Monday, March 31, 2008

Track 4:-->"Voyager" - Gamma - "Gamma 2" - (1980)

"When darkness falls...he goes by the stars
getting directions from Jupiter and Mars.
It was he who created this strife.
He is fighting for his life.
He is longing to see...his wife and his family."
Gamma


Ronnie Montrose
has a long and strong RnR pedigree...not only breaking bread with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Edgar Winter Group, and Van Morrison...but has also rolled some sweet numbers of his own...that add up to over forty years of guitar pleasure.

Gamma
was the 2nd official rock band lead by guitar wizard...Ronnie Montrose. Not a "great" vocalist himself...Ronnie has always been adept at locating...really strong singers.

Like his earlier 70's band...(Montrose)...Ronnie had Sammy Hagar as his frontman. For Gamma...Ronnie grabbed the fantastic...Davey Pattison...a vocalist more easily identified with another guitar great...Robin Trower.

With Pattison laying the vocals down and Ronnie bending strings...Gamma was a "don't give a damma" rock group.

"Gamma 2" (1980) is a solid rocker from front to back...and even with some added keyboard trickery that seemed to be the flavor during this period..."Gamma 2" holds up well and is easily better than many of the so-called hairbands of the era.

Track 4 is "Voyager" and is 5 1/2 minutes of classic rock burn. Very Trowerish in the funky blues sound with Ronnie sounding inspired. Great lyrics, as well. In fact, Ronnie sounds inspired throughout "Gamma 2".

"Meanstreak" and "Cat On A Leash" both recieved rotation on the radio...and for good reason. But "Voyager" would easily make most people's "lost-gems" list, as well.


"Gamma 2" is a great album to add to your..."Lost Classic" collection.

(Bonus points for the "Land Shark" album cover...that "Spinal Tap" would later borrow for their movie).

Casey

Gamma:-->"Voyager" (Gamma 2) (1980) (Must Own)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Book Buzz:-->"Conspiracies" by F. Paul Wilson (2000)

"Doors of light...surround the night
Chased away...by dawn's new day.
As far as the eye can see
Your love burns a hole into me."
Nutz

NO SPOILERS:
"Conspiracies" (2000) by F. Paul Wilson is the third Repairman Jack novel...And it's one dandy of a ride. (The 1st and 2nd novel can be found here and here.)

Repairman Jack, for those new to this blog, is an urban mercenary with a soft heart for the ill-treated underdog. He has went to the nth degrees in wiping out any record of his existence and has skilled himself in various ways of defense and offense.

He'll tackle any job, small or large, if it is a worthy request. And Repairman Jack is not adverse to mysteries bordering the edges of X-file goodness.

In "Conspiracies"... RJ is asked to track down a missing woman scheduled to speak at a conspiracy theorists convention. And, of course, in RJ's attempts at solving this mystery, he encounters various odd, if not paranoid individuals with some terrifically unbelievable theories. Nice.

As I've mentioned before, Stephen King is the president of the Repairman Jack Fan Club (sorta) which ain't too shabby.

Plus there have been rumours of big stars vying for the title role in an upcoming Repaiman Jack movie. I have a couple of ideas who I'd like to see nail the role.
Hopefully, the Hollywood moguls get it right.

Up to now...each book remains autonomous to the other...but OCD'd as I am...I strongly suggest starting with the first one ("The Tomb").

"Conspiracies" is a fast-paced adventure yarn with lots of various conspiracy theories dropped in that I found extremely entertaining.
A great way to break up your heavier reading load...with a terrific escapist romp.

The Repairman Jack series is a great way to go. Good stuff!

MoSkeet

"Nutz"...the self-titled debut...from another band from Liverpool is impressive and holds up big time. This record stills sounds fresh today and the songs should be burning up classic rock stations.

Nutz could rock and their vocals put some better known frontmen to shame. In fact, one can easily hear how they influenced a couple of later bands that became huge.

Sadly, only available as import...this debut should be out there. It remains a mystery as to why Nutz didn't foam. This band demands more attention. Good stuff!
Nutz:-->"As Far As The Eye Can See" (Nutz) (1974) (Must Own)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Introduction:-->Billy Joel and Some Lost Gems

"Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover's eyes.
And I can only stand apart and sympathize.
For we are always what our situations hand us.
It's either sadness or euphoria."
Billy Joel


I sorta dig Billy Joel...especially his earlier work...and am always dismayed when some of my favorite songs never reach the airwaves. Or seldom, anyway. And most greatest hits or best of collections usually get it wrong, too. But that 's another sore subject.

So with that in mind...here are my top twelve early Billy Joel songs that rarely, if ever, receive radio airplay...from 1971 to 1980. Check it out.

1) "Summer, Highland Falls" ---------------- Turnstiles (1976)
"They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only times I've ever known.
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own."

2) "Vienna" -------------------------------- The Stranger (1977)
"You've got your passion, you've got your pride...
but don't you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true.
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?"

3) "Captain Jack" ------------------------------Piano Man (1973)
"Captain Jack will get you high tonight
And take you to your special island.
Captain Jack will get you by tonight
Just a little push, and you'll be smilin'."

4) "I've Loved These Days" ----------------------Turnstiles (1976)

"We drown our doubts in dry champagne
and soothe our souls with fine cocaine.
I don't know why I even care.
We'll get so high...and get nowhere."

5) "Rosalinda's Eyes" ---------------------- 52nd Street (1978)
"Crazy Latin dancing solo down in Herald Square.
Oh Havana, I've been searching for you everywhere.
And though I'll never be there, I know what I would see there.
I can always find my Cuban skies...in Rosalinda's eyes."

6) "The Entertainer" ---------------Streetlife Serenade (1974)
"I am the entertainer...and I've had to pay my price.
The things I did not know at first...I learned by doin' twice."

7) "All for Leyna" -------------------------Glass Houses (1980)
"I'm failing in school. Losing my friends.
Making my family lose their minds.
I don't want to eat. I don't want to sleep.
I only want Leyna one more time."

8) "New York State Of Mind" ----------------------- Turnstiles (1976)
"Some folks like to get away,
Take a holiday from the neighborhood.
Hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood.
But I'm takin' a Greyhound on the Hudson River line.
I'm in a New York state of mind."

9) "You're My Home" ---------------------------Piano Man (1973)
"When you look into my eyes
and you see the crazy gypsy in my soul,
it always comes as a surprise
when I feel my withered roots begin to grow."

10) "Zanzibar" -----------------------------------52nd Street (1978)
"I've got the old man's car. I've got a jazz guitar.
I've got a tab at Zanzibar. Tonight that's where I'll be."

11) "Travelin' Prayer" ---------------------------Piano Man (1973)
"Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight.
And make sure that she's gonna be alright.
And things are gonna be alright with me."

12) "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" -----The Stranger (1977)
"Brenda and Eddie had had it already by the summer of '75.
From the high to the low to the end of the show
for the rest of their lives.
They couldn't go back to the greasers.
The best they could do was pick up the pieces.
We always knew they would both find a way to get by."


So...for those who might have missed some of these songs...seek them out.
Billy Joel
has never been the toast of critics...but there has always been an ..."on the streets"...kind of flavor about him that's hard to fake.

Sometime, I'll put together a list of Billy Joel gems from his later work.
Turn me on to a number.

Casey
Billy Joel:-->"Summer, Highland Falls" (Turnstiles) (1976)
(Grab It)

Monday, March 17, 2008

DVD Pick:-->"Westworld" (1973)

"They’re leaving you nothing and nowhere to go.
Just put you in the corner...like an old banjo.
The strings are breakin’ but you can’t say no.
You’re runnin’ with the devil...it’s touch and go."
Emerson, Lake & Powell



NO SPOILERS:
Sometimes the best way to enjoy a movie is just to suspend your belief for a couple of hours. Take the movie premise on face value and disengage your oft-times boring analytical mind. Dig the story being told and to hell with the plot holes.

Westworld (1973) is a small sci-fi movie that quite simply entertains from beginning to end.

Written and directed by best-selling sci-tech author, Michael Crichton, Westworld is about one of three very expensive fantasy camps...(Medievalworld and Romanworld are the others)...where every wonderful imagined scenario can be explored and relived.

Each location is filled with high tech robots that are life-like in every way...ready to help visitors live out their fantasies. Whether that be having a gunfight in the street or providing some tension relief upstairs at the local brothel.
It's fun and games, baby.

All robots are programmed and repaired by scientists who monitor everything 24/7. Their office looks like an antiquated cross between a computer department and a hospital.

There is absolutely no risk of harm to the guests. Nothing can go wrong.

But , of course, many things do go wrong. And...no spoiler...but we all know what's coming. We're only anxious about when and where a major malfunction will take place. That, my friends, is what makes this movie a blast to watch.
Richard Benjamin & James Brolin at Westworld.
Richard Benjamin and James Brolin are two businessmen intent on leaving their problems behind for a little while. Brolin's character is a 2nd rate Burt Reynolds, However, Benjamin absolutely nails his part as the timid and uptight so-and-so...like nobody's business.

Watching Benjamin's character grow from a "Dougie-Downer" to a "Larry-Like-It" is a trip to watch.
Yul Brynner at Westworld.
Yul Brynner is unforgettable in this film as the menacing killing machine and would later become the inspiration for the Michael Myers character in Halloween. Brynner steals every scene and simply commands your attention.

Chricton's Westworld
idea would 20 years later bloom into a blockbuster film..."Jurassic Park" with virtually the same concept.

Forget about the plot holes...and I'll leave those for you to discuss amongst yourselves. Westworld is very simply a classic sci-fi film.
Good stuff!

Casey

AND ANOTHER THING:
The album..."Emersen, Lake and Powell"...by the prog-rock boys with the same name...is really good. And was too quickly panned and forgotten. Emersen, Lake and Powell...(original drummer, Carl Palmer, was hanging with band Asia so legendary drummer...Cozy Powell was asked to fill) released a gem that simply went unnoticed.

It also marks the first time Keith Emersen and Greg Lake worked together since ELP's break-up in 1978. This CD is filled with an energy not seen since early ELP.

Perhaps one reason this album tanked was that many fans had long since given up on the band.
Let me state quickly, this CD is NEVER boring...whether with a delicious jazzy beat ("Step Aside") or the attention-grabbing...("The Score") opening the disc.

The jamming ("The Miracle") is ELP at their finest and will have you reaching for the repeat button. And Emersen appears to have energised himself...'cause he sounds like he would probably make Mozart smile and nod his head. He's that good.

Those interested in diving into some prog-rock could do much worse than adding this to their musical crayon box.
Good stuff!
Emerson, Lake & Powell:-->"Touch And Go" (Emerson, Lake & Powell) (1986)
(Must Own)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Track 4:-->"Music Man" - Doobie Brothers - Stampede (1975)

"Eyes open wide...
doin' the midnight creep.
Well, it’s just a holiday
for a circus dream...
'cause I’m a music man, baby...
hangin' from a wire with no net below."
Doobie Brothers


Music by the Doobie Brothers will go down as some of the best Americana Rock of all time. Oozing with good vibes and made for rolled down windows and long highway summer drives.

Obviously, underrated...and perhaps that is because the band, for the most part, were faceless. Ya kinda know what they look like...but...no one really stands out.

It is the first five CDs by the Doobs I enjoy the most. (the pre-McDonald era, if you will) And "Stampede" (1975) was their last one before evolving into another great sounding band of the same name.

The CD "Stampede" is often forgotten...though, from beginning to end, is as solid a record as their obvious must-own... "The Captain And Me" (1973). And I like "Stampede" better.

No big hits generated from this disc, however, "Stampede" is filled with good stuff. "Sweet Maxine" and "Take Me in Your Arms" are terrific. "Neal's Fandango" is a great...play on the highway.

The Doobs..."I Cheated The Hangman" over beautiful canyon shots.

And, of course, the FM classic..."I Cheat The Hangman" is one of my all-time favorite songs...with its haunting strings and verse...and with an instrumental break that most bands would kill.

Track 4..."Music Man"...is another lost gem. Arranged by "Chef-Of-Coolness" Curtis Mayfield, this number is another great driving song. "Music Man" burns with a nice Southern rock feel. I especially like the way it finishes...with a 3-way guitar pile-up...each axe-mate looking to wear the yellow jacket. Very smile friendly!

Sadly, "Stampede" was band founder, Tom Johnston's last complete effort. But with a ballsy three guitar tour-de-force lineup, and a diamond rhythm section...along with peer approved studio guest musicians...nearly every song rings up three cherries.
Good stuff!

Casey

Doobie Brothers:-->"Music Man" (Stampede) (1975) (Must Own)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ramblings:-->SNL Season 2/Episode 8 -&- Sam Kinison

"I used to be a preacher, had a good life.
I had a wonderful family...
Always tried to do right.
When I saw her in church
I knew she didn't come to stay.
She looked at me and said, "I got a confession.
Don't tell anyone but I'm the backdoor to heaven."
Sam Kinison (courtesy of Leslie West)

Season 2/Episode 8 may have been the greatest SNL episode of all time. It certainly was the definitive episode that handed the ..."Torch of Total Coolness" to SNL. It was "Must-Watch" television at its best.

Observations:
  • Chevy Chase is gone from the cast...but makes a cameo.
  • Still, no Bill Murray...though he is mentioned as part of the cast.
  • Guest Host Paul Simon famously sings 1st verse of "Still Crazy After All These Years" in a turkey costume.
  • Paul Simon performs "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover".
  • Paul Simon shyly introduces George Harrison and perform "Here Comes The Sun" & "Homeward Bound". Each share a verse. George has Paul Simon totally pleased with his guitar ending of "Homeward Bound". Simon is obviously honored to share the stage.
  • Simon introduces a short film by Eric Idle...starring George Harrison. It is what we now call a music video. "Crackerbox Palace" by Harrison.
  • Paul Simon sings one of his underrated songs..."Something So Right".
  • Another music video. George Harrison singing "This Song". A comment on his questionable plagiarism lawsuit.
  • Finally, Paul Simon sings "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" solo.
  • The SNL comedy sketches intermixed were top-notch. Commercials about..."Puppy-Uppers" and "Doggy-Downers". And "Quarry Cereal".
  • "Update" is Jane Curtain's puppy...and this was the best one so far.
  • Dan Ackroyd nails talk show host Tom Snyder in a sketch with Paul Simon.
  • A great parody of movie..."Billy Jack"...with Paul Simon dead-on as the main character.
  • Among stars in the audience...Art Garfunkel and teenage Jodi Foster.

Simon & Harrison. A classic. Wait for the end and watch Simon's face
watching Harrison finish his song with a tasty guitar lick. Priceless.


From this show forward...SNL had musical guests lining up wanting to perform.
Episode 8/season 2 perfectly defined the show.

AND ANOTHER THING:
Flipping through some of my CDs, I came across Sam Kinison and was reminded of how excited I would get when finding out he was going to be on the tube. He was always so...in your face and spontaneous with the directions he would take on stage.

Sam Kinison was voted #20 in Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time...but he was a flaming candle that burned out way too soon.

What I also enjoyed was when Sammy K would let his Rock-n-Roll demons out and slay one well known rocker after another with his over-the-top tonsils. These were vocals meant to ride over heavy drums and lightening guitars and thumping bass.

He'd take on AC/DC or Cheap Trick...or maybe an old '60s rocker...it didn't matter. Sammy's energy raised whatever song he was doing to a whole other level.
Below is Sam Kinison performing "Wild Thing".

Sammy K and a few rockers work out..."Wild Thing".
That's Jessica Hahn in the ring.

On "Leader Of The Banned"...Kinison wails on four rockers flailing on his Stratocaster...while also including some of his biting comedy.

Sam
rounded up Leslie West (Mountain) and C.C. DeVille (Poison) to help him nail a perfect
parody of the Mountain classic..."Mississippi Queen"...poking fun at televangelist Jim Bakker and Jessica Hahn.
Sam Kinison,
RIP.
Good Stuff!


Casey
Sam Kinison:-->"Mississippi Queen" (Leader Of The Banned) (1990) (Own It)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ramblings:-->Buckingham Nicks...I Hope They Make It!

"And if you go forward...
I'll meet you there.
And if you climb up through the cold, freezing air...Look down below you,
search out above.
..
And cry out to life for a frozen love."
~ Buckingham Nicks ~



When Buckingham Nicks released their self-titled alb in 1973, it sold miserably. A failure by all accounts.

Little did we know that Lyndsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks would become household names. Respected by fans and peers alike.

Once the duo joined Fleetwood Mac, their panned LP became something of a cult legend. A record that, at the least, was worthy of a double-take. Turns out...it wasn't bad at all. In fact, this little footnote of a record, easily deserved better than what the fickled fates allowed.

My folks own this record. And from the looks of it...it appears to have been played a lot. And for good reason. There are some tasty nibbles on this disc.

Over at the Buckingham Nicks website...you can freely download the entire album. And that is pretty darn cool of those two RnR legends.
The song "Crystal" was always a favorite of mine. Here is the song performed live.

A rare Buckingham Nicks performing "Crystal" live...
before hooking up with the 'Mac.
A nice montage of vintage photos, too.

Very Sweet.

Legend has it that the duo were performing "Frozen Love" when Fleetwood Mac decided to ask them to join up. The rest is pure RnR history.

Look around and you'll discover some other goodies to fill your 'pod.
Good stuff!
Buckingham Nicks:-->"Frozen Love" (Buckingham Nicks) (1973) (Must Own)