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Goose: Live at The Salt Shed (April 14 & 15, 2023 Chicago)

Like a lot of jam bands, Goose sells recordings of their live shows on platforms like Bandcamp and Nugs. But they also occasionally release live albums on streaming services for “free.” These “free” releases have distinctive cover art by Jonny Lovering. Their latest release is a big one: nearly 6.5 hours. It is from back-to-back nights in Chicago along with a 31-minute sound check jam before one of the shows.

Goose is a rising star in the jam band circuit. Their 2022 studio album, Dripfield is outstanding. Per the band’s website, they

“…fluidly traverse genres with head-spinning hooks, technical fireworks, and the kind of chemistry only possible among small town and longtime friends.”

If you don’t have familiarity with Goose, I recommend starting with Dripfield as it is accessible. Unlike a lot of jam bands that focus on the groove, Goose focuses on songs. They have great melodies and not just great riffs. They have a nice swampy funk to their sound too.

Once you are convinced that you like Goose, then hit the live shows on streaming. Be forewarned, their shows are typically 3 hours or more. And of course, if you can see them live, do it.

This particular live show from April 14 and 15, 2023 in Chicago, is a particular gem. It is well recorded, has a great selection from their catalog and you can get a sense of their improvisation as key songs are repeated between the two nights. It is an excellent primer for Goose.

A particularly delightful moment is when they segue from their song “Mudhuvan” into The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” – truly a psychedelic moment. Another delight is the sound check jam. My early interest in Goose was Ted Tapes 2021 – a collection of sound check jams, so it is great to hear a fresh take on a sound check jam.


🌵 Desert Sessions 🌵 2.0: Cheap Used Records – Weather Report – Black Market

Weather Report – Black Market (1976)

This is one of my favorite Weather Report albums. It has both a jazz rock fusion and world music vibes. This is the first Weather Report appearance bass player Jaco Pastorius, however, he is only on two of the seven tracks. His presence is not nearly as profound as it would be on the following Weather Report release Heavy Weather.

The first and titular track, “Black Market” is a festive tune that easily evokes a bustling exotic street market somewhere close to the equator. Like most Weather Report albums, Joe Zawinul’s keyboards, arrangements, and compositions dominate.

“Cannon Ball” is a song in memory of Zawinul’s mentor Cannonball Adderley. You get your first taste of Jaco Pastorius in Weather Report.

“Gibraltar” is classic Weather Report – it is both funky and adventurous. It includes an epic Wayne Shorter solo on soprano sax.

After three Zawinul compositions and flipping the LP, we get two Wayne Shorter compositions: “Elegant People” and “Three Clowns.” You get a strong sense of the compositional difference between the two leaders, Shorter is the more conventional (yet adventurous) jazz man. His compositions are more cerebral.

Pastorius is not only a brilliant bass player, but a great composer. His “Barbary Coast” sets us on notice that there is a new sheriff in town. Pastorius plays bass like a horn player and composes like he is in a big band.

The album ends with “Herandnu,” Alphonso Johnson’s farewell. It is a grand goodbye that allows the whole band to show off their chops.

This is another dollar record, with a touch of surface noise, but nothing to annoying or distracting.


  • Joe Zawinul — Yamaha Grand Piano, Rhodes Electric Piano, 2 × ARP 2600, Oberheim Polyphonic Synthesizer, orchestration
  • Wayne Shorter — Selmer soprano and tenor saxophones, Computone Lyricon
  • Alphonso Johnson — electric bass
  • Jaco Pastorius — electric fretless bass (tracks 2 & 6)
  • Narada Michael Walden — drums (tracks 1 and 2)
  • Chester Thompson — drums (track 1, tracks 3–7)
  • Alex Acuña — congas, percussion (tracks 2–5, track 7)
  • Don Alias — percussion (tracks 1 and 6)

The National – First Two Pages Of Frankenstein

The National
First Two Pages Of Frankenstein

I am a fairly new fan of The National. My introduction to the group was 2019’s I Am Easy To Find. In my review of that album I said: “On paper I should be a huge The National fan. An algorithm would say so, however, their work has never resonated with me. I did not hate it – worse it bored me.” I Am Easy To Find did click for me. I then got into the Bon Iver/Aaron Dessner project Big Red Machine and of course the Taylor Swift album’s folklore and evermore. So I am in a good space to receive this new The National album.

Surfing the web it appears there are three kinds of The National fans:

  • Diehards/obsessives that like everything – kind of like how I feel about Wilco. Their opinion is this album is good, a return to form, but not in the same league as “the big three:” Alligator (2005), Boxer (2007), and High Violet (2010).
  • Snobs who believe that the only “the big three” matter. Their opinion is this album is not a disgrace to the catalog, but not essential.
  • Taylor Swift fans who are coming to the late period The National without history with the band – I count myself in this category. Their view of this album is a masterpiece. Therefore I hear this as a masterpiece.

The soundscape is a gorgeous quite storm and Matt Berninger’s vocal purr sounds great. I am still absorbed the lyrics, but I am intrigued by the wordplay and storytelling.

There are guest vocalists (Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift) on the album, but they don’t dominate like they did on I Am Easy To Find. Instead their contributions are subtle – a dash to the cocktail vs. an main ingredient. The Taylor Swift guest vocal on “The Alcott” is perfect. Although it is a bigger role than Sufjan Stevens and Phoebe Bridgers, it does not overshadow.

Lyrically, Berninger addresses adult themes that may be mistaken as mopey. I prefer to see them as candid and realistic.

I am now motivated to revisit The National’s back catalog. This is a very good album and is on my shortlist of the best of 2023 so far.

Beth Orton – Weather Alive

Beth Orton
Weather Alive

I missed this album in 2022, but it was on several 2022 year-end best-of lists and so I gave it a listen. I have several Orton CDs from the late 90s and early 00s. I liked her folktronica. After a few listens on streaming services, I liked it enough to commit to the vinyl edition. Weather Alive is dreamy and atmospheric – almost ambient, but this is not mere musical wallpaper. It reminds me of Roxy Music’s Avalon in that it is a beautiful soundscape with catchy songs.

Orton has an unusual voice – kind of breathy and fragile, but with a kind of steely urgency. Lyrically, I don’t really have a clue what she is singing about, but the lyrics certainly are engaging, for example the titular track:

“And the world calling out to me
But the world out beyond my reach
Almost makes me wanna cry
The weather’s so beautiful outside”

“Weather Alive”

But it does not matter if I don’t understand the lyrics. The vocals are as beautiful as the instrumental music that accompanies them.

Although the album has an electronica feel, the music is organic: acoustic instruments, real drums and just a touch of synths (or as the credits state: “old synths”).

This is a beautiful dreamy record with a melancholy vibe. Perfect for both late nights and lazy afternoons. I read an article in the New York Times that experiencing awe is good for your health. Sit back and catch a wave of awe with Beth Orrin’s Weather Alive. This should have made my 2022 best of – if I had been aware of it.

Andy Shauf – Norm

Andy Shauf

I have never heard of Andy Shauf, but on a recent episode of Indiecast, Steven Hyden recommended Andy Shauf’s new album Norm. Hyden was so enthusiastic I had to give it a listen.

Norm is a gorgeous sounding album (similar vibe as Paul Simon) and Shauf has an angelic voice. I am fully satisfied with the warm wave of sound that washes over me with Norm, but there is more than that going on: lyrically Norm is a concept album. This is where it gets twisted.

The characters include God the father, Jesus the son, a stoner-stalker (Norm), the pursued (the victim of Norm’s stalking) and Norm’s ex. The plot is God observing his obsessed creation Norm stalking some poor women as Norm regrets his past with his ex. Norm eventually kidnaps his victim, but God intervenes. Weird isn’t it?

But what attracts me to the album is the lush soundscape, Shauf’s gorgeous vocals, and amazing bass lines. The bass is prominent and provides a soulful groove to what otherwise would be typical singer-songwriter fare. The weird lyrics and beautiful sonics results in a wonderful dreamy psychedelia.

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts: Live At Allaire Studios (Record Store Day 2023)

In early 2022, Norah Jones went into the Allaire Studios in upstate New York with her band and created a new, live version of her acclaimed 2012 album, Little Broken Hearts. As much as I liked the original Little Broken Hearts, I prefer this Record Store Day (RSD) version.

This seems like an ambitious album for a mere 2500-run RSD release. It is noted that as an RSD First’ Release” which typically means a conventional release is forthcoming. I am not seeing how this will ultimately come out. On June 2, 2023, Blue Note will be releasing an expanded 31-track deluxe reissue of Little Broken Hearts, however, it doesn’t include this Allaire version.

This new version was recorded at Allaire Studios with pedal steel guitarist Dan Iead, bassist Gus Seyffert, and drummer Brian Blade. I googled the studio and it is stunning. It is located in a 1928 estate on 20 acres of mountaintop overlooking Woodstock, the Catskills, and the Ashokan Reservoir.

Allaire Studios in upstate New York
One of the Allaire studios

The original Little Broken Hearts is an anomaly in the Norah Jones catalog. It was created in calibration with producer Danger Mouse. Danger Mouse made his name in the hip-hop word, so it is not obvious that collaborating with Norah Jones makes sense. Norah Jones and Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) first worked together when the producer asked her to contribute vocals to his acclaimed 2011 album ROME. After the success of that project, they agreed to develop a Norah Jones album together from scratch. Per Norah’s website:

In a first for her, Jones arrived empty-handed at the studio – no tunes, arrangements, just a few ideas in a notebook. The songs were all built from the ground up with Jones and Burton sharing all the songwriting credits and performing the majority of the instrumental parts; Jones on piano, keyboards, bass, and guitar, and Burton contributing drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, and string arrangements. The process was a complete change for Jones, but once they started it didn’t take long for her to warm to the challenges of creating on the fly using whatever resources she and Burton had between them. (Later, they brought in a band—including drummer Joey Waronker, bassist Gus Seyffert, and guitarist Blake Mills—to bolster many of the tracks.)

The result was an intriguing breakup album that had Jones performing out of her light jazz/Americana mode and more in the Danger Mouse world. It worked.

This version is back in the normal Norah zone and allows you to appreciate these great songs. In hindsight, the Danger Mouse version is overshadowed by Danger Mouse’s production – which was cool, but as I said earlier I prefer this version. This version has a stronger singer-songwriter vibe.

RSD has a few templates: reissue overlooked albums, vinyl releases of classic albums from the CD era, releases that are more about packaging than music, and unreleased gems that highlight an artist’s weird passions. This last category is my favorite and it is the category that Little Broken Hearts: Live At Allaire Studios finds itself in. This kind of release gets me queuing up at a record store before dawn. Bravo Norah and RSD!

Jerry Garcia – How Sweet It Is (1997 CD & 2023 Vinyl for RSD)

I have a pretty good collection of Jerry Garcia’s solo work and projects outside the Grateful Dead, so I have no idea how I missed this album when it came out on CD in 1997. How Sweet It Is was culled from shows that also make up 1991’s Jerry Garcia Band – an album in my personal hall of fame. So I was pleased to see it on the 2023 Record Store Day (RSD) list. It doesn’t take much to please me with regards to Garcia and RSD. I dutifully buy the RSD Garcia releases and I am never disappointed.

How Sweet It Is, like Jerry Garcia Band, is from the band’s live shows in the spring of 1990 at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. The band consists of Jerry (guitar, vocals), John Kahn (bass), Melvin Seals (organ, keyboards), David Kemper (drums), Gloria Jones (vocals), and Jackie LaBranch (vocals).

As is typical of the Jerry Garcia Band, their repertoire is a brilliant combination of originals and covers. It is not significantly different from the 1991 Jerry Garcia Band album. The recording/mixing/mastering sounds a touch more intimate on How Sweet It Is versus Jerry Garcia Band.

This is not as essential in the Garcia catalog as Jerry Garcia Band, but it is a nice augmentation of that album – no songs from that album are repeated here. So it serves as a deluxe edition of that classic album.

Track list:

1. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
2. Tough Mama
3. That’s What Love Will Make You Do
1. Someday Baby
2. Cats Under the Stars
1. Tears of Rage
2. Think
3. Gomorrah
1. Tore Up Over You
2. Like a Road

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Street Survivors

Back in 1979/1980, I was living with a buddy in a duplex in Uptown Minneapolis partying like there was no tomorrow. My record collection was still in its infancy. A couple of young rednecks from across the street came over one night and were scandalized that my roommate and I did not have Lynyrd Skynyrd in our collection. Our taste was Elvis Costello, jazz, prog, Dylan, etc. – in their view we were weirdos.

It was not that I didn’t like Skynyrd. In those days I rarely bought music that was on the radio: Skynyrd was on the radio and Costello was not – so what are you going to spend your money on? Over the years I have picked up various Skynyrd albums on vinyl and CD, but I never owned Street Survivors.

Street Survivors is the last Skynyrd album recorded by original members Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins and is the sole Skynyrd studio recording by guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines. Three days after the album’s release, the band’s chartered airplane crashed en route to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, killing the pilot, co-pilot, the group’s assistant road manager, and three band members (Van Zant, Gaines, and Gaines’ older sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines), and severely injuring most who survived the crash.

I recently picked up an original first/early pressing of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Street Survivors at an antique shop in Carefree Arizona for $10 (the rest of the crate was crap and overpriced – everything was $10). I know it is original due to the “fire cover,” the MCA label variation, the gatefold cover, and the runout markings. The cover is in good condition and includes original inserts. The wax is also in good condition. Given the vintage and condition of this pressing, I got a good deal.

The album cover was eventually changed to a cover without fire (based on the back cover photo) due to the crash. Reissues have returned to the fire cover.

Revised Cover

This album features Steve Gaines in a significant role. Ronnie loved him so much that he turned over the mic to Gaines on “Ain’t No Good Life” and shares the lead vocal with Gaines on “You Got That Right.” His guitar work is pretty insane too! Ronnie even said about Gaines that the band would “all be in his shadow one day.”

The album includes three major hits: “What’s Your Name, “ “That Smell” and “You Got That Right.” My favorite song on the album is a Merle Haggard cover: “Honky Tonk Night Time Man” which has smoking guitars. This is a great album, but it has the dark cloud of sadness of the death of band members – although the band would soldier on with other players, it would never be the same.

This album is proof I will pay more than $1 for a used record 😉.

Son Volt – Day of the Doug (RSD 2023)

I am a fan of both Son Volt and Doug Sahm. They both are the epitome of alternative country and cosmic American music. This album, per Son Volt’s website, is a tribute to Doug Sahm, who Son Volt’s leader Jay Farrar has had a friendship with dating back to Uncle Tupelo:

Son Volt’s Day of the Doug will be available exclusively at participating record stores starting 4/22/23 as part of Record Store Day. Find stores and more information at

A tribute to Doug Sahm, Day of the Doug features 12 songs that span Sahm’s career as a solo artist as well as his work with Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados. The Intro and Outro tracks are phone messages that Doug left Jay [Son Volt founder Jay Farrar] over the years. Pressed on RSD-exclusive Opaque Green Vinyl.

On first listen I found it bizarre that this was a Record Store Day (RSD) release. It is a fantastic album that deserves a normal release, not a mere 1700-unit vinyl release. I went back to the RSD website and this is an “RSD First’ Release.” So I assume it will be released conventionally later and this is just a teaser/RSD collectible. Although Son Volt has not announced a release date for Day of the Doug, their summer 2023 tour is focused on covering their 1995 debut Trace and covering Doug Sahm songs.

Son Volt 2023 summer tour

So who was Doug Sahm? Per Wikipedia:

Douglas Wayne Sahm (November 6, 1941 – November 18, 1999) was an American musician, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist born in San Antonio, Texas. Sahm is regarded as one of the main figures of Tex-Mex music, and as an important performer of Texan Music. He gained fame along with his band, the Sir Douglas Quintet, with a top-twenty hit in the United States and the United Kingdom with “She’s About a Mover” (1965). Sahm was influenced by the San Antonio music scene that included conjunto and blues, and later by the hippie scene of San Francisco. With his blend of music, he found success performing in Austin, Texas, as the hippie counterculture soared in the 1970s.

I stumbled across Sahm in the Bob Dylan galaxy. I bought a Sahm LP (1973’s Doug Sahm and Band because it had Dylan on it. But I really got into Sahm in the early 90s with his band The Texas Tornados. Around the same time I found a nice retrospective Sahm CD (Spotify link below).

I didn’t discover Uncle Tupelo until their last album and guess who it features? Doug Sahm on his tune “Give Back the Key to My Heart.” He sounded like he belonged in Uncle Tupelo. So it is appropriate that Son Volt is the band to record a tribute.

Son Volt does not cover the obvious songs in the Sahm catalog; they take a deeper dive. This is the best Son Volt has sounded in years. They are clearly inspired by the Sahm material. I am glad I jumped on this RSD edition to savor the material now. I highly recommend this album when it comes out later this year.

U2 – Songs of Surrender

Songs of Surrender (2023)

When recording artists rearrange their songs and call it a new album it is usually a sign of artistic bankruptcy. There are exceptions, for example, Joni Mitchell’s Travelogue (2022) was a well done orchestral re-recordings of songs from throughout her career. U2’s Songs of Surrender is a similar successful re-recording of 40 songs from their career. In general, it takes a minimalist approach to the arrangements with the focus on Bono’s vocal performance.

The most startling thing is how great Bono’s vocals sound – he sounds as good if not better than at any point in his career. It is a rare that rockstar’s voice improves with age. It is not that he has greater range – he just knows how to use his voice better.

This is basically The Edge’s solo album featuring Bono. The Edge assembled backing tracks, mostly by himself, but occasionally he used some previously recorded parts from Adam (bass) and Larry (drums). He encouraged Bono to show some restraint on the vocals.

I recently listened to The Edge on a podcast and his goal was to create austere versions of U2 classics and to have Bono sing in a more intimate fashion vs. the bombastic original vocals. The Edge is comfortable that this music may be consumed as a background soundtrack.

The Edge takes the vocal leads on a few tracks. He has always provided background vocals and it is fun to hear him front and center. Many of the arrangements are keyboard focused which made me think that The Edge is not a guitar god, but rather a composer and he uses his guitar to create sonic soundscapes versus shred.

This is a pleasant take on the catalog, but nothing overshadows the original versions. What is interesting is that without the big U2 arrangements, the songs have a singer songwriter vibe. What I have learned here is just how good the songs are – they are not diminished by the simple and sparse arrangements.

Given the girth of this project (40 songs clocking over 2:45 hours) this is a tedious listen. But taken in more bite sized pieces, it is great. This is not an album for the casual U2 fan, but you don’t have to be an obsessive completist to enjoy.