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February / March 2003






Ringo Rama

I’ve said this over and over again, but I love being in a band, and I love hanging out with a crowd of musicians. And that’s what we are and that’s what we do. We write them and we record them.” In early 2003 legendary drummer Ringo Starr returns with yet another fab Beatles-inspired solo album. Ringo Rama is quintessential Ringo, buoyed by his contagious pop vocals and influential drumming. A rocked out set that’s very much in the spirit of influential Ringo classics like Vertical Man and Time Takes Time, Ringo Rama is a brilliant, collaborative effort featuring fine work from Ringo’s producer / guitarist Mark Hudson along with composer / musicians such as Gary Burr, Dean Grakal, Steve Dudas, Jim Cox and Gary Nicholson. Some of Ringo’s famous pals also drop by including Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd ax-great David Gilmour along with other notables like Brian Wilson’s co-writer Van Dyke Parks (where’s Brian?), country superstar Willie Nelson and much more. An essential spin for Beatles fans, Ringo Rama totally rocks...John Lennon would love it. And then there’s George Harrison. Ringo Rama pays tribute to the Beatles ax-great on “Never Without You”, a song strewn with classic Ringoisms like ‘Here Comes The Sun is about you, And your song will play on without you, Now we will carry on, never without you’. Ringo Rama has so many great rocking songs—just check out the rockabilly style Elvis tribute “Memphis In Your Mind”, the two part CD closing suite “English Garden” and the baroque pop leanings and Abbey Road groove of “Elizabeth Reigns”. Ringo sums it up nicely adding, “There is a lot of me in these songs. As time goes on, my personality is coming out more and more in the music. That’s just what happens.” Only Ringo could make a pop album this much in the spirit of classic ‘60s Beatles and bless your lucky stars, he’s done it again.


Songs From The Material World:
A Tribute To George Harrison


With a portion of the proceeds going to the Material World Charitable Foundation, Songs From The Material World is the first major tribute album to the music of Beatles legend George Harrison. Several top notch players gather to contribute a Harrison-composed track including Kinks’ guitar great Dave Davies (with a flowing “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth”), Todd Rundgren (a dramatic version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps), The John Entwistle Band (“Here Comes The Sun”) and Rolling Stones’ legend Bill Wyman (“Taxman”). The 12 track CD is further established with more fine George covers by They Might Be Giants (“Savoy Truffle” - saxophones and all), Marc Ford (a resounding version of “I, Me, Mine”), The Smithereens (an uptempo “I Want To Tell You”) and more. Reflective liner notes and refined artwork design by Milton Glaser puts the finishing touches on a fine tribute to Harrison’s musical legacy.

Welcome Black

The pop renaissance of the ‘90s yielded some impressive talents including singer-songwriter Stew and his group The Negro Problem. An extraordinary vocalist with charisma and talent to burn, Stew’s been hailed as a modern day Arthur Lee, the fabled singer of the ‘60s baroque-jazz-pop group Love. Fittingly, Stew opened for Lee on his recent comeback tour. Stew’s solo album on Smile Records, The Naked Dutch Painter was impressive and his 2002 Smile CD, Welcome Black with The Negro Problem is a pop masterpiece for the new millennium. Drawing on the spirits of L.A. pop masterpieces like Love’s Forever Changes and The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Stew and his band mates, including the multi-talented Probyn Gregory (from Wondermints and Brian Wilson’s band) and vocalist Heidi Rodenwald, bring that timeless ‘60s / ‘70s L.A. pop sound back to the spotlight again on the humorously titled, cool sounding Welcome Black. /


Minty Fresh)

The NYC-based pop trio Ivy made a good move signing with pop aficionados over at Minty Fresh Records. After three critically acclaimed albums, Adam Schlesinger, Andy Chase and singer Dominique Durand released Guestroom in late ‘02 and interestingly the trio have assembled ten of their favorite pop tunes done here as covers—a worthy concept in their able hands. Sublime covers of ‘80s group Haircut 100 (“Kite”) and ‘90s artists like Papas Fritas (“Say Goodbye”) along with eight other superbly honed, decade spanning covers of The Cure, The Go-Betweens Serge Gainsbourg, Steely Dan and The Ronnettes makes the ten track Guestroom a good bet for fans of high class evergreen pop sounds.

Circus Liquor
(Empty Beach)

Boise, Idaho-based Ned Evett is a master of the Fretless guitar and he adds, “Fretless guitar is a close relative to slide guitar in many ways, with the fingertips taking the place of the slide. From a melodic perspective, Fretless guitars are very free instruments, giving players direct control over every aspect of a note’s pitch.” Even more amazing than Evett’s skilled electric guitar technique and the great players on hand are his songs and vocals which mix a Beatles and Robbie Robertson inspired sound with a post-progressive roots-pop groove. Evett also has gained acclaim among his peers opening for renowned guitarists like Joe Satriani with Joe himself adding, “Ned Evett plays a mirrored glass fingerboard in a completely new and exciting way.” One can only hope Evett gets to further refine his pop leanings and innovative Fretless guitar work and with a little luck gets to record even more infectious pop albums in the spirit of the brilliant Circus Liquor.


Walking All The Way
(Wannaplay )

Singer-songwriter Todd Sharp proceeds to cover a wide range of pop, country and blues rock territory on his underrated 2001 CD Walking All The Way. The lead off cut on the CD, the excellent “Right As Rain” sounds like a long lost Emmit Rhodes or Paul McCartney outtake from the early ‘70s. Sharp earned his stellar reputation playing guitar for Rod Stewart, Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie. One of those records that really hooks you with a second listen, Walking All The Way features fine backup from drummers Lynn Williams and Vince Santoro along with guest slots from vocalists Delbert McClinton and Bekka Bramlett with the sound spotlight focused right on Sharp’s searing electric guitar and righteous vocals.

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