April 2017

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

Local: Come watch Inn of the Mountain Gods shoot off a 38 Special

Ruidoso’s Inn of the Mountain Gods is going to turn back the clocks once again, but this time it’s not hair metal or elder statesmen of country. The band in question hasn’t released a new batch of material in years, but they lit up the charts in the early to mid ’80s. On April 7 the casino will be packing heat with 38 Special, a group that blends the deep-fried southern sounds of the Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker Band, a ladle full of arena rock guitar and, of course, a side helping of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The last of that lot can’t be denied when the founding ringleader was Donnie Van Zant, brother of Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant. Lately the band has been doing the casino rounds, but that doesn’t mean that the group has been whittled down to a sole original member. The current incarnation features a few players from their ’70s outings, including their lead vocalist, and the rest of the cast has been playing together for over a quarter-century. Mark your calendar for the first Friday in April and be sure to be “Rockin’ Into the Night” with 38 Special.

National: Black Sabbath, “Ultimate Collection,” Rhino Records

After a successful reunion and scoring a No. 1 album on the UK charts, an accomplishment that they haven’t achieved for close to half a century, the boys (senior citizens) in Black Sabbath decided to visit the past. They are taking this journey via the Rhino records release, “The Ultimate Collection.” This is a proper celebration of the band’s music for those who are particularly partial to the Ozzy Osbourne years, and honestly we all know those are the only ones that really matter. This period made them one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time. The release was curated personally by the group and remastered for the best possible sound. The double-disc set features 31 cuts, so you can rest assured all your favorites are there. The collection also includes some instrumentals and a B side. Since we are talking Black Sabbath, go the distance on this one and pick up the limited edition “Crucifold” edition, a heavyweight four-LP vinyl version that folds out in the shape of the cross.

Afghan Whigs, “In Spades,” Sub Pop

An ominous tone is set with the darkly intriguing opening track, but go ahead and throw caution to the wind, you’ll be glad you did. Welcome to “In Spades,” the latest masterpiece by Afghan Whigs, the band that reconvened a few years ago after a decade and a half absence. During the hiatus, frontman Greg Dulli appeared in many other projects, but he didn’t deliver this much passion and power as he did with the Whigs. The reunion that produced their previous effort, “Do the Beast,” has reignited their brand of furious soul-drenched rock ’n’ roll. Their guitars soar, the vocals snarl and the bass pounds, all accented by the addition of an incredible horn section, lush orchestral arrangements and a serious R&B flavor infection. Lyrically things move down a dark path with mortality weaving itself into many tracks, most evident in “I Got Lost,” written in the wake of learning that longtime collaborator Dave Rosser had been diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer. “In Spades” probably won’t make your next party playlist, but if you are looking for utter brilliance then Afghan Whigs has it “In Spades” on this one.

Dan Baird, “SoLow,” JCPL

He dropped the “Homemade Sin” and took on all the guitar, bass and vocal duties himself. He enlisted a proper background vocalist after attempting it himself with some studio magic, and employed a drummer, but otherwise making this a very close attempt at a total solo record. Dan Baird has always played by his own rules. He must have found 2013’s “Circus Life” agreed with him, because he’s back with another stellar disc. As the former frontman for the Georgia Satellites, he has been very busy in the new millennium. He came flying out of the gate with both his own record and a collection with his band the Yahoos in the same year. Since then he has gone it alone for a few, did a trio of platters with another new group, the Bluefields, but it is solo time once again. The latest is aptly named “SoLow.” The album features his trademark gritty, raucous vocals, and a bounty of fuzz-filled guitars and bales of twanged-out honky-tonk perfection. It is filled with the soul of the south and cow punk slathered generously through the dozen cuts. As Dan himself puts it, “This record dealt with me aging and the passage of time and loss. In other words, all the sh** that happens when you forget to die young.” “SoLow” is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, from a one-of-a-kind musician.

Collectibles: Pot of vinyl gold awaits at end of Record Store Day rainbow

Many collectors may debate whether it is time to dip into the 401k, perhaps take out a second mortgage or get a second job. Maybe it isn’t that extreme but the bank breaker is here once again. The thing that music junkies around the world are jonesing for is Record Store Day. This is the 10th anniversary and with that comes the onslaught of rarities. Let’s kick things off with the bizarre: Actor Corey Feldman gets some help from Snoop Dogg on a new tune, and a famous disc jockey of the 1960s unveils a full-length picture disc with his band The Wolfpack. The name of the game this year, more than ever, is excruciatingly, painfully limited releases in which immensely desirable artists are being pressed. The likes of Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, The Kinks and Motorhead, to name a few, all coming in at under 3,000 copies made. Seven-inch vinyl 45s also have a strong presence and represent almost all colors of the rainbow and beyond with some unique swirling. Some interesting names on this configuration include Dolly Parton, Alice in Chains, Blondie, The Germs, Pearl Jam and a whole lot more. There are also some platters with music that has never been heard before, ranging from the Black Crowes with Jimmy Page to Jason Isbell to David Crosby, and so much more in between. The head scratcher that always seems to make an appearance is by Beatle Paul McCartney, who will debut a cassette tape of rare demos. “Huh?” A cassette tape for record store day? And they wonder why the music industry is in trouble?

Look for these new and upcoming releases:

Erasure — “World Be Gone”
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit — “The Nashville Sound”
Mark Lanegan Band — “Gargoyle”

Brian Chozick is owner of Tumblin’
Dice Music. Drop him a line at
tumblindicemusic@netscape.net.

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