The B&V Rock Hall of Fame 2023 Ballot Selections

museum

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!

New Song: Dave Matthews Band’s First New Song In Five Years, “Madman’s Eyes” From Upcoming New LP

Walk-Around-The-Moon-1674581613

“We live as if our hands are tied
Is it really so hard
To do what we know is right”

The Dave Matthews Band, “Madman’s Eyes”

Look who’s getting the band back together! The Dave Matthews Band has returned after 5 years with a new song, “Madman’s Eyes,” which also heralds the coming of a new album in May, Walk Around The Moon. If five years sounds like a long time between albums, let’s remember it was six years between 2012’s superb Away From The World and 2018’s moody Come Tomorrow. I was frankly surprised by this song and the new LP announcement – which seems to happen more and more to me despite my attempts to keep an eye on bands I like. I had minor surgery on Tuesday and have basically been asleep since then. I wake up and voila, a new DMB song! Prior to surgery I’d been lost in a David Crosby and Jeff Beck music binge in honor of those two great artists’ recently  lost… I had been reading that Dave was going to do another solo record like Some Devil and had that in the back of my mind as a possible release for this year. I wasn’t expecting a full-on band release and I’m delighted to hear these guys playing new music. Maybe I should schedule surgery more often?

I got in early on the Dave Matthews Band. Well, as early as most mainstream radio listeners could with the release of Under The Table And Dreaming. I was like everybody else 1994 to 2000, a huge Dave Matthews Band fan. But like many bands do, the DMB hit a bit of a mid career lull to my ears. Maybe it was the coming of the new millennium. 2001’s Everyday produced by Glenn Ballard was a huge miss for me. That one almost felt more like a Dave solo album than Some Devil. They rebounded with one of their finest albums on Busted Stuff, but once again lost me completely on Stand Up. There were a few tracks on Stand Up that I connected with – namely “Dream Girl” and “American Baby” – but the rest left me really cold. When I say they lost me completely, I mean it, I walked away from the Dave Matthews Band and left them for the soccer moms out there. Part of the problem was never being able to see them live – those tickets sold out faster than I could find a connection to buy from…

As usual, I chose the wrong moment to give up on a band. Describing their work since 2009s Big Whiskey And the GrooGrux King as a late career renaissance might be a bit strong but they’ve put out a string of really great records. After GrooGrux, which was dedicated to the late LeRoi Moore, the DMB horn player for years, who tragically died in an ATV accident, the DMB hit their stride again. 2012’s Away From The World kept the hot streak alive. And of course, 2018’s Come Tomorrow was another strong if moody and dark record. When I reviewed that record, I compared it in “attitude” to Lenny Kravitz’s Circus in that it has a rather dark perspective. There’s nothing wrong with dark perspectives, those are the only perspectives I held for a long time in life. And again, Come Tomorrow sounds nothing like Circus from a musical standpoint.

The Dave Matthews Band at this point is: Dave Matthews (vocal/guitar), the vastly underrated Carter Beauford (drums), Stefan Lessard (bass guitar) who have all been with the band since the start and Tim Reynolds (guitar), Jeff Coffin & Rashawn Ross (horns) who all joined after LeRoi’s passing. The band is rounded out by keyboardist Buddy Strong who joined the band after original violinist Boyd Tinsley left under a cloud of sexual harassment suits. They still have that eclectic, DMB signature sound.

I really like “Madman’s Eyes.” I feel like Dave’s vocals are buried a little too far in the mix but that may be because my head is slightly clogged after surgery. The song, like Come Tomorrow, is a bit of a moody track. It starts with Dave’s voice intoning a wordless melody. Then the song kicks in. It has an epic, almost cinematic sweep to it. It feels Middle Eastern to me, like it was torn from Lawrence of Arabia or it’s “Kashmir”-lite. I can almost feel hot desert winds full of sand on my face. Whatever was bothering Dave Matthews five years ago seems like it’s getting worse… when he sings, “I’m afraid, can’t lie, Momma said baby don’t you cry, In the dark be the light, Don’t let go baby hold on tight,” I believe him. It’s a hard time not to be concerned about humanity’s future.

Here’s the track:

It’s certainly an epic sounding track with strings, horns, keyboards all creating a palpable sense of tension. It’s perfect for these times. No band struggled to try and get out on the road the way DMB did during Covid and maybe that frustration is manifesting here in this song. It’s a tough time for an embattled collective Human Condition. It’s a really strong first single and it’s perfect for these troubled times. I love the Arabic flair here.

In dark times we need artists to reflect the darkness for us all to see it and to over come it. This track scratches that itch for me. I am really looking forward to late May when this album comes out. The DMB are on a roll and this song would indicate that’s going to continue!

Cheers!

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

david-crosby-remember-my-name-poster-crop

*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

johnson

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

17709339_605

*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

image

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

360_F_379777438_SOiI1MPgXzj5OBgWpI9zmuM3MvFxTBlm

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.

B&V’s Best of 2022: Our Favorite New LPs & Vault/Re-Released/Live Releases

IMG_1192

The beginning of every year is like a rebirth. It’s always something new and different despite U2’s old insistence that “nothing changes on New Year’s Day.” Whether it’s changes at work or the implementation of self-improving New Year’s Resolutions, the New Year always seems to bring the possibility of exciting change and rejuvenation and 2022 was no exception on that front. For me this year, I moved to a new residence, completely changed my job responsibilities at work (reducing my stress) and spent those early days in 2022 listening to David Bowie’s vault release Toy. No matter how different every New Year’s beginning seems to be, the end of each year tends to be exactly the same for me and like the beginning of the year, 2022’s end is no exception on that front either. Every year after the dreaded Christmas Holiday passes I find myself stuffed with leftovers and floating around the house like I’m Baron Harkonnen from Dune with a mug full of what remains of the eggnog, mired in reflection. Here it is the waning days of 2022 and I’m back in the same old mindset I was in last year…and the year before that one…and the one before that one, and so on… It’s like those old cartoons with Father Time holding Baby New Year to symbolize the passage of time. I hate to think of the end of the year is the opposite of the rebirth we feel on New Year’s Day… what would we even call that? But I have to admit with each passing year I hear Hannibal Lecter in my ear saying “Tick tock, Clarice.” It was Steve Miller who sang, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future,” and I can verify, he wasn’t kidding. Maybe that’s why I also spent early 2022 listening to my playlist of songs from 1972…always looking both forward and backwards.

I feel like I was happier in 2022 but there were so many bad things that happened over the course of this year. I’m still staggered that in the year 2022 there was a land war started in Europe. The immoral, illegal and insane Russian invasion of Ukraine has been a cloud over the entire year. There were elections in many countries that gave us uniformly terrible commercials and mixed results. The shadow of authoritarianism still lurks strong in the world. The world population reached 8 billion this year which sounds like too many people and yet we aren’t taking very good care of this planet of ours… there is no Planet B folks. In the world of rock n roll we lost the beautiful voice of Christine McVie who seemed like the only nice person in Fleetwood Mac. We lost so many other rockers, some who I wasn’t a big fan of: Meatloaf, Jerry Lee Lewis and Olivia Newton John and some who I liked: drummer Alan White of Yes, Ronnie “The Hawk” Hawkins who was backed by the Band when they were young and Pub Rock guitarist Wilko Johnson.

At least we had music. With the pandemic mostly behind us I finally got to return to going to concerts semi-regularly. I saw the Cult in both Denver and Kansas City, Starcrawler in a small venue, and I returned to my first big arena show in 3 years, Roger Waters. I can’t overstate how great it is to be standing in a darkened room – whether it’s a 20,000 seat arena or a bar – with like-minded rockers, facing the stage, arms raised and singing along. Although admittedly I feel sorry for anybody whose within earshot of my belting out any tune. There were some big acts who didn’t release albums but gifted us with a single this year. Beck covered Neil Young’s great song “Old Man.” Unfortunately it was for an NFL commercial and we know Neil hates rock n roll being used in commercials (crank up “This Notes For You” if you doubt me). It was still a great cover but then I love cover songs. And speaking of covers, Stevie Nicks dropped a cover of the Stephen Stills penned, Buffalo Springfield classic “For What It’s Worth.” With women’s rights being infringed upon from Iran to Ohio it’s a very resonant version and one that the Rock Chick surprisingly loved. Best of all, Pink Floyd reunited for the first time since 2014 (well, David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason anyway, Roger Waters was clearly not invited) to release a protest song to raise money for the Ukrainians, “Hey, Hey, Rise Up.” Other than Beck these great songs were done in support of something important proving that rock n roll remains a force for good in the world.

As I do every year in this reflective mood, looking back on the year that was, I can’t help but compile lists of my favorite albums of the year. It was a really nice year for rock n roll and many artists put out new albums. A few acts like Springsteen and the Smashing Pumpkins managed to somehow disappoint me. Like the past few years the vaults of some of our favorite classic rockers opened up and we got to hear unreleased gems, enhanced anniversary versions, and overlooked live performances from long ago. As I did last year, I split these lists between the new albums and the vault/live/re-released stuff. This year there were two EPs that I didn’t include on these lists of LPs, but deserve honorable mention as some of my favorite music of the year: The Black Crowes released a great EP of cover songs from 1972 (“Papa Was A Rolling Stone” might be my favorite) and Billy Idol released an EP of his best music in years, The Cage. Check out both of those!

Without further delay, here is our look back at the year that was 2022. These are in no particular order and this is not to be seen as a ranking… and as usual, please, no wagering. Maybe once I get these 2022 lists out of my system I’ll be free to look forward into 2023…

B&V Best New Albums of 2022 – New Music

  • Eddie Vedder, EarthlingEddie has always seemed a reluctant solo artist. He’s released stray singles, a soundtrack album and a full album of songs on ukulele so this feels like his first actual solo album. Produced by my current favorite producer Andrew Watt this is a great LP that shows the range of the things Eddie can do.
  • Scorpions, Rock BelieverA blast of classic 80s style hard rock/heavy metal. These guys still have plenty left in the tank and this album was great start to finish.
  • Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, External CombustionIf you’re like me and you miss Tom Petty, his guitarist Mike Campbell can scratch that itch for you. This is good, straight up rock n roll which we can all use these days.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Unlimited Love and The Return of the Dream CanteenMy Chili Pepper cup runneth over this year. The lads in the RHCPs celebrated the return of guitarist John Frusciante with not one but two double albums. As the cliche goes, there was probably a great single album lurking in each of these records but I’ll take all the Chili Peppers I can get. If pressed I’d probably say the better album was Dream Canteen, but there is plenty to like across the 34 new songs over both LPs. Only Prince would release this volume of music at one time…
  • Black Keys, Dropout BoogieThe Black Keys are so consistently good they don’t always get the attention they deserve. This was a great record and should be played at max volume.
  • Jack White, Entering Heaven AliveLike the Chilis, Jack White was prolific in 2022 and released two LPs. The first LP, Fear of the Dawn, was a crazy sound experiment that I just couldn’t connect to. I did like the single “Taking Me Back,” but felt I shouldn’t comment on the album as a whole, such was my dislike. This second, less experimental, mostly acoustic album was the best thing White had done in years. I knew from the first single, “If I Die Tomorrow” this was going to be a classic Jack White album.
  • Ozzy Osbourne, Patient Number 9This is another one produced by Andrew Watt (keep an eye on that guy) and features a laundry list of great guitarists: Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Tony Iommi, Zakk Wylde, and Mike McCready. A true heavy metal feast! Rumor has it Ozzy tried to get Jimmy Page to play on a song (which would have given Ozzy the ex-Yardbird trifecta) but alas he declined.
  • The Cult, Under the Midnight SunA truly sublime listening experience. They’ve come a long way from “Fire Woman” but I find what the Cult do a fascinating listen. I like to play this thing as a whole vs just a track at a time.
  • Bush, The Art of Survival – I had almost forgotten about these guys and then they release this heavy riff gem. If you’ve given up on Bush, give this album a spin, it will change your mind. They aren’t surviving, they’re thriving.
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse, World RecordNeil & Crazy Horse (Nils Lofgren/guitar, Billy Talbot/bass, Ralph Molina/drums) return with their third winning LP in a row. This one is focused on the Ecology but also has a 10-plus minute jam about a Chevy. Who’d have expected Neil would be having a creative resurgence this far down the road?

B&V Best Archive/Re-Releases/Box Sets/Live Albums

  • David Bowie, Toy (Box Set)Early in the millennium Bowie went back and rerecorded songs he’d written back in the 60s. He got push back from the record company so went back to the studio and recorded the amazing Heathen. Toy was often bootlegged but finally saw the light of day with this great box that also has demos and different takes on the songs. Bowie was clearly enjoying revisiting these obscure tunes from his early songwriting days.
  • Keith Richards, Main Offender 30th AnniversaryKeef revisiting his oft overlooked but still sensational second LP complete with an unreleased concert. The X-Pensive Winos always brought it live.
  • Rush, Moving Pictures 40th Anniversary Deluxe EditionRevisiting Rush’s masterpiece 1981 album. This box has a complete concert from the accompany tour which puts Exit Stage Left to shame. The live disc is worth the price of admission.
  • The Rolling Stones, Live At the El Mocambo – This legendary club show recorded in 1979 finally sees the light of day! The Stones are loose in a club setting but play like the hungry young kids who took over London’s blues rock movement of the 60s. This is a must for Stones fans.
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse, ToastAnother lost LP from the vaults for Neil with Crazy Horse. He went in and cut these songs but felt they were too personal to release so shelved the album. He ended up doing lesser versions of some of the songs for the album Are You Passionate? but to me these versions with the Horse are definitive. I love Neil’s vaults are releasing a torrent of previously unreleased music!
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival, Royal Albert Hall, April 14, 1970The Beatles had just broken up and CCR arrive in London for their first concert tour of Europe and proceed to tear the roof off the Royal Albert Hall like it was a Mississippi juke joint.
  • The Beatles, Revolver – Super DeluxeThe Beatles masterpiece, where they really came into their own in the studio, with outtakes and early versions of the tracks. The stereo version of the album here produced by Giles Martin (George’s son) may be the definitive version but just in case the mono version is included too.
  • Guns N Roses, Use Your Illusions Box SetWhile it lacks any unreleased studio stuff (which is disappointing) the two concerts from that era/tour are worth it. I like the New York show better than Vegas… but you decide. It’s a mess but it’s a hot mess.
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, L.A. Forum April 26. 1969 (Live)The Hendrix Experience were just that – an experience – especially when you saw them live. That’s why every show recorded is worth a listen. This is a very jam forward set for a very unruly crowd and some very uncomfortable cops.
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Live At the Fillmore 1997Great compilation of live cuts from their legendary 20-night residency at the Fillmore West in San Francisco in Jan – Feb 1997. They scrap the arena set lists and play a ton of covers and deep tracks with unbridled joy. A must have for Petty fans and perhaps their greatest live document.
  • Paul McCartney, 7′ Singles Box (*Streaming Only) – I considered listing this one under “honorable mention” but it deserves at least a mention here. I would never recommend anybody paying $600 for a crate full of vinyl singles. But streaming these 159 songs gave me a real appreciation of how ingrained in my rock n roll life McCartney has been. There are some b-sides you may not get into… skip em. The overall body of work is extraordinary.

There you have it, our “best of 2022.” I hope everybody had a great Xmas and that some of these gems were wrapped under the tree for you. I hope everybody had a good and safe ’22. While I’m still looking backward in this reflective mood I’m in, I’m actually really looking forward to 2023. We already know we’ll see releases from Iggy Pop and Metallica in the near term, they’ve both released singles (“Frenzy” and “Lux AEterna” respectively). I appreciate everybody’s continued support and reading of B&V. I hope ’23 brings all of you only good things!

Happy & Safe New Year to all of you. See you next year at B&V and of course, Cheers!

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

image

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!

image

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!