The Romanelli Music Diary: I Got A Name

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Bone Swah


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  • #1761
  • Posted: 07/30/2022 22:58
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1420


Pride by White Lion

WHITE LION
PRIDE
1987 – ATLANTIC
Produced By MICHAEL WAGENER

1. Hungry
2. Lonely Nights
3. Don’t Give Up
4. Sweet Little Loving
5. Lady Of The Valley
6. Wait
7. All You Need Is Rock ‘N’ Roll
8. Tell Me
9. All Join Our Hands
10. When The Children Cry

White Lion had sudden commercial success with Pride, their second album. The band was led by Danish singer Mike Tramp and guitarist Vito Bratta, and their peak did not last long…but long enough. Tramp was maybe the weakest of all of the 80’s glam rock vocalists, while Bratta was one of the genre’s best guitarists (and bassist James Lomenzo sported one of the most fantastically cringeworthy perm / mullets in music history). The breakthrough of Pride was due to three things: Tramps good looks, the pop rock hit “Wait” and its validation by way of heavy MTV rotation, and, of course, the power ballad “When The Children Cry”. Tramp and Bratta are at their strongest as songwriters here, and one thing is certain: White Lion could most definitely play. And Bratta was an absolutely overlooked monster on the guitar.

When you think of bands like White Lion, you think of the ballads that were seemingly required for commercial success. And “When The Children Cry” is here, in all of its mock sounding sincerity. But to their credit, Pride otherwise rocks. A reminder that these bands were, in fact, rockers. The ballads were a means to an end. “Lady Of The Valley”, “Lonely Nights”, and the hit “Wait” are hard rock gems. Their next album, Big Game, was less of a hit, and it was all gone by 1992 when the band split up. Tramp tried for years to reform White Lion, but Bratta, who became something of a recluse, has never said yes, and all attempts have been mired in legal battles over the name. Pride is their peak, their best album, and their most memorable moment. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than you might remember it.


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Romanelli
Bone Swah


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Location: The Spokane Valley
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  • #1762
  • Posted: 07/31/2022 21:19
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1421


whitechocolatespaceegg by Liz Phair

LIZ PHAIR
WHITECHOCOLATESPACEEGG
1998 – MATADOR
Produced By JASON CHASKO, SCOTT LITT, LIZ PHAIR & BRAD WOOD

1. White Chocolate Space Egg
2. Big Tall Man
3. Perfect World
4. Johnny Feelgood
5. Polyester Bride
6. Love Is Nothing
7. Baby Got Going
8. Uncle Alvarez
9. Only Son
10. Go On Ahead
11. Headache
12. Ride
13. What Makes You Happy
14. Fantasize
15. Shitloads Of Money
16. Girls’ Room

On the journey Liz Phair took from being the coolest indie female singer on the planet on her magnificent Exile In Guyville to her career crippling reinvention as a pop singer on her 2005 self-titled album (which one critic called Exile In Avril-Ville), she made a notable stop here with whitechocolatespaceegg. Moving away from the themes of sex and relationships that had dominated Exile and her second album, Whip-Smart, Phair’s third album was a much more mature affair. She had turned 30, had married and was now a mother, which are the main themes of this record. Good for you, Liz. Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to a great album for the rest of us. Liz Phair was once that dangerous hot girl you wanted to lay, but you were afraid she might burn your house down in the process…

…But now, she’d marry you, have your kids, and be pretty predictable. The thing about Exile era Liz Phair was that she could snarl pieces like “Fuck And Run” and “Divorce Song” with such glee and energy that you only wanted to hear more. On Whip-Smart, she started to lose the songwriting…and on this album it was the energy that was fading to black. There’s just enough here to keep it from falling apart…”What Makes You Happy”, for example…but for the most part, this is not much more than the continuation of the descent of Liz Phair into the “she was once so cool” file. And after this album, it was further downhill. Still, there is enough worthy material on whitechocolatespageegg to keep it from being a complete failure, but this is, only two albums later, a far cry from the heights that she once travelled.


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Bone Swah


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Location: The Spokane Valley
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  • #1763
  • Posted: 08/01/2022 20:09
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1422


Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order

NEW ORDER
POWER, CORRUPTION & LIES
1983 – FACTORY
Produced By NEW ORDER

1. Age Of Consent
2. We All Stand
3. The Village
4. 5 8 6
5. Your Silent Face
6. Ultraviolence
7. Ecstasy
8. Leave Me Alone

2008 Bonus Disc
1. Blue Monday
2. The Beach
3. Confusion
4. Thieves Like Us
5. Lonesome Tonight
6. Murder
7. Thieves Like Us (Instrumental)
8. Confusion (Instrumental)

New Order’s road to their second album, Power, Corruption & Lies, was not an easy one. They had survived the suicide of their singer, Ian Curtis, in 1980, and the transformation of the band from the post punk music of Joy Division to the more synth driven dance music of New Order. The first New Order album, Movement, had been poorly received and was a bit musically confusing. But on this one, they got it all right…the perfect balance between what was left of the Joy Division sound and their new direction. But it’s also where they made their own mark and put most of their past behind them. New Order always has been a singles band, with only ten studio albums released since 1981. And while they peaked commercially in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this album is still regarded as maybe their best.

Studio albums have always seemed secondary to this band. But this is probably the best of the batch. “Age Of Consent” was a single, but the best song here is from the 2008 re-release bonus disc. “Blue Monday” was released at about the same time as this album, and it outshines everything else here. Power, Corruption & Lies was initially dismissed as a poor album, but it has gained a pretty fine following over the years. It’s consistently very good, lacking only that one big hit that the band always seemed to save for single only releases. So, while your best move with New Order may be to pick up one of their many exceptional compilation albums, this should be your first pick of their studio efforts. Because even though it doesn’t shine with hits, it’s still a very fine record…an almost perfect one, in fact. Well worth seeking out…especially the 2008 collector’s edition.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1764
  • Posted: 3 days ago
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1423


Weary And Wired by Marc Ford

MARC FORD
WEARY AND WIRED
2007 – BLUES BUREAU INTL.
Produced By MARC FORD

1. Featherweight Dreamland
2. Don’t Come Around
3. It’ll Be Over Soon
4. Dirty Girl
5. The Other Side
6. 1000 Ways
7. Smoke Signals
8. Greazy Chicken
9. Currents
10. Just Take The Money
11. Medicine Time
12. The Same Thing
13. Running Man Blues
14. Bye Bye Suzy
15. The Big Callback

Marc Ford’s time as lead guitarist for The Black Crowes should not be underestimated…he was a huge part of the success and the sound of that band. But outside of his two stints with the Crowes, Ford’s career has been an absolute jumble of left and right turns, changing bands and projects and turns as a sideman, producer and solo artist at dizzying speeds. And most likely the reason why he has never gained much of a foothold outside of the Crowes. Weary And Wired is Ford’s second solo album, made after his final departure (via fax) from The Black Crowes. It’s actually a reunion of his former band Burning Tree. Weary And Wired collects some of Ford’s better songs, some from aborted projects and most of which had been made better by the bands that came before this one. And a couple of not really necessary covers.

This album is saved by one thing, and one thing only. Marc Ford is a beast on the guitar, and every moment he shreds with that terrific tone of his makes this worth it. Otherwise…listening to Ford sing is really about as exciting as watching paint dry. Most of the songs are only okay, and the better ones (“Smoke Signals”) are Ford exercising an obvious Neil and Crazy Horse obsession. And 15 tracks is about 7 or 8 too many. But if you like guitar, then you will like this. Everything else here is mostly in the way, but you’ll want to turn it up when he rips on his guitar. Ford has continued to jump from project to project, including the short lived venture with Crowes founder Rich Robinson (Magpie Salute). This would rate much higher if he had even hired himself a singer…but his guitar does, indeed, speak volumes.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1765
  • Posted: 3 days ago
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1424


Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World

JIMMY EAT WORLD
BLEED AMERICAN
2001 – DREAMWORKS
Produced By MARK TROMBINO & JIMMY EAT WORLD

1. Bleed American
2. A Praise Chorus
3. The Middle
4. Your House
5. Sweetness
6. Hear You Me
7. If You Don’t, Don’t
8. Get It Faster
9. Cautioners
10. The Authority Song
11. My Sundown

First, some clarification about the album title. This was initially released as Bleed American. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the album name was changed to Jimmy Eat World...seven years later, the original title was restored. Not to be confused with their self titled debut album from 1994. So, with that out of the way…the band’s first three albums in the 90’s came and went in obscurity. But this album changed all of that in a hurry. The song that put Jimmy Eat World on the map was “The Middle”, a big enough hit about the band struggling to make it. The album was recorded after they had been dropped from Capitol Records, and the band financed this on their own through touring and working day jobs. The result is pretty much a last ditch effort to make it, and it paid off in big ways. The band is still together today, and while their sales have never matched this album, their discography has sold well through the years.

But outside of “The Middle”, there’s nothing about this album that has aged particularly well. They can be loud, and they are without question a pop band, and they do have a few hooks up their sleeve. But there’s not a whole lot of depth here, and there’s not a whole lot that, even though the listen is pleasant enough, will stick in your head. The thought that Jimmy Eat World is classified as a punk band is kinda sad, really. If this is what punk ended up becoming, then the Sex Pistols must be pretty disappointed. Ultimately, this is an album that ported a few minor hits and made a career for Jimmy Eat World. It’s also a very average and pedestrian album. Vanilla pop punk is what it is. You may enjoy that, and if so, then Jimmy Eat World is right up your alley. Just don’t expect anything here to be above average.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1766
  • Posted: 26 hours ago
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1425


Speak Of The Devil by Chris Isaak

CHRIS ISAAK
SPEAK OF THE DEVIL
1998 – REPRISE
Produced By ERIK JABOBSEN, CHRIS ISAAK & ROB CAVALLO

1. Please
2. Flying
3. Walk Slow
4. Breaking Apart
5. This Time
6. Speak Of The Devil
7. Like The Way She Moves
8. Wanderin’
9. Don’t Get Down On Yourself
10. Black Flowers
11. I’m Not Sleepy
12. 7 Lonely Nights
13. Talkin’ ‘Bout A Home
14. Super Magic 2000

The job of keeping the spirit of 1950’s rock & roll alive eventually fell solely on the shoulders of Chris Isaak. He’s been called the Roy Orbison of the 90’s, he brings to mind the crooning styles of artists like Elvis Presley and Rick Nelson, and he makes good but never great albums. Likely because of his style, he doesn’t get a lot of hits outside of “Wicked Game”, from the album Heart Shaped World. Isaak was unknown and sinking fast when David Lynch found “Wicked Game” and used it in a move, and the song has been on repeat on jukeboxes and cover band setlists ever since. But Isaak is more than that one song. He’s an actor, and he has a cool sound that has kept him above water for over 30 years now. Speak Of The Devil is his seventh album, and did what Isaak records usually do…sound terrific and go pretty much unnoticed.

But this, along with 1993’s San Francisco Days, is his high water mark as far as albums go. The Isaak formula is simple…start off low, then belt that high voice towards the end of the song for big dramatic effect. Sometimes, more often than not, it works fine (the title track is a great example). Sometimes, as on the puzzling single “Please”, it’s just okay. As a whole, Speak Of The Devil is not unlike most of his efforts. It’s solid, well played, well written, and pretty underrated. But by the time of this, he had been musically typecast as that guy who did “Wicked Game”, and nothing could ever live up to that. Too bad. This is a fine album. It has its flaws, but it also soars to some pretty great heights as well. One of his best albums, for sure. Isaak still soldiers on, forever in the shadow of that one big hit. Dig a little deeper.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1767
  • Posted: 1 hour ago
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1426


I Got A Name by Jim Croce

JIM CROCE
I GOT A NAME
1973 – ABC
Produced By TERRY CASHMAN & TOMMY WEST

1. I Got A Name
2. Lover’s Cross
3. Five Short Minutes
4. Age
5. Workin’ At The Car Wash Blues
6. I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song
7. Salon And Saloon
8. Thursday
9. Top Hat Bar And Grille
10. Recently
11. The Hard Way Every Time

The story behind some albums makes them difficult to write about. Jim Croce had released a pair of albums in the 1960’s that had little or no impact on the music industry. His third album, 1972’s You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, was his big breakthrough, with three sizeable hits. He followed that up the next year with Life And Times, and he was well on his way to a substantial career. But barely a year after You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, he was killed in a plane crash in Louisiana. Less than two months later, his already finished fifth album, I Got A Name, was released. It’s a continuation of Croce’s career path and shows that he was still growing as an artist. But he had also indicated to his wife (in a letter she received after he had been killed) that he wanted to leave music behind and live a low-key life out of the spotlight. We’ll never know…

The highlights here are the title track, the excellent folk rock of “Workin’ At The Car Wash Blues”, and the lovely “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song”. Also of note is “Salon And Saloon”, the last song he recorded, which was written by his musical partner, Maury Muehleisen, who was also killed in the crash. These tracks are wonderful and show the full promise of Croce. But it’s also easy to forget that Croce was one of the original second wave of folkies, with more interest in singing about personal reflection than about the world and what goes on in it. Croce shows his penchant for what became the genre of adult contemporary here as well, so the album loses points for that. But Croce, who was 30 when he died, was also capable of making great music. Did he have, somewhere in his future, an album of consistently great material? We’ll never know…


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