Bob Dylan: The Dark, Mesmerizing 17- Minute New Single, “Murder Most Foul”

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“It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63…” – Bob Dylan, “Murder Most Foul”

I always look forward to Fridays for all the usual reasons, mostly bourbon. But beyond the end of the workweek and the free time the weekend brings, I look forward to Friday because that’s when all the new music gets released. In the old days albums came out on Tuesdays in an attempt to game the charts. Charts came out on Mondays so labels wanted the max amount of time for an album to rack up sales before that next chart ranking came out. Last night I went to bed like I do on every other Thursday night, looking forward to whatever new music was going to be released today. Actually last night, I was specifically thinking about Pearl Jam and their new album Gigaton. Leave it to Bob Dylan to completely derail my listening…

Much to my surprise, Bob Dylan has released a new single today, “Murder Most Foul.” I had heard rumors that Dylan might be putting out a new album this year and if this song is a hint, I hope that’s true. On his website and several social media platforms Dylan released the following message: “Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you. Bob Dylan”

Might find interesting? Hell, yes!

I’ve been a Dylan fan since I began listening to rock and roll. My rock and roll awakening took place in the late 70s, so I was a little late to the game, but the first Dylan album I bought was the first of his Christian trilogy Slow Train Coming, and I’m not religious. From there I went to his iconic, first Greatest Hits with the photo of him shot closeup from the side, playing the harmonica. Slow Train was full of apocalyptic, wrath of God like songs (the title track, “Change My Way of Thinking”) and I’ve always considered its a good introduction to Bob’s darker visions of the world. In college I found myself purchasing all of his great, great, classic records: Blonde On Blonde, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Desire. Hell I even have Knocked Out Loaded on vinyl…I’ve stayed with Dylan up through his last studio album of original material, 2012’s Tempest. Since then, he’s been doing albums of Sinatra tunes as done by a border town bar band. I am thrilled to see a new Dylan original.

After I got over my first shock at seeing the Dylan release, I was equally surprised when I saw the song was just shy of seventeen minutes at 16:55. There are very few tracks in my collection that last that long. Well, studio tracks. Sure the Allman Brothers clocked in at over thirty minutes on “Mountain Jam.” Neil Young has “Driftin’ Back” at over twenty-seven minutes or “Ordinary People” over eighteen minutes. Those longer songs tend to be jam-oriented tracks. This is not that. Although Dylan is no stranger to longer epics. Time Out of Mind had a track “Highlands” that lasted over 16 minutes. And that last album of originals, Tempest had the title track that clocked in at almost fourteen minutes.  All I know is the Rock Chick is not going to like this one…

The track itself is mesmerizing. I can’t stop listening to this and have been doing so since I got up. The music is hushed. It’s a piano being quietly played over (very) muted percussion. Doug Herron’s violin plays along as a beautiful accent. There’s no jam or big guitar solo that tears up 10 minutes like CCR playing “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” The focus is all on Dylan’s voice – which sounds much less gravelly here than he’s sounded on his latter day albums. He’s singing in a less fierce, more melancholy way so maybe that’s why it isn’t so scratchy. He’s not whispering but it’s like a secret being murmured. The music is almost ethereal. It reminds me, like it will many, of something from Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, or “Listen To the Lion.” There’s an almost spiritual or holy vibe.

The focus on Dylan’s vocals are key because the lyrics of this song are mind blowing. The theme, on the surface at least, is the assassination of JFK in November of ’63. Leave it to Bob Dylan to write a song about one of the darkest chapters of America’s history during the current dark period of America’s history. This will fill up at least a few days of quarantine for me, analyzing these lyrics. They’re like an onion… so many layers. Its poetry set to music… it feels like I’m hearing ‘The Iliad’ recited in the original Greek by a campfire on Crete while my flock lays down for the night. The title, “Murder Most Foul” is from Shakespeare, no stranger to telling epic historical tragedies. One thread is a surreal, fever-dream imagining of JFK’s thoughts/conversation after he’s shot. There are mentions of the “grassy knoll,” the “three tramps” and to Governor Connally’s wife saying “Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President” right before he was shot. I got goose bumps, man.

But the lyrics seem to point to a bigger story than just JFK’s assassination. When he sings “The day they killed him someone said to me, “The Age of the Antichrist has just only begun,” we get the feeling there’s more to this song. The song plays more like a travelogue through the last fifty years of culture… It’s more a commentary of how things were never quite right in America after JFK was killed… “For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that, Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me, I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free” Heavy!!

As Dylan sings, in what seems to be a stream-of-consciousness way, he makes so many cultural references. From movies “Nightmare on Elm St” (believe it or not!) to “Play Misty For Me.” Every line has a reference to some other cultural touchpoint. “Gower Street” seems to point to Warren Zevon. He mentions many songs by their titles or artists’ by name including Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Billy Joel and Lindsey and Stevie Nicks. Is this a darker, better written “We Didn’t Start the Fire?” Not hardly. I’m guessing there are already playlists on Spotify generated simply from the list of tracks in this song. You could almost suggest that Dylan is painting a picture here that JFK wasn’t the only one who died on that grim November day in Dallas.

This one is a stone-cold classic. I know a lot of people use Dylan’s vocal decline as an excuse to dismiss his music, but this is a reason to continue to listen to the man. It’s wonderful when rock and roll transcends the format and becomes art. Dylan’s music has always had the power to move me. This song is no exception.

Cheers!

B&V’s True Confessions: The Dirty Dozen – 12 Albums That Only I Love… Time to Re-Evaluate?

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“This is no social crisis, this is you having fun…” The Who, “Another Tricky Day”

We’ve all made mistakes in our lives and we’ve all had to learn to live with those bad decisions… Here it is, only day 2 of the enforced “Stay At Home” order and I suddenly feel the need to unburden myself of all my sins. Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t left my house since nine days ago and the only sins being confessed to here are musical in nature. All other sins… well, those records are sealed until 25 years after I’m gone and forgotten. While I was always someone who people confided in, I must say this confessional mood seems to be catching. I’m hearing all sorts of sordid things. I just had a friend admit to me that he saw the Little River Band in concert. Everybody loves the Little River Band but no one will ever admit to it. Ironically, I happen to have an almost sentimental attachment to their song “Reminiscing.” There, now I’m on record as an LRB fan…more confessions. The Rock Chick admitted to me this morning, for the first time in our marriage, that she saw Molly Hatchet in concert but doesn’t remember much of it… We’ve all been there (The 10 Concerts I Should Have Skipped). I’m still trying to wrap my head around her being at a Molly Hatchet concert but that’s my issue to contend with.

We’ve all made those musical mistakes. You’re standing in the record store and you have Pat Benetar’s Precious Time in your left hand and Beggars Banquet in your right hand and you end up leaving the store with the Benetar “saving” the Stones’ classic for another day. That is sadly based on a true story. Sigh. Not that there’s anything wrong with Pat Benetar but I didn’t buy Beggars Banquet until I was in college, years later (and I’m the Stones freak?).  We all have albums that we’re perhaps embarrassed about now. Maybe the album is “of its time” so to speak. I actually had a Bryan Adams record (Reckless) for a long time that I bought in the 80s. Or perhaps a relationship or friendship led you to a bad choice. I had a TLC’s CrazySexyCool for a while based on the recommendation of an adamant squeeze I had back in the day. Not every woman I dated had the Rock Chick’s impeccable taste in music.

For the most part, as a “serious” collector I’ve culled through my collection and weeded out the outliers. I try to keep everything, vinyl or CD, that I’ve ever owned but being married has forced me to thin the herd. Every time we move I find myself selling at the Used Record store vs buying… although I’m usually a sucker for that “store credit” gambit. I sell off a certain number of albums and come home with a few new ones… it’s just the circle of life. Being cooped up at home these last few nights has sent me looking through my vinyl collection yet again. I discovered a few albums that, I must confess, I just love but have less than stellar reputations. Either the critics were “meh,” or fans didn’t buy the albums but I did. Since I only write about stuff I like – God knows there’s enough negative bullshit in the world – I am often accused of being a tad “over positive” about certain artists and albums. I have to tell you, I’ve really enjoyed listening to these albums over the last few nights. These just might be albums that need a reappraisal. I asked the Rock Chick if she had any albums she loved and no one else did and she said, “I love Oasis and let’s face it nobody but me and (her friend) Rich likes them.” Rich is the one who always asks me at parties I throw to “put on some Oasis.” Although oddly, on those occasions I’ve been at his house, he never seems to play Oasis.

While only one of these albums is truly embarrassing, the rest are solid if not spectacular as some of the entries in the respective artists’ catalogs. Not every album can be Every Picture Tells A Story or Who’s Next. If you’re a career type of artist – one worthy of following an entire catalog – there will be ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys. Since nobody is really going anywhere for a while, put one of these on and dig a little deeper into the catalogs of these great artists. We all have guilty pleasures… these are mine.

  1. The Who, Face Dances -I will always be fond of this, my first Who album. “You Better You Bet” was huge on radio and I bought this record on the spot. With Kenny Jones (formerly of the Faces) on drums and Townsend’s guitar seemingly missing this doesn’t really sound like anything that came before it but I still love this album. “Another Tricky Day” is the perfect antidote for today. “Daily Records” is the nicest statement of purpose in all of rock and roll. “How Can You Do It Alone” about masturbating is funny. The Entwistle songs, “You” and “The Quiet One” both rock with that Who grit. There’s a lot to like here.
  2. Fleetwood Mac, Mirage – Sure, this was a pretty good seller, but after the epic success of Rumours and wild experimentation of Tusk this album seems like a retreat. I am drawn to the melodies and harmonies on this record. Stevie Nicks’ tracks are the gold, from the hit “Gypsy” to the country-rock of “That’s Alright” to the shimmery, sexy track “Straight Back” she could do no wrong. While none of the Buckingham tracks were “hits” I really like a lot of what he’s doing here on tracks like “Empire State,” and “Oh, Diane.” It’s a quiet little pleasure.
  3. The Rolling Stones, Black And Blue – This is basically a recording of the auditions being held for Mick Taylor’s replacement. While many guitarists tried out for the Stones – Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck amongst others – they finally settled on Ronnie Wood. This album is criticized for being a bunch of jams and reggae stuff but that’s what I like about it. The two ballads, the only tracks that required them to actually write a song, are two of my favorite Stones’ deep tracks – “Fool To Cry” and especially “Memory Motel.” In college a friend asked me if this album was any good and I said, no. I would amend that answer to yes, if your expectations for another Exile On Main Street are properly leveled. This is a fun record and “Hand of Fate” is an awesome rock song I’d love to hear live.
  4. Rush, Caress of Steel – I don’t know why this album doesn’t get more love. It’s really the precursor of 2112. All of side 2 is one track, “The Fountain of Lamneth.” It’s a fabulous epic. My all time favorite Rush deep track ends side one, “The Necromancer.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted that song…”weakening the body and saddening the mind.” The playing is impeccable. “Bastille Day” became a mainstay of their live act. This is a great Rush album that the critics savaged.
  5. Led Zeppelin, In Through The Out Door – It had been almost three years since Zeppelin had put out Presence and in that time my rock and roll awakening had occurred. I already owned Led Zeppelin II and IV (or Runes) and was eager to hear new, contemporary Zeppelin. The record industry was pinning its hopes on this album and Tusk to bolster lackluster sales. I think a lot of people were disappointed in this record but I wasn’t. Presence was such a heavy album – really shepherded by Bonham and Page – but both of those guys were in the serious throes of addiction by the time they recorded In Through the Out Door that Plant and Jones took over. The result was a mellower, more synth/keyboard oriented album. “In The Evening” is one of my all time Zep favorites. “Fool In The Rain” showcases Bonham’s still formidable drumming. I love the bluesy last track, “I’m Gonna Crawl.” God knows where they could have gone from this… alas.
  6. Rod Stewart, Blondes Have More Fun – Ok, I’m embarrassed I still like this album. I actually sold the vinyl, thus was my shame. But then I bought it again on CD. It’s a truly guilty, guilty pleasure. It’s Rod’s disco album, the record that burned the bridges with his old fanbase. I didn’t buy it for the disco camp of “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.” I liked “Ain’t Love a Bitch,” I was always a sucker for ballads. “Dirty Weekend” and the title track are Chuck Berry/Rolling Stone riff rockers. I dig Rod. This is my big confession today.
  7. Jackson Browne, Lives In The Balance – After the failure of Lawyers In Love, Browne decided to get deadly serious about politics. Set that aside, these are great songs. “For America” remains a favorite of mine. The title track, “Soldiers of Plenty,” and “Lawless Avenues” all sound like dispatches from the nightly news set to guitar. The one intimate love song, “In The Shape of a Heart” is one of Browne’s most endearing songs. This isn’t for everyone, it kind of depends on your political feelings…
  8. Eric Clapton, Behind The Sun – People will shudder when I say Phil Collins produced this album. Well, he did the initial sessions but the record company rejected it. They brought in some songwriters and Ted Templeman to shore it up. That troubled history sounds like a disaster, but I dug this record. “Forever Man” remains a huge favorite. “Tangled In Love” is a great rock tune. “Same Old Blues” is an epic at over 8 minutes long. I even like the cover of “Knock On Wood.” Blasphemy? Perhaps.
  9. Neil Young & The Bluenotes, This Note’s For You – The 80s were terrible for Neil Young. He first showed signs of creative life on 1987’s Life with Crazy Horse. Then he did a 180 and put out a horn driven blues album. The blues has always been a great showcase for guitar and I love Neil’s playing on this album. I even bought the live album of this tour, put out 30 year later (Review: Neil Young, “Bluenote Cafe” (Live)). “One Thing” is the ultimate breakup song. “Married Man” is a funny upbeat track. Whether he’s playing a mellow, sad blues or a horn-drive rave up, this is a fun record. The blues will always win out for me.
  10. Roger Waters, Radio K.A.O.S. – My college roommate Drew and I may be the only two people in the world who bought this album. I really dug the title track. Clapton plays guitar on this album and joined the tour as well. If you ignore the bizarre narrative, you can really get into songs like, my favorite, “Who Needs Information,” or “Home.”
  11. Queen, A Kind Of Magic – My college roomies and I were big fans of the Sci-Fi thriller, ‘Highlander.’ This is basically the soundtrack to that film with the addition of “One Vision” which I think was from anther movie. Queen was on the downturn in America, but this is a bunch of great music. “Who Wants to Live Forever” is a great ballad. The production is very much “of its time” but this was the first sign Queen would come back from Hot Space. 
  12. CSNY, American Dream – Neil Young committed to CSN that he’d record another album with them, the first since the live album Four Way Street, if Crosby could get clean. After the much publicized police chase and incarceration, Crosby emerged clean. The bill came due for Neil. People’s expectations were for Deja Vu 2.0 and yes, this album disappoints from that perspective. I loved the title track and bought the album. Crosby’s “Compass” is a wonderful, confessional track. I love Stills and Young working together and have since the Buffalo Springfield. They spark up a little guitar battle in “Drivin’ Thunder.” Stills shines for me on “Glad That You Got It Made.” Graham Nash’s “Never Say Goodbye” is a tune that used to make me mist up. It’s gorgeous.

I get that many of these might not be your cup of tea. You never know… you might discover something you like in this pile of records. If there are “guilty pleasure” albums for you out there, let me know what they are in the comments as I may want to check those out. I’m open to anything during this time of social distancing!

Stay safe and healthy out there! And remember, as the Who sang, “this (really) is no social crisis…this is you having fun” listening to music.

 

B&V’s Pandemic Playlist – Rock n Roll To The Self-Isolation Rescue

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“The sun has to shine on my guitar someday” – Derek & the Dominos, “Got To Get Better In A Little While”

Has 2020 been a drag or what? Well, except for the little matter of the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl for the first time in fifty years. I can literally say I’ve been waiting for that to happen my whole life. But other than the small percentage of the population who were excited by the Chiefs victory, for everyone else it’s been a real drag of a year. Everything is cancelled. Bars and restaurants are closed. Californians have been ordered to “shelter in place,” an order usually reserved for the aftermath of earthquakes. While I’m not under any order to stay at home like in California, I can say that all work travel – a key component of my job (Thoughts From The Traveling Salesman And A B&V Playlist: Hanging On The Telephone) – has been cancelled by corporate. My email in-box is virtually empty. Needless to say, it’s quiet out there… too quiet.

Like many of you out there, I’ve gone into “self-quarantine.” I am practicing what the new nomenclature is calling “self-isolation.” I’m just thrilled I got type the word “nomenclature.” Anyway, I should be good at self-isolation, it’s how you could describe dating in my twenties… although that wasn’t entirely voluntary on my part. But like those days I have, as Styx once sang, “too much time on my hands.” Luckily I’m not all alone. I can only imagine what those of you who live alone out there in this time of social distancing are going through. I imagine there are a lot of people talking to their plants and their pets. I am here sequestered with the Rock Chick, which helps a lot. Well, it helps me a lot. I couldn’t help but notice at dinner last night, after six days of fierce “togetherness” that at a few times during our discussion her hand hesitated over her steak knife just a few seconds too long… I’m not sure why there were steak knives on the table, we were eating salads. Am I in danger? Probably. I wouldn’t want to be locked away with me for weeks at a time.

Every time I cough I think, “COVID… is that you? You finally found me… I knew this day would come.” I find myself asking the Rock Chick if she thinks I have a fever every couple of hours. My daughter was home last weekend. We actually went out to dinner Friday night… and then hit a jazz club for an hour. Since everything around St Patrick’s Day (the only religious holiday I still observe) were cancelled, we did a little pub crawl of our own last Saturday. All of that social interaction looks insane now, like a crime spree. Fortunately nobody in my world is ill with the virus or any other cold and flu. For those of you out there who are sick, my thoughts are with you. Fingers crossed on a quick recovery.

I’ve never seen anything like this. While many of us are complaining about the loneliness of this isolation, we should just be thanking our lucky stars we’re still healthy. I’ve never seen so much confusion and added anxiety in society due to the lack of preparation or crisis management skills at the top. I’m still confused as to why people are hoarding toilet paper. It’s like having the stomach flu and hoarding throat lozenges. As a man whose pretty regular, I’m starting to get nervous. I can see rationing here at the house coming soon… Toilet paper may become the new currency in the post-apocalyptic world we may find ourselves in. Sadly, in that vision of the world, I may be broke.

I have to say a big thank you to all doctors, nurses and medical personnel out there. They’re on the front lines of this battle and I thank heaven they are. As a person who spends a lot of time in bars, restaurants, and live music clubs I am deeply concerned about all of the bartenders, waitresses, cooks and others who work there. Many of those people rely on tips to pay their rent and generally have no health care. I worry about smaller, local band who rely on shows to stay alive. Please keep those folks in your mind when you’re thinking about charity and donations. We’ve got to keep those folks afloat. It’s a dark time and we can only beat crap like this if we stick together. If you haven’t talked to an old friend – pick up the phone. If you know someone whose all alone, Skype them. Reach out, it’s more important than ever. I realize phone calls are, “primal” now…but let’s get back to that. I have found, like a t-shirt I have says, “whiskey helps.” Or, as a woman yelled at me from a car when I was on vacation with that shirt on, “So does vodka.” I do believe this will get better… this will pass.

With all the aforementioned time on my hands, besides worrying about the sick or the out of work, my thoughts turned to, yes, rock and roll. Music has not only accompanied the happy times in my life, it’s helped get me through a lot of the dark times. I started thinking about “end of the world,” sickness, isolation and doctors – happy thoughts, right? I started collecting songs and suddenly I realized I had a playlist. The original meaning of some of these songs might not actually fit a pandemic, but for our purposes of helping kill two-and-a-half hours, they work just fine. I am not, in any way, trying to minimize the outbreak or to make fun of it. I’m just trying to entertain. This is the most serious health challenge I’ve seen in my lifetime.

This playlist could have lasted several days instead of several hours but these are the tracks I latched onto. As always if you have suggestions on adds, please put them in the comments section and I’ll add them to the Spotify playlist, “BourbonAndVinyl.net Pandemic Playlist.” See the link, below.

  1. The Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter” – One of the Stones greatest tracks which invokes a real sense of danger and menace. Perfect for these times.
  2. Talking Heads, “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” – “Home… is where I want to be…” Clearly being ironic as we’re all stuck at home.
  3. Jack White, “Alone In My Home” – Many are… if you know someone, call them.
  4. Prince, “1999” – If it’s the end of the world, lets make it a party.
  5. Cinderella, “Sick For The Cure” – Great song about wanting to be free, which many of you who have been cooped up may relate to.
  6. Iggy Pop, “Sickness” – I hope none of you or your loved ones face this.
  7. Queen, “Keep Yourself Alive” – Yes, please do people.
  8. Van Halen, “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” – Hopefully you’re not a hypochondriac like me who walks around yelling this randomly.
  9. The White Stripes, “The Nurse” – Toughest job in the world.
  10. The Rolling Stones, “Dear Doctor” – A song about heartbreak, of which there is plenty connected to this thing.
  11. Pete Townshend, “Exquisitely Bored” – A song about being stuck in rehab but aren’t we all stuck right now?
  12. David & David, “Being Alone Together” – I’m lucky to have the Rock Chick here with me… she’s not so lucky.
  13. The Clash, “Armigideon Time” – The Clash doing a reggae cover about the end of the world.
  14. Lindsey Buckingham, “End of Time” – A pretty little ditty about the end.
  15. The Police, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” – Seriously, six feet apart folks.
  16. Robert Palmer, “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” – Hopefully none of you have a case of anything.
  17. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, “Isolation” – Even if it’s self-isolation, it’s isolation.
  18. Alice In Chains, “Sickman” – A little heavy rock to keep this moving.
  19. Aerosmith, “Livin’ On the Edge” – We certainly are. We need to be more thoughtful about the leaders we elect around here, people.
  20. Pink Floyd, “Empty Spaces” – A bit of connective tissue from The Wall. It seemed to fit as we’re all basically separated right now.
  21. The Rolling Stones, “Doom and Gloom” – “All I hear is doom and gloom…” Indeed.
  22. John Hiatt, “Alone In the Dark” – Many are… keep them in your thoughts. Use your phone.
  23. The Beach Boys, “In My Room” – Where I’m spending my time these days. This is one of the few songs by the Beach Boys I can stand to listen to.
  24. Ray Charles (*I had to sub in Humble Pie’s version, Ray’s isn’t on Spotify), “I Don’t Need No Doctor” – One of Brother Ray’s best tracks. Rocked out to its max by Humble Pie. And, I hope you don’t need a Dr.
  25. The Police, “When the World Is Running Down” – It certainly is running down…
  26. Little Feat, “Rock And Roll Doctor” – That’s us here at B&V, serving as your rock n roll doctor!!
  27. Warren Zevon, “Splendid Isolation” – Yes, some of us enjoy being alone.
  28. Iggy Pop, “Isolation” – I hope some of you come out of this as Iggy Pop fans. While you’ve got time, explore the fringes of rock and roll, why not?
  29. Black Crowes, “Hotel Illness” – The lyric, “This room smells like Hotel Illness” could very well describe my home office. I spend too much time up here.
  30. Pearl Jam, “Alone” – Great B-side.
  31. Bob Dylan, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – Well, if you’re smart you’re not going anywhere.
  32. U2, “Until The End of the World” – Let’s hope it’s not…
  33. R.E.M., “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” – Although, it may very well be…might as well rock out.
  34. Aerosmith, “Sick As A Dog” – “Cat got your tongue?”
  35. Jackson Browne, “Doctor My Eyes” – I forget how kick ass Jackson Browne’s early music is…
  36. Starcrawler, “Home Alone” – Again, I hope you’re not alone right now.
  37. The Rolling Stones, “Rock And A Hard Place” – While we find ourselves between the two places in the title, we can get through this. I know my friend Doug will say, “too many Stones tracks…” but I love the Stones.
  38. The Cult, “Stand Alone” – We may be alone, but we will stand up against this bullshit.
  39. Journey, “When You’re Alone (It Ain’t Easy)” – No it’s not, but hang in there, this too shall pass.
  40. George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass” – Even this will pass.
  41. Derek & the Dominos, “Got To Get Better In A Little While” – This thing may last longer than we think, but it will get better. It’s got to.
  42. Warren Zevon, “Don’t Let Us Get Sick” – Ending with this hymn from Warren. And yes, please don’t let us get sick. None of you.

Stay healthy, stay isolated and be careful out there. I can see all the different countries where my readers come from. It’s fun to look at the map and think people on the other side of the globe are reading this… so I mean it when I say this – wherever you are – I hope you stay healthy and safe. This will get better if we all do our part. I hate the idea of social distancing but you can still be social with all the technology available to us. Take care to stay way from the elderly. Take care of everybody.

Cheers!

Editor’s Note: It dawned on me after I posted this that I’d forgotten some great songs that fit the theme:

  1. The Police, “Message In A Bottle”
  2. Bruce Springsteen, “The Fever”
  3. Elvis Presley, “Fever”
  4. Judas Priest, “Fever”
  5. James Brown, “Cold Sweat”

Documentary Review: ‘ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas’ – Slight, But Entertaining Viewing

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I’m like a lot of you out there, I’m in a self-quarantine. My daughter came back home this last weekend and like a crazy person I went out to eat Friday night and drinking on Saturday. Thankfully I regained my sanity in time to cancel brunch with my elderly parents on Sunday morning. If I’d carried any of this virus thing to my parents I’d never forgive myself. While I’m symptom free, the cow is likely out of the barn where I’m concerned but on Sunday I went into lockdown. The problem with being under self-appointed “house arrest” is what to do to fill the time? I mean, there’s no sports on. With football season over, there really aren’t any sports I care about anyway and I respect the decision to delay or cancel all of this stuff. Sure, it was a tough blow to see the St Patrick’s Day Parade cancelled here in Kansas City… but I’m all about health and safety. I went out onto Netflix to seek out any rock and roll related items that might have popped into the cue of late. Lo and behold, I discovered a new 2019 documentary about ZZ Top, ‘ZZ Top That Little Ol’ Band From Texas.’

While the documentary was a little on the light side, I still found it entertaining… I must admit, it sure brought back some memories for me. I was just beginning my immersion into rock and roll when ZZ Top’s Deguello album came out in late ’79. They’d been away for three years, which was a lifetime back then, and it was seen as somewhat of a “comeback” album for them. None of that was known to me at the time. The rumor back then was they’d been on a hiatus because bass player Dusty Hill had been taking off his boots and a revolver fell out of his boot and shot him in the stomach. The documentary happily dispels that rumor. I was really enamored with the Deguello album and ZZ Top in general. As Keith Richards said about them when he inducted then into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, they had a solid blues-base. Their music always had a groove or a swing that under pinned the blues influence. They bordered on a blues funk thing in my mind. It was that bloozy thing that always draws me in.

I heard the lead single from Deguello, “I Thank You” and was hooked. It was bluesy and had some great guitar work from Billy Gibbons. I didn’t run right out and buy the album – at the time, I had a “three good songs” rule before buying an LP (there had to be three verified “good songs” on the disc, which makes me laugh all these years later) – because lawn mowing money was hard to come by. After hearing “Cheap Sunglasses” and “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” I was in. That album was a perfect introduction to them – muscular and bluesy but it captured their sense of humor. I really dug the deep album track, “Manic Mechanic” and the documentary explains that song’s sound was due to the influence of punk rock – another item to add to a previous post, How The Biggest Bands In the World Reacted Musically to Punk Rock in the 70s.

The first time I saw ZZ Top in concert – they were opening for the Rolling Stones in Houston, Texas (in the Astrodome no less). It was my first time seeing either of them. I remember after ZZ played, the guy standing next to me said, “They’re probably going to have to sweep a bunch of dirt off the stage from those guys’ cowboy boots.” I still wonder if he was serious… They certainly looked like a country band but they sure didn’t sound like that. It wasn’t until I got into college when a couple of my roomies, Stormin’ and Drew, turned me onto some of the back catalog. Tres Hombres is a masterpiece. The follow-up, the half live, half studio album Fandango was also a must-have. My friend Stormin’ has been searching for the burrito pictured on the inner sleeve of Tres Hombres since before I met him.

The documentary traces ZZ Top from when Dusty Hill (bass) and Frank Beard (drums) met in Dallas. We later see them both join the Houston-based Moving Sidewalks with lead guitarist/vocalist Billy F. Gibbons. Gibbons had toured as an opener for Jimi Hendrix who was an early fan. There are a number of celebrity interviews – Billy Bob Thornton, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and most enthusiastically Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. Billy Bob says meeting ZZ Top – clearly after their video success in the ’80s, was like meeting Bugs Bunny in real life. There’s even a guy in Mumford and Sons whose a fan. Who’d have guessed?

The documentary, using animated scenes, replays the band meeting manager/producer Bill Ham who guided their career until he passed away in 2016. It’s pretty apparent they were still torn up about Ham’s passing. ZZ played a ton of live shows and toured incessantly and built a following. The documentary mentions them playing a Memphis Blues fest – where the organizer didn’t realize they were white – with many of their blues heroes like Muddy Waters. Another memorable story is when the Stones had them open for a series of shows in Honolulu. Mick would wear a disguise and watch them from the wings. After a giant tour where they brought along a bunch of, well, “livestock” for lack of a better word, the band decided to go on the aforementioned hiatus. It wasn’t a Dusty Hill bullet wound that drove it, it was drummer Frank Beard’s heroin habit. Frank went into rehab, Dusty got a manual job at the local airport (which is mind blowing) and Billy went to Europe and India searching for the truth. They reconvened and Deguello was the recharged result. It’s pretty amazing what a little time off will do… although three years was quite a bit.

From there, the doc jumps to the massive success of Eliminator. ZZ Top, who as Billy Bob Thornton pointed out, were a bit cartoonish in appearance – on the hiatus Hill and Gibbons had grown outrageously long beards. They hired Randy Newman’s cousin, found three pretty girls and a hot rod, added some synth to their sound and suddenly the Little ‘Ol Band from Texas was a sensation. Eliminator sold 15 million copies. That’s pretty much where the story ends in the documentary. That’s one of my gripes about watching this, ZZ Top recorded a lot of music after Eliminator and they kind of blow that part of the story off. If you haven’t heard their last LP, the Rick Ruben produced comeback La Futura, do yourself a favor and check it out. You hear the first song playing over the fade out credits, “I Gotsta Get Paid.” It’s their signature dirty blooze.

Another complaint I have – there are scenes of the band playing older tracks in a hall in Greune, Texas in current time. These live scenes of them playing “La Grange,” for example, are interspersed with a lot of vintage footage of the band. It’s cool to see these guys siting around casually playing but the hall they chose to play in is so cavernous the sound gets lost. I think if they’d chosen a better venue maybe the sound would have come across better on those live shots. They still kill it live, so it’s just a matter of band location.

One of the things that impressed me about seeing them hanging out in the hall in Greune is how close these guys are. I can only think of Rush as a band that was able to remain friends for decades while being in a band together. It’s no small feat. Frank Beard says towards the end, “I found the people I want to play with.” ZZ doesn’t seem to get as much respect as they probably should… it probably has to do with what made them so big – the ’80s video stuff, but they should absolutely be celebrated as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

As you’re trying to while away the hours in your self-quarantine, if indeed you’re choosing to do so, this documentary isn’t a bad way to spend an hour and a half. Now what to do with the rest of the time? It’s a historically weird time out there folks. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other.

Cheers!

Review: Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Ordinary Man’ – A Simply Extraordinary Album!

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“Yes, the truth is I don’t wanna die an ordinary man” – Ozzy Osbourne, “Ordinary Man”

I was reading random bullshit on the “social media” last week and I saw a question posed by a blogger. The guy had taken a break from his blog that started as a holiday and ran on for three or four years. He was asking the universe er, I mean his social media following if he should mention or explain his absence after such a long time gone, now that he was considering starting up again. I couldn’t imagine taking that much time off from B&V… I don’t have any other hobbies. I mean, the Rock Chick and I went on vacation last week… I haven’t blogged for two weeks and I feel compelled to mention my vacation as a matter of course so people know what happened… It’s another one of those “don’t pay the ransom, I’ve escaped” kinda things.

While I was on vacation, I was cutting through the beach bar at this resort (yes, I know how fortunate I am to be able to afford something like that once in a while) headed for the bathroom and I heard someone yell, “Hey, did you see them on that tour.” I suddenly realized it was the waitress and she was talking to me. I was wearing a Van Halen 2007 reunion tour t-shirt. “Why yes I did…” She wanted to know how Roth sounded. She’d seen some recent video of his Las Vegas show and said he was embarrassing himself. She went on, “You can only drink so much Jack Daniels over the years until your voice goes to crap.” She told me she still supports and loves all those old rockers out there performing. I said, “How about that new Ozzy?” She was all over it… she mentioned the new duet with Elton in mesmerized tones. Yes, even on vacation I have to engage total strangers into conversations about music…

I must admit, I’ve been dying to get back to the keyboard to share my thoughts on this new Ozzy album, Ordinary Man. It’s his first album in 10 years. He was beginning to rival the Who in terms of time between albums (LP Review: The Who, ‘WHO’ – A Triumphant Return & Perhaps Farewell?). Ozzy has put out a dozen solo albums. And with only a few exceptions his records are always pretty kick ass. I don’t know whose doing quality control down there but, kudos. You can say about Ozzy’s albums what Mel Brooks famously said about pizza being like sex: when it’s good it’s great, when it’s bad it’s still pretty good. His career is a little like his heavy metal brethren AC/DC… there are only a few misfires. The only Ozzy albums I couldn’t connect with were Ultimate Sin and Ozzmosis and even those have some great tunes (“Shot In the Dark,” “Perry Mason” and “See You On The Other Side” just to name a few). Ozzy has found more awesome guitarists than most singers can even count: Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde (the Heavy Metal Viking), and now Andrew Watt.

When Ozzy’s first solo album came out in 1980 I didn’t even know he’d been in Sabbath. I thought Dio was the lead singer of Sabbath… I didn’t buy Blizzard of Ozz until years later but it was impossible to escape “Crazy Train.” Rhoads was the second coming of Eddie Van Halen as far as I was concerned. It wasn’t until the second album, Diary of a Madman that I fully got on the Ozzy bandwagon. I heard that track, “Flying High Again” with the lyric “Mama’s gonna worry, I’ve been a bad, bad boy, no use saying sorry, it’s something that I enjoy,” and I was hooked… It was hard to deny the appeal of that line when I was in high school. Ozzy sort of summed up my behavioral problems and my relationship with mom…I would crank that track up and laugh, laugh, laugh. Someone finally understood me! It wasn’t until The Ultimate Sin tour that I saw Ozzy. We were addled on No-Doz and beer and we watched Ozzy descend to the stage in a giant ghoul-Ozzy chair and I knew I was in the presence of greatness (Metaphysical Wisdom: The 1986 Ozzy Concert, The Preacher and the Pot Smoker).

I stuck with Ozzy on every release after that. Some albums were better than others, but like I said, his work has always been consistent hard rock/heavy metal. In 2007 he released Black Rain, (which would be his last album with Zakk, sadly) and the Rock Chick brought it home. The critics were a bit cool on that record, but we loved it. I thought it was some of his best work lyrically. It’s great, heavy, sludgy rock and roll. I went to see Ozzy on that tour and it was like hearing a plane land in your living room. I’m not sure my ears have ever recovered. In 2010, I was pumped when Scream came out but I have to admit, it’s on that short list of Ozzy LPs that disappointed me. Ozzy recruited Rob Zombie’s guitarist Gus G (the opening act on the Black Rain tour) and Scream had a lot of moments where it sounded like Ozzy was trying to sound like Zombie (especially the title track). I figured Ozzy would be back with his next guitar sensation in another three or four years… Boy I was wrong. Although I should mention that Ozzy rejoined Black Sabbath for the phenomenal album 13 and accompanying tour that I was delighted to see (Black Sabbath Live & The Four Horsemen of the Salinapocalypse).

And now Ozzy has finally, finally returned after a ten year absence with his best album in…pick your last favorite Ozzy record… for me, 13 years (Black Rain). Most people would tell you this is best album in 20 years since Down To Earth. Ozzy was recruited by producer/guitarist Andrew Watt to provide some vocals on a song by Post Malone. Ozzy’s reaction was what mine would have been, “what the fuck is a Post Malone?” Apparently everyone hit it off. Watt approached Ozzy about recording an album and the Ozzman was up for it. It turns out Watt is a shredder on guitar. My friend Drummer Blake since me some YouTube footage of the guy playing on some earlier stuff… amazing. Watt recruited Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith to play drums and in an inspired choice asked Duff McKagan of Guns N Roses to play bass. This band just jelled. They jammed over the course of 4 days and basically wrote the album. Then they brought in Ozzy for lyrical input.

It’s probably pretty obvious, I love this record. It’s Ozzy’s most Sabbath-y solo album. He was really heavy on some of those Zakk Wylde albums but this record really captures that Sabbath vibe. At the same time you can tell everyone involved is having fun here, especially Ozzy. This sounds like a labor of love. It’s got a spontaneous energy and I love the production. Yes, Ozzy’s over arching themes are death and goodbyes, but he never turns maudlin.

The album opens with “Straight to Hell” with those ‘Exorcist’ style backing vocals. It’s a rocking tune. Slash shows up in a cameo to play lead and he’s amazing. That track leads to “All My Life” one of those epic Ozzy tracks. It’s the Rock Chick’s favorite track, high praise indeed. “Goodbye” sounds like it could have come off of 13 it’s so Sabbath-like. It has a hard-slow-hard-slow tempo change cycle that I just love. “Under the Graveyard” remains my favorite track on this album. I gushed about it on an earlier post and I stand by everything I said, New Single: Ozzy’s Triumphant Return, “Under the Graveyard”.

The most surprising cameo here is Elton John on “Ordinary Man,” the title track. I love the song and I’m not a ballad guy. Full disclosure, the Rock Chick didn’t like the track, she feels Elton’s voice has dropped too low to be redeemed. But hey, a waitress in a beach bar I know loves the track. Slash shows up to play the guitar solo, and that is always a bonus. Elton and Ozzy have actually been friends for a long time. I love that they finally got to work together. “Holy For Tonight” is a more power-ballad type track but I like it too. I’ve been digging Ozzy power-ballads since “Goodbye to Romance.” And even the Longshot covered that song.

“Eat Me,” a song with lyrics inspired by an article about cannibalism that Ozzy read, is a real Sabbath-y, heavy track. It starts off with a bass line from McKagan that Geezer Butler would envy. It’s a heavy track but Chad Smith brings a lot swing to the drums on that track. “Scary Little Green Men” is a fast, fast romp where Ozzy imagines aliens arriving on Earth in a not so friendly fashion. It’s a nice lyrical break from his more heavy themes and a great tune. “It’s A Raid” is a song based on a true story… Ozzy did so much coke one time he accidentally called the cops on himself. Only Ozzy…

This one is a must have for fans of Ozzy or heavy metal. It’s the best album I’ve heard since the last Who release. With all the bad health issues we’ve heard about Ozzy, I’m delighted we’ve got this record at all. It’s great music played by great musicians. It packs a punch. I hear it’s number 1 on the rock charts and it sure as hell ought to be. One thing is for certain… Ozzy will never be considered an “Ordinary Man.”

 

 

 

The B&V Ultimate Anti-Valentine’s Day Songs For The Broken Hearted Playlist

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“You took my breath away and now I want it back,  you should have killed me baby, you always looked so good in black…” – “You Don’t Know Me At All,” Don Henley

I see from the calendar that we’ve finally crawled through the slow slog of January and early February until that most dreaded of “Hallmark holidays” has come back around…Valentine’s Day. I was never a big fan of Valentine’s Day, but then what dude is? Valentine’s always seemed to come at an inopportune time for me. I usually had just met somebody and it just seemed awkward, (I barely know you, here are some flowers). Or, it snuck up on me somehow, “Oh, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I need to stop at a convenience store and get a card.” It always just seemed like a total hassle, fraught with social pressure and unrealistic expectations and always felt rather disappointing…

I will say, and I believe this is encouraging news for mankind, that I’ve evolved my feelings on this holiday. As with all things, the Rock Chick has transformed Valentine’s Day from something I dread to something I look forward to. Don’t get confused, I’m not all flowers, cards and chocolates… When I first got married, my stepdaughter was seven years old. She and her mother had been on their own for a long time. Their apartment was like a girl’s club house: “No Boys Allowed.” I was really just an interloper. I’m still surprised they let me through the front door. I realized pretty quickly after that first Valentine’s Day that the child felt left out. An angry mini-me meant a volatile household. It was the Rock Chick who devised a more family-oriented Valentine’s Day feast. Instead of she and I dining out, we started doing fondue. The three of us would stand around pots of boiling oil and eat, laugh and actually, well, enjoy each other’s company. It was a fun way to transform Valentine’s from cheesy love thing to building a family. Our daughter lives farther away now, so we’re having our friend RJ over to join us as we keep the tradition going. Don’t get me wrong, the cat still gets my wife a card… you can’t completely kill this holiday. That said, Valentine’s Day fondue is one of my most cherished family memories…

But prior to the Rock Chick… Valentine’s Day was a day to be dreaded. I was single until I as well into my 30s… I was alone on most Valentine’s Days. I was also, as they say, the King of Break Ups. I was an emotional gypsy with no solid roots… and that energy attracted equally…for lack of a better word…unstable people. I’ve seen and experienced it all. I’ve been ghosted. I’ve ghosted. There was cheating on many sides. There were many very nice, well grounded women in the this crowd, but I had more than my fair share of head cases, sociopaths and nut jobs. Don’t get me wrong, I own my part in all of it now. Back in the day I was not as, shall we say, self-actualized about it. Some women I was glad to be quit of. Others, I was truly sad about the break up. My hope for all of those women is that they’re in a happier, better place. The way I was wired back then, they can’t be in a worse place… Consider this my blanket apology…

That said, I was reminded recently that one woman in particular, a troubled soul, actually once inspired me to put a “mix tape” together about our break up. For those of you millennial types out there, a mix tape was a cassette on which you would record an assortment of songs that would hopefully fit together and in this case, deliver a message. Thinking back on it now, many of these songs were kind of hateful. In my defense, this woman could veer from adoring me to seemingly despising me in the course of a meal. I realized early on the relationship was doomed and broke it off. That only seemed to encourage her. I would break up with her and she would suddenly find me fascinating and pursue me. Foolishly, I would give in and as soon as I showed interest she would treat me like an unwanted party guest. Clearly there was some odd approach/avoidance thing going on. I was drawn in one final time when she cheated on me. I was hurt and mad, probably more at myself for falling for her bullshit again. I had the dignity to walk away but not without putting this playlist together… When my walking away suddenly had her interested in me again, rather than staying on that yo-yo ride, I delivered the playlist. She left me alone after that…

Years later I heard a DJ on the rock station here in Kansas City, 98.9 “the Rock” playing requests for people with the theme being “Anti-Valentine’s Day Songs.” I loved that. And frankly, most of the tracks I had on that earlier, relationship ending tape fit the theme. Now I’ll admit, the listeners that night tended toward songs that I felt were too violently themed for my taste. You won’t find GnR’s “Back Off Bitch,” or “I Used To Love Her (But I Had To Kill Her)” on this list. Someone requested Aerosmith’s “My Fist, Your Face.” Come on people, this is love and you should never hit a woman. No one should hit anybody if it can be avoided… I’m a lover, not a fighter.

On this Valentine’s Day, I know many of you may be alone – and believe me you only feel alone, you have friends and family out there. Don’t fall into that Valentine’s Day bummed out trap. Instead, I’ve provided the cure here in this playlist. Turn it up loud and leave that broken-hearted shit behind. The songs on this list do tend to be upbeat, but have a bit of an angry shading. I always felt anger was a strong enough emotion to help me push through sadness. Some the mellower tracks may sound sad, but really if you listen they express a strength and determination that I found myself drawn to. The playlist has evolved over the years as I’ve added some songs and removed others. I tried to add some lighter moments to make it seem less hateful. I also included a couple of female artists to get a woman’s perspective. While most of the songs are from a male perspective, I like to think they’re universal enough to fit for any rock fan out there going through a tough day today. I hope it helps… rock n roll can be medicine.

As always, you can find this playlist on Spotify under the title “BourbonAndVinyl.net Ultimate Anti-Valentine’s Day Songs For the Broken Hearted” playlist. If you have a favorite song that fits the theme, by all means please mention them in the comments and I’ll add them on Spotify. And again, no tracks advocating violence.

  1. B.B. King, “The Thrill Is Gone” – Bad relationships are fun at first, but when the thrill is gone, it’s gone. “I wish you well…”
  2. The Who, “Trick of the Light” – This is probably the angriest song here… Entwistle basically calls his ex a whore.
  3. Led Zeppelin, “Heartbreaker” – “Go away you heartbreaker…” I know I’ve thought this a time or two.
  4. Led Zeppelin, “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)” – A song about a groupie they didn’t like… I felt the energy fit here.
  5. Smashing Pumpkins, “Zero” – “I’m your lover, I’m your zero.” Corgan is just raging on this song.
  6. Fleetwood Mac, “The Chain” – This sounds like a breakup set to music.
  7. Robert Cray, “I Guess I Showed Her” – I felt the playlist needed a more tongue-in-cheek moment.
  8. Alanis Morissette, “You Ought To Know” – Her greatest song. “When I scratch someone else’s back I hope you feel it…”
  9. The Eagles, “Already Gone” – “You’ll have to eat your lunch all by yourself.”
  10. Rod Stewart, “You’ve Got A Nerve” – Rod’s ultimate kiss off song.
  11. Don Henley, “You Don’t Know Me At All” – The best song Henley ever did.
  12. Paul Butterfield Blues Band, “Get Out Of My Life, Woman” – The greatest blues band ever.
  13. Tom Petty, “Change of Heart” – This song got me through my freshman year in college.
  14. AC/DC, “What Do You Do For Money, Honey” – This song is for someone specific… and she still owes me money. Bygones.
  15. Triumph, “Say Goodbye” – Canada’s overlooked trio’s best song.
  16. Motley Crue, “Don’t Go Away Mad, (Just Go Away)” – Haven’t we all felt this way?
  17. Foreigner, “The Damage Is Done” – A mellow, but firm good bye… “It’s ooooover.”
  18. Neil Young, “Drive Back” – “I want to wake up with no one around.”
  19. Pete Townshend, “Second Hand Love” – A slow burning bluesy burn.
  20. The Byrds, “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” – “…when you’re gone.” Oh, yes I will.
  21. Alice Cooper, “Under My Wheels” – Please don’t run over anyone… I always thought this song was humorous, but I have a bit of a gallows humor streak.
  22. Steely Dan, “Black Cow” – “I can’t cry any more, while you run around…” If you’re tired of the bullshit, walk.
  23. Bad Company, “Gone, Gone, Gone” – “I don’t know if I’m happy, I don’t know if I’m sad, I better get the boys ’round and do some drinkin’ fast.”
  24. Allman Brothers Band, “Stand Back” – From the fabulous Eat a Peach. 
  25. Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind” – “…it’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves.” Epic anger. Directed at both his lover and himself.
  26. Warren Zevon, “Finishing Touches” – A brutal take down from Warren.
  27. The Rolling Stones, “Bitch” – Love is the titular bitch, not a specific woman.
  28. John Lee Hooker, “It Serves You Right to Suffer” – I’ve been on both sides of this equation.
  29. Pearl Jam, “Rearview Mirror” – Some people do look a whole lot better when they’re in your rearview mirror. Put them in the past. Cut the cord.
  30. Sam Cooke, “That’s It – I Quit – I’m Movin’ On” – My dear friend Nancy turned me onto this Cooke nugget.
  31. Linda Ronstadt, “You’re No Good” – I’m really into Linda these days since I saw her documentary, Documentary Review: The Sublime ‘Linda Ronstadt, The Sound Of My Voice’, and this track fits.
  32. The Band (with Eric Clapton), “Further On Up the Road” – Blistering guitar to augment the blistering commentary on an ex.
  33. E.L.O, “Evil Woman” – While they’re mostly derivative of the Beatles, this is one standout track I love. And, well, I knew a number of just evil women.
  34. Bush, “Cold Contagious” – “…you will get yours… you will get yours…” Gavin Rossdale, how do you really feel?
  35. Sammy Hagar, “I’ll Fall In Love Again” – A lovely, positive sentiment. And believe me, you will fall again. Just be more careful next time.
  36. Phil Collins, “I Don’t Care Anymore” – You shouldn’t care any more…
  37. Fleetwood Mac, “Go Your Own Way” – “…tell me why, everything’s turned around?” Oh, sigh. Been there.
  38. Elton John, “I’ve Seen That Movie Too” – This is one of Sir Elton’s greatest songs that many people have never heard.

There you have it… Sadly this could have been a much longer list. Hang in there through this ridiculous Hallmark Holiday. My advice… and it’s not worth much… if you’re on your own, go old school and  head to a bar and start that next great adventure.

 

 

 

The B&V List of Artists Who Really Should Be In the Rock Hall of Fame

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*Image of the Rock Hall from the internet, specifically gettyimages and is likely copyrighted

I think it was the “American Pie” guy who sang the line, “February made me quiver with every paper I’d deliver…” I never really liked that song but he’s got a point about February. I forget how hard February is as a month. Maybe that’s why it’s only 28 days (29 in the Leap Year). The holidays end (thankfully) in early January. NFL football ends in early February. And then… the grey, cold nothingness of winter. Rarely do we see any new music this early in the year as most artists prefer to release stuff for the big Christmas season. Green Day finally released Father of All… I won’t be reviewing that one… there’s enough hate and negativity out there and I don’t want to add to it by telling you the new Green Day is unlistenable crap. Oops, well, there… I’ve said it. I feared it’d go that way when I heard the first single, Green Day: New Single, “Father of All…” – Trying Something New?.

Being stuck inside with what borders on cabin fever, I’ve been able to let my mind wander. And oh does it wander. I was recently musing on the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, or as I call it, the Rock Hall. I was watching the NFL announce their latest batch of Hall of Famers and it got me thinking about the Rock Hall in Cleveland. Ahmet Ertegun had the original idea in 1983 and they chose Cleveland in 1986 as the permanent location. I guess any institution that sticks around long enough has to open a Hall of Fame. It’s no secret to long time readers that I’m a big enough music nerd that I think the Hall of Fame is kind of, well, cool. I’ve even commented on the Rock Hall before, to express my displeasure with some of their choices, The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees: Getting It Wrong, Again. I was perhaps a bit hasty in my determination that Dire Straits was a bad choice… hindsight is 20/20.

In the early days of the Rock Hall it was easy to support the selections. It was a new thing, and all the great bands were being inducted. Chuck Berry, James Brown and Ray Charles, and Elvis were being inducted along with the Beatles, Stones, Who and Kinks. How can you argue with those selections? I’ll be the first to admit that its seems odd that a force as subversive as rock and roll would put on tuxes and induct each other into a “hall of fame.” It’s kind of what Ray Davies of the Kinks said during his induction, “Seeing everybody here tonight, it makes me realize that rock and roll has become respectable.  What a bummer.” That point aside, the Rock Hall’s decisions on inductees was never terribly controversial because we could all agree Johnny Cash should be in there.

As the years have gone by, and I can’t believe it’s been 35 years since they opened the building in Cleveland, the choices have become more controversial. This year the Rock Hall is inducting Whitney Houston. Whitney was an extremely talented singer. She was indeed many things but rock and roll is not one of them. If you’re going to induct people like Whitney or Madonna, you should call it the Pop Music Hall of Fame. I’m not too hung up on hip hop artists being inducted, like this year the Notorious B.I.G. is getting in – rap has always had a rock n roll danger to it, but does Tupac belong in there beside say, Hendrix? The music styles are so incongruous, one could argue whether rap artists belong in the Hall? Smarter people than I am can make that call. I will say I’m thrilled Depeche Mode made it this year. I can even dig the Doobie Brothers and NIN. T Rex I can take or leave.

I’m such a big music nerd, the Rock Chick actually surprised me with a trip to Cleveland to see the Rock Hall. I have to say, Cleveland gets a bad rap. I thought it was a charming city and I found some great Lebanese food. The Rock Hall itself, designed by I.M. Pei no less, is a beautiful building tucked away on Cleveland’s Lake Erie shoreline, nestled next to the Indians’ and Browns’ stadiums. I had a great weekend there and absolutely loved the Rock Hall. It’s a trip every rock fan should make. Oddly it never occurred to me to rent a car and drive to Canton to see the Pro football Hall of Fame, although looking back that would have been a nice add-on to the trip.

As the Rock Hall’s choices on who to induct seem to cause more and more uproar each year – this year Tom Morello roasted the selection committee for snubbing Rage Against the Machine – I found myself listing off in my head artists who really should be in the Rock Hall but for some reason or other have not been inducted. Hard rock especially seems to get short shrift in the inductee category. I will say, Motorhead isn’t going to be on my list. I can’t stand Motorhead. There are other, very obvious choices here like the White Stripes, but I don’t think they’re eligible yet. You have to wait until 25 years after your first release. Without further adieu, the following rock acts deserve to be in the Hall… certainly before Whitney Houston anyway…

  1. Bad Company/Free – When Free collapsed under the weight of drug addiction and apathy, Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke formed Bad Company. I see these bands as two separate ones but ever since they inducted the Small Faces/Faces, I’ve felt they could do the same for Bad Co/Free.
  2. Beck – The man is simply brilliant. If he’s not eligible, he soon will be. From “Loser” to his latest hit with Cage the Elephant, “Night Running” the man always kills me.
  3. The Cult – The Rock Chick’s favorite band should be in the Rock Hall and I’m not saying this to schmooze the boss. They’re a great band and can be found on hard rock and alternative rock stations around the dial. Music that rocks needs to be recognized.
  4. Eurythmics – Annie Lennox’s wonderful vocals and Dave Stewart’s songwriting and production. These guys should be in the Hall.
  5. Peter Frampton – The best selling live album of all time, yes!
  6. J. Geils Band – I wish we’d seen these guys inducted before we lost J. Geils but what a great posthumous honor for him. I love everything these guys did before “Freeze Frame.” They were one great, slinky blues rock band. And they boast Magic Dick on harmonica.
  7. Jane’s Addiction – Perry Farrell invented Lollapalooza. That ought to be enough to get them in, right? Perry, Dave Navarro and company were a cornerstone to alternative rock.
  8. Judas Priest – It’s astounding that heavy metal gets snubbed by the Rock Hall year in and year out. It’s baffling why this enormous band is not in the Rock Hall yet.
  9. Lenny Kravitz – Another great artist who is definitely eligible and who definitely should be in the Hall.
  10. Dave Matthews Band – They were on the ballot for 2020. Here’s hoping for next year.
  11. John Mayall – The Bluesbreakers were such a seminal influence on blues rock in Britain. Cream and Fleetwood Mac were all formed by guys who’d met under Mayall.
  12. Motley Crue – These guys first five albums should be enough to seal their induction, but alas, hard rock bands get snubbed.
  13. Harry Nilsson – Sure he avoided fame – for his commercial breakthrough he chose a grainy picture of himself in a bathrobe… not exactly making an effort? The voice is one that should be enshrined.
  14. No Doubt – I don’t like anything Gwen Stefani has done solo, but oh when she was young could she rock!
  15. Ozzy – Yes, he’s in with Sabbath, but he should be recognized for his incredible solo career.
  16. Robert Plant – The same as Ozzy. Great solo career that should be recognized in it’s own right.
  17. Iggy Pop – It seems I have a string of these artists who are inducted with their original bands, here its the Stooges, but not their great body of solo work.
  18. Rage Against the Machine – They do belong and I didn’t want Morello to get mad at me too.
  19. Scorpions – Germany’s greatest band.
  20. Smashing Pumpkins – Billy Corgan is a genius. This band was enormous. And they’ve been putting out some great stuff over the last few years.
  21. Social Distortion – One of the inventors of CowPunk. This band has always been under appreciated.
  22. Soundgarden – Tragic that they weren’t inducted before Chris Cornell ended his life.
  23. Thin Lizzy – Also on this year’s ballot but snubbed in the end. It’s a mystery why these guys aren’t in yet.
  24. Joe Walsh – Already in as an Eagle, the man behind the James Gang and countless spectacular solo albums deserves to get in on his own. The riff on “Turn To Stone” should be enough for his application.
  25. Lucinda Williams – Rootsy and bluesy, I love her. Car Wheels On A Gravel Road alone should get her into the Rock Hall.
  26. Steve Winwood – Again, in with Traffic, needs to be in as a solo artist. If they’re going to induct every single Beatle, then some of these other great artists deserve to be in.
  27. Warren Zevon – I agree with what Letterman said, “It’s about time you invite me back here to induct my friend Warren Zevon, it’s overdue.” It’s long overdue. He was a great, great songwriter and absolutely should be in. He’s never even been on the ballot.

That’s my list folks. Heavy on solo careers of currently inducted guys, but they all still deserve to be in. I’m sure I’ve missed some favorites of yours. If so, please list them in the comments section.

Cheers!