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June 2016

CD Review: “Greetings From Bunezuela!” by Bun E. Carlos

For nearly 40 years, Bun E. Carlos was the drummer for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Cheap Trick. Known for his trademark swing and swagger, Carlos and his bandmates became one of the top bands of the late 1970’s and thanks to their dedicated fan base, surviving through the years as many of their contemporaries faded away. Though Bun E. hasn’t toured with Cheap Trick since 2010, he has been staying active, regularly playing in various bands with friends in and around his hometown of Rockford, Illinois. When CT’s HOF induction was announced, Carlos began working on a solo project with some of his friends. The result, “Greetings From Bunezuela!”, is a fantastic collection of covers and a couple new ones thrown in for good measure.

81Dc22Ww4UL._SL1500_The cd kicks off with “Do Something Real”, with Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices on vocals. Pollard actually recorded this song in 1999, but this cover breathes new life into the song, giving it extra punch. Next we go back to 1967 with a cover of “Armenia City In The Sky” by The Who, which features John Stirratt of Wilco on vocals. I love the heaviness of this song combined with the swing Bun puts on this song. One of Carlos’ Tinted Windows bandmates, Taylor Hanson, and his brothers Isaac and Zac join Bun E. with a cover of Paul Revere & The Raiders classic, “Him Or Me”. There’s a great groove on this song, and the Hanson brothers do a great job on the vocals.

Next up is I Love You No More,  featuring Alex Dezen. Bun tackles an old Rolling Stones tune, “Tell Me“, with Alejandro Escovedo on vocals. This is one of my favorite cuts on the cd, Escovedo’s vocals have a “Bowie-ish” quality to them that gives the song a different kind of vibe. Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner joins Bun next for his cover of Bob Dylan’s, “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry“. Where Dylan’s original cut was slower and bluesy, Bun and the boys have sped up the tempo a hair and have made it swing, great cut.  Pirner does a great job on vocals. Original Cheap Trick lead vocalist, Randy “Xeno” Hogan,  takes the lead on a cover of an Iris Dement song, “Let The Mystery Be”. 

Robert Pollard returns to cover a Bee Gees tune, Idea, which sounds fantastic. Nicholas Tremulius, a Chicago singer-songwriter, joins Bun for a cover of a gem from 1967, “Les Cactus“. This song straight up rocks, despite that the song is in French! Rick Rizzo of Eleventh Dream Day takes over the vocals for a cover of “I Can Only Give You Everything“, by Van Morrison & Them. Alejandro Escovedo returns to lend his vocals to a song he wrote, “Slow Down“, which really does slow the pace down. Xeno returns as well to sing “Count On Me‘. The album comes to a close with Alex Dezen returning to sing a new song of his, entitled “I Don’t Mind”.

It’s always hard to judge how good an album like this is going to be when every track has a different singer, but I really enjoyed this album.  Greetings From Bunezuela sounds like a good time, Bun E. surely must have had a blast recording this project because its reflected in every performance. Not only does Carlos sound fantastic, but he breathes new life into many of these older songs, introducing them to a new generation of fans. There’s also no doubt in my mind that Cheap Trick fans will love this cd when they hear it. This is one of my favorite albums I’ve heard this year, I give it 5 stars!

Be sure to pick up a copy of this record, you’ll be glad you did!

Review copy provided. 

 

Prog Out with Rush – Xanadu

When I think of the greatest bands of all time, my mind drifts to the Great White North to the boys from Toronto, Rush. In my opinion, no other prog rock band loomed larger in the late 70’s and early 80’s than the Triumvirate of Geddy Lee on vocals/bass guitar/keyboards/, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and “the Professor”, Neil Peart on drums. 1981 captured the band at the peak of their creative power with their classic, Moving Pictures. Exit…Stage Left was a live album and video documenting the band on tour at this period. Exit was truly the album that started by obsession with these guys and the track that settled it all for me was the cut of Xanadu.

Originally recorded on 1977’s A Farewell to Kings, it is Rush at their proggiest and one of their finest songs. The ESL performance is so amazing that I cannot help but listen to it all the way through, every time. Geddy, Alex, and Neil are absolutely amazing and on top of their game and if you want a picture of what these guys were capable of at the height of their popularity, this supplies all you need to see. I was so excited to hear the guys play this again on the R40 Tour last summer and it was just as amazing to hear it again some 35 years later.

Enjoy!

 

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