Not too much time to write today, unfortunately, so I will probably revisit the topic of NRBQ sometime in the near future. In fact, how about Monday? Right now, I just wanted to hip you to the band if you hadn’t heard of them.

Begun in 1967 and continuing to this day, the band originally known as the New Rythym and Blues Quartet keeps on rocking, putting out great albums on small labels that redefine the term bar-band rock and roll.

For the unitiated, the band has made its’ name being the most versatile musical unit ever created. Through the years the band has backed everyone from Carl Perkins to Skeeter Davis to wrestling legend Lou Albano (that’s right), Chuck Berry, Johnnie Johnson and just about everyone in between.

Rock legends such as Keith Richards, Paul McCartney and countless others constantly sing their praises and most record some of their songs as well. Blessed with three great song-writers, the band is never short of clever pop songs as well as obtuse, “out” songs most of the band’s fans come to adore more than the sing-along rockers.

The band has put out a ton of records on a ton of labels, most of which are still in print, believe it or not. That alone speaks volumes for the love people have for this semi-underground band.

Your homework for the weekend: go to your local CD hut and find an NRBQ CD or record. It will be well worth your money and will prime you for my next blog, which will be a more detailed discussion of the band and it’s best recordings.

The Music Nerd knows…….

You Wood If You Could

I was digging around one of my closets where I keep my Stones and Stones-affiliated CDs yesterday (now there’s an idea for a blog – CD/music organization!) and ran across a few Ron Wood solo CDs I hadn’t played in a while. Being a huge Wood fan (insert appropriate joke here)I figured I would use this space to extoll the virtues of the Stones’ longest-running second guitarist (31 years membership!).

When thinking about Ron Wood, one must start at the British beat group Birds, move through The Creation and Jeff Beck Group (where Beck relegated Wood to bass so the mercurial Beck wouldn’t have to compete axe-wise) and start honing in on one of the best and most-underappreciated boogie bands of all time, The Faces. Wood joined the Faces (originally the Small Faces – check out Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake for a pre-Wood psychedelic masterpiece) after forming an alliance with Rod Stewart who was in the Jeff Beck Group with Wood at the time.

Wood and Stewart both joined Faces to shore up the band when guitarist/singer Steve Marriot left to start Humble Pie. Wood then began a long and proud association with the best of sleazy rock and roll that, for all intents and purposes, out-Stoned the Stones.

In the last phase of the Faces’ lifespan, Wood started putting out solo albums, great ones like I’ve Got My Own Album To Do and Now Look. Both these albums were all-star love-fests that also featured fellow Brit rockers like Stewart, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger among others. Wood was already drifting into the Stones orbit and joined after The Great Guitarist Hunt the Stones had in 1975 during the making of Black and Blue.

Throughout Wood’s tenure in the Stones he has continued to put out solo albums, the strongest being 19078’s Gimme Some Neck. The CD is filled with Stones-like raunch and Woody’s Dylan-like gin-soaked vocals. It is very hard to find but still in print.

Wood fans would also beinterested in tracking down 1982’s 1234, which is out of print in the US but contains Wood jamming with several members of Devo and a few other obscure bands. Woody has always done it for rock and roll, and not just to get on the radio, and that always speaks volumes to me about a musician’s motivation and heart.

I could tell you about Wood’s artwork, which is genius, but that’s for another blog. Track down some of his solo work and tell me if some of it isn’t better than most of the schlock the Stones have passed off for music in the past twenty years or so.

Wood you if you could?

The Music Nerd knows………

Alive and Welsh

I would be remiss if I didn’t follow-up my last blog about Nick Lowe with a little something about his partner in crime in the band Rockpile, Dave Edmunds.

A Welsh rocker who had once hit the charts with a lightning fast rocking version of Sabre Dance while in the band Love Sculpture, Edmunds had only mustered one more hit (I Hear You Knocking) before becoming somewhat passe in the music field. Becoming a talented producer and one-man band while languishing in obscurity, Edmunds eventually latched on to Lowe’s early band Brinsley Schwartz and formed an alliance with Lowe while producing a couple of their records.

After Brisnley broke up, the two became a team with Lowe and Edmunds playing on each other’s records and even sharing a band, Rockpile. The way Rockpile originally worked, whoever had an album coming out at the time led the band. For example, it would be billed as either Nick Lowe’s or Dave Edmund’s Rockpile and whoever was leading sang most of the songs while the other was given a few songs for a showcase. It was quite innovative at the time and became quite popular.

It was only when Rockpile, as a band, was signed to a contract and made it’s only record, Seconds of Pleasure, that things started to go awry for Edmunds. While a great, great record, the public is really used to only one person leading a band and got confused when lead singing duties were switched. Lowe and Edmunds got their egos twisted in the leadership roles and ended up having a falling out that lasts to this day, despite re-teaming for a Lowe record in the early ’90’s.

Of course, Edmunds continued after Rockpile broke up, but his early albums with Lowe (Tracks On Wax 4, Twanging, Repeat When Necessary, Get It) are often looked at as Edmunds’ peak, despite not having any American chart singles. Edmunds went on to do a lot of outside production work (Dion, Everly Bros., Fabulous Thunderbirds among many others) and eventually hit the charts again himself, having the hit Information (from the album of the same name), which was produced by ELO leader Jeff Lynne on one of Lynne’s first forays as producer without ELO.

Edmunds has kept recording, albeit infrequently, right up until he suffered some heart problems in the late ’90’s. Rumors say he is doing fine and just keeping a low profile.

Though his best work may be behind him, I am hoping Edmunds get’s back into the studio and gives us more music. Even his lesser albums like 1985’s Riff Raff and 1994’s Unplugged have a few gems.

While most of Edmund’s albums have been out of print, the US reissue label Wounded Bird Records has recently reissued the albums Edmunds made with Lowe and Rockpile. I would suggest you search them out if you are into retro rock, rockabilly and pub-rock style music. They are all excellent, with Tracks on Wax 4 being my fave.

And definitely give the Rockpile album a try. Eventually, I’ll go through that album track by track in this space, as it has really been a big influnce in my musical life.

Who knows, it may become your favorite record…..

The Music Nerd knows……

Feelin’ Mighty Lowe

One of my favorite experiences with music as a young lad was getting my first stereo unit. I had long admired my brother’s but, after he moved out, he took the stereo with him and as my parents didn’t really listen to music by itself for enjoyment or entertainment, there was no stereo in the house for a while.

My birthday eventually rolled around and when I woke up that morning I was surprised to find a brand new stereo system in the living room complete with turntable, cassette feature and eight track plug-in. You couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face the whole week, though I had nothing to play on it at the time. That weekend, I remember going to a department store with my mom. The store was going out of business and had all of its’ music selections on sale. I had heard a song on the radio I really liked called “Cruel To Be Kind” by someone called Nick Lowe. His album, Labour of Lust, became my first musical purchase and the first album played on my new stereo.

That experience started the love affair I’ve had with Nick Lowe’s music ever since. Poppy, catchy, and witty are three adjectives perfectly describing Lowe’s music right up until the mid-90’s when he decided to accentuate the country elements of his sound and eschew the manic pop he had been playing for many years. While many of his fans probably thought he was just growing older and slowing down, he was just revisiting the music of his early days when he was the singer, bassist, and chief songwriter for a British band called Brinsley Schwartz. Though the band was named after its’ lead guitar player, it is obvious Lowe was not only the leader, but also the most talented member of the five-man group.

Musically, I would compare the band to The Band though they started shrugging off their country sounds when pub rock (a scene they pretty much originated) started taking off, before that scene spawned punk rock. So, not only did Lowe begat pub and punk rock, he was also a killer musician, songwriter, and in-demand producer whose clients included Elvis Costello (his first five albums or so plus Blood and Chocolates), The Pretenders, Paul Carrack, Carlene Carter (who he was married to for a while), Graham Parker, and many others.

As a solo artist, Lowe has released roughly eleven solo CDs as well as albums with uber-rockers Rockpile (their lone CD Seconds of Pleasure is one of the best albums ever, in any genre, in my opinion)and Little Village (not the best but not bad by any means) who also featured John Hiatt, Jim Keltner and Ry Cooder in addition to Lowe. While the first two Lowe solos, Jesus Of Cool and Labour of Lust may be his best and his best-known releases, all of his albums contain some gems and his last three country-soul themed albums are sublime and well-worth your time if you’re into great songwriting and music befitting someone who has great stories to tell and the talent to tell them.

Sadly, only these last three albums and a greatest hits set remain in print at the moment and I believe the Rockpile one has been recently reissued. The Rockpile is a must-own whatever you do, as its blazing, blistering retro rock has few peers, but any album you can find by Lowe will lend many rewards to an interested ear. It’s all great stuff and I am eagerly awaiting whatever kind of album he puts out next.

The real question is, How Lowe can you go?

The Music Nerd knows……

Give Me Sahm of This

All this national rhubarb over immigration issues has gotten me to thinking how much I enjoy the music of other countries. My current fave, one I am sure George Bush wouldn’t appreciate right now, is Tex-Mex. My fave performer of such music has always been the insanely talented and oft-overlooked Doug Sahm. The Sahm album I like the most: Groover’s Paradise, originally released in 1974 and recently reissued by Collector’s Choice.

First gaining national notoriety in the mid-60’s as a member of the Sir Douglas Quintet (suitably named after him and saddled with a fake British Invasion backstory to trick fans into thinking they were a British beat band) Sahm and his group had hits with She’s About A Mover, Mendocino and a few other classic ’60’s tunes. By the time he recorded Groover’s Paradise, however, the Quintet had temporarily split (they would split and regroup often over the years – right up until Sahm’s death in 1999) and his label had dropped him. Luckily, Sahm hooked up with the rhythym section of the recently split Creedence Clearwater Revival, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook.

Through this fortuitous alliance Sahm was able to record the best album of his career, in my opinion. Starting with the choogle-rific first cut and title tune Groover’s Parardise (a tune that sounds like John Fogerty stepped aside just long enough for Sahm to record a vocal with Creedence) the album sails on with wonderful song after wonderful song, Sahm and his new band jazzed and on a roll. As much as I like Sahm, a lot of his albums are cluttered with throwaway songs, but not this one. Used to working with Fogerty, the Creedence boys were well versed in brevity and playing great songs. Sahm was trying to recapture his career and he ably stepped up to the task. It is simply a blazing killer of an album! Hooking up with Capitol in part due to the participation of the Creedence guys, this album was put out to great critical acclaim….

but rotten sales. Sadly, this was Sahm’s last record for a major label until he teamed with Freddy Fender and a few other Tex-Mex refugees to form the country band Texas Tornadoes in the late ’80’s. Sahm did not sit still though. Thankfully, Sahm recorded like an old bluesman: if you gave him money, he would sing. Lightnin’ Hopkins had nothing on our Tex-Mex boy. In his near 45 year performing career Sahm made recordings on over forty different labels in many configurations. Solo, duo, group projects, it didn’t make a difference to Sahm. Not even genre mattered to Sahm. Blues, jazz, country, R&B, rock – he was good at all of it.

Funny thing is, recordings are still being unearthed and his legend and reputation grows every day. Everyone who loves music should have a little Sahm in their collection.
If you ever want to hear pure American music played by one of the most talented musicians on this green earth, check out some Sahm. Who knows, get this recently reissued classic and you could be living in Groover’s Paradise whenever you feel like it!

The Music Nerd knows……

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

As I promised in my last blog, I would like to devote today’s space to the person who most influenced me as far as the music I like, why I like it so much, and why I am the person I am today. That would be my brother Robert Allan Homewood.

More a father than a brother (since my own father worked so much he was rarely around – sorry, no sordid tales of divorce or prison time, just a dad with a son born late in life when he was earning decent money and had a family to support) Bobby’s love of music affected me a lot when we were growing up. With an eighteen year difference between our ages, Bobby had been exposed to music I hadn’t and was only too eager to share it with me, his nuisance of a brother. Cooler still, he could play guitar!

His favorites were the Rolling Stones, for whom he was a fanatic (no surprise that they are also my favorite band) and Neil Young. When I would ask him why all the people in the bands he liked looked so ugly and sang so bad he would just reply that rock and roll was about passion and truth other than looks or how well you could carry a tune. Of course, I am paraphrasing and shortening what he said but you get the idea that he was about the realness of music, not the facade and thank God for that as I have learned it and lived by it ever since. My brother wouldn’t tolerate boy bands and Britney and all the other poseurs who choke up the musical landscape. I don’t either.

To give you an idea: the first real concert I went to was with him in a little blues bar in Niagara Falls NY where we saw John Mooney, Duke Robillard from Roomful of Blues, and Muddy Waters. I believe it was 1980. Can you believe that? Muddy Waters!! I actually bought the tickets myself with money from my paper route as he just had a premature-born son and his job with Union Carbide wasn’t quite cutting it, but he suggested the show. He was killer! Muddy died soon after.

He was always a fan of the blues, and learned about them through the Stones, as I later did. He loved Muddy and BB and I remember going to record stores and buying blues albums because if I bought one he was interested in, he would let me come over (for a while he had a house across the street from my parents’ house)and we’d listen to it together. Often, his wife would come in the room and ask us what crap we were listening to but we understood how good it was. At least, HE did. I was just enjoying learning what was good and having fun with my brother.

My birthday hit when he was still having money troubles and I remember him giving me Damn The Torpedoes by Tom Petty and then asking me if he could borrow it because he didn’t have the money for two copies just then. He LOVED Tom Petty. And when I interviewed Tom Petty once, I told Petty this story. I don’t think he knew what to say. Bobby also liked Robert Palmer and Benny Mardones so he had a chinks in his armor like everyone else, though I still like that Mardones hit from the ’80’s. Makes me think of Bobby.

Robert Allan Homewood died in February of 1982 of a brain aneurysm. He was 34. It nearly destroyed me. I remember being called over to his house across the street by his wife Marie to get his albums and 45s because she knew he would want me to have them. I didn’t want them. I guess it was like I would have to admit he was gone. I took them anyway. For a while, I chased death like a hungry leopard. I was sixteen and not ready to lose my father/brother. I couldn’t kill myself, didn’t have the guts, so I tried to do it by ingesting any liquid, pill or substance I could. Luckily a friend got to me, and even had a drumset to bash on until the pain went away. I later learned to play pretty good and took up the guitar like my brother and play that fairly well too.

Everything I am I owe to my brother and father. After I finally got a chance to hang with my dad, I figured out my brother was just like him. Although only my dad loved Hee Haw. Now, I often give blues CDs to my dad for road trips (80-year-old guy still loves to drive)and he loves ’em!

I often wonder how my life would be different had my brother lived. I just wish I could share some of the music I have with him because I know he would like it though I am sure he is able to hear great music where he is. In fact, I AM sure of it.

Thanks Bobby – for everything.

The Music Nerd knows…..

Origin of the Music Nerd

Welcome to the first blog from The Music Nerd! Please allow me to introduce myself: I, Scott Homewood, am The Music Nerd and I will be writing this blog as often as humanly possible (okay, roughly three times a week) and using this space to discuss my musical passions whatever and whoever they may be. I have been a freelance music writer for over fifteen years (just Google my name – you’ll see!)and also a steadily gigging musician at one time in my life (but not in quite a while)and I feel qualified to comment on music because it is my passion and that’s what I like to do. Also, because I get paid to do so quite often so I would figure that means I am pretty good at it. Usually, the topic of this blog will focus on a particular artist/group I have discovered and become enthralled with and therefore, being the proselytizer I am, will want you to experience as well.

But first, you may ask, why did I choose to name this blog Music Nerd instead of the more current and fashionable term Music Geek? Well, for starters, it is my experience that most Music Geeks are obsessed with the tiniest deatils of a recording, like serial numbers and instrumental players on a particular song or album. Although I am a fanatical album cover and CD liner note reader, I have never gotten to the point where I have been obsessed about those things. There is definitely a place for those obsessions but I have always just been happy enjoying the music itself to worry about too much minutae, although I do get quite in depth a lot of the time, like most music journalists. Next, the people who are memorizing serial numbers and such are usually dealing with vinyl, which I do not, though I will reserve the right to comment about such matters in this column if something compels me to do so. A while ago I had to sell all of my vinyl to handle an unexpected expense ande, at that point, I forfeited all of my rights to comment about music as a Music Geek. A Music Geek obsesses over vinyl, end of story. I do not have any, so I am only a Music Nerd who collects and obsesses over CDs. See the subtle difference? Also – Music Geeks tend to be interested in only very obscure artists and hard-to-find releases. While some of the artists I like are obscure (actually a lot of them are) most of the stuff I will blog about will be artists/releases you should be able to find if you look hard enough. What would be the joy in telling you about artists and music you could never hear? Music is to be shared and I hope if something interests you an effort will be made to search it out and enjoy it.

So, that is the start of this blog, better to keep it short and sweet the first time, at least. The next blog (in a few short days)will deal with who inspired me to become interested in music. After that, the true focus of this blog will begin: to introduce you to all of the great artists and recordings populating my listening world. Hopefully I can help lead you to some mind-altering music or your new favorite artist. At the very least, I may be able to hip you to some new sounds that help satiate your music-listening appetite. Who knows?

The Music Nerd knows….