June 2, 2019
“Wild Thing” is one of those songs that is so simple that thousands of local bands have included it in their sets. Even Reg Presley, the lead singer of the British band, The Troggs, thought it was overly simplistic.
The Troggs quickly found out that simple is best, at least in America, as “Wild Thing” reached number on the Billboard Top 100, July 30, 1966, and remained there for two weeks. Their only other top ten hit was the beautiful ballad, “Love Is All Around,” which proved they were not a one track pony.
The oddity of their number one song was both the Fontana and Atco labels had the band signed to contracts, so both released the song as a single. It was the only number one song to be released on two different labels.
May 12, 2019
“Hanky Panky” was written by the legendary song writing duo of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich as a throwaway B side in 1963. Tommy James and The Shondells released the song while in high school and it became a regional hit in the upper mid-west during 1964. It never broke out nationally and the band members went their separate ways.
The lights went back on in 1966 when a Pittsburgh disc jockey found an old copy of the record and began playing it regularly and the rest is, as they say, history. James had to form a completely new version of the Shondells.
It reached number one July 16. 1966 and remained at the top of the charts for two weeks.
It may have been an amateurish release but better times were ahead for Tommy James and The Shondells and they went on to become one of the better singles bands of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
The band did make one mistake as they turned down an invite to perform at Woodstock, although “Hanky Panky” being performed at the festival boggles the mind.
April 19, 2019
Malo was and still is a west coast Latin rock band. Jorge Santana, the brother of Carlos, Rich Bean, and Arcelio Garcia Jr. founded the seven piece band during the very early seventies. They issued four albums for the Warner Brothers label, 1971-1974, before disbanding. They reformed in 1981 and continue to perform. They released seven singles during their prime and those 14 sides have been gathered together to form Latin Bugaloo: The Warner Bros. Singles.
Malo was a structured jam band. They would establish a vibe and allow the various band members to create within the structure. Their studio albums were tight affairs that stayed within their Latin rock vision. The brass section added an extra element and gave their sound a fuller feel.
Their single releases give a glimpse of the band. Most of their studio songs were extended affairs and not usable as single releases. Therefore, the chosen tracks were edited down to manageable lengths, fit for AM radio of the day. If you want to experience their original sound andintent, any of their early albums is the place to go.
“Suavecito” was their most successful single and is considered a Latin national anthem. Santana’s guitar on top of the rhythm section form the connector to their Latin roots. The brass help to make the sound unlike most of what was being released in the early 1970’s. The song is one of those releases that helped to establish the era by taking basic rock and roll and then moving it in a different direction.
Songs such as “Nena,” “Midnight Thoughts,” “Merengue.” and “Think About Love” span their four early albums and help chronicle their career, plus show their growth as a band.
The album also clears up the lost single Just Say Goodbye/Pana. Always listed as a single release by the label, no copies were known to exist. It seems the single was only issued in Turkey, so it is included here.
Latin Bugaloo: The Warner Bros. Singles is a re-visit to a band that approached 1970s rock from a unique perspective. If you want something a little different from this time period, then Malo may be a band for you.
April 19, 2019
Joyann Parker has the look of a blues singer who would thrive in a smoky lounge late at night. Looks can be deceiving as her voice has a soulful quality that fuses the two styles together. She brings that duality to her new album titled Hard To Love.
Parker keeps it fairly simple and her approach is more emotional than flashy. She is backed by a basic foursome of guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums with some horns on one of the tracks.
She has an advantage over many of her contemporaries in that she writes her own material with guitarist/producer Mark Lamoine. Songs such as “Bluer That You,” “Evil Hearted,” “What Happened To Me,” and “Take My Heart And Run” tell personal stories that resonate with the world around her.
April 19, 2019
Kris Lager is a journeyman musician, who has been on the road and in the studio for the last 15 years.
His new album, Love Songs & Life Lines is more structured than his previous releases. Tighter structures and melodies replace the jamming approach of his previous albums. The allows the lyrics to be front and center. The passing of his father has moved him to create lyrics that deal with life, hence the title of the album.
Lager is one of the best guitarists you may have never heard and he has a voice to match. His band includes drummer Scooby Sha Bo Bo, bassist Aaron Underwood, and sax player deluxe Lefever. They produce a high energy rock and blues fusion that not only entertains but makes you feel good.
The Kris Lager band is a group that deserves more commercial success. Love Songs & Life Lines is an excellent release by a hard working band practicing their craft. Highly recommended!
April 19, 2019
Tom Rush is part of the quickly disappearing original connectors to the folk revival movement of the 1960’s.
Rush has spent nearly all of this 50 year career interpreting the songs of others. His early covers of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Browne helped them gain needed exposure. He has only written 20 songs during the course of his career. That is what makes his new release, Voices, unique and interesting as it contains 10 original compositions plus his arrangements of two traditional tunes.
Now in his late 70’s, he remains a folk singer. There may be a little bluegrass in some of the music and his arrangements of “Corina Corina” and Elder Green” have a light blues feel, but his lyrics and melodies remain at the center of American folk music.
His focus is always on the words, whether some else’s or in this case his own. Songs of life, sex, regret have been constant topics during his career and are presented is a straightforward manner.
He has always had a subtle and wry sense of humor, which is exhibited quirky “If I Never Get Back To Hackensack.”
The center of the album revolves around such songs as “Going Down To Nashville” and “Voices,” which deal with life from his 77 year old perspective.
Tom Rush is like an old friend who stops by every few years and then disappears for a while. Voices is his latest calling card and it is well-worth the visit.
April 19, 2019
Jeff Plankenhorn is a multi-instrumentalist and master inventor of the “the Plank,” which is a combination steel guitar and dobro. His last album centered around the Plant. Now with the release of Sleeping Dogs,” moves is a number of different directions. While his home-made instrument makes a few appearances; he also plays a number of instruments while crafting a number of very listenable songs.
While Plankenhorn is grounded in the blues; albeit the greasy region of the south. “Tooth And Nail” is emblematic of this style. It features kindred spirit Ray Wylie Hubbard on guitar, vocals, and as co-writer.
“Holy Lightning” is more sedate, while “Further To Fall” and “Heaven On Earth” explore his connection and affinity to nature. Through it all he exhibits a fine expertise on the guitar.
Sleeping Dogs continues his recent journey from sideman to solo artist. Moving away from just focusing on one instrument provides him with the room to explore a number of styles. It is hoped that this is just the beginning of his adventure.