UNCLE JOHN’S RECORD BARN #5

UNCLE JOHN’S RECORD BARN #5Music purchases of late have been modest, as we’re saving for trips to see Kiss, Black Sabbath and The Eagles over the next few months- but I can’t let a payday pass without adding something to the music collection from HMV at the Lloyd Mall;VINYL- BASTARDS Motorhead (picture Disc)Not the most practical purchase, it will likely end up in a frame on the wall in the music room- but it happens to be my favorite Motorhead album of all time so I figured “why not?”CD’s  the ‘new’ Hendrix, John Fogerty’s Wrote A Song For EveryoneLike I said Friday on Facebook, I think it’s time they stopped raping Jimi Hendrix’s corpse.  Not that I don’t like him or his music or this album, I do- but this is mostly songs we’ve heard before, different takes and versions no doubt, and presenting People, Angels And Devils as a new album really stretches the truth.  At times like this I wonder what would have Jimi would have thought of this ‘sweeping of the vaults’ and releasing every smudge found in the corners as if it were some new revelation.  It`s not really peeking behind the wizard’s curtain, I get the feeling Jimi would be embarrassed at the pomp and circumstance surrounding these casual jams and half formed ideas.  To show Jimi Hendrix the ultimate respect would be to be content and grateful for what he gave us during his lifetime- of course that’s never, ever going to happen.As for John Fogerty’s new album, I’ll get to that in a few minutes.Years ago, I was famous amongst family and friends for well-constructed compilation discs with odd names, CD’s full of music I knew the recipient would enjoy greatly.  I was reminded of this recently when digging through a box in the music room closet- I was looking for something else, but came across a collection from 2006 that my wife & I enjoyed then, and still do today.  The reasons for the title are lost to me now, but I’m sure it was quite witty at the time;IT AIN’T CAT POOP…01-“Gift Shop”                                                The Tragically Hip (Trouble At The Henhouse)02-“I Need Love”                                           Nona Hendryx (The Heat)03-“Lido Shuffle”                                           Boz Scaggs (Greateist Hits)04-“Something So Strong”                              Crowded House (Greatest Hits)05-“You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”           Long John Baldry w/ Kathi McDonald06-“The Garden Of Allah”                              Don Henley (Actual miles: Greatest Hits)07-“What’s Good”                                          Lou Reed (Magic & Loss)08-“Ain’t It Heavy”                                        Melissa Etheridge (Never Enough)09-“River Of Tears”                                       Eric Clapton (Pilgrim)10-“Show Me The Way (live)”                       Peter Frampton (Frampton Comes Alive)11-“I Live By The Groove”                            Paul Carrack (cd single)12-“Fire”                                                        Nigel Kennedy (Stone Free: A Hendrix Tribute)13-“I Can’t Quit You Baby”                            Led Zeppelin (Zeppelin I)14-“Was It You?”                                           Stonebolt (Regenerated)15-“Black Money”                                          Vinnie James (can’t remember CD title)16-“Power Tools”                                          White Heart (can’t remember CD title)17-Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show   Neil Diamond (Gold)REVIEWSEND OF THE BEGINNING Black Sabbath (Universal cd single) ****The 2nd track released from the forthcoming album 13, due out June 11th.  A better song than God is Dead? issued in mid-April, in spots this captures the spirit of the song Black Sabbath in certain melodic shifts.  We’re also treated to a couple of Tony Iommi guitar solos, roughly a minute in length each, with Geezer Butler’s athletic bass lines once again a crucial element.  Ozzy’s vocals are a lot stronger too, and drummer Brad Wilk is swinging like vintage Bill Ward too- anything less and the song would not work. EOTB gives me great hope for the rest of the album.SUPER COLLIDER Megadeth (Universal) ***Bit of a curveball from Mustaine and his band of merry men.  Thematically it’s typical ‘deth but melodically it depends more on sustained riffs instead of their usual frantic attack, definitely more of a classic rock vibe than previously material, it feels like a slightly slower version of Almost Honest off of 1997’s Cryptic Writings. Not their best work but I’m a fan so of course I’ll be buying the album- eventually.GRINNING STREAK Barenaked Ladies (Warner) **1/2 The Ladies return to their major label home for a new disc and to celebrate their 25th anniversary- God, has it been that long since I heard the original 4 song cassette in my old program directors’ office?  Perhaps best known these days for the theme song from the hit TV show Big Bang Theory (love that show), chances of them burning up the charts with Streak do not look promising.Barenaked Ladies seemed to struggle with the transition from early novelty hits like If I Had $1,000,000 and Brian Wilson to more serious themes.  Viewed by many as a one trick pony their live shows are still well attended, but I think even they would freely admit their record sales have taken a beating.  Main vocalist and foil to Ed Robertson, Steven Page left the group in early 2009, but by then almost no one was paying attention.  In fact if Page hadn’t been involved in a coke bust around that time I doubt the personnel change would have been noticed at all.It might sound like I don’t like the band at all when in fact the opposite is true- I have all but 1 or 2 of their records and have done a few radio specials on the band.  Their sound is a pleasant folk/ pop vibe, I hear some subtle hip-hop production elements in the new album and the guys are talented musicians, but these days- in the last decade or so, really- they seem to have fallen between the cracks- there’s seems to be no place or genre for them to belong.Grinning Streak is one of their better records, probably their best since Stunt in 1998- but I get the distinct impression that nobody is paying attention.  That’s too bad- the songs are deep and personal, melodically engaging, certainly worthy of more than the cursory spin I’ve given the album.  I’ll be listening again, even if I’m not sure anybody else will.COOL CUTS: Keepin’ It Real, Boomerang, CrawlWROTE A SONG FOR EVERYONE John Fogerty (Vanguard) **** +John Fogerty’s new album is a celebration of his past, coupling him with stars from all walks of music on (mostly) classic CCR tunes and a couple of lesser known solo cuts, plus a couple of new songs. What is self-aggrandizement to some is a hell of a good time to the rest of us.Up until I heard my first Black Sabbath record in 1971 Creedence Clearwater Revival was rock & roll to me, even over and above The Beatles- the first record I remember buying by myself was CCR’s Green River. Wrote A Song was suggested by John’s wife Julie, to partner up with other folks to sing his songs.  As you might expect, some combinations work better than others- the title song, with Miranda Lambert and Tom Morello comes immediately to mind, as does the hard-charging rendition of Fortunate Son  with The Foo Fighters.  “When I let Dave know the idea for the album” John says in the current issue of Rolling Stone (with Daft Punk on the cover) “he said Fortunate Son before I finished my sentence.” Of the song itself, he notes “(it) speaks more to the unfairness of class than war itself.”Arranged and produced by Fogerty, Wrote A Song is a fine sounding album that paints him as more of a country/rock artist than perhaps anything he’s done since the first Blue Ridge Rangers record. Each artist featured here brings something new to the song at hand without screwing around with it too much.  Some of the other pairings include Brad Paisley (Hot Rod Heart), Kid Rock (Born On The Bayou) and Bob Seger, who very nearly steals Who’ll Stop The Rain right out from under Fogerty, delivering the song in such a way as to make you think he wrote it himself.Only a couple of songs fail to break the gravitational pull of the iconic originals- Lodi, with his sons Shane and Tyler, and Bad Moon Rising with the Zac Brown Band… and that’s not to say they suck, they just don’t offer anything substantially different.  In 2007 for his album Hymns For My Soul, Joe Cocker did a heartbreaking version of Long As I Can See The Light and I would’ve liked to hear the two of them on this track, but My Morning Jacket makes out alright.As a fan dating back to 1969 I could easily pick another dozen songs I’d like to have heard on Wrote A Song- but as it is, an album from John’s heart, this will do nicely.COOL CUTS:  Fortunate Son (with The Foo Fighters), Born On The Bayou (with Kid Rock), Wrote A Song For Everyone (with Miranda Lambert and Tom Morello)LIVE AT THE ACOUSTIC GRILL Al Lerman (Acoustic Jams)  *** ½Bare bones, live acoustic blues- for his second solo outing, multi-instrumentalist and blues harp ace Al Lerman is ready, able and willing to show you a good time.This disc is a case of truth in advertising. “I was elated when Steve Purtelle, owner of The Acoustic Grill in Picton, Ontario approached me with the idea of recording a live CD in his establishment.”  It is a modern, bare bones disc that is as true to who Lerman is as a musician as can possibly be- no overdubs or guest musicians; just Al, his guitar and rack harmonica.LATAG is a mix of originals and old blues standards.  “I had just released Crow River Blues which included most of the material being featured in my current live performance” he says. “Not wanting to let a good opportunity slip away, I quickly penned a few new tunes, revisited some songs I had previously written for Fathead, and brushed up on some old blues faves.”  Despite (or perhaps because of) the various sources, these dozen songs hang together as an interesting but cohesive performance, and the crowd seems to agree.Live At The Acoustic Grill is just like walking into a cool coffee shop and finding some cat with a guitar and a harmonica on a tiny little stage in the corner reeling off some great blues songs… it makes you enjoy the company you’re with a little more, and the coffee tastes better too.COOL CUTS: Move On Up, It Hurts Me Too, Miss You Like The DevilALL THE GOOD ‘UNS VOL.2 Ian Tyson (Stony Plain) *****As the title would suggest this is Tyson’s 2nd best of collection. Gathering 19 songs together from 1999 to 2012, Ian lives up to the LA Times’ appraisal of his work; “The disappearing West has no better spokesman than Ian Tyson.”I wouldn’t really call Ian Tyson a country artist or a strictly folk artist either, but perhaps a warm combination of the two, a true Western singer.  He sings about his life- the things he’s done and the things he’s witnessed and, by virtue of the life he’s lived, they are mostly western themes with strong roots in Alberta. He’s recorded a dozen albums for Stony Plain, perhaps you already have some of them in your collection; Cowboyography, Lost Herd or my favorite, Songs From The Gravel Road. This disc represents the best of those discs, and even if you don’t hold any particular fascination with life as a rancher in Alberta you’ll find his stories compelling.Ian Tyson’s songs have been recorded over the years by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Marianne Faithful, Neil Young, Tom Russell and Merle Haggard, going back to the stuff he was doing in the 60’s.  Perhaps he hasn’t had a planet-killing hit like Four Strong Winds or Someday Soon in a while, but in some ways I find the songs on Good ‘Uns Vol.2 even more vivid than his classic stuff.   If you’re game, let me suggest something; grab copies of this disc, the first All The Good ‘Uns and a copy of The Gift: A Tribute To Ian Tyson, and throw them all in your CD changer while you sit down in a comfy chair and read The Long Trail: My Life In The West, his riveting autobiography from 2010.  Sounds like a good way to finish off the weekend to me!COOL CUTS; This Is My Sky, Jerry Ambler, Charles Goodnight’s Grave 

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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/

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