Author: Scott Fendley

Thank You Scientist – Leave Your Light On

ARTIST: Thank You Scientist                       perils of time travel

TITLE: The Perils of Time Travel

YEAR RELEASED: 2011

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: No, it’s an EP

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I bet no.

LINEUP: Salvatore Marrano, Tom Monda, Russ Lynch, Greg Colacino, Ellis Jasenovic, Andrew Digrius, Odin Alvarez

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Modern progressive rock band throws the kitchen sink at you and…it works!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Music with a shit-ton of 16th notes, time signatures without 4’s in them, and throwing the back pages of the chord book at you – that’s Thank You Scientist in their first EP also use violins and horns along with the gutiars and keyboards you expect from a prog band.

At times, they sound a bit like fellow prog travelers Coheed and Cambria, but on this album they don’t have a dense storyline that will take 418 albums to resolve. These are just five tracks with good guitar riffs, jazz, intriguing vocals from Salvatore Marrano, excellent musicianship, and enough oddities to keep you guessing.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The bands from that rock hotspot of Montclair, New Jersey

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: A-: I don’t particularly like the drum sound, but I can live with that. This is a quite intriguing debut EP.

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Tami Lynn – Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone

ARTIST: Tami Lynn                              love is here tami lynn 2

TITLE: Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: I’m Gonna Run Away from You (#4 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mojo Hanna, That’s Understanding

LINEUP: Tami Lynn and session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Intriguing soul album half-pieced together from older tracks, and then new tracks with spoken monologues between the cuts.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This record is interesting in many ways, outside of the good to great soul music that it contains. The second side is many of Tami Lynn’s singles (or tracks she recorded as singles) dating back from 1966, with “I’m Gonna Run Away from You” belatedly hitting the charts in 1971 in the UK thanks to the Northern Soul junkies.

That gave Lynn a chance to fill out an album, and the first side is interesting as it’s some good soul slow jams, ending with a jubilant “That’s Understanding”. The tracks have monologue introductions by Lynn, talking about the stages of a love affair. love is here tami lynn

Those spoken pieces don’t add much to the tracks as far as I’m concerned, so it kind of ruins the flow of what otherwise would be a good to great soul record.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She sang backing voals for many groups in the 60’s and 70’s

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: A downgrade for the monologues, which ruin the flow.

Eric Clapton – No Reason to Cry

ARTIST: Eric Clapton             EC_No_Reason_to_Cry.jpeg

TITLE: No Reason to Cry

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: #15 US, #8 UK

SINGLES: Hello Old Friend (#24), Carnival

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sign Language

LINEUP: Eric Clapton, the Band, Yvonne Ellman, Bob Dylan, Ron Wood, Carl Radle, and so many others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Clapton rallies a bit, and makes an album that’s not boring.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Breaking out of the torpor of his previous album, Eric Clapton worked with The Band at their studio, and had a duet with Bob Dylan on the latter’s “Sign Language”. As with any duet with Dylan, Bob’s got his own rhythm, and his gruff growl and Clapton’s reedy voice (which is raspy this time around too) don’t mesh that well, but at least it’s played well by The Band.

Elsewhere, there are a couple of blues tunes, songs written by Rick Danko, and the typical laid-back shuffles that Clapton was specializing in during this time. There’s some energy here, though. I credit The Band.

It’s not a masterpiece, but at least Clapton’s on the right path here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Dylan was just hanging around, and not only growled a duet with Clapton, offered another track. Clapton passed, but Ron Wood, also hanging out, grabbed the song “Seven Days” for his solo album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: At least you won’t fall asleep here.

The Isley Brothers – The Essential Isley Brothers

ARTIST: The Isley Brothers             essential isley

TITLE: The Essential Isley Brothers

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 10: Twist and Shout (#17 US, #2 R&B, #42 UK), This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You) (#12 US, #6 R&B, #3 UK), It’s Your Thing (#2 US, #1 R&B, #30 UK), I Turned You On (#23 US, #6 R&B), Love the One You’re With (#18 US, #3 R&B), Lay Away (#54 US, #6 R&B), Pop That Thang (#24 US, #3 R&B), That Lady (#6 US, #2 R&B, #14 UK), What It Comes Down To (#55 US, #5 R&B), Summer Breeze (#60 US, #10 R&B, #16 UK), Harvest for the World (#63 US, #9 R&B, #10 UK), The Pride (#63 US, #1 R&B, #52 UK), Livin’ the Life (#40 US, #4 R&B), Take Me to the Next Phase (#1 R&B, #50 UK), I Wanna Be with You (#1 R&B), Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time to Love) (#39 US, #1 R&B), Between the Sheets (#101 US, #3 R&B, #52 UK), Down Low (Nobody Has to Know) (#4 US, #1 R&B, #23 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Shout (#47 US),

LINEUP: Ronald Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Rudolph Isley. The 1975-1985 group had Ernie Isley, Chris Jasper, and Marvin Isley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Comprehensive look at the essential hits for the venerable brother vocal / funk group.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even though “Shout” and “Twist and Shout” are well-known, those records didn’t really break the group for good. Not even Motown could, but when the vocal group added the younger brothers and in-laws to the mix, and got really funky, that’s when they had staying power.

For many years in the 70’s, they covered rock songs and made them funky and soulful, garnering hits with songs by Steven Stills, Seals & Crofts, and Eric Burdon. They lived on the R&B chart for most of the 70’s, mining a funk / disco groove with extended mixes.

They also had success with ballads, hearkening back to their Motown days, which makes for a quite diverse collection. All in all, this is a collection for those interested in the evolution of soul to funk to modern R&B.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded a few tracks with a very young Jimi Hendrix, and this collection isn’t streaming the one track that was a single from those sessions, but really, it’s not that great.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A-: I’d say this would be a definite one for the collection, but it’s kind of bloated and the sequencing’s kind of odd.

 

Journey – Evolution

ARTIST: Journey                      220px-Journey_Evolution

TITLE: Evolution

YEAR RELEASED: 1979

CHART ACTION: #20

SINGLES: Just the Same Way (#58), Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ (#16), City of the Angels, Too Late (#70)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably, since you bought it in high school.

LINEUP: Steve Perry, Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, Steve Smith

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the pop / rock version of Journey finds the band very comfortable in their persona, and wrote better songs this time around.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: To be frank, the deep cuts for Journey aren’t something of magical wonder waiting to be discovered, but on this, their second album with Steve Perry, at least they’re competently written.

This is a band you bought for the hits, and while the chart action doesn’t signify it, this definitely was and is a hit based on the songs you hear on the radio to this day. “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’” has the all time “nah nah nah nah nah” chorus that even the most curmudgeonly of classic rock resisters has to appreciate (if not sing along).

Perry is definitely more in control of this band, as he wrote or co-wrote every track ((and even got a co-writing credit on Schon’s guitar intro to “Too Late”. Perry sang lead on every track but one, as Gregg Rolie stepped away from the spotlight.

It’s a decent nostalgic classic rock record for geezers like me.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: More personnel turnover, as Aynsley Dunbar decamped for the Jefferson Starship, and former Ronnie Montrose, Jean-Luc Ponty and Focus(!) drummer Steve Smith joined.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: The fact that you sing along with the choruses is proof enough the hits are good. The filler tracks don’t suck, which is an improvement.

Waxahatchee – American Weekend

ARTIST: Waxahatchee              220px-American_Weekend_cover_art

TITLE: American Weekend

YEAR RELEASED: 2012

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Be Good

LINEUP: Katie Crutchfield

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut solo album was recorded in a bedroom and was noticed by NPR, kick starting a career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I’m not against lo-fi, but at times it seems like a big effort to listen to the tracks. Also, I’m not against bedroom recordings, as the intimacy. But again, the fidelity can be a challenge.

Katie Crutchfield’s solo project (as Waxahatchee ), overcomes those challenges by writing some damn fine tunes. The recording has quite a bit of treble, and is mastered pretty hot, but Crutchfield’s songs carry the day.

Just a guitar and a voice can make a powerful statement.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Crutchfield was a leader in the band P.S. Eliot, with her twin sister.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A: It’s the songs, excuse the fidelity.

Veruca Salt – Eight Arms to Hold You

ARTIST: Veruca Salt                            VerucaSalt-EightArmsToHoldYou

TITLE: Eight Arms to Hold You

YEAR RELEASED: 1997

CHART ACTION: #55

SINGLES: Volcano Girls (#8 Alternative, #9 Mainstream), Shutterbug (#39 Mainstream), Straight (#38 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah, it kinda tanked

LINEUP: Nina Gordon, Louise Post, Jim Shapiro, Steve Lack

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The second album curse? Nah, they did just as well as their first album, but didn’t have that breakout track.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s not like Veruca Salt tried to rewrite “Seether” 14 times, but at times that monster alternative radio smash colors this album fairly or unfairly. Nina Gordon and Louise Post, both writers and singers, didn’t really write a bad track here…

…but nothing made you sit up and go wow. Post’s vocals on her songs can get a little unhinged at times, for good and bad. Both Gordon and Post infuse each track with their harmonies and hooks. But nothing really had that monster something-or-other to make a great impact.

“Shutterbug” may be their best track here but it was an unusual choice for a single and a (very expensive) video with a definite soft / loud component and not very commercial compared to the other ‘alternative’ cuts in 1997 (but it’s a dang good track).

Track for track, it’s better than their debut, but it doesn’t have that high point, so you’re left with a record that’s just as good as their first. That’s not bad, not at all, but it ground them to a halt due to lack of sales and support.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They got to play “Shutterbug” on SNL, but since Sting was the host, he had the other musical slot so they only played one song 220px-Blow_It_Out_Your_Ass_It's_Veruca_Salt

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but they released an EP between albums called Blow It Out Your Ass, It’s Veruca Salt that’s better than both their full length albums, and has a cut (“Shimmer Like a Girl”) that should have been a huge thing (well, if people could deal with feedback, and they should). Sadly, it’s out of print and not even bonus tracked. Find it on the You Tube. 

GRADE: B: Maybe they should have kept back those four EP tracks…maybe. Anyway, it’s not that bad, really, because I know you’ve heard different.

Drivin N Cryin – Scarred but Smarter

ARTIST: Drivin N Cryin           scarred

TITLE: Scarred but Smarter

YEAR RELEASED: 1986

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Scarred but Smarter, Count the Flowers

LINEUP: Kevin Kinney, Tim Nielsen, Paul Lenz

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from the neo-Southern rocker / folker band shows promise, but is hit and miss.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Kevin Kinney’s songs were either driving rockers, or crying folkie tunes, which is how the band got their name. Kinney formed this Atlanta band soon after arriving in the city from Milwaukee and soon after got this album released after a lot of local buzz.

There’s some definite ace material here, like the title track, but Kinney’s rapid fire vocals dilute the songs power – they make it seem that the tracks blur by and they don’t sit with you since they rush onward. The sound is tinny as well – without the sonic depth the songs seem flat.

There’s enough good stuff here for fans to enjoy it, and for novices to pick and choose. After this album, they’d sign to Island and start on their road to kinda-sorta fame.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Kinney worked at a futon company and sewage treatment plant while working on his songs and forming the band.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B-: If he’d have slown down is delivery a bit, then this album would be better. Still, not bad.

 

Urge Overkill – Americruiser

ARTIST: Urge Overkill                  Urge_Overkill_-_Americruiser

TITLE: Americruiser

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Ticket to LA

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Uh, huh

LINEUP: Eddie “King” Roeser, Nash Kato, Jack Watt

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second record from Chicago alternative trio improves the sound a bit, the songs a bit, but still kind of blurs together.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a drummer change, Urge Overkill recorded their second album with Butch Vig in controls, and he and the band cleaned up their sound and corralled their influences a bit, which was sorely needed.

The one-two punch of “Ticket to LA” and “Blow Chopper” gives one hope, and those songs definitely are keepers for the band, but then the next six tracks don’t build or diversify, or are kind of half-assed (like “Empire Builder”). It’s also short, too, with eight songs that aren’t that long. King Roeser sings most of the cuts, so that also may be a change for later fans.

They’re on their way to where they’d land, but this isn’t where to start with them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Jack Watt was known as “Jaguar”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: C+: There’s enough good stuff here to make you wish there was more, and more diversity.

Rose Hill Drive – Rose Hill Drive

ARTIST: Rose Hill Drive                                                 220px-Rose_hill_drive_self-titled_album

TITLE: Rose Hill Drive

YEAR RELEASED: 2006

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None, but three of the songs were on an EP

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe not, at least not here.

LINEUP: Jacob Sproul, Daniel Spoul, Nathan Barnes

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Good old-fashioned power trio’s debut is a good old-fashioned power trio record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: To some bands, retro is just adding an old keyboard sound or the gated reverb drums. To Rose Hill Drive, their whole first album is retro, harkening back to the heady days of the Grand Funk Railroad power trio, but with a crisper, fresher sound.

Their sound was recognizable to classic rock lovers, though not many stations played them, of course. Though most of these songs could fit seamlessly on that format. Daniel Sproul’s guitar has a definite 70’s tone to it, while brother Jacob’s vocals carry the melody through, allowing Daniel’s guitars to set the color and riffs.

They sometimes fall into the same traps as the older power trios, with a bit too much jamming on a few tracks, a song about a guru, and an acoustic group of songs in the middle of the record which can provide relief but aren’t as well thought out as the more rocking numbers.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Rose Hill Drive was the street the brothers grew up on in Boulder.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B+: You don’t find many power trios running around now, but they do a good job with the group format.