UW’s Attic: John B. Sebastian

john b sebastian

I recently bought, after all these years, the infamous album John Sebastian Live that MGM Records released 50 years ago during a protracted contract dispute that ended up in court and delayed the release of the John B. Sebastian album for a year and a half.

In a nutshell, MGM believed the Lovin’ Spoonful owed them an album and turned to Sebastian after the Spoonful disbanded, even though he had departed more than a year earlier. The band was on Kama Sutra Records, which had had a bad divorce of its own from MGM, its distributor. Sebastian, meanwhile, had signed with Reprise Records.

That’s how John B. Sebastian was released on both labels in 1970. (Oblivious to all this, I bought the MGM version.) Apparently to hedge its bet that the court would rule against their claim to John B., MGM put out John Sebastian Live, which sounds like an album assembled by a bitter passive-aggressive ex who wants to inflict as much damage as possible. Continue reading “UW’s Attic: John B. Sebastian”

Album review: Heart Food – Judee Sill

heart food

This is an extended version of a review I posted on Amazon for the Intervention Records package of Heart Food by Judee Sill:

My first experience with Judee Sill was in my college radio station production room, listening to her eponymous first album with headphones on and absolutely entranced from the first notes of “Crayon Angels” to the lush final notes of “Abracadabra.” It was years before I even realized she’d recorded a second album. By then CD was the dominant form, and I tracked down Heart Food and enjoyed the disc well enough, but except for “The Donor,” the transcendent finale that may be the single most beautiful recording to come out of the 1970s, I didn’t think it was quite as strong an album as Judee Sill. Until now … Continue reading “Album review: Heart Food – Judee Sill”

My favorite vinyl of 2019

cube and turntable

Rather than toss or sell the LP collection that had been gathering dust in our basement for years, I invested in a top-notch turntable a year ago and now wonder what took me so long. Vinyl outlasted cassettes and CDs and, once people rediscover the advantages of owning a copy of the recordings, I daresay it will outlast digital streaming, too.

In the past I’ve done “my favorite 10 things of the year” in various forms, but this year, having spent a significant amount of my treasure this year on musical recordings preserved in vinyl, I devote my Top Ten of 2019 solely to those records. And so: Continue reading “My favorite vinyl of 2019”

Attic musings: Linda Perhacs rediscovered

Linda Perhacs rediscovered

During college hanging-around-the-student-radio-station days, I would often sit with headphones on and listen to the new album releases, usually from someone I never heard of but they must be good because someone recorded their album, right?

Sometimes an album would blow me so far out of the water that I had to tell everyone I knew, “Holy cow, you gotta hear this album.” If there was a turntable nearby, I would sit them down and make them listen. If you knew me then, you probably remember that about me, and often you would nod patronizingly and say, “Sure, Warren, very nice, thank you.”

But a handful of albums really sank in. One of them was Parallelograms by Linda Perhacs. I think several of my friends actually went out and bought the album after hearing it. Continue reading “Attic musings: Linda Perhacs rediscovered”

In the Attic: Celebrating the Ryman

emmy lou - ryman

As Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are to baseball, as Lambeau Field is to football, so is the Ryman Auditorium to country/bluegrass/folk music.

Having made the pilgrimage to the Ryman four (!) years ago, I have experienced the magic of that hall firsthand, and so I was intrigued to stumble across Rolling Stone’s list of “The Top 10 Albums Recorded at the Ryman Auditorium.”

I assured its authenticity by ensuring that “Circlin’ Back” was on the list and immediately purchased the No. 1 album they listed, “Emmy Lou Harris and the Nash Ramblers at the Ryman” – on vinyl, of course, a crisp two-record set on the incomparable Nonesuch label.

Oh. My. Goodness. Continue reading “In the Attic: Celebrating the Ryman”

Attic: 5 songs to evoke summer

It’s been a cool and wet spring here this year – people have been making a lot of jokes about summer only lasts 24 hours in Wisconsin (and voiced a lot of concern whether the corn crop will actually reach “knee high by the Fourth of July” this year).

In truth, it’s only today that summer even begins, officially, with the solstice. Sometimes “that was the longest day of my life” is voiced in exasperation, but when you’re talking about hours of daylight, it’s just fine. People like walking in sunshine, and the more the merrier.

The sun is coming up this morning; maybe it’s been waiting for the music … Continue reading “Attic: 5 songs to evoke summer”

Uncle Warren’s Attic: Whirlwind by Maddie Poppe

Whirlwind - Maddie PoppeWe still watch American Idol closely and enjoy the revived version featuring judges Katy Perry, Lionel Ritchie and Luke Bryan, which just wrapped up its second season after crowning the 17th Idol, one Laine Hardy.

The program faded on Fox after gaining a reputation for selecting fairly generic “white guys with guitars,” and I’m afraid Hardy fits that stereotype, but last year’s winner, Maddie Poppe, broke that mold and so did almost everyone in this year’s Top 10 except for Hardy. Continue reading “Uncle Warren’s Attic: Whirlwind by Maddie Poppe”

Uncle Warren’s Attic: She Remembers Everything by Roseanne Cash

she remembers everything

Roseanne Cash told a story in her memoir Composed that inspired Steven Pressfield so much that he included it in his book Turning Pro, about the mindset needed to make a living creating art.

She had a dream one night that she was at a party at Linda Ronstadt’s house, and she walked up to Linda while she was talking to a man named Art. She tried to inject herself into the conversation, but Art looked at her dismissively and said, “We don’t respect dilettantes,” and turned away. The dream cut to the core of the uneasiness Cash had about the way her career was going, and she took her music more seriously from that day.

Rosanne Cash She Remembers EverythingThe story moved me, and when I found Roseanne Cash’s new album, She Remembers Everything, in the vinyl section of Barnes & Noble, it came home with me and has been spending a lot of time on the turntable. Continue reading “Uncle Warren’s Attic: She Remembers Everything by Roseanne Cash”