Friday, 15 December 2017

How Many Times?

If you can’t achieve immortality through song lyrics as deep and meaningful and insightful and poignant and timeless as Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind, then you should at least get a Nobel Prize for it.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

It Ain’t Nothin’ New

Killer songs, rock solid performance, great production, and – for my money – the best slide guitar going.

But what really sets Bonnie Raitt’s music apart is that it’s sexy.  Have a listen to Love Sneakin’ Up On You.  Bonnie’s music is overflowing with slow-grinding, hip-swaying, trance-inducing grooves.

Your whole world is shakin’.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Won’t You Give Me A Second Chance?

It was, for a time, fashionable to disparage the music of the 80’s. 

While in some cases - even at the time - I have been (and remain) in agreement, a quick listen to Bonnie Raitt’s version of Baby Come Back is a perfect example of the happy fact that this was not a universal problem.

Thursday, 16 November 2017


Some of my favourite music is by people who are doing The Stones - and maybe making a better job of it.  There’s been a lot of it about over the years, so I know it’s not just me who thinks they’re a pretty good band.

I mean, if being copied by dozens of successful bands over 5 decades isn’t influential, then what is?

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Come On You Painter, You Piper, You Prisoner

So    actually     underneath it all  ..  Shine On You Crazy Diamond is a blues song.

Only took me 4 decades or so to see that.  Guess I’m a slow learner.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Long Time Gone

Since no one seems to be writing protest songs anymore, why don't we just have another listen to this?

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Armed With Will And Determination

Canadians are a funny bunch.   We’re too busy looking over our shoulder to be able to wave the flag.  Our anxiety over what we might (or might not) be often blocks our pride in who we are.

But boy, when we grab something and decide it’s Canadian, we do not let go.  Musically, the best example is The Tragically Hip.  Whatever it means to be a Canadian, this band was it – and we knew it.

Who cares if The Hip were never huge outside Canada?  They were ours, dammit.  They sang songs about us, and we sang ‘em right back.

We may be grieving for the loss of Gord Downie, but their gift to Canada will endure forever, because they have given us another undeniable marker in our national identity.  The Tragically Hip were as Canadian as a hockey stick.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Say It Again Y’all

If you’re going to be remembered for only one song, Edwin Starr’s War is a pretty good one.

What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Hello Old Friend, Goodbye Old Friend

More than anyone else, Tom Petty had the ability to repackage all the music I love and play it back as something brand new.

While unique and original, each song arrived like an old friend you had somehow forgotten about.  Simple yet profound, each song delivered a straight up truth:  this is me; this is us; this is rock and roll.

Tom Petty gave us 40 years of honesty, hope, joy and comfort.

Goodbye old friend.  And thank you.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Seems I Can’t Shed No More

Take a song by Joe Bonamassa, say Black Lung Heartache.  If he had been born in the 40’s, Joe would be ranked among the guitar legends of the 60’s and 70’s.

Monday, 4 September 2017

The Time That Was So Hard To Find

They never got a mention in Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, but I’m pretty sure John, Paul, George and Ringo were all Funk Brothers.

Just have a listen to You Won’t See Me.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Can This Really Be The End?

To be Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again.  By heavens, but Dylan wrote some damn fine songs.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Does Anybody Hear?

I know If A Tree Falls by Bruce Cockburn is a little intense, but it’s good.  Okay, it’s a lot intense, but it’s really good.

Friday, 21 July 2017

I Have My Freedom But I Don’t Have Much Time

Note to all you girls who drove me crazy in my final year of high school by playing Wild Horses on the cafeteria juke box every single day:  OK, you were right.  It’s a darn good song.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Listing, Listing …

I’ve recently been wondering why I don’t write as much about acoustic guitarists as their plugged-in friends, because the music I listen to probably contains as many acoustic guitars as electric.

Maybe it’s the wow factor of the electric guitar.  I dunno.

I don’t even have a Top Ten list.  Maybe it’s just too hard.

I mean, where do you start?  You could fill the list with the influential blues cats like Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Son House or John Lee Hooker.  You could fill it with acoustic specialists like James Taylor, Bruce Cockburn, Cat Stevens, Harry Manx, Paul Simon or Donovan.  You could easily fill it with players who also play a mean electric guitar, like Clapton, Page, Knopfler, Bonamassa, Neil Young or Colin James.

Hmmm.  Plenty of wow factor in all those names.

I guess there’s the “defined the instrument/broke new ground” thing that gets applied to musicians on other instruments.  In that case, I suppose my list would be: Leadbelly, Johnson, Broonzy, Taylor, Simon, Donovan, Stevens, Cockburn, Young and Page.

But then I’d be omitting artist I listen to – and wonder, “how did he/she do that?” – a lot.  People like Clapton, Harry Manx, Arlo Guthrie and Bonnie Raitt.

To hell with lists.  I revere all the guitarists mentioned – them, and a lot more.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Like An Overheard Remark

Have a listen to the hauntingly beautiful bit of melancholia called In The Falling Dark, by Bruce Cockburn.

There’s not much else to say, is there?

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

So Downhearted Sometimes

If Bruce Springsteen had done (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding instead of Elvis Costello (or Nick Lowe) it, it would be as big as Born To Run or Born In The USA in the catalog of best rock songs of all time. 

So the question is: why isn't it?

Friday, 2 June 2017

Lost and Flying Down The Road

Have your favourite cocktail, enjoy your favourite meal and bottle of wine (if that's your pleasure), smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em, savour your favourite after dinner drink.  Listen to Hellbound Train by Savoy Brown.

You could listen all night long, right?

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The 2nd Time Around

Some bands grab you right away, and never let go.  The Beatles, say.

Others are hard to ignore but take a little longer for you to appreciate.  For me, bands like CCR and The Band fall into that category.  They were there, in your face, all the time.  I just took a long time for me to realize how much I dug them.

Other bands, though, barley registered in my consciousness, and they sort of slipped on by while I was busy enjoying the music I was already committed to.  After all, you can only buy so much music, right?  Remember buying?

Anyway, every once in a while, I go back and explore bands that I had been vaguely aware of, but never really paid attention to.  Often, the rewards have been richly rewarding.

These days, I’m just as likely to put on Savoy Brown as Led Zeppelin.  And when I do, I always ask myself how did I miss these guys the first time around?  Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth and Status Quo are other bands I really enjoy now but more or less ignored until they were all but gone from the scene.

Your list will differ, but exploration definitely has its rewards.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Well, You Know

Yes, it’s a political song, but when I hear John screaming “alright!” at the end of Revolution, I hear him saying: we already showed you we could do everything else.  Did you think we couldn’t handle hard rock?  We’re still punks, you know.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Ain’t Got Nothin’ In The World These Days

Listening to Young Man Blues from Live At Leeds, I am reminded that Pete Townshend is one hell of a good guitar player.

If you want to enjoy some of the mayhem instead of staring at a still, The Who’s performance at The Isle of Wight ain’t too shabby either.

ps – yes, John Entwistle had the skeleton suit before Flea.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Now That I’ve Made It Don’t Want To Fade It

Man, can you ever get lost in Status Quo’s 4500 Times.

You're enjoying the groove, and suddenly you realize it's changed but it's still the same song - then it happens again- and again after that …  over and over again, and each change is seamless.

What a tight band, Status Quo was.

Monday, 17 April 2017

The First Cut Is The Deepest

When you’re huge, you’re huge, and after you’ve been around a while, your entire body of work tends to morph into one, uh, huge, thing.

So it begs the question, who would we still view – years later - as huge if they had stopped after only one album?  Hendrix, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Cars, Buddy Holly  

After that, I dunno.  Adele?  The Band?  The Byrds?  Crosby Stills and Nash?  Dire Straits?  Eagles?  Elvis?  Jeff Beck?  Steely Dan?  Maybe.

There are a lot of names from the rock pantheon missing, a lot of acts that took a couple or three albums to really establish a place in music history.  The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, U2, Pink Floyd, Chuck Berry, AC/DC …

Maybe we’d remember them all, but more as flashes in the pan than big influencers.  But not many artists nailed it the first time out.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

I Can’t Explain

And it took me a pretty long time, but I finally figured out that, before Led Zeppelin came along, the second best band in the world was The Who.

Why do I keep forgetting that?

Thursday, 30 March 2017

How Many More Times

Sometimes I hear a voice saying, "It's okay to go on about the other guys, but why don't you just admit your second favourite band is Led Zeppelin?"

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll!

He might not have invented Rock n Roll, but he defined it.  Everything that’s come after has been built on his foundation.

But don’t read me.  Read Gibson’s lovely tribute to Chuck Berry.  As the article says, “most influential musician ever?  Just ask a Beatle.”

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Getting Better

Part II of my rebuttal to Professor Armand Leroi’s preposterous assertion that The Beatles had virtually no influence on pop music.

Chuck Berry, Elvis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, the Everlys - played by punks, punks who grew up listening to show tunes, folk songs, sing-alongs, music hall numbers, cowboy movies, and Granny’s weekly performance at the pub.

By the time they had emerged from Hamburg and those 6 hour sets, The Beatles had developed their own unique sound, a sound which incorporated that early rockabilly, 50’s R&B, and yes, their childhood influences.  They had become adept at absorbing other styles and transforming them into their own brand of rock and roll.

Then there was soul music, and the pixie dust of Motown, which had, in its own way, done the same thing.

Dylan, folk-rock, classical, Eastern, psychedelic, singer/songwriter, hard rock, each one studied, re-imagined and grafted on to that ever-expanding base.  Each new experiment set someone else off on another new idea, which looped right back to The Beatles for them to start all over again.  Getting so much better all the time.

There is no scientific way to explain the influence of The Beatles, because it magic.

Friday, 3 March 2017

You Can’t Do That

So, Armand Leroi, a professor at Imperial College London, has concluded that The Beatles had virtually no influence on pop music, having had computers analyze hits from 1960 through 2010.

To which I would say this:  At every step of their career, The Beatles absorbed the music around them, assimilating each style, giving it new life from the raw force of pure rock and roll. Each addition created new opportunities for other artists, which The Beatles then heard and absorbed in turn. And on and on it went.  That’s what you call music evolution.

Computer analysis is irrelevant.  The record shows that all the major artists over that half century have acknowledged the influence The Beatles had on them, and The Beatles freely and frequently acknowledged who they were listening to and learning from.

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Friday, 24 February 2017

I Wonder What You People Do With Your Lives

Listen to Forever  by The Charlatans.  How did these guys not become huge?

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Scared To Run Out Of Time

Have a listen to Bonnie Raitt’s Nick Of Time.

Now that’s a Grammy performance.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

But I’ve Never Seen It Freeze

Down In The Hole is proof that James Taylor would be a great singer in any genre he chose.  It’s a masterpiece from a masterful artist.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Feed The World

The thing about Live Aid - apart from the awesome performances (okay, not all of it aged well, but some of the performances are immortal) - was: after your hope being dormant for a while, you believed that music might change the world after all.

Oh well …

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Just Like The Time Before And The Time Before That

I got three things to say about Bob Dylan’s Hurricane:

1)    I don’t know much about Scarlet Rivera’s work other than what she did with Dylan, but she must have been a Beatles fan.  The violin solos are like Beatles backward guitar tracks from Revolver.
2)    Dylan's Nobel Prize is right there in this song.  The horror, the outrage, the compassion at the stupidity of ignorance and hate over love – summing up the human condition in one spellbinding song.
3)    Who says Dylan can't sing?

Friday, 20 January 2017

Do You Believe In Magic

It used to be when you bought a new album and put it on, you expected to be astonished.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Does The Message Get To You?

Tarzan Boy by Baltimora might represent everything that  - for some – was detestable about the 80’s.  Sorry, but I love it.