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Rusty Young (1946 - 2021)

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Very early Poco. L to R: Jim Messina, George Grantham, Richie Furay, & Rusty Young I'm not sure I've ever posted anything on this blog two days in a row before today; however, some unfortunate news broke yesterday that is forcing my hand. Even though it's another sad day for earthbound, classic rock fans Rock 'n Roll Heaven just added another member to its all-star band. Poco's Rusty Young passed away on April 14, 2021 at age 75. Young was one of the founding members of Poco, along with Richie Furay and Jim Messina. The latter two asked him to join their new band following the demise of Buffalo Springfield after the steel guitar virtuoso assisted them on the last Springfield album.   Young was the only member of the country-rock pioneers who played on every single Poco record. He was best known for composing two of the group's best known songs, "Rose of Cimarron" (#94 on the Billboard Hot 100) and "Crazy Love" (#17). Almost all of Young&#

Mark Knopfler - Local Hero (1983)

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I was a Dire Straits fan from the very beginning. Their first single "Sultans of Swing," from their debut album released in 1978, knocked me off of my feet. The band's third and fourth albums, Making Movies (1980) and Love Over Gold (1982), were among the best rock records I heard in the 80s. Both were big hits in the U. K. and America. I have to admit I was a little smug when the rest of the world suddenly discovered the band a few years later with "Money for Nothing" from their 1985 album Brothers In Arms . I said to myself, "This album is good but you haven't any idea what you missed." The band's leader, Mark Knopfler, consistently mixed classy guitar playing and singer-songwriter intelligence within the framework of a rock 'n roll band. The combination placed Dire Straits way above many long forgotten 80s synth rock bands, hair bands, and punk rockers. To this day Knopfler remains my favorite guitarist. As much as I liked Dire Str

The Rise Of FM Alternative Rock Radio

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Among my oldest memories are listening to my mother's kitchen radio tuned to the music popular with adults of the early 60s. True, those artists included some giants such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, and Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass, but unfortunately I also had to listen to The Ray Coniff Singers and The Singing Nun . Then, in February 1964 The Beatles arrived in New York to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show . It wasn't love at first sight but my conversion came about swiftly and completely. From then on music superseded baseball as a childhood obsession. The Beatles led me to listen to Philadelphia's only radio station that played rock & roll, top 40 WIBG, 99 on the AM dial. Later I moved on to the more modern, faster-paced WFIL, Famous 56 , who usurped WIBG's throne. For those of us living in the northern Philadelphia suburbs we could also listen to the king of all the top 40 stations, New York City's WABC, Musicradio 77 , whose sig

Desert Hollow - Thirsty (2021)

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Xander Hitzig and Nicole Olney are Desert Hollow , a young California duo who have been compared to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. Musical comparisons to those two 70s legends have become almost too commonplace with any new male/female couple working in country or folk music today. That early praise is often unfair because if the recipients of it do not live up to the positive advance notices they're often looked upon as disappointments. I don't want that to happen to Desert Hollow, but, after you listen to Thirsty -  the couple's five song, debut, EP - you'll know why those analogies are being made.  Olney sounds like Harris when she is front and center and Hitzig harmonizes perfectly with her when he's not singing lead. Hitzig is from rural West Virginia and Olney, his partner in more than just music, is from the California desert. Their rural upbringings heavily influence the pair's sound. Their songs are full of banjos, guitars, fiddles, and tin whistles.

Almost Hits: The Clash - Should I Stay Or Should I Go (1982)

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The Clash were the only punk band I could ever listen to. Perhaps it was because they could find melody, a little bit of harmony and even some thought provoking lyrics and combine them with hooks that could grab you instantly - something no other punk group was ever able to do. Whether they realized it or not The Clash possessed songcraft and that is always a very good thing. The quartet even had a sense of humor and "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" is a good example of that. I'm not sure the song was intended to be funny, but for some reason it always struck me that way. Mick Jones combined his sneering vocals with lyrics such as "If I go there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double." He's telling his girl that she loses either way.  "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" is from  Combat Rock , the last album The Clash recorded with their classic lineup of Jones, guitarist and singer Joe Strummer; bassist Paul Simonon, and Topper Headon - a drumme

Ralph McTell - The Unknown Soldier: Centenary Edition (Featuring Sir Billy Connolly, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Liam Neeson) (2020)

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Ralph McTell has been a much beloved singer-songwriter in the UK for decades, but he is virtually unknown in America except for his outstanding " Streets of London " that he released here almost fifty years ago. The veteran folkie and singer-songwriter with the great baritone voice had this to say to Folk Radio UK -  one of Great Britain's leading music blogs -   about the recent 100th anniversary of the memorial built in Ypres, Belgium that is dedicated to the missing 50,000 unknown British and commonwealth soldiers who died during what was then called The Great War: “ I believe the funeral of The Unknown Soldier is one of the most profoundly moving ceremonies ever conducted. It took place in 11 / 11/ 1920 and was attended by thousands who stood in reverent silence as the coffin was paraded through the streets of London on a gun carriage, drawn by six black horses. The king walked behind the cortege, the bereaved families of those lost in the terrible carnage of WW1 ha

Buried Treasure: Chicago - Night & Day: Big Band (1995)

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Night & Day: Big Band is the album Chicago released in 1995 two years after the ill-fated  Stone of Sisyphus  was recorded.  When I first discovered it in a record store I immediately thought "OMG, more unnecessary dreck from this formerly great band." Then, a different thought popped into my head. "Hey, because it's a big band CD maybe the Chicago horn section is actually playing a prominent role again," and upon listening I was gratified to learn that their original horn section of James Pankow, Walt Parazaider, and Lee Loughnane were all on board and did a really fine job.  Much of  Night & Day  is the closest Chicago came to rediscovering their original jazz-rock roots that they completely abandoned in the late 70s. At the same time  they managed to sound like the Bill Champlin-Jason Scheff version of the band they evolved into in the 90s but with a new a sense of purpose. While the famous outfit doesn't sound like th e vintage Kath-Guercio era

Gurf Morlix - Cut 'N Shoot (2004)

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It doesn't get more honky-tonk than Cut 'N Shoot. Gurf Morlix's third solo CD - all of which were recorded after leaving Lucinda Williams' band behind - is pure truck drivin', cryin' in your beer, woe is me, outlaw, country music. It's classic Grand Ole Opry. It's Buck Owens, Hank Williams and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. It is not for city slickers, but if you own a shotgun, a pickup, and a cowboy hat, this album may be your glass of Bud. When you hear these thirteen tracks you'll instantly know you're listening to the real thing.  The song titles and lyrics tell the whole story. "They're Hangin' Me Tonight" is the obligatory song about hard times and a life gone bad. Titles such as "Were You Lyin' Down When You Stood Me Up?" and "I've Got Half a Mind to Tell the Whole Truth" are not only great stereotypical, country song titles, they are pure rural poetry.  Morlix, who played every instrument except for t