Heroes and Villains--The Sound of Los Angeles

Music Reviews: ‘Heroes & Villains: The Sound of Los Angeles 1965–68,’ plus the Chantels, Hank Ballard, and Nat King Cole

Eyeing L.A.’s Late 60s Rock Scene Heroes & Villains: The Sound of Los Angeles 1965–68, a new anthology on Britain’s Grapefruit label, mines the exact same territory as Rhino’s 2009 box, Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968. The Grapefruit set packs in 90 tracks on three discs—almost as many as the 101 in […]

Continue Reading
Frank Sinatra - Watertown

Music Reviews: Frank Sinatra’s ‘Watertown,’ plus Frank Zappa, Peter Rowan, James Holvay, and Cowboy Junkies

Frank Sinatra’s Forgotten Gem For Watertown, his 1970 concept album on the Reprise label, Frank Sinatra took a gamble. While his earlier solo LPs all found him working with mainstream pop songwriters, he filled Watertown with numbers produced and co-written by Bob Gaudio of the rock group the Four Seasons. Gaudio—whose composing credits include such […]

Continue Reading
Rolling Stones Licked Live

Music Reviews: Rolling Stones’ ‘Licked Live in NYC,’ plus ‘Americana Railroad,’ the Beach Boys’ ‘Sounds of Summer,’ ‘United Dreadlocks,’ and Paul Winter’s ‘Concert in the Barn’

The Rolling Stones Hit the Big Apple      You may or may not consider the Rolling Stones the world’s greatest rock and roll band, but you’d have to agree that when it comes to mining the vaults, only a few other acts are in their league. Just in the past few years, we’ve witnessed the […]

Continue Reading
ABBA-CD Album Box Set

Music Reviews: ABBA ’s “CD Album Box Set,” plus Brad Absher, David Newbould, Michael Martin Murphey, and Rod Picott

ABBA Delivers an Expansive Box Set The pop group ABBA—two Swedish couples who married and later divorced—got off to a shaky start. One of its earliest songs (1972’s “People Need Love”) rose no higher than number 17 on its home country’s charts and never even cracked the U.S. Top 100, for example. And while the […]

Continue Reading
Rolling Stones-El Mocambo

Music Reviews: The Rolling Stones’ ‘El Mocambo 1977,’ plus Neurotic Outsiders, Railroad Earth, and Asleep at the Wheel

The audience makes considerably less noise on the Rolling Stones’ new El Mocambo 1977 than on any of the group’s many other recently issued concert recordings, but that’s not because the shows it captures are any less praiseworthy. On the contrary, this Toronto recording ranks with the best of the Stones’ live LPs. Most of […]

Continue Reading
Mary Gauthier

Music Reviews: Mary Gauthier, John Coltrane, Charlie Musselwhite, Edie Carey, Michael McDermott, and Laney Jones

Mary Gauthier Finds a Hopeful Place When Nashville-based Mary Gauthier appeared on Hulu’s I Love You, America a few years ago, host Sarah Silverman noted that one of her staffers found the folk singer-songwriter’s music so depressing “she had to listen to Morrissey to cheer up.”  It’s true that Gauthier’s albums have reflected her difficult life experiences—including abandonment by her mother when she was a child, struggles related to being gay, […]

Continue Reading
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Music Reviews: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Banditos, Bryan Ferry, Heidi Talbot, Zero, and May Erlewine

Music Reviews: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Banditos, Bryan Ferry, Heidi Talbot, Zero, and May Erlewine Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dirt Does Dylan. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded versions of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” on 1989’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. II and 2006’s Circlin’ Back: Celebrating 50 Years. Now, with the […]

Continue Reading
John Fred

Music Reviews: John Fred, Caroline Spence, Abbie Gardner, the Muffs, Delbert McClinton, Abigail Lapell, and Marc Jordan & Amy Sky

Music Reviews: John Fred, Caroline Spence, Abbie Gardner, the Muffs, Delbert McClinton, Abigail Lapell, and Marc Jordan & Amy Sky  By Jeff Burger John Fred and His Playboy Band, Judy in Disguise with Glasses. “Judy in Disguise with Glasses” was the best and worst thing that ever happened to the late John Fred in his […]

Continue Reading
Crests

Music Reviews: The Crests ‘Sixteen Candles: The Definitive Collection’ plus Michael Weston King and My Darling Clementine

The racially integrated Crests (which initially also included a female member) ranked among the best and most successful groups of the late fifties/early sixties doo-wop era. Discovered while singing in the New York City subways, they incorporated elements of pop and R&B and featured a gifted tenor lead singer who some years later would revisit […]

Continue Reading