Tag Archives: Replacements

Blast From The Past: The Faces

Although I much prefer to promote the original albums and the full box set, as well as just about all of the non-Rod solo efforts (McLagan’s work, in particular, is stellar and underpublicized), when this best-of came out it was a step in the right direction. (Not a First Step, mind you.). Later, the box set I pined for finally came out under the title Five Guys Walk Into a Bar…

So as I’m ramping up to full warp party speed for Thursday, I need to blast some music. And if you think rock, party and alcohol, you think of one band – The Faces. Now allow me to send you back in time – twelve years for the review in Consumable Online, and four decades for the music itself.

Long before Rod The Mod became a balladeer (and I mean that in a bad way) and Ronnie Wood traded anorexic guitar poses with his evil twin Keith Richards, they were two-fifths of The Faces, a group that was either the best band in the world or the drunkest band…or maybe both (it depends upon whether The Kinks were playing that night). First formed as a group of jilted musical lovers, three Steve Marriott-less Small Faces absorbed two Jeff Beck Group castoffs and caroused their way to rock and roll history.

I tell you this because I was there. If you had to rely on the printed word, or the record racks, or (gulp!) the airwaves, you’d never know. Rhino Records bellied-up to the bar on your behalf with a single disc “best of” collection, and they’ve even thrown in a previously unreleased song to sweeten the pot. Dave Marsh, God bless him, scribed the reverential liner notes and throws his hat in the ring on their behalf. But for me, it’s bittersweet — a dynamic, earth-shattering, genuine slice of rock and roll’s foundation gets another breath of life…but it’s a nineteen track CD, not a three or four disc box set.

That said, this collection is a credible addition even if you have some or all of the Faces titles, and if you have not dipped your toe in these beer-soaked waters yet, it’s a good place to start. With any collection, you’re going to get the obvious must-have’s and agonize over the why-couldn’t-they-fit-that-in-too’s, but it’s hard to argue with the selection Good Boys offers. Rightfully grabbing the lion’s share from A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse, the midsection of this chronologically organized platter gives us the band at their rollicking best. The 1-2-3 punch of “Miss Judy’s Farm,” “You’re So Rude” and “Too Bad” is as balls to the wall powerful now as then, as is the classic “Stay With Me”, the definitive Wood/Stewart romp.

The three cuts from the embryonic First Step are solid (and one is an alternate version), and only “Memphis” from Long Player or “My Fault” from Ooh La La are missed in these circumstances. Including the final two singles “Pool Hall Richard” and “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything,” is a no-brainer, and the sweet and pretty “Open To Ideas” is a perfect coda to this too-short journey.

Who knows if the rumors of Rod hoarding his “better material” were really true, but it’s interesting to think how much longer The Faces would have stuck it out if they got more credit and had more hits. (One thing for certain — if Rod tried to stick “D’ya Think I’m Sexy” on a Faces album he’d have gotten his ass…er, arse…kicked!) Even though they were staples of the Faces repertoire, many recognizable songs like “I Know I’m Losing You” and “True Blue” could not be included here because they were from Rod’s “solo” career. But what about the outtakes, the live cuts, the BBC sessions?

Ahh….there I go again talking about box sets instead of thanking Rhino for letting all the Replacements and Black Crowes fans see where the roots of their trees lie. And I’ll admit it: when I think of all the old bands getting together for the bucks after years away from the limelight (do we really need more Journey and Styx songs?), a small but hopeful flame burns in my heart that one day these lads will rise again as well.

Unfortunately, Ronnie Lane’s recent tragic death from MS rules out reuniting the original lineup; the closest thing we’ve gotten to that was Stewart’s Unplugged performance. But if the other four were ever up for it, hell – I’ll scour every corner bar looking for Tetsu Yamauchi. And if I can’t find him, I’ll get a rooster haircut, some velvet pants and a glass of bourbon and play the damn bass myself.

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Under The Radar: The Sweat

I occasionally refer you to my friends at Power Pop Criminals, Power Pop Overdose and similar sites as they have a knack for putting together some great mix discs (god, I really miss the word mixtape…). There are certainly millions of blogs out there and lord knows I’ll miss many good ones simply for the lack of time. But I do try to pop around every so often and am always astounded when I come across a reference to another solid disc that demands play time right away. So not only was I was glad to see that the Power Pop Lovers blog has decided to reanimate, but thanks to them I came across a little gem from The Sweat, a Belfast band I hadn’t heard about.

The original band (Clive Culbertson: vocals,bass,guitar / Michael Katin: guitar / David Stuart: keyboards /Ricky Bleakley: drums) was called No Sweat, but reportedly was sued by Pete Townshend‘s Eel Pie Records because they alreadyhad a band by the same name. (That’s a pretty common problem, especially for a pretty common band name. Even today when you try to research The Sweat, you might confuse them with these guys…wrong band, although they aren’t too bad either!)

But the pop references that were tossed around were pretty spot on;  if you liked The Jags, The Romantics, Dirty Looks, The Beat and The Records, you’ll find The Sweat right up your alley. Clive Culbertson, Adrian Culbertson, Sean Donaghy, Paul Coates – the current version of The Sweat – continue to kick a little ass today.

Video: “Why Did You Have To Lie?” 

Sure, maybe their sound is a little more polished and reserved than the name check bands, but you can’t deny the great vocals and the hooks in the chorus. I really hear more postNew Wave pop in their sound; bands like The Producers and Great Buildings come to mind. The title song has a whiff of Greg Kihn to it, and tracks like “Please Don’t Say You Love Me” and “I Can’t Hardly Wait” (not the Replacements classic) would slide seamlessly onto any playlist from the time. The production is a little thin and tinny (like many of the commercial pop albums of the early 80s) but the songs are three minute pop nuggets from start to finish.

Check out The Sweat and No More Running for yourself – you probably missed this gem as well.

The Sweat at MySpace

Buy the album from 1977 Records Japan

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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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Blast From The Past: LW3

That’s right, babies, Martha and Rufus have a dad. (In fact, Rufus was a tit man).

There are many stellar records in Loudon Wainwright‘s career, most are (sadly) radio-proof cult items among the converted. But he’s still hitting the mark as he enters his fifth decade of recording and performing; his energy and wit remain sharp and incisive as ever.

Here’s something I wrote eleven years ago for Consumable Online, when Little Ship came out. Not much has changed since then; new songs, same skill.

Don't bring an oar to a diesel fight

Don't bring an oar to a diesel fight

Sometimes I wish every record came with a lyric sheet, because many people flat out mumble and it would be nice to know what they are really singing.  Then there are times when I’m glad they don’t, because it makes me listen to the words as they’re being sung and spoken. I’d never turn to the last page of a novel to see the ending, and I like to savor the words of a good song in much the same way. Which is just my longwinded way of saying that master songwriter and storyteller Loudon Wainwright III makes me laugh, sing along, think and get choked up along with him, and it’s better when I don’t know what’s coming next. Like the whistling solo on the island flavored title track. Oops…..

As a vocalist, Wainwright has gotten much better over the years. His phrasing on delicate songs like “Four Mirrors” and “Primrose Hill” is just one example of the difference between a good singer and a pedestrian vocalist. Radio will no doubt try to feature louder, uptempo songs like “Mr. Ambivalent” or “I Can’t Stand Myself”, and they are very good songs. But where his louder, faster songs tend to be nudge and wink stories, it’s his softer, slower moments that let him weave his magic better. Besides the poignant “Primrose Hill”, other strong moments include “The Birthday Present II” and Shawn Colvin’s duet vocal on “Our Own War”.

Wainwright is a certified wise ass and one of the best live performers you will ever see. At his shows, crowds laugh uproariously and sing along in unison, but when he pulls out one of his pensive, dysfunctional family themed gems (and he has a truckload), the crowd is quiet with equal parts interest and awe. It’s hard to recapture those two polarities on a studio record, but alongside the cock-strut of “Breakfast In Bed” you have a song like “OGM” (outgoing message), where Loudon picks a lone guitar as he sings. It’s a beautiful but sad song, the  low self esteem yin to the unbridled frustration yang of The Replacements’ “Answering Machine”.

Maybe my favorite moment is the hysterical “Being A Dad”. As usual, the record is littered with great lyrics, but this one is wall-to-wall great (“it’s as hard as it looks/you gotta read ’em dumb books/and you end up despising Walt Disney”). The over-the-top performance comes complete with chanting chorus, and then right when he has you laughing your ass off, he slips in the somber, final couplet  (“Being a Dad can make you feel sad / Like you’re the insignificant other / Yeah right from the start they break your heart / In the end every kid wants his mother…”)

For a funny guy, it’s obvious that he has had family issues wear some of the tread off his tires over the years, but as usual, his catharsis is our gain.  Loudon fans will be thrilled, and those willing to sit and give this an hour of their time to Little Ship will realize why those in the know stopped talking about “Dead Skunk” a long time ago.

lw3

Don’t just take my word for it.

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Tributes

I got a couple of emails from readers of yesterday’s post who were loving the Beatles cover comp and asking about tributes, since I’m on record as an obsessive fan of such efforts. On more than one occasion I’ve made my mixtape entry a covers collection (even pilfering a Replacements track title – I’LL BE YOU – for one of the more recent efforts) and I always love when I get them in return. (I’ll have to dig up that comp and post it here in the near future.)

I’ve found that the best ones are usually from independent projects on small labels where the scope will go outside the artist roster. By licensing tracks from other worthy bands that would appeal to the same audience as the internal ringers, the label is saying “we are putting the project first” rather than “this is a cheesey effort to get even the crappiest band on my roster some attention“. Frankly few of these get airplay anyway, so those weaker efforts just wind up in the band’s garage where they belong.

The major labels often blow it as well; too often their efforts wind up using big name artists that have no clue. Of course, with their overhead mapped against the unlikely hit potential, these are not frequent releases. But like the tiny labels trying to build around one good band with filler, the big boys have proven that they’re equally adept at creating a PLE (painful listening experience).

A list of the greatest tribute albums ever deserves more time and thought than I have to spare right now, but I do want to float out a couple of my favorites as well as clue you in to a little known collection assembled by a fellow blogger. These aren’t necessarily the five best, although my favorite tribute ever is included. 

Winner and still champion

Winner and still champion

SING HOLLIES IN REVERSE (eggBert): A majestic collection of power-pop artists including Bill Lloyd, Jon Brion, The Wondermints, Mitch Easter, Tommy Keene and Material Issue. Compiled by the late Greg Dwinnell, this was an all-hits no-misses effort where even the artwork and liner notes were first rate. Greg’s eggBert label also issued a wonderful Bee Gees tribute called MELODY FAIR that was almost as good.

Kovering the Klassics

Kovering the Klassics

THIS IS WHERE I BELONG (Rykodisc): Steve Forbert, Jonathan Richman, Bill Lloyd (the KING of tribute album appearances), Fastball, Fountains of Wayne, Cracker, Minus 5…a solid list of great commercial bands drawing from one of the Koolest Katalogues around. A little better than GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT, which was released around the same time, although “Ring The Bells” by The Model Rockets from the latter might be the best cut of all. (If you can find a copy of SHANGRI-LA on Communion Records, that’s also highly recommended! (Note – if you listen to the Amazon clips, realize that the matchup of artist and song is incorrect).

Whipped Gum and Other Delights

Whipped Gum and Other Delights

RIGHT TO CHEWS (Not Lame): For the bubblegum pop listener in all of us, Not Lame’s impeccable release was complied by John Borack (longtime reviewer and author of Shake Some Action) and features some of the best artists in the current power-pop scene.  Great takes on The 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Ohio Express and Tommy Rowe by Michael Carpenter (genius) , Walter Clevenger (ditto), The Lolas and others. Not Lame has released several great tribute albums for artists as diverse as Gene Clark, Jeff Lynne/ELO and The Cars, among others; every one of them has several chestnuts worth roasting.

Bone Up on these great covers

Bone Up on these great covers

While you’re waiting foa any of the above to arrive in the mail, why not enjoy a great tribute mix right now? Angelo from Power Pop Criminals assembled these brilliant cover comps that are available as free downloads. And on that same page, the excellent rarity and out-of-print Bobby Fuller Four tribute OUR FAVORITE TEXAN.

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Under The Radar: The Yayhoos

Yep, despite their rock-solid pedigrees and irresistable nut-crunching rock’n’roll, we Yayhoos fans must admit that our heroes do, indeed, fly under the radar. Apparently we’re a cult, except without the sick twisted part (that’s for Terry to put in the lyrics when he sees fit…)

But dammit, we’re stubborn! So since Terry Anderson just announced a new album is on the way from his other band of gypsies, The Olympic Ass Kicking Team, I thought I’d use that flimsy excuse to wave my flags and banners for these Yayhoos again. And despite what my 2006 review (below, from the UK magazine Bucketful of Brains) said at the time, you can now find most solo and band Yayhoo albums here.

And don’t worry…you’ll be reading about the new OAKteam album here very soon.

 

All Dressed Up for the Love Train...

All Dressed Up for the Love Train...

The Yayhoos: Put the Hammer Down 

The “American Rockpile” strikes again with a solid follow-up to Fear Not the Obvious. And yes, astute fans of both, there were Dan Baird and Terry Anderson and Eric Ambel releases since then to keep us going just like Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds used to do. I wish there was an album a month from these guys, because the pure joy of making music together that bleeds from the speakers is so palpable it’s only exceeded by their collective musical talent.

If you’re familiar with the pedigree of Dan and Terry and Eric and ex-Satellite Keith Christopher, buying this immediately is a no-brainer. For those with more mainstream blood, mix the swagger of vintage Rolling Stones with the sloppy charm of The Replacements and the unbridled alcoholic cool of The Faces…with a little more twang, of course. Songs about getting sloppy, drunk and naked. Self-deprecating band namechecking song. Semi-pensive rock ballads and greasy guitar romps with hillbilly harmony. A love song called “Where’s Your Boyfriend At?” – now that’s a special Yayhoo kind of love. And for you jukebox jimmies, raucous covers of “Love Train” (a song they were covering live long before the Coors commercials, by the way) and the B-52’s “Roam”. The Yayhoos prove that having fun and making great music are not mutually exclusive efforts.

Tough to find, since it was recorded in Brooklyn and released on the small label named after Eric’s swank Alphabet City watering hole Lakeside Lounge. But the hunt brings a great reward. Go get it.

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Magnet (Magazine) – Opposites Don’t Attract

I used to really enjoy reading Magnet, one of the few magazines that really seemed to go out on a limb and find some new bands to trumpet. Their year-end take on important groups and albums – like any such list – was an enjoyable read, chuckles be damned, and I’d always scribble a name or two to follow up on.

But then I remember stopping whatever I was doing when Rolling Stone arrived in the mailbox so I could devour it cover to cover. Do that these days and you’ll get (1) paper cuts from the eleven free-floating subscription cards, (2) nausea from the perfume and cologne samples and (3) even more nausea from the words found buried between the fashion pages. But I digress…we’re talking Magnet today.

I get their teaser emails announcing what’s in the upcoming issue. Normally I glaze past the bullets without anything reaching out and catching my eye; another Sleater-Kinney feature or perhaps the newest adventures of the bass player who used to roadie for Walt Mink but now is producing six bands out of his Astrovan…I get it, he’s really, really indie. But today, I could not forgive the following:

The Beastie BoysPaul’s Boutique just turned 20. MAGNET re-examines one of the greatest pop albums of all time, right up there with Radiohead‘s OK Computer, the BeatlesRevolver and Bob Dylan‘s Blonde On Blonde.

Exfuckingscuse me, but what??

Unless this list of “greatest pop albums of all time” is on a one-page-a-day calendar, you do not mention The Beastie Boys in the same breath as The Beatles or Bob Dylan, ever. Ever! It’s not that I don’t find the Beasties entertaining; I wore the grooves out of “She’s On It” and I will always fight for my right to party. But Hey Ladies, get serious –  one of the greatest pop albums of all time? To paraphrase what  Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra would say…”I got pieces of albums like that in my stool!”

See? Not lyin'.

See? Not lyin'.

So how can I take their other offer seriously – the one where their “resident expert” will tell me which Replacements tracks I need and which I am wasting my time listening to? I don’t think so. So for God’s sake, Magnet… Let It Be. You Stink.

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