Frank Zappa – We’re Only in It for the Money

ARTIST: Frank Zappa / The Mothers of Invention          220px-Zappamoney1

TITLE:  We’re Only in It for the Money



SINGLES: Lonely Little Girl

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Let’s Make the Water Turn Black, Take Off Your Clothes When You Dance, What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?

LINEUP: Frank Zappa, Jimmy Carl Black, Roy Estrada, Billy Mundi, Don Preston, Bunk Gardner, Ian Underwood, Motorhead Sherwood. Eric Clapton speaks a couple of sentences. No, really, he does.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A tour-de-force put down of the hippie culture from a cynical social commentator. The music is the first hint of Zappa’s advanced sense of composition.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Musically, this is an incredible record – especially given the limited technology in 1968. The pastiches of voices, sounds, and instruments, along with the sophisticated arrangements of tracks like “Mom & Dad”, show Zappa as an innovator on par with the Beatles and Brian Wilson.260px-Zappamoney2

The tracks take direct aim at the hippie and liberal culture of the 60’s, and in retrospect most of it is spot on criticism of the movement. It was one of the first albums that featured curse words in the lyrics and spoken word parts, and Verve Records was not having it. They asked Frank to change some lyrics, and then censored the album after it was delivered (and even more on subsequent pressings). This enraged Zappa, and he never let a company do that again. Thankfully, you can find the uncensored versions out there now.

There are a few really weird noise tracks using the studio as an abstract art canvas. This was probably off-putting to very casual fans, but by now most people who bought the record expected weirdness like “The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny”

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Zappa and his band were filming a movie (not finished until 1987) and worked on recordings for an large-scale project that spun off four albums.


GRADE: A+: It’s a shame that Verve decided to censor this in 1968 – even then it was known as a master work of satire.


The Rolling Stones – Aftermath

ARTIST: The Rolling Stones                           220px-RSAftermathUK

TITLE:  Aftermath



SINGLES: Paint It Black (#1 US, #1 UK) (US Version), Mother’s Little Helper (#24 US) (UK Version), Lady Jane (#24 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Under My Thumb, Stupid Girl

LINEUP: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts with Jack Nitzsche and Ian Steart

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: No longer a strict blues band, and with no covers, the Stones explore some musical territory, but its marred with misogyny.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Brian Jones comes to fore in many tracks here (“Mother’s Little Helper”, “Paint It Black”, “Lady Jane”, “Under My Thumb”, playing many instruments that added a great color to the Stones tracks. (The marimba on “Under My Thumb” is one of the hookiest hooks, ever). 220px-Aftermath.rollingstones.usalbum.cover

Recording with a longer lead time than normal, and away from the UK, the Stones had time to work out the arrangements in the studio and perfect them. It’s quite noticeable and a great leap forward. Many of the album tracks are rooted in the blues – so they didn’t abandon the blues entirely. However, it’s not the predominant musical idiom.

Of course, there are different US and UK versions. The US version cuts four songs and adds “Paint It Black”, saving the fantastic “Mother’s Little Helper” for later use. They didn’t cut the 10 minute jam “Goin’ Home”, unfortunately.

Listening to this now, “Under My Thumb” and “Stupid Girl” makes one cringe with the misogyny. It gives one pause now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It’s unfortunate “Stupid Girl” is lyrically cringy, since that’s one of the best tracks musically. Also, the original  version of the single “Paint It Black” added a comma after “IT”


GRADE: A-: A downgrade for the lyrics, and for why they didn’t cut “Goin’ Home” and add “Paint It Black” in the UK, and a couple other tracks in the US.

Duane Eddy – Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar Will Travel

ARTIST: Duane Eddy                        220px-Have_'Twangy'_Guitar_Will_Travel

TITLE:  Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar Will Travel



SINGLES: Moovin’ N’ Groovin’ (#72 US), Rebel Rouser (#6 US, #19 UK), Ramrod (#27 US), Cannonball (#15 US, #22 UK), The Lonely One (#23 US)


LINEUP: Duane Eddy, Al Casey, Steve Douglas, Corki O’Dell, Buddy Wheeler, Bob Taylor, Mike Bermani, other session musicians

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A whole album (career even) made from a cool guitar sound. It gets real old real quick.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: You know “Rebel Rouser” even if you don’t know the name. The low, echoey, twangy guitar, backed by a band with a prominent saxophone. It’s iconic.

Yet, over an entire album? Well, “Cannonball” and “Ramrod” are pretty good 50’s rock numbers, and the rest sound like generic movie instrumentals that they use before the radio comes in with ‘BREAKING NEWS”.

Duane Eddy’s guitar sound got him a long career, and he can play. It’s just that over an album, it’s not sustainable.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There’s not a good, solid collection of his work on Jamie that I trust. Many could be re-recordings. Pick and choose from his records (This is the only one I’m going to review). “Peter Gunn”, from his second, is probably his best track.


GRADE: C: A good overview of his Jamie material would be nice. If it’s there I didn’t find it.

Elvis Presley – Command Performances: The Essential 60s Masters II

ARTIST: Elvis Presley              Commandperformancesset

TITLE:  Command Performances: The Essentials 60’s Masters II

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 40: Flaming Star (#14), Can’t Help Falling in Love (#2), Rock-a-Hula Baby (#23), Follow That Dream (#15), King of the Whole Wild World (#30), Return to Sender (#2, #5 R&B), One Broken Heart for Sale (#11, #21 R&B), Bossa Nova Baby (#8, #20 R&B), Kissin’ Cousins (#12), Do the Clam (#21), Puppet on a String (#14), Frankie & Johnny (#25), Spinout (#40), Clean Up Your Own Backyard (#35)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Long Legged Girl (with the Short Dress On), A Little Less Conversation

LINEUP: Elvis with beaucoups session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A follow up to the comprehensive 60s Masters collection, this focuses on the ‘good’ songs from his movies.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you ever want a document of the decline and fall (and slight rise) of Elvis, this is for you.

Most people know that as the 60’s moved on, Elvis was mostly a movie star that made soundtrack albums. And those soundtrack albums were much like the movies – slapped together and featuring a disinterested Elvis.

It wasn’t until the NBC Special in 1968 that he snapped out of his torpor, and his work with songwriters Mac Davis and Billy Strange were better than the glop he sang on most of his album soundtracks.

This is good for history, as most of the songs you really know and want you can find elsewhere.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: For some reason this was deleted from streaming, but each and every movie soundtrack is out there, in case you wanted to hear some of the others, like “(There’s) No Room to Rumba in a Sports Car”


GRADE: C: Remember, these are the ‘good’ songs from his movies

Bill Lloyd – Feeling the Elephant

ARTIST: Bill Lloyd

TITLE:  Feeling the Elephant cover_elephant





LINEUP: Bill Lloyd with some help from David Russell, Scott Sullivan, Marc Owens, Jim Hodgekins, and Kim Richey

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A set of power-pop demos recorded over a four year period is a hidden gem for a singer-songwriter who was about to break big in country.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: In a few months after this was released, Bill Lloyd would become famous in the country music as part of Foster & Lloyd, but these songs were firmly in power-pop territory, and they hold up a lot better than that country duo’s tracks.

Most of these tracks are self-recorded as a one-man band, and date from a four year period. Yet they sound cohesive, tight, and very much like a self-contained album project.

Lloyd’s sense of melodies and arrangement are demonstrated on each track, and he’s well known as a rock and country guitarist and that’s also in evidence here. The only drawback is some of the production – very 80’s sounding at times. Still, it’s a must for power-pop lovers.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He’s an in-demand session guy and also tours as a sideman besides his solo work.


GRADE: A: It’s surprising how good this is. A very much hidden power-pop gem.

BB King – King of the Blues

ARTIST: BB King                                       MI0003917886

TITLE:  King of the Blues



SINGLES: Partin’ Time (#8 R&B), Got a Right to Love My Baby (#8 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m King, Good Man Gone Bad

LINEUP: BB King and session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: More sides from what seemed like an inexhaustible supply of blues songs from BB King.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is more ‘big band’ type blues tracks from King, as he’s playing and singing before a combo with horns. This time, though, King’s songs and his guitar playing carries the band, and it doesn’t sound as dated as before.

There were two top 10 R&B tracks, and other sides that demonstrate the versatility and virtuosity of King during this period. There are a couple of skippable songs, but most are right in the blues pocket.

BB King’s deep cuts were just as fine as some of his hits (“I’m the King” for one), and each of these early albums have some gems that should be heard more often.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: These sessions were recorded over time in the 1958-60 era.


GRADE: B+: A good blues album from a great bluesman.

Rock City – Rock City

ARTIST: Rock City            rock city

TITLE:  Rock City

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation



OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: An early version of the Big Star songs My Life Is Right, Try Again, and Feel

LINEUP: Chris Bell, Terry Manning, Jody Stephens, Tom Eubanks. Alex Chilton’s on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Early recordings from Chris Bell and his studio friends, before he formed Big Star. There’s quite a bit here worth listening to.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first track on this collection from Chris Bell’s first band is a lost power-pop classic: “Think It’s Time to Say Goodbye”. Written by Thomas Dean Eubanks (a collaborator that was in the Memphis and was the bassist here), the track is just a magical mix of rock and pop that was a bit before (or after) its time.

The magic found in Big Star was present in some of the tracks, as three of these songs were soon to be on Big Star’s first album. Yet, some of the songs aren’t quite that good (the ballads, mostly, are the ones that fall short) and some really ape the Beatles a bit too much.

Rock City’s material wasn’t released during its time, as soon Alex Chilton would be asked to join and the formation of Big Star was nigh. This group had its charm, with Bell’s voice and production and Eubanks’ songs.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Two of the tracks come from a solo single by Eubanks, and the last is credited to Icewater, a different name for basically the same bunch.


GRADE: B+: Sometimes these archival releases aren’t that great, but this one is and it could have been released as an album in 1970 or 1971 and not be embarrassing at all.

Neko Case – The Virginian

ARTIST: Neko Case         220px-Neko_Case_-_The_Virginian

TITLE:  The Virginian




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: She covers the Everly Brothers, Queen(!), and others

LINEUP: Neko Case, Carl Newman, Carolyn Mark, Rose Melberg, Matt Murphy, Brian Connelly, Darryl Neudorf, Bernie Sddington, Pet Bourne

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album by the indie singer finds her firmly in country territory, which suits her voice well.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a stretch of singing in both country and punk bands in Vancouver (where she went to art school), Neko Case recorded her solo debut, a firmly country album that spotlights her vocals and her songwriting, along with some tasty covers (including “Misfire” by Queen – go figure).

There’s a definite country polish to a lot of these tracks, even if many of the players weren’t really known for country music. Case herself had recorded in a punk band in 1996. A couple of the covers and non-Case originals don’t work as well as the other tracks.
Case’s songwriting and singing carry the day, and it’s tracks like “High on Cruel” that would define Case in this era.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded a video for “Timber” but CMT didn’t want to play it, and Case didn’t like it either.


GRADE: B+: A good start to a fantastic career.

Adam & the Ants – Dirk Wears White Sox

ARTIST: Adam & the Ants              220px-DirkWearsWhiteSoxOriginalCover

TITLE:  Dirk Wears White Sox



SINGLES: None from the original album or recordings. Later additions Zerox (#45 UK), Cartrouble (edited) (#33 UK), and the B-side EP (#46 UK) hit the UK charts.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not in the original form

LINEUP: Adam Ant, Dave Barbarossa, Matthew Ashman, Andrew Warren

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Early Ants lineup is raw and shambly and make for an inconsistent album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Before Adam Ant found his sound (and before the original Ants went with Malcolm McLaren to form Bow Wow Wow), the Ants released their debut record to some airplay and sales, yet it seemed an odd document.

The Ants (and Adam) were influenced by the sex boutiques in London at the time for their look and some of their lyrics (see the B-side “Whip in My Valise”), and this gave them a lot of press (good and bad). Yet the record seems a bit scattered with some inspired bits, and some bits that just didn’t work. Many times, those bits were in the 220px-AdamandtheAntsDirkWearsWhiteSoxsame song.

It’s kind of shocking to hear Adam Ant with a less than coherent music vision (even if you didn’t like the vision, at least he had one later on). The vision would come together soon, with some excellent singles following this album. This is decent for those who like the immediate post-punk era, and for those who want to hear the nascent Adam Ant mewl about stuff and things.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The first Adam and the Ants recordings were for the movie Jubilee and are rare and collectable now. Not to say that they’re good…

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The 1983 re-issue (for the US market) swapped the singles for a couple of songs, and truncated “Cartrouble” to the second, better half. The current issue has everything and a couple of new mixes. 

GRADE: B-: You can her something, but Adam hadn’t quite settled into his successful sound yet.

Cream – Disraeli Gears

ARTIST: Cream         220px-DisraeliGears

TITLE:  Disraeli Gears



SINGLES: Strange Brew (#17 UK), Sunshine of Your Love (#6 US, #25 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Tales of Brave Ulysees

LINEUP: Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The powerful blues-rock trio moves a foot into the psychedelic world, and creates a song that’s an absolute monster to this day.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Jack Bruce bass riff, coupled and carried forward by Eric Clapton, propelled “Sunshine of Your Love” and to this day, that simple riff is universally known and loved.

That track anchored this second album from the combustible power trio, which definitely varied their sonic attack and added tinges of psychedelia (“Tales of Brave Ulysses”) into their blues, and allowed for experimental arrangements like “Dance the Night Away”, “Blue Condition”, and “We’re Going Wrong”, and flat out rockers like “SWABLR”. Clapton’s wah-wah guitar is the sound of the record, though Bruce and Baker contribute their prowess as well.

The experimental pieces are hit-and-miss (Ginger Baker’s vocals are, well, an acquired taste), yet this is Cream’s best and most consistent album, and probably Clapton’s best and most consistent aside from Derek and the Dominos.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The titles was a malapropism when a roadie tried to say ‘derailleur gears’.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Outtakes and BBC sessions. 

GRADE: A: It’s one of the best examples of blues melding with psychedelics.