Top 40 for November 2007
1)NORTHERN SOUL CONNOISSEURS
The Northern soul fanatics have revived many a tune, and sometimes a career or two, collecting tremendous soulful treasures that are mostly obscure and -- for the most part -- that definitely deserved a better fate first time around. Sure, the Supremes take on legendary songwriter/producer Buddy Buie's answer to Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" only showed up on 1987's the Supremes Never Before Released Masters with a different mix on The Supremes Box Set, but the impeccable taste of the fan base brings this production to life on the dancefloors and on these compilations so the world can "bring back those sunny days."
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2)The Jesus Lizard
A powerful and energetic set from October 4, 1994 at the Venus De Milo club on Lansdowne Street in Boston, taped directly across the street from the home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park. The DVD has lots of Boston connections, utilizing footage from Hype TV DJ from WBCN, Shred, who conducts a fine interview while the attorney for that TV show turns out to be Dave Herlihy, a regional figure who was signed to Epic with his group, O Positive. The Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow is superb on this, and though you won't figure out a word he's saying the performance is very Jim Morrison-in-the-ozone while the band crisply plays a tight but still chaotic combination of simultaneous sounds.
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3)Duke & The Drivers HARDER THAN BEFORE
The older the grape, the sweeter the wine, and this fourth album in 31 years is Duke & the Drivers best and most complete work to date. The title track opens the festivities with authority and that authority continues over the dozen tracks. It's not just that Joe Blaney's production is impeccable — you can hear absolutely everything crystal clear — it's that along with that sterling recording the groove is locked in. "Just Ain't the Rock" lilts and creeps along with fun backing vocals, chirping horns, and guitar that Steve Cropper would identify as having come from the study of Booker T. & the MG's. The first single, "Funk All Over the Place," is a blast.
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4)John Cate Band
John Cate's fascination with the Beatles brings out his best singing and songwriting to date on this exquisite album of memorable music that has drama, hooks, and the precision playing you've come to expect from him and his crew. The difference here is that by moving from the earthier sounds of his four albums released between 1996 and 2001 and going directly for that power pop arena he's found a niche that's perfect for his voice and songwriting sentiment. "Piece of This Town" takes the Byrds formula a step further, to where they were going in the "Chestnut Mare" phase back in 1970. "Hey, By the Way" rocks harder as the music seems to go through a personality crisis over the 11 tracks here. "Other Side" has Beatlesque guitar lines and lots of Tom Petty inflections, which detract from the proceedings. John Cate provides evidence here that he has what it takes to be a pure pop maestro and that's when it all comes together and works flawlessly.
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5) TV 3 Medford forced to have Democratic Elections - fascist policies of appointing a Board to a Public Charity stopped in part by Joe Viglione's Five Year Investigation
The hearing is good news to Joe Viglione, who has been trying to get the city to shut down or remove the Board of Directors for the past five years. Viglione said Rumley’s efforts in opening the station to the public is a huge step forward.
“I feel vindicated,” Viglione said. “I feel like I was the one guy howling at the moon. Unfortunately, Paul Donato didn’t listen to his constituents’ complaints, but it was different when the pain was his own.”
Viglione said he’s already received a call from a TV3 board member inviting him to attend the Jan. 19 election. And, he added, he’ll definitely show up.
“I just want to be fair,” he said. “I’m on 17 stations and all I want is for our station to be run like all the others, which is public access and that’s something Medford doesn’t resemble. Right now, it resembles Local Origination, like Comcast, where they make the rules and that’s not its mandate.”
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6)OUT ON THE FLOOR AGAIN - More Northern Soul (Various Artists)
This tremendous "Northern Soul" sampler is the sequel to an album released the year before in 1995, Out On The Floor(Legendary Northern Soul Club Classics). A Dobie Gray song with that title has spawned a plethora of these compilations including a 3 CD boxed set Out On The Floor Northern Soul Floorshakers, 1979's Out On The Floor Tonight and even a Dobie Gray album cleverly titled Out On The Floor with The In Crowd. This delicious and healthy 28 track monster starts off with a producer Jerry Ross masterpiece, "Love Love Love", the song that re-launched off of Bobby Hebb's 1966 Sunny albums six years after the fact in 1972, going top 35 in the U.K. thanks to renewed interest via the Northern Soul phenomenon. It's followed by the song recorded for Hebb's Philips sessions which the singer rejected for being too much of a novelty, "Apple Peaches Pumpkin Pie, so Jay Procter and his Techniques were sprinkled with the Jerry Ross magic and hit with it instead. Those two titles are followed in quick succession by should-be classics from Frankie Valli - a wonderful tune with superb piano entitled "You're Ready Now", Jackie Edwards "I Feel So Bad" and Newey & Johnson's "Sweet Happiness".
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7)New Model Army Live 161203
Live 161203 from the political rock & roll band New Model Army is less punk and more of a revolutionary charge. The playing is electric and the filming is flawless, director Dave Meehan bringing his formula back to the Astoria in London, this show taped on December 16, 2003. Not as dark as the Echo & the Bunnymen DVD, Dancing Horses, the lighting here corresponds with frontman Justin Sullivan's spitfire preaching, bringing the post-punk almost into the realm of rock & roll rap. The band is tight as a drum and the mostly male — shirtless with many a skinhead — audience packs the venue and is rocking, adding some energy to the group's performance. Read more of the review here:
8)Echo & The Bunnymen Dancing Horses 2007
Secret Films and director Dave Meehan have a bevy of quality projects in release, and this DVD from Echo & the Bunnymen contains the great camera shots and editing that one would expect from their dependable film crew. The trappings that accompany a Bunnymen concert do not lend themselves well to the camera, so you won't find the bright and happy visuals obvious on Meehan's work with the Farm or even Ian Hunter. So, descend into the darkness that reflects this band's ominous music, absorbing the deep blue stage light and that sound so bass-heavy à la Psychedelic Furs, playing alongside those Flock of Seagulls-style guitar noodlings. Ian McCulloch's tonal quality is never going to threaten the Frank Sinatra legacy, the voice seeming more rough around the edges than usual — though that's OK; the bandmates are superb and the music is deliciously eerie with McCulloch's quasi-Jim Morrison ramblings a perfect match.
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9)Atlantics The Atlantics
The 13 songs on Atlantics by Boston's the Atlantics were recorded between 1979 and 1982 and show the pop/rock band as a force to be reckoned with, something their ABC/MCA debut couldn't accomplish. Listen to Fred Pineau's intense guitar lines on "Back in the World," one of their best songs that didn't get the traction of their independent single "Lonelyhearts," or their regional hit radio tape, "Pop Shivers," but "Back in the World" certainly deserved to be identified more with what they were about. "Lonelyhearts" found re-release on the Rhino/Atlantic D.I.Y.: Mass. Ave.: The Boston Scene (1975-83), but also was re-recorded by the band's original producer/manager Fred Munao to get some extra attention on Gary Private's Secret Love EP on Atlantic.
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10)Clark, Alice Alice Clark PICK TO CLICK!
The self-titled 1972 disc from Alice Clark has more than stood the test of time, it is a sublime masterpiece of R&B/pop from the house of Bob Shad, the jazz producer who founded Mainstream Records, the original home for this superior project. Perhaps it isn't a coincidence that Clark's repertoire is exactly the kind of material Janis Joplin would pick up on in her days after Big Brother & the Holding Company, as this was also the first imprint that Joplin & the Holding Company recorded for professionally. Jimmy Webb's "I Keep It Hid" starts things off, one of the singles released from this original package and a nugget from another soul masterpiece, Supremes Arranged and Produced by Jimmy Webb, when Webb oversaw the post-Diana Ross girl group the same year as this release. A rendition of Fred Ebb and John Kander's tune, "Maybe This Time" from the motion picture Cabaret, is included along with three compositions from "Sunny" author Bobby Hebb. The collection of material from Webb, Ebb, and Hebb is actually genius A&R because all of it is a perfect fit.
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11)Gerald Wilson YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT
Long out of print, the sophisticated and timeless instrumental work titled You Better Believe it by underrated conductor/arranger Gerald Wilson is a first-rate masterpiece released on the Pacific Jazz label in 1961. The seven performances are available on CD in their original order on the 84 track 5 disc compilation, The Complete Pacific Jazz Recordings of Gerald Wilson & His Orchestra released on the Mosaic label, but
the additional 77 tracks on the boxed set might distract from this impressive lp which stands as an important work of art on its own. Beginning with "Blues For Yna Yna" the album starts off like an intriguing spy movie - complete with understated dramatic tension. Written for Wilson's pet cat, according to liner note writer John William Hardy, the almost seven minute excursion features the reeds of Harold Land. Explosive horns chirp over Richard "Groove" Holmes' jazz organ solos, but the seventeen piece orchestra never gets in the way - just the opposite as Wilson adds this or that in clever fashion so that the pieces stay fresh over endless spins.
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12)Farner, Mark For The People
If you take the guitar riff from Santana's "Smooth" and shake it up in a blender with Edwyn Collins sublime "A Girl Like You," the result will be one of Mark Farner's best tracks since "Bad Time," a catchy pop tune he calls "Nadean" on what could be the Grand Funk lead singer's most important solo effort in the close to 30 years that he's been making music full-time without Mel Schacher and Don Brewer. The 11 songs on For the People contain more hits than misses, though, from the beautifully Hendrixian "Cry Baby" to the elegant and post-'80s-and-into-the-new-millennium "Girl." Sure the titles have been utilized by Garnet Mimms and the Beatles, respectively, but these are originals exuding the R&B that Farner is so enamored of, along with those pop sensibilities that he's totally capable of but has kept from his audience for much too long. Read more of the review here:
13)MOUNTAIN: Live In Paris
This 50-minute six-song set from Leslie West, Corky Laing, and bassist/keyboardist Mark Clarke is another moment in Mountain's career that will make completists happy but is really only for the die-hard fan. Live in Paris has the boys opening for Deep Purple on a 1985 European tour, so there's a substantial audience, and this was the tour to back up their lone Scott Brothers Records release, Go for Your Life, which also featured British bassist Clarke along with West and Laing. Now, West, Clarke, and Laing aren't West, Bruce & Laing, and that is obvious from the opening tune, "Why Dontcha," the title track from the 1973 West, Bruce & Laing debut. The music recorded July 8 and 9, 1985, needed a couple of tunes to get in gear, and after an equally hollow "Never in My Life" the band begins to gel. West dedicates "Theme from an Imaginary Western" to original bassist Felix Pappalardi, and with Clarke sitting down at the keyboards, they finally start to generate some magic. "Spark," from the lone 1980s release by the group — the album Foreigner manager Bud Prager got for the boys by making a phone call (and without a demo) — doesn't sound bad, and if they weren't the opening act on a Deep Purple tour, listeners might have found some of the other cuts from the disc they were promoting making their way onto this release.
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14)Marvin Gaye DVD Greatest Hits Live (Posted on AMG 11/26/07)
This is a vintage 23-song film of Marvin Gaye's first European tour from 1976. Directed by Charles Leeuvenhanp at Eden Halle in Amsterdam, the production from Howard and Jeffrey Kruger has been in release for many years in various formats and different titles — VHS and Laserdisc as Greatest Hits Live or Marvin Gaye Live, as well as on DVD licensed to a number of companies as Greatest Hits: Live in '76. Eagle Vision's EV Classics line has released a repackaged version in September of 2007 that contains no liner notes and no bonus tracks, just the wonderful concert of the superstar singer. It captures a hard-working Gaye in great smooth voice, excellent wardrobe, and with superbly soulful stage moves as well as some extraordinary dancing (with two partners). Non-hits like "Come Get to This" are as inviting as his terrific version of "Let's Get It On," and though it runs less than an hour, it's a highly entertaining show. In concert Gaye gets his point across, extending his message sometimes with more force than on the studio versions — but not overdoing it. The guy was one of the most subtle powers in music with that great intuitive ability to slip the magic into your heart before you realize the musical seduction at play. His green, yellow, and white attire reveal a classy Mayor of Soul on this effort which balances the earlier Motown hits with his creative latter-day statements. Read more:
15)Lunch, Lydia Willing Victim: A Musical Retrospective
Fourteen songs recorded by Lydia Lunch in Graz, Austria in 2003 comprise Willing Victim: A Musical Retrospective, and the sounds that bring them to life provide a good document for Lunch's fans: lo-fi audio and what looks like a one camera shoot (though there are three cameras at work) with poor lighting resulting in dark images for your screen. Not that Lydia Lunch's music is all that bright to begin with, so fans get a good reflection on tape of the performance artist's musical expression. This show begs comparisons to Patti Smith, but where Smith takes control and gives the audience a ride with easy to absorb the music, here it's disturbing and definitely aimed for a select and very artsy audience. It's nice to have a cover of the Alice Cooper Group's "Black Juju" and the background videos by two of the three camera people — Mark Viaplana and Josep M. Jordana — do add an element of mystery — and chaos — to the proceedings. It's not for everyone. Read more of the review here:
16)Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul Live At Full House
If you didn't know Little Steven as the Sopranos cast member and king of the underground garage - this very mainstream AOR sounding concert from December 1, 1987, would appear absolutely like some bad marriage between Prince and Bon Jovi, with Bruce Springsteen overtones. "Sanctuary" is as far removed from the blues of The J.Geils Band, who had their own "Sanctuary", but the very above ground sound shouldn't really surprise anyone - Little Steven IS a product of corporate rock, after all. This is a slick and higly politicized van Zandt, and to say that he rises above the 80s trappings and cuts through as the star that he is would be an understatement. Thinner, younger and very animated, this exciting high energy program is a keeper. Read full review here:
17)JOHNNY THUNDERS AWESOME SHOW!
Johnny Thunders was always hit or miss in concert; like fellow underground icon Nico, he could be brilliant and sublime or utterly boring on-stage depending on what he had injected or absorbed at any given moment. If you happened to have witnessed either artist in both good and bad shape, it was easy to detect when and if either one would have the magic. Now here's the good news: despite the VHS feel to this multi-camera shoot from Club Citta in Osaka, Japan (taped on April 3,1991 — yes, the very month he died), Johnny Thunders is very much on and rips through 22 songs that sound good and — dare it be said — professional. To understand the difference, you have to have seen Thunders when he was, say, unprofessional. Some nights he was toast, but here he is a rock star and is taking his craft seriously. The DVD opens with a solid "In Cold Blood," the Jimmy Miller-produced song that launched a new phase of his career in Europe just eight years before his passing. It slips right into a medley including "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" and on to about 25 songs over 22 tracks that are a really fabulous, if lo-fi, documentary on this unique but quintessential rock & roll figure. On "Louie, Louie" and "Hang on Sloopy," the most natural of medleys, he is his Keith Richards best — the look, the wardrobe, and the great guitar sound that he didn't have when the New York Dolls first played Boston in 1973 and everything was cranked up to 11. Read more of the review here:
18)Someone Like Me Elton John Documentary DVD
"The greatest thing about rock & roll is that someone like me can be a star" — that quote from Elton John is utilized in part for the title of this Kate McIntyre-narrated documentary DVD on the superstar's life. As these "unofficial biographies" go (and this package from Eagle Media doesn't use that handle), this Bob Franklin-directed vehicle, Someone Like Me, is well crafted, starting off with biographer Judy Parkinson giving her thoughts amidst photos of Elton's early home life: his school, a photo of his soccer-playing cousin, and other interesting imagery. Music biographer David Buckley, former manager Ray Williams, music journalist Paul Gambaccini, journalist Nina Myskow, and biographer Philip Norman all get dressed up and assist McIntyre in telling the story of Elton John's career, helped out by news footage and interview clips of Elton himself. There's chatter about the singer's first suicide attempt, Long John Baldry's advice for Elton not to get married, and — beyond the salacious nature of some of the quips (labeling Baldry the "gay" lead singer of Bluesology seems a bit unnecessary) — there's solid information on Bernie Taupin and Elton working with music publisher Dick James in the early days and the lawsuit against James that emerged in the latter years. Read more of the review here:
19)NORTHERN SOUL'S CLASSIEST RARITIES VOL.2
Great sounding and dense with information Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities, Vol. 2 is a true labor of love, compiling 24 solid tracks on the Kent label, a follow-up to the first volume released in 2001, four years before this wonderful sequel. It is sonically superior to another 2001 classic, Northern Soul Connoisseurs on Spectrum/Uni, the huge quantity of these anthologies from this music genre almost as overwhelming as the 45 rpm singles they collect. Ady Croasdell delivers 12 pages of liner notes on slick paper rife with photographs and copies of the actual labels from some of the 45s contained herein. The music is breathtakingly magical, the "Heatwave" beat driving the Extremes "How I Need Your Love" sliding quickly into Jimmy "Bo" Horne's "I Can't Speak," hardcore doo wop merging with '60s pop creating sweet soul confections that stand up to repeated, endless spins. Isaac Hayes and Joe Shamwell combine to write the superb "Sea Shells" as voiced by the Charmels, produced by the legendary Hayes/Porter combo. It's followed by William Hunt's dynamite version of Bobby Hebb's "Would You Believe," also recorded by original Procol Harum drummer Bobby Harrison, as well as Grady Tate and Kenny Lonas. The song lineage here will no doubt make Northern soul fans' mouths water for more versions of these hard-to-find classics. Read more of the review here:
20)The Echoes Now Hear This
Two years after the Listen Up release, Teresa Starr and Mark Alexander return with 15 more selections that continue the charming journey they set out on — picture Half Japanese with more structure and a better attempt at going commercial. The six-minute-plus "I Couldn't Stand" is truly modern-day underground rock while Starr's cute '60s voice on "Ourselves" would have fit into the film Hairspray without skipping a beat. The problem faced by this new millennium group on their sophomore disc, though, is that it is as consistent with their debut as the sound generated by the Ramones was on each and every disc that venerable group ever decided to put out. The Echoes have a formula and they don't waver. For a modern era garage band the trap is that the duo is missing a slam dunk pop hit to go along with their fun and irreverent music. The approach is denser and some of the songs here play out longer than tracks on the debut, Mark Alexander's "Take Me as I Am" could be Sonny Bono solo in a bar trading vocals with a very drunk Gerry Goffin.
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21)Kate Bush Under Review
22)SOFT MACHINE "Legacy: Paris Concert"
23)Dennis Brown LIVE AT THE REGGAE CANFEST
24)Shabba at Showdown
25)Sly & Robbie Dubbin It Live
26)Reggae Showdown Giants of Sting
27)Herman's Hermits HOLD ON
28)Tommy James IN TOUCH
29)Tommy James Tommy James
30)John Hammond Live In Paris "New Morning"
31)3 Times In Love
32)The Church of Tiamet
33)Tommy James Christian Of The World
34)Tommy James Midnight Rider
35)Tommy James My Head My Bed My Red Guitar
36) Brecker, Randy The Geneva Concert
37)Lake Lake. Live! Fabrik/Hamburg
38)Williams, Andy An Evening with Andy Williams: Live from the Royal Albert Hall 1978
39)The Drifters Greatest Hits Live
40)Camper Van Beethoven & Various Artists The First Annual Camp Out At Pappy And Harriet's Pioneertown Palace
41)Egilsson, Perdersen, Darling Live In Vienna
42)Vitous, Miroslav Live In Vienna:Bass Encounters Live In Concert: Miroslav Vitous Solo with Symphonic Orchestra Samples
43)Tommy James Cellophane Symphony
44)Berg, Bob Geneva Concert
For fans of the late Bob Berg, Geneva Concert is a wonderful set performed on August 14, 1994, recorded eight years before the tenor saxophonist's untimely passing. The disc starts off in subtle fashion with a lengthy "Summer Nights," 17 minutes and 17 seconds in fact, giving the Niels Lan Doky Trio plenty of space to provide a platform for Berg's acid jazz bursts to erupt from his instrument. The 31-year-old Doky looks like a child prodigy on the piano while Berg, at 43 years of age, was clearly in his prime and at the top of his game. Pierre Boussaguet's bass quietly works with Doky's keyboard runs, which are as impressive as Berg's sax.
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45)Sandy Denny Under Review
The difference between a critical analysis of Sandy Denny or The Velvet Underground and The Rolling Stones is that with a lot less information available on this extraordinary singer the audience is more limited. The good news is that this edition of the "Under Review" series actually lives up to the documentary status it claims, and does, indeed, hold one's attention and inform better than the Green Day: Under Review 1995-2000 The Middle Years, which is basically a bunch of critics blowing lots of hot air. It seems with these "DVD/Fanzine" type commentaries that the lesser known the subject matter, the better the critique. Denny is a singer that deserves so much more acclaim and study, and this is an excellent starting point, as is the Kate Bush "Under Review", and even the David Bowie Under Review 1976-79 Berlin analysis which concentrates on his dark but fun period. Fairport Convention fiddler Dave Swarbrick, journeyman Martin Carthy, Cat Stevens drummer Gerry Conway of Denny's band, Fotheringay and Pentangle's John Renbourn contribute as does Fairport Convention biographer Patrick Humphries. Read more here: