Monthly Archives: January 2011

Foghat Live

Foghat. Yeah. Nothing reveals a member of my generation like a Foghat reference. They dominated the album rock formats in the late 70s and early 80s… and then sort of fell off the map, radio-wise.

Which is a shame, because these guys could play and sing some great Rock ‘n’ Roll. In the studio or live, you got what you saw: four dudes that knew what they were doing around a 12-bar blues number. No frills, straight-no-chaser hard rock. Multi-purpose music that had no pretensions about it whatsoever.

Foghat Live has six tracks, kicking off with a rousing “Fool for the City,” then getting into the upbeat and energetic “Home in My Hand.” Personally, I’m not a fan of the next cut, “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” but that’s for lyrical reasons, not instrumental. I just don’t like the lyrics, but I have to hand it to Foghat because they play the heck out of this one.

Side two is a great run… manic fun with a one-two pairing of “Road Fever” and “Honey Hush” – that last song taking the Yardbird’s arrangement of the blues standard, “Train Kept A-Rollin'” and giving it totally different lyrics. And then…


Eight minutes and twenty-two seconds of “Slow Ride.” Live. Insane slide guitar frenzy at the end. Dude.

If you don’t know what a Foghat sounds like, start here and be ready to be amazed. If you remember Foghat, you’re already singing “Slow Ride” while you look this up on Amazon, iTunes, or YouTube.

8 out of 10. It’s solid and great fun. I’m in the mood and the rhythm is right. Groove to the music, we can go all night.

Adventures in Utopia

All in a row, 10 great songs. Individually, 8 of them stand on their own. All in all, I have always liked this album.

I first got it when I was in my hard rock/metal phase, when just about everything I bought was either hard rock or metal. I’d read good things about Utopia, and liked their song “Caravan”, so I tried out this LP when I saw it for cheap at Half-Price Books at their old Richardson location off of Belt Line. I bought it, raised an eyebrow at the preppy look of the band on the cover, put it on the turntable, and got hooked.

My favorite from the album is still “Caravan”, but I also keep a warm spot for “Set Me Free”, “Rock Love”, and “Second Nature.” The overall style of the album is accessible pop, edged in the last days of progressive rock and the first glimmers of electronica. Todd Rundgren always finds a way to innovate without alienating with his projects, and this album shows that talent at its best. It’s fun, the overall mood is bright, and only some of the songs make me want to skip them after I’ve listened the album 7 or 8 times in a row. 9 out of 10 for this one.

Forgot to Review Yesterday…

So I’ll go with a quick one this morning…

Grong Grong is the band name, album name, and title of the first track. I store it in my suite of music that can be used in torture sessions, right along Don Ho’s “Tiny Bubbles” and Barney’s “I Love You” songs. It’s horrible, horrible, horrible stuff. If the band actually tried to sing or play their instruments, I’d call it music. I saw one guy refer to the band as “unsung pioneers.” Dude, they were just plain unsung. The only reason I got this album was because it was free. I bought it almost 20 years ago, and I can remember how awful it was as if it were only yesterday.

It’s a 1 on the 1-10 scale. I’m not going to be cute or clever and give it a minus or a zero. The 1 is for music that’s as bad as it can get, and this is just that.

John McLaughlin and Shakti

I’d always heard John McLaughlin was a great guitarist. I’d never thought about spending any money to find out just how good he was. I just sort of accepted that and went on with my life, unaware.

Then I saw this album in a donations bin at a charity that gave away free books and records to teachers and other non-profit folks. So I went for it, took it home and invested time where I had not been willing to invest money.

Therefore, this album is priceless to me. It’s 52 minutes of incredible acoustic performances. McLaughlin plays an amazing set, and the classical Indian flavor throughout was completely novel to me at the time. Even after nearly a decade of watching Bollywood, I still find this album to be electrifying and uplifting with each listen. It’s easily a 10 out of 10. If I had to go to a desert island that forbade rock and roll, I’d take this album. I strongly encourage any fan of virtuoso guitar performances to check this out.

Look Into the Future

Look Into the Future was Journey’s second studio release, and it’s amazing how great they sound without Steve Perry. From 1975-1977, Journey’s style blended prog-rock, fusion, and hard rock in an expert blend. Gregg Rolie served as their vocalist. While he’s not a Perry tenor, his vocals are earthier, more rocking. Perry’s got a great set of pipes, but he’s a balladeer, not a rocker. This album, therefore, is a rocker because it has 0% Steve Perry.

You won’t hear any of these songs sung on Glee, except maybe Journey’s cover of “It’s All Too Much,” but I doubt New Directions would use Journey’s arrangement. As a Beatles cover, I like it. It’s a fresh take on the song and Rolie’s keyboards work great with Schon’s guitar, just as they did back on Santana’s third album. It’s a great song for settling back into a comfy beanbag chair with headphones around your ears.

Oops, I missed the opening track, “On a Saturday Nite.” It’s not a special song, but it’s competently done. I like second track better, as well as the third one, the progressive, droning “Anyway.” Hearing that song makes it very easy for me to believe these guys called San Francisco home. It’s very moody, but retains a certain laid-back quality in spite of the tension of the vocal and guitar part. It’s hard to explain or categorize, so I guess that’s why I enjoy it.

I didn’t enjoy “She Makes Me (Feel Alright).” It was needlessly profane and I skip past it. It’s totally not in the same character as the rest of the album, so my guess is that the band put it on their because their manager told them a song about sex sells. Let this be a lesson to anyone else that’s looking to make money: if the price of success is your soul, you didn’t really succeed.

Side two kicks off with “You’re on Your Own,” a complicated rocker that’s back in the spirit of the rest of the album. It switches time signatures around deftly, so it’s one for those of you in the Math Rock crowd. I love Schon’s spiraling downward rhythm guitar along with Rolie’s Hammond Organ solo in the middle, followed by a real firecracker from Schon.

I should mention also that I absolutely love Aynsley Dunbar’s drumming and Ross Valory’s bass playing. These guys were a solid rhythm pair and help make this album a great one.

Next up is the title track, “Look Into the Future.” It’s a ballad, but not in a sappy, teenage heartbeat sort of way. It’s heartfelt, it puts the instruments up at the front, and the bluesy, heavy rock is first class. It’s a lot like a really good Kansas song with vocals that growl instead of soar, if that’s any help. At 8:10, this song is the album’s longest, but it delivers all the way through.

The last two songs, “Midnight Dreamer” and “I’m Gonna Leave You,” go great together. The first one rocks out for the first minute in a way that neatly dovetails with the title track. After that, it’s four minutes of fusion jamming that plays beautifully, featuring Rolie on a lovely electric piano solo that segues into a synthesizer, followed by Schon’s top-drawer playing. The last song picks up where “Midnight Dreamer” ends, growling and rumbling its way to a hard rock finish.

I just gotta love this platter’s second half, no question. On my 1-10 scale, this second release from Journey is a good 7. It could have been better, sure, but I always have fun with it.

The Song Remains the Same

Wait, what? Led Zeppelin on a Monday review? You’re gonna slag a Zep album? What is with you, Webb? Are you mental? This is LED ZEPPELIN, how can you pan them?

This is The Song Remains the Same, the proof of concept for Dread Zeppelin, which performs Zeppelin numbers performed in a reggae style with an Elvis Presley impersonator on vocals. Listen to “Whole Lotta Love” on this set and you’ll be amazed at how much Led Zeppelin themselves sound like an Elvis impersonator fronting a reggae group. While it works for the novelty group, I can’t cut the big bad Zep any slack for not sounding like themselves.

The whole performance was plagued with sloppiness and a lack of Page’s ability to play more than one guitar, which meant the live versions of songs lacked a lot of the punch they had in the studio. It’s not like this was a particularly poor concert, either. This was typical of the band. I’ve heard the bootlegs, and this is representative of the lot. It’s not to say the whole album is terrible and unlistenable: it’s to say that it’s not up to snuff, relative to other Zeppelin material.

When I was a kid, I remember watching the movie and almost falling asleep during “Dazed and Confused.” I can do that again now. After a heavy meal, I *will* fall to sleep during that song and “No Quarter.” It can’t be helped: the excitement really isn’t there. “Celebration Day” is a welcome relief of energy and the gem in this big ol’ lump of coal.

You want a good concert? Deep Purple, my friends. Deep Purple. Those guys knocked it out of the ballpark nearly every time they came up to bat. I think I know why, too. They weren’t as strung out on drugs as lots of other bands of the day.

I discovered this when I listened to a Black Sabbath 1972 bootleg right after a Grateful Dead live album. Aside from a few riffs from their hits, the Sabs sounded just like the hippy-trippy Grateful Dead. I concluded they must have all been doing the same drugs. Zeppelin seems to have hit the same goofball jar because they get really, really indulgent here. There’s no jazz-blues improvisation on this album, so Zep didn’t hit the goofballs as hard as Sabbath or the Dead, but they’re definitely on some sort of performance-diminishing substances.

Deep Purple aren’t the only guys from the 70s that did their best to give the people what they paid for. Rory Gallagher, Foghat, Pat Travers, Robin Trower, and The Who could all blow away the competition with their live sets. If I get wind of one of their live sets somewhere, color me interested. I can take the Grateful Dead live on their Europe ’72 album in small doses and Sabbath delivers solid, heavy rock starting in 1980, when Dio stepped up to the mike stand. I love Zeppelin in the studio, but I’ve learned that if I want that same hard rock sound to continue, I need to avoid their live stuff.

I still have the album on vinyl, but I have felt no compulsion whatsoever to back it up on CD or in a digital release. I’m a huge Led Zeppelin fan: my first album was Atlantic SD 19129, commonly known as “Zoso” or “Led Zeppelin IV”, but is actually without any real title. I bought all the Zeppelin albums before I branched off into other groups. Of all the Zep I bought, this one is the album that made me wish they hadn’t done it, so I wouldn’t have bought it.

I like only one song off of it, but the others aren’t unbearable. They just don’t excite me. They could have done much, much better. It’s a 5 out of 10, and I’m sticking with that rating.


Sheila Chandra first came on the music scene with the Indian-influenced pop song, “Ever So Lonely.” Most of her work, however, isn’t pop. It’s experimental, but in an amazing way. That’s where Quiet comes in.

As a vocalist, Chandra delivers a very pleasing abstract performance on this album. She uses much of India’s “language of the drum” for her vocals, lending them a joyous percussive quality. The whole album through is an ambient soundscape and it works wonderfully as such. There’s not much more to say other than it’s beautiful, intriguing, and well worth the expenditure.

It’s not a vital part of my collection, but it’s a solid 8 out of 10 and I love having it for quiet, reflective times.


I’m not the biggest Aerosmith fan on the planet, but I do enjoy a good guitar album where I can find it. Rocks is a good guitar album, so I enjoy it. Of all the Aerosmith releases, it’s the one I like the most. I can get into most of the songs and it’s got some great hooks.

“Lick and a Promise” and “Rats in the Cellar” are my two favorite tracks off the LP. “Sick as a Dog” is another deep cut that really does it for me. The two lead tracks and Classic Rock staples, “Back in the Saddle” and “Last Child” aren’t too shabby, either. The only song I simply can’t take in large doses is the ballad at the end, “Home Tonight.” I choose to live my life without that song, and I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.

Overall, this is a fun album, but I don’t find it as compelling as other discs in my collection. Yeah, it’s fun, and I like it, but if I had to choose between saving this album and, say, a Tommy Bolin LP from a burning building, you’d be roasting your marshmallows with Aerosmith-fueled flames. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

If I was a die-hard Aerosmith fan, I’d give this a 10 because it is the best album the band produced. If you find yourself in the situation of being a die-hard member of the Blue Army, then you are a sham if you do not yet own this album. Forgive me, though, for giving this a solid 7 out of 10, because I’m not a huge fan of Aerosmith. This is a solid piece of work, no question about it. It’s great rock and has been influential for a big wave of rock acts that followed in Aerosmith’s footsteps. It’s just that I find Aerosmith to be formulaic and although the formula is at its best on this release, a formula is still a formula.