Category Archives: Reviews

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

Rarely do artists get a second act quite like Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson – Playback – The Brian Wilson Anthology (Rhino)

The guiding force behind the 1960’s Beach Boys, Brian Wilson helped create some of the greatest American rock n’ roll ever recorded. Yet, by the early 1970’s, a combination of drugs and fractured psyche left him a damaged recluse who famously put a sandbox in his living room.  Dr. Eugene Landy’s controversial treatment in the mid 80’s could’ve signaled the end of this great artist.  Yet, somehow Wilson has managed to pull things together and issue music which, while not as spectacular as his early Beach Boys, certainly contain moments of brilliance. Continue reading Rarely do artists get a second act quite like Brian Wilson

Back to the decade that spawned Friends, Starbucks and Harry Potter

Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call 90’s Pop (Universal / Sony) review

Eleven number one hits

The 1990’s were a time of incredible prosperity and technological advances. Record companies were selling unprecedented amounts of CDs and, as a result, artists were still making money from the sale of their recorded music (imagine that, right?). Now That’s What I Call 90’s Pop attempts to sum up the Top 40 side of things with this new collection. Continue reading Back to the decade that spawned Friends, Starbucks and Harry Potter

He was the John Coltrane of the Electric Guitar

Eidolon – The Allan Holdsworth Collection (Manifesto) review

For older music fans, there seems to be only two choices now – subpar new music that is good, but not great, or listen to the same old tired material of the past. Well, now is as good a time as ever to discover someone you may have missed the first time around – guitar virtuoso Allan Holdsworth. Continue reading He was the John Coltrane of the Electric Guitar

Remember when rock n’ roll was fun?

Chandler Travis Philharmonic – Waving Kissyhead vol 2 & 1 (Iddy Biddy) review

It’s 2018. David Bowie, Prince and Tom Petty are dead. Most popular music is boring, homogenized corporate crap or pretentious, self-absorbed music that is purposely un-technical. So, here comes the Chandler Travis Philharmonic to save the day. Well, probably not. I mean, they’re just one band. But, they’re a pretty damn good band. Despite their moniker, the band has a lot more to do with the sloppy tightness of the Replacements than that community orchestra that you’re aunt that never married has season tickets to. Continue reading Remember when rock n’ roll was fun?

How Does a Band This Good Fly Under the Radar for 50 Years?

NRBQ – High Noon: A 50-year Retrospective (Omnivore Recordings) box set review

Odds are, you’ve never heard of NRBQ. So, a five-CD box set probably doesn’t make sense. Yet, in fact, it’s just the opposite – I can’t name a band that better deserves a multi-disc treatment like this. Omnivore Recordings has just issued High Noon: A 50-year Retrospective, the first-ever career-spanning collection of this criminally-ignored band. Continue reading How Does a Band This Good Fly Under the Radar for 50 Years?

An unlikely pairing results in good fun

Bobby Darin & Johnny Mercer  Two of a Kind (Omnivore Recordings)

In 1961,  the teaming of 24-year old rocker Bobby Darin with bandleader/songwriter Johnny Mercer, who was 27 years older, might’ve seemed a bit odd.  Yet, if you follow Darin’s career trajectory, it makes perfect sense. A new, deluxe edition of Two of a Kind, has just been issued by Omnivore Recordings.   Continue reading An unlikely pairing results in good fun

RECAP 2017: He began as a Monkee, but did so much more

Michael Nesmith – Infinite Tuesday – Autobiographical Riffs – The Music (Rhino) review

Michael Nesmith will forever be linked to the Monkees, the 1960’s group that’s been unfairly labeled as a fake band (were the Mamas & Papas any different?  But, that’s a debate for another time).  Yet, Nesmith continued to grow as an artist and pioneer after the breakup of the band.  He championed the country-rock movement, penned hit songs for other people, and became a innovator in the budding video technology of the late Seventies/early Eighties.  Infinite Tuesday, a new career retrospective from Rhino Records, takes Nesmith’s long and varied career and distills it into one disc. Continue reading RECAP 2017: He began as a Monkee, but did so much more

RECAP 2017: At 84 years old, John Mayall is still in his prime

John Mayall – Talk About That (Forty Below Records) review

Someone forgot to tell John Mayall to slow down as he got older.  Talk About That is somewhere in the ballpark of his 65th album, yet it still sounds like he’s having a good time.  He’s surrounded by what he’s called his “best band ever” – Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums.  Mayall himself alternates between Hammond organ, piano, harmonica & guitar, as well as handling the lead vocals.   Continue reading RECAP 2017: At 84 years old, John Mayall is still in his prime

RECAP 2017: Some of the Wildest Music Ever Committed to Tape

 

Flat Duo Jets – Wild Wild Love (Daniel 13) review

Excuse me for being jaded

If I had a nickel for every time someone came to me with a band that, in their opinion, was the “pure essence of rock n’ roll,” or was “high energy” or “out of control” – honestly, I wouldn’t be writing this review, I’d be vacationing somewhere a lot warmer.

The truth is, I’ve used the Flat Duo Jets as a measuring stick for over three decades now – and nothing ever comes close to matching the fury that Dex Romweber (guitar/vocals) and Chris “Crow” Smith (drums) managed to conjure up during their 15 years together. Continue reading RECAP 2017: Some of the Wildest Music Ever Committed to Tape