Sunday, August 18, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Headless And Other Improbable Excitations Of The Muse" (2019)

"Headless And Other Improbable Excitations Of The Muse" (2019)
Michael Jan Friedman
236 pages

I like reading short stories from time to time and try to get my hands on at least one book every year.
“Headless...” is a collection of eight elliptic short stories that travel around the genres of fantasy and sci-fi, each with its own unique and mysterious destination.  Each tale throws a surprise louie at the reader.  Sometimes in your face, other times striking with a more subtle jab.  But all have a bit of the twist that makes for page-turning pleasure.

Honestly, good short stories are a notorious dice roll.  They're just not easy to pull off.  But Michael Jan Friedman has delivered a pretty satisfying read.  Not every story within these pages is Starbucks, but there is certainly more gold here to be found than copper.  Friedman plays fair in the telling and never gives anything away cheaply.

Michael Jan Friedman

My favorite stories were ”The Spirit Of Lost Women."  “Geocatchers.“  And “Cold Case.”   I hesitate to expound on why these particular stories hit the sweet spot for fear of spoiling the ride. (These are short stories after all.)  But suffice it to say that the Twilight Zone-ish endings are well met.   Whether accidental or with intent, each story gets progressively stronger and the flow of each one works well.  Again, “Headless...” is an enjoyable read.  “You got Bradbury in my O. Henry!”  “You got O. Henry in my Bradbury!”  Mostly, Friedman left me nodding my head in appreciation as I paused to consider what the hell I just read.

Michael Jan Friedman Official Website

"Head Games" - Foreigner / "Head Games" (1979)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, August 15, 2019

I Went...SI--SI--SIRIUS...All The Way Home (again)

(a short jaunt)

"To Susan on the West Coast Waiting" - Donovan / “Barabajagal” (1969)

My fascination with the Vietnam War, both movies and books, was always fueled, in no small part, by the large output of music inspired by this terrible conflict.  In this gentle song, Donovan sings a letter written from...' Andy in Vietnam fighting' his favorite boo.  Separated because of the mandatory draft.  Not Donovan's best, but it's Donovan.  The album is recommended.

"Black Queen" - Stephen Stills / “Stephen Stills” (1970)

“This is a song about a card game.”  So Stephen Stills drunkenly declares before riffing off some dirty acoustic blues and baring his drunken soul.  This recording has become one of those infamous RnR stories passed down.   In this case, Stills had quickly finished off a bottle of some 'good ol' whatever it was' ...among other things, and picked up his hardware and began tripping off some pretty tasty, but out of his head, blues...all while unaware the studio tapes were running.  There were some pretty famous musicians hanging out so most of this legend is probably true.  Anyway, I like me some Stills from time to time.  Though his later musical output can be a bit of a briar patch to wade through.  This song and album, however, makes for safe travel.

"Carouselambra" - Led Zeppelin / "In Through The Out Door" (1979)

This is going to sound really, really strange, but I would much rather be surprised hearing this song blast outta my radio like it did the other day...than to have to watch the needle drop onto this opening track of "ITTOD" side two. Whaddyagonnado?


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, August 12, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Jonathon Round" (1971)

"Jonathon Round" - Jonathon Round (1971)

If you threw Jack Black and Meatloaf into one of those experimental pods that Jeff Goldblum climbed into in "The Fly" might find Jonathon Round on the other side.  His vocals hit the speakers with that same kind of over-the-top commitment.   His self-titled (and only) album is a mixture of hard folk and blues-rock with a bit of psych seasoning scattered about.  The insane soliloquy and spooky arrangement of the Stones, "Sympathy For The Devil" is just killer and one that a few cooler radio stations still play.  After a few moments into the song, you quickly realize that this shit's for real.  The devil ain't looking for no sympathy here.  He's demanding props and praise.  It's a great cover that doesn't imitate.  And the song also has a really cool fadeout.

"In Quest of the Unicorn" is the opening track that introduces us to Jonathon Round and it doesn't fail to impress.  The gentler "Tolu" is a floaty acoustic gem.  Good vocals and good musicianship.  Not every track is amazing, but there's some really good stuff here.  It's not an expensive square, but hard to find in the wild.  The album has a gimmix round gatefold cover and was released on the Westbound Records label.  Bands like Funkadelic and Ohio Players parked their horses there.  Jonathon Round used a different kind of transportation.

"Jonathon Round" (back)

"Jonathon Round" (inside)

Westbound Records (promo)

"Sympathy For The Devil" - Jonathon Round  / "Jonathon Round" (1971)

A1  "In Quest of the Unicorn" 4:50
A2  "Don't It Make You Wanna' Go Home" 3:01
A3  "Tolu" 5:06
A4  "Sympathy For The Devil" 5:55
B1  "To Love Somebody" 2:55
B2  "Travelin' Mama Blues" 4:06
B3  "Young Sadie (Dancing Lady)" 4:40
B4  "Train-A-Comin'" 2:30
B5  "And I Will Not Be Moved" 5:30

Jonathan Round - vocals, guitar
Dennis Coffey - guitar
Bob Babbitt - bass
Mike Theodore - keyboards, guitar
John Griffith - keyboards
Sam Fozzini - drums
Jack Ashford - percussion
Bob Coward - oboe, flute
Fred Boldt - saxophone
Carl Raetz - trombone
Thaddeus Markiewicz - strings
Jack Boesen - strings
Edgar Clanton - b-vocals
LaVerna Mason - b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, August 8, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Love It To Death" (1971)

"Love It To Death" - Alice Cooper (1971)

I'm not going to regurgitate more hyperboles about “Love It To Death” and the Alice Cooper band.  Both were a welcome branch for the direction of rock music.  But I do want to speak about the infamous "Love It To Death” album cover.  When the album was first released in early 1971, the cover had an outrageous group photo of the band with frontman Alice extending his thumb through a buttonhole or opening of his coat giving the appearance that he was exposing his uncle jack.  It was just some juvenile shenanigans, but it soon became known as..." the thumb album."

The Thumb Album Cover

But it wasn't on the shelves too long, because record peep uppity-ups decided to pull “the thumb album” and release it with a new censored cover.  In December, Warner Bros. released it again with the same photo but only showing the band members from the waist up with the addition of two thick white strips appearing above and below the picture.  But the strips almost feel like Plan B after the photo was lowered a third of the way down and still didn't cover up "the thumb.”  You can almost feel the pressure of the Xmas holiday shopping season on their shoulders.  Plus, for some strange reason, they decided to censor the back of the album cover, too.  Thus, “the white album” was born.  At the beginning of the new year, WB issued yet another censored cover.  This time simply airbrushing the thumb away.  This is the album most commonly seen today.

Which brings me to the point.  For vinyl collectors, the short window of time that the censored "white album" was made available...makes it as hard, if not harder, to find than the original "LITD" album.  I seldom come across this one anymore.  Probably because those who do find it...are hanging on to it.  It's not an expensive purchase, but the prices are starting to rise.  Anyway, besides "Love It To Death" being an essential album...(#452 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time)'s also a fun one to pick up to bookend your other copies.   Here is a recent interview I had with bassist Dennis Dunaway earlier this year.

"Love It To Death" (back)

"Love It To Death" (inside)

Warner Bros. Records / Straight label

"Second Coming" - Alice Cooper / "Love It To Death" (1971)

A1  "Caught in a Dream" 3:10
A2  "I'm Eighteen" 3:00
A3  "Long Way to Go" 3:04
A4  "Black Juju" 9:11
B1  "Is It My Body" 2:39
B2  "Hallowed Be My Name" 2:29
B3  "Second Coming" 3:04
B4  "Ballad of Dwight Fry" 6:33
B5  "Sun Arise" 3:50

Alice Cooper – vocals, harmonica
Glen Buxton – lead guitar
Michael Bruce – rhythm guitar, keyboards, b-vocals
Dennis Dunaway – bass, b-vocals
Neal Smith – drums, b-vocals
Bob Ezrin – keyboards, producer

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Antithesis" (1972)

"Antithesis" - Gypsy (1972)

This is a more rock-driven and less prog-spinnin' Gypsy album.  The songs here are much shorter and a bit funkier.  The gorgeous harmonies are still killer.  The musicianship is still tight as ever.  But methinks their search for a radio hit was weighing on this album.  It didn't come.  This was Gypsy's third album and while there's some really good stuff here, what's missing are the extended prog trips and clever jams that made their self-titled double album debut (1970) and their follow-up, "In The Garden" (1971) gather a bit of a cult following.  Go search those albums out first.  But if you're already familiar with the distinctive sounds of'll probably cozy up to this one just fine.

"Antithesis" (back)

"Antithesis" (inside)

RCA Victor (orange dynaflex)

"Facing Time" - Gypsy / "Antithesis" (1972)

A1  "Crusader" 3:10
A2  "Day After Day" 3:15
A3  "The Creeper" 3:10
A4  "Facing Time" 4:11
A5  "Lean on Me" 3:15
A6  "Young Gypsy" 3:06
B1  "Don't Bother Me" 3:15
B2  "Travelin' Minnesota Blues" 2:33
B3  "So Many Promises" 3:25
B4  "Antithesis (Keep Your Faith)" 3:22
B5  "Edgar (Don't Hoover Over Me)" 3:26
B6  "Money" 4:53

James Walsh - keyboards, vocals
Enrico Rosenbaum - guitar, vocals
James Johnson - guitar, vocals
Bill Lordan - drums
Randy Cates - bass, vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, August 5, 2019

I Went...SI--SI--SIRIUS...All The Way Home (again)

(a short jaunt)

"Another Road" - Loggins & Messina / Capitol Theatre (7/9/1976)

I've always been in the Jim Messina camp when it came to this duo.  I can certainly understand Kenny Loggins' appeal, though.  He had the sensitive voice.  He was the throb.  But Jim Messina's guiding hand pushing him to the front of the stage can not be overstated.  The live version from "On Stage" (1974) is a beautiful little gem...but I like the live version (above) captured at the Capitol Theatre a little better.  Written by Loggins, but it's the gentle arrangement and backing vocals of Messina that keep the song from flying off.  Together they take a small song and give it real substance.  When the two were on the same page, they made quite the team.  Jim Messina interview.

"Midnight Man" - James Gang / “Thirds” (1971)

Was this the last “great song” Joe Walsh did with the James Gang?  It's definitely a favorite.  The song just makes my heart ache, but I can't put my finger on just why.  A chance lost, perhaps.  And that guitar sound.  Just killer.  A real midtempo beauty.  "Thirds" was the last James Gang album fronted by Joe Walsh.  And he probably knew it.

"Home and Away" - Humble Pie / "Town and Country" (1969)

Hell yeah!  That's Peter Frampton vocals out in front with Steve Marriot riding shotgun this time, and definitely getting his licks in, as well.  A fantastic acoustic jambox with some tasty organ thrown in by Marriot.   There's a kickass jam midway and even a fake ending fade out, too.  It all sounds rather...epic.   This was from Humble Pie's 2nd album that was only released in the UK.   I had never seen the album or heard this song before, but you can definitely hear the precursor of the solo Frampton yet to come.


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Saturday, August 3, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Gulliver" (1970)

"Gulliver" - Gulliver (1970)

All I needed to know about this album was that Gulliver was on the Elektra label (making it a pretty safe blind purchase) and was also notable for having Daryl Hall in the band.  The music is mostly clever McCartneyesque pop-rockers.  There is even a little bit of fuzzed-up guitar that satisfies that other itch.  Nothing hard, but sounds good.  Even when the tempo slows down, like on the wonderful "Enough"/"Over the Mountain" still sounds FM worthy.  There are a couple of weaker tracks on here, but nothing that reaches the skippable level that would make you leave your chair.

Tim Moore wrote most of the songs and splits vocals with Hall.  Moore went on to have a successful career as a songwriter for many musical artists.  AMG only gave this album two stars, but I think it rates higher than that.  I really enjoyed it.  The album cover, however, is definitely a two-star.  Whoever thought a group shot of the band with the sun at their backs would be a good idea must have been smoking something.  For the record, Daryl Hall is the second shadowy figure on the left.  The back cover has Hall wearing a groovy Batman t-shirt which is pretty cool.  Look, I would never pay big money for this album, but if you can find a good copy near the $12 mark, grab it.

 "Gulliver" (back)

 Elektra Butterfly label

Original Elektra sleeve

"Enough"/"Over the Mountain" - Gulliver / "Gulliver" (1970)

A1  "Every Day's a Lovely Day" 2:45
A2  "I'm Really Smokin'" 2:25
A3  "Christine" 1:45
A4  "Rose Come Home" 3:35
A5  "Enough" / "Over the Mountain"
         a. "Enough" 1:58
         b. "Over the Mountain" 2:32
B1  "Angelina" 3:10
B2  "Flogene" 2:20
B3  "Lemon Road" 3:05
B4  "Seventy" 3:10
B5  "A Truly Good Song" 4:25

Daryl Hall - vocals, keyboard
Tim Moore - vocals, guitars
Tom Sellers - keyboards, bass
Jim Helmer - drums

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, August 1, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "The Big Sleep" - Raymond Chandler (1939)

"The Big Sleep"...Raymond Chandler (1939)
231 pages

"The Big Sleep" is a noir mystery that introduces us for the first time to Philip Marlowe...a tough, cynical detective hired by a dying millionaire to check up on one of his two beautiful 20-year old daughters.  And there are shenanigans afoot.  Taking place in Hollywood, CA circa the late 1930s, our detective narrates us through this wonderful fustercluck that involves double-crosses and blackmail.  Triple-crosses and murder.  Plus a host of not-so-nice characters that all have a bit of stink on their fingers.  Adding to the fun, Raymond Chandler has Marlowe tossing off one classic observation after another.  Gems like...

She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theatre curtain."
"The sunshine was as empty as a head waiter's smile." 

Even with all these delicious Marlowe observations and burns, "The Big Sleep" doesn't loiter. The pace is steady and all the cool noirish vibes made me feel a bit like a time-traveler.  I mean, I was right there.  "The Big Sleep" ain't no catnap, yo.
FWIW...In 1946, Humphrey Bogart brought Philip Marlowe to the big screen.

"Big Eyes" - Cheap Trick / "In Color" (1977)

Good stuff.