You may have known of Dean and you may have known of Gene, but you may not have known about the other Ween brother. Claude Coleman Jr. was their drummer for years and he’s now going at it on his own with album called Laughing Hearts. Getting a chance to show off what he has been doing with years of session work, you can now hear him for himself, beginning with “Talking Sweet”.
According to the press material, “rock stars went extinct but Marilyn Manson is still here” so if the Foo Fighters are not rock stars, maybe they’re just a cool band with punk roots. This means Marilyn Manson may be someone else within the rock star persona, that could be very true if you think about it. New album out on january 20th called The Pale Emperor, bow down to his likeness to a new song called “Deep Six”. Think about it: you’re dead now.
Just because Howlin Rain is now essentially a solo project doesn’t mean he can’t round up some new friends and head out on tour. That is exactly what Ethan Miller will be doing next year when he and said friends will gather as Howlin Rain and brave the road in support of their Mansion Songs album due out January 27th. This is where they’re scheduled to be, primarily west coast dates for the time being:
February 25, 2015… Arcata, CA (Humbrews)
February 26, 2015… Portland, OR (Mississippi Studios)
February 27, 2015… Seattle, WA (Tractor Tavern)
February 28, 2015… Vancouver, BC (The Hindenburg)
March 1, 2015… Bellingham, WA (Shakedown)
March 3, 2015… Boise, ID (Neurolux)
March 4, 2015… Salt Lake City, UT (Kilby Court)
March 5, 2015… Las Vegas, NV (The Bunkhouse)
March 6, 2015… Flagstaff, AZ (The Orpheum)
March 7, 2015… Santa Ana, CA (Constellation Room)
March 10, 2015… San Diego, CA (The Casbah)
March 11, 2015… Los Angeles, CA (The Echo)
March 12, 2015… Santa Cruz, CA (Crepe Place)
March 13, 2015… Oakland, CA (Leo’s)
March 14, 2015… Mill Valley, CA (Sweetwater)
Until then, check out a song from the album to come, a track called “Wild Bush”, which may be about shrubbery, good smokes, or perhaps it’s vaginal.
The last time we heard from The Flaming Lips, they made a fantastic album called The Trial (my review of which can be read by clicking here.) After having a bit of surprise success with their cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon in full, the Oklahoma gentlemen decided to get into their mushroom storage shed again to cover another classic rock album, this time The Beatles’ highly cherished Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The new album is called With A Little Help From My Fwends (Warner Bros.), called this because the Lips are joined by a number of special guests, some welcomed, some unwelcomed, some surprises, others not so much. Overall, it is a split effort. Some songs work fairly well while others fail miserably, even within the context of The Flaming Lips. Some of the more demented stuff is quite good, including versions of “With A Little Help From My Friends” with Black Pus and Autumn Defense), “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite” (with Maynard James Keenan, Puscifer and Sunbears), “Lovely Rita” (featuring Tegan and Sara, Stardeath and White Dwarfs), and “When I’m Sixty-Four” (with Def Rain & Pitchwafuzz). Surprisingly, it is Miley Cyrus’ two contributions (yes, two) to the album are some of the best songs here, playing roles in “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (which also features Moby) and “A Day In The Life” (featuring New Fumes). If Cyrus ever steers towards making more serious music, she may become a huge influence on a generation or two of many young singers. That’s not a joke.
The absolute best track is “With A Little Help From My Friends” not only because it has Black Pus but because it’s the noisiest on here. Would I listen to this on a regular basis, not really. I prefer other Flaming Lips albums and EP’s and I like The Beatles’ album a bit too much, even though I do enjoy the way they’ve always reinterpreted other people’s works. It may work very well for other listeners so if your mind is open up to this, definitely plug it in. Despite the fact that a good part of it sounds like a total failure (and definitely feel freel to define “failure” in your own way), the good thing about this is that all proceeds from record sales will go to The Bella Foundation, an organization in Oklahoma City that helps provide veterinary care to needy pet owners. Buy it for that reason.
There was a time when Howlin Rain was the ID card for a fantastic band out of San Francisco, releasing a number of great albums that will hold up in the years to come. Then something happened. Vocalist Ethan Miller found himself without band members and with that, no record label to call home. Miller still had a passion to make music and rather than risk putting everything to rest, he decided to write a new set of music. That new set of music became a new album, and it’s credited as being Howlin Rain but now you’ll be able to hear things in an all new light, from an all new perspective. The album, to be released on January 27, 2015, is called Mansion Songs (Easy Sound) and will show Miller as someone going through much more than just the motions and emotions, but what he was able to bring forth to the recording studio is a set of songs that are sure to make Howlin Rain fans excited and perhaps bring a new set of listeners to his talents. Check out “Big Red Moon” and then wait a few more months before the new full length surfaces.
When MTV premiered in Honolulu, with visuals but no sound, on December 24, 1981, I did not know how much this cable network would change not only my life, but tons of other people’s lives in general. I’m sure I had seen records by The Pretenders at stores but never heard them on the radio, or at least they were not a primary focus of pop radio back then. They weren’t, they may have been on the rock stations on the FM but definitely not AM. When videos such as “Brass In Pocket”, “Talk Of The Town”, and “Kid” started getting a lot of MTV airplay, that paved the way for them to gain a much bigger American audience, not bad for a band with a vocalist with Ohio roots.
By the time The Pretenders hopped into my vision, the group had already released two albums (Pretenders and Pretenders II) and an EP (Extended Play) but again, I didn’t notice them because I wasn’t listening to FM stations. When I became aware of who they were and moved to FM radio, then I realized how popular they were with DJ’s and listeners. While I liked the group’s poppier songs, I always find an attraction to the harder stuff, or at least I felt “Tattooed Love Boys” was the harder of their material, with James Honeyman-Scott’s guitar work ripping things apart. Pete Farndon’s bass work, and Martin Chambers’ insisting drums. Eventually I came across “Message Of Love”, which sounded a bit aggressive as well compared to “Brass In Pocket” and “Kid”. It’s hard to say even today what made me like this song at first: Chambers’ drum pattern, Honeyman-Scott’s strutting guitar, or when Farndom comes in to punch himself into the song. Yet what I also loved was Chrissie Hynde’s singing and lyrics. The song may have been about love, something I wasn’t concerned about yet, age 11, but who didn’t want to hear a love song? Maybe it was the lyric “look ’round the room/everybody stand up”, as if it was some calling to people at a concert hall, bringing in people and wanting to keep them revved up. Whatever the reason was, I fell in love with the song as deeply as the song’s romantic lyrics and I became a fan of theirs.
(Odd Pretenders factoid: I was familiar with Grace Jones’ “Private Life” when I entered the Froggy’s store in Honolulu when the store played The Pretenders doing the same song. I knew it was Hynde but I thought “wow, this is a horrible verson, not realizing at the time that The Pretenders wrote and performed it first. I hear it differently now but it showed the power of what Jones could do with powerful material, a bit like her rendition of Roxy Music’s “Love Is The Drug”.)
While “Message Of Love” and “Tattooed Love Boys” was not released back to back in any country, if I had a dream jukebox, I definitely would make a custom pressing of it and ave both of those songs on one 45. They are my favorite Pretenders songs and deserve to be with one another so for not, I’ll place “Message Of Love” within and make the jukebox happy.
The name of the band is not Odd Future, but they are called Wolf Gang, which will hopefully not make people believe this is Tyler, The Creator and friends. The group are wrapping up work on their second album, which is being produced Flood, known for his work with PJ Harvey, nine inch nails, and U2. Today, they are releasing a single called “Lay Your Love Down”, which will welcome in older fans to the new and newer fans to find out what Wolf Gang are all about. Initially, Wolf Gang started off as a one man project by London musician Max McElligott, but it now is a full band featuring Gavin Slater, James Wood and Lasse Petersen. This is exactly what it says in the press release and thus I must believe it. Now you believe in the Gang and be (im)patient for more to come soon.
Henrietta’s The Trick Is Not Minding could sound intriguing by title alone but unfortunately, that’s the only thing that is intriguing about this release. Granted, these guys are competent and are able to sing, play, and write songs, but they come off like every other bar band that does the exact thing, and I want to hear something that goes beyond that. Maybe I’m the one who is wrong. Okay, as far as playing like a bar band is concerned, let’s get out of that. These guys make powerful pop/rock songs that could easily be used for any amount of television shows or movies as a means to catch the ear of a scene or something, and maybe these songs will be remembered as a key moment. The only problem I find is that it has too many key moments and it gets lost amongst one another. I don’t hate it, but there’s not enough here that will make this listen to me repeatedly, or months from now. Check in in ten years and we’ll see what happens.
It’s considered one of Frank Zappa’s most cherished albums, and now for those of you who have been trying to hunt down an older copy of it but have been unable to locate it, good luck my friend. Apostrophe (‘) will be reissued on vinyl by
USM on October 20th. Originally released 40 years ago, this is the album where Zappa is joined by the likes of George Duke, Jack Bruce, Ruth Underwood, Ian Underwood, Sugar Cane Harris, Jean-Luc Ponty, Ray Collins, Napoleon Murphy Brock, and many more. The album features such greats as “Cosmik Debris”, “Excentrifugal Forz”, the awesome title track, and the mega popular means of advice called “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”. No word yet on who is remastering this new pressing but as soon as I find out, I’ll let everyone know.
35 years after the release of Chicago 13, the public tends to look at the album differently than it originally did, but not in a wide sense. Fans of Chicago can be very divided over their friendliness towards the group, with fans loving the Terry Kath era, fans that don’t mind the pop craft that they engaged in in the second half of the 1970’s, and those who are not afraid to embrace the lush pop that lead them to radio and many hits throughout the 1980’s. Yet if there’s still an album that continues to make people question its existence, it’s Chicago 13.
The band had replaced original guitarist and vocalist Terry Kath with Don “Donnie” Dacus, who seemed to look and embrace the feel of other pop stars of the era like Rex Smith and Leif Garrett. He had long blonde hair, so there were some who saw his youth and looks as something that was different from what Chicago had intended. Nonetheless, the man could sing and he could play a damn good guitar, and no one said anything when their 12th album, Hot Streets, gave the world hit songs like “Alive Again” and “No Tell Lover”. It was just new Chicago music, and by that point, original bassist/vocalist Peter Cetera was becoming the band’s primary face.
What made Chicago 13 different was that Columbia Records decided to give the band a chance to film music videos for the songs, or what were called “promotional film clips” back then. There was no music video cable networks in 1979, so the only way you could see these film clips were on public access, in between movies on HBO (maybe), or at record stores which made a special section which involved nothing but a TV with the videos running continuously. Well, at least that’s how music videos were presented in the late 70’s in the U.S,. as England were utilizing music videos as part of a promotional tool for artists, songs, and albums. Here in the U.S., it was extra, if not strange, but Columbia Records were making an effort. The videos made were for the songs “Must Have Been Crazy”, “Run Away”, and “Street Player”, and while the video seemed to get limited exposure on TV, it seemed people were not impressed by what the videos showed. “Must Have Been Crazy” showed the group jokingly lounge at home while a black cat caused terror wherever it walked. “Run Away” involved a master reel of tape going around Los Angeles as the band were practicing at a venue, while “Street Player” showed the inevitable performance. The videos showed a sense of humor that people didn’t expect from them, and perhaps it was way too strange for those who just played “Another Rainy Day In New York City” or “If You Leave Me Now” in front of their couches and fantasized all day.
“Must Have Been Crazy” was Chicago 13 first single but fans didn’t seem to take to it, or more specifically, hearing Dacus take a lead vocal. Chicago were known not only for Cetera, but also pianist/keyboardist Robert Lamm and guitarist Kath before he died in 1977. So who was this blonde guy singing… a Chicago song? People didn’t like the mood, or it didn’t catch on, or radio programmers felt it sounded different than what was going on the radio at the time, which was a whole lotta disco, or at least the last end of disco’s fame and (mis)fortune. Cetera did do background vocals in the song and could be heard in the last minute, but that was not enough. It also had a pleasant guitar solo from Dacus too so if radio tried to push it while a video made tried to let people know who Dacus was, it failed.
“Run Away”, written by trombonist James Pankow, was a great song too, complete with a wicked solo from Dacus that now reminds me slightly of Toto’s Steve Lukather or Journey’s Neal Schon, as he plays throughout and including the fade. But since radio didn’t take to “Must Have Been Crazy”, “Run Away” didn’t have a chance.
As for “Street Player”, fans praise this song for its use as a primary sample in The Bucketheads’ “The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)”. Released 15 years after the release of Chicago 13, The Bucketheads knew that the song and the album it came from were one of the band’s biggest failures, but the song was funky in its own right and managed to turn it around and bring it its rightful majestic power. “Street Player” was co-written by drummer Daniel Seraphine, detailing his life as a rough kid in Chicago who almost lived the life of a punk, had he not had music to turn his life around. Seraphine’s primary voice before the release of the song was his drums, playing amazingly in songs like “25 or 5 To 4″, “What’s This World Coming To” and of course their cover of the Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m A Man”, but this shined the spotlight on the drummer that most people tended to ignore, or at least not grab the light that Cetera, Lamm, Kath, Pankow, or the rest of the horn section had claimed over the years. The song also gave the spotlight for a solo to jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, identified by some of the man’s high pitched horn squeals to let everyone know he was in the studio. As Cetera sang “I’m a street player…and I’ll play you a song”, the band continued to play their disco groove, which got slightly Brazilian in feel, leading to two horn breaks in the second half. This then leads to another powerful guitar moment for Dacus, all before Cetera sings “street player, what you do, gotta make you groove” and the rest of the band are pumped in ecstasy, figuratively and literally. Ferguson comes back briefly before they all fade the song, running close to nine minutes. To be honest, it remains one of Chicago’s brightest moments and yet the band suffered in the same way The Rolling Stones did with “Miss You” and Kiss did with “I Was Made For Loving You”, in that once they were identified with something disco, they were dead. It would’ve been true had they not continued once the 1980’s started, but the bad luck streak told in the promotional film clips for Chicago 13 were essentially a bit of wishful thinking that, for a few years, they thought was a bit too close to home. Fortunately, Chicago were not ready for home base, at least not yet. Years later, when Chicago kicked Seraphine, one of the band’s founding members, out of the band, he had the last laugh when the “Street Player” sample helped him out significantly in the publishing department. Considering how many Chicago songs became hits, “Street Player” is the one that people know as a sample, even if they might not realize it is a Chicago song, primarily because of its no hit status.
The rest of Chicago 13 had some great material, and with wonderful production from Phil Ramone, who also worked on Hot Streets with the band, the band couldn’t do any harm to their career. Chicago were worthy in 1978 and with “Alive Again” and “No Tell Lover”, they were alive and they returned. Songs like “Mama Take” (Cetera) and “Paradise Alley” (Lamm) showed that the group’s pop and jazz ways were as powerful as ever. Even saxophonists Walter Parazaider and Lee Loughnane even had a joint composition on the album with “Window Dreamin'”, so it seemed the group were spirited and ready to end the 1970’s on a high note.
HBO did run a Chicago concert special in support of Chicago 13 and it was the perfect way for listeners to hear the classics from the group, along with a string of songs from the new album. One of the performances was another song written by Seraphine and David Wolinski, who also co-wrote “Street Player”. “Aloha Mama” hit me because here I am as a kid in Honolulu hearing one of my favorite bands sing one of my words. The song was built on a very nice jazzy groove, with a rhythm that is very funky, what would be called the Purdie Shuffle., in honor of Bernard “Pretty” Purdie. You may recognize the drum rhythm from Steely Dan’s “Home At Last” or partly used in Toto’s “Rosanna”. The band were not only in jazz mode, but vocalist Cetera also put himself in jazz costume as well, crediting himself in the song as P.C. Moblee. The harmonies were perfect, the feel of the song was great, it had the right to be a hit had it been released as a single but that was not to be.
Even longtime Chicago percussionist Laudir de Oliveira had his own song on the album, when he wrote “Life Is What It Is” with Marcos Valle. These days, we would call this type of laid back groove “yacht rock”, complete with added percussion from legendary musician Airto Moreira. The song is smooth, funky, exotic, and perfect to hear in any occasion. You could pop this song in a mix of songs by The Doobie Brothers, Pablo Cruise, and Kenny Loggins and no one would have said a thing. Cetera takes the lead with Dacus handling a few background harmonies and again, this song could have gained some AOL airplay had it been pushed in the right way.
Sadly, Chicago 13 ended up being bad luck for the group. Music was great, singing was great, songwriting was up to par, and people were fed up with Chicago’s magical power. They were the kings of pop radio of the mid to late 70’s, they had enough. When the group followed it up with Chicago XIV, which brought the group to legendary producer Tom Dowd, it faired worse and they eventually left Columbia Records and moved to a new label. This would eventually lead to a new hit era for Chicago in the decade, and a style of music that didn’t please the earlier fans. It didn’t matter. Pop fans loved the new material and were pleased by the outcome. Chicago stayed on the charts, they sold millions of records, and that was that, even as they too would also bring in new vocalists (keyboardists Jason Scheff and Bill Champlin, the latter a founding member of Sons Of Champlin). Cetera eventually left, and Chicago moved on. However, the group became unfashionable in the 90’s and sales for new music started to drop a bit. Looking back, Chicago 13 was not a massive failure by any means, for it allowed the group to have ten more years of pop chart success, which meant hits. Sure, Chicago fans changed during this time but the album is feared because of that disco beast known as “Street Player”. They looked at the shining light from the 13th floor on the illustrated building with the Chicago logo on the cover and said “I’m not going there. Leave me out of that building now.” Guaranteed, those who discovered the album and found a liking to it all wanted to be on that building, realizing that if you don’t believe in superstitions, you can go further in life. The music on Chicago 13 definitely, in the words of “Street Player”, made you move and made you groove. On vinyl, it’s fairly easy to find at thrift stores because those who bought it have tossed it out, and covers with cut-out marks are plentiful but if you must, don’t ignore it. Play it and hear it from a band who did their best to survive in the game and while the public discarded it, they also did so without listening. It’s your time to listen.