SCOTTY BAKER: Introducing The Band

     When one thinks of Australian music, Rockabilly is not the first musical style that comes to mind. People outside of Oz may initially think of AC/DC’s Hard Rock riffage or Men At Work’s breezy New Wave/Pop but very few know about the Land Down Under’s affection for Country and Roots music. While many Aussie artists are influenced by traditional Australian Roots and Folk alongside ‘foreign’ sounds from the UK and America, there are those that go straight for the jugular and delve into the musical roots of American Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Singer/songwriter Scotty Baker is one of those artists.
     Somewhere between the time Country & Western Music became a phenomenon in the early 1950s and the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll at the midpoint of that decade, Rockabilly was born. Essentially a combination of the sounds of Rock and Hillbilly music (hence the name), Rockabilly became the breeding ground for hundreds of artists including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and other artists signed to Sun Records (and other independent labels across the U.S.). These are the artists that inform the music of Scotty Baker and his fabulous new album LADY KILLER, an emotionally charged slice of Rockabilly that feels authentic, passionate and full of energy. Like his first two albums – JUST LIKE THAT (2010) and I’M CALLING IT (2014) – LADY KILLER is filled with fantastic songs straight from the pen of Baker himself. While most would compare him to early Johnny Cash (and rightly so), his music also possesses the emotional depth of Roy Orbison, which is perhaps the most important aspect of his recordings. Scotty Baker doesn’t just play Rockabilly or Country – he lives within the music he creates. He is an artist that adds his own stamp to the tried and true Rockabilly formula and truly shines in the process. LADY KILLER is a Rockabilly treasure that comes from the heart and that is what makes it special.
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to send off some questions to Scotty, who graciously took the time to answer them.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: NEIL FINN/OUT OF SILENCE

It has been forty years since Neil Finn made his recorded debut on Split Enz’s 1977 album DIZRHYTHMIA. Although he only provided guitar and backing vocals to that album, he certainly
made his presence known. His own compositions started showing up in 1979 on the band’s FRENZY album. While his big brother Tim handled a bulk of the Enz’s material, it was Neil who penned their first global hit, “I Got You,” which was released in 1980 on the TRUE COLOURS album. Over the course of the next few Enz albums, Neil wrote more highlights including “One Step
Ahead” and “Message To My Girl.”

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BRUCE COCKBURN/BONE ON BONE

BONE ON BONE is the highly anticipated 2017 album from Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn. The album is his first in six years and is the follow-up to 2011’s SMALL SOURCE OF COMFORT. His 25th studio album overall, BONE ON BONE finds Bruce Cockburn at ease as a musician but ill at ease with the world. For those familiar with Cockburn’s work over the years, this may seem like nothing new. However, BONE ON BONE finds Bruce at the top of his game. And for an artist that has been releasing albums for nearly 50 years, this is quite a feat.  Mixing Folk and Blues, the album is warm, intimate and filled with songs that are destined to become Cockburn classics. Amongst the Folk Blues stomp of songs like “States I’m In” (the first single) and “Café Society” is “Forty Years In The Wilderness”, one of the loveliest songs he’s ever written.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: CHARLIE PARR/DOG

 

     Singer/songwriter Charlie Parr has returned with an album that mixes his Folk roots with plenty of heart and soul. Although he may sometimes write as an observer, his songs put him square in the eye of the storm. Parr writes songs that are extremely personal yet universal at the same time.  Listening to DOG, you’ll stumble across people that you feel that you already know, places that you are sure you’ve been and feelings that you most definitely have experienced.  This is a world where both feet are firmly planted on the ground. You can feel the heat of the sun and smell the beer-soaked floorboards. This is an album that pulls no punches.  Life is hard and then you die but in between, there is light in the darkness. However, that light may be only fleeting at times. But that is understandable because Charlie experienced some truly dark moments before making the album.

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TODD RUNDGREN: An EXCLUSIVE interview!

LET’S DO THIS:
Todd Rundgren talks about WHITE KNIGHT
Todd Rundgren needs no introduction. His ‘legendary’/‘iconic’ status is well-deserved. End of story.
WHITE KNIGHT, Todd’s 2017 release, finds Rundgren continuing to move forward, but this time he’s brought a few of his musical friends with him. While technically an album of collaborations, WHITE KNIGHT is most certainly not a ‘duets’ album… in the traditional sense, anyway. Every guest on the album – including Daryl Hall, Robyn, Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Joe Walsh, Trent Reznor, Joe Satriani, Moe Berg (The
Pursuit Of Happiness
), John Boutte and others – brings their own personality to the party, making each track feel different from the last. While Rundgren may be the name on the album cover, he allows every collaborator to make their presence known. Totally modern and relevant, WHITE KNIGHT still features Todd’s distinct musical thumbprint and is a pleasure from start to finish.

Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to track Todd down while on tour and have a chat about WHITE KNIGHT and the magic behind it…

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JUSTIN HAYWARD/Moving Mountains (reissue) reviewed!

While not the only lead vocalist in The Moody Blues, Justin Hayward is the most recognizable. His silky smooth voice can be heard on nearly all of their hits including “Nights In White Satin,” “Your Wildest Dreams,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” “The Voice,” and many others. One of Rock’s finest front men, Justin Hayward has also released a handful of fantastic solo albums over the years that have come and gone without much notice by commercial audiences. That is definitely a shame since Hayward always has something interesting to say and he has a lovely way of saying it.

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ROBYN HITCHCOCK: An EXCLUSIVE interview!

Always Pistachio:

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your self-titled album is about to be released. How are you feeling about the journey to make this album and the reaction to it so far?
ROBYN HITCHCOCK: Well, the people that normally like my records like this one, so far. And that’s it really – if you like this one, you’ll probably like the others. If not, I’m not your flavor. That’s why the record is simply my name. The journey? Well it was the lucky coincidence of my moving to Nashville at the same point that Brendan Benson was getting in touch, asking if I’d like to come and record with him there.

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COLIN HAY/Fierce Mercy album review!

Colin Hay is a rarity in the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He achieved great success out of the gate 35 years ago while leader of Men At Work (“Who Can It Be Now?,” “Down Under,” “Overkill”) but had to pursue a career as a solo artist once the band split in ’86. In 1987, he ventured out as Colin James Hay with the LOOKING FOR JACK album but struggled to maintain success. Next came the Colin Hay Band’s 1990 album WAYFARING SONS, which didn’t fare any better. In 1992, he released PEAKS & VALLEYS, the first in a series of solo albums that would slowly rebuild his career from scratch. Now, three and one-half decades after hitting #1 with Men At Work’s BUSINESS AS USUAL album, Hay is at his peak as a songwriter and vocalist and he shows no signs of slowing down. FIERCE MERCY is proof that he is one of this generation’s finest songwriters. While his hits with Men At Work may have been more ‘immediate’ on first listen, his songwriting is deeper, more passionate and better than ever on this 2017 album. Like his last release, 2015’s NEXT YEAR PEOPLE, this is an album filled with songs that are warm, intimate and emotional. Whether he is singing from experience or as an observer, Hay always connects with the subject matter and it all sounds so personal, which adds to the songs’ power. Lead-in track “Come Tumbling Down” is a sing-a-long that prepares you for the roller-coaster ride of emotions that weave in and out of the rest of the album. “A Thousand Million Reasons,” “The Best In Me,” “The Last To Know” and “Secret Love” are some of the best songs that Hay has ever written or co-written (with Michael Georgiades and others). “Two Friends” (written by Georgiades) features one of Hay’s finest vocal performances to date. Never one to live in his past, Colin Hay has creatively risen above his previous success and recorded what could be his finest musical work to date. Again, Colin Hay has proven that he leaves pretty much all of his contemporaries in the dust. FIERCE MERCY is a lovely, heartfelt album that will stand the test of time. If you stopped listening after the CARGO album, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

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An EXCLUSIVE Q&A WITH WESLEY STACE (aka JOHN WESLEY HARDING)

wsnewpromo1

DAVE RAYBURN: The new album is titled WESLEY STACE’S JOHN WESLEY HARDING, and is your second record under your given name that you’ve reverted back to. I understand that, among several factors involved in choosing the title, there was a bit of a nod to Jeff Lynne in the mix. Can you elaborate?
WESLEY STACE: I can. My last album, SELF-TITLED, was the first released under my real name, Wesley Stace, but I felt the word didn’t quite get out, so I thought it was worth clarifying. Secondly, I happened to see the new version of ELO. For whatever legal reason, they are billed as “Jeff Lynne’s ELO”, presumably partly to differentiate it from any other rogue version of ELO. This reminded me that, though I had, in a sense, broken up John Wesley Harding, I didn’t want any interlopers touring under that name, playing my songs and pretending to be me, when I was elsewhere being me too, playing those same songs (better). With WESLEY STACE’S JOHN WESLEY HARDING, I am reminding you that this version of John Wesley Harding is the only version that counts. And finally, I wanted to differentiate myself, once and for all, from the Bob Dylan album of the same name. I have many times been mistaken for this album, due to a certain similarities between the name of this artifact, an LP from 1967 made of vinyl and cardboard, JOHN WESLEY HARDING, and my erstwhile performing name, John Wesley Harding. Obviously, it’s a ridiculous mistake, but still. So this isn’t Bob Dylan’s JOHN WESLEY HARDING; it’s Wesley Stace’s JOHN WESLEY HARDING.

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Introducing The Band: RAY MASON

08/25/05 Holyoke Mason- Musican Ray Mason sits with his guitar in between sets at Herrell's Mill Cafe in the Open Square building in Holyoke on Thursday. CUTLINE: 3/6/08 - "It certainly can hurt financially when a gig you were counting on gets cancelled, but at the same time, your need to appreciate the fine art of getting snowed in," said Ray Mason of the Lonesome Brothers. CUTLINE: 3/20/08 - Ray Mason will lead the Lonesome Brothers as they perform at Liston's Bar and Grill in Worthington Friday night.

      There’s a hidden treasure in Haydenville, Massachusetts… and his name is Ray Mason. He’s been an active musician on the scene for more years than many of us have been alive, releasing solo albums as well as serving time as one-half of Americana duo Lonesome Brothers. Ray plays no-nonsense Rock ‘n’ Roll the way it should be played: fresh, exciting and littered with musical references from practically every genre you can think of. When throwing on a Ray Mason album for the first time, don’t be surprised if you hear a sad and sorrowful Country crier followed by a prickly rocker with a Punk edge to it. His music references everyone from Robert Johnson to The Beatles. His early influences can be found on records released by labels like Motown and Stax but don’t be surprised to find some inspiration from the Stiff and Chiswick archives as well. The best way to describe Ray’s sound is this: imagine Neil Young colliding with Nick Lowe while fronting NRBQ and performing songs telepathically channeled from David Lindley’s sideburns. If you are thoroughly confused, have no fear. Describing Ray’s charm is difficult. However, enjoying this unpretentious, humble and extremely talented man’s music is a much easier.
With over 20 albums to his name (including eight or so with Lonesome Brothers), digging into Ray’s back catalog is hugely satisfying. Normally recording with a few longtime friends as the Ray Mason Band, Ray does occasionally record albums with just his trusty Silvertone guitar. His latest plate-spinner, THE SHY REQUESTER, is one of those albums. Imagine walking into a bar, grabbing a beer, and then relaxing as you enjoy the night’s entertainment: a down-to-earth singer/songwriter plying his trade with songs that seem to reflect how you – a normal person – relate to this world. THAT is what listening to THE SHY REQUESTER is like. It is funny, sad and completely from the heart. It is also raw and loose, as you’d probably expect from an album with just voice and a Silvertone electric guitar with varying degrees of reverb. It may not shimmer and sparkle like what you hear on Top 40 radio, but Ray’s music has much more depth and honesty – even when he strips it down to its core.

And now, I’d like to introduce you to Ray… in his own words!

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