Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas From the Corner

I just wanna say ... merry Christmas baby and happy new year too... (Bruce Springsteen - Merry Christmas Baby)

From the Corner ...I just wanna say merry Christmas to everyone and happy new year!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter Song

And late December can drag a man down; You feel it deep in your gut; Short days and afternoons spent pottering around in a dark house with the windows painted shut... (Foutains of Wayne - Valley Winter Song)

It seem like over the past few Christmas seasons a new/really good version of a Christmas tune or a new seasonal song pops up. Last winter I discovered Fountain of Wayne's Valley Winter Song. The song really takes me back to those "snow days" of my youth for some reason.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Robert Plant's Band of Joy

It's like a radio turning way down low, telling me things I do not know I know; Tonight you will be mine; Tonight the monkey dies... (Robert Plant - Monkey)

I'm still taking in all the new Springsteen stuff and I will blog about it soon. In the meantime I wanted to talk about another CD that is great but maybe under the radar a bit. Robert Plant's new one is Band of Joy.

Robert Plant is one of the great voices of rock and roll. Led Zeppelin's music still sounds vital today. However, since the 70's Plant's music has been spotty. In the 80's & 90's he turned out an occasional solo record or a collaboration with some of his chronies like Jimmy Page or Jeff Beck (Honeydrippers) with mixed results.

Recently Robert Plant has reinvented himself; starting with his 2007's Raising Sand, the duet album with Alison Kraus and produced by super producer T Bone Burnett. That collaboration was a beautiful mix of 2 unique voices, a clever choice of covers, and an earthy production and playing that led to one of 2007's best releases.

Plant's latest release Band of Joy follows in that vein. Production credit for the CD goes to Buddy Miller along with Plant and once again the result is an earthy sounding collection of songs; almost all covers from the likes of Los Lobos, Richard Thompson, Townes Van Zandt and others. The band featuring Buddy Miller on guitar/vocals, Patty Griffin on vocals/guitar, Darrell Scott on vocals/mandolin/guitar/accordion/pedal/lap steel/banjo, Byron House on bass and Marco Giovino on percussion bring a rich sound perfectly suited for Plant's brilliant vocals.

The CD opens with Los Lobos's Angel Dance (from their great album Kiko); this version is unique enough to sound fresh without taking anything from the original; You Can't Buy My Love sounds like the long lost Elvis record from Viva Las Vegas or Little Less Conversation era; Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday and Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down, old tradional songs, Plant and Miller make them relevant for today; Silver Rider and Monkey, by Alan Sparhawk and others from the band Low, sung with Patty Griffith are hauntingly beautiful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Whip It Good!

Pay no attention to them haters, because I will whip them all... (Young/Springsteen - Whip My Hair)

I drove over an hour last night to buy the Darkness on the Edge of Town box set. I haven't had time to digest it all (3 cds and 3 dvds). However in the meantime I just found this nugget on youtube. A classic from about 1975 or so, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen

Jimmy Fallon does a great Neil Young, that is so funny....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Classic Album Rewind: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king and a king ain't satisfied till he rules everything... (Bruce Springsteen - Badlands)

I'm getting very exciting anticipating the Darkness on the Edge of Town Box Set due this Tuesday. Let me just say that Darkness is my favorite album, along with Born to Run, of all time. In honor of the release I thought I would review why this is such a classic album.

If you are at all familiar about Bruce Springsteen, you know that after the breakthrough of Born to Run in 1975, Bruce went through a court battle with his manager at the time Mike Appel. During this three year ordeal Bruce wrote and recorded a lot of material, but did not release anything until 1978 and his follow up was Darkness. If Born to Run was Bruce's grand statement, Darkness was the mature response.

I grew up in the album era of music and there was a certain art to formatting the song order. For example the lead songs on each side were important and set the stage for each side. Alot of records may have had one good lead track in which case the other side didn't get played as much. The closing track on each side was nearly as important. Both Darkness and Born to Run, more than any records, had great starting and ending songs on each side.

Badlands - Classic Bruce; great lyrics, the band never sounded better, especially Max on this one, great clarence solo and guitar solo. A great song, that just inspires. The lyrics are classic; "I believe in the faith that could save me. I believe in the hope and I pray that some day it will raise me above these Badlands..."; this is always great in concert.

Adam Raised a Cain - This angst ridden ditty about the son returning home and realizing that "we're born into this life paying for somebody else's past". This is some of the most powerful vocals by Bruce ever caught on record. The guitar work is equally as impressive.

Something in the Night - The most underated Bruce song ever. I love this one. Bruce at his most emotional and vulnerable; "You're born with nothing and better off that way, Soon as you've got something they send someone to try and take it away". A great song to listen in a car; "I take her to the floor, looking for a moment when the world seems right".

Candy's Room - Awesome; this song hits you right in gut, with Gary Talents driving bass lines. The harmony singing with Bruce (by Bruce) makes the hairs stand up on your neck. The lyrics are great; you're not quiet sure if the singer is being cocky or just trying to convince himself; "She has fancy clothes and diamond rings, She has men who give her anything she wants, but they dont see, That what she wants is me".

Racing in the Street - This is the kind of song that Bruce is famous for, the story song. The song is beautiful ballad played on the piano; I love when the organ kicks in. The lyrics is a tale of street racer who meets a girl at one of this races. No happy ending here, they slowly drift away; "She sits on the porch of her Daddy's house, but all her pretty dreams are torn, She stares off alone into the night with the eyes of one who hates for just being born". Another cool thing about this song is that it is kind of the third in the street trilogy song: one being Martha & the Vandellas Dancing in the Street; two being The Rolling Stone's Fighting in the Streets. They all have the lyrics "summer is here and the time is right for _______ in the Street".

The Promised Land - Side 2 opens with Bruce on the harmonica and the fantastic Promise Land. This song is so hopeful and looking forward,"Working all day in my daddy's garage, driving all night chasing some mirage, pretty soon little girl I'm gonna take charge" and "There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor, I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm, Gonna be a twister to blow everything down that ain't got the faith to stand its ground". Another concert favorite.

Factory - This is the second song on Darkness about Bruce relationship with his father. The story is about how the factory gave men like his father reason to get up in the morning, a reason to live, but at the same time it seem to take something from them, like their soul. This song really tells why Bruce was so inspired to become a rock and roll singer and writer.

Streets of Fire - A lot of Bruce's song on this album sound like movie titles. Case in point, Streets of Fire. This is another emotionally, raw nerve song. Bruce lays it all out there "I live now, only with strangers, I talk to only strangers, I walk with angels that have no place".

Prove It All Night - This song just explodes after the slower Streets of Fire. The lyrics are about living in this very moment "You hear the voices telling you not to go, they made their choices and they'll never know what it means to steal, to cheat, to lie what it's like to live and die". Another song that really comes to life in concert.

Darkness on the Edge of Town - A great closing song. Another song about laying it all on the line, everything, one moment; "Tonight I'll be on that hill 'cause I can't stop, I'll be on that hill with everything I've got, Well lives on the line where dreams are found and lost". Bruce with some incredible insight; "Well everybody's got a secret Sonny, something that they just can't face, Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it, They carry it with them every step that they take, Till some day they just cut it loose, Cut it loose or let it drag 'em down".

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Concert Season: A Few Tricks, But Mostly Treats

I am a breathing time machine, I'll take you all for a ride... (The Avett Brothers - Laundry Room)

I have been to several concerts lately:

The first was Alejandro Escovedo along with The Incurables at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington, KY on 10/19/2010. Alejandro was in support of his recent great release Street Songs of Love (which was recorded in Lexington and some of the artwork shot at the Kentucky Theatre). This was a special show with Alejandro and the Sensitive Boys (or Sincere Boys as the tickets read and Alejandro joked) in great form. The band was awesome; bassist Bobby Daniel, drummer Hector Munoz, and especially guitarist David Pulkingham.

Alejandro was warm and funny, sounded even better. The show featured songs from Street Songs including: The Bed is Getting Crowded, Anchor, Down in the Bowery, Fort Worth Blue and Street Songs; and older songs like: Rosalie, Castanets, Always a Friend and Chelsea Hotel '78 to mention a few. This was one of the best shows that I've seen this year.

Additionaly the show opened with a St. Louis band called The Incurables who were lead by charismatic frontman Jimmy Griffin. Their portion of the show was excellent and I look forward to future recordings by this band.

The next show was The Avett Brothers along with Grace Potter and The Nocturnals in Huntington, WV on October 24.

This was my first Avett Brothers show and what a treat. The show was a high energy spectacle of the Brothers unique music. The audience was more familiar with their music than I was having only heard I and Love and You, but that didn't dim my enjoyment.

The highlights for me were Kick Drum Heart, January Wedding and I and Love and You.

The most recent show was Bob Dylan on his Never Ending Tour at Northern Kentucky University on 11/3. Dylan's current band includes the fantastic guitarist Charlie Sexton, who is very entertaining. Dylan played a very good setlist that included some of my favorites: It's All Over Now Baby Blue, Lovesick, Man in a Long Black Coat, Cold Irons Bound and from Highway 61 Revisited: Desolation Row, Highway 61 Revisited, Ballad of a Thin Man, and of course Like a Rolling Stone. Dylan was more animated that I've seen him before and at age 69 he still seems as enigmatic as ever.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Don't Worry About A Thing

Don't worry about a thing, Cause every little thing gonna be all right... (Bob Marley - Three Little Birds)

I have a friend who is going throught some medical things and I wanted to wish her the best through music. That is one of the great things about music, it can give you a small lift or at least make you feel like you are not alone. The genre doesn't matter; a good song is a good song. Music can span time and distances.

This one's for you. I believe that things will work out. You are one of the strongest people I know. Life will return back to normal soon!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Street Songs in American Slang

Everybody's got to dance with the blues sometimes... (Alejandro Escovedo - Down in the Bowery)

There's a couple of discs that have been out for a few months that deserve mention here: Alejandro Escovedo's Street Songs of Love and The Gaslight Anthem's American Slang. I've been slow about blogging about these, but they both deserve some raves.

I've been listening to Street Songs of Love for a while now and a couple of things that stand out. First of all this disc has a Springsteenish feel and I noticed that Alejandro is managed by John Landau (Bruce's manager). Additionaly Bruce makes an appearence on the song Faith. The second thing is the background singing by Karla Manzur and Nakia Reynoso is some of the best that I've heard in a long time. I also wanted to mention that the disc was recorded at Saint Claire Recording Company in Lexington, KY (just up the road; that is exciting).

Street Songs of Love sounds like s a new classic with a nice mix of both rockers and ballads. The cd starts with Anchor, a rocking love song that makes you want to sing a the top of your lungs with the windows rolled down; This Bed is Getting Crowded is another loud upbeat song with clever lyrics; Down in the Bowery is a slower number and a highlight as this duet features Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter; After the Meteor Shower is a gorgeous ballad; Tula brings you back to your feet; Fall Apart With You is another beautiful song with a nice sentiment; Faith is another rocker and as I said previously features Bruce Springsteen.

The other new disc is The Gaslight Anthem's American Anthem. If you never heard these New Jersey guys they sound sort of like the Ramones meet Springsteen. The highlights of the cd include The Queen of Lower Chelsea, the title track, American Slang, Star Lucky and Boxer.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

911: Never Forget

May your strength give us strength; May your faith give us faith; May your hope give us hope; May your love give us love... (Bruce Springsteen - Into the Fire)

This is a music blog and not a political blog, but as an American this day needs to be remembered always. Freedom is a wonderful and we take it for granted.

With that said back to the music; in 2002 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band released an album that was sort of a tribute to those that fell on that horible day. The album was the first with the E Street gang since 1985. The Rising was a beautiful statement, hitting the right tone, speaking of the courage and strength of those who died.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kings, Keys & Whigs

She's such a charmer, oh no; she's looking at me... (Kings of Leon - Charmer)

I saw a hot show in Cincinnati, OH at the Riverbend Music Center (my favorite venue) on Saturday (9/04): The Whigs, The Black Keys and the Kings of Leon.

It was almost exactly a year ago that I saw the Kings of Leon in Lexington, KY. The Kings still touring in support of 2008's break through Only By the Night, played 8 of the 11 songs from that cd. They also teased us with an new tune, Pyro, from their fourthcoming new CD Come Around Sundown (to be released October 19). The Kings provided many highlights, but my new favorite Kings song and highlight was Charmer from 2007's Because of the Times.

The nights middle act was the Black Keys, who's latest CD Brothers has been in my CD player all summer long. The Keys were amazing playing a portion of the set with only the two members vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney. Two additional musicians assisted on the remaining portion of the show. The standouts for me were Tighten Up and 10 Cent Pistol.

The opening act was The Whigs, a trio from Athens, GA (a very musical enriched city). The Whigs played a short energetic set of southern garage rock. Lead guitarist Parker Gispert entertained with his balancing on one leg guitar playing. This band requires further listening.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Darkness on the Edge of Town

I'll be there on time and I'll pay the cost, For wanting things that can only be found in the darkness on the edge of town... (Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town)

Finally we get word on the release date that I have been really excited about all year. Columbia records will release the 3 cd/3 dvd set The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story from Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band on November 16. Disc 1 is a remastered Darkness on the Edge of Town. Discs 2 & 3 are unreleased music from this era. DVD disc 1 is the documentary on the making of the album. DVD discs 2 & 3 are live music from the Darkness era, as well as a recent show that featured all Darkness music.

First of all let me say that Darkness on the Edge of Town was originally released in 1978. I did not hear it until around 1980 after I really started getting into Springsteen. Since this time my favorite album of all time has sort of alternated between Darkness and Born to Run.

Two discs of unreleased material will be the most exciting Springsteen release since Tracks in 1999. I expect this one will be in my cd player in my car and on my ipod for a long time. Read more about it here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Springsteen: It Takes Two

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

Bruce Springsteen has played with many other artists over the years. He has played the likes of Roy Orbison, Gary U.S. Bonds, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Moore, artists that certainly influenced him. He has played with his contemporaries like Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp, R.E.M., U2, John Fogerty, to name a few. He has also shows up on occasion with the next generation of artists including Jessie Malin and most recently The Gaslight Anthem.

Some of these collaborations turn into recordings. It seems like the frequency of this has increased as of recent years. Bruce sings on a new track from Alejandro Escovedo's excellent new record Street Songs of Love and on the song Faith.

Here is a partial listing of some recent tracks that Bruce has appeared on:

  • Alejandro Escovedo – Faith (2010)
  • Rosanne Cash – Sea of Heartbreak (2009)
  • John Fogerty - When Will I Be Loved (2009)
  • Alejandro Escovedo - Always a Friend (2008)*
  • RogerMcGuinn - Turn! Turn! Turn! (2008)*
  • Tom Morello - The Ghost of Tom Joad (2008)*
  • Jessie Malin – Broken Radio (2007)
  • Jerry Lee Lewis – Pink Cadillac (2006)
  • Warren Zevon - Disorder in the House (2003)
  • Warren Zevon - Prison Grove (2003)
  • Emmylou Harris – One Big Love (2000)
  • John Prine – Take a Look at My Heart (1991)
*Live Recordings from Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band's ep Magic Tour Highlights

A complete list can be found on Matt's Bruce Springsteen Discography

Here are a few videos that feature some of these songs:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Disco Strikes Back

But when all is said and done I know you are still the one, You're the only one... (The Black Keys - The Only One)

I lived through the disco era and frankly I wasn't a fan of the polyester suit, the flashing strobes or the off-beat bass line. However I can admit now that there was a few good songs that came out of that peroid (not many). So here we are in 2010 and this is the 3rd year in a row that song with a Disco feel has caught my ear.
In 2008 it was My Morning Jacket's Touch Me I'm Going To Scream part II;

...last year it was U2's Magnificent.

...and now this year The Black Keys The Only One.

This song reminds me of George McCrae's 70 disco hit Rock Your Baby.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New York, New York

Livin’ in a city that never sleeps, My heart keepin’ time to a thousand beats;
Singin’ in languages I don’t speak, Livin’ in a city of immigrants... (Steve Earle - City of Immigrants)

I just got home from visiting New York, New York (what an amazing place). I got to see all the major sites; The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, The Museum of Natural History, 2 Broadway shows, Central Park, etc...

In Central Park I walked through Strawberry Fields, the area dedicated to John Lennon. According to the Central Park web page, the area was a favorite of John and Yoko who just lived across the street in Dakota Building. This area is now designated as a quiet place in John's memory.

Another place I saw that has Beatles history was the Ed Sullivan Theater. Of course now it is the home to The Late Show with David Letterman, but in February 1964 this was the site of rock and roll history.

Here are a few of my favorite artists paying homage to the city of New York.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer 2010

The theme of this party's the industrial age and you came in dressed like a train wreck... (The Hold Steady - The Weekenders)

I love summertime and summer music. There's just something about listening to music with the window down or the top open rolling down the road. There's some good music out there right now and here is what I'm currently listening to this summer of 2010.

The Hold Steady - Heaven Whenever

The cover of The Hold Steady's 2008 cd Stay Positive was an old looking photo of a drive-in movie theater, an apt cover. Listening to a Hold Steady song is like watching an old grainy movie; Craig Finn's singing is like a narration of a film. The Hold Steady sound is 2 parts Wild & Innocent/Born to Run era E Street Band, 1 part Elvis Costello with a dash of punk attitude.

However, the sound on their latest cd Heaven is Whenever is a bit of a departure. They no longer have the sweeping keyboard sound from Franz Nicolay who departed from the band earlier in the year. The new sound takes them further away from the old E Street Band sound and closer to a guitar dominated sound. The opening song is the fine The Sweet Part of the City, a tale of earlier days of the singer; On The Weekenders the band really hit their stride in the chorus with their great background vocals; the song seems to be about a bad event that kind of ruined a friendship; other winner includes Hurricane J and Our Whole Lives. Heaven is Whenever is solid, but not quite at the level of either 2006's Boys and Girls in America or 2008's Stay Positive.

The Band of Horses - Infinite Arms

The Band of Horses harmony vocal give the Horses their unique sound. They have been building momentum with their first 2 releases 2006's Everything All the Time and 2007's Cease to Begin and with great songs like The Funeral and Is There a Ghost. Now in full gallop the Horses release their major label release on Columbia records Infinite Arms. Their sound is basically the same, but songs are more consistent and even.

The cd begins Factory a song that would sound at ease on the radio, with is classical string arrangement and estranged love story lyrics; Compliments immediately changes the direction with a fast pace rocker; others like NW Apt reminds me a bit of Kings of Leon's Taper Jean Girl; the upbeat Dilly and the country tinged Older have really tight harmonies. Infinite Arms should be on your playlist.

The Black Keys - Brothers

The Black Keys are a blues rock duo from Akron, OH who have been around on the Indie circuit for about 10 years. Their latest release is Brothers a terrific blend of blues, rhythm, old and new school rock.

Brothers opens with Everlasting Life a song that finds it's groove immediately; two terrific songs Next Girl and Tighten Up follow; The Only One is a great tune that strangely brings George McCrae's Rock Your Baby to mind; Sinister Kid is another solid song. Brothers is solid throughout and maybe the cd of the summer.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Sandy the fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight, Forcin' a light into all those stoned-out faces left stranded on this warm July... (Bruce Springsteen - 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy))

Happy 4th of July everyone. America is a great country and freedom is an awesome thing. Our music often reflects the mood of the people:

Music as a celebration: Ray Charles - God Bless America; Bruce Springsteen - 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy); Woody Guthrie - This Land is Your Land; Charlie Daniels Band - In America, Chicago - Saturday in the Park; Johnny Cash - Ragged Old Flag; what would a list like this be without The Beach Boys - Surfin' USA

Music as protest: Bob Dylan - With God On Our Side, Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A., John Mellencamp - Face of the Nation; John Mellencamp - Justice and Independence; I could also include Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land here also, because at it's very heart it is a protest song.

Another great Bruce Springsteen song I like to revisit on this day is Indepence Day; a song about a son becoming independent from his parents.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Flood of New Music

Heaven is whenever we can get together; sit down on your floor, and listen to your records...(The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever)

Early this year I was disappointed in the lack of new interesting music and I wrote about it in 2010: What's In Store. Then a few cds began to trickle out, like the terrific Broken Bells debut. Now the trickle has became a flood. Here is a list of new releases and future new releases:

  • The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards
  • The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
  • The New Pornographers - Together
  • Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
  • The Sadies - Darker Circles
  • John Prine - In Person & Onstage (Tuesday, May 25)
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Mojo (June 15)
  • John Mellencamp - On the Rural Route 7609 (Box Set) (June 15)
  • The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang (June 15)
  • Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine (June 22)
  • Alejandro Escovedo - Street Songs of Love (June 29)
  • Los Lobos - Tin Can Trust (August 3)

In addition to these, U2's Songs of Ascent and the Darkness on the Edge of Town box set from Bruce Springsteen are expected some time this year. 2010 is shaping up after all.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Broken Bells: One of the Best This Year

Use your intuition, it's all you've got... (Broken Bells - The Malls and Misery)

My favorite cd of the year so far is Broken Bells by Broken Bells. The question is who the heck are the Broken Bells. James Mercer of The Shins and musician/producer Dangerous Mouse met in 2004 at a Danish music festival and being fans of each others works decided to record together. In 2008 they finally got together in the studio and started recording as the Broken Bells. The result is a great blend of The Shins quirky melodies and lyrics with the experimental/hip-hop (trip-hop) of Dangerous Mouse previous works.

The cd opens with The High Road which starts with electronic swirling keyboards and then a hip-hop drum beat and when the singing starts it immediately evokes The Shins. Vaporize is powered by a driving organ, tight brushed drumming and very melodic bass; The Ghost Inside echoes the sound of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy (Gnarls Barkley was the name the band that Dangerous Mouse and Cee-Lo recorded under; Crazy was one of the best singles of 2006); The Mall and Misery is another winner that begins slow with a acoustic instruments and then breaks into an alluring tune with a great guitar sound.

Broken Bells is a solid recording with no low spots. The music is hypnotic and captivating.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Jayhawks: Big Star

I'm gonna be a big star someday... (The Jayhawks - Big Star)

Don't feel too bad. I sort of missed it too. The Jayhawks were a tremendous band, but never really made the impact that they should have. I didn't get on board until 2000 with the release of Smile, but with last years Music From the North Country - The Jayhawks Anthology release I have been revisiting this terrific band.

Here's a quick summary about the band. The Jayhawks formed in Minneapolis, MN in the mid-80's. The band consisted of Gary Louris (guitar & vocals), Mark Olson (guitar & vocals), Mark Perlman (bass & vocals) and Norm Rogers (drums). The Jayhawks music was sort of an off-shoot of the Flying Burrito Brothers/Byrds; kind of country rock, but a better description would be roots rock. Their early sound was marked by the fine harmony singing of Louris and Olson.

After a couple of small label recordings the Jayhawks signed with Def American. Their major label debut was 1992's Hollywood Town Hall which featured the song Waiting For the Sun. The song got quite a bit airplay and the video was in MTV's rotation. Then in 1995, the band released Tomorrow the Green Grass, which included their classic songs Blue and I'd Run Away. Another prominent song, Miss Williams Guitar; a song about singer/songwriter Victoria Williams. By the end of the year, Mark Olson left the band so that he could spend time and record with his future wife, Victoria Williams.

With the dynamic of the band changed,Gary Louris and company continued onward. The band now included Karen Grothberg (on piano and vocals), Tim O'Reagan (drums), Kraig Johnson (guitar) along with Louris and Perlman. The bands next release 1997's Sound of Lies, a great straight ahead under-rated rock album. In 2000 the Jayhawks went in a slight new direction with the Bob Ezrin produced popier Smile. The album featured new sounds for the Jayhawks, including synthesizers, drum loops, but enough harmony singing to make Brian Wilson smile. A New York Times critic said it best with the question "What If You Made a Classic and No One Cared? If the band didn't make their big breakout after this one, it may not happen.

The Jayhawks released their final album to-date in 2004, the excellent Rainy Day Music, a more acoustic/folky style. The album really showcased the writing and singing tallents of Gary Louris.

In a perfect world, the Jayhawks would have became the big stars that sang about in 1997.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We Want Monkeys!

My propeller won't spin and I can't get it started on my own... (Arctic Monkeys - My Propeller)

My computer has been sick and I am a bit behind blogging. I think I found a cure; there's an amazing amount of information (and misinformation) on the world wide web.

Well to catch up, last weekend I (along with my beautiful daughter) ventured to Covington, KY, just across the river from Cincinnati, OH to see the English band Arctic Monkeys. The concert site was The Madison Theater, a small theater with no seats except in the balcony. We made our way to the front row in the balcony.

A band from San Francisco called Sleepy Sun opened the show. Their sound was sort of 2 parts Pink Floyd and 1 part Grateful Dead with a dash of Jefferson Airplane. Sleepy Sun featured nice harmony singing from it's 2 main singers, a male and female.

The Arctic Monkeys took the stage around 9 or so with the familiar guitar sounds of Dance Little Liar. The Monkeys rolled through material from their three albums including Brianstorm, I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor and Potion Approaching. The crowd was appreciative, especially in the pit area where hands waved, fists pumped and crowd surfing started at every opportunity. My highlights were Crying Lightning and My Propeller from 2009's Humbug and Fluorescent Adolescent from 2007's My Worst Nightmare. At the end of the show at around 11 the crowd was left chanting WE WANT MONKEYS! All in all an excellent show.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Prine Time

Radio's on, windows rolled up and my mind's rolled down... (John Prine - Long Monday)

I got some exciting John Prine news today. First of all John is releasing a new live cd in May called In Person & On Stage! This will be John's third live cd, including 1988's John Prine Live and 1997's Live On Tour. The new disc includes some live tunes from John's last original cd 2005's Fair and Square and some exciting duets, including the hilarious In Spite of Ourself with Iris Dement and Angel From Montgomery with Emmylou Harris. To wet your appetite the song She is My Everything can be downloaded from here.

If that is not enought to satisfy your John Prine needs, Oh Boy Records is also releasing a John Prine tribute cd on June 22 entitled Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine. The contributing artists include Old Crow Medicine Show, Drive-By Truckers, Justin Townes Earle, Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket & The Avett Brothers, among others.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Alex Chilton

Lonely days are gone, I'm a-goin' home... (The Box Tops - The Letter)

I was saddened to hear that Alex Chilton had passed. He was taken to a hospital in New Orleans on March 17 and later that day died from an apparent heart attack. I was in college in the 80's and a friend introduced me to the music of Alex Chilton.

I found out that Alex was the voice behind the wonderful late 60's pop song The Letter by The Box Tops, the late 1960's band from Memphis, TN. The Box Tops played a sort of blue-eyed soul and had other hits with Cry Like a Baby and Soul Deep.

In the early 70's Alex was in the band Big Star who's importance isn't measured in their record sales, but in their influence on alternative music. Big Star played sort of a 70's power pop which influenced alot of the alternative/college music of the 80's.

The Replacements wrote a tribute song about him. "Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes 'round. They sing "I'm in love. What's that song? I'm in love with that song."

The Replacements - Alex Chilton

The Bangles cover Big Star's September Gurls

Wilco covers Big Star's Thriteen (My favorite Big Star song)

Alex, you will be missed.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Drive All Night

I swear I'll drive all night just to buy you some shoes and to taste your tender charms; And I just wanna sleep tonight again in your arms ... (Bruce Springsteen - Drive All Night)

From 1973 through about 1984, Bruce Springsteen was a very prolific song writer. In 1980 The River, Bruce's great double album was released. The album was a great mix of rockers and ballads. One of those great unsung ballads was a song called Drive All Night. In this song, the singer yearns to see his girl; not promising to buy her the moon, but vowing to her that he would drive all night just to buy her some shoes. Nothing is going to stand in his way; not snow; not rain; not wind.

I was recently checking out and saw this cover of that song. This is one of the best Bruce covers that I have ever heard. Awesome...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Better Things On The Way

Here’s wishing you the bluest sky and hoping something better comes tomorrow. Hoping all the verses rhyme and the very best of choruses to follow all the doubt and sadness; I know that better things are on the way... (The Kinks - Better Things)

I've recently read some exciting musical news:

Ray Davies has recently recorded some Kinks classics with various artists including Lucinda Williams, Alex Chilton (of Box Tops and Big Star fame), Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. Ray and Bruce recorded Better Things from The Kinks great, under-rated 1982 album Give the People What They Want. According to the albums will be finished in the next few months and will be released late this year or early next.

In other Springsteen news, I've read that the Darkness on the Edge of Town Box Set may be released sometime between "June and December" of this year. One of my favorite blogs, Blogness on the Dark Side of Town recently ran an interesting poll on the subject.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have just announced on their website the upcoming release of a new CD - Mojo. In addition they have announced a major North American Tour this summer. The tour will include a stop at one my favorite venues, Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, OH and The Drive-By Truckers will be the opening act for that particular show.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Who Were Those Guys?

The exodus is here; the happy ones are near; Let's get together before we get much older... (The Who - Baba O'Riley)

When I first heard that The Who had been selected to play the Superbowl halftime show I was a bit nervous. I thought that they might not be able to pull it off and stumble in front of over a hundred million television viewers. The halftime show has become a must play for the elite elder statesmen of rock; The Rolling Stones, U2, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Paul McCartney. The Who certainly were an elite band, but with only one album's worth of material released since 1982 (almost 30 years) and with only 2 of the original 4 band members still living, I think it is fair to say they are passed their prime. However with all that said, I believe The Who pulled it off!

Although the song choices were predictable (I guessed their set list before I heard any news), I was pleasantly suprised at Roger Daltrey's still powerful vocals and Pete Townshend's stage presence. I thought both looked great for men in their mid-60's. Also, late great drummer Keith Moon could never be replaced, but Ringo Starr's son Zac Starkey is the perfect drummer for the band (much better than Kenny Jones who played drums immediately after Moon's death). Starkey adds the punch and energy. Additionally the stage was awesome.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sunny on a Winters Day

Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain; Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain; The dark days are gone, and the bright days are here my Sunny one shines so sincere... (Bobby Hebb - Sunny)

The great song Sunny was a hit for Bobby Hebb in 1966. According to Wikipedia the song was written after 2 major event in Hebb's life, Hebb's older brother was killed in a knife fight outside a nightclub in their hometown of Nashville and after John F. Kennedy's murder. The song is one of the most covered songs of all times.

Another cover of the song has just been released. After last years great self-titled solo album Rhett Miller, Sunny by Rhett Miller is now available at the Old 97's.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Ghosts of Superbowl Halftimes Past

I don't follow rainbows, big dreams, brass rings; I've already captured mine, back when I was number 29... (Steve Earle - No. 29)

We are a week away from Superbowl XLIV and what should be a great football game. With the annual Superbowl comes the halftime show. Today let's look back at some of those highlights.

U2 (Superbowl 36)

Paul McCartney (Superbowl 39)

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Superbowl 42)

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (Superbowl 43)

Others worthy of mention are The Rolling Stones (Superbowl 40) and Prince (Superbowl 41). Here's to Superbowl 44 and The Who. Long Live Rock...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mix Monday: The Who

Listening to you, I get the music; Gazing at you, I get the heat; Following you, I climb the mountains, I get excitement at your feet... (The Who - Listening To You)

Today's Mix Monday is a tribute to one of my favorites The Who. As you probably know by now and I've mentioned this on several different blogs, The Who are playing the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV on February 7th. I've not read a playlist for the show or have heard any tips, but this is my prediction: (1) Baba O'Riley (great intro song); (2) Pinball Wizard (with maybe some lyric changes for football); (3) Who Are You (posslibly My Generation) ; (4) Won't Get Fooled Again (I think this one is a lock).

Today's Mix is more about the lesser know nuggets that this great band dropped throughout their career:

  • Join Together - As good as the early Who was I think they peaked between 197-1974 (or so). During this period they recorded Who's Next ('71) and Quadrophenia ('73) and some great singles and b-sides. Join Together from 1972 is one of those great singles.

  • The Seeker - This one is from 1970 and another nugget; "I asked Bobby Dylan, I asked The Beatles, I asked Timothy Leary, but he couldn't help me either"

  • Love Reign O'er Me - This powerhouse is from 1973's Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend's other great rock opera. Quadrophenia was the story of a teenage Mod trying to fit in.

  • Listening to You - This maybe my all time favorite song. It was the final song for 1969's rock opera Tommy. The song has taken on many forms; in concert Roger Daltrey became Tommy and this finale brought the house down; the song was played in their Woodstock set in 1969; this version is from the 1975 Tommy movie.

  • I Don't Even Know Myself - Recorded for Who's Next, but this little gem didn't make the cut; "Don't pretend that you know me 'cause I don't even know myself"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Classic Album Rewind: The Who - Who's Next

I'll sing my song to the wide open spaces, I'll sing my heart out to the infinite sea, I'll sing my visions to the sky high mountains, I'll sing my song to the free... (The Who - The Song is Over)

As you probably know by now The Who is playing the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV on February 7th. In preparation for the show I thought I would review one of their best records; Who's Next.

In 1971 The Who were at a turning point in their career having released the landmark rock opera Tommy in 1969 and playing the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York the same year. Who lead guitarist and main songwriter, Pete Townshend, was again experimenting with a theme-type album originally referred to as the Lifehouse project. The new release was to be a concept album set in the future. After several recording sessions the concept broke down. Record engineer Glyn Johns was brought to capture how the band sounded live.

Who's Next was a giant leap for The Who right out of the 1960's into the 1970's. The sound was fresh and edgy. Roger Daltrey singing was powerful; Keith Moon's drumming still gives me chills, John Entwistle's bass lines were melodic and Townshend guitar playing is the stuff of legends; Pete also embraced the then new synthesizer as if it was invented by him.

  • Baba O'Riley - A perfect lead off song; the song begins with the now famous synthesizer pattern that was created by Townshend as a result inputting life information of Indian mystic Meher Baba into a synthesizer (composer Terry Riley also influenced the track and thus it's title). The song kicks in with great drumming from Keith Moon and then Roger Daltrey's poweful voice; "Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals"...; followed by Townshend's power chords. The song concludes with the famous line "it's only teenage wasteland" and "they're all wasted".
  • Bargain - Roger Daltrey again sings with power and yearning, "I'd gladly lose me to find you, I'd gladly give up all I had, To find you I'd suffer anything and be glad"; The songs which at first glance appears to be a love song, but Townshend claims it was him seeking God - "I sit looking 'round I look at my face in the mirror, I know I'm worth nothing without you; And like one and one don't make two, One and one make one".
  • Love Ain't For Keeping - This songs feature great guitar, both acoustic and electric from Townshend and I love the John Entwistle bass runs in this one.
  • My Wife - The best John Entwistle song ever written. John also sings lead. The song is hilarious;"My life's in jeopardy, Murdered in cold blood is what I'm gonna be; I ain't been home since Friday night and now my wife is coming after me". The singer is running for his life from his jealous wife.
  • The Song is Over - The songs starts with a nice piano piece and Townshend singing. Then the song kicks in and Daltrey's voice takes over: "I'll sing my song to the wide open spaces"... Then the songs slow and Townshend croons "When I walked in through the door thought it was me I was looking for; She was the first song I ever sang, but it stopped as soon as it began". Great song.
  • Getting in Tune - Another powerful song; starts slowly with piano and a beautiful bass run by Entwistle; The songs builds and Daltrey's voice kicks in right in tune; "I've got it all here in my head, There's nothing more needs to be said; I'm just bangin' on my old piano, I'm getting in tune with the straight and narrow".
  • Going Mobile - Townshend sings this great tune about the open roads; "Keep me movin' over 50, Keep me groovin', Just a hippie gypsy" and "I don't care about pollution, I'm an air-conditioned gypsy; That's my solution, Watch the police and the tax man miss me, I'm mobile".
  • Behind Blue Eyes - This is a classic Who song. It starts out slow and melancholy with Roger and Pete harmonizing, then builds 'til you can hear the angst and fire in Roger's voice; "When my fist clenches, crack it open before I use it and lose my cool; When I smile, tell me some bad news before I laugh and act like a fool".
  • Won't Get Fooled Again - Maybe The Who's greatest song. The songs starts with the now famous synthesizer loop and explodes; "We'll be fighting in the streets with our children at our feet and the morals when they worship will be gone". This song contains the best drum solo of all times, the best scream in rock and roll history and the power chord may have been invented in this song. The song concludes with the great line "meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010: What's In Store

What's the world got in store for you... (Wilco - What's the World Got in Store)

I remember last year at this time I was really excited about the new music that was to be released and events in the upcoming months; a new Springsteen cd, Superbowl Halftime show and tour; also new cds and tours from Wilco and U2. I didn't get to see any of these acts live, but the music of 2009 lived up to my expectations.

Here I am a year later and 2010, at least early on, doesn't measure up. I've looked ahead at some of the early releases and nothing really jumps out. There are a few of interest: Vampire Weekend Contra (Tuesday), Eels End Times (1/19), Drive-By Truckers The Big To-Do (3/16) & The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights (3/16-I am pretty pumped about this one). However, later on it gets better with new CD's by U2, The Shins and The Hold Steady. It is suprising that U2 is planning to release a new CD so soon after last years brilliant No Line On the Horizon. Another one on my wish list for 2010 is the remastered/with extras Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town.

This year's Superbowl halftime show is another of my all time favorites The Who. This would have been a great choice 35 years ago, but The Who have not been The Who since the great drummer Keith Moon died in 1978 or at best since their farewell tour of 1982 with Kenny Jones on drums. It will still be nice to see Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend live.I'm sure there will be some suprise releases and something out of the blue. Anyway to quote the Who - Long Live Rock.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Best of 2009

The songs in your head are now on my mind; You put me on pause, I'm trying to rewind and replay... (U2 - No Line on the Horizon)

2009 will go down as a very good year in music for me. There were some fantastic CDs released, some really top notched songs, and I saw several really good shows. Let's start with my top 10 CDs of the year:

1. U2 - No Line on the Horizon - U2 completed the trifecta with their 3rd great album of the 00's. The cd was loaded with classic U2 sounds like the title track, the terrific Unknown Caller, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, Breathe, and some new twists: the soulful Moment of Surrender, the dance floor number Magnificent and the dreamy Fez-Being Born.

2. Wilco - Wilco (The Album) - Wilco continued in the vein of Sky Blue Sky and another outstanding batch of new songs; the great tune I'll Fight, the powerful One Wing, the paranoia meltdown of Bull Black Nova, the George Harrisonesque You Never Know to the fun lead off single Wilco (The Song).

3. Bruce Springsteen - Working On a Dream - Bruce and the gang recorded as was described as his White Album. Highlights include the Ennio Morricone influenced The Outlaw Pete, the River-like My Lucky Day, the Byrdsy Life Itself, the Beach Boysesque This Life, the inspiring title track and the sequal to Wild Billy's Circus Story and tribute to Danny The Last Carnival.

4. Rhett Miller - Rhett Miller - One of the suprise cds of the year was Rhett Miller's 3rd cd. After last year's Old 97's fine release of Blame It On Gravity, Rhett came back with another solid CD featuring: one of the best songs of the year Happy Bithday Don't Die, solid songs in Caroline, Like Love, If It's Not Love, the quieter Sometimes and Bonfire.

5. Brendan Benson - My Old Familiar Friend -Brendan Benson fresh off
duites with The Raconteurs recorded a fresh sounding pop CD: the should have been a hit single A Whole Lot Better, Misery, Eye on the Horizon, Garbage Day, Gonowhere with it's Wings era synthesiser, etc.

6. Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey - Now and Then
7. The Smithereens - The Smithereens Play Tommy
8. Steve Earle - Townes
9. Buddy & Julie Miller - Written In Chalk
10. John Fogerty - The Blue Ridge Rangers Ride Again

My favorite songs of the year are as follows:
  1. U2 - Unknown Caller
  2. U2 - Fez Being Born
  3. U2 - Magnificent
  4. Rhett Miller - Happy Birthday Don't Die
  5. Wilco - I'll Fight
  6. Wilco - One Wing
  7. Brendan Benson - A Whole Lot Better
  8. Bruce Springsteen - Life Itself
  9. U2 - No Line On the Horizon
  10. U2 - Moment of Surrender
  11. Brendan Benson - Misery
  12. U2 - I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
  13. Wilco - Bull Black Nova
  14. Bruce Springsteen - My Lucky Day
  15. Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey - Santa Monica
  16. Bruce Springsteen - The Last Carnival
  17. Wilco - Wilco (The Song)
  18. Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream
  19. Wilco - You Never Know
  20. Buddy & Julie Miller - Memphis Jane

My favorite show of the year was the Kings of Leon in Rupp Arena, Lexinton, KY on 10/10/09.