Thursday, January 12, 2017



A 1960 "Steve Canyon" Sunday page recently sold for $350.  This is a nice price for a Canyon Sunday.  Originals of this vintage typically go for xxxx.  But was it an original?

I don't think so.  I think it was a proof.  I have a few proofs, all with the date boldly written in the upper left hand corner, and the color of the paper is the same.  I don't fault the seller.  He did not present it as original art, just as a comic strip "in excellent condition."  Let's look at another Sunday strip from the same year.

This is an original Sunday page.  It hasn't turned a dull copper-y color.  No dates written in the corners.  You can see paste-ups and corrections.  This one sold for $800.  The proof was a Buy It Now on Ebay for $350.  The buyer was probably so excited he didn't pay attention to what he was paying for.  Those are poor scans for a $350 item.  Don't hesitate to ask for better scans or more details from the seller.

Another frequent issue is sellers who attribute the work of other artists to Caniff, simply because his name is the most associated with the feature.  For example, "Terry and the Pirates" and the three characters on this cover were all created by Caniff.  But, the art is by George Wunder, who took over the strip when Caniff left it at the end of 1946.  

I've blogged about this next one before...back in 2015!  It's "attributed to Milton Caniff" inking an assistant's pencils.  There's a reason it's been up on Ebay for so long at $300 (or best offer).  I don't think Caniff's brush ever touched this paper.

It's clear that's supposed to be Steve and the woman is Princess Snowflower, a key figure in several Canyon storylines.  The seller has it as Caniff inking an assistant as a tryout.  It may be a tryout alright, maybe even for an assistant job.  But when Caniff inked any assistant, he made it look like Caniff and not the assistant.

Also still out there at $300 is this guy who saved his childhood drawing from 1937, where he copied a panel from a "Terry and the Pirates" strip - 
The seller bills it as a "rare pencil drawing" by Caniff.  I think if you look on the back you'll find the signature of Craptacular Johnson.

We Caniffites have it easy.  Look at what Charles Schulz fans have to put up with:

Good grief!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Good Grief!  Children and Comics is a new exhibit at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.  It opened on June 3rd and has a large selection of tearsheets and original art from kid-centric strips.  From the kid who started it all, the Yellow Kid, to modern strips as well as some comic books.  Memorabilia is also featured, including some of the coveted Peanuts vinyl figures by Hungerford from 1958.

For you Caniffites, they have the original of the second "Dickie Dare" strip from August 1, 1933.  How much was riding on those early Dickie strips.  If it had failed, we would never have "Terry & the Pirates" and then no "Steve Canyon."  The mind reels.  Speaking of sturdy Steve, the teenage section of the exhibit has a Sunday from Marth 17, 1957 featuring Poteet.

As a companion exhibit, the adjoining hall has Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream.  This exhibit has the original art to the graphic album of the same name, which served as a tribute to cartoonist Winsor McCay and his Little Nemo strip of a century ago.  Both exhibits run through October 4th.

This is really October 2015 news (bit of a backlog here), but I wanted to make sure all rabid Caniffites know about Cartoons for Victory by Warren Bernard.  WWII was a fertile period for cartoonists, both in creativity and popularity.  Of course, Milton Caniff is well represented.  Not only was this the peak of "Terry and the Pirates", he was also doing the weekly "Male Call" strip for military newspapers, as well as whatever else he could think of to aid our fighting men.  The cover comics from Caniff as well, merging two spot illustrations he did for the homefront pamphlet entitled "What To Do in an Air Raid."

Also from October was the first ever complete collection of Beyond Mars.  From our pals at the Library of American Comics (LOAC), "Beyond Mars" was a Sunday-only strip that only ran in one newspaper!  It was written by popular science fiction author Jack Williamson and drawn by Lee Elias.   Elias was an artist out of the Caniff school, which I wrote about here.   So, it's kind of like 'Steve Canyon in Space.'

Like the Terry and Canyon series from the LOAC, this collection was edited by Dean Mullaney with an introductory essay by Bruce Canwell.

Comics Revue #361-362 was released in June.  It reprints the "Steve Canyon" strips from January 20th to February 16th, 1974, with the Sundays in color.  This issue begins "The Heiress" storyline, in which Summer finds herself the recipient of a mysterious fortune.

This issue also features Tarzan by John Celardo, Flash Gordon by Mac Raboy, and Tarzan by Russ Manning.  Steve Roper was added to the book last issue, and part two continues in this one.  Ask your comics dealer!

Getting up to date now, the Washington Post featured an article on Ohio cartoonists on July 19th.  It appeared in their Comic Riffs feature, written by Michael Cavna.    The article tries to answer the riddle of why Ohio spawned so many of the greats, like Caniff, Bill Watterson and Noel Sickles (though Sickles isn't mentioned).  You can read it here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


VOLUME 3 IS HERE!!!  The big Caniff news of 2015 was the release of "The Complete Steve Canyon on DVD" Volume 3.  After years of setbacks, the project John Ellis began in 2006 has been completed.  This volume contains the final ten episodes of the series (episodes 25-34), each with commentary and each digitally remastered to the same high standards of the first two volumes.  Also included is the original, unaired pilot for the series!  Volume 3 can be ordered separately or as part of the complete series box set.

Volume 6 of "The Complete Steve Canyon" was released by the Library of American Comics on December 1st.  This book reprints all of the daily and Sunday strips from 1957 and 1958, with the Sundays in brilliant color.  Steve ran into a lot of old friends in these two years - Miss Mizzou, Princess Snowflower, Savannah Gay and Col. Index.  Plus, Btuce Canwell puts it all into historical context with his introductory essay.  Order your to-day!

The latest issue of Comics Revue (February 2016) reprints the Steve Canyon strips from 11/25/73 to 11/22/73, with Sundays in color.  This is part one of "Morale Booster", a solo adventure for Summer Canyon in Africa.  
This issue features a Tarzan/Phantom cover by Thomas Yeates.  Yeates is the current artist of the "Prince Valiant" strip.  He also has a current Tarzan story being serialized in "Dark Horse Presents."  

If the folks at Hermes Press were worried about low interest in George Wunder's "Terry and the Pirates", they should be feeling pretty good.  Volume One sold out and Volume Two is on it's way.  Volume Three is set for release on June 20th along with a second edition of Volume One.  I didn't know what I would think of Wunder's take on Caniff's classic, but I've really enjoyed the first two volumes.  Wunder pens a clever yarn and the art is often sublime.

I have a display at my local library of items related to the "Steve Canyon" TV series.  I call it "Steve Canyon: Lost and Found."  What you see is all there is, so don't book your plane tickets.  BUT, if you happen to be on the west side of Cincinnati, mosey on out to the Green Township branch library.  The exhibit only runs through April hurry!!

Saturday, September 26, 2015


As with most famous artists, there will be artwork attributed to them that is not by them.  In the past week there have been three such pieces on Ebay.  Luckily, they are so obviously not Caniff that fans should not be fooled.

This recently sold for $90.  The seller claimed it was a spot illustration by Caniff drawn on a coaster and the figure on the left is Pat Ryan.  He dated it as from 1942.  While to me it in a way resembles Caniff's college style, it in now way looks like how he was drawing in 1942.  Also, he didn't sign it, and I can't tell if that's a signature at the bottom or not.  Below is how Caniff was drawing Pat Ryan in 1942 - 

Did you ever copy art from the comic strips?  I did it as a kid.  I lot of aspiring artists did it as youngsters.  I've read a few interviews where famous artists talked about copying Caniff strips.  This next piece was being sold on Ebay as a 'rare pencil drawing' by Caniff - 

I asked the seller about how he knows it's by Caniff.  He told me he thinks it's Caniff because several people told him it looks like Caniff and it's dated.  Not signed, of course, but why worry about authenticity when you're trying to sell bad art for $300?

I'll say this for it, the date is accurate.  Here's the panel the artist used for reference from the "Terry and the Pirates" Sunday strip dated 11/14/37.

This is the one that's a mystery to me.  It's not Caniff, but it is Steve Canyon and Princess Snowflower. My guess it's a tryout strip done by someone looking to assist Caniff. I've seen a couple of other tryout strips, and  Caniff did have an assistant on the strip from 1953 (Dick Rockwell - read more about him here).  Any sharp-eyed readers know who it is?

The thing that bothers me about these auctions is that the seller is asserting they are pieces by Caniff.  Only the third seller is saying "attributed to."  The rest aren't concerned with accuracy, only making a sale. Buyer beware!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


ACE is a brand-new magazine covering the world of comics.  ACE is an acronym for All Comics Evaluated and is edited by Jon B Cooke, the man behind "Comic Book Artist" and "Comic Book Creator" magazines.  The first issue features an interview between Cooke and legendary Marvel artist John Romita, Sr.  How did Caniff's art influence Romita?  What Caniff storyline led to the death of Gwen Stacy?  Find out by ordering ACE #1 from your local comic shop.

Leonard Nimoy passed away in February.  Nimoy was a guest actor on the "Steve Canyon" TV series, appearing in episode 17 as a Control Tower Sgt.  The episode was called "The Search" and debuted January 15, 1959.  This episode is available on Volume 2 of "The Complete Steve Canyon on TV" DVD series, which is available here.   I don't know if Caniff ever drew Nimoy, but he did draw Steve Canyon as a Vulcan for the cover of the 1974 San Diego Comic Con program, which can be found here.  

Hillsboro, Ohio is not only the birthplace of Caniff, it is also the seat of Highland County.  Their paper of record - the Highland County Press - recently ran this article about their favorite son as part of a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Highland County Historical Society.

This Society is definitely something I'd like to check out the next time I get back to Caniff's Hillsboro.

Cartoonist Irwin Hasen passed away in March at the stunning age of 96.  Hasen drew comic books during the Golden Age, primarily for DC Comics, where he co-created Wildcat.  Hasen is best known as the artist of the long-running "Dondi" comic strip.  "Dondi", which he co-created with Gus Edson, was about a foreign-born war orphan brought to the U.S.  It ran from 1955 to 1986, during which time Hasen was an active member of the National Cartoonists Society.

Hasen was a lifelong admirer of Caniff.  "Caniff was one of my idols," Hasen told Roy Thomas in a 1999 interview, "he kept it simple and he knew how to tell a story."  Hasen was the 1969 recipient of the Silver T-Square award from the NCS, an honor Caniff received in 1957.       

Dark Horse is continuing their series of artist-centric Warren collections with this tome devoted to the work of Alex Toth.  Creepy Presents Alex Toth collects all of his horror stories for "Creepy" and "Eerie" magazines.  Toth was a Caniff devotee and friend, while Caniff himself was a big fan of Toth.

The latest issue Comics Revue (Feb 2015) reprints the "Steve Canyon" strips from June 10th to July 7th, 1973.  It's the conclusion to the storyline that's come to be known as "A Prisoner of Love."  Other highlights from the issue are "Flash Gordon" by Mac Raboy, "Tarzan" by Russ Manning and a "Barnaby" episode guide.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


The Complete Steve Canyon Volume 5: 1955-56 came out last month on January 20th.  These exciting years feature the return of old friends and loves, some new ones, and the introduction of Steve's kissin' cousin - Poteet!  Little did Steve (or Caniff) know that this young gal would be co-leading the strip in later years.  The book includes an introductory essay by Bruce Canwell on what Caniff was doing in that era, replete with examples of artifacts of the time.

The December 2014 issue of Comics Revue reprints the Steve Canyon daily and Sunday strips from May 13th to June 9th, 1973.  Steve is on assignment in an unnamed Asian city to follow up on the rumor that a U.S. official with top secret info has gone missing in the mountains.

Also in this issue are "Tarzan" by Russ Manning, "Flash Gordon" by Mac Raboy and a four month continuity from "The Phantom" dailies of 1960.  Ask your comics dealer!

John Ellis of the Milton Caniff Estate has been giving updates on the release of Volume 3 of the "Steve Canyon" TV series on DVD.  Here's the update from February 8th.   Ellis has been restoring this series frame by frame and his long trek is nearly complete.  He hopes to have it out in the next couple of months.

Hermes Press announced the upcoming release of volume two of  "Terry and the Pirates by George Wunder".  Volume One appears to have sold out, as Amazon has none and they sell for cover price or better on Ebay.  Don't expect two full years of continuity from the title, as the first volume was under 14 months of strips.  I felt the first volume was terrific adventure stuff, thought Wunder stumbled in his attempts to match the Caniff wit, and Pat Ryan was kind of a third wheel.  I'm interested to see how the strip progressed.  The book is scheduled for release on March 10th.

The current exhibit at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum focuses on comic strip syndicate King Features.  King of the Comics: William Randolph Hearst and 100 Years of King Features.  The exhibit will examine the newspaper magnate and a century of bringing newspaper comics to the masses.  The promotional material for the exhibit doesn't mention if anything from "Steve Canyon" will be included.  Even though "Canyon" was owned by Field Enterprises, Field had a distribution deal with King, and it was treated like a King strip in their promotional materials.  I hope to get up to the exhibit this month, and I'll let you know!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Recent Releases of Note
  • The Band - Carter Barron Amphitheater, Washington DC, July 17th
  • The Beatles - The Beatles in Mono [14-LP reissue box set]
  • Beck - Song Reader
    • Featuring Loudon Wainwright III & 18 other artists interpreting songs Beck wrote as sheet music but did not record
  • Eric Clapton & Friends - The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale
    • featuring Mark Knopfler, Willie Nelson and Tom Petty
  • Bob Dylan - The Lyrics: Since 1962 [book]
  • Genesis - R-Kive
    • 3 CD career retrospective of the band, together and solo
  • George Harrison - The Apple Years, 1968-75
    • First six solo albums remastered with bonus tracks
      • Wonderwall Music [soundtrack; DVD was also reissued this year]
      • Electronic Sound [rare on CD; also unlistenable]
      • All Things Must Pass [last remastered/reissued in 2001]
      • Living in the Material World [last reissued in 2006]
      • Dark Horse; Extra Texture [not remastered since their first CD release in 1992]
  • Diana Krall - Wallflower
  • Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV; Houses of the Holy
    • Both reissues will be in the following formats-
      • Single CD or original album LP
      • Deluxe Edition - 2 CD or 2 LP with 2nd disc having unreleased audio
      • Super Deluxe Edition
        • Deluxe Edition CDs and LPs
        • Digital download
        • 80-page hardcover book
  • John Lennon - Icon [greatest hits package for the discount market]
  • Julian Lennon - Everything Changes box set
    • Album on CD and 2-LP picture discs
    • Acoustic version of the album on CD
    • Instrumental version of the album on CD
    • Documentary DVD
    • Limited to 1000; signed by the artist
  • Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
  • Paul McCartney - New
    • Reissue of 2013 studio album
    • 2nd disc of unreleased and live tracks
    • DVD of music videos and 'making of' stuff
  • Stevie Nicks - 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Hypnotic Eye
  • Ringo Starr - Icon
  • They Might Be Giants - First Album Live
    • free download on
  • Loudon Wainwright III - Haven't Got the Blues (Yet)
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic - Mandatory Fun
  • Soundtrack - Boardwalk Empire
    • featuring Elvis Costello, Regina Spektor & Loudon Wainwright III
  • Soundtrack - Mary Poppins: The Legacy Collection
    • 3 CD set
    • includes "The Lost Chords" - fully produced recordings of demos for songs not used in the final film

Upcoming New Releases
  • John Denver - All of My Memories: The John Denver Collection [11/4]
    • Four CD box set
    • Hits, album cuts, rare & unreleased tracks
  • Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete [11/4]
    • Six CD set
  • Bob Dylan - The Basement Tapes Raw [11/4]
    • Two CD or 3 LP condensed version of Vol. 11
  • Bob Dylan - Shadows in the Night [2015]
  • Genesis - Three Sides Live [11/4]
    • concert DVD & Blu-ray reissue]
  • Genesis - Sum of the Parts [11/17]
    • documentary DVD & Blu-ray
    • no US release date at this time
  • Jeff Lynne - untitled studio album [Spring 2015]
  • Paul McCartney - Venus and Mars [11/4]
  • Paul McCartney - Wings at the Speed of Sound [11/4]
    • both reissues will be in the following formats:
      • Standard Edition - 2 CD or LP w/ download card
        • 1 disc of the original album remastered
        • 1 disc of bonus material
      • Deluxe Edition
        • Standard Edition
        • DVD with archival video
        • Hardcover book with artifact reproductions
  • Paul McCartney - Hope [single][TBD]
  • The Monkees - The Monkees [11/11]
    • 3 CD/100 track box set
    • Original album in mono and stereo
    • Davy Jones' pre-Monkees solo album
    • Six tracks of pre-Monkees Michael Nesmith
    • 48 tracks of demos/rehearsals/alternate takes/odds and ends
  • Moody Blues - The Polydor Years 1986-1992 [11/24]
    • 6 CD/2 DVD/1 7" single
    • "The Other Side of Life", "Sur la Mer" and "Keys of the Kingdom" remastered
    • Bonus, rare and live cuts of the era
    • "A Night at Red Rocks" concert on two CDs
    • "A Night at Red Rocks" excerpted DVD
    • "The Other Side of Red Rocks" documentary DVD
  • Frank Sinatra - This is Sinatra [11/4]
    • vinyl reissue of 1956 'best of' album from Capitol
  • Frank Sinatra - Sinatra: London [11/25]
    • 3 CD/1 DVD box set
    • reissue of "Sinatra Sings Great Songs from Great Britain"
    • Session material, BBC radio show appearances, 1984 London concert
  • Bruce Springsteen - Outlaw Pete [11/4]
  • Bruce Springsteen - The Album Collection Vol. 1 1973-1984 [12/17]
    • first seven studio albums newly remastered
    • his first two albums have not been remastered since their original CD release in 1984
  • Ringo Starr - untitled studio album [3/15]
  • Take That - III [12/2]
    • includes tracks produced by Jeff Lynne
  • Neil Young - Storytone [11/4]
  • various - Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes
    • T-Bone Burnett produced album of various artists recording songs Bob Dylan wrote but did not record
  • various - The Art of McCartney [11/18]
    • Tribute featuring Bob Dylan, Barry Gibb, Billy Joel, Jeff Lynne, Steve Miller and Willie Nelson
    • 2 CD or 3 LP set with 34 tracks
    • Deluxe Edition includes 'Making of' DVD
    • Amazon Deluxe Edition includes two bonus tracks
    • Deluxe Box Set [record label exclusive]
      • Deluxe Edition
      • 3rd CD with 8 more tracks
      • 'Making of' audio documentary and hardback book
      • Limited to 1,000
  • soundtrack - Wild [11/10]
    • New song by First Aid Kit
    • Catalog songs from Leonard Cohen, the Hollies, Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen and Wings

Black Friday Record Store Day - 11/28

  • Beatles - Long Tall Sally 7" [reissue of 1964 4 song EP]
  • First Aid Kit - America 10" [4 exclusive songs]
  • Genesis - From Genesis to Revelation [reissue of 1974 LP]
  • Jenny Lewis - The Pax-Am Sessions [2 alternate tracks from her recent album]
  • Little Richard - Little Richard [reissue of 1956 LP]
  • Ennio Morricone - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly [reissue of 1967 soundtrack on red vinyl]
  • Roy Orbison - At the Rock House [reissue of 1961 Sun LP on colored vinyl]
  • Elvis Presley - Showroom Internationale [2 LP first release of 1970 dinner concert]
  • They Might Be Giants - Flood [reissue of 1990 LP on green vinyl]
  • Neil Young - Official Release Series Discs 5-8 box set
    • On the Beach
    • Time Fades Away
    • Tonight's the Night
    • Zuma
  • various - A Christmas Gift for You [reissue of 1963 Phil Spector produced LP on red vinyl]
  • various - American Hustle [2 LP soundtrack with 6 songs not on the CD version]
  • various - Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 [as it was meant to be heard - on cassette!]

On Tour in the Tri-State
  • Adrian Belew - Indy - 12/19; Cincinnati - 12/21
  • Iris Dement - Columbus - 1/16; Bloomington - 1/17; Cincinnati - 3/5; Louisville - 3/6; Bowling Green - 3/7
  • Dennis DeYoung - New Albany - 2/14
  • Neil Diamond - Columbus - 3/18; Indy - 4/17
  • Bob Dylan - Cleveland - 11/12
  • Fleetwood Mac - Louisville - 2/17; Cleveland - 2/18
  • Garfunkel and Oates - Cincinnati - 11/14; Indy - 11/15
  • Steve Hackett - Cleveland - 12/3
  • Herman's Hermits - Belterra - 12/30
  • John Hiatt - Bloomington - 11/24
  • Chrissie Hynde - Akron - 11/13
  • Nick Lowe - 12/10
  • John Mellencamp - Louisville - 1/23; Cincinnati - 1/24; Columbus - 1/30; Cleveland - 1/31; Bloomington - 2/3, 2/4; Evansville - 5/27; Indy - 8/4
  • Mike + the Mechanics - Cleveland - 3/15; Cincinnati - 3/17
  • Randy Newman - Carmel - 11/23
  • New Pornographers - Cleveland - 11/15
  • The Orchestra - Louisville - 5/24
  • Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - Cleveland - 11/9
Review by Matt Tauber

Hypnotic Eye - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers [Warner Bros] - I'm sitting here looking at the album cover, trying to think of a song from the album, an album I own and have heard at least three times.  I can't.  That's not to say it's a bad album.  It's a good album that has the signature sounds of the Heartbreakers.  But I keep waiting for that 'wow' moment, and it never comes.  Props to TP for getting it done at 64, and they're one of my all-time favorites.  I'm glad to see them chugging along with new material, but they don't seem to be taking any chances.  Fellow reviewer Jim Bates has told me he was similarly unimpressed, but rates it better than 2010's "Mojo".  I disagree, as I think that prior album had some sharp turns.  "Hypnotic Eye" keeps you on the straightaway.  It's a good ride, but your hoping for a detour.

and now…some wisdom from guest reviewer Jim Bates!

The Black Crowes Alumni Report

The Black Crowes have become an odd band in the new millennium.  Touring on and off since reforming in 2005, they release new material in dribs and drabs.  Only two albums of new material have hit the record store since the end of their first hiatus; they appear uninterested in the usual studio album and tour cycle.   In 2013, they hit the road with only a live album download and LP release to promote.  It almost smack of a band lacking anything new to say, but that isn’t the case, as the members’ side projects clearly illustrate.

So what are the Black Crowes alumni doing in 2014?  Read on dear reader...  (I am sad to say I have no Sven Pipien news to report. I hope we won’t find him filling burgers at some Atlanta McDonalds.)

Trigger Hippy – Steve Gorman

Trigger Hippy is the new side project of drummer Steve Gorman and touring guitar player Jackie Greene.  Also featuring guitarist Tom Bukovac and bassist Nick Govrik, the band’s secret weapon is vocalist Joan Osborne.  An eleven-song set covers all the bases of R&B, soul, country rock, funk, know, the usual rock and roll stuff…  The band really gets cooking on a few of the tracks, including “Turpentine,” “Cave Hill Cemetery” and “Nothing New.”  Jackie and Joan share a couple of nice ballads, “Pretty Mess” being the standout.  (Just as an FYI, the funky “Pocahontas” does not reference either Marlon Brando, the Aurora Borealis or the Astrodome).  As always, Gorman is the man, but what I took away from this album is  a reminder of how much I enjoy listening to Joan Osborne.

The Ceaseless Sign - Rich Robinson

Wow, Rich Robinson just made the best Keith Richards solo album ever.  From the Stonesy “I Know You” opener, this is the most Black Crowes-esque of al of the albums mentioned here (And “The Unfortunate Show” might even be a better Stones style rocker).  But it isn’t all riffs, just good roots rock.  “In Comes the Night” reminds me of the '80s.  “The Giving Key” is the kind of swaggery ballad you don’t hear much anymore.  “One Road Hill” is a pretty acoustic sing along, and it is hard to classify the drum-based “Trial and Faith.”  Rich continues to mature as a singer and his singing is no longer cringeworthy.  Add to that some well-done lyrics, and Mr. Robinson has hit another solo album home run in a row after a shaky first effort. 

Get the LP release because you get some bonus instrumentals on side four, some neat looking coloured vinyl and a copy of the CD to listen to in the car.  Sweet.

Phosphorescent Harvest - Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Everyone’s favorite jam band - the Brotherhood - are back and spacier than ever.  “Shore Power” opens this album with Adam MacDougall’s space keyboards once again on full display and a big New York City breakdown.  It, along with “Meanwhile in the Gods...” and “Jump the Turnstiles,” are the only upbeat rockers.  The rest of the album is slower and trippier, with “Clear Blue Skies & The Good Doctor” almost entering ELO territory.  I was excited to see the Black Crowes’ lost classic, “Tornado,” recast into a full band track.  “Help yourself to some of my disaster...”  The closing track on the CD- “Burn Slow”- might be the best review possible of this album (oh, and the track itself isn’t bad either...think Crazy Horse on serious downers).

The LP release includes two bonus tracks...the electronic instrumental “Humboldt Windchimes” and “Star Crossed Lonely Sailor” which should have been included on the album itself.  That is the good news; the bad news is how it sounds.  Something went wrong at the pressing plant that day...snap, crackle, and pop! I’ve heard LPs sound better after warping in the sun...Glad they included a free download code!

The CRB is better live, and the song on this album are, too, but this is the closest they have come to putting their live sound down on tape.  My understanding is that they worked on this album for quite a while and it shows.  Can’t wait to hear what the next album sounds like.
Holy Ghost - Marc Ford

Who expected this?  Guitar-slinger Marc Ford doing a mostly acoustic Americana album?  The results are pretty damn good.  Sure, there isn’t much electric guitar and Marc never really lets loose, but he has some good songs here.  His lyrics have improved, but still occasionally fall into cliché.  “I once had a problem as big as a truck, I was running on empty, shit out of luck” from “Dream #26,” for example.  However, the same song does have a nice chorus - “Easy like Sunday with the Reverend Al Green.”  The songs work with Marc’s vocals, and while this isn’t the kind of album that will change rock and roll, it is an enjoyable listen with a strong spiritual undercurrent.  It makes me wonder if this is the kind of album Eric Clapton wishes he had made in the '90s.

has the hooka smoke cleared?  ok, then
…here's guest reviewer Lucas Hardwick!

Leonard Cohen - "Popular Problems"

Released two days before his 80th birthday, Mr. Cohen seems to have overcome the mortality dilemma he was facing in “Old Ideas,” and takes on well, “popular problems” for his latest album.

He starts off reminding us that, yeah, he’s got his way of doing things, and gives us great rhyme and rhythm with “Slow.”  That said, he’s rather prolific for his age, giving us his second album in as many years.  You don’t get that from many pop artists or even today’s Top 40 folks.

“Almost Like The Blues” is the first single release from the album and takes on the theme of the record’s title. “There is no God in heaven / there is no Hell below / so says the great professor of all there is to know. / But I’ve had the invitation / that a sinner can’t refuse / It’s almost like salvation / It’s almost like the blues,” is the most profound lyric of the song and suggests themes like “Jesus only loves a man who loses,” and asks why do bad things happen in the world.

He also addresses regular relationship troubles in “Did I Ever Love You” and “A Street.”

Not a single miss on this album, and in spite of it’s bummer of a theme, I find it more relatable and upbeat than “Old Ideas.”  I’ll catch myself listening to this one many more times.

Standout tracks include:  “Samson In New Orleans,” “A Street,” “Nevermind,” and “You Got Me Singing,” which provides a call back to his classic “Hallelujah.”

P. S.  It really is a great album, but I joked about the album art not being one of the “problems.”

Other recent great purchases:
Scott Walker and Sunn(O))) - “Soused”:  Nightmare music and a song about Marlon Brando

Prince - “Art Official Age”:  Experimental and overproduced, but good to see him back

Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL - “Plectrumelectrum”:  Rock and roll with a little R&B inside.  Fantastic album!!!  One of my favorites from The Artist.

Thanks so much Lucas and Jim!