Friday, September 01, 2023

September 1 2023 The Creator Director Speaks, American Beauties, The Complaints, the Cars, Elyjah Tribe, Helen Reddy, Elyjah Tribe, Ringo Starr, WCOZ Vinyl Album, Matthew Fisher, Gary Wright

 September under construction, of course 

1)The Creator - film / Rolling Stones Angry

Wow. I put "Angry" at #10 (replaced with Graham Nash, as the video and song are pretty amazing, like a time capsule with the Stones looking very young...CGI or good makeup?)


2)Matthew Fisher / Procol Harum

3)Gary Brooker Interview

4)American Beauties

5)The Complaints "Let Heaven Fall"

6)Demo Got the Deal for the Cars

7)Elyjah Tribe 

8)Helen Reddy "Imagination"  A Look Back

9)Shakin' All Over - Van Morrison  out 9/12

+ live Live Coming Down to Joy, terrific! 

Van Morrison on Virgin Music covering the Guess Who / Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, a band that backed up Bobby Hebb after Johnny Kidd passed.   

10)Graham Nash 

2)Matthew Fisher   Can't You Feel my Love
A tremendous song from Matthew Fisher "Can't You Feel My Love" Artist: Matthew Fisher
Title: Can't You Feel My Love
Broadcast date: 14-6-1980
TV program: TopPop
Video rights: AVRO

My review of Matthew Fisher on a Procol Harum website: Matthew Fisher : 'Matthew Fisher'
Reviewed by Joe Viglione, All Music Guide
Procol Harum meets the Zombies in the future is what this exquisite album is about, sort of, and third time's a charm for the former keyboard player for Procol Harum. The opening track, Can't You Feel My Love, has melodies from Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart inside the keyboard lines, but it works, as does Back in Your Arms Again, which has a melody straight out of the adult contemporary world of country singer Ronnie Milsap, and just as much heartache. In fact, the entire side one and much of side two is about lost love, so much so one wonders if Matthew Fisher was going through some intensely personal time when these songs were written.
Only a Game expounds upon the theme even more, looking for an excuse. This is material that would have flown in the face of Procol Harum songwriters Gary Brooker and Keith Reid, or even the spacy guitar sounds of Robin Trower's Twice Removed From Yesterday album, which Fisher produced seven years prior to this, but of all the Procol Harum and Zombies graduates, this recording is arguably the most cohesive and solid pop outing, eclipsing even some of Colin Blunstone's fine work as far as a full-LP's worth of material goes.
Why'd I Have to Fall in Love With You is really superb, ending side one with a long fade and a broken heart. Unlike Spooky Tooth's Gary Wright and another '70s keyboard artist, Michael Quatro, Matthew Fisher works on creating a very polished pop to start the '80s without the progressive nature those two artists found so inviting. Certainly the temptation to go that route was there, as indulged by this album's session guitarist, Argent's John Verity, four years after this with his Interrupted Journey album. While both Wright and Quatro got serious, putting Keith Emerson-style ideas into commercial settings, Matthew Fisher successfully makes this a singer/songwriter project. The ballad Anna is just tremendous, where the album's only co-write, Looking for Shelter, doesn't have as much drama or feel. Anna is very beautiful and very touching, while Running From Your Love brings back the art rock format the artist is known so well for. Here, though, it is infused with his discovery of pop. It was six years since his I'll Be There LP on RCA and seven since the acclaimed solo d├ębut, Journey's End. Matthew Fisher, the album, is the work of a mature artist and fantastic record producer at the peak of his powers and should have brought him into the Top 40 mainstream.

3)The Gary Brooker / Procol Harum interview

4)American Beauties

American Beauties’ Sound of Mind

Review by Joe Viglione   


Indie Folk Pop artist American Beauties follow-up their eleven-song Too Worn to Mend cd with another eleven compositions from vocalist/band leader Michael A. Gray on 2023’s Sound of Mind.  The only way to put it is that Gray’s songwriting on both discs is masterful.  He has a grasp of strong melodies and chords that accompany his creative musings.  Where the first album, Too Worn to Mend, is more aggressive and sometimes darker, Sound of Mind lightens things up with pure pop.  The riffs and country inflection on Grace Under Fire from the first album had more of that brash push, while the opening song on Sound of Mind, the two minute and fifty-two second “Yours and Mine,” delivers with pure cascading pop and the line “I love you like the simple song…” setting the pace for swirling melodic episodes that hit one after another - the way a Beatles album kept you listening track after track.


Co-produced with drums by engineer/producer Ducky Carlisle, track 2, “The Rain,” is resplendent in keyboards/guitars and Gray’s authoritative and compelling voice. A major league song and production with an animated YouTube which you can play repeatedly.  It will help you explore the nuances of this wonderful song.


“Good Excuses” takes the indie-folk rock the band embraces and gives it the harder edge of the previous LP, Too Worn to Mend.  George Harrison-styled guitar licks and a strong hook.  The songs are precise and well produced, and “Shining Stars” keeps the momentum going, you won’t hit “skip” on the CD player, the track-list works with nice pacing across the disc.  “Matters of Love” brings Sound of Mind back to its pop/country/folk roots.  The lyrics are contained inside the insert that comes with the package.


“Passionate People” is contemporary music with sixties influences, where music should be in 2023/2024.  The band is exemplary and delivers with fun infused with the business-like “let’s entertain” feel.   The band’s website notes: The songs reflect on the human need for love and stability in the wake of life’s unrelenting pressures and tackle difficult subjects with an overriding theme of hope.”


“The Place Where We Started” evokes the styles (and could be covered by) James Taylor, Liv Taylor, Kate Taylor, Alex Taylor…heck, even Art Garfunkel could take this title and have a hit with it.  Michael Gray dips into different genres, but wraps them up in his American Beauties style

“Days Between” brings us back to the Pop/Indie Folk with reference to Lou Reed opening with the words “Goodbye Sweet Jane” …and if you found it on Lou Reed’s first solo RCA album you wouldn’t blink.  But, again, it is modernized and very today, harkening back to that era where this all started, including another reference, this time to Melissa Manchester’s “Midnight Blue.” 

“Desolate Miles” brings the thumping rhythm of the Cars/Police’s “Every Breath You Take” tight undercurrent, but the sizzling guitar is all American Beauties, and yes you can feel Ben Orr vocals on this as well.  “Sundown New Year” is another quick turn of events, the most country effort on the album. Every song nice for a long drive from east to west.  Nice questioning words while the guitar/drum combo creates a nice platform for Gray’s voice.

“Always Loved You” concludes the disc with an entirely different approach, almost like the Beatles adding a footnote to Let it Be, adding both a poignant and self-analyzing thought process.  

5)The Complaints   

Chasing Light

8 track CD from The Complaints

The first CD from the Complaints, 2000’s Fear, was reviewed 23 years ago by this writer on as well as 2002’s Criminal Mind. There was the eponymous The Complaints release in 2005, and 2018’s Talk To Me among others, which I reviewed when switching gears over to TMRZoo..  Very pleased to get this 2023 new release, an 8 track 6 page foldout disc with lyrics from these intuitive and hard-working fellows.

Vocalist, keyboard player, guitarist Dean Petrella, Chris Cruz on bass and vocals, Anthony Marotti on drums/vocals have honed their own distinctive sound over the past two decades plus of gigging around New England

Seven new songs plus an instrumental Track 8 of “Let Heaven Fall,” which always touches my heart as I love voice-less renditions, especially of great songs, this “Let’s Heaven Fall” is a GREAT song.   It’s right up there with the trio’s finest work which includes “Trade Up,” and the Chris Lord-Alge produced “South Side Suicide.”

The material doesn’t go over three and a half minutes or under two minutes and twelve seconds, short bursts of pop/rock that don’t go on too long and stand kinda like an Extended-play and a half.  This allows the listener to focus on tracks like “That’s What You Get,” an airy, nice car song to drive up the coast with.  So too with “The Ocean,” which pulls the reigns in a bit, the same mood as “That’s What You Get,” shifting a bit.  All substantial takes recorded Cranston Rhode Island’s The Shop, with mixing by Matt Ricci at Triad (Warren R.I.) 

“Can’t Kill A Killer” explodes off the disc (or the Spotify, if you will, I’ve listened on both formats.) Adam Go plays saxophone on “Killer,” the only other musician on this outing.  This song is reminiscent of “Trade Up,” still one of my fave tracks of theirs, with high praise from Left Coast DJ Kaos, who would play “Trade Up” in California clubs, courtesy of the late crazed genius, Buzzy Linhart.

The title track opens the parade, and seems like a tribute to John Cougar Mellencamp back to his “Hurts So Good” days.  The Complaints have a massive list of covers as well as their originals in the repertoire and this is yet another collection that hits it out of the park.


Joe Viglione

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse (now Gannett) Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a critically acclaimed  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.

 Album Release party, this Sunday [9/24]. Doors at 5pm

show at 6pm free show The Last Resort 325 Farnum Pike, Smithfield, RI 02917, USA
Indoor show. CD's, limited edition vinyl albums and T-shirts available. Thanks for the support! Dean and the Boys
aka The Complaints 401) 349-3500     

 The Complaints "Let Heaven Fall" from the cd

Chasing Light



Elyjah Tribe brings a very musical, unique and exciting experience to these two songs. 

"Let's Ride" fuses pop, jazz and a touch of the islands into his sophisticated mix.  The results are an amazing platform which Sly and the Family Stone brought into the early 1970s.  Half a century later Elyjah Tribe takes that ground-breakding direction even further.   The video complements the musical bed for E.T.'s intense and highly-listenable vocals.  Great singer ...picking up the mantle that Marvin Gaye, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis and Jimmy Cliff initiated.  This song "Let's Ride" has all the elements, and the magic.  Simply wonderful with punch and fun vibes coming right out of left field.    

"Takers" comes in at 3 minutes and fifteen seconds.  Strong pop/reggae with everything from politics to religion ...the Jefferson Airplane 1960s protest coming in to 2023....someone has to pick up the mantle!  "Burning Down our Planet piece by piece" reminiscent of the exploding "Volunteers" (of America) launching from the Woodstock stage - riding on Marty Balin's voice.  Elyjah Tribe's voice is as strong as Balin, Marvin Gaye, progenitors who thrust their vocal sounds front and center, and who both made societal changes.  Bobby Hebb and Sandy Baron co-wrote "His Song Shall Be Sung" for Marvin Gaye, and Lou Rawls brought the point home with his recording of that now-classic.  "Takers" and "Let's Ride" are fresh and unconventional, and stand up to repeated spins.  Great stuff.


8)Helen Reddy "Imagination"  A Look Back


AllMusic's Joe Viglione wrote retrospectively: "Producers John Palladino and Helen Reddy do a commendable job of capturing so many instruments and vocals and putting them into a wonderful mix. The album gets high marks for sound quality and performance...For the fans of Helen Reddy this is a treat and a very necessary part of her collection."[1] In Billboard's review of the 2002 release of the album on compact disc, Mitchell Paoletta asks, "Ready for the flashback of a lifetime? If so, give a listen to Live in London, which has lost none of its sheen" and stresses that Reddy's "classy renderings of Billy Joel's 'The Entertainer' and Leon Russell's 'This Masquerade' should not be overlooked."[2]

Live in London is the first live album by Australian-American pop singer Helen Reddy that ... AllMusic's Joe Viglione wrote retrospectively: "Producers John Palladino ...

"Heartbeat" Helen Reddy

Don Johnson "Heartbeat" (Wendy Waldman)

Particularly, the title track: a floating synth dream that Joe Viglione of AllMusic remarked “might as well be the Go-Gos or Missing Persons; it’s a really great new wave pop tune, served up on a vinyl 12” with and extended dance remix for good measure.” We are talking about Helen Reddy, right? The same Reddy that People magazine disparagingly called the “1970s Queen of Housewife Rock?” Yes. If I had one critique of the song, the chorus needs a better hook—but the verses are mesmerizing. The music captures an etherial, dreamy quality that’s hard to get right. Suddenly, steel drums are dropped in that shouldn’t work at all, but somehow they fit brilliantly with the soft pulsating vibrations of the synthesized beats.

9)Live Coming Down to Joy Van Morrison Live
Van Morrison on Virgin Music covering the Guess Who / Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, a band that backed up Bobby Hebb after Johnny Kidd passed.   

10)Graham Nash

11)Rolling Stones different rendition of
Sympathy for the Devil / video  Rock n Roll Circus

12)everclear "Santa Monica"

Interview with Everclear in two weeks. Upcoming event...

everclear "Santa Monica"

'Coz Rock Album: The Best of the Boston Beat, Vol. 2 Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Radio stations sponsoring compilations of local recording groups was the rage in the '80s, and some important musical time capsules were created. When acts hit from those discs, those time capsules turned into collectors' items. The first volume of now-defunct radio station WCOZ's The Best of the Boston Beat (named after DJ Lesley Palmiter's excellent Sunday night local music program) was issued on WCOZ Records, manufactured by Infinity Records, in 1979 (the station's major competition, by the way, was Infinity Broadcasting). This second set, released in 1981, is on the Starsteam label out of Houston, TX. Starstream Records/Big Music America may have been a company which specialized in radio station LP projects, as the disc came with a ballot for voting on the album's best track and there was a national 25,000 dollar grand prize and a "record contract" (no specifics other than that). "Big Music America has gone into major cities all across the country to solicit tapes," is the claim on the back cover. Years after the regional album's creation, no such "battle of the bands" mentality is necessary. Classic tracks by the Jon Butcher Axis, Balloon (who featured future Joe Perry Project lead singer Charlie Farren), soon-to-be Boardwalk recording artists the Stompers, along with Johnny Barnes and a band with future producer Chris Lannon as guitarist, Midnight Traveller, give the album credibility the contest could not. Musically, the best tracks are "Shutdown" from the Stompers, "Roll Me" from Johnny Barnes featuring the gifted Craig Covner on guitar, Charlie Farren singing "Political Vertigo," and a classic early rendition of "New Man" by the Jon Butcher Axis, more driving than the remake on their Polygram debut. Anne English gets a nice runner-up status with "All I'm Waiting for Is You," while the other artists provide a snapshot of a moment in Boston music history. "Rock on the Radio" by Mark Williamson and American Teen is mainstream hard pop, while Midnight Traveller travels that same road. It's a good thing the tracks were not put back to back, as they sound very similar. Keep in mind, this is when radio programmer John Sebastian (not the singer/songwriter) brought WCOZ to 9.1 in the ratings by offering the world a steady diet of Led Zeppelin. That was the format of the station and this second volume reflects the album rock mindset. Powerglide is another band who made some noise, but like the aforementioned American Teen and Midnight Traveller, they were not part of what was considered the "underground" of the day. The Stompers, Jon Butcher, Balloon with Charlie Farren, and Johnny Barnes were able to cross into both arenas -- the suburban club scene as well as the Boston rock & roll crowd -- but none of these groups were totally embraced by the world where the Nervous Eaters, Willie Alexander, the Real Kids, and other members of the Live at the Rat clique performed and/or caused trouble. This album's lack of music from that world is a drawback -- the artists who got airplay on DJ Palmiter's show were not fully represented by 'Coz's Rock 'n' Roll Album: The Best of the Boston Beat, Vol. 2. Trapper, the Smith Brothers, and Witch One may have names that evaporated as quickly as their respective careers as bands did; their inclusion is a departure from the first volume, which had an impressive nine artists of the 12 being those who were more firmly established, but the "I exist therefore I am" philosophy earns them their place when someone picks up this rare collection and gets to hear some voices from the past. When you put this collection alongside Wayne Wadhams' 1975 Chef's Salad compilation and the Live at Jacks and Live at the Rat recordings, along with other collections of local music, you get a better focus. There were three compilations in radio station WCOZ's series before they changed call letters and went dance music/rap.  

wrko  hall of fame

Enjoy, new members: I Think We're Alone Now Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

"I Think We're Alone Now" was the first Top Five hit for Tommy James since his 1966 chart-topper "Hanky Panky," and a redemption of sorts for/from the album that came in between, the sugary It's Only Love. Ritchie Cordell is in total control here, writing the first eight songs on the disc, including all three that charted: "I Think We're Alone Now," the exquisite "Mirage," and "I Like the Way." The album cover is brilliant, total black with two pairs of feet taking two steps forward, then one pair turning around and facing the other; neither person is wearing shoes. The tension of the opening guitar and bass riff coupled with the great melody and theme make for an all-time rock & roll classic. It's more "hanky panky" in theme, "Hanky Panky" all grown up. "Mirage" opens side two and it is a brilliant sequel to "I Think We're Alone Now," with similar structure but enough production tricks to make the songs sound different. The harpsichord from side one's "Trust Each Other in Love" is used again in "Mirage" to great effect, while the underlying riff in "Trust Each Other in Love" also borrows from the title track. Co-produced by Bo Gentry and Cordell, with the ever-present Jimmy Wisner arranging and conducting, the album features the band and production team working as a cohesive unit to solidify Tommy James' foundation on pop radio. There's a credible cover of the Rivieras' 1964 hit "California Sun," as well a short and nicely chaotic rendition of the Isley Brothers' perennial "Shout." James' voice and personality carry the record and Cordell continues rewriting the title track with "Run, Run, Baby, Run," inverting the inspired riff. He and the singer then compose "(Baby, Baby) I Can't Take It No More," which has the feel of the Rascals' "I Ain't Gonna Eat out My Heart Anymore," while "Gone, Gone, Gone" sounds like Ritchie Cordell was listening to Pennsylvania's Eddie Rambeau or U.K. group Unit 4 + 2's "Concrete and Clay." There are plenty of flavors from the day slipped into this wonderful mix, a true pop concoction that has stood the test of time. In concert both "Mirage" and "I Think We're Alone Now" are major moments; James' hit material over the years contained a rich variety of composition. This album is Ritchie Cordell's vision for Tommy James and is an important and highly entertaining piece of the Shondells' catalog.

"Mirage" Song Review by Joe Viglione

Two minutes and thirty seconds of a revisit to the late Ritchie Cordell's previous classic composition for Tommy James & The Shondells, "I Think We're Alone Now", "Mirage" keeps the bass riff that previous song had as the foundation and a melody on the beginning of the hook - "just a mir---" that is almost the same as "I think we're a...", the beginning of the other song's hook. The difference between these two records which both hit the Top 10 within two months of each other in 1967 is that "Mirage" has plenty more sound effects - something that would become part of the Tommy James formula as he moved into self-production. The other major element is the keyboard from "I Think We're Alone Now" has a more dominant position in "Mirage", reflecting the melody and finding itself in the speakers front and center. The verse in each is totally different, which is key to giving these two songs separate identities. Bruce Eder's AMG bio for Tommy James & The Shondells notes: "according to James, "Mirage" was initially devised by playing the master of "I Think We're Alone Now" backwards. Plausible, and quite creative. Beyond the shifting sounds on the same feel and melody from a previous tune is perhaps Cordell's changing the reality. This love affair is like The Temptations "Just My Imagination" or The Turtles "Happy Together", longing for a love that isn't happening. The difference here, of course, is that the mirage is an ex while The Temptations and Turtles never even get to first base in their laments.

All Things Must Pass critique:


Gary Wright's Headin' Home Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Like Peter Frampton's Breaking All the Rules, this is a solid album by "the Dreamweaver," former Spooky Tooth member Gary Wright. "I'm the One Who'll Be by Your Side" has a solid hook, but like the aforementioned Frampton disc, it breaks no new ground. "My dreams were shattered" he sings in "Follow Next to You," which is "Dreamweaver" redux, but not as much as "Moonbeams," which is an absolute sequel to "Dreamweaver" in melody and in sound. The album is a consistent clone of previous work with one exception: "Love Is Why," a melodic, together, perfect pop tune with simple, bouncy rhythms and keyboard providing a dancing Gary Wright lead solo. It is the brightest light on Headin' Home, which is quite entertaining despite the repetition. Transplanted from New Jersey to Great Britain, he sounds very much like Denny Laine on "Keep Love in Your Soul," not only vocally, but in the songwriting, if you strip away the heavy keyboards. "Love is alive within your back doors" he sings, referring to past work. The mystery of how radio and records hit or miss is inherent in this album, as Wright would reach the Top 20 in 1981, while this and albums that came before it were part of a Top 40 dry spell, a void spanning five years. Though not extraordinary, "Keep Love in Your Soul" is at least as good as "Love Is Alive" and would have been a nice addition to the airwaves in 1979. Rare acoustic guitars open "Love's Awake Inside," and it boasts a great chorus. Wright's voice is perfect on this outing, an album seemingly driven by a serious relationship in crisis. As Bobby Hebb poured his first divorce into the Epic album Lovegames, Wright makes it clear to his significant other "You Don't Own Me": "Give me room" he says, to "discover who I really am inside." The sentiment is quite different from Lesley Gore's hit of the same name, and the album appears to be an exploration of various themes of love. With David Crosby, Graham Nash, Hugh McCracken, Steve Lukather, Wright's sister Lorna Wright (a.k.a. Lorna Doone), Michael MacDonald, and so many others, this fine album should have had a good run on the charts. Maybe the problem is that Wright's production keeps his guests in the background. With a different producer, the same songs and performances could have possibly had much greater success -- the magic is there, it just sounds too immersed in previous efforts. Nonetheless, Headin' Home has much merit, and for fans of Gary Wright, it is very enjoyable.

 Love & Conversation Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

That old adage "if it ain't broke don't fix it" should have special meaning for Hamilton, Joe Frank & Dennison in regard to their Love and Conversation album. Their own superb production work garnered them a number one hit with the previous album's title track, Falling in Love, and singer Dan Hamilton wrote 80 percent of the songs there, including everything on the first side -- which is one of the finest examples of adult contemporary pop in rock history -- three of the five songs gaining airplay on adult contemporary radio in the mid-'70s. On Love and Conversation, the arranger forPat Boone, Air Supply, Donny & Marie Osmond, Petula Clark, and others, John D'Andrea, is brought in to produce. With David Foster engineer Humberto Gatica, he does a decent job, and a stellar cast of musicians, including Doobie Brother Jeff Baxter and session man Lee Ritenour, would make one think they could equal or surpass the previous effort. Instead they have an expensive album that is pleasant enough, but fails to match the majesty of their chart-topper and the hits that accompanied it. The group, which began sounding like a cross between the Grass Roots and Three Dog Night when they recorded for ABC, sounds like they've merged Motown with Gamble & Huff not only on the opening track, Van McCoy's "You Sold Me a One Way Ticket to Love" -- which has the flavors from his hit "The Hustle" -- albeit in a more subdued form, but on the Dan Hamilton/Jimmy George title track as well, borrowing heavily from Gamble & Huff. The opening song on side two, Homer Banks/Carl Hampton's "Now That I've Got You" is more sophisticated middle-of-the-road disco -- and is as refined as Zulema Cusseaux's "I Was There," keeping pace but offering no surprises. Gladys Knight songwriter Jim Weatherly's "Old Habits" respects and resembles the wonderful adult contemporary pop which made the first side of their Falling in Love album such a delight, but the decent 45 rpm from these sessions, Ben Findon and G.Wiken's "Light Up The World With Sunshine," is missing in action. The yellow picture cover to the 45 rpm featured Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds with Tommy Reynold's name finally crossed out, replaced by Dennison. That move may have been a day late and a dollar short. Van McCoy or even original producer Steve Barri may have been better choices to collaborate with Dan Hamilton on this all too important opportunity to further establish themselves in the Barry Manilow/Helen Reddy sweepstakes that was 1970s pop radio. Alan Dennison's instrumental "Houdini" is a minor-league cop of "The Hustle," and the band's only co-write, "Get on the Bus," is just frivolous. This is a pseudo disco record, featuring the trio in open white shirts and their emblem not only hanging on their respective chests, but available on a T-shirt for $4.95 if you returned the promo insert included with the album. This was not the kind of band which could sell merchandise, and inevitably it all feels a bit contrived. An adequate follow-up was disappointing indeed, for Hamilton, Joe Frank & Dennison had the potential to do much more magical pop music and should have stayed on course.

 Grand Slam Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

Rare Earth plays the Motown covers as they record on that label's Prodigal imprint. What made "Get Ready" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You" so brilliant was their total reinvention by a creative blue-eyed soul band rocking out. Seven to eight years after that success, the group is resorting to walking through versions of "I Wish It Would Rain" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" that sound as if they were recorded on a weekend while the band was performing at a wedding gig. The conclusion of "Grapevine" almost gets it, the fade showing sparks of creativity. This is, after all, the song that Gladys Knight pioneered, which Marvin Gaye sent through the roof, and which got what Rare Earth needed to give it from Creedence Clearwater. The late Jimmy Miller produced a tremendous Vanilla Fudge-like version with ex-members of Elephant's Memory in the early '80s, so the song still had some life; it just proves how pedestrian this once lively bunch of guys got by this point in time. The shift from the earthy machine-like rock band which turned soul tunes into radio-friendly '70s pop to a cover act attempting to be a true soul group is what is going on here. "Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S.)" is the group emulating the Four Tops doing "Ill Turn to Stone," or even the Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart of Mine," while "Mighty Good Love" cops the popular Philly sound with some of the group's earlier trademark riffs thrown in for good measure. "My Eyes Only" is a band trying to borrow the Spinners' vibe on "It's a Shame," while "When a Man Loves a Woman" is just a total embarrassment. John Ryan's production is actually quite sad. While the Four Tops would move on to ABC/Dunhill and Arista but stay true to their mission, Rare Earth takes themselves much too seriously here. The highlight is a Barry Gibb/Albhy Galuten tune, "Save Me, Save Me," which serves as a precursor to the hit later this same year, 1978, on the immediate follow-up, the Band Together album, with the Bee Gees-penned "Warm Ride," which barely bubbled over the Top 40. Nothing on here comes close to the fun of their first five hits. At least Merry Clayton, Venetta Fields, and their friends got some session fees.

Robin Lane's father, Ken Lane, wrote this for Frank Sinatra, and played piano for Frank and Dean Martin. Dean recorded a solo acoustic piano version, then producer Jimmy Bowen re-recorded it with the amazing backing. Dean Martin then had a string of hits which sounded like Everybody Loves Somebody (You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You etc) they used the same formula and it worked Robin showed up on Neil Young's Everybody Knows this is Nowhere, also on Sinatra's label, Reprise. I wondered why Warner/Reprise didn't really promote her with the family connection .

Kenny Lane, wrote "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime," for Frank Sinatra. He was pianist for Dean Martin who did a solo acoustic of it, producer Jimmy Bowen took it, added amazing Bombast, and the rest is history
Dream with Dean Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

A profile of a rugged Dean Martin by the fireplace with a cigarette adorns the jacket of this very interesting concept album. As Stan Cornyn's liner notes explain, "his longtime accompanist" on piano, Ken Lane, with "three of Hollywood's most thoughtful rhythm men" -- those being drummer Irv Cottler, bassist Red Mitchell, and guitarist Barney Kessel -- do create a mood, Dean Martin performing as if he were a lounge singer at 1:15 a.m. as the Saturday night crowd is dwindling. His signature tune, "Everybody Loves Somebody," is here in a laid-back style, produced by Jimmy Bowen, who would go on to produce Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, and so many others, also the same man who was behind the 1964 number one smash. This album with the original Martin recording was released after the hit single version and on the same day as the Everybody Loves Somebody LP, but how many times does the audience get a different studio reading of a seminal hit record? Not only that, but the version that preceded the hit. The backing is so sparse it is almost a cappella, with Kessel's guitar noodlings and Ken Lane's piano. The bass is mostly invisible, coming in only when needed. It's a slow and sultry version that caps off side one. There is a rendition of Rodgers & Hart's "Blue Moon" that strips away the doo wop of the Marcels' number one 1961 remake, and a run-through of the Bloom/Mercer hit for Glen Miller, "Fools Rush In," which Rick Nelson had launched into the Top 15 in 1963. Martin is just crooning away, and if the album has one drawback, it is that the 12 songs are incessant in their providing the same atmosphere. The backing quartet does not deviate from their job, nor does producer Jimmy Bowen add any technique, other than putting Martin's voice way out in the mix. But Dream With Dean was no doubt excellent research and development as Bowen landed 11 Top 40 hits with the singer from 1964's "Everybody Loves Somebody," which evolved out of this original idea to 1967's "Little Old Wine Drinker, Me." It sounds as if they tracked the album in one afternoon, and it is not only a very pleasant listening experience, it shows what a tremendous vocalist Dean Martin truly was.

Anne Murray/Glen Campbell Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

A delightful half hour with Anne Murray and Glen Campbell, the two singers looking like lovers on the front cover, casually dressed, Murray's smiling profile face to face with the man nine years her senior. The music inside, produced and arranged by Brian Ahern and Al DeLory, is perfect light country-pop. There are no hits here, though that is surprising, both "Canadian Sunset" and "Bring Back the Love" should have been contenders. At times Campbell's voice overpowers Murray, but it doesn't detract from the album. The familiarity of these personalities on a well-crafted set of songs works for their audience as well as those who enjoy middle-of-the-road music which can fade into the background. "United We Stand" is a nice duet between the two, but it is missing the production punch that made Brotherhood of Man's version so special the year before. Though there are strings on the interesting version of Randy Newman's "Love Story (You & Me)," for the most part the album is produced very low-key, letting Anne and Glen do their thing without heavy sounds barging in. Murray does a nice job opening up Hoyt Axton's almost gospel-ish "Ease Your Pain," Campbell making it country-pop when he gets his chance at the microphone. Glen had two hits with duets with Bobbie Gentry and in 1976 broke the Top 30 with a medley, "Don't Pull Your Love"/"Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye." Here he takes his first hit, Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," and is offset by Anne Murray crooning Bacharach/David's "I Say a Little Prayer." He's leaving, and she's praying he won't. Everything here has a special charm, "Let Me Be the One" as pleasant as the opening track, "You're Easy to Love," and the nice country finish that is Dallas Frazier's "My Ecstasy" just as satisfying. It's a good job from both singers, and worthy of an encore.

This eponymous live audio cd culls its ten tracks from

{^Greg Lake Live}, a more extensive DVD which has even
more familiar material from the {$Greg Lake}
history/repertoire than this spin-off disc. In that
respect, this presentation in its truncated form is
rather redundant.  When other artists from the time
period (though not necessarily from the same genre)
like {$Leslie West} have their own "Official Bootleg
Series" of CDs including fancy titles to keep the fans
on notice, one has to ask why {$Greg Lake} isn't
getting the same kind of treatment. He certainly
deserves it.  Yes, there are credits galore in the 4
page booklet and the music is as precise and powerful
as one expects it to be, but the question remains - do
rabid fans of prog rock want a less than full-length
concert when the DVD offers so much more?  Also keep
in mind that many of Lake's solo recordings are live,
including a 1981 cd which reflects the DVD title to
this concert, {^Greg Lake Live}.  Confusion reigns,
even for the die hard fans. 

Now on to the music...It's as good as you would
imagine, the singer/guitarist in fine form spinning a
magical {&"In The Court Of The Crimson King"} as well
as a dirge-like {&"21st Century Schizoid Man"}, both
from the brilliant 1969 {$King Crimson} debut.  Sure,
the fans will appreciate those classics getting the
glossy progressive treatment, the eerie cutting edge
of the original versions now polished by time and not
as provocative, but the difference between them is
stark and the bombast present here doesn't add to the
legend, it merely gives another perspective.  Which
means, as much as fans love having many different
versions of their favorite songs, a little reinvention
would make the faithful sit up and pay attention. Note
how a folk/jazz/rock artist like {$Joni Mitchell} will
let her style and her renditions of past glories
evolve. There's nothing bad about this yet another
{$Greg Lake} performing some of his greatest hits
live...just the fact that it's another edition of
{$Greg Lake} performing some of his greatest hits.
Bootlegs are fun for a very specific reason, they
offer something unavailable on mainstream releases.
Hopefully Lake's future projects will add some
oddities, guest appearances or mad solos that break
the mold.  Current musicians emulating {$Greg Lake}'s
past, no matter how well, might make for a limited
engagement to the classic rock audience that seeks
something new.

I Fear No One... Review

by Joe Viglione


Jangle jangle tucked inside cacophony is just part of the mantra of the Transmitters on I Fear No One..., a 22-track album that is a combination of non-stop erratic mania mixed in with avant-garde ambient-flavored musical experiments. The notes on this CD scrapbook are frustratingly threadbare except for the track listing of the 14 or so musicians who show up to perform on specific songs/essays. A cover of the Velvet Underground's "Ferryboat Bill," once embraced on a mini-four-song bootleg EP before being legitimized on Another View, is a nice run-through but not as true to the spirit as other Velvets-inspired pieces like "Ache." Total beat poetry stream of consciousness in that song: is he singing "Another mad crush another man abuses"? Who knows? -- it's another mad descent into a quagmire of electronic sounds -- one of the previously unreleased tracks recorded around London, and one of the more impressive ones. Moody music with a pessimistic point of view announced over the musical wanderings and so different from the harsh punk of "Paper Boy," a 35 second 1978 track from the album 24 Hours. It's all a bit more cohesive than Half Japanese but still disorganized enough to keep this music firmly stuck in the realm of college radio with little chance of mainstream crossover. Title track, "I Fear No-One But My Friends," is an odd mixture of perhaps Devo meets the Quick of Mondo Deco fame while "Kill the Postman" owes much to David Thomas and latter day Pere Ubu, the four tracks from BBC Radio One's The John Peel Show, recorded November 21, 1979, proving to be exceptional. "Ugly Man" seems like a taut Ric Ocasek nightmare he forgot to include on a Suicide LP, decidedly different from the catchy "O.5 Alive" which opens the disc. There's plenty on I Fear No One for both fans and newcomers to absorb and enjoy, and it's nice that music from a band with limited output is cataloged so well on this retrospective.                 

The Amboy Dukes Review by Joe Viglione [-]
The debut album by the Amboy Dukes should be high on collectors' lists. Fusing the psychedelia of the early Blues Magoos with Hendrix riffs and British pop, the band which launched the legend of Ted Nugent has surprises galore in these lost grooves. More experimental than Ambrose Slade's Ballzy -- could you conceive of the Cat Scratch Fever guy performing on Peter Townshend's "It's Not True" and Joe Williams' classic "Baby Please Don't Go"? The latter tune was the flip side of the group Them's single "Gloria," but Ted Nugent and the boys totally twist it to their point-of-view, even tossing a complete Jimi Hendrix nick into the mix. The Amboy Dukes issued this as the single backed with their sitar-laden and heady "Psalms of Aftermath." "Baby Please Don't Go" is extraordinary, but isn't the hit single that "Journey to the Center of the Mind" would be from their follow-up LP titled after that radio-friendly gem. Producer Bob Shad's work with Vic Damone, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Vaughan wasn't what prepared him for the psychedelic hard rock of "Colors," a song with some of the experimentation Nugent would take further on the Survival of the Fittest, Live and Marriage on the Rocks/Rock Bottom albums further down the road. Those latter-day Dukes projects took themselves too seriously and got a bit too out there. The fun that is the Amboy Dukes take on the Ashford/Simpson/Armstead standard "Let's Go Get Stoned"; it's the kind of thing that could have stripped away the pretension of the post-Mainstream discs. The dancing piano runs and Ted Nugent confined to a pop-blues structure certainly got the benefit of Shad's record making experience, and it is a treat. Of the 11 tunes, seven are band originals. Taking on a faithful version of Cream's "I Feel Free" is interesting, and like Slade's first disc, they inject enough cover material to make the product interesting for those who had never heard of this group. "Down on Philips Escalator" could be early Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, and that's what makes this album so very inviting. As essential to the Amboy Dukes' catalog as the non-hit material on Psychedelic Lollipop was to the Blues Magoos, the first album from the Amboy Dukes is a real find and fun listening experience. "The Lovely Lady" almost sounds like the Velvet Underground meets the Small Faces by way of Peanut Butter Conspiracy. This is a far cry from Cat Scratch Fever, and that's why fans of psychedelia and '60s music should cherish this early diamond.

Gary Sohmers Roar's Back March 8 with Collectibles Show, To Jah Nature Ellis, Tom Hambridge New CD, Keith Richards Waiting for the Man, Sean Walshe American Son, Clive Davis with Anthony DeCurtis

Top 10 1)Gary Sohmers 2)Tom Hambridge 3)Nature Ellis  4)Keith Richards "Waiting for the Man" Lou Reed's Birthday 5)Sean Walshe...