Today’s Downloads

"Bama Breeze"
Jimmy Buffett

Now I know how Jimmy Buffet feels

I heard "Mexico" on No Shoes Radio.

I’ve never really been but I’d sure like to go.

James Taylor’s career was heading towards the cliff and then he went to work with Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman recorded the breezy "Gorilla" and was back on track, played on the radio and everything.

Despite the hits being on side one, it was the second side that shined so brightly.  "I Was A Feel To Care" sounds exactly like its title.  You know how you’re still in love, but it’s too late?  How you dedicated yourself to her but she had wandering eyes?  "I Was A Fool To Care" contains that wistfulness.  The hidden gem is "Angry Blues", with the magical presence of Lowell George…his slide playing is truly in the pocket, but his vocal shadings, barely present, are like the love of your life putting her hand on your shoulder.  Still, the absolute gem is "Lighthouse", with the backup vocalizations of Crosby and Nash and lyrics that will make your heart melt.  The loneliness of the lighthouse, there for everybody else, but ignored itself.  I quote this song almost every day:

Well if you feel lost and lonely and don’t know where to go
And you hear this song on the radio
Or even if you’re feeling healthy and strong
You might like to sing along
But just because I might be standing here
That don’t mean I won’t be wrong this time
You could follow me and lose your mind

That’s my goal.  To be here for you.  To let you know you’re not alone, that there’s someone who feels like you do.  Who wonders if he’s a square peg in the round hole of America, a land of winners where oftentimes you’re not even sure what the game is.  But, I’m shooting from the hip, I’m running on instinct.  I won’t guarantee I’m right.  You’ve ultimately got to make your own decisions.

But as good as the second side of "Gorilla" is, it’s eclipsed by the album’s opening track, "Mexico"…  Which sounds like your best friend calling you from vacation.  Telling you to give up the rat race and come down and ENJOY YOURSELF!  It’s a three minute sea breeze.  You’d follow this record anywhere.

And that’s the essence of Jimmy Buffett.  You want his lifestyle.  Not only the one he preaches, but the one he lives.  You want to fly your seaplane, surf, ply the ocean on your sailboat…

Jimmy had a hit album a few years back by pairing up with some of the new Nashville generation.  But, he was dry for decades before, and has been dry ever since.  You could criticize him, call him a pathetic loser in the chart of life, but you’d be wrong…  Because if you’re truly paying attention, you now know how Jimmy Buffett feels.  Jimmy Buffett is in the Jimmy Buffett business.  And business is really damn good.  He sells out every show, his fans buy merch, they’ll follow him anywhere.  Chart records are for pussies, people who keep score using a fallacious system.

We’re all Jimmy Buffett now…

And stunningly, this track from his instantly forgotten 2006 album, "Take The Weather With You", is really good.  And he does a killer version of Crowded House’s "Weather With You".  Infusing that New Zealand opus with the flavor of a different set of islands, those in the Caribbean.

"Donnie Iris Live"
Recorded The Day After April Fool’s Day 1981 at "The Paradise," Boston, MA.

Yup, all your favorite North Coast tracks.  From "The Rapper" to "Ah! Leah!"  Who even knew this existed?  I found this on a blog with two Marshall Crenshaw shows…  One from New York and one from London.  One from King Biscuit and one from the BBC.  And then there were the sixteen live tracks from Joe Jackson’s show at the Old Waldorf on May 14, 1979.  If you want to know about the gay politician, if you want to know how to drive your car, just track this down.

And then there were the two American Flyer albums…

You’ve probably never heard the original version of "Gamblin’ Man"…  No, I’m not talking about the Seger track, but the closing cut on the first side of Bonnie Raitt’s "Sweet Forgiveness".

"Sweet Forgiveness" is not one of Bonnie’s best albums.  Paul Rothchild did a better job with its predecessor, "Home Plate".  If you don’t know her version of "My First Night Alone Without You", I hope you’ve never endured a break-up.  She nails it, no matter which side of the disconnection you’re on.  "Sweet Forgiveness" had the hit Warner Brothers was looking for, "Runaway", but the rest of the album was nowhere near as good as classics like "Give It Up" and "Takin’ My Time".  But it did contain "Two Lives" and "Gamblin’ Man".

Written by Eric Kaz, like "Home Plate"’s "I’m Blowin’ Away", "Gamblin’ Man" has the same resignation, but with more of a groove.  And you can hear the writer’s interpretation on American Flyer’s second album, "Spirit Of A Woman".

The odds are down and the track looks slow
Sure don’t feel like a sure thing
Your horse gets jumpy when the pack runs wild
It don’t look like a sure thing

You’re involved, maybe even married.  You’ve seen this behavior before, you’ve protested previously, but it’s made no difference.  Now you’re just putting in your two cents.

You must be crazy
To gamble this way
The children hungry
And the rent ain’t paid
Gamblin’ man, ramblin’ fool
Sure must be crazy to gamble on you

And that’s what we are, crazy in love.  If we can’t gamble, we want no part.  We don’t want love to be sure, we want love to be exciting, we want to reach, we want to be more than we already are.

But sometimes we overreach.  And we sound like the singer of this song.

Like the above live shows, you can’t buy American Flyer.  But if you know where to look online, your life will be enriched.

"The Lyon Tapes"
The Silencers


When I saw this on the page, my eyes bugged out.  A live recording by my second favorite act of the nineties, recorded sixteen track and sounding like YOU’RE ON STAGE?

Won’t you answer me
Said the exile
Is there a message for me
Now I feel so far away

That’s what you wait for when you’ve been abandoned, the phone call, the connection, the message that says it was all a mistake.

I got that.  When I was finally ensconced in a new relationship.

But a year before, after my ex-wife moved out, I was thrust into a new life.  One wherein promo man for RCA Records Kevin Sutter played a magical record entitled "A Blues For Buddha" in the cassette player of his rented car.  THIS I wanted!

The original studio take of "Answer Me" rises out of the speakers like the sun.  Barely perceptibly at first, then you feel the power of its rays.  By time the bass and drums kick in, you’re sold.  Then, there’s a FIDDLE!  I don’t know if the radio is interested in this kind of music, whether it can be used to sell shampoo, but this is the kind of sound you yearn to discover, that pours out of your speakers like aromatherapy and changes the vibe of your whole room.

This live show was recorded not long after "A Blues For Buddha" was released.  The Silencers perform "Razor Blades Of Love".  An almost six minute number that resembles nothing but life itself.  From birth through death, with all the high points hit in between.

Stunningly, the album contains a live version of "Possessed".

After becoming positively ENRAPTURED by "A Blues For Buddha" I yearned to hear the band’s first album, "A Letter From St. Paul".  Hugh Surratt had to send one from GERMANY!  Even though "Painted Moon" had been played on American radio, there were no copies in stores.  And years have taught me that the legend is true, as good as the second album is, the first is better.  Because of tracks like "Possessed".  Which reach an intensity akin to that of a metal band, but without the pounding cacophony.  Possessed.  BY YOU!

But my favorite cut off the debut is "Blue Desire".  Stunningly, searching the track listing, I found it was contained.

Storm in space now it looks like rain
The Holy Ghost on a haunted train
Look out
Here comes blue desire

Great music SWINGS!  It picks you up from your chair, puts its arm under yours and causes you to stand up straight where you start to MOVE!  Not the choreographed steps of a music video, but involuntary movements, which you’ve never performed previously.  It’s living theatre.

Well I left my home and my family
No you don’t realize what you’ve done to me
Look out
Here comes blue desire

I left the east coast behind because I heard the Beach Boys.  Them and Jan & Dean.  I watched TV, shot in Hollywood.  There was a better life on the west coast, I begged my mother to move before I even hit double digits.

But it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I arrived, and Southern California lived up to my expectations.  A land where it never rained, where everybody was free and easy, where everybody was so into his own trip that no one cared about yours.  You could be whoever you wanted, you could cast aside your SAT scores, your college degree, it was suddenly about you, THE REAL YOU!

There’s a war in space now it looks like rain
Electric storms on the horizon
There’s a cloud of dust in the distant blue
When the twister hits it’ll bankrupt you
Now who’s going to pay the equipment hire
When the crops are dead and the farm’s on fire

That’s what happened at the end of 1999.  There was a storm in space, known as the Internet.  It resulted in something called Napster.  Everybody got a high speed connection and started trading not only what was available commercially, but cuts that fans, traders, never even knew existed.

Those were the glory days.  Before the original Napster bit the dust.  It was so EXCITING!

KaZaA was never quite as good.  AudioGalaxy had a bunch of rarities.  But now, we’re in the absolute heyday of music fandom.  Via blogs and online repositories, not only have all the out of print albums resurfaced, but gems by your favorite acts that make your jaw drop!

"The Lyon Tapes" could not sound any better.  You’re supposed to hear through the hiss, this stuff is supposed to be for the hard core only.  But none of the live recordings I’m writing about here are impaired.  Anything but.  "The Lyon Tapes" are EXQUISITE!

In the early nineties I told friends I’d like to drive cross-country with a trunk full of Shawn Colvin’s "Steady On" and the Silencers’ "A Blues for Buddha’, converting people one by one.  I knew I could do it, I believed just that much.  Shawn eventually broke through, albeit with the inferior "A Few Small Repairs".  The Silencers faded away.  Jimme O’Neill left the mother country for France, the only territory to recognize the Silencers’ greatness.

I’m not down with them on Jerry Lewis, but they’re right about the Silencers.  It’s not about chart numbers, but the music, the way the music makes you feel.  The Silencers employ the full panoply, all the colors in the palette, the results are sometimes bright, other times chiaroscuro.  The music implores you to act and at other times soothes you.  It’s your best friend.  Discovering "The Lyon Tapes" is like an unexpected visit from an old camp buddy.  My entire history is coming back to life!

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