Monthly Archives: August 2008

The ABCs of DE, Vol. 6

Mention Dave Edmunds’ 1983 album “Information,” and that may bring to mind two things: Jeff Lynne, who wrote one song for it and produced two songs on it, and that synthesizers were used.

Dig deeper into the grooves on this album, though, and you’ll find some more traditional Dave Edmunds sounds. Dave covers tunes by NRBQ and Otis Blackwell.

He also covers this early tune from a Boston bar band that scored a record deal with its incendiary stage show, which featured sizzling originals and old R&B and blues tunes. Peter Wolf and Seth Justman wrote “Wait” for the J. Geils Band’s first album, way back in 1970. It was the first cut on that album.

“Wait,” Dave Edmunds, from “Information,” 1983. (The album link is to an import two-fer CD also featuring “D.E. 7th,” his 1982 album.)

All of this is a sneaky way of hepping you to the latest post over at our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, where we’re serving up Side 1 of “Information.” This tune is the fourth cut on that side.


Filed under August 2008, Sounds

This is how you open a show

When the who’s who of Catholics in our corner of Wisconsin gathered at the cathedral in downtown Green Bay yesterday afternoon, they got a little surprise. They found out their new bishop, David Ricken, is a different breed of cat.

As he started the sermon at his installation ceremony, Ricken thought back to the last time he moved to a new place as bishop. As he drove to Cheyenne, Wyoming, from Colorado, he wondered what the folks there listened to. He flipped the radio dial, going from Mozart to this country classic, written and recorded first by Terry Fell in 1954:

“Truck Drivin’ Man,” Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, from “Hot Licks, Cold Steel & Truckers’ Favorites,” 1972. Out of print, even the 1990 CD re-release.

The new bishop did a little more than reminisce. He started singing “Truck Drivin’ Man” at this most formal, traditional and reverent ceremony. It broke the place up.

He wasn’t done, though. He said his move to Green Bay reminded him of another tune.

“Drop Kick Me, Jesus,” Bobby Bare, 1976, originally released on “The Winner and Other Losers” and available on “The Essential Bobby Bare,” a 1997 CD release.

The new bishop sang that, too. It broke the place up again. Appropriate for Green Bay, ya think?

Noting that a song with the lyrics “Drop kick me, Jesus/Through the goal posts of life” carried “a certain profundity,” the new bishop went on to more spiritual matters, of course.

But you’d think those songs — in that setting — will be remembered far longer than anything he had to say after that.


Filed under August 2008, Sounds

A welcome blast from the past

If you wonder where your guide has been lately, I’ve been playing outside.

Playing outside so much that I’ve had little time to listen to tunes. Time enough, really, to check the e-mail and get on with the day.

Today’s e-mail delivers the welcome news that AC/DC is streaming the first single off its new album. “Rock ‘N’ Roll Train” isn’t an instant classic, nor does it break any new ground, but it’ll fit in nicely alongside all those AC/DC tunes you already know.

Phil Rudd’s drumming drives the whole thing … like a locomotive, of course. And, yes, Angus Young can still play like no one else and Brian Johnson’s delightfully shredded voice remains.

“Rock ‘N’ Roll Train” is off the new album “Black Ice,” which will be released Oct. 20. If you don’t want to buy it from a certain retail giant with whom AC/DC has an exclusive distribution deal, you can order it from the band’s online store, too.

When it comes to AC/DC, I was late to the party. I didn’t start digging them until the early ’90s. However, I had a chance to see them live in Madison, Wisconsin, several years ago, and I was blown away. It went right to the short list of the best shows I’ve seen.

So go listen to the stream, then enjoy this. It’s a cut from the AC/DC album I found in my dad’s collection. That story is here:

“Shake A Leg,” AC/DC, from “Back in Black,” 1980.

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Filed under August 2008, Sounds

I got the fever, too

Our pal Kevin over at Got the Fever is out with a fine post on one of his obscure faves, the sizzling Latin group Cecilia Noel and the Wild Clams.

That got my attention because Noel is married to one of my obscure faves, Colin Hay. That’s right, the guy who was the lead singer in Men at Work back in the ’80s.

Lest you think I’m wallowing in nostalgia, let me assure you that Colin Hay is a terrific solo artist these days. I had a chance to meet him briefly after he (and Noel) played a wonderful show at our local casino lounge a couple of years ago, and he is gracious and good-natured.

Hay still plays some of the Men at Work tunes, going acoustic with some, tweaking others and doing it all with a smile. Some of his newer tunes are just as good. (That reminds me. I still haven’t gotten around to getting the album he released last year, “Are You Lookin’ At Me?”)

Here, then, is the best of both worlds, one of those old Men at Work tunes redone energetically by Hay, Noel and the Wild Clams.

“Down Under,” Colin Hay with Cecilia Noel and the Wild Clams, from “Man @ Work,” 2003.

Here’s a video of Hay and Noel doing another wild version of that tune.


Filed under August 2008, Sounds

Wade in the water with me

Sometimes, teenagers surprise you. Other times, they do exactly what you think they’ll do.

Yesterday, I mentioned to our 13-year-old that I would be washing the car this afternoon. Evan said he’d like to help.

So when I got started this afternoon, there was no Evan. No surprise.

By the time the windows were done inside and out, Janet popped out the door and said, “It looks nice!”

Evan joined her at the door, and I asked him, “You gonna help?”

A big, crooked smile crossed his face and he started rolling up his sweats. (Sweats? In 80-degree weather? Don’t ask.)

13-year-old + hose + water + Dad = hilarity ensues.

Evan washed the wheel covers. Then he started spraying water in the air, giving himself a (much-needed) shower.

Then he started spraying Dad, the centerpiece of his nefarious plot all along. As I knew it would be.

Classic, just like this.

“Wade in the Water,” the Ramsey Lewis Trio, 1966, from “Chess Classics,” a CD that came with the August 2005 issue of Mojo magazine. Also available on “20th Century Masters — The Millenium Collection: The Best of Ramsey Lewis,” a 2002 CD release.

The perfect vibe for a lazy, sunny late-summer afternoon.


Filed under August 2007, Sounds

Shaft and the paper boy

Peering far into the distance on this Vinyl Record Day, this is how a vinyl record collection starts.

You are 14 and just beginning ninth grade. Your constant companion after school is the Top 40 AM radio of the day, as cranked out on WOKY, The Mighty 92, out of Milwaukee.

One day in the early fall of 1971, your mind is blown by a driving mix of high-hat drums, gritty wah-wah guitar, elegantly orchestrated horns and strings, a deep baritone lead vocal and angelic backup vocals.

It is, of course, “Theme from Shaft,” by Isaac Hayes.

So I took some of my paper route money, went downtown to Prange’s, went down to the record department in the basement and bought the soundtrack to “Shaft” by Isaac Hayes.

Every note, every nuance of “Shaft” was seared into memory, and is still there. You get to know your albums intimately when you have only four.

At the time, “Shaft” sat next to Neil Diamond’s “Tap Root Manuscript,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Green River” and “The Best of Bill Cosby” on the shelf in my bedroom. I played those four records over and over, committing them to memory, getting the grooves down.

“Shaft” had the most groove, of course. So much so that I envisioned it as the music I’d play if I ever got some time alone with a certain girl. In the fall of 1971, that was just a 14-year-old’s wishful thinking, and that is exactly what it remained.

The sophistication I never got to express to that certain girl instead helped shape my record collection. The soul, R&B and jazz on the four sides of “Shaft” introduced me to those genres in ways the Top 40 did not, forging some eclectic tastes that remain to this day.

I’d like to say I continued to buy funk, soul and R&B albums that were every bit as adventurous as “Shaft” seemed to a 14-year-old. But no.

A couple of months I bought “Shaft,” we moved to another part of Wisconsin. I left behind Top 40 AM radio and moved on to free-form FM radio. What I learned of funk, soul and R&B after that was what hit the charts and got daytime radio play, or whatever I heard in the clubs, which in central Wisconsin in the mid-’70s was much the same.

Now I’m trying to make up for lost time. As I go crate digging, I’m most often looking for funk, soul and R&B records I should have bought long ago. I look for, but rarely find, anything by Isaac Hayes. In our once-all-too-white corner of Wisconsin, few people bought funk, soul and R&B albums when they came out. That makes them hard to find today.

Last Friday afternoon, a younger gent and I were looking for similar things as we dug through boxes of dollar records in a tent in the back yard of one of our local record sellers. It already had been a big day for me, with records by Curtis Mayfield and MFSB in my stack. The other gent had records by Marvin Gaye and Earl Klugh.

Then I noticed he’d added the “Shaft” soundtrack to his stack. Those same four sides by Isaac Hayes. I’d been through that box before him, saw “Shaft” and thought: “There’s something you never see.”

“You familiar with that?” I asked him.

“Yeah, a little bit,” he said.

I took that to mean he knows “Theme from Shaft.”

“Oh, you’re really gonna like it,” I said.

“That was one of the first records I ever bought when I was a kid.”

“Shaft” has moved 10 times with me since 1971, and it’s still sitting here in the office, just behind me.

“Shaft” was the first album I wrote about here at AM, Then FM.

Please enjoy a couple of tunes from “Shaft.” Lord knows I have.

“Walk from Regio’s” and “Cafe Regio’s,” Isaac Hayes, from “Shaft” original soundtrack, 1971.

Isaac Hayes, Aug. 20, 1942-Aug. 10, 2008.

All this, and the Duke, too. Peace, my man.


Filed under August 2008, Sounds

Baby, you can drive my car

When a story asks “Hey, was that Paul McCartney at the Route 66 Welcome Center at the museum in Joliet, Illinois?” you must read it.

Mary Schmich has that story in today’s Chicago Tribune.

Need further proof? People magazine confirms it. Macca and his new girlfriend, Nancy Shevell, are on vacation, driving the Mother Road from Chicago to L.A.

And then another Macca sighting along Route 66! He stops to use the restroom in Springfield, Illinois.

In that spirit, here are three swell versions of the tune written in 1946 by Bobby Troup.

“Route 66,” Chuck Berry, from the “Cars” original soundtrack, 2006.

Because you must have a road song by Chuck Berry. Listen for the detour at the end.

“Route 66,” Marcia Ball, from “More Songs of Route 66: Roadside Attractions,” 2001.

Because I would ride anywhere with Miss Ball, the lovely swing pianist from Austin, Texas. (And because this version has a trippy, Beatlesque intro that’s reminiscent of “A Day in the Life.”)

“Route 66,” the Joneses, from “Tits and Champagne,” a 1989 EP that’s out of print but is available on eMusic.

Because I wouldn’t have heard this cover from this ’80s “rock ‘n’ roll sleaze band” from Hollywood were it not for our man Aikin over at Licorice Pizza, who posted it a month ago. Thank you, sir.

As long as we’re talking about the road, check out this week’s series of songs about cars over at Star Maker Machine, a swell read in its own right.

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Filed under August 2008, Sounds