Classic Rock Review

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Steve Winwood Back in the High Life (1986)

From ultimateclassicrock.com

Classic rock is about heavy hooks, power chords and tight harmonies. But it’s also about letting loose and enjoying the good times. And there’s no better time for that than Friday evening, when we pick up our paycheck, punch out of work and enjoy a couple days of much-needed rest and relaxation.

One of the messed-up things about those good times is that we often don’t appreciate how special they are until they’re gone — something that tends to weigh on us more as we get older, and we begin to understand just how fleeting everything is and how quickly time passes, no matter how we might try to slow it down. Ironically, many of us spend our youth wishing things would speed up, trying to wave away whatever’s in front of us so we can hurry on to the next in a seemingly limitless series of adventures.

It happens to all of us, and there’s no getting around it, so there’s no point in being maudlin about it — something Steve Winwood understood well in 1985 and ’86, when he was putting together the tracks for what would become his fourth solo album, ‘Back in the High Life.’ Although he was only 38 at the time, Winwood was nearing a quarter century as a professional musician, and his career had already been through plenty of ups and downs. More than most, he knew that they were cyclical, and when things are low, you just have to wait for them to pick up again.

Even though he had no way of knowing it at the time, ‘High Life’ was positioning Winwood for one of the biggest high points of his career and a Grammy-winning comeback that returned him to the charts in a big way after a relatively fallow period following the middling success of 1982’s ‘Talking Back to the Night’ album. Like on its predecessor, 1980’s much more popular ‘Arc of a Diver,’ Winwood performed most of the instruments himself on ‘Night,’ recording at his home studio — a setup that, while certainly convenient, eventually proved a bit stifling and led to a major change in location, from the U.K. to New York.

“I went to New York simply to get the juices flowing again,” he recalled later. “I was in danger of becoming arty in isolation and really missed playing with other musicians. I was spending all my time reading computer manuals and tapping on keyboards rather than getting out and entertaining, which is my job.”

To that end, ‘High Life’ features a slew of musicians, from session ringers like Jimmy Bralower and John Robinson to famous names like Joe Walsh, James Taylor and Chaka Khan. The resulting production, while definitely slick enough for mid-’80s radio playlists, was more expansive and varied than Winwood’s recent solo efforts. Case in point: the title track, which employed a chiming mandolin in the lead and rested on a droning accordion in the background — one of the only times either instrument would appear in the Top 40 during the decade.

But ‘Back in the High Life Again’ almost didn’t make the record. As Winwood’s co-writer, Will Jennings, later told Songfacts, “I called one day and talked to Russ Titelman, who was producing the album. They were doing it in New York. I asked him how it was going, and he said, ‘Oh it’s going great.’ He said ‘Higher Love’ came out great and ‘The Finer Things.’ I asked him how ‘Back in the High Life’ would come out. There was this little pause, and he said, ‘Steve hasn’t shown me that song.'”

According to Jennings, he’d originally left the lyrics with Winwood during a writing session in 1984, but for whatever reason, Winwood had never gotten around to putting together music for them. As it turned out, fate was simply waiting to intervene. “At that time, [Winwood] was going through a divorce,” Jennings explained. “And because of the divorce, his wife got everything in the house, this big house in England. So he came up from London and went out to this house — which he still lives in and he had for years before he was married — and everything was gone, except there was a mandolin over in the corner of the living room. It was winter and it was dreary. He went over and picked up the mandolin, and he already had the words in his head. And that’s when he wrote the melody.”

That melody would go on to anchor a Top 20 hit for Winwood — one of four from the album, which sparked a revival in his solo career that continued into the ’90s. And although his brand of cleanly produced blue-eyed soul would quickly become synonymous with beer commercials and adult-contemporary radio, the emotions that fueled ‘Back in the High Life Again’ remain as resonant as ever. (Check out Warren Zevon’s stripped-down cover for proof.)

“‘Back in the High Life’ was not written to predict what I would be doing but because of what I actually was doing,” Winwood later mused. “I knew that ‘Back in the High Life’ was going to be my last album on my contract, and I had thought for a long time about going into production and stuff. I finally decided, ‘No, I might as well pursue my career as a solo artist and put everything into it.’ I guess I probably had never put everything into it, because I’d always felt that I was above being an entertainer.”

So if you’re in need of a little high life as this weekend approaches, never fear; like Steve Winwood says in the song, we’ll all get back there eventually. But you don’t need to wait to hear that plaintive mandolin — just scroll up to the video above, hit play, turn up the volume and let the weekend start … now.

May 19, 2022 Posted by | Steve Winwood Back in the High Life | | 2 Comments

Neil Young Official Bootleg Series: ‘Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 1971;  Royce Hall, 1971; Citizen Kane Jr. Blues ’74’

It’s no small irony Neil Young has commenced a vault project he calls the ‘Official Bootleg Series.’ After all, this is the man captured on video years ago, confronting a record store owner/operator for selling unauthorized sets of his recordings. But the Canadian rock icon is a man given to contradicting himself with (seemingly) nary a second thought,  dating back to his comings and going to and from the ranks of Buffalo Springfield and, more recently, up to and including the inauguration and continuation of this archive endeavor. 

Young initiated the vault releases with Carnegie Hall 1970, a virtual duplication of the previous standalone title, 2021’s Young Shakespeare. That itself is a virtual mirror image of 2007’s Live at Massey Hall and Neil now has issued two more similar concert pieces, along with another of arguably greater distinction, all on CD & digital with vinyl to follow at a later date.

Royce Hall, 1971 is a solo acoustic gig, recorded in January of that year on the UCLA campus, while Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 1971 is a similarly executed performance, with Young on vocals, guitar, piano and harmonica, on the last US show of his solo tour. While these first two may seem redundant in the wake of the aforementioned prior releases, they are also a testament to the consistently high level of Young’s performances (not to mention a sunny state of mind, then and now, to which he alludes in the abbreviated liner notes to Chandler). 

A readily discernible uniformity prevails in the song selections, standard inclusions of which appear in the form of “The Needle and the Damage Done,” “Ohio” and “See the Sky About to Rain.” The running order does change between 1/30/71 and 2/1/71, while on the latter date, “Down by the River” appears in addition to “Cowgirl In the Sand,” another cull from 1969’s initial opus with Crazy Horse. Both those numbers have more often than not functioned as improvisational warhorses in an electric setting, so it’s noteworthy how effectively Young gets them to work by himself in this acoustic context: his deceptively fragile voice lends an ominous air to these particular interpretations.

Paradoxically, those music lovers most loyal to this idiosyncratic artist are the ones most likely to at once desire to keep their collections complete, but also find the ’71 titles an overkill of sorts. There is no question, however, that those same aficionados are also those most likely to be objective and open to the relative virtues of Citizen Kane Jr. Blues 1974. Live at The Bottom Line in New York City is nothing so much as a quick peek above the rim of the fabled ditch to which Young referred to around this time in speaking of Tonight’s The Night and Time Fades Away, plus On The Beach, from whence comes a clutch of tunes within these eleven tracks.

According to Neil’s notes on the back cover, this just shy of fifty-five-minute performance was recorded on a table-top cassette device from the audience. Opening with what may be an ode to his collaboration with those three high-profile friends of his, “Pushed It Over the End” is a somewhat languorous but ominous tune that foreshadows the inclusion of four numbers from the aforementioned (at the time) yet-to-be-released album from later that year (not coincidentally, issued around the time of his stadium tour with CSN). In what is now a readily-recognizable exercise in Young’s customary predilection for confounding expectation(s), that title song, “Ambulance Blues,” Revolution Blues,” and “Motion Pictures” appear interspersed with decidedly more accessible, easygoing material.

Still, “Long May You Run” was also unreleased at the time of this concert, as was “Pardon My Heart,” which would only show up on the next year’s effort with Crazy Horse, Zuma. “Helpless.” is a far more familiar cull, coming from CSNY’s Deja Vu, while “Dance Dance Dance,” included just months before on the eponymous debut album of The Horse, appears as the decidedly upbeat closer; a regular setlist placement of this period, it comes complete with the author’s affable intro and serves as an appropriate coup de grace for this surprise appearance. 

Young makes it sound easy to mix material from various stages of his career, yet in the most practical terms, it’s as courageous as it is ambitious to proffer so many unknown compositions to an unsuspecting audience. That doesn’t, however, deny the fact those in attendance reside in the very demographic to which the Canadian rock icon is no doubt aiming (as is the case, by extension, with ‘Official Bootleg Series’). Those present in the small room do sound graciously forgiving, though, even in hearing a short, angst-ridden rendition of “Greensleeves”

On the back cover of this single compact disc sleeve, Neil also relates he made this impromptu decision to play the late-night set in May of 1974 following a Ry Cooder show he attended. And while the replication of what’s presumably the same graphic design for CD as vinyl LP is an understandable cost-effective decision, that copy is difficult to discern as much for the color scheme as the font size, a flaw that begs the question of why that content wasn’t added to the flip-side of the one-sheet insert inside the sleeve hawking ‘The Neil Young Archives: ‘ is greater print duplication a potentially greater financial liability than the heavily-touted means to insure impeccable sound quality for this release and its two companion pieces?  

Apart from the wayward package design—and, for some listeners, hearing the repartee before  “Roll Another Number (For The Road)” as simultaneously unctuous and condescending– Citizen Kane Jr. Blues is a prime example of the kind of unorthodox creativity that’s made this man such a fascinating and (mostly) revered figure for over fifty years now. Hopefully, it garners a commercial response sufficient to warrant more rather than less unusual such releases and thus render the ‘Official Bootleg Series’ as iconoclastic as Neil Young himself. 

May 19, 2022 Posted by | Neil Young Citizen Kane Jr. Blues, Neil Young Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 1971, Neil Young Royce Hall 1971 | | 1 Comment

Pink Floyd Live at Knebworth 1990 (2021)

From brutallyhonestrockalbumreviews.wordpress.com

There are a couple of things that really bugged me about Pink Floyd’s latest release, Live at Knebworth 1990.  Firstly, versions of all of these songs recorded around the same time were released on Delicate Sound of Thunder already except “The Great Gig in the Sky”, and even that was on the 2019 re-release of the album.  Given that Floyd were never ones for mixing things up from night to night, how different could the versions on Live at Knebworth 1990 be? (Spoiler alert – more than I expected, actually).  So I was already thinking this release was fairly superfluous.  But I’m also a little peeved that when the Later Years box set came out back in 2019, all of the CDs from the set were on the hi-res version except the Knebworth CD, which was obviously held back for this release.  The “let’s hold something back so we can charge people who want it additional moolah in the future” trick record companies are always pulling really sets me off.  Money grubbing parasites.  So I was already a little grumpy about it before I even heard this release.

Of course, the versions in Live at Knebworth 1990 aren’t exact clones of the versions of DSoT, but are they close enough to be worth parting with any hard-earned $$$ for?   To be honest, I expected Live at Knebworth to be wholly unnecessary if you have DSoT, especially if you have the 2019 re-release.I thought that you’d have to be a super-mega-hard-core-bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive Pink Floyd fan to really need this.  I thought it was mostly a release for those who really really, really feel like they need every second of music Pink Floyd ever released.  Was I right?  Well, let me spell out the differences between these versions and the ones on DSoT for you and you can make up your own mind.

For a couple of these songs, if there are any differences, I can’t hear them.  “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” sounds fantastic, obviously – I’ve always preferred David Gilmour’s vocals on the latter-day Floyd live albums to Roger Water’s studio original.  Those four mournful guitar notes near the beginning of the song  are played far more mournfully than was the case on the original version. Dave’s guitar playing is as reliably sharp and melodic as ever.  Don’t get me wrong, this is an outstanding version of this song.  And in a blind taste test, I’d never be able to tell this one from the one on DSoT (with one extremely unfortunate exception we will talk about in a minute).  Same with “Wish You Were Here”- it’s a suitably marvelous version to be sure – and completely indistinguishable from the one on DSoT.  Same goes for “Sorrow”, one of the better songs from the album they were touring at the time, A Momentary Lapse of Reason.  It’s a marked improvement over the studio version – the intro is far more resonant, and the outro is far more effective than the fade-out on the studio version.  It’s a simply smashing version – and for all I can tell is identical to the simply smashing version on DSoT.   So that’s almost half the album right there, people – if you already own these songs on Delicate Sound, you don’t need ‘em on Live at Knebworth 1990.

Some songs have differences that are definitely not an improvement.  I’ve noted before that with precious few exceptions saxophones ought to be banned from all rock music, and actually several Pink Floyd songs are among those precious few exceptions (“Us and Them” is the best example, but “Shine On” as well).   On Delicate Sound I thought Scott Page’s sax was even more annoying than saxophones usually are, and he played with a swagger as though he thought Pink Floyd were lucky to be on stage with him.  But then the sax player on Live at Knebworth, Candy Dulfer, was evidently determined to out-Scott-Page Scott Page, and upped the obnoxiousness quotient even more than her predecessor.  She plays along with the riff from the outset of “Money”, a most unwelcome addition to the arrangement, and then bloviates horrendiferously on the sax solo.  She does the same on “Shine On”, which is the only way you’d know the difference between the version on Delicate Sound and this one.  When a saxophonist makes me long for Scott Page, you know you’ve reached a seventh-circle-of-Hell level of saxophone awfulness.  I have no doubt she is a skilled musician – but certainly not a tasteful one.  It does not matter how skilled a musician is at producing notes when they lack the judgment to apply that skill judiciously, and Ms. Dulfer flings saxophone notes about helter skelter with no concern for whether they fit well with the song.  On the original version Dick Parry demonstrated quite compelling how a tasteful sax part could enhance “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” – Candy Dulfer instead engages in indiscriminate musical vandalism. In spite of the brilliance of the rest of the musicians, especially David Gilmour, I’m afraid I have to take a point off for musicianship. Nice going Candy.

Other differences are in fact major improvements from the DSoT versions of these songs. “The Great Gig in the Sky” does bring something special to the table, the return of Clare Torrey, whose vocal acrobatics on the studio version are most of what made the song so special in the first place.  Geez, it took three vocalists to do the song on latter-day Floyd live versions, and Roger Waters uses two, but in the original Ms. Torry did it all by her lonesome, and it was spine-tingling.  She acquits herself well on the version on Live at Knebworth 1990, and while it is not quite as jaw-dropping as the original owing to a few sections where she gets a tad repetitive, for my money she still sounds phenomenal.  Unfortunately, if you’ve ever watched the video she didn’t fare so well through the rest of the concert.  For some reason she opted to stay on stage and sing backup with the regular backup singers, who had choreographed dance moves during the songs, and while Clare Torry may have been a powerhouse hurricane-level vocalist, a dancer she was not.  There is a considerable amount of second hand embarrassment to be had watching her attempt to dance next to the smooth, graceful movements of the other singers.  <<Cringe>>.  But for her moment in the spotlight during “Great Gig”, she really shines.

But you know, for all of my grousing, there are actually a couple of songs that almost – almost – justify the purchase of this album even if you already have DSoT.  I’m not sure what got into David Gilmour, but about halfway through the set his playing developed an energy – nay, a ferocity even – quite usual for the generally cool and professional Gilmour.  If you can push past the abominationable saxophone solo – keep in mind God gave us fast forward buttons for a reason – you will hear the most fiery guitar solo on “Money” of all of the many versions I’ve ever heard.  Too bad it’s mired in a swamp of saxophone awfulness.  “Comfortably Numb” is a fairly standard version for most of the song, with a run of the mill mind-blowing solo after that first chorus – Gilmour has never failed to play it with his customary brilliance.  But when he cuts loose soloing after the last chorus, his playing is a marvel to behold. The finest guitar solo outro for “Comfortably Numb” I have ever heard, and I’ve never heard a bad version.

But Gilmour is at his boldest and most forceful on “Run Like Hell” – I went back and listened to the version on DSoT to be sure, and there is no question, Gimour’s energetic vocals and blazing guitar kick the song up another level.  The song fairly explodes out of your speakers at the finale, and I have to confess the DSoT version, great as it is, isn’t in the same league.  

So is Live at Knebworth superfluous for someone who has Delicate Sound of Thunder?  Well, truthfully, it is for a couple of songs.  “Wish You Were Here” and “Sorrow” differ not at all, and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” differs only in the somehow-even-more-obnoxious-than-Scott-Page saxophone.  That same saxophone tragically mars a versions of “Money” that otherwise has an exceptionally powerful David Gilmour solo.  But if you respect Gilmour’s playing as much as I do, you really need to hear his guitar solos on “Money”, “Comfortably Numb”, and “Run Like Hell”, which also boasts a remarkably powerful Gilmour vocal.

Indeed , while I am surprised to say it, an unusually powerful performance by Gilmour makes this release worth your time in spite of the redundancies with Delicate Sound of Thunder.  And I must confess, after actually hearing Live at Knebworth 1990, I actually feel considerably less grumpy about it.

April 28, 2022 Posted by | Pink Floyd Live at Knebworth 1990 | | Leave a comment

Roger Daltrey – Daltrey (1973)

The Who’s lead singer, Roger Daltrey, never intended to record outside the group, or have any kind of solo career. The appearance of the 10-song Daltrey LP in April 1973 was the result of serendipity and a little casual work. “I was only doing a favor to help a friend of mine, Adam Faith,” he told the journalist Charles Charlesworth in 1997. “I never felt comfortable outside The Who…if I was out there singing but not with The Who, I had to make sure I was singing stuff The Who would never, ever do.”

Faith (real name Terence Wright), a ’60s British teen idol and hitmaker who’d turned to managing careers and producing, brought the singer-songwriter team of Leo Sayer and David Courtney (real name David Cohen) to Daltrey’s home studio, set up in a barn on his property in East Sussex, to do some song demos. Who’s Next had been released in 1971, but Daltrey’s band was now off the road while Pete Townshend developed Quadrophenia. Daltrey, who “had bugger all to do” with no Who project, engineered the Sayer session in October 1972, and was impressed by the songs from these unknowns. Surprised that Faith had been unable to secure them a record label contract for such “fucking brilliant” material, Daltrey casually said, “We’ve got six demos. What about if you give me three or four songs and I’ll record them?” He figured he might open some doors for Sayer, who was the singer in the writing duo.

A month or two later, 10 songs were written, assembled and demonstrated on a piano in The Barn. “We had the album finished in three weeks…with the orchestra [overdubbed in London] and everything,” Daltrey told Charlesworth. “And it was out in March. It’s still the best solo album I ever made. It was fresh and completely unpretentious. We didn’t even have time to tune the piano!”

Courtney played that piano, Daltrey a bit of acoustic guitar, Dave Wintour was on bass, and two members of Argent, guitarist Russ Ballard and drummer Bob Henrit, filled out the band. There were a few overdubbed instrumental parts, including B.J. Cole’s steel guitar, Dave Arbus’ violin and guitar by Jimmy Page on a track eventually relegated to a B-side, “There is Love.” Del Newman, who had worked with Cat Stevens, Elton John, Rod Stewart and many others, did the string arrangements, and Courtney and Faith were listed as producers on the finished product.

In April 1973 Roger performed his current top 10 hit single “Giving It All Away” on the BBC’s Top of the Pops television show. But in the U.S. the single barely scraped into Billboard’s Hot 100. Despite the huge popularity of The Who in America, Daltrey’s solo success had created a rift between The Who’s managers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert (who also ran the band’s U.K. label Track) and Daltrey. They were worried The Who might split, or become a hybrid act in the mold of Rod Stewart and Faces. Some believe they quietly did what they could to scuttle Daltrey at MCA, the label that released it and The Who’s albums in America. It peaked at #45.

Before long, Stamp and Lambert were out and Track employee and tour maven Bill Curbishley moved into Who/Daltrey management, naming his company Trinifold. (At the age of 80, he’s still their manager in 2022.)

At a svelte 38 minutes in length, Daltrey wastes nothing. It leads with “One Man Band,” which was also Leo Sayer’s debut single when he finally released his own recording in mid-1974. Daltrey’s vocal is characteristically authoritative: As with The Who, he’s as much an actor as singer, inhabiting every lyric. The story of a street musician is reprised at the end of the album, giving the album a circular structure. The whole album’s lyrics revolve around an overall concept—the underappreciated, struggling musician—well-suited to Daltrey’s emotive powers.

“The Way of the World,” one of two songs written by Faith and Courtney without Sayer, features some good double-tracked vocal effects, Daltrey reaching into his high register as he does in Who songs like “Bargain.” The arrangement is simple but powerful, the block piano chords reminiscent of Procol Harum’s “The Devil Came From Kansas.” Daltrey sings, “You live for yourself and you think you’re a star/But nobody knows who you are/You’re living a life that puts you alone/But you know that’s the way of the world.” Dave Arbus, who’d been a key player in the British band East of Eden and played the fiery violin solo at the end of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” lays down some beautiful lines when he enters after about a minute, and Ballard’s guitar solo is sharp and melodic.

“You Are Yourself” benefits mightily from the string orchestra. Daltrey’s vocal is loose and conversational: “The world is full of lonely people/And lonely people often dream.” There’s some especially dramatic drumming, and Courtney’s upright piano is pithy. During the last minute, Daltrey’s voice goes into an echo chamber while the strings swirl around him.

Daltrey’s acoustic guitar leads off “Thinking,” with Cole’s steel guitar entering not long after (his solo at the two-minute mark is spectacular). The overall performance is fine, but the song itself is one of the weakest on the album. (When released as a single it sank without a trace.) The other Faith-Courtney co-write, “You and Me,” closes the LP side. Daltrey sings so quietly and calmly it doesn’t even sound like him at first. There are only eight short lines of lyric before Del Newman’s strings take over, cellos laying the groundwork and violins soaring above. It’s unlike anything else in Daltrey’s catalog, a haunting, crystalline miniature.

“It’s a Hard Life” continues the theme of loneliness and failure on Daltrey’s second side: “nobody understands you/they leave you hanging around/you waste all your days.” Daltrey really opens up his voice for “It’s a hard life/up on the road” at the climax, recalling the power of his Who’s Next work.

The strings segue the track into “Giving It All Away,” which has a fantastic coil-and-release arrangement and is the most Townshend-like of the Sayer-Courtney compositions. Daltrey, with Henrit’s tympani-like drums and the string orchestra as main accompaniment, turns it into an epic tale of regret and sorrow.

“The Story So Far” starts with a lovely McCartney-ish melody, and moves into a pleasantly rollicking reggae beat, with Wintour’s bass prominent. Courtney steps aside as Ballard lays down a showy, cleverly old-timey piano solo. The Roy Young Band takes on the instrumental lead role for the last minute, the only appearance of brass on the LP. Young himself had been recording since the ’50s, played with Cliff Richard, toured with the Beatles, and was right-hand-man in Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, who’d scored a U.K. hit with the Paul McCartney-produced version of “Got to Get You Into My Life.”

“The Story So Far” is a wonderful change of pace for the album, and sets up the soulful “Reasons,” which follows. The arrangement is faultless, utilizing organ/piano coloration and biting guitar stabs. Daltrey pulls out his whole bag of tricks: sudden falsetto leaps, gritty screams, smoothing and roughening his voice at will. It builds to a big, dramatic climax. As a coda, a “busking on the street” version of “One Man Band” fades in, the sounds of traffic competing with Daltrey’s comic scat vocal. It appears the street-singer hasn’t given up, despite his complaints and heartache.

The soft-focus, innocent-looking backlit image of Daltrey on the LP cover was taken by his cousin Graham Hughes. In April 1974 Daltrey began filming as the lead in Ken Russell’s Tommy with that same half-blank, half-beatific look in his eyes. By the mid-’70s, Sayer was having bigger pop hits than his benefactor, including “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” “When I Need You” and “Long Tall Glasses.” Courtney co-produced Faith’s 1974 album I Survive and released his own solo album that same year, but didn’t issue any other recordings until 2005.

Roger Daltrey continued to issue solo and collaborative albums, the latest being 2018’s As Long As I Have You. He also, of course, maintains his extraordinary 56-year commitment to Pete Townshend and The Who. He published an autobiography, Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story, in 2018. He remains the beloved microphone-swinging, big-voiced Cockney front man: “The Who are my band. They always have been.”

April 28, 2022 Posted by | Roger Daltry Daltry | | Leave a comment

Pink Floyd Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988) expanded (2020)

From somethingelsereviews.com

Pink Floyd continues to release reissue projects from different periods of the group’s past. An upgrade of the original Delicate Sound of Thunder serves as a follow-up to 2019’s The Later Years box, as the double live album from 1988 returns in several formats – including a three-album vinyl set, a two-CD edition, Blu-ray and DVD formats, as well as a four-disc box that includes two CDs, a DVD and a Blu-ray.

The DVD and Blu-ray in the four-disc box features five additional performances more than the 16, not previously available on the Later Years box, or standalone DVD, or Blu-ray. Along with the four-disc box, the vinyl set is what most Pink Floyd fans will want to have – even if they have the Later Years box, as it only included two seven-inch vinyl singles.

The vinyl edition of Delicate Sound of Thunder features nine additional performances not included on the original double album. This 23-track count is the same as the new double-CD set. Additionally, the three-album set is packaged in a slip case, includes a 24-page booklet and the albums are housed in poly-lined sleeves in individual album jackets. The albums are pressed on 180-gram vinyl and the tracks were remixed from the original master tapes.

Pink Floyd’s performances were taken from five August 1988 shows at the Nassau Coliseum in New York, on the heels of the release of 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason – their first album after the departure of Roger Waters. The core group of David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright was joined by Jon Carin, Tim Renwick, Guy Pratt, Gary Wallis and Scott Page, with Margret Taylor, Rachel Fury and Durga McBroom on backing vocals.

Delicate Sound of Thunder kicks off with “Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5” and then for the rest of the first album and Side A of the second album, there are 10 songs from Momentary Lapse of Reason. After the only song that dates to Pink Floyd’s early career, “One of These Days” from Meddle, the rest of the set features music from Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, and then one more song from A Momentary Lapse of Reason. There are no songs from Animals or The Final Cut.

Not only are there additional performances included on this reissue, but several tracks – “Sorrow,” “On the Turning Away,” “Comfortably Numb,” “Dogs of War,” “Another Brick in the Wall, (Part Two),” “Us and Them,” “Run Like Hell” and “Time” – feature unedited versions available now for the first time on vinyl. Occasional editing has been done to remove an ’80s-era musical gloss that sometimes marred the original performances, notably on “Money” and “Learning to Fly.”

Hearing these tracks in their remixed and in some cases dramatically changed ways, straight through on all three vinyl discs, is about the best official live album Pink Floyd audio experience – outside of the rare Pulse four-LP analog vinyl set.

Delicate Sound of Thunder is, in fact, one of only three official stand-alone live Pink Floyd albums. Pulse was released in 1995 as a four-LP or two-CD set from the tour to support The Division Bell, another post-Roger Waters project. The third is Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81, released on CD in 2000. Prior to that, one disc of the 1969 double-album Ummagumma contained live material.

Neither Is There Anybody Out There? nor Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii – originally issued in 1972 on film with a subsequent releases on DVD in 2000 and on compact disc in 2016 as part of The Early Years box – has been reissued on vinyl. Pink Floyd fans, I’m sure, would love to have all of this concert material on their turntables in the future.

There is also a wide assortment of live material from many periods in Pink Floyd’s career to draw from on the Early Years and Later Years sets that would make for excellent vinyl releases. Who knows what else lurks in the vast Pink Floyd archives? Releasing the new mix of A Momentary Lapse of Reason would be the most obvious next vinyl project that fans would love to see.

April 28, 2022 Posted by | Pink Floyd Delicate Sound of Thunder | | Leave a comment

Rod Stewart & The Faces Real Good Time (1975)

From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA – March 7th, 1975

(46:14):  (I Know) I’m Losing You, Bring It On Home To Me, Fly In The Ointment, Every Picture Tells A Story, Stay With Me, Motherless Child, Gasoline Alley, Maggie May, Twisting The Night Away

The date listed on this show is from Detroit, 1974, yet i have been informed it is actually from san bernadino,ca  3-7-1975 originally a KBHS  show.

Anyway; this has to be the finest performance I’ve heard the Faces play.

The band is in tip top form tight and highly energized.

Ronnie Wood’s guitar playing is the best I’ve ever heard him; making me a bit more appreciative of his talents.

The show begins with  I Know I’m Losing You with Rod Stewart in fine form the band in perfect time behind him Ian McLagen spilling out sweet rolls from his keyboard and Woody’s laid back smooth rhythm guitar. Following is Bring It On Home To Me a superb rendition of the old Sam Cooke track.

Next is my favourite of this show Sweet Little Rock ’n’ Roller, the old Chuck Berry track with a superb Ian McLagan piano boogie along with Woody’s excellent guitar playing with Kenny Jones and  Tetsu Yamauchi providing a hot rhythm section; showing how tight the band is on this night. Moving right along through Fly in the Ointment and Every Picture Tells A Story with splendid balance and the notes getting hotter and hotter. Stay With Me follows with Ian’s bogie piano and  Ronnie’s guitar meshing with Rod in a  splendid way. I  can visualize the girls dancing rather intensely to this great track!

Motherless Child follows; the blind Willie Johnson track performed by Eric Clapton and others through the years. Ronnie Wood is absolutely on fire here; a wicked slide performance (in my opinion the best I’ve heard Woody play) having seen Woody play many times over the years this sticks as the smoothest I’ve ever heard him. This track reminds me of sitting in a juke joint in Mississippi hearing Son  House play. Woody and Ian open Gasoline Alley with a wonderful version of Gasoline Alley, Rod in  great form, soulful and  the band swinging; then Ronnie goes back into his slide performance; smooth as a wet hummingbird; delicate, yet powerful and suddenly the band rips into Stay With Me Ian opening with some hot piano  Tetsu providing some deep bass runs with Ronnie’s rhythm and Kenny’s backbeat.

Maggie May follows with a boogie opening with Rod singing as if his life depended on it. Perfect rhythmic flow here, quite different from the studio version (Every Picture Tells A Story). This show ends with  Rod asking the audience for applause for Foghat “A Magnificent Band” then says thank you, good night we’ll see ya and goes into Twistin’ The Night Away, another Sam Cooke tune with the band spot on, perfect flow with Ronnie on slide and Ian’s piano picking up the tempo faster and faster the band on fire to close this show! If you are a faces fan or just a music lover this one is a MUST  have. Great sound along with a stellar performance for the ages!!

Get this one if you can as it is a brilliant show!

April 16, 2022 Posted by | Rod Stewart & The Faces Real Good Time | , | Leave a comment

Paul Kossoff NME interview 1975 – The Way Out, The Way In

From NME Feb 15 1975

No, Paul Kossoff didn`t win any of our 1975 pollawards, though he must have taken more than a passing interest in the fortunes of his former associates in Bad Company. In fact, about all he`s done in the past two years is lie low, struggling with a drug habit of terrifying proportions. Here he tells Steve Clarke how he climbed…

Out Of The Wishing Well

Throw down your guns, you might shoot yourself
Or is that what you`re trying to do
Put up a fight you believe to be right
And someday the sun will shine through

You`ve always been a good friend of mine
But you`re always saying farewell
And the only time when you`re satisfied
Is with your feet in the wishing well

Paul Rodgers wrote these lyrics some time in 1972 with Paul Kossoff in mind, the guitarist with whom he`d spent the last four years of his professional life in Free. “Wishing Well” gave Free their last singles hit and pinpointed one of the reasons why Free had fallen apart – Kossoff`s drug problem.
Koss, as he`s affectionately known by those close to him, had had it in him to join the ranks of Great English Rock Guitarists (hopefully he still has). Hadn`t Clapton himself sought Kossoff`s advice on just how he achieved his unique tremelo sound, when as part of Blind Faith, who were topping the bill over Free on the latter`s first American tour in 1969, he`d seen Koss play in a New York club?
“They (Blind Faith) came to see us and we were dead nervous, what with them sitting twenty yards away. Afterwards Clapton came round and said, `How do you do that tremolo?` I looked at him and said, `You must be joking` cause that`s exactly how I felt – I thought he was taking the piss, but he wasn`t,” is the incident as Kossoff remembers it.

But instead of establishing himself as the kind of guitarist who everyone would want on their session, he became further and further embroiled with heavy drugs after the initial Free split in 1970, so that Paul Kossoff became, as one person involved with Island Records at the time said, something of a bad joke.
Kossoff`s performance on Free`s debut “Tons Of Sobs” album had made it clear that here was one of England`s most promising blues-based guitarists. THat was in 1968 and Kossoff was a mere 18. As Free developed it became apparent that Kossoff had a style all his own; intense screaming lead phrases, coupled with menacing power chords.
He looked pretty startling too, with a lion`s mane of hair falling half way down the back of his small stocky frame, while Kossoff`s stance was the kind rock dreams are made of; his right arm crashing mercilessly down on a helpless black Les Paul, his face a mess of contortions (“I don`t contort my face deliberately when I play, it would probably be hard not to do it”) as the notes howled their way out of the Marshall stacks.
Kossoff had an unlikely background for a rock musician being the son of actor David Kossoff, a man whose public life has always been spiced with a certain religious ambience. And when Koss landed up in court in autumn 1973 to face a charge for driving under the influence of drugs or drink, his father was there to speak up for his wayward son.

Koss remembers the bust, “They found various things on me – some tyranol (a sleeping tablet), and what I thought was a phial of cocaine, though it turned out to be something else that wasn`t a restricted drug, so I wasn`t charged for possession.”
Instead the guitarist was fined £200 on a driving charge, on condition that he took hospital treatment for his problem. If he`d refused it`s likely that a prison sentence would have been effected.
Koss spent three weeks in hospital, and by March 1974 he was “straight” again. His good health lasted some three months, then once more his life became dominated by dope.
“I didn`t start all the drug stuff when I was with Free – that came afterwards. I just came to a standstill and got swept up by something else. I went through just about everything in the last couple of years, and ended up mainlining for a short period which I stopped because that was it, the end,” Koss told me last week.

A few days earlier the guitarist had been gigging with another of Island`s musicians, John Martyn, at Bristol University and at London`s Victoria Palace where the gig was attended by Kossoff`s family. So glad was his father to see Paul on stage again that he`d sent his son a telegram.
Although only contributing to a couple of Martyn`s numbers, his decision to play once more in front of an audience is hopefully a turning point in Kossoff`s career, and he`ll continue gigging with Martyn for the remainder of the tour.
This time Koss has been straight a month, and although it`s simply not on to describe the guitarist, now 24, as freshfaced, he does look healthy, and bears little resemblance to the person I interviewed in 1973. Then Kossoff`s speech was little more than a whisper, his appearance tatty and his manner one that is most conveniently referred to as distant. Last week his eyes were bright, his conversation eloquent and punctuated by mischievous laughter. He`d just had his hair cut, and maybe it was just chance that his visit to the hair-dressers coincided with his first meeting with a journalist and photographer for a long time, but…

As he quickly points out, he`s been “straight” before, but goes on to say that it feels different this time, “Because I`ve started playing again. I`m happy, you know? I just feel happy. It seems that possibilities are opening up again in front of me, and I`m looking forward instead of back.”
Johnny Glover, the ex-Spencer Davies roadie who managed Free throughout their entire career, and who still manages Koss, agrees, “He`s got things he wants to do this time. Also he`s moving from his house off Portobello Road. People would just pour in there with dope, and basically he`s a weak character when it comes to dope.” Kossoff is spending his time between moving at Glover`s house.
Although Koss got into a few pills in his Golder`s Green mod days, it wasn`t until the first Free split that drugs began to play a major part in his life. Says Glover, “Simon and Koss didn`t want to break the band up, they would have been happy to play in Free forever. The split hit Paul worst of all – it took his life away.”
Kirke and Kossoff did in fact stay together to cut the “Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit” album while Rodgers and Fraser had their own shortlived bands, Peace and Toby respectively.

Kossoff himself doesn`t think his reasons for getting further and further into hard drugs are quite that simple: “I`ve been asking myself a long time, Why? I think it`s something to do with my make-up as a person for a start-off. Suddenly I wasn`t travelling about. Suddenly I wasn`t playing. All the natural highs that I was used to had somehow disappeared, and I was almost led by hand into it.”
Elaborating on the possible reasons he says, “Escapism…to heighten things…masochism even – certainly main-lining is that. I don`t think I was attracted in the first place anyway – obviously I was given some and it snowballed.
“Once into drugs you get into fairly morbid trains of thought – morbid interest in death and dead people, stuff like that. It`s quite horrific at times. I got into all that with Hendrix. Also the feeling of being in slight danger was like a romance. It`s very strange…I started to identify with Hendrix for instance. I spent more time listening and dreaming than playing.
“See, it was an escape from playing as well, cause that`s a big responsibility in itself. You have to prove yourself. I didn`t want to pick up a guitar. I felt wrong with it for a long time. It was very heavy on the head. I got it well out of proportion.”

Musically, Koss didn`t do a lot between the original Free split in 1970, and their reformation in `72, with the exception of the “Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit” album, and attempts to get his own solo album together (when “Back Street Crawler” eventually came out in `73 the work on it had been scattered over a couple of years), plus the odd session like those in Atlanta for Jim Capaldi`s first solo record “Oh How We Danced”.
After working on the sessions, Kossoff flew to Los Angeles for a holiday, and according to somebody who was around the guitarist at this time, was stopped nightly by cops on Sunset Boulevard for his somewhat erratic driving. The fifth or sixth night that this happened, the police arrested him. After spending the night in a Los Angeles jail, the charges of drunken driving were dropped on the condition that Kossoff would take the next flight from Atlanta back home.
Kossoff is reported to have been doing a lot of cocaine at the time, and it`s said that he got through a thousand dollars in just one day on nothing in particular.

But, as he acknowledges himself, his biggest problem was mandies, “I used to wake up in the morning and take three, and carry  on through the day,” he says, forcing the words out of his mouth very quickly, as though he`d rather not talk so explicitly about the problem.
“I remember falling on my stereo or something and cracking my head open. I was taking so many mandies that when I stopped taking them about five days later I`d have what was very similar to an epileptic fit, though it wasn`t. It was like a withdrawal, only suddenly, like that…” He snaps his fingers to demonstrate the suddeness of these attacks.
“I`d be on the floor – smash, smash, smash – terrible. That`s were I got that scar from,” he says pointing to his forehead. “I knocked two teeth out, and there`s another scar here,” he points to somewhere above his hair-line.
“It was ridiculous.”
When Free re-formed to record “Free at Last” in 1972, it was partly to rescue Kossoff who, in his own words, was still very shakey.
“I really didn`t want to do it. Or rather, I wanted to do it, but I really couldn`t take it. It was very unpleasant. There was a lot of pressure on me – Paul wanted to get me well and I believe he figured that if he got me up and playing that would do it. And there was pressure from Island. I didn`t stand a chance. I had to do it. They sort of dragged me out of my pit.”

Glover goes as far to say that “I conned him into coming back into the band, it was done almost to get Paul out of the drug thing. If we worked all the time we thought it would get it out of him.”
In terms of the actual quality of gigs the reformation was only a partial success. After several months Fraser quit, and Tetsu and Rabbit were brought into the band (it was Kossoff who later put The Faces onto Tetsu). The majority of a British tour had to be cancelled after Kossoff fell over and broke his foot during a sound-check at Newcastle City Hall, and at a gig at The Albert Hall, Koss broke a string and couldn`t retune his guitar. As Glover diplomatically puts it, “The playing wasn`t too great then.”
Of that period in Free, Kossoff says himself, “I got out of it a few times on stage, and I`ve fallen over and not been able to do gigs. I feel really crap about all that.”
Eventually it got to the stage where Free had to undertake a Japanese tour with Rodgers playing guitar himself, while Kossoff stayed at home. And for Free`s last ever gigs, supporting Traffic in early `73, Free took former Osibisa guitarist Wendell Richardson along to America.

Kossoff began to find it difficult to get other musicians to work with him. Glover; “He got himself a bad reputation and people didn`t want to play with him.”
Jess Roden, who sang and co-wrote one of the cuts on “Back Street Crawler” with Koss, agrees; “He has been a difficult person to know through the years. When we did the things for his album he was standing up and coherent, but he was still into a lot of naughty things. People haven`t been able to rely on him. I`ve always believed he was a magical guitar player but if he came in the studio falling down there`s not much you could do. I think if he jams around he`ll be able to settle down again. We`d like him to jam with us. I asked him to come down last night, but he didn`t have any transport.”
Kossoff himself is aware of his reputation as unreliable; “It`s another one of the things you want to escape from – the guilt -because I feel I`ve let all sorts of people down all over the place for a long period. It`s something that`s hard to get over as well.”

According to Glover, Kossoff and his father have been very close recently, and the latter has taken an active interest in his son`s problems, although, again according to Glover, David Kossoff wasn`t always aware of Paul`s problem.
There has been considerable financial help from father to son, as Koss had got to the stage where he`d sold eleven of his guitars to pay for dope, and was running out of money fast.
“Obviously he was getting very concerned about the whole situation,” says Kossoff of his father`s attitude to his involvement with dope. “He was getting desperate. He didn`t do what you think a lot of parents might do in the circumstances, he didn`t shut me out of his life. A lot of parents would close the doors on you. My parents didn`t do that. They were always willing to help in any way they could.”
A former employee of Island Records goes so far as to say that Paul wouldn`t be alive today if it wasn`t for his father, saying, “He`s lucky he had his old man around. His Dad came up and rescued the kid.”
During the past two years Kossoff`s performances have been limited to say the least, amounting to a couple of slightly bizarre gigs with the late Graham Bond, and one rehearsal with the abortive Frankie Miller/Andy Fraser band, which at the time also included drummer Mike Kelly.

He misses working in front of an audience a great deal, something which his recent work with John Martyn has really brought home to him. “There`s such a lot of difference between playing off-stage and on, because I always play to the people, always have. I`ve just realised that when I get up there they open me up, and in turn I try and open them up.”
After the John Martyn tour, Kossoff plans to work with an eight piece outfit calling themselves The Basing Street Band who are getting themselves together for a one-off university tour, and after that his own band.
“I`ve been known to say this a number of times,” he says, as though already envisaging the wave of cynicism that greets his periodic announcements that a new Kossoff band is imminent.
His feelings towards the whole Bad Company success story seem devoid of envy or bitterness; if he`s missed the boat then it`s his own fault, is his way of thinking on that situation. He does, however, think that Free were a much better band than Bad Company.

“They somehow have more appeal than Free ever had. Maybe it`s because they`re better handled. It comes across that way. It doesn`t bother me that Paul and Simon have had such a lot of success recently, I just hope they`re happy. I`d like to be playing with them and I will do again. I know that. We`re just that close.”
Does he see a lot of them then?
“No. But whenever we do meet there`s always sparks of some sort flying.”
Kossoff did in fact see Bad Company at The Rainbow before Christmas, which must have been quite a poignant moment for him. Was he impressed with what he saw?
“Yeah I was. I enjoyed it for what it was, though Mick Ralphs doesn`t knock me out.”
Why?
“I don`t know. He seems to…I don`t know how frank you want me to be.”
Very frank.
A long pause before…”Mick Ralphs has got all the notes and the technique. He doesn`t have much drive though. Mind you I`m very fussy. He`s taken a lot of things I used to play in fact, and made them sound a bit watery. That`s my opinion. It`s not big-headedness or anything like that.”
I know what he means. I hope he gets up and proves it though.

April 12, 2022 Posted by | Paul Kossoff NME interview 1975 - The Way Out, The Way In | | Leave a comment

Dire Straits When Dire Straits Stuck to the Formula With ‘Communique’ (1979)

From ultimateclassicrock.com

When Dire Straits stuck to the formula with Communique

In 1979, the U.S. Top 40 charts were dominated with disco. Chic, Donna Summer, Earth Wind and Fire, Rod Stewart and even “disco Kiss” saturated the airways.

Tucked into that list were Dire Straits, whose first single, “Sultans of Swing” went to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The back-to-basics rock song that culminates in a one-minute ride out featuring Mark Knopfler’s finger-picked lead guitar work was unlike anything on the pop charts at the time.

The single and the debut album earned Dire Straits critical praise and a large fan base – quite a feat for a band that had only gotten together a little more than a year before.

While “Sultans of Swing” was rocketing to the top of the charts in Australia and Germany, Warner Bros. wanted a quick follow-up to build on the success of the debut. Eight weeks after the release of Dire Straits, the band flew to the Bahamas to record their second album, Communique, which was released on June 15, 1979.

Produced by Muscle Shoals Sound Studio veterans Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett, Communique picked up where Dire Straits’ debut album left off. Mark Knoplfer described the album in an interview with Melody Maker‘s Richard Williams as “just another bunch of songs.” Pressed by Williams to speak about the differences between the first and second album, Knopfler just said, “It’s different. The bass and drums have been recorded differently, and the tracks are a bit more solid in that sense.”

Knopfler and the other members of Dire Straits have, from the beginning of their music career, been rather understated about expanding on the intricacies of their music. As the Associated Press’ Yardena Arar wrote in 1979, “Knopfler … [comes] across like his music: unpretentious, not given to excess and thoroughly appealing.”

That quality applied to bassist John Illsley as well. As he explained to Rolling Stone about the band’s success, “We’ve been very lucky. No, I don’t like that word. Let’s say fortunate.” However, band manager Ed Bicknell said it wasn’t about being fortunate. Rather, it was a matter of timing. “For two years, nothing was happening the U.K except punk and New Wave – the Sid Vicious’s of the world gibbering and gyrating and sticking needles in their bums. Americans resisted it. Suddenly, along comes this group that’s playing tunes again, a contemporary rock band that long time rock fans would want to see. There was a void. And they just plopped into it.”

Dire Straits never felt comfortable being the center of attention. Their focus was on the music, not the fame, the flash or the fashion of the times. Their onstage personas mirror their offstage personalities: casual, unassuming, and not all that interested in the success they achieved. Indeed, on the eve of their second album, Knopfler wasn’t “sitting around worrying whether it [Communique] will make as big a splash as the first effort,” as Arar wrote.

And so it went with Communique, now seen as the band’s sophomore slump. The album had a mixed response from critics. Hubert Bauch from the Montreal Gazette noted the similarities between the two records. “Communique is, in fact, almost a mirror image of Dire Straits, from the enigmatic painting on the jacket cover to the spacing of the cuts. ‘Once Upon a Time in the West,’ which leads off side one, distinctly echoes ‘Down to the Waterline.’ The same is true of ‘Lady Writer’ at the top of side two, a fast and nimble piece that matches ‘Sultans of Swing.'” Fred Crafts from the Eugene Register-Guard wondered if “there is anything more to this band than Mark Knopfler’s Bob Dylan imitation.”

While the album only had one single that charted in the U.S. (“Lady Writer” at No. 45), Communique still hit No. 11, and was No. 1 in Germany, New Zealand and Sweden. It peaked at No. 5 in the band’s home country, the U.K.

Communique does have similarities to the debut record, but part of that could be because Knopfler was under pressure to come up with new material so quickly. Still, despite the critic pointing out similarities between “Once Upon a Time in the West” and “Down to the Waterline,” the two songs are very different from one another: the former being a mid-tempo number with a bluesier underpinning, and the latter having more in common with “Sultans of Swing” and “Lady Writer.”

Certainly there are soundalikes, with Knopfler recycling slowed-down riffs from “Southbound Again” on the title track, and the finger-picking work on “Lady Writer” being a retread of “Sultans of Swing” reinforced the view that Communique was very much like a second disc of Dire Straits’ debut. However, the comparisons stop with songs like “Where Do You Think You’re Going?,” “Single Handed Sailor” and “Follow Me Home,” which demonstrate more accomplished lyric writing and musicianship.

One thing is clear: Both projects opened a number of musical doors for some members of the band. Knopfler and drummer Pick Withers played on Dylan’s Slow Train Coming and Knopfler played guitar on “Time Out of Mind” on Steely Dan’s Gaucho – an experience Knopfler said to Melody Maker, “wasn’t spontaneous and it wasn’t fun.”

Communique was also the last record David Knopfler was credited as playing on (he did play rhythm guitar on Making Movies but was not listed on the album’s credits), as the Knopfler brothers had the proverbial “creative differences” and parted ways. Despite the tumult surrounding the album and tour, Mark Knopfler’s experience on Communique taught him about record producing, and opened his own interests to film soundtrack work and producing other artists like Dylan and Aztec Camera.

The “other interests” for Mark Knopfler would certainly come to the fore in the ‘80s as the success of Dire Straits became a machine groaning under the weight of its own monstrosity. But even in 1979, Knopfler wasn’t very sanguine about the future of Dire Straits. Foreshadowing what was taxing to his own mettle, Knopfler said to Richard Williams, “I just see it more as touring and touring and touring getting to be a pain in the arse. It’s great to go out and play to people on tour, it’s marvelous. I really enjoy it. But you can’t help feeling it’s a bunch of bloody nonsense. You feel that maybe you could be spending your time better doing other things.”

By 1988, following the gargantuan success of Brothers in Arms, Knopfler said he needed a rest, and it was presumed Dire Straits were no more. With John Illsley releasing his second solo album, Glass in 1988 and then Mark Knopfler fronting the Notting Hillbillies in 1990, it seemed the band members had permanently moved on to other projects. Then, a year later, the band reformed and toured to promote their final studio album, On Every Street.

In 1995, without any fanfare and keeping with the personalities in the band, Dire Straits quietly broke up. Mark Knopfler started a successful solo career in 1996. John Illsley continued to be involved in music, but branched out into painting and is now an owner of a pub in England. Pick Withers, left the band after recording Dire Straits’ Love Over Gold to be a touring and session drummer. David Knopfler’s post-Dire Straits career included a number of solo albums and, like his brother, scoring music for film projects.

April 12, 2022 Posted by | Dire Straights Communique | | Leave a comment

Genesis Live (1973)

From progarchives.com

Review by ExittheLemming

If Arthur Brown was of a litigious bent, and not the splendidly self-effacing man we know and love, I am sure the legal profession would be rubbing their collective hands in anticipatory relish were Messrs Gabriel and Cooper sitting in the dock awaiting cross examination. I’ll wager also that Peter and Alice spend more on their lunch than would be deemed sufficient as an out of court settlement by any magistrate.

There is so much of Arthur’s work unacknowledged in Gabriel’s that the latter’s uncontested mantle as creator of ‘theatrical rock’ would only be permissible in a truly, deeply crazy world. But enough of this bristling indignation and onto the heart of the matter. I prefer the live versions of most of these songs as their studio equivalents suffered from a murky production that obscures much of the detail.

Watcher of the Skies’ – Superb anticipatory intro by Banks lush Mellotron which retreats to uncloak that famous distress signal of drunken morse code that permeates this song. Hackett’s mastery of the volume swell technique creates a scrumptious ‘sobbing’ guitar sound that is employed in mesmerizing fashion during the quieter section towards the end.

‘Get em Out By Friday’ – Has its roots closer to vaudeville than Nashville, and represents one of the very few credible attempts by anyone at a composition deserving of the status of ‘rock opera’ (Sit DOWN Mr Townshend at the back and please pay attention)

The music is incredibly well written and changes appropriately depending on which particular ‘personality’ is inhabited by Gabriel during his delivery of the ‘script.’ Basically there appears to be an unscrupulous real estate agent (is there any other kind?) aided and abetted by a sinister piece of hired muscle called ‘the Winkler’ plus a young couple recently moved into their first home. (Yep, guess who they rented it from?) Gabriel summons forth yet another voice for the ‘faceless corporation announcer’ during the song’s dramatic and very emotional conclusion.

As brilliantly as all this is done, there is something faintly nauseating about both a singer and his audience’s presumption that what is presented constitutes some sort of ‘high art.’ The personas Gabriel creates amount to no more than entertaining Dickensian fictions that reek of a naivete born of privilege and a huge slice of patronising arrogance.

‘The Return of the Giant Hogweed’ – Hooray, he’s back! (the Soviet shrub with attitude) One of the band’s greatest and most memorable songs and if the brilliant playing and compositional details aren’t enough to grab you, it is also just so wonderfully damn silly from start to finish. Only Genesis, that most quintessentially ‘English’ of progressive rock bands could write a song this blithely preposterous. If there is any greenfly at all on this magnificent bloom, it takes the form once again of Peter Gabriel’s insatiable need to convince all and sundry just what ‘incredibly weird’ and ‘smart’ might look like.

‘The Musical Box’ – Another highlight from their rich and varied treasure trove from the early 70’s which probably doesn’t warrant any further detailed analysis on these archives. Suffice to say, this is what a horror story written by Lewis Carroll might resemble. The climactic ‘Why don’t you touch me?’ refrain supported by those dripping tendril chords from Banks’ organ still sends a delicious tingle down the spine.

Tip: Best to avoid playing croquet on a stripey lawn with any females who have a nurse in close attendance.

‘The Knife’ – To give Gabriel due credit, he displays here some legitimate worldly cynicism and casts a disaffected but faithful eye over the empty promises and hollow rhetoric of political and revolutionary summonses to action. The music wisely eschews most of those cliched martial conceits so beloved of Prog and instead romps through a spritely and infectious organ groove underpinned by that lovely dirty clanking bass sound that Rutherford lent his signature.

You really can’t argue with the song selection for this 1973 Genesis live album as it contains five virtual no-brainers culled from the band’s most fertile period. That said, ‘Peter the Costume Changeling’ still manages to irritate sufficiently throughout this truncated live concert ‘snapshot’ to grant his troupe sight of another empty and unilluminating star.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Genesis Live | | Leave a comment

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Album Of The Week Club Review: Second Helping (1974)

From loudersound.com

The album that introduced Lynyrd Skynyrd’s three-guitar attack and provided many with their first sweet taste of Southern Rock…

Few bands have followed a great first album with an equally great second, but Lynyrd Skynyrd did.

Second Helping introduced the three-guitar attack that would become the band’s signature, with Ed King promoted from stand-in bassist. And King was co-author of the album’s three key tracks: the satirical heavy hitter Workin’ For MCA, the self-mythologising boogie Swamp Music, and the band’s biggest hit, Sweet Home Alabama.

Famously, the latter was Van Zant’s riposte to Neil Young’s civil rights protest song Southern Man. And although Van Zant’s defence of the south was bullish,Young later said, “I’m proud to have my name in a song like theirs.”

“Every song was brilliant, and the album was really diversified,” Winger and Whitesnake guitarist Reb Beach told us, talking about the albums that changed his life. “You’ve got honky-tonk stuff, rock stuff, funky grooves, and the guitar solos are insane. I didn’t know which guitarist was doing what, but it didn’t matter. Here was a big guitar band with a huge sound, doing stuff that was too complicated for me to even attempt to play.”

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. Join the group now.

Here’s what we learned about Second Helping!

Background

The oft-told, star-crossed saga of Lynyrd Skynyrd has been portrayed as the convergence of opportunity, preparedness, talent and luck. What were the chances of Dylan associate, Blues Project founder and producer extraordinaire Al Kooper walking into an Atlanta dive in the summer of 1972 and spotting this band?

Kooper had just persuaded MCA records to bankroll his Sounds Of The South label in an effort to compete with Phil Walden’s Capricorn Records (home of the Allman Brothers). He was bowled over by Skynyrd’s professionalism, arrangements, guitar work, and mostly by short and stocky lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, who showed up in a black T-shirt and droopy jeans.

In Kooper’s eyes, Lynyrd Skynyrd were his Allman Brothers – the jewel in the southern rock crown. Skynyrd transcended the southern rock genre with their swaggering, dangerous music that conjured the dark fury of betrayal, perfidy or just plain orneriness and hopelessness over the diminished prospects in the rural south.

But Skynyrd was always more influenced by second wave British invaders (Eric Clapton, Free, and the tough, garagey thud of the Stones, Kinks and Yardbirds) than the jazzy, free-falling improvisation of the Allmans. With their tales of beautiful losers, thwarted romance and dashed ambition, Skynyrd were a more menacing bunch. Peace, love and understanding never made it to Jacksonville. 

Van Zant’s lip would curl into a surly half moon as he spat out the lyrics to Working For MCA, a song he wrote for the Sound Of The South launch party held at Richard’s in Atlanta on Sunday July 29, 1973, where the band played in front of jaundiced record executives, radio programmers, disc jockeys, promoters, rock critics and T.Rex’s Marc Bolan, all of whom flew in on MCA’s tab.

What they said

“This group is frequently compared to the Allman Brothers but it lacks that band’s sophistication and professionalism. If a song doesn’t feel right to the Brothers, they work on it until it does; if it isn’t right to Lynyrd Skynyrd, they are more likely to crank up their amps and blast their way through the bottleneck.” (Rolling Stone)

“Great formula here. When it rocks, three guitarists and a keyboard player pile elementary riffs and feedback noises into dense combinations broken by preplanned solos, while at quieter moments the spare vocabulary of the best Southern folk music is evoked or just plain duplicated. And any suspicions that this substantial, tasteful band blew their best stuff on the first platter should fall in the wake of the first state song ever to make top ten, which will expose you to their infectious putdowns of rock businessmen, rock journalists, and heroin.” (Robert Christgau)

“Of course, the band had already developed their own musical voice, but it was enhanced considerably by Van Zant’s writing, which was at turns plainly poetic, surprisingly clever, and always revealing. Though Second Helping isn’t as hard a rock record as Pronounced, it’s the songs that make the record.” (AllMusic)

What you said

Maxwell Martello: From start to finish I think that this is a better album than the first one, BUT the peaks of the debut are unreachable (Simple Man, Tuesday’s Gone and Free Bird). Apart from the now obvious and FM ubiquitous Sweet Home Alabama, my personal favorites include the dirgy ballad I Need You (killer licks spread all over the song), the total Clapton worship of The Needle and the Spoon (courtesy of the late Allen Collins) and the savvy, ballsy, badass Working for MCA (check out Raging Slab’s version retitled as Working for RCA). In my book, another 10/10. God bless Ronnie and the boys.

Uli Hassinger: I’m a great Skynyrd fan and I love all of their albums. But the Pronounced album is way cooler than their follow-up. The best songs of this album are in fact the ballads Curtis Lowe and The Needle and the Spoon.

Tony Collins: My favourite album by my favourite band of all time. Never tire of listening to this. Includes some of there best ever songs. Swamp Music, Working for MCA, Needle and the Spoon and the best cover ever, Call me the Breeze.

StuPop Huepow: What an amazing album. Its got all the swagger of slide, honky tonk and blues, and you can boogie to it. And what a voice! This made me work harder on my guitar… who didn’t want to sound like these guys? 

Jim Linning: Genuine classic. Has worn remarkably well, and raises the bar way above where any of today’s so called “southern boogie” bands could hope to reach.

Richard Cardenas: It defines an era, represents a unique quality of musicianship, etc. etc… but it’s much more than that. It’s southern music that connects with the souls of people from all walks of life. Too often – and sometimes rightfully so – the south is identified with some horrific qualities. The music here represents all that is good in life.

John Edgar: Being from the Southern United States, this album put down deep roots in my musical psyche, long ago. It’s a collection of some of the finest Southern Rock ever recorded, but for me, it also defines a specific time in my life. This album, along with Nuthin’ Fancy were both soundtracks to that period in which one moves from junior high school to high school. As a result of this, I still cannot listen to either of the albums (and I do still listen to both regularly) without thinking of specific people and specific events. 

The songs on this album have definitely taken on a life of their own. Another aspect of this album is just how much I heard it played for the first year after it’s release. It was 1974. It was springtime. It was The South. Everyone that enjoyed rock music owned this release. It played in friends’ bedrooms, it played at parties, it played outside at the lake and it was blasting from the rolled-down windows of every teenage driven car that passed you. This album is wonderful in every way, and it is ingrained my my Southern Fried Soul.

Ed Brown: “As much as I didn’t want to I did anyway. No sir, I don’t like it. Nope. I know it’s going to piss a lot of people off because I have discussed my disgust of this band many times before, and anyone who loves them genuinely gets pissed at me. Sorry but not sorry guys. Next.”

Matthew Graham: Overall I felt it a more consistent album than the first. The production seemed more even-handed, and it really works as a whole… but then it was my first Skynyrd album, and you know how those albums become more special because of it. One of my essential albums.

Michael PiwowarskiSweet Home Alabama is one of those songs you either love or hate, but you can’t deny the high quality musicianship that was a part of it, and the whole album. Second Helping lives up to its name, as a “second helping” of delicious southern rock that was served in Pronounced. My absolute favorite tracks are Don’t Ask Me No Questions and Working for MCA, not only because of their unapologetic hard rock style, but also their lyrics inspired by the band members’ lives as musicians. All five Skynyrd albums are southern rock classics and an essential part of any record collection.

Mike Knoop: I generally know/like the Skynyrd hits, and Second Helping doesn’t change that much. Sweet Home Alabama is still catchy even though I’ve heard it infinity times and Call Me the Breeze is great boogie rock. But kind of ambivalent about the six tracks in between. I did get a better appreciation of Ronnie Van Zant as a lyricist, especially on The Ballad of Curtis Loew and The Needle and the Spoon. But overall, not an album that I will play much after this week.

Matias Paniagua: Greeeeat album, love No Questions, Needle and The Spoon and Curtis Loew plus their greatest hit Alabama. I found in Ronnie Van Zant one of the best frontmen in rock history, great lyrics and his voice is so honest you believe every story he sang. And guitar works are amazing of course, what a band.

Lynott Sykes: A milestone in the discography of the greatest southern rock band of all time. But i still prefer the peaks of the first album. Even if Second Helping contains the unforgettable Sweet Home Alabama and a bunch of all-time classics, I think I Need You doesn’t live up to Simple Man or Tuesday’s Gone, and Don’t Ask Me No Questions doesn’t reach Gimme Three Steps. That said, some of their best songs are on here, Workin for MCANeedle and the SpoonSwamp Music and a fantastic cover of Call me the Breeze, with amazing guitar and piano solos.

Bradley Mabbutt: Listening to Second Helping has made me realise how stuck I had become in listening to just the “Hits”. As an album it shows there is more to Skynyrd than Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama (great as those songs are). Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Roland Bearne: This really is a life soundtrack album. Every song is a gem. The production is such that the sound is a cohesive whole yet lets every instrument shine through. The guitars almost literally sparkle. Still can’t listen to Curtis Loew without goose bumps. Wonderful.

Mike Bruce: So much for “difficult second album” syndrome. Skynyrd knock it out of the park here. The only thing that lessens the impact is the ubiquity of Sweet Home Alabama today. But it’s like a lot of life’s pleasures, if you go back to it after a fast; magic!

Pete Mineau: I remember I was in high school when this album came out. I had not heard of Lynyrd Skynyrd yet. Their first album came and went without any notice from me or my friends. Of course, we lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan… about as far away from the Southern Rock scene as you can get. (To us, Southern Rock was Ted Nugent, The MC5, The Stooges and anything else coming out of Detroit! We were/are isolated on this side of the Mackinac Bridge!) 

One day, my buddy Bill came to school with the album Second Helping and said, “You gotta check these guys out!”. My first question was, “How do you say their name?” (Guess I should have checked out their first album for that one!) My other buddy, Bruce, walked up and said “Oh cool… you brought it! Me and Bill were playing it all night long last night! I think you’ll dig it!”. I asked, “What do they sound like?” Bill said, “Kinda like The Allman Brothers…” “…But kind of country-rock too.” , chimed in Bruce. “But not like The Byrds or Eagles! Kind of heavy country-rock!” I was intrigued and couldn’t wait for school to end so that I could hear this new discovery that my buds were touting! 

I recall studying the album cover on the way home. I wasn’t really all that impressed by the front picture. It looked to me that a kid my age designed it in his high school art class. Although, it did sport a couple of pot leafs on it which scored big points with my fifteen year old self! The back sported photos of the band… a bunch of your typical long-haired freaks of the day, so… more points for that! (Anticipating the parental disgust factor if they should happen to catch a glance of it!)

From the first song I was blown away! “They are cutting down Neil Young and George Wallace in this song! Who do these guys think they are!?! I mean George Wallace… yeah, he’s an asshole, but Neil Young… he’s as cool as you can get! And his songs, Alabama & Southern Man are anti slavery/segregation tunes! Does that mean Skynyrd was for those things?” My teenage brain was overloading!

As I got to Working For MCA, my young mind began to overwork it’s self again! “Now they’re singing about MCA records. Isn’t that the label that Neil Diamond, Cher, & Olivia Newton-John are on? These guys are proud to be in those ranks?”

Then came Needle And The Spoon. “Wait a minute…didn’t Neil Young come out with a song a couple years ago called The Needle And The Damage Done? First they’re saying they “don’t need him around”, then they’re stealing song ideas from him!?!” Again I was freaked out by the audacity of these guys!

I listened to the album a few more times that night and realized that I really did like the music regardless of the “controversies” I had conceived in my barely developed cranium. The next day, me, Bruce, and Bill discussed my findings and rehashed our thoughts of the album. By the end of the day, we had decided that we had a new favorite band to follow…Neil Young be damned! 

As it turns out, you couldn’t go to a party while I was in school without hearing a Lynyrd Skynyrd album being played… especially Second Helping! Real Southern Rock had finally made it up north. 

I graduated high school in 1977 and joined the Navy in August of that year. The plane crash was in late October of ’77. I came home on leave that December for Christmas. While I was home, Bruce, Bill, myself, and two other buddies (Jim and Tim), got together to mourn our fallen heroes. The tragedy was still very fresh for us. We smoked, drank and listened to Second Helping(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)Street Survivors, and One More From The Road straight through. I still have pictures somewhere of that night!

On a personal note: I have never to this day, listened to a Lynyrd Skynyrd album that didn’t include Ronnie Van Zant in the line-up, and don’t intend to in the future.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Lynyrd Skynyrd Second Helping | | Leave a comment