Album Lookback: Forty Years Ago, Yes’ Stunning Rock N Roll Resurrection, 1983’s ‘90125’


There is plenty of new music to listen to these days. I’m still in a post concert euphoric haze from seeing both Springsteen and Bush recently and those bands are still in high rotation here at B&V. Additionally many bands have put out great new singles this year (Depeche Mode, Beck, and Dave Matthews Band) and Iggy Pop’s new album is fabulous and yet I find myself drifting into my musical past to listen to Yes’ landmark album from 1983, 90125. Last year when I did my “50 year lookback” playlist for 1972 it sparked the idea of looking back 40 years to 1982 with another playlist dedicated to that specific year. Since I recently did my 1973 playlist perhaps that has sparked similar thoughts about 1983.

I started seriously listening to music in approximately 1978. When I say “seriously listening to music” I mean something beyond being in the car and asking mom to turn the radio to the local rock radio station. I had started to collect music. When you start buying albums (or cassettes or 8-tracks in the case of my friend Brewster)  you’re always a product of the time and place you’re in. For me, it was the late 70s in a large Midwest city. I’m like everybody else, I consumed the music that was on the local radio. While some of Yes’ classic stuff made it on the radio I can’t say they were huge. Although I remember my brother had Fragile and a few other of their albums. Somewhere along the line I picked up The Yes Album, I really dug “Yours Is No Disgrace,” but who amongst us didn’t? I guess Yes was part of the rock n roll canon but they weren’t revered in any sense of the word.

By the late 70s much had changed for Yes and for rock n roll. In Yes, founding drummer Bill Bruford had been replaced by Alan White (who recently passed, sadly). On keyboards it was a revolving door between Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye. The only solid members who had stayed around for every album were bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe and singer Jon Anderson. In terms of rock n roll, Yes was prog rock, short for progressive rock. When you listened to prog rock you were usually in store for either some Dungeons And Dragons themed tunes or some really, really long songs or both at the same time. Rush was about the only prog rock band around that we all liked in my high school gang.

By the late 70s, rock n roll had taken the brunt of the punk rock attack. Many bands changed up their sound and music by absorbing the punk ethos and energy. It was not a great time for prog rock. Even Genesis had morphed from the long-song, twee, reverse-Mohawk Peter Gabriel prog to a more radio friendly Phil Collins rock. The thrust of punk was that it was a rebellion against the bloated, self-indulgent rock n roll of the mid 70s. It’s hard to think that Yes weren’t a prime target for that. It’s true I loved “Yours Is No Disgrace” but it was over 9 minutes long. It’s actually a few seconds longer than “Free Bird.” Yes responded to the changing music landscape with Tormato, an ill-advised album title if I ever heard one. With songs like “Madrigal,” and “Arriving UFO” I can’t imagine it was well received.

After that failed album, singer Jon Anderson split as did keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Trevor Horn, who later went on to become a producer of some renown, came in to sing and Geoff Downes of the Buggles (“Video Killed The Radio Star”) came in to play keyboards. This line up of the band released 1980’s Drama. My brother owned that record and I’d go in his room and listen. I liked “Tempus Fugit” and “Into the Lens.” It wasn’t terrible. At that point guitarist Steve Howe took Geoff Downes and formed Asia, a “super group” that broke big with their debut album. Meanwhile Jon Anderson had done a series of albums with Vangelis, billed as “Jon and Vangelis.” They had a weird hit “Friends Of Mr. Cairo,” that oddly was played on the radio. That song was like musical theater.

With only bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White left, what was Yes to do? Originally they jammed with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant who were fresh from the dissolution of the mighty Led Zeppelin. There were rumors they were forming a new band, XYZ (ex-Yes and Zeppelin). That venture fell through when Plant, still mourning Bonham’s death, pulled out. Producer Trevor Horn then introduced Squire and White to a guitarist named Trevor Rabin. They started jamming and realized they might be onto something. They pulled erstwhile keyboardist Tony Kaye into the mix. Although I think he left and came back a few times. They were going to call themselves Cinema. Rabin was pumped about launching this new band. But at the last minute – at the behest of the record company – Squire pulled Jon Anderson back into the fold and they reverted back to Yes. Rabin wasn’t pleased about the reboot.

However, everybody else was. I remember the first time I heard the first single, “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” and that iconic riff that opens the song. I’m embarrassed to admit the first time I heard it was when I saw the video. I was back at Kansas State in the fall of ’83 and MTV was the only viable music outlet. The radio sucked in Manhattan, Kansas. I saw Jon Anderson interviewed and he said, “I just missed the sound of a guitar.” Well, he got it in spades with Trevor Rabin on 90125. I used to jokingly refer to this album as “90210” after that horrible night time soap opera that I literally never watched. They got the album title from the UPC code. If you look at the barcode, the number embedded was “90125.” For a band, this far along, to pull together with a new guitarist and some old members and to reinvent themselves from prog rockers to arena rockers was nothing short of miraculous.

Despite the rather “gross out” video for “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” the track took off. I can remember walking down the hall where I lived and hearing it pouring out of several rooms. I taped my buddy Drew’s copy of the LP and I can remember walking out in a snow storm with my Walkman (the size of a brick) listening to this album and feeling like I was the only person on the planet. Sometimes rock music is transformative and will take you to another place entirely. “Leave It” was another song that I used to like to sing at the top of my lungs as loudly as I could whenever it came on. Anderson had only come in for the last few weeks of recording the album and it’s thought that his input was minimal and that’s why this album rocks as hard as it does. Rabin was originally going to sing all the lead vocals with Squire on harmony. When you bring in Anderson and he and Rabin share the lead vocals, like on “Changes,” it creates a real sense of drama in the song. It’s really a knock out track. “Changes” may be my favorite Yes song and perhaps Anderson’s finest moment on the album.

It’s not just the singles that caught fire. The deeper tracks are all great. There’s not a dud on this record. “Hold On” has arena sing-along written all over it. While they weren’t a prog band anymore there were still prog accents on this record. “Hold On” has an A Capella breakdown in the middle. Several of the songs were over 5 minutes and one was over 6 minutes and another over 7 minutes. The thing that caught me about this record wasn’t only the harmonizing but the strong guitar playing of Rabin. The guy just rocked. He played with so much more muscle than Steve Howe. “It Can Happen” is another great song. The guitar sound that opens the track sound like a sitar, like something Jeff Beck would play when he was in the Yardbirds.

There is an instrumental track, “Cinema.” You can take the band out of prog rock but you can’t take the prog rock out of the band. One has to wonder if the band had gone with the name Cinema would it have been as big? I don’t think with White/Squire/Anderson and sometimes Kaye in the band that you could avoid using the Yes name. “Hearts” is a beautiful love song with a great message that is another stand-out. “City of Love” with it’s chorus, “We’ll be waiting for the night to come…” is another personal favorite. It’s grittier than what you think of when you think of Yes.

I actually got to see Yes on this tour. They had a giant round stage that sloped down from the back towards the audience. The only flat parts of the stage were the drum riser and the keyboards. Jon Anderson pranced around and kept throwing his arms out with a dramatic flair typically reserved for the ballet. His fey act aside, I was really impressed with the band and especially Rabin as a player. Although I can’t say enough about Chris Squire’s amazing bass playing. He was like a stoic Flea, standing in place hammering his bass. They played older, classic Yes tracks – which I’m sure Rabin wasn’t happy about – but they were stronger, more arena rock in style. It was an absolutely great show.

Alas, the magic they captured on 90125, like lightning in a bottle, was hard to recapture. The next album from this line up of Yes, Big Generator, had some great moments but just wasn’t as strong. At one point after Big Generator, Anderson left and with other ex-members of Yes formed Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe who I liked to refer to as Larry, Moe and Curly. Eventually those four reunited with what was left of the Rabin-led Yes and they put out the record Union. I saw Anderson interviewed and he said he got the idea of joining both bands together under the Yes banner in a dream. So, yes, it was terrible.

But regardless of all of that, 90125 is really the best album Yes ever did, in my opinion. I’m sure there are a bunch of Tales From Topographic Oceans fans out there who will argue with me. Talk about self-indulgence. The resurrection that Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire and Alan White engineered on this album is nothing short of spectacular. I would have never predicted this one. It’s a phenomenal album that everyone should listen to at high volumes.



Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Kansas City, T-Mobile Center, February 18, 2023


“There hasn’t been a tally since Sally left the alley…” – Bruce Springsteen, “Kitty’s Back” – Photo by your intrepid blogger

O.M.G. I am so happy that I got to see Bruce Springsteen and the legendary E Street Band last night at the T-Mobile center here in Kansas City. My god, the energy in that room was fantastic. There’s been a lot of talk about ticket prices, his expanded band (4 back up singers, 4 horns and a percussionist added to the already crowded stage). All of that is just talk. The truth is in the performance. And it was, in a word, amazing. Go see this man in concert.

February 5th of 1981 a much younger Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played at old Kemper Arena in the West Bottoms here in KC – I was not at that show due to a clerical error on my friend Brewster’s part – but I remember the review. I’d become a closet Springsteen fan when The River came out in 1980, about six months prior to the KC show so I was real interested to see what the reviewer said about Bruce. He said, and I’m quoting from memory which is sketchy, “I know it’s only February but we’ve just seen the concert of the year in Kansas City in Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.” Not to plagiarize, but it’s February 2023 and we’ve just seen the concert of the year here in Kansas City in Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

The lights dropped at 7:45 local time as each member of the E Street Band filed onto the stage. I think I saw pianist Roy Bittan walk out first. One by one the gang assembled on the stage. I was surprised how thin Little Steven looked, he was heavier when I saw him on tour in support of his solo album Soulfire. Sax player Jake Clemons, nephew of legendary Big Man Clarence Clemons, was absent due to Covid. Longtime E Street back up player Eddie Manion stepped forward to take the sax solo’s and I think Jake may need to update his resume. Bruce & the Band played last night like a younger, hungrier band setting out to conquer the world, not an established institution who already have conquered the world several times over. I can’t say enough about the setlist. They played all the big songs you’d expect but a lot of the songs while recognizable, were deeper cuts. It was a lifelong fanboy like me’s dream set. Although he’s dropped “If I Were The Priest” from the setlist, which I wish I’d seen but now I’m splitting hairs. This was one of the best Springsteen shows I’ve ever seen.

They opened with the battle cry “No Surrender” which I’d only seen previously on the Born In The U.S.A. tour performed acoustic and alone by Bruce. It was a treat to hear the full band treatment. That led into one of his later tracks “Ghost” from Letter To You, and it was awesome live. It was clear mortality was on Bruce’s mind… These were just the opening salvo’s in a 2 hour and 45 minute ass kicking, booty shaking, dancing in the aisles rock n roll assault. He hit so many highlights – the Darkness On The Edge Of Town tracks “Promised Land” and “Prove It All Night” were taught and wired with energy. “Badlands,” from that same LP, ended the main set on a real high. “Out In The Street” was the only track from the aforementioned The River album and it was a giant sing along.

After destroying the room with “Candy’s Room” the band launched into an epic version of “Kitty’s Back.” I was so joyful during that performance it’s as close as I’ll ever come to religious ecstasy. I”d never seen it played live before. Every horn, every keyboard got a solo. “Little angel starts to shuffle like she ain’t got no brains…” yeah, that sums me up. Springsteen played a lot of solo’s and he was red hot on guitar. He played the classic fender from the cover of Born To Run most of the night. After “Kitty’s Back” he did “Nightshift” from his latest soul covers album. OK I’ll admit I hit the bathroom at the bar during that track but I hurried back as I wanted to be in my seat for my first ever hearing “The E Street Shuffle.” And yes, it was brilliantly faithful to the original. Three tracks in all from The Wild, The Innocent, And The E Street Shuffle is as close as I can come to Springsteen Nirvana. I think Bruce brought this horn section with him and thought, why not dust off these great tunes that need a horn section.

At that point Springsteen hit the only sour note of the night. He played “Johnny 99” the dour Nebraska track like it was a Vegas review. When it started to my ears it almost sounded like a country song but then the horns kicked in. They’re singing about a guy who lost his job, got drunk on Tanqueray and shot a night clerk… and dancing on the ramp off the front of the stage? I was like, listen to the lyrics folks…

At that point things got back on track with a solo acoustic version of “Last Man Standing.” It was an incredibly poignant performance and was preceded by a story from Bruce about his first band. It was one of the rare moments when Bruce spoke to the audience. He was old school last night – just barreling from tune to tune with no banter – and it made for a great performance. At that point the band just continued to blow me away – the great songs just kept coming, again, I can’t say enough about this setlist – “Backstreets,” “Because The Night,” and “She’s The One.” At one point I caught myself wiping tears away from my eyes. He played a song from one of my favorite late period LPs, “The Rising.” Moving track.

The “encore” – the band never left the stage – was an hour. “Thunder Road” led into a spirited sing along – with the lights on – of “Born To Run.” “Born To Run” is a bit of a warhorse but it sounded fresh last night. Then, for my first time ever, I got to hear Springsteen play “Rosalita.” It was sublime. Such a great performance! Just when you thought it was over they launched into “Glory Days” and then “Dancing In The Dark.” One of my favorite moments of any Springsteen show was next with “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” complete with tributes to Clarence and organist Danny Federici on the TV screens. Tears in my eyes man, tears. The final performance was Springsteen once again alone and acoustic for “I’ll See You In My Dreams.” If you weren’t moved by that performance, you’ve got something wrong with you.

And just like that, as ferociously as he’d come on stage, Bruce was gone. I stood in line and bought a T shirt. I had to have a tangible souvenir of the evening. Even the Rock Chick, who had had a bad experience at a Springsteen concert back in his “Reverend of Rock N Roll” shtick days, said to me, “Wow, that was an amazing performance.” Yes, it was dear, yes it was.

As I’ve said before in these pages, buy the ticket see the show. These legends of rock n roll aren’t going to be around forever. Time is fleeting. As Bruce said last night, enjoy right now, enjoy life, enjoy every moment. I can say that last night, I enjoyed every moment I got to spend with Bruce and his legendary E Street Band. Just an amazing, old school concert. Simply wonderful. Nobody plays rock n roll like that anymore… It was worth every penny. I’m even going to buy the CD of the performance – Bruce puts out every show now – when it’s available. It was that good.


Playlist: The Ups And Downs Of… The Music Business/Show Business… Songs About Being In A Band


Music + Business

This may be my most eclectic group of songs on a playlist ever…

Who amongst us wouldn’t want to be a Rock Star? Even at work sometimes I hear people who are good at their job – or who have done something particularly well – described as a “Rock Star.” It’s looks like wonderful job from up here in the cheap seats. A friend of mine, who I worked with, was in a hotel bar out on the road. That’s the life of we Traveling Salesmen… He was sitting next to a group of guys with long hair who were drinking in the bar. There was a line of young women standing outside the bar making quite a commotion. He struck up a conversation with one of the long haired gentlemen whose name was Joe. He asked what my friend did for a living and asked how he liked his job? Typical “on the road,” hotel bar chatter. My friend asked Joe what he did, was he in a band? Turns out it was Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. My friend asked if he liked his job? Joe said, “Well, it’s a job,” and then pointed to the young women outside the bar and added, “but it doesn’t suck.” I’ve always loved that story.

I think it’s easy for we the fans to look at the Rock Star with nothing but pure envy. In the movies it always looks like an easy path to stardom and riches. “Money for nothing,” as the song goes. We see the Rock Star with a beautiful model or actress on his arm, living in a house with a pool in a sunny climate. They have the best clothes – Rod Stewart especially – and the best cars. It looks so easy we’re always surprised when an artist struggles with fame, or radically changes their music to avoid the pressure of having to repeat their success… pressure? for a Rock Star? Fame may be cool but it’s fickle and hard to maintain. Many Rock Stars begin to lament ever becoming famous. They just wanted to be musicians… bring a little joyous noise into the world.

That’s how it all starts, I assume. A young kid gets turned on by music or discovers he has a talent – singing or with an instrument – and wants to do that for a living. The kid gets an instrument and practices and practices. Maybe he puts the Malcolm Gladwell “10,000 hours” into it. Maybe in that little room the kid starts writing songs…  Pretty soon the young kid meets some like minded individuals and they form a band. Maybe they’re already friends or maybe they meet at a subway station like Mick and Keith. After line-up changes, just maybe the chemistry clicks. Joe Strummer always said, “Never underestimate the chemistry of four guys in a room.” Pretty soon this gang of guys/gals start playing in front of people. Maybe they’ve struck lightning and like Eddie Vedder once said, “I was on stage in front of an empty room and I closed my eyes… when I reopened them the room was full.” It’s music, it’s art, it’s performing… what’s not to love?

Ah, but then commerce appears. A manager usually shows up in the story at this point. And then the record company. You put out your debut song or album. It’s hitting “paydirt,” the dream of a lifetime. But if you’re successful there’s the pressure to repeat that. Behind the glamour, it really is a job. “You wrote “Let’s Dance” David, what’s next? We need another hit.” Or people start asking, “Oh and by the way, which one’s Pink?” The young kid who was sitting in his room, writing songs has become a product. I think artists today have more control over their careers. They can release music straight to the people. They don’t have to hear an A&R (artists and repertoire) man from the record company say, “I don’t hear a single.” As if they’ve come full circle, many of the Rock Stars simply write about it – whether it’s fame, crappy record execs, being on the road (enjoyably or fried from the miles) or the writing process… so many bands/artists have written songs about what it’s like to be in a band – or the process they took to becoming stars – I had to compile them. I thought of this playlist idea from hearing the Who’s “Success Story” and the line, “Remember when this used to be fun.” How many artists go through that? There are also so many songs that I call “origin stories” where the artist sings about his past or is self referential. Those songs seem to fit on this as well.

So here is my playlists based on songs about the Music Business/Show Business. You can find it on the dreaded Spotify. I always suggest shuffling the list vs playing it in order. Although, both ways work… whatever brings you joy. As always, our goal here is to put a song you haven’t heard in a while back in your ear or better yet – turn you onto something you haven’t heard. If you have a song that fits the theme, by all means drop it in the comments section. I like to think of these playlists as “our” playlists. Turn this one up loud… oh and by the way, “Welcome to the Machine.”

  1. Pink Floyd, “Welcome To The Machine” – When art means commerce. This describes Floyd’s harrowing experience of going from a cult band to a world wide phenomenon after Dark Side of the Moon. .
  2. The Band, “Stagefright” – Robbie Robertson’s ode to the pressure to write the next “hit.”
  3. John Fogerty, “Vanz Kant Danz” – Written for the music exec who “stole” the rights to his songs. He was actually sued for this song and changed the title.
  4. Eddie Money, “Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star” – Eddie expressing the exuberance we all feel when we think about being the proverbial rock star.
  5. Paul McCartney, “The Song We Were Singing” – A great tune where Paul reflects on his first band, a little outfit known as the Beatles. He’s always said they could agree on music, it was the business stuff that made them fight. I don’t think this made Paul’s box set full of singles but it could have been a hit…
  6. Van Morrison, “They Sold Me Out” – Is there a rock star more bitter about the business aspect of things than Van?
  7. Boston, “Rock N Roll Band” – An origin story worthy of the Marvel Universe. I’d always been told that Boston’s first album was all Tom Scholz and Brad Delp. The record company recruited players to fill out the band so they could tour. This song makes for a better story.
  8. AC/DC, “Show Business” – I loved Bon Scott. This is from the EP ’74 Jailbreak released after their first LP with Brian Johnson, Back In Black, as a tribute to the fallen lead singer.
  9. Fleetwood Mac, “Show Biz Blues” – From the glorious, bluesy Peter Green-era of the Mac.
  10. Neil Young, “For The Turnstiles” – (*not on the Spotify list) A great, philosophical treatise on the perils and fleeting nature of fame.
  11. Aerosmith, “No Surprise” – Any song that mentions Clive Davis and Max’s Kansas City (the famous rock n roll bar in New York) had to be on this list.
  12. Elvis Costello, “Radio Radio” – From the era when radio was actually important before it became, as Bruce sang, “Radio Nowhere.” Classic Costello, “I want to bite the hand that feeds me…”
  13. Jackson Browne, “The Road” – A classic weary song from the road from a classic live album Running On Empty. But we do so love our live LPs here.
  14. The Byrds, “So You Want To Be A Rock N Roll Star” – Also done capably by Tom Petty. The classic “be careful what you ask for” song.
  15. Prince, “Baby, I’m A Star” – Prince’s happiest song? The joy of the artist who finally becomes a star. We still miss Prince here at B&V. At least we’ve his vault releases like Sign O The Times Deluxe Edition to keep us comforted. While most artists at some point lament their fame… let’s not forget, it doesn’t suck to be a Rock Star.
  16. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Me And My Friends” – A song where the Peppers name-check original guitarist Hillel Slovak had to make this list. Often band members start as friends… Alas not every band stays friends the way Rush did.
  17. The Rolling Stones, “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man” – A very funny Stones tune that was a send up of a record exec who thought he was as hip as they were. I don’t know if this made my Stones’ Deep Cuts playlist but it should be there.
  18. AC/DC, “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock N Roll) – A harrowing tale of slugging it out, smokey club by smokey club as an up and coming band.
  19. Neil Young, “Buffalo Springfield Again”* – (*Not on Spotify list) – Neil fondly remembers his first big band.
  20. Motley Crue, “Down At The Whisky” – The Crue fondly remember their days on the Sunset Strip. This song tells the story better than The Dirt did.
  21. Steely Dan, “Show Biz Kids” – “While the poor people sleepin’, all the stars come out at night.”
  22. Bob Seger, “Turn The Page (Live)” – Originally from one of Seger’s early, now out of print LPs Back In ’72. A song about the grind of the road.
  23. Motley Crue, “Welcome To The Machine” – It’s interesting that they use the same title as Pink Floyd but Nikki Sixx did that a lot. Same machine, different band.
  24. Soul Asylum, “Misery” – “Frustrated, Incorporated.”
  25. Paul McCartney, “That Was Me” – A 2:39 resume in song.
  26. Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Workin’ For MCA” – Skynyrd singing about their record label… reminding us that being a Rock Star is still a job… not a bad one, but still a job.
  27. George Harrison, “When We Was Fab” – George in a similar vein as Paul on #25 on this list.
  28. Van Morrison, “Big Time Operators” – Of all of Van’s “complaint” songs, this might be my favorite. But then, it’s kind of bluesy and I love rockers singing the blues.
  29. Paul Simon, “Late In The Evening” – Where Paul traces music history back to his infancy listening to the radio along with his mom all the way to playing guitar in a funky bar after getting high.
  30. The Clash, “Complete Control” – So pissed at the record company for releasing “Remote Control” were the Clash, they wrote this anti record company screed which became one of their most beloved songs.
  31. Billy Squier, “The Stroke” – From the gem Don’t Say No.
  32. Tom Petty, “Money Becomes King” – Dark record company juju from Tom. When commerce overwhelms art.
  33. Joe Walsh, “I Can Play That Rock N Roll” – He certainly can. Joe takes us through all the prevailing genre’s from back in the day to conclude that rock n roll is best. He’s not wrong.
  34. The Who, “Success Story” – “Remember when this used to be fun…” Says it all.
  35. Oasis, “Rock N Roll Star” – One of the Rock Chick’s favorite bands… seemed appropriate here.
  36. The Beatles, “Baby, You’re A Rich Man” – Not sure who this was for but it sounds like a record exec.
  37. Foreigner, “Juke Box Hero” – From kid outside the arena to the stage. Quite a musical journey.
  38. Joe Walsh, “Life’s Been Good” – The ultimate “this is how rock stars live” song.
  39. Rod Stewart, “When We Were The New Boys” – I like to think he was singing about the Faces here…
  40. Pete Townshend, “Sheraton Gibson” – Pete from his first solo LP, Who Came First, singing about the simple joy of playing his acoustic guitar (a Gibson) in a hotel on the road (the Sheraton).
  41. Van Halen, “I’m The One” – It’s always difficult to decipher the lyrics of David Lee Roth. On this track, from their debut, he’s singing to a woman, but then he says, “Look at all these little kids, takin’ care of the music biz, do their business take good care of me?” I’m always looking to include Van Halen songs on a playlist… so I did.
  42. No Doubt, “Snakes” – Brutal take down of their corporate masters.
  43. Randy Newman, “My Life Is Good” – A brutal, politically incorrect satire of the bloated life of the rock star. At the end of the song, Bruce Springsteen decides he doesn’t want to be the Boss anymore and turns it over to Randy.
  44. Billy Joel, “The Entertainer” – “Another serenader and another long haired band…”
  45. Tom Petty, “Into The Great Wide Open” – About a fictional artist’s climb to the top… “Their A&R man said, “I don’t hear a single.”
  46. George Harrison, “Cockamamie Business” – (*Not on the Spotify list) George was known as the quiet Beatle. Perhaps he should have been known as the grumpy Beatle.
  47. Heart, “Barracuda” – Had to be about a manager.
  48. Fitz & The Tantrum, “Money Grabber” – Had to be about a manager.
  49. Elton John, “Bitter Fingers” – About the difficulties of writing a song.
  50. John Mellencamp, “Pop Singer” – “Never wanted to be no pop singer, never wanted to sing pop songs…”
  51. Warren Zevon, “Even A Dog Can Shake Hands” – Had to be about a manager. Thanks to all of you out there voting for Zevon for the Rock Hall of Fame.
  52. Pink Floyd, “Have A Cigar” – The quote “And by the way, which one is Pink” was supposedly something a record company exec actually said to one of the band.
  53. Bad Company, “Shooting Star” – The careers of most rock stars, most bands really, is as fleeting as a shooting star…
  54. Genesis, “Duchess” – A great song about what happens to a band/artist when they stop making music from the heart and start chasing “hits” or what’s popular. U2 should listen to this song.
  55. The Who, “Guitar And Pen” – Another track about writing songs. To me the magic of writing songs is like alchemy.
  56. Bruce Springsteen, “Last Man Standing” – Bruce writing about being the last man left from his first ever band… as Dylan said, “time is a jet plane, moving way too fast.”
  57. The Who, “Daily Records” – Did anybody write more songs about being in a band than Townshend? This is a great song on one of the albums maybe only I like, about just wanting to go into the studio every day and record a new song.
  58. Bruce Springsteen, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” – On Born To Run, after the invitation to join him on his journey, “Thunder Road,” Bruce tells you the story of the band that’s going to take the ride with you on this song. “I’m gonna sit back right easy and laugh when Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half…” I still tear up when I hear the line, “When the change was made up town and the Big Man joined the band…” We miss you Clarence Clemons…
  59. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Travelin’ Band” – Sure, there are a lot of songs on this list about what a bummer it is to be on the road… but it’s not all bad. This is one of the most joyous tracks about being in…well… a traveling band.

That’s our list! Again, if you have a song that fits the theme, let us know in the comments section and I’ll add it to the Spotify list. As I said before, this may be my most eclectic playlist of all. If you’re out there somewhere on the road with guitars and drums and keyboards, headed to that next gig – or even if you’re just driving down the highway – I hope this playlists gets you a little further down the road. Whoever you are, keep rock n roll alive, support your local musicians.


New Song: Beck The Achingly Beautiful Ballad “Thinking About You” – One of His Greatest Ballads


Beck recently released a quiet new single and it may be the most achingly beautiful song he’s ever done, “Thinking About You,” and no, it’s not another Neil Young cover. The track is very low-key and frankly was released in an equally low-key manner. I didn’t see much fanfare. I wouldn’t have known about it if it weren’t for Instagram which I originally joined for the exact purpose of finding out about new music… and to share pictures of my wife’s cat. Aren’t cat pics what Instagram’s true purpose is? I’m beginning to wonder, with the low key approach Beck is taking these days – he hasn’t released an album since 2019’s Hyperspace – if maybe he considers himself on the “back 9” of his career, headed for the clubhouse. (I don’t golf so I hope that reference makes sense). I don’t even know if there’s a new album coming? I actually wrote about Beck’s cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man” and it didn’t get much attention. I thought it was a great, if overly faithful cover – all of Neil’s anti commercial use aside – but again it didn’t generate much buzz. It didn’t help that the commercial it was used for was about Tom Brady… gads. I’m beginning to wonder if 90s artists like Beck and even Dave Matthews who recently released a single “Madman’s Eyes” are fading into the woodwork? Maybe they’re considered merely live acts now to be seen in the summer sheds? I hope not. They’re great artists with great careers who are still releasing great stuff.

I got in pretty early on Beck. I’d like to tell you I was cool enough to jump in during the Mellow Gold period. I was a fan of “Loser” but I figured like the Beastie Boys after their first album, that Beck would be a 1-hit, novelty song wonder. Like the Beastie Boys who took an enormous leap forward on their second album, Paul’s Boutique, when Beck released Odelay in 1996 it was utterly unexpected. It’s truly a masterpiece. He was like a young, sampling, hip Dylan. The word play was mind blowing. It turned out, unbeknownst to me at the time, Beck had two sides much like the aforementioned Neil Young. He had his new, modern, electric stuff but he was also a closet folky. He’s put out a number of wonderful acoustic based albums. I’m to the point where I almost like those acoustic albums better. I jumped on his 1998 release Mutations. His “Nobody’s Fault But My Own” was a favorite. However that CD may have taken off when I broke up with the woman I was seeing at the time… Fitting that I would be writing about a break up on Valentine’s Day… I was indeed the king of breakups… “Darlene, I hate that sweater, it’s over…” but I’m off topic here.

I followed the louder side of Beck through the the years since the 90s. I liked Midnight Vultures, I thought it was a hysterically funny album. “Debra” was a favorite. “I came at her, with a fresh pack of gum…” Guero (2005) was wonderful as was The Information (2006) and Modern Guilt (2008). Beck book-ended those three great records with what I consider to be his two best records, this side of Odelay. In 2002, after splitting with his then wife, he released the heartbreaking Sea Change. When I heard the first few strums of the acoustic guitar, the pedal steel and the words, “Put your hands on the wheel, let the golden age begin…” on the opening track, “The Golden Age,” I was in. You’d have to dial up Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” to find that kind of heartbreak. Yes, I am still a sucker for heartbreak music. Had I had not been living with the Rock Chick, engaged by that point, I’d have locked myself in my apartment with Sea Change on repeat, a fifth of Woodford Reserve and a pack of Marlboro Lights – and I never even smoked.

After then releasing the aforementioned three LPs from 2005 to 2008, Beck returned to the color palette he used for Sea Change for the sequel, Morning Phase. While acoustic and low key like Sea Change, it didn’t have the inherent heartbreak. The music on Morning Phase reaches out like a warm hug after a long, cold hike. It’s some of the most comforting music I own. No coincidence that the Rock Chick, who didn’t like Sea Change, loves Morning Phase. She played that as much as she’s been playing The Art of Survival since we saw Bush last week, and that’s a lot.

Since Morning Phase, Beck has released a couple of his more upbeat records. While Colors had a few really great moments, I frankly thought it was a bit disjointed. I was disappointed with the album, although the ex who may have taken off with Mutations told me via email I was crazy and it was “a great album.” I take all feedback here at B&V, good and bad. I was greatly anticipating Beck’s last album Hyperspace, but alas I was once again disappointed. While I really liked the lead single, “Saw Lightning,” I didn’t even review the album. I try not to put negative stuff out there, there’s enough negativity in the world. As my sainted mother told me long ago, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.”

Since then we haven’t heard much from Beck. He’s likely producing other bands. He’s probably very busy but I’m not hearing much of that. He popped up on a Cage the Elephant song I liked, “Night Running.” Then last year we heard his take on “Old Man.” I wondered if this heralded his return to his acoustic sound that I love so much. Enter, “Thinking About You.” I love this song – but then I’m on record as a lover of sad songs. The first part sets the scene:

“I pull the curtains
And lay in bed
I’ve got 15 movies of you
Playing in my head
Chasing the moonlight
Watching the ocean turn blue
Just thinking about you
Thinking about you…”

God, I’ve been there. Back in the 90s, my famous relationship flame out decade, was spent like this. The track is all Beck’s haunting voice, plucked acoustic guitar, strings and a wonderful harmonica. This song is earnest and without a single saccharine moment to complain about. This is aching heartache that you can feel with your hands. I’ve always loved music with strong lyrics that set a mood and a scene and Beck has killed it on this track. The finality in the line, “…and she’s gone, she’s gone” is all eclipsing. While she’s far less sentimental than I, when I played this song for the Rock Chick, she blinked a few times and said, “That’s devastatingly beautiful.” Here is the link to the track:

I hope this means Beck is finally putting out another album. I know he’s got some great music left in him despite my disappointment with his last two louder records. Regardless of whether there’s an album in the near future or not, this song will always rank amongst Beck’s finest tracks here at B&V.

Happy Valentine’s Day for all of you out there. I hope, if you so desire, you’ve got someone to hang out with. If not, remember like Miley Cyrus says, “I can buy myself flowers…” And if you’re like me in the 90s and you hate Valentines Day, you can always check out our Anti-Valentine’s Day playlist… It’s a tad more aggressive… If you’re lonely call a friend, reach out. Don’t let love bring you down, even if you are “thinking about” someone who’s not thinking about you. You’re likely better off… and good things are right around the corner. My love life was like George Washington’s military career. I lost every battle except the last one. If I can meet the Rock Chick, you’ll be fine. Take care of each other out there.


New Song Alert: Depeche Mode, “Ghosts Again” From The Upcoming LP ‘Memento Mori’ – Understated Requim For Fletch?


While I was recovering from seeing Bush this Tuesday, I found that Depeche Mode have finally returned after six years with a new song “Ghosts Again” that heralds the coming of a new album Memento Mori. Depeche Mode is a band I was always kind of “only aware of” before I met the Rock Chick. I’d hear “Personal Jesus” or “A Question of Lust” on the radio and always liked those tracks. I don’t know why I didn’t delve deeper? Then I met the Rock Chick and she was a huge Depeche fan. She really deserves credit for turning me onto them. I went from being the most casual fan to becoming a huge fan which culminated in me seeing them twice on the Spirit tour in 2017 both in Denver and Tulsa. They were amazing in concert.

I thought Spirit was an absolute late-career masterpiece. It was a dark reflection of very dark times in the world. Much has changed for Depeche Mode since that album. Founding member and perhaps the nicest guy in the band Andy Fletcher, simply “Fletch” to millions, passed away last year. Singer Dave Gahan and guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Martin Gore decided to soldier on without Fletch. I read that they had started recording Memento Mori prior to Fletch’s passing and I hoped that there would be some of Fletch’s keyboard on the record – like the Stones are saying there will be drumming from Charlie Watts when/if they release their new album – but alas, Fletch didn’t play on this album.

It’s hard to hear this song and read the album title without thinking that mortality and Fletch’s loss isn’t weighing heavily on Depeche Mode’s mind. Memento Mori is Latin and it roughly translates to “remember that you have to die.” And people think I get heavy in my writing sometimes. Even the artwork for the album cover seems to recall a funeral. It’s a picture of two flower arrangements in the shape of angel’s wings. Gahan sings in “Ghosts Again.” “A place to hide the tears that you’ve cried, everybody says goodbye.” I have to admit, I lost a dear friend of mine a month ago and his memorial was last Saturday so this song hits me a little different than most people. The new video for the song is a take on Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal that tells the story of a knight during the Black Plague who plays a game of chess against Death… talk about heavy stuff.

I really like this song. It’s on the mellow end of the spectrum. The keyboards are absolutely lovely. A ballad where they say goodbye to Fletch, whose not going to like that? Gahan, as usual, is in wonderful voice. I like how Martin Gore plays guitar – it’s always reminded me of the Edge from U2 – its more about mood and tone instead of shredding. “Hello’s, goodbyes, a thousand midnight’s lost in sleepless lullabies.” Such beautiful lyrics. The keyboards build throughout the song. You can hear the pain in Gahan’s voice. Here is the video:

I don’t usually comment on videos, but I just have to say, I love the walking sticks with the shiny skull heads.

I’m always curious about how bands pick their first singles. While I like “Ghosts Again” it is a curious choice for a first single. It’s very mid-tempo at best. I always like to look back three or four albums at a bands’ first singles and compare. If we look back to 2005’s Playing the Angel the first single was “Precious.” I absolutely loved that song. It ranks amongst Depeche Mode’s finest work in my opinion. The stabbing keyboards bore into my brain.

2009’s Sounds Of The Universe the first single was “Wrong.” I love how they sing the title at the first of the song. It reminds me of my parents when I was a kid. After repeating the word “wrong” several times the song kicks in for real. Over an almost funky cacophony of sound Gahan passionately delivers the vocals. It again, is one of their greatest songs.

From 2013’s Delta Machine Depeche also chose a ballad, the aching “Heaven.” Again, this song is one of their best. It’s a tearjerker of a tune. With this tune, Depche proved you can release a ballad and get away with it. Martin Gore’s harmony vocal makes the song.

Finally, from late career masterpiece Spirit, Depeche Mode went big with the anthem, “Where’s the Revolution?” This song grabbed me immediately. It was the perfect song for 2017. It set the tone for what was a spectacular album.

Will we look back on “Ghosts Again” as one of their finest songs – as we do these four fabulous previous first singles? Only time will tell. Or as Sammy Hagar once stupidly sang, “Only time will tell if we stand the test of time.” Think about that lyric for a while. All I can tell you is that Depeche have been on an absolute roll in this millennium. I was only turned onto this band around 2000 and every album they’ve put out since then has delivered. I think there will be a diversity of sound on Memento Mori but I doubt there will be a shortage of dark tunes like “Ghost Again.”

I’m so happy Depeche has decided to keep going. My heart goes out to them over their fallen comrade Fletch. I look forward to the album and can’t wait to see Depeche Mode, who at this point feel like old friends, again on a stage near me.


Concert Review: Bush With Guest Starcrawler, Kansas City, February 7th, 2023, At The Midland Theater – Heavy, Fabulous Rock n Roll


*Picture of Gavin Rossdale and Nik Hughes of Bush at the Midland Theater May 7th, 2023 taken by your intrepid blogger

I was lucky enough to see grunge stalwarts Bush last night at the majestic Midland Theater and man, was I glad I did. I was lucky enough that one of my favorite new bands, Starcrawler, was the opener. I was talking to a friend of mine at brunch this Sunday who had the previous evening seen Anthony Gomes, one of his favorite acts. I remember saying to my friend, “Is there a better feeling than that buzz and elation you feel the morning after a great, great concert?” And here I am, just a few days later and I have to tell you I’m feeling that today. What a great night, what a great concert.

People forget how big Bush was back in the middle 90s. Their name was never whispered in those same revered tones as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains but they were huge. Their debut, Sixteen Stone, kicked off 5 hit singles. Bush’s lyrics were as dark as anything AIC or Nirvana put out but I guess since they were being sung by frontman/rhythm guitarist Gavin Rossdale who is a handsome dude, they weren’t heard as clearly. The last time I saw Bush was in the summer of 1997 after I’d escaped a harrowing journey to Jamaica with a friend of mine. We managed to talk our way out of the country – no police were involved, thankfully – and got back to KC early. With time left on vacation we went out and scalped tickets at Sandstone Ampitheater to see Bush and I was duly impressed that night. I went out and bought their 2nd LP, Razorblade Suitcase the next day. “Cold Contagious” remains a favorite of mine.

But like most people, after that I sort of lost touch with Bush. I’d hear the stray single like “The Chemicals Between Us,” but I wasn’t buying LPs. They disbanded after 2001’s Golden State because the lead guitar player didn’t want to tour. I told that story to the Rock Chick and she merely asked, “Why do musicians join bands if they don’t want to leave the house?” Bush reformed in 2011 and have been putting out great records ever since. The line up today consists of: vocalist/guitarist Gavin Rossdale (the only original member left), lead guitarist Corey Traynor, bassist Corey Britz, and drummer Nik Hughes. The current line up is responsible for the last two Bush albums which have really signaled a return to form for these guys. The Kingdom (2020) and The Art of Survival (2022) are great albums, especially The Art of Survival. If you haven’t checked that one out, you need to. Bush is so much heavier rock now. It was no surprise to me last night that over half the songs Bush played were from those two albums. When I discovered The Art of Survival, I played it for the Rock Chick and it’s now one of her favorite albums. When I saw they were coming to town on the tour I knew I had to get tickets, not just for me but for her…

Bush took the stage and started off the evening with one of the new songs, “Identity,” and it was a great kick off. Immediately I realized that this rhythm section – Nik Hughes and Corey Britz – are a rumbling thunder and lighting engine for this band. They’re so heavy and so wonderful. The drums and bass felt like they were hitting me in the chest. The second track of the night was from Sixteen Stone, one of my favorites, “Machinehead.” I was on my feet screaming. There were so many highlights. “The Chemicals Between Us” was a punchy, rocking favorite. I was actually very surprised how much Gavin eschewed his rhythm guitar and danced around. His dancing is a little idiosyncratic, he’s no Jagger, but he was into it and it fueled the crowd. “The Sound Of Winter” is another personal favorite – it’s a track the Rock Chick  turned me onto and it didn’t disappoint last night.

“Flowers On A Grave” is a fabulous tune off of The Kingdom and last night’s performance was a show stopper. While the band riffed, Rossdale jumped into the crowd and sang from the floor… oh and from the balcony on the third floor. He ran a full circle around the entire theater, singing all the while. Not to go all “fan boy” on you but I actually high-fived him as he passed right by my aisle seat. Afterward he complimented the theater saying, “You can tell a lot of care went into building this theater.” After that he brought the house down again with “Everything Zen.” That song has one of my favorite lyrics that my brother probably wrote, “Should I fly to Los Angeles, find my asshole brother.” They brought it down after that for a lovely ballad from the new record, “1000 Years” that I just loved. I’ll admit “Quicksand” lost me a bit but then they launched into the two best tracks from the new album, “Heavy Is the Ocean” (about the environment) and “More Than Machines” (that he dedicated to the women in the audience). Those were absolute highlights and should remain part of Bush’s live shows for the rest of their career. The main set ended with “Little Things” which drove the crowd into a frantic scream for more.

The encore was three tracks. They rocked “The Kingdom” and I have to admit, it’s a great song. Then it was a slow track with the hit ballad “Glycerine.” They wrapped it up with “Comedown” and they jammed on that one. When the show was over Gavin, who seems like a nice, charismatic guy, thanked the crowd and wished Kansas City “good luck in the Super Bowl.” He even said “Go Chiefs!” I couldn’t help but notice that on the encore bassist Corey Britz had donned a Chiefs stocking cap. Hey, call me cheesy, but as a Chiefs season ticket holder, those kind of gestures really win me over.

As I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite new bands Starcrawler were the opening act. I just saw Starcrawler back in August and they put on a great show that night. They’re still touring behind their third, very strong album She Said. Starcrawler played a taught, rocking 13-song, 45 minute set. They opened with “Goodtime Girl” a track I’ve always liked. They played a number of tracks from the new album, “Roadkill,” “Stranded” and the title track. Lead singer Arrow de Wilde and lead guitarist Henri Cash seemed to delight in having such a big stage to move around on. Those guys are developing a great Jagger/Richards singer/guitarist chemistry on stage. They played a cover they’ve been doing “If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough,” that for some odd reason I just love. Cash introduced “I Love L.A.” as “a song about Kansas City.”? They did their raucous cover of “Pet Semetary.” Other highlights were “Ants” and “Bet My Brains,” the show ender. Arrow dances on stage like shes’ a mix of ballerina and rubber band. She’s a truly charismatic front woman. However, she clearly disappointed with the KC crowd last night. She seemed unhappy they weren’t getting into them more so she decided to make them angry. She said, after different songs, “It even smells like the 90s in here…” (not sure what that meant), “Kansas City, your BBQ sucks” (those are fighting words in this town), and the big winner for me was “Thank you for having us at the Boring Convention, I hope you’ll have us back next year.” About the only thing she didn’t say to incite the crowd was, “Go Eagles.” Arrow, we love you in Kansas City, as was proved when you played here last August, but this was Bush crowd.

While Starcrawler will not be opening for Bush any more, it doesn’t matter who is opening, you need to see Bush when they come to your town. They were so good last night I was thinking about gassing up the car and driving to Toronto for their next show… although I’d have to find my passport somewhere… Bush is on a roll with two great LPs in a row and are red hot on stage right now. Rossdale has discovered the right chemistry with this band and people should hear them immediately!

Cheers! “Heavy is the ocean, cracked but we don’t break….”

Review: Bob Dylan, ‘The Bootleg Series Vol. 17: Fragments – Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996–1997)’


“I’ve been all around the world, boys, And I’m tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.” – Bob Dylan, “Trying To Get To Heaven” From Time Out Of Mind

Anybody whose hung around B&V long enough probably knows I love a good box set. I love when an artist opens up the vaults and shares some of the unreleased music he’s got stashed away in there. Sometimes there are hidden gems packed away deep in the vaults – like Neil Young always seems to have – sometimes it’s just a great glimpse into the creative process behind an album or a certain era in a band’s history – like the Beatles Revolver or the Stones Tattoo You. One of my favorite artists who has released a treasure trove of vault stuff is Bob Dylan. His Bootleg Series is exceptional. I was looking through the complete list of the Bootleg releases the other day and realized I have only not purchased two in the series: The Bootleg Series No 9: The Witmark Demos 1962- 1964 (because I felt it was redundant and had too much overlap with The Bootleg Series 1 – 3 (Rare And Unreleased) and also The Bootleg Series No 15: Travelin’ Through, 1967 – 1969 because I didn’t feel there was enough meat on the bones on that one.

A few Fridays ago Dylan released the 17th in the series – which is a lot – focused on the sessions that produced one of his most acclaimed albums, Time Out of Mind. Coincidentally, last summer a friend of mine texted me the following: “Just listened to Time Out of Mind for the first time, needless to say, mind blown.” As the album was originally released in 1997 I was a little staggered to hear that my good friend, who has broad musical tastes, had never heard this album. I knew at the time that Dylan was working on his next box, focused on the time around Time Out of Mind but I held off on saying anything to my friend. I needed to hear the set first before I ran around recommending it. I just wasn’t sure that The Bootleg Series Vol. 17: Fragments – Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996–1997) was going to blow me away. And with an $140 price tag, it needs to blow me away.

I had a weird path into my Dylan “fandom.” When you’re a teenager and you’ve just started listening to music you tend to listen to what’s on the radio, what’s “popular.” You buy the albums that are then current by an artist and slowly (or quickly depending on your financial situation) work your way through the artist’s back catalog. I started listening to rock music in the late 70s so my first Dylan “then-current” album was Slow Train Coming. I didn’t know it was a religious album until I heard it the first time all the way through. “Gotta Serve Somebody” was huge on the radio and I think it won a Grammy so it wasn’t that crazy of entry point into Dylan. But after that LP it was hard to stay a Dylan fan. I bought his first, single vinyl LP “best of,” Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits but that’s as far as I got before heading to college. After Slow Train things were a bit of a bumpy ride for a Dylan fan. He released a few more religious albums before the strong Infidels was released in ’83. I loved his next album, Empire Burlesque although I don’t think it was the hit Dylan wanted. And yes, the production on that album was very “of it’s time.”

It just kept getting worse for Dylan in the 80s. Like McCartney it was a real lull in his career. He put two terrible records in a row: Knocked Out Loaded (which actually had a few songs I liked) and Down In The Groove, which outside of “Silvio” with the Grateful Dead, was abysmal. I didn’t connect with the Daniel Lanois Oh Mercy but it was hailed as one of the few strong records of the era for Dylan. After that one, he reached his creative nadir with Under The Red Sky. “Wiggle Wiggle” was cited as proof that Dylan just didn’t care anymore. Dylan then retreated to his past and recorded two solo, acoustic guitar only, folk albums (Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong) that I absolutely loved when I discovered them 20 years after they were released. But in the early 90s you didn’t hear a lot of folk music on the radio… or anywhere else frankly, so it took me a long time to discover that music.

By ’97 it had been 4 years since we’d heard from Dylan and 7 years since he’d released an album of new material. I had all but given up on Dylan and considered him more of a back catalog artist for me – meaning I was only buying his records from the 60s and the 70s and nothing new. And then I heard “Not Dark Yet.” Dylan had reunited with Daniel Lanois to produce Time Out Of Mind and he had mic’d Dylan’s voice so it sounded like the voice of eternity calling from the grave. These songs, bluesy in nature, were all concerned with mortality and the end of relationships. It was a devastatingly good record. Dylan got sick after the record was done, he had an infection that went to his heart. Despite the fact the album was finished prior to the illness, everyone said this was Dylan’s rumination on his own death. Spoiler alert: he didn’t die. Time Out of Mind was the first Dylan record I purchased in decade. When I heard “Love Sick” I was blown away. “I’m sick of love… and I’m in the thick of it.” “Trying To Get To Heaven” was indeed a rumination about death but it was a staggeringly good song. It was obvious that Dylan had spent a lot of time writing the record. There isn’t a bad song on the record. The album ends with the 16 minute epic “Highlands” that rank amongst Dylan’s longest and most epic songs. If you’re like my friend and you’ve never heard this album, at the very least, put it on the stereo.

Now, over 25 years down the road Dylan is revisiting those sessions in ’96-97 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 17: Fragments – Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996–1997). There were, somewhat famously, a handful of outtakes and leftovers from the recording session. “Mississippi” which ended up being recorded/released by Sheryl Crow prior to Dylan releasing a version was one of the outtakes. Coincidentally Billy Joel released his version of “Make You Feel My Love” prior to Dylan’s version. It was considered an outlier on Dylan’s record but I love that song. Whenever my daughter hears someone singing that, she Shazams it and send it to me. It’s like it’s become a standard. Other outtakes were: “Dreamin’ of You,” “Red River Shore” and “Marchin’ To The City.” My issue with this box set is that many of those outtakes were on The Bootleg Series Volume 8: Tell Tale Signs: Rare And Unreleased 1989 – 2006. While I only bought the 2 disc version of that box, we’ve covered this ground before.

The new Fragments first disc is Time Out of Mind remixed. The story is that Dylan was always unhappy with Lanois’ mix. It was murky and ominous. Dylan had to be happy that he got the comeback he so desperately needed so how mad could he have been? Although, he’s famously produced himself ever since. The remix on this first disc doesn’t get me jumping up and down. I’m happy with the original version of the album. Unless you’re Giles Martin working on The Beatles or Let It Be, I’m not moved much by remixes. Martin is doing amazing work producing new stereo mixes of those albums.

The second and third discs are outtakes from the Time Out of Mind sessions. We get a lot of early versions of the songs that made it on to Time Out of Mind. And yes, they’re an interesting view into the creative process. They sound less murky and mysterious. There are some additional versions of the outtakes I mentioned above. It’s interesting stuff but I’ve heard a lot of versions of those songs before on Tell Tale Signs. You’d have to be a real Dylan super-fan to get into this. I am a Dylan super-fan but these versions just didn’t scratch that “I have to own this” itch I have. He hasn’t really released any of these early versions of Time Out of Mind songs before so there is some interesting stuff here.

The fourth disc is live versions of the songs from the original album. I’m a huge fan of live stuff from a tour from a certain album. I loved Rush’s anniversary box for Moving Pictures from last year because for the first time they released a full concert from that tour, the first one I saw Rush on. But these live tracks are all taken from different shows during the time period which makes it a disjointed listen. The sound on some of these is so rough I thought it might be an audience recording or an actual bootleg. I don’t see myself ever putting those live versions back on. Although the version of “Til I Fell In Love With You” from Buenos Aires might find it’s way onto a playlist or two… it’s punchy.

Finally the fifth disc is a “bonus disc” and contains songs already released on the aforementioned Tell Tale Signs. Again, I own all of that already as do many Dylan fans. Tell Tale Signs is one of the strongest of the Bootleg Series which renders this album if not superfluous, maybe indulgent.

Certainly, if you don’t have Time Out of Mind, this would be a nice way to pick it up. There are outtakes on here worth hearing and playing loudly. But I can’t in good conscious recommend anybody purchase this. 2/3 of it most of us own already. The live stuff is frankly, sub-par. The outtakes are as interesting as most of the stuff you find in the Bootleg Series, but just not compelling enough to make this one of the stronger entries in the series. I don’t dislike this box, I just found it, well, for lack of a better term, “meh.” This box certainly doesn’t diminish the original album but it didn’t add a lot for me…


The B&V Rock Hall of Fame 2023 Ballot Selections


It’s February 1st and so that means the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio has announced this year’s nominees for the 2023 class. The Rock Chick actually surprised me with a trip to the Rock Hall a few years back and I was very impressed with it and pleasantly surprised by Cleveland. They’ve got some great Lebanese restaurants in that town. I know that a lot of people consider the Rock Hall to be as irrelevant as Rolling Stone magazine these days. Most people don’t care about the Rock Hall, and I get it. It was Ray Davies who said, when the Kinks were inducted into the Rock Hall, “Seeing everybody here tonight, it makes me realize that rock and roll has become respectable. What a bummer.” I keep a running list of acts that would be in the BourbonAndVinyl Hall of Fame (and perhaps some day I’ll write about that) because I feel the actual Hall is so deeply flawed.

And as much as I have maligned the Rock Hall’s nominees in the past – The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees: Getting It Wrong, Again – and lamented how many worthy rock acts who should be in the Hall, who aren’t inducted – The B&V List of Artists Who Really Should Be In the Rock Hall of Fame – I can’t help myself, I look for the announcement of the nominees every year. It seems when it comes to the Rock Hall, like Zeppelin sang, “I can’t quit you baby.” As a huge fan of this music I feel it’s incumbent upon me to vote every year like I’m voting for President or Governor, like there’s something important riding on it. The fan vote is mostly symbolic but I feel like if the fans vote the elitist journalist cabal who run the thing might hear us and actually put some of the great, deserving bands who aren’t in the Hall, into the Hall. And besides, as most long time readers know, if asked my opinion on a rock n roll question, um, I’m going to weigh in.

I actually think the Rock Hall has selected a great list of nominees. It’s a great diverse group of artists from 70s soul (The Spinners) to 80s pop (Cyndi Lauper and George Micheal) to Hip Hop (A Tribe Called Quest and Missy Elliott) to Heavy Metal (Iron Maiden) to 90s rock (Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden).  Here are the 2023 nominees:

  • A Tribe Called Quest
  • Kate Bush
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Missy Elliott
  • Iron Maiden
  • Joy Division/New Order
  • Cyndi Lauper
  • George Michael
  • Willie Nelson
  • Rage Against The Machine
  • Soundgarden
  • The Spinners
  • The White Stripes
  • Warren Zevon

I can’t tell you how glad I am to see Warren Zevon on this list. I’ve been clamoring for his nomination for years to anybody who will listen… and well, most people don’t listen… You can cast your fan vote at: and I hope you’ll vote as well!

Here were my votes, in order. You’re allowed 5. You can apparently vote once a day, which is extreme even for me.

  1. Warren Zevon – I have waited years to see this man’s name on the ballot. I jumped at the chance to vote for him. We posted about Zevon’s essential albums several years ago.
  2. The White Stripes – One of the best bands of all time. I hope both Jack and Meg White show up for the induction. If you haven’t gotten into the White Stripes, may I suggest their Greatest Hits.
  3. Soundgarden – I saw Soundgarden in concert for the final time on their next to last concert prior to the sad and untimely death of Chris Cornell. These guys should be a slam-dunk induction.
  4. Rage Against The Machine – I love Rage and even love Audioslave that featured Tom Morello, Tim Comerford, and Brad Wilk from Rage with the aforementioned Chris Cornell. Hard rocking and topical, these guys are one amazing band.
  5. Willie Nelson – It was a toss up between Willie and Iron Maiden, which is a sentence I never thought I’d type. In the end, with Willie getting up there in years, I felt I should cast my vote for him.

There are a ton of great nominees this year. And, I thought it was a fun break from the daily grind of my corporate masters to go out and cast my vote. I just look forward to seeing some of these performances at the ceremony. I feel like this post has been “A public service announcement with guitars…” as the Clash sang…