Monday, January 30, 2012

A Great One-Two Punch

I've been feeling pretty crappy the past couple of days and pretty much just vegging out trying to beat this bug.  TV sucks so I played a bit of music and got caught up on some reading.  I had some Dead on and as per usual I got around to my favorites...Workingman's Dead and American Beauty (I also really love Reckoning).  I know these are the "hit" albums that everyone likes but that is for a reason...these are two pretty much perfect albums.

I was not a big Dead Head in my youth.  Yes these two have always been in my collection but the rest...not so much.  To this day I still can't stand Dark Star, The Eleven, The Other One, and don't get me started on the waste of time that is Drums>Space.  I love so much of what they did over 30 odd years and at the same time I can't stand the rest of it.  Maybe that's why I love the 1977 shows.  The Dead were so on and so much more melodic that year.  Focused jams and well played songs!

Way back in 1970 the Dead were heading into the studio with very little cash to record their fourth studio album (they had been ripped off) and went with a stripped down, back to basics sound that hearkened back to their roots rather than continue on with their psychedelic explorations.  Good choice.  This is very much a cousin to the first couple of Band releases but with a more West Coast vibe.  How can anyone find fault with these tracks:

Uncle John's Band
High Time
Dire Wolf
New Speedway Boogie
Cumberland Blues
Black Peter
Easy Wind
Casey Jones

These are some of my all time favorite Dead songs, and I suspect some of yours as well.  I never get sick of playing this album and it is probably my favorite Dead album.  Now American Beauty, also released in 1970, might also get that award.  Slightly more Rock & Roll than Workingman's Dead, it still has that great homespun sound.  Great songs played very well.  Hell, they even sang some pretty good harmonies.  The Dead would never sound this good again on any record (aside from Jerry's first "solo" album).

Box of Rain
Friend of the Devil
Sugar Magnolia
Brokedown Palace
Till the Morning Comes
Attics of My Life

The over-all tasty goodness that these two albums delivered got me thinking about other great "one-two punches".  So I'm listening again to a bunch of artists who have delivered just that...two great, I mean great not merely good, records in a row.  This should be fun.  Check back over the next couple of weeks and see what I found.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday 'Toon

I've been feeling like crap all weekend, but this one made me chuckle.

Monday, January 23, 2012

All ROIO Links Are Now Dead

Looks like the days of downloading live ROIO's has come to an end.  I haven't posted any in a while but I suspect that any of the old links that were still active are dead now.  I won't be re-uploading any of the shows.  It's a shame that this has come to pass.  The ROIO's were for the hardcore fans, not the casual listeners.  At least there is still the Internet Archive and bt.etree to hear some live music.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Robert Earl Keen - The Paramount 1/21/12

Robert Earl Keen arrived in Huntington on a night that was, and I quote, "colder than a miner's ass".  I suppose that must be pretty cold because it sure felt like winter last night.  I guess it was a bit different than Texas in January.

I imagine that seeing REK in Texas must be a blast...hometown hero and all, but he and the crowd gave it their best Lone Star effort last night.  This was my first time at the Paramount and I like what I saw and heard.  The most important things to me at a show are the sound and the sight lines.  Both were excellent at this venue.  I hope they continue to book shows for those of us who may not rock as hard as we used to!

Openers The Deep Dark Woods are from Saskatchewan in Canada.  I kind of like what I heard last night although I was unfamiliar with the group up to this point.  The band has a very Americana sound that veers between a more country influenced sound and a jam band aesthetic.  The latter did become a bit of distraction towards the end of the show as they kind of did their own little version of Space.  Aside from this little misstep I enjoyed the performance and I intend to check out their music on Spotify.

Robert Earl Keen is one of the premier singer-songwriters from the great state of Texas.  He's been making records for years that show off a keen insight into the lives of everyday people and a razor sharp wit.  He often cloaks songs that are not dealing with cheery subjects in humor, more often than not with great success. His new album "Ready for Confetti" is one of his strongest and worth a pick up if you like this kind of music.

Last night's show featured several from the new album, the best of which were the title track (think Jimmy Buffett from Texas but smarter and a better writer) which has a little Island sound, and I Gotta Go.  He also played many of the songs that you would expect to hear at a Robert Earl Keen show...Corpus Christi Bay, Amarillo Highway, Gringo Honeymoon, Dreadful Selfish Crime, and of course The Road Goes On Forever.  From start to finish it was an excellent show full of great songs played by a very, very tight band.  A great example of the music that has been coming out of Texas for years.  If you are a fan of country music check and unfamiliar with Robert Earl Keen and Texas country check him out.  You won't be disappointed.

If you like what you hear think about checking out Texas Independence Day at Teminal 5 on March 3rd with Pat Green, Eli Young Band, Randy Rogers Band and the Josh Abbott Band.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In Defense of Toby Keith's Red Solo Cup

Now Toby Keith really doesn't need my support.  In fact, I suspect Toby Keith is doing just fine without it but I'm going to offer some anyhow.  There has been a huge backlash around the blog-o-sphere about this little ditty.  How it is a collection of some of the dumbest lyrics ever written.  I have to agree with that, however, it is supposed to be a joke, I mean just watch the video.  Silly and sophomoric? You bet.  Pretty funny?  Yep.  Too many folks are taking things like this much more seriously than I do.  Lighten up and laugh a little.  I need a beer.

This one cracked me up back a few years ago.  Even Willie thought it was funny.

Todd Snider does Beer Run and he's a satirist (and a pretty funny guy).  The songs aren't all that different.

Here's one more ode to that wonderful barley beverage...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Human Touch

I love this Springsteen song.  One of my favorites from one of the best show I have seen him do (E. Street Night at the Garden).

Van Halen at the Cafe Wha

I can understand the excitement, I just don't know if it will be what folks expect.  I didn't go in 2008 and some friends said it was really good...I remain skeptical.  I'll always remember that Van Halen was white hot back in 1978 when they opened for Black Sabbath.  The problem was that as time went on Dave became a joke.  They made a great one in 1984 but the inevitable happened and they split.  Personally I plan on skipping the MSG shows.  Maybe I'll play a couple of albums at home and have a beer or two.  The memories, for me at least, will always surpass the reality of this union.  You can decide for yourself.

I Admit It...I Love The Live Album

Well maybe not any released in the last twenty or so years but back in the day the double live album ruled.  I know that they are often heavily doctored in the studio but these live albums had a vibrancy that the studio efforts often did not have.  Usually, not always but usually, this was the case with bands that had not made what you would call a "classic" up to that point.  None of what follows will be a shocker to anyone, but I grew up with each of them and they still hold a special place in my collection.

Bob Seger had been huge prior to this 1975 classic.  The problem was he was huge in Detroit and maybe parts of the midwest.  This one put him on the map nationally.  I picked this up after Night Moves came out.  I tend ot go back and get everything an artist did when I find something new and back around 76 or 77 this was new for me.  It's hard to believe that as huge as Bob Seger got he was pretty much a non issue at West Babylon High School in the late '70's.  I think a friend and I were the only ones from school there when he played the coliseum on the Stranger in Town tour.   Oh well, I digress.  This one is rock solid from start to finish and Bob Seger rocks more and with more soul than he ever did again (and I really liked the next 3 albums).  From the opening of Nutbush City Limits to the hyper-speed Let It Rock this is a stone cold classic.

I've been buying records for as long as I can remember.  When I was but a young vinyl addict I often bought them because of the cover.  That's how I found Kiss at 13.  I was shopping with my mom at the old TSS store and there it was on the front rack.  I had to have it.  When I got home I think I played this non stop for the next month or so on my crappy little stereo.  Everything you could want at 13...

Now Destroyer was a fine record and I think I stayed on the Kiss train for another year or two, but the act wore thin as the music.  Not so with  Alive (and Destroyer).  This was a Rock & Roll Monster that still holds up today.  Art?  No.  A whole shit load of fun?  Yup.  Let Me Go Rock & Roll my friends.

My musical tastes expanded pretty fast and I grabbed a couple of Rush albums back around '76 or '77, All The World's a Stage and A Farewell To Kings (thank you Columbia House).  This was different.  A little spacey rock, a little Zep boogie and that voice.  Geddy Lee was, and is, an acquired taste as a singer but I always liked this stuff.  Rush didn't break big until Permanent Waves, but these got me on board early.  We must have drove around in my buddy's '59 Ford pickup listening to an 8-track of 2112 for a solid year straight!  I didn't much care for anything after Signals, but I still play those early records quite often.  Like all the other dads my age I got to take my son to see them a couple of time recently.  A pretty cool experience all around.

I got to see Rainbow at the Commack Arena right around the time this came out.  I think I prefer Rainbow to Deep Purple.  Ritchie Blackmore was a monster and Ronnie James Dio one of the finest singers of the era.  Too bad they couldn't get along.  Very much in the Deep Purple vein, Rainbow was all about mixing the blues with medieval images...Kill The King, Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, Man On The Silver Mountain.  A short lived burst of all sorts of musical goodness.  Then Dio left and Rainbow got wimpy.  Now Blackmore  literally plays medieval music in Blackmore's Night...what a waste.

There were so many more great live albums among them Frampton Comes Alive, UFO - Strangers In The Night, Foghat - Live.  There were also some that were less than stellar...The Song Remains The Same and the Stones Love You Live come to mind, but I can live with that.  It was a good time to be a music fan.

I'm am feeling a bit nostalgic of late, but these were great records.  I think I'm gonna keep on playing 'em.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's 2012 and I Am Turning a New Musical Leaf

I have been thinking a lot lately about music.  I know it has been my passion for most of my life, but what do I really like?  It sounds like a stupid question but like many of you out there I can tend to be a bit of a snob.  I tend to want to discover artists before anyone and start to sun them when they "break".  Now I wouldn't call myself a hipster because I am firmly rooted here on Long Island listening mainly to rock, blues and country, but I do go through periods where I will stop listening to some things because I feel it is my "duty" to stick with the indie acts over those who have "made it"

An example...I really do like Hellbound Glory.  Great country music.  I also happen to love George Strait, Alan Jackson and yes, even Toby Keith.  I have even more trouble with rock music lately.  I have to say there isn't much that has truly fired me up over the past couple of years, but I still find something interesting every once in a while.

What do I listen to most of the time?  In the car I have a classic rock Smartplaylist with about 6000 songs that lasts for months.  And when I say classic rock that is exactly what I mean.  The newest thing on there is some Gaslight Anthem and a little Foo Fighters...the rest is pretty old.  And I don't care.  I love this stuff and always have.  In fact this morning I have played Rush, UFO and Thin Lizzy...and enjoyed every minute of it.  Now some of the stuff I liked in high school is a tough listen now, Black Sabbath in particular, but I don't think I ever really loved it even back in the day.  I like to rock but heavy metal has never been my thing.  I need a little groove, a little melody.

So what this all comes down to for me is that 2012 is the year I am going to be comfortable in my "musical skin".  No more feeling that I have to like something, no more working through music and hoping it grows on me.  I stand by every one of the albums on my top 10 this past year, but so many others were just not that exciting. I have a feeling that as the years progress that year end Top 10 will be more and more difficult to make.

Shit, maybe this is another midlife crisis.  Well if it is it's no big deal.  Maybe turning 50 won't be so bad.  And I can guarantee that I won't feel old if Rush tours this summer.

Oh yeah, and I can't wait for the new Springsteen album and tour.  2012 may be a good year yet.