When Was The Last Time You Played This Album?

Rock + Roll

Bonnie Raitt “Nick of Time”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#160 in the Series) is Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time.

In 1988, Bonnie Raitt was one of many performers that would continuously pound out good release after good release but never really popped!  We’ve seen a ton of these acts. ‘Boy is she good. I’m surprised that she’s not better known.’  There was the odd Me and the Boys or Angel From Montgomery, but the lady from California still wasn’t a household name.  Heck she wasn’t as well-known as her stage star father John Raitt.

Then she met Don Was.  Don was a producer that had done well with the great band Was (Not Was) and had produced a few other acts as well.  Be his career was quite a bit like Bonnie’s. Ok, but not spectacular.

They met when Don was putting together a compilation of Disney songs for an album. The session went well and Raitt and Was decided to continue in to another project that would become, Nick of Time. It was if the title track decribed both of their feeling about meeting the other at this point in their careers.

Nick of Time ended up selling 5 million copies and garnered Ms. Raitt three Grammy Awards.  It was ranked #229 on Rolling Stone Magazines Top 500 Albums of All Time.  It won Grammy’s for Album of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

The biggest hit on Top 40 radio was Have a Heart. The biggest hit on rock radio was John Hiatt’s Thing Called Love.  The best song on the album was the title cut, Nick of Time.

Guest artists a plenty were on the album. To name some, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens from Was (Not Was), Paulinho Da Costa, Ricky Fataar, Herbie Hancock and Kim Wilson.

Don Was continued to produce Bonnie on her next album, Luck of the Draw. It sold seven million copies.

Here’s some Bonnie Videos. Nick of Time, Have a Heart and lastly a live version of Thing Called Love from an old Farm Aid show complete with John Hiatt!


The Kinks “State Of Confusion”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#159 in the Series) is the Kinks, State of Confusion.

We’re running with the Kinks today.  I wonder what they’re running away from on that cover anyway.  I guess it was the graffiti, again! They also used a graffiti themed cover on the previous release, Give the People What They Want.

State of Confusion was more later day Kinks.  This release was an album that I really liked. They were still putting out good music until the end.  Ray Davies continues to get it done to this day. His album from a few years ago, Working Man’s Café, is brilliant.

But I digress. State of Confusion actually had the highest charting single in Kinks history. Yes, that is correct. Come Dancing peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top 100 singles chart.  It tied, Tired of Waiting at that spot.  I would have lost a boatload of money if you asked me that one.  I would have guessed Lola, All Day and All of the Night or You Really Got Me.

Back during this era, 1983, I used to see many Chicago Blackhawk games at the old barn, aka Chicago Stadium.  Then captain, Denis Savard was known for his creative skating.  Evertime he would do his Spino-o-rama, the organist would quickly play out Come Dancing.  I caught it.  I don’t know who else did. But that wasn’t as obscure as when this player named Craig Ludwig came to town. I saw him get beat up once on the ice and then our creative minded organist played Todd Rundgren’s Bang On the Drum All Day. Ludwig, get it?

Once again I digress… So back to State of Confusion. Amongst the other great tracks..we have the title cut,  Definte Maybe, Don’t Forget to Dance and Heart of Gold.

The kinks at this time were Ray and his brother Dave Davies on guitars, Mick Avory on drums, Jim Rodford, bass and Ian Gibbons, keys.

Ray Davies wrote and produced the complete effort.

It peaked at #12 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts.


Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Déjà Vu”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#158 in the Series) Is Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Déjà Vu.

I was just sharing the story on Facebook about remembering buying Déjà Vu back in 1970.  I purchased it at the famous Chicagoland record chain called Hegewisch Records.  I was spending the summer at a cousin’s in Calumet City. We road our bikes to Hegewisch  and quickly we were in the store.  I plopped down my $3.49 and we were off.  All their LPs were $3.49 back then.  I still remember the sticker on the shrink wrap!   On the way back I wiped out on the bike and the album went flying.  Fear not, it was OK.  I still remember the fear as that brown square cover hit the ground, hard.

Déjà vu was the first album by CSNY, however, it was not their first recording.  That was the single ‘Ohio’ recorded a little earlier.  Ohio never did appear on an album before it appeared on the greatest hits package called So Far.

Adding Neil Young to a band with Steven Stills was not a huge stretch since they had played together for years in The Buffalo Springfield.  In fact, the opening number Stills’ Carry On contains lyrics from The Buffalo Springfield’s song, Question.

Teach Your Children features a fine pedal steel part by Jerry Garcia.

Almost Cut My Hair is David Crosby’s first addition to the disc.  I remember discussing this album when I was a freshman in high school. I told my friend that I didn’t like this song all that much. I distinctly remember him saying ‘If you don’t like that song, then you don’t like rock and roll.’  I think he was wrong.

Neil Young joins with his first solo writing credit on Déjà vu with his classic Helpless.

Side one ends with the Joni Mitchell penned classic, Woodstock.

We open side two with the title cut written by David Crosby, But then again, haven’t we all been here before? Listen for John Sebastian on harp.

Graham Nash makes his first lead vocal appearance with Our House. A song that would remain in his, and their live shows for years.

4 + 20 was always one of my favorite Steven Stills songs.

Country Girl (Young) and Everybody I Love You (Stills, Young) end our journey.

As the front cover told us Greg Reeves, bass and Dallas Taylor drums filled out the band.  This would be the highlights of both of their careers.

Déjà vu was a #1 album on the Billboard Album Chart.

Woodstock peaked at #11 on the Billboard Singles Chart

Teach Your Children hit up to #16 and while Out House made it up to #30.

Here’s a live Carry On from ’74. It’s in two parts. It’s followed by Teach Your Children, 4 + 20 and Deja Vu.


Robin Trower “Bridge of Sighs”

Today’s Cool Album Of The Day (#155 in the Series) is Robin Trower, Bridge of Sighs.

Bridge of Sighs was Robin Trower’s gigantic breakthrough album.

He was in Procol Harem until 1972.  This was Robin’s second solo album and it was released in 1974.

It contained many of the songs that people to this day consider the highlights to his catalog.

The title cut, Bridge of Sighs and Day of the Eagle top that list. However, do not overlook Too Rolling Stoned.  That was a rock radio standard as well.

Robin Trower toured recorded and toured as a three piece back in this era.  His bassist/vocalist was James Dewar.  Reg Isidore was on drums.

Bridge of Sighs reached #7 on the Billboard Albums Charts.  It actually stayed in the Top 200 for 31 weeks.

It was produced by Matthew Fisher.  You know Matthew Fisher for creating the wonderful organ sound on Procol Harem’s 1967 hit, Whiter Shade of Pale.

Here’s some great live video’s!!


The Edgar Winter Group “They Only Come Out at Night”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#151 in the Series) is The Edgar Winter Group, They Only Come Out at Night.

This was a pretty big deal when I was in 8th grade.  I always remember walking across the street because my friend Joe Moncada bought a couple new albums.  To this day I remember it was this and Curtis Mayfield, Super Fly.

They Only Come Out at Night was a HUGE album for Edgar Winter and his band in 1972.

It contained two well known songs.  They were the instrumental Frankenstein and Free Ride.

The Edgar Winter Group was quite the band. Many of the names were or became quite well known.  Rick Derringer and Ronnie Montrose were on guitar.  Dan Hartman was one of the main vocalists.

Rick Derringer had a well known solo career punctuated by the hit, Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo.  Hoochie Koo hit #1 the next year and featured Edgar on keyboards. (Not to mention it also had Joe Walsh on guitar and Joe Vitale on drums.)

Ronnie Montrose would of course, start the band Montrose with then named, Sam Hagar as his front man.  He then would start performing under his name Ronnie Montrose. This is where we first saw drummer Steve Smith.

Dan Hartman was quite the different story.  He went into the disco world and did quite well for him self.  He had a big hit in 1978 with a song called Instant Replay. (It sucked)

But his biggest hit would be in 1984 song called I Can Dream About You.  It hit to #6 on the Billboard Singles Chart. It was featured in the film Streets of Fire.  It actually didn’t suck.

They Only Come Out at Night was produced by Rick Derringer and also was featured a young up and coming technical director named Bill Szymczyk.  He went on to produce such acts like The Eagles, James Gang and The Who.

They Only Come Out at Night peaked at #3 on the Billboard Album chart.

Frankenstein was a #1 hit. (One of few instrumental #1 hits.)

Free Ride peaked at #14 (One of many songs with vocal to peak at #14)

Check out this great extended live video for Frankenstein. It’s follow by Free Ride.


Dave Mason “Let it Flow”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#149 in the Series) is Dave Mason, Let it Flow.

Dave Mason has put out a big ol’ chunk of good music.  From the days he spent with Traffic through a long solo career.  His latest album, 26 letters and 12 Notes is as good as anything he’s done.  It’s too bad radio didn’t go near it.  He commented from the stage at a recent show I saw, It’s like ‘I’m Selling Encyclopedias to them.’

Let it Flow was released in 1977.  Yup, that’s 33 years ago folks!

It contained his biggest hit. ‘We Just Disagree.’  I think it’s one of the best divorce songs ever written.

Memorable moments here include So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away), Let it Go, Let it Flow, Spend Your Life With Me and Mystic Traveler,.

I was surprised to read that Let it Flow only hit #37 on the Billboard Top Album Charts. I would have bet big bucks that it would have been much higher than that.

Three singles charted. We Just Disagree peaked at 12.  I would have thought that was higher too. Let It Go, Let it Flow peaked at 45. So High hit to 89.

It was produced by big time producer Ron Nevison.  (Bad Company, UFO, Zep Physical Graffiti, Starship, Heart, Chicago.

As alluded to earlier, I had a chance to see Dave Mason recently, He was outstanding.  He played a tiny 400 seat venue.   He played everything from Feeling All Right, 40,000 Headman, Only You Know and I Know, Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave (a real highlight!) World in Changes (opening song). He encored with Dear Mr. Fantasy and All Along the Watchtower.

If you have the chance to see Mr. Mason, Go. . He’s highly recommended.  But be for warned.  You might not recognize him. He looks REALLY different. As you can see below.


Nick Heyward “North of a Miracle”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#148 in the Series) is Nick Heyward, North of a Miracle.

Do you remember Nick Heyward? If you don’t remember his name, you may remember his band before he went out on his own. Does Haircut 100 sound familiar? They had a nice hit called Love Plus One in 1982.  North of a Miracle was released in 1983.

Numerous tracks gathered some nice airplay from this disc.  Whistle Down the Wind comes to mind first.  But we also heard Atlantic Monday, Blue Hat for a Blue Day, Club Boy at Sea and The Day it Rained Forever.

Some players that added to the sound here that you might now included Pino Palladino, Morris Pert and Steve Nieve.

North of a Miracle peaked at #178 on the Billboard Album Chart in 1984.

Whistle Down the Wind hit #20 on the Adult Contemporary Singles Chart in 1983.

The album was produced by Geoff Emerick He was best known for being the long time engineer at Abbey Road Studio.

Here’s a studio version of Whistle Down the Wind and then a live Atlantic Monday.


The Church “Starfish”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#145 in the Series) is The Church, Starfish.

The Church was/is an Australian band that, although still together and touring, had their most success in the late 80s, early 90s.

That success was surrounded by the wonderful album, Starfish.

When I was thinking one day if I should feature this album, my friend Terry Witmer mentioned ‘Sure, You never heard anything like that on the radio at that time.’

That made me think, yup.  Gotta do The Church.

Starfish was The Church’s fifth full album released. They had a bunch of EPs tossed in there as well.  It held their highest charting single Under the Milky Way.

When this was released in 1988, The Church consisted of Steve Kilbey, Marty Wilson-Piper, Peter Koppes and Richard Ploog.

Besides the aforementioned Under the Milky Way, other highlights included Reptile, Blood Money, North South East West and Destination.

One thing I didn’t realize until now was that Starfish was produced by Greg Ladanyi and Waddy Wachtel.   How did I miss?

Starfish peaked at #41 on the Billboard Top Album Chart.

Under the Milky Way peaked at #26 on the Billboard Singles Chart.

Be sure to check out some of the solo album Steve Kilbey and Wilson-Piper also recorded in this era.  I loved Earthed by Kilbey and Art Attack by Wilson-Piper.

Here’s a great unplugged version of Under the Milky Way.


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.


801 “Listen Now”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#143 in the Series) is 801, Listen Now

Some times you have to pull one out that I bet no one has listened to in years!  I’m guessing that’s true for 801.

When was the last time you pulled this one off the shelf?  There even a good chance that you never even heard of this one.

801 is a band put together by Phil Manzanera, Phil is best known as lead guitarist for one of my favorite bands, Roxy Music.

Roxy would take time off now and then and like most bands, many members would work on solo projects.  This was Phil’s

It took two years to record. He started in 1975 and finished in 1977. Oddly enough, while working on putting this together, 801 released a live album in 1976 called Listen Live.

Phil recruited a ton of great players for Listen Now.  When I put this together, I was shocked to see that one of my favorite vocalists Tim Finn!  Who knew!!

Here’s a list of some of the others. Brian Eno, Rhett Davies, Mel Collins, Simon Phillips, Eddie Rayner(!!!!), Eddie Jobson, Lol Crème and Kevin Godley.

The two songs that received the most airplay were the first two tracks on the disc.

Listen Now and Flight 19.


Todd Rundgen “The Hermit of Mink Hollow”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#142 in the Series) is Todd Rundgren, The Hermit of Mink Hollow.

I can’t believe it’s been 32 years since The Hermit of Mink Hollow was released.  But when you do the math 1978 …2010 yup, 32 years.

This was one of the very first album that I can remember that the artist played EVERY instrument.  The only one I can think of that might have been earlier was Jon Anderson, Olias of Sunhillow. That was 1976 but did have a very minimum of contributors. The Hermit of Mink Hollow was exclusively Todd.

It’s even harder to believe it’s been that long when you give it a listen. It easily passes the test of time.

Stand out tracks include the opener, All The Children Sing, Can We Still Be Friends, Hurting For You, Too Far Gone, You Cried Wolf and the great Onomatopoeia.

When I was looking for information on this album I found a great story.  This is from Wikipedia:

In The 30 Rock Episode The C Word, the character Frank says that this is his favorite Todd Rundgren album.  Show runner Liz Lemon tries to tell Frank that someone’s insulted her with a word that ‘rhymes with your favorite Todd Rundgren album” expecting him to name Runt. Frank responds: “It rhymes with The Hermit of Mink Hollow?

You have to love when Todd gets a reference on network television.

Hermit of Mink Hollow peaked at # 36 on the Billboard Album Charts.

Can We Still Be Friends peaked at #29 on the Pop Singles Charts.

There is great website called Live From Daryl’s House.  It features the great Daryl Hall and various guests. Todd was a guest about a year ago.  Here’s a video of a great version of Can We Still Be Friends with the two Philly boys, Todd, Daryl and the late, T-Bone Wolk. Following that is a rare video of All The Children sing.


Rush “2112”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#141 in the Series) is Rush, 2112.

Every once in a while you have to just go with a good old fashioned rock and roll album.

Rush 2112 fills the bill.

I really liked Rush back in this era.  I was a Fly By Night fan, A Caress of Steel fan and then a 2112 fan.  The follow up live release All the Worlds a Stage is a fantastic live album that captured that era perfectly.  It was a real treat seeing Rush back in 2000 seat venues during that time.  Shortly after that, I was done with Rush.  I haven’t seen them nor considered buying anything since about 1980.  Don’t tell me about Moving Pictures.

Once again, we have an entry that one song is one full side. I never realized how many of those albums I had until we started doing this.

The title cut, 2112 is all of side one.  It is broken into seven segments

  • I: Overture

  • II: The Temples of Syrinx

  • III: Discovery

  • IV: Presentation

  • V: Oracle: The Dream

  • VI: Soliloquy

  • VII:: Grand Finally

Side two contains one of Rush’s best songs, Something for Nothing.

2112 was produced by the band, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart along with Terry Brown. Terry Brown also produced such acts such as Max Webster, Klaatu and Voivod.

2112, released in 1976 and reached #61 on the Billboard Charts.


Paul McCartney “Tug of War”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#140 in the Series) is Paul McCartney, Tug of War.

I had not purchased a new Paul McCartney album in years when Tug of War was released in 1982. I hadn’t even thought about it.  Then my friend Phil Lucafo asked me if I heard the new McCartney album.  He highly recommended it.  So on his suggestion, I grabbed it.

I’m glad he did.  This was some of the best music that Paul had done in many moons.

It was produced by former George Martin and it appears that he added nice motivation.

I was just looking back.  Rolling Stone gave it 5 starts, Allmusic gave it 4.5.  So it looks like many agreed.

Highlight, well there’s the title cut, Ballroom Dancing, Take It Away (with Ringo Starr on drums), the great ballad Someone Who Cares and of course Paul’s tribute to John Lennon, Here Today.

There’s also a duet with Carl Perkins called Get It.

Tug of War featured Denny Laine on guitar, Steve Gadd on drums, Andy MacKay on lyricon and Stanley Clarke on drums.

It was #1 on the Billboard Album charts for three weeks,

It received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.


Tears for Fears “The Seeds of Love”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#137 in the Series) is Tears for Fears, The Seeds of Love.

I would love to know how much time Tears for Fears spent in the studio recording this album.  It has so much texture and so many layers that it had to have taken many, many months.

Released in 1989, this was Tears for Fears third release following The Hurting and Songs from the Big Chair. The latter reached #1 on the strength of two singles, Shout and Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

The Seeds of Love peaked at #8 but top to bottom, I think this was a stronger album.

There was a major difference in this album that sets it apart from the first two.  That is the incredible vocals of guest singer Oleta Adams.

Ms. Adams was a struggling gospel singer who had previously released two self financed solo albums that did not get much notice.  She moved to Kansas City after not finding much success in Los Angeles.

There her life changed.  She was performing in a hotel bar when Tears for Fears members Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith wandered while on tour.  They made contact with her and two years later she’s singing on their album and touring the world.

She was best known for the duet she sang with Roland that opens the album.  It’s a fantastic song called Woman in Chains.  If you recognize that drum sound, yes, that is Phil Collins on drums.

Other great songs on the album include the heavily Beatles influenced, Sowing the Seeds of Love, Badman’s Song, Advice for the Young at Heart, Swords and Knives and Year of the Knife.

Oleta Adams maintains a solo career to this day.   Most of her success has been in Tears for Fear home country, the U.K.

Tears for Fears also still records and tours but hasn’t had a major hit in the US since Sowing the Seeds of Love.

I often like to try and find live versions of videos to post.  But here’s the studio versions of Woman in Chains and Sowing the Seeds of Love. The production and arrangements are so perfect that I felt it was the way to go.


Budgie “If I Were Brittania I’d Waive the Rules”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#133 in the Series is) Budgie, If I were Brittania I’d Waive the Rules.

Budgie was a Welch loud rock band that recorded most of their catalog in the 70’s.  I always liked them because their sound was always unique to me.  A little metal here, a little blues rock here, a little prog-rock here, etc.  I always loved bands that you just can not pigeon hole.

They had about six definitive albums. It was not the best reviewed, nor the best accepted, but for some reason I was always partial to Brittania.

The main reason was one song, one that I always loved. (Whenever I had parties I used to find my self putting this song on about 4 am when only the die-hards were left.  Some of them still read this.  You know who you are!!)

That song was Black Velvet Stallion. It’s an epic eight plus minute song that ends side two.  A great song for those that love progressive sounding guitar solos.

A few other tunes that got a little play were Sky High Percentage and Anne Neggen.

All the music here was written my bassist, vocalist Burke Shelly and guitarist Tony Bourge.  The band on this album was rounded out by drummer Steve Williams and keyboard player, Richard Dunn.

I remember trying to see Budgie a couple years after this album was released. A couple buddies and myself drove from the far southeast area of Chicago to the far Northwest suburbs. One of my friends was underage. We were trying to get into a club called B’Ginnings. He had a fake ID and got caught at the door. An hour and a half drive for nothing!!  I did eventually see them at the Riviera Theater.

If I Were Brittania I’d Waive the Rules was released in 1976.

Here’s Black Velvet Stallion followed by Sky High Percentage. Sorry, I couldn’t find anything live for this album.  These are studio tracks.


Spirit “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#132 in The Series) is Spirit, Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.

It’s a shame you don’t hear ‘Spirit’ on the radio. They were an outstanding band in their time. Let by the late Randy California and his stepfather Ed Cassidy, ‘Spirit’ released fourteen albums between 1968 and 1996. Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus was their magnum opus. It was released in 1970.

‘Spirit’ had many minor hits and one huge hit. You’ll find that huge hit here. That was Nature’s Way. (Compare the intro to Nature’s Way and Cheap Trick’s The Flame some time. I think Cheap Tricks owes Mr. California a writing credit!)

What are some of the standout tracks? For me they are Prelude-Nothing to Hide, Mr. Skin and finally Animal Zoo.

Jay Ferguson handled much of the lead vocals. He would go on to join Jo Jo Gunne. They had a huge hit with Run, Run, Run. After going solo he had another major hit with Thunder Island in 1978.

Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus peaked at #63 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart in 1971.

I had a chance to see Spirit at a great South Suburban club called Pointe East in, I’m guessing 1979 or so. We had a table right in front of the stage. Randy California stepped down and did a solo standing on our table. I of course, was at the bar getting a pitcher of beer at the time.

Randy California left us in 1997. His son had gotten trapped in rip current while swimming in Hawaii. He was able to save his son but lost his own life. He was a true original.

Here’s Nature’s Way


R.E.M. “Murmur”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#131 in the Series is) R.E.M., Murmur.

I’m actually surprised it took me until the 131st entry to feature this album. Why, well you’ve all heard of Desert Island Discs.  Those would be the ten albums that you’d take to an island if you only were able to live with ten.  Well, this would be one of the first I’d toss into the boat if I was starting a three hour tour.

I had heard REM’s Chronic Town EP a few times when this was released.  So I was aware of them.  I was quickly falling in love with their Rickenbacker led jangly guitar riff sound.

Murmur was REM’s first full length album and was recorded in Charlotte, NC. It’s an interesting choice for this Athens, Ga. band.

Every song on Murmur clicked.  No filler here, from the opening track of Radio Free Europe to the last notes of West of the Fields.

All the songs receive writing credits by all four band members. Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Bill Berry and Mike Mills. (note: Neil Bogan also got a writing credit for West of the Fields.

Ok, here’s my interesting story about Murmur. In 1983 I was working as an assistant managing editor for Night Rock News magazine.  So I was able to get backstage for events from time to time.

I happened to get backstage at REM’s show at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri.  It was a great show.  They did all of the album and most of Chronic Town’ I still have vivid memories of the show.  The opening act was ‘Let’s Active’ which included Mitch Easter.  Mitch along with Don Dixon produced Murmur.

After the show I had a chance to have a nice conversation with Peter Buck.  There wasn’t that many people back stage.  REM wasn’t close to being a house hold name yet.

As I’m on talking to Peter, his manager called him aside.  They spoke for a few minutes and with a huge smile on his face, he returns.  He grabs me by the shoulders and starts shaking me, saying, “Do you realize you’re talking to someone with an album that’s in the top 100!! The top100!!!”  His manager had just found out that Murmur had gone into that coveted chart position.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  It’s was quite the moment.  I wonder what he did when he first hit #1 a few years later!!

I learned something else from him while discussing the recording of Murmur. Check out the song We Walk. Give a listen to what sounds like thunder in the back round. It sounded more muffled when listening to it on vinyl.   Those sounds are actually the sound of himself and a roadie playing pool directly beneath the vocal both!  Once you know that, you can clearly hear the sound of a ‘break,’ Give it a spin, you can tell easily.

I had the chance to see REM about seven years ago.   I had been following their set lists on the internet.  I had seen that about the fourth of fifth song that they would pull out some real old tune that they had not played for years.  Well on this night they played Shaking Through. They said they had not played since something like 1985. Did I pick the right show to see!!  Long live REM.

Here’s a video of REM performing Radio Free Europe on Letterman’s NBC show back in 1983.  They were the first band to play with themselves on the show.  Previously, all the acts played along with Paul Shaffer’s band.

The second video is a compilation of many early REM songs. It was nicely put together by madreamax9 on YouTube.


UFO “Force It”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#129 in the Series) is UFO, Force It.

I haven’t featured a good old fashioned, rock and roll album for some time.  So here it is for you, UFO,  Force It.

A good ‘play it loud, listen to the scorching guitar, rock and roll classic album.

UFO was an 80s metal band that featured some of the best players of that era.  Michael Schenker on guitar.  Phil Moog, Vocals, Andy Parker, Drums. Pete Way, Bass.  Chuck Churchill was a guest musician that added, and for the first time, keyboards on a UFO album.

Force It was the beginning of a three album run that, while quite popular, also marked the beginning of the end of Michael Schenker’s career with the band.  He left after recording  No Heavy Petting and Light’s Out. He did appear partly on Obsession as did eventual replacement, Paul Raymond.

Force It contained several songs that remained live standards for years. Let It Roll, Shoot Shoot, Out on the Street and Mother Mary. Most the album was written by Mood and Schenker.

Released in 1975, Force It reached #71 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart.

Michael Schenker would eventually return to UFO in the early 90s.

Here’s a live versions of Shoot Shoot and Let It Roll with Schenker.


Nils Lofgren “Nils”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#128 in the Series) is Nils Lofgren, Nils.

Nils is the sixth solo album by guitarist Nils Logren, and and the fourth studio release.

Nils came to prominence as a member of Crazy Horse and before that, Grin.

He’s been a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band for over 25 years.

Nils was my favorite for a number of reasons but mainly for No Mercy. No Mercy is a boxing song written from the viewpoint of the victorious boxer as he feels sorrow for his soon to be defeated opponent.  It’s quite the unique song.

But there indeed many great pieces of music here.  Others include I’ll Cry Tomorrow, and a great ballad in Shine Silently. Randy Newman’s Baltimore is another gem.

Nils was produced by Bob Ezrin. It was released in 1979. It peaked at #54 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts.

Short and Sweet today.  It gives you more time to go listen to music!

Here’s a live, 1991 version of  No Mercy.


Grateful Dead “Terrapin Station”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#126 in the Series) is Grateful Dead, Terrapin Station.

You hardly ever hear people mention this album when they talk about the Dead, well maybe a little but it doesn’t get it due.

Side one of Terrapin Station five songs.  The most known songs being Estimated Prophet and two cover tunes, Dancing in the Streets, and Samson and Delilah.

What Terrapin Station is known for is the full sided title track that is side two.

The sixteen plus minute song, and one that was performed in it’s entirety many times by the band.

It’s broken into six parts.

  • Lady With a Fan

  • Terrapin Station

  • Terrapin

  • Terrapin Transit

  • At a Siding

  • Terrapin Flyer

  • Refrain

The 1977 Arista release was produced by Keith Olsen.  It was one of the few times that the Grateful Dead used an outside producer.  Keith also produced bands like Fleetwood Mac, Whitesnake, Scorpions and Ozzie Osbourne.  So he was quite the interesting choice to say the least.

On an personal note regarding Terrapin Station. Sonor drums had just released a new drum line right before the recording sessions began.  The first two kits were ordered by The Dead’s Mickey Hart and a good friend of mine, Shadowfax drummer, Stuart Nevitt.

Stu’s kit arrived first.  Mickey Hart wanted to use these drums on the album so he borrowed Stu’s to do the sessions.  Well, at least I thought it was cool.

Terrapin Station peaked at #28 and was certified gold in 1987.


Ultravox “Vienna”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#125 in the Series) is Ultravox, Vienna.

Ultravox was one of my favorite bands in the 80s.  Great albums, great live shows.

I was lucky enough to see them at the Aragon Ballroom when they toured a few years after this release.  They were out on the road for Quartet when I saw them.  A real interesting show. EVERYTHING was gray. The guitars the backdrop, the amplifiers, the guitar chords, the drums, the clothes. I don’t know what they were trying to say, but the music was superb!

Vienna housed some of Ultravox best songs.  Quartet had the hottest single, Reap the Wild Wind so it sold the most.  But give me Vienna.

Highlight for me included New Europeans, Passing Strangers, Sleepwalk, All Stood Still and of course the classic epic song, the title track, Vienna.

This was the first album that included new lead vocalist, Midge Ure.  Almost all the bands success was after Midge joined.  He also released a great solo album called The Gift which included the single If I Was.

I’ve read that the band got together for a reunion tour this year. All the shows were overseas so no good for us here in the States.

Vienna peaked at #164 on the Billboard Top 200.

Sleepwalk reached #24 on the Dance Charts.


Cheap Trick “Cheap Trick”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#123 in the Series ) is the debut album by “Cheap Trick.”

Yeah, I know Cheap Trick’s “In Color” was a spectacular grouping of music, but I don’t want to hear how it’s better than they’re debut simply titled “Cheap Trick.”

“In Color” had some wonderful tracks, memorable ones indeed.  But it didn’t have the edge and rawness that the first album had.

They were released just a short time apart.  Seven months apart to be more precise.

Highlights from “Cheap Trick” include ‘Hot Love, He’s a Whore, Oh, Candy, Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Piece.’ A great ballad in ‘Mandocello’ plus ‘ELO Kiddies’ and my favorite ‘Taxman, Mr.Thief.’

I’ve long said that Robin Zander is one of the best pure rock singers I’ve ever heard.  If you want to hear a great example of that, listen to ‘Taxman.’

Guitarist Rick Nielson was the main songwriter here. Drums were handled by the great Bun E. Carlos, bass, Tom Petersson.

“Cheap Trick” was recorded at the Record Plant in NY and was produced by Jack Douglas.

On May 1st 1998 Cheap Trick performed this album in it’s entirety at Metro in Chicago. Yup, Ahhhhh, I was there!



Blind Faith “Blind Faith”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is “Blind Faith.”

One of rocks original super groups featuring Cream’s Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker along with Spencer Davis Group and Traffic’s Steve Winwood. Family’s Rick Grech rounded out the roster.

One and done. That was Blind Faith.

But the short, six song run was quite memorable.

If only we could have been given more than just the 42 minutes and 12 seconds that we received.

‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ and ‘Presence of the Lord’ were the two best known songs.

When I was looking at information on this album I learned something new.  One of the songs on the album is a cover of Buddy Holly’s ‘Well All Right’ What I didn’t know was that Rick Grech was in Buddy Holly’s Band, The Crickets for a short time. How ‘bout that!!

Grech was also a fine producer in his own right.  Some of the acts that he’s worked with included, Gram Parsons and EmmyLou Harris.  Rick Grech died of liver failure in 1990.

“Blind Faith” was produced by Jimmy Smith.  Jimmy also produced much of the Rolling Stones Early works including ‘Exile on Main Street, Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers’ and ‘Goats Head Soup.’

“Blind Faith” debut on the Top 200 Billboard Chart at #1.  It also debut at #1 on the UK and Canadian charts.  It also charted on the black charts at #40.

I recently saw that the VH1 Classic channel has been showing an hour piece of their concert in London’s Hyde Park.  I was quite surprised having never seen any live footage. Here’s a couple clips from that show.


Tim Finn “Tim Finn”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#120 in the Series) is Tim Finn’s self titled 1989 release.

In that extensive box of goodies that have been created by Neil and Tim Finn, ‘Split Enz, Tim Finn, Crowded House, Neil Finn, Finn Brothers, etc etc, the  ‘Tim Finn’ album just might be my favorite.

Did you ever grab something from the store, played it here and there for a few days and then it grows on you and then you just play it extensively for a long time with out it tiring.

That’s how the Tim Finn album was for me back in 1989.

Every song was on the mark here, as was the band he put together.  I’ve stated this before but why Neil and Tim Finn are not superstars is beyond me!

For this album Tim basically enlisted Peter Gabriel’s band.  Tony Levin on Chapman Stick and bass, Jerry Marotta on drums, David Rhodes on guitar.  The only real addition was Mitchell Froom on keys.  Mitchell also produced the effort.

Tim of course handled all the lead vocals.  I think that’s what always amazed me about him.  His vocals could just soar!

Even thou every song is a keeper, a few hit higher than others.  My favorites included ‘Young Mountain, Not Even Close. How’m I Gonna Sleep, Crescendo’ and ‘Been There, Done That.’

Tim brought this tour to the Park West Theater in Chicago.  I had tix and could not find a soul that wanted to go.  But that didn’t stop me from going.  I was NOT going to miss this show.  So I make my way to the general admission little club and being solo that night, I find an empty seat right in front of the stage!!!  Thanks everyone for not wanting to go with along.

I’m sitting there and he takes the stage and he’s got Peter Gabriel’s band with him on tour as well!!  This was before the internet and you really didn’t know those things in advance.  Heck, now you can know the band, the set list etc. all before you get to a show.  But you didn’t back then.  So I was really pleasantly surprised.

He started the show and performed the album in it’s entirety. You see that now with well-known albums but for something still new, well that’s another thing that wasn’t/isn’t done that often.

He also did a few Split Enz classics that night.  It truly was one of my favorite concert nights I ever had.

Here’s the promo video for ‘How’m I Gonna Sleep’  followed by an unplugged version of ‘Not Even Close’ of Tim playing with Crowded House.  He, of course would join Crowded House for two album shortly after this recording.  One thing J.C. Hartsfield taught me years ago.  He said ‘ The most perfect vocal harmony you could ever have is with yourself.  The second best, is with your brother.’