Graham Parker – Howlin’ Wind

CB and I have been talking and when that happens… some cool music is discussed. This is an artist I should have checked out long long ago.

Graham Parker is someone I’ve heard of …but never actually heard. I’ve lived with this album for a week or so. What I’ve heard is some smooth groove music that Parker contrasts with his intense lyrics. I hear a little punk influence in the lyrics and voice. If I had to compare him with someone…it would be Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson but with a touch of Van Morrison and The Band sprinkled in on this album.

A little more about Graham Parker…after that, I’ll get on about the album. This is an extremely condensed beginning for Graham up until the debut album.

Graham Parker and the Rumour

Graham Parker was born in East London in 1950 and was the right age to catch The Beatles when they hit. He and his friends had a band that adopted the haircuts, sweaters, and boots but they never really learned how to play their instruments. He did a guitar and started learning it. Later on, when he was around 15 he started to listen to soul music, Motown, ska, and especially Otis Redding.

He started to improve on guitar and played bars and clubs. He even appeared on a television show in Gibraltar and played a few of his own songs. After that, he was asked to join a psychedelic band named Pegasus. He soon tired of that music and started to concentrate on R&B songs like The Midnight Hour. He then met the manager of Brinsley Schwarz. With ex-members of Brinsley Schwarz and ex-member Nick Lowe producing them…they made his debut album Howlin’ Wind. His band had a name at this point…The Rumour.

The Rumour would be Graham’s backing band for years. They also recorded their own albums separately and did three in all. They broke up in 1980 and then reformed and started to back Parker up again in 2011 and remain his backup band to this day.

The album is great. There is not a bad song on it. The second side rocks a little more than the first so it evens it out. I hear rock, reggae, rockabilly, R&B, Soul, rock, and a touch of jazz in spots. His voice is so damn convincing…you automatically take notice as he sneers his way through it. He can get raspy and then stay smooth. There is a variety on this album…he was not stuck on one style…he spread it about and his debut album is balanced and wonderful. It was a perfect marriage between Parker and The Rumour. Also, I have to give Nick Lowe some credit. He keeps it sparse…no studio tricks just straight-ahead music.

I’ve mentioned Van Morrison and I have to say Springsteen also. If you like those artists…you should like this Graham Parker album. Don’t get me wrong…he doesn’t copy them…he has his own original thing going on but it has some of the feel of those artists. I’ve listened to this album at home, in the car, and at work. It kept getting better as I was going through it.

Give this album a shot.

  1. “White Honey” – 3:33
  2. “Nothin’s Gonna Pull Us Apart” – 3:21
  3. “Silly Thing” – 2:51
  4. “Gypsy Blood” – 4:37
  5. “Between You and Me” – 2:25
  6. “Back to Schooldays” – 2:54
  7. “Soul Shoes” – 3:13
  8. “Lady Doctor” – 2:5
  9. “You’ve Got to Be Kidding” – 3:30
  10. “Howlin’ Wind” – 3:58
  11. “Not If It Pleases Me” – 3:12
  12. “Don’t Ask Me Questions” – 5:38

Graham Parker: “When I’m writing, I don’t write angry or think angry, so I appreciate that you noticed this, and thank you, sadly, all critics see or hear is anger. Not me, though. ‘With a little humor, always with a little humor.’” 

Graham Parker: “I’ve always tried to be playful, starting with Howlin’ Wind, not dumb, not goofy, but playful. I’m a fan of humor. People have always thought I was pissed off, but really, I was just joking around. They don’t get it or they’re not hearing me. I have always loved to tickle people.”

Originally released in 1976, from the album ‘Howlin’ Wind’. This remix was released as a single in 1978 from the album ‘The Parkerilla’.


Beatles – Good Morning Good Morning

Somebody needs to know the time, glad that I’m here
Watching the skirts you start to flirt now you’re in gear

I was 10 when I bought Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band…10 years after it was released. It came with the same cutouts as it did in 1967. I remember taking hours and looking over the album cover. You would find faces you didn’t see before and I remember spotting Stuart Sutcliffe, the former Beatles bassist and the man who was most responsible for coming up with the band’s name.

Here is Stuart (left) on the cover and the picture they took it from. 

Stuart Sutcliffe on Sgt Pepper

The Cutout page that came with Sgt Pepper. 

Sgt Pepper Cutouts

The song started out with a rooster crowing and ends with a chicken clucking. Good Morning Good Morning was inspired by a Corn Flake commercial. Lennon would always leave the TV on and sometimes with the volume turned down. He saw an ad for Corn Flakes and the song came to him. “Good Morning Good Morning…the best to you each morning.” I’ll have the video at the bottom of the post.

As a youngster, I enjoyed this song and Lovely Rita. The only song that was hard for me to grasp on the album was Within You Without You…because it was so different. In time, it became one of my favorites on the album.

I love the horns in this song and McCartneys stinging guitar solo in this one. Ringo’s drumming also stands out on this track…the sound and the playing are outstanding. His cymbols sound like a steam engine with the compression they ran on them.

This song is one of the most technically challenging songs they wrote. It was highly aggressive and complex, with a loud french horn, animal noises, pounding drums, strong vocals, and a large amount of intricate strumming guitars. The time signature to this song is all over the place…3/4, 5/4, 4/4, 12/8… but the song doesn’t sound forced or disjointed. This track is an example of how great Ringo is as a drummer. This and his work on A Day In The Life. He had to play in many different styles because John, Paul, and George wrote so many different styles of songs.

One of the most interesting things about the song is the end of it. Various animal sounds are put together but they had a purpose. The animal sounds were dubbed in from a sound effects disc. They were arranged in order of creatures capable of eating or chasing the one before, at Lennon’s request. And at the very end…was a very cool effect. A clucking chicken suddenly turns into a guitar lick when it melts into Sgt Pepper’s Reprise.

Six brass players were involved in this session, three saxophonists, two trombonists, and one French horn player. George Martin was excellent at mixing horns with Beatle songs. Got To Get You Into My Life is another example of that. They are not regulated to the background like other songs. They are upfront and have a fat sound to them.

This song was also the first song The Beatles ever licensed, while they were together, to be used in a show. It was in the last Monkees episode (“The Frodis Caper”) which was totally surreal…not like the formula driven episodes of the first season. It was kinda like The Simpsons meet Green Acres.

John Lennon: “I often sit at the piano, working at songs, with the telly on low in the background, if I’m a bit low and not getting much done, then the words on the telly come through. That’s when I heard ‘Good morning, good morning.’ It was a corn flakes advertisement. I was never proud of it. I just knocked it off to do a song.”

Paul McCartney: “John was feeling trapped in suburbia and was going through some problems with Cynthia, it was about his boring life at the time. There’s a reference in the lyrics to ‘nothing to do’ and ‘meet the wife’; there was an afternoon TV soap called ‘Meet The Wife’ that John watched, he was that bored, but I think he was also starting to get alarm bells and so ‘Good morning, good morning.’”

Micky Dolenz (drummer for the Monkees): “And I’ll never forget it.  John Lennon looks up at me and says, ‘Hey Monkee Man!…You want to hear what we’re working on?’…And he points up to George Martin and I remember this so clearly…He’s wearing a three-piece suit…and he pushes a button on a four-track tape recorder and I hear the tracks to ‘Good Morning Good Morning.’…And then we sit around and then I remember some guy with a white coat and tie came in with tea…’Tea time, eh!’ And we sat around a little table and had really God-awful tea. And then everybody sat around and then we were chatting – ‘What’s it like, The Monkees?,’ me again trying to be so cool. And then I think it was John that went, ‘Right lads, down in the mines.’ And they went back to work.” .

Sgt Pepper

Just in case you wanted to know who was who on the cover. 

Sgt Pepper Cover who is who

This is the commercial that inspired John Lennon

I couldn’t find a version of Good Morning Good Morning going into the Sgt Pepper Reprise. You have to listen to the end of Good Morning and the beginning of the Reprise to hear it. The album of course plays them together…there is no space between the songs. 

Good Morning Good Morning

Nothing to do to save his life call his wife in
Nothing to say but what a day how’s your boy been
Nothing to do it’s up to you
I’ve got nothing to say but it’s okay
Good morning, good morning

Going to work don’t want to go feeling low down
Heading for home you start to roam then you’re in town
Everybody knows there’s nothing doing
Everything is closed it’s like a ruin
Everyone you see is half asleep
And you’re on your own you’re in the street
Good morning, good morning

After a while you start to smile now you feel cool
Then you decide to take a walk by the old school
Nothing has changed it’s still the same
I’ve got nothing to say but it’s okay
Good morning, good morning

People running round it’s five o’clock
Everywhere in town is getting dark
Everyone you see is full of life
It’s time for tea and meet the wife
Somebody needs to know the time, glad that I’m here
Watching the skirts you start to flirt now you’re in gear
Go to a show you hope she goes
I’ve got nothing to say but it’s okay
Good morning, good morning

cat, dogs barking, horses, sheep, lions, elephants, a fox being chased by dogs with hunters’ horns being blown, then a cow and finally a hen.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Was I Right Or Wrong

This song tells a tragic tale of a son going off for fame and coming back home for the acceptance of his parents but he finds out…they died. They recorded this track in Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama. It was before they were signed to a contract. Shooting Star which came after this song…. covered a small portion of this but the star in this song lives but doesn’t get satisfaction out of the outcome.

At first I got lost, then I got found
But the ones that I loved were in the ground

It was on an album called First and Last. It was released in 1978 after the crash. It covered the demos they made at Muscle Shoals. The owners of the studio thought they would be signed because their songs were very good and they had everything arranged before recording…so it was quick. After they were not signed…Ronnie Van Zant promised the recording studio owners that he would mention them in a song if they hit. They thought…yea right! A man of his word…a couple of years later in Sweet Home Alabama he did “Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers and they’ve been known to pick a song or two (yes they do).

I wouldn’t dare compare this to a normal release but it has it’s charm all the same and shows how advanced the band was in the early seventies. Van Zant worked his band members hard to get them in shape. They practiced in an old cabin with no air conditioning in Florida. He would make them go through songs until they were perfect…they nicknamed the place Hell House.

Ronnie Van Zant was a great and sometimes underrated songwriter. The band members have said that he never wrote lyrics down on paper. The band would be practicing and he would hear a riff or a chord progression he liked and would tell them to keep going through it over and over. After thinking about it he would start singing what he came up with.

They were not a jam band (again the Allmans were) but a song band that played their 3-5 minute songs and got off the stage with the exception of the lengthy Free Bird. They were planning to release this before the crash.

No one wanted to sign them because they couldn’t figure out what they were. Record executives said they sounded too much like The Allman Brothers. Which that in itself is just stupid. The executives thought anyone from the south sounded like the Allmans. The Allmans had jazz influences and Lynyrd Skynyrd drew inspiration from British acts like Free and lead singer Paul Rodgers. They were completely different in every way.

Al Kooper met and signed them to a contract back in 1973. Kooper had worked with Jimi Hendrix, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and Bob Dylan. He said Lynyrd Skynyrd were the best arrangers of songs he ever met plus the most organic musicians he worked with. That is high praise coming from Al Kooper.

Another song off of this album is called Comin’ Home which is really good.

Was I Right Or Wrong

Like a restless leaf in the autumn breeze,
Once, I was a tumbleweed
Like a rolling stone, cold and all alone,
Livin’ for the day my dream would come

Never cared for school or any golden rules
Papa used to always say I was a useless fool
So I left my home to show ’em they was wrong
And headed out on the road, singin’ my songs

Then one sunny day, the man, he looked my way
And everything that I dreamed of, it was real
Money, girls, and cars and big long cigars
And I caught the first plane home so Papa would see

When I went home to show ’em they was wrong
All that I found was two tombstones
Somebody tell me, please, was I right or wrong?
Lord, it’s such a sad song

At first I got lost, then I got found
But the ones that I loved were in the ground
Papa, I only wish you could see me now
Take a listen Papa, I learned how to play my guitar, superstar
Play one for momma now

If there’s any way that you can hear what I say
Papa, I never meant to do you wrong
All the money, girls, and cars,
And all the world’s long cigars,
Papa, I just want you to know,
They couldn’t take your place

When I went home to show ’em they was wrong,
All that I found was two tombstones
Somebody tell me please, was I right or wrong?
Lord, it’s such a sad song
At first I got lost, then I got found
But the ones that I loved were in the ground
Somebody tell me, please, was I right or wrong?

Steve Miller – Dance, Dance, Dance

Steve Miller goes country bluegrass?

In the late seventies, my friend had the Fly Like An Eagle album. I loved it at that time and this song is the one young Max zoned in on. It’s one Steve Miller song that is NOT worn out! It’s not a great song by any means but there is something charming about this country-type song. It’s one you can imagine someone singing on a back porch.

I like when artists do something different out of the norm. At this time he was changing from blues to pop…and this song went in a different direction.

The Steve Miller Band started off as a blues psychedelia band. They got signed for $50,000 dollars in 1967…quite a lot at that time… after the band had an impressive performance at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival They continued to release one album a year but they never rose up the charts too much. At that time the band included drummer Gary Mallaber and LonnieTurner on bass, but the albums also featured contributions by harmonica player James Cotton, session guitarist Led Dudek, and the Doobie Brothers’ John McFee…and Boz Scaggs was a member for a while.

One song in the earlier period I’ll touch on in a few weeks is “My Darkest Hour” and he recorded it with Paul McCartney in one of his most darest hours…right after Paul refused to sign with Allen Klein.


After The Joker was released as a single in 1973, Miller started to move toward pop melodies and struck gold with Fly Like An Eagle. The album bounces everywhere in style. He does a Sam Cooke cover, Send Me to sitars on “Wild Mountain Honey…along with this Bluegrass – Country song Dance, Dance, Dance. Then there are the hits. The title track Fly Like An Eagle, Take The Money and Run, and Rockin’ Me. This album is one of the building blocks of classic rock radio.

The album was released in 1976 and it peaked at #3 in the Billboard Album Charts, #4 in Canada, and #11 in the UK.

Dance, Dance, Dance

My grandpa, he’s 95
And he keeps on dancin’
He’s still alive

My grandma, she’s 92
She loves to dance
And sing some, too

I don’t know
But I’ve been told
If you keep on dancing
You’ll never grow old

Come on darling
Put a pretty dress on
We’re gonna go out tonight
Dance, dance, dance
Dance, dance, dance
Dance, dance, dance
All night long

I’m a hard working man
I’m a son of a gun
I’ve been working all week in the noon day sun
The wood’s in the kitchen
And the cow’s in the barn
I’m all cleaned up and my chores are all done
Take my hand, come along
Let’s go out and have some fun

Come on darling put a pretty dress on
We’re gonna go out tonight
Dance, dance, dance
Dance, dance, dance
Dance, dance, dance
All night long

Pick on

Dance, dance, dance
Dance, dance, dance
Dance, dance, dance
All night long

Come on darling, don’t look that way
Don’t you know when you smile
I’ve got to say you’re my honey pumpkin lover
You’re my heart’s delight
Don’t you want to go out tonight
You’re such a pretty lady
You’re such a sweet girl
When you dance it brightens up my world
Come on darling put a pretty dress on
We’re gonna go out tonight
And dance, dance, dance
Dance, dance, dance
Dance, dance, dance
All night long

Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced Album

On March 9th of this year Dave at A Sound Day published this post I wrote for his Turntable Talk series. Dave stated: Let’s look at an artist whose debut really impressed you. It can be one that just knocked you out first time you heard it when it was brand new, or one you went back & discovered later.

I went through some debut albums before I came to this. I already wrote up Big Star’s debut for another blogger but the other that came to mind was The Cars. For me, that was their best album although they had some great albums later. I then thought of Jimi’s debut…and that was that. There is more than one version of Jimi Hendrix’s debut album released. I will go by the one I first owned when I was around 11…the US version.

I think about 1967 and what people must have thought when they heard this strange new artist. It must have sounded like an alien coming down from another planet. Being at the ripe old age of 4 months old…I don’t quite remember it. His guitar playing was first felt by other guitarists. Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, and the other huge guitarists back at that time. They were shocked when they saw him perform on stage.  He was “found” by Animals bassist turned manager Chas Chandler in New York. He took Jimi to England and formed a band around him…it didn’t take long after that.

Jimi’s debut album was released on May 12, 1967. The tracklist is incredible. A lineup of songs that still get played over 50 years later on the radio. To make it even stronger…Hendrix wrote all of the songs but one…Hey Joe, his breakout hit in the UK.

Purple Haze
Manic Depression
Hey Joe
Love or Confusion
May This Be Love
I Don’t Live Today
The Wind Cries Mary
Third Stone from the Sun
Foxy Lady
Are You Experienced?

The album had many now-rock classics. They were not rock songs easily accessible to the audience as other performers. He mixed experimental technics along with well-written and performed songs. Before Zeppelin came along, Hendrix gave rock its sonic boom. The album peaked at #5 on The Billboard Album Charts, #15 in Canada, and #2 on the UK Charts in 1967.

I’ve never heard a guitar player take the guitar to a far-off place like Hendrix. It wasn’t just his playing which was some of the best…it was his vision and the sounds he got out of the guitar that was so amazing. Every guitar player that came after him would get unfairly compared. He wasn’t just a guitar player though…he was a singer/songwriter who created 3 classic rock albums that still are revered. He was the complete package…not a traditional voice, but he got his point across and wrote his songs to fit him…and it worked.

He also evidently had a huge backlog of recordings and live concerts that keep being released. The man must have recorded in his sleep.

The “new” Jimi Hendrix tag has been unfairly placed on many guitar players. From Stevie Ray Vaughn to Eddie Van Halen, many more faded out. Hendrix would mess with this guitar…changing pickups and recording techniques. He had a sound all his own…when you hear a Hendrix record you know it’s him by just his guitar playing. Now when I listen to him…I hear the guitar players that followed…from the finger tap from Eddie to the straight-in-your-face riffs of Stevie Ray Vaughn…Jimi had done it all before.

Like Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen…they would let themselves go on stage. They would take it as far as they could and if they messed up…they messed up but the fans got to see an electrifying performance. When Joplin and Hendrix left us…they left a huge hole in rock performers and when both were peaking in making albums. Both Hendrix and Joplin left and their last studio albums peaked at #1. Jimi’s came two years before his death and Janis just a few days after she passed.

Van Morrison – Bulbs

I must admit…the first line threw me off when I first heard it at age 19. “Kicking off from centerfield” left me confused. Baseball has a centerfield but you don’t kick off. Of course, it’s soccer but back then I had no clue about the game.

Bulbs was the only single to be taken from his 1974 album Veedon Fleece, with a B-side of “Cul de Sac” for the US release and “Who Was That Masked Man” for the UK release.

I bought Veedon Fleece sometime in the mid-eighties right after I bought his first six albums. I was heavily into Van the Man at that time…and still am. I thought this album was an improvement to the previous one called Hard Nose The Highway. The song kicked off the second side of the album. I would always buy the album and record it on cassette immediately so I could listen to it in my car.

Van Morrison is an interesting person. His musical landscape spanned so many genres in his career. You had the garage rock of Gloria and Here Comes The Night, the blues with Thank God For The Blues, jazz with Moondance, and everything in between including conventional rock and roll with Wild Night.

Van would be in the top 2-3 of my favorite vocalist of all time. I saw the man live on March 7, 2006, at the Ryman Auditorium. I had admired his voice for years but was knocked out by how great he was in concert. I’ve seen film clips of him live but you don’t get the full effect unless you see him in person.

Veedom Fleece peaked at #53 on the Billboard album charts, #80 in Canada, and #41 in the UK in 1974. He had a stretch of albums from 1968 to this one that is hard to beat. Astral Weeks, Moondance, His Band and the Street Choir, Tupelo Honey, Saint Dominic’s Preview, Hard Nose The Highway, and this one. I do like his other albums also but I like his late sixties to early seventies sound…The first time I noticed Van was on Saturday Night Live when he appeared and played songs from the album Wavelength. I was too young to know who he was though. It was when I heard Brown Eyed Girl in 1985 that I started to buy his albums and haven’t stopped liking him since.


I’m kicking off from center fieldA question of being down for the gameThe one shot deal don’t matterAnd the other one’s the same

Oh! My friend I see youWant you to come through (alright)And she’s standing in the shadowsWhere the street lights all turn blue

She leaving for an American (uhuh)Suitcase in her handI said her brothers and her sistersAre all on Atlantic sand

She’s screaming through the alley wayI hear the lonely cry, why can’t you?And her batteries are corrodedAnd her hundred watt bulb just blew

Lallallal, alright, huhuhhuh

She used to hang out at Miss Lucy’sEvery weekend they would get looseAnd it was a straight clear case ofHaving taken in too much juice

It was outside, and it was outsideJust the nature of the personNow all you got to rememberAfter all, it’s just show biz

Lallalal, huhuh, lallal

We’re just screaming through the alley wayI hear her lonely cry, ah why can’t you?And she’s standing in the shadowsCanal street lights all turn blueAnd she’s standing in the shadowsWhere the street lights all turn blueAnd she’s standing in the shadowsDown where the street lights all turn blueHey, hey, yeah

Tom Petty – Feel a Whole Lot Better ….Under The Covers Week

I hope you enjoy this Byrds cover by Tom Petty. One of the best B-side songs I can think of.

I posted The Waiting not long ago and talked about the similarities between The Byrds and Tom Petty. This Byrds song fits Tom Petty perfectly but the original song was not sung by McGuinn but by its writer…Gene Clark. Clark wrote this song in the mid-sixties when a girl he was seeing started to bother him. He also co-wrote Eight Miles High.

Although the song was the B side to The Byrd’s song All I Realy Want To Do, it gained a lot of promotion from Columbia Records and a lot of radio air time. It also became a classic rock standard, with dozens of artists giving their versions of the song.

This song was on Tom Petty’s solo album Full Moon Fever in 1989. The original name of the album was Songs From the Garage. It would have been an appropriate name for it. They worked on this album mostly in Heartbreaker Mike Campbell’s garage. This album caused a riff in The Heartbreakers. The other members thought Tom was going to leave the band. He kept reassuring them but they were not sure.

What’s unbelievable about it is, MCA rejected the album because they didn’t hear a single. This album would have 5 singles released from it.

Tom was absolutely stunned and depressed. He went back and added Feel A Whole Lot Better and the song Alright For Now and presented MCA with basically the same album again. There had been a regime change at MCA and this time they loved it. Ah…record companies…sometimes they are the spawn of Satan.

Although the album was released in 1989…Petty recorded it back in 1987 and 1988. MCA caused much of the delay when they rejected it.

Gene Clark of the Byrds: “There was a girlfriend I had known at the time, when we were playing at Ciro’s. It was a weird time in my life because everything was changing so fast and I knew we were becoming popular. This girl was a funny girl, she was kind of a strange little girl and she started bothering me a lot. And I just wrote the song, ‘I’m gonna feel a whole lot better when you’re gone,’ and that’s all it was, but I wrote the whole song within a few minutes.”

Tom Petty: “I didn’t see much of the Heartbreakers during that period, Mike I kept in touch with, of course, because he was working on Full Moon Fever with me. I never thought of leaving. And I kept reassuring them that I wasn’t going to leave. But I think there was some doubt in their mind.”

Feel A Whole Lot Better

The reason why, oh, I can’t say
I had to let you go, baby, and right away
After what you did, I can’t stay on
And I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone

Baby, for a long time, you had me believe
That your love was all mine and that’s the way it would be
But I didn’t know that you were putting me on
And I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone
Oh, when you’re gone

Now I gotta say that it’s not like before
And I’m not gonna play your games any more
After what you did, I can’t stay on
And I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone

Yeah, I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone
Oh, when you’re gone
Oh, when you’re gone
Oh, when you’re gone

Tonio K – Life In The Foodchain

Watching the shadows for anything moving
And hoping they don’t come around

My friend CB (Cincinnati BabyHead) introduced me to Tonio K a few weeks ago and I’ve been listening to him heavily. I liked him right away because he mixes it up in his songs. His songs all have a great groove to them…  and will roll you like wholesale carpet. What intrigued me the most though were the witty lyrics he throws out plus some out of the box arrangements…that work.

The album I listened to is called Life In The Foodchain released in 1978. Click on that link and it should take you to the complete album. There are a lot of good songs on this album. The title track alone should have made the charts.

Who is Tonio K? He was born Steve Krikorian on July 4, 1950, in California. He is a singer/songwriter, whose songs have been recorded by Charlie Sexton, Bette Midler, Peter Case, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Vanessa Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Brian McKnight, and others. His most successful song is “Love Is”… a #1 hit for Vanessa Willams with Brian McNight.

Krikorian and Alan Shapazian (rhythm guitar) formed a band called The Raik’s Progress which recorded one single for Liberty Records, released in 1967. In 1973, he appeared as a member of the former Buddy Holly backing band the Crickets on their album “Remnants”.

By 1978, Krikorian went solo, adopting the name of Tonio K, possibly a reference to the Thomas Mann novel Tonio Kröger, with Life In The Foodchain.

In 2004, he reunited with the Crickets for a track on their album, The Crickets and Their Buddies, singing lead on the Holly song, “Not Fade Away.”

The record was produced by Rob Fraboni ( who produced The Band, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker) and featured a cast that included Earl Slick, Garth Hudson, Dick Dale, and Albert Lee. What a cast that is!  It was also the first Pop/Rock record to feature the percussive sounds of an AK-47 firing live ammunition. The album garnered much critical acclaim.

The track list is

Life In The Foodchain
The Funky Western Civilization
Willie And The Pigman
Ballad Of The Night The Clocks All Quit (And The Government Failed)
American Love Affair
How Come I Can’t See You In My Mirror
Better Late Than Never
A Lover’s Plea

I picked just 3 songs below…click the link in the article to check the album out.

Tonio K: I lived at Shangri-La for much of 1978, and we recorded Life In The Food Chain there. Shangri-La is The Band’s studio out there, the studio that’s in The Last Waltz. The place, I think it was built by Kaiser Aluminum in the ’40s. Real cool California ranch style house. I think Kaiser used it to entertain corporate guests, which is to say they used it basically as a brothel. They would send guys out there and send women out there with them, way north of Malibu, at Zuma Beach.

But, anyway, Garth was my neighbor there. He and Molly, his wife, would spend a lot of nights there. They had a farm somewhere further up in Decker Canyon or somewhere. But I got to know him and he played on my first two records, Garth did. And he’s pretty trippy.

Life In The Foodchain

Well your mother was there to protect you
Your papa was there to provide
So how in the world did the excellent baby
Wind up in this hotel so broken inside
You lie on your bed in the midnight darkly
Listening to every sound
Watching the shadows for anything moving
And hoping they don’t come around

‘Cause it’s dog eat dog
And it’s cat and mouse
It’s watch your step and cross yourself
And get back in the house
And it’s do or die
It’s push and shove
Because everybody’s hungry
And there isn’t quite enough

That’s right, we’re talkin’ about the good life
In the foodchain
Love among the ruins
I guess that you’ve finally got to accept
That there’s nothing you can do about it
It’s kind of like carving the turkey
It’s kind of like mowing the lawn
Everything gets to this certain dimension
Winds up on a customer’s plate and then gone

‘Cause it’s dog eat dog
And it’s the cat and mouse
You know it’s cut the cake and grab a plate
And hope it goes around
I said it’s a do or die
It’s push and shove
It’s because everybody’s hungry
And there just isn’t quite enough

Well it’s dog eat dog
And it’s the cat and mouse
You know it’s cut the cake and grab a plate
And hope it goes around
And it’s do or die
It’s push and shove
That’s because everybody’s hungry
And there just isn’t quite enough

Ranking Beatle Albums

For anyone who has talked to me in person or through the blog…the number one choice is NOT going to be a surprise. The rest of the bunch might be a little but not number 1. It’s also an almost impossible task for me to do this. The Stones albums were easier to rank.

 I’ve seen Hanspostcard to this before but I’ve never tried it. Since it would be convoluted to include the American versions…I’m sticking with the UK versions only…except with Magical Mystery Tour. Magical Mystery Tour was released as two eps in the UK but an album in the US…now the album is considered the standard.

I was struck again by how far they came. Please Please Me and four years later I Am The Walrus. Who makes that big of a jump?

As with my Stones list a while back… I will do this on personal preference. When people mention the best Beatle album…many say Revolver or Sgt Pepper. Artistically I always thought Revolver is at the top but not personally.

The only easy selection for me was the bottom two but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them both. Many bands would make a career out of the bottom two. The hardest part was comparing the early albums with the others. That is not all…how do you compare Strawberry Fields with I Want To Hold Your Hand to Something off of Abbey Road?

I have some readers who are pro-early Beatles and some who are pro-middle to late. I’ll take them all. They were innovative to start off with…not just middle to late. I know that many will disagree and I hope you do… that’s the fun of these lists! If I made this tomorrow…only the top pick and the last two would be the same. I have over 40 revisions of this post…yea it was hard. 

Yellow Submarine

13. Yellow Submarine (Soundtrack) – This was the dumping ground of the not wanted songs for a while. The Beatles would keep sending songs to this album but just because it was last doesn’t mean it wasn’t any good. The album also had songs from other albums on this one.

Favorite Song – Hey Bulldog

Beatles for Sale

12. Beatles For Sale – The cover tells the story. Beatlemania had worn them down physically and emotionally. Six out of the fourteen songs on the album are cover versions. They were good cover versions but were running low on gas at this point.

Favorite Song – No Reply

Let It Be

11. Let It Be – My love for this album has grown but I’ve always liked it. Lately, it has drawn new fans into the Beatles because of the Get Back film. Why oh why did Phil Spector leave off Don’t Let Me Down? This is another album that I hated to rank as low as I did.

Favorite Song – Two Of Us

Please Please Me

10. Please Please Me – I love this debut album. They recorded most of it in one day… on February 11, 1963. Recording this in one day shows you how well they knew their material. It takes people days just to start on an album…much less get it done. It really hurts to rank this as low as it is.

Favorite Song – Please Please Me

Magical Mystery Tour

9. Magical Mystery Tour – I remember buying this album as a kid I liked it better than Sgt Pepper at the time. Many of the songs had already appeared on singles like Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane, Hello Goodbye, I Am The Walrus.

Favorite Song – Strawberry Fields Forever

With The Beatles

8. With The Beatles – This album was close to its American counterpart (Meet The Beatles) without I Want To Hold Your Hand. It had many more covers.  I think Meet The Beatles could be a little better because it was totally made up of Lennon-McCartney songs with Harrison’s first original song…Don’t Bother Me.

Favorite Song – It Won’t Be Long (one of my favorite Beatles songs of all time)


7. Help! – For me this album gets underrated and this is where you can start hearing the change between Beatlemania and more mature Beatle music. It opens the door for Rubber Soul and then Revolver.

Favorite Song – The Night Before

Abbey Road

6. Abbey Road – This album has been said to sound more modern than the other Beatles albums. The reason is they recorded on a 16-track recorder just installed at the time in Abbey Road. It was the last album they all worked on together.

Favorite Song – The “mini pop opera” on side B

Sgt Pepper

5. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The most famous album of the Beatles and quite possibly of all time. As John Lennon said it wasn’t really a concept album after the first two tracks and the refrain…it worked because they said it worked. If The Beatles would have included Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane…this could be my number 1. 

Favorite Song: perhaps my favorite of all time… A Day In The Life

Rubber Soul

4. Rubber Soul – This was known as their pivotal album. I think Help! was the album that you started to know the change between the early Beatles and mid-Beatles but this one was full-blown. It shows their folk and drug influence with their great melodies. 

Favorite Song – In My Life

A Hard Day's Night

3. A Hard Day’s Night (Soundtrack) – I think this is the best album they released during the Beatlemania days and on some days it could be listed even higher. Songs such as the title track, Tell Me Why, I Should Have Known Better, If I Fell, Anytime At All, and many more.

Favorite Song – I’ll Cry Instead


2. Revolver – I think Revolver is the Beatle’s best album artistically. It’s not the most popular with the masses but it’s a masterpiece of an album. I’m biased but this one or Pet Sounds? I would take Revolver any day of the week…and I love Pet Sounds! It’s as close to a perfect album as you can get.

Favorite Song – Tomorrow Never Knows

The White Album

  1. The Beatles (White Album) – This not only is my favorite Beatles album…but my favorite album of all time. It gives such a wide palette of music…  there is something that everyone would like on here somewhere. Unlike Abbey Road or Sgt Pepper…it’s not slick…it’s them playing in a room. I like the well-known songs and I love the album tracks even more. Actually, all are album tracks technically because there were no singles (except for an overseas single) from this album. Songs included Back in the USSR, Helter Skelter, Dear Prudence, Sexy Sadie, Cry Baby Cry, Revolution 1, and so many more. 

Favorite Song: Sexy Sadie

Stems – At First Sight

I’m really into this band at the moment. This is one band I wish I would have known about in the 1980s. This song was on their album At First Sight, Violets Are Blue. The album is still rated as one of the best Australian guitar pop releases. In the early nineties, Rolling Stone included it in the top 100 Australian releases of all time. At First Sight became their signature song. 

The Stems were a garage punk band formed in Perth, Western Australia in late 1983 by member Dom Mariani. They were hugely popular in Australia. They would release 7 singles, 2 albums, and 2 EP’s between 1985-1987.

They debuted in March 1984 and released a series of independent records on Sydney’s Citadel Records. Each release made it to number one on the Australian alternative charts. Dom Mariani’s earliest influences included The Beatles, The Raspberries, Badfinger, and Big Star. He formed his first band (The Go Starts) in 1981 and The Stems in 1984. The members included Mariani (songwriter, guitar, and vocals) Richard Lane (guitar/keyboard/vocals), Gary Chambers (drums) and Julian Matthews (bass).

The band broke up after this album in 1987. They regrouped in 2003 and played to packed houses across Australia and Europe. They disbanded again in 2009 and regrouped in 2013 and still play from time to time.

The song peaked at #90 in the Australian Kent Music Charts but I’ve read where it peaked at #1 on the alternative charts there as well…along with two more singles from this album.

On the 30th anniversary of the album….founding member Dom Mariani: “It seems like a long time, doesn’t it? Music’s one of those funny things that never dies, it’s there forever. It’s always going to be there and what we did 30 years ago has connected with people, and it’s a bit of a historical thing. Personally, I’ve kept doing it (playing music) because it gave me the confidence to keep writing songs and stay interested in it. If it had been a flop I might have taken a different path.”

Back then I would have never thought much of it. You can’t look into the future but we had high hopes, and thought we’d be chart topping & tour the world etc. We were lucky enough that what we did was popular, we had some good tunes, and we loved what we were doing. Where I’ve ended up, I’m pretty happy with though. If we’d had any degree of success that was ‘life changing’, we probably wouldn’t have done all the music that we did since then. I’ve had a great journey, and it’s always been about rock and roll. The art form is more important than owning a mansion.”

At First Sight

Just say the word and I would die for you
And I’ll be a flower if you wanted to
‘Cause I never met anyone quite like you
I lose my head my heart starts pounding too
And all I had to do was look at you
At first sight

I’ll be the motor in your car
And I’ll be the fire in your flaming star
And I’ll be the water in your waterfall
‘Cause I’d hit the ceiling I’d feel ten feet tall
And all I had to do was look at you

At first sight

Just say the word and I would die for you
And I’ll be a flower if you wanted to
‘Cause I’ve never met anyone quite like you
I lose my head my heart starts pounding too
All I had to do was look at you
At first sight

All I had to do was look at you
At first sight
At first sight
At first sight
At first sight

At first sight
At first sight
At first sight
At first sight
At first sight
At first sight
At first sight
At first sight

Who – Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand

This song was on the album called The Who Sell Out. I’ve said before that titles sometimes grab my attention and this one certainly did. This one has had many covers from other bands and artists.

The Who Sell Out is A Pop Art album that was fashioned after Pirate radio. The Who created spoof promo slots for Radio London, Premier Drums and Rotosound Strings, recorded in the brash ad-speak of 60s pirate radio. John Entwistle wrote two commercial jingles for Heinz Beans and Medac spot pimple cream.

Pete Townshend: “I’d already written two songs for [co-manager] Kit Lambert for the American Cancer Society – Little Billy and Kids! Do You Want Kids? – and I had Odorono, about a girl who loses a record contract. It wasn’t meant to be a commercial, it was just a song about body odor.”

I always thought it was a brilliant idea and remains a great satirical take on 60s consumerism.

The song would be the B side in America to I Can See For Miles.

The album was released on December 16, 1967. It peaked at #13 in the UK and #48 in the Billboard Album Charts. Their album Tommy would be released 2 years after this one and it would be their breakthrough all over the world.

Critic Dave Marsh called it “the greatest rock and roll album of its era” and “the Who’s consummate masterpiece, the work that holds together most tightly as concept and realization”.

Pete Townshend on the album: I’d demoed ‘Tattoo’ in my hotel room in Las Vegas during our three-day vacation, and a song called ‘Odorono’, named after a deodorant stick. ‘Odorono’ led us to the most perfect pop idea of all time: we would make our next record a vehicle for advertising. When we called Kit to explain, he was as excited as we were. I suggested we link the gaps between songs with jingles like those on commercial pirate radio.

John and Keith leapt on the idea, and, inspired by ‘Odorono’, began making up advertising jingles for all kinds of things, like Medac spot cream, Premier Drums and Heinz Baked Beans. But when the album was ready to be put together we were still short of tracks. John’s track didn’t feel right either, so he quickly produced a demo for another song called ‘Silas Stingy’, which, to be honest, was equally eccentric. But this was obviously going to be a very eccentric record.

Who – Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand

I danced with Linda
I danced with Jean
I danced with Cindy
Then I suddenly see

Mary-Anne with the shaky hands
What they’ve done to her man
Those shaky hands

Mary is so pretty
The prettiest in the land
Guys come from every city
Just to shake her shaky hands

Linda can cook
Jean reads books
Cindy can sew
But I’d rather know

Mary-Anne with the shaky hands
What they’ve done to her man
Those shaky hands

Mary-Anne with the shaky hands
What they’ve done to her man
Those shaky hands

Mary-Anne with the shaky hands
What they’ve done to her man
Those shaky hands

Jackson 5 – Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Merry Christmas to the entire WordPress world. This is a great community we have going on and I hope everyone has a beautiful day today.

I just heard the  Jackson 5 version again yesterday. I need to write the Bruce version up…I never have since I’ve been blogging which is dumb.

I’ve never been a huge Michael Jackson fan except with the Jackson 5. He was immensely talented and had some great-selling albums. Maybe it was just being burned out hearing him.. The Jackson 5 though I really liked and still do. I thought they had some great pop/soul/bubblegum singles in the early to mid-seventies.

This version was released in 1970 and it peaked at #46 in the Billboard 100 and came off the Jackson 5 Christmas Album album. The album peaked at #53 on the Billboard Album Charts and #45 in Canada.

According to Wiki: The album spent four weeks at the number one position on Billboard magazine’s special Christmas Albums chart that the magazine published in December 1970, making it the best-selling Christmas album of that year and also of the year 1972 in the United States.

According to a Top 30 list released by the performance rights organization ASCAP in December 2014, this is the most-performed holiday song of all time. “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” was ranked second and “White Christmas” third.

This was written in 1932 by Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots. They had trouble convincing anyone to produce it because it was seen as a kids’ song, which would have been very hard to sell. The big break came when Eddie Cantor sang it on his radio show in 1934, and the song became an instant hit. Coots was a writer for Cantor’s show and pushed for the host to perform it. Cantor was going to pass on the song but was convinced by his wife, Ida, to give it a try.

One of the most successful Christmas carols of all time, this was outsold only by “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “White Christmas.”

Santa Clause Is Coming To Town

Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Santa Claus is comin’ to town

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why

Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Santa Claus is comin’ to town

He is making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice

Santa Claus is comin’ to town, oh yeah
Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Santa Claus is comin’ to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake

Oh, you d better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why

Oh, Santa Claus is comin’ to town, oh yeah
Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Santa Claus is comin’ to town, woo hoo

Woo hoo
Woo hoo
Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Santa Claus is comin’ to town

Little tin horns
And little toy drums
And rump-a-tum-tums
Curly-haired dolls
That tootle and coo
Elephants, boats and kiddie cars too

Oh, Santa Claus is comin’ to town, oh yeah
Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Santa Claus is comin’ to town

One more time now

Santa Claus is comin’ to town, oh yeah
Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Santa Claus is comin’ to town

Big Star – Don’t Lie To Me ….Power Pop Friday

This will wrap up Power Pop Friday for this year…it will return in 2023. 

I never travel far, without a little Big Star
The Replacements

I hold Big Star’s music up along with The Who, Beatles, Stones, and Kinks…they never had the sales but they did have a giant influence. Big Star released their debut album #1 Record in August of 1972. 

Alex Chilton and Chris Bell wrote most of the songs and wanted to emulate Lennon/McCartney and they did a great job but with an obvious American slant to make it their own. After the commercial failure of this album, Chris Bell quit but the other three continued for one more album and then bass player Andy Hummel quit after the second album, and Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens recorded the third.

When their albums were finally discovered by eighties bands, they influenced many artists such as REM, The Replacements, Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day. Billboard went as far as to say, “Every cut could be a single” on their debut album.

Big Star returned in 1993 with a new lineup when guitarist Jon Auer and bassist Ken Stringfellow joined Chilton and Stephens. Auer and Stringfellow remained members of the Posies. In 2005 the reformed band released their last album called In Space

Jody Stephens: “All of a sudden I’m playing with these guys that can write songs that are as engaging to me as the people I’d grown up listening to, so I felt incredibly lucky.” 

Here is the reformed Big Star with original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens in 1994. Filling out the rest was two Posies members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow. 

I did find a date that I will go to when I get a time machine..March 31, 1974. Big Star opened for Badfinger. 

Below is Big Star on that date. 

Don’t Lie To Me

Don’t lie to me
Don’t lie to me
Don’t lie to me
Don’t lie to me

I know where you been
And I know what you been doing
Don’t lie to me

Don’t push me ’round
Don’t push me ’round
Don’t push me ’round
Don’t push me ’round

I don’t like that
Now, I’m telling you
Don’t push me ’round

Don’t cross me babe
Don’t cross me babe
Don’t cross me babe
Don’t cross me babe

You said you wouldn’t
And I’m just making sure
Don’t cross me babe

Rolling Stones – Happy

I had to double-check my index to make sure I didn’t post this song before. Well no I haven’t and I can’t believe it because it’s WAY up there in the top 3 of my favorite Stones songs. My order probably goes as follows… 1. Memory Motel, 2. 100 Years Ago, and 3. Happy.

This song is on one of my favorite double albums. Since I made a short list of my top 3 favorite Stones songs…I’ll make a short one of my favorite double albums. Number 1 is also my favorite album of all time…The Beatles The White Album, 2. would be Exile On Main Street (and that is where Happy is found), and number 3 The Clash London Calling. I’m thankful none of them were trimmed down.

I love Keith Richard’s voice. I wish he would have had lead vocals on more than he did. I think Jagger is terrific and the perfect singer for them but it’s a raw quality about Keith’s voice that I like. I’ve read that he sang in the choir as a youngster until cigarettes and other substances made it a little raw. The song is great and I can’t believe that Mick didn’t fight to sing this one.

I love the studio version but I also like the 1972 tour version of this song with Mick Taylor with his fat Gibson-sounding guitar driving it also. Everyone who reads me knows I’m a huge Mick Taylor fan. It’s not that I don’t like Ronnie Wood…he fits them perfectly but his and Keith’s guitar sometimes sound too much like each other with the same tones. There was no mistaking Taylor.

A few years ago Mick Taylor joined them onstage and they had that sound again as soon as he was chugging away at the chords. I want to mention one more thing about that era. Mick Taylor contributed as I said but also Jimmy Miller their producer. He needs a hell of a lot of credit for the success they had with that 5-album stretch. Without Jimmy Miller who knows if those albums would have had the same sound. Once he left…so did that sound.

Happy was recorded at Keith’s Villa Nellcote in France when The Stones left England to avoid paying taxes. They used the basement as a recording studio but had a hard time getting everyone together at once because of the party atmosphere. The only people to play on this were Keith (guitar, bass, vocals), producer Jimmy Miller (drums), and horn player Bobby Keys (percussion). Horns were dubbed in later.

The song peaked at #22 on the Billboard 100 and #9 in Canada. The B side was a song that is just as good as this one… All Down The Line. Exile On Main Street peaked at #1 on The Billboard Album Charts, Canada, and the UK in 1972.

Keith Richards:  “That’s a strange song, because if you play it you actually become happy, even in the worst of circumstances. It has a little magical bounce about it. I wrote it one afternoon when we were cutting Exile on Main St. in France and the studio was in my basement. And Bobby Keys was with me and they got this lick going. So we went down and I recorded it with just guitar and Bobby Keys on baritone saxophone. While we were doing that, Jimmy Miller, who was our producer at the time, came in. And he was a very good drummer as well. So we said, well let’s put down a dub, we’ll just sort of sketch it out and play it later. But it’s another one of those things that ended up being on the record. It was just one of those moments that you get that are very happy. And I can play it now and it gives you a lift. I don’t know why except for maybe the word.”


Well I never kept a dollar past sunset
It always burned a hole in my pants
Never made a school mama happy
Never blew a second chance, oh no

I need a love to keep me happy
I need a love to keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy

Always took candy from strangers
Didn’t wanna get me no trade
Never want to be like papa
Working for the boss ev’ry night and day

I need a love to keep me happy
I need a love, baby won’t ya keep me happy
Baby, won’t ya keep me happy
Baby, please keep me

I need a love to keep me happy
I need a love to keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy

Never got a flash out of cocktails
When I got some flesh off the bone
Never got a lift out of Lear jets
When I can fly way back home

I need a love to keep me happy
I need a love to keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy

Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, oh, keep on, baby, keep me
Happy, now baby won’t you squeeze me
Happy, oh, baby got to feel it
Happy, now, now, now, now, now keep me
Happy, my, my, my, keep me
Happy, keep on baby, keep me
Happy, keep on baby, got to
Happy, my, my, baby keep me happy

Beths – Expert In A Dying Field ….Power Pop Friday

I learned about this band from Graham at Aphoristic Album Reviews. I think the subject of this song is brilliant. It’s the title song on the album Expert In A Dying Field. The album was released in September of 2022 and is their 3rd studio album to date. It peaked at #1 in New Zealand and #80 in Australia in 2022.


Through the years in power pop…the lyrics take a back seat to the music many times.  The Beths music excites me because they don’t produce empty songs…they have substantial lyrics to go along with their irresistible hooks.

The Beths are a band out of New Zealand, that was formed by Elizabeth Stokes in 2014. The songs are full of guitar hooks along with Stokes’s clever writing and voice… make them fun to listen to. They have some 90s indie sound with a little of the 60s thrown in at times.

The members include Elizabeth Stokes ( lead vocals, rhythm guitar ), Jonathan Pearce (lead guitar, backing vocals), Benjamin Sinclair (bass, backing vocals)
and Tristan Deck (Drums, backing vocals).

Here is a link to the entire album on youtube.

From Allmusic by Marcy Donelson on the album

After quickly building a fan base in New Zealand and Australia with their live shows, Auckland’s the Beths burst onto the broader indie scene with an infectious, hook-crammed debut, 2018’s Future Me Hates Me. As suggested by the album’s title, Elizabeth Stokes’ self-depreciating lyrics were part of its charm, and the follow-up, 2020’s Jump Rope Gazers, reflected an even more hapless outlook as it explored strained relationships caused by the band’s new life on the road. Without skipping a hook, third album Expert in a Dying Field delves still deeper into melancholy, with lyrics navigating a breakup as well as pandemic life. Churning fuzz and ringing lead guitar begin a downcast but nonetheless driving opening title track that asks, “How does it feel/To be an expert in a dying field?/How do you know/It’s over when you can’t let go?” The song’s chorus picks up multi-tracking, vocal countermelodies, group harmonies, and crashing cymbals by its final incarnation.

It could be said that much of the album continues in kind, with memorable melody after memorable guitar hook after air-drum-compelling fill on a series of songs that border on midtempo, but the way it plays out is something much more off-balance. The Beths lean on the accelerator three tracks in, on the polyrhythmic “Silence Is Golden,” for instance, a song whose punky, racing rhythms and guitar histrionics are matched by a rambling, lilting vocal that only stops to breathe before the chorus’s repeated “Silence is golden.” Nearing the halfway point of the track list, the two-minute “I Want to Listen” is a gentler, McCartney-esque ditty with more complex chords and shifting harmonic progressions than are typical for the onetime jazz majors. Later, the chanting “Best Left” (“Some things are best left to rot”), while still wistful in tone, plays to the arena crowds. The group have said that Expert in a Dying Field was made with live performance in mind, and on that point, it delivers, right up until the plaintive closing ballad, “2 a.m.,” which finds Stokes left alone in a flash of headlights (“There’s a song that never fails to make you cry”). The album also delivers on vulnerable, rock-solid songs, a juxtaposition the Beths continue to master.

Elizabeth Stokes: “I really do believe that love is learned over time. In the course of knowing a person you accumulate so much information: their favorite movies, how they take their tea, how to make them laugh, how that makes you feel. And when relationships between people change, or end, all that knowledge doesn’t just disappear. The phrase ‘Expert in a Dying Field’ had been floating around my head for a few years, I was glad to finally capture it when writing this tune.”

Elizabeth Stokes: “When I first started this band … I was looking back towards [what] I liked when I was younger, sweetly sung melodies and super depressing lyrics”

Expert In A Dying Field

Can we erase our history?Is it as easy as this?Plausible deniabilityI swear I’ve never heard of itAnd I can close the door on usBut the room still existsAnd I know you’re in it

Hours of phrases I’ve memorizedThousands of lines on the pageAll of my notes in a desolate pileI haven’t touched in an ageAnd I can burn the evidenceBut I can’t burn the painAnd I can’t forget it

How does it feel (how does it feel)To be an expert in a dying field?And how do you know (how do you know)It’s over when you can’t let go?You can’t let go, you can’t stop, you can’t rewindLove is learned over time‘Til you’re an expert in a dying field(How does it, how does it feel?)

The city is painted with memoryThe water will never run clearThe birds and the bees and the flowers and treesThey know that we’ve both been hereAnd I can flee the countryFor the worst of the yearBut I’ll come back to it

How does it feel (how does it feel)To be an expert in a dying field?And how do you know (how do you know)It’s over when you can’t let go?You can’t let go, you can’t stop, you can’t rewindLove is learned over time‘Till you’re an expert in a dying field

Can we erase our history?Is it as easy as this?Maybe in other realitiesThe road never took this twistAnd I can close the door on usBut the room still exists

How does it feel (how does it feel)How do you know (how do you know)Can’t stop, can’t rewindLove is learned over time‘Til you’re an expert in a dying field

Oh, an expert in a dying field