January Desk Clearing: Joe Ely, The Feelies, Jefferson Airplane And The Cars

Some random or semi-random items that have collected on my computer of late.

ZZ Top fans can help make a documentary about the fabled boogie blues rock trio. Filmmakers Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn are working on a ZZ Top movie and are reaching out to fans to get archival material for possible use. If you think you might have something of interest for them, send an email to zzfans@bangerfilms.com with a description of your ZZ Top footage, audio and/or photos.

We lost another rock legend this past week with the passing of Paul Kantner. Kantner was one of the architects of the San Francisco psychedelic rock sound as a founding member of the Jefferson Airplane. I found this great video of them on American Bandstand in 1967. I wonder if that was an episode that I watched them. I probably didn’t because I think I would remember this.


When I recently noted the passing of that ribald rapper Blowfly, I mentioned that he had finished what would be his last album. Now there is an official release for 77 Rusty Trombones. It will come out on Feb. 19 on Saustex Records – and it is adult-only material.

Coming Out in March is a book about the late Kent Finlay, who ran the legendary Texas music venue Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos. Besides this biography, entitled Dreamer, there will be a tribute album featuring James McMurtry, Jon Dee Graham, Steve Poltz, Slaid Cleaves, Terri Hendrix and other Texas singer/songwriters all doing tunes that Finlay wrote.



Joe Ely

Speaking of Texas greats, Mr. Joe Ely will be inducted into Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Association Hall of Fame on Feb. 21 (long overdue if you ask me). Also being inducted will be JD Souther, who spent a good deal of time growing up in Texas before heading out to Southern California. There will also be tributes to the acclaimed songwriter Will Jennings and the one and only Roy Orbison.

Speaking of Roy Orbison, there is a cool new video of a new “old” song of his. “One of the Lonely One” is a classic Orbison track that is only now coming out 40-some years after it was recorded. It’s the title track of a previously unreleased Orbison album that was recorded in 1969 but only now seeing the light of day. The video stars the fabled burlesque queen Tempest Storm.


Blues titan John Mayall is back with a new album. Due out Feb. 26 on Forty Below Records, his Find A Way to Care mixes originals in with covers, including Percy Mayfield’s “The River’s Invitation,” Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “I Feel So Bad,” Charles Brown’s “Drifting Blues” and Muddy Waters’ “Long Distance Call.”



Professor Longhair

You can experience the music of the legendary Professor Longhair on a new archival release coming out on April 12 from Orleans Records. It’s a never before released live album that captures the New Orleans music pioneer performing at the University of Chicago Folk Festival in 1976.

Also on the horizon is a live DVD of a slightly newer vintage. Live From The House Of Soul features some impassioned old school soul served up by Charles Bradley and the Menaham Street Band. This DVD, the first title of Daptone Records’ new video series, has a Feb. 12 release date, and Bradley’s new CD Changes arrives April 1.


Jeff Healey

Jeff Healey was a much-acclaimed guitarist who sadly died all too young in 2008 at the age of 41 due to sarcoma cancer. An album of never before heard material of his will come out on March 25. Heal My Soul, which was done under the supervision of his estate, features restored recordings that showcase his gifts as a musician.

Bob Woodruff was an up-and-coming twang troubadour in New York City during the ‘90s who has been pretty much off the radar for too long of a time. He has a terrific new album The Year We Tried To Kill Pain coming out on Feb. 26 – it’s his first album of new material since 1997.

Another ‘90s cult figure Jack Logan has a new offering coming out. Is This Some Kind of Joke? is a 13-set of songs that were based on tracks originally recorded in the 1990’s that Logan re-discovered and then turned into full songs. The Georgia-based musician first surfaced on the national scene when Twin/Tone released his critically heralded double disc debut Bulk in 1994. Joke will be available on vinyl and digital download on Feb. 5; you’d think he’d release on April 1, wouldn’t you?


The Feelies

One of my favorite bands from the ‘80s, the Feelies will see the reissue of albums 3 and 4, Only Life and Time For A Witness, respectively. Bar/None will release both on March 11 and each will come with a download card that offers access to bonus material. For Record Store Day, release Bar None/Coyote Records will co-release the Feelies Uncovered, which will contain four previously commercially unreleased cover tunes: “Seven Days” (Bob Dylan), “Take It As It Comes” (The Doors), “Dancing Barefoot” (Patti Smith), and “Bar Stool Blues” (Neil Young).

Rhino has a pair of new Cars coming out this spring. Cars, as in the band, of course. On March 11, there’s the boxset The Elektra Years 1978-1987, featuring the band’s six Elektra albums – all remastered – from their prime time. Arriving on May 6 will be Moving In Stereo: The Best of the Cars, a compact single disc “best of” containing all of the band’s big hits along with rare, single mix of “I’m Not The One,” a live version of “Everything You Say” and a new mix of “Sad Song” by producer Philippe Zdar. I remember when their debut came out and kids at school asked me if they were “punk rock.”


About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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