Best of August 2012: Readers pick Steve Lukather, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Scrapomatic

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A timely sit down with Steve Lukather, just as he and Toto were ramping up for a summer jaunt through Europe, not only powered its way to the top of the August reader poll, it became the most-read item in Something Else! Reviews history.

Also recognized was a sneak peek into the lead track from Bob Dylan’s forthcoming Tempest project, a signature performance at Boston’s Fenway Park by Bruce Springsteen, and our look into the new album by Scrapomatic.

A reissue of Kiss’ Destroyer started a conversation about Bob Ezrin’s impact on this classic party-rock band. We also had a chance to reexamine the classic work of Supertramp, as performed by an all-star cast of prog-rock superstars who are members and former members of Asia, Deep Purple, Jefferson Starship, King Crimson, Mr. Mister, Peter Gabriel’s band, Rainbow, Renaissance, The Doors, The Zombies, Toto, XTC and Yes, among others.

Fans eager for the first new music from Jeff Lynne in ages took a trip down memory lane with us, as Something Else! Reviews explored favorites from his time with the Electric Light Orchestra.

The Beatles were both celebrated (with the latest installment of Kit O’Toole’s regular Deep Beatles series, focusing on George Harrison’s “I Want To Tell You”) as well as critiqued (as last December’s Fab Four-related item in the always-interesting Sucks Series continues to poll into our monthly Top 10).

Speaking of that, the Suck Series installment devoted to Genesis also made the August list, even as it sparked an argument over whether “Who Dunnit” was abrasively interesting … or simply abrasive. For what it’s worth, we’re going with the latter.

Here’s a look into the Top 10 reader-selected items for August 2012, based on monthly page views …

No. 10

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: JEFF LYNNE AND THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA: News that Jeff Lynne is making a long-awaited return with both a studio album and a fresh examination of ELO’s greatest hits had us recalling some old favorites. Lynne will release both albums, titled Long Wave and Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra respectively, on October 9, 2012 through Frontiers Records. To get you ready, we took a spin through some of our favorite cuts from the Electric Light Orchestra. — S. Victor Aaron, Nick DeRiso and Mark Saleski

[SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: Our first-take thoughts on the new eagerly awaited composition “Point of No Return” from Jeff Lynne’s forthcoming redo of classic Electric Light Orchestra songs.]

No. 9

GIMME FIVE: SONGS WHERE THE BEATLES, WELL, SUCKED: Major discovery: Beatles songs themed on the word “long” are bad karma — as our heavily debated list includes both the perfectly titled “Long, Long, Long” and treacly “Long and Winding Road.” We called the latter, in a point of deep contention for many Beatles fans, “this syrupy ballad.” Even at three-and-a-half minutes, it seemed to be overly long and, yes, winding. Well, to us, anyway. (Originally posted on December 27, 2011, but still going strong with our readers.)S. Victor Aaron and Nick DeRiso

[BEYOND THE BEATLES’ HITS: Think you know the Fab Four? Kit O’Toole’s ‘Deep Beatles’ series takes you into some undiscovered corners of the group’s ageless musical legacy.]

No. 8

KISS – DESTROYER RESURRECTED (1976; 2012 reissue): The longer I listen, every time, to this whole album, the more I just want to go and dig out Alive! — the up-against-the-wall double-live concert document from the year before that conveys all of the force, and humor, of Kiss in a way this often over-wrought studio effort just never did. First-time Kiss producer Bob Ezrin, and therefore Destroyer, just keeps screwing around — even on this new remix, dubbed Destroyer: Resurrected. When it’s good, there’s fun to be had … and, especially on tough groovers like “God of Thunder,” it almost gets there. When it’s not, though, the project is weirdly disconnected, like it’s trying to sound interesting, but instead just sounding silly. — Nick DeRiso

[SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: We track back to some of our most memorable moments in the long history of Kiss – from ‘Destroyer’ to ‘Alive,’ from ‘Ace Frehley’ to ‘Revenge.’]

No. 7

GIMME FIVE: SONGS WHERE GENESIS, WELL, SUCKED: Here, we sort through the worst of the worst — and that’s all — from the Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and Ray Wilson eras of this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band. Certain things within Genesis’ established band narrative went by the wayside, though: We didn’t ding the early albums for their sometimes cloying sense of very-British whimsy, nor their later albums when they settled for by-the-numbers reproductions of Collins’ solo ballad style. We wanted to delve into things far more egregious than those run-of-the-mill annoyances … the times when they didn’t seem to have an invisible touch. Whatever that means.

[ONE TRACK MIND: Guitarist Steve Hackett discusses key contributions to Genesis, the short-lived supergroup GTR – and how he created the move that made Eddie Van Halen famous.]

No. 6

DEEP BEATLES: “I WANT TO TELL YOU” (1966): As the Beatles’ career progressed, George Harrison gradually developed into a first-class songwriter on a par with the formidable John Lennon/Paul McCartney partnership. One of Harrison’s more unusual compositions, “I Want to Tell You,” fits in perfectly with Revolver’s experimental vibe. The pounding piano, pervasive dissonance, and a subtle reference to Harrison’s increasing interest in Indian music and culture add up to a classic and offbeat track. In 1980, Harrison described the lyrics as addressing “the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit.” Indeed, the verses paint a picture of someone constantly struggling with language. His mind is clear and pure, but the body cannot move as quickly as the mind.

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No. 5

VARIOUS ARTISTS – SONGS OF THE CENTURY: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE TO SUPERTRAMP (2012): Producer Billy Sherwood compiles a group that includes Yes’ Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman, The Doors’ Robby Krieger, Deep Purple’s Steve Morse, Mickey Thomas of Starship fame (who handles vocal duties on “The Logical Song”), King Crimson’s Tony Levin (who backs up Sherwood for “Crime of the Century”), Steve Porcaro (co-founder of Toto, a band that Sherwood has also collaborated with in the past), Mr. Mister’s Richard Page (handling the timeless Roger Hodgson-penned hit “Give A Little Bit”), and Larry Fast (Peter Gabriel, Foreigner, Hall and Oates). Highlights include XTC’s Colin Moulding on “It’s Raining Again, and a new original composition that reunites Sherwood with his 1990s-era Yes bandmates Chris Squire and Tony Kaye. — Nick DeRiso

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Every one remembers Supertramp’s hit-making era in the late 1970s. There were other times, however, when we wanted to tell them: “goodbye, stranger.”]

No. 4

SCRAPOMATIC – I’M A STRANGER AND I LOVE THE NIGHT (2012): No Derek Trucks guest appearance this time, and that’s likely due to the recent addition of electric guitarist Dave Yoke. Yoke, an Atlanta-area sideman and former member of Tedeschi’s band, brings a diversity of playing styles to match the diversity of song styles of Mattison and Olsen, and acts as an aggressive counterpart of Olsen’s on guitar. Olsen, a smoother, gentler crooner, is himself a perfect counterweight to Mattison. Mattison, meanwhile, lends his soulful growl to a series of Texas-style blues, rowdy roots rockers, and soul ballads. Together as Scrapomatic, they are even more the complete roots rock band than before. — S. Victor Aaron

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: The Tedeschi Trucks Band followed up their celebrated Grammy-winning debut album with an invigorating live document, ‘Everybody’s Talkin.”]

No. 3

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – A CLASSIC FOR FENWAY, NIGHT No. 2 (2012): From the entrance with “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in the background into “The Promised Land,” to surprises like a searing “Boom Boom,” and the classy tribute to Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky, to the encores torqued up with “Rosalita” (personally, I can never get enough of Rosie) and the Boston-centric “Dirty Water,” it would seem that a classic was born on Bruce Springsteen’s titanic opening-night performance at Fenway. Except for one thing: the Night Two rule. No matter how great the first night it, expect Bruce to elevate from there. Last night, you could tell something special was going on at Fenway Park. — Mark Saleski

[CAN’T GET ENOUGH BRUCE?: Check out our weekly feature ‘Sparks Fly on E Street,’ where Mark Saleski breaks down Bruce Springsteen’s legendary career – song after memorable song.]

No. 2

SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: BOB DYLAN, “EARLY ROMAN KINGS” (2012): Dylan strings together the kind of haughty put downs that have defined his best work: He calls thoughtless rulers “peddlers and meddlers,” then “sluggers and muggers.” Later, with a lip-smacking glee, he castigates them as “lecherous and treacherous.” He assures you that as easily as they will destroy cities, they will turn their sights on you, too. Finally, his rage begins to subside — but only after Dylan brays: “I ain’t dead yet!” As if you needed the reminder now. His band continues along with a groove full of dark, roiling portent, but it’s over now, like a furious but brief summer storm. All that’s left is the faint smell of ozone, and the lingering sense of wonder at the power of it all.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Steve Lukather explores high points from his long career with Toto, and how the band is carrying on after the departure of two Porcaro brothers.]

No. 1

ONE TRACK MIND: STEVE LUKATHER ON TOTO’S “HOLD THE LINE,” “PAMELA, “HYDRA,” OTHERS: As Steve Lukather and Toto returned for a series of concert dates, the celebrated guitarist stopped by to explore a number of tracks from his time in the band — including “Hold the Line,” “Hydra” and “Pamela” — as well as a memorable moment as a sideman with Eric Clapton: “I talked my way into the Clapton session, because I wanted to meet him. It was the only time I have ever been nervous in my life. It was pretty funny. I just played a little rhythm guitar. I kind of froze up a little bit. It was the only time that ever happened to me. I kept saying: Oh, my God. That’s fucking Eric Clapton.”

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