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Crawlin
Crawlin
Price: $34.40
21 used & new from $14.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Marc Benno sings the blues for 1973, but it's also the first recordings of Stevie Ray Vaughan!, June 27, 2015
This review is from: Crawlin (Audio CD)
(I posted this review over a year ago on Amazon, but it was mysteriously taken down, I don't get why. Here it is again.)

Very few people will know or even remember the name of Marc Benno, unless you've listened to him as he performed in the late 60's/early 70's with such singer/songwriters like Rita Coolidge, The Doors and even Leon Russell.

After signing with A&M Records in 1970, Marc made three albums under his own name, but when this album was recorded (and never released) in late 1973, he changed it to 'Marc Benno And The Nightcrawlers', now influenced by the true blues sound now emerging from Texas and was told there was a young man there in Austin who could really play...

This album, originally titled "Crawlin'" (a nod to the backup band The Nightcrawlers) was to be his breakout, with an assembling of seasoned players - bassist Tommy McClure, drummer Doyle Bramhall, keyboardist Billy Etheridge, and a very young lead guitarist named Stevie Vaughan (no 'Ray' yet), who was the younger brother of much more well-known at the time guitarist Jimmie Vaughan and was given his first "official" shot.

Sadly, the blues as we knew it then was slowly dying on the vine. Most real blues masters artists like BB King, Lightnin' Hopkins and Albert King were put on the back burner for the more flashy louder electric sound of Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton and Paul Butterfield, which isn't a bad thing, but just much different from the originals.

When their label heard the New Orleans- and Texas-style blues instead of more pop-oriented blues-rock, they actually shelved this album and concentrated on another hot guitarist in their stable named Peter Frampton with Humble Pie - at the insistence of Benno's own manager!

This album has been sitting of the shelf for over 35 years, and finally has been released, but the sound quality is a bit muddy, and please remember, these were session songs, and never fully mastered for quality. What we have here is more of a audio document than a finished polished product. The music itself is a wonderful blues album that could have been. Benno's band (and especially Stevie) were sent packing back home to Texas. It would be several more years until Stevie would be heard again, and by that time he was more seasoned, more proficient and definitely a force to be reckoned with. But, more on that later...

(This disc also includes four bonus songs of Benno's that he recorded a year or so later in L.A. and brought back Vaughan, along with session musicans Russ Kunkel on drums, Lee Sklar on bass, Mike Utley on keyboards, Gordon DeWitty on keyboards and drummer Johnny Perez.)

7 quick album tracks and 4 bonus tracks (38 minutes total) - here's my impressions of the music, track by track:

1. Last Train - the album starts off with a very short but nevertheless early 70's-sounding blues - direct, but fun. Stevie's twang can be heard very clearly, but fades out so fast it made my head spin.

2. Coffee Cup - a very New Orleans Dr. John-tinged song, but also very stripped down - a simple guitar, drums and keyboards.

3. 8 Ball - a Vaughan-written song, and finally the reason Marc could showcase why was given his shot at A&M in the first place - a great very blues song, complete with great accompaniment with saxophone and keyboards. Over six minutes of magic, but just as the guitar magic was to begin, poof, it once again quickly faded out. (Note: Stevie would later re-record this as "Dirty Pool" from his 'Texas Flood' album - blues fans worldwide know that version.)

4. Take Me Down Easy - A CCR-sounding tune, but once again too quick, but it moves wonderfully and is almost a rocker.

5. Love Is Turnin' Green - Stevie finally comes out swinging here, as his guitar work is finally given the justice (and mic work) it deserved and Marc's voice compliments this great song, and a solo from Stevie! But Marc was no guitar slouch either, and maybe that's why they got along so well, and it shows throughout.

6. Hot Shoe Blues - 'hot' is the word here, as it picks up almost double-time and Marc's hot mic vocals jump all over as the sax the drums and the sax leap and play. This was a fun and (sadly) very very quick 2 minute jam.

7. Crawlin' - this song is the most "70's" of the album, and although it's the least "blues" sounding of the entire album, it's interesting it's also the title of the album itself. With Marc's vocals almost lost in his radio mic, it's like a jam with him almost indecipherable to hear but the music keeps on rolling. What a way to end the album, with what almost sounds like an outtake or improvised jam session in the studio. And, oddly, almost no real guitar to be found anywhere, even though it was written by Vaughan!

(the following four bonus songs were culled from the archives somewhere to showcase Marc's work almost a year later, as he was assembling another solo album after his release from A&M. He had also asked Stevie to help him out. The sound quality is much much better here as well.)

8. Friends - a great blues ballad, and Stevie plays a slide here as the song slowly gives you glimpses and Marc's magic on the piano.

9. Whole Thang - another quick less than two minute track, but you can tell Marc was getting more in touch with the blues roots he was seeking. A fun quick quiet track, with Stevie bouncing notes off the walls of the studio. It hits you and then it's gone.

10. World Keeps Spinnin' - this is the most dated and "70's" track on the disc. It's kinda awful and forgettable, as it begins sounding like a little Doobie Brothers, but goes right into almost cliched playing and the lyrics are pretty sad, too. You can almost see the lava lamps and Greg Brady of the Brady Bunch groovin' to this hip tune. Almost completely forgettable.

11. Long Ride Home - this instrumental song was a co-written and collaborative effort by Marc and Stevie, Benno merely plays rhythm guitar and stands back in awe, as you also will. It may be only 3 minutes long, but almost every second is filled with Vaughan's amazing guitar goodness, and even as it's a bonus track, it's the best track on the entire disc. The fret work is in play and you'll want to play it over and over, because it really is that good. This was Stevie's moment to finally show the world what was to come from him by the end of the decade.

In the end, I have to give this album only 3 stars.

Although Marc would later have a lengthy career in the music business, he never cracked the stardom many of his contemporaries ever did. He is (as of this writing) still a virtuoso of the blues, arranging, playing piano, and guitar with a wonderful style lost almost now to time.

That guy Stevie? Oh, he went back to Texas, hooked up with a few bands, honed his talent, and finally by 1982 he and "Double Trouble" were performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival (in which the crowd booed him with almost every song at that appearance) - and was discovered by David Bowie to perform on his 1983 album "Let's Dance." The rest, as they say, is blues history.

However, in 1973, this failed blues album was still a decent attempt, and a real first glimpse of Stevie Ray Vaughan's talent as a guitar virtuoso.

So, pick this up and check it out anyway, for the curiousity of it - but be aware of the limitations of the sound quality and length quantity. Enjoy!

(thanks for reading and please leave a vote if you did - or didn't - like my review, and don't forget to check out my other reviews here on Amazon!)


Wisdom of Old-Time Television, The: Common Sense and Uncommon Genius from the Golden Age of Television
Wisdom of Old-Time Television, The: Common Sense and Uncommon Genius from the Golden Age of Television
by Crisswell Freeman
Edition: Paperback
56 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars "The cure for fear? A little more faith.", March 31, 2015
Rod Serling said that, and never has a quote been more on the money about the luck many people got from trying their talents on early television. (This book is part of a series of books titled the "Wisdom series," with subjects as varied as stock cars to states in America to even football!)

At first, tv was a device, but it became so much more. We have to thank people like Dave Garroway, Milton Berle, Ted Mack and the mad genius of Ernie Kovacs to see the medium for more than just a device, it became a tool to learn, and to enjoy and inspire.

This book, light at 154 pages, is crammed with quotes from almost entertainer and performer from the early days of television, from Jack Benny ("If a man is stingy, he's stingy all his life") to Lawrence Welk ("Music changes, but I don't"), and the chapters are broken down by subject, from Comedy to Love to Kindness, and everyone quoted has a unique insight, some are insightful, and some are just funny too!

There have been other reviews here on Amazon that panned this book, but it very clearly written on the cover, it's wisdom from stars from the old days of early television, nothing more.

I say give it a chance, buy it, and read their quotes - these are the people who created television, and they have a lot to say on all of the subjects covered, too. You'll like it yourself!

(Thanks for reading, and if you liked it please leave a thumbs up. I have lots of other reviews on a lot of other stuff on Amazon, please feel free to check them out too! :)


Far From Any Road (Main Title Theme from "True Detective")
Far From Any Road (Main Title Theme from "True Detective")
Price: $0.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Their entire sound was stolen from another classic duet duo from over 40 years ago, but still pretty good...!, February 7, 2015
If you're over the age of 25 (which most of you aren't), then you might want to YouTube Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra's classic duets over 3 collaborative albums and a sound that still haunts after 50 years, especially since they had the use of one of the greatest guitarists EVER - the immortal Duane Eddy.

Well, this band, "The Handsome Family," have decided to re-create their sound, their lazy lyrical goodness, the echoes of both acoustic and bass guitars wailing in the background, and gave it just a little more energy then their original predecessors.

Their result is still pretty amazing, and just a touch haunting, and I commend them for their attempt to copy Hazlewood and Sinatra... but the originals sounded better and had a much more clearer delivered message of hopelessness, depression and sadness.

Sorry guys... there's nothing like the real thing.

(I encourage the reader to YouTube one H&S's last releases - a little haunting ditty called "She Won't." You'll immediately want al three of their duets albums, and you'll be so glad you did...)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 23, 2015 4:07 AM PDT


PETTY, TOM & THE HEARTBREAKERS - HYPNOTIC EYE
PETTY, TOM & THE HEARTBREAKERS - HYPNOTIC EYE
5 used & new from $15.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Tom Petty meets the 21st Century, and reaches back to his roots..., July 29, 2014
Tom Petty didn't need to do this. He and his group, The Heartbreakers, have so many hits in the can they didn't need to create anything new and be comfortable for the rest of their lives. But it's artists just like Petty who get that itch and it needs to be scratched, and with their 13th studio album (and their first since 2010's "Mojo,") Petty is following today's trends and looking back at his very first two albums, realizing they were great and returned to the style they know best - straightforward rock and roll.

Younger and hungrier musicians would approach the making of an album with low-fidelity, analog recording and other tricks best reserved for the amateur or the foolish, with the end result being longshots that may ultimately go nowhere. Petty took an old formula that was right there on the shelf and re-created his own version of lightning. This album took two years to make, and the perfection, sloppy as it sounds (as if on purpose), is present.

Here's my 30-second from the gut review of each song - 11 tracks at just over 44 minutes:

1. American Dream Plan B - as this was released as a CD single in June 2014 with a $2.00 discount coupon towards the album itself, Petty is still shaking the tree and telling the music industry they still stink. "My success is anybody’s guess, but like a fool, I’m bettin’ on happiness" are the truest words on this album. A great opener.

2. Fault Lines - introspective lyrics pepper this Petty of 2014, and he's got enough guilt of his own thank you very much. Great guitar work by Mike Campbell on lead guitar and Scott Thurston take us to the subtle vibrations under the floorboards. It's a little gritty and unfinished, and it's great. Which takes us right into

3. Red River - traveling and moving, she's dodging karma as much as possible and as crafty as she can, but you just can't outrun your fate. Tom wants you to meet him, and he has a solution. More wonderful guitar work by Petty and Campbell.

4. Full Grown Boy - an almost jazzy down-tempo relaxing number, and Petty's telling you about growth, and stretching out, and it's not such a bad thing to make time for yourself and contemplate the world. Nice bit of music here.

5. All You Can Carry - a good old fashioned jam to wash out the taste of the previous slow jam. Sometimes you've got to be ready to go when the disaster strikes, even though it's the kind that doesn't leave a mark on the street.

6. Power Drunk - is this about former President George Bush? Seems like it, because he sings about the man who left so much damage behind because he was on a power trip, and now the "good man" has to clean up the mess left behind. Interesting song.

7. Forgotten Man - another song released early in July 2014. It has an old-fashioned vibe to it, and it's stripped back from all of the wild sounds of previous albums. Guilt still reigns supreme though, but the guitar solo gives an authority to Petty's words. I liked it!

8. Sins Of My Youth - another slow burner, and definitely designed to make the listener hear all the confessions of Petty's lyrics. "I love you more than the sins of my youth," he says, and truer words could never be spoken.

9. U Get Me High - using LOL-type texting to serve as modern, he lets go a bit here and swings out as he once again puts his heart on his sleeve. More rocking from the lads, and it's polished and plays as Petty wants it to be - fun and jamming.

10. Burnt Out Town - a bluesy number, and is a cool jam with hot nights, dirty looks, and a bar band vibe page torn right out of The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" book. It still works for me, though, because Petty puts his own spin on it.

11. Shadow People - move over Don Henley's "A Month of Sundays," here's the new old man "get off my porch" song for the new Millennium. This final song on the album is slow, sexy, and the lyrics burn hot with an older man's perspective, from gun rights to Judgment Day. The song is a definite departure however, and is a real radical statement. What a way to end an album, with a real viewpoint about today's politics, and where we are, in "Shadowland," not here, and not there.

12. Playin' Dumb (Vinyl, digital and Blu-Ray bonus track) - I'm glad Petty did NOT include this on this album. It's a serious criticism against the Catholic Church to be sure (he was raised Baptist). He really let's the church have it - he sings to light a candle for "every confession that wasn't on the level, for every man of God that lives with hidden devils..." Tough stuff, and he has his opinions, but wow... Petty has even said in interviews he didn't know where to "place" the song within the framework. I'm so glad he omitted this.

After taking the time to listen, as Petty is almost 15 years older than me, and I understand where his ideas and inspirations are coming from. I wanted to give this album 5 stars. Is this his best album to date? No it isn't, and it's flawed, but that's okay, so I'm giving the album 4 stars.

His attempt to go back to his roots are admirable, but his seasoning and his experience overshadow his 1979 self. He was angry and hungry then, and had major problems with his first record label when he debuted, but now he's more relaxed, and more introspective, which is fine. It translates well here. I just think he missed the mark by that much, though.

I still love his music, but he is the Tom Petty of now, and it shows.

(thanks for reading my review - please leave a vote if you liked it or not, and please also comment if you'd like! Also, please check out my other reviews right here on Amazon!)


Hypnotic Eye
Hypnotic Eye
Price: $11.88
104 used & new from $4.58

129 of 147 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tom Petty meets the 21st Century, and reaches back to his roots..., July 29, 2014
This review is from: Hypnotic Eye (Audio CD)
Tom Petty didn't need to do this. He and his group, The Heartbreakers, have so many hits in the can they didn't need to create anything new and be comfortable for the rest of their lives. But it's artists just like Petty who get that itch and it needs to be scratched, and with their 13th studio album (and their first since 2010's "Mojo,") Petty is following today's trends and looking back at his very first two albums, realizing they were great and returned to the style they know best - straightforward rock and roll.

Younger and hungrier musicians would approach the making of an album with low-fidelity, analog recording and other tricks best reserved for the amateur or the foolish, with the end result being longshots that may ultimately go nowhere. Petty took an old formula that was right there on the shelf and re-created his own version of lightning. This album took two years to make, and the perfection, sloppy as it sounds (as if on purpose), is present.

Here's my 30-second from the gut review of each song - 11 tracks at just over 44 minutes:

1. American Dream Plan B - as this was released as a CD single in June 2014 with a $2.00 discount coupon towards the album itself, Petty is still shaking the tree and telling the music industry they still stink. "My success is anybody’s guess, but like a fool, I’m bettin’ on happiness" are the truest words on this album. A great opener.

2. Fault Lines - introspective lyrics pepper this Petty of 2014, and he's got enough guilt of his own thank you very much. Great guitar work by Mike Campbell on lead guitar and Scott Thurston take us to the subtle vibrations under the floorboards. It's a little gritty and unfinished, and it's great. Which takes us right into

3. Red River - traveling and moving, she's dodging karma as much as possible and as crafty as she can, but you just can't outrun your fate. Tom wants you to meet him, and he has a solution. More wonderful guitar work by Petty and Campbell.

4. Full Grown Boy - an almost jazzy down-tempo relaxing number, and Petty's telling you about growth, and stretching out, and it's not such a bad thing to make time for yourself and contemplate the world. Nice bit of music here.

5. All You Can Carry - a good old fashioned jam to wash out the taste of the previous slow jam. Sometimes you've got to be ready to go when the disaster strikes, even though it's the kind that doesn't leave a mark on the street.

6. Power Drunk - is this about former President George Bush? Seems like it, because he sings about the man who left so much damage behind because he was on a power trip, and now the "good man" has to clean up the mess left behind. Interesting song.

7. Forgotten Man - another song released early in July 2014. It has an old-fashioned vibe to it, and it's stripped back from all of the wild sounds of previous albums. Guilt still reigns supreme though, but the guitar solo gives an authority to Petty's words. I liked it!

8. Sins Of My Youth - another slow burner, and definitely designed to make the listener hear all the confessions of Petty's lyrics. "I love you more than the sins of my youth," he says, and truer words could never be spoken.

9. U Get Me High - using LOL-type texting to serve as modern, he lets go a bit here and swings out as he once again puts his heart on his sleeve. More rocking from the lads, and it's polished and plays as Petty wants it to be - fun and jamming.

10. Burnt Out Town - a bluesy number, and is a cool jam with hot nights, dirty looks, and a bar band vibe page torn right out of The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" book. It still works for me, though, because Petty puts his own spin on it.

11. Shadow People - move over Don Henley's "A Month of Sundays," here's the new old man "get off my porch" song for the new Millennium. This final song on the album is slow, sexy, and the lyrics burn hot with an older man's perspective, from gun rights to Judgment Day. The song is a definite departure however, and is a real radical statement. What a way to end an album, with a real viewpoint about today's politics, and where we are, in "Shadowland," not here, and not there.

12. Playin' Dumb (Vinyl, digital and Blu-Ray bonus track) - I'm glad Petty did NOT include this on this album. It's a serious criticism against the Catholic Church to be sure (he was raised Baptist). He really let's the church have it - he sings to light a candle for "every confession that wasn't on the level, for every man of God that lives with hidden devils..." Tough stuff, and he has his opinions, but wow... Petty has even said in interviews he didn't know where to "place" the song within the framework. I'm so glad he omitted this.

After taking the time to listen, as Petty is almost 15 years older than me, and I understand where his ideas and inspirations are coming from. I wanted to give this album 5 stars. Is this his best album to date? No it isn't, and it's flawed, but that's okay, so I'm giving the album 4 stars.

His attempt to go back to his roots are admirable, but his seasoning and his experience overshadow his 1979 self. He was angry and hungry then, and had major problems with his first record label when he debuted, but now he's more relaxed, and more introspective, which is fine. It translates well here. I just think he missed the mark by that much, though.

I still love his music, but he is the Tom Petty of now, and it shows.

(thanks for reading my review - please leave a vote if you liked it or not, and please also comment if you'd like! Also, please check out my other reviews right here on Amazon!)
Comment Comments (36) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2015 9:05 PM PST


Shutup & Jam!
Shutup & Jam!
Price: $49.20
3 used & new from $49.20

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Lo-Fi Sound of Ted Nugent, With A Message Heard Many Times Before... Or Too Much..., July 27, 2014
This review is from: Shutup & Jam! (Vinyl)
Ted Nugent refuses to change, and the more you push, the more he won't budge. He is proud to be an American (and especially from Detroit), and loves his hunting, and his ranch, and his weapons, and his many pricey speaking engagements to let us all know that. Once Nugent was an amazing rocker, and his first 7 or 8 albums, depending on who you ask, are classic rock gold. The last time I liked him was the polarizing 1989 album "If You Can't Lick 'Em... Lick 'Em" album, which found me at a time when real rock was dying, hair bands were the plague and alternative music was waiting around the corner. Depending on who you ask, they either hated "Lick 'Em" or not.

Which is what Nugent is all about, unrelenting rock and roll, and since the early 2000's, a proud American who performs proud rock and roll. This is his first album since 2007′s "Love Grenade," and based on the opinions here on Amazon, it is just as polarizing.

But here's the question: do you think Nugent cares what the critics think, or what people like me think? He plays rock and roll, he is a solo guitarist, he is rich and he makes albums whenever he wants. Oh yes, I forgot - he's an American. (This point will become very obvious as you listen to the album.) In the liner notes Nugent makes it clear he has chosen to go lo-fi - vintage equipment, and even more directly, a more vintage analog sound. To me it's one of his best 'sounding,' as it has that old-timey "let's just get out there and have fun and blow the doors off this place" kind of feeling.

Here's my gut feelings about the following 13 songs at just under 47 minutes - VERY short:

01. Shutup&Jam! - A pretty straightforward rocker, but his subject matter - shutting up and jamming - would work for me better if I was drunk in front of the ol' fire pit and chanting U-S-A while watching 18 year-old girls mud wrestling at Sturgis. Other than that, I doubt this will get played much on regular radio. It also got very repetitive, lyrically. But maybe that's part of it's appeal to the same said fire-pit folks.

02. Fear Itself - The repeated chrous of saying "I got nuthin' to fear but fear itself" sounds great, but if I was a multi-millionaire on a hundred acre ranch with barbed wire all over, 24-hour security and lots of weapons handy, I wouldn't fear much either. Now on the south side of Chicago, where I live? His talk is very cheap, and his lyrics fall pretty flat, but I'm not the demographic he's playing for. I could've been once, I think. I do like the rock groove here, though, it is kinda fun.

03. Everything Matters - this song gave me a bit of a bluesy 1970's feel at first, but then longtime collaborator Derek St. Holmes chimes in with his staccato singing and amazing guitar work. This is complete throwback to the 1980's but so worth it to hear Derek firing off riffs like so much sweat. A great track and really one of the highlights of the album!

04. She's Gone - Sammy Hagar jumps in on this song about a girl who's gone and she's "working the streets"... nice, but Ted doesn't seem to care all that much about his ex-girlfriend/new prostitute. This sounds more like an outtake from an aborted Van Halen album than anything else, but the guitarwork is fun and has a lot of energy to it.

05. Never Stop Believing - is this a ballad? No, it's not! But it's a great straightforward song - plenty of inspirational lyrics, and it's just jam-packed with positive-reinforcement, for sure. He references soldiers making sacrifices, climbing mountains and Martin Luther King within 6 minutes, which is a pretty good feat, and the guitar and St.Holmes with backing vocals helps along great.

06. I Still Believe - for a man pushing his mid-60's, he is very much alive, and his patriotism is on display full-bore here, with flags waving, Detroit (his hometown), America, America and did I mention he mentions America... a lot? I wished he felt so strongly this way when he "deferred" from proudly serving this country in the VietNam War back in the late 1960's and again in the 1970's. America... indeed!

07. I Love My BBQ - Ted lets me know that barbecuing is "American" and "I'll get a beer for you." I thought Nugent was a fan of sobriety and drug abstination? This whole song is about barbecue, and the American-ness of it, and drinking beer around it. I definitely love some smoked beef or pork ribs, and he definitely appeals to my base instincts... It works for me, and since he is a massive proponent of hunting, everyone who hunts will LOVE this song - and that's the point.

08. Throttledown - A quick 4 minute instrumental jam thrown in here to remind you that Ted can slay the guitar, and yes he still can! I loved this, because this is the Ted Nugent I really like - unrelentless rock, dialed up to 11, and perfect rock and roll. This is a real glimmer of what Ted once was and still can be.

09. Do-Rags And A .45 - it's a simple song, and it's music for gangs and bikers. Detroit is featured and protecting his "brothers" from the "animals on the street" speaks volumes. Enough said.

10. Screaming Eagles - like the man said, call your vigilante group and give them a name like this, and then go out and get the people you think are no good. He mentions mace, handcuffs and nightsticks and laces it with great riffs. Unbelievable.

11. Semper Fi - using the Marines' creed to sell records kinda stinks. Knowing what we all know about him not serving in the military out of fear, how can I listen to this and feel great about the many catchphrases he tosses in between guitar licks to tell me that this creed, sacred to a Marine, used by him in song isn't kinda insulting to them? I was in the Army myself, and even this made me cringe a little.

12. Trample The Weak Hurdle The Dead - he dislikes war, and he makes sure he lets us know that it sucks, but his endless chorus of the song's title tells me he likes singing it more than putting up a peace sign instead.

13. Never Stop Believing (Blues) - In this 6 minutes, Ted takes us through a bluesy version of the rocker of track 5, and to be honest is much more fun than the original version. Too bad he's copying the 1992 business model of Aerosmith and their rock/blues ballads - this sounds like too much like "Crazy" or "Amazing," with Ted as guest vocalist and giving Steven Tyler a much much needed break from the mike.

In the end, due to very wobbly lyrics, but still some of the most amazing guitar work after all these years, I have to give the album 3 stars.

I love Ted's playing, and I love his musicality, and I can see him in my top 20 of the great steady guitarists of all time. But his lyrics? Stunted, overwrought, underthought, and there just wasn't any real depth to them.

Yes, it's no "Wango Tango," and it sure isn't anywhere near "Stranglehold," but the lyrics held me back quite a bit.

If you like Charlie Daniels, and if you can handle that kind of arrested development, you'll like 2014's Ted Nugent. But the Nugent of 1979 would be hard pressed to want to jam with the Nugent of now.

(Thanks for reading, and if you liked my review - or not - please check out my other reviews on Amazon! Also please don't forget to leave me a thumbs up or down!)


ShutUp&Jam!
ShutUp&Jam!
Offered by Doremi Music USA
Price: $11.78
54 used & new from $6.99

13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Lo-Fi Sound of Ted Nugent, With A Message Heard Many Times Before... Or Too Much..., July 27, 2014
This review is from: ShutUp&Jam! (Audio CD)
Ted Nugent refuses to change, and the more you push, the more he won't budge. He is proud to be an American (and especially from Detroit), and loves his hunting, and his ranch, and his weapons, and his many pricey speaking engagements to let us all know that. Once Nugent was an amazing rocker, and his first 7 or 8 albums, depending on who you ask, are classic rock gold. The last time I liked him was the polarizing 1989 album "If You Can't Lick 'Em... Lick 'Em" album, which found me at a time when real rock was dying, hair bands were the plague and alternative music was waiting around the corner. Depending on who you ask, they either hated "Lick 'Em" or not.

Which is what Nugent is all about, unrelenting rock and roll, and since the early 2000's, a proud American who performs proud rock and roll. This is his first album since 2007′s "Love Grenade," and based on the opinions here on Amazon, it is just as polarizing.

But here's the question: do you think Nugent cares what the critics think, or what people like me think? He plays rock and roll, he is a solo guitarist, he is rich and he makes albums whenever he wants. Oh yes, I forgot - he's an American. (This point will become very obvious as you listen to the album.) In the liner notes Nugent makes it clear he has chosen to go lo-fi - vintage equipment, and even more directly, a more vintage analog sound. To me it's one of his best 'sounding,' as it has that old-timey "let's just get out there and have fun and blow the doors off this place" kind of feeling.

Here's my gut feelings about the following 13 songs at just under 47 minutes - VERY short:

01. Shutup&Jam! - A pretty straightforward rocker, but his subject matter - shutting up and jamming - would work for me better if I was drunk in front of the ol' fire pit and chanting U-S-A while watching 18 year-old girls mud wrestling at Sturgis. Other than that, I doubt this will get played much on regular radio. It also got very repetitive, lyrically. But maybe that's part of it's appeal to the same said fire-pit folks.

02. Fear Itself - The repeated chrous of saying "I got nuthin' to fear but fear itself" sounds great, but if I was a multi-millionaire on a hundred acre ranch with barbed wire all over, 24-hour security and lots of weapons handy, I wouldn't fear much either. Now on the south side of Chicago, where I live? His talk is very cheap, and his lyrics fall pretty flat, but I'm not the demographic he's playing for. I could've been once, I think. I do like the rock groove here, though, it is kinda fun.

03. Everything Matters - this song gave me a bit of a bluesy 1970's feel at first, but then longtime collaborator Derek St. Holmes chimes in with his staccato singing and amazing guitar work. This is complete throwback to the 1980's but so worth it to hear Derek firing off riffs like so much sweat. A great track and really one of the highlights of the album!

04. She's Gone - Sammy Hagar jumps in on this song about a girl who's gone and she's "working the streets"... nice, but Ted doesn't seem to care all that much about his ex-girlfriend/new prostitute. This sounds more like an outtake from an aborted Van Halen album than anything else, but the guitarwork is fun and has a lot of energy to it.

05. Never Stop Believing - is this a ballad? No, it's not! But it's a great straightforward song - plenty of inspirational lyrics, and it's just jam-packed with positive-reinforcement, for sure. He references soldiers making sacrifices, climbing mountains and Martin Luther King within 6 minutes, which is a pretty good feat, and the guitar and St.Holmes with backing vocals helps along great.

06. I Still Believe - for a man pushing his mid-60's, he is very much alive, and his patriotism is on display full-bore here, with flags waving, Detroit (his hometown), America, America and did I mention he mentions America... a lot? I wished he felt so strongly this way when he "deferred" from proudly serving this country in the VietNam War back in the late 1960's and again in the 1970's. America... indeed!

07. I Love My BBQ - Ted lets me know that barbecuing is "American" and "I'll get a beer for you." I thought Nugent was a fan of sobriety and drug abstination? This whole song is about barbecue, and the American-ness of it, and drinking beer around it. I definitely love some smoked beef or pork ribs, and he definitely appeals to my base instincts... It works for me, and since he is a massive proponent of hunting, everyone who hunts will LOVE this song - and that's the point.

08. Throttledown - A quick 4 minute instrumental jam thrown in here to remind you that Ted can slay the guitar, and yes he still can! I loved this, because this is the Ted Nugent I really like - unrelentless rock, dialed up to 11, and perfect rock and roll. This is a real glimmer of what Ted once was and still can be.

09. Do-Rags And A .45 - it's a simple song, and it's music for gangs and bikers. Detroit is featured and protecting his "brothers" from the "animals on the street" speaks volumes. Enough said.

10. Screaming Eagles - like the man said, call your vigilante group and give them a name like this, and then go out and get the people you think are no good. He mentions mace, handcuffs and nightsticks and laces it with great riffs. Unbelievable.

11. Semper Fi - using the Marines' creed to sell records kinda stinks. Knowing what we all know about him not serving in the military out of fear, how can I listen to this and feel great about the many catchphrases he tosses in between guitar licks to tell me that this creed, sacred to a Marine, used by him in song isn't kinda insulting to them? I was in the Army myself, and even this made me cringe a little.

12. Trample The Weak Hurdle The Dead - he dislikes war, and he makes sure he lets us know that it sucks, but his endless chorus of the song's title tells me he likes singing it more than putting up a peace sign instead.

13. Never Stop Believing (Blues) - In this 6 minutes, Ted takes us through a bluesy version of the rocker of track 5, and to be honest is much more fun than the original version. Too bad he's copying the 1992 business model of Aerosmith and their rock/blues ballads - this sounds like too much like "Crazy" or "Amazing," with Ted as guest vocalist and giving Steven Tyler a much much needed break from the mike.

In the end, due to very wobbly lyrics, but still some of the most amazing guitar work after all these years, I have to give the album 3 stars.

I love Ted's playing, and I love his musicality, and I can see him in my top 20 of the great steady guitarists of all time. But his lyrics? Stunted, overwrought, underthought, and there just wasn't any real depth to them.

Yes, it's no "Wango Tango," and it sure isn't anywhere near "Stranglehold," but the lyrics held me back quite a bit.

If you like Charlie Daniels, and if you can handle that kind of arrested development, you'll like 2014's Ted Nugent. But the Nugent of 1979 would be hard pressed to want to jam with the Nugent of now.

(Thanks for reading, and if you liked my review - or not - please check out my other reviews on Amazon! Also please don't forget to leave me a thumbs up or down!)
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 17, 2014 6:44 PM PDT


Now (Chicago Xxxvi)
Now (Chicago Xxxvi)
Price: $9.49

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The horns are back, and with a much fresher NOW approach too!, July 8, 2014
This review is from: Now (Chicago Xxxvi) (MP3 Music)
Veteran rock giants Chicago, who haven't put out a full album since 2006's Chicago XXX, have approached their new album “NOW” in a way most indie bands are now doing it - on the cuff, in the true spirit of the moment. Their approach, through giving members actual producer credit (Walfredo Reyes, Jr. and Lou Pardini in particular), and also through their playing and helping in the process of creation only further showcases their need to create a "real-time" approach to their album, and believe me, it succeeds.

Lee Loughnane's on-the-road customized recording system called “the Rig” traveled with the band in the last year or so. The album itself was put together in pieces all over the world while they were on tour most of 2013, from Spokane to New Jersey and from many other places all over the world. Because of this, and because every band member was involved with it's production at one point or another, everyone received a “supervising producer” credit for their work.

Producer Hank Linderman, back at their home base, became the “coordinating producer” by taking every recording they made and pieced it all together, using a private online collaboration portal, which gave him the opportunity to "stitch" together everything, which must have been a monumental task, but once it all came together, this was the result, and I'll be the first to say it's as fresh as Chicago has ever sounded.

And, I must add, the wonderful horn section, often dulled or dimmed in past projects, is on fire on this album, and they are back strong! The winning combination of veterans Robert Lamm, Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider and new member Lee Thornburg on trumpet only serves as a real compliment to Lamm's vocals and with many of the members contributing writing credits as well.

This is the Chicago of old in a wonderful shiny new package, and it's nothing short of phenomenal.

Here's my 1 minute review of each song as I heard , straight from the gut - 11 tracks at just over 50 minutes:

1. Now - Yes, the horns are back - finally! The world is crazy, but the music presented here is stronger than ever. Excellent vocals are featured here in this strong opener.

2. More Will Be Revealed - More horns, am I dreaming? A relationship only grows through shared experiences together. This song effortlessly gels the wondrous mission of making you feel good about doing just that.

3. America - there's nothing wrong with being patriotic, but there's also nothing wrong with being critical of it's leaders and what our real rights are. This is the first political song I've heard from them in YEARS, and I'm glad they have the strength to come around and see what they once were - a real voice for protest through music.

4. Crazy Happy - wonderful drum work by Tris Imboden on this song as the conflict of friends versus lovers plays out, and in the end the heart always knows best, and it is a crazy sometimes happy choice we have to make.

5. Free at Last - the horns are back in full swing again in a song written (and sung) by guitarist Keith Howland, Imboden, and singer Lamm, their joy at being "free at last" at being sober, finding love and the fulfillment of life itself sounds so - joyous! I'm really happy about this song too, it really marks the closest they have gotten since their aborted "lost" 1994 album "Stone of Sisyphus" the real magic of Chicago is highlighted here - excellent writing, tight musicality and quick tempo breaks, and oh yeah, a real happiness in their sound. This is one of the best tracks on the album!

6. Love Lives On - the first ballad of the album, and it's just great. Love lost, memories of what might have been, and memories of what is and could have been, too. The lyrics speak for themselves, "With or without people in it, the path it follows has no limit, in everything we do." This is really nice and easy, but jumps right into...

7. Something's Coming, I Know - It's karma, plain and simple. You give what you get, and this is just a warning, hope you're willing to heed it. Don't forget, it affects everyone around you, too. Very low key sound, nothing powerful, but Lamm's vocals are a surety that you're gonna find out if you keep sticking your hand in the fire.

8. Watching All the Colors - some people can smell colors, some people can see sound. This song brings those kinds of feelings out, of old sights and sounds and remembrances past. A very mellow song.

9. Nice Girl - Jason Scheff, songwriter and member since 1985 (and the replacement for Peter Cetera, good luck with that, Pete), showcases his writing here about a "nice girl" that deserves better, and pushing her boundaries might just push her away. A quick song, that goes right into...

10. Naked in the Garden of Allah - this Middle Eastern-influenced song borders on Madonna territory, but this is a good thing - sometimes you have to go into a different direction to re-establish your path. This song has been widely available as a preview for listening since it was released on their website since April 2013, and I'm going to put it out there - this is a very political song about America's perceptions about the rest of the world, and in turn the rest of the world's view of "artless, violent, poison, broken" America. Very interesting.

11. Another Trippy Day - producer and "mixologist" John Van Eps, who is famous (infamous?) for the polarizing 2012 album "Robert Lamm Songs: The JVE ReMixes" (a remix album of Lamm-penned Chicago songs? wow, check that out) not only helps out in the writing department, but also assists in transforming the last song on the album into quite the listening experience, and it seems a little off for an album that up until this point had such promise of being a complete winner for me. It seems out of touch with the feel of the rest of the album, but since Van Eps and Lamm are buddies, maybe there was something in the water that somehow allowed the rest of the band to let this stay? It's a real downer ending to the previous 10 songs, and I'm a bit disappointed with it. It just doesn't fit. Period.

(on the Japanese edition, there's a bonus track)

12 - Introduction (Live) - this was obviously recorded live, and has been their opening song for many dates over the last several years. A wonderful gel of drums, horns and vocals. It reminds me so much of the 1970's-era Chicago, with that perfect blend of what they're famous for.

So, in the end, despite the final song on the album, I will still give the new, now and improved Chicago 5 glorious stars.

How can I say thumbs down to infectious rhythms, great lyrics, and a classic horn section that I've been listening to since I was 10? (that was 40 years ago, folks... I know, I'm an oldie.) I say pick up a copy, because they can still re-invent the rock and adult contemporary wheel using 21st Century tech, and I'm all for it!

(Thanks for reading, and please don't forget to leave a comment or a vote if you're so inclined - also, please check out my other reviews right here on Amazon!)


Now - Chicago XXXVI
Now - Chicago XXXVI
Offered by Uni-Media Outlet
Price: $9.50
65 used & new from $4.90

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The horns are back, and with a much fresher NOW approach too!, July 8, 2014
This review is from: Now - Chicago XXXVI (Audio CD)
Veteran rock giants Chicago, who haven't put out a full album since 2006's Chicago XXX, have approached their new album “NOW” in a way most indie bands are now doing it - on the cuff, in the true spirit of the moment. Their approach, through giving members actual producer credit (Walfredo Reyes, Jr. and Lou Pardini in particular), and also through their playing and helping in the process of creation only further showcases their need to create a "real-time" approach to their album, and believe me, it succeeds.

Lee Loughnane's on-the-road customized recording system called “the Rig” traveled with the band in the last year or so. The album itself was put together in pieces all over the world while they were on tour most of 2013, from Spokane to New Jersey and from many other places all over the world. Because of this, and because every band member was involved with it's production at one point or another, everyone received a “supervising producer” credit for their work.

Producer Hank Linderman, back at their home base, became the “coordinating producer” by taking every recording they made and pieced it all together, using a private online collaboration portal, which gave him the opportunity to "stitch" together everything, which must have been a monumental task, but once it all came together, this was the result, and I'll be the first to say it's as fresh as Chicago has ever sounded.

And, I must add, the wonderful horn section, often dulled or dimmed in past projects, is on fire on this album, and they are back strong! The winning combination of veterans Robert Lamm, Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider and new member Lee Thornburg on trumpet only serves as a real compliment to Lamm's vocals and with many of the members contributing writing credits as well.

This is the Chicago of old in a wonderful shiny new package, and it's nothing short of phenomenal.

Here's my 1 minute review of each song as I heard , straight from the gut - 11 tracks at just over 50 minutes:

1. Now - Yes, the horns are back - finally! The world is crazy, but the music presented here is stronger than ever. Excellent vocals are featured here in this strong opener.

2. More Will Be Revealed - More horns, am I dreaming? A relationship only grows through shared experiences together. This song effortlessly gels the wondrous mission of making you feel good about doing just that.

3. America - there's nothing wrong with being patriotic, but there's also nothing wrong with being critical of it's leaders and what our real rights are. This is the first political song I've heard from them in YEARS, and I'm glad they have the strength to come around and see what they once were - a real voice for protest through music.

4. Crazy Happy - wonderful drum work by Tris Imboden on this song as the conflict of friends versus lovers plays out, and in the end the heart always knows best, and it is a crazy sometimes happy choice we have to make.

5. Free at Last - the horns are back in full swing again in a song written (and sung) by guitarist Keith Howland, Imboden, and singer Lamm, their joy at being "free at last" at being sober, finding love and the fulfillment of life itself sounds so - joyous! I'm really happy about this song too, it really marks the closest they have gotten since their aborted "lost" 1994 album "Stone of Sisyphus" the real magic of Chicago is highlighted here - excellent writing, tight musicality and quick tempo breaks, and oh yeah, a real happiness in their sound. This is one of the best tracks on the album!

6. Love Lives On - the first ballad of the album, and it's just great. Love lost, memories of what might have been, and memories of what is and could have been, too. The lyrics speak for themselves, "With or without people in it, the path it follows has no limit, in everything we do." This is really nice and easy, but jumps right into...

7. Something's Coming, I Know - It's karma, plain and simple. You give what you get, and this is just a warning, hope you're willing to heed it. Don't forget, it affects everyone around you, too. Very low key sound, nothing powerful, but Lamm's vocals are a surety that you're gonna find out if you keep sticking your hand in the fire.

8. Watching All the Colors - some people can smell colors, some people can see sound. This song brings those kinds of feelings out, of old sights and sounds and remembrances past. A very mellow song.

9. Nice Girl - Jason Scheff, songwriter and member since 1985 (and the replacement for Peter Cetera, good luck with that, Pete), showcases his writing here about a "nice girl" that deserves better, and pushing her boundaries might just push her away. A quick song, that goes right into...

10. Naked in the Garden of Allah - this Middle Eastern-influenced song borders on Madonna territory, but this is a good thing - sometimes you have to go into a different direction to re-establish your path. This song has been widely available as a preview for listening since it was released on their website since April 2013, and I'm going to put it out there - this is a very political song about America's perceptions about the rest of the world, and in turn the rest of the world's view of "artless, violent, poison, broken" America. Very interesting.

11. Another Trippy Day - producer and "mixologist" John Van Eps, who is famous (infamous?) for the polarizing 2012 album "Robert Lamm Songs: The JVE ReMixes" (a remix album of Lamm-penned Chicago songs? wow, check that out) not only helps out in the writing department, but also assists in transforming the last song on the album into quite the listening experience, and it seems a little off for an album that up until this point had such promise of being a complete winner for me. It seems out of touch with the feel of the rest of the album, but since Van Eps and Lamm are buddies, maybe there was something in the water that somehow allowed the rest of the band to let this stay? It's a real downer ending to the previous 10 songs, and I'm a bit disappointed with it. It just doesn't fit. Period.

(on the Japanese edition, there's a bonus track)

12 - Introduction (Live) - this was obviously recorded live, and has been their opening song for many dates over the last several years. A wonderful gel of drums, horns and vocals. It reminds me so much of the 1970's-era Chicago, with that perfect blend of what they're famous for.

So, in the end, despite the final song on the album, I will still give the new, now and improved Chicago 5 glorious stars.

How can I say thumbs down to infectious rhythms, great lyrics, and a classic horn section that I've been listening to since I was 10? (that was 40 years ago, folks... I know, I'm an oldie.) I say pick up a copy, because they can still re-invent the rock and adult contemporary wheel using 21st Century tech, and I'm all for it!

(Thanks for reading, and please don't forget to leave a comment or a vote if you're so inclined - also, please check out my other reviews right here on Amazon!)
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2015 12:59 PM PDT


Lazaretto
Lazaretto
Offered by Customer Direct
Price: $8.98
89 used & new from $3.40

152 of 160 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As a stand alone project, it's one of his best and most eclectic..., June 10, 2014
This review is from: Lazaretto (Audio CD)
Once again Jack White, lover of blues, funk, soul, and good old fashioned rock and roll, has dipped into his bag of inventiveness and has created an album more eclectic than his 2012 release "Blunderbuss." It's taken him a year and a half to make it, and if the rumors are true it is said he destroyed the original versions and started from scratch.

In interviews he has said the lyrics were inspired by old stories and writings from his 13 year old self. He said some of it was laughable, but I listened, because... it's who he is and not what he does, at least not that much. He's a truly independent artist, and rarely asks for anyone's help, unless he's recording in digital, which is NOT what he does. You DO know Jack records strictly in analog (on two old 8-track recorders), because "it just sounds more real."

Here's my 30 second gut review of each song - the album is only 39 minutes long...

01 - Three Women - 1972 called but is FINE with you re-creating their sound, fuzzy guitars and dirty soul organ grinding and all, about his love for the number one subject of every rock and roll teen boy playing his guitar - times three!

02 - Lazaretto - I like this song, not just because it's an instant guitar player's classic, but the music and lyrics are top notch and reminds us why we like Jack and his unique sound - he's everywhere on this single and it shows. From Catholic rites to Jack Chick religious tracts and several philosophers, he circles the globe in your mind.

03 - Temporary Ground - this duet with Nashville artist Lillie Mae Rische (who also play a little fiddle) takes you on a ride around the block to the country side of his world, and it's it's pretty good.

04 - Would You Fight For My Love - channeling his best Neil Young, he weaves a wonderful tale of love - and asking her to fight for it. Guitars play out his pain in this wonderful low-key stunner.

05 - High Stepper Ball - this song - an amazing bit of instrumental riffing - was our first taste of the album to come, and I have to say it again - the grinding guitars are amazing. I really do dare anyone around his age to create this kind of virtuosity and sell it like only Jack can.

06 - Just One Drink - this reminds me so much of some 1973 Rolling Stones stuff, a lost track from the "Exile on Main Street" sessions. Simply great.

07 - Alone In My Home - (the beginning sounded so familiar, then it caught me - "Romeo's Tune" by Steve Forbert, 1979. 1979???) Another duet with Rische, and you can feel the wonderful analog-ness along with the great lyrics. He's almost daring the listener to understand him as he fades away...

08 - That Black Licorice Bat - vocalist Ruby Amanfu (from his all-female backup band The Peacocks) helps through his vocal attack on this hands-down rocker, and Jack has stated as much on NPR that it was "I really put in the album of my own personality".

09 - Entitlement - his deep Catholic background is present here, a song about paying Caesar what is due, paying pennance, apathy, and "being tired of being told what to do." It's like a really really ironic country-rock version of "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against The Machine. Strange, but very truthful. Will the message get through?

10 - I Think I Found The Culprit - with the six-string of Dean Fertita present and almost dominating the song, Jack takes us once again into his flighty world as his mirror is reflected towards his overall self - and the guilt that he's taking away by looking too long. Are the "birds of a feather" lyrics refrencing himself? Only the piano knows.

11 - Want And Able - Speaking of birds... this song is a complete Jack White production, dubbing and singing and all of it. This is part two of a "song trilogy," part one being the song "Effect and Cause" from his 2007 White Stripes album "Icky Thump." From the lyrics, it's biblical in tone, being this time the forces of good and bad at war with even themselves, represented by Cain and Able... I mean, Want and Able. It plays like a light bit of fluff, but the odd serousness and playfulness only shows Jack refusing to submit to his demons or his needs or happiness.

(on the wax album, there is a TON of extras - b-sides, hidden tracks, hidden speeds, and more. Maybe that's why it's selling for so almost thirty dollars?)

In the end, I have to give this inventive, creative, indulgent yet spirited production 5 heathly stars.

You've got to pick up a copy of this, really. Jack White is one of the more subtle (but also at the same time overt) leaders in alternative music today, and he re-invents himself with every new record with more and more audio tricks on every track. Not very many can do that but still stay SERIOUSLY grounded to who he is - a rocker with a conscience, and an obvious dual genius method/guilt complex that would bring down an elephant.

Pick up your copy today, and enjoy!

(thanks for reading, and please don't forget to vote whether you like what I wrote or not - and don't forget to check out my other reviews right here on Amazon!)
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 8, 2015 3:39 AM PDT


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