Tuesday, September 27, 2016

ERIC BURDON


I am always amazed at how some of the artists we see today have been able to retain all of the essence and nuance of their sound from back in the day and reproduce it live on the concert stage, some 40-50+ years later, at the ripe old age of their mid-to-late 60's on into their mid-70's ... it truly is incredible.

Sadly, Eric Burdon is NOT one of those artists.

And it's a shame, too, because it wasn't for lack of trying ... I believe he put his all into every song he sang Monday Night at The City Winery ... he just didn't have the power behind that voice to pull it off.  As such, his vocals came off weak and, at times, virtually non-existent ... and (far too often) way off key and almost narrative without any sense of the melody.

Too bad ... because he has such an impressive hit list.  In fact, it was GREAT to finally be able to see him perform the songs I grew up with in a live setting ... and the crowd genuinely seemed to love him, offering up several standing ovations along the way.  And, deep in my heart, I felt it, too, simply because of who he was and what he had done.  I liken it to the aging bluesman who's still up there on the stage performing well into his 90's, giving it all he's got, even when he hasn't got much left to give ... he still presents a powerful stage presence and was such a HUGE part of our lifetime soundtrack just being there with him at all is something of a treat that still makes me smile at the very thought of who we saw last night.  (Then again, one of the folks at our table, a coworker in fact, told us how he saw a 91 year old vintage bluesman perform a set over the weekend in which the guy performed the same song three times before a fellow band member came over and said "Let's try this one instead" to put the show back on track.

Eric Burdon and the Animals had a VERY impressive hit list in the '60's ... placing fifteen hits in The National Top 40 ... and he did the majority of them on stage Monday Night.  (Surprisingly missing was his 1970 #1 Hit with War, "Spill The Wine", which is one that I absolutely expected to hear but wasn't included in his set.)

Burdon needed help taking the stage (and stood mostly stationary for the majority of the concert) ... and it took him a little while to get things going vocally. 

He opened his show with "Mama Told Me Not To Come", a Randy Newman track he cut before Three Dog Night took it to #1 in 1970.  Along the way we were also treated to Animals classics like "When I Was Young", "Inside Looking Out", "See See Rider" and a couple of new tracks that included "The Devil and Jesus" and "Ridin' On That Bo Diddley Special."

Things really came alive when he did "Ridin' On That Bo Diddley Special" and then told a story about being at Diddley's funeral.  Burdon didn't really talk much between songs but that story ... and the one he told about performing at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 ... were quite entertaining. ("The Devil and Jesus" and "Ridin' On That Bo Diddley Special" both come from Eric's critically acclaimed most recent album, "'Til Your River Runs Dry".  Forgotten Hits was fortunate enough to be able to "sneak peek" a track from this LP prior to its release in 2013.  I should point out that he is in FINE voice throughout this LP.)

He also mentioned his surprise at seeing so many people in the theater that night, figuring that most of us would have been home glued to our tv sets watching the biggest fight of the year. (From the sounds of things, the Clinton / Trump Debate lived up to its expected spectacle ... honestly, I think we were better entertained from our vantage point!)

Next up were "Don't Bring Me Down", "In The Pines", "Monterey", "Bring It On Home To Me", "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and his set closer, "House Of The Rising".  The obligatory encore included "It's My Life" and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" and a rousing rendition of "Hold On, I'm Comin'".

Burdon was backed by a six piece band who were smoking all night long and, despite some vocal disappointments here and there, I have to say that I still enjoyed the concert.  (The City Winery is the ultimate venue to see a show like this ... it has a very "up close and personal" feel and Burdon has sold The Winery out for nearly every performance he's ever done here.  In fact, he'll be back up on The City Winery stage on Wednesday, the 28th ... so if you've always wanted to see this legend live, now is your chance to do so.  Ticket information is below.)
http://www.citywinery.com/chicago/tickets/eric-burdon-the-animals-9-28.html 
There are VERY few select seats still available for this show, so if you're interested in attending, I'd suggest you make your move now!!!

THE ERIC BURDON HIT LIST:
1964 - The House Of The Rising Sun (#1 Nationally / #1 Chicago)
1965 - I'm Crying  (#17 / #9)
1965 - Boom Boom  (#35 / #18)
1965 - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood  (#15 / #17)
1965 - Bring It On Home To Me  (#23 / #21)
1965 - We Gotta Get Out Of This Place  (#12 / #12)
1965 - It's My Life  (#20 / #8)
1966 - Inside Looking Out  (#32 / #26)
1966 - Don't Bring Me Down  (#11 / #7)
1966 - See See Rider  (#10 / #13)
1966 - Help Me Girl  (#29 / EX)
1967 - When I Was Young  (#15 / #21)
1967 - San Franciscan Nights  (#8 / xx)
1967 - Monterey  (#10 / xx)
1968 - Sky Pilot  (#14 / #11)
1983 - The Night  (#48 / xx)
all of the above by The Animals or Eric Burdon and the Animals
1970 - Spill The Wine (#1 / #1)
1970 - They Can't Take Away Our Music  (#37 / xx)
above two by Eric Burdon and War

REFLECTIONS ON ERIC BURDON AND THE ANIMALS:
I've made this point before in Forgotten Hits but it's worth reiterating again now having just seen legendary Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer Eric Burdon.  

When The British Invasion first burst upon the scene in 1964, it literally turned my world upside down.  I may have been a ten year old kid at the time but THIS is when my life truly began.  I have been consumed by music ever since.  

The sights and sounds of this era and the joy and excitement that it brought me has never dissipated ... and we've seen nothing like it ever since.  

For the most part, all the groups looked and sounded pretty much the same ... Beatles haircuts and fun, British pop music.  Sure, there were exceptions ... like the much-scruffier looking Rolling Stones (although their impact would be bigger in 1965 than it was in 1964), The Kinks, who provided a little more "edge" to their music, the jumping-jacks routine provided by Freddie and the Dreamers ... but NOTHING ... and NO ONE ... could have prepared this kid for the likes of The Animals.  

When "The House Of The Rising Sun" first came out of my little transistor radio in the Fall of '64, I had never heard ANYTHING like it before.  (And growing up here in Chicago, The Home Of The Blues, this is really saying something.)   

Eric Burdon's vocal just reached down deep inside you and grabbed your soul ... and he's still hanging on to it some 52 years later.  What WAS this music??? It sure wasn't the pop of The Beatles, the harmonies of The Searchers, the thump of The Dave Clark Five or the grunge of The Rolling Stones.  No, this was something COMPLETELY different ... and I couldn't get enough of it.  

To my ears, The Animals never captured the complete gut-wrenching rawness of that track again ... but I sure did love their hits "Don't Bring Me Down", "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place", "It's My Life", "Baby Let Me Take You Home" (a B-SIde I played insistently back in 1964), "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and, later, "Sky Pilot".  The Soundtrack Of My Life indeed!  

I may have found the sad reality of Eric Burdon's performance a little disappointing last night ... but nothing will ever break the spirit I feel for this music.  Timeless ... Classic ... and truly unlike any other of its era.  I love it!






































































































































































































































 



Monday, September 26, 2016

.38 SPECIAL



.38 Special kept us rockin' into the night at The Arcada Theatre Sunday Evening with a non-stop assault of good old fashioned country rock.  (My but those little country boys can play!)  

Founding member Don Barnes was nothing short of incredible handling the majority of the lead vocals as well as the lead guitar solos.  Keyboardist Bobby Kapps adds the "soft touch" that helps to smooth out some of the rough edges vocally ... and he did a stand-up job handling the vocal solo on "Second Chance".





Danny Chauncey joined the band in 1988 on guitar and has been with them ever since.  Rounding out the line up, we've got Bassist Bobby Dunaway and Drummer Gary Moffatt

We have always been fans of their music ... but were knocked out by their showmanship and musical ability ... once again we were dealing with a packed house at The Arcada, most of whom chose to stand for the entire concert to egg on these Wild Eyed Southern Boys ... and they responded with one hell of a show.  (Frannie was able to snap a couple of decent shots from our seventh row seats ... more photos to come later this week)




They kicked the show off with the Jim Peterik / Frankie Sullivan Survivor track "Rockin' Into The Night", which also happened to be .38 Special's first single.  (Jim Peterik had a hand in writing half a dozen of their Billboard Chart Hits, including a couple of their biggest ... the Classic Rock, never off the radio classics "Hold On Loosely" and "Caught Up In You'".  (Naturally those two were saved for the end of the show ... but in between several other hits were featured, both in full-length versions as well as as part of a long, extended medley of hits.)

These included "Fantasy Girl" (#52, 1981 ... there was a HUGE round of applause for this one ... in fact a couple of audience responses were damn-near deafening!), "You Keep Runnin' Awawy" (#38, 1982), "If I'd Been The One" (#19, 1984), "Back Where You Belong" (#20, 1984), "Teacher Teacher (#25, 1984), "Like No Other Night" (#14, 1986) and an incredibly beautiful version of one of my favorites, "Second Chance", a rare .38 Special ballad ... and a#6 Ht in 1989.

We saw some incredible playing and singing Sunday Night and the crowd shared their love with the band, who were making their first Arcada appearance.  (My guess is they'll be back ... the theater was jam-packed with nothing but real-deal .38 Special Fans.)





Speaking of .38 Special ... and their Jim Peterik connection (I honestly believed he'd be sitting in on the encore ... but no such luck!) ... a few weeks ago we ran some exclusive photos from the video shoot for Jim Peterik's new version of "Caught Up With You", a song he cowrote with the band and is now featuring in a "reimagined version" on his new CD "The Songs". 

Here is the final result ...




In other related Jim Peterik news, Ron Onesti announced Saturday Night that the next Cornerstones Of Rock show at The Arcada Theatre will be held on Valentine's Day (February 14th, 2017)!  Get your tickets early for this one ... EVERY show so far has been a complete sell out! 

And Jim Peterik and The Ides Of March will perform their annual Christmas Concert at The Arcada Theatre on Friday, December 16th ... this is ALWAYS a fun-filled night of music.  (Here's our review from a couple of years ago) ... http://forgottenhits60s.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-ides-of-march-christmas-show.html

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tommy James and the Shondells


Tommy James is The King of Feel Good Music ... between 1966 and 1970 he scored 19 consecutive Top 40 National Hits ... and then went on to add five more to that tally under his own name as a solo artist ... and he played a good number of them at The Arcada Theatre Saturday Night to a sold out house.  (You'll find a complete set list at the end of this piece.)


The Historic Arcada Theatre just celebrated its 90th Anniversary ... it started out as one of those old, vintage burlesque theaters back in 1926 ... and a lot of people don't know this but one of the very first acts to ever perform on that historic stage was Tommy James and the Shondells.  (Just kidding ... but can you believe that it has now been 50 YEARS since "Hanky Panky" first hit #1 all across America?!?!  Unreal!!!  And don't forget that Tommy recorded that song as a 16 year old three years earlier before some disc jockey in Pittsburgh discovered it and put it on the air!)  

The rest, as they say, is history.    

Tommy opened his show with "Draggin' The Line", a #1 Hit from 1971, one of FOUR national #1 Hits he had during his original reign on the charts.  (Incredibly he had SEVEN #1 Hits right here in Chicago ... "Hanky Panky", "I Think We're Alone Now", "Mirage", "Mony Mony", "Crimson And Clover", "Crystal Blue Persuasion" and "Draggin' The Line" ... Chicago has ALWAYS been a great hub of support for Tommy James!)  

After a rousing round of applause and a standing ovation for his first song, Tommy promised to come out into the crowd later to shake hands and French Kiss every single member of the audience.  (He kept half of that promise ... and also did an extended signing in the lobby after the show was over.  I can't vouch for how many French Kisses were distributed but I can tell you that the crowd was enthusiastically up on its feet for the majority of the show, lovin' every minute of it.)   

Next up was "Crystal Blue Persuasion", which was transformed from its original dreamy state to more of a full out rock song in concert.  (I heard several people mention Saturday Night that "Crystal Blue Persuasion" was their favorite Tommy James song of all time.)    

I can tell you that Tommy was in great voice all night long and still sounds very much like his records from 45-50 years ago.  He has continued to record new music, much in the same vein as the enormous hit collection that he built back then and that we all know and love ... he still sounds as good as ever and many of these are songs that, had the musical trends of the late '60's and early '70's continued, would have absolutely been Top Ten Hits back in the day ... excellent music that you can find on sale at Tommy's website: https://www.tommyjames.com/)

COMPLETE SET LIST: 
Draggin' The Line  

Crystal Blue Persuasion

Say I Am  (his follow-up to "Hanky Panky' ... a #15 hit nationally but a #2 hit here in Chi-Town)

Gettin' Together  (This is one of my favorite "forgotten hits" from back in the day ... I remember mentioning in our last Tommy James review from a couple of years ago that the song REALLY needs to be performed with its signature hi-hat bit - it's the hook that MADE the record ... but once again it was performed without it Saturday Night.  Maybe this drummer just can't do that rapid-fire fill?)   In any event, here's the way it's SUPPOSED to sound:



And, in case you missed it, you can read our original 2014 review here:
http://forgottenhits60s.blogspot.com/2014/10/tommy-james.html     

Next up was I Think We're Alone Now, performed in a slowed-down, acoustic arrangement which will be used during a dream-like sequence during the end credits of his film "Me, The Mob and The Music" whenever that finally gets made.  (I had a chance to visit with Tommy very briefly before the show and he told me that the movie is moving forward - and that several  big names are attached to the making of this film - but I swear they've been talking about it for over five years now and it sounds like not a single scene has yet to be filmed!  In hindsight, they should have worked out all these details BEFORE the book hit the streets so that they could strike with a theatrical release while the iron was still hot.)  

Ball Of Fire

Tighter, Tighter (the song he wrote and produced for Alive 'n' Kicking back in 1970) 

Crimson And Clover (my all-time Tommy James favorite, which took on more of the heaviness of the Joan Jett version than the original psychedelic feel that made this such a stand-out track back when it first charted in 1969)

Hanky Panky  (Tommy's break-through hit ... a three year overnight success story!)

I Think We're Alone Now (again, only performed at its full tempo this time ... honestly, I think this probably would have worked better as an encore since he just did it four songs ago) 

Do Something To Me (another favorite from 1968 ... I met a guy in the bathroom who told me that this was his favorite Tommy James song of all-time ... I then asked him if he'd ever heard the nearly identical original version by ? and the Mysterians from a year earlier and he said he hadn't ... so we're featuring that one here today, too ... this is a track that Tommy's very good friend Dave The Rave turned me on to several years ago)



Mony Mony (again, as before, an extend 15-20 minute version ... this is when Tommy goes out into the audience and shakes hands with hundreds of fans while the band jams on ... it also wraps up his regular set.)  

Encore  
Sweet Cherry Wine 

Mirage (which morphed into a Mony Mony reprise to close the show  

Tommy's songs have been recorded by over 400 artists and he was a true innovator of SO many different styles of music back in the day, all of which worked perfectly for him ... they sold millions and millions of records and were literally on the charts (and on our radios) non-stop during this era. 

Fortunately, Tommy's music has held up EXTREMELY well and is every bit as popular today, being heard every single day on radio stations all over the world ... yet he's another one of those GREAT, deserving and denied artists consistently overlooked by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  The man ABSOLUTELY belongs there ... and should have been inducted decades ago.  As stated earlier, he is the KING of Feel-Good Music and deserves his rightful place in history.  WE know ... the FANS know ... but the time to formally recognize him for his achievements is WAY past due.  (Jeez, just look at what the guy had to go through at his record label to get his records made!!!) 

If you're one of the three people left on earth who hasn't already read it, you can pick up a copy of Tommy's best-selling book through his website (link above) ... it's absolutely fascinating and insightful reading about the underbelly of rock and roll ... yet despite all this pressure and obstacles, Tommy made it through with flying colors.  (He joked early in his set Saturday Night that they used to do acid ... but now do antacid.)  Order your copy today ... you'll be glad you did!  (kk)  

Up-Coming Appearances:

Saturday, October 1st 2016NORSK HØSTFEST
(1:00PM SHOWTIME)
Minot, North Dakota
Saturday, October 15th 2016LITTLE RIVER RESORT CASINOManistee, Michigan
100 miles north of
Grand Rapids
Saturday, October 22th 2016ST. GEORGE THEATREStaten Island, New York
Friday, October 28th 2016WILLIAMSPORT COMMUNITY ARTS CENTERWilliamsport, Pennsylvania
Friday, November 4th 2016GOLDEN NUGGET CASINO
GRAND EVENT CENTER
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Saturday, November 12th 2016STADIUM THEATRE PERFORMING ARTS CENTREWoonsocket, Rhode Island
Saturday, November 26th 2016ISLETA RESORT & CASINOAlbuquerque, New Mexico

We've also been telling you about The Crystal Blue Band, featuring three former members of Tommy James' Shondells during the hit-making years, who are also out on the road these days and in the process of recording an album of new material.  (An album of Tommy James and the Shondells covers is available through their website: http://www.thecrystalblueband.com/)