Critic Joe Viglione reviews movies, books, DVDs, CDs, and has all sorts of opinions on a variety of things. The monthly Top 40 is a sort-of directory...
commentaries and essays expand the thought process on RockJournalistJoeVig.blogspot.com ...so the reviews on the Top 40 aren't final, they are just the starting point to more discussion. You can always contact Joe directly at visual_radio [@] yahoo.com
1)60's Summer Love - P.P. Arnold, Bobby Hebb, Sonny & Cher & more
2)Iggy Pop Live In San Fran 1981 - Iggy Pop
3)Rock & Roll Outlaw Tour Japan 2003 / David Peel
Electric and Unplugged versions
4)Destroy All Monsters Grow Live Monsters
5)David Kubinec Mainhorse Airline: The Geneva tapes
6)And I Write The Songs - Various Artists
7)Cy Curnin The Returning Sun
8)Marquee Club 25th Anniversary Various Artists
9)Jon Macey & Steve Gilligan - Everything Under The Sun
10)Quincy Jones Live In Montreux 1996
For the rest of this month's TOP 40 - Scroll here:
60's Summer Love
The First Cut Is The Deepest - P.P. Arnold
The "Sixties Summer Love" 50 track double CD from Universal Music Group UK (probably a release for sale on television) is as attractive as The Beach Boys "Endless Summer" lp. Really! Tracks by The Kinks, Herman's Hermits, Bobby Hebb and this lovely P.P. Arnold track will keep you glued to this collection.
2)Iggy Pop Live In San Fran 1981
It is tough to compete with The Stooges and Fun House when it comes to menacing rock & roll/ punk with as much ambiance as attitude. With a bootleg type feel, Live San Fran 1981 is still able to rise above the predictable with a few choice cuts to satisfy those devoted to Iggy's music. Opening with a decent "Some Weird Sin" from 1977's Lust for Life, this set is not comprehensive, and that it is so haphazard is actually a plus here. The obligatory "TV Eye" and "1969" are included, but outside of the title track to "Lust for Life," everything else will be obscure to people not acquainted with the Stooges' brand of mayhem. The core of the album is in support of the 1981 Arista release Party, and the second track, "Houston Is Hot Tonight," is one of the more manic and exciting cuts here. It sounds like a bizarre and revamped sequel to "White Light/White Heat" by the Velvet Underground with plenty of grunge to bring it over the top. "Rock & Roll Party," "Eggs on Plate," "Pumpin for Jill," and "Bang Bang" are the other titles from Party, those five tracks being half that album represented here on the twelve live tunes. "Dum Dum Boys," the only track from 1977's The Idiot, has eerie guitars and a sinister vocal that propels and differentiates it from most of the show on display in this package. Read more here:
3) R and R Outlaw Japan Tour 2003: Unplugged Version
David Peel/Lower East Side
If the companion CD to this disc, Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw Japan Tour 2003: Unplugged Version, is David Peel and this line-up of his Lower East Side Band being somewhat restrained, this combination of punk rock/psychedelic magic is mayhem and pandemonium in a very good way, out-of-control rock that is infectious and most welcome. The thirteen minute "Space - Free Tommy Chong" has guitars reaching into psychedelic outer space before the song descends into a repetitive "Free Tommy Chong" mantra, which is exactly what one suspects and expects from Peel. If you've followed this sixties/seventies rock revolutionary figure for all of ten minutes it takes little imagination to figure what his next lyric will be, but the surprise is in the playing. Behind the stoned-out village idiot persona the song titles conjure up is a clever and right-on rock and roll experience that has vibe, groove and that essential intuitive "something" that makes for repeated spins. read more here:
3 1/2)David Peel/Lower East Side R&R Outlaw Japan Tour 2003: Electric Version
4)Destroy All Monsters Grow Live MonstersReview by Joe Viglione
Originally in the VHS format from Lobsterland Videos,, this bizarre film makes the translation to DVD splendidly. With some material recorded between 1973 and 1977, the collage of images and exotic sounds is kind of like colorizing an original print of the movie Night of the Living Dead and putting it into a blender with Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack to Planet of the Apes. Intentionally made to be hard to describe, there's an eight-page interview with filmmaker and Destroy All Monsters bandmember Cary Loren, and it is helpful. If ever a compilation DVD needed extensive liner notes, this is it, and MVDVisual smartly puts the instructions on the back of this musical version of a chocolate chip cookie mix. For those who felt the Mentors El Duce Vita too immature and vile, and the Chesterfield Kings' Where Is The Chesterfield King? a victim of extreme haphazard disarray, the erratic vibrations splashed under these cinematic cuts give new meaning to the term "art for art's sake." Read More Here:
5)David Kubinec's MAINHORSE AIRLINE:Geneva TapesDavid Kubinec's MAINHORSE AIRLINE:Geneva Tapes
Review by Joe Viglione
David Kubinec released Some Things Never Change in 1978, an album on A & M produced by John Cale, and that brought him to the attention of Velvet Underground fans, but had these lost tapes from Mainhorse Airline had that major distribution perhaps history would be different. The Geneva Tapes feature ten performances from vocalist/songwriter Kubinec who, along with drummer Bryson Graham, were found by a young keyboard player and future member of The Moody Blues and Yes, Patrick Moraz, and his bassist/cellist friend Jean Ristori. If it sounds like a minor supergroup, well, it is as Bryson Graham went on to play with Spooky Tooth and Gary Wright and Ristori became a mastering engineer of note, working with many of the bands this music reflects. The unique combination of these musical gents generated some compelling and heady sounds that turn out to be a tremendous find. Though labeled "progressive rock", the truth is that Mainhorse Airline on these lost tapes from 1969/1970 prove a wonderfully psychedelic/progressive band with some heavy pop leanings. "What The Government Can Do For You" seems cut right out of 1960's San Franciscan rock while "Blunt Needles" recalls The Blues Magoos seeking out the heavier sounds of The Amboy Dukes. A Kubinec/Moraz composition, "The Passing Years", is heavily influenced by early Deep Purple by way of Procul Harum, but it's the colours of British psychedelia that is the frosting which makes the mix most engaging. Pale Sky is a paradox in a bit of a quandary. It could be the U.K. Kaleidoscope, The Small Faces or The Electric Prunes, a delightful combination of sixties psychedelia swirling through the speakers with an adventurous Moraz building eerie sounds that complement Kubinec's vocals perfectly, perhaps Eddy Pumer and Peter Daltrey's U.K. band Kaleidoscope influencing the music within, their Brit rock psychedelia edge added to this experimental progressive concoction. Read more here:
REMEMBER TO READ ROCK JOURNALIST JOE VIG'S BLOG AS WELL!http://rockjournalistjoevig.blogspot.com/
6)And I Write The Songs
Review by Joe Viglione
One of the most eclectic singer/songwriter compilations you'll ever encounter, And I Write The Songs: 34 Singer/Songwriter Classics works on many levels by gathering extraordinary original songs by a diverse group of original artists. The fact that the album that opens with Richard & Linda Thompson and closes with James Brown ought to tell you the mission - and in-between there's some unforgettable music like Joe Jackson's "It's Different For Girls" a step away from Kirsty MacColl's driving "Theres A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears Hes Elvis". Certainly Tim Hardin's "The Lady Came From Baltimore" is as deserving as Neil Sedaka's lilting "Our Last Song Together", but putting those titles kitty-corner to Roger Miller's "King Of The Road"...well... perhaps Hardin would've been the better segue. The CD is a strange mix of country singer/songwriters like Jim Stafford and Billy Ray Cyrus just a few cuts apart from Elton John's "Daniel" and Rod Stewart's "Mandolin Wind". Nils Lofgren, Chris De Burgh and Rosie Vela will, no doubt, be pleased to be included, as will Lloyd Cole, and where Steve Winwood's "While You See A Chance" has a relationship to Marianne Faithful's "Broken English", at least as label mates, they share little with Dillard & Clark. Read more here:
7)Cy Curnin The Returning Sun
On 2005's Mayfly, lead singer of the Fixx Cy Curnin had mainstream keyboardist Bill Champlin and guitarist Bruce Gaitsch (both of Chicago/Peter Cetera fame) working with him; but fear not, with Lou Reed/Marianne Faithfull bassist extraordinaire Fernando Saunders, and the equally "faithful" (to Curnin's solo work) Billy Ward, Curnin comes up with a super contemporary album of pop hooks and high-tech sound on this outing, The Returning Sun, released two years after Mayfly . Opening track "We Might Find It" nicks exactly from the "Don't You (Forget About Me)" Simple Minds riff, recycling it 22 years after that song hit number one. And if track two, "Remember Me When I'm Gone," isn't playing with the Simple Minds title ("...don't you forget about me when I'm gone..."), well, going to that source and bringing it back to the future is the trick, and this veteran artists pulls it off majestically. "Falling Apart Together" blends Europop with just a dash of some machine shop industrial to very good effect. Meanwhile, the title track eases up a bit, perhaps some techno/folk with island flavorings, reverse reggae under a very nice melody. Real staying power here, "The Returning Sun" possibly being a double entendre — some musical prodigal son returning to his roots — perhaps in light of what went down on the Mayfly disc!Read More Here:http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:fjfpxz9hldhe
8)MARQUEE CLUB 25th ANNIVERSARY ANGEL AIR!
It might seem overwhelming when music from Dr. John to Marillion and Status Quo all comes together under one roof, but as usual with Angel Air, this project is built with the fans in mind. Just pick any track, Ian Matthews showing the upstart post-new waver's how it's done on "Lonely Hunter", a terrific track followed quickly by an interview as are most of the tracks on this Derek Burbridge directed 15 track epic. Osibisa's "Paper Match" starts things off in a lively fashion, Harold Pendleton and Barbra Pendleton inserted immediately after with some interview footage and then into an historically sublime Chris Barber and Dr. John together on "Little Lisa Jane". Climax Blues Band offer up their hit, a terrific rendition of "Couldn't Get It Right", the footage getting a little dark, which only adds to the charm as the audio's great. A Phil Collins interview follows a unique "Welcome" from John Watts' The Cry while a Status Quo tape from 1972 is pure dynamite.
Read more here:
9)EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN Jon Macey & Steve Gilligan
Steve Gilligan and Jon Macey are two veterans of the Boston music scene and their debut cd as a duo, EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN, is a very interesting look into the respective psyches of singer/songwriters who spin the "England Dan & John Ford Coley"/"Seals & Crofts"/"Batdorf & Rodney" formula a different way. Under the production of Barry Marshall this half of the modern-day Fox Pass band utilize Gilligan's exotic instruments (Mandocello, Mandolin, Dobro, Harmonica) and Macey's sometimes cynical look on life (a kind of twisted optimism offered to make the listener think) to come up with a dozen tracks that are pretty evenly distributed.
Jon and Steve write five songs each and co-write two, you can't get any more democratic than that. For those who have seen the pair step out of their FOX PASS gigs and perform, it is a real treat. Unplugged is so in-vogue and will continue to be so as the new "older generation" takes Jonathan Richman's advice and turns it down. Though Fox Pass tends to explode onstage (and are one of the finer groups in all of New England), the intricacies of what these refined musicians are communicating are not easy to duplicate. It's also important to note since the release of the "Too Much Perspective" release from Macey's Parade in the 1990s, Jon Macey has unleashed a solo disc, a "debut" album from Fox Pass, and now this unique side-project. Is "Talking Metaphysical Blues" a laugh at Bob Dylan's expense or just taking the advice of National Lampoon's "Deteriorata" parody of "Desiderata" - with its final line of "Give Up!" With lines like "Soon as I was released/I went off to find myself a priest. But they churches they had all been sold, they're condos now or so I'm told; it's a cruel world." It's music worth exploring if you can withstand the angst. Is this the sequel to Mick Jagger's "The Girl With The Faraway Eyes"?
"Showed me some swine before which to throw my pearls..." Can't wait for the You Tube hit. their website is here:http://www.jonandsteve.com/home.html
Photos of Jon & Steve at the Kirkland 4/1/06 taken by Robert Barry Francoshttp://entertainment.webshots.com/album/551751987yQzRZK
QUINCY JONES LIVE AT MONTREUX 1996
The thing about Quincy Jones masterful approach to any musical genre he decides to dip into is that it is so professionally executed one can sit back in awe as well as be totally entertained and enthralled with the product. 50 Years in Music: Live at Montreux 1996 features a powerful orchestra that knows its place and allows guests like David Sanborn and Chaka Khan to be seen and heard in a new light. Sanborn is slow and steamy on "The Midnight Sun Will Never Set" while Khan gets to convincingly sing "Miss Celie's Blues" with a young Brody Buster on harmonica. "Q" conducts the Northern Illinois University Jazz Band under the direction of Ron Modell and the slick 24-page booklet is most essential reading to go along with this sublime listening/viewing experience. Dedicating to Ella Fitzgerald a wonderful "Shiny Stockings," Patti Austin comes out with a silky smooth voice, and the gigantic band suddenly draws back and sounds like they are performing at an intimate little 3 A.M. nightclub. Prominent drums with light guitar and bass and Jones bringing in other elements, horns, piano, in a very major way -- is as ensemble perfect as can be imagined. Phil Collins is able to shed his superstardom and show what a really great voice he has, and an appealing low-key personality so different from how he is presented in the world of mainstream progressive rock ... Read more here:http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:g9fwxzljldde
11)John BaglioWhat I Left Behind: New CD from John Baglio
By Joe Viglione/ email@example.com
Fri Feb 01, 2008, 03:22 PM EST Malden -
Malden - On his Web page, http://myspace.com/johnbaglio , John Baglio says his influences range from “Elton John to Rage Against the Machine to Mozart.” The fellow who fronted Malden’s legendary group “Tribal Wisdom” has indeed changed genres with a beautiful set of piano-based pop songs.
The new music replaces the hard-hitting grunge/dance fury that was that led to a riot on Lansdowne Street on August 2, 1996 when Tribal Wisdom played Aerosmith’s nightclub, The Mama Kin Music Hall. The Boston Red Sox couldn’t have been pleased with the all-out melee it caused, and some say it led to the band being blacklisted on the local club scene in spite of their large draw.
Fast forward a dozen years and the then-23 year-old lead singer is now a 35-year-old writer/producer with an impressive mix of sounds on the title track, “What I Left Behind.” It boasts elegant and clever piano riffs flush against explosive sounds, in a mix that translates well through the Myspace audio.
If the name Baglio sounds familiar, it’s perhaps the fact that John is a cousin of Salvatore Baglio, an East Boston guitarist/singer also with a new CD, “Memory Theater.” That Baglio performed at the Paradise Theater in a band called The Stompers back on June 29, 1978, when John was about 5 years old.
“Sal Baglio & The Stompers” went on to local fame with the hits “One Heart For Sale,” “Coast To Coast,” and “Never Tell An Angel.” The Malden connection is that The Stompers were represented by the late Mickey O’Halloran, and released a disc on O’Halloran’s “Botown Records” label, based here in this city.
In early January, John was visiting with his friend Gary Cherone before Cherone headed off to begin recording the next Extreme album and kick off the Extreme tour. Perhaps Extreme could pick up on “Deliverance” from the new John Baglio album, an uplifting spiritual number with strings and heavy acoustic guitar and drums.
The Malden Observer caught up with John Baglio on Jan. 8, the birthdays of Elvis Presley and David Bowie. read more here: http://www.wickedlocal.com/malden/news/x1059372650
THIS IS A TRILOGY OF ROLLING STONES DOCUMENTARIES FROM THE "UNDER REVIEW SERIES",
STONES 1962-1966, STONES 1967-69, KEITH RICHARDS
12)The Rolling Stones Under Review: 1962-1966 Review by Joe Viglione
With the immediacy of You Tube and other internet information streams it is tough to accept the tag-line "Ultimate review and crtical analysis of the music and career of The Rolling Stones" that adorns the back of this DVD package, The Rolling Stones Under Review 1962-1966. The big tease is the videoclips - gorgeous video clips - The Stones sitting on a stage while they present Howlin' Wolf on the TV show Shindig, Buddy Holly with a snippet of "Peggy Sue" and delicious Rolling Stones tracks on film, all too short, and spliced alongside the commentary from Melody Maker magazine's Chris Welch, R & B singer Chris Farlowe (who was also under Andrew Loog Oldham's umbrella and had hits with Jagger/Richards material), Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor - who had performed with Mick Jagger in the band Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys- and others. The Dave Clark-leased video of "Paint It Black" live on Ready Steady Go and bits of "It's All Over Now" from The Red Skelton Hour are not as satisfying as finding full renditions of songs on the internet. That none of the guests point out that Mick clearly mouths the "f" word during "It's All Over Now" on TV in 1964 is as shocking as the fact that the singer got away with it, no pause and rewind available in the day allowing the moment to vanish for a few decades. The lip-synched rendition on Skelton's program might have the record playing "I used to love her", but Mick says into the camera "I used to (obscenity) her", and that's definitely worthy of discussion, if not by Red Skelton well, perhaps from their former bodyguard, Tom Keylock, who is interviewed at length here. Also distressing for purists is that you can do a quick Google search and come up with Felix Aeppli's Ultimate Guide 1962-2002 which has the actual dates of those TV moments along with images of 45 RPM covers, different from those displayed on this DVD. Read more here:
13)Rolling Stones Under Review 1967-69http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:jifrxzyhldae
14)Keith Richards Under Review
This is an extraordinary two hour plus documentary on Keith Richards from Sexy Intellectual/Chrome Dreams which works much more effectively than the Rolling Stones Under Review 1962 - 1966 from the same company, probably because Keith is such an enigma as well as being the most fun personality/antagonist of the group. A stellar cast of rock critics and insiders help tell the story of the "pirate" guitarist along with music instructor/author Wolf Marshall who plays many famous Rolling Stones riffs throughout this production. Some of the same faces from the aforementioned 1962-1966 Rolling Stones Under Review return here - "original" Stones guitarist Dick Taylor, as he is called, former bodyguard Tom Keylock, about fourteen in all with an alphabetical by first initial group of biographies of the guests embedded as a bonus track. Divided into sixteen titled chapters narrator Thomas Arnold pulls the story together with his vocal authority, though the project tends to focus on The Stones more than the lead guitarist. Author Robert Greenfield has much to offer, his book Exile On Main Street: A Season In Hell With The Rolling Stones chock full of tales of Richards and company, biographer John Perry picking up the same theme while the discussion turns to Exile On Main Street. The director does a fine job of slipping pertinent clips of "Tumblin' Dice" and "Happy" into the mix as well as a very nice blend of Keith performing a solo rendition of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" which drifts into Wolf Marshall playing the riff and a key moment of Mick Jagger and the band performing part of a live version of the tune. Read more here:
These are all part of a trilogy of Rolling Stones DVDs from Music Video Distributors, much like "19th Nervous Breakdown", "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby" and "Mother's Little Helper" were all a trilogy of druggy singles from The Stones in 1966 (though not all in a row, Lady Jane and Paint It Black were in there too)
15)Edwin Starr Story
This documentary of soul singer Edwin Starr starts off with the man himself talking about Northern Soul phenomenon which he is so much a part of. It is just one of the many treats in this hour and forty-eight minute documentary on Starr's life and his music. "War" was such a monster hit in the U.S.A. in the summer of 1970 that it seemed to linger at #1 a lot longer than the 3 weeks credited it, but The Edwin Starr Story gives the viewer a more complete look at his extraordinary career and reinforces Edwin Starr's importance in the soul music firmament. Read more here:
16)Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now - Song Review by Joe V
For those purist fans of the early Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, a song like "We Built This City" took the path the Marty Balin-less group embarked on with "Jane" (a title Balin actually rehearsed with the group prior to his leaving for a solo career) farther into the arena rock wasteland. The four minutes and 29 seconds of "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" were a huge treat on an entirely different level. It's really more a collaboration between producer/arranger Narada Michael Walden and singers Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas than it is a Starship track. Lead guitarist Craig Chaquico is merely a guest star here, for this is a high-tech quagmire of bells, whistles, strings, and Walden's vision, building the melody into a rock-solid stomp, but for Starship, it is its zenith. If the song "Miracles" was Jefferson Starship at its most potent and creative, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" is selling out, in a good way. With this tune the band evolved into the counterculture Archies, but Slick remains the Queen of Cool, and she adds a dimension of integrity, even bringing the very best performance out of Thomas, who was all things a singer for Jefferson Starship should not have been. Slick and Thomas work in unison here, not the tapestry that was her marriage with Balin's voice on "Miracles" but an effortless combination like the guitars of Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, a doubling effect which intensifies the sentiment. Read more here:
Here's an interesting cover of it
Here's a strange "limewire" re-mix someone put on YouTube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=8xjJguOTD_g&feature=related
17 Foreigner Alive 'n' Rocking
Foreigner's Alive & Rockin' DVD is a slick presentation from Eagle Vision which features eight of the group's sixteen hits, a classic track - "Starrider" - from the first album and a "Juke Box Hero" medley which includes "Whole Lotta Love", a nice treat since son-of Led Zeppelin Jason Bonham is on drums. Those two titles coming after the drum solo that follows "Urgent" is also a nice touch. Here's the up and the down of it, beautifully recorded at the Bang Your Head!!! Festival in Balingen, Germany for the band's 30th anniversary in 2006 and with all the players doing their corporate rock best, the purist may be chagrined to find hard rock refugee Kelly Hansen filling in for original member Lou Gramm on a package that the average radio listener might think is the original group. Only Mick Jones remains from the thirty years that have passed and, though his playing is as solid and impressive as ever, those who appreciate and care about music integrity might want some kind of a warning beyond the six photos on the cover. Foreigner never had the massive cult charm of Jim Morrison and The Doors, and that means the mainstream leanings of this group makes the tribute-band approach less offensive, but still Hal Horowitz's same criticisms of the L.A. Woman Live DVD by The Doors Of The 21st Century come into play here. Read more:
18)Foreigner Unusual Heat
Review by Joe Viglione
Rick Willis on bass, Dennis Elliot playing drums, Mick Jones on guitar/keyboards, with the debut of Johnny Edwards from King Kobra and Buster Brown on vocals, and the 1991 version of Foreigner actually is better than one would expect. Ten of the 11 songs on the Unusual Heat CD are written by co-producer Terry Thomas, new singer Johnny Edwards, and band mainstay Mick Jones, and believe it or not, they still have that bombast and brash appeal of the group which once featured so many textures brought to life by the voice of Lou Gramm. The unusual thing about Unusual Heat is that it is actually a good product and quite listenable. Though it reportedly sold respectable numbers, this review copy was found in the dollar bargain section of a retail chain called Buck A Book, but many a great disc has been relegated to the cut-out bin. "Only Heaven Knows" kicks things off, and it could be the second cousin (or sequel) to Lou Gramm's solo smash from four years earlier, 1987's "Midnight Blue." Edwards is a stylish vocalist, and he, like the multiple replacements for Bad Company's Paul Rodgers, the Guess Who's Burton Cummings, and the Jefferson Starship's Grace Slick, has that tonal quality that can keep the public happy by keeping the sound consistent with what came before.
Read more here:
19)Hurricane "Over The Edge"
20)Bruce Sudano Rainy Day Soul
Rainy Day Soul is a complete and impressive collection of ten songs by a talented veteran who has never truly received his due. Though he and his doo-wop/disco band Brooklyn Dreams and wife Donna Summer co-wrote Summer's 1979 mega smash, "Bad Girls", Sudano and Summer also collaborating to write the country/pop hit "Starting Over Again" for Dolly Parton in 1980, this album is 180 degrees away from the sounds of all the recognizable chart action the artist has encountered over the years, a shimmering excursion into singer/songwriter folk/pop/blues with more of an emphasis on structure and message than mainstream gloss. That doesn't mean it is as raw as Gerry Goffin's obscure 1973 classic, It Aint Exactly Entertainment, the infectious hooks on "Hey Chattie", the tender "Where Would I Be" and other compositions cast that notion right aside. Sounding like another Christian singer/songwriter, Andy Pratt, opening song "Show Me Who You Are" is actually so much closer to latter-day Pratt that a blindfold test would definitely confuse fans of both artists. Thus the uptempo and spiritual nature of "Eagle In The Sky", featuring the saxophone of Jeffrey Scott Wills, should come as no surprise. A craftsman who has had chart action over the past thirty-four years prior to this solo effort, he was one of many collaborators on a 1969 Top 20 hit, "Ball Of Fire" with and for pop maestro Tommy James. That title is one of The Shondells most underrated gems and, not coincidentally, has the same sparkle that Alive and Kickin''s "Tighter, Tighter" featured, a 1970 classic rock record by a group which included this artist as keyboardist. But where the Alive 'n Kickin' and self-titled Brooklyn Dreams albums were both inconsistent, the music here is strong from top to bottom. Read more here:
Two years before Brooklyn Dreams would hit on Casablanca with their Donna Summer duet, "Heaven Knows," this 1977 self-titled debut appeared on Jimmy Ienner's Millennium Records imprint. Summer makes an appearance here as well on "Old Fashioned Girl," a song that is indicative of most of the material on this set, not extraordinary but respectable and quite listenable. There's nothing to jump out and grab you like the immaculate "Tighter, Tighter," the Tommy James tune Bruce Sudano hit with when he was a member of Alive 'n Kickin' in 1970, but the album works much better as a total listening experience than had the Alive & Kicking LP, displaying innovations the previous band was attempting to find. Interesting to note that Tommy James himself hit on the Millennium label in 1980 with "Three Times in Love" while Bruce Sudano returned to Ienner's fold in 1981 with a solo disc, Fugitive Kind. The material wanders a bit stylistically, but is consistently good — "Hollywood Circles" a bit of a departure from the near disco of this set, a rock & roll tune of sorts that finds itself in direct contrast with more mainstream-of-the-day titles like "Another Night at the Tango." It's no "Puttin' on the Ritz," but works in its own way. Joe Esposito, Eddie Hokenson, and Sudano are adept at blending their voices in an interesting disco-doo wop fashion, a good concept and the key thing that gives the group its identity. Tony Maiden of Rufus shows up on "Sad Eyes" (not the excellent 1979 Robert John hit) and Skip Konte's production is certainly slick enough. It's just that much of it is dated decades after the fact, the group failing to make an impact outside of their affiliation with Summer. Read more here:
22 Alive And Kicking Alive 'n Kickin'
Review by Joe Viglione
It is amazing that an album with such an extraordinary Top Ten single as the Tommy James/Bob King composition "Tighter, Tighter," by a group with superb vocals, is filled with such half-baked and poorly performed tunes. Although the cover says in big bold letters "Produced by Tommy James and Bob King for Tommy James Ventures," the difference in performance from track to track when played next to the hit, "Tighter, Tighter," is too distinct, so much so it is startling. The album says in very fine print "arrangements by Alive & Kicking"; what it sounds like is that the band produced themselves, and slapped a Tommy James production on the first track. The vocals on each of the songs are all precise and quite soulful, it's just that the future Mr. Donna Summer Bruce Sudano has material that isn't up to Tommy James' standards. The drums on each track don't compare to the hit, with guitar playing that is even worse. "Mother Carey's Chicken" is an indication of talent wasted on weak material. There is one brief moment that almost equals the hit single, a 30-second track by Sudano and Wilson entitled "Sunday Morning." It's terrific, sounding like a hook with no song, what a shame. This isn't the tune by Spanky & Our Gang, and perhaps it's no coincidence they chose that title; this band, vocally, has a lot in common with Elaine Spanky McFarlane. Sudano had another brief flirt with chart success when his Brooklyn Dreams performed on wife Donna Summer's Top Five hit "Heaven Knows" in 1979. Tommy James re-recorded "Tighter Tighter" on his 1976 Fantasy Records album In Touch. A good song is a good song, but even Tommy James READ MORE HERE:
23)Something Special! The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells
Tommy James & the Shondells
It's hard to conceive that seven of these 12 titles were Top 40 hits because "Gettin' Together," "I Like the Way," "Say I Am (What I Am)," and even the Shondells title track to their second album "It's Only Love" are not as radio memorable as "Mirage," "I Think We're Alone Now," and "Hanky Panky" (rumor has it some may have been "jukebox hits," added to jukeboxes but not necessarily radio play lists). The nearly a cappella "Out of the Blue" is a strange opener and shows the group's vocal prowess, a serious rock band coming off like a bubblegum Beach Boys. One can't quip with producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell crafting a sound for this group; they worked on everything here except "Say I Am (What I Am)" and "Hanky Panky" off the first Bob Mack/Henry Glover-produced disc (Mack co-wrote the second hit, "Say I Am" with James — or so it says on the original disc; it is credited to George & Barbara Tomsco on this compilation) and Henry Glover's two productions from the second album, Tommy James' original "Don't Let My Love Pass You By" and the Ritchie Cordell hit "It's Only Love." The Top 25 "I Like the Way" is a wonderful slice of '60s-style British pop and had this follow-up hit to "Mirage" given the band a Small Faces direction, it may have helped to avoid the bubblegum stigma songs like "Love's Closin' in on Me" helped them obtain. It sounds more like Tommy Roe than Tommy James, but, despite having been written by James, bassist Mike Vale, and producers Gentry & Cordell, it still rocks straight from the Paul Revere & the Raiders school of power pop. Read more here:
24)Gerry Goffin "It Ain't Exactly Entertainment"
Seventeen songs on a double LP released in 1973 are not what fans of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's '60s pop would expect. Two recording studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, gave birth to this earthy and energetic statement. The comparison to Bob Dylan is inevitable, especially on "Reverend Bottom's Tojo Saloon," a five-minute-and-16-second party which sounds like Gerry is stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues. But the tongue-in-cheek protest of "Cherokee Medicine" is much too quaint to be as boastful as Zimmerman, Al Lester's fiddle venturing off in its own direction as the song concludes. Longtime Carole King bassist Charles Larkey co-wrote the first tune, "Down on the Street," though he's not credited as a performer here. "Chicago (You)" has a funky barroom attitude with keyboard fills that supplement Goffin's lecture. "Chicago You" is a coded message that is hard to decipher, but fun just the same, making the title of this album rather misleading. It is very entertaining to hear the guy behind so many Top 40 hits laying back and jamming on tunes that are as short as the minute-and-21 second "Sail Away Ladies (P.D.)" to the 12-minute-31-second groove of "Set Job." There are revelations all over these four sides, a semi-gospel flavor on "Maryland Again" and Goffin sounding like a very drunk Ian Hunter in a setting that Ian has yet to visit.
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25 INCREDIBLE STRING BAND LIVE AT THE LOWRY
26 JONI MITCHELL PAINTING WITH WORDS & MUSIC 1999/2004
27 Neil Young UNDER REVIEW 1976-2006
This release from Sexy Intellectual, part of the Chrome Dreams group of companies, is more in-depth than some outside biographies of recording artists, perhaps because Chrome Dreams is the name of the "lost"/unreleased/bootlegged Neil Young album and no doubt where these devotees got their corporate handle. It is a follow-up to the companion DVD Under Review 1966-1975 and covers the 30 years of Young's career that fall between 1976-2006 -- triple the span of time explored by the first disc. Mandy O'Neale narrates this "journey through the past" over 14 chapters alongside eight name journalists including Robert Christgau and Nigel Williamson -- who are both in conflict over the artist's Trans album: Williamson calling it "appalling," Christgau praising the disc by saying "he made only one good album during the '80s years and that was Trans." Clinton Heylin, Bill Friskics-Warren, and others help conduct this investigation and do a good job of holding the viewer's interest over the hour and 20 minutes of chatter. Neil Young's repertoire, like that of David Bowie, is so complex it begs for a bit of cataloging, and that's what these reviewers do a good job of, this "Under Review" a solid attempt at putting Young's vast catalog into perspective. Read more here:http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE47319DD49A87520E89B2C45F6A672FE19D650DA971F28455A92B63E45913E65CA46F68BA5DBB677AB71B0FD2EA45243DAC0EB55F6D86F2D5DF0&sql=10:0ifqxzthldhe
28 Modern Times Jefferson Starship
This second edition of the Mickey Thomas-era Jefferson Starship/Starship polished '80s rock is actually a weird hybrid which you could call psychedelic metal. For fans of the fragments that were Sunfighter, Baron von Tollbooth & The Chrome Nun, Manhole, and other experimental Airplane offshoots, this material is much too mainstream for its own good. But it isn't the eminently dislikable Mickey Thomas who is the major culprit as much as it is producer/engineer Ron Nevison, whose homogenization of records from Ozzy Osborne to Heart displayed a glaring lack of creativity, inspiration, or sense of anything remotely resembling art. Yes, Marty Balin actually practiced "Jane" with the group prior to his leaving the Freedom at Point Zero sessions, and had he stayed onboard, the approach may have been a more progressive folk-rock. It was Larry Cox who engineered from Dragon Fly to Spitfire, co-producing the music with the very capable band. Minus Balin and Cox, the true evolution of the Airplane sound is mutated and muffled on Modern Times. Critic William Ruhlmann noted that "Stairway to Cleveland" is "as gutsy a statement of purpose as any in rock," but that tune and the title track, two ofPaul Kantner's three contributions, are the only ones with elements that stay true to the band's original mission. "Stairway to Cleveland" follows the dramatic and techno-orchestrated "Alien," which at least is better than the generic "Free" preceding it, or the second cousin to "Jane," which is "Mary." It means you have to sift through the Mickey Thomas/Ron Nevison sterilization to find the advertised product: Jefferson Starship music. Read More Here:
29 BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN UNDER REVIEW
30 PATTY LARKIN WATCH THE SKY
31.UNNATURAL AXE on The Music Museum of New England http://www.mmone.org
In between the New Wave and the hardcore movement of Boston's 1970s came the pure punk rock of Unnatural Axe, arguably New England's most visible ambassadors of the genre. Dorchester natives, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Rich Parsons and lead guitarist Tommy White (a.k.a. Tommy "White Trash") got into playing together after discovering what they felt was the perfect mix of rock and humor - the Dictators' first album. After "rescuing" bassist Frank Dehler from The Berklee College of Music they began to rehearse in Richie's basement. In their song "Three Chord Rock" you can find their mission statement "Someday we'll be big and play out of state - Wow!" The group officially formed in 1977 and recorded a 4 song E.P. released on Varulven which became an instant sensation due to Parsons' twisted masterpiece, a punk rock song influenced by the film "They Saved Hitler's Brain". Read more here:
32)The Buzzcocks Lest We Forget
While the Buzzcocks were on tour in 1979 and 1980, Joan McNulty, the publisher of their official fan magazine Harmony in My Head (and then-girlfriend of singer Pete Shelley), taped all their shows on cassette the way Judy Garland's husband Mickey recorded her final shows. Decades after these recordings were made, their value is obvious. After lengthy legal haggling between 1982 and the date of release, 1988, Neil Cooper of Reach Out International records was able to issue this very worthwhile series of 19 songs culled from various live performances on the tour. Who better to compile the music than the woman who gave attention to the group before anyone else in the U.S.A.? The cassette tapes were brought up to Blue Jay Studios in Carlisle, MA, the place where the Joe Perry Project, Aimee Mann, Phil Collins, and others worked, and the material was transferred from the master cassettes into organized form. Read more here:
33)JAY & THE AMERICANS SUNDAY & ME
Nine months before "Cherry Cherry" would launch the career of Neil Diamond as a singer, he had his first Top 20 chart record as a songwriter, "Sunday and Me," the leadoff track to Jay & the Americans' album of the same name. Continuing with the Spanish-flavored sound found on 1964's "Come a Little Bit Closer" and 1965's "Cara Mia," the light pop comes in with flamenco guitar, Jay Black's familiar voice, and bullfight trumpets. "Granada" also features old-world instrumentation and Black emulating an operatic Mario Lanza more than the teen idol sound of the day. Jay & the Americans were a talented bunch, Kenny Vance and Marty Kupersmith (listed as Marty Sanders here) adding much to the mix, though the vocal harmonies are never as dense as their contemporaries, the Four Seasons. Just listen to how Vance, Kupersmith, Sandy Deane, and Howie Kane embellish Jay's voice on their Top 25 version of Roy Orbison's "Crying." The two tunes that hit from this 12-song collection did so between December of 1965 and June of 1966, part of ten Top 40 entries by the group from 1962-1970. Standards like Carl Sigman's "'Til" and Stephen Sondheim's "Maria" display a vocal prowess that Gary Puckett would also bring to radio beginning a couple of years after this. Classics IV producer Buddy Buie contributes "I Miss You (When I Kiss You)," while a J. Phillips/J. Stewart title, "Chilly Winds" — sounding like a country predecessor to Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talking" — is also included, Black's voice dominating while the doo wop sound is kept to a minimum.read more here:
34 Apollo Saturday Night
by Joe Viglione
On November 13, 1963, as veteran producer/liner-notes writer Bob Altshuler explains, "Atco microphones were positioned on the Apollo stage" after the showing of a film preceding this concert, which began "a few minutes before twelve o'clock." Decades later, this material by Doris Troy, Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, the Falcons, the Coasters, and Ben E. King remains a vital document of a special time when entertainment was pure and remarkable. Opening with Wilson Pickett and Eddie Floyd's version of the Falcons, the tone is set for the album, sticking to deeper cuts from the various artists' catalogs and shying away from their hits, with the exception of "Walking the Dog" from Rufus Thomas and headliner Ben E. King's "Stand By Me." The two Otis Redding tracks were taped more than a year and a half before his first Top 40 hit, while the former Apollo Theater usherette who follows Redding on this set, the marvelous Doris Troy, was riding high with "Just One Look" on the charts a few months before this taping. That gem isn't here, but her unique interpretation of "Misty" and her own "Say Yeah" are. Every one of the performances is top-notch, concluding with a finale where all concerned do a short rendition of Ray Charles' "What I'd Say." Essential entertainment.
35 Ray Manzarek Carmina Burana
This is a staggeringly different piece of music for those who only know the Ray Manzarek of "Light My Fire" or "L.A. Woman" fame. The 1983 collaboration with Philip Glass and Kurt Munkacsi holds many revelations. As the post-Morrison Doors splintered off into various side projects, Manzarek's notable The Golden Scarab and The Whole Thing Started With Rock & Roll Now It's Out of Control to the Krieger/Densmore schizophrenic unit known as the Butts Band, as well as guitarist Krieger's jazz-flavored solo discs, the journeymen musicians opened windows beyond the music of the Doors. Carmina Burana's power emerges from the fusion of musical forms, heralded by Manzarek's sincere approach to the project. The liner notes give an explanation of German composer Carl Orff's rediscovery in 1935 of the Medieval poems found in 1803 from 13th century "renegade monks and wandering poets." The modern-day minstrels that Manzarek and Glass are add a contemporary twist to the music Allen Lannon helped bring to America in 1954, when it was first performed on these shores in Boston. There are seven primary musicians who back the chorus, which features ten principal singers conducted by Michael Riesman. The music is intense, evocative, and highly spiritual, with Larry Anderson's drums adding something the rebels from hundreds of years ago would probably be proud of. read more here:
36)Pendragon "And Now Everybody To The Stage..."
This very classy limited-edition triple-disc box entitled And Now Everybody to the Stage... features an 18-song, 15-track DVD with bonus material to boot — 240 minutes total running time along with two audio discs containing 146 minutes (of the same material). Filmed and recorded on May 22, 2006, at the Wyspianski Theatre in Katowice, Poland, this music from the Believe 2006 tour finds the band rocking out with a harder edge. For a group that is a cult favorite, And Now Everybody to the Stage... is an enormous package usually reserved for more commercial acts, the set including a four-page booklet and eight-panel fold-out box. The slick textured presentation is a follow-up to the 2002 DVD Live...At Last and More, taking things a step further. Drummer Fudge Smith is replaced here by Joe Crabtree, but few if any non-fans will notice, as the music is as pristine and exotic as ever, culminating in a tremendous version of "Am I Really Losing You?" The song is so sublime here that it screams out FM radio hit, although that kind of creature is a rare bird in the new millennium. Frontman/songwriter Nick Barrett is clearly enjoying himself re-exploring titles like "Nostradamus," "As Good as Gold," "Breaking the Spell," and "Masters of Illusion," all found on the earlier DVD Live...At Last and More, only this time out the handsome and youthful Crabtree adds some new energy to the venerable but aging group. Read more here:
37)Pendragon Past and Presence
39)Jack's Waterfall - Jack Licitra
Jack Licitra has constructed an album of adult pop entitled Calling All Angels -- smooth and consistent music flowing like water moving effortlessly downstream. The moniker Jack's Waterfall becomes a perfect name for the group backing him up on these smartly crafted essays in song. You'll hear Terence Trent D'Arby in "Spirit Voices" and "The Hero"; some Jackie DeShannon in the opening track, "Vision"; and definite Steve Winwood rhythms and thoughts permeating "Believe," with the "come on take me higher" ending. Tuba, trumpet, slide guitar, congas, bells, and "assorted percussion" help build foundations under each song, delivering Licitra's positive communications. "Song of Hope" continues the message of holding on, a theme scattered throughout the album with its cover of ghosts embracing in a living room with windows illuminated, the inside of the lyric booklet like a personal ad for angels: "Calling All Angels!...Creative universe seeks talented individuals to fill it with beauty and hope." It is interesting how John R. Phillips' CD Revival Time is recorded as smoothly as this, but holds a stark and negative message, while Jack's Waterfall is like some antidote, hands reaching up out of the darkness for a life preserver. Although each song has dynamics, the album itself becomes too much of a good thing, the music on "Vuelve" a loop of melody and repeating chorus, cut from the same mold of "Vision" and "Spirit Voices." Read more here:
40)JOHN R PHILLIPS - Revival Time
Revival Time is a disturbing but terrific production and presentation by John R. Phillips, not to be confused with the late John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas. One really doesn't want to venture where lyricist Blake Silverstrom is going with nine of the ten poems he has constructed, and Phillips' eloquent readings also make the listener wonder what the motivating force is here. The singer's voice is close to Meatloaf in texture, and "Conversations in Styrofoam" could be right out of a censored version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show; it is dark, it is frightening, it is not something you'll want to play often. "Art Kills takes this concept, not a step further, but sideways, where it sounds like the protagonist is extinguishing the life from his lover. The entire album isn't this devastating but, though the artist and his collaborators could have moved into a Christopher Cross direction (the singer's voice is able to go from Mr. Loaf to Mr. Cross), a ditty like "I'm on the Cover of Newsweek, Mom" isn't about the celebration of success, but more like the despair of a parent whose child happens to be John Hinckley, Jr. or Timothy McVeigh. The dark joke here is that these tunes could be uplifting and wonderful, but the artists paint a different sort of picture. Read more here:
OVER 200 JOE VIG REVIEWS OF RECORDS UP ON eBAY
41 Bonus JONI MITCHELL SPECIAL EDITION
42)KISS CAT TALES
Kiss drummer Peter Criss sits down, unmasked, and chats to fans at a convention called the Philadelphia Meet and Greet held on January 4, 2003.
There's about 62 minutes from the event taken with a hand-held camera that is annoyingly shaky. Criss can be heard as he speaks into a microphone but some of the audience questions are indiscernible. As the Kiss Army are a rabid bunch, and Kiss fan conventions are somewhat fun, this DVD is aimed directly at the faithful. The name Peter Criss isn't even mentioned on the packaging, instead there's a kinda sorta Kiss "logo" and the four band members in the background with "the Catman" front and center. A little bit more description would be helpful - the producers don't even tell you the exact date of this event, it's found via Google search and a ticket giveaway to a February 28, 2003 Kiss concert in Melbourne, Australia. Read More Here!