Wednesday, January 27, 2021

All of a sudden, I got obsessed with this song

I had landed on a decent radio station in the rental car I was driving around Detroit in December 2006 when I heard a KT Tunstall song for the first time. About the third time I heard "Suddenly I See," I realized that this little gem with the shuffling Bo Diddley beat was yelling at me to learn more.

I thought it probably was some local rock band with this ballsy female singer emerging from the still-vibrant Detroit scene. I was surprised when I found out it was the solo work of this Scottish woman whose debut album had been around for quite awhile. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Ranking the early Genesis albums

2014 documentary interview: Gabriel, Hackett, Rutherford, Collins, Banks

Genesis released six studio albums in 5 1/2 years with original lead singer Peter Gabriel. It is remarkably easy to delineate this band's growth in that period just by listening to those records in consecutive order. They get their feet wet with From Genesis to Revelation. They plant their flag with Trespass. They fill in the missing pieces with Nursery Cryme. They hit their stride with Foxtrot. They polish their sound to create a classic with Selling England by the Pound. And they shake their audience to its core with the epic The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

Most of these albums I've known by heart for decades. I've spent a bit of time over the past couple or three weeks listening to and studying the first two so as to give an honest evaluation of them in context.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A nice visit with old friend Daniel Lanois

So I had one of those "Oh, he's still around?" moments the other day when I noticed that Marc Maron had dropped an interview with Daniel Lanois as the latest episode of his WTF podcast.

If you're not familiar with the name, the 69-year-old Lanois was THE trend-setting record producer back in mid-1980s and into the '90s. He helmed dozens of landmark albums for high-profile acts such as U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Brian Eno, Emmylou Harris, Sinead O'Connor, Willie Nelson. Lanois' lush, moody style was the defining sound of that period.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Gilligan's Island and Led Zeppelin

It is a circuitous route, but there is a link between the 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island and the British heavy-metal behemoth Led Zeppelin.

The connecting points are American singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon and Led Zep guitarist Jimmy Page via Gilligan’s Island actress Dawn Wells.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Genesis: An era comes to an end

1974: Rutherford, Hackett, Collins, Banks, Gabriel

The cover of Genesis' fourth album, Foxtrot, gave Peter Gabriel an idea for spicing up the band's stage show (Genesis: The classic lineup settles in). A booking agent for Charisma Records suggested to Gabriel that the band should have someone in a red dress and fox's head in the street in front of their concert venues to draw attention. But Gabriel took it a step further. His wife had a red dress that looked like the one on the album cover, and he found a big furry fox head in a costume shop.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The singing fireman and Music Row

During idle moments at the firehouse, as I listened to Hunter Mounce strum his acoustic guitar and sing in that true-as-the-soil country voice, I only half-joked that someday country superstar Kenny Chesney would be Hunter’s opening act.

The pandemic has effectively shut down live music for Chesney and nearly everyone else. But the “no shirt, no shoes, no problem” guy should not rest on his laurels. When things return to “normal” -- whatever the hell that’s going to look like -- Chesney will feel Hunter breathing down his neck.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Porter and Dolly and my hometown


The circumstances of my birth are exceedingly humble, indeed.

I was born in a hill-country farmhouse near the village of Naylor, MO, a town so small that the signposts saying entering and leaving are back-to-back. Attending at my birth was a country doctor who still made house calls.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Genesis: The classic lineup settles in

1971: Collins, Rutherford, Tony Banks, Gabriel, Hackett

Genesis nearly disbanded in summer 1970. They had just finished recording their second album, Trespass, and were about to hit the road for another tour of their native England when guitarist Anthony Phillips quit. (Genesis: In the beginning)

The three other founders discussed calling it a day. But in the end, they decided to regroup and give this band thing another shot before going their own adult ways. They fired their third drummer, John Mayhew, and the group of 20-year-olds gathered at Peter Gabriel's parents' house to audition candidates. Gabriel says they knew 19-year-old Phil Collins was their guy the second he sat down at the drumkit. Collins came with the added benefits of being a burgeoning songwriter with a smooth singing voice that perfectly complemented Gabriel's raw delivery.

Monday, January 11, 2021

From cannabalism to pina coladas

Cannibalism made The Buoys a one-hit wonder '70s pop band.

And the creator of this macabre piece of Top 40 flotsam went on to pen a hit song so saccharine that dentists across the nation worshipped him for the tooth-decay business it generated.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Genesis: In the beginning

Portrait of a teen-age band: Phillips, Rutherford, Banks, Gabriel, Stewart

One of the more shocking realizations I've had recently is that it's been close to a half-century since Peter Gabriel recorded an album with Genesis -- I've been listening to those records fairly regularly going on 50 years. As I recall, there has never been a long gap since my first encounter in late 1974 when I haven't listened to any of those albums.

The last one, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, was my entry into this catalog. I caught up to the six previous albums (five studio, one live) in something less than a year, as I recall. Most all of them have been in rotation on all my devices ever since.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

This Siren pulled me in

One of my favorite pastimes back in the day was to spend an hour or two wandering around a record store randomly studying album covers and reading the song titles and credits. As a result, I knew a bit about some artists even though I'd never heard a note on any of their albums.

I had known of Roxy Music for several years. Those album covers were so fascinating -- not in a young man's centerfold-ogling kind of way. But they always made me wonder what the heck could be on those discs inside those odd covers with the offbeat high-fashion models.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Genya Ravan: An urban treasure

I was a little familiar with the name Genya Ravan back in 1978. I remembered her as the lead singer on a record by Ten Wheel Drive I had heard sometime earlier in the decade. More recently, she turned up doing background vocals on Lou Reed's excellent 1978 album, Street Hassle.

The first I knew Urban Desire existed, I saw it in a record store and noticed in the credits a guest vocal appearance by Reed. That was enough convincing for me to take it home for a spin.