From sweet and smooth classics, to new names, to old names with new music...the focus here, is to shine a little light on some damn fine music.

I'll find it. You can listen, review, or tell me I wouldn't know good music if it kicked me in the ass. I personally don't give a shit.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Losing A Broadcasting Legend: Pete Fornatale

For those of you who have never heard his voice, listened to his broadcasts or even heard of his name... my heart aches for you. He was that good.

I grew up listening to the very beginnings of free-flow music on radio in the 60's. The radio station was WNEW-FM 102.7 in New York City. It was the pinnacle of radio broadcasting and the standard by which every radio station should be judged. It was that good.

The line-up I best remember started with morning drive man Dave Herman, followed by Pete Fornatale, next up the legendary Scott Muni, Jonathan Schwartz, the Night Bird Alison Steele and ending with Vin Scelsa. In later years, Richard Neer, Carol Miller, Dennis Elsas, Dan Neer, Meg Griffin and many more DJs, who even today, can be heard on Satellite radio and college stations. They were that good.

Of all the DJs, Pete Fornatale was my absolute favorite. To this day, he would be the only celebrity to whom I would write a letter.

Pete would never just spin records…yes it was vinyl, skips and all. Pete would weave a story into his selections and see if the listeners picked up on what were his intentions. “Active and passive listeners,” he called it. That was the phrase which caused me to write the letter. I so thoroughly got it. And, I so thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, those were the days when DJs were able to play pretty much what they wanted. This was why you listened to specific DJs…you liked what they played and how they went about playing it. You didn’t hear the same song 14 times a day. It was a time of great radio.

Pete Fornatale started out as a college DJ at Fordham University  in NY, where he attended classes. After the commercial radio business went into the toilet, Pete returned to Fordham’s station WFUV, one of the best known and well-respected college stations in the country. He worked at that station until his death.

Pete worked tirelessly for a cause he believed in. WhyHunger, a charity co-founded in 1975 by the late Harry Chapin and Pete’s friend Bill Ayres. The annual Hunger-Thon was, and still is a staple of the Thanksgiving season. Over all these years, a lot of money and a lot of food has been donated to help the needy.

We lost Pete Fornatale yesterday, apparently all the musicians we have also lost recently, needed a good DJ to manage the music. There is no one better to choose than Pete. He was that good.

Easy journey Pete.

Article first published as:
Losing a Broadcasting Legend: Pete Fornatale on Technorati.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Superman: No, It's Not Easy

My strongest memory of today's featured song is from the night of Saturday October 20, 2001. It was the Concert for New York City, a televised show which raised money for the victims of the World Trade Center Attacks, as well as  honoring the first responders to Ground Zero.

"I can't stand to fly, I'm not that naive
I'm just out to find, the better part of me
I'm more than a bird, I'm more than a plane
I'm more than some pretty face beside a train
And its not easy... to be me"

A little more than a month after the attacks, the New York area was just starting regain feeling after the numbness we felt, when the initial shock wore off. We had weeks of crying, weeks of wanting everything to go back to "before."  As the smoke from the pit at Ground Zero slowly stopped, it was time to remember the dead and thank those who worked so tirelessly, (many of whom would later lose their lives as an aftereffect of working so long in a toxic environment) hoping against hope, they would find just one person alive.

"I wish that I could cry, fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie, about a home I'll never see
It may sound absurd, but don't be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed

I may be disturbed, but won't you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
and its not be me"

David Bowie sat on the stage and opened the show with Simon & Garfunkel's "America," followed by "Heroes." These two songs would set the tone of the show. The list of performers was impressive, but the one that touched me the most was not McCartney, Jagger, Mellencamp or Bon Jovi.

"Up, up and away, away from me
now it's all right
You can all sleep sound tonight
Well I'm not crazy
or anything
I can't stand to fly, I'm not that naive
Men weren't meant to ride with clouds between their knees"

While all those artists performed with grace and attitude befitting the moment, the lasting impression from that night was that of John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting, sitting at the piano and singing "Superman."

"I'm only a man in a silly red sheet, digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet looking for special things inside of me

Inside of me, inside of me, inside of me, inside of me

I'm only a man in a funny red sheet
I'm only a man looking for a dream
I'm only a man in a funny red sheet and it's not easy

It's not easy... to be... me"

You may ask why I choose to feature this song today, a nondescript day in April, as opposed to on the anniversary of the attacks. Very simple. We need to remember what happened more often than one day a year. We, who live in the New York area have never been able to push it completely out of our minds...and that's a good thing. 

Please read the lyrics as you listen to the performance from the Concert for New York.


No, it's not easy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Back In Jersey: Rockin' With Southside Johnny

The world of music lost a man of importance this week, with the passing of Levon Helm. It seems so many artist performing this week have remembered both the man and his musical legacy. Last night was no different.

The show was Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, with opening act The Trews.

I love opening acts. It's the best way to hear music you haven't heard before, without putting out cash and feeling pissed if they are not exactly what you hoped they would be. You always have the headliner waiting in the wings posed to give you your money's the opening act is like a little gift. Nice.

The Trews are out of Canada, have been around a while and they rock. The Trews ripped through their set, featuring songs like "Poor Brokenhearted Me", "Hope and Ruin" and "30 Days In The Hole." Giving a nod to Levon with a small lick of  "Up On Cripple Creek," it was a moment which really rang true with the audience of older rockers, who grew up on The Band and their musical influences. As a side note, Guitarist John-Angus MacDonald offers the story of his meeting Levon Helm on their website. A very nice tribute.

For this rocker, The Trews were thoroughly enjoyable. Definitely worth a look-see.

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. It's been a while old friends, thank god you haven't changed.

"To a true musician" so said Johnny as he and the Jukes opened up the night respecting Levon Helm. "The Night They Dove Old Dixie Down" made the crowd realize this night would indeed be special. As the song ended, the house lights went on and Johnny had the crowd singing "na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na" till it was barely a whisper. One remarkable moment to remember.

Now time to rock, the Jukes went into "Brokedown Piece of Man".  Always the showman, Johnny kept the evening interesting, rockin' and a lot of fun. The joy he has in performing was evident throughout the night.

The Jukes, well they are as tight as ever. Mixing rock rhythms, add in some blues, it sometimes feels like a dixieland band. Great keys and vocals by Jeff Kazee gave depth to Johnny's singing. Pulling out a cover of the old Left Banke song "Walk Away Renee," we then got the story. Seems these Jersey shore boys always have a story to tell. As Johnny lamented that he didn't have a "pink cadillac like that other guy..he did have a harmonica in his glove compartment." Pulling out the world's smallest one, the sound he created on it could bring tears to your eyes.

A few of the highlights: "Love on the Wrong Side of Town," "Talk to Me," "I'll Play the Fool" and a sweet version of "Without Love" featuring five of the Jukes singing a wonderfully harmonic backup. The mellow sound of the horns and Johnny's interaction with each member of the band made this song special.  A Jersey favorite, everyone was happy to hear "The Fever" and the Jukes pulled out all the stops in playing it.

As Johnny talked again about Levon Helm, comparing him to the likes of Billy Holiday as a "real musician," the Jukes went into "The Weight." They were joined onstage by The Trews for what was one of those spellbinding moments you never want to end.

Leading the encore was "I Don't Want to Go Home"  followed by the song everyone wanted to hear "We're Having A Party", yeah we sure were. In another great surprise, The Jukes kicked it up even more by covering The Band's and Levon's "Ophelia"...very nice.

Last song of the night, a stripped down version of "Hearts of Stone" with only Johnny, Jeff Kazee and guitarist Glenn Alexander taking the stage. The vocals on this felt like they were ripped out of his soul. Spot on perfect.

Toward the end of the show, Johnny talked about being from Jersey and how nice it was to perform for a Jersey crowd.

Well Johnny, it sure as hell was nice having you play.

For the story of the early part of the evening, check out "A Night Of Music, But Wait...A Girl's Gotta Eat" on today's Kat's Theory of  Life blog.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Not Just A Member Of The Band: Levon Helm

Levon Helm was the man with the recognizable voice.

Born in Arkansas, his southern roots showed throughout his career. Starting out with the Ronnie Hawkins Band, Helm was most notably a member of The Band. With the ability to play several musical instruments, Levon Helm along with the other members of the band, would rotate between drums, guitar, mandolin, bass, banjo and harmonica.

The Band hit it big in 1968 with the album "Music from Big Pink." Included on Big Pink was one of their most famous songs "The Weight" along with Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released." Their relationship with Dylan continued over the years both touring and recording together. After The Band broke up, Helm continued his career, playing solo and along with a host of different musicians. In his later years, at his home in Woodstock NY, Helm held musical get-togethers known as the Midnight Ramble. These rambles featured a never ending assortment of musicians and the shows were open to the public so funds could be raised for Helm's ever mounting medical bills.

Tastes for today include some of my favorites from The Band.

"This Wheel's On Fire" ...Helm on drums and backing vocals
"Ophelia"...Drums and lead vocals

"I see my light come shining
from the west unto the east
any day now, any day now
I Shall Be Released"

Easy journey Levon.


Dick Clark: Remembering American Bandstand

"It has a good beat and you can dance to it." That was what you weren't supposed to say when you were picked to Rate-A-Record on American Bandstand. The only problem was...everyone said exactly that.

As a kid, I watched AB religiously. It was where we found out about new music and where you were able to see all the artists perform. All of them. From Tony Bennet to Buffalo Springfield to The Jackson Five, Rare Earth, Little did not matter what type of music, American Bandstand had it all. Hearing all the different types of music so early in my life, had to play a huge part in my appreciation for almost all types of music today.

Then there was the man himself, Dick Clark. Always a gentleman, always smooth as glass, always on top of the music. His contribution to music world can never be measured. All I know, is throughout my youth...he mattered a great deal.

Most of the clips of American Bandstand are not available but here are a few to showcase the diversity that was American Bandstand.

Jerry Lee Lewis "Great Balls of Fire"
Michael Jackson  "Push Me Away"
The Doors "Light My Fire"
and who could forget Sheena Easton "Strut"

Thank you Dick Clark.
"So long"....easy journey.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On The Road To Bamboozle

Indeed, the judgement has been rendered.

After Saturday's regional finals in the Big Break contest, the bands who performed needed to wait until 6:00 PM last night for the results. What we learned at that time was what we felt in our hearts all along.  The best band was "Something About January."

SAJ will get to play at Bamboozle along with Bon Jovi, The Foo Fighters and many other great bands. There is one last hurdle though. On Sunday, May 6th, they will have a final showdown at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, between the five regional winners to decide who get to play on the main stage. Unfortunately, because of a conflicting rock concert in Pennsylvania that night, I will only be at the Pony in spirit. Don't feel bad for me, I'll be having a kick-ass time with some old friends "Survivor" at Penn's Peak.

Congratulations to Sparta NJ's own "Something About January" on making it to the more step to go.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Battle Is Over: Judgement Awaits

The battle of the bands is now history. Those of us with a vested interest now await the decision of the judges.

As we entered The Stanhope House last night for the regional finals of The Break Contest, that familiar feeling of being in a venue where rock and roll dreams are realized or crushed, was front and center. The winner of the regional finals is awarded a spot in the Bamboozle line-up, right along side the likes of Bon Jovi and the Foo Fighters. A dream come true for any up and coming band.

For this event, the crowd at the roadhouse had a dividing line. Under 21 near the stage only...the rest of us could hang out at the bar. No place I'd rather be.

There were to be 19 bands playing. I love music but I'm not a masochist, there are only so many hours left in this old rocker's hearing and I need to be a bit selective over where I blow out my eardrums. We arrived early enough to catch a couple of the bands before the group we were there to see. The first band wasn't bad, the music was generic at best, but it did sound like music. Not so with the next band.

With not one, but two lead singers, they did their best to destroy any hope I had for not waking up to a splitting headache. What I think would be considered a form of extreme metal, this band was above the decibel limit for anything breathing on this planet. The intensity of the screaming of one of the lead singers gave me concern for his needing vocal surgery in less than five years. But the truly scary thing about them was, apparently some of them are Med students. Hopefully one of them will be a eyes, ears, nose and throat man.

One more tolerable band who sang to the crowd "Keep Your Hands Up" least 20 times. And they say you can't hear great lyrics anymore.  Finally, a rap group segue I didn't quite understand, led up to the set for "Something About January."

As they set up, they looked a bit nervous. As they began to play...nervousness turned into a flow of adrenaline. Even with a slightly biased view of the band, one could tell they were as tight as you can get and on fire. Three original songs and one cover later, the reach for the brass ring is out of their hands.

Awaiting judgement is a hard thing to do. But taking pride in a job well done is at least a small gift for all the hard work it took to get to this point. Kicking ass when it needs to be done..well that's what we do here in Jersey.

Congrats guys. No matter what happens next, you showed your talent, attitude and conviction.
Keep on rockin'.

Listen to "Something About January"


Friday, April 13, 2012

Real Fresh and Tasty: Alabama Shakes

New music today...literally. While a long time in the making, today's taste had their first CD "Boys and Girls" drop this week. Rather let's say it exploded.

Coming out of the south, this band started to get together in high school. Taking a do-it-our-way approach to has been a long time coming but worth waiting for, in every sense.

The band is Alabama Shakes and the voice you will hear is Brittany Howard. Backed on bass by Zac Cockrell, guitar by Heath Fogg and drummer Steve Johnson...Alabama Shakes offers a nice blend of R&B, rock, country and soul.  You can taste all the flavors, but they blend into one distinct sound.

Tasty morsels from Alabama Shakes:
"Heavy Chevy"
"Hang Loose"

and the song that first put them on the radar screen
"You Ain't Alone"

If you ain't shaking along with you got no soul.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A New Voice In America: Esa Linna

Finnish bass player Esa Linna began his professional music career in 1990 with the punk pop band Time Flies.  After eight years together, the bands' living logistics as well as changes in lifestyle caused the eventual dissolution of the group. The next year, Esa's musical path led him in a different direction…grunge power pop, and a band called 86 Yourself.  At the present time, Esa divides his time between solo work and a member of the band Itamaa.
I recently caught up with Esa and asked him about the release of his upcoming EP, his musical influences and the diversity of his music.
Kat’s Theory (KT): Esa, your solo EP is being released in the United States through Kool Kat Musik (no connection to Kat’s Theory) and your single “Piece of Me” is about to be released to iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, and other outlets. This must be an exciting as well as nerve-wracking time for an artist. Tell me your thoughts on what is about to happen.
Esa Linna (EL): You nailed it - it truly is an exciting and nerve-wracking time. But then again, this is what I wanted. I want to get my songs and my name known, and at the same time I am choosing the songs for my album. When you do all of this by yourself, you have to trust that the music speaks for itself.
KT: Let’s talk about the single “Piece of Me.” The song is hardly an endorsement for a healthy reciprocating relationship. How did this song come about?
EL: I have found that many of my lyrics can be understood as songs about love or relationships, although they are not. “Piece of Me” is essentially about myself. I like to keep my privacy and won’t tell what is going on with my life, unless someone asks. Maybe it comes from the town I grew up in Northern Finland, called Ylivieska. It had a culture that you should not brag too much about what you had accomplished. I think it’s a healthy attitude to keep yourself down to earth. Also the lyrics refer to “my past” and the fact that I won’t bring up the tragedies that my family has faced. Unless someone asks, like now.
KT: You've lost several family members at an early age, do you consider your own mortality as an influence in your writing?
EL: I don't think as an influence that I could recognize, but I am sure it has an effect on my writing; at least lyrically.
KT: You played all the instruments on ”Piece of Me”; guitar, bass, mandolin, keyboards, banjo, cello and percussion. Which instruments did you have formal training in, and which did you just pick up?
EL: I studied cello for six years in musical institute when I was a kid, and bought myself one... 20+ years after I quit studying. Otherwise, there has been always music and instruments near me, so it is natural to pick up and try to play them. I have been playing guitars, bass and keyboards for almost 30 years, but never studied them.
KT: Now at the polar opposite end of the musical spectrum, “She’s Not A Human Being” is a pop tune you’ve written about your cat. My question to you is how do you know she doesn’t like Jeff Lynne (a line from the song)? All kidding aside, the tune is very catchy and reminds me of the pure pop songs of the 60s garage bands. Tell me a bit about the recording of this tune with bringing in Roger Joseph Manning Jr (Jellyfish) on backing vocals and keys, along with a great drum beat by Seppo Alvari Pohjolainen.
EL: To be straight, I don’t know if she liked Jeff Lynne or not, but I sure can say she didn’t like the loud guitar sound!
I wrote “She’s Not a Human Being” back in 2006 and the demo I made was more like country rock than 60’s garage pop. We practiced “She’s Not A Human Being” and “20,000 Days” with Seppo only for an hour before we went into the studio. I booked 4 hours from the studio and we noticed that we had recorded everything I already planned in 2 hours. I wasn’t prepared to sing in the studio, but since there’s two hours left, I sang the basic tracks for the songs.
In rehearsals our playing style somehow started to remind us of The Undertones and The Buzzcocks, so we decided to keep that style. Seppo is the former drummer of Trio Niskalaukaus, which was a hugely popular metal band in Finland, early 2000’s. Since we play together in a band called Itämaa, it was natural and easy to ask him to play drums.
I contacted Roger Joseph Manning Jr. a year ago and he agreed (to my surprise) to take part in the song. I sent the studio recordings of two songs to him, and he chose “She’s Not A Human Being”. I didn’t give him any tips but trusted Roger’s professionality. I received his recordings via internet, we put the tracks together in the mixing phase and it was perfect. The backing vocals particularly are just incredible. I am so proud of what he did to the song. The great organ sound by Roger also gives the 60’s garage pop feel you are talking about.
Most fun thing probably is that legendary Roger Joseph Manning Jr. is singing about our cat. I know that Roger loves cats too. It’s a great tribute to Siiri the cat, who has run away. Hopefully not because of my guitar playing.
KT: The second song on the EP “20,000 Days” is more of a rock song and the fourth “Meat Market” is much more into electronics. In fact, all four songs on the EP are quite diverse. How did you decide on this mix of sounds to include on the EP?
EL: The diversity is somewhat accidental. My first plan was to release a CD single with two tracks, but that didn’t seem reasonable these days. I thought it had to be an EP and recorded “Piece of Me” as the third song. When everything was ready, my friend Markku finished the remix for my oldest solo song “Meat Market”. I had asked him to do it in November but planned to release it only as digital download. When I heard the remix, I just loved it, and it became the bonus track for the EP.
I know the diversity might be a problem for some people expecting me to do similar songs like “She’s Not A Human Being”, but once I started to write my solo stuff, the earliest reviews in Finnish music magazines back in early 2000’s, mentioned that I am bending the boundaries of pop and power pop genre. I like to think myself like that. For the album, though, I try to mask the diversity more. But still, the EP sounds exactly like I wanted it to sound. I love to make whatever I want to with my solo stuff. It’s the sound of freedom!
KT: Last week with the passing of Earl Scruggs, you told me he was the reason you picked up the banjo and why you still have the passion for it today. It seems his influence truly was global. Do you remember how you were first introduced to his music?
EL: My oldest brother has been playing bluegrass for a long time, so from him I learned to listen to artists like Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck and Tony Rice. I bought a cheap banjo and I still play that.
First time I played banjo for an album was with my former punk pop band Time Flies back in 1995. The Happy Smile album contained the song called “Space Aliens” and we sang in the chorus “Space aliens love country music”. It was aired several times in Finnish national radio and went to a compilation album Punk Plus, which featured bands like NOFX and Dog Eat Dog. I also played banjo for the upcoming Itämaa album. Seppo Pohjolainen is doing also the solo career (by the name Seppo Alvari) with country & bluegrass influenced music … so I play banjo also in his band.
There is also an active bluegrass scene in Finland, so it’s true that Earl Scruggs definitely influenced globally.
KT: About the bluegrass scene in Finland, is it mainly bluegrass or a mixture of bluegrass and country? What about pure blues?
EL: I think there are also groups that mix bluegrass & country.. There is also a bluegrass organization of Finland and bluegrass festival called Rootsinpyhtaa. I am not so familiar with blues scene, although it has been very popular in Finland too.
KT: Your career has led you through several music genres. Tell me some of your other influences.
EL: I must always mention Alice Cooper - Alice Cooper Band and some of his later stuff has been a great influence on me. I started to listen to Alice Cooper probably at the age of six, when I got the Billion Dollar Babies album.
Some other bands that influenced me are Galactic Cowboys and King’s X. The vocal harmonies mixed to different types of musical styles are one of the things I love with those bands. Ty Tabor from King’s X mastered my EP, except “Meat Market”.
Then there’s punk and hardcore bands like Dead Kennedys, Subhumans and All, that have a place in my heart to the death.
KT: I find it funny that you listened to Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies at such a young age.  Parents here in the States were totally freaking out about their kids listening to Alice Cooper...he was a very scary rocker back then. How did you get your hands on that album so young?
EL: I guess it hasn't been so big a deal in Finland when kids have been listening to rockers like Alice Cooper. Although my mother is from a religious family, it was OK that my bigger brother gave me the album. And my mother is musical, so I guess she found positive sides for her children listening to music in general, even though the performer might have been scary looking (and sometimes sounding).
KT: You uploaded a sort of play-by-play discussion on how you recorded “Piece of Me” including your secrets to the drum beat, as well as the instruments used. I find it interesting that an artist would go through this explanation. What were the reasons you decided on having this discussion?
EL: I have read recording engineers, producers and songwriter’s "secrets" from magazines and the internet, and it’s always interesting for me. I also wanted to share my views that you don’t always need top-notch and expensive gear to make good sounding songs.
I also use Linux operating system & software for recording and mixing, and that is not so common, so I thought people could be interested about it. I write articles about Linux music software for Finnish music technology magazine Riffi, so it was just natural for me to write an explanation. 
KT: You are currently a member of the band Itamaa. What are the differences in style between your solo work and your work with Itamaa?
EL: In Itämaa, I am not a leading songwriter - our guitarist Arto Hamalainen writes most of the songs. Also I am not the lead vocalist and lyric songwriter, which is Mikko Anttonen. I am more in the background, but I think I brought the pop elements to Itämaa’s sound. My bandmates even call me “Pop-Esa”.
This is the greatest time musically for me. There is a special feeling when you are in the band. It’s more social and when four guys are bringing ideas, it produces songs and elements that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. But when I do my solo material, I can be my own dictator. That’s fun, too!
KT: As your music is released in the United States, what do you want this new audience to know about your music?
EL: That most of my influences come from American music, but they have been filtered by the Finnish state of mind. We have a long winter and that means when you go to work in the morning, it’s dark. When you leave work in the afternoon, it is dark again. When the sun might shine in the winter time, we are probably indoors and don’t see it. But when we have the summer, the nights are light.
I sure hope people will listen essentially to the songs. There are always melodies and pop songs beneath, although I might cover it with some strange tasting coating.
An interesting tasting assortment to say the least. Check out the new EP by Esa Linna and sample all four courses.
My thanks to Esa Linna for his time and assistance in this interview.
Find Esa Linna at: or on Twitter @esalinna
Listen to Esa Linna at :  Esa Linna EP
Article first published as A New Voice in America: Esa Linna on Technorati.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

And What The Hell Does She Know Anyway?

Yeah, yeah.  Everybody felt the need to chime in.

After admitting that Metal was not my strong suit, I tried to show I can think outside the box and highlighted a band most people are not familiar with, Primal Fear. While I do, on occasion get questioned on my methods for deciding on the taste of the day, usually it is people bitchin' that I should have included a specific song of the singer or band I am showcasing.

But with this post...everyone had an opinion. How could you not have Metallica? If you were doing a German band, how could it not be The Scorpians, and what about AC/DC? Seriously, did ya not think I might have considered them...first? Well...Kat always has a plan. And while I may be a bit trashy...I am never obvious (well almost never). Sometimes you need to think ahead...some of those might be featured in other posts...not necessarily in the Metal context. So one and all...calm the f&$k down.

Ok then. Let's get on to the taste for today. It is not a great morning, another night without sleep, so I'm taking an easy road today. Again, this is somthing I had thought about before and this morning seems like one hell of a good time to do it.

The One-Hit-Wonder.

We all know them, we all have a few that we love and probably a bunch that we hate. With every generation of music there will always be those bands that burst upon the scene, shoot up the charts and crap out just as quickly. One of the most notable examples...Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky." I hope the rumors that he's lived quite comfortably off the royalties his entire life, are true.

The Monroes were a band out of San Diego who, just as their single was heading up the charts and were opening for bands such as Toto and Greg Kihn, found out their Japanese label would no longer support the US market. End of the dream. But the song that did have some success is one of my favorite one-hit-wonders.

Enjoy this all too brief taste of fame and fortune.

The Monroes "What Do All The People Know?"

Apparently when it comes to Metal...more than me.

Any suggestions for more one-hit-wonders can be left in the comment area or emailed to me.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Let's Get Loud Today...Really Loud

Ok, since I've been writing this music blog there is one genre of music I have yet to feature. And yes, I will admit it now. While I can appreciate its form, the skill involved in it and the legions of its fans...I AM NOT A METALHEAD. There I've said it.

Yes, I do enjoy the occasion head banging moment just like the rest of you, but I am a writer...for me I need to enjoy the lyrics as well as the music, and it's just too damn hard to get past the...well loudness. Granted there are some great metal lyrics starting way back with "I like smoke & lightning...heavy metal thunder"... unofficially the first time metal was actually given a nod in a song. But some of the writing is a little too much "in your face." That's fine, to each his own and all that.

Today though is Easter Sunday..all peace and quiet and...yeah cause I like to push the limits at all times, just the perfect time for some knock-the-paint-off-the-walls music.

Firing it up today, German metal band Primal Fear. Led by the vocals of Ralf Sheepers, he is definitely a man not only with the full-balls-on delivery needed to front this power band, but he also has an unbelievable quality to his voice as well. Randy Black smokes on drums and his rhythm partner Mat Sinner has a resume of playing bass and producing albums forever. Finish it off with the dueling guitars of Magnus Karlsson and Alexander Beyrodt and if you're standing, chances are they are gonna knock your ass down.

Heavy tasting today...

"Riding the Eagle" 
"Angel in Black"

Turn the volume way the hell up...or really, what's the point.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Time To Kick It Up...Outlaw Style

Coming out of Tampa, today's taste is more proof of the incredible talent that came out of the south in the 70s. Legend has it, when they opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1974, Ronnie Van Zant of Skynyrd yelled out to Clive Davis who was in the audience. “If you don’t sign the Outlaws, you’re the dumbest music person I’ve ever met—and I know you’re not.”  Indeed, they signed with Arista Records under Clive Davis.

The Outlaws featured heavy guitars, thunderous bass and plenty of drum work. Good old kick ass southern rock.

Let's take a taste of a few fine examples.

"Hurry Sundown"
"There Goes Another Love Song"

and a killer cover of
"Ghost Riders in the Sky"

Music on a Saturday afternoon doesn't get better than this.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Oh, This Is Good, Actually It's Wonderland

A few months ago while listening to a Blues channel, I heard today's taste for the first time. Because my mind has as many holes as the proverbial Swiss cheese, I wrote down her name. I am so glad I did...and you will be too.

Coming out of Texas, Carolyn Wonderland eats the blues for breakfast and kicks the crap out of them for the rest of the day.

Able to play a mean guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, piano and trumpet... Carolyn Wonderland has one more weapon at her disposal, her voice...oh and a lot of attitude.

"Judgement Day Blues"  watch her play, listen to her wail
"Walk On"  kickin' it up big time, bring out the trumpet too
"Misunderstood" a little slide guitar, if you please
"The Wind Cries Mary" Hendrix yes...on electric mandoline

and the song that I first heard
"What Good Can Drinkin' Do" written by Janis Joplin

It's taken til now to find her, but there's no going back.
This is a bucketful of tasty treats...down 'em all.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Early Morning, April 4

"Shot rings out in the Memphis sky,
free at last, they took your life, 
they could not take your pride."

1968: a time of conflict, a time of change, a time of incomprehensible violence.

April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis Tennessee. A man who lived by the credo of non-violence was gunned down, thus ending his dream..but not his legacy.

Two simple songs to commemorate his passing.

U2 "Pride (In the Name of Love)"
Dion "Abraham, Martin & John"

Never forget what he accomplished without violence.


Monday, April 2, 2012

What's Going On? Celebrating Marvin's Birthday

Today we celebrate hands down the smoothest singer ever to come out of disrespect to Smokey intended.

Marvin Gaye was born on this day in 1939. From the late 60s until his death in 1984, Marvin Gaye had a string of hits that are still on the playlists of radio stations everywhere. From "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" to "What's Going On" right through "Sexual Healing",  Marvin sang with a style that cannot be duplicated.

More than I loved Marvin on his own, I loved him even more when paired with Tammi Terrell, another wonderful singer who died way too young. Today, let's taste both Marvin solo and along with Tammi.

As much as I love this first song, I detest when it is used as a sports theme. It is nothing but the sexiest song ever recorded (ok that's open for interpretation, but it's my story and I'm sticking to it).

Marvin Gaye "Let's Get It On", sooo goood
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" ...a perfect duet

Happy Birthday Marvin.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Wandering Back To Where It Started

Going back to some roots today.

As with virtually everything when we were growing up, my brother and I had vastly different tastes when it came to music.  He hated everything I liked and for the most part I felt the same about what he liked. But there were a few exceptions. Today's taste is one of those. Dion.

Dion DiMucci brought the tail end of Doo Wop into the rock and roll arena. And, he did it with attitude. Even in the old videos of Dion in the suit with the styled hair, he showed the swagger that would be his trademark...New York City all the way.

My brother had a 45 rpm of  "Runaround Sue" which I would play when he wasn't around. Back then, you had to sneak certain things so you didn't get your ass kicked (but that's a story for another day).  Backed up by The Belmonts, this song was so fun and lively, you couldn't help singing along.

Dion had a string of hits early on, faded then came back huge in the late 60s with "Abraham. Martin and John."

"I'm the type of guy that likes to roam around
I'm never in one place I roam from town to town
And when I find myself a-fallin' for some girl
I hop right into that car of mine and ride around the world
Yeah I'm the wanderer yeah the wanderer
I roam around around around."

Still rockin' it today...a clip from back then and another with Dion showing how you do it...with years of practice.

"The Wanderer" circa 1961
"The Wanderer"  around 50 years later, damn he can still kick ass

"If your feet ain't tappin', baby you're dead."