REVIEW: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “CSNY 1974″

 photo CSNY1974_cover_zps99f6e99f.jpg Rhino Records have released three different Crosby, Stills & Nash box sets highlighting each member, as a group, with collaborations, and solo projects. Now there’s a fourth box set, but this time welcoming in Neil Young and highlighting the reunion tour they did in 1974. CSNY 1974 (Rhino) is a way to not only hear again the songs CSN and CSNY did as a group, but to also check out their solo material performed in a group setting. These include “Don’t Be Denied” (from Young’s great live album Time Fades Away), “Military Madness” (from Nash’s Songs For Beginners), “Almost Cut My Hair” (from Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name) and “Love The One You’re With” (from Stills’ debut solo album). Even if you know these songs in their original form or live recordings they may have done on their own tours, it’s nice to hear them in the CSNY setting, especially when the harmonies kick in.

Even if you’ve bought bootlegs or downloaded ROIO’s over the years, it’s nice to hear them nicely mixed, complete with in between dialogue that had often made those shows interesting to listen to along with the songs in question. Then there’s the guitar work from both Young and Stills, each with their own distinct way of playing but when they were together, it worked nicely. Despite the inner bickering they may have had with each other from time to time, CSNY 1974 shows that when it was possible, they were able to work together in beautiful harmony.

SOME STUFFS: Two surf movie soundtracks get first time U.S. reissues

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U.S. label Anthology Recordings are reissuing two soundtrack albums from surf movies that were and still remain highly celebrated 40 years after the fact.

  • Morning Of The Earth was directed by Albert Falzon and features incredible music by G. Wayne Thomas (who handles the beautiful title track), Tamam Shud, Brian Cadd, John J. Francis, and more.

  • Crystal Voyager was put together by David Elfick, and the movie is known for a number of reasons. While the film is historically known as “the one” that features the incredible use of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”, the soundtrack (without Pink Floyd) features G. Wayne Thomas (who also offers liner notes for this pressing ) and shows how perfect he was to create the sonic backdrops for the film, which is perfect.

    I had obtained the CD’s for both of these albums when they were reissued back then but hopefully the two albums will gain a wider audience once again, as they are worth exploring. To pre-order Morning OF The Earth, you may head here or for Crystal Voyager, you can go there. If this is anywhere near the quality of Japanese reissue of surf soundtrack albums over the year, it will be a keeper.

    (SIDENOTE: When Disney Channel first began their cable broadcasts, Crystal Voyager was one of the first movies shown on a regular basis before they formed their own programming.)

  • REVIEW: Casual Strangers’ self-titled debut

     photo CasualStrangers_cover_zps8902c7ef.jpg The first album by Austin, Texas’ Casual Strangers (self-released) tends to make it sound grander than it really is, especially when it tries to push the experimental guide, which I don’t hear. What I do hear on this album is a powerful piece of durable rock with a bit of depth and magnitude that is regularly not found in what passes as pop rock these these, and I like it. The group are fronted by vocalist Katey Gunn, who enjoys decorating the songs with different textures, pulling the listener in and then going in for the kill at the right moments. The same can be said for guitarist Paul Wacklawsky, drummer Jake Mitchell, and bassist Jaylinn Davidson, who enjoy exploring the arrangements of the songs, equally balancing what Gunn does with definition and space. Waklawsky also takes the microphone a few times, and what you had expected for some elements suddenly changes. Some tracks sound like durable new wave while other moments sound like the progressive things that some bands of the 90’s enhanced and made it their thing, or part of a thing that made these alternative bands so great, as if they heard different things and wanted to expand on things to take it one step further. I hope Casual Strangers are able to take the casual strangers known as their fans to new places and worlds.

    (The self-titled Casual Strangers’ album will be released on July 22nd.)

    BOOK’S JOOK: The Black Crowes’ “Remedy”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

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    Shake Your Moneymaker (Def American) may have been the album that introduced the world to The Black Crowes, but the album I loved the most was their follow up, The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion (Def American), primarily because of the first single and video for it. “Remedy” just hit me in the right way, as the song was a sheer rocker, Chris Robinson had the right attitude vocally, and the whole attitude of the band in the song and video just made it sound right for me, if “sounding right” can actually exist. It felt right to me, and the video was easy going, laid back, and just felt like a party video, or at least you’d wish to be in the room with these guys to watch and listen to them right out. The strut from Chris Robinson, barefoot and all, was awesome, and the man had a bit of swagger, however nerdy it might’ve seemed.

    The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion also had great songs like “Sting Me” (the B-side to “Remedy”, along with the two videos that came along with it, “Thorn In My Pride” and the awesome “Sometimes Salvation”. In fact, I would’ve loved it if “Sometimes Salvation” and “Remedy” existed as the perfect A/B but by 1992, major record labels were no longer waiting around to release oldies-but-goodies singles, where they could put out back-to-back records. In fact, “Sometimes Salvation” was not released as a vinyl single in any country, which is mind blowing considering how great this song was and still is.

    Years later, I realized “Remedy” sounds a bit like Chicago’s “Feeling Stronger Every Day”, at least the initial hook before Chris Robinson starts the vocals. I had wondered if I had liked “Remedy” because of the similarity to “Feeling Stronger Every Day” and decided that no, I love “Remedy” as is. I’m also glad that this is one of the Black Crowes songs that gets a lot of classic rock airplay today, twenty-two years after the fact.

  • BOOK’S JOOK: Chicago’s “25 Or 6 To 4″ b/w “Make Me Smile”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

    Last week I posted a new edition to my dream jukebox but as I was reaching the last sentence, I began to question myself. Should the “Colour My World”/”I’m A Man” 45 by Chicago be in there, because I realized I had a slightly more powerful record, also by Chicago, in mind. I decided to leave it alone and post the article but when I did, I came up with the conclusion I may have been wrong with my initial decision.

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    As much as I like the softer, more delicate side of Chicago’s music, it was the rockers that always got to me first, and “25 Or 6 To 4″ is my all time favorite Chicago song. Say what you want about where Peter Cetera’s career went to in the 1980’s, but in 1970, he belted it out with passion and of course, his bass work was powerful and incredible. You can’t help but hear a song where I wondered “what are they talking about?” Is it about drugs? Is it about something else? Or is it some guy who is up at 3:35 in the morning, unable to finish a song and realized “maybe I should just write a song about how frustrated I am by not being able to complete this.” It made for a good story, whatever the story is. On top of that, you have the majestry of Terry Kath’s guitar work, and while the 45 single edit removes the part where he hits the wah-wah pedal for a wicked run towards the finish line, the single edit seems to shorten this song nice and promptly. The single edit does remove a verse, but my introduction to the song was through the edit and I was content until I bought my own copy of Chicago II and learned there was about 90 or more seconds extra.

    This 45 too was part of Columbia’s Hall Of Fame series, offering two hit songs on the same record so the B-side had another song from Chicago II, “Make Me Smile”. It sounded funny to me, not as full as “25 Or 6 To 4″, and I would later learn that the original safety masters were destroyed so it sounded like someone used a cassette dub of a cassette dub of a cassette dub, where the quality sounded muffled. This was a mean rocker too, with Kath handling the lead vocal duty, and I would learn that this too was a short edit of the original song. I would also later learn that the single edit of “Make Me Smile” actually spliced a part of the original and “Now More Than Ever”, which then made me learn those were part of the mini-opera known as “Ballet For A Girl In Buchanon”. These two songs were the ones that made me want to know how much more music Chicago had made, outside of the popular songs I heard on the radio. The old Chicago was far better than the then-latest Chicago but I wanted to like them all. I’m glad I did.

  • SOME STUFFS: King Buzzo streams solo album a week in advance

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    Melvins fans have been excited by the material and live performances from Buzz Osborne as a solo artist, and now the full album will be out next week Tuesday via Ipecac Records called This Machine Kills Artists. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait seven days to hear it for King Buzzo is allowing the album to stream in full a week beforehand, and you can listen to it now by heading to DangerousMinds.net. There are sixteen songs on this beast, so have a listen and see what Osbourne has to offer.

    BOOK’S JOOK: Chicago’s “Colour My World” b/w “I’m A Man”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

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  • If there is a place where my love of Chicago started, this is one of the first places. I was always told that my Uncle Wayne loved “Colour My World” and that it was one of the easiest songs to play on piano. My next door neighbor had a piano so when I was able to pay a visit, I tried it out. I realized it was very easy and in my mind, I knew how to play the piano. It was about the song that made me like it, from Terry Kath’s sensitive vocals to Walter Parazaizer’s flute solo, that just set it off for me.

  • This pressing is notable because it’s part of Columbia Records’ Hall Of Fame series, which was a part of their “Oldies But Goodies” series where music fans could have the hits “back to back”, or have two older hits on the same record. There was a special section near the regular 45’s where you could specifically buy the older material, and it seemed like a bargain because you were getting two popular sons on one 45 opposed to the hit plus “a piece of junk” on the B-side. This was a mentality before I got into collecting and realized the B-side can sometimes be where the true winner is. Anyway, it was a chance to have two Chicago hits on the same record, so I was happy.
  • The B-side of this record had a solid rocker, and I believe I heard this version of “I’m A Man” before I heard The Spencer Davis Group’s original version of it. While the label listed it simply as Chicago, this was done by Chicago Transit Authority from their debut album, I knew that before I even had the full album because my neighbor had the CTA album plus CHICAGO II. “I’m A Man” was awesome not only because it’s the one Chicago/CTA song sans horn section, but because of the drum break from Daniel Seraphine. I loved how jazzy it was, even though I wasn’t aware at the time of his jazzy roots, it just sounded like something I might’ve heard on one of my uncle’s jazz albums, yet there was something else about his drumming too. As a kid who admired the drums and wanted to play the drums so bad, I’d find myself playing this song over and over and doing air drums to it, properly accurate to the 45 edit on the record. When I bought the CTA album, I realized there was three extra minutes, which means more air drum learning.

  • The record seemed perfect: delicate ballad on the A-side, mean rocker on the B. At the time, Chicago’s bit hits were “Alive Again” and “No Tell Lover” and I wondered “how come the Chicago on my record sounds better than what’s on the radio?” In time, it would lead me to buy Chicago’s entire U.S. discography, all except Chicago 21. Yet. As I’m wrapping this article up, I was positive that this was my formal introduction to Chicago but I realized that it was not. It’s a respectful introduction but I now know that my parents showed me the yellow brick road with a different Chicago record. I’ll share that title next week Monday.

  • DUST IT OFF: Prince’s “When Doves Cry”…30 years later

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    This was something I looked forward to. I knew the 30th anniversary of this was on its way this month, but Wiki, Discogs, and Prince.org lists it as either May 9th or 16th, 1984, which is wrong since both dates are Wednesday. While I know Wikipedia tends to cater to the UK release date, both dates would still be wrong. Anyway, regardless of the actual release date, we are now 30 years beyond the impact of this song. It’s a bit significant for me, as it’s the last Prince song I heard as a resident of Honolulu before I moved a little over three weeks later. I had been a Prince fan since I saw the video for “I Wanna Be Your Lover” on public access, which lead to me buying the 45 at Music Box in downtown Honolulu. I knew of Paul McCartney playing all of his instruments but I had never seen a promotional film clip of anyone doing the same. I was hooked and loved the song. Sadly, due to radio genres and formats, I didn’t become aware of Prince again until “1999” and “Little Red Corvette”, and that was because MTV had played him. I want to say I heard “Controversy” back then too but I honestly don’t remember. Nonetheless, when “When Doves Cry” was released, this was just a new Prince single, sounding uniquely different from “1999” or “Little Red Corvette”. It sounded like Prince was going to change his method a bit, but we weren’t sure why. A month later, a soundtrack album arrived, and we all knew a movie was going to come out. Little did we know how big this film was going to be not only for him, but 1984 as a whole. I wasn’t able to see Purple Rain at the theater because it was Rated R, and while my mom had no issue with him, I don’t think she wanted to take me to the theater to see the movie just because. I ended up renting the VHS for Purple Rain before we even had a VCR, I was that advanced and dumb at the same time. When I hear “When Doves Cry”, I hear a bit of sadness from someone who was about to move away from home and discover new people and scenery. I found a way to relate to “how can you just leave me standing alone in a world so cold” because I was about to leave behind everything and not sure what the future would offer However, in the album version of the song, the courage came back through that guitar solo. For me, I guess the song was the start of a new way of living for me, and little did I know how much it was going to change me, discovering many things the hard way.

    SOME STUFFS: Turchi release new album this week, record release shows begin tomorrow

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    Can’t Bury Your Past is the latest album from blues rock friends Turchi, who released it yesterday on the Devil Down label. Fronted by Reed Turchi, Turchi show what it means to get back to the roots of the music, whether it means rediscovering the blues, country, or whatever you can find when walking through the woods barefoot with a guitar in your hand. It’s what it means to be a North Carolina resident, at least for Turchi, and he and the band are ready to share that feeling with you. Listen to how gritty they are with “Take Me Back Home”.

    They will be doing a number of shows in the coming weeks, check them out and show up early. Shows in June will also include fellow North Carolinians Campfires & Constellations:
    April 24… Chapel Hill, NC (Local 506)
    April 25… Durham, NC (Blue Note Grill)
    April 26… Cape Charles, VA (Kelly’s Gingernut Pub)
    April 27… Wilmington, NC (Lagerheads)
    June 21… Lafayette, LA (Artmosphere) Ҽ
    June 26… Nashville, TN (Soulshine Pizza Factory) Ҽ
    June 27 & 29… Cape Charles, VA (Kelly’s Gingernut Pub) Ҽ

    Ҽ = w/ Campfires & Constellations

    Reed Turchi will also be doing two solo performances, both at breweries:
    May 3… Waynesville, NC (Tipping Point Brewery)
    May 23… Waynesville, NC (Frog Level Brewery)