Discussion Sunday, October 3 at 4:00 pm EST

Stack of vinyl long playing records with Willie Nelson’s ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ lying on top of a Hi-Fi System record deck in a music room

Jessica Lee McMillan presented The Riff’s Album of the Month Club, Gorillaz ‘Demon Days’, to a jury of her peers on Sunday 12 September. And what a fine job she made of it.

Album of the Month reminds me of the 1960s UK 30 minute TV pop-music show called Juke Box Jury (a concept stolen from a 1950s American TV show of the same name). A panel made up of celebrities — actors, sports personalities, and singers — listened to the latest record releases. They discussed the merits of the song and voted it either a Hit or a Miss…

After Hendrix

By the time I got to Woodstock
I had witnessed
The House of a rising Son
At the crossroads, down
In the delta of a Mississippi
Still burning. Then,
Waded my way up Ol’ Man River
To Chicago & conjured cosmic reign
Till dawn rode the blue train, alongside

Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon
& of course Muddy Waters,
Inventor & epitome
Of a down home blue electricity
Often heard, but
Seldom seen, until the coming
Of Jimi on the last
Of those 3 days of peace & music
Where he bled light & shed sound
On his Experience, in a technicolor
Vision of purple amazement.
By the time I got to…

Remembering a San Francisco Blues legend

I remember the very first time I entered the Grant & Green Saloon, conveniently located at the corner of Green Street and Grant Avenue in the heart of North Beach in San Francisco.

Still living in New Mexico then, I was on a business trip to the Bay Area and some friends invited me to go to the City for dinner and a stop at their favorite Blues club. I was a trusting soul in my mid-twenties, and going to a city I did not know, and that frankly scared me a little, seemed like a great idea.

They did…

Joe Strummer started out busking on the London Tube Station

Man busking on a street corner in York, playing a Fender Telecaster electric guitar with his guitar case open at his feet to collect any coins donated to him by members of the public

Are Buskers back?

During Lockdown in the UK, they disappeared from our streets. I was in York this week and spotted one. A young man, doing his thing, playing multi-layered instrumentals using his Boss looper connected to his amplifier via half a dozen FX units on a pedal-board.

He’s the first busker I’ve seen up north in over a year.

Beginning of this July, I spent a week in London. I saw only one busker in the nation’s capital, an accomplished accordionist. He was about 60 years old and played a melody of what sounded like Romanian folk dance music…


Something About You

While I have gone into relative radio silence over the past couple of weeks, it’s only because I and fellow Riff Raconteur Rob Janicke have been in the laboratory (pronounced the British way as “lah-BORE-atory”) cooking up something spectacular (we’re hoping) — stay tuned!

Spanning the years 1979 (The Clash) to 1990 (Jane’s Addiction) this playlist includes what is arguably the peak years for MTV.

So yea, it’s Gen X heavy.

For me, that sweet spot of MTV is 1984 to about 1989. It’s when the network was really at the forefront of all things musical.

Sure they did dumb…

If a song is to go on forever, should it follow any guidelines?

There was absolutely no truth to the thought that “Hey Jude” is the song that could go on forever. And now, even you are getting it the wrong way, perhaps. No! “Hey Jude” is just as flawless as your mother thinks it is (though she was born a long, long time ago). It goes on for 7:11 (no pun intended), and every repetition of that ethereal “la la” loop is obligatory. You cannot change or shorten it without the possibility of being trolled. But still, it cannot go on forever! And neither can this Rod Bernard song that defies the…

Name the tunes!

Welcome to The Riff’s Riddles. Are you ready to name the band and tune for two songs?

The first one is pretty easy:

1971 Megahit
Can you name this song?
The band is a heavy blimp,
The climb is lifelong.

The second one is a little more challenging:

1994 hit
The album title is kind of a turd.
The band’s name is two words;
One word pairs well with red,
And makes the holiday season bright.
The second word is the opposite of night.
The song title is also two words;
Both things can hold many items separately,
But when paired together, they become the definition of useless.

If you feel the need to…

Music for your soul.

Lyrics tell a story, give perspective, and narrate how the listener will receive the message being conveyed. Instrumental songs, on the other hand, are like blank greeting cards — the artist presents you with a pretty package but the message is entirely up to you! Here are some of my favorite instrumental nuggets of deliciousness!

1. Crystalize — Lindsay Sterling

“Wow.” That’s my response to this song. I stumbled upon this years ago and it has remained a shivering staple since. So good…So, so, good!

2. You Wish — Nightmares on Wax

The first time I heard this song was at a local wine bar, sitting…

That I Feel Absolutely No Guilt About Adoring

Paul Combs recently created a collection of songs he was embarrassed to admit that he loved. He confessed to liking Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time,” so I will give him credit for a true attempt.

But he did not sink nearly low enough. Because I have even less shame and worse musical taste than Paul, I’m upping the musical ante.

These are bad. Deliciously, delightfully, delectably bad, bad, bad!

And I love every. single. one. of. them!

A reminder that I was deep in the alt 80s scene. I wasn’t goth — my make-up and hair were normal. But…

Exclusive essay about the Replacements album “Tim” by Jim Lindberg, Pennywise singer and author of “Punk Rock Dad”

“Hold My Life” by Jim Lindberg — Full essay excerpt from Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation of Power Pop (Rare Bird Books).

The first time I heard the Replacements song “Hold My Life” was during college in San Diego. I lived alone in a tiny studio apartment off Fifty-Sixth Street in off-campus housing with students who were either too cool or too old for the dorms, drunkenly partying until all hours of the night. There were rows of two-story apartment buildings on either side of the street on a sloping hill, usually shaped like a horseshoe around an…

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