Uncle John’s Record Barn #6

Welcome, glad you could make it this week!  Been a pretty good couple of weeks since the barn was last open- wrote some extra reviews (Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Alice In Chains) and got a nice surprise from Universal Music for my ‘enthusiastic support’ of the new album by way of a groovy new Sabbath t-shirt that actually fits!Hats off this week to my favorite store in Lloydminster, HMV.  The vinyl copies of “Technical Ecstasy” and “Never Say Die” came in, so now I have all 8 of the studio albums by the original lineup of the band on 180 gram vinyl.  They were pricey- $46.99 each, UK imports- but now that section of my collection is complete- but that’s not the full story.I had stopped in to see if the records were in yet, and they were not.  In the meantime, a new shipment was being unwrapped in the back room, and my albums were in it.  I was in line at Wok 2 Go to pick up some dinner, when a breathless HMV clerk tapped me on the shoulder.  He said that the albums had just been unwrapped and would be behind the counter if I would like to pick them up on my way out which, of course, I did.  THAT is customer service.MAGNETIC The Goo Goo Dolls (Warner)  *** ½Here is the 9th (I think) album for these Buffalo based rockers.  A slab of pop savvy rock tunes, Johnny Reznick and the boys have to be feeling pretty good about what they hath wrought.It’s the filters we all use when considering music we choose to invite (or not) into our lives.  I never got into this band because, frankly, I thought the name was stupid- still do.  All that aside, it feels like the band has a new enthusiasm for their work. “This album feels like this is where we came out the other side and are in the daylight again” notes bassist Robby Takac.  ”Buffalo has its own unique sound” says Reznick. “I think we definitely retain that.  When I pick up a guitar and start singing, it’s me.  We can’t be anybody else- I like what I sing, we like what we write.  And if we don’t like it, we don’t play it.”Other than a fistful of hits I don’t have a lot of experience with The Goos so this all feels relatively new to me.  The songs are slices of real life, energetic exercises in guitar based pop rock- stuff that just sounds good coming through the stereo, kinda feels like a good time waiting to happen. There are certainly worse ways to spend your summer.COOL CUTS: Caught in The Storm, Rebel Beat, Happiest Of Days GROOVIN`WITH THE DMQ Daniel Matto (Nova Scotia) ** ½Never heard of this guy before today.  Groovin’ is a collection of easy listening classics, such as the title cut and the Simon & Garfunkel nugget 59th Street Bridge Song. There’s a certain likability to these pop tunes I grew up on, but is there a market for this?  I wonder…Matto has a warm, relaxed singing style- not quite Buble or Harry Connick Junior, but definitely in the same easy pop/ jazz territory. A transplanted Aussie now living in Halifax, Daniel studied voice at the Australian Conservatory of Music in Sydney. Throughout this mix of originals, standards and rarities.  As Exlaim! Magazine says, “Vocalist Daniel Matto sings from a time and place that no longer exists- but should.”This kind of cocktail jazz really is from another time and place, and while my instinct is that its time has come and gone, performers like Michael Buble and now Daniel Matto prove that this kind of music will never fade away completely.  I’m always interested in music that can peel me off the walls after a tense week of writing radio commercials (my day job) and Groovin’ With The DMQ fits the bill.  I can imagine throwing this on once we’ve finished moving into our new house in August.COOL CUTS:  Oh You Crazy Moon, Groovin’, On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)MAMA SOUL Janet Ryan (CSP)  **** +Is the blues party music?  In Janet Ryan’s capable hands it sure as hell is.  Featuring her long-time backing group “The Straight Up Band” and recorded in Garland, Texas, Mama Soul will shake your foundations.Ryan’s powerful vocals take this blend of blues and soul to a whole new level.  She wears her influences on her sleeve- you’ll feel the presence of Etta James, Janis Joplin and even Buddy Guy as well as Otis and Aretha. Perhaps the thing I enjoy most about this CD is it has guts.The Straight Up Band plays behind her with the confidence and swing that only comes with spending years together jamming and gigging, the playing of guitarist Jerry Sartian a particular delight in these grooves when he lays down a hotshot solo over solid beds as laid down by the casually tight rhythm section.  And these blues wouldn’t be nearly as deep without Chuck Mabrey’s Hammond B-3- very, very tasty.Aside from blessing us with her gifts, Janet Ryan is sharing in other ways too- in recent years she has transmitted her passion to others by instructing children about the joys of music by becoming a music teacher at two elementary schools near her home in Conway, Mass., and also becoming a director of vocal studies at another local school.  Which goes to say she is spreading the love she has for this fierce music.Get your hands on this one if you can, either in the store, or on iTunes, or via Janet’s or the label website; janetryan.com or csprecords.com.  Ms. Ryan definitely has the gift.COOL CUTS: He Burned That Bridge, Mr. Misery, Learn To Let It GoSING ME THE SONGS: Celebrating The Works Of Kate McGarrigle Various Artists (Nonesuch) *****This disc features the highlights from three concerts in honor of the late singer.  After she died of sarcoma, a rare form of cancer in 2010, her children- Rufus & Martha Wainwright (along with Kate’s sister Anna) staged memorial concerts in Toronto, London and New York.  Of the shows, Rolling Stone Magazine wrote “McGarrigle wrote and sang heartrendingly personal songs throughout most of her life; hearing them now that she’s gone was emotional, to say the least. Performers and audience members alike could be seen tearing up.”  And that describes the magic of Sing me The Songs.In the early 80’s, just as my radio career was gaining a little traction, I remember playing songs by Kate & Anna McGarrigle on the radio in Trail, BC.  The sisters, discovered by Warner Brothers’ chief Lenny Waronker, after a couple of their tunes were covered by Maria Muldaur, went on the record 10 albums together.  Their work, judging by the artists involved in this concerts, was loved by many performers- aside from Rufus and Martha these 34 songs include contributions from Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, and even Jimmy Fallon.Aside from celebrating Kate’s life, fans will enjoy this for the inclusion of  I Just Want To Make It Last, a demo by the late singer.  If she were still alive, Kate McGarrigle would probably be the first to say her music isn’t for everyone.  But for those that enjoy her plaintive, deeply personal song writing, Sing Me The Songs is a slam dunk.  I rail constantly against the shallow, meaningless pop music of today-as I suspect people have done through every generation- so songs of this gentle, heartbreaking depth are apt to stand out.COOL CUTS: Kiss And Say Goodbye, Saratoga Summer Song, Love Over And OverSPORTS: 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION Huey Lewis & The News (Capitol) *** ½ I bought this on my way home from work about a month ago, to make myself feel better after a spectacularly shitty day- something I do probably more often than I should.  A great 2 disc reissue of one of my favorite 80’s albums here; the re-mastered studio original, and a disc with live performances of all the songs.  Achieving diamond status in Canada (1,000,000 copies sold) and 7 times platinum in the US, no wonder it seemed to be one of those albums that everybody had, that you would hear at every single party at the time.Sports is one of these rare albums that feels like a greatest hits record, even though it isn’t.  I Want A New Drug, Bad is Bad and The Heart Of Rock & Roll are still heard on radio today.  It`s a combination of Lewis`s warm, friendly baritone, instantly memorable melodies and songs about things we can all relate to that add up to its spectacular and lasting success.Sports is the sound of a hopeful time in life for many people my age.  Despite the fact that my first marriage was already on the hot rails to hell (my fault, to be honest), hearing this album now stirs up feelings of hope and possibility in the form of faint memories.  A good tunes is always a good tune, and that`s why Sports will always be around.Aside from the live disc Gary Graff`s liner essay with several quotes from Lewis is a nice addition.  Also included are some cool photos, and even an explanation of the iconic cover.  Lewis himself puts it best right at the end of the liner essay when he says “Itcwas lightning ni a bottle- what else can you say about it except feel a little proud?  We did the work to make it good, and after that it just took on a life of its own.  I don’t think we took any of it for granted.”COOL CUTS:  Bad Is Bad, I Want A New Drug, if This Is ItIT WASN’T REAL Gina Sicilia (Vizz Tone) **** +I remember reviewing this a couple of months ago but when the publicist asked me for the review I couldn’t find it.  That’s okay- gives me a good excuse to spin this gem again.  According to her website this is the 4th album in this seductive torch singer’s career, and a long, bright, successful career it will be.The Boston Globe praises her voice as “earthy (and) voluptuous” while Jazz Review says “(she) may be the best blues singer on the music scene today”.  Produced by 4 time Grammy winner Glenn Barratt, It Wasn’t Real is a smoky delight.  I hear a bit of Patsy Cline`s sass in her voice but her phrasing is pure jazz and blues.  “Even though I’m mostly known in the blues world, I love and I’ve absorbed all kinds of music- R&B, country, doo-wop, jazz, soul, pop and blues.  So when I get inspired to write a song, it’s likely to go anywher5e and even combine those styles” she explains.It Wasn’t Real is a mix of originals and covers- her take on Etta James` classic Don`t Cry Baby with a sinewy stand-up bass groove is a particular highlight, and worth the price of admission alone, and sums up the overall feeling of the album.  Listening to this disc conjures up images of some dark speakeasy back in the days of or prohibition, the audience sitting in rapt attention, the men in dapper suits tripping over themselves vying for Gina’s attention and affections.The long and short of it is that It Wasn’t Real is a smoldering, sensual aural delight.  You can count on hearing every track from this album on my blues show throughout the rest of the year and beyond.COOL CUTS:  City By The Water, Don’t Cry Baby, Oh Me Oh MyAVALON: A TRIBUTE TO MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT Rory Block (Stony Plain) *****+No secret that I’m a huge Rory Block fan and this, the latest (4th) in Block’s ‘Mentor Series’, may very well be the best of an already incredible lot.  To say I love this album would be an understatement.“In this effort I remember John Hurt, celebrate his music and times, and rejoice at having had the chance to meet him. Nothing will ever be the same as result, and my life has been made far richer by the experience” Rory says on the back cover of the CD.  As with her 3 previous ‘Mentor’ sets, the brief liner essay contained inside along with an excerpt from her autobiography When A Woman Gets The Blues, which really give you a sense of what the music means to her and really takes you inside these 11 songs.Avalon boasts best known songs, including Candy Man. Richland Woman Blues and Stagolee. “Missippi John Hurt was a truly unique artist” she says of the man she met in 1963.  “He left a resounding impact on our musical landscape- we think of him as outwardly mellow, sweet, singing in a whisper.  But have you pondered the words?  Alongside gospel material this gentle man sang about sex, murder, mystery, violence and steamy sensuality.”Avalon is an intimate experience, just Ms. Block, her voice and guitar.  The simplicity with which these songs- and the others in this series- are performed is deliberate.  “We don’t love the old recordings because they are crackle-free, or fancy, or have clever formats” she notes.  “No, some of the songs are one chord throughout, and almost never (have) fancy endings.”  The appeal is an earthy directness that, frankly, makes this music irresistible.Avalon is a deep and intimate blues experience that I cannot recommend highly enough.COOL CUTS:  Everybody Loves John (written by Block), Candy Man, Pay DayJAZZBLUES Amos Garrett Jazz Trio (Stony Plain) *****I remember the day this landed on my desk- a hellish day in the rat race than actually had me fantasizing about stocking shelves on the night shift at Wal-Mart. I listened to this for the last hour of my day and, by the time I was jumping in the car to head home, everything was more or less okay in my world.  In its own gentle way, Jazzblues is one of the most powerful albums I’ve ever heard.Best known as a legendary first call session guitar player, Garrett has played with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Elvin Bishop and Emmylou Harris.  He was also Maria Muldaur’s bandleader and played with Paul Butterfield’s Better Days.  All which goes to say the man has some credentials.These 8 songs- one of them over 10 minutes long- were recorded live at various locations throughout BC and Alberta.  I’ve said many times before that I know virtually nothing about jazz, but I know when it feels good and when it moves me- which Jazzblues most definitely does. I can’t articulate what makes this a good record for me, other than to say when it goes into the CD player I can feel myself drift away and open up in ways that other music just doesn’t facilitate.  It relaxes me and frees my mind to wander and go to other areas of my life that perhaps haven’t been getting the attention they deserve.Jazzblues by The Amos Garrett Jazz Trio has been a sublime and rewarding experience for me, one that I will indulge in on a regular basis- hopefully it will reveal some of those same pleasures to you too.COOL CUTS:  Little Sunflower, Freddie The Freeloader, All Blues

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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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