When Was The Last Time You Played This Album?

Country Rock

The Notorious Cherry Bombs “The Notorious Cherry Bombs”

Today’s Cool Album of the day (#144 in the Series) is the self titled album by, The Notorious Cherry Bombs.

OK, who knows who these guys are?   I’ll explain.

Rodney Crowell was an original member of EmmyLou Harris’ Hot Band in the 70s.  Gaining notoriety there, he decided to act on a solo career and began forming his own band.  It wasn’t known at the time, but he put together of band of players that would become some of the most well known players (with in the industry, not really house hold names except for one) in country, country rock and even rock in roll.

Vince Gill was brought in play just about every string instrument. Mandolin, guitar, electric guitar, violin, banjo, dobro and on and on.

Hank DeVito would play on everyone’s record and write a ton of hits.

Richard Bennett would play guitar in Mark Kopfler’s band for years. He still does.

Emory Gordy, Jr. and Glen Hardin filled out the lineup.

After 30 years, Rodney decided to ‘Put The Band Back Together!’  This album was the result.

It had a  couple great rock and roll tracks included Let it Roll, Let it Ride and Sweet Little Lisa.

Sweet Little Lisa has been covered by everyone including Albert Lee and Dave Edmunds.

There are a few superb ballads such as Making Memories of Us and Heart of a Jealous Man.

One song however was the one that got the airplay.  How this wasn’t a HUGE country hit I’ll never know.  It’s called It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night that Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long.  What a track.  A must hear.  Last night I watching a Lewis Black stand up DVD and even he was talking about it!

The Notorious Cherry Bombs was released in 2004.

It reached #135 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Charts and #23 on the Country Album Charts.

Here’s Hard to Kiss the Lips followed by Dave Edmunds performing Sweet Little Lisa.

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Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris “All The Roadrunning”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#124 in the Series) is Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, All the Roadrunning

What a special collaboration.  They don’t get much better than this.  Especially considering that these two musicians come from two different worlds.  I’ll have more on that though later.

Bringing Mark and Emmylou together was genius.  The only thing that angers me is that I missed the tour and I have a feeling that that was a one-off tour and will not come again.

This is Us is a really heartwarming track that follows a couple as they flip through their old photographs.  I think it’s my favorite of the bunch.

Other goodies, they begin with listening to Emmylou sing a duet on Belle Starr. Her voice remains as strong as when she sung in her Gram Parsons era.  Red Staggerwing rocks and rolls and tells us a good story.  All the Roadrunning has a nice warm feeling to it.

We get 12 tracks here.  I’d call this more of a Mark Knopfler album with Emmylou at his side than I would an actual full fledged duet project..  He writes ten of the songs and it’s his voice and, of course, guitar that stand out the most.  Emmylou does have for print on it as well as it tends to lead more to the country side of Mark’s leanings.  The band is pretty much all from the Knopfler stable as well.

The two of them released a live album and DVD right after the tour.  There you’ll find most of this album plus some Emmylou standards and also some Dire Straits tunes.  It’s a must get for real music lovers.  It’s titled Real Live Roadrunning.

I often think back to something I once heard Emmylou say. It was on the ‘Nitty Gritty Dirt Bands’ Will The Circle Be Unbroken II. I don’t know the exact words, but she said something about how music is meant to be played with family and friends on the front porch.  That ‘That’ is real music!  And sometimes we get to far away from the front porch and have to bring it back.  I surely like many types of music and much of it could never be played on the front porch.  But I completely understand what she means.

This 2006 release reached #16 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts.

Here’s Mark and Emmylou playing This is Us with Paul Shaffer’s band along with a couple more tracks.  One which is isn’t a song from the album but a nice surprise!   And it could be done on the front porch!!!


Rosanne Cash “Rhythm and Romance”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#122 in the Series) is Rosanne Cash, “Rhythm and Romance.”

“Rhythm and Romance” is one of my absolute favorite albums of all time.   I of course knew about Rosanne Cash before this album but had never really known much about her music.  This changed all of that.  My respect for her and her music is as high as for any other musician of which I know.

This album did quite well on the country charts. But it was probably the least country sounding album she had done to that point.  She definitely did not have a country band on this one.

Her band included Toto’s David Hungate on bass, Willie Weeks on bass, CBS Orchestra’s Anton Fig on drums, Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on keyboards and everybody’s Waddy Wachtel on guitars.

The 1985 production was mainly written by Rosanne herself.  She did get a little help from Vince Gill on ‘Never Alone.’

She also included two songs written by others.  Ben Tench and Tom Petty wrote ‘Never Be You’ while John Hiatt wrote the rocking ‘Pink Bedroom.’  Then husband Rodney Crowell co-wrote with her one of the best songs here, ‘I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me.’

Rosanne wrote the remaining six tracks.  Best of that bunch included ‘Hold On, Second to No One’ and ‘My Old Man.’ He of course was Johnny Cash.

If you’ve never owned a Rosanne Cash album is indeed a great place to start.  There’s not a bad note of music on the disc.  She has a library of great music.  Here follow up, “Kings Record Shop” was a HUGE seller.  “Interiors” and “The Wheel” were a move more into a singer/songwriter type of sound. “The List” was flat out, one of the best albums of 2009.

“Rhythm and Romance” reached #1 on the Billboard Country Charts and #101 on the Top 200 Charts.

‘I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me’ reached #1 on the Billboard Country charts and #16 on the Adult Contemporary Charts.

‘Never Be You’ hit the top of the country charts while ‘Second To No One’ peaked at #5.

‘I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me’ earned Rosanne a “Best Female Country Vocal Performance” Grammy.

Check out the rockin’ Pink Bedroom video followed by a great live version of ‘I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me’ also featuring Rodney Crowell.


Poco “Pickin’ Up The Pieces”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is the debut album from Poco,”Pickin’ Up The Pieces.”

Poco laid their plan, right there, in the lyrics in the title cut.

Call it a Mission Statement:

‘Well, there’s a little bit of magic
In the music we’re playin’
So let’s begin
We’ll bring you back down home where the folks are happy
Sittin pickin’ and a-grinnin’
Casually, you and me
We’ll pick up the pieces.

That’s it. Richie Furay and Poco were laying the ground work not only for their plans, but also laying the groundwork for the new genre of country-rock.

This album features the original Poco lineup.
Richie Furay (guitar, vocals) and Jim Messina (guitar , vocals) had just finished a stint in another ground breaking group ‘The Buffalo Springfield.’

Rusty Young (pedal steel guitar, guitar, vocals) came in after playing on one track on the last Bufflalo Springfield album. ‘Kind Woman.’

George Grantham (drums, vocals) was a friend of Rusty’s.
Randy Meisner (bass, vocals) came over from a band called ‘The Poor.’ They had once opened for Springfield.

This would be the last time they would record together until the reunion album ‘Legacy.’
Shortly after this release, Meisner went on play bass for The Eagles while Jim Messina formed Loggins and Messina.

They’d be replaced by long term Poco members Timothy B. Schmit and Paul Cotton. (Or NORM! as he was known by his given name when he still lived in the Chicago Roseland area.)

Other highlights include, Consequently, So Long. Grand Junction. Calico Lady and Just incase it Happens, Yes Indeed.

This weekend, go out and listen to two album that started a genre, The Byrds ‘Sweethearts of the Rodeo’ and Poco’s ‘Pickin’ Up the Pieces’, Today’s Cool Album of the Day!’


Mudcrutch “Mudcrutch”

Today’s “Cool Album of the Day” is the debut self-titled album by “Mudcrutch.”

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve never been the biggest Tom Petty fan.  Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s OK.  I’ve liked some of this work but I think the best thing he ever did was his original single ‘American Girl’ and that was 1976.

But however, I really liked his “Mudcrutch” album.

Here’s what Mudcrutch was all about. They were Petty’s first band formed in 1970.  The band did include a number of ‘Heartbreakers.’  They released a single and never amounted to all that much.

Here’s the lineup, Tom Petty on vocals and BASS guitar. Mike Campbell on lead guitar,  Benmont Tench on keyboards, vocals.  Randall Marsh on drums and Tom Leadon on rhythm guitar and backing vocals.

Tom Leadon is the brother of Bernie Leadon.  You of course know Bernie from the Flying Burrito Brothers and some other band named after a popular American bird.

Another I liked about “Mudcrutch” is that it was recorded live in studio.  It’s a shame that more acts don’t do that.

Highlights, lets go with the traditional ‘Shady Grove.’ (Think the Dillards on The Andy Griffith Show.)  ‘Lover of the Bayou.’ This was an old Byrds song that was always very hard to find.  In fact, I’m pretty sure they only place to find it was on a live album.  ‘Topanga Cowgirl, Bootleg Flyer’ and ‘Scare Easy.’

“Mudcrutch” debuted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart.

It was produced by Tom Petty, Mike Campbell and Ryan Ulyate.

The band did a short tour and released a follow up live EP later in 2008 called “Extended Play Live.”


Atlanta Rhythm Section “Red Tape”

Today’s “Cool Album of the Day” is Atlanta Rhythm Section, “Red Tape.”

Kind of a forgotten band here. Atlanta Rhythm Section was all over the radio in the late 70’s early 80’s. ‘Red Tape” was a little before that.

This album was released in 1976. Some of the best tracks were ‘Jukin/San Antonio Rose, Free Spirit’ and especially ‘Mixed Emotions.’

Recorded in Doraville, Georgia and released on Polygram, “Red Tape” peaked at #146 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts while the only single to chart, ‘Free Spirit’ reached #85.


Heartsfield “The Wonder of it All”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (A Milestone! #100 in The Series…hold the applause please, thank you, thank you.) is Heartsfield, “The Wonder Of It All.”

Today we are going to celebrate the music of Heartsfield.

Well anyone that knows me knew that a Heartsfield album was coming sooner or later. I decided awhile back to make it entry #100.

Heartsfield was one of, if not the main reason for my love of music and for me making a career in music for what were many years and coming from many different angles. The members remain some of my closest friends for well over 30 some years now. They’ve been a major influence to much of the music I did, and still listen too now.

I’m sure everyone expected me to feature the first album from 1973. Considered ‘the classic,’ and an important piece of music that helped continue the beginnings of the country-rock sound.

That would be too predictable. So I decided to feature the fourth album, ‘Collector’s Item,’ the 1977 release that via Columbia Records.

But, I then remembered that that album did not contain anything written by J.C. Hartsfield, so I looked elsewhere.

That’s brings us to “The Wonder Of It All.” Mercury Records, 1974

“The Wonder Of It All” is a great representation of the ‘Heartsfield sound.’ The title track that starts the disc is actually a full length version of a previous version that ended the first album. It’s a lovely ballad written and sang by J.C. It features a great instrumental middle section that actually led to a write up in the jazz magazine, ‘Down Beat.’

Song two is Perry Jordan’s ‘House of Living,’ a lively harmonious track that more times than not was a show opener.

‘Pass Me By’ is Phil Lucafo. Phil usually writes the rockers. He slowed it down here.

‘Shine On’ was written by guitarist/vocalist Freddie Dobbs and drummer Artie Baldacci. I’ve heard many people refer to this as the best piece of music that Heartsfield every created. You could say that about a number of tracks. You wouldn’t be wrong if you said it about this one. Artie adds some sweet mellotron too.

Side two opens with Freddie’s ‘Eight Hours Time.’ A great train song!!

‘I’ve Just Fallen’ was the only track in which Artie Baldacci sang lead.

If ‘Shine On’ isn’t the best track, then Perry’s ‘Racin’ the Sun’ just might be! What starts as a ballad turns into a wonderfully stretched out, two guitar playoff between ‘Freddie and Phil.’

We end our journey in Mississippi with J.C.’s ‘Lafayette County.’ A straight forward country fiddle tune that puts a bow on the package nicely!

Filling out the band was Greg ‘Ziggy’ Biela on bass / vocals.

Terrible cover, but a cool album!!! I spent hours playing this LP, 8-Track, Cassette, CD or Mp3 over the years. I ain’t stoppin’ now!!!


The Outlaws “Lady in Waiting”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is The Outlaws’,”Lady In Waiting.”

Back to my country-rock roots once more.  I was a big fan of the early Outlaws.  I loved the first three albums and then the live release.  Then I fell away.  I remember seeing them on this tour at the Chicago Stadium.  It was Bad Company, The Outlaws and Rockpile. I can’t remember who played first between the Outlaws and Rockpile.

I do remember watching an undercover cop bust a guy for selling him something in a little packet in the bathroom.  The things you remember when you’re a teen!

This album didn’t have any of their huge hits on it.  But I liked the earlier stuff since it tended to lean a little more towards harmonies, melodies and a little acoustic as opposed to the straight southern rock that followed later in their careers.

‘Breaker-Breaker’ and ‘South Carolina’ open the disc.  Two killers.  Also on side one are great tracks ‘Freeborn Man’ and the strong country of ‘Girl From Ohio.’

Side two includes more strong cuts such as ‘Loverboy, Prisoner,’ and the longtime gig opener, ‘Stick Around For Rock and Roll.’

We’ve lost most of these guys.  Hughie Thomasson, Frank O’Keefe and Billy Jones are gone.  However, Henry Paul and Monte Yoho have continued the band.  I got a wonderful review of a show they did in Chicago a year ago. (Beverly Art Center)

Here’s ‘South Carolina’


The Byrds “Sweethearts of the Rodeo”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is the 1968 release by The Byrds, “Sweethearts of the Rodeo.”

Quite simply, a masterpiece. Was it the first country rock album? That’s debatable.

There has been so much written and discussed about this music that I’m not even going to try and invent an original idea.

Just listen to the music. I’d have loved to have heard Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons stay together longer. But then Gram might not have gone on to to record two other great pieces of music (Gram Parsons and GP). And maybe he wouldn’t have gone on to discover (along with Chris Hillman) EmmyLou Harris.

Some of the classic songs here are Bob Dylan’s ‘You Aint Goin’ Nowhere, You’re Still On My Mind.’ Woodie Guthrie’s ‘Pretty Boy Floyd,’ and of course, GP’s ‘Hickory Wind.’


Rodney Crowell “Diamonds and Dirt”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is Rodney Crowell, “Diamonds & Dirt.”

Rodney Crowell is one of America’s great singer/songwriters. He’s written hits for Bob Seger (Shame on the Moon), George Strait/Jimmy Buffett (Stars on the Water), Waylon Jennings/EmmyLou Harris (Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This) and on and on.

He also saves some good ones for himself. “Diamonds & Dirt” is a fine example.Highlights include: ‘I Couldn’t Leave You If I Tried, She’s Crazy For Leavin’, After All This Time’ and a Duet with then wife Rosanne Cash ‘It’s Such a Small World’

Rodney was a member of the great 70s EmmyLou Harris ‘Hot Band.’ But he also had a hot band of his own. His guitarist during this time was a great picker named Steuart Smith. Steuart is now the lead tour guitarist in The Eagles. I believe he’s played with them for about five years now replacing Don Felder.

Others filling out the sound here include Eddie Bayers and Russ Kunkel on drums, Mark O’Connor on fiddle/mandolin and Vince Gill on backround vocals.

Rodney and Vince played together in a high school band called ‘The Notorious Cherry Bombs.’ They reformed a few years ago and released one disc. It included a GREAT single called ‘It’s Hard To Kiss the Lips at Night that Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long.’

Country radio didn’t have the stones to play it. Their loss.