Sunday, December 02, 2018

Album Reviews - Index

OK, I've done a few of these album reviews now, and intend to make it a regular thing.  I'm hoping folk enjoy them; comments (and even requests) welcome.  My intention has been to focus mostly on stuff I own on vinyl, and stuff that is somewhat obscure.  But, as you can already see, that's not exclusively true.

You can see them all with the tag albumreviews.

Anyway:  here's what I've done so far:

Artist    -    Album    -  Released -   Posted (datecode)


And, as a bonus, here's a link to Matthew L.'s reviews at WPTS.  He's my go-to source for new music.
So what's next?  I'm always open t suggestions

Thanks for reading!


Album Review - Ozark Mountain Daredevils - Men From Earth



Artist:  Ozark Mountain Daredevils 
Album:  Men From Earth
Released:  1976


I discovered Ozark Mountain Daredevils via "If You Wanna Get To Heaven", the #25 hit from their 1st album (in mid 1974).  I'm not sure exactly when I picked up that album, but I think it was mid 1976.  An album that didn't immediately grab me (beyond the hit), but which steadily gained traction with me.  Sometime later, I got a cassette version of their second album (It'll Shine When It Shines, featuring the #3 hit from 1975, Jackie Blue). That album quickly caught my fancy.  Sometime in the early CD days I picked up a "Best Of"  CD, which included 3 from Don't Look Down.  Sometime later yet, I added a CD of "Don't Look Down", their 5th release.

Which brings us to now.  I've been thinking about filling out my collection with the albums I was missing (from their original run of A&M records).  Namely The Car Over The Lake, and Men From Earth.  And (possibly) the live album.   I was in Pittsburgh over Thanksgiving, and ended up on a record store excursion with my son.  We hit 3 different stores, each of which had a distinct (and different) mood.  This one came from Attic Records, in Millvale.  This place had a HUGE selection of used vinyl, CD's an 45's.  A little tight on space, but that's because every available spot was filled with music!  

Anyway, what's the scoop on this record?  Well, it is pretty solid, and has lots of the old-home funky that characterizes the first 2 albums.  There is a little "slickness:" that creep in to a couple of songs, though.  Especially on side two.  Worst example would be the song "It's How You Think" which could easily be Firefall, with electric piano, and flute or synth-horns or both)...  That and the sax at the end of Arroyo.  Nothing against Firefall, but when I think of Ozark Mtn Daredevils, I'm thinking harmonica and banjo...  But the rest of the album is really solid.

The album opens with Fly Away Home, which is pretty much the definitive Ozark Mountain Daredevils sound.  Great stuff, which moves into more great stuff, You Know Like I Know which was released as a single, and made it to #74.  It's a a perfect example of OMD in "pretty" mode (like Colorado song. As is Waterwheel...   Red Plum is a good example of the funky-weird OMD....

All in all, this is a very solid album.  Not quite as good as the first two, but quite good.  I'll give it a 7.0/10

As for obscurity?  I'll cay moderately high.  They didn't have many hits, they were always a little to "niche" for mainstream.  But a band I really like a lot.


Here's the back cover and inner sleeve:


Inner Sleeve



Barged

I've taken a couple of lunch time walks recently over at Cliff Cave Park.  Even on cold grey late November days, it's a pretty cool spot to take a break from work.  One interesting thing about this park, there seem to be a lot of barges "parked" along the Mississippi River.  These two images were taken two days, and about 0.5 miles apart.



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Album Review - Rick Derringer - Derringer Live




Artist:  Rick Derringer 
Album:  Derringer Live
Released:  1977

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OK, Rick Derringer has been one of my “guilty pleasures” since my mid-teens.  Nobody’s going to argue that his lyrics surpass Dylan, or his melodies beat the Beatles.  But you know what?  Sometimes it is enough to just Rock And Roll.  And Derringer can certainly rock.  Good time, 70’s vintage rock.  I’ll admit it, at 18 years old, I owned more Derringer albums than I did Beatles and Stones combined.  And, I think he’s one of the more underrated guitar players of the era.  [aside:  this review was inspired by a text message from my son (who is at college), asking who it was that I’ve said is the “most underrated guitar player”.] 

I like what Allmusic says in their review of this album:


Anyway…

This 1977 live album is technically “Derringer”, which was Rick Derringer’s band.  Along with RickD was Danny Johnson (Guitar), Kenny Aaronson (Bass) and Vinny Appice (Drums).  No keyboards, no strings, no horns.  Just straight-ahead rock…  which was perfect for a me at the time; a 17 y/o kid from Pittsburgh.   I already had 1973’s “All American Boy” and 1975’s “Spring Fever”, so a live album was a natural addition.  Heck, I probably would've bought it for the album cover alone(and maybe did!).  It was one of my “Top 10 Favorite Live Albums” from my high-school collection, and is still great for when I’m in an uncomplicated mood.

The album starts out rocking with “Let Me In”, and doesn’t really let up until the last notes of and extended version of “Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo”.  Maybe not as intense as a Ramones concert, but it’s full speed start to finish.  My favorites would probably be “Across The Universe”, “Sailor” and “Still Alive And Well”.  [aside 2:  one of the venues where this album was recorded is The Tomorrow Club, in Youngstown OH, where I saw the Ramones a couple of years after this was released.... ]

I’ll give this one 4.5 out of 5, keeping in mind that it delivers exactly what it intends.   Forty-plus years after it’s release, I still play it occasionally.

As far as obscurity?  I’m going to say pretty obscure.  Rick Derringer only had one Top 40 song, with Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo peaking at #23.  He had 3 other songs make the Hot 100, but barely (Teenage Love Affair peaked at 80, Let Me In made #86 and his remake of Hang On Sloopy made it to #90).  Derringer Live peaked at #123 on the album charts.  While his highest charting album after “All American Boy (at #25), that’s not exactly a smash.  I suspect that the most people who remember him can’t name anything he did beyond “…Hoochie Koo”.

Back cover:



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Inner sleeve (click for larger version):







Sunday, November 18, 2018

Winter Field - Before and After


Another one from Cliff Cave County Park, taken last week.  I've "Edited The Stuffing Out Of It" (ETSOOI).  I kind of like how it turned out.  And yes, I was thinking ETSOOI when I took the photo!

Of course, it is "Jazz", some free-form improvisation.  Not exactly sure how I got here, but something along the lines of:

  1. crop / straighten / adjust levels
  2. Topaz Studios Impressions (on a new layer).  Pretty sure it was the Pencil - Sketch Work III.
  3. adjust levels on that result
  4. Topaz Studios Simplify (on a copy of the original layer)
  5. Blend the two modified layers till it looks good.  
  6. Flatten
  7. Add texture in Photoshop Elements.  Pretty sure it's canvas
  8. I also cloned out a big snowflake spot (it was snowing when I took this).  Should've done that before adding the texture, but I dare you to find the spot... without looking at the "before" photo!


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And the before photo, click to enlarge





Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hey Arnold!


So…  For those that didn’t know, I changed jobs this month.  All good, and not really of concern for readers of this blog.  Except that I have (for a little while) a longer commute, and I have lost all of my lunchtime nature-haunts from the past 11 years.

Anyway…  this week I’ve taken some time to look into some potential spots near my new office.  Sadly, there’s not a good place to walk right at the office, so some level of driving will be required.  But I’ve found a couple of interesting spots that are not too too far.  (according to Google, about 11-15 minutes each way minutes each way):

Mastodon State Historic Site - The images below are from Friday, and from Spring Branch Trail (a 0.8 mile loop).








Cliff Cave County ParkThis looks like a pretty cool place....  I've already posed a few images:  herehere and here.  I think this place will be a favorite, there's a range of opportunities.





Bee Tree County Park The furthest of the 3 from my office, and at first look, the least interesting,  But we'll see....


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Given 1 hr for lunch, and ~30 minute drive times, I’ll have to do quick trips, but seems like some nice photo opportunities.  So, maybe you’ll see some more photos from the spots over the next month or two.  Sometime around the first of the year I’ll be moving to a new office (with this same new-to-me company) which will be much closer to home.  Much, much closer.

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Aside:  I should probably rename this site “So…  Anyway… “.  I think I use these in my narratives way too much.  But no so much that I feel a need to change…  After all, I’ve been using LSquared Imaging for over 15 years (on blogger since 2004).

Monday, November 12, 2018

Arlo Guthrie - 11/10/2018


So, last Saturday night, my wife and I saw Arlo Guthrie at the wonderful Wildey Theater in Edwardsville, IL.  This was his Alice’s Restaurant—Back by Popular Demand Tour, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Alice's Restaurant movie (which means the 51st anniversary of the album!).

We were a little to slow to get tickets for the original show, but I made sure to be on line the moment they started selling tickets when the announced a second show.  And we ended up with 4th row seats.  Of course, every seat in the Wildey is great (330 seats in a warm, intimate setting).

And it was a really great show.  Arlo clearly isn't a kid anymore, but he's hanging in there pretty well.  He did turn the show over to his daughter Sarah Lee for 4-5 songs before an intermission, and she was a very pleasant surprise (surprise to me, at least!).  They played a nice range of mostly older songs, including a cover of Dylan's Gates Of Eden and a couple of Woody songs.  And of course, Alice's Restaurant.

Now, I try to keep my camera down while bands are playing, but I like to try and catch a shot or two in between.  These the are from when the band came back on stage before the encore:




Sunday, November 11, 2018

Photopalooza 2018

Excuses are like...  well, you know.

Anyway, I've been especially absent from here lately.  It has been over a week since I've posted images.  But I have had a lot going on.  Most notably, I started a new job last week.  All good, but getting oriented to new organization, new people...  and more than double the commute.  It'll all settle down soon, and the commute will be great in the long run, as they're opening an office quite near my home in a short while.  Anyway, I'm sorry for my relative absence, and will try and be better.

So, yesterday (Saturday), I attended the Photopalooza event sponsored by Creve Coeur Camera in St. Louis.  They've done this event before, but this was the first time I decided to make the trek to the far side of St. Louis.And even then, I only took part in a small portion of the 2 day event.  But it was good.  I did attend one seminar, Karen Hutton's See Your World.  It was a really good session, and I had a nice conversation with her afterward about equipment.

BUT....

She asked everybody to do a couple of seeing experiments during the session.  Things like: take a photo somewhere in the room demonstrating shows, high / low angles, movement, abstract, etc, etc.  Quick, just about 2 minutes per exercise.   And (of course) I had not brought my camera.  But I did have my phone, so that was the best camera I had with me.  I decided to focus on the same sublect for each image, which became a little bit of a challenge with each additional topic, but was still interesting.  Naturally, while most of the folk were clustering around the set pieces in the front and back of the room, I found a (semi) interesting element back in a dark corner.....

Anyway, here's a few of my images, w/o any effort to remember what image went with what challenge.  And I did take the liberty of doing some tweaking....

I won't try to convince you any of these are "good".  Or even try to convince myself!  But hopefully there's at least a little interesting.



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Album Review - The Romantics - The Romantics



Artist:  The Romantics
Album:  The Romantics
Released:  January, 1980

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Another promotional album.  Like Jules and The Polar Bears, I received this from a former roommate.  Presumably from the same source.  And while I understood why he might've not liked J&TPB, I don't see how anybody in 1980 could not like this!

The Romantics are super solid power pop, in the vein of bands like The Beat (1st album = October  '79), The Knack (1st album = June '79) and the dB's (1st album = January '81).  This music is the soundtrack of my mid-late college years, and a good time it was.  It opens with the driving "When I Look In Your Eyes", builds to a peak with "What I Like About You", which is immediately followed with a fun cover of the Kinks' "She's Got Everything".  And working on to close with "Gimme One More Chance".  Eleven songs, and everything on the album is good.

"What I like About You" was a minor hit (peaking at #49 on the Billboard Hot 100). But it got a lot of play at college parties at the time.  On the negative side, it eventually ended up "covered" in the extra features for one of the Shrek movies.  Oh well, sorry to have remembered that.  And sorrier still to have looked it up!

The album is on Spotify, and Amazon Prime.  Check it out!




Rear Cover:







Saturday, November 03, 2018

Album Review - Randy Meisner - One More Song




Artist:  Randy Meisner
Album:  One More Song
Released:  October, 1980

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Continuing with the recent theme of promotional albums, today's review is Randy Meisner's One More Song.  Here's the story:  Late 1980 (my Junior year of college), and I'm hanging out with some friends in the Down Under, the cafeteria in the basement of the dorm where I lived the two previous years.  There was a guy playing tunes (I think from the college radio station?).  And he offers up the new Randy Meisner album to the first person who can name the band Meisner had played in before.  After nobody jumped up, I kind of ambled over, and in my way-to-hip manner asked if he meant the Eagles or Poco.  'Cause even then, I could be a bit of a music snob.  Anyway, it won me the album!

Randy Meisner was a original member of Poco, but was left the band before their first album was released.  He plays on the album, and the 1989 reunion release Legacy.  Subsequently, he was a founding member of the Eagles.  He was the bass player for the first 5 of their 6 original studio albums (through Hotel California), wrote (or co-wrote) several of their biggest songs, including One Of These Nights (#2) and Take It To the Limit (#4), and was an integral part of their sound.  One More Song is his second solo release after leaving the Eagles in the summer of 1977.

Anyway, this is a pretty solid album.  A good album, but not a great one.   If you know the Eagles, or Poco, then you have a feel for the feel.  But it is also very 1980, in terms of production and overall sound.  An overall "slick-ness", a big sound.  No Banjo, but saxophone...  But that's not a problem, just a product of the time.


My favorite songs:  Hearts On Fire, White Shoes, Deep Inside My Heart.
Weaknesses:  Well, I'm not a fan of the remake of Anyway Bye Bye, originally from Poco's second album. It doesn't really add anything to the original, I wish they'd found a new song to use instead....

Obscurity:  Randy Meisner is kind of the forgotten Eagle, overshadowed by Tiohy B Schmidt...  But he's not exactly unknown.  But his solo career wasn't much of a splash.  this album peaked at #50, but did spawn two top 40 hits (Hearts On Fire #19, and Deep Inside My Heart #22).  He would relaes a third solo album in 1982, and then nothing for 20 years.  So I'll say "pretty obscure"

Back cover and inner sleeve:














Foggy Morning

So, I was of work yesterday, slept in a little (just after 8)....  When I got up, I checked the weather ap on my phone and saw a fog advisory.  YAY!!!  Photo ops await!  But when I looked out the window it wasn't at all foggy.

grumble.

So I grabbed a quick shower, got dressed and headed downstairs.  And lo and behold, a fog hard arisen!   Back on track.  I decided to try Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, since it had been a little while since I;d been there.  As I was driving towards the river, the fog seemed to be breaking up, but it hung in there.  It was a really nice outing; calm, quiet  and I even saw a bald eagle flying around (but was not able to catch a photo of it). 

 I'm rather pleased with the resulting photos, a few presented here for your viewing pleasure:




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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Charleston SC Part 5 - Drayton Hall (Grounds)

Still plugging through photos from our trip to Charleston, SC at the beginning of October.  Sorry, but this month was a rather busy and "dynamic" month.  Thanks for your patience.  Meanwhile, you can see all of the posts related to the trip herehttps://lsqrd.blogspot.com/search/label/Charleston201810

Today's post is more from Drayton Hall.  This time various shots around the grounds.  Stately trees, Spanish moss, and the Ashley River behind the property.




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Monday, October 29, 2018

Charleston SC Part 4 - Drayton Hall (Interior)

Still plugging through photos from our trip to Charleston, SC at the beginning of October.  Sorry, but October was a rather busy and "dynamic" month.  Thanks for your patience.  Meanwhile, you can see all of the posts related to the trip herehttps://lsqrd.blogspot.com/search/label/Charleston201810

Today's post is interior scenes from Drayton Hall, to go with the recent post of exterior images.  More info on the site there.  But I'd recommend it.


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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Album Review - Outlaws - Hurry Sundown



Artist:  Outlaws
Album:  Hurry Sundown
Date: 1977

After last weekend's review (Jules and The Polar Bears), i got to thinking about other promotional albums I own, and where I got them.  Which lead me to Hurry Sundown, from the Outlaws.  I'm pretty certain this was the first promotional album I got, and I won it in a radio station contest.  

So, we'll start with the story of how I won it.  One of the radio station I listened to* had a contest where listeners would suggest a playlist of 3 songs.  If they selected your playlist, you'd win a record.  Now this was nefore email, and facebook and web-pages.... It was either snail-mail, or call and leave a message**.  Anyway, I submitted a playlist that included southern rock opuses.  Prtty sure it was Marshall Tucker Band - Can't You See (live version), Charlie Daniels Band - Saddle Tramp, and Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird.  At 26.5 minutes, it was certainly long enough.  Bottom line, it won!  I actually wasn't around a radio that Saturday, so I didn't hear it, but one of my friend did, and let me know. And a couple of weeks later, this album showed up in the mail!

* probably WDVE, but possible WYDD.  I really don't remember.
**  Again, I don't remember, but I think it was snail mail.

So, about the album:  This was the 3 album by the Outlaws, after the eponymous first album, and its follow-up, Lady In Waiting.  The first is a classic, one of my favorites from the genre.  the second is good, but a notable step down (IMHO).  So, where would the 3rd album land?  I place it somewhere between the two.  There are no low points, every song is solid.  But there's no "There Goes Another" Love Song" of "Song In The Breeze"...  But is is a very listenable album, full of great guitars.  Still carrying a lot of the more country / bluegrass influence.

High points (IMHO):  Gunsmoke, Hurry Sundown, So Afraid, Heavenly Blues.  

Note:  As the band's 3rd album, it features the first lineup change, as Harvey Dalton Arnold replacing Frank O'Keefe on bass. It is also the last album with Henry Paul, after which they moved into a more generic hard rock sound.  The first 3 Outlaws albums are the ones to own.....

Aside:  The Outlaws were the opening act for the first concert I attended as a teenager:  Outlaws, Steve Marriott's All Stars and Lynyrd Skynyrd in spring of 1976.  Excellent show.  I've seen then at least 4 times, as much or more than any other act....


Back cover:


And the record sleeve  front and back: