Kind Of A Drag By The Buckinghams

February 16, 2020

The Buckinghams were a band from the north side of Chicago. Signed to the city-based label USA, they reached number one for two weeks, beginning February 18, 1967. It was a bright piece of rock and roll history driven by the horn section.

The large Columbia label quickly signed the band and they had five more hits. “Don’t You Care,” “Mercy Mercy Mercy,” “Susan,” “Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)” and “Back In Love Again.” Two years later the Buckinghams were no more.

Left behind was their Columbia producer Williams Guercio who learned his lessons well and went on to produce Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago.


I’m A Believer By The Monkees

February 16, 2020

At the beginning of November 1966, The Monkees had a new television show and a number one hit. “The Last Train To Clarksville” spent one week at the top of the charts.

By the end of the year, The Monkees were stars and their commercial popularity rivaled that of the Beatles. They also had a new number one hit. “I’m A Believer” reached the top of the charts, December 31, 1966, and remained there for seven weeks.

There was still controversy about their involvement in the creation of the music and remains so to this day. Still, they produced one of the biggest hits of the decade.


Complicated Mess By Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones

February 13, 2020

Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones have issued a new album titled Complicated Mess. Despite the title, the album is neither complicated nor a mess. It is an album of solid modern day blues.

Deming takes the simple approach fronting the bassist Andrew Gohman and drummer Marty Dodson, with gust appearances by Kim Wilson, Little Charlie Baty, Sax Gordon, and Bob Welch, who bring their harp, piano, and guitar talents to various tracks. The added musicians bring additional energy and depth to the basic trio.

Through the ten original tunes and three cover songs, Deming remains true to original blues traditions. As an artist, guitarist, and vocalist; he understands the blues and its heritage. “Sweet Poison,” “Need My Baby,” “Cookin’ At The Kitchen,” “Rat Killin,’” and the title track all pay tribute to the past, while maintaining enough modern elements to make them relevant and entertaining.

Two cover songs stand out. Sam Thread’s “You Rascal You” and Fats Domino’s I’m Walkin’” both undergo a modern metamorphosis.

Doug Deming is now two decades into his career. He has carved out a nice niche for himself as he continues to produce an excellent fusion of new and old blues. Complicated Mess is another fine step on his blues journey.


Blue By Dale Bundy

February 13, 2020

Dale Bundy is a veteran of the contemporary blues scene with close to 40 years experience. He has just released his debut solo album titled Blue comprised of five original songs and four covers.

Guitarist/singer Bundy is a blues everyman as he explores everything from comtemporary to the traditional blues of the Southern Delta. He plays and sings with a ligher touch than what one would expect and sets him apart from many of the other blues artists working today.

His lyrics fit the blues as they deal with life’s ebbs and flows. Add in such blues staples as “Big Legged Woman,” “The Thrill Is Gone,” and “Trouble In Mind” and you have an auspicious debut album.

Dale Bundy is one of those musicians who has spent decades perfecting his craft and has finally brought that experience into the studio. Blue is a solid first album.


U.K. Singles Volume One: 1972-1978 By The Electric Light Orchestra

February 13, 2020

The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) was formed in 1970 by Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood as a creative and innovative band that fused elements of rock and classical music into an inventive mix. When Wood left, Jeff Lynne assumed the leadership and for the next 15 years produced some of the best pure pop/rock music of the era.

While ELO sold tens-of-millions of albums; The UK Singles Volume One: 1972-1978 is a chronicle of their single releases in their home country, 20 of which reached the charts.

Vinyl has been making a comeback and this box set capitalizes on that fact. Their 15 singles are reissued as 45 rpm records with many original picture sleeves. The 16th disc is their four song EP “The ELO EP.” It is a unique release that will appeal to fans of the band and collectors of those old 7 inch 45’s.

The A sides are instantly recognizable for fans of 1970’s pop. “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head,” “Turn To Stone,” “Strange Magic,” and “Livin’ Thing” have stood the test of time and helped propel the band into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. While they have been reissued a number of times; now they are returned to their original format.

The B sides of the 45’s are an eclectic mix and delve deeper into the ELO catalogue. Many times 45 “flip sides” were songs deemed not strong enough to be hits or drive album sales. Still, songs such as “Illusions In G Major,” “Poker,” “Queen Of The Hours,” and live tracks “10538 Overture,” “Daybreaker” and “Showdown” give a different picture of the band and show their more experimental, if not commercial, side.

The sound is superior is you have a good stereo system. The crackle and pop of those old 45’s is missing. The technology of the present day allows vinyl to provide a sound as good as most CD’s.

The UK Singles Volume One: 1972-1978 is in many ways a niche release due to its format. The box set is old school and it takes patience to play 45’s and listen to music in three minute increments. Still, it is a nice ride through the music of the Electric Light Orchestra if you are so inclined.


Every Soul’s A Star By Dave Keller

February 13, 2020

For music aficionado’s in the know, a new album by Dave Keller is a cause for celebration. Every Soul’s A Star is the veterans first release for Catfood Records, which brings a bonus, the labels house band The Rays.

Keller has produced ten new songs for the album and added the Aretha Franklin cover “Baby I Love You.”

While Keller may move in R&B and rock directions at times; he is at heart a blues musician. His lyrics chronicle life but from a mellow perspective. His guitar work is fiery and the Rays fill in the blanks and add layers to his music.

Whether smoldering or high energy; songs such as “Don, Let The Take Your Joy,” “You Bring The Sunshine,” “This Is Gonna Hurt,” and “Kiss Me Like You Miss Me” are now part of Keller’s body of work.

Keller has learned his craft well. Every Soul’s A Star is another fine release and is well worth a listen.


Just A Simple Soul By Bert Jansch

January 8, 2020

Just A Simple Soul is a long overdue album as it gathers the best material from Bert Jansch’s 40 year solo recording career. As an added listening bonus, the 39 tracks are presented in chronological order, which enables the listener to appreciate the distinct periods of his career and the evolution of his music.

Jansch began his recording career in 1965 and over the next four decades released 25 solo albums. In addition, he was a founding member of Pentangle and would record and tour with the group for the rest of his life, 1967-1973, 1981-1995, 2007-2011 (his death). Pentangle emerged as on the most innovative and influential folk bands in music history as it combined traditional folk music with elements of jazz, blues, and rock.

Jansch was always able to bridge styles. His lyrics have always been folk oriented but the guitar work borders on the blues, similar to early Bob Dylan. He was one of the best acoustic guitarists of his era and his innovative and creative innovations are unmatched.

Any study of Jansch’s music begins with his ode to the passing of a friend, “Needle Of Death.” It is folk music at its distressing and painful best. Add in such songs as “Poison,” “Angie,” and “It Don’t Bother Me” and you have some of the better traditional folk music of the second half of the 1960’s.

For a time he was maintaining two careers; as a solo artist and member of a high profile band. “The First Time I Ever Say Your Face,” “Reynardine,” and “Moonshine” represent a more commercial approach apart from Pentangle.

From the 1990’s on, his music was reflective and at times simple. “Morning Brings Peace Of Mind,” “When The Circus Comes To Town,” “On The Edge Of A Dream,” and the title track are mesmerizing in their calmness and simplicity.

Jansch was a rare musician who was able to produce memorable music both within and outside of a band. When the best music of his solo career is gathered in one place; it forms one of the better listening experiences available.