Saturday, June 30, 2007

My Two Latest Purchases

Sometimes, you hear songs that you just grasp onto and can't let them go. When I was working at KY102 in the early eighties, this record came out. The first song released was "Tell Me What You Want" and I loved it. It was a welcome relief from the Flock of Seagulls, Modern English junk that was polluting our airwaves at the time, just good old straight ahead rock and roll done melodically and with great harmonies. I would cheat on the format (sorry, Max) to play this song just about every night. I then got the record, the rest of the stuff was pretty mediocre with the exception of "Who's Behing The Door?", the very last song on side one. I thought these guys were going to be big. Alas, only one other song made much of a dent back in those new wave days and that was "Bears" from their third CD. These two songs from this album still hold up today and when I was at The Rock, I had a chance to see them on tour at Pops. They were great and very nice guys, too. I don't know what happened to this CD from my collection, but I am glad it's back.It's kinda hard to describe how much I have listened to Dave Mason in my life. I guess I am not alone, because back in the day, he jammed with Clapton, Hendrix (that's him playing the acoustic guitar on "All Along The Watchtower"), George Harrison, Steve Winwood (he was a charter member of Traffic at 18) Delaney and Bonnie, etc. etc. He was one of the few guys that would come through Davenport on a regular basis and bring his bad ass band. I picked this up yesterday and literally can't get it out of my CD player. He performed at the one year anniversary of XM in 2003, and has never sounded better. All the hits are here and some tasty stuff, too including his duet with the late Jim Capaldi on "40,000 Headmen". When I had a chance to interview him at KSHE in 1985, I thought I was going to throw up, I was so nervous. This guy is one of my top ten artists of all time. This is an awesome release.
I was going to list my top five Dave Mason songs, then my top ten, but I found out I couldn't do it. So, here are my top five Dave Mason albums:

Number five: "Headkeeper"

Released: February 1972

Chart Peak: #51

Weeks Charted: 14

Tommy Li Puma, Dave Mason's coproducer at Blue Thumb, has notified by mail various radio stations and record distributors across the country to go ahead and promote Headkeeper, in spite of the fact that Mason has brought a lawsuit against the label. For those of you who do not boycott the album, Headkeeper has plenty of moments to justify your purchase, and yet leaves you feeling that it is an incomplete, unfinished album.
Each of all the five songs on side two is a live recording of material Mason had recorded elsewhere. "Pearly Queen," a song that here is attributed to Mason and on the Traffic album is credited to Winwood and Capaldi, got itself a better treatment the first time around, simply because Winwood's vocal was funkier, grittier, more edged with irony. The song itself has enough propulsion in it that it doesn't need the extra added bit of soul that Winwood gives it, but then why not? Mason's interpretation here of "Feelin' Alright" is different from the one he delivered on Traffic. Then he sang with a whimpering, quaveringly insecure voice which, when joining the chorus, instantly picked up sarcastic strength. The change was always sudden and dramatic as Clark Kent leaping out of a broom closet dressed as Superman. In the present version, latin jazz rhythms open the song and right from the beginning all the way through, Mason sings with extroversion and authority. Now he even takes a supposedly humbled line like "Well, boy, you sure took me for one big ride," and turns it inside out to read like a gorgeous put-down. Whatever Chris Wood offered in the way of bluesy saxophone on the first version, Mark Jordan matches well with his jazz electric piano on this.
The other three songs on this side are all originally from Mason's Alone Together. In each case judgements of quality will have to be simply a matter of taster's choice. Between the two "World In Changes," I prefer the studio recording if for no other reason than the way Mason stutters one phrase, making it come out "I-I can't pretend." On the Alone Together's "Just A Song," you got a banjo and back-up chorus; here you get a jaunty organ and a barely audible but spontaneous laugh from Mason on the line "You're all I've ever done." In the two versions of "Can't Stop Worrying" you'll find two of the finest vocals Mason's ever recorded. To my mind the first version has the edge because I've grown in love with the expressive and pristine electric guitar lead, but there are those who'll find even more purity in the sound of Mason performing alone with just his acoustic.
The piano is the instrument which dominates and gives body and flavor to the best of the songs on the first side, all done in the studio. Pretty but a little tense, the ivories in a high register open the first one, "To Be Free," and are soon followed by the words from Mason's voice, which has been produced to stand up-front with all its natural texture left out in the open. When Mason signals "whoa yeah," the drums, bass, and Delaney & Bonnie-type chorus break in, Mark Jordon bounces his fingers down the keyboard faster than a Bruin dribbling downcourt for a basket, and Mason accentuates everything with a "come on, come on" here and a "woooo-hoooo" there. When the song closes though, it has not really resolved itself of the energy it set in motion, and you're left feeling a bit cheated.
The two most confusing songs on the album are "Here We Go Again," and the title track, "Headkeeper." "Here We Go Again" is the case of a song whose lyrics contradict everything that the music expresses, and vice versa. Standing on their own, the lyrics are Mason's bleakest: "After you've gone I'll die some/ After you've gone I'll feel blue.../ Night-time appears like a hole in the sky/ Follow me down to my room." Mason has set these lyrics to one of his most childlike melodies, and given it all a music-box sound. Having only the tone of the rest of the album to go on, I would guess that Mason is making fun of the high seriousness expressed by the words, rather than using the words to point out an idiot optimism in the music.
"Headkeeper" has its own sinister opening that lies somewhere between the opening of "40,000 Headmen" on Traffic, and Valerie Simpson's "Sinner Man." There's a "Magical Mystery Tour" piano break, a wailing banshee guitar, and one section in which the squeak of the organ completes an idea from the guitar, somewhat like when "Love Child," the Supremes would whisper "scorned by--" and Diana Ross would fill in loudly "Society."
"A Heartache, A Shadow, A Lifetime" is the song which never went anywhere when released as a single a few months ago. That's a shame, because it really is a gorgeous number. The piano part shines with a unique humanity and brilliance, modestly keeping silent until its turn, then bursting into life.
Maybe if Headkeeper had had two sides of new material rather than just one, Mason as an artist to our view would have been standing less like "a mist upon the shore." He never has been an easy one to figure out, in his public life or in his music. With Headkeeper he by no means has painted his masterpiece, but instead has left us with some fine sketches and life studies.
Mark Jordan's electric piano works and Mason's electric guitar solos are very sharp on the half-studio half-live Headkeeper, and a version of Mason's Traffic classic "Feelin' Alright" cooks.

-Rolling Stone 1972

Number four:"Let It Flow"

Released April 1977

Chart Peak #37

Weeks on Chart 49

His biggest selling disc by far, although not his best. It's a fine collection of songs but you walk away with the feeling that Dave "doesn't rock anymore". All of the songs are very low key and his biggest song "We Just Disagree" (which, ironically enough, he didn't write) is included here. The best songs on this disc are "So High", "Mystic Traveller", "Seasons" (where Yvonne Elliman's lovely voice is wasted) and the title track. Don't get me wrong, it's a fine effort but Dave seems to go through the motions on this one, although it is a disc I have listened to a lot.

Number Three: "Alone Together"
Released July 1970

Chart Peak #22

Weeks on Chart 25

What were Steve Winwood and Chris Wood thinking? The scuttlebutt is that Dave Mason had to leave Traffic and go solo in order to get his music recorded (Traffic drummer and lifelong Mason friend Jim Capaldi did provide some support on 'Alone...'). And so what does he do? Nothing less than release one of the greatest rock albums of all time, 'Alone Together'. As the last song on the CD fades out, Mason plaintively intones "...listen to me...". One wonders if those few words were intended for the ears of his ex-bandmates. Following his triumph, Mason returned to Traffic (for his third stint) and contributed two 'Alone Together' songs to one of the finest live LP's ever produced, 1971's 'Live At the Canteen'. At least the other members of Traffic were willing to think twice...
'Alone Together' features 3 outstanding rock songs. Only one of these songs made it as a single on Billboard's Top 100, that being the opener, 'Only You Know and I Know', which peaked out at number 42 in 1970. It is surprising to me, however, that 'Waitin' On You' was not also released as a single. It feels more pop oriented, especially with the soulful backing singers, and has a more standard beat (guests on American Bandstand would agree). The closer on the album, 'Look At You Look At Me' dutifully rocks as well.
The remainder of the songs on the CD are plaintive odes to love. Especially appealing are 'Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave', featuring Mason on a wonderfully expressive wah-pedal guitar throughout, and 'Sad and Deep As You', which just sounds so sad and so deep you'll swear tears are going to short out your CD player. These two songs, in addition to the aforementioned rock numbers, form the core of elite songs on 'Alone Together', but don't undersell the supporting cast. 'Just a Song' and 'Can't Stop Worrying, Can't Stop Loving' continue the relationship-based theme, but on a brighter tempo. Whoever Mason was hooking up with at the time of these compositions touched off emotive spasms that resonate throughout the album. Authenticity jumps off the disc.
The 'weakest' song on the album, and I certainly use that term in a relative sense, is 'World In Changes', but this song remains a staple of Mason concerts, last appearing on his live CD recorded with Jim Capaldi in 1999. The only other weakness to this CD is the complete absence of any liner notes. You're going to be left in the dark regarding who is contributing to this masterpiece. Other sources on the Internet list such stellar performers as Delaney and Bonnie, Leon Russel, Jim Keltner, and Jim Gordon in the supporting cast. I hope it is only an oversight that MCA intends to correct, because each and every musician involved here deserves credit for their contributions, and it would be fascinating to have some historic details regarding the production of this set. I'd ask for lyrics, which should be as much a staple as the jewel case, but I don't want to knock any record company clowns (as Neil Young calls them) off their La-Z-Boys.
This is a gem that should be in the collection of every lover of classic rock and roll. It wasn't really pioneering in any respect... I don't believe it changed the way anyone looked at music... but it is the pinnacle of a fine songwriters songwriting career... Mason's Mona Lisa.

Number two: "Dave MasonReleased: November 1974

Chart Peak:# 25

Weeks on Chart 25

At this time, after hearing album number one, I was a full bore lifelong Dave Mason fan. His version of "All Along The Watchtower" absolutely blows all of them away, Jimi, Bob and whoever takes second place. This is one of the tightest bands on the planet with Jim Krueger on guitars, Mike Finnegan on keyboards and Dr. Rick Jaeger on drums. "Show Me Some Affection" is about as good as it gets with "Relation Ships" one of his best ever. Song for song, this may be the best Dave Mason album, but his redoing of "Every Woman" (a song that did not need to be redone, it was perfect the first time) knocks it down one notch. "Harmony and Melody" is tops but his rendition of "Bring It On Home To Me" is unesscessary.The 'Dave Mason' disc is unique in that it marks the beginning of the Jim Krueger era in Mason's career. Krueger became a fixture on Mason's works during the 1970's and 80's, occasionally penning a tune or vocals, and lending a great deal of exquisite guitar playing. Krueger may be a better guitarist than Mason in a technical sense, but Mason has a style and feel that is all his own, and it's missing on tracks such as 'Harmony & Melody' where Dave defers the lead to Krueger. If you have not been enlightened to Mr. Mason, this is probably the CD you should find.

Number one: "It's Like You Never Left"Released November 1973

Chart Peak #50

Weeks on Chart 28

Mason is a master of the soft, acoustic ballad, also highlighted on ''It's Like You Never Left'. 'Baby...Please' starts the CD with a great groove and featuring great harmony vocals from Graham Nash and David Crosby. The short version of 'Every Woman' ( featuring Graham Nash on back up vocals), a song featuring an appealing George Harrison-like slide guitar sound ('If You've Got Love'). The closer from this album (the jazz-fusion title track) features Dave at his best 'Headkeeper' again features Graham Nash and some decent lead guitar chops from Mason, and 'The Lonely One' simmers like an offspring of 'Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave', and features a unique harmonica from Stevie Wonder, an instrument not often heard on Dave Mason recordings. Many of the remaining tracks, including 'Maybe', 'Silent Partner', blend into the soft-rock sonic landscape, and offer distinction lyrically. At times the lyrics are simply confusing, such as on 'Silent Partner' where we are confronted with "Paranoia is the voyeur", or simply empty, such as on 'Misty Morning Stranger' when Mason admits, "It's hard to explain what I'm feeling". 'Misty Morning Stranger' offers the diversion of a brassy foundation and electric guitar finish, while 'Side Tracked' is unique as a bluesy electric jam, The entirety of 'It's Like You Never Left' was penned by Mason. This CD was out at a time when I needed it more than any other piece of music that I can recall. The original was a little muddy but this disc and "Dave Mason" are now available in a two for one package and his been lovingly remastered to sound awesome.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

When Dad Is A Graphic Designer

We all know that Moms love to dress up their kids. But when Dad is a graphic designer, anything is possible.. It all started out with the innocent baby picture below.....

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Who Is This Man?

A) German Ambassador to the United States?
B) Former rock and roll star?
C) Spokane, Washington serial killer?
D) Announced Presidential candidate in 08?
E) CEO of Haliburton?

So, who is he?

Thanks, Beth.

Raley's Lifetime Achievement Award

Sometimes in life you find a gem. A piece of music that no matter how long you live, what kind of times you go through, the album (CD for you kids) comes shining through and fills your heart like an old time friend. This release has done this for me. I first discovered "Streetlights" in 1978. I had heard of Bonnie Raitt but at the time, never heard much of her music. When I was putting together a music library for an AM station that I was programming, I found this beauty playing on the stereo in a record shop. I was immediately hooked and she has remained a favorite of mine for years. I was so pleased at her comeback in 1991 and thought "Nick of Time" was a fine recording. But this one, this one has a permanent place in the Raley Album Hall of Fame.

1. That Song About The Midway ( a Joni Mitchell song done better here)
2. Rainy Day Man (James Taylor tune from his very first LP on Apple records)
3. Angel From Montgomery (John Prine says THIS is the best version ever of his song)
4. I Got Plenty (sweet sweet tune, maybe the best on the album)
5. Streetlights (written by Billy Payne of Little Feat her beau at the time)
6. What Is Success (Alan Toussaint's finest stuff)
7. Ain't Nobody Home (living well is the best revenge, you go, girl)
8. Everything That Touches You (written by conductor/composer Micheal Kamen smooth stuff)
9. Got You On My Mind (this is my favorite song on here, my favorite Bonnie song ever)
10. You Got To Be Ready For Love (If You Wanna Be Mine) (nice ending, babe)

I first heard Bonnie doing a song called "Guilty" and it ripped my heart out of my chest. Thank you Bonnie for almost 30 years of awesome music in my life. This is definately a Charter Member of the Randy Raley all time album Hall of Fame.

Here's a synopsis of her career:

Bonnie Raitt - one of the most critically admired yet commercially ignored white R&B singers in the history of popular music, Bonnie Raitt only achieved the success and respect she had so obviously deserved with her tenth album, almost 20 years after her recording debut. The daugher of Broadway star John Raitt (of Carousel and The Pajama Game fame), Bonnie Raitt (born 1949) was first captivated by the blues and began learning guitar at the age of 12.After dropping out of college in 1969, she began playing on the US folk and blues circuit, turning heads due to her ability - almost unique in a white female - to play credible bottleneck guitar. She became friendly with many of the surviving blues legends, including Howlin' Wolf, Mississippi Fred McDowell and particularly Sippie Wallace, with whom she later recorded. fter paying her dues in clubs, she signed with a major record label in 1971,when she released her eponymous debut album which included both contemporary songs by Stephen Stills and Paul Siebel and a number of blues covers, plus two selfpenned originals. Backed largely by R&B musicians who normally worked with producer Willie Murphy, Raitt was somewhat sold short by the album. as became clear with the release of 1972's greatly improved "Give it up" album, which made the US chart and featured mainly white rock players and superb songs written by under-appreciated songwriters like Eric Kaz and Jackson Browne, plus three originals and several R&B covers. She went on to release seven more albums ("Takin' my Time" (1973),"Streetlights" (1974), "Home Plate" (1975), "Sweet Forgiveness" (1977), "The Glow" (1979), "Green Light"(1982) and "Nine Lives" ( 1986) . 1989's "Nick of Time" found Raitt on a different record label after 18 years with one company, and with production by Don Was, Raitt finally found herself receiving the commercial rewards (and Grammy Awards) her mainly excellent body of work had always deserved.1990 saw her winning another Grammy awards for her work on John Lee Hooker's "The Healer" album, which was to some extent a return to the roots for two truly great artists from different generations. Chart positions are largely irrelavantin Bonnie Raitt's case, but anyone who enjoys great music is missing something should they decide to ignore this supremely tasteful andutterly sincere artist.

The 16 Ugliest Men in Rock and Roll

What? No Keith Richards? No Rod Stewart? View this list at your own peril.

What the Hell is The Deal?

It seems to me lately that the news has been full of men killing thier families. First off, the guy from St. Charles who is accused of killing his wife and kids along the intertstate right outside of Chicago. Did he really believe someone would fall for a bullshit story like that? His wife and THREE kids were(allegedly) slaughtered by this guy, he's the only one who doesn't get killed and he thinks this is believable?What kind of satanic asshole would kill his wife and kids? What have we become? The next story is about the beautiful young woman in Ohio and her unborn child who was killed by her boyfriend who, by the way, hadn't divorced his wife? Did he expect to get away with this? What kind of monster would do that? Help me here. According to the pictures, a young beautiful woman. Then, the story of the wrestler who calmly strangled his wife, waited a day or so, smothered his son and then hung himself. What the hell is happening? Is this some part of an alien conspiracy or have we become so heartless, callous and cruel? I could never even imagine. Please say a prayer for the human race, because in case you haven't figured it all out, Satan is all around us. Heaven help us all.

Monday, June 25, 2007

God, the Painter, Volume Three

Awe inspiring. Thanks, God.

The Dark Knight Preview

This is the "BatPod" from the new movie "The Dark Knight". As a kid, Batman ruled and he was not a nice guy at all. "The Dark Knight" will delve into his obsession with the dark side and his troubled and troubling personality. After all, Bruce Wayne witnessed the murder of his parents when he was a young man. I can't wait for this, I think this may be the best "Batman" movie ever. It will not be a happy, feel good movie. The comic book of the Dark Knight was a chilling affair. This will be the ONE movie I will see this year.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Brush With Greatness 13

Alice Cooper, Summer 1980 (everyone had a cowboy hat then, SHADDUP!). We were in a broadcast booth at Summerjam in Arrowhaed Stadium. It was h-o-t. This is right after he quit drinking (I know how hard that can be). He was one of my idols back then and the hand in the picture belongs to Bob Garrett, probably the best General Manager I ever worked under. I found him to be humorous and very cool. It's a Poloroid shot, so not the greatest quality. I met up with him many years later on the golf course and...he cheats! I think the trio of "Love It To Death","Killer"and "Billion Dollar Babies" is about the best there ever was. I lost interest after that.

Backstage Pass Number Nine

A little worn and tattered but a cool one, huh? See, I used to be somebody. This was an awesome show, the guys never sounded better and two of the three were gentlemen. I'll let you guess which one wasn't.

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