AMG Reviews by Joe Viglione

NO MILK TODAY Herman’s Hermits Song Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

As with many Herman’s Hermits hits, the songs are so indellibly linked to Peter Noone and company that few cover versions turn up, though garage bands Los Checkmates and The E Types did pick up on this wonderful melody from songwriter Graham Gouldman who released the tune himself on his Peter Noone produced solo lp. Clocking in at two minutes and fifty-seven seconds, MGM single #13681 went Top 35 two weeks after the flip side, “There’s A Kind Of Hush”, went Top 5 in March of 1967. Acoustic guitar opens this perfectly constructed pop tune with bells, backing vocals and the immense production found on “There’s A Kind Of Hush”. This is serious pop music, minus the strings and heavy backing vocals you have a style that R.E.M. embraced and brought into another era.

The lyrics are more obscure than two other Gouldman /Herman’s Hermits classics, “Bus Stop”and “For Your Love”, and the chord changes that go along with those lyrics are superb. As the tune twists and turns Mickey Most brings different sounds in to keep the listener glued to the radio. Special music from a special time, it’s too bad R.E.M. and the modern rock bands they spawned don’t pay more attention to the prototype.

In 1982, David Bowie released In Bertolt Brecht’s “Baal”; four years earlier, the prestigious RCA Red Seal classical label had Bowie narrating Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and with his stint on Broadway as The Elephant Man, the artist stretched himself brilliantly. There is not enough spoken word by popular recording artists in today’s world. Steven Tyler may show up on a Kerouac tribute performing one track; Grace Slick, Lou Reed, Peter Frampton, Marty Balin, and so many others have cut promotional interview discs for insiders, but it is surprising how the record industry has, for the most part, ignored this inexpensive and wonderful format to further endear artists to their fans. Jim Morrison’s poetry, after all, was all that was left when Elektra published An American Prayer — and that fans purchase low-quality bootlegs of many artists should have been a signal in the past to deliver this type of product to the marketplace. The scarcity of such projects makes Bowie’s close to 30 minutes of narration that much more delightful. The Peter and the Wolf album is divided into two sides. The narration by David Bowie of public domain material originally written by Prokofiev takes up 27 minutes and eight seconds, while the second side of this green-colored vinyl LP has 17 minutes and ten seconds of Eugene Ormandy conducting Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ormandy and the aforementioned musicians from Philly also back up Bowie on side one. This RCA Red Seal release includes detailed liners and the project, according to Mary Campbell’s notes, is specifically geared to “introduce children to the sounds of the individual instruments in the symphony orchestra.” Both Prokofiev and Britten wrote their respective pieces with this aim in mind. That makes this record all the more charming — imagine what it could do if teachers would actually use it on a large scale to educate? As for Bowie’s performance, it is splendid. He tells the well-known fable with his usual eloquence and style, and gives instructions at the beginning for kids to understand how the music corresponds to characters in the story. The accompaniment from the Philadelphia Orchestra is first rate, the lush sounds more exciting on the Bowie side than on Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell, which makes up side B. Interesting how this project, if promoted today, could bring the name David Bowie to a huge audience of young people. A remarkable and well-crafted project. ~ Joe Viglione

Amazingly, if you go to eBay you’ll find many of my AllMusic reviews The AMG Reviews have been published on, DjangoMusic, MSNBC, eBay,, LivexLive, a long, long list of my reviews republished on dozens of websites. We’re tracking down as complete a list as we can build.

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Under Open Skies is a very strong album by the Island recording artist who left Spooky Tooth and joined Mott the Hoople after that group left Island for CBS. “Ride On” begins the festivities with Grosvenor playing both bass and lead guitar; Spooky Tooth’s Mick Kellie provides the drums; John Hawken is on piano; and harmonies are by Jim Capaldi of Traffic and the man Luther Grosvenor replaced in Mott the Hoople, Mick Ralphs. Here is the oddity of Under Open Skies, where Verden Allen’s “Soft Ground” really disrupted the flow of the All the Young Dudes album, a tune like “Here Comes the Queen” would have been dynamite for Ian Hunter and the boys. (After writing this review, Justin Purington of the Mott the Hoople website,, noted they did perform the song live in 1974, and that it rocked.) While that band was being over-extended was the time to lean heavily on Grosvenor. He came off like a hired gun rather than Mick Ralphs’ true replacement, and this highly creative work shows just what he could have truly brought to the Mott table if he was given the chance. “When I Met You” has the Move’s Trevor Burton on bass, inspired guitar playing by Grosvenor, and a vocal by the artist leaning toward Steve Winwood. The title track is just amazing, Trevor Burton and Mick Kellie making up two-thirds of the three- piece band which pulls of this brilliant Githa Grosvenor/Luther Grosvenor pre-Ariel Bender composition. That the reconstituted Mott or British Lions failed to pick up on this individual to continue their work is just a shame. They went in a failed heavy metal direction while the possible key to their success was in this spirited and very complete work. The title track is mystical and amazing, while the inside cover has a tremendous photo of Grosvenor dressed up like Ozzy Osbourne in white cape, immersed by beautiful green trees, and a small pig to the far left. With Jim Capaldi’s Oh, How We Danced and John “Rabbit” Bundrick’s Broken Arrow, Under Open Skies by Luther Grosvenor is part of a unique trilogy of discs on Island records by sidemen who crafted records more complete than some of the discs by the groups they played in — Traffic, Free, and Spooky Tooth — respectively. Musicians overlap on all three of these recordings. Nice, touching liner notes by Jim Capaldi are included as well. “Waiting” would have been a nice moment for Spooky Tooth, while “Rocket” recalls Denny Laine’s “Say You Don’t Mind.” If Grosvenor submitted this as a term paper, the teacher would have to give it an A+.

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
Before the reformed J. Geils Band embarked on its stadium tour in 1999, the band did a surprise set at Boston’s legendary Paradise Theater, the room where Billy Joel tracked his hit “She’s Got a Way,” where David Johansen videotaped his hit Animals medley, and where bootlegs by Blondie and the Cars were recorded. This double CD showed up on eBay titled Jake Geils Band, perhaps a clever way to get under the net. The recording quality isn’t the greatest — which is surprising these days with DAT machines and mini-discs proliferating and allowing for higher-quality contraband, but it exists, and it is important. In 1972 the legendary live act released Full House, in 1976 the double-LP Blow Your Face Out, and, after they left Atlantic, Showtime was unleashed in 1982 on EMI. In that ten-year period, none of the songs overlap on those eight sides of live material, except for a tease of “Looking for a Love” on Blow Your Face Out, a title released in complete form on Full House. That is just a phenomenal depth of catalog. As one can imagine, they pulled out all the stops on the 1999 reunion tour, and all the hits from all three live albums are included in the set. Truly, this is the “best of” J. Geils. The drummer on this gig was not Stephen Jo Bladd, though he did appear at the press conference prior to the tour launch. Henry Rollins’ drummer filled in and did a decent enough job, though Duke & the Drivers’ Mark Highlander would have been the perfect choice; he plays with bassist Danny Klein in their own group, Stone Crazy — the combined rhythm section from Duke and Geils is pure magic. Jake Geils Band: The Reunion is a terrific model for a definitive live album from Peter Wolf and the J. Geils Band. Without dipping into any solo Wolf hits, this performance was over the top — Wolf was dynamic that night and the band played with enthusiasm that was just bursting at the seams. Had they parked the recording truck outside and rush-released a similar two-disc set on opening week of the tour, who knows what excitement it could have generated for this fabulous and underrated ensemble. The set is perfectly constructed, and if the downside of the layoff was that they never recorded in the years between, the upside is the renewed energy and spirit. “You keep stomping, we’ll keep playing, we’re going to rock till we drop…” Wolf yells to the crowd, and he meant it. “This is the first time we’ve played in front of an audience in 17 years,” he added, and that reason alone makes the documentation all the more vital. After only 70 seconds of a slow and bouncy “Where Did Our Love Go,” the sold-out audience starts singing the tune before the band chimes in! Almost two decades was a bit too long to keep the faithful waiting. The Uptown Horns add nice punch to “Land of a Thousand Dances”; one can only hope there is a better-quality version of this performance out there — truly an amazing night that, in true bootleg tradition, was found sold on the streets of New York and resold on eBay. Somehow great music finds its way.
Back in the day my AMG Reviews were published in the NY Times (my film reviews,) Rolling Stone onlne, MSNBC, Billboard magazine…over a dozen sites, possibly dozens of sites. Now they are on eBay too. Here’s my Livingston Taylor on Rolling See DISCOGS also

Perhaps Joe Viglione of All Music Guide said it best in a retrospective of Taylor’s career when he noted that brother James’ second solo release, “Sweet Baby James,” won world acclaim but Livingston’s 1970 self-titled revue was a multi-faceted “world unto itself.” Subsequent albums, equally richly textured, and Taylor’s warm, effusive style has built him a loyal following that has consistently kept him on the road.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
For fans of the Cars this release pre-dates Rick & the Rabbits — the name that Modern Lover Jonathan Richman gave Richard Ocasek and Ben Orzechowski prior to their becoming Captain Swing, the band that evolved into the Cars. Recorded at Aengus Studios in Fayville, MA, where Andy Pratt created his classic “Avenging Annie,” the trio includes Jas Goodkind on lead acoustic and electric guitars, supplemented by various friends. Track three is the only non-Ocasek original, written by the late Ben Orr, and “Lincoln Park” is an example of why Cars fans have called this Ocasek and Orr‘s Crosby, Stills & Nash phase. Greg Hawks was working with Martin Mull and his Fabulous Furniture, but he appears on this album playing baritone, soprano sax, and doing the horn arrangements. Jeff Lass plays the keyboards here, although Hawks would join the Cars and create a sound so admired that Paul McCartney would fly Greg to England to perform on his “Motor of Love” on the Flowers in the Dirt album. “Bring Me Back” is a wonderful early Ocasek essay, and this album shows the ’80s pop ensemble in a delicate and charming light. Only “Timetrain Wonderwheel” hints at the direction Ocasek would eventually take. The vibe is like America’s “Sandman,” and this is as close to Panorama as you are going to find here. The experimental sounds and jams make it the strongest track on How’s the Weather. Hawks‘ horns are nothing short of brilliant, and they play like his innovative keyboards that were so essential to the Cars‘ eventual success. The vocal phrasings on this song are significant, and “Timetrain Wonderwheel”‘s importance as an artifact of a band prior to its greatness cannot be ignored. “Makeshift Pawn” opens side two and sounds like a low-key David Gates or England Dan/John Ford Coley. Hearing the material is astounding when one thinks of the sci-fi overtones of “Moving in Stereo.” These guys had the chops and passion in “The Light Won’t Burn” as well as “Winter Song,” but there’s no denying that there’s little hint of the change in direction that would bring Ocasek, Orr, and Hawks to superstardom during the ’80s. “Along the Way” truly sounds like Crosby, Stills, Ocasek & Orr.
DETROIT  reviewed by Joe V
Review by Joe Viglione

It opens with the roar of “Long Neck Goose” and MitchRyder returns to Detroit with a band named after his city, one that should have been as big as Boston, Chicago, or even that ensemble named after a state, Kansas. Detroit the group rocks grittier than any of
the above, and though household recognition eluded them, the album is revered and far more important than the wandering Dave Marsh’s original liner notes dared
speculate. About 15 years later, Marsh would write even more about this music with all new liner notes for the cassette, still not comprehending the essence of this music. After recording in Memphis, the blues vocalist headed up to Manta Sound in Toronto to track this essential album and begin his status as an underground legend with ’60s hits under his belt.
Being on Paramount Records didn’t help; the Gulf & Western company was a division of Famous Music publishing, and though they were cool enough to sign the Cars when
that band was known as Milkwood, the label just couldn’t compete, despite this project’s enormous strengths.

The disc is chock-full of excitement. Steve Hunter’s guitar work makes everything come to life, framed perfectly by Harry Phillips’ elemental keyboards and Bob Ezrin’s powerful production. Why bassist W.R. Cooke is allowed to do the lead vocal on the shuffling, almost doo wop “Box of Roses” is the mystery. We all came to this party to hear Ryder belt ’em out. And Ryder screams throughout; “Is It You (Or Is It Me)” gets that howl, as does this immortal cover of Lou Reed’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Redesigned with snarling Steve Hunter guitar licks and tons of pounding anticipation, the song was the underground hit from this now-classic album and just perfect for the voice of William Levise Jr.. The organ supplements
Hunter’s exploding guitar work and Mitch Ryder’s orgasmic vocal howls over a gargantuan rearrangement of a Velvet Underground tune released a year earlier.

But there’s more to the album than the excitement generated by the 45 RPM of the Lou Reed cover — Ron Davies’ “It Ain’t Easy” boasted renditions by many,
from Long John Baldry to Bowie on his Ziggy Stardust
album, but Ryder gives the song some real definition.

The original vinyl had four songs on each side; the reconstructed compact disc and cassette changed the order a bit to make room for about five minutes of a stunning version of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” Reissue coordinator Andy McKaie sent this
writer a thank-you note in 1986 after letters to Irving Azoff and A&R gal Kate Hyman proposing the re-release — and suggesting the inclusion of “Gimme
Shelter.” As Marsh comments, the extended version was
utilized on the re-release, not the shorter B-side
originally issued.

The entire album is a keeper, with the slow blues of
“Drink” and the concluding passions in “I Found a
Love.” Both guitarist Hunter and producer Bob Ezrin
would be involved with Lou Reed’s monumental Berlin
two years after this, with Steve Hunter joining Reed’s
live band for what is now known as the Rock ‘n’ Roll
Animal Tour. This album made all that possible and is
as much fun to listen to as it is important. The
prices the re-release of the CD fetch on e-bay prove it.

      1  Long Neck Goose  Ezrin, Ryder  3:13 
Composed by: Ezrin, Ryder
Performed by: Detroit
      2  Is It You (Or Is It Me)  Bee, Ryder  4:05 
Composed by: Bee, Ryder
Performed by: Detroit
      3  Box of Old Roses  Cooke  2:45 
Composed by: Cooke
Performed by: Detroit
      4  It Ain’t Easy  Davies  3:22 
Composed by: Davies
Performed by: Detroit
    5  Rock & Roll  Reed  6:10 
Composed by: Reed
Performed by: Detroit
      6  Let It Rock  Anderson  3:25 
Composed by: Anderson
Performed by: Detroit
      7  Drink  Manko, Optner  5:41 
Composed by: Manko, Optner
Performed by: Detroit
      8  Gimme Shelter  Jagger  4:58 
Composed by: Jagger
Performedby: Detroit
      9  I Found a Love  Pickett, Schofield, West
Composed by: Pickett, Schofield, West
Performed by: Detroit


Detroit-Memphis Experiment

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
Mitch Ryder‘s voice is in great shape as Steve Cropper takes over the production reigns from industry legend Bob Crewe. There are more than a few digs at Ryder‘s past in the liner notes, but the music is truly the voice from Detroit meeting the sound of Memphis. The 12 songs here are statements, all clocking in under four minutes and above two and a half. These compact tunes like “I Get Hot” and the Cropper/Levise original “Long Long Time” — not the Linda Ronstadt hit — have Ryder/Levise pouring his well-known voice all over the grooves. “Boredom” is the strangest, and prettiest, song in the lot, written by Matthew Fisher, Gary Brooker and Keith Reid of Procul Harum bringing a British progressive pop sound to this rhythm and blues album, to good effect. Island vibes pervade this departure from the expected Mitch Ryder as well as Booker T sound. It’s a delight. “Push Aroun'” would be fine for Wilson Pickett but it sounds like early Lou Reed circa Cycle Annie, Ryder‘s voice smoother than usual, with super little guitar licks bubbling under and over the hot rhythm. Cropper says in his liner notes that this started as an “Experiment” but became the “Detroit Memphis Experience.” That is a more accurate description. The blues/gospel touches of “I Believe” and the Cropper/Redding co-write “Direct Me” on the second side blend nicely with the subtle rendition of “Raise Your Hand,” a tune Janis Joplin performed with her Kozmic Blues Band and which obtained more noteriety because of the rekindled interest in her through the magic of box sets. “Sugar Bee” and “I Get Hot” are fine little numbers. There is a maturity to Mitch Ryder‘s voice here — his performance on this disc perhaps a cross between the early hits and the ballads Crewe had him singing later on. It is very, well, refined for this rock/blues combo. Just two years later, producer Bob Ezrin would lay the foundation for the highly influential Rock & Roll Animal band by pairing Ryder with Steve Hunter and their concoction of the definitive cover of Lou Reed‘s anthem “Rock & Roll.” That album would be released on the Paramount imprint, while Detroit Memphis Experiment came out on Paramount’s Dot label. The anger in the liner notes would indicate a more vindictive bite in the material, but it’s probably for the best that Booker T & the MGs featuring Mitch Ryder, which is what this record is, simply delivers a no-nonsense one-two punch of good music. The singer proclaims on the back cover that ” Mitch Ryder is the sole creation of William S. Levise, Jr.” — and makes reference to being “raped by the Music Machine.” It is great music, but there was no business person to deliver a hit single from this excellent collection. Maybe if someone with Bob Crewe‘s drive had supervised the work as Crewe oversaw the Toys‘ Lover’s Concerto album, there would be a greater appreciation for this landmark recording. It still has a lot to offer. The horns on “Eenie Meenie Minie Moe” interact nicely with Ryder‘s voice, and the atmosphere is very party like. In fact, that’s what this is, the great undiscovered Mitch Ryder party album. Would make a wonderful two-fer with the Ezrin-produced Detroit platter.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione [-]
The Jonzun Crew’s long-awaited fourth album, Cosmic Love, was released on the BMG-distributed Critique label in 1990. Michael Jonzun had — and still has — vast archives of songs recorded during this period. Like so many, the very excellent “Baby I Surrender” is not on this collection, but that doesn’t stop Cosmic Love from still being an important and highly listenable part of the Jonzun Brothers’ history. A band that should have released at least a dozen discs by this point in time, Mission Control Studios owner Michael Jonzun crafted his album over many years, and the precision and care he put into Cosmic Love is obvious from start to finish. The controlled insanity of the band’s earlier success is absent, replaced by smooth soul, studied R&B, and no-nonsense funk-rock. The title track shimmers with the vibrations found on the best records by the Commodores, while “Write Me Off” sounds like a direction Stevie Wonder could have chosen. Why the New Kids on the Block weren’t brought in to promote this music in TV ads is perplexing — NKOTB were huge at the time and core fans of Jonzun Crew couldn’t wait for their next release. There are ten songs here bookended by a prologue and epilogue, perfectly produced epics culminating in the superb “Wall of Fame.” The general public had no idea that this was the co-producer of two hugely popular groups, along with hit recordings by Peter Wolf, and this album drifted into obscurity as one of the best kept secrets in Boston rock & roll. La Vern Baker producer Barry Marshall shows up on guitar, as does Phil Greene from the ’70s band Swallow — there are lots of Boston “underground” names on the disc, yet the band was never embraced by the Boston “critics” and few understood the depth of Jonzun’s artistry. “Living in This World” is a nice ballad, while “Playhouse” is powerful dance-funk. The telling moment on the disc, though, the potential hit that never got the attention that it deserved is, as mentioned, the final song, “Wall of Fame.” This one tune contains all the finest elements of the Jonzun Crew’s best work, and that it didn’t take the charts by storm is a sin. “Ordinary Man,” “I Do Love You,” “Spotlight,” “This Time (Let’s Talk It Over”) could all hit for artists smart enough to seek this material out, but it is at its best when performed by Michael Jonzun. Though Cosmic Love may have a few too many love songs and ballads for fans of the group’s earlier hits, “Space Cowboy” and “Pac Jam,” it still is an impressive artistic statement, and a beautiful work which deserves a better place in music history.

Down to Earth – Jonzun Crew

on Amazon

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

Down to Earth by the Jonzun Crew was originally released on the Tommy Boy label, re-released by A&M, and is now back on Tommy Boy. All confusion aside, this funk/rock/techno album by Michael Jonzun, his former wife Princess Loria, and brothers Soni Jonzun and Maurice Starr is a highly listenable important cornerstone of Boston area music history. “Tonight’s the Night” is as melodic as Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus,” and as commercial, but Jonzun‘s work came at least two years prior to Falco. The JC cover the spectrum; “We’re Going All the Way” is reshuffled Motown — the Temptations about to turn into New Kids on the Block. Just a few years after the release of this disc, Starr and Jonzun would unleash NKOTB, the production evolution of their prior discovery, New Edition, with different faces. Here is the sound that was the formula for success. Although Michael Jonzun plays it tongue-in-cheek, this is serious rhythm & blues/pop. A shame that they did not have the opportunity that a Motown or even A&M afforded other acts. Jonzun is every bit as prolific as Prince, and a phenomenal stage performer. “You Got the Lovin'” is crossover pop with jangly guitar and keyboards that crackle. But the vocal work by the Jonzun Crew is truly what set the table for New Kids on the Block, and that vocal work makes the songs come to life. Where Private Lightning on A&M a few years earlier suffered from a less-than-adequate production of a great band — and could have benefited from Michael Jonzun‘s skills (just look what he did for Peter Wolf), all the elements for a smash are here. Both record labels involved in Down to Earth had a real masterpiece on their hands, an album that works as a cohesive piece of art, but touches upon many genres. Three tracks, “Redd Hott Mama,” “Lovin’,” and “Skool Daze” were not on the original Tommy Boy release. “Lovin'” is exquisite R&B: an incessant bed of keys and percussion, with Jonzun‘s perfect voice gliding over it all. Catchy and smooth. “Mechanism” takes the band into the Kraftwerk world of industrial/dance/techno. For those who wondered why such talented guys would generate the bubblegum that Bobby Brown and the New Edition spawned, all one has to do is look at a record industry that failed to give this essential group the flexibility it deserved, and earned. Billy Loosigian of Atlantic’s the Joneses and MCA’s Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band adds guitar to “Lovin’,” “You Got the Lovin’,” “We’re Going All the Way,” and the rocking “Tonight.” “Mechanism” should be blasting on classic hits radio to bring that format some much needed flavor. This record is just waiting for a new audience to discover it.

Jonzun Crew Down to Earth AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
…And I Mean It is an amalgam of girl group, new wave, blues, pop, and folk-rock by Genya Ravan. To hear her exquisite voice on “Night Owl” soaring above her own backing vocals is intense, imagine Etta James backed by the Sex Pistols doing a rock version of “Earth Angel.” Of all Ravan’s work, …And I Mean It is possibly the most concise and picture-perfect statement of what the woman is musically about. A girl group pioneer who worked with Richard Perry prior to his finding the Pointer Sisters groove, there is no doubt Ravan influenced that major producer, and his work did the same for her. “Pedal to the Medal” is high-end treble rock before it came into vogue.


Mitch Ryder  Detroit/Memphis Experiment

Detroit with Mitch Ryder  Produced by Bob Ezrin –

MILKWOOD  “How’s The Weather”  pre-CARS

Written Mon, 7 Apr 2003 04:03:08 -0400 (EDT)


Polydor 24-4015 Stereo, Records Like Life, was produced by Andy Pratt and Aengus for Amphion Productions, Inc. It’s an eight song collection clocking in at a little over thirty-nine minutes featuring “Bella Bella”, a tune that was part of Andy’s live set, and the title track “Records + Records (Records Are Like Life)” . In a June 1976 review of RESOLUTION by
Peter Herbst published in The Boston Phoenix he states “1971’s RECORDS ARE LIKE LIFE (Polydor) stirred nary a ripple and is now lost to time (though Pratt has recently regained the masters)” while a July 3 1973 published interview with Ben Gerson notes: “After college came RECORDS ARE LIKE LIFE, the master of which Pratt’s shrewd manager Nat Weiss has
purchased from Polydor in order to avoid Polydor’s capitalizing on Andy’s Columbia success by re-releasing it. Now Pratt, Weiss, and his producer ex-Earth Opera John Nagy can decide what they wish to do with it –re-release it themselves, re-cut some of the songs, or forget about it. ” “It may be a masterpiece, it may be swill” ” ponders Andy’s road manager Buzzy. ” “Whatever it is, we own it.” ” Earlier in the interview Gerson begins the piece by saying “For the past three years Andy Pratt has been an intriguing local rumor, having release in 1970 a Polydor album entitled RECORDS ARE LIKE LIFE whose 5,000 copies soon wound up in the

It was these early articles which put the fan on a mission: this writer had to find this lost artifact. In the days before Ebay and Gemm sites on the web which bring little record stores from around the world into your home via the world wide web one had to sift through hundreds of recordings in dozens of stores before uncovering hidden treasure. And RECORDS ARE LIKE LIFE lives up to expectations – it is a tremendous early work by Andy Pratt adorned with an off-white cover featuring a cherub on a frosty jungle high wire on a mountainside with sun rays
shooting down at a right to left angle. No credit is given to the cover artist, though a David Jenks photo with three musicians starting with a very young Andy Pratt is itself a work of art, the youthful faces peer out from the back cover in single file, but placed perfectly in the square. Drums and percussion by Rick Shlosser, Bill Elliot providing a bass and vocal on “Mindy” as well as a string arrangement on “Low Tide Island” with a Steve Crump guitar on “Bella Bella” Hindsight is always 20/20, and with over thirty years since this work was created and released, it is easy to speculate – the record should have been left in circulation – Polydor “capitalizing” on Andy’s Columbia success could only help him build a following – when Sonny And Cher found their 1964 recording “Baby Don’t Go” resurrected and going Top 10 just six weeks after their
breakthrough hit, “I Got You Babe” hit #1, it helped make them the hottest of commodities. It would be a year and a half until they hit the Top 10 again – so that early record not only provided them with momentum for concert performances, it has made their Greatest Hit collections so much more fun. And as the Grateful Dead learned through allowing tape
trading, the more material the fans have, the bigger the following. Again, this fan becoming obsessed with finding a copy (he actually found three, two with a cover, one with just an inner sleeve), proves that when the public hears a sound they like, is turned on to an artist who
makes a positive impact in their lives, they want more of his/her work. They want to explore the sound and the individual crafting that sound. This fan also recorded Pratt at Paul’s Mall and taped his concert at that venue off of the radio. “Avenging Annie” opened doors for Andy
Pratt, and to this day people remember how amazing its sound was, but how it lent itself so well to radio. “Bella Bella” would have been the perfect follow-up on a production which has the same flavor as the Columbia disc, much more so than the refined Arif Mardin productions
that are RESOLUTION and SHIVER IN THE NIGHT and the Eddy Offord (Yes –
Emerson, Lake and Palmer) gloss of MOTIVES. In another interview from THE REAL PAPER
printed in 1976 around the time of the August 29th free concert on City Hall Plaza in Boston, it is said of the artist in regards to this album that it is something “he now denies nearly categorically.” Wow. Times change, and over three decades have elapsed since Andy Pratt
recorded this rare and beautiful gem of a disc. The fan who sought out the pearl of great price had the honor of having his review published on AMG as well as Rolling In that review the disc is called “a lost treasure. This is Pratt at his most innocent, with vocals that sound otherworldly and songwriting that is way ahead of its time.” The review also describes Andy as a ( more orthodox) “doppelgänger” of pianist/vocalist Willie “Loco” Alexander
and goes on to describe the songs – citing “Wet Daddy,” “a charming guitar/percussion ditty”, “Oliver” an indication of where Pratt would take his music: elegant piano, double-tracked vocals, and a unique melody and “Low Tide Island” “a truly extraordinary (and haunting) song with the ttitle track bringing things back to the jazz/pop that is Andy Pratt’s forte. The decade after this music was made saw the music business becoming more business than music. With manufactured sound as well as fabricated artists proliferating like snowflakes a work such as RECORDS ARE LIKE LIFE can be viewed for exactly what it is, a pure artistic statement that continues to entertain – and that is more useful than much of the material being forced on the market today. It has stood the test of time. If the Columbia album was the Messiah of Andy Pratt’s work, RECORDS ARE LIKE LIFE is its John The Baptist. The references are not made as a nod to Pratt’s Christian albums, only to put this collection of songs in its proper context. The Andy Pratt album on Columbia is a major work that has yet to get its due. It is worthy of a Grammy, and RECORDS ARE LIKE LIFE is the work that came directly before it. There is much insight into the artist on this recording. Buzzy Linhart (no relation to Pratt’s aforementioned road manager referenced above), co-author of Bette Midler’s theme song, “(You Got To Have) Friends” – Top 40 in November of 1973, fell in love with the title of
this album when he heard about it on the phone in April of 2003, when these liner notes were being composed. Both men were flirting with major success in 1973, and both are revered in musical circles. RECORDS ARE LIKE LIFE is one of those artifacts that truly reflects its title – and lives up to its legend.

joe viglione
april, 2003

After I wrote the AMG Review I was commissioned to write the liner notes:

Andy Pratt Records Are Like Life, AMG Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

Andy Pratt‘s first album preceded 1973’s self-titled release on Columbia, which included the minor hit “Avenging Annie.” Records Are Like Life is a lost treasure. This is Pratt at his most innocent, with vocals that sound otherworldly and songwriting that is way ahead of its time. Here Andy Pratt sounds like the doppelgänger of another pianist/vocalist from Boston, Willie “Loco” Alexander. Both men play a fusion of rock with pop and jazz flavors and lots of other influences invading the framework of their compositions, but Alexander did it with more emphasis on the avant garde while Pratt kept it serious — somewhat. Their vocal stylings are frighteningly similar for two musicians who came from the same region and same point in time, but performed in different circles. “Shiny Susie” on side one is almost eight minutes long, its movements more like a mini-play than a pop tune. “Bella Bella” was a staple of Pratt‘s live show, and very close to the style of what he would soon record for Columbia. Although his most cohesive recording would be the 1982 five-song EP Fun in the First World, with producer Leroy Radcliffe getting Pratt focused in a rock setting away from the softer pop that Arif Mardin and Eddy Offord brought the artist toward the end of the ’70s, this first effort has inventiveness that sounds fresh decades later. “Wet Daddy,” the opening track, is a charming guitar/percussion ditty. “Oliver” an indication of where Pratt would take his music: elegant piano, double-tracked vocals, and a unique melody. The rolling drums work against the bass and piano at points, with the guitar tastefully finding its way into the mix; the song develops into a pretty resolution. “Low Tide Island” changes the mood again, with Pratt‘s vocals absolutely spooky and guitar and strings buffeting his performance. A truly extraordinary song. The title track brings things back to the jazz/pop that is Andy Pratt‘s forte. Although he would co-produce 1979’s Motives with Emerson, Lake & Palmer engineer Offord, it is interesting that this is the only album produced by the artist on his own. The manic intensity of the final track and the free spirit of the performance make this a very original recording.

Review by Joe Viglione As Harriet Schock released her Nik Venet-produced American Romance on her own, with former labelmate Genya Ravan similarly giving the world For Fans Only on Award Records in 2002, yet another alum from the 20th Century label has heard the calling. Miss Diane Renay hit number one on the adult contemporary charts in 1964 with her Top Ten 45 RPM “Navy Blue,” and has come up with a fantastic double-CD retrospective of her recording career which fans of girl groups and good music will absolutely treasure. There is a fun, 1987 dance-oriented remake of her biggest hit on CD two, but that’s only one of the excellent moments here. “Little White Lies” sweeps in, opening CD one with that sound that Connie Francis did so well. It was produced by Pete DeAngelis, who worked with Frankie Avalon and Al Martino, and was released on Atco Records in 1962 when she was only 16. In “Dynamite” you can hear the distinct sound that Bob Crewe helped the Toys get when producers Linzer and Randell put together the recordings that make up The Toys: A Lover’s Concerto/Attack for Crewe’s label. In a bit of synchronicity, the Barbara Now album was released by the Toys’ Barbara Harrison her own imprint, receiving good press, around the same time as this project. Harris sang backup on Renay’s second hit, “Kiss Me Sailor” (not on this collection), and recorded the Beatles’ “Yesterday” on her original A Lover’s Concerto album. Renay includes her version of “Yesterday” here, which brings it all full circle. These amazing talents give the fans what record labels are supposed to in this business — the release of great music. The classy Diane Renay shifts gears again with “Falling Star,” followed by “The Company You Keep,” and this material is so strong, one wonders why this artist doesn’t have a string of hit records up there with Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, and other divas of the day. “The Company You Keep” has little riffs from her big hit, “Navy Blue,” tucked neatly in the instrumentation, while “Troublemaker” has that gritty vocal style that made Brenda Lee’s pop numbers so memorable.

Blayze Bailey Alive in Poland

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
With epithets pouring out of Blaze Bayley‘s mouth about 13 minutes into the DVD, this crunchy batch of hard metal gushes from the screen in beautifully filmed movie-like form. The menacing image of the ex-Iron Maiden lead singer who fronted Wolfsbane as far back as 1988 on the

Live Fast Die Fast album is in fine form on March 24, 2007 in Katowice, Poland for the Metalmania festival. The veteran may not be a household name, but his prowess is impressive and the DVD is full of fury and brimstone. Metal Mind Productions and MVD give Bayley the star treatment and he deserves it, both on the cover of the DVD and with a colorful eight-page insert chock-full of photos of bandmates Rich Newport on guitar, second guitarist Nick BermudezDavid Bermudez on bass, and Rico Banderra on drums. Sometimes the band runs away with the music, as on “Two Worlds Collide,” which could be the musicians playing on two different planets on a collision course, but since attitude and feeling is what this genre is all about, the chaos works to Bayley‘s advantage. That tune is also on 2003’s As Live as It Gets from the band Blaze (totally different set of musicians from this outing) and an album with less than half of the songs overlapping due to the fact that Bayley has a very deep catalog. He calls the band “incredibly sexy,” but the fact is the lead vocalist could be a sad cross between Meat Loaf and Lemmy from Motörhead, definitely a frightening thought…you wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley, and that ominous and imposing look lends itself quite well to the music generated by this crew. “Kill and Destroy” smashes out of 2002’s Tenth Dimension album as do two other titles from this 15-song set, opening number “Speed of Light” and that disc’s title track. Metal Mind does a super job with these DVDs and this package contains an interview with Blaze, an interview with the band, photo gallery, desktop images, and all sorts of goodies including the bonus video “Hollow Head.” The rock veteran has a fan base in Europe but this project has the potential to expand his following exponentially.

The AMG Reviews have been published on, DjangoMusic, MSNBC, eBay,, LivexLive, a long, long list of my reviews republished on dozens of websites. We’re tracking down as complete a list as we can build.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
Nik Venet created the term “writer/singer” for Harriet Schock, and true to form, after the passing of that legendary record producer for Linda Ronstadt, the Beach Boys, Dory Previn, and so many others, Schock released a book on writing songs, Becoming Remarkable, that was a companion piece to one of the final recordings from Venet, her Rosebud album. A Massachusetts writer/singer, Karen Michalson has achieved a similar coup, and this CD by Michalson’s band Point of Ares is a companion piece as well, only with a twist. Tor Doherty Associates, publishers in New York, released her fantasy novel, Enemy Glory, and this record appears to be the soundtrack to the book. This is a project the husband-and-wife team of Bill Michalson and Karen have worked on for many years; the original release of Enemy Glory is detailed in the liner notes. The material here, with the exception of five tracks, is “re-arranged and re-written from earlier versions that were included on Point of Ares’ 1996 release.” The close-to-an-hour’s worth of music on Enemy Glory Darkly Blessed was recorded at the end of 2000 into January of 2001. With the success of Harry Potter and The Lord Of The Rings, the fantasy market, a close cousin to science fiction, is going to look for material already on the market. Point of Ares and the Michalsons are ready with this 16-track CD. The music is a jolt, an unsettling blast of a power trio with Black Sabbath riffs that is adventurous because most readers want the lush background sounds that have become synonymous with this genre. This music did reach the world first via the debut CD, and there’s a chance it could turn a younger audience on to the book, but it is going to take the artist a lot of arguing to convince movie companies to go with this driving sound rather than John Williams’ orchestration. They can cross that bridge when they come to it, because this is pioneering stuff, and the rock audience that will groove on “Battle’s One” can certainly seek out the anti-hero catalyst, the character Llewelyn. A strange mixture of Uriah Heep meets Mike Oldfield at some points, it’s a complex work worthy of acknowledgement.
Personnel includes: Helen Reddy (vocals); Ricky Baptist (trumpet); Lenny Coltun, Richie Zito (guitar); Tom Henley (keyboards); Dave Parlato (bass); Ron Tutt (drums); The Gordon Rose Orchestra.
Recorded live at the Palldium, London, England on May 11-13, 1978. Originally
released on Capitol (11873).
Smooth are the performances and orchestration on this 1978 double-vinyl set. There is no date of this performance by Helen Reddy, recorded at the London Palladium. This expands her greatest-hits album and allows the entertainer to display her personality as well as some of her deeper album tracks. Of the 26 songs here, only Leon Russell and Harriet Schock share the distinction of having two compositions each covered by the songstress. Russell’s “This Masquerade” and “Bluebird” follow Ralph Shuckett’s “Rhythm Rhapsody” to start the concert off. Reddy sprinkles a hit or two per side until the medley, adding nuggets like Gale Garnett’s timeless “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine,” which is a perfect selection for Reddy to sing and her audience to hear. Harriet Schock’s “Mama” from the Music, Music album is one of the longest tracks at four minutes-plus, and gets a lengthy audience response. Cilla Black’s 1964 hit “You’re My World,” like the aforementioned Gale Garnett hit from the same year, suits Reddy well. Live in London is a title used by scores of artists, from the Beach Boys to Petula Clark, Deep Purple, April Wine, Judy Garland, Glen Campbell, and so many others. This recording has lead guitarist Lenny Coltun conducting the Gordon Rose Orchestra with guitarist Ritchie Zito, keyboard player Tom Hensley, and others supplying the sound. Reddy gives renditions of Billy Joel’s “The Entertainer,” “Poor Little Fool” by Jeff Lynne, who shows up on the All This and World War II soundtrack with Reddy and who wrote this dramatic number for her, as well as Adam Miller’s “The West End Circus.” There’s Alan O’Day’s unconventional “Angie Baby” to open side two, and the song works better live, oozing with a thick and smooth sound. Producers John Palladino and Helen Reddy do a commendable job of capturing so many instruments and vocals and putting them into a wonderful mix. The album gets high marks for sound quality and performance, a classy snapshot of Helen Reddy’s complete repertoire of hits from 1971-1977 with the exception of “Somewhere in the Night” and the flip of “I Can’t Hear You No More,” “Music Is My Life.” For the fans of Helen Reddy this is a treat and a very necessary part of her collection. ~ Joe Viglione

Helen Reddy Imagination

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
Helen Reddy’s second album contains two originals, as well as covers of material by John Lennon, Carole King and Toni Stern, Randy Newman, Donovan Leitch, Leon Russell, and Alex Harvey. Over the years Reddy would continue to cover material by Carole King, Leon Russell, and Harvey; both she and Bette Midler covering Harvey’s “Delta Dawn,” with Reddy getting the chart hit. Here her rendition of his “Tulsa Turnaround” is intriguing and gives a good indication of the direction her music would take. These are very personal readings of Paul Parrish’s”Time” and Leon Russell’s “I Don’t Remember My Childhood”; the accompaniment is laid-back and subdued, unlike Reddy’s Love Song for Jeffrey album. Producer Larry Marks has a haunting foundation for David Blue’s “Come on John,” and one wonders if like Mama Cass on “I Call Your Name” or Janis Joplin’s “Happy Birthday John Lennon,” Reddy isn’t singing this to the Beatle? Her rendition of Lennon’s solo tune, “How?,” is a rarity for the singer — and as sparse as the Plastic Ono Band, minus what backed her on the soundtrack to All This and World War II when she performed “Fool on the Hill.” The album Helen Reddy has a cover photo of the vocalist wearing a red and blue dress in ankle-deep water, a resting point before her cluster of Top 40 recordings. Donovan’s “New Year’s Resolution” and Carole King/Toni Stern’s “No Sad Songs” give the singer a platform to help craft her sound. It’s a nice glimpse of the naïve side of Reddy and a pleasant listening experience, though it was the only one of her early albums not to find representation on her Greatest Hits. Because there was no big hit on the record, it is not as well known as her other recordings, but it definitely has charm and is an essential part of her collection of music.

Islands In The Stream  Song

Mondo Deco – The Quick

Velveteen After Hours

Lisa Burns

Everybody Needs It  Ellen McIllwaine

The Paupers  Ellis Island

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

Blow Your Face Out

Double-album live sets came into vogue in 1976 after Peter Frampton’s sales went through the roof for A&M, Bob Seger found fame with Live Bullet on Capitol, and the J. Geils Band released its second in-concert document in four years, Blow Your Face Out. There is great power in these grooves recorded over two nights, November 15 and November 19, at the now deconstructed Boston Garden and in Detroit at Cobo Hall. Here’s the beautiful dilemma with the Geils band: Live: Full House, recorded in Detroit in April of 1972, contains five songs that became J. Geils standards, and none of them overlap on the 1982 EMI single live disc, Showtime, chock-full of their latter-day classics. Can you believe there is absolutely no overlap from the first or third live album on this double disc, which came in between (except for “Looking for a Love,” uncredited, which they slip into the intro of “Houseparty” on side two)? The Rhino CD contains Jeff Tamarkin’s liner notes, while the original Atlantic album has an exquisite gatefold chock-full of photos, and inner sleeves with priceless band memo stuff à la Grand Funk’s Live Album. Sides one and two are great, and three and four are even better. “Detroit Breakdown” rocks and grooves, with tons of audience applause…Wolfy and the polished authority of his monologues are in command as the band oozes into “Chimes” from 1973’s Ladies Invited. About three and a half minutes longer than the five-minute original, it is one of many highlights on this revealing pair of discs. A precursor to 1977’s title track, “Monkey Island,” “Chimes” gives this enigmatic band a chance to jam out slowly and lovingly over its groove. There is so much to this album: the Janis Joplin standard “Raise Your Hand” written by Eddie Floyd, Albert Collins’ “Sno-Cone” from their first album, and “Truck Drivin’ Man” beating Bachman-Turner Overdrive to the punch. B.B. King producer Bill Szymczyk does a masterful job bringing it all together, and the band photos on back look…roguish. “Must of Got Lost,” “Where Did Our Love Go,” and “Give It to Me” are here in all their glory, a different glory than the studio versions, on an album that should have done for Geils what Live Bullet and Frampton Comes Alive did for their respective artists. If only a legitimate release of their 1999 tour would be issued to stand next to this monster — during that tour they combined the best elements of all three of their previous live discs. The J. Geils Band is more important and influential than the boys have been given credit for. It will be the live documents that ensure they eventually get their due, and Blow Your Face Out is a very worthy component that can still frazzle speakers.

BLACK PEARL from the Love is All We Have to Give album from Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd.

“Black Pearl” is one of the great Phil Spector  productions, a phenomenal song with his extraordinary sound. That being said, it would be easy to try to dismiss this excellent album and focus just on the hit. That’s the wonderful paradox of Love Is All We Have to Give by the Checkmates, Ltd. and Sonny Charles. Charles only re-scratched the Top 40 once (and that in 1983), but it is this album which showcases his major voice. The Leiber & Stoller composition “I Keep Forgettin'” has that sound from the 1966 Billy Stewart hit version of Gershwin’s “Summertime” without the scat singing. Spector’s remake of his own 1961 classic for Ben E. King, “Spanish Harlem,” fits perfectly here, while “Proud Mary,” the simple John Fogerty title, becomes a gospel tour de force falling somewhere between Tina Turner and the Edwin Hawkin Singers. The indomitable Perry Botkin, Jr., who would hit seven years later with “Nadia’s Theme” (aka “The Young & the Restless”), arranges and conducts side one with assistance from Dee Barton. Side two is another kettle of fish. Barton arranges Spector’s adaption of “The Hair Anthology Suite” from the play Hair, most notably the material made famous by the 5th Dimension (“Age of Aquarius”/”Let the Sunshine In”). Though both artists probably tracked it around the same time — the 5th Dimension hitting in March and “Black Pearl” hitting in May 1969 — there is none of the life here that Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., and their group put into their first number one hit. Like a classic Spector  45, this album has one side that is totally inspired and brilliant, and a flip that won’t get as many spins. All in all, it’s a very important, and largely forgotten, bridge in Spector’s catalog and his only hit in America on A&M, the same label he brought the Ronettes and Ike & Tina Turner’s classic “River Deep, Mountain High.”
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
“Black Pearl” is one of the great Phil Spector productions, a phenomenal song with his extraordinary sound. That being said, it would be easy to try to dismiss this excellent album and focus just on the hit. That’s the wonderful paradox of Love Is All We Have to Give by the Checkmates, Ltd. and Sonny Charles. Charles only re-scratched the Top 40 once (and that in 1983), but it is this album which showcases his major voice. The Leiber & Stoller composition “I Keep Forgettin'” has that sound from the 1966 Billy Stewart hit version of Gershwin’s “Summertime” without the scat singing. Spector’s remake of his own 1961 classic for Ben E. King, “Spanish Harlem,” fits perfectly here, while “Proud Mary,” the simple John Fogerty title, becomes a gospel tour de force falling somewhere between Tina Turner and the Edwin Hawkin Singers. The indomitable Perry Botkin, Jr., who would hit seven years later with “Nadia’s Theme” (aka “The Young & the Restless”), arranges and conducts side one with assistance from Dee Barton. Side two is another kettle of fish. Barton arranges Spector’s adaption of “The Hair Anthology Suite” from the play Hair, most notably the material made famous by the 5th Dimension (“Age of Aquarius”/”Let the Sunshine In”). Though both artists probably tracked it around the same time — the 5th Dimension hitting in March and “Black Pearl” hitting in May 1969 — there is none of the life here that Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., and their group put into their first number one hit. Like a classic Spector 45, this album has one side that is totally inspired and brilliant, and a flip that won’t get as many spins. All in all, it’s a very important, and largely forgotten, bridge in Spector’s catalog and his only hit in America on A&M, the same label he brought the Ronettes and Ike & Tina Turner’s classic “River Deep, Mountain High.”

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