Top 20 Albums & Orphan Songs 2014 – Rockin’ & Rollin’ Dentist

As a 60+ year old white male, I tend to like 60s type pop/rock music, 70s progressive and guitar blues/rock which isn’t the hot trend anymore – but there is still some good stuff out there if you look for it.  This year includes some more current music styles (but no hip-hop) so I must be softening or getting senile.  So many of the newer songs have the same exact overamped drum sound with quieter verses followed by shouted choruses – let’s see some variety next year! Most can be found on youtube or other music sites if you want to sample any of the following (my suggestion is in Bold) – so here goes:

1.Robin Gibb – 50 St. Catherine’s Drive – non-disco BeeGees is some of my fave music, but as solo artists the brothers Gibb were never quite as good.  This posthumous album is the exception – excellent autobiographical and tuneful songs.  There is a bittersweet ache to some of the lyrics especially the final demo to “Sydney” where he sings about happier days with his brothers – this was meant for a future BeeGees album that never was.  “The Days Of Wine & Roses” “Avalanche” “Sorry”

2.Nick Magnus – n’monix – classic 70s style progressive rock album from long-time Steve Hackett (Genesis) keysman and the best tracks certainly harken back to Genesis or ELP with mellotron and dynamic bombast mixed with gentleness.  Re-Genesis vocalist Tony Patterson sings “Time”“Kombat Kid”

3.Bob Seger – Ride Out – a fun mix of styles with classic rockers like “Detroit Made” “Ride Out” and the Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute “Hey Gypsy” with old SRV sideman Reese Wynans on organ.  Some fine Americana turns up too with “Adam & Eve” and the old Steve Earle rocker “The Devil’s Right Hand”.

4.Temples – Sun Structures – the growth of kids playing late 60s psychedelia has been fun to watch with these Brits head of class this year.  Sorta Syd era Floyd leavened with early BeeGees harmonies + jangly guitars and whiny mellotron.  Like an old Curt Boettcher Sagittarius album with a hint of the Zombies.  Very hooky though can’t discern the lyrics. “A Question Isn’t Answered” “Keep In The Dark” “Shelter Song”

5.The Primitives – Spin-O-Rama – UK popsters best known for the 89 track “Crash” sung with the cute candy floss girly vocals of Tracy Tracy.  Very catchy tunes include the title track and “Petals”.

6.Neil Diamond – Melody Road – loved early stuff like “Cherry Cherry” – winced during his schlocky big hit era.  Quite a surprise resurgence on his last few.  The title song describes things well as the songs are instantly memorable.  “First Time” “In Better Days” “Something Blue” woulda been hits 45 years ago.

7.Rival Sons – Great Western Valyrie – the print is so small on the jacket who knew this was the title?  Long Beach, CA band that combines the best of Led Zep, Bad Co, etc. and with the classic pipes of Jay Buchanan over a hard rockin’ band that growls  (though some of the trax are interestingly mellow).  Needed a better album cover to sell the goods.  “Open My Eyes” is a classic Zep clone. “Play The Fool” “Secret”

8.The Goastt (The Ghost Of A Sabretooth Tiger) – Midnight Sun – basically Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl.  Very early Floyd psych with interesting lyrics and classic swirly headphones production.  Lennon’s previous albums have been okay, but this is a big leap forward showing his artistic skills on the cover and musical prowess often as nearly a one-man band (“Animals” “Moth To A Flame”).  One assumes it would have sold better with a mention of Lennon in the title. “Great Expectations

9.Midge Ure – Fragile – the title describes his vocals to a tee while the music is a tad closer to progressive than the synth pop of his old band Ultravox.  The title track could be a Barclay James Harvest mellotron burner while “Star Crossed” would be great at a laserium.  “Become” is closest to old Ultravox.

10.The Pierces – Creation – doesn’t rise to the level of You & I from 2012 but the vocal harmony blend of sisters Allison & Catherine is still amazingly haunting.  This import is mostly gauzy bombastic pop.  They are from the US but only have success in the UK which is a pity.  “Believe In Me” “Kings” “Come Alive”

11.The Intersphere – Relations In The Unseen – German prog hard rock band though they sound more UK.  Some songs have a more current guitar rock sound but tracks like “The Ones We Never Knew” or “Out Of Phase” have a more classic 70s progressive feel with great drumming and layers of sound.

12.Merrymouth – Wenlock Hill – indie import side project from Simon Fowler of Ocean Colour Scene (check out their albums too, kids).  More acoustic and baroque (“Blink Of An Eye”) than the jangly pop of OCS but still Beatley at times – mainly the title track and “That Man” which sound sorta like 67 era fabs.

13.Train – Bulletproof Picasso – not their best, but still good 2000 era guitar based pop/rock that flies in the face of today’s charts so heavy on Hip Hop dance beats.  “Angel In Blue Jeans” “Son Of A Prison Guard”

14.Wunder Wunder – Everything Infinite – the best trax feel like the uncluttered lazy pop of classic Fleetwood Mac leavened with heavy echo.  “Midnight Hours” “Coastline” “Wonderful Way” very retro.

15.The Strange Familiar – The Day The Light Went Out – Ohio indie with striking Adele-like smoky vocals and thoughtful lyrics – sound like perfect TV drama background music.  “Gone” has that hooky drum stomp too. “Surrender”

 

16.Gramercy Arms – The Seasons Of Love – not really a band but a musical collective from other bands – lead by Dave Derby.  Can sound like Springsteen (“The Night Is Your Only Friend”) or Lennon (“Thin” “Yours Untruly”) but also feel good pop – “Winter Light”.

17.The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers – their best album of retro sounding power pop.  Sorta feel like Blondie with retro synths at times but album still inconsistent.  “Brill Bruisers” just hits you over the head with the great pop layers of vocals. “Champions Of Red Wine” “Dancehall Domine” “Fantasy Fools”

18.Bellowhead – Revival – Brit trad folk with less electricity than Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span (uses tuba instead of bass) and perhaps less variety (could use a second-vocalist).  Nice sea shanties and folk.  The best songs are on disc 1, but the deluxe version is worth it.  “Gosport Nancy” ”Roll Alabama”

19.The Empty Hearts – The Empty Hearts – a power pop supergroup with lead voice Wally Palmar of the Romantics et al.  Decent rockin’ stompers harkening back to 79 skinny tie bands with some Who mixed in.  “Soul Deep” “Loud & Clear” “Perfect World”

20.Jukebox The Ghost – Jukebox The Ghost – at times reminds me of UK pop band the Feeling with pleasant pop voice, catchy songs and the added big drum sound so common today.  “When The Lights Get Long” “Girl” “Made For Ending”

 

Best Orphan Songs 2014 – these songs are downloads, singles, EPs, isolated tracks on hits LPs mostly.

1.Paul McCartney – Hope For The Future – admittedly a bit of a sentimental choice, but still a great power ballad from an unconventional source – the videogame Destiny.  Of late it has come out as a single download and 12″, but for such a classic Paul song it deserved to be on a proper album and not get lost.

2.Brian Setzer – Let’s Shake – by far the best song on his Rockabilly Riot! album which is made up of all originals that mostly don’t live up to the great rockabilly of his past.  Shows great musical chops by recording backing live with Jerry Lee Lewis style piano and a shouted unison “let’s shake” chorus.

3.Sheppard – Geronimo – a worldwide hit from Australia (#1 there) that hasn’t really caught on here, but should have.  Stomp tribal drums with shouted simple lyric “bombs away” and “say Geronimo”.

4.Blondfire – Waves – interesting song with the same pounding drums heard everywhere since Adele.  Gentle female vocals and strummed acoustic guitar with synths and heavy echo. (Young Heart)

5.OneRepublic – Love Runs Out – Colorado Springs band takes their 2013 album Native and makes it better by adding songs including this great #15 hit made from piano, claps and drum pounds mostly.

6.The Vintage Caravan – Midnight Meditation – young Icelandic power trio taking Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” driving riff and morphing it a bit (Voyage) – and hey kids, there is even cowbell in the mix!

7.Jim Suhler – I Declare – his new Panther Burn album has a few good songs, but is not as good as his others with Monkey Beat.  Great rockin’ blues song with nasty harp from Kim Wilson of the Fab Tbirds.

8.Walk The Moon – Shut Up & Dance – same m.o. as most chart pop/rock songs today – drum stomp, muted verses then shouted unison chorus.  Catchy tune and clever lyrics. (Talking Is Hard)

9.Asia – Valkyrie – classic arena-ready power-prog rock-ballad in the same mold as songs like “Go”.

10.Dum Dum Girls – Little Minx – a female use of the same driving “Paranoid” riff but not as heavy.

11.Kongos – Come With Me Now – S. African brothers – the sons of John Kongos  of 1971’s “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” – song with a stompin’ tribal beat and accordion riff – huge hit this year finally in US.

12.American Authors – Best Day Of My Life – a decent album but a better song (hit #11 US) with an Americana feel (banjo, mandolin) and the usual loud percussion with chanted chorus.  (What A Life)

13.Thompson – Right – the talented family lead by Richard & Linda have their first family release titled appropriately Family.  This countryish rocker features son Teddy.

14.Andy Burrows – All This I’ve Heard Before – Fall Together Again is the 2nd solo CD from the drummer with We Are Scientists.  Song sounds like Klaatu singing a Beach Boys track from Pet Sounds.

15.Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – Canyon Moon – same loud drums as current vogue but with powerpop chorus – from his self-titled album. He was originally with the group Something Corporate.

16.Bryan Adams – She Knows Me – the only original song (and bright spot) on his rather dreary covers album Tracks of My Years.  This one reunites him with old writing partner Jim Vallance who did all his hits back in the day.  Classic sounding arena midtempo rock track.

17.Lenny Kravitz – I’m A Believer – not the Monkees’ song, but a rockin 70s glammy track with claps and shouts of “HEY” to spice things up.

18.Billy J. Kramer – You’re Right, I’m Wrong – strong almost glitter rocker from Liverpool 60s Beatles contemporary’s new album I Won The Fight.  Good to see him out on the road with other 60s Brits.

19.Joel Gion – Yes – another neo-psychedelic album (with a fun title for Yellow Submarine fans) – Apple Bonkers (even shows a chalk drawing of one on the album cover).  Can’t decipher the lyrics unfortunately.

20.The Black Keys – Gotta Get Away – their new album (Turn Blue) didn’t do much for me, but tucked at the very end is an almost Rolling Stones-like rock track to make up for the dancey mishmash of the rest.

Bonus Categories

Most overdue upgraded reissue

The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround & Percy – the original cd of this album was awful sounding plus the numbers didn’t even match the tracks.  Finally, this 1970 classic got the bonus upgrade with liner notes, bonus tracks and the addition of underrated film album Percy.  “Apeman (alternate version)

Best album by a family member (sister Cheryl):

CK Brown – Believe – very positive messages and very professional sounding thanks to Jim Ratts, Ernie Martinez, Freebo and Robert Tepper.  Enjoy the Jim Messina cover “Follow Your Dreams”. Check out her website for more copies: ckbrown.com

Advertisements

My 2nd 10 Album Purchases

It was so much fun revisiting the beginnings of my record collecting sickness in the first blog post, that I figured a second dip into the 1960s couldn’t hurt.  Here are the next 10 albums I bought back when it actually took some debating what to spend meager resources on (or at least cajole the grandparents in to buying):

11.Paul Revere & The Raiders – Here They Come!

Having seen these guys every day after school on the show Where The Action Is and having already bought their newest LP Just Like Us!, this album jumped out of the rack at Broomfield’s drugs.  The hair was alot shorter and the guy playing bass didn’t seem to be Fang, but what the heck the back cover talked about the tv show and had a jokey band history so it had to be good.  Later I figured out this was a new issue of an older album with newer liner notes that didn’t mention bassist “Doc” Holliday.  Side 2 was a bit tame, but holy cow – side 1 rocked like a mother in a pseudo-live setting.  To this day, it’s hard to top the instrumental blast of opener “You Can’t Sit Down” or Lindsay’s scream on “Oo Poo Pah Doh”.

12.Herman’s  Hermits – The Best Of…

Getting this many hits in one place plus a cover that folded open was a real deal back in early 1966 (the LP came out late in 65 but who had the cash?).  “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” or the guilty pleasure of “I’m Henry, VIII I Am” but my fave was “Just A Little Bit Better” which still reminds me of Buddy Holly with Peter Noone’s a-ho-ho hiccups.

greatest-hits-cover-385x24013.The Dave Clark Five – Greatest Hits

My fave group at the time (and you had to certainly pick a fave so you could argue with your pals who was better – The Beatles, the DC5 whatever –  pretty silly) and finally all the hits in one place.  “Glad All Over” “Bits & Pieces” and even the ballad “Because” was at least tolerable as a respite from the rock mayhem.  Good looking cover too.  Epic records came in a plastic bag you had to “unzip” to get the record out which was different than the other paper inner sleeves, by the way.

14.The Beatles – Yesterday And Today

It took awhile, but the world’s biggest group finally hooked me with the rocker “Day Tripper” and “Act Naturally”.  The album was a Capitol records creation but it was a good one – “Drive My Car” “Nowhere Man” and even “Yesterday”.  Brought it home and had an “discussion” with my dad about buying a record by a bunch of “drug users”.  Well, the drug part never infected me, but Beatlemania sure did.  Years later I read about the banned cover under the outer picture so I tried to steam mine and managed to really mess it up royally – wish I could go back in time and stop myself.

15.The Dave Clark Five – Try Too Hard

Ah, but it was back to old stand-bys the DC5 for an album that is still one of my all-time faves even though the hit wasn’t huge and the length could barely hit 20 minutes.  Great “wall of echo” songs like “I Never Will” and “Looking In”. For once buying the mono version worked as years later I heard the abomination that was the reprocessed stereo – ugh.

16.The Kinks – Greatest Hits!

Another British Invasion band with a hits package and it mostly smoked.  “You Really Got Me” “All Day & All Of The Night” “Till The End Of The Day” are just a few of Ray Davies’ classics.  The Kinks are for sure the most underrated of all the great bands from that era.  Plus the package again looked great (nifty flying V guitar, Dave) down to the Reprise riverboat logo.  Once again, buying the mono LP and saving a buck worked out as the original trax weren’t in stereo.

17.Yardbirds – Over Under Sideways Down

During fall break, sis and I were farmed out the grandparents house in Ft. Collins and thankfully grandmom offered to buy me 2 albums.  This is the first one and frankly you didn’t need any more than nasty title track with Jeff Beck’s otherworldly guitar.  Epic records sounded good – loud with alot of punch.  Crisp treble and bone-rattling bass on most songs.  Some were pretty weird (“Hot House Of Omagarshid”?) but “Lost Woman” and “Turn Into Earth” were good plus the simple haunting piano track “Farewell” was one of the first ballads I liked.

18.The Cyrkle – Red Rubber Ball

The second album thanks to grandmom (we miss you!) had two hits (the title track with memorable calliope organ plus “Turn-Down Day”) on it though the band looked suspiciously clean-cut.  At least they were named by John Lennon and had the luck of Paul Simon to give them great pop songs like the title track and the gentle “Cloudy”.  “Big, Little Woman” and “How Can I Leave Her” were actually pretty good album filler.

19.The Monkees

Oh my, the tv show, the album featuring “Last Train To Clarksville” and the group sure hit me and my generation like a ton of bricks.  They were funny, looked great and had fantastic songs.  Other than perhaps “Gonna Buy Me A Dog” which was at least goofy, the album was great pop from end to end.  And thanks Mike Nesmith for my first exposure to something resembling country music in “Papa Gene’s Blues” and “Sweet Young Thing”.  Hey, R & R Hall Of Fame – why no induction?

20.Gary Lewis & The Playboys – Golden Greats

Yet another hits album as this was the best way to maximize your return on investment.  Again, a nice folding album cover and all the goodies from “This Diamond Ring” to “Green Grass” and thanks to Snuff Garrett they sounded great.  Or maybe they didn’t – one of the only albums I bought in stereo at the time which was a huge mistake as the mix was horrendous with all the vocals in one speaker and all the instruments in the other which sounded terrible.

An Intro To Me

Howdy and welcome to my first blog post.  Having done some professional writing for nearly 30 years (notably Goldmine, Discoveries, Journal Of The Colorado Dental Assoc., Roundup Of Denver Posse Of Westerners) , it has been hard watching print journalism fade hence this attempt to at least create an outlet for what I enjoy – music journalism.  As a friend once said, it makes no sense to write about music – you need to actually hear the music.  Thankfully there are a number of outlets for hearing music so the hope is you might find something here of interest that might inspire you to go and sample a song or two.

As a child of the 50s and 60s I admit that you won’t see Beyonce reviews, but I also do try to stay up with cool current music that doesn’t get much ink.  Power pop, blues rock, progressive, monkey-beat rock and roll – that’s most of what you’ll find.  As a first post, I figured it might be fun to revisit the first 10 albums I bought (the order is when they were acquired, not when they were released).  It took a major commitment to buy an album at $2.99 (mono – stereo? no way at a buck more) when you could get a 45 for 59 cents.  Not to mention that in small-town Colorado the only places to buy a record were from a small rack at the grocery store or the drugstore (and they were mostly 101 Strings ennui).  Heck, we didn’t even own a record player till Santa came in 1965 so the first records were heard at friend’s houses (thanks Rick Steele for playing me Ray Stevens).

Our household was Mancini, Mantovani and showtunes.  Rock and roll first came in the brain from hearing Brenda Lee’s “Dum Dum” on some car radio in 1961 then later via an $8 transistor radio plugged into one ear while reading Mad Magazine under the covers with a flashlight when you were supposed to be asleep.  It was reinforced on the road to Boy Scout camp-outs when some kindly parent would tune in to Denver’s tiger radio – 950 KIMN, however owning any of the music was out of the question…  Till an innocent phonecall to Bill Holley, the night creature on KIMN put me on-air in a “name-it-and-claim-it” contest.  When asked what record I wanted, I mentioned my fave from the boss tiger survey at that time – “Gloria” by Them.

When the record came, it looked SO cool with a green and yellow parrot on the label in a nifty sleeve.

 I was hooked – thousands of records later it is a sickness that can’t be cured.  So here are my first albums.Conspicuous by their absence – the Beatles, now my fave band all-time – go figure:

 1.The Rolling Stones – Out Of Our Heads

What a great album.  With the great singles “The Last Time” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” you already got bang for your buck, but the rest isn’t just filler.  Heck, how many local bands added “I’m All Right” as their work-out show closer back in 1965?  Great covers of Don Covay (“Mercy, Mercy”) and Marvin Gaye (“Hitch Hike”) too.

2.Freddie & The Dreamers – Do The Freddie

Own up you kids of 1965, you did the Freddie!  Dopey Brit invasion pop music and the first group I ever saw in concert.   Freddie wasn’t Mick and the Dreamers weren’t the Stones, but well crafted and frankly a guilty pleasure as I can still sing all the songs (oh the shame).   “A Little You” was a great single and should have been a bigger hit, however.

 3.Paul Revere & The Raider – Just Like Us!

Mom and dad joined the Columbia Record Club and let me order this smokin’ rocker by one of the greatest garage bands all-time (are you listening R&R Hall O’ Shame?).  Frankly I thought the revolutionary war outfits were cool, so there!  The second group I ever saw in concert.  Not too many better opening trax on LP than “Steppin’ Out” with snotty vocals from the great Mark Lindsay.  Everybody sang lead and while most of the songs were covers, they were good covers.

4.The Beach Boys – Little Deuce Coupe

A gift from friend Ron Stewart – and a fine gift at that as again all the trax are great plus the car picture on the cover is darn cool.  “409” “Shut Down” plus the title track were great singles while “Our Car Club” “No-Go Showboat” etc. made for a qualtiy car related album.

5.The Dave Clark Five – Having A Wild Weekend

Thanks to the Columbia Record Club again – quickly became my fave group at the time.  Heavy bass and drums behind one of the greatest rock singers of all-time – Mike Smith (and one of the nicest musicians I ever had the pleasure to talk to). The title track blasted out of the speakers with classic rock and roll sax and piano mix that at the time put them way ahead of the Beatles who just seemed too tame for yours truly (at the time).  The lead single “Catch Us If You Can” was great plus there were drivin’ instrumentals in “On The Move” and “No Stopping” that other groups didn’t do at the time.

6.The Beach Boys – Summer Days (and Summer Nights

Once again, you only bought an album if you got value for your cash and this one featured two great singles in “California Girls” and “Help Me Rhonda” (featuring my Al Jardine who at one time wanted to be a Dentist – yeah Al!).  As a kid, side 1 was the winner with mostly rockers like “Salt Lake City” and “The Girl From New York City”.

7.The Dave Clark Five – I Like It Like That

Rock and roll was alot about look and this cover pulled me in.  Sharp outfits and a group of guys who looked like they were ready for action (except Dave – where are your drums?).  That Vox Continental organ still seems cool.  After the first 3 rockers, however, the album really let this youngster down with way too many ballads and filler.  Only 1 hot instrumental in “Pumping” and at 1:37 the rockin’ title track was a bit on the short side.

8.Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass – !!Going Places!!

Bought as a gift to give my sister Cheryl, this is a guilty pleasure for sure (and my third group to see in concert in Ft. Collins).  Catchy instrumentals galore, however, in “Spanish Flea” and “Tijuana Taxi”.  Who knew he wasn’t Hispanic?

9.The Ventures – Where The Act!on Is

A group that friend Micky Watkins turned me on to and the greatest instrumental band of all-time.  Sorry T-Bones, but these guys’ version of “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” is far superior.  Again, this album just flat out rocked with good versions of “Lies” and “She’s Just My Style” plus the Mosrite guitar on the back side looked spiffy.

10.The Rolling Stones – Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)

Talk about bang for your buck, this sucker had it all – cool looking band (sorry Mick, but Brian Jones had the look), fold open package with several pages of pix and great music.  “Not Fade Away” was the first song I learned on guitar.