July 31

Fleetwood Mac Friday! Yeah!

Today we listened to 1979s double album, extravaganza… Fleetwood Mac ‎– Tusk:

Look, I don’t want to crap all over this record… I’m a FM fan, for crisakes! But it’s hard to look at the great Fleetwood Mac record from 1975 and the even greater Rumors from 1977 and see this follow-up as anything but an overindulgent effort from a power-hungry Lindsay Buckingham.

Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the band followed suit! I mean, just look at the over-the-top packaging… a double album, with a sleeve-inside-sleeve-inside a jacket! The most egregious example of self-worship is the record 1 side 1 sleeve showing a photo of the band… Buckingham looks like a made-up/embalmed Pharaoh while Fleetwood looks like the love child of Robert Plant and Tommy James:

Even so, this album produced two top 10 singles, the title track and the Nicks penned Sara:

There are several other decent McVie and Nicks tunes on this LP, and quite a few weird Buckingham tunes as well. The real beauty of this record is the realization that even an uber-expensive, no-holds-barred, aggrandizeation like Tusk couldn’t contain Buckingham or Nicks.

July 30

“Now I know, Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say”

That lyric has been bouncing around in my head for weeks after hearing Heart cover it at a recent concert. The song is Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.

From the 1972 album Honky Château, this is one of my all time favorite Elton John ‎songs:

“I thought I knew, but now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City”

This record has the hits Honky Cat and Rocket Man on side A. Besides Mona Lisas, another standout track on side B is Slave, his take on Antebellum America:

“Until you’ve seen this trash can dream come true, You stand at the edge, while people run you through”

Honky Château continues Elton John’s departure from balladeer towards bandleader. This is his first record to feature his touring band, Davey Johnstone, Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson exclusively on an album. There is even a spot on the album cover devoted to violinist Jean-Luc Ponty as a band member (even though he only appeared on two of the albums non-hit tunes)!

“And I thank the Lord, there’s people out there like you, I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you”

Yes indeed!

July 29

So, I had Monday off. I took advantage and went out vinyl hunting in a few thrift stores in eastern Spokane, known as Spokane Valley. The pick’ens were OK… I did find a still sealed copy of Kinky Friedman ‎– Under The Double Ego and Barry Alan Pincus (AKA Barry Manilow) – Greatest Hits Volume II.

One of the genres I’ve been interested in picking is the kitchy dance records released in the late 50s on… anything purporting to be a how to Cha Cha Cha, Twist, Tango or Belly Dance record gets extra attention.  Evening gowns, cocktail glasses, smoky stares into the camera… the more the better.

So, when I came across this record:

I was intrigued. Obviously kitchy, this 1965 (cash in) was a play on the uber-popular Tijuana Brass or the Herb Alpert records of the day… and the smoky eyed model on the cover, clothed in only a hat, a rose and a smirk sealed the deal. Then I looked closer. The label was World Pacific, another name or branch of the fabled Pacific Jazz label. To boot, the cover said “featuring Chet Baker”.

Are you kidding me! Fucking Chet Baker! One of my all time favorite trumpet players, signed to the Pacific Jazz label, is on this record?!?


So, this $1 record filled my whole evening with joy. It was Mariachi, it was jazzy, it had a tune by Sonny Bono… I must’ve played it ten times this evening! It was perfect… like no one had ever laid a stylus on it before.

July 28

I’m feeling the beat today with a couple of records featuring drummers.

Paul Humphrey ‎– Me And My Drums and Gene Krupa ‎– The Rocking Mr. Krupa:


While both “drummer” records, there’s a lot more going on here, obvs…

Paul Humphry, who is a new name to me, was a session guy for many of the big 60s jazz guys, Mingus and Montgomery to name drop two.  He became a bandleader through the 70s, which is the era of this record… 1979 on Stanson Records.

Me And My Drums is a fusion record with some disco-y bits thrown in. All in all the style of each track was varied enough to keep you on your toes. Although a bit dated, there is still a lot to like hear. #1 is the production… it is a truly great sounding record! #2, there are only two dudes making all this music, Humphry and his co-conspirator Tony Drake (credited with 5 of 7 writing credits. #3, the drums are front and center in most of the mix, really putting a spotlight on the talents of Mr. Humphry.

The final cut, Uncle Nate’s Dream (Snore) includes an underlying track of, I assume, Uncle Nate snoring!

One other gig that Humphrey held down was as the drummer for the Lawrence Welk Show, check it:

The Krupa record (from 1953 on the Clef label) is a trio affair with Charlie Ventura on bass and Eddie Shu on, well, everything else! It includes the seminal Sing, Sing, Sing that became Krupa’s calling card:

On side B the trio becomes drums, bass and harmonica! Weird. If there is a fault with this record it is that the drums are actually buried in the overall mix, outside the solos.

July 27

My Stevie Wonder selection for this month is 1974s Fulfillingness’ First Finale:

This is Wonder’s 17 studio album and the 4th (or 5th, depending on who’s counting) of his so called “classic period”. Although featuring the dance floor hits Boogie On Reggae Woman and the scolding You Haven’t Done Nothin (featuring a chorus of doo doo wops from the Jackson 5), this record has a more introspective and somber tone on some tracks.

Particularly so was the ode to Rapture They Won’t Go When I Go.

I suppose Wonder can be forgiven for this tone, a year earlier a car accident landed him in a day’s long coma in the middle of one of the most creative periods of his life.

Another interesting note on Fulfillingness’ First Finale, it seemed to include more special guests and collaborative players than some of Wonder’s other more DIY records, including Paul Anka, Minnie Ripperton and Sneeky Pete.

My copy is only VG and a placeholder for when I find a less noisy version.

July 26

I’m sorry to break this to you on your birthday, Mick… This probably ain’t gonna’ go over well.

I picked up some of the early-ish Rolling Stones records on my Wallace, ID trip a while back. Specifically:


The Rolling Stones, Now!, December’s Children, Aftermath and Between The Buttons.

I found that I don’t really care for the earlier Rolling Stones stuff.

As one of my buddies put it, “Sounds like a crap Chuck Berry cover band“.

I guess I’m more of a Hot Rocks old stuff, Let It Bleed on album kind of guy.

I hope this doesn’t spoil your special day Mick. All the best.


July 25

Meet me, Jesus, meet me. Meet me in the middle of the air.
If my wings should fail me, Lord. Please meet me with another pair.

I just listened to the 2015 remastered, reissued version of Led Zeppelin ‎– Physical Graffiti:

There is nothing I can say to add to the discussion of this great record. It came to be my favorite LZ album in the 1980s and remains my top LZ record in a Desert Island Disc sense.

Two memories spring to mind whenever this record plays. #1 was of my first military deployment, in the back of the transport, cassette Walkman playing the familiar and comforting tones of Custard Pie while my safe and known world slipped away. #2 was cranking Kashmir on the I-5 while driving a buddy’s brother and friends to a pop concert I was loathing (but ended up enjoying).

July 24

Happy Fleetwood Mac Friday!

As all good things must come to an end so must the discovery phase of my investigation into the  post- Peter Green, pre-Buckingham/Nicks era of the band.

The album is 1971s Future Games:

This was the first record to feature Bob Welch and Christine McVie (as a full on member of the band). Collaborative credits are nonexistent with each writer taking solo credit for their songs. The exception was the oddball What A Shame, a toss off middle finger to the record company who contractually obligated the band to produce eight tracks for the record.

In that respect, this record kind of reminds me of the Beatles – White Album… it’s pretty easy to say “oh, here’s a Kirwan tune, there’s a McVie song, oop, here’s Welch!”

Future Games sounds more trippy and ethereal pop than Kiln House, a definite departure from the blues/rock era (Welch’s Lay It All Down exception) and there would be no turning back. The band’s sextant was pointed toward pop superstardom and they didn’t even know it.

So there you have it. Final impressions? These albums are worthy rock records of the era. I’m not sure if any of them would make my top 100 (Kiln House was a definite favorite), but I hope a new familiarity with these albums will give me an even greater appreciation of the Fleetwood Mac we all know and love.

Here are the links to the other FM albums of this era that I reviewed:


Kiln House

Mystery To Me

Heroes Are Hard To Find

Bare Trees

Ps…one final thought on these albums. If you ever wanted to know what a properly recorded drum kit sounds like, reviewing these records could be considered a master class. (IMHO)

July 23

In the late 1990s, sometime after the release of Now That I’ve Found You, but before the release of O Brother, Where Art Thou?  I was lucky enough to be involved with bringing Miss Alison Krauss to concert in Great Falls, Montana.

She and her band, Union Station, sold out the 2000 seat auditorium with ease.

That was no surprise; Krauss was a multiple Grammy winner, Grand Ole Opry member, and country music Top Ten recording superstar! I was late to the game (as per usual).

What I did have as of the day of the show was a VG+ copy of Krauss’ debut album on Rounder: Too Late To Cry


Of course, I took this vinyl copy to the pre show/sound check and was lucky enough to get a “Many thanks” autograph on the jacket. The show was fantastic… still one of my top 10 concerts, with plenty of interaction between the band and the crowd. Especially memorable was the reception of arch-dobro newgrass superstar Jerry Douglas and hints of O Brotherdlyness from one Daniel John “Dan” Tyminski.

Krauss was understandably reclusive away from the spotlight, having been in one for most of her life. She was with her new husband and sought solace from annoying autograph hounding promoters in green rooms and hotel suites. Union Station, on the other hand, were more than willing to “socialize” with the locals, however, and were particularly smitten with Great Falls landmark nightspot The Sip-N-Dip:


Piano Pat, mermaids and beer from the Harvest Moon Brewing Company ensured a good time by all!

Happy 44th birthday Ms. Krauss!

July 22

PBS television sucked. That’s the opinion I had in high school anyway. It was great for Sesame Street when I was  a kid, but, as an “adult”, it was all boring news and Masterpiece Theater.

Then came Cosmos:

This 13 part series interested, captivated, informed and challenged me like nothing else I had ever experienced. It was breathtaking in its scope and presentation and I made damn sure I was in front of that TV before every episode in that 1980 VCR-less world.

So, there was no way I was going to pass this up when found at a thrift store:

The Music Of Cosmos – Various Artists.

This record was broken up into six sections three on side A and three on side B.

  • Part one, entitled Space/Time continuum, represents the latest big bang, and includes pieces by Vangelis and Shostakovich.
  • Part two Life, has some beautiful pieces by Pachelbel, Bach and Vivaldi… plus an interesting piece of Japanese traditional music called Depicting the Cranes in Their Nest.
  • Part three, The Harmony of Nature is all Bach’s Partita No. 3.
  • Side B begins with Exploration, with pieces by Hovhaness and Rimsky-Korsakov, with some “modern” tunes from a band called Synergy and another by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.
  • Part five, Cataclysm, deals with the chief peril of the day, nuclear annihilation, with more Vangelis.
  • Part six, Affirmation, has us imagining “a Cosmos, resplendent with beauty and, perhaps, rippling with life” as the music once again returns to a reprise of part one.

This 40-ish minutes of music, great liner notes, photos and Carl Sagan quotes was an afternoon well spent.