VIDEO: Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello – “Radio Silence”/”Radio Nowhere”/”Radio Radio”

springsteen_costelloIt boggles my brain as to how I have missed this after all these years.  So here it is for you. An inspired trio of songs, with Springsteen leaning into both his guitar and the moment, and Elvis looking like his life depended on making these six minutes great.

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Album Review: Jeff Litman – “Outside”

If you’re hurting a bit and want to feel better – or at least have a drinking buddy – fire up Outside, a new album from New York roots and power-pop singer/songwriter Jeff Litman.

With “Runaway”, he channels Petty’s bright and drawling vibe to create the best slice of jangly American rock since Matthew Sweet’s heyday.  Growling guitars, tight harmonies and a let-it-loose arrangement makes it a descendent of Sweet’s “Girlfriend”.

“Chasing My Tail” harvests the same territory, turning it into a bouncy, late 70’s Raspberries-style nugget

Litman has more than one influence, and the record shifts between the Petty’s guitar rock and Elvis Costello’s sneer and pop.  The title cut is mid-80’s Costello, with a loping rhythm and New York City doo wop underpinning.

The acoustic “It Hasn’t Happened Yet” is a gentle, melancholy ode to the end of a relationship.  Much of the album strikes a theme of relationship heartache and defiance; the centerpiece of the idea rides in this song.

The best cut is midway through the record, with “Don’t Want to Talk About it”, tying a tough midtempo rock melody with a killer chorus and lyric sung with anger and a “don’t mess with me” growl.  A beautifully skewered song wrapped in gleaming power-pop; it’s the sound of an ought-to-be hit song,

“Back to You” goes all Hall and Oates blue-eyed soul, crossed with more Costello, and includes a segue from rough and tough vocal break midway through the song to a Smokey Robinson gentleness.  Litman’s got the soulful vocal chops to separate him from many.  On this record, it is bonded to some smartly arranged and consistent pop-rock.

Still relatively unknown to most, Litman’s Outside is the work of an artist who fits firmly between classic rock and power-pop, and an mid 1960’s British invasion sound.  He’s never far from his influences, but is able to cut into the sounds with some of his own tough and unique ideas. It is enough to warrant another listen,  and to pay attention to where Litman goes next.

Jeff Litman website

Hear the song “Outside”

The Roots of Rock History / April 25-May 1

Cheap Trick doing the Beatles, Elvis Costello covering Nazareth, Springsteen climbs a wall, and U2 bombs.

April 25
Just days after completing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in 1967, The Beatles lay down tracks for “Magical Mystery Tour” at Abbey Road studios in London.

Cheap Trick version of a classic tune from “Abbey Road” – just because we can…:

April 26
ABC’s telecast of “U2: A Year in POP” in 1997 becomes the lowest-rated prime-time program in the history of major network television.

Here’s what part of that broadcast looked like, with Dennis Hopper doing narration:

April 27
Ray Stevens
releases what would be his biggest hit, “The Streak”. The novelty tune would make it to the top of the US charts next month.

April 28
Blondie brings a touch of New Wave to the Hot 100 when “Heart Of Glass” reaches #1 in 1979.

April 29
Aretha Franklin releases “Respect” in 1969, her soon-to-be signature tune.

April 30
Elvis Presley records “Jailhouse Rock” in 1957. The song will go on to top the US Best Sellers list, the Hot 100, the R&B chart and even the Country and Western chart. It will also become the first single to enter the UK chart at #1.

In 1964,The Beatles receive $140,000 for the rights to having their pictures included in packages of bubble gum in the USA.

After playing Memphis during a southern tour in 1976, Bruce Springsteen climbs the fence at Graceland in an attempt to see Elvis Presley. Security guards stop him and he is escorted off the grounds.

Twiggs Lyndon, the road manager for the Allman Brothers Band, is arrested in 1970 for murder after he stabbed a club manager during an argument over a contract. At the ensuing trial, Lyndon’s lawyers will argue that he had been temporarily insane at the time of the incident and that touring with the Allman Brothers would drive anyone insane. Incredibly, Lyndon will be acquitted.

Then there’s the case of 51 year-old Darrell Sweet, drummer of Nazareth, best remembered for their 1976 hit “Love Hurts”. He suffered a fatal heart attack in 1999 before a show in New Albany, Ind., when he began feeling ill and within minutes went into cardiac arrest. He was rushed to the New Albany Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris performing “Love Hurts”:

May 1
In 1955, Leonard Chess signs Chuck Berry to a recording contract after he came highly recommended by Muddy Waters.

PinkFloydAlbumsPoster.jpg

Pink Floyd’s, “Dark Side of the Moon” finally drops off the US albums chart in 1988, after a run of 725 weeks (almost 14 years).

Roots Rock News: Alejandro Escovedo, Tim Grimm, Drive-By Truckers

Roots Rock and Twang News: All kinds of news ‘n’ notes. I must pass them along before something bad happens, like a new Winger album appears to punish my selfishness. So I share….

While the Grammy’s pounded away at honoring (mostly) commercial success over everything else, there were a few winners of note to us:
Steve Earle won the Grammy Award for best contemporary folk album for 2009’s “Townes.” Loudon Wainwright III (from “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” to this…) won for best traditional folk album with “High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project”. Best americana album went to Levon Helm, for “Electric Dirt.” and Springsteen won for best solo rock performance for “Working on a Dream”.

Alejandro Escovedo retreated to Mexico with long-time friend, co-writer and fellow artist Chuck Prophet, for the follow-up to his most recent studio album “Real Animal”. The new record is slated to be released in late June. Escovedo’s next album will come out on Fantasy Records, the former home Creedence Clearwater Revival, and again home to John Fogerty. Escovedo’s in Kentucky making the record with producer Tony Visconti, who also produced “Real Animal.” One of the best americana shows in the Indy area last year was Escovedo’s appearance at the Royal Theatre in Danville.

Eddie Vedder’s cool cover of “My City Of Ruins” by Bruce Springsteen, recorded at the recent Kennedy Center Honors show in DC, is available as a charity digital single through iTunes. Proceeds benefit Artists for Peace and Justice Haiti Relief.

Barbara Higbie begins a run of six consecutive excellent female singer/songwriters as part of the Indy Acoustic Cafe series. She appears February 13 for a 7:30 show at the Wheeler Community Arts Theater (1035 Sanders St.). Catie Curtis is slated for Feburary 27. more info at indyacousticcafeseries.com

Tim Grimm (photo from KDHX Community Media)

Tim Grimm plays February 20 for the Indy Folk Series at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis (615 West 43rd Street). The Indiana singer/songwriter/actor/farmer is the mastermind behind the Hoosier Dylan, Hoosier Holiday and Hoosier Springsteen shows, and this is a nice chance to hear him play his own music. A great voice, filled with relaxed strength, and iy’s sneakily captivating.
more info at indyfolkseries.org

Dixie Chicks and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison will record an album together without their Dixie Chick partner Natalie Maines. Maines father, legendary Texas pedal steel player Lloyd Maines reports that the split is “temporary.

Nielsen rolled out the 2009 year-end music sales and radio airplay, showing album sales were down 8.5 percent. Digital track sales went up 8.3 percent over 2008, and digital album sales up 16.1 percent. Vinyl also grew, with music fans buying 2.5 million vinyl LPs, a 33 percent jump over 2008. Still, music industry revenues in 2009 were $6.3 billion, less than half what they were in 1999, and people spent 32% less in 2009 on music than they spent in 2008.

In 1979, Doug Fieger played rhythm guitar in a band called the Knack and sang a song called “My Sharona” that stayed at No. 1 for six weeks. More recently he’s been a cancer patient, lung and brain and beyond.
Here’s the article

Though Charlie Daniels suffered a mild stroke while snowmobiling in Colorado on Jan. 15th, he says he plans on keepting upcoming shows, on Feb. 27th in Ft. Pierce, FL and Feb. 28th in Brooksville, FL. Daniels was released from Swedish Medical Center on Sunday, Jan. 17th and returned to his home in Colorado. I saw Daniels play a mighty fine pre-race Brickyard 400 show a couple years ago, in the infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He still had the energy (he’s 73), some damn good country-rock fiddle and guitar songs, and looked at home on the big stage.

ALBUM NEWS
The Drive-By Truckers have a new album set for release this March, and the first song has been released on Stereogum’s website. Patterson Hood told the website that “The Big To-Do” is “very much a rock album,” You can listen to “This Fucking Job” from the Drive-By Truckers at Stereogum. The new album is due March 16.

Rick Rubin produced the new Johnny Cash album “American VI: Ain’t No Grave”, and that record is out later this month, slated for February 23. The set includes one Cash original (“First Corinthians”) and a version of Sheryl Crow’s “Redemption Day”, among the tracks.

Merle Haggard has a new deal with independent label Vanguard Records (where Levon Helm is signed) – and will release “I Am What I Am” on April 20. He’s currently touring with Kris Kristofferson, whose latest album (“Closer to the Bone”) is magnificent – he has finally grown into that idiosyncratic voice of his, and the words and music match up to produce of the best albums from late last year.

PERFORMANCE NEWS
Elvis Costello will tour the U.S. this spring in a variety of configurations. Costello will be playing solo on some shows, plus some with his band The Imposters, and others with The Sugarcanes, the musicians who joined him on his 2009 album “Secret, Profane & Sugarcane”. Costello will also perform solo with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the end of May.

Here’s one of those Texas festivals that sound like a whole lotta fun: The line-up for Cross Canadian Ragweed’s 4th Annual Red Dirt Roundup has been announced. The festival will be held on two stages at the Historic Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas on Sunday, Sept. 6. The bands include Ragweed, Charlie Robison, Robert Earl Keen, Johnny Cooper and The Wallflowers.

THE WILLIE WATCH
Willie Nelson will turn to T Bone Burnett, for Nelson’s new album called “Country Music”. It features old-time banjo master Riley Baugus, double bassist Dennis Crouch, and T Bone himself, all musicians featured on “Raising Sand” the 2009 Grammy award-winning Album of the Year by Plant and Krauss. The album will be released on April 13th. And in what has seemingly become an annual tradition, members of Willie Nelson’s band and crew were cited recently for misdemeanor possession offenses after of marijuana somehow came blowing out of the tour bus. Six members were busted in Duplin County, NC for possession of marijuana and three-fourths of a quart of moonshine.

FINALLY…
If you don’t know anything else about my quirky ideas on music, understand that I think Cheap Trick, over the past 30 years, has somehow influenced every rock and roll band worth a shit. So I’ll end by passing along word that Cheap Trick will be performing dates with Squeeze during summer 2010 and taped a PBS Soundstage that will air some time in June or July 2010.

Here’s a bit of the Tricksters…