(March 29, 2017): Albert Hammond – Smokey Factory Blues

K-SHE Classic. From the 1973 album, Electric Free BandHammond was born in London, but grew up in Gibraltar. He started recording in 1966 and is still going. He has a new LP due to be released this October. Hammond became a frequent collaborator with Mike Hazelwood in the 1970s. All the tunes on this LP were written by both. Larry Carlton makes a surprising appearance on guitar here too. Hammond is the father of Albert Hammond, Jr. of the Strokes.


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(March 28, 2017): Alela Diane – The Ocean

From the 2009 album, To Be Still.  Along with Terry Riley, Diane hails from Nevada City, CA (like her contemporary Joanna Newson).  This was her first label release (Rough Trade), produced by her Dad.  As Caroline Sullivan points out, “[n]early every song is informed by nature: from the snow that creates “such a stillness, calm as the owl glides” on White As Diamonds to the woodland copse where “wind blows the tiny green helicopter seeds” in The Alder Trees.”  She sings of a landlocked woman dreaming of the ocean here.  Diane lives in Portland, OR and not surprisingly, she tours with the likes of The Decemberists, Blitzen Trapper, Iron & Wine, Akron/Family, and Vashti Bunyan.


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Before and After Chuck Berry (NYT)

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(March 27, 2017): The Alley Cats – Too Much Junk

From the 1980 10″ single, Too Much Junk / Night Along the Blvd.  As the Alley Cats, Dianne Chai, Randy Stodola and John McCarthy, were a three piece late 1970s punk band from Lomita, CA, as suburb of Los Angeles. They are included in the classic 1982 film and soundtrack, which was already a retrospective, Urgh! A Music War.

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(March 26, 2017): Tom Russell – The Ballad of Edward Abbey and Benediction: Edward Abbey

A compilation from the 2004 album, Indians Cowboys Horses Dogs, and the 2005 album, Hotwalker. Clearly Russell had Abbey on his mind in the mid-2000s.  The first item is a song by Russell about missing Abbey’s presence in the world.  The second is Russell “introducing” Abbey posthumously, and then Abbey, himself, reads from the preface to the 1988 Univ. or Arizona Press edition of his 1968 book, Desert Solitaire, to an audience at the University of Utah.  Today’s selection is a replay of what I created for an old blog I used to have on WordPress with the pedestrian name, “Song of the Day.” Someone ripped it and put it up on Youtube in 2012, but I thought it was about time to repatriate. As a comment on the Youtube page points out, Kirk Douglas’s horse was named Whiskey, not Brandy.

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(March 25, 2017): Aaron Copland – Prairie Journal

From the 1994 album, Copland: Music for Films.  One of many Leonard Slatkin’s “American series” releases on BMG/RCA while still Music Director of SLSO. As Steve Schwarz writes:

Prairie Journal” has a curious history. Copland originally titled the work “Radio Serenade.” CBS, who commissioned it, decided to use the piece as part of a promotion. It invited listeners to send in their suggestions for a new title, to be picked by the composer. In the meantime, it called the work “Music for Radio” (the title under which you normally find it) until the contest winner was announced. Copland found no title completely satisfactory but chose Saga of the Prairie as a subtitle. Now the piece was known as “Music for Radio: Saga of the Prairie.” In 1968, when radio no longer commanded the attention it had in the 30s, Copland renamed the piece “Prairie Journal.”

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(March 24, 2017): Bob Dylan – Desolation Row

From the 1965 album, Highway 61 Revisited.  Not much to say, except one of the best albums of all time.

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