Tuesday, July 26, 2016

RIP Sandy Pearlman

Producer Sandy Pearlman Dies at 72
Obviously, known for his collaboration and production of great such as Blue Oyster Cult (probably where he first became known), The Dictators and the Clash. Once again, way too young...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pat Todd and the Rankoutsiders - Blood and Treasure

I know that I've written about Pat and his projects (The Lazy Cowgirls as well as the Rank Outsiders) at length, as I've known the man for several decades now and have always dug and respected his r'n'r soul. Having just seen the Rankoutsiders do a terrific set at Cafe Nela in LA, I picked up this, their latest effort. I think this is one of his better recent releases, with a variety of sounds - all within Todd's country/r'n'r/ r'n'b/punk stylings, of course - and a cool booklet with a little info on each of the tunes.

Starting out with a patented Pat rocker, "This Counterfeit World", the band then moves into a couple cool, r'n'b/early r'n'r numbers by Lazy Lester, "Sugar Coated Love"/"I Hear You Knockin'" with hot-shot guitar work from Nick'n'Kevin. They slow it down a bit for a country-ish ballad, "West of Your Last Chance" (dig the C&W guitar licks in this one), and then do a fantastic bluegrass/blues with "The Fast Kendall County Blues", an older number than includes ex-Cowgirl Michael Leigh on on acoustic slide guitar, producer Earle Mankey on bass and banjo and "Stanley" on mandolin. Love this one! Back with a kinda Slade-ish hand-clappin', foot-stompin', sing-along rocker in "My Own Way" and a couple of highly melodic Pat high-energy numbers, "Don't Be Sellin' Emptiness To Me" and "Tell Me Now" (how does he always get the same kind of nasal backing vocals no matter who is in his band?). A bit slower, "Ole Fortune & Fame" is a sadder song of these elusive traits, and "Stand Up & Sass Back" has Mankey again on bass and Brian Irving on drums (instead of regular, ex-Creamer Bob Deagle) for a stripped-down pop tune while "Just Another Broken Day" adds some bluesy harp work by Jeremy White. Johnny Thunders-ish guitar work highlights the upbeat "Gone Are the Days", "Some Days You Eat the Bear" is energetic and harmony-driven, "Play'n In the Dirt" is a sad'n'slow, well-written ballad and, somewhat appropriately titled for a closer, "Tomorrow's On It's Way" is a fast'n'furious rock'n'roller.

Really solid effort with a great balance of rock'n'roll, blues, bluegrass, country and whatever else they decide to throw into the mix! Great job, Outsiders!

P.P. Arnold - The First Cut

Pat Arnold grew up in Watts as part of a church-going, gospel-singing family. After a short, abusive marriage, she was lucky enough to join the Ike and Tina Turner Review as one of the Ikettes, touring the country and eventually opening for the Rolling Stones. Of course, the Stones loved the Ikettes and Pat and Mick apparently hit it off to the point that when Pat said she wanted to leave the Ikettes, Jagger got her signed as a solo artist on Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records. A couple of British hits followed but, even with Andrew encouraging her to write her own material and with her obvious talent, the momentum didn't continue.

This CD collection of her Immediate recordings, complete with a lovely, fold-out booklet that outlines her career and includes a selection of photos of this beauty, shows her to have a strong, soul voice that interprets other people's material well and ranges from crooning ballads to groovy dance numbers.

The title cut, "The First Cut Is the Deepest" was her biggest hit, but for me the upbeat soul of "Speak To Me", "If You See What I Mean", "Am I Still Dreaming?" and "Treat Me Like a Lady" is even more powerful. "The Time Has Come" gives her a chance to explore her range, "(If You Think You're) Groovy" sounds almost like her work with the Small Faces (other good friends of hers), "Though It Hurts Me Badly" and "Something Beautiful Happens" has fine production and kinda mixes all kinds of things - hints of the Stones, bits of Petula Clark, maybe a little Laura Nyro - and songs like "Born To Be Together" and "Would You Believe" have some of the big production values of Oldham's mentor, Phil Spector. She does a good job with covers such as "Angel of the Morning" (Much better than Juice Newton), "Elanor Rigby" and "Yesterday" (kinda influenced by Ray Charles, I'd say), "God Only Knows", "As Tears Go By" and "To Love Somebody", giving them her own soul twist.

Sweet stuff, all well-done. I would have liked a bit more of the upbeat, swingin' soul, but dig the low-key, poppier stuff, as well. Nice slice of 60's sounds.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cash'd Out, The Rhyolite Sound, The Swamp Gospel, More Than Bone at Backstage Bar and Billiards Thursday July 21, 2016

The Swamp Gospel was happy to be added to this bill and had a great time at BBB! Cool crew, nice stage, real soundman (Thanks Dave!) and an excellent crowd! We were added on somewhat late so didn't get to promote as much as usual, so thank you to everyone who came out and supported all of the bands!

Opening was More Than Bone, featuring Michael, who also plays guitar in the All Togethers, on acoustic guitar, vocals and songwriting. This new project has a fine lead guitarist, bass, drums and a cat who plays keys and sax. The sound is somewhat alt-country, for lack of a better term, and the crowd certainly seemed to dig their set!

The Swamp Gospel was up next and we had a terrific time preachin' to plenty of new sinners looking for salvation! The place was fairly packed by the time we went on and we got a good responce! Good times! (Once again, thank you Nikki Ruffling for the photos - even got Brother Lenny back on the drums!)

I've written about Las Vegas' premier honky tonk band, the Rhyolite Sound, many, many times - often before they rebranded themselves, back when they were still Eddy Bear and the Cubs - and always dig their excellent C&W covers and originals. Superb vocals, amazing playing (I've lauded guitarist Wade so many times that it's almost embarrassing) and a good-time show. If you're looking for some country-styled fun, be sure to check them out!

Cash'd Out sounded better than ever this evening - good set of Cash tunes done with solid musicianship and great vocals and presence by lead Cash-man, Douglas. By this time I was pretty wiped out and was socializing with old friends so I didn't take notes, but the group was totally on and kept the audience asking for more!

Thank you again to the Triple B for a fun Thursday night!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

recommended gigs

Thursday July 21 - The Swamp Gospel with Cashed Out, the Rhyolite Sound, More Than Bone at Triple B

Friday July 22 - Eagles of Death Metal at the Hard Rock
Friday July 22 - Frankie and the Witchfingers, with the Acid Sisters at the Griffin

Saturday July 23 - Franks'n'Deans at Vinyl
Saturday July 23 - The Chicken Shack at the Bunkhouse

Sunday July 24 - Tartar Control, Jerk, Time Crashers, the Quitters at the Dive Bar

Sunday July 24 - Bob Log III at the Golden Tiki

Monday July 25 - the Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Tuesday July 26 - Jesika von Rabbit and Spindrift at the Bunkhouse

Thursday July 28 - The Mapes, 1/2 Ast, Burlesque, DJs and more at the Double Down

Friday July 29 - The Swamp Gospel with the Lucky Cheats and the Delta Bombers at the Sand Dollar 40th anniversary party!

Monday August 1 - the Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Wednesday August 3 - Franks'n'Deans Weenie Roast at the Double Down
Wednesday August 3 - the Melvins at Triple B

Friday Aug 5 - Punks in Vegas anniversary show at 11th Street Records with Alan Six, Last Call, Illicitor, Bee Master and Kate Kalling
Friday Aug 5 - The Curly Wolf, The Rhyolite Sound, the All Togethers at the Dive Bar

Saturday Aug 6 - the Unwieldies appearing at Catfish John's annual Jerry Garcia Memorial Celebration at Brooklyn Bowl

Saturday Aug 6 - 1:00pm - live recording for the All Togethers at Saddles'n'Spurs

Sunday Aug 7 - Howlin' King Crawdad at Saddles'n'Spurs

Wednesday August 10 - the Maxies and the Ataris at the House of Blues Las Vegas

Friday August 12 - Shooter Jennings backed by Waylon's Band with the Rhyolite Sound at Fremont Country Club
Friday August 12 - the Weirdos, Scoundrels, and the Civilians at the Dive Bar

Saturday August 13 - Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Saturday August 13 - The Swamp Gospel, Thee Faded Pyctures (from Phoenix, featuring Jamie from the Dirty Babies), and more at the Double Down

Wednesday August 17 - the Ataires and the Who Generation at the House of Blues

Friday August 19 - Psyatics CD Release Party at the Double Down with Tito Mojito and the New Conquerors, Pluralses and Swamp Pussy

Sunday Aug 21 - David Allen Coe at the LV Country Saloon

Saturday Aug 27 - D Generation at the Beauty Bar

Saturday Sept 10 - Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Saturday Oct 1 - Nikki Ruffling's birthday bash with Melanie and the Midnite Marauders, The Legendary Boilermakers, Water Landing and the Psyatics!

Friday Oct 21 - the Psyatics and the Vibrators at the Double Down

Tuesday Oct 25 - Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band with the Supersuckers at Triple B

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band Loco Live 1976

Willie "Loco" Alexander has been a stalwart of the Boston scene since his days in the 60's garage band the Lost, and he has yet to stop rockin'! The Boom Boom Band was a hot-shot piece of smokin' pre-punk rock'n'roll featuring Willie on guitar and vocals, the monstrous guitar work of Billy Loosigian and the stompin' rhythm section of Severin Grossman (bass) and David McLean (drums). Willie's unique vocals stylings mix melodies with scat-singing, whoops, oohs'n'ahs behind his pumpin' piano, while Billy dishes out power chords combined with sweet, dulcet leads while Severin and David boom-boom behind them.

I have been on the lookout for a release of a live tape that I once owned from this band that was an incredible show and while this didn't turn out to be that elusive release, it is still a terrific comp of two shows with the band at their height.

Opening the CD is a set from Boston's legendary club, The Rat, which gave us the two songs that appeared on the Live at the Rat compilation - the 50's-ish rocker "At the Rat" and the wacky'n'somewhat lewd glossolalia of the dynamically hypnotic "Pup Tune". Besides those numbers, we get the punky "Dirty Eddie" (a song left off of his MCA albums), the slower classic "Kerouac", his lovely "You Looked So Pretty When" (love Billy's highly sustained guitar here), and the heavy "Hit Her Wid de Axe".

Following this, we get 8 songs from an earlier (by a few months) show at The Club in Cambridge, MA. Some of these did not appear on either of his MCA albums, such as "For Old Times Sake", a cool Willie rocker, "Garbage Man" (a radically different version surfaced on the tape I was talking about - much more of a guitar-fueled garage stomper than this, which sounds more like a jam that eventually became a song), and "Gin", with its melodic guitar licks,

We also get a much rawer "Gourmet Baby" (without the "censored" lyrics of the LP) and an earlier "Rock & Roll 78" (here titled Rock'n'Roll Lick #76) where Willie encourages his fans to bootleg his shows while he describes the local scene and Billy switches between his heavy chords and cool riffs. "Rhythm A Baby" is also an embryonic variant of a later tune, "Mass Ave." is a bit heavier here than on the studio recordings, and "Melinda" is positively, massively forceful.

The last couple of cuts are a studio take of "Dirty Eddy" (yes, the spelling changed) and his white-boy-reggae "She Wanted Me", both from a Somor Records single - the production isn't as strong as the album, but still pretty terrific.

I love the Loco man and this is a great collection of live takes, even if it isn't what I was hoping for, it's still awesome, boom-boom rock'n'roll!

The Monks - The Early Years 1964 - 1965

The Monks came onto my radar via the wacky videos of the band's German TV performances that circulated throughout the 80's Garage scene. These American GI's, AWOL from the Army in Germany, created some of the craziest, pre-psychedelic percussive stomp music you've ever heard! And, the had a wild look, as they all dressed in black with nooses around their necks and monks' tonsure haircuts, just as all the rest of the bands were letting their hair grow long! So far ahead of their time that the rest of us still haven't caught up!

This CD - with an extensive booklet - is a collection of demos for the songs that eventually appeared on their one album, Black Monk Time (which I am shocked to see that I haven't written about here). Without doing a side-by-side comparison, I think that all of these made it onto the record, but is different forms - sometimes dramatically different. It's all still great, and I really dig hearing their formative versions of "Monk Time", "Boys are Boys", "Space Age" (even more primitive and noisy!), "I Hate You", "Pretty Suzanne" (wonderfully twisted guitar work here) "Oh, How To Do Now" and more!

There are also a couple of tunes that were released as a single by the pre-Monks band, the 5 Torquays, which are still pretty Monks-ish - "Boys Are Boys" and "There She Walks". But, without the banjo and with a slightly more "normal" arrangement, they don't sound quite as insane, though it is pretty unique.

I think my biggest "problem" with the Monks was that there was only one record, but now that's been rectified! Yes, the songs are familiar but with enough variation to be fresh and interesting. Well worth it!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The B Movie Rats reunion show with the Humpers, The Crazy Squeeze and the Resolutions at Alex's Bar, Long Beach, CA, Saturday July 16, 2016

A second great night of rock'n'roll for the B Movie Rats' reunion weekend, this time in Long Beach, CA. Again, we had never been to this dive bar, but it was a good size (I was told a capacity of 300), with a real stage and sound man - and a full bar (the drawback for me at Cafe Nela)! Definitely a cool place to see good bands!

Opening were the Resolutions, with guitarist Hans from the Hellbenders, who were r'n'r brothers to the Rats back in the day. This combo had a similar style to his previous group, highlighted by Hans' guitar work, with plenty of chant-along songs. I wasn't familiar with their tunes, but they were tight'n'powerful and a good start to the night.

Up next were The Crazy Squeeze with Hollywood rocker Johnny Witmer on guitar'n'vocals, along with Frankie Delmane, Dat Ngo and Ian Harrower. The sound was a bit more glam/pop, with nods to groups like the Boys and the Rezillos, along with the mandatory Johnny Thunders references.

Then the Rats hit the stage and, if anything, were even wilder'n'more rockin' than the night before! I think the sound was dialed in a bit better (at least from my side of the stage) and the boys had a bit more room to roam, which they took advantage of! I loved Curt's guitar sound'n'antics (truly one of my favorite players'n'showmen), Derek seemed to appreciate the space and twirled'n'tossed the mic stand around, while Bill's fluid runs and Rick's snappy drums kept it all movin'. The place was packed for their set and, in fact, Curt mentioned that this might have been the biggest crowd that they ever played for (which is kind of a sin, but...). Absolutely amazing rock'n'roll and essentially the same set list as Cafe Nela, natch, although they had several numbers cut from their set - they one serious bummer of the night. Otherwise, everyone had an absolute blast and the Rats renewed everyone's faith in the healing powers of r'n'r!

Hometown boys the Humpers headlined and jammed the place for their brand of chanting punk rock. We've seen a number of their shows where they were a little more than...loose...but this time they had the proper balance of tight'n'loose and put on a cool show while blasting out their classics like "Hey Shadow" and "Space Station Love". I didn't brave the crowds to get up close for them, so no good pix of the band, but here is the crowd rockin' to the rafters! Obviously, as headliners they were entitled, but they played for an exceptionally long time - even hard core fans mentioned this - which made it doubly a bummer that the Rats were cut short - what can ya do?

Thanks to Alex's Bar for hosting this evening of fine, fun-time rock'n'roll! I had never really explored Long Beach and really enjoyed what I saw, so a multi-purpose trip! Let's do it again!

The B Movie Rats reunion show with Pat Todd & the Rank Outsiders, The Black Widows and the Golden Rulers - Cafe Nela, LA, Friday July 15, 2016

Upon hearing that the B Movie Rats were going to be doing a couple of reunion shows in LA, we immediately took off of work and made plans to be there. Apparently, we missed some previous, barely mentioned reunion, so we didn't want to miss this - especially with the star-studded line-ups that they put together!

We had never been to Cafe Nela - it came into vogue after we moved to Vegas - but it is a cool little dive bar with a real stage, PA and, for this evening anyway, legendary soundman Dirty Ed! Opening up was John Ramirez' current project, the Golden Rulers, who feature John Collinson on drums, Mike Alvidrez on bass and, as of this night, a new, second guitarist whose name I missed and who is not listed on their FB page! In any case, they are a loud'n'heavy punk'n'roll combo with a mighty twin guitar attack and a rockin' rhythm section who handled the different tempos and kept it all groovin'! Some tunes kinda reminded me of the Hellacopters and they did hard-edged covers of Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" and Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" (that turned into a wild jam). Very cool stuff!

The greatest instrumental band in the world, The Black Widows, followed with their "all original, all evil" set of tunes that were, for the most part, newer than their newest, fantastic CD, Evilution! Guitarist Dr. Vibe just can't stop writing new tunes! Far from being a surf band, these cats do self-described "spider rock" that mixes some surf sounds with punk rock, heavy metal (tidbits of Sabbath and Zep can be found here'n'there), funk and 60's garage. They wear masks to hide their "severe identities" and take over the club with frantic prowlin' all while playing complex, but damn catchy, rock'n'roll. Since they do not speak and the songs are all instrumental, they had hand-made signs for each number and this evening Melanie was their card turner! Amazing, as always!

The photos that I managed to get do not even begin to capture the majesty and madness of the powerful B Movie Rats! Performing as the Killer Woman line-up - Rick on drums, Curt on guitar, Bill on bass and Derek on lead vox - they tore through songs from that record as well as Bad For You and some of their better covers, such as the Faces' "Borstal Boys". As soon as they hit the stage, Rick's amazing snare drum rolls (he plays a snare, a bass rum, 1 ride cymbal and high-hat!) drove the band and the crowd into a frenzy, as the group threw themselves around the stage (and audience) all while playing these incredible punk'n'roll songs with a fiery fury that was clearly a blast! I have always loved these guys - as people and as a band - and goddam if they didn't pull off a fantastic performance despite a break of 13 years or so! Even later guitarist Matt Lake joined them for a few numbers to add even more wildness to the night! A couple of minor technical issues here'n'there but really, ya couldn't have asked for more or for a better set of rock'n'roll!

But, even after that bit of rock'n'roll revolution, we got Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders to cap off the evening with another set of terrific performances. Pat, of course, has been an LA institution since the early 80's and while the band and the songs might change a bit here'n'there, it is always pure rock'n'roll! The Outsiders - Rick, Nick, Kevin and Bob (formerly of the Creamers, back in the 80's) - are tighter than ever - I seriously think this was the best I've ever seen them - and Pat continues to be a stellar front man who still looks the same as the day I first met him! The set was super strong with the surprise from the Cowgirls days, "Who You Calling a Slut", as well as fun covers like Lazy Lester's "Sugar Coated Love" and the classic "Route 66". Both guitars gave us biting leads, the rhythm section kept the crowd movin' and Pat keeps exploring new melodies while still being able to shout it out with the best of them!

Man, I couldn't believe that Cafe Nela was able to book a night this packed with talent! From start to finish it was an absolute blast and for us, it was a superb rock'n'roll class reunion! LA is still the home of killer rock'n'roll!