Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tom Petty - Live Anthology Review

The Live Anthology 4 disc set is better than you think it is if you haven't heard it yet. Long travel times over the holiday afforded me the opportunity to listen to the whole monstrous set back to back while churning up the asphalt. Didn't Tom say something about driving music? You know you have something good when you quickly change discs at 75 mph.

The set comprises a lot of west coast shows, Gainsville of course and London. There are outliers like a track from the Spectrum in Philadelphia from 1980. Whaaaa?

Very cool liner notes from T.P. himself are heartfelt and warming. He writes in a conversational tone right to you so if feels personal. Thank you Tom. Me too!

The sequencing is excellent. I had not listened to the whole album in its entirety before and was nervous that too much of a good thing back to back to back would wear out my enthusiasm. Wrong! More than wrong!.

The sequencing is spot on and with a deep listen you can gather up why Tom might have selected the track he did in regards to the quality of his voice perhaps on one cut or the dynamics of the crowd singalong or the veracity and ferociousness of the band.

If you haven't this is a must for your collection.

We miss you Tom but thank you for rocking our world all of it on the big stage, in our homes, patios, bars and cars!

I hope his catalogue and what ever is in the vault is Handled with Care. For now what is already out there is phenomenal enough to last a lifetime.

My only advise - carry on in his spirit with his laconic sense of humor, his true to himself righteousness, his sardonic wit and his virtuous heart.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tom Petty - The Last DJ Album Review

You can't turn him into a company man. Of course when The Last DJ came out I was pumped. I mean come on Tom was writing about me ...right? This album without going through it track by track is what every one of us wants to say back to the man. What does that mean? Tom was one of us. Tom spoke for us in his lyrics.

Honestly when the disc came out I was looking for more of Damn the Torpedoes. Tom's musical vision had evolved of course how could it not? True artists evolve they don't necessarily follow the trend. Yet we know we music lovers of many starving artists trying to grab that toe hold and who will do anything to grab onto popularity and make the killing. Tom tried for sure he didn't back into it but he also came from a very genuine point of view. It's interesting because a lot of us I sure know I do and did have the same view. If it sounds good to me people will like it or as Robben Ford once said do your own thing the people will find you. Sage like advice sometimes seems a no brainer but too many potential artists get over managed or sell out. You can't blame them they are trying to eat, put the bread on the table but I think the Bard had it right. To thy own self be true. And as far as Tom Petty goes we were all lucky enough that he held to those tenants.

The Last DJ bursts forth in a beautiful array of acoustic guitar strums and delivers the truth. In fact this whole album is track for track a takedown of the recording industry. Tom makes us laugh along the way (a craving for lite beer) but also peppers the screed against the industry with heart felt ballads. Dreamville is a beautiful tune that evokes memories of days of yore and Like a Diamond evokes a hopeful beautiful spirit. The album closes with the magnificent Can't Stop the Sun.

When I first saw Can’t Stop the Sun in concert the lighting for that number was biblical as they shot an array of lights straight out from behind the band right into the audience during the Shining lyric. It was a horizontal lighting array of white light that I can still see to this day. Tom and the Heartbreakers always had the visual down. The Last Chance for Mary Jane shoot is a hoot. Watch it on You Tube if you haven't seen it in a while. I love all of Tom's slacker like Florida boy expressions, laid backness and shuffle. He embodied a pretty righteous attitude which I respect and emulated myself growing up. I need people like Tom to remind me of my former self so as to not get too caught up in the day to day distractions gobbled up by business negotiating contracts and the politics of it all. I think that’s why the Big Lebowski was such a hit even though Jeff played it so hilariously over the top.

Anyway when this album hit my ears I was searching for American Girl what I got took a while for me to grab hold of but now I prefer to the earlier Tom. It's like we evolved together. My wife and I are constantly shrugging our shoulders and saying in unbelievable and undeniable recognition, "did he ever write a bad song".

The answer is well sure maybe but he was damn careful enough not to let us hear them. Those we did hear the lyrics always were diamonds and the chorus’s gold.

The Last DJ delivers the goods in every way imaginable. There are power chords, intricate production work, acoustic guitars, Rickenbacher’s jangling, delicate keyboard work, powerful drumming and a theme running through the album that ties it all together from the opening lament to the closing ray of hope. Every track is satisfying. The mixes between songs keeping to the theme of transmission. The heavy in your face truth of Joe the title track and When Money Becomes King are the songs deep in your rebel heart you wish you wrote and I am sure glad someone did.

Get them out play them again. This album is a must for any child dreaming of a recording career. And the influences span Beck, the Beatles, The Byrds. I get a real subtle Jeff Lynne flavor from time to time as well. But there are softer influences and they balance the album beautifully.

Tom's lyrics in Like A Diamond, are compelling and romantic and Mike's lead work holds back so achingly its enormous. Even the little ode to the Beach Boys in the harmony chorus towards the end is just the beautiful and fun subtle touch that makes a recording great. It's just so perfect. The bass line reminds me of Abbey Road and Benmont's tender keyboard at the end will put a lump in your throat. This album should not be overshadowed by anything they have ever recorded. And Blue Sunday is a wonderful story telling song crafted around simple chord changes so there is much more here than just calling out the industry.

You and Me and the road ahead is a bouncy little jaunt that feels like freedom itself. It's hopeful, reaffirming and bucolic. It's a perfect little pallet cleanser. The Man Who Loves Women is Tom's satirical side coming out and it’s hilarious wrapped up in what is definitely a Beatleesque like Abbey Road Maxwell Hammer fun ditty complete with whistling. It's a great mood changer and worlds away from Joe.

May My Love Travel with you always...I sure hope so Tom you know mine will with you. Because I'm the lonely DJ digging the ditch trying to keep the flames from the Temple.

I'll keep digging brother not on my watch…..never!

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - MOJO Album Review

Tom Petty thank you so much for driving hard through all the issues and delivering your righteous vision to us in the form of musical bliss. How can I thank you enough? I'll spend a lifetime reveling in your music. Maybe that’s the kind of thanks he was looking for and so we have MOJO.

Oh yeah we are going to talk about this album. I'm happy and we are lucky the band was well established enough to say hey here's a new album all on our terms our music our writing. This is what we want and so we have before us a collective artistic vision. A righteous ripping album that delivers on all fronts.

MOJO gets the party started with a Bo Diddly romp and sardonic lyrics that rip at a cultural icon with truth. Classic Tom lyrics and ripping good time rhythm and blues. Mike’s guitar is in a strip down mode and we get flashes of Chuck Berry along with a raging harmonica and driving drum kit what’s not to love? The song closes out in a grand short sharp crescendo and then we slide effortlessly into a mood changer First Flash of Freedom.

Here we get some sort of Jeff Beck opening with a Gregg Allman Berry Oakley Dream’s bass line and I’m up and noticing. The seascape that follows has all the ear marks of a wandering sublime sojourn. Tom’s lyrics like an overdue train satisfy mightily upon arrival. I’m definitely feeling the ABB here and I use it as a descriptor. That subtle bass line holding plenty of room for Benmont’s organ and Mike’s major scale climb. Yes the guys are writing their own tunes but I think, I suspect we have an album of homage and respect to their influences, peers and those who have gone before. Isn’t that like Tom and the Heartbreakers? The Jeff Beck/ABB merger of styles is spellbinding and well done.

Back to the grove we go with Running Man’s Bible and I’m hearing a serious Booker T & the M.G.’s vibe with Robin Ford like blues riffs smoky in tone and style. Heavy syncopated rhythm riffs punctuating classic organ keys and staccato lead lines. A lovely surge of guitar wrapped up in a long searing organ note and we are back to the crunchy swing rhythm. This is a way cool melody with lots of sway and swagger with jazz overtones in the swanky refrain. We float along on the outro as Mike punctuates unsustained notes.

The Trip to Pirates Cove has a quick opening drum lick and we are into the LA Woman scene of the Doors. I totally hear more than a nod to Riders on the Storm and I love it. After repeated listen this song has risen to the top for me. This is my jam. Tom’s at it again with a phenomenal set of lyrics. I got a friend in Mendocino and its getting close to harvest time and we all smile knowingly. Benmont is channeling Ray Manzarek beautifully I mean I’m having a religious experience as Mike flirts with Robbie Krieger licks back in the mix. This tune is a melodic soul warming thing of beauty.

Candy lifts the atmospheric veil into a classic blues deliberate bop and I’m getting a huge whiff of JJ Cale with those relaxed understated riffs. Tom sings about Eldorado’s, cornfields and moonshine and it gets you over to that south west Texas frame of mind.

The surprise to me and what really knocks me out is the next tune No Reason to Cry. This tune could fit squarely on an Arlo Guthrie album. Sound strange? We’ll I’ve listened to a lot of Arlo Guthrie in my day and he is a national treasure as well. Tom’s voice and lyrics right here on this song deliver one of those Arlo spiritual love ballads in such a fine fashion it brings me to tears even as Tom is singing there is no reason to cry. The poignancy of this song is not to be denied. The band lays down such a sweet subtle lullaby blanket of music for this love song to lay on. It’s beautiful and if you are not familiar with Arlo go listen to some of his music. I recommend the exploration as the tears well up in my eyes again sorry Tom.

Turning on a dime I Should Have Known It sounds like it belongs on Physical Graffiti right down to the Jimmy Page riffs and tone and aren’t you pumped by that? I am. The band delivers on the classic syncopation of many classic Led Zeppelin tunes. Boneham would be proud! Bron Yr-Aur Stomp and an acoustic guitar tease and they move seamlessly to another tune keeping that whole Zep vibe. Works for me and we ride right on to U.S. 41. Classic guitar tones, lots of slide and periodic harmonica riffs mark this tune with outlaw lyrics. This is a serious set of riff heavy tunes not to be missed.

Takin’ My Time stomps in with the origin a massive heavy John Lee Hooker beat that never lets up driving its heel into the dirt floor and grinding out the guitar. We are deep in the Delta now.

Let Yourself Go is another driving little tune that swings and I’m hearing many many influences crossing over at the heart of this song dare I reference the Doors again. This is an excellent tune although I’m moving onto reggae (?) Tom and the Heartbreakers slip into a Peter Tosh groove that makes you kind of wish they did a whole reggae album. They own each of these modes they are slipping in and out of without pretense and with authority and it’s fantastic. The song is called Don’t Pull Me Over Tom humor and wisdom all rolled up into one. I love the little sarcastic bastard.

Lover’s Touch is a great swinging blues slow romp followed by High in the Morning an authoritative work which features Tom's lyrical genius and the band locked in a serious groove. You know Mike is going to make his move and he brings the Steve Cropper licks right in at the end.

What strikes you next as you listen to Something Good is Coming is the stark spirituality of Tom Petty. He talked about hope but I believe there was something more he was trying to say with songs like these. There’s a beauty here a pastoral tone and a resignation and that bittersweet feeling is on us in a minute. Tom wasn’t just about rock n roll. Tom’s writing was about love, hope, getting up again and being able to see past all the hypocrisy, lies and subterfuge into the light of an oncoming sunrise. After all we can’t keep the sun from shinning. And after we come upon enlightenment and reach a state of nirvana what are we supposed to do with our moment in time?

We rock that’s what we do. Tom and the Heartbreakers close out with an I Want You/She’s So Heavy Lennon and Harrison guitar scream called Good Enough. The lyrics get right to the heart of the matter. The moment. The moment is what we live in and it’s good enough for me. If she marry’s into money she’s still gonna miss me and that’s good enough for me. Mike rips the guitar neck in a melodic searing high end scream driving the strings over the top of the guitar pushing all that emotion and energy forward as the rhythm guitars climb down the fret board in classic wave crashing fashion and we fade out…. such is life.

I love this album the Mojo is righteous and flying close to heaven. It belongs in the Pantheon of Music (a temple dedicated to all the gods) with Abbey Road, Physical Graffiti, Fillmore East and Dark Side of the Moon.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Tom Petty Hypnotic Eye - Album Review

Hypnotic Eye - is tremendous. I know it seems like Hyperbole now that Tom has passed but I'm not kidding this record rocks. It starts out with a crunch American Dream Plan B. As usual Tom's lyrics aren't pulling any punches and just as your neck is getting sore from the head banging the band segues out into a light melodic chorus with full chord strums. At the two minute mark Mike cranks out some classic Chuck Berry licks and oh yeah this is rock n roll.

Fault Lines is mixed right onto the heels of the first track and the bass line is to die for I freakin' love it and the fuzz tone on the guitar is fantastic. Then enters Tom's voice singing about broken promises. I love this cut fantastic - give me more.

Red River veers back into the crunchy riffs of American Dream Plan B but the strength of this cut are Tom's lyrics - She’s got a 3D Jesus in a picture frame, Got a child she’s never named, She shakes a snake above her hair, Talks in tongues when there’s no one there. There's a nice short little acoustic measure in the middle of the song followed by Mike shredding it up and in an instant we are back to the verse.

The thing I love about this album is how each song is put together and arranged by Tom and the Band plus the mixes from one tune to the next are clean, tight and perfect. They flow effortlessly into one another.

The next tune Full Grown Boy has a gentle shuffle. It's quiet with shades of Kenny Burrell as the lead guitar takes on the tone of a classic hollow body. Love it!

Just as we are all chilled and relaxed in comes the heavy again with Tom singing about ghosts and then the stand out chorus of the disc comes in "Take What You Can All That You Can Carry". There's a little Steeley Dan feel to some measures but it has a rock beat that Mike just screams over. I love how they switch the tones of the guitars here back and forth between the verse and the chorus. At the top of their game people. All you Can Carry is a great tune.

Power Drunk the next tune should just play in the Oval Office 24/7. It has some interesting tone and textures again harkening back to early Steeley Dan just for comparrison if you haven't gotten familiar with this album.

Forgotten Man is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers doing what they do best charging mightly through Tom's lyrics. There is a nice acoustic break in the middle of the song before Mike rips our faces off again. Thanks Mike I love it when you do that!

Sin's of my youth opens up as if a film noir detective movie is starting and Tom's Lyrics settle quietly and lightly on the bands arrangements. Time for a little introspection and reflection and I love you more than the sins of my youth floats along with Benmonts keyboard. Very nice and chill and perfectly placed in the sequence of songs.

U Get Me High understands how light Sins of my Youth was and doesn't charge back in so hard. It retains some of that free floating melody we all love about Tom's tunes. And if you listen closely the bass is having a ball high stepping through the verse. This song also introduces different textures of guitar than we have heard before. All of their tunes are little rock n roll symphonies that always manage to hit the sweet spot.

Burnt Out Town brings Tom's humor up front in the opening and in the lyrics. It definitely swings and has a Bo Diddley feel to it with touches of Barrell House keyboards and a wailing harmonica. This tune puts you squarely on main street with one gas station and dirt roads.

Shadow people closes with a cultural statement about us. That one's thinking of great art...that one's strapped on a gun and joined up with the herd. We get almost a pink floyd like break in the middle of the tune with a subtle heartbeat around moody blue like guitar chords until someone pokes Mike and we are back gristling under our collective societal ills.

And it is because we are so inundated with those ills as we speak that I'm surely going to miss Tom's insight, the bands swagger and from a musical standpoint just the sheer intelligence and taste of their arrangements and productions.

In short this is a great album. There are a many touches of acoustic guitars peppering the heavy and the bass lines are imaginative, funky and all the tunes shift and turn. The arrangements are sophisticated and righteous. The shifting guitar tones jangle and explode, and the drum kit drives everything beautifully. This is just a great band doing its thing and in expert fashion. You have to pay attention to everything and not miss the endings as they transit into the next song. The whole thing feels like a movie score it moves so brilliantly from song to song but also within each song. Its in heavy rotation at my house and we are rockin with our bad selves. We love you for that and more Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tom Petty - An Avalanche of Creativity

I'm still so very impressed with Tom's work as I dive deeper into his catalogue. There is definitely a huge contingent of us out here that may have had a greatest hits or a few choice albums like Wildflowers but thats just scratching the surface.

I caught Story Tellers this weekend someone had posted the broadcast on You Tube. It wasn't a bad capture seeing that it was an old VH-1 tape with German subtitles and I was struck by a tune from an album called Echo.

Echo is the album where Howie missed the photo shoot. It only went gold and was a top ten album so it begs the question - what in good gods blazes was I paying attention to at the time to have missed this album.

The tune I heard was "Swingin" and I just shook my head. How did I miss this? What stupid conceit was I under or lame ass distraction?

It's just so inconceivable and phenomenal to me that Tom channeled all this great music, lyrical poetry, driving rock n roll and sweet, sweet, ballads in such an amazing outpouring of vital, swagger, and frailty. Its an historic revelation of immense creativity.

Tom had a helluva of a lot of heart. He poured it all out for us every last drop of his passion, enthusiasm and thoughtfulness. He consistently time in and time out painted beautiful landscapes some stark some brightly full and others of humor, pain, hope, the mundane. His music was down to earth and flying heavenly all at once and within each refrain. There is an honest complexity to it all as it is with our very own lives.

Tom Petty put it all into words and sang it back to us and we understood every last bit of it as each of us gets up and climbs that hill again.

What a bittersweet affair his music, his life and his passing. The very damn definition of the word. I'm in awe of the man and the band and will be forever grateful. It's with a heavy heart that we have to say goodbye. Totally out of our control we feel ripped off but if we embrace the music just as hard as we are gutted by the suddenness of it all we'll get through it. After all we have the sound of his voice and all of his everything to embrace in each and every stanza.

It's manna from Heaven - believe that. Tom Petty gave expression to our very core from deep inside his and thats why it hits home to all of us so completely. He exhausted his whole being into his craft and it shows with every syllable, every note, every verse, every chorus.

And I thought I wasn't going to write anything today..then I put his music on and the feeling was unstoppable.

Maybe he felt the same way too....

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tom Petty Born to Rock n Roll

Born to play, born to write, born to rock n roll. I'm somehow experiencing all the stages of grief at once mostly anger. God damn it we need Tom in this day and age more than ever.

But this weird unfolding is taking place as well. His catalogue is enormous a dozen lifetimes worth of music. Every nook and cranny of his catalogue reveals something amazing, a sonic turn of tone or phrase. It may seem like simple rock n roll but there is a whole lot going on with each track. There is much to discover and I'm going to end up with all his recordings I just know it. They are dragging me toward them even though I'm out of room in my house and I'm resisting but I'm just not going to able to refrain.

In ice hockey we have whats called rink rats. Players, professional, amateur, kids, these are guys who show up to the rink early and leave late. They are always around in the locker room, trainers room, getting their skates sharpened and on the ice every chance they get practicing their shots and skating just waiting for the Zamboni to take its final turn. I fully believe Tom was a certified studio rat honing his craft, exploring the sonic journey and capturing what he thought sounded right chasing the muse and I'm guessing he lived in whatever studio he could find.

If you go out on the web and look at the pictures its amazing. No matter when or where in his life fans were on their feet with their arms in the air jumping up and down in appreciation. Since he was a skinny kid to a full grown adult and all the roads and stages in between in the adulation poured.

And Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers deserved every bit of it, every round of applause, every clap, every holler, every whistle, every breath, every sing along, every standing ovation they ever got and then some. He knew we loved him and the band. He knew he was universally adored and from looking at the pictures, reading the interviews and witnessing him in person myself more than a few times I believe he really was humbled by it and it knocked him out and he appreciated it maybe more than we know and maybe even needed it more than we know for what he had been through as a child. And I for one am god damn glad we could give it back to him.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker shows were a love fest and I'm proud to say it and he had to have felt that down to his core, piercing his soul as we sang his songs back to him. How unbelievably soulfully righteous is that?

Tom knew how much we loved him and how much he meant to us and thats the thought I'm holding onto with both of my hands and all of my heart as I try to grip my way through this one just after making my peace with losing Gregg and Doc Watson before that. My strength is my faith and my faith is in the music.


Tom Petty Day of Coincidence

I had a very interesting Tom Petty day yesterday. Those of you who know me well are used to these stories. Sometimes I scare myself, sometimes I have been scared it can be terrifying if you fling that door open to the other worlds fear can override the best of intentions. But as I have gotten older I have learned to vanquish that fear and amazing visions transcend sleep as if awake. We all know dreams. In the waking hours of Sunday morning I heard Tom's voice speak one word to me thoughtfully, slowly in his regular cadence and tone, "sorry".

The word rang out and I awoke. No matter what the coroner says or will say chain smoking is fucking bullshit and I have been pissed off that Tom submitted to corporate addiction. What can you do but this is the thing that riles me up. The guy who stared down corporate music let himself get snagged by corporate addiction arrrrgggghhhh!

Anger not attributed to Tom slipping away so young after all he left several lifetimes worth of song behind and I recall brother Duane speaking about how righteous it was for a person to leave recordings behind. I think he was ruminating on King Curtis and his senseless murder.

Anyway I was thunder struck by the clarity of the sound of Tom's voice and how in a word it addressed my pissed offedness. As if somehow immediately resolved I rose to do my normal Sunday routine and the moment was lost to distraction.

The sun was shining so after a spell I headed for the yard and threw six Tom Petty CD's in my Pioneer changer and hit the random button. A few days earlier I had bought my wife and received in the mail a bracelet with lyrics to Wildflower written on both sides. She is a huge Petty fan and it brought tears to her eyes - it was a moment in more ways than I can express here. There were layers around this gift giving that exceeded expectations.

We hadn't listened to Tom for two days preoccupied by life so of course out of six CD's and out of close to a hundred tracks Wildflowers comes on first. We both took notice and it was then I recalled his voice in my dream.

I worked in the yard for a good portion of the day listening to Tom and the Heartbreakers the soundtrack to a beautifully sunny and warm day. After a long soak in the pool I headed for the club to grab an early dinner. There was no one at the bar and I randomly sat at the far end and there before me was a golf ball just sitting by itself in perfect shape with the word MOJO written on both sides.

The ethereal is hard to capture in words but somehow someway Tom or the powers that created creativity formed the multiverse and spun off our little solar system and Earth was communicating to me and in such a small, persistent and magnificent way reminding me all is not as it appears, all our states of consciousness are intertwined. The unseen is real coincidences too many stacked one after the other all in one day to be written off and so somehow someway we are on our sacred path.

What may come I don't know but what has been and what remains is still spectacular when you stop for just a second and immerse yourself in the moment take that pause as to what we are, who we are with and where we are going spinning on our axis hurtling through the cosmos.

Be well have faith and listen to the music - that according to Tom is where the magic transpires

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tom Petty Rebellion and Music

How about a little more love for Tom.

I'm just starting to go through his catalogue - trust me it's only a partial catalogue the man was prolific. What strikes me is the quality of the tracks you've never heard or rather his less famous "hits" - no thats not right either - all the stuff thats not on the best ofs - well thats not quite right either oh damn Tom wrote a lot of brilliant lyrics, innumerable melodies of sonic sojourns, ballads, and love songs. Rock and Roll.

It was music he wanted to hear the way he wanted it played based on his early and life long passion for music. You don't think buried treasure was an was his god damn record collection.

Tom was the other guy in the used record store you bumped into at 11 in the morning instead of going to work. Flipping through LP after LP studying the art work, the instruments, the players, the producers and labels who was able to join forces with a great band of lifelong friends and carve out a long, large, continent wide swath through the global consciousness of our lives.

Something spoke to him and something drove him. His passion exhausted him. Is there a better way to live?

He would want us all to carry on knowing rock n roll will save your soul. Real music, honest, not fame, not money, not attention the pure love and passion for the music that lies just out of reach until one of us, one of the members of this tribe called humanity reaches out and grabs it and lays it down with all their heart, dreams, drive and vision.

Something so free, so right, we are never, never, never, going to change our minds about it... heaven and nothing the arrogant, stupid, greedy whores can ever reach or take away. Turn it up! This machine kills fascism.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Tom Petty - Rock n Roll Heaven

Dear lord enough already - Gregg in the late Spring and Tom in the early fall?!!? Way to bookend the summer Dr. Death.

I remember the first time I saw Tom Petty I was late to the Tom Petty concert experience and it took me until my wife dragged me off to one of his shows. What Gregg Allman was to me Tom Petty was to my wife.

Tom to me was a savior to the 1980's and all of that awful industry generated clap trap noise, empty, banal lyrics, costumes, posing and synth machines. Here was a Byrd's influenced rocker with an edge and being in radio in the 1980's I knew how good he and the band were. But not until I saw him live did I get a forehand across the brow.

A veteran of rock concerts having seen Bob Marley, Lowell George's Little Feat, prancing around like a horse to Marshall Tucker in the middle of the afternoon working a Beach Boys concert in the sand, hanging with Peter Tosh, seeing the original Skynyrd a bunch of times, Steve Miller, the Rolling Stones in 1975, and catching Jerry solo and with the boys every time they came through town and then some I was no stranger to the rock scene or the concert going experience.

What transpired that night of 6/30/2001 might have been the most cathartic insanity of pure rock n roll bliss I had ever witnessed. Tom and Mike blistered through their songs in a relentless fashion. "Don't bore us get to the chorus" indeed the set list and veracity in which they played it had me proclaiming it was the best concert I had ever seen and to this day that comment still gets repeated to the many folks interested in listening whether in a bar, or playing one of his tunes to a small crowd. That comment stands and it's not hyperbole for the occasion.

This set list below blew my mind. Walking into the opener with that wonderful opening rif was a match to a fuse that stayed burning bright to this day.

Runnin' Down A Dream
I Won't Back Down
Billy The Kid
Mary Jane's Last Dance
Here Comes My Girl
Even The Losers
It's Good To Be King
You Don't Know How It Feels
Green Onions
Don't Come Around Here No More
Learning To Fly
Into The Great Wide Open
Too Much Ain't Enough
You Wreck Me
Free Fallin'
American Girl

What follows that was learning a bunch of his tunes for my shows, repopulating my collection of CD's and going to see Tom every time they came to town. We have a real love affair for his lyricism, cynicism, ballads, his rockers biting tenacity and respect for the art form that he had and he delivered in all facets of the game. You know Last DJ was written for me ...right :) well I certainly felt that way.

We told everyone who stood still long enough go see Tom and we always hearkened back to that show from 2001 and the blistering assault and rock and roll euphoria from the first note. When the 40th anniversary tour was announced we were disappointed he wasn't coming through our area. He had been through a lot so I just assumed for the 40th he would be back but he was playing the bigger venues and so good for him. I remember thinking wow what an extensive tour in relation to how could he be skipping our quadrant look at all these other venues he's playing. But I figured after the big tour he would be back playing the smaller venues. I figured wrong but I am thankful we saw Tom and the band every chance we had since 2001. I was really looking forward to seeing them again in the future as a balm for missing Gregg and didn't even guess at a future without the Heartbreakers.

I'm sad to think the enormity of that 40th celebration tour might have degraded his health. But he went out playing and on fire I'm sure. If that tour was one tenth of what we always, always witnessed over the past sixteen years the audiences got smoked and Tom left the stage with nothing left to give. A Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Concert was a much needed and desired immersion in rock n roll heaven. How can you top that?

Soluthern Blood - Artist and Album Review

Southern Blood

Well, it sucks that Gregg got old before his time but what he poured into his time was several lifetimes’ worth of living and as he said he had himself a ball so why should we feel sad? For us the core fans who have been with him through thick and thin for decades it’s like losing a family member. It really is and it’s going to take time. I’ve been listening to Southern Blood exclusively. I wanted to get past the immediate emotional reaction as the song selections have laid us bare and ripped our souls out.

But there is more here than just all of that and even though the music is powerful beyond words it works simply standing alone. Imagine for a second if Gregg was healthy this album would still be a religious experience of expert playing, singing and sounding craft combine that now with the unfortunate circumstances and it will weaken your knees and tighten your throat.

Those are tears you are trying not to cry and why not you’ve just lost a family member and a friend and the music is so very soulful and moving and isn’t that what we want from our art? It’s supposed to make us feel something. We are inundated with the shallow, exasperated by the petty. It is our art our creativity that reminds us of our humanity and the essential and real depth of our lives. Often ignored daily preoccupied with self-imposed distractions we paper over our experience with the superficial. But it’s a carnival as well believe it or not The Band sang so truthfully to us a celebration and a tragedy all at the same time. It’s a dualistic reality in which we choose what to accentuate. It’s a horn section and a backup singer’s good time and it’s a drunk in a gutter you step over or become.

The Album Southern Blood jumps out righteously with Steve Potts muscular drums and then Gregg’s voice recorded so clear. He picked the right time to get into the studio. He was in exceptional voice and it’s all there the nuanced pronunciation the extended vowels for just the right length. Bravo to the engineers, the makers of microphones and recording equipment and the mixers. The disc sounds beautiful, the musicianship outstanding. Scott’s guitar work is tasteful, elegant, piercing and punctuates the melody with strength and grace. My Only True Friend climbs and falls dramatically with the poignant lyrics and heart felt voice. Gregg is writing and singing to all of us and speaking to his fans, friends and family without any other consideration except for getting it right. The ending with Marc Franklin’s trumpet and Scott’s outro is warm with the lights turned down low. The timing is paced beautifully with Peter’s piano cascading over the ending.

Then comes Gregg Allman’s great American song book. I really truly think this among other things is Gregg saying once again look here. Southern Blood is like a sign post pointing the way to Tim Buckley, Jackson, Percy Sledge, Robert Hunter, Lowell, Willie Dixon, New Orleans, and Bob Dylan and the Band. Everything is on this platter soul, gospel, R&B, swing, blues, and country sweet heart of the rodeo twang.

To begin with navigating Once I Was will slice through you and lay you low. The acoustic guitar opening followed by Gregg’s vocals slowly, calmly, not exactly a whisper but singing quietly those words to us and the band in the background subtly waiting for all of Gregg’s delivery clearly makes this a beautiful delicate song. Lorca is Tim’s album that really got me as well as Goodbye and Hello from which this song originated. And then Planet Waves. What a great choice. This is a Bob Dylan album that is immediately accessible and features The Band and some of Bob’s finest work. Going, Going, Gone is righteous and again we find Gregg in a contemplative mood, singing slowly, with purpose delivering the important messages of our lives as written by Bob.

“Grandma said Boy go and follow your heart and you'll be fine at the end of the line all that's gold isn't meant to shine don't you and your one true love ever part." What more does anybody need to know than that? Don Was and Gregg’s band wrapped this number up with a Flying Burrito Brother vibe and it invokes the heart wrenching finest work of Graham Parsons with Greg Leisz’s pedal steel. It’s different than the original but it’s just as great.

For me the song track list is like Gregg peered into my record collection or listened to my show. I never anticipated he’d pull off of In The Dark - Black Muddy River. After listening to Garcia sing that song when it first came out I got worried how could Gregg deliver this tune. It’s Garcia at his heart wrenching best and I was worried but there it is with the mandolin opening and the familiar melody. Robert’s lyrics and we all love Robert Hunter’s lyrics are delivered beautifully and by the time we get to the scream of an eagle on the fly we are all in and Gregg has us. Bring in the McCrary Sisters and we are in the pews nodding our heads.

Thankfully Gregory gives us a break I mean how much can we take and one of our favorite classics comes “nasty” strolling down the sidewalk on its way to the pool hall. I mean this was our rallying call growing up I Live the Life I Love and I Love The Life I Live. Jay’s big baritone sax and Scott’s guitar work shades of Roomful of Blues and Sugar Ray Norcia another outstanding vocalist come to mind. No regrets here people this is a swanky, swinging, punch back of defiance. Gregg’s growl before the “how I love it” lyric and his little well placed howls as the song winds down are expertly placed and extended just at the right volume well I’ll take every day you got… amen brother amen.

Willin’ are you kidding me? Gregg needs to give me my albums back. How great are these lyrics, how great was it when we first heard this song? Gregg, Buddy Miller and the band breathe new life into this seminal work. Peter’s piano and the pedal steel briefly dance and the acoustic guitar is right there in the background supporting Gregg’s voice. It’s a great arrangement with the horns quickly punctuating the beat anchored by Steve and Ronald’s solid rhythm. How great it is to hear this song sung and played so well again… Dallas Alice.

Thankfully we get nice and greasy with Blind Bats and Swamp Rats. You have to mix it up when you are putting your play list together and after repeated listens of the whole album this is an excellent segue. Mac has got to be proud as Marie Laveau herself comes straight up out of the swamp brushing the Spanish moss from her hair and laying down her voodoo magic. Gregg snarls and growls out the lyrics and you feel like you are in the middle of the bayou, hot, sweaty, something other worldly breathing down your neck, eyes darting looking for gators….love it!

Then out of left field we get Percy Sledge’s soulful love song. And it isn’t hard to imagine Gregg recorded this for Shannon what a sweet song and gesture and if you aren’t thinking about your significant other when this is playing you are missing the point. She made me a mountain from a little grain of sand. Everything is all right and the horns sound like Memphis Stew, Stax, and Sun Records all rolled up into one. Gregg grew up with this music it was of the era and he reminds us all of the treasure trove of soul and R&B that is out there waiting for us and that we should be listening to that as well.

The first time I heard Gregg and the boys tear into Love Like Kerosene I leaped out of my seat. Bring it on this is the gutsy roots ripping barrel house jam my soul requires. I want my ears pinned back I want that shuffle, I want that beer spilled on the floor things to get a little dangerous, dance a little too close, a sweaty night with an edge but never losing the fun. She’s pretty ain’t she and you're dead meat I might just be having a heart attack. It’s a joint is jumping horns are screaming bass is pounding drums are thrashing good time. Hell yeah! More of this!

The opening guitar of Song for Adam turns us once again and immediately we are thrown back into church where we belong whether your church is an ever expansive wildflower field in the plains of Denver like mine or a wooden pew with stained glass windows we are there. Gregg and Jackson’s delivery of the lyrics is the focus. Throughout the whole album Gregg’s voice paints the landscape with all the depth of life and twists and turns and death the fantastic, wretched journey all of it and all it can be and all it is. “And when I stood myself beside him I never thought I was as strong” listen to how Gregg sings this line and how the word strong rolls out. Imagine now you are a young boy without a father and somehow your older brother is strong and you can’t fathom it the first one into the fire going a hundred miles an hour or at rest and now still while so young he vanishes as well. But strength is not just all about bravado and bellicose behavior strength is not false, strength is passion, strength is honesty, strength is open, strength is understanding and wisdom and vision and drive and compassion and the ability to persevere.

Gregg Allman was as strong as they come relentlessly coming back like Sisyphus. Fifteen times he went into rehab pursuing and scraping his will and soul to survive exhausted by trials and tribulations and getting out of the way of himself and the record machine to finally emerge fully realized, happy resolved. It was a herculean effort and many, many others fell by the way side when confronted with challenges far fewer and just as many self-imposed. To walk from chemotherapy when you have the best doctors in the world at your disposal not fearing death but challenging it one final time and living on your own terms those actions take deep resolve, deep faith in something unseen. That takes strength the kind of inner strength you cannot find by just adding muscle to your bike, car or body. That’s the foundational strength of love, a love or many loves of something other than and outside of yourself.

For all the words, music, fame, money and looks that is the real beauty of one Gregory LeNoir Allman.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Gregg Allman - One More Try: An Anthology - Album Review

The Gregg Allman Anthology is a thirty four track two disc set released by Bill, Kirk and Alan on Mercury Capricorn. It is my absolute favorite Gregg Allman collection because he is often accompanied just by himself with voice, guitar or piano.

It's thoughtfully put together and Alan's liner notes are another informative, good read. I am so happy I scooped this up before it was pulled from circulation. Officially titled "One More Try: An Anthology a quick google search turns up copies on amazon and elsewhere that run around eighty dollars. That is a pittance to hear Gregg working these tunes out. All the tracks are fully realized they do not cut off or trail off. He finishes each track. I do seem to recall him mentioning that he loved rehearsing - it shows!

Demos, outtakes, covers, alternate versions, band rehearsals have never sounded better. Gregg took the music seriously and to heart and thats what separates him from all those to come and all those who have come before. The Jackson Browne cover Shadow Dream Song is biblical. These are not just run throughs. And there is a 1969 version of Cross To Bear recorded out in LA with session musicians that is absolutely the birth of the Allman Brothers as much as anything we have heard or have been told before. These selections are just beautiful, intimate and haunting.

There's not a track on here that doesn't ring true. I'm listening to an alternate version of These Days from the collection as I'm writing and it's very hard to concentrate. There's a track featuring Johnny Winter Berry Oakley and Buddy Miles (Hendrix) on Wasted Words that screams and then later Bonnie Bramlett joining Gregg singing a stripped down, slowed down Win, Lose or Draw feels like its just you and them in front of a fireplace late at night. Catfish Blues is another great tune just Gregg and his guitar. I mean dear lord he's just finger picking his way through Will The Circle Be Unbroken by himself that alone is worth the price.

This is like an intimate house concert and Gregg just shows up to play in your living room. It's powerful and clean. There are full band performances as well from the Laid Back era, The Live Tour era, and The I'm No Angel era. The earliest track is 1968 with Gregg and Duane doing Melisa.

Twenty million, bazillion stars and thumbs up!
Highly recommended!

Allman Brothers Band Hittin’ The Note - Album Review

Hittin’ The Mule

Hittin The Note our final studio release from 2003 this outstanding lineup recorded one studio album and it doesn’t get any better.

HTN opens with a very crunchy Haynsian guitar line and Gregg’s vocals with authority. What follows is a cascading churning number that’s brisk and punctuated with excellent guitar tones. As it closes we have a classic Betts like scale rundown that repeats and pays homage to the ABB signature sound. With Warren Co-writing nine originals this is definitely an ABB meets Mule release but that’s more than okay. Anything with Gregg’s voice, lyrics and playing is an Allman Brother release no matter which way you look at it and then there’s the twin drums of Butch and Jaimoe unmistakable with authority passion, drive and finesse. This is an absolutely excellent release and as a cap stone to their legacy just about as perfect as it can get. Derek’s slide work is sublime the power and subtlety is all there both in the playing and the singing from everyone. The next track the High Cost of Low Living has Derek stepping out for an extended break. I recall hearing it for the first time and feeling this is as close to Duane as we are going to get and it’s a thing of beauty.

Sitting in my car one early summer evening outside a beach side Seven Eleven windows down Hittin’ The Note cranked I recall one brother passing by, “you listen to “good” music!” With an emphasis on the word “good” you could take to the bank. No clue who the band was not the popular music of the moment no matter it’s tight, excellent, righteous, searing, and honest. This is an undeniable recording. High Cost of Low Living ends gently as if ready to play Duane’s bird calls but Derek just leaves that space there. We know it was coming and even today it feels expected but he leaves the space vacant. It’s a really nice touch.

Desdemona follows and it’s a beautifully sung tune, bluesy like the night. The lyrics are poignant and truthful. Gregg is so good at throwing in the bibliographical wrapped in an anonymous story. It’s as if he’s saying here’s the truth friends but hey the song might not be autobiographical specifically but this line I sing here sure as hell is. It’s always been real between him and the fans as he composes. At the four minute mark Desdemona just takes off as we are treated to Derek’s gritty signature slide sound and fierce attack. Then Warren steps in with almost a Wes Montgomery like elegance before he crunches it up. Oteil’s bass work is perfectly mixed in without too many flourishes. This is after all a blues holler and Greg’s delivery of the lyrics is damn near perfect. They are sung with feeling not overwrought and wonderfully slated in the melody.

Then we get Freddy King. Who doesn’t love Freddy King? He gives Albert and B.B a good run for their money and quite frankly he’s my favorite King. We all know Woman Across The River by now as Warren trotted it out plenty. It’s a fiery fierce recording with blistering guitar runs but what follows is one of my favorite songs ever of regret and redemption.

Old Before My Time is a heartbreakingly bittersweet tune that gets me every time. Gregg is really singing to us here and I was the one with arms raised and butane lit whenever this came out in concert. “No more feeling guilty for things I never did.” The mix of acoustic and electric guitars is outstanding and the quiet solo acoustic opening with just vocals really puts the focus on the lyrics where it should be. Oteil’s bass line makes brief beautiful entrances then the Freight Train chugs in keeping the calm time with Derek’s slide making simple statements. Gregg’s organ chimes in and the guitar players get to work ripping our hearts out of our chests. It’s glorious. Well pronounced lyrics come back in sung at such an even pace with a little soft whoo hoo placed so quietly. The man knew what he was doing with his voice. “There is a long hard road that winds so far behind me….” fading out with a bottleneck slide on an acoustic…brilliantly placed after Butch’s cascading cymbals. To me Old Before My Time is bittersweet perfection.

Then we get a count off. How can a count off be so perfectly placed after a song and we are back to rockin the blues. The melody stalks with a cool sensibility somebody tell me Who to Believe. Unhurried guitar refrain bops quietly in the corner. I imagine that there was never another studio release because this effort was so good. The band has it right here. Each song and cover a strong righteous rendition of master musicians at their craft. Butch said something about the expense of studio time and that well may be but for my money I’m guessing they finished with this album and made a conscious decision to let it be. I’m just spit balling here who knows another effort might have been just as worthy but it’s hard for me imagining them topping this effort. There are subtle touches everywhere and it really is a genius well thought out effort played with passion and perfection. It really is brilliant and sits as a pantheon cap stone with no need to alter and no need for an addition.

Maydell (Johnny Neel -remember him) comes rockin’ in with a great upbeat shuffle and then Rockin’ Horse (Allen Woody – remember him) with just ridiculous firing of guitars and bass lines and that freight yard rhythm section with Marc playing his palms off then Derek getting greazzzzzzzy and the damn thing just funks out all over the place.

Heart of Stone was a great surprise and makes me laugh – this heart of stone darlin’. How perfect are the Stones lyrics for Gregg to sing and Warren and Derek give this song a wicked work out at the close. Take that Mick and Keith.

Instrumental Illness this mighty disc gets ready to close with an Oteil and Warren effort that is like a carnival ride, a crazy kangaroo of a song careening down the highway. It’s such a fun bop of an opening and then we’re down to some serious jams people. Introducing the one and only Gregg Allman on keyboards. It’s outstanding to hear Gregg give the keys a great work out before we launch into … what’s that familiar winding note … like a lone wolf howling at the wind … ladies and gentleman introducing Derek Trucks in all his mighty double cut away glory. The rhythm section stalks the lead as the guitar tries to turn away not today Mr. Trucks here comes Oteil bounding after you better take cover under those splashing drum skins, Zildjian Cymbals and drum heads of Marcs now making way for Warren sauntering down the street ready to throw a funky break down Haynsian groove a funky riffttastic orgy of growling staccato frenzy and the beast lives. Oh excuse me time to go up an octave nine minutes in we’re over right…. Ha,ha,ha yeah right they’re just letting the listener relax. Here comes Gregg with the closing of the Fillmore riff and then oh hi Oteil were you been and off again we go with the closing stanza a classic ABB wind down and subtle clashing close.

Phew what next well we get ceremoniously tossed into the swamp as Old Friend steps out from the Ridge across the holler and down to the creek. Warren brings his gentle growl and we have a finger picker’s delight vintage bottle neck attack with Skip James and Son House coming to mind.

And here we close my friends back from which we came full circle. God bless the Allman Brothers Band every single one of them in all their incarnations and god bless the music and god bless the fans and god bless the source from which it all sprang and from which it all springs.

In this crazy world with good and evil living side by side keep dancing, keep singing, keep playing the blues and driving your train. It’s your world too you know grab a hold of what speaks to you and build your foundation of life. Mold the clay that is you drink deep from the waters. It’s a mystery and a miracle a struggle and a defeat a victory and a redemption a journey worth living tear it up in balance with your soul, body, mind and spirit.


Friday, September 08, 2017

Allman Brothers Band - Where It All Brgins - Album Review

Where it all Begins -
In 1994 we got treated to yet a third studio album by the Allman Brothers. On the heels of Seven Turns and Shades of Two Worlds and a live disc this third Studio release from the reinvigorated band is a complete, cohesive effort and an excellent album.

While Seven Turns had a more disparate feel of different songs slotted next to one another and Shades was a pin your ears back assault from beginning to end Where It All Begins sits in between those two efforts tempo wise. Here we don't have the all-out blistering attack as captured on Shades or Set One an Evening With a live disc that was recorded teeth bared in Macon, Boston and at the Beacon that came out in 1992 but rather Where It All Begins has a distinctive shuffle song after song. It seems the Brothers were concentrating more on song craft with this release than burning the studio down.

Tom Dowd again at the helm helped the Brothers achieve their vision while still maintaining the tone of their dynamic sound and intricate interplay. It bounces and feels jaunty. Those are strange words to describe the Allman Brothers and their screaming stack of Marshall's but the playing is definitely more relaxed and that makes for a more relaxed listening experience which over time is very enjoyable.

Rest assured it is the Allman Brothers sound in its entirety and several of the songs became performance regulars that fit well within the cannon of early classics. Gregg’s singing of Soulshine is a treat and No One To Run With and its Bo Diddly shuffle was a concert favorite an anthem of acceptance and defiance that we all loved. Song after song shuffle with almost a reggae back beat intertwined and they deliver. This album also includes Sailin Across The Devils Sea, Change My Way of Living, What’s Done is Done and of the three resurgent studio releases may be my favorite and I’m very passionate about Shades of Two Worlds.

So we have a little bit of a mellow twist here a little less aggressive but certainly high quality songs and arrangements that let you hear a little more carefully the overall skill and talent of each of the players drum and rhythm section, bass and B-3 working together as well as the complexity of Dickie and Warren’s playing.

Where It All Begins is a relaxed groove with great slightly understated playing and a swing sensibility with hints of island back beats. It makes for an any time of day or night enjoyable funky, swing fest listen.

There are bouncy meandering segues, peaks and valleys intertwined with plenty of quick little fires of intensity but it is a different listening experience than Shades and a seemingly earthier offering than Seven Turns.

It all sounds great and mixed not so it’s coming at you but more like you are at the center of the listening experience. The growling tones are all there and the quick flourishes both strings and cymbals but not until the seventh track do our faces get ripped off with the tremendous Mean Woman Blues.

I can only imagine after Shades of Two Worlds and the Blistering An Evening With First Set the band wanted to dial it back a little bit and write some strong songs that gave their playing room to breathe. Tom Dowd did a great job mixing as all the vocals, Gregg’s, Dickie and Warren’s float just above the mix while at the back end of the mix the Hammond stalks the groove. Woody’s bass is dialed in nicely and the guitars when featured sizzle and dance. The drums Butch, Jaimoe and Marc always fantastic sit nicely as well right there trading licks with the guitars supporting the melody.

This is a fine album by mature skilled and accomplished musicians and lyricists that rocks and rolls through the swamp of our souls. Put it on feel your head bop as all the touches and ambiance returns and your smile emerges. Where It All Begins is a fully realized set of songs sung and played with passion and pin point fire that delivers a seemingly effortless Allman Brother journey down the road and yet it still retains that seductive smolder we all know and love.

I’m really enjoying rediscovering this effort and although not knowing for sure get what they were trying to achieve. I feel they slowed down their attack so that their musicianship and song crafting could really come to the fore be heard and really be appreciated. To that end I think they succeeded tremendously!

Friday, September 01, 2017

Allman Brothers Band - Seven Turns-Shades of Two Worlds - Best Of

Seven Shades:
In the 1990’s we were treated to two back to back releases Seven Turns and Shades of Two Worlds. There is a plethora of jamtastic music on both albums. Seven Turns set the table and Shades of Two Worlds slammed the door with authority. We are the Allman Brothers Band and this is the music we play and it speaks for itself. Here we come like it or not and just like that we were back fans, friends, family and band. No top forty airplay, no striving for recognition, damn few releases just live shows one after the other and the church filled right back up with young and old alike and we got it on. Who needs all the hyperbole all the media it’s all a distraction. The band was back down to business and that nights show was the mission. They recommitted to the music and their original passion and vision despite personnel, despite airplay, despite everything and guess what when they did what they loved because they loved it everything else took care of itself. The music came first not the booze, not the drugs, not the women, not the fame, accolades or attention and we were back with a vengeance. I was still on the air ten years later in 1991 and fell in love with Shades of Two Worlds. It screamed from the studio and out over the airwaves. Nobody Knows ricocheted everywhere I could broadcast it from my car, backyard, studio and airwaves. The energy was fierce and the college kids sheepishly admitted the old guy jams. It was nice of them to say but the phone was ringing off the hook. Your back this year thank god your show is the best thing on campus. It felt good to deliver and it felt good to have the goods to deliver. Thank you fellas!!!!!!!

I was at a Lynyrd Skynyrd Allman Brothers gig in North Carolina a decade later and it was a hoot fest and a half. I told my wife we are at ground zero tonight. The bikers were out in force. The flags were waving and the lawn after the show was strewn with bodies. My wife tried to help one poor flag bikini clad daisy duke wearing chippy as she stumbled barefoot into the washroom, “oh honey put some shoes on before coming in here.” We were back having fun!

I put a Seven Shades disc together which works well and features the songs I think are the best tracks from these two efforts.

Good Clean Fun (Seven Turns)
Seven Turns (Seven Turns)
Get On With Your Life (Shades of Two Worlds)
Low Down Dirty Mean (Seven Turns)
Shine It On (Seven Turns)
True Gravity ( Seven Turns)
End of the Line (Shades of Two Worlds)
Come on in My Kitchen (Shades of Two Worlds)
It’ Ain’t Over Yet (Seven Turns)
Kind of Bird (Shades of Two Worlds)
Nobody Knows (Shades of Two Worlds)
Gambler’s Roll (Seven Turns)
77 minutes

Just a few comments about some of these tracks:

True Gravity – takes off at the 2:50 mark into a beautiful array of sound, splashing drums, and thoughtful melody lines. It’s ethereal with the drums chugging underneath and the bass line jumping in and out in sympathy. And then at the 4:30 mark Johnny Neel charges out with a blistering piano line that wraps around the highway of sound that steals the show and sets the table for the next guitar lead and band to crescendo in a group ascent and fall. That middle segue is a thing of beauty.

Low Down Dirty Mean - opens with an acoustic twang and has a great juke joint feel, with a great set of gutsy lyrics.

Get on With Your Life - has some great call and response blues guitar work and Gregg brings the blues vocals to church.

End of the Line – “Oh when I think about the old days it sends chills up and down my spine.” Do you think Gregg is trying to tell us something here? It’s another gutsy, sizzling track and you can literally feel the band spitting the music out with purpose. A wonderful slide segue melodic and a change of pace leads us back to Gregg’s soulful proclamations. “Spent most of my life downtown sleeping behind the wheel.” Yeah baby tell it like it is!

Come on in My Kitchen - is the perfect pallet cleanser for screaming stacks of Marshall’s and I had to include it as it pays homage to the massive root of music that the ABB sound emerges from. Gregg slows it way down and it’s his singing that carries the melody. The backup vocals are spot on gospel and Dickey and Warren get to do a little chicken pickin and grinnin. It’s a real front porch holler.

Kind of Bird - I remember first listening to this tune and it not really grabbing me because it is a departure from the heavy straight ahead attack of say Black Hearted Woman. But here now decades later I totally get it and love it and get the groove. There are some great touches behind the shifting theme and flourishing riffs. A song structure ahead of its time to my ears back then but now it stands solid and undated dive back into this one if you haven’t in a while it’s all there.

Nobody Knows - Better lyrics may not have ever been written anywhere by anyone. They are straight ahead, unpretentious, speak the truth simply and clearly. I love hearing the band play but I love hearing Gregg sing these lyrics… “they ALL claim to know.” The music gets to the heart of the matter and doesn’t dance around the edges. Gregg’s Hammond gets a good work out to open the assault it’s building you know it’s coming…another verse and then it’s an earthy fierce work out. Nobody Knows sits firmly in the pantheon of great righteous Allman Brother Tunes from Whipping Post to Elizabeth Reed and the aforementioned Black Hearted Woman. Too many righteous classics to mention but this is foundational Allman Brothers at its best. It’s a righteous riffing screaming pin your ears back blow your mind melt the speakers excursion of dexterity, force and truth. It’s an in your face assault that says here we are this is what we do bitch and we do it better than anybody else!

Gambler’s Roll – After Nobody Knows what can you play? Well this tune brings the blues right back and has an opening crescendos that screeches to a halt mellows the mood and then lights the fire again. It builds slowly more truth is spoken with authority and the Hammond builds and stalks the opening assault. It’s so good to hear Gregg at his craft working that massive keyboard. Then the guitar comes in from around a dark alley the mood set screaming out in agony and flourishes with passion. This is a great tune and a good song. Gregg sings us out while the band flourishes and charges and retreats around his voice. It’s a thoughtful arrangement gritty, soulful, dark.

The amount of music this band put out over forty years might lend itself to some missing these tracks. Don’t do it dig down deep in their cannon and enjoy. They deserve to be heard and we deserve to hear them as well.

Allman Brothers Band - Seven Turns - A Personal Journey

Seven Turns:
Before I launch into the merits of the music a little context is needed for this yarn. We all know death but do we know it as a good thing? Believe it or not and it makes no difference to me I’m not here to convince you of anything but if you haven’t experienced the jolt of death the righteous slap in the face that it is you have no idea and zero comprehension of life. It’s a rude awakening but it is an awakening. You may think you know it but until you experience it the proverbial rug has not been swiped from under your feet and the seemingly emptiness revealed. Death challenges you and braces you like turning into the wrong neighborhood at night in a different city where you have just arrived. Death wakes your ass up. Death provides gratitude and awareness it provokes faith and amplifies and informs your life. An unexpected death like a bolt from a canyon rips the false veneer of shallow comprehension off your back and drops it at your feet. Pick it up or run away it still provides the provocative phenomenon that a spinning oasis in space is just a start and what the hell is really going on here? Death raises your consciousness even if you think you have already raised your consciousness to dizzying heights. Death is the ultimate thunder clap and sudden death is its howitzer.

I’ve been blasted by that howitzer several times and in its place fleeting memories and artifacts and phenomena. My beautiful older sister knew how to act. With a sly smile and a warm heart and the true sting of a Scorpio. Perfectly placed five years older than me she sometimes paved the way and when in her sphere raised me up. On rare occasions she pointed her boyfriend’s little sisters my way. Looking out for me she would have stuffed a little surfer girl in the mail to me from Hawaii if she could and told me so but all I got was a tee shirt. She was honest, brave and fun and then in a snap she was gone and I’m still so very young.

Seven turns landed in my lap in 1990. After the wilderness years of solo albums, band feuds, people magazine covers and releases that had glimmers but only a few tracks to cling to I ripped the cellophane off the new CD. How the fuck do you open a CD Jesus mother of marry get that freakin’ label sticky crap sealed again under the cellophane off? What fresh packaging hell is this!? Wait don’t break the plastic case. Okay CD’s came out in the mid 1980’s but I mean seriously!!?

I deposited the new disc in my player and like many of you I was ten years in the waiting….please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck. Heightened anticipation positive but still please no more over synthesized pablum puke for the masses. Not since Brothers and Sisters come on we need a complete effort not just one or two righteous explorations and then fill come on mannnnnnnnnn.

So there I was in my old Victorian on the precipice of exaltation, disappointment or somewhere in between. I was all alone no roommates, holding down several gigs, making ends meet, no television, finalizing Journey Home and my music and art surrounding me. Vintage hippie pad, crooked floors, bay windows, complete with tapestries, incense and Native American flute music emanating from the windows. My Cousteau Calypso flag hanging from the second story out front proudly. Plants and bookshelves The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Van Gogh, acoustic and electric, an old typewriter two kittens pesticide free pest control and support system please don’t shit in the rubber plant Sylvia it was Jeana’s.

The marinara steeping in my small antiquated kitchen, pasta at the ready, fresh bread and a nice bottle of red. Good Clean Fun comes roaring out of the speakers! Yeeeees! Fist pump, arms raised, eyes to the heavens nirvana in my crib but no one to share it with. No matter I’ve always been a god damn independent. As one song rolls into the other and I’m preparing my modest feast the thought that grows naturally from my soul and heart is that Duane must be so proud of his younger brother right now and I feel it I really do and the smile is there the music is righteous, strong, invigorated and there it is right in the middle of the floor as I turn my sisters fedora with the feather she stuck in the trim ribbon waiting to greet me.

We live in a beautiful world an amazing world surrounded by creativity and beauty and honor and goodness and magic. It’s a reality unknowable and the ying and yang of it all gives us our work to do and presents those challenges. If met we are the wiser for it more fulfilled brimming with soul satisfaction and awareness at every step, every waking moment and in our dreams as well the visions abound both here and there. It really is a beautiful world and it’s all tied together whether we know it or not in ways we cannot seem to see but sometimes do and more often then afterwards we hear the song birds sing thank you.

Allman Brothers Band - Dreams Again!

When the Dreams Box Set arrived in stores I had the same expression on my face and bought three copies. Two were gifts. It received extensive play at the studio and I knew more than ever and it just confirmed something was a foot with the band and future new releases were on the horizon.

The live cuts got airplay immediately and the early stuff on the first lp as rare as I could find got airplay as well. I remember standing in the parking lot at the Garden State Art Center and blaring the tunes from my car speakers and fans stopping to enthusiastically discuss the merits of the release.

Warren, Woody and Johnny were great additions to the band. Seeing Woody play for the first time was a revelation and the dominant thought I had was "where the hell did they find this guy?"

Woody exuded such great dynamics from the stage. He was a fierce player but had this teddy bear vibe about him. I don't think anybody in the venue or on stage was having a better time than Woody. That's the way it looked and felt to me.

I was also psyched about the piano coming back into the mix. Chuck I guess was busy with the Stones but Johnny Neel was not a fill in. His playing was extraordinary vibrant and wickedly fast. He took center stage when he played and brought dexterity and a great sensibility to the sound of the band. Johnny Neel did some dynamic work for the band both in the studio and on stage. Often a forgotten player but I enjoyed his contributions immensely.

The crowd? Well they were in a frenzy excited and righteously psyched this music was back and with a vengeance.

I'm guessing this photo is one of Kirk's black and whites. It's a great impromptu capture and it looks like we all band and fans felt the same. Thanks to everyone who pulled that effort together. You sure made one DJ in New Jersey happy!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Allman Brothers Band - I'm No Angel-Pattern Disruptive

Disruptive Angel - The Wilderness Years: After the Arista Clive Davis Prostitution Dickey and Gregg went their own way. Hell I even think there was a moment that the ABB was playing without Gregg. I distinctly remember going what the what how f'd up is that? But the wilderness years weren't all bad for the core fans.

No way brother we got to catch Gregg and Dickey although in separate venues at separate times all alone down front in freakin' bars. Yeah baby. Places the same size or smaller than Grant's only a decade later. We danced and hooted and hollered and partied with the band inches from Gregg with the Toler Brothers and Chaz Trippy and Dickey fronted a power trio. That's right while the kids were swooning over Depeche Mode there I was with "my" brother no less down front raging with every note Dickey powered our way. Crowd sizes were pushing it to reach fifty people including staff and the band on a Tuesday night. Small but hearty my friends and ferocious we all had a ball.

So while it might have been a come down for the band it was a real opportunity and we had a blast. This was all pre-1986. We had the better part of a decade before they climbed back into America's consciousness and started playing sheds again with Johnny Neel, Warren and Woody.

There I sat in my studio faced with three hours of air time....hmmm what should I play? Out comes Fillmore East and Done Somebody Wrong the manager comes in and say’s okay you’ve done that once never do that again…well bullshit to that who cares if it’s not XTC.

I had a 35 mile radius outside of Atlantic City the 52nd largest market just behind New Orleans out of 270 ranked markets. FM airwaves before satellite before streaming and I laid it on thick. I brought the jam and we went to the shows.

I was a man on a mission. You want music I'll show you goddam music. One fellow DJ said out from under his black eye liner at least the guys you play know how to play their instruments. I cranked the studio speakers and the head bangers and speed scale lovers were confused by the back beat. I segued in and out of live sets and the goth kids smiled. I played musicians and musicians played music!

Seeing Gregg in a sleazy bar in Wildwood NJ a puke stained, piss soaked oh dear lord don’t go into the bathroom or eat the food crap hole and handing out tee shirts with the classic mushroom logo to my friends and fans and the band wanted them.

"Hey were'd you get those?"

I jumped up and down in front of the band and Gregg whose B-3 I could touch if I wasn’t respectful I was genuinely into every note (still am). No beer in my hand, air guitar going as I'm rocking listening, dancing, having a hoot grooving hard Danny smiling at me shaking his head and Gregg stepping down off the riser tapping "me" on the shoulder and shaking my hand - just beautiful - drinking with the band at the bar after the show - sitting on either side of me - dynamite!

Well we had us a time. Why is Dickey's bass player grinning like a maniac looking like he's going to have a heart attack? What's in that towel fellas...come on guys right on freakin' stage. We had our own. Invited back stage to talk to Gregg about the double SG that sure as hell looked like Brother Duane's guitar and I was too stupid to get autographs back then.

Then 1986 The Together Again Tour and I have to wake people up shake their shoulder pads and costume jewelry from around their necks. Get your asses to the gig morons. Easily down front again no pushing, dancing, laughing, carrying on and a double bill this time with Dickey Opening and Gregg closing and then the encore together with Duane' guitar...redemption.

Then we get I'm no Angel and Pattern Disruptive 1987 and 1988 and Gregg's back on commercial radio and I'm hollering at the DJ's and Programmers as I roll down the road - about god damn time assholes.

Looking back they learned some lessons from the Arista debacle and while both releases INA and PD have their merits they are still of their time. I’m No Angel especially. However on INA they sneak more blistering guitar work of Dan’s into several songs and not forgetting their true friends and fans close with a new version of Don’t Want You No More into It’s Not My Cross To Bear just a bit glammed up.

Who knew in the following year 1989 with the issue of the Dreams Box Set they would charge on for another twenty four years? And that was the whole point to me. The music was too epic to not forge ahead and when they stayed true to their vision and passion new generations not only us 1970ers but decade after decade of hearts and souls got to experience, re-discover and be informed by the roots of rock n roll, blues, gospel, country, jazz and soul and a whole lotta righteous soul playing groove thundering authenticity.

In the wilderness years of the 1980’s we didn’t want this music forgotten not the fans not the musicians. As I pulled Hot ‘Lanta from the Fillmore East album one day in the 1990’s a returning alumni of the radio station said to me derisively “are you still playing that album” – “hell yeah,” I retorted and after he left and said hello to old friends on the wing the studio speakers screaming that music down the hall he stuck his head back into the studio to say goodbye and spoke emphatically – “keep playin "that" music Paul!”

Mission accomplished

Allman Brothers - Arista Years

Well what are you going to do - its 1980 and 1981 you sign with a new label take their money and Tom Dowd is no where near the studio. The thing that struck me is how many people asked Gregg and Dickey to sign these albums - the other being Reach for the Sky.

It always gave me pause when BOTR or RFTS albums were pushed in front of the guys for autographs. But if you came of age then and this music spoke to you then guess what - awesome - and thats how music works - all things work - and so we shouldn't be so quick to judge. I saw a lot of people want these albums signed. They would probably shrug their shoulders at my passion for Highway Call and you know its all good.

Except I don't think these two albums do the band justice in any way shape or form.

So is there music here worth listening to? Yes there is. Is it righteous.... ahhh not consistently and way over produced. Strip it back down put some teeth in the lyrics and well you have different albums.

Okay look you veer off your vision your trying to reestablish the band grab some money and pay the bills. We get it - and so when it comes time to record the material you try to bring the vision forth by the way you sing a voicing and play a phrase. I got the feeling they dressed all the music in the same overcoat of the era and that every other song was Arista taking the music in one direction and the ABB trying to take it in another direction yet all wearing the same fabric or foundation of the pop music world proven money machine artifice.

But if the lyrics are not inspired and the sound is contrived well the best that can be said is they gave it a whirl. However they did not survive the Arista and Clive Davis bastardizing of the original vision of blues, R&B, soul, gospel and jazz and the American Idolizing of our guys.

All the old fans threw up and the new ones made excuses. Large vast amounts of puke, many, many excuses.

Dickey and Gregg made a mistake and Miami Viced their sound. They danced to market forces and chased money instead of the muse. There are listenable songs here that would go well with your early 80's collection or if you are binge watching Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas - that show cracks me up - guilty pleasure - love it when they turn out their own co-workers to hook and shoot drugs undercover or was that Rush?

Tequila Sunrise is an awesome movie the 80's had some merit and gave us Mark Knopfler.

Anyway cherry picking off of these two efforts and in no particular order the songs that work best to my ears.

The Judgement
Things You Used to Do
Maybe We Can Go Back to Yesterday
Never Knew How Much I Needed You
From the Madness from the West
Keep on Keepin On
So Long

These are good solid of the era tunes but nine selections and one of them I'm iffy about (oh heck all of them I'm Iffy about) culled from eighteen total tracks tells you all you need to know. I bought both albums when they came out and never played them on the air or bought replacement CDs.

Robben Ford once said stick to your vision - the audience will find you or said another way.

"This above all to thine own self be true.." Polonius

Lesson Learned