Tuesday, November 30, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration: every Wednesday morning at 9 am ET (ish) I can be heard on the SIRIUS XM OutQ show The Morning Jolt With Larry Flick. This week I'm talking about music you may not have heard yet.

The first artist is Mumford & Sons. Actually they are pretty huge, their music video for "Little Lion Man" has been viewed 13 million times or something on YouTube. But lots of people are just finding out about them now.  I describe them as a smaller, British version of Springsteen's Seeger Sessions Band. I had the opportunity to film them recently (I'll hopefully post a video soon) and was knocked out by how great they were.  Their debut album, Sigh No More, is probably one of the best albums of the year.

Another new group is Secret Sisters, an actual duo of sisters. They sound like they are straight out of O Brother, Where Art Thou, so no surprise that their self-titled debut album was exec produced by O Brother music supervisor T-Bone "Him Again" Burnett. I first heard the Sisters on a Third Man 7" single, produced by Jack "Him Again" White, and it has a much heavier, edgier sound than the album. But the album, which features originals, but also covers by Hank Williams and George Jones, is really good.

Speaking of Jack White and Third Man, they've just put out the first album in eight years by the great garage rock trio The Greenhornes, called ****. The reason the band were away for so long is because two of their members, bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler, played with Jack in The Raconteurs (and Lawrence in Dead Weather).

Black Dub is a new band led by the great producer Daniel Lanois and featuring singer Trixie Whitley, daughter of the late, great Chris Whitley. I just got this album, and it is really good. I'm going to write more about all of these albums, hopefully soon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Polish your debit cards, ya'll!  Later this morning on SIRIUS XM OutQ's The Morning Jolt With Larry Flick, I'll be talking about great gift ideas: namely reissues and box sets. 

Three of them I wrote about earlier tonight: Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge Of Town box set, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' deluxe reissue of Damn The Torpedoes, and David Bowie's deluxe reissue of Station To Station.


* The new Jimi Hendrix box set, West Coast Seattle Boy. A lot of it seems to be live and alternate versions of stuff. But it also has lots of recordings of Jimi as a sideman, before he went solo.  So you get to hear Jimi with The Isley Brothers, Little Richard and more. That's worth the price right there.

* R.E.M.'s reissue of their classic Fables Of The Reconstruction. Classic album, no question. But the bonus disc contains demo versions of the album.  Nice to have for fanatics, but for everyone else, the regular album should suffice.

* The latest installment of the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series, Volume 9. The Whitmark Demos features imperfect demo recordings from 1962-1964.  Some pretty cool stuff there, but not essential (I much prefer Volume 8, which covers 1989 - 2008).

* An Introduction To Syd Barrett is a single CD collecting Barrett's stuff with Pink Floyd and as a solo artist.  It's a great gift for people who don't know who he is - anyone who likes Floyd should be familar with this stuff, and if they're not, get this and help them out!

* And two Duran Duran dexlue reissues: they've re-releeased their Notorious and Big Thing albums, both with tons of extra stuff.


Earlier this year, I spent an entire episode of my weekly "rock report" to SIRIUS XM OutQ's Morning Jolt with Larry Flick talking about David Bowie archival releases, and mentioned that a big Station To Station reissue would be out later this year.  Well, it's out!

Station To Station was a transitional album for Bowie, bridging the gap between the funky Young Americans and the more experimental Low, Lodger and "Heroes". I think Bowie has said that he barely remembers working on it, but that doesn't take away from its greatness. The 10 minutes + title track is awesome, but he also has shorter hit singles like "TVC15" "Golden Years."

I don't have the super dexlue version - it has vinyl and lots of collector item stuff.  The regular deluxe version has the album along with a 2 CD live album from the tour, and is really rocking.  Even if you have a remastered version of Station To Station, I recommend getting at least the deluxe version, if not the super deluxe one.


Earlier this year, the Classic Albums DVD series put out a really cool documentary on Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' amazing album Damn The Torpedoes. Maybe that gave his former label the idea to reissue a deluxe version of the album. Unlike, say, Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge Of Town, there weren't a hell of a lot of extra songs.  But like Darkness, perfect at 10 songs, Torpedoes is perfect at 9.

Still, this deluxe reissue is fun: it has a few outtakes that we've heard before (like "Casa Dega") and at least one that I'd never heard ("Nowhere"). A couple of demos and some live tracks rounding it out. It's cool stuff, but really, I'll probably always just want to reach out for the album itself.  It's classic perfect, and doesn't need anything added or subtracted.  And that said, the reissue and DVD make a great gift for the Petty friend in your life!


It's worth every cent.

Well, let me mention that Bruce Springsteen is one of my favorite artists of all time, and Darkness On The Edge Of Town is probably my favorite album by him. But the box set is really worth the bucks if you love the album like I do. Here's what the deluxe version contains:  first of all, the album remastered.  Bruce has never allowed a remastering of his catalog, other than Born To Run which got the box set treatment a few years ago.  Two more discs contain all songs that didn't make the album - this collection is called The Promise, and is available seperately as well. And there are some great things on that, including Bruce's previously unreleased studio versions of "Because The Night" and "Fire."

One DVD (or blu-ray disc) features the documentary on the making of the album which really enhances your appreciation for the record (much like the doc in the Born To Run box set did). Another disc shows a stripped down version of the E Street Band performing the album, in order, to an empty theater.  It's Bruce, Little Steven Van Zandt on guitar, Gary Tallent on bass, Roy Bittan on piano, Clarence Clemons on sax and Max Weinberg on drums with Charlie Giordano on organ. Basically the guys who played on the record, plus Charlie sitting in for the late Danny Federici.  No Nils, Patti or Soozie, no backing singers. It's a lean, mean, rock album. The performances on this disc, beautifully shot by Thom Zimmy (who also shot and directed the documentaries, and most of Bruce's video stuff in general) show how well the music has aged, and how well the band has aged.  This was shot a few months after the last tour ended. Hopefully it's not the last thing they do together. The disc also features archival footage of the band from '78. And another disc features a full concert from the Darkness tour.

The package is a replica of Bruce's notebook from the era. It really feels voyeristic going through all of this sometimes. But what I learned from it is that, on top of everything else, Bruce has great instincts. Yes, there are great songs on The Promise, but none of them would really fit in on Darkness. Yes, "Because The Night" is one of the best songs he ever wrote... but the truth is, Patti Smith's version is better. "Fire" is awesome, but The Pointer Sisters did it better! All the extra stuff on this box set just proves how perfect Darkness was without anything more than those ten songs! And still, going through all this stuff is a great trip. I imagine Bruce's next move will be a new album (I'd bet it will be without The E Street Band) before he hits his vaults again. But I hope we don't have to wait five years for The River box set (or ten for Nebraska!).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Unbelievable.  A few montths short of his 70th birthday, Bob Dylan rocked a club right off of New York City's West Side Highway, Terminal 5. T5 doesn't make it easy - if you don't get there early enough to get a great spot, you have to work hard to see the stage. It's no secret that Bob has a spotty live reputation, and in fact, I stopped going to see Dylan shows at some point in the '00s, after seeing some "eh" Dylan concerts. But in the summer of 2009, I caught a show that renewed my faith, and a few months later, I went to see him again, and was knocked out again.  Tonight it was the same deal. He and the band made it worth the effort.

Like last time, he opened with a rocking version his gospel classic "Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking," and he and his excellent band never let up.  Guitarist Charlie Sexton rejoined the band about a year ago now, and he definitely brings a new energy to the shows. I could take some flak for this, but I think Bob's current band is one of his best ever. Sexton is amazing, and bassist Tony Garnier is badass. I love the way Bob makes his setlist: lots of '60s classics, but lots of music from the past decade (Bob was one of my favorite artists of the '00s). "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," "Masters Of War" and "Like A Rolling Stone" work alongside "Things Have Changed," "Rollin' and Tumblin'" and "Jolene" (I actually wish he played more songs from my favorite album of 2009, Together Through Life).

Bob only played sixteen songs, and there were so many highlights: "Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking," "This Wheel's On Fire," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Things Have Changed," "Workingman's Blues #2," "Thunder On The Mountain," "Jolene" and "Like A Rolling Stone." My favorite parts, though, were his impassioned vocals on "Hard Rain," "High Water (For Charlie Patton)," "Masters Of War," "Highway 61 Revisited" and most of all "Ballad Of A Thin Man." The fact that it's so hard to come up with a highlight of a 16 song set by a nearly 70 year old performer kind of speaks for itself. Well, I hope this tour really is "neverending" - I'm definitely on board next time the man comes to town.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Last night I went to the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem to see Fistful Of Mercy. I've written about them before: they are a supergroup that features Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison. They also feature violinist Jessy Greene. Longtime No Expiration readers know that I'm a huge fan of Ben's, but it was interesting to see him in this different context: he wasn't the bandleader, he was one of three singer/songwriters. Actually, this was my second time seeing them: I had filmed an in-studio performance with them at my day job a few weeks ago (see below).

Radio performances are cool.  But there's nothing that compares with a group playing in front of an audience, and add the mojo of the Apollo to the mix, and you have everything you need for a great show. Fistful definitely delivered on that! They played mostly songs from their recently released debut album, As I Call You Down, including my two favorite songs "Things Go 'Round" and "Father's Son." The highlight of the show, for me, may have been their cover of PJ Harvey's "To Bring You My Love." That was a trip for me, since (a) it is the title track of one of my favorite albums, and (b), I saw Ben and The Innocent Criminals open for PJ at the Beacon Theater when she was touring for the album of the same name. Fistful's cover really knocked me out.  I also loved their cover of Bob Dylan's "Buckets Of Rain" (from Blood On The Tracks).  I don't want to write much about Dhani's resemblence to his dad, but watching him sing a song by his dad's good friend and bandmate gave me chills.  I also loved their cover of The Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes," maybe Lou Reed's finest moment. They did one of Ben's songs, "Please Me Like You Want To" and also the one Joseph Arthur song that I really know, "In The Sun."

Maybe even better than those songs was the album's closer, which ended the show, "With Whom You Belong."  It was a super powerful moment, they unplugged their instruments and went to the edge of the stage, and played them unamplified. The song isn't a hit, but the words are easy enough to remember, and everyone in the audience sang along.  It was really powerful and also really fun. I think this is what they will close their shows with in twenty years.  They seemed to enjoy performing together, I bet they'll be doing Fistful off and on for a long time.  Here's hoping they do.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wedneday morning at about 9 am ET-ish, I go on the SIRIUS XM channel OutQ where I am a contributor to The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick. (The show is co-hosted by comedian Keith Price). Tomorrow I'll be talking about new music from some real legends.

First off is Elvis Costello's new album, National Ransom, which I just wrote a post about. The album sort of combines what he did on his last album, the very rootsy Secret, Profane and Sugarcane, and the prior album, the more garage rocking Momofuku. It actually combines musicians from both albums. I really respect the way Elvis is always pushing himself. With all of his success, he still seems to really try hard.

You can't really say the same for Rod Stewart, who has just released the fifth volume of his American Songbook series. I guess you can't blame the guy for going back to that: his album of soft rock covers (Still The Same) and his R&B covers album (Soulbook) didn't really do well, but the Songbook series sold millions. And he's pretty good at doing it. I have heard a few songs from the new album - same deal as all the prior installments of the series - they're fine.  But you don't get the impression that he's even sweating.  And Rod's best music (his early solo stuff, The Jeff Beck Group, The Faces) has lots of sweat. I've heard Rod say that he wants to do something with The Black Keys.  Hell yeah!  Oh, by the way, The Faces are touring with dude from Simply Red singing.  Just sayin'.

Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry has a new album, Olympia. I have to admit, I never really "got" Roxy or Ferry, but I don't have a problem with them. There's a new song on his album, "Heartache By Numbers," that I was hoping I'd like - it is a collaboration with Scissor Sisters, but I didn't really like it. I do like the song "Me Oh My," which I think features David Gilmour.

Speaking of Gilmour, he has a new collaborative album with trace music group The Orb. People may think that that is an odd combination, but I don't.  Plenty of Floyd's music sounds like a precursor to trance. Listen to the beginning of  "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." That said, I don't really "get" it, but I thought it would be interesting to talk about, especially if Larry or some of the listeners can explain it to me.

Here's a real legend: Loretta Lynn. She should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, no question. Yes, she's obviously country, but listen to "Rated X," "Don't Come Home From Drinkin' With Lovin' On Your Mind" and "Fist City." The woman is badass. There's a new tribute album to her, Coal Miner's Daughter. It's OK: like lots of tribute albums, it's about the list of artists, it demonstrates how influencial she is.  Loretta does a new version of "Coal Miner's Daughter" with Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow. It shows that she appeals to both sides of the aisle, as it were. The White Stripes are on the album, as is Steve Earle and Allison Moorer, Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood, Lucinda Williams and Kid Rock. My opinion: they should have gotten Elizbeth Cook, who reminds me more of Loretta than anyone else I've ever heard.

Quincy Jones has a new album, Soul Bossa Nostra. I guess the deal with his albums is, he produces everything. Dude has experience producing great music, he's worked with Ray Charles, Miles Davis and Michael Jackson. Some of the stuff I have heard on this album is awful.  He works with Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson on a cover of "It's My Party." I wish I liked that, but I don't.  There's an "update" of the Sanford & Son theme, featuring T.I. and B.o.B. and some other people, but it's just a generic sounding hip-hop track that samples that classic theme. One song I do like is "Betcha Wouldn't Hurt Me" which features Mary J. Blige and Q-Tip (although Tip is hardly even on it!).

I wrote about Tom Jones a while back. On his last album, he did a really great cover of Bruce Springsteen's "The Hitter." It wasn't Vegasy or over the top.  He takes that a bit further on his new album , Praise and Blame, produced by Ethan Johns for Lost Highway Records. It reminds me of what Rick Rubin has done with Neil Diamond... it makes you look at him a bit differently.  Tom does a good cover of the Dylan classic "What Good Am I?" and a pretty rocking take on John Lee Hooker's "Burning Hell."

Speaking of the blues, Buddy Guy has a new album, Living Proof, and we'll talk about that too.


I've got a lot of respect for Elvis Costello. I'm not the hugest fan, but I have to admire that he follows his muse, and never takes the easy path. He still has the fire. I have said this before, but I think I can be a bit more objective about his newer material because his '70s and '80s stuff wasn't the soundtrack to my life.

I definitely dig his new album, National Ransom.   I've read that some people are calling this a "bluegrass" album.  I think that might be a fitting way to describe his last one (last year's Secret, Profane and Sugarcane), although both albums were produced by T-Bone Burnett. but this one sort of splits the difference between that album and the previous one, 2008's Momofuku. It has elements of garage rock and but a rootsier more country or rustic feel. The musicians on the album are the guys from The Sugarcanes (from his last album) and The Imposters (his go-to rock band these days, 2/3 are former Attractions). He still rocks: the title track is as good as "American Gangster Time" which I rate as one of his finest moments.  But on other songs, it feels like he is still discovering new things to try, and three decades into his career, that's pretty cool. 

I had the opportunity to watch him do a solo acoustic performance at my place of work, which was really cool. I don't think he does that too often. Anyway, here's his solo acoustic - but rocking - version of the very timely "National Ransom."

Sunday, November 14, 2010


"I'm going to play some new songs, so if you want to go to the bathroom, I totally understand." Who else but Aimee Mann would offer that line up without any venom? It's been a few years since her last album, Smilers, so it was good to hear a few new songs.  Her fans may certainly be attached by earlier songs in their catalog (I cite Bachelor No. 2 and Lost In Space as two of my favorite albums ever, and I love her other ones also), but it's not the classic rock crowd, we want to hear where Aimee's at today.  But she's so polite, so self-aware, to offer that caveat before playing new songs (more on them in a second).

Where she's at and where she's always been, is that she's writing about flawed characters, and doing so without judgement. She's always done this so well. And the songs are always so well crafted!  Not that they're "sweet," per se, but if you're not totally paying attention, you may miss how dark they can be.  I think that's one of the things that her fans really like about her.

Another is her charm.  She's always known that there's something a bit ridiculous about performing on stage to a few hundred (or thousand) people and trying to have a conversation. Hence, her deciscion on a tour a few years ago to hire a comedian (Patton Oswalt) to provide between-song banter for her (when she herself is, in fact, quite funny). Last night at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, she joked about everything from her out of tune guitar, to not remembering how to play some of her classics (like "Ghost World") to how we formulate our ideas of what adulthood will bring when we're eight years old, and never modify those ideas. And she pointed out that her brother, possibly forgetting what she does for a living, told her that "no one wants to hear new songs at a show."

Last night she had a different setup than usual: it was just Aimee, with Paul Bryan on bass and keyboards and Jamie Edwards on keyboards, it was a bit more stripped down than her usual shows. She played lots of songs from her recent albums ("Freeway," "31 Today," "That's How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart") as well as bunch of things from Magnolia ("Save Me," "Wise Up," "Build That Wall," her cover of "One"). Those songs still pack incredible emotional punch, but they're also subtle.  On one hand, she isn't a R&B or blues singer who really hits you with her singing.  On the other hand, she's much more interesting than most folk singers or "indie rock" artists.  When she's performing, everything is about the song. In between songs, her personality wins you over.  It's such a great combination.

Her new songs were cool: they are from an upcoming stage adaptation of her Forgotten Arm album. She admitted that the idea of adapting one of her albums for the stage sounded awful, and remarked she'd seen some "rock musicals" that were really awful.  I think the awareness that something could go off the rails will help to keep Aimee from creating a disasterous show. Anyway, the new songs were cool.

The venue was perfect for the show. There were a lot of suburbanites who probably don't get to her NYC shows, and they really appreciated the fact that Aimee came to the 'burbs. It was a theater with seats, unlike the last Aimee show I saw, which I didn't really love (I felt that particular show didn't move that well, and wasn't suited to a club - to be fair, it was probably the first of 15 or so Aimee shows that didn't totally knock me out). It might be a perfect venue for her to test out the Forgotten Arm musical... but wherever that thing plays, I'll be there for previews.  I have faith that however Aimee brings this to life via actors and sets, it will be a cool experience.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


OK, a bold headline for a little blog post, but this songs just resonates with me. 

Eleven years ago I worked at MTV2. We pretty much just played music videos. In early 2000, we were playing every video of all time, in alphabetical order. It was fun, but at some point, we took breaks from that to play new music, and one of the new videos we focused on was Aimee Mann's "Save Me" from the Magnolia soundtrack. Of course I knew who she was: I'd seen her with 'til Tuesday opening for Tom Petty years earlier, and I'd heard songs from, and read 5 star reviews of, her first two solo albums Whatever and I'm With Stupid. And of course, she guested on "Time Stand Still" by one of my favorite bands, Rush (he said UN-sarcastically). She was an artist who I'd meant to catch up with at some point. This was that point.

The video for "Save Me" stopped me dead in my tracks. I already knew I wanted to see the movie: I loved Paul Thomas Anderson's previous film Boogie Nights, and the way he portrayed flawed characters without judging. And I loved the actors, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly and Phillip Seymour Hoffman who were in both of the films. (Moore and Reilly were in the "Save Me" video, as was co-star [not star, but co-star] Tom Cruise.) But the video would have sold me on the movie no matter what.  Something about Aimee, with that gaze, singing that song next to these sad but not hopeless characters really spoke to me. It's hard to identify why.

The film and Aimee's soundtrack made a big impact on me. I'm not always the most tolerant person in the world, but I try not to be judgemental, and this song somehow reminds me of that.  Aimee's character - her image in this video, her songs in the film - are also a reminder.  She isn't so accepting that she's an enabler. It's just that she's not judging. She's not damning you while you go down, but she's not aiding in your destruction.  If you want to get better, great: she's there to help.  (I realize I'm superimposing my interpretation here, but isn't that what music's about: how you interpret it?)  It's a good way to be, I think, and this song helps me to try and remember to be that way.  How many songs can actually influence your behavior?  Thanks for writing this one, Aimee Mann, and here's hoping you perform it Saturday night at the South Orange Performaning Arts Center!

Here's the video:


Well, the year isn't over yet, but I'm starting to think about what my favorite albums of the years are, so I'll be featuring some of them over the next few posts. I've kind of said it before: I think my favorite album of the year is The Drive-By Truckers' The Big To-Do. A lot of the artists who I write about on No Expiration have been around for decades, but I was just getting into this band at around the time I started this blog, about three years ago. I don't think I would have gotten as into the band without the great SIRIUS XM channel Outlaw Country. But then they turned out to be one of my favorite bands of the '00s. And I recently wrote about how their Southern Rock Opera hit me as hard as Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.

I've said it before, they are kind of like a combination of Skynyrd and Springsteen, with a bit of Replacements thrown in. Soul, sweat, grit and great storytelling.  Characters on the edge, making decisions. Most of the bands that are big today would have looked ridiculous in the '50s, '60s or '70s.  The Drive-By Truckers?  If they were around back then, they'd be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by now.

But as for the latest album, it just works from start to finish.  I love the first single, "This Fucking Job," I feel like it really captures this particular moment in time. "I'm trying to hang on to the worst of places, but my family can't eat on these fast food wages." This song could have been on Darkness On The Edge Of Town, right next to "Factory." I listen to this, and can't believe that it's the preacher man's sons who are selling millions of records. "Birthday Boy," told from the perspective of a stripper. The song doesn't judge. Or in "The Wig He Made Her Wear," about a preacher's wife who killed him (based on a true story!). Again, no judging, just observations to incredible music. I'm kind of blown away by this album every time I listen to it, and what's amazing is that they have the next one ready already. Go Go Boots will be out February 15.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Tomorrow morning on SIRIUS XM OutQ show The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick, I'll be talking about some of the big pop records of the season. And by "pop," I mean big records.  Sonically, these records don't have much in common, but they all feature really catchy songs. 

I've only heard one song, "Well, Well, Well" from Duffy's new album, Endlessly, but I love it. Her album was produced by Questlove and features the guys from The Roots playing on many of the tracks (I'm told). I'm really looking forward to hearing the rest of this album. Larry was one of the first people in America to play Duffy's debut album, and she knows that, which is really cool.

Kings Of Leon just released their latest album, Come Around Sundown. I've never bought into them the way so many others have. I saw them on one of the small stages at the Austin City Limits Music Festival a few years ago (maybe 2003).  They were hyped, and I liked their sound and the way they looked. But their songs didn't stick with me.  A few years later, I saw them open for U2, and I was bored. But on their new album, they're really swinging for the fences, and there are some good songs there.  For my money, I prefer The Drive-By Truckers by a long spell.

Larry kind of told me about The Zac Brown Band last year.  I'd read about them, but on Larry's recommendation, I checked them out.  I think this Zac guy is pretty talented.  He's kind of mainstream country, but also appeals to the jam band crowd.  I think he could end up being like Jimmy Buffett. His new album You Get What You Give could be a really big album.

Bruno Mars is kind of outside my usual arena, but he is a talented kid.  He co-wrote and produced one of the best songs of the year, Cee-Lo Green's "Fuck You," as well as hits for other pop artists including Ke$ha, B.o.B., Flo Rida and Travie McCoy. He just released his own album, Doo-Wops and Hooligans, and I dig a few of the songs, "Grenade," "The Other Side" (which features Cee-Lo and B.o.B.) and "Liquor Store Blues" (featuring Damien Marley).

We may also talk about P!nk's new song "Raise Your Glass," which I didn't like... until I saw the video.  It's really a celebration about people who don't fit in.  Say what you want about P!nk, but she has the spirit of rock and roll in her.

Oh, and also, we'll talk about Mark Ronson's new album Record Collection, which I just wrote about.


I've been a fan of Mark Ronson's work for a while.  I love the stuff that he produced for Amy Winehouse, I love the "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" remix that he did for Bob Dylan, and his solo albums come off like great parties with incredible music jams (much like the N.A.S.A. album that came out last year). But for a minute, I was wondering if he could do anything outside of his vintage soul with horn section sound. On his new album, Record Collection, he kind of jumps from the '60s to the '80s, drops the horns and picks up bands of synthesizers.

My favorite track is "Bang Bang Bang" which features Q-Tip (who has appeared on all three of his solo albums) and Amanda Warner of a group called MNDR.  But there's also a great jam called "Glass Mountain Trust" featuring D'Angelo - and where the hell has he been? If you just heard this in the background, you'd be excused for thinking it's a Cee-Lo joint. But D sounds excellent on this track, and hopefully it will inspire him to get back into the game!

I also dig "Lose It (In The End)" with Ghostface (who sampled Amy Winehouse's Ronson-produced "You Know I'm No Good," which is where I first heard it, and probably lots of other people too). Then there's "Somebody To Love Me" featuring Boy George. Come on!  Who has that kind of game, to get Ghost and Boy George on the same album! 

Anyway, if you don't know Ronson by name, you probably have heard some of the music he has worked on, but do yourself a favor and buy one of his albums (I love his last one, Version) or download some tracks. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I finally saw Roger Waters' tour tonight: for those of you who don't know, he's been playing Pink Floyd's 1979 classic, The Wall, start to finish, complete with a humongous production. Just like at the select concerts they did to promote the album in 1979 and 1980 (and the one show Waters did in Berlin in 1990), an actual "wall" was built around the stage during the concert.  There were costumes, lights, gigantic puppets, and lots of video (the wall itself was used as a projection screen, but Roger also used the circular video screen that he, and Floyd, have always used at their shows). There was a lot to look at, nearly every song had a different visual aspect to it.

But it worked, and never seemed Spinal Tap-ed out. Because at the core of it is one of the greatest albums of all time, an incredible song cycle that works incredibly well, but most of the songs stand on their own as classics.  But the story itself is so moving: the story of a boy whose father went to war, never came back, and that boy was never the same.  This sense of loss, and the alienation that came from it, had influenced Roger Waters' songwriting throughout his career, but was most fully realized on The Wall. I wonder if it was therapudic for him: I wonder if it helped him to feel better afterwards.

Waters kind of comes off as a scary guy, although the recent cover story in Rolling Stone magazine went a long way to humanizing him (in my opinion). He really is a pretty sensitive guy: most of his rage comes at his anger with people being treated unfairly (or worse). During the intermission of the show tonight, and during "Goodbye Blue Sky," Waters projected names and photos of people who died in war (soldiers and civilians), he solicited these photos and stories via his website.

Anyway, the concert itself was incredible. The band was great, although  I didn't love the other singer - the guy who sang David Gilmour's parts. A few years ago, Roger was using Doyle Bramhall II, who I liked better.  But they always managed to keep the focus on the music, which is at the core of the whole thing, and hasn't lost any of its power, three decades later. Waters has said that this will be his last tour (I think he's close to 70), but he looked and sounded so good, I hope he does another one - if not a "Wall" tour, at least another tour where he plays songs from his entire career (including his solo stuff).

Saturday, November 6, 2010


 "Social Distortion is playing at Roseland?  Really, I didn't know!"

I work around the corner from New York City's Roseland Ballroom, and lots of folks who I work with, who enjoy Social D's music, had no idea that they were playing just three blocks away this past Thursday night.  And yet, they sold the joint out, it was packed!

I saw Social D this summer at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, and my post about it started out in on similar theme.  So many people don't know that Social D is still a working band, and yet they sell out fairly large venues, without help from radio or the press or whatever.

And just like this summer, the band was totally rockin'. Every time I see Mike Ness perform, I'm blown away.   I don't like to put other bands down, and I'm not calling anyone out, but when I think of rock bands that get a lot of attention today... compared to Ness and Social D, they just look like twerps.  He's sort of quietly hit "living legend" status in my mind, but he still has great music left in him.  I'm definitely a big fan of the last Social D record, 2004's Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll, and I'm looking forward to the next one, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, due in January on Epitaph Records. They played "Bakersfield" and a cover of Hank Williams' "Alone And Foresaken," both of which will be on the album. People were into it. I was bummed that they didn't draw from their last album, though, "Reach For The Sky" and "Nickels and Dimes" are two of my favorites.

Of course, you can't play too many new songs - Ness isn't going to try and force too much new stuff down people's throats, he knows why he can still sell out Roseland, and it's because of his incredible body of work.  He started the show off in real old school form, with "The Creeps," "Another State Of Mind" and "Mommy's Little Monster." By rights, a 40-something (or 50-something?) guy singing songs that were popular in the punk rock scene nearly thirty years ago shouldn't work, but it does. Kind of because his music has actually progressed (probably more than he would want to admit) because of his country music influence - that's really what seperated him from the pack in the first place. And while they didn't play all of thier classics (I don't think Ness really wants to be a "greatest hits" revue type guy) they did awesome versions of "Don't Drag Me Down," "I Was Wrong," a country-fied (or country-fried) "Ball and Chain" (it kind of split the difference between the band's original version, and Mike Ness' country version from his 1999 solo album Under The Influences), "Prison Bound," "Making Believe," "Cold Feelings" and their cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire."

Ness mentioned that the band will be back after the album comes out ("after the snow is all gone," so I guess that's spring hopefully - give the guy a break, he's from Orange County)... so if you're a fan, I'd say to follow the band on Facebook, or at least keep an eye on the Village Voice or your local "alternative" paper.  But don't sleep on it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Longtime readers of No Expiration know that every few weeks, I pop up on SIRIUS XM's Catholic Channel's Busted Halo Show to discuss the music of a certain artist. Last time it was Annie Lennox. Tomorrow night it will be the music of Social Distortion leader Mike Ness.  If you've read this blog, you know that I'm a huge fan - I saw them this summer and they blew me away, as they have every time I've seen them... starting with a bizarre arena gig in 1990, where they were the opening band on a bill with Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Sonic Youth at Nassau Coliseum.

Anyway, sin and redemption has always been a theme throughout Ness' music (including his solo albums, which I'll touch on tomorrow night as well) and I think that that makes him perfect for discussion on Busted Halo.  Also, I'm going to see them tomorrow night at Roseland Ballroom right after I leave Father Dave's studio! So expect a review in the next few days.