Paul Shaffer

REVIEW: The Honeydrippers – Volume One (1984 EP, 2007 reissue)

scan_20161017THE HONEYDRIPPERS – Volume One (1984 Atlantic, 2007 Rhino reissue)

In 1981, Robert Plant felt like playing some old fashioned rock and roll again.  He assembled a group of friends including Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Nile Rodgers, Dave Weckl and Paul Shaffer.  With a handful of covers ready to go, The Honeydrippers Volume One EP went top ten in the US and Canada.  I have now officially bought this EP four times: First time on cassette, then vinyl, then CD, and now finally this remastered CD with one bonus track.  One bonus track is all they could be bothered to beef this up by.  A grand total of 22 minutes, up from 18.

Originally released in 1984, in a lot of ways this was as close to a Page/Plant reunion as we were likely to get in the 80’s, although this is very different from Led Zeppelin.  These are classic golden oldies, rock and roll and R&B hits: the sound like guys like Plant and Page grew up with.  So get up, get down and dance!

“I Get A Thrill” is an excellent track with which to open the EP.  It’s a great song with wonderful backing vocal harmonies.  A nice fast one to dance to.  Everybody should know “Sea of Love”, the lush, elegant slow-dancer. Today it is better known than the Phil Phillips original. The music video might be most notable for the speedo-wearing Frank Zappa lookalike on the xylophone.  Ray Charles is last for side one:  “I Got A Woman”.  It’s breakneck fast, and might be too much for those on the dance floor cutting a rug!  Don’t go and break a leg….


Does humour belong in music?

Plant croons his way through “Young Boy Blues”, a Phil Spector oldie done justice by Robert’s rich voice.  It’s as lush and brilliant as “Sea of Love” and easily as good as the better-known single.  Back to cutting a rug though, you’d better get up for “Rockin’ At Midnight”, another hit single for the Honeydrippers.  Jeff Beck nails the perfect guitar solo in the midst of a boppin’ horn section.  Rock perfection!

The one measly bonus track is a live version of “Rockin’ At Midnight”. It’s shorter than the studio version of the song by two minutes.  It’s hard to fathom how Rhino only had one bonus track to include.  Plant performed live with the Honeydrippers numerous times.  To think they only ever recorded one track live is pretty hard to believe.

This remaster (released in 2007 as part of the Plant remasters) sounds great, and despite the short running time, is worth your cash as long as you’ve never bought it on CD before. It’s fun, it’s warm, it’s a great listening experience and every one of these tracks is a bonafide classic. It’s kind of odd hearing Plant’s distinctive squeal on some of these songs, but it actually works.

4/5 stars, but only because they could have included more bonus material.

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REVIEW: Peter Criss – One For All (2007)

PETER CRISS – One For All (2007 Silvercat Records)

I decided to be lazy tonight, and write an easy review on a shitty album.  It’s easier to tear something down than to build it up.  I dove into my Peter Criss folder, and grinned as I selected his 2007 post-Kiss reunion solo album, One For All.  Peter re-teamed with his Criss bandmates, Mark Montague and Mike McLaughlin.  He also called in some favors from the Letterman Show’s Will Lee and Paul Shaffer.

PETER CRISS_0001And then everyone took a giant shit, recorded it, and they called it an album.  A long, drawn out and painfully slow and tuneless album.  One For All consists entirely of slow, slow numbers.  Call ’em ballads, call ’em whatever you want.  It’s 100% schlock, 0% rock.  Peter: I am telling you right now man, and I’m sorry to have to be the one to say this, but your voice is gone.  It’s done.  It’s not pleasant to listen to anymore, especially when you try to reach notes so far out of your range that you’re whispering.  Note accuracy is also a problem.  It seems to be that if Peter didn’t hit the notes, but was in the general vicinity of them, that was a take.  I am guessing at the quality control standards; I wasn’t there in the studio with Peter, who self-produced this bad boy.  Not a good idea there, Pete m’boy.

The best tune is the title track and opener, “One for All”, on which Peter is backed by the mighty All Boys Choir from the Church of Transfiguration.  Their voices (which unfortunately don’t come in until close to the end) save this song and make it something a little more special.  It makes you wish they were singing on more of the album!  Also, any time backup singer Jen Johnson is audible, then everything’s fine.

Worst tunes: A tie between “Send in the Clowns” (yes, that “Send in the Clowns”) and “Space Ace”.  I’m not going to insult your intelligence and tell you what “Space Ace” is about.  Now that Peter has written songs about himself (“The Cat” from his EP) and Ace, I’m waiting for him to come up with “Star Child” and “The Demon”.  Milk it Peter, for all its worth.  May as well, since everybody else is too.

Quality control beef from the lyric sheet: the song “Doesn’t Get Better Than This”.

Remember George, and his guitar,
John and Paul, and Ringo Star.

Seriously, they spelled Ringo Starr’s name wrong in a song about the Beatles!

Sorry Peter.  This album gets the dreaded LeBrain Shit-Bomb.

0.5/5 stars

ONE FOR ALL_0002