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GAR FRANCIS-The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

I am not sure if there is anything Gar Francis cannot do. The Guru Of Garage has swung his guitar into The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same. Released in 2010 to the European market only, the 12 track album of Americana has finally hit North American shores and has been released by New Jersey’s Bongo Boy Records.

gf3The opening track, “Midnight In Rome“, delivers a great melody, with wonderful changes. The guitar picking is cool as hell, while the keys smolder under a hot vocal track. “How Its Supposed To Be” has an insanely powerful chorus but it takes nothing away from the licks and riff, and the dynamite organ. The Latin feel of “Palaces”  is wonderfully created by bongos, acoustic guitar, strings and organ. The effects on the harmonies are brilliant, and I dig the ‘Mexicali” themed guitar solo! “Down At The Ocean Gate” offers a great acoustic guitar solo, and way cool harmonies amid multi-tracked guitars. I like the mandolin and bongos on “Bank Of The River“, the way cool reverb of the almost rockabilly “Ole Tom’s River“, and the wonderfully Dylanesque feel to “Another Cowboy Rides” , with its great organ, guitar solo, cool riffs, and a dynamite vocal track.

 

 

The jug band vibe of “She’s Still Blue” proves once and for all that Gar Francis can write and play anything! The washboard and concertina are amazing, and the melody, so sweet. Gar’s vocals are spectacular on “Raise A Hand“, and the song’s socio-political gf4message resonates, at least,with me. The melody and harmonies highlight some way cool changes and incredibly melodic instrumentation. “The Sun Will Never Go Down” offers cool changes, a great chorus, a wonderful bass run, and beautiful choral style harmonies. I like this track. The acoustic guitar solo in “Adeline” shines amid the mandolin and bongos. The song is beautifully simple yet manages a great bridge, a dynamite chorus, and a wonderful ending. And, that leaves “Oh Annie“, my favorite track on the album. The wonderful chorus, dynamite guitar, including a way cool riff, an amazing melody, and some great organ, make this the standout track. A wonderful song with a way cool blues-rock-folk-country thing going on, that is reminiscent of Levon Helm and The Band. “Oh Annie, someone’s got to settle you down“. Indeed.

gf54This album demonstrates just how talented Gar Francis is. As a song writer; as a producer; as a musician, and a performer. I hear rockabilly, jug band, Latin, roots, blues, folk, and rock. I listened to bongos, banjo, mandolin, and organ. I heard a washboard, a concertina, and I think an upright bass. There are vocal and guitar effects. But most importantly, there are 12 incredible tracks that will hold you from beginning to end. I have been a Gar Francis fan for years, and this album has me wondering, why isn’t everybody? Get it as soon as you can. Then, put on your cowboy boots, grab your honey and have a blast. The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same is a must have album. Get yours here:  http://www.bongoboyrecords.com/Albums.html.  You can stream some of Gar’s other music here:  

 

 

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AND THE BANDS PLAY ON

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

americaI was recently at the local track here in Toronto, and was surprised to see a billboard advertising a performance by America. America? “Ventura Highway“, “Lonely People“, “Sister Golden Hair“, America? Yep, that America. I was surprised for two reasons: What was this band doing playing at at race track, and secondly, can there really be an America without Dan Peek?

3dognightIt has become increasingly common for bands to continue on following the death or departure of one of the founding members. Years ago I went to Casino Rama to see Three Dog Night and was somewhat disappointed that only two of the Dogs appeared. Chuck Negron was not touring with the band at that time. It was a great show, but Chuck’s vocals were noticeably absent.

It appears that if the “front man” is strong and charismatic enough a band can go on without missing a beat following the departure of a member. The Rolling Stones moved on following the departure and subsequent untimely death of Brian Jones, replacing him with Mick Taylor and then with Ronnie Wood. Bill Wyman’s departure had no impact either-he was replaced by Darryl Jones. Following the death of Keith Moon in 1978, The Who released 2 albums of moderate success and disbanded in 1983. The remaining 3 members continued to perform until John Entwhistle’s death in 2002. Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend continue to perform as The Who, but are they really?

yes-band-np01Yes has taken to touring, performing entire albums of The Yes Album, Close To The Edge, and Going For The One. I was always a huge Yes fan. From Time And A Word up to Relayer. Never really like Going For The One or subsequent albums.. Hard to imagine Close To The Edge without Jon Anderson! Hard to imagine Yes without Jon Anderson!

INXS1INXS is another failed attempt to carry on. Following the death of singer Michael Hutchence in 1997, the band attempted to replace him with vocalists Jimmy Barnes, Terrance Trent D’arby and Jon Stevens. Really? With little success, the band participated in a reality show, Rock Star:INXS in 2005 and selected J.D. Fortune as their new lead singer. He was replaced by Ciaran Gribbon in 2011 and the band formally put an end to their misery in 2012.

Skynyrdpic7301The saddest of these attempts at carrying on, is Lynyrd Skynyrd. Following the death of Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines in 1977, Skynyrd disbanded. 10 years later, they reformed, using Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie’s younger brother as vocalist. (There is a 3rd brother, Donnie, better known as the lead singer for 38 special). Currently there is only 1 original member left in the band. Yet they tour and record as Lynyrd Skynyrd!  Apparently, owning the name or getting consent to use the name, gives anyone an opportunity to try to be Lynyrd Skynyrd. I have heard this incarnation, and no one, and I mean no one can sing “Gimme Three Steps  “, “You Got That Right“, and “What’s Your Name” like Ronnie Van Zant. May as well they bring on “Miami” Steve Van Zandt as the front man! Yeah, I know its spelled differently, but what difference does it make? Still not Ronnie Van Zant!

The-BeatlesIs everyone replaceable in a band? Impossible to believe that any one of The Beatles could have left and the band carried on. Perhaps they would have had to find look a likes. AC/DC replaced Bon Scott and had remarkable success. Journey replaced Steve Perry with a sound alike. So who is dispensable? It doesn’t make much of a difference to me. Don’t try to sell me tickets to The Grateful Dead without Jerry Garcia. Don’t tell me The Band is reuniting without Danko, Helm and Manuel. And don’t ask me to listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd without Ronnie Van Zant.

Is it really so difficult to disband and carry on under a new name?  Would U2 be U2 without The Edge? Jefferson Airplane had the decency to reform as Jefferson Starship. Its not about respect but rather a belief that the great music that had been created should be a legacy of a great band. Leave it as such. Reform under a different name, but let me remember Lynyrd Skynyrd, INXS, America and many others as they were. Amazing bands with a catalog of great music. Replacements never quite do the music justice, and more often than not, destroy the legacy left by these incredibly gifted musicians.

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