Friday, 30 December 2016

Rubber Soul

Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins …  Yes.  Got it.  But without Motown, would we even have the Beatles?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

I Can Turn The Gray Sky Blue

With all due repsect to The Temptations, I just love Savoy Brown’s version of I Can’t Get Next To You.  Kim Simmonds’ guitar work is fantastic.

Friday, 9 December 2016

One Summer Day

For me, Cream’s version of I’m Sitting On Top Of The World was that moment when I said, "Yeah, alright.  I get it.  The Blues."

Cream gave me Muddy, and Hooker, Robert Johnson, and B.B., and Son House, and Keb’ Mo’, and Bonnie Raitt.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Two Hearts

It's a pity that Paul McCartney and Phil Collins didn't become close friends.  The music would have been fantastic.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Somebody Holds The Key

Eric Clapton was the face of blues rock for more than a generation.  Steve Winwood stood tall within the pantheon of prog rock immortals.

Yet they gave us
Can’t Find My Way Home, a haunting, rapturous, achingly beautiful folk song.

Good work, fellas.

ps – yes, I’ve written about this song before.  It’s just that kinda song, ya know?

Thursday, 17 November 2016

You Need Not Look Too Far

Probably not too many people remember Hot Smoke and Sassafras by Bubble Puppy, but I do.  And it’s great.

Thursday, 10 November 2016


My favourite song of all time is the last one I heard John Lennon sing.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Mission Impossible

Udiscovermusic doesnt apologize for giving you an alphabetical instead of a ranked listing of The 100 Greatest Blues Albums, saying that would be nigh on impossible, and I dont blame them.

I dont pretend to be on intimate terms with every album or artist on the list, but Ive heard enough of them to believe everyone that should be there is there.  And I sure wouldnt want to rank em.

The inclusion of so many white folks especially from the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean may rankle a few blues purists, but not me.  In terms of respect for the music, not to mention influence, they belong.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Sunshine Came Softly

The other night, I had the pleasure of attending a Donovan concert in Toronto.

His voice isnt what it used to be, but hes such a good storyteller, and his songs practically sing themselves anyway, so it was all good.

What was especially heartwarming is that not everyone in the audience had white hair.  I was amazed at how many people under 30 were there and they werent casual listeners.  They knew him.  They were fans.

Donovan himself described his musics timeless appeal as hopeful melancholy.  He confronts that madness of our species, and shares his sadness at our willful self-destructiveness, but he celebrates the wonders of the world around us with an enduring spirit of hopefulness.

He is the hurdy gurdy man, singing songs of love.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Admit That The Waters Around You Have Grown

Well!   Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for literature, and I think thats very cool.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

But My Mother Didn’t Know

Guitar duos are still the thing, man.  Aint nothing better than to listen to two cats play off one another:  John and George, Hammett and Hetfield, Allman and Betts, Trucks and Haynes, Ronnie and Keef, Jimmy Page and himself

But go way back to 1959, and have a listen to John Lee Hooker and (I think*) Eddie Taylor jam their way through Im In The Mood.


* I know there are multiple versions of this track.  Theyre all terrific, but hopefully Im referencing the right one.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

I May Make You Feel, But I Can’t Make You Think

Prog Rock is an interesting genre.  Sometimes a band (or song) can blow you away with its imagination and musicianship.  Sometimes a band (or song) can leave you feeling, What are they trying to prove?

And reactions tend to be both extreme, and extremely personal.  One persons Man, this is so good, can be anothers How can you even listen to that?

My favourite bit of self-indulgent showing off is Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull.  You may agree, laugh uproariously, or hurl as you see fit, but for me its an amazing tour de force, as complex as any classical symphony or opera.

The transitions from section to section (and there are a lot of them) are seamless.  The intricacy of the arrangement is impressive.  And the tightness of the band is second to none.

Perhaps whats most impressive, though, is that those cats played the entire piece live (I saw them do so in 1973), and they were just as tight as the record.

Love it or hate it, the one thing prog rock will do is impress you with the skill of the musicians.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

All I Have To Do Is To Be Happy

Well, he wasnt Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan, but it should be no surprise that George Harrison continued to show his superior guitar skills after The Beatles went bust, as illustrated in Guitar Worlds George Harrisons 10 Greatest Guitar Moments After The Beatles.

Its little wonder that the cat who gave us the 12 String guitar solo and the sitar should have invented his own style of slide guitar, or that he could hold his own on a blues song.

But session guitarist for Belinda Carlisle?  Now that was a surprise.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Oh What A Feeling

One of the ways I celebrate Canada Day each July 1 is to put on my CanCon (Canadian Content) playlist, which includes my favourite Canadian rock, folk and blues tunes and is, by the way, quite lengthy.

Damn, but we do make some good music here.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Wait A Minute, Something’s Wrong Here

Im grateful for all his other music and all, but when I hear songs like Red House, I cant help thinking:  Man, I wish Hendrix played more blues.

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

Fascinating article in the NY Times a while ago called, Which Rock Star Will Historians Of The Future Remember?

Note the singular Rock Star.  The authors premise is that in 300 years, Rock will have been rendered down to a brief footnote represented by one person.  Given our human propensity for over-simplification, and our attraction to hero myths, this is completely plausible.

Having successfully established that premise, the article goes on to examine and eliminate most of the obvious candidates, arriving at Chuck Berry.

Thats a very good conclusion, eminently argued in the article.  But my money is on John Lennon.  Yes, as the article explains, he was part of the Beatles, and groups dont qualify for the hero myth.  But Lennon has all the attributes ascribed to Chuck Berry and then some.  He also has the advantage of being a martyr, and the past 35 years would suggest that his hero-martyr persona will ultimately relegate the other three Beatles to walk-on roles in the larger Lennon legend.

Its not a stretch. 
John Lennon took a passing American musical fad and, with his band, turned it into an international sensation, defining the music and the culture of the times.  He died tragically, but his influence lived on for generations. 

So says the as yet unwritten music history textbook.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Let It Ring For Evermore

One of Jeff Lynne’s signatures – as a songwriter, as a singer, and as a producer – is poignancy, his ability to match the melancholy with the sublime.

Have a listen to ELO’s Telephone Line.   I think it’s one the best examples: heartbreakingly sad but so beautiful it’s sweet.

Thanks, Jeff.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Every Single Day Of My Life

Have a listen to The Beatles Got To Get You Into My Life.

9 notes spread over 2 bars;  in 3 seconds George delivers a perfect guitar solo.

Friday, 27 May 2016

After Considerable Thought …

Here’s all I can say about Rolling Stone’s 14 Classic Albums That Flopped When They Were Released.

Yeah, well.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Different Shades of Blue

One of the things I really dig about Joe Bonamassa is he’s an all-in-one deal.  

Play one of his CD’s and by the time you’re done you’ve had your Cream fix, your Zeppelin fix, your Allman fix …  Buddy Guy, B.B., Gary Moore, Rory Gallagher, Mark Knopfler, Taj Mahal … Humble Pie, Savoy Brown – the list goes on and on.

With Joe, you get all the major food groups in one very tasty blues-rock stew.

Like all great musicians, Joe Bonamassa has his own voice.  But like all great musicians, he’s a superb student of what’s come before.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

So Many Roads

With apologies to the purists, here are the songs that helped me figure out that  The Blues was the thing:
·      Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
·      Led Zeppelin When The Levee Breaks
·      The Doors Riders On The Storm
·      Canned Heat On The Road Again
·      Cream Crossroads
·      Led Zeppelin Since Ive Been Loving You
·      Elvis Presley Heartbreak Hotel
·      Johnny Winter Highway 61 Revisited
·      The Beatles Come Together
·      Creedence Clearwater Revival Suzie-Q

Yeah, I know but we all get there by different roads.  For me, Main Street was called Beatles Avenue.  Take a right at Rock & Roll Drive, left on Psychedelic Boulevard, left again at Hard Rock Road, slip down a back alley and you find this cool juke joint where theyre all playing:  B.B., Muddy, Sonny Boy, Howlin’’ Wolf, Hooker   all of em.

Does the road matter if we reach the destination?

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Relax and Float Downstream

Heres some Socratic reasoning:  Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles is an R&B tune because it has a hypnotic, driving beat.  It is also a folk song because its carried by simple strumming on an acoustic guitar.  But its pretty heavy, so you could argue its a rock song.  Or compromise and call it folk rock. 

Then again its very trippy, so really its psychedelic rock or maybe even early prog rock, since it lifts from other genres and quotes strange modalities.

Or you could say its all of those things, which happens to nicely sum up The Beatles.  Now, if you can say a single song can represent the diverse canon of the best group of all time, then obviously that song is the best song of all time.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Nevermind the …

According to Rolling Stone, punk is now 40 years old, as celebrated in The 40 Greatest Punk Albums of All Time.

Sure, you could call the release of The Ramones a start.  Or you could go back to the 60s with MC5 or The Velvet Underground.  Or you could look at pictures of The Beatles in Hamburg and marvel that the same guys played on Ed Sullivan wearing suits.  Then theres Elvis, or Eddie Cohcrane, or

Lets face it:  Rock and Roll has an edge.  It has attitude.  It has barely contained and badly channeled rage some of it sexual, some of it social.  Its for kids who have energy and excitement but no power.

Sometimes that music is raw and unnerving.  Sometimes its subjected to more refined production.  But the edge is always there.

Personally, I prefer well-produced music, but that doesnt mean I dont get (or enjoy) it when I hear whats come to be called Punk.  So rock or punk on, people.