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ROCK METAL WEBZINE HELSINKI

by: Markus Ganzherrlich

The second album from Minnesota's veteran Michael E. Owens is a real gem that seriously shouldn't pass unnoticed. 15 tracks, of which the last one is a live bonus cut from Owens' reunited band Fingerprints, have been released on his own label and self-produced and engineered in his own Blackberry Way studio divinely: it often happens that the drum machine that he used on this record sounds so warm to have you believe there's really a person behind the drum kit. As to the rest, he sings and plays almost all the remaining instruments besides a few guest vocalists and musicians.
The production turns out to be crystal-clear and powerful, whereas the mixing work remains in movement between L, C and R within each of the 14 studio tracks, which contributes to the composition fluidity during the 63 minutes (including the bonus from the documentary "Jay's Longhorn"). Lastly, the mastering was performed by winning Andy Walter at the world's most popular studio, Abbey Road in London, UK.

The CD is held inside an elegant slim cardboard digipack. We immediately notice from the front cover artwork depicting Mr. Owens playing his favourite guitar what music genre we're about to deal with. The artwork style is a tribute to Andy Warhol's Pop Art in general. To the right of Mr. Owens' picture are his name and the album title written in simple and clear letters, which is another good coupling to the music and the sounds you'll find here. More specifically, he was photographed during a performance and this is clearly visible from the spot light falling on his face from above; later the photo was divided into 4 unequal parts, of which the one on the left up was effected as in a negative film, while the colours of the other 3 portions were staunchly manipulated.
On the rear the song titles were placed on a background made of blue fabrics, whilst the inner digipack contains a panoramic photo split in two depicting the studio room with all of the instruments utilized for the recording of this lot of tracks. The notes inform us that all songs were composed by Mr. Owens and report all of the guest musicians' names track by track. Finally, the disc itself shows the same photo present on the front cover of the digipack in its original form, that is without any retouches.

The wonderful lyrics cover different situations and feelings, such as a creepy guy, the touching story about the meeting of one's soulmate, soldiers at war, a scary old man, someone rich at the center of the attention, a girl falling in love, someone who's being denied access to heaven, someone very happy, someone else who can't forget their ex, dreams, etc.

The catchy piano-based opener "Comic Book Creep" perfectly reminds us of a saloon where Rock and Blues are usually being played in front of customers in love with George Strait; there are a fiery guitar solo from guest artist Curtiss A and Owens himself, brief horns interventions, some lively drumming, and female B52-influenced backing vocals, too. We have to notice that despite the age, Owens' voice sounds way younger and this is even more audible in the following "A Song for You", where the lead and the back-up vocals sound incredibly arranged and executed, while piano and bass stand out in other spots of this agreeable, classy and classic ballad. A guitar solo using the slide technique is the final ingredient of this first highlight of the platter.
Spicy Punk Rock enriched by organ lines and cheeky psychedelic guitarwork mixing The Monkees, The Ramones, The Beastie Boys, The Doors together with a personal touch seem to be the main characteristics of "60 Cycle Rumble".
The very organ played by Glenn Manske, an important pawn in Owens' come-back, reappears in "Used Blues"; just like the title hints, we're before a kind of Blues Rock where organ and hoarse, yet delicate Bluesy vocals take the main stage embueing it with sadness; all of that gets supported by precise repeated guitar licks and fat, loud drums similar to the ones you can hear during a live show. The piece is embellished by a gentle, soulful, long guitar solo by Fingerprints' bandmate Robb Henry and female vocals in the vein of legendary actress and singer Marianne Faithfull's. The only tiny fault are 2 couples of clippings at the end of the song due to the excessive volume of the kick-drums.
"Without Sin" is a dreamy, lengthy composition which distinguishes itself thanks to piano touches and a memorable refrain consisting in a vocal duet. Of course it would have been impossible not to have completed this track with a guitar solo: well, the reality is that we have even two, the former more skillful, the latter more focussed on nuances and heartfelt is faded out like it occurs to every song available on Owens' sophomore record.
If you're fond of sweet nursery-rhymes, you'd better start by playing "Old Man Joad" right now; being Country Rock at its finest blent with The Byrds' and Soul Asylum's vibes, for sure it would have sold millions of copies in the eighties if it had been dropped as a single back then.
Introduced and concluded by faling rain drops, "Chase the Rain" is the only song seeing Robert Longhorst behind the mike, chosen because he can reach higher octaves. Between Oasis and the latest The Stone Roses, the composition contains two guitar solos enjoying a more refined edge.
The tom-toms and a few soft piano touches are protagonists of "Falling", a Pop Rock song with shy echoes and sunny arrangements. Once again the guitarwork does a slow-burn until it's able to enlighten the whole piece and make it less repetitive.

Light-hearted, short and faster, "Over the Moon" revs up and makes you move your foot, especially when it sets a Honky Tonk guitar solo in a frame.
Bar piano sounds along with Hammond sounds rule "Just Got over Being Hungover"; this song has a lazy, drunken pace, a pair of melancholic passages and a pair of penetrating Bluesy axe solos, still mixed low.
Frantic, nervous and not long at all, "You Can't Get in" brings in some modern elements to the pack of music so far delivered due to reverberated vocals and delayed slided guitar sounds that were hard panned to one channel.
Another lullaby with Hawaiian effects, angelic additional female vocals, winding bass lines, is "High Price Shoes". In the middle and at the end two ZZ Top-inspired guitar solos and Deep Purplesque organ lines elevate the piece by making it simply irresistible.
Bluesy licks, raucous vocals, smooth drumming fill the majority of "Hole in Your Pocket", however it's just when the vocals are mimicking the early Billy Idol that this masterpiece is sending thrills down my spine. Glory be!
The vocal performances are key to "The Last Thing"; first because there are interesting reverberated vocal parts, and secondly as a good 3 guest singers pop in this track of Indie Rock throwing in Americana, certain Goo Goo Dolls, The Cranberries and some doses of Tom Petty. Moreover, you'll agree with me that the first of the two guitar solo displayed here does come from the soul and is pretty moving, ending up being the best one of "The Right Kind of Crazy".
Powerful, rough and led by harmonica contributions, "14 South 5th Street Blues" is a Party Rock song played live by 4 fifths of Fingerprints, the band where Mr. Owens started playing in the late 70's, fit for concluding this second offering from Mound's artist, composer and producer.

63 abundant minutes that don't weigh on the listener at all, flowing easy without them even realizing an hour's gone. There must be something special in Minnesota, since we've been receiving only high quality musical material from over there recently, but this album surmounts all we listened to in the recent past. It possesses a thousand and one details in almost flawless harmony that will keep your attention from beginning to end.
Highly recommended!
 

MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 1/6/2021

Rolling Stone Magazine

The Replacements’ ‘Pleased to Meet Me’ Box Set Is Filled With Great Music the Band Left in the Fridge With rare recordings featuring guitarist Bob Stinson and previously unreleased songs, the collection shines new light on the beloved indie-rock band’s career turning point

By 

KORY GROW 

Kory Grow

 

Pleased to Meet Me was the sound of the Replacements trying for once. The band’s previous five LPs were snarky slacker masterpieces full of chintzy songs about hating music ’cause it’s got too many notes, ironic Kiss covers, and the occasional tender ballad, and their concerts were more like drunken hootenannies — all of this sloppiness was what won them their legend. But sometime after recording their beloved Tim album, Paul Westerberg decided they ought to grow up a little, the group parted ways with founding guitarist Bob Stinson, and the ‘Mats became self-aware.

They lost some of their danger, recording the very produced LP as a trio with a supporting cast of thousands, yet still managed to cough up two all-time classics — the beat-skipping “Alex Chilton” on which you can hear Westerberg exuberantly catching his breath and the mellow love letter “Can’t Hardly Wait.” They also recorded a handful of almost classics (“Skyway,” “IOU”), and some tongue-in-cheek head scratchers (the faux-jazzy “Nightclub Jitters” and what might be the Replacements band diary, “I Don’t Know”). In spite of some über-Eighties, ultra-reverberated production (which still sounds better than their next album, Don’t Tell a Soul), the record was the band’s last moment of greatness.

This new box set shows how the album could have been even better. The Replacements recorded a lot of music around Pleased to Meet Me, much of which came out on various singles and compilations, as well as demos, alternate versions of songs, and tunes that for whatever reason were forgotten in the back of the beer fridge.

The most interesting stuff here is in the Blackberry Way Demos, some of which came out on a previous expanded edition of the album. Eight of the tracks feature some of Stinson’s last recordings with the band, and his whiplash snarls on “I.O.U.,” rockabilly shredding “Time Is Killing Us,” and tasteful accents on “Valentine” show what the album could have been. These recordings all have a raw, intimate quality that sounded polished on the LP. Even the demos they cut as a three-piece show how playful they could be; the two versions of Westerberg’s anti-TV screed “Kick It In” demonstrate how they could give a song a facelift on a whim, playing it straight on the first demo and adding bongos and more guitar textures to the second. And the country-rocking “Even If It’s Cheap” is a nice addition, if only to hear Tommy Stinson sing the album title: “Pleased to meet me, the pleasure’s all mine, I’ve seen you here before.” The winking nature of the way he sings the verse and the bridge that sounds a bit like “Jesse’s Girl” maybe explain why it didn’t make it much farther.

Even the collection’s rough mixes — usually the most over larded part of a box set — offer new insights. Gospel organ ran through the original mix of “Valentine.” It sounds like somebody played a little mandolin in “Alex Chilton” at some point. And the strings on the original “Can’t Hardly Wait” stepped on the dropout when Westerberg sings the title.

Of the three fully mixed, never-before-released tunes, “Learn How to Fail,” is the best with its jazzy guitar line and Westerberg convincing someone young to grow up a little before they start dating, followed closely by Tommy Stinson’s hard-rocking “Trouble on the Way.” “Run for the Country,” which features some harmonica, feels a little schmaltzy, and the previously unreleased cover of Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” pales in comparison with the raving drunk cover of the same tune they cut with Tom Waits (on last year’s Don’t Tell a Soul box set).

Taken as a whole — along with Replacements’ biographer Bob Mehr’s ever-excellent liner notes (which shed some light on Bob Stinson’s departure) — the holistic skyway-view of the album shows a band that was a little looser than they would want to let on. The ache in Westerberg’s voice feels deeper on several of the songs, and the way the group could settle into a jam, whether as a four-or three–piece, sounds easier. Now you can finally hear how they tried and where they succeeded.

 

Replacements Unearth Unreleased Songs recorded @ Blackberry Way for ‘Pleased to Meet Me’ Reissue 

Three-disc set will feature band’s final recordings with Bob Stinson 

By  JON BLISTEIN Rolling Stone Magazine 

 The Replacements will reissue 'Pleased to Meet Me' as a box set, featuring 29 previously unreleased tracks. 

 The Replacements are prepping an expansive box set reissue of their 1987 album, Pleased to Meet Me, featuring an assortment of rarities and unreleased tracks, including Bob Stinson’s final recordings with the band. The set will arrive October 9th via Rhino. 

The collection will boast 29 previously unreleased tracks, including demos, rough mixes and outtakes. To coincide with the box set announcement, the Replacements shared six of those unreleased songs on digital platforms: Rough mixes of “Alex Chilton,” “Never Mind,” “Valentine,” “Kick It in” and non-album tracks, “Birthday Gal” and “Election Day.” 

The Pleased to Meet Me reissue will be anchored by a remastered version of the original album, along with an assortment of B-sides and a version of “Can’t Hardly Wait” remixed by Jimmy Iovine. The rarities include 15 demos — 11 of which are unreleased — recorded at Blackberry Way Studios in Minneapolis during the summer of 1986. Seven of those tracks mark the last recordings the Replacements made with Bob Stinson, who was pushed out of the band not long after (Stinson died in 1995). 

The set will feature eight additional demos the Replacements recorded as a new trio, 13 previously unreleased rough mixes by studio engineer John Hampton, and an assortment of outtakes that were previously released on the 1997 compilation, All for Nothing/Nothing for All. Other unreleased rarities include two Paul Westerberg songs, “Run for the Country” and “Learn How to Fail,” and Tommy Stinson’s “Trouble on the Way.” 

STRUTTER'ZINE Review from Holland

Michael Owens 'The right kind of crazy' (Blackberry Way Records/USA Import) 

Singer/songwriter/guitarist MICHAEL OWENS has a long music history behind him going back to the 1970s when he was part of the band FINGERPRINTS. Fast forward to 2019 and a new solo-album is out. Musically speaking it is a nice mixture of Classic Rock, Americana and Power pop. Michael has a very recognizable voice that reminds me a bit of 1960s VAN MORRISON or a very raw ALICE COOPER, while musically it reminds me a bit of ELVIS COSTELLO, NICK LOWE and STEVE EARLE. It is actually a melting pot of all kinds of 60s-80s pop/rock styles, so it falls somewhere in between all of the previously mentioned acts. Not bad at all, with highlights like the more ballad orientated songs such as Old Man Joad that recalls a bit of classic BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. I think by now you more or less get the idea of how this sounds, but it's best to check it out for yourself.

Michael Owens Blackberry Way Records

In 1986 Warner Brothers called me and requested a block of time for The Replacements. The sessions turned out to be what I later referred to as the pre-production sessions for “Pleases To Meet Me”. Some of the tracks were composed beforehand and others were worked out as we tracked them. I always felt the first attempt at certain songs like “Shooting Dirty Pool” might have had an edge on the later tracks that came out on the actual release. That is not to say that the later tracks were not great tracks but the vibe is often cool when a song is flushed out for the first time. Bob Mehr “Trouble Boys” called me a few months ago to let me know that Rhino/Warner Brothers was going to release a box set including the tracks from the previously mentioned session @ Blackberry Way along with a newly mixed version of the album and to chat about my remembrances.  I am very much looking forward to hearing these tracks again and glad that the tracks we cut are finally seeing the light of day. 

 

Chris Riemenschneider  Mpls Star Tribune 7/24/2020 

The third time might still pack a lot of charm for the Replacements’ 1987 album “Pleased to Meet Me,” which will get an even grander deluxe reissue from Rhino/Warner Bros. Records in October than the one churned out in 2008. 

Announced Thursday via Rolling Stone, the new 3-CD, 1-LP version of the beloved record features a remastered version of the original album along with dozens of outtakes -- including 29 tracks never before released. 

Among the “new” stuff are seven tracks that were the band’s last recordings with late guitarist Bob Stinson before he was fired. Those come from sessions at Blackberry Way Studio in Dinkytown over the summer of 1986 and include early versions of “Alex Chilton,” “I.O.U.,” “Valentine” and “Red Red Wine” as well as the non-album tracks “Birthday Gal” and “Election Day.” 

Seven other newly unearthed demo tracks in the collection feature the Replacements as a trio working on versions of “Shooting Dirty Pool” and the outtakes “Kick It In” and “Even If It’s Cheap” – the latter of which features the opening line that gave the record its title: “Pleased to meet me / The pleasure’s all yours.”  

The one vinyl LP in the set (180-gram) features newly issued “rough mixes” of the band’s often physically rough tracks in Memphis. It features most of the songs that made the cut on the original album, also including “Skyway” and “Can’t Hardly Wait.” These early versions were mixed by John Hampton, the engineer who worked with the album’s legendary producer Jim Dickinson at Ardent Studios. 

As with “Dead Man’s Pop” – Rhino’s expanded redux of the 1989 album “Don’t Tell a Soul” – the “Pleased to Meet Me” box set also features a booklet with photos and a history of the album written by Bob Mehr, the Memphis-based author of “Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements.”  

STRUTTER'ZINE  Review from Holland

The April Fools 'Third' (Blackberry Way Records/USA Import) 

What if NEIL YOUNG would join FLEETWOOD MAC and record an album with B.O.C. backing up here and there, well, then it might sound like THE APRIL FOOLS latest release Third. This band hails from Minneapolis, MN and is formed around Brian Drake (vocals, guitar), Brad McLemore (guitar, vocals, harmonica), Terri Owens (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Ben Kaplan (drums, vocals) and Scott Hreha (bass guitar). The band previously released two albums, the self-titled debut The April Fools, Colorwheel and Third is as expected their 3rd release. The included music is nice mixture of Classic Rock, Bluesy Rock, Americana and Roots Rock, with a clear focus on strong melodies in each and every song. For example there is a gorgeous semi-rock ballad called Long Shadows that sounds like a rockier version of CALEXICO, which is of course a big compliment for THE APRIL FOOLS! Other highlights are rockers like Bell Of Stone, My Back Pages (BOB DYLAN cover), the heavy Blues Rocker 15 Minutes and You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast. 

Tom Murray & Michael Owens will also be guests on Mikes MN Music Warrehouse  WEQY 104.7 FM Thur March 5th  8 to 10:00 Go To WEQY.org & Click On Stream Live! 

Mike will be bringing some previously unreleased tracks by Brian Drake's Idiot Savant & Robert Wilkinson as well as the recently remastered "Hands Of Time" by Tom Bright

.

Replacements Unearth Unreleased Songs for ‘Pleased to Meet Me’ Reissue 

Three-disc set will feature band’s final recordings with Bob Stinson 

By  JON BLISTEIN  Rolling Stone Magazine

The Replacements will reissue 'Pleased to Meet Me' as a box set, featuring 29 previously unreleased tracks. 

The Replacements are prepping an expansive box set reissue of their 1987 album, Pleased to Meet Me, featuring an assortment of rarities and unreleased tracks, including Bob Stinson’s final recordings with the band. The set will arrive October 9th via Rhino. 

The collection will boast 29 previously unreleased tracks, including demos, rough mixes and outtakes. To coincide with the box set announcement, the Replacements shared six of those unreleased songs on digital platforms: Rough mixes of “Alex Chilton,” “Never Mind,” “Valentine,” “Kick It in” and non-album tracks, “Birthday Gal” and “Election Day.” 

The Pleased to Meet Me reissue will be anchored by a remastered version of the original album, along with an assortment of B-sides and a version of “Can’t Hardly Wait” remixed by Jimmy Iovine. The rarities include 15 demos — 11 of which are unreleased — recorded at Blackberry Way Studios in Minneapolis during the summer of 1986. Seven of those tracks mark the last recordings the Replacements made with Bob Stinson, who was pushed out of the band not long after (Stinson died in 1995). 

The set will feature eight additional demos the Replacements recorded as a new trio, 13 previously unreleased rough mixes by studio engineer John Hampton, and an assortment of outtakes that were previously released on the 1997 compilation, All for Nothing/Nothing for All. Other unreleased rarities include two Paul Westerberg songs, “Run for the Country” and “Learn How to Fail,” and Tommy Stinson’s “Trouble on the Way.”

The April Fools & Michael Owens

Check out GREAT reviews of both records!!! 11/12/19

Thank You Darren Tracy @ http://zacharymule.com/wp/?p=4448 for the great in depth reviews of The April Fools "Third" & Michael Owens "The Right Kind Of Crazy"

Reviews by Darren Tracy, Zacharymule  (BLACKBERRY WAY RECORDS; 2019)

 

In the past, whenever I got bogged down with too many records to listen to and review, I would lump a lot of like-minded releases (straight-ahead rock, Jazz, Country, compilations,,, whatever) together, giving each a nice little paragraph (or more, depending on how many I had to write about… I remember doing something like fourteen Punk records in the course of one review) about each. I still do that occasionally, when it makes sense to do so; this one is a no-brainer: Michael Owens produced both releases, Fools Brian Drake and Terri Owens do some backing vocals on THE RIGHT KIND OF CRAZY, both records were released by Michael’s Blackberry Way Records on the same day. It really wasn’t my intention to review them together, but the final piece seemed to fall into place when the Owens record showed up at my door in the same package as THIRD. The die, as the saying goes, was cast.

 

THE APRIL FOOLS (Scott Hreha, Brad McLemore, Terri Owens, Brian Drake, Ben Kaplan) (photo credit: ERIN DRAKE)

The April Fools’ third release (thus the name of the record) features a retooled band, having lost guitarist Clay Williams, whom, I assume, has gone on to greener pastures. Williams was replaced by two musicians, guitarists Brad McLemore and the aforementioned Terri Owens. The result made the original quartet’s tight sound even tighter as a quintet. This is borne out on the opening track, “Bell of Stone,” a sort of updated psychedelic Americana. Vocalist Brian Drake has a rather world-weary rasp that is immediately the crowning glory of this song and album, somewhere between Bob Seger and a young Levon Helm. The guitars (by McLemore, Owens and Drake) seem to shimmer and there’s an undeniable sting and bite to the solo. Ben Kaplan offers up some solid drumming and an insistent, melodic bass line by Scott Hreha gives the whole thing a certain buoyancy that is not unappealing. “Long Shadows” is a tune that reminds me of both the Band (musically) and the Dead (vocally). It’s a slow ballady sort of thing that highlights the group’s four part harmonies. The piece borders on overstaying its welcome, but seems to end at just the right moment. Graham Gouldman’s (by way of the Hollies) “Bus Stop” is a shimmering piece of Pop history that gets a fairly faithful retelling here. The guitars may be a bit more urgent and Terri Owens’ mandolin adds a new flavor, weaving in and out of the mix, just under Drake’s pleasantly gruff delivery. For some reason, the First Edition’s “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” comes to mind listening to “Shaky Ground.” Could be the wah-wah guitar and utterly haze-inducing solo; maybe it’s the swirling vocals that are brilliantly scattershot, alternately overlapping each other, then complimenting the rest with a great harmony part. Owens is a lady that certainly knows how to write a great ‘60s acid burn of a tune! “If I Can’t Make Her Happy” is sort of a throwback to those star-crossed tragic lover songs from the late ‘50s, all gussied up with a new millenial sheen, and highlighted by some really pretty guitar work and backing vocals.

The Fools put a nice gloss on Dylan’s classic “My Back Pages.” This version features finely understated vocals and a Byrdsian approach to the instrumentation that has always worked so well on the Zim’s music. There’s more of the brilliant guitar solos that we’ve come to expect from this band, with the rhythm section highlighting their ample abilities with a great Hreha bass line and a solid backbeat and fills from Kaplan on drums. Terri Owens takes on the vocal duties for “You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast,” a slow-burning rocker written by Julie Anne Miller (originally recorded for the BUDDY AND JULIE MILLER album in 2001 by, well… Buddy and Julie Miller). The track features killer guitar throughout, as another awesome solo rides the cut into the fade. “Summer Sun (Redux)” has a slightly psychedelic Blues groove, a distinct highlight of this remake from the Fools’ first album. I know I’m sounding like a broken record by this time but… again, great guitar, both straight and effects-laden. Scott’s rumbling bass, Ben’s spot-on drumming and an idling organ part from guest Glenn Manske (of which we’ll hear more later) add to the lazy feel of the song, the musical equivalence of the lethargic feeling brought on by the summer sun. Closing out the record is “15 Minutes.” It’s a Country-flavored tune that features a brilliant bass part that could very easily have appeared on an album by the Jam or Elvis (the important one, not the dead fat guy). With a dobro and Terri’s mandolin filtering through the swampy miasma of the instrumentation, the drums offer a lot to enjoy just under the current. The backing vocals are a nice counter to Brian’s gruff voice. As an introduction to what’s happening in the Minneapolis music scene today, you can definitely do worse than the April Fools’ THIRD.

 

MICHAEL OWENS (uncredited photo)

Cementing the connection between the Minneapolis of the Replacements, Prince and Husker Du is producer/recording studio owner/record company owner/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist (and probably another string of slash marks that I’m missing) Michael Owens. Owens’ latest record, THE RIGHT KIND OF CRAZY, is fourteen tracks (and one bonus cut from a reunited Fingerprints, Michael’s late ‘70s band) that is as varied as the scene that spawned that first major wave of the “Minneapolis sound,” as well as Michael’s own Blackberry Way Studio and the record company that shares that name. The first track, “Comic Book Creep,” features some awesome boogie with a little bit of woogie thrown in for good measure. Owens has a pleasing, better than average voice; there’s some very nice guitar leads and solo from guest artist Curtiss A and Owens himself and excellent piano from Glenn Manske, who plays a major role on this record. “A Song For You” switches gears from a rockin’ Blues to a slow, tragic type of girl group sort of song that features strong backing vocals (as such songs require) from Robert Langhorst and Terri Owens. Also on display is an echoey, reverb-drenched solo and another strong piano part from Glenn. Sounding very much like vintage Monkees, “60 Cycle Rumble” sees Michael delivering an over-the-top vocal performance that reminds me of a younger, still-alive Wolfman Jack. Manske’s organ and outstanding guitar work from Owens make the Pre-Fab Four comparison even more relevant. As the name implies, “Used Blues” is a slow Blues that falls somewhere between Stevie Ray and Michael Buble on the Blues authenticity scale. Owens former Fingerprints bandmate, Robb Henry, offers up some solid lead work and a soulful solo. “Without Sin” sounds a little like “Minnesota boy does the Eagles” during the intro.Thankfully, it morphs into another slow-burn number with a strong Bill Grenke bassline. I kept waiting for a child’s voice to say “Mommy, where’s Daddy?” during the breaks leading into the guitar solos and, of course, anything that elicits memories of the Coopers ranks very high on my list. However, the cut, at more than seven minutes, does tend to drag on; thankfully, though, it doesn’t overstay its welcome by much. Up next is “Old Man Joad,” a kind of jangly Byrds-cum-Tom-Petty thing, only without the jangle. Continuing a nice little theme here, the number features some nifty lead and backing vocals, more solid bass from Grenke and a killer guitar melody throughout. In a different time, this one coulda been a hit at AOR, Adult Contemporary or Country radio. Unfortunately, as radio has become ever more genre-centric, it’s unlikely that today’s programmers could figure out what to do with such a great song! “Chase the Rain” is yet another slow tune with some nice guitar. Grenke continues to impress on bass as does Manske with some more great organ work. I guess the title comes from the sounds of falling rain at the beginning and end of the track.

“Falling” is not a cover of the Tom Petty song; this one has more of an Alternative Celtic feel to it (if that makes any kind of sense). The Celtic vibe is enhanced with Manske adding strings and flutes to his solid piano playing, while Kevin Glynn (another refugee from Fingerprints) adds a little added thump to Owens’ programmed drums with some live tom toms. The vocals blend into the hazy mist of the musical backdrop, leaving the listener with a gooey warm feeling somewhere around the heart. A short little ditty called “Over the Moon” follows. With a jaunty, bouncy feel, it’s simply a fun love song, evoking the feeling the name conjures in one’s mind. Gifted with one of the best song titles ever, “Just Got Over Being Hungover,” has a melody that puts me in mind of Billy Swan’s “I Can Help.” The cut is loaded with an abundance of honky-tonk piano, organ accents and lots of guitars doing guitary things. “You Can’t Get In” is a frantic little piece of Swamp Punk, with Glynn offering some percussive help while a weird Replacements vibe permeates the whole 1:48. Some cool backwards guitar and massive riffage courtesy of Robb Henry informs “High Price Shoes,” a Beatlesy piece of Pop fluff. Not surprisingly, the piece features more heavy lifting from Glenn on organ and Bill on bass. All of the above makes this one a current album favorite. “Hole In Your Pocket” is another tune that sounds vaguely familiar (Minnesota’s favorite sons, Bob Dylan meets Prince maybe?), with a tinkling piano coda and a vocal mostly buried in the mix to good effect. The sing-songy partially spoken lead vocals definitely gives rise to Dylan comparisons. The lyrical coda, “I know there’s magic out there,” isn’t indicative of this song, but… if the lyrics fit, right? There’s a slight echo on the vocals on “The Last Thing,” adding a bit of a dreamy feel to another strong offering.Again, the cut features strong organ, bass and guitar leads and solo; the backing vocals are nice, as well, with Brian Drake joining Robert Langhorst and Terri Owens for this one. A bonus track, “14 South 5th Street Blues,” features four fifths of Fingerprints (bassist Steve Fjelstad was missing from the recording/performance with Michael taking over those duties). The song, featured in the documentary, JAY’S LONGHORN, is an ode to the late ‘70s/early ‘80s Minneapolis scene’s venue of choice, the title derived from the address of the legendary club. Besides Owens on bass and guitar, the other featured Fingerprints are lead vocalist Mark Throne, the previously introduced Robb Henry on lead guitar and Kevin Glynn moving to an ancillary percussionist role due to Owens’ very organic-sounding drum programming. The quartet are augmented by former Figures guitarist Jeff Waryan on slide, Chris Osgood of the Suicide Commandos on additional lead guitar, the legendary Curtiss A on harmonica and the by-now ubiquitous Glenn Marske on piano. The rollicking paean to past triumphs is a fitting close to solid release from a man who should be a household name outside of the relatively small Minneapolis region. Darren Tracy, Zacharymule

Reviews by Darren Tracy, Zacharymule  (BLACKBERRY WAY RECORDS; 2019)


 

The April Fools