Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of the 00's

The Corner's artist of the decade is Wilco. Jeff Tweedy and company began the year as the best alternative country band, but was showing hints of things to come. 1999's Summerteeth was full of those experimental sounds that Wilco would be come known for in the 00's. Wilco's releases in this decade include 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2004's A Ghost is Born, 2007's Sky Blue Sky and this year's Wilco (The Album). Wilco also was involved in releases like 2000's Mermaid Avenue II with Billy Bragg (included material that didn't make the first volume), Minus 5's 2003 Down With Wilco (Wilco played on the album), a live album 2005's Kicking Television and a couple of EPs. Jeff Tweedy played on the soundtrack to the film Chelsea Walls, on Loose Fur's 2003 Loose Fur and 2007 Born Again in the USA and also Golden Smog's 2007 Another Fine Day. Bassist John Stirratt along with his sister released the terrific Arabella under the name of Laurie and John.

Wilco began the decade with Jay Bennett (multi-instruments) and Leroy Bach (keyboards) along with the core group of Jeff Tweedy (guitar, singer), John Stirratt (bass) and Glen Kotche (drums). They finished the decade with Nels Cline (guitar), Pat Sansone (multi-instruments), Mikael Jorgenson (keyboards) along with the core group. Wilco's constant has always been Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt. Jeff seems to encourage input from his current band to shape thier ever evolving sound.

  1. Wilco - A Ghost is Born (2004)
  2. Bruce Springsteen - The Rising (2002)
  3. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldier (2006)
  4. Wilco - Yankee Foxtrot Hotel (2002)
  5. U2 - All That I Can't Leave Behind (2000)
  6. U2 - No Line On The Horizon (2009)
  7. Minus 5 - Down With Wilco (2003)
  8. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (2007)
  9. U2 - How To Dismantle An Automic Bomb (2004)
  10. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges (2008)

Some other great releases include: Old 97s - Satelite Rides (2001), Bruce Springsteen - Live in New York City (2001), Alejandro Escovedo - A Man Under the Influence (2001), Coldplay - X&Y (2005), The Eels - Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005), The Jayhawks - Rainy Day Music (2003), Wilco - Wilco (The Album) (2009), The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely (2008), The Jayhawks - Smile (2000), Ryan Adams - Gold (2001), Old Crow Medicine Show - Big Iron World (2006), Drive-By Truckers - Decoration Day (2003), The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (2007)

  1. Wilco - Theologians (2004)
  2. Ryan Adams - Nobody's Girl (2001)
  3. Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel (2004)
  4. My Morning Jacket - Dondante (2006)
  5. U2 - Vertigo (2004)
  6. Wilco - At Least That's What She Said (2004)
  7. Bruce Springsteen - The Rising (2002)
  8. U2 - Kite (2000)
  9. Wilco - I Hate It (2007)
  10. U2 - City of Blinding Lights (2004)

Other great songs include: Bruce Springsteen - Lonesome Day (2002), U2 - Fez Being Born(2009), The Raconteurs - Steady, As She Goes (2006), Wilco - I'm the Man Who Loves You (2002), The Raconteurs - Rich Kid Blues (2008), U2- Unknown Caller (2009), Wilco - Heavy Metal Drummer (2002), U2 - Magnificent (2009), Loretta Lynn - Portland Oregon (2004), U2 - Walk On (2000), Old 97s - King of All The World (2001)

My best concert of the decade was Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, The Rising Tour, Rupp Arena in Lexington Kentucky on 11/14/02. Part of the enjoyment of this show was the fact that I ended up in the pit right in front of the stage. At one point in the show, Clarence Clemons pointed to me and my friend.

The show was exciting and featured Streets of Fire which hadn't been played since the Darkness Tour in the 70's. The band also played another Darkness favorite Racing in the Streets. The encore was great and included Dancing in the Dark, Glory Days, Born to Run as well as others.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best of the 00's: Live in New York City

Two hearts girl get the job done, two hearts are better than one... (Bruce Springsteen - Two Hearts)

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band released Born in the USA in 1984 and then toured for almost 2 years. Bruce released the semi solo record Tunnel of Love in 1987 and toured with the E Street gang. Some time there after Bruce broke with the band with the intention of playing with new people, maybe getting some fresh sounds and ideas. It didn't really work. Bruce's work in the 90's was muddy and lacked something (er... E Street Band maybe).

Then in 1998 Tracks was released. The most exciting release since the mid-80's. Tracks was a history of the band and Bruce in the form of unreleased tracks. The early stuff was gold to these ears and the later stuff included some of those that got away. This release seem to excite everyone on E Street. It excited the band so much that they got together for the Reunion Tour or as I like to call it the Glory Days Tour. This was the first tour that included both Nils Lofgren who joined the band during the Born in the USA era and Little Steven Van Zandt who left during that time.

I caught the tour in both Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH. Both shows were great, but the first of those was in Louisville. The new reconstituted E Street Band came out in went into Don't Look Back from Tracks, Prove It All Night, Two Hearts... well we were 3 songs in and it felt like we had seen an entire concerts worth of material. That tour was one of my all time favorites. So when I heard that the band was going to release a live album I was very excited. Live In New York City came out and when I played it driving down the road, I remember the chill bumps and hairs standing up on my arms.

Live in NYC starts similar to the Louisville concert with My Love Will Not Let You Down from Tracks, Prove It All Night and then Two Hearts. After you try to catch your breath, the cd steam rolls along with a great version of Atlantic City. Mansion on the Hill, a duet between Bruce and Patty follows. Then a different version of the River; I didn't like this version at first because it was different. It grew on me and now I like it, I like it alot...

Youngstown followed played by the full band for the fist time on this tour. What a powefull song.

There are many highlights including the sing-a-long Out in the Streets, Lost in the Flood, Born to Run, If I Should Fall Behind (with lead singing parts from Bruce, Little Steven, Patty, Clarence and Nils) and ny favorite concert song ever Jungleland. I've seen this song live a few times and this song unites performer and audience like no other song.

Bruce and the band proved that 2 hearts are better than one on the Reunion Tour which was my favorite tour of the 00's. This souvenir from the tour was one of the best cds of the 00's.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Best of the 00's: Sky Blue Sky

I try to stay busy I do the dishes, I mow the lawn; I try to keep myself occupied even though I know you’re not coming home... (Wilco - Hate It Here)

Wilco had a new line up for 2007's Sky Blue Sky. New band but same results: a terrific new cd. The new configuration featured guitar wiz Nels Cline, multi-insturmentalist Pat Sonsone, keyboardist Mikael Jorgenson, drummer (and fellow University of Kentucky alum) Glen Kotche and the heart of the band, lead singer/guitarist Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt. Sky Blue Sky was a bit more mellower, but this was very much the Wilco guitar album.

Case in point and the top evidence Impossible Germany. Wilco somehow balances this song with a 3 guitar attack.

The title track, Sky Blue Sky, paints a depressing picture of the singers home town: "The drunks were ricocheting; The old buildings downtown empty so long ago, windows broken and dreaming; So happy to leave what was my home"

One of the best tracks is the Big Star influenced Hate It Here: "I try to stay busy, I do the dishes, I mow the lawn; I try to keep myself occupied even though I know you’re not coming home"

Sky Blue Sky was on the top of my playlist all summer in 2007 and one of the best of the 00's.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Best of the 00's: No Line On the Horizon

Restart and re-boot yourself, you're free to go... (U2 - Unkown Caller)

U2 completed their great 3 cds of the 00's this year with No Line On the Horizon. The cd contained some of their best works with Unknown Caller, Fez Being Born, Magnificent, Moment of Surrender, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, etc... For a complete review read here.

No Line on the Horizon is definitely one of the best of the 00's.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best of the 00's: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

I am an American aquarium drinker, I assassin down the avenue... (Wilco - I Am Trying To Break Your Heart)

2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was the cd that put Wilco on the map. You may know the story on how it was recorded and finished; the record company Reprise (a division of Warner Brothers) refused to release it, Wilco aquired the rights and left the label only to have it bought back by Nonesuch Records (another division of Warner Brothers). Jeff Tweedy and Jeff Bennett worked diligently on each song, writing, constructing and recording all the sounds and music only to be fed up with each other in the end; Bennett was then dismissed from the band.

YHF is experimental, loaded with sounds and clever songs. One of which is Jesus, etc. -"Tall buildings shake, Voices escape singing sad sad songs, Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks, bitter melodies turning your orbit around"

Another favorite of mine is Heavy Metal Drummer:

"All I can see is black and white and white and pink with blades of blue that lay between the words I think on a page I was meaning to send to you" from I'm the Man Who Loves You:
YHF includes some of Wilco's finest moments, along with previous mentioned songs Pot Kettle Black, War on War, Kamera and Reservations are fine songs. Wilco the band of the 00's with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot one of the best of the 00's.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best of the 00's: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

The night is full of holes as bullets rip the sky of ink with gold, They twinkle as the boys play rock and roll... (U2 - Vertigo)

After a bit of down trend in the mid to late 90's, U2 roared back with the trifecta, 3 great cds in the 00's; 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2004's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb and 2009's No Line on the Horizon.

U2 went into the studio in 2003 with producer Chris Thomas for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb with the intention of producing a classic guitar album to be released during the 2003 Christmas season. Thomas left before the album was finished and Steve Lillywight was brought in to clean up. The cd included 8 producers and was not released until 2004, but it was worth the wait.

HTDAAB starts with maybe the best single of the 00's and Vertigo; "Unos, dos, tres, catorce" and as Bruce Springsteen wrote for his induction speech for U2 going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame it is perfect math. - "Uno, dos, tres, catorce. That translates as one, two, three, fourteen. That is the correct math for a rock and roll band. For in art and love and rock and roll, the whole had better equal much more than the sum of its parts, or else you're just rubbing two sticks together searching for fire. A great rock band searches for the same kind of combustible force that fueled the expansion of the universe after the big bang. You want the earth to shake and spit fire. You want the sky to split apart and for God to pour out." - Bruce Springsteen

Yahweh is a beautiful rocker (done here acoustically)

The highlight of the cd is City of Blinding Lights, a New York City song.

Other highlights include Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, All Because of You and Original of the Species. U2 released 3 cd's in the 00's and all are on the best of the 00's.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best of the 00's: Down With Wilco

They call me DJ Mini-Mart cause that's where I work... (Minus 5 - Retrieval of You)

My favorite artist of this 00's has been Wilco; along with recording their own exciting music Jeff Tweedy and company occasionally step out and play with other artists. That was the case when Wilco recorded with the Minus 5, Scott McCaughey's project band that features R.E.M.'s super guitarist Peter Buck and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies. The result of their recording sessions was the fantastic Down With Wilco.

Highlights from the cd are plenty, starting with Retrieval of You, the story of a failed music star and the famous girl that he lost - "Everybody knows I fell afoul of fame and you're to blame that I'm what's his name"; the beautiful pop sound of Where Will You Go; the haunting View From Below in which the husband slithers along the floor describing his wife's affair from below; the R.E.M.esque I'm Not Bitter; the fabulous Dear Employer (The Reason I Quit) whose lyrics are a notice to his boss that he is moving on - "Dear employer, I'd like to tell you it's been wonderful, for all these years, but now you know, I've got a new shoe and I'll be wearing it so far from here"; The Town That Lost It's Groove Supply is another winner;

Family Gardner is the lone Jeff Tweey vocal and the highlight of the cd.

I was down with Wilco alot in the 00's.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best of the 00's: X & Y

Maybe you get what you wanted, Maybe you stumbled upon it... (Coldplay - White Shadows)

Coldplay was another band that caught me by suprise. I first heard Coldplay on the Garden State soundtrack and the song Don't Panic. I love that song. Then in 2005 I started hearing songs from X&Y. Yes they did have a sort of U2 thing going on, but it was still a fresh and exciting sound. I've always liked English bands and English music, so I invested in X&Y and discovered a band that writes excellent songs with great instruments and emotional lyrics and singing.

One of the best songs on X&Y is White Shadows; "When I was a young boy I tried to listen and I wanna feel like that, Little white shadows - blink and miss them, Part of a system I am".

Fix You is a great ballad that really comes alive towards the end, "Tears stream down your face when you lose something you cannot replace, Tears stream down your face and I... Will fix You"

Speed of Sound is another great rocker; "Look up, I look up at night, planets are moving at the speed of light, climb up, up in the trees every chance that you get is a chance you seize"

Talk is another solid rocker; "Oh brother I can't, I can't get through, I've been trying hard to reach you 'cause I don't know what to do, Oh brother I can't believe it's true, I'm so scared about the future and I wanna talk to you";

X&Y is excellent throughout and one of the best of the 00's.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Best of the 00's: Broken Boy Soldiers

Find yourself a girl, and settle down; Live a simple life in a quiet town; Steady as she goes... (The Raconteurs - Steady As She Goes)
Jack White's side project The Raconteurs featuring fellow Michiganer Brendan Benson on guitar and vocals, Jack Lawrence on bass and Patrick Keeler on drums caught me by surprise in 2006 with Broken Boy Soldiers. I was just getting into Jack White's music when I saw the cover of the cd which intrigued me enough that I bought the cd and after my first listen I was pleasantly surprised. They sounded like a band that had been around together. The music inside was fresh yet it could have been from the late 60's or mid-70's.

The opening song Steady As She Goes should have been a hit single; a perfect rock song; "Find yourself a girl and settle down; live a simple life in a quiet town, Steady as she goes"

Hands is a real rocker with Who like power chords at the beginning; "Girl you got those hands that heal help me get in touch with what I feel"

Level begins with sort of a Twilight Zone kind of start and then turns into another rocker; "My baby's on the level, I try to read her mind, She's on the straight and narrow, I'm guessing all the time";

Intimate Secretary is one of those catchy pop songs with interesting rhymes; "Venerable obscurest malarkey, Doulocracy, Ecclesiarchy, Our fellow's craft is just not for sharing, He's not an intimate secretary";

Broken Boy Soldiers is solid all the way through; Blue Veins is a powerful blues song; Together, Call It a Day and Yellow Sun are upbeat pop nuggets; and Broken Boy Soldiers and Store Bought Bones are classic rockers. Broken Boy Soldiers came out of nowhere to become one of the best of the 00's.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Best of the 00's: Satelite Rides

I got a book of poems that's gonna set you free... (Old 97's - Book of Poems)

I discovered the Old 97's back during the early part of the 00's and maybe the hey-day of the Alternative Country, No Depression, Y'alternative, Americana or whatever you called it. This was a great period for music; this is when I first heard Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Wilco, The Jayhawks, Whiskeytown, Ryan Adam, Alejandro Escovedo and others. Old 97's rank with the best of them; led by Rhett Miller's impassioned singing, Ken Bethea on lead guitar, Murry Hammond on bass and Philip Peebles on drums. My favorite of theirs is the 2001's rocking Satelite Rides.

The cd starts of with a bang in King of All of the World, a lively pure perfect rock song; "I was in a real bad way when you turned the power on and you made me feel for all the world like I was the king of all the world";

The cd rolls along with solid songs Rollerskate Skinny (from a line in The Catcher in the Rye), Buick City Complex and the nice ballad Question;

The cd is consistent all the way through and other highlights include the great What I Wouldn't Do, Can't Get a Line, the outstanding Nervous Guy and Book of Poems.

The Old 97's became one of my favorite bands in the 00's.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Best of the 00's: All That You Can't Leave Behind

The last of the rock stars, when hip-hop drove the big cars; In the time when new media was the big idea, That was the big idea... (U2 - Kite)

After the disappointing Pop in 1997, U2 went back in the studios with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. The result was U2's great comeback album 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind (and the first of a great trio of cds by U2).
The cd opens with the perfect single (which U2 seems to have a knack for) Beautiful Day, a positive affirmation of life... "It's a beautiful day, Sky falls, you feel like it's a beautiful day, Don't let it get away".

One of the highlights of the cd is the song Kite. The lyrics for me are about a parent having to let a child go independently on their own..."I want you to know that you don't need me anymore; I want you to know you don't need anyone, or anything at all" and "Who's to say where the wind will take you, who's to say what it is will break you, I don't know, which way the wind will blow"; an awesome song

Another great song, the rocking New York; "In New York freedom looks like too many choices, In New York I found a friend to drown out the other voices, Voices on the cell phone, Voices from home, Voices of the hard sell, Voices down the stairwell" and "In New York summers get hot well into the hundreds, You can walk around the block without a change of clothing, Hot as a hair dryer in your face, Hot as handbag and a can of mace".

Another great rocker, the uplifting Elevation; "High, higher than the sun, You shoot me from a gun, I need you to elevate me here, At the corner of your lips, As the orbit of your hips, Eclipse, you elevate my soul".

Other great songs on ATYCLB include Walk On, In a Little While and Stuck in a Moment. U2 continued with quality output througout the 00's.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Best of the 00's: Evil Urges

I'm amazed at the quiet ocean, I'm amazed at your warm devotion, I'm amazed at what the people sayin'... (My Morning Jacket - I'm Amazed)

Louisville, Kentucky's My Morning Jacket has been one of the exciting new bands of the 00's. They caught my ear with 2003's haunting Neil Young folkish It Still Moves and then with 2005's more rocking Z. The band really steeped oun on an edge with 2008's diverse Evil Urges which featured MMJ's successful takes on rock and folk to soul, funk and disco.

Highlights from Evil Urges include the beautiful yearning ballad called Librarian which features the lyrics "Duck into the men's room, Combing through my hair; When God gave us mirrors he had no idea" and "Karen of the Carpenters, Singing in the rain; Another lovely victim of the mirror's evil way; Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part 1 and Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part 2, it's disco counterpart... "If you touch me; Well I just think I'll scream; Cause its been so long; Since someone caressed me";

the gorgeous soulful Thank You Too; the title track Evil Urges, with Jim James in full falsetto mode; and I'm Amazed, a great tune.

MMJ has gotten heavy rotation on my playlist this past decade. I look forward to see which direction that the band goes in the future.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Best of the 00's: The Rising

Come on up for the rising; Come on up, lay your hands in mine; Come on up for the rising; Come on up for the rising tonight... (Bruce Springsteen - The Rising)

As the famous story goes; just after the events of September 11, 2001 a fan in a car sees Bruce Springsteen, stops, rolls down his window and says “we need you now”; kind of like the commissioner shining the giant Bat-light into the sky. Bruce began writing for what would become The Rising. Although some of the songs were written prior to those events and some were not about those events, the collection of songs is cohesive and inspired. It was also an exciting release because it was the first non-live album with The E Street Band since 1984's Born in the U.S.A.

The cd opens with a great song Lonesome Day; which on the surface seems to be kind of a break up song, but I think it sets the tone for the 911 theme... "A little revenge and this too shall pass, This too shall pass, I'm gonna pray, Right now all I got's this lonesome day".

The next song is directly about the events, Into The Fire. The song is about a firefighter that goes up into one of the towers; "The sky was falling and streaked with bloodI heard you calling me then you disappeared into the dust, up the stairs into the fire"; but like the rest of The Rising the tone is hopeful "May your strength give us strength, May your faith give us faith, May your hope give us hope, May your love give us love".

Empty Sky is another song that deals with the loss; "I woke up this morning I could barely breathe, Just an empty impression in the bed where you used to be"; Your Missing - "Pictures on the nightstand, TV's on in the den, Your house is waiting, your house is waiting, For you to walk in, for you to walk in, But you're missing"; in the title track The Rising, Bruce again captures the image of a firefighter climbing to his death; "Lost track of how far I've gone, How far I've gone, how high I've climbed, On my back's a sixty pound stone,On my shoulder a half mile line" but again hope and redemption flows "Come on up for the rising, Come on up, lay your hands in mine".

The song My City of Ruins was written prior to 911 about the decline of Asbury Park, New Jersey, but transposed into a song about the events in New York; the song was played on the benefit show America: A Tribute to Heroes:

Other terrific songs from The Rising include Mary's Place, Further On Up the Road (coverd by Johnny Cash on one of his last cds) , Waitin' On a Sunny Day (in the mode of the classic Hungry Heart)...

The Rising was Bruce's great tribute to 911, Bruce's great comeback with The E Street Band and Bruce's great album on the 00's.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Best of the 00's: A Ghost is Born

I'm going away where you will look for me; Where I'm going you cannot come; No one's ever gonna take my life from me, I lay it down; A ghost is born... (Wilco - Theolgians)

Wilco followed up their 2002 break through cd Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with 2004’s solid A Ghost is Born. Ghost continued in the experimental direction that was started on Summerteeth and continued on YHF. Ghost is an amazing diverse collection of songs.

The cd opens with a great song, the jaw dropping At Least That’s What You Said; it starts softly, but then the Neil Young style guitar kicks in and the song becomes a powerful tune in the mode of Wilco's great tune Misunderstood.

Spiders (Kidsmoke) is built around a hypnotic rythym that seems to pull you into it's web as Jeff Tweedy tells you about spiders filling out their tax forms; Muzzle of Bees and Hummingbird are those brilliant melodic tunes that Jeff Tweedy writes in his sleep; "His goal is life was to be an echo" from Hummingbird.

Other great songs on the cd include Company in My Back, I'm a Wheel and Theologians; the later is maybe my favorite song of the last decade.

Wilco cds have been in heavy rotation in my players this decade. Ghost is probably my favorite Wilco cd since Being There.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Best of the 00's: Big Iron World

On the cool flow, floatin down, down below the bridge to the waters edge from the ridge to the ledge from the hills to the sea, I'll become a memory James River Blues... (Old Crow Medicine Show - James River Blues)
The first decade of the 21st century is coming to a close. I am going to blog about some of my favorite cd's, concerts, songs of the 00's.

A friend of mine gave me a copy of the Old Crow Medicine Show's O.C.M.S. and from my first listen it struck me as something completely different; not quite bluegrass, more of old time string band music played by punk rockers. I caught a live concert of the Old Crows where they opened for Nickelcreek. I was hooked and I have seen them a couple times since.

Both O.C.M.S. and the follow up Big Iron World are great listens, but I favor Big Iron World, only slightly. Released in 2006 and produced by David Rawlings (Gillian Welch's musical partner) the cd strikes the right ballance of covers and originals. It has an old time sound, but yet sounds new and origianl.

The opening song, Down Home Girl written by Leiber and Butler was also featured on an early Rolling Stones album. The song is so seductive and Willie Watson singing just fits the blues sound; Ketch Secor turns in a great performance on the the loose concert favorite and believe it or not an old traditional tune called Cocaine Habit; Minglewood Blues is an up tempo bluegrass tour de force; My Good Gal written by Ketch Secor is nice slower pace with interesting lyrics;

James River Blues is the highlight of cd. The song is about how a boatman and his boat being replace by train and rail system: "I think I'll flow on down to Richmond town, They don't need us anymore, Haulin' freight from shore to shore, That big iron hauls much more than we ever could before". The song strikes the perfect tone for the story that it is telling; great, great song.

New Virginia Creeper is a bouncy little ditty with sexual overtones about the train line that begins in North Carolina and heads down the mountains of Virginia; note that now the train tracks have been taken up and the trail has been turned into a beautiful bicycle trail. Union Maid is a typical Woody Guthrie song about the plight of the little man (in this case little woman); Let It Alone is another traditional song that Willie Watson nails; Don't Ride That Horse is a laid back song with a tall tale that may be about the band on tour; Bobcat Tracks is one of those perfect tunes for the real life kind of ordinary story that it is telling.

Old Crow Medicine Show has been in my cd player or on my ipod alot this decade. I suggest that you find Big Iron World and prepare to travel back in time or to the future, I'm not exactly sure.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

John Fogerty Rides Again

Hey, it's good to be back home again; Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend; Yes, 'n, hey it's good to be back home again ... [John Denver - Back Home Again (as covered by John Fogerty)]

When you first hear John Fogerty's voice it always takes you back to hearing Creedence Clearwater Revival's classic songs. From 1968 to 1971 CCR produced an impressive number of hit songs that stand among the greats. From Fortunate Son to Proud Mary, John Fogerty and the band were in the zone. By 1972 it all came crashing down for CCR; Fogerty and the band fell out over the usuall stuff, the song writer always make more than the band, the band wants more input, well you know the rest...they split up and never got back together.

In 1973 John Fogerty began his solo career with a sort of country rock band and album entitled The Blue Ridge Rangers. It was very different from the CCR sound and the joke was there was no band; even though the cover shows a country band in silhouette, John played all the instruments and sang all parts. The songs were country standards by Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Merle Haggard and even old tradional songs.

Well it's 2009, 36 years later and John Fogerty has released the follow up with the title The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again. On this cd, John is backed by a tight band that includes among others Buddy Miller and Kenny Arnoff. The songs are well chosen country and country rock songs that are suited for the "voice".

The cd starts off with John Prine's Paradise and flows along into Delaney and Bonnie's Never Ending Song of Love. The Eagles' Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit guest on Ricky Nelson's Garden Party. Other standouts include Buck Owen's I Don't Care (Just As Long As You Love Me), John Denver's Back Home Again and a fun cover of Jumpin' Gene Simmons' Haunted House. The cd closes with a cover of The Everly Brothers When Will I Be Loved that features the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen.

The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again is like going home again to the old homeplace. Hey, it's good to be home again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Very Scary Mix Monday

Hear me now! I was born 13th child, 'neath the 13th moon; Spit out hungry and born anew; Daddy drag me to the river tie me in rocks; Throw me in where it's deep and wide; I go down, I don't die... (Bruce Springsteen - A Night With The Jersey Devil)

  • Bruce Springsteen - A Night With the New Jersey Devil
The Jersey Devil is a legendary creature that is supposed to live in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. Read here for it's history or watch the following to see it come to life.

Bruce Springsteen - A Night With The Jersey Devil (Official Music Video) - Awesome video clips here

Richard Thompson was a member of Fairport Convention back in the late 60's/early 70's. This song is from his 1985 solo album Across a Crowded Room. Bonnie Raitt recorded a killer version of this song.

How could you have a list of Halloween type songs and not include this song by the late Warren Zevon.

From the excellent cd OK Computer, Radiohead gives us the story with "Up above Aliens hover making home movies for the folks back home".

  • John Fogerty - Haunted House

The original 1964 hit recording was done by Tupelo, Mississippi native and Sun Recording artist Jumping Gene Simmons. The song originally written by Johnny Fuller can be found on the new John Fogerty cd. Hey, that's Buddy Miller on guitar... that's scarey man.

I've always liked this song, but found it to be a bit unsettling. It was used in the excellent vampire movie The Lost Boys.

This song just creeps me out completely.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kings of Rupp

I've been roaming around, I was looking down at all I see; painted faces fill the places I can't reach; You know that I could use somebody... (The Kings of Leon - Use Somebody)

The Kings of Leon invaded Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY last night (10/10/09) and played to an estatic crowd of about 10,000. The audience stood for the entire show and sang along to most of the songs.

KOL dipped heavily into their most recent and last years suprise success Only By The Night, leading off with Closer, Crawl & Be Somebody. The show steamrolled into some older material Taper Jean Girl and Molly's Chamber. The show moved at an amazing pace and each song felt like a classic. The screen overhead flashed live scenes with pre-arranged graphics and images seamlessly which greatly added to the overall show. The highlights were numerous; the fun Taper Jean Girl; the rocking Molly's Chamber and the powerful Sex on Fire. The house came down during the encore and Use Somebody was played, everyone sang and danced. Last night in Rupp they were the Kings.


  • Closer
  • Crawl
  • Be Somebody
  • Taper Jean Girl
  • Molly's Chambers
  • Fans
  • Revelry
  • I Want You
  • Charmer
  • Four Kicks
  • The Bucket
  • Sex on Fire
  • Notion
  • On Call
  • Cold Desert
  • Slow Night, So Long
  • Knocked Up
  • Manhattan
  • Use Somebody
  • Black Thumbnail

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Relatives of Jack White

I change my mind every time that the wind blows; Don't know what happens, don't know where the time goes; I feel a whole lot better when you come around... (Brendan Benson - A Whole Lot Better)

A couple of recent Jack White related releases have caught my ear; Brendan Benson's An Old Familiar Friend and The Dead Weather's Horehound (another Jack White side project).

Brendan Benson is the co-lead singer/guitarist and Jack White's partner in crime in The Raconteurs. Benson's new cd My Old Familiar Friend is his fourth solo cd and while it may echo The Raconteurs it definitely stands on it's own. Benson's songs are laced with 1970's style hooks that only after a few nibbles you feel yourself being reeled in. The cd leads off with, A Whole Lot Better, 3 minutes of pure perfect pop; Gonowhere displays a kind of Paul McCartney & Wings feel; Garbage Day harkens back to Motown glory; Eyes on the Horizon displays the kind of paranoia that only Ray Davies of The Kinks could write; Misery is another instant winner. My Old Familiar Friend is just that, it somehow instantly feels like you know these songs in a nice fresh way.

The Dead Weather is a whole other thing; a kind of alternative rock supergroup comprised of Jack White (on drums), Alison Mosshart from The Kills (on vocals), Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age (on guitar) and Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs (on bass). This is sort of anti-pop, heavy blues, like a modern Led Zeppelin. The cd requires numerous listens to absorb whats happening, but it is worth the effort. The highlights for me are Treat Me Like Your Mother, Will There Be Enough Water, Rocking Horse.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mix Monday: Beatle Covers

One thing I can tell you is you got to be free; come together right now over me... (The Beatles - Come Together) The Beatles are back in the news with new mixes of all their albums (cds) and the Rock Band video game. This is probably the most exciting Beatles week since the release of the Anthology cds back in the 90's.

I've been thinking about all the recent covers of Beatles songs and albums, from Jim James of My Morning Jacket doing a tribute to George Harrison songs to The Smithereens releasing 2 cds worth of Beatles songs; so for today's mix it's all about Beatle covers.

The Smithereens have played tribute to The Beatles on 2 full cds: 2007's Meet The Smithereens and 2008's B-Sides The Beatles. Both cd's are excellent and a review can be found here.

Jim James, leader of My Morning Jacket, under the pseudonym of Yim Yames has recently released a great little EP simply called Tribute To; the tribute is to the late great George Harrison. Buy it here.

In 2005 This Bird Has Flown, a 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles Rubber Soul was released. The tribute featured primarily indy or lesser known artists. One of the artists includes Rhett Miller whom I have been raving about lately.

Steve Earle played a sort of bluegrass version of the above Beatles song on his great 1995 acoustic outing Train A Comin'.

The 2001 Sean Penn movie "I Am Sam" featured an all Beatle cover soundtrack. The excellent soundtrack included Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder doing his best Lennon.

The musical film "Across the Universe" featured all Bealtes songs was released in 2007. The film had some fine moments, but overall was just ok; The highlight was seeing Bono play Dr. Robert and sing I Am the Walrus.

The great Ray Charles covered the Beatles on his 1968 album A Portrait of Ray.

Even Elvis Presley covered the Beatles. Here he does George's Something.

Another really bad musical film that inlcuded all Beatles music was 1978's "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". The film featured the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, along with many others. One of the songs featured Aerosmith.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Miller, Holsapple & Stamey: Not Attorneys At Law

And in these times, in these times, in these lonely, lonely times, I will sing along... (Rhett Miller - Sometimes)

Sometimes you get a nice surprise from a new CD release that maybe you weren't expecting. Case in point: 2 recent releases have me humming along; Rhett Miller's Rhett Miller and Peter Holapple and Chris Stamey's Here and Now. These CDs don't grab you by the throat and say listen to me, but they subtly tickle your ears and echo in your head.

Rhett Miller is the lead singer for the The Old 97's, the fantastic Texas alt-country band. This is his 3rd major solo release; the first was 2002's The Instigator, a superb and lively affair; his second, 2006's The Believer, was a bit of a let down for me; and now his 2009 release is a return to form. The CD's high points are many; Happy Birthday Don't Die is simply one of the best songs of the year; Caroline, If It's Not Love, Like Love, No One Say I Love You Anymore are strong compositions; Haphazardly and Sometimes are softer tunes that stay with you.

Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey were the main song writers and singers of The dBs, the outstanding 1980's college rock band from North Carolina. The dBs were on the cutting edge of the '80s southern pop tidal wave led by R.E.M., Lets Active, The Windbreakers, The Reiveres, etc... The dB's broke up in the late '80s, but in 1992, the duo reunited for Mavericks, their acoustic-folk debut. Mavericks was an excellent and memorable release. Now the guys are back with Here and Now. The high points are the hauntingly beautiful Santa Monica, the title track Here and Now, Early in the Morning and A Song For Johnny Cash. The CD also includes a couple of bonus tracks with the guys updating some DBs classics.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Steve Earle Does Opera

There's a full moon over Galway Bay tonight, silver light over green and blue and every place I travel through, I find Some kinda sign that you've been through... (Steve Earle - Ft. Worth Blues)

I caught Steve Earle's Townes Tour last Wednesday (8/26) at the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, KY. The show was the fifth Steve Earle show that I've seen over the years and not that atypical with just Steve and his guitars. Steve was in good form and seemed to be especially happy that it was a sold out concert. He said it was only the 3rd sell out on this tour, likely as a result of the economy and maybe the fact that half the concert he is playing someone else's songs (Townes Van Zandt).

Townes Van Zandt was an early and major influence on Steve and he did a fine job waxing poetically and sometimes colorfully about his late mentor and friend. The stories were amusing and the songs were sequenced nicely. A nice review of the show can be found here.

The setlist for the show is as follows (may be incomplete):

  • Where I Lead Me
  • Colorado Girl
  • Rex's Blues
  • Ft. Worth Blues
  • Pancho and Lefty
  • Brand New Companion
  • Tom Ames
  • My Old Friend the Blues
  • Someday
  • Taneytown
  • Goodbye
  • Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold
  • Marie
  • City of Immigrants
  • Dixieland
  • Jerusalem
  • The Mountain
  • Lungs
  • To Live Is To Fly
  • Harlan Man
  • Copperhead Road

Steve's wife Allison Moorer opened the show with a nice set of her own. She is a fine singer songwriter and should not be missed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Review: Steve Earle - Townes

Ah, lord, Im gonna ramble 'till I get back to where I came... (Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle - White Freightliner Blues)

Steve Earle's lastest CD Townes was released in May of this year, but I have waited until now to write a review. Well, for one reason it has taken a while to fully digest, but the other is that I am going to see Steve in concert in a few weeks and I have been re-listening to the CD.

Steve has been one of my favorite singer/songwriters since I first heard Guitar Town back in 1986. It has been a satisfying ride along the way no matter the genre, from country to folk to rock to americana to bluegrass. Steve's strength has always been his songwriting. On Townes, he pays homage to his mentor and friend, the late Townes Van Zandt by covering 15 of his songs.

Van Zandt was always a big influence on Steve. I've read and heard the recount of how Steve was heckled by Townes when he was a young Texas country singer; "play the Wabash Cannonball" as Steve broke into his own rendition of Towne's Mr. Mud and Mr. Gold to quiet him down. After Townes' death in 1997, Steve wrote and recorded the very moving Ft. Worth Blues in his honor. Steve's oldest son, Justin Townes Earle, is even named for him. So this album of covers was not unexpected.

  • The CD starts out with Poncho and Lefty. This is Townes' most famous song because Willy Nelson & Merle Haggard's hit record. The song has been covered by others including Emmylou Harrison, Hoyt Axton and Delbert McClinton among others. Steve does a straight ahead reading of the song with just an acoustic guitar and his voice.
  • Next up is the bluegrass sounding White Freightliner Blues. A solid song about rambling along the these roads from town to city; along the tradition of Woody Guthrie.
  • Contiuing along the lonesome highway, Colorado Girl is tender song again with just Steve and his guitar. The singer yearns to see his lady in Dever.
  • The bluesy Where I Lead Me seems to be about the struggles with ones own inner voice. The voice inside is struggling with staying or leaving.
  • Lungs is the most rocking song from the CD with a sound similar to that from Steve's last CD Washington Square. This is Townes' poetry about fighting with his inner demons (which seems to be a theme in his work) "Salvation sat and crossed herself called the devil partner; Wisdom burned upon a shelf who'll kill the raging cancer".
  • In No Place To Fall, a slow tempo song, the singer is trying to convice his lover to let him stay, "I ain’t much of a lover it’s true, I’m here then I’m gone and I’m forever blue, but I’m sure wanting you".
  • Loretta is sort of an irish jig, about Loretta the barroom queen; "Her age is always 22, Her laughing eyes a hazel hue, Spends my money like water falls, Loves me like I want her to".
  • Brand New Companion is a straight blues song about a new love interest -"She fits just like my guitar, Shes near as tall as me, She lives way out the d train, But shes texas as can be".
  • The very poweful Rake again shows the poetry of Townes Van Zandt. The central theme of relationships again is on display here.
  • Delta Mamma Blues is another bluegrass sounding song.
  • The folk song Marie is a tear jerker; another powerful song from the Woody Guthrie book of songwriting. The story of a homeless man earnestly trying to take care of his family.
  • The bluegrass song Don't Take It Too Bad is a ditty with the message that sometimes things don't work out.
  • Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold is sung with Steve's son, Justin Townes Earle, named after his mentor. The song is an epic tale apparently about a card game. The length lyrics are hard to follow, but the conclusion is "Now here's what this story's told: You feel like Mudd, you'll end up Gold; Feel like lost, you'll end up found, so Amigo, lay them raises down".
  • (Quicksilver Daydreams of) Maria is a folkish ballad describing his love for Maria.
  • To Live is To Fly is another powerful ballad sung with his wife Allison Moorer. The lyrics are about really living -"To live is to fly, low and high, So shake the dust off of your wings and the sleep out of your eyes.".

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mountain Stage: Holsapple & Stamey

If there ever was a time we had better get it right it had better be tonight, right here and now... (Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey - Right Here and Now)

I got to see a live taping of the Mountain Stage show this past weekend! The live radio show from out of Charleston, WV is hosted by Larry Groce. The show features 5 artists that may range from rock, blues, folk, bluegrass, gospel or whatever. Each artist plays about 5 or 6 songs with the headliner maybe getting an extra one or so. They close out the show with all the artists performing a standard. It is a very nice show and I recommend the show if you have the opportunity.

This was my second Mountain Stage show in the last few years. The first show that I saw was back in May 2008 and the headliner was Kim Richey. That show is in the Mountain Stage archives here.

The show this past weekend featured Nanci Griffith, Todd Snider, The Greencards, Ashleigh Flynn & Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey. I've been a fan of Nanci Griffith since I fist heard her Other Voice, Other Rooms; her album of covers from 1993. I've wanted to see Todd Snider for a while now and his set was a treat. The Greencards and Ashleigh Flynn played fine sets as well. I was most excited about seeing Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey.

Back in the summer of 1984 I was studying in Colorado. One of my classmates that I traveled out west with introduced me to a new band, The dB's. Their sound was fresh, their songs, mostly love gone bad, were clever and funny. Their singers had unique voices. Their main singer/song writers were Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey. They had (and still have) a kind of Lennon-McCartney thing going on; a kind of yen and yang. The dB's made 2 great records 1981's Stands For Decibels and 1982's Repercussions. Chris Stamey left the band just as they had landed a bigger record deal. Although The dB's continued for a few more records without Stamey, the band suffered without his songs and vocals.

I followed Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey from afar. I have actually seen Peter a few times as he was a sideman with R.E.M. and Hootie and the Bowfish. Peter has recorded several albums with the Continental Drifters, a collection of like minded artists including Vicki Peterson formerly of The Bangles and Susan Cowsill of The Cowsills. Chris has recorded as a solo artist and has worked as a producer with such artists as Whiskeytown and Alejandro Escovedo among others. In 1992 Holsapple and Stamey released their first duet CD Mavericks; a very underrated and solid album.

Holsapple and Stamey are back with a new collection of songs entitled Here and Now. I read a very good review of the CD here. During the Mountain Stage taping they performed 5 songs (I think), all from Here and Now. They opened with "Early in the Morning" and the powerful "Santa Monica". They also played "Long Time Coming" and "A Song For Johnny Cash". A short but very nice set. These guys really gel together and here's to hoping they play together for many more years. Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey - Here and Now