September 2017

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

The show that will happen

Ozzy Osbourne had a run of shows named the “No More Tours Tour,” The Who has had countless treks across the globe with the moniker “Farewell Tour,” but Guns N Roses wins the prize for a misleading tour title. “Not in this Lifetime” was actually the response lead singer Axl Rose gave to a reporter a few years back, which at the time made perfect sense as members of the band had not been on speaking terms for over two decades. This is all fantastic news for us here in the Sun City as the band has made the Sun Bowl a stop for this momentous happening, even though the original band is not fully intact. Missing in action are original drummer Steven Adler, who has made a few surprise appearances along the way, and integral rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin. They are still running with three out of five. Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan take the field Sept. 6. The set list is heavy on the band’s debut album and its Illusions album, and they have added to their standard covers with some unusual remake choices. Be sure to get there early as that little band from Texas, ZZ Top, opens the show (see the end of this column for their latest vault treasure).

Alex Dezen, “Alex Dezen II,” Poor Man Records

His band the Damnwells were dormant for close to a decade, then crafted one of their best albums ever with a full-fledged original band lineup. It has been two years since that magical release and this must have unlocked a creative wellspring: Lead singer songwriter Alex Dezen has delivered another solo release. For those keeping score that’s three discs since 2015. The collection doesn’t derail far from what we have come to love from him, but this one has a decidedly folkier storyteller feel. The disc quickly paints a very graphic picture with the second cut, “Holding on to You (Holding on to Me),” which goes into explicit nature bodily fluids exchanged in an undisclosed location on Sunset Blvd. He continues to get right to the point with “I am a Racist,” which vividly attacks racism in America. On the unprintable titled 7th track he weighs two diametrically opposed thoughts. If that doesn’t even have you mildly interested, and if nothing else to find out what the title is, you Damnwell better check your pulse because this is certainly worth your time.

Matthew Sweet, “Tomorrow Forever,” Honeycomb Hideout

His career started over 30 years ago and grew largely thanks to a very devoted cult following. He was a critical darling since the start, and even bubbled up commercially in 1991 for a few moments, but it’s a crime that mass acceptance was never received for Matthew Sweet. He shook off his Bangles counterpart about a decade ago, well after he said goodbye to his old friends, fellow singer-songwriters Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins. But on this outing he has picked up some new famous faces, including a different member from a band that “Walked Like An Egyptian.” It was 2011 when we last heard his sugar-sweet sounds in solo form, which may be the reason for the new “Tomorrow Forever,” bursting with 17 original cuts. At 52, he is still the master craftsman when it comes to power pop. His magic formula includes jangly guitar, under four-minute tracks and naturally some great harmonies. The new cast of characters includes Debbie Peterson of the Bangles, Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, and the Zombies’ Rod Argent. I hope his idea of “Tomorrow Forever” isn’t another six years, but if it is, we’ll need another dose of fructose sooner than that.

Hard Working Americans, “We’re in this Together,” Melvin Records

Church is in session and the one and only Todd Snider amassed an impressive congregation in the summer of 2016, primarily in Alabama. Of course he isn’t singing this sermon by himself — he has his trusted Hard Working Americans band with him, consisting of Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools, Chris Robinson Brotherhood Band’s Neal Casal, younger brother of guitar virtuoso Derek drummer Duane Trucks, and keyboardist Chad Staehly. The later takes over the pulpit with his keys with a stellar version of “Stomp and Holler.” With only two proper albums in their catalogue. it might seem premature for a concert disc — but that kind of thinking is blasphemy because all the cuts see a refreshing new light under Todd’s tutelage in a live setting. The show ends with a rollicking rendition of Chuck Berry’s “School Days.” The band once again proves not only are they Hard Working Americans, but also one of the hardest working bands out there with this killer performance.

Collectibles: ZZ Top, “ZZ Top: Cinco,” Rhino Records

Before they show up on the Sun Bowl stage, you may want to take some time to find out where it all began for these boys from the Lone Star State. Luckily for us Rhino records has made that easier by taking us back close to half century ago. The label has upgraded their first vinyl records, presenting them in the limited edition “ZZ Top: Cinco The First Five LPs” box set. Each platter’s audio is taken from the original London Masters, pressed on 180-gram audiophile quality vinyl, and all artwork has been faithfully replicated. The box itself is made to look like the custom “Nudie Suit” the band would wear back in the day. The collection starts off with the aptly named “ZZ Top’s First Album,” which introduces us to their blend of blues, rock, southern sound and humorous moments. “Rio Grande Mud” was their sophomore effort and you can feel the band start to get their stride. Next up is “Tres Hombres” — this one got a lot of love, especially with “Waitin’ for the Bus,” “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” and “La Grange,” the last always being a concert favorite. Then comes the bizarre “Fandango” with half the tracks being live and the other cuts new studio songs. This one gave us “Tush.” Lastly is “Tejas.” Start cramming because the final exam is Sept. 6.

Keep an eye out for these releases:

Foo Fighters — “Concrete And Gold”
The Killers — “Wonderful Wonderful”
Living Colour — “Shade”
Motörhead — “Under Cover”
Toadies — “The Lower Side Of Uptown”

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

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