Monday, February 28, 2011

Dylan Cover #4 Rage Against The Machine "Maggie's Farm"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from rage Against The Machine and it is their take on "Maggie's Farm"

Thoughts on Dylan's Original:
"Maggie's Farm" is classic Dylan, everyone thinks they know what it's about and they are sure they are right, but they all think different things.  I will confess I like the sped up Electric version from Newport Folk Festival that caused the end of popular folk music (in theory) and really solidified Dylan's pop music career.  It is a great tune and really flows in lots of forms... 

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I have always liked Rage Against The Machine, granted the fact that they inspired nu metal is pretty weak, however I can't deny their first 2 albums were favorites of mine.  Live they were top notch and their show at Roseland back in 96 is still a huge highlight for me, they opened with "Killing In the Name Of" and the crowd exploded for the remaining 2 hour concert.  I don't think I ever heard their third album in it's entirety as I kinda fell off on them, but todays song comes from their cover album Renegades

Thoughts on Cover:
Conceptually I love it, in practice this version only generates mixed feelings.  Morello's screech kicks off the 7 minute tune, the length is part of the issue as things seem repetitive towards the end.  Zack's take on the lyrics is more smoldering then screeching which works for the tune. The groove holds well, but the electric flourishes like the slides and long notes should have been more frequent.  Their switch to "She's 68 but she says she's 24" in the lyrics is a nod to the first electric version and a nice touch.  The first guitar solo around the 3:50 mark is a bit underwhelming, returning with a siren like sound to the verses, but the outro instrumental part that kicks off the last 2 minutes is heavy and stomping.   Maybe a bit of excess at two minutes and could have been spiced up, but not a bad way to end a tale of rebellion.        

Grade:  C
I wanted to like this one more as I usually enjoy unique cover versions but I doubt I come back to it all that often.

Wilson's Take-
This week Wilson decided to riff more on the album cover from The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan...Enjoy...

News of Suze Rotolo’s death on February 24th isn’t going to cause much of a ripple on the contemporary music scene. After a few “Who’s Suze Rotolo?” someone with far too much time on their hands will note that she’s that girl locking arms with Dylan on the cover of 1963’s The Freewheeling Bob Dylan – half (or more) of that iconic mid-century image of happiness.

Her death has sparked chatter among the Dylan faithful, as Ms. Rotolo proved to be the muse of all muses. For any artist, the right woman at the right time is everything. She can either be the lit match that sets off a propane tank or the tidal wave that quenches the blaze before it really gets going. Rotolo wasn’t like the people Dylan knew up in Hibbing. He described her as “the most erotic thing I’d ever seen.” As the child of communists, she introduced him to new books, old ideas, Avant-Garde film and all of that beautiful Greenwich Village bullshit that isn’t, in itself, useful to any end; but saturates the mind like a casserole of intrigue and, by instilling a lust for ideas, does its job.

Historians note that Freewheelin' is when Bob Dylan became Dylan – which makes the famous album cover all the more amusing. An album that in one stroke birthed "Masters of War", "Blowin in the Wind", "A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall", "Don’t Think Twice", "It’s All Right Ma" called for an acrid cover. It should have offered doom, gloom and the high flames of hell. It should have been abstract or conceptual…something deeply obvious that beats you over the head like The BeatlesSargent Peppers. But it didn’t. The album that put the 1960s on notice offered the one thing more inviting than genius – a walk through the Village at 21 with a girl who puts a smile on your face.

It has been a wild half-century since that photo was shot. We all know how things turned out for Bob Dylan. But something tells me he’d roll the dice on those 50 years for another walk down Great Jones with Madame Rotolo circa 1963.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Funday - Bowery Beef and Freegal Tunes

So last Friday I had the pleasure of checking out Mike and Ray's new venture Bowery Beef now that it is up and started slicing the meat.  I have talked about it a few times before, so I won't go over much except to, do the serve up a tasty sandwich!

The roast beef is skillfully sliced and I got everything on it... it is a touch messy, but for someone who rarely eats meat, I could not stop thinking about this savory combo of cheese sauce bun and roast beef all weekend.  I wanted to go back for more, it was really that good, and Mike is a big boy I would have told him if it was OK or good...this was Excellent!.  I am not sure what to compare it too, as my favorite foods have shells and are alive when I eat them, but there was some great flavor combination a'sparking in the old chomper as I bit in.   You may want to order two as you will be wanting another when you are done with the first.
Look they even brand their buns!
Classy Boy-o's! 
It was great to see the fellas kick it off and produce a high quality product and it was fun eating with them, even if we had to "shooosh" for the play going on in back, but without reservation I recommend you try one of these tasty concoctions. 

While being "shooshed", shouldn't happen on a Friday night, and it rarely happens in the library anymore, that will be my awkward transition to this weeks Freegal downloads from NYPL.  Again I have mentioned them in the past, but this is a great service and you should really check it out. Next Friday I will be posting all of the tracks I have downloaded (some I haven't told you about) so you can download them all together as my first Freegal Friday Shuffle.

This weeks downloads are from all over the map, I got one new jack as my favorite guitarist in LA has told me to check out Mumford and Sons, "Little Lion Man"

My sister has loved them for a while now, so I will give it a few whirls in the old ears as I haven't given them any time and those two are pretty good judges of taste...well sometimes.

Then I went to Machito and His Afro-Cuban Ochestra.  I picked for "Mambo Mucho Mambo" is "Ay Que Mate" to give you a taste of this fine fellow if you don't already know him...

Finally I grabbed from the immortal Sam Cooke a tune of his I don't know "I Ain't Gonna Cheat On You No More", can't wait to hear it.  Since it is almost the weekend, I will give you some joyful Cooke to help you kick off the party...

It IS almost Saturday Night, and I can't wait...will be party'in Nola Style with Galactic and Trombone Shorty, BOOSH!!!!  Enjoy y'all

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Album Review - OFF! - First Four EP's -

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
First Four Ep's
**** out of *****

Remember when punk was more of a way of life/movement rather then a genre and *gulp* a Broadway musical?!  The members of OFF! certainly do as they were the ones who helped in it's infancy and unwittingly lead it to today's heights/depths depending on who you ask.  This group is undoubtedly legends in punk circles, consisting of Keith Morris on vocals of Circle Jerks/Black Flag fame, Guitarist Dimitri Coats from Burning Bridges, Red Kross Bassist Steven Shane MacDonald and Rocket from the Crypt drummer Mario Rubalcaba.

The aggression of the early 80's are back in all its raw brevity. The 16 tracks are done in 16 that is how you get your point across!  There are no hidden meanings or even revisions to the topics, tracks like "Panic Attack" and "Black Thoughts" sound exactly as they are titled; rampaging straight ahead attacks that ferociously deal with bleakness.  With the band being a bit older, "Blast" and "I Don't Belong" seem to be reflective but can work just as well for the 12 year old skater to describe their weekend and that is why 'real' punk rock still contains so much power.   

First Four EP's allows old school punks to move into this century and new jacks to get a true feeling to what it was like.  We (including the band) all get new songs to thrash and scream with, then place right next to worn out tapes and seven inches of the classics.     

It's pretty cool when you can start to listen to an album and start to read the review and be finished about the same time with both.  If you were ever a fan of Early punk rock you need this album, it is a stark reminder that things did sound pretty great and surprisingly still can; it made me dig out some old peaches and while I will gladly admit the Circle Jerks never did it for me, Black Flag was vital in the musical upbringing.  My first exposure to them was borrowing Everything Went Black so I was exposed to Keith from the first song I ever heard of theirs, which  was "Gimme Gimme Gimme" and I freaking loved it.

First Four EP's brings back those feelings, granted not everyone is going to love it, but those who do will REALLY like it.  I will tell you, seeing kids forming a pit and stage diving at Screaming Females and now listening to this album again, I am starting think things might be swinging back to exciting and raw with some popular punk bands (don't yell at me NYHC fans, I know you are all still/always hardcore) at large shows as opposed to standing around.

It reminds you you're alive to be young and in a huge pit... 

Official release of "Upside Down", God Bless Skate Punk.

Some sample live clips to get you juiced or give you an idea if you just read everything above and thought it was written in Wing Dings font:

 First Ep Celebration Live "Black Thoughts" etc....

"Darkness" "Panic Attack" "Upside Down" from club Europa:

Because now I need to hear it: "Gimme Gimme Gimme" (plus the first Ten Minutes of the Album):

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Glide Review - Don Giovanni Showcase Screaming Females etc. Live

Got a new review of a live show up on Glide.

Read it right c'here!

It's a live record label showcase coming from Don Giovanni Records. It was held in the Music Hall of Williamsburg and was kick ass from start to finish. All the bands are worth checking out and instead of adding anything more to the fun night, I will just post some live videos of each of their sets...lots of good stuff available at  youtube.  So read the review and listen/watch the songs as you do...

...OK I lied in that paragraph up there...I need to say one more thing...Go see Screaming Females...I can't say that enough.

Your ears will thank you.

Byrds of Paradise -
"Broadcast News"

Lemuria -
"In A World Of Ghosts" - Unfortunately from Philly not Brooklyn...stay tuned for more from them though.

ShellShag -
"The Promise"  (cover of When In Rome's 80's hit)

Laura Stevenson & The Cans -

"A Shine To It"

Screaming Females -
"Lights Out"

"Rotten Apple/Fall Asleep"


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dylan Cover #3 Beth Orton and M. Ward "Buckets of Rain"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from Beth Orton and M. Ward covering "Buckets of Rain"  (sorry for the delay, but we here at RTBE took Monday off)

Thoughts on Dylan's Original:
Dylan's mid career masterpiece closes out with this song and to me it always seemed tacked on whimsically.  After going through a ton of raw emotion with "Idiot Wind" and other tunes, Blood on the Tracks finishes with this ditty.  Honestly never one of my favorites, it acted more as a palate cleanser and a sweet one at that.    


Thoughts on Cover Artist's-
Not very familiar with Beth Orton at all.  Not a huge M. Ward fan either.  My favorite work of his has to do with the "super" group Monsters of Folk.  Actually coming into this one with a pretty clean slate on the Artists which is refreshing.   

Thoughts on Cover-
M. Ward and Beth Orton add some gravity to a light and airy song, and I am not sure much was needed.  Slowing it down and dragging it out certainly makes it seem more important, but I am not sure it works better, just different.  That is really the only thing different about it.  The vocals are paired nicely, but it is still structured acoustically with very little musical distinction from the original, there is some buzzing underneath the playing that takes the place of the bass in the original, but it isn't overwhelming.  One thing I would have liked to have heard was the duo harmonizing more which I think adds a lot to the last verse when they finally do.  A fine little song that doesn't try to be anything grander, and the Duo pretty much treat it that way. 

Grade (A being Blood on the Tracks, F being Dylan)-

Wilson's Take-
(Wilsons take will arrive once the carrier pigeon flying from his secluded shack in Nova Scotia lands on my fire escape with the parchment strapped to his ankle...damn pigeons...always late...)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Funday Again with Bowery Beef!!!

So my friend Mike is back in the news with the opening of his new restaurant Bowery Beef along with his partner Ray LeMoine on 1st and Bowery, so I wanted to hype him up some more.  There have been a couple of blog posts that have been very favorable to the place so far, so check out the Village Voice review here.
Check out Huffington Post here!

I am planning on grabbing a sandwich this weekend and will report back with the findings, probably next Friday, I did have drinks at the bar at the Poetry club last week though and I can assure you that the Brooklyn Brew was tasty.  Also had the pleasure of hanging out late night with famed beef slicer Patrick Sweetra last Friday and welcoming him to New York City BILLYMARKS WEST
Here is a tune to kick start the weekend for you from a band who became famous right across the street from the beef shop and is one of Mike's favorites...The Talking Heads.
Until next time....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Whitman Poster and Interlude

Just had to give a quick shout out to my co-workers and friends Jenny and Lauren for giving me a nice new (well not new, but certainly nice) Walt Whitman poster for my day job work space:

Rock The Body Electric was founded on Whitman's spirit.  His grace, style and love of almost everything.  I haven't posted about him much, but this nifty new poster gave me an opportunity to, so thanks Ladies!

It comes from NYPL's exhibitions and programs that were offered to the public in 2005 which celebrated the 150th year of Leaves of Grass printing. There is a great online resource here to get etext of various published versions of Whitman's epic work, and you can always check out some materials regarding this seminal piece of American art from this fancy pants library.  So get your art on while you can, because who knows when The Man might take it all away?!? 

Some Leaves of Grass read by the excellent Tom O'Bedlam, Enjoy:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Glide Review - J Mascis -Several Shades of Why

Got a new review up over on Glide.

Read it right C'here!!!

It is of J Mascis New Album, Several Shades of Why.

I have made no secret of my love for J in these parts, so it should come as no surprise that I dig the album.

Granted it is a whole heaping lot different sounding then 99% of other shizz that he plays, but his song writing and talent are there, it is just that the delivery is softer.  

I do admit Several Shades of Why sounded a bit "demo-y" when I rolled through it, but the more time I spent listening the more I loved and heard that patented Dinosaur Jr sound (minus the noise).  While strange it was still reassuring to hear his familar questioning lyrics and fluid like few other guitar lines.  Let's be honest, live any of these tunes would work with Lou and Murph banging the hell out of them...maybe we'll get to see that at some point 

A really solid disk, front to back, give it a whirl, especially if Dino was/is too noisy for your tender little ears...(sissy)

A few tunes:
"Not Enough"

Some kick arse Dinosaur Jr tunes Solo, none are on the album, unfortunately.
"Get Me" (complete with Broken String and recovery solo...)

"Alone" referenced in the review when discussing "Can I"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dylan Cover #2 Steve Earle "It Takes A Lot To Laugh..." Live

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from Steve Earle and The Dukes and it is a live take on "It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry"

Thoughts on Dylan's Original: One of my favorite titled songs in the Dylan catalog, for some reason the title just nails an elusive feeling and perfectly works with the tune.  Also contains multiple epic lines, my favorite being "I wanna be your lover babe/I don't wanna be your boss", AMEN brother Bob.  A pretty straight forward blues number musically that lends itself to cover attempts, leading to...


Thoughts on Cover Artist-  I honestly hadn't listened to Steve Earle much at all until very recently.  I caught him open and play with Levon Helm at the Beacon in November, but that was a solo acoustic set (and a good one).  This Earle is a different beast, but overall I am still too new to his catalog to have much of an thing I know for certain about him though is that he has GREAT Taste.

Thoughts on Cover-  Acting as a closer from his To Hell and Back concert which MTV broadcast (wait they played music once?!!?) it is a rollicking good time, complete with blaring harmonica, bar house boogie woogie solo's and some pretty spot on advice from Earle to kick things off, with The Dukes backing him.  Turns out this was a court ordered concert as part of Earle's parole.  He was incarcerated in the same facility (Cold Creek Correctional) prior to this show, pretty crazy stuff!

I love the stomp and snarl while Earle rings out lines of guitar and blues verbiage crafted by Dylan.  The harmonica really wails and all in all it is a fine version of a rollicking version with energy for days.     

Grade (A being Blood on the Tracks, F being Dylan):

Wilsons Take: (Wilsons take will arrive once the carrier pigeon flying from his secluded shack in Nova Scotia lands on my fire escape with the parchment strapped to his ankle...damn pigeons...always late...)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Funday - Phish Shows, Guitar Players and LA Trip Video

So Andy Silver over at Hidden Track decided to go back through the last 25 years and the huge back catalog of Phish shows to deliver a list of 200 for the fans to argue over/sift through. 
You can see the full list here!
It was a task I was debating doing with the Dead last year, but it was just waaaay too daunting.  I haven't brought up Phish much at all on RTBE, but they were vital in shaping how I thought about music.  Honestly I know this was a tough task, but because there are so many included there is ZERO controversy.

This strikes me more as a list a new fan can use to sift through the styles of the band and find shows that really hit home, and for that it is very useful.  To start debate though it isn't all that effective.  Cut the list down to 50 or 25 and then the back and fourth would start.

What surprised me was just how many of these shows I caught.  My first show was on 10-22-96 at MSG and by that time Andy has (correctly) filled out more then half of his list.  Since that time though I managed to catch 25 shows that Andy selected and others that he obviously didn't.  If there is one arguing point here I think he included far too many 2010 shows.  Anyway, it was a fun reminder of the great live times and traveling experiences we had catching the band and makes me want to go back and check out a few oldies but goodies (I had forgotten about 12-11-99 and need to dig that disk out and give it a listen soon)

If you are looking for anything Phish...give the Spreadsheet a gander.

Trey is one of my favorite guitarists, but I finally put together a small video of our trip to the west coast to visit another one of my other favorites, Mike and catch some baseball...we did one of those things...and The Ramones were clearly the sound track of the trip...pardon the personal indulgence:
(you can hear the third in my top 3 guitar players, J Mascis, at the beginning of the video...weird!)

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Album Review - The Fresh & Onlys - Play It Strange

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
The Fresh and Onlys
Play It Strange
*** out of *****

Retro spaced out jangles act as huge flowers and The Fresh & Onlys stop to smell them often as they ramble through the prairie that is Play It Strange.  Packed to the brim with washed out vocals floating above and behind layers of dreamy space guitars as organs and screeches pulse just below the surface.  The whole sound presented would probably float off your turntable if it wasn't for the constant force provided by the drumming which places a push pin into the cosmic sound, grounding it to planet earth.

The majority of Play It Strange are quick tunes that come in, then quickly say good-night before you can get a handle on them which only adds to their mystery.  "Be My Hooker" has a slapping punk pop combined with a ringing guitar ling that shines, "Fascinated" is a sweet/stalker '50's twist and shake motif, while "Waterfall" motors and discusses the death of TV and radio.  The lone exception to the brevity is shown in "Tropical Island Suite" which plays for 7 minutes, but in reality feels like 3 of The Fresh & Only Songs combined into one, in the vein of the Who's "A Quick One While He's Away", but not on that level. 

While the music presented on Play It Strange is consistently engaging the vocals/lyrics and specifically the effects coating them can be become distracting; a cleaner approach on this front would go along way to make the songs much more memorable.  While the distortion enhances the dreaminess of the guitars it can be awful frustrating waking from dreams and not remembering what was said.  

There seems to be a lot of retro-hazyiness going around these days, but honestly there could be worst phases, what am I saying, there has been and their currently are!  So day-dreamy pop/rock from the jangling past isn't nearly that horrific.  I enjoyed listening to this album, especially the drumming, will it change the world?  No.  Is it better then any of the other "retro" releases to come along?  Probably not.  Will it stick around long in the old noogin'?  Doubtful?  Does any of this matter?  Again, probably not.  If the vocals weren't so cloudy I think the album would play a whole lot better...but...apparently these kids today love their vocal effects.

It is a light fun listen, probably better fitted for a summer drive then a cold winter day, but give it a whirl...some tunes:

"Summer of Love"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dylan Cover #1 Grateful Dead - "She Belongs To Me"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from The Grateful Dead, and is of Bob Dylan's 1965 song "She Belongs To Me".

Thoughts on Dylan's Original:  This is a gem of a song, a twisted tale that entwines beauty and deceit, darkness and sparkling Egyptian Red Rings.  One of his best in it's mystery, elusiveness and bitter biting undertones; really pure Dylan and one of his all time classics.  Loved it when I first heard it, still love it today, the fact that it hasn't been played over the last 3 years is a shame.


Thoughts on Cover ArtistWell...duh....

Thoughts on Cover:  Wow this is a winner.
The Grateful Dead have always shown their love of Dylan and I am sure they will pop up in this series a few more times, but this is really an excellent video directed by the drummer's son, Justin Kreutzman.  The image itself is gorgeously shot in black and white and captures the three string pluckers of the Dead interacting wonderfully.  Lesh's bass line is wandering yet sturdy, Weir's vocals are pretty as always and Jerry's solo's are dynamite with his acoustic flavor hearken back to his bluegrass (or Dawg Days) with David Grisman.

The twists away from the original version lay with Garcia and Lesh, as Phil's Bass line is up beat and a bit more bouncy then with the original.  Garcia's solo has a flamenco touch and is crafted gloriously high up the fret board in a style he was known for and frankly Dylan (and few others) could ever pull off.  This one will stay in the rotation for it's clarity, production values and overall booshness.

Grade (A being Blood on the Tracks, F being Dylan):
A- (deduction for no drums)

Wilson's Take:  (Wilsons take will arrive once the carrier pigeon flying from his secluded shack in Nova Scotia lands on my fire escape with the parchment strapped to his ankle...damn pigeons...always late...Ahh Here it is:)

The Grateful Dead's rendition puts "She Belongs To Me" around the campfires that no longer burn in America. The Dead give us one of those six string and six pack sessions played on summer nights in the North Country. It's a serenading acoustic gospel - soft and elegant but it's not about the same woman that obsessed Dylan. Theirs is nostalgic. Dylan's original on Bringing It All Back Home is an homage; a testament to a new kind of creature that the young Dylan can't take his eyes off. His electric guitar delivers a marching beat that leaves no doubt that the girl with the sparkling Egyptian rings indeed doesn't look back...leaving "She Belongs To Me" as the ironic psalm of a girl who can't belong to anyone.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Funday - Ren and Stimpy Theme, One Man Band-

Here is a bit of whimsical fun for your Friday Funday Afternoon...A one man band version of the classic theme song to Ren and Stimpy, one of the most ground breaking cartoons.

Enjoy yer'self the weekend is here...Happy Happy, Joy Joy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

R.I.P Alan Uglow - Artist, Painter, Die Hard Chelsea Supporter, Friend

In the past when I have done a RTBE RIP posts they have been about silly actors, funky musicians, and some slightly forgotten rockers.  Unfortunately this time the passing was a bit closer to home, as Alan Uglow passed away recently from complications of Lung Cancer, he was 69.
 There is a really great piece here in the New York Times worth reading describing his life and his work so I won't go into that stuff, (Sidenote: if you want an interview with Alan about his work, read this!) but it also mentions his love for Chelsea FC and that is where I come into things.

I never knew Alan as a world famous artist, or as a photographer, I just knew him as Alan from the New York Blues who I joined up with in January 2007.  From that first match I met up with the crew down at Nevada Smith's (a shitty 2-0 loss at Anfield to Liverpool...fackers) on that frigid morning at the ass crack of dawn (7:30 if I remember correctly), Alan played a key part of me joining the squad full time.  He came over an introduced himself, and immediately started bitching about Chelsea and their lack of pace....and this was before the match even started!  He was a die-hard fanatical supporter and one of those who were never satisfied with the team until they reached their full potential.
Alan Uglow Backyard at Nevada Smiths Halftime during a Chelsea Match 4-26-08
As soon as the ball was in play he would be on the fellas from the front of the bar yelling "Wake Up Chelsea!" in full fighting spirit.  It would always bring a smile to my face and would inevitably lead to his own song which the NY Blues would sing to him often:  "There's only 1 Billy Idol!" the man's passion was through and through; bone solid.  He was a fighter and even through his sickness he was a tough SOB.   
There is no doubt he will be missed, when Chelsea won the double last year we were ecstatic and even though Alan was too ill to make it to the bar some of the Blues went down to watch the matches with him.  The rest of us called him and sang up a storm over the was always a blast to know he was joyous with victory after often wanting so much more from the squad.  When he was in good spirits, you knew it was a special day.

It is almost fitting that he passed away right at the end of the transfer season that saw his beloved team sign two new fixtures that will hopefully get us out of the doldrums of this horrific winter...David Luiz and "El Nino" himself Fernando Torres.

With rebirth on the horizon for the squad we bid Alan Uglow a fond fairwell...through his paintings he will be remembered by the world, but through his undying love of Chelsea FC he will be remembered by us NY Blues.  You will be missed chap, but never forgotten...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Album Review - Kermit Ruffins - Happy Talk

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
Kermit Ruffins
Happy Talk
*** and 1/2 out of *****

Happy Talk is a good way to describe the sound Kermit manages to blow out the face of his horn on the first release since his audience has grown via his role as himself on HBO's Treme.  Ruffins seems to have jumped at the chance to broaden his appeal, while keeping what makes him a vital artist that links New Orleans past with it's present.  Employing orchestra's and seasoned players to match his comfort zone BBQ Swingers he digs in and tightens up at times doing an admirable job with classics.  His smile seems to constantly emanate from the trumpet as Kermit plays standards and a few of his own compositions with ease grace and a certain laid back charm even if it takes a few songs to fully shine through.  "Panama" and "La Vie En Rose" are too buttoned up for the man with the horn, and while showing some classical charm they remain restrained and maybe a different tracking order would have helped out.

The albums centerpiece and overwhelming highlight is the 9 minute "If I Only Had A Brain" which incorporates calypso rhythm's and vibes playing up the daffy charm Kermit possess and shows off on the regular.  Herlin Riley's percussion here is flawless, loose enough to be inventive but never sloppy, he is the MVP with a brain.  After this midpoint shining moment the album clearly picks up steam with "I Got a Treme Woman" and scurries around with a jiving "Shine".  Happy Talk culminates with Ruffins blowing, grooving and singing an ode via "New Orleans (My Home Town)" which fits the traditional jazz innovator perfectly.  A foot in the past a head in the future and a mouth that manages to convey it all with his trumpet playing and band leading, Happy Talk finds Kermit doing what he does best.              

Happy talk is a joyous album that makes it hard to feel down during.  It does feel a bit too constrained at the start but ends with enough vitality and flair to pump up the feelings.  Kermit as an artists is a great link back to Louis Armstrong and a host of others and is critical to today's scene having invented Rebirth Brass Band, but having seen him a few times this album can feel a bit too stuffy at times compared to his looser rhythmic playing with the BBQ Swingers. 

I feel Happy Talk has a bit of a commercial vibe, (or maybe it's just simply too structured) but that's not bad at all, especially if more people get into this great music.  Check out some tunes:
"Panama" not my favorite from the disk, but a BOOSH-tastic video.

 Live at the Louisiana Music Factory (I caught him there in 2010)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Hold Steady Live 1-31-11 Pics and Video

The Hold Steady played their 8th Anniversary show in the same building they played their first.  Then it was called North Six, today it is the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and the band was fired up.  Playing sans piano twisted the songs into a more rocky vibe then past live experiences with the band and allowed Tad Kubler to really flex his riffs.  Here are some pics and video (another video to come soon) from the show, click on the images to expand.
Openers The Gay Blades:

The Hold Steady: