Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A track-by-track look at the VU documentary soundtrack

The Todd Haynes documentary on The Velvet Underground landed on Apple TV+ last Friday, and I reviewed it Monday on our Geezerology Gazette series over on YouTube. Accompanying the movie was a 16-track soundtrack album.

Some interesting things appear on this album, some not readily available elsewhere. VU completists and other big fans certainly will want to add this 2-CD set to their collections. Most casual fans, though, would be well-served to just add it to your streaming library.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Album review: Yes' The Quest isn't worth the effort

The Quest, released Oct. 1 as the 22nd studio album carrying the Yes name, isn't the worst album in the band's catalog. You won't have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find it, but you'll have to dig pretty deeply.

This one was put together in pieces and parts during the pandemic era, with some band members and guest musicians recording their tracks separately in different parts of the globe. Longtime Yes guitarist Steve Howe coordinated this project and is credited as the album's producer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

'Disappearer' helped build Sonic Youth's commercial profile

"Disappearer," the song delivered to me Tuesday by my Pandora blogging challenge, was released in 1990 as a single from Sonic Youth's sixth album, Goo. But I'm going to go with it as a deep cut in the band's catalog, as I have found no evidence that the single ever charted anywhere.

I can't even find a clue that Sonic Youth performed the song live very often, at least not enough that anyone has been able to dig up a video. All I could find on YouTube was an MTV-style music video.

Doing the Pandora Shuffle, 9th edition

"OK, Google. Shuffle my Pandora."

"I'd Love to Change the World," Ten Years After (A Space in Time, 1971):
Alvin Lee picked up an acoustic guitar, the band slowed down the pace and Ten Years After finally had a hit. "I'd Love to Change the World," from the band's sixth album, hit No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- the only time Ten Years After has cracked the Top 40. The band probably is most famous for their scorching performance of "I'm Going Home" at Woodstock in 1969. They were on a pretty good run on the album charts leading up to A Space in Time. Ssssh hit No. 20 on the Billboard 200 in 1969, Cricklewood Green No. 14 and Watt No. 21 in 1970. A Space in Time hit No. 17. But that was pretty much it for Ten Years After as a marketable recording outfit. They're still around. Lee died in 2013, but keyboard player Chick Churchill and drummer Ric Lee have kept the band working, primarily as a live attraction, through the decades. I listened to Ssssh and Watt as well as the 1968 live album Undead a lot as a kid. But I lost interest when A Space in Time came around and have paid scant attention since.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

'I've Seen All Good People' -- many, many times

A sure sign you're a geezer: You wake up one day and realize it's the 50th anniversary of something that happened just a few years ago. That's happening to me a lot lately.

My latest such revelation happened yesterday while I was doing some quick reading about The Yes Album and its signature track, "I've Seen All Good People." We are months past the golden anniversary of the February 1971 release of The Yes Album. But when I say, "It really hasn't been 50 years, has it?" I can truthfully say it really hasn't, for me. That's because it's only been about 49 orbits since I first laid ears on it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle: 8th edition

Hi, all. Good to see everyone again. I know, it's been awhile. Took a little time off from writing for this blog to recharge a little bit. Have been kicking around some ideas for some future writing projects, and I'm ready to dive back in.

I'll get restarted with a baby step, with this eighth edition of my Pandora live-blogging. But this time I want to raise the stakes a little bit. As I have been doing, I'll start my semi-randomized Pandora shuffle feed and write a little something about the first five songs that turn up.

But then, I'll take a day or two to write a more in-depth piece about the sixth one -- I'll write something about the song itself, perhaps the artist, perhaps the album the song is from, something a little meatier than what I normally do with the five songs. Let's see where it takes us.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 7th edition

"OK, Google. Shuffle my Pandora."

"Red Rain," Peter Gabriel (So, 1986):
The lead track on Gabriel's breakthrough album was released in the US as a fairly successful followup single to "Sledgehammer." I remember "Red Rain" being featured in an episode of "Miami Vice" and getting a lot of airplay on FM radio. It's never been among my favorite Peter Gabriel tracks -- it's too heavy on gloomy synth-and-drums atmospherics for my tastes. I've never really understood what the song is all about. I get this apocalyptic sense of blood drops falling from the sky. "Red Rain" aside, I have had a love-hate relationship with So since the day it was released. I was a Peter Gabriel megafan for more than a decade when So landed, but it fell flat for me. It was far too conventional to satisfy my appetite for new Peter Gabriel material. I understand So much better in hindsight than I did then, and I find it brilliant. But it was such a drastic pivot both artistically and commercially that it took me a long, long time to get over the shock.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Notes from the weird side of rock and roll

A compendium of the unusual, and sometimes downright bizarre, from the world of rock and roll:

'Gimme Shelter’ cost the life of her unborn child: 
Four months pregnant when she added her piercing vocals to “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones, singer Merry Clayton blames the stress of the recording session for her subsequent miscarriage.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Renaissance: Out of the chaos rose sublime beauty

Ca. 1974: Tout, Haslam, Sullivan, Camp, Dunford

Keith Relf and Jim McCarty formed Renaissance in 1969 as a way to wrap their folk and classical influences into the bluesy rock they had been playing for several years with The Yardbirds. It was a noble experiment, one that did blaze a trail, eventually, for the progressive music that poured out of Western Europe in the following decade.

But Renaissance nearly disintegrated into dust by the time the band's second album, Illusion, was dumped on an uninterested German market in 1971. All five band members wearied of the grind of touring and recording, and they all went their separate ways. McCarty instituted a revolving-door policy to keep the Renaissance name alive while he retreated home to focus on his songwriting. Manager Miles Copeland stepped in to put finishing touches on the revamped lineup, and Renaissance was reborn.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 6th edition

"OK, Google. Shuffle my Pandora."

"Trip to the Fair," Renaissance (Scheherazade and Other Stories, 1975).
This is the 10-plus-minute opener on Renaissance's sixth studio album, the fourth with the Annie Haslam-fronted classic lineup. It's exactly what you would expect to hear from this band by this point -- heavy on John Tout's classically influenced piano and Jon Camp's melodic Rickenbacker bass and centered around Haslam's remarkably versatile, crystal-clear voice. This tune was written by Tout, acoustic guitarist Micheal Dunford and lyricist Betty Thatcher. Wikipedia says the song was written about Haslam's first date with Roy Wood, formerly of The Move and Electric Light Orchestra who was Haslam's boyfriend at the time. Renaissance had a nice three-album run culminating with this one in which every track is pure gold. "Trip to the Fair" is no exception.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A deep dive into Lou Reed's catalog: The stinkers

2011: Reed as frontman for Metallica

Of the 22 studio albums Lou Reed released in his four-decade career as a solo artist, four of them I rate as absolute stinkers -- albums I feel have no value whatsoever to a serious listener. These records might be worth your time if you're the curious type and have a burning desire to hear anything if just once. But if you hope to find some kind of treasure in your exploration, you're probably not going to find anything worthwhile in this basket.

On first glance, four out of 22 might seem like a lot. By the numbers, that would mean that I am telling you that nearly one of every five Lou Reed albums is complete garbage -- a fairly high whiff rate by the numbers. But there is a caveat: Three of these four were the last three albums of his life, recorded long after his well ran dry of artistic inspiration. So factoring that into the equation, that leaves only one stinker out of 19, a pretty good track record if you ask me.

Monday, May 24, 2021

When old met new and music bridged a generation gap

Many decades ago, 1975 to be exact, some friends and I took an impromptu road trip to Mountain View, AR, to attend the annual Ozark Folk Festival, a trip that showed that music truly has charms to soothe a savage breast.

Friday, May 14, 2021

A backdoor memorialization of Keith Relf

1969: Keith Relf, Hawken, Jane Relf seated; Dreja, McCarty standing

I was cruising the Internet this morning, landed on one of those This Week in Music sites, and found something interesting: Today is the 45th anniversary of the death of Yardbirds lead singer Keith Relf, who was electrocuted at home playing an improperly grounded electric guitar.

This story, new to me, is another entry on the mental list I have been keeping since Geezer Bob and I had a discussion a few weeks ago about rock musicians who have died under unusual circumstances. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

A deep dive into Lou Reed's catalog: The filler material

1983: Back-cover photo for Legendary Hearts

They can't all be gems, right? Thus far, we've gone through the real meat of Lou Reed's catalog of 22 studio albums, past the halfway mark into what I consider his 13 best.

Today, we're going to look at the five I consider lightweight, filler material. These albums are the back end of the bullpen, the taxi squad, the roster fillers. They're good enough to step up in an pinch, capable of delivering now and then when the regulars need a break. But they aren't the sort you want to turn to on a daily basis.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Woody Guthrie sang about my family

Armed with little more than his acoustic guitar, upon which he famously wrote, “This Machine Kills Fascists,” Woody Guthrie traversed this nation singing his Dust Bowl ballads, proclaiming the struggles and the dignity of working people, giving a voice to the voiceless as they suffered through the Great Depression and the killing fields of World War II.

In telling the story of a nation he also told the story of my family.

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 5th edition

"OK, Google: Shuffle my Pandora."

"Crimson and Clover," Tommy James & The Shondells (Crimson & Clover/Cellophane Symphony, 1991):
Oh, yeah, one of those early hard-rock favorites that opened my mind for exploration beyond your typical Top 40 fare. I cannot express how much I loved this song in my early high-school years. Pandora is serving me the 5:32 version from the 1991 CD packaging of the band's 1968 and 1969 albums. To explain this one, let me start at the beginning: The single "Crimson and Clover," clocking in at 3:23, was released in November 1968 and quickly became the biggest of The Shondells' string of big hits. A month later, the band released the album Crimson & Clover, which featured a 5:25 version of the centerpiece song. This version essentially was the single with a long guitar solo by Ed Gray edited into the middle of the track. But that piece was inadvertently sped up slightly during the mastering process, and the 1968 album went out that way. Engineers corrected the mistake digitally for the 1991 package, resulting in the 5:32 version of the song, billed as the way the song originally was intended to be heard. It sounds as great as ever.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A deep dive into Lou Reed's catalog: The solid middle ground

1992: The Magic and Loss tour

I told you earlier about the albums I consider the four essential, must-listen Lou Reed albums, and I told you about four more Reed LPs I think are great but don't quite reach the Mount Rushmore level.

Now, here are five Lou Reed albums that fill that middle ground, the ones I rank 9-13 in his catalog of 22 studio albums. These are the records that are held in high regard by fans but are going to be hit-and-miss for casual fans and the uninitiated. None of these albums are great, certainly none of them are bad. Most any listener will find a few favorite tracks here. Depending on your tastes, you may very well find a favorite Lou Reed album among these.

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Doors found magic in their powerful final album

For The Doors, the release of the album L.A. Woman 50 years ago, on April 19, 1971, would be a rebirth of their musical power and, sadly, at the same time, their swan song.

A scant three months after the album’s debut, the last studio album for the quartet, Jim Morrison -- poet, rock evangelist and shaman -- would be dead in a bathtub in his Paris apartment, ending the group’s four-year run as one of rock’s most prestigious chroniclers of life’s mysteries, pathos, chaos and transcendent beauty.

Friday, April 16, 2021

What we listened to in the strange days of 2020

“Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They're going to destroy
Our casual joys”
― The Doors

It never got weird enough for me.”
― Hunter S. Thompson

The year 2020 was filled with strange days indeed, no doubt the strangest I have seen in my six decades on this planet.

Roxy Music: Where to begin, exactly?

1973: Thompson, Mackay, Ferry, Manzanera, bassist John Porter, Eno

Geezer Bob and I have been discussing debut albums over at Geezerology on YouTube, and I cited the first Roxy Music LP, released in 1972, as one that was particularly innovative and impactful. The band's brand of experimental rock and alien sense of style reverberated for years through the British pop scene.

That was all news to Bob, who had never had any exposure to Roxy beyond their racy album covers and their hit single "Love is the Drug" that broke them through in the States later in the decade. During our discussion, Bob expressed an interest in looking into Roxy. After we finished recording Sunday, I shared with him a YouTube video from that era of Roxy performing "Re-Make/Re-Model," the chaotic, rocking opening track of the debut. Bob said he really appreciated the band's "serious rock chops" though he was turned off a bit by Brian Eno's "weird noise."

Monday, April 12, 2021

A deep dive into Lou Reed's catalog: The best of the rest

1980: Lou and Sylvia on their wedding day

I wrote earlier about the four studio albums I consider the most important of the 22 Lou Reed released in his solo career. I called them essential albums, those that must be heard by anyone who wants to explore Reed's post-Velvet Underground career.

Next up are four albums I want to call the Best of the Rest. Precisely, these are my favorite Lou Reed albums that I do not consider essential listening. If you have listened to the four essentials and want to dive further into Reed's catalog, these are the four that will confirm or deny your compatibility with the man and his music.

Friday, April 9, 2021

A homoerotic ode to Ringo Starr?


The first single released by Cher, hailed as the "Goddess of Pop" at the pinnacle of her career, was a miserable flop, reportedly because radio DJs thought she was a male crooning a homoerotic love song to Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

A rock-and-roll apostasy and sacrilege

We have to turn the minds of our young people away from the satanic and twisted allure of rock music, thundered the young minister. Sorry, Rev, but too late for me. I went down that rabbit hole years ago. And I’m never coming back.

It was a Sunday night in 1987 as I listened to the fledgling Jerry Falwell wannabe, there to audition for a position as the church’s youth minister, trying to whip up the congregation through his attack on secular music. But this is the Missouri Ozarks, so condemning the evils of rock music is picking low-hanging fruit. Show some courage, young rev, and go after country music with its predominant themes of honky tonks, drinking, adultery and Friday-night fights.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 4th edition

"OK, Google, shuffle my Pandora."

"The Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll," Mott the Hoople (The Hoople, 1974):
A jumping rock-and-roll burner that sounds exactly like what the title suggests -- Jerry Lee Lewis imported into 1970s glam. The opening track on Mott's seventh studio album, it's dense with three saxophones, Ian Hunter's piano and lead vocals, and backing vocals by sister team Sue and Sunny. Hunter left Mott after this album and did a lot of this kind of stuff in his solo career. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A deep dive into Lou Reed's catalog: The essential albums

1973: In Paris during the Transformer tour

Lou Reed released 22 studio albums in his 40-year solo career. Some of them were great, some were awful, most fell somewhere in between, depending on who's leading the discussion. But one of those albums in particular must be at the center of any serious consideration of Reed's place in the history of rock music.

The discussion doesn't end there, but it always will begin at Transformer. That 1972 album, Reed's second after a failure of a debut earlier in the year, dropped a nuclear bomb on the music culture. Tranformer and the hit single it spawned, "Walk on the Wild Side," became instant cultural classics. That's obvious.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Reliving the past with The Baseball Project

2014: McCaughey (cap), Mills, Pitmon, Buck, Wynn

Major League Baseball's Opening Day is Thursday, and I am sad to report that I'm not feeling much excitement about it this time around. What with pandemics and universal designated hitters and free extra-inning baserunners and expanded playoffs and whatnot, all I have left for this sport are memories about how much fun it used to be. I'm a purist, I admit it. The game's history and its overarching storyline have captivated me for decades. But no more. It's like the pandemic and Rob Manfred and a new media age have conspired to push a reset button and everything is starting over from scratch, and I have no interest in starting anew with it.

Thankfully, though, the memories and the game's history do hold on. And for you folks who like me love what has gone before, let me introduce you to this indie-rock group of baseball superfans who celebrate the grand old sport in song. They call themselves The Baseball Project.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 3rd edition

"OK, Google. Shuffle my Pandora."

"Ice of Phoenix," Audiomachine (Phenomena, 2014):
As far as I know, this is the first time I've encountered this band. It's an ambient instrumental track dominated by synthesizer and orchestra arrangements, not particularly interesting. A quick look at Wikipedia says Audiomachine is a production company headed by two guys who make music mostly for film soundtracks. They've been around since 2005 and have been releasing commercially available albums since 2012. Next.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A deep dive into Lou Reed's catalog: A preview

2011: Reed in Kent, England, in one of his last performances

Anyone who knew me in the last quarter of the 20th century knew well that I had two real passions -- St. Louis Cardinals baseball and Lou Reed. For a few reasons, I drifted far away from the Cardinals in the mid-1990s. But I did stick around with Lou for a few more years, until I realized in the mid-2000s that he had stopped rocking and become laser-focused on legacy building.

Cannabalism, adultery and murder: The dark side of Nantucket Sleighride


An ode to 19th-century whaling hardly seems a topic for a 1970s hard-rock band, but Mountain made it work with their 1971 song “Nantucket Sleighride.”

The title song to the group’s second album was created by Felix Pappalardi, the band’s bass player/producer, and his wife, Gail Collins. Pappalardi came up with the idea for the song while he and Collins, who penned the lyrics, were on Nantucket Island off Massachusetts. Now a tourist mecca and summer playground for the wealthy, in the first half of the 19th century, Nantucket was at the heart of the New England whaling industry.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 2nd edition

It's 11:20 a.m. Let's see what Pandora has in store for us. "OK, Google, shuffle my Pandora."

"Big Time," Peter Gabriel (So, 1986): Gabriel's second big hit single, after "Sledgehammer." "Big Time" reached No. 8 on the Billboard Top 100. The video employed the same stop-motion claymation that we saw in the "Sledgehammer" video. Subsequently, many folks see this as a followup to "Sledgehammer," but "Big Time" actually was written and recorded earlier. "Big Time" is where bassist Tony Levin's "funk fingers" style originated. Drummer Jerry Marotta used a drumstick to pound Levin's strings with his sticks in time with Levin's playing, creating that heavy bottom in the song. Levin loved the sound and began taping pieces of drumsticks to his fingers to play bass in concert.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A case of mistaken rock-star identity

The latest entry in the Things That I Did Not Know Until Now list:

Last night I watched a movie on Hulu titled Stardust that purports to tell the story of David Bowie’s attempt to find stardom in America in 1971 following the release of his album The Man Who Sold The World. The movie ends with Bowie finding success as he transforms into the Ziggy Stardust character.

The film begins with a disclaimer that “What follows is (mostly) fiction” so I settled back expecting to be entertained, not enlightened.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

A classic riff and an old friend

Raise your hand if Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar riff on Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” inspired you to play guitar -- or to at least try. Or maybe the four-note blues scale melody launched you into a gyrating, sizzling, melt-your-face air-guitar solo.
Yeah, I thought there would be a sea of hands. 
Those of you who didn’t raise your hands are just too cowardly to admit it.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 1st edition

Pandora, the grandaddy of music streaming services, has a pretty cool feature for its paid subscribers.

You know how Pandora works. It calls itself a music recommendation service, though in reality it doesn't recommend as much as it drops stuff take-it-or-leave-it. More precisely, I would call it an algorithmic automatic service.

If you're a paid subscriber, specifically a Pandora Plus customer, you have tweaking control of your library of stations -- which you can listen to for hours ad-free. But what I find invaluable, and the only way I use Pandora any more, is the option to shuffle your stations. With that, Pandora delivers its automatic, on-the-fly queue through random polling of your entire library.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Waits' wild years: Tom finds musical adventure under every rock

There was a time quite awhile ago when I listened to Tom Waits' post-1970s albums constantly. For a few years in the mid-2000s, I commuted for work about 40 miles each way four times a week. And most of the time, one of those CDs was spinning at a volume a little higher than might have been healthy. The fairly current ones in heavy rotation at the time were Alice, Blood Money and Real Gone -- with Mule Variations and Bone Machine finding their way in every now and again.

But that was a long time ago. It had been several years since I listened to any of those albums straight through. So before I wrote this piece with the intention of ranking these albums, I decided to run through all of them consecutively -- both to refresh my memory and to analyze them with perspective. And I am truly shocked at how well every damn one of these things (except one) holds up. I found that ranking these albums was damn near impossible. We're talking about 10 albums, and it's no exaggeration to say that nine of these things are 4.5-star albums or better. There's not a hair's-width of difference between my favorite and the ones that land fifth, sixth and seventh. Wow, that was tough. And I'm still not happy to have to rate a couple or three of these things so low, but I don't have a clue what to drop down to slot them any higher.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Tom Waits: The only thing real is the music (the Asylum years)

With longtime friend and frequent collaborator Bette Midler

The Tom Waits story is a difficult one for anybody to tell. We don't know much at all about who the guy is as a person because he guards his privacy like it's gold.

In the half-century since Waits emerged from the fertile Southern California music scene with his unique style of jazzy folk, he has rarely done interviews with reporters, never with any biographer. He is well-known for pleading with friends and family to zip it up whenever a potential biographer comes calling. He's never, as far as I know, granted an interview with anyone as musician/actor/writer Tom Waits -- it's always been as offbeat, alternative-reality "Tom Waits." 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

My wayback machine wish list

The Doors refining their craft on stage at the London Fog in LA

Among my collection of T-shirts is one with a message that asserts, “I may be old but at least I got to see all the cool bands.”

Well, not really. There were a lot of really cool bands and musicians that I missed out on back in the day, a veritable slew of if-onlys.

So, if I had a time machine and could make one trip back to the past, who would I see? Interesting question. I’ll let you know in a minute or two.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Happy birthday, Lou. I still miss you.

2013: A few days before Lou said goodbye

Happy birthday, Lou. Today would have been your 79th had the self-abuses of your early adulthood not caught up to you before your 72nd. But hey, a half-century ago, who among us actually expected you to see your 40th? So all in all, I guess the sobriety and health regimen that drove the last three-plus decades of your life did get you pretty far, didn't it?

Anyway, just thought I'd check in to let you know you're not forgotten. I'm not listening to your music much these days, mostly since your rock-and-roll output stopped around the turn of the century as you turned to legacy-building and your vanity projects.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

50 years late to the VU Loaded party

Half a century down the road, I just “discovered” the music of The Velvet Underground.

My journey of discovery and redemption was sparked by a challenge from my blog partner and five-decades-long friend, Scott, a VU and Lou Reed fan long before our first meeting back in the mid-1970s. Scott and I were college roommates who continued our cohabitation as we began our post-graduation journalism careers at the same newspaper. (I was a legitimate news reporter; he wrote about sports. But that’s a discussion for another time).

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Robert Smith dives into the ugliness of his depression to paint his masterpiece

Way back in the first season of South Park, young Kyle Broflovski goes all fanboy on Robert Smith Of The Cure after our hero, having transformed himself into Mothra Robert Smith, vanquished a marauding Mecha Barbra Streisand, saving Kyle's hometown from certain annihilation.

"Goodbye, Robert Smith," Kyle yells as the town's savior walks off into the sunset in that South Park way of gliding around. And then, Kyle just couldn't help himself. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for a little boy: "Disintegration is the best album ever!" the boy exclaims. "Robert Smith kicks ass!"

Thursday, February 25, 2021

With the Velvets, it's all about first impressions

1967: Morrison, Reed, Cale, Tucker

It only took about 45 years, but it finally happened. My old roommate Geezer Bob listened to a Velvet Underground album for the first time in his life, and he got blown away.

Bob has known from the first time we met sometime around 1976 that I was a dedicated Lou Reed fanboy. But he never paid much attention, never heard anything from Reed either solo or with the Velvets that captured his interest. I did get Bob to go with me to a theater in Kansas City to see a mulleted and newly bespectacled Reed touring his 1989 LP, New York. Bob was a good sport about it, but as I recall, he wasn't impressed.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Another country-music morality tale

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. If you want to be doubly humiliated, hitch your plans for the future to a faithless woman.

That morality-tale fate is achingly articulated in country-music singer-songwriter Hunter Thomas Mounce’s latest single, “What She Forgot,” which premieres Feb. 24 on streaming services. To pre-save the song, click here.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Viva Voce: A delicate balance that got a little heavy

Viva Voce was a husband-wife duo from Muscle Shoals, AL, who relocated to Portland, OR, to get a foothold in the active indie scene there. They made a pretty good name for themselves, releasing several full-length albums and becoming stars on the festival circuit in the mid- to late 2000s. I first heard them in the early 2010s on a podcast hosted by a guy who worked for the NPR affiliate in Portland. (I can't remember the guy's name, and now I can't find any trace of that podcast, which ran for a few years.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Bloodrock: Here and gone like a comet in the sky

1972: Cobb, Hill, Taylor in front; Pickens, Rutledge, Grundy in back

Have you ever seen a shooting star? Look at that picture at the top of this page. That's a photo of a shooting star.

Bloodrock appeared in early 1970 with a debut album that became iconic among hard-rocking high-school kids. They issued three more successful albums and had a Top 40 single by the end of the following year. And then, just like that, by summer 1972, poof, Bloodrock was gone, kaput, vanished, retreated back to the obscurity from whence they came.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Keeping it clean in the era of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll


“You should write one about Gunhill Road’s ‘Back when My Hair Was Short’ with all the drug references.”

Interesting suggestion, I thought, though I didn’t recall drug references in the 1973 one-hit-wonder song.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Some things about 'D.O.A.' just can't be explained

1970: Grundy, Pickens, Hill in back; Taylor, Rutledge, Cobb in front

Kind of a funny thing happened the other day when I was preparing to write a piece about the weird song that made Bloodrock a one-hit wonder.

I had my Pandora shuffle station going for awhile when "D.O.A." suddenly appeared. It was the first time in awhile that I had heard that song, and it got me to reminiscing. Bloodrock when I was in high school a half-century ago had become the one band not called The Doors that I most obsessed over. These guys from Forth Worth, TX, knocked out four really good hard-rock albums in 1970 and 1971, and I got down with them a lot on the air guitar I had secretly stashed in my bedroom.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Geezerology on YouTube: Rough and Rowdy Ways

It happens to everyone, I suppose. Bob and I on Sunday had our first major disagreement on the Geezerology YouTube channel.

Each of us gave our first listens last week to Bob Dylan's 2020 album, Rough and Rowdy Ways. He didn't like it, found it boring. I loved it, thought it was an inspired piece of work.

Listen to our debate, and let us know where you land on this one.

Next week, we're going to talk about Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Please subscribe to our channel and get notified whenever our videos go live.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Geezerology on YouTube: Highway 61 Revisited

Here's the third video, recorded Jan. 31, on our YouTube channel. Bob and I talk about Bob Dylan's 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited. Neither of us are fans of it, and we tell you why. Bob really dislikes it, while my reaction is more a shoulder shrug.

Have a listen, and tell us what you think. 

Coming up: Bob and I plan to talk about Dylan's 2020 release, Rough and Rowdy Ways. Both of us are listening to it this week for the first time and will talk about our first impressions.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Geezerology on YouTube: Strange Days

Bob and I discussed our slightly differing opinions of Strange Days, the second album by The Doors, for the second video of our YouTube channel, recorded Jan. 24. Bob likes the album considerably more than I do.

We agree that producer Paul Rothschild's studio experimentations don't work very well. Our biggest disagreement was over the 11-minute closer, "When the Music's Over."

Please check it out. Please visit our channel and subscribe. We would love for you to contribute to the discussion through the comments section at the bottom of this page or on the channel. 

My final word on Genesis: Completing my album rankings

1977: Rutherford, Collins, Banks, Hackett

One more piece before I put Genesis to bed.

I spent a bit of bandwidth discussing the band's Peter Gabriel years and ranking the albums from that period. But Gabriel's departure was not the end of my time with Genesis. I did remain a fan for a little while longer, through their first two post-Gabriel albums, with Phil Collins as the lead singer and continuing with guitarist Steve Hackett on board. I fell off the Genesis train, though, with their first post-Hackett album, when the band became the three-piece that took the 1980s pop charts by storm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Geezerology on YouTube: A discussion of The Doors' debut

We two geezers decided a few weeks ago to test-drive a YouTube channel. We've done one video each of the past three Sundays, and we were happy enough with the results that we've made all three videos public and decided that we're going to make it a regular thing.

Our first video, recorded Jan. 17 as a test run, was a discussion on The Doors' debut album. Bob and I both have known that album pretty well for a few decades, so we thought it was a good place to start. We basically winged it, got about a 25-minute discussion out of it, and both of us were thrilled with the first effort. It was technically a little rough, but we put together a fairly substantive discussion.

Monday, February 1, 2021

The song heard 'round the world


Don McLean’s “American Pie,” an eight-minute paean to the cultural and musical history of America in the 1950s and ‘60s, has intersected with my life twice, first as a teenager and later as an adult half a world away from my Southeast Missouri home town.

The song is part of the music that makes up the interactive, spiritual road map of my life, chronicling where I have been, what I did and felt at that particular moment and the incredible people who interacted with me on the journey.