Friday Night Music Exploration With the Rock Chick: Blue Stones, Blue Stingrays

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Ah, the weekend. That wonderful two day respite from the slings and arrows of work and responsibility. I read somewhere that Europe is going to or has gone to a three-day weekend. Sign me up for that. I’ve always considered Thursday to be weekend-eve anyway. If a three day weekend is creeping socialism, then call me Che Guevara. It doesn’t matter if you travel like me or work in a factory or an office building, there’s nothing as sweet as Friday night.

Friday night, to me, was always the carrier of all the hopes and aspirations for the two days of utter freedom. Anything was possible on a Friday night. Sunday night, on the back end of the weekend, always brought the crushing anxiety and weight of what was going to happen Monday morning. “Monday, Monday can’t trust that day.” They couldn’t be different emotions, Friday vs Sunday nights. Saturday tended to be date night so the population of carousing, drunken people got cut in half. Friday was the night that was going to set the tone for the weekend. I met the Rock Chick on a Friday night, such is the import I give to this particular night of the week.

It’s odd how my take on Friday night has changed since that momentous night, meeting the Rock Chick so many years ago. I used to suffer from “FOMO,” fear of missing out, most acutely on Friday. I needed to be somewhere doing something wrong. I was always trying to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I found it much more interesting than being in the right place at the right time… but perhaps it’s all just semantics. I couldn’t get out soon enough on Friday nights. My old pal, who I’ll call Tim (name changed to protect the guilty) and I cut a rather, ahem, wide swath through town. I was always in search of something… what? I’m not sure. And then, the way life does, I found it in the Rock Chick. That restless, gypsy gene was suddenly silent after a lifetime of wandering. I had come in from the cold, if you will.

Don’t get me wrong, I still look forward to Friday night with great anticipation. There just isn’t that burning need to be somewhere. I’m happy to meet my friends RJ, Doug or as I did this Friday, the Jean Genie for a drink or two at Happy Hour and then drift back to the house. More often than not these days I’ll just pull up the drawbridge, stock the moat with alligators, pour a strong and murky glass and turn up the stereo. As the rock and roll fills the room the stress and horrors of the week slide away… of course that could just be the bourbon. Most of my friends are out there still, somewhere, raising kids. The Rock Chick and I are all done with all that and the freedom is intoxicating.

Last Friday, we had nothing going on. I had been on the road and was pretty fried. The Rock Chick and I had actually gone out on Thursday night for the aforementioned “weekend-eve” (we’ve found our Thursday “hang!”) so we stayed home on Friday night. It was then the Rock Chick announced she’d done some musical spelunking and wanted to play some of her newly found music for me. There are few things in this world that make me happier than hearing those words… and since this is a PG-blog, I best not describe the things that do make me happier… ahem.

The first band she turned me onto, and I am very excited about this band, was the Blue Stones. These guys are a two-piece band in the tradition of the White Stripes or the Black Keys. They’re from Canada so we have to presume they’re nicer than those other bands. Lets hope Jack White doesn’t kick their ass. Tarek Jafar sings and plays the guitar with Justin Tessier manning the drum kit. When I listen to early records from the Stripes or the Keys, the sound was very primal or unvarnished. The Blue Stones’ first full length album Black Holes is a lot more polished than I expected. These guys sound like Cage the Elephant and the Black Keys had a baby. It’s a true meld of the sound of those two bands.

There is not a bad moment on this album. After an intro thing, without any singing, called “Airlock” the tunes come rocking out of the speakers. “The Drop,” “Black Holes (Solid Ground)” and “The Hard Part” are all great, catchy rock tunes. It’s refreshing to find a new rock and roll band to listen to! “Be My Fire,” which I believe was the single, is my favorite track. They mix it up a little bit with the last track, the more ethereal “Magic.” The track has an Edge/U2 kind of spidery guitar. It’s the longest track on the album and I found it almost haunting.

I don’t know where these guys are headed. I think they’ve got a new album coming out this year. They’ve released a track “Shakin’ Off the Rust.” I’m not as crazy about that as I was Black Holes but I look forward to hearing  more from this band. We need all the rock bands we can find. The Rock Chick really made a great discovery with these guys…

But she wasn’t done… the second band she turned me onto was the Blue Stingrays who released only one album, Surf-N-Burn. Now this album, was a huge surprise.

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This was an album of full-on surf music in the Dick Dale, Gidget-movie style. Heavy on guitar and riffing. When I saw the album art I assumed this was some lost artifact from the early 60s. “Yeah, Moondoggy, hang 10!” As usual, not content to know nothing about them, I used “the Google” to find out about this album. It wasn’t the 60s when this album was released, it was 1997. There was a whole fictional story behind this band shared on Wikipedia here:

My head snapped back when I found out who was actually in this band… It was quite a surprise. It turns out that this was a one-off album done by Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame. I had never heard of this side project. Campbell is obviously having a blast on guitar here. As Drummer Blake says, “many notes were played.” In the fake bio at the link above, it says Tench was at the session but he purportedly only called the pizza delivery guy. For this solo project Campbell recruited original Heartbreaker Ron Blair to play bass. This was five whole years prior to Blair’s rejoining the Heartbreakers and one has to wonder if this is what led Petty back to him. Also surprising for me is Mudcrutch drummer Randall Marsh plays in the Stingrays too. Again, this was years before Petty got Mudcrutch back together and I have to wonder if Campbell’s recruiting planted that seed with Petty as well.

The fictional biography in the liner notes, and quoted online, says that they recorded this legendary surf album in 1959 but the band, so intent on anonymity, wouldn’t tour or do any publicity for the album. They finally decamped to an island in Tahiti to perfect the surf sound. Obviously, that’s ridiculous. It’s like the Traveling Wilburys or Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band… famous people pretending to be someone else and being liberated by doing so.

This is probably not your every day listen but I love this album. Its completely instrumental and Campbell’s guitar tone is something to behold. They play straight-up Dick Dale surf music. They also do a fabulous cover of “Goldfinger” from the James Bond film of the same name. It’s my favorite track on here. I always wondered why Petty & the Heartbreakers did that song on their Live Anthology box set, now I know. It was a nod to legendary surf band, the Blue Stingrays. This music is played with such sincerity and skill it’s hard not to get addicted to this album.

I urge all of you to seek the Blue Stingrays out. If you’re a fan of guitar, or just good time music, this is the ticket. It’s great background music for a summer party…because let’s face it, no one except me really pays attention to the music you play at a party. And, I’ll admit, I not only pay attention, I judge you on your musical tastes… (heh heh). Just kidding.

Check out these two great bands, you’ll thank me later!

 

 

 

 

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New Single: Ozzy’s Triumphant Return, “Under the Graveyard”

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“Today I woke up and I hate myself, Death doesn’t answer when I cry for help…” – Ozzy Osbourne, “Under the Graveyard”

You can always count on Ozzy Osbourne to deliver the goods…

I have to admit, my introduction to “heavy metal” did not go well. I didn’t get a stereo until Christmas of ’78 – well sort of a stereo, it was one of those “all-in-one” units (turntable/cassette/radio with hardwired speakers). I wasn’t even in high school yet. My first album, as I’ve documented, purchased with a little bit of my own cash I’d received for Christmas was the Stones’ Some Girls. After that I started to tentatively expand my record collection. Most of the stuff I had early on in my collection was “of that time,” or released in the late 70s. The idea of going back in time to buy an artist’s back catalog, like my brother had done with the Beatles or the Byrds, was inconceivable to me. Rather than realizing I could buy all the Stones’ albums, I just taped my brother’s copy of Hot Rocks and listened to it on the cassette player.

Beyond the Stones, I picked up ZZ Top’s Deguello, Queen’s News of the World and Supertramp’s Breakfast In America which I traded to my brother for Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. I had heard the Blues Brothers’ Briefcase Full of Blues playing from the room of my friend’s older, beautiful, buxom sister so I bought it in the hopes that a musical connection would lead to a more…temporal connection. It didn’t, she was in high school and I was in junior high. Dare to dream big, young man. It did solidify my love of the blues. I also purchased the Doobie Brothers’ Minute By Minute not because I’m a Michael McDonald fan, but because I’d heard it at a party and saw that it had a joint on the inner sleeve art work, which gave it an instant stamp of “cool” or at least tacit approval, if you will. My record buying habit grew as quickly as my thirst for beer until my father once made a rare appearance in my room and scratching his head said, “You’ve got all of these records, why do you need any more?” Apparently he didn’t realize there was different music on each record.

My Sainted mother, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care. At the time, her best friend was this lady I’ll call Betsy (name changed to protect the guilty). Betsy had a daughter my age and a son my brother’s age. They were a bit more rough and tumble than we were. Betsy’s daughter was one of those hang around behind the school smoking cigarette types. Nice girl, just a bit too dangerous for my taste and speed. Betsy was a boozy woman who liked to smoke red Marlboro 100s. I would come home from school and more often than not, Betsy was sitting at our kitchen table, a few empty brews scattered in front of her, with an ashtray nearby. When she found out that I was suddenly “into music” she decided she was going to bring some of her children’s records over so I could listen to them and record them on cassette if I found them to my liking. I seem to remember nodding and thinking this was probably nothing but also being intrigued at getting to expand my music collection.

I was all of like, maybe 13 years old and the next thing I know I’m staring at a stack of vinyl from Betsy whose cover art images were like nothing I’d ever come across up to that point. I’m not sure what was going on over at Betsy’s house, but these were scary images. I wondered if Social Services had been called. I don’t remember all of the albums but the first one I saw was Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. This is the image I beheld:

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While it was nice to see some of these rumored nipples, it depicts some poor bastard being ravaged and killed by demons, on a bed with a skull and a 666 on the headboard. I was still Catholic at the time and that put a little jolt of fear in me. I’ll admit, I read the Book of Revelation and these Sabbath characters scared me. I couldn’t help but think, what the fuck is this? I dropped the needle on the album and the sound emanating out of the headphones was not at all comforting. I couldn’t help but think…Betsy’s kids are listening to this noise? Where’s the melody, where’s the hook?

The stack went on. Judas Priest’s British Steel, I have a vague memory of some Iron Maiden and I think, Sabbath’s Volume 4. I know there was more, but after that mind numbing collection, I was done with Betsy’s kids’ records. I made a mental note… avoid Betsy’s kids, they’re Satanic. Oddly, all these years later, I own and love all of these albums.

Sometimes, it just takes a little time before we’re ready for certain music. It only took me a year until my tastes had turned to harder rock. I say harder rock because it’s increasingly difficult for me to identify what exactly Heavy Metal is supposed to be. I started listening to Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith who I’ve heard called Heavy Metal, but I consider more “hard rock.” I bought AC/DC’s Back In Black which may have crossed the line into Heavy Metal, but in my mind they’re too bluesy to be Metal. It wasn’t until the Dio fronted Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell that I bought my first metal album. I didn’t even know it was the same band as that frightening day with Betsy’s kids’ records. I had heard Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” and loved it, but for some reason never bought the album. I also never connected this Ozzy guy with Black Sabbath until much later. We all have to grow up in ignorance. And while I consider myself a fan of heavy metal… it’s not like I’m sitting around listening to Opeth or Samson. I need some melody. I hear that “cookie-monster” vocal stuff and I can’t turn it off fast enough…

I remember working at York Steak House in Oak Park Mall, near the house, when I heard on the back kitchen radio, “Flying High Again” by Ozzy. I bought the album the next day. “Mama’s gonna worry, I’ve been a bad, bad boy… no use sayin’ sorry, it’s something that I enjoy.” I was hooked. I realized this guy is the Prince of Darkness and I wanna bathe in that darkness. The music rocked, it was melodic, there was a sense of humor and yeah, I’ll say it again, the music rocked. I’ve been on the Ozzy bandwagon ever since. And while Ozzy has had some down moments in his career, for the most part his albums are of the highest quality. He always seems to find a great guitarist to play with him – from Randy Rhodes to Jake E. Lee to Zakk Wylde and so forth.

I was thrilled to discover the other day that Ozzy is back for the first time since 2010’s Scream, which was a solid record. I have to admit, I liked 2007’s Black Rain more than Scream and it is one of my all time favorite Ozzy records. I saw him on that tour and I can only tell you my hearing will never be the same. I can’t believe it’s been almost a decade without any new solo Ozzy. Although, he did reunite with Sabbath for a fantastic record, 13 and tour (Black Sabbath Live & The Four Horsemen of the Salinapocalypse).

Ozzy’s upcoming 2020 album is called Ordinary Man and he’s released the new single, “Under the Graveyard” and I love this track. Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers plays drums and, among others, helped write the track. Duff McKagan of GnR fame is on bass and producer Andrew Watt plays guitar. I guess he and Ozzy met while Ozzy was laying down some vocals for a Post Malone (?) song. I heard the track and Ozzy is the best part of it. It’s his best cameo since that Lita Ford duet back in the 80s.

“Under the Graveyard” starts off as an epic ballad. Ozzy’s vocals are introspective and vulnerable. It’s pretty amazing lyrically… and yes, I’m sure Ozzy had help writing the lyrics. I thought, well this is a pretty mellow comeback until about half way through the song when Watt unleashes this monster riff… I looked at the Rock Chick, a fellow Ozzy fan, and said, “Shit, that sounds like Sabbath!” I can’t believe I’ve come full circle from young tween afraid of Sabbath to elated that Ozzy sounds like them for a brief moment on the track. Watt’s guitar is fabulous and helps build this to a fabulous crescendo. This is probably the best thing I’ve heard from Ozzy in quite a while.

All of us here at B&V are thrilled Ozzy is coming back with a new album. I think this track is going to be a great harbinger of RAWK to come!! Turn this one up loud and remember… don’t be afraid kids. It’s only rock and roll… and you can’t kill rock n’ roll, you can only sing along.

 

 

LP Review: Van Morrison’s New, All Originals, ‘Three Chords & The Truth’ – A Laid Back Groove

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Back in the sixties, bands ran on a short cycle. It was record an album, brief tour and back to the studio to record the next album, rinse, repeat. There were no three and four year gaps between studio albums… or six years when you’re Pearl Jam. In the 70s it was a huge deal and considered potentially career-ending when Springsteen took four years to follow-up Born To Run. In the sixties, only releasing one album a year was considered being artistically indulgent. Creedence Clearwater Revival alone released three landmark albums in 1969. They also played an incendiary set at Woodstock (LP Review: Creedence Clearwater Revival, ‘Live At Woodstock’ – Released 50 Years Later). One has to wonder when they slept.

Today it’s virtually unheard of to produce that kind of recorded output…artists have more autonomy and hold back to resist “burn out.” Enter Van the Man, Van Morrison. Over the last four years Van has released six albums. Perhaps he thinks we’re still living in the sixties. He must get paid by the song. All of this started with one of his greatest late period albums, Keep Me Singing which we loved here at B&V (LP Review: Van Morrison, “Keep Me Singing” Rock’s Curmudgeon’s Understated, Rootsy Return). Well, I say “we” loved it at B&V, I loved it… The Rock Chick’s stance on Van has not changed in all the years we’ve been together and her feelings are, well, negative. Van is to the Rock Chick what the Eagles were to the Dude. Which is ironic because the Rock Chick also hates the Eagles. When she asked me what I was writing today, I said, “That Man,” her nickname for Van… she said, “Oh” and in that one syllable expressed as much displeasure as if she’d shouted at me. To each, indeed, their own.

I get it, many people have lost touch with Van. It was the late 60s to mid 70s when his work found its greatest fame. From the spiritual Astral Weeks to the pastoral groove of Veedon Fleece, Van could do no wrong. His albums after that were hit and miss for most people. Van’s style of music has been described as “Celtic Soul” which is perfect. Van has always been a searcher on the spiritual plane. At his best, his music has a transcendent quality. Many of his songs have a way of reaching into your chest cavity and seizing you by the heart. I can’t hear “So Quiet In Here” without going to a Zen bliss place that is hard to describe. Even on his more criticized albums there’s always a song or two that will grab me.

I own a ton of Van on vinyl… but I’m like most people since ’74 I’ve sort of used a “picked and choose” strategy on my Van albums. I will say, starting in 2002 with Down the Road Van hit a hot streak that rivaled Dylan’s late career resurgence. What’s Wrong With This Picture, Magic Time and Keep It Simple were all great albums. Since then, I’ve gone back to a pick and choose strategy. Even the six albums over the last four years have fit that pattern. I shied away from the more jazz-influenced LPs, Versatile and You’re Driving Me Crazy but eagerly snapped up Keep Me Singing, Roll With the Punches (LP Review: Van Morrison, ‘Roll With The Punches,’ A Laid-Back Blues Party) and The Prophet Speaks which was released a mere 11 months ago (LP Review: Van Morrison Returns (Already) With the Bluesy Jazz of ‘The Prophet Speaks’). Admittedly, most of these albums (except Keep Me Singing) were heavy on covers and guest spots.

Recently Van has returned with a new album of all original, Van-written tunes named Three Chords And the Truth. It’s his first album without cover songs since Keep Me Singing. I must admit to being both surprised he was putting out a new album (I don’t know why I was surprised, he’s downright prolific), and worried. The phrase “three chords and the truth” was coined by some old country music singer to describe country music. Bono also plagiarized the line on Rattle and Hum…must be an Irish thing. I was afraid this would be a genre exercise in country music, which could have gone either way. I am pleased to say, this isn’t a country album.

While this album doesn’t rise to the heights of Keep Me Singing (few albums by anybody could), this is another great Van Morrison album. Gone is the blues-rock firebrand of Them. Van’s music is more of a smooth groove. As I often say, Van is a sitting-on-the-deck, after closing time, sipping a glass of something dark and murky kind of music. These are the kind of songs I’ll put on while staring up at the nighttime sky, after everyone else with any sense has slipped off to bed. Some of us night owls just like to stare into the void and contemplate the infinite while riding a nice whiskey buzz.

Van is backed predominantly by his touring band – which try as I may, the internet would not reveal the names of his band members. Van really should put these guys names/instruments on his website… In another stroke of genius, he brings acoustic, jazz guitar whiz Jay Berliner who also played on Astral Weeks to play on this record.He doesn’t play on all of the tracks but when Berliner plays he makes his presence felt. His playing fits the laid back groove of this album perfectly. He and Van’s chemistry is undeniable. I will say right up front, at over an hour and seven minutes, this album is a lot to absorb. And it may be too mellow for a lot our B&V readers. Van’s vocals remain incredibly strong for a man his age and it’s worth the price of admission for me here. There’s a lot of acoustic guitar and Hammond B-3 to move the tracks along.

The album starts off on the right track with the soulful “March Winds In February” where Berliner announces his presence with a great acoustic guitar solo. That song sticks to your brain. Then the album veers into its only misstep – the awful “Fame Will Eat the Soul.” The subject is a dead horse that Van seems to like to beat on almost every album. We get it Van, fame sucks. Well, except for the money and all the chicks. For reasons unclear he has Bill Medley from Righteous Brothers fame duetting with him here. Medley sounds like he’s been gargling fiberglass. It’s as if a drunk uncle at a wedding charged the stage and grabbed the microphone. At the end they’re both singing, “stop, stop, stop” and I couldn’t help but think, yes, please stop.

I almost gave up on the album after that track but I’m glad I didn’t because the next track was one of those great, Van, transcendent turns on “Dark Night of the Soul.” This is maximum Celtic soul. It’s almost an incantation, more prayer than hymn. There are many moments like that to follow. Van’s rewrite of “Auld Lang Syne” entitled “Days Gone By” is wonderful track in the same vein. “I want to drink a cup of kindness with you…” is a great lyric. “Up On Broadway” is perhaps Van’s strongest vocal on the album, amongst a collection of great vocal performances. “Doesn’t Love Conquer All,” a rare positive track lyrically and “If We Wait For Mountains” keep the smooth, laid back groove going.

There are a few tracks that break the Celtic soul mold and they stick out because they’re so different. I love the title track. It has a more R&B feel to it. “Bags Under My Eyes” an on-the-road complaint has a slightly country vibe with its pedal steel. “Early Days” sees Van revisiting the, yes, early days of rock and roll with rollicking piano that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Jerry Lee Lewis record. “Nobody In Charge” is a jazzy-jaunty little track with political lyrics so vague it barely rises to the level of protest. These are nice change of pace tunes to shake up the tempo of the album.

I would have liked this album more if they’d cut a track or two and got it down to under an hour, but like almost everything, I’ll always take more if I can get it. This is an album I would recommend to any Van Morrison fan out there. Van is certainly back on a roll these days. Join me on the patio with a glass of whiskey and some Van Morrison folks, this ride isn’t going to last forever!

Cheers!

 

Movie Review: ‘Echo In The Canyon’ – Flawed, Enjoyable Look at Cali ’65-’67

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As avid, repeat readers of B&V already know, my corporate masters often force me to travel to far flung places in order to do my job. I’m hitting all the garden spots these days from Des Moines to Phoenix to Minneapolis. That’s Minneapolis in November people. This is not glamorous travel. Yes, there’s a lot of eating and drinking on the road but I’m to the point where I’m kind of over that. I never know when I’ll be asked to drop everything and head to the airport.

When I’m actually home, I like to Netflix and chill, which I have always thought meant watch shows on Netflix and well, chill out. Apparently there may be another meaning to that phrase… I may need to ask someone younger… Anyway, my travel schedule doesn’t really allow me to watch “network television.” Not that I’ve been a fan of watching anything the networks put out… I haven’t really been a big TV fan since they cancelled Kojak. I like to watch football and tennis on TV and that’s about it. I’m not like those, “I only watch sports and public television” type of snobs (ahem, Doug). After a long day at work, when I am at home, I do like to veg out on the couch and binge-watch something.

After recently returning from one of my extended trips away, the Rock Chick said, “I’ve found a bunch of things we need to watch.” This is always a happy announcement. However, sadly, Eddie Murphy’s Dolemite was one of them… don’t waste your time (full disclosure, it was one of my picks). One of the first things she pulled up was a documentary on Netflix called Echo In the Canyon. It’s a documentary focusing on L.A.’s famous Laurel Canyon, a haven for artists and rock stars back in the heyday of rock and roll. Rock and roll doc, a rockumentary, Hell Yes! It was put together by director Tom Slater and Jakob Dylan (son of Bob, formerly of the Wallflowers) who also serves as the narrator/chief interviewer. There’s a funny piece of dialogue between Jakob and David Crosby when Crosby says, “And then Dylan showed up…” and Jakob, very deadpan responds, “You’re going to have to be more specific.”

The doc traces the influence of the Beatles to the Beach Boys and then through a series of iconic bands from the mid-to-late sixties. The show is divided between archival footage of the bands, to interviews with members of the bands (Crosby, Roger McGuinn, Michelle Phillips, Brian Wilson, Stephen Stills) to shots of current artists sitting around discussing the  music and the time that generated it (Beck, Cat Power, Jakob, Norah Jones). It appears after filming the documentary, Jakob Dylan got a bunch of people together, both in the studio and at a one-off concert to recreate the songs. They released a soundtrack and the covers are mostly reverential. The only track that really caught my ear was Jakob and Fiona Apple duetting on the Beach Boys “In My Room,” a song I’d never heard before but instantly loved. It’s an interesting listen. Beck and Norah Jones, two of our B&V favorites have tracks on the soundtrack too.

In the middle sixties the Beatles were king. Their influence can not be overstated. The documentary which features Ringo (we all love Ringo, Peace and Love, baby), starts with them and their influence. They’d spent time in Laurel Canyon on one of the early tours. Laurel Canyon was a hot bed of artists (I’m talking painters/poets not just guitarists) and musicians. All these different bands had people who lived in the Canyon. They’d jam all the time. They’d show up at each other’s houses and write songs and try out new material. If I were to die and reawaken in Laurel Canyon in the sixties I’ll know I’m in heaven. It had to be rock and roll Nirvana.

The film starts with Jakob Dylan and Tom Petty hanging out in a music store, surrounded by guitars. I’ll admit, it sort of hit me hard to see Tom Petty sitting there surrounded by guitars talking about folk-rock and the Byrds. He strums a tune on a Rickenbacker (which he says is pronounced “back” not “bach”) from the She’s the One Soundtrack, and after a few chords, he smiles a devilish smile and says to the camera, “that’s all you get… you can’t afford any more.” God, do we miss Tom Petty. He sets up the entire story…

The main band at the beginning of this story is the Beach Boys. Now, in full disclosure, I’ve always hated the Beach Boys. Besides Brian Wilson they didn’t really play instruments. They were the sixties N’Sync if you ask me. But I’ll begrudgingly admit the huge influence they also had. They were influenced by the Beatles and “genius” Brian Wilson in turn influenced the Beatles… and back and forth it went. Pet Sounds is compared to Bach in the documentary. That influence was even greater on some of their American compatriots.

From the Beach Boys we go to Roger McGuinn and the Byrds. McGuinn was also influenced by the Beach Boys and especially the Beatles. He started playing Beatles tunes, stripped down and acoustic for folk fans in the Village in New York city. They didn’t dig it, so he packed up and headed out to the Canyon to form the Byrds with David Crosby, amongst others. Crosby is interviewed at length and even admits that, well, he was kind of an asshole. He was kicked out of the band for writing a song about a threesome… “Triad.” Hell, that’s what a lot of songs are about these days… I don’t see the issue there. Ironically the Jefferson Airplane recorded the track a few years later.

From the Byrds the line runs to the Mamas and Papas. They too were trying to make it in New York and then migrated to the Canyon. Michelle Phillips is on hand to recount her glory days, sleeping with everyone. Go Michelle, go! She explains the genesis of such legendary songs as “Do What You Want to Do” and “California Dreaming.” The vocal harmonies in that band were incredible. Mama Cass never gets the credit she so richly deserves. I found myself loading tracks from their greatest hits onto my iPod.

After that the story heads over to a band I’ve always under-appreciated, the Buffalo Springfield. Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay all in the same band. They showed some great clips of the guys back in the sixties. Stephen Stills apparently was very fond of cowboy hats in those days. What a great band. I only had their Retrospective hits LP, and after this documentary I quickly rushed out and bought their debut, eponymously titled LP. What a classic. That’s the key to this whole documentary – I was filled with the need to go and seek out these bands and explore their music. I urge all of you to do the same.

Now, I have to admit the choices they made here were pretty limited. The Monkees, who always get a bad rap, also lived in the Canyon and they’re ignored. Hell, they used a lot of the same session musicians the Beach Boys used. The Monkees hung out with the Beatles too, you know? They learned to play their instruments and in 1967 they had the second biggest selling LP of the year behind Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Which means they sold more LPs than Hendrix, who once opened for them. They totally ignore the Queen of Laurel Canyon (if you will), Joni Mitchell. Where is she in this? They talk to producer Lou Adler, you’d think they’d talk to or about Joni. Jim Morrison of the Doors lived out there but I guess his music is outside the narrow focus of folk-rock, country-rock. Yes, this rockumentary is slightly flawed if you ask me.

All of that said, if you accept the narrow focus of the documentary, then this is a very enjoyable watch. And again, everyone should seek out this music, whether it’s the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas, the Buffalo Springfield, and try to find it on vinyl. If you were to pass below my  home office window this week, you’d think it was 1966 up here… I’ve been dancin’ around all week with a fringe jacket and bell bottoms on. It’s groovy stuff people and we all need more groovy these days.

Cheers!

LP Review: ‘Colorado’ the Return of Neil Young & Crazy Horse With Nils Lofgren!

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When I heard that Neil Young was reuniting with Crazy Horse to record an album, I’ll admit, I got excited. It was the most interest I’ve had in something new from Neil since, well, his last album with Crazy Horse, the epic Psychedelic Pill in 2012. When I heard that Nils Lofgren was going to be stepping in as the other guitarist I was doubly excited. Nils first played with Neil on After the Gold Rush, although for reasons unclear Neil had the then 17-year old guitarist play piano instead of his chosen instrument. This was clearly a reunion and album to be excited about. While I’m sure those Promise of the Real kids who have been playing with Neil of late (they’re Willie Nelson’s sons) are great guys, they ain’t Crazy Horse.

I have to admit up front, it wasn’t until college that I got into Neil Young. My college roommate Drew was into Young and I ended up buying the three-album greatest hits package, Decade (a huge investment in those days). That purchase led me to a lifetime appreciation of Neil Young and the great music he’s put out. Neil is a bit like Clapton in that he’s played with a lot of different bands. He started with Stephen Stills in Buffalo Springfield, went solo, recruited Crazy Horse as a backing band, joined Crosby Stills Nash, put together another back-up band called the Stray Gators and then went solo again. He even briefly joined Stills’ band for one album as the Stills-Young Band, Long May You Run. The grass doesn’t grow under Neil’s feet.

I was in a bar recently (shocking) and someone asked me if Crazy Horse was Neil’s version of Wings, McCartney’s backing band from the 70s. “Christ no,” I exclaimed with perhaps a bit too much passion. Who else is going to teach the children about rock and roll? Crazy Horse, or more accurately the musicians who make up Crazy Horse, began as an L.A. band known as the Rockets. After the mixed reaction to his first solo album, post-Buffalo Springfield, and after jamming with the Rockets, Neil recruited members Danny Whitten (guitar/vocals), Ralph Molina (drums) and Billy Talbot (bass) to back him on his second album, the jammy Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. He renamed them, Crazy Horse. There were other members of the Rockets who I guess didn’t seem to realize that Neil had coopted the band, but with a song entitled “Running Dry (Requiem For the Rockets)” you can’t say he didn’t warn them.

They toured to support the album and the guitar solo’ing was epic. I advise everyone to check out Live At the Fillmore East from Neil’s archive series as documented proof. But then Neil jumped into CSNY. On his next solo album, After The Gold Rush, Young kind of combined Crazy Horse and the CSNY backing band. Greg Reeves played bass (from CSNY) with Ralph Molina on drums (from Crazy Horse). Throw in Lofgren on piano and you’ve got Neil’s first masterpiece. It couldn’t have been more different than the long, extended jams on Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere. That album had long, guitar workouts like “Cowgirl In the Sand” and “Down By the River.” Gold Rush had the epic “Southern Man” but it was mostly acoustic/piano ballads.

After that Young recorded Harvest and suddenly our idiosyncratic singer/songwriter was a Superstar. His subsequent record, Time Fades Away (Neil Young: The Elusive 1973 “Time Fades Away” LP), was seen as a repudiation of that superstardom. During the rehearsals for that tour, Young was trying to enlist Danny Whitten from Crazy Horse to play second guitar, but Whitten was struggling too much with heroin addiction. Neil eventually had to fire Whitten, who was found dead later that night of a valium/alcohol mix that has claimed so many.

Despite that, Neil carried on with Crazy Horse on Tonight’s the Night. Nils stepped in on guitar. Jack Nitzsche joined on piano. And really, Neil has been playing with Crazy Horse, off and on, ever since. There have been various members over the year, but the guys who played with Young the most were Molina, Talbot, and guitarist Frank Sampedro, who Young supposedly hired because he had good weed. Regardless of why he hired Sampedro, he’s been one of Neil’s greatest guitar foils over the years. The chemistry those guys have is amazing. These four guys have put out some amazing albums over the years: Ragged Glory (a must-have, classic from 1990), Sleeps With Angels (94), and their last outing, 2012’s Psychedelic Pill. 

I loved Psychedelic Pill. I remember seeing Neil interviewed around that time and he said something like, “I just play better guitar with Crazy Horse.” I give credit to Sampedro. The songs on Psychedelic Pill evolved out of long, extended jams. There are three songs that run, 27:36, 16:49 and 16:27 respectively. Damn. Listening to those long guitar workouts evokes listening to classical music as much as rock and roll… well classical music played by really loud instruments. When I heard that Sampedro had retired, I wondered if that was the end of Crazy Horse… Enter Nils Lofgren, guitar virtuoso. I thought, well this album is going to be another jamming, guitar-fest. As with everything with Neil, I was in for a surprise.

Colorado, the new Neil Young and Crazy Horse album isn’t anything at all like Psychedelic Pill. This is, for the most part, a collection of tight songs, with only one long jam. The tracks run from 2:45 to around 6 minutes, save for “She Showed Me Love,” which runs over 13 minutes. The album was recorded up in the mountains, in Colorado, hence the name. Molina, Talbot and Neil Young are, as mentioned joined by Nils Lofgren on guitar, piano and vocals. I’ll admit again, this album was nothing of what I expected. It’s muted and somewhat somber. The theme is pretty obvious – Neil has turned his concerns to the environment (long a concern of his) and climate change. I don’t hear any current bands taking up the mantle of writing protest songs so it’s left up to the man who wrote the greatest protest song ever, “Ohio,” to step up and do it. Nobody else is writing lines like, “Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming, we’re finally on our own…” And folks, we are definitely on our own when it comes to climate change.

I’ll be the first to tell you this album is no masterpiece. But I’ll say it’s a strong Neil Young and Crazy Horse album. It’s the strongest thing he’s done since their last outing. I’m not trying to knock Promise of the Real, and I hear they’re great live, but I just haven’t connected with any of Neil’s work with them. Like Joe Strummer once said, and I’m obviously fond of repeating, “Never underestimate the chemistry of four guys in a room.”

The first track I heard on XM Radio in my car was “Rainbow of Colors.” Like most of the reactions I’ve seen, I did not react well. It comes off as an anthem, much like “Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)” from Ragged Glory. It comes off as more of a hymn than a song. I have to suspect that played live with people singing along, it’s much more effective. It’s really the only song on here that I would call a “clunker.” Neil’s voice has aged and it creaks a bit here and there, but if you’re complaining about Neil’s vocals at this stage in the game, you’re probably on the wrong train.

The best moments on this album are the acoustic ones. “Think of Me” is the opener, and it’s an upbeat acoustic track that competes for the best track on the album. The other track that I think is a standout is “Green Is Blue” a heartfelt ballad which serves as requiem for the environment. Those two tracks are worth the price of admission here. “Milky Way” is an acoustic-based love song and it’s another great track. Album closer “I Do” is another affecting, stripped-down, quiet ballad and is a perfect end. I like “Eternity” until the backing vocals start singing “clickety-clack” to sound like a train. We get it from the drums, it’s about a train. “Olden Days” is a great mid tempo thing led by Neil’s guitar while he sings about seeing an old friend (or perhaps a lover).

The rocking songs are bit of a mixed bag. “She Showed Me Love” is the 13-minute epic. The she of the title is, of course, Mother Nature. I can’t tell if lines like “I saw Mother Nature pushing Earth in a baby carriage” are Neil joking about how old he is, or just awkward. The guitar work stretches the tune and makes it interesting to me. “Help Me Lose My Mind” is a track that sounds like a grunge rocker from the 90s, something Nirvana might have done. I like the line from that one, “I have to get a new television…to make the sky look like the Earth is flat.”  “Shut It Down” is a glorious noise, it almost sounds like Punk rock. Neil sings that track with an urgency.

Again, this album is not a Neil Young & Crazy Horse masterpiece, but it’s a damn good album from these guys. Fifty years removed from Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, its nice to see Neil turn back to Crazy Horse and record such a strong record. The chemistry between them and with Nils is still something to behold.

And lets face it, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to “shut the whole system” down every now and again…

 

 

LP Review: Starcrawler’s Sophomore Effort, ‘Devour You’

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I have to admit, right off the top, I’m impressed.

There’s an old saying in music – I’ll try and get it right – that goes: you have your whole life to write your first album and two weeks to write your second one. It was a giddy Bono during his Rock Hall of Fame speech, when speaking about the band’s sophomore album October, who described it as “the difficult second album.” So many bands have faced the “sophomore slump” that they are way too numerous to mention here. The Aussie band Jet springs to mind, I don’t know why.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. For some reason I was thinking about the Black Crowes second album this week. I loved their debut album, it came out about the same time as GnR’s first record and I thought rock and roll had been saved for generations to come. Then I heard The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion when it came out and I liked it even more. I can remember singing the lead single, “Remedy” outside a club in Dallas on a road trip and mixing up the lyrics to go, “baby, baby why you dry (sic) your hair.” Uh, the line is “dye your hair.” While the Cars debut should have just been called “Cars Greatest Hits” I’ve always liked Candy-O as much or (gasp) better. That may be because every track on The Cars was wildly overplayed on the radio.

All of that aside, Starcrawler – Arrow de Wilde (vocals), Austin Smith (drummer), Henri Cash (guitar) and Tim Franco (bass) – dropped their second album a couple of weeks ago, just before I was to see them live Concert Review: Starcrawler, 10/14/2019, At Kansas City’s Riot Room – Punk Rock Rag Doll Delivers. If you haven’t seen them, do so, post haste. I will say right off the bat, Starcrawler is not suffering from a slump, sophomore or otherwise. If anything this band is growing and developing at an alarmingly fast rate. They take the menacing punk energy of their first album and expand upon it. They replaced producer Ryan Adams from their debut (New Band Alert: Starcrawler – Edgy Punk Rock From Los Angeles) with Nick Launay (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) for Devour You and I like the different directions he’s pushing them.

The album starts off with “Lizzie” a song about a bully that would have fit right in with the dark energy of their debut…”I think I’m gonna fall DOWN!” From there the band takes us on an ever-expanding palette of sounds and subjects. The first single, “Bet My Brains” will just gallop into your subconscious, perhaps against your will. Tim Franco’s bass line is pure opium, it’s that addictive. Although when singing it in the shower I found myself messing up the lyrics to “Bless my brains I’ve gone insane,”… some things never change and my inability to sing proper lyrics is apparently one of them. It’s a great single, it may be their “Satisfaction” or “My Generation.” It’s that good. Although I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for “Ants.”

I don’t want to do what I did with Greta Van Fleet and suggest that these guys are derivative of anybody – they are fiercely original – but I get more of Celebrity Skin-era Hole vibe on this record than the Runaways-meets-metal vibe of the debut. It has more of a grunge vibe to me. “Home Alone” has a jaunty Velvet Underground feel to it… again, not suggesting any derivation here, just suggesting the vibe I’m feeling. They’re doing so much more on Devour You than on the first record, it’s impressive.

My favorite songs on the album are breakup laments. “No More Pennies” with it’s Exile-era Stones vibe is my absolute favorite track of theirs (they even name drop “Dead Flowers”). “Hollywood Ending” explores the same theme but with an entirely different sound and vibe. “Born Asleep” is another great mid tempo thing with a wobbly solo from Cash and perhaps Arrow’s best vocal yet. They’re all great songs. “You Dig Yours” is a fabulous kiss-off song, where Arrow summons a bitchy chorus, “you dig yours, and I’ll dig mine.” “I Don’t Need You” explores the same subject terrain with a more muscular attack (“you only show up when you want to fuck”).

“Toy Teenager” is a great punk-y put down song as well…”all you are is a clothing hanger.” “Toy Teenager” makes me wonder if it’s aimed at a certain model, but how would I know? I can’t tell if “She Gets Around” is a put down or a song about female empowerment. I’m going to bet on the latter. “Rich Taste” and “Tank Top” are both great tracks. The former is kind of funny which I hadn’t expected and the latter is an expression of fashion and freedom…”she never wears a dress, she looks her very best, she goes to bed and spreads her legs in a tank top…”

I can’t say enough about the drumming of Austin Smith, he powers each song forward. He and bassist Tim Franco are the engine of this car. I really like Henri Cash on guitar. His playing is expanding in all sorts of different directions. His solos are compact, economical and powerful. This band just keeps getting better and better. Arrow de Wilde’s vocals more nuanced on this album than they were on the debut as well. She’s bringing the natural charisma she exudes on stage into the studio. The songwriting is getting sharper and sharper.

There is a lot of hype around the aforementioned Greta Van Fleet, and having seen them live this summer, there should be. I would tell you for my money, Starcrawler is just as important for the continuation of rock and roll as GVF. These guys are raw, rocking and utterly irreverent. I have to say I love it all. We need more in-your-face, fuck you, nasty rock and roll and Starcrawler provides it. Give this band a chance, they’ll crawl under your skin and into your brain… pretty soon you too will be botching the lyrics to “Bet My Brains” in the shower, with your shampoo mohawk on full display… that may be TMI…Jump on this bandwagon, it’s like getting in on the ground floor of Apple back in the day. It’ll pay off in a big way.

Cheers!

B&V Playlist: Songs About The Moon

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“So if you want to write a song about the heart, and it’s ever-longing for a counterpart, write a song about the moon.” – Paul Simon, “Song About The Moon”

I’ve been away for a while. It’s been a heavy travel time here at B&V but luckily not all of it was dictated by my corporate overlords. As I travel I tend to peruse social media quite a bit. I noticed a while back there were a bunch of posts about the 50th anniversary of the United States putting a man on the moon. My father always said his jaw dropped in disbelief the first time he heard JFK say that it was his goal to put a man on the moon. Space exploration was inconceivable at the time. Way to go science! Of course, I recently discovered that someone in my wife’s family believes they faked the moon landing. There’s one in every crowd, right? This person also thinks the world is flat… and Paul McCartney is talentless. Needless to say, recent holidays have been weird. Rest assured that in those instances, the whiskey helped.

I have extraordinarily vague memories of the first moon-landing. I was a very small child. I remember my parents friends had a party at their house and their kids had a shit ton of toys. I remember being in their walk-out basement, sun streaming in the backdoor window and seeing the astronauts were on the moon. That’s gotta be a false memory. I was way too young to remember something like that but it sure seems real. Of course, there were a number of moon landings, so maybe it wasn’t that first one in 1969. It couldn’t have been. Back then my parents still partied quite a bit, as did their friends, so maybe it was one of those “extra” moon trips that I remember. As Lynyrd Skynyrd once sang, “Too many lives they’ve spent across the ocean. Too much money been spent upon the moon.” “Things Goin’ On,” indeed.

All of this moon-landing talk and the seasons changing to autumn with it’s early arrival of Halloween decorations got me thinking about the moon. All those spooky moon’s with witches’ silhouettes passing by on their broom sticks… reminds me of a girl I knew once who was the scariest thing I’d come across… but I digress. I was thinking about the moon and naturally my thoughts turned to rock and roll and all the great “moon-centric” tunes out there, but in all honesty, these things I were thinking about were merely a trigger for deeper thoughts about the moon…

I’ve always been a night owl. It was always a struggle to get me to even go to bed. I can remember those rare occasions when I was allowed to leave the house at night, to run something next door to the neighbor’s house or going to a school program… It was so different to be outside in the dark. I used to think the moon was following me. There was a thrill to walking around in the cool, night air. The Allman Brothers used to practice in a graveyard and I swear if there’d been one in my neighborhood, I’d have taken up the guitar. Shadows grow darker and larger… as does the curiosity of what’s lurking around out there? The weird thing was as a youngster I wasn’t repelled away from that darkness, I had to hold myself back from plunging into it…which sort of explains those troubled teen years, I guess. All of that exultation about running around in the night was crowned with the King of the Night… the big moon casting its gaze over everything. I remember being at sleepovers and thinking, I’m staying up all night long…only to fall asleep immediately. I’ve talked about the thrill of riding in a girlfriend’s car in college, on a night I should have been home with family, staring out of the moon-roof, er I mean, the sun-roof at the nighttime sky and feeling fucking alive! When the moon came up, my weariness from the day faded…as the Stones sang, “the sunshine bores the daylight out of me…” The word lunatic stems from the Greek word for moon…”Full Moon Fever,” indeed.

Eventually it was time to “do away with childish things.” We all grow up some time… although my wife and daughter would tell you I’m still working on it. When love and romance entered my life, the moon took on all new resonance. I was in a few long-distance relationships when I was young and I can remember staring at the moon and thinking my girlfriend was staring up at the same moon and thinking it made me feel closer to her. Like the Little River Band sang, “staring at the full moon, like a lover.” Jesus, I can’t believe I went through that, but I guess we all do. Eventually the inevitable breakups would come and suddenly the moon takes on a different meaning to us and the longing begins. The heart stares up at the moon, its lonely counterpart as Mr. Simon sang. Ironic that the moon can lead to feelings of connection and disconnection… all depends on where you’re standing, I suppose.

With all those thoughts and ramblings aside, it’s pretty obvious that the moon evokes a ton of emotions in me and I’m guessing most people are the same as I am. Because of that wide range of emotions, I’ve selected one of my most eclectic collections of tracks for a playlist ever. From happy elation to brokenhearted isolation, we’ve got it all here. The goal is for people to find a song they’ve never heard before so I went pretty deep into the album tracks for this one, folks. I hope you enjoy it. As always, if there’s a great one I forgot, go ahead and drop it in the “comments” section and I’ll add it to the Spotify playlist, BourbonAndVinyl.net Songs About the Moon.

  1. The Waterboys, “The Whole of the Moon” – Great little Irish band I only discovered when U2 played this track to begin their KC Show on the Joshua Tree tour a few years ago. Great starting track.
  2. Free, “Moonshine” – A real blues rock gem from their debut album. They’re talking about the actual light from the moon, not the booze with the same name.
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen, “The Killing Moon” – Haunting, jealous longing… this track sums up a lot about this list.
  4. Talking Heads, “Moon Rocks” – Danceable weirdness from the Heads.
  5. Foreigner, “Girl On the Moon” – Great ballad… I’ve really gotten back into these guys this year.
  6. Neville Brothers, “Yellow Moon” – Another song about jealousy and worryin’ about your woman.
  7. Robbie Robertson, “Sonny Got Caught In the Moonlight” – From Robertson’s debut… I think we’ve all been caught in the moonlight at one time or another.
  8. The Cult, “Brother Wolf Sister Moon” – An epic from the great Love album.
  9. R.E.M. “Man On the Moon” – Sure it’s a tribute to Andy Kauffman, but it works.
  10. T. Rex, “By the Light of a Magical Moon” – I’m not a huge T Rex fan, but this weird, mostly acoustic track always catches my ear.
  11. John Mellencamp, “Circling Around the Moon” – Great, emotionally effective deep track about struggling lovers.
  12. White Stripes, “White Moon” – Menacing piano ballad from Jack & Meg, which is a sentence you don’t type very often.
  13. Pearl Jam, “Yellow Moon” – One of the Rock Chick and my favorite ballads from PJ. God, I wish they’d record again.
  14. Sting, “Moon Over Bourbon Street” – Is there any place better for staring up at the moon, over a Hurricane cocktail, than New Orleans. Sting doing spooky jazz.
  15. The Doors, “Moonlight Drive” – Takes me back to high school, driving around at night when it’s way past curfew, but it’s just too much fun to hang!
  16. The Black Crowes, “Black Moon Creeping” – A funky rocker from their second album, which is my favorite.
  17. Tom Waits, “Drunk On the Moon” – I love early Tom Waits, especially this track. Sinatra would have nailed this track.
  18. Duran Duran, “New Moon On Monday” – I hated these guys in college, but now I think they’ve got some great tunes, this one amongst them.
  19. Norah Jones, “Shoot the Moon” – With that voice, oh yes.
  20. Robert Plant, “Moonlight In Samosa” – Great deep track from Plant’s solo debut. I feel like I’m in a John Le Carre novel.
  21. Paul McCartney & Wings, “C Moon” – An almost reggae track where McCartney turns goofing around into an actual hit single.
  22. Kinks, “Full Moon” – A great track I’d almost completely forgotten about until I put this together.
  23. Van Morrison, “Moondance” – One of his all time greatest tunes. And uh, I don’t think he’s discussing dancing.
  24. Neil Young, “Harvest Moon” – Beautiful, acoustic Neil from his “sequel” to Harvest, naturally recorded decades apart.
  25. The Rolling Stones, “Moon Is Up” – Knowing Mick, he’s talking about someone’s bum, but this is a great deep track from Voodoo Lounge. 
  26. Chris Cornell, “Worried Moon” – The older I get the more worried the moon becomes.
  27. The Police, “Walking On the Moon” – Well, you knew this one would be here. After “Roxanne” probably the first Police track I remember hearing.
  28. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Bad Moon Rising” – Did Creedence have a bad song?
  29. George Harrison, “Here Comes the Moon” – Was he ripping off “Here Comes the Sun”? Maybe, but this is a great track. George doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
  30. Paul McCartney, “Monkberry Moon Delight” – Speaking of the Beatles…
  31. Bob Dylan, “Moonlight” – A great, late career attempt at crooning from Mr. Dylan.
  32. Prince, “Moonbeam Levels” – An out take from the 1999 sessions, released on a Greatest Hits thing a year or so ago.
  33. The Beatles, “Mr. Moonlight” – Great Beatles deep track. John Lennon’s impassioned vocal makes this one special.
  34. The Rolling Stones, “Moonlight Mile” – The best track on this list and one of the Stones’ greatest all time tracks.
  35. Ozzy Osbourne, “Bark At the Moon” – We all need to do this once in a while, it’s good for the soul.
  36. David Bowie, “Moonage Daydream” – I had to have some Bowie on here, he seems like he belonged on the moon, looking down on us.
  37. Little Feat, “Spanish Moon” – I told Dr Rock I was listening to Little Feat and he laughed at me… I love this band and Lowell George especially.
  38. Annie Lennox, “Fingernail Moon” – Such a beautiful voice singing the saddest track on here. I wanted to capture as many emotions as I could. I’d say Annie nails the “despair” column.
  39. Iggy Pop, “Midnight Lady” – Don’t be afraid of Iggy.
  40. Pearl Jam, “In the Moonlight” – A deep track from the compilation, Lost Dogs. 
  41. Thin Lizzy, “Dancing In the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me In the Spotlight)” – I love Thin Lizzy, even if they got a little disco-esque on this one.
  42. David Bowie, “Fall Dog Bombs the Moon” – I have always loved this late career track of Bowie’s from Reality. 
  43. Lyle Lovett, “Moon On My Shoulder” – A voice as smooth as whiskey. If you’re going to sit and stare at the moon with a glass of something strong, might as well have great singers to keep you company.
  44. Sting, “Sister Moon” – More spooky jazz from Sting.
  45. Bob Seger, “Shame On The Moon” – An acoustic track from Bob that has only grown on me over the years. Hated it the first time I heard it.
  46. Van Morrison, “Once In A Blue Moon” – Van has had so many great, late period albums. He’s really going through a renaissance. This is a great track from What’s Wrong With This Picture. 
  47. John Fogerty, “Blue Moon Nights” – A lovely little strummer.
  48. The Rolling Stones, “Child of the Moon” – Something from the psychedelic era.
  49. Beck, “Blue Moon” – From his acoustic masterpiece Morning Phase. Just a great tune.
  50. Tom Waits, “Grapefruit Moon” – Every song on Tom’s debut is a classic.
  51. Paul Simon, “Song About the Moon” – Sums up what all these tracks are about and serves as an instructive bit of advice on how to write a song… well, about the moon at least.
  52. Elton John, “Bad Side of the Moon” – I think this one made my list of Elton’s deep tracks. I love this song and think it should have been a huge hit.
  53. Arc Angels, “Spanish Moon” – Great little band out of Austin. Charlie Sexton, the rhythm section from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Double Trouble and Doyle Bramhall, Jr.
  54. AC/DC, “What’s Next To the Moon” – Just a little AC/DC to liven up the proceedings and keep everybody on their toes.
  55. Traveling Wilburys, “New Blue Moon” – A song that I only wish Roy Orbison had lived to sing on.
  56. Peter Wolf, “Waiting On the Moon” – Great singer who is also releasing a lot of great late career albums.
  57. Chuck Berry, “Havana Moon” – The master… Elvis was always uncomfortable with the “King of Rock n Roll” title… he used to say, “Uh, you’re talkin’ about Chuck Berry.”
  58. Fleetwood Mac, “Sisters of the Moon” – Stevie in full Wiccan mode. One of the stand out tracks from Tusk. 
  59. Warren Zevon, “They Moved the Moon” – Warren Zevon should be in the Rock Hall of Fame. Can someone make that happen already, please.
  60. Bruce Springsteen, “Moonlight Motel” – Bruce singing about a little Motel No-tell out on the deserted highway.
  61. Pink Floyd, “Eclipse” – Because “everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.”

“There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.”

Cheers to all you lunatics out there!