Mac, Shrine 69 (Ryko 1999) - Before Mick Fleetwood
and John McVie catapulted Fleetwood Mac into the record-selling
stratosphere with a West Coast line-up that included Stevie Nicks and Lindsey
Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac was one of England's best regarded blues bands.
Shrine 69 captures this
blues sound on a January 1969 live performance at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles. Recorded by legendary
sound man Stuart "Dinky" Dawson, the album captures the pure blues sound of the original
Fleetwood Mac. The new master was sequenced and approved by Mick Fleetwood himself.
Dinky Dawson worked with a number of famed 60s and 70s acts, including
the Byrds, Steely
Dan, Lou Reed, and the J.
Geils Band. Look for Dinky's autobiography
"Life on the Road," in which he recounts such stories as the notorious Grateful
Dead drug bust in New Orleans and drawing extra amps from the electric chair at Sing Sing prison for
a Joan Baez concert.
The lineup on Shrine 69 included Peter Green on guitar and vocals, Mick
Fleetwood on drums, John McVie on bass, Jeremy
Spencer on slide guitar and keyboards, and Danny
Kirwin on guitar and vocals. Green, Spencer and Kirwin
were all first rate blues guitarists, as captured on such great studio recordings as Then Play On.
69 finds the band in a loose, extended blues groove on songs like "My Sweet Baby" and the uptempo
"Before the Beginning."
Yet the musical heritage created by this blues outfit runs deep, as "Lemon Squeezer" is a direct precursor
to the sound embraced by Led Zeppelin on its early
recordings (see especially the "Lemon Song" on Led
the real treat comes at the end, with covers of "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis
and Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes." In particular, Green (who was a fine soul shouter)
gives a raunchy reading to "Blue Suede Shoes" that will change how you remember this song.
Shrine 69 captures a Fleetwood
Mac sound that is largely unknown in America. Yet the pre-Lindsey Buckingham Fleetwood
Mac was a potent lineup. Prepare for a surprise on Shrine 69.
Shivaree, I Oughtta Give You a Shot in The Head (Capitol
1999) - Shivaree is a threesome fronted by Ambrosia Parsley. With breathy vocals, found sounds,
and uncompressed recordings, the album displays the hand of producer Joe
While there's pop overtones on I Oughtta Give You a Shot in The Head (for Making Me Live in a Dump Like
This), the album solidly infuses experimental elements and dark undertones.
is rounded out by Duke McVinnie on guitar and bass, and Danny McGough on keyboards
and "gizmos." The roster includes a revolving list of drummers, including Jim Keltner, Tony Mangurian, Danny Frankel, and Joey Waronker.
Hailing from the San Fernando Valley, Shivaree
is not your usual combo. According to the press materials,
Duke found himself in a studio run by a friend, where Ambrosia had been tracking earlier in the day. Bored and
restless, Duke decided that Ambrosia's work might benefit from a little contribution.
So the next day, Duke introduced himself at the studio. According to the notes, "Ambrosia reacted
just as you'd expect, but after calming down enough to listen, she had to admit the asshole wasn't half bad."
Keyboardist Danny McGough is said to be a "close personal friend and musical accompanist of Harvey Sid Fisher.
Danny looks like a televangelist, plays like Sun Ra, and has a very large collection of rally weird music. Further,
Danny's wife, Sonia, makes Danny's pants."
that tell you anything about the band? Not really. But as soon as you learn that the bulk of I Oughtta
Give You a Shot in The Head was recorded in Joe Henry's backyard, you get the picture.
Many tracks (such as "Arlington Girl") are frankly doleful. Yet there are brighter, more accessible moments,
such as "Good Night Moon" and "Pimp" (which, however, are quickly balanced by downer tracks
like "Ash Wednesday").
Shivaree is a 180-degree turn from the Valley Girls and the Go-Gos.
Fans of experimental, genre-bending music will find something in I Oughtta Give You a Shot in The Head.
Scorpions, Eye II Eye (Koch 1999) - Hailing from Hanover, Germany,
the Scorpions have enjoyed huge success in the metal/hard rock arena, with
worldwide sales in excess of 50 million albums. Eye II Eye finds the group continuing to pound
out hard-rocking riffs and pulse-grabbing melodies.
While the band has undergone several lineup
changes, the core trio remains lead guitarist Matthias
Jabs, vocalist Klaus Meine, and rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker
(the brother of Michael Schenker,
who also played with the band for a time). The current lineup is rounded out by bass player Ralph Rieckermann
and drummer James Kottak.
the follow-up to their 1996 recording, Pure Instinct,
the band recruited producer Peter
Wolf, who has recorded with such acts as Wang Chung
and Heart, and who also was the keyboard player
in Frank Zappa's band for a number of years.
Tracks like "To Be Number One" and "Mind Like a Tree" find the Scorpions
recording very well-crafted hard rock songs. And ballads like "Obsession" and "Ten Light Years Away"
find the Scorpions in the same vein that produced the giant singles, "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and
"Winds of Change."
Klaus, "To be honest, working on this new record
was something of a painful process . . . As a writer, I sometimes try to avoid really deep feelings, because they
can hurt so much, but Peter was always encouraging me to tap into these, to lay my feelings bare, which is something
I did on the album's title track, where the lyrics are all about my father, who died last year."
Adds lead guitarist Matthias Jabs, "The
way I see it, if you're not prepared to take any risks, then you've already lost."
While Eye II Eye doesn't boast big risks, its
polished sound stands comfortably atop most of what passes for contemporary hard rock.
- Randy Krbechek © 2000
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