Pop Art Live By The Rasberries

October 2, 2018

The Raspberries were formed in 1970 and for five years and four albums produced an early form of power pop based on perfect harmonies and melodies. In some ways there sound was almost to perfect for the era as they never received the  complete respect of the rock audience of the day.

On November 26, 2004, the lights were turned back on the the Raspberries. The four original members, guitarist/vocalist Eric Carmen, lead guitarist Wally Bryson, bassist David Smalley, and drummer Jim Bonfanti reunited for the opening of the the Cleveland branch of the House Of Blues. That performance has now been released as a two disc set titled Pop Art Live.

For a band that had not performed together in three decades, the Raspberries are in fine form. Hit songs such as “Go All The Way,” “Let’s Pretend,” and “I Wanna Be With You,” are still examples of pure melodic pop.

In addition to their well-known material, they did a little deeper into their catalog plus present covers of songs by the Beatles and the Who. The Beatles “Baby’s In Black,” “Ticket To Ride,” and “No Reply” are transformed into American pop songs. Likewise the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” is filled out with tight harmonies.

My only criticism, there appears to have been a bit of overdubbing after the fact, which takes away from the purity of the live performances.

The Raspberries are one of those artists that are more appreciated after the fact. Pop Art Live is a nice modern day presentation of what you have missed for the last 40 years or so.


Texas Rhody Blues By The Knickerbocker All-Stars

October 2, 2018

There are Texas blues. There are Rhode Island blues. And now there are Texas Rhody Island blues.

Rhode Islanders Duke Robillard, Monster Mike Welch meet Texans Jimmie Vaughan, Sugar Rayford, and Willie Laws, along with drummer Mark Teixeira and a full brass section in a modern eclectic blues summit.

Listening to such tracks as “Respirator Blues,” “Texas Cadillac,” and “Ain’t That Dandy” makes you quickly realize how good a blues guitarist Mike Welch is. But two great guitarists are better than one, so when Duke Robillard and Jimmie Vaughan come together on “Going To The Country,” “I Have News For You,” and “Blood Stains On The Wall” you have a true blues guitarists delight.

In many ways you have a collection of excellent blues musicians just having a good time together creating good music.

In addition to some mighty fine blues there is an added incentive for purchasing the album; all proceeds are donated to the Knickerbocker Music Center, a non-profit school located in Westerly, Rhode Island, which provides instructional training in blues and jazz.


Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Volume 13 1979-1981 (4-LP Set) By Bob Dylan

October 2, 2018

Bob Dylan’s Volume 13 of his Bootleg Series has been released in a number of formats including a four LP set.

Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Volume 13/1979-1981 covers one of the more controversial periods of Bob Dylan’s career. Slow Train Coming (1979), Saved (1980), and Shot Of Love (1981) found Dylan exploring his developing religious beliefs. The re-action to these gospel flavored releases was mixed but they have settled into an accepted stop in his career journey.

His new four LP set has gathered 30 unreleased live tracks from his 1979-1981 tours. They include three previously unreleased songs. Tracks such as “Slow Train,” “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “Precious Angel.” “Solid Rock.” and “Saved” have more power and conviction when performed live, which make the studio versions pale in comparison.

The three songs making their debut, “Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody,” “Ain’t No Man Righteous, No Not One,” and “Blessed Is The Name” explore the fundamentalist side of his theology. These songs are quite a departure from his protest songs of the 1960’s.

The sound is crystal clear, especially for liver performances that have been in the vaults for almost four decades. The tracks are not presented in any chronological order but given the cohesive nature of the material, this is not a big issue. One can’t help but wonder what other material was presented in the concerts other than the religious material.

Bob Dylan seems to have an endless supply of material in the vaults and if the quality of the live material is similar to this release; there are some good times ahead for his fan base.

Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series 1979/1981 is one of the better releases in Dylan’s Bootleg Series. It bring to life a very specific phase of his career that is often overlooked. The vinyl component is a nostalgic bonus.


Wild Wild Love By The Flat Duo Jets

October 2, 2018

The Flat Duo Jets originated in North Carolina as a two man band; guitarist/vocalist Dexter Romweber and drummer Chris “Crow” Smith. They later added bassist Tony Mayer. They produced a hard core modern rockabilly sound with elements of surf and straight rock added to the mix.

While they released nine studio albums during their existence, it is their first album, Wild Wild Love, that remains their best and most elemental. It is one of the ultimate self-produced garage albums as it was actually recorded in a garage on a direct two-track to tape system. Originally released in 1990, it now returns in an expanded version.

The original album is a live blast of twisted rockabilly built on Romweber’s pulsing guitar runs and Smith’s thumping drums.  The jazzy “Man With The Golden Arm” is transformed into a driving rock classic. “Strut My Stuff” is a guitar lover’s delight.

The band got even more basic with the release of the cassette-only In Stereo. Only 2000 copies were printed but now the six songs have been added to the expanded release. The Leiber/Stoller rock staple “Riot In Cell Block #9” and Buddy Holly’s “Think It Over” are twisted all out of shape and then re-assembled. Even Elvis’ gentle “Love Me” is turned into a vehicle for Ronweber’s guitar fantasies.

The second disc contains 13 outtakes. Songs such as “”Stephane Grapppelli’s “Minor Swing,” Huey Lewis’s “You Made Me Cry,” and staples ranging from “Harlem Nocturne” to “Bumble Bee Boogie” make for a varied above average group of extras.

The Flat Duo Jets created rock and roll at ground level. They were similar to thousands of high school bands, but just more talented. Their music is raw, gritty, and ultimately what rock and roll should be about.


Never Mind The Bullocks (Expanded CD Version) By The Sex Pistols

August 30, 2018

They couldn’t play very well, their songs were basic, and their stage act was chaotic. Yet, during the three years of their initial existence they changed the course of popular music and to an extent, pop culture as well.

The Sex Pistols may not have invented punk music but singer Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Phil Cook, and bassist Glen Matlock (replaced by Sid Vicious), made it an art form by shoving it down the throat of the music world.

The Sex Pistols have influenced thousands of bands and artists yet during their brief career only issued one studio album and four singles. Now to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their only studio album Never Mind The Bollocks, an expanded 3-CD version has been released.

Disc one is Never Mind The Bollocks is all its hash, screaming glory. “Anarchy In The UK,” “God Save The Queen,” Problems,” and “Submission” may have lost a little since their release but they are still a powerful yell from the past.

Disc two is a compilation of odds and ends. There are a number of different mixes, demos, and alternative vocals. The four B sides of their single releases are the heart of the disc. “Satellite,” “No Feeling,” “Did You No Wrong,” and “No Fun” are fully realized songs, three of which did not appear on their album.  The disc is basically for the person who wants everything by the band.

Disc three contains two concerts recorded in Norway and Sweden. While many of the tracks are the same, they present the Pistols basic approach.

Never Mind The Bollocks (40th Anniversary Edition) is a raw rock and roll experience. The Sex Pistols are still for the brave.


Two Dogs By Popa Chubby

August 30, 2018

What’s in a name? For Theodore Joseph Ted Horowitz it’s about character with a little sexual innuendo thrown in for good measure.

Poppa Chubby is a no nonsense blues artists who takes no prisoners. He has returned with a new album titled Two Dogs. 

His voice is gritty and many of his lyrics have an edge. The title track, “Sam Lay’s Pistol,” “We Won’t Back Down,” and “Preexisting Conditions” examine the world through Chubby’s eyes within a blues framework.

There are two live bonus tracks, which close the album. Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and the Rolling Stones “Sympathy For The Devil” are a raw listening experience but good examples of the power of his live show.

Two Dogs is a blast of basic modern-day blues. If you are looking for something a little different, then this may be an album for you.


Delicate Sound Of Thunder (Vinyl Release) By Pink Floyd

August 30, 2018

The Pink Floyd vinyl releases just keep on a-coming. The latest in the Floyd sweepstakes is their 1988 live album The Delicate Sound Of Thunder.

The album was put together from five 1988 performances at Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, and released during November of that year. Thirty years later it remains the definitive Pink Floyd live album.

The original CD release had audio issues. This new vinyl has an impeccable sound. Re-mastered from the original tapes and pressed on 180 gram vinyl; the tracks are brighter and reveal a depth of textures.

While I prefer a complete concert, the tracks selected make sense and fit together well. The songs are representative of the classic phase of their career and provide a nice taste of their concert experience.

David Gilmour is the star. Sometimes his guitar playing is so subtle and laid back, it just slides under the radar. Live, it comes to the forefront and shines. “On The Turning Away” is one of the better examples of his playing.

Pink Floyd albums tend to be conceptual and their songs form part of a whole, but live and removed from that context, they are forced to stand on their own. While the album is comprised of many of their well-known songs; “Money,” “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2.” “Comfortably Numb,” Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5),” and “Run Like Hell” undergo a make-over removed  from the studio.

Vinyl releases have made a comeback during the last several years and while they will never dominate the market; their quality have enabled them to find a niche. Delicate Sound Of Thunder is a worthwhile release for the Pink Floyd fan and the vinyl aficionado.