June 2018

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

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Hardcore punk creators come roaring into town June 4

El Paso finds itself in what is fortunately becoming a very familiar situation lately: welcoming a legendary band to the stage. Even better, this time it’s a very intimate show at Lowbrow Palace. On June 4 the Canadian godfathers of hardcore, D.O.A., come to town. For over four decades singer/guitarist Joey Keithley has had a revolving cast of characters join him under the D.O.A. umbrella. This isn’t simply a 40th-year victory lap either. The band has just released a brand-new album titled “Fight Back,” and that is just what they are doing. They’re known for taking on environmental issues, women’s rights and First Nations’ rights since the very start. In 2018 they still have a lot to say. It is also well worth noting that Joey doesn’t stop there: He is attempting to change the system by running for mayor of his home town of Burnaby, British Columbia, under the Green Party banner.

Various Artists, Revamp & Restoration: A Pair of Elton John Tributes

In 1991 a tribute by the name of “Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin” was released. Now that Elton John has made known this is his final lap as far as touring is concerned, his stock is quickly rising. Thanks to not just one but two new collections celebrating his music, younger generations and fans of other genres (more on that later) are now discovering his music. On the rock and pop side is “Revamp: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin,” with treatments of his tunes by the Killers, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith to name a few. The extra-credit entry belongs to Queens of the Stone Age on “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” The other is “Restoration: Reimagining …”, which finds itself on a dusty country road with Miley Cyrus (who actually performs on both), Don Henley, Kacey Musgraves, and the genius that is Chris Stapleton. Other legends donning sparkly Elton shades include Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson. “Revamp” or “Restoration,” either way it’s a brand new, shiny coat on Elton John classics.

Glen Philips, “Swallowed By the New,” Compass Records

In this modern age when the internet inundates us with new music, it’s very easy to miss some incredible work. So it is with the lead vocalist of Toad the Wet Sprocket, Glen Phillips, whose “Swallowed by the New” has fallen under this curse. Compass Records has come up with a solution: How about a reissue? Considering the album was released only about a year and half ago it seems a bit quick for an overhaul. So think of it more as a fantastic independent movie finally getting the wide release it deserves, with a bonus track added to this new version. The disc’s life blood flows through a very familiar Toad vein, which is very welcome considering they have only had one proper release in the last two decades. “Swallowed” was inspired by Phillips’s divorce and its aftermath, so it isn’t the most upbeat affair, but those familiar with his late ’80s band know that their lyrics could easily go down a dark road. So if you find yourself stuck on their old material it is time to get “Swallowed By the New.”

John Mellencamp, “Plain Spoken,” Eagle Rock Entertainment

His voice may have a gravel coating now, and he may look like that farmland sun has weathered him some. A beard and a touch of gray have replaced the look of the once bright-eyed young man from a small town, but that doesn’t seem to matter because John Mellencamp is still getting it done. “Plain Spoken: From the Chicago Theatre,” the new concert CD & DVD set, is a live testament to that. This set includes past hits as well as newer material, going back to almost the beginning with 1983’s “Pink Houses” and taking us all the way through his career with his 2017’s “My Soul’s Got Wings” with special legendary guest Carlene Carter. The show is an intimate affair taking place 250 miles from his home town in Indiana, complete with fiddle, accordion and a trio of guitarists. Everyone is in top form, and even the tracks that remind you that you might have skipped a couple releases may become your instant favorites. The show concludes with a stellar rendition of “Cherry Bomb,” instantly transporting us back to a carefree 1987. To put it all in plain speak, an amazing concert experience.

Collectibles: Black Sabbath, Supersonic Years - Seventies Singles Box Set,” BMG

If you thought you felt the earth shake under your feet recently there was a very good reason. After a very successful reissue campaign in 2016 and a compilation double disc last year, it seems only natural to go straight to the collector’s jugular with a unique and most impressive vinyl box. The band making all this ruckus is one that has scorched the earth many times before, none other than Black Sabbath. The newest is “Supersonic Years - The Seventies Singles Box Set,” which concentrates on the Ozzy Osbourne years, which really says it all. This focuses on ten individual 45 rpm singles, starting with “Evil Woman” from 1970 and ending up at 1978’s “Hard Road.” The platters will include five rare edit versions that have all been remastered, and not only is it getting a sonic upgrade, but it is visually stunning. The picture sleeves for each 7-inch will feature rare and unique art from around the world. It will also contain new liner notes detailing these rarities. The collection is coming in right under a single Ben Franklin, so if you have an extra lying around and you have sold your soul for rock ’n’ roll, then pick this ultra-limited edition.

Keep an eye out for these new and
upcoming releases:

The Alarm — “Equals”
Roger Daltrey — “As Long As I Have You”
Ray Davies — “Our Country: Americana Act II”
Echo & The Bunnymen — “The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon”
Jim James — “Uniform Distortion”
Suede — “The Blue Hour”

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

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