Lightning Strikes By Lou Christie

November 22, 2016

Lou Christie had one of the best falsetto voices this side of Frankie Valli. He had the ability to hit notes that were well beyond the range of most singers.

Christie’s career lasted over a half-century but he only spent one week at the top of the Billboard Pop Chart. “Lightning Strikes” is pure 1960’s AM radio and on February 19, 1966, began its 7 day reign on top of the American music world.

Mississippi Moderne By Webb Wilder

November 12, 2016


A generation of rock and roll musicians has reached their sixties. What used to be considered retirement age is now fertile ground for thousands of artists who are still producing cutting edge music.

Webb Wilder in one of those 60 year olds and he has now released his latest album of gritty rock and blues titled Mississippi Moderne. It is a release that gathers material from a number of sources and styles and transforms them into his personal and energetic brand of rock.

He runs through a fiery presentation of the obscure Kinks song “I Gotta Move.” Country songs make an appearance as he explores the textures and layers of Conway Twitty’s “Lonely Blue Boy” and Charlie Rich’s “Who Will The Next Fool Be.” “Two Much Sugar For A Nickel” has an autobiographical foundation and moves from light pop into blistering rock. Then there is the gritty blues of “Lucy Mae Blues” and “It Takes Time.”

Webb Wilder has been on a journey for decades and it shows no sign of ending soon. Mississippi Moderne is a cohesive albums that blends grit, dirt, and swamp into one delightful gumbo.

Compromised By Steve Forbert

November 12, 2016


Steve Forbert’s career reached its commercial zenith during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. During the punk, heavy metal, and disco era; his brand of thoughtful and laid back singer/songwriter music was a breath of fresh air. Now over four decades into his career, he continues to release his brand of traditional rock and folk fusions. He may not explore any new areas with his 16th studio album but he continues to cover the old ground extremely well.

Forbert has always concentrated on lyrics and melodies that appeal to mainstream America. Here he explores temptation, love, turmoil, life and, appropriately as he has turned 60, survival wrapped in simple music.

In many ways it is an album of counterpoints. There is the smooth and catchy title track with a memorable chorus and signature harmonica solo, which is balanced by the maudlin album closing “Whatever Man.” “The snappy rockabilly of “A Big Comeuppance” is countered by the acoustic “Drink Red Wine.”

The albums strongest track is “Devil (Here She Comes Now),” which explores the eternal conflict of conscience and decisions. The only cover song is an oddly creative up-tempo take on the Broadway hit “Send In The Clowns.”

He is supported by his touring band. Keyboardist Kami Lyle, bassist Joey Spampimato,  guitarist Tad Price, and drummer Lou Cataldo form a basic and effective group and know when to step forward and when not to get in the way.

Compromised is above all a satisfying album with music that contains subtle textures. It takes its place with some of his best work such as Alive On Arrival, Jackrabbit Slim, and Little Stevie Orbit. It should appeal to his loyal fan base.

A Voice On The Air: 1945-1955 (4-CD Box Set) By Frank Sinatra

November 12, 2016


To one generation Frank Sinatra was an academy award winning actor. To another he was a record label owner and recording star. In the two decades prior to his death he was a Vegas legend and American musical icon. But to the Bobby Soxer generation of the 1940’s he was what Elvis was to the 1950’s and the Beatles were to the 1960’s.

During the first half of the 20th century radio dominated home entertainment and it helped make Sinatra an enduring star. Now, Legacy Recordings has released a massive 4-CD box set containing 100 rare and previously unreleased performances from his radio years titled A Voice On Air: 1935-1955.

The tracks are presented chronologically beginning in 1935 with “Shine,“ recorded with the Hoboken Four, and ending in 1955 with tracks from The Frank Sinatra Show, including “Sam’s Song,” “Half As Lovely (Twice As True),” and “Our Love is Here To Stay & Put Your Dreams Away. “ In between are 96 more performances that trace the career and vocal development of on one of America’s most important musicians.

By my count there are 88 previously unreleased tracks, which is a lot of unheard Sinatra. Some highlights include “America The Beautiful” recorded right after D-Day, “You Are My Sunshine” with Gov. Jimmie Davis,”  “Who’s Sorry Now,” “Don’t Marry That Girl,” “Exactly Like You” with the Nat King Cole Trio, “Take Me Out  To The Ball Game” with Doris Day, and “You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me” with Peggy Lee.

The recordings have been restored and remastered in high-resolution from the original radio transcription discs. Radio was not the best quality listening experience but now they have a crystal clear sound. Their transformation is amazing and a testament to modern day technology.

The accompanying 60 page booklet contains several informative essays, a personal remembrance from Nancy Sinatra, plus information and pictures. My only complaint is the size of some of the print, plus the fact there are pictures printed over some of them. It makes for very difficult reading and in some cases virtually impossible.

Frank Sinatra still has a huge fan base and this this new set fills in a lot of gaps in his career and music. A must for any aficionado of The Chairman Of The Board.

New York Minute By John Wetton

November 5, 2016


John Wetton, formally of Asia and King Crimson, performed at the Iridium Theatre in New York City about two years ago, October 14, 2013. Backed by the Les Paul Trio consisting of bassist Nikki Parrott, pianist Rodney Holmes, and guitarist Lou Pollo, he presented a short 37 minute set consisting of seven originals and two covers.

In some ways it was an odd choice of songs and an odd selection for a backing band. Many of the songs are stripped to basics with just Wetten’s acoustic guitar/voice and Holmes’ piano.

The covers are basically songs that Wetton’ enjoys. Steely Dan’s Do It Again,” the Beach Boys “God Only Knows, and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” are straightforward presentations without a lot of energy. Nothing bad but not the quality one would expect from a musician of Wetten’s stature.

“All Along The Watchtower has a little more pep. His own “Heat Of The Moment” is a slow acoustic version far removed from the original. It is an experiment that works. His “Battle Lines” is superior to the studio version as it is a filled in song.

It all comes down to a concert that was performed from the heart. Unfortunately it is a recording that is not always kind to the ear.

Ding Dong Daddy By John Cocuzzi

November 5, 2016


Every once in awhile someone issues an album that not only entertains but makes you smile and so it is with Ding Dong Daddy by John Cocuzzi.

Cocuzzi is a pianist, vibe player, and vocalist who would be right at home in a night club or bar, entertaining with his upbeat and at time flamboyant brand of swing jazz and jump blues.

Songs such as “Swanee River Boogie,” “Ballin’ The Jack,” “Tennessee Waltz,” and “Kambucha Boogie” may have different tempos and textures but all come alive with his improvisational solos.

For a rollicking good time, pick up a copy of John Cocuzzi’s Ding Dong Daddy and be prepared to grove and smile.

Rippin’ Up New York City Live: Live At The Winery NYC By Dave Davies

November 5, 2016


Dave Davies is one of those rock and roll survivors. He spent nearly three tumultuous decades as the lead guitarist for The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Kinks. In 1964 he created one of the most famous guitar riffs in rock and roll history with his opening chords to “”you Really Got Me.” He is now fully recovered from a major stroke that left him unable to play the guitar and sing for a while. Proof of his survival is his new live album, Rippin’ Up New York City.

He and his backing band of guitarist Jonathan Lea, drummer Dennis Diken, bassist/keyboardist Tom Currier, and backing vocalist Rebecca Wilson played two shows at the New York City Winery, November 24 and 25, 2014, and the tape was running.

The 15 tracks are both powerful and intimate as he moves back and forth from electric rockers to sensitive acoustic pieces.

The concert, and the CD, was constructed well as they build toward a trio of Kinks songs finale. “Where Have All The Good Times Gone,” “All Day And All Of The Night,” and “You Really Got Me” are explosive and quickly show why Davies has influenced two generations of guitarists.

He reaches back to the beginning of his solo career for a smooth rendition of 1967’s “Death Of A Clown.” While his solo output may be more reserved than much of the music of the Kinks; songs such as “Creepin’ Jean,”  “Suzannahs Still Alive,” “Flowers In The Rain,” “Livin’ On A Thin Line,” and “Rippin’ Up Time” have some bite beneath the textures

Davies has completely recovered since his medical issues as his technical ability on the guitar remain excellent. The sound is clean with a good mix between the band and audience.

It’s good to have Dave Davies back in circulation. He will be touring on the east coast of the United States during October. If Rippin’ It Up In New York City is any indication, it may be a good time to catch a true legend in action.