Beatlesque Batdorf, moldy Who and ‘Songs of Aloha’

John BatdorfI was newly married in 1975 and my bride brought a CD to me by a soft-rock pop duo with the unlikely name of Batdorf and Rodney. She really liked it and after repeated listenings, so did I. They quickly went away and I really haven’t thought of them since. Until now. “Beep Beep” (Batmac Music) by John Batdorf arrived on my doorstep 13 years after my divorce and I played it while in the car with my new improved younger wife and–guess what?–we both loved it. “Beatlesque” would be the word but the title track, taken from Lennon/McCartney’s “Drive My Car,” mixes’n’matches a whole buncha Beatle tunes like Harry Nilsson did back in 1967 with his prescient mash-up of “You Can’t Do That.” Batdorf even sounds a little like Nilsson and that, my friends, is the highest compliment you can give a singer. “Beep Beep,” in fact, is the single most delicious little tune of the year (especially for anyone who ever loved the Beatles) and I can’t stop listening to it. The rest of the album (11 songs sung, played, written, produced and arranged by Batdorf) although not as ear-grabbing as the transcendent title track, is still filled with pop hooks galore, humorous lyrics, terrific vocals and the kind of production you’d expect from Jeff Lynne. Another stand-out is “She Knows What I Like”:  irresistible, bouncy and totally joyous pop rock that stays with you long after it’s over. That, too, is the ultimate compliment. Welcome back!

The Who "Quadrophenia And More" World Tour Opening NightI wish I say the same for The Who. I’m sure there’s plenty of kids who love “Classic Rock” enough to get behind this 19-song three-disc beautifully packaged event of “Live In Hyde Park” (Eagle Rock Entertainment) which includes a DVD or Blu-Ray as a stunning visual counterpart. As an old Who fan myself, I couldn’t have picked a better song list what with “I Can’t Explain,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “Pictures Of Lily,” “I Can See For Miles,” “My Generation,” a few tunes apiece from “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia” and, of course, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Bargain.” But this is the 2015 Who and, as such, although the songs are memorable, and Roger Daltrey (pictured) hits all the notes, and Pete Townshend is rebellious enough to curse his way through the song introductions and play a blistering metal/punk guitar, something’s amiss. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe they just haven’t aged well. I mean, as awful as they were at halftime of the 2010 Super Bowl, if it weren’t for Billy Joel, they would have stole the show at the grand 12/12/12 SuperStorm Sandy benefit at Madison Square Garden where they were great. So, they’re inconsistent, so what, right? Still, sorry to say that this is a band, to my old hairy ears, that has gone past its expiration date. I still must hear these songs, but I’ll hear them in their original pristine versions, thank you, and if I want a live album, I’ll pull out one of the best damn live albums ever recorded, “Live At Leeds” (1970).

ALOHA - coverAlthough Cameron Crowe’s “Aloha” was a real stinkeroo of a movie, the “Songs Of Aloha” is solid and stands alone. Hawaiian music, admittedly, is an acquired taste but as a rare sub-genre of world music, once acquired, it sticks for life. Forget Don Ho. Artists as widely disparate as Taj Mahal (“Hanapepe Dream”), Elvis Presley and Honolulu native Jake Shimabukuro have made some damn fine sound from this particular island. These “Songs…” do, indeed, have some traditional island fare that takes some getting used to but its pleasures, although subtle, are lasting. Plus, some pretty cool discreet picks from eminently listenable arists like David Crosby (“Kids And Dogs”), Fleetwood Mac (“I Know I’m Not Wrong”), Hall & Oates (“I Can’t Go For That [No Can Do]”), Kurt Vile (“Take My Advice” and even Beck (“Heart Is A Drum” are filtered in to create a mix-tape vibe.

About Mike Greenblatt

A longtime music journalist, Mike Greenblatt is a contributing editor with Goldmine magazine.

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