Hotline To The Underground

April 27, 2020 Gold Dust, Brian Walker, Dick Wagner Hotline for Monday April 27, 2020 by Joe Viglione

Needham’s GOLD DUST still rocking…
Twenty tracks on the blue and gold Hard Love album from Gold Dust offer an audio display that sizzles as driving as 80’s Ozzy Osborne, Motley Crue, Ratt and other hitmakers from metal’s glory days. “Journey Through the Darkness” is a terrific opener with David Kiah’s lead vocals and bass working alongside drummer Jay Couper’s solid time-keeping and his twin brother Scott Couper offering blazing guitar. Scott has performed with Jon Butcher Axis and other Boston luminaries over the years. The band rocked the Paradise in the 1980s – Boston’s Best Concert Club with local press to back up what the crowds at their concerts knew.
The album was produced and engineered by Jay Couper who also wrote the lyrics on all twenty tracks. The title, Hard Love, comes in at three minutes and forty seconds. Like a train intentionally going well over the speed limit, the crisp production reflects the precision of the musicianship.
The original Gold Dust vinyl lp has gone for $700.00 in Europe and is now on CD with its black letting against white part of the band’s album uniformity. Hard Love is gold lettering against blue with previous albums having the same identical font white against black, red against black. “Carry On” features heavy keys alongside an even heavier guitar riff. Kind of like Lesley West and Mountain having a battle of the bands with the group Kansas.
Photos from the first Gold Dust lp.
Walker’s “Remember 17?” single is now out on Big Hello Records. You can find this bright pop love song on YouTube and Spotify – distributed by Warner Music Indonesia.
The great David Pomeranz wrote two Barry Manilow hits, “The Old Songs” and “Trying To Get The Feeling Again.” Wikipedia notes: “In 1999, Pomeranz recorded the CD Born For You – His Best And More, a compilation of past and new love songs that became the 13th best-selling album of all time in the Philippines. So if you wonder about an artist being signed to Warner in Indonesia as Brian Walker is, think of David Pomeranz and his phenomenal success in the Phillipines – and the plethora of Boston area bands famous in Paris, France starting with Willie Loco Alexander, the Real Kids and yours truly as we opened the doors for many a New England artist to get recognition in Europe.
“Remember 17?” is a catchy, mesmerizing three minutes and fifteen seconds that have a rhythmic undercurrent that catches you by surprise while the musical movements creatively come at you from different directions. We hope to interview Mr. Walker for an upcoming column.
15 selections from the artistry of Dick Wagner on a compilation entitled Full Meltdown come with the obligatory 4 page liner notes/insert that we who appreciate classic rock need. So to the xerox machine at Staples I went to enlarge the type and translate it all for you, dear reader.
Five minutes and 20 seconds of “Still Hungry” open the disc, a 1991 production created at Trax Studios in Los Angeles with Jack White on drums, Matt Bissonnette on bass and Fred Mandel on keyboards/B3. It slips into “Blue Collar Babies”, one of six songs recorded at Gil Markle’s Long View Farm in 1979 with a band called Meltdown, managed by the late Charlie McKenzie, he of the group Boston and Willie Loco Alexander fame.
The 90s and 70s material actually sounds very 80s, infringing on the territory that Eddie Money, 38 Special and Van Halen traveled, though Wagner has more grit than Money and 38 Special and his formidable songwriting skills make these titles a bit more appealing than some of the music that actually made it to radio.
“Insatiable Girl” from the 1991 Los Angeles sessions could be a sequel to the 1989 Grammy winner from Robert Palmer, “Simply Irresistable” while “I’d Take The Bullet” was recorded that same year, 1991, in Lawrence, Massachusetts with Brad Hallen from Ministry and Boston’s Pastiche on bass. This tune and “Another Twist Of The Knife” which follows would’ve been good for Alice Cooper back in the day…and though the music flips from Los Angeles to Lawrence to back to Los Angeles it is all very consistent. The delightful cover of “Stagger Lee” opens with a John Lennon-styled vocal straight out of Double Fantasy…I played this for Buzzy Linhart over the phone tonight (11/22/09) and Buzzy thought the arrangement was fantastic (it is)…Linhart calling this one of the greatest songs of all time and one he has his own arrangement for. (Prakash John, Steve Hunter and Penti Glan, all cohorts of Wagners, appear on a recent release of Linhart’s entitled Studio; Buzzy is the guy whistling from the audience on Lou Reed’s Rock & Roll Animal album…with a real…and loud… whistle, probably on the song “Heroin”)…”Stagger Lee” is close to four minutes and the song becomes a Bob Seger-like “Hollywood Nights” talk/song…the material from Long View Farm was lost to the ages until recently, Gil Markle telling GemmZine “Many of these tracks were recorded at Long View in 1979, and lay undiscovered in a mis-labeled packing container for almost 30 years. The members of Charlie McKenzie’s Boston-based band “Meltdown” played on some of them. The rest were recorded a few years later, mostly in L.A. I re-mastered the material for Dick a few months ago in Tobago.”
“Ecstasy” nicks a bit of the melody from Van Halen’s “I’ll Wait” (from their MCMLXXXIV CD a.k.a. 1984) but it veers off into a different territory, the riffing and guitars moving from pop/rock into progressive becoming something totally original in the process. You can listen to Van Halen here just for fun: Van Halen’s “I’ll Wait”
For Alice Cooper fans there’s Dick’s own version of the co-write that he created with Desmond Child and Cooper, “I Might As Well Be On Mars”. Released on Cooper’s 1991 disc, Hey Stoopid, it’s as close to Christopher Cross’s “Sailin’ as Alice will ever get…and Dick does a fine job on voice and all instruments as recorded in 1995 at Fenton Woods Studio in Fenton MI as well as Disc Ltd. in Eastpointe MI.
It’s great to have this music produced by Dick Wagner compiled so uniformly, the liner notes precisely telling where and when each track was laid down and who plays on it along with two letters from Dick to the reader/listener all packed in a good compilation for his long-time followers and those who appreciate superb musicianship and creative songwriting.

Hotline to the Underground Monday April 20, 2020 Peter Calo, K Britz, Jack Phillips, Eddy Davis

Video of the week goes to the legendary Peter Calo, former Somerville resident these days up on Croton-on-the-Hudson. It’s from his Time Machine album and features lyrics by wife Marianne Calo with video directed and edited by Gordon Bahary go to tiny url dot com / every ordinary day

Hotline to the Underground 4-20-2020

Video of the week goes to the legendary Peter Calo, former Somerville resident these days up on Croton-on-the-Hudson. It’s from his Time Machine albums and features lyrics by wife Marianne Calo with video directed and edited by Gordon Bahary go to tiny url dot com / every ordinary day

K Britz with Mystic Bowie have an uptempo positive mantra in their new release, “Kind.” The two minutes and thirty-four seconds have a sort of magical set of vibrations blending simple sounds into a swirling group of threads. It starts like a cool spring stream that flows downhill building as the instruments make their entry with an emphasis on the appealing vocals. Mystic Bowie complements K. Britz’s voice perfectly – Delaney and Bonnie-esque, Marianne Faithful meets Peter or Gordon.

We talked to K Britz about the creation and production of the music.

JV: Hello K – what’s the evolution of the songwriting phase of “Kind?”

KB: As you know I live with Rob Fraboni (producer Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards.) He got an email from an ad agency looking doing a call for submissions for the U.N./WHO Covid-19 campaign and suggested I write something. There were several topics that the work could reference- “Wash your hands” “Social Distancing..” and a couple other cheesy things that would not really work for me but there was one subject I saw- “Kindness Contagion” and I thought, I could probably do that. There was only about a day or two until the deadline so I worked on the song maybe an hour and then recorded it on my phone with my guitar. Around the same time Mystic (Bowie, of Tom Tom Club) had sent us a dub track without lyrics that we liked and Rob thought, maybe these songs could go together. We know Mystic works on songs at his house so we assumed he made the track himself. I sent Mystic the song and he loved it and sent it back with his harmonies on it. However, someone else had made the track that Mystic sent us so having a full on dub mix in quarantine wasn’t going to happen.

JV: The great Greg Shaw said back in the day, 1975, that he likes singles that zip in and zip out – both in length of song and time on the charts – this was in a review of Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” That song is actually four and a half minutes it just feels as if it moves quickly. “Kind” is two minutes shorter and gets the point across more efficiently, like The Box Tops “The Letter” – a one minute fifty three second nugget. Was that the intent or did it just come together organically?

KB: It’s funny you mentioned “The Letter” because it is number 1 on my list of songs I want to cover if I ever get a band like Mad Dogs and Englishmen and I can try it like Joe Cocker’s version. I knew I wanted to have the melody for “Kind” be contagious, and it was my intention that the chorus resolves into itself. That said, there’s a fine line between contagious and irritating and we decided to cut it shorter when we mixed it.

JV:How do you know Mystic Bowie?

KB: Last year Rob and I were going Vegas for the Electric Daisy Carnival with friends. I called an Uber and Mystic showed up as our driver. He has a charitable foundation for young people in Jamaica and he drives when he’s not in the studio to raise money for the foundation. We’ve spent a lot of time in Jamaica and we’re musicians so we knew all the same people. It was a fun ride to airport.

JV: What was the production process in this Twilight Zone of COVID-19 – rather than work together on the spot was it like suspended animation, waiting for tracks to come back over the internet to assess and add parts to? Or was it more “internet spontaneous?”

KB: Mystic actually came over when recorded my guitar and our vocals but we stayed at least six feet apart. That was kind of ridiculous. Rob was at the house and he made some final calls on what was working and what wasn’t and what takes we should use. Then we sent the track to the production team I work with in Texas, Mass Crush, and they mixed it and put on the other instruments. Rob mastered it and added his “RealFeel” technology. This all happened in less than 24 hours.

JV: Instant Karma! (John Lennon’s song in an instant!) By the way, The Letter is a nice segue after “Kind” for those thinking of spinning some tunes together. How many instruments are in the production and how many different files went back and forth?

KB: I played guitar and Mass Crush did keyboards, drums and the synth extras. We sent the files back and forth about 5 times during the mixing process as Rob and I had a few notes.

JV: Is this a special project or part of an upcoming album?

KB: I have an EP that I did with Mass Crush that we are holding for release until the time is appropriate. “Kind” just appeared for us organically, but it feels like the right song at the right time and will be a good lead into the release of the EP when it happens.

JV: What do you have planned for “Kind?”

KB: We’re releasing it as a single and I hope that people find it uplifting in a difficult time. If it doesn’t get picked up for the UN/WHO project I hope it can be of use somewhere, like, say a PSA ad dedicated to the first responders. I’m happy to give it away in as many ways possible if I can.

Listen to “Kind” here:

In last week’s April 13th column we discussed the passing of Eddy Davis and other notables. This week we’d like to follow up by asking Jack Phillips about his friend, Mr. Davis

JV: Jack, how did you meet Eddy Davis?

JP: I had seen Eddy before at Michael’s Pub when he was playing with Woody and I’d seen the documentary “Wild Man Blues” – so I knew of him but I met him after a gig at the Café Carlyle in 2006. He was a very affable man with a big smile and so when he was with Woody in Barcelona the following summer while Woody was filming “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” he invited me to come over. Eddy was performing regularly that summer with Conal Fowkes at the Hotel Casa Fuster and sometimes Woody would sit in with them. I would have liked to have gone over but I was busy. I eventually went to see the hotel a few years ago and saw the plaque on the wall to memorialize their summer there.

JV: What was it like working with Eddy as producer for your album?

JP: Well it was great. I started the project by writing some songs with Conal with the intent of creating a “jazz and blues” album – I had already recorded the blues tracks and flew out to Burbank to have Caleb Quaye add guitars. I had only about five tracks so I was thinking I’d add another five tracks of jazz originals to that collection. By that point I’d spent a few evenings at Eddy’s apartment listening to his music and at some point Eddy got wind of the writing I was doing with Conal. To his credit, it was Eddy who suggested that perhaps the idea of one album should be separated into two projects. With that, Eddy and I started writing as well until I had 10 jazz songs. I had definite ideas of the themes for the ten songs, and I even wrote sketch lyrics for all of them. While I wrote the lyrics for all of the music that I co-wrote with Conal, Eddy often re-wrote my lyrics to match the melodies that he came up with. The result was “Café Nights In New York” that was recorded at Nola with Jim Czak at the chair and Eddy producing. The blues material came out five years later as “Down In The Jungle Room” and the rest of that album was filled with live and unreleased original blues material recorded at The Duplex in Greenwich Village.
Eddy always had a big smile but he knew composition and he knew what he was doing. So he didn’t like to waste time and I did witness a time when he became visibly impatient. It was something I hoped to avoid in the future. We had four or five musicians playing live in the studio and if a song was being played too fast or something else wasn’t right, Eddy figured that it was just quicker to re-record it than to spend another five minutes discussing it. He was a consummate professional and even recently I left a message on his machine saying “Hey Eddy we need to get together to write some new material!” I really, really regret that we can’t do that.

JV: What was it like co–songwriting with Eddy?

JP: I wrote the first two chords for “Someone” in Eddy’s living room in about two seconds and as soon as I did, he added an answer (eg the next two chords) which together formed the beginning of a little motif – that song just came along really quickly. I added the lyrical word “someone” to the first two chords and from there, Eddy invented the much of the rest of the lyrics based on some ideas I had. That song came together very quickly. I didn’t help him write the melodies for the other songs he wrote – he took my lyrics and changed them to fit the music he came up with. This was a musical first for me, letting someone else write the music, but then again, I had never written the lyrics before to my music so it was just a big new adventure. I knew that I could make it all my own just in my vocal phrasing.

JV: Give us some thoughts on your working relationship and thoughts about Eddy himself.

JP: I just have the best memories of that whole recording session. It was all done so very quickly and it taught me a lesson. I had previously spent ages putting together albums using technology and although the sounds we were creating at the time were exciting, it was so very slow and changes took forever. Eddy taught me that when you work with real professionals and you put professionals in a room together you can get something great done very quickly. I’m proud to say that the next album I made “Down In The Jungle Room” was completely one take. The basic studio tracks were played live and of course the live recordings were all played live – there was no second take. By that point I had been performing live myself for a while and I had become more professional. I learned that from Eddy.

I had seen him working on the music for Woody’s film “Midnight in Paris” at the Nola studio in 2010 which I think was my first time there. Eddy produced music for that film and arranged the strings that played in the scenes at Maxim’s. So I had seen Errol Garner’s piano in the studio being played by Conal for scenes in the film…. It’s the same piano Conal played on “Café Nights IN New York” and that I played on “Down in the Jungle Room.” I wonder where that piano is today?

It goes without saying that Eddy and Woody have been friends since around the time I was born. Woody was doing standup in Chicago at some club and across the street Eddy was playing in a jazz band. One night Woody walked over between sets and Eddy invited Woody to sit in during their sets. That was the start of a great friendship that lasted until just recently. I met Eddy because he played with Woody, but Eddy became my friend and he will be missed. I am so very grateful for the songs that he and I created in 2012. I’ve performed them many times and quite unfortunately Eddy never saw them performed live. He came to see me play original pop music at The Metropolitan Room but he never came to one of my Café Nights gigs. That’s one of my big regrets. I had wanted to invite him to sit in with the band but our arrangements are all charted and very tight.

I feel very sorry for Woody. He’s not only lost a friend but he’s lost his right hand at all of his gigs at the Carlyle. Take a look at any photo of Eddy playing with Woody and you’ll see that he’s wearing his watch on his right hand – and he’s right handed. That’s so that Woody can look to his left and see what time it is. There might be a basketball game on. But aside from being a great time keeper, he was an extraordinary banjo player. He could make that banjo sound like an orchestra. I don’t think Woody will find anyone who can replace that Eddy Davis sound. Or that fantastic, bigger-than-life smile and love for what he was doing. I have no doubt that Woody will continue performing but it will be impossible to replace Eddy. If anyone wishes to see what I mean, check out the documentary “Wild Man Blues” recorded during a 1990s European tour.

Eddy’s personality shines in that documentary filmed around the time I had first seen him play at Michael’s Pub. If you watch, you might just enjoy what you hear and form a new love for New Orleans Jazz.


JV: )What was the Nate Butler drawing for and was it ever used, did it have anything to do with Keith Brown’s work for the Down in the Jungle room album… was it a prototype and then you went with Keith

JP: I asked Nate Butler to create a cartoon image of me in a tuxedo looking into the mirror and seeing a bluesy version of myself. This goes back to the days when I was thinking of creating one album of both jazz and blues. It was Eddy who suggested that I separate the projects and create one jazz album and one blues album – he suggested that by combining the two I’d leave the jazz lovers frustrated by the rest of the album and vice versa. So it was Eddy’s suggestion that led to a jazz-only album and hence Nate’s clever drawing wasn’t used. However, Nate did contribute some sketches that did make it into the “Down In the Jungle Room” album artwork, e.g., a drawing on the wall on the front cover and elements that went into the booklet.

I did not know the reference to the Monk’s album cover. Keith showed me several album cover ideas and it was one of them – when I said I liked it he certainly didn’t mention Monk. For me, the cover was a tribute to the Jungle Room Studios in Burbank where Caleb recorded his guitars and of course Elvis had a “jungle room” which I had seen at Graceland. The colors of the album cover are similar to the colors of Elvis’ room….

As for my facial expression, Keith had been using straight-forward photos of me for reference but they didn’t convey the energy of the album, so while I was in a hotel room in Hawaii one day, I went into the bathroom and using my iPhone, I shot a photo in the bathroom mirror of myself being expressive and sent it to him. He used that photo for the face and it worked! I really love both of those albums and their covers. What was intended to be one album became two thanks to input from Eddy.

JV: Thanks, Jack!


The Hotline, April 13, 2020 featured Jack Phillips

Before our interview and a review of music by Jack Phillips, first a word about the worldwide situation updending just about everything.

We lost a public access TV legend in Richie Sarno of Burlington on April 2nd. Richie had a long-time illness so I do not think it had anything to do with the current worldwide situation. Richie did amazing programs on Little Joe Cook and Shirley Lewis, two friends of mine who are also gone. In the past five months I’ve lost five friends in addition to Richie, and this is before COVID-19.

The music world is getting hit hard by this virus. Jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, Adam Schlesinger on April 1 at 52 years of age, John Prine, SNL and Lou Reed producer Hal Wilner and one of my guests on Visual Radio – the writer of “I Love Rock n Roll,” Alan Merrill at 69. To say we are numb by all this is an understatement. And now WBGO radio reports “Eddy Davis, a banjoist and bandleader who enjoyed a sprawling career in traditional jazz, most visibly through a decades-long association with Woody Allen, died on Tuesday at Mount Sinai West hospital in New York City. He was 79.”

Eddy co-wrote and produced “Café Nights In New York” for important New York artist Jack Phillips. All About Jazz magazine’s Dan Bilawsky noted in a July 2012 piece: “Phillips, who typically works in pop and rock situations, made it a point to go to the Carlyle to check out the late Bobby Short’s performances and, in more recent times, the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band, and these listening experiences proved to be transformative. Short’s work was the impetus behind Phillips’ decision to take the plunge into cabaret territory and Davis serves as his arranger, producer, guitar-and-banjo wielding accompanist, occasional songwriting partner and style guide.”

We will have more about Eddy Davis next week.

This week’s feature is on an amazingly creative talent.
A Quick Talk with Artist Keith Henry Brown

Keith Henry Brown created the cover of Jack Phillips album Down in the Jungle Room. We have some unique pictures of how the album cover evolved.

Keith, how did you meet Jack Phillips?

KB: I believe he saw my work online and contacted me through (the) website.

JV: Who settled on the idea of the tribute to the 1968 Underground album by Thelonious Monk? in_production.html

KB: It’s revered in the jazz community – a classic. I’ve certainly been aware of it since I was a teenager. I’m not sure Jack knew that it as my reference. But I showed him sketches and he liked it. I chose it because it ‘s one of my favorite jazz LP covers and it seemed like an appropriate composition. Jack’s music of course is very different from Thelonious Monk’s.

JV: Are there multiple ideas that weren’t used after the initial black and white sketch?

KB: Yes, we went through many versions. Mostly about getting a good likeness of Jack.

JV: You have designed and illustrated several jazz CD covers for Christian McBride, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Duke Ellington, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and many others … do you like to create the idea with no input or is there usually a committee involved?

KB: The process is a little different every time, but usually I discuss the project with artist, throw out ideas, produce sketches and we work it out from there until everyone’s happy.

JV: How long were you at Marvel Comics and what titles did you work on?

KB: A couple of years. Various characters

We thank you for your time, Keith. .


December 24, 2010, yes nine years and four months ago, Jack Phillips released his first album in ten years! The title track “To Whom It May Concern”, is reminiscent of the 1989 duet by Cher and Peter Cetera, the classy “After All”, from the film Chances Are. Phillips earlier Revival Time release in 2000 was under the name John R. Phillips, and the new moniker comes along with his new approach.

With material more uplifting the new music like “Winter Keeps Us Warm” is driving pop, something that – believe it or not – the Doobie Brothers and Kenny Rogers could cover… in fact, Kenny should cover it, backed up by The Doobies. Everything here is over three minutes and under five, and the authoritative handle exhibited on the opening track, “I Can’t See”, shows much promise – promise the artist fulfills on this intriguing new collection of material.

A decade in between releases is quite some time to ponder and meditate upon your next move, lyricist James Russell giving his perspective on songs like “I’m Movin’ Out”, the quasi-disco “The Trip Will Make You Well” (as if Giorgio Moroder decided to leave the soundtrack world for albums again) and “Motherlode”. The album has different facets, “The Next Thing We Knew” sounding like vintage Ronnie Milsap while “Bright One” bridges pop and country in a refreshing way. Perfect for Top 40 radio of both genres

Some of Jack Phillips’ amazing catalog:

First Hand (1982)
> *** In The Front Yard (1985) ***
Portrait (1986)
Revival Time (1999)
To Whom It May Concern (2010)
Alowishus Para Tomas (2011)
One Night Only – Live in New York (2012)
Café Nights In New York (2012)
Down In The Jungle Room (2017)

First Hand (1982)
Portrait (1986)
Revival Time (1999)
To Whom It May Concern (2010)
Alowishus Para Tomas (2011)
One Night Only – Live in New York (2012)
Café Nights In New York (2012)
Down In The Jungle Room (2017)

Jack Phillips and his band have performed in New York at The Bitter End, The National Underground and The Knitting Factory to name a few. Currently Jack and his jazz band (Conal Fowkes on piano, Debbie Kennedy on bass and Klaus Suonsaari on drums) perform frequently in New York at Don’t Tell Mama, The Duplex, and will be returning to The Triad soon

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

Revival Time is a disturbing but terrific production and presentation by John R. Phillips, not to be confused with the late John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas. One really doesn’t want to venture where lyricist Blake Silverstrom is going with nine of the ten poems he has constructed, and Phillips‘ eloquent readings also make the listener wonder what the motivating force is here. The singer’s voice is close to Meatloaf in texture, and “Conversations in Styrofoam” could be right out of a censored version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show; it is dark, it is frightening, it is not something you’ll want to play often. “Art Kills takes this concept, not a step further, but sideways, where it sounds like the protagonist is extinguishing the life from his lover. The entire album isn’t this devastating but, though the artist and his collaborators could have moved into a Christopher Cross direction (the singer’s voice is able to go from Mr. Loaf to Mr. Cross), a ditty like “I’m on the Cover of Newsweek, Mom” isn’t about the celebration of success, but more like the despair of a parent whose child happens to be John Hinckley, Jr. or Timothy McVeigh. The dark joke here is that these tunes could be uplifting and wonderful, but the artists paint a different sort of picture. “Church of Nowhere” states that the earth will “reclaim the church and God will have nowhere to go.” The instrumental, “Eternity,” displays Phillips‘ musicianship without the twisted words, but even here it is dark and eerie. Revival Time would be an appropriate soundtrack to a horror movie like Session 9 but, for those picking it up thinking it will be a fun-filled revival, well, there’s no “California Dreaming” in these grooves. Track ten, the reprise of “She Could Use Who She Wanted,” puts the downer lyrics to a painful solo piano performance. The band plays the negative sentiment as if it is a bright and snappy pop tune on track seven. The reworking sounds like the artist has listened to too much John Cale and, had Cale produced this, both he and Phillips would be damned for all eternity. It’s well-crafted, but harrowing stuff. Tim Burton should play this a few times before making his new film; however, it is not for fans of Petula Clark or Cass Elliot.

April 6, 2020 Hotline to the Underground – Gillen and Turk, Rev John Tamilio III, the Complaints

Hotline to the Underground April 6, 2020
By Joe Viglione
In this brave new world of COVID-19 musicians are reaching out to audiences on Facebook Live. Do not know if the Reverend John Tamilio is preaching to his congregation on the internet, but he held two concerts on Friday nights at 8 pm playing to many, many fans both original music as well as covers including a song by his former brother-in-law, Gary Shane. The song – “Shadow World,” a huge hit on WBCN back in the 1980s. “Everything But Peace,” Tamilio’s current single almost seems prophetic as we hunker down and start living in the Matrix.
Dean Petrella of The Complaints out of Rhode Island also had an online concert that was highly entertaining. The lead guitarist/vocalist did his show without his compadres Chris Cruz on bass and vocals, Anthony Marotti on drums/vocals. Hopefully the band will be out and rocking soon.
Talk To Me – CD – The Complaints
After the Complaints released the driving CD singles, “Trade Up,” and the Chris Lord-Alge produced “South Side Suicide,” they bring the angst down a few notches for this release, Talk to Me, an exquisitely packaged and beautifully crafted collection of eight compositions along with a reworking of the first track, “The View.” And it is a perfect way to open and close the disc, both renditions subtle and commanding, it’s the kind of melody and lyric that Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, and the Eagles would certainly wish they came up with. Dean Petrella – vocalist, guitarist, keyboard player, wrote the majority of the words (except “Mountains” which the liners note was written and performed by The Complaints and Adam Go.) “The View” opens and closes the disc though it metamorphoses into two different perspectives a la George Harrison’s “Isn’t it a Pity” on All Things Must Pass, a light poppy venture to begin the journey, a darker quasi-dance mix to bring this very strong album to its conclusion. Play both “View” renditions back to back and it is most revealing.
Co-produced by the band and legendary engineer Phil Greene (Buddy Guy, John Cafferty/Beaver Brown, New Kids on the Block – as well as guitarist with the vastly underrated Swallow on Warner Brothers) the album is balanced and compelling. “Hanging Out” is one of four songs (of the 9 tracks) that hit the 3:52 mark, time-wise, most of the material clocking in around 2:40 – 3:20, short and sweet and making the point. It’s an easy going dissertation, at least by pop standards, with the next track, “Atlas (Carry You)” a minute shorter. Both tracks – “Hanging Out” and “Atlas” Triple-A rock with authority. And has it been 17-18 years since the Complaints released the Fear disc, with Criminal Mind in 2002? This veteran group just grows stronger through the years like fine wine and this recording has real staying power throughout.
“Wouldn’t Change A Thing,” track five, has all the markings of a radio-friendly composition with the potential to be memorable. “Talk To Me,” which precedes it, also has that captivating mood. Phil Greene and the Complaints smartly combine their talents to create something very special. Each tune has its own identity, and the sequencing is perfect as the listener is taken on a journey. From “Breathe,” not the Pink Floyd song, to “Home,” drop the needle/sequence button anywhere and there’s something entertaining and thought-provoking within.
Chris Cruz on bass and vocals, Anthony Marotti on drums/vocals and Dean Petrella are The Complaints. Add “Trade Up” and “Southside Suicide” to this disc as bonus tracks and you have an amazing set of recordings.
THE LEGENDARY John Batdorf of Batdorf and Rodney fame is also performing live on Facebook, two concerts already – as with Reverend John Tamilio. You can tune in at 3 pm this upcoming Saturday April 11, 2020 for the third John Batdorf concert – hear his stories and listen to his songs. Hear a previous concert here: or starting off with “All I Need” and tune in on John’s page:
In the tradition of Batdorf & Rodney, England Dan & John Ford Coley and Seals & Crofts these two fine songwriter/singers, Matt Turk and Fred Gillen Jr. bring their blend of Americana, folk rock and solid instrumentation to this CD episode they call Backs To The Wall. “Fall Down” has the jangling R.E.M. style that makes it highly commercial, a total contrast to the almost off-key “Takes Me Away”, almost five minutes of Velvet Underground-third album melancholy. “It Really Matters” is culled from The Grateful Dead catalog and makes the duo a perfect fit to perform in the Boston area with one of Ken Selcer’s many bands.
“Black Hills” and “Come Away With Me” have mesmerizing sounds and riveting themes…”Black Hills” right out of the C.S.N.Y. repertoire when they were stomping with “Almost Cut My Hair” and “Ohio”. Real protest music. The musicianship is strong, just as you’d expect from journeyman Turk. The addition of Fred (Gillen Jr) gives Matt an opportunity to stretch out from his own solo pop to a harder-edged sometimes anst-filled style (“Come Away With Me” comes to mind in that regard). “These Nameless Streets” would be fine for a Jack Kerouac flick…or if some filmmaker wants to take the Route 66 TV series from the 1960s to the big screen.
“Three” is innovative and has mandolin-like sounds with charging guitar…political issues…think George Harrison’s “Within Without You” going for a wider audience. “Killing Machine” also has the R.E.M. jangle combined with protest lyrics while “This Town Is Our Song” feels like a low-key response to Simon & Garfunkel’s “My Little Town”, though not as maudlin yet still very melancholy (did I use that word already). A strong effort from some spirited musicians worth your listening time.

April 6, 2020 Fred Gillen Jr, Matt Turk, Dean Petrella, John Batdorf, Rev John Tamilio III

Medford News Weekly

Hotline to the Underground March 30, 2020 : An Interview with Harriet Schock By Joe Viglione

We have resurrected Hotline to the Underground, our column in Musician’s Magazine in the 1970s for publication on Somerville News, Boston News Group and Medford News

March 23, 2020 in Medford News Weekly

March 23, 2020 Hotline to the Underground

March 16, 2020 Hotline to the Underground

Hotline to the Underground 3-16-2020 NIGHTCLUB TEMPORARY SHUTDOWNS
March 16, 2020 thesomervillenewsweekly Leave a comment

Matt at Sally O’Brien’s told us on March 16th that all the music at the club (335 Somerville Ave.) is off until April 7th. So we did a little more investigating calling up the Cantab.
Club Bohemia at the Cantab Lounge has no music this weekend and beyond as the entire bar is shutting down per orders of Governor Charlie Baker to April 6th. Baker originally called for April 17th but according to the ban has been reduced: “All Massachusetts bars and restaurants will be shuttered for dine-in business from March 17 through April 6. (This is an update; the end date was originally reported to be April 17.) The measure, aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, allows for takeout and delivery, and pharmacies and grocery stores can remain in operation.”
Well, the film companies are sending we critics “screeners” to review at home. So there will be some film reviews in the coming weeks. And, of course, we get e mails with new music every day, so here are some songs you may want to check out:
To give people some hope in these trying times the Reverend John Tamilio – who is also in legendary Boston rock and roll band 3D – sent out a cover of Michael W. Smith’s “Pray for Me.” It is an inspiring rendition with just six string acoustic and Tamilio’s smooth voice published on YouTube: Tiny URL dot com / Tamilio pray for me
Also in our mailbox today, Adventure Set has a new song “Melatonin Blues.” A description of the drug “Melatonin has been used for short-term treatment of trouble sleeping due to sleep cycle disorders and time changes.”
Released on March 14th the song is written by Mark Pothier who also plays keyboards, programming and does the backing vocals with legendary Ken Scales as lead vocalist. It’s a dreamy three minutes and fifty one seconds that entertain and entrap the listener. Superb work from these veteran, creative tunesmiths. Hear it here:
California’s amazing group Feed the Kitty has a new CD in release, Ain’t Dead Yet – which we mentioned in our January 21, 2020 column FTKaintdeadyet is the Tiny URL for our print readers Keep in mind the 1952 cartoon Feed The Kitty in 1994 was voted #36 of the Top 50 cartoons of all time!
Ain’t Dead Yet starts off with the snappy and uptempo “Home,” followed by “Thank You,” not the cover of the Led Zeppelin II classic but an original – solid pop/country more towards contemporary pop which slides nicely into “Darlin,” which is an original (as in, not the Beach Boys hit that Brian Wilson wrote for the early Three Dog Night.) “Darlin” exquisitely twangs bringing current country where it belongs in the world of pop much better than the mainstream C & W artists who color by the numbers. Jed Mottley on bass, John Shumway on drums and guitarist/vocalist Jack Maher sound like a six piece band, but it’s the three of them rocking out with fun and wild abandon. Track 4 from the Ain’t Dead Yet CD, “My Last Name,” is playing repeatedly in the computer since January when we first wrote about the tune. It’s a great rock/pop song with country overtones, interesting stops and turns, “Can you take me away from California, ‘cause I got L.A. on my brain. Why does she keep asking me my last name?” “Sad Country Songs” and “Shoulda Coulda Woulda” are like hearing the old-style country before it evolved, Feed the Kitty certainly being humbly loyal to their roots. No song goes over four minutes, “Shoulda Coulda Woulda” pushing the envelope at 3:49! “My Hotel” is one of my favorites among many on this delightful musical excursion. “Pajama Party,” “Next Month’s Rent,” “Rule the World” and the magical lyrics on “Learned to Fly” show the hard work and innovation that went into this excellent set of recordings.

This biographical CD is a companion to Genya Ravan’s book, Lollipop Lounge, and it is a departure from her previous solo discs – Undercover(2011), For Fans Only(2002), And I Mean It(1979), Urban Desire (1978), Goldie Zelkowitz (1974), They Love Me, They Love Me Not (1973), and her CBS debut, Genya Ravan with Baby (1972), Ravan’s work after leaving Ten Wheel Drive.
In commanding form the singer/songwriter goes through her career in music and words, her relentless band at the top of their game as Ravan covers Lou Reed’s classic “Coney Island Baby” giving his semi-autobiographical underground pop masterpiece not only a female perspective but a Genya Ravan perspective and, of course, gives nods to the Yardbirds and her days in the original all-female rock band, Goldie & The Gingerbreads. This was the time before Fanny and The Runaways …
Goldie/Genya paved the way with her brash and sometimes audacious style…interesting that she’s referenced in the original Clive Davis book – 1975’s CLIVE: Inside The Record Business (Clive Davis, with James Willwerth), but conspicuous in her absence in the 2013 Clive Davis: The Soundtrack to My Life, which the LA Times says “is more about music stars than music business.”
When Billboard Books originally released Lollipop Lounge they also shipped the two 20th Century Fox LPs in their CD form thanks to UMG’s Hip-0 Select. That stroke of genius was constructed by yours truly and I will take the credit, as I will in this full disclosure for flying Genya to Warren Rhode Island in 1986 to sing with Buddy Guy and the late Jimmy Miller on the Buddy Guy sessions (and treat of all treats, with Buddy and Jimmy in some Rhode Island nightclub that evening. Wish we had it on videotape…what a stunning performance!). That’s where “Do You Know What I Mean” came from, the re-make of the Lee Michaels tune we had planned for Buddy’s album (the one before his Grammy-winning Damn Right I Got the Blues). You can see the review of Genya’s solo rendition of “Do You Know What I Mean” here on TMR Zoo, the initial single from this new disc released prior to the full album.
Typically Genya embraces a song and gives it her own thumbprint, as do all the greats, from Etta James to Billie Holiday, but Cheesecake Girl differs in that Ravan takes on the role of storyteller – not reading the book over instrumentals but constructing new melodies and new words that are a companion to her autobiography, a re-telling more than reciting.
The band doesn’t skip a beat, in fact, they stretch out more than they might be able to in the confines of a pop song. Ravan has always been, at her core, a pop artist…from her first hit, “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” (the British release reportedly came before Herman’s Hermits conquered America with it; both artists working out of the same artist, Genya with Jimi Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffrey, while producer Mickey Most worked with Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits.)
So for the loyal Genya Ravan crowd, don’t expect the mind-blowing primal screams on the Vanilla Fudge classic “Take Me For A Little While” from For Fans Only, or the FM classic “Junkman” where Ravan duets with Ian Hunter…this is not that kind of record. It is yet another pioneering deviation, descending into the world of deviates, junkies, artists and creatures stranger than those found in the “wretched hive of scum and villainy” that is the Chalmun’s Cantina at the Mos Eisley Spaceport in the original Star Wars. That pirate city had nothing on the places that Genya Ravan has travelled…surviving those travels and living to tell about it here in Cheesecake Girl. Enter at your own peril.
Clive Davis may have forgotten this fantastic talent in his new book, but through our writings on TMR Zoo and the many reviews on Rovi/ we hope to keep the magic Genya Ravan makes alive and in the public eye.
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March 9-10, 2020 Hotline To The Underground

By Joe Viglione

The Hotline started running in Musician’s Magazine in the 1970s, moved over to The Beat and Preview in the 1980s and is back in 2020. Film interviews with Jodie Foster, Robert Zemeckis, Ray Manzarek of The Doors (yes, a notable in the film world,) Michael Moore as well as people from everyday life. We thank the staff with Michael Bloomberg for granting us permission to video Michael Douglas, former police commissioner Ed Davis and Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn earlier this month.


Jimmy Jewels – one of the best record producers in the city of Medford is in the new film Gone Home from writer/directors Brandon Rose and Zach Eastman. From the press release: JACK NALLY and his new wife KATE are driving to Jack’s family home so that Kate can meet his family for the first time. As they are en route, JOSEPH and MARIE NALLY discover a chest buried in their backyard, which changes them upon opening it. When Jack arrives, he starts noticing that his parents have become overly kind and sweet. Thrown off by this sudden change in life-style, Jack slowly starts to piece together why exactly his parents have changed and what is truly behind it. Starring: Zachary Speigel, Taylor Karin, Kathryn Graham Howell, Michael Vasicek, Spencer Kane Mackey and Jimmy C. Jules Google “Gone Home Trailer” and check it out.

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Burden, released on March 6th from Director/Writer Andrew Heckler stars Forest Whitaker and Garrett Hedlund. It will shock you to see a true story from 1996 centered around a Ku Klux Klan museum in Laurens, South Carolina and the preacher who took on the modern day Klan. We spoke with producer Robbie Brenner on March 9th (and will have the interview for you next week) and learned that Heckler started working on this project in 2000, four years after the events that Burden is based upon. Rated R, and coming close to two hours in the theater, the film brings together a difficult-to-recapture mix of violent race relations, a love story and the struggle of moving on from one lifestyle to another. Reverend Kennedy takes as much of a gamble as Klansman Mike Burden, incredible risk setting in motion a series of events that are as thought-provoking as they are compelling. Hedlund captures the individual, Mike Burden, that you meet tucked inside the closing credits – a formerly explosive beast tamed by those helping his evolving personality – his girlfriend, her son and the preacher man. That Heckler, Brenner and all involved let the film sauté over a twenty-year span of time is to their credit. With commendable acting, directing and camera-work that takes the movie home, there are stories within stories given a birds-eye view that will generate conversations. I still can’t grasp that this kind of hate – and compassion – brewed at this level within the past three decades. Like I said…a conversation piece, and worth playing in every high school and college for social studies or whichever discipline can gain an advantage from this remarkably filmed piece of American history.

FILM NOTICE: Science Fiction from Director Warren Pantyhose

Warren Pantyhose calls himself a “Eurotrash Exploitation Director” with a Canon camera crafting unique Science Fiction A thirty minute feature is cut up into six segments Warren airs on YouTube – he gave the Hotline some additional insight: “ I’m actually working on a second film that’s a continuation of the first. It’s going to be done with altered discount figurines and home made backgrounds in a stop motion style of animation. I plan on splitting the film up into segments once it’s aired on local access TV .following suit with the most recent film.” We’ll have an interview with the local director in the coming months.


Club Bohemia at 738 Mass. Ave in Cambridge has on Friday the 13th Big Blue Moon, Art House, Stuck Stars and Submariners, doors at 8 pm, of course. On Saturday March 14th Drobakid, Clifford and the Midnight Motion – all times and acts subject to change. It’s the cellar full of noise downstairs at the Cantab Lounge, one of America’s Greatest Dive Bars …now in its 80th year. Full disclosure — I performed there in 1974 and I’m still alive to tell the tale!

SALLY O’BRIEN’S SOMERVILLE 335 Somerville Ave, Mar 13 • Charles Delta + The Soon to Haves at 9 pm, Coo and Howl on Saturday March 14 at 9:30 pm.

Thunder Road is 379 Somerville Ave, just a skip and a jump from Sally O’s. They’ve got a Tribute to the Music of Phish on Friday the 13th, now that sounds like lots of fun – see And a shout out to Charlie Able, proprietor who did an amazing job with the old Jaspers. Charlie ran Harper’s Ferry where we videotaped Janis Joplin’s original band Big Brother and the Holding Company circa 1995…a quarter of a century ago. Great to see Mr. Able back on the music scene.

March 2, 2020 Hotline to the Underground

Happy birthday to singers Lou Reed (March 2nd) and Buzzy Linhart (March 3rd.) We lost Reed on October 27, 2013 and Mr. Linhart on February 13, 2020, just a couple of weeks ago. Interesting to note that if you listen to Reed’s classic Rock n Roll Animal album during the song “Heroin,” the whistle someone blows during the soft part of the song is Mr. Linhart himself. Buzzy went on to hire members of the Rock n Roll Animal bands for an album that he was recording. Reed’s biggest pop hit on the charts was “Walk on the Wild Side” while Linhart co-authored Bette Midler’s signature tune, “Friends,” his best-known song. They were both as their songs stated – “wild” and “friends” to their flock. Midler wrote on her Twitter account:

Bette Midler
Feb 18: The great Buzzy Linhart, who wrote so many wonderful songs, among them, (You Got to Have) Friends, which I’ve sung for nearly 50 years, had died. What an amazing performer he was, and what extraordinary gifts his songs were. Thank you. Rest In Peace, old friend.
Downstairs at the Cantab it’s Club Bohemia – Thursday March 5 Clean Plate Club featuring Marjorie, Wiley and Zach 8 pm, on Friday March 6, Love Stranger, Stone and Star, Hands and Knees, doors at 9 pm. Saturday, March 7 World Wise, Background Ors, Jack Straw. …At Sally O’Brien’s 335 Somerville Ave in Somerville on Thursday it’s Dave Rizzutti with the BYO Bluegrass.
The Invisible Man – 2020
a film review from Joe Viglione
The best “new” villain since Hannibal Lecter is actually – well you know what it is – a remake of the 1992 travesty Memoirs of an Invisible Man starring Chevy Chase in his “state of molecular flux,” or a remake of the 1933 Claude Rains The Invisible Man. In 1940 there was Vincent Price in the Invisible Man Returns …and on and on it goes…the Invisible Woman…you get the picture. Well this 2020 drama/horror flick is nothing like the original and far removed from Chevy Chase. To me this is Audrey Hepburn’s Wait Until Dark with the lights on.
Where Hepburn was a blind woman chasing an “invisible man” around her apartment in New York City, vicious Alan Arkin in search of drugs, Elisabeth Moss in the 2020 Invisible Man is a woman with sight who also cannot see the man who is terrorizing her.
Far removed from H.G. Wells 1897 book that it is based upon, though the technology described in that book from 123 years ago is still the thread that connects, one headline (I have not read any other reviews yet) calls it an Invisible Man for the #metoo movement. Interesting that it appears on the same week as Harvey Weinstein’s conviction, and maybe that was planned?
In a truly terrifying opening – which some might feel is labored – Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) is trying to flee breathtakingly handsome British model Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who is Adrian Griffin, the brilliant scientist who creates the light-bending technology to turn himself or others invisible. Stop right there…you know that’s a cue for many possible sequels, just as the Claude Rains 1933 film spawned. Or so Universal/Comcast hopes.
Note to Cecilia Kass, when you live in a home that is on the water with stunning visuals from your bedroom and living room, and something drop dead gorgeous is in your bed every night, stop with the whining and be a loving wife. Sheesh, the guy is a multi-millionaire genius and Kass sets into motion a series of events endangering all the people in her life. Selfish is what I call it!
Aldis Hodge plays James Lanier – a childhood friend of the alleged “victim” according to Wikipedia. That’s odd, it feels like he’s the love interest of Cecilia’s sister, Emily Kass (played by Harriet Dyer.) Hodge couldn’t attempt to be Will Smith more if he tried. The mannerisms, the voice, it’s like a tribute band mimicking Mick Jagger and feels like a Will Smith stand-in emulating a well-known actor. Hodge was previously in Hidden Figures, the NASA film about African American female mathematicians while Jackson-Cohen, the Invisible Man, performed in The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe) from 2012 and a Dracula television series 2013-2014 as Jonathan Harker. That’s some horror film street cred for these not yet ultra famous actors, and the fact that the film uses those “bubbling under” is to its credit (sure, Emmy awards and Mad Men do account for something, but these are not Tom Cruise, Anthony Hopkins, Eddie Murphy household names at this point in time.) It’s that these players are relatively unknown that also makes for a tense drama with some very scary moments a la the aforementioned Wait Until Dark.
Universal/Comcast is now digging more methodically in to the classic 1930’s horror films vaults. The 2017 Mummy with Tom Cruise lost close to a hundred million or so according to Wikipedia, and the retelling of these popular films from ninety years ago are from a different dimension when compared to Claude Rains, Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff’s reign of terror.
This film also mirrors Craig Berko’s murderous role in 1999’s The Thirteenth Floor where actress Gretchen Mol was caught “in the Matrix.” The Matrix emerging in March of 1999, the very similar Thirteenth Floor in April (Denmark) and May (USA) of 1999. Based on a 1973 German TV film, World on a Wire, again according to Wikipedia. Be it Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark, Gretchen Mol in 13th floor or Elisabeth Moss in this new feature, it is the age-old damsels in distress theme dipped in science fiction.
That being said, all of the above were quite entertaining. The twist here is the psychological drama that keeps one guessing. Yes, there were a couple of holes in the plot, but overall it’s a quite satisfying film experience. What Invisible Man does deliver is one of the most powerful dark dramas in a long, long while.
While the Buzzcocks were on tour in 1979 and 1980, Joan McNulty, the publisher of their official fan magazine Harmony in My Head (and then-girlfriend of singer Pete Shelley), taped all their shows on cassette the way Judy Garland’s husband Mickey recorded her final shows. Decades after these recordings were made, their value is obvious. After lengthy legal haggling between 1982 and the date of release, 1988, Neil Cooper of Reach Out International records was able to issue this very worthwhile series of 19 songs culled from various live performances on the tour. Who better to compile the music than the woman who gave attention to the group before anyone else in the U.S.A.? The cassette tapes were brought up to Blue Jay Studios in Carlisle, MA, the place where the Joe Perry Project, Aimee Mann, Phil Collins, and others worked, and the material was transferred from the master cassettes into organized form. There are tons of Buzzcocks favorites here, energetic versions of “What Do I Get,” “Fast Cars,” “Airwaves Dream,” “Fiction Romance,” “Something’s Gone Wrong Again,” all preserved for the ages, presented with love and care by someone who knew their music as well as the band itself. Boston; Chicago; Minnesota;, New Jersey; Providence, RI; New York; and Birmingham, U.K. are all represented with songs from their respective concerts. As the Doors release all the live tapes from their archives, and artists from Frank Zappa to the Velvet Underground and Jimi Hendrix have their concert tapes being issued to acclaim and sales, Joan McNulty’s efforts can be viewed as pioneering. Decades after it was conceived and released, Lest We Forget is as pure a document as you’ll find on the tour of a vital power pop band. The recording quality is not state of the art, but that adds to the charm.

February 25, 2020 Hotline to the Underground by Joe Viglione
*Michael Douglas photo in Medford, 2-23-2020 by Visual Radio Director Paul Norman

the clubs, the music, the independent films, all the action in the area!
February 25, 2020 thesomervillenewsweekly By Joe Viglione
*Michael Douglas photo in Medford, 2-23-2020 by Visual Radio Director Paul Norman
February 24, 2020
Well, we certainly had fun at the Michael Bloomberg campaign event in Medford on 2-23-2020 with the best actor winner at the Oscars for 1988’s Wall Street. Mr. Douglas had previously won as a co-producer in 1976 for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was Best Picture of 1976, Douglas producing it with Saul Zaentz of Fantasy Records and Creedence Clearwater Revival fame.
Yes, Michael Douglas – Oscar winner – landed on planet Medford at the Town Line Plaza. Clint Eastwood is also on the Bloomberg bandwagon abandoning the current resident of the White House but I can’t say much more since our publisher is a friend of the Donald. Never discuss politics and religion they sayeth, but not here at the Hotline where our favorite quote is the late Margo Kidder as newspaper reporter Lois Lane and her motto “Let’s see what trouble I can get into today!”
Former Private Lighting bassist Steve Kith is not content to have his bandmate/lead vocalist from that epic band having a new CD in release. “Help Somoene” is a new song by his current group, Without Focus. That’s @eipi who wrote, sings and plays acoustic guitar, @smokytubes on electric guitars, @rabbitwithmachinegun on keys and Steve Keith on bass and drums, handling production chores on this one as well. It’s a wonderful modern pop song with elements of Sutherland Brothers and Quiver, Procol Harum Grade A Stuff!
FILM: January 17, 2020 was the release date of Robert Downey Jr’s Dolittle, a remake of Dr. Dolittle. Now as far as children’s movies go, Dr. Dolittle should have been a slam-dunk for a Wizard of Oz-styled classic. The 1967 version with Rex Harrison had that potential – seventeen million dollar budget back in the day brought in only nine million in revenue. Eddie Murphy’s 1998 version was a blockbuster bringing in 294.4 million, according to Wikipedia, against a 70.5 million dollar budget – and leading to four sequels. As a critic, I thoroughly enjoyed Downey Jr.’s re-telling, but the public, not so much. At a cost of 175 mill bringing in only 204.2 million, well, according to Wikipedia “Due to its high production and marketing costs, the film will need to gross around $500 million in order to break even.” Yikes. The critics were harsh against it and some of the negative criticism I can agree with, maybe some edits could have enhanced it, but that ship has sailed. I guess we are all looking for a new Wizard of Oz experience and the story here has the potential to do just that. Downey over-acts, but given his huge presence from the Iron Man and Avengers Flicks, one would think this would have been a winner. Alas, three of the biggest names in showbiz, Harrison, Murphy and Downey Jr. all took their chances with it and Eddie Murphy gets the prize for at least making his a box-office success.
As James Bond is about to re-emerge for Daniel Craig’s last go at the legendary character, let’s go back to 2008 and my review of his Quantum of Solace and get you in the secret agent man mood:
1989’s “License To Kill” and 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” contained elements the super spy film producers are seeking out again with their reinvention James Bond that is Daniel Craig. As the Batman franchise has successfully brought one iconic superhero into an uncharted level of commercial acceptance, Craig’s Bond in Quantum of Solace and the previous entry, Casino Royale, lacks the heart that The Dark Knight shimmers with. Though the expanded role for Judi Dench is very good, French actor Mathieu Amalric is hardly a threatening villain. Heath Ledger he’s not, and add that to the gratuitous everything – guns, car chases, explosions, Mickey Spillane-styled violence (Dench overseeing torture like a female Dick Cheney at Abu Ghraib) well, those are the things bring in the youth market while the more tactful…more artful approach is abandoned somewhat.
Not to say that this new epic doesn’t have its moments – Bond slipping away from his higher ups in the hotel seems very Thomas Crowne Affair while Dench has as much fun as Vanessa Redgrave had with her role in Mission Impossible. But this film could have used a bit of the first Mission Impossible’s subtlety, some of Roger Moore’s humor, and a dash of George Lazenby’s aloof inquisitiveness. Craig is developing a Mike Hammer persona, more so than the Jason Charles Bourne comparison being tossed about. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say this is an ultra modern Mike Hammer feature film under the guise of being a James Bond motion picture.
How much destruction can we filmgoers take? Terminator 3, Matrix 2, Superman Returns, The Dark Knight, Transporter 1, 2, and 3, bang bang bang bang bang. Huge explosions are replacing intellectually astute commentary, philosophy and irony that were the foundation of spy vs. spy movies. The best moment in Quantum of Solace is when Craig/Bond intentionally upsets an electronic meeting of the Quantum group in a stadium, where he is shooting photos, not a gun, and where Judi Dench gets the information on a very high tech computer screen. Now that’s the space age super spy stuff that the fans of this film franchise find so invigorating. The nod to an image from Goldfinger is all well and good, but the captivating intrigue – and the brilliance of “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die” is lost here because Quantum Of Solace commits the cardinal sin: a master villain makes for a better movie. Mathieu Amalric is no Gert Fröbe, he’s no Vanessa Redgrave and, as stated, he’s light years away from being in Heath Ledger’s league. This fast-paced action film is saved by Judi Dench’s fierce and Stalin-esque coldness and the James Bond name. Other than that, it could have been titled Transporter
February 25, 2020 at 4:03 am
Love the “Bond” review i own all the originals on VHS, interested to check this one out!

Comment on 007 : Alex
February 25, 2020 at 4:03 am
Love the “Bond” review i own all the originals on VHS, interested to check this one out!

Feb 18, 2020 Hotline to the Underground

If you are in the mood for a culture clash go to Cambridge’s cellar full of noise in Central Square, the Club Bohemia at the Cantab, 738 Massachusetts Ave. The Deep House of Central Underground will give your senses one style while on Saturday slammin’ punk metal and hardcore will obliterate your brain as Charlie I.’s Psycho leads the Metal Madness barrage on February 22nd with band names on the bill so vile and disgusting that the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart will know it when he sees it…from the beyond.
And if that scares you Gap Teeth, the Mainframes, Payton Gin and Venus Twins, are at Sally O’Brien’s that same Saturday, Feb 22. Not since the days of the Chocolate Watchband, Vanilla Fudge, Moby Grape and the Strawberry Alarm Clock has such an avalanche of creative monikers hit the scene. Across the street right outside of Union Square at Bull McCabe’s are Orcs w/ special guest Valipala – see what I mean. McCabe’s is at 366 Somerville Ave while Sally O’Briens is 335 Somerville Ave. On Friday, Feb 21 at Thunder Road – 379 Somerville Ave, Charlie Able and the good people at Evolvement Music present Brad Parsons & Starbird with special guests Ashley Jordan and Back Rhodes. On Thursday February 20th at The Jungle on 6 Sanborn Court (in the heart of Union Square behind the Independent) you’ll find Femme Bones- Female Fronted Dark Music Night Doors Open at 8 pm, $10 Cover, 21 + Live Music Schedule 8:30 pm FrostofDoom …Ethereal Darkwave 9:15 pm MELT …Fusion Rock 10:15 pm Era Nocturna …Electro/Darkwave 11:00 pm Blacksoul Seraphim …Gothic Doom Metal

Watch for profiles of these nightspots and/or their booking agents and owners along with articles on Somerville area bands like Karen Debiasse’s Girl On Top. Coming soon to this column.
Some movie reviews on Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) and The Assistant in the next few weeks.

CD: Keep a Clean Engine
Artist: Dalia Davis

A dozen songs from Dalia Davis on her Keep a Clean Engine cd begin with “The Power of One,” a dramatic, take the mountaintop road curves in a movie scene type of song with its empowering theme, a spirit which follows into the next track, “Don’t Give Up The Fight.” Billy Carl Mancini is on guitar for the first four tracks along with 8, 9 and 12, as are legendary McGregor McGehee on bass and Larry Finn on drums for tracks 1,2,3,8,9,10,11 and 12. These musicians bring their perfection and experience into play with Dalia’s amazing keyboards getting to frolic over the musical foundation’s depth.

Fifty-six years after the Another Side of Bob Dylan album unleashed “My Back Pages” in 1964, Dalia brings new life to the nugget with a gospel feel that punctuates the artistry at play here. “Eleven and a Half” reminds me of the work of musical genius Harriet Schock and Boston area vocalist Didi Stewart of Girls Night Out fame, compelling and worthy of multiple spins. “Peace” employs reticence rather than Melanie Safka’s hit-you-in-the-face “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” approach, the entire CD entertaining with subtlety and well-crafted vision. “When Sunny Gets Blue” brings the album from girl-group pop to jazz in a dark underground café’. Dalia weaves through multiple genres seamlessly, no jolts – more like a drive in the car on the front and back covers – David Levitt’s guitar just oh so nice with Dalia Davis giving the keyboard just the right touch. But it’s the voice that travels over these musical excursions soulful here, poppy there, highly listenable throughout.
In 1982 the Beatles had a hit of portions of their movie hits, a Stars on 45 kind of medley, called – of course – The Beatles Movie Medley. Capitol Records did the same thing with the Beach Boys after the outrageous #1 success of a Dutch band with Stars on 45 the year before in the summer of 1981 with, yes, Beatles’ tunes! Dalia’s “Beatles Bridges” brings the idea back almost 40 years later and it still works. “Moving Day” echoes Carole Bayer Sager, Bette Midler, Karla Bonoff while “Wash Away” gives a nod to Laura Nyro, however it is pure Dalia Davis and from track 1 to the conclusion of “The Simple Life,” this is just a terrific group of performances which all have their own unique identity. Very impressive.

Feb 10, 2020 Hotline to the Underground

Hotline to the Underground…the clubs, the music, the independent films, all the action in the area!By Joe Viglione

February 11, 2020thesomervillenewsweeklyLeave a comment

By Joe Viglione

February 10, 2020

Flick Fanatics is a site operated by movie critic Panwa Sutthinon with 9.74k subscribers on YouTube. He called director Bong Joon Ho’s 2019 film, Parasite, a masterpiece before it won the Oscar for Best Picture last night. Seek out his review on YouTube under Flick Fanatics.

Was I bored by the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Yes and no. Elton John was lots of fun performing his Oscar-winning song from Rocketman. Elton still has it and the song harkens back to the pop of the superstar’s heyday. Perhaps the most bizarre thing about the entire display was Joaquin Phoenix bringing home the Oscar for Best Actor. Has it really been eleven years since Heath Ledger won the best supporting actor Oscar in 2009 – posthumously – for playing the Joker in “The Dark Knight?” So two actors have won this incredible award for playing the same character. Here’s the deal – Ledger’s performance was so one-of-a-kind, majestic, devilish and complete that there is no comparison. In the opinion of this critic, Phoenix didn’t even come close.

Australia’s Audioscam is negotiating with the great Rob Fraboni (produced the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton’s “Hello Old Friend,” mastered the entire Bob Marley collection!) – “Even When You Lose” written by G. Beasley and Brian Pitcher) is an epic five minutes and eleven seconds, longer than what the band from down under usually puts on their albums and extended plays! The riff is an instant classic and the song concludes with a multiverse of sound. Looking forward to the full disc!

Robert Jan-Davis sent us his “An Ocean Breeze” on Spotify – simple, airy pop, kind of like a modern day Norma Tanega (“Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,”) light and inviting. It’s on Jaeger Records out of Brookline Mass and came in off of famous Cholesterol Jones’ mailing list. Jones performs at the Cantab Upstairs at Geoff Bartley’s folk nights – watch the club’s website for dates.

Terry Kitchen is back with a new album – Next Time We Meet which features Track 9 “Empty Mansion.” The member of vintage Boston band Loose Ties is proficient and comes up with clever rhythms and atmospheric sounds denser than the aforementioned Robert-Jan Davis. Would easily fit onto an album by the Crystal Mansion with their tremendous classic hit, “The Thought of Loving You.” The song is well constructed and will accompany your day with repeated spins …very nice.

If you have an adventurous heart, go to 738 Mass. Ave for Club Bohemia’s Valetine’s Friday Night featuring Bazmati Vice and Memphous. If your significant other is not into the Goth of it (well, I’m not sure they are Goth, sure sounds like it…) you could lose your Valentine, but still have a good time. Saturday the 15th you can kiss and make up with River Divides, Soaked in Strange, Soup, and the marvelous duo The N Connection who are truly extraordinary.

BOSTON GETS A GRIP – The area’s tribute to Aerosmith
Back in 1988 Fast Track Records produced a 31 track double-lp entitled Boston Does The Beatles with the exquisite music of John, Paul, George and Ringo being translated by Didi Stewart (“You’re Gonna Lose That Guy”), Berlin Airlift with Rick Berlin (“Eleanor Rigby”), the late Barry Cowsill of The Cowsills – actually from Rhode Island but why quibble – (“Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me & My Monkee”) … you get the picture. Then came Boston Gets Stoned with the late Jimmy Miller, Rolling Stones producer, remastering all but two of the tracks (one by yours truly, “Brown Sugar”, and a Stones’ cover by Mono Mann and The Lyres).
Now comes Boston Gets A Grip…21 years after the release of the Beatles cover album, 14 years after 1995’s Boston Gets Stoned, and here’s what you can expect: The Bristols performing “Seasons Of Wither”, Kip Martin and The Merles singing the song allegedly written about Elissa Perry, Joe Perry’s first wife, “Sweet Emotion”, Recorded at Room 9 from Outer Space in Southie and engineered by Ducky Carlisle, King Memphis doing a very strange rockabilly “Mama Kin” – it actually works in a twisted way. There are nineteen songs on this CD, which makes its debut at the event. There promises to be lots of familiar faces from the Channel / Bunrattys days including Dinky Dawson, engineer on the new Spanky & Our Gang CD who should be there with those discs and Channel T shirts and more. has details of the event which features Alizon Lissance from Girls Night Out – live and in performance – along with Kenne Highland appearing in Jody Sandwich’s set, Medford’s own Jada Tringale singing “Back In The Saddle”, The Bristols, who are reuniting for this show after 9 years! and Black Number Nine with Charlie Ledger from “Unattached” and the “Fighting Cocks”.

January 13 2020
November 5, 2019

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