Saturday, October 3, 2015

Engelbert Humperdinck Duets EP

Engelbert Humperdinck Duets EP
OK! Good Records has released a vinyl EP that features four duets from Engelbert Humperdinck's 2014 CD "Engelbert Calling". The EP, Engelbert Humperdinck Duets, is a limited edition 7" vinyl record with a first pressing of 1,000 copies on transparent cloudy clear vinyl. Englebert has released 59 albums since 1967 and has a net worth of $150 million. At age 79 he is still touring, has started a record label with his son and is releasing a country album.
The four selections are with Gene Simmons, Olivia Newton-John, Dionne Warwick, and Willie Nelson. OK! Good chose these artists because they were active at the same time as Engelbert and that would add to the seventies feel of the EP.
The EP begins with the Blood Sweat and Tears song "Spinning Wheel" with Gene Simmons. The first verse started had me wondering where they were going with this song. Genes raspy voice does not blend well with Engelberts but they sing it with a lightheartedness that pulls it together. Near the end Englebert throws in a jab at Genes tongue and the song ends nicely. The next track is Shirley Bassey's hit song "Never, Never, Never" with Olivia Newton-John and it is an excellent cut and I feel that their voices complement each other although Olivia's voice could have been louder. Track three is "It Matters To Me" with Dionne Warwick and it is very good, for what they are trying to accomplish, but can anyone compare to the original by Faith Hill. The EP ends with a Bob Dylan song that has been covered by Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Kelly Clarkson and several others, "To Make You Feel My Love" with Willie Nelson is a decent version of this song, they sound good together and it puts a good finish to the EP.
OK! Good Records did an admirable job putting their idea to vinyl and I would like to add it to my collection, in fact I would like to see the entire "Engelbert Calling" CD on vinyl. They have released many independent artists and this is their first project with a major artist and I hope to see more vinyl from them. If you like to hear some of the great voices of the seventies then you need to give this a listen.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Glaringly Garish Grammys

The Grammys have always been anticipated with great earnest by the artists, more so than the music lovers. These is due in part by the method to which they are chosen.
Recording Academy members and record companies enter recordings and music videos that they feel are noteworthy. They are then screened by "experts" to make sure that each entry is eligible and placed in its proper category. Then comes the first round nominations by voting members, and they are directed to vote only in their areas of expertise. Ballots are then tabulated by the accounting firm of Deloitte. The first round nominees are then returned to the academy members for the final tally and they are again tabulated by Deloitte. Now I must say that this method does sound fair, I mean I'm sure that the record companies do not try to influence the academy members and that the same members don't vote in both rounds.
I don't see anything bias in this procedure, do you? Maybe I'm reading to much into this, there are over 20,000 academy members and they range from singer songwriters to music professors, which should give a deserving artist a decent chance for  a Grammy.
I think the problem is the show, some of these performers want to leave an impression that will not be forgotten, but in the end it only gives most people second thoughts about watching the Grammys.
I watched the 56th Grammy awards and I will never watch it live, I will record it and fast forward through the artists that don't interest me and stop at the actual award presentations.
The majority of the performances in this years Grammys were over produced, from the provocative opening number by Beyoncé to the aerial show by Pink. Some artists were not in there best form, Kristofferson looked sickly, his voice was awful and Willy's singing faded in and out.
Some of the artists decorum was less than flattering, Geezer Butler laughing while Ozzy was accepting their award and Jami Foxx's insinuation of the partying going on backstage.
However, not all of it was less than entertaining, the tribute to footballs half time shows was excellent and some of the music was worth listening to.
My take on this is, get the show into a comfortable two hour format so that the performances would be shorter and the opening monologue less than three minutes. Also party after the show so that the fans can enjoy a sterling show instead of a stoned spectacle.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

We Lost A Few Great Ones and Got Some Good New Ones in 2013.

Well 2013 is coming to a close and this years album sales hit an all-time low. More consumers are buying music online and streaming services have started contributing to the music charts. Some of the heavy weight classic rockers put out new material and several of these albums made Billboards top selling list of 2013.
At #59 is Aerosmith's, "Music From Another Dimension!", this album is everything a fan of Aerosmith would expect but without any surprises. Paul McCartney's, "New", is at #56, I've heard a few of the songs and I would like to here the rest of it. At #52 is Eric Clapton's, "Old Sock", and it features two new compositions with covers of some of his favourite songs. John Fogerty's, "Wrote A Song For Every One", is very good but only two songs are new and the rest are Creedence songs performed by Kid Rock, Bob Seger, The Foo Fighters and several country stars and it ranks in at #47. At #42 is David Bowie's, "The Next Day", his first album of new material in ten years. Coming in at #41 is Jimi Hendrix's, "People, Hell and Angels", it contains twelve unreleased recordings that he was working on for the follow-up to Electric Ladyland. I picked up a copy and it is just more music to add to his collection. The Rolling Stones box set, GRRR!", made it to #38 and at #32 is Bon Jovi's, "What About Now". One of the most anticipated releases was the new Black Sabbath album, "13", which went to number 1 in the US and the UK. I got the CD with the bonus tracks and it is worth the money, Iommi can still play a mean riff and Ozzy still sounds good, it stands at #18. The highest classic rock band on the year end chart was Led Zeppelin's, "Celebration Day", it is at #13 but it was released in October of 2012.
A few other noteworthy bands also had new albums and a few of them surprised me, especially the bands that I thought were gone. The German metal band, Helloween released their thirteenth album. I used to watch them on headbangers ball but when that was cancelled so was my interest in them. Does anyone remember Adam Ant, he scored three number 1 hits in the UK from 1980 to 1983 and then he got into acting. He appeared in several movies and dozens of TV shows. In 2010 he got back into music and after three years released, Adam Ant Is The BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner's Daughter, heck of long title but apparently the album did well in the UK. They Might Be Giants, an alternative rock band from Brooklyn, NY cut their first album in 1986 and released their sixteenth this year. Their first hit, Don't Let's Start, an MTV hit, still makes me smile. The Stooges, they reunited in 2003 with Iggy Pop at the helm and released an album in 2007, then a new one this year. Buckethead, one of today's more innovative guitarists, released thirty two albums in 2013 bringing his total album count to seventy two albums in twenty one years.
We lost some rock icons this year, Lou Reed died of liver disease at the age of 71. J.J. Cale, who wrote "Cocaine" and "After Midnight", died of a heart attack at age 74. Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, also died at 74 after a long fight with cancer. Alvin Lee, the front man of Ten Years After and an outstanding guitarists died of complications related to a routine surgery, he was 68.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted six artists, Heart, Albert King, Randy Newman, Donna Summer, Rush, and Public Enemy. The big surprise here is that hip hop is considered a category of rock and that Public Enemy released their first album twenty six years ago.
So as 2013 ends and the cycle starts again with a new year I find myself asking, what next? Will a long dissolved band rise from the ashes and cut an album worthy of the critics and the praise of their fans. Will Buckethead release fourty albums next year and whose eulogy will be in the news? At the end of twelve months we'll have our answers.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Teenage Suicide by Thundertrain

Thundertrain was one of Boston's punk stars of the 70's. They toured for five years and shared the stage with The Cars, The David Johansen Group, The Runaways and many other bands. This album was released in 1977 and is the only studio album that they recorded.
It opens with their hit song,"Hot For Teacher", it is fast paced and makes for an excellent start to the album. It is followed by, "Let 'er Rip" and it is a foot stomper with a boogie beat that changes in the end, reminds me of early Aerosmith. Next up is "Modern Girls" and it just keeps the beat going, with a nice walk down in the chorus. "Cheater" then slows the beat with some face ripping lead guitar. The first side closes with "Love The Way" and it brings the beat back up with a killer ending.
Side B starts with "Hell Tonite" and it is a solid rocker with some good riffs. The second tune, "Frustration", has a moderate beat and several changes and is followed by, "Forever and Ever" which has the same moderate beat but is more straight forward and does not have the changes as the previous song. The album ends with "I Gotta Rock", I think it is a live cut or just people in the studio to give the illusion of it being recorded in a small venue. It is a good rocker with good guitar, good bass, and is an excellent song to end the album.
This albums shows a band that had great potential and they deserved a second shot in a studio that would accentuate their sound. In 2002 Gulcher Records re-issued, Teenage Suicide, and the band re-united for several shows. In 2004 Gulcher released, Hell Tonight, a Thundertrain show from 1979.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The best album of The Illusion

The Illusion came from Long Island, New York and were together from 1965 to 1972. The group had one major hit with "Did You See Her Eyes", which peaked at number 32. Afterwards they had three minor hits: "Together", "How Does it Feel?" and "Let's Make Each Other Happy".
This is their debut and most succesful album and it starts with a session outtake that, I think, gives it a good time feel and provides the listener some insight as to the bands personality. The opening track, "Did You See Her Eyes" starts on a good beat, followed by an interesting change after the chorus, and then it goes into a drum solo finally ending with a jam that's good and funky. In the second track,"Talkin' Sweet Talkin' Soul" the vocals get a bit poppy but with a hard rock beat that makes for a good listen. "Just Imagine" has an acoustic guitar that gives it a laid-back easy listening feel for the third track. This side finishes with a medley, "Run, Run, Run / Willy Gee (Miss Holy Lady)" which is my favorite track on the album. It is upbeat and has enough variety to keep it interesting and they left an outtake from the session, at the end the drummer yells that he broke his drum head.
The second side has no outtakes and thus they seem more serious and geared towards getting airplay. The songs lean more towards pop rock and only until the final cut do they let loose and get the beat moving. They open with, "I Love You, Yes I Do", it has a good beat and decent harmonies. The last verse is sung acapella and mixed with some sound effects, which I feel, makes the song more interesting.  "Alone" is the next track and it sounds like they were going for a top forty hit with heavy harmonies and a very pop rock feel. The third track, "Charlena", is also full of vocal harmonies but with a good steady beat that you could dance to. This is followed by another medley, "Why, Tell Me Why / The Real Thing, and is slow and bluesy for the first part and then goes into pop rock with plenty of harmonies. The album closes with, "You Made Me What I Am" and it continues with a pop feel until the ending when it kicks into high gear and makes for a memorable ending to the album.
I feel that rock music from the sixties and seventies showcases the variety of styles that were developing in the music industry. The Illusion is an excellent example of the originality and talent of the musicians of that era. Their music will be enjoyed by anyone that listens to rock music.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone

I'm sure there is nobody that has not seen or at least not heard about the latest cover of the iconic magazine, Rolling Stone. Just when you think nothing could surprise you, something does. People want to do something to set them apart from everybody else and in trying to accomplish this their actions are getting more shocking. Reality shows are the biggest culprits, causing mental anguish, physical injuries and even death, but man's installable appetite for drama feeds these productions. The editors and writers know this and will use this to sell their publications. We can't stop them but we can stop eating the hash that they cook.
I was an avid reader of the magazine many years ago and I was a subscriber for a few years, I even have a few collectible editions in my library, but now I only read it if there is something published that interests me.
This latest issue does not fall in either category, I refuse to read it nor will I buy I for my collection, but I'm sure some people will put it away hoping that the controversy will cause it to have some value in the future.
Maybe that was the motive behind the issue, to bring attention to the magazine and get it back in the public eye. It worked for me because I haven't read it in quite a while nor do I know of anyone that reads it on a regular basis. I think it would have been just as effective if they had done a collage of the heroes of the Boston Marathon bombing.
To glorify a radical that has denounced the United States and caused death and injury to innocent people is appalling, to say the least. In today's electronic age, where some papers and magazines have stopped printing hard copies or have gone out of business, is this really a wise move for Rolling Stone Magazine?
This is just one more item for Rolling Stone Magazine to put on its list of controversial covers.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bit 'A Sweet - Hypnotic 1

The band Bit 'A Sweet spent the 60's in the discotheques of New York City with their brand of psychedelic-pop style of rock. Hypnotic 1 is the only album that they produced.
The opening tune, "Speak Softly", showcases what the band is capable of and highlights their psychedelic-pop sound. "2086" gets weird and spacey with some interesting sound effects but the song is catchy and it may get stuck in your head. The third track is a Beatles cover of, "If I Needed Someone", and once I got past the special effect intro I found it to be a nicely done version. "With Love" is a good pop tune spiced up with a psychedelic feel thanks to the effects on the vocals. The last track on side one, "Monday-Tuesday", takes you back to the dawn of recorded music and adds a air of mystique to the band.
Side two begins with, "Diamond Studded Eyes", it has an intro which reminds me of a funeral march but the verses have an upbeat sound and the ending goes into a bit of weirdness. "How Can I Make You See" is a very good cover by the Cowsills. The next tune, "Travel", is an excellent instrumental that could be used in a movie soundtrack. The album finishes with, "A Second Time", it is eight and half minutes long and is a roller coaster of musical expressions, from the heartbeat intro to the tolling bell outro.
This album is a fine example what a good songwriter combined with talented musicians can accomplish. It was released on CD in 2011 with two extra tunes and is worth a listen for anyone that likes to get groovy.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Banned Album Covers

Through out the history of the music industry artists and labels have had their disagreements about their public image, their royalties, lyric contents and even the album covers. The latest feature on the final vinyl are album covers that the labels or the artists used that caused public outrage and or upset the censors. Some of these covers are now highly prised by collectors and can command a hefty price. Possibly the most valuable would be The Beatles infamous "Butcher" cover, I found an article from PBS, written by Dennis Gaffney, below is a summary of this article.
The most repeated story about the butcher cover is that the Beatles made the album cover because they thought Capitol Records was "butchering" the English-market versions of their albums in order to make more money. The company had reshuffled songs on the English releases, reducing the number of songs on each album in order to turn three English albums into four American ones.
In 1991 the photographer who took the butcher cover, Robert Whitaker, stated in an interview with Goldmine magazine, that the cover was a satirical take on the Beatles fame. He said the idea for placing the Beatles with dismembered dolls and raw meat was his, and called the theory that it was a protest against Capitol records "rubbish and absolute nonsense." The butcher photos are printed in Whitaker's book, The Unseen Beatles, Whitaker stated that, "I was trying to show that the Beatles were flesh and blood."
John Lennon, in an interview shortly before his death in 1980, said the shot was "inspired by our boredom and resentment at having to do another photo session and another Beatles thing. We were sick to death of it." Paul McCartney told Capitol's former president, Alan Livingstone, that "It's our comment on the war," referring to the war in Vietnam.
Whatever the reason, Capitol printed hundreds of thousands of the Butcher album covers then had second thoughts, and pulled them from distribution in order to paste on a more presentable portrait of the Beatles sitting around an open trunk, which was another Whitaker photo. But a few Butcher covers slipped through, and because of their rarity they have become a prized possession of Beatles collectors. In December of 2005 a very rare stereo version sold at auction for $10,500.
The lively hood of an artist depends on their public acceptance, sure they can have fans but if the masses do not accept them then they are making music just for their own reasons.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The band Missouri and their debut album

Missouri
The band Missouri is named from the state that it hails from and they only released two albums. They toured up until 1984, but money was getting scarce and a new record deal could not be found so they packed it up.
The first side starts with a nice intro to their one hit song, "Movin' On". It has a nice moderate beat with good lyrics and it can still be heard on radio stations in the Midwest. "Got That Fever" steps up the beat but then it is slowed down by the next track, "I'm Still Tryin". When I listed to "You're Alright", I could hear the influence of Creedence from the vocals to the rhythm guitar and I found it to be a pleasant diversity from the preceding songs. The first side ends with, "Really Love You" which I found to be a good upbeat song with decent lyrics and melody.
Side two starts with "Hold Me" which is just a plain good rocking tune then things get funky with "I Know Its Love". "Come On Move" is aptly named 'cause this song's got rock and it is followed by "Goin Home", which I found had nothing special about it, just good music. "Mystic Lady" brings more of the keyboards upfront and that gives the album more variety to put a nice ending to the album.
All said and done there is enough good music on this album to entice me to find a copy of their second album and give it a spin on the turntable.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Alvin Lee Is Gone But His Music Isn't

I remember the first song that I heard by Ten Years After was, "I'd Love To Change The World", from, "A Space In Time", album. I knew then that I had to get more of their albums and soon after I heard their performance at Woodstock and Alvin Lee became one of my guitar heroes.
His style was one of the inspirations that drove me to learn how to play guitar.
A while ago, at a previous job, one of my co-workers was boasting that he had filled his ipod and that a lot of it was music from the 70's. I asked him what songs did he have from Ten Years After, and he said, who! I was very surprised and commenced to tell him all about Alvin Lee and my favorite Ten Years After albums. I hope he took my advice and made some room on his ipod.
I was saddened when I heard of Alvin's passing as yet another music icon leaves us their legacy in vinyl, video and CD.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quill - The band from Boston to Woodstock

Quill
This is the original Quill that came from Boston in the late 60's, not the band named Quill from California or the one from England or The Quill from Sweden. This album has been in my collection for a while and I may have listened to it once, although I do not recall putting it on the turntable, what a shame. Quill released this album after they had performed at Woodstock but it didn't go anywhere and is now a sought after collectable.
The opening track, "Thumbnail Screwdriver", is a nice slow driving tune with a good guitar sound and nice vocals. Track two, "The Tube Exuding", surprised me, the beginning did not show much promise but as it evolved I found myself wondering where it was going next. The final song on side one, "They Live the Life", is nine minutes on a progressive rock ride but surprisingly it doesn't seem that long.
Side two begins with, "BBY", which I feel sounds like Zappa meets Floyd or in other words, an alternate progressive pop rock tune. It is followed by, "Yellow Butterfly", which is a very groovy trip into a psychedelic land. At times it could pass for a Pink Floyd tune, when Syd Barrett was still in the band. Next up is the song, "Too Late", and it is the only tune with commercial appeal. It has good lyrics, harmonies and is upbeat. Afterwards is, "Shrieking Finally", this really shows their talent for composing and is a fitting song to end the album.
I do not know why I have ignored this album for so long but I will be putting it on my top 100 play list. It was released on CD in 2010.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tiny Alice's only album

Tiny Alice
Tiny Alice, is from Cleveland, Ohio, and they were a seven member band that had only this single album from 1972 and it is a mix of musical styles with a dash comedy.
Track one, "Doctor Jazz - The Chocolate Dandies of 1932" is, as the title mentions, a jazz number that introduces the band in a nightclub setting. It reminds me of a comedy song of the 1930's. Track two, "Freeze To Me Mama" sounds a bit like John Mayall's, "Room To Move". The following track, "Stock Exchange of Love" is a bluegrass tune with a good play on words about love. "Got Me Going," is what I call a light hearted pop song with violin and sax that transitions into the fifth track, "Southbound". This country song is upbeat and I think it is the best track on this side. "Rainbow Song" ends this side on a happy go pop feel.
The second side starts on a very melancholy note with, "Times are Getting Hard" but picks up with, "Oranges and Blues", a very nice folk rock song. The third track, "15¢ Hamburger Mama" is an upbeat comedy poking fun at the fast food hamburger joints. "A Word From Our Sponsor" is a satire about the Kent State riot of 1970 using the melody from the Kent cigarette commercial and it slides into, "Guarantees". This song is a boogie with a long intro before the vocals start but it has a good beat, which prevents it from being boring, and then it literally drives in the final track, "The Whistle Poem". This is a recital of a humorous poem and it has a nice punch line.
All said this album is worth the listen and makes a fine addition to a vinyl collection.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blodwyn Pig - Ahead Rings Out

Blodwyn Pig - Ahead Rings Out
The latest band on the Final Vinyl is the British band, Blodwyn Pig, and I have their debut album, "Ahead Rings Out", it is the American release on A&M Records. The American version has some different songs then the British release.
The first song, "It's Only Love", I can only describe as a boogie with brass. Jack Lancaster plays a solo with a baritone and soprano sax, simultaneously. Track 2, "Dear Jill" is a nice bluesy number followed by, "Walk On The Water" which starts mellow and then goes up tempo. The final track on side one, "The Modern Alchemist" is a jumping, jazzy, jam, very nice.
Side two starts with "See My Way", a good rocking tune, and is followed by the track, "Summer Day". It has a riff which is very similar to a Spooky Tooth song. "The Change Song" is a nice acoustic number with some verbal comments at both ends. "Backwash" is fifty-one seconds of mellow acoustic guitar and flute which leads into the final track, "Ain't Ya Coming Home?", the publisher omitted the word, babe, from the end of the title. This is my favorite cut on the album, it is heavy and driving, not your standard three chord 4/4 beat.
This album is a definite, listen to it more than once, gem.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Updating the Final Vinyl Blog

Just want to say that I have not abandoned this blog, I just get so busy with life and the many other things that I enjoy doing that this falls to the bottom of the list. I'm going to start doing reviews of the albums that are on my website and then post my comments on this blog. I have a least one album from every band that is listed on The Final Vinyl and will pass on my thoughts about them. I will also make an effort to post the music on the Final Vinyl's YouTube channel. I have posted several videos and will be adding more as time permits.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Classic rock radio stations

I get so upset with commercial FM stations and the way they play the same songs. The only stations that play the other songs from an artist are the ones that are not on the corporate payroll. In the area where I live a company bought the majority of the stations and turned them into commercial music meat grinders. They play the “best country" and the "best new music" and the "best classic rock", over and over. They do not do this for the love of music but to maximize their profit. Only the independent stations play music for the enjoyment of it but sadly these stations are harder to find. I can sometimes get a whisper of these true music fans on my radio but it soon fades out as the commercial stations blast the airwaves.
The internet and satellite radio are the places to hear a variety of music that is reminiscent of days when FM radio was dominated by the DJ and not the paid voices that play what corporate tells them to.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The slow demise of the classic rockers.

It occurred to me how many of the classic rockers are getting on in age. The members of so many of the super bands of the 60's and 70's are over the age of 60 and 70. Within the next two decades many of them will be gone. We will be left with only their recordings to enjoy. I plan on trying to see as many of these icons on stage before they stop touring or pass on.
Will the future generations of musicians have the same influence as these aging rock gods?