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The Ryan Hurtgen Interview via The West Coast

Photo courtesy Perfect Beings

Photo courtesy Perfect Beings

Perfect Beings [My Sonic Temple]brings together elements that are well reminiscent of GenesisThe Lamb Lies Down On Broadway /  YesGoing For The One era Prog Rock with a new twist to a new era of sound with the spontaneous yet well thought out instrumentation recorded almost completely live with  strong vocals plotting out a rock opera for the modern chip ready times.

While Perfect Beings played it safe at first by posting the more ballad oriented “Walkabout” to YouTube, this only eludes to the multi-textured beast of greatness that goes from “Helicopter” with its “Going For The One” modern arena prog rock that could touch a lot of fans of the genre in the sweet spot of the ears that has been missing in music for thirty plus years to the 2112/Neil Peart style of ideas within the mammoth “Removal of The Identity Chip”  which could be a modern take on “Watcher Of The Skies”.

Johannes Luley during recording session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Johannes Luley during recording session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Founded upon the nucleus of guitarist, Johannes Luley [Moth Vellum] and vocalist / songwriter,  Ryan Hurtgen [Rene Breton], Perfect Beings does not disappoint on their freshmen release with like minded musicians, Dicki Fliszar [Bruce Dickinson] on drums, Jesse Nason  on keys while Chris Tristram [Slash, Marjorie Fair] manages some Chris Squire – Rickenbacker Bass squawk on some lines.

Although it is easy to reference some of the original prog era giants, Perfect Beings manages to hit some touchstones without sounding retro. It sounds fresh in 2014 and has been reviewed all over the web with very favorable quotes and every review, so far, on Amazon has given the album five stars.

To be honest, this will be the greatest prog album this year not only because they will make happy ears among die hard adherents, but, in fact, this is a great performance album that can sit on the top shelf with the above mentioned works as well as maybe Pink FloydWish You Were Here and it’s “Welcome To The Machine” motif.

Vocalist, Ryan Hurtgen is well known in East Nashville circles from a couple of years ago with his Rene Breton project. He made the move to California and in the end it has proven to be a really productive time.  Maybe it’s because he gets to surf quite often, or maybe it’s the So Cal attitude that works well. In any case, Ryan caught up with The Nashville Bridge to talk about this latest project and the meaning of music in these tumultuous unknown times in the music business.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How did you get involved in this project?

Ryan Hurtgen during Perfect Beings session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Ryan Hurtgen during Perfect Beings session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Ryan Hurtgen / Perfect Beings: Johannes had two others guys that he had on a prog rock project that he wanted me to come in and sing on. I said yes but, I never even met those two other guys. They dropped out.  The other two guys that he was going to start the band with dropped out and they couldn’t do it anymore. They had kids so, Johannes was like, “why don’t you and I start our own project?”

TNB: So, you were in from the beginning of this project?

RH: Yeah, we found the other band members through the web and started the band.

TNB: Was the prerequisite that they had to have a feel for doing the prog thing?

RH: Oh yeah. It just happened to be that the drummer, Dicki, who has played with Bruce Dickinson, has a daughter that goes to school with Johannes’s son here in L.A. and they met at a school function and they were talking about it. Johannes said, “why don’t you come jam with us?” Dicki came and we got the concept and so then there were three of us and then he knew Jesse from when he was in another band and he was totally into Prog keyboard things and decided to join the band too. So, we needed a bass player.We tried probably ten bass players and we found Chris Tristram on YouTube playing along to a Yes song and he had like a 100,000 views and it was just sick!  Johannes was like this is the guy that replied to one of our craigslist adds and that is how we found him.

TNB: I noticed that Chris sounds like, right off the bat, half way through the first song “Canyon Hill” like a little bit of Chris Squire.

RH: Exactly. That was exactly the style we were going for and he uses a Rickenbacker bass. So, we were going to go with this other guy just because we had to get the project going and then he contacted us and we were like, sure. Automatically

TNB: A lot of the ideas are like sci-fi but they are real like “Removal of The Indentity Chip.” That is physically something that could happen ten years from now. Did you guys kind of look at it that way?

Perfect Beings cover art. Courtesy of Perfect Beings.

Perfect Beings cover art. Courtesy of Perfect Beings.

RH: It’s based off the 2013 book by Suhail Rafidi, TJ and Tosc that was based on the future and it is fairly possible you know? In twenty years. We understand what is going to happen, you know how globally with the international concern how they use the tool for future ideas. Asia kind of understands this so, things are based on darkness and light and the idea would make it easy for us to communicate through.

TNB: Tell me about some of the other ideas, like “Program Kid” and things like that.

RH: Well, it’s an Opera that revolves around TJ and Tosc. So, it’s a story from the beginning and  I wanted to keep the idea of maybe dying like the portal from life to death.

TNB: Have you guys been gigging out in LA yet or?

RH: We have been opening shows out here.

TNB: Are some of the established bands aware of what you are doing?

RH: Well, we are number one on the Prog Archives. We are definitely getting a lot of really good recognition.

TNB: The thing is it fits that style but it is not a regression to the 70’s, it’s like a modern take on it really.

RH: I think it’s pretty unique, I think there are melodies with production skills, I can break it apart and then build it back up. We didn’t want to make Pop songs. We wanted to make an operatic piece of music.  I almost think that the Rock community needs to get out of the past a little bit and kind of see what is happening in the future and see places in the future. I feel like they’re really stuck in the 70’s like nothing is ever going to get as good as the golden age. You know what I’m saying? Progressive has a lot to offer like Dream Theater

TNB: I think of what like King Crimson did. Twenty years later, they sounded totally different then when they started, in other words, they are always looking at a new approach.

RH:  It’s kind of funny because, we are like mining the past in order to tell a story about the future, but it’s time to be in the present.

TNB: You are one of the most interesting people I have met. I thoroughly enjoy your progression of what you are doing and the different things that you are trying to do.

Dick Fliszar, Drums, Perfect Beings in session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Dick Fliszar, Drums, Perfect Beings in session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

RH: In this day and age, as far as a label, it’s like everything I’ve done is just like because I was interested in going in a certain direction. Johannes and I have encouraged them to do a drum solo and play just as hard and as fast as you can in a certain section and we are going to embrace the feeling of the day. We are just trying to have fun with it so then let’s make it as complicated as we can, you know. We are not thinking like “we need to have a radio single”. We are thinking, no, we don’t need to have to have a radio single.

TNB: It was the same thing as with Rush on 2112 when they were told by the label that they need something commercial  and they went totally the opposite.

RH: I remember that. It was a different culture back then. It would have been interesting to be a part of, you know. You’d have to dog your manager. I don’t know if that’s smart but, you know, artists really know what they are doing. I mean, the music industry  had these old cigar smoking guys trying to figure out what was going, so they just trusted the artist to know what was popular and what was good so you know, they got a lot of good music out at the time. Nowadays, it’s like the A&R people and the label think they know what people like and they have taken it away from artistic integrity, you know.

TNB: Yes. I think it is even more so with Engineers and Producers because of what you can do with Pro Tools.

RH: Right.

TNB: Imagine if they had “quantized” Exile On Main Street or if they had pitch-corrected Billy Holiday?

RH: Right, yeah totally.

TNB: I saw the clip on you tube about how you guys recorded and I assume you recorded live.

RH: It was a live recording, right. There is no manipulation. We did overdub but…

TNB: I know you have excellent pitch and I don’t know if you tweeked it a little but, if you did, it was a minor change because there is no metallic sheen on your voice other than a special effect on your voice on the one song.

RH: We wanted the effect of a machine so you can hear that effect but, those other songs, I sang those.

TNB:  Any ideas about touring or doing any gigs around California?

RH: We have to get some people involved first. We don’t have any kind of management or booking so everything has just been done by us. All of the recording process. We are doing all of our own booking. We all have jobs. Some of us have jobs that would make it pretty hard to be out on the road right now.

TNB: That can be difficult.

RH: Yeah. I don’t know what is going to happen.  It is going to take some time to make it happen. If it does, it will be mainly in Europe. We are getting a publicist.

TNB: Europe, that would be cool.

RH: I want to play but there are a lot of things that we need to do before we are out there touring.

TNB: All you need is money.

RH:  Why isn’t creativity, why aren’t real artists honored with money now? Why can’t artists make money now with the internet? Information is free and there is a plethora of noise you know.

Photo art courtesy of Perfect Beings.

Photo art courtesy of Perfect Beings.

TNB: It’s a scary thought. One guy is releasing his album on a satellite and Wu Tang Clan is doing only one vinyl pressing and they are going to take it around on tour and then they are going to sell it for a million dollars to recoup their cost. It’s just bizarre. In a perfect world you guys would be on Atlantic Records working with some A&R guy who is into Yes who would be calling every FM radio station to get you guys on the air. There would be stacks of records at Tower Records when the release comes out.

RH: Yeah, totally. You are right. It feels really strange to me because we just released it and like we have just gotten incredible five star reviews around the board. I think it’s a masterpiece of music.

TNB: I think it’s sits with the best symphonic rock albums.

RH: I haven’t gotten any call from any labels. I can’t get people to call me back in the industry. People who have got it and listen to it, have given us incredible praise. I have been doing this music thing for a while now. I haven’t really asked for much, I have recorded on my own, I have toured on my own, I have put out records thinking that at some point I will make something really good and I am going to get better and better and then eventually it is going to be recognized and I am going to have a career.

TNB: The only real way now to make money is selling your music to commercials or like ESPN like this local band MODOC did.

RH: Yeah, this record is a Progressive Science Fiction Rock Opera, like let’s go out and sell a Pepsi.

TNB: It’s right in there with masterpieces like The Wall.

RH: Yeah, our culture needs stuff like that.

TNB: It’s like you have to find satisfaction in what you do for yourself.

RH:  All I can say is as an artist I am going to continue making more music that is more challenging and that is why I wanted to do a Prog Rock project, because it was challenging. I don’t want to play into that mainstream system based around commercialism.

TNB: Hopefully it pays off.  There should be a double gatefold copy of Perfect Beings around.

Jesse Nason, Keyboards, Perfect Beings. During recording of the new album. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Jesse Nason, Keyboards, Perfect Beings. During recording of the new album. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

RH: I guess at this point in life I can say whatever I want and just say who cares. It’s not like I’m mad anymore. It’s almost a shame  because of what’s happening with the internet and illegal down loading, record companies have shut down, but, it’s not just record companies, a bunch  of artists have lost money. A lot of studios have closed down. Not only that, but it is people in hometowns in record stores. There’s no Blockbuster video anymore. There is no local record store. You know, those were jobs for local kids. Those businesses employed local kids in small towns all across America. They worked at a record store and not only did they work at a record store but they perpetuated good music to other kids in that community. There was a place in that community for people to hang out and I think it is interesting that we wrote this record and that is has all of these dystopian concepts in it and yet you see it happening now even with art itself.

TNB: It’s almost like half of the people that buy records now are musicians themselves.

RH: Musicians have become the commodity. Now, photographers and everything, it’s like, now I have a licensing company, pay me so many dollars a month and I’ll pitch your song, but there is no guarantee you’ll get anything. So, it’s like you have predatory music companies that have popped up all around and for good reason because everybody has Garage Band [software] and everybody can make their own record now in their own room with beats and whatever. It’s like, “I made a record and I’m going to be on a TV show.” They will never get a placement but they are paying a $100 per month and these guys are making money off of them. I don’t mean to be all negative. I am happy that we were able to make this record and there are people into this and there is absolutely a lot of beauty in the world.

TNB: We really need a product that is going to save the music business whether it is music or whatever.

Chris Tristram, Perfect Beings during recording session, photo courtesy Perfect Beings

Chris Tristram, Perfect Beings during recording session, photo courtesy Perfect Beings

RH: Well, Neil Young is coming out with PONO now.  The PONO thing is a cool thing and how cool is it that we are getting away from MP3’s? I mean, talk about saving the music industry. It really makes music sound good again. The listening experience is really important to people now and people are really excited about listening to vinyl with really good speakers and having listening parties and shit. Until people change the concept of, “I can listen to this on my iphone!” and just plug it in and have MP3’s then it won’t improve.

TNB: It’s like, I have been collecting a lot of vinyl over the last couple of years. I will pull out Bob Marley and people say it sounds like “full spectrum”. I will do a side-by-side of “Is This Love” on a CD remaster and the original vinyl and you can see the bits of Bob Marley’s voice that are missing on the digital copy.

RH: That’s vinyl, man.

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

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Tristen performing at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tristen performing at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

2013 proved to be a year where Nashville didn’t make as  big an impact nationally as it should have with no major album from either Country or Nashville sub-genres making any real impact on any national or international best-of lists from Rolling Stone Magazine [other than Keith Urban noted] to Mojo or anything else in-between.

It’s not that there were not any releases with big expectations from our region, but apparently they didn’t catch on nationally or internationally for that matter. Missing in action on the best of lists were Kings Of Leon, Paramore, Jack White, The Black Keys, Taylor Swift and pretty much every record that Nashville Scene listed as the best this year including releases by Tristen and Diarrhea Planet.

Zac Brown continues to chart his own path in the Country music scene with his Southern Ground Festival, Southern Ground group of artists that is now headquartered in Nashville  and charting records that have more to tell; just recently putting out the Dave Grohl Sessions Vol. 1, the problem is, can one list a four song EP as an album? As an artist, I definitely can give Zac kudos for songwriting, performance and outright tenaciousness.

MODOC, Soulshine Pizza, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

MODOC, Soulshine Pizza, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

It’s not to say that these were not good records, but it shows the deepening divide between well crafted music and the ability to get it out there in some way where it becomes part of the collective consciousness and not just affect the local pub crawl or mini festival.

Most stateside best-of lists had Vampire Weekend at or near the top of their lists whereas in the rest of the world they might have made the Top ten in one major publication and barely scratch the Top 40 in other important music rags and blogs outside the United States.

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Rolling Stone probably had one of the most bi-polar lists that included everything from real music artists to “entertainers” such as Miley Cyrus – Bangerz in their Top 40 list whereas Miley Cyrus isn’t on any major serious list outside the United States. Henry Rollins had a polite way of putting it this way: there is a lot of stuff that Rolling Stone writes about that isn’t on his radar.  Rolling Stone has gotten so far away from its original intent that the 360 label controlled deal signed Entertainers make the front cover regularly as well as politicians and a great amount of type space is spent driving home the Editors personal political point of view. I can’t fault them completely; there is the occasional Ginger Baker or Merle Haggard interview perfection. They even have a great local Nashville writer, Adam Gold, who doesn’t really get to write that much about the real Nashville. In a town where a 1600 word piece could be written every week about records being made and shows being played by regional Artists, nine out of ten articles are reviews of the previous Nashville TV Show plot.  Why don’t they give Adam free reign and really show what this town has to offer?

Tim Easton & JD Simo at Grimey's 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tim Easton & JD Simo at Grimey’s 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

As far as America’s perception of Nashville, I can’t fault the Nashville TV Show. There are some great aspects that I enjoy such as the cityscape backdrops and watching the “Live” performances to see who is playing in the band as well as T Bone Burnetts choices for locally written music. I always like to see folks like Colin Linden or Jim Lauderdale on the small screen!  I am still waiting to see JD Simo, Kenny Vaughan or maybe Dave Roe. Of course, if they put Joe Fick on there, he would probably steal the thunder away from the movie star. Honestly, Hayden Panetierre does really well playing a damaged girl that is trying to do her best to be good / bad at the same time. She has a heart of gold and a heart of stone that makes yin and yang seem as normal as Corned Beef Hash and Shrimp and Grits on the same plate. It just seems that when she tries to do something good she ends up screwing it up. I’m not sure if she is suppose to be bi-polar or her Mother smoked crack while she was in the womb but she sure does need the reassurance of her fans.

Mojo is probably the best music major publication in the world and they managed to have a list that was almost devoid of pop schlock and had an Artist, Bill Callahan – Dream River at number one that didn’t even make a stateside list.

In Mojo, Memphis inspired Mavis Staples – One True Vine sat at number 21 whereas it was not featured on any lists in any major American publications. What used to be true is still true, foreign music fans seem to appreciate real American Artists more than we do ourselves. Guy Clark’s My Favorite Picture Of You  as well as Jason Isbell’ Southeastern cracked some great lists without making a whisper on any stateside lists outside of Americana specific publications.

lorde pure heroineOkay, the Artist that probably really got the short end of the stick in all the lists was Lorde. Lorde’s Pure Heroine probably had more impact than any other record this year whether I like it or anybody else does. Lorde has already been ripped off by K-Tel style sound-a-like commercials for Boss and Victoria’s Secret.  They ripped her off as blatantly as if somebody had tried to write a commercial that sounded like “Honky Tonk Women” or “Brown Sugar” back in the day and just call it advertising Muzak. Lorde definitely brings more to the table than Lady Gaga’s “Fashion” going after David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” instead of previous attempts at Madonna’s eighties catalog.

Okay, as far as local goes. I think Nashville Scene got it right for the most part, but, what about Ricky Skaggs or Modoc’s new albums?  There is a much larger alternative scene in Nashville than even where Nashville Scene went with its own list.

DeRobert & the Half Truths at The High Watt 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

DeRobert & the Half Truths at The High Watt 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Although regional albums didn’t seem to impact national lists this year, there are prospects coming up in 2014. For one, Nikki Lane has those Dan Auerbach produced tracks still waiting for a drop date. GED Soul is putting out their first full length vinyl, De Robert & The Half Truths – I’m Tryin’ on January 14th. Jack White is putting out new music by The Dead Weather.  One could hope for a new Kenny Vaughan album or even a revolutionary new Country album like Miranda Lambert’s Revolution  or how about a historical Live recording like Jerry Lee Lewis Live at Third Man from a couple of years ago.

Probably my biggest anticipated Nashville area release will be the new Mike Farris album which has been a couple of years in the making and should get a release date some time in 2014.

With the prospect that album buying is an ever shrinking source of revenue and has started to become a vanity project for almost everybody but a major label 360 signed Artist / Entertainer /  Dancer / Avatar, will the “best of” album lists start to disappear and be replaced by the “best live” performances since that is where the hopes for revenue are? I can’t answer that one. I still buy CD’s and vinyl and I don’t buy shrill sounding MP3’s. That is my line in the sand. I like liner notes, credits and photos so downloads don’t do much for me.

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

It seems that music in people’s lives is as important as ever, yet twenty million views on You Tube might only translate into 80,000 units sold.  In this kind of environment, an Artist might be safer to build a following in a sub-genre such as Americana, Blues or Bluegrass and tour on that specific festival circuit rather than to try to get a grass roots following on some new angle of Indie music and try to build up from the clubs. The prospect of never getting bigger than the clubs and eternally couch surfing are enormous in the current all-music –should- be- free- to- listen- to conundrum.

I have to admit that bands are becoming creative.  The Cult talks about sending out “capsules” of music in the future such as three new songs every quarter. Jack White has printed different band names on the CD’s he has taken on tour to sell to make collectibles out of “tour bought” merchandise. Infinity Cat has put out different covers or changed up colored vinyl to keep its catalog collectible among label followers. Creative marketing is as important as creative songwriting nowadays. A limited quantity of whatever seems to be a “buy” even though it may only bring in a limited amount of money.

Will there ever be a big budget grandiose masterpiece like Rumours or Dark Side of The Moon in the future? Maybe not but, if so, it would probably come out of a big budget Kickstarter campaign for a complete vanity piece that may only sell 20,000 units due to current radio formats and the free listening or subscription services now available. If there are less units of such a great masterpiece out there than the original Ramones album, will it be found and enjoyed 20 years down the road?

I can’t give up on the fact that somehow the music business will survive in some fashion that will keep creative people out there producing something new. I love going to see a band live but, will there ever be a budget for Quincy Jones style production on real music and not the flavor of the month?

Anyways, my best of list is based on a couple of criteria. I like it and it is regional, as in, from the south or with ties to the south and not necessarily middle Tennessee. I’ll keep it to ten because there are 20 and 30 and 40 lists; why not just make it essential?

andy t nick nixonNumber 10: The Andy T Band and Nick Nixon – Drink Drank Drunk

Andy T has been a regular guitar slinger on the blues scene all around town after arriving here via California and Houston, Texas. Nick Nixon is a native son following in the tradition of the Jefferson Street scene. This mix of a stew of standards produced and mixed by Texan Anson Funderburgh was the strongest Nashville Blues record out this year with a definite Gatemouth Texas Swing Blues influence and got the two with their band on Blues Festivals nationwide in 2013. Stand-out tracks: “Midnight Hour” “Drink Drank Drunk” “Have You Seen My Monkey?”

ricky skaggs bruce hornsby coverNumber 9: Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby – Cluck Ol’ Hen Live

Ricky Skaggs has been an Ambassador of Bluegrass to the world and his collaboration with Bruce Hornsby on piano turned out to be one of the greatest live events of the past few years. This recording captured from a couple of those shows features some great jamming with Bruce Hornsby kind of going to the roots after having toured with The Grateful Dead years ago. The in-between banter gives the feel of really being there. Stand-out tracks: “How Mountain Girls Can Love” “The Way It Is” “The Dreaded Spoon.”

MODOC_AlbumArtNumber 8: MODOC

MODOC has had great song placement in the last year or so that has put their music on television.  MODOC just plain rocks and “Runnin” has been all over the local airwaves. This album still has some legs after its release in August and will get a vinyl release after the first of the year. The Indiana natives have really stuck to their guns since arriving in Nashville about three years ago and have really improved their song craft and play every date they can.  A solid album is the pay dirt. Stand – out tracks: “Runnin” “Coward” “I Want You”

patty griffin american kidNumber 7: Patty Griffin – American Kid       

You could say Patty Griffin is from Austin and you could say that Robert Plant is from England, but let’s be real, they spend a lot of time here in Nashville and therefore are just as much Nashvillian as most of us who come from everywhere from California to Australia and spend perhaps a good majority of our lives here in pursuit of musical nirvana.  This may be Patty’s current album as the reigning Queen of Americana, but Robert makes enough guest appearances to let you know he is there without calling it a duet album. The North Mississippi Allstars make an appearance as well. Stand-out tracks “Don’t Let me Die In Florida,” “Ohio” and “Highway Song.”

jason isbell southeasternNumber 6: Jason Isbell – Southeastern

215 reviews and this album is still five stars on Amazon. Southeastern should be on every Top ten list this year.  Unfortunately, this was mostly shunned by American media while in Britain and Europe, where The Drive By Truckers were treated like The Rolling Stones, this gets what it deserves. Muscle Shoals will live on forever and Jason is definitely one of the favorite sons.  There are guest spots by Kim Richey (“Stockholm”) and Amanda Shires on “Travelling Alone.” There are a couple of southern rockers but most of this set would go over well at The Bluebird Cafe. Stand-out tracks “Flying Over Water,” “New South Wales,” and “Super 8.”

tim easton not coolNumber 5: Tim Easton – Not Cool

Tim encapsulizes everything cool about Nashville in one album that includes members of Robert’s regulars from The Don Kelley Band, Joe Fick [The Dempseys} on bass and JD Simo on guitar. The recording puts you front and center listening to real new Nashville Honky Honk music. What a concept! People travel from all over the world to hear it, so why not put it out to the airwaves.  If you missed the in-store that featured JD on guitar at Grimey’s, you missed one of the best in-stores of 2013. The songwriting has some gritty stories and moves things out past toney East Nashville to Riverside.  The old plywood acoustic sits in the middle of the mix. This one sits somewhere between Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and John Mellencamp’s Sun records effort a couple of years ago.  Stand out tracks include “Little Doggie (1962)” and “Four Queens.” “Troubled Times”

north mississippi allstars world boogieNumber 4: North Mississippi Allstars – World Boogie Is Coming

What can you say when the first two tracks start out with Robert Plant on harmonica recorded at Royal in Memphis? The Dickinsons along with Lightnin’ Malcolm are taking us for a ride through Holly Springs on this essentially covers album that plays out like a Midsummer Night’s Dream where R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough are still alive and Junior’s Place is still open for all night jams and ribs. Although Blues can let out your frustrations, this one puts on a smile and gets your groove going. Stand-out tracks

“Snake Drive,” Meet Me In The City” and “Goin’ To Brownsville.”

diarrhea planet artwork 2013Number 3: Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Diarrhea Planet is probably the best live show in Nashville right now, especially if you like guitar. They one up Lynyrd Skynyrd with four guitars. I repeat, FOUR GUITARS!  Watching them is like watching a Jack Black music skit on SNL, but the guitar work is pretty good and they are always entertaining and have some strong music that is designed for live consumption. Stand out tracks:  “Separations” “Ugliest Son” “The Sound Of My Ceiling Fan”

guy clark my favorite picture of youNumber 2: Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture Of You

Guy Clark pays tribute to his wife and wears his heart on his sleeve and his favorite picture of his wife on the cover. My Favorite Picture of You is an introspective soul searching masterpiece that makes one stop after every song and process the lyrics they just listened to. If Nashville is about songwriting then this is this year’s litmus test. Stand-out tracks, “My Favorite Picture of You” “Cornmeal Waltz”“Heroes”

tristen cavesNumber 1: Tristen – Caves

Tristen proves a point that you can follow your muse no matter what style in Nashville and create something cohesive, beautiful and unique. If this doesn’t become the huge record it should then it will become a cult album that everybody will want to show their friend and turn them onto. If Mojo ever gets a hold of this one, Tristen will be over in England and Europe playing to sold out crowds for the next year and it will be tough to ever see her play in the backyard at The Groove on Record Store Day again.  Tristen comes from the world where Pop means great songs like The Beatles, The Smiths, Fleetwood Mac or Blondie. Stand out tracks: “No One’s Gonnna Know” “House of War” “Dark Matter” “Monster”

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

backtoback recordRecord Store Day has been a major phenomenon not just for the resurgence of vinyl, but, for musicologists and developing a deeper palette for this emerging generation.

One of the big features are Back-to-Back 7inch releases which have usually been two different bands performing the same song such as this year’s Deep Purple “Highway Star” with the flip side being Type O Negative’s version of “Highway Star.”

One release that could have been improved upon would have been The Stooges’ “No Fun” backed by the cover version by The Black Keyes. The current  relativity of The Black Keyes should not have been overshadowed by The Sex Pistols performance of “No Fun” as the only song performed at their final gig not only in the United States, but, as a band where Johnny Rotten stated ”We will perform one song and one song only…No Fun.”  At the end of the song Johnny is heard saying, “Have you ever felt you’ve been cheated?” That singular performance ignited the Northern California punk scene that brought forth The Avengers, MX-80 Sound and the Dead Kennedys to name a few. The Sex Pistols should have been the flip side. Can you music company tastemakers get it right? We shall see.

Let’s start with some serious suggestions for future 7 inch releases.

(Hyperlinks will get you a listen)

backtoback terry reidTerry Reid – Rich Kid’s Blues  / The Raconteurs – Rich Kid’s Blues

Terry Reid was Jimmy Page’s first choice for The New Yardbirds. Terry was busy enough with his solo career and suggested Jimmy Page check out Robert Plant who was in a band called Band Of Joy. The Raconteurs did a spot on rendition on their second album. This would be an easier one to see happen since Jack White has the label and reissue experience to make this one. “Rich Kid’s Blues” could be a great first introduction to most people for little known Terry Reid in the United States.

backtoback jimiChuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode / Jimi Hendrix – Johnny B. Goode

Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” could be the de facto rock and roll song. It is a 1-4-5 in major chords instead of 7th’s like the blues and the beat was fast. This was the song that any band could sit down and jam to see if things would work back in the 60’s and 70’s. When Jimi Hendrix performed “Johnny B. Goode” in Berkeley, California, it was caught on film and featured on Hendrix In The West and Jimi Plays Berkeley.  Jimi did “Johnny B. Goode” like he did “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, this was a total barnburner not only showcasing his ability, but, there may even be more of a mental back story then you know. Jimi’s mother named him Johnny when he was born while his Dad was away in the war. One of the last places Jimi was known as Johnny was staying with relatives in Berkeley, California before he went back to Seattle and his father legally changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix.  He wasn’t too happy about it. He insisted on being called “Buster” after a character from Flash Gordon.  So, in a way, Jimi is the real Johnny B. Goode in disguise.

backtoback hey judeThe Beatles – Hey Jude / Wilson Pickett – Hey Jude

Okay, while The Beatles “Hey Jude” may be one the longest singles ever and had a great story about Paul McCartney writing a piece of music for John’s son, Julian to help him get over his parent’s divorce, being a great supportive “uncle”’ Wilson Pickett’s version has an interesting twist as well.

It goes like this. Wilson Pickett was in the middle of recording an album at Muscle Shoals Sound in Alabama when the band decided to take a break and head out to go get some food and drinks. Wilson decided to hang out in the studio because he was black and didn’t feel like getting harassed by the locals and Duane Allman who was playing guitar on the session stayed with Wilson because he had long hair and would face some teasing by local folks as well. So, Wilson started jamming on the organ the recently released Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and Duane liked what he was doing, putting a little gospel soul into the British rock ballad. He started laying some guitar on Wilson and by the time the band got back in the morning, Duane and Wilson had the making of one heck of a “Hey Jude” cover. It was not only a great cover, but, is considered the record that started southern rock. The groundswell hit that spawned the Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and countless other Capricorn Records.

Okay how about some call and response 7inch?

backtoback bear catBig Mama Thornton – Hound Dog / Rufus Thomas – Bear Cat

Okay, we all know about Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”, but, let’s go with the original on this. Big Mama Thornton singing something that Elvis’ probably heard on the “Red, Hot and Blue” radio show in Memphis. Well, Sam Phillip’s over at Sun decided it would be good to put out a response to “Hound Dog” with the cut “Bear Cat.” The only problem was it was too close to the original and “Bear Cat” ended up in a big lawsuit at the time. Now this all happened before Elvis recorded at Sun.

Okay here is a call and response that is a really sly one. Let’s see if you caught this one.

backtoback the holliesThe Hollies – The Air That I Breathe  / Pink Floyd – Breathe

Both songs move at similar tempo and feature some lucid beautiful guitar. The Hollies have almost that slow Eric Clapton sans George Harrison lead while Pink Floyd has the flowing pedal steel going on.  It’s almost like Pink Floyd came up with the idea while listening to The Hollies. They say that Pink Floyd may have been watching film of The Wizard of Oz, but, maybe it was The Hollies as Pink Floyd sang, “Breathe, breathe in the air, don’t be afraid to care, leave but don’t leave me,” was really lead-n bridge as the first lines after the chorus by The Hollies, “Sometime all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you.”

Hey here is a debate I started.

freecovers.netQueen – Bohemian Rhapsody / Mott The Hoople – Marionette

You really need to know the back story on this to see a link. Queen and Mott The Hoople used to tour together in England before Queen really broke big.  They really got along well and Queen even referenced Mott in the song “Now I’m Here” off of Sheer Heart Attack in the line, “Down in the city just Hoople and me.” One time while enjoying “Marionette” which was written a couple of years before “Bohemian Rhapsody” I was really paying attention to the story line in the song. “Marionette” was similarly like a mini rock opera piece with changes in tempo and dynamics and told the story of a person trying to keep from selling-out, told in first person it starts out, “No Puppet, no liar, won’t bend my lips to wire.”  Before going to the chorus, “Marionette – I Aint One Yet, Teacher’s pet – will you better forget it.” Before the outro, “They gambled, with my life and now I’ve lost my will to fight, Oh God these wires are so tight … I’m just a Marionette.” It is a whole conceived story that could be with a true to yourself musician eventually losing his soul to the corporate music entity, but, the way the story is told is really resembles how Queen went through structuring a “song” like Bohemian Rhapsody” another mini-opera.

I decided to contact Ian Hunter directly through his website and the interactive Horses Mouth page to see if he ever felt Queen got the idea to do “Bohemian Rhapsody” from touring together and Mott doing “Marionette?”  Ian Hunter responded, “I’ve no idea. You’d have to ask them. You know Freddie was kinda like that anyway. They were what they were and we were what we were. We got on famously though. Still do.”

Okay, how about similar riffs?

back to back xX – White Girl / Nirvana – Come As You Are

Okay, the verse parts include similar almost dead-on riffs. X, who was considered the flag bearers of the Los Angeles punk scene, included “White Girl” on their second critically acclaimed album Wild Gift in 1981 while Nirvana slowed the riff down a little and featured “Come As You Are” on their second album for major label Geffen, oh, I mean DGC. While Nirvana did do a song called “About A Girl” I could never find a cover version of “White Girl.” The part where Nirvana sings, “No, I don’t have a gun,” is almost like X’s tag of “She’s a white girl, but I’m living with a white girl.”  Kurt Cobain described “Come As You Are” as lyrics about “people and what they’re expected to act like”. “White Girl” was John Doe’s ode to The Germs’ bassist – Lorna Doom.  John was dealing with attraction and good ol’ Catholic guilt being married to Exene.  While, he may have cheated a little “mentally” it was not John’s “Norwegian Wood” since Exene knew what it was all about at the time.

backtoback black sabbathRed Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away / Black Sabbath – Sweet Leaf

Okay, hey, Red Hot Chili Peppers sampled “White Girl” in one of their songs off of Mother’s Milk, so, were they just funkin’ thing up a bit while listening to Sweet Leaf off Masters of Reality? Hey Rick Rubin was producing the thing. Rick was also working with Slayer around the same time and he just produced the new Black Sabbath album. Rick was known for mashing things up like sampling Led Zeppelin on Beastie Boys tracks. Okay, here is my presumptive back story. Rick throws Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” up loud and lets the Chili Peppers jam with it until they come up with their own funky masterpiece.

Dude, you don’t want me running your record company because I’ll be too creative with these back to back 7 inch records and your mind won’t be able to handle it.

Well, the “Iko,Iko” super secret release was not bad.

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, Tn     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com