Posted inNews & Politics

Cheap Shot

youngwe2.qxd To the editors, The hype phrase “Rolling Stone rewrites history,” which graced the top of the June 6 Reader cover, misrepresents J.R. Jones’s enclosed Rock, Etc. article–much like Jones himself misrepresents a dozen album reviews culled from old issues of the magazine to make his “now and then” case against its recent essential rock […]

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Chess King

Chuck Berry His Best, Volume 1 His Best, Volume 2 Bo Diddley His Best Howlin’ Wolf His Best Muddy Waters His Best, 1947 to 1955 His Best, 1956 to 1964 (MCA/Chess) By Frank Youngwerth The story goes that in 1964, when the Rolling Stones visited Chicago to record at Chess studios, they were startled to […]

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How I Lost the Urge

Urge Overkill Park West, May 6 By Frank Youngwerth At least the song piped over the PA was right–Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town.” But as the stagehands went about their business, the signs didn’t bode well for Urge Overkill’s public reemergence. Flanking the stage were two small identical banners emblazoned with the […]

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See-Through Blues

Boz Scaggs House of Blues, April 20 By Frank Youngwerth Who is Boz Scaggs–an aging rock star or an enduring legend? The obvious answer is the former–after one genuinely successful funky rock record in the late 70s and a sparse string of Top 40 singles in the 80s, Scaggs disappeared to California to start a […]

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Spot Check

THE CHEESE 4/19, JACKHAMMER’S This New Jersey quartet began as a cover band called the No Future Club. The originals on its debut, Flip Your Lid (Curb), hit so close to the melodic 70s radio rock of Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, and Peter Frampton as to make you wonder why the group even bothered changing […]

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Spot Check

BIG BACK FORTY, JOHN WALSH & THE SINKHOLES 4/11, BEAT KITCHEN With pedal steel guitar and twangy vocal harmonies, Big Back Forty, a quartet from Columbus, Ohio, injects a smidgen of country into otherwise anemic songs like “Blood,” but it’s not enough to resuscitate the group’s stodgy heartland rock. Antimatter Eisenhower (National Seed), the first […]

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Spot Check

GREAT PLAINS GYPSIES 4/4, BIG HORSE A stripped-down lineup of rhythm guitar, bass, and drums gives leader Dan Whitaker’s songs lots of room to breathe on this local folk-blues-rock band’s debut LP, Meeting at the Building (Sunny Smedley). Though Whitaker’s muted vocals sometimes threaten to send you drifting off to sleep, he’s gifted enough as […]

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Doing It For Themselves

Aretha Franklin The Early Years (Columbia/Legacy) Erykah Badu Baduizm (Kedar/Universal) By Frank Youngwerth The relationship between rhythm and blues, whose performers have by and large been black, and rock ‘n’ roll, which has by and large been white guys appropriating R & B, has never been a particularly advantageous one for the former. Though some […]

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Spot Check

SLUSH 3/28, BEAT KITCHEN; 3/29, dome room This southern California quartet attempts to contemporize Smithereens-type FM rock with bluesy garage riffs a la Jon Spencer. While the instrumental drive is there, singer Johnne Peters (brother of Grant Lee Buffalo drummer Joey) sounds like he’s too drunk on his own nerdy charisma to find the groove. […]

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Spot Check

MOE. 3/21, DOUBLE DOOR If you like Primus, you’ll love this country-rock quartet from upstate New York. If you love country rock, on the other hand, head to Schubas and see the V-Roys instead. CRANES, RASPUTINA 3/22, METRO Following the departure of guitarist Matt Cope, Jim Shaw emerged from behind the drum kit to join […]

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Spot Check

MOVIEGOERS 3/14, BEAT KITCHEN Thoughtful lyrics (“You learn a lot about people when you let them talk”), restrained delivery, and a clean instrumental attack characterize the moderate Jonathan Richman-esque pop-rock on the new sophomore set from this local foursome, Twinpop (Hear Diagonally). Not one of the season’s blockbusters, but probably a damn fine date band. […]

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Spot Check

THURSTON’S Chicago’s 9 Day Wonder, featuring two ex-members of …These Days, has a long way to go to match the prolificacy (or pretentiousness) of Guided by Voices, but it packs enough melodic urgency and punchy hooks into Hrejk (King of the Snowmen) (Melt) to distinguish itself from the countless other edgy pop-rockers currently swarming the […]

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Spot Check

MILLIGRAMS 2/28, POP’S ON CHICAGO All those not offended by the notion of ultraclever pop will undoubtedly find delight in this local quartet’s short, punchy, tongue-in-cheek ditties, which belong stylistically somewhere between zany early Beatles novelties like “Cayenne” and “Besame Mucho” and the timeless vaudeville of Something Else-era Kinks. MUCHACHA, PACHINKO 3/1, LOUNGE AX The […]

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Spot Check

CIBO MATTO 2/21, METRO This unconventional duo’s new Super Relax EP (Warner Brothers) includes a bootleg-quality live version of “BBQ” that captures its manic means of working a crowd. But the disc’s show stealer is a sedate, charmingly straightforward take on Tom Jobim and Elis Regina’s bossa nova classic “Aguas de Marco.” BRICKBATS 2/23, METRO […]

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Spot Check

BIG HEAD TODD & THE MONSTERS 2/14, TOWER RECORDS ON CLARK I was as surprised to learn that guitarist-vocalist Todd Park Mohr’s nickname is an homage to bluesman Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson as I was to hear his Colorado-based trio’s bang-up version of “Boom Boom” (with guest vocals by the song’s author, John Lee Hooker) on […]