Thursday, November 30, 2017

Strawbs, Sellersville Theater, 11/10/2017, Early Show; Progressive Rock is Alive and Well

Photo by Matt Condon via

File this one under live music that I never thought I'd see. For what seems like the last decade, the Acoustic Strawbs have been periodically touring the U.S. I've thought about going more than once and although some of their music would lend itself well to the acoustic treatment, you really need the full band to do justice to the Hero and Heroine type material.

The Strawbs have reassembled the full electric band and they are now out on tour. The Strawbs are Dave Cousins (founder) on lead vocals and acoustic guitars, Dave Lambert on guitars and vocals, Dave Bainbridge on keyboards and guitar, Chas Cronk on bass, and Tony Fernandez on drums. All five are consummate musicians; when they play, the music is extraordinary. Cousins' voice is so uniquely distinctive that when he sings you would not mistake this band for any other.

They opened with a very impressive and weighty track, "The Nails from the Hands of Christ", from their new album The Ferryman's Curse (CD due December 8th). The show was loud and sounded like The Strawbs at their progressive best. I'm sure that I wasn't the only one at the show who was pleasantly surprised to find that their new material was so strong, even in comparison to their seventies glory days. All told, they did four terrific tracks from the album. Watch the videos below and check them out.

"The Ten Commandments" was a flat out rocker, and I can't get enough of "The Familiarity of Old Lovers", which featured twin lead guitars played by Lambert and Bainbridge. They went back to the album Nomadness for "The Promised Land". From Bursting at the Seams they drew a pair of tracks, "The River" and "Down by the Sea", complete with a great intro by Cousins.

The Strawbs sounded amazing throughout the show which concluded with an excellent suite of songs from Hero and Heroine (1974). Before launching into that part of the set, Cousins noted that Hero and Heroine has been their biggest selling album over the years and that in 2015 Rolling Stone magazine included Hero and Heroine on its list of the 50 all time best prog rock albums.

The suite began with the multi-part "Autumn" sounding more amazing than I ever dared hope. That was followed by a hot rendition of the title track, "Hero and Heroine". After a brief instrumental, they finished with the one-two punch of "Out In the Cold" and "Round & Round", which left my head spinning with what an incredible show I had just witnessed.

Breaking with normal concert tradition, as Cousins noted, they came out for their encore and played another excellent track, "We Have the Power", from their new album. The Sellersville Theatre was packed with The Strawbs' faithful who tried hard to bring the group back out for a second encore. I was thinking that "Benedictus" from Grave New World would have made a sweet second encore being that it was their first song to receive significant air play in Philadelphia, but it was not to be.

I might ordinarily be inclined to say that the Hero and Heroine suite was my favorite part of the show. However, as great as it was to hear that, I'm here to say that the best part of the show was how good the new material sounded. It is gratifying to know that progressive rock is alive and well in 2017.

Many thanks to the Sellersville Theater for the sound and lighting. Thanks also to Beverly Kates for camera and to Lindsey Mitchell for video production.

Setlist - Click linked songs to watch
01. The Nails from the Hands of Christ
02. Ghosts
03. The Promised Land
04. The Ten Commandments
05. The River/ Down by the Sea
06. The Familiarity of Old Lovers
07. Autumn: Heroine's theme / Deep summer's sleep / The winter long
08. Hero and Heroine
09. Link (Instrumental)
10. Out In the Cold/ Round & Round
11. We Have the Power (Encore)

Photo by Matt Condon via

Strawbs Website
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Friday, November 24, 2017

Nora Jane Struthers - Sellersville Theater, 10/28/2017; Struthers and Her Band Played Two Sets at Sellersville Showcasing Her New Album, Champion, and Much More

Photo courtesy of Nora Jane Struthers

Saturday night October 28th: When I got home from the concert, I posted the following to Nora Jane Struthers' FaceBook page:

Thank you Nora Jane for bringing your show to the Sellersville Theatre tonight. I have wanted to see you live ever since falling in love with your last album, Wake. In addition to the great songs, there's something about that record which gives it a good time bar band vibe. After missing you at the Steel Stacks in August, I wasn't going to miss this one. It was a fantastic night and your live show puts it all in perspective. Thanks also for coming up to say hi. It was a great night of music and everyone there enjoyed the heck out of it.

With no opening act, Struthers played two sets. The first set was drawn largely from her latest album, Champion, and from Wake, her previous record.

What attracts me to this artist even more than the excellent songwriting, production, and vocals by Struthers, is the extraordinary high level of musicianship. Nora Jane's husband, Joe Overton, plays a myriad of instruments including some magnificent pedal steel; he's also adept at the fiddle, guitar, and banjo. I'm also a fan of Josh Vana's electric guitar work, plus he plays acoustic guitar and some harmonica. For the show, we only heard half of her first rate rhythm section, specifically the Brian Duncan Miller on bass half; drummer Drew Lawhorn made a commitment before this show was booked, so Struthers decided to go without. She explained, while introducing "Grass", that going drummerless would present a number of musical challenges, as well as an opportunity to play some material that they don't usually play.

After the intermission, she performed an acoustic duet with Overton on "Susannah Gal". Then, as a special treat Struthers brought out her dad Alan Struthers for another acoustic duet, "Happy Sunny Side". The father-daughter duo, who once jokingly referred to themselves as the Struthers Brothers, just recorded a new album together, their second, which Struthers said would be released in late 2018 or some time in 2019. The sixteen tracks of that album can be heard now and/or downloaded via Struthers' Patreon page. According to Struthers, the duo's debut album dates back to 2009 and she proudly noted that the initial run of 1,000 copies has sold out.

Overton returned to the stage for a family trio rendition of the gospel standard "All Night Long" ("Paul and Silas") with lyrics that were drawn directly from scripture.

Struthers covered a lot of ground in her set. She talked about coming from a background of folk and bluegrass; with her current band she has added rock and country to her arsenal. Her live show puts this all into perspective.

Struthers nicely explained the songs she played and talked about growing up in New Jersey; she lives in Nashville now and extended an open invitation to come on down and go "honkytonkin." If you go, don't forget to ask about the Jack Daniels Slushies and have a "holler and a swaller."

Watch "Grass" and check out the gorgeous pedal steel, plus some excellent electric guitar.

Setlist: Click linked songs to watch
01. Each
02. Grass
03. Mistake
04. Wake
05. Dreamin'
06. Champion
07. Belief
08. Just A House (from the seats)
09. Wonderful Home
10. Susannah Gal feat. Joe Overton
11. Happy Sunny Side feat. Alan Struthers
12. Gospel Song - All Night Long
13. Carnival
14. Bike Ride
15. Show Me
16. The Words
17. Won't Back Down

Nora Jane Struthers' Website
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Nora Jane Struthers' Patreon

Monday, October 09, 2017

Danielle Alexa - Daydreams, Single and Video Out Now, A Powerful New Voice in Soul, Pop & Hip-Hop Music

Photos: Iconique Music Group

Danielle Alexa - "Daydreams"
Buy at Amazon
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Danielle Alexa is a 22 year old from San Diego who represents a powerful new voice in soul music. Alexa combines R&B, pop, and hip-hop sensibilities. She counts among her influences icons such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, The Gap Band, and New Edition. Alexa's debut single and video, "Daydreams," has just been released.

“’Daydreams’ was inspired by one of those sleepless nights where your mind drifts off into a surreal no mans land. You get taken along for a ride via your subconscious mind into yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s events,” states Alexa. “I would seemingly open my eyes only to see shadows and images of a fire dancing woman as I wandered through the urban maze, only to find myself daydreaming.”

One listen to "Daydreams" will tell you everything you need to know.

Watch "Daydreams"

Video directed by Danielle Alexa, music by Danielle Alexa, Guy Eckstine, and Evan Marks

Lyrics by Danielle Alexa:
I can’t hide from it no more
It’s not something to ignore
I will never be the same
Take me back to me someday
I want to see what this could possibly mean
I don’t feel like I used to feel
It’s personal:
Maybe no one understands why I do what I do when I do the things I do
Commit me please!
Having conversations with myself in the middle of the street
Daydreams, daydreams, daydreams
Shadows hover in my room
Faces see me every move
And my rent is overdue
I just long to be amused
I want to see what this could possibly mean
I don’t feel like I used to feel
It’s personal:
Maybe no one understands why I do what I do when I do the things I do
Commit me please!
Having conversations with myself in the middle of the street
Daydreams, daydreams, daydreams
A dark deserted forest in my brain
My doctor gave me meds but I threw them down the drain
Been wanderin’ around, don’t know how many days
I don’t even know if I’m awake
Rapid eye movement in the middle of the day
Spinnin’ round in circles like cirque du soleil
Scene one act 2 my life is like a play
Drama is my thing and so is crazy
I want to see what this could possibly mean
I don’t feel like I used to feel
It’s personal:
Maybe no one understands why I do what I do when I do the things I do
Commit me please!
Having conversations with myself in the middle of the street
Daydreams, daydreams, daydreams

Check out this list of the talent that came together to record "Daydreams." The performances, especially Alexa's smooth and soulful vocals, are exceptional by all concerned.
Alan Okuye - Keyboards, Piano, Hammond Organ (Ricky Lee Jones, Bobby Womack)
Evan Marks - Guitar, Keyboards (Verve Records recording artist, Guitarist, San Diego Symphony)
Allan Phillips - Synth Bass (Donna Summer, Patti Labelle, Brenda Russell)

Jonathan Granoff - Electric and Fretless Bass (Ellis Ashbrook, Underground System)
Katisse Buckingham - Saxophone and Flute (Prince, Dr. Dre, Roy Ayers)
Guy Eckstine - Drums, Drum Programming, Percussion, Keyboards (Herbie Hancock, Chris Botti, Quincy Jones)

The Section Quartet (Kanye West, Christina Aguilera, and Devendra Banhart):
Eric Gorfain- Violin, Daphne Chen- Violin, Leah Katz- Viola, Richard Dodd- Cello

Recorded and Engineered by Celso Estrada
Mixed by Dave Trumfio and Celso Estrada
Recorded and Mixed at Kingsize Soundlabs, Los Angeles, CA
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk, New York, NY
Additional Recording - Sea View Sound, Del Mar, CA, The Space Palace, New York, NY.
Additional Engineering Evan Marks, Guy Eckstine, Jonathan Granoff
Lyrics by Danielle Alexa
Music by Danielle Alexa, Guy Eckstine, and Evan Marks
Strings Arrangements by Alan Okuye and Guy Eckstine
Rhythm Arrangements by Guy Eckstine
Produced by Guy Eckstine
Management - Iconique Music Group, NYC
Good Things To Come:
Alexa has already recorded her full length debut, title to be announced. It has eleven tracks, co-written by Alexa with the musicians and production staff listed above. Album producer/musician Guy Eckstine checked in with the latest:
"Danielle Alexa's band rehearsals went great in September and they are now ready to perform live shows! Danielle and her 7 piece band will be performing locally in San Diego a few times before the end of the year, and then in 2018 they will be hitting the road nationally bringing her style of R&B/Soul/Funk/Pop to a city near you! Danielle's next single and music video, "Spin In Circles" begins shooting shortly! Support quality live music you'll feel better for it!"
Amen to that.

“I wanted to make an album that reflected the music that I grew up with. Artists like Christina Aguilera, Chaka Khan, Bobby Brown, and The Gap Band all were major influences on my development as a vocalist and songwriter. I am honoring that tradition and at the same time offering something new that hopefully sounds fresh and interesting.”

Watch the EPK

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Shannon McNally - Sellersville Theater, 9/06/2017, Shannon Delighted the Crowd With Stories and Songs From Black Irish "Let the Best Song Win"; Opener Caroline Reese Debuted Her New EP Two Horses

Photo courtesy of Shannon McNally

Being that I was totally impressed with Shannon McNally's latest album Black Irish, when her tour to promote it was booked into the Sellersville Theater for a show Septemer 6th, it was one that I could not miss.

Even though it had been fifteen years since I last saw her perform (early in her career), it was really interesting that there were some common threads between the two performances. In 2002, when McNally released Jukebox Sparrows, her major label debut, we went to see her at a small venue in Philadelphia, NXNW. At that show, when Bev came back from the ladies room, she mentioned that Shannon was in there preparing to go on stage.

Fast forward fifteen years, and before she even played a note she was telling a story about having a deja vu about a past appearance there and encountering Johnny Winter in the dressing room. "It was nothing terrible," she said, "just not the way you want to see one of your idols." But that was not the only thing. When we saw that show in 2002, she was opening for Levon Helm. At Sellersville, she spoke at length about Helm, and about how much she admired him, and how she used to see him play often, and how she hated to see him reduced to playing little bars. That was part of an intro to "Rock My Soul," a song she wrote in tribute to Helm after his death.
McNally's storytelling is as entertaining as her music, and her show had plenty of both. Brett Hughes accompanied her throughout the set with some well played guitar. McNally drew a little better than half her set from the Black Irish album (see setlist below), which is garnering rave reviews, and not just mine.

In addition to "Rock My Soul", the songs that weren't from Black Irish included "This Never Happened and I Was Never Here", a rarity from her Light Walker Demos EP. She sang her "Bohemian Wedding Prayer", which came from Chasing The Ghost - Rehearsal Sessions with Amy LaVere.

It was nice to hear a couple of songs so new that they haven't been released yet. First was "Cajun", which is the working title of a song that McNally hopes to record with Crowell for an album to follow Black Irish. Accompanist Brett Hughes wrote "Sweet Little Bird" for a solo album, which has yet to be released. For her encore, McNally took an audience request for "Lonesome On'ry And Mean", a song recorded by Waylon Jennings. She prefaced it with an interesting and funny story about signing with Jennings' label.

The song's from Black Irish all sounded great at Sellersville. Hughes' guitar combined with McNally's to flesh out the sound.

The album has a good mix of covers and originals. From it, she sang three of the originals, including "Banshee Moan", which came with Shannon's explanation of the terms Banshee and Banshee Moan as only she could tell it. The best aspect of Black Irish is that the originals are as good as the covers, and the covers are well chosen indeed.

The covers in the set included songwriters such as J.J. Cale (love that she's keeping alive the memory of this talented "Okie") and Susanna Clark who got a story about her being a muse for a whole group of excellent songwriters including her husband Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt ("I want that gig"). When she covered The Staple Singers, she talked about vinyl records and interviewing Mavis Staples at The Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Mississippi.

When you watch the video below you'll see McNally talk about the concept of song writing and recording cover versions, and how if you want songs to live on and have others sing your songs you have sing someone else's songs sometimes. All this came during the intro to her cover of The Band's "It Makes No Difference". She maintained that she couldn't write a better song "so let the best song win."

Few artists open up during a performance the way Shannon does. Armed with some excellent songs and that outsized personality, McNally is the real deal.

Watch "It Makes No Difference"

Setlist: Click on linked songs to watch.

01. You Made Me Feel For You* (Rodney Crowell)
02. Rock My Soul (Shannon McNally)
03. This Never Happened and I Was Never Here (Shannon McNally)
04. Banshee Moan* (w/ Parenting Intro) (Shannon McNally, Rodney Crowell)
05. Low Rider* (J.J. Cale)
06. Bohemian Wedding Prayer (Tag/Prince Intro) (Shannon McNally)
07. Cajun (Shannon McNally)
08. Sweet Little Bird (Brett Hughes)
09. Black Haired Boy* (Susanna Clark)
10. I Went to the Well* (Cary Hudson, Shannon McNally)
11. Let's Go Home* (Vinyl Intro) [Cover of The Staple Singers] ("Pops" Staples)
12. It Makes No Difference* [Cover of The Band](Robbie Robertson)
13. Lonesome On'ry And Mean (Steve Young)
* Drawn from Black Irish

Shannon McNally - Black Irish
Buy at Amazon
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See the complete review.

Shannon McNally's Website
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Photo: Homido

The evening's opening act was Caroline Reese. Her well received seven song set included all four tracks from her Two Horses EP, which was released that Friday (September 8th). The crowd really enjoyed her sense of humor in addition to her music. She was an excellent lead in for McNally.

Watch "Two Horses"

Setlist: Click on linked songs to watch.

01. Nicotine
02. Ease My Mind
03. I'm not Selling the Telecaster
04. New Tricks
05. Snake Eyes
06. Two Horses
07. Die Hard

Caroline Reese - Two Horses
Buy at Bandcamp
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Caroline Reese's Two Horses EP is excellent. The songs, which sounded good solo acoustic, positively shine on the EP where they receive full production including some very expressive pedal steel and lead guitar.

Caroline Reese's Website
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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Aretha Franklin - Mann Music Center, Philadelphia, 8/26/2017; The Queen of Soul Returns to Her Philadelphia Roots

Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

When I first started hearing Aretha Franklin on the radio in 1967, I knew that one day I would see her singing live. I didn't imagine that it would take fifty years though. Actually, we had tickets to see her last year in Bethlehem, PA as part of Musikfest, but the concert wound up being cancelled.

So it was with maximum anticipation that we took our seats at the Mann Music Center on Saturday night, August 26th.

The show was an old fashioned big production with no opening act and a large band on stage. In addition to four backing vocalists, there were as many as 21 other musicians, including a couple of dancers.

The band performed a medley of Aretha's hits. An announcer then introduced the Queen of Soul with a very old school style as Aretha took the stage.

She opened with "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", a song that she sang with George Michael on her 1986 album Aretha. Then she dipped back to her 1976 soundtrack album Sparkle, written and produced by Curtis Mayfield for the title track.

Next up was the first of many highlights of the evening, "Until You Come Back To Me", a song written for her by Stevie Wonder. She followed that with a cover of Ben E. King's "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)", drawn from her 1970 Grammy winning album Spirit in the Dark. At last count, Aretha is the proud owner of eighteen Grammy awards.

On what has been called her "classic diva setlist", she next sang her 1967 hit "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
Carole King wrote the song, but Aretha made it her own. Staying in the sixties, she followed that with "Chain of Fools", a song which reached #2 on the U.S. pop chart in 1968.

Aretha then left stage for a short intermission, during which her band stretched out with a nice instrumental take on Earth, Wind & Fire. I'll take this opportunity to mention a few things. It's been reported that when Aretha resumed her performance schedule earlier this year after a string of cancellations for health reasons dating back to mid 2016, she surprised audiences with a new svelte figure. Even though there is apparently less of her on stage, she still has that voice. The many musicians and singers in her band threatened to drown her out at times, but most of the time she surpassed the backing.

In my opinion, the large band is overkill; they may provide security but I don't think she really needs that much. The show's best parts I thought, were when the backing arrangements were minimal, or the times like in "Respect" when her high throttle voice dominated the backing. The other aspect of this show which was really special, took place in the second half when she spent considerable time talking to the audience with just the organ riffing behind her.

After the "intermission" Aretha retook the stage and talked about one of her mentors, Clara Ward of the Philadelphia based gospel group the Ward Singers, and with that Aretha transformed the Mann into a gospel church in which the band and back up singers sounded totally appropriate. Watch the video and you'll see and hear what I'm talking about. "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" was next, the set's second song from the Curtis Mayfield composed Sparkle soundtrack.

Before launching into "A Brand New Me", Aretha talked about starting her career in Philadelphia, reminiscing about some of the places she had played, and then she talked a bit about boxing and about growing up watching boxing with her dad, and introduced the daughter of boxing great Joe Frasier. These topics seemed spontaneous, which made a nice counterpoint to her otherwise scripted show. "A Brand New Me" is said to be the title track from an album that is planned for November release and according to reports will also include guest appearances by Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie.

Aretha seemed revved up for her second set and next performed the B.B. King penned blues, "Sweet Sixteen". "My Cup Runneth Over" is an Aretha rarity, an outtake from her 1972 album Young, Gifted And Black; the track eventually found release on Aretha's Rare & Unreleased Recordings From The Golden Reign Of The Queen Of Soul (2007).

Next was the crowd pleaser "Freeway of Love", an extra long version, which with intro clocked in over fifteen minutes. Late in the song, Aretha left the stage for a short time, returning for the finish. She then tore it up with "Respect" as the encore. After the main vocal part of "Respect", she left the stage as the announcer said, "The Undisputed Queen of Soul, Ar...etha... Franklin," sounding like a boxing announcer. After the song ended, the band started playing a lengthy version of "There's No Business Like Show Business" during which Aretha came back out to take her bows, and when she left the stage again, the (ring) announcer repeated, "The Undisputed Queen of Soul, Ar...etha...Franklin." The instrumental music continued as the crowd filed out.

Earlier this year Aretha announced her retirement, see the full text below. She is retiring from touring but not performing. She plans to open a self-titled venue in Detroit that sounds very much like the one that B.B. King opened in NYC. That would make this concert part of her farewell tour, but she did say to the Mann audience that there are just a couple of places where she intends to perform a second time before she hangs it up, and Philadelphia is one of them. Seeing Aretha perform at age seventy-five is a complete privilege. She may be going off the road soon, but her music career shows no sign of slowing down.

Watch "Until You Back Come To Me"

Setlist: Click on the linked songs to watch.
01. Think/Natural Woman/Freeway of Love (Performed by the Aretha Franklin Orchestra)
02. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)
03. Sparkle
04. Until You Come Back To Me (Stevie Wonder)
05. Don't Play That Song (You Lied) (Ben E. King)
06. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Carole King)
07. Chain of Fools
08. Band Instrumental - Intermission (Earth, Wind, & Fire)
09. Gospel Interlude (Inspired by mentor Clara Ward)
10. Giving Him Something He Can Feel
11. A Brand New Me
12. Sweet Sixteen (B.B. King)
13. My Cup Runneth Over (Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones)
14. Freeway of Love

15. Respect (Otis Redding)
16. There's No Business Like Show Business (Band Instrumental)

Aretha Franklin Out-Divas All Other Retiring Divas

She’s going home to Detroit, but that’s not all.
by Hilary Weaver, Vanity Fair
AUGUST 17, 2017

Aretha Franklin is settling down into retirement, but she’s doing it her way. The famous diva, who announced in February that she would be retiring after this year, now has a plan for her post-performance days. Per the Detroit Free Press, Franklin will be moving from her current home of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, to a residence in Detroit. But she’s not just going to hole up in a luxurious home, watch old recordings of her performances, and lay low. This is Aretha Franklin. She’s building a nightclub in her hometown Detroit, where—yes—she will sometimes sing.

Franklin told the paper that she and Bruce Schwartz, Detroit relocation ambassador for Bedrock Real Estate Services, have been talking about this move for some years. Now, at 75, the singer is finally ready to make the jump.

“From time to time I would sing, and of course, I would have special artists come in to perform for the city that people in Detroit like—Detroit favorites,” she said of her future plans.

Giving up a life on the road for a regular gig in a single location is a common move for singers, and especially women lately, who have become famous enough that the fans will come to them. Celine Dion has been a Vegas staple since her show began in 2011. Britney Spears has been a regular face around Sin City since 2013. Even Billy Joel took on a Madison Square Garden residency in New York City. Bruce Springsteen, whose tours last years, is coming to Broadway!

But none have opened up their own clubs, much less named it after themselves; the Detroit spot, yes, will be called Aretha’s.

For now, Franklin will continue singing for the masses; the next stop on her tour is the Mann Center in Philadelphia, on August 26. Per Billboard, she is also working on an album with Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Lionel Richie, and Yitzhak Perlman, which will likely be released in January.

Aretha Franklin's Website
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Monday, September 04, 2017

Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer - World Cafe Live, Philadelphia - 8/25/2017; For the First Time Ever the Sisters Record an Album Together and Take It On the Road; Rick Brantley's Opening Set Was a Treat

Photo: All Eyes Media

I have been listening to Shelby Lynne and to Allison Moorer for a long time, so when I saw that they had booked a show together at World Cafe Live on August 25th, it was a must. Each has their own career and their music is different enough from each other that I never realized how similar their voices are until I heard them sing together.

Not Dark Yet is the title of their Teddy Thompson produced album, the first time ever that they have recorded as a duo. For this project they selected some of their favorite songs, nine of the ten songs are covers. The album was released exactly one week before the show, and as I tried to get ready, I played it a few times. The material they chose is excellent, the performances impeccable, and the production was terrific. I could plainly hear that this is a work of quality, but for some reason I felt like I was missing something. Sometimes it seems that the albums which are most satisfying in the long run, are records that you don't immediately "get."

On the fourth spin I found a way in. I started with the final track, the one that they wrote together, and worked backwards. Track ten, "Is It Too Much," is a real gem and may wind up as my favorite song on the album. The lyrics are written so that if you know the tragic story of their parents the words take on their intended weight and intensity; the beauty of the songwriting is that even if you had never heard of them, the song still works. Once that door starts to open, the album seems to do likewise, working backwards. Track nine is the cover of Nirvana's "Lithium," complete with some great grunge guitar work that was even more impressive live. On track eight they cover Nick Cave, Merle Haggard on track seven, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires on track six, and so on. The album seemed to be opening up like a flower.

Photo: Nashville Country Club

Seeing them live later that same day, the thought occurred to me that the album is like a family portrait and in concert that picture comes alive.

As you'll see in the video below, they opened the show with "My List", which also opens the album. Their entrance got a big reaction. With the first notes of the song playing, Shelby and Allison came out holding hands; a nice touch. They then proceeded to play the songs from the album in its entirety, in track order. I greatly enjoyed the fact that they did this. It reminded me of Lynne's SXSW performance in 2008 when she played her (then new) album, Just a Little Lovin', a tribute to Dusty Springfield.

There were lots of stories about growing up in Alabama and about their musical influences. They joked a little and called each other "Sissy". The bond between these sisters is strong.

After performing the ten tracks from Not Dark Yet, Lynne and Moorer offered six more songs to round out the set. All were great to hear. They did "Alabama Song", perhaps one of Moorer's best known compositions. They followed that with Lynne's take on the same subject with a gorgeous reading of "Where I'm From". And the high points kept on coming as Moorer then sang the lovely and delicate lullaby "Easy In the Summertime". On the video, watch the complete intro where Moorer talks about thinking about her childhood and being inspired to write it when she had a child of her own. Read the setlist below for the full details.

In addition to the sisters' voices being similar, it was breathtaking to hear how good the two voices sounded when they blended together. This magic is not unusual among sisters. At this show, Lynne and Moorer accompanied themselves on acoustic guitar and piano. They derived a full band sound with just three backing musicians: Joe V. McMahan on guitar, Jason Weinheimer on bass, and Rick Reed on drums. The band's backing was superb, especially McMahan's guitar work; he had just the right touch throughout the set. Check out his work in the video for "Lithium." When asked about the gig playing on this tour McMahan said, "after two weeks of playing shows almost every day, we have had nothing but good vibes. On stage and off."

Many thanks to World Cafe Live for the sound and lighting. Thank you also to Beverly Kates for camera work and to Lindsey Mitchell for video production.

Watch Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer open the show with "My List".

Setlist: Click on linked tracks to watch.
01. My List (Brandon Flowers, David Keuning, Mark Stoermer)
02. Every Time You Leave (Charlie Louvin, Ira Louvin)
03. Not Dark Yet (Bob Dylan)
04. Looking For Blue Eyes (Jessi Colter)
05. Lungs (Townes Van Zandt)
06. Color of a Cloudy Day (Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires)
07. Silver Wings (Merle Haggard)
08. Into My Arms (Nick Cave)
09. Lithium (Kurt Cobain)
10. Is It Too Much (Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer)
11. She Knows Where She Goes (Allison Moorer)
12. Alabama Song (Allison Moorer)
13. Where I'm From (Shelby Lynne)
14. Easy In the Summertime (Allison Moorer)
15. Thunderstorm/Hurricane (Allison Moorer)
16. I'll Hold Your Head (Shelby Lynne)

Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer - Not Dark Yet
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“Not Dark Yet,” is not a duet record. It is no ordinary collaboration. It is not a creation, but rather a celebration of something that has always been, two voices becoming one and finding home within each other. - Allison Moorer

Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer Website
Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer Facebook
Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer Twitter
Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer Instagram

Shelby Lynne's Website
Shelby Lynne's Facebook
Shelby Lynne's Twitter
Shelby Lynne's Instagram

Allison Moorer's Website
Allison Moorer's Facebook
Allison Moorer's Twitter
Allison Moorer's Instagram

Photo courtesy of Rick Brantley

Rick Brantley opened the show. With a strong voice and his high voltage personality, he quickly established rapport with the audience and it was clear that he is a well seasoned performer. Brantley has opened for John Hiatt and Zac Brown among others.

Musically, he sounds almost like a countrified, acoustic Bruce Springsteen. Brantley calls Nashville home now, but he was born in Macon, Georgia, something he notes during his set when he sings "Try a Little Tenderness", a classic from another son of Macon, Otis Redding. In addition to Redding, other locals including Blind Willie McTell and The Allman Brothers Band numbered among Brantley's early influences.

It's always a treat when an opening act is really good and Brantley had the crowd in the palm of his hand during his seven song set.

Watch Rick Brantley sing "I Still Dream of the Tumbleweeds"

Setlist: Click on linked tracks to watch.
01. 40 Days, 40 Nights
02. I Still Dream of the Tumbleweeds
03. Claudette
04. Try a Little Tenderness
05. Mama's Red Boots
06. Hurt People
06. B - Talking
07. Little Bit More

Rick Brantley - Lo-Fi
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Rick Brantley - Hi-Fi
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Rick Brantley's Website
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Monday, August 21, 2017

John Sebastian, World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, 8/10/2017; With a Wealth of Experience and Music, The Lovin' Spoonful Singer & Songwriter Tells It Like It Was

Photo: The Acoustic Centre

The last time I saw John Sebastian perform was in the Woodstock movie, documenting that most momentous live concert of August 1969. Which is not to say that Sebastian sat on his hands for the last forty-eight years. It's just that I had not crossed paths with his tour schedule, so when I saw him booked at Philadelphia's World Cafe Live on August 10th, I jumped at the chance to see him play.

A quick check online revealed lots of gray hair and a voice that while somewhat older, was still easily recognizable and his spirit seemed intact.

On record, Sebastian's latest is an acoustic duet with David Grisman from 2007. The album, Satisfied, covered mostly acoustic blues, and as such it contributed three numbers to Sebastian's set. In fact, he opened the show with a superb version of Mississippi John Hurt's "I'm Satisfied". I associate that song primarily with Taj Mahal, but it does seem to be a mainstay of the acoustic blues repertoire.

Sebastian was every bit as engaging as a storyteller as you might think if you heard any of his 1960s performances, maybe even more so in that there are now many more miles on the proverbial odometer. As someone who grew up in the thick of the blues and folk scene of New York's Greenwich Village, he has a wealth of experience and many stories to tell. He punctuates his stories by playing the songs that he's talking about. The songs all sound great but the crowd reaction grows strongest as he delves into his Lovin' Spoonful history. The Spoonful songs that he played were definitely highlights in that he could not help but be playing someone's favorite song. For myself, even though I like them all, I've always felt something special about "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice" dating back to when it was classing up the AM airways in 1965. And it still sounds terrific even now.

Watch "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice"

I think that the stories actually occupied more of the concert than the songs, even though he played a generous nineteen tunes. As the show seemed to be ending, someone yelled a request which he obliged and played a crowd-pleasing rendition of his TV theme song and #1 hit, "Welcome Back."

Even though he covered a lot of territory during his time on stage, he never got to talk about Woodstock. I would love to hear his take. Other than "Welcome Back", he didn't get into what he's been up to since the sixties. Every now and then I see his name on a songwriting credit such as "Face of Appalachia", which he wrote with Lowell George. That oft-covered tune sounded especially good on the first Valerie Carter album Just A Stone's Throw Away.

As much as Sebastian shared during the show, I have a feeling that he only scratched the surface of his life in music. At one point, he talked about dating a girl named Maria and taking her to see a performance by old timey folk and blues singer Geoff Muldaur, and how Geoff took a liking to her; they married and eventually divorced. After that, the girl came back to Sebastian. I wonder how many in the audience realized that he was talking about singer Maria Muldaur ("Midnight At the Oasis", 1973). I'm sure that there is much more where that came from. The untold stories make for a good reason to return.

Setlist: Click linked tracks to watch
01. I'm Satisfied (Mississippi John Hurt)
02. Just Don't Stop 'Till You're All Worn Out (Jimmy Vivino, John Sebastian)
03. Shining Moon (Lightnin' Hopkins)
04. Do You Believe In Magic (John Sebastian)
05. You Didn't Have to Be So Nice (Steve Boone, John Sebastian)
06. Jug Band Music (John Sebastian)
07. Prison Wall Blues (Gus Cannon)
08. Younger Girl (John Sebastian)
09. Strings of Your Heart (Mississippi John Hurt)
10. Unknown
11. Geoff Muldaur tune
12. Passing Fantasy (Gary Nicholson, John Sebastian)
13. My Creole Belle (Mississippi John Hurt)
14. Sittin Here Lovin' You (Dr. John)
15. St. Louis Tickle (Dave Van Ronk)
16. Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind (John Sebastian)
17. Nashville Cats (John Sebastian)
18. Daydream (John Sebastian)
19. Welcome Back (John Sebastian)

The linked videos are in full 1080p HD; no cell phones were used (or harmed) in the making of these videos. Many thanks to World Cafe Live for the excellent sound and lighting.

John Sebastian's Website

Monday, August 14, 2017

Bill DeMain - Transatlantic Romantic; With Swan Dive On Hold DeMain Delivers His Full Length Debut, 'Left of Center Pop' At Its Finest

Photos courtesy of Bill DeMain

After eighteen years and ten albums, the guitar playing and songwriting half of Swan Dive, Bill DeMain, just recorded his first full length solo album Transatlantic Romantic. This record excels in many ways, from songwriting and performance to production, but above all else Transatlantic Romantic is a triumph of vocals. I'd wager that if you made a list of your top ten favorite songs from the sixties or seventies, no matter if they be rock, pop, or soul, the one thing that they will have in common is great vocals. Spinning the radio dial these days, one might think that this is becoming a lost art.

As a songwriter, musician, and a singer, DeMain is adept at creating some of the more memorable music that you will hear; the man knows his way around a hook. What's more, on this record DeMain multi-tracks the vocals and accompanies himself on all of the exquisite harmonies he writes. Think The Association crossed with Fountains of Wayne.

The album's lead track is one that I just can't get enough of. The album opens with "Begin", a beautiful intro similar to the way that The Beach Boys opened their last album That's Why God Made The Radio. The gorgeous vocals of "Begin" slide seamlessly into "Leroy Boy". I doubt that anyone else in 2017 would have thought that we needed an answer for Todd Rundgren's first solo hit single, "We Gotta Get You a Woman" (1970). But therein lies the source of its charm. "Leroy Boy" doesn't copy Rundgren's original, but the chord changes and melody are definitely simpatico. Lyrically, DeMain updates the story, plus delightfully name checks Rundgren and talks about the music. The bicycle bell that you periodically hear throughout the track instantly references the Philly neighborhoods that were the location of the Rundgren original. This tune is so infectious that you won't want to stop playing it.

As a long time fan of Swan Dive, I'm thinking that I would have come across this album sooner or later but I've got to thank Mike Marrone for playing "Leroy Boy" on his Sirius XM radio show on The Loft.

Living in Nashville, DeMain has his choice of some fine song writers. He says that his cowriters all share his love for 'adventurous left of center pop'. They included Gabe Dixon ("Brewster, Illinois, April 3rd, 1952" and "The Golden Age"), Kim Richey ("Alaska"), and Larry Goldings ("Honey Bear", "Lemon Yellow" and "Boffo & Beans"), adding his keyboards to the latter.

Although DeMain's primary instrument is guitar, on this album he played piano. The phrase "No Guitars" on the album jacket reminded me of the first Queen album in that they bore the inscription, "No Synthesizers". DeMain said, "I’m a guitar player and have written all the Swan Dive records and my first EP on guitar. This album grew out of a challenge to put the guitar down and write only on piano. A challenge, since I’m really only a beginner. But yes, definitely a nod to those early Queen albums!"

Transatlantic Romantic also excels with some beautiful arrangements for strings, woodwinds, and horns by Jim Hoke and Austin Hike. They are used judiciously to best effect in a manner that I can only call Beatlesque. In fact, on DeMain's cover of the Beach Boys' "Wendy", his falsetto reaches Brian Wilson proportions. With its intricate layered vocals combining only with orchestration, it sounds like the Beach Boys meet the Beatles.

“'Wendy' is an old Beach Boys track from the mid-60s. Always a favorite of mine. Brian didn’t have any direct involvement, aside from writing the song with Mike Love. But I did play my version to Brian’s current musical director, Darian Sahanaja, and he loved it. Said it made him think of Van Dyke Parks arranging the Beach Boys. A very nice compliment."
The consistency of the quality of this album is extraordinary. It is a privilege and a pleasure to both listen to and write about Transatlantic Romantic by Bill DeMain.

About the future of Swan Dive, DeMain says "That’s a lot of music, and I’m proud of it all. My singing partner Molly lives out in Seattle now, so it’s a little more difficult for us to make music or plans together. But we’re leaving the door open for a possible album in the future."

Bill DeMain - Transatlantic Romantic

This album is available for $12, which includes postage.
Email for ordering instructions.

Tracklist - Click on linked titles to listen

01. Begin (Bill DeMain)
02. Leroy Boy (Bill DeMain)
03. Honey Bear (Bill DeMain, Larry Goldings)
04. Lemon Yellow (Bill DeMain, Larry Goldings)
05. Brewster, Illinois, April 3rd, 1952 (Bill DeMain, Gabe Dixon)
06. Boffo & Beans (Bill DeMain, Larry Goldings)
07. Dori (Bill DeMain)
08. Alaska (Bill DeMain, Kim Richey)
09. Wendy (Brian Wilson, Mike Love)
10. The Golden Age (Bill DeMain, Gabe Dixon)


Bill DeMain: piano, vocals
Jim Hoke: string and horn arrangements, sax, flute, clarinet, autoharp and uke
Austin Hike: string arrangement on "Wendy," cello, violin
Kristin Weber: violin
Gil Perel: bassoon
Jennifer Kumer: french horn
Larry Goldings: keyboard on "Boffo & Beans"
Produced by Bill DeMain and Jim Hoke

Bill DeMain's Website
Bill DeMain's Facebook

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Billy Ocean - Here You Are: The Music Of My Life; The Perfect Mood Album for Summer

Photo: Taylor Dayne Concert Photos

I've been listening to a new album by Billy Ocean and liking it quite a bit. I first became aware of Ocean when he sang "Caribbean Queen" on the Live Aid telecast in 1985. Since then, I haven't followed him, my loss apparently. According to his website,
Billy Ocean is the biggest black recording star Britain has ever produced, one who has sold over 30 million records in his lifetime.

He has collected a pile of Gold and Platinum records across the world and hit the number one spot worldwide on pop charts including the USA, Australia, Germany, Holland, and the UK. Billy has achieved extraordinary success as both an artist and a songwriter.

Born in Trinidad, Billy settled in London’s East End when just seven years old. The calypso crazy kid soon got turned on to soul singers like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, as well as pop groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, leading him to spend much of his study time in the music room.
Here You Are: The Music Of My Life came out on Friday, July 21st. I checked it out along with the other new releases of interest, but after once through I kept coming back to it.

There are actually two parts to this album. It begins with ten newly recorded tracks. The set opens with "Here You Are", a new original that gives the album its name. About this song, Ocean says "I intentionally tried to write a song that I thought reflected the influences of the music that inspired me throughout my life so far."

That is a fair description of the album's concept. The next nine songs are covers; these are the songs that influenced Ocean throughout his life. He covers artists from Sam Cooke to Frank Sinatra to Bob Marley and the O'Jays, to name a few. The writers of these songs are shown on the track list below.

After those first ten tracks, the second part of this album is a mini greatest hits collection offering five classic Ocean hits. This is (fortuitously for me) designed as an introduction for those who may be new to Ocean on record.

Billy Ocean is such a talented singer and musician and this record is so ably performed, with superb production by Barry Eastmond (who also co-wrote the title track with Ocean), that the end result is a record that sounds so good you won't want to turn it off. This is a perfect mood record for summer, and I suspect it will sound just as good during the other seasons.

Watch the music video for "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car"

Billy Ocean - Here You Are: The Music of My Life
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Tracklist: Click on song titles to listen

01. Here You Are (Barry J. Eastmond / Billy Ocean)
02. A Simple Game (Mike Pinder)
03. A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
04. No Woman No Cry (Vincent Ford)
05. Cry Me a River (Arthur Hamilton)
06. Having a Party (Sam Cooke)
07. It Was a Very Good Year (Ervin Drake)
08. These Foolish Things (Harry Link / Eric Maschwitz / Jack Strachey)
09. Judge Not (Bob Marley)
10. Love Train (Kenny Gamble / Leon Huff)
11. Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) (Keith Diamond / Billy Ocean)
12. Suddenly (Keith Diamond / Billy Ocean)
13. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car (Mutt Lange / Billy Ocean)
14. When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going (Wayne Brathwaite /Barry J. Eastmond /Mutt Lange /Billy Ocean)
15. There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) (Wayne Brathwaite / Barry J. Eastmond / Billy Ocean

Bonus Video: Acoustic live version of "Caribbean Queen" on Today FM, The Tony Fenton Show, Sept. 18, 2013

Billy Ocean's Website
Billy Ocean's Facebook
Billy Ocean's Twitter

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Jackson Browne - The Load Out /Stay Made the Billboard Top 40 Chart This Week in 1978; Jackson Browne's Running On Empty Leaves 'em in the Dust

Mann Music Center, Philadelphia, 1978

Gems From the Record Room: This week's 70s Top Forty Countdown on SiriusXM was from the last week of July, 1978. I often think of the 70s as being divided between the first half of the decade, which was dominated by great songs and classic artists that got plenty of airplay on both FM and AM, and the second half of the decade when it seemed that the singles charts were dominated by disco.

As such, it was a bit surprising to tune in to this week's countdown and hear a string of tunes that had more in common with the first half of the decade.

The American Top 40 from Billboard Magazine for the week ending July 29, 1978

TW - LW TITLE Artist (Label) - Weeks on Chart (Peak Position)
1 - 1       SHADOW DANCING • Andy Gibb (RSO) - 16 (7 weeks at #1) (1)
2 - 2      BAKER STREET • Gerry Rafferty (United Artists) - 15 (2)
3 - 3      MISS YOU • Rolling Stones (Rolling Stones) - 10 (3)
4 - 5      LAST DANCE • Donna Summer (Casablanca) - 12 (4)
5 - 6      GREASE • Frankie Valli (RSO) - 10 (5)
6 - 10    THREE TIMES A LADY • The Commodores (Motown) - 7 (6)
7 - 4      STILL THE SAME • Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band (Capitol) - 12 (4)
8 - 8      USE TA BE MY GIRL • The O’Jays (Philadelphia International) - 14 (4)
9 - 7      THE GROOVE LINE • Heatwave (Epic) - 13 (7)
10 - 11   LOVE WILL FIND A WAY • Pablo Cruise (A&M) - 9 (10)

11 - 14    HOT BLOODED • Foreigner (Atlantic) - 5 (11)
12 - 13    RUNAWAY • Jefferson Starship (Grunt) - 10 (12)
13 - 15    COPACABANA (At the Copa) • Barry Manilow (Arista) - 8 (13)
14 - 17    LIFE’S BEEN GOOD • Joe Walsh (Asylum) - 8 (14)
15 - 18    MY ANGEL BABY • Toby Beau (RCA) - 9 (15)
16 - 20    MAGNET AND STEEL • Walter Egan (Columbia) - 10 (16)
17 - 9      TAKE A CHANCE ON ME • Abba (Atlantic) - 15 (3)
18 - 21    I’M NOT GONNA LET IT BOTHER ME TONIGHT • The Atlanta Rhythm Section (Polydor) - 8 (18)
19 - 12    IT’S A HEARTACHE • Bonnie Tyler (RCA) - 19 (3)
20 - 16    DANCE WITH ME • Peter Brown with Betty Wright (Drive) - 22 (8)

21 - 19    BLUER THAN BLUE • Michael Johnson (EMI-America) - 15 (12)
22 - 23    FM (No Static At All) • Steely Dan (MCA) - 9 (22)
23 - 27    STAY / THE LOAD-OUT • Jackson Browne (Asylum) - 8 (23)
24 - 26    KING TUT • Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons (Warner Brothers) - 10 (24)
25 - 25    SONGBIRD • Barbra Streisand (Columbia) - 7 (25)
26 - 35    HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO YOU • Olivia Newton-John (RSO) - 4 (26)
27 - 30    I’VE HAD ENOUGH • Wings (Capitol) - 7 (27)
28 - 36    BOOGIE OOGIE OOGIE • A Taste Of Honey (Capitol) - 6 (28)
29 - 40    AN EVERLASTING LOVE • Andy Gibb (RSO) - 3 (29)
30 - 32    CAN WE STILL BE FRIENDS • Todd Rundgren (Bearsville) - 10 (30)

31 - 22    THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY •Love and Kisses (Casablanca) - 13 (22)
32 - 34    LOVE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT • Kenny Rogers (United Artists) - 9 (32)
33 - 37    SHAME • Evelyn “Champagne” King (RCA) - 7 (33)
34 - 38    STUFF LIKE THAT • Quincy Jones (A&M) - 8 (34)
35 - 43    YOU • Rita Coolidge (A&M) - 5 (35)
36 - 49    FOOL (If You Think It’s Over) • Chris Rea (United Artists / Magnet) - 4 (36)
37 - 39    RIVERS OF BABYLON • Boney M (Sire / Hansa) - 9 (37)
38 - 46    TWO TICKETS TO PARADISE • Eddie Money (Columbia) - 6 (38)
39 - 44    MR. BLUE SKY • The Electric Light Orchestra (Jet) - 6 (39)
40 - 48    MACHO MAN • The Village People (Casablanca) - 6 (40)
Now that's a great Top 40 chart, still I think somewhat uncharacteristic of the late 70s. It's neat to see Chris Rea making the Top 40 with his first single, "Fool If You Think It's Over". After his U.S. marketing effort rubbed him the wrong way, he basically quit trying to have a career here in this country, but had good success in the U.K., Europe, and Asia. Success was well deserved for the likes of Gerry Rafferty, the Stones, Bob Seger, The Commodores, The O'Jays, Joe Walsh, Walter Egan, Atlanta Rhythm Section, and many more. Just read the list and you're sure to see some favorites and some surprises.

One track in particular that's close to my heart surprised me when it came in at #23. Perhaps I am so used to hearing this from the album or on FM radio, I either had forgotten or never knew that "The Load Out /Stay" was released as a single and did that well on the chart. I guess I knew that "Stay" was a single, but as Casey Kasem explained, they put "The Load Out" on one side of the 45 and "Stay" on the other and it charted as a double sided single. I hope that no radio station actually played "The Load Out" without "Stay"; Asylum Records sent radio stations a promotional 12" of the two songs as one long track, as on the album.

In December 1977, Jackson Browne released the groundbreaking Running On Empty album. It was a live album, recorded on the road, with all new material. It was the ultimate concept album. The songs were about being on the road, some of it was even recorded on the tour bus as it rolled down the highway.

The final track on the album is a combination of a Browne original, "The Load Out", and a cover of "Stay" the 1961 hit by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs. The two songs went perfectly together. When it concludes, Browne sings:

'Cause when that morning sun comes beating down
You're going to wake up in your town
But we'll be scheduled to appear
A thousand miles away from here.

Right at that moment, every time I've seen him sing it live (and sometimes even on record) the hair stands up on the back of my neck and a chill goes down my spine. Now that is some high voltage songwriting.

"The Load Out" was written by Bryan Garofalo and Jackson Browne and "Stay" was written by Brian Kelly McKnight with additional lyrics by Bryan Garofalo and Jackson Browne. "The Load Out" is about what happens at the end of a concert after the band has finished playing. It is written from the performer's perspective set to an indelible Browne melody. Browne's version of "Stay" is another delight with revised lyrics, David Lindley's slide guitar, a strong vocal by Rosemary Butler, followed by an almost giddy Lindley falsetto vocal. So, enjoy the video and read the lyrics. It turns out that 1978 has a lot more to offer than you might think.

Jackson Browne - The Load Out and Stay - Live... on BBC

Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stag
Pack it up and tear it down
They're the first to come and last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They'll set it up in another town
Tonight the people were so fine
They waited there in line
And when they got up on their feet they made the show
And that was sweet...
But I can hear the sound
Of slamming doors and folding chairs
And that's a sound they'll never know

Now roll them cases out and lift them amps
Haul them trusses down and get 'em up them ramps
Cause when it comes to moving me
You guys are the champs
But when that last guitar's been packed away
You know that I still want to play
So just make sure you got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano


But the band's on the bus
And they're waiting to go
We've got to drive all night and do a show in Chicago
Or Detroit, I don't know
We do so many shows in a row
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
And wander 'round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came

Now we got country and western on the bus, R&B
We got disco on eight tracks and cassettes in stereo
We got rural scenes and magazines
And we got truckers on CB
And we got Richard Pryor on the video

We got time to think of the ones we love
While the miles roll away
But the only time that seems too short
Is the time that we get to play

People you've got the power over what we do
You can sit there and wait
Or you can pull us through
Come along, sing the song
You know you can't go wrong
Cause when that morning sun comes beating down
You're going to wake up in your town
But we'll be scheduled to appear
A thousand miles away from here

People stay just a little bit longer
We want to play - just a little bit longer
Now the promoter don't mind
And the union don't mind
If we take a little time
And we leave it all behind and sing
One more song -
Oh, won't you stay just a little bit longer
Please, please, please, say you will
Say you will

Oh won’t you stay
Just a little bit longer
Oh won’t you stay
Just a little bit longer

And the promoter don’t mind
And the roadies don’t mind
If we take a little time
And we leave it all behind and sing
One more song

Jackson Browne - Running On Empty
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Jackson Browne's Website
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Jackson Browne's Twitter

SiriusXM Website
70s on 7 Facebook
Billboard Website

The Beach Boys - 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow; In Which the Beach Boys Offer the First True Stereo Mix of the Wild Honey Album and They Open the Vaults for a Treasure Trove of Recordings From 1967

The Beach Boys rehearsal for a concert in Honolulu, 1967
[Photos courtesy of The Beach Boys unless otherwise specified]

1967: Sunshine Tomorrow by The Beach Boys has been eagerly awaited by Beach Boys fans. This 2-disc set opens with the Wild Honey album, for the first time mixed in true stereo (tracks 1-11). Then it's Christmas in July as The Beach Boys offer 54 essentially bonus tracks of previously unreleased studio and live recordings. Sunshine Tomorrow brings you back into the control room as you hear 1967 recording sessions. The Wild Honey sessions are first after the album. Hearing early versions, alternate versions, vocal arrangements, etc., it's just fascinating to me. Then we get five live Wild Honey tracks, four from '67 and one from '70. Following that, one song of session vocal highlights from "Mama Says" closes Disc 1.

Disc 2 opens with ten tracks of sessions from Smiley Smile, also fascinating. I must admit here that my love for "Heroes and Villains" is counterbalanced by my distain for "Vegetables" (the song, not the food); I guess this is a classic example of you take the good with the bad.

Up next are fourteen tracks that in my opinion are worth the entire price of the album. Here's what happened: In August of '67, The Beach Boys recorded two concerts and two rehearsals in Hawaii intended for a live album called Lei'd in Hawaii. When these tapes were determined to be "unusable", they sought to rerecord these performances in recording studios in California. The production on these tracks was a little thin, most of the versions would not be considered definitive. Still, based on what they were trying to do, being a fly on the wall during these sessions is pure joy. These were not only some of The Beach Boys best loved songs, there are some amazing covers such as "The Letter" (The Boxtops), "With a Little Help from My Friends" (The Beatles), and "The Game of Love" (Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders). I absolutely love this version of "With a Little Help from My Friends". It was recorded at Brian Wilson's home studio and it is presented in both mono and stereo mixes.

The next five tracks were actually recorded in Hawaii. There are three concert recordings plus two tracks recorded at rehearsal including "Heroes And Villains". The Hawaii master tape was found in a closet at Brother Records (The Beach Boys' label). Next up are three live tracks recorded on The Thanksgiving Tour of that year. After that are two very nice studio recordings. One is an early version of "Surf's Up" recorded during the Wild Honey sessions; this tune was originally intended for the legendary Smile album. The other is a gorgeous a cappella vocal mix of "Surfer Girl" recorded during the LA Sessions for Lei'd in Hawaii.

Although this album will be undoubtedly considered as essential by Beach Boy fans and collectors, I think even casual fans will like the new true stereo Wild Honey album as well as the real and faux live recordings. I also want to thank Capitol Records for releasing this at a street price well under twenty bucks, and not making it necessary to buy an elaborate box set. Although I haven't seen anything specifically addressed on this topic in terms of this album, it is possible that this release is as much about protecting the copyright as it is a gift to Beach Boys fans. Whatever the case might be, I say when the label vaults swing open like this, it's time to rejoice.


Excerpt from the press release: (PRNewsFoto/Universal Music Enterprises)
1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow dives into a fascinating and frenetic chapter in The Beach Boys' long, groundbreaking creative arc, exploring the band's dynamic year in the studio and on tour. The Beach Boys' final studio session for the shelved SMiLE album took place on May 18th, 1967, with Smiley Smile album sessions booked at Brian Wilson's new home studio from June 3rd through the end of July. The band's 12th and 13th studio albums were released exactly three months apart to cap the year's studio efforts: Smiley Smile on September 18th followed by Wild Honey on December 18th.

"I wanted to have a home environment trip where we could record at my house," recalls Brian Wilson in the liner notes for 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow. "I wanted to try something different, something new. I produced Smiley Smile, but Mike inspired me. He said 'Brian, let's make a really good, easygoing album'. We had an engineer convert my den into a studio. We had my piano detuned to make it ring more."

"Just prior to that, Brian had built up this production peak and then just completely reversed field, and (for Smiley Smile) did something so light and airy, and y' know, easy," explains Mike Love. "That was an underground album, I figure, for us. It was completely out of the mainstream of what was going on at that time, which was all hard rock, psychedelic music, and here we come with a song called 'Wind Chimes.' It just didn't have anything to do with what was going on – and that was the idea."

"Times were changing," adds Al Jardine. "We were happy to put our musical skills to work. We didn't have to look at the clock; there was virtually 24-hour availability to experiment."

"Take away their sorrow / Give them sunshine tomorrow"

On August 25th and 26th, 1967, The Beach Boys (absent Bruce Johnston, but with Brian Wilson on organ in his first concert appearances with the band in more than two years) recorded two concerts and rehearsals in Honolulu for a prospective live album to be titled Lei'd In Hawaii, applying a new Smiley Smile-inspired aesthetic to the performances. Just over two weeks later, the band (with both Brian and Bruce participating) began re-recording the live set in-studio at Brian's house and at Wally Heider Recording in Hollywood, after the Honolulu concert tapes were deemed unusable. Although completed and mixed, the final planned audio element of a canned concert audience was not added and the Lei'd In Hawaii project was canceled. Those live, in-studio performances morphed into sessions for the Wild Honey album, primarily comprised of original Brian Wilson/Mike Love compositions.

In a 1976 look back at 1967's most heralded albums, Village Voice critic Robert Christgau praised Wild Honey with an "A+" review, writing, "It's perfect and full of pleasure; it does what it sets out to do almost without a bad second."

Bruce Johnston says that Wild Honey showcases a band devoid of pressure: "Here's the thing – the most important thing – you need to know about Wild Honey. It was just an album for us to exhale and do something real simple; but as it's Brian and Mike's music, it's still fabulous and not so simple. I love the album."

Two days after wrapping the Wild Honey sessions on November 15th, 1967, Mike Love, Carl and Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston returned to the road for The Beach Boys' Thanksgiving Tour, premiering several songs from the forthcoming album at their concerts.

The Beach Boys - 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow
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Tracklist: Click on titles to listen

CD 1

Wild Honey Album (Stereo)
New stereo mix, except as noted above.* Recorded September 15 to November 15, 1967 at Brian Wilson's house and at Wally Heider Recording in Hollywood, California

01. Wild Honey (2:45)
02. Aren't You Glad (2:16)
03. I Was Made to Love Her (2:07)
04. Country Air (2:21)
05. A Thing or Two (2:42)
06. Darlin' (2:14)
07. I'd Love Just Once to See You (1:49)
08. Here Comes the Night (2:44)
09. Let the Wind Blow (2:23)
10. How She Boogalooed It (1:59)
11. Mama Says* (Original Mono Mix) (1:08)

Wild Honey Sessions: September-November 1967 (Previously Unreleased)

12. Lonely Days (Alternate Version) (1:45)
13. Cool Cool Water (Alternate Early Version) (2:08)
14. Time to Get Alone (Alternate Early Version) (3:08)
15. Can't Wait Too Long (Alternate Early Version) (2:49)
16. I'd Love Just Once to See You (Alternate Version) (2:22)
17. I Was Made to Love Her (Vocal Insert Session) (1:35)
18. I Was Made to Love Her (Long Version) (2:35)
19. Hide Go Seek (0:51)
20. Honey Get Home (1:22)
21. Wild Honey (Session Highlights) (5:39)
22. Aren't You Glad (Session Highlights) (4:21)
23. A Thing or Two (Track and Backing Vocals) (1:01)
24. Darlin' (Session Highlights) (4:36)
25. Let the Wind Blow (Session Highlights) (4:14)

Wild Honey Live: 1967-1970 (Previously Unreleased)

26. Wild Honey (Live) (2:53) — recorded in Detroit, November 17, 1967
27. Country Air (Live) (2:20) — recorded in Detroit, November 17, 1967
28. Darlin' (Live) (2:25) — recorded in Pittsburgh, November 22, 1967
29. How She Boogalooed It (Live) (2:43) — recorded in Detroit, November 17, 1967
30. Aren't You Glad (Live) (3:12) — recorded in 1970, location unknown

31. Mama Says (Session Highlights) (3:08)
(Previously unreleased vocal session highlights. Recorded at Wally Heider Recording, November 1967)

CD 2

Smiley Smile Sessions: June-July 1967 (Previously Unreleased)
Recorded June and July 1967 at Brian Wilson's house, Western Recorders, SRS, and/or Columbia Studios, except as noted above*

01. Heroes and Villains (Single Version Backing Track) (3:38)
02. Vegetables (Long Version) (2:55)
03. Fall Breaks and Back to Winter (Alternate Mix) (2:28)
04. WWind Chimes (Alternate Tag Section) (0:48)
05. Wonderful (Backing Track) (2:23)
06. With Me Tonight (Alternate Version with Session Intro) (0:51)
07. Little Pad (Backing Track) (2:40)
08. All Day All Night (Whistle In) (Alternate Version 1) (1:04)
09. All Day All Night (Whistle In) (Alternate Version 2) (0:50)
10. Untitled (Redwood)* (0:35)
(Previously unreleased instrumental fragment. Studio and exact recording date unknown. Discovered in tape box labeled "Redwood")

Lei'd in Hawaii "Live" Album: September 1967 (Previously Unreleased)
Recorded September 11, 1967 at Wally Heider Recording in Hollywood, CA, with additional recording September 29, 1967 (except as noted above*). Original mono mixes from assembled master 1/2" reel, dated September 29, 1967, discovered in the Brother Records Archives.

11. Fred Vail Intro (0:24)
12. The Letter (1:54)
13.You're So Good to Me (2:31)
14. Help Me, Rhonda (2:24)
15. California Girls (2:30)
16. Surfer Girl (2:17)
17. Sloop John B (2:50)
18. With a Little Help from My Friends* (2:21)
(Recorded at Brian Wilson's house, September 23, 1967)
19. Their Hearts Were Full of Spring* (2:33)
(Recorded during rehearsal, August 26, 1967, Honolulu, Hawaii)
20. God Only Knows (2:45)
21. Good Vibrations (4:13)
22. Game of Love (2:11)
23. The Letter (Alternate Take) (1:56)
24. With a Little Help from My Friends (Stereo Mix) (2:21)

Live in Hawaii: August 1967 (Previously Unreleased)
The Beach Boys recorded two complete concerts and rehearsals in Honolulu on August 25 and 26, 1967. Brian Wilson rejoined the group onstage for these shows; Bruce Johnston was not present. The following tracks derive from the original 1" 8-track master reels discovered in the Brother Records Archives.

25.Hawthorne Boulevard (1:05)
26.Surfin' (1:40)
27.Gettin' Hungry (3:19)
28. Hawaii (Rehearsal Take) (1:11)
29. Heroes And Villains (Rehearsal) (4:45)

Thanksgiving Tour 1967: Live In Washington, D.C. & Boston (Previously Unreleased)
The touring Beach Boys — Mike, Carl, Dennis, Al, and Bruce — embarked on a Thanksgiving tour immediately after delivering the finished Wild Honey album to Capitol Records. For this tour, the band was augmented by Ron Brown on bass and Daryl Dragon on keyboards.

30. California Girls (Live) (2:32) — recorded in Washington, DC, November 19, 1967
31. Graduation Day (Live) (2:56) — recorded in Washington, DC, November 19, 1967
32. I Get Around (Live) (2:53) — recorded in Boston, November 23, 1967

Additional 1967 Studio Recordings (Previously Unreleased)

33. Surf's Up (1967 Version) (5:25)
(Recorded during the Wild Honey sessions in November 1967)
34. Surfer Girl (1967 A Capella Mix) (2:17)
(Previously unreleased mix of Lei'd in Hawaii take from the Wally Heider Recording sessions in September 1967)

Excerpted from the 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow Producers' Notes by Mark Linett and Alan Boyd:
After the decision was made to shelve the unfinished Smile album in early 1967, The Beach Boys opted to return to recording as a self-contained band, working mostly at Brian Wilson's home and using rented recording equipment. The two albums they released that year, Smiley Smile and Wild Honey, were both originally presented in mono only (with Capitol also issuing re-channeled “pseudo stereo” editions). Smiley Smile was remixed and released in stereo in 2012. Now, at last, The Beach Boys and Capitol present the first true stereo mix of Wild Honey, along with outtakes, session highlights, and selected backing tracks from both the Smiley Smile and Wild Honey sessions.

*Note that the 8-track master for “Mama Says” could not be located, so that song is presented here in its original mono mix. In addition, the organ solo on “How She Boogalooed It” was actually overdubbed as the song was being mixed to mono (as was the organ on the rest of the song), so that section is also presented in mono.

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