Sunday, May 29, 2011
The early 70s brought softer sounds to the airwaves. Crosby, Stills & Nash, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and a host of other singers armed with acoustic guitars provided a mellow landing pad for many listeners. When CSNY imploded in a tangle of ego, substance abuse and solo efforts, America took up their sonic blueprint. Moving forward with great melodies, three part harmonies from heaven and a memorable first single ("Horse With No Name") Bunnell, Beckley and Peek arrived at number one right out of the gate.
Still in the afterglow of their successful debut, they set to work to prove that they were not one-hit, Neil Young clones. Riding that momentum, their sophomore disc was issued in late 1972 delivering ten pop confections that expanded upon the sound of this often underrated trio.
Homecoming opens with one of their best ever offerings. That silky, harmonized acoustic riff announcing "Ventura Highway" is signature and high marks are awarded for the arrangement. The tight vocal blend caps a very impressive tune, courtesy of Dewey Bunnell.
Taken as a whole, this disc is a chocolate sundae with all of the trimmings. All ten songs have something special that pull the listener in. The ones that really stand out for me are "Cornwall Blank" and "California Revisited", which both feature extended instrumental passages in their outros and serve to illustrate that Bunnell and Peek took their compositions in oblique, yet engaging, directions.
Beckley, on the other hand, seems content with being the Paul McCartney of the group, bringing great pop sensibility to his offerings of which the highlights are "To Each His Own" and "Only In Your Heart". Melodic, piano driven and pretty easy on the ears, these songs would garner a fair amount of airplay.
Augmenting the trio were a number of studio pros, most notably Hal Blaine on drums who was part of the famed "Wrecking Crew". They played on many of the sessions that produced countless hits in the 1960's. Impeccable playing on everyone's part brings additional strength to the record, which also boasts high production values.
Objections remain in the fact that, with some exceptions, their lyrics were not always that strong (case in point being "Til the Sun Comes Up Again"). America also took some stick for sounding like CSN (and sometimes Y) junior. That aside, the group counters such criticism on Homecoming by delivering a consistently satisfying set of songs. It stands up well today on the basis of inventive musical motifs and peerless vocal harmonies. Music that conjures up images of a sunny afternoon, cooler full of beer and no commitments, it is quite possibly the best album that they ever made.
Monday, May 23, 2011
The new CD 'Survival & Other Stories' by legendary vocalist/writer Jon Anderson features eleven songs that chronicle love, life, understanding, healing and survival.
One of the most recognizable voices in music, Anderson, best known for his work with Yes, Vangelis, Kitaro and other notable music artists, is preparing to release one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year, 'Survival & Other Stories'. Jon's new CD has an inspirational message for all who will listen.
“About four years ago I just put in an ad on my website: 'Musicians Wanted'... This is the result. Writing the songs for 'Survival & Other Stories' was uplifting for me on many levels. I was working with musicians from around the world via the internet. It's a new world and music is a healing energy. I had a tough 2008, due to illness and the music that I've been writing since is a celebration of life on many levels...I hope you get the chance to hear the album..Big Love..Jon."
Survival & Other Stories' is the first of three planned releases from the artist over the next two years.
Jon recently completed a successful east coast tour of the US, “An Acoustic Evening With Jon Anderson”, showcasing an exciting mixture of material from his solo career, collaborations with Vangelis and classic Yes songs, along with compositions from his new CD 'Survival & Other Stories'. Jon will be performing select shows throughout this summer in the US and Canada. For tour dates visit here
Jon Anderson 'Survival & Other Stories' available soon through Voiceprint Records.
Friday, May 13, 2011
LOST RORY GALLAGHER STUDIO ALBUM FROM 1978 TO FINALLY BE RELEASED!
Notes From San Francisco, To Land May 17 Via Eagle Rock Entertainment
~Lavish Package Includes Never-Before-Released 1979 Concert!~
The story goes that Jimi Hendrix was once asked what it was like to be the greatest guitarist in the world, to which he replied, “I don’t know, go ask Rory Gallagher!”
Rory Gallagher (1948-1995) is simply one of the all-time guitar greats. Slash, The Edge, Brian May, Johnny Marr, Janick Gers, Ritchie Blackmore, Glenn Tipton and Vivian Campbell have all said it. Since practically inventing the Power Trio format in Taste (both Cream and Taste debuted in 1966), Gallagher’s music has stood the test of time and he’s as popular now as he ever was, his influence gargantuan.
The story of Rory’s lost San Francisco album actually starts in Japan. In November 1977, after a grueling six-month world tour, the band flew straight from their last show in Japan to San Francisco to begin working on a new album with famed American producer Elliot Mazer (who worked on Neil Young’s Harvest, Big Brother & The Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills and The Band’s The Last Waltz). Mazer recalls the sessions grew “tense,” as Gallagher thought the mixing process “too complicated.” By the end of January 1978, he had shelved the whole record and broke up his band of the past five years.
Fast forward to 2011 when Rory’s brother/manager Donal allowed his son Daniel to recover the album from the Gallagher archive and begin the process of mixing it with his engineer. Rory said in 1992 he hoped the album would surface one day but only if it were remixed. Bingo. Hearing this historic never-before-issued studio album from a key period of Gallagher’s career (the album that would have been released between Calling Card and Photo Finish) is the Holy Grail for Rory’s fans.
CD #2 is another fabulous discovery: a blistering live album taken from four December nights in 1979 at San Francisco’s The Old Waldorf. In the audience Van Morrison, on stage Rory Gallagher (guitar/vocals), Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Ted McKenna (drums). Daniel Gallagher chose to add the live side to highlight why Rory chose to shelve the studio album and reduce his band back down to a three-piece. Rory, after seeing The Sex Pistols at Winterland during final mixes for his own album, was struck by the stark drama and blunt primitivism of pure punk. “It was as close to Eddie Cochran as you’re going to get,'' he enthused. He had been saying that he wanted to get back to what he called “meat’n’potato rock’n’roll,” a stripped-back primal raw immediacy hearkening back to his Taste days.
A street has been named after him in Paris; a corner in Dublin; a statue in his Ballyshannon birthplace, where The International Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival is held. There’s a Rory Gallagher Place and Rory Gallagher Music Library in Cork. Annual tributes are held in Germany and Japan. The man has sold in excess of 20 million albums. Notes From San Francisco [MSRP $17.98] will be a worthy addition to his canon.
Stay tuned for a full review of this upcoming release.
1. Rue The Day
3. B Girl
4. Mississippi Sheiks
5. Wheels Within Wheels
6. Overnight Bag
7. Cruise On Out
8. Brute Force & Ignorance
9. Fuel To The Fire
10. Wheels Within Wheels (Alt version)
11. Cut A Dash
12. Out On The Tiles
1. Follow Me
3. Off The Handle
4. Bought And Sold
5. I’m Leavin’
6. Tattoo’d Lady
7. Do You Read Me
8. Country Mile
9. Calling Card
10. Shadow Play
11. Bullfrog Blues
12. Sea Cruise
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Research Turtles are cause for rejoicing. This gladdening of the heart will begin as the intro to "Bugs In a Jar" makes its way through your Eustachian tube, striking the sweet spot in the higher level center of your brain. The opening instrumental hook, stylistically reminiscent of early Cars, runs quickly into an effective verse, culminating in a devastating chorus.
The best part? You may download this brilliant taster single for free right here
Recorded in a fitful week, the material is top shelf, melodic rock. In fact, these industrious lads nailed down all five tunes in five days.
Funf is English five
Spontaneity, energy, great musicianship and an ear for engaging songwriting will help put these guys at the top of everyone's playlist. One of the great pleasures in my life, aided and abetted by this blog, is finding up and coming bands that exceed expectations in every way possible. Research Turtles will reaffirm your belief in the power of tightly played rock and roll, delivered with a contemporary feel.
"You Are So" and "Mankiller", to borrow a phrase from the late Wesley Willis, both whip a penguin's ass. The EP, which is their second release, is available for public consumption on May 31st. Check out their website for details on purchasing their discs.
Caught in the act
Part two of Mankiller is coming out in September of this year.