Category Archives: Music on Mondays

Music on Mondays (11-28-16)—My Maserati does 185

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

1978 was the first year where I had my own apartment and a good-paying job, and could buy whatever music I wanted, when I wanted. No having to wait for sales or hoping someone would give me an album for my birthday or Christmas.

In looking back at 1978 now, I don’t think it was one of the best years in the history of rock ‘n’ roll music. The Bee Gees might disagree with me….

I have 40 hours, 29 minutes, and 10 seconds of music from 1978. Many of my favorite artists released albums in 1978:

“Rarities” by The Beatles
“London Town” by Wings
“Street Action” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
“Heavy Horses” by Jethro Tull
“But Seriously, Folks” by Joe Walsh
“Double Vision” by Foreigner
“Octave” by The Moody Blues
“Who Are You?” by The Who
“Skynyrd’s First & Last” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
“52nd Street” by Billy Joel
“Jazz” by Queen
“Minute By Minute” by The Doobie Brothers
“Never Say Die” by Black Sabbath

A few groups caught my attention with debut albums, follow-up albums, or albums in the very early years of their careers, and have become favorites of mine over the years: Quiet Riot, Rainbow, AC/DC, Foghat, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Dire Straits, The Cars, Whitesnake, Boston, Midnight Oil.

Two groups that I never really liked released albums that I did like: The Rolling Stones with “Some Girls” and The Police with “Outlandos d’Amour.”

By the slimmest of margins, I believe I would have to choose The Cars eponymous debut album as my favorite from 1978. There’s not a bad song on it, and I can sing all the songs, in order, while sitting on the beach.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The list of #1 hits from 1978, according to the Billboard Hot 100 chart, looks like this:

Jan 7 – “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees
Jan 14 – “Baby Come Back” by Player
Jan 21 – “Baby Come Back” by Player
Jan 28 – “Baby Come Back” by Player
Feb 4 – “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
Feb 11 – “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
Feb 18 – “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
Feb 25 – “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
Mar 3 – “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” by Andy Gibb
Mar 10 – “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” by Andy Gibb
Mar 17 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
Mar 24 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
Mar 31 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
Apr 7 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
Apr 14 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
Apr 21 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
Apr 28 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
May 5 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
May 12 – “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman
May 19 – “With a Little Luck” by Wings
May 26 – “With a Little Luck” by Wings
Jun 2 – “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” by Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams
Jun 9 – “You’re the One That I Want” by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John
Jun 16 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb
Jun 23 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb
Jun 30 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb
Jul 7 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb
Jul 14 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb
Jul 21 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb
Jul 28 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb
Aug 4 – “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones
Aug 11 – “Three Times a Lady” by the Commodores
Aug 18 – “Three Times a Lady” by the Commodores
Aug 25 – “Grease” by Frankie Valli
Sep 1 – “Grease” by Frankie Valli
Sep 8 – “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey
Sep 15 – “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey
Sep 22 – “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey
Sep 29 – “Kiss You All Over” by Exile
Oct 6 – “Kiss You All Over” by Exile
Oct 13 – “Kiss You All Over” by Exile
Oct 20 – “Kiss You All Over” by Exile
Oct 27 – “Hot Child in the City” by Nick Gilder
Nov 3 – “You Needed Me” by Anne Murray
Nov 10 – “MacArthur Park” by Donna Summer
Nov 17 – “MacArthur Park” by Donna Summer
Nov 24 – “MacArthur Park” by Donna Summer
Dec 1 – “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond
Dec 8 – “Le Freak” by Chic
Dec 15 – “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond
Dec 22 – “Le Freak” by Chic
Dec 29 – “Le Freak” by Chic

22 of the 52 weeks were topped by people with the last name Gibb, and I spent a lot of time at the dance clubs dancing to their music.

Of the 1978 singles, I’m going to go with “Kiss You All Over” by Exile as my favorite.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Probably my favorite song for 1978, single or album cut, is “Life’s Been Good To Me” by Joe Walsh. Just can’t stop singing it whenever I hear it.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Music on Mondays (11-14-16)—You may say I’m a dreamer; am I the only one?

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As long-time readers know, I have a lot of digital music, split about evenly in two collections, classical music and non-classical music. I listen to an average of 10 hours each and every day. Common questions I get about music include:

  • Who’s your favorite group?
  • What’s your favorite song?
  • What’s your favorite album?

My favorite group by far is The Beatles. One might think, then, that my favorite song and favorite album might also be by The Beatles. I’m not sure, but The Beatles do have several songs and albums in my Top 20.

I listen to my non-classical music in chronological order, and each time I start over, I decided to determine my favorite song and my favorite album. By the time I finish the Sixties, I have given up.

I am in 1975 right now, and I think I did determine what is my favorite year. It’s 1971. I have jumped ahead and looked at the upcoming years, but once we get out of the Seventies, the amount of music in each year starts decreasing significantly.

Here is a list of albums in my 1971 collection:

  1. First Album – ZZ Top
  2. Salisbury – Uriah Heep
  3. Chicago III – Chicago
  4. Paranoid – Black Sabbath
  5. Crazy Horse – Crazy Horse
  6. Love It To Death – Alice Cooper
  7. The Yes Album – Yes
  8. Percy – The Kinks
  9. Aqualung – Jethro Tull
  10. Manna – Bread
  11. Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones
  12. The Doobie Brothers – The Doobie Brothers
  13. Survival – Grand Funk
  14. Bloodrock 3 – Bloodrock
  15. Thirds – The James Gang
  16. Songs For Beginners – Graham Nash
  17. Ram – Paul & Linda McCartney
  18. L.A. Woman – The Doors
  19. Indelibly Stamped – Supertramp
  20. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour – The Moody Blues
  21. Fireball – Deep Purple
  22. Master Of Reality – Black Sabbath
  23. Who’s Next – The Who
  24. April Wine – April Wine
  25. Harmony – Three Dog Night
  26. Look At Yourself – Uriah Heep
  27. Imagine – John Lennon
  28. Electric Warrior – T Rex
  29. American Pie – Don McLean
  30. Other Voices – The Doors
  31. Distant Light – The Hollies
  32. Meddle – Pink Floyd
  33. Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be – The Sweet
  34. Sittin’ In – Loggins & Messina
  35. Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin
  36. Nilsson Schmilsson – Nilsson
  37. Fragile – Yes
  38. E Pluribus Funk – Grand Funk
  39. Madman Across The Water – Elton John
  40. Killer – Alice Cooper
  41. Trafalgar – Bee Gees
  42. For Ladies Only – Steppenwolf
  43. Straight Up – Badfinger
  44. The Electric Light Orchestra – The Electric Light Orchestra
  45. Wild Life – Wings

That’s 29 hours, 48 minutes, and 23 seconds of music. Takes me three days to listen to it.

If I did the A/B, A/C, A/D, A/E test, I’m pretty sure Led Zeppelin IV would come out on top for 1971. After that, #2 probably would be between Paranoid – Black Sabbath, Ram – Paul & Linda McCartney, L.A. Woman – Doors, Who’s Next? – The Who, and Killer – Alice Cooper. I can’t decide. See? That’s why I give up.

As far as favorite songs for 1971, do I give it to Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, Imagine by John Lennon, or Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who? What about How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? by the Bee Gees? Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull? Without You by Nilsson? Day After Day by Badfinger? I give up, again.

In light of what happened in the presidential election last Tuesday, perhaps a couple of songs and song titles have a message: Imagine, Stairway to Heaven, and Won’t Get Fooled Again. Here they are:

Imagine by John Lennon

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Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

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Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Music on Mondays (11-7-16)—You can be a point of light!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tomorrow is voting in the States of America. Not sure I can call them United at this point.

Back around 2001 or so I was sitting in the yard with my wise old grandmother, her youngest two sons and their families, and my not-yet-husband-because-gays-couldn’t-get-married-he’s-now-my-husband, Jim.

We were in Riviera, Texas, about 12 miles south of Kingsville. Kingsville, my home town, is the halfway stopping point between Corpus Christi and Brownsville. It’s also the yay-we-made-it-across-the-border-with-our-cargo stopping point for drugs entering Texas from the south at Brownsville.

As our conversation turned to politics, Rodney, the oldest of the two sons, started condemning everyone who wasn’t white Anglo-Saxon Catholic. He used every curse word in the books as descriptive adjectives modifying every racial and ethnic epithet in the book. It was the last time I ever visited Kingsville or any of my family in Texas, including my wise old grandmother since she died in 2003. The younger son died in 2005 and Rodney died in 2007.

This person who goes by the proper name of Donald Trump (I have other names for him) could be Rodney re-incarnated. That’s why what comes out of Trump’s mouth only surprises me because he is the defacto leader right now of the Republican Party. He has given people like Rodney permission to come out of their yards and into the public, inciting hatred and violence and saying it’s okay. It’s so sad to see this in one of our (so-called) leaders, especially one who wants to be the leader of the free world.

Music is one way that I get through all days but especially the difficult days. Unfortunately, with this election season the difficult days are numerous.

Let’s explore then, some of the music that has been created over the decades about elections and voting. First up is my favorite,

“Vote for me!” by Joe Walsh.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Elected” by Alice Cooper

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos:

“Campaigner” by Neil Young

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“Rise Up” by Sheryl Crow

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“Point of Light” by Randy Travis

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There’s a point when you cannot walk away
There’s a darkness that everyone must face
There are heroes whose names we never hear

When you have to stand up straight and tall and mean the words you say
It wants to take what’s good and fair and lay it all to waste
A dedicated army of quiet volunteers

There’s a point you must decide just to do it ’cause it’s right
And that darkness covers everything in sight
Reaching out to feed the hungry reaching out to save the land

That’s when you become a point of light
Until it meets a single point of light
Reaching out to their fellow men.

All it takes is a point of light a ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what’s wrong and you try to make it right you will be a point of light.

There are dreamers who are making dreams come true
Taking time to teach the children there’s nothing they can’t do.
Giving shelter to the homeless giving hope to those without.
Isn’t that what this land’s all about.
One by one form the mountains to the sea points of light
Are calling out to you and me

All it takes is a point of light a ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what’s wrong and you try to make it right
You will be a point of light

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Music on Mondays (10-31-16)—Happy Halloween!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On October 10, I was backing up my big internal hard drive to a big external hard drive when both hard drives decided to crash simultaneously. I bought my first computer in 1978 and this is only my second and third hard drive crashes, so maybe I’m due.

I had a data recovery center work on the hard drives, and while they did recover 100% of my data, I then had to get my data back onto a computer so I could use it. I’ll tell you, when 100% of your life disappears, you don’t really know what to do. I spent exactly three weeks, to the minute, October 10 noon to October 31 noon not knowing if I could keep any of my businesses and activities going on. I didn’t even know what to do each day because my life is run 24/7 by Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. I was so depressed that I couldn’t get up the energy to get my camera, jump into the car, and head out into the world to take new pictures. Taking pictures usually is the easiest way for me to deal with depression, but in this case all it did was remind me that I had lost 100% of about a million pictures. So, that’s where I have been for the last three weeks, just in case anyone missed me.

Meanwhile, today is Halloween, and I can tell you that losing your computer work is definitely spooky. So let’s explore a little spookiness in music and pictures from my personal collection, which I have back.

Happy Halloween from Russel Ray photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos:

Happy Halloween from SBB (Scary Boo Birds)!Happy Halloween from the Scary Boo Birds at Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Happy Halloween from the VW Spider!Happy Halloween from the VW Spider at Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Happy Halloween from Tony the Tarantula!Happy Halloween from Tony the Tarantula at Russel Ray Photos!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Happy Halloween from Gary the Garden Spider!Happy Halloween from Gary the Garden Spider at Russel Ray Photos!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Happy Halloween from Al the Albino Burmese Python!

Happy Halloween from Al the Albino Burmese Python at Russel Ray Photos!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Music on Mondays (10-3-2016)—”Daddy’s Car”

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Although I am officially a Baby Boomer, I identify much more with the post-World War II television generation. Not sure if there is such a gen, but if there isn’t, there should be.

My favorites were TV programs that my wise old grandmother deemed “silly.” In other words, things that “aren’t true and never will be.”

She was watching “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.”

I was watching “The Twilight Zone.”

Her, “Mayberry R.F.D.”

Me, “The Outer Limits.”

Her, “Leave It To Beaver.”

Me, “It’s About Time.”

I have always been fascinated by robots, artificial intelligence, the future, the unknown. Even my favorite cartoon was about the future—“The Jetsons,” a 1962 cartoon depicting a family of the future. What would my wise old grandmother say about all the silly Jetsons’ stuff that has come true? Flying cars, jet packs, robotic help, holograms, 3-D printed food, drones, smart shoes, smart watches, even little Elroy taking a trip to the moon with his Cub Scout pack.

Technology here, today.

It got more exciting for me: “Star Trek,”  “Lost In Space,” “The Time Tunnel.”

My fascination with all things silly and not possible shot up last week when it was announced that an artificial intelligence (AI) program had written a Beatles song. Hmmmm. Here it is:

“Daddy’s Car”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In all fairness, only the music was composed by the AI program. French composer Benoît Carré arranged and produced the song, and wrote the lyrics.

What do I think? Well, I can see “Daddy’s Car” being on “The Beatles Anthology” CDs right alongside “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love.”

“Free As A Bird”

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“Real Love”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As Sir Paul McCartney said about “The Anthology” CDs, loosely quoted: “There’s a reason we didn’t release this stuff. But if people want to hear it…..” None of the three songs are classic Beatles, of course. Two are early outtakes by John Lennon, post-Beatles breakup. The other one is interesting, but AI still has a way to go. I’m thinking AI might get there, though, perhaps even in my lifetime. After all, Deep Blue plays a better game of chess then do I….

Here I have to give a shout out to a business partner friend,
Joey Thaidigsman, who is a freshman computer science major
at the University of California-Berkeley, wanting to go into
artificial intelligence.

So…..

My considered opinion after being a Beatles fan for 51 years? I’m going with “Daddy’s Car.”

And while this post is about AI and The Beatles, I end with my favorite song about AI and the future:

“Yours Truly, 2095” by Electric Light Orchestra, 1981

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Music on Mondays (9-19-16)—All your ways are known to me

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

About five decades ago I wanted to be a history teacher. Then I found out how much money teachers made in Texas and decided to be something else. I still love history, though, so when I saw the following bumper sticker” in front of me at a traffic signal, I had to figure out a way to get a picture of it since it was rush hour traffic. I ended up following him for several miles, turning where he turned, speeding up, slowing down, doing everything necessary to stay behind him. I wonder if he thought he was being followed, like in the movies….

History, it's not just about dead guys

Since this is Monday, I thought it might be interested to explore history in music, and when I thought about that, the first person who came to mind was Al Stewart.

According to Wikipedia, Alastair Ian “Al” Stewart was born September  5, 1945, in Glasgow, Scotland. His unique style combines folk rock songs tales of characters and events from throughout history. He played at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970, knew Yoko Ono before she met John Lennon, and shared a London flat with a young Paul Simon. He’s interconnected with a lot of my favorite musicians., and I do have a complete collection of his music. I first discovered Stewart in 1976 as a junior at Texas A&M University when he released his super-album “Year of the Cat.” Here’s the title track:

“Year of the Cat” from “Year of the Cat” (1976)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

He hasn’t had quite the commercial success that he had with “Year of the Cat,” possibly because too many people don’t study history and, thus, don’t have a clue what he’s singing about.

Look at the titles to many of his albums and you can see Stewart’s interest in history:

Past, Present and Future
Modern Times
Time Passages
Last Days of the Century
Between the Wars
Sparks of Ancient Light

“Year of the Cat” used to be my favorite Stewart album until I was able to get a complete collection of his music. Now it’s #2 behind “Past, Present and Future.”

Here are a few of my other favorite Al Stewart songs:

“Roads to Moscow” from “Past, Present and Future” (1973)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Nostradamus” from “Past, Present and Future” (1973)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“(A Child’s View of) The Eisenhower Years” from “Sparks of Ancient Light” (2009)

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

After I graduated from Texas A&M University and moved to Houston, I spent a lot of time touring the Gulf Coast going to concerts. Although I did get to see the Rolling Stones, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney & Wings, George Harrison, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and many others, most of the concerts were small, local gigs by up and coming groups. Back in those days, every Friday and Saturday night was spent with friends at the local bars and venues playing pool and listening to music.

Then I moved to San Diego in 1993 and never got involved in the local music scene again….

Until these past two years. Many of you know that I gave Julian Rey Saenz his first job in the business world when he turned 16. Julian plays the guitar, and I sometimes went to karoke nights to hear him sing and play.

This past April, Julian invited me to a concert where he, Big Bad Buffalo, and Indio Romero were playing. Julian knew that I love music (except for Rap and Hip-Hop) but warned me that Big Bad Buffalo and Indio Romero were loud. He was right, and the ringing in my ears for the next month reminded me of why I quit the local music scene when I left Texas………lol

I liked all three performers, but one of Julian’s friends, Jordan, was the guitarist for Big Bad Buffalo. I didn’t know at that time what genre they considered themselves but they had great rhthym, a driving bass, and a guitar that wouldn’t quit. They had my attention.

Julian and Jordan graduated from high school this past June. Julian has taken off to Palo Alto CA where he has enrolled as a freshman at Stanford University (I told y’all two years ago that he was smart, but did you listen………..?). Although Jordan also graduated high school with honors, he desperately wants to be a musician. Since I used to play the piano and violin, as well as sing, and played professionally with the Corpus Christi, Houston, and Brazos County symphonies, I definitely understand that “wants to be a musician” thing.

Well, Big Bad Buffalo has just released their second album, this one eponymous.

Big Bad Buffalo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There are 15 songs on the album, and although I have been listening to it for the past two days, I’m not quite sure which is my favorite, although “Transitland” and “She’s Just the Icing on the Cake” are up there. All of the songs except “Somewhere To Be” are fast, driving songs with drums, base, guitars that won’t quit, and words that I actually can understand without looking up the lyrics. Poor diction and enunciation, especially in loud rock ‘n’ roll music, has always been a pet peeve of mine.

The musicians of Big Bad Buffalo are:

  • Alex Staninger – Drums, Piano, Vocals
  • Silvio Damone – Bass, Piano, Vocals
  • Jordan Krimston – Guitar, Vocals

Tags from their web site indicate that the music is punk, alternative rock, beep boop, math rock, and “what’s in a genre?” I think they have a sense of humor, too!

I wanted to embed the album here but the embed code I got from their host, both for html and for wordpress.com, is not working; hey, they are musicians, not computer experts……..

So, following is a link to the album. Hope y’all enjoy it enough to buy it, download it, buy individual songs, check out all their music, perhaps donate to help them keep on keepin’ on.

Big Bad Buffalo

Once I figure out, or have someone show me, how to embed the album here, I’ll edit this post to do that.

I will be going to see them in concert this coming Friday, 9:00 p.m. at Lestat’s Coffee House; it’s an all ages concert so I’m pretty sure this 61-year-old with virgin ears will be allowed in.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat