Monday, April 30, 2012



GRAMMY winner Shelby Lynne has asked fans to help her recover three prized guitars and a ukulele that disappeared after her April 5 show in Norfolk, VA. After investigation, it has been determined that the instruments were stolen. A reward will be offered to the individual(s) who provides information leading to the recovery of the items. Information can be sent to

The missing instruments include her 1967 Gibson B-25, a guitar near and dear to her heart. "I wrote every note of Revelation Road on the 67," says Shelby.

The critically acclaimed Revelation Road is the third album released on her own independent label, EVERSO Records. Lynne had just wrapped up thespring leg of her first-ever solo acoustic tour when the theft occurred.

The missing items include:

1. One guitar-shaped blue Calton fiberglass guitar case, containing 1967 Gibson B-25

2. One guitar-shaped black fiberboard guitar case wrapped with tape, containing 1968 Gibson B-25

3. One guitar-shaped dark brown hard guitar case, containing 1995 Gibson AJ Acoustic

4. One smaller guitar-shaped hard ukulele case, containing 1968 Martin Baritone Ukulele

Photos of the instruments have been posted at

# # #

For more information on SHELBY LYNNE, contact:

Judi Kerr, Judi Kerr Public Relations

(310) 477-8191

or visit:

Introducing LitFactor: a new social community for unpublished authors set to transform Literary Agent submissions

I caught a press release for this web site this morning and thought I’d share it with all the authors and aspiring authors out there. It looks like it could be a valuable resource.


Today we are announcing the soft launch of LitFactor, the world's first online social community designed to unite writers and Literary
Agents in the name of new writing.

For the first time, Authors will be able to rate and review the agents they apply to. LitFactor believes that writers should be given the
opportunity to speak as a whole, not just with a small voice at the end of a letter.

We want to simplify the submissions process for Literary Agents too,
making it much easier for them to find that bestseller-in-waiting
by opening up and streamlining the process, keeping authors and agents
connected and up to date, enabling them to share news and information.

top%20a%20sign%20up%20boxLitFactor is an exciting new step into the future of publishing; we hope you'll join us on the journey at

LitFactor is currently in BETA version and will be rolling out lots of fantastic new added content and functions over the next few months.

For more information on LitFactor, please contact me directly.

Kind regards
Hayley Radford, Director of Marketing, Authoright PR

Thursday, April 26, 2012

International recording artist, Eli, fuses Latin, Rock, and Funk on "Can't Be Love"

Take the raw power of Lenny Kravitz and the sizzle of Marc Antony, throw in a groove that swings from reggae to pop/rock to bossa nova, and you’ve got the recipe for a truly international artist. Enter Eli.

His music is sincere and heartfelt and as an artist Eli (pronounced ehl-lee) bridges the international gap, bringing world music to the pop market. Check out his new single "Can't Be Love" - off his upcoming EP, FIVE.



Take the raw power of Lenny Kravitz and the sizzle of Marc Antony, throw in a groove that swings from reggae pop/rock and ska to bossa nova, and you’ve got the recipe for a truly international artist: Eli. His music is sincere and heartfelt and as an artist Eli bridges the international gap, bringing world music to the pop market.

Eli’s music doesn’t fit into a tidy description because his songs have grown from real experiences coloured by real people. Human encounters are often unpredictable, sometimes funny and sometimes sobering, but almost always revealing. Eli’s songs are reflective of these truths. His music comes from a place of honesty: Eli sings what he sees and he sings what he feels. As someone who has travelled the world and who has had the opportunity to experience life through a variety of cultural viewpoints, his musical expression is just as much universal as it is diverse.

Lyrics are subtly political, using relationships between people as a way to address deeper issues in the world. The sound is smooth with an edge, noteworthy for its clean electric guitars, its twist of world rhythms and Eli’s clear and confident voice. It’s a sound that translates well to a live set. Eli has performed in Europe and the Middle East, though most listeners here in Canada will be more familiar with the stage at Tattoo Rock Parlour in Toronto, where he performed live as a preview to his upcoming album. “I feel alive and right at home onstage,” says Eli, “It’s a rush feeling the energy of the band around me while I’m singing to a great crowd.”

FIVE - EP (Coming this Spring)
V.I.B.E.S. Records

Look for a review of the EP on The Dirty Lowdown close to the release date.

Connect with Eli:

Music Video Review: “The B-52s With The Wild Crowd: Live In Athens, GA.” Available on DVD & Blue Ray


B52's: With The Wild Crowd! Live In Athens, GA [Blu-ray]

Last October I had the privilege of listening to, and reviewing, The B-52s live album,  With The Wild Crowd. believe it or not, it was this iconic party bands first ever live album. What was really great, it was a concert in their home town of Athens, GA. performed and recorded on Valentines, 2011 in celebration of the bands 34th anniversary. The album, and the review, were overwhelmingly received by the “wig-wearing, boa draped glitter-covered rabid fans”!

Well as of March 20 this year you can now buy the High Definition video made at that concert. It’s available on both DVD & Blu-ray.

B-52s “With The Wild Crowd”

Behind the power of the reception, and having just celebrated their 35th Anniversary the band has
announced plans to embark on a very special 35th Anniversary Tour in Summer 2012, including many co-bill dates with their good friends Squeeze. Can another studio album be far behind?

Only the B-52s can lay claim to their one-of-a-kind sound. There's certainly no mistaking the signature call-and-response vocal play of singers Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, and Cindy Wilson matched with the unique guitar stylings of Keith Strickland.

On the Video, the pop hits are non stop, they rule the dancehalls and keep the fans on their feet. All 131 minutes are filled with a vibrant energy. The video includes all 18 songs from the CD plus two extras and if that’s not enough, the video includes a bonus feature of an interview with the band.

You’ll want to add this one to your video collection. It was certainly a historic event in pop music history as they delivered as only they can a sizzling set that had The Athens Classic Center rocking out.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: “David Goodis : 5 Noir Novels of the ‘40s &’50s” Robert Polito, Editor


David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s (Library of America)

David Goodis established himself as the successor to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler with the publication of his first book Retreat from Oblivion in 1939. The year before he had graduated from Temple University, so Retreat boded well for a young author. Unfortunately, his career began at a time that many consider the twilight of the Hardboiled era in fiction. Additionally, the world was on the cusp of yet another Great War.

During the 1940s, having moved to New York City, Goodis scripted for radio adventure serials, including Hop Harrigan, House of Mystery, and Superman. Novels he wrote during the early 1940s were rejected by publishers, but in 1942 he spent some time in Hollywood as one of the screenwriters on Universal’s Destination Unknown. His next novel wouldn’t come until 1946 when Dark Passage was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, published by Julian Messner and filmed for Warner Bros. with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall heading the cast.

Now, The Library Of America who in ‘97 issued the books, Crime Novels: American Noir gathered, in two volumes, eleven classic works of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s––among them David Goodis’s
moody and intensely lyrical masterpiece Down There. Now, they  have teamed with editor Robert Polito to gather five of Goodis’ seminal works of the genre that became known as Noir. Goodis, along with James M. Cain and Jim Thompson, are today considered the ‘godfathers’ of Noir and for good reason. They wrote of ‘the mean streets’ but the people that populated their novels were doomed. They had very few redeeming qualities and the lines were often blurred between right and wrong, good and evil, and hero and villain.

Layout 1

This volume opens with Dark Passage, considered by some as his masterpiece, but regardless, it was his first big break through in 1946, and later on, it made history in a copyright lawsuit. More on that in a minute. The story centers on Vince Parry, who is in prison, convicted of killing his wife. Parry was a decent sort of guy, quiet, never bothered anybody, not too ambitious and worked as a clerk in an investment house bringing home $35 a week. He’d only been married for sixteen months when his wife was found by a neighbor, in her house with her head bashed in. But, before the wife died she supposedly whispered to the neighbor that Parry had hit her with a heavy glass ash tray. The police found the wife's' blood on the ash tray and Parry’s fingerprints on it. To make matters worse, as they are wont to do in noir novels, it came out at trial that Parry hadn’t been getting along with his wife and was seeing other women, the fact that the wife had been seeing other men didn’t make much of a difference to the jury. With no alibi, Parry is sentenced to San Quentin.

He plots an escape, and after carrying out the careful plan, he makes his way out of the prison in a very harrowing and realistic way. But, after the escape, while attempting to hitch a ride, he ends up killing a man. Finally picked up by a woman, Irene Jansen, he hitches back into the Bay area and Irene confesses that she suspected who he was, having followed his case in the papers, and then, hearing on the radio, of his prison break had gone looking for him, guessing his route. Irene agrees to hide him in her apartment and provide him with the means to go looking for the real killer.

The tension, and psychological suspense that Goodis paints during these scenes would become a trade mark. Parry is divided between being grateful for the help Irene provides him and the fear of leaving behind a witness who could provide the police with clues as to his activities. Finally, having difficulties staying hidden at Irene’s apartment because of  Madge Rapf, the spiteful and melodramatic woman whose testimony sent him up to prison, keeps stopping by. It seems that Irene has been simultaneously carrying on a friendship with Madge and an affair with Madge’s husband. Irene gives Parry money, and he leaves her apartment, where he starts his quest for the real killers. Along the way he meets a helpful cabbie, who gives him a tip on a plastic surgeon who can inexpensively change his appearance to help him elude the cops.

The novel, with a boost from the Bogart/Bacall movie the very next year, put Goodis on the map as a serious novelist of noir. One interesting aside is that the novel became the set piece in a legal battle between Goodis estate and United Artists Television. The Goodis estate claimed that the UA series The Fugitive constituted copyright infringement. United Artists claimed that the work had fallen into the public domain under the terms of the Copyright Act of 1909 because it had been first published as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post, and that Goodis never obtained a separate copyright on the book. The court found in the estates favor and stated that the law only defined the standing of a work, and should not operate to completely deprive a claimant of his copyright.

In 1947s Nightfall, Goodis would continue to expand his reputation as a master of the genre.  Continuing with the man on the run from the law themes of Dark Passage, Nightfall  also adds the element of the protagonist on the run from some bad guys. Artist Jim Vanning is on the run in New York City, working as a commercial artist. Three gangster hoods are after him, thinking he has a suitcase full of $300,000 of their money. Vanning doesn’t have the money, but this fact won’t deter the hoods as Vanning did have it, but lost it. From there, the plot get complicated. A detective Fraser is on to Vanning, and though he suspects that Vanning may have stolen the money, he doesn’t picture him as the killer of the man who had the money. Naturally, there’s a dame involved. There always is a femme fatale in these great stories and Vanning has to decide whether the alluring Martha is with the crooks or if she is just a dupe for the crooks and being used for bait. The prose are taut and well crafted as you would expect from an author who achieved cult status. It’s packed with action and scenes that would become standard fare for the authors after Goodis that worked in the noir genre.

Layout 1

The other works chosen here are The Moon in the Gutter (1953), which tells the story of a street hardened man whose sister commits suicide after being raped. With  his marriage on the rocks and questions to be answered in his quest for the man that drove his sister to despair,  he meets a rich woman. The beautiful Loretta provides him with an escape route out of the mean streets of “Filth-adelphia” , but he learns you can take the tough guy out of the alley, but you can’t take the alley out of the tough guy. The dialogue is perhaps some of Goodis’ most hardboiled. The Burglar (1953) is the story of Nat Harbin, the scion of a family of Burglars who upon finding love looks for a way to leave his ‘family’ and past behind. As Ed Gorman wrote in The Big Book Of Noir, Goodis didn’t write novels, he wrote suicide notes. At heart the novel has themes of crime, honor, loyalty and a futile search for redemption. And finally, 1954s Street of No Return tells the story of Whitey, a singer with a million dollar voice. With that voice, women came under his spell and would sacrifice their body and their soul. He could have been another Sinatra until he met a woman who would prove to be his downfall. The story is told as a tale of Whitey’s past to his wino buddy's in the present and we follow Whitey from that once glorious future through a nightmare descent into oblivion. Whitey now has no future, and only wants the next drink. Along the way Goodis paints the times with hard boiled pictures of Philadelphia and life on the streets and uses historical events such as Puerto Rican race riots as a back drop.

Upon Goodis return from New York in 1950, he lived with his parents in Philadelphia along with his schizophrenic brother Herbert. At night, he prowled the underside of Philadelphia, hanging out in nightclubs and seedy bars, a milieu he depicted in his fiction. He died in January 1967 a week after suffering a beating in a robbery attempt. He died at the age of forty-nine, one month after winning the “Fugitive” lawsuit. But during his life, The Pulp Poet of the Lost and The Prince Of The Losers made a mark on the world of fiction that many noir authors of the present day readily acknowledge.

LOA logoLibrary Of America is dedicated to preserving the nation's cultural heritage by publishing America's best and most significant writing in authoritative editions.

politopic_homepageRobert Polito, the editor is a poet, biographer, and critic whose Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson received the National Book Critics Circle Award. He directs the Graduate Writing Program at the New School.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved


Article first published as Book Review: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and the 50s by David Goodis, Robert Polito, Editor on Blogcritics.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Video Review: “All JAMS On Deck” The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise


All Jams On Deck – the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise Presents.

This video just ‘rocks the blues’. It was originally put together to give away as a souvenir for voyagers on the legendary Blues Cruises, All Jams on Deck is becoming known as a film all blues lovers in general should enjoy.  The performances alone will have you dancing in your living room. Tommy Castro, Elvin Bishop, Marcia Ball, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Kim Wilson, Lee Oskar, Commander Cody, Coco Montoya, Lowrider Band, Larry McCray, Rick Estrin, Jimmy Thackery, Sista Monica Parker, John Nemeth, Steve Berlin, Vasti Jackson, Leon Blue, Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, Eden Brent, Mike Schermer and many more.  It’s a virtual who’s who of living blues artists.

All Jams on Deck, the new 96-minute documentary by famed music filmmaker Robert Mugge ( is now available on DVD for the enjoyment of blues fans everywhere.  Produced by Mugge and his partner Diana Zelman, executive produced by CEO Roger Naber of Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, LLC (, and shot/recorded entirely on Naber's October 2010 Blues Cruise to the Mexican Riviera, this Mug-Shot Production is the first film ever to focus on the art form of blues jamming. It also happens to be nominated for Best DVD in the Blues Foundation's 2012 Blues Music Awards competition, with the winner to be announced at the 33rd Blues Music Awards ceremony in Memphis on May 10th.

Aside from a shipping and handling fee of $5.95, DVD copies can be acquired free of charge by ordering from the Blues Cruise website:

Many of the performances in the film were captured during the after-hours "pro jams" that take place nightly on the ship's aft Pool Deck, each of them overseen by a different major artist or band.  Among the songs recorded during those jams are "A Good Fool Is Hard To Find" and "I Feel That Old Feeling Coming On" led by Tommy Castro; "I Woke Up Screaming," led by Marcia Ball; "Last Dirty Deal," led by Coco Montoya, "Kim's Jam" and "Take A Little Walk With Me," led by Kim Wilson; and "Lowrider Jam," led by the Lowrider Band.  Jams captured in other show settings include Elvin Bishop and John Nemeth leading a performance of Bishop's classic "Fooled Around And Fell In Love;" Elvin Bishop sitting in with Johnny and Edgar Winter on "Johnny's Jam;" Vasti Jackson sitting in with Coco Montoya for Jackson's "Hurricane Season;" Vasti Jackson and Laith Al-Saadi demonstrating blues guitar techniques; Kim Wilson and Lee Oskar demonstrating blues harp techniques; Commander Cody and Rev. Billy C. Wirtz demonstrating blues piano techniques; and a stageful of top keyboard players from Leon Blue and Steve Willis to Eden Brent and Kelley Hunt performing ensemble versions of "Honky Tonk Train" and "Boogaloo's Boogie."

All Jams on Deck is director Robert Mugge's second blues DVD release of 2012.  The first was Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues, his 90-minute portrait of Ted Drozdowski's blues band, Scissormen, now available from VizzTone as a combination DVD and soundtrack CD.  All Jams on Deck is also the second film produced by Mugge and Diana Zelman with Roger Naber serving as executive producer.  The first film the three made together was Deep Sea Blues, a 118-minute portrait of the January 2007 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise to the Caribbean which is available on DVD from Micro Werks.  

if you are a blues fan, then follow the links and get this DVD for FREE, just pay shipping. And, this video actually is a great primer for aspiring blues players. And, it’s a blast.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Video Review: “Strange Fruit, The Beatles’ Apple Records” on DVD

Strange Fruit

The Beatles - Strange Fruit: The Beatles' Apple Records

Imagine, if you will, a world where the musicians, writers, artists, film-makers, inventors, designers, and other creative types were free of the corporate world and allowed the resources and creative freedom to do whatever they wanted. That is what The Beatles set out to do in 1968. By 1967, they were starting to see the money pouring in from all of their previous years of hard work. They were also about to see a large quantity of that money fly away in the form of taxes. So, they started to explore the idea of forming a company, but not just any company, but a company where the artists would be in charge. Also, a venture that would see them taxed at a much lower rate.

Apple Corps was conceived by Brian Epstein and the band by 1967 when they had released their Magical Mystery Tour film under their new Apple Films division. No matter that, commercially, Magical Mystery Tour was flop and  resoundingly panned by the critics. they went ahead with the idea. Initially they planned to open boutiques and shops to cash in on the hippie movements accessories; Tie-Dye, beads, clothing, posters, lava lamps etc…and Epstein established a small group of companies (Apple Retail, Apple Publishing, Apple Electronics and so on), as part of a plan to create a tax-effective business structure. But then in August, ‘67, Epstein was found dead. Paul and John the took the positions of driving force behind the various commercial ventures, even setting up corporate offices in Baker Street. But, right in the middle of forming this tax haven/creative utopian company, the creators picked up and went to India to follow their guru.

Apple Records was officially founded by the group after their return from India in 1968, as another sub-division of Apple Corps.

The Founding Of Apple Records

Despite a hefty investment, little of substance was forthcoming from these assorted misfits outside of the music that emerged from one division of the potential empire; Apple Records. 

The Beatles ‘discovered’ and signed a marvelous group of artists. Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, Billy Preston, The Modern Jazz Quartet and The Iveys (who later became Badfinger).

Even discounting those Apple platters that featured as artist the collective or individual names of the company's bosses, music that stands the test of time superbly was released under the stamp of this enterprise. Music which remains available still and both popular and exciting more than 40 years after the majority of it was produced.

The Beatles - Strange Fruit: The Beatles' Apple Records is the story of a record label which came to exist under extraordinary circumstances, produced extraordinary records and was operated under extraordinary guidelines. 

Featuring new interviews with former label M.D. Tony Bramwell, members of Badfinger, The Iveys and Elephant's Memory, Jackie Lomax, Brute Force and David Peel, plus musician and Beatles expert Chris Ingham, author and journalist Mark Paytress and Apple biographer Stefan Granados.

The film also includes archive footage of Apple artists and the organization for which they recorded as well as interviews from the vaults, location film, rare photographs and of course, the music upon which the label made its name.

Available tomorrow, April 24, the video is a must for Beatles fans, and collectors of ‘60s music and memorabilia and anyone that remotely calls themselves a music aficionados.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Friday, April 20, 2012

CD Review: “Innervision” by Stevie Wonder in Limited, Numbered 24K Gold Edition

Innervision 24K


It’s hard to believe that in 1973 when Innervision was released that Stevie Wonder had already released fifteen other album, and he was only twenty-three. After wowing the folk at Motown, in 1961 and being dubbed “The Eighth Wonder Of The World” which was, thankfully shortened to Stevie Wonder, Stevland Hardaway Morris released his first two albums, The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie and Tribute to Uncle Ray, in 1962, to little success. Undaunted, Barry Gordy featured the young genius on his 1963, Motor Town Revue, a concert tour featuring almost all of Motown’s artists, along with non Motown artists from time to time. A single taken from a live recording became the 13 year old Stevie Wonders first major hit. "Fingertips (Pt. 2)",  The song, featuring Wonder on vocals, bongos, and harmonica, and a young Marvin Gaye on drums, was a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts, making him the youngest artist to top the former in its history and launching him into the public consciousness.

Wonder went on to have a number of other hits during the mid-1960s, including "Uptight (Everything's Alright)", "With a Child's Heart", and "Blowin' in the Wind", a Bob Dylan cover, co-sung by his mentor, producer Clarence Paul. He also began to work in the Motown songwriting department, composing songs both for himself and his label mates, including "Tears of a Clown", a number one hit performed by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. Between 1968 and 1970 such as "I Was Made to Love Her"; "For Once in My Life" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours".

Finger Tips pt 2

For most artists, that would have been a distinguished career, but Wonder was just getting started. Reaching his twenty-first birthday on May 13, 1971, he allowed his Motown contract to expire.In 1970, Wonder co-wrote, and played numerous instruments on the hit "It's a Shame" for fellow Motown act The Spinners. His contribution was meant to be a showcase of his talent and thus a weapon in his ongoing negotiations with Gordy about creative autonomy. Wonder independently recorded two albums, which he used as a bargaining tool while negotiating with Motown, who agreed to his demands for full creative control and the rights to his own songs. His first album back under the umbrella of the studio was ‘72s Music of My Mind. Unlike most previous albums on Motown, and most ‘black albums’ of the time, which usually consisted of a collection of singles, B-sides and covers, Music of My Mind was a full-length artistic statement with songs flowing together thematically. This is the beginning of Wonder's "classic period", and showcases his earliest experiments with the synthesizer. Also on display were his increasing musical ambitions, with him leveraging different genres of music and utilizing longer song forms. Standout tracks include "Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)", "Happier Than The Morning Sun" and "I Love Every Little Thing About You". The album is now ranked number 284 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

1972, marked the release of the album  Talking Book featuring the No. 1 hit "Superstition", which is one of the most distinctive and famous examples of the sound of the Hohner clavinet keyboard. The song features a rocking groove that garnered Wonder an additional audience on rock radio stations Talking Book also featured "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", which also peaked at No. 1. Wonder began touring with the Rolling Stones to alleviate the negative effects from pigeon-holing as a result of being an R&B artist in America. Wonder's touring with the Stones also helped expose him to a white audience who quickly picked up on this amazing talent and push the album to the rock charts. Wonder was rewarded, between them, the two songs won three Grammy Awards.


Innervisions has been considered by many fans, critics, and colleagues to be among Stevie Wonder's finest work and one of the great albums in popular music history. The album has been revisited countless times in different lists of the greatest albums of all time. The album debuted on the Billboard Album Charts on August 18, 1973 at number 85. By September 15, it was number 4. And it remained inside the Top 20 until the end of the year and remained inside the whole Top 200 during the whole calendar year of 1975. It also became Stevie Wonder's first album ever to reach the UK Top 10. The nine tracks of Innervisions encompass a wide range of themes and issues: from drug abuse in "Too High," through social anger in "Living for the City," to love in the ballads "All in Love is Fair" and "Golden Lady." But, regardless of the range of themes, the album still maintained an over all feel of a complete work, and not the earlier collection of singles approach. It was rewarded again at the Grammy Awards where Wonder cleaned up for the second year in a row.

Innervisions won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording in 1974, while "Living for the City" won the Grammy for Best R&B Song. perhaps, more than anything the album proved to the white music industry something that Motown had learned more than a decade earlier. Wonder was a force to be reckoned with, and deserving of the title “The Young Genius”. The album still, today, displays a beautiful fusion of the lyric as a didactic. It teaches and has a moral message that applies today, as much as it did almost 40 years ago. It's a view that's basically optimistic, a constant search for the 'Higher Ground', and that we can navigate the mean streets, but that path is full of snares: dope, deceit, and the toxic atmosphere that the city can be. It seems to say that it’s easy to delude yourself but you have to be well, to keep your eye on the prize and see through the lies and drudgery, to pay your dues and  accept the present.

Living For The City
is a timeless classic and I for one am glad that audio fidAUDIO FIDELITY reissued in Gold, Limited Edition format this land mark that fuses social realism with spiritual idealism. Audio Fidelity’s 24K+ compact discs reproduce the ultimate sound of a classic recorded performance without the irregular plated surfaces of standard aluminum discs  bringing the listener classic music in deluxe packaging with see-through slip cases. Click the logo to check out their other offerings.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 19, 2012

CD Review: “The Essential Blue Öyster Cult” 2CD Set

Blue Oyster Cult 2cd

The Essential Blue Oyster Cult

Blue Öyster Cult was originally formed as a band called Soft White Underbelly in 1967, consisting of guitarist Buck Dharma, drummer Albert Bouchard, keyboardist Allen Lanier, singer Les Braunstein and bassist Andrew Winters. The band was managed by critic/manager Sandy Pearlman, who prompted the name change to Blue Öyster Cult, as America’s answer to Black Sabbath, before their first album came out in ‘72. Pearlman and writer Richard Meltzer contributed poetry and lyrics for a large volume of the bands songs, then and now.

Their self-titled debut was released in January 1972, with a black and white cover designed by artist Bill Gawlik. The album featured the songs, many of which would become classics, "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll", "Stairway to the Stars," and "Then Came the Last Days of May". The album sold well, and Blue Öyster Cult toured with artists such as The Byrds, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Alice Cooper. Tyranny And Mutation followed the very next year and contained most notably collaborations with Patti Smith, who would have a long history with the band. By the time the band's third album, Secret Treaties,  was released and because of constant touring, they were finally able to headline arena shows.

“Don’t Fear The Reaper’

When they cut the album Agents Of Fortune with the number 12 hit song “Don’t Fear The Reaper” their place in history was set. The album also contained other minor hits and concert favorites,  "(This Ain't) The Summer of Love," "E.T.I. (Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence)," and "The Revenge of Vera Gemini." For the tour, the band added lasers to their light show, for which they became known. Other hits followed on future albums, the FM radio hit "Godzilla" (‘77), 1980s "Black Blade," 1981 brought the Top 40 hit "Burnin' for You", but more importantly for the band it brought MTV. The band's music videos, especially "Burnin' for You", received heavy if not daily rotation on MTV when the music television network premiered in 1981 cementing the band's contribution to the development and success of the music video in modern pop culture.

From then through 1983, the band spent a lot of time on the charts, and selling out concerts, and cutting classic hits, most of which can be heard on this 2 CD set. When "Shooting Shark," co-written by Patti Smith from the album, The Revölution by Night reached only 83 on the charts, the band took the next couple of years off from cutting records. When ‘85s Club Ninja was poorly received by the fans, the critics and MTV, the band virtually broke up with only two original members playing as what the fans called “Two Oyster Cult”.

“Burnin’ For You”

They toured for the next eleven years without cutting an album. But as a prototype heavy metal band, Blue Öyster Cult has a lasting influence that can be seen in groups like Metallica and Iced Earth have covered their songs on studio recordings and during live performances. "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" has also been covered by many diverse artists, notably Evanescence, HIM, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Beautiful South, Wilco, Big Country, and deceased singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. They also influenced many early punk bands, and harder-edged, psychedelic bands in the modern jam band scene because of their intimate live shows and extended improvisations.

This must have collection of their greatest and most popular radio hits, MTV favorites and fan favorites was put together by Columbia/Legacy and contains 31 songs on 2 CDs. Among the most intelligent and accomplished musicians ever to storm the fortress that is Hard Rock, Blue Öyster Cult has continued to forge its own path over the course of four decades.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

CD Review: “Thick As A Brick 2” Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson


Thick As A Brick 2 Special Edition

In 1972 Gerald “Little Milton” Bostock, an 8 year old English school boy,  wrote a poem and won a poetry contest with that poem. The poem was “Thick As A Brick”, and chronicled the hardships of growing up. But then something terrible happened. Gerald and his poem were disqualified after a multitude of protests and threats concerning the offensive nature of the poem, furthered by allegations of the boy's psychological instability. It seems young Gerald used the word "g__r" during a television broadcast, and to add flame to the fire, a 14-year-old girl named Julia Fealey became pregnant and claimed Gerald was expert at more than poetry. This whole tawdry episode was chronicled in The St. Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser, a local village Newspaper filled with the usual parochial and amateurish  journalism. The story was on the front page along with an article about an ‘experimental non-rabbit’, a rather naughty connect-the-dots children's activity, the complete, non abridged poem itself ,as well as a review of an album by, the soon to be labeled “progressive rock” but for now blues/jazz/rock band, Jethro Tull who cut an album with “Little Milton’s” complete poem as its one and only lyric.

Now, all of the above is legend, if you haven’t figured that out yet...except for the album being cut by the ‘progressive’ rock band, Jethro Tull. By 1972, Jethro Tull were gaining international recognition as sort of a second wave in the British Invasion. The story of Gerald Bostock, and the ensuing row over his poem, not to mention his success with Ms. Fealey were all the product of Ian Anderson’s mind. After all, just how much could an 8 year old poetry prodigy tell us about growing up? And the album, Thick As a Brick was, itself, a satirical spoof. Ian Anderson was surprised by the critical reaction to the previous album, Aqualung , as a "concept album", a label he has firmly rejected to this day. Further, he was rather miffed at having Tull labeled a progressive rock band and grouped with Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

“Thick As A Brick pt1”

Anderson's response was: "If the critics want a concept album we'll give them the mother of all concept albums and we'll make it so bombastic and so over the top." Ian Anderson has been quoted as stating that Thick as a Brick was written "because everyone was saying we were a progressive rock band, so we decided to live up to the reputation and write a progressive album, but done as a parody of the genre." So the band created an album deliberately integrated around one concept: a poem by Gerald about the trials of growing up. Beyond this, the album was a send-up of all pretentious "concept albums". Even the title refers to someone slow to learn. But maybe the biggest joke was that it worked! the album hit number one in the U.S. The album is notable for its many musical themes, time signature changes and tempo shifts as well as the instrumentation which includes harpsichord, xylophone, timpani, violin, lute, trumpet, saxophone, and a string section. Not exactly your average blues rock lineup, ehh?

Well here it is 40 years later and Gerald is all grown up. Anderson set out, on TAAB 2 to write songs that would update the story. "I wonder what the eight-year-old Gerald Bostock would be doing today. Would the fabled newspaper still exist? (it does, as a dot com of course) " The  album presents five very different , hypothetical life stories for Gerald Bostock, including: a greedy investment banker, a homosexual homeless man, a determined soldier, a sanctimonious church chorister, and a "most ordinary man" who (married and childless) owns a corner store; by the end of the album, however, all five possibilities seem to converge in a similar concluding moment of gloomy or pitiful solitude.

“What ifs, maybes and might-of-beens,”

The style of the mock-newspaper cover of the original Thick as a Brick album follows forward forty years as well, an online newspaper has been set up, simply entitled StCleve: so Anderson hasn’t lost his satirical sense of humor over the years. And, now that the story has come near full circle, the album asks the question how our own lives developed, and did we end up what we dreamed of being then, or are we surprised and disappointed at the result? And, are there similarities to our dreams, even though that result is different? It’s an album that shines a light on those “what if?” moments us baby boomers are bound to have had.  “What ifs, maybes and might-of-beens, perhaps and wait and sees”.

Though it would be near impossible to recreate the astounding ground breaking musical strides of the 1972 original, which is one of the most successful rock albums of all time, but it would have been just as impossible to accomplish that and complete Gerald’s journey. Nevertheless, Ian Anderson has managed to create a great album of “progressive rock”, “Jethro Tull” music updating the story while staying true to the original. The band, even though only Anderson and Scott Hammond, the drummer, remain from the first classic session, is just as interesting and musically disciplined as the classic Tull lineup.

Official TAAB 2 Trailer

The album comes in a ‘standard jewel case’ CD, digital download , and the version I would recommend, a  Special Edition 2-Disc package with a DVD featuring 5.1 stereo mixes, 24 bit stereo, video of the making of TAAB 2, interviews with the musicians and Anderson reading the lyrics in various locations….he may even be in the village square in St. Cleve…


The band is touring extensively throughout The UK, Europe, and North America in support of the album. During some shows they will perform the original Thick As A Brick in its entirety, and rumor has it that at some venues they will be performing both TAAB, and TAAB 2 back to back as well as other hit songs from their career. Check their web site for dates and venues.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CD Review: “Red And Blue” by Mad Buffalo


Red and Blue

This CD is full of dissonance. Not musically; the tunes are for the most part melodic and wonderful stories. No, the dissonance resides in the struggle of the ‘all to modern’ present battling with the past. Where man struggles with nature and where music as a product wrestles with music that warms the heart, kick starts the brain, and tells a story of both our heritage and where our heritage is headed if we don’t wake up.

It’s not that the songs don’t have commercial value, but that they weren’t written, or indeed performed, to be a ‘product’. All of the songs presented here are in the simplest sense, stories. And the stories are about everything from forests to factories, prairies to parking lots.

With a sound that is at home in alt-country, Americana, and folk music,  influenced by Neil Young, Woody Guthrie and countless other song writers concerned with earths natural beauty and worth, not measured by what we can take out or change but by what she gives us and how we can preserve her.

‘Destination Unknown” by Mad Buffalo from the 2008 album “Wilderness”

Mad Buffalo is the nom de plume of singer/ songwriter/guitarist Randy Riviere (pronounced Ri -VEER) who hails from the Big Sky country of Montana. On this album his band consists of a stellar cast of Nashville musicians, including legendary guitarist Reggie Young, as well as Jack Holder (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Kevin McKendree (keyboards and vocals), James Pennebaker (guitar, violin, mandolin, banjo), Shane Dwight (vocals), Dave Roe and Craig Young (bass) and Chad Cromwell (drums). The album was produced by Chad Cromwell and Randy Riviere and recorded at Cromwell’s Lamplight Studio in Primm Springs, Tennessee.

The tunes presented here paint images not necessarily specific to events, but more universal and evocative. Those images will draw pictures that are new, yet somehow familiar. “Tides’ is a good example. It’s a down tempo ballad about ‘bad weather’ (“It rained some today and there’s more that’s on the way.") and then Riviere inserts  enigmatic  asides and images (“Found a note slid under my door, you ain’t coming here no more.”) He paints an atmosphere, a scene more through implication than graphic representation.

Riviere, when he isn’t writing beautiful music,  is  a wildlife biologist, and he draws from the time spent in solitude in the wilderness to breathe life into his lyrics. His use of metaphor is wonderful and subtle. His reverence for the land and nature is clear, but it is not all abstracts or still life’s he paints. “Big Joe Walker” is a very human song of romantic optimism.

Politics is bound to pop up with these kinds of themes but not as an ugly, corporate sermon, but in an abstract way that looks at the dark side of human ambition. The songs don’t necessarily preach. They leave a lot of the answer up to the listener to solve or arrive at on their own.

It’s through  these vivid scenes and leaving it to the listener to come to a conclusion that he opens his music to all of us in a way that has rarely been accomplished since Bob Dylan hitched a ride to new York City back in the early 60s.


Visit his web site for a listen to his earlier three CDs and his tour schedule. Just click the picture. Wonderful album that succeeds on all levels.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

CD Review: “Sweeten The Distance” by Neal Casal

Neal casal

Sweeten the Distance

After joining Ryan Adams and the Cardinals in 2005, the alt-country rockers had their biggest success, commercially, with the album, Easy Tiger which reached #7 on the Billboard Charts and he was with the Cardinals when they backed Willie Nelson on the album, Song Bird . Neal Casal was already a road worthy veteran as solo artist long before that. Between 1994 and 2005, Casal had recorded nine critically acclaimed solo albums. Having left the Cardinals in 2010 (after Adams had left and the bands only remaining original member was the drummer) Casal is getting back in the solo saddle with Sweeten The Distance, which hit the streets on April 10.

As ‘right-at-home’ as Casals guitar and piano work felt in the Cardinals, Sweeten The Distance has him feeling like he is glad to be the boss again. The album shows him in full creative flight and not leaving any facet of pop/folk/psych folk/soft rock untouched. His guitar work is as good as ever, but it is his song writing and delivery, vocally, that make the album stand out.

On the title track, the lyric declares this freedom “Nothing’s gonna stop you now, everything you want is coming in good time”. Here’s the song solo, it is treated with full studio accompaniment on the album.

“Sweeten The Distance”

The songs on the album show many influences from vocals that bring to mind Neil Young to songs that channel Bob Dylan, but more than anything it is Casal stepping out into the lime light. The tunes are filled with sophisticated melodies, acoustic guitar textures that are meticulous, and multi-dimensional.  he shows his California roots with some fine psych-rock tunes such as “White Fence Round House’ and one of my favorites, with its beach atmosphere, “How Quiet It Got”.

“How Quiet It Got”

All in all, Sweeten the Distance is a sonic treat and contains many “radio worthy” songs that should help it grow legs. He’s touring both solo and as an important part of the band, Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Click here for dates.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Review: “An Accidental Affair” by Eric Jerome Dickey


An Accidental Affair

Once again, Eric Jerome Dickey has written a  genre bending, a genre ‘blending’ story that is chalk full of danger, intrigue, mysterious characters with shady motives, murder, intrigue, moral lessons and obsession. Oh, and there’s sex. Lots of graphic, erotic, steamy, sweaty, climatic earth quaking sex.  But, as the main protagonist James Thicke cautions, “When they, anyone, only talk about the sex, that is a gross under-estimation of what the material is about, and that takes away from, the character and plot development.”

Dickey has a rare ability. Ernest Hemmingway in For Whom The Bell Tolls wrote one of the most erotic scenes in literature and didn’t use any “profane” language. Dickey does the opposite. He has the ability to write those scenes in text book, dirty magazine language and yet make it so natural that it would almost…almost, be right at home in a classroom. And he can pepper dialogue with ‘F’ words and make it seem as right at home as an amen in church. The ‘character and plot development’ are that good and the stories are told in such a gripping, suspenseful style that the sex scenes are just there so the reader can catch his/her breathe.

The story opens with one of the best first paragraphs I have read in awhile; “I dropped the .38 on the passenger seat, then sped down a damp Sunset Boulevard. Johnny Handsome was bleeding, limping, running, fleeing, his trek looking like a scene from a horror film. He saw my car coming and stumbled out of the streets before I could mow him down.” Right away the reader is forewarned, you are in for a hardboiled, fast ride.

James Thicke has just beat Johnny Handsome down in the street. Pulled him from his vintage Porsche 550 Spyder, just like James Deans,  and beat him down for having sex with his wife, Regina Baptiste. This was no simple accidental affair. This sex was scripted, only it wasn’t scripted by James like the rest of the movie starring his wife, Regina Baptiste, the newest, sexiest female action star and Johnny ‘Handsome’ Berg, a thuggish scion from a gangster family, and the hottest male star in Hollywood. The scene was filmed with the entire cast present, and now it is on the internet. And James Thicke,  the hottest script writer, but this was adlibbed on the set, and was too explicit for even an ‘X’ Rating. Now, Thicke, a man whose mysterious past has stayed buried as he channels all his energy into his two passions; being the best screenwriter around, and marriage to movie star  Regina Baptiste. Now his violent streak comes to the surface as feelings of betrayal, revenge and murder come to roost in his heart.

But soon, even if his blood doesn’t cool, his mind, a mind that was sharp enough and determined enough to pull him from the ghettos of Europe to build a wealthy, privileged life, takes hold and shifts into damage control. Arriving at his estate, he finds neither Regina or her Bentley, but the paparazzi have taken up residence, so James calls his ‘driver’, a character from an earlier book ( Drive Me Crazy ) who is, appropriately called Driver. Driver packs up his opulent office and meets James at an anonymous, if not for very long, Downey apartment. As James moves in he meets a few of the nosey, and friendly residents and ends up befriending,  one middle aged man, Mr. Holder who has a much younger lover. James confides his identity to Mr. Holder and helps him hide his car and maintain his alias with the other neighbors.

Soon, James is confronted by various female neighbor ‘ladies’ that fall into his bed, seeing him as the fresh and sophisticated man in their dull lives. He is quick to take solace in the quick, no holds, and no strings sex that is offered. He soon finds himself in small intrigues with married and attached women that he hasn’t the time for. After all, he must get his mind and his soul around the betrayal as well as dodge the paparazzi, the police , and maybe most importantly, the murderous Bergs who are bent on extracting their pound of flesh for having ruined Johnny Handsome’s face and reputation as a tough guy.

Dickey exposes the perils and seedy side of life at the top of the Hollywood food chain and explores the bigger than life as well as all to down-to-Earth problems of a high profile marriage rocked (and beaten and shot at) by an An Accidental Affair. James and Regina will discover that the price of celebrity is nearly as high as the price of redemption.

dickeyEricJeromeDickey is about to undertake an extensive author tour and signing engagements as well as a radio, Print and other media as soon as the book hits the street on April 17. Check his website for dates and info on his other great works. Dickey has now conquered just about every genre of fiction like Napoleon going through Europe. This one is another smash.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Article first published as Book Review: An Accidental Affair by Eric Jerome Dickey on Blogcritics.

Saturday, April 14, 2012



Sandy Bull and the Rhythm Ace - Live 1976

I think it was around 1970 or so when I came across an album titled, Inventions in the bargain bin at a music store in Pomona, California. It had a picture on the cover of this guy with a bunch of guitars; Fender Strat, and acoustic, another electric guitar in the background and some weird looking, pear shaped thing I was to learn was called an Oud. It was labeled ‘Folk Music’ and I was getting myself educated on the folk movement of the late ‘50s, early ‘60s ; Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, John Fahey, guys like that. I think the LP cost $0.98, which believe it or not, was a lot of money to a 15 year old. But, I pictured myself a connoisseur of music, and was developing a self-image as an “music intellectual”. Most of my education on “cool music” came from liner notes on albums and “hip” magazines like Down Beat and FolkRoots magazine. Well, I had never heard of Sandy Bull, but I figured with all those guitars on the cover. Even more interesting was there was only all these guitars and a drummer listed as musicians. When I got it home and gave it a spin, I was at first disappointed – this was not rock and roll, or even the folk I was used to - , and then amazed by how he got some of these sounds. It seemed a ‘blend’ of classical sounds with psychedelic music.

Sandy Bull “Manha De Carnival” from Inventions

Turned out that he used over dubbing, and though I had almost assuredly heard albums with over dubbing, they were nothing like this. There was a song called “Blend II” that had a drum solo that blew me away. I played the album for friends but they weren’t nearly as ‘turned on’. as I was and I eventually left the record behind for more mainstream stuff like 3 Dog Night and CCR. It was years before I heard another Sandy Bull album. Around 1977 or ‘78 I again found one of his albums in the bargain bin, only this time it was at a little shop in Braintree, England. That LP was E Pluribus Unum but I had to look at the record label to tell this as the LP came without a cover. It didn’t stand up to Inventions but it was still cool, in an off beat way. here was this odd musical instrument, and Bull using a tape recorder to add in all these banjo and guitars and layer it all on top. In many ways it was a more laid back psychedelic sound that the Psychedelia of the mid to late ‘60s.

This album was recorded live in 1976, at the Berkeley Community Theater, the legendary venue at which just about every major folk, jazz, blues, and rock band of the era performed. Sandy had opened for Leo Kottke. You’ll hear the Oud more prominent here than on some earlier recordings and it has a more “eastern” flavor, even though the compositions aren’t exactly Eastern/Oriental tunes. What’s more is the sound is probably more clear or bright, or at least less muddy as Bull  had acquired the earliest version of a TASCAM 4-track recorder that was what he used to lay down the backing tracks, and  a Rhythm Ace “drum machine” .This was his ‘band’. On, his earlier recordings he used a 3 Track recorder, so the Tascam was pretty impressive for it’s time, as was the Rhythm Ace.

“Gavotte II” from the album “Inventions”

The resulting tape captured not only a great live performance by one of the most brilliant, under appreciated and eccentric musicians of the time,but Sandy’s quirky sense of humor, It’s on full display as he introduces the “band” and also in a hilarious story about what inspired the song “Alligator Wrestler.” The song “Love is Forever” makes it clear that he was  not a great vocalist, but it doesn’t matter because the melody and the sentiment are both memorable. “Driftin” is inspired by the Band, The Drifters and display’s a touch of Bulls inspiration drawn from pop music.

When the name Sandy Bull comes up now a days among aficionados and the cognizante , it’s in hushed tones of reverie, and for good reason. We’re just the latest name-droppers on a list that started with legends like The Beatles and Hunter S. Thompson, and today, his records have a resurgent influence.  Bull cut four classic albums for Vanguard Records from the early ‘60s through the early 70 while dealing with a serious drug problem. But Sandy was the real deal; categorizing his musical contributions to the world or his influence on others is kind of impossible. Who else was trying to play ragas and classical pieces on banjo in 1963? What other honky musicians were adding exotic instruments and teaming up with respected jazz drummers like Billy Higgins to expand their multidimensional sound? Through his signature “blends” of folk, pre-war blues, eastern music, acid rock, and everything else he threw into the drugged mix, Sandy Bull gave the world a great gift—while leaving only four proper albums in his wake.

Here’s a fifth, and if you are even a casual fan of guitar music or artists like John Fahey, Jack Rose or Robbie Basho, you owe it to yourself to delve into Inventions and the unhinged, bottom-of-the-barrel brilliance that was sandy Bull.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved