TOP Ten Albums of 2017

Another year has passed and it’s time, once again, for me to select my personal top ten albums of the year. 2017 was a tumultuous year, to say the least, and many artists reflected upon the social and political landscape. Others delved deeply into their own personal lives, struggles and life changes.  A few of my choices are from 40 year performers who never seem to get the recognition they deserve. I have included a few concept/storytelling albums. The artists I have chosen all took their music into a new direction and you could tell from listening they upped their game.

10. Robyn Hitchcock – Robyn Hitchcock (self-titled)

This kooky Brit has been around for 4 decades with his unique brand of quirky pop. This new one is no different, however I found it catchier than most of his previous works. At times, some of these songs could have fit alongside a John Lennon tune from The Beatles Revolver album. Then suddenly he switches genres and cranks out a twangy country diddy. Lyrically, it’s filled with humor, sarcasm and unapologetic schmaltz.

9.  The Residents – Ghost of Hope

The Residents is another 40 year band on my list. Most of their albums fall into the category of unlistenable, on purpose. There is no way to describe their musical genre, since it doesn’t really exist. Ghost of Hope is a concept album, like many of their others. This is a narrative of the perils of train travel in the 19th century. Part spoken word, part poetry, all from actual events and actual written encounters of train wrecks. All this imagery backed by sound effects, and eerie music that only the Residents can conjure up. This album is  disturbing and very difficult to engage. I would not recommend listening to this alone, or with people, unless you want them to leave.  However, for the sheer oddity, it’s on my list. There has never been an album like this, nor will there ever be again. At least not until the next Residents album. Proceed with caution.


8. Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors (self-titled)

Moving on to a more current band. Dirty Projectors have been around for a while but this album is more of a solo effort from band member Dave Longstreth. Former vocalist Amber Coffman turned out to be Longstreth’s former girlfriend. Therefore, this album chronicles their relationship from beginning to eventual end. The genre could only be described as  hipster/hip-hop/electronic fusion. Lyrically brilliant and an interesting listen. A creative effort and it grows on you with each listen.


7. Pere Ubu – 20 years in a Montana Missile Silo

Pere Ubu exploded onto the punk scene in the late 70’s with their own brand of garage/howl rock centered around the incoherent grunts and squeals of singer David Thomas. Many years have passed and the band dove into further weirdness and seemed to have abandoned their signature sound. This album is a return to form, with the older, yet still cantankerous Thomas spouting venom, backed by a raucous sound that I have missed. It’s weird , yet strangely addictive. Howl on David. Welcome back Pere Ubu. I couldn’t be happier to have you back.


6. Rhiannon Giddens – Freedom Highway

Rhiannon, former member of the bluegrass sensation Carolina Chocolate Drops, returns with her second solo effort. I loved her first one, but this one is even better. This time, she delves into a concept album of roots music that chronicles the African American songs of 200 years ago. It’s an inside look at the lives of slaves in early America. Unapologetic, powerful, focused on the day to day lives of the people at the time, without being preachy or condescending. Another brilliant album from a true artist. Her voice is angelic, the music sad, yet uplifting. An astounding record.

5. Willie Nelson – God’s Problem Child

Back to the veteran performers with the new release by the always brilliant Willie Nelson. Willie hasn’t sounded this good in years. The songs are as humorous as they are provocative. He addresses his mortality head on with a classic line “I woke up still not dead today, the internet said I passed away”. How can you not love this guy. The songs flow in and out with wonderfully crafted lyrics over sounds. A wonderful Sunday morning listen. I hope he lives forever. Great album.


4. Imelda May – Life Love Flesh Blood

Imelda May has abdicated her crown of new Rockabilly Queen to switch roles as a songstress. At first, I was angry, thinking who needs another Adele. At first listen, I was a bit disappointed but as I took a few more turns, it grew on me. This is a brilliant introspective album from one of the finest singers to come out of Ireland in a long time, maybe forever. The ballads are heart wrenching and the bluesy songs hit the mark hard. It’s honest, without being sappy. It’s strong but not over produced. I applaud her bravery to switch genres and risk getting thrown into the mix of pop stars. She achieves her goal eloquently and effortlessly, but you can tell she worked hard on this album. Her scars are on full display and I dig it. Her voice is amazing.


3. Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings – Soul of A Woman

We lost Sharon Jones to cancer in 2016. This is a collection of songs recorded over her last 2 years of life. She is in her best form and the Dap Kings are as strong as ever. Sharon Jones was one of the greatest soul singers in the company of Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin…yes that good…And she proves it once again on this brilliant album. The second half is ballad heavy and she addresses her inevitable end. I don’t want to call this a death album, but it’s pretty close. It’s hard to believe she is gone. A world without Sharon Jones and Amy Winehouse, in my opinion, is soulless.


2. Ray Davies – Americana

It’s no secret to everyone that knows me, I’m a Kinks fanatic. 5 decade veteran of rock music, and master storyteller, Ray Davies returns with his 3rd solo effort. This time, he revisits his early days of The Kinks, but not with the usual rock n roll, but with an American roots sound. Backed by alt-country indie darlings, the Jayhawks, Ray spins yarns about his vision of America as a young British pop star and discovering the truth behind it’s myth. It’s a beautiful record with catchy, sweet songs and the signature sardonic wit we have grown accustomed to from Ray. He paints a picture with each song, walking us through the beauty that is the American landscape, combined with it’s seedy corrupt underbelly. A journey from past to present brilliantly chronicled by a true journeyman. Ray never ceases to amaze me.


  1. Sparks – Hippopotamus

My pick for album of the year comes from another 4 decade band that consists of brothers Ron and Russel Mael. Sparks have released an album that encompasses the various styles of music they have experimented in over the past 40 years. The difference here is they seemed to have mastered every style on one singular album. The art pop songs are not overly pretentious. Some of it will remind you of the early 70’s Sparks you grew to love. Other parts hint at the disco stage of the 80’s. Humor in tact, they fire on all cylinders. Even if you aren’t familiar with the genius of Ron Mael’s lyrics and arrangements, you will find this album interesting and maybe even accessible. Songs will stick in your brain and you will find yourself singing them everywhere you go. This album put a huge grin on my face since I first heard it in September. I had it on repeat for weeks on end, put it away, then returned to it and found it even better. That is the mark of a great album, and that is why it is my number one this year.


Well. There you have it. My top ten for 2017. I bet NONE of these will be on most lists.

Comments welcomed.

Thanks for reading.


Top 10 Albums of 2016


Let’s start by saying, 2016 sucked. Everybody died and apparently, continue to do so.

However, among the rubble, there were some interesting albums released this year.

Here is my list of top 10 albums this year. You may be surprised at some of my selections.

There were many to choose from. I viewed some top lists of other music people. Mine is very different. I think I only saw a few that we shared and many I completely disagreed with.

OKAY, so here goes:

10. Cyndi Lauper – “Detour”

Yes, THAT Cyndi Lauper. When I heard Cyndi was releasing a country album, I winced. The last thing I needed to hear was another artist I respect get sucked into the country pop world in search for a hit on the country stations. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Cyndi went back to the real country music. You can feel the sawdust on the gymnasium floor in the middle of Tennessee. She covers Patsy Cline, Ray Price and many other classic country greats. Special guests offer subtle background vocals in this brilliantly produced album. I love it.

9. Elton John – “Wonderful Crazy Night”

Sir Elton returns with a full on upbeat album that’s probably his best in a very long time. Maybe even his best since Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but I may be pushing it. At any rate, it’s a delightful album with hooks galore, as only Elton can provide. a solid effort and glad to see he has something left in the tank. Welcome back!!

8. De La Soul – “and the The Anonymous Nobody”

Oh, I am sure you are surprised that I included a hip hop album on my list. I have recently discovered 90’s hip hop and I am quite enamored by it’s honesty. This new one from De la Soul is diverse, interesting, poignant and just a fun listen. Open your mind and check it out. Check out this funky jam (do the kids still say that?)

7. Nick Cave & The Bad Seed – “Skeleton Tree”

If you’re not familiar with Nick Cave, this new release might be a great place to start. Not that it’s commercially accessible, he never was. It’s one of those albums you don’t listen to . You feel it. So, I suggest you “feel it”. Excellent stuff, if you feel like getting down in the dark end of the musical spectrum.

6. Regina Spektor – “Remember Us To Life”

I think every album this woman releases ends up on my top 10 list. I absolutely love everything she does and this new one is no exception. She doesn’t stray from her usual formula, which usually bugs me, but in her case, it works. Lyrically, she is brilliant and her musicality is infectious. I await her every release and she never disappoints.

5. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression

In what very well may be his final album, Iggy blows the roof off with a perfect album featuring Josh Homme of Queens of The Stone Age. Musically and lyrically his best in a very long time. This could have been a follow up to The Idiot. It’s that good

4. The Monkees – “Good Times”

Yes, The Monkees. Sans, Davy Jones, although there is one song that features him. This is a brilliant album with familiar Monkees hooks and newly explored territories of pop music. A perfect summer album that should be played every summer until the end of time. It gets better with each listen. Bravo boys. You finally got out of the shadow of that other quartet.

3. Suzanne Vega – “Lover, Beloved – Songs From An Evening With Carson McCullers”

I had no idea she was still recording. A concept album about a southern writer Ms. Carson Mccullers. This album is a masterpiece of sultry jazzy blues folk. Suzanne is at her best. Pop it in, sit back with a glass of wine, or 2, or 12 and listen to some of the best music you’ve heard in a long time.

2. A Tribe Called Quest – “We Got It From Here….Thank you For Your Service”

WHAT ? Another hip hop album? I told you I was recently enamored. The Quest return after an 18 year hiatus with a topical album. This is a perfect timepiece of the turmoil of our current age. There’s no holding back and no lack of honesty. Plus, it’s a tribute to Phife Dawg, one of the founding members who passed in 2016, just like everybody else. It’s an exceptional release.

AND THE NUMBER ONE ALBUM OF 2016 !!! Should be obvious


David Bowie – Blackstar

I cannot put into words how much Bowie has meant to me over my lifetime and losing him this year is still too painful. Bowie is not a rock star, he is not a film star. Bowie is his own genre. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said about his influence. But, this album. His last album. This album is the culmination of everything Bowie. There are hints of his entire career in here over thick avant garde jazz and that voice. That voice. That Bowie. It was hard to listen to without crying for a long time. I put it away and recently listened to it again. It was then that I realized it’s genius. Of course, how could I be surprised. My only problem with it is it’s too damn short. Only 7 songs. But oh my. Just mind blowing.


I know the year is not quite over, but I don’t see anything decent coming out in the next 3 weeks. I know there is a new Coldplay album coming out, so like I said…nothing decent….

With that being said, here is my list of the best albums of 2015.

I have to say, it was a pretty good year for new music.

10. Florence And The Machine – How Big How Blue

A step up from the last album, in my opinion. a full sound, but  not overproduced. Catchy, creative songs.

9. Belle & Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want To Dance

Eclectic, quirky and consistently interesting. Once again, B & S prove to be indy darlings and I continue to find them fun to listen to. I pretty much like everything they do, and this new one is no exception.

8. Darlene Love – Introducing

Wow. This woman is amazing. An iconic singer and her voice is as strong as ever. This wonderful record features covers and new songs by Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt and more…EXCELLENT

7. Tame Impala – Currents

Great band. Great album. Loved the last one too. I really like these guys. Check them out.

6. Rhiannon Giddens – Tomorrow is My Turn

Carolina Chocolate Drops singer stretches beyond her bluegrass roots to explore gospel, soul and country on this really terrific debut solo album. She is a star waiting to happen.

5. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color

one word – BADASS. GREAT band. second fantastic album.

4. Leon Bridges – Coming Home

Take Sam Cooke and some Marvin Gaye and you got some serious soul. Leon channels both without sounding like a copycat.

3. FFS – Franz Ferdinand Sparks

What seemed like an unlikely collaboration between Indy rockers Franz Ferdinand and 70’s Glam/Rock/Pop/weird Sparks…works like crazy. Although, Sparks kind of hijacked Franz, it still is a fun listen and a highly recommended purchase

2. Sleater Kinney – No Cities To Love

90’s grrrl rock returns with power and passion. Took me a few listens, but this album is addicting.



1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I just sit and think and sometimes I just sit

Courtney has tapped into a sound I have not heard since the late 70’s. She encompasses the Velvet Underground and Joan Jett, and surpasses expectations. This is a brilliant album. The writing is superb. The raw production is killer. A MUST own for any rock fan of any age.

I encourage you to look up all of these albums and ignore anything the Grammys tell you


TOP 10 ALBUMS Of 2014

Well, another year has come to an end. Although it’s not over yet, I have decided to pick my top 10. Looking towards the next few weeks, nothing seems to be on the horizon that would make this list.

It was an odd year for music. Nothing really floored me, although I did have a few favorites. Some may shock you. I adore Spotify and play it all day while at work. A few months ago, i started collecting new releases in a playlist and have been listening to them to see which ones stick. Many did not. It was a year of ladies doing covers and returning to the forefront. Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox released cover albums. Neither of them impressed me other than it was nice to hear they can both sing. New releases from the long absent Sinead O’connor and Chrissie Hynde both average at best. Chrissie was the better of the two.

Anyway, here are my top 10:

10. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence – There are so many reasons for me to hate Lana Del Rey. She seems fake and falls into that pouty pop brat mode a bit too often. However, this album, with it’s over produced lushness and vapid lyrics, is amazingly good. At times it feels like the soundtrack of a David Lynch film sung by a 40’s chanteuse who had vocal lessons from Marianne Faithful.

9. Boy George – This is What I Do – YES, that Boy George. He returns with a mostly confessional album in every conceivable genre from pop to country. Presented with the sense of humor you can only expect from an aging drag queen. Love it.

8. Beck – Morning Phase – This one took a while. Basically a follow up to the sleepy Sea Change album from about 10 years ago. Beck gets folky with excursions into psychedelia. Parts of this has a pre Dark Side Of The Moon Pink Floyd quality. Deep melodies and odd lyrics. Take your time with this one. It’s worth the effort.

7. Neil Young – Storytone – Neil doesn’t break a lot of new ground lyrically, still consumed in love and liberalism. However, it’s beautifully orchestrated and Neil has not sounded this good vocally since Harvest.

6. New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers – They return with a vengeance in this power pop / Indy collection of catchy songs.

5. Karen O. – Crush Songs – I would not classify this as an album of songs. More like an exercise in raw emotion, noises, and rambling thoughts. This is as stripped down as an artist is allowed to be in this massive production world. It’s really quite brilliant but beware. It’s not for everyone.

4. Benjamin Booker – Benjamin Booker – Rookie of the year. This debut album is straight on rock at it’s best. Raw, live and just kicks ass. throughout. I only hope he continues in this vein and doesn’t fall into the Kings of Leon trap, or worse find himself trapped in a duet with Bruce Springsteen. If he stays the course, this guy will be a major force in the rock world.

3. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream –  Not just another American Indy pop band here. This album is beautifully written and performed. I love it more everytime I hear it.

2. The New Basement Tapes – Lost On The River – Kind of a new age Travelling Wilburys, featuring an all star cast Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James ( My Morning Jacket) Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) Johnny Depp (yes that guy…on one song) and somehow Elvis Costello squeezed himself in to the mix. To make it even weirder, the album is a collection of lyrics by Bob Dylan set to new music by this group. AND it’s all produced brilliantly by T.Bone Burnett. Too much of a good thing? not in this case. It’s damn near perfect. It would have been my number 1 choice for the year and it was close, but…..

1. Spoon – They Want My Soul – hands down, the album of the year, in my opinion. It’s straight forward rock the way bands like The Strokes, Kings of Leon and others used to do it. These guys have always been great and somehow stay under the radar. Lyrically and musically they have outdone themselves this time around. This album is infectious and as strong a rock album as any I have heard in a very long time.

SO, there it is. My top 10 this year. Some surprises. I am pretty sure at least 8 of 10 of these will not appear on many lists, but who cares. I invite you to go to Spotify and check these out. Feel free to comment on my picks, as well as your reviews for the year.

Happy New Year !!! 2015

TOP Albums of 2013

2013 clock

I looked ahead at the remainder of the year and nothing seems to tickle my fancy, so I am giving you my top 10 of 2013:

10) Depeche Mode – Delta Machine

No new ground is broken here. They keep their unmistakable sound. However, after a few listens, I find it seeping into my skin. They hook you in with the opening track “Welcome To My World” and they never seem to let go.  “Secret To The End” and “Soothe My Soul” are as good as anything this band has ever done. Great comeback.

9) Iggy & The Stooges – Ready To Die

Iggy is back. Screaming and yelling like he has something to prove.  This is a return to what made him the legend that he deserves to be. That raw Stooges sound is here. To make it even better, it’s hilarious. Sense of humor in tact, Iggy proves he is old but it doesn’t matter.

8) Willie Nile – American Ride

I don’t know why Willy Nile is continuously ignored. He is the gutter version of Bruce Springsteen without the yelling and phony working man persona. This guy should be filling arenas, but can barely fill a local pub. Unjustified. This is an album filled with the stuff that makes American rock n roll great. GET IT

7)  The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

Garage rock is back and it feels so good. This album is infectious and addicting. I find myself thinking about the Troggs and the Count Five and the Nuggets collection I so admired. Good old fashioned motorcycle rock that made bands like Steppenwolf so fun.

6) Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

I am sure this will be on everybody’s list this year, and rightly so. It’s insanely infectious and although it sounds like old disco with that Nile Rogers riff, it works. Quite a brilliant record. I can hear these songs daily and never grow tired of them. Damn you Daft Punk…Damn you..

5)  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

Like Depeche Mode, no new ground broken. Just a continuation of the low key depressed loveliness that is Nick Cave. This may only appeal to fans, but this is a great return.

4) Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

These guys have hit their peak on this one. I have always thought of them as a new Talking Heads. This time, they escape that moniker in my book and score some pretty solid pop/new wave. Solid effort for a band that should be around a while.

3) Adam Ant – The Blueback Hussar Marrying the Gunners Daughter

Talk about your comeback albums. This one blew me away. Best work he has ever done by a mile. I guess he learned some things in the loony bin. Welcome Back Mr. Ant. I bow to thee. Fantastic album. Creative, weird and wonderful. Bravo

2) Elvis Costello & The Roots – Wise Up Ghost

EC does it again. This time he goes all out funk with The Roots. He doesn’t over do it, like he sometimes can. He keeps them mostly understated but this album cooks like an early Curtis Mayfield record. Lyrically, Elvis is revisiting some of his earlier works, but it all works. It’s politically charged, urban, hip and oh so cool. Almost my favorite of the year.

1) Vampire Weekend –  Modern Vampires Of The City

The third album by the rising stars of hipster indy pop. whatever you label them, they are magnificent. This album is some of the best hyper pop music I have heard in years. Melodic, catchy, perfectly produced and borderline genius. By far, my favorite album of the year. I can’t seem to stop listening to it.

So, there you go. Lots of good stuff to check out this year, old and new.

Honorable mentions (but not quite top 10) – New Order,  Jim James, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire, Foxygen and Ron Sexsmith.

Disappointments were many. David Bowie, Elton John, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Dido, Black Sabbath, Lady Gaga. All sub-par or cop out albums.


Pop Music Meltdown


I did not watch the MTV Video Music Awards 2013, or 2012, 2011, etc. I don’t think I have ever watched it. However, the morning after tweets, and Facebook posts are always the same. Equal amounts of love and hate, depending on age range, demographic, and musical acumen of the poster.

The issue is not the quality or shock value of these pop tarts, but the sugar rush of the audience for this kind of entertainment. And I use that term endearingly. This is entertainment folks, that’s it. It’s intended to provide immediate gratification, with zero retention, other than the aftershocks of sexual deviance, and perversion. On that level, it works.

This is what pop music is now, and if you think about it, it has always been this, as far back as Elvis. Elvis was to the 1950’s, what Miley Cyrus and Lady GaGa were last night. Something to talk about the next day. Even The Beatles on Ed Sullivan provided the same results. Pop music relies on this path to create a buzz.

Unfortunately, it’s the image of a young girl in sexually provocative poses, instead of young adult men in suits, gyrating hips. We have sunk to the lowest level of depravity. No wonder young girls have such low self-esteem if a half-naked Miley Cyrus is depicted as the role model. Shame on her, her family, and the slime that represent her.

I have no problem with those who seek attention on a large scale. I find it fascinating. The thing that I always look for, as a music fan, is what do they do next. How do they follow up this sudden boom. Many fade, many spend the balance of their careers trying to reproduce the success of the initial bang.

Some change direction, experiment, and fail, commercially. These are the ones I find most interesting. It’s almost as if they found success by accident but use that base audience to explore their own creative endeavors. These are true artists. Sadly, there aren’t many.

I continue to keep my eyes on the current crop of pop stars in hopes at least a few of them will surprise me. Unfortunately, I have my doubts.

If the music industry continues to ignore creativity and refuses to allow artists to cultivate their identity, we will always be subjected to this safe level of rehashed and refurbished crap. And if that doesn’t work, they will rely on being gross.

Radio is dead. The concept album is history. Experimentation is forbidden. I can only hope there will eventually be an underground movement and a new “Phil Spector” or “Berry Gordy” who has the money and ability to get it to a point where it cannot be ignored.

Otherwise, it’s over. Continue reading

Dave “The Rave” Davies


I have been a Kinks fan since the early 70’s. I have seen them live 14 times from 1977-1995. Ray Davies has toured solo since 1996 and I have seen him 8 times. His brother, Dave Davies has also toured and I had seen him 3 times until 1998. Sadly, Dave suffered a stroke in 2004 and has not toured until this week. He is on a short romp through the states and opened at City Winery, a small upscale venue in NYC. I was fortunate to attend the 3rd show last night. My nephew, and fellow Kink Kultist, Nick Mancuso, along with his friend Mike were with me.

These old rockers are getting on in years. The general public has a bad habit of poking fun of them because they are old and washed up and should make room for the new stars. But I ask them “like who?” Who are the new stars? I can’t think of too many artists that will be around in their upper 60’s to tour and be even close to relevant. So, I say to these wise guys. Shut the hell up. I don’t care that he is old. He is bringing me back to the days when music mattered and artists were true artists, not manufactured pop stars that burn out after their sophomore album. Where will Phillip Phillips be in 50 years? I know where I will be. Dead.

Dave had some issues last night. The effects of the stroke, nearly 10 years ago, were painfully evident. However, there were moments of pure rock n roll heaven. He played the usual Kinks staples, “You Really Got Me”, “All Day And All Of The Night”, “Tired Of Waiting For You”, and a few very deep cuts that neither the Kinks nor Ray Davies performed live, such as “Young And Innocent Days”. “Death Of A Clown”and “Strangers”. It was also fun to see him do a few songs that Ray includes in his repertoire, like “See My Friends” and “Where Have All The Good Times Gone”. I can honestly say that Dave’s versions of these two songs were far better than his exalted brother. Dave has always been in the shadow of the extremely talented Ray, but like George Harrison, Dave has a catalog of great songs that were mostly ignored, even by the Kinks. Dave also sprinkled in a few from his NEW album. Yes, a 67 year old washed up rock star, stroke victim has a new album.

I say, instead of mocking these guys, let them inspire us. I give Dave a lot of credit for attempting this. It was great to see him. It was like hanging out with an old friend, albeit one in ailing health. At times, I was truly concerned for him.

Dave Davies is a true pioneer, credited with inventing the heavy metal sound, recognized by his peers, mostly ignored by the rock mags, critics and the general record buying public.

I can only hope he continues on his road to recovery and I sincerely hope this tour will reinvigorate him enough to pick up the phone and call his brother.

God Save The Kinks

Bowie’s Next Day


It’s always difficult for a fan to wait for their favorite artist to release a new album. In the case of David Bowie, we have waited 10 years. David Bowie has struggled to amaze me since the Berlin years of “Low”, “Heroes” and “Lodger”. I winced at his top 40 years of “Let’s Dance”.

Although I did enjoy “Heathen” and parts of some of his other works, it’s been a while since I got excited about his music.

Enter “The Next Day”, the new album released today. The cover of a white box in front of the album cover “Heroes” gives you an indication of what we might be in for. then again, David has been known to surprise us.

Not this time.

After three consecutive listens, I have discovered that Bowie has not broken any new ground. It looks, feels and sounds exactly as advertised. The fourth album in the Berlin trilogy. I am not completely disappointed in this revelation, since I enjoyed that period. Glam-rock Bowie fans will be gravely disappointed. There is not even a shred of that era here. Only a tinge in a poppy song called “Valentine’s Day” shows David in glam style voice.

I have always considered Bowie his own genre of music. He was known for his ability to change like a chameleon from album to album.

Not this time.

He sticks to the genre he feels most comfortable in. Dark, guitar driven rock. Gone is the tongue in cheek, sexually charged, glitter rock God we saw in the 70’s. Ziggy, Aladdin Sane and the Diamond Dogs are long gone.  He has given up ch-ch-ch changes for formula.

Lyrically, he is reminiscing about the past, concerned about the future, and kind of pissing and moaning about the present. He sounds a little cranky. The Bowie mystique has evaporated.

This album will sell like hotcakes. He may even get a couple of hits, or at the very least movie and television soundtrack bites. The younger generation, enamoured by Bowie and aware of his enormous influence, will eat this up. Us old Bowie enthusiasts will be underwhelmed. I suspect I may not be listening to this album in a month. Most of it is good, some very good, not great.

Should I cut him some slack for being so old at 66 and being able to walk without breaking a hip? I refuse to subscribe to that ridiculous notion. Art is art at any age. No excuses.

John Cale released an artistic album last year without recognition. Adam Ant released a new album this year that explored newer territory than Bowie. Hard to imagine, but it’s true.

“The Next Day” is not an artistic work, it’s just merely the next day. He waited 10 years to play it safe?

It’s hard to complain since today’s music all blends together. It is still nice to hear David’s voice and songs again, even though it makes me long to hear the album “Space Oddity”. I miss that wild-eyed boy from Freecloud.

David Bowie – Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud

Caveman Garage Rock


The Beatles changed everything. We all know that. They didn’t only introduce us to a new form of pop music, they opened the door and let in all the garage bands from England. I would imagine bands were forming daily during those days. The thirst for new music from Britain was insatiable.

Garage rock was evident in The Rolling Stones and of course The Kinks. Two bands I love to death. However, they had more a of a polished sound focused on songwriting prowess and melody.

However, the one British invasion band I would consider fits the category of garage rock the most are The Troggs.

Called “caveman rock” due to their grungy features and photos of them in caves, and also that sound of their first mega hit, “Wild Thing”. Reg Presely, the vocalist, sang with a lustiness and decadence that turned on millions.

However, The Troggs also had a softer side. A beautiful pop song “Love Is All Around”, was also a hit. Other hits included “A Girl Like You”, “Night Of The Long Grass’, and “I Can’t Control Myself”, cemented The Troggs legacy as pioneers of the garage rock sound of the British Invasion.

Sadly, Reg Presely died this year. The group broke up long ago, but their songs are staples on oldies radio, and Wild Thing is probably one of the most covered songs in history.

Great band.

Have a listen:

“I Can’t Help Myself”

“A Girl Like You”

“Love Is All Around”

“Wild Thing”

Frat Rock


Elvis brough rock n roll into the mainstream, but the real sound of rock n roll belonged to guys like Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Unfortunately, racism and incest kept those three giants from getting the amount of airplay they deserved.

However, the kids knew the scene. They were not only gobbling up the surf music and the rock n roll giants, they were using it as a mechanism to just go crazy. Frat rock was a product of those two genres.

The Rivingtons were a doo-wop group from the early 60’s that released one of the most popular novelty songs of all time “Pa Pa Oom Mow Mow”. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it was the precursor of a hit by The Trashmen called “Surfin’ Bird”.  This crazy song along with The Sufaris – “Wipe Out” describe Frat Rock. Wipe Out was THE song to test drummers. “Can you play Wipe Out” became a mantra of this era. Surfin Bird was covered by The Ramones and The Cramps. It regained popularity when it was featured on an episode of Family Guy. I always found the song quite annoying, but people responded to it.

Other bands that joined this craze are The Rivieras with  “California Sun” and The Kingsmen with their mega hit “Louie Louie”, also covered by just about everybody. It was one of the early songs that had incoherent lyrics. Adults were certain it contained indecent lyrics. The song was banned on many radio stations, which only increased it’s popularity.

The surf rock/frat rock craze was hitting the mainstream. These were the songs of summer back in the early 60’s and remain as staples of summertime music on many of today’s oldie stations.

Before long, bands like The Ventures had hits. The Tornados had a huge hit with an instrumental that fit in nicely with the space age. It’s one of my favorite instrumentals of this period. “Tellstar”

The Rivingtons – Pa Pa Oom Mow Mow –

The Trashmen – Surfin’ Bird –

The Sufaris – Wipe Out –

The Kingsmen – Louie Louie –

The Tornados – Tellstar –