Comic Strip Man 45 by Tiny Tim

January 24, 2013

Comic Strip Man  Tiny Tim

Herbert Khaury, 1930-1996, better known as Tiny Time will always be remembered for his 1969 marriage to Miss Vicki live on THE TONIGHT SHOW and his 1968 hit “Tip Toe Thru The Tulips With Me.”

His live concerts tended to be more serious than his recordings as he focused on material from the pre-rock and roll era. His singles tended to border on novelty songs. “Comic Strip Man” was a typical Tiny Tim single but it received no chart action. It did come with a cool picture sleeve however.

Fly Like An Eagle by The Steve Miller Band

January 23, 2013

The May 1976, release of Fly Like An Eagle completed Steve Miller’s transition from bluesy, psychedelic rock musician to a pop rock icon. He came close with The Joker but it lacked the overall cohesiveness and smooth pop sheen of his latest release.

His basic backing band had been reduced to bassist Lonnie Turner and drummer Gary Mallaber while he provided the vocals, guitars, keyboards, and even some sitar work. He filled in the sound with an array of guest musicians including harp player James Cotton, guitarist Les Dudek, dobro player John McFee, and organist Joachim Young. It all added up to an album that has sold over four million copies in the United States, produced three hit singles, and is recognized as one of the better albums of the 1970s.

The singles were perfect for AM and rock radio airplay as they were both catchy and memorable. The title track is driven by Miller’s guitar riffs and Young’s B3 organ that joins together to support his vocal. The short album opening “Space Intro” is the perfect set up for the track. “Take the Money and Run” and “Rock’n Me” are the perfect combination of catchy pop and album-oriented rock.

Many of the lesser-known songs are the equal of the big hits. “Wild Mountain Honey” is a laid-back track that would have fit in with the hippie movement of the late 1960s. “Serenade” is a rocker on which Miller overdubbed his vocal. “Dance Dance Dance” may have been a little short, but his guitar work and John McFee’s dobro play united together and took the track in a country direction. He transformed the blues song “Mercury Blues” into a rock epic.

As good as everything is, the best song may be “Sweet Maree,” which is powered by James Cotton harp. It was a presentation of his new vision but acknowledged his past as well.

The only track that does not fit is his cover of the Sam Cooke classic “You Send Me,” which pales next to the material that surrounded it.

Fly Like An Eagle is an uplifting album of excellent pop rock. It may be a tad dated but is still an excellent listen. It will always be in the discussion for the best of the Steve Miller studio albums.

Article first published as Music Review: The Steve Miller Band – Fly Like An Eagle on Blogcritics.

O Dio Mio 45 by Annette

January 22, 2013

O Dio Mio

Annette Funicello became a star during the last half of the 1950s when she was a mouseketeer on the Disney television series, THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. During the early 1960s she starred in a series of popular BEACH PARTY movies.

During these two periods of her career, she had a series of songs reach the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. “O Dio Mio” was typical of her sound as it was bright and catchy light weight pop. It reached number 10 on the Pop Singles Chart during early 1960.

She would place 10 songs on the Singles Chart, 1959-1961.

Hot Diggity by Perry Como

January 21, 2013

“Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley” kept a number of big hits from reaching number one as it ruled the American Singles Charts for two months during the spring of 1956.

If there was ever a song that was different from “Heartbreak Hotel,” it was “Hot Diggity” by Perry Como. It stalled at number two on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Best Sellers In Stores, Most Played In Jukeboxes, and Top 100 Charts. However, on May 5, 1956, it spent one week on top of the Most PLayed By Disc Jockeys Chart, which gave Perry Como another number one hit.

“Hot Diggity, Dog Diggity, boom what you do to me” were words that made the song memorable. It may not have been Como’s biggest hit, but it remains one of his most popular.

I Love Hate You by Claude Hay

January 20, 2013

Blues players have come from many places but probably only one has originated in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, which brings us to Claude Hay.

He is a one-man music machine as he plays just about every instrument on his albums and in concert. He is proficient on the slide guitar, sitar, bass, and drums and is able to combine them into sophisticated music to support his compositions. He even takes it a step further as he built his own double-neck guitar.

He is, at his core, a blues artist but now extends his sound in a hard rock direction and every once in a while adds in some funk rhythms. He has just released his third studio album, I Love Hate You.

His music has continued to evolve. The lyrics have become more sophisticated with the passage of time and his guitar improvisations and riffing are more prominent. He was influenced by many rock and blues artists of the 1980s and those influences are beginning to show through a harder edge. Through it all his slide guitar carries the sound.

As the album title implies, the lyrics explore such topics as love, great performances, transportation problems, terrible customer service, and even issues with radio programmers, all of which fit the love and hate theme of the album.

The album begins with the title track and rocks right out of the gate as he expresses his feelings about people, both positive and negative. “Close” travels in a different direction as it is a laid-back track that meanders along. Tracks such as “Stone Face,” “Blues Train,” “Narrow Mind,” and “Hound” all contain his unique brand of blues and rock.

The only non-original track is a cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together.” He energetically rolls though the song with some fine guitar work that moves the performance in a blues direction.

Claude Hay is a noted blues musician in his home country of Australia and has been gaining attention in the United States. I Love Hate You is a fine album that will only enhance that reputation. If you like your blues with a hard edge, then this will be an album for you.

Article first published as Music Review: Claude Hay – I Love Hate You on Blogcritics

Live At Blue Rock by Mary Gauthier

January 19, 2013

Born in Louisiana, a runaway at age 15, an alcoholic for years who acheived sobriety at age 35 (which enabled her to begin writing songs), Mary Gauthier, (pronounced Go-Shay), has evolved into one of the better singer-songwriters working today.

She has released six studio albums, one compilation album, an album of demos, but never a live release until now. Live At Blue Rock finds her in an intimate setting at Blue Rock Artists Ranch just outside of Austin, Texas. The concert is career-spanning as she draws material from five of her studio releases.

The album is a sparse affair, which fits her music and stories well. She is only accompanied by percussionist Mike Meadows and fiddle player/vocalist Tania Elizabeth. Elizabeth is crucial to the overall sound, as she blends well with Gauthier’s voice and guitar, giving the music more substance.

Her music is mostly personal and explores the dark side of life. While she covers three songs by Canadian alternative country artist Fred Eaglesmith, it is her own compositions that form the heart of the performance. “Karla Faye” is about the convicted killer and capital punishment which she integrates with her individual history. “I Drink” plumbs the depths of her memories and psyche as she explores the terrors of alcohol addiction. “Drag Queens in Limousines” is both humorous in a wry way and poignant in a very personal way. “Wheel Inside the Wheel” travels in a different direction as the blues meets New Orleans’ Mardi Gras.

Sometimes her stories may be difficult to listen to because of their content, but they are always honest and the presentation emotional. They also translate well in a small club setting as she is surrounded by fans and friends.

Mary Gauthier’s music is made for the stage. For close to 70 minutes she draws the listener into her world, both past and present, as she performs her stories. It is a journey worth taking with her.

Article first published as Music Review: Mary Gauthier – Live At Blue Rock on Blogcritics.

Devil’s In The Details by Rick Demers

January 19, 2013

And now from Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the birth place of blues artist Duke Robillard and one semi-proficient music reviewer, comes singer/songwriter Rick Demers.

The Blackstone River meanders through the old mill city of Woonsocket. The wooden textile mills are long gone, but the blue collar culture of the community remains. It is that culture that forms the foundation for the stories of Rick Demers.

His music is a cross between simple blues and a roots sound. He primarily supplements his vocals and acoustic guitar playing with guitarist, bassist, and drummer Jim Kelly, plus fills in the sound with a violin here and some keyboards there. His strength is as a lyricist. The title of the album, Devil’s In The Details, is appropriate as his stories are concise and well-defined. He has a way putting his feelings and thoughts into words that are affecting and entertaining.

He avoids one of the major pitfalls that plague debut albums. He varies the tempos which eliminates a sameness to his music. That is immediately apparent with the first three tracks, “What’s Not to Like,” “Poster Child for the Blues,” and “Devil’s in The Details.” They run the gamut from slow acoustic American blues to some up-tempo folk/rock. He is an acoustic guitarist and uses his backing musicians judicially as he builds his sound to support his stories. He also includes the lyrics in the enclosed booklet.

At its foundation this is a songwriter’s album. “Bad Timing,” as the title suggests, looks at the failings of life and love that are sometimes out of our control. He sings the song with a subtle resignation. “Poster Child for the Blues” is one of only two non-original tunes on the album. He adds some extra lyrics to Marjorie Thompson’s blues epic. It emerges as an autobiographical statement of why he sings the blues. “Paradise Lost” is a wonderful tale of searching. While the stories take the listener in many directions, the album ends on a positive note with “Perfect World,” which looks to a better future.

Rick Demers has released an interesting and alluring album. Devil’s In The Details is a journey through the mind and soul of someone who grew up in an old mill town along the Blackstone River in Northern Rhode Island and is worth a listen.

Article first published as Music Review: Rick Demers – Devil’s In The Details on Blogcritics.