Do you like the Sixties Rock? I sure do. That is is why The Grip Weeds are one of my favorite local bands. Not only do they freely worship The Beatles, but they also pay homage to the sound of many of the greatest bands of both the Psychedelic era and the British Invasion. Oh my, they are so groovy. This week’s featured clip is a new cut from the band: a cover of the Nuggets classic, “Lies”, which was recorded for the album My Hometown: A Tribute To NJ. My Home Town is a new compilation CD which features an amazing collection of bands covering the greatest rock ‘n roll songs to come out of the Garden State. Vocals on “Lies” are handled by Grip Weeds‘ drummer Kurt Reil. He is so handsome! All proceeds, after production costs, will be donated to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund (Click Here). Enjoy the clip!
It can be said that a decades-dormant “classic” band reuniting on the strength its potential appeal as a nostalgia act is only as good as the material it reunites to resurrect. In the case of a legendary sixties-era group such as The Zombies – a band whose debut album still ranks among the greatest pop albums ever released – the inclusion of just two original members bolstered by several additional seasoned musicians makes for a live show that’s every bit as amazing as it was when the band played out in its original incarnation. Another band whose popularity piqued in the late sixties is New York’s The Left Banke. Even if you don’t know their name, it would be almost impossible to have any kind of musical consciousness and not know the group’s two most famous songs, “Walk Away Renee” (their first release and a #2 chart topper) and “Pretty Ballerina.” As stellar examples of the power of the minor chord in pop music, both songs are indelible classics, covered endlessly and still lauded for their compositional perfection.
That these two songs have attained “Satisfaction” or “I Want to Hold Your Hand” status is not to insinuate that The Left Banke were One (or two) Hit Wonders, but rather to emphasize the out of control songwriting talents in a band that basically coined the phrase “Baroque Pop” for its inclusion of string arrangements and multi-part harmonies. The Left Banke is unarguably an important entry in the history of American Rock that provided inspiration for innumerable pop bands that arrived in its wake. A few years ago, The Left Banke reunited with two of its original members and is now performing live again with a band comprised of some of the most versatile and experienced musicians on the east coast. If you happen to live in the tri-state area, where the group seems to be booking most of its shows, I suggest you would in for quite a treat if you were able to check them out live. I had the chance to see The Left Banke recently when they played at BB King’s in Times Square and everyone in the packed house experienced a magical evening.
The reunited Left Banke includes original band members George Cameron (originally the group’s drummer) providing vocals and hand percussion, and Tom Finn on guitars, vocals and bass. They are joined in this new – and expanded –line up by gifted vocalist and frontman Mike Fornatale, guitarist Paul Alves (formerly of Drill), bassist Charly Cazalet, Keyboard player Mickey Finn (Boss Hog), Drummer Rick Reil (guitarist for The Grip Weeds and Wyld Olde Souls) and a three piece string section. Cameron and Finn can still play and sing well, and their passion for music and performing for fans has not cooled at all in the intervening years. The band maintains a lush and rocking sound with Mike Fornatale’s mellifluous voice providing spot on renditions of classic songs from the band’s first two albums.
The guys promised the crowd that the evening would hold some “Surprises” and a highlight of the evening came very early in the set, when original Left Banke keyboardist and songwriter Michael Brown joined the band on stage to play piano for a faithful rendition of his composition, “Pretty Ballerina.” This was certainly something that no one in BB King’s expected to see, and Brown, who is visibly frail and had to be helped on and off the stage, played beautifully, receiving a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd. Rick Brand, guitarist with the band from 1966-67 was also in attendance but did not perform with the band.
The evening’s lively performance featured a comprehensive 22-song set list including favorites like “She May Call You Up Tonight,” “Desiree” and “Goodbye Holly,” and also showcased a new song called “City Life,” sung by Tom Finn, which rocked hard but still captured the essence of the classic band’s sound. Visit The Left Banke’s Official Website for upcoming show listings and to purchase the band’s music.
The Left Banke Set List for April 29th, 2012 at BB King’s in NYC:
She May Call You Up Tonight
I’ve Got Something On My Mind
Dark is the Bark
Let Go Of You Girl
Sing Little Bird Sing
Nice to See You
My Friend Today
Shadows Breaking Over My Head
I Can Fly
Love Songs in the Night
Two By Two
I Haven’t Got the Nerve
There’s Gonna Be a Storm
Walk Away Renee
I’ll say one thing about 2010: it was a better fucking year for new music here at the Chickpad. Some of you might recall that when compiling my “Year End” list of 2009, I couldn’t even come up with ten CDs that I could admit to having listened to, let alone liked. That was weird, but what can I say? Today’s music just isn’t yanking my chain the way new records used to get me all hot and bothered, even as recently as, say, two or three years ago. Fans of the Rad Blog know that I wrote about Art and various facets of Pop Culture exponentially more often than I ever wrote about new music or bands that were turning me on. The times, they are a-changin. By semi-switching alliances from Music to Art I know I missed out on a lot, but I did discover ten aural gems this year that I think you should have in your record collection.
I tagged the sophomore effort by Brooklyn’s MGMT as Album of the Year way back when it was first released at the beginning of 2010, and my mind hasn’t changed. In 2010, who else but MGMT is releasing albums crammed full of homages to surf music and Brian Eno? No one else, except maybe…
Mark Ronson & The Business, Record Collection
Everything old is new again! The thoroughly sublime and appropriately entitled Record Collection is the best album of 80s music in twenty-five years!
Posies, Blood Candy
Blood Candy proves that The Posies are the closest thing we’ll ever see to a second incarnation of The Beatles.
Cameron Meshell, Prizefighter
Shreveport, LA in 2010 is a very long way from London, England in the 70s, but that sleepy little town has nevertheless managed to spawn singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Cameron Meshell, whose blissfully malleable vocals conjure the heady ghost of the late, great Freddie Mercury like no ouija board ever could. Discover Cameron Meshell at his finest on his knockout second full-length release, Prizefighter.
Gripweeds, Strange Change Machine
Best. Sixties. Revivalist. Band. Ever.
Shamelessly unapologetic worshipper of the ’80s Metal that I am, if you’d told me last year that in 2010 I’d be putting an album by Ratt, Los Angles-based icons of Hair Metal, on my list of favorite CDs, even I would have laughed you off the face of the Earth. So no one was more surprised than me to hear Ratt, valiantly holding on to most of its original line up (RIP Robin Crosby), sounding as on top of the rock world as they did in 1987, serving up a collection of classic metal songs with more visceral sex appeal and crunchy, loud guitars than you could imagine. Someone tell me where these guys are hiding their time machine.
Hawkwind, Blood of the Earth
Hawkwind have been a band for longer than most people reading this have even been alive. I am not fronting when I say that the songs on Blood of The Earth will appeal to all genres of metal, prog and hard rock fans of bands as varied as Zodiac Mindwarp, Jimi Hendrix, The Pretty Things, Yes and Nine Inch Nails. Must own!
Except for MGMT, southern rockers American Bang are the only “new” band on this list, because they kick ass and take names. I mean, don’t they just look like they rock? If I were 25 years old I’d be in the front row of their shows throwing my panties on the stage. Plus their bass player writes a food blog!
Robert Plant & The Band of Joy
This collection of Americana covers by rock god legend Robert Plant and his amazing Band of Joy makes the list because their magical show at the Bowery Ballroom this winter was the best show I attended all year. Led Zeppelin!
Bryan Ferry, Olympia
It’s about his voice. Olympia hasn’t exactly checked in as a critics’ favorite, but as far as I’m concerned, the former Roxy Music front man could sing a menu and I’d get on board.
How about you guys? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments!
As the past is reinvented to serve present needs, modern pop music continues to suffer from an absence of historical revisionism dating back farther than last Tuesday. It’s not such a mystery why anyone over the age of 17 (wait, make that ‘anyone with taste,’ which is not always a given) would probably rather listen to music from 20, 30 or even 40 years ago than anything currently stagnating on “the charts” – which haven’t been interesting or relevant since you were an egg. That’s why it’s so refreshing to be able to moderate my regular listening sessions of Love’s Forever Changes and Mania, the lone album by Australia’s The Lucy Show (remember them?) with liberal doses of New Jersey’s best, not-well-known-enough band, The Grip Weeds. A rocking quartet comprised of brothers Kurt and Rick Reil (drums and guitar respectively), lead guitarist Kristin Pinell and bassist Michael Kelly, The Grip Weeds play psychedelic garage rock in the vein of classic sixties icons such as Love and The Byrds, while one-upping modern genre revivalists like The Three O’Clock, Jellyfish and The Smithereens. And, lucky you, they have newly released a double CD called Strange Change Machine, which is crammed with awesome songs to make your head spin and your heart skip a beat.
A double disc release is a rare thing these days, especially one as strong as Strange Change Machine, which contains a stellar selection of 24 tracks – all but one original compositions! We’re talking all-killer-no-filler here: a phrase I don’t think I’ve used since Queen was putting out new albums. The lone cover, a faithful interpretation of Todd Rundgren’s classic “Hello, It’s Me” adds a layer of lushness while maintaining the original’s understated, bittersweet melancholy. I was fortunate to catch a live gig by the Weeds a couple of weeks ago on the Friday that also happened to be the birthday of Sir Paul McCartney and they totally kicked ass. I know I’ve already declared MGMT’s Congratulations to be the best album of the year, but I’ll readily add now that Strange Change Machine is riding that CD’s coattails for how much it is loved and enjoyed by me. Making for excellent summer listening, I strongly recommend adding this gem to your collection as soon as possible. Strange Change Machine is available from iTunes and for download or purchase on Amazon.
Kurt Reil, Far Left
“It was great to talk to Gail. I felt like I was having a conversation with an old friend, not a journalist I’ve never met; she put me at ease to open up and maybe say things I wouldn’t normally say to a writer who was not nearly as clued-in. There is always the danger that what you said can be misrepresented or used in a way that you did not expect or intend, but I had a sense that Gail was ultimately trustworthy, which she earned in her obvious appreciation and understanding of music. Somehow, she managed to distill a lengthy, 90 minute interview into a tightly-focused profile that I am very proud of. Let’s talk again soon, Gail!”
Modern Drummer’s action-packed Apil issue (pictured above with Levon Helm and Steve Jordan on the cover) features my updates with drummers Kurt Reil of the Grip Weeds and Ryan Hoyle of Collective Soul and Paul Rodgers. Out to subscribers this week, on Newsstands March 3rd!