Theme From A Summer Place 45 by Percy Faith

April 30, 2010

Percy Faith practically invented easy listening music when in the early fifties he substituted strings for the brass of the big band sound of the forties. Hired as an arranger and orchestra leader for the Columbia label he backed such artists as Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Johnny Mathis and many more on too many albums to count.

In his own right he would release about eighty albums from the early fifties until his death in 1976.

The highlight of his career would happen in 1960 when he released the single “Theme From A Summer Place” which was taken from the movie of the same name starring Troy Donohue and Sandra Dee.

It would top The American singles charts for nine weeks during early 1960 and would be the second ranked single of the whole decade only trailing “Hey Jude” by The Beatles.

The “Theme From A Summer Place” has been used countless times as back ground music and remains the lasting testament to Percy Faith’s long career.


Broken Promise Land by Anne McCue

April 29, 2010

One of Australia’s best-kept secrets is now living in Nashville, Tennessee.

Anne McCue was born into a musical family just outside of Sydney, Australia. After graduating from college she served tenure as the guitarist for The Girl Monsters, an all-female rock band that rose to the top of the Indy scene in her native country. By the early 2000’s McCue had moved to Southern California and released two well received country/rock albums, Roll (2004) and Koala Motel (2006). She later moved to Nashville to take advantage of the musical atmosphere there.

McCue may now live in the country music capital of the world but her new album, Broken Promise Land, is far removed from a country sound. What it does contain is straightforward, in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll, fueled by a woman who can play the guitar as well, if not better, than most of her male counterparts. She not only writes most of her material but is also able to improvise during the songs in a manner that would have made Jimi Hendrix proud.

For the album, she has wisely surrounded herself with a veteran rock rhythm section. Bones Hillman of Midnight Oil and drummer Ken Coomer of Uncle Tupelo/Wilco lay down a solid foundation upon which she builds her guitar sound. While some tracks add a second guitarist and some brass at times, I can’t help but think it is within the structure of a basic power trio that she is at her best. The focus there is upon her vocals and guitar, which is where it should be.

She rocks right out of the gate as “Don’t Go to Texas (Without Me)” is a throwback hard rocker in the same vein as Hendrix or The Yardbirds. Songs such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw” and the title track continue to develop her tough girl persona.

“Ol’ Black Sky,” “Cruisin’ Paradise,” “Motorcycle Dream,” and “Lonesome Child” all harp back to the roots of rock as they pass through the Louisiana bayous and some musty blues lounges. Through it all her high-octane vocal just passes the lyrics along.

Broken Promise Land is a strong outing for Anne McCue as she seems to have found her niche. So grab a copy of her new album, put on your head phones, and turn the sound on your stereo up real loud.

As with many of my reviews this Article first published as on Blogcritics.org


Clovis People Vol. 3 by Otis Taylor

April 29, 2010

Same people say they play the blues, some people pretend to play the blues, others fuse the blues with different musical styles and traditions.

Otis Taylor really plays the blues.

2009 found him releasing Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs,which explored the complexities of love. He has now returned with Clovis People Vol. 3, which is a very back to basics and stripped down album. He has created a sparse sound with a hypnotic style.

First, if you enjoy this album please note there are no volumes one and two despite the title. Second, The Clovis People no longer exist and their name was chosen long after they had passed away. Near Taylor’s home in Colorado archeologists discovered tools and pottery which belonged to an ancient people who inhabited the area 13,000 years ago. They were named Clovis because of the unique shaping of their tools and are considered to be among the oldest inhabitants of North America.

He gathered an eclectic group of musical supporters for the album. Foremost is rock/blues guitarist Gary Moore, with whom he has toured on three separate occasions. Moore does not dominate the songs but subtly fills in the blanks when needed. Pedal steel guitarist Chuck Campbell is on board as is his daughter Cassie Taylor who plays bass. Perhaps the most interesting musician is cornet player Ron Miles whose sound melds with the primitive rhythms of Taylor’s guitar.

“Rain So Hard” is the lead track and establishes the style and sound for what will follow. Pedal steel and cornet provide a haunting back drop for his guitar as his gruff voice explores his lyrics of betrayal. “Little Willy” continues his dark messages as it tells the story of a school shooting.

He lightens up a bit with “Lee and Arnez” which tells the story of the couple who lived next door to his parents when he was young.

By the time he reaches “It’s Done Happened Again” he has established the rhythms which draw the listener into his stories. It is raw blues at its best. “Babies Don’t Lie” continues this trend with a repetitive chord and lyric which force you to pay attention.

Otis Taylor continues to be one of the more under rated blues musicians working today. His songwriting ability and his guitar expertise are some of the best in the business from a blues perspective. Clovis People Vol. 3 is Otis Taylor doing the only thing he knows how.

Article first published as on Blogcritics.org


Little Woman 45 by Bobby Sherman

April 29, 2010

Bobby Sherman was an early seventies teen music idol and that was a difficult thing to do given the type of music which was popular at the time.

He was a regular on the American television music show SHINDIG but came to prominance playing the character of Jeremy Bolt on the TV series HERE COMES THE BRIDES. He cashed in on his fame by placing ten songs on The American charts between 1969 and 1972 with four entering the top ten.

“Little Woman” was his biggest hit reaching number three during August of 1969. It was light weight pop but mainly teenage girls bought over a million copies.

He would fade from the music scene as the decade progressed. He remains active in TV production and every once in awhile will tour with an oldies show.


Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer 45 by Elmo and Patsy

April 29, 2010

“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” is one of those odd, weird and some would say stupid songs which becomes a memorable hit.

Elmo Shropshire and his former wife Patsy were responsible for this little ditty. It was a comedy song that resurfaces every Christmas. Basically the title tells it all.

I always find the song amusing and just about when I get sick of it, Christmas is over and it disappears for another year.

All in all it remains a Christmas classic; sort of.


Benefit by Jethro Tull

April 29, 2010

Benefit was the third album issued by Jethro Tull. Released during the spring of 1970, it would prove to be a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and earn the group a gold record award for sales in The United States.

For many casual fans, this is a forgotten album in their vast catalog as it was the predecessor to their classic Aqualung. In many ways it was the set-up for a lot of what would follow. They moved in a more progressive rock direction as flutist/singer Ian Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre became comfortable with one another. The sound had a grander vision as more orchestration is apparent and John Evan, who may not have yet been a full group member, provided piano and organ support which flushed out and enhanced the music. Also of note are the bass lines of Glenn Cornick who would leave the group after this release.

“With You There To Help Me” is a complex track as the opening flute sound and harmonies eventually give way to the guitars and a full rock attack. “Inside” goes in a different direction as it has a Renaissance flavor which would be explored more fully on such albums as Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses.

Ian Anderson would show his eclectic side with two compositions. Michael Collins was the astronaut who circled the moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed and walked on its surface. I’m still not sure if “For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me” is a rant against the money spent in getting to the moon, Anderson’s own disappointment at not going to the moon himself, or some other hidden meaning. Whatever the case, it is one of those humorous and creative tracks which he was so good at creating. “To Cry You A Song” emphasizes imagery over lyrical content that just reaches out and grabs your attention.

Just about every Jethro Tull album contains a track which is all about Ian Anderson’s flute and here it is the song “Teacher.” His expertise continued to improve as time passed, but this track catches him near the top of his game.

If Benefit suffers from anything it is the lack of one big memorable song. It was a collection of good songs which collectively formed a very good album. If you want to explore the music of Jethro Tull, this album is a good place to start before moving on to some of their classic releases.


Stand Up by Jethro Tull

April 29, 2010

Jethro Tull returned with their sophomore album less than a year after their debut and change was in the air.

Guitarist and co-leader Mick Abrahams had left the group due to creative differences with Ian Anderson. He envisioned more of a blues sound and Anderson wanted to take Tull in a different direction. His departure left Anderson firmly in control and he would go on to create one of the more unique sounds in rock history.

Tony Iommi would be a very short time replacement for Abrahams. His short term claim to fame with Jethro Tull was his appearance with the group on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. His lasting claim to fame came as the guitarist for the legendary Black Sabbath.

His replacement would be Martin Barre who would appear on Stand Up and every other release to date and would become recognized as one of rock’s outstanding guitarists and the perfect foil for Anderson.

The album’s art work is some of the most unique in history and would win several awards at the time. It had a gatefold cover and when you opened the album the members of the band would pop up as stand-up figures. Take that CD lovers. The album was reissued a number of times without this feature so you need to seek out the original release if you want to experience the true Stand Up cover art.

Stand Up finds the group beginning to move in a progressive rock direction as Anderson and Barre settled in to what would become a forty year and counting musical partnership. It may not have the conceptual cohesiveness of many of their later releases but the music comes together to form one of their stronger albums. It would be their commercial break through as it reached number one in England and earned gold status in The United States.

This album contains something for every fan of Jethro Tull. “Nothing Is Easy” and “A New Day Yesterday” begin to fuse rock, jazz, and classical music which would be so important to their future. “Look Into The Sun” is a nice ballad which features one of the first great Martin Barre solos. “Reasons” For Waiting” is a love song with lush orchestration. “Fat Man” would present the type of humor which Jethro Tull would be so good at creating. “For A Thousand Mothers” is rock with a premier flute performance by Anderson. Finally “Bouree” is a superior take on the Bach song.

Stand Up was Jethro Tull’s coming out party. If you are a fan of the group or their style of music, this album should always be with in range of your stereo system.