Shot Of Rhythm

[ Saturday, October 14, 2006 ]


A long-lost friend

I've been a huge fan of Rockpile-related records since I was in seventh grade, to almost an obsessive degree. Apart from the obvious, twin-tower appeal of Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, I've always held a soft spot in my heart for Billy Bremner, the group's second guitarist, whose instrumental prowess grounds the band's furious monkey-beat, whose sky-high harmonies lift the Everly-influenced arrangements into the stratosphere, and whose songwriting bridged the gap between Lowe's sophistication and Edmunds' fierce energy. Throughout the band's brief, bright career, Bremner solidified the sound and sent it spiralling in directions that the creative tension between "Basher" Lowe and perfectionist Edmunds might not have otherwise provoked. Chrissie Hynde, among others, recognized Bremner's unique talents, drafting his ringing guitar for Pretenders work on "Back On The Chain Gang" and a few others.

Billy Bremner's newest solo album, NO IFS, BUTS, MAYBES, is only the third of his three-decade-long career, and - for my money - it's his best, far better than his last (the spotty, though occasionally great, A GOOD WEEK'S WORK) and even surpassing his famous '80s one-shot BASH, which produced the minor, Elvis Costello-penned hit "Shatterproof." This new record captures everything I've always liked about Bremner: the aching voice, the richly interlocking guitars, and the song-craft that pushes the limits of the 1950s/1960s form without losing their valuable essence. Bremner's probably never gonna get closer to success than he did in the early-1980s, which is a shame, but at least - somewhere in Sweden, I believe - he's making the kind of records that I could listen to all day long.

"Only The Sound Of My Heart"

"The Real Problem"

"No Ifs, Buts, Maybes"

"Where We Still Call Home"

Remember to check out Chuck Berry week at Living In Stereo, currently featuring my essay on HAIL! HAIL! ROCK AND ROLL.

On the box right now: Waylon Jennings, NASHVILLE REBEL, Disc 2. I miss Waylon...


Dove With Claws [1:57 PM]

[ Friday, October 13, 2006 ]


Check it out

Hey y'all, hop on over to Living In Stereo, where I've just contributed an essay on the fantastic Chuck Berry documentary HAIL! HAIL! ROCK AND ROLL to the site's week-long birthday Berry tribute. I'm proud of the piece, and even prouder that I get to join the discussion on one of the very best and smartest music sites in the known universe. Make sure you check out the other stuff that'll be posted there this week, including the post on Chuck and country already posted by site operator David Cantwell. Fine stuff.

And don't forget that Inner Sleeve benefit tomorrow night (see below)...

I'll be back with music again tomorrow, a few tracks off Billy Bremner's latest. I'll also do my own entry on Chuck Berry next week.

On the box right now: Elton John, THE CAPTAIN AND THE KID.


Dove With Claws [10:26 PM]

[ Wednesday, October 11, 2006 ]


Y'all come

This Saturday, I'm performing at a benefit for Inner Sleeve Records, which we've talked about a bunch on this blog. I'll be joined by a whole bunch of great, talented folks, many of whom are old friends, a camaraderie which should lend the affair a definite community vibe. Below are the details:

"Sing A Song For Mike": A Benefit For Inner Sleeve Records
Wausau, WI
University of Wisconsin-Marathon County Auditorium
Saturday, October 15th
7 PM
Suggested donation: $10, $5 for students

Performers include:
Ann Applegate
The Biscuit Brothers
Jim Carlson
Charles Hughes
Chris Jarvis
Rico Jaeger and Kevin Hartwig
Bryan O'Connor
James Rubino
Arnie Salley
Jon Shea
Dan Venne
and more...

If y'all are in the area, you should try to come. It'll be a great event, for a very, very good cause. Spread the word...

On the box right now: Billy Bremner, NO IFS, BUTS OR MAYBES. Rockpile's secret weapon returns. More on this later.


Dove With Claws [7:21 PM]

[ Sunday, October 08, 2006 ]


David and Goliath

Here's to Candi Staton, whose fiery brand of gospel-drenched soul nearly pulled a major upset last night. A few musically-inclined folks and I had a "soul showdown" of sorts, pairing Motown vs. Memphis/Muscle Shoals in a series of match-ups that the assembled crowd then voted on, choosing their favorite to advance to the next round. (We only got the first round last night.)

Candi Staton ended up drawing The Supremes, which seemed a nearly unsurmountable task. Apart from the fact that name recognition was about 99 to 1 in favor of Diana et al., the warm familiarity that continues to mark Motown's ubiquitous popularity in the culture initially appeared to overwhelm any potential of Ms. Staton pulling out a victory...

...but she almost won. The final vote was: Supremes 14, and Staton 13. Not a bad showing for an artist who only a handful of attendees had even heard of before the event. Of course, judging by the records alone, it's no contest in the opposite direction.

"I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart (Than Be A Young Man's Fool)"

"Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man"

"Do Your Duty"

On the box right now: Howard Tate, A PORTRAIT OF HOWARD TATE.


Dove With Claws [8:25 PM]