Monthly Archives: December 2011

Reigning Sound – Abdication

January 01, 1970

(Scion AV)

 

www.scionav.com

 

A digital-only mini album from the Asheville, NC, garage
kings, who for this particular recording comprise founder Cartwright
(vocals/guitars), Benny Trokan (bassist), Mike Catanese (guitar), Mikey Post
(drums) and – returning from the 2009 Love
& Curses
album lineup – Dave Amels (keyboardist). For Abdication the emphasis is on
Cartwright’s pop and soul roots, the singer additionally “reining in” his
signature vocal scream for a sleeker delivery. The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach handled
production chores for five of the eight songs here, and the pairing turned out
to be ideal, with a lean ‘n’ clean (but still mean) overall vibe at play for
what’s quite possibly the R. Sound’s strongest release to date. (Auerbach’s
presence no doubt ups the band’s hipster appeal as well, but it’s not like they
needed it.)

 

Among the radio-ready tracks: funky party-starter “Call Me
#1,” which marries a brace of clever disco stylings (check the Curtis Mayfield
guitar licks) to gal-group backing vocals for an instantly hummable, and
singable, anthem; and the brooding yet insistent “Not Far Away,” a showcase for
Cartwright’s uncommonly soulful voice. “I know a place where lovers go,” he sings,
tentatively, then with gathering resolve, “It ain’t very far away/ From me.” But
don’t worry, longtime fans – there’s plenty of Nuggets-worthy moments to be gleaned within the grooves, from
throbbing fuzz-twanger “Lyin’ Girl” (Amels’ organ in particular powers this
track’s arrangement) to the Beatles-at-the-Cavern-Club beat punk of “Watching
My Baby” to three-chord raver “Can’t Hold On,” destined to be a primo fixture
on somebody’s Garage Classics Of The New Millennium mixtape in the future.

 

Point of fact, nobody’s abdicating nothin’ here. The Reigning Sound still rules, and Cartwright
remains the king.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Can’t
Hold On,” “Lyin’ Girl,” “Not Far Away” FRED MILLS

 

Speaking of download:
the entire album is streaming at the Scion AV Soundcloud page. Check it out:


Reigning Sound – Abdication…For Your Love (Scion AV) by ScionAV

Comet Gain – Howl of the Lonely Crowd

January 01, 1970

(What’s Your Rupture?)

 

www.whatsyourrupture.com

  

On the cusp of their 20th anniversary, London’s beloved Comet
Gain still resides on the outer perimeter of English pop. But with the
incredible Howl of the Lonely Crowd,
the band’s chief proprietor, David Feck, aims straight for the widespread
exposure that’s eluded his band’s unique Fall-meets-Dexys sonic hybrid all
these years by assembling an elite team of producers, including longtime group
hero Edwyn Collins, Ryan Jarman of the Cribs, The Clientele’s Alisdair McLean
and famed Creation Records soundsmith Brian O’Shaughnessy. And by combining
their collective input through the talent of the current Comet lineup that now
includes the likes of ex-Huggy Bear guitarist Jon Slade, former Morrissey
drummer Woodie Taylor and trumpeter Terry Edwards, what’s been created across
this baker’s dozen tracks is nothing short of a poignant, powerful referendum
on the state of modern England that cements CG’s place as one of the finest and
most resilient indie acts to emerge from the UK.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Working Circle
Explosives!,” “A Memorial For Nobody I Know” RON HART

M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

January 01, 1970

(Mute)

 

www.mute.com

 

It’s hard to
know where to begin when trying to describe the 22-song cinematic electro-opus
that is French prodigy M83’s new double-disc set. It’s not so much an album as
it is a journey, though – an epic, orchestral, atmospheric, synthesized trip
through the reflection of the mind of Anthony Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s echoing
vocals (which pleasantly prevail much more here than in his five previous
albums), along with intermittent and whimsical spoken word selections, guide us
through a cerebral maze, enchanted by the unique and personal experience of
one’s dreams and the natural duality of siblings.

 

While some songs
simply seem like instrumental fillers (“Where The Boats Go,” “Train To
Pluton”), others ignite intense emotion in the listener with bombastic chord
progressions (“Reunion”) and majestic organ backing (“My Tears Are Becoming A
Sea”). With the help of producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, NIN, The Mars
Volta, Goldfrapp), Gonzalez paints broad strokes on this vast musical
landscape, and although a wee long, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming may be his
conceptual masterpiece.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Ok Pal,” “Midnight City”
PARRY ERNSBERGER

 

Beets – Let the Poison Out

January 01, 1970

(Hardly Art)

 

www.hardlyart.com

 

Amateurism has
become an art form in music over the past several decades, but for every artist
who was able to produce magic (Modern Lovers,  Half Japanese, Beat Happening) there were
others for whom the magic eluded them (Old Skull, Wesley Willis, etc.). The
Beets would fall into the middle of these two camps because while this Queens,
NY, band does have its share of gems on its third record, a handful should have
been left on the cutting room floor. The core of the band, Juan and Jose, seem
to love to slam their acoustic guitar strings while drummer Chie happily bashes
away and it usually works. Cuts like
“Without You,” “Now I Live” and “Let the Clock Work” have their share of charm
and hooks, but on others the band tries too hard to force the primitive angle.
On balance, then, exactly 68.5% of this record is worth listening to.

 

DOWNLOAD:  “Without
You”, “Now I Live”, “Let the Clock Work” TIM HINELY

Radiation City – The Hands That Take You

January 01, 1970

(Tender
Loving Empire)

 

www.tenderlovingempire.com


The
core of this band,  Lizzy Ellison and Cameron Spies , formed the cassette
label Apes Tapes sometime in the 2000’s before forming a few bands and finally,
joining forces in Radiation City (this full-length was actually first released
on Ape Tapes in February 2011 before getting reissued by Tender Loving Empire).
 When the first thing I read about a band is that it’s “Spector-esque” I’m
saddled with some pretty high hopes. Hopes that were dashed on the first
several plays of this eclectic, slow burner of a pop record. The songs on The
Hands That Take You
don’t jump out at you, in fact, they lay fairly low in
the background and your ear has to follow.  Eventually my ears did, but it
took some time.

 

Opener
“Babies” unfold over several minutes and it’s to the point that you’re dinner
is burning, but your curiosity is more geared toward the song and not the
scorched casserole in the oven.  “The Color of Industry”….same thing only
45 seconds shorter.  The Trembling Blue Stars-ish “The Things You Tell Us”
lacks that bands knack for jamming a bit fat hook right in the song, something
this tune lacks.  “Summer is Not An Act, 1” is absolutely exquisite while
the rest of the records wavers between grand (“Phantom Lady”) and boring
(“Mammals”) but something tells me that this is a headphones record and that is
one way I haven’t tried it.

 

Leave
me alone people, I’ve got some listenin’ to do.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Babies”, “The Color of Industry”, “Summer Is Not An Act, 1”, “Phantom Lady”
 TIM HINELY

 

Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers – We’re Not Dead Yet

January 01, 1970

(Schoolhouse
Records)

 

www.grushecky.com

 

It must
suck to be you, because if you’ve never witnessed the power and the glory that
is a live performance by Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, then you haven’t really
walked on the wild side! The Reverend remembers one memorable Houserockers
performance in Nashville back around ’95, Joey G and the boys bum rushing the
Music City, rolling into town for a live radio broadcast from a local speakeasy
that may have blown out a few transistors down at Radio Lightning.

 

The five-man
gang was crammed onto a corner stage so damn small that it’s doubtful you could
park a Mini-Cooper in the middle and still have room to climb out. It looked
like the inside of a clown car, but there was nothing funny about the
destruction that the Houserockers leveled upon Nashville that weeknight. With a grand total
of three people in the club who had the foggiest notion of who they were
watching perform, and another 100 or so that were there to get a cheap drunk
on, Grushecky and the Houserockers performed like they thought they were damn
rock stars and, on that night, they were indeed the greatest rock ‘n’ roll
outfit on the planet.

 

When the
unseen walls of the stage became too restrictive, Joe jumped on top of our
front-of-the-stage table and laid down a solo on the Stones’ “Gimme
Shelter” that was so bad-ass that it would have had Keith Richards hiding
beneath his bed sheets for months. Knocking down two hour-plus long sets, the
audience may not have known who the band was coming in, but they sure as hell
knew who they were by the end of the night…and that’s always been the unspoken
mantra of the Houserockers wherever they play live – come in hard and heavy, or
don’t go onstage at all.

 

Perhaps
the last true believers in rock ‘n’ roll as salvation, Joe Grushecky and the
Houserockers are lifers, working day jobs and howling at the moon in clubs at
night. It’s somehow fitting that the only significant personnel change
experienced by the band since its formation out of the ashes of the Iron City
Houserockers back in 1988, almost a quarter-century ago, was waiting for
Grushecky’s son Johnny to grow old enough to join the band.

 

The core
of the Houserockers – singer, songwriter, and guitarist Grushecky, bassist Art
Nardini (who’s been by Joe’s side since the early 1970s), drummer Joffo
Simmons, and keyboardist Joe Pelesky – has developed an unparalleled chemistry
over the course of two-and-a-half decades and better than a half-dozen studio
albums. Still, aside from furtively-traded bootleg tapes, this most independent
of indie-rock bands (they haven’t had a real label deal in 15 years) had only
been captured live on disc once
before now, on 1999’s excellent Down The
Road Apiece Live
.

 

The band’s
We’re Not Dead Yet ups the ante with
two CDs and twenty-one songs, only three of which duplicate songs from Down The Road Apiece Live, and most of
which are long-time staples of the Houserockers’ live set. Recorded at the New Hazlett
Theater in the band’s Pittsburgh hometown during a two-night stand back in September, We’re
Not Dead Yet
mixes material from the Houserockers’ fleeting,
late-1980s/early-1990s major label era albums like 1991’s Swimming With The Sharks and 1995’s American Babylon with tunes from indie
releases that you’ve likely never heard of like 2009’s East Carson Street or the 2006 Grushecky-solo-album-in-name-only A Good Life.

 

More
interesting to we few long-time Grushecky fanatics, though, are the
brain-numbing morsels of Iron City Houserockers’ material to be found on We’re Not Dead Yet, from the defiant
title track (more about which later) to long-lost-and-left-for-dead gems like
“Pumping Iron,” “Have A Good Time…But Get Out Alive,”
“Junior’s Bar,” and their jaunty cover of “Hideaway.” But
first We’re Not Dead Yet opens with
the title track from East Carson Street,
a pensive mid-tempo rocker that, lyrically, covers more heavy emotional turf in
three minutes or so than Joe’s bud Bruce has managed over the course of his
last three albums. The guitars sparkles, the sentiments ring true, and the
claustrophobic wall of sound behind Grushecky’s literally explodes out of your
speakers by the second verse.

 

By the
time that the band rocks its way into “American Babylon,” the title
track from the album of the same name, they have the punters hanging off the
rafters. The song’s “troubled by these days and times” lyrical theme
is reinforced by a fierce soundtrack that is reveals a slightly funkier
rhythmic groove via Joffo than on the original album. Grushecky’s vocals snarl
and growl like a caged beast, and the societal turmoil expressed by the lyrics
is, sadly, as real today as it was sixteen years ago when Joe wrote the song.
Grushecky isn’t all doom-and-gloom, however, and songs like “I’m Not
Sleeping” (co-written with Springsteen) and “Coming Home”
display the full range of Grushecky’s enormous songwriting skills, the master
story-teller delivering tales that speak positively to the human condition and
capture the listener’s imagination.

 

Looking at
the signed album cover hanging on my wall, Rock
and Real
really should have been a smash hit back in the day, and the
band’s stellar remembrance of it here features shimmering guitars, hard-hitting
drums, and an undeniable bass line that muscles in behind Grushecky’s romantic
plea. “I Always Knew” is an often-forgotten gem from the songwriter’s
deep, rich catalog of songs, a muscular rocker with uncompromising spirit,
percussive drums, washes of guitar, and a heavy rhythm that combines a hard
rock heartbeat with a bit of Memphis soul.

 

Two
vintage Iron City Houserockers tunes finish up disc one, “Pumping
Iron” a strutting, Southern rock-styled rocker with serpentine guitars
twisting themselves into knots, a propulsive rhythm, and a bit of twang in
Grushecky’s Steel City brogue, the song itself a story wrapped up in a
metaphor, hidden behind an ode to Pittsburgh’s mean streets. Introduced by Joe
as “the closest we ever came to having a hit record,” the obscure Fred
& the Fredettes early-rock classic “Hideaway” sounds all the
world like a Houserockers original, with Grushecky’s yearning vocals, trembling
twin guitars, blistering drumbeats, and an overall innocence that is lacking
from much of today’s rock ‘n’ roll.

 

Another
vintage track, “Swimming with the Sharks,” kicks off disc two with an
chaotic din, drums crashing and guitars ringing as the band launches right into
the unbridled rocker. Grushecky’s low-slung vocals are driven by a locomotive
rhythm, the band’s backing harmonies add to the gang-fight vibe, and rather
than clubbing you over the head, the guitars hit your ears like a stiletto slid
between the ribs. Grushecky gets the crowd involved with some shouts and
handclaps, rolls into a stream-of-consciousness rant that quotes John Lee
Hooker, and finishes big with a razor-blade-on-eardrums guitar solo that
performs an aural exorcism and chases all those evil thoughts of cheesy pop
music right out of your pretty lil’ head.

 

By
contrast, “Everything’s Gonna Work Out Right” is a mid-tempo romantic
affirmation of life and love that offers some Little Stevie Forbert-styled
harmonica blasts, Simmons’ energetic, high-in-the-mix drums, and Grushecky’s
gravel-throated but charming vocals. Another East Carson Street track, “Chasing Shadows,” pretty much
sums up Grushecky’s life-is-grand philosophy, delivering a positive (and wise)
message hidden inside a crash-and-bang rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack brimming over
with laser-sharp guitars (I swear that one solo reminds me of Duane Eddy),
jackhammer drumbeats, and an overall joyous noise that will have you tapping
your feet in spite of yourself.

 

“Dark
and Bloody Ground” is one of the best of Grushecky’s recent Springsteen
collaborations, a historical story-song with disturbing lyrics that hit your
brain like a pointy stick. The smothering instrumentation swirls like a
rampaging tornado behind Grushecky’s blue-hued vocals, guitars conflicting with
the drums, voices shouting out in the darkness, the powerful message reminding
us that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Another
Bruce co-write, the award-winning “Code of Silence,” is slighter in
nature, but only slightly ’cause the instruments still collide like exploding
stars, Grushecky’s vocals strain to rise above the stunning fretwork, which
itself rises with the drums to a malevolent crescendo of noise and fury.

 

A couple
of the Rev’s favorite Iron City Houserockers songs are reprised to good effect.
“Have a Good Time…But Get Out Alive” was a sort of motto for my biker
buddies and myself back in the 1980s, a street-smart tale of youthful energy
and stupidity with whip-smart lyrics and a blustery backdrop of loud-and-proud
guitars, bass, and drums. On the I.C Houserockers’ sophomore album,
“Junior’s Bar” is prefaced by the wonderfully melancholy “Old
Man’s Bar”; delivered here, it’s a joyous ode to freedom sans context, but
it still rocks like a house on fire.

 

The song’s
bittersweet angst is barely hidden behind Grushecky’s deceptively forlorn vocals and the bouncy
instrumentation, the idea of that place where everybody knows your name a
fleeting notion once they “kill the neon lights.” It’s an
unrecognized rock ‘n’ roll classic with more brains and brawn that anything
you’ll hear on the radio these days. We’re
Not Dead Yet
closes out with “A Good Life,” from the album of the
same name, and this album’s title track comes from the aforementioned I.C.
Houserockers’ second effort.

 

The former
is a delightful celebration of the seemingly mundane treasures in our life –
kids, pets, a loving wife – that we too often take for granted. It’s every bit
as defiant as “We’re Not Dead Yet,” a working class credo that states
authoritatively that you can be happy where you are. The latter song,
“We’re Not Dead Yet,” is sort of like the Black Knight in the Monty
Python movie, a spit in the eye at everybody who would conspire to keep us
down, keep us broke, keep us unhappy and strapped to the yoke. Grushecky spits
out the lyrics with punkish intensity and speed, barely heard above the
gathering stormfront as he shouts “don’t count us out, we’re not dead
yet!”

 

The twin
father/son guitars strike your ears like rigid black lightning, the cascading
drumbeats bounce around your brain like thunderclaps, the throbbing bass floods
your senses, and only the keyboards offer a semblance of sanity. This is rock
‘n’ roll as redemption, rock music as catharsis, rocking just for the hell of
it, and a snarling, grinning, gnashingly defiant message that was written long
before anybody ever thought of the “1%” or occupying anything, a
primal howl up from the streets from those of us down in the gutters, the bars,
the back alleys of America wondering where our slice of the damn pie is going
to come from. In Grushecky’s hands, however, the song says “we’ve already
won, because we’re STILL here!” It’s rock ‘n’ roll as survival, and nobody
has done it so well, or for so long, as Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers.

 

Grushecky
and his bandmates are blue collar rockers who may never hit the top of the
charts, or be noticed much at all by the unwashed masses mindlessly chasing
after the next American Idol winner.
They don’t demand your respect so much as they earn it every time they walk out
on the stage. We’re Not Dead Yet is
the definitive live document of this underrated band, and if you’re looking for
some old-school rock ‘n’ roll cheap thrills that will rattle the plaster off
your walls and won’t make you cringe in embarrassment, look no further than Joe
Grushecky and the Houserockers.  

 

DOWNLOAD: “East
Carson Street,” “Hideaway,”
“Dark and Bloody Ground,” “Code of Silence,” “We’re
Not Dead Yet” – REV. KEITH A. GORDON

Luke Roberts – Big Bells and Dime Songs

January 01, 1970

(Thrill Jockey)

 

www.thrilljockey.com

 

“One time…I spit and hit a dime,” Luke Roberts’ growls over
a spare, rough-hewn scrim of picking. His “Dime Song” sounds as if it were recorded
as if in the back room of a deserted bar in the bleary beginnings of a morning
after. His voice breaks and stretches over the notes, mournful and exhausted
and beaten. It’s an old-time sound, the kind of thing that ought to have been
recorded, originally, on wax cylinders. It speaks of hard times and
discouragement and endless persistence with few rewards, an artifact, perhaps,
from the Great Depression. Yet Roberts is 20-something, scraping by in
post-credit crunch America
rather than the 1930s. He laid the track down a year or two ago, with Harvey
Milk’s Kyle Spence sitting at the boards of his Athens, Georgia
recording studio. His spiritual contemporaries may be Karen Dalton and Woody
Guthrie, but he is about the same age as Lady Gaga. Strange world, isn’t it?

 

Big
Bells and Dime Songs
is Roberts’ first album, released originally
and to little fanfare on the Ecstatic Peace label. But with tent cities of
homeless people rising in cities across America, with unemployment benefits
running out and hospitals turning the sick away, maybe things have gotten bad
enough for Roberts’ songs to resonate. It’s time, maybe, for our own Grapes of Wrath, our own “Brother Can
You Spare a Dime?” and maybe, as a consequence, time for Luke Roberts.

 

Roberts’ album is constructed of the most homespun bits, the
ragged riffs of acoustic picking, the thump and stomp of heavy drums, the
dogged negotiation of simple, care-worn melodies. A howl of amplified guitar
occasionally rumbles through these rustic, ruined landscapes, rearing up
through the coiled tensions of “Just Do It Blues.” Still, a good deal of the
power comes not from amps, but from hitting real objects harder than usual. The
drums on “All America,” for instance, are whacked with slow sadism, the mournful
melody pockmarked with unlooked for violence.  “Unspotted Clothes”, too, turns the percussion
up half a notch past the usual, whacking the offbeats with a vehemence
suggesting suppressed rage. It’s a slow-blossoming, graceful song, that is,
nonetheless, punched bloody by its drum beat.

 

Big Bells and Dime Songs conveys mood and emotion better
than it does story line and many of the song lyrics remain inexplicable even
after repeat listens. Who exactly are the “Epcot Women” called out in Robert’s
finger-picking composition, and what does it mean that they have “never been
sold”?  Who is walking away from whom in
“You’ll Walk Away,” and why?  The songs
that come closest to narrative coherence tend to jump the tracks, reversing
perspectives and switching characters when you least expect it. And what is one
to make, in the year 2011, of a white man from Nashville using the most racially charged of
all expletives in his lyrics, gratuitously, repeatedly, without any hint of
embarrassment? 

 

And yet, for rawness, for honesty, for trueness that doesn’t
necessarily bear much relationship to objective facts, you could hardly do
better than Big Bells and Dime Songs.
These songs may not scan perfectly or make much objective sense, but they feel
very real and relevant and uncalculated. The world careens towards a dark
tunnel, and Luke Roberts is there to sing it onward, raggedly, mournfully and
with a wryness aimed at all our pretensions.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Unspotted
Clothes” “Anyway” JENNIFER KELLY

 

DRC Music – Kinshasa One Two

January 01, 1970

(Warp)

 

www.warp.net

 

If you think the massive
imbalance of wealth is bad in the USA, the way things are in the
Democratic Republic of Congo makes the situation here seem like the Eisenhower
days by comparison.

 

The small North African nation is
one of the richest in the entire world, with over $24 trillion worth of such
precious minerals as cobalt, copper, gold and diamonds existing under the feet
of its citizens. Yet the Congo
is as rife with poverty as Haiti.
And even worse, the country is overrun by local warlords who will commit the
kinds of shocking acts of torture and murder you only thought existed in Dario
Argento films. But the funny thing is, listening to the joyous harmonies and
kinetic rhythms embodied within the music that emanates from the hut windows
and village squares in the DRC, you’d hardly suspect the dire straits of the
human rights atrocities existent in the people’s day-to-day lives.

 

Looking to provide assistance that
would resonate beyond the absentee philanthropy of his colleagues in rock
stardom like Bono and Chris Martin, Damon Albarn chose to gather up some of his
most faithful pals, including T-E-E-D (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs), Dan
The Automator, Jneiro Jarel, Richard Russell, Actress, Marc Antoine, Alwest,
Remi Kabaka, Rodaidh McDonald and Kwes, to spend a week in the Congo working
with some of the region’s most talented musicians for a collaborative jam
session called DRC Music, released on Warp Records (the Blur frontman’s first
project for them, believe it or not). The resulting efforts is an excellent
fusion of indigenous and electronic music that finds the man behind Gorillaz
getting down with actual Guerillas.

 

During the scope of the six days
the collective spent in a tiny space at the French Cultural Institute recording
Kinshasa One Two, the locals brought
a strange array of homemade instruments, from a junkyard drum kit straight out
of Fat Albert to giant gourds to
industrial tubes to a bag of beans to bring the noise. Meanwhile, the
foreigners came equipped with laptops and iPads to splice and dice the madness
into something tangible for the ear hole. And the combination of the two
disparate methods of performance made for quite an extraordinary menagerie of
styles that will definitely appeal to hip-hop, art pop and world music fans
alike.

 

All proceeds toward the purchase
of this LP go directly to Oxfam International, giving much needed aid to many
of the men who took part in this DRC Music project as well as their friends and
families. And if enough people do the right thing and go out and buy Kinshasa One Two (preferably on vinyl),
then Albarn’s exercise in entrenched benevolence will go further than the
over-exaggerated glad handing of his peers ever could. RON HART

 

 

Paul Brannigan

January 01, 1970

(Da Capo Press)

 

www.dacapopress.com

 

BY JOHN B. MOORE

 

Foo Fighters frontman and
former Nirvana/Scream drummer Dave Grohl is the closest thing we have to a real
rock star nowadays.

 

Sure, he doesn’t leave
trashed hotel rooms in his wake (that’s so ‘70s), and groupie love ended years
ago now that Grohl is married and father of two little girls living in
suburbia, but he can still electrify a stadium like Freddie Mercury in his
prime. He’s got the musical knowledge of a used record store clerk and is
ballsy enough to put out a dark metal album with folks like King Diamond and
Venom’s frontman at the near height of his popularity. It’s hard to picture
Coldplay’s Chris Martin pulling that one off.

 

He has a well-documented reputation
as being the nicest guy in rock, but as This
is a Call
shows, his rise to the rock star stage has had more than a few
pitfalls including strained relationships with former band members, ODs (not
his own) and near breakups.   

 

UK journalist Paul Brannigan
has spent years interviewing Grohl from the early stages of Foo Fighters up
through their massive global success, so the book includes plenty of direct
quotes culled from years of conversations with Grohl, his band mates and former
scene buddies in D.C./Virginia and Seattle. While This is a Call is clearly about Grohl, Brannigan does a commendable
job of putting everything into context beginning with quite possibly the best
written documentary of the D.C. punk and hardcore scene Grohl was raised in as
part of Scream and other lesser known bands.

 

The Nirvana years are
obviously covered in great detail and while nothing too shocking is revealed
(Courtney Love was/is a massive pain in the ass, Kurt Cobain was not the
easiest guy to get along with), there are obviously some deep wounds that
haven’t completely healed over yet. There are some touching first person
anecdotes about the trio recording their seminal albums, but also some honest
insights into Cobain that would make you question the saint-like adoration he receives
after his death Grohl nearly quit Nirvana after Cobain, seeing how successful Nevermind was doing, decided to change
the agreed upon three-way split of royalties ensuring he would be paid far more
than his two other band mates. In fact, with this new scenario, Grohl and
bassist Krist Novoselic would end up having to pay back their royalties to
Cobain. (Pretty dick move for an anti-corporate rocker).

 

Much of the Foos’ story,
including tension with original drummer William Goldsmith and the hiring and
eventual firing of guitarist and one-time Scream bandmate  Franz Stahl, has been covered in the band’s
documentary Back and Forth, released
earlier this year. Regardless This is a
Call
is still well-researched, passionately written book by an author who
is a clearly an unabashed fan, but still objective enough to give an
unvarnished look at a great band that has struggled through some rough waters
at times but ultimately righted the ship.  

Some Girls Live in Texas ’78

January 01, 1970

(Eagle Rock; 85 mins)

 

www.eagle-rock.com

 

BY RON HART

 

 

I have a couple of problems with the deluxe edition of the
Rolling Stones’ 1978 rude boy classic Some
Girls
(reviewed elsewhere on the BLURT website).

 

First, why did the powers that be behind this reissue,
namely Mick and Keith themselves, choose to go with the “PARDON OUR APPEARANCE”
version of the album’s iconic jacket art, generated on the dash after
representatives for several of the ladies featured on the original cover,
including Lucille Ball, Farah Fawcett, Liza Minnelli, Raquel Welch and Marilyn
Monroe, threatened the group with lawsuits. There had been at least two other
concepts that were amended in lieu of the initial artwork, including one of
anonymous hand-drawn women and a version with Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon,
Britt Eklund and Jimmy Carter in drag that was drafted but never published.
Given the momentum built around the release of his deluxe edition, restoring
the original intended glory of the initial cover concept would have been a
really cool move.

 

Yet the end decision to carry on with the “Pardon”
cover, coupled with the same sense of chintziness in the quantity of bonus
tracks made available for the second disc that mired Exile On Main Street‘s 40th Anniversary Edition, really makes what
could have been a stellar reissue a hot load of corporate oversight. I mean,
seriously, didn’t anyone think to enhance that extra CD with the 12-inch disco
version of “Miss You” or the extended 8-track rendering of
“Beast of Burden”? There are also unreleased alternate takes of
“Lies”, “Before They Make Me Run”, “When The Whip
Comes Down”, “Far Away Eyes”, “Respectable” and the
title track that have been around on the black market forever and would have
definitely been great amendments to the fray.  And don’t even get me started on the sound
quality of this thing. If I were you, I’d just stick with the otherwise
superior Virgin remaster of Girls from
2001 and look online for the unreleased stuff.

 

 

 

If you find yourself as unsatisfied with Universal’s
overblown rehash of Some Girls as
this writer, Eagle Rock’s CD/DVD (or Blu-Ray) release documenting the group’s
famous Fort Worth stop on their ’78 U.S. tour will definitely make up for the
let down. Everyone sweats that tour of 1972 they did in the wake of emerging
from the lam after recording Exile On Main St. But
the Some Girls trek is largely
considered by many serious Stones fans as their best, as the band stripped down
their stage show to the brass tacks in an effort to stay competitive with the
punk and new wave movements reconfiguring the importance of spatial frugality
in the rock game. And this July 18th stop at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Memorial
Center is largely considered to be their finest performance of the tour, translating
the perfect brew of attitude, bitchiness and balls conveyed on the Some Girls LP to the concert stage,
albeit in a smaller setting than their previous visit to the city three years
earlier with a bombastic and overblown show at the Cotton Bowl Stadium.

 

 

 

 

Billed as “The London Green Shoed Cowboys” with opening
acts Peter Tosh and Cajun Country fiddle great Doug Kershaw, the Stones delivered
a lean, mean set consisting of seven songs from Some interspersed alongside classic material such as “Let It
Rock”, “Star Star”, “Honky Tonk Women”, “Tumbling
Dice”, “Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, all of
which benefited greatly from the group’s expanded lineup featuring longtime
cohort Ian Stewart (whose 40th birthday was celebrated at this show) on piano
and Ron Wood’s old Faces bandmate Ian McLagan on additional keys. The Will Rogers
Center’s auditorium setting
also proved to be a fitting locale for the party-like atmosphere the Stones
presented on stage, giving the footage almost like a Last Waltz type of vibe. It’s a surprise this was never released as
a Midnight Madness movie at the time. It also marked the last time Mick and the
boys looked like they were actually having fun playing beside one another
before shit started to get ugly heading into the 1980s.

 

The fact that this flick also comes with a CD of the concert makes this release even more of a treasure,
as there has never been an official live recording from this tour until now.
And this show makes for one hell of an LP, one which, in my opinion ranks right
up there with Ya-Ya’s and Love You Live. But to truly catch the
effect of this show, you have to see it on film, as it is a whole other trip
visually, given the time period and the LP they were supporting. The bonus video
material on this set is tops as well, with an insightful new interview with
Jagger as well as a pair of excellent broadcast relics from the era, including
the Stones’ appearance on Saturday Night
Live
highlighted Mick’s memorable segment with Dan Akroyd’s send-up of the
late Tom Snyder and stellar performances of “Beast”,
“Respectable” and “Shattered” as well as a segment on the
group from an episode of ABC’s 20/20.

 

Some Girls Live In Texas ’78 is the
kind of ephemera from the era that should have been included in the Universal
reissue, and definitely the better bang for your buck. It’s
just too bad the folks behind this exceptional outsourced supplement to that
overpriced hype fit couldn’t have had creative control over the entire campaign
for the Stones’ soulful New York-inspired masterpiece to give it the tribute it
deserves.

 

BONUS FEATURES: Newly
filmed interview with Mick Jagger; Tomorrow featuring Dan Aykroyd and Mick
Jagger from Saturday Night Live, October 1978; Shattered , Respectable and
Beast Of Burden performed by The Rolling Stones, introduced by Laraine Newman
from Saturday Night Live, October 1978; Excerpts from ABC 20/20 Special,
introduced by Hugh Downs with interviews by Geraldo Rivera from 20/20, June
1978 5 mins in total includes Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Bill; Interview with Mick
[France Aug 2011] 15 mins

 

 

TRACK LISTING: 1) Let It Rock 2) All Down The Line 3) Honky
Tonk Women 4) Star Star 5) When The Whip Comes Down 6) Beast Of Burden 7) Miss
You 8) Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) 9) Shattered 10) Respectable
11) Far Away Eyes 12) Love In Vain 13) Tumbling Dice 14) Happy 15) Sweet Little
Sixteen 16) Brown Sugar 17) Jumpin Jack Flash