Saturday, July 01, 2023

July 1, 2023 Hollywood Vampires July 28 Boston / Willie Loco Alexander on RCA/New Rose / Doris Troy Rainbow Testament / Ian Hunter / Genya Ravan / Joe Perry / Steve Dennis / Dusty Springfield /Barry Goudreau

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 drummer Jeff Hill, singer / keyboard player Joe Viglione  1983, according to Barbara Martin Uncanunic mountain Bass Lake NH Bonfire Rock

review by Joe V soon....

Hollywood Vampires Boston Tickets
Event FRI JUL 28 8 PM Hollywood Vampires (Rescheduled from 5/31) Wang Theatre – Boston, MA Hollywood Vampires is an American rock supergroup formed in 2012 by Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Joe Perry. The band name derives from The Hollywood Vampires, a celebrity drinking club formed by Cooper in the 1970s which included but was not limited to: John Lennon and Ringo Starr of the Beatles, Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon of the Who, and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees

Brutal Planet Review by Joe Viglione [-]
For the Alice Cooper fans who feel his output was spotty before and after the 1989 classic Trash on Epic, Brutal Planet is a cause to rejoice. It is a solid hard rock offering. Cooper is in great voice, and he sounds mean and spirited. The title track would be a blessing on radio today. It has great bottom, sizzling guitars, and wonderful backing vocalists. The most impressive thing about this album is Cooper's lyrics. "Sanctuary" could be Lou Reed meets Deep Purple in their heyday. Back in 1987 Cooper performed with an unruly band all over the map. It was very uncomfortable and a far cry from his heyday of "I'm 18" and "Under My Wheels": guitars too loud, and an artist obviously struggling with his personal demons.
This disc rocks hard with hooks galore and is delivered with the intensity of a Mike Tyson punch, double entendre fully intended. "Wicked Young Men" continues the thump thump brigade of this fine album. Cooper is now being a bad boy with sophisticated lyrics. "I am a vicious young man" sounds like the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange II: the aforementioned street lingo of Reed and Springsteen turned up a notch. "I've got every kind of chemical pumping through my head/I read Mein Kempf daily just to keep my hatred fed/I never ever sleep, I just lay in my bed/dreaming of the day when everyone is dead."
Cooper is ready to exterminate everyone and everything. And though listeners who love Alice Cooper know it's all tongue in cheek, the bigger picture is that a known artist has created a very studied, very calculated, and very electric compact disc. It works on so many levels, and how many listeners had written Cooper off? There may be no song here that will brand itself into the consciousness as "School's Out" or "Elected" did, but those were different times. This is more powerful than most rap. It is direct. It is hard hitting. It is Alice Cooper at his most absolute sinister. Burt Reynolds said that "nothing plays as good as an old Stradivarius" and Alice Cooper proves that saying true. He has created a splash of cold water that could rip radio wide open if given the chance. In "Blow Me a Kiss," Alice sings "blow me away... I'm in my room... I'm Dr. Doom... I'm not me, I'm someone else." Where has Cooper been hiding these lyrics all these years?

Dragontown Review by Joe Viglione

Dragontown continues the assault of Alice Cooper's gift to the new millennium that was Brutal Planet. Considered a third chapter of a trilogy initiated by 1994's The Last Temptation, this shadowy production plays like hardcore in slow motion. There is no one identifiable song like "Gimme" or "Brutal Planet" from the last episode, but the production values are high and the innovative riffs consistent. This work stands on its own, chock-full of the dark prince of pop's nasty humor. "It's Much Too Late" is supposed to be for John Lennon, but the Beatlesque backing vocals sound like Carole King's hit from Tapestry on hard drugs. There are references to the sacrilege spread out over Lennon's work from Plastic Ono Band to Imagine, but here Alice takes off the gloves and gives the church the finger: "

I'm sending you all to hell/I'm tired and I'm wired here...."

Continuing the dismal discourse of the previous record, Cooper takes Ray Davies' advice in a way the Kinks' leader never could -- A.C. actually gives the fans what they want. "The Sentinel" is some creature of the devil out there harvesting souls -- possibly the souls of dead rock & rollers. The ode to Elvis Presley is a bit more unnerving: "Disgraceland" is metal rockabilly with blazing guitars -- "Went to the pearly gates/Said I'm uh here to sing/And Peter said, 'Well son, you see we already got ourselves a king.'" If you don't think Alice Cooper is the Bob Dylan of nastiness, you clearly haven't followed his pernicious poetry over the years. (Hasn't everyone tried too hard to like Bob Dylan's Love and Theft? Do you really think it will have a place in history as solid as "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Ballad of a Thin Man"?) Where Mariah Carey goes through the motions and wonders why no one cares, Alice Cooper proves that he still does care. This might not be as platinum as Trash or as explosive as Killer, but the older, wiser Alice Cooper devastates with subtle intensity and venomous lyrics. The 12-page booklet inside the very Halloweenish cover contains print that is much too small, but the great photos are exactly what the fans crave: Alice showing the world he was Freddy Krueger long before that character came to life. "Every Woman Has a Name" is a beautiful evil ballad, a throwback to the days of "How You Gonna See Me Now," only Cooper's vocals are even better years later; he is a great singer, the Perry Como of hate. It's too bad the songs are so utterly negative -- at ten minutes shy of an hour, this album succeeds in going further down into the depths and would be a perfect horror movie soundtrack. If you can't figure out who "I Just Wanna Be God" is about you haven't read your Bible. "I'm the omnipresent ruler of the human race...I was born to rock/I was born to rule." Alice Cooper narrates from the first person, the Devil's frustrations are the angst that punks, metal heads, and rappers are floundering around looking for. "I Just Wanna Be God" is rap in slow motion -- a loud, sludgy dirge. It explodes after the ballad and disintegrates into "The Sentinel." If St. Peter stands by the pearly gates, then Alice Cooper is putting in his nomination to be the guardian of hell's entry point. He should be careful what he wishes for. From the blitz that is "Triggerman," which opens the album, to the crunching conclusion, this album is so good that it appears Alice has already landed the job. Listener beware.

Hollywood Vampires Boston Tickets
Event FRI JUL 28 8 PM Hollywood Vampires (Rescheduled from 5/31) Wang Theatre – Boston, MA Hollywood Vampires is an American rock supergroup formed in 2012 by Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Joe Perry. The band name derives from The Hollywood Vampires, a celebrity drinking club formed by Cooper in the 1970s which included but was not limited to: John Lennon and Ringo Starr of the Beatles, Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon of the Who, and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees

Easy Action (Early) Alice Cooper Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

The author of the book Alice Cooper, Steve Demorest, accurately calls this "the great undiscovered" Cooper album. Pretties for You is a difficult record, and Love It to Death is a classic, but this pre-Bob Ezrin album, created with help from Neil Young producer David Briggs, might be the perfect picture of an evolving Alice Cooper Group. "Mr. & Misdemeanor" has Cooper beginning to define his nasty trademark vocal style: "Here's new pretties for you/nobody likes me but we adore you." Cooper became known for writing two-and-a-half- to three-minute catchy tunes with negative themes, augmented by longer pieces toward the end of the recordings. With that in mind, this is almost pre-production for Love It to Death, although the band is more inventive here. "Shoe Salesman" could be Strawberry Alarm Clock, and this clone British pop/punk would've been a nice arena for AC to continue dabbling in, had Ezrin not transformed them into hard rockers. For those not convinced of Cooper's ability to sing after the beautiful adult contemporary songs he composed with Dick Wagner in the late '70s, Easy Action gives evidence that Cooper has more of a voice than he got credit for. "Still No Air" has a sci-fi slant, a slant they could've taken up when the members departed from Cooper and became the Billion Dollar Babies. "Below Your Means" is almost seven minutes of early Who-style musical investigation. There is that great West Coast Jefferson Airplane sound throughout, some hybrid of L.A./U.K. garage rock and psychedelia (this material would fit nicely on a soundtrack for American International Pictures). Side two opens with "Return of the Spiders," with upfront fuzz guitar. Dedicated to Gene Vincent, one wonders if this was influenced by David Bowie or if David Bowie influenced it? Both artists emerged around the same time, with Alice Cooper under Frank Zappa's wing, for better or for worse. Their androgynous personas both covered simultaneously in Rolling Stone magazine. "Laughing at Me" is very similar to Bowie's "Man Who Sold the World." There's the cryogenic "Refrigerator Heaven"; a very British pop "Beautiful Flyaway," which is listed as fifth on the album cover, but is actually the fourth track; and "Lay Down and Die, Goodbye," a seven-minute-and-30-second song which clearly sounds like it belongs on Zappa's record label. That this band could run the gamut from Zappa to Bowie, and perhaps inspired both, makes Easy Action a good study and entertaining record.

Interview Picture Disc Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

Snakes and Dead Babies is an interview disc from a London, U.K. company called Tabak Marketing Limited/Baktabak Records. It's 32 minutes plus of Alice Cooper talking to an unidentified host/interviewer around the time of the 1986 Constrictor album on MCA. The CD states plainly "Not an Epic Records release" (as it was published when Cooper signed to Epic), but it features a striking cover, with the artist in his ringmaster garb emerging from a red background. The presentation sure looks like a music disc! Had "Interview Disc" been stamped on the front (as it is on the back) the marketing would be less deceptive, though Cooper's hardcore fans certainly can figure out what this is all about. It is our Alice, the performer, talking about his alcoholism, his influence on the metal bands of the day, and his time away from making records and performing live. Cooper says he was doing "family-oriented" things when he got away from music, but when did he ever, really, take substantial time away from his entertaining us? He's been one of the most consistent performers since Love It to Death and "I'm 18" established him as a major rock personality. Cooper's discussion of horror films, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, the Halloween series, etc., provides some insight. He says he's 38 years of age and that he would consider doing films when he's about 45. Snakes and Dead Babies is a multi-subject dissertation by this recording star, and for his fans it's a nice half hour of talk with their hero. Recorded in Britain, there's no doubt Alice didn't intend it to be an official release in his catalog, but all things being equal, it's great to have it in your Cooper collection.

Battle Axe Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

Euclid's axiom states "The whole is equal to the sum of all the parts and is greater than any of its parts." That being said, you have no idea how dreadful this album is. Where a George Harrison can rival the Beatles with All Things Must Pass, three ex-members of the Alice Cooper Group have no excuse for forcing this difficult set of songs on the world. The title track, "Battle Axe," with a Bob Dolin composition ("Sudden Death") stuck inside of it, is bombast, some fragments of the Killer album's tune "Dead Babies," but not much else. Co-guitarist Michael Bruce is the lead singer, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith remain, and with the addition of guitarist Mike Marconi and keyboard/synthesist Bob Dolin they cannot survive the loss of Alice Cooper, and even Glen Buxton. The production is as weak as the Spiders From Mars album, where David Bowie's rhythm section decided to pull the same stunt a year before this. The tune "Winner" says the "billion dollar babies got the world," referring to this band, but the truth is, Alice Cooper is the billion dollar baby, and without the star, a song like "Too Young" doesn't come across. Michael Bruce re-recorded "Too Young" six years later on his Rock Rolls On disc, but this version is better. At the risk of sounding as redundant as this band, "Too Young" doesn't come across, but is better than its eventual remake. Big Brother & the Holding Company and the Doors at least came up with competent and interesting albums after their respective stars evaporated. Why Billion Dollar Babies, or Spiders From Mars, for that matter, didn't find an interesting character to back up is a pity; maybe Rob Grill from the Grass Roots or even Spanky McFarlane from Spanky & Our Gang or, even more obscure, Signe Anderson, original vocalist from the Jefferson Airplane. Putting a paradox together and making some rock history is certainly better than being a bad footnote, and that is all a song like "Shine Your Love" warrants. Equally depressing about this outing is that Bruce, Dunaway, and Smith recorded Easy Action, an album that borrowed from garage rock and British punk. Those elements are absent from this homogenized metal. "I Miss You" falls flat, a modified Barrett Strong "Money" riff goes nowhere. The ballad "Wasn't I The One" shows the flaws in Bruce's voice. This would be a great tune for Ian Hunter, as it sounds like early Mott the Hoople without the production and without the charisma. Alice Cooper should actually cut this track; it adds a little density that was missing in his adult contemporary hits like "Only Women Bleed." Producer Jack Douglas co-writes the other substantial track here, "Rock n' Roll Radio." and that track is produced by the band and Lee DeCarlo "in association with Jack Douglas." Having their engineer, DeCarlo, co-produce was as much a mistake as having Michael Bruce front this band. They should have sought out Chad Allan, Cindy Bullens, Sky Saxon, Captain Beefheart, Dana Gillespie, Little Joe Cook, someone, anyone, with personality to bring some life to this turkey.

I signed Willie Loco Alexander to New Rose RCA after his MCA deal. I was A & R for New Rose / Musidisc, CD Review's Record label and Rob Fraboni's Domino Records where I promoted Alvin Lee featuring George Harrison and Jon Lord. Solo Loco Review by Joe Viglione [-]

It opens with a mournful wail that is the a cappella version of "Tennessee Waltz," the number one Patti Page 1950 hit that Sam Cooke reworked in 1964. Both artists never imagined this rendition, the naked voice defiant after his band and MCA deal collapsed. The genius of Solo Loco is best displayed on the French release on New Rose/R.C.A. Here tunes like "Are You Leaving" and "Eyes Are Crossed" provide the proof, as if any was needed, to why the Boom Boom Band got signed to MCA in the first place. Willie's songs have the inspiration, the intensity, the individuality that make for good listening, if not stardom. "Small Town Medley" is the kind of musical departure that the Boom Boom Band and producer Craig Leon did not understand. It's sheer brilliance, reuniting with his bassist in the Velvet Underground, Walter Powers III, engineer Ted St. Pierre providing the intense guitars. Walter Powers also adds a throbbing bassline to "It's All Over," an amalgam of sound, intricate piano lines, and drumming from Willie with multi-layered vocals, and percussion sounds the artist obtained by playing the drum sticks on the floor of the recording studio. Truly a work of art. "Hit and Run" is avant-garde techno jazz, the album event no doubt a catharsis for Alexander. He scribbles his voice, keyboards, and soul all over Solo Loco. With help from guitarist Peter Dayton, Ministry bassist Brad Hallen, and Lord Manuel Smith's exotic synthesizer noises, Alexander brings 11 originals and two covers to life in this cleverly warped sound environment. The album is a career moment, the electronic and eerie "No Way Jose" and the 45 that landed the deal, "Gin," concluding side one with perhaps the two most commercial songs on the record. Alexander would stay on New Rose for many years. Though there was major-label interest from Arista, Polygram, and RCA in the United States, his wife at the time signed the album to Greg Shaw's Bomp label. The Bomp release came out a year later with a different cover, rearranged tracking and without the lengthy "So Tight," a techno punk song about Harvard Square that has a great groove. Solo Loco contains an image of Willie Alexander duplicated eight times on the front and back cover with a stunning kaleidoscope of color schemes. Patrick Mathé at New Rose understood the tremendous talent he had signed and packed it lovingly. All one has to do is listen to the explosive remake of Gene Vincent's "Be Bop a Lula" to hear the forces at play, forces of total artistic expression. 

2)Doris Troy   Rainbow Testament

On July 1, 2000 I interviewed Doris Troy ("Just One Look," Dark Side of the Moon-Pink Floyd) on WMFO 91.5 FM. On July 1, 2023 her interview on the Demo That Got the Deal arrived at my doorstep on our CD Demo/Deal Vol. 5 God Bless You Doris, I Love You!
Rainbow Testament Review
Two years after Doris Troy's critically acclaimed album on Apple, the voice which made records by the Rolling Stones, Sky, Tom Jones, Humble Pie, Carly Simon, and, especially, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, among many, many others, so very extra special, is in full command as Doris Troy & the Gospel Truth perform at the Rainbow Theater in London. Gospel originals like Troy's "Morning Train" and "My Father's House" are electrifying, and the singer's friends Claudia Lennear and Rufus Thomas show up, adding to the fun and festive atmosphere. There's an incredible wall of sound with the combination of horn players, percussion, Hammond organ, piano, singers, and master of ceremonies, Doris Troy, inviting notables like the New Seekers up on-stage. The singer told Allmusic, "I love that album. It was live. We had a really great time. The audience was fantastic." You can feel the high-energy vibe on Gene MacLellan's "Put Your Hand in the Hand," as well as all over the tremendous rendition of Joe South's 1969 hit "Games People Play." It's slowed down and soulful with the simply amazing vocal prowess of Troy creating a definitive version of the multi-format songwriter's chestnut. South had Deep Purple putting the hard rock stamp on "Hush," Lynn Anderson taking "Rose Garden" country, and produced slick pop for Billy Joe Royal, but this performance must have given the veteran songwriter chills when he first heard it. Released in 1972 on Polydor Records in Germany, the album design is very classy, a photo of "Mama Troy" on the cover, a positive message throughout the music and the uplifting poem on the back cover with thoughts like "We believe the world's a friendly place/We believe in all our many blessings...We believe we're helped by hidden powers" bringing the message home. A driving Taylor/Clinton title, "(I Wanna) Testify" opens the album contrasted with the Doris Troy original "Steal Away," voices swelling and Jimmy Helms taking a vocal lead along with the star. Troy arranged and produced this highly collectible album, her work sought after on eBay and at record shows, and justifiably so. A classic performance by an important and multi-talented artist, The Rainbow Testament by Doris Troy & the Gospel Truth deserves to be expanded and re-released.

from the album ICON

Genya Ravan takes this Steve Marriot/Jerry Shirley nugget from Humble Pie's On to Victory album and reinvents it with a vengeance.  Yes, the Humble Pie original is wonderful on its own, but here it is Genyavized and revitalized with her unmistakable stamp from the 2019 Icon cd.  Track #13 running at 3 minutes twenty-nine seconds, the production has all sorts of elements that generate a splendid bed for Genya to put her impressions and emotions all over.  Getting tons of airplay around the world, an instant classic.  Marriot needs to send Ravan a thank you from the beyond for bringing this great song back to the world.

released May 19, 2023

Genya Ravan - Lead & Backing Vocals
Bobby Chen - Drums / Percussion
Bill Brady - Bass
Dennis DiBrizzi - Keys
Jimmy McElligot - Guitar
John Lee Cooper - Guitar

Produced by Genya Ravan
Mastered by Genya Ravan
2023 Remix by Genya Ravan
Written by Steve Marriot / J. Shirley
Layout & Design by Glenn Robinson and Genya Ravan
Fool For A Pretty Face originally released on Genya Ravan's 'Icon' available on Rum Bar Records             

4)Humble Pie  "Fool for a Pretty Face"
Track 1 from the album On to Victory.

5) Defiance Part 1   album   IAN HUNTER 

 Ian Hunter can always be relied on for a classic tune, be it "Ripoff" from Rant of "When I'm President," "Honaloochie Boogie," or, as on Defiance Part 1 "Bed of Roses."  Catchy, hit-potential songs with smart lyrics and exquisite production.

Bed of Roses
No Hard Feelings
Pavlov's Dog
Don't Tread on Me
I Hate Hate
Kiss N' Make Up
This is What I'm Here For
I Hate Hate (Alternate Version)
Honaloochie Boogie

1973 single by Mott the Hoople

"Honaloochie Boogie" is a single released by Mott the Hoople. It was the follow-up to their breakthrough single "All The Young Dudes". It reached a peak position in the UK Singles Chart of number 12 in July 1973. Written and sung by vocalist Ian Hunter, apart from the group's regular line-up, it also featured Andy Mackay of Roxy Music on tenor saxophone, Bill Price on moog, and Paul Buckmaster on ... Wikipedia


6)Steve Dennis  Lighthouse

7)Dusty Springfield

10)Future Schock: The Songs of Harriet Schock
Artist: Gary Lynn Floyd


 11 Lisa Burns and Willie Alexander's Boom Boom Band on MCA Records Lisa Burns Review 

by Joe Viglione [-]

The problem with Lisa Burns' solo album on MCA is the same trouble that plagued her backing band here on its two albums on the same label: the guy who got them into the studio, producer Craig Leon. Leon is a talented guy, and his demos for Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band, along with his demos for DMZ, another Boston band, were superb. But given a budget and the big room of Suntreader Studio in Sharon, VT, and this album, with its neo-Phil Spector sound, just falls apart. What a shame. On paper, it's a great idea. The talent is here, somewhere in the grooves; it just is not as cohesive as Leon's own hit, the remake of Spirit in the Sky under the guise of Doctor & the Medics. "Slow Burn" would be great girl group pop except that David McLean's drums are too far up in the mix, the backing vocals are too far down, and the pretty frills just don't have the ooomph that Spector and his clones put into their radio-friendly productions. "In the Streets" is Annie Golden of the Shirts meets the Shangri-Las, with really great material and a performance that gets lost. Leon failed to properly record Willie Alexander's "You Looked So Pretty When," originally put to independent plastic by the late producer Stephen Lovelace. That tune, cut around the same time as these songs on the second Boom Boom album on MCA, probably during the same session, would have been perfect for Burns' more than adequate vocals. But Leon's underproduction does no justice to any of this pop; where Lovelace successfully merged Spector's sentiment with Sex Pistols-style rock & roll, Leon strips it all down. Oh, there's the "Be My Baby" drumbeat to open the DeShannon classic "When You Walk in the Room," and three Moon Martin covers, including "Love Gone Bad" (with its melody almost borrowed from Tommy James' "Tighter Tighter"), but hitting it out of the park is another issue. It is the Boom Booms backing up Burns here, with Billy Loosigian on guitar, Severin Grossman on bass, and the aforementioned David McLean on drums. Willie Alexander, the guy whose talent brought this crew together, is nowhere to be found on this record (he's also missing from the Velvet Underground's Squeeze album on Polygram, sad to say). It's been said that the band, and perhaps the producer, felt Alexander was too "far out" to be commercial. It is Alexander's eccentricities that garnered the attention in the first place; his compositions and incredible backing vocal work, along with his passion for Ronnie Spector's hits, could have contributed here. "Some Sing, Some Dance," a tune later recut by Ray Paul & Emmit Rhodes, misses the mark, and so does the exquisite "Victim of Romance," another Moon Martin tune that just sounds like the recording was rushed. The opening cover of the Box Tops' hit "Soul Deep" is an excellent choice, but sounds like it is lost in a vacuum. Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band had a three-album deal with Leon and MCA; infighting dissolved the group, and Leon went on to produce demos for the band without Alexander, and demos for Alexander without the band. The tragedy of the Lisa Burns album is that, had everyone been on the same page as a team, with Burns opening for Alexander and utilizing the same backing band, '70s and '80s rock could have been redefined. These are large talents who got lost in the mix, and the 20/20 vision of hindsight sheds light on the failure of this recording to bring these artists to the public. A real lesson in musical waste. "Tell Tale Heart," another co-write by the singer, should be done the right way by Ronnie Spector; it would be vindication for Burns and for the forgotten soldier responsible for these musicians to be able to record in the first place, William Spence Alexander. Good voice, great songs, wonderful musicianship, weak record. You figure it out.


After Hours Review Sal Maida of Milk and Cookies, Lisa B Burns who worked with Boom Boom Band

by Joe Viglione [-]

Velveteen is a duo featuring Sal Maida -- who played bass for Roxy Music, Milk & Cookies, Golden/Carillo, and Cherrie Currie, among others -- and vocalist Lisa Burns, once produced by Craig Leon when he had Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band up at Suntreader Studios recording in Vermont. The Boom Boom Band backed up Lisa Burns on a 1978 self-titled MCA records release during those sessions, performing material by Moon Martin, Jackie DeShannon, and the Box Tops. Five years later she changes styles from rock to dance. The black-and-white cover of this six-song Velveteen release on Atlantic entitled Afterhours has Maida with the obligatory sunglasses and Burns looking like a new wave chanteuse. They look smart, they look the part, and had the record sounded like the Velvet Underground meets Roxy Music as the title and image suggest, it may have made more of a splash. "Nightline" is the best song here, strong hook and crystal clear production, it's just that the Linn drums make for monotonous rock & roll and their sound dominates a recording which half rocks. It's good dance music -- material Sal Maida was familiar with having recorded on Gary Private's "Lonely Hearts," but the project may have been better served had Milk & Cookies re-formed to back up Burns the way Willie "Loco" Alexander's band did in the '70s. "Nothing to Do" slinks around in a nice and evil way, but had the wild abandon of a rock group interrupted the precision, the record would beg repeated spins. "Preoccupied" is the closest thing to rock, the Seeds' eternal "Pushin' too Hard" riff convoluted in a world where it -- and these musicians -- didn't really belong: the dance world. "Wild Rain" and "Get Wild" are the alleged obsession with uncontrolled emotion, a promise unfulfilled. If only the 1978 Lisa Burns disc had the production values she and Maida give this release -- much more precise and on target than Craig Leon's sparse underproduction. Lisa Burns has an appealing voice and style, and what she needed was a long-term record deal. Too bad "Nightline" wasn't a Top 40 smash; it's so hard watching important artists climb the mountaintop only to be abandoned at the summit. Lisa Burns falls into that category.

13  Pup Tune Willie Loco Alexander

Pup Tune: I want to sing like a Puerto Rican hooker....Girls wear 'em, guys wear 'em, dogs got 'em and I don't care"

14)riot on sunset strip Joe's reviews on Movie Mars via eBay and Additional Information from Movie Mars
Product Description
Director: Arthur Dreifuss.
Sixties soundtrack albums have always held a special charm, especially those released on the Tower label, from Psych-Out to Wild in the Streets to this classic, Riot on Sunset Strip. The Standells open with the title song, and it would be a refreshing change of pace to hear this clever little gem instead of "Dirty Water" for the nine millionth time on oldies and classic hits stations. While the Sidewalk Sounds come off like some bubblegum surf group, especially with the Gary Lewis sound-alike "Make the Music Pretty," "Sunset Sally" from the Mugwumps gives the album some serious credibility. Debra Travis adds a folky/earthy stamp with her one track, "Old Country," but it's the Mugwumps and songs by the Chocolate Watch Band and Standells which are the collectors items. The Standells make "Get Away From Here" sound vocally very Strawberry Alarm Clock, while Drew delivers an above-average '60s filler tune, "Like My Baby." It would fit nicely any time on some college radio retro show. Dave Aguilar's Chocolate Watch Band gives the album real grit and attitude; "Don't Need Your Lovin'" is fierce, and "Sitting There Standing" even meaner. C.W.B. took this opportunity seriously and it shows. The guitar fights the harp in this final tune, while the throbbing bass, drums, and vocal are pure garage rock magic. The novelty of the title track, "Riot on Sunset Strip," is not to be lost because of Chocolate Watch Band's over the top performance. Cool picture of the Standells on the back makes this something to put on the wall. Mike Curb's Sidewalk Productions, clearly on a mission here as the movie was hyped as "the most shocking film of our generation!," delivers vintage sounds of the day. He co-wrote the Drew title and composed the Sidewalk Sounds' "The Sunset Theme" (the word "Sunset" appearing in three song titles!). When comparing this to an early-'70s soundtrack like Zacahariah or the inconsistent '80s music put to the film Soul Man, the Riot on Sunset Strip album delivers more bang for the buck. Definitely something you want in your collection. ~ Joe Viglione


My review of THE DOORS on Movie Mars and eBay:

review by Joe Viglione View on
A very interesting double LP retrospective two years after Jim Morrison's version of the Doors had officially closed. Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine contained the first album release of two B-sides, Willie Dixon's "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further," sung by Ray Manzarek, originally on the flip side of the 1971 45 "Love Her Madly," and the beautiful "Who Scared You," "Wishful Sinful"'s flip with Jim Morrison on vocals from a session in 1969. Both are worthwhile additions not found on their first "greatest hits" collection, 13. This compilation is a strange amalgam of their music, the LP title taken from a line in the song "The End," which concludes side two. Five of the 22 songs are from the L.A. Woman sessions, including the title track of that album and the full length "Riders on the Storm," both clocking in at seven-plus minutes. With "The End" and "When the Music's Over" at 11:35 and 11:00 respectively, that's 38 minutes and 38 seconds between four titles, more than a third of the 99-plus minutes of music on this collection. Nothing from Absolutely Live is included, and surprisingly, the classic "Waiting for the Sun" is not here, though that Morrison Hotel number would fit the mood perfectly. "Love Street," the flip of "Hello I Love You," is here, but pertinent singles like "Wishful Sinful" or "Do It" and its flip, "Runnin' Blue," from The Soft Parade, are all missing in action. The cover art pastiche by Bill Hoffman is worth the price of admission if you already have all this material, while the inside gatefold picture looks like an outtake from the first album. Bruce Harris' liner notes are truly the '60s merging with the '70s; he calls Jim Morrison "merely the index of our possibilities" and states that Morrison didn't want to be an idol "because he believed all idols were hollow." The essay is all the more silly when you realize it isn't tongue-in-cheek in the way Lou Reed's incoherent ramblings inside Metal Machine Music are more enjoyable than the disc. Harris seems to actually believe what he pontificates. But the music is awesome, so put it on and read the Metal Machine Music scribblings instead. Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine is a work of art in the first order, the way the Beatles #1 album is wonderfully redundant, and it should see the light of day again. This time they could add "Tree Trunk," the flip of the "Get Up and Dance" 45 RPM from 1972's Full Circle album. ~ Joe Viglione


"Take my love and shove it up your heart" sing the Blues Magoos in keyboard player/vocalist Ron Scala and bassist Ron Gilbert's composition "Take My Love," and with the same punk drone they give the six minutes of Van Morrison's "Gloria -- a strange amalgam of Iron Butterfly "In a Gadda Da Vida noodlings meets Strawberry Alarm Clock, guitarist Emil "Peppy" Thielhelm, and his Blues Magoos spend an album reiterating what they said before. With the garage mayhem that is "Rush Hour" and the nine second conclusion "That's All Folks," straight out of Bugs Bunny, Electric Comic Book is a vintage '60s psychedelic record which has everything but the ? & the Mysterians meets the Electric Prunes drive of their smash single "We Ain't Got Nothing Yet." Producers Bob Wyld and Art Polhemus are still on board -- they did the previous Psychedelic Lollipop Wyld would remain to direct 1969's Never Goin' Back to Georgia and 1970s Gulf Coast Bound, where the blues replaced the psychedelia Electric Comic Book retains the brash '60s charm their hit single brought to the attention of the world, a track from the Nuggets compilation on the same level of punk majesty as the Seeds "Pushin' Too Hard." While "Pipe Dream," which starts the album off, and "There's a Chance We Can Make It," which follows, don't have hit potential at least the sound that appeals to so many fans of the genre is retained. "Albert Common Is Dead and "Summer Is the Man" aren't earth shattering compositions, and maybe by this time the group started to feel limited by the constraints of psychedelia and pop -- "Baby I Want You" is simple, and not very original -- but that authentic keyboard/guitar '60s sound drips from groove to groove. "Summer Is the Man" was released as a single, followed by "Life Is Just a Cher O'Bowlies" and "Pipe Dream," but what was really needed was another burst of inspiration to put this album in the same league with its predecessor. Still, "Rush Hour" has its insane moments, and this recording will please those who can't get enough of this style of music. All due respect to bands like the Lyres who have spent a lifetime re-creating this sound, there's no point in going there when you can listen to this and hear the real thing. ~ Joe Viglione

Sings Songs from the Valley of the Dolls and Other Selections Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

Patty Duke got a pass on her "teen" oriented albums, but by the time her role in the film The Valley of the Dolls came around there was no excuse for the complete lack of finesse, misunderstanding of great lyrics, and general off-key performance, which is totally disrespectful to the listener, the excellent backing musicians, and the songwriters. Just when you think Duke has hit the depths and can't go any lower, "I'll Plant My Own Tree" kicks in and must stand as the all-time worst rendition of a song by André and Dory Previn in all of music history. At least Duke's hits in 1965, "Don't Just Stand There" and "Say Something Funny" had enough reverb on her voice and production to make them entertaining and workable on a Shelley Fabares/Gary Lewis level, but this album is a travesty. How is it possible such a gifted actress would attempt to sing a theme song indelibly marked in the public consciousness as one of the key pieces of Dionne Warwick's repertoire? She actually sings "Valley of the Dolls" worse than "I'll Plant My Own Tree." Dancer Gene Kelly's liner notes (there's a cute little dancer next to his name, the highlight of the album), are ludicrous, and appear to be written by a publicist. "You have to climb to the top of Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls" wrote Jacqueline Suzanne in the poem that opens the book. Why these producers and arrangers (Arnold Goland did much work with Patty Duke and should've known better) didn't have Duke read the exquisite Suzanne poem and passages from the novel over these arrangements is the real question. Now that would've been a milestone. Instead, there is this public record that, indeed, Patty Duke had visited "The valley of the dolls." Sounds like she was trapped there.

 David Bowie Narrates Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

In 1982, David Bowie released In Bertolt Brecht's "Baal"; four years earlier, the prestigious RCA Red Seal classical label had Bowie narrating Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, and with his stint on Broadway as The Elephant Man, the artist stretched himself brilliantly. There is not enough spoken word by popular recording artists in today's world. Steven Tyler may show up on a Kerouac tribute performing one track; Grace Slick, Lou Reed, Peter Frampton, Marty Balin, and so many others have cut promotional interview discs for insiders, but it is surprising how the record industry has, for the most part, ignored this inexpensive and wonderful format to further endear artists to their fans. Jim Morrison's poetry, after all, was all that was left when Elektra published An American Prayer -- and that fans purchase low-quality bootlegs of many artists should have been a signal in the past to deliver this type of product to the marketplace. The scarcity of such projects makes Bowie's close to 30 minutes of narration that much more delightful. The Peter and the Wolf album is divided into two sides. The narration by David Bowie of public domain material originally written by Prokofiev takes up 27 minutes and eight seconds, while the second side of this green-colored vinyl LP has 17 minutes and ten seconds of Eugene Ormandy conducting Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ormandy and the aforementioned musicians from Philly also back up Bowie on side one. This RCA Red Seal release includes detailed liners and the project, according to Mary Campbell's notes, is specifically geared to "introduce children to the sounds of the individual instruments in the symphony orchestra." Both Prokofiev and Britten wrote their respective pieces with this aim in mind. That makes this record all the more charming -- imagine what it could do if teachers would actually use it on a large scale to educate? As for Bowie's performance, it is splendid. He tells the well-known fable with his usual eloquence and style, and gives instructions at the beginning for kids to understand how the music corresponds to characters in the story. The accompaniment from the Philadelphia Orchestra is first rate, the lush sounds more exciting on the Bowie side than on Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell, which makes up side B. Interesting how this project, if promoted today, could bring the name David Bowie to a huge audience of young people. A remarkable and well-crafted project.

 Boston Does the Beatles Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

This enormous project was coordinated by the crew who would go on to do a single-disc tribute to Mick and Keith entitled Boston Gets Stoned but, where that album was inconsistent, the 31 tracks here make for a cohesive unit and compelling history of Boston music circa 1988. In his usual deranged fashion, A.J.Wachtel, cousin of guitarist Waddy Wachtel, allegedly lined a hundred bands up for this (same as with Boston Gets Stoned) -- an admirable but implausible goal. Michail Glassman and the late Mickey O'Halloran pulled the reins in on A.J. and, in doing so, helped to realize important versions of Beatles tunes by some Boston artists who obtained major-label deals at different points in time. Berlin Airlift's "Eleanor Rigby" is stunning, and one of their finest moments; Girls Night Out vocalist Didi Stewart, herself a former Kirshner/CBS recording artist, delivers a wonderful "You're Gonna Lose That Guy," changing the gender. Barry Cowsill of the legendary Rhode Island band the Cowsills was making the scene in the late '80s, and he contributes "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey." Powerglide delivers a pretty good "Revolution," but their mainstream leanings make them a little out of place here, and not as hip as the Barry Cowsill madness that follows them. There is so much activity covering the songs of Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison that the novelty can wear off. All This and World War II, music executive Russ Regan's vision for a double-LP compilation of major acts performing songs of the Beatles, and Brad Delp, lead vocalist from the band Boston, who tours the region with the Beatles cover band Beatlejuice when he's not performing with Tom Scholz, provide two examples of the success that can be achieved when emulating this popular music. This collection on an obscure and tiny Boston record label actually deserves a place in history as one of the better Beatles collections. Sure, One Four Five isn't Aerosmith covering "I'm Down," but the sheer volume of scenemakers documented by covering familar music, and doing it so well, makes Boston Does the Beatles a real treasure. Mr. Curt's Camaraderie released its exotic version of "It's Only Love" on Curt's solo CD, and other tracks may resurface as the artists see fit, but it would be a shame for this remarkable look at the Fab Four by an important music community to just fade away. Worth seeking out.

The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie Review by Joe Viglione [-]

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan opened for the Alice Cooper Group on the Billion Dollar Babies tour, and the insanity they put on display while performing this album live was controlled insanity, perhaps the best kind. On the back of The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie is a Frank Zappa 200 Motels film poster, the usual mess one would expect from Flo & Eddie, but no Turtles memorabilia. With the solid drumming of Aynsley Dunbar and their incredible harmonies, Flo & Eddie are truly a mixture of the Turtles' pop and the Mothers of Invention's unpredictability. What was so striking about this debut album before Bob Ezrin got ahold of them for the sequel (maybe that's how they got the Cooper tour) is that it is delicious pop music played to perfection -- as melodic as Petula Clark -- just more difficult to grasp. When the boys get to a good hook they let go of it, maybe a mental trigger from all their Turtles hits, a subconscious effort to keep this in the underground, just on the cusp of being commercially viable. What is also striking is that the production work is impeccable. These two guys absolutely ruined whatever chance Mono Mann and his DMZ might've had for stardom when as producers they stripped the essence of that Boston band away from their Sire Records debut. Had they recorded DMZ as perfectly as this album was tracked, who knows how the earth might've shook. "It Never Happened" sounds like Graham Nash's "Chicago" turned upside down, while "Strange Girl" has nothing of the commercial slant that they poured onto the Marc Bolan tunes they performed on. Then there's "Strange Girl," which strangely sounds like the Mothers of Invention going for a hit. The tragedy of it all is that this stuff is so sincerely off the wall while simultaneously being serious that radio should have embraced much of it. The production values here are immense, a thick and deep sound beyond the vocal work we expect from these choir boys. The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie is a glow-in-the-dark album rich with strong compositions, skillful musicianship, and extraordinary vocal work. It is a classic by two true rock & roll geniuses. "Who but I" is a summer song that the Turtles would have killed for. This album is a treasure chest of ideas by journeymen that had a clue; a grasp of what the rock & roll game is really all about. As stated above, it is deliciously brilliant.


Record executive Russ Regan, instrumental for his behind-the-scenes work with Harriet Schock, Genya Ravan, and producer Jimmy Miller, was involved in the creation of this soundtrack to the 20th Century Fox documentary film All This and World War II. Produced by Lou Reizner, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, arranged by Wil Malone and conducted by Harry Rabinowitz, back up an amazing array of stars on Beatles covers. What this is, truly, is one of the first Beatles tribute albums, and it is extraordinary. Peter Gabriel performing "Strawberry Fields Forever should be a staple on classic hits radio stations. It's a natural, but how about David Essex doing "Yesterday," Leo Sayer on "Let It Be," or the Four Seasons interpreting "We Can Work It Out"? Where the dismal soundtrack to the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band had hits and misses, this is a very cohesive and impressive work of art. The Brothers Johnson re-create Hey Jude, and its soulful reading is not what Earth, Wind and Fire did to "Got To Get You Into My Life" -- their Top Ten 1978 hit from the Sgt. Pepper soundtrack -- but it is just as cool. In 1994 BMG released Symphonic Music of the Rolling Stones, which had Marianne Faithful sounding like Melanie Safka on "Ruby Tuesday" (or is it the other way around) and Mick Jagger re-creating "Angie," but that was 18 years after this, and doesn't have the marquee value of this double-vinyl LP chock full of stars. This is four sides of orchestrated Beatles, with the Status Quo, Ambrosia, and Bryan Ferry on a version of "She's Leaving Home" that was meant exclusively for him, as is Helen Reddy's take on "Fool on the Hill." Leo Sayer gets to do "The Long and Winding Road" as well as "I Am the Walrus," while Frankie Valli does "A Day in the Life" to augment his Four Seasons track. It is nice to see Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood on the same album again, Wood with "Polythene Pam"and "Lovely Rita," future Beatles co-producer Jeff Lynne cutting his teeth on about seven minutes of "With a Little Help From My Friends"/"Nowhere Man." Tina Turner reprises her classic "Come Together," Elton John, of course, has to weigh in with "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," while the Bee Gees are spread out over the record doing bits and pieces of the Abbey Road medley, "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight" on side one, less than two minutes of "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" on side two, and two minutes of "Sun King" on side three. Frankie Laine, Status Quo, and a delirious Keith Moon add to the festivities, but it is the Peter Gabriel track which gets the nod as the over-the-top performance here; Moon's rant is so out-there and off-key it disturbs the momentum. We have to give him a pass, though. It's Keith Moon, and he never made it to 64! Keep in mind that, two years later, the Bee Gees, Helen Reddy, Frankie Valli, and Tina Turner would show up in the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band soundtrack and film as well, so maybe this is where the idea for that came to be. Utilizing the Elton John number-one hit from two years earlier, "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," insures that a Beatle is involved in this project, as John Lennon performed on that single under the name Dr. Winston O'Boogie, though it might have been interesting had they added the Royal Philharmonicto the original tape. Well, on second thought, maybe not. Still, it is a classic, classic album that deserves a better place in rock history, certainly more so than the aforementioned Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack. Definitely worth seeking out.« Less
Posted by Joe Viglione Jun 18, 2004

 The Endless Summer by The Sandals

The Sandals Wild As The Sea -
The Endless Summer / The Ski Bums
Review by Joe Viglione
Wild as the Sea: Complete Sandals 1964-1969 holds 31 tracks —77 minutes of great surf sounds from the Sandals, a low-key Ventures-like group with the distinction of having created the music for the classic Bruce Brown film, The Endless Summer. This record is an incessant party, starting with a dozen instrumental tracks which saturate the brain but are not as redundant as say, the Ramones, the nuances of the jingling-jangling guitars making for great background to any party. These vignettes mostly clock in around the two-minute mark, the vocals on "All Over Again" are pretty humorous with some very uplifting changes and harmonica. The song "Endless Summer" owes more to the Four Seasons than the Beach Boys, and is not to be confused with the title that opens this package, the instrumental "The Theme From Endless Summer."

Wild as the Sea: Complete Sandals 1964-1969 Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Wild as the Sea: Complete Sandals 1964-1969 holds 31 tracks --77 minutes of great surf sounds from the Sandals, a low-key Ventures-like group with the distinction of having created the music for the classic Bruce Brown film, The Endless Summer. This record is an incessant party, starting with a dozen instrumental tracks which saturate the brain but are not as redundant as say, the Ramones, the nuances of the jingling-jangling guitars making for great background to any party. These vignettes mostly clock in around the two-minute mark, the vocals on "All Over Again" are pretty humorous with some very uplifting changes and harmonica. The song "Endless Summer" owes more to the Four Seasons than the Beach Boys, and is not to be confused with the title that opens this package, the instrumental "The Theme From Endless Summer." Listen to that first track and see if Hugo Montenegro & His Orchestra didn't borrow flavors from this for his 1968 hit "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." Stephen McParland's essay Endlessly Summer is all we've come to expect from these excellent releases created by Australia's Raven Records. McParland calls it "An abridged story of the Sandals" history poured over the 12-page booklet which makes for fascinating reading as the music plays. There's material from the film soundtrack to Endless Summer and Last of the Ski Bums, as well as various non-LP singles all making for a true '60s artifact worth seeking out. Hearing this music makes one want to dash down to the video store to rent The Endless Summer, proving Jimi Hendrix wrong when he says you'll never have to hear surf music again! It's well over an hour's worth of listening time with gems like "Children of the Sun," which creates a different kind of atmosphere with its mellow strums and interesting feel. This isn't just another surf band, there's true creativity on the three-and-a-half minute "Coming Down Slow," and interesting acoustics and fuzz in "Summer's Gone." If not as complex as Esquivel's See It in Sound. The Sandals compilation still creates the same mood and stimulating effect. Play both at your next retro-party. When track 22, "Yellow Dove," comes on, you can turn down the volume to Mick Jagger's Performance film and let this be the audio. Try it!


by Joe Viglione [-]

MGM re-released the first three Velvet Underground discs in all sorts of combinations, but this one is the strangest. Archetypes: The Velvet Underground is the exact White Light/White Heat album minus the brilliant skull and crossbones black-light cover by Andy Warhol. Instead, the Archetypes cover resembles The Terminator and has nothing to do with the music inside: Two helmeted bikers stand outside a Woolworth store flanking what looks like a weight scale. What this has to do with White Light/White Heat is anybody's guess. In addition to the Velvet Underground, this series re-released albums by Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Allen Ginsburg, Tim Hardin, The Blues Project, Hank Williams, and the Small Faces. What, no Herman's Hermits or Cowsills? The liner notes on the Velvets' Archetypes album sleeve (presumably used for all the albums in the series) notes that Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" was a recent hit around the time of this release, putting it circa 1972 (good old MGM didn't put the date on the label). For a company that allegedly unloaded acts involved with drugs (probably dropping the Velvet Underground during that "housecleaning" phase), the five-and-dime down-home album cover for a re-release of this psychotic classic is more than deceptive, it is the epitome of paradox. But look on the bright side: It is yet another Velvet Underground collector's item. To capitalize on Reed's solo success, a definitive statement splashed on the cover might have been more successful: "Vital music by Lou Reed -- Contains the 17-plus minute classic 'Sister Ray'." But no such luck. Heck, even the Mobile Fidelity reissue of the album contained the famous skull and crossbones on the back cover, making for yet another collector's item. Come to think of it, a "high-end" version of this grunge classic is just as much a paradox as the five-and-dime cover. Absolutely necessary for Velvet Underground completists.

Teenage Suicide Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

Crunch. That's what happens when you mix two parts Slade with one part Rolling Stones and feature the future frontman for the final incarnation of The Joe Perry Project. Teenage Suicide by Thundertrain is a rare look at rock & roll attitude which slugged it out in the trenches of Boston with the likes of Charlie Farren's Balloon, Ralph Mormon's Daddy Warbux, the Real Kids, mainstream rockers Susan, Willie Loco Alexander's Boom Boom Band, and so many others. Thundertrain were not punks, but they were more accepted in the punk environment than the Beams and the Dead End Kids, probably because Mach Bell's stage antics were proof that they acted like underground rockers, despite the band's music being so slick, tight, and hard edged. The album starts off with "Hot for Teacher," their second 45, and college radio hit. The presence of ex-Velvet Underground pianist Willie "Loco" Alexander gives the disc an authentic rock & roll feel, and it is a great opening track. The bulk of the material is written by lead guitarist Steven Silva, and features creative, sludgey riffs which give Bell's "I just gargled with Draino" voice a board with which to ride the electric surf. Rhythm guitarist Gene Provost contributes three songs to this debut: "Love the Way," the anthem-like "Hell Tonite," which kicks off side two, and "Forever & Ever." He's no mere rhythm guitarist; like Keith Richards, he can make the instrument snarl as Steve Silva goes off on a tangent. Produced by Earthquake Morton and Nighthawk Jackson, engineered by George Lilly, one gets the feeling the Duke & the Drivers guys were behind this project -- the Drivers being one of Boston's major blues-rock outfits. Eight of the nine tracks were recorded at Northern Studios, while the final cut, their showstopper "I Gotta Rock," was tracked live at the Rat nightclub in Boston -- the song is one of their two tracks on the legendary Live at the Rat album. Teenage Suicide can't show you Mach Bell's enormous stage presence, and that was a big part of their appeal -- we can only hope videos from the time have survived. It also doesn't have the polish a major label might have afforded them, but it does capture the energy and creative spark of a major Boston personality who would go on to work with a member of Aerosmith, and his bandmates who were a formidable and powerful bunch on stage.

Rollin' On Duke and the Drivers Rollin' On Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

Duke & the Drivers were contemporaries of the J. Geils Band and opened for them on many a bill. Where Eddie Kramer produced their first LP, Deke Richards came aboard to oversee this second and final album for ABC Records. In the early '90s, the band would release a CD of a live performance thanks to original bassist Greg Morton, owner of Jelly Records. Their penchant for reworking old blues tunes and putting the "Duke" stamp on them is evidenced here. Two titles from Eddie Bocage, who co-wrote "Keep a Knockin'" with Little Richard, appear on this disc, "Check Your Bucket" and "Check Yourself." "Bucket" was a Boston-area favorite when the band opened for Leslie West and Lou Reed in the '70s. The title track, "Rollin' On," written by guitarist/vocalist Sam Deluxe -- whose real name is Joe Lilly of Lilly Pharmaceuticals -- sounds like an extended sequel to the Bachman Turner Overdrive hit from the year before, "Roll on Down the Highway." Duke & the Drivers were very clever in being blatant about their inspirations, but camouflaging all the musical stuff that turned them on. The result is hardly original, but that is their charm. The only other original on the album is Cadillac Jack's "Love on My Hands." "Jack" is actually Henry Eaton, who became a newsman for Boston's WLVI, TV 56, and in 2001, is an elected official, Assistant District Attorney or something. A far cry from rocking and rolling on Boston stages. The song is another Boston R&B meets the Philly sound. It sounds cool decades after the fact, but when recorded it was totally annoying. Pre-rap, rockers were really against disco, and this song is some weird hybrid of the two. "Check Yourself" has Sam Deluxe sounding so much like Peter Wolf one wonders if it is a tribute band with sax performing on this cut. D. Greg's "Let Me Be Your Handyman" reads like an inverted "Sunshine of Your Love" riff with sentiment heavily borrowed from Jimmy Johnson's 1960 hit "Handyman." "I'll Take Good Care of You," written by producer Deke Richards, opens side two. It is very unlike Duke & the Drivers, the sound of Philadelphia over a melody and keyboard fragrance which may have inspired Billy Joel's 1983 hit "Allentown." The similarities are striking. Recorded at Northern Studio in Maynard, MA, and the Sound Factory in West Los Angeles, Rollin On fits nicely next to the J. Geils Band's earthy R&B-flavored rock.

 Cruisin' Review  DUKE AND THE DRIVERS 

by Joe Viglione [-]

The only photo of the band has six faces peering out of a rearview mirror on the back cover. Duke & the Drivers look like the J. Geils Band, and listening to "Ain't Nothing a Young Girl Can Do for Me" with blindfold on will make one swear it is indeed the J. Geils Band. That was part of the charm of this '70s blues-rock act out of Boston. Eddie Kramer's production, especially on the big regional hit "What You Got," is immense. No, it didn't land in the national Top 40, but it should have. The arrangement sounds like Grand Funk Railroad's Top Three hit from December 1974; J.Ellison's "Some Kind of Wonderful" and the thunderous drums from Rhinestone Mudflapps (aka, the late, great Bobby Chouinard) are explosive dance stuff. The song should have catapulted them to fame and "Lovebones" from side two would have been a nice follow-up. The demo to "Lovebones" had a magic of its own and would be a nice bonus track addition to a CD re-release of this first effort. A blues-rock band covering Gamble & Huff, Otis Redding, Don Covay, and Ike Turner in a world that was home to the Cars and Aerosmith was risky stuff indeed, more so because this band walked on sacred ground with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Regardless, "What You Got" is a classic, and the reformed J.Geils Band would do well to consider adding it to their repertoire. The urban legend is that management for the band hired a flatbed truck parked outside of the big Top 40 radio station in Boston asking why they weren't playing "What You Got." It got added into rotation and brightened up the airwaves for awhile. Cruisin' has some fine moments recorded with great care by Eddie Kramer, and is worth searching for.
Harder Than Before Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

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. The 4:41 album track is great, but so is the 6:28 extended mix, which should have been included on the album. "Got funk all over the place/started on my hands/ended up on my face" gives an idea of what these guys have been singing about all these years -- wine, women and song -- in no particular order. The mayhem bubbling throughout borrows liberally from both Marvin Gaye's production work and that density Jimmy Miller put into the Rolling Stones' "Tumblin' Dice." The big difference is that "Tumblin' Dice" was a stunningly majestic blur while Marvin Gaye wove so many clean textures that they became complex. This polishes those ideas into a remarkable concoction of soul, R&B and rock that has a terrific stereo mix which generates non-stop excitement. Duke & the Drivers were always fun on record, but this goes beyond the irreverence of "Love Bones," and their great hit, "What You Got," both off of the Eddie Kramer produced 1975 debut, into an entirely different realm. The stuff here is just masterful, still tongue-in-cheek, but played with chops the band didn't have back in the day. Kenny White, Doug Dube, and over a dozen other musicians all contribute to this tour de force and it really is a team effort. The pity here is that these fellows took three decades to keep the party going. If Dr. John took "Another Kind of Love," there's no telling where it could go, but as recorded here it provides a nice change of pace, a south of the border lament that has a little smile tucked inside the seriousness, which is the whole reason Duke & the Drivers exist. "Prodigal Son" concludes the album like a lost track from Beggars Banquet that a bar band picked up and decided to issue years after the fact. No, it's not the Reverend Robert Wilkins song the Stones covered, but it's got a groove and all the elements radio in the new millennium is in desperate need of.

The Ventures Play the Greatest Surfin' Hits Of All-Time by Ventures Review by Joe Viglione
Varese Sarabande has outdone itself with this marvelous package of surf instrumentals by the Ventures, containing 18 tracks that surely fit into the "space age bachelor pad" category of fun sounds with the superb playing that listeners expect from the legendary group. "Out of Limits" is short and sweet at 1:59 -- but full of vibrant '60s energy and distinctive guitar. From the "Hawaii Five-O" theme to the tension of "Lonely Surfer," this is a really superb lineup of songs, a nice companion disc to the In Search of Eddie Riff masterpiece by Roxy Music's Andy Mackay. Sure, fans of the Ventures have heard it all, but for those outside of the cult who want a great slice of work from a veteran group with an enormous catalog, this collection is it. It comes with a detailed eight-page booklet with Jim Pewter liner notes and images of bathing suits in front of the waves. What more could one ask for? Musical ramblings like "Baja" are most welcome, and as interesting as "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" and the very cool rendition of "Wipe Out." It's not the Surfaris "Wipe Out," mind you; it's more laid-back and party-sounding -- as if the band were playing in the back of a Saturday night dancehall on some obscure lake in the forest, bringing the waves and the sun to those in the dark. There's a lot of depth to this disc, which you will definitely want to explore (and try to imitate in your garage with your Fender amp) and play over and over again. ~ Joe Viglione
The Ventures: Bob Bogle, Don Wilson, Leon Taylor, Mel Taylor, Gerry McGee,
Nokie Edwards.
Additional personnel includes: Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (guitar); Jane Wiedlin (background vocals).
Producers include: Don Wilson, Bob Bogle, Leon Taylor, Neil Norman, The Ventures.
Compilation producer: Cary E. Mansfield.
Engineers include: Craig Nepp, Rick Hackley, Brant Biles.
Recorded between 1981 and 2000. Includes liner notes by Jim Pewter.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Personnel: Gerry McGee (vocals); Jeff Baxter (guitar); Mel Taylor, Leon Taylor (snare drum); Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey (background vocals).
Liner Note Author: Jim Pewter.
Recording information: Biff Vincent's Front Page Studios, Glendale, GA (1981-2000).
Arrangers: Dan Phillips; The Ventures.

 Joe Viglione reviews Barry Goudreau on AMG:

Together with alum from the band Boston, Barry Goudreau put together an interesting nine songs recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles. It's the distinctive Boston guitar sound with more basic rock & roll. "What's a Fella to Do" could be a sequel to "Rock and Roll Band"; "Mean Woman Blues" goes in an almost Foghat direction. Fran Cosmo's vocals feel a bit more British than Brad Delp, and "Leavin' Tonight" leans more toward producer Mike Chapman and the sound of the Sweet than one would expect. Goudreau's guitar and Syb Hashian's drums are a powerful combo -- no bassist is listed. The song "Dreams" gave Goudreau's self-titled debut the radio attention it deserved, and a bit of a following. This track definitely sounds like the band Boston which, rumor has it, upset Tom Scholz. In 1992 singer Delp and guitarist Goudreau joined Brian Maes & the Memory. They rode the Maes original "Until Your Love Comes Back Around" into the Top 30 in America, and the Return to Zero album was a nice reunion for the two major forces behind this. "Life Is What We Make It" and "Cold Cold World" are good slices of American hard rock. More refined than Grand Funk Railroad and not as slick as the Mickey Thomas version of Starship, the Barry Goudreau album is a fun record free from the restrictions of Scholz's meticulous production. While "Cold Cold World" may evoke thoughts of the song "Long Time," the string quartet on "Sailin' Away" gives the album a depth and identity. Just a bunch of professional musicians playing what they like and coming up with a gem. ~ Joe Viglione
Producer: John Boylan, Barry Goudreau
Personnel includes: Barry Goudreau; Brad Delp (vocals); Sib Hashian (drums); Fran Cosmo.
Includes liner notes written by Barry Goudreau.
Personnel: Barry Goudreau (vocals, guitar); Fran Cosmo, Brad Delp (vocals); Joy Lyle, Sid Sharp (violin); David Schwartz (viola); Jesse Ehrlich (cello); Sib Hashian (drums, percussion).
Audio Remasterer: Jon Astley.
Liner Note Authors: Derek Oliver; Dave Cockett.
Recording information: The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA; Westlake Audio, Los Angeles, CA; Woodland Sound Studios, Nashville, TN.
Photographers: Ron Pownall; Rich Galbraith; Brad Delp.


JULY 18 2023


  • review by Joe Viglione Joe Vig Top 40 Peter Frampton; BREAKING ALL THE RULES
  • Breaking All the Rules is a good, solid effort by Peter Frampton which would have been better had he decided to break a few rules. The problem here is that Frampton is treading water, in familiar territory, singing and playing within the confines of a well constructed safe record. There is a brilliant hook in "Going to L.A." which might have been a hit had co-producer David Kershenbaum given it a little of what he would inject into Tracy Chapman seven years after this. A strong vocal from Frampton as well as a strong performance, but a failure to do what his last three albums did: generate a Top 20 hit! Billy & Bobby Alessi's "Rise Up" is in the pocket, one of the album's highlights, though it tends to sound like John Cougar's 1979 chart climber "I Need a Lover," chock full of the sound from that record and a little out of place here. Vanda and Young's eternal "Friday on My Mind" is decent, certainly better than Alice Cooper guitarist Michael Bruce's version, but not typical of Peter Frampton's repertoire and almost unnecessary. The production on this Easybeats cover is noticeably thinner than the rest of the disc. Bostonian David Finnerty's "I Don't Wanna Let You Go" shows up here, but it doesn't have the snap of his 1975 hit, "Let's Live Together," and sounds as labored as the Joneses, that author's 1980s band on Atlantic. "Lost a Part of You" is a worthy album track sequel to "I'm in You," Frampton's biggest hit, but is more laid-back in performance. There are some clever riffs that help make "You Kill Me" and the title tune interesting. "Breaking All the Rules," in particular, has a Sabbath-inspired fuzz guitar line from the Rolling Stones' "Bitch." Where he does break the rules is that Procol Harum lyricist Keith Reid writes the words on this title number, despite some of Frampton's best lyrics appearing on his own compositions. Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro provide guitar and drums as part of a more than competent band on an equally competent recording. Making a good record was not what was required of Peter Frampton at this point in time, he had to come back with something spectacular. Breaking All the Rules is hampered by its creator's position in the rock hierarchy, but shouldn't be overlooked because of that. ~ Joe Viglione
Producer: Peter Frampton, David Kershenbaum Personnel: Peter Frampton (vocals, guitar, keyboards, guitar synthesizer); Peter Frampton; Ed Monteleone, Ed Mantleone (guitar); Arthur Stead (keyboards, background vocals); John Regan (bass guitar); Steve Lukather (guitar, background vocals); Jeff Porcaro (drums).
  • Audio Mixer: Harvey Goldberg.
  • Liner Note Author: Malcolm Dome.
  • Recording information: Charlie Chaplan Sound Stage, A&M Records; Mediasound, New York, NY.

  • The Best of the Joe Perry Project: The Music Still Does the Talking
    Joe Perry / Joe Perry Project
    (CD - Raven #RVCD 98)

    Perry, Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp

    DATE July 28, 2023
    EVENT STARTS 8:00 PM VENUE Wang Theatre

    Review by Joe Viglione

    Australia's Raven Records has released another important retrospective -- a focus on guitarist Joe Perry's three solo albums and the three frontmen who put their voices on those discs. Ralph Mormon performed on Let the Music Do the Talking prior to his stint in Savoy Brown, and that may have been the better band for his bluesy voice. The excellent liner notes by Ian McFarlane give a very clear history of "The Project" and their accuracy is amazing. Given Aerosmith's success, it is odd that Sony hasn't released a similar compilation -- or that this one isn't being imported in droves, since Perry is a legend, and his work while estranged from the hard rock phenomenon that is Aerosmith deserves attention, no matter how dark the period was for the guitarist personally. The album is a very good overview while purists and fans would, of course, prefer two CDs and all the tracks. "Listen to the Rock" from I've Got the Rock & Rolls Again is missing, and that was one of their key tunes; also, there were numerous outtakes or demo tapes from the period of Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker -- lead singer Mach Bell played one for this writer called "When Worlds Collide" and it is incredible -- those aforementioned tracks and other goodies would have really rounded this out. But these are minor quibbles. Hearing each phase of the Joe Perry Project from start to finish is textbook rock & roll and highly enjoyable. Charlie Farren eventually landed his own deal on Warner Bros. with Farrenheit, but imagine if Perry had stayed along for that ride? The music in the middle of this disc -- "East Coast, West Coast," "Buzz Buzz," and "I've Got the Rock & Rolls Again" -- were indicators of a developing sound, and Farren was the perfect partner for Perry to develop a sound to rival, not revisit, Aerosmith. Thundertrain lead singer Mach Bell, on the other hand, is truly the guy to add chaos to this touring unit. Bell is one of the most charismatic frontmen from the New England music scene, and his Thundertrain band mixed Rolling Stones with Slade, so Perry traded a vocalist/songwriter for a total madman. The video of track 16, "Black Velvet Pants," is a story in itself, and it shows Bell in all his rock & roll glory, while the inclusion of T. Rex's "Bang a Gong" is the one cover, and perfect for Mach with his British rock leanings. The three phases of the Joe Perry Project -- blues singer Mormon, songwriter/vocalist Farren, and stage performer Bell -- is a vitally important chapter in American rock & roll, which Raven and McFarlane have lovingly packaged and preserved. If any reissue has a chance of finding a new audience, this is it.


Sweetzerland Manifesto is Joe Perry having fun again, as he did with 1982/1983’s Once A Rocker Always a Rocker, only more so. “Rumble in the Jungle” is no relation to Jethro Tull’s 1974 epic, “Bungle in the Jungle,” it is ­­­an exciting soundscape arranged by the Aeromsith guitarmaster with drums programmed by one of Joe’s sons, Anthony Perry, percussion and vocals from Colin Douglas with backing vocals by Colin and co-producer Jack Douglas. It is both highly entertaining and not anticipated music, the avant-garde approach(for you young readers “new and unusual or experimental ideas, especially in the arts, or the people introducing them”) that permeates the entire album in a surprising and very positive way. JP’s arrangement is sublime with a descending line straight out of the late producer Jimmy Miller’s Spencer Davis/Chicago classic “I’m a Man.”

Growling Brit vocalist Terry Reid brings his talents to “I’ll Do Happiness,” and it is a revelation with magical quasi-gospel backing vocals, Zack Starkey’s drums and riveting guitar work from Perry. The album is a montage of different vibrations, much like – coincidentally – the current release from Jimi Hendrix – Both Sides of the Sky. The difference being, of course, that the Hendrix disc is a compilation (the third and concluding part of an amazing trilogy of releases from Jimi for we musicologists) whose titles would most likely never have been placed in this order by the artist – because they would have appeared in different spaces of the Hendrix catalog, if at all… Joe Perry gets to place his work carefully, and the sequencing grooves very nicely.

“Aye Aye Aye” features Robin Zander on vocals and is a co-write with JP. The song and Robin’s appearance reminds me of a Cheap Trick Orpheum show where a young lady had her breasts autographed by Zander (???)…she saw me and said “Joe, what are you doing here? You don’t like Cheap Trick!” I replied “I’ve come to Fxxx Robin Zander,” which, of course, wasn’t true because he’s not my type…except for his being featured on this disc, which is how we want him, adding spice to this most recent “Perry Project,” which IS a project and unfolds with all sorts of amazement. “I Wanna Roll” is a co-write with David Johansen, the New York Dolls singer on vocals, co-produced by Jack Douglas with Zak Starkey’s boom boom jungle beat drumming throughout and a beautiful interplay between dad Joe Perry’s guitar and son Roman Perry’s synth.

Aerosmith fans will be delighted with the album’s independent identity and image. “I Wanna Roll,” “Rumble in the Jungle,” “I’ll Do Happiness,” the convergence of multiple voices – Johansen, Zander, Reid on their respective contributions with Joe Perry singing P.F. Sloan’s immortal classic, “Eve of Destruction,” brings a cohesive variety that makes the appeal great for the audience beyond the millions and millions of Aerosmith fans out there.

Where the successful 1999 Supernatural disc from Santana (15 times platinum in the U.S.) was intentionally jolting, reaching a massive audience but flowing in a jagged fashion, Sweetzerland Manifesto brings the dissimilar chord changes into the fold smoothly, allowing for a good listen from track to track without the lurching that Santana’s masterpiece felt for the listener over the first few spins.

Back to “Eve of Destruction,” that 1965 #1 hit from Barry Maguire of the New Christy Minstrels, great choice for a cover in these times, the dark, blues-based pop song is portrayed here as a slow, methodical stomp, and a “180” from the opening neo-science fiction aura of “Rumble in the Jungle.” Speaking of Neo (from the Matrix this time,) Perry’s attire within all five photos of the album jacket and panels has Perry as the dominant force that he is. Each Joe Perry solo project has merit, and where out-takes from 1983’s Once a Rocker would make for an impressive re-release of that outing, Sweetzerland Manifesto is something more. It is one part incredible blues album with “I’m Going Crazy,” “Haberdasher Blues,” “Sick and Tired ”(you won’t be able to get Terry Reid’s angry and naughty vocal out of your head) all morphing on track 10 back to hard rock as “Won’t Let Me Go” is straight out of Deep Purple’s “Perfect Strangers,” and equally as memorable.

There are two bonus tracks on the Record Store Day release (April 21, 2018)that we can all look forward to while Perry appears at the House of Blues in Boston on April 18, 2018, with a band that we hear is full of big surprises. All in all, Joe Perry has delivered the unexpected with this disc; it is one of those albums that you will pull out and play repeatedly. It’s not just very, very good, Sweetzerland Manifesto is extraordinary.

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.

In a Roman Mood Review by Joe Viglione [-]
RIP Windle

"Andy Fell," "Pound," and "Land of the Glass Pinecones" are three extraordinary pieces of music on an equally extraordinary album. For those who felt producer Mike Thorne missed the mark with 'Til Tuesday and some of the Shirts' Street Light Shine album, he redeems himself here recording this essential Boston band with both accuracy -- something many of the contemporaries of Human Sexual Response failed to get -- and great production. Andy didn't fall in "Andy Fell," nor was he pushed. He jumped. It's a song about suicide at a dormitory, a frightening and haunting prophecy, since this practice had come into vogue at campuses around Boston in the late '90s. The drums on "Marone Offering" kick right in, as does Rich Gilbert's incessant guitar. The band's genius was generated by the multiple vocalists fronting a perfect rock unit. Imagine a hard rock Temptations during their experimental period fronted by the B-52's. It's a strange mixture that worked, thanks to a combination of talents, all who contributed mightily. "Keep a Southern Exposure" is not one of the band's more well-known tunes, but it provides insight towards their unlimited creativity and ability to execute. Discovered by Don Rose, who went on to form the legendary Rykodisc label before it was purchased by Chris Blackwell, the two HSR Passport Audio albums were re-released on Eat Records, distributed by Rykodisc. Eat was Don Rose's imprint prior to the creation of Rykodisc.

"Blow Up" is the closest HSR came to sounding like the B-52's, a violent song about destruction with the classic line "faster pussycats kill kill." "House of Atreus" is a strange one, a long Larry Bangor epistle which leads into what might be their finest moment, "Land of the Glass Pinecones." This song takes the theme of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" even deeper. Though "What Does Sex Mean to Me" from the first album got into the film Threesome, and while both the demo and LP version of "Jackie O'Nassis" became hits, as well as their signature tune, "Land of the Glass Pinecones" is a sacred moment in modern rock. It's pure magic with intense voices and blitzing bass and guitars. Members of this band branched off to become the Zulus, while Dini Lamot re-emerged as the successful and highly notorious drag queen Musty Chiffon, who includes "Jackie O'Nassis" in his stage act. Outside of a few "reunion" gigs, this essential act is no more, yet In a Roman Mood remains a tremendous work of art just waiting to be rediscovered. Seek out the 12" single of "Pound" from this LP.

 Rhythm Method Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

With a better image on the back cover photo than the pictures in the previous album -- and a dreadful front cover drawing by Larry Blamire -- the wonderful Rings lean more toward Roxy Music meets Herman's Hermits on their second album released the same year as their first. "Uh Oh (Here I Go Again)" is a very clever sequel to "Let Me Go," their minor hit from the first LP, and sounding nothing like the first disc. The progression on this album is amazing considering how quickly it followed on the heels of the self-titled debut. "Take the Chance" is Split Enz meets the Ventures, these guys mop riffs right and left, but they key is, they know where to lift, and when. More cohesive than albums released in the same time period by the Atlantics on ABC, Willie Alexander also on MCA, Robin Lane on Warner Bros., Private Lighting on A&M, and the Nervous Eaters on Elektra, the Rings have the benefit of their own production skills, their fate squarely in their own hands. They overcame the production curse that imploded all the aforementioned groups' efforts, but, despite that plus, this superb music just never caught on. Michael Baker's "Talk Back" equals his work on the first album, but nothing here achieved the regional airplay in New England like the Rings' debut. This project is crisp, the vocals are on target, and the band captured something at the Record Plant in New York which many of their peers could not -- the performance of their live energy to the studio recordings. "Love's Not Safe" is quirky pop that works, and the title track truly experimental, but the material is not as explosive as their brilliant debut. Still, it's top-shelf stuff. The Rhythm Method and the previous outing, The Rings, would make a nice retrospective combined on one CD. Innovative music that somehow escaped attention.
The Rings Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

The self-titled debut album from The Rings had everything going for it: great production by the band, management by New England promotion guy Al Perry, putting them in the same envious position held by the Cars, representation by a guy who knew all the right radio people, and excellent songwriting by everyone in the group. Comparisons to the Cars are obvious, but Michael Baker shared the limelight with bassist Bob Gifford and lead guitarist Mark Sutton. Maybe the problem with selling the group was their lack of image. The album cover, a pink hula hoop descending on a swimming pool, may not have been as exciting as the rings of Saturn, and the photos of drummer Matt Thurber and the rest of the group are so plain that they mislead. The band is closer to Devo in style, but the Rings' eclectic pop was far more commercial. From the sounds of the last track "Third Generation" and its psychedelic Harry Belafonte riff, to the magnetism of the first track, "Opposites Attract," this band had everything going for it. "I Need Strange" is the quintessential anthem for men on the prowl; "Got My Wish" is a stunner, a pop tune that pulls you into its space; and "Watch You Break" is just tremendous with infectious music and lyrics. Was it MCA that couldn't deliver superstardom for these guys? Or was it just bad luck that made for only two major-label releases and no national spotlight? They had a local following, and from the basic rock & roll of "My Kinda Girl" -- almost an answer to the Real Kids "All Kinda Girls" -- to "Who's She Dancing With," the Rings pretty much cover the musical spectrum of rock without doing a ballad. "I Need Strange" is the Cars doing an up-tempo "Moving in Stereo" -- just terrific. There's not a bad track on this album and it is such a shame that they came and went like a great web page you try to save, but it's gone before you know it.

36  Dog Bar Yacht Club

Dog Bar Yacht Club Review by Joe Viglione [-]
When Willie "Loco" Alexander & the Boom Boom Band split after 1979's Meanwhile...Back in the States on MCA, Alexander immediately picked up the slack by having a Boston area power trio, the Neighborhoods, back him up on-stage while he began recording the first of his many releases on the European New Rose label. The original Boom Boom Band reunited 23 years later, only to go into the studio owned by the Neighborhoods' guitarist/vocalist David Minehan. The results are phenomenally great, only proving that had the rock & roll minefields not existed to stand in this juggernaut's way, Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band would have emerged as Boston's answer to the Rolling Stones, and then some. While there is new material here, the band doesn't shy away from recovering some of the music Alexander released after the split. "Oh Daddy Oh" from 1982's A Girl Like You album gets a driving new finish, while "Ogalala," originally issued on 1997's Persistence of Memory Orchestra CD, has a new perspective that gives Alexander the platform to go "loco," the stuff that made this group so irresistible in the first place. "Who Killed Deanna" from 1999's East Main Street Suite is one of the album's highlights -- the "Som-Som-Somerville" hook is haunting inside a true murder mystery that happened on the outskirts of Boston. That album also featured a track entitled "Ocean Condo II," which was a reworking of the original "Ocean Condo" from 1988's The Dragons Are Still Out, reprised here with Billy Loosigian's amazing guitar work as "Ocean Condo III," of course. The band also rocks out "AAWW" -- which some of the fans decipher as "All American Woman Wife" -- the flip of a 45 that was originally intensified by the band from the live Autre Chose album in 1982. It's a tasty way for the devoted to see how this material would've played out had the Boom Boom Band stayed together. Even the underground classic "Telephone Sex" from 1984's Taxi-Stand Diane EP finds itself resurrected here to good effect. Keep in mind that this group began by picking up the material Alexander was releasing on the independent Garage label in the mid-'70s, so one also gets the vibe that the group is truly going back to its roots and reinventing stuff that Willie did separately. A cover of scenester Emily XYZ's "Hey Kid" gives the band a different "new wave" feel, while Alexander and Loosigian combine to write four new tunes, including the interesting "Mystery Training," which dips into Willie's jazzier influences. The Boom Booms deliver close to 60 minutes of triumph, an album that is among their finest studio work to date, equal to the superb (and still missing in action) Craig Leon-produced demos from Dimension Studios in 1977 that landed them their deal with MCA. Dog Bar Yacht Club is no fluke; in performance Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band play this material flawlessly and with the fury they had when they reigned as the kings of the Boston scene.

37)Willie Loco Alexander's Greatest Hits 

Co-produced by Joe Viglione

Review by Joe Viglione

Greatest Hits Review by Joe Viglione [-]
It may have been Genya Ravan who said, "What's the point of putting out a 'greatest-hits' album if you have no hits"; the thinking, of course, is to use the words "best of" instead. But to the French, Boston, New York, and L.A. underground, Willie "Loco" Alexander is a true hero, an artist who is both prolific and original, and to those fans, these are his "hits." Outside of the live double-LP Autre Chose on New Rose and the ultra-rare Sperm Bank Babies LP (only 500 were pressed of this circa-1977 WERS radio broadcast by Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band), there are three studio collections of Alexander's work on the market, Northeast's 1991 U.S. release Boom Boom Ga Ga, Fan Club's Fifteen Years of Rock & Roll with Willie Alexander on New Rose's subsidiary released in France in 1990, and 1985's Willie Loco Alexander's Greatest Hits, also released in France on the Fan Club imprint. Eight of the titles here show up again five years later on the 20-track CD but, surprisingly, six of the titles were replaced. Of the six that you can find on Willie Loco Alexander's Greatest Hits, two of them are absolutely vital -- the "You Looked so Pretty When" 45 and its flip "Hit Her Wid de Axe." The original producer, the late Stephan Lovelace, was going through a divorce and refused to mail the original masters to the artist, so engineer Karen Kane EQ'd the original 45s of the two aforementioned titles and Willie's solo debut 45 "Mass. Ave." and "Kerouac." "You Looked so Pretty When," in particular, is essential to the story of this artist. For an independent 45, the production is stunning: it's a rock & roll band emulating Phil Spector's Wall of Sound without a Wall of Sound, just with their instruments. It survives as one of the finest moments from the new wave of 1976. Decades later, it is still a powerful rock & roll statement, as is "Pup Tune," which both Fan Club releases shamelessly lift from the vintage Live at the Rat album. Both French releases incorrectly label the song as "Pop Tune," but that is so misleading. In actuality, it is a demented, sizzling rock masterpiece regarding Alexander's obsession with Ronnie Spector, a song about some omnisexual drunken stupor where a dog eats someone's panties and does unmentionable things with them. It is sheer brilliance, the maniacal performance of the band, with Loco screaming "baby I love you" over the ending. As Alexander writes in the brief liners, "This record is ten years of vinyl nuts and guts. Loco Boom Boom Gaga Rock & Roll."

Don't let his eccentricities throw you off the scent; this is a very clever man with lots of rock, jazz, folk, and punk sensibilities. His version of Doc Pomus' "Lonely Avenue" is authentic, while the Gene Vincent cover, "Be Bop a Lula," is one of the most unique versions of this tune you will ever hear. Recorded after the breakup of the Boom Boom Band for New Rose/RCA in 1980, it shows Alexander truly Solo Loco. His ability to create rhythms with the piano or the drums and his grasp of desperation are what rock & roll is all about. The downside here is that the mastering of "Be Bop a Lula" sounds horrible on this disc, not as pure as what is on Solo Loco or the New Rose 1980-2000 boxed set. "Be Bop a Lula" sounds great on those releases, coming through loud and clear. This 14-song album holds lots of keys to Loco the artist. "Bass Rocks" is about Gloucester, MA, but the key riff is Lou Reed's "White Light/White Heat" melody. As a former member of the Velvet Underground, that melody is the only remnant Alexander chooses to give to the world, subliminally, to acknowledge his past. This album covers only the period starting in 1975 with the release of the classic "Kerouac" single, so there is none of his work for the Lost on Capitol or Bagatelle on ABC Records. It's a freeze frame of the solo work this dedicated artist has released to the world, a good collection of important moments in Willie Alexander's career.


Willie Loco Boom Boom Ga Ga, 1975-1991 Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Released a year after the French label New Rose issued Fifteen Years of Rock & Roll With Willie Alexander, this is pretty much the same album with different cover art and some track discrepancies. It, of course, being a year older is Willie "Loco" presenting 16 years of his solo work. None of the material from the Bagatelle on ABC Dunhill, the Lost on Capitol, or his Boom Boom Band work released on MCA appears here, with the exception of "Dirty Eddie," the song considered "too dirty" to put out on either MCA release, it stands as a testament to what could have been had producer Craid Leon just let Willie be Willie. Boom Boom Ga Ga, references to some of Alexander's scat remarks and his wonderfully juvenile promotional scribblings -- "ga ga rock" -- taking this musical form back to its primal stages, is vindication for Alexander in the same way that Didi Stewart's One True Heart (not coincidentally, on the same record company) made her statement away from the politics of her major group and difficult business relationships. Both Alexander and Didi Stewart are true artists, and prime examples of how the business can stand in the way of important art. The art is here, from his regional hit single with Erik Lindgren which opens both the European and American versions of this disc, "In the Pink," to "Kerouac" and "Mass. Ave., his two Stephan Lovelace-produced local singles. The late Stephan Baerenwald, brother to Robin Lane & the Chartbuster's Scott Baerenwald, was the perfect producer for El Loco. His works of genius, the "You Looked So Pretty When" and "Hit Her Wid De Axe" singles included on the American release, but not the French. The two Garage Records 45's which were the demos that landed him his MCA contract, and the single "Gin," which got him the New Rose/RCA deal, are picture perfect moments in Willie Alexander's career. The fans of Loco may take this album for granted, having heard the songs so many times live and on previous releases, but for the world at large, Boom Boom Ga Ga is important history of a man with incredible musical depth and insight. It exists through sheer hard work and years of relentless performing. The live versions of "Pup Tune" and "At the Rat" from the Live at the Rat album are two other key moments in the career, as is "In the Pink." This is actually an extension of 1985's Willie Alexander's Greatest Hits which came out on Fan Club/New Rose in Paris, and because his catalog is so extensive, the 22 tracks make it more accurate than the single LP, but far from comprehensive. Some day Willie "Loco" Alexander will have the six-CD boxed set that he deserves, one of America's great underground heroes who has a catalog so vast and so musical that it is scary.


1982 A Girl Like You Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Electro Acoustic Studios moved from the ambience of Boston's theater district (the drag queens would reportedly have knife fights outside this space across from where the famous Coconut Grove fire happened), the facility where the previous Solo Loco masterpiece was etched, way up to Bethel, ME, a studio in transition changing dramatically the sound of an artist in transition. If Solo Loco was vindication, the artist in complete control after losing his band and MCA contract, A Girl Like You is a trip deeper into the mind of this creative artist, further into the insightful ramblings of Willie Loco's psyche while he was assembling his new group. Commercial music this is not, though it reunites Alexander with Walter Powers, who was with the singer/songwriter when they performed in the Velvet Underground. Alexander downplays that part of his career, though he should be proud of it now; the tragedy was that the Velvets didn't pull a Doobie Brothers, allowing Willie Alexander's material to shift the course of the group the way Michael MacDonald gave that institution a new direction. Alexander is the beatnik to Lou Reed's street poet. Where Alexander gave us the wonderfully eerie "Video Games" on this 1982 disc, Reed countered with "My Red Joystick" in 1984, with Alexander drawing from his Kerouac obsessions and Reed coming from the school of Delmore Schwartz; it's too bad Reed and Alexander didn't team up and push the manager Sesnick out the door, the pairing would have been pure magic. And at the very least they could have played together at the arcade. John Dunton-Downer adds bizarre tenor saxophone, and the brilliant guitar work is from the late Matthew MacKenzie. The odd thing here is that when the Boom Boom Band and Willie Alexander went their separate ways, there was still a third album due on the MCA contract. Matthew MacKenzie fronted the Boom Boom Band and tracked tapes with producer Craig Leon while Leon produced four sides with solo Alexander as well. The shame of it is that they should have brought MacKenzie into the original Boom Boom Band to keep the peace, and much of this could have been the third MCA album. "Dock of the Bay" is fun, but it doesn't have the manic intensity of "Be Bop a Lula" from Solo Loco, or the effect the live Boom Boom rendition of "All I Have to Do Is Dream" had on audiences. "Great Balls of Fire," on the other hand, delivers what Loco's fans expect in a more subdued fashion. A Girl Like You works best when it plays exotic rock; "Bite the Bullet" is underground techno that is the antithesis of the Human League. Dedicated to Thelonious Monk, A Girl Like You is another reason why the great Genya Ravan will make comments like, "I think Willie is the best thing since sliced bread." "The Only Time" is Alexander's reinvention of the blues, while "Oh, Daddy, Oh" would've played relentless on Maynard G. Krebs' transistor had the song been around during the Dobie Gillis era. New Rose labelmates the Troggs caused a stir with A Girl Like You and Alexander takes the concept a step further. Not his most accessible album, but an important link in his deep and valuable catalog.


Meanwhile...Back in the States Review by Joe Viglione [-]
This album should have been listed in the VH1 book Casualties of Rock, the phenomenal sound and fury of Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band condensed and distilled into a homogenized and compressed postcard that hardly represented what the band was all about. In the first place, crediting bassist Severin Grossman, guitarist Billy Loosigian, and drummer David McLean with co-authoring "Mass. Ave.," the solo underground hit single that relaunched Willie Alexander's career, is downright blasphemy. Yes, the Boom Boom Band was a rock & roll treasure on the level of the Rolling Stones, a powerful, self-contained unit that could shake the rafters with their distinct and unbelievable sound, but they weren't around when Alexander stepped out of the Velvet Underground with the Lost bassist Walter Powers and recorded "'Cause I'm Taking You to Bed" at the Orson Welles Recording Studio (a studio under the famous theater in Harvard Square, Cambridge). That vintage recording completely blows away the remake, slyly entitled "For Old Time's Sake" to get by the MCA censors. You read that right, "Rhythm Asshole Baby" became "R.A. Baby" for the almighty gods at the record label, while "Gourmet Baby," a song about cunnilingus, was transformed into "Pass the Tabasco" -- and you can only imagine the frustration for an artist of integrity like Alexander, who was told to sing "I want to kiss you but you give me the hives" (the original lyrics were "I want to eat you but you give me the hives"). Not only were the lyrics censored, the sound was hollowed out, and producer Craig Leon got the band to play by the numbers. Here is the best example of genius being stripped and tortured. The bandmates seemingly went along with this fiasco, implying that Alexander was too "loco" to be given to the public in his raw form. Well, guess what, boys? You got all your fame from Willie "Loco" Alexander being just that. Imagine telling Mick Jagger to sit still and clean up his lyrics?

Alexander and the boys imploded, walking away from a third MCA release, and both factions cut demos with producer Leon on their own -- Alexander recording four eerie and brilliant tracks that have never seen the light of day, but which head him in the direction of what he would put out on RCA in Europe for Solo Loco, vindication that he could get signed without the band that he rocked Boston with. The Boom Boom Band cut three sides with the late Matthew McKenzie of Reddy Teddy with Leon, but the tapes stayed on the shelf. What did find its way out of this maze was a blistering version of their live standard, "Dirty Eddie." Frustrated by the restrictions of MCA, the band tore into that filthy song about golden showers and Alexander released it independently so the world could see what the group was really all about. The flip side of the 45 was an even dirtier, if you can imagine that: "She Wanted Me" (aka "Nazi Nola," for scenester Nola Rezzo) is a song about anal intercourse. Alexander took the Velvet Underground one step further -- that band he was in was named after an S&M book, but Alexander's songs were usually about his own sexual escapades and depravity, real underground stuff that you won't find on Meanwhile...Back in the States. The tragedy of it all is that his music was commercially viable, chock-full of hooks and solid riffs, but not transferred to vinyl the way it should have been. Stephan Lovelace's earlier production of "You Looked So Pretty When" was Phil Spector meets Jimmy Miller, classic Stones by way of the Ronettes. Here Leon plays Dr. Frankenstein and does a Ray Conniff version of a hard rock classic. Now if that isn't enough to make the fans faint and the band implode, well, "Hitchhiking" and "Mass. Ave.," two songs that needed no censorship, still fail to make the grade, giving Alexander the good sense to go hitchhiking on Mass Ave. rather than put up with any more of this. The two MCA releases were issued in Britain under the title Pass the Tabasco, and despite this frightening essay on record industry misconduct, are worth picking up to get a glimpse of a couple of rock & roll albums that could have redefined '80s rock and the so-called new wave.

Arrived July 1, 2023, 23 years after the July 1, 2000 Recording Interview of Doris Troy

Hallelujah Review by Joe Viglione [-]

With Bob Hite and Alan Wilson switching off on vocals, Canned Heat delivered as consistent a blues product as George Thorogood, only with more diversity and subtle musical nuances keeping the listener involved. "Same All Over" breaks no new ground, opening up the Hallelujah disc, but the enthusiasm and reverence the band has for the genre is special. Al Wilson's distinctive voice -- heard on two Top 20 hit records in 1968 -- is enhanced with his eerie whistling on "Change My Ways" and the wonderfully ragged instrumentation. The way the keys bubble up under the guitars, it would have been a natural for these guys to groove their way into a Grateful Dead-style jam band thing, but two vocalists dying within an 11-year span is a bit much for any ensemble. The name Canned Heat is so cool that it becomes the title of the third song. "Canned Heat" is a pretty accurate description of what they play, and the bluesy, slow Bob Hite vocal works wonders over the incessant Henry Vestine/Alan Wilson guitar work. Nice stuff. Jim Newsom calls "Sic 'Em Pigs" "an entertaining era-specific goof." The slide guitars herald the anti-police anthem, featuring drummer Fito de la Parra, Alan Wilson, and Henry Vestine making the pig noises, with a public service announcement for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept. thrown in for good measure. Skip Taylor's production work is just fine, a muddy blend of instrumentation making for a cohesive sound wall on "I'm Her Man" and Wilson's "Time Was." Hallelujah was the group's fourth release for Liberty Records and it is a slice of Americana by a relatively young band with a very pure grasp of the music they love. The liner notes are a tip of the hat to the people of the plains, "the midsection of America," where man finds nothing but "himself, the land, and the sun." "Do Not Enter" opens side two with experimental blues and Alan Wilson's haunting voice, something akin to pop singer Chris Montez performing a dirge. Hite's very appropriate adaptation of "Big Fat" explodes with his own harp work and the band egging him on, an ode to his being overweight -- something that no doubt did him in a decade later. "Huautla" changes directions totally, Mike Pacheco's bongos and congas adding a Latin feel to the harp-soaked instrumental. The two longest songs on the album conclude side two, a unique "Get off My Back"

with musical twists and an intensely plodding "Down in the Gutter, but Free" with everyone in the group contributing to the "songwriting" of the jam, including bassist Henry Vestine and guitarist Larry Taylor. Though there was no specific hit on Hallelujah, this enjoyable album shows Canned Heat's innovation, which would inspire groups like Duke & the Drivers down the road, fans so obsessed with the subject matter that they crossed over to the professional arena.

The Canned Heat Cookbook: The Best of Canned Heat Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Wikipedia › wiki › Canned_Heat
Canned Heat is an American blues and rock band that was formed in Los Angeles in 1965. ... September 9, 2021. Retrieved October 26, 2021. ^ Viglione, Joe.
This initial best-of package, Canned Heat Cookbook, was released rather quickly in 1969 after the band's initial burst of creativity resulted in four albums and two hit singles between 1967 and 1968. Friend/manager/producer Skip Taylor lists tons of the band's engagements from 1966 on the gatefold of the album, which constitutes its only liner notes. Dozens and dozens of gigs, from the Monterey International Pop Festival to Club 47, the Boston Tea Party, and what they call the Woodstock Pop Festival, are all listed and this is a staggering resumé suited well to a greatest-hits package. There are baby photos of the five bandmembers (and the obligatory thanks to their moms for providing them), as well as a very cool cover design by Dean Torrence which features his artistic rendition of each performer along with a couple of butterflies. They look somewhat like the Band here, and their rocking blues was actually somewhat similar to the dudes who backed up Bob Dylan. But the sound of their records differed from that other ensemble, and Al Wilson's personality shines through on "Goin' up the Country" and "On the Road Again," two blasts of '60s pop which were quite different from anything else on the radio at the time. Repackages are often arbitrary and one can quibble that the song named after the group, "Canned Heat," is missing, but this best-of album is worthy of the moniker regardless and contains "Bullfrog Blues" and "Rollin' and Tumblin'" from the 1967 self-titled debut; tracks from 1968's Boogie With Canned Heat, including "Amphetamine Annie," the hit "On the Road Again," and the 11-minute-plus "Fried Hockey Boogie"; and material from yet another 1968 album, Living the Blues, including "Goin' up the Country," which was as identifiable to the band as "On the Road Again" with Alan Wilson's high-pitched, earnest, nasal request giving the audience a musical handle, as well as "Boogie Music," also getting the nod from the Living the Blues disc. Three selections from 1968's Hallelujah album -- "Time Was," "Sic 'Em Pigs," and "Same All Over" -- round out the original vinyl version of the LP. The group would release a live album on Liberty in 1970 after this compilation, and hit again with "Let's Work Together" from another studio album in 1970, Future Blues. For those who want to get a good glimpse of this band, Canned Heat Cookbook is the place to start. Len Fico at the Fuel 2000 label put together a 2002 compilation which features the same tracks along with the addition of the third hit, "Let's Work Together."

It Looks Like Snow, by Phoebe Snow, is her third album. In a retrospective review for Allmusic, critic Joe Viglione called the album "an overpowering collection of pop-jazz-funk-folk that puts this amazing vocalist's talents in a beautiful light...It Looks Like Snow is a major work from a fabulous performer traversing styles and genres with ease and elegance." Teach Me Tonight and Shakey Ground were released as singles.
Portions of our "About the Record" section are taken from information gathered from Wikipedia and AllMusic.

It Looks Like Snow Review by Joe Viglione [-]

David Rubinson's production of Phoebe Snow on the 1976 release It Looks Like Snow is an overpowering collection of pop-jazz-funk-folk that puts this amazing vocalist's talents in a beautiful light. Whether it's the Bowen/Bond/Hazel blues classic "Shakey Ground," which Elton John, Etta James, and so many others have explored, or her exquisite interpretation of the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down," there is no doubt the material here should have ruled on the airwaves the year after her Top Five smash, "Poetry Man." How could Columbia Records not have this material saturating radio across America is the question. There are string arrangements by Sonny Burke and horn arrangements by Kurt McGettrick; the guests galore -- from David Bromberg and Ray Parker, Jr. on guitars (along with Snow, Greg Poree, and Steve Burgh) to David Pomeranz on keys -- make the Snow/Pomeranz co-write "Mercy on Those" into a majestic and extra-special showstopper. The singer's solo composition "Drink Up the Melody (Bite the Dust, Blues)" has her dipping into Maria Muldaur territory, and a duet between the two divas here would've been sensational. "My Faith Is Blind," soaked in gospel introspection, takes the album to another level with its soul searching and sense of spiritual discovery. It Looks Like Snow is a major work from a fabulous performer traversing styles and genres with ease and elegance. The loving mom appears with her daughter on the back cover in a photo by collaborator Phil Kearns

Autobiography (Shine, Shine, Shine)
Teach Me Tonight
Stand Up On The Rock
In My Girlish Days
Mercy On Those
Don't Let Me Down
Drink Up The Melody (Bite The Dust, Blues)
Fat Chance
My Faith Is Blind
Shakey Ground

Sometimes Late at Night Review by Joe Viglione [-]
"I Won't Break" opens the third solo album from Carole Bayer Sager. It is an amazing song by Sager, her former husband Burt Bacharach, and the late Peter Allen. The lyrics are perfect and direct, while they take this pop tune through twists and clever passages making it something very special. This album yielded Carole Bayer Sager her first Top 30 hit on her own, "Stronger Than Before," and it is a nice slice from this concept album which flows from song to song with no breaks in between. "Just Friends" picks up where "I Won't Break" left off, so much so that if you're not paying attention, you don't realize it's the next song. That isn't to say this material is redundant -- unlike the Ramones, Carole Bayer Sager will take her same formula and reinvent it. Michael Jackson shows up to co-produce and sing backing vocals on this song, and he doesn't get in the way. It's all very tasteful. "Tell Her" is different enough to change the mood a bit, while on "Somebody's Been Lying" the acoustic guitars of Tim May, Fred Tackett, and Lee Ritenour bring the album to a whole other place in the days prior to AAA radio. Credit is given to Joyce Bogart and her late husband Neil for the concept, and while fans would love to have an album with more of the songs Sager wrote for other artists from the Mindbenders to Carly Simon to Melissa Manchester and Neil Diamond, at least the latter two artists show up on this epic to perform, Diamond playing guitar on the beautiful song he co-wrote with the singer, "On the Way to the Sky," and Manchester on the title track. Side one ends with the stunning "You and Me (We Wanted It All," arranged by Marvin Hamlisch with the ending by Burt Bacharach. One has to marvel at Carole Bayer Sager's ex-husband Hamlisch working with her current-at-the-time husband Bacharach. Guess they don't take the sentiment of "Just Friends" seriously, the tune which states plainly "I don't think that you and me can just be friends." This album is really the Sgt. Pepper of singer/songwriter recordings. It is exhilarating from track to track -- "Sometimes Late at Night," the title track, is simply gorgeous and majestic. "You Don't Know Me" -- not the Ray Charles classic -- a new title by Bacharach and Sager, concludes the album along with a reprise of the title song. Why Barry Manilow, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Helen Reddy, Peter Lemongello, or even older middle-of-the-road stars Tony Bennett and Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme didn't have hits from this fountain of songs is a real question mark. While Carole King and Neil Sedaka enjoyed their own hits while others covered significant songs from their current albums simultaneously, it didn't happen for Sometimes Late at Night. This is a perfect vehicle for Dionne Warwick to recover and re-discover. "Wild Again," "Easy to Love Again" -- these are vital soft rock tunes that should have captured the charts, the epitome of '70s and '80s adult contemporary. "Sometimes Late at Night" is a classic of the genre and deserves a special place on the mantelpiece.


Carole Bayer Sager Review by Joe Viglione [-]
This is actually an extraordinary album by the veteran songwriter who hit as far back as 1966 with "A Groovy Kind of Love." The little granny voice of Carole Bayer Sager is full of soul and passion -- so pure and fragile, it is a shame it never got to dominate the charts. The title track of Melissa Manchester's Home to Myself album is a total delight here, closing out this set; it was released four years after Manchester's version. It's a home run on a ten-song Brooks Arthur production that is full of big moments. Sager co-wrote Midnight Blue, Manchester's breakthrough hit on Arista, but "Home to Myself" was on the Bell imprint, presumably when Larry Uttall ran the label prior to Clive Davis coming onboard. With that in mind, these compact gems seem all the more precious, be it a lesser-known title like "Steal Away Again," co-written by Bette Midler and Bruce Roberts, or one of the many covers of her more popular titles: "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love," which Rita Coolidge brought to the Top 40 in 1980, three years after this incarnation; or "Come in From the Rain" and "You're Moving Out Today," two songs that were minor adult contemporary hits. It is amazing the 5th Dimension or Peaches & Herb couldn't take "Steal Away Again" to the masses, or that Helen Reddy let something so good slip through her fingers. The stellar cast makes this collection a keeper beyond the solid songwriting. Peter Allen co-writes "Shy As a Violet," but it is the Divine Ms. Midler who provides the backing vocal and harmony. Tony Orlando does the same with the excellent "Don't Wish Too Hard," also co-written by Peter Allen, who provides his piano playing on both as well. Madeline Kahn, Marvin Hamlisch, Paul Buckmaster, and Boston's Alan Estes all contribute to this true masterpiece of songwriting. More than just a "demo" for popular artists, Sager's presentation is more commercial than her novel Extravagant Gestures. A songwriter is who she is, and her voice on this disc may not be as powerful as Carole King, Melissa Manchester, or as unique asMidler's, but she can move you.


...Too Review by Joe Viglione
Carole Bayer Sager's second album should have made this major songwriter a big, big singing star. Though it does not feature any of her hits or semi-hits, something that made her Elektra debut from the previous year extra special, Too comes very close to being a masterpiece. "You're Interesting," co-written with the late Peter Allen, latches onto your heart as it ends side one, just the way the disc begins with "To Make You Smile Again," authored by the singer and her friend Melissa Manchester. Ex-husband Marvin Hamlisch is on piano, Nino Tempo plays exquisite tenor sax, the performance recorded live at Wally Heider Studios on March 22, 1978. Arranged and conducted by Don Costa, this elegant music is a stark contrast to Sager's vocals, which can only be described as Marianne Faithful doing light pop after the 10,000 cigarettes -- Faithful during her "Broken English" not "As Tears Go By" phase. Perhaps too quirky for '70s radio which devoured the smooth tones of Neil Diamond, Helen Reddy, and Carole King, there is a magic to Carole Bayer Sager's Too that makes it stand apart from other singer/songwriter collections. Michael McDonald duets on "It's the Falling in Love," a superb production by Brooks Arthur of this David Foster/Bayer Sager major-league effort. Melissa Manchester again co-writes, and "Peace in My Heart" is a little more subdued than what Manchester became famous for -- big ballads which were almost as ostentatious as those of her former cohort, Barry Manilow. Each tune helps weave the "tapestry" that is this album, a record which failed to reach the audience that Manilow, Carole King, and other stars developed throughout the '70s. Alice Cooper co-writes and co-sings "Shadows" along with producer Bruce Roberts -- and though even the hard rocker, Cooper, found fame with his middle-of-the-road pop tunes written with Dick Wagner at this point in time, "Shadows" never got the radio exposure it deserved. The pairing is brilliant -- not the shocker it looks like on paper. Looking at the credits, one gets the feeling this is a very calculated disc, with the star power being used for commercial rather than artistic reasons. Listening to it, the reality is the exact opposite. This is a tremendous recording by a name songwriter with powerful friends having fun. Marvin Hamlisch's sole songwriting contribution with King, "There's Something About You," is beautiful, and in stark contrast to the Philly sound of "I Don't Wanna Dance No More," another up-tempo David Foster/Bayer Sager number. The final song, "I'm Coming Home Again," written with producer Bruce Roberts, is like a sequel to "Home to Myself" from the previous album. There are great albums by singer/songwriters out there, collections by Jackie DeShannon, Randy Edelman, Tim Moore, David Pomeranz, and others, and all have striking and tremendous moments. This has the best that this talented songsmith has to offer. It is a very special record.

"It's a brazen mix of the pop hits with the kind of music Linda Ronstadt brought the world with her Nelson Riddle collaborations." -- Joe Viglione, on eBay See Joe Vig Top 40 dot com The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener Review by Joe Viglione [-]

With the main production by Sonny Burke, this orchestrated album, arranged and conducted by Ernie Freeman, produced two hits, but here's the catch: the hits were generated separate from Burke's focus for this project. The title track is another Hatch/Trent collaboration, a production of Tony Hatch, going Top 40 at the end of 1967. "The Cat in the Window" went a little higher -- Top 30 in the autumn of that year -- featuring arrangements by the late Jack Nitzsche, and produced by Charles Koppelman and Don Rubin, Koppelman, of course, going on to form SBK and ruling much of the record industry in the '80s. It's a brazen mix of the pop hits with the kind of music Linda Ronstadt brought the world with her Nelson Riddle collaborations. The tacky Stan Cornyn liner notes, as on the Claude Wolff orchestrated album which would followed some time after (Portrait of Petula), try to convince us that these sophisticated musical outings make "Pet", a "woman." Lerner/Loewe's "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady and the Leslie/Bricusse title "At the Crossroads," from Dr. Dolittle, are fun, and, as Pia Zadora's husband hired Frank Sinatra's band to tour with the actress in the '80s, there is a certain cache that comes with mixing classy and so-called sophisticated music with artists who found their initial fame in the world of pop. In retrospect, it all blurs into catalog, and an artist either makes good records or records that aren't so good. All records by Petula Clark are consistent and have their own touch of class, though Sonny Burke seems to understand how to utilize her voice a little better on The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener than Claude Wolff did with Portrait of Petula, allowing the singer to blend in with the surroundings and not trying to overpower her with big music. "Isle de France" shows Clark is able to sing in French with remarkable ease while "The Cat in the Window" fits in nicely, though, like the title track, it is a substantially different sound. This use of four different producers is something that Tina Turner and other artists would employ in the 80's, but it wasn't as much a common practice when this project was issued. Petula Clark on The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener is no different from the Pet Clark we met when "Downtown" hit number one in 1965. The same "sophistication" the liner notes try to push on us was evident on the Tony Hatch-produced Color My World album. What The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener proves is that Petula Clark is a class act, no matter who she works with. She's a superb entertainer, and this is another great chapter.

Additional Information from Movie Mars / eBay
Joe Viglione Reviews John Kongos

Product Description
This classic 1972 album on Elektra by John Kongos has Queen/Cars director Roy Thomas Baker remixing superb production by Gus Dudgeon, the man who created many an Elton John hit. Elton sidemen Ray Cooper, Caleb Quaye, Dave Glover, Roger Pope, Sue (Glover) and Sunny (Leslie) -- pretty much the crew from John's 1971 epic Madman Across the Water -- are all excellent here. But this album has more to offer than the solo records by Kiki Dee and Bernie Taupin, which also proliferated around the same time. Though he never made it to Joel Whitburn's Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits in the U.S.A., there were three minor splashes on this disc: "Tokoloshe Man," "Jubilee Cloud," and "He's Gonna Step on You Again." The totally original sound -- producer Dudgeon on "asses jawbone," bicycle bell, maracas, and Mike Noble playing the "clapper board" -- build a texture one didn't hear on Elton John records. Highly experimental, the brilliant piano and guitar by Quaye invigorate "Jubilee Cloud," which can only be described as psychedelic gospel. Not only a gospel feel, the mysterious Sue and Sonny personify a church choir next to Mike Moran's ARP Synthesizer. There are lots of Jesus references throughout the disc, and on the heavily Beatles-influenced "Come on Down Jesus" with brass and Ray Cooper's tambourine, one gets the message that Kongos is a Jesus freak. This record sounds like a party -- a bunch of hippies on some Indian reservation at sunset. The album cover giving hints to what is transpiring on the grooves. Some of the themes Bernie Taupin flavored the Elton John "Country Comfort" song with are here, but the singer embraces them in a different way. Kongos sounds like a sincere Billy Joel on "Gold," and a cross between Elton and Joel on "I Would Have Had a Good Time." But as good as those tracks are, it is the energy of "Tokoloshe Man," the ecstasy of "Jubilee Cloud," and the insanity of "He's Gonna Step on You Again" that make this album timeless. Producer Gus Dudgeon plays "chair squeak," "rusty tin," and "earth drums" on "Step on You," John Kongos adding castanets, creating a Phil Spector stereo nightmare, which is simply gorgeous. The album has been re-released in different versions; a German CD contains eight bonus tracks and a U.K. collection has five additional songs. Magical music that one does not get to experience often. ~ Joe Viglione 

 Joe V reviews Happy 'Bout the Whole Thing, Dee Dee Sharp
Additional Information from Movie Mars and eBay Happy 'Bout the Whole Thing Review by Joe Viglione [-]

Product Description
Dee Dee Sharp is best known for "Mashed Potato Time" and "Do the Bird," Top Ten hits in the early '60s. This mid-'70s Philly sound outing has pop leanings that infiltrate the disco so important to the dance music empire of Sharp's husband, Kenneth Gamble. "Love Buddies" is an interesting concept seeing that much of the Philly sound was club oriented, and this first song is the only one penned by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. "Touch My Life" is an adequate tune by James Mendell, but it's Sharp's exquisite voice that really shines, taking over the material and making the entire album listenable. The familiar sounds Sharp creates are a perfect marriage with the Philadelphia sound. Thankfully, she gets the chance to break out of the TSOP formula. The cover of Stan Vincent's "Ooh Child" is sublime, and her cabaret co-write with Mendell on "Real Hard Day" is strong, music that Whitney Houston could send up the charts."Make It Till Tomorrow," the second of three songs co-written by Dee Dee Sharp, shows a maturity and style, a voice that is always welcome on the radio. Hearing her distinctive and happy cover of "I'm Not in Love" (the 10cc hit) stretch over five minutes and 17 seconds -- the longest track on the record -- is a delight. Sharp looks stunningly beautiful on the cover and inside photos, and the sounds she emits are superb. She takes the less than perfect "Share My Love" and gives it her best, bringing it to a plateau it simply couldn't reach in lesser hands. Six of the nine titles are written or co-written by associate producer James Mendell, his "Best Thing You Did for Me" a beautiful pop conclusion to this elegant collection. ~ Joe Viglione 
Joe Viglione Reviews Johnny Thunders Who's Been Talkin'
Concert video

Additional Information from Movie Mars and eBay  

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. A new song entitled "Society" has him strumming the electric, and with the addition of Jamey Heath's saxophone the crisp band sounds like Lou Reed's mid-'80s ensembles. The tragedy here is that in just 15 years' time from when this was recorded -- when Iggy Pop's Stooges and the New York Dolls would gain the respectability and massive audience they deserved, his untimely death kept that adulation and appreciation from Thunders himself. Truly a pity. There are many Johnny Thunders videos out there, but this collection of solo material, covers, and one Dolls song, "Personality Crisis," is a keeper despite the blurry and foggy footage and grainy texture. Actually, there's a second bit of New York Dolls as Thunders' reinvention of Bo Diddley's "Pills" -- "Too Much Junkie Business" -- actually dissolves into a superb "Pills," covered with much of the same abandon as the new-millennium New York Dolls, tight and displaying more of a Rolling Stones-style presentation. This DVD has lots to offer the Thunders fan and anyone who appreciates life-on-the-edge underground rock & roll. Described as "rare live footage from the last ever recorded concert," the DVD also includes a 12-page biography by Betty Chienne. It's a nice testament to a truly twisted life. ~ Joe Viglione   
The Modern Lovers Astral Plane
Review by Joe Viglione
Song Review by Joe Viglione

Quasi-mystical Jonathan is what we get on "Astral Plane", a brilliant compostion of love in the world in-between - "If you won't sleep with me, I'll still be with you, I'm gonna meet you on the astral plane". And how many actually do visit the people who get almost close to us during everyday life, achieving relationship goals in that realm between the "real world" and sleep? Smart underground poetry from Jonathan Richman at his most poignant, lyrics that glide away from the mainstream but are not too obscure for the intuitive underground rock fan. The Modern Lovers kick in after the song begins with Jo Jo's lonely announcement "Tonight I'm all alone in my room/I'll go insane" and in less than three minutes he projects his persona into your speakers to declare that his everpresent punk/blues can evaporate with a journey plucked out of Sri Paul Twitchell's Eckankar teachings. Richman isn't doing his spiritual excercises, though, he's traveling through the Twilight Zone with the Modern Lovers bashing out their own statement in a world separate from his imaginary lover. The song remains surprisingly consistent in attitude on the latter Kim Fowley demos (not the earlier ones Fowley did with engineer Dinky Dawson ) as on the more popular Warners tapes which have the aura of John Cale's finesse. The band resembles The Velvet Underground more than Jonathan sounding like Lou Reed. He comes off like a Bostonian fronting that venerable group, Jerry Harrison copping the riffs of his producer, David Robinson doing his best Moe Tucker while Richman indulges in his wonderfully brash dementia. The record is so fantastic you actually want to break it over the singer's head for abandoning this jangly guitar confronting keyboard sound, a style that is fresh and exciting years after it was tracked and never duplicated, even by its creator. "Astral Plane" is one of the greatest moments of pop merging with punk, Richman's eccentricities leading many fans to the conclusion that the singer didn't even get his wish in the dreamworld, and that, indeed, it was what drove him allegedly insane.

 [-]Live at the Rat Review by Joe Viglione
I am very grateful that Peter Rinnig and Jimmy Harold (who was living in Medford when I was,) utilized my AMG review of LIVE AT THE RAT as liner notes to the 2013 re-release on CD.
In 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). Along with Willie Loco there is very early DMZ, so early that the drummer is future member of The Cars, David Robinson, as well as an early, vintage version of Richard Nolan's vital band Third Rail. This is the only place where you can find the original Susan with guitarists Tom Dickie and John Kalishes -- years before Joan Jett guitarist Ricky Bird replaced Kalishes, and decades before John Kalishes joined the late Ben Orr of the Cars in solo projects in the 1990s. The rock history lesson is important to understand the impact of not only the musicians on this album, but the influence of the nightclub which spawned Live at the Rat. Willie Alexander's manic "Pup Tune" is perhaps the most concise representation of the Rat sound -- it is grunge, it is deranged, it is a no-holds barred performance which has been re-released on best-of compilations and treasured over the years as a true musical gem. Of the 19 tracks, Willie Alexander is the only artist who gets three cuts: "At the Rat," the club's anthem; the aforementioned tribute to Ronnie Spector that is "Pup Tune"; and a live version of the original Garage Records 45 which began this new phase of his career, his ode to "Kerouac." Marc Thor, a legendary performer who never got a full album out, utilizes members of Thundertrain, DMZ, the Boize, and Third Rail for his "Circling L.A.," co-written by scenemaker Nola Rezzo. Eventual Roulette recording artist Sass do "Rocking in the USA," and, like Susan, and even Thundertrain, bring a more mainstream sound to the underground rock represented by the Boize, Third Rail, DMZ, the Infliktors, and the Real Kids. The Real Kids add "Who Needs You" and "Better Be Good" to the party, while this early Mono Mann phase has his "Ball Me Out" and "Boy From Nowhere" titles. Thundertrain crackle with "I'm So Excited" and "I Gotta Rock," Mach Bell's growl and stage antics the thing that made this otherwise suburban band an essential part of this scene. Bell would go on to front the Joe Perry Project on their final disc on MCA before Aerosmith reformed, and the resumé action of some of these players makes their performances here all the more valuable. Loco Live 1976, an album which includes tracks by Willie Alexander recorded exactly one month before Live at the Rat, is available on a Tokyo label, Captain Trip Records, and it serves as a good glimpse of what was going on before this pivotal center of new sounds brought in tons of recording gear and taped for posterity a very magical period in Boston history.

Shared with Public
Review by Joe Viglione
Conductor Arthur Fiedler is a revered name in New England music history and his Boston Pops run through gorgeous Richard Hayman arrangements of familiar favorites on Up, Up and Away. A dramatic rendition of 1967 's "Best Song" from the pen of Jimmy Webb starts off the LP, adding sound colors as the 5th Dimension production did, only without the vocals and different instrumentation, of course. Producer Peter Dellheim gives six paragraphs of insight in his liner notes, identifying that he picked up on the Minuet from J.S. Bach's Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook after hearing Diana Ross & the Supremes' version of the tune "A Lover's Concerto." The amusing thing is that the Toys were emulating the Supremes' sound, and the Diana Ross version the Boston Pops got its idea from was a tribute to the tribute. When Ferrante & Teicher recorded the song on their Getting Together album, they called their arrangement "A Familiar Concerto," denying Toys producers Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell the royalties for the updated composition. Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops sprinkle their magic on Paul Mauriat's hit "Love Is Blue," along with "Lara's Theme" from Dr. Zhivago -- better known as Ray Conniff's Top Ten hit from 1966, "Somewhere My Love." André Previn's (Theme From) Valley of the Dolls is just perfect for this ensemble, majestic movements that bring out the sadness and despair of the Dionne Warwick classic. "Cabaret" is a fun romp through the campy hit, while the Beatles' "Yesterday" and "Michelle" melt into the beautiful fabric as easily as the theme from Georgy Girl. Up, Up and Away is the perfection one expects from the Boston Pops, capturing some of the highlights with which 1968's easy listening community was in tune. The amusing cover photo features an airplane on a runway with Fiedler surrounded by eight

Editorial Reviews

Up, Up and Away
1. Up, Up and Away (Webb)
2. Valley of the Dolls (A & D Previn) from the film
3. Georgy Girl (Springfield; Dale) from the film
4. Yesterday (Lennon; McCartney)
5. Piano Concerto No. 21: Andante (Mozart) featured in the film Elvira Madigan, Newton Wayland (piano)
6. Cabaret (Kander; Ebb) from the musical
7. Michelle (Lennon; McCartney)
8. Love is Blue (Popp; Cour)
9. A Man and a Woman (Lai; Barouh; Keller) from the film
10. A Lover’s Concerto (Linzer; Randell)
11. Lara’s Theme (Jarre) from the film Doctor Zhivago

Fiedler's Choice
LP LSC 3130 (1970) STEREO
12. Boston Pops March (Gold)
13. A Symphonic Picture of Porgy and Bess (Gershwin; Bennett)
14. Carnaval Overture, Op. 45 (Glazunov)

Remastered from the original analogue tapes by Michael J. Dutton

Multi-ch Stereo

This hybrid CD can be played on any standard CD players

She Cracked, the Modern Lovers
Song Review by Joe Viglione
One of the six John Cale produced "demos" from the combination of tapes which are the first Modern Lovers album, "She Cracked" is the stuff Velvet Underground fans' dreams are made of. It is Jonathan Richman mutating the as-yet unreleased Velvets tune, "Foggy Notion", merging it with a bit of Lou Reed's "Sister Ray" vocal style (these vocals louder and easier to understand than Lou's) while bringing the tempo up and adding lyrics that make sense probably only to the singer. He sings these words which tumble forth with such authority that one gets the idea it empowered him to venture forth into the world of Ice Cream Men and nursery rhymes, an obsession which frustrated the faithful to no end.

Richman calls himself "almost as good as Dick Tracy" in chronichling a timeline for this music in his liner notes to Bomp's The Original Modern Lovers, though it is the appreciative who take a song like this and evaluate it's expressive originality more than the time and place from which it emerged. Piecing together the sounds generated by the early Modern Lovers is more fun than listening to latter day groups who need computers to expand their already limited scope. If Jonathan's attitude imploded the group, it is that same attitude which makes these performances of "She Cracked" fun and endearing decades after their creation. The Kim Fowley Los Angeles tapes featuring this song (from the Fall of 1973) are a doorway to view that Velvet Underground influenced feel . Jonathan wanted the level of the "radio interference and dial-switching", as he called it, down in the mix. It works pretty cool on that particular tape while the Cale take on it has more of what FM radio could embrace in its rock and roll infancy. Years later the two productions of this interesting observation of what she did and what he won't do both stand the test of time. The Fowley supervised garage tapes an interesting blend of the Yule softer Velvet Underground group with the hard edged organ from the days when that band featured John Cale. "It's all horizontal" Richman calls out, and whether he likes it or not if The Velvet Underground was the rock messiah, this material was certainly the acts of the Apostle. As such, "She Cracked" is highly listenable and valuable to those who like trying to figure Jonathan out in a more traditional basement band setting.

The Real kids, all kinda girls Song Review by Joe Viglione

Covered by Swedish power pop band Psychotic Youth on the 1998 compilation I Wanna Be a Real Kid: A Tribute to the Real Kids and Mercury recording artist Klover on their 1995 disc Feel Lucky Punk, this is one of the key titles from vocalist/songwriter/lead guitarist Jon Felice and his Real Kids. While ex-bandmate Jonathan Richman was content to find one "Girlfren" in the post-Felice Modern Lovers mainstream Boston scenester Johnny Barnes was not so content -he wanted "100 Girls" - a similar sentiment to what comes into play on this underground classic. The three minutes and thirty-seven seconds that start off the 1977 Red Star album produced by Marty Thau are called "great" by Brownsville Station guitarist, the late Cub Coda. It's an onslaught of Billy Borgioli and Jon Felice guitar work, a tempo somewhere between The Modern Lovers laid-back songs of romance and the slamming sound of The Ramones, but with more dexterity than Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Marky (Ramone). Felice takes Chuck Berry riffs and speeds them up throwing a few power chords in to keep things interesting. It is creative songwriting with guitars up over the vocals and Howie Ferguson's relentless drumming. Minimal for sure and tailor-made for the underground.

Top contributor to the Rathskellar site 

Taxi Boys, the Real Kids
Song Review by Joe Viglione
At 1:47 the song is the third shortest by Jon Felice and his mates on their eponymous debut lp, but it made an extra impact as the name of a reconstituted Real Kids when heart-throb Bobby McNabb replaced Howie Ferguson on the drums - not on this song - but in the band named after it. The eventual addition of McNabb (recruited, surprisingly, from semi-drag act Lou Miami ) gave the band some pretty boy charisma they were lacking though Ferguson is tough to beat when it comes to beating on the drums. The group named after this song featured only half the original Real Kids, Felice and Paulino, thus the latter ensemble was dubbed by one scenester "The Tacky Boys". Falling in-between the grit of "Better Be Good" and mellow mood found on "Just Like Darts", "Taxi Boys" is almost British by way of The New York Dolls "Frankenstein", the original band at its most explosive and fun. No wonder Miriam Linna of Norton Records liked them so much, this record's producer, Marty Thau, had worked with The New York Dolls prior to signing The Real Kids to his Red Star imprint. An album full of episodes like this would have brought The Real Kids out of cult status to the level of a Ramones, the splashes of punk guitar by the team of Borgioli and Felice gliding along with Ferguson's cymbals make it the most appealing song on the entire album.

Do the Boob, the Real Kids
Song Review by Joe Viglione

Speedy Chuck Berry riffs inverted and expanded is the formula at play on this song from the debut album from songwriter Jon Felice and his Real Kids. Where Boston area legends The Nervous Eaters played the style heavier and dirtier, and as The Ramones had incessant power chords as the undercurrent to their message, Felice keeps it all in treble tone and ultra energetic. Power Punk is what it is and it isn't for everyone. The gay slur was more than just a fancy way to grab attention, at least two of these boys displayed homophobia in the 1970's (though they've all reformed and entered the realm of policital correctness - somewhat -decades later). It's no Mark Knopfler jive as found in "Money For Nothing", Felice spits out the bigoted attack with venom and perhaps the idea of "punk rock" once immunized groups from potential fallout, at least in their own minds. The Sex Pistols' hype, after all, was founded on being obnoxious. Chubby Checker and Dee Dee Sharp with their respective "let's do "The Twist" and "Do The Bird" were able to inject some art into their Top 10 performances. For all The Real Kids debut's high points "Do The Boob" is one of the songs which shows the limitations of the album, and the band. Venturing into this territory means going all out, and Steve Cataldo's Nervous Eaters did just that on "Degenerate", driving to the extreme Felice merely dabbles with in both attitude as well as the intensity of the guitar riffs employed.

Better Be Good, the Real Kids
Song Review by Joe Viglione

At four minutes and twelve seconds this is the third longest of the dozen tunes on The Real Kids debut, a fascinating fifties/sixties style rocker from the pen of singer/lead guitarist Jon Felice, a tune which goes through twists and turns and is rhythmically one of the more complex pieces of that band's repertoire. Again it is the strength here which is the main weakness, Felice's creativity impeded by his inability to sing the material he composes. This is an extension of former bandmate Jonathan Richman's observant nods to Boston landmarks, the singer referencing the Massachusetts "south shore" as well as cultish groups Teddy & The Pandas & The Rockin' Ramrods, an ode to 1964 when these musicians were barely ten years old. It's a quick set of rhythms which speed up at the end, a quirky mod/neo-doo-wop song that mutates into punk. Outside of their devoted following The Real Kids found resistance, the lead vocals on most of the record having that unfinished demo feel. But the structure of "Better Be Good" proved that there was more than meets the ear going on here, some bottled up energy blending cohesively, something producer Marty Thou deserves some credit for. Mini blasts like "Rave On" precede this, the punk rockers wanting backing vocals like The Shangri Las and doing their best New York Dolls imitation to fill that need right down to the handclaps that fit in with the "sha la la's". Howard Ferguson gets a real work out, his drums having to throb with the tight guitars and bass in the vibrant musical interludes necessarily holding the fort when the band goes The Plasmatics route at the song's conclusion. "Better Be Good" is another piece of the enigmatic Real Kids puzzle, traces of Modern Lovers philosophy mixed with the mid-1970's underground rock scene of the Northeast.

When played against the tape of an earlier version of this group called The Kids from The Rat nightclub, December 10, 1974, the musical evolution comes into clearer focus.

She's Alright The Real Kids
Song Review by Joe Viglione

As with "Do The Boob", the title written for fanzine editor Bob Colby, "She's Alright" is a riff rocker from The Real Kids debut album along the lines of The Beatles' rendition of "Slow Down". And as with everything on that self-titled disc it is precisely played energetic rock & roll, admirable for a punk rock band, the one drawback here the same disability that plagues the entire collection of songs: Jon Felice simply does not have an appealing voice. As a front man he's got the attitude, but rhythm guitarist Billy Borgioli - as evidenced on his The Varmints cd - or bassist Alpo, Alan Paulino, are said to have had more of a grasp of how to get the message across via microphone. Maybe that's why the lead-off track on side two is a production like most of the album, guitars up in the mix on this quick, one minute and forty four second vintage excursion into early rock & roll. There's no John Lennon swagger or vocal chops, though the band chugs along witha solid thumping rhythm. The lead guitar is a burst of wild abandon which comes back to a sexist Jon Felice lyric "she get down on her knees on all fours." No Bob Dylan is Mr. Felice, and one might expect something a bit more clever from the fellow who worked with Jonathan Richman and who authored "Common At Noon", but the charm in these grooves is the feeling generated by the four rock & rollers as a unit, Howie Ferguson's drums an essential platform for the string instruments to blast away. Felice maintains the theme in the very next track, "My Baby's Book" featuring a chorus of "I'm Alright". As Yvonne Elliman sang "Everything's Alright" back in the day it was a minimal message from a minimal time.

Roberta The Real Kids
Song Review by Joe Viglione

It starts off as a diversion on the Red Star debut by The Real Kids, Mono Mann of the band DMZ adding a catatonic piano a la Willie "Loco" Alexander to open up the tune, and Mono (a.k.a. Jeff Connolly ) has big shoes to fill on this, one of the three non-Jon Felice titles that make up the 12 song self-titled lp. "Roberta" is a Huey "Piano" Smith co-write originally released by Frankie Ford of "Sea Cruise" fame on the Ace label and it develops as an interesting cover choice among the other material presented on an album by one of the original ex-Modern Lovers. The underground band blasts out of control but Howie Ferguson, one of the most undervalued drummers in Boston rock & roll, somehow keeps it together putting all the guitar and bass noise in a vacuum. It clocks in at two minutes and thirty-seven seconds, not-so-subtle blasts of fifties New Orleans pop previously embraced by The Animals the decade before Felice, Borgioli, Ferguson and Paulino gave it their treatment. As the aforementioned Willie "Loco" pulverized (in a good way) "Too Much Monkey Business", this gem contains some of Mono Mann's best piano work actually resembling Willie Alexander's mania.
You can feel the reverence inside the energy, the guitars going from simple rock & roll to sliding power chords towards the end, elements that have helped sustain this disc's cult classic status.

Reggae Reggae The real Kids Song Review by Joe Viglione

Former bandmate of Jon Felice, one Jonathan Richman, had a hit with "Egyptian Reggae" in Europe while The Real Kids, sons somewhat of The Modern Lovers, had an underground sensation with "Reggae, Reggae". The fact that neither tune had any reggae to speak of in their respective grooves doesn't take away from the brilliant artistic license of both compositions - two of the best examples of these songwriters apart from their work together. "Reggae, Reggae" owes more to the grunge of the second Velvet Underground lp, White Light/White Heat, than it does to Jimmy Cliff or the "Ice Cream Man" chronicles of Jonathan Richman on tour. At five minutes and one second it is the longest of the dozen tunes on the Red Star Records debut of the band, concluding the album with a diligent Billy Borgioli lead. Borgioli is the band's rhythm guitarist, but tears away from those duties to add some riveting sounds, an exclamation point to this disc that is so cherished by many in underground circles. Jon Felice blurts out something that sounds like "Your brother thinks I'm a fag", and again employs that right-wing mentality that the band thought was cool in the seventies, but wasn't. At least when Lou Reed made comments they came from a space which accepted life's mutations and variations. The Real Kids played to a narrow cult and were never able to catapult themselves onto the stages where Cheap Trick, The Ramones and other larger acts played to bigger crowds. "Reggae, Reggae" was a step in the right direction and sounds like nothing else on this interesting work by a punk band that took themselves very seriously. It is said that this is the true direction that the group was heading in until the heart of the band, rhythm guitarist Billy Borgioli and drummer Howard Ferguson, left with the revamped lineup recording with producer Andy Paley five years after this. A pity as

the fuzzy sound and condensed energy suited Jon Felice's muted vocals much better. It's a powerful statement, imagine "Sister Ray" from The Velvet Underground finding some kind of form halfway through, the frazzled elements of that assault coming together in a powerfully fused focus. "Reggae Reggae is a dynamite statement to conclude the first Real Kids lp, and is arguably their finest moment.

Asa Brebner TIME IN MY WAY

Asa Brebner TIME IN MY WAY [-]Time In My Way Review
by Joe Viglione
There are degrees of greatness and when you listen to this retrospective of Asa Brebner's work you realize he is a journeyman and a contender. Play this against the Sky Saxon Blues Band to hear the difference between someone being genuine and an artist testing the waters. Brebner's authenticity combines with creativity on the amazing guitar solo in the middle of "Prophecy"; add to that its innovative riff and production, and a tip of that hat must go to Windjam Records for releasing this compilation at the same time as Best No Money Can Buy, the follow-up to Brebner's excellent Accurate Records album I Walk the Streets. Four of the tracks are from the Accurate release from the year before: "Jack's on Drugs," "Going Home," "Love Only Makes the World Go Round," and "Sunshine Blue Skies." Who decided the order and which tunes would be chosen from the Brebner catalog is not specified in the too-brief credit list provided with the insert. Material is also culled from two other previous releases, Ragged Religion and Prayers of a Snowball in Hell, one of the great titles in music history. Brebner is a clever guy, and the riff in "Idle Hands" (a song title that was also the name of his band) sounds like Led Zeppelin going total pop. Two tracks are new to this world, the snappy "Not Much Life," and "Angela," which concludes the disc while reinventing the classic Crystals riff from "Then He Kissed Me." Brebner's rocking hard folk tunes preach like a country musician wielding class and dry humor. Country radio should embrace this smart stuff, especially "Not Much Life," while "Angela" has that Triple A format polish. There are no selections from the artist's work with Robin Lane & the Chartbusters or the Modern Lovers, which is the one downside here. Otherwise, this is a great primer to the solo work of guitarist Asa Brebner who continues to record and release valid new music deserving of an audience.

Best No Money Can Buy Review

by Joe Viglione [-]
Asa Brebner's Best No Money Can Buy CD is a rock and roller getting a bit subdued, making country sounds more predominant in his repertoire. "The Roses I Never Bought You" is low key for sure, but things get even more obsessive as Brebner spins yarns about extinguishing those in his way from the ominous "Reasons for Murder" to "You Stole My Woman" ("now you're gonna die"). For those wanting more of the underground rock that made I Walk the Streets such a delight, you'd better be ready to change with an artist's vision. Brebner takes simple rock riffs and makes them complex, breathing new life into the cliché, most of the recording created with Neighborhoods/Paul Westerberg guitarist David Minehan and label owner Loreen Hurley. These partners in crime help the one-time guitarist for Robin Lane & the Chartbusters build an album that can be called his Beggar's Banquet. Marilyn Monroe's famous skirt blowing over the subway is in a photo on the cover, above the artist's head, and he narrates tough country & western themes with his patented rock & roll edge. "Forbidden Love" is beautiful in its almost innocence after the bitter three tunes that precede it: "You're the mother of his children/There'd be so much hell to pay," his voice vacillating from a serious Iggy Pop to ambivalent Tom Petty. "Too Many Assholes" is the first of the real rockers, taking ex-bandmate Jonathan Richman's classic "Pablo Picasso" to the extreme, but the album goes back to its country bent with "Break My Own Heart" which is unsettling. "Won't Wait for Saturday" is another about face, back to rock, and it is great rock, the most solid riff on the record, sentiment borrowed from the Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" and Richman's "New Bank Teller." "Nice to Me" is another driving rocker, this one the only tune recorded with Ducky Carlisle, and it could have come right out of the Beggar's Banquet or I Walk the Streets outtakes with sexist comments galore. This is the stuff Brebner does best, down and dirty rock & roll, and as good as "Out of the Frying Pan (Into Desire)" is, its country slant is too disruptive, and the album would be better served splitting the rockers from the honky tonk. "Go Downtown" is more Rolling Stones by way of the Nervous Eaters, making this a truly "Jekyll & Hyde" album, the two sides of Asa Brebner. The title track brings things to a close, and it is saddled with Steve Sadler's banjo. Good material that goes back and forth from mellow to manic. While John Cate and the Swinging Steaks are crafting their roots sounds, Brebner takes a decidedly different path; musical and ambitious, its best moments are when it lets its hair down to rock.

I Walk the Streets Review
by Joe Viglione [-]
The title track is a powerful statement of an urban rock & roller who has "walked the streets where my best friends died." Forty-eight minutes and fifty-one seconds of Johnny Thunders style rock -- without Thunders celebrated excesses. Much like Marianne Faithful's Broken English, this album is a rebirth for a survivor who honed his craft for decades on stages of major venues and in many a night club. Asa Brebner has played guitar in numerous Boston-based groups from Mickey Clean & the Mezz to the second great version of Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers, half of which evolved into Robin Lane & the Chartbusters. Utilizing eight different studios, mastered in a ninth, Jon Wyner's M-Works, where David Bowie's catalog was re-mastered for Ryko Disc, these are all Brebner originals with the exclusion of "Jacks on Drugs," written by Phil Hahnen. Ex-Archies -- you read that right -- on-stage anyway -- and Chartbuster colleague Scott Baerenwald of local legends Reddy Teddy plays bass and sings backing vocals on "Sunshine and Blue Skies," one of the many highlights on this disc, not coincidentally recorded at Ducky Carlisle's Room 9. Ducky was married to Robin Lane at the time of this recording although, sadly, she does not make an appearance. "Unhappy Birthday Girl" is the kind of song that Jonathan Richman used to craft for his fans; Richman would do well to listen to this disc by his former bandmate. Brebner gives his pop songs that roots rock foundation that made the early Rolling Stones so appealing, and it's evident in this track. "No Good for Anything But Love" has an effective riff augmented by vocals that make this no-nonsense rock & roll fans of the Modern Lovers have yearned to hear again, with a splashy appearance by the Heavy Metal Horns. The sound is surprisingly consistent for working in so many studios and employing so many musicians. "Love Only Makes the World Go Round" is very radio-friendly, and another of the picks on this CD. "Don't Ever Lose a Memory" brings that Thunders connection back -- Johnny Thunders having written the classic "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory." There's lots of heartache on this disc, culminating in the campy "Thru with Girls" which has mandolin, banjo, and acoustic guitar courtesy of Andrew Mazzone. It's back to business with "Sunshine Blue Skies," the production by Brebner and Mazzone is perfect, something that was lacking in the Robin Lane albums. There is a refinement here, a balance of the distortion of rock & roll and capturing it for the intended audience. "Jacks on Drugs" has that vintage Boston boom boom sound, while "I'm Not Going to Work Today," recorded in Brebner's attic with Allen Devine on vocals, is a country- style experiment where the artist gets to stretch. "Turn Back the Pages" has that Byrds sound so essential to the Chartbusters, wtih great drums by Andy Plaisted and a vocal by Andrew Mazzone on this Brebner original. "At Least Nobody Else Has Our Memories" is a country ballad with Brother Cleve on piano, Asa reminiscing again. The final tune, "Mr. Hide," returns to that Stones feel, with a wonderful keyboard fill on the chorus and a drone vocal by Brebner with wild guitars at the end, finally ending with an unnecessary reprise of "Thru with Girls" -- the eloquence of the last tune stifled somewhat by this. Regardless, this album should've been released on a major label as so many of Asa Brebner's other works were.

May Top 40 Mare Winningham, Planet of the Apes, Andy Mendelson

  Happy Birthday Mare! Years ago Mare Winningham and her husband saw me at the Paradise Theater in Boston, a club I booked for many years....