Friday, December 28, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 80: Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - Live Alive

Album - Live Alive
Artist - Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
Key Players - Stevie Ray Vaughan - guitar and vocals, Tommy Shannon - bass, Chris "Whipper" Layton - drums, Reese Wynanas - keyboard.
Jimmy Vaughan appears on four tracks playing guitar and six string bass.

Produced By - Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Release Date - November 15, 1986

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Sometimes you can be in the mood for this sort of rocking blues...guess it was time.

Overview - This live cd is culled from four live shows July 16, 1985 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, July 17th and 18th 1986 from Austin and July 19, 1986 in Dallas Texas. The cd itself had some clean up done in the studio so it doesn't flow as good as other live cds. For example,. there are noticeable pauses between tracks vs. a real "flow" feeling to it. Realizing the limitations of four various sources to be culled for a live show perhaps a re master of it would clean it up. Still its a decent snap shot of what was going on with the band at the time.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The listener is quickly given a dose what this collection of live cuts will hold as the disc opens with "Say What!". With no lyrics for the first 3:30 of the close to 5 minute track, the band is left to shine musically, and they all quickly show proficiency with their instruments. Each taking light, quick punchy solos. Granted the only real lyrics are chanting of "Soul to Soul", still the track lays impressive ground work. "Ain't Gone 'n' Give Up On Love" follows and the shimmer of keyboards lies under the shrill of Stevies guitar. Each note seems to ring out, and stand on its own. The lyrics are dark and moody and not until the latter part of the track does the guitar really get going. The track doesn't really move along at a blistering pace, but the playing is fierce. Utilizing the 12 bar blues standard riffs "Pride And Joy" rings out. One of the stand out tracks from his Texas Flood album the players, once more, prove that they don't have to break the mold of the 12 bar blues to shed some great riffs. This (like all the tracks) lets Stevie cut loose on a blistering solo that leaves the band scattered to keep up, but they do just fine. "Mary Had a Little Lamb" - there are two really great moments in this track in the later half where Stevie just has the pick hand going crazy. It is in the down load section for you to check out. "Superstition", the classic Stevie Wonder track, has the same bounce, but misses some of the crunch of the original. The keyboards replace the horn section but the version is tight and pretty true to the original, while still adding some Stevie and blues touches to the track. "I'm Leaving You (Commit a Crime)" - there is a lot of phase on Stevies guitar and there is more piano on this track than keyboards. "Cold Shot" follows. One of the early videos of Stevie comes screaming back to the brain. A blues man trying to play and the guitar being taken from him time and time again, only for him to pull yet another guitar out and keep going. "Willie the Wimp" opens with some light drum work before the band hunkers down. Between each sung line the band bears down and the song maintains that sort of same feel throughout. "Look at Little Sister" is perhaps one of the more widely known Stevie tracks. The band uses the 12 bar blues riffs and lets Stevie wash over the top. On this track you can hear more of the other guitar work from Jimmy Vaughan, it sort of chugs under it all as the the chime of Stevies guitar takes over. Per the norm the solo is what really shines. "Texas Flood" slows it down some. The guitar has a lot of emotion and the rest of the band, at the outset lets, as one would expect, the guitar to take the lead. Stevie treads on sacred ground to many when he tackles the Jimi Hendrix track "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". He comes out with out too many bumps and bruises as even the harshest of Hendrix fans agree the cover is well done. "Love Struck Baby" maintains the same feel as other tracks, but for some reason this really has even more bounce to it. The piano work from Wynanas really stands out, with various slides and great fills. The first pass on the guitar solo is slightly muffled and not pulled up in the mix all that well, but it recovers to all of the Stevie glory. The album wraps up with "Change It", sort of standard fare for the record. Nothing earth shattering (at least to these ears).

Where are they now? Chris Layton has been busy with a series of projects and most recently has been the drummer for Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Tommy Shannon audition to replace Bill Wyman in the Rolling Stones. Double Trouble reformed in 2001 and Shannon has worked with a who's who of the rock and blues genre. Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash, following a show at the Alpine Music Theater in Wisconsin on August 26, 1990.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw Stevie Ray Vaughan live.

FDF Overall Take - For someone (like me) that knows very little about the blues, and it honestly sort of "ehh" on the genre as a whole this is a pretty easy record to listen to. It could be there are covers of Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix songs that even the most casual music fan would recognize. The band around this time was battling with drug and alcohol problems and later Stevie would comment it was not their best work. Again, as a casual fan the guitar playing is top notch, it has a pretty simple beat throughout so that doesn't make it too taxing a listen. Like virtually every cd in yours and my collection there is a time and place for certain cds. When the itch strikes you, this would be the perfect lotion for that itch.

Stevie Ray Vaughan fan club site here
Chris Layton on drummer world here
Tommy Shannon has an official site here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

***mp3's have been removed 1/29/08 12:08 pm ET***
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Look at Little Sister

All tracks taken from Live Alive which you can buy

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, December 14, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 79: Various Artists - A Classic Cartoon Christmas

Album - A Classic Cartoon Christmas
Artist - Various
Key Players - Various
Produced By - Rich Cronin, Lee Dannay, Juli Davidson and Ted Green. Complication producer - Ed Mitchell

Release Date - August 13, 1996

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Its the holiday season.

Overview - Growing up for many of us we were relegated to perhaps a black and white tv, rabbit ears and three or four channels. Kids these days have no idea that if you missed any one of these holiday specials you were out of luck. When VCRs became the norm you could get your fill at any time. The stand out moments from these honestly pretty horrible specials was the music. Nick at Night records has released 2 volumes of music culled from these various specials. The sad part is that Vol 1 (showcased here) and Vol 2 are now out of print.

FDF Comments (aka the songs). Here is a track listing. The Holiday Special it comes from listed first, the the song, then the artists that performed them.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas: "Welcome Christmas" (no artist listed) - Sort of a dud to open up a compilation, considering "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch" comes up later. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" - Burl Ives - More than once you hear me say, the version all others are judged by. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: "We're A Couple Of Misfits" - Billie Richards And Paul Soles - Hebie wants to be a dentist.....Frosty The Snowman: "Frosty The Snowman" - Jimmy Durante - the classic "skat" version.. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town: "Put One Foot In Front Of The Other" - Mickey Rooney/Keenan Wynn - one of the best holiday songs. A Charlie Brown Christmas: "Christmas Time Is Here" - The Vince Guaraldi Trio and A Charlie Brown Christmas: "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing" - The Vince Guaraldi Trio - The label has sort of cashed in on this release the last few years, re-releasing expanded versions as well as remastered editions, two of the real stand outs are here. A Muppet Family Christmas: Medley: "Jingle Bells/Jingle Bell Rock" - The Muppets - The Muppets have their place, but much like the Chipmunks hearing this maybe once a year is all anyone needs.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas: "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" Santa Claus Is Coming To Town: "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" - Fred Astaire. Really the version all others are compared to. A Charlie Brown Christmas: "O Tannenbaum" - The Vince Guaraldi Trio. They spaced it out a little on the cd, but see past comments. The Little Drummer Boy: "The Little Drummer Boy" - The Vienna Boys Choir. Does anything really need to be said? Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: "A Holly Jolly Christmas"- Burl Ives And Chorus- once again, the version all others are compared to. A Muppet Family Christmas: "We Need A Little Christmas" - The Muppets - a fair enough closer for the compilation, but I ask, why doesn't Emmet Otters Jug Bad Christmas get ANY love.

FDF Overall Take - Like many, I feel Christmas music is hit and miss. The good stuff is good, the bad stuff (Paul McCartneys Wonderful Christmas Time) is downright horrible. Thank goodness we only get inundated from a few days before Thanksgiving (late November in the US) to about noon time Christmas day.

Links -
As noted this CD and Vol 2 are out of print. If you so desire and got 20+ bucks for the first volume laying around hit up here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, December 07, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 78: Reel Big Fish - Turn the Radio Off

Album - Turn the Radio Off
Artist - Reel Big Fish
Key Players - Aaron Barrett - vocals and lead guitar, Grant Barry - trombone, Andrew Gonzales - drums, Scott Klopfenstein - trumpet and vocals, Dan Regan - trombone, Tavis Werts - trumpet, Matt Wong - bass.
Produced By - Jay Rifkin and John Avila

Release Date - Fall of 1996

What caused me to blow off the dust? - For about a year I could not get enough of ska, or ska-core or what have you. It feels like it has been ages since I listened to more than just a song as it comes up on shuffle on the iPod, so it was time.

Overview - This was the bands major label debut and second release overall. One half of this album is re-recorded versions for the bands earlier output.
The band would gain some success with the lead off track "Sell Out" and tour conistently. The fan base grew as the third wave of ska music took hold and the band would play festivals like the Vans Warped Tour to ravenous crowds. The band has suffered a revolving door of members over the years and musical tastes have changed, but the band soilders on. In 2007 the band released a new studio album Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps For Free and are currently on tour.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Crashing out of the gates you are served up pretty much what you'll get through out with "Sell Out". It is easy to see why this was the lead off single. The guitar has a sharp bite, while the bass and drums firmly hold down the backbeat. The horns will swell, burst a few notes at a time, or be held for a few bars. A song that sets the tone, and should tell the listener right away if this is for them. The horns really get a work out on "Trendy". After the first verse the horns come in, HARD. Its hard to sit still when a band has this much going on (all a positive). By the chorus in a live setting the audience would bounce in unison. Wong really shines holding the chaos in order a late song break down only swells one last time for the chorus. "Join the Club" begins with some vocal tricks with the audio very low and semi distored. After a short verse the band comes up with a more standard ska feel. It remains a solid back before the horns get going before the start of the first verse. It breaks down to a saxaphone solo before it gets rolling once more. Adding a female voice (Monique Powell of Save Ferris) to
"She Has a Girlfriend Now" adds a nice flavor to the song. A song about how a girlfriend now has a girlfriend. Towards the end Ward says what he'd do to save the love inlcuding shaving his armpits and wearing a bra. The final chorus has the horns really firing. An almost marching band like intro with the big notes opens "Snoop Dog, Baby" - an ode to Snoop Dog of course. A little slower over all on this track and is placed almost as "breather" at this point in the album. It does get going as it progresses though. The simple and catchy "Beer" comes up next. Why no beer company to this day (that I can tell) hasn't latched on to this song. Its simple, lyrics (perhaps too touchy) do have a simple line "I think I'll grab myself a beer!". Once again, Wong is the unsung hero on the track. The horns, guitar and drums are all way up in the mix and drive it forward, but Wong is tight as ever. "241" follows. Its primarily an instrumental only broken up by the words "TWO FOUR ONE!" (the song is actually 2 minutes 41 seconds as well..coincidence?). It allows the trumpet work of Klopfenstein to shine. With clicks off the bass drum the wonderfly catchy "Everything Sucks" follows (see the download and tell me I am wrong). Gonzales has the turn to shine here keeping the pace. The fun "oohs" under the verse and just singing "Everything Sucks". The horns that lead to to the chorus kick proverbial ass....a classic if you will. "S.R." doesn't even clock in at a 90 seconds long. The drums have the crisp thwack they have had all long and the horns are as tight as ever, its just over so quick. One of the weaker tracks "Skatanic" follows. Musically its the same but there is a whole section that involves "growl singing" and it honestly is a turn off. Some may dig it, but more often than not this is a skippable track. The band quickly saves themselves with the very catch, and bass lead "All I Want Is More". Slide trombone and chipper horns break way to the crunchy guitar and drums. "Nothin'" keeps steers the boat right along. The final verse/chorus is a chatoic sing along of "I don't F**king care anymore". It eases up some with "Say 'Ten'", a little more bouncy safe song. The bass slaps down and the drums click off with a smooth saxaphone line to kick off "I'll Never Be", one of the real hidden gems on the cd. It gets cooking musically, then as the first verse is sung it sort of "mellows out" some with Wong's bass work leading the rush. The real fun part of this song is the chorus. The long held notes from the horn section as the vocals are pushed. We hardly slow down as "Alternative, Baby" gets rolling. The horn section is very tight and always held up live and once more the chorus (once you know the lyrics) is an instant sing along don't you wanna be my friend!!! and the breakdown of slap bass and horns lead into a great trumpet solo, screetching guitar brings it all should be dancing by now..really. That pretty much wraps up the record barring a "hidden" track which is rough acoustic rendition of the song "I'm Cool" which was on the first album. It is rough, but die hards might like to hear the early process of a songs development.

Where are they now? - Matt Wong, a fan favorite, left the band to spend more time with his wife and newborn child in June of 2007 shortly before the new album was released. Andrew Gonzales left the band after a few albums to spend more time with his family. Grant Barry was fired from the band in 1998, one rumored reason is that he struck a security guard at a show, but the band had said it was personal reasons. Tavis left the band mostly due to differences with Barrett. He decided to go back to school. Dan Regan, Scott Klopfenstein and Aaron Barrett are still working/touring/recording in Reel Big Fish

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The first time was at the Middle East Downstairs in the winter of 96 or early part of 97 (I don't have my ticketstub) and Reel Big Fish was actually opening for the band Goldfinger. The second time was September 26, 1997 at Lupos in Providence. I went with a few like minded fans and we had such a rip roaring good time. We didn't stop moving (and neither did the rest of the place, it was a sweatbox of fun). A year later, almost to the day (Sept 28, 1998) we did it all over again. The band used to do fun covers and at these Lupos shows we got a great cover version of "Take on Me" by A-Ha and the other a great fun/different version of "Hungry Like the Wolf" from Duran Duran (see download won't cha?) The last few years I have had intentions of seeing them, but they seem to be on a festival circut (cut to a 30 minute set?) or playing with 4 or more bands at a time. The live show was so much fun I honestly would love to do it again.

FDF Overall Take - Fans of ska music in general are a fussy bunch, no more than fans of other genres of music but they'd be quick to point out this not punk, or ska or what have you. Overall its fun listen. It might not be something one can play every day, but for a while this was in constant rotation. Sometimes the sublte things make an album stand out for you. For example when I listened to this to do the write up I found myself singing the horn parts, or quickly recalling "I loved this bridge/break down"

The band's official site.
The band on myspace

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

***MP3's REMOVED JANUARY 11,2008***
Sell Out
She Has A Girlfriend Now
Everything Sucks
I'll Never Be
Alternative Baby

You can buy the cd here

Special Bonus download

Reel Big Fish doing "Hungry Like the Wolf" from Duran Duran.
Hungry Like the Wolf (Removed)

You can buy the whole cd here

Just a heads up!
If you linked to this site, or were directed right to this post, check out the Main Page for this site and you can see and get the last few weeks worth of FDF mp3's.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.