The Mountain Goats, Kessler Theater, Dallas, Texas, June 8, 2015 Review

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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

There Was a Time, When She was Mine… The 25 Greatest Songs of 1982

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“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.

30 Essential ‘70’s Songs from the Lone Star State

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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.

Dennis DeYoung, Eisemann Center, Richardson, Texas, Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 Reviewed: Styx And Stones…

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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.

25 Philadelphia (or Philly Inspired) Soul Classics from the 1970s

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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

Twenty Five British Classic Rock Tracks from the 1970s

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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

Twenty Rare Essential Soul Tracks from the 1970s

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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.

Lessons in How Not to Run a Business from Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton, Texas

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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.

The 25 Greatest Songs of 1981

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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.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe – The Pride of Cotton Plant, Arkansas

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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.

The 25 Greatest Songs of 1980

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“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.”

Steve Earle's "Terraplane" Reviewed

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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

Steve Crawford's Top 30 Songs Of 2014

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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.

The Soul of '74

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“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.

Jerry Jeff Walker – An Appreciation

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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

The Soul of '73

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“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.

Left of the Dial – 15 Essential Non-Hit Rockers from 1972

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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.

15 Essential Soft Soul Songs from the Early ‘70s

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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

1970 – A Dozen Essential Songs

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For better or worse, I’ve started on a book about 1970s popular music. I plan is to write about 10 entries a day, which means I should have the first draft done sometime in December. I’ve divided each year into pop, rock, soul, and country. Here’s my first 12 rock entries from 1970.

1985 – The A+ List

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“Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You),” Dramarama. While there are plenty of songs about romantic infatuation, singer John Easdale conveys almost a life or death need for validation on “Anything, Anything.” Hormonal angst rock at its finest.

997 Essential Songs from the 1970s

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wW here at rock nyc know the 1970s were the greatest decade in rock and roll history topped by punk and disco at the end but if you don’t believe us check out Steve Crawford’s 997 best songs of the decade. Though we will pass on “The Cover Of The Rolling Stone”,

A+ List – 1984

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As much as the ‘80s are maligned musically, ’84 was an outstanding year for pop music. Check out my lengthy list of Honorable Mentions below #20, many of which are as good/even better than the twenty annotated below in alphabetical order.

Music As a Cultural Touchstone – Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation

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On a personal level, my goal is to always extend that comfort zone. It’s hard to learn much in life if you are only willing to dog paddle within the same peer group. It’s a big, messy world out there. Go out and explore it with open ears and an open mind. You might discover that both Glenn Miller and Kanye West are pretty hep cats.

1983 – A+ List

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“Age of Consent,” New Order. Three years after permanent mope Ian Curtis offed himself, New Order effectively established a new post punk sound, sounding a bit like a less attention needy version of the The Cure. An unexpected entry on your “Songs About Jailbait” playlist.

The Crawford Family Southwest Vacation Songs

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Outside of Amarillo is a weird roadside attraction known as Cadillac Ranch – a line of ten Cadillacs buried nose first into the ground. Visitors are encouraged to spray paint graffiti on the Detroit relics. Noting one of the cars already was tagged with “Steve,” no work was required on my behalf.

1982 – A+ List

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Mrs. Lorene Burns, an Alabama woman that had the famous seven digits for her telephone number was not a fan. “When we’d first get calls at 2 or 3 in the morning, my husband would answer the phone. He can’t hear too well. They’d ask for Jenny, and he’d say ‘Jimmy doesn’t live here anymore.’ Tommy Tutone was the one who had the record. I’d like to get hold of his neck and choke him.”

the Best of The Kinks Komplete

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Where Have All The Good Times Gone,” 1965. At the ripe old age of 21, poor rock star Ray is already wondering what’s happened to the worry free lifestyle of his youth. This sounds like a major hit, but was a B-side in 1965, then bombed as a single in 1973 (released after Bowie did his cover on Pin Ups). Is it just me or does the mother figure sound like a cougar?

The Best of The Kinks – Part II

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The picture is Waterloo Station in the mid 1800 but by the time young ray wrote about it, it was an industrial quagmire, Number One? Crawford had this to say: “Waterloo Sunset,” 1967. The most beautiful song I will ever hear.

The Best of the The Kinks – Part 1

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My first draft list had 25 entries, but with feedback from experts like Bill Holdship, John Kordosh, Iman Lababedi, Michael Bennett, A.C. Rhodes, and others, the list expanded to 40 and I could have easily included many others (“Powerman,” “Two Sisters,” “God’s Children,” and “Celluloid Heroes” are among the missing)

1981 – A+ List

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At the # 1 spot, American artist: “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” Willie Nelson. One of Willie’s best – a beautiful lyric of self-less love matched with equally inspiring guitar work. A #1 country hit.

The A+ List – 1980

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Lemmy and the boys formed in 1975, but struggled in their native U.K. until the Overkilland Bomber albums dented the album charts in 1979. The band released their signature punk meets metal anthem “Ace of Spades” in 1980 and it even went to #15 on the U.K. pop charts. Kilmister’s work as a rock ‘n’ roll icon and independent lawn killer is a never ending mission.