Thursday, January 31, 2019

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Dr. Demento's Punk Progeny

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Feb. 1, 2018

I’m a longtime fan of Barret Hansen, aka Dr. Demento, even though I never figured out what the difference between a “dementoid” and a “dementite” is, or which one applies to me.

So it’s probably not a huge surprise to learn that I’m also a fan of Dr. Demento Covered in Punk, a new tribute album featuring many of the oddball ditties as well as many of the artists who graced — or disgraced — his wacky weekly radio show.

Hansen is not a practicing physician. And he’s not a Ph.D., though he does have a master’s degree in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. He’s written serious pieces about music for serious publications, including Downbeat and Rolling Stone — and no, not about the history of fart jokes in 20th-century song. Despite his goofball persona, the guy knows his stuff when it comes to music.

According to song and legend, Dr. Demento earned his nickname back in the early ’70s when another DJ called him “demented” for playing the black-humor rockabilly classic “Transfusion” by Nervous Norvus on his show.

Embracing his inner weirdness — and frequently his inner corniness — the young doctor created a unique format that included novelty records old and new, song parodies, spoken-word comedy, outsider music, and, by the mid-’70s, a good smattering of punk rock.

On an October 1976 show that also included tracks by Spike Jones, Bobby “Boris” Pickett (but not The Monster Mash), The Mothers of Invention, Fats Waller, and Captain Beefheart, Demento played “Beat on the Brat” by The Ramones for the first time. He soon began playing the likes of The Sex Pistols, Devo, The Misfits, The Cramps, The Dead Kennedys, The Dead Milkmen, and others.

Demento’s syndicated show was one of the few national broadcast outlets that would play anything by many of these acts, one of the few safe harbors for punks in the putrid sea of commercial radio.

“It’s often been said that punk rock began as a reaction to the bloated corporate rock scene that had taken hold in the 1970s,” Hansen says between songs on Covered in Punk. “And you could say the same about the Dr. Demento Show as well. The Ramones wanted to bring back the youthful spirit of fun that had gone missing from the airwaves. And so did I.”

Covered in Punk is like an extended Dr. Demento radio show, with versions of his familiar opening and closing themes, celebrity promos — “Hi, I’m Tom Lehrer and you’re lucky enough to be listening to The Dr. Demento Show” — and Demento himself doing intros and outros after every couple of songs or so.

Some of the best songs here include “Surfin’ Bird,” covered by that “wascally wabbit” Nobunny (who also does a decent cover of “Monster,” originally performed by B-52s strongman Fred Schneider); Roky Erickson’s “Creature With the Atom Brain,” sung here by Quintron & Miss Pussycat; Balzac, a Japanese band, covering “Rat Fink,” an Allan Sherman tune; Los Straitjackets covering the definitive Alfred E. Newman instrumental “It’s a Gas” (which originally was available on a flexi-disc insert in an issue of Mad magazine); and The Meatmen doing Frank Zappa’s “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama.”

I am not a huge fan of Weird Al Yankovic, the song parodist who is Dr. Demento’s most famous discovery. But I have to admit that I totally love his faithful, joyful cover of The Ramones’ “Beat on the Brat.” I’m glad he didn’t turn the song into some crappy parody. Eat on the Bratwurst? Build a Wall with Slats?

And three songs that I consider the holy trinity of Dementoland are represented here. The Bizarro World anthem “Fish Heads” — originally by a group called Barnes and Barnes (Billy Mumy, who played Will Robinson in TV’s Lost in Space was one of the Barneses, but I’m not sure which) — gets punked up by the band Osaka Popstar. (Guitarist John Cafiero also produced this tribute album.) The comically overwrought “Dead Puppies” also gets a punk-rock makeover by James Kochalka Superstar, a band led by comic-book artist Kochalka.

And “Shaving Cream,” Borscht-belter Benny Bell’s 1946 masterpiece, gets not one but two versions on this collection, both by East Coast kiddy-show host Uncle Floyd Vivino. The first has updated, punk-related lyrics (the singer steps in a pile of ... shaving cream in a mosh pit, etc.) while the reprise has the original Bell lyrics. Both are done as a thunderous waltz, featuring Vivino’s straight-outta-Shakey’s Pizza rinky-tinky piano.

But the greatest track on Covered in Punk is “Garbage Man,” sung by the grand master of the Golden Throats, Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. Shatner bellows, growls, and over-emotes the lyrics over a fuzzy Peter Gunn guitar. “Do you understand? I’m the garbage man!!” It’s true that Shatner’s “musical career” was funnier back when he didn’t understand that people were laughing at his versions of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” But even though he’s in on the joke these days, he’s still Shatner. It’s so crazy, it’s magical.

It would be a huge exaggeration to call Dr. Demento a major figure in the punk-rock history. But show me a punk rocker who doesn’t like “Shaving Cream” or “Fish Heads” or “Dead Puppies,” and I’ll show you a humorless stiff who shouldn’t be allowed around other people.

Here are a buncha the songs from Covered in Punk

Here's Roky Erickson's "Creature With the Atom Brain."

There's a monster in Nobunny's rabbit mask

Weird Al does The Ramones

In the port of Amsterdam, where the sailors all meet, there's a sailor who eats only fish heads and tails ...

But there is not, nor will there ever be a singer as spectacular as Shatner!

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Happy Birthday Alan Lomax!

Alan Lomax in 1948

Once again, it's the birthday of Alan Lomax, the great ethnomusicologist  whose field recordings, especially those he did in the American South, helped change our understanding of American music. He was born on this day in Austin, Texas in 1915.

A couple of years ago, I wrote this:

Lomax, following in the footsteps of his father, John Lomax, was a musicologist who, beginning in the 1930s, traveled through the South -- to plantations, prisons, backwood churches, Louisana fai do-dos -- recording thousands of wild, raw songs and stories of the people that you didn't hear on the radio. John and Alan Lomax helped establish the Library of Congress’ Archive of American Folk Song.

Through the years Alan Lomax would cross paths with some of the most revered names in folk, blues, jazz and hillbilly music. He recorded McKinley Morganfield -- later to become known as Muddy Waters -- recording him playing acoustic blues while he was still living on Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was the first to record Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie. He also did sessions with Jelly Roll Morton, Reverend Gary Davis,  Big Bill Broonzy and Missisippi Fred McDowell.

So here's another smattering of Lomax recordings that help remind us of the richness of American folk music -- as performed by the folks.

Here's some Dock Boggs, recorded in 1966

Here's Jelly Roll Morton discussing and demonstrating the music of Mardi Gras Indians in 1938.

A gospel tune from Mississippi Fred McDowell

A man called Muddy ...

And here's some Cajun fiddling from the great Dennis McGee with Sady Courville

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Climb Up on This Podcast!


I may be going out on a limb here, but I do believe this spruced-up weirdness could turn out to be one of my most poplar Big Enchilada episodes ever. We'll get down to the roots of rock 'n' roll with a little rockabilly from Andy Anderson (a former New Mexico resident!) and branch out into some crazy garage-rock sounds and a few nutty novelty tunes. So no more acorny jokes, let's get on with the music!

And remember, The Big Enchilada is officially listed in the iTunes store. So go subscribe, if you haven't already (and gimme a good rating and review if you're so inclined.) Thanks. 


Here's the playlist:

(Background Music: Chestnut Trees and Bumble Bees by Satan's Pilgrims)
Tall Oak Tree by Andy Anderson
The Other Side of This Life by The Mal Thursday Quintet
Cinderella by The Flesh Eaters
Blood on the Track by St. Louis & The Walking Dead
No Count (Lost Sounds) by Space Trees
Shaving Cream by Uncle Floyd Vivino & Oogie
Everybody Wants My Fanny by Benny Bell

(Background Music: I Ate Up the Apple Tree by Kermit Ruffins
Palm Trees, Sun and Parking Lots by The Terrorists
Black Metal by Reverend Beat-Man & Nicole Izobel Garcia
Gangsters by The Dustaphonics
No Sex by Alex Chilton
Garbage Man by William Shatner

(Background Music: A Broken Road Lined with Poplar Trees by A Hawk & A Hacksaw)
Cutting Trees by Left Lane Cruiser
Tough Guy by Phil Hayes & The Trees
Spike Heels by Wayne Kramer
Ain't Worth the Time by Thee Dagger Debs
Good and Well by Fezz
(Background Music: Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree by ProSound Karaoke Band)

Play it HERE:

Sunday, January 27, 2019


Sunday, January 27, 2019
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Diddy Wah Diddy by Ty Segal Band
Monster by Nobunny
She's Obsessed With Herself by The Ar-Kaics
Valium Queen by The Vagoos
I'll Take Care of You by Reverend Beat-Man & Izobel Garcia
Angel Baby by Rosie & The Originals
House Amid the Thickets by The Flesh Eaters
Don't Freak Me Out by The Darts
Acid Books by The Callas with Lee Ranaldo

Ride That Train by The Oblivians
Archive from 1959 by The Buff Medways
Don't Want You Either by The Mal Thursday Quintet
Garbagehead by Eric Ambel
Baby Please Don't Go by Them
We're All Water by Yoko Ono & Elephant's Memory

Duck for the Oyster by Malcolm McLaren
Touch and Go by The Fleshtones
Night and Fog by Mudhoney
My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama by The Meatmen
Orange County Lumber Truck by Frank Zappa
Thomas Dorsey by Johnny Dowd
Hillbilly Bop by Martha Fields
Der Stampfer by Dirk Geil
What Makes You Think You're the One by Twilight Singers

Keep Movin' by Freddie Cannon & The Gears
Dirty Water Land by Salty Pajamas
Headstrong by Phil Hayes & The Trees
The Man from Another Time by Seasick Steve
Deerslayer by DBUK
(Out on the Street) Junk is Still King by Gary Heffern
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Want to keep the party going after I sign off at midnight?
Go to The Big Enchilada Podcast which has hours and hours of music like this.

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast CLICK HERE

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday, Malcolm McLaren

Malcolm McLaren with Vivienne Westwood
Yesterday would have been Malcolm McLaren's 73rd birthday. But he died in 2010 at the age of 64.

Happy birthday, Rock 'n' Roll Swindler!

McLaren was best known as the flamboyant, provocative manager of The Sex Pistols. Before then he
and his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood owned a store in Chelsea, West London called Let It Rock, which specialized in Teddy-Boy apparel.

The New York Times, in its obituary for McLaren, wrote, "After the New York Dolls visited the store, renamed Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die, Mr. McLaren followed the group to the United States and became its manager. He dressed the band members in red clothing based on the Soviet flag, placed politically provocative slogans onstage and presided over their swift demise."

And then came The Sex Pistols ...

After the Pistols imploded, McLaren worked with bands like Adam & The Ants and Bow Wow Wow.

But he also embarked on a solo career of his own. His first solo album, Duck Rock (1983) featured a ouple of hip-hop DJs, South African-style music (years before Paul Simon) and even a little hillbilly music in the mix. It was wacky, but unforgettable.

Here are some of my favorite McLaren songs.

My second or third grade class at Nichols Hills Elementary School in Oklahoma City did a square dance to this one. It was a different version though ...

Speaking of square dancing ...

In have reason to believe, this will never be received in Graceland

All the above songs were from Duck Rock. The final one though is from his second album Fans, on which McLaren updated songs from actual operas. His take on "Madam Butterfly" with vocals by Debbie Cole and  Betty Ann White (that beautiful soprano that seems to come out of nowhere.)

Sunday, January 20, 2019


Sunday, January 20, 2019
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Garbage Man by William Shatner
Burn She Devil Burn by The Cramps
I Want You by Hollywood Sinners
Teenage Barbarian by Rattanson
Ray Gun Suitcase by Pere Ubu
Waves of Fear by Lou Reed
I Never Told You by Reverend Beat-Man & Izobel Garcia
Broke Joke by Ghost Wolves
Hate to See You Cry by The Reverend Horton Heat
Are You a Wally by The Spartan Dreggs

Child of The Falling Star by Stephen W. Terrell
Beat the Devil's Tattoo by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Twitch by The Vagoos
The Wedding Dice by The Flesh Eaters
Used to Be Cool by The Sons of Hercules
Dark Soul of the Night by Fascinating
I Hope You OD by Bad Mojos
96 Tears by Big Maybelle

Cheap Shot by Monkeyshines
Necrophiliac in Love by The Blood-Drained Cows
Mr. Punk Rock Voo-Doo Man by The Hickoids
Where Were You by The Mekons
Surfin' Bird by NoBunny
Family Picnic by Johnny Dowd
Gloria by St. Louis & The Walking Dead
Punk Slime by The Black Lips
I Love Paris by The Robins

Chameleon by Sleeve Cannon
Indigo Meadow by The Black Angels
Huggin' the Line by James Leg
Can't You See by Henry Townsend
Griselda by The Unholy Modal Rounders
It Feels So Good to Love Someone Like You by Terrence Trent D'Arby
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Want to keep the party going after I sign off at midnight?
Go to The Big Enchilada Podcast which has hours and hours of music like this.

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast CLICK HERE

Thursday, January 17, 2019

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Postcards from Patti

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Jan. 18, 2018

"You gotta know how to pony ..."

“I hold the key to the sea of possibilities ...”

“Outside of society if you’re looking/That’s where you’ll find me ...”

“Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine ...”

This is just a tiny sampling of the lyrics of Patti Smith, just a brief glimpse of the wild incantations that spoke directly to my twenty-something self. With the help of her devastating band, especially guitarist Lenny Kaye, Patti brought me new faith in rock ’n’ roll — which, by 1975, when her first album, Horses, was released, had for the most part gotten soft and tired. Patti’s lyrics were mystical battle cries for rebellious souls who’d been wondering where all the rebellion had gone.

Back in the post-Watergate era, she made good on the promise that Janis Joplin couldn’t keep: “I’m gonna show ya, baby, that a woman can be tough.” She carjacked Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1,000 Dances,” shouting, “Seize the possibility!” And those of us who heard the urgency of her call could never understand why others could ever dig Frampton Comes Alive!.

Patti comes to Santa Fe on Saturday, Jan. 19. No, it’s not going to be a crazy rocking concert like the one she did under a big tent next to SITE Santa Fe with her band in the summer of 1997. She’ll be reading passages from her recent books — Devotion, M Train (which I’ve read and recommend), and Just Kids. The Jan. 19 event at the Lensic Performing Arts Center is being billed as an “evening of stories (and an acapella song or two) about love, loss, art, and New York City.”

(Bad news for us procrastinators: The show has been sold out.)

But back to the old daze: After I graduated from college in 1976, I decided I should announce my arrival to the “real world” by sending jackalope postcards to the three people I admired the most — Rodney Dangerfield, Billy Carter (the beer-drinking good old boy brother of Jimmy Carter, who’d just been elected president), and of course, Patti Smith. I don’t quite remember the logic behind this weird stunt, if indeed there was any. It just seemed like a cool thing to do.

Amazingly, all three of my postcards got responses. Rodney, or at least someone in his official fan club, sent me an autographed glossy black-and-white publicity photo. Billy sent me a postcard featuring a color photo of himself holding a beer can, naturally, at the gas pumps of the service station he ran in Plains, Georgia.

But Patti sent me the coolest response of all. It was a plain white postcard with a sticker for her then-latest album, Radio Ethiopia (still my favorite Smith album, though most critics disagree), and a handwritten personal message. “Dear Friend S.S.,” it began. She’d gotten my last name wrong — blame my “alternative penmanship” — addressing her card to “Stephen Sevele.”

She continued, “Thanks for the Jackalope ... Is real cool.” (I knew she’d understand! Then she addressed a question I’d asked her on my card.) “Bull Dog Brawer is my favorite wrestler,” she said, referring to Richard Gland, who wrestled under the name of Dick “Bulldog” Brower. “I think wrestling is a lot like Blue Oyster Cult … Happy maniac energy.”

Then Patti spoke of an accident she’d recently had on stage: “I’m recovering from Olympic injuries. Send spinal energy. XXX Patti Smith.”

Those “Olympic injuries” were no joke. On Jan. 23, 1977 — 42 years ago next week! — when opening for Bob Seger (!) in Tampa, Smith tripped on a sound monitor and fell from the stage, a drop of about 15 feet, into the orchestra pit, leaving her with a fractured spine and broken vertebrae in her neck. In 2012 she told Uncut magazine that she still suffers from those injuries. “My neck,” she said. “I still get discomfort, spinal discomfort. It’s nothing I can’t live with.”

I sent her a couple more postcards, and she replied, though the responses got shorter and shorter. I still treasure the note in which she wrote the phrase “Tongue of Love” on a green slip of paper. I display it in my front room, right with the autograph from Wilson Pickett I got a few years later. Both are sacred talismans, chiding me because I never learned how to pony (like Bony Maroney), as the song goes.

Though she’s never matched the impact and intensity of her first three albums in the ’70s (the two mentioned above plus Easter, released in 1978), I’ve remained a fan. I’ve seen her live three times — in New York and in Santa Fe in 1997, then in Austin during South by Southwest in 2000. Each of those were full of what only can be described as “happy maniac energy,” on the part of Patti, her band, and her audience.

Sure, I’d much rather see Patti the rocker, making thunder with Lenny and the boys, than politely listen to a sedate poetry reading.

But this lady is a true artist. She’s seventy-two years old and has given her heart and soul to rock ’n’ roll. She’s long ago earned the right to present her visions any way she sees fit. We all should feel lucky that she’s still out there, sailing the sea of possibilities.

Here's a Patti primer on Spotify

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Classic Rock from Playboy After Dark

Back in 1969, Hugh Hefner was not yet a dirty old man. He was a dirty middle-aged man.

But while the pipe-smoking, tuxedo-wearing head of the Playboy empire didn't seem at place in the wild and woolly rock 'n' roll world of the day, Heff was responsible for one of the one of the best television platforms for rock 'n' roll during the brief (1969-70) run of his syndicated TV show,  Playboy After Dark.

Sure, the show featured appearances by Sammy Davis, Jr. and various lounge lizards like Jack Jones, Buddy Greco and Gloria Loring `- singers who weren't even invited to Woodstock. But it also featured a lot of truly hip acts of the day who you rarely, if ever saw anywhere else on TV back then.

Plus, it was kind of fun seeing the likes of Doug Sahm, Roger McGuinn, James Brown and other counter culture greats schmoozing with Heff, Barbie Benton, various bunnies and other Playboy types.

Here are some of those performances.

Let's start with the mighty Steppenwolf

The Byrds, during their Sweetheart of the Rodeo era (sorry, it's post-Gram Parsons)

Some Chicago blues with James Cotton & Luther Tucker

Two words: James Brown!

And here's The Sir Douglas Quintet

More Playboy After Dark clips (plus some from Heff's earlier TV foray, Playboy's Penthouse)  can be found HERE

Sunday, January 13, 2019


Sunday, January 13, 2019
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Bears by The Royal Guardsmen
21st Century Pharisees by Mudhoney
(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet by The Blues Magoos
Black Blood in the Misissippi Mud by Black Blood & Chocolate Pickles
Pony Dress by The Flesheaters
Stuttering Wind by Johnny Dowd
Blood on the Track by St. Louis & The Walking Dead
No Smoke Without Fire by Sir Bald Diddley
Talk Talk by The Chocolate Watchband
Daddy Was a Preacher, Mama Was a Go-Go Girl by Southern Culture on the Skids

Someone Greased the Fat Man by Dean Ween Group
Penny & The Young Buck by The Gluey Brothers
Three Cool Cats by The Beatles
Brazil by The Coasters
Sinnerman by Esquerita
The House of the Rising Sun by Nina Simone
It is or It Ain't by Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

Patti Smith set 
Ain't It Strange
The Boy in the Bubble
25th Floor
High on Rebellion
Distant Fingers
Gone Again

All Night Cowboy by The Legendary Stardust Cowboy
Alley Strut by Henry Townsend
Angel Meat by Sean Healen
Hurry It Up by Eric Hisaw
More Poor People by Justice Seven
Make a Little Love by Alex Chilton
Bonnie Clyde by DBUK
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Like the Terrell's Sound World Facebook page

Want to keep the party going after I sign off at midnight?
Go to The Big Enchilada Podcast which has hours and hours of music like this.

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast CLICK HERE

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Puddles Does Presley

Yesterday was the birthday of Elvis Presley.

Happy birthday, King!

Many artists have covered Elvis songs. Some otherwise unknown singers have made careers as Elvis impersonators.

But none have done it with the weird grace of the performer who goes by the handle of "Puddles Pity Party." Cruising YouTube yesterday, hoping to find some "funny" Elvis covers, I discovered that this clown has covered several Presley tunes.

I bet Elvis would have gotten a huge kick out of these,

So enjoy ...

I've had nightmares similar to this one

Sunday, January 06, 2019


Sunday, January 6, 2019
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
(Many, actually most, of tonight's selections are from my Best of 2018 list.)
The Beast is You by The Electric Mess
Spiders by Harlan T. Bobo
Far Out by The Vagoos
Nothing but a Cliche by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Fire Walk With Me by Archie & The Bunkers
A Meaningless Conversation by Thought Gang
I'm Hurtin' by Cedric Burnside
Rain and Snow by J.D. Wilkes
I'll Pick Up My Heart and Go Home by Lily Meola

Don't Tell Jesus by The Devils
Take Off Your Clothes by The Goon Mat & Lord Bernardo
Liberty Valence by Carbon Silicon
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence by Gene Pitney
I'm Home Gettin' Hammered While She's Out Gettin' Nailed by Jesse Dayton
Snake Farm by Ray Wylie Hubbard
Drip Drop by Dion
Never Learn Not to Love by The New Surfsiders
Last Meal by Big Bill

Mirrior by The Callas With Lee Renaldo
Four Chambered Heart/Marquis Moon by Charlie Pickett
I Can't Get No Ride by Barrence Whitfield & The Savages
Ghost by Jon Spencer
Sick  'n' Tired by The Ar-Kaics
I Have Enough by Reverend Beat-Man
New Ways to Fail by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
I Ride an Old Paint by Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs

Moon Bog by Thee Oh Sees
Young Men Dead by The Black Angels
Too High by Hamell on Trial
That's Why They Call It Temptation by Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis
Tennessee Blues by Bobby Charles
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Like the Terrell's Sound World Facebook page

Want to keep the party going after I sign off at midnight?
Go to The Big Enchilada Podcast which has hours and hours of music like this.

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast CLICK HERE

Thursday, January 03, 2019

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Best Albums of 2018

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Jan. 4, 2018

Here is a list of my favorite albums released in 2018.

* The Difference Between Me & You by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. Longtime fans of young Black Joe should immediately realize that this record is a back-to-basics move for this Austin band. The Honeybears still have their excellent funky horn section, and a handful of songs here are closer to sweet soul ballads than rump-rousing rock. But the overall sound of Difference is raw and rowdy, with roots stretching back to Bo Diddley and Howlin’ Wolf.

* The Night Guy at the Apocalypse Profiles of a Rushing Midnight by Hamell on Trial. This basically is a song cycle by singer/songwriter Ed Hamell centered around a fictional hardcore dive called The Apocalypse, which is populated by drunks, drug addicts, backdoor beauties, angel-headed hipsters, small-time criminals, and tough guys. It’s a lo-fi affair recorded in its entirety on Hamell’s iPhone in various locales.

* Songs from the Lodge by Archie and the Bunkers. Kids these days, conventional wisdom goes, don’t love rock ’n’ roll like we did when I was a lad. But not these two teenage brothers from Cleveland. Drummer Emmett and organ player Cullen O’Connor have a unique high-energy sound they call “hi-fi organ punk.” Plus, they do a couple of songs here about Twin Peaks: “Fire Walk With Me” and “Laura.” These kids not only have talent, they have taste.

* Thought Gang by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti. Speaking of Twin Peaks, this album — full of avant-garde jazz, synthesized rumblings, and sinister beatnik-style poetry — is required listening for anyone who claims to be a fan of David Lynch and his musical henchman Angelo Badalamenti. Recorded in the early 1990s, the music is spooky, unsettling, and sometimes even funny.

* See You in Miami by Charlie Pickett. This guitar singer from Florida had an enthusiastic regional following back in the early-to mid-’80s, but he jettisoned his musical career to become a lawyer in Miami. This album, Pickett’s first original-material release in decades, picks right up from his ’80s
heyday. He still does songs that sound like ZZ Top trying to rewrite The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street.

* Wild! Wild! Wild! by Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis. Fulks takes a break from the heaviness of his recent work and tears up the honky tonk with a boogie-woogie country gal on this duet album with rockabilly royal Lewis. And Lordy, it’s fun. Wild! is full of rockabilly romps, country weepers, blue-eyed soul, bouncy blues, sweet harmonies, drinkin’ songs, cheatin’ songs ... the sounds that made America a beacon of the free world.

* Benton County Relic by Cedric Burnside. If anyone thought that Mississippi Hill Country blues died with R.L. Burnside — or T-Model Ford or Junior Kimbrough or Paul “Wine” Jones — get your ears on this album and think again. Cedric, who is R.L.’s grandson (and former drummer) has those
blues in his blood. Like the work of all those ascended masters, Cedric’s music is rough, raw, and sometimes hypnotic. Somewhere up above, R.L. is looking down smiling, saying, “Well, well, well ...”

* Years by Sarah Shook & the Disarmers. I was somewhat apprehensive when I got a copy of this album. How could it be anywhere as good as her debut, Sidelong, coming just a year later? Am I bound to be disappointed? But I wasn’t. Her sophomore effort is full of impressive tunes about love gone sour. But there is little, if any, confessional self-pity. Shook’s confidence, pride, and humor frequently shine through the heartache.

* A History of Violence by Harlan T. Bobo. Despite all the songs about romance gone wrong and the tensions between a man and a woman — and the fact that the Memphis rocker got divorced between his previous album and this one, Bobo has said this is not a breakup album. Either way, the songs here are packed with frustration, desperation, and loneliness. And some of the hardest rocking tunes are obviously dark fantasies of wanton violence.

* King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller by various artists. It’s true that most tribute albums suck the warts. But partly because Miller really was one of the greatest songwriters to ever live — and partly because of the caliber of the talent that producer (and Roger’s son) Dean Miller has
wrangled for this project — nearly every track is a winner. The songs capture Roger’s wide emotional range: the funny tunes, cool anthems, honky-tonk stompers, and surprisingly powerful heartache songs. Standout tracks include the stunning bluegrass cover of “When Two Worlds Collide” by the female-fronted band Flatt Lonesome; a soulful take on a little-known Miller song called “I’ll Pick Up My Heart and Go Home” by Lily Meola; “The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me,” by Dolly Parton and featuring Alison Krauss; and the slow, jazzy “Lock, Stock, and Teardrops” by Mandy Barnett.

Honorable mentions (Damn! There really were a lot of fine albums released last year):

Spencer Sings the Hits by Jon Spencer

The Beast Is You by The Electric Mess

Psychic Action by The Vagoos

Clippety Clop by Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs

Trouble and Desire by The Callas with Lee Ranaldo

Blues Trash by The Reverend Beat Man & The New Wave

Soul Flowers of Titan by Barrence Whitfield & The Savages

Fire Dream by J.D. Wilkes

Smote Reverser by Thee Oh Sees

In This Time by The Ar-Kaics

UPDATED Jan. 6, 2019: Here's a Spotify playlist with 2 songs each from the Top 10 albums and one each from the "honorable mentions" (except Holly Golightly's, which isn't available on Spotify)

THROWBACK THURSDAY: These Are People Who Died (in 2018)

Here's a dozen of the major musicians who slipped the surly bounds of Earth in 2018.

Their music lives.

Blues/soul singer Denise LaSalle left us on Jan. 8 last year.

"Hugh Masekela's music was black as night," sang Eric Burdon in The Animals' hit "Monterrey." Here is part of the South African jazz trumpeter's performance at the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival that inspired Burdon -- and countless others. Hugh died on Jan. 23, 2018.

Nokie Edwards, lead guitarist of The Ventures, died March 13, 2018.

Jazz piano giant Cecil Taylor died April 5, 2018. Here's a 1984 performance with the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

Elvis Presley's original drummer D.J. Fontana ascended on June 13, 2018. Here he is with Elvis (and Scotty and Bill) on The Milton Berle Show in 1956.

Lorrie Collins of the rockabilly duo The Collins Kids died on Aug. 4, 2018. Here she is with little brother Larry in 1958.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul went to sing with the angels on Aug. 16

Marty Balin, one of the singers in the Jefferson Airplane flew to Heaven on Sept. 27, 2018. Here he is at Woodstock in 1969, sharing vocal duties with Grace Slick.

The gators never got Tony Joe White. He escaped to the Hoodoo After-world on Oct. 24, 2018.

Country singer, who went to that great honky tonk in the sky on Oct. 27, 2018, was making music decades before he did this country hit in the early '70s. It was his biggest hit, and the song I remember him by.

Roy Clark has been pickin' and grinnin' at the feet of God since Nov. 15, 2018.

Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks died way too soon on Dec. 6, 2018


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