Monday, December 28, 2015


I probably haven't listened to a Matthew Sweet album in ten years.  I certainly haven't listened to Sweet's debut "Inside" in twenty years.  So imagine how surprised I was to find it still in my collection and discover what an enjoyable album this 1986 release was.  Yeah, the '80s production sound hasn't aged well, but most of the songs are great.  And parked in the middle of the album was Sweet's strange collaboration with no-wave starlet Adele Bertei - 'By Herself'.  Geez, I didn't even remember the tune.

I'm still at a loss to figure how Sweet and Bertei managed to come up with a track that was as insidiously catchy as this one is. Strumming acoustic guitars, a hook that won't let go.  Pumping bass ...  Not only that, but Bertei and Valerie Simpson provide backing vocals !!!  The stupid song has been bouncing in my head for three days.  I may have to download it from iTunes.

Friday, December 25, 2015


A quiet Friday morning - 7 am and nobody else but the cat is up yet.  Listening to Joe Walsh (strange Christmas choice), and reflecting on how lucky I have been.  Wife and kids who I adore.  Job I like.  Physical comforts.   I pray that someday everyone can have as much.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Every now and then I'll be focused on something else when a song will suddenly hit me out of nowhere.  That experience hit me Saturday morning.  I was on my way to mail some record albums and drop off Christmas cards for the Post Office staff (yeah, I spend way too much time at my local Post Office), when out of the blue Little Feat's 'Easy To Slip' came blaring out of the car speakers.   Suddenly I wasn't a middle aged, overweight, balding member of the middle class, rather was in my 20s getting ready to go out and party.   It only lasted a moment, but it was a breath of fresh air.

What a great song. Recognizable from the opening chords, it was worth hearing just for George's wonderful guitar - it sounds like an acoustic, but it was an electric with some strange effect slapped on it.  The tune was one of the most commercial things the late Lowell George ever wrote (along with collaborator Martin Kibbee).  The song was apparently Kibbee's idea, though George's name came first on the credits. 



Sunday, December 13, 2015


My 12 year old is a member of Boy Scout Troop 1018.  We're not the biggest Troop in the area and we're not an Eagle production line.  We're just kind of a middle-of-the-road Troop that puts the emphasis on the boys running the group and trying to ensure everyone has a good time. This weekend the troop held a training/recruiting event for local cub scouts.  About 20 cub scouts showed up and under the "guidance" of our scouts they went through a series of "training" events (tying knots, fire safety, etc.) that got them their outdoorsmen merit badges. 

The Boy Scout in Ryan's troop did a nice job of running the training, getting the 20 cub scouts from one place to another and even keeping the relatively engaged in the program.  

Anyhow, one of my parental assignments was to take pictures of the event and while I was doing that I happened to be standing next to two of the young Webelos.  They had apparently just come off of an overnight camping trip and weren't happy with one of their campmates - hearing one of them tell the other "players gonna play, play, play; haters are gonna hate, hate, hate, baby ..." just made me smile.  What a great philosophy to live by.  Taylor Swift would have been proud.

Go Troop 1018 !!!


I probably listened to 200 albums over the last year.   Admittedly most of it was '60s and '70s material (we tend to gravitate to material we grew up with), but there was one 2015 release - Charlie's ""Elysium" (which nobody in the world seems to have noticed).  Moreover looking at the list I was surprised by how musically diversified the listing was.  Classic rock, English folk-rock, soul, new wave, pop ...  it is all represented here.  Anyhow, here are the ten LPs that caught my eyes and ears; got played multiple times, and got at least four out of five stars on my rating list.

They're in alphabetical order, rather than and other sequence.

Madeline Bell "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" (1968)
An amazingly talented American singer who simply couldn't break out of the crowd of other talented mid-'60s African American singers.  She headed for England where she made a name for herself, though in the States she remains best known as a back-up singer.  Shame since Bell had everything needed to be a breakout star.  Awesome LP that more people should be aware of.  Review at:

Buffalo Springfield "Again" (1966)
Frankly I can't remember why I pulled this one out - I think it might have been related to the band reforming for a performance at the 2011 Bonnaroo festival.  All I can say is I'd forgotten what a fantastic band the Springfield were before going down in a trail of personality conflicts and hate and discontent.   There literally is not a bad song on this album.  My review of the LP is found at:

Charlie "Elysium" (2015)
Terry Thomas with help from a couple of friends and former Charlie members ...   Reportedly the final Charlie release and if it is it captured Thomas a his angriest.   Nobody and nothing gets out of this set unscathed and virtually every one of these 14 tunes was wrapped in a to-die-for rock melody.   And virtually nobody knew the album was even released.  Just a crime that Thomas and company did not become household names..

Sandy Denny "Sandy" (1972)
I sold the three copies I owned and regretted it the minute the last one was gone.  Simply her best solo effort and rivals her work with Fairport, Strawbs, etc.   Worth the price of admission just for the stunning David Bailey album cover ...   Review at:

Fat Mattress "Fat Mattress" (1969)
Another album that took a long time to make an impact on me ... It was originally hyped for the fact Jimi Hendrix sideman/bassist Noel Redding was the founder and front man (well that was the theory behind the band).  Anyone looking for a slice of Hendrix-styled psych will be disappointed.  In fact this is one of those albums that's hard to accurate describe, but given a chance the collection's charms reveal themselves to a patient listener.   Review at:

Agnetha Faltskog "A" (2013)
It only took me two years to discover I'd missed the release of this album - and I always considered myself to be a closet ABBA fan.  Overlooking that criminal behavior I'll simply say "A" was the best post-ABBA release any of the four members have issued.  If you are going to buy one post-ABBA collection, this is the one to go out and find.  My review is at:

Van Morrison "Avalon Sunset" (1989)
Probably the biggest surprise (for me) on the list.  When this originally came out I was totally bored by it.  It seemed ponderous, plodding, and self-indulgent.  Listening to it for the first time in decades I was dumbfounded by how far off the mark I was.  One of Morrison's undiscovered gems.  Review is at:

Otis Redding "Love Man" (1969)
You simply can't go wrong with an Otis Redding album and this was one of the posthumous collections that's been largely overlooked.  Review at:

Allen Toussaint "Southern Nights"
I'd owned this album for at least five years and simply never gotten around to listening to it.  Anyhow, I pulled it out and was shocked at how good it was - soulful, but way more than that.   Sadly, within a couple of weeks of having "discovered" this album, Toussaint passed on.   My review can be found at:

Was (Not Was) "Laughing At Tornados" (1983)
I remember playing this one while in college ...  Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens had two of soul's finest voices and the were in full display on this LP.  Anyhow, listening to the album for the first time since 1985  I was surprised at how pleasant and innovative the collection was.  Not everything on it is a homerun, but there are some dandy hits across the two sides.  Review at:


The Windows "Running Alone" (1987)
One of the best purchases I made this year - 50 cents at a yard sale.  I had no idea who these guys were, but led by brothers Alan (drums) and Larry (vocals and guitar) Brewer, "Running Alone" offered up a wonderful collection that managed to mash-up AOR and new wave energy.  It's one of those rare albums that gets better each time I hear it.   Review at: