Popeye Volume one

This made my week! Fantagraphics is again reprinting the Popeye strips, last ones have been out of print for so long, and what with new technological scanning techniques these ones will look even nicer! First volume coming out in September, gonna be six hard cover volumes total (pray for soft cover) B & W dailies and colour Sundays.



If all you know of Popeye is everything BUT the original strips by creator E.C Segar then you are in for a treat and a surprise as the Popeye you know is but a mere shadow of his former actual self. these original strips feature actual subtleties, ruddy hardknock living, massive absurdity on a small scale, a large cast of nuanced characters, hevvy wordplay, and continuing rollicking adventures replete with punchlines!
These volumes will be starting with Popeyes’ first appearance in Thimble Theatre (that was the actual name of the strip which began years before Popeye even appeared) in 1930 and culminating with the last of the great E.C Segar’s strips before his death in 1938.


Not too much time to write today, unfortunately, so I will probably revisit the topic of NRBQ sometime in the near future. In fact, how about Monday? Right now, I just wanted to hip you to the band if you hadn’t heard of them.

Begun in 1967 and continuing to this day, the band originally known as the New Rythym and Blues Quartet keeps on rocking, putting out great albums on small labels that redefine the term bar-band rock and roll.

For the unitiated, the band has made its’ name being the most versatile musical unit ever created. Through the years the band has backed everyone from Carl Perkins to Skeeter Davis to wrestling legend Lou Albano (that’s right), Chuck Berry, Johnnie Johnson and just about everyone in between.

Rock legends such as Keith Richards, Paul McCartney and countless others constantly sing their praises and most record some of their songs as well. Blessed with three great song-writers, the band is never short of clever pop songs as well as obtuse, “out” songs most of the band’s fans come to adore more than the sing-along rockers.

The band has put out a ton of records on a ton of labels, most of which are still in print, believe it or not. That alone speaks volumes for the love people have for this semi-underground band.

Your homework for the weekend: go to your local CD hut and find an NRBQ CD or record. It will be well worth your money and will prime you for my next blog, which will be a more detailed discussion of the band and it’s best recordings.

The Music Nerd knows…….

It Was FORTY Years Ago Today


                                          by James Fox
                                          Manchester Evening News
                                          17 May 1966

Bob Dylan, the original magician of folk-poetry, blew into town today on another wave of sell-out concerts to sing at the Free Trade Hall.  And this "modern minstrel genius," as American poet Allen Ginsberg called him, this self-elected reject from the middle-class backwoods of Minnesota, becomes more of an enigma every day.

The atmosphere at his concerts is one of tense and silent rapture, with the crowd leaning forward to catch every cryptic syllable of the songs they quote daily, like a religious manifesto, on street corners.

Now there is something disturbing about Dylan:  he is said to have disowned all the songs he ever wrote before he turned to "folk-rock."  He is said to have become an introvert.  He was nearly booed off stage in Dublin recently when he came on with three tons of sound equipment and his new backing group – simply called the Group.

There were pleading shouts of "We want the real Dylan. Leave it to Mick Jagger" as he belted out the endless choruses of his hip-orientated rhythm and blues songs.

There is a growing uneasiness with Dylan among his fans.  It is that he is changing without telling them why.  They are in the dark, and they feel perplexed.

If there is a change, it has come about between these two British tours.  The old Dylan, at the Albert Hall in London last year, was the poetic Dylan with one guitar, a handful of harmonicas, and a few wry jokes.

This time the magic’s still there, but he might throw a few fans off the track.  For one thing, the existentialist Dylan has married.  For another, the man who took contemporary folk music out of its hermetic shell and has shaken it and enriched it has seemingly turned his back on it.

You Wood If You Could

I was digging around one of my closets where I keep my Stones and Stones-affiliated CDs yesterday (now there’s an idea for a blog – CD/music organization!) and ran across a few Ron Wood solo CDs I hadn’t played in a while. Being a huge Wood fan (insert appropriate joke here)I figured I would use this space to extoll the virtues of the Stones’ longest-running second guitarist (31 years membership!).

When thinking about Ron Wood, one must start at the British beat group Birds, move through The Creation and Jeff Beck Group (where Beck relegated Wood to bass so the mercurial Beck wouldn’t have to compete axe-wise) and start honing in on one of the best and most-underappreciated boogie bands of all time, The Faces. Wood joined the Faces (originally the Small Faces – check out Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake for a pre-Wood psychedelic masterpiece) after forming an alliance with Rod Stewart who was in the Jeff Beck Group with Wood at the time.

Wood and Stewart both joined Faces to shore up the band when guitarist/singer Steve Marriot left to start Humble Pie. Wood then began a long and proud association with the best of sleazy rock and roll that, for all intents and purposes, out-Stoned the Stones.

In the last phase of the Faces’ lifespan, Wood started putting out solo albums, great ones like I’ve Got My Own Album To Do and Now Look. Both these albums were all-star love-fests that also featured fellow Brit rockers like Stewart, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger among others. Wood was already drifting into the Stones orbit and joined after The Great Guitarist Hunt the Stones had in 1975 during the making of Black and Blue.

Throughout Wood’s tenure in the Stones he has continued to put out solo albums, the strongest being 19078’s Gimme Some Neck. The CD is filled with Stones-like raunch and Woody’s Dylan-like gin-soaked vocals. It is very hard to find but still in print.

Wood fans would also beinterested in tracking down 1982’s 1234, which is out of print in the US but contains Wood jamming with several members of Devo and a few other obscure bands. Woody has always done it for rock and roll, and not just to get on the radio, and that always speaks volumes to me about a musician’s motivation and heart.

I could tell you about Wood’s artwork, which is genius, but that’s for another blog. Track down some of his solo work and tell me if some of it isn’t better than most of the schlock the Stones have passed off for music in the past twenty years or so.

Wood you if you could?

The Music Nerd knows………

Shangri-La Mary Weiss is back and still sassy

Over on the Norton Records site (but without a direct link) is a great interview with their latest signing, Mary Weiss, the exquisitely cool lead vocalist of the Shangri-Las. She’ll be backed by the Reigning Sound on her first solo disk, coming soon.

For now, enjoy her unfiltered ruminations on matters pop, hair, fashion and cool.

MW: I did purchase a gun once, a little Derringer. I bought a gun after somebody tried to break into my hotel room. There were these glass panels on the side of the door and all of a sudden I see this arm coming through. Not only was I scared to death, but there were large amounts of money in the room. You’re on the road with no protection. But, I was a little kid. I didn’t know. Back then, you could walk in anywhere and buy a gun. But the FBI came to my mother’s house and said, "Will you please tell your daughter she’ll be arrested if she gets off the plane with her gun?" We just finished a tour in Florida and I turned it in at the police station down there.


Alive and Welsh

I would be remiss if I didn’t follow-up my last blog about Nick Lowe with a little something about his partner in crime in the band Rockpile, Dave Edmunds.

A Welsh rocker who had once hit the charts with a lightning fast rocking version of Sabre Dance while in the band Love Sculpture, Edmunds had only mustered one more hit (I Hear You Knocking) before becoming somewhat passe in the music field. Becoming a talented producer and one-man band while languishing in obscurity, Edmunds eventually latched on to Lowe’s early band Brinsley Schwartz and formed an alliance with Lowe while producing a couple of their records.

After Brisnley broke up, the two became a team with Lowe and Edmunds playing on each other’s records and even sharing a band, Rockpile. The way Rockpile originally worked, whoever had an album coming out at the time led the band. For example, it would be billed as either Nick Lowe’s or Dave Edmund’s Rockpile and whoever was leading sang most of the songs while the other was given a few songs for a showcase. It was quite innovative at the time and became quite popular.

It was only when Rockpile, as a band, was signed to a contract and made it’s only record, Seconds of Pleasure, that things started to go awry for Edmunds. While a great, great record, the public is really used to only one person leading a band and got confused when lead singing duties were switched. Lowe and Edmunds got their egos twisted in the leadership roles and ended up having a falling out that lasts to this day, despite re-teaming for a Lowe record in the early ’90’s.

Of course, Edmunds continued after Rockpile broke up, but his early albums with Lowe (Tracks On Wax 4, Twanging, Repeat When Necessary, Get It) are often looked at as Edmunds’ peak, despite not having any American chart singles. Edmunds went on to do a lot of outside production work (Dion, Everly Bros., Fabulous Thunderbirds among many others) and eventually hit the charts again himself, having the hit Information (from the album of the same name), which was produced by ELO leader Jeff Lynne on one of Lynne’s first forays as producer without ELO.

Edmunds has kept recording, albeit infrequently, right up until he suffered some heart problems in the late ’90’s. Rumors say he is doing fine and just keeping a low profile.

Though his best work may be behind him, I am hoping Edmunds get’s back into the studio and gives us more music. Even his lesser albums like 1985’s Riff Raff and 1994’s Unplugged have a few gems.

While most of Edmund’s albums have been out of print, the US reissue label Wounded Bird Records has recently reissued the albums Edmunds made with Lowe and Rockpile. I would suggest you search them out if you are into retro rock, rockabilly and pub-rock style music. They are all excellent, with Tracks on Wax 4 being my fave.

And definitely give the Rockpile album a try. Eventually, I’ll go through that album track by track in this space, as it has really been a big influnce in my musical life.

Who knows, it may become your favorite record…..

The Music Nerd knows……

Vancouver 10 Years Ago/Faux Vancouver/ A Night At The Opera DVD

Ai to the yai yai, it’s my first Blog posting! Will it get me work? Is it supposed to be informal? My foot’s asleep so that’s an affirmative sign in regards to my last question.
I reside in Vancouver, BC and often get asked to contribute to a free music rag here called The Nerve, especially lately as they know that I am currently spending my time waiting between employment insurance cheques. The music editor is an exceedingly charming British ex-pat of exceptional taste, which makes it rather difficult to say “No” even when it means “No.” What follows are two reviews that I recently wrote for this publication. The first review of the Queen DVD is self-explanatory (except to say that White Rock is an all too real suburb located just outside Vancouver where Paul Rodgers really does live). The second is a fake review of a non-existent band. In a way this band, Sourkraut Sunset, does exist as they are a glib pastiche of what is currently “hot” in the International Critics’ Corner regarding the Vancouver music scene. Discussion to follow.

Classic Albums: Queen
The Making Of A Night at the Opera DVD
Eagle Rock Entertainment
I didn

Feelin’ Mighty Lowe

One of my favorite experiences with music as a young lad was getting my first stereo unit. I had long admired my brother’s but, after he moved out, he took the stereo with him and as my parents didn’t really listen to music by itself for enjoyment or entertainment, there was no stereo in the house for a while.

My birthday eventually rolled around and when I woke up that morning I was surprised to find a brand new stereo system in the living room complete with turntable, cassette feature and eight track plug-in. You couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face the whole week, though I had nothing to play on it at the time. That weekend, I remember going to a department store with my mom. The store was going out of business and had all of its’ music selections on sale. I had heard a song on the radio I really liked called “Cruel To Be Kind” by someone called Nick Lowe. His album, Labour of Lust, became my first musical purchase and the first album played on my new stereo.

That experience started the love affair I’ve had with Nick Lowe’s music ever since. Poppy, catchy, and witty are three adjectives perfectly describing Lowe’s music right up until the mid-90’s when he decided to accentuate the country elements of his sound and eschew the manic pop he had been playing for many years. While many of his fans probably thought he was just growing older and slowing down, he was just revisiting the music of his early days when he was the singer, bassist, and chief songwriter for a British band called Brinsley Schwartz. Though the band was named after its’ lead guitar player, it is obvious Lowe was not only the leader, but also the most talented member of the five-man group.

Musically, I would compare the band to The Band though they started shrugging off their country sounds when pub rock (a scene they pretty much originated) started taking off, before that scene spawned punk rock. So, not only did Lowe begat pub and punk rock, he was also a killer musician, songwriter, and in-demand producer whose clients included Elvis Costello (his first five albums or so plus Blood and Chocolates), The Pretenders, Paul Carrack, Carlene Carter (who he was married to for a while), Graham Parker, and many others.

As a solo artist, Lowe has released roughly eleven solo CDs as well as albums with uber-rockers Rockpile (their lone CD Seconds of Pleasure is one of the best albums ever, in any genre, in my opinion)and Little Village (not the best but not bad by any means) who also featured John Hiatt, Jim Keltner and Ry Cooder in addition to Lowe. While the first two Lowe solos, Jesus Of Cool and Labour of Lust may be his best and his best-known releases, all of his albums contain some gems and his last three country-soul themed albums are sublime and well-worth your time if you’re into great songwriting and music befitting someone who has great stories to tell and the talent to tell them.

Sadly, only these last three albums and a greatest hits set remain in print at the moment and I believe the Rockpile one has been recently reissued. The Rockpile is a must-own whatever you do, as its blazing, blistering retro rock has few peers, but any album you can find by Lowe will lend many rewards to an interested ear. It’s all great stuff and I am eagerly awaiting whatever kind of album he puts out next.

The real question is, How Lowe can you go?

The Music Nerd knows……