Written by: Matt Wardlaw
"Wally" is a rather nondescript name when you see it on an album cover. It could be a one man band project or the musical vanity plate for a band driven by the principal songwriter. In this case, Wally is a British progressive band that for nearly 40 years has been most active via the vinyl albums gathering dust in the collections of the music fans who once knew them.
Born in the early '70s, Wally first caught the eye of Old Grey Whistle Test host Bob Harris at a Melody Maker competition that they did not win. But they won the interest of Harris, who really liked what he heard.
"I liked the swirling sound they made...acoustic guitar, electric guitar, fiddle, Fender Rhodes piano and pedal steel guitar. I liked their harmonies, the way their voices matched. I liked their influences...David Crosby, Jackson Browne and Neil Young. But most of all I liked Roy Webber's songs."
Harris helped to get the band a contract with Atlantic Records and co-produced the band's self-titled debut album with the help of Rick Wakeman of Yes, who also had seen one of the band's early gigs and been drawn in to what he heard.
Despite some prominent support in their corner, Wally never really caught fire, despite touring heavily for several years and they eventually faded away after the release of their second album Valley Gardens.
For most semi-obscure bands, that's where the story ends. But for Wally, they put the band back together thirty years later and played some well-received reunion shows. Then it was time to go back in the studio to record Montpellier, a new album made up of surviving song ideas first conceived at the time they were working on their planned third album for Atlantic, plus some newly written material that came to life in the studio.
Knowing the material's pedigree, you can certainly hear the vintage threads in the music they put down in the studio. But at the same time, it sounds remarkably current, when laid end to end with the progressive music that is still being made today. The Wally sound is an interesting hybrid that is both psychedelic and country-infused. Webber's songwriting for me, recalls some of the elements that I really love about Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, both from a guitar and vocal standpoint.
"Thrill Is Gone" digs in for the kill a mere three tracks into the album, with some hefty guitar shredding and soloing throughout the track, which is a bluesy barn burner that comes a bit out of nowhere after the first couple of songs which are quite sedate by comparison.
"Giving," the album closer, features beautiful guest vocals from singer/songwriter Rob Reynolds and although I don't know the connection between Reynolds and the band, his guest appearance accentuates and elevates what is one of the finest moments on the album and a beautiful wrap to Montpellier.
This is Wally today. Released by Gonzo Multimedia, it's a very welcome rebirth of a band that might not have been known by many, but perhaps there will be many who will finally get the chance to rediscover them on their second time around.
Gonzo will also reissue the first two Wally albums shortly, expanded with bonus tracks. We'll be looking forward to it!more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Driving home tonight, I was listening to the new 'Icon' hits compilation from Steve Winwood and it put my thoughts off into an interesting direction.
One of the things that continually bugs me somewhat silently (except for when I'm writing posts like this) is the shift that Steve Winwood made that took him away from performing material from his '80s albums. Somewhere around the late '90s, it seems like the focus shifted from a somewhat even mix of the old and older to a heavier focus on the earlier material from Blind Faith, Traffic, etc., with the occasional dose of 'Higher Love' thrown in. It was the Winwood equivalent of the expected 'The Way It Is' from Bruce Hornsby, thrown in as a token nod to fans that were listening to his music during that era.
More recently, there's been a bit more of the '80s stuff creeping into his setlists, but it's still not at the level that would make a Steve Winwood concert ticket an automatic purchase for me.
So what would do the trick?
Well, that was what was on my mind as I was driving and initially, my answer was a full album performance of the 'Back In the High Life' album.
But hell, you know I could just as easily go for a double shot - how about both the 'High' and 'Roll With It' albums?
I know - I just presented the world's least likely scenario with the above sentence, but that's my problem that I keep running into. If I get that full album performance, whatever Winwood album it is, there's going to be additional songs that I need to hear. Sure, I'd love to hear the Blind Faith and Traffic stuff, but I also want to hear the other '80s hits like 'Roll With It, 'While You See A Chance,' and maybe even a really cool random deep cut like 'One More Morning.'
For my dream Winwood tour, it's going to have to focus on the '70s and '80s solo stuff nearly exclusively to make room for stuff like the above.
Truthfully, perhaps it would be the 'Chronicles' tour where Steve runs through the entire 'Chronicles' hits album in sequence, with selected additional tracks - stuff that didn't make 'Chronicles' but should have, plus tracks from 'Roll With It.'
I'd be all over that.
Tonight, it all brought me back to 'Talking Back To The Night,' the one Winwood solo track that I always have to crank up, without exception. I can't tell you what it is about that song, but a few years back, I was going through a breakup and in all of the years that I had owned 'Chronicles,' I'd never quite heard 'Talking Back To The Night' the way I did on that night that I listened to it for what effectively was the first time - the first time that I heard it and it really made impact.
It's just one of those great songs that does what any great song should do - it takes you far away from wherever you are at the moment that you're listening to it and it sets your mind free to dream and as your mind begins to wander, you just feel that much better...no matter what your mood is.
At least that's what it does for me. Your mileage may vary.
Honorable mention - how great is 'Vacant Chair?'one
Written by: Matt Rowe
There's lots of good content happening over at MusicTAP this week including a great post about the addition of vintage concert videos to Wolfgang's Vault. We welcome Matt Rowe of MusicTAP back with a review of the new Hot Tuna album.
Lucky is what Hot Tuna fans are. Many classic bands that recorded back in the ’60s/’70s find it quite the chore to produce an album of immense worth, a worthy addition to a successful catalogue. It usually seems to be a blended mess of current musical styles and the “breath” of the original sound that got them onto turntables and radios in the first place. Not a good mix. But when a band opts to continue recording the stuff that got them attention in the first place, as this current Hot Tuna band has done, well, the results can be stunning.
Hot Tuna began as a side venture for Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (both members of Jefferson Airplane), which allowed them the vent with which they let their blues steam from. Once they began releasing albums, they found an audience that never let go. Over the decades, the constant stream of Hot Tuna albums solidified the band’s legacy.
With the release of Steady As She Goes, Hot Tuna have added to an already strong body of work that began way back in the early ’70s with their debut released in 1970. The album is loaded with 12 excellent tracks, acoustic and electric. Kaukonen’s guitar is as sharp as it has always been, as is Casady’s bass. And with Barry Mitterhoff, and drummer, Skoota Warner, along with a few pals, Hot Tuna has delivered an unforgettable album worthy of being spoken of with reverence.
There are no bad tracks on the album. And that’s quite a bonus. To isolate certain songs as great examples would be to shortchange the album as a whole. Hot Tuna fans, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. Steady As She Goes is a classic Hot Tuna album, fitting in with every other album created by the band. Do I have favorites? Yes, all twelve tracks.
All twelve tracks.one
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
[Note: There are now two Cleveland area screenings scheduled for The Wrecking Crew. The first one will be on Friday, 3/4 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The original post has been updated with information regarding an additional screening on Saturday, March 5th at Tri-C. Information on both screenings follows below.]
If you were lucky enough to catch the initial screening of The Wrecking Crew at the Cleveland International Film Festival a couple of years ago, you already know what an excellent documentary it is. For the many folks who were shut out of the sold out screening, here's some good news: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is presenting a free screening of The Wrecking Crew next Friday (3/4) at 7pm. While admission is free, a reservation is required to attend this screening. Since events like this at the Rock Hall often "sell out," it's advised that you should secure your reservation as soon as possible and you can do that by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
The screening is being presented in conjunction with Cuyahoga Community College's Recording Arts Program and director Denny Tedesco will be in attendance for the screening and will be interviewed at the conclusion of the film.
If you haven't seen this movie, it really is a can't miss event for music fans. If you're unfamiliar with the film, this description should make your inner geek bug out a bit when you read it:
In the early to mid-1960s, artists such as the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Sonny & Cher, the Byrds, the Righteous Brothers, Nancy Sinatra, and the Fifth Dimension topped the pop charts with songs like “Up, Up and Away,” “Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” “Cherish,” “These Boots are Made for Walking,” and “Good Vibrations.” They were the “Wall” in Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound.” It was known as the West Coast Sound, and the artists who sang these songs were household names, but the musicians who performed those hits were virtually unknown to the listening public – and remain so today. This film is the story of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, Tommy Tedesco, Glen Campbell, Bill Strange, Carol Kaye, Larry Knechtel, and Joe Osborne – better known as “The Wrecking Crew.”
This film is an intimate, enlightening and often humorous remembrance of the real stories and emotions as told from the perspective of those who lived it. The film is the result of a 12-year labor of love by Denny Tedesco, the son of Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco.
Our thanks to Nick Perry for providing us with the information of an additional screening and afternoon of activities that will happen on Saturday, March 5th at Tri-C at 4pm. Here are the details on that one:
Creating Community: A Regional Audio Industry Gathering
...Center for Creative Arts @ Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus (presented with support from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)
2900 Community College Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
4-6 p.m. RAT Studios Open House
6-7 p.m. Tape Op's Larry Crane presentation
7-7:15 p.m. Intermission
7:15-7:30 p.m. Rock Hall Education Director Jason Hanley introduces director/producer Denny Tedesco
7:30-9:15 p.m. Director's remarks and "The Wrecking Crew" screening
10 p.m. Drinks, music and conversation at Wilbert's Food and Music
Tickets: Free but RSVP is required:
Facebook or call Recording Arts Hotline (216) 987-3277 or email email@example.com
Here's the trailer for the film:
Also, here's an interview with Denny Tedesco
Because of the extraordinary amount of popular music used in the documentary, the film remains unavailable for commercial purchase at the present moment. Hopefully that will change sometime soon. In the meantime, if you're in the Cleveland area, don't miss these screenings - it really is a great watch and it's one of my favorite music documentaries!
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
How about some Chicago video that's even better quality than the stuff that I just posted?
This time, our journey will take us to Amsterdam for a short broadcast recorded in February of 1977.
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Growing up, Chicago was one of my favorite bands and I came into their discography at an interesting point, since Chicago 17 was the first album that fell onto my radar. I hadn't quite learned that longtime fans were rabidly cursing Chicago and David Foster for every minute of both 16 and 17....and what do those numbers mean anyway?
A short time later I figured out the numbering system and my young mind was blown as I began to discover and make my way through their '70s discography on Columbia. Fast forward a few years and the slightly grown up version of me began to hunt around for quality bootlegs. Audio wise, this was a tough search, pre-internet. As far as video? Forget about it - I hadn't even begun to think about the possibility that there might be bootleg video out there. To keep a longer story short, I went through quite a bit of crappy bootleg audio before the floodgates finally started to open up and bear decent fruit worth listening to. Recently, there's been some killer stuff posted online, including this video, recorded at Budokan in June of 1972.
Believe it or not, there are people complaining about the quality of this video (proving once again that some people will complain about anything), but to paraphrase what one commenter said, we would have KILLED for video like this back in the day. Admittedly, the quality of video and audio plummets quite a bit for the last few tracks, but there's plenty to enjoy here.
Ironically, this concert was set for release (along with additional archival material) by Rhino a few years ago before it was abruptly canceled without explanation. Hopefully, it will find its way back to the release schedule one of these days, because it would be great to see this show in better quality. Until then, this is certainly a treasure trove for any fan of '70s era Chicago and Terry Kath. 90 minutes+ of full concert footage? You'd better believe that you'll enjoy the heck out of it.
(And you can download it for yourself, if you've got a Dimeadozen account - click here.)more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Peter Case fans and vinyl enthusiasts will be stoked to hear that indie label Alive Records has a vintage live set titled Live! Beg Borrow & Steal from Case and The Plimsouls set for release on February 23rd. Alive previously released archival material from two of Case's pre-Plimsouls projects - The Nerves and The Breakaways, in addition to other artists including Buffalo Killers and The Black Diamond Heavies. The label has a reputation for doing some pretty cool limited edition vinyl pressings, and Plimsouls fans will be happy to know that the upcoming live album will indeed be available on vinyl, in addition to the normal CD and digital releases.
Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal showcases The Plimsouls at the height of their power, on the verge of starting a riot on L.A.'s old Sunset Strip. Recorded at the Whisky A Go Go on October 31, 1981, this previously unreleased 18 song live album includes many of The Plimsouls' classics as well as plenty of surprises. It has been stunningly remastered, features previously unpublished and gorgeous photos by renowned photographer Bob Matheu, and also includes three pummelling tracks ("New Orleans," "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!" and "Run Run Run") with special guests The Fleshtones.
The album will be in-stores (in both vinyl and CD) and digitally online on February 23rd. The first 1,000 copies of the record will also include a poster. Considering that all of The Plimsouls official studio releases are currently out of print, this explosive live document of the band igniting The Whisky nearly three decades ago stands as not only a highly anticipated release from the band, but also as a testament to the power of pure, unadulterated rock & roll.
Check out the cover art and grab a free MP3 from the release below. I can't wait!
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
As we break the seal on 2010, I'm looking forward (as so many Springsteen fans are) to the much-discussed commemorative box set for Bruce Springsteen's classic release, Darkness on the Edge of Town. We don't know at this point specifically what shows/materials will be incorporated into the bonus elements of the release, but it is allegedly going to hit the shelves this year. If you bought the previous box set for Born to Run, I think you'll agree with me that this new release will be something to look forward to as a Bruce fan.
My anticipation for the release of this set doubled late last year with the release of The Light in Darkness, Lawrence Kirsch's excellent chronicle of the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour. Told from the fan's perspective, by the fans themselves, Kirsch took the numerous fan story submissions, combined them with over 200+ classic photographs from the tour, and delivered an amazing gift to Bruce fans. With time travel via DeLorean still unlikely, The Light in Darkness is the closest that you'll ever come to attending a show on the Darkness tour.
After finishing the book (my review is posted here), I had some further questions and wanted take a look under the hood at the assembly process behind releasing something like The Light in Darkness, one that is most certainly mammoth. Kirsch was more than happy to answer a few questions, and I'm glad that I took the time to inquire, because he certainly had plenty to say, and I think that all music fans will enjoy reading the story of how The Light in Darkness (and Kirsch's previous book For You) moved from a concept to the actual release.more
Written by: Kevin Brennan
Hey there music lovers, we’ve reached the end of the line. Santa has to get ready for the big show and we have to be sure to get the last boot in the 12 Boots of Christmas series prepared for placement under the tree.
Today's North Pole nugget is a vintage seasonal performance from one of the kings of rock and roll, the one and only Elton John.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
For the first time in 30 years, "Wonderful Christmas Time" found its way back into Paul McCartney's setlist, because it's that time of the year, right?
As we mentioned in the Cage Match a couple of weeks ago, McCartney hinted in interviews prior to this winter tour that he might drag it out for the holidays. Thanks to the always-reliable Youtube, here's video from McCartney's show in Cologne where the song made its tour debut: