Jonathan Demme has died.

Jonathan Demme’s life is rightly noted for his versatile and diverse talents and interests, though his love of music seems to be the unifying connection between his genre films, documentaries, blockbusters, and humanitarian work. I liked much of his oeuvre, maybe not as passionately as some, but I admired his restless and generous life. And when I heard the news I thought of this, as I’m sure did many:

J. Geils Blues Band Loses J. Geils

John Miller came into the lunch room at Smithtown Central and said something like, I’ve got the new Rolling Stones. What he meant was he’d heard the J. Geils Band’s first album.

It turns out that the J. Geils Band wasn’t the new Stones, the Stones themselves were just escalating into an incredible streak of great music, but the J. Geils Band was great fun. Especially before they became sexy hitmakers. Good for them to make the money, but the love was in those early cuts, like this one.

But Good Old Can Make Good New (Relatively New, At Least)

Have still been thinking about Chuck Berry’s passing and I’m most always thinking about my beloved Hellas. This morning I woke up realizing how this song that knocks about in my head from time to time is little more than souped up “Sweet Little Sixteen.”

And by the way, the righthanded guitarist (not lefty Nikke the singer) died in February.

Another one bites the dust.

Chuck Berry Is On Top

By Source, Fair use,

Dick Clark introduces an appearance by Berry promoting this album and stumbles over the title, with the audience tittering at the double entendre. Really?

It is 1959, and, as Clark mentions, this is an album that has on it Carol, Maybelline, Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven, Little Queenie and many more.

Those were the days of album oriented rock. Not.

It’s an incredible trove, not a greatest hits album, that the Rolling Stones particularly mined for their early (and later) setlists.

Berry, of course, looks right at home playing along to this other cut, Back in the USA, that is also on Chuck Berry is on Top, with the totally white and polite audience clapping along.



Al Jarreau has died.

We like what we like. You get to judge. Here’s my story, and no apologies.

Al Jarreau died yesterday. When I heard the news I immediately thought of Teach Me Tonight. I loved that song.

I don’t know much of Jarreau’s career, which was a good one according to everyone, but what I know is that album that has Teach Me Tonight on it. I have that album in my basement, and if I had an actual record player I think I would play it sometimes.  Or would have.

When I got back to my house today, after the news of Jarreau’s demise, I searched YouTube for Teach Me Tonight, and after listening I wasn’t so sure I should write about it. But that’s crap. I should write about it.

Jarreau’s version of a classic is all crudded up with mature music frou frou, and if I was smarter I would have hated it. But I didn’t. I really liked it as a contemporary soul/jazz sounding version of an old song. It’s good to be soft. I love his voice. It is clear and melodic. I liked it. I have to admit it.

On the other hand, I was also familiar with Dinah Washington’s version.

This gets it. Enough said.


Ack, Butch Trucks (1947-2017), Too? It’s All Too Much!

Gad ,what a bad run of obits here the past few days. Now, the great time keeper for the Allman Brothers Band has passed on, just shy of 70 years of age

Trucks, who was with the band starting in 1968, had that great swinging percussive style that drove, complemented, and cemented the otherwise fluid playings of the band, just as Bill Kreutzman was at the bottom of the Dead, with Jai-Johanny Johnson playing the rhymthic counterpart to Trucks that Mickey Hart was to Kreutzman.

I guess that is a pretentious sounding sentence of nothing, but what I mean is the band certainly could interplay as on One Way Out , a song that holds arguably the best live trading of licks/solos anywhere ever with a pair of ass-kickers knocked out by Brothers Duane and Betts.  But, beneath the guitars, check out the drumming, which is so there and in time behind some very difficult time and phrasing.

And, well everyone who owns a Bic lighter knows the drive that Whippin’ Post held,

and, the band could also be so melodic and soulful with tunes like In Memory of Miss Elizabeth Reed.

Trucks’ DNA is also linked to nephews Derek Trucks (Tedeschi-Trucks Band guitarist)  and Duane Trucks (drums for Widespread Panic).

Live the eternal long, and prosper Butch…

Oh No, Not Overend!

Pete “Overend” Watts, bassist for Mott The Hoople, has died at 69 of throat cancer. There are several important Motts still left (I’ve heard Ian Hunter’s latest is really good and I plan to get it), but this makes two down as drummer Buffin died a year or two ago.

I didn’t see Mott The Hoople, just Mott a little later, but Overend was certainly the rock ‘n’ roll shit, strutting around with his seven-inch heel boots and hairstyle you’d probably know better as Johnny Ramone’s.

MTH meant and still means a lot to me. My first taste came from an 8-track of The Hoople that I bought off a kid I worked with at Dorney Park in the summer of 1976 for a couple bucks. It’s one of my all-time faves, making both my top 50 when we did those lists a couple years ago and my Teen list last week. In usual backwards style, I first got into the last-gasp Hoople, with Ariel Bender on guitar, then “progressed” to Mott (probably because they existed) and then went back years later to catch up on the also-excellent earlier Mick Ralphs stuff. Maybe it’s due to the order I learned it, and surely it’s Dave Marsh heresy, but I always preferred Bender’s more over the top guitar style to Ralphs’ subtlety. It’s all good.

Before someone posts one of the obligatories, I’ll give you Pearl ‘N’ Roy, from The Hoople, maybe my favorite track on one of my favorite albums, arguably my favorite Mott song of all. Particularly love the sad, wailing guitar solo as the song fades.

RIP Overend!!!

Sharon Jones Has Died

In a week of sad deaths, I have no personal stake in the death of Sharon Jones.

I’m not heartless, I just mean that despite her gifts as a singer, and the obvious talents of the Dap Kings, I found much of their music more a simulation of other music than something organic. Music of nostalghia rather than experience.

I always put Sharon Jones in the same basket of imponderables that I put Gillian Welch, an Appalachian archivist who mimicked old styles more than create her own.

That said, Sharon Jones had a great soulful voice, as Gillian Welch did fine Appalachian holler, and with the Dap Kings made sounds that were totally derived from the old music, but live in real time. I think that means they made me think I was living in those days, though I won’t testify to that.

In any case, she has died, and left a funky body of work behind.


Mose Allison Has Died

I grew up in the town where the great jazz pianist lived. That would be Smithtown, New York. The reason we knew who Mose Allison was, however, was this blistering recording of his song Young Man Blues.

Allison lived in a development house next to the high school I went to, and we sometimes stood in the schoolyard looking at his house (or what someone said was his house) and imagine the Who stopping by for sandwiches and a jam session.

I later saw him in shows at jazz clubs and the Bottom Line in New York City, and there are special times when his music is awfully good to go to. Casual, bluesy, often funny, it’s cool jazz and warm blues. Maybe you’d call it amiable. Maybe I already did.