Saturday, September 20, 2014

So I Wrote The President A Letter

A developer wants to tear down RCA Studios in Nashville.  The list of musicians who recorded there is beyond legendary.  From Johnny Cash to Elvis and Willie Nelson, RCA Studio's walls have seen it all.  It's worth spreading the word on saving this historic site.  I decided to write the President.  It goes like this...

Dear Mr. President,

There are a lot things in this country that we need to fix.  Shocker.  I feel like you do the best you can.  I don't have any suggestions for those problems.  They are a right mess way above my education level.

However, our country is full of valuable things.  One of those things is our musical heritage.  We, American musicians, have changed the world with our talents.  Even though we constantly innovate musical genres and create new music for the world to hear, we need to make sure that we protect it's heritage and history.

Maybe you know, or maybe you don't, but there are plans to tear down the legendary RCA studios in Nashville.  I don't see how this is right.  I understand that it is property and it can be bought and sold, but what was created inside of this building's walls is a priceless part of American history.  The list of people who recorded there, at least in my world, is just as heavy as the list of people who signed the Declaration.  I feel like it needs to stand as a landmark of American imagination and creativity.  I don't know what could be done, but we mourn the loss of great buildings all of the time.  Maybe it isn't the Library of Alexandria, but we would regret it.  They didn't tear down Edison's workshop, and this building shouldn't come down either.

The City of Nashville needs to keep this building from being torn down under developer's bulldozer.  You can build commercial and residential buildings just about anywhere, why don't we keep something that can't really be replaced?  RCA Studios are hallowed ground and should be treated in such a manner.

Here’s a link to some information about the situation:


Ian Gerber

Friday, September 19, 2014

THE PHUSS announce release of new video and album ON THE PROWL

“The trio of musicians affects a posture exactly commensurate with their ability to knife through the room. Their stage strut is a claim made veracious by their impressively tight sound. It is rock and roll in its most crystalline, adrenal seductiveness.”
D Magazine

There’s no hyperbole to be had here. Fort Worth, TX three piece The Phuss play it fast, they play it loud and they play it ‘cos they mean it.

Formed in 2008 by front man/guitarist Josh Fleming and drummer Trey Alfaro – and later joined in 2010 by bass player Forrest Barton – The Phuss’ second full-length album On The Prowl is as intense as it is impressive. A ferocious collision of youth and dirty rock 'n' roll fun you just can’t shake… although why would you even want to? Fierce guitars, rolling bass lines, abrasive vocals and pounding drums; produced by Jeff Saenz and mixed by Jordan Richardson, On The Prowl packs riff upon glorious riff of distorted loudness over razor sharp pop that brings to mind the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Blue Cheer and Nirvana.

On The Prowl will get an official release via Magnetic Eye Records on 14th October 2014. In the meantime, watch and share the new video for ‘I Don’t Feel Good’ via New Noise Magazine or click on the image below.

YouTube Link -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bask - American Hollow

I read a lot of descriptions while scanning the web for music. Some from other like-minded fan’s recommendations, but mostly I go straight to the tags and descriptions to weed out stuff I don’t have time for. It’s about efficiency in today’s Internet music marketing. Well if I was in charge that’s what I’d focus on. Get a good slogan, have badass cover art to portray a visual of what the music might sound like and your odds are better off that folks will listen. If it sucks it sucks, and they’ll turn it off and not come back, but that first impression is a key element for me. My first impression upon getting the recommendation to check out Bask was textbook perfection in setting the hook deep into my soul. They snagged another fan instantaneously.

Describing themselves:

“With roots in americana, stoner metal and post-rock, Bask is turning out their own brand of doom. Psychedelic, heavy, and scenic songs weave through sections of driving riffs, thundering percussion, loose grooves and glimmering guitar. All topped with vocals that conjure spirits of old country crooners”

That had me intrigued on top of that wicked artwork on the cover of American Hollow. Love the shades and blends of yellows and reds, with a spooky scene containing deer antlers, owls, and some sort of witchy woman as the main focal point. I would classify this as top shelf album art and something I would want to see how it sounds by the art alone.

Now to the music. As much as I loved their description of themselves, I hate to say I only slightly agree. Or maybe I disagree with several other descriptions on the net I read. They all went for the western Americana, folk aspect that the band latently portrays. I’ll admit, that I too was mostly interested into how they would weave in an Americana vibe into post-metal/doom rock upon reading that and not having pushed play yet. To me it’s more in the lyrics than anything, and not much of an Americana vibe musically at all. The theme of the record fills the Americana description with the storyline involved, which suggests the band is into the old western landscape and spiritual folklore. I can dig that myself and is what I find so attractive about this album.

The album veers from acoustic passages on ‘A Man’s Worth’, to an ethereally atmospheric blend of post metal, stoner rock and an added psychedelic indie-rock flair in areas of vocal tones throughout. The guitars soar elegantly between harmonic chugs to progressively intricate passages. Vocals open up with a mystical vibe not unlike My Morning Jacket, but wearing a denim jacket sporting a beard and paired up with a metallic atmosphere veering from post-hardcore screams to laid back western tales of sorrow and alternative country musings.

I haven’t heard anything quite like this all year long, and I’ve listened to damn near a 1000 different albums at this point, mostly good, some great, and a few, like Bask, get the nod as being magnificent. I can’t quite pick a favorite song on the album as they are all equally special and have their own identity. At first I really fell in love with the closing track “Endless Summer” with its long drawn out build up into an absolutely gorgeous climax. Its like you’re listening to the angels of heaven riffing their blessings unto the true believers in rock and roll. I’ll go as far to say it reminded me of my AOTY from 2011, ‘Hands - Give Me Rest’ to an extent, which I recommend you check out if you haven’t listened. ‘Endless Summer’ is a stunning closing to an even more intriguing album. A must listen to band for open minded fans of rock, metal, indie, country, hardcore, etc…. Perhaps not for the average straight up metal head, or stereotypical stoner rock fan looking for the formulaic approach to their favorite sounds. Bask intelligently incorporate several styles together to produce a heavy as hell album that is soft and emotional around the edges, perhaps symbolized by those flower petals surrounding the cover art scene?

This could very well end up at the top of my favorite albums of the year at this point. You can stream/purchase the album on bandcamp, and also buy a vinyl copy of the record out on CrimsonEye Records here. I am anxiously awaiting my gold copy, which took no hesitation to purchase on my end.

-The Huntsman

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Ripple Conversation with Brendan Burns of Wasted Theory

Heavy.  Seriously heavy.  Wasted Theory blew us away with their latest release of seriously heavy stoner/doom/sludge.  So we scrambled to get into line to talk to Brendan Burns about what makes the band tick.

Q: When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?

A: I’d have to say the very first time I heard Pyromania by Def Leppard was a life altering moment for me. I grew up at a time where the cassette was king, and the cool thing about cassettes was you pretty much HAD to listen to the entire album, you couldn't skip around like you could with CD’s or MP3’s (I mean you could, but you’d run the risk of fucking up your tape). So it made me love the album as a whole piece of work. I’d have to say other monumental epiphany’s for me were the first time I heard bands like Fugazi, Faith No More, and more recently with Beelzefuzz.

Q: Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

A: Truthfully, I think our approach is very common to a lot of other bands, we just get together and start up the riff-machine. We’ll just bring a couple cool riffs in and we’ll literally just jam on those 2 or 3 riffs for a few hours until we think they’d fit something cool. I write the lyrics last. It’s a very boring process honestly. I’d love to say that we gather in a dark room with cloaks and red candles burning and summon the gods of rock and roll past all while sacrificing goats and playing records backwards, but really we just drink beer and try to not fuck up a whole lot.

Q: Who has influenced you the most? Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

A: When we first got together I wanted a band that sounded like Nazareth meets Pepper-era Corrosion of Conformity. We are all huge 70’s rock fans, but when we go out on the road we like to jam everything from Social Distortion to Blackfoot to Faith No More. We just really dig straight up rock n’ roll, the dirtier and grittier the better. We've been working on some new stuff that sounds like Viking Skull meets Artimus Pyledriver, so we've been really excited to hear where it’s taking us. It’s been pretty fun actually.

Q: We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music? Where'd the band name come from?

A: Delaware is a very strange place musically. There’s a handful of decent and talented bands doing their thing, but there’s no collective “scene” for any one particular genre here in my opinion. We are not really a band of our environment, because there are no “brother” or “sister” bands around here to feed off of creatively. I always told the guys, “Well, if the audience won’t come to us, then we’ll go to them”. So, 2 years ago we took the show on the road. As far as the band name, there’s really no interesting or clever story with the name. I joined the band when they already had the name so we just left it. Boring, I know.

Q: You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

A: I’d have to say either “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” or “Porky’s”. Two great classic’s in my mind, haha.

Q: You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

A: Damn, that’s a hard one, I’d have to say “Changin’ Times” by Nazareth or “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas. The first time I heard the “Hair of the Dog” record and looking at the cover art as a 10 year old kid it really left a lasting impression on me. It mixed the dark and eerie cover art concept with such a raw and groovin’ ass rock song, it has always been one of my all-time favorite songs. No matter what mood I’m in, good or bad, as soon as that vocal intro kicks in on “Wayward Son” I just rock out super hard. It’s just an awesome song.

Q: What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

A: Man, we just want people to leave our shows saying “fuck dude, those were some seriously righteous ass riffs”. We just wanna play straight up rock and roll that people can groove to. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re not interested in sparking a new genre of underground rock music. We just want our audience to come out, have a few beers with us and just enjoy heavy rock and roll music with no expectations. What has been some of the best shows we’ve ever played are the ones where we get to play with bands that we listen to everyday. We just like to play music that we’d listen to, plain and simple.

Q: Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

A: Well other than stuffing bananas in our leather pants and cranking our amps up to 11, there’s really not much to tell. We are pretty boring dudes. Although we are playing the idea of naming our next full length “Shark Sandwich”.

Q: Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

A: The biggest obstacle that we are constantly trying to overcome live is finding the ideal set length when we play. I am of the opinion that in the world we live in today, people’s attention spans are super short and the amount of time you have on that stage to really blow their minds or get your best material across is very limited. So, for us the live experience is just a quick 25-30min short blast of blood, sweat and tears poured into our best songs and when we get off that stage we hope that the audience has been blown away and still wants more. When we just recently went out and did a run of dates on our way to the “Days of the Doomed IV” festival, we played the same 25 minute set every night, and we got such great responses each night, so it leads me to believe that sometimes you just gotta hit ‘em with all your bangers, and hope they wait for you at your merch table when you’re done.

Q: What makes a great song?

A: The simplicity of a good catchy riff. Drums that sound as if they were coming through the speakers, and just something with soul that just happens to get stuck in your head. I like songs where even if I don’t completely relate to or comprehend the lyrical context, if I’m singing along to the chorus and rocking out to the riff I’m digging the song. I know for some people it’s the complexity and the layers of instrumentation and all that, but I’m old school man… Give me Back in Black, or Rock & Roll Fantasy anyday.

Q: Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

A: The first song we ever wrote together was called “Cracking Up”. It was basically just a straight up no-frills rock song that we recorded ourselves in a dirty dingy garage. It was an older piece that they had been jamming on before I joined up. We recorded it for shits and giggles and it’s on our first EP “Cinco Dechado De Cancion”.

Q: What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

A: I’d honestly have to say that “Absinthe Queen” is one our proudest moments. When we wrote that song we had just picked up our new guitarist Dave and several weeks prior had just fired our founding guitarist. We had a replacement lined up but due to scheduling conflicts couldn’t really make it work. So the future of the band was very much in question at the time. So, we brought in this new guy to try out and to see if we could still make shit happen and he busted out that riff… fuck I was so relieved. I thought to myself, I think we’re gonna be okay. That song is a proud moment for me because it symbolized a new direction for us and a more enjoyable direction actually. We keep it in the set when we play live and it’s definitely a shot in the ass when we play it.

Q: Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

A: Man, I’d really have to say our buds in Borracho absolutely kill it with each new record. A few newer bands that I’ve been really sweet on lately are King Bison from PA, King Buffalo from Rochester, NY and The Glorious Rebellion from Florida. They’re on constant rotation on my ipod. I love hearing bands that possess so much of what I grew up listening to, but taking it into another direction or evolving it into something fresh and interesting. I think all those bands I mentioned are doing just that.

Q: Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

A: I know I’ll probably get lynched for saying it, but since I am a man that is always on the go, I’d have to go with digital. I hit the ground running every day so I don’t have time to be flipping through CD booklets, I just throw my iPod on shuffle and hit it. When I’m at home I will jam on some cassettes here and there, but mainly I’m a digital junkie. Although I did just acquire a new component system with a turntable, so I’ll be jamming more vinyl at home. I’m also impatient as fuck, so instant downloading and mp3’s keep my earholes filled with fresh stuff.

Q: Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

A: We are some serious beer drinking sonsabitches, but for some reason when we play out people love buying us shots of whiskey, so it’s a hard choice, but I’d have to go with beer. Since most of the venues we play give us free cans of whatever, we have become quite the beer connoisseurs. I can’t wait for Pumpkin Beer season though, I fucking love that shit!

Q: We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

A: I’m from Bear, Delaware. Which is right outside of Newark, Delaware, where the University of Delaware is. There’s a record store there called Rainbow Records. It’s small, but hey so is Delaware. There’s also a couple cool newer spots called Jupiter Records and Grooves and Tubes, both in the dangerous city of Wilmington, haha.

Q: What's next for the band?

A: We’re gonna be hooking up with some friends and doing a handful more dates this year. We’re doing a weekender with Kingsnake and Borracho in September, then hooking up with Weed is Weed in October and then we’ll probably we closing out the year up in Long Island with our buds in John Wilkes Booth. I personally hate gigging in the winter, but we also want to start writing again, so we’re gonna call it a day in late October/early November. We’re already discussing tour plans for 2015 with a possible split 7” and also discussing the next full length.

Q: Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

A: The response to the new record has been absolutely killer, thank you to anyone who’s had the chance to check it out or pick it up. We invested literally every penny we had into that record so it’s awesome to hear so many people dig it. We’re looking forward to seeing you all again soon!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Death Penalty - S/T

Sometimes I just want to give Racer a big hug.  This gem of an album showed up in my email box and it has been bringing me happiness ever since.  I didn't know they made music like this any more.  Yeah, that means its a throwback to an earlier time when metal was just getting its feet under itself.  There have been many years and some pretty successful bands that have laid the foundation for this stuff, and then you get something like this that builds on that foundation.

If you're looking for the latest and greatest thing in metal, its not here.  But Death Penalty have brought us what I can only call a NWOBHM masterpiece.  Looking at the pedigree of this band, that's a bit of a surprise.  This is the new band of one Gaz Jennings, who spent two decades plus as the guitarist and songwriter for doom legends Cathedral.  The man can flat out write a riff.  This is some of the catchiest stuff I've heard in a long time.  He's joined by singer Michelle Nocon and drummer Fredrik “Cosy” Cosemans, both of doomsters Serpentcult.  Raf Meukens joins in on bass.  That's a lot of doom metal musicians but this is not doom.  Most of this takes place at a tempo that would drive doom bands insane. 

What we do have here is stuff that will put a smile on your face if you are in any way a fan of Iron Maiden, who are unarguably the most successful NWOBHM band.  Not to say in any way that this is just a Maiden copycat band.  Far from it.  But that is firmly where they fall to my ears.  And there ain't nothing wrong with that.  A careful listen also shows some death metal flourishes, and “Children Of The Night” is a perfectly plausible Black Sabbath track.  There are certainly some touches of doom, in which all these musicians are well versed.  But this is solid, satisfying music.  The guitars crunch and crush, the drums are just right where they should be and hit hard, and the bass lays it down, solid and heavy.

The two stars of this release for me are Michelle Nocon's vocals and the songwriting.  Her vocals are just fantastic and fit this music like a glove.  Which means that the songs were written for her and with her in mind.  This is just heavy music, nothing light or “girly” about it.  “The One That Dwells” is probably the best example on the whole album of what this band can do.  It's a slower tempo track, and at times it's just vocals and guitar, but when the whole band joins in it feels like a cannonball to the gut.

Standout tracks for me are “Howling At The Throne Of Decadence” and “Eyes Of The Heretic”, both of which are outstanding examples of what this band can do at a gallop, when they unleash what they are capable of at up tempo.  “She Is A Witch” is just gorgeously heavy as it slips back and forth between tempos, sometimes mid paced, sometimes crawling like a beast out of the primordial muck.  The lyrics are great and it moves so fluidly.  Probably my favorite on the album.

If you consider yourself at all a fan of what gets called “classic metal” these days, pick this one up right away.  This is one of the better albums I've heard all year and it just makes you feel good about this metal genre we love.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Yusuf/Cat Stevens Announces First New Music in 5 Years, Tour

Yusuf, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer formerly known as Cat Stevens, will release his first music in five years and perform six shows in North America in early winter.

Sony's Legacy Recordings will release "Tell ‘Em I’m Gone" on Oct. 27 as part of a deal that will see future releases of new recordings, existing catalog titles, previously unreleased live material and new videos.

The new album's 10 tracks are divided between new originals and covers of songs such as the blues classic "Big Boss Man," Edgar Winter's "Dying To Live" and Procol Harum's "The Devil Came From Kansas."

Recorded in Los Angeles, Dubai, Brussels and London with Rick Rubin co-producing, Yusuf enlisted Richard Thompson, blues harpist Charlie Musselwhite, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, the group Tinariwen and guitarist Matt Sweeney.

Yusuf/ Cat Stevens will begin his first North American tour in 35 years on Dec. 1 at Massey Hall in Toronto. He has six dates schedule for November in Europe.

Dec. 1                     Toronto- Massey Hall

Dec. 4                     Boston- Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre

Dec. 7                     New York City- Beacon Theatre

Dec. 9                     Chicago- The Chicago Theatre

Dec. 12                   San Francisco- The Masonic

Dec.14                    Los Angeles - Nokia Theatre

Little Big Wolf - S/T

Australia has always been a mysterious place to me. Growing up relatively far away and removed from anything Aussie other than Crocodile Dundee I don’t know a whole lot about it. The country is huge geographically, and not unlike the USA seems to be diverse from its climate, landscape, populace and music scenery. The Aussies sure do have some cool music as evidenced by today's review.

Little Big Wolf is from Australia. Had to throw that in as if you didn't gather that from my introductory sentence. These guys play a brand of blues-rock seldom duplicated. It's got a rather spaghetti western flair with a creepy vocal tone slurring together rhymes like fear loathing around in Las Vegas. From the get go 'Rum & Cigarettes' sets the stage with its hazy, drunken and nonconformist attitude. "Well I rolled into town, drink in my hand, smoke in my face cause I don't care about grace...." The music soaks you with liquor, strangles you with smoke, and satiates you with a jazzy fusion of swampy, psychedelic blues-rock.

The album plays through quick although the songs are not fast. Twanging in just over 30 minutes, it's an album worthy of an immediate repeat to confirm how extremely badass it just made you feel. Like a soundtrack to a Danny Trejo movie or something, the album puts a spell on you knowing you aren't really as rugged and tough as the theme of the music suggests. The spell lasts throughout the entire record.

Perfect Saturday afternoon drink’n and drug’n music. Let the dust blow across the rotting wooden deck while you squint through a pair of smudged aviator glasses and imagine the songs are about you. Let the sarcastic lyrical poetry float into your mind and enjoy being the Wolf for once, even if you’re a little imaginative one.

-The Huntsman

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brian Farmer - In Memoriam

It takes a lot of work to put on a rock and roll show.  Very rarely do the people who work to make the venue and stage an environment where bands and performers can display their craft in the best possible environment to lay it down in get the recognition they deserve.  Sometimes however, the crew becomes as much of the ambience as the band.  It’s rare, but it happens.

When your boss is one of the most well known rock and roll guitar virtuosos on the planet, you have to have as much recognition as he does. Brian Farmer, who passed away in his Nashville home on August 24th, was one of those rare cases.  Half rock and roll looney, half technical mastermind, Farmer kept Warren Haynes’ guitars and amps on the up and up and wailing night after night, tour after tour, with band like The Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, Phil Lesh and Friends, and The Dead; not to mention Warren’s countless other projects and appearance over the years.  

Farmer was as much of the show as the musicians.  He was commonly confused for Warren.  He was known to wear t-shirts saying “I’m Not Him” or “I’m Not Warren” in an effort to curtail unnecessary applause from the audience when he was line checking before the band went on.  He had a relationship with the fans though.  They knew who he was and he made them feel like he knew them.  When I was in the front row at Gov’t Mule’s 2009 Rothbury show, Farmer got a laugh out of us when he did this slapstick checking of his pockets saying, “I knew I left those mushrooms around here somewhere.”  

I don’t know if he ever found his stash that night or not, but it was just as much fun for me watching him work as he trouble shot something that was happening with Warren’s amps without so much as an audible hitch or flub. 

It will be weird not seeing him around Gov’t Mule or Allman Brothers shows.  You just expected to see him.  It’s not always pleasant when something familiar goes away.  I’m sure it will be just as difficult for Warren to do shows without Farmer as it is to do them without Allen Woody on the bass.  The band, who is currently celebrating it’s 20th year, went on when Woody unexpectedly passed away.  I’m sure it will still keep going without Farmer changing strings at the tech table.  However, I think it is safe to say that Farmer is going to be missed sorely by the fans and musician community that he obviously loved and in return was loved by. 

- The Grime

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cleaning out the Shelves - The Single Life - 7 Inches of Fun featuring The Monkees, Thundermug, Mazarati, and Sweet Justice

Another installment of the column where you listen to the music with me and help me decide what stays and what goes.

The Monkees - I'm a Believer b/w (I'm not your) Steppin' Stone

Damn do the Monkees sound good.  Yeah, go ahead tell me all you want about how they were manufactured, yadda yadda yadda.  Simply put, The Monkees are damn fine '60's pop, and these two cuts are the pinnacle of Monkee fun.  "I'm a Believer" of course was written by Neil Diamond and features all classic components fo '60's Neil.  Great hooks, strumming guitars, and a huge melody.  Micky Dolenz does a fine job on the vocal here, smooth and straight forward.  Forget the Smashmouth cover, The Monkees did it much better with some nice guitar and huge organ sounds.  Simply perfect.

But the real treat here (for me) is (I'm not your) Steppin Stone, written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.  This is about as mean and nasty as The Monkees got during their peak pop years, with a menacing bass line, a sinister tom and organ break down, a driving riff, and Mickey going all out on the venom in his vocals.  A killer cut.  Best of all, I found this with the original Colgems picture sleeve.  Yes, I'm not embarrased to admit it, I'm a Monkee Man!  Found it for $1.  Definitely a keeper

Thundermug - Africa (promotional copy, no B-side) 

Trippy, psychedelic '70's rock from this Ontario based band.  I'd never heard about Thundermug until Tony Reed told me about them and played a track on our radio show.  This song cooks along with a tribal drum beat, unusual song construction and a call and response vocal that leads into a driving chorus.   Acoustically-based hard rock but heavy on the melody, like fellow Canadian rockers, The Guess Who with maybe a touch of The Kinks.  Definitely and oddball, but an oddball with character.  Fun.  Found it for 25 cents.  A keeper.

Mazarati - Player's Ball b/w I Guess It's All Over

Coming from the fertile Minneapolis R&B scene circa 1986 -at the peak of Prince's popularity- it shouldn't be a surprise what Mazarati sounds like.  If you need more clues, the album (and this single) were released on Prince's Paisley Park Records and the songs were produced by Brown Mark and David Z, both members of Prince's Revolution.  And in case you still need another hint, just look at the cover with the multi-racial band sporting big hair and outrageous clothes.  Yes, this is Prince-lite in all its derivative glory.

Mazarati never made it big, probably because they just didn't have one ounce of their own identity.  Way too Prince-sounding.  Why buy Mazarati when you could just wait for the next Prince album which was sure to be better and more original and creative.  Still, there is some merit here.  Player's Ball is a snappy little rock/funk number that would've fit in very well as the warm up band in the Purple Rain movie.  Prince-esque vocal tics, yelps and even a psychedelic guitar break all tip their hat to the master.  I Guess it's Over is a slow burner of a ballad and probably the better song here with a thumping bass and a smooth flow.

Found it for 50 cents.  Nothing original here, but an obscure enough snapshot of a once very fertile scene that's probably worth keeping.

Sweet Justice - Guns of Navarone b/w I Just Wanna Have Something to Do and I Wanna Be Loved

Formed by Frank Meyer (formerly of the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs) and Bruce Duff (formerly of ADZ, Jeff Dahl and .45 Grave) originally as a soundtrack project but eventually became a full-time concern and released one album on Real O Mind Records in 2004.   Punk rock with a roots/alt rock vibe is the name of the game here.  Guns of Navarone was the lead-off track from the album, but in truth is a bit too much Green Day for me in structure and vocal texture.  An OK song for sure, and if Green Day had never existed, I'd probably be thrilled by it.  But in the real post-Green Day world, it's simply there.

 The stars here are the two cuts on the flipside, both non-album tracks.  "I Just Wanna Have Something to Do" has a strong Ramones-vibe to it, complete with Joey Ramone vocal inflections, but it rocks all the same, with it's pop punk flavor.  And midway through when the lads step on the gas it becomes a bit of a true punk raver.  The diamond in this rather rough slab of coal.  "I Wanna Be Loved" is a bit of an odd gothic/country ballad that smolders along in a slightly off key, off kilter way and somehow is simply endearing.

Not a great punk record, but still an odd ball and fun.  Found it for $1.  I'll keep it.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Mongo Santamaria - Soul Bag

It's been a long time since a record has really kicked my ass. And it's been a long time since I've written anything for Ripple. Both problems were solved while record shopping on my birthday last month. I stumbled across a copy of Mongo Santamaria's instrumental LP Soul Bag at Academy Records on 18th Street. I only knew one song off it but figured it had to be pretty good. When I got it home and put it on the turntable I could tell immediately it was a complete stone gett-off.

Side one opens with a flat out scorching version of "In The Midnight Hour". Mongo and the band really lay it down and Sonny Fortune delivers a killer solo on alto sax. The jam is short and to the point and gets you ready for the best version of Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do" that you will ever hear. Baritone sax gooses the beat along while Hubert Laws wails on tenor. "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay" slows things down a bit before it gets funkier on "Hot Dog." The final song on side one is one of the greatest jams I have ever heard. Mongo's version of "Cold Sweat" has long been a favorite of mine. It's a tradition that on the first warm day of spring I blast this tune while cruising around City Island in the Bronx. James Brown is #1 in my book and "Cold Sweat" is one of his very best, but Mongo's version is hard to beat. 8 minutes of serious thumping groove with Mongo pounding the holy hell out of his congas. The other percussionists are also great and Bernard Purdie's drumming is simply incredible.

Flip it over and you get smokin' workouts on "My Girl" and "Respect." The energy dips for a corny flute fueled version of "Up, Up and Away" but gets back on track with a funky, funky "Green Onions" and more great baritone sax from Sonny Fortune. "Groovin'" and "Chili Beans" wrap up the rest of this great album.

Right after I bought this album I played it for a friend of mine who knew nothing about Mongo. He said something like "how's a conga player get a record deal?" After about 30 seconds of being pummeled by his polyrhythmic assault he said "now I know!" About a week later I found another copy of Soul Bag and gave it to him. We're both hooked on it. Track it down and you will be too. MONGO!!!

- Woody

Green Onions

Cold Sweat
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