Hotline to the Underground

Essays from Joe Viglione 9-21-2020

Artist: Born Yesterday

E.P. Rattle the Cage

Our lead-off record this week is from the band that released Zero Caution awhile back. The five songs here are 3:49 and under making for short pop/rock/punk bursts of enthusiasm. The first single is “Flounder(Turn Around”) and it is classy and a groove. At 3:41 “Flounder” begins with an engaging riff reminiscent of Leslie West and Mountain taking the curve into Bad Company territory. Yes, it is hard rock that Born Yesterday embraces, but Ben (Guitar/Vocals), Josh (Bass) and Stephen (Drums) have modern rock tendencies and are certainly rocking on the edge of garage and hard pop.

“Woah Oh Oh (It Takes Two to Go Around”) has the fun and urgency of the Buzzcocks while “Hysteria” at 2:42 starts off like the Yardbirds “Goodnight Sweet Josephine” (USA version, phased) but then quickly gets back to the blitz. Perhaps “Black Blizzard” is a paean to Blizzard of Oz and Black Sabbath, it’s certainly heavy enough with Bill Ward style drumming and Ben’s voice touching on early Ozzy. It’s my second fave track next to “Flounder.” “Flip Out,” the former phone number of a Boston area drummer from the 1970s, blasts at you with good-time speed. An entertaining second release from this vital trio.


Artist: Molly McNight

Song: Lie To You 2020


Molly McKnight with Tony King and Nina Vox

Song: Blackbird (Lennon/McCartney)



Wow, this is a real find. I met Molly in the offices of Music Connection Magazine in Los Angeles in 1986 and reviewed her Lost in the Mirrors album for This tune, co-written by Calvin James back then, found renewed released on 8-12-2020 and has a charming vocal over a reggae beat and a new guitar. “If he’s going to lie to her, he’s going to lie to you” is an exquisite hook and this rendition has real staying power.


When Molly’s friend, former Mercury artist Jo Jo Laine, recorded this with the legendary Bernard Purdie on drums, the girl group extraordinaire singer played it close to the Beatles. After all, she performed the tune at Beatles’ conventions. Molly takes the three minutes and forty-two seconds into a marvelous bluesy/folk. It is very attractive and draws the listener in.





From the GOATS HEAD SOUP 2020 we get a new blast of Stones from their Golden Era. On target and sounding very Exile on Main Street, a definite cousin (or brother) to “Rocks Off” from the classic double record set. With a solid Charlie Watts beat Mick Jagger has lots of fun with a smattering of words while Keith goes “Brown Sugar” riff – it’s something that the Stones don’t usually do, which is re-write the material with familiar riffs. Sure, Keith reinvents his material (when he’s not turning The Temptations “Get Ready” into “Bitch”) and, yes, “Aladdin Song” is “Paint it Black” reinvented, but “Criss Cross” goes beyond all the musicology and is yet another very listenable Stones classic (or mix of classics) with staying power.


ABKCO just re-released “Dandelion” with their wonderful lyric/YouTube that they’ve been issuing along with the music prior to The Rolling Stones move to Atlantic Records. This song continues the fun that “Criss Cross” contains and more. It has a unique flavor with wonderfully descending guitar lines. Great idea to add the lyrics to the YouTube and the Honky Tonk vibe mixes well with the band chugging along. As one YouTube poster said “Some bands would kill for the songs the Stones left behind” (paraphrasing him, of course.) It’s so true. This stuff would have been a hit for bands on Top 40 back in the day. Just amazing and highly repeatable. Goats Head Soup is truly having an amazing resurrection.

Artist: Mike Morrissey

Album: Courage


“Calm and Collected” could be a track off of the Velvet Underground third album, high praise indeed. At two minutes and eleven seconds it is short and sweet. The Courage album was recorded, according to the essay on Bandcamp: “in Mike’s apartment in Somerville in April and the first two weeks of May 2020 (Gifts is an exception and was recorded on 7/3/2019). Once the guitar and vocal performances were captured, Mike and Grant Bloom worked together remotely and Grant added additional instruments at his home studio in Boston. Mike recorded PJ Holaday on drums at their apartment in Somerville with Grant’s remote assistance. Grant mixed it and Carter Sanders mastered it.” The second track, “On The Line,” which clocks in at 2:18, a second shorter than “Calm and Collected.” It too could be an out-take from The Velvet Underground (third) and is magical, compelling and very special. Things get more hopping with “Mirror Man,” not Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” more like a folk singer going rock a la Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” period. At 1:59 it is seven seconds longer than The Box Tops “The Letter.” With “Perfect Light” Mike goes into Rusty Kershaw Cajun country. Pensive and eloquent, it takes a slow turn around the corner from the previous three tracks. It’s the timing that delivers the smart composition. Indeed, the songs here and the previous reviewed tunes would all make for a highly listenable radio show.

“Gifts” was recorded 7/3/2019, about nine or ten months before the other four tracks. The keyword is “courage,” the title of the E.P. I’m very impressed and urge you to go to Bandcamp and check it out.


Artist: Fire in the Field

SONG:Shadow Way


“Shadow Way” is the video off Fire In The Field’s new studio LP RESURRECT, and it is as hard rocking as Mike Morrissey’s above essayed music is light, the complete opposite, yet the music by both artists is so good they complement each other well if Top 40 from the 60’s and 70’s existed in this era. Kinda like putting Jonathan Edwards next to Deep Purple as was the way back in those glorious hit radio days. The music here swirls and kicks with authority. It clicks in a professional and inviting way.


SONG: Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys


Eleven minutes and thirty-eight seconds of one of my all-time favorite songs. A latter-day Traffic at Woodstock August 14, 1994…the Woodstock that got away. However, this song and performance didn’t. It’s exactly like the studio recording, Traffic sometimes going the Pink Floyd route of re-creating the sound the listeners initially heard. Simply amazing and stumbled upon tonight while reviewing the music listed above. Pure magic. Love it.

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