A mainstay of American rock ‘n’ roll, Cheap Trick has just celebrated 40 years in the music spotlight. Formed in 1973 in Rockford, IL, the band has a dedicated following and has produced such hits as “The Flame”, “Surrender”, “Dream Police” and “I Want You to Want Me”.
I was never a huge huge Cheap Trick fan. I liked their hits but to be honest I couldn’t name any of their tunes that weren’t hits with the exception of their groovy covers of Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” and Fat Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame”. I give them proper respect for lasting 40+ years and continuing to rock. More power to them.
By the way, that cover of “Ain’t That A Shame” can be found on their Live at Budokan release, one of the greatest live albums in rock history. Supposedly, it is Fats’ favorite cover version.
Cheap Trick is composed of Robin Zander (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), Tom Petersson (bass guitar), and Bun E. Carlos (drums).
- “Ain’t That A Shame”
- “Don’t Be Cruel”
- “I Want You To Want Me”
- “Dream Police”
A while back I posted a multi-part series about the Grateful Dead and noted that, for me, I thought the band came to an end when Jerry left this earth for the big gig in the sky. That’s not to say that the rest of the gang aren’t great musicians with lots to offer, just that I always thought Jerry was the soul of the band.
The good news is that more than anyone else in the Dead Jerry had a long and varied career outside of the band and explored a lot of music from the genres of folk, bluegrass, rock, and jazz. He did it all. And he did it really well…
Among my favorite non-Dead adventures, Jerry’s work with mandolinist David Grisman stands out among the best work he ever released.
Jerry and David first met in the early ’60s at a bluegrass music festival and Grisman was later brought in to add some mandolin tracks to the Dead’s 1970 American Beauty album. A friendship was born.
They met again to form the bluegrass band Old and in the Way and eventually decided to put their musical talents together in some duets. Not content to just re-hash another version of “Turkey In The Straw”, they set their sights on some very cool interpretations including B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” and artists from Miles Davis (“So What“) to Irving Berlin (“Russian Lullaby“).
- ”The Thrill Is Gone”
- “Russian Lullaby”
- “Louis Collins”
- “So What”
- Long clip of JG & DG in concert in Squaw Valley, CA.
The good folks over at Feralette Media in Nashville turned me on to the music of Boo Ray and it’s been in the CD player on repeat since it arrived.
Boo’s latest effort, Six Weeks In A Motel, is a well-crafted blend of Americana, country, and roots rock tunes that are a much-anticipated follow-up to his 2010 release Bad News Travels Fast.
A recipe of North Carolinian roots, Nashville-level talent, and some ’70′s southern rock thrown in to simmer, these tunes show that Boo Ray is ready to cook in the big time.
The album features some serious musicianship including drummer Steve Ferrone from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Jimmy Sloas who has laid down bass lines for Keith Urban and Reba McEntire, Bruce Bouton (pedal steel for Emmylou Harris) and chickin-pickin guitar prodigy Sol Philcox.
You can find out more about Boo Ray here: http://www.booraystories.blogspot.com/ and here: http://www.booraymusic.com/
There are a lot of artists these days who seem to fly under the radar when it comes to the recognition they so rightly deserve. A case in point is Iris DeMent. Iris is a true, original American talent. Although she is a current day performer (and has been for the last 20+ years) her music speaks to an older romanticism of gospel, country, and folk songs that show an honesty that seems to be lacking in popular music these days.
Born in early 1961 in Paragould, Arkansas, Iris was the youngest of a large family that relocated to Los Angeles when she was three.
Her debut release, Infamous Angel came out in 1992 and was followed over the years by four more releases with her most recent release, Sing the Delta, coming out in October 2012. Her songs are well-crafted and speak to issues of the heart with grace, common sense, and some humor.
Iris is married to the folk singer, Greg Brown (another of my favorite folkies) and lives in Iowa City.
You can find out more about Iris here: http://irisdement.com/
- “When My Morning Comes Around” – My hands down all-time favorite Iris DeMent tune. Listen to the beauty of these perfectly matched lyrics and music. Brings a tear to my eye every time I listen. A live version from a concert in NJ.
- “Let the Mystery Be” – Another beauty from Iris about her take on religion and our own mortality.
- “Sweet is the Melody” – The simplicity of these songs show their true value. Just think….
- “Our Town” – A beautiful tune about small town life. The clip here is from the closing segment of the TV series “Northern Exposure”.
- “God May Forgive You (But I Won’t)” - A darkly humorous take on a woman scorned. It’s not an Iris tune but she hits it out of the park anyway. “Yes, Jesus loves you. But I don’t.”
A very happy Veterans Day and a thank you to all who served our country and to those serving now. When I researched music for this I came to the realization that many folks seem to confuse Veteran’s Day with Memorial Day. I even found one mainstream media source that displayed a photo of Arlington Cemetery with the caption “Happy Veterans Day Because You Made the Ultimate Sacrifice”. I’m not sure they got it. Of course we pay tribute to those who gave their lives but this day is also for those men and women in harms’ way now and who served and returned.
Similarly, a search of music for Veterans Day came up with page after page of anti-war songs. Some nice sentiments but again not sure the message is right for this occasion.
So there isn’t a lot of pure Veteran Day songs but take a listen and when you get a chance, thank a vet.
- “Ballad of the Green Beret” – Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler
- “Lili Marlene” – June Tabor
- “When I’m Gone” – 3 Doors Down
- “The Mandolin Man and His Secret” – Donovan
- “Soldier Boy” – The Shirelles
I was away last week in India and didn’t get the chance to recognize Joni Mitchell turning 70 on November 7th.
Back in August 2012 I blogged a brief retrospective on Joni’s work. I commented at the time that I believe that in centuries to come when people look back at the works of Mozart, Beethoven, and indeed Duke Ellington, Joni Mitchell’s works will be on that list. They will stand the test of time long after all of us are gone. I stand by that and can offer that if you need to experience something real, some music that gets to the core, take a new listen to any number of her releases. “Clouds” is always a good place to start. So are “Ladies of the Canyon” and “Court and Spark”.
Last August I offered some of my favorites for your listening pleasure. There are plenty more to choose from so I’ll take a second pass.
- “Edith and the Kingpin” – a rarer demo version from “Hissing…”. An impressive line-up of background vocals by David Crosby, Graham Nash, and James Taylor.
- “Free Man in Paris” – studio version from “Court and Spark” (1974). There’s also a cookin’ version on the live release “Shadows and Light” featuring Pat Metheny on guitar and Jaco on bass.
- Must see interview from June 2013 filmed at her home discussing her life and art.
- “Woodstock” (1969) – Joni did not perform at (or even attend) Woodstock but wrote this from experiences she heard from then boyfriend Graham Nash,
- “Both Sides Now” (1969) – written in 1967. Most famously recorded by Judy Collins. Inspired by a scene in Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow.
- “River” – one of my favorite JM songs. Deeply emotional and perfectly crafted.
Posted: October 31, 2013 in Garage Rock, Rock Music, Vocal Music
Tags: AC/DC, Best Halloween Songs, Bing Crosby, Disney, Fresh Prince, Halloween Music, Ozzy Osbourne, The Frantics, Will Smith
It’s hard to believe a year has gone by since I last posted about Halloween but here we are again. So dust off your Dracula cape, tighten the bolts on your neck, stock up on free candy and get ready to rock.
Last year I posted a two-part piece on both the Celtic origins of Halloween and the more modern cultural references to the Night of the Undead. This year I’m going with a mix that will give you something to chew on besides M&M’s.
- “Bark at the Moon” – Ozzy Osbourne. A well-known track from the Prince of Darkness himself.
- “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker, Jr. – Title track for the movie starring Bill Murray.
- “A Nightmare of My Street” – Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. A rare hip-hop treatment of Halloween by TFP himself – aka Will Smith.
- “Highway to Hell” – AC/DC. A very dark ride from the kings of down-under metal.
- “Headless Horseman” – Bing Crosby. Old Bing crooning for the 1949 Disney movie Legend of Sleepy Hollow
- “Werewolf” – The Frantics. A Canadian comedy troupe along the lines of Month Python.