Month: February 2019

Tommy Roe – The Original ABC Recordings

ARTIST: Tommy Roe                  R-3729532-1486769683-9449.jpeg

TITLE: Greatest Hits – The Original ABC Hit Recordings

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 40: Sheila (#1 US, #3 UK), The Folk Singer (#84 US, #4 UK), Everybody (#3 US, #9 UK), Come On (#36 US), Sweet Pea (#8 US), Hooray for Hazel (#6 US), It’s Now Winter’s Day (#23 US), Dizzy (#1 US, #1 UK), Heather Honey (#29 US, #24 UK), Jam Up and Jelly Tight (#8 US), Stagger Lee (#25 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah, the rest charted pretty low.

LINEUP: Tommy Roe and various sessioneers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A compilation of the 60’s pop singer who survived through the many changes of the pop scene and kept having hits every couple of years.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: One thing that strikes you about Tommy Roe’s career is that there were three phases of his success. First it was 1963-64, then a comeback in 1966-67, then a final comeback in 1969 to 1970. Each time the style was a bit different, but they were all Tommy Roe composed and all fit in with the pop vernacular at the time.

The other striking thing is that as lightweight as the songs seem to be, they keep coming back as samples (the drum breaks, especially, and the organ sound). Then, the complexity of the songs will surprise you (“Dizzy” has 11 key changes and is in four keys overall).

These 18 tracks really do give an overview of pure AM radio pop in the 60’s and is surprising durable. Roe was never an album artist, but pumped out four or so singles a year, and when one hit, then they collected up an album from sessions.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This compilation goes through 1971, but he kept cranking out singles for a few years after with little success.


 GRADE A-: A load of earworms here.

Built to Spill – The Normal Years

ARTIST: Built to Spill                  The_Normal_Years

TITLE: The Normal Years



SINGLES: Most of them were singles


LINEUP: Doug Martsch on all cuts. Andy Capps, Brett Netson, Brett Nelson, Ned Evett, and others appear on these cuts.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: K Records took all of the leftovers from Built to Spill and put this out before they hopped to a major label. It smacks of odds-and-sods.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Singles, B-sides, compilation tracks, etc. etc. It’s the usual compilation for an indie band who moves record companies. There’s good stuff, and…other stuff.

The opening cut “So & So & So & So from Wherever Wherever” starts out the collection in a promising way, with some heavily distorted and de-tuned guitars adding a crunch. A couple tracks are early versions of songs that found their way on their early albums.

You go in not expect much, and it’s just fine. There are some little gems here for the casual fans. The converted has this, no doubt, but it’s not high on their BTS rotation.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There is a cover of a song by K Records won Daniel Johnson.


GRADE C+: It’s not bad, really, for what it is. It’s not where you start, though.

Armageddon – Armageddon

ARTIST: Armageddon             Armageddon_(Armageddon_album)

TITLE: Armageddon




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, heck to the no

LINEUP: Keith Relf, Martin Pugh, Bobby Caldwell, Louis Cennamo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Keith Relf’s post-Reinassance band veered him pretty solidly into prog. It was disappointing on all fronts.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Combining Keith Relf, two blokes from Steamhammer and drummer Bobby Caldwell, Armageddon took flight and promptly crashed.

Relf’s harmonica skills seem a bit out of place, and some tracks just meander along on a repetitive riff, and others meander along with jammy proggy excess. Only a couple of tracks rise to the occasion on the dividing line between exile and a catalog slot.

This is a shame, as Relf, though he was not-at-all-well, still had some vocal prowess (though emphysema due to asthma soon took care of that), and Martin Pugh had done yeoman’s work as a studio player. But it didn’t cohere, and didn’t ring the cash register, either.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They only played two live gigs, and couldn’t tour as Relf got sicker and couldn’t sing for an extended show.


GRADE C+: “Buzzard” keeps me from chucking it all.

Heart – Little Queen

ARTIST: Heart                                              Little_Queen_Heart

TITLE: Little Queen



SINGLES: Barracuda (#11), Little Queen (#62), Kick it Out (#79), Love Alive

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not unless you had this

LINEUP: Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, Roger Fisher, Howard Leese, Steve Fossen, Michael DeRosier

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Wilson sisters and band rush released this album to capitalize on their monster hit, and it’s a diverse mix of rock, folk, and prog.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Though Magazine was to be their official second album, Ann and Nancy Wilson were rightfully angry at their record company for some shenanigans, resulting in the song “Barracuda”, a change in record company, and the old company releasing Magazine as a half-done, half-baked album.

A longer story ensues, needless to say this is the proper second album and I’m skipping Magazine for good reason.

Though most of their radio hits were hard rockin’, this second album picks up a lot of folk elements from their first, and even extends them into prog territory thanks to multi-everything Howard Leese. The diversity is impressive and instrumentally, they can pull it off.

Yet, showing some strain and some rushed out tracks, not everything works well. The second side especially shows some dreaded filler. It’s still a good record, but could have been better had they had time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They won a court order that allowed this album to be released, and they re-mixed Magazine as best they could.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a version with a demo version and a live cut from 1976.

GRADE B+: Some interesting arrangements and good rock-and-roll, but some filler drags it down.

Slade – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Slade               slade

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: All of em: Of Note: Coz I Luv You (#1 UK), Look Wot You Done (#4 UK), Take Me Back ‘Ome (*97 US, #1 UK), Mama Weer All Crazee Now (#76 US, #1 UK), Gudbuy T’Jane (#68 US, #2 UK), Cum On Feel the Noize (#98 US, #1 UK), Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me (#1 UK), My Friend Stan (#2 UK), Merry Xmas Everybody (#1 UK), Everyday (#3 UK), The Bangin’ Man (#3 UK), Far Far Away (#2 UK), My Oh My (#37 US, #3 UK), Run Runaway (#20 US, #7 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you were in the UK and were a Slade-head

LINEUP: Noddy Holder, Jim Lea, Dave Hill, Don Powell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Glam rockers, huge in the UK, barely made a ripple in the states until Quiet Riot covered them, and then they got their deserved hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Glam rock barely caused a fuss over here, except on rare occasions when singles by some artists hit the airwaves (Mott the Hoople, Sweet). No band was unjustly denied their rightful place over here more than Slade.

From mid 1971 through 1974, they released 12 singles in the UK, and every one of them hit #4 or higher, including six #1 singles. And they weren’t just copy cat hits (they did change it up a bit, honestly), they were solid songs like “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (on a K-Tel record, even) and Gudbuy T’Jane. They ran out steam and by the punk era they were off the charts.

But they had more life in the early 80’s, as two singles hit the Top 10 again n the UK and gave the band their much deserved Top 40 hits in the US.

Sure, it’s kind of simple – memorable guitar riffs, Noddy Holder shouting about something, and the band chanting and stomping all around. What’s not to like?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally, they felt the title they gave their first self-written single didn’t fit with the sound, and thus they named it “Coz I Luv You”. A career of spelling errors ensued.


GRADE A: I may have bumped this up a bit…but I mean, this is just packed with memorable shouters and bangers. What’s not to love?


Hall & Oates – Abandoned Luncheonette

ARTIST: Hall & Oates       Hall_and_Oates,_Abandoned_Luncheonette_(1973)

TITLE: Abandoned Luncheonette



SINGLES: She’s Gone (#60 US on first release; #7 US, #42 UK on re-release)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ooh…maybe Lady Rain??

LINEUP: Daryl Hall, John Oates and session hotshots like Chris Bond, Hugh McCracken, Jerry Marotta, Steve Gelfand, Bernard Purdie, and more…

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the duo finds their sweet spot in an updated blue-eyed soul sound, with a couple of tracks not working this time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Daryl Hall & John Oates moved from their hometown of Philly to New York to take in that scene and work with Arif Mardin on their album. Together, they crafted a sound that was the start of the classic Hall & Oates sound.

This collection is fine for the most part, with a couple of highlights like “Lady Rain”, and the all-timer “She’s Gone”. Oates had more tracks on this record than the usual release, and his tracks aren’t the weaker ones.

The record kind of goes off the rails at the end – with “Laughing Boy” kind of a messy solo performance by Hall (though he loved to play it in concert) and the final track which goes from blue-eyed soul to a…hoedown…for some reason. Well, just stop it after “Lady Rain” then.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This is supposedly the duo’s favorite record that they did.


GRADE B+: Wow, those last two tracks derailed it. The first seven cuts were good to great to all-timer, and then…

Kim Mitchell – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Kim Mitchell                    kimmitchell

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Most all of these songs were in Canada. He had two charting ones here: Go For Soda (#86, #12 Rock) and Patio Lanterns (#36 Rock)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not in this country, but Canadians of an age would know most of these.

LINEUP: Kim Mitchell, Pye Dubois, and a couple of different groups of musicians depending on when.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Earnest Canadian rocker’s solo career (after a stint leading Max Webster) produced some enjoyable, but not essential, 80’s rock.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Either the Trailer Park Boys or Canadian radio stations would be the only points of entry to the world of Kim Mitchell. Perhaps, like me, you remembered “Go For Soda”, which is an enjoyable piece of rock that stood out in the 80’s because of what it wasn’t – hair metal, new wave, or new romantic.

Mitchell led Max Webster, a Canadian FM radio staple in the 70’s, before starting his solo career. This collection serves as a good overview of his peak period, and while at times he can fall into Foreigner territory (especially in the ballads – ick), his straight ahead rock songs are decent enough that won’t make you skip over the tracks.

Mitchell never got a foothold in the US, as only one LP charted here, but just go north of the border and they can remember his career fondly.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: His highest charting Canadian track was “America”, which hit #3 in 1992.


GRADE B-: I don’t have strong nostalgia for him (except “Go For Soda”), but I can see why he’s still remembered up in Canada and on their version of Classic Rock radio.

James Taylor – James Taylor

ARTIST: James Taylor     James_Taylor,_James_Taylor_(1968)

TITLE: James Taylor



SINGLES: Carolina On My Mind (#118), Knocking ‘Round the Zoo, Something’s Wrong

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Something In The Way She Moves

LINEUP: James Taylor, Mick Wayne, Louie Cennamo, Freddie Redd, Don Shinn, Bishop O’Brien. Paul McCartney and George Harrison guested on one track. Richard Hewson arranged all the strings so you can blame him for those.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album on Apple Records didn’t sell and wasn’t promoted well. But it had a few lasting tracks, and others almost ruined by string interludes and syrup.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After failing to hit the big time with his band (called The Flying Machine – no, not that one), Taylor was signed as a solo artist on Apple Records after auditioning for Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Harrison nicked the first line of “Something” from a Taylor track.

When Taylor plays along with the studio musicians, and without the orchestra, it’s a perfectly nice folk-rock record. A track like “Taking It In” shows some liveliness and uses a harpsichord along with a nice bassline and acoustic guitar, while Mick Wayne’s lead in the opener “Don’t Talk Now” is strong.

BUT – dang it – Peter Asher and Richard Hewson added string interludes and a lot of syrup on tracks and in between tracks as interludes. Those wreck the continuity and detract from the intimacy of the record. Ack!

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Knockin’ Round the Zoo” references Taylor’s old bandmate Danny Kortchmar.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A few demos and a B-side were appended.

GRADE  B-: I can rescue a few tracks from this, if I can somehow zap the string interludes.

Ryan Adams – Love Is Hell

ARTIST: Ryan Adams                               220px-Love_Is_Hell

TITLE: Love Is Hell

YEAR RELEASED: 2003 / 2004

CHART ACTION: #68 UK. Pt. 1 EP #78 US, #62 UK. Pt. 2 EP #114 EP

SINGLES: Wonderwall (#27 UK)


LINEUP: Ryan Adams. He used two bands – one for NYC sessions the other for sessions in New Orleans. They included Greg Leisz, Ricky Fataar, and Ian McLagan, among others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Forced to release this set as two Eps at first, Ryan Adams creates a downer masterwork. RyanAdamsLoveIsHellpt1

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The record company said it wasn’t a commercially viable product, but they did allow Adams to release this work as two EPs. When they sold well, Lost Highway reconsidered, and released it as one unit, with the addition of one track from his prior album, although in an unexpurgated version. (There’s more to the story, I’m sure. Whenever they write a Ryan Adams book, the damn things going to be 1,000 pages due to all the stories and myths).

“Political Science” isn’t the most upbeat album opener, and throughout most of the record Adams stays pretty true to the title of his work. The title track is one of his most realized and complete songs he’s ever written, and his cover of “Wonderwall” strikes a right note.

As the music moves on, Adams tries to pull everyone out of his dolorious state, with a couple of more upbeat tracks, including “Hotel Chelsea Nights”. It’s a fine capper to a fine record that shouldn’t have been shelved in the first place. RyanAdamsLoveIsHellpt2

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Adams wrote “Shadowlands” before a concert in Belfast, and opened his show with it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Japan, of course, yet again, got bonus tracks on each EP and on the full length. Dang it.

GRADE A: He’s better when he’s contrary and bucking the system, like this.

The New Pornographers – Electric Version

ARTIST: New Pornographers                       220px-The_New_Pornographers_Electric_Version (1)

TITLE: Electric Version




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: From Blown Speakers, The Laws Have Changed

LINEUP: AC Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar, John Collins, Blaine Thurier, Kurt Dahle, Todd Fancey, Nora O’Connor

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Altrock royalties second album improves on their debut with some diversity while keeping the whimsy and camaraderie.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sure, anything with Neko Case is going to sound magical, but she’s part of a group here – a group that definitely sounds like its having fun playing songs by AC Newman and Dan Bejar.

The loose-knit collective (as in, they just get together when they can, and tour with whoever can) definitely hits its stride here. While Newman’s songs have his trademark on them, the playing by the band is such that it’s not just sidemen on a solo album. Bejar’s songs are a bit away from Destroyer as well.

The choruses are hooky, the melodies are memorable, and there’s musical twists and turns and interesting arrangements and production galore. A definite hit (except that whole sales thing…)

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Rolling Stone said this was the 79th best record of the 2000’s.


GRADE A: You can’t argue with hooks and melodies like this.