Archive for the ‘Vinyl Review’ Category

Big Star Tribute to Alex Chilton

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

A couple of months after Alex Chilton’s passing in May, 2010, the latter-day lineup of Big Star (Jody Stephens, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow), along with a number of special guests, played a tribute concert at Memphis’ Levitt Shell. Though the entire concert was recorded, clearing the performance and song rights for release has proven too difficult to undertake all at once. Instead, Stephens, along with mastering engineer Larry Nix and Big Star’s engineer, John Fry, have released an initial EP of John Davis’ three performances: “In The Street,” “Don’t Lie To Me” and “When My Baby’s Beside Me.” Fortunately, the sound is terrific; unfortunately, it’s only being released on 7″ vinyl at this point. You can pick it up from Ardent Music, and hear a sample of the music on the video, below.

Stream the release on Muxtape

Towerbrown: I Wanna Know (What You’re Gonna Do)

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Wild ‘60s Boogaloo and Freakbeat from France

This fantastic French foursome is back with a new EP of 1960’s-inspired boogaloo, freakbeat and swinging R&B. Isabelle Lindqwister (from Rodeo Massacre) provides the title track’s guest vocal, but it’s the hot, soulful Hammond and driving rhythm section that really heats things up with the instrumental “Emma’s Theme.” There’s a new dance step stomp, “Do the Jungle Jane,” that perfectly transplants a riff from the Munster’s theme, and though the tempo slows for “Lion Club Boogaloo,” the temperature doesn’t drop a degree as the ride cymbal adds a soul-jazz backing to the organ’s heavy chords and throaty stabs. This band has so authentically recreated the mood of mid-60s discothèque, it’s almost scary. Available as a vinyl 7” (email the band for info) as well as a digital download. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Towerbrown’s Facebook Page
Towerbrown’s MySpace Page
Towerbrown’s Blog

Rod Rogers and the Travis Jay Jones Orchestra: Las Vegas Souvenir

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Las Vegas-themed song-poem concept album

The world of song-poems is one in which an amateur songwriter’s lyric (or “song-poem”) is run through a music mill’s assembly line of melody, arrangement, performance and recording. The result is a stack of singles, albums, cassettes or CDs delivered to the aspiring songsmith, and not much else. These are vanity recordings for which the recording company has no marketing plan and no expectation of profit beyond the few hundred dollars “seed money” paid by the lyricist. A deep underground of song-poem collectors have churned out album compilations [1 2 3 4] and websites like the American Song-Poem Music Archives, that collect the best (and the best of the worst) records and shine some much deserved light on the industry’s more interesting characters.

The genre’s unparalleled superstar is Rodd Keith, an arranger, musician and vocalist whose productions often managed to transcend the banal lyrics with which he had to work. Keith recorded under a number of aliases, including this album’s Rod Rogers. This full-length LP appears to be a vanity recording, but it’s not entirely clear for whom. The bulk of the songs are credited to combinations of Jones, Riley and Vandenburg. Bandleader Travis Jay Jones is also listed as the president of the record label, Planet Earth, itself a division of Travis Jay Jones Enterprises. So one might guess that Jones was the recording mill’s proprietor, and Riley was the funding songwriter; or Jones was the songwriter and Riley or Vandenburg were the arrangers. In a large sense it doesn’t matter, as part of the charm of song-poem records is their everyman anonymity.

These are top-notch song-poem productions, featuring a tight pop combo of guitar, bass, drums, piano and odd instrumental touches likely produced by Keith’s Chamberlin. The lyrics are notable for their lack of polish – phrases that don’t quite fit the rhythm, moon-spoon-June rhymes, half-baked similes and oddly fantastic word choices. But wedded to catchy melodies (several of which lean to country-and-western) and Keith’s talanted singing, these productions are surprisingly memorable. The song cycle finds the album’s protagonist welcomed to Las Vegas with an invitation to gamble and drink that quickly leads to empty pockets. Along the way he encounters Sin City staples: lucky charms, neon lights, nightlife, quickie weddings, and (twice, yet) fortune tellers. There’s little here to make you forget “Viva Las Vegas,” but you’ll be hard-pressed to get “Lucky Vegas Gamblin’ Man” out of your head. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

See the PBS documentary Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story