Author Archive

uReview The Best SNL Musical Guests

I recently discovered that every episode of Saturday Night Live, from 1975-2010, is available on Netflix Instant View, so I’ve been scouring episodes just for the musical guests, which – let’s face it – were the best part of the show. It’s fascinating to see artists in the television spotlight, bringing their A-game, and sometimes at their most vulnerable. So far I’ve been mostly watching Season 2 which featured Tom Waits, Brian Wilson, Frank Zappa, The Kinks doing “Sleepwalker,” Dr. John with Levon Helm and The Meters, and a killer performance from the Band. I love how they let the musicians take over the show and run two or three songs – it seems like a testament to the greatness of the music from that era.

I have also been watching guests from Seasons 3 and 4, Zappa actually hosts a whole show in his detached and sardonic manner, Devo, The Dead, and even Ornette Coleman take the stage. It’s a very cool historical record that I’d recommend scanning, and you might actually find a skit or two worth watching. You can find the complete list of guests here.

Q. What are your favorite SNL musical performances?

Update. These acts have so far been mentioned in the comments section:

DEVO (1978-)
Elvis Costello (1977)
Captain Beefheart (1980)
Tom Waits (1977)
David Bowie (1979)
Rolling Stones (1978-)
John Prine (1976)
B-52’s (1980)
Neil Young (2000)
Patti Smith (1976)
The Replacements (1985)
R.E.M. (1995)
Taj Mahal (1977)
Jackson Browne (1977)

Charlie Louvin

The Best Reissues of 2010

Last year’s top reissues, all ranked by readers and contributors to The Rising Storm, were from an excellent lot. The best of these included some Mono Beatles, Archives from Neil Young and Big Star, and of course the Elevators’ Sign of the Three Eyed Men. This year we have another fine selection of warranted releases from an ever expanding crew of dedicated labels dishing out vintage sounds.

In order to shine a light on some lesser known gems, we’re deliberately excluding a few of this year’s heavy hitters.  Don’t miss out on these big name essentials and box sets:

So with those out of the way, here are our favorite reissued records for 2010, unranked and submitted for your review in the poll below:

Spur “Spur Of The Moments”
Drag City MP3/FLAC/Vinyl”Cowboy rock” from 67-72 Illinois. Offered on vinyl FLAC and MP3 formats (no CD).  A good one to own if you’re into Moby Grape, The Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. read our review…
The Rationals “Fan Club Album”
Big Beat CD/VinylRare and coveted release from the most important early Detroit/Ann Arbor group. Restored tracklist (save for one cut) and detailed liner notes. read our review…
R. Stevie Moore “Phonography”
Sundazed VinylFirst full length LP from an underground hero. HD Vinyl pressing comes with restored Vital artwork and insert. read our review…
The Orkustra “Adventures in Experimental Electric”
Mexican Summer LP/MP3Bobby Beausoleil’s mid-sixties psychedelic experiment explores unusual instrumentation as “the first electric symphony orchestra”
Maffit/Davies “The Rise and Fall of Honesty”
Revola CDA visionary slice of American music that predates the alt. country/folk boom with dark lyrics, strings, and a vibe similar to Texas band Euphoria. Includes liner notes by Tim Forster. read our review…
Ted Lucas “The Om Album”
Yoga Records/Riverman CD/LPLost and found psychedelic folk solo with a remarkably current sound. CD comes in a faithfully reproduced LP-style package with a facsimile of the original insert and new liners. read our review…
Jim Sullivan “UFO”
Light in the Attic CD/LP/MP3″ Ultra rare 1969 private press psych-folk-rock masterpiece – featuring the legendary Wrecking Crew (Beach Boys, Phil Spector)” First time on CD, LP reissue comes with detailed liners.
Luke Gibson “Another Perfect Day”
True North CD/MP3Long thought of as one of the best singer songwriter albums to come out of Canada. Digital download includes 2 bonus tracks. read our review…
The Psychedelic Aliens “Psycho African Beat”
Academy Records CD/Vinyl/MP3″Voodoo Funk tracked down the complete recorded output of this Ghana group that combined
elements of American soul, funk, garage rock
and psych with African rhythms and melodies. LP packaging includes booklet.”
Up “Rising”
Applebush CD/MP3″The real precursors of punk. Complete recordings, deluxe packaging includes DVD of unseen film plus a set of facsimile gig flyers, extensive liner notes and never before seen photographs of the band.”
The Zakary Thaks “Passage to India”
Cicadelic CDUnreleased recordings of the Thak’s psychedelic exursion. CD includes twenty-page booklet of recollections by lead singer Chris Gerniottis plus rare band memorabilia, posters, and lyrics.
The Third Power “Believe”
Relics CDHard psychedelic rock from early 70s Detroit. Originally released on Vanguard in 1970 and now reissued by Relics on Digipak CD.
Scott Richard Case “SRC”
Micro Werks CD”The long out of print CD by the SRC. One of Michigan s psychedelic gems, the band remains a favorite along side MC5, The Amboy Dukes, and the Stooges.”
Moby Grape “Live 1966-1969”
Sundazed Vinyl/CDNo Live Grape  has ever been officially released with such pristine sound quality. David Fricke’s notes are the icing on the cake. read our review…
The Knickerbockers “One Track Mind”
Grapefruit CD”The definitive, all-killer-no-filler compilation of thirty original Knickerbockers artifacts from the first psychedelic era.”
The Index “Black Album/Red Album/Yesterday & Today”
Lion CD”Three LPs worth of rare psychedelia from The Index – the uber rare Black Album and Red Album on one disc, and the epic length Yesterday And Today set of newly discovered rarities on the second disc”
Kris Kristofferson “Publishing Demos 1968-1972”
Light in the Attic CD/2LP/MP3″A selection of Kristofferson’s unreleased demos from the late 1960s and early ‘70s. Includes 60-page full-color CD booklet featuring interviews with Kristofferson and the musicians.”
Blaze Foley “The Dawg Years”
Fat Possum CD/MP3A collection of 20 Foley songs, cut during three home studio sessions between February of 1976 and September of 1978. Some of Foley’s first recordings that have been unheard for 25 years.
Steve Young “Rock Salt & Nails”
Big Pink CDSteve Young’s first solo record is adventurous, way ahead of its time, and gorgeous. A masterful production combining outlaw country, rock, folk, blues, and a touch of gospel. Long out of print, this is a Korean pressing in a paper sleeve. read our review…
Various Artists “Troubled Troubadours”
Omni Recording CDRare classic country from the likes of Hank, Waylon, Porter, and Dolly. Most tracks unreleased. Collector’s edition includes liner notes and rare photos.
Various Artists “Local Customs: Lone Star Lowlands”
Numero Group CD/LP/MP3″Southern boogie rock, CSNY clones, British blues thunder, garage-psych hangovers from Beaumont Texas’ Lowland studio. Limited bonus CD includes 20 extra songs.”
Space Opera “Safe at Home”
101 Distribution CD”2010 archive release from the Texas Prog legends consisting of tracks that were recorded before and immediately after their debut album in 1970.”
Richard & Linda Thompson “Shoot Out the Lights”
Rhino Handmade Deluxe CD”The couple’s legendary swan song as a two-disc deluxe edition that includes the original album along with a bonus disc of 11 unreleased live performances from the tour.”

Top Reissues of 2010 (Choose up to 5)

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Q. Anything we missed from your list this year?
Note: This is our 500th post!

Don Van Vliet

uReview: “Nilsson Sings Newman”

12345678910 (35 votes, average: 8.60 out of 10)

Today is a day to remember John Lennon, but I just finished the watching the 2006 biopic on his good pal, Harry Schmilsson. Maybe I’m just a big Nilsson fan, but I thought Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) was moving, revealing, an excellent film; every great artist deserves a tribute this devoted. But when they got to Nilsson Sings Newman I remembered that I never really fell for this record, for whatever reason.

Q. Am I missing out on a knockout LP? Does Harry really improve on Newman’s tunes? Why wouldn’t I just listen to Randy sing em? Have you seen the doc and what’d you think?

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“Livin’ Without You”

:D Deluxe CD Reissue | 2008 | buy here ]
:) Original Vinyl | RCA | 1970  | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

uReview: The Allman Brothers Band

12345678910 (48 votes, average: 8.02 out of 10)

These guys any good? Is this album a good choice for a start? Where’s the sweet spot?
I need schooling on these Brothers.

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“Come And Go Blues”

;) MP3 Album | download here ]
:) Orig Vinyl |1973 | Capricorn | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Ted Lucas “The Om Album”

Yoga Records, in collaboration with Riverman, are hitting it out of the park in their first year. It seems a shame I haven’t heard this record before, as it’s an easy new favorite. Ted Lucas got his start playing in a Detroit folk revival band called The Spike-Drivers, eventually leaving to form other groups The Misty Wizards, Horny Toads, and the Boogie Disease. While he was a respected figure in Michigan’s folk and rock scene, his self-titled solo album (recorded largely in his attic studio during 1974) failed to break beyond local recognition.

The promo sticker nails the sound, placing Ted Lucas next to legends John Fahey, Nick Drake, and Skip Spence. It’s a right on comparison when you hear what this album has to offer. Each side of the record is plainly its own thing; Side A being a suite of six perfectly sweet folk originals and Side B containing an instrumental, an extended blues jam, and an 8-minute raga. The first three tracks have melodies that seamlessly weave in your head on first or second listen. “I’ll Find A Way” is the sleeper knockout, tucking in after the record’s gorgeous three song opener: “Plain & Sane & Simple Melody,” “It’s So Easy,” and “Now That I Know.” These tunes are so easy to love and will have no trouble lodging comfortably in your head. I can’t contain how much I dig the side A closer “It Is So Nice To Get Stoned,” especially when “Sonny Boy Blues” on side B warns “you better stop drinking that wine.” Arrangements are sparse, an acoustic guitar gracefully ornamented with sitar drones (Lucas played uncredited sitar on the Tempations’ “Psychedelic Shack”) and delicate electric fingerpicking, with some auto-harp and tasteful percussion elsewhere. For a lost psych-folk record, the sound is remarkably current.

Comes in a faithfully reproduced LP-style package, with a facsimile of the original insert, new liners and a save-worthy protective cover. Yoga just might make the CD format cool again! Even so, I might have to spring for the vinyl. The insert, by the way, is wonderful, showcasing a badass t-shirt with Stanley Mouse’s cover design and contains the lyrics and chords to the songs on the first side. Got to be one of the best reissues of the year.

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“It Is So Nice To Get Stoned”

:D CD Reissue | Yoga/Riverman | at amazon ]
:) Vinyl Reissue | Yoga/Riverman | at amazon ]

Riley “Grandma’s Roadhouse”

I’m a long time fan of the perfect hair, boozy lamentations, and sorrowful, wavering croon of popular country music’s tragic superstar, Gary Stewart. When I heard Delmore Recordings had unearthed one of Gary’s first projects, a 500 LP hand-stamped private-pressed recording from after-hour sessions at Bradley’s Barn in 1970, well, who could resist.

Nashville writing partners and recording assistants, Gary Stewart (who would hit it big in the later 70s with “She’s Acting Single, I’m Drinking Doubles” and “Drinkin’ Thing”) and Bill Eldridge invited Michigan’s Riley Watkins, Jim Snead, and Jim Noveskey to experiment during their free time at the Barn. Nashville Scene does an excellent service to the rest of Riley’s story, although, I can’t agree their music is very commercial in sound. Roadhouse may be one of the scratchiest demos I have yet to hear from the early country-rock (as Delmore calls it “headneck”) genre. These are scant, dusty archive recordings (“Daddy’s Come Home” even mildly garbled by tape flutter). Riley’s sound is more on par with what came from suburban garages in the early 60s than anything ever recorded in Music City USA; naturally I’m completely in to the record.

The sound is somewhere between The Band’s americana, heady jams and headstrong vocals of Moody Blues, CSN-tinged harmonies, Link Wray’s chicken shack (in this case “Funky Tar Paper Shack”), and down-home southern vibe you’ll find in bands like Goose Creek and Wheatstraw-era Dillards. For Stewart fans, the highlight is Gary’s big vox on his own “Drinkin’ Them Squeezins,” an early nod to his secret formula. Big kudos to Delmore for digging this up from nowhere; I’ll never tire of excellent unheard reissues from this era. Keep em coming!

Get some more at whenyouawake.

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“Field Of Green”

:) Vinyl Reissue | 2010 | Delmore |  buy from delmore ]
:D CD Reissue | 2010 | Delmore Recordings |  buy  @ delmore ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

News “Hot Off The Press”

Definitely not what I was expecting from a 1974 private pressing with a strangely modern sleeve and a pedal steel guitarist. News, who were four or more lads from Yale University, had the late 60s sound nailed down five years too late, but who’s to complain about a throwback to the best era in rock history? Hot Off The Press is a unique and unknown LP featuring super tight performances, lovely four-part harmonies, and songs that won’t take long to get comfortably lodged in your head.

Kicking off with a pysch-flavored spliced radio parody performed by some of the band members, Hot Off The Press gets right into its first sweet spot with “Loser,” showcasing Mark London’s expert and refreshingly twang-free steel. Throughout the record’s nine songs he has no trouble fitting the instrument in with a pop/rock sound, and essentially designs the rare flavor of this record with soaring, jazzy licks. There are a couple pretty tough rockers, and I must agree with Llama where he labels “One Night Stand” a “so-so Creedence ripoff.”  But lighter fare like “Ooo La La” and “Misty Day” (one of the band’s first songs) groove with the sunny sound of Montage. I love the jabber at the end of optimistic bopper “Easy Street:” “…somebody’s way off key…I was doing a 7th,” which adds just the right amount of silliness to this laid-back affair. “Farmer’s Daughter” gets bonus points for the album’s second Beach Boys reference and “New York City” ends the original lineup with an 8-minute jam that finally belies News’ sixties psych disguise. Bonus tracks include the 60-second radio bed that got the band their first shot in the recording studio (1970) and an early demo recording of “Misty Day.”

The CD package is a mini-repro as faithful to a vinyl sleeve as I’ve ever seen, the extensive details of the News story told by principal songwriter Bob Pretcher in the liners. But if you’re willing to shell out some bucks, I’d say go for one of the limited 1974 sealed pressings available direct from Yoga Records. Don’t miss this excellent reissue.

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“Ooo La La”

:D CD Reissue | 2010 | Riverman/Yoga Records | buy from yoga ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1974 | private | ]

uReview: The Byrds “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”

12345678910 (70 votes, average: 8.29 out of 10)

I’d be happy to see a uReview for every Byrds record in the discography (excepting Maniax), seeing as they’re one of the house bands around here, but it’s the middle of country season and I wanna hear your honest opinion on this one. Are you all about Sweetheart or did you never quite get it? Is this really the landmark country-rock record (does it even deserve the ‘rock’ tag)? If not this, then what?

mp3: Radio Spot – Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

:D CD Reissue | 2003 | Sony | amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1968 | Columbia | ebay ]