Steve Crawford

Bobby Patterson/The Relatives, Kessler Theater, Dallas, Friday, March 7th, 2014, Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | March 9, 2014

Patterson was fantastic – telling inside jokes (“I recorded this in Muscle Shoals – Percy Sledge was supposed to sing it but he got too drunk”), incorporating disc jockey raps, off color humor, and dancing in the crowd. Patterson plays hard hitting, dance oriented R&B and strapped on a guitar at the end of the set to unleash a barrage of fiery blues licks. Patterson didn’t bring the house down, he set it on fire

Drive-By Truckers “English Oceans” Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | March 7, 2014

Where weak spots on early DBT records could be overlooked due to momentum and energy, now every composition stands alone. This is an album about bruising regret, pensive remembrances, and inevitable loss.

The Ramones – Their 100 Greatest Songs

By Steve Crawford | March 3, 2014

The Ramones boiled down everything they loved about rock ‘n’ roll to its essence – this is a band that had major fights about whether they could put a guitar solo on a song. The basic punk rock chord structures are now ubiquitous in modern rock, but this was music that was deemed both offensive and dangerous

Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Bruce Springsteen Songs of All Time

By Steve Crawford | February 28, 2014

Tthe list clearly shows that the quality of Springsteen’s work has declined since the 1990s. Maybe he established a standard that was impossible to maintain over time, but here are the stats: 72% of the list is from the ‘70s and ‘80s; 80% of the Top 50 are pre-90s; and a whopping 88% of the Top 25 precede the Clinton era

Iron Orchard "For Your Amusement Only" Review

By Steve Crawford | February 26, 2014

You won’t confuse Iron Orchard with a bunch of big city pretty boys. These are twang rockers that buy PBR because they can’t afford a premium brand and sing about a man married to his semi-truck.

The Drive-By Truckers – Delivering That Alabama Ass Whuppin’

By Steve Crawford | February 24, 2014

They have taken a traditional hard rock formula and made it relevant through both the power of their music and their ability to write trenchant, moving lyrics whether through stories, legends, or observations

A+ List – 90s Rap

By Steve Crawford | February 19, 2014

I’ve decided to jump into the game with my own somewhat random A+ list, the first being focused on ‘90s rap. Two things to remember. One, this is not an attempt at an all-inclusive list. Two, money talks, but it don’t sign and dance and it don’t walk.

De La Soul – The Essential List

By Steve Crawford | February 18, 2014

On Valentine’s Day weekend, De La Soul made the large majority of their catalogue (their first six studio albums and some rarities/greatest hits packages) available for free download. I, of course, jumped on it like a junkie seizing a clean needle

Iris DeMent, Kessler Theater, Saturday, February 15th, 2014, Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | February 17, 2014

There is a timeless element to DeMent, given her universal themes and the bedrock simplicity of her musical accompaniment. Beyond those aspects, it is her bravery – her emotional honesty and intelligence and passion – that makes DeMent a major artist. She is genuine and moving and a truly gifted songwriter.

Steve Fromholz Remembered

By Steve Crawford | February 11, 2014

Fromholz, described by one long time friend as a “traveling party” and a “cornucopia of fun,” developed sincere connections with intimate audiences and he will not be soon forgotten by serious Texas music fans. Give “The Texas Trilogy” if you haven’t heard it.

Pete Seeger Reconsidered – Thoughts From a Punk Rock Cynic

By Steve Crawford | February 3, 2014

“Hey, let’s sing this song together that will end war, poverty, injustice, and bee stings,” always seemed a bit soft in the noodle to me. I’d rather hear about Joey Ramone’s need to sniff glue. However, on the passing of Pete Seeger, it struck me how little conversation there was about his contributions to music

Joe Ely, Fort Worth Stock Show, Friday, January 31st, 2014, Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | February 2, 2014

Ely’s strength is that he writes good songs and covers even better ones. On this evening, he oddly alternated between a high energy rocker and a slow tempo number throughout the entire evening. As passionate as he is as a performer, I don’t think he would be physically capable of phoning in a gig, he never transcends his material.

Robin Zander’s Solo Albums and The Lessons Learned

By Steve Crawford | January 29, 2014

Robin Zander, who has made his living as a singer for decades, has been given two opportunities to release solo records. Both have decisively proven that he has absolutely NOTHING TO SAY as an artist

Essential New Wave Tracks, Part II

By Steve Crawford | January 22, 2014

In the second and final look at essential new wave tracks, we go beyond silly looking hair to chronicle yellow hazmat suits, energy dome hats, and the death of Marc Bolen. I hope the chorus of “People Who Died” leaves my brain before Valentine’s Day

Essential New Wave Tracks, Part I

By Steve Crawford | January 19, 2014

As punk music croaked commercially in the U.S. in the late ‘70s, its safer kid sister, “new wave,” was introduced as an alternative marketing term. What exactly was “new wave”? Everything that had a beat and wasn’t metal was thrown into that category at one point

The Arkansas Mixtape, Part II

By Steve Crawford | January 15, 2014

You surely remember the life changing first article of this series, which chronicled Arkansas based artists including Johnny Cash, Louis Jordan, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and, for symmetry’s sake, twelve other acts. In this second, and regretfully final, article on this subject, we survive scalding grits, salute ersatz Samoans, and share a bit too much information at the outhouse

The Arkansas Mixtape, Part One

By Steve Crawford | January 13, 2014

If you are traveling through Arkansas or live in Arkansas or want to pretend that you are in Arkansas, you’d like to have some local music to enjoy. Sure, you could spin some tunes that mention Little Rock, but you would rather listen to artists with true Arkansas roots

Moon Mullican – Laying Pipe All Day

By Steve Crawford | January 7, 2014

There are several theories on how he received that name; the most common belief was that it was shorthand for “Moonshine.” He was billed as the King of the Hillbilly Piano Players, but Moon Mullican was a key link in the transition from Western swing music to honky-tonk and then on to rock ‘n’ roll.

Steve Crawford’s Top 25 Songs of 2013

By Steve Crawford | January 5, 2014

I’m sure I’ll discover more songs from 2013 that would displace some of these entries, but this is a solid list. If you haven’t heard “City Swan” by Neko Case or “Turn the Radio On” by the Suburbs, I highly recommend you check them out. Also, the entire Christianity meets old school funk album by the Relatives is a wah-wah pedal, fuzztone gas.

Robert Hilburn's "Johnny Cash: The Life" Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | January 3, 2014

It’s all well and good that Cash was admired by Bob Dylan and Tom Petty and Bono and various rock critics and was a peer of Elvis and Jerry Lee and Carl Perkins. However, it’s somewhat mystifying that Hilburn would rely on third party quotes and recognition instead of trying to define the gravitas of Cash in his own voice.

Robert Gordon's "Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion" Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | December 29, 2013

In his new book, he covers the history of the label, the personalities involved, the business decisions, as well as the social and political climate of the time. Most importantly, Gordon has the critical chops to get to the heart of the matter – all the timeless music that Stax produced

On The Glorious Occasion Of Rick Neilsen's 65th Birthday: Cheap Trick's 25 Greatest Songs

By Steve Crawford | December 24, 2013

My facebook feed has been filled all day with friends wishing Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen a happy 65th birthday. Let’s use this auspicious occasion to pay tribute to the band that was melodic, aggressive, sarcastic, witty, and, at their best, played with an unrivaled kinetic energy.

Let’s Have a Good Cry – A Dozen Weeper Keepers

By Steve Crawford | December 20, 2013

On Thursday afternoons, rock nyc has its“Good Cry” meeting, where we discuss our lost loves, crushed dreams, and any terminal illnesses we might have. I once excitedly started the meeting by stating that my son had aced his college final in International Relations and Helen Bach backhanded me from Manhattan to Brooklyn. My jaw hurt, but the pizza was still good

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Begging for Irrelevance

By Steve Crawford | December 18, 2013

As the RRHOF becomes more desperate for repeated visitors to their Cleveland pyramid and their online gift shop, the lowest common denominator will continue to define cultural excellence. At the 2023 induction ceremony, P. Diddy will strut across the stage and proclaim repeatedly with great bravado that, “It’s all about the Benjamins!”

The 100 Best Songs of the 1990s

By Steve Crawford | December 9, 2013

Lester’s vision of cultural atomization became a reality in the 1990s, as audiences segmented into different genres/sub-genres and fewer artists impacted mass culture as a whole. Therefore, everyone’s ‘90s list will be radically different

Thirteen from ‘13

By Steve Crawford | December 7, 2013

he provides support to a friend and potential love interest that dies prematurely of cancer. Not the feel good hit of the summer, but the wallop is devastating

The 100 Best Songs of the 1980s

By Steve Crawford | December 7, 2013

By cherry picking the goodies, we can appreciate what Prince and Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen did for the mainstream, while Husker Du and R.E.M. and the Replacements gave hope to the left of the dial listeners.

Jonathan Richman, Three Links Center, Dallas, Texas, December 1st, 2013 Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | December 4, 2013

The years have been kind to Richman – he looks much younger than his sixty two years, He appears to be in good health, and has lost no vocal range. Somewhat surprisingly, his music continues to find a younger audience – twenty-somethings outnumbered greybeards

100 Greatest Songs of the '70s

By Steve Crawford | December 2, 2013

The ’70s were a long time ago. Here are the 100 best songs of the decade. Song #87 was also one of the most popular songs of 2013. I do not know why I am typing sentences like Hemingway wrote in “A Farewell to Arms.” I will stop now.

The 100 Greatest Songs of the 1960s

By Steve Crawford | November 28, 2013

The 1960s were a rich era in popular music and one could easily list 500 outstanding songs from that decade. Bob Dylan and The Beatles created musical templates that others have followed ever since, while Stax, Motown, and Muscle Shoals provided ample competition against the British invasion.

The Bottle Rockets "The Bottle Rockets And The Brooklyn Side" Reissues Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | November 23, 2013

the Bottle Rockets were the grunge era Creedence Clearwater Revival. They packed their initial albums with one fantastic song after another and if they were too often steeped in economic realities that didn’t translate to the marketplace, that is simply popular music’s loss

The 159 Greatest Songs of the 1950s

By Steve Crawford | November 17, 2013

Reflecting the diversity of the era, there are entries by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Muddy Waters, and Hank Williams. Elvis Presley deservedly owned the era commercially and artistically, but one Charles Edward Anderson Berry could play a guitar just like a ringing the bell.

Songs for the Hungry iPod – Ten Essential Non-Hits from the 1980s

By Steve Crawford | November 14, 2013

Steve Crawford takes his Ipod out in public: something flickered for a moment and was gone, he claims, and then finds the 1980s songs to back him up all the way

In Birmingham They Love the Gov'ner: "Muscle Shoals" Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | November 12, 2013

The new documentary Muscle Shoals misses the mark so consistently that the filmmakers took what should have been an easy grand slam and turned it into an infield base hit.

The 99 Best Country Songs of the 1900s

By Steve Crawford | November 10, 2013

This is a primer for all country friends and wannabe country fans out there. You don’t know where to start on your country collection, start in the 20th Century and start here

The 25 Greatest Country Songs of the 90s

By Steve Crawford | November 7, 2013

As rap and grunge music became more popular in the early ‘90s, a large white audience shifted away from Top 40 and contemporary rock music toward country radio. Nobody benefited more from this than Garth Brooks. As the decade went on, hit machines like Faith Hill and Shania Twain sounded more like pop stars than traditional Nashville acts

The 30 Greatest Country Songs of the 1950s

By Steve Crawford | November 5, 2013

The Board of Directors at rock nyc typically restricts these lists to 25 songs, but I pushed this list to thirty so I wouldn’t have to artificially limit the number of Hank Williams entries. I have enough to explain to St. Peter without adding that oversight to my resume. OK, let’s start drinking and cheating, 1950s style.

Michael Nesmith, Kessler Theater, Dallas, October 30th, 2013, Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | November 1, 2013

Sporting Monkees t-shirts and bringing memorabilia that would go home unsigned, the audience response was a warm gesture of affection for the former student at Dallas’s Thomas Jefferson High School. The only negative aspect of the evening was the actual performance

The 25 Greatest Country Songs of the 80s

By Steve Crawford | October 29, 2013

Nobody would argue that the 1980s was a classic era for country music – the genre was filled with middle of the road soft dreck and popsickle production values. John Anderson embodied the hard country aesthetic at the beginning of the ‘80s and Randy Travis carried the banner at the decade’s end. Steve Earle and Rosanne Cash helped us through the tough times

Lou Reed – Satellite’s Gone, Up to the Sky

By Steve Crawford | October 28, 2013

There are widely varying opinions of Lou as a person – he’s been described both as warm and generous and as the ultimate uncaring prick. None of that matters now, if it ever did.

The 25 Greatest Country Songs of the 1970s

By Steve Crawford | October 25, 2013

Pop stars like John Denver and Olivia Newton-John crossed over regularly onto the country charts and future chicken salesman Kenny Rogers became a superstar in the genre.

Brave Combo and the Old 97s, Mansfield, Texas, Saturday, October 19th, 2013, Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | October 21, 2013

There simply isn’t enough musical variety in their live performance; it’s like hearing variations of two or three different songs twenty times. The Old 97’s are a band that kills you with competence

Here They Are Now, Entertain Us: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees Class Of 2013

By Steve Crawford | October 18, 2013

You’ve heard these arguments – rock ‘n’ roll is a rebellious art form that shouldn’t be enshrined, it’s not legitimate because The Swinging Blue Jeans aren’t in, Jann Wenner is a socialist Commie that wants to destroy America, etc., etc., etc. So, people love it because it’s one less thing to worry about

Heroes and Villains of Southern Rock From A to ZZ

By Steve Crawford | October 16, 2013

As I remember, they put on a perfectly acceptable show with a lot more Southern rock jam than I expected. This started me thinking about other Southern bands

“When Dallas Rocked” Documentary Review

By Steve Crawford | October 15, 2013

While Dallas was busy promoting the next Molly Hatchet gig, Austin created an artistically supportive climate that eventually swallowed Dallas commercially. Due to the ultra-conservative environment, one musician commented that his goal was to make enough money to get out of Dallas

The Eagles, American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas, October 11, 2013, Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | October 13, 2013

Packing 20,000 middle-aged white people (the Eagles spent the evening discussing their history from the stage and on pre-taped segments. They performed almost thirty songs in a show that lasted over three hours. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a concert or serving a sentence.

Shuggie Otis Kessler Theater, Dallas, TX October 4th, 2013 Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | October 6, 2013

Shuggie often seems emotionally detached from the music. He’s not an authoritative vocalist, his lyrics are well crafted and instantly forgettable, he doesn’t rely on memorable hooks or catchy choruses. As a guitarist, whether replicating Hendrix style blasts or tossing out rapid-fire blues licks, he generally seems more of a technician than an emotionally engaged artist.

Wanda Jackson, The Kessler Theater, Dallas, Texas, September 27th, 2013

By Steve Crawford | September 29, 2013

Jackson talked extensively throughout the set, with her longest stories being about her personal relationships with America’s two predominant spiritual icons – Elvis Presley and Jesus Christ. Elvis convinced Wanda to transition from country music to rock ‘n’ roll. And, “Yes, he was a good kisser.”

The 25 Greatest Stax on Wax Tracks

By Steve Crawford | September 23, 2013

As Sun’s influenced waned in the early 1960s, Stax Records opened on McLemore Avenue in Memphis and would become the home for guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Duck Dunn, drummer Al Jackson, Jr., organist Booker T. Jones, as well as songwriters David Porter and Isaac Hayes

Glenn Tilbrook, Kessler Theater, Dallas, Friday, September 20th, 2013, Reviewed

By Steve Crawford | September 22, 2013

Tilbrook worked hard during this long and uneven performance. He’s constantly trying to squeeze the charm in – doing mock rock star poses, mugging for the crowd, orchestrating sing-alongs, taking requests, and providing wry asides