March 2015 Archives

DeepSoul: Arthur Alexander - "You Better Move On"

The Alabama-born vocalist may the best soul singer and songwriter you've never heard of.
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An unjustly overlooked R&B and rock pioneer, Arthur Alexander played a major part in shaping groups such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Compositions such as "Anna (Go to Him)," "Solider of Love," and "You Better Move On" exemplify his unique songwriting skills and expressive voice. Yet he received little recognition in America, his career ending all too abruptly with little money and a baffling lack of critical acclaim. Thankfully members of the 1960s British Invasion loved Alexander's material, covering his songs and reintroducing them to the American public. "You Better Move On," his 1962 single, is one of

Listful Thinking: Top 5 Counting Crows Songs

By request, our hero selects his Top 5 Counting Crows songs, mixing the obvious with surprises...
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It's difficult, these Top 5 lists, and that's part of what makes them fun! One of the challenges for me is whether or not I should be ruthless about it and take my Top 5 songs regardless of how representative they are of an artist's work or if I should strive for balance. Friend and BBS collaborator Stephanie encouraged me to take a swing at Counting Crows, so here it is, by request. I like all their records and love some of them. I could do Top 5 lists for several of their individual records and still leave coveted songs

Listful Thinking: Top 5 Wilco Songs

In which our hero agonizes before selecting his Top 5 Wilco songs...
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I was a little late to the Wilco bandwagon, having hopped not long after the arrival of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. That record arrived in 2001, so while I don't go back to the beginning, I suspect there are many who came on board after I already had my seat. The band has gone through numerous lineup changes over the years and now Wilco is really Jeff Tweedy's really awesome playground. He comes up with ideas and has incredible musicians capable of executing and occasionally improving upon them in the studio and on stage. I've bought every Wilco record. I've purchased

CD Review: Roger Taylor - Strange Frontier

Roger Taylor's second solo album gets the expanded treatment in this rerelease.
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Shortly after Queen released their 1984 album The Works, Roger Taylor dropped his second solo album, Strange Frontier. Like its predecessor, Fun In Space, Taylor played most of the instruments himself but, unlike that album, Strange Frontier features some notable guest appearances, including Rick Parfitt from Status Quo and all three of his Queen band mates. The CD has been rereleased in the US in expanded form. The album opens with the title track, a song that answers the question of what Taylor would sound like put through a Bruce Springsteen filter. The song builds in intensity from its mellow

CD Review: Roger Taylor - Fun In Space

The Queen drummer's vastly underrated first solo album is available once again in expanded form.
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While much of the focus with Queen has been on their iconic front man, the late Freddie Mercury and, to a lesser degree, their bombastic guitarist Brian May, the band's secret weapon has arguably always been Roger Taylor. From his trademark harmonies (Who else could sing the high harmony to Mercury?) to penning some of the band's biggest hits to his own underrated tracks on many of their albums, Queen's drummer is a crucial ingredient in the band's sound. A prolific writer, Taylor began stockpiling songs that were either not used by or deemed unfit for the band for one

A Kite Blowing Out Of Control On The Breeze...

A different kind of goodbye...
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The mother of a friend passed away unexpectedly this week, days after being celebrated by family at a wonderful surprise party for her 80th birthday, and I attended a memorial service in her honor yesterday. I found myself moved by the observance, which isn't the typical reaction I have in these sorts of moments and I suspect that's true for most of you, although these things hit us all differently. I only met his mom a few times so I was there more as an onlooker. I learned about her life from the stories shared by those who spoke and

SDBlu-ray Review: Live At Knebworth

Live at Knebworth has been called "the best British rock concert of all time."
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On June 30, 1990, a who's who of British rock royalty gathered at the Knebworth House in Hertsfordshire, England for a concert benefitting Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and The Brit School for the Performing Arts. The lineup, which was made up of prior recipients of the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Cleff award didn't disappoint. Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, Elton John, Phil Collins -- both solo and with Genesis -- Dire Straits, Tears for Fears, Cliff Richard & The Shadows and Status Quo made up the bill, making for a memorable day. The footage has been newly restored and is

Toad The Wet Sprocket - Life Is Beautiful

...in which our hero fights to reclaim hope...
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I've shared a few pages of my story in some of the recent work I've contributed since my return to BlindedBySound and I'm not sure how I feel about sharing it with friends and strangers but writing about music, for me, is more than time signatures, chord changes, riffs, hooks, and descending melodies. It's about the stories, including my own. It's about the life's work of building a soundtrack that tells my story, a playlist that reminds me of life's possibilities and that has meant overcoming the barriers to being vulnerable. One of my favorite things in life are its

Review: William Elliot Whitmore - "Healing To Do"

William Elliot Whitmore in top form on brand new single...
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William Elliott Whitmore has been my musical obsession for about five years, now. He fell into my lap back in my Turntable.fm days, one listen of that gravelly, bluesy voice and I was hooked. While I cut my teeth on "Animals in the Dark" and "Field Songs" I was struck by the contrast between the two. One was aggressive, unapologetic, pissed off and rude, while "Field Songs" was more a reflective, introspective, resigned to its fate piece. This forced me to research back some to see which is more the "true" WEW and I have realized they both are. I

DeepSoul: "Uptown Funk!" A Guided Tour of 1970s and 1980s Funk

Let DeepSoul take you on a guided tour of "Uptown Funk's!" odes to 1970s and 1980s funk.
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The year's biggest hit so far, Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk!" may be more accurately titled "Ode to 1970s and 1980s Funk." From the instrumentation to the lyrics to Bruno Mars' vocals, the track pays tribute to groundbreaking artists and songs from the height of the funk era. This week's DeepSoul takes you on a guided tour of "Uptown Funk!" pointing out areas of interest and their origins. 00:00-00:16 (Introduction): The scratchy guitar riff, robotic-sounding bass line, and hard-hitting beat recall Zapp & Roger's 1980 hit "More Bounce to the Ounce." An offshoot of George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic empire, Zapp was headed

Listful Thinking: Top 5 Pearl Jam Songs

Grunge Week at Blinded By Sound, Vol 5: Pearl Jam
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Pearl Jam was easily the most difficult band to condense to five songs owing to the fact they have easily the deepest discography of the Seattle bands. They went through a succession of drummers and had some bumps along the way but never disbanded and rarely took extended breaks. Pearl Jam remained the top musical priority of the four founding members who remain at the band's core. Because this was such a difficult list to compile, I expect to get CRUSHED by Pearl Jam fans for the songs I selected and those I didn't. Similar to what I said with

Listful Thinking: Top 5 Soundgarden Songs

Grunge Week at Blinded By Sound, Vol 4: Soundgarden
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Soundgarden would at times dominate my listening but never held the title as being my favorite of the so-called Grunge bands. I always liked them and they never fell out of favor but they never reached the summit with me. Soundgarden and Pearl Jam were the most obviously influenced by classic rock. They remind me of Black Sabbath's music with Zeppelin's frontman, stirred with a bit of King Crimson to get that prog rock influence that lurks. I may get some stick for not referencing their earlier works and that's probably fair. Loud As Love is a good record and

Listful Thinking: Top 5 Nirvana Songs

Grunge Week at Blinded By Sound, Vol 3: Nirvana
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Grunge Week continues with the torchbearers of the movement, the mighty Nirvana. I don't have to spend much time explaining the impact this band had on the world or their legacy; it's unassailable. I am consistently reminded they are even better than we think they are when I return to the records. There was so much hype and noise surrounding Kurt Cobain and the casualty too often was the art. The only thing sadder than the loss of so many great songs still to be written is the tragic loss of the life of Kurt Cobain itself. There weren't as

Living With Ghosts: Jeff Buckley - "Last Goodbye"

In which our hero wrestles with the art of almost and waxes on about the magic of Jeff Buckley...
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I was late to the Jeff Buckley party and yes, I will admit it was his masterful cover of Leonard Cohen's now painfully over-covered version of "Hallelujah" that brought me in the front door several years ago. That may have been my introduction to him but after untold hours listening obsessively to Grace, what was once my favorite song on the record has fallen halfway down the list. Great music doesn't have to change. We do that enough on our own. We continue to live and, if you're paying any attention at all, learn. We add to our experiences

Listful Thinking: Top 5 Screaming Trees Songs

Grunge Week at Blinded By Sound, Vol 2: Screaming Trees
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I said at the beginning of our Grunge Week feature that Alice in Chains is frequently my default answer for Favorite Seattle Band and they are but Screaming Trees will forever have a special place in my heart and it starts with the voice of Mark Lanegan. His work with Screaming Trees is incredible and yet he eclipsed it in his solo career and that is saying something. I've also got a special place in my heart for this band because of Barrett Martin. My love for Trees made me curious to follow what he was doing when he started

Listful Thinking: Top 5 Alice in Chains Songs

Grunge Week at Blinded By Sound, Vol 1: Alice in Chains
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Welcome to Grunge Week at BlindedBySound! It's a series within a series this week as I do my Top 5 songs from my Top 5 Seattle bands of the '90s. I'll first unveil the bands and then each day this week you'll get my Top 5 songs by them and your chance to give me yours! The bands you'll be reading about this week are Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Screaming Trees, and Soundgarden and Alice is batting leadoff. Longtime readers know I lived in the Puget Sound area at a time when these bands were becoming big in

Van Halen To Release Live Set With Roth March 31

It's not quite a reunion album but it's the first VH live album with Diamond Dave and features most of the hits!
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I don't know what has taken so long but the Van Halen "Reunion"/A Different Kind Of Truth tour is finally being documented with a live album to be released March 31, taken from their June 21 appearance at the Tokyo Dome. This is the first VH live album to feature founding frontman Diamond David Lee Roth but the bass chores were handled by Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang rather than original bassist Michael Anthony. The 25-song set will be spread across 2 CDs (also available on vinyl) and includes most of the Roth-era hits a fan would want along with

CD Review: The Jeff Austin Band - The Simple Truth

The Simple Truth by The Jeff Austin Band is one of the few recordings I have heard so far this year that rewards multiple listenings.
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The Simple Truth is the title of the surprising debut album from The Jeff Austin Band. Austin's name should be a familiar one to fans of the jam band scene, as he was a founding member of the Yonder Mountain String Boys. As a mandolin player in the YMS, Austin's affinity towards bluegrass was quite evident. And while many so-called jam bands have a deep respect for musical diversity, The Simple Truth takes that approach much further. This ten-song set spans country, power pop, bluegrass, soul, and good old rock and roll to create a gem of an album. Besides