August 2018

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

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Speaking Rock celebrates Generation X

Leave it to Speaking Rock to give you the best bang for your buck. Of course, free is really hard to beat any way you slice it, but this time they have upped their own ante by offering you four trips back to the ’90s in one evening with “Gen X Summer.” The show features Buckcherry, who play El Paso so often they might as well own a home here. It really doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen them, they always put on an unforgettable show. The other three on tap haven’t taken up residency in our town, so seeing them again might be a challenge. P.O.D., whose last disc was in 2015 and is still on most rock radio rotations, is also on the bill. Next up is Lit, whose last CD came out less than a year ago after a five-year hiatus, and whose fantastic pop punk roots are still as exposed as they have ever been. Lastly is Alien Ant Farm, who first caught our attention with their unique remake of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and have half a dozen discs to their name. So don’t forget to set your calendars back to 1990-something on Aug. 25.

Roger Daltrey, “As Long As I Have You,” Republic Records

It has been well over a decade since the legendary — and unfortunately sometimes disrespected for their place in rock history — band The Who has released an album of new material. There have been more reissues than I have fingers and toes, but when it comes to fresh tracks it seems the well has run dry, but not quite. The next best thing happened recently when lead singer Roger Daltrey put out his brand-new solo disc, his first time stepping out alone in over a quarter-century. This is not to be dismissed as a typical side project, especially with Pete Townshend, his Who cohort for the last 50 years, appearing on seven of the 11 cuts. The album “As Long as I Have You,” is dusted in blues, lightly dipped in soul and guitar heavy. The last is obviously due to his previously mentioned very special guest. It’s primarily cover versions, but “How Far,” penned by Stephen Still, sounds as if it was ripped directly from The Who’s catalogue. Daltrey’s voice has never sounded better, so it’s easy to forget that he’s 74 years old. As long as we have Roger we’ll have some fantastic music coming out of The Who camp.

Gin Blossoms, “Mixed Reality,” Cleopatra Records

Almost a decade ago the Gin Blossoms released their last recording of new material, and a short year after that Cleopatra records put out their first official live disc. That was the start of a great relationship because the label now lays claim to their new very ambitious CD with 15 originals. Time hasn’t touched this band, who brought us “Hey Jealousy” more than a quarter-century ago. They sound just as good as they did then with their new album “Mixed Reality,” even upping things on the production side with legendary producer Don Dixon, who helped bring in the jangle pop movement of the early ’80s. He wears both mixer and producer hats, so you know this is going to be pure pop perfection. Among the standout tunes is “Girl on the Side,” a tenderly sung song with a very unfortunate message. The two songs that turn the volume to eleven sound like polar opposites, with one boasting “Still Some Room in Heaven” and the other exclaiming the benefits of the “Devil’s Daughter,” the latter ranking as the raciest Gin Blossoms songs ever, with sex, drugs and general debauchery. With that, welcome to the Gin Blossoms “Mixed Reality.”

Arthur Buck, “Arthur Buck,” New West Records

This brand-new duo collectively has over a million albums — OK I exaggerate, but these are no spring chickens, but some well-seasoned veterans. The new collaboration simply known as Arthur Buck features Joseph Arthur and Peter Buck. Joseph Arthur, was discovered in the mid ’90s by Peter Gabriel and released a trio of discs for his Real World label, then returned in 2016. In between he put out over 25 EP’s and LP’s. His last outing was as a member of RNDM with Pearl Jam’s bassist Jeff Ament. Peter Buck has done time with the Minus 5, Baseball Project and many others, and most notably known for his life sentence as a founding member of R.E.M. The new collection blends both their alternative singer-songwriter sensibilities, throws them in a blender with some trippy and hypnotic sounds, sets it to frappe and pours it liberally over a heap of electronic beats. The vocals are handled by Arthur, who can go from a whisper to growl in the blink of an eye. If you are a fan of either one, or any of their previous incarnations, you know you are in for something special. If it is all new to you, start here and head happily right down that rabbit hole.

Collectibles: Guns N’ Roses, “Appetite for Destruction,” Geffen Records

The tour that most thought would never happen is now two and a half years in, with no signs of stopping. There’s no better time to reintroduce the world to what started it all. “Appetite for Destruction” easily ranks as one of last century’s top albums. Guns N’ Roses aren’t about to let this opportunity slip away, and that is clearly evident with four different versions hitting store shelves, plus deluxe vinyl. The holy grail of it all has to be their “Locked N’ Loaded Edition.” It starts with the amazing packaging. It is housed in a custom 12x12x12-inch solid-wood box cabinet that features a hand-sculpted and hand-painted 3D logo cross on its front door, with a 96-page book, replica tickets, flyers, temporary tattoos and head shots, and that is barely scratching the surface. Then there is of course the music, featuring 73 tracks with 49 being previously unreleased, four CD’s and a Blu-Ray DVD, as well as full-length wax platters, and seven 45’s. This is of course the version you need but if you don’t feel like taking out a small loan, you can always opt for “Super Deluxe” and still get both electric and acoustic versions of their rendition of the Rolling Stones “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the acoustic “Move to the City” and all the other amazing Sound City sessions. If you have a large Appetite for all things Guns N Roses, which you should, then this will be very satiating.

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

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