Album of the Day: Alex Chilton, Free Again: The 1970 Sessions (2012, Omnivore Recordings)



Alex Chilton, Free Again – The 1970 Sessions (2012, Omnivore Recordings)

Allmusic (4.5/5): AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Alex Chilton fronted the Box Tops but he never led them. He was a hired hand, picked for his preternaturally soulful voice but, like any red-blooded American teen, he soon bristled against the constraints on his freedom. Chips Moman and Dan Penn masterminded the Box Tops, rarely letting Chilton record his own material, so he did what any rebellious adolescent would do: he sneaked around, cutting material at the fledging Ardent Studios without the knowledge of American Studios, who owned the rights to Chilton’s recordings. These contractual issues meant that the recordings Alex made at Ardent in 1969 with Terry Manning were still called “1970″ when Ardent released them on CD in 1996 — it was the year Chilton was released from his American contract — but this tremendous 2012 reissue adds a more poetic title in Free Again. It’s a title that accurately reflects Chilton’s frame of mind: he was breaking free of the constraints of the Box Tops, finding his voice as a songwriter and musician, leaving behind the strict blue-eyed soul of his first band without quite ditching soul. He hasn’t left behind the light, Baroque psychedelia that marked some of the latter-day Box Tops LPs, either — there’s a distinctly British undercurrent to the sweeter pop tunes here — but there are also hints of country and loose-limbed, dirty rock & roll, particularly in a wildly inventive cover of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” that slows down the groove and turns Keith Richards’ riff inside out. In that sense, the music on Free Again is just as much a bridge between the Box Tops and Big Star — something that’s quite clear on the more delicate moments here — as it is an indication of what he would do after Big Star. Much of this points the way toward the willful, ornery vibe of Like Flies on Sherbert, or the casual R&B crooner of the ’80s and beyond, but in 1969, Alex has yet to prize contrariness over craft: he is still writing with passion and, with Manning and the Ardent renegades figuring out just what they could do in the studio, this crackles with invention and spirit. Sure, it’s messy, but Alex Chilton always was — it’s also some of his richest and best music, and it’s never sounded better than it does on Free Again:
The 1970 Sessions.

Track Listing:

1 Free Again (Original Mono Mix) 2:38
2 Come On Honey 3:34
3 Something Deep Inside 2:41
4 I Can Dig It 3:49
5 The EMI Song (Smile For Me) 4:02
6 All I Really Want Is Money 4:56
7 The Happy Song 2:05
8 Jumpin’ Jack Flash 4:07
9 Every Day As We Grow Closer/Funky National 3:16
10 I Wish I Could Meet Elvis 3:16
11 Just To See You 3:50
12 All We Ever Got From Them Was Pain 3:23
13 Sugar, Sugar/I Got The Feelin’ 6:20
14 Free Again (Stereo Remix With Alternate Vocal) 2:58
15 Every Day As We Grow Closer (Original Mono Mix) 2:27
16 Come On Honey (Original Mono Mix) 3:34
17 The EMI Song (Smile For Me) (Original Mono Mix) 3:58
18 All I Really Want Is Money (Original Mono Mix) 4:44
19 If You Would Marry Me Babe (Demo) 1:49
20 It Isn’t Always That Easy (Demo) 2:32

Buy from Amazon

Listen on Spotify

Album of the Day: Betty Davis, They Say I’m Different (1974, Just Sunshine)



Betty Davis, They Say I’m Different (1974, Just Sunshine)

Allmusic (4.5/5): AllMusic Review by John Bush

Betty Davis’ second full-length featured a similar set of songs as her debut, though with Davis herself in the production chair and a radically different lineup. The openers, “Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him” and “He Was a Big Freak,” are big, blowsy tunes with stop-start funk rhythms and Davis in her usual persona as the aggressive sexual predator. On the title track, she reminisces about her childhood and compares herself to kindred spirits of the past, a succession of blues legends she holds fond — including special time for Bessie Smith, Chuck Berry, and Robert Johnson. A pair of unknowns, guitarist Cordell Dudley and bassist Larry Johnson, do a fair job of replacing the stars from her first record. As a result, They Say I’m Different is more keyboard-dominated than her debut, with prominent electric piano, clavinet, and organ from Merl Saunders, Hershall Kennedy, and Tony Vaughn. The material was even more extreme than on her debut; “He Was a Big Freak” featured a prominent bondage theme, while “Your Mama Wants Ya Back” and “Don’t Call Her No Tramp” dealt with prostitution, or at least inferred it. With the exception of the two openers, though, They Say I’m Different lacked the excellent songs and strong playing of her debut; an explosive and outré record, but more a variation on the same theme she’d explored before.

Track Listing:

Shoo-B-Doop And Cop Him 3:56
He Was A Big Freak 4:06
Your Mama Wants Ya Back 3:25
Don’t Call Her No Tramp 4:08
Git In There 4:43
They Say I’m Different 4:14
70′s Blues 4:59
Special People 3:21

Buy from Light In The Attic

Buy from Amazon

Listen on Spotify


Album of the Day: The Yardbirds, Cumular Limit (2000, Burning Airlines)



The Yardbirds, Cumular Limit (2000, Burning Airlines)

Allmusic (4/5) : AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder

This is an uneven but generally pleasing compilation of Yardbirds material. The highlight is a series of four-tracks off German television from March of 1967, a point when the band, with Jimmy Page on lead guitar, was immersed in psychedelia. Among the tracks played live is “Happenings Ten Years’ Time Ago,” perhaps the culmination of the group’s psychedelic period and otherwise under-represented in their concert output; Page does a good job of replicating the single’s double lead guitar sound, including the stripped-down break. “Over Under Sideways Down,” “Shapes of Things,” and “I’m a Man,” all of which are represented on the group’s official live album, are all well recorded, and “I’m a Man” (perhaps the most ubiquitous song in the group’s output, with three official versions) comes off well, apart from the closing credit announcement in German that intrudes over the finale, but the other cuts reveal just how sloppy the band could be in their media appearances; on the plus side, Keith Relf is in much better voice here than he is on the official Anderson Theater live album from a year later. The major part of disc one is a set of alternate takes of late-era tracks of which “White Summer” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor” are the strongest numbers. What sounds like a work-in-progress version of “Ten Little Indians” featuring the guitar up close and personal (and projecting some ornate feedback) may please Jimmy Page completists (who will also devour the tracks “You Stood My Love” and its accompanying unreleased cuts, “Avron Knows”; they aren’t much as songs (though they’re better than much of what is on Little Games), but they do offer Page playing some aggressive and appealing leads, while “Spanish Blood” has him playing gorgeous Spanish guitar. A live version of “I’m Confused” from France in March of 1968 comes off much better than the official Anderson Theater version from later the same month. The second disc is a CD-ROM containing the video version of the four German television songs on disc one; it has amazingly high quality and is enjoyable as one of the few fairly lengthy extant glimpses of the group playing to an audience.

Track Listing:

1. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor (Alternate Version)
2. Shapes Of Things
3. Happenings Ten Years Time Ago
4. Over Under Sideways Down
5. I’m A Man
6. White Summer (Alternate Version)
7. Ten Little Indians
8. Glimpses (Alternate Version)
9. You Stole My Love
10. Avron Knows
11. Spanish Blood
12. My Baby
13. Taking A Hold On Me
14. Dazed And Confused

Buy from Amazon

Album of the Day: The Litter, Distortions (1967, Warick)

The Litter - Front


The Litter, Distortions (1967, Warick)

Dr. Schluss’ Garage of Psychedelic Obscurities review:

Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

This slab from these Minneapolis psych rockers is typically viewed as an absolute garage rock classic in the vein of the Chocolate Watchband or the Electric Prunes. I’m not really one to argue with that. There’s plenty of fuzzed-out guitars and rhythm section pounding to please the engroovied masses. Like the Watchband, the Litter weren’t really too keen on composing tunes – at least not at this point. Thus, we’ve got some impassioned wailings on luminaries like the Who, the Yardbirds, and Cream. No, none of them are really on par with the originals, but this is right on target as the kind of thing you’d want to hear at full blast shaking the floorboards of a psychedelic house party.

The key track, “Action Woman,” is an absolute acid rock classic that has graced choice positions on both Nuggets and Pebbles compilations. They didn’t write it, but it’s undeniably their tune. Outside of that magma intensity splatter painting of balls-out psych rock, I dig their take on the Who. As I mentioned before, they don’t manage to displace the originals, but they do give a damn fine gritty American boot-stomping vibe on “Substitute” and “A Legal Matter.” The seams show a touch on their attempt at a ‘rave-up’ on “I’m A Man,” but again, in the right context and frame of mind it’s a rollicking time. The originals on here don’t really shine so brightly, but they work well as 60′s album cuts and ultimately fit in on the more positive side of ‘filler.’

I think a lot of people show up at the psychedelic garage for this kind of thing (although I like to think they ultimately stick around for the ragas and drones), and this is an immensely pleasurable example of a hard rockin’, psychedelic time. If you haven’t crossed paths with the Litter and you’ve already consumed your essential 60′s rock, then you’re gonna have a good time here.

Track Listing:

Action Woman
Whatcha Gonna Do About It?
Somebody Help Me
The Mummy
I’m So Glad
A Legal Matter
Rack My Mind
I’m A Man

CD Reissue bonus tracks (1999, Arf! Arf!)

Hey Joe
Here I Go Again
The Egyptian
(Under The Screaming Double) Eagle
Confessions (Of A Traveler Through Time)
Blues One
She’s Not There

Buy from Amazon

Listen on Spotify

Album of the Day: Reigning Sound, Too Much Guitar (2004, In The Red)



Reigning Sound, Too Much Guitar (2004, In The Red Recordings)

Allmusic (4/5): AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

Greg Cartwright sums up his approach on the third album from the Reigning Sound with the title, Too Much Guitar — here, Cartwright moves the old-school soul influences that were in the forefront on Break Up Break Down and Time Bomb High School to the back burner in favor of a hip-shakin’ set of loud and primal guitar-based rock & roll. While Cartwright’s passion for R&B is still prominent in these songs (and their performances), here it manifests itself in a set of tunes that take Stones/Pretties-style raunch and filters it through ’60s garage rock bashing in the manner of the Sonics or the Misunderstood. In short, this thing goes bash, pound, bash through 14 high-impact cuts, and Cartwright’s passionate vocals jockey for position against his revved-up guitar bashing, while bassist Jeremy Scott and drummer Greg Roberson flail away for all their worth in support. Cartwright also reaffirms his status here as one of the best songwriters in the nuevo garage scene on Too Much Guitar — while the performances may value impact over nuance, the songs are smart, soulful, and emotionally powerful, and the lyrics speak of a maturity that’s a far (and welcome) cry from the cars’n’girls blatherings of most new garage outfits. While some fans might miss some of the soulful undercurrents that made Time Bomb High School so memorable, if you want to hear Greg Cartwright rock on out, then this album will convince you that Too Much Guitar is never enough.

Track Listing:

1 We Repel Each Other
2 Your Love Is A Fine Thing
3 If You Can’t Give Me Everything
4 You Got Me Hummin’ (Porter / Hayes)
5 When You Touch Me
6 Funny Thing
7 Get It! (H. Ballard)
8 I’ll Cry
9 Drowning
10 Uptight Tonight (J. Dickinson)
11 Excedrine Headache #265
12 Let Yourself Go (Carpet Baggers)
13 So Easy
14 Medication

Buy from In The Red

Buy from Amazon

Listen on Spotify


Album of the Day: The Bob Seger System, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man (1969, Capitol)



The Bob Seger System, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man (1969, Capitol)

Allmusic (4/5): AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The Bob Seger System throw everything into Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, dabbling in folk, blues-rock, psychedelia, and piledriving rock & roll synonymous with Detroit. Typical of such a wide-ranging debut, not everything works. The System stumbles when they take psychedelic San Franciscan bands on their own turf. Trippy soundscapes like “Gone” drift into the ether, and the longer jams, “White Wall” and “Black Eyed Girl,” meander. But the songs that do work are absolute monsters, highlighted by the title track, a thunderous bit of self-mythology driven by a relentless rhythm, wailing organ riff, and gospel chorus. It’s a stunningly great record, and while nothing here quite equals it, the songs that come close (with the exception of “Train Man,” the first inkling of Seger’s knack for reflective, intimate ballads) are sterling examples of spare, bluesy, angry Michigan rock & roll. “Tales of Lucy Blue” has a spooky, menacing edge, “Ivory” is a great Motown-styled raver, and “Down Home” rides a manic riff and a simple blues harp to be one of the best rockers on the record. Then there’s “2 +2 = ?,” a ferocious antiwar song in the vein of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” but here Seger can’t imagine why the nice guy in high school is now buried in the mud. It’s a frightening, visceral song that stands among the best anti-Vietnam protests. Finally, the album closes with “The Last Song (Love Needs to Be Loved),” an unabashed peace, love, ‘n’ understanding anthem styled in the manner of West Coast hippie pop, particularly Love. It’s atypical of anything on the album or anything Seger would ever do again, but in many ways, it’s the perfect way to close an exciting, flawed debut that winds up being a symbol of its times by its very diversity.

Track Listing:

A1 Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man 2:20
A2 Tales Of Lucy Blue 2:23
A3 Ivory 2:25
A4 Gone 3:25
A5 Down Home 3:10
A6 Train Man 4:05
B1 White Wall 5:15
B2 Black Eyed Girl 6:30
B3 2 + 2 = ? 2:47
B4 Doctor Fine 1:05
B5 The Last Song (Love Needs To Be Loved) 3:02

Buy From Amazon

Album of the Day: The Sonics, This Is The Sonics (2015, Revox)



The Sonics, This Is The Sonics (2015, Revox)

Allmusic (4/5): AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

Being the toughest band on Earth in 1965 was clearly something to be proud of, but what does that mean 50 years later? Just because you could reliably kick a field goal or run a four-minute mile when you were 18 doesn’t mean you’ll be expected to do the same at your high-school reunion five decades on. But musicians are often judged by the standards they set in their youth, and in the 21st century, the Sonics, the frantic and ferocious garage rock band from Tacoma, Washington, whose records were among the most explosive to emerge in the ’60s, have decided to make a new album and show the world how they’re holding up. And the good news is, they’re holding up remarkably well — This Is the Sonics is a joyously raw blast of full-bore garage rock stomp that comes perilously close to matching the furious energy of their iconic Etiquette Records sides from the ’60s, and if these guys no longer sound like teenagers whacked out on coffee and beer, they’re clearly running on high-test rock & roll passion, and their formula still works like a charm. The Sonics were lucky to have a talented and sympathetic hand in the studio, Detroiter Jim Diamond, who has been recording full-on garage-influenced stuff for the better part of two decades, and his monophonic recording and mix document the band’s sound with an ideal balance of clarity and vintage analog growl. But that wouldn’t mean a thing if the Sonics couldn’t deliver, and amazingly, This Is the Sonics lives up to its name in every sense. Gerry Roslie’s vocals still sound like a blast furnace that’s been taught to impersonate Little Richard (and his keyboard work is more than up to snuff), guitarist Larry Parypa wails hard whether he’s chopping out a rhythm or tearing up a solo, and Rob Lind’s sax pours out a glorious honk that cuts through the surrounding fracas like a knife. The band’s new rhythm section, bassist Freddie Dennis and drummer Dusty Watson, are a perfect fit for the Sonics, muscular and fiery without getting too flashy, and if “Save the Planet” (“It’s the only one with beer”) isn’t exactly a classic, most of the other new tunes are just what you love and demand from the Sonics (especially the brazen “Bad Betty” and “The Hard Way”), and “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” “Leaving Here,” and “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” show they know what to do with an R&B classic. This Is the Sonics is an outstanding return to duty for one of the great primal rock & roll bands of the ’60s, and if they don’t sound like kids, the flame that fueled their best discs is still burning bright, and they’re louder, crazier, and wilder than most bands a third their age. Outstanding work, though the Sonics are urged not to wait another few decades before they try this again.

Track Listing:

I Don’t Need No Doctor
Be A Woman
Bad Betty
You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover
The Hard Way
Leaving Here
Look At Little Sister
I Got Your Number
Livin’ In Chaos
Save The Planet
Spend The Night

Buy from The Sonics

Buy from Amazon

Listen on Spotify

Album of the Day: Big Star, Radio City (1974, Ardent)



Big Star, Radio City (1974, Ardent)

Allmusic (4.5/5): AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

Largely lacking co-leader Chris Bell, Big Star’s second album also lacked something of the pop sweetness (especially the harmonies) of #1 Record. What it possessed was Alex Chilton’s urgency (sometimes desperation) on songs that made his case as a genuine rock & roll eccentric. If #1 Record had a certain pop perfection that brought everything together, Radio City was the sound of everything falling apart, which proved at least as compelling.

Wikipedia entry

Track Listing:

O, My Soul 5:35
Life Is White 3:18
Way Out West 2:46
What’s Goin’ Ahn 2:37
You Get What You Deserve 3:05
Mod Lang 2:42
Back Of A Car 2:42
Daisy Glaze 3:49
She’s A Mover 3:09
September Gurls 2:46
Morpha Too 1:28
I’m In Love With A Girl 1:45

Buy from Amazon

Listen on Spotify (combo version with ‘#1 Record’)


Album of the Day: Iggy & the Stooges, Raw Power (1973, Columbia)



Iggy & the Stooges, Raw Power (1973, Columbia)

Allmusic (5/5): AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

In 1972, the Stooges were near the point of collapse when David Bowie’s management team, MainMan, took a chance on the band at Bowie’s behest. By this point, guitarist Ron Asheton and bassist Dave Alexander had been edged out of the picture, and James Williamson had signed on as Iggy’s new guitar mangler; Asheton rejoined the band shortly before recording commenced on Raw Power, but was forced to play second fiddle to Williamson as bassist. By most accounts, tensions were high during the recording of Raw Power, and the album sounds like the work of a band on its last legs — though rather than grinding to a halt, Iggy & the Stooges appeared ready to explode like an ammunition dump. From a technical standpoint, Williamson was a more gifted guitar player than Asheton (not that that was ever the point), but his sheets of metallic fuzz were still more basic (and punishing) than what anyone was used to in 1973, while Ron Asheton played his bass like a weapon of revenge, and his brother Scott Asheton remained a powerhouse behind the drums. But the most remarkable change came from the singer; Raw Power revealed Iggy as a howling, smirking, lunatic genius. Whether quietly brooding (“Gimme Danger”) or inviting the apocalypse (“Search and Destroy”), Iggy had never sounded quite so focused as he did here, and his lyrics displayed an intensity that was more than a bit disquieting. In many ways, almost all Raw Power has in common with the two Stooges albums that preceded it is its primal sound, but while the Stooges once sounded like the wildest (and weirdest) gang in town, Raw Power found them heavily armed and ready to destroy the world — that is, if they didn’t destroy themselves first. [After its release, Iggy was known to complain that David Bowie's mix neutered the ferocity of the original recordings. In time it became conventional wisdom that Bowie's mix spoiled a potential masterpiece, so much so that in 1997, when Columbia made plans to issue a new edition of Raw Power, they brought in Pop to remix the original tapes and (at least in theory) give us the "real" version we'd been denied all these years. Then the world heard Pop's painfully harsh and distorted version of Raw Power, and suddenly Bowie's tamer but more dynamic mix didn't sound so bad, after all. In 2010, the saga came full-circle when Columbia released a two-disc "Legacy Edition" of the album that featured Bowie's original mix in remastered form]

Track Listing:

Search And Destroy 3:26
Gimme Danger 3:28
Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell (Originally Titled “Hard To Beat”) 4:52
Penetration 3:35
Raw Power 4:22
I Need Somebody 4:50
Shake Appeal 3:00
Death Trip 5:53

Buy from Amazon

Listen on Spotify – Iggy Pop Mix

Listen on Spotify – Legacy Edition

Album of the Day: Richard Berry, Have “Louie” Will Travel (2004, Ace Records)



Richard Berry, Have “Louie” Will Travel: The 1956-62 Recordings (2004, Ace Records)

Allmusic (4.5/5): AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger

Although Richard Berry had long been recognized as an important secondary pioneer of ’50s rock & roll/R&B in general, and as the originator of “Louie Louie” in particular, his best and most influential material was out of print for decades. This 30-track compilation totally rectifies the situation, with both sides of all eight of his 1956-1960 Flip singles, as well as an almost equal number of early-’60s recordings for various labels, some previously unissued. The Flip sides in particular represent his most important work, if for no other reason than they include his original (and not often reissued) 1957 single version of “Louie Louie,” the regional rock & roll hit that eventually became one of the most covered songs of all time. Otherwise, the Flip stuff shows him to be something of an R&B-rock jack of all trades, including doo wop ballads, uptempo Los Angeles R&B in the midst of transition to rock & roll, and novelty-tinged numbers that sound a little like some of the Coasters’ early work. The quality on the Flip tracks is variable, and frankly not strong enough to qualify him as a major rock & roll artist, ranging from the ordinary and generic to the outstanding. In the outstanding category are “Louie Louie,” the call-and-response vocal number “Sweet Sugar You” (where the Coasters connection sounds the strongest), a fun rock & roll version of “Besame Mucho” (also covered by the Coasters, lest we forget), and “Have Love Will Travel,” his best song other than “Louie Louie.” The early-’60s cuts were produced by another L.A. jack of all trades, Gary Paxton, and while some of them are good, they seem to have a bit of a slapdash try-anything-and-see-what-sticks mentality. Some of them are very much in Berry’s ’50s style; others are clearly trying to mimic the R&B-pop crossover of Brook Benton; and “Everybody’s Got a Lover But Me” is a dead-on imitation of early, Latin-tempoed Impressions hits like “Gypsy Woman” that’s enjoyable but quite derivative. It’s an inconsistent compilation, then, but it’s a worthwhile plug in the gap of Berry’s discography, his complicated saga clarified by the outstanding, thorough liner notes.

Track Listing:

1 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The  Louie Louie 2:13
2 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The No Kissin’ And A-Huggin’ 2:34
3 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The You’re The Girl 2:17
4 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The Rock, Rock, Rock (This Dance Is Crazy) 1:42
5 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The I’ll Never Ever Love Again 2:11
6 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The Sweet Sugar You 2:46
7 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The Somewhere There’s A Rainbow 2:04
8 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The (3) You Look So Good 2:17
9 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The (3) Take The Key And Open Up My Heart 1:53
10 Richard Berry & Lockettes, The Heaven On Wheels 2:04
11 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The You Are My Sunshine 2:34
12 Richard Berry & Lockettes, The The Mess Around 2:34
13 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The  Besame Mucho 2:10
14 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The Do I, Do I, Do I 2:13
15 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The Have Love Will Travel 2:54
16 Richard Berry & Pharaohs, The No Room 3:13
17 Richard Berry In A Real Big Way 2:14
18 Richard Berry Well Done 2:29
19 Richard Berry I Want You To Be My Girl 3:17
20 Richard Berry It’s All Right 2:32
21 Richard Berry Weep No More 3:11
22 Richard Berry Everybody’s Got A Lover But Me 1:59
23 Richard Berry Tell Me Why 2:32
24 Richard Berry Dreams Of An Angel 3:22
25 Richard Berry Give It Up 2:35
26 Richard Berry I’m Your Fool 2:54
27 Richard Berry What Good Is A Heart 2:40
28 Richard Berry Empty Chair 2:30
29 Richard Berry I’m Learning 2:07
30 Richard Berry Walk Right In 3:04

Buy from Ace Records (UK)

Buy from Amazon

Listen on Spotify