Some sounds never go out of style – like melodic rock made from two guitars, bass and drums. Hailing from the Northwest, this Portland quartet is reminiscent of the pre-grunge bands that filled the taverns of Seattle in the early ‘80s, as well as critical darlings like Richard X. Heyman, the Real Kids and Dictators, and international acts like the Lemonheads and Squeeze (who’s “Misadventure” they cover here). They are also the rare band whose name starts with ‘Q’ and whose bassist is the lead singer! They’ve got the harmonies, guitar riffs and punchy rhythm section down, and though the lyrics are sometimes hard to pick out, the melodies are filled with agreeable hooks. Their debut EP is available for free on their Bandcamp page, and well worth your downloading time. [©2012 Hyperbolium]
Archive for December 11th, 2012
After three years on Sun, Johnny Cash moved to Columbia, where a nearly 30-year run produced an unparalleled catalog of recordings. Many of Cash’s singles and albums have been reissued, but a surprising number have not, or not in the U.S. The Complete Columbia Album Collection features 59 albums on 63 CDs, including 35 albums (19 in mono) seeing their first CD release in the U.S. In addition to Cash’s studio albums, the set includes eight live titles, including a 1978 show in Prague making its first appearance on a domestic release. Also included are soundtracks from I Walk the Line and Little Fauss and Big Halsy, the bible chronicles The Holy Land and The Gospel Road, two albums with the Highwaymen, and children’s and Christmas releases. Rounding out Cash’s Columbia albums are two CDs of non-LP singles and a new compilation of Sun-era tracks. The box is a monument to one of music’s most towering figures and a tribute to the wide swath he cut through American culture. [©2012 Hyperbolium]
Recorded in 1988, this CD/DVD set brings together the singer-and-songwriter pair who broke through in 1967 with “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” The duo would score several more hit singles, including the multi-chart topping “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston,” along with lower charting singles “Where’s the Playground Susie” and “Honey Come Back.” Each partner had tremendous success on their own, but the combination of Webb’s emotionally evocative lyrics and Campbell’s country-tinged pop vocals created something unique. Though they continued to work together off and on, including a full-length 1974 album Reunion: The Songs of Jimmy Webb, their collaborations never again struck the chart gold of their late ‘60s run.
Campbell and Webb continued to perform together at select events over the years, but commercially released recordings of their pairings are few. This set, recorded for the Canadian television show In Session, is released here for the first time. The duo reprises their biggest hits, and adds other songs from both their collaborative catalog and Webb’s own rich collection of compositions.Campbell remains deeply engaged with the hits, taking “Galveston” at a slow, mournful pace, and adding thoughtful touches to “Wichita Lineman,” including a fetching acoustic guitar solo; he also rescues “MacArthur Park” from the drama laid into Richard Harris’ original hit, singing the song lyrically rather than performing it as a dramatic script.
The arrangements are relatively simple, with Campbell on guitar facing Webb on piano, and backing of bass, drums and synthesized strings that leaves the focus on the vocals and the songs. The duo’s personal and musical chemistry is evident in the between-song banter and the knowing looks they exchange. The DVD opens at the end of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and unfortunately, that fragment is all you get. Webb is also included in interview segments inserted between (and, distractingly at times, overlapping and during) songs. The segments are banded as separate tracks on the DVD, but not on the CD, where they distract from the set’s flow. This is a nice artifact of Campbell and Webb’s 45-year partnership and friendship, and the musical fruit they’ve nurtured. [©2012 Hyperbolium]
The nighttime soap opera Dallas dates to an era before music coordinators ruled television soundtracks and used the network exposure to turn obscure indie bands into well-known music stars. Instead, a program’s soundtrack was the province of a composer (in the case of Dallas, it was Jerrold Immel) and spin-off albums were novelty byproducts of the show’s fame, often populated by the show’s cast (Donny Most, anyone?). The latter is the ticket on this 1985 release, featuring music purpose-written to the show’s themes, and starring cast members (Steve Kanaly, Howard Keel and Jenilee Harrison) alongside then-contemporary country stars Karen Brooks, Crystal Gayle, Gary Morris and Johnny Lee. With the show starting its slide down the ratings ladder, this could have been a quickie knock-off, but the productions are solid, and the songwriting is good.
The opening track offers a disco march arrangement of the show’s famous theme, and the cast tunes include Lorne Greene-like spoken efforts from Kanaly and Keel, and an unsteadily warbled double-tracked melody fromHarrison. Much better are the country stars, recorded inNashvilleby Scott Hendricks, produced by Jim Ed Norman and Barry Beckett, and featuring A-list studio players Eddie Bayers, John Hobbs, Paul Worley, Billy Joe Walker and others. Though the songs are linked to the show with subtitles like “Jock and Miss Ellie’s Song,” the lyrics aren’t specific, and play as smooth country. It’s a tribute to these vocalists that their vocals warm the chilly, synth-and-glycerin-guitar mid-80s production sound.
The album spun off the Gayle-Morris duet “Makin’ Up for Lost Time (The Dallas Lovers Song),” which topped the country chart in early 1986, and Johnny Lee’s “The Loneliness in Lucy’s Eyes” rumbled around at the bottom of the Top 100. Several other tracks seem chart-worthy, including Karen Brooks’ Linda Ronstadt-styled “I Wanna Reach Out and Touch You,” the twang, piano and vocal harmony of The Forrester Sisters’ “A Few Good Men,” and even Morris’ solo closer “If I Knew Then What I Know Now.” This is a great deal better than one might expect from a nighttime soap spin-off, serving as both a nice artifact of the show’s popularity, and a decent collection of mid-80s mainstream country. [©2012 Hyperbolium]
There are many anthologies, greatest hits collections and album reissues of Dick Dale’s material, but none have done the service of separately collecting his surf and hot-rod oriented tracks into parallel volumes. RockBeat’s issue of King of the Surf Guitar (not to be confused with his 1963 album of the same name) and At the Drags does just that, offering a generous twenty themed tracks each. The dragstrip volume documents Dale’s temporary turn from surf to cars, following in the trend of numerous Southern California acts of the time. The collection is drawn primarily from Dale’s two car-related albums, 1963’s Checkered Flag and 1964’s Mr. Eliminator, and adds the single “Wild Wild Mustang.” Musically this isn’t much different from Dale’s surf catalog, employing his trademark reverb-heavy staccato guitar picking, and backed by members of the Del-Tones, Superstocks and Los Angeles studio hotshots, including Bill Barber, Glen Campbell, Steve Douglas, Plas Johnson, and Hal Blaine. The single “Night Rider” could just as easily be a surf tune in both music and title. A few tracks add sound affects and Dale adds vocals to more than a half-dozen others, adding a Freddy Canon-styled energy to “Hot Rod Racer,” a Jan & Dean treatment of “Big Black Cad,” and rocking a Bo Diddley beat on “50 Miles to Go.” The masters are super-wide stereo, with only tracks 7 and 8 in mono or very narrow stereo. Rock Beat’s tri-fold slip case includes four full panels of liner notes and an eight-page booklet that adds four more pages of song notes (by Alan Taylor and Dave Burke of Pipeline magazine) and a page of musician and production credits. [©2012 Hyperbolium]
There are many anthologies, greatest hits collections and album reissues of Dick Dale’s material, but none have done the service of separately collecting his surf and hot-rod oriented tracks into parallel volumes. RockBeat’s issue of King of the Surf Guitar (not to be confused with his 1963 album of the same name) and At the Drags does just that, offering a generous twenty themed tracks each. The surf volume includes Dale’s signature rendition of the folk song “Miserlou,” alongside popular singles and album tracks such as “Let’s Go Trippin’,” “Surf Beat,” “The Wedge” and the Bo Diddley-styled “Surfin’ Drums.” The latter even features Dale himself playing out the drum break to close the track. Though Dale’s reverb-heavy staccato guitar picking is the collection’s big ticket, there are also a few vocal tracks, including the B-side “Secret Surfin’ Spot,” as featured in the film Beach Party (and covered by Annette Funicello), and the R&B-flavored single “Mr. Peppermint Man.” Backing Dale were both his Del-Tones and a number of Los Angeles studio hotshots, including Barney Kessell, James Burton, Neil Levang, Leon Russell, Steve Douglas, Plas Johnson, Hal Blaine and the Blossoms. The twenty tracks collect sides from Dale’s tenures on both Deltone and Capitol, and offer stereo (2, 5, 7-8, 10-11, 14-15, 19-20) together with AM radio-ready mono. Rock Beat’s tri-fold slip case includes four full panels of liner notes and an eight-page booklet that adds four more pages of song notes (by Alan Taylor and Dave Burke of Pipeline magazine) and a page of musician and production credits. [©2012 Hyperbolium]