Tag Archives: Green On Red

Under The Radar: Cheap Wine

About ten years ago I came across an Italian band called Cheap Wine and wrote up their album A Better Place for Cosmik Debris. I still pull the damned thing out from time to time. The original MP3 site is long gone but the band is still out there kickin – they now have six albums out –  so I thought I’d tip my cap again a decade later…

I don’t speak Italian, and I can’t read Italian, so whatever was in the press kit that I received from Cheap Wine is a mystery to me. What’s crystal clear, however, is that rock and roll knows no geographic boundaries. How a band from Italy comes out sounding like The Sidewinders and Green On Red crossed with classic-era Stones isn’t important, the fact that they do is what matters.

The Green On Red references are everywhere – the band’s name comes from a Dan Stuart song (covered on their CD A Better Place) and both guitar players have obviously listened to a lot of lyrical players like Chuck Prophet. “Walkin Away”, available on MP3, finds the quartet sailing out of the gate with a drum-propelled rocker that features harmonic guitar lines from Marco and Michele Diamantini; Rich Hopkins fans will do double-takes. “A Better Place” and “Dark Angels” explore the acoustically darker, Cowboy Junkies play “Sweet Jane” area of the aural soundscape.

The vocals are sung in English, and Marco does not have a strong or classic voice, but he conveys emotion that matches well with the material. As a testament to good taste, they list their favorite bands on the “thank you” page of the CD booklet, and if your record collection were limited to those artists, you’d be in good hands. Repeated plays only endear me further.

Visit the Cheap Wine website.

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And Happy Birthday to Stan Laurel. Laurel and Hardy were an amazing comedy team; Stan Laurel was a great gag writer and a brilliant physical comedian with impeccable timing, and Oliver Hardy was a vastly underrated comic and straight man. Together they were magic.  Pull out a film of theirs tonight, or if you don’t have time, read the eulogy that Dick Van Dyke gave at Stan’s funeral and smile at his memory.

Also on this day, the fifty-first anniversary of the still suspicious death of George Reeves, TV’s Superman. I grew up watching that series on television in New York City not realizing that the “Man of Steel” was already dead. I’ve heard every story –  from a depressed suicide to a stoned attempt to really fly out a window to a vengeful murder. Perhaps one day the truth will surface.

Today is also the fortieth anniversary of the death of football player Brian Piccolo, whose story and relationship with teammate Gale Sayers was immortalized in the movie Brian’s Song. Excellent performances from (the always reliable) James Caan and Billy Dee Williams.

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Filed under Comedy, Editorials, Film/TV, Music, Reviews

R.I.P. Jim Dickinson

"As a producer, it really is all about taste."

"As a producer, it really is all about taste."

Damnnot a good week for Memphis.

If you’re reading the title of this post and thinking “who’s that?“…let me help you out: The Rolling StonesBig Star. Aretha Franklin. Bob Dylan. Flamin’ Groovies. Ry Cooder. Green On Red. Muscle Shoals. The Replacements. Delaney And Bonnie. Alex Chilton. Jason and the Scorchers. Willy DeVille. Sun Studios. The North Mississippi All Stars. Ardent Studios. And so on…

Accolades will pour in from the four corners of the Earth, but I hope a Memphis restaurant simply whips up a new dish and names it after the man. Call it “Dining with Dickinson”, a/k/a greasy, gutbucket, generational gumbo.

He lived, breathed and died Memphis soul and everything he put his producer’s ear, his piano playing or his veteran gut instincts on had that indelible fingerprint as well. Despite failing health, he continued to nurture artists and music that needed and deserved that veteran nudge. He had triple-bypass surgery in June, and when a recent benefit was announced to help defray the medical bills, people like John Hiatt signed on in a heartbeat.

Forty plus years of influence that will live on long past you and I…no sweeping exits or offstage lines.

A nice feature from Pop Culture Press by my pal Kent Benjamin.

“Down In Mississippi”

Wikipedia and All Music Guide entries.

Memphis Commercial Appeal obituary.

Even the babies must learn somehow.

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Under The Radar: The La La Lies

Dutch Treat - one less "la" than the Who song

Dutch Treat - and yes, one less "la" than the Who song...

I usually use my Under The Radar feature to talk about artists and albums that are not getting the attention they deserve. My friend Noel turned me on to a new band today, and although they don’t yet have an album, they did release two tracks and a video on their site, so technically I’m within my boundaries.

Witness The La La Lies

Lies” is a killer track – that bass line grabbed me immediately and didn’t let go, and the song sounds like The Hives finally went full retro and blended Small Faces, Humble Pie and Motown together before squeezing it through their filter. Totally kinetic 70’s sound with a great stop-and-start verses, tasty duel between the wah-wah pedal and vocal, a classic fade-out, and just enough cowbell.

Turn Up The Music (and Dance) is mid-tempo by comparison, although it still has a driving, pulsating beat. The guitar tone and vocal immediately reminded me of two of my favorite 80s bands,  Green On Red and The Del Lords. An instrumental opening like that with chiming chords, snapping drum and subtle organ always gets my attention – think Tom Petty‘s  “Refugee“.

I’m not proclaiming anyone a great band based upon two tracks, but I know I’m bookmarking these guys to see what they do next. Hopefully you’ll hear them pumping out of radio shows like Little Steven’s Underground Garage sometime soon. Here’s their website  so you can download both tracks and do the same.

Radar is now locked on.

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Filed under Features and Interviews, Music, Reviews