Friday, May 22, 2009

Classic Rock Videos

Bad Company- Shooting Star (live 1999)

Michael Fremer Review

I am very proud to continue our new feature (look for this every Friday), music reviews that are written by the senior contributing editor of Stereophile magazine- Michael Fremer. It has been a pleasure to speak with Michael and learn more about audio sound and equipment. In fact, his new DVD, "It's A Vinyl World, After All" has hit the shelves and is selling out very quickly. This is a must have for anybody who loves vinyl, it is a true masterpiece.

Additionally, make sure to stop by his site, and bookmark it for further exploration. I certainly want to thank Michael for the exclusive rights to reprint his fantastic material.

Jenny Lewis (recent release)
Acid Tongue

Warner Brothers 508668-1 1.5 LPs+CD

Produced by: Jenny Lewis, Johnathan Rice, Farmer Dave Scher and Jason Lader
Engineered by: N/A
Mixed by: n/a
Mastered by: Kevin Gray at AcousTech

Review by: Michael Fremer

Jenny Lewis can be coquettish, seductive, aggressive, sweet, warm, nostalgic, empathetic and, yes, acid tongued— though it’s a literal reference on the title tune.

Lewis displays all of those qualities and more on this smart set of hard-edged, tuneful pop-folk-rock-blues originals that indicates an encyclopedic musical knowledge and a large record collection. Lewis leans on it, but never manages to get trapped in derivative quotes.

Whatever the homages, they’re tucked pleasingly under the skins of the tunes— glints of the difficult-to-place familiar chord changes, blues riffs and melodic devices she craftily utilizes.

For instance “Godspeed” sounds like a Bach-inspired Procol Harum song (except for the squeaky-voiced refrain!) and the lyrics even refer to a “lighthouse,” so the piano driven song sounds like it was inspired by A Salty Dog. There’s a false ending punctuated by a drum fill that just about quotes B.J. Wilson. Was that purposeful or a listener’s personal musical association?

The autobiographical title tune (side two track 2 on the LP set), reminiscent of “The Weight” is a great track to listen to first. It’s got a live vibe, a familiar yet unique melodic structure, transparent, “old school” arranging and production and a deceptively relaxed atmosphere. It epitomizes what Lewis aims for and more often than not achieves on every track.

“Pretty Bird” has a McCartneyesque mid-eastern melodic vibe, “The Next Messiah” segues a grab-bag of ideas from a one note John Lee Hooker vamp to Johnny Kidd’s “Shakin’ All Over” (covered by The Who).

The infectious “Carpetbagger,” with guest vocalist Elvis Costello, is out of Buddy Holly, Tom Petty and John Mellencamp among others but it too maintains its originality as it shifts through changing but familiar terrain.

She slinks and suggests through ballads and rockers backed by a talented, revolving group of musicians including former Beachwood Sparks guitarist Dave Scher, her boyfriend Johnathan Rice (he played Roy Orbison in Walk the Line the Johnny Cash bio) and many others with whom you might not be familiar, though some are well-known names like Chris Robinson, M. Ward and Zooey Deschenel, who’s better known as an actress but she’s also a musician.

The production is superb—if you think ‘60’s production was and we do! Most of this sounds and feels as if it was recorded live in the studio and all analog. I’ll put it to you this way: if this was a digital production, someone involved knows something few if any other engineers working with digital know.

There’s a warm, comfortable soundstage, absolutely natural sounding instrumentsm layered three dimensionally and plenty of studio air that infuses the entire production with a “you are there” quality that’s so rare today.

I was going to write that there’s not a bad tune on this 3 sided, 47 minute long LP that includes a free CD copy to load onto your iPod, but that’s way too negative: every tune on this record is great for one reason or other or many including smart arranging and production. Lewis’s performances strike just the right emotional notes throughout in a subtly understated, thoughtful style. She’s got an intimate, communicative style that’s sweet but not cloying.

This record will make you feel good for so many reasons, not the least of which is that this is a smart, brilliantly crafted, perfectly under-produced record that makes sound easy what must have been very difficult to pull off.

Highly recommended for every reason.

SOURCE: Reprinted By Permission

Pick up Michael's DVD's Here:

Bird & Animal Names In Rock And Roll History- part fourteen

Well, here we are at number fourteen in our continuing series about “Bird” and “animal” band names in rock and roll history. We leave the water (from our last article) and get back into some more land animals. Have any ideas for the series? Any suggestions will be appreciated!

When Eddie Rabbitt died of cancer in May of 1998, he left a pop/country legacy that included writing a Top 40 hit for Elvis Presley (Kentucky Rain) as well as scoring a number one Billboard single for himself, 1980's “I Love A Rainy Night.”

Listening to basement tapes filled with scraps of lyrics and melodies, Rabbitt heard six seconds of a song fragment he had recorded twelve years earlier. It brought back memories and he sang into his tape recorded “I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night”...and then completed his song, appropriately of the same name. The song went to number one on both the country charts and the Billboard Top 40 (two weeks) and remained on the charts for twenty-eight weeks.

Rabbitt also scored five other number one country/pop hits with crossover songs such as “Every Which Way But Loose,” (from the Clint Eastwood Movie), “Suspicious” (1979), “Drivin’ My Life Away” (1980- from the movie “Roadie”), 1981's “Step By Step” and “Someone Could Lose A Heart Tonight.” During the course of his career, he scored 20 number-ones on Billboard's country singles chart. In 1982, he teamed up with Crystal Gale for the #7 crossover hit “You And I.” Country music and music in general are in a better place because Eddie Rabbitt chose to lend his song writing expertise to the masses.

Edward Bear was a successful Canadian folk-rock group that was formed by Larry Evoy and Craig Hemming. The Toronto-based band achieved greater success in Canada, and the tune called “Last Song” reached number one in the country and peaked at number three on the Billboard Top 40 in 1972. Formed, originally as the Edward Bear Trio, the quintet took their name from a character in A.A. Milne’s book, Winnie-the-Pooh.

The band collected a Juno Award in 1973 (Canada’s version of our Grammy Award) for the Outstanding Group Performance category and had other hits including the international hit “You, Me And Mexico” (1970), “Close Your Eyes” (1973) and Canadian hits like “You Can’t Deny It,” Fly Across The Sea,” “Masquerade” and “Freedom For The Stallion.” The group disbanded in the mid 70's, with Evoy pursuing a solo career. Band member Danny Marks remained very popular in Toronto through the 80's doing parodies and impressions in nightclubs.

The group Buffalo Springfield (they “borrowed” the name from a steam roller that was resurfacing a road in Los Angles, California) was formed in 1966 and as the story goes future band members Stephen Stills and Richie Furay were driving down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angles and they spotted a hearse that Stills was sure belonged to Neil Young. As fate would have it, it was in fact Neil Young and with him was Canadian Bruce Palmer. The trio added Dewey Martin on the drums and one of rock’s most talented “super groups” was born.

Taking advantage of the bustling folk scene and with brilliantly executed folk-rock, the group secured a Billboard Top Ten hit with the Stephen Stills poignant and topical song, “For What It’s Worth (Stop, Hey What’s That Sound)” which peaked at #7 in 1967, remaining on the charts for eleven weeks.

Although the groups were together for only nineteen months, they managed to release three very engaging albums. Their self-named debut LP featured the previous mentioned single as well as Neil Young’s “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” and the country-tinged, “Sit Down I Think I Love You.”

The band’s second release was a sheer masterpiece and included several extraordinary tracks by Young, such as the raw, but powerful “Mr. Soul,”“Broken Arrow” and the ballad-like “Expecting To Fly.” Theses early Neil Young tunes were a precursor for what was yet to come from this brilliant song writer. Stills chipped in with the spellbinding “Bluebird” and the creative “Rock & Roll Woman,” mixing dynamic vocals with clear acoustic guitars and Stills’ trademark electric guitar work. Furay contributed a song called “Good Time Boy” which was written for drummer Dewey Martin to sing lead on.

But with their egos and creative energy as strong as their song writing skills, tensions were high within the group, especially between Young and Stills. The third album from the band, ironically called “Last Time Around” was the last LP these creative geniuses would release and showcased a couple of critically acclaimed song’s, Young’s “On The Way Home” and Richie Furay’s melodic ballad “Kind Woman.”

In May of 1968, Stills left Buffalo Springfield to join up with David Crosby and Graham Nash to form the group Crosby, Stills & Nash. Young joined the group in 1970 to form the super group, CSN & Y and the band released the legendary album called “Déjà Vu.” Young left the band after a double-live album called “Four Way Street” for an incomparable solo career and has reached iconic status in rock and roll. Furay teamed up with fellow musician Jim Messina and formed the country-rock group Poco. Later on, Furay joined J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman to form the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, and Messina teamed with Kenny Loggins in Loggins & Messina. In 1997 the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In a weird twist (well for our series on “birds” and “animals” in rock and roll anyway), Neil Young’s back up band was named Crazy Horse and Young released many albums in their on and off professional relationship including the first album to feature the backing band, “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” and they still play together to this day.

Look for part fifteen of our ongoing series next week!

Eddie Rabbit Tidbits:

Eddie Rabbitt always felt it was his responsibility as an entertainer "to be [a] good role model" and was an advocate for many charitable organizations including the Special Olympics, Easter Seals, and the American Council on Transplantation, of which he served as the honorary chairman. He also worked as a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and United Cerebral Palsy.

Rabbitt was a jack-of-all-trades and was employed as a mental hospital attendant in the late 1950s, but like his father, he would fulfill his desire for music by performing at the Six Steps Down club in his home town. He was also temporarily employed as a truck driver, soda jerk and fruit picker while stationed in Nashville. He was ultimately hired as a staff writer for the Hill & Range Publishing Company and received a salary of $37.50 a week.

Rabbitt used innovative techniques to tie Country themes with light rhythm and blues influenced tempos. His songs would often make use of echo, as Rabbitt routinely sang his own background vocals.

Selected Cuts: Buy Eddie Rabbitt Music

Edward Bear Tidbits

"Last Song" was awarded a gold disc in March 1973 for selling over one million copies by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The band is a favorite of Quentin Tarantino, who feels the band should be regarded as "The Beatles of Canada."

Evoy, who briefly embraced scientology in 1973, went on to a solo career but is currently retired from live performance and running a small recording studio.

Selected Cuts: Buy Edward Bear Music

Buffalo Springfield Tidbits

"For What It's Worth" - Stills said in an interview that the name of the song came about when he presented it to the band he said, "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it." Later they decided that should be its name.

The original version of the song has appeared in several movies, such as Coming Home, Purple Haze, Forrest Gump, Girl, Interrupted, Lord of War, and Tropic Thunder, and the TV shows The West Wing (in the episode "Isaac and Ishmael"), The Wonder Years (in the second episode "Swingers").

Buffalo Springfield was the band's first album, and this song was not originally included on it. After "For What It's Worth" became a hit single, it replaced "Baby Don't Scold Me" on re-issues of the album.

Selected Cuts: Buy Buffalo Springfield Music

Island Records To Release Retrospective

Legendary record label Island Records, which is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year, will release the 3-CD set Island Life: 50 Years of Island Records on June 9.

The first two discs of the set are the retrospective of some of the label's greatest artists and songs from their first major hit, Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop," to tracks by the Sugababes and the Fratellis. Unfortunately, the tracks are not sequenced in historical order so you can't get a good feel for the different genres as they developed over the years.

The third disc is the curiosity of the set as is presents covers of songs made famous on the label. You get everything from Grace Jones doing Roxy Music's "Love is the Drug" to I Blame Coco's take on Pete Wingfield's "Eighteen With a Bullet."

This Date In Music History-May 22


Morrissey -The Smiths (1959)

Dana Williams - Diamond Rio (1961)

Jesse Valenzuela - Gin Blossoms (1962)

Johnny Gill - New Edition (1966)

Dan Roberts - Crash Test Dummies (1967)

Iva Davies – Icehouse (1955)

Jerry Dammers - The Specials (1954)

Lyricist Bernie Taupin was born in 1950.

They Are Missed:

Jazz visionary Sun Ra was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914. The visionary part is that he said he came from Saturn. The reality is his name was Herman Sonny Blount. He died May 30, 1993


In 1955, Bridgeport, Connecticut police canceled a dance featuring Fats Domino, fearing a rock n’ roll riot.

In New York in 1980, five gold records that belonged to Jimi Hendrix were stolen from the Electric Ladyland studios.

In 1999, New Jersey's Continental Airlines Arena sold out of tickets for 15 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band shows. The concerts set a record for number of shows during a single arena stay.

The final manuscript of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which was annotated by the composer, sold at an auction in 2003 for $3.47 million. And I only bid 3.2 million…

Herman's Hermits were unthroned from the #1 spot in 1965, where they reigned with "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter," by the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride."

Cream’s “Disraeli Gears” went gold in 1968. Containing the war-horse “Sunshine of Your Love” it was the group’s second album.

The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers,” containing “Brown Sugar,” began a four week run at #1 on the US chart in 1971. It’s guitarist Mick Taylor’s first full album with the group since replacing Brian Jones.

The J. Geils Band's entire original lineup performed together in their hometown of Boston in 2006 at a private party celebrating bassist Dick Klein's 60th birthday. It reportedly is the first time the six members play together onstage in more than 20 years.

Ozzy Osbourne's "Black Rain" was released in 2007. "It's a well-put-together album," says Ozzy. "I took my time on (it) and (guitarist) Zakk (Wylde) plays some amazing stuff as always." "I Don't Wanna Stop" is the lead single. "People keep saying to me, 'You'll be quitting soon, retiring.' I don't wanna stop!" adds Ozzy. "I'd miss the fans. I'd miss the buzz, seeing the crowd going crazy." The album was recorded at Osbourne's home studio in L.A. Hmmm, maybe he can make some TV commercials as “The Prince of Darkness.”

In 1958, Jerry Lee Lewis arrived at London's Heathrow Airport to begin his first British tour, along with his new bride, 14 year old third cousin, Myra. Although advised not to mention it, Lewis answered all questions about his private life. The public's shock (Lewis was booed offstage) over Lewis' marriage marks the start of a controversy leading to his British tour being cancelled after just 3 of the scheduled 37 performances.

"Mother-in-Law," written and produced by Allen Toussaint and recorded in 1961 by Ernie K-Doe, hit #1 on the national chart.

While Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man” topped the charts in 1961, its Gene Pitney-penned flip side, “Hello Mary Lou,” that also became a Top Ten hit in its own right – and is one of Nelson’s best-loved recordings.

Dave Matthews Band was at #1 on the US album chart in 2005 with “Stand Up.” The album entered the chart at #1 with sales of 465,000. The LP featured the singles “American Baby,” “Dreamgirl,” and “Everybody Wake Up.”

Wings started a five week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1976 with “Silly Love Songs,” McCartney's fifth US #1 since leaving The Beatles. It made #2 in the UK.