Coffee, Cigarettes, and Some Really Cool Records

One of my favorite things to do is to pour myself a cup of Starbucks Espresso Roast, fire up a cigarette, and lay back on the couch with the headphones on. I set my mind on a couple of albums I feel the distinct need to hear, kick on my iPod, and crank it up. That’s a good time for me to catch up with some of the really cool records (yeah, I’m old enough to remember when they were called records) I haven’t heard in a while. Listening to some of these records transports me to another time and place, brings back forgotten memories, and reminds why I dug them in the first place. Here are of them.

Ram Jam

The first Ram Jam album is a classic for sure. Good 70s rock in the style of legendary bands like Foghat and Grand Funk Railroad. The band, driven by Bill Bartlett’s guitar and the vocals of Myke Scavone, scored a pretty wicked hit with their remake of an old Lead Belly blues number called “Black Betty.” Other standout tracks include “All for the Love of Rock ‘N’ Roll.” “Keep Your Hands on the Wheel,” “Overloaded,” and “Too Bad on Your Birthday.” Listening to this one brought back a lot of great music and it still sounds incredible today.

Running on Empty

“Running on Empty” is a Jackson Browne album I never get tired of hearing. The title track is one of my all-time favorite songs. Another favorite from this album is “The Load-Out.” The cool thing about this album is it’s a live album but with the unique feature of having songs that were not previously recorded. Another unusual aspect of this album is the live settings of the performances. Not all of them were performed in front of a live audience. Some were recorded live in hotel rooms and even on the tour bus. In one track the drummer uses a cardboard box and you can actually hear the engine of the tour bus.”Rosie,” “You Love the Thunder,” and “Shaky Town” are other great tunes.

touch

The band Touch only did two albums. Not sure how many of you remember this first one, but it was a solid album with three really strong foundation tunes, “Don’t You Know What Love Is?”, “Black Star,” and “When the Spirit Moves You.” The rest of the songs were pretty awesome too. Slick production that managed to combine some hard-edged keyboard with a clean, blistering guitar tone. The album was released in 1980 and sounds as fresh today as it ever did.

Barry G

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this album. If you haven’t listened to it you should. This is Barry Goudreau’s (Boston guitarist) only solo album, released during a break at the height of Boston’s success. Besides Barry on guitar, the album featured Boston vocalist Brad Delp, Boston drummer Sib Hashian, and ex-Boston vocalist Fran Cosmos. This was basically a Boston album without Tom Scholz. The sound is pure Boston and the songs are hot. Led by the hit single “Dreams,” which is still one of my favorites, this album contains some of the best tunes I’ve heard. I did an interview with Barry that I’ll be posting soon. If you can find a copy of this album on CD do it.

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