wonderfully give Chess a listen.

As always listen to the best your ear's deserve it.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Keys to a great sound

It's funny this blog post was going to start the same way the last one did.  I was watching VH1 saw a great video and called Spencer McGuire.  So due to the fact I have mentioned Spencer in many different post half of this blog will be about my brother from another mother and the Awesomeness of Alicia Keys.

I met Spencer at Eastern Kentucky University through some mutual friends and right off we bounded over music.  I know of at least one car trip we took with my wife that she fussed at us to talk about anything else but music.  I dig Spencer's broad taste in music.  He likes all types but  just the best quality of the area.  Of coarse we can take up hours discussing the Purple one but don't get him talking on Genesis he will be on them all night.  So normally if I see or hear something that is really great he is one of the first people I call.  So just like when I saw Erykah on VH1 he was the first person I called and when I saw Falling.  It is great to have a friend to share quality music with.

Now on to Alicia.  The video of Fallin' is a work of art.  Starting with just her at the piano, then the bus trip driving past the jail yard with the female prisoners joining her gospel style on the chorus my jaw was on the floor amazing video.  Of coarse I called Spencer then off to Best Buy.

The rest of the CD is an amazing blend of hip hop, piano, soul and pop.  Similar to Erykah but smoother style.  I think the fact that her main instrument is piano leads to more melody than beat.  It pushes this style of music more to the mass appeal without sacrificing quality.

The CD starts out with Alicia taking to her piano is Piano & I which shows her playing chops right off.  How Come you Don't Call me is an amazing Prince cover which is hard to do but boy she pulls it off.  Her voice was made for the song.  Rock With You is strait 70's funk and a great track.  A Woman's Worth is a powerful ballad and feminist anthem.  Finally the track that got me hooked Fallin'. The best blend of Pop, R&B and Gospel since Ray Charles.  I can't say more about the song it's wonderful.

Once again another great example of Neo Soul.  A great CD from a Artist that continued to put out solid music.

Til next time listen to the best your ears deserve it!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bauduizm the best of 90's Neo Soul

The late 90's and there is a new movement in R&B, Neo Soul.  Hip Hop beats with a lyrical melody and a soulful delivery.  One of the early leaders and a standout in the style was Erykah Badu and her first CD was Baduizm.

I remember seeing the video for the single On and On, on VH1 and it made me think wow Billie Holiday is singing with a Hip Hop beat.  I called my buddy Spencer he watched a agreed with me.   The video was very good and a great show case for Erykah.

The rest of the CD is very good and I can see the reasons why it was so critically and popularly received.  The tracks are lyrically dense but very easy to listen to.  The track Next Lifetime is a heartbreaking track about regretting on what can't be due to commitment to others.  Afro is a freestyle track that is too funny and is a nice up note in the middle of the CD.

I have to admit in R&B and Hip Hop I am very picky.  Generally I am not the biggest fan of the 90 popular era.  I think like many different types of music when it gets too popular many artist that aren't really that good show up.  Hard Rock, Rap, Disco and heaven knows the Boy and Girl groups have really sold out for the dollars and the record companies.  So if I am going to listen to the style of music it has to either be the best example of that style or the artist should be doing something to reinvent or move the style ahead.  Erykah Badu is certainly one the artist who fit into that category.

Neo Soul lasted for a while and Erykah Badu followed up this CD with a great live release and continued putting out great music.  For anyone who wants to hear what Soul sounds like with a Hip Hop beat you should start with Baduizm.

Remember listen to the best your ears deserve it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Damn Shaw and Blades rock

For most of the 80's I had to defend Tommy Shaw of Styx.  I have mentioned in earlier posst I love Styx and I have taken grief for it most of my life.  Another band I got grief on that has also been mentioned in earlier post is Night Ranger.

Well in 1990 Shaw and Blades came together in a true Hard Rock band, Damn Yankees.  And just in chase anyone doubted their Rock status they added the Nuge, yes the Motor City Madman made sure the edge was in every song.  I was in heaven.  I still remember hearing the first track, Coming of Age. Just straight hard guitar, ah I knew these guys could Rock and I finally had the proof.  I bought the CD the first day it came out.

I loved the whole CD and not a filler track on it.  In fact, the single High Enough gave Ted Nugent his first top ten single.  I will get to that ballad in a minute.  Like I earlier said there isn't a filler track on the whole album it is all guitar driven songs.  So to my friends and doubters I said listen Shaw and Blades can rock, it is just awful record companies that push the rock ballad bullshit.

Now to my rant about the 90's and Hard Rock and even some Metal bands.  There was a formula that the record companies, and I blame MTV too, came up with to push and make Rock more to the masses.  First track from the CD was a rocker and then the ballad.  Every major Hard Rock and many Metal bands fell into this trap which ruined rock for the decade and it took until the 2010 to really come back.  I can't fully blame the artist, you got to eat and the bands that did it made money.  Then they drank and whored it away but hey that's Rock and Roll. But the few bands that didn't fall into the trap are still around and most produce new stuff and don't have fair well tours.

Now back to Damn Yankees the other thing that stands out about the band is the name.  How they talked a good southern boy like Tommy Shaw into being in a band with Yankee in the title is beyond me. The other neat thing is that the artist are from all over America, Shaw the South, Blades the West Coast, Ted Nugent the Midwest.

Any one who wants to listen to a great Rock CD, it is a good listen.

Be good to your ears - they deserve it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hip Hop Doo-Bop

I have mentioned in previous posts my love and respect for Jazz.  I have also talked about the ways Jazz has been blended with Hip Hop.  Miles Davis is a Jazz legend.  Miles Davis has never strayed away from looking at different ways to redefine his music.  He has experimented with Caribbean, Spanish and even funk flavor in many of his works.

In the early 90's Miles called Russel Simmons for advice about a good producer for a new project. Miles Davis stated working with Easy Mo Bee to produce a blend of Hip Hop and Jazz.  The CD was called Doo-Bop and the minute I heard it I was hooked.

All tracks are great starting with Mystery and ending with Mystery (reprise).  What I enjoyed about the CD is that the great Jazz sound from Miles was updated with some great Hip Hop sounds to really start the Acid Jazz movement.  Jazz ,although I have always enjoyed it, sometimes can get very dense. My time at Interlochen Arts Academy really enhanced my respect for the art and also showed me it is a music form mainly appreciated by the musicians themselves.  I swear I actually heard one of the students explain that he dug the notes that Charlie Parker chose not to play.  So injecting some Hip Hop beats brought it up to date without watering down the music.

We will never know what the full CD would have sounded like Miles passed during the production. Only 6 tracks were completed and Easy Mo Bee pieced together the last three. For a last recording it is a testament to a great artist that took risks to make sure his art form continued to evolve.  For anyone wanting hear the start and best of the Acid Jazz genre it is a must.

Once again listen to the best your ears deserve it.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Walter Becker the darker half of the Dan

I have been a huge fan of Steely Dan since I can remember.  I know they are one of the bands in the late 70's that I heard on the AM radio in the parent's car.  I really dig how they mix jazz rock and pop so well.  The Dan has been accused of being over produced and slick but I don't hear it. Lyrically they are very clever and paint great pictures of many different lifestyles and parts of the world.  Once again by the time I was old enough they broke up.  Donald Fegan has had many solo albums and I have bought them all but we never heard much from Walter Becker.

Fast forward to the 90's and Steely Dan are reunited and on a tour, I have yet to catch them unfortunately.  The band releases a live album which is great and there is a track on there I have never heard but it is amazing.  The track is Book of Liars and it is off of Walter Becker's solo album. I needless to say bought the CD to give it a listen.

I am going to start with the best track off the CD which is Book of Liars.  It is dark moving and very clever with its writing.  A song about a break up and how the girl is so bad her name has a star in the Book of Liars by her name.  You can really feel the betrayal and pain the delivery.  The last verse paints the break up like a atom not able to keep its pairing and the atom is doomed to spent the rest of its half life on its own.  Just damned good.

As for the rest of the CD, if you are a Steely Dan fan you will really enjoy.  It turns out the Becker is the darker of the Dan and the sound is much more stripped down.  The other noteworthy track in Cringemaker, another unhappy in a relationship song.  I enjoyed exploring the other half of Steely Dan.

Until next time listen to the best your ears deserve it!


Monday, May 11, 2015

And where is the Batman

Two things brought on this review.  I was not going to do any more Prince CDs for awhile, but I found a CD in the box that doesn't get the respect it deserves.  The first thing brought this review calling for due respect was a movie.  Now I really love this movie and I am happy I got to get into the series, but it a very wrong and disrespectful scene.  Shaun of the Dead is a fine film but when the main characters first start fighting the Zombie horde they decided to throw anything they can find.  Some of the items they were throwing were record albums.  They ranked the albums by what to throw at the zombie and what not to throw.  The Batman soundtrack from Prince was thrown.  Haters. 
The next and actually worse thing was on my good friends Jarrod's birthday.  We love to sing karaoke  and Jarrod likes to pick the worse songs ever for us to sing.  Some songs should never be played for karaoke, Batdance is the top of the list.  We and the version of the song were horrible.

The album is great I don't care whatever people say,  I really thought the CD and the Movie where a great package together.  Prince tries to get into the characters in the movie and there are great jams, panty dropping soul ballads and even a sweet duet.  Batdance well, we will get to that song.

The first two tracks The Future and Electric Chair show the purple one really trying to look inside the mask and makeup of the Batman and Joker.  Partyman and Trust and great fun jams that I would be at home on any Prince CD.  Scandalous is an awesome getting the motor running for all of the females soul ballad.   Finally Arms of Orion a sweet duet and totally out of character for him.  I love the way his voice blends with Sheena Easton's.  Yet the cd isn't perfect, there is a track that although adventurous this track doesn't deliver.  Batdance is a stretch, I enjoy the track but I think the criticism is fair.

Is the Batman soundtrack the best CD from Prince, no but especially of late there have been much, much worse.  I think even with all the time since it has been released it still delivers and doesn't deserve the criticism it gets.

Til next time listen to the best your ears deserve it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Guru a great blend gone too early

More into the cloud from my CD Collection.  In the mid 90's I was getting into Jazz.  Changing tastes and all but I have to admit sometimes it lacked the beat for me.  I found by accident Acid Jazz, they took jazz sounds and gave it a dance house beat.  This was a form of music I really dug, a branch of this style was Hip Hop and Jazz.  Guru was a giant in this style and I was really hoping it would catch on.  Unfortunately just like Jazz its not a music that is meant for the masses.

Jazzmataz Vol 1was Guru's offering in the world of Hip Hop and Jazz.  It is a wonderful blend of smooth jazz, hip hop beats and a on point rap delivery.  The introduction is a clever way of introducing the album that leads right into the track, Loungin.  The first guest star Donald Byrd on trumpet is great on the track and sets the feeling for the cd.  Transit Ride is another standout track with Branford Marsalis it is a great view of New York City through Guru's eyes.  Finally Take A Look is fun, it has a vibraphone and a rap aimed a certain Anglo rapper from the late 80.

Guru put out 3 more Jazzmataz albums, none of them really took off.  Unfortunately Guru passed away 2010. I was happy to rediscover this cd and for anyone who wants a interesting blend of styles.

Til next time listen to the best your ears deserve it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Coming to the last of the Purple Ones overlooked Albums

The title is miss leading, with 30 plus albums there are many that are over looked, this is just the last I will do for a while.

I was in Michigan working at Interlochen when this cd came out in 94.  I remember buying it at the mall and I remember one of the students that I liked asked me to buy it for her.  The cd had the Parent Advisory Sticker on it.  It being my first year and being nervous I waffled over buying it for her.  She laughed at my inaction and bought it for herself and told me she was just messing with me.  I shouldn't have worried she was 17 blond and very cut,e no male clerk I know of wouldn't have let her buy it.  After listening the first track of the cd I decided this is the first cd that needed the warning sticker and I am happy I didn't buy the cd for the student.

Now Prince has been very open about sex and his enjoyment of it.  I like that about the Purple one, but the title track Come is an 11 minute opus about making sure a woman achieves orgasm and his skill about getting her there is pretty graphic.  Hey I think it is a great track but for adults only. 

The rest of the cd is great and Prince once again shows his mastery of many different styles of music.  The track Loose stands out as a great track. It is a mix of Techno, Rock and Dance solid tracks.  Papa is another standout with a blues feel that provides insight to Prince growing up with a powerful message. Dark is a classic Prince torch song, not a huge Tommy Barbarella fan I prefer Doc Z, but the keyboards on this track are great.  Solo has to be the original release Prince has ever done.  It starts of just his voice with lots of reverb, very haunting and moving track.

The only problem with this cd is it falls into his time of disagreement with Warner Bros.  There was no support and the next CD was rushed out to get him out of his contract.  This cd is added to the cloud but one I will keep physically also due to the fact it is out of print now.  It's another great rare gem that all Purple friends should listen to.

Till next time listen to the best your ears deserve it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Prince the best and the Worst

Hey another quick hit here.  In adding all of the Prince CDs I put into the Cloud The Gold Experience.  I wont go into the whole CD cause that has been done many times by many people, I just want to say this CD has the best and worst song Prince has ever put out.

Starting with the worst song, Dolphin.  Big sigh this song is terrible.  Dumb premise, asinine  lyrics and stupid.  The thought behind the song is that no one will listen to what the singer has to say and discounts his opinion, sure who hasn't felt that way before.  The problem is the solution to the way the singer feels is dumb, hey if I came back as a Dolphin you would listen to me.  I am overwhelmed with how silly and stupid this is.  I hate this because Prince, until this song, could do no wrong.  The filler tracks on his CDs were still genius, but this song would make a 10 year old girl think it was silly.

Enough of that, cause on the same CD is the best track he ever released and no one really knows of it.  Shy is musical gold, maybe that's why it is on this CD.  One of the best Bass lines I have ever heard and the guitar is the funkiest grove he has laid down since Alphabet St.  The song has a great story behind it and is another deep layer to the track.  The imagery to the lyrics is amazing.   I remember when I first heard it I was blown away.  I played it for the guys on our trip to Canton and out of respect for the track I made sure all were silent, I think at first they weren't happy with that until they heard what I heard.

Well another quick one, til next time be good to your ears they deserve it.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Prince lost cd in the Chaos

Still adding to the cloud and going through the box of CDs I discovered, I got a bunch of Prince CDs.  Not only is the man a musical Genius but he is prolific.  Especially during the mid 90's when Warner Bros and as he was know then The Artist Formally Known As, were in a pissing contest over contracts.  Prince was getting out a CD a year.  The problem is that some of the CDs were lost in the rush to get it out and the fact that Prince didn't want to promote anything for Warner Bros.

Chaos and Disorder is one of the CDs in this rush.  Its a great CD for a throw away to fulfill his contract.  The whole feel of the CD is more rock and guitar work, which I love from Prince.  The title track is a story of a reporter lamenting on the state of the world and the depressing subjects he has to cover.  I Like it There and Zannalee is classic double meaning Prince naughty tracks.  I Rock Therefore I Am is a great mix of his rock and dance sounds with a Caribbean sounding rap in the middle of it.  Finally Prince almost sounds country with Right The Wrong, well as close as Prince is ever going to come to country.

I remember loving this CD and almost upset that it didn't get much play.  I mean I understand now but kind of wish it got more respect.  Of coarse when you have 34 Albums you know a few are going to get lost.

Til next time listen to the best your ears deserve it.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The greatest Fake Metal Band

I remember watching Adult Swim on Cartoon Network and the show started with pounding power cords. The animation was terrific and I was a Fanatic. The show is  Metalocalypse and it is about the greatest Fake Metal band ever Dethklok.

I know there were one and a half earlier fake metal bands, and much love and respect to the Tap and Dethtongue but they ain't Dethklok

To support my argument that Dethklok is the greatest fake Metal band I give you three solid metal CDs. I will focus on The Dethalbum 1 for this blog but all three are Metal works of art.

The best thing about this CD is the harmony between the fact that the lyrics to the songs are supposed to be funny but the music is very serious. Take away the joke titles and funny lyrics and these tracks can be played right along any other metal, in fact on the next two CDs they have been played on Liquid Metal on XM.

All the tracks on the CD are stand out tracks enuff said. Okay if I had to pick out of perfection, I know I am laying it on thick, Birthday Dethday, Hatred Copter, Murdertrain A Comin, and Face Fisted are solid Metal!

The crazy part is the band for the most part is all Brandon Small. He plays all the instruments but drums and is the voice of Nathan Explosion.  I love listening to interviews and he explains on how he channels the characters when he plays. In fact when I saw Trans Siberian Orchestra I thought the guitarist are great but  Skwisgaar would smoke them.

Til next time. listen to the best, your ears deserve it. Dethklok rulz!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Disturbing Reintroduction to Hard Rock and Metal

The 90's weren't great for me for Rock and Metal.  I just didn't listen to much of it; oh I knew about Foo Fighters, Pantera and Green Day.  I got really into the Jazz, Soul and as mentioned in earlier posts Country.

Well in 05 I was watching MTV2, I think I was waiting for a rerun of Bevis and Butthead and I saw this bitching video.  First off it was animated, I will watch most animation on TV just ask my wife.  Next it was animated by Todd McFarland from Spawn fame, I love his style.  Finally it was a cover of a great Genesis song, Land of Confusion.  The band was Disturbed and I was hooked.  I had gotten into the "I" products and immediately bought the video on ITunes and showed everybody.  I was back into the Hard Rock. 

The next step back into Hard Rock was XM.  Disturbed was on Octane yea!  I also learned about Theory of a Deadman, Shinedown and Avenged Sevenfold, but it was Disturbed that got me back to the Rock.  I bought the CD that had the Land of Confusion track, the CD is called Ten Thousand Fists.

The album title alone should explain the feeling of the CD, the tracks hit you like a fist.  I missed the angry growling rock and the CD is full of it.  David Draiman has been criticized in the media for his vocal delivery, in fact there is a great You Tube video that unfortunately hits a little to close.  I for one enjoy how he sounds, and I feel release singing along with his angry voice.  This album takes the band away from the NuMetal label they had on their first two CDs it is just straight Hard Rock.  The stand out tracks on the CD are Land of Confusion, Ten Thousand Fists, Deify and I'm Alive.

I am happy to be back into Hard Rock and Metal, even Sherri has liked some of the bands I have discovered.  For all the Disturbed haters, I say whatever, I love them and I will always thank them for getting me back into the world of ROCK.

Until next time; listen to the best, your ears deserve it.

Monday, March 30, 2015

What Happened?

I keep wanting to put this artist in the wrong time period.  I know the first place I saw one of his video's was on VH1 but I keep on wanting to place when I saw it earlier. I want to put this album in the late 90's around the same time Alica Keys came out but the true release is a little later.  Remy Shand had his first and only album in 2001 on Motown records.  Soul was making a minor come back and boy is this album soulful.

I saw the video for the first release and it was smooth and easy.  The song was Take a Message and I was hooked.  I think my first call was to Spencer McGuire who caught the video also and agreed a very good track.

So I bought the CD and was blown away.  It is a blend of the best of soulful Prince, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.  The first single is a stand out but the groove on the whole cd is just terrific.  Best played with a bourbon or a coffee and just groove away.The only problem is that it is the only CD Remy Shand ever did.

I did more digging after awhile and learned about Mr. Shand.  Born in 78 he is a Canadian artist who won the Juno for Soul Album. Hey lets be honest, how many Juno's are there for soul albums.  I love the Canadians but not the group of people I would say were Soulful.  It turns out that Remy Shand does share a lot with Prince. He is very particular is the studio and could never get the right sound again.

Really it is a shame he never did any more CDs but the one he did give us is amazing.  I would recommend to all who want some modern soul with a foothold in the past.  Til next time-  be good to your ears, they deserve it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

One Off

Hey a quick one here.  I normal just do albums but I have recently heard a track that knocked me on my ass.  I had to review it.

I listen to Octane. the new hard rock station on XM.  The DJ said this track surprised him also.  Zac Brown Band had worked with Chris Cornell from Sound Garden on this track.  He said he was never making fun of the band for being country again.  I loved what I heard down and dirt almost southern rock with a harder edge.

I had Sheryl and James both listen to it and they agree it rocks.  Doing some research on the band they have even worked with Dave Grohl on an EP so I will have to give it a listen also. 

Hears to being surprised and great musicians can be great in many different styles.  Til next time be good to your ears they deserve it. 

Little woman large voice

The end of the 20 century and I had met the love of my life. She was into modern country and so I listened too.  Hey that's what you do when you are dating someone, you listen to what they do.  Honestly the rock scene was dead around this time and pop was dominated by the Boy Bands so I was open to something new.

Most of modern country sounded like 80's pop rock with a twang.  So I didn't hate it, in fact some of the artists were quite good. One of the artist that stood out was Martina McBride.  Martina is a powerhouse singer and most of her songs had heart and some of them an edge.  I mentioned to Sheryl, that after a few listens that she sounded like a country Pat Benatar.  My now wife didn't hear it at first, then the two of them did a crossroads on CMT. Then she agreed I was right.  I don't know who is the better singer.  I have seen Martina twice live, she brought it strongly both times.  She tore up Journey and made Steve Perry her bitch.  I haven't seen Pat live so it is hard to say who is better.

As I said earlier, modern country sounds mainly like pop rock, so when Martina released Timeless I was very curious.  Now I spent 5 years in Tallahassee Florida from about 5-10 years of age.  Any one who knows the area knows that it is more south Georgia that South Florida.  During this time I heard my share of classic country music, also Hee Haw was very popular.  So this is what I first thought of when Sheryl reintroduced me to country music. Classic Country is kind of like modern country some of it is great and some is awful.

Martina's Timeless takes the great of the classic country and proves that her voice can fit wonderfully into either era.  The curious part of this release is how modern country treated it, no air play, no videos.  But the album was the fastest seller of her career.  I really enjoyed the album. It is fun to hear her sing the songs I remember from Hee Haw.  I would have loved it if she filmed some videos of the songs on the Hee Haw sets.  The stand outs are I Can't Stop Loving You,  I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Make The World Go Away and You Ain't Woman Enough.  Although the last one is much better when sung by Dwane The Rock  Johnson, from the movie Be Cool.

If you find yourself missing classic country please give this album a listen/ You will enjoy it.  Til next time - be good to your ears, they deserve it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Like a fine wine better with age

I missed the Police. I was a hair too young, but I got Sting in his prime. Boy was he great, he still is but just go with me here. He was a invigorating blend of pop, jazz, and new wave. As a teenager I ate it up. Between my dad and Sting it was a great way to get into traditional Jazz.

Then there was a four year break. I saw him on tour during this break and was surprised. He switched back to bass guitar and changed the band. Still a great concert and I got to yell Roxanne, ala Eddie Murphy, in my date's ear.

The Soul Cages came out. I didn't get it. I loved the single All This Time, but the rest of the album was too dense. I learned more about the Album as time went on. Sting lost his father before this album and suffered from writers block. The album was a way to move through the grief and the block. The songs tell a story about a young man who loses his father who is a ship builder and his quest to bury and save his father's soul. The songs are also a reflection of his feelings for his father.

Pretty dense eh. As a 22 year old kid no way I got it. But it still left an impression on me I knew there was something here. I continued loving Sting but this album hung around as one I needed to relisten to. As a 45 year old man I get it. It is dense like a fruit cake but also like a fruit cake it gets better with age. All This Time still stands out but other songs are great tonal poems. This is not an album for singles or for background music but made for head phones

Till next time listen to the best your ears deserve it.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Guilty Confession

I have to confess something. The summer of 1988, I saw Richard Marx in concert three times.  His first album was great. It was the soundtrack to that year.  I rediscovered it in adding CDs to the cloud.  On relistening, I really enjoyed it all over again.

Before you go hating on Richard Marx and yes almost everything he did after this- save for the single Hazard- is a rehash of this album. But if he had to rehash anything this album is great.  Anyone of my age remembers slow dancing to Endless Summer Nights or Hold On To The Nights. Hum lots of love songs about nights on this album??

The album starts with Should've Known Better, a great love gone wrong track, once again lots of love songs on this album.  The first single, Don't Mean Nothing, is great rock song and wonderful take on California and the entertainment industry.  This track was special with Richard Marx's background. In writing songs and trying to break into the music industry he must have really felt the lyrics.

Reviewing the tracks on the album, I noticed something that happened a lot in the days of cassettes, the first side is all the hits.  Why this happened I don't know. I know Journey's Frontiers and some Billy Joel albums from the 80s are this way.  I am not saying the 2nd side of this album is bad just not the hits.

The first Richard Marx album is so worth a listen, most of the tracks stand the test of time and the ones that don't are nostalgic.  Till next time, be good to your ears- they are worth it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The too Dangerous to be released Prince

Once again, back in 80 something, Prince was the very talented Bad Boy.  I loved and still love him.  He always pushed the envelope in the sexual areas and, if not double meaning in his lyrics, he out an out talked about sex.  He was very taboo back then.

The Black Album from his Royal Purpleness was to follow up Sign of the Times, an album I have reviewed earlier and still consider his best, The Black album was pulled before release.  Many different rumors on why the pull but mainly I heard Warner Brothers thought it was too dirty.  I never fully believed that one because if you have seen the album cover to LoveSexy, the album that came out instead The Black Album is the one with a naked Prince on the cover so that rumor makes no sense.  Any how, I heard a few bootleg tracks here and there. On a side note, one of the bootlegs I heard during this time period was Prince and Miles Davis.  Those bootleg tracks weren't of great quality but wow the music was awesome! 

94 comes along and Warner Brothers finally releases the album. Of course, I buy it!  Ah I won't say disappointed in what I heard - more underwhelmed at the lack of the Dirtiness.  That being said the dirtiness was probably there in 87 but no longer as shocking in 94.  Funny how much had changed in music over that time period.  With Hip Hop coming along and dominating in those years the words used and terms used to describe women and sex really changed.  Prince seemed checky, erotic and fun, Hip Hop just was too blunt at that time. 

That being said the music is as awesome ever for a Prince album and some of the tracks should have been classics on this album.  The first working title of the album was The Funk Bible and it would have really fit. The tracks are very early Prince funky.  It starts with Le Grind and the dance tracks continue from there.  Cindy C is  dedicated to Supermodel Cindy Crawford and is another solid track.  Dead On It is a song that came too late, a wonderful swipe at Hip Hop of the time.  Rock Hard in a Funky place is classic dirty Prince. It is a funny track about being rock hard at an inappropriate place, if you know what we mean. 

The stand out track - and I could write a whole blog on -  is Bob George.  A song about a man who isn't very likable and doesn't like Prince, "The Skinner MF'er with the high pitch voice."  The song is so different and out there it is one of my favorites and quoted often by me and my friends. 

I wish the album had been released when it was supposed to be, but it is a classic.  Maybe the long mystery of the album helped but I don't think so.  As for the genius of Prince, it showed that the naughtiness wasn't what made him it was the music.

Til the next time, be good to your ears -  they deserve it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Early Joel

Back in 1980 something, I asked for an album by Billy Joel for Christmas.  As mentioned in the earlier post I was raised on 70's AM radio and Billy Joel was one of the giants of that era.  I must of been in either 6th or 7th grade, early teens, and just learning what kind of music I wanted to listen to.  I received Songs in The Attic by Billy Joel, not one of his big hit albums, which turned out to be wonderful.

Now I don't know how my parents chose this album but a good friend of mine at the time made a very smart ass comment that it was a kind of album that a parent would buy.  He was sort of right but I guess this helped  me to learn about early Billy Joel and the tracks on albums that aren't big hits.
This whole album is not exactly big hits.  When Mr. Joel started out he worked with studio musicians on his first few albums.  After a few years he got a band together and preferred the way they sounded on the early songs.  So the new Live versions on the songs were put together in a new album.  The new versions are great. 

The album starts with Miami 2017 a post apocalyptic tale of New York city and the driving of the song and the crowd really stand out live and shows why he picked the songs to be on this live album. I also really enjoyed Streetlife Serenader, Everyone Loves You Know. The last track, I've Loved These Days is a stand out, really shows the overindulgence and decadence of the 70's and how it is almost romantic.

I think this is a great album for people who have heard the Glass Houses and 52nd Street and want more.  I really enjoyed it and formed a lot of what I looked for in music.

Until next review be good to your ears and listen to the best

Thursday, February 5, 2015

For Dad

In earlier posts, I have mentioned Mark Benson who was a great influence on my music tastes. This post will focus on the other great influence on my music tastes and one of his favorite artist.

The other great influence on my music tastes is my father Dave Woolverton.  Some of my earliest memories are in the 70's in the Volkswagen listing to AM gold coming through the speakers.
Some of things I have noticed is how he really pays attention to the lyrics of a song and enjoys listening to the story especially if there are some good word play involved. Many of a time he has told me to listen to what the artist is saying and grins when I get the play on words or  the big reveal at the end of the song.  In fact, the artist in this post has a classic song that has a wonderful reveal at the end.

I would have to say my love for the singer/ songwriter and introduction to jazz and blues comes from my father.  As most children do, I branched out from there and went more hard rock and bebop than on the jazz side; but the ground work was laid from what I heard him play and enjoy.

Nancy Wilson is one of my father's favorite singers.  I know most of my generation will see the name Nancy Wilson and think of the Heart sisters, but this isn't her.  Nancy Wilson is a jazz signer from the 60's and 70's who really knows how to craft a story into a song with her voice.  She got her start thanks to Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.  In fact, a father's day gift from a few years back was an album of duets they did together. A must listen if you find it.

Spencer McGuire is a very old and dear friend who's father also loved Nancy Wilson.  I wanted to make sure he got a mention in the post, especially since the CD I will be reviewing is a Christmas gift from him. 

Turned to Blue was released in 2006 and is Nancy's most recent release.  While not the fan my father is I can really appreciate this CD and have enjoyed the story teller that she is.  Smooth and mellow it is a great listen for a Sunday Brunch or an afternoon reading with some coffee.  For a introduction to what Jazz singers really should be this CD would be a good start. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reinvention 2 (electric bugaloo)

I will start this review off by writing something bordering on heresy. I am not a big Guns N Roses fan. Let me expand on that I can't stand Axl Rose. Now Slash, well that is something different.
Slash is still playing and still Awesome!  I loved Velvet Revolver but we ran into the same problems that Guns had, the jackass lead singer. So Slash went solo and had a great album with many guest lead singers one them being Myles Kennedy. Finally Slash found the right lead singer.
The partnership has spawned two albums the one I downloaded was World On Fire. The thing I love about Slash is that he can solo and also lay down some tastey rhythm riffs and this album is filled with them.  The title track starts off the album with a driving force that doesn't let up. The other track that has been recently released is Bent To Fly is solid.  What I love about this album is that there is no Filler tracks each one could be released.

28 years after G N R and he still kicks ass! That is why Slash will be in rock n roll hall of fame on his own. The album is a must listen for people who love good hard rock. 

Til the next time listen to the best your ears have earned it.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

7 Wishes

Night Ranger does not get the respect they should get.  One of the funniest jokes at their expense is from American Dad.  Stan realizes he is high because he is enjoying Sister Christian.  Kind of harsh but funny.  I put Night Ranger in with Styx. It's funny how Shaw and Blades got together to form Damn Yankees. They are a great American rock band that doesn't get their dues.

7 Wishes is the band's third album.  It came out in 1985 after the band was riding high from the smash album Midnight Madness.  I remember the music videos from the album on MTV and they were great.  Being 15 at the time, the songs just rocked and I had the album first on cassette then Vinyl so I could play it in my college years on the college radio station.  The large, at the time, Vinyl selection was for the radio and that cassettes although better than 8 tracks sucked in sound quality.

Back to 7 Wishes it was the third album and the last really good one.  It starts out with the title track which just rocks.  In fact, since adding this to the cloud I have been working out to it every morning. Even the power ballad isn't to slow or sappy.  The stand out songs are Four In The Morning, This Boy Needs To Rock and Interstate Love Affair.  The last track, Goodbye, is a great way to end the album, and to end their really great albums. 

After this album, Night Ranger didn't peak again musically or on the charts again.  I own most of the albums after this and they are okay.  A few stand out tracks but nothing really to get excited over.  I think the change in the times, their original keyboard player leaving and having David Foster as a producer brought them down.  Funny, David Foster worked on another great American rock band and watered them down too.  David Foster was on Chicago 17 and they weren't the same again either.

All I can say is that I will still listen to this album while I work out and I don't have to be high to enjoy it.

Til next time; treat your ears to some good music, they have earned it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Now for something new, sort of.  I listen to Octane on XM.  Octane is modern hard rock, 21st  Century bands.  I heard a great track on the station back in 2011.  It was "Lies of the Beautiful People" by Sixx AM.  Now as a child of the 80's I know of Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, but this sounded nothing like a Crue song.  I put it aside and felt it was a tribute from a new band or something.  Later the same year I heard the track "This is going to Hurt", it was great I started to look into the band.  From the DJ's on Octane and some Wiki searches it is a new band from Nikki Sixx. 

Now most performers from the bands of that era are on tours replaying songs they did (save Slash, blog on  that coming) 30 years ago.  Now I don't know if they are trying new songs or not.  This has been a debate in my group of friends on if they are still artists or just performers rehashing their old glory.  I know that sounds harsh but I wonder about it.  If you have any real feedback or ideas on that let me know, no hating FAN nonsense about how great they still are, real honest feedback and insights.

On to the album "This Is Going To Hurt" it is a great new hard rock album.  The first two tracks I talked about do stand out.  The rest of the album is on point for new hard rock and fresh.  Other than the fact I know what Sixx sounded like from the Crue I don't hear any of it on this album.  Reinvention for a songwriter that had amazing success in the 80's and 90's and still able to bring it all over again in the 21 Century. It is worth a listen and I have enjoyed the releases from the newest album they have released. 

I will be back to the truly old stuff next week, my albums were very well loved and need some help to get back to recording shape.  Till the next review, listen well; your ears deserve it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Big Regret

The next album added to the library from vinyl is Queen Live Killers.  Unlike the last group, Queen is absolutely Rock and Roll Hall of Fame worthy.  This is another Mark "Blender" Benson influenced choice.  We loved Queen, I still do.  Freddie Mercury is the greatest lead singer of all time.  I titled this a big regret due to the fact for many years this was the closest I had to hearing them live.  Released in 1979, being ten at the time, I was not able to see any tours.  Mark and I  said we would even drive up to Atlanta for a tour/ Alas it never happened.

As for the album itself, it rocks.  The first side is straight rock, Brian is awesome on the guitar.  Great version of We Will Rock You and even little known but crowd favorite I'm in Love With my Car.  A  double album each side is just a testament to a wonderful live band.  The nice thing is this isn't a greatest hits live album, minor hits like Get Down Make Love, 39, Spread Your Wings and Tie Your Mother Down are on this. Yes, Bohemian Rhapsody is on the album but the middle is taped due to the fact with a four piece there is simply no way to do this live.  The live madness ends with the traditional version of We Will Rock You/We are the Champions and finally God Save the Queen. 

The first time I really got to see Queen live was on Live Aid with the rest of the world.  Knowing what they were like live I was one of the few who were not surprised that Freddie and the boys took over the show and made the stage their own.  Once again their live act gave the next band a new lease on popularity but a major American tour was not to be.  AIDS took a great artist too early from this world and Freddie was lost to us.

I have been discussing with the wife about the Adam Lambert version of Queen.  I would see them live with Adam and I feel he would do Freddie proud.

A longer review than normal, but Queen wasn't any normal band.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Old Friends

This Christmas my mother got me a new record player that can transfer albums into MP3 files.  I took the opportunity to visit some old Albums that had been in my parents home for the past 15 years.  I first downloaded Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, but lets get real that Album has been bloged and written about more times than I can count so we will skip that one.

My next Album was Giuffira's self titled first offering.  This album takes me back to my teenage years in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.  Mark "Blender" Benson of a crew I ran around with in my teenager years loved music and has influenced a lot of what I listen to.  Mark not only listened to the music  but he learned the different artist and their background.  Giuffria is not a very well known group. Greg Giuffira was the keyboard player who led the band.  He had some minor hits with a band named Angel but with Giuffira he made almost a breakthrough.

The self titled first album is very 80's not quite hairband rock.  The one track that made a hit was Call To The Heart.  Keyboard driven, go figure, sounds like an early version of the band Europe.  The rest of the tracks are fun but not earth shattering just 80's rock.  I enjoy the album and I am very happy I got a chance to add it to my ITunes cloud.

Let's be honest this album is more memory lane for me and brings back great times. Isn't that a great thing that music can do.

I will be digging out more albums and I will be reviewing them.  Will they be albums that should go in the Rock and Roll hall of fame?  Some of them but others will be like Giuffira.

James Woolverton