The Brothers Brown – “Dusty Road”


81RmnXV-hVL._SL1425_The first thing you have to figure out about  the Brothers Brown is that there are two  of them named Paul Brown, one from Los Angeles and one from Nashville.  Once you know you aren’t reading the lineup wrong you can relax and enjoy this bluesy bands’ debut album, Dusty Road.  (The other members of the band are  bassist David Santos, and drummer Pete Young.)

And enjoy it you will. These guys really capture that Southern summertime blues flavor, with more than a touch of country in the mix. Songs like “Cup of Tea” will take many listeners back to the days of Marshall Tucker and other Southern rock bands.  There is nothing  added here besides good, strong vocals, skillful guitar, organ and drums, and lots of heart. The song “Hurricane” even has Little Feat guitarist Paul Bare adding some very tasty slide to its get-your-feet-moving  sound.

Other standouts include “This Old Heart,” “The River,” and “Drink You Off Of My Mind,” with a vocal delivery that reminds me strongly of Randy Newman.

This one is perfect for a cup of coffee on the porch, or hanging out with friends at the park, or listening to on a long, rambling road trip, or any time, really. It’s like a summer festival in a dsc  Get ready to kick off your shoes, either for real or in your imagination, and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Grateful Dead “Dave’s Picks Vol. 17” Fresno, CA 7/19/1974 <3CD’s>

DP17_digi_cover_11-17Grateful Dead “Dave’s Picks Vol. 17” Fresno, CA 7/19/1974 <3CD’s> www.Dead.netwww.Rhino.com

This seventeenth chapter of Dave’s Picks is resurrected from the Selland Arena in Fresno, CA recorded on July 19th, 1974.  The performance occurred at a time when the Dead nearly bankrupted themselves hauling around their massive Wall of Sounds System which was one of the most impressive sound systems I’ve ever heard. Additionally the band had just released their latest album “From the Mars Hotel” weeks prior to this concert and were out test-driving new material you’ll hear here like “Scarlet Begonias,” “China Doll,” and “U.S. Blues.” It’s also important to note that the band disbanded approximately three months after this Fresno gig, and no one  was certain if they were going to regroup again.

Disc one:  Strolls out the typical first set (now beaten to death) regulars like “Bertha,” “Mexicali Blues,” “Deal,” “Beat It Down the Line,” “Row Jimmy,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “El Paso,” and “Tennessee Jed,” none of these renditions will leave lasting impressions. But the newly minted “Scarlet Begonias” is impressive even though it’s not paired with its album partner “Fire on the Mountain.”  Soon hereafter this segue long became a fundamental segment of future Dead sets that were often propulsive and enormously popular. This early/live version of “Scarlet Begonias” is pretty impressive as are the fascinating rhythms conjured up by drummer Bill Kreutzmann and the persuasive gyrations from the entire band.

Disc two: Still in the first set; opens with cavernously lengthy “Playing in the Band” that’s nearly thirty minutes long but it fails to generate any noteworthy fireworks or intuitive jamming. As the band takes their break bassist Phil Lesh and keyboardist Ned Lagin showcase their centerpiece (I cannot call this a tune) “Seastones” from their lone album of the same name – it’s nothing more than fifteen minutes of rumbling electronic tinkering that even the most devoted Dead-heads would find challenging to enjoy. Now that the “Seastones” experiment is over the band opens their second set with tunes that are also mostly relegated to their first sets:  “Brown Eyed Women,” “Me and My Uncle,” “It Must Have Been the Roses,” and “Jack Straw” close out disc two that I will kindly call; filler material/music that leaves plenty of time for a bio or joint break.

Disc three:  Opens with a lazy-hazy “He’s Gone” (14:55) goes on for too long  segueing to “U.S. Blues” a tune they had been tinkering with for some years prior as “Wave that Flag” is reminiscent to the swinging “Truckin’.” But this “U.S. Blues” doesn’t truck-on for long (even though it’s swinging,) ending quickly at just short of six minutes.  Seemingly needing to pull a rabbit out of their hats to save the show they deliver a full (18:48) “Weather Report Suite” with “Prelude,” “Part I,” and thankfully “Part II (Let It Grow,”) where there’s some creative enthusiasm. Out from “Let it Grow” the titled “Jam” offers more uplifting moments that sound like their later day “Spanish Jam” instrumental passages that could have also been titled “Garcia’s Bolero.”  This Latin-tinged segment leads to an expansive (16:32) “Eyes of the World” where Lesh stretches out with illuminating lead bass playing that sparks Garcia’s interests with his own creative flares firing off of Lesh’s mind provoking notes. Unfortunately they decide to land this solid “Eyes of the World” onto a too lengthy (6:33) and lame “China Doll,” crashes to the floor like broken porcelain. It’s time to go home with a ho-hum “One More Saturday Night.”

In summary:  While there’s some fine moments on this three CD set, you might wander elsewhere for a jolted dose of live magical Grateful Dead, or look forward to their next “Dave’s Picks Vol. 18” release. My last observation derives from my opening paragraph about the Dead breaking up three months after this concert:  As this recording demonstrates some of their previous fire had dwindled, it was either time for a touring break or for the musicians to move onto to diverse musical projects. While some band offshoots were already in progress, we now know that in ’76 the Grateful Dead regrouped and had a twenty year run.  But for my ears they never fully recaptured the telepathic interplay and flow they previously had from their lofty heydays of 1970, ‘71, ‘72, ‘73 and part of ‘74.

 

For 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal at WFDU with his Sounds of Blue radio show (Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm) www.SoundsofBlue.comhttp://wfdu.fm  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com & www.MakingAScene.org  Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:  BobP@SoundsofBlue.com

Grateful Dead “Dick’s Picks Volume Two”

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 2 Columbus, OH 10-31-71Grateful Dead “Dick’s Picks Volume Two” Columbus, OH 10/31/71 www.RealGoneMusic.com

Dick’s Picks Two (originally issued in 1995) is the lone single disc release from the magnificent “Dick’s Picks” series. All told: There were thirty-six “Dick’s Picks.” Nonetheless: This one packs a powerful wallop – flowing for nearly an hour of non-stop dynamic jamming.  Weir’s guitar and especially Godchaux’s piano are mostly lost in the audio mix, but the sound capture of Garcia’s guitar, Lesh’ bass and Kreutzmann’s drumming are meticulously vibrant and crystal clear, as is the vocal clarity.

This edition was the second release and Dick Latvala was just starting to excavate the least circulated traders-shows from the Grateful Dead’s extensive music vaults. For this sophomore edition Latvala cherry-picked the combo’s second of two sets from Halloween, 1971 from the Ohio Theater in Columbus, OH. The lineup consists of Jerry Garcia (lead guitar/vocals), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), Phil Lesh (bass/vocals), Bob Weir (guitar/vocals), and newcomer Keith Godchaux (keyboards) replacing the ailing Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (organ/harmonica/vocals,) but Godchaux does not sing. Note: This performance is only Godchaux’s tenth live concert with the band, probably explaining why his piano is suppressed in the mix.

The opening “Dark Star” (23:14) offers vibrant colored explorations mostly from Garcia creative guitar who is constantly pushing the envelope with expressive and thought provoking segments, Lesh nudges Garcia with his own unique and inspiring bass-playing and shines in a similar mindset with Garcia as does Kreutzmann’s jazzy and imaginative drumming. The “Jam” segment of “Dark Star” gently introduces occasional riffs of “Eyes of the World” which didn’t appear until ’73, interesting. Out from the “Jam” Weir signals for a compelling; “Sugar Magnolia,” then into a punchy but short “St. Stephen” that doesn’t flow into its typical “The Eleven,” instead it’s a thumping “Not Fade Away.” “Not Fade Away” segues to a lengthy (10:37) and their reliable companion “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad,” into the finale of “Not Fade Away” that brings the house down with high-energy rock and roll shimmer. It’s a great set that covers a multitude of stylistic changes that are molded together as one long uninterrupted set/jam.

The fall of 1971 was a time of change for the Grateful Dead; Godchaux’s piano had just begun to be integrated into the band’s sound. The indisposed Ron “Pigpen” McKernan played organ and more importantly handled at least a quarter of the band’s lead vocal songs, leaving Garcia and Weir having to carry the majority of the singing chores, filling the void of Pigpen’s vocals and songs he was featured on.

This performance was recorded by Rex Jackson who captured the vibe of the theater with above-par detailed sound with an excellent balance of the bands instrumentation that smartly meshes the crowd reaction and applause with the music. Recorded Live – October 31, 1971 at the Ohio Theater, Columbus, OH: Happy Halloween from nearly forty-five years ago.

The rear cover of the CD carries the following message:  Caveat Emptor: “This compact disc has been digitally remastered directly from the original quarter track 7.5 ips analog tape. It is a snapshot of history, not a modern professional recording, and may therefore exhibit some technical anomalies and the unavoidable effects of the ravages of time.”

For 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal at WFDU with his Sounds of Blue radio show (Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm) www.SoundsofBlue.comhttp://wfdu.fm  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com & www.MakingAScene.org  Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:  BobP@SoundsofBlue.com

 

 

Grateful Dead “Dick’s Picks Volume Four” Fillmore East 2/13-14/1970

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 4 - Fillmore East 2-13-14-70Grateful Dead “Dick’s Picks Volume Four” Fillmore East 2/13-14/1970 – 3 CD’s www.RealGoneMusic.com

February 13-14, 1970 is one of the Dead’s most memorable appearances at Bill Graham’s historic Fillmore East. This NYC Fillmore run was partially released on vinyl in ‘73 “History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1 (Bear’s Choice,)” named after (Bear) Aka: Owsley Stanley the band’s soundman, tape recordist and head chemist. Yet even though this recording is taken from the same Valentine’s Day eve performance; none of the songs from 1973’s “History of the Grateful Dead, Vol.1 (Bear’s Choice,)” appear on this “Dick’s picks Volume Four.” Moreover; there wasn’t a “History of the Dead, Vol. 2 (Bear’s Choice)” nonetheless one could title this Dick’s Picks Four as Owsley’s Bear’s Choice Vol. 2, or another psychedelic tab from Owsley.

Disc one: TV host and FM DJ “The Cool Ghoul” John Zackerle introduces the band to an enthusiastic crowd wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day, talks to the audience about how he was going to come down the aisle in a casket but it broke, then opines about “being bothered by the crabs I caught at Channel 47” a UHF television channel where Zach emceed a music show. He then goes on to say “this is glorious Sunday morning, the Grateful God-damn Dead” as they tear into “Casey Jones.” Soul time via a psychedelically tinged “Dancing In the Streets” that energizes a party atmosphere as Weir invites everyone to get up and dance around. The “China Cat Sunflower – I know You Rider” is an early version that’s not as grownup as later renditions but it also sparkles. Rounding out the CD is a nearly thirty minutes of “Dark Stat” bursts with abundant creativity and imagination.

Disc two: Starts with the basic intro of “That’s It for Other One” followed by an electrified dual drum segment that evolves into the a torrid romp that soars dramatically eventually landing softly on the chorus of “Well you know he had to die” before blasting-off again into the cosmos. Then it’s rhythm and blues time as Pigpen naughty soul vocal rips into a wild “Turn On Your Love Light.” What a night and it isnt remotely over yet. These two songs comprise disc two in its entirety and are nearly equal in length of thirty minutes each for a combined total of over an hour. Through it all the rabid lower Second Avenue NYC Fillmore audience is eating out of the Dead’s hands as the magic ensues. It’s also noteworthy to mention the captured warm glow and attentive vibe of the Fillmore East. An experience unlike any concert realization I’ve ever experienced on record and/or in person.

Disc three: Buckle up and prepare for liftoff. Pigpen opens with his bluesy “Alligator” then the drummers do their thing for nearly thirteen minutes, the band remerges with a crackling “Me and My Uncle” (which isn’t their typical later-day first-set rendition,) at the ending their high-octane charge emerges with an invigorated “Not Fade Away” ensuing for a few ticks shy of fourteen minutes – Garcia creates new instrumental passages from within this rock and roll classic. It’s nonstop time; out from “Not Fade Away” and instead of the usual “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad” pops the rarely utilized and easily my favorite rendition of “Mason’s Children” it’s short but potent setting up an amazing “Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks.)” It’s here that entire band leaves the atmosphere, accelerates at breakneck speeds when Pigpen takes the microphone with choruses of “All You Need.” You can barely hear a pin drop inside the Fillmore as I suspect the attentive audience is savoring the moment(s) especially during the now thunderous instrumental segments lead by Lesh’s walking basslines. The Dead are amazingly responsive at this point even when Weir joins Pigpen for additional choruses of “All You Need,” then back for another instrumental blastoff jam – whew!  Fourteen minutes onward “Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks) morphs into a Pink Floyd like “Feedback” sector that’s actually very tantalizing and inspiring, the audience is receptive and seemingly fascinated.  Nearly nine minutes later the Dead dust-off the gospel/traditional “We Bid You Goodnight,” (performed acapella) tastefully capping off the one hour plus nonstop jam with warmth, and mutual appreciation between audience and band.  It was a goodnight indeed!  And as this was their second set of the night – it’s nearly daybreak in NYC, and it also snowed during the late show. Imagine the musically charged deadhead freaks hurling snowballs and rolling around the streets on lower Second Avenue

What I always enjoyed about this recording is how the entire band sounded like they were being pumped through an experimental electronic tube especially the drummers. As an overall effort the Dead were operating on/at a very high plane, the atmosphere is unlike any other show I’ve heard – making this night uniquely special and forever memorable.

Recorded by Bear (Owsley Stanley) who also wrote the liner-notes reminiscing about this show and The Allman Brothers opening for the Dead and  what an inspiration the Allman’s were, going on to say how fantastic The Brothers were. Owsley closes his touching notes opining “listening to these tapes again after so many years (this three CD set was first released in 1996) was a real treat for me, remembering what a good time we all had in those early days of youth and hijinks.  Owsley additionally explains why the songs from “History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1 (Bear’s Choice,) were not included on this box-set; “the suits have their rules about copyrights and such, I would like to be able to present these shows the way they were, but I guess we must make do with what we have.”

Musicians: Jerry Garcia – lead guitar, vocals, Mickey Hart – drums, Bill Kreutzmann – drums, Phil Lesh – bass, vocals, Ron McKernan – organ, percussion, vocals, Bob Weir – guitar, vocals

The rear cover of the CD carries the following message. Caveat Emptor: This compact disc has been digitally remastered directly from the original half-track 7.5 ips analog tape. It is a snapshot of history, not a modern professional recording, and may therefore exhibit some technical anomalies and the unavoidable effects of the ravages of time.

For almost 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal at WFDU with his Sounds of Blue radio show (Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm) www.SoundsofBlue.comhttp://wfdu.fm  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com & www.MakingAScene.org  Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:  BobP@SoundsofBlue.com

 

 

Grateful Dead “Dick’s Picks Volume Five” Oakland Auditorium Arena 12/26/79

EPSON scanner image
EPSON scanner image

Grateful Dead “Dick’s Picks Volume Five” Oakland Auditorium Arena 12/26/79 – 3CD’s www.RealGoneMusic.com

This full concert is taken from the first of the Grateful Dead’s run-up to New Year’s Eve at the Oakland Auditorium Arena; it also includes a hot preview of “Alabama Getaway” that preceded its appearance on the “Go To Heaven” album by four months. As usual; the reason Dead tape archivist Dick Latvala selected this show is for its second set excursions – needing two entire discs for its capture. The second set bookends “Uncle John’s Band” (making its first appearance in a Dead concert in more than two years,) kicks-off the proceedings and closes them nearly two hours later. In between these two Uncles, there is also a good amount of inspired second-set jamming.

Disc One is the entire first set, opens with a clunky “Cold Rain and Snow” that offers interesting interplay. “C.C. Rider” swings in a bluesy tone, but first set offenders “Dire Wolf,” “Me and My Uncle,” now regularly paired with “Big River,” “Brown Eyed Women,” and “New Minglewood Blues” have long ago worn-out their welcomes.  Yet there’s a surprisingly sharp (but slow) rendition of Garcia’s “Friend of the Devil” heats up when Brent Mydland takes a heady electric piano solo that inspires Weir to lift the tempo with boisterous vocal support that lights up Garcia’s guitar solo.  Weir’s “Looks Like Rain” has its moments but is too long at (8:14.) The set closes with a rush with the aforementioned “Alabama Getaway” that roars from end to end and further erupts when they rip into Charles Berry’s “Promised Land.” Whew.

Disc Two starts the second set with a pretty solid and lengthy “Uncle John’s Band” that makes its way to “Estimated Prophet” where Mydland is given ample solo time to show his sharp pianistic wares, this version morphs into a really neat jam titled “Jam 1” with moog like sounds from Mydland seemingly excites Garcia and the entire band as they fly low-to-the-ground at soft volume but at very high speeds soaring through uncharted quadrants, speed racing and at times reminiscent of  “Caution Do Not Stop On Tracks” with Lesh’s reliable walking/throbbing bass-lines. Out from “Jam One” emanates a awkward and uneventful “He’s Gone” that ignites near its ending into a relatively short (9:38) “The Other One” that’s’ fiery, but is followed by the dreaded dual drumming (six minutes) that ends disc two.

Disc Three: Opens with the continuation of the drummers soloing for yet another four minutes followed by “Jam 2” that gets very spacey resembling the Jefferson Starships antics on their inaugural “Blows against the Empire.”  Yes we have liftoff Houston, as they enter into a single chorus of “I’m Gonna Tell You How It’s Gonna Be” with a clunky version of “Not Fade Away” that eventually grooves than crashes into Garcia’s “Brokedown Palace” that’s fortunately less than five minutes in length. You know it’s almost time to head home when Weir calls on Chuck Berry again for a rousing “Around and Around” that is arguably outdone when Garcia leads the band to (more Berry’s) “Johnny B. Goode,” ending the second set. But there’s more – encoring with “Shakedown Street” that’s pretty shaky taking its time (13:52) to find footing, that’s not at all like previous live performances that were righteously funky and at  times had a disco edge. But nearly fourteen minutes of this Shakedown there’s yet another shift back to the second set opener “Uncle John’s Band” (less than three minutes) ending the festivities of the evening.

This is fifth consecutive Dick’s Picks album from the 1970’s, but this was the first Dick’s Picks edition featuring keyboard player Brent Mydland offering the first peak into the (than) latest Grateful Dead evolution/next era. That next ‘80’s era had fine moments especially during the earlier portions of the decade, but unraveled as the ‘80’s trudged midway and on…

Musicians (alphabetically) Jerry Garcia – lead guitar, vocals, Mickey Hart – drums, Bill Kreutzmann – drums, Phil Lesh – bass, Brent Mydland – keyboards, vocals, Bob Weir – guitar, vocals

The rear cover of Dick’s Picks 5 carries the following message. Caveat Emptor: “This compact disc has been digitally remastered directly from the original half-track stereo analog tape. It is a snapshot of history, not a modern professional recording, and may therefore exhibit some technical anomalies and the unavoidable effects of the ravages of time.”

For almost 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal at WFDU with his Sounds of Blue radio show (Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm) www.SoundsofBlue.comhttp://wfdu.fm  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com & www.MakingAScene.org  Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:  BobP@SoundsofBlue.com

 

 

 

Van Morrison: “Another Glorious Decade: Under Review 1977 – 1987”

VAN MORRISON ANOTHER GLORIOUS DECADE SIDVD583 slip.inddVan Morrison: “Another Glorious Decade: Under Review 1977 – 1987” DVD www.ChromeDreams.co.ukwww.MVDb2b.com

This is the follow-up to 2008’s “Van Morrison: Under Review 1964 – 1974,” and like its predecessor this current edition is not sanctioned by Van Morrison or his representatives. There are interviews with several music journalists, including Nigel Williamson (Uncut Magazine,) Anthony DeCurtis (Rolling Stone,) Gavin Martin (NME) and Chris Welch (Melody Maker.) Former Morrison band members Plus a few Morrison comments from interviews he did in ’86 and ’87.  Additionally musicians Pee Wee Ellis and Chris Hayes opine about their time spent on the bandstand and in the studio with Morrison.

This film focuses on Morrison’s 1977 “A Period of Transition” through’87’s “Poetic Champions Compose.” Morrison’s earlier history is sprinkled in at the beginning of this documentary with short comments about his Them band. There’s a short segment of his early solo career that takes us to 1974’s “Veedon Fleece” and its poor record sales that led to Van’s three-year break from recording until ‘77’s aptly titled “A Period Of Transition.” Also cited is Van’s appearance at the Band’s farewell concert “The Last Waltz” where he met Dr. John and how that meeting coalesced Van’s return to the studio with the good doctor’s dash of New Orleans funk and sizzle sparking “A Period of Transition.” Chronologically the DVD offers insightful interviews and concert clips – 1978’s “Wavelength,” 1979’s “Into the Music,” 1980’s “Common One,” 1982’s “Beautiful Vision,” 1983’s “Inarticulate Speech of  the Heart,” onto Morrison’s move away from Warner Brothers to Polydor/Mercury with 1984’s “Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast,” 1985’s “A Sense of Wonder,” 1986’s “No Guru, No Method, No Teacher,” 1987’s “Poetic Champions Compose,” and a glimpse (perhaps signaling a third Van Morrison documentary) with a preview of his late eighties into the nineties recordings.

There are also segments of that touch on Morrison’s often controversial and edgy personality, and about the spirituality of his music.  Other than back-cover photo shot of “Inarticulate Speech of the Heart” there are minimal mentions about Morrison’s association with L. Ron Hubbard’s church of scientology, even though the back-cover states “Special Thanks to L. Ron Hubbard.”  Yet one thing is constant, Van Morrison is consistently churning looking for new ideas for his music and perhaps for his own inner soul.  He obviously possesses a restless mind and is on a unique mission trying to fulfill his goals and dreams.

The DVD also includes (about seventeen minutes) “You Know What They’re Talking About: Van Morrison and The Music Press” are additional interviews by Williamson, Altham, Welch and DeCurtis who talk about their personal relationships and experiences with Van, with brief biographies of those interviewed in the film. “Van Morrison: Another Glorious Decade: Under Review 1977 – 1987” was directed and edited by Elliot Riddle.

 

For almost 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal at WFDU with his Sounds of Blue radio show (Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm) www.SoundsofBlue.com  –http://wfdu.fm  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com & www.MakingAScene.org  Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:  bob8003@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

Review: Get Together: Banana Recalls Youngbloods Classics by Lowell Levinger

BRYC_FINAL_COVER_0Back in the 60’s, there was a gret band called The Youngbloods who had a great lead singer called Jesse Colin Young, another guy named Joe, one called Jerry, and a curly-haired fellow they called “Banana” who allegedly inspired the Donovan line in “Mellow Yellow:” “Electrical Banana’s gonna be a sudden craze/ Electrical Banana’s gonna be the very next phase..: Banana’s real name was Lowell Levinger and he is the one who has put this album together over 42 years after the band played their last gig.

And what fun it is to hear these 12 Youngbloods songs now. It all starts out with one of my favorite songs, “Grizzly Bear.” Jesse Colin Young joins Levinger here and they have a high old time with it, including an inspired improvised spoken word part that will put a smile on your face. We then move to the psychedelic groove of “Supersonic Transport,”followed by the somber, folk-based “Darkness, Darkness<” which was penned by Young and sounds as contemporary today as it did then. Here, it is enhanced by Ry Cooder on slide guitar and David Anger’s incredible violin,

“The Pool Hall Song” is another delightful song to make you laugh with its great story of a man who just can’t stand his sister’s freeloading boyfriend one more minute. It is followed by the banjo and bass duet, “Interlude” and then the baroque “On Sir Francis Drake,” which illustrates just how diverse The Youngbloods were and how good the music still sounds with Levinger on piano and Carlos Aonzo on classical  mandolin.

“Hippie From Olema” is a real blast from the past, a window into the hippie era with its good-humored answer to Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee,” and “Euphoria” also takes us right back to the hippie era. “Eyes Eyes”is an evocative folky number with some tasty banjo picking from Levinger  and is followed by a great version of the classic folk tale of “Stagger Lee,” enhanced by the guest appearance of Duke Robillard on guitar. The fabulous blues party song, “Sugar Babe,” which was penned by Jesse Colin Young, is the last song on the album but I want to talk about “Get Together”  last because it is, to me, the iconic 60’s anthem and captures all the love and idealism of that era before drugs and cynicism ate away at it. Maybe listening to that song enough will give us some of it back. The song features a “Grand Chorus” that includes Maria Muldaur,  David Grisman and family, Maggie Levinger, Dan Hicks, and even more friends.

Kudos to Lowell “Banana” Levinger for bringing these songs back to us. They sounded great with the Youngbloods then and they sound great with Levinger and his pals now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Wolfe Band Long Road Back

81ycwcEfF8L._SL1425_Todd Wolfe Band

Long Road Back

American Showplace Music

Todd Wolfe was born in the Forest Hills, Queens, section of New York City. He started playing guitar in garage bands as he was inspired by rock guitarists George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Wolfe recorded and toured with Sheryl Crow from 1993 until 1998. He has written songs recorded by Crow, Deborah Coleman and Phish among others.

Wolfe released his first studio recording in 2002. He followed up with 2004’s “Delaware Crossing” which at the time was referred to as a long lost and rediscovered rock album. Between 2008 and 2009 Wolfe released “Borrowed Time” and “Stripped Down at the Bang Palace” both on Bluesleaf Records. His last studio recording was 2013’s “Miles to Go” also on American Showplace Music. “Long Road Back” is Wolfe’s ninth album overall.

The Todd Wolfe Band usually performs as a trio. What separates Todd from other blues rock guitarists is his song composition and production. Wolfe is never over indulgent and is more concerned about how the band sounds. Wolfe is a seasoned guitarist, vocalist and bandleader and has always surrounded himself with able sidemen. The band currently includes Justine Gardner, bass and backing vocals; and Roger Voss, drums, percussion and backing vocals. The album is co-produced by Wolfe; Ben Elliot of American Showplace studios; and John Ginty, Hammond B-3, piano and percussion. Ginty is a wonderful and inspiring addition to their lineup.

This studio recording is a total band effort as the majority of the tracks are co-written by the foursome. Their combined contribution includes the opener, “Poison”, “Never Walk Alone”, “Fire Me Up”, and the title track “Long Road Back”. Voss’ drums dominate the mix on “Gone”. On “Annalee” the rhythm section does a great job of setting up Wolfe’s fabulous guitar solo. “Hoodoo River” is an extended jam featuring the band.

“Peace Unto You” was written by Wolfe. On it he plays both acoustic and electric guitars while Ginty’s B-3 adds just the right amount of atmosphere. “Mercy” was written by Crow with Wolfe.

Wolfe also includes two fabulous covers. Cream’s “Outside Woman Blues” written by Eric Clapton includes an infectious Clapton riff. The other cover is a great rendition of Stephen Stills’ “Black Queen”.

The Todd Wolfe Band seem to get better and better with each recording. This is quite simply fine blues rock.

Richard Ludmerer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. John The Atco/Atlantic Singles 1968-1974

Dr.-John-SinglesDr. John “The Atco/Atlantic Singles 1968-1974” www.OmnivoreRecordings.com

Despite remaining extensively productive at recording albums, Dr. John’s 1968-1974 stretch at Atlantic Record’s subsidiary label Atco was his largest selling and most commercially successful era of making music. Along the way, he’s won six Grammy Awards, and in 2011 he was also was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Dr. John: The Atco/Atlantic Singles” collects his Atco A-sides and B-sides. The obvious hits are here, but there’s much more, starting with the mono long version of the funky, kooky and fun “The Patriotic Flag Waver.” “Mama Roux” is better known as are his frequently covered “I Walk on Gilded Splinters Parts 1 and 2,” plus Wardell Quezergue’s and Earl King’s anthem “Big Chief” made most famous by the legendary Professor Longhair, and James “Sugarboy” Crawford’s classic “Iko-Iko.” Lesser known Dr. John covers include Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle” with a rare Dr. John guitar solo, Buddy Guy’s electrifying “A Man of Many Words” with Buddy’s vocal and lead guitar solos from Eric Clapton, Allen Toussaint sings background vocals on his superlative “Life,” and the positive vibe that jumps out on Earl King’s “Let’s Make a Better World.” Finally two Mac Rebeenack funk songs “(Everybody Wanna Get
Rich) Rite Away,” “Mos’ Scocious” conclude this under and over the radar screen parade of seven inch singles.

Last but not least nobody can forget Mac’s 1973 chartbusting “Right Place Wrong Time,” produced and arranged by Allen Toussaint who utilized the Meters as the backing band, and that mindboggling guitar solo from the strings of David Spinozza. Note: Regarding the Spinozza solo; I’d often read that David’s solo was waxed in one pass, and that David happened to be walking by the NYC Atlantic recording studio, and was summoned to lay down his solo when it was decided that the song needed a hot guitar part. Several years ago during a WFDU radio interview I asked Dr. John to verify this Spinozza story, and he told the story was factual. But what he also told me was that Leo Nocentelli of the Meters also recorded his guitar solo in New Orleans, but someone misplaced his solo guitar master tape. So that’s how Spinozza got the call to lay down his often referenced, immediately recognizable, forever memorable and sizzling guitar solo for “Right Place
Wrong Time.” Took only about forty years to flesh this out but it’s from Doctor John’s mind and mouth.

This compilation is a great introduction to Dr. John’s arguably best sessions as a leader. Other best of editions have been compiled, and even though the more expansive Rhino 2-CD box “Mos’ Scocious: The Dr. John Anthology” has seventy-five percent of what is covered here. But you’d be missing several shinning diamonds (“Wang Dang Doodle,” “A Man of Many Words,” “(Everybody Wanna Get Rich) Rite Away,” “The Patriotic Flag Waver,”) plus one or two additional chestnuts. Also a plus are the recently penned ten pages of liners by Gene Sculatti, as are the production and arrangement credits for each and every tune. But I would have loved to have seen a song by song description of musician credits. And (this makes me nuts, and shouldn’t be so difficult) how about time-lengths for each track?  That being said; just sit back and enjoy the unique roux of Crescent City funk, soul, jazz and blues brought to you by (the only one of his
kind) Dr. John/Mac Rebennack.

For almost 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal at WFDU with his Sounds of Blue radio show (Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm) www.SoundsofBlue.com  – 2015’s most pledged to ($21,000+) radio program at http://wfdu.fm  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.comwww.MakingAScene.org & www.wfdu.fm/Whats-Happening/Bob’s Music Reviews/bobs music reviews/ Bob was the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:  bob8003@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Grateful Dead “Dave’s Picks Volume 15”

Grateful Dead Dave's Picks 15 coverGrateful Dead “Dave’s Picks Volume 15” Nashville, TN – 4/22/78 – Three-CD’s www.Dead.netwww.Rhino.com

Mr. Lemeieux whose first name is Dave the namesake for the “Dave’s Picks” series that’s now reached its fifteenth volume. Dave states in the liners that when he released “Dave’s Picks 7” a concert that was recorded two days prior to this edition “it was a very tough call choosing between that show and this one.” Further opining: “We’re pleased to finally get 4/22/78 out for you to enjoy.” I find Lemeiux’s comments informative especially for Dead fanatics (myself included) but thought that this concert has several annoying moments. Though there are numerous stunning passages and jams, and it’s undeniable that the bands vocal and instrumental temperament is fiery throughout.

Disc one: Starts with a mildly modified and glistening “Bertha” with torrid guitar and vocal from Garcia, Lesh brims on bass as they shift to Weir’s vocally charged rendition of “Good Lovin’.” But oh-no next is the lethargic “Candyman,” followed by an uneventful “Looks like Rain,” and other run-of-the-mill first set throwaway/warmups like “Tennessee Jed,” “Jack Straw,” and a lengthy/dreadful (8:16) “Peggy-O.” But they awaken closing with a kicking “New Minglewood Blues,” and a swinging “Deal” that concludes with frenzied and levitated choruses of multiple “don’t you let that deal go down.” Weir comments “We quit, see you all later” and the first set is over, and yes there’s more.

Disc two: Opens the second set with a punchy and high-octane propelled “Lazy Lightning” coupled with the usual pairing “Supplication.” Unfortunately Garcia reaches for his tardy “It Must Have Been the Roses” a tune rarely called on for second sets, and it’s a (8:22) yawn. The often awkward “Estimated Prophet” strolls into an intoxicating jam led by Garcia’s playful guitar expeditions that finds it way to an accelerated “Eyes of the World” with Garcia’s bursting guitar lines that are fascinating that aren’t over-amplified. Towards the end of this free-flowing jam there’s an especially fresh instrumental passageway that unfortunately precedes the dreaded dual drum solo that’s now called “Rhythm Devils,” otherwise known as a good time (14:09) to take a long stroll around the arena, or if you are home – fast-forward onto:

Disc Three: Out from the drumming streams a rocked-out and pulsating “Not Fade Away” that’s reminiscent of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” The second portion of the second set seemingly feels like a classic performance in the making: until Weir decides to turn-up his amp and play slide guitar. Talk about questionable decisions. Mr. Weir cannot play slide, he’s a very competent rhythm player but he’s also not a soloist and certainly (except in his own mind) is no Duane Allman. As Weir singlehanded train-wrecks this now very weird “Not Fade Away” jam, Garcia senses the oddness and muscles his guitar into the fracas, yet Weir doesn’t yield until: Garcia wisely takes us to the safe haven of “Wharf Rat.” Thankfully Weir tucks-away his slide for the evening – Amen! Garcia’s vocals are passionate especially during the moving lyric “I’ll Get Up and Fly Away,” and “I’m Sure She’s Been True to You,” as the band lifts-off  in reliable surroundings, Garcia erupts like a supernova dramatically saving the evening with crackling and spontaneous guitar soloing. The exuberant Garcia then crafts another gorgeous instrumental portion before guiding the band to Weir’s trustworthy “Sugar Magnolia.” Weir’s voice bristles and again Garcia’s guitar sizzles (this time) with some good old-schooled rock and roll that seemingly sends to crowd to Deadhead heaven. But there’s one more (isn’t there always) “One More Saturday Night” is tirelessly performed by the band, as it seems as though that they could have done (a not unheard of) third set. But I doubt anyone in Nashville had any complaints with the head-rushing finale(s.)

In summary and as previously stated – this is not an epic Grateful Dead night, but it does contain numerous compelling jams that are fluent and inspired. Note: Either lost in the board mix or not up to par this night was Keith Godchaux’s piano, his wife’s vocals are also appropriately muzzled and therefore entertaining, it’s Weir and Garcia strong and enthusiastic vocals that carry the load. Bottom line: Other than the aforementioned occasional blunders, this ’78 Tennessee evening is quite-the-goods especially when the creative energy readily flows. Enjoy!

 

For almost 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal at WFDU with his Sounds of Blue radio show (Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm) www.SoundsofBlue.com  – 2015’s most pledged to ($21,000+) radio program at http://wfdu.fm  Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.comwww.MakingAScene.org & www.wfdu.fm/Whats-Happening/Bob’s Music Reviews/bobs music reviews/ Bob was the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.  Putignano can be contacted at:  bob8003@yahoo.com