Monday, January 31, 2011

45 RPM Memories: The Pink Parker - “Hold Back The Night”

Sometimes it’s as much of a nostalgia trip to look back to where I bought a record as it is listening to the record itself. As those of us in Chicago brace for what the weather reports claim could be up to a foot of snow, I can still recall the great blizzard of 1967, and the tiny record/electronics store where I bought The Hollies’ Stop Stop Stop album with money I earned shoveling our neighbor’s walk.

I can also still remember where I bought The Pink Parker “Hold Back The Night” 45 EP back in 1977. It was called Yardbird Records, and had human manikins with bird heads in the front window. There weren’t too many places on Chicago’s staid southwest side where you could find a wide selection of punk and new wave releases, but this was one of them. Kroozin Music’s stores might have been the only other options, although I vaguely remember Triangle Records.

I had heard “Hold Back The Night” on the radio, but to be honest, the real selling point for me was that the record was pressed on pink vinyl. Not that Graham Parker & The Rumour don’t do a great job of covering this earlier hit by The Trammps. Parker’s raw vocals and the horn section create a classic soul feel in this tale of a heartbroken guy who dreads every evening because he knows he’ll be haunted by dreams of his former lover. Side A also features the romantic “(Let Me Get) Sweet On You,” which is pretty similar to “Hold Back The Night.” Both songs were produced by the highly successful Robert John “Mutt” Lange, and feature Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy on guitar.

The B-Side of EP, produced by Nick Lowe, gives a clear indication of why Graham Parker & The Rumour were considered a top notch concert act, as the band burns through live versions of “White Honey” and “Soul Shoes.” Unfortunately, I never saw Graham Parker & The Rumour back in those days, but I did catch an entertaining solo performance by Parker at a Chicago street festival in 2009. You can read my review of that show in the Archives of this blog, under August, 2009.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Slumgullion #47

Happy Days Is Here Again. The Soda Jerks, a side project for some of the members of the power pop band The Romeros, will be bringing the sounds of the 50s and 60s to the smaller room at The Abbey Pub tomorrow night, January 29th. The six-piece-band out of Blue Island, IL has been together for almost a decade and cites Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly, and The Rolling Stones among its influences. Recently adding tenor sax/keyboards player Alex Francois no doubt helps in covering those old Motown hits, and he can harmonize with guitarist-vocalist Gus Fuller and bassist-vocalist Tom Gerez. Guitarist Michael Vanderbilt and drummer Brian Fee round out the band. The Soda Jerks’ motto is “Bringin’ that sweet soul music,” but it looks like they also play The Beach Boys, The Dave Clark Five, and The Who. The show starts at 9:00PM, and it's free.

On A Sad Note. Gladys Horton, the lead singer for 1960s Motown girl group The Marvelettes, has passed away. The trio was best known for “Please Mr. Postmans,” which would later be covered by those avid American R&B fans, The Beatles. Terri Hemmert, host of WXRT’s weekly Breakfast With The Beatles show, offered a touching blog on the station’s website.

Cool People At A Nice Place. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti has chosen the posh Park West as the venue for his CD release bash next Thursday, February 3rd. An impressive lineup of special guests, including Mike Zelenko, Carolyn Engelmann, Tommi Zender, Ellis Clark, Steve Dawson, and Eric Howell, will be on hand as Angotti unleashes the songs from People and Places. A new video, which also features some notable local musicians, will be shown before the performance. Doors open at 7:30PM.

Holy Anti-Nuclear Benefit! Rolling Stone is reporting that Prayer Cycle 2: Back To Zero, a new charity CD that benefits the no nukes organization Global Zero, will includes tracks by Sting, Sinead O’Connor, and Robert Downey Jr. A previously unreleased recording of Jim Morrison reciting his poem “Moonshine Night” will be among the “world prayers” included on the album. The first Prayer Cycle was released in 1999.

Overthrow Chicago. Power pop fans in the Windy City will want to set aside a chunk of time this coming April for the return of International Pop Overthrow. This year’s fest will run from the 14th through the 23rd at various venues in town. The schedule hasn’t been released yet, and there’s no indication that founder David Bash will be doing anything special to celebrate his tenth annual visit here. But this guy has such a knack for picking power pop acts, there’s no doubt IPO Chicago 2011 will be another smash.

The Bird Book. Yellow Bird Project, a Montreal-based organization that has been devising unique ways to help indie rock acts connect with charitable causes since 2006, will soon release the Indie Rock Poster Book. A follow-up to YBP’s popular Indie Rock Coloring Book, this new effort features thirty 11 x 14-inch reproductions of posters that can be removed from the book and framed as art. The price of $25 will go to selected charities. Yellow Bird Project also sells customized t shirts designed by the likes of Andrew Bird, Tegan & Sara, Bon Iver, Rilo Kiley, Ra Ra Riot, and Metric.

From Grace To Gwen. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s new photography exhibit, Girls On Film: 40 Years of Women In Rock features shots taken by Anastasia Pantsios from 1969 to the present day. Grace Slick, Patti Smith, Joan Jett, Tina Turner, and Gwen Stefani are among the female performers being honored. The exhibit opens February 14th at the museum in Cleveland.

Music From A Mailman. Prop Thtr is presenting Prine: A Tribute Concert at Viaduct Theater on January 30th, and February 4th-6th. February 6th. The show features Megon McDonough, Tim Grimm, Jan Lucas-Grimm, Bobbie Lancaster, and Michael Shelton performing 32 songs by the critically acclaimed folk singer.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

CD Review: The Maybenauts - Big Bang

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.

The Maybenauts hit all the right notes on their new Big Bang EP, from the irresistible, high-speed pop of “Girlfight” and “My Head Is A Bomb” to the more intricate “Blue Line.” “Not Aware,” a heartfelt look at unrequited love, features an ambitious vocal arrangement by lead singer-keyboards player Leilani Frey, bassist-vocalist Ellie Maybe, and guitarist Vee Sonnets. Drummer Emily Austin keeps the beat on this fun, well-crafted effort

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vintage Publication Spotlight #18

The latest entry in an ongoing series devoted to magazines of the past.

New Route had already been around for at least two years by the time I picked up this April/May issue in 1990. I’m basing that on Editor-in-Chief Douglas Joseph’s column, in which he makes a reference to New Route doing a cover story on Living Colour “two springs ago.” The reason for the Living Colour flashback was a two-page spread of photographs taken by the band’s leader, Vernon Reid in this issue. Reid’s compelling color pics of urban blight justify the editor’s description of them as, “another dimension to an extraordinary artist.”

New Route, which sported the copyrighted slogan, “The new route to new music” on its front cover, was based in New York. The publishing company also produced a radio program called Bug Music, which at some point featured Reid as a guest host. Jon Fox and Peter Shershin served as the magazine’s Music Editors, and Marlene Goldman was the Associate Editor. It appears that there was a regular staff of writers that included Anne Heller, whose profile on Flat Duo Jets appeared in this issue, as well as Darren Ressler, who penned The Sundays cover story. Other pieces, like the one on Ministry by Michael Deeds, and the one by Matt C. King on The Cult., were contributed by college students.

This issue of New Route also covered Gin Blossoms, Luka Bloom. Lloyd Cole, The Chills, and Eleventh Dream Day. All in all, not a bad batch of bands to feature. The Record Reviews section included Robyn Hitchcock’s Eye; Love With The Proper Stranger by the four-woman band The Aquanettas; Poi Dog Pondering’s Wishing Like A Mountain and Thinking Like The Sea; and Chemicrazy by That Petrol Emotion. Other than a full-color back page promoting Pepsi, the ads we in black and white, and music related. As an added bonus, loyal readers could send in for a free cassette sampler with artists like The Sundays, Bad Religion, and The House Of Love.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CD Review: Southern Culture On The Skids - Countrypolitan Favorites

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 2007. As far as I know, my prediction that this CD would help the band appeal to a more mainstream audience didn’t come to pass. Oh well, it was still a solid effort.

Southern Culture On The Skids has been brewing its Dixie-flavored rock for nearly 25 years, but Countrypolitan Favorites might be the album that finally clicks with a mainstream audience. It’s a rousing collection of covers in which Country & Western standards are electrified and rock classics are given an old-fashioned twang. Not every song is completely transformed, but all of them are fun.

Countrypolitan is also notable for the band’s inventive choices. Who else would have thought of roughing up Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden,” let along Claude King’s “Wolverton Mountain.”? The Who’s “Happy Jack” is rendered with peppy banjo, while the early garage rock of The Nashville Teens’ “Tobacco Road” is charged with a Creedence Clearwater Revival style arrangement. Singer-bassist Mary Huff brings an authentic country wail to an exotic take on Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love” and singer-guitarist Rick Miller does a nice job crooning along with some playful piano on “Engine #9.” “Let’s Invite Them Over,” a tribute to spouse-swapping, sounds right at home on a CD that gleefully hops from one genre to another.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gabba Gabba Get Together At The Abbey

The moment I saw a listing in last Friday’s newspaper for an upcoming triple tribute event at The Abbey honoring The Clash, The Jam, and The Ramones, I knew it had to be the work of the people at Last Rites. These promoters regularly book alt-rock gigs at the northwest side pub, and have staged multiple-act tribute nights around Halloween for at least the past two years. In addition to the good music offered, it’s a kick to see familiar faces on the local music scene taking on the personalities of their heroes. Their latest event will take place on Friday, February 11th.

The Chicago power pop band Who’s This Mary? were impressive while paying homage to The Cure at The Abbey last Halloween, so it’s highly likely they’ll embody The Jam with the same dedication. Gabba Gabba Hey stakes it claim on being the only Ramones tribute act in the history of Chicago and professes to be on a mission from God. Either they’ve been in contact with the three original members who have gone on to Rock And Roll Heaven, or they recently watched The Blues Brothers movie. The Abbey’s website doesn’t offer a lot of info yet on London Calling, other than that the Clash tribute band was formed in 2003, and includes a musician who goes by the name of Paul Simonpoulos.

Tickets for this triple bill are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Show time starts at 9:00 PM on February 11th.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Slumgullion # 46

Everyone Ride On The Peace Train. To Des Plaines. Todd Wessell reports in the current issue of Palatine Journal & Topics that over 25 local bands have signed on to perform at the Winter Peace Fest being held at Masonic Temple on February 12th in Des Plaines. Promoter Jim Patton has staged Peace Fests around these parts in the past, but this is his first attempt at an indoor version. He’s expecting thousands of people to show up to see bands like Flabby Hoffman, Genral Patton and His Privates, and Phillip Morris. There will also be DJ’s and plenty of vendors on hand. Admission is $10 and tickets are now on sale at the official Peace Fest website.

The Fool In The Hall. Warpaint, the four woman band whose mesmerizing The Fool was named one of the best CDs of 2010 by several of critics, is coming back to Chicago as part of a XRT Big Beat Show at Lincoln Hall. Tickets for the March 24th show, which also includes PVT and Family Band, went on sale earlier today.

He’s Not Here To Start No Trouble. Guitar slinger Joe Jammer has always been a guy who loves to mix sports with rock and roll, so it’s no surprise he’s come up with a musical tribute to the Chicago Bears and their quest for the NFC Championship. Fresh from a three-month tour in England, he’ll be backed by The Roulettes at a SOPRO sponsored Special Bears Rally from noon to 3:30 PM on Saturday, January 22nd at the Blue Chip Casino in Indiana.

And Your Bird Can Sing. The Abbey Pub on Chicago’s northwest side will sponsor a Chick Singer Night on Monday, February 7th. The show will be hosted by Ellen Winters, and feature the artists Sandra Van Laningham, Nicole Neff, Kailey Rockwell, LaShera Moore, and Claire Corriveau. Admission is $10 at the door. Show starts at 7:30 PM.

The Perfect Event For A Winter Night. James Moeller and Carla Hayden of the indie band WhiteWolfSonicPrincess will be presenting Honey, Gimme The Covers! on Saturday, January 22nd at the Celebrity Salon in Evanston. Billed as The Best Cover Songs Ever Performed, the party will feature acts like The Telepaths, Mr. Mo, Bonnie Rhodes, Peter Demuth, and Jan King & Medicine Ball playing songs by Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs, Tom Petty, and other well-known artists. Moeller and Hayden will do some solo stuff, and Famous In The Future groupies should know that Frank Carr, Desiree Burcum, Tina Teske, and David Drazin of the comedy group will be performing under the nom de plume of The Rut. Showtime is 6:30 PM. The Celebrity Salon is located at 1041 Chicago Avenue, #8 in Evanston. The event is free and BYOB.

Gunning For Success. Chicago-based Smith Westerns were recently picked as Rolling Stone’s band of the week. Writer Matthew Perpetua states that the “peppy, glammy power pop” on the young trio’s latest CD Dye It Blonde is reminiscent of Supergrass, David Bowie, and Big Star.

Catch This. Steve Dawson of the alt rock/country band Dolly Varden will be sharing the bill with Americana/folk artist Melanie Budd at The Hideout next Friday, January 28th.The show starts at 10:00 PM.

Lil’ Lilith. Sarah McLachlan brought her reactivated Lilith Fair to the Chicago area last summer, and she’s coming back for a more intimate gig dubbed Sarah McLachlan And Friends at the Chicago Theater on March 12th. The show will feature the singer being backed by Melissa McClelland and Butterfly Boucher while playing old favorites and off her latest CD, Laws Of Illusion. McClelland and Boucher will also get their turns in the spotlight. McLachlan will also take questions from the audience throughout the concert.

Hooray For Me! By the way, this is my 400th post for Broken Hearted Toy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

CD Review - Kimberley Rew - Great Central Revisited

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.

Kimberley Rew’s 2002 second solo effort finds the renowned singer-guitarist calling in favors from musicians he’s worked with in the past. Vince de la Cruz from Katrina & The Waves plays bass on most of the tracks, and Julian Dawson, who worked with Rew in the ‘90s, also makes a few guest appearances. Great Central Revisited is most notable though for reuniting Rew with Robyn Hitchcock and Andy Metcalfe of the short-lived but critically acclaimed Soft Boys.

Which is not to say that Rew’s music on the CD couldn’t have stood on its own. He exudes an easy-going expertise from the very first track, a chiming pop gem called, “Life Itself.” In addition to crafting irresistible melodies, Rew excels at clever lyrics. The guitar-driven “Philip Larkin” is a satire on sexual repression, and Rew and Hitchcock harmonize on the a cappella parable on intolerance, “Purple and Orange Stripes.” The catchy “June Barley” is the tale of a woman who leaves her hometown to become a famous TV star.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Up To His Neck In Classical Rock

Photo by J.D. Motte, from Cheap Tricks’s official website.

Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen dropped by the WXRT studio this morning to have a quick chat with morning man Lin Brehmer about a series of concerts that kicks off tomorrow night at The Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cheap Trick will be performing the entire Dream Police album, backed by The Bombastic Symphonic Philharmonic with The Rhythmic Noise Mind Choir throughout January and February. Six back-up singers and a 20-piece orchestra will be involved. The concerts will feature the band’s other hits as well.

“We do that as one section of stuff,” Nielsen said, referring to Dream Police. When Brehmer noted that it would be particularly interesting to hear the title track, with all its dramatic instrumentation, backed by an orchestra, Nielson agreed, saying, “The intensity of that is cool.” He added that the Northern Lights people had come up with the idea after having seen one of the Beatles-themed shows Cheap Trick performed during an extended stint in Las Vegas.

Brehmer has a long association with Cheap Trick; his guest appearance as the hyper AM radio DJ during a live performance of “On The Radio” at The Metro can be heard on the On XRT Volume 4 CD, released in 1998. So this morning’s interview naturally included some joking around, such as Nielsen saying that he had chewed out one of the orchestra members during a rehearsal. When Brehmer asked if anyone in the orchestra had a five-neck violin, Nielsen insisted that he actually owns one. It would be interesting to see him playing it at the Dream Police concert, but I’m still not convinced Nielsen was serious. He also teased that Brehmer sounded like Kevin from The Office when he described Cheap Trick’s The Latest CD as, “Nice!”

There was one burning question that went unanswered during the interview: Why isn’t Cheap Trick doing this type of show in Chicago?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It’s - - -

Today’s post has nothing to do with the Monty Python TV show, but I couldn’t resist using this image to go with a pair of reviews of the Chicago band The Its! I did a while back for the Illinois Entertainer. The first review is for a four-song demo, and the second is for a full-length CD released in 2005. Unfortunately, it looks like the group has since split up, judging from my unsuccessful search for them on the internet. If I’m wrong, someone please let me know. And now, It’s - - -

Demo: The Its! could easily pass for a U.K. punk band from the early 80’s on their self-titled four song demo, thanks to the working class charm of single-named guitarist-vocalist Maciej. “Take A Number,” “Pay No Mind,” and “New Beginnings” are energetic tracks that grow more complex via Eric’s keyboard playing. “In Your Pocket” sports a more raw sound but still benefits from the band’s ability to create strong hooks.

CD: The Its! continue to impress with their latest release, a full-length, self-titled CD that captures the essence of working class U.K. bands like The Clash or Squeeze. Lead vocalist Maciej serves as a likable everyman while searching for love, employment, or some fun on the weekend. “I Just Wanna” is irresistibly catchy while the more ambitious “You’re Not My Girlfriend” deals with a stalker.

Monday, January 17, 2011

CD Review: V Sparks - Self-Titled

This 2007 self-titled debut from the Chicago band V Sparks should have made a bigger splash considering how successfully it achieves its grand ambitions. In addition to singer-keyboards player V, guitarist Prescott Kagan, bassist Mike Durband, and drummer Ashok Warrier, seven musicians were brought in to play violin, viola, and cello. And that’s not counting additional drummer Adam Heisler and double bass player Kyle Hernandez.

The major influences here are David Bowie and Mott The Hoople, although V Sparks obviously fancy the guitar-driven operatic sweep of Queen. The fun and catchy arrangements on “Red Love Suicide” and “Sweet Kiss” should also console those still mourning the breakup of Supergrass. Only one song is titled “Rock And Roll Lifestyle,” but co-writers V and Kagan touch on the subject throughout the CD. On the energetic “Phantoms,” V spits out terms like “we are all magazine” and “fashion style rendezvous” with bratty abandon. Kagan plays both acoustic and fuzzed-out electric guitar on the stinging satire of “Making Friends,” while “Superstar Masquerade” and “Leave Us Alone” brim with attitude and power.

Several songs kick off in high gear before shifting into elaborate epics built on huge choruses of voices and strings arranged by V and Hernandez. The nightmarish “Out Of Control” warns of impending disaster with depictions of citizens gazing up at some sort of aerial invasion. Reminiscent of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it closes with V repeating the line, “This can’t happen here to you and me.”

According their MySpace page, V Sparks have a new EP coming out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Slumgullion # 45

Photo by my wife, Pam.

You Know The Drill. WXRT held its annual Listener Poll Gala at Craftsman Experience in the River North neighborhood this past Thursday. The place is a sort of Apple Store for hardware, where visitors can try out a variety of brand new tools. On Thursday, most of the attention was focused on a podium where the XRT air personalities took turns announcing the winners for Best Album, Best Song, Best Concert, Best Music Venue, Best Movie, and Best TV Show. During the hour-long Gala, which was broadcast live on the air, only the top five or top ten vote getters for each category were announced. The full results can be seen on WXRT’s website.

Lin Brehmer handled the bulk of the show, and Tom Marker, who for some reason was never formally introduced, provided fun, onstage announcements. There was a roar of applause when Terri Hemmert was introduced as a recent inductee into the National Radio Hall Of Fame; and Marty Lennartz delivered the Best Movie countdown while channeling his Regular Guy character. Frank E. Lee, Jason Thomas, morning news anchor Mary Dixon, Program Director Norm Winer, and Corporate Takeover’s Kristin Kay were also on hand.

The good vibes were only partially due to the free wine and beer being served, as loyal fans savored an opportunity to mingle with the station’s primary DJs during the reception afterward. Congratulations to WXRT for putting together a smoothly run, thoroughly enjoyable evening. Here are the winners for each category. Best Album: The Suburbs by Arcade Fire; Best Song: “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons; Best Concert: Lollapalooza; Best Concert Venue: Chicago Theater; Best Movie: Inception; and Best TV Show: Modern Family.

Phil At The Bottom Lounge. The Phil Angotti Band, which includes Mike Zelenko, Carolyn Engelmann, Tommi Zender, and Ellis Clark, will be performing at The Bottom Lounge tonight. Other acts scheduled to play include Davenport Ed, Ten Foot Tall, and Band Called Catch. Angotti recently filmed a video at Quenchers Bar, with the help of several friends.

I’ll Be Playing In A Band Down By The River! That was my imitation of the Chris Farley character Matt Foley, by the way. Abbey Road On The River will celebrate its 10th Anniversary by holding a pair of events this year. The first will be May 26th-30th in Louisville, Kentucky; and the second will be September 1st - 5th in Washington, DC. 60 bands from 10 countries will be involved. See the official website for more information.

Remember When You Were In The Beat? That Was Awesome! The Chicago Tribune had a listing yesterday for Paul Collins tickets going on sale for a show on March 10th at Subterranean. That doesn’t match the venue’s calendar, which shows Collins scheduled to perform on February 19th with The Half Rats as his opening act. A recent Facebook post from Collins shows the date as February 19th. Earlier that day, he’ll be doing an in-store appearance at Permanent Records at 5:00 PM. I’m guessing the Trib got the date wrong. Collins released the highly impressive comeback CD King Of Power Pop in 2010, and has launched The Beat Army to promote power pop music. Consider me enlisted.

No Fooling. Jeff Beck, with special guest The Imelda May Band, will be coming to The Cadillac Palace in downtown Chicago on April first as part of his Rock N’ Roll Party tour. Beck’s 2010 release, Emotion&Commotion has been nominated for five Grammy Awards.

Long May He Run. Neil Young will be honored with a tribute concert at Carnegie Hall in New York on February 10th. Over 20 artists, including Patti Smith, The Roots, Shawn Colvin, Aimee Mann, Evan Dando and Julianna Hatfield, Joan Osbourne, and Cowboy Junkies, are scheduled to take part by performing Young’s songs. Pollstar reports that tickets start at $45, and $250 VIP tickets will include admittance to the artist after-party at City Winery.

The Gang’s All Here. The newly reformed Gang Of Four are set to release their CD Content on January 25th, and will appear on David Letterman’s show February 8th. The band kicks off a 15-date North American Tour tour on February 5th, and will be at Metro in Chicago on February 11th.

Making A Spectacle Of Themselves. Michael Lux and The Bad Sons are calling their first show, scheduled for January 28th at Bottom Lounge, a “Rock n Roll Spectacle.” The lineup will also include Half Rats (I’m assuming it’s the same band as the one opening for Paul Collins although their MySpace page doesn’t list either gig), The Mutts, and Bob Dey’s Tank Engine Man. Admission is free up until 10:00 PM. Michael Lux and The Bad Sons will be selling copies of their debut EP Neat Repeater, at the show. Lux is also a member of the band Holus.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: Screaming Females - Power Move

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer. The band is in Chicago tonight for a show at Lincoln Hall, along with Mister Heavenly, Title Tracks, and The Dig, as part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival.

Singer-guitarist Marissa Paternoster is the only woman in Screaming Females, but does her best to live up to the New Jersey trio’s name. Paternoster does more than howl, she’s a charismatic performer in the tradition of Bjork, Siouxsie Sioux, and Metric’s Emily Haines. Unfortunately, the muddy, low-fi production on Screaming Females’ latest effort often blunts her firepower.

The band has other problems throughout the first half of Power Move, like getting bogged down in the generic heavy metal stomp of “Skull” and straining to sound avant garde on “Starving Dog.” On the fast-paced “Lights Out,” Screaming Females finally emerge from the muck and keep rocking for the remainder of the CD. An energetic guitarist as well as singer, Paternoster sparks the band’s instrumental passages on the hard-edged “Adult Army” and “Halfway Down.” “Buried In The Nude” in particular achieves the fascinating mayhem that Screaming Females aimed for but missed earlier on Power Move.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CD Review: Evelyn Forever - Nightclub Jitters

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer, back in 1997.

Evelyn Forever honor the hallowed tradition of guitar-driven power pop by naming their first-born CD after a song penned by their hero, Paul Westerberg of The Replacements. These New Jersey musicians don’t have as many rough edges as The Mats, but they show a similar flair for catchy melodies performed with boundless energy.

Almost every track kicks off with a guitar riff, and another part of the fun is that all four members chime in on the vocals. On peppy songs like “17” and “Never Once,” voices bounce all over the place. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Girl” is a perfect choice for a first single, and Evelyn Forever uses a dreamy arrangement to express the romantic sentiments of “Wonderful.” “You Won’t Let Me Win” finds them taking a punchier approach, while “Double Dip” adds unusual sexual imagery to the mix.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CD Review: The Bristols - Tune In With . . .

Released in 2001, this second effort from The Bristols taps into the original British Invasion with so much authenticity that a number of songs sound like “Look Through Any Window” era Hollies with a female vocalist. Fabienne Delsol is equally impressive singing romantic material that evokes Lesley Gore and Petula Clark. The Bristols also dabble in rock-a-billy, but regardless of what style they take on, the melodies are consistently irresistible.

“I’ll Be Gone,” with its loping bass line, is reminiscent of those old R&B covers The Beatles used to transform into revved up rock and roll, while the more ornate “Romeo And Juliet” is a medieval style ballad, like “Lady Jane” by The Rolling Stones. “You’re A Moody Guy” and “So Fine” have that Hollies thing going on, and The Bristols add a touch of Country & Western to the very Byrds-like “A Picture Of You.” “Baby I Got News For You” aims for the later 1960s, with a psychedelic arrangement that evolves into some serious jamming toward the end. And for a bit of extra fun, The Bristols toss in “Old Man Mose,” a spooky rock-a-billy romp about an elderly guy who kicks the bucket.

Rocking The Detectives

As much as I enjoyed In Tune With . . ., this was not The Bristols I had set out to find. As a longtime fan of The Smithereens, I once saw an online reference that the song, “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” was inspired by Pat DiNizio’s infatuation with the bassist for an all-woman band called The Bristols. I made a note of that with the intention that I would some day look them up. By the time I got around to checking out Amazon and iTunes, I wasn’t as sure about the all-woman band part, and since these Bristols had a female member who looked like someone a guy could get a crush on, I figured my search was over. Besides, these songs sounded like something DiNizio would dig. So I bought the CD and set about writing a review.

Luckily, before I added a note stating Fabienne Delsol was the inspiration for “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” I decided to double check on the internet again. Turns out, there was an all-woman band called The Bristols, who hailed from Boston, and it was their bassist, Kim Ernst, who had snagged DiNizio’s heart by standing just like Bill Wyman and having hair like 1960s model/actress Jeannie Shrimpton. By the way, there is at least a third band called The Bristols. They’re a British Invasion tribute band who will be part of this year’s Abbey Road On The River Festivals in Washington, D.C. and Louisville.

You know that PBS show, History Detectives? They should have a rock and roll version.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

45 RPM Memories: The Bangles - "Hazy Shade Of Winter"

A semi-regular feature about some of my favorite singles from the past.

I saw a Facebook post today noting that it’s Vicki Peterson’s birthday. So, in honor of the Bangles’ vocalist-guitarist, here’s a look back at the 1987 British import of the hit single, “Hazy Shade Of Winter.” It came enclosed in a plastic bag, and the 45 jacket, when unfolded, became a two-sided poster.

The song itself opens with some space age keyboard action and angelic harmonies, right before the guitars and drums kick in. It’s a more muscular version than the Simon & Garfunkel original; much like the way The Lemonheads offered a pumped-up take on “Mrs. Robinson.” Listening to it, I’m reminded of a telephone interview I did with Debbi Peterson for the Illinois Entertainer in 1979. Agreeing that “Hazy Shade Of Winter” had a harder edge than people were used to from The Bangles, the drummer noted, “Playing live will provide an opportunity to show our stuff,” and jokingly added, “Because we can kick gnarly butt.” In the Christmas 2010 issue of Record Collector, Susanna Hoffs told writer Paul Lester that she was enamored with “Hazy Shade Of Winter” from the first time she heard it, over five years before The Bangles recorded it.

The B-Side finds Joan Jett & The Blackhearts covering “She’s Lost You,” which was originally done by the English mod band The Zephyrs back in mid-1960s. Jett’s version sports a fun and slinky arrangement, including some good-time piano playing along with bursts of electric guitar. Like “Hazy Shade Of Winter,” “She’s Lost You” was on the soundtrack for the rich kids gone bonkers flick, Less Than Zero.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vintage Publication Spotlight - Chicago Music Magazine

The latest entry in an ongoing series devoted to magazines of the past.

Listed as Volume 2, Number 8, this particular Chicago Music Magazine is from January, 1986. It was published by Mike Macharello, who also worked as a D.J., and primarily covered the Chicago dance/alternative club scene. There was a Gramaphone Records sponsored Dance Chart with Sheila E’s “Love Bizzarre” perched at the top, and included other tracks, like Deborah Harry’s “Feel The Spin,” Yoko Ono’s “Hell In Paradise,” Fine Young Cannibals’ “Johnny Come Home,” and Talking Heads’ “And She Was.” “We Built This City,” by Jefferson Starship, seemed out of place in this company, coming in at #35.

Record Exchange sponsored a Modern Dance Product Survey, which included The Cult, Ministry, Love & Rockets, Simple Minds, New Order, and Blancmange. That same page featured record reviews by Richard Pierson, including one of an import by Frank Chickens, whom he described as Hipponese female performance artists. Jeff Kapugi’s Record Reviews covered Paul Hardcastle, A-Ha, and Orchestral Manoeuvers; Sandi Justin gave four stars to A Chorus Line and Out Of Africa in Film Works; and on the Berlin sponsored Video Report, Dean Anderson praised the Sun City video by Artists United as, “A very moving political and social commentary,” although he incorrectly credited it to Stevie Ray Vaughn instead of Little Steven Van Zandt.

There was also The Rock Roster, which charted songs by ZZ Top, Stevie Nicks, and The Cars. Chicago Music Magazine had full-page ads from importes etc THE Chicago Dance Music Store, the Rolling Stones record stores in Chicago and Norridge, and of course, the Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew’s “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” which was available as a vinyl record and a video cassette.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Slumgullion # 44

Would You Like To Go To Heaven For 12 Nights? Cheap Trick will be conjuring visions of nocturnal surveillance when they perform their entire Dream Police album accompanied by The Bombastic Symphonic Philharmonic with The Rhythmic Noise Mind Choir at The Northern Lights Theater in Milwaukee. I’ve never heard of these particular classical outfits but the names alone suggest they’ll be a good match for Robin and the boys. The exclusive engagement includes 12 dates scattered throughout January and February. The band will be playing other hits as well. Those of us who aren’t cheeseheads can catch Cheap Trick playing a halftime gig at the Colts/Jets playoff game tomorrow and on Conan O’Brien’s show on January 13th.

Go Now. Power pop band Go Time, who have a new CD called Speak, will likely be performing songs from it tomorrow night at The Horseshoe, 4115 N. Lincoln Avenue. Paul Coady, Mark Piecha, and Cari Ray & The Loaners are also on the bill. Show starts at 8:00 PM.

You Start To Cry And I Say Hello. Yesterday, I did a Facebook post suggesting someone should make a rock video featuring all the famous people who have been crying in public lately, set to “If You Don’t Stop Your Crying” by Big Hello. The song has a revved up arrangement with lead vocalist Chloe F. Brady belting out a threatening chorus of, “If you don’t stop your crying, I’m gonna give you something you can cry about.” Big Hello is no longer with us but Orwell and drummer Brad Elvis are very much active in The Handcuffs. Brad Elvis contacted me to say that his friend Dave Borucki just created a video based on my suggestion and posted it on YouTube. While I had envisioned a montage of weeping celebs and politicians, this clip concentrates on soggy scenes involving new Speaker Of The House John Boehner. Still, it’s nice to see someone appreciates my ideas.

Old Time Fun. Film accompanist/comedian/musician David Drazin now has his own YouTube site. Set up by his former Famous In The Future mate Frank Carr, the site offers 16 clips of Drazin performances. Drazin will be accompanying Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks on January 16th, and My Best Girl, starring Mary Pickford on February 6th, at the Wilmette Theatre in downtown Wilmette. Both shows are at 2:00 PM.

The Sons Also Rise. Hollus guitarist Michael Lux is bringing his side project The Bad Sons to the Bottom Lounge for a gig on January 28th. The group’s Neat Repeater EP was named #1 Release of 2010 by the Chicago Garage blogsite.

Happy Days Are Here Again. I caught Cliff Johnson and The Happy Jacks at The Abbey Pub last week and was impressed with the band’s energetic playing and Johnson’s ever-powerful vocals. He’s doing a mix of new and old material, some of it off his recently released Razors And Rose Petals CD, along with some pretty funny banter and schtick. Cliff Johnson and The Happy Jacks will be performing at the Nite Cap on West Irving Park Road in Chicago tomorrow night in Chicago. Show starts at 10:30.

Un Tour, S’il Vous Plait. Plastiscines, the four-woman garage rock band from Paris, recently posted on Facebook that they’re coming to Los Angeles in January. There’s no other info about it on their MySpace page or blog, but hopefully, this means they’ll be touring the US again.

They’d Rather Be Wrong. The Wrong Boys, a brand new copy band comprised of veterans of the Chicago rock scene, will be playing hits from the 1960s and later, in their Sopro sponsored debut at Bobby McGee’s in Crest Hill tomorrow night.

It’s The New Elevated Taking Over. “The grass has grown much taller now, overrunning everything. Oh, what have I done?” - “Crusader” by The Hollies. The Elevated Observations section of this blog had gone to pot lately with the only post being an outdated notice about an episode of my Manchester Gallery series on the Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff internet show. Originally, the concept of Elevated Observations, which takes its name from a psychedelic Hollies tune, was to offer short bits about the entertainment scene. But I soon discovered that people who read this blog via an RSS feed never see that section. Thus, Slumgullion was born and Elevated Observations withered away. But now, it’s been redone with a series of links to my various creative pursuits, past and present. For example, you’ll learn that my wife Pam wrote a skit about me being a roving reporter for the new season of Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff, and that I’m now writing for the online Chicago Art Magazine and its assorted sibling publications.

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