Wilco Remasters Revisit the Early, Post Uncle Tupelo Days

A.M. / Being There (Rhino / Reprise)

Jeff Tweedy’s Wilco is one of the most respected bands of the last 20 years.  They’ve managed to gain critical praise while garnering decent sales and even battling major record labels.  Yet, there was a time when all of this was in serious doubt.  A pair of reissues from Rhino Records give us a glimpse of the early steps of the band with deluxe versions of their first two albums, A.M. and Being There.

When Uncle Tupelo imploded in 1994, leader Jay Farrar formed Son Volt, while the other remaining members joined Tweedy in Wilco.  Initially, it was Farrar that achieved success, both with Son Volt’s debut album, Trace, and its college rock hit single, “Drown.”  Sales of Wilco’s debut A.M. paled in comparison.   Yet, over time, Wilco has certainly gained momentum, especially with albums like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Continue reading Wilco Remasters Revisit the Early, Post Uncle Tupelo Days

The Choir – Artifact – The Unreleased Album

Never-before released album from band that spawned the Raspberries

The Sixties were a great time for music. Problem is, most everything has been overplayed from that era for years. Wouldn’t it be great to get some fresh, new music from that time period? Enter Artifact – The Unreleased Album from the Cleveland band, The Choir, just out on Omnivore Recordings.

The group is best known for “It’s Cold Outside,” a jangly bit of British Invasion imitation that became a minor hit nationally in 1966. The lineup at that time contained 3/4th’s of what would later become the Raspberries (minus Eric Carmen). But, as we find out in the liner notes and extensive family tree, The Choir became a revolving door of musicians from the North Coast, including members that would go on to be in the James Gang and many other, less-successful bands. Continue reading The Choir – Artifact – The Unreleased Album

#321 – Ian Anderson – 50 Years of Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull issued their debut album, This Was, back in 1968 to little fanfare. Few knew that this mix of blues, folk and psychedelia would usher in one of the most successful careers in all of rock. Now, a staggering 50 years later, leader Ian Anderson is celebrating that half-century mark by hitting the road with his venerable band for 50 Years of Jethro Tull, promising to not only cover the high points throughout the years, but also dig back into some of the very early material as well.

We chat the early days of the band, what’s in store for the new tour, and the continued reissue campaign of their catalog (Heavy Horses is the latest in the batch).  We also discuss a little-known fact – that Tommy Iommi of Black Sabbath briefly joined Jethro Tull in the early days.

Win Spinal Tap – The Big Black Book from Backbeat and Icon Fetch!

Enter the contest here:

Spinal Tap – The Big Black Book Giveaway from Backbeat Books

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[caption id="attachment_5426" align="alignnone" width="222"] Win this new book from Backbeat featuring removable memorabilia from the legendary rockumentary.[/caption]

This one goes to eleven

This is Spinal Tap is one of the greatest rock movies ever made. The Big Black Book is a celebration of the "Loudest Band in the World," Spinal Tap, featuring hundreds of full-color photos of the band in action, plus removable keepsakes like a large wall poster from the film, plus a replica of the napkin that led to the Stonehenge debacle, a ticket to "Puppet Show and Spinal Tap," and much more. Enter your email address for a chance to win a copy of this fantastic collection from Icon Fetch and Backbeat Books.

#320 – Author Mary Lou Sullivan – The Life & Times of Kinky Friedman

Kinky Friedman is an American original.  The cigar-smoking, self-proclaimed “Jewish cowboy” has done it all – he’s toured with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue and been onstage at the Grand Ole Opry. He’s hobnobbed with John Belushi and Willie Nelson.  Then, when his music career waned, he became a novelist, penning numerous mystery novels and non-fiction books.

He also ran for governor of Texas (garnering a whopping 1/2 million votes) and is an advocate for animal rights.  Truthfully, there’s so many layers to the man who’s real first name is Richard.  Author Mary Lou Sullivan tries to uncover things in Everything’s Bigger in Texas – the Life & Times of Kinky Friedman from Backbeat Books.

Sullivan talks about the similarities and differences between Friedman and her other biography subject, the late Johnny Winter.  Plus, she reveals some of the obstacles she had to overcome to complete the book and get the real story of a man shrouded in myth.

Toto – Greatest Hits: 40 Trips Around the Sun (review)

The best, single-disc collection of the band’s music ever assembled

Toto’s debut album was a surprise hit when it was released back in 1978.  Four decades later, the band continues to tour and create new music.  That legacy is celebrated with Greatest Hits: Forty Trips Around the Sun, a new compilation from Legacy Recordings.

Few bands from that time period are even around now, yet Toto remains relevant.  One reason is their versatility.  Take the singles from band’s debut – the insistent “Hold the Line” had an odd drumbeat from Jeff Porcaro and killer guitar solo from Steve Lukather, while the slinky “Georgy Porgy” was a bona fide R&B hit.  Then there’s their biggest hit, 1982’s “Africa.”  Buoyed by a strange time signature and moody keyboards, who’d have guessed that it would go all the way to #1?   Continue reading Toto – Greatest Hits: 40 Trips Around the Sun (review)

Seth Walker – Live at Mauch Chunk Opera House (review)

NC native’s first live album is as infectious as his studio work

Seth Walker has been on an enviable hot streak as of late, releasing a series of fantastic studio albums that mix R&B, folk, blues and rock into a style that’s all his own. Live At Mauch Chunk Opera House is his first-ever concert recording, and it shows that he’s just as lethal in a live setting.

Although Walker did a lot of solo shows promoting his latest album, Gotta Get Back, for this disc he’s joined by the trio of Myles Weeks on bass, Stefano Intelisano on keys & accordion, and Eric Kalb on drums. They provide the perfect backdrop for Walker’s laid back delivery. Continue reading Seth Walker – Live at Mauch Chunk Opera House (review)

#319 – John Mayall – New Live Album – Three For the Road

photo by David Gomez

John Mayall is one of the finest living ambassadors to the blues.  His bands have been proving grounds for countless musicians, many of whom he’s outlived – and yet, he’s showing no sign of slowing down.  He’s played a slew of recent live dates, and his latest studio album, 2017’s Talk About That, is one of the finest of his career.

But, never one to stay in one place too long, Mayall threw  everyone a curveball when he went out on the road without a guitarist, allowing Mayall, his bassist and drummer, plenty of space to make music, and turning the spotlight on his harmonica and piano playing skills.  Three For the Road is a live document of that unique tour, and it’s out from Forty Below Records.

Mayall talks about the challenges and freedoms that come from just playing in a trio, plus he reveals what’s on the horizon for him – a new album with an all-star lineup of guitarists.

#318 – Luther Russell – Selective Memories – Working with Jakob Dylan, Members of Black Crowes, Big Star and More

Luther Russell may not be a household name, but he’s managed to put together an impressive body of work over the last 30 years.  He played in a pre-Wallflowers band with Jakob Dylan called The Bootheels;  got signed to a major label in the 1990’s with the roots-rock outfit, The Freewheelers; worked with former Black Crowes’ guitarist Marc Ford in Federale, and is currently in a band with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens called Those Pretty Wrongs.  He’s also done several solo albums where he’s played all the instruments himself.

The highlights of his multi-faceted career have been cobbled together in Selective Memories: An Anthology, just out from Hanky Panky Records.

Our Favorite Album of 2017

Delbert McClinton & Self-Made Men – Prick of the Litter (Hot Shot/Thirty Tigers)

How many artists in their 70’s are still consistently releasing music?  Of those, how many are putting out albums that rank as some of the finest of their career?  There is absolutely only one – Delbert McClinton.

Rock, blues, country – he’s done it all, and has the awards to prove it.  Yet, McClinton’s  latest project is a nod to the pre-rock music of his youth.  Prick of the Litter finds the 76-year old survivor exploring the classic song structures of folks like Johnny Mercer.  But, instead of covering old material, he’s written new compositions that emulate that great music.  Don’t worry, there’s still several rockers here too. Continue reading Our Favorite Album of 2017

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