There was a huge pawn shop just outside gate 4 of Fort Campbell. When I was stationed there back in the ’80s, I want to that pawn shop all the time to see if there were any goodies that I could pick up for a steal. When I visited it one particular day in 1984, my favorite radio station in Clarksville, Tennessee was doing a remote broadcast in the parking lot. When I approached the tent, they told me I could win a free record if I could correctly answer a music trivia question. I don’t remember the question I was asked, or answer, but I do remember the album I chose from their selection: “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
I didn’t choose a Stevie Ray Vaughan album because I was a fan. I had never had of him. But the album had a add sticker on it that said he had been voted guitarist of the year by a guitar magazine. I figured “well, then the guy should be pretty good”.
I had no idea.
There will never be another guitarist like Stevie Ray Vaughan. He had it all – the tone, the feel, the emotion, the skill. He was the kind of player that could make you stop dead in your tracks, forget what you were doing and just listen. He was, in my opinion, the best blues guitarist that ever lived.
Sadly, the world lost Stevie Ray on August 27, 1990 when the helicopter he was flying in while on tour crashed shortly after takeoff.
This 2011 reissue version of “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” includes a second album of songs that were never released while SRV was still alive; many of them appearing on his posthumous album “The Sky is Crying”. Included on the second album is Arvo incredible version of the Jimi Hendrix classic, “Little Wing”. Stevie Ray never had a chance to record the vocals for the song, but with the way he could make his guitar sing, none were necessary. I still get goosebumps listening to it.
Fleetwood Mac’s 11th album, “Rumors”, is one of the best-selling albums of all time. It has sold over 40 million copies and is one of the only albums to give Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” a run for its money as the all time best-selling album ever.
The album was recorded in a tumultuous period Fleetwood Mac’s history. There were members of the band having relationships with other members – sometimes multiple members. This caused a lot of tension in the studio. But it was that tension between the band members that caused huge spark of creativity and resulted in an incredible work of art that stands the test of time. “Rumours” sounds as fresh today as it did back in 1977.
Not surprisingly, given the personal conflicts going on within the band, most of the lyrics “Rumors” are introspective poetry that speaks of love, relationships, and emotions.
This edition of “Rumors” is a limited edition, pressed on white vinyl. There is no reason albums need to be pressed on black vinyl other than that’s the way it was always done. The color of the vinyl doesn’t affect the sound quality so every now and then, limited runs of albums are pressed on colored vinyl. They usually cost a little more, but every now and then I have to splurge. After all, colored vinyl is cool.
This is not an official Pink Floyd album. Some would call it a live concert bootleg. Others would call it an Italian import.
Copyright laws are not the same in every country. Italy in particular, has some of the least restrictive when it comes to live performances. I’ve never looked up all the legal mumbo-jumbo, but however their laws are written, there are a lot of unofficial live recordings that come out of Italy on obscure record labels.
Typically, Italian Imports are from a specific concert performance. “A Dark Side Of The Moon Live” is a recording of a Pink Floyd concert at the Wembley Empire Pool in London, England on November 16, 1974. It’s a double album on which Floyd performs their incredible 1973 album “Dark Side Of The Moon” in it entirety as well as their epic song “Echoes” from 1972’s “Meddle” as an encore. It is an incredible performance one of the best I have heard actually. But It’s not without its flaws in both performance and recording.
You see, that’s the good and bad of Italian Imports. On the good side, you get a rare recording of a band performing live, with no studio overdubs or post production cleanup. If the band makes a mistake, or there’s tape malfunction, It’s going to be on the record. But you really get the feel of the performance. On “A Dark Side Of The Moon Live”, there is a part of the song “Breathe” that is chopped out with a horrible edit in the very beginning. Other than that, the recording is flawless. And the sound quality is excellent.
Oh yeah, that’s the other thing with Italian Imports. Because they are unofficial, the original source of the recording could be through the mixing board or some dude out in the audience with a microphone. Decades ago, it was hard to know what the quality of an Italian Import record was until you bought it. Today, with the Internet in your pocket, it’s easy to do a little on the spot research to get an idea.
Italian Imports are typically for the hardcore fans of a band. I am a huge Pink Floyd fan, and have a few Italian Imports by them. Some are on CD, and some, like “A Dark Side Of The Moon Live” are on vinyl.
Bob Seger used to be known locally as Detroit’s best kept secret. By the time Seger’s ninth studio album was released, everything had fallen into place to ensure that the long kept secret was out.
On his previous studio releases, Seger had put together a top-notch group of local players to back him up. They had one of the tightest rhythm section anywhere and were the perfect match for Seger’s compositions. They were his Silver Bullet to success. The “Beautiful Loser” album grabbed the ears of music lovers across the U.S. It was followed by “Live Bullet”, which had unprecedented success for a live record by an artist who had no huge hit album to date.
Enter “Night Moves”.
“Night Moves” was the album that finally gave Bob Seger the recognition he had so long before earned. It was kind of sad, knowing the secret was finally out. But I think most of us around Detroit who grew up with Bob Seger’s music, were happy to see him finally make it.
Bob Seger was always dedicated to Detroit – and Detroit always supported him. Struggling to make it for so long, he represented to many of us the spirit in the city of Detroit – the spirit of never giving up. He was the local underdog who had finally made it. The best kept secret was out.
My sister-in-law is an artist. She teaches sculpture at Wayne State University in Detroit. There are cities in Michigan that have her sculptures on permanent display. She has done exhibitions at art galleries across the United States. I am very proud of her. I am also thankful to her for being responsible for my discovering The Kickstand Band – in a roundabout way.
A little over a year ago, my sister-in-law was doing an exhibit at the opening of the 333 Midland gallery in Highland Park, near Detroit (you should Google it, it is really cool). They had bands playing there. And while I do appreciate visual art, I am by my nature, drawn to music. And there were local bands there. One of the bands was The Kickstand Band. I loved their stage presence and more importantly, their sound. So I went up to meet them afterwards and support them by buying some of their music. I was astonished to find they had their debut album, “Puppy Love”, on CD and vinyl. Of course, I had to buy the vinyl record – it’s always my first choice.
Having just seen The Kickstand Band play live, I already knew their sound. DIY/indie pop and power chords with great boy/girl vocal harmonies. Listening more closely, once I had the record playing at home, I could also hear influences of doo-wop, surf music, punk, and of course, Motown – they are from Detroit after all.
And then there’s the album cover. As if to flaunt the DIY attitude, the cover of “Puppy Love” is a picture that would feel right at home on the “Awkward Family Photos” website (you should Google that too)
I can’t help but hope The Kickstand Band get a break somewhere down the line. They deserve it. Their music is a joy to listen to. It’s as unique as it is addicting. Not overly abrasive but still rebellious. I will be keeping eye and ear out for them.
Okay, I’m breaking an unwritten rule. But it’s my rule, so I can take liberties. I have to admit, it’s not the first time either. I do try to keep it to a minimum though. But sometimes, every now and then, I have to make an exception. This is one of those times.
It’s not like anyone gets hurt if I break the rule. Not even close. Sometimes my friends even enjoy it when I break the rule. Most often, that’s when I choose to break it – when I know a friend wants me to. That is, they would want me to if they knew the rule even existed.
The thing is, I’ve never told anyone of the rule, so no one knows about it. But it’s been in place for years. … no, decades. It’s a rule that every now and then, needs to be broken. Usually, it’s for someone else, but tonight, it’s all about me. Tonight, I make no apologies. I will break the rule and I have no regrets.
I am going to listen to another entire album by the last band I just listened to an entire album by. This morning, it was Wings “At The Speed of Sound”. Tonight, it’s “Wings Over America”. But how can I resist?
A lot of bands can release a successful single live album. Fewer could be successful with a double live album. It’s unheard of to make it a triple. Unless you’re a band as talented as the Wings.
This is the only triple album to take the #1 a spot on the U.S. charts. An incredible accomplishment that may never be broken.
But then again, accomplishments are often hard to break. Breaking rules is easy; especially when the rules are your own.
I remember listening to an interview with Paul McCartney where the former Beatle was very persistent in saying that the band Wings was not an avenue for extending his solo career. He said that he wanted the band to be strictly referred to as Wings, not Paul McCartney and Wings. As if to drive that point home, “At the Speed of Sound” featured the other band members singing lead vocals on its songs more than its four predecessors. There was also more participation in the song writing from the other band members.
“At the Speed of Sound” spawned two singles “Let ’em In” and “Silly Love Songs”. Those singles helped place the album by Wings at the top of the US charts. It also hit number two on the British charts. Like it’s a predecessors, the album contain a solid mix of mid-tempo rock songs That focused on composition and song structure that incorporated a wide range of influences and styles. The album never totally jams out, but it’s not a mellow album either. It’s always a pleasure to listen to it.
There are many perspectives to the album cover for Led Zeppelin’s eighth studio album, “In Through the Out Door”. Six to be exact.
The album cover features a scene with a brooding guy about to burn a Dear John letter. There are six people in the barroom with him: the bartender, a blond girl at one end of the bar, a black woman at the other end, a curly-haired brunette leaning on the jukebox, a bald guy standing by a table, and a piano player. The six different versions of the cover feature a view of the brooding guy at the bar from the perspective of each of these six other people. Each cover was viewed in a sepia tone with a wiped area that revealed a small part of the scene in color.
The thing was, when you bought “In Through the Out Door” new, you never knew which cover you were going to get because they all came wrapped in a brown paper bag stamped with the band’s name and album title.
Discovering which album cover was underneath wasn’t the only surprise to be had either. Although the inner record sleeve looked like it was printed in black and white, if you wiped it with a damp cloth (or spilled a drink on it) you would discover each of the objects depicted on it were suddenly colored.
Although “In Through the Out Door” sold well overall when it came out, because of its heavier use of synthesizers, it was mixed in its reception by Zeppelin fans. Some felt it was an abandonment of the band’s heavier sounds. Others saw it as a natural progression of a band trying to keep with the times while still keeping their musical integrity.
It all depended on their perspective.
I don’t care what kind of music you prefer, it’s nearly impossible to not like the Eagles. All through the ’70s, their albums just seemed to get better and better, culminating in their 6th and final album for nearly 20 years, “The Long Run”.
The Eagles recorded “The Long Run” after being on the road for an excruciatingly long tour supporting the success of their previous album, “Hotel California”. The exhaustion from touring combined with the pressure of trying to come up with a worthy successor to their most successful album to date, resulted in writer’s block setting in for all the band members. It took a year and a half to come up with the songs for “The Long Run”, but it was well worth the wait.
The critics weren’t very receptive to “The Long Run” when it came out, giving it mostly lukewarm reviews. But what do they know? This is easily one of the best and most varied albums by the Eagles. There is something here for everyone, and it’s all something good.
But don’t take my word for it. “The Long Run” topped the album charts in multiple countries including the United States, where it sold over 8 million copies alone. It also scored three hit singles for the Eagles. “Heartache Tonight”, “I Can’t Tell You Why”, and the title track. And “Heartache Tonight” would end up earning the Eagles a Grammy for best rock performance in 1980.
My personal favorite song from this album is the side two opener, “Heartache Tonight”. Partly because of its addicting drum beat that you can’t help but stomp your foot to, partly because of Joe Walsh’s exceptional slide guitar solo, and partly because of the perfect vocal harmonies the Eagles were known for. But mostly, I think I like it because of the writer’s block that had set in. It prompted the Eagles to seek some outside writing assistance from one of my favorite artists and songwriters – fellow Detroiter, Bob Seger.
“Hey Jude” was an album that kind of made up for the exclusion of certain songs from the U.S. versions of earlier albums by the fab four. The album was never released in the U.K., and contained singles and other songs that had never been available on any Beatles album released in the United States. Most had only been released in the States as 45 RPM singles. “Hey Jude” also contained a couple of tracks that were only released as 45s in Britain, most notably the album’s title track.
Capitol/Apple records originally planned to title this album “The Beatles Again”. It was a last-minute decision to change the title to the same name as the Beatles’ latest single at the time, which opens up side 2. It was so last-minute in fact, that a few copies were released with the originally planned title printed on the record’s labels. These rare versions are highly sought by collectors. I am fortunate enough to have one of these in my collection.