Posts Tagged ‘Yep Roc’

Doc Watson: Live at Club 47

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Newly discovered Doc Watson live set from 1963

At the time of this February 1963 appearance at Boston’s Club 47, Doc Watson was a regional country and pop performer, but not yet the international exponent of traditional folk music he’d soon become. Folklorist Ralph Rinzler had started Watson on the path to fame with home recordings issued by Folkways in the early ’60s, and as his renowned grew, he began performing for urban audiences in New York, Boston and other outposts of the folk revival. His career took off over the next year with a performance at the Newport Folk Festival and his debut record on Vanguard. The seeds of that success are all here, as Watson strums, picks and sings a widely drafted catalog of folk tunes, embellishing each with both the song’s history and his history with the song. Watson flat- and finger-picks guitar, plays the autoharp and harmonica, and entertains the audience with stories and stage patter throughout the set. This is a terrific document of a deeply talented musician on the cusp of turning his artistic mastery, encyclopedic knowledge and affable stage presence into long-lasting influence and stardom. [©2018 Hyperbolium]

Doc Watson Fan Site

Los Straitjackets: What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Los Straitjackets

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

It takes a quirky band to cover a quirky man

As his career matured, Nick Lowe developed a measure of respectability that might have surprised his younger self; particularly the irreverent Nick Lowe who recorded as The Tartan Horde and titled his solo debut The Jesus of Cool. Lowe’s lyrics have always drawn listener attention, but his melodies, as emphasized in these instrumental treatments, deserve their share of the limelight. By reimagining each song, sometimes quite radically, Los Straitjackets have freed the melodies to strike entirely new moods. Pathos is turned on its head with a snappy arrangement of “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide,” and the dark emotional territory of “I Live on a Battlefield” is brightened with a vintage dance beat. “Heart of the City” is still upbeat, but now with Duane Eddy-styled twang, and the relentlessly ebullient “Rollers Show” is crossed between a Shadows-styled bandstand piece and something Chet Atkins might have recorded for teenagers. Lowe’s lone worldwide hit, “Cruel to Be Kind,” is taken downtempo to a very contemplative place, and the folk-rock treatment of the title track is more reminiscent of Lowe’s later solo work than the song’s origin. This is a delightfully original twist on Nick Lowe tributes that have included Lowe Profile, Labor of Love and Lowe Country; all that’s missing is Lowe’s own instrumental, “Shake That Rat,” which the band covered on 2001’s Sing Along With Los Straitjackets. [©2017 Hyperbolium]

Los Straitjackets’ Home Page
Nick Lowe’s Home Page

The Fleshtones: The Band Drinks for Free

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

fleshtones_thebanddrinksforfreeThe garage door is open and the organ’s plugged in

Forty years and twenty albums from their founding, New York’s Fleshtones are still cranking out garage-powered rock ‘n’ roll. Even more impressive than the length of their career is its consistently high quality amid a lack of commercial acclaim. Though the band parlayed its New York City club following into a deal with IRS, soundtrack placements, an American Bandstand appearance (alongside the band War!) and college radio play with 1983’s Hexbreaker!, it never added up to mainstream success. Which makes their perseverance and adherence to a core musical vision all the more admirable.

The band’s seventh album for Yep Roc puts their guitar, bass, drums, organ and harmonica to everything from a cover of the Hondells’ surf ‘n’ drag-themed “The Gasser” to Peter Zaremba’s original blues “The Sinner” and Keith Streng’s gothic soul “Respect Our Love.” Ten Years After’s “Love Like a Man” is taken uptempo with a psychedelic party vibe, and the excess that sparked the late-70s back-to-basics movement is suggested in the title “Rick Wakeman’s Cape.” Rock music may no longer be in the commercial limelight, but it still retains its punch, particularly in the hands of masters like the Fleshtones. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

The Fleshtones’ Facebook Page

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet Reissued!

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

After a few false starts, the three album run of Canada’s Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet has been finally reissued in expanded form on LP, CD and digital download!

shadowymenonashadowyplanet_savvyshowstoppersSavvy Show Stoppers

Formed in Toronto in 1984, this instrumental trio released a number of singles and EPs before dropping this compilation album in 1988. The original sixteen track lineup cherry-picked from 1985’sLove Without Words, 1986’s Wow Flutter Hiss ’86, 1987’s Schlagers!And Live Record With Extra Bread And Cheese and 1988’sExplosion Of Taste. Out of the gate, this was a trio to be reckoned with, as their compositional and instrumental talents collided with a wicked sense of humor. Though often pegged as a surf rock band (leading eventually to the composition “We’re Not a Fucking Surf Band”), they were more truly an instrumental combo in the vein of the Shadows, Link Wray (whose 1963 single “Run Chicken Run” is covered here), the Fireballs and peers like the Raybeats and Pell Mell.

The collection’s most familiar tune is likely to be “Having an Average Weekend,” which gained exposure as the theme for Kids in the Hall, but listeners will also recognize “Harlem by the Sea,” as it gives a rousing guitar-rock twist to the Viscounts’ moody “Harlem Nocturne.” Other highlights include the deep bass and tense guitar of “Zombie Compromise” and the Cramps-like “Vibrolux Deluxe.” Bonuses on the 2016 reissue include the primitive “Big Saxophone Lie,” which (appropriately) doesn’t feature a saxophone, covers of Erroll Garner’s “Misty” and Heinz Meier’s “Summer Wind,” the Charles Burns-narrated “Big Baby,” and a sax fueled version of “Customized.” Remastered from the original tapes, this is the album’s first CD reissue since 1993, and first-ever digital download. A must have for instrumental rock fans!

shadowymenonashadowyplanet_dimthelightsDim the Lights, Chill the Ham

Three years after collecting together singles and EPs for their 1988 full-length debut, Savvy Show Stoppers, this Toronto instrumental trio released their first full album of new material. The band augments their twangy guitar instrumentals with organ, harmonica and whistling, and edits in odd bits of dialogue here and there. Their original material is complemented by covers of the Beach Boys’ “In My Room” and Sonny Bono’s “Bang Bang,”, and Louis Prima’s swing-era “Sing, Sing, Sing” is threaded into the original “I Know a Guy Named Larry.”

As on their debut, the band’s rhythm section drives Brian Connelly’s guitar, and the music stretches beyond instrumental rock to include blues, jazz and post-punk. Yep Roc’s 2016 reissue adds bonus tracks from 1989’s Tired of Waking Up Tired, 1991’s Music for Pets and 1994’s It’s a Wonderful Records! Missing from the digital download are bonuses that accompanied the original vinyl (“Vinyl”), cassette (“Tape, Tape, You Bought Our Tape”) and CD (“Thanks For Buying Our CD”), as well as a Johnny Kidd cover (“Shakin’ All Over”) that appeared on all three. But even without those original extras, this is a sweet second chapter!

shadowymenonashadowyplanet_sportfishinSport Fishin’ – The Lure of the Bait, The Luck of the Hook

The third and final album from this Canadian trio features plenty of the twangy, boss guitar for which they were known, including the rockabilly-styled “Fortune Tellin’ Chicken” and a revved-up cover of Gene Pitney’s tale of forbidden love, “Mecca.” The latter’s surf style is wiped-out a few tracks later by the post-punk declaration, “We’re Not a Fucking Surf Band.” The trio stretches out with Celtic and progressive flavors in “Spend a Night, Not a Fortune,” hypnotic mystery in “Relax, You Will Think You Are A Chicken,” surf vs. spy drama in “Plastics for 500, Bob,” and terrific, jazz-like interplay in “Cheese in the Fridge.” The album also includes the group’s first (and hopefully only) melodic vocal, on the saccharine “The Singing Cowboy.”

Duane Eddy, Link Wray and other guitar giants echo throughout the album, and the crescendo of a live cover of Johnny Kidd’s “Shakin’ All Over” can be found as an unlisted bonus at the end of “Babywetsitself.” Yep Roc’s 2016 reissue features seven bonus tracks, including two (“Lick” and “Sugar in My Hog”) drawn from Fred Schneider’s 1996 solo album, Just Fred. The bonuses close with a six-minute medley of signature riffs from the B-52s, Nirvana, Deep Purple, Dee-Lite, T-Rex, Mott the Hoople, Kinks, Rolling Stones, Ramones, Bad Company, Alice Cooper, Cream, Thin Lizzy, Sly & The Family Stone, Gary Glitter, Sweet, Golden Earring and many others. The band dissolved three years later, and after several false starts, their catalog is finally back in print! [©2016 Hyperbolium]

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet Tribute Page

The Minus 5: Of Monkees and Men

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Minus5_OfMonkeesAndMenA songwriter’s tribute to Mike, Micky, Davy, Peter and more

The Monkees legacy is complicated. At the peak of their fame they were celebrated and reviled in nearly equal measure. Their transformation from actor-musicians playing the part of a pop group to musician-actors forming a real pop group is well documented, but lingers oddly in listeners’ consciousnesses. Scott McCaughey, whose early work with the Dynette Set and Young Fresh Fellows captured the sweetness and adventure of ‘50s and ‘60s pop, leads his latest edition of the Minus 5 in an unabashed tribute to the men who were the Monkees, though interestingly, other than “Boyce and Hart” and the rhythm opening “Micky’s a Cool Drummer,” not in their musical style.

Originally released as part of the five LP Record Store Day set, Scott the Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror, “Side 1” includes individual songs for each member of the Monkees, plus a bonus fifth track dedicated to the group’s songwriters, Boyce & Hart. Threaded throughout each are musical and lyrical references, starting with the country tinge to an epic “Michael Nesmith,” a song filled with clever references to Nesmith’s many career highlights. Davy Jones is remembered as the group’s heartthrob, but also as a thrice-married father of four daughters. “Song for Peter Tork” and “Boyce and Hart” include McCaughey’s personal remembrances, and “Micky’s a Cool Drummer” defends Micky Dolenz as a musician and the Monkees as a band.

“Side 2” essays the “Men” half of the title, paying tribute to McCaughey’s late musical associates and friends, Jimmy Silva (“Blue Rickenbacker”) and John Weymer (“Weymer Never Dies”). The latter is even more epic than the opening “Michael Nesmith,” clocking in at nearly eleven minutes, and venturing into a Beatles-esque experimental jam. Filling out the side is McCaughey’s ode to the omnipotence of film tough guy Robert Ryan, and an appreciation of the Portland band Richmond Fontaine. One might be inclined to call this collection idiosyncratic, if idiosyncratic was at all unusual for the Minus 5; but it is more personal in its undisguised affection. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

The Minus 5’s Home Page

Tony Joe White: Rain Crow

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

TonyJoeWhite_RainCrowMagic signs, rural rituals and (of course) swamps

Though Tony Joe White reached his commercial zenith as a performer with his 1968 debut, Black and White and its single “Polk Salad Annie,” he’s continued makin music ever since. In the nearly fifty years since that debut, he’s released two dozen albums across Monument, Warner Brothers, RCA, Casablanca, Columbia, Polydor and a host of independent labels. This latest finds his fuzz-toned guitar still slithering, and his vocal growl weary, wary and fully simmered in his native Louisiana. The Memphis funk of his earlier years has mostly given way to darker blues as he sings of magic signs, rural rituals, betrayal and, of course, swamps.

White writes from biographical seeds, pairing with his wife Leann to pen “Hoochie Woman,” and with Billy Bob Thornton for “The Middle of Nowhere.” The latter reignites White’s swamp chug of drums, low bass and percussive guitar, as the lyric takes the point of view of a friend’s highly observational son. The title track is based on a traditional Southern omen, and “Tell Me a Swamp Story” draws upon a harrowing chapter of White’s childhood. The songs are confessed as much as sung, but the revelations engender more mysteries than they resolve. It’s dark in the swamps, and you can’t always be sure of what you’re seeing, but you can be sure of what you’re hearing here, and it’s badass. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

Tony Joe White’s Home Page

Chris Stamey: Lovesick Blues

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

ChrisStamey_LovesickBluesA pensive set from a legendary singer-songwriter

It’s been nine years since Chris Stamey’s last solo album, Travels in the South. In the interim he’s worked with Yo La Tengo on A Question of Temperature., re-teamed with fellow dB Peter Holsapple for Here and Now, regrouped with the dB’s for Falling Off the Sky, and continued a busy career as a recording engineer and record producer. The long years between solo outings are certainly understandable, if not necessarily a happy state of affairs for fans; but those same fans should feel rewarded by this collection of eleven magnificent new productions. Stamey’s melancholy tunefulness has never sounded more graceful, rendered in contemplative tones and finely crafted instrumental textures that shift seamlessly between rock, soul, jazz and classical.

Stamey’s formal education in music theory and composition has never been a secret, but his recent work on the Big Star Third concerts seems to have deepened his thinking about how orchestral instruments could fit into and augment his music. He interleaves strings, woodwinds and brass with guitars, bass and drums, dotting his musical landscape with cello, bassoon, flute and trombone. The results are both ethereal and dynamic, offering everything from neo-psych dreaminess to symphonic vigor, sometimes within the same song, as on the sky-gazing “Astronomy.” This coalescing of musical influences is seemingly foreshadowed by the merging of souls in the opener, “Skin.”

At 59, Stamey’s long since expanded upon the punchy guitar rock with which the dB’s introduced themselves, though “You n Me n XTC” has a chorus hook that will make listeners think back. The album plays as late-night ruminations on metaphysical wanderings, philosophical wonderings and haggard day-end inventories. Stamey sings with a thoughtful absorption that suggests Paul Simon’s folk songs, and the self-referential “I Wrote This Song for You” has the charm of an Alex Chilton love song. Stamey’s lyrics remain poetic, but his vocabulary and singing have softened from their earlier percussiveness – a change that fits these pensive songs. [©2013 Hyperbolium]

Chris Stamey’s Home Page

Los Straitjackets: Yuletide Beat

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

LosStraitjackets_YuletideBeatLos Straitjackets rock the holiday classics, instrumental style

What says “The Holidays” more than a primo wave of tremolo guitar and a rockin’ backbeat? If you’re the masked men of Los Straitjackets, nothing says Christmas better than super-stoked versions of holiday classics. They first rocked the holidays with their 2002 release ‘Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets, but this time out they’re melding iconic melodies with the rhythms and riffs of iconic rock instrumentals. “Deck the Halls” takes on the rhythm guitar signature of “I Fought the Law,” and “We Three Kings” is given the buzzing, single-string treatment of Dick Dale’s “Misirlou.” Los Straitjackets translate “Oh Tannenbaum” into the Latin instrumental “Que Verdes Son,” give “Joy to the World” the Stax treatment, borrow the opening riff and guitar styling of “Buckaroo” for “Jingle Bells,” and play “O Come All Ye Faithful” as if the Tornadoes broke into “Telstar” at the company Christmas party. This is a fresh spin from start to finish, and will add some much needed rock ‘n’ roll spice to your holiday music carousel. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

Young Fresh Fellows: I Think This Is

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

YoungFreshFellows_IThinkThisIsThe Young Fresh Fellows stock up on irreverence

Seattle’s Young Fresh Fellows return with their first album since 2001’s Because We Hate You. With band leader Scott McCaughey having joined REM as an auxiliary member and turning out albums with the loose-knit Minus 5, the Fellows have become something of a side project. Add to that the late-80s departure of co-founder Chuck Carroll, and the band’s irreverent ethos is more of a thread than whole cloth, stitching things together rather than organically binding twenty-somethings who live and play with one another on a daily basis. The new songs, two by guitarist Kurt Bloch, two by drummer Tad Hutchison and the rest by McCaughey, capture the band’s loony humor if not its early fraternal bonds. There are a few newly minted Fellows classics here: “Go Blue Angels Go” is the theme song for a yet-to-be-created hydro-plane themed limited animation TV show. “Let the Good Times Crawl” is a convincing Sunset Strip garage rocker sent back from 1965, and “Lamp Industries and “Suck Machine Crater,” whatever their inside jokes are about, are bouncy pleasures. The foursome still delivers wacky songs stretched across a deep love of pop, punk and rock sounds with simple punch and energy. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | New Day I Hate
Young Fresh Fellows’ MySpace Page

The Minus 5: Killingsworth

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Minus5_KillingsworthScott McCaughey indulges his Ray Davies jones

After the Beatle-esque pop of 2007’s The Minus 5, this Scott McCaughey-led collective returns with a new lineup and a twangier country-rock sound. McCaughey and companion Peter Buck are back, alongside Colin Meloy, additional members of the Decemberists and other guests. As on all of the collective’s albums, McCaughey’s vocals and songs provide the binding component, the latter of which include a healthy dose of downbeat, troubled and troubling themes. Pedal steel, banjo and general melancholy make a straightforward match to the lyrical tenor, with McCaughey sounding remarkably like Ray Davies in his mid-period Kinks prime – in both nasal vocal tone and social content.

The album opens with the bitter remains of a failed courtship and closes with the despondent misery of a troubled and broke bar fly. In between McCaughey offers the sort of opaque lyrics he’s written regularly for both the Minus Five and the Young Fresh Fellows. His titles and lyrics intimate deeper personal meanings, but they’re not always easily revealed. He resurfaces for a portrait of the working musician’s nightmare, “The Lurking Barrister,” he eyes unsparing isolation and social decay in “Big Beat Up Moon” and excoriates fundamentalism with “I Would Rather Sacrifice You.” The Kinks vibe is strong on “Vintage Violet,” with the She Bee Gees singing along as a girl-group Greek chorus.

McCaughey’s used the ever-shifting membership of the Minus Five to give each of the “band’s” releases a distinct flavor. In contrast, the parallel release by the Young Fresh Fellows, I Think This Is, has to work to recapture the group’s vibe. McCaughey’s jokey, ironic and sometimes startlingly penetrating songs support both bands, but the free hand of perpetual reinvention gives an edge to the Minus Five. Without having to hit a specific musical or emotional tone, the Minus Five indulges whatever is currently running around McCaughey’s head. This year it seems to be (among other things) Muswell Hillbillies. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | The Long Hall
The Minus 5’s MySpace Page