MICHAEL NESMITH/SONGS (12CDs) review: SPAZ explores the musical universe of Michael Nesmith!

THE LONG REVIEW: Fifty-three years after he stepped into the limelight with the release of The Monkees’ debut single in August of 1966, Michael Nesmith remains a musical enigma. The story of The Monkees has been told so many times – perhaps TOO many times – so I’ll respectfully skip over most of the details. One thing I will mention is how Nesmith seemed slightly out of step with the Pop charts yet completely in step and confident of his own musical vision. While Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones handled the bulk of the lead vocals for The Monkees’ glorious hits, Nesmith added a sophisticated depth to the album tracks he wrote and/or produced. Although the most naturally gifted as a songwriter in the band, his lead vocals were not featured on a Monkees A-side until 1969, the year he graced the topside of two singles in a row! […]

By | June 6th, 2019|Categories: News, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on MICHAEL NESMITH/SONGS (12CDs) review: SPAZ explores the musical universe of Michael Nesmith!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: APEX MANOR/HEARTBREAK CITY

It has been eight years since Southern California-based Apex Manor released their last album. Eight years is a long time between albums. In that same span of time, The Beatles wrote and recorded their entire catalog (not to mention making movies and touring). Fleetwood Mac was able to knock out everything from their 1975 self-titled release to their 1982 album TANGO IN THE NIGHT in just under eight years. Popular children’s music band The Wiggles issued nine studio albums, toured the world, and filmed a TV series within their first eight years of their existence. Wait… did I just mention The Wiggles? Oh, dear.  Let’s circle back to Apex Manor and the eight-year stretch between albums… […]

By | May 31st, 2019|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: APEX MANOR/HEARTBREAK CITY

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: DIPLO/EUROPA!

Born Thomas Pentz, Jr., DJ and producer Diplo is a Grammy-winning man-about-town. Not only has he released music under his own name, he’s also a member of Major Lazer, LSD (with Sia and Labrinth), Silk City (with Mark Ronson), and Jack Ü (with producer and DJ Skrillex). He’s also known for his work with M.I.A., Gwen Stefani, Die Antwoord, Britney Spears, Madonna, Shakira, Beyoncé, No Doubt, Justin Bieber, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Trippie Redd, Chris Brown, CL, G-Dragon, Bad Bunny, MØ, Poppy, and Bausa. To say that Diplo is a prolific artist would most certainly be an understatement. […]

By | May 24th, 2019|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: DIPLO/EUROPA!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: RAHSAAN PATTERSON/HEROES & GODS

Remember when The All-New Mickey Mouse Club (1989-1994) gave us a new generation of young stars like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and others? Well, if you weren’t paying attention, the syndicated TV series Kids Incorporated (1983-1992) was introducing to the world to new talent as well. Some of the soon-to-be-stars that made their first national appearances on the show include Stacy Ferguson (AKA Fergie), Martika, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Mario Lopez, Eric Balfour and the subject of this blog entry, Rahsaan Patterson. […]

By | May 17th, 2019|Categories: News|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: RAHSAAN PATTERSON/HEROES & GODS

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: B.B. KING BLUES BAND/THE SOUL OF THE KING

THE B.B. KING BLUES BAND THE SOUL OF THE KING (Ruf Records) 5.10.19 Blues music has been a crucial part of American history for nearly 150 years. Originally, the Blues genre grew organically from Folk, spirituals, and African work songs. Since the dawn of recorded music, Blues has traveled around the world, inspiring millions of musicians in the process. The musical blueprint for the Blues remains virtually unchanged a century and a half later yet musicians find new ways to interpret it year after year. Much like an amusement park ride, the basic structure itself never changes yet it is experienced differently by each person that rides it. The Blues can be performed by down-trodden acoustic guitar player or a glitzy big band and have the same effect on the listener. The Blues informs almost every other style of music – from Rock ‘n’ Roll to modern Country and Jazz. The Blues is understood and misunderstood in equal measures. The Blues can make you sob but then turn around and drown you in joy. The Blues, in the hands of the right musicians, is magical.  And one of the greatest Blues musicians/magicians was – and remains – B.B. King. […]

By | May 10th, 2019|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: B.B. KING BLUES BAND/THE SOUL OF THE KING

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: NEW FOUND GLORY/FROM THE SCREEN TO YOUR STEREO 3

Regardless of what the Billboard charts might insinuate, Pop Punk – AKA Punk Pop – was not born in the mid- ‘90s. The roots of the genre first came to prominence in the late ‘70s thanks to bands like Ramones, Buzzcocks, The Dickies, and The Undertones. The blending of the raw power of Punk Rock and soaring, sing-a-long melodies reignited the Indie scene and made Punk more -for lack of a better term – consumer-friendly. Pop Punk was not watered-down Punk aggression – it was just more focused. Bands soon realized that they could get their messages across if they packaged them in tight, melodic musical blasts. Add a little bit of harmony here, a catchy hook there, and, voila, Pop Punk was born. Pop Punk was never about playing it safe – it was about communicating to their audience via raw and urgent Rock ‘n’ Roll and melodic hooks. The movement’s popularity weakened a little bit over the next decade but in the late ‘80s, bands like Descendents brought Pop Punk back to the surface. And then came the ‘90s… […]

By | May 3rd, 2019|Categories: News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: NEW FOUND GLORY/FROM THE SCREEN TO YOUR STEREO 3

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE MOUNTAIN GOATS/IN LEAGUE WITH DRAGONS

The Mountain Goats don’t seem like a band that celebrates anniversaries. However, if they did, they’d be celebrating their 28th year of existence in 2019. Let that sink in – 28 years! Singer/songwriter John Darnielle [...]

By | April 26th, 2019|Categories: News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE MOUNTAIN GOATS/IN LEAGUE WITH DRAGONS

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: JADE BIRD/JADE BIRD!

The definition of a solo singer/songwriter has gone through many transformations throughout the years. Typically, one might think of a singer/songwriter as a lone troubadour/trobairitz armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a catalog of sensitive, self-penned Folk-influenced songs that he/she is eager to share with their audience. From Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, singer/songwriters were proof that you could converse with your audience through music and teach them something in the process. As music has evolved, we have come to realize that a singer/songwriter cannot be defined by a genre… or an instrument. Thanks to social media, singer/songwriters can reach well beyond their local coffeehouse. From South Korea to North Carolina, anyone with a computer or smart phone can have instant access to musical messages that just might change their lives forever. […]

By | April 19th, 2019|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: JADE BIRD/JADE BIRD!

BREAKIN’ soundtracks revisited and reviewed!

Nobody expected the 1983 motion picture BREAKIN’ to be a hit. At the time, breakdancing was quickly becoming a worldwide craze, rising from the urban neighborhoods and spilling into white-bread suburbia. Since Hollywood always loves to capitalize on current trends, TV commercials suddenly incorporated breakdancing and movies like BREAKIN’ and BEAT STREET (amongst others) were quickly put into production. BREAKIN’ was first out of the gate. The film was a commercial – and financial -success and was followed a year later by BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO. Highly entertaining some 35 years later, both films were light on plot and acting ability but heavy on music and fun. Regardless of how lightweight the films were, the soundtracks served up a healthy selection of R&B, Soul, and Funk music that was surprisingly light on the more dangerous sounds of Rap/Hip Hop. Regardless, the music introduced young movie goers to a sound and culture that they may not have experienced otherwise. The BREAKIN’ films were like extended versions of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video – every problem can be solved by a dance-off! And what is wrong with that? […]

By | April 18th, 2019|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on BREAKIN’ soundtracks revisited and reviewed!

REO SPEEDWAGON/The Classic Years 1978-1990 (box) review!

Back in when I was a teenager, I thought I knew the difference between good and bad music. In my twisted late ‘70s teenage way of thinking, I thought that bands with skinny ties and Rickenbackers were the good guys and bands with moustaches and mullets were messengers of the devil. Yeah, like any 14 or 15 year old, I thought I had a clue. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I realized that I had been wrong about a lot of things – especially music. And since 1981, I’ve tried to make up for my discretions by choosing to search for the lost chord, investigating new artists and styles while revisiting the bands I once scoffed at.  For example, I once thought that AOR (AKA Stadium Rock and/or Melodic Rock) was predictable and repetitious. I thought it was simply rock-by-numbers and that none of those bands could write an original song or riff to save their lives. But then, I took a hard look at the New Wave and Power Pop that I was listening to and realized that many of my favorite bands were at least partially guilty of the same thing. And then I looked at Country, Jazz, Folk and every other genre and was overwhelmed by the fact that what I had initially heard as derivative was actually just updating and carrying the music forward for a new generation. And with that breakthrough in my thought process, I was able to enjoy – and often love – bands like Journey, Foreigner, Survivor and REO Speedwagon. But don’t get me wrong – I’m still fully devoted to the Power Pop and New Wave I’ve loved since 1977. I just like to think that my tastes are much more varied than the casual music fan. OK, I’ll admit it – I’m a ‘music nerd’. Whatever that is… […]

By | April 18th, 2019|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on REO SPEEDWAGON/The Classic Years 1978-1990 (box) review!