Talk From The Rock Room: September 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Rides-'Can't Get Enough'-Stills, KWS, Goldberg

     Playing in the 'rock room' tonight is a release from last month that caused a buzz, but surprisingly under the radar. If it is to be labeled, 'Supergroup' would be an apt title for the 'Rides' debut album 'Can't Get Enough'. The 'Rides' being Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Barry Goldberg with support in the rhythm section from rock and roll stalwarts Chris Layton on drums and Kevin McCormick on bass. This collection is a ten track blues rock attack. Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Stills both collaborate and duel, paying close attention to the detail in their playing. All of the original songs on the album are collaborations between all of the principals involved. Highlights include Stephen Stills return to form vocally with some of the most emotive singing of his recent career, possibly since the 1991 CSN acoustic tour. Goldberg and Kenny Wayne have both encouraged Stephen musically, and its obvious on the recording through the exciting and invested playing. This band cooks, and this new album is worthy of your attention.
     The album opens with the heavy Delta swamp stomp of 'Roadhouse' hitting hard and fast. Stills mojo is tangible as he growls with an attitude, soulful but slightly menacing. The thumping groove is dressed in Goldberg's bluesy dressings. The first solo by KWS is highly charged and fly's off of the handle immediately with a few elastic bends. Stills takes the second and states some sweet twists on the theme in his recognizable tone, using needle sharp statements. A smoking introductory view of the collaboration, with the first track a showcasing all of the bands strengths.
     The next song sounds chrome covered and is driven by Kenny Wayne Shepherd at unsafe speeds. The cover version of 'That's A Pretty Good Love' once performed by Big Maybelle in 1958, is a tribal version that rolls off of the back of Layton's jangling rhythm. Smooth and swinging, Kenny Wayne Shepherd's guitar roller coasters rotund notes that scurry across the shifting groove. Under it all Goldberg's left hand pounds away relentlessly, while his right glides across the black and whites.
     The third track is another band original that slows the tempo a bit and is called 'Don't Want Lies'. Counted off by Stills the song drifts between emotional poles and has all the hallmarks of a Stills melody. The song also contains some falsetto Stills vocalizing on the chorus for a nice touch. A strong track with a sneaky solo courtesy of Kenny Wayne, the second solo a phased response by Stills. An additional moment of note is a solitary Stills vocal that hits the right spot.
     A surprising and heat seeking version The Stooges 'Seek and Destroy' comes next and brings the temperature to nuclear levels with impassioned vocals and incendiary soloing. The band digs their heels into this one hard. Thus far the album is a diverse and well placed selection of covers and originals played joyously.
     My personal favorite track on the collection comes next and starts off a pair of ace choices. First, the foreboding title track, 'Can't Get Enough' is a dynamically constructed mid tempo blues that bears the fruit of this bands line up. At two minutes in Stills lets out a startling and powerful scream that ushers in the chorus, absolutely great. Kenny Wayne takes off inspired with a rocket fueled solo attack that gains intensity, then suddenly descends to a clean tone butterfly flutter. Possibly the solo of the record, then back to a detonating restatement of the theme. Buzzing in his cloak of distortion  Stills takes the second solo with a measured and sinful series of statements, following them with another shredding vocal scream. Heavy blues.
     What better way to follow up a smouldering original blues then with one penned by a master? The band steps into a smokey saloon version of Muddy Waters 'Honey Bee'. Goldberg opens the song with a rolling acoustic piano opening, and later with a wind through the trees Hammond organ solo excursion. 'Honey Bee' extends past seven minutes and gives the band ample opportunities for flybys. KWS peaks with an orgasmic announcement containing tightly coiled virtuous runs. Stills later answers with a metallic clean tone that shimmers brightly, illuminating Goldberg's glissando replies. Kenny Wayne takes another feisty run at it before the song concludes the two track blues clinic.
    Another variety of cover song follows with with a daring version of Neil Young's 'Keep On Rockin In the Free World', an accurate statement in the context of this record. This version does warrant inclusion on this record, regardless of the tunes somewhat overplayed nature. The Rides match the enthusiasm and aggressiveness of previous versions comprised of an all together different pedigree. Stills again impresses with dominant vocals, and channels his brother in arms Neil, playing twisted vibrato filled hulks of smoking metal that become guitar solos.
     The last cover was Muddy, this next is Elmore James's 'Talk to Me'. Kenny, Goldberg, and Stills in that order buff this one til it shines, glistening with remembrances of their roots, and priceless quotes from their respective and impressive careers. Call and response vocals mixed with ass shaking grooves inject the song with a juke joint attitude. A highlight performance.
     Following a series of three well played covers, 'Only Teardrops Fall' walks in with heavy steps and dirty boots. A well written introspective song laced with silvery guitars. A song about life trials and a persons eventual reappearance on the other side after facing these battles. A prime moment is when Stills and Shepherd meet for a musical embrace, with two guitars quoting the melody line together. An enjoyable original worthy of repeated listens, and a soothing prelude to the finale.
     The final track on the LP reaches back to Stephen Stills 1971 LP, Stephen Stills II where it was performed in an acoustic guise. A favorite live performance piece for Stills, the still relevant 'Word Game' is given a harsh electric workout over forty years later. Retaining its original melody, a deadly serious Stills rants over honky tonk piano and profane guitars. A potent conclusion to a weighty and professional collection of songs.
     It's refreshing to know that in this day and age of sterilized music, rock fans can still find records that are 'all killer, no filler' in the blues/rock genre. While holding only ten songs, 'Can't Get Enough' is a conducive record that contains a concentrated energy. While 'supergroup' collaborations are often overblown and sometime disappointing, in this case the result exceeded its principals.  The Rides perform no frills, dirt road, fast car rock and roll. The enjoyment felt by the musicians is tangible on the recording which in turn increases listener enjoyment. Jangling piano, in the pocket drums, screaming guitars are the ingredients that make up this tasty rock and roll stew. Dig in.

Roadhouse-The Rides
Can't Get Enough-The Rides

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Put the Boot In: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band-'Dropping Out' Live at Fillmore Auditorium 1966

There are blues on the ceiling of the rock room this morning emanating from a early live performance by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Shuffling like a sexy street walker from my stereo speakers, the band struts it stuff. Hailing from the Fillmore Auditorium on September 30th 1966, this concert finds the band in the midst of their most revolutionary period, shortly after the release their influential LP 'East-West. The Butterfield Blues Band not was only leading the way with their introduction of exotic influence and expanded improvisational movements to rock music, but they were also a mature blues band featuring a mixed line up of race, almost unheard of for the time. The San Fransisco bands often looked to the "BBB" for inspiration and  the groups importance cannot be understated, and is reflected in the improvisational attitude of bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Moby Grape to name a few, who looked to guitar god in the making Mike Bloomfield for direction. The expansion and development of cracking open songs and letting the contents fall where they may can be traced to the Butterfield Blues Band and their ballroom performances.

     Obviously Butter is the axis in which the band revolves, his virtuosic blues harp playing some of the best the rock world has ever experienced, rooted in the abilities of Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Walter Horton, and Little Walter. This performance at the Fillmore finds the group in their peak and ecstatic to be flaunting their plumage. The Butterfield Blues Band was a group that straddled the musical fence, touching toes into the sweet grass of psychedelia and improvisational journeys as well as keeping their other foot rooted in the earthy attitude of the blues. This concert features the six piece line up for the group with members Paul Butterfield (Harp Vocals), Mike Bloomfield (Guitar), Elvin Bishop (Guitar), Mark Naftalin (Keys), Jerome Arnold (Bass), and Billy Davenport (Drums). The recording I am listening to has an unknown lineage, but has wonderful presence, with all instruments and vocals coming through clearly and with consistent levels. It seems to be an audience recording, but sounds like in could be a straight line recording with light mileage. Regardless, it sounds nice, and feels good.

     The concert opens earnestly on the fuzzy bounce of Bishop's guitar, presenting a 'Droppin Out' that had not yet been unreleased on LP. 'Droppin Out' has that rotund Butterfield band 'sound', but contains a fluttering melody that is helplessly 1960's. Bloomfield immediately comes out swinging with a stringy chorused solo that contrasts the spiked backing by Bishop and the rhythm section. The song concludes amongst a wash of feedback and squealing microphones quickly. A quick and fitting opener.

     The band immediately jumps into 'Mother In Law Blues' a Junior Parker cover, and the band starts to slip into something more comfortable. Butter takes his first harp blast of the night and the temperature begins to rise, as the band percolates under his breathy accents. A series of twisting gusts carrying Butter's musical muse wrap around the song like a snake squeezing life from its prey. The second solo is Bishop, whose over-driven Gibson 335 takes a slightly different route than Butter cutting down dusty back roads to reach his chosen destination.

     Following 'Mother In Law Blues' Butterfield introduces a song from the bands debut LP, 'Drifting', as 'My love is drifting'. Bloomfield now starts to take over the performance with a clinic of chorused, wormy lines that slither, booze soaked and quaking with the anguish of the lyrical content and Bloomfield's own personal demons. The breath leaving Butter's lungs is as emotive vocally as it is through his harp. The first solo by Bloomfield is a melting ice cube, sliding across a table leaving a trail of icy cool remnants behind. Davenport's drums skip like a happy child leaving school for the day, his jazz sensibilities lending a sturdy swing to a normally rigid blues beat. The band coalesces into one of the finest examples of the Chicago blues played flawlessly by a group of young white boys.

     Next up comes a 'Born In Chicago' that brings the concert to a new level, and discovers the band locked in tight. Written by 'BBB' songwriter and comrade Nick Gravenities, the song features the chemical makeup of the Chicago blues, injected with a modern day sensibility. The start/stop groove comes out fighting against itself in a tug of war. Orchestrated, the three soloists Butter, Bloomfield, and Bishop mesh their musical gears into a conglomerate of blues riffs. The song then hits double time during Butter's crunchy harp soling, gaining momentum, eventually falling back into the oscillating body of the song. Butter and Bloomfield then initiate a tight embrace, winding themselves around each other for the second solo break. As the song races toward its conclusion Bishop takes a clean tone picking break that dissipates the tension, eventually joining with Butter for another musical meeting that brings the song to a gentle conclusion. Yes!

     After the exciting 'Born In Chicago' the band enjoys an iced whiskey and smoke by putting the next track under a blue streetlight with a soulful take on 'Willow Tree'. The fidelity of the recording exposes every detail of this deep jam. 'Willow Tree' spotlights a guitar duel between Bloomfield and Bishop that reveals the unique abilities of each man, and their collaborative strengths. Butterfield sings the shit out of this one with a natural vibrato and deadly serious attitude. Bloomfield answers each verse with his own lyrical melodies increasing the tension. Solo one is Butter, carrying with him a drawn out see-saw harp escapade, seamlessly connected to a dual guitar conversation between  Bloomfield and Bishop that is inspiring. The series containing 'Born In Chicago' and 'Willow Tree' is a definite highlight thus far of this performance.

     Butterfield hero and idol 'Little Walter' gets a name drop and representation with the cover of 'My Babe' that comes next. Teetering on the snare shuffle of Davenport and Lay, Butter displays his ample ability with a plethora of Little Walter quotes, acting as the primary soloist. At three and a half minutes all the primary soloists stick their thumbs out to hitch a ride, squeezing into the back seat with tasteful additions, carefully leaving room for the other riders. A picture perfect representation of a blues translation, left with the 'BBB's" own distinctive thumbprint on the glass.

     A unique surprise comes next with a cover of 'Kansas City' featuring Bloomfield taking over the lead vocal duties. The band rolls like a soft tire on a highway truck, smooth, with some bumps for good measure. Bishop answers Bloomfield's first slippery solo with a careful and measured discussion containing crisp bends and repeated lines that wind up quickly before they fly away like the string on a runaway kite. This one just chugs on down the line, all killer, no filler. Priceless.

     The concert recording and I believe the entire performance concludes with an extended reading of Cannonball Adderly's 'Work Song'. Lingering bast 13 minutes, this version of 'Work Song' is a prime example of the exploration into the dark recesses of song expansion that the Butterfield Blues Band were undergoing. Brought into the repertoire because of Bloomfield's investigation into the world of jazz and his interest into extended improvisation used by Coltrane and Miles Davis, this track in addition to 'East/West' were the vehicles the group used to display their musical abilities and induce musical conversations. Using Adderly's recognizable melody as the launching point the band splits the song open and reveals the juicy goodness inside. After stating the theme on harp, Bloomfield lifts off with a echoed and tightly twisted rope of a solo, Lay's bass peaks it head up intermittently after Bloomfield finishes a phrase, and finally Butter too pops in as Bloomfield starts to reveal the core of the track at a bit after three minutes. Taught and sustained notes, worked up to, and away from wrap around the swirling groove.

Atonal sideways guitar licks lash across the shifting rhythm with Bloomfield expressing wobbly almost human sounding guitar screams from his amplification. Reaching the first summit, Butterfield steps up for his solo spot and takes an experimental stab at matching Bloomfield. A few well timed squeals punctuate the moaning train whistle blasts initiated by Butter. The song palpably breaths, rising and falling with Butter's blowing. As Butterfield concludes, a brief moment of pulsating rhythm by Arnold and Davenport keeps the heartbeat active and allow Naftalin to spread some haunted organ flourishes underneath the bubbling tincture. Bell like chimes ring out from Bloomfield's guitar, all rhythmically enticing, pushing and pulling against the beat, creating new variations on the theme. 

Approaching eight and a half minutes Bishop steps up to make another guitar statement. Whereas Bloomfield's statements bubble and spill like spring water over a smooth stone, Bishop's licks are more angular and aggressive, feeling like walking barefoot over hot rocks. Quick stinging and sliding movements up the neck punctuate Bishop's clinic. Butterfield, Bishop, Bloomfield, and Naftalin leisurely make their way to the middle to throw ideas at one another and see what sticks. Ideas and riffs start to be bantered about as the band his a delicious thumping swing groove. This momentary convergence explodes into a aggressive blast of guitar and harp fireworks that brings the song full circle landing eventually into a final statement of the theme. Screams of delight can be heard emanating from the stage during the building climax. Falling smoothly into the ending, Butterfield signals the end of the performance. Bill Graham is heard after the band finishes introducing the group with the recording cutting off before he can complete the line up.

     The September 30, 1966 Butterfield Blues Band concert at Fillmore West is a glimpse into a prime era of their development as a band as well as an expression of their unique mixture of jazz, Chicago blues, Indian, and psychedelic sensibility. Containing some of the most respected musicians in rock and blues history, the Butterfield Blues Band live in concert was an on stage hall of fame. Revolutionary respected, and influential, the original line up was short lived, but did alter the way other groups played and approached the blues and live improvisation. Their debut LP as well as 'East/West' were the records spinning on the turntables of not only fans but of fellow peers and musical artists. Early in their career the group was one of the few 'white' blues groups to gain the respect of the musicians that they were covering, proven by the fact the the original rhythm section hailed from Howlin Wolf's band! The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, one of rocks finest, most professional and talented bands. Search this one out in addition to the groups first two LP's, and prepare for a unique and powerful portrayal of a multitude of musical classifications.

Butterfield Blues Band-'Dropping Out'-Fillmore West 66

Butterfield Blues Band-'Our Love Is Drifting'-Fillmore 1966

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Rod Stewart 'Rarities'-'A Friend to Lend a Guiding Hand'-Rare Rod

     The foundation on which Rod Stewart's career is built was laid during the period of 1969 to 1974. During this time he recorded five LP's for Mercury records, as well as recording with and fronting one of the decades best rock and roll bands, 'Faces'. A new CD collection was released this week chronicling Stewart's solo ascent during this time period, focusing on his solo career, but revealing buried treasure from all aspects of his recording life. Rod Stewart 'Rarities' is a two disc collection spotlighting alternate mixes, live tracks, unreleased music and offers a looking glass view into Stewart's impressive and extensive early career. An artist often misrepresented by the media, this segment of Stewart's career is also often overshadowed by his later flash, dash and big hair days. But make no mistake Stewart was and continues to be one of the finest interpreters and vocalist in rock history. A exemplary songwriter, producer and arranger, this collection contains a gritty accumulation of Stewart's folk, rock and R and B sensibilities.

     This collection also focuses on the core band Stewart used for these superior LP's. Along with the members of the Faces, Stewart also augmented his group with Jeff Beck Band drummer Mickey Waller, and long time collaborator and guitarist Martin Quittenton (co-writer of Maggie May). You would be hard pressed to find another studio band containing such attitude and ability. Many of the songs making up this 'rarities' collection are stripped down versions containing unique guide vocals, lacking overdubs, or are dust covered tapes from the webbed corners of the vault that contain a luster as bright as their officially released counterparts.

     The collection begins with the single version of 'It's All Over Now' as hot as the Gasoline Alley version, but slightly streamlined, and featuring a staggering booze scented Faces. Not super rare, but a solid opener. The following song is a 1970  BBC Radio One performance by the Faces of 'Country Comforts' the classic Elton John/Taupin penned number. Containing a bit more personality than the studio version, Rod's off mic asides, and the featured thick live air sliced by Kenney Jones bricklayer drums, make this a soulful definitive version. Stewart's vocals are indescribably special here, listen for yourself.

     The third track is the first of two versions of 'Maggie May' contained on the set, this one being a studio take containing a rough guide vocal with completely different lyrics. Sung convincingly by Rod, this version some unique rhymes and stream of consciousness lyrics, eliciting its own special charm. Lines such as, 'I don't mean to tell ya that you look like a fella, but I'll kick you in the head in one of these days', give a glimpse into the enjoyable listen that these early takes allow the listener. Good stuff.

     After a regal and unadorned alternate version of 'Seems Like a Long Time', based around a divine Pete Sears piano line and snaky Ron Wood guitar segment, an alternate version of 'Los Paraguayos' that sounds like it contains most of the Faces lineup highlights disc one of the set. The acoustic guitar opening meshes like golden gears tucked inside an antique clock. Rod's vocals are amazing, lush and full of fervor, a nice addition being the chuckles and added band directions. Lacking some of the overdubs that would appear later, this version churns with the striding rhythms, and boogies like a late night campfire gathering.

     Two early versions of songs from 'Never a Dull Moment' follow next, featuring band versions in progress and unique in their own way. 'Italian Girls' and 'You Wear It Well' are both ample readings and contain the fat sliding bass lines by Ronnie Lane and Woody that are hallmarks of the record. The songs feel like siblings, eliciting some of the same features as one another, melodies and phrases connecting them musically. 'You Wear It Well', similarly to the early take of Maggie May, holds the same instrumentation, but again contains particular lyrical variations unique to this version. The groove is in the process of being caught and refined, and at this early stage the song is finding its way, standing on its slightly wobbly legs.

     Two more alternate versions of songs from 'Never a Dull Moment' follow with tender readings of Etta James, 'I'd Rather Go Blind', and Jimi Hendrix's 'Angel'. 'I'd Rather Go Blind' was a showstopper for the Faces during their concert tours, and this full band version is no different. Spooky and blue, honest and true, Rod shovels away the dirt and grime, revealing the transparent soul of the song. McLagan's blurry organ embraces Rod's vocals tenderly, live and hot on the mic. In the same vein and vibe the reading of 'Angel' is sensitive and detailed, differing slightly from the official version in its live and rough ready attitude. Again, this is a full Faces version similar to live performances, a fitting tribute to Hendrix.
     The first CD of the collection ends with a triad of great music, beginning uniquely with the swinging jukebox reading of 'What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out of Me). Previously only available as the 7' 'B' side to 'Angel', 'Milwaukee' is a smoky version, leaving watery rings on the wooden bar in its wake. Containing moaning pedal steel and cascading piano, Stewart croons a lonely mans lament in one of the highlights of the set.

     Originally included on the 1973 'best of' set, 'Sing It Again Rod', a dramatic version of 'Pinball Wizard' from the feature film of 'Tommy' changes the tempo of the track listing slightly. Performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, 'Pinball Wizard' is transformed into a bombastic and mysterious display with Rod's abrasive vocals locking in with the additional choir and weighty orchestration. A nice and often forgotten addition to the line up of songs found here.

     The song that closes the first half of the set, begins a series of three songs moving to disc two from mid 1973 that Stewart recorded with the Faces, minus the recently departed Ronnie Lane. The cover of Cole Porter's 'Everytime We Say Goodbye' spotlights Stewart snugly contented in the land of 'standards', making the song his own through keen production and attentive arrangements. Ronnie Wood's astute and dynamic slide playing adds a new dimension to the the swinging classic. Carrying over and starting the second disc of the collection is the September 1973 non-LP single by the Faces containing, 'Oh! No, Not My Baby' b/w 'Jodie'. Put together for the first time on this collection, this 7' finds Stewart in the gray area between the early rock segment of his career, and his ascension to superstardom in the late 70's when his music would change dramatically (as well as his attitude). 'Oh! No, Not My Baby' contains the unmistakable Faces groove augmented with some soaring strings that take the edge off slightly. This track finds Rod laying down some of the best vocals on the set. The 'B" side "Jodie' is bouncy and animated, and is a musical collaboration between McLagan, Stewart, and Wood. Anchored to a descending Woody guitar lick and taught Jones snare hits the song is irresistible, eventually sliding into a very 'Stoney' breakdown. This collection was made for hidden 'B' sides like the aforementioned, songs otherwise obscured by the bigger hits or forgotten because of their disappearance from LP track listings. Great tune.

     The rest of disc two, minus the closing track is dedicated to Stewart's final Mercury LP, 'Smiler'. This record unfortunately, to even hardcore Rod fans seems to get the short end of the stick. It does come during a time of transition for Stewart, and a time of musical sterility for him and his studio band. The LP unlike his previous efforts was ripped apart by critics, fortunately for us this set contains some moments left off of that album, that in hindsight, now give us a better glimpse into its creation and its strengths. 'So Tired' and 'Missed You' are both Stewart originals left off the LP and only released posthumously on the his complete studio recordings set "Handbags and Gladrags'. Both songs are similar melodically, hence their being left off of the original album, but they both draw special attention to Stewart's emotive vocalizations. Proof that sometimes Stewart's interpretations are strength enough to carry even the more mundane compositions. 'So Tired' in my opinion is the stronger of the tracks, with a tasty keyboard/piano combination underpinned with some crispy acoustic work. 'So Tired' is repeated toward the end of the disc in a earlier studio version, a quick glimpse into the songs development, raising questions regarding its disappearance from the album lineup.

     A most memorable song on the set and a personal favorite of mine in all of its guises is, 'Think I'll Pack My Bags', a early work out of 'Mystifies Me', a song recorded on both Ron Wood's solo LP, and Ian McLagan's solo album. A testament to the strength of the song composed by Wood and Stewart is that three of the five members of Faces would record it. It's one of those goose bump numbers that seems to get better every time you hear it. The version here is sparse and a practice run through, but all of the elements of the track are available in their formative stages. Wood's caress of the melody line, inspecting every dusty nook and cranny is a pleasing insight. It's mystifying why Stewart did not include this on his 'Smiler' LP. Without sounding overblown (which I have been accused of) this is legendary, important, and a great reason to hunt this set down.

     The next three tracks are all alternate versions that can be found on the 'Smiler' LP in their official versions. A piano based reading of Dylan's "Girl From the North Country' that somehow draws more attention to the words, if that's possible, is inspiring. An intimate version of the Goffin/King/Wexler standard, '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Man' is another reason to own this set. You can feel Stewart's breath on the microphone in addition to the closely knit instrumentation that turns the 'rock room' into a darkened chamber at Morgan Studio's in 1974. Cigarette butts in overflowing ashtrays, empty bottles of sticky Brandy, like fallen soldiers leaking their left over life blood, Rod behind the glass, alone at the microphone, eyes closed, letting it go. Must have.

     Starting to bring the rarities set to a conclusion is an extended early version of 'Farewell' that contains all of the hallmarks of those early Stewart/Quittenton compositions. The resonant acoustic guitars, full of personality are such a joy to hear, I would be hard pressed to find another record from this era that could get that distinctive ring from their acoustics, a special hallmark from this time period on Stewart's recordings. Cheers to Woody for being a catalyst in the charisma expressed on these LP's, he is an invaluable cog in the Stewart music machine, and obviously has done the same thing for his 'current' band.

     Both 'You Put Something Better Inside Of Me' and 'Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying' are covers that missed the 'Smiler' LP and remained in the vault until the previously mentioned 'Handbags and Gladrags' collection in 2002.  Both contemporary (at the time) songs, Stewart again injects the songs with his soulful personality and tempered production techniques. Both songs feel 'upgraded' by Stewart for lack of a better term, and illustrate that Rod was willing to look anywhere for inspiration, and would not discriminate when considering songs to cover, even checking the 'hit parade'. For 'unreleased' songs both feel polished, and have all of the details found in Stewart's finished and classic works. Special note to the arrangement of 'Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying' which retains the original Labi Siffre acoustic vibe, in addition to elongated organ, silky violin, and edge of disco drumming.

     The collection closes fittingly with a jagged and lovely live version of 'Maggie May' from September 28, 1971 on BBC radio featuring the Faces. This version is also available on the Faces box set, "Five Guys Walk Into A Bar'. This is an edgy reading that finds Rod and the boys in full glory, at their peak, performing a definitive version of Stewart's most beloved song. The song becomes something different when performed live on the stage, the sum of the parts changing it from its humble 'folk' beginnings into an anthem of universal status. Not much more needs to be said about the power and majesty of this performance.

     Whew, that is the new and aurally pleasing Rod Stewart 'Rarities' collection, a splendid and welcome addendum to his classic Mercury discography. Within this set you will find special moments of unheard goodness, recognizable moments in new ways, and hidden vault treasures unearthed for our smiling ears. For fans of Stewart this collection nestles nicely in with his official catalog, offering fresh insight to musical moments that have already left footprints on our psyches. For those who are not familiar with Stewart's authoritative early years, this is the kind of assemblage that can make you a fan, leading you down the untrodden path toward discovering his immense influence and unparallelled abilities as a composer, singer, and producer.

Rod Stewart-Los Paraguayos
Rod Stewart/Faces-Jodie
Smiler Full LP


Monday, September 2, 2013

Jam-balaya of Rock-'We Can Live As We Choose'-The Rides, McCartney, Dylan, The Band

      As I was a bit busy getting married to the love of my life this past weekend, the 'rock room' was in suspended animation until today. Firing up all of the gear for a bit of listening, today's 'talk' is going to concentrate on some interesting new music from familiar names, and some rare goods that rock geeks are going to want to get their grubby hands on.
     First things first, a few days ago Paul McCartney leaked a brand spanking new song called 'New' from the upcoming album of the same name. This record will be released on October 15th in the US and is Macca'a first full LP of new original music since 2007. The song is a bouncy jaunt featuring McCartney's trademark falsetto filigrees, and another perfectly timeless melody. Opening on a smiling harpsichord introduction the song flutters through three minutes of perfect pop production.To me the tune would fit perfectly in the Beatle era of 'Revolver'/'Pepper', bringing to mind past glories, 'Good Day Sunshine', "Got To Get You Into My Life', 'Lovely Rita' melodically and aesthetically. The song also features some vocal lines toward the conclusion of the song that bring to mind Brian Wilson's mid 1960's vocal arrangements. A tantalizing sample of what sounds like is going to be a fantastic McCartney LP produced by Mark Ronson. Sample of the song below.
     Another bit of new music causing some ripples in the deep pond of rock is the debut LP by 'The Rides'. The band is made up of Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, and blues pianist Barry Goldberg. The LP is a cross cut saw of slicing blues licks, heavy beats, and a Stills that has rediscovered his 1960's and 1970's vocal range. The enthusiasm and respect between the musicians is tangible on the recording with a plethora of inspiring moments being held in the jams. The trading of solos in the slow burn blues of 'Can't Get Enough Of Your Love' is as about as deep into the blues you can get these days in mainstream rock. Stills sounds reinvigorated playing with Sheppard, and Goldberg's blues sensibilities give the album an unbreakable steel backbone. These are must hear tunes, and I have included a sample at the bottom of this page for your listening pleasure.
     Other interesting developments come from the archive release front. Out in stores now is the long awaited Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Volume 10 'Another Self Portrait' 1969-71 collection. Available in a two disc edition as well as a four disc deluxe set, these collections cover the 'lost' Dylan era when he pulled away from the public and retreated into his family life, still composing vital compositions while reassessing his place in the music world. The deluxe edition contains the entire Bob Dylan and the Band set from the 1969 Isle of Wight as well as a remastered edition of Self Portrait. Legendary goods. Highlights are too numerous to list without a proper review, but the demo version of 'Went To See the Gypsy', the unreleased 'Pretty Saro', and a surprise 'Basement' track are a few of countless revelations. 'Rock night' MC 'Sick Dude Brad' calls this the most important Dylan release to ever see the light of day, and when he speaks, I listen.
     Another vital 'archive' release I want to mention will not be out until September 17th but is just as important. 'The Band Live at the Academy of Music' is a proper and definitive collection of the New Years 1971 concert run that covered December 28 through the 31st. Packed full of alternate versions and bonus tracks the set will become the ultimate addendum to the classic release 'Rock of Ages' that has been the go to document for these performances. Spanning three discs and a DVD the set will also feature three songs captured on video as well as 5.1 mixes. This is the Band at their best, and finds them when they when were quite possibly the best band in the world. Dont miss it!
     Finally, at the end of September we can finally look forward to the LONG awaited release of the Grateful Dead's 1972 performance in Venetta, Oregon, now titled 'Sunshine Daydream'. Played in select movie theaters last month for a 'sneak preview,' this ultimate document of the Grateful Dead captures the band fresh off of their Europe tour, and finds them peaking in more ways than one. Available on both CD and DVD/Blu-Ray the set has been lovingly packaged and remastered. The clarity is stunning, and the performance is one of the best of the year and possibly of the entire decade. You will get to see Garcia pumping the well of his Wah-Wah, culminating in a multicolored explosion of sound during the 'Dark Star' melt, Lesh in floppy farmer hat bouncing, laying biscuits, and locked into a musical embrace with Billy K. This is the collection Deadheads have been waiting for, and it will finally be available to feed their ravenous musical appetites.
     Like I mentioned earlier its been a crazy few days for the 'rock room', so plan on the next rant to be the same long winded and extended B.S. I usually post! I at least wanted to disseminate the important information, and next week get back to the dissections. As always, thanks for reading, I hope the holiday gives us all the time to jam the tunes we like! I always look forward to any comments, questions, or concerns you may have.

The Rides-Can't Get Enough Of Your Love
Paul McCartney-New
Dylan-Pretty Saro