Categories
Pop Sunday

Terry Carolan / Flights Of Fancy

Terry Carolan

Flights Of Fancy (Counterfeit)

http://www.terrycarolan.com

Terry Carolan’sFlights Of Fancy” provides all the delectable elements we have come to expect from the respected singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has been a staple of the pop rock circuit for more than forty years. Having acquired recognition with a number of different bands, including Just Boys, The Pin Ups, True Hearts, New Movies, Blue Cartoon and Heirs Of Fortune, Terry further cuts the mustard as a solo artist as this mighty fine album assuredly attests.

Flashing the signage of a quintessential frontman, Terry’s vocals are amiable and robust, emoting his smoothly-scribed songs with an intimacy and directness spurring response to both the words and the music. Additionally pronounced by a polish and a shine, his radio-friendly pipes resemble a blending  of Billy Joel, Todd Rundgren and Allan Clarke of The Hollies

A towering vocal performance, unified with a symphonic sheen represents “Solo Rita,” and a lightly-buttered psychedelic air cushions “The Muse,” which strolls and swirls to a gorgeous display of dreamy melodies and visually-enhanced lyrics. Containing earnest dialogue regarding the madness and confusion consuming life today, “The World Keeps Turning” clicks in as a bouncy pop rocker, rippling and coiling with ringing chords, tight drumming, choice hooks and an electrifying break. 

Terry’s first-class piano skills are acutely accented on the measured cadence and haunting contours of “The Box,” as well as the sweetened punch of “Love,” and the downright dynamic “Fade,” a skin-prickling power ballad expressing sorrow at challenging changes afoot, but accepting these changes and courageously forging onward. 

The desire for a happier time and place is communicated on the bright and bonny “I’ll Go Home (Elsyian Fields),” where “Easter ’83” steps in a  twitchy and tuneful guitar instrumental. Gushing with color and wonder, “A Holiday For You” is cemented by soothing rhythms and textures, breathtaking harmonies, bracing Beatles-Badfinger six-string samplings and a whirling progressive pop rock mini-jam. 

Sitting high on the hill as a bold piece of work, “Flights Of Fancy” fuses innovation, purity, beauty and spirited verse into a symmetrical set of songs dictated by moderate tempos. Neither too fast or too slow, these sophisticated and superior songs should also be lauded for their sonic quality. Hardly a flight of fancy, the album totally summarizes Terry’s genius for creating top-grade pop rock on every level imaginable. 

Categories
Pop Sunday

50th Anniversary Tribute To Todd Rundgren, Someone / Anyone?

Various Artists

50 Anniversary Tribute To Todd Rundgren

https://toddtribute.bandcamp.com/album/someone-anyone-the-50th-anniversary-tribute-to-something-anything

To commemorate the half century anniversary of Todd Rundgren’s revolutionary double album – Something/Anything? – noted multi-diversified musician Fernando Permado rounded up a circle of talented friends to assist in the celebration. Cleverly dubbed Someone/Anyone?, the two-disc collection will be released February 1, 2022, which marks fifty years to the day Something/Anything? was issued. 

Not only does the record feature inspired versions of the songs we know and love so well, but the project is for a good cause, as all net profits will go to Todd’s Spirit Of Harmony Foundation, a charity that supports musical education.

A genre-bending masterstroke, Something/Anything? awarded Todd major league status, whose far-reaching influence resonates decades on. The twenty-five tracks on Someone/Anyone? are sequenced in the exact same order as the original album. 

Fernando joins forces with Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater on Breathless, an enchanting instrumental rife with compelling synthesizer lines and snagging riffs. High on energy and imagination, the cut keenly slips into jazz fusion territory at times. 

Kasim Sulton from Todd’s Utopia band reprises The Night The Carousel Burned Down, which is pronounced by majestic piano arrangements and  spiked with a swell of sweeping guitars and crashing drums, where Louise Goffin turns in a superb performance via I Saw The Light that spangles and sparkles with blissful melodies. 

A pinch of soul, compounded by sprinklings of a frilly falsetto, frame Ken Sharp’s excellent and impassioned cover of It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference, while the sounds of soul, backed by honey-scented harmonies, are further amplified on the rich and robust Saving Grace from Victor Wainwright and the Wildroots

On the funky front, there’s John Powhida International Airport’s take of Slut, and Marshall Crenshaw’s rendition of Couldn’t I Just Tell You serves as a sweetened slice of gold standard power pop. 

Brent Bourgeois checks in with the shimmery top five hit  Hello It’s Me, and Van Duren’s Torch Song is a sparsely-structured piano-led ballad illuminated by ringing chords and emotionally-gripping vocals. Other select entries include You Left Me Sore by the Intoxicats, Secret Society’s Dust In The Wind and Black Maria from the star-studded trio of Stan Lynch (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Rob Bonfiglio (Wanderlust, solo artist) and Stephen Dees (Todd Rundgren, Hall & Oates, Novo Combo, the Bandeees). 

A spellbinding sprawl of styles and moods, Someone/Anyone? may be a lot to inhale, but that’s the beauty and magic of album, which has been revamped with utmost dignity and respect. Todd himself approved of the package, so that alone tells you how great these tunes are. 

Richie Mayer / The Inn Of Temporary Happiness

Richie Mayer

The Inn Of Temporary Happiness

https://richiemayer.bandcamp.com/album/the-inn-of-temporary-happiness-2

Back in the late seventies and early eighties, Richie Mayer fronted Loose Lips – a band that was a key component of the fertile Chicago music scene – and released a critically appraised EP called Hung Up On Pop.  After four decades of silence, Richie has surfaced with his first solo album, The Inn Of Temporary Happiness, which is nothing short of dazzling. 

A self-contained effort, the thirteen-track set flashes on the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s flair for playing a mercurial selection of styles that skillfully results in a concerted collection. Richie’s poised and evocative vocals are also wide-ranging, encompassing pure pop, roots rock and even a touch of soul and progressive rock.

Picking up pointers from both The Beach Boys and Jellyfish, the cheery She Is Why  swirls with round and ripe melodies, complemented by a contagiously hummable chorus of “ba ba ba’s,” where the punchy Todd Rundgren influenced pop rock of You Don’t Get Me High Anymore is laced with a cool and breezy falsetto. 

Signing on as a prime demonstration of Richie’s gift for crafting enterprising hooks and arrangements is Dangerous Rhythm. The song starts off on a tick-tocking beat, then ultimately swells into a sampling of electrifying guitar flourishes and exciting orchestration altogether. 

As for the title cut of the album, a stately folk presence directs the course, and the frisky Sunshine Blues is simply a great pop song featuring radio-friendly assets by the pound. Get ready to click your heels and snap your fingers to the vaudeville inspired How Can I Leave When I’m Already Gone, while Sometimes I Feel Like I’m One Kiss Away plugs in as an epic performance, burning with power, heated emotions and cracking riffs. 

Additional attractions heard on The Inn Of Temporary Happiness are Love Will Find A Way and Warmth Of The Sun, but each number truly possesses its own pleasing personality. By melding conventional pop values with just the right balance of other assorted genres and left-field turns, Richie has fathered an album where not a single moment is wasted.

Now that The Inn Of Temporary Happiness is on the decks and gleaning rapturous reviews, perhaps such acceptance will encourage Richie to keep the creative juices flowing. To think we’ve been robbed of his talent for all these years is a real pity.  Not only should you buy a copy of The Inn Of Temporary Happiness for yourself, but purchase the record for your friends and family as well. 

RESCUED FROM THE BUDGET BIN! Heavy Metal (24 Electrifying Performances)

Record stores used to have cut-out bins, overflowing with deleted albums that the labels had given up as lost causes. The cut-out LP covers had been deliberately damaged: a corner chopped off, a puncture, some sort of premeditated defacing to mark them as clearance items, as soon-to-be discarded product that had been written off, as Grade B, as “other.” The cut-out bin was a record buyer’s last chance to grab a record on the cheap before it slipped into the out-of-print zone. In addition to the cut-outs, there were also budget albums, produced and priced for discount sales.


Cut-outs. Budget albums. I may have purchased a few of these over the years.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Heavy Metal (Warner Special Products, 1974)

Now that’s what I call music.

Mind you, it’s not what I call “heavy metal music;” while some of the acts contained in this oddball double-LP could fall within the peripheries of the genre, and Black Sabbath should qualify for sure, it would take some seriously heavy-grade ’70s-style medication to alter one’s perceptions to a hallucinatory fuzz sufficient to regard Van MorrisonWarThe Eagles, or The Grateful Dead as a metal act. Feel free to view this peculiar marketing choice as antecedent to the GRAMMYs’ eventual award to Best Heavy Metal Artist Jethro Tull.

So forget about the label; calling this “heavy metal” is delusional no matter how you look at it. But as a various-artist set of no discernible theme? Even though it includes some tracks from the ’60s, Heavy Metal is 1970s rock in microcosm.

Far out.

When we think of budget-priced compilation albums in the ’70s, we may think first about cheesy K-TelRonco, and Adam VIII sets hawked on TV, sonically-deprived hatchet jobs cramming too many songs into too little space, sacrificing sound quality and aesthetics alike as an offering on a Me Decade altar praying to the decadent god of MORE!! I feel a little queasy even considering it. But the ’70s also produced a bounty of compilations from major labels, business entities whose motives may or may not have been inherently purer than those of a Ron Popeil, but whose methodology and ability to execute were an immediate world apart.

Count the Warner Brothers empire among those major labels. By the mid ’70s, that empire encompassed Warner Brothers, AtlanticRepriseElektra, and Asylum, the record-label equivalent of the gathering of The Mighty Avengers (or perhaps The Justice League Of America, since Warner also owned DC Comics). Let’s pound the comic-book comparison one nail further: Warner’s muscle and deep vaults gave it powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal record labels. Those super powers produced Lenny Kaye‘s seminal ’60s garage compilation Nuggets, and a long series of loss leaders that introduced deep cuts by obscure artists to legions of cash-strapped music fans. And it gave us Warner Special Products, the low-priced subsidiary imprint that concocted Heavy Metal.

I have no idea of the thought process that created Heavy Metal; if there’s a definitive account of the record’s genesis out there somewhere, I’d love to read it. The great and powerful internet suggests that Heavy Metal was a sequel to a 1973 four-record set called Superstars Of The 70’s, and I kinda wish I’d snagged a copy of that one when I was a young teen. The lineup on Superstars Of The 70’s includes Otis ReddingThe KinksTodd RundgrenWilson PickettThe Rolling StonesRoberta FlackJoni MitchellThe Beach Boys, and Gordon Lightfoot, a diverse menu that whet the ol’ Me Decade musical appetite. MORE!! Heavy Metal met the next stage of that insatiable demand.

I bought my copy of Heavy Metal at The Record Theatre near Syracuse University in late ’76 or early ’77. I was a senior in high school, sixteen-seventeen years old, and the sheer buzz of Marshall Street and the SU hill was intoxicating with possibilities for me. I loved going up there whenever I could, for lectures at Hendricks Chapel (where I saw Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and my favorite author, Harlan Ellison), the occasional cult film, pizza, books, fruitless flirting with co-eds, one frantic, exuberant run up the outdoor flight of stairs at Crouse College as I bellowed the theme from Rocky, and sifts through the garden of delights at The Record Theatre on Marshall Street. Good times? To this square peg kid, desperately looking for a place to belong? Yeah. Good times.

I’m not sure what specific tune or combination of tunes drew me to Heavy Metal. I’m sure I would have been interested in owning some Alice Cooper, and probably “Ramblin’ Man” by The Allman Brothers Band, maybe “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image, and maybe the Yes or Doors tracks. My cousin Mark had hooked me a little on his Deep Purple cassettes, so it was certainly cool to claim ownership of “Smoke On The Water.” I betcha I was eager to crank some Sabbath, just because.


The album opens with “Kick Out The Jams.” That was the revelation for me. I’d never heard The MC5 before, never heard of The MC5 before. This was the censored version, with brothers and sisters standing in for the unexpurgated original incitement to kick out the jams, muthafuckas. I knew nothing about any of that; I just knew this track rocked, and I discovered its raucous, ragged splendor just before I discovered the concept of punk rock. Within less than a year, I would be an enthusiastic punk fan.

The mixed styles offered on Heavy Metal were A-OK with me. My first T. Rex track. My first Buffalo Springfield track (the now-rare nine-minute version of “Bluebird”). My first Jimi Hendrix, my first J. Geils Band, my first Led ZeppelinJames GangUriah HeepFaces, War, Grateful Dead. I didn’t love all of it, and I still don’t. But I loved the overall experience of this album, and I look back on it with great fondness.

The period spanning the winter of 1976 into the spring of 1977 was the spark of my personal rock ‘n’ roll crucible. I saw my first rock concert (KISS). I became a fan of The Kinks. I started reading Phonograph Record Magazine, prompting my curiosity about this “punk rock” craziness. I deepened my appreciation of The Monkees. I switched from AM radio to FM radio. I turned that collective jam-kickin’ mother up. The crucible would turn its heat even higher after graduation, as I heard The Sex Pistols that summer and The RamonesBlondieTelevision, and The Runaways at college that fall. But the spark first ignited when I was still in high school.
Heavy Metal was one of the records I used to bring in to school, tunes to play during an abundance of time spent in the office of my high school literary magazine. Desolation BoulevardRaspberries’ BestThrough The Past, DarklyHistory Of British Rock, Volume 2. Anything by The BeatlesHeavy Metal. Other friends brought in more records to play, and my soundtrack at 17 began to form. The crucible never sounded better.

Over a span of decades, through countless periodic purges of my record collection, every time I’ve been tempted to shed my copy of Heavy Metal, I’ve retained my sense and put it back on my LP shelf instead. I still have it. Hell, I may have it cremated with me when that time comes. And how heavy metal would that be? Kick out the jams, muthuhs and bruthuhs. Kick out the jams.

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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin’ pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins’ BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here. A digital download version (minus The Smithereens’ track) is also available from Futureman Records.

Categories
Pop-A-Looza TV

Todd Rundgren / Time Heals

Song #8 to be played that first day of MTV, was Todd Rundgren‘s “Time Heals,” from his Healing Lp.