When it comes to popular music, individual mileage always varies
Posts By: Steve Crawford
Fogerty comes across as a good hearted, high strung perfectionist who is happier catching fish than writing music
It’s a slow, Beatles influenced number about family dynamics
The majority of the book alternates between a discussion of Petty’s career, issues within the band, and Petty’s personal life
Guralnick has given his audience an invaluable history lesson and resource
Without further ado
I wasn’t sure if I was attending a concert, a pledge drive, or a geriatric redneck drunken party. It’s the day after and I’m still not sure what it was
My ultimate take away is in his songwriting, as in this book, Costello doesn’t have the self-discipline to harness his enormous talents into consistent greatness
Whether it is due to the group being revitalized with the stature nod of being nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or whether the bad karma about removing Bun E. Carlos has subsided, they put on a terrific show
Morris deftly chronicles the band’s recording career, more often than not letting the musicians (and producers) provide the historical perspective. He makes no grand pronouncements and indulges in no hyperbole. He is as equally generous in complimenting their successes as he is direct in addressing their failures
At some level, Hubbard almost works like a magician; he’s a guy who seems to have a perpetual ace in the hole.
He ultimately found that his real love was traditional country music, performed for working class people, and went to rural West Virginia to form a band and live off the land (those were free spirited times). The band had a regular gig in Paw Paw
If you are in the business of selling blood pressure medicine, you probably discuss the inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as often as possible. Just last week a complete stranger growled at me, while waiting in line to see The Zombies, “THEY SHOULD BE IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME!” I almost responded with “Are you kidding me?” just to see if the guy’s head would have exploded
In 2015, The Bottle Rockets have chronicled a maturity that doesn’t sound like a defeat or a compromise; it sounds like an unmitigated triumph.
Al’s music draws you in because you are often hearing some of the most recognizable hooks and riffs in pop music. His band has the talent to move from hard rock, modern pop, and rap seamlessly and Al never breaks character during the show. There’s no moralizing or social commentary in his material. Silliness reigns supreme.
Museum curator Tom Kreason has worked tirelessly for years to make this a project a reality. Financially, the museum is a partnership with the city of Irving as part of a downtown renovation plan, but the vision, sweat equity, and execution of the myriad details required to make this concept a reality has all been overseen by endless hours of planning, work, and personal sacrifice by Mr. Kreason
For an old fashioned, pump fisting night of late ‘70s/early ‘80s metal, it’s hard to imagine that few bands have held up as well as the current touring version of Judas Priest. Rob Halford might not look quite as comfortable on the prop motorcycle in 2015 as he did in his youth, but he’s still aged better than most of his competitors
Wilson is a sympathetic figure, even more so do to the recent biopic Love & Mercy, and with his personal tragedies and triumphs, it’s impossible not to root for the man. He was in good spirits on this evening, giving brief song introductions (“This one’s in the key of E,” “Let’s hear the girls yell,” “This one rocks like hell!”) and punching the air for emphasis
Perhaps, the best pure rock ‘n’ roll experience I have ever witnessed in my life. In 2015, The Sonics may look like a group of insurance agents that should have already collected their gold watches, but they rock with an intensity that few bands could ever match
I have never travelled too deeply into the Mountain Goats catalogue, but that wasn’t necessary to understand and appreciate what this show was really about. Fundamentally, it was about John Darnielle’s love of performing and an audience that loved him for his unique artistic vision. It was a young crowd filled with hipsters and nerds and perhaps people that fall comfortably into both categories
“Cleaning Windows,” Van Morrison. “Cleaning Windows” is a utopian vision of a perfectly fulfilled life, where the pursuit of money is less important than the physical and soul nourishing activities such as reading Kerouac, listening to Muddy Waters, and eating Paris buns. Van was a working man in his prime when he developed this beautiful vision.
I was never a risk taker. While other kids were smoking dope, popping pills, discovering the pleasure points of the human body, sniffing gas, and skipping school, I was doing homework assignments and making sure the living room furniture didn’t feel neglected.
The following excerpts from Steve Crawford’s book “1000 Essential Songs from the 1970s focuses on Texas born or Texas based artists with entries from Waylon, Willie, Ray Price, ZZ Top, Billy Joe Shaver, the late, great Townes Van Zandt, and many other musicians who were completely comfortable wearing cowboy hats.
The current version of Styx does a much better job of replicating the band’s recorded output than DeYoung’s group, which had a decidedly Vegas sound. Both the guitarists had extended solo turns throughout the night, displaying every cliché in the 1970’s I’m-a-shredding-hot-poop-guitar-hero arsenal. This is a show that someone could enjoy for pure camp for about half an hour, but that’s only 25% of the evening.
What was the most important and influential U.S. city in terms of 1970’s music? A strong argument could be made for Philadelphia. Producers Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell created a silky soul sound that resulted in a string of hit records early in the decade and the disco beat was popularized by MFSB drummer Earl Young. Listed below are 18 tracks that were Philly creations, then several more inspired by the same sound and production techniques
After the British Invasion took America by storm in 1964, U.S. radio listeners long remained fascinated with U.K. musicians, who often were simply updating the Delta and Chicago blues traditions with a better sense of style. The U.K. bands represented below range from the traditional hard rock and metal of The Who and Led Zeppelin to the more progressive rock styles of The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd
Their organ/percussion heavy version of “Apache” wasn’t a hit, but was latter dubbed “the national anthem of hip hop” and has been sampled by Missy Elliot, LL Cool J, Moby, Nas, and Grandmaster Flash. Drummer Jim Gordon, who had played with Derek and the Dominoes, was responsible for what would become one of rap music’s most famous beats.
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I would have loved to have said a few words to Butch Hancock after the show – about how much his music has meant to me and it was an honor to see him perform, but I felt like I needed to leave quickly to avoid another manufactured confrontation. So, Danny Boy, don’t worry about profiling me in your club again, because I’ll never be back. And, if you don’t like this pic of Butch Hancock that I took during his soundcheck, sue me.
If your ears were glued to pop radio stations in 1981, you would have been enjoying “Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, “Lady” by Kenny Rogers, and “Theme from ‘Greatest American Hero’ (Believe It or Not)” by the handsome and multi-talented Joey Scarbury. Scarbury also recorded “Flashbeagle” for the 1984 Peanuts special It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown, an animated tale about a rogue pooch who was repeatedly arrested for indecent exposure.
His specialty is country music heartbreak and folk ballads, but he’s not a one dimensional artist. When he sings about losing his love on “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown,” his emotional loss is so heavy that he not only feels disconnected from his former lover, but from the world is a whole. Such is the man’s gravitas.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe had a complicated relationship with religion – she was born into the business of religion and when she performed secular music, it was always at the risk of alienating her core audience. Late in her life she stated that she wasn’t a “fanatical believer,” although that may have been more of a casual comment than a reflection of her core convictions.
“Crawford, you are a first rate goldbricker. When will you start earning your keep, you lousy bum?” “Um…hello…is this my mom?” “Funny. Do you know what it means to be a contributing writer to Rock NYC?” “Limited street cred with aging punk rock strippers?” “It means you actually write for us. Alyson Camus sends in more articles in a week than you do in six months.”
Simply put, he still sings very well. His guitar playing is sharp, concise, never unnecessarily flashy. Every note serves the song. And the writing? If he’s ever penned a bad tune, you couldn’t prove it by this performance. There were no low spots.
Christgau bludgeons the reader with endless dives into various intellectual rabbit holes (his “theory of pop,” Dostoyevsky, Theodore Drieser, etc.) and recalls then discredits every slight he has ever received. If you are purchasing this book for his writing on music, forget it.
I miss Chavo Guerrero and I miss being fed justice (fabricated or anticipated) on a weekly basis. Yet, as the song concludes, “It’s real sweet to grow old.” Might as well enjoy the ride, there’s no good alternative
I don’t know what a happily married Jason Isbell will mean in terms of his future art, but I know I’ll be first in line to check out the results. To borrow a phrase from Van Morrison, Isbell is a working man in his prime right now. It’s nice to see one of the good guys win.
On one level you can admire the schoolyard punk hubris of Earle titling his record with a Robert Johnson reference, but his blues pastiches are so comparatively pale that it makes him seem completely blinded by his own arrogance. I’m left wondering if anyone in Earle’s camp ever tells him that he has a bad idea
rock nyc writer Steve Crawford has spent much of the year working on a book of the greatest songs in the 1980s, but still followed the latest releases close enough to include Old 97’s encapsulated history of life in a rock band, Lydia’s ode to being told to give oral stimulation and long time faves DBT. A mix of Americana and the occasional curve ball for 2014.
This isn’t a perfect record, but does display all the qualities we want from singer/songwriters – honesty, wisdom, insight, maturity. It’s not a world of happy endings and resolved conflicts. Really, is anyone’s?
This was a night of summation, of triumph, of lessons perfected after endless years of road testing. In 2014, it appears that the Old 97’s are commercially and artistically exactly where they want to be. I hope to see their four decade victory lap in 2034
The majority of Ketchum’s material exists in a bell curve where everything sounds good, it’s well crafted folk influenced country music and Ketchum still has a strong voice, but there’s no emotional glue to his work. The music wafts by you, very little sticks
When it came to the trio of hits at the end of the set, the crowd in front sang every line with “Space Age Love Song” and “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)” building to the triumphant “I Ran (So Far Away.”
Buckwheat dressed sharply, nice crease in those pants for being on the road, smiled incessantly and almost uncomfortably, like a funeral director trying to make you feel better, and reminded the crowd about 3,000 times that we were in Texas, which I think most of us already knew
“The Bottle,” a look at the personal destruction caused by alcoholism, became one of his most famous songs; a sad irony for a man who would later experience significant substance abuse issues that derailed his career.
There are people that get ahead in this world due to planning and calculation and those that rely on wit and charm. Jerry Jeff Walker is clearly in the latter category, someone that believes in the poetry of music and has spent decades working in the music business on his own terms, following his instincts
“Across 100th Street” was the title track for a soundtrack to a 1972 blaxploitation film about solving murder crimes in Harlem. While there is no subtlety in the high schlock arrangement, Womack’s gritty, been there, done that voice gives the lyrics about dope, pimps, and street prostitutes a sense of tragic urban reality.
After Steve Marriott left the Small Faces in 1969, he formed Humble Pie with guitarist Peter Frampton and scored a #4 U.K. hit with “Natural Born Bugie.” Frampton had left by 1972’s Smokin’ album, which went to #6 on the U.S. charts. “30 Days in the Hole,” a plaint about drug related jail time, has elements of gospel and blues, with a hard rock sound similar to Free/Bad Company. Sadly, Marriott’s career with sidetracked with chemical dependency issues and he passed away at the age of 44, from a fire he most likely caused by accident.
In the early 1970s, it was a custom for African-American men to sport large Afros, wear polyester suits, and sing in falsettos that made wine glasses tremble. Here are 15 groovy soft songs of love and heartbreak from 1970 to 1972. The line below lists the songwriters and the peak position on the pop charts. I know you can dig it, baby
Sometimes you come to bitter conclusions with lost loves. The 2014 version of the Drive-By Truckers can no longer compete with their own past either in the studio or on stage. They are almost trapped by their former greatness, because they can neither effectively replicate the band they were on Southern Rock Opera and Decoration Day.