November 2017

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

Step back in time with ‘I Love the ’90s’ at SW Univ. Park

When it comes to nostalgia tours, ’80s rock has been big business in recent years, but now the ’90s is the new retro. So some nutty promoters decided to give us the wackiest road show we have seen in a while. This is either someone’s dream or a nightmare more terrifying than any ghoul or goblin could dream up. If it’s your dream, then it will come true Oct. 28 when Southwest University Park welcomes “I Love the 90’s.” This concert features six acts from the era that dominated MTV and radio. The concert is primarily pop, R&B and dance heavy, with a lineup that includes Snap of “The Power” and “Rhythm Is a Dancer” fame. The dance pop side also includes C&C Music Factory, with four hits under their belt. All-4-One will handle the tender love ballads, and former Entertainment Tonight host and Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath will keep the rock side of the party going with a bevy of Top Ten songs from the decade. Lastly, rap is represented by Tone Loc bringing his “Funky Cold Medina.” Headlining the event is Salt n’ Pepa, who will push it real good and talk about sex all night long.

Bash & Pop, “Friday Night is Killing Me,” Omnivore Records

After 24 years since this album’s first release, Tommy Stinson has gone back to the beginning by way of Omnivore Records, a label that unearths long-forgotten masterpieces and not only puts them back in circulation but upgrades their sound and expands on their greatness. This disc first came out after the crumbling of his first band, the Replacements, and decades before he joined Guns N’ Roses for the “Chinese Democracy” era. “Friday Night is Killing Me” in its original form was very close to his former band’s heart, with a punky, Stones-y sound, and touches of rootsy twang bubbling under. There were 11 cuts, each one leaving you anxious for the next. The new double-disc collection tacks on 18 more tracks, with home demos, alternate versions, an instrumental and unreleased tracks. The last on the list criminally takes up only three slots (and one of those occupied a space on the “Clerks” movie soundtrack). These songs are simply amazing and it is baffling why they were originally omitted. Even the sole instrumental is so intriguing that it beckons for lyrical content … maybe on the next reissue.

Living Colour, “Shade,” Megaforce Records

Each member of this band has now passed the half-century mark, and it’s been nearly three decades since Mick Jagger produced and provided backup vocals for their track “Glamour Boys.” The world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band even gave them the coveted opening slot on the 1989 “Steel Wheels” tour. This quartet last surfaced eight years ago, and even that was after an extended hiatus. Their overall output has been spotty at best. Between breakups, solo projects and lead vocalist Corey Glover bizarrely taking a spot as a VJ on VH-1, the band has not been the most dependable for consistent releases. Yet they’ve been very reliable in their later days making every release heavier and heavier. Their newest is “Shade,” an energetic combustible monster with a loud wailing guitar, a constant rattle of the percussion section, some super-funked horns and enraged vocals. Its mood is reminiscent of 1993’s “Stain” with dark themes, but it keeps the pedal pressed to the floor for all 13 tracks. There’s a brief moment on “Black Out” where the ghost of Prince seems to step up to the mic, just to see if we are paying attention. Overall this is a comeback like no other, and has them kicking, screaming, and demanding some well overdue attention.

Dave Davies & Russ Davies, “Open Road,” Red River Entertainment

Brother Ray released a solo album this year, so it makes sense that Dave would have something to say as well — but with some help from another family member. It wasn’t his bickering sibling, but with his son Russ instead. Both Dave and Ray were part of The Kinks, and their 2017 releases share a low-key approach. Both vocal styles have traditional storytelling tone and both have amazing harmonies. Dave’s young newcomer kicks Pa in the backside every now and again with some more rocking numbers, accented with some serious guitar soloing. He also brings in touches of his day job as an accomplished electronic/dance musician. The prime example comes in the form of the title track, “Open Road,” complete with a beat that will be foreign to most Kinks fans. Don’t let that scare you; it is a stellar cut. The hope now is while Dave and son are on the “Open Road” they will pick up brother Ray so the The Kinks 2.0 can finally record some new music.

Collectibles: Frank Zappa, “Halloween 77,” Zappa Family Trust and Universal

I have never professed to be an expert in the world of Frank Zappa, but have always been partial to his music. I even spent many of my early teens hunting down his “Sheik Yerbouti,” eventually ending up with an immaculate Japanese vinyl pressing and breaking my piggy bank. The thing I am really a sucker for is elaborate packaging — sadly it doesn’t always even matter what the music is, a good wrapping can usually pull me in. The great thing is “Halloween 77” boldly checks off both boxes. Let’s start with the music itself. The songs are from Oct. 28-31, 1977, where he and his band played six historic shows at The Palladium in New York City. This is being released in its entirety, with all 158 tracks mixed in 2016, coming from original vault masters. Now for the packaging: All of this will be loaded onto a “Zappa’s Oh Punky” fun-size, candy bar-shaped USB drive in 24-bit WAV audio. This ultra-limited set will include a retro Halloween mask featuring his likeness and a costume of Zappa himself. If you are reading this before Halloween, act fast and you can say “Trick or Treat” as Frank Zappa.

Keep an eye out for these releases:

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds — “Who Built The Moon?”
Gram Parsons — “A Song for You”
Seal — “Standards”
Neil Young — “The Cow Palace”

Brian Chozick is owner of Tumblin’
Dice Music. Drop him a line at

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