Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971) – CD review –
The Dark Side of the Moon of soul music. Artists on Motown records were only allowed to sing, and were not involved with the creative process, until Marvin broke free with this stone-cold masterpiece, which he helped write and produce.
Covering topical subject matter like war, race relations and pollution, you’d think What’s Going On is a bummer. But, that’s what makes this so special: Marvin wraps these songs in lush arrangements that are as sweet going down as honey. Yet, never once does he sound preachy. This is the art of gentle persuasion (something he would perfect in the bedroom suite Let’s Get it On two years later). “What’s Going On,” “Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology),” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler),” were all singles, but the entire album is flawless. And the whole record fades from one song to the next, a trick Pink Floyd would use to great effect a couple years later. Marvin Gaye actually did the impossible: he made a listenable protest album. –Tony Peters
The story seems crazy now: a band of blues-rockers from a decade earlier became the darlings of MTV, and this is the album that did it. Sure, you have to give some credit to the clever videos with the 1933 Ford in them, but it’s the music that lingers even today.
As with many great albums, it’s true appeal is it’s danceability; a perfect blend of blues-rock and four-on-the-floor beat. The icing on the cake comes with the sprinkling of keyboards into the mix; this is ZZ Top with just a pinch extra. The Eliminator album produced several hit singles and radio hits, including “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” “Got Me Under Pressure,” and “TV Dinners.” Instead of sticking to this winning formula, the ‘Top decided to jump headfirst into synthesizers. It’s kind of like eating a cake with nothing but icing: it’s just wrong, there’s no substance. The resulting album, Afterburner now sounds dated and misguided, while Eliminator still stands up. –Tony Peters
Quite possibly the greatest debut LP in history, Boston reset the standard for perfection in a rock album. Sure, there were other LP’s that had strived for sonic perfection, Dark Side of the Moon comes to mind, but that was meant as a “headphone album.” Boston rocks, yet every note is where it should be:
The guitars are big, the vocals soaring and the hooks are 100 percent grade A. Taking a good part of a decade to create, Boston still stands as one of the most fully-realized debuts in history. The album would yield the anthemic “More Than a Feeling.” The stratospheric height that Boston achieved would be a one-time deal. Don’t Look Back from two years later, sounds rushed and unfinished. Subsequent LPs were mired in legal battles and over-production. But the first Boston still stands up after all these years. –Tony Peters
Veteran blues guitarist Elvin Bishop returns with a new CD “Red Dog Speaks,” on June 15th. The title refers to his favorite stringed instrument, a 1959 Gibson hollow body. Bishop’s storied career includes a stint in the acclaimed Butterfield Blues Band in the mid 1960’s. In ’68, he went solo and played a series of stellar co-headlining shows with the Allman Brothers Band at the Fillmore East. Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” hit #3 in 1976 and is still a staple at classic rock stations around the country. He was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Blues Album for 2008’s star-studded “The Blues Rolls On.” You can order Elvin’s CD by going directly to his record label’s site or at amazon.com as well.
Creed Bratton plays himself on the NBC hit comedy “The Office.” The true part of his character is that he was the lead guitarist of the sixties band the Grass Roots, who had hits with “Let’s Live For Today,” “Midnight Confessions,” and “Things I Should’ve Said.” He’s just released a new solo disc, appropriately titled Bounce Back. Icon Fetch talks to him about his dual career as actor and musician.
Justin Currie hit the top ten as lead singer of Del Amitri with 1995’s “Roll to Me.” That 2 1/2 minute Beatles knock-off merely scratched the surface of his talent. Currie is a prolific songwriter who has a gift for writing incredibly melodic songs that refuse to leave your head. He’s just released his second solo set called The Great War (Rykodisc). Currie talks with Icon Fetch from his home in Scotland on the eve of a tour of the US. He talks about his new CD, how he almost drowned shooting the underwater front cover, and also gives his feelings on the social networking craze.
THIS IS A LETTER THAT I WROTE TO THE DAYTON DAILY NEWS
I attended the first two concerts of the season (Goo Goo Dolls & Gregg Allman) at Fraze Pavilion over the weekend. For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at both shows. But, I have to say that I had something happen to me that has NEVER happened before in my almost 30 years of concert-going: I was asked by the staff to SIT DOWN. I was not drunk, belligerent, or standing on my chair, I wasn’t even flailing about. I was standing up because I was excited by what I was seeing on stage, and I was told that I had to take my seat.
My seats were in the second row of the pavilion, just behind the folding chair section. I turned around and looked back at the crowd behind me. Almost all of them were sitting down. This wasn’t during a slow song or even a new one that no one knows (we all sat down through those), this particular song was “Statesboro Blues,” a highpoint of ANY Allman Brothers show for years (and I’ve been to six previously).
The staff person later apologized and said that she only tells people to sit down when she’s had five complaints. Complaints for standing during a concert? I didn’t see this in the list of Fraze “Do’s and Don’ts” To compare, the night before at the Goo Goo Dolls, everyone stood THE ENTIRE TIME. There were times when I needed to sit down and take a break. I didn’t complain, if I wanted to see, I stood up!
I’m not sure where to direct my anger at this, the people who complained or the staff person that actually listened. Why go to a rock concert if you’re going to sit down the entire time? I’ve been to concerts where the experience has been ruined by that wasted, out of control fan. But, this was different.
Note to those fans who want to sit down the entire time: next time, buy the DVD, and stay home.
Gregg Allman – Fraze Pavilion – Saturday, May 15, 2010
Another great night for a show. It rained in the early evening, but the clouds went away and it ended up being a beautiful night to watch some great music.
First thing I noticed was that Gregg Allman had his hair down. At several of the recent Allman Brothers Band shows, he’s worn his hair in a ponytail. Having his hair down actually made him look younger. The second thing was his voice. Gravelly, but still very strong, probably the best I’ve heard him sound in years.
He began the show with “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin‘” from Idlewild South, the second LP from the Allman Brothers and followed it with his biggest solo hit “I’m No Angel.” And thus began a night which alternated between hits and new material from an upcoming, as yet untitled solo album. In fact, Allman played more hits in one solo night than you might see in several nights with the Allman Brothers Band. “Melissa,” “Midnight Rider,” “Whippin’ Post,” and “Statesboro Blues,” all sounded great. He had a way of re-arranging the classic songs that breathed new life in them.
A welcome surprise was Allman’s take on the Bob Dylan song “Just Like a Woman.” He gave it a tenderness only hinted at in Dylan’s original from Blonde on Blonde. Another nice addition was saxophonist Jay Collins, who added a different element to many of the familiar songs.
Rumor has it that Allman’s forthcoming CD is going to be titled Your In Good Hands With Allman.
Opening night for the Summer Concert Series at Fraze Pavilion in Dayton. Perfect night for a show, cool without being uncomfortable. I remember the Goo Goo Dolls from their punky pop stuff of the early 90’s, and albums like Superstar Car wash, and A Boy Named Goo.
First thing that surprised me was how old many of the concert goers were. I thought I’d be the oldest one there, but wasn’t by a long shot. Second thing I noticed was how I had completely lost touch with this band. I didn’t recognize hardly any of the songs that they played. I’ve never been to a concert where you could hear the crowd talking over the band. That’s how it was when the Goos played anything unfamiliar.
It occurred to me what had happened: the Goo Goo Dolls began life as a punkish pop band that only got played on college radio. Their ballad, “Name,” from A Boy Named Goo, changed all that. Constant MTV airplay rocketed that song into the top five. The band decided to shed their underground skin and embrace the mainstream. Their song “Iris” from the Nicolas Cage / Meg Ryan movie City of Angels solidified this transformation. From this point on, the Goo Goo Dolls became the darlings of Adult Alternative.
But there’s a cost to this sort of fame. Everyone knew the hits, but when it came to the album cuts, people could care less. Their college radio fans of old would’ve known every track of every CD, but the top 40 crowd only knows the hit that they’ve downloaded from Itunes or heard on the radio.
While some bands throw in a bone or two for the fans that have been with them from the beginning, the Goo Goo Dolls preferred to completely forget their past, playing only “Name” from A Boy Named Goo. Everything else from the evening centered around their post-transformation period. And, why not? I’m probably the only one in the audience who would’ve cared.