Uncle John’s Record Barn #4

UNCLE JOHN’S RECORD BARN #4- May 19th, 2013Welcome back, glad you could make it! Not a lot to report since the last time I opened- business is slow, but I’ll worry about that later.  Haven’t bought a ton of music lately- the missus and I are attempting to save up for a down payment on a house, and we’re going to some concerts this summer- Kiss on July 12th in Edmonton, I’m flying to Vancouver to see Black Sabbath on August 22nd, and we’ll both be in Saskatoon on Sept.14th to see The Eagles- but every payday I have to pick up a little something;HMV at the Lloyd Mall on payday;“St. Anger”- Metallica (it was cheap, and now I’m closer to having all their CD’s)“Thirteen”- Megadeth (my son had given me the tracks, but I gotta have the real thing)Reel To Reel: Sound City”- the soundtrack to Dave Grohl’s amazing documentary.Went garage sailing a couple of weeks ago with my buddy Dean.  I picked up 3 CD’s for a grand total of $5;“Racing After Midnight”- Honeymoon Suite“Highwaymen 2”  Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash“Two Rooms: Celebrating The Songs Of Elton John & Bernie Taupin” including artists like Eric Clapton, The Beach Boys, The Who, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart and 11 moreIn the middle of building this column, while cruising Facebook, one of the blues sites I ‘liked’ put up a link to Leslie West’s version of “I Can’t Quit You Baby” from his 2005 album “Got Blooz”.  I could barely wait for the end of the song so I could go to iTunes and buy the album. There is, apparently, A LOT more to West than “Mississippi Queen”. Consider this  my recommendation of the week. Hey- better late than never!Last night (Sunday the 19th) I caught a documentary on American Netflix about independent record stores.  It’s called “Need That Record!” and if you used to (or still do) haunt record stores, you’ll find it very enjoyable.  Makes me wish I lived in a larger town where such things are still possible, makes me miss Lyle’s in downtown Victoria.GHOST ON GHOST Iron & Wine (Nonesuch) ***Released April 16th, Ghost On Ghost is the 5th full album and first major label release by Sam Beam, a/k/a Iron & Wine.  Though I’d seen the name in the press, my first encounter with I&W was a couple of months ago when I picked up 2004’s Our Endless Numbered Days on vinyl.  No unusual surprises on the new album per se which suits me fine, just the warm embrace of an intimate batch of songs.“This record felt like a reward to myself after the way I went about making the last few” he says, referring to the anxious tension that informed his previous sets.  A review by Rolling Stone of Iron & Wine’s earlier work states that “pop music hasn’t seen anything like (this) since the heyday of Cat Stevens” and others said it “more closely resembles the lush gold-toned singer songwriter records of the late 60’s and early 70’s”.  3 or 4 spins through Ghost On Ghost reveals that to be true today.  Easy melodies on songs like New Mexico’s No Breeze make for a relaxed listen, and you can dig as deep as you want to into the lyrics to find your own meaning.  Or, you can ignore them completely and still enjoy the casually expert musicianship- which is a harder balance to strike than you might think.  There’s a quote from the Los Angeles Times that sums up that thought quite nicely; “There`s a graduate thesis waiting to happen in exploring the strangely beatific air that surrounds the music of Sam Beam`s Iron & Wine”.Reminiscent of the breezy Simon & Garfunkel type 70’s pop music I grew up on, both in sound and production style, Ghost On Ghost feels instantly comfortable… but when he leads off a song like The Desert Babbler by singing It’s New Year’s Eve/ California’s gonna kill you soon then you know there are some dark undercurrents, the sort of dichotomy I’ve always enjoyed.Ghost On Ghost is the kind of album that makes your whole music collection a little bit better, just by being a part of it.COOL CUTS:  New Mexico’s No Breeze, The Desert Babbler, Graces For Saints and Ramblers TO BE LOVED Michael Buble (Warner) *** ½ Released on Monday April 22nd– my 55th birthday, and the day after he hosted The 2013 Juno Awards- To Be Loved is more of what the fans want from Buble- old fashioned pop music that swings like crazy.  It’s his sixth album, following his Christmas CD- the 2nd biggest selling album of 2011.  A playful mix of standards and originals, there’s no way this record can miss.Perhaps the biggest surprise is that this was produced by ex-Payola Bob Rock (David Lee Roth Metallica, Motley Crue), but Bob did produce Ron Sexsmith’s last album so you know he’s got it in him.  While arrangements on tracks like The Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody don’t stray too far from the original versions, they’re different enough (like the gospel touches on this one) to make consideration and debate of the differences kind of fun.Other than straight up musical enjoyment, the most telling or informative thing about To Be Loved is Buble’s choices of songs to cover, from Dean Martin’s Nevertheless (I’m In Love With You) to the aforementioned Bee Gees classic, to Frank & Nancy Sinatra’s Something Stupid.  I gotta say the kid has pretty good taste when it comes to picking tunes.If you’re expecting Buble to reinvent the wheel here then there`s no way you`ve been paying attention to his career.  He`s an old fashioned crooner, in the manner of guys like Sinatra and any one of half a dozen or so guys you`d care to name from the 40`s and 50`s.  Frankly (pardon the pun) this is the kind of music my folks would have enjoyed, but millions of people my age (mid-50`s) and younger are buying his albums too.  There`s just something about a singer that can really wrap himself around a lyric that people will always respond to. Chalk up another winner for Mikey.COOL CUTS:  Something Stupid (with Reese Witherspoon), After All, You`ve Got A Friend In MeUNDER THE INFLUENCE Straight No Chaser (Warner) *****How many other a cappella groups can you name I mean besides The Nylons… right. 11 songs in all and, I daresay you`ll know most if not all of the songs.  Great songs they are too- to strip away all the instruments and use just voices, they gotta be.Not only does Straight No Chaser take on some of pop music`s biggest hits, in many cases the original artists take part too- Elton John joins in for Don`t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Phil Collins takes the lead on Against All Odds, Dolly Parton is on Jolene, Stevie Wonder is Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours, Rob Thomas on This Is How A Heart Breaks, Seal is here to take part in Kiss From A Rose, and Sara Bareilles lends her voice to The Jackson Fives I Want You Back.I suppose to some this will feel like another Glee album, but these are good songs well sung, and at the end of the day that’s what matters.  Under The Influence is a great one to throw in the CD changer when you really need to peel yourself off the ceiling.COOL CUTS:  Rolling In The Deep, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (with Elton John), Against All Odds (with Phil Collins) DEEP, DEEP BLUE Dudley Taft (American Blues Artist Group) ****Taft’s second solo album is an ecstatic blast of rockin’ blues. Yes it’s a blues album, but you’ll also hear and feel southern rock and British Invasion along with his Midwestern roots. Recorded in Seattle these 8 originals and 3 covers, this is the soundtrack for a great Saturday night.Sonically, Taft’s hard edged guitar playing is enough to draw you in- but once on the inside it doesn’t take long to realize that the lyrics are more than just a convenient rhythmic fit to the melodies- this guy tells quite a story.  Bandit Queen, for instance, “is a song I wrote about Pearl Hart. She was a girl who grew up reading Cowboys and Indians comic books around the turn of the century, and decided she wanted to be like one of the characters. She left home, fell in love with a gambler and they robbed a stagecoach at a time when nobody was robbing them anymore.  They got the money and were trying to hide, but ended up going in a big circle and getting caught close to where they robbed it.”  All that in less than 3 minutes- wow.Dudley Taft’s musical sensibility is informed by artists like Skynyrd, Nugent, Foghat, ZZ Top and even Rush.  “I’m not trying to be something that I’m not” he notes. “I’m not about regurgitating stuff that everybody has done before.  The blues legends of old were breaking the rules; they were doing what they wanted.  I’m just doing what comes naturally to me.”  There are 3 covers on this disc- while I can imagine Taft’s version of Freddie King’s Palace of The King stays in the same neighborhood, Lou Reed didn’t have this kind of muscle in mind when her wrote Sally Can’t Dance, and the same goes for Bob Dylan`s Meet Me In The Morning.I guess what this all comes down is that Deep, Deep Blue is a blues machine with rock & roll running gear.  Powered by Taft`s greasy, muscular licks, this is one`s really going to stay with me.COOL CUTS: Wishing Well, Sally Can`t Dance, Deep Deep BlueBLACK TOPPIN’ The Cash Box Kings (Blind Pig) **** ½ Released March 26th, this is The Kings’ 2nd album for the Chicago based label.  The title, no doubt, is a nod to life on the road- described as “carrying on the musical traditions of post-war 1950’s Chicago blues”, these guys are about as real as it gets.Charlie Musselwhite, one of the best harp players in the game, says “How refreshing it is to hear some honest blues.  The Cash box Kings play with taste and feel and it was faith restoring to know that there are guys out there that still know and appreciate real blues.”  High praise indeed, but Charlie is right- this album sounds like it could have come out in the 50’s and 60’s, and I mean that in the best, coolest way.  I could throw this in my 5 disc CD changer with some old BB King, Albert Collins, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy, and it would sound right at home.Blind Pig describes The Cash Box Kings’ sound as “Delta and Louisiana swamp blues, jump blues and their own signature blues-a-billy”- and if that sounds like a good time, trust me… it is. I’m not privy to their recording techniques but it’s gotta be analog with just one mic on the drums, one in front of each amp, one to sing into, and everybody playing at once.  No digital patchwork puzzles here, this has to be the real deal- it’s like a night out at The Yale Hotel.Even the retro cover art is just the right touch for this disc, a definite 60’s vibe, but these 13 songs are more infinite- it feels like music that was here before me (I was born in ’58) and music that will still be here long after I’m gone.COOL CUTS: I Don’t Wanna Fight, Black Toppin’, Money Marbles N Chalk  REMEMBERING LITTLE WALTER Various Artists (Blind Pig) *****Ask anybody that blows harp about their influences and one name that will come up each time without exception is Little Walter. His revolutionary approach to the harmonica earned him comparisons to Charlie Parker and Jimi Hendrix, and he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2008.  He lived a hard life and died after a bar fight in 1968 at the age of 58, but his influence still resonates throughout the blues and rock & roll.  This live tribute brings together 5 of the greatest harmonic players still on the scene; Charlie Musselwhite, Billy Boy Arnold, Mark Hummel, James Harman and Sugar Ray Norcia.  Blues harp fans are gonna love this!Recorded at Anthology in San Diego, each of the guys on Remembering plays two Little Walter tunes, then they all jump in together on a balls-out jam of a finale on Walter’s signature tune My Babe to close off the evening. The backing band includes Little Charlie Baty on guitar and harp, Nathan James-guitar, June Core-drums and RW Grigsby-bass. They swing effortlessly behind the harp players, laying back in the pocket and letting the soloists work their magic.Certainly more than piano and at least as much as singers and guitarists, the harp is surely the voice of the blues.  From what I`ve read Little Walter was an angry man who died too young and quite likely broke, as so many legends of the Chicago blues did.  But his music- whether the original recorded versions or the reverent, passionate remakes featured on this live recording by some of his disciples- lives on, and Remembering Little Walter is one of those albums that belongs in the music library of every blues enthusiast.COOL CUTS:  Just A Feeling (Charlie Musselwhite), Mean Old World (Sugar Ray Norcia), My Babe (all-star finale) JUST FOR TODAY Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters (Stony Plain)  *****Next to guys like Buddy Guy and BB King, Ronnie Earl is one of my favorite blues guitarists, has been since I first heard him on disc in the early 00`s.  he`s two time Blues Award winner as guitarist of the year, so I`m obviously not alone in that regard.I enjoy a good blues belter but Earl`s records are mostly instrumental and that`s just fine by me.  His guitar playing here tells many stories without saying a single word.  Recorded live at 3 different theatres in Maryland, when Ronnie solos you could hear a pin drop as the audience hangs on his every note. Diane Blue lends vocals to a terrific version of I`d Rather Go Blind, but that`s pretty much it in the singing department.Lots of delicate playing on Just For Today, but that doesn`t mean The Broadcasters don`t know how to crank it up and party too.  Just give Robert Nighthawk Stomp a spin, try Blues For Hubert Sumlin or, for some wonderful barrelhouse piano, try Vernice`s Boogie. Of course Ronnie`s band deserves a tip of the hat here too- Lorne Entress on drums, Dave Limina on piano and Hammond B3, and Jim Mouradian on bass, each consummate groove masters in their own right.Not really a whole lot to say about this album, really.  As the inside sleeve says, “Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters have moved audiences since the late 1970`s through deep, soulful renditions of classic and new tunes, frequently continuing the blues tradition of sharing the stage with the younger generation.  Every Ronnie Earl performance is unique; through the musical notes of passion and pain you may laugh, clap, Dance, sit still, breathe deeply and experience joy and healing. A Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters show … is full of life!”  So listen- and enjoy.COOL CUTS: I`d Rather Go Blind (with Diane Blue), Blues For Hubert Sumlin, Blues For Celie

Previous articleOn A Brighter Note by Lori Welbourne – Here, there and everywhere
Next articleOn A Brighter Note by Lori Welbourne – Men can cake it on too
The Rock Doctor is in the Cyber House to tell you how it is! (or at least my own opinion). Want a music review? email: rockdoc@gonzookanagan.com. \m/


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.