Archive for April, 2010

LOST GEMS: Jill by Gary Lewis & the Playboys

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

BEATLE BOB’S LOST GEMS:

Jill by Gary Lewis & the Playboys

This will be a reoccurring article from time-to-time about some of the great singles of the 60′s undeservedly failed to achieve the hit status.

Contributing Writer : Beatle Bob [ TheRFW.com/blog/BeatleBob ]

When Gary Lewis & the Playboys’ first single, “This Diamond Ring,” hit #1 in 1965, it was the start of an amazing run of their first seven 45′s to make the Top Ten, something no other artist in the 60′s would accomplish. From the two-year period of 1965-66, Gary Lewis & the Playboys ran up nine straight Top 20 singles, with eight of those records going Gold along with four Gold albums.

However Uncle Sam would stop Gary Lewis in his tracks when he was drafted to serve in the Army on January 1, 1967. Like Elvis, Gary would record some songs while on furlough and like Presley, he had some recorded in the can before he was sent off to active duty.

However, unlike The King, Lewis’ star faded badly while he was in service. The main cause was one that would wreck the career of the so-called “lightweight-rockers” during the latter part of the ’60′s was the advent of the flower power-hard rock era which made a lot of artists (some unfairly), seem old fashioned overnight.

Which is most unfair, in Gary Lewis’ case, as he did leave behind a superlative recording – “Jill”- not only one his finest singles but definitely his best vocal performance on record

“Jill” was composed by one of the finest writing teams of the ’60′s -Alan Gordon & Gary Bonner, whom would also go on that same year of 1967 to write the best selling single of the year- The Turtles’ “Happy Together.” Also on board to help with the recording of “Jill” was Jack Nitzsche (Phil Spector’s former right-hand man), who arranged a sweeping orchestral suite that propelled the song into a dreamlike state.

Released in October of ’67, “Jill” stalled at #52, a cruel fate for a recording that was hallmarked for greatness. Gary Lewis would achieve Top 20 status only one more with the sanguinely remake of “Sealed With A Kiss,” (#19-’68).

Beatle Bob

For a listen to “Jill”, as well as a look at the picture cover for this 45, hit the video above.

Flaming Lips New York

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

The Flaming Lips

Barton Hall – Cornell University

Ithaca, New York   Apr. 18, 2010

Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward [ TheRFW.com/blog/Garret ]

Contributing Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt [ TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta ]

Special thanks to leesmommyishot for the YouTube video!

www.FlamingLips.com

www.MySpace.com/FlamingLips

Giant hands shooting out laser beams. Jacuzzi sized disco ball. Teardrops. Laughter.

Everyone’s first live experience of The Flaming Lips can be visually different. Yet, each performance conjures the same exact emotion and conclusion- happiness and the possibility of attaining self-realization (even when you weren’t seeking it at the time).

Strolling the hilly landscape of the picturesque Cornell University campus, Ivy League silence and etiquette was shattered by the joyous shouts of a costume brigade bumrushing Barton Hall- a venue sacred in Grateful Dead lore for the legendary May 8, 1977 show.

Dressed as bacon, Pippy Longstocking, or one’s favorite superhero, troves of Flaming freaks milled about in an effort to get as close to the stage (and lead singer Wayne Coyne) as possible.

Immediately handed a laser pointer upon entrance (the giver ran by with a psychotic grin, tossing the tiny electronic devices at whoever got in his way), I took refuge in the upper level seats towards the back of the gymnasium (now used by the institutions ROTC program). I wanted to encompass the entire scene from above.

The houselights dimmed. An indescribable array of strobe lights, unidentified blinking objects, and red dots (that maniac sure got around) overtook the stage. But, just as my eyes were adjusting to the initial shock, the backdrop illuminated with a naked women dancing. The screen starlet shook what her mama gave her, eventually lying back as a huge beam of light emerged from her digital vagina.

One by one, members of the psychedelic rock entity emerged from the enormous genital tractor-beam. Piercing screams and murderous shouts deafened the arena when Coyne rolled out of the vagina and into the crowd within his trademark “human gerbil ball”. Tumbling around the audience like being tossing into a washing machine, Coyne toppled and fell- a smile never leaving his face.

“We don’t want to say we’re going to top the ’77 show tonight,” Coyne said, leaping out of the plastic ball. “But, for damn sure we will be the second best show to ever play here.”

CONTINUED AFTER THE JUMP/PHOTOS

Coyne takes you down his own version of the hypnotic river in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. He zigzags across the stage, jumping up and down, encouraging everyone to participate and immerse oneself in the moment- a dizzying sight that would even tire the relentless antics of Mick Jagger.

The group sprinkles a magical stardust of new (“Silver Trembling Hands”), old (“She Don’t Use Jelly”), and somewhere in-between (“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”) throughout the production.

Signature confetti guns exploded into the rafters. Giant rubber hands (worn by Coyne) shot green lasers into the disco ball- glittering chaos around the entire space. Footage of gyrating women streams behind the quintet. Old film from television appearances, and clips from the band’s music videos, introduces each subsequent melody.

The entire room became silent (and fingers held up in the “peace sign’) during “Taps” (a traditional military instrumental), where Coyne condemned conflicts abroad and hoped for a bright future amid mankind.

A campfire sing-along soon surfaced. Giving a taste of their recent endeavors (“Brain Damage”/”Eclipse”), the band spewed a beautiful interpretation of Pink Floyd- an ode to those who light the fuse Coyne now keeps bright.

Tearing up, the singer spoke of personal loss and the beauty of those whom you come across along the journey of life. A poignant ending, “Do You Realize??” encouraged the release of any tension or remaining energy from both sides of the stage barrier- a never-ending showcase of innocence and emotion until any and all were completely drained, yet fulfilled spiritually.

And that, my friends, is the true essence of The Flaming Lips.

FLAMING LIPS – BARTON HALL – Apr. 18, 2010
The Fear, Worm Mt., Silver Trembling Hands, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, In The Morning Of The Magicians, Vein Of Stars, I Can Be a Frog, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, See The Leaves, Powerless, Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung, Taps, She Don’t Use Jelly, Convinced Of The Hex

Encore I:

Brain Damage, Eclipse

Encore II:

Do You Realize??

Green Mountain State of Mind

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Green Mountain State of Mind

Apr. 10 – Scott Tournet / Joshua Panda with Ian Thomas Band (Nectar’s – Burlington, VT)

Apr. 11 – Sam Amidon (Hooker-Dunham Theater – Brattleboro, VT)

Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward [ TheRFW.com/blog/Garret ]

Contributing Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt [ TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta ]

www.BluesAndLasers.com

www.JoshuaPanda.com

www.IanThomasMusic.com

www.SamAmidon.com

Apr. 10 – Scott Tournet / Joshua Panda with Ian Thomas Band (Nectar’s – Burlington, VT)

The crisp early spring breeze cascaded off Lake Champlain.

The ferry chugged along towards Burlington, Vermont. Behind me, the quiet city of Plattsburgh, New York- surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. The ice of a frozen winter was long gone. All that remained was a never-ending blue sky and a weary land emerging from the depths- ready to bloom into the inevitable beauty only attained by Mother Nature.

Sunshine trickled into the dusty vehicle. We franticly sped into the Queen City.

Nectar’s, a renowned New England music venue (birthplace of Phish and one-of-a-kind gravy fries), played host to rock guitarist Scott Tournet (Grace Potter & The Noctunals / Blues & Lasers) and soul sensation Joshua Panda w/Ian Thomas Band.

Filled with freewheelin’ hipsters, weekend warriors, local transients, and tourists checking out what Fromer’s recommended, the Nocturnal channeled his inner Bad Blake with a stripped down, casual, yet heartfelt, show of talent and hunger he relentlessly seeks.

It’s refreshing to see Tournet (who was later joined onstage by another Nocturnal- guitarist Benny Yurco) left vulnerable to the crowd- without all the attention focused on Ms. Potter. Standing alone, his true power as a leading ax-man (an acoustic player) comes full-circle.

Old material (“Sitting Here Too Long”) and fresh ideas from the forthcoming Blues & Lasers album surfaced. Handclaps and manic whistling followed each offering. It was a tranquil evening. One of those rare nights where a musician bares his soul in front of those who know him best.

On the flip side of the coin, subsequent act Joshua Panda made girls wet and men jealous with envy. With the gyrating hips of Elvis Presley, the attire of Jake Blues, the roar of Sly Stone, and the sweaty, glorious passion of James Brown, Panda evokes a sensation in our legs scarce in the art of modern music.

Serenading his girlfriend (“Still Crazy About Rue”), raising his Zappa freak flag, and tackling barrel-chested blues classics (“Wang Dang Doodle”), it is quite a sight to witness firsthand. Backed by the alt-country blues meltdown that is the Ian Thomas Band, it is a force to reckoned with.

As if taking on this Simon Says or Pied Piper persona, Panda commands the audience in a language universal to any- music. The jacket comes off and soon he takes on this John Belushi energy between his stage antics and hypnotic control of the listener (at one point he had the mass of people split in two, in an effort to see which side of the floor could sing-along louder). You simply cannot avert your eyes.

If Grace Potter is the Soul Queen of Burlington, then Joshua Panda is King.

ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THE JUMP/PHOTOS!

Apr. 11 – Sam Amidon (Hooker-Dunham Theater – Brattleboro, VT)

I awoke on the floor in an apartment I did not recognize. It took me a moment, but sanity was discovered. Friendly faces arose from sleepy corners and warm covers.

Time was of the essence. The aging Honda puttered down I-89 South. We were ahead of schedule- a beer at the Skinny Pancake in Montpelier was in order.

Sipping the Switchback ale, clear skies once again greeted Vermont. Dirty Santa held his beverage high- saluting the day.

Entering the Hooker-Dunham Theater, the 99-seat venue quickly reached capacity. It was a hometown performance for Amidon, the Americana wiz kid (who had just arrived from New York City, flying back to the States from London the day before).

Taking somewhat forgotten (“Wedding Dress”}, dearly cherished folk songs (“Cold, Rain, and Snow”) or completely random melodies (“Relief” by R. Kelly), he dusts them off. Interpreting them in his unique fashion.

Amidom immediately draws the listener in through note after haunting note on his acoustic guitar. Joined by jack-of-all-trades musician Shahzad Ismaily, the duo silences the audience with a blend of heartache, redemption, and progression through exploration of mankind’s wide spectrum of emotion.

Yet, just when you think there are two performers, the entire room is asked to participate in more than a few numbers. Singing, laughing, and remembering what it’s like to truly be moved by a piece of music (“How Come That Blood” / “Way Go Lily”).

The sound ricochets off the ancient stonewall lining the theater. The crowd, a mix of young curiosity and mature appreciation, smiles and, at times, tears up. One starts to think of people lost in their memories, not seen in ages, but conjured between the lines sung before us.

Sam Amidon is a human history book. With his captivating presence, he is a storyteller of the highest regard. Between his showmanship and clear conscience, he is a sparkling diamond amid the coalmines and rugged characters he sings not only about, but also for.

It is a lost art. One that Amidon harnesses and radiates to the world like a shining beacon of light to ships sailing the high seas of life.

THE DYNAMIC DUO MEET THE COURT JESTERS OF ROCK & ROLL

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Beatle Bob Speaks!

Contributing Writer : Beatle Bob [ TheRFW.com/blog/BeatleBob ]

When the Batman TV show made it’s debut on the ABC network on January 12 ,1966 (my 13th birthday!) rarely has a TV show so gripped the world. The campy pop art classic immediately churned out dozens and dozens of Batman merchandise: Bat-this, Bat-that, you name it, from clothing, food products, games, toys, and anything else you can imagine that had the Bat-emblem as well as pictures of Batman & Robin plastered on its side.

As with any pop-culture phenomenon, there were a large number of records released documenting the exploits of Gotham City’s Finest. Most of these recordings were in the novelty vein, mixed in with some serious sides as well.

One of the better records to come out of all of these Bat-vinyl releases were by the Court Jesters of Rock & Roll: Jan & Dean. The guys not only put out a single – “Batman” but an entire album based on the adventures of the Dynamic Duo: Jan & Dean Meet Batman.

To see the front cover of this album, hit the link below)

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/144571459_811b916fc9.jpg

Half the album consists of songs about or inspired by Batman and his adventures, and the other half consists of comedic skits of Jan & Dean as Batman and Robin-inspired super heroes. Ridiculous? You ‘betcha, but also brilliant in a weird sort of way, and a thoroughly enjoyable listen. This album represents all that was great about Jan & Dean at their best: creativity, humour, chaos and fun. And Jan Berry is at his at his peak production and arrangement abilities. The title track for instance, is the best original song I’ve ever hear about the TV show. You really have to listen to this album to believe it. I’ve never heard another album like it. But then again, there’s never been a band quite like Jan & Dean. They represent a time when pop music was young and innocent. Boy, those days are long gone. The album and single were released in January of 1966. Sadly, it would be their last, as Jan suffered his near-fatal, life-altering accident shortly after it’s release. The “Batman” single would reach #66 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The B-side was “Bucket-T” and both sides of the single would be later covered by those British Invasion stalwarts: The Who.

To hear Jan & Dean’s “Batman” song, hit the youtube video clip which also features a cool photo montage of Batman stills from various movies, the TV show, and vintage comic books, as well as a few pix of Jan & Dean;

Because the Jan & Dean song “Batman” is sung at such a fast pace (especially Dean’s falsetto parts), the lyrics might be a little hard to understand so I’ve included the lyrics to the song below. Print them out to sing-a-long or just to plain follow.

BATMAN (By Jan & Dean)

I don’t know who he is behind that mask

But we need him, and we need him now

He’s known by Bruce Wayne by day, wealthy socialite

(Gotham City, here they come)

But incognito by dress, he fights crime by night

(Gotham City, here they come)

Yeah it’s Batman and Robin, Boy Wonder at his side

Hey now, Riddler, Penguin, Joker, better go and hide

(Sounds of villainous laughter)

We need the Batman (Batman)

We need the Batman (Batman)

Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot

So my disguise must be able

To strike terror into their hearts

Now as the Bat Signal sweeps across the midnight sky

(Gotham City, here they come)

Somewhere in Gotham City it’ll find the Batman’s eye

(Gotham City, here they come)

There’s a crime wave goin’ on, but not for very long

‘Cause the Batman’s gonna teach ‘em right from wrong

They call him Batman (Batman)

They call him Batman (Batman)

Did you see the strange car (No, why?)

It was shaped like a bat

(Sound of Batmobile passing by)

So when you see the Batmobile quickly pass you by

(Gotham City, here they come)

You know they’ve heard the Batphone and the Commissioner’s cry

(Gotham City, here they come)

Yeah that Dynamic Duo’s out to prove crime doesn’t pay

And from the Batcave our heroes keep evil at bay

We need the Batman (Batman)

We need the Batman (Batman)

I must be a creature of the night

(Spoken):

Black, terrible! Umm… Umm… (sound of bat’s call and flapping wings)

As if in answer a huge bat flies in the open window!

A bat, that’s it, it’s an omen; I shall become a bat!

Thus is born this weird figure of the dark, this avenger of evil, the Batman!

Batman Batman

Batman Batman

Batman

(Sound of Batmobile passing by – Fade out)

Drive-By at House of Blues

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Drive-By Truckers

House of Blues – Boston, Massachusetts

April 2, 2010

www.DriveByTruckers.com

www.MySpace.com/DriveByTruckers

Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward [ TheRFW.com/blog/Garret ]

Photo by – Danny Clinch

“Your writing is damn good. It’s just a shame you missed out on rock ‘n’ roll. It’s over. You got here just in time for the death rattle. Last gasp. Last grope.”

- Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

Amid a polluted planet of white noise and supposed rockstars, the Drive-By Truckers have remained the one of the last vestiges of true grit across a spectrum of musical bullshit.

Lansdowne Street was an array of drunken college students and obnoxious sports fiends. Sauntering into the trendy House of Blues, I was immediately slapped in the face with an invisible wet towel of sweat, stink, and pent up anticipation for one of the premier acts on the rock circuit.

The three tiers of a pristine cake venue spewed a scene of cut-off sleeves, greasy-brimmed hats, wads of well-worn chewing tobacco (the Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy had seen better days before its current title as spittoon), and a look of angst adorning anxious faces.

“Drag The Lake Charlie” set the fuse of emotion with a guitar laden, ominous opener exposing a range of felonies through the fiery throat of Patterson Hood. Backed by a cast of southern rock outlaws, Hood has rightly risen to the occasion as a leading frontman with a calming, welcoming presence similar to Tom Petty or Neil Young.

“3 Dimes Down” showcased the scratchy vocals of Mike Cooley and crisp pedal steel work by John Neff- piercing through you like falling down naked onto a gravel road.

Passing around the usual bottle of Jack Daniels between numbers with an eager enthusiam akin to a joint at middle school party, the sextet wipes passion from their foreheads and thrusts wholeheartedly into the moment before them.

The southern gothic style to their lyrics is truly a testement to the freewheelin’ nature of the melodies themselves.

Wailing on his guitar and screaming cries of help many hold inside (“This Fucking Job”), Hood is the spokesman for the common man (“Hell No, I Ain’t Happy”). Cooley clearly represents the fiesty drunkards (“Women Without Whiskey”), the weary (“Uncle Frank”), and those abused or discarded into the cracks (“Birthday Boy”).

It seems this tour has really been Shona Tucker’s shining moment. Utilizing her skills more than ever on the latest record, The Big To-Do, the bassist grabbed the reigns and took charge during “(It’s Gonna Be) I Told You So” and “Home Field Advantage”.

Finally settling in as a permanent member of the group, keyboardist Jay Gonzalez traded licks with drummer Brad Morgan and Neff as the crusaders floated through saddened carnival memorial “The Flying Wallendas”.

Staying in step with their ongoing theme of social awareness and ultimate redemption, “Rockin’ In The Free World” made a fitting tribute to Young- a direct ancestor of progressive action through music the group pursues relentlessly.

It’s an interesting sight to witness such an aggressive presense within the cushioned confines of white picketfence New England. The Drive-By Truckers are vastly becoming the torchbears of not only what’s wrong with this country, but are also pointing the blind towards the idea that addressing the issues goes farther than stubborn ignorance and the notion, “out of sight, out of mind”.

The problems are clear and the lines have been drawn. Thank God we have the Truckers to step over those lines of poverty, addiction, and injustice one show at a time.