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Peter Gammons – Never Slow Down, Never Grow Old

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Rounder Records, 2006

Back in 2005 when this record was being made, Peter Gammons was likely smarting like the rest of us Red Sox fans from the fact that the team only went out and got Chad Bradford and Alex Cora at the trade deadline.  What a bit of a downer that was, and it would be a whole 2 years until the Red Sox won another World Series.  What a buncha … oh yeeeeah.  Gammons must have been so relaxed towards the team’s future that he went and recorded a kind of blues rock album with a bunch of relatively famous people.  It seems that the man behind the TV desk with the heavy makeup and the natural mysticism that surrounds a ‘man in the know’ had another talent he wanted to get out there to the public.  Since I loved this book he wrote as well as the fact that a pre-All Star Kevin Youkilis sings on the record, this was a no brainer to pick up, check out, and hope for the best.

As action-packed as that album art looks, one had to feel that this record was going to be a moderate rocker for the older crowd at best.  Gammons was not going to cuss at me, plink away at his mandolin, or peel my face off with scorching metal riffs.  He does, however, mostly spend time doing enjoyable renditions of songs he likes without getting too off track with each song’s original sound.  Warren Zevon’s “Model Citizen” begins the record with a steadily paced bar rock number that allows the listener to get used to the idea that Peter Gammons also sings (?!).  The only original number, and arguably the best song on the record, follows by the name “She Fell From Heaven”.  It has an upbeat Springsteen element to it with some mumbling word play, as well as a rib poking chorus line of “She fell from heaven/and landed on her face”.

I was pleasantly surprised by a few tunes on this record, for I didn’t think I’d fall into step with the sound nor did I think I would enjoy hearing Gammons sing like he came right off the farm most of the time.  I found that his version of “Cinderella Superstar” with the lovely Juliana Hatfield on backup vocals, was excellently low key.  The cover of the Clash’s “Death or Glory” seemed quite harried, yet I appreciated the fact that Gammons gave it a good go with Theo Epstein on electric guitar.  By the way, this explains my earlier rant about the 2005 Sox because Epstein might have spent too much time perfecting his power chords and not enough time thinking about getting another bat.  I digress.  The stompin’ “Promised Land” with George Thorogood and a bunch of Red Sox players as (cough) backup vocalists had a lot of great energy to it, while “Bad Teeth” was more of an amusing number that kept the good feelings going as the album headed off into a few fifties-sounding rock numbers.

I gotta call this a Bargain because I think this collection of Gammons’ Favorite Hits turned out as a pleasant surprise from beginning to end.  Unfortunately just before the release of this record Gammons suffered a brain aneurysm that he has thankfully been recovering well from.  With his return to television, as well as his recent move to the MLB Network, one has to wonder if Gammons is also feeling up to another record.  I suppose this will depend on if he wants to do another record like this one to benefit the Foundation to Be Named Later charity or if David “Big Papi” Ortiz is available for a duet.

The Blue Van – Dear Independence

September 2, 2009 1 comment

The Orchard, 2006blueVan

Alright, if you haven’t noticed by now, I like listening to rock n roll primarily.  I promise to get to a few of the other types of music (once I figure out what those are) soon after this review.  I picked up this record at the Salvation Army due to its nifty album cover and the fact that it came in a paper slipcase.  This wasn’t some kind of toss off from the nineties …extraneous album packaging got big in the past decade!  I was also disappointed at the fact that someone stole a few NOW discs from their cases, so I wanted to save this one from those nasty people.

So hey, this upbeat blues rock band from the infrequently heard from land of Denmark put together a snappy debut record that should get a few more listens by the public.  True, not many have heard of a band that gave itself a rather drab band name (similar to ‘The Dead Bug’ or ‘The Tall Tree’ of hohum-edness).  However, the fresh vocals from Steffen Westmark and the upbeat musicianship from the rest of those Dutch band members give this entire disc a real sense of warmth.  Songs like “Keep Me Running” and “Momentarily Sane” are definite foot stompers that will pick up most moods that are a little off.  Even a softer tune like “Don’t Leave Me Blue” has a fantastic chorus that sounds exceptionally smooth amidst the light guitar work and steady drums.  In truth, there aren’t any glaring clunkers on this entire album, yet it’s merely a matter of taste whether one happens to like the sound of these guys.

Unfortunately the group hasn’t made an album since this one and I haven’t found any information on whether or not they’re still together.  Three years is a long time without a record, and I imagine that if they do return with a new record it’ll very likely sound different than this effort.  Hopefully it’ll still have the peppy energy that “Dear Independence” brought on.

Check these guys out at their website as well as their MySpace page.

I gotta give these guys a golden dollar for simply the front to back great sound they’ve put forth. Way to go, Dutch dudes.

OneDollarPin

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