It's Greener On This Side

 Greener Grass
[Tangy Citrus-2020]

Jostaberry (the stage name of one Bruce Hamilton) is a one man wrecking ball out of the Pacific Northwest with designs on tearing down your preconceptions of what art/avant garde/prog rock is supposed to be. 

On this debut album, Greener Grass—an almost hour-long worth of twists and unpredictable turns—an alluring and seductive piano part can segue seamlessly into a disconcerting but appealingly schizophrenic detour or a grinding assault with a catchy melody can leave you grinning in satisfying disbelief. That’s what this one’s all about.     


Although certainly a lo-fi record whose charms are accentuated by the method used to preserve it, at times one can’t help but think what it could’ve sounded like if it had been recorded under more hi-fidelity circumstances. Regardless, the high-caliber quality of the songs themselves are the selling point here and the album delivers the goods in that department, without question.


A promising opening salvo recommended for fans of Cornelius, Flaming Lips, Todd Rundgren’s ‘A Wizard…A True Star’ phase, and Super Furry Animals. 


Highlights: “Zeus”, “Mountain Song”, “Nocturne”, “All Ears”, “Someone Else”, “The Bus” and the title track.



The Go-Gos documentary premieres July 31

These ladies came from the L.A. punk scene but cleaned up for the mainstream. That was just their image, tho: behind closed doors they were rumored to be as raunchy as Mötley Crüe. I always liked that. And them, of course. Looking forward to this.


Lost and Found: 'Sideways/Backwards'

Best known as guitarist for NYC's No Wave outfit China Shop, Steve Cohen's synth experiments on Sideways/Backwards, under the Aircraft banner, are a trippy cross between Patrick O'Hearn's mid '80s instrumental soundscapes and some of the more interesting and similar forays found on McCartney II, but colored by Cohen's deft touch and unique sensibilities.

A long lost gem.


Today in Music History (July 26)

1968 – The Jackson Five sign a one-year contract with Motown Records.

1969 – Johnny Cash releases the single, “A Boy Named Sue”, a song written by Shel Silverstein.

1970 – Jimi Hendrix plays in his hometown of Seattle for the last time.

1975 – Van McCoy reaches #1 with “The Hustle”, his only chart hit in the US.

1977 – Led Zeppelin cut short their 11th North American tour after Robert Plant's five-year-old son Karac dies unexpectedly of a virus at their home in England.

1980 – The Rolling Stones start a seven week run at #1 with Emotional Rescue, their eighth album to hit #1 in the US. Emotional Rescue was the first Rolling Stones album recorded following Keith Richards' exoneration from a Toronto drugs charge that could have landed him in jail for years.

1986 – Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” goes to #1. It eventually becomes the most played music video in the history of MTV.

1990 – Grateful Dead keyboardist and vocalist Brent Mydland is found dead on the floor of his home at the age of 38 from a drug overdose. His eleven-year tenure was longer than that of any other keyboardist in the band.

1992 – Mary Wells, referred to as The First Lady of Motown, dies of cancer at the age of 49. Wells was forced to give up her career and with no health insurance, was forced to sell her home.

2006 – The final edition of Top Of The Pops is recorded at the BBC Television Centre in London.

2013 – Singer-songwriter JJ Cale dies of a heart attack at the age of 74. He was best known for the songs “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” which Eric Clapton covered and popularized.

2017 – A jury awards Quincy Jones $9.4 million in royalties for the use of Michael Jackson songs he produced in two Cirque du Soleil shows and the This Is It documentary. Jones filed suit in 2013, asking for $30 million.

Today’s Birthdays include…Bobby Hebb of “Sunny” fame and the great Darlene Love (both 79); Sir Michael Phillip Jagger (77); Queen drummer Roger Taylor (71); former Extreme and Van Halen singer Gary Cherone and Swing Out Sister’s Andy Connell (59); former Sum 41 guitarist Dave Baksh (40).


Milestones: 'Kill 'Em All'

By the way, there's another important heavy record with an anniversary today. One by a certain Bay Area combo you may have heard of.
Yeah, can't let the legendary Aussies have the party to themselves, you know?

Released July 25, 1983.


Milestones: 'Back in Black'

Has it really been 40 years, 50 million copies sold worldwide and now generations of fans grooving to this album? Yes, indeed.

It was their seventh album, second with producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, and first with new singer Brian Johnson which catapulted them to mass international success, as well as eventually being recognized as among the greatest albums in the history of rock and roll.
But the beauty of it all—if one could use such a term with this band and this album in particular—is that stripped of all the myth and legend, at the end of the day, it’s a collection of, as the cliché goes, all killer no filler, that sounds so, so good and rocks as hard as it did on that summer day it was released all those years ago.
If, as the lyrics state on album closer and fourth and final single “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution", this music “ain't never gonna die”, then these 10 songs will very likely have something to do with it. Yeah...

Recorded in the Bahamas and mixed in New York City, this perennial favorite was released July 25, 1980.

Thursday Throwback: Black Sabbath [1971]


Milestones: 'Appetite for Destruction' [1987]

If at the time you felt the Winger-Warrant-Poison contingent was a joke and the Metallica-Slayer-Megadeth-Anthrax front was a tad intense, you could probably turn to Aerosmith, right? Except they were in the midst of a, um, permanent vacation. Talk about the right place at the right time, huh?

One of the greatest debuts in rock and roll history (and the best selling debut album ever by a rock band), it still rocks as hard as it did then. Hell, maybe harder now.

Released July 21st, 1987.

Today in Music History (July 21)

1967 - The Jimi Hendrix Experience play the first of three nights at the Cafe-a-Go-Go in New York City.

1969 - The Beatles start work on the John Lennon song “Come Together” at Abbey Road studios in London. It became the opening song on The Beatles' Abbey Road album and was later released as a double A-side single with George Harrison’s “Something”.

1973 - Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” begins a two week run at #1. Croce was killed in a plane crash three months later.

1977 - Despite protests, the Sex Pistols make their first appearance on the UK music show Top Of The Pops where they lip-synched to their third single, "Pretty Vacant". The performance helped push the song up the charts to #7 there.

1987 - Guns N' Roses release their debut album Appetite For Destruction becoming the best-selling debut album by a band in the US.

1990 - Roger Waters' performance of The Wall takes place at the Berlin Wall in Potzdamer Platz, Berlin to commemorate the fall of the Wall eight months earlier. Over 350,000 people attended and the event was broadcast live throughout the world, with Van Morrison, Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell, The Scorpions, Cyndi Lauper, Sinead O’Connor and others taking part.

1994 - Oasis play their first ever American show as part of the New Music Seminar at Wetlands in New York City.

1995 - A judge in Los Angeles throws out a lawsuit against Michael Jackson by five of his former security guards. The guards had claimed they were fired for knowing too much about night-time visits by young boys to Jackson's estate. Jackson denied any improprieties.

2002 - Producer Gus Dudgeon, who worked with artists including Elton John, David Bowie, The Beach Boys, Kiki Dee, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, The Strawbs, XTC, and Joan Armatrading, is killed at the age of 59 in a car accident along with his wife Sheila.

2004 - Composer Jerry Goldsmith dies after a long battle with cancer at the age of 75. Goldsmith created the music for scores of classic movies and television shows including Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Dr. Kildare.

2005 - Long John Baldry, one of the founding fathers of British rock 'n' roll in the 1960s, dies of a chest infection. He was the inspiration for half of Reginald Dwight’s stage name: Elton John. (Sir Elton legally changed his name in 1972.)

2007 - Music mogul Don Arden, nicknamed “the Al Capone of Pop” for his uncompromising business practices, dies at the age of 81 at a Los Angeles nursing home. Arden managed Black Sabbath, ELO and the Small Faces and was the father of Sharon Osbourne.

2017 - Justin Bieber is banned from performing in China, according to Beijing's Culture Bureau. In a statement, the ministry said it was not appropriate to allow in entertainers who have engaged in "bad behavior." Bieber who had previously toured China in 2013, joined a long list of similarly blacklisted artists like Oasis and Maroon 5.

Today’s Birthdays include…Herman’s Hermits drummer Barry Whitwam (74); singer/songwriter Cat Stevens aka Yusef Islam (72); and former Faith No More guitarist Jim Martin (59).


Nothing's Shocking Anymore

When it comes right down to it, these guys have made 4 albums—one in each decade of their existence (1988, 1990, 2003, 2011) over a span of 30+ years. The first two are alt-rock classics; the other two, well…
In short, not the best batting average out there.

As someone who is still under the spell of those aforementioned classics (Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual) all these decades later, their subsequent output has been both deflating and disappointing. Their last time out, they essentially left behind their classic sound and with TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek on board, contributing to the album on bass guitar and songwriting, they aimed for a darker but less aggressive and less intense sound than they are known for. If Shocking and Ritual were beacons shining thru a fog, The Great Escape Artist is the fog itself.

After his triumphant return to the band, a decade after his departure, original bassist Eric Avery decided his stint would be limited to live performances and voiced his disinterest in recording new material with Farrell, Navarro and Perkins. (Did he hear these new songs and bail? Hmm…) Enter GnR’s Duff McKagan, who spent nine months with the band but left before the recording of this album due to creative differences. (No, really.) He did, however, work with them during the writing phase and contributed to two of the album’s songs. This is one of them.

I guess this was just a long, drawn out way of saying that this is the only thing on the album that caught my ear. And if they continue with their release pattern and put out another album during this new decade, I might check it out for old time’s sake, but my heart belongs to those first two records that blew my mind and remain their greatest musical statements.

Who knows? Maybe they’ve got another great one in them. I’ll wait in a comfortable chair, tho.