On August 2nd, Bo Ramsey is going to release his first new album since 2008’s fantastic and understated Fragile. Titled Wildwood Calling, the album is 13 tracks of instrumental guitar backed by a band which includes in addition to Bo, JT Bates (The Pines, Marijuana Deathsquads) on drums and percussion, Marty Christensen from Bo’s original Backsliders band on bass and son Alex Ramsey of The Pines on piano and keyboards. The album– which is on Pieta Brown‘s new “underground” record label Lustre Records— was recorded over two days in April at The Kitchen in Iowa City, and was mixed and mastered by BJ Burton, who is house engineer for Justin Vernon’s April Base studio, and also worked the boards on Brown’s Paradise Outlaw and her EP of outtakes Drifters.
I’ll be writing a review of the album for Little Village in the coming weeks. I’ll link to it here when that goes up.
It’s no secret that the guys in Cedar Falls band TWINS are fans of Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds and owe a little of their guitar pop swagger to the groundwork Lowe and Edmunds laid down in their various projects as solo artists, together in Rockpile and their production work for just about everyone in the late 70’s and early 80’s (Lowe’s work with Elvis Costello is my favorite period of his).
As a tribute, TWINS have recorded a cover of “I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)” a song that has been a part of every wedding reception I’ve ever attended. This cover is a bonus download for anyone who pre-orders the new TWINS album Square America which drops on July 1st! Be sure to catch TWINS with Volcano Boys at The Mill on 7/1 for the Square America release show! $8 Cover. Deets HERE.
A bit of trivia: Nick Lowe wrote “I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)” and the version we usually hear is his 1984 recording. That studio version has Huey Lewis and the News as the backing band, with Mr. Lewis providing the distinctive harmonica honking. The version that TWINS have done is closer to the sped-up one that Dave Edmunds recorded in 1977.
We’ve made it through another year of music. 2015 was another year of the music industry trying to figure out the future. Heavy hitters like Taylor Swift and Adele removed their music from online streaming services like Spotify– which might be interpreted as an ego move on both parts. Jay-Z’s Tidal enjoyed a bit of press due to Prince releasing two albums exclusively on it, though I still don’t know anyone who is using it. Adele’s last-quarter release of her much-anticipated 25 album has just surpassed 5 million copies sold. There is a lot of debate about the significance of this as it applies to the general health of the industry. Ultimately, though, I don’t think you can use this as any kind of barometer– certainly not an indicator of “rebounding.” One thing is for certain, though, her 50+ date tour in 2016 will be the top grossing.
In other re-warmed news, a reformed Grateful Dead with Trey Anastasio as “Jerry” played some high-grossing shows in LA and Chicago showing that baby boomers and Gen X’ers are willing to shell out lots of money to recapture even a brief glimpse of their youth. The shows seemed like a fitting celebration of 50 years and a kind of closure to the promise of the remainder of the band getting back together. The following “Dead and Friends” tour with John Mayer as “Jerry” has been benefiting from the exposure and in my opinion are an improved version of the Dead. His vocals and guitar work are top-notch and add a real polish to the proceedings.
Looking this list over, it shows that I spent most of 2015 listening to local artists. Iowa has really been stepping up its game for music and we’ve got some of the best music around. There were a lot of notable releases outside of Iowa, but I just didn’t find myself putting any of them on repeat. It says a lot– you don’t have to go far from your back yard to get world-class music.
Looking over other Best of Lists, I see some albums that I listened to and thought were good, but they just didn’t stick with me: The Decemberists – What A Wonderful World, What A Terrible World, Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell, Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear, Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly, Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color.
Here is the list in no particular order–
Dickie – Self Titled : Dick Prall moved back to Iowa and started a new project with Kristina Priceman crafting a wonderful string-wrapped package of retro-inspired pop rock. Somewhere between the Beatles, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly sits this collection of autobiographical songs with heart.
Younger – Self Titled : This one from the new Iowa City band Younger was a late discovery for me, but no less brillant. Former members of The Wandering Bears and Emperors Club have put out a Riot Grrl-ish album that people are drawing comparisons to The Breeders and Bikini Kill. To me it sounds more like Pylon and Throwing Muses. In any event, a fantastic record that I’ll be spinning a lot in 2016, I expect.
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit : Yep. More edgy Riot Grrlish rawk. On almost everyone’s list for 2015.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats – Self Titled : I’ve been a fan of Nathaniel Rateliff ever since I saw him on the Daytrotter Barnstormer shows back in 2010 along with Delta Spirit. I’m a sucker for his well-crafted folk albums to date, but his transformation into an R&B powerhouse and seeing the nearly-universal embrace of it is pretty unexpected. Fantastic record and the return of Stax Records!
Holy White Hounds – Sparkle Sparkle : Des Moines band Holy White Hounds are gaining momentum by word of mouth. These guys make some pretty fantastic rock coupled with a great live show. Kind of 90’s throwback metal/grunge reinvented for the new century.
Phil Cook – Southland Mission : Hiss Golden Messenger sideman, member of Megafaun, producer and all-around great guy Phil Cook releases his first solo album with him singing. Due to a stupid security issue at Eaux Claires Festival this year, I missed his set, though it’s on YouTube. Rootsy, bluesy gospel-influenced boogie rock. I could put this album on every day and it puts the same dumb grin on my face every time.
Tom Jessen – Hunting Season : Former Iowa musician Tom Jessen released his first album in years– and that pent-up potential created what has to be the best snapshot of current American dystopia ever. Pretty damn fantastic portrait of how fucked up things are. LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM.
Charlie Parr – Stumpjumper : Speaking of Phil Cook, he produced the latest album from Minnesota retro blues and folk historian Charlie Parr. He was picked up by Red House Records which is a good home for him. This is the first album he’s done with a full band and the fleshing out of his sound really benefits the proceedings. “Over The Red Cedar” gives me goosebumps every time I play it.
Calexico – Edge of the Sun : Calexico tends to swing back and forth between full-on Latin-influenced albums and albums that lean a little more towards Americana-rock. This one ends up being more the latter. For me, I welcome the changes the band goes through– continually pushing the identity of what Calexico is.
Ryan Adams – 1989 : I did listen to this one a lot as soon as it appeared. It’s a really great album, but it seems like it is just an extension of last years self titled release– which isn’t bad at all. I like it, but I just about didn’t include it on the list because, for me anyway, Ryan Adams is a complete musician and songwriter, so I prefer to have more complete work rather than covers. I suppose some of this feeling is due to my relative unawareness of Taylor Swift’s blockbuster album it’s based on.
Dagmar – Afterlight : I can’t say enough about this Iowa duo. Atmospheric and sublime harmonies with unique counterpoint and rhythm. Jawdroppingly gorgeous album– somewhere between Philip Glass and Sufjan Stevens sits this baroque choral folk.
Pieta Brown – Drifters EP : The “lost” tracks from 2014’s fantastic Paradise Outlaw album. Brown is using this to launch her own “underground” imprint Lustre Records. Includes a remix from Justin Vernon!
The Pines – Pasture: Folk Songs EP : A kind of surprise drop from The Pines this year in the form of an EP of covers from Joe Price, Mance Lipscomb, Iris Dement, Mason Jennings & Greg Brown. No new ground broken here, but is a tribute to the songs that The Pines have included in their sets over the years.
Jim Viner’s Incredible B3 Band – COMANGO! : Jim Viner– Iowa drummer extrordinaire– assembled a collection of musician friends to create a retro B3-driven album with influences from The Meters and Booker T and the MGs. A really fun album that recalls the pre-Diplomette-vocals days of The Diplomats of Solid Sound. Destined to be part of the soundtrack to a cable TV show near you!
Kamasi Washington – The Epic – If I have any complaint about this sprawling masterpiece of Jazz, it’s that it can’t reasonably be digested in one sitting. But, if you’re willing to dedicate the time, this album is impressive in its diversity. I consider myself a fan of Jazz, but I don’t listen to much contemporary Jazz as I haven’t found much that really keeps my attention. I hope this signals a new generation of jazz artists who are willing to explore and innovate.
Thundercat – The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam – Thundercat works with Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington, and all three worked on the Kendrick Lamar album How To Pimp A Butterfly — noted for its adventuresome approach to the music. His short album (16 minutes, but Flying Lotus said it’s an album, not an EP) from this year featured him front-and-center singing and leading most of the music with his jazz and funk bass riffs.
Aero Flynn – Self Titled – Justin Vernon raves about Josh Scott as a songwriter. After a lot of years not performing music, he comes back with Aero Flynn. Atmospheric and swirling it sounds like a distant cousin of Radiohead when they made more straightforward songs (OK Computer, maybe).
Beth Bombara – Self Titled – Beth is back with her most polished and accomplished record to date. She continues her shuffling, pining folk and country. Dusty and awesome.
Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free : Brilliant record– literary and scenic songwriting. Isbell continues to impress with one of the great records from this year– almost unanimously agreed.
Lyrics Born – Real People – Lyric Born has never been shy to work with live band. He did one tour with a full band behind him (documented on the Overnite Encore Live album), he contributed vocals to the 2007 Galactic album From the Corner to the Block. His new album Real People includes members of Galactic as well as a who’s who of New Orleans musicians including Ivan Neville, Corey Henry, Trombone Shorty, the Revivalists’ David Shaw and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Typically upbeat and tongue in cheek the album is a funk overload. Great record– not sure why more people aren’t calling it out (see what I did there?).
At the time of his sixth solo album The Seeds We Sow in 2011, Lindsey Buckingham is able to frame his life as a musician and family man in the context of his journey thus far. He attributes his peace to two things. The first is his personal life, “To finally meet someone and to have the family thing happen, that’s been a real gift,” he says. The other is musical. “If there is a level of contentedness that I’ve arrived at, part of it is because I think in the last three or four years what I experienced during the solo albums and then what I experienced on the last Fleetwood Mac tour I felt like I had come to a point where there was so much foundation that I had built for myself making incremental steps forward as a musician and as an artist.”
Certainly, the last few years have been very productive for Buckingham, starting with an out-of-the-blue solo album in 2006, a derailed follow up that morphed into a new studio album for a re-ignited Fleetwood Mac, a re-imagining of the derailed follow up in 2008, a live album and then The Seeds We Sow in 2011.
The Seeds We Sow represents Buckingham taking full control over his career handling all of the recording, production and also releasing himself. The album is a very up-close-and-personal perspective of Buckingham at times sounding like a really well-produced home demo, which I suppose it really is.
I consider Lindsey Buckingham to be a personal musical hero. His distinct sound and contribution to the canon of rock music with his solo work as well as his years in Fleetwood Mac have impacted me at a level that might be chromosomal. I started listening to music on my own around the time of Rumours and his music has been with me ever since. I have been fortunate to see him with the Mighty Mac three times in my life but never solo, so the news that he will be performing at the wonderful Englert Theatre in Iowa City on Labor Day Weekend is exciting news! He will be performing at 8PM on Sunday, September 2rd.
The presale for the show started on Tuesday for Friends of the Englert, and general sale for the show starts on Friday, June 22nd at 1PM. Tickets are $55 for Tier One Tickets and $45 for Tier Two.
Click Here for more information about Lindsey Buckingham at The Englert in Iowa City, including how to order tickets.
Click Here to find out about how you can be a Friend of the Englert and get in on great pre-sale deals and other perks.
Ms. Pieta Brown is bringing her “artist in residence” show called “This Land Is Your Music” back to The Mill Restaurant in Iowa City on April 14th, 2012. In a similar fashion to the last two the show will feature Pieta as the headliner with other artists with local ties opening and a gallery exhibit.
This year, the event has been condensed into one show– but it is a powerhouse bill shared with The Pines and is a weekend show. Pieta’s set will be with a backing band that she is calling The Sawdust Boys– which is what she called her backing band for her recent tour of Australia. The Sawdust Boys are JT Bates and Michael Rossetto, who are conveniently also part of The Pines. I’m sure we’ll see Bo Ramsey as part of one or both band’s sets. Bo stopped by somewhat unannounced for the recent Pines show at CSPS and brought the house down with an unexpected solo song!
In the past Pieta has used these shows as a way to work out new material in a live setting– The Mill is a long-standing familial venue for the Ramsey’s and Brown’s and their associated friends. The audience for Pieta’s shows are by far some of the warmest and welcoming I’ve seen and impromptu sit-ins by friends and family are par for the course.
The month of January was named after the Roman goddess Janus who had two faces. Like the goddess, January is the month of the year when we both look back on the previous year that is over as well as ahead to the year coming up. I just posted my favorite releases for 2011— here is a list of releases that I’m looking forward to in 2012.
The Right Now – sophomore release (April 21st) – The Chicago R&B group The Right Now has had a pretty great run since their first album Carry Me Home came out in 2010 (which I was the Executive Producer on). They’ve played some pretty great headlining shows as well as opening for many of the bigger R&B acts touring. They flew out to L.A. in 2011 to work with Sergio Rios of Orgone at his studio for their 2nd album. Most of songs for this album have had their fair share of live workout and it shows– as someone who has seen the band a lot over the last year, the new songs have already become standards. The album will be released on Record Store Day.
Jeff Parker – Bright Light In Winter (February 2012) – The guitar-slinger for post rock fountainhead Tortoise is releasing his third solo album on Chicago Blues/Jazz label Delmark. Jeff Parker’s first solo record Like Coping was released on Delmark, with his second solo record The Relatives on Thrill Jockey. Credited as the Jeff Parker Trio, the album will feature Chris Lopes on bass and Chad Taylor on drums.
BTW: Don’t get me wrong– I’m a Thrill Jockey fanboy of the first order, but when was the last Jazz release from Thrill Jockey? (It was Chicago Underground Duo…) Thank goodness for Delmark, or we wouldn’t get these crucial releases from Chicago’s Jazz scene!
Garbage – title TBD (March or April 2012) – I reported on this previously. The new fifth album from Garbage is apparently in the can and mastered. There have been reports of an extensive tour in 2012 as well.
Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires (January 10) – After developing a big crush on the Tired Pony record, I was waiting expectantly for this album as it was produced by Jacknife Lee who also produced R.E.M.’s album Collapse Into Now, and with all of the ties to R.E.M.– Pete Buck was in Tired Pony, Michael Stipe helped Gary Lightbody get through some writer’s block– I was hoping for something great. The first song from Fallen Empires was “Called Out in the Dark” which has an unstoppable beat and build to it. I think that the promise of Tired Pony delivers on Fallen Empires.
Poliça – Give You The Ghost(February 14) – Technically, this album is already out as it is available as digital download from iTunes and Amazon. But, the debut album from GAYNGS lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh’s (formerly Channy Moon Casselle) new band Poliça will be officially released on CD and vinyl on producer Ryan Olson’s record label Totally Gross National Product on Valentine’s Day 2012, complete with sold-out shows at First Avenue. If you are a fan of the vocoder-laiden production of GAYNGS and Bon Iver (Mike Noyce from Bon Iver helps out on vocals on a couple of tracks, too), then you’ll love this album as much as I do! The lineup of two drummers, bass, vocals and keyboards gives the band a very unique sound, but also pretty reminiscent of 90’s trip hop from bands like Morcheeba, Sneaker Pimps and Portishead.
The Pines – Dark So Gold– (January 31) – The third album from The Pines on Red House Records find principal members Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt living in two different cities. This doesn’t prevent them from turning out their best collaboration, yet. I caught three of their shows back in May and their stop at CSPS in September and got to hear songs destined for Dark So Gold, so I was already looking forward to hearing the studio versions of “Cry Cry Crow” and “If By Morning.” Produced again by Benson’s dad, Bo Ramsey. The Pines are kicking off a tour at the beginning of February in support of the new album and will be making stops at CSPS again as well as The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.
Jacob Jones – Good Timin’ in Waynestown– (August?) –Jacob Jones is someone my wife and I met in Nashville during an overnight stop on a Monday night with Brendan of The Right Now. We were on a marathon road trip getting the mastering done and dropped off for the vinyl version of Carry Me Home. Brendan insisted we needed to hit this local-yokel bar called the 5 Spot where they have this over-the-top dance party on Monday nights. This dance party called “Keep on Movin'” is hosted by Jacob Jones and his label partner Reno Bo and consists of mostly 50’s and 60’s country, R&B, garage rock and blues– typically spun on a turntable (though sometimes from a MacBook). The drinks are cheap, the folks are friendly and the floor is packed. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most memorable events we’ve been to, and certainly one of the high-points of the trip.
In addition to purveying this party, Jacob is also a singer/songwriter with a couple of pretty great Americana records under his belt. I introduced blogger Amber Valentine to his music and she wrote this really great review of his last release, which is a free download. When I was pinging folks for releases I reached out to Jacob and he told me about his 2012 release, Good Timin’ in Waynestown which is inspired by the 5 Spot Monday nights! “Good Timin’ In Waynetown” is about the good times. plain and simple,” Jacob told me in a recent conversation, “The songs are for dancing. drop the needle and get to work. The songs are filled with huge sounds of New Orleans and Nashville, Memphis and Mussel Sholes. They are about the finer things in this world like love and having good friends, that’s it, plain and simple.” Indeed, based on the couple of rough mixes he sent, this album has a big sound somewhere between Ray Charles, Chris Isaak, and Lyle Lovett. This release is going to come out on vinyl, too, so that is really exciting! A sure bet for my best of 2012.
The Diplomats of Solid Sound – TBD – I don’t have any details about the third release of Iowa City-Chicago-Austin band The Diplomats of Solid Sound with the Diplomettes other than it was recorded in Iowa City in 2011 and that they played some of the new songs at their gigs leading up to and on New Year’s Eve. I loved their last two albums, so there should be no reason to believe I won’t love this one, too!
Camper Van Beethoven – TBD – News of this release– their follow-up to 2004’s New Roman Times— was delivered with a run of tour dates starting this week. No other details other than this run of winter dates will include some of the songs from the forthcoming record.
Hiss Golden Messenger – TBD – As if releasing the amazing 1-2 punch of Bad Debt and Poor Moon over the last two years wasn’t enough, M.C. Taylor is planning to come back in 2012 with another album! As part of one of the Poor Moon pre-order bundle he included a bonus digital EP called Lord I Love The Rain that included outtakes and demos, but also had early versions of tracks that will be on the next album. Though we’ll see if this is the next album or maybe another project he hinted at in a recent conversation!
The Horses Ha -TBD – In a recent conversation with Janet Beveridge Bean she told me that James Elkington and she were done recording the follow-up to the debut Horses Ha release The Cathmawr Yards which came out in 2009. I absolutely loved the jazzy folk harmonies from The Horses Ha. You can read my review of The Cathmawr Yardshere. Watch my site for updates as I get them!
While I was familiar with the work of John Fahey and his proteges like Leo Kottke, until recently I didn’t really look into the phenomenon that is generally known as “American Primitive.” Musicians I follow closely like Joey Burns of Calexico, and MC Taylor from The Court & Spark and Hiss Golden Messenger, and the guys from Tortoise have all mentioned Fahey one time or another.
It actually took a conversation with MC Taylor regarding Tortoise and the similarity of the song titles “In Sarah, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Women and Men” from TNT, and “In Christ There Is No East and West” the Christian standard interpreted by Fahey and a chance PR e-mail from Thrill Jockey about their new signing of Glenn Jones to send me falling down the rabbit hole that is John Fahey’s career. In particular, it was this video of Glenn Jones that Thrill Jockey sent that really grabbed me:
Beautiful, right? The fact that there is a whole genre of music that is based in this classically-inspired folk acoustic guitar playing is a bit overwhelming to me. In an e-mail exchange with Glenn Jones recently, he referred to Fahey as “the fountainhead” in that Fahey inspired so many guitarists with his work. In addition to his own career recording his own music, he also worked on a very extensive reissue of Fahey’s early works dating from 1958-1965. Titled John Fahey: Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You (The Fonotone Years 1958-1965) it is a project that Jones started working with Fahey on before his passing in 2001. Weighing in at 115 tracks spread over 5 CD’s and an 88-page accompanying book, it is clearly a labor of love for Jones.
Jones continues his Fahey influences in his own solo work. Spread over three albums on the label Strange Attractors Audio House Glenn Jones’ solo work are stringed instrumentals– guitar, slide, banjo– in spare arrangement. His fourth solo album and first on Thrill Jockey titled The Wanting continues largely in this vein, although it is really a culmination of the developments he has made.
The Wanting has been in very regular rotation for me since I got the promo and I’m still struck by the sheer beauty of the work and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform this week in Iowa City and Dubuque. Monday night he will be at The Mill in Iowa City and admission is $7 and doors are at 8:30PM. On Tuesday night he’ll be in Dubuque at Monk’s Kaffee Pub which will be NO COVER and is a super place to see Glenn who should benefit from such an intimate setting!
Click Here for Glenn Jones’ Facebook Page (that I’m helping him with) – please consider clicking “Like”
I made a quick run to Iowa City last week– mostly with the intention of picking up the August issue of Little Village Magazine so I could have a hard copy of the review I wrote for it (Rockygrass band Finnders & Youngberg’s new album FY5). While I was there, I stopped into the Record Collector to see if there was anything worth picking up. Of course, there was. One great aspect about the Record Collector is that they have a pretty extensive used vinyl section that has a lot of 90’s college rock in it! Like a lot of collectors, I seem to be spending a lot of collecting time rebuying things I bought back in high school and college– I’m building an R.E.M. collection for example, and finding obscure releases like Love Tractor. I came away with some really great nostalgia releases on this trip:
Angry Samoans – Yesterday Started Tomorrow (EP, PVC Records, PVC 6915, 1986)($20) I kind of spent a lot on this particular release. Anyone who hung out with me in high school got to hear this EP a lot. Back then, the only way I was exposed to most new music was through KUNI the closest public radio station (now part of Iowa Public Radio), and I would wait anxiously for Night Music to start. In fact, I used to tape it so that I could listen to it the next day in hopes of finding some new gems. One early find was the Angry Samoans through their great song “It’s Raining Today.” Though I didn’t know it at the time, The Angry Samoans were contemporaries of seminal LA punk bands like X, The Circle Jerks and Black Flag, which I became aware of through late-night showings of “Urgh! A Music War” and “The Decline of Western Civilization.” Though, Yesterday Started Tomorrow was a departure in sound for the band– choosing to embrace its love of 60’s garage rock. A great record that still holds up today.
Love Tractor – Themes From Venus (LP, DB Recs, DB92, 1988)($5.00) An obscure band– likely only known from people who lived in Georgia at the time or people who saw the documentary Athens, GA Inside/Out. A band I’m always keeping an eye out for. I’ve managed to pick up three LP’s of their vinyl career thus far. Themes From Venus was a return to their original label home DB Recs after a one-record stint at minor-major label Big Time Records which had distribution by BMG and RCA in the US with their album This Ain’t to Outerspace Ship and it’s single– a cover of “Party Train” (almost the precursor to “Love Shack” by the B-52’s!) Love Tractor started as a band that only occasionally had vocals, but over time that changed. Maybe they learned how to sing and play their instruments? Here is “Venus” from Themes From Venus.
The dB’s – The Sound of Music (LP, IRS Records, IRS-42055, 1987)($7.00) I became familiar with The dB’s when they opened for R.E.M. on the Document tour in Davenport at Palmer Auditorium. Though The dB’s are known for the writing partnership of Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey– much in the tradition of Chris Bell and Alex Chilton of Big Star or Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook of Squeeze– The Sound of Music was post Stamey’s departure from the band. Holsapple tried to carry the mantle of The dB’s for two more albums before they gave it up. The album is a blend of jangly Byrdsian guitar power pop with country influence like a lot of bands at the time — we call it Americana I suppose these days, but back then it was just rock. I always loved “Never Say When.” These days both Stamey and Holsapple have solo careers and release the occasional album together.
Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever (LP, MCA Records, MCA-6253, 1989)($7.00) Firstly, big props to Record Collector for pricing this record very reasonably. Recently, I was visiting one of my other favorite record shops and they were asking $40 for a copy of this record– not nearly in this nice of shape either! The justification by the kid behind the counter who did the pricing at that store was that there are copies of this on eBay going for $40. Sadly, they will probably get that price for it from someone who isn’t willing to do a bit of searching. As it is, I’ve seen nice copies on discogs.com for less than $20. Plus, it is just a matter of time before the big remastering project that is well underway for Petty’s catalog will eventually hit this record and create a completely new 180g version with bonus tracks. Anyway, what is there really to say about this record that hasn’t been said– HUGELY successful release from Petty during the period when Jeff Lynne of ELO had infiltrated a bunch of camps with his production: The Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison. So, you end up with these guys all hanging out and working on each other’s records as well as collaborating on the Traveling Wilburys. If you see Petty in concert these days, he seems to do more songs from this album than almost any other in his catalog. All the big hits: “Running Down A Dream,” “Yer So Bad,” “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down.”
Ultra Vivid Scene – Joy 1967-1990 (LP, 4AD/Columbia C4 6227, 1990)($8.00) This was one of those “holy shit!” moments flipping through the bins. One of my very favorite albums coming from the astonishingly fertile 4AD camp in the early 90’s. The Pixies blasted the doors open and bands like UVS, The Cocteau Twins, The Breeders and Lush found themselves with major label deals in the US. UVS is pretty much the project of Kurt Ralske. He had three albums as UVS before moving on to other things. These days he seems focused on graphic arts. This album was the breakthrough for him and largely due to the single “Special One” which featured prominently Kim Deal from the Pixies, as did the video for it which got some MTV rotation. Kurt was a lucky, lucky man in 1990.
Stuff I put back: Camper Van Chadbourne, plus a reissue of Blind Joe Death by John Fahey on Takoma– apparently a recent reissue.
Over the long weekend, I was hoping to get in on some of the sales that were going on– specifically Guitar Center in Cedar Rapids, and the full-weekend 20% sale at Half-Price Books. While I didn’t actually get over to Guitar Center, I did hit HPB, but also managed to see David Lowery and Johnny Hickman tape a Java Blend session in Iowa City with my friend Erik, which also resulted in a great trip to The Record Collector. I also visited Moondog Music in Dubuque on Thursday and picked up some “missing titles” and hit a Half Price Books in Chicago on Saturday (whew!)
Record Collector, Iowa City:
Bob Mould – Workbook (LP, Virgin Records 91240-1, 1989)($8.00) HUGE SCORE! Found in the “Recent Arrivals” bin (much to Erik’s dismay). Promo-stamped and notched cut-out with a “When You PLAY IT, SAY IT!” sticker prominently on the front cover. The record is in overall good condition, but there was a very visible scuff on tracks 3 and 4 on side 2. It doesn’t affect the play a lot except for a slight tick. I heard this album being played at a party in college and went out and bought it the next day. The first time I ever heard Mould, incidentally. Though I was a fan of Minneapolis bands like Soul Asylum and The Replacement, I hadn’t dove into the Husker Du catalog. I started getting into their catalog posthumously after this album. This is still my favorite Mould record, though Black Sheets of Rain is a close second. (Note to self: add Black Sheets of Rain to my vinyl wishlist).
Van Morrison – Moondance (LP, Warner Brothers 1835, 1970)($12.00) Also in the “Recent Arrivals” bin. Amazingly clean copy and early pressing! Well worth the slightly more expensive price. Not much to say about this release other than it is probably the most consistent record in Van the Man’s catalog. Nice mellow jams for early evening consumption of red wine.
I had also grabbed a collection of Talking Heads records which were on my wish list, however, when I got to the counter to check out I spotted a copy of Neil Young’s Zuma in the glass case for $20. Realizing that this is a tough one to find, I put the Talking Heads back…
Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Zuma (LP, Reprise Records MS 2242, 1975)($20) Brilliant record all the way through. Of the “bigger songs” in Neil’s career, this has “Cortez the Killer” on it. First album following the “Ditch Trilogy” of Time Fades Away, Tonight’s the Night and On The Beach. I guess it is a little crazy for me to pay $20 for a record that will allegedly come out on the next Neil Young Archives LP box (cue laughter from die hard Neil Young fans). Cover in good shape with some slight staining which is typical of the matte covers of this vintage. Includes lyric sheet.
Big Star – Radio City (LP, Stax/Concord Music Group ADS-1801, 2009)($13.00) New. Wasn’t planning to pick this up, but I entered into a conversation with Kirk about the $50 original pressing of Big Star’s #1 Record that has been on display for a while. I mentioned the reissues that had come out and he went back to the bins and came back with this. I’m a big fan of Big Star and had been planning to pick these up at some point. This is a reissue done by Concord Music Group which owns the licensing of the Stax and Ardent catalogs. Interestingly, aside from the very small “Licensed By Concord Music Group” at the bottom of the back of the jacket, you couldn’t tell easily that this was a reissue. Recorded and mastered at Ardent Studios in Memphis and mastered by Larry Nix whom I worked with on the vinyl pressing of The Right Now’s 2010 album Carry Me Home. Nix told us stories about working with Big Star and how Chris Bell nearly destroyed the plates for the vinyl version of #1 Record! I’m thinking I need to get that #1 Record…
Moondog Music, Dubuque, IA:
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (LP, Columbia PC 33453, 1975)($12.98) Hot stamped with “For Demonstration – Not For Sale” on the back cover. Sleeve in VG condition with some slight ringwear and the LP is VG condition– no scuffs or scratches, but seems to need a thorough cleaning as it has a some crackles. The recording sounds great other than that. BL 33453-3F 1T matrix information on both sides. Also came with original “Monosee Lake” postcard!
R.E.M. – Murmur (LP, IRS Records, SP 70014-1, 1983)($5.98) According to the internet, this is a later repress as the catalog number changed and it has a barcode on it. Vinyl just needed a quick brush with the anti-static brush and a wipe with 91% isopropyl alcohol. Cleaned up with no surface noise! Sounds great and reminds me why I loved them so much back then. R.E.M. has always been a band that changes its sound every few albums, and the Chronic Town, Murmur, Reckoning set of albums defined that Southern jangly sound that so many bands that followed emulated.
Greg Brown – Freak Flag (LP, Yep Roc YEP 2244, 2011) ($19.98) 180g vinyl! Cool that the man who lives analog would get his new album on new label Yep Roc pressed into virgin vinyl. Produced by Bo Ramsey and recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis after a lightning storm destroyed the original recordings done in Minneapolis! Read my review of Freak Flag in Little Village Magazine.
New Order – Movement (LP, Factory FACD 05, 1981)($12.98) Still sealed! Was in the bins there since 2004. Has the light blue cover indicative of the non-US Factory Records versions. Looks like a Canadian pressing I guess, but the matrix information looks like it is based on the original UK pressing. I need to look into this a bit more. Not my favorite New Order album, but still worth having in the collection.
Simple Minds – Sparkle in the Rain (LP, A&M Records SP-6-4981, 1984)($4.99) This is one of my favorite Simple Minds albums, second probably only to New Gold Dream. Sparkle in the Rain is considered Simple Minds’ breakthrough release in the US. Side A has a fantastic procession of songs– “Up on the Catwalk,” “Book of Brilliant Things,” “Speed Your Love to Me,” “Waterfront” and “East At Easter” most of which are on the excellent live album Live in the City of Light.
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam (LP, ABC Records ABCD-931, 1976)($5.98) This is an “upgrade” from a later MCA Pressing I had of this. Great record, though it doesn’t have the big hits on it. It also seems to embody the snideness of Steely Dan. Sometimes Steely Dan hates the subjects and characters in their songs, and never more than they seem to on The Royal Scam. Classic Dan songs on here, though. “Kid Charlemange,” “Don’t Take Me Alive,” “The Fez” and “Haitian Divorce.”
Half Price Books, Village Crossing, Niles, IL
Derek & The Dominos – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (LP, Atco SD 2-704, 1970)($14.99) While Sherry was doing makeup for a wedding in Chicago, I busied myself with a trip to the closest Half Price Books. They had a lot of “essential” titles in the bins of varying quality and I nearly picked up a couple of Who titles, but ended up finding this really clean original pressing of the classic Derek & The Dominos album.
This Saturday, March 5th brings to the Mill Restaurant in Iowa City former V2 Records singer-songwriter Charlie Mars. Charlie is wrapping up a run of dates that started at the beginning of February of East Coast and Midwest dates in support of his latest album Like A Bird, Like A Plane which came out in 2009. The bio on Mars’s site says that Like A Bird, Like A Plane is almost a “new debut.” While this album is his 5th release dating back to his 1996 album Broken Arrow.
The path to his major label release in 2004 on V2 Records (now folded– once home to The White Stripes and Moby) was an uneven one. The 150-dates-per-year touring over three years took a toll on him resulting in needing to enter rehab for substance abuse. Following that he split for Sweden choosing to recluse himself in obscurity. But, it was this move that allowed him to watershed the material that would become his self-titield major label debut in 2004. The major label backing gave his career the necessary re-launching. “I had no manager, no band, I hadn’t toured for about two years – I thought my career was done,” he says.
V2 gave him the radio exposure, backing and critical praise. That ride ended in 2006 when V2 shuttered forcing Mars to reassess his career and start the daunting prospect of a follow up to what was his most successful release. He headed to Austin to assemble a band to record Like A Bird, Like A Plane.
The release has been out for over a year at this point and Mars spent most of 2010 touring in support of it. As I listen to the release, it strikes me as a solidly written and composed album. The album has a stripped down, acoustic approach with an almost Dub-like dissasembled percussion. The album is scattered with studio chatter and starts and stops that give the album a feel of immediacy and live performance. This is substantiated by the fact that Mars says that they tended to use the first takes and left in the “happy accidents” generated as they worked through the recordings.
The standout track for me is the slightly tongue-in-cheek “Listen to the Darkside” with its double entendre use of “darkside” to mean both the classic Pink Floyd record and possibly the advice of the narrator in the middle of a relationship. The song was featured in an episode of the made-for-Showtime series “Weeds” and benefits from a music video that features”Weeds” star Mary Louise Parker.
Charlie Mars will be performing at The Mill Restaurant in Iowa City on Saturday, March 5th at 9PM tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Charlie House opens.