September 2018

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

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Local: Rock Radio Returns to Inn of the Mountain Gods

This Sept. 14, head to the mountains as the forecast calls for a flurry of hits covering two separate decades. Inn of The Mountain Gods is offering 2000s chart toppers 3 Doors Down and ’90s rock radio dominators Collective Soul, billed as the “The Rock & Roll Express Tour.” Collective Soul will open the show, which might seem strange considering the number of Top 10 tracks they’ve had. But this is a co-headlining tour and both bands are sure to deliver complete sets. Neither group is supporting new material, but their last releases were only a few years ago, so it’s not a revival tour either. If they have fallen off your radar, a quick refresher includes the tracks, “Kryptonite,” “Loser,” “Be Like That,” “Shine,” “She Said,” “The World I Know” and “Gel,” and that barely scratches the surface. No need to choose a favorite — it’s sure to be a fantastic show, so jump on board the Rock & Roll Express as it heads to the mountains.

National: Ray Davies, “Our Country: Americana Act 2,” Legacy Records

In 2013 he wrote a memoir, and putting pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard apparently also inspired getting that voice back to the microphone after a decade-long absence. Former Kinks frontman Ray Davies last year decided to take the concept of an audio book to an entirely new level; while not a direct reading, the songs were inspired by the book. Apparently he has a lot more to say, this time with a little more punch. In July he rolled out “Our Country: Americana Act 2.” The 19-track disc follows the same theme as before, even sprinkling a few narrations direct from his pages. His writing takes us on a journey through America, the early days of his former band and slice-of-life observations, and is heavy on what New Orleans means to him. The sound is a bit more upbeat, adding some swing and horns, and even dusting off a pair of Kinks classics. The cool, constant strum of guitar and incredible harmonies wash through most tracks, which makes perfect sense as he has once again enlisted Americana greats the Jayhawks as his backing band. The disc comes to a close with Ray getting his revenge on his mugger in “Muswell Kills” (you know you’re curious).

Enuff Z’ Nuff, “Diamond Boy,” Frontiers Music SRL

With a track record of only four releases in this new millennium, who would have thought we would hear from these guys so soon. One of those discs only came out a year and a half ago, but was unreleased material culled from the vault. That doesn’t matter when it comes to power pop greats Enuff Z’ nuff. Original member bassist and vocalist Chip Z’ Nuff is basically doing all the heavy lifting, since the rest of the band has only been on board since a little before the last release. That is truly all that is needed, because it sounds just as syrupy sweet as it did more than three decades ago. He still has a knack for combining all that is good with hair metal (there is plenty, trust me) and proper amounts of glam. “Diamond Boy” shines immediately following the minute-long instrumental opener (a very questionable decision, but just drop the needle on the second cut from the start). The other ten tracks are their typical fare: love, drugs, girls, and rock ’n’ roll. A few seem to be painfully biographical but that kind of misery has never sounded so good. “Diamond Boy” is an absolute gem in the Enuff Z’ Nuff catalogue.
The Jayhawks, “Back Roads and Abandoned Motels,” Legacy Records

After backing the legendary Kinks vocalist for the last two years, The Jayhawks must have been inspired to strike out on their own again. The alt. country pioneers are back with an album of cover versions. Don’t be disappointed if you were psyched for originals — these are remakes of songs by the band’s very own leader Gary Louris that he had penned for the likes of the Dixie Chicks, Jacob Dylan, Emerson Hart of Tonic and many more. So he is basically covering himself, but for the first time. Now that this is clear as mud, we can move on to how incredible the disc is. “Back Roads and Abandoned Motels” features their acoustic country folk sound, with an injection of alternative that seems to diminish slightly with every release. Their lush harmonies throughout are as strong as ever. Each track easily surpasses the version created by another artist, which begs the question why he ever gave these away in the first place. The collection also includes two new tracks that will make many wish he had set them free as well. Another stellar release to keep me following them down any back road to any abandoned motel.

Collectibles: Rolling Stones, “From the Vault: No Security – San Jose 1999,” Eagle Rock

About a month ago Mick Jagger turned 75, and around that time Eagle Rock Entertainment released “From the Vault: No Security – San Jose 1999,” a two CD & DVD set that is another installment of their “From The Vault” series. As I watched it, the band’s energy once again amazed me. Of course Mick was 55 then, not 75, but even then he and the boys ran circles around groups half their age. The patented Keith Richards double-pump leg move literally kicked off the show. The entire performance is incredible. I’ve seen them more times than I care to admit and I know it’s the electricity that keeps me coming back. This was actually a more laid-back affair. There were no inflatables, no bells, or whistles; it was all about the music, and the band was tighter than ever. The set was heavy on hits, but included the rarely played “Some Girls.” Fans welcomed their blistering rendition of “Out of Control” as if it was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” which was equally unbelievable. Other highlights include Keith’s vocal solo looking more disheveled than ever, with multi-colored hair and half-tucked, unbuttoned shirt, he belted out an incredible rendition of “Before They Make Me Run.” They also offered up intimate versions of “Route 66,” “Get off My Cloud,” and a harp-drenched extended “Midnight Rambler.” The show closed with an impassioned, stage-strutting “Sympathy for the Devil.” The Rolling Stones ARE the “World’s Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band.”

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

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