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 BULA QUO!!!!
Status Quo Bula Bula
Our #1 single this month is "Bula Quo!" from the double disc by Status Quo! Amazing stuff.
Listen on YouTube:
for people who loved "Pictures of Matchstick Men" this isn't a return to psychedelic land, it is more like a wonderful sequel to the Beach Boys KokoMo in another dimension!
Pictures of Matchstick Men
#2 Stacie Rose
Stars, Stripes and Milestones
A song like “Adore” comes along once in a great while, chock
full of a variety of hooks, compelling guitar riff and uplifting chorus. One can read so many things into the lyric,
which is what great pop songs are made of.
It’s an extraordinary gem among nine other solid compositions from a
seasoned professional who takes her music to another level. Rose has always delivered the goods, but
this new disc shows an authority along with the progression. “Picture Perfect” could fit onto the debut of
the songstress, 2002’s This Is Mine or even 2005’s Shadow & Splendor, but
in this setting it works more effectively.
Evoking the stylings of Francoise Hardy (the yeh yeh girl
from Paris), early Nico (on Immediate records), the London releases from
Marianne Faithful - that wonderful 60s pop/rock fused with folk that emerged in
the psychedelic era and beyond – all engaged and choreographed in modern
fashion for this polished “fan-funded” release.
“Mine” (from 2002’s This is Mine) got airtime on AMC (American Movie
Classics) and “Run Out” on 2008’s Shotgun Daisy featured Shawn Mullins with
Stacie Rose, gave the material a wider platform; eleven and five years
(respectively) later the carefree air of “Something To Sing About” shows an
artist’s pure love of creating melodies and words that have an appeal that
crosses genres expanding on her earlier success in a unique and inspiring way. “Earth spins like a top” the singer opens
the CD with as new revolutions happen from Egypt to the Far East, the first
track, “Speak Your Mind,” exploring
topics from Global Warming to everyday conversation.
The cover art to Stars, Stripes and Milestones is a bit of a
jolt, not indicative of the thought-provoking ideas told in an easy-going
fashion inside the package. You can’t tell a book by its cover, and in this day
and age of downloads it may not be as much of a distraction as it would have
been in the days of vinyl and cassette. “Missing
Peace” is a great double entendre with a Nick Lowe flow to it that lends itself
to airplay quite naturally. Lines like “a
ghost ripped out my heart” showing up from left field is a cleverness found in
(and indicative of) many of the musical essays included on the ten tracks. Rose keeps the listener aware with imagery
that shifts along with the chord changes.
“Lucky” is a new take on the old adage, count your blessings while “Forever
on the Mend” is pensive and reflective.
Stars, Stripes and Milestones is a classy combination of awareness, the
imparting of knowledge and entertainment, a very pleasurable experience with
Rose abandoning previous restrictions and breaking new ground. An artist at the
peak of her powers creating a mix that is strikingly original.
LIFE OUT LOUD
While veteran guitarist Ricky Byrd (Susan, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts) puts his story out to the world on Lifer, and with Iggy Pop noting his Lust for Life, the venerable vocalist from Paul Revere & The Raiders issues his colorful very Nuggets-influenced Life Out Loud - a splashy, loud rock & roll excursion into the world you find on Little Steven's radio program on Sunday nights. This is a record for Lindsay's hardcore fan base of 60s aficionados and he gives them everything they want and more. From the jangly Chesterfield Kings-styled "Baby Come Back" with its inverted Kinks riff to more splashy chord changes on "Easy Street," nothing here goes over 4:10 (the song "New Thing," track 11, which is like the Psychedelic Furs meets subdued Marilyn Manson - think: "The Dope Show"). (I Love) "Everything About You" rolls off of Mark's lips in sleek fashion while "Rainy Day Children" provides a shimmering ballad perfect for summer radio. "Ghost of a Girl" crosses glitter with rockabilly while "Like Nothing You've Ever Seen" takes Jim Morrison's "20th Century Fox" lyrical riff ("Got the world locked up inside a plastic box" vs. "I can give you everything that you need") over an "I'm Not Your Steppingstone" riff. These are little sonic bites of Sky Saxon imaginings, "Let's Fly Away" is the Seeds song that the Seeds never got to write and play. "I Can't Slow Down" is more stripped down new and revived form of rockabilly while "Don't Stop" is another blast of B-side magic. "Merry Go Round," along with "Rainy Day Children" perhaps the tracks that work best for me, not just because they are ballads, but because that great Mark Lindsay vocal sound we love and appreciate really breaks through on them the best. A very fun record by a master of fun.
"I Believe In Love" by Dead Boots (formerly TAB) has a definite 60's British rock slant a Yardsbird-ish"Train Kept A Rollin'" kind of period piece, primal guitars with a Keith Relf matter-of-fact vocal that could have fit nicely on the Small Faces classic Ogden's Nutflake Gone (actually, Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake, I just think Ogden's Nutflake Gone has a better ring to it!).
Bassist Adrian Perry's lead voice on "Saturdays" is reminiscent of the early Amboy Dukes when that group's guitarist,Ted Nugent, was probably younger than Adrian and brother/guitarist Tony Perry, drummer/vocalist Ben Tileston and guitarist/vocalist Lou Jannetty. There's a terrific video of the song on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlR6uomYc7o if you'd like to see the fun element the band brings to its music. "I See You Coming" is, again, experimental a la the aforementioned Small Faces from the Ogdens' era. This isn't an ensemble intent on being part of the current crop of here-then-gone disposable sounds; this is authentic stuff. Adrian Perry's earlier solo work - like former Boston singer Brad Delp - indulged heavily in Beatles' influences. Those influences are still there, so submerged in the harder-edged pop of "I Believe In Love" and "Saturdays."
Available on iTunes
Ricky Byrd LIFER
Great idea for a lead-off single. Tumultuous. Love the creative stereo mixes on these.
Interesting opening, sparkling pop and innovative production.
All I want
Percussive opening, very cool.
The Dope Show - Marilyn Manson
THE AMBOY DUKES
The debut album by the Amboy Dukes should be high on collectors' lists.
Fusing the psychedelia of the early Blues Magoos with Hendrix riffs and
British pop, the band which launched the legend of Ted Nugent has
surprises galore in these lost grooves. More experimental than Ambrose
Slade's Ballzy -- could you conceive of the Cat Scratch Fever guy
performing on Peter Townshend's "It's Not True" and Joe Williams'
classic "Baby Please Don't Go"? The latter tune was the flip side of the
group Them's single "Gloria," but Ted Nugent and the boys totally twist
it to their point-of-view, even tossing a complete Jimi Hendrix nick
into the mix. The Amboy Dukes issued this as the single backed with
their sitar-laden and heady "Psalms of Aftermath." "Baby Please Don't
Go" is extraordinary, but isn't the hit single that "Journey to the
Center of the Mind" would be from their follow-up LP titled after that
radio-friendly gem. Producer Bob Shad's work with Vic Damone, Dinah
Washington, and Sarah Vaughan wasn't what prepared him for the
psychedelic hard rock of "Colors," a song with some of the
experimentation Nugent would take further on the Survival of the
Fittest, Live and Marriage on the Rocks/Rock Bottom albums further down
the road. Those latter-day Dukes projects took themselves too seriously
and got a bit too out there. The fun that is the Amboy Dukes take on the
Ashford/Simpson/Armstead standard "Let's Go Get Stoned"; it's the kind
of thing that could have stripped away the pretension of the
post-Mainstream discs Read more here:
Survival of the Fittest LIVE - Ted Nugent and Amboy Dukes
After three albums on Mainstream Records and a Top 20 smash with "Journey to the Center of the Mind," Ted Nugent
brought his new aggregation to Polydor(the late Lillian Roxon claimed
there were 35 personnel changes prior to their first and only hit). This
second album on that label (and before they would jump to Warner and
eventually Epic), was recorded live at The Eastowne Theater in Detroit,
MI, July 31 and August 1, 1970. A prime candidate for re-release with
bonus tracks, the full hit is not here; the single disc contains six
tracks, including the 21-minute-and-20-second epic "Prodigal Man,"
written by Nugent
and sung by keyboardist Andy Solomon. Solomon handles the majority of
the vocals on this album, with drummer K.J. Knight vocalizing on the
bluesy "Mr.Jones Hanging Party" and songwriter/guitarist/focal point Nugent
doing the chores on "Papa's Will." Solomon provides nice sax on "Mr.
Jones' Hanging Party," showing the considerable talent he brought to the
table. What's this live disc like? The riff to "Journey to the Center
of the Mind" opens the album inside the instrumental collaboration
written by the group, "Survival of the Fittest," and it is a big tease.
Unlike the bad mutations of the Electric Prunes, H.P. Lovecraft, and the
most blatant example, the Velvet Underground's pseudo-record, Squeeze,
this is the leader of an original group as he goes through musical
changes. "Rattle My Snake" is certainly more in the Pat Travers
vein than the psychedelic intrigue of the original (on record anyway)
Amboy Dukes, and though this recording is live and has that live
excitement, it feels more like a new album, with none of the tracks
appearing on previous discs. "Papa's Will" is Ted Nugent
stretching out a riff that -- if it were brought up in the mix -- could inspire Black Sabbath. Read more here
RIP Richie Havens
Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts
Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Producer Denny Diante
had hit with Maxine Nightingale
the year before this effort, and the thought of bringing back the gal who sang "Angel of the Morning" was certainly a noble idea. The self-titled album,Merrilee Rush
, opens with "Save Me," sounding very much like the melody of Air Supply
's 1980 hit "Lost in Love," making one wonder which was written first. Tom Snow
's "You" was a hit for Rita Coolidge
in 1978, so Diante
had the right concept, and though the performance and sound is pretty good,Coolidge
's production and spirit were deserving of the Top 25 status this song eventually garnered. Rush
sounds as mature on this outing as Marianne Faithfull
does in the passage of time between "As Tears Go By" and her comeback, Broken English
's voice is a bit tattered but charming on "Easy, Soft and Slow," one of the album's finest and most majestic moments. The star looks pretty on this album cover, perhaps a bit more seductive than she appears on her Turnabouts debut nine years prior. It's too bad she didn't cover Donna Weiss
and Jackie DeShannon
's "Bette Davis Eyes" instead of releasing a carbon copy of her 1968 Top Ten hit "Angel of the Morning." Weiss
had written for the original Rush
album on Bell nine years earlier, as had Mark Lindsay
, Joe South
, and John Phillips
. There were also multiple Chip Taylor
songs on her debut, and maybe a cover of Taylor
's composition for Janis Joplin
, "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)," would have been what the doctor ordered for this. Instead they seek redemption and almost get it by opting for a beautiful Christine McVie
ballad from the sublime Bare Trees
album by Fleetwood Mac
. "Spare Me a Little of Your Love" should have been a hit for McVie
prior to 1975's "Over My Head," and though the choice of material is fine, the hard rock guitar strips away the elegance of the original version. The gospel voices give this a Southern rock feel, not conducive to the chart success enjoyed by Helen Reddy
and the aforementioned Rita Coolidge
, and too drawn out to reach the market that embraced Linda Ronstadt
's version of "Heatwave," although this tries to go in that direction Read more here:
TOM DICKIE & THE DESIRES
Tom Dickie reinvented his formula after the failure of Susan on RCA. He brought half of Boston's underground band Fox Pass on board -- guitarist Mike Roy and singer/songwriter/poet Jon Macey(formerly Jon Hall, who changed his name to Macey to avoid confusion with John Hall, leader of the group Orleans). "Downtown Talk" kicks off the Competition LP
and remains the best song by this pop band. Resplendent with drug
references, "Downtown Talk" has a hard-hitting riff and catchy melody.
The title track's calypso feel is a nice diversion from the rest of the
LP. "Waiting, Waiting" has a boss riff and is perhaps the album's best
performance Read more here:
THE ELEVENTH HOUR
TOM DICKIE AND THE DESIRES
With a crisper sound than its predecessor, the Competition LP, Ed Sprigg's production of The Eleventh Hour helps the revamped Tom Dickie & the Desires, but not enough. Singer/songwriters Tom Dickie and Jon Macey as well as guitarist Mike Roy are all playing synthesizers, replacing Gary Corbettfrom the first album. Mickey Currey has departed, and Chuck Sabo handles the drums and percussion on this disc. With the band having a chance to jell since Competition,
the songs are more concise, perhaps even a little more determined, yet
they are hampered by the big '80s sound, which was not what these pop
fellows were about. "Victimless Crime" is probably the best-known song
from this collection, presenting the baseless philosophy that drug abuse
creates harm only to the addict and no one else suffers effects from
Read more here:
SUSAN FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN
the hard rock band that got the gigs at the Rat in Boston in the '70s.
Their thunderous sound was created in no small part by John Kalishes, who could have passed as Leslie West's little brother.Kalishes would join the late Ben Orr to create a Led Zeppelin-meets-the Cars group toward the end of the '90s. It is that powerful sound that is missing from Falling in Love Again. The original Susan was
documented on the Live at the Rat album and those two tracks give a
hint of their significance. By the time they landed a management
contract with Tommy Mottola, Ricky Byrd had replaced Kalishes and despite Byrd's enormous talent -- he would eventually join Joan Jett & the Blackhearts -- the change came too quickly. This album sounds like a band in transition rather than a strong debut. Byrd shines on "A Little Time," one of two strong tracks on side one, but the band's performance on another Byrdcomposition, "I Was Wrong," is downright embarrassing for a group once so mighty. "Marlene," which features Marlene Dietrich, and "Falling in Love Again" have that "Be My Baby" drum sound and comes closest to what Susan was all about.
Read More Hear
Hear the original "Right Away" by Paul Frank's Head over Heels
LIVE AT THE RAT featuring SUSAN performing "Right Away"
2001 the legendary building that housed Boston's infamous Rat was
demolished, but this recording (catalog #528, same as the address for
the establishment on Commonwealth Avenue in the heart of Boston) remains
as evidence of what transpired in that "cellar full of noise." Inspired
by Hilly Kristal's
Live at CBGB's, this is truly the companion double LP to that disc on
Atlantic, though the Boston compilation came close but failed to obtain
major-label release. Recorded September 27, 28, and 29th, 1976, at the
dawn of the "new wave," important and historic live recordings of some
of the scenemakers live on within these grooves. Far from a definitive
document -- you won't find early Jon Butcher, Charlie Farren, Fools, or
Nervous Eaters here, despite the fact that the Eaters ruled at The Rat
-- but you will find classic Willie Alexander after his stint with the Velvet Underground and
before his MCA deal (which came when Blue Oyster Cult wife/rock critic
Debbie Frost, played Alexander's single on The Rat jukebox for producer Craig Leon).
biggest disappointment on the album, though, is its best selection --
the underrated and immaculate song "No Good to Cry" by Al Anderson of
N.R.B.Q. when he was recording with the Wildweeds. Susan Jacks just
doesn't have that blue-eyed soul that put the original "No Good to Cry"
over the top. The production is not as intense, and what could have
brought this group to another level becomes a Holiday Inn band reworking
a masterpiece. The manic piano that made the minor hit so legendary is
lost here, the dynamics nonexistent. It almost feels like Terry Jacks put
more into his originals, surrounding them with decent versions of songs
by Sonny Curtis, Joe Fahrni, and the aforementioned titles. There's no
denying the Poppy Family knew how to pick potential hits, but they dropped the ball on the five-yard line on Poppy Seeds.