review Archive

Progressive Nation Act II: Bigelf

Second to take the stage was Bigelf. Like Scale the Summit, these guys were unknown to me. I was totally unfamiliar with their music, so I did a quick bit of reading about them ahead of time. I learned that one of their trademarks is use of vintage instruments. So with that, I was delighted

Progressive Nation Act I: Scale the Summit

First up was Scale the Summit. This four-piece (two guitars trading leads, plus bass and drums) trades in the modern instro-metal-prog genre. A really young lot (not Hanson “Mm-bop” young, not “Michael Jackson when he was human” young, but young nonetheless) turned out a bruising set. For me, the songs ran together and didn’t offer

Progressive Nation 2009

So awhile back I bought a ticket to the local date of the Progressive Nation tour. My buddy and band mate Jeff talked me into it. On one level, I didn’t need much convincing: near the top of the bill was Zappa Plays Zappa; I’d seen ZPZ a couple years earlier and was wowed by

Preview Review: Moby Grape – The Place and The Time

I’ve written extensively about the travails of Moby Grape, the best 60s group most people have never heard. Some of my words on the subject are yet to be published, and when they are, it will be without byline. But if you don’t know their music, it’s worth getting to know. And then, if you

Review: V/A – 2131 S. Michigan Avenue

The whole Nuggets thing has finally become something of a cottage industry. The Lenny Kaye-curated 2LP Nuggets set was unleashed on an unsuspecting (and largely disinterested) world in 1972. I bought mine when it was reissued on Sire in the later 70s. Of this album, I posit something that was said of the first Velvet

Album Review: Ray Charles — Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection

The word Genius is thrown around far too cavalierly. At this writing, Michael Jackson (the self-proclaimed King of Pop) has been dead only a few days, and tributes everywhere call the onetime child star a genius. Oh yeah? I recently sat through Martin Bashir’s 2003 documentary Living With Michael Jackson (an icky title in light

DVD Review: Johnny Winter — Live Through the 70s

The DVD kicks off with a true oddity, a performance that is bizarre in any number of ways. This excellent-quality Danish TV clip from 1970 finds Winter playing with his original blues rhythm section (Tommy Shannon on bass and Uncle John Turner on drums), but they don’t kick off with a blues tune. Instead they

Album Review: Johnny Winter — The Johnny Winter Anthology

First things first. Whenever a career-spanning anthology crosses this reviewer’s desk, three questions immediately come to mind: Has this artist’s career been summarized on disc before? How’s the sound quality on this disc? Does the package include some sort of added value? The answers to these questions (and to the further questions they suggest) pave

Album Review: Wattstax: The Living Word

With apologies to Sir Walter Scott, “oh, what a tangled web we weave, when again we practice to re-release.” The 1972 Wattstax festival was black R&B’s excellent (if belated) answer to Woodstock and other festivals of the era. Concerts in and around the Watts district of Los Angeles put the spotlight on Stax Records’ best

Album Review: Stax: The Soul of Hip-Hop

This compilation would have been an inspired, brilliant idea, had it not been done already (see review of the 2008 Blue Note compilation Droppin’ Science). So instead it’s merely a very, very good idea. Hip-hop is a genre that is largely built on synthesizing earlier works. And one of its virtues is its sense of