Joe Bonamassa "A New Day Yesterday"-Medalist Entertainment -
I'm not a blues fanatic or even a guitar-hero kind of guy. In fact, I don't think my (vinyl) copy of Eric Johnson's first solo album has been played since 1986! So when an album of this genre impresses me like this one did, that's saying something! Joe Bonamassa isn't a blues purist like Stevie Ray Vaughan, but his playing does conjure up similarities. On the other hand, Joe plays like Jeff Beck without Jeff's sometimes-jazzy tendencies. A simplified description of Joe Bonamassa's style would be the "British interpretation of the blues."
Joe's ability to meld blues and progressive rock is what makes the album interesting. Sure, you've got the classic blues of "Walk In My Shadows", "I Know Where I Belong", "Trouble Waiting", "If Heartaches Were Nickels" and "Current Situation". But you also have the catchy 'radio friendly single' of "Miss You, Hate You"(which ought to get him some radio play). You get progressive rock on tracks like "Colour and Shape" and "Headaches to Heartbreaks". Bonamassa shows his British blues influence on "Nuthin' I Wouldn't Do For a Woman Like You" (Jeff Beck type rocker) and "Don't Burn Down That Bridge" (with its Cream sound). The Jethro Tull cover (and title of the album), "New Day Yesterday" is heavier than the original - almost Zeppelin-eque! There is also the diversity of slide guitar ("Cradle Rock") and acoustic guitar ("Colour and Shape"). The album ends with the 'bonus' track, the full-length version of "Miss You, Hate You".
Joe Bonamassa takes what I like about both classic blues and progressive rock and delivers them in one song. This album made me like guitar-rock again!
Asylum Street Spankers "A Christmas Spanking"-Spanks-a-lot Records -
A CHRISTMAS SPANKING is a welcome relief from the normal insipid holiday tripe that most artists churn out like a fruitcake factory. I'm talking about the lame Christmas albums by Britney, Christina (a.k.a. the Blonde Raccoon!), Chicago, Lynyrd Skynyrd, N'Sync, etc. ad nauseum. The sad thing is that the malls and the radio stations play this crapola for a whole month the second that Thanksgiving is over! What a truly wonderful world this would be if instead, we got to hear the Spankers over the airwaves this festive season? I doubt it would happen, short of an armed take-over of the radio stations, but I can dream can't I?
You want a description of this CD? Well, the Spankers seem to defy description, but I'll give it a try. They play blues, vaudeville, country and swing - but they are none of these descriptions. First, let’s start with the classics: a ukulele version of "Blue Christmas", a jazzy "We Three Kings", "Silent Night" played with a saw and that classic "The Christmas Song". All given that special Spanker touch! The real surprise on this disc is the Yuletide blues songs, some obscure and some just plain funny, including "Zat You, Santa Claus?", "Merry Christmas Baby", "Trim Your Tree" and "Far Away Christmas Blues". With their sometimes comedic delivery, it is easy to miss what a great band the Spankers are instrumentally (for example the instrumental, Linus & Lucy"-I know, it’s not really Christmassy, but it fits). Then there is the Hawaiian Christmas ditty, "Mele Kalikimaka". There are also a few moments of comic relief on the album. "Red Nosed Reindeer Blues" is a new take on a tired Christmas classic, making a new blues classic in the process! "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is an excellent parody from a straight cover to '30s swing, to country, to ska, to a Russian folk music parody. What happens when your birthday's on Christmas?! Well, Whammo has a brand new song, "12.25.61", which addresses just this situation. Christina's sultry, Andrew's Sisters-type vocals are the true treat of this album. She can belt out the blues on one song, then make you want to grab your significant other searching for a dark corner with the next song. My fave songs on this album are "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside".
A perfect album for those Christmas parties or just quiet, cozy evening for two by the fireplace with a bottle of wine (or two!). This is MY newest holiday tradition. I've been "spanked"...and I like it!
Van Gogh "Gravity"-Indie Release -
This album is nothing short of amazing. The only thing that makes it a very good album instead of a great album is the inclusion of two covers. However, when you program your CD player to exclude these two covers, you have a splendid, solid album. But, I digress and I’ll talk about that later. Van Gogh displays top-notch songwriting, singing and playing. It’s truly a mystery why a label hasn’t jumped on these guys.
"Another Song" opens Van Gogh's 5th album, the song being a cross between Squeeze and Jeff Lynne. I love the break in the middle, heavily borrows from the Bee Gee's "Lonely Days". The arrangement is nothing short of amazing: great vocals & harmony, a biting slide guitar solo and an infectious "hey hey hey hey" chant! The song is a great way to kick off an album because this is classic Van Gogh, showcaseing all their talents into a single song. The next song, "You'll Be the One" reminds me of later period Moody Blues - its just as catchy as "Your Wildest Dreams". "What Have You Done" is the best Tom Petty imitation since Roger McGuinn's last solo album. Actually, I like Robby's vocals better than Mr. Petty's - Robby has an edge to his voice where needed, without having the dischordant Dylan-stylings of Petty's approach. The sitar intro of "Slow Drive" catches you a little off guard when it kicks into the song. But instead of a retro-sounding song, you get sitar used as a lead instrument in conjuction with a driving guitar lead to a modern sounding rock song.
There are two covers on this album, the first being "Lady Madonna" by the Beatles. I'm sorry, but everytime I hear a Beatles cover, no matter how well, I think of the Bee Gee's/Peter Frampton 1979 masterpiece, "Sgt. Pepper". I just can't help it... in my never-to-be-humble opinion, I think ALL Beatles songs should be OFF LIMITS (The sole exception of my dislike of Beatles covers is Danny Kirwan's [old Fleetwood Mac alumnus] reggae version of "Let It Be"). Van Gogh does get credit for adding parts of “Helter Skelter” into the song! Enough of my preachin…the band redeems themselves on the next song. One of the band's biggest assets is that they seem to have a cool 'suprise bag of tricks'. They dip into this bag at just the right time, adding just the right amount to their already colorful aural image. In the case of "Everything's About You", they add a wah wah pedal [or is it a voice box?] as a perfect compliment to the song. The flutes on "Back to the Fall" evoke a modern take on "Strawberry Fields" without the psychedelic embellishments.
But then....argghhh...another cover. This time it’s the Buffalo Springfield's, "For What It's Worth". Add classic rock tunes to my OFF LIMITS list that was previously mentioned. Does anybody really think that Lenny Kravitz improved upon "American Woman"? “Beggar at Your Gate” is a riff-laden ditty with a beautiful harmony slowdown in the middle. The interplay with the guitar and flute is very interesting, once again Van Gogh effortlessly shows off their talent of instrumental and harmonic excellence! The 12 string jangle of “Someone to Break Her Heart” starts off like the Byrds "Feel A Whole Lot Better", with a get-up-and-dance harmonica break in the middle…yet another of Van Gogh’s irresistable, catchy pop songs. On “Light by Braille” the band delivers another textbook example of how power-pop should be done. This is the track that actually made me pay attention to the lyrics. Granted, Van Gogh's music is aural EAR CANDY deluxe, but the lyrics actually give extra depth to this song. [Plus, fans of the Rutles will instantly recognize the final note! “Doubleback Alley” I think is the tune…] Van Gogh turns experimental on "Ready, Willing and Able", mixing a funky bass & guitar with a trippy flute and punchy orchestration. After a tour-de-force of relentless, infectious power-pop, how do you end an album? Simple...you end with a mellow, yet powerful "message" song called "And We Are".
GRAVITY bears repeated listens, which is one of my main criterior for album reviews! If you are a fan of power-pop, then Van Gogh’s ruthless assault on your power-pop tendencies is “the guiltiest of pleasures” - well worth repeated endulgment!
The Woggles "Live at the Star Bar"-Blood Red Vinyl & Discs -
Good golly Miss Molly! Lookey what Santa Woggle left me as an early Christmas present! The brand spanking new Woggles disc, THE WOGGLES LIVE AT THE STAR BAR. What? You don’t believe in Santa Woggle? I betcha don’t believe in rock ‘n roll anymore either! Well, I don’t blame you, with all that Britney Aguilera and Backstreet ‘Sync clogging the airwaves. But now, in the immortal words of Manfred, the Professor, you will be given “Something to Believe In”! Be prepared to be Woggle-ized!
Thanks to the benefits of modern technology, you too can experience the world’s greatest live act “toute la natural” (no matter what language you speak, rock ‘n roll trancends all communication). I’m talking about their home turf of the live stage, where they are truly the kings of the club-land jungle. Sure, past Woggles music (whether it is on good old vinyl or compact disc) is great. But now, in their natural live habitat, the Woggles present twenty three tunes guaranteed to put the BOO back in your boogaloo!
If the Woggles haven’t come to your town yet, pick up this CD to see what you are missing. Those who have experienced their live ‘Rock ‘N Roll Revival’ already know…and have been saved. The Woggles are Maximum R&B for the new millennium.
Jackyl "Open Invitation"-Mp3 download -
This "song" is the most detestable, jingoistic, vile, piece of inbred, redneck, stupidity ever recorded. "Open Invitation", Jackyl's pathetic attempt at an anti Bin-Laden song is about as subtle as a cross burning and about as attractive. The fact that these Jerry Springer show rejects would attempt to cash in on the tragedy of Sept 11th is truly repulsive. I fully realize that Jackyl have never been on the high end of the musical or intellectual bell curve. However, this song has no redeeming qualities at all. The lyrics of "Open Invitation" epitomize stupidity. Some examples of these lyrical gems: "I hate you Bin-Laden" repeated ad nauseam, and "you have an open invitation to meet me face to face you fight like a coward you are a disgrace."(as if the members of Jackyl are signing up for military service in Afghanistan so they can put their money where their mouth is). They must have been up all night thinking up such clever, insightful lyrics. As for the music, the vocals are a horrible third-rate copy of AC/DC's and the music is your worst bar band blues nightmare come to life. Even samples included from the movie "Patton" cannot save this musical corpse.
The only way Jackyl could sink any lower than "Open Invitation" is to set Mein Kampf to music - though I hesitate to say this as Jackyl might act on this suggestion. Jackyl's mean spirited attempt to exploit the tragedy of September 11th to jump start their musical career is much akin to the mentality that inspires terrorist acts in the first place. A "song" like "open invitation" makes me ashamed to be a rock and roll fan. A band like Jackyl makes me ashamed to be an American.
Paul McCartney "Freedom"-Capitol -
"This is my right, a right given by God, to live a free life, to live in freedom..."- lyrics to Paul McCartney's "Freedom"Who would have thought it? After all these years, it seems that Paul McCartney finally got the "one up" on John Lennon. Critics of Paul usually zeroed in on the "Lennon copycat" syndrome, with Paul seemingly following John in his solo career. First you have politics: in 1969 John gave us the political, "Give Peace A Chance", with Paul dabbling in 'political' rock with "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" in 1972. Both did a Christmas song, John with "Happy Christmas" in 1971 and Paul with "Wonderful Christmastime" in 1979. Next you have a 'get back to roots oldies album": John’s "Rock and Roll" album in 1975, followed by Paul's "Choba B CCCP (a.k.a. the 'Russian Album') in 1991& "Run Devil Run" in 1999. Most recently, you have Paul as a 'poet & artist', both of which John was in the '60s.
But finally, Paul has written a better 'political' song than John has. I'm talking about Paul's new single, "Freedom". Written in wake of the Word Trade Center bombings and performed at the Concert for NYC, Paul has captured the poignant mood of what is truly important with succinct clarity. Critics might try to blast Paul for the sparseness of his lyrics, but just compare them to the 'lyrics' of "Give Peace a Chance". John's "Give Peace a Chance" is basically a passe mantra of a repeated phrase, a time capsule of all the failures of hippie mentality (see 1991 lame remake for the Gulf War!). While John was the 'dreamer', Paul is now the 'realist'. McCartney's talent for a catchy, melodic song has been combined with minimalist, 'hit the nail on the head' lyrics.
Paul has succeeded where John failed - writing a truly timeless political song.
Jack Breakfast "Rock and Roll Album"-Troubled Cat Records -
Well, I've got good news and bad news for this album. The good news? The guitar-based songs have a biting edge to them, especially songs like "Rock and roll album" and "This is really good enough!" Jack Breakfast has seemed to filter out all the crap of the Ben-Folds-Five-type rock. I make no secret of my disdain for BF5; I just don't think that the piano is the correct instrument for angst. But Jack Breakfast takes the campiness of piano in rock and creates the most anger you can possibly get out of a piano. Songs like, "Lawn Chairs" evoke an Elvis Costello waltz meets the Kinks feel.
The bad news? There are cool songs here, but I can't hear the friggin' words! That's my main complaint about this album-the vocals are mixed too far back. And there is no lyric sheet included. I appreciate diversity, but that can also ruin some good songs! For example - "Sad Sunday" includes three songs in one...rock, waltz and dirge. "Boats and Water" starts out with acoustic guitar and band, then is ruined by the piano on the second half. The ironic thing is, my favorite track is a piano song! "Typewriter Song" is brilliant, very addicting in its charming playfulness.
In summary, Jack Breakfast beats up any album by Ben Folds Five. Picture Dudley Moore on acid...that's what Jack Breakfast reminds me of.
The Diplomats "Instrumental Action Soul"-Prescription Records-
The cool thing about rock 'n roll is the return of old genres. You've had the return of rockabilly and swing. But what about the '60s instrumental soul groove? Well, in the true spirit of Booker T & the MG's, the Diplomats are here to fill that void. Put this CD on, close your eyes and you are suddenly in a dark, smoke-filled blues club!
The Diplomats have got great chops and a command of the style. The only thing missing is that elusive catchy song. A memorable "hit" song on the level of "Green Onions" by Booker T & the MG's . The closest the Diplomats come to this is their song, "Soul Slaw". This songs rocks and warrants multiple hits on your CD 'repeat' function. Unfortunately, all the rest of songs are pretty interchangeable. I'm not saying this CD isn't enjoyable (its getting played at my next party!) - it is just the sad fact that, like rockabilly and swing, this music has limited staying power. I understand the need to do all originals with a new band, but I would make an exception with this band. This genre is especially hard to break-into and I would suggest one cool cover. I'm not saying cover "Green Onions" by Booker T & the MG's, but maybe one of their lesser-known tracks. Or perhaps, the Beatles 12-BAR ORIGINAL, one of the group's rare bluesy, instrumentals from the Rubber Soul sessions.
On the bright side, this CD has a very Austin Powers groove to it, guaranteed to be a great party record!
E-mail Prescription Records at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cactus Patch "Cactus Patch"-V. Sherms Music -
I feel bad because WE approached these guys to review their CD. Through an anonymous e-mail from one of their fans, we thought, "why not, let's review these guys?" We got the Cactus Patch CD in the mail, along with their press kit. I was impressed by what I read in the press kit - these guys have the right attitude. But then...I listened to their CD. And listened...and listened. Hell, I gave it more than my obligatory "3 complete spins before I review credo". Cactus Patch can play their instruments and sing. That is not being disputed here. What I am talking about is CONTENT and INTENT.
Cactus Patch is thoroughly ALT-BUBBLE. What exactly is Alt-Bubble, you ask? Well, in this month's issue of EAR CANDY, we have an essay, which goes into depth to explain this new phenomenon. However... look on the bright side! These guys would get a 5 star rating in the Alt-Bubble universe!
Steve Kilpatrick "Westside Crop Circles"-Expeditious Productions -
Steve Kilpatrick does it all on this CD, he writes the songs and plays all the instruments. He’s a regular Prince (or artist formerly known as, or whatever he is called today), albeit a twisted one! However, Mr. Kilpatrick has a wicked, twisted imagination, which Prince could only wish for. Just my type of humour in these lyrics. He covers the whole gamut of the "dark" topics of today's culture: teenage sex, brother-in-laws, kidnapping, conjugal visits in prison, neighborhood gigolos, burglary, modern finances and of course broken relationships! But what about the music? Picture a psychedelic- jazz-rockabilly, mixed with Captain Beefheart, Syd Barrett and Simon and Garfunkle! Rockabilly with authentic guitar sounds. Free form jazz guitar solos. Guitar instrumentals such as "Smell That Rainbow", which is kinda like a "Son-of- Little Wing". Church-like harmonies on one song; vocals slowed down for effect on others.
There ain't a bad song on this album, but I'll talk about a few of my favorites. Some songs I can't make heads or tails of the lyrics, such as "Adjustments". It is a Syd Barret- type acoustic guitar ditty with vocals like Art Garfunkle?! "Big plan" has weird lyrics about kidnapping set to a beautiful tune! "Multi-generational" contains bizarre vocals on a track that make me think of Captain Beefheart. Sure, Johnny Cash sang about life in Prison, but has any singer celebrated the conjugal visit? Steve Kilpatrick does on "Conjugal Visit", another rockabilly type tune with more fine guitar work! The hilarious, "Me and Oprah, My Pajamas & the Pain" starts out like your typical country song of heartbreak: lovers who leave, alcohol, drugs, Jesus and finally left with "Oprah my pajamas and the pain"! Finally, my favorite track on this album is "Worried Mind"! A catchy tune with some fine fingerpickin'! Complete with lyrics about being "violated" by someone breaking into your house and burglarizing it.
WESTSIDE CROP CIRCLES is so far removed from your everyday album that I find it refreshing! Sure, there are many styles influencing the music, but when tied together with Kilpatrick’s unique lyrics, a coherent mix is achieved.
E-mail Expeditious Productions at email@example.com
Various Artists "Dropped on the Head"-Illbilly Records -
One of the best comp albums I've heard and it hits ya like a swig of white lightnin’! The simple fact is that there isn’t a single weak songs in the bunch! The theme of this CD is "country punk", so just think "Jason & the Nashville Scorchers". Doesn't ring a bell? What about the recent industry moniker "alt-country" with groups such as Wilco & Son Volt? Yeah, that's the ticket. This comp has a total of 16 tracks, with each artist giving his own interpretation of the country punk genre (and of course any of the artists on this comp are welcome to submit any full-length CD's to EAR CANDY!).
First, you've got the driving country punk of Junk Train, Lancasster County Prison, Agriculture Club, the Ditchdiggers, American Death and Mad trucker Gone Mad. The CD is worth the price alone just to hear these artists, but there is much, much more. The Woodbox Gang delivers a Bo Diddley/Johnny Cash hybrid on "Better Place to Die", complete with morbid lyrics! I really dig the double-tracked vocals and unique guitar of James Richard Oliver on “Sunday Morning”. Unique in that there is one guitar with a hot, dirty sound and another with a clean, twangy sound. Joe Swank & the Mule Skinner present raw, country blues on “All F*cked Up Inside”-they could beat up George Thorogood anyday. Gary Pig Gold's "Under the Table" has a Monkees "Love is Only Sleeping" type guitar with pretty cool lyrics. The strangest song on the comp is "Damaged Goods" by Miss Xanna Don't. Yoko Ono singing country? It starts out as a straightforward country song, but in the second half the singer goes into a Yoko-like rant the second half of the song. Bizarre, indeed.
There are two songs, which really add that "kick" to this collection. Redneck Greece De Lux sings, "I'm Knawing My Arm Off Over You", which is the funniest song I've heard about 'beer goggles' in awhile! It brings back memories of that old joke about a girl being 'coyote ugly'. Finally, Ken Burke's "The Dead Cat Song" is pure Dr. Dimento twisted-country. I couldn't stop laughing.
At EAR CANDY I make it a rule not to rate compilation albums like the other albums that we review (hint: it WOULD get a 4 star rating!). I simply state whether it is worth your time to search out. I mean, have you ever been to a used CD store to find the 'various' section loaded to the gills? Most of these are comp albums. But, in the case of DROPPED ON THE HEAD, I must say (using my best Jed Clampet accent), "oooh, doggie, this is some fine pickin' and sangin' indeed!" Definitely worth seeking out!
James Richard Oliver "Rocket to Nashville"-Illbilly Records -
Vinyl 45 EP
The cover outside is a hilarious spoof of the classic Ramones, "Rocket to Russia" album. The songs inside are presented with a pretty basic lineup: vocals, guitar, bass and drums. The vocals are a little bit reminescent of Mojo Nixon, but Mojo never really rocked like this! I really can't say enough about the guitar playing...it really drives the songs! Mixed loud and dirty, the guitar is never flashy, just like rock 'n roll guitar outta be.
The EP opens with "Forty Foot Elvis", a great catchy song about the King. When I finally make my pigrimage to Graceland, this song will be playing on my car stereo! Next is a hilarious punk rock square dance called, "She's a Burnout". "Sunday Morning"(also on the Dropped on the Head comp) follows with blazing guitar leads with double tracked vocals. The EP ends with "Bisquitland", an up-tempo ode to a dog, complete with a surprise ending. Put on them boots and two-step to this country punk gem!
There are only 4 songs on this EP (and one of them is also repeated on the "Dropped on the Head Comp"), but it is enough to whet your appetite for more James Richard Oliver material. I wanna know when we can hear a full album?!
Spiney Norman "The Trials and Tribulations of Spiney Norman"-Indie Release -
I've always wondered...what if the progressive rock heavies of the '70s got together and made an album in this day and age. No...not one of those cash-in reunion schemes, but an actual honest to god good album?! Well, it hasn't happened yet (and somehow, I don't think it will). BUT, there is the new CD by Spiney Norman.
The album has two things really going for it. First, I love the instrumentation, especially the guitar work - it travels the gamut of Boston, Allman Brothers and Santana without being too derivative. Same goes for the vocal harmonies. Little things, like the ending for "The Best Thing You Ever Had" with its Badfinger-like, "Baby Blue" ending! The Allman Brothers-type instrumental, "Swamp Gas". Secondly, the lyrics hit me on an emotional level, many of the lyrics seem to apply to my life! Songs about picking up barflys (Excuse Me), failed relationships (The Best Thing You Ever Had), growing old (Same Old Road) and the joy of parenthood (Heart Song). "Caffeine High" is especially clever, especially for those of us that don't use illicit stimulants anymore! Spiney Norman even touches on spirituality on "Troubadour", with its Jesus references. But, unlike the tunnel vision of Christian rock bands, Spiney Norman doesn't hit you over the head repeatedly. I mean, there are only so many words that rhyme with "jesus", "God", "lord", etc. My fave on this album is "Day's I'd Rather Forget" - it seems especially personal, almost reading into my life!
Although the album breaks no new ground (is that even possible in rock 'n roll anymore?!?), the excellent songwriting and professional playing make this CD quite enjoyable. This album is a creeper, but once it gets under your skin, you'll find it well worth the repeats.
Peter Frampton "Anthology: the History of Peter Frampton"-A&M Records -
First of all, unless you are a rock historian (like me), this collection would be of little interest to you. For the casual rock fan, the "essential" Peter Frampton can be found on FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE. But... for historians this is a must-have, albeit brief overview. The CD starts with a song by "the Herd", Frampton's launching pad group. "From the Underworld" is forgettable, "Penny Lane"-psychedelic pop, but it gives you perspective when you hear the five tracks on this collection by Peter's next group, Humble Pie. The Pie tracks show Peter's mindset after the "pop" of the Herd. It is a HEAVY rock group when compared to the lightweight approach of the Herd. The highlight of this collection (for me) is the inclusion of the Humble Pie version of "Shine On", which Peter resurrected for his immensely popular COMES ALIVE album years later. The track is more melodic than most Humble Pie tracks, probably so because Frampton penned the tune. When you hear the live, "I Don't Need No Doctor" you can easily picture the stage being set for FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE. Peter took the next logical step by adding more melodic songs to Humble Pie's hard rock, hence most of his post-Pie work.
Now for my criticism of this set. There are only 6 tracks of his pre-COMES ALIVE work represented. I would have used a few more of these tracks and a little less Humble Pie. For example, the excellent studio versions of "Doobie Wah" and "I Wanna Go To The Sun" are missing. And why is the live version of "Show Me The Way" used? And since this is an ‘Anthology’, why aren’t there any songs from the Sgt. Pepper Soundtrack? (oops, just kidding, I’m sure that is a sore point!)
A pretty good disc of what could/would have been a great 2-disc set!
The Eggnogs "You Are Special" (7 song CD)-Tyros Label -
Hailing from Eddysville Iowa, the Eggnogs combine hard edged alterna-pop of the Pixies with the lyrical quirkiness of King Missle. There must have been Ergot in the wheat these Iowans ate to produce such twisted gems as "Goats Blood" and "Triple Dick". I would have liked to have heard a full cd to see what these guys could really do but this cd is a promising start. The eggnogs are odd but oddly appealing.
Josh Dodes Band "Get Up"-MDI Distribution -
Josh Dodes is an American Joe Cocker. Like Joe Cocker, Mr. Dodes has a set of pipes on him that makes him sound like authentic 50-year old black blues singer! Plus, he plays a pretty mean piano ta boot. I've seen the band live and they are amazing. That's the problem...this album doesn't do them justice. GET UP is simply weighed down by forgettable mediocre songs. Six out of the eleven tunes I could do without. The tracks that are saved by the JDB's authentic blues delivery are: "The On & On", "Do the Do", "The Cradle" and "Fat Jack's Blues".
But... the Josh Dodes Band has a secret weapon on this album: the song, "Be My Friend, But Be Naked". This song alone almost redeems this CD! Not only does it have one of the coolest titles, but also it has the funkiest blues boogie going! Guaranteed to make the most rhythm-challenged person get up and dance.
Moments of brilliance, but I know this band can do so much better!
El Majo "14 Songs for the Pheaecians"-Indie Release -
I'm not rating this album because it was not submitted to be for review. Let me explain: it was sent to me by someone who just wanted their music heard. With that in mind, the CD has a certain charm and does merit a mention. It has the same feel as the Beach Boys' Party album, only if you changed the location & time to the Maharishi's ashram in 1968 and added the Beatles, the Tijuana Brass, alcohol and psychedelics!
It is definitely NOT hi-fi, being recorded on 4-track cassette and transferred to CDR. But, like "the Beach Boys Party" album and the Beatles "White Album Demos" boot, the album has a certain ambiance and atmosphere which bears repeated listening. Most of the instruments are acoustic except for bass and organ. There's also guitar, trumpet, accordion, harmonica, xylophone, balophone and glockenspie. Percussion includes an eclectic mix of: an empty ice cream bucket, deep-dish pizza pan, clave and castanets, agogo made from two coffee cans bungeed together, cardboard boxes, sandpaper, egg shaker, pickle jar, sleigh bells, and woodblocks. Sound effects are also used to a cool effect.
he 14 songs, there are love songs and also strange lyrical songs with interesting lyrics. Some of my faves include: "Love Gets Better" (complete with cool faux Beach Boys harmonies), "Champ of Karate" (catchy song) and "Blue Angel" (with the hilarious lyrics, "how to wreck your life in 5 minutes!"). The spokesman of the group explained, "the main idea turned out being to write a batch of theme songs for people, places, and activities I love all thrown together and set within a fictional 'All Summer Long'-type summer that starts out great and then turns into a complete, but complete disaster".
This album is a great example of what CAN be done within the art form of making your own CDR! Definitely worth getting a copy if you want something different AND entertaining!
E-mail El Majo at firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul McCartney "Driving Rain"-Capitol Records -
Although we reviewed Paul's new album last month at EAR CANDY, our trusty own DJ Ivan wanted to have a chance to say his piece on the new McCartney album. Hmmmm...that means, either he hated it or loved it!
"Driving Rain" has the hallmarks of every McCartney release since "Press To Play": consummate musicianship, profesional pop craftsmanship, and a few good songs hidden among many mediocre songs. The good songs on "Driving Rain" are "Lonely Road", "It must have been Magic", and the title track. As for the rest, they are well played, pleasant, but forgettable. The chorus of "Tiny Bubble" sounds more than a touch like the Beatles song "Piggies" (is it plagiarism to steal from your former band mate?). "Heather" is a pretty instrumental. This latest batch of songs is the hardest rocking songs McCartney has released since "Back to the Egg". Overall, "Driving Rain" is another good record from someone people have come to expect great records from.