Friday, February 27, 2009

The Surfing Spacemen – Mental Pictures

This is CD number two from Finland's Surfing Spacemen. It's quite different from the first, more polished and farther into the go-go scene. Images of bachelor pads and space age spy films abound. Some very good writing and arranging, coupled with strong musicianship and interesting blends of sounds. Real beat and groovy.

Go Hammonds, Go, Super-Fly, Naked City, Island Of Bob-To, Immemorial, Waves, Satellite Beeps, Linoleum, Ergo Spega Extrobasa, Jamaican Root Canal, Swingin' Beatniks, Mr. Agent, No Questions Asked, Soho, Hard Labour, Saved By The Bell


Ron Levy’s Wild Kingdom- B-3 Blues and Grooves

Ron Levy is known to blues aficianados for his organ and piano playing and production work on hundreds of records. Since the early '70s, he has toured the country with Albert King, B.B. King, and Roomful of Blues. Between production ventures for others, Ron found time to fire up his Hammond B-3 organ and lay down a record that recalls everything from the organ trio sound of Jimmy Smith to the slinky instrumentals of Booker T. & the MGs.

If you're new to the B3 sound (and even if you're not) this is the album for you. From mellow to funky, Ron Levy puts the instrument through its paces in a sometimes playful and all-times soulful way. A little more to the acid side than some staunch B3 enthusiasts might like, because he doesn't keep it screamin' all the time, he actually plays it melodically. Check it out! Sweet.

1. Levtronic Blues - Ron Levy, Levy, Ron 2. Summertime - Ron Levy, Gershwin, George 3. Smoke N' Fire 4. Gimme a Break - Ron Levy, Levy, Ron 5. Prayin' the Blues, Pt. 1 6. Funk Finger 7. Eema's Song 8. 'Mo Chain Smokin' 9. Meter Made 10. Rooseveltin' 11. Prayin' the Blues, Pt. 2

Jimmy MCGriff - Greatest Hits

This is an excellent compilation of Jimmy McGriff's sides from 1963-1971. This includes material from Sue, Veep, Solid State, Blue Note and Capitol. Jimmy McGriff is one of the funkiest blues organ players around. If you are familiar with him through his recent Milestone releases then you already know what I'm talking about. This compilation contains some of his earliest material. It includes his two biggest hits "I Got A Woman" and the extremely funky cut "The Worm." Some of my favorite cuts include a cover of James Brown's "Ain't It Funky Now", "Blue Juice", "Criss Cross" and "Gospel Time." The material from his funky Solid State years is much appreciated because those albums are out of print at the moment.
Fans of gritty blues/soul jazz organ will find much to enjoy with this set.

1. All About My Girl 2. I've Got a Woman (Parts 1 & 2) 3. Discotheque U.S.A. 4. Kiko 5. See See Rider 6. Cash Box 7. Gospel Time 8. Where It's At (Live) 9. The Last Minute 10. Blue Juice 11. Step One 12. Chris Cross 13. South Wes 14. Black Pearl (Live At The Golden Slipper) 15. The Worm 16. Ain't It Funky Now 17. Fat Cakes



Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ritchie Allen - The Rising Surf

First playing guitar on Sandy Nelson’s "Teen Beat," then as a session man for many Gary Usher-produced surf sides, Richie Allen would cut two stellar albums of pier-shooting, California magic of his own for Imperial Records.

If you were young in coastal Southern California in the 60s, then you'll find that The Rising Surf brings back days filled with surf and sun. While the sound is definitely dated, in a good way, it is so evocative of that time and place that entertainment value overcomes any qualms about the simplicity of the music. Though I enjoy the entire disc, my favorite cut is definitely The Quiet Surf, followed by Put It On and the famous Rumble. Only the silly Swanee River Twang detracts from the beach party ambience of this set. There are a lot of early surf bands that modern pundits proclaim as "the best" or "essential". I won't say this CD is either, because I haven't heard them all. But I will say that if you like the twang of surf guitar occasionally joined by a funky honking saxophone, then check out The Rising Surf. I give it three stars for music quality, but five stars for its entertainment value which makes it a solid four-star value overall.

The Rising Surf 2. Surfer’s Delight 3. Undercurrent 4. Foot Stomp U.S.A. 5. The Quiet Surf 6. Breakin’ Out 7. Skeg-Along-Pete 8. Ground Swell 9. Push Off 10. Swanee River Twang 11. Put it On 12. Rumble


Ritchie Allen - Surfer's Slide

The two Richie Allen albums are finally available on disc! Recorded in '62 and '63, they are the real thing, authentic surf sounds from SoCal. The band includes such L.A. studio luminaries such as Plas Johnson on sax, Sandy Nelson on drunms, and Tommy Tedesco on guitar, as well as Richie Allen (Podolar). This is the real thing, folks, get this one as well as The Rising Surf!

Whether going by the alias Richie Allen or his real name Richie Polodor, this fiery young guitarist/engineer/producer would leave an indelible mark on the recording industry. Allen would soon engineer or produce rock legends like Steppenwolf and Three Dog Night, but California never sounded more enticing than on Surfers’ Slide, the second of his Imperial Records LPs from 1963. Wild and raw, the way surf music was meant to sound, it corrals all the big Los Angeles session names for a curl-shooting romp of pure, unadulterated west coast magic!

Surfers’ Slide 2. Sunday Surfer 3. The Lonely Surfer 4. Ridin’ the Woodie 5. Swing Low 6. Surfers’ Hop 7. A Touch of Blue 8. Malibu Run 9. Surf Man 10. Comin’ Back to You 11. Undercurrent 12. Tidal Wave

The Flinstones - Movie -OST

How the live-action movie version of the Flintstones massively sucked. The soundtrack, is much better. Showcasing the music of the day; alternative, goofy pop, rap, early nu-metal, glam, some good, some not so good. Most of the songs are thematically tied to the movie, which isn't the case for many songs for other soundtracks, and they feature dialogue from the cartoon series.

Choosing the B-52's, temporarily rechristened the BC-52's for two songs, to sing the theme song is along the lines of inventing the wheel, one of those really inventive ideas. They've gone back to the producers of Cosmic Thing here. Don Was in produces the theme song, perfect as Fred Schneider quirkiness and Katie Pierson's unique chirpiness add to the fun-ness of the song. Cartoon effects from the series are incorporated, such as running and Dino. And it's Nile Rodgers producing "The Bedrock Twitch" which is another danceable hit like "Love Shack." In this case, it's what, "stone roof, rusted"? If this was done in the 60's when dance crazes were all the hype.... I can imagine people jamming to "do the twitch like you got an itch itch itch.

Some songs don't exactly go past second gear. Biethnic UK hip-hop/remix group Stereo MC's tackle "Human Being (Bedrock Steady)" a steady cycle of multilayered drum tracks and wailing vocals, while My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult's "Hit & Run Holiday" features the same industrial sounds they provided on the Cool World soundtrack, but with some more distorted vocals and horns. Not one of their better songs, and not too relevant to the movie.
One of the last bows of Shakespears Sister, that group by ex-Bananarama singer Siobhan Fahey, is seen in the reggae of "Prehistoric Daze"
Big Audio Dynamite do "Rock With The Caveman," opening with excerpts of some tribal chanting, then "Wilma, I'm home!" and then it's a Bill Haley-type 50's rock with guitar and piano and backing vocals. "Stalactite, stalagmite, hold your baby very tight." Clever that, with near the same fun as the BC-52's.
"I Showed A Caveman How To Rock"? More like how to rap, given that it's US3 featuring Def Jef with some "yabadabadoo" and horn samples heard.
The standout cut - "I Wanna Be A Flintstone": yes, that's the name of this hard-guitar/rockabilly song by the Screaming Blue Messiahs. Fred can be heard in the background, and in fact he stops the song with his "Hold it hold it! Hoo boy!"Laid back instruments, such as airy synths and piano, back bass vocals feature in the Crash Test Dummies' "In The Days Of The Caveman." It's an idyllic look back at a simpler time, when cavemen "didn't have to keep a certain bedtime" and were able to hear noises at nighttime. One of the better songs here.
Actually, it's not "Anarchy In The UK", rather it's "anarchy in Bedrock" and "I WANNA BE FRED FLINTSTONE" in Green Jelly's over-the-top cover of the Pistol's classic anthem in which there are other liberties taken to, such as the lead singer yelling out "WILMA" as if Stan Kowalski was screaming for Stella in Streetcar Named Desire. Slightly amusing.
Some songs have been previously released. Weird Al Yankovic's "Bedrock Anthem," a send-up of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under The Bridge" and "Give It Away." Some effects from the cartoon series include Dino's yapping and Barney Rubble "laughing like a hyena." And Was (Not Was) recycle a danceable soul single from their What's Up Dog? album, "Walk The Dinosaur," whose title was just asking to be put on a Flintstones album. Or Jurassic Park if that movie featured songs.A fair mix of songs reflecting mid-90's music, but why include an excerpt of the incidental music, i.e. Mesozoic Music by David Newman, which throws the whole thing off balance. Rating: three yabba-dabbas and a doo doo – still fun after all these years. Just delete the last cut.

1.(Meet) The Flintstones - The BC-52's 2. Human Being (Bedrock Steady) - Stereo MC's 3. Hit & Run Holiday - My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult 4. Prehistoric Daze - Shakespear's Sister/The Holy Ghost 5. Rock With The Caveman - Big Audio Dynamite 6. I Showed A Caveman How To Rock - Us3 7. The Bedrock Twitch - BC-52's 8. I Wanna Be A Flintstone - The Screaming Blue Messiahs 9. In The Days Of The Caveman - Crash Test Dummies 10. Anarchy In The U.K. - Green Jelly 11. Walk The Dinosaur - Was Not Was 12. Bedrock Anthem - 'Weird Al' Yankovic 13. Mesozoic Music - David Newman


Blue Funk - Blue Note Series

Blue Note's "Blue Funk" is absolutely chock-full of soul/jazz/funk magic. Don't come looking for any lightweight stuff, 'cause this 2001 release is no joke...this is the real spirit of funk; down, dirty, and transcendent. If you prefer your funk on the more jazzy tip, as opposed to a more "rock" or "pop" style, then this may be your new favorite compilation. "Blue Funk" is all about swirling b3 organ, greasy, TIGHT horn lines, shifting rhythmic funk patterns, flying bongos, tight, tight, TIGHT rhythm guitar, and the ALL-MIGHTY drum & bass GROOVE. Tightness really is key here, as it's the tightness that keeps things fresh and prevents the whole excursion from being weighed down by repetition and sloppiness, which is the downfall of some funk music. The funky format here also prevents too much decadent, ponderous soloing (while there is a place for such exploration, this is not it). The music on "Blue Funk" is about the beat, the forward-motion of the rhythm, and the sustained buoyancy of the groove. The groove here, by the way, achieves the enormous feat of being heavy and deep, as well as clean and crisp...simultaniously. I've enjoyed several of the Blue Note "blue" compilations, notably the "Blue N' Groovy," "Blue Breakbeats," and "So Blue, So Funky" sets, and as great as they are, they CAN be a little uneven. "Blue Funk," on the other hand, is so rhythmically engaging, so absolutely cohesive and refreshing that it never, EVER gets old. The choice of tunes here is phenomenal. Some of these grooves, such as the friendly old-school shuffle of "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" may be permanently etched into your DNA, and you'll be a better person for it. In the end, there is so much flawless music out there to be grooved to, that the eclectic listener has precious little time for anything but the cream, and the CREAM is what's delivered here. "Blue Funk" is the best of the best of the best. For me, there is no better single-disc, various artist collection of jazzy instrumental funk, period. What a great collection!

Who Dun It? - Blue Mitchell 2. Say It Loud (I'm Black And I'm Proud) - Lou Donaldson 3. Cissy Strut - Big John Patton 4. Ease Back - Grant Green 5. Hunk O' Funk - Jack McDuff 6. Tic Tac Toe - Candido 7. Down Home Funk - Richard "Groove" Holmes 8. Cantaloupe Woman - Grant Green 9. I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door I'll Get It Myself) - Grant Green 10. Don't Knock My Love - Ronnie Foster 11. If There's A Hell Below - Lou Donaldson 12. Bambu - Reuben Wilson 13. Family Affair - Bobby Hutcherson



Friday, February 13, 2009

Rock Don't Run V1

Happy Valentine’s Day. Thought I’d show my love to you folks out there with a lovely post of twangeriffic goodies. Here is the full collection of the hard to get Rock Don’t Run comps on Spinout Records put out by Los Straitjackets' Eddie Angel, from the 90’s surf revival. All in luscious 320. Most of the groups are not all that well-known although a few, such as Laika and the Cosmonauts and Los Straitjackets, have a sizeable cult following. The songs are excellent for the most part. If you like the Ventures, Duane Eddy, etc. but haven't listened to some of their modern disciples, then give this a try. You won't be disappointed.

1 Whatcha Say? Kaisers 2:09 2 Bikini Sunset Volcanos 1:47 3 Half Moon Bay Volcanos 2:01 4 University Blvd. Straitjackets 2:51 5 Morpheus Surf Kings 2:50 6 The Tower Surf Kings 2:35 7 Mr. Pan Ventures Out Panasonics 2:08 8 Bustin' Suds Thee Phantom 5ive 2:18 9 Hey Thee Phantom 5ive 2:19 10 Floating Laika & the Cosmonauts 2:59 11 Cerveza on Dee Mesa Fathoms 2:46 12 Rockabilly Surfer Fathoms 2:49 13 Topless Beach Eddie Angel 2:42 14 The Maltese Martian Dragula 2:40 15 Bruce Lee's Last Ride Dragula 2:17 16 The Natives Are Restless Halibuts 2:30 17 Cool Hand Luke Astro Naughts 1:55 18 Surfin' Boar Astro Naughts


Rock Don't Run V2

1 Kawanga! Los Straitjackets 2:23 2 Sandoway Exotics 2:47 3 Gasser Exotics 2:08 4 Valley of the Kaisers Kaisers 2:28 5 Mondo Bondo Four Piece Suit 2:13 6 A Shot in the Dark Four Piece Suit 2:33 7 Hammerhead Halibuts 2:26 8 Under the Gun Mulchmen 3:12 9 Big Nasty Mulchmen 2:08 10 Pacifica Los Straightjackets 3:03 11 2000 LB. Werewolf Neanderthals 1:36 12 Fade Away Laika, Cosmonauts 3:03 13 Night of the Drunken Cheerleaders Penetrators 2:30 14 Melodie's Dilemma Penetrators 3:19 15 Summertime Summertime 2:48 16 Pan's Rock Panasonics 1:53 17 Rik-A-Tik Simon And The Bar Sinisters 2:15 18 Mongoose Boulevard Vibro Champs


Rock Don't Run V3

1 Overboard Fathoms 2:45 2 Psychotronic Insect Surfers 2:41 3 Island Uprising Tiki Tones 2:37 4 Nitrous Peroxide Diddley, Sir Bald & His Wig Outs 2:01 5 Sack O' Woe Omega Men 2:28 6 Shalako Bent Scepters 2:35 7 Thunder Over Rincon Jon & The Nighriders 2:19 8 Solaris Stomp Space Cossacks 3:16 9 F.U.J.I.M.O. Untamed Youth 1:39 10 Lunar Luau Huntington Cads 3:10 11 Lou Siffer Rocky Velvet 1:35 12 More Booze, Less Ice Boss Martians 2:04 13 Betrayal Ripsnorts 2:47 14 Devil's Punchbowl Satan's Pilgrims 2:49 15 Branded Los Straitjackets 2:55 16 Thar She Blows Halibuts

Cool Jazz – The Cocktail Hour

Usually a collection with a title like Cool Jazz: The Cocktail Hour and a cover shot of upwardly mobile folks sipping martinis wouldn't raise eyebrows. Behind the deceptive cover, though, is a sampler from one of the more adventurous jazz labels in the U.S., Evidence. Packed in its 13 tracks are a handful of Sun Ra’s most swinging tunes, including "Plutonian Nights," "State Street," and the R&B burner "Great Balls of Fire" (sorry, no relation to Jerry Lee Lewis' tune). Ra alumni Michael Ray puts a New Orleans touch on his "Beans and Rice" while piano player Ed Kelly teams up with Pharoah Sanders for sophisticated soul-jazz on "Pippin'." Singer Carmen Bradford brightens the collection with sheer exuberance on two tunes, "Chicago Hello" and "Rough Ridin'." This is the hippest cocktail hour around and a great introduction to the Evidence roster.

1 Pippin' Ed Kelly, Pharoah Sanders 4:34 2 Plutonian Nights Sun Ra 3:35 3 Beans and Rice Michael Ray, Cosmic Krewe 5:47 4 Rough Ridin' Carmen Bradford 3:07 5 West Oakland Strut Ed Kelly, Pharoah Sanders 4:37 6 Great Balls of Fire Sun Ra 5:27 7 Samba Kelly, Ed Ensemble 4:31 8 Use Your Hands Babatunde Lea 3:43 9 Kingdom of Not Sun Ra 5:31 10 The Golden Lady Sun Ra 4:55 11 Chicago Hello Carmen Bradford 3:16 12 It'll Be Alright David Hardiman 6:48 13 State Street Sun Ra


Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Sidewinders - Come and Get It

The Sidewinders, through a blending of referential solo, and modern technique, have brought all the excitement and energy of bygone days back to life. They have supercharged, tubed, and glass-packed their rockabilly/surfabilly forms, creating a thunderous showpiece that purrs like a kitten, both classically familiar and strikingly new.

They are a robust rockabilly/jump blues/surf power trio blazing forth on an effort that puts the spotlight on guitarist and vocalist Dan Peters' extensive skills. The disc contains originals that feature his full baritone and big guitar sound (especially on the wild and wicked instrumental "The Spooky Surfer" - worth the price of admission by itself) along with a hot cover of Lieber and Stollers "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah."

Stylistically the songs range from trucker to blues to serious rock all infectiously played with lots of gusto and twang - yummy.

This album is Buddy Holly, Brian Setzer, Elvis and Steve Vai, pulling low nines in the same candy-apple red '57 Chevy. Overall, The Sidewinders are able to perform a mean trick: make vibrant modern music from several retro forms. You will be chuggin’ along on this way after the music stops playing. Way recommended, even with the vocals.

1. The Girl At the Diner 2. Gone So Long 3. Stand Down 4. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah 5. The Long Road Home 6. Somebody to Love 7. She Put a Spell On Me 8. Way Down Low 9. The Spooky Surfer


The Stingrays ST

This has to be one of the very best contemporary surf bands. The Stingrays really know their stuff, blending early Sixties surf music tradition with driving garage band intensity.

The Stingrays are a high school aged surf band from San Clemente. This disc displays a talented trio with fresh ideas and respect for the roots. The writing on most tracks is particularly good, perhaps hinting of what a young Dave Wronski's style might have been like. An excellent first issue. The sound quality is quite varied, with mixes sounding like they were done at different times in different places. Phil Dirt – 4 stars

This is surf music as it is meant to be played. And listened to! This one rates!

Don't Fear the Reverb 2. Los Mosquitos 3. Sunnyside Up 4. La Chancha 5. Hawaiian Pullout 6. Bodybag 7. Weiners and Beans 8. Pipleline - The Stingrays, Spickard 9. Larry's Got a Longboard 10. Impact Zone 11. Sabrina 12. Gone Surfing 13. Nitro - The Stingrays, Monsour, Richard


DonTiki Adulterated - RePost

As implied by the title, this is a remix of classic Don Tiki sounds, which pay homage to Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman and all the forefathers of exotica. Even repertory tracks have been mixed, reshaped, refined and re-invented by a coterie of top deejays - call it Martin Denny for the millennium - and the tunes take on new sass. Adulterated features three standout tracks, starting with DJ Jimmy B's remix of The Natives Are Restless. Now, we're big fans of the original song but Jimmy B's remix takes it up a notch. Extremely effective remix effects and nice spoken word pieces highlight this mix, along with chanting to die for. Br Cleve contributes a HiNRG "Bongo Congo" mix of Bwana Banana that somehow fits in even though this has a much higher BPM than the rest of the album. Lastly, Clutch Cargo Cult gets a great remix from 8FatFat8 that includes a nice rap by Julio Davis. Among the delights: "The Other Side of the Moon" by Ursula 1000 of New York, "An Occasional Man" by Keith Kandell of Los Angeles, "Bwana Banana" by Br Cleve's Bongo Congo Mix of Boston, "Polyamore" by Poi Dog Pondering of Chicago and "All Quiet Flows the Don" by 8FatFat8 of Chicago. There's a mix of sultry, intermittent vocals with inventive instrumentals. This is party music that collates a myriad of styles, from exotic jazz to ska, from funk to pop. Light the tiki torches, turn on the lava lamps, haul out the tiki mask and start groovin!'

The Other Side of the Moon 2. Clutch Cargo Cult 3. Heat 4. Da T'ing He Grow 5. An Occasional Man 6. Close Your Eyes 7. The Natives Are Restless 8. Polyamore 9. Bwana Banana 10. Terminal 11. All Quiet Flows the Don


Synergy ST

Beginning with the 1975 landmark Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra, Synergy explored the possibilities inherent in synthesizer/sequencer technology and digital-studio production techniques, resulting in some of the most inventive electronic music of the 1970s. It was mostly the work of synthesizer expert Larry Fast, who also brought electronics to the mainstream by coordinating synthesized passages for dozens of pop acts during the 1970s and '80s, including Yes, Peter Gabriel, Meatloaf, John Denver, Barbra Streisand, Hall & Oates, Kate Bush, Foreigner and Randy Newman.

Recording as Synergy, Fast debuted in 1975 with Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra. The album became a surprise favorite with progressive radio, and was hailed by synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog as the most important recording to date using his Moog synthesizer. Soon after the album's release, Fast was introduced to Peter Gabriel, who had recently left Genesis and was about to begin his solo career; Gabriel recruited Larry Fast to take care of synthesized effects for his first three LPs (each were self-titled). Gabriel's success with the singles "Shock the Monkey," "Biko" and "Games Without Frontiers" gave Fast a growing reputation as the man to hire for that contemporary sound; even while he recorded three new Synergy LPs during the late '70s, Fast worked with a variety of artists and appeared on tour with Gabriel. He also provided the score for the original planetarium light-show known as Laserium, and moved into film work (About Last Night, Planes, Trains and Automobiles) during the 1980s.

Still holds up well today. Slaughter on Tenth Avanue is a fave of The Ventures and has been covered by them many times. This electronic version is equally thrilling in its own sci-fi kind of way. If you like synthesizer electronic rock – check it out. You might find something good.

Legacy 2. Slaughter on Tenth Avenue - Synergy, Rodgers, Richard 3. Classical Gas 4. Synergy 5. Relay Breakdown 6. Warriors

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