The B&V Rock Hall of Fame 2023 Ballot Selections

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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: https://vote.rockhall.com/en/ 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…

Cheers!

Playlist: For All The New Year’s Resolution Folks About To Give Up… – Songs About Walking

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It happens every year in January at the gym where I work out. I’ve actually belonged to two or three gyms in the metro area and it doesn’t matter which gym I belonged to or which part of town it was in, the January New Year’s Resolution crowd emerges exactly the same time each year. Suddenly, a once relatively uncrowded gym becomes congested. The newer and perhaps better cardio vascular machines are all taken. The weight room becomes the waiting room. They say that the two most common New Year’s Resolutions are a) exercise more and b) lose weight. I’ve always considered those two activities as different sides of the same coin. And please don’t misread me here, I applaud everyone who wants to lose weight or exercise more. It’s the healthy option and I’m all for it. I’m just always stunned by the sheer number of new people who show up at my gym every January and plunk down the cash for a membership. Half the commercials I see on TV now are for new gym memberships… There’s a guy at my gym, who I think is a chiropractor, who said to me a few weeks ago in a resigned tone, “Don’t worry, all of these newbies will be gone by mid-February.” Sadly, I can’t argue with him. I always thought they quit after Spring Break but I’m never paying that close of attention. I figured I’d post this now, vs New Year’s Day, as this is the time most of you are about to give up on those expensive gym contracts you only recently signed…

I don’t want people to think because I belong to a gym – and have done so for years – that I’m some kind of “Charlie Atlas,” body obsessed, weight lifter. I work out for the same reason everyone else does – vanity. I want my clothes to fit. I can’t afford another wardrobe. Nor can I control my rather unchecked appetite for fine spirits and good food. The Rock Chick is practically a gourmet and I credit my gym membership as being the only reason I’m not over 400 lbs. I never worked out when I was a kid in college, even though it was free to do so at the campus rec center. I was in my late 20s when it became apparent I needed to do something about my health. I was living on beer, pizza and cheeseburgers. I don’t think I drank any water from the age of 21 through when I turned 27. My weight was up in those days but not off the charts. I was in a hospital Operating Room where I was selling medical supplies to one of the hospitals that was a customer of mine at the time. The nurses were all yelling at me about some shipping gaffe my company had made. It had been a really stressful day. I saw these light bulb like flashes in front of my eyes. Knowing I was prone to high blood pressure back then, I asked the Head of OR to take my blood pressure. She was still grousing about something while taking my blood pressure, when suddenly she shifted on a dime to “care giver.” It was scary how quickly her demeanor changed. The anger disappeared and suddenly I wasn’t a lackluster sales guy, I was a patient. She slowly moved me onto a bed in the recovery room and put a cold cloth on my forehead and told me to remain silent. When I asked her what was wrong and she told me what my blood pressure was, I didn’t realize BP numbers could go that high?

I was laying in this rural OR recovery room, in a small town in northern Missouri, surrounded by, well, very old people who had just gotten out of surgery. I was laying there, silently sucking on crushed ice, with a wet cloth on my forehead in a suit and hastily loosened tie. I didn’t look like I belonged in this recovery room with colorful dividing curtains and beeping heart monitors. I was in my 20s for God’s sake. I was instructed by my customer, the OR lady, to get my stuff, talk to no one, and calmly drive home and seek medical help. The Dr, the next day, said what they always say. Exercise more, eat more healthy foods… perhaps even the occasional green item, fruits or vegetables. Maybe restrict the beer to weekends. I was determined to change my beer soaked, fried food regimen. I stopped salting things. But the one thing I didn’t do is spend a bunch of money joining a gym. I decided that I was going to try running, which was comical because the only times in my life that I had run prior were when somebody was chasing me.

There was a post office exactly 2 miles away from my parents house – where I was living at this highly “successful” time in my life. I knew if I could run there and back that’d be four miles. I figured, piece of cake. The first time I tried running, I made it exactly one block. If I’d had a beer in  my hand and a cigarette dangling from my lips (I don’t smoke) I could have been mistaken for John Candy in Splash. Undaunted by the heavy breathing, nay, gasping for air I kept going but I slowed my pace to a quick walk. I seem to recall after that one-block “trot” having a stitch in my side. The next day, after work, I ran two blocks and then walked the rest. Pretty soon my weight and blood pressure went down and have remained lower ever since. Eventually I could run the whole four miles but frankly, I think it was just the walking that helped the most. Running can be very jarring. And it was legendary pitcher Satchel Paige who said, “Avoid running at all times.” For all of you New Years Resolution folks out there – why not start with walking? There’s no need to plunk down all that cash and join a gym. And yes, my gym will be less congested so we all win.

As I thought about this scenario this week I began to think about all the great songs about walking. Admittedly I was distracted yesterday when I discovered Dave Matthews Band’s new song, “Madman’s Eyes,” and posted about that. But as I slowly assembled this playlist, which you can find on Spotify under “BourbonAndVinyl.net Walking,” I was taken with how many songs all feel like they’re driving forward rhythmically. There’s no “Run To The Hills” but these tunes all have movement that can only help you along the way on your walk. And thankfully there’s a lot of great Fats Domino on here… it seems he was always walking somewhere. Whether you’re walking away from something or moving toward something new, at least you’re moving forward. I like that best about these songs about walking – if you’re moving forward you’re making progress. And lets face it, it doesn’t cost anything to go to a park and enjoy a stroll on a pretty day.

As always you can play this playlist straight through or on shuffle. Whatever suits you. If you have suggested tunes that would fit on this playlist, please mention them in the comments and I’ll add them. Here’s the link to the playlist with my thoughts on the tracks below.

  1. Aerosmith, “Walk This Way” – The perfect song to start with. I’ve been really into classic, prime Aerosmith lately. No Run-D.M.C. here however…
  2. James Gang, “Walk Away” – I saw Joe Walsh solo in 1980. My friend Brewster and I kept yelling, “Walk Away,” in the hopes he’d play this song. I think he misunderstood us, because eventually he walked away from the stage without treating us to this song.
  3. Talking Heads, “Walk It Down” – From my first ever Talking Heads LP purchase, Little Creatures.
  4. Johnny Cash, “I Walk The Line” – If you’re walking, I can’t think of a better companion than the Man in Black.
  5. Tom Waits, “Walking Spanish” – I love Waits. I was late to that party… I put his tracks on my playlists to either delight people or freak them out.
  6. Page & Plant, “Walking Into Clarksdale”* – This won’t be on the Spotify list but it’s a great track about walking into Clarksdale, MS… perhaps on your way to the Blues Hall of Fame.
  7. Fats Domino, “Walking To New Orleans” – I love Fats… he was the subject of one of our first posts
  8. Nancy Sinatra, “These Boots Were Made For Walking” – If the boots are made for walking, walk baby, walk.
  9. Black Sabbath, “Walk Away” – From that great 2-LP Dio period of Sabbath.
  10. Aerosmith, “Walk On Water” – One of those great, stray greatest hits tracks from Aerosmith.
  11. Green Day, “Walk Away” – From that huge collection of songs released as Uno! Dos! and finally Tre! I may have been the only one who liked those records.
  12. INXS, “Just Keep Walking” – I love this early INXS track. Michael Hutchence loss was truly tragic.
  13. The Black Keys, “Walk With Me” – From the great blues cover LP, Delta Kream.
  14. Annie Lennox, “Walking On Broken Glass” – Such a fabulous voice.
  15. John Mellencamp, “Walk Tall” – Another great stray greatest hits track. Love this song.
  16. U2, “I Will Follow” – “If you walk away… I will follow.” What a lovely sentiment.
  17. Eddie Money, “Walk On Water” – If only we all could walk on water… Great track from Eddie Money.
  18. Fats Domino, “I’m Walkin'” – I still can’t believe we’ve lost Fats. I thought he’d live forever. His music is timeless.
  19. Depeche Mode, “Walking In My Shoes” – Depeche has a new LP on the way… this track is one of my favorites of theirs.
  20. Robert Plant, “Walking Toward Paradise” – Hopefully wherever you’re walking you’re headed to whatever your version of paradise is…
  21. Little Feat, “Walkin’ All Night” – I espouse walking but moderation people… no need to walk all night.
  22. David Lee Roth, “Sensible Shoes” – “Sensible shoes, ones that will lead me back to you…” Couldn’t resist this bluesy number.
  23. Green Day, “Walking Alone” – Whether you walk alone or in pairs, just get out there folks.
  24. Free, “Walk In My Shadow” – From their debut, the heavily blues influenced Tons Of Sobs.
  25. Donald Fagen, “Walk Between The Raindrops” – From his fabulous debut LP which is one of our favorite solo debut records. Very jazzy.
  26. R.E.M., “Redhead Walking”* – A bonus track from Accelerate that’s not on Spotify but should be on your stereo…
  27. Bruce Springsteen, “Long Walk Home” – One of Springsteen’s greatest late period tracks.
  28. Fats Domino, “I Want To Walk You Home” – Paul McCartney has a cover of this song out there somewhere…
  29. Paul Simon, “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes” – It’s nice to know a woman with diamonds on the souls of her shoes…
  30. The Police, “Walking On The Moon” – One of the first Police tracks I remember hearing…It’s on our Playlist of Songs About the Moon.
  31. Neil Young, “Walk On”* – From Neil’s famous “Ditch Trilogy” album On The Beach. Dive deep on the “Ditch Trilogy” on Neil’s Archives Vol 2
  32. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Walkabout” – From the underrated One Hot Minute, the first Chili Peppers’ LP I purchased.
  33. The Rolling Stones, “(Walking Thru) The Sleepy City” – Oh man, I used to walk through the dark city streets outside my apartment after a break up… Logged a lot of miles in the 90s. This track is slightly obscure but it’s the Stones, I had to include it.
  34. Journey, “Walks Like A Lady” – This is as close to playing the blues as Journey ever came. Great song, great vocal.
  35. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Walk On The Water” – Creedence on what may be our third song about walking on water. Did Creedence have a bad song? I love all the live stuff they’ve been releasing from their archives like last years’ from the Royal Albert Hall in ’70. Love the lead guitar on this one…
  36. Jimmie Rogers, “Walkin’ By Myself” – I’ll use any excuse I can to slip some blues onto a playlist
  37. Van Halen, “Pretty Woman” – Where the hero of our song attempts to stop a pretty woman who is walking by… I think we’ve all been there…
  38. Little Feat, “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” – How many times have I been in a jam and thought, “feet don’t fail me now…”
  39. Cheap Trick Featuring Chrissie Hynde, “Walk Away” – Great pairing of Cheap Trick who I recently saw live and Chrissie Hynde who just did an LP of Dylan covers.
  40. AC/DC, “Walk All Over You” – Some dirty bluesy rock n roll. I would expect no less from Bon Scott.
  41. Dire Straits, “Walk Of Life” – One of their happiest, peppiest tunes. This will put some steam in the ol’ stride.
  42. Mick Jagger & Peter Tosh, “(You’ve Got To Walk And) Don’t Look Back” – I still remember when Peter Tosh performed this song on live on SNL and Jagger jumped on stage and sang it with him… Jagger had a white suit on with a Hawiian shirt… he took his shoes off. Iconic stuff man!
  43. Missing Persons, “Walking In L.A.” – One I got from the Rock Chick. Great song!
  44. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Walkin’ On Down The Road” – This one is for Hillel Slovak! From the Peppers’ wonderful third LP.
  45. Jackson Browne, “Walking Slow” – Jackson singing about how I walk… slow.
  46. James Taylor, “Walking Man” – One of only a smattering of really mellow songs but you can’t leave this JT song off a walking playlist.
  47. Paul Butterfield Blues Band, “Walkin’ Blues” – I love anything off those first two Paul Butterfield Blues Band albums.
  48. The Police, “Walking In Your Footsteps” – If we continue to ignore climate change, alas we will follow in the dinosaur’s footsteps. Of course their extinction event was a meteor… ours is going to be self-inflicted.
  49. John Fogerty, “Walking In A Hurricane” – Clearly he was in Florida at the time. Rawkin’ track.
  50. Fleetwood Mac, “Walk A Thin Line” – When I bought Tusk, Lindsey’s songs were my least favorite. Now they’re my favorites.
  51. Led Zeppelin, “Walter’s Walk” – “I’m walkin’ the floor over you, I’m walkin’ the floor.” Oh we’ve all been there.
  52. U2, “Walk On” – From their last truly brilliant album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind.
  53. Lou Reed, “Walk On The Wild Side” – Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional walk on the wild side? We miss Lou today, man.
  54. Black Crowes, “Walk Believer Walk” – I’ve really been getting into the Black Crowes lately. I hope the brothers Robinson grace us with a new LP this year! This is a grimy, dirty blues rock thing.
  55. Kiss, “Strutter” – If you’re going to walk, show some swagger and strut!
  56. Little Feat, “Sailin’ Shoes” – “Put on your sailin’ shoes, everyone will start to cheer.” I’m not sure this is a fit but you gotta have shoes on to walk…

*Track not available on Spotify

There it is folks, our Playlist Songs About Walking. Whether you choose to listen to this while you walk or while you’re sipping whiskey, I just hope it brings you a little joy during these grim winter months. As always with my playlists I’m hopeful to have turned you onto something you hadn’t heard or at the very least, turn you back onto something you hadn’t heard in a while.

Keep moving, keep pushing forward. It’s a dark ride so always try and be walking with somebody, toward something good.

Cheers!

David Crosby, Founding Member of The Byrds, Crosby, Stills Nash &/or Young – Gone at 81 – RIP Croz

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*Image taken from the internet and copyrighted

I was sitting at my desk just now working for my corporate masters but really “doing next to nothing but different than the day before,” when I saw the sad news that David Crosby, “Croz,” had passed away after a long illness. He was 81. Man, what a bummer couple of weeks it’s been. First, legendary guitarist Jeff Beck passes. Then Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the King, passes away. And now this. Crosby was a founding member of seminal folk-rock group the Byrds with Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Micheal Clarke. He was a founding member of Crosby, Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young) and oh my god the vocal harmonies those guys could create. He was also a solo artist. I was a big, big fan. He had been on a creative hot streak of late. What a voice. I wonder how many people he sang back up vocals for? Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Phil Collins… the list goes on and on.

Crosby, as I mentioned, helped found the Byrds. I have to admit, despite my younger brother – who was always way ahead of me musically… perhaps he’s an old soul – owning several Byrds’ records I didn’t connect with until the last few years. When I discovered how great they were I went crashing through their first five albums – from Mr. Tambourine Man to The Notorious Byrd Brothers. They were the first band to take tunes by Dylan (and other traditional folk songs) and electrify them. Crosby’s vocals and rhythm guitar were a critical component of the band. He did upset the rest of the band when he substituted with the Buffalo Springfield, a perceived rival band, at the Monterey musical festival… he was sub’ing for an absent Neil Young. The man was nothing if not headstrong. When he submitted the song “Triad” about a menage a trois to the band McGuinn had had enough. He was kicked out of the band. Although the Jefferson Airplane had no problem covering it.

A staple of the Laurel Canyon music scene, it was at a party at Mama Cass’ house that he ran into Stephen Stills, newly freed from the Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash, recently freed from the Hollies. They harmonized on Stills’ “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” and they realized, “Hey, maybe we’re onto something here.” Their first LP, creatively titled Crosby Stills & Nash was a smash. They played their first concert at Woodstock! Neil Young joined and they recorded their second album, which I love, Deja Vu. At that point the group unity kinda went south. Everybody went off to solo careers. While Crosby Stills & Nash would regroup quite often, Neil only joined for a CSNY reunion a couple of times over the years – for American Dream and Looking Forward. I actually really liked those albums… although I may be the only person who did. I was lucky enough to see CSNY on the Looking Forward tour and it was great. I went with my friend the Jean Genie who was 8 months pregnant. You’ve never gotten hostile stares at a concert until you’ve gone with a pregnant woman… and I’ve vomited at concerts. I wasn’t her husband, it wasn’t my fault she was pregnant.

Crosby’s first solo album after CSNY had gone their separate ways was If Only I Could Remember My Name, a title I laughed at when I was in college. I finally picked it up a few years back and it’s absolutely wonderful. It’s one of my favorites. “Cowboy Movie” is one of his greatest tunes ever written. Crosby also did several great LPs with erstwhile friend Graham Nash whose voices intertwined to sound like angels. I recommend Graham Nash/David Crosby and Wind On The Water to any fan of CSN. I like so much of CSNY’s solo work and duo albums. All of that early, mid-70s stuff is just dynamite music.

Crosby’s solo career saw the release of only three albums over the first 40 years and five albums over the last ten years. He had two bands he was working with. The Lighthouse band did The Lighthouse and Here If You Listen. I never connected as strongly with those records but I loved Sky Trails. To me that record signaled Croz had a lot more music in him. He recorded that album in collaboration with, among others, his son James Raymond. His last record, For Free, was another great record. Laid back, super vocals, great vibe music. Both those latter LPs were the kind of albums that B&V were founded for – great late career LPs by established artists.

Crosby wrote so many great songs. “Deja Vu,” “Almost Cut My Hair,” “Guinivere” (covered by Miles Davis no less), “Wooden Ships,” “Long Time Gone,” “Delta,” “Cowboy Movie,” “Compass,” “Capitol,” and “Carry Me” just to name a few. And that list doesn’t even mention any of his songs in the Byrds. He was really an iconic, rock n roll legend. A true Rock Star. He was a big figure in the counter culture and helped inspire Neil Young to write the greatest protest song ever, “Ohio.” He produced one of Joni Mitchell’s early albums. And like true rock stars, he did have a drug problem and ran afoul of the law. He actually did some time in Texas. What rock star amongst you is guilt free? He will be truly missed. Not only for the great music from the 70s that he was most known for but for the great music he was still making. This is even more tragic as he was in the middle of a true career renaissance.

Croz, we’ll miss you man. RIP to a legend. I have to say, tonight will be a long evening delving into Crosby’s music from throughout his storied career. I guess, as Croz once sang, “I feel like letting my freak flag fly, Yes, I feel like I owe it to someone…”

It’s a long dark ride folks. Take care of each other out there. Cheers!

The Very Old, Very False Myth That The Devil Isn’t In The Details, He’s In The Rock N Roll Music

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I was reading something the other day. It was a discussion of all the preposterous rock n roll rumors that have propagated over the years. Naturally my first thought was that myth that Zeppelin was booed off stage in Kansas City. That of course led me to the old rumor that Van Halen were actually Kiss without their make up. Gene Simmons financed their demo tape and on the debut album, Van Halen, they thank him which started the whole story. This was way before Kiss took their make up off on MTV. I know my friend Brewster was incensed by that rumor. He knew Ace Frehley couldn’t play guitar like Eddie. The only preposterous story I ever heard that seemed like it might be true was the story about a woman being murdered and recorded in the background during the recording of “Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players. That primal scream a couple of minutes into the song used to scare the crap out of me.

The preposterous rumor that didn’t scare me when I was a teenager was the oldest story in the book. The myth that Satan was lurking behind all this rock n roll I loved. If anything those kind of rumors might have fueled my desire to hear more rock n roll. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Satanist but neither is rock n roll in any real sense. Of course I have to admit the cover art on the Dio fronted Black Sabbath album Mob Rules did give my mother pause…”What the Hell is this you’re listening to?” I read one time that there was a spike in teen smoking after the they put the “The Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health” warning on the packs. We are collectively drawn toward danger and darkness. We thrive on risk. If they outlaw cigarettes only outlaws will smoke… or something like that? I will say, I think the professor in Animal House played by Donald Sutherland is right… The Devil is the most interesting character in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Who doesn’t love a well written villain? Paging Hannibal Lecter… Again, I’m not decrying religion of any nature… but “God makes me nervous when you get him indoors.”

The whole “Satan” thing really reached preposterous levels when I was in junior high. Supposedly, Rush, who had a pentagram in their logo actually stood for Ruled Under Satan’s Hand. It was said they held Satanic rituals in the arenas after concerts. The more I’ve learned about the guys in Rush over the years, they’re the nicest people in music this side of Dave Grohl. The most Satanic thing Rush ever did was brew their own micro beer. They said the same thing about Kiss. It supposedly stood for Knights In Satan’s Service. I mean, come on? The only thing that Kiss was in service of was commerce. Those guys had Kiss Koffins for sale. I’m willing to say that Ace might been a little dark but Gene Simmons was all about the benjamins. When I finally stopped listening to these rumors were when someone told me the exact same story – Satanic rituals after concerts – about… Journey. I was like, Steve Perry? The man has the voice of an angel? Maybe Satan was who he was singing to in “Don’t Stop Believin’?” Sorry folks this is where I get off the Satan bus.

Perhaps the first time the Satan myth popped up was about legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, pictured above. The story goes that he was an average to weak guitar player. He supposedly went down to the crossroads where he met the Devil, who tuned his guitar. After that his playing was amazing. It’s kind of a take on the whole Faustian legend if you ask me. Faust sold his soul to the Devil for ultimate knowledge and pleasure. After this alleged meeting with Satan or possibly Papa Legba, Johnson became quite the legend. I’m guessing the truth is a little different. Likely preachers, upset by the effect Johnson’s music and guitar playing was having on people – especially women – decided there must be demonic forces here. If the pretty woman in town won’t sleep with the preacher but will with the guy singing “Sweet Home Chicago,” the Devil must be at work here. And believe me, Robert was popular with the ladies… The preachers finally began to decry Johnson and blues music as the work of the Devil. And like that cigarette warning label, it probably helped his career.

It was a similar case in the 50s. When what we now call rock n roll sprung up it terrified the conservative establishment. Those folks thrive on fear in the masses. Fear divides us and keeps us docile to the powers that be. Preachers and elder statesmen in the 50s were decrying this new music as the work of the Devil to scare parents. It worked, to a degree. Frightened parents tried to keep their kids away from that primal music. Again I think they were particularly frightened of how women were reacting. Most of our history revolves around keeping women down, if you think about it. Why else would they insist that the Ed Sullivan Show only film the King from the waist up? Elvis the Pelvis as he was known. Anything that sexual has to be bad… at least it did in 50s, Eisenhower America where the female orgasm was still a myth. I’m beginning to think the Devil is the tool of the establishment. If anything parents trying to keep rock n roll away from their kids, making it seem more illicit, made the rebellious music take off like they couldn’t imagine. I know Frank Sinatra was dismayed. By the time the 60s hit, rock n roll helped lead a youth rebellion.

I remember Zeppelin was supposedly Satanic. Anybody that big had to be “in league with Lucifer.” I knew a girl in Arkansas who took my friend Doug and I out to a spot outside of town that she claimed was frequented by Devil worshipers. She said they all sat around listening to Zeppelin. I couldn’t help but think, why not Sabbath? Anyway, these “Devil worshipers” had written “Serve Satin” on the rock wall. I was like, “Satin? Like the sheets?” The young lady said they misspelled Satan’s name as “Satin” because it furthered their blasphemy. Sigh. Maybe they should have furthered their education to work on their spelling? Zeppelin’s lead guitar player Jimmy Page was into the occult and owned the former house of occultist Aleister Crowley. They had songs like “Black Dog” and “In My Time Of Dying” that scared people. This was the 70s where films like The Exorcist and Omen were current hits. There was always scary black dogs running around chewing up the good guys, Rottweilers if I’m not mistaken. Doug’s mother was fond of the movie Devil Dog, Hound of Hell. It was Zeppelin’s iconic track “Stairway To Heaven” that got the attention of everybody. Supposedly if you spun the record backwards you could hear them say “Here’s to Sweet Satan.” I will admit, when we did this when I was in high school I thought I could hear the word Satan but I think it was a coincidence. I don’t think it was planned. I remember jumping up on the couch in fear but I’m a lover not a religious crusader… yeah, I was scared. ELO made fun of it by doing a backward masking thing on “Fire On High.” When played backwards it said, “The music is reversible but time is not.” I don’t think, despite Page’s dark bent, that Zeppelin had anything to do with Satan.

It was Black Sabbath who realized the value of adopting that whole Evil thing. Instead of running away from it they realized that calling themselves Black Sabbath and having scary album artwork could actually work in their favor. Embrace the scary evil and it draws people in. So many heavy metal bands have adopted the same stance. It puts them outside the norms of society and makes them seem like outlaws and/or outcasts which is a vibe all teenagers can gravitate toward it. Let’s face it folks, Satan Sells. That’s why you’ve got Motley Crue singing “Shout At The Devil,” and people like Rob Zombie out there doing whatever you call what he does. We used to laugh at Iron Maiden and their mascot Eddie. We called them, amongst others, “Scary Monster Rock.” But you know what, they were the ones laughing all the way to the bank. The Devil is actually an accountant in a three-piece suit.

The next time you hear your grandmother or some preacher telling you that rock music – if anybody even remembers rock music anymore – is the tool of the Devil, please laugh that off. It’s the most preposterous thing in the world. Anytime the establishment wants to scare you away from something, run toward it. I’m going to spend my weekend cranking Iggy Pop’s new album Every Loser and anything by Jeff Beck, who just passed, that I can get my hands off. Because Jeff Beck played that Devil’s guitar better than almost anybody out there.

Be safe out there but break some rules this weekend. Be naughty because it feels so nice.

Cheers!

Jeff Beck, Guitar Legend, Has Passed Away At 78 – RIP Jeff Beck – Yardbirds, The Jeff Beck Group, ‘Blow By Blow’ – Such A Tremendous Loss

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*Image of Jeff Beck in 2014 above taken from the internet and likely copyrighted

I was in my home office trying to knock out a laborious task for my corporate masters when I took a break to look on-line to see if anything of note had happened today. To be honest, I wanted to check the news and to look at some rock n roll stuff. It was then that I saw the sad news that guitar legend Jeff Beck had passed away from meningitis. Then I read it was a hoax, then I read it was the truth, Beck had passed. Damn internet. It was then that my friend, drummer Blake, reached out with the news. It is with a heavy heart I type these words: Jeff Beck has passed at the young age of 78 years old from a sudden bought of meningitis. He was simply one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Rolling Stone magazine had him in the top 5 all time if that means anything to you. He ranks up there with Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix for me. He could bend the strings…

Obviously, I am a huge fan of Jeff Beck. He had a guitar tone that was instantly recognizable. As most people know, he was one of the “Big 3” guitarist who played in the seminal English, blues rock band The Yardbirds. The Yardbirds started with Clapton on lead guitar but he quit because of his “blues purism.” He thought the band was moving too far into “pop.” Jeff Beck then came in to replace him. Eventually Jimmy Page joined the band. Imagine that dual lead guitar line up – Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck! Eventually they fired Beck and kept Page. Jeff could be, uh, mercurial. After the blues purism of Clapton, Jeff Beck really opened up what the Yardbirds’ sound. If you listen to “Heart Full of Soul” you can hear the psychedelia entering the picture. I think that was the song they’d hired a sitar player to play on, but they didn’t like the sound so Jeff just played the riff it on guitar. There was little he couldn’t do with the instrument. Coincidentally Ozzy Osbourne was able to recruit both Jeff Beck and Clapton to play on his album Patient Number 9 and had actually reached out to Page to play on the record, but he declined. As Meatloaf sang, “Two out of three (Yardbirds’ guitarists) ain’t bad.” Beck plays on the title track (Review: Ozzy Osbourne’s New Song Patient Number 9 With Jeff Beck! On Guitar) of the album and one other song.

After leaving the Yardbirds Jeff formed his own band, The Jeff Beck Group. Guitarists were a huge draw and Beck was to be the focus of the band so they used his name to cash in on his Yardbirds fame. He recruited Ronnie Wood (later of the Faces and Rolling Stones) to play bass guitar and Rod Stewart as his lead vocalist. The theory was Jeff’s guitar would pull the guys into shows and good looking Rod Stewart would draw the women. Jimmy Page, who took Beck’s job in the Yardbirds stole that very blueprint for Led Zepplin with Robert Plant. I loved the Jeff Beck Group and posted on them years ago: Artist Lookback: The (Original) Jeff Beck Group: Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart & Ronnie Wood. They only hung together for 2 albums, Truth and Beckola before constant touring and treating Wood & Stewart like sidemen broke the band up. Ronnie Wood joined the Faces on his chosen instrument, guitar. Rod went solo but soon joined Woody in the Faces. The album Truth is one of the most influential albums in blues rock. It’s a stunning record. I could listen to their version of Howlin Wolf’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” and “Blues De Luxe” all day long. “Blues De Luxe” is on my “Rockers Playing the Blues” playlist. The Jeff Beck Group was supposed to play Woodstock but Jeff, who was fond of fast cars, was in a car accident and they couldn’t play. I still wonder to this day what would have happened if they’d made that iconic gig.

After the Yardbirds and the original Jeff Beck Group a lot of people may have lost track of Beck. He formed a couple of different bands and put out records. He carried on as the Jeff Beck Group with an all new line up he put together that included Cozy Powell on drums and Bobby Tench on vocals. Then in 1973 he formed Beck, Bogert, Appice with Tim Bogert on bass and Carmine Appice on drums. Carmine’s little brother Vinny played with the Dio fronted Black Sabbath on Mob Rules. Beck, Bogart, Appice did a version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” on that record that inspired Stevie Ray Vaughn to cover it years later.

While that was already an incredible resume, in the middle 70s Beck decided to eschew working with a vocalist and put out two of the greatest guitar instrumental records ever. In 1975 he put out Blow By Blow which is another personal favorite. He covered the Beatles song “She’s A Woman.” He has a guitar solo titled “Constipated Duck” which may win the most preposterous song title award. He also covers Stevie Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” to wonderful effect. He worked with keyboardist Max Middleton who had been in the second incarnation of the Jeff Beck Group and it’s just a great LP. It almost feels like Jazz. He came back in 1976 with Wired, which I believe may be drummer Blake’s favorite. It was also produced by George Martin. They do a cover of Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” which is worth the price of admission.

After those highlights I have to admit my knowledge of Jeff’s work is spotty. I remember hearing his version of “People Get Ready” with Rod Stewart and it’s a sublime track:

I know he also guested on Stewart’s LP Camouflage and joined the tour but quit only a few shows in. I know Rod and Jeff Beck talked about trying to record together again for years after that – up until just recently – but they couldn’t get it together. Rod wanted to do blues stuff and Jeff’s musical tastes couldn’t be confined to the blues. It was a missed opportunity if you ask me. Their relationship was a rocky one. As Jeff said when he inducted Rod into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, “Rod and I have a love-hate relationship. He loves me and I hate him.”

While I lost touch a bit with Jeff’s work over the years I know he did quite a few critically acclaimed records over the years like Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop and Who Else!. Drummer Blake turned me onto the video – that I recommend highly – Live At Ronnie Scott’s. If you watch the audience on that DVD you’ll spot all kinds of rock royalty there to listen to Jeff’s guitar wizardry. While I didn’t keep up as much with his solo work, he was a guest guitarist on so many other artist’s records: Mick Jagger, Ozzy, Paul Rodgers and Roger Waters just to name a few. His amazing guitar skills were much sought after.

Rock and roll in the 60s was built on the backs of guitar giants like Jeff Beck. Of the three Yardbirds guitarists, Jeff probably gets the least attention. His records – from the Yardbirds to the Jeff Beck Group to his solo stuff – should be on everyone’s turntable.

It may be a Wednesday night – and I avoid drinking on weeknights – but tonight I see a tumbler of the good stuff with Truth, Blow By Blow, Wired and Beckola on the stereo. “I’ve been drinkin’ again, thinkin of when you left me.” We’ve lost a true legend today, and way too soon. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “The guy could play.”

RIP Jeff Beck, guitar legend, 24 June 1944 – 10 January 2023. It’s a sad day indeed. You will be missed.

Time is short folks. Cherish every day.

Cheers!

Review: Iggy Pop, ‘Every Loser’ – The First Great LP of the 2023 – Frenetic Rock n Roll Produced By Andrew Watt

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It was barely a week into 2023 (January 6th) and Iggy Pop released the first great record of the year, Every Loser. I knew the album was coming out but it still snuck up on me. Of course I’ve been in a bit of reflective funk of late brought on by the end of the year. Naturally we looked back over the past year when we did our 2022 “best of” list. And then we kicked off the year by looking way back (50 years) with a playlist based on the great music of 1973, which included “Search And Destroy” from Iggy’s first group, the Stooges. It seems I’ve come full circle in the span of a week and a half… If there’s anything that can pull me out of the backward-facing revelry that permeated the end of last year and the beginning of this year and force me to look forward it’s great rock n roll by the icon, Iggy Pop.

I’ve been looking forward to this album since Iggy dropped the first single “Frenzy” last October. I’d like to tell you I’ve been an Iggy fan since the 70s, refusing to wear a shirt in 3rd grade while bouncing around in my desk singing “Lust For Life” at the top of my lungs… “Eat it, Mrs. Peters.” But alas, that’s not the case. Even in my rebellious teen years I didn’t get into Iggy. You never heard him on the radio and you dig what you hear. It wasn’t until Iggy collaborated with Josh Homme on Iggy’s 2016 album Post Pop Depression that I jumped on the bandwagon. I had only recently gotten into the Queens of the Stone Age, Homme’s band, and when I heard he was producing Iggy’s latest LP I gave it a spin. Something clicked for me and it sent me crashing through Iggy’s back catalog like it was lunch and I missed breakfast.

If you’re talking about Iggy Pop you can’t start without first listening to the three landmark LPs he did with the Stooges which really set the pallet for punk rock – The Stooges (1969), Fun House (1970), and Raw Power (1973). Even though Raw Power was produced by David Bowie it didn’t get a lot of airplay. With Iggy’s solo career you have to start with his first two records, also produced by David Bowie, The Idiot and Lust For Life. I absolutely love those albums. But even though I have become a big fan of Iggy’s I have to admit, his career after those first two LPs has been… inconsistent. There have been great albums, New Values or Brick By Brick but there have been long stretches where he released less than stellar LPs. That said, I have been very impressed with almost everything Iggy has done since Skull Ring in 2003.

His last three LPs (if you include this one) have been really strong. To think that he can still surprise and show this much vitality this far into his career is amazing. I’m not sure he’s put together a hot streak like he’s done lately since he left the Stooges. I really liked Post Pop Depression, as mentioned. Although it felt almost like a farewell. Then he turned around and surprised me with Free. I’ll admit that Free was a bit of a detour from a sonic perspective – there were horns instead of guitar, a very jazzy affair – but there was a lot to like, especially the track “James Bond.” It wasn’t a perfect album – there were a few too many spoken word pieces for me – but it was atmospheric and interesting. But again, it sounded like Iggy saying good bye.

Which makes Every Loser that much more surprising. It’s full of harder edged, punk rock songs. There are still some atmospheric moments but again, Iggy’s power and vitality are on full display here. Pop brings all the pissy, irreverent attitude you would hope for from him. It certainly helps that the album was produced by my current favorite producer Andrew Watt. Watt also plays guitar, keyboards, bass guitar and probably “the kitchen sink.” Watt has recently produced a hard rock/heavy metal album with Ozzy’s Patient Number 9, a pretty straight up classic rock album with Eddie Vedder’s Earthling and now he’s going for punk rock with Iggy. What can’t Watt do? It doesn’t hurt that Watt has a collection of musicians, almost like a house band at a bar, that he uses for all these records. It’s a who’s who: Chad Smith (drummer from the RHCP), Duff McKagan (bass guitar from GnR), and Josh Klinghoffer (former guitarist for the RHCP). He augmented that crew on this album with members of Jane’s Addiction – Dave Navarro (guitar), Chris Chaney (bass), and Eric Avery (also bass). Stone Gossard, guitarist for Pearl Jam pops up as does drummer Travis Barker. The late Taylor Hawkins drums on “Comments” and helped co-write “The Regency.”

Having all of that talent really brings out the best in Pop here. Or should I say, brings out the rock in Pop. While I read somewhere that Iggy’s goal was to “beat the shit out of you musically” this album’s lyrics are much more thoughtful than you might expect. That said, there is plenty of vulgarity which goes down pretty fucking well around B&V. And like Free Iggy continues to like his spoken word pieces. There are two interludes here “The News For Andy (Interlude)” (where Iggy reads advertisements) and “My Animus” where he shares well, his animus and both are spoken word.

There are so many great rock songs. “Frenzy” is just balls to the wall rock n roll and reminiscent of the Stooges, but we’ve reviewed that previously. “Modern Day Rip Off” is a frenetic, lurching rocker. Chad Smith’s drumming on that one is volcanic and the guitars snarl. Hearing Iggy sing “I’m guilty as sin, but I know how to win, I don’t know how to cry, I don’t know how to die,” makes you believe it. At the end of “Neo Punk” you can hear Iggy laughing, he’s clearly having fun. It’s short, hard, fast and dark. He sings, “I get fucked up so I don’t kill myself.” Sadly, I’ve been there. If you’re struggling reach out to somebody. “Neo Punk” is the classic meet me at the finish line rocker. If you’ve come to, well, have the shit beat out of you musically, you will be satisfied by these tunes alone.

There is so much more here to like. “Strung Out Johnny” is an amazing song about addiction and I added it immediately upon hearing it to our playlist about heroin. Watt plays some keyboards on this track which makes the tune, they’re the perfect accent for this midtempo song. “You’re strung out Johnny and now it’s time to pay.” “New Atlantis” is Iggy’s love letter to Miami. Atlantis was the mythical Greek city that sank into the sea. Miami is a mythical party city that’s about to sink into the sea. It starts with a spoken word intro which lays out Iggy’s love of his hometown. I didn’t see a climate change anthem from Iggy coming but I dig it. Iggy croons and Watt plays a fabulous guitar solo. It’s a great tune. “All The Way Down” features Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam on guitar and it’s my favorite tune here. The song is melodic and unhinged at the same time. As Iggy wails “When I’m down, when I’m down” over and over you think the song is going to fall apart, but thankfully it doesn’t. “Comments” is wonderful commentary on our internet/social media society. “I’m looking for a soulmate in the comments…” Taylor Hawkins drumming propels the tune.

“Morning Show” is the sole ballad here. It’s got some acoustic guitar accents that I like. It’s about an old star pulling himself together despite the pain to go and do…well, the morning show. “The Regency” ends the album and as the longest tune on the record it feels like the big statement song. It’s basically Iggy battling the powers that be. It’s a battle cry against the phony status quo. It’s a fine place to end the record and another really strong track.

At this stage in the game I had no idea that Iggy Pop could still blow me away. He’s one of our most vital, important artists and I’m so glad that he’s going through this late career renaissance. Every Loser is yet another great, late-career album from an artist who should get even more attention. If you don’t believe me trust Anthony Bourdain, he loved the guy. Iggy is a true rock n roll icon and albums like this are why.

Cheers!

Playlist…We Kick Off 2023 By… Looking Back 50 Years – 1973

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I know we’re already a few days into this brand spanking new year and I may be late on this, but let me wish all of you a Happy New Year! It’s 2023 which when I was kid would have sounded like a date from the reruns of Star Trek we all watched religiously after school… I can almost hear Captain Kirk saying, “Star Date 2023… and I’ve just met a captivating green woman…” I don’t know if other families are like mine when it comes to Christmas, but right around Thanksgiving the Rock Chick suddenly morphs into Mrs. Claus. A tree pops up fully decorated and there are lights strung everywhere. Suddenly gone from the stereo are the latest LPs from the Cult or Bush replaced by (gads) Mariah Carey and Bing Crosby. Xmas is a terribly frightful time for me even if I am a reformed Grinch. I only like a little of the Xmas music…so I suffer most of it. But once the relatives have gone home and our daughter heads to the airport the Rock Chick shuts Xmas down like somebody threw a light switch or a referee has blown a whistle. Down comes the tree and the lights. The forest of poinsettias gets mowed down like somebody struck oil in the living room. That’s one thing about the Rock Chick, she’s not sentimental. Once Christmas passes, it’s pull off the red, green and white band-aid time.

Then we enter that weird week between Xmas and New Year’s Day. The Rock Chick, who literally single-handedly does everything for Xmas, sort of collapses in exhaustion. I wander around the house wondering which day of the week it is. It’s during this time that I go into a deep fog of heavy reflection. Typically that produces my year end “best of” list for the previous 12 months and 2022 was no exception. But of course the range of my reflection goes well beyond just music. I ruminate over tumblers of dark, murky liquids about everything. I think most people get a little reflective during that week between the holidays…nothing to do at work, might as well ruminate. There’s nothing that reminds us more of the ticking of the clock than the end of one year and the beginning of the next. As Jackson Browne famously sang, “I’ve been aware of the time going by, they say in the end it’s a wink of an eye.” Questions like “What did I accomplish this year?” or “How far have I come in life?” are naturally rolling around our heads during that time.

Then New Year’s Day hits and everyone is slightly hungover and it’s time to look forward towards the future. People start asking different questions like “What will I accomplish this year?” or “How can I improve myself this year?” and so on. This is the time that everybody starts making New Year’s Resolutions. I usually do the dreaded “Dry January,” but not this year. Dry January was easy to do when the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t competitive. Now that they’re in the playoffs most January’s it’s virtually impossible for me to stay completely sober down the stretch. I have to do my part to help them win, which typically means consuming beer and pacing in front of the TV.  I considered giving up coffee but… why? I have noticed my local gym is now packed with new people and will likely remain so until mid-February when all of this New Year/New Me mania wears off.

While most people start thinking about the future I can’t help myself, I’m always a little stuck in that reflective mode in January, looking backward. I’ve come to realize over the years that the only thing I can change about the past is how I look at it or how I react to it which helps frame it (or perhaps tame it is more appropriate). Naturally all of this reflection eventually leads me back to music. A couple of years ago (2021) I read an article about 1971 being the greatest year ever in music. Many of the albums released in ’71 were celebrating 50th anniversaries and I have to admit it was an amazing year for music. I actually put together a 1971 Playlist culled from those landmark LPs released that year and really enjoyed doing so. Last year, 2022, I looked back again to 1972 (complete with playlist) and again, I really enjoyed it. 1971 to me was really the last gasp of the era we identify as the 60’s and 1972, to me anyway, was the real birth of the 70s. I don’t subscribe to the theory that when the calendar goes from a year that ends in “9” to a year that ends in “0” music and culture just change on a dime. There’s usually a slow fade of one decade and a slow blossoming of the new.

In that spirit, I thought I’d look back 50 years again, this time to 1973. Let me be real clear though, in 1973 I was still counting years in single digits. I had very few clear memories from ’71 or even ’72. 1973 is the first year I can admit to remembering… well, I remember hearing some of the songs on this list anyway. So much of this music from 1973 was in high rotation when I started listening to music years later, it’s almost iconic. I joked when listening to all that great music from 1971 I needed a leather, fringe jacket ala David Crosby to satisfy my hippy Jones. Listening to music from ’73 makes me remember riding around in mom’s green Ford with the AM radio cranked. What I’d need to celebrate my 70s Jones would probably be a polyester leisure suit that curiously matches what my brother has on.

1973 was such a tumultuous time for the world. It started off on a bummer when Nixon was inaugurated for his second term. Even then Watergate hung over his Administration. Later in the year we saw what is now known as the Saturday Night Massacre where Nixon fired his Attorney General and Deputy AG in order to circumvent the rule of law. Fun times. OPEC started an oil embargo and I remember seeing long lines at gas stations. The Vietnam Peace was still being negotiated in Paris. Thug Spiro Agnew resigned as the VP of the U.S. and was replaced with clumsy Gerald Ford. Pinochet came to power in Chile to tragic consequences. There was a war in the Middle East on Yom Kippur. George Foreman beat Joe Frazier and became the heavy weight champ… Ali was watching and working up his rope-a-dope act even then I suppose. The Godfather, one of my absolute favorite movies came out that year. I still like to say, when something’s gone wrong, “You have to answer for Santino, Carlo.” We’d shifted away from the hippy good vibes of the 60s and the Me Generation took root. It all sounds like a drag… at least we had some great music in 1973.

There were a lot of great, legendary artists who put out their debut albums in 1973: Springsteen (who put out 2 LPs that year), Aerosmith, Tom Waits, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Queen. Talk about a list of artists who shaped the 70s, that’s it. Many artists put out 2 LPs in ’73: Elton John, Al Green, Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac (in pre-Buckingham/Nicks configuration), Bob Marley and Bowie. We got great LPs from huge acts like Zeppelin and the Who which didn’t happen in ’72. All four ex-Beatles put out solo LPs in ’73 as did other acts who emerged from 60s bands: Paul Simon, Gram Parsons (posthumously), David Ruffin, and Stephen Stills (with Manassas). The world discovered Bob Marley & the Wailers as they started their time with Island Records and went international. While many may crinkle their noses at 1973 as compared to ’71 or ’72, I have to admit there were so many great albums put out in that year I had over 110 songs to start this thing. I had to make really hard choices to winnow it down to these 70 tracks because as wonderful as my pithy comments on the tracks are, no one wants to read 110 song comments… That many great albums has gotta say something about the quality of the music from ’73. And I didn’t even include anything from Neil Young’s Time Fades Away or Bob Seger’s Back In ’72 because neither of those albums are available on Spotify…

As usual I based this list on tracks from LPs released in ’73. If a song was released in ’72 and reigned the charts in ’73 you won’t find it here. I’m into LPs. There are a few exceptions – singles I couldn’t resist putting on here – but they were all released in 1973. I tend to gravitate toward deep tracks but for ’73 I put more “hit” songs on here than usual. You can find this playlist on Spotify under “BourbonAndVinyl. 1973” and as always if you have additions you’d like me to make, mention them in the comments and I’ll add them on the Spotify list. I always look at these playlists as “our” playlists. I always play these on “shuffle.”

  1. Bruce Springsteen, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., “Spirit In The Night” – From the Boss’ debut. A group of youngsters go out to a local lake and party.
  2. Aerosmith, Aerosmith, “Dream On” – This song, which didn’t really get popular until a few years later when Aerosmith broke big in 75/76 may have invented the power ballad.
  3. Little Feat, Dixie Chicken, “Dixie Chicken” – I love Little Feat and this is their most famous song. Boy meets girl, girl leaves with a guitar player… a story as old as time.
  4. Elton John, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, “Elderberry Wine” – I went with this deep track that I’d also used on our Drinking Playlist because it’s one of my favorite Elton deep tracks. I like the line, “the bottle went round like a woman down south, passed on from hand to hand.”
  5. Gram Parsons, G.P., “She” – Gram Parsons, a Southerner, writing about his mama and how she could sing.
  6. Deep Purple, Who Do We Think We Are, “Woman From Tokyo” – One of my favorites from Deep Purple.
  7. Alice Cooper, Billion Dollar Babies, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” – I could have picked about any track off this album, my favorite from Alice Cooper. It does sort of capture the Alice persona.
  8. The Stooges, Raw Power, “Search And Destroy” – Iggy Pop and the Stooges with an iconic hard rock song that helped inspire a lot of punk bands.
  9. Dr. John, In The Right Place, “Right Place Wrong Time” – Sadly, we lost Dr. John recently (2020). B.B. King later did a nice cover of this. I have literally always been in the right place at the wrong time.
  10. Dusty Springfield, Cameo, “Tupelo Honey” – Dusty covering Van Morrison. Not as epic as the original but still a great song.
  11. David Ruffin, David Ruffin, “(If Lovin’ You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right” – The former front man of the Temptations and one of my favorite singers. Rod Stewart covered this song later in the 70s and hearing this you can absolutely hear the influence.
  12. Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon, “Money” – The album that changed everything for Pink Floyd. Iconic.
  13. The Doobie Brothers, The Captain And Me, “Dark Eyed Cajun Lady” – I went with this deep track vs the myriad hits on the album as it’s just a great country rock track.
  14. Tom Waits, Closing Time, “Ol’ 55” – I love this LP, but I’m partial to debut LPs. This version is so much better than the one by the Eagles done a few years later.
  15. The Byrds, The Byrds, “Full Circle” – From the final reunion of the original members of the Byrds. It was a dud commercially but this is a great Gene Clark song.
  16. Led Zeppelin, Houses Of The Holy, “Over The Hills And Far Away” – Probably the best known track from the album. I almost went with “The Ocean” a favorite of the Rock Chick.
  17. Faces, Ooh La La, “Cindy Incidentally” – The Faces’ last gasp. It was the single, although the title track should have been. This LP is much better than it’s reputation.
  18. Fleetwood Mac, Penguin, “Remember Me” – A really pretty track from the late Christine McVie.
  19. Johnny Winter, Still Alive And Well, “Silver Train” – Johnny shaking his magic blues dust on a Stones track. Great Stones cover.
  20. J. Geils Band, Bloodshot, “Give It To Me” – This track starts off with a reggae vibe and turns into a guitar jam. It’s loose and perfect.
  21. David Bowie, Aladdin Sane, “The Jean Genie” – A song I used to nickname my good friend Jeanne… Aladdin Sane gets attention for it’s iconic cover, but trust me, pull the record out and put it on the turntable. I almost picked “Panic In Detroit” from this one.
  22. Bob Marley & The Wailers, Catch A Fire, “Stir It Up” – If you haven’t explored Marley any deeper than the greatest hits Legend, you need to. Start with this LP.
  23. Eagles, Desperado, “Tequila Sunrise” – From the second album. I left the title track for Linda Ronstadt below.
  24. Stephen Stills (Manassas), Down The Road, “Isn’t It About Time” – The second Manassas LP gets overlooked but this is a great Stills tune.
  25. Wings (Paul McCartney), Red Rose Speedway, “My Love” – From the first of 2 albums in ’73. Paul waxing on about his love does him good.
  26. Al Green, Call Me, “Call Me (Come Back Home)” – Even when he’s singing a break up song, Al sounds happy. One of his best tracks here.
  27. The Marshall Tucker Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, “Can’t You See” – Still one of my favorite train songs.
  28. Paul Simon, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, “Kodachrome” –  I can close my eyes when I hear this and I’m in the back seat of mom’s car as she careens through traffic.
  29. George Harrison, Living In The Material World, “Give Me Love, (Give Me Peace On Earth)” – If you remove the ex-Beatle expectations Harrison faced, this album would have been much bigger. It’s fantastic a real gem.
  30. Joe Walsh, The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get, “Rocky Mountain Way” – One of the greatest rock anthems of all time.
  31. Sly & The Family Stone, Fresh, “If You Want Me To Stay” – I’m not a huge Sly fan but I’ve always loved this track.
  32. Bob Dylan, Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (Soundtrack), “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – Dylan’s iconic song later covered by Eric Clapton, Guns N Roses, and Warren Zevon to name a few.
  33. Queen, Queen, “Keep Yourself Alive” – I forget how hard Queen rocked in those early days.
  34. Grand Funk Railroad, We’re An American Band, “We’re An American Band” – A little patriotic rock n roll!
  35. ZZ Top, Tres Hombres, “La Grange” – From their best LP.
  36. New York Dolls, New York Dolls, “Personality Crisis” – I love the New York Dolls. This is basically early American punk rock.
  37. Steely Dan, Countdown To Ecstacy, “My Old School” – One of Steely’s best tracks from their second album. It’s based on a true story when Messrs Becker and Fagan were in college.
  38. Golden Earring, Moontan, “Radar Love” – This is one of those rock anthems that grabbed me in ’73 even before I’d started listening to music. I think this band had only 2 hits and this one is my favorite.
  39. Stevie Wonder, Innervisions, “Higher Ground” – Later covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers which the Rock Chick likes better. Don’t tell her but I’m partial to the original.
  40. Lynyrd Skynyrd, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd), “Gimme Three Steps” – Great song about talking to the wrong woman in a bar.
  41. The Rolling Stones, Goats Head Soup, “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” – I could have gone with “Angie” but we’ve all heard that one 100 times.
  42. The Allman Brothers Band, Brothers And Sisters, “Jessica” – Their finest instrumental. I love when the piano solo kicks in, played by Chuck Leavell who later played with Eric Clapton and the Stones. I could have gone with “Ramblin’ Man” but this is a personal favorite.
  43. Marvin Gaye, Let’s Get It On, “Let’s Get It On” – Marvin has left behind the worldy concerns of 1971’s What’s Going On for more…temporal concerns.
  44. Van Morrison, Hard Nose The Highway, “Warm Love” – A great song from an uneven album.
  45. Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle, “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” – An epic that became a concert staple for years. This is my absolute favorite Springsteen album.
  46. Thin Lizzy, Vagabonds Of The Western World, “Whiskey In A Jar” – Thin Lizzy never got their due. This track was later covered by Metallica.
  47. Linda Ronstadt, Don’t Cry Now, “Desperado” – It was Ronstadt’s cover of “Desperado” that helped make the song a hit for the Eagles.
  48. Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, “Bennie And The Jets” – From his second legendary LP of the year. I could have picked almost any track on the album but I’m partial to this one for sentimental reasons.
  49. Fleetwood Mac, Mystery To Me, “Hypnotized” – This one is a great track from Bob Welch.
  50. Grateful Dead, Wake Of The Flood, “Eyes Of The World” – I had to have some Dead on here. It’s 1973.
  51. Bob Marley & The Wailers, Burnin’, “Get Up, Stand Up” – I may like Burnin’ even better than Catch A Fire.
  52. Montrose, Montrose, “Bad Motor Scooter” – The world’s introduction to Sammy Hagar. A young lad is afraid of his girlfriend’s dad but still wants her to come out for a motorcycle ride.
  53. Steve Miller Band, The Joker, “The Joker” – A song that takes me back to college… but those records are sealed.
  54. Peter Frampton, Frampton’s Camel, “Do You Feel Like We Do” – Frampton never seemed to find the magic in the studio but the more I go back and listen to original versions of tunes that we all heard live for the first time on Frampton Comes Alive the more I like them.
  55. Rick Derringer, All American Boy, “Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo” – A song he originally did when he was in the Johnny Winter band.
  56. Jackson Browne, For Everyman, “These Days” – Jackson’s 2nd album was mostly comprised of songs he’d written for other people prior to getting his own record contract. “These Days” had been covered by Nico and Gregg Allman and is truly one of his greatest songs.
  57. Gregg Allman, Laid Back, “Midnight Rider” – A complete re-imagining of the original. I probably like the band version better but I love this version as well.
  58. Ringo Starr, Ringo, “Photograph” – It’s nice to think that Ringo used to have hits.
  59. J. Geils Band, Ladies Invited, “The Lady Makes Demands” – Another great song from J Geils Band. They were just too loose and groovy in the early days to hit it bit. Too bad, it’s all great music.
  60. Paul McCartney & Wings, Live And Let Die Soundtrack, “Live And Let Die” – The name is Bond, James Bond.
  61. Billy Joel, Piano Man, “Piano Man” – From his second album which is considered his debut by many. Autobiographical.
  62. John Lennon, Mind Games, “Mind Games” – Lennon’s solo work is often called “uneven,” but I love this song.
  63. Alice Cooper, Muscle Of Love, “Teenage Lament ’74” – A ballad from their second LP of the year.
  64. Electric Light Orchestra, On The Third Day, “Showdown” – I like to give my friend Doug shit about being an ELO fan but I love this song. A lover telling his lady, “there’s gonna be a showdown” baby. Sadly been there.
  65. Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” – Such a great, heavy tune. Their first five LPs are perfect.
  66. Wings (Paul McCartney), Band On The Run, “Jet” – Again, I could have picked any song on this album. I just like this one.
  67. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, “If You Wanna Get To Heaven” – I live too close to the Ozarks not to have included this one. I took this as gospel… so I raised a little Hell. Well, maybe a lot of Hell.
  68. Sweet, Released as a single, “Ballroom Blitz” – A great great single. Iconic.
  69. T. Rex, Released as a single, “20th Century Boy” – I’ve only recently gotten on the T Rex bandwagon but I think this is one of their best songs outside of “Bang A Gong.”
  70. The Who, Quadrophenia, “Love Reign O’er Me” – The perfect end for this playlist and the album it came from. I remember feeling this way once upon a time…

There it is folks, 1973 in song. Again, if I missed one of your favorites – and believe me I had to remove a bunch of songs and this is still my longest playlist ever – just mention your tune in the comments and I’ll add it to the playlist.

Again, Happy New Year and I hope that 2023 is a serene and happy year for everybody.

Review: Paul McCartney, ‘7″ Singles Box’ – **Streaming Only** – A Monolithic Life’s Work As Told In 80 Singles

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Legend, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney turned 80 this year in June and to celebrate he put together the mother of all box sets. This new box in it’s physical form was way over the top. It’s entitled The 7″ Singles. He went back and put together a box – actually if I’m being honest it was a wooden crate, I’m not sure I could lift the thing – with eighty (80) old school, vinyl, 7″ singles. In the days before CDs and MP3 artists released vinyl 7″ singles that were also known as 45s… Open this crate and you find the actual, physical copies of 80 of McCartney’s singles with the original artwork from back in the day on the single sleeve. The crate doesn’t have every single he ever put out but the 80 singles – to match his age – certainly cover his entire career from his first solo record McCartney to his latest McCartney III. To add to it’s rather massive packaging, it came with a massive price tag, over $600. There were only 3000 of these produced, I think? These will obviously be instant collectors items. But alas, too rich for me.

My dad had a rack of singles that my brother sort of took over when we were kids. We had a little record player, I hesitate to call it a turntable and we’d listen to my dad’s old Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Elvis records. Well he’d listen, I didn’t pay as close attention as he did. When an artist was going to put out an album – or an LP in industry vernacular –  it was proceeded, like today, by the release of a single to get the buying public lathered up for the album. An album was vinyl, 12″ and spun at 33 rpms (revolutions per minute). In those days a single was also vinyl, but only 7″ and spun at 45 rpms. Singles ruled the world before the Beatles made albums artistically relevant instead of just mere collections of singles. The irony is not lost on me that one of the guys who made albums more relevant than singles has come back with a crate full of… singles. It’s the circle of life folks… All these years removed from sharing a room with my brother and I have such a complicated turntable I’m not sure I could even play a vinyl single any more. I would have to get under the hood and change some belts underneath to change the speed. Uh, no thank you… I’m not that technically proficient.

When I saw the price tag of this thing I was an immediate “No.” Even I have limits. But then I realized McCartney had also released it for purchase in MP3 format. That made me check the streaming service I use and yes, it was also released to all major streaming services. These “non-physical” formats contain 159 songs released over 80 singles during McCartney’s solo career. It’s close to 10 hours of music. Naturally, I knew I had to spend the next three or four days listening to it straight through. Someone had to do it, it might as well be your intrepid blogger. Who else is musically obsessed enough to endeavor to do this? I felt compelled to separate this collection from the gimmickry of the packaging and see if it had any merit as a listening experience. I’m just glad I didn’t have to get up and walk to the turn table 159 times to turn the records over and I’m a vinyl guy. In truth I don’t care how anybody gets their music as long as they listen!

As I listened to this thing, I couldn’t help but feel that this might be the biggest monolithic greatest hits album ever. I mean it has 80 of his singles. By definition, when an artist like McCartney releases a single it’s probably going to hit the charts, ergo it’s a hit, be it minor or major. But then he also included 79 B-sides. Those B-sides could be anything from unreleased gems to deep LP cuts that are throwaways, or deep LP cuts that are actually great songs, or remixed or mono versions of a song, or maybe a live track. B-sides can indeed be a mixed bag. Regardless of whether you consider this the largest greatest hits album ever released or not, it certainly tells us the story of McCartney’s solo career, post-Beatles in a pretty comprehensive way. And, when you think about McCartney’s solo career – he’s a legend but there were definitely low periods in his career – this is perhaps the most courageous box set ever released. This box really tells his story, warts and all, triumphs and misses.

I didn’t start listening to music until the late 70s when I was in junior high. We are a product of our past and at that point McCartney was the king of the ex-Beatles, charts-wise. Lennon had retreated into being a house-husband by 1975. Harrison had lost his way creatively and well, I never paid attention to Ringo’s solo music. I love Ringo but… McCartney was my favorite Beatle when I started listening to music because he was who we heard on the radio most often. He had more hits in that mid to late 70s era. Even before I had really listened to music McCartney’s music was ever present. I’d hear “Another Day” in my mom’s car while we were going to the market or “Band On The Run” over the loudspeakers at the neighborhood swimming pool. As I listened to the singles, arranged here in chronological order, I began to realize that McCartney’s music has been that way – ever present – my entire life. Whether he was producing chart topping, iconic LPs or critically panned schmaltz I have always been at least aware of what he was doing. If his latest LP was a dud (especially in the late 80s) there was always a good song or two on the album. McCartney was always such a master when it came to melody even at his worst I’d find myself humming his songs… “Press” comes to mind from when I was in college…

The start of this thing really is like listening to a greatest hits package. All of those iconic early hits from his early LPs – which were panned by the critics at the time – just roll out of the speakers. “Another Day,” one of my favorite B-sides “Oh Woman Oh Why,” “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” and “Hi, Hi, Hi.” I even liked the B-side, live track “The Mess” that I’d never heard before. There are just so many great songs here. I loved hearing “Mull of Kintyre” a song that was the greatest selling single in the UK until 1984 (and they may play at my funeral). I didn’t realize that McCartney hadn’t released any singles from his solo debut McCartney. It wasn’t until I heard the live version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” from Wings Over America that I realized that was the version that was the hit on radio. I couldn’t help but smile to think that bands used to actually release singles from live LPs!

Hearing “With A Little Luck” brought back memories of being in the backseat of dad’s Oldsmobile listening to Casey Kasem when that track was a huge hit. My brother had the album Back To The Egg which was supposed to be McCartney’s response to punk rock, and I used to go in his room to listen to that album just to hear the rocker “Old Siam Sir,” included here as well. My brother also had McCartney II and no one will ever be able to convince me that “Temporary Secretary” is a good song. I can’t believe it was a single.

The 80s are when the wheels came off a bit for McCartney. I have always felt that McCartney was more traumatized by the assassination of John Lennon than anybody ever realized. They were such dear friends at one time. He did respond with one of my favorite albums of his, Tug Of War. That was, for me, the highlight of McCartney’s 80s. I heard it playing in the record store when I’d gone to browse for music and I walked out with it. My girlfriend at the time was like, “You like “Ebony and Ivory”?” Well, no but listen to “Here Today.” While the 80s mostly sucked you’ll never find a better song than “No More Lonely Nights,” complete with David Gilmour on lead guitar. “Spies Like Us” from the movie of the same name is here too.

McCartney finished the 80s with his strongest LP since Tug Of War with Flowers In The Dirt where he collaborated with Elvis Costello. I love tracks from that era here – “My Brave Face,” and “Put It There” in particular. We all thought that was McCartney’s comeback but he continued to stumble until he immersed himself in the Beatles Anthology project in the 90s. He emerged from that project with (to me at least) his real comeback album Flaming Pie. Those singles are looser and rock more than anything he’d done since the 70s. Shortly after that we lost Linda McCartney and Paul recorded one of our favorite albums of cover songs and I was pleased “No Other Baby” was included here.

Since Flaming Pie McCartney has been on such a creative roll. There are so many great songs many of you may not have stuck around to hear after his creative dip in the 80s and early 90s. “Jenny Wren” with the great B-side “Summer of ’59,” “Fine Line,” “From A Lover To A Friend,” and all the tracks from Dance Tonight, especially the title track. They even included his hit from the side project The Firemen, “See The Changes.” For what it’s worth they also included tracks from his opera album(s) and his old pop standard album. There are a few non-album singles here as well. Artists used to not wait until the album was finished and would just put out a single and not include it on the next album, just a little something to keep them in the minds eye.

Over the course of listening to this monolithic collection of songs it dawned on me how breathtakingly wide the range of things McCartney can do is. Whether it’s a rocker, a classical pop song with strings, a ballad, folk, country, a few reggae moments, Christmas classics, opera, electronic pop – there’s not any genre of music that McCartney didn’t try. The man is truly fearless with a boundless imagination with a bold need to experiment and try new things. He is truly one of the most important artists of the rock era – in and out of the Beatles. While the set dips a bit in the middle, like his career, the singles are still very strong. While I can’t suggest anybody plunk down even the $80 for the MP3 version of this – it’s certainly a collection everyone should hear… maybe not all at once like I did – and explore. There may be a stray single you missed or a great B-side you’ve never heard. Like McCartney’s career in total, this set has so many gems and pleasures that I think everybody will find something to enjoy.

I want to wish everybody who celebrates it (or endures it like me) a very Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays. Having people read these crazy ramblings is the greatest gift I get every year so thank you all very much!

Cheers!

 

Review: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, ‘Live At the Fillmore, 1997’ – A Truly Joyous Rock N Roll Live Album!

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I wish I could tell you how happy I am about finally having Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Live at the Fillmore, 1997 to listen to. In the interest of full disclosure I can’t tell you that I’m holding this live box set in my hands yet… The sketchy character known as “Santa” is supposed to bring it to me. I have a strong feeling that it’s wrapped and under my tree already. In that sense I do own it right now but I just can’t get to it for another few weeks… 12 days and counting. I will say, if you haven’t asked Santa for this music you best get on the horn to the North Pole asap and get it on your rock n roll list. In the absence of holding the physical album in my hands I’ve been streaming this amazing live document of a band at one of their true zeniths almost constantly. Other than Neil Young’s latest LP World Record, it’s literally all I’m listening to right now.

Part of the excitement I feel over this package is I can remember Petty, when he was still alive, talking about it. The two projects I’d hear him mention in interviews before we alas, lost him, were a live album culled from their 1997 20-concert residency at San Francisco’s venerable Fillmore theater and the expanded version of Wildflowers that more accurately portrayed his original vision of that record as a double-LP. I have to say that Adria Petty (Tom’s daughter) and whoever else she’s working with has done a nice job on the posthumous releases they’ve done to celebrate the life of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I’ll be the first to admit there was some skull-fuckery on her part around Wildflowers And All The Rest. I bought the deluxe 4-CD edition and it didn’t have the B-side everybody wanted, “Girl On LSD.” Well, there was a live version. That song, amongst a few others were held out for inclusion on a bonus “fifth disc” that a bunch of people spent a lot more money than I did purchasing. Then, chastised, they released that fifth disc separately as Finding Wildflowers. The folks that bought the 5-disc All The Rest were pissed and well, so was I just because Petty was never greedy like that. He once fought the record company to keep his albums priced at $8.98 vs the $9.98 the record company wanted to charge. That part aside, the Wildflowers And All The Rest was ultimately a very satisfying box set.

The other box set Adria (with help from some Heartbreakers, notably guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench) put out to honor Tom – and to release a treasure trove of released and unreleased stuff – was 2018’s American Treasure. Man, do I love that box set. It was truly a different path through Petty’s amazing career than provided by his officially released albums. If you haven’t checked that out yet again, you might wanna call the North Pole. American Treasure finally saw the release of what I consider the definitive version of “Breakdown” recorded live at the Capitol Studios.

Now we finally have the live LP that Petty never got around to releasing, Live At the Fillmore, 1997. While he talked about it occasionally, I’m not sure Petty was a big live LP enthusiast the way we are here at B&V. I remember him describing live albums as being greatest hits played way too fast. As longtime readers know, I love live albums. I actually bought and still own Petty & the Heartbreakers first live album, the double vinyl Pack Up The Plantation. It was from the tour to support Southern Accents and coincidentally was the first tour I actually saw Petty live. I don’t know what took me so long. The whole Plantation theme and the big Confederate Flag as a stage backdrop were probably ill-conceived and Petty said later in his career he had some regrets about that. I really liked that live album but it was overshadowed for most folks as Springsteen released his mammoth live LP Live ’75 to ’85 at around the same time. And while I liked Plantation even I’ll admit I don’t think it’s representative of the true live spirit of the Heartbreakers. They had a horn section and back up singers on that tour and thus on the album. Petty eventually put out an epic live album of his own ala Springsteen with the 5-CD Live Anthology. It remains a favorite here at B&V.

As much as I loved Live Anthology, now that I’ve heard Live At the Fillmore, 1997 I might have to go back and change my post on our favorite live LPs, BourbonAndVinyl Comes Alive: The Epic List Of Essential Live Albums to include this one. When the Heartbreakers decided to hole up for a 20 night residency at the Fillmore in San Francisco in early 1997 things were changing a bit for the band. Longtime drummer Stan Lynch had split – last performing on the two bonus tracks on the Greatest Hits album – to be replaced with Steve Ferrone. They’d added multi instrumentalist Scott Thurston somewhere along the line to round out their sound. Luckily bassist Howie Epstein (who also provides delightful harmony vocals) was still with us and plays/sings on this live album. Of course guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench are here in all their glory. The band had just put out their soundtrack Songs and Music From “She’s The One” in August of 1996 and were three years away from recording Echo. These performances were to be the Hearbreakers only live shows in 1997 but man, what shows it sounds like they were.

Instead of the usual set list of songs a band plays on a big tour the Heartbreakers mixed it up quite a bit on this residency. I saw the Stones in ’81 in Houston and and then Kansas City and they played the exact same songs, in the same order and looked utterly bored doing so. I mean, that has to get old right? This is like listening to the best house band ever in a small bar. If I lived out in California I’d have tried to go to as many of these shows as I could have. Instead of playing the usual big hits and time worn crowd favorites Petty and the Heartbreakers turn to playing the music that inspired and influenced them in the first place. You can tell what an absolute kick they get out of that. It’s like a resurgence of energy. The sheer joy pouring out of the speakers on these performances makes this essential Petty listening. It’s like capturing a moment in time forever in amber. Who among us wouldn’t want that? Some people might be put off at the lack of hits here but give me the Heartbreakers honoring Chuck Berry by way of the Stones by blasting through “Around And Around” all day long.

Early on, after blasting through “Jammin’ Me” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream” they crank up Little Richard’s “Lucille” and I am here for it! They follow that up with J.J. Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze” and that point on the album they’d played more covers than originals. The band sounds loose and happy but they are tight as Hell here. “I Won’t Back Down” gets an airing but it’s very stripped down. Petty plays “a song (he) learned at camp” which turns out to be “You Are My Sunshine” which leads into a soulful Bill Withers’ cover “Ain’t No Sunshine.” I feel like I’m standing in a bar, beer in hand, jaw agape thinking “I’m glad I came out tonight.” The band takes us in so many wonderful directions here.  They even dip into the early, early Mudcrutch catalog for “On The Street.” They dig pretty deep on the choice of covers with “Hip Hugger,” an instrumental by Booker T. and the MGs. Anything goes! A fan actually calls out a request for “Hearbreakers’ Beach Party” – a Playback obscurity – and the band obliges him and plays the song which Petty admits the band had heretofore never played live.

“Even The Losers” and “American Girl” appear but merely as acoustic renditions which was fine with me! They do the James Bond theme “Goldfinger” which no one wants to acknowledge was a song done by Mike Campbell’s side project (the Blue Stingrays). Eventually they welcome original Byrd Roger McGuinn onto the stage for a mini-Byrds set of tunes. The Heartbreakers were always compared to the Byrds so why not invite Roger to the party. Eventually John Lee Hooker comes out for some smokin’ blues. It’s fantastic and I’m so thrilled they included the guest stars on the record.

You name an influence on the Heartbreakers and there’s probably a song here by them: the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Byrds, Blues music, the Grateful Dead, Them (Van Morrison), the Everly Brothers…the list goes on. This is like Tom and the guys are still just a small band playing the biggest ballroom in Gainesville like back in the early days. There is just so much joy and great music on this live album. There’s so much that is great on this thing I can’t even begin to list it all. I can’t recommend this thing highly enough. It’s been a real treat to let myself get absorbed in these performances. It’s clear to me that Petty and the Heartbreaker’s were at an absolute peak at this stage of the game. Everyone should hear this album. It should be taught to all new bands… learn this great set of rock songs and you’ll always have a job.

Petty says at one point on the album he considered the shows they were doing at the Fillmore as one of the true highlights of his career and goes on to say “It’s going to be hard to get us off the stage…” Thank Heaven it was!

Cheers!

Review: Neil Young & Crazy Horse Return With Ecology Focused ‘New World Record’ – Third Winner In a Row!

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Despite the fact that Neil Young, who is 77, has been quite prolific over the course of his late career, even I was surprised that he was back with a new album this quickly. When I speak of Young being prolific I’m not even talking about his Archival output from his vaults – the unreleased LPs like Toast or Homegrown or his wonderful Archive box sets – I’m talking about new material. This new album, World Record, is his third album in four years. And, more importantly it’s the first time in his career that he has put out three albums in a row with his once-and-future backing band Crazy Horse. There was a time in the 70s when he was cobbling albums together from previous recording sessions and many of his albums would have a few cuts from Crazy Horse, but he’s never done three proper studio albums in a row with Crazy Horse. Personally, I like the guitar chemistry Neil has with Crazy Horse and I considered the news that he had reconvened “the Horse” for a third go-round as good news to my ears. Clearly there will be no “soul covers” album from Neil Young like Mr. Springsteen has chosen to do… sigh. But then Neil has Everybody’s Rockin’ to atone for…

Crazy Horse has gone through quite a few changes over the years. Neil recruited drummer Ralph Molina, bassist Billy Talbot and guitarist Danny Whitten from a band named the Rockets back in ’69 for his second solo LP after leaving Buffalo Springfield, Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere. But then Neil joined CSNY for Deja Vu which helped solidify his status as a star. After all of that his relationship with Crazy Horse was sort of off again, on again. He’d recruit certain members of the band to play on certain albums. But then, in 1973 during the rehearsals for the tour in support of Harvest, guitarist Danny Whitten died of an overdose. He wouldn’t record a full album with Crazy Horse again until 1975’s Zuma. Although I’ve always considered Tonight’s The Night to be a Crazy Horse album…. Of course after Whitten passed Neil would play with Crazy Horse with guitar virtuoso Nils Lofgren taking Whitten’s place. By 1975 Lofgren was off on his solo career and Young hired Frank Sampedro to be the second guitarist in the band for Zuma. Sampedro was the perfect guitar foil for Young. Young recorded many of his great guitar epics with Sampedro egging him on, such as “Like A Hurricane,” “Cortez The Killer,” and take your pick from anything off of 2012’s Psychedelic Pill (Sampedro’s last album with Crazy Horse before he retired).

As I mentioned, this is Young’s third album of new stuff with Crazy Horse in a row. The first album he re-recruited Crazy Horse for was Colorado in 2019. This was when Nils stepped back into the band to take Sampedro’s place. I really liked Colorado. But I think we all realized that Crazy Horse was a changed entity by that time. Gone were the guitar epics that Sampedro helped fuel. There was a 13 minute epic on that album, “She Showed Me Love,” but it wasn’t as fierce as say, “Cortez The Killer” or “Ramada Inn.” Still, it was a great tune. They turned around and in 2021 they released Barn which I felt was an even better late period Young album. Frankly, I’ll admit that if you include World Record this may be Young’s best 3-album run since the 90s. Young’s main concern over the course of these three albums is the environment, climate change and the slow reaction mankind seems to be having to it. The man knows his way around a protest song.

As I said, when I heard Young had another album coming this soon, I was surprised. I’m told he had it written by July of this year, a mere seven months after Barn came out. According to Wikipedia, World Record‘s “lyrical content concerns Young “reminisc[ing] with gratitude about the gifts the Earth has given him” as well as the “state of Earth” and “its uncertain future,” as well as “Chevrolet,” a song about “Young’s relationship with cars.”” My only concern in hearing all of that was that this might be another record that Young spun up from the headlines and hadn’t taken time to write full songs for like say, Living With War. For the first time since he reconvened Crazy Horse I had some trepidation about this album. But then I heard Rick Rubin was going to co-produce the LP in his studio Shangri-La out in Malibu. I was hoping Rick would be able to curb Young’s recording ideology of “the first take is the best take,” and I started to look forward to this album more. Then I realized that Rubin is more of a “vibe guy” as a producer. Most likely he just sat cross-legged in the corner like a long haired, bearded Buddha and grooved to the musicians playing. The most he probably did from a technical stand point is hit the “record” button. Young does miss David Briggs, his longtime late producer.

I heard the first song, “Love Earth” and I chose not to write about it… I wasn’t sure about it. It was a laid back piano shuffle that brought to mind both Petty’s “The Man Who Loved Women” (recorded on ukulele no less) or Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.” Those aren’t meant to be criticisms but the tune made me think of old-timey songs. It certainly doesn’t sound like “protest” music but music that celebrates the environment and asks you to do something about it. The song does have a nice harmonica solo. Now that I’ve spent last week after Thanksgiving listening to the album, “Love Earth” has bored it’s way into my brain. It is a damn catchy tune. I had heard that this wasn’t going to be a guitar driven album. I knew that they would be using a bunch of different instruments like tack piano, pump organ, harmonica, accordion, and such. I feared that this album might sound like a one man band falling down a flight of stairs. I was, thankfully, wrong. Although admittedly the instrumentation wasn’t what you’d usually think you’d get on a Neil Young and Crazy Horse album. But as I said, Crazy Horse is a different animal these days.

As mentioned, the album kicks off with the first single, “Love Earth.” I simply love that song but I’ll admit it’s a grower. That leads into a jaunty piano driven tune “Overhead.” It sort of reminds me of “Are You Ready For the Country?” I’d almost call this a country stomper of a tune. It’s an uptempo thing and might have really smoked had it been on guitar vs piano/harmonica as lead. That’s not a complaint, I’m just trying to frame the vibe of the tune. “Overhead” almost feels like a statement of purpose for the record especially on the falsetto bridge. “This Old Planet (Changing Days)” is another piano and possibly accordion driven tune. It’s a lament about climate change where Neil reminisces about beautiful days with clear blues skies and sparkling water. He’s not wrong… especially when he sings “You’re not alone on this old planet.” “The Long Day Before” is another organ/accordion driven track. It’s a pretty Neil Young ballad with a great harmonica solo. It’s one of my favorites. “Walking On The Road (To the Future)” is a great plea for people to take the best from the past but move forward into the future. It’s another track I really liked. In the chorus he follows up with his other theme beyond climate change, “No more war, only love.” Nothing wrong with those sentiments for this wannabe hippy blogger.

“The World’s In Trouble Now” is a more urgent tune. Its rocking sans guitar which is a weird thing to type. I guess there’s some guitar on the track. It could have been a real barrel house rocker but I dig the way they did it here. Neil isn’t beating you over the head he’s finessing you. I dug the lyric, “Because the earth has held me so, I will never let go.” “The Wonder Won’t Wait” is another similar track to “The World’s In Trouble Now.” It’s another track that sounds old-timey via the instrumentation but makes me wonder what it’d have sounded like with some electric guitar leading the charge. “Take some time to live before you die” is a great line and frankly, good advice. It’s another plea to act on climate change but with the laid back instrumentation it doesn’t feel like a crazy corner preacher yelling at you that the end is nigh.

For you Neil electric guitar fans out there – have no fear, we get some of that too. “I Walk With You” has an ominous guitar riff that opens it up. For a split second I was transported back to Psychedelic Pill but it’s not that incendiary. It’s more laid back than that. But man what a big riff drenched in squall. The bridge hammers it home, “The end of war, the price of life, the cost of care…””Break The Chain” is another feedback drenched guitar song. You can almost read emotion in Young’s guitar tone. It’s chugging rocker that was also one of my favorites.

The biggest, bad-ass track here is the 15-minute “Chevrolet,” an ode to cars. Which, when you think about the environmental themes on this record, it shouldn’t work at all here but it does. In the tune Young sees an old Chevrolet and wants to buy it, the car is “speaking to” him. But he asks himself, “How will it comfort me, burning all that fuel again?” It’s almost like a break up song… where he breaks up with driving down the highway in a gas guzzler. I really love this track. It’s worth the price of admission. The guitar interplay between Young and Nils is reminiscent of well, Young and Poncho Sampedro. If you do one thing after reading this review it’s crank up “Chevrolet.”

This is simply put, an outstanding Neil Young album. It’s shambolic. It might have benefited by more liberal use of guitars instead of the odd instrumentation but like the tune “Chevrolet” – it shouldn’t work but it does. For a man this deep in his career to still be putting out fantastic music with an urgent, important message it’s quite something to hear. I mean, you don’t hear Harry Styles pleading with people about climate change. And yeah, he’ll sell more albums than Neil but that doesn’t mean the music is better than Young’s.

Put this one on and use your headphones to wring out some of the nuance of the tracks. Pour a little something strong… maybe light something up if that’s your thing and groove on the power of Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Be good to each other out there. And maybe recycle… it can’t hurt.

Cheers!