Tom Cartwright is a 30-year veteran of the music business. His passion for music began when he attended the first Woodstock and soon Tom was working in local record stores after school. In 1980 he moved to Los Angeles and started in the mailroom at Capitol Records, eventually working his way up to the executive level.
Tom has produced hundreds of CD compilations and reissues, most famously the Harley-Davidson Road Songs series. He's worked with a diverse lineup of artists, from Al Green to George Thorogood. He is also and active member of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) and H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group), and is currently completing his first children's book on motorcycles The Adventures of Biker Bucky.
Wheels represent ratings from 1 to 5 (best).
Ever wish for the return of the good old days of rock? Led Zeppelin, The Who, Van Halen, et. al. all have their best work behind them. 40 years ago, Blind Faith, one of rock's many supergroups, appeared on the scene and that album became one of the summer's biggest releases. Thus it's only fitting that whenever a new contender comes along, we sit up and take notice. Well, it's the summer of '09 and Chickenfoot is this year's "supergroup." Let's hope they're around for more than one album cause we need a party band like this. Chickenfoot is Sammy Hagar (vocals, guitar) and Michael Anthony (bass) from Van Halen, Chad Smith (drums) from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and guitar whiz Joe Satriani. It's always nice to see a bunch that refuse to grow old and just wanna play and have fun, which is what this group is all about. Come to think of it, that's what many of us who ride are all about too.
Chickenfoot's music is one of those perfect soundtracks if you're the loud rock n' roll type. Got a sub woofer as part of your bike's sound system? You're in for some fun! Songs like "Avenida Revolucion", "Sexy Little Thing", "Down the Drain", and "My Kinda Girl" all prove that, contrary to widespread rumours, rock ain't dead. Joe Satriani certainly has a lot to teach the "Guitar Hero" crowd. Chad and Michael lay down a great backdrop for Sammy's vocals, proving once again that he's the poster child for the eternal party. Even the requisite power ballad, "Learning to Fall", won't embarrass you when you roll up at the light with the volume dialed up. This is all good- time stuff. Chickenfoot's music doesn't reveal the mysteries of the cosmic universe, but it will put a grin on your face and make you squeeze the throttle a little harder as you head down the highway.
Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs
Otis has been an on again off again practitioner of the blues since the '70s. Never one to shy way from sensitive subject matter, on this latest album he tackles the subject of love. But syrupy romantic ballads aren't his thing. Barry Manilow has left the building. Otis sings about the darker aspects of life and relationships. If you're lucky enough to be able to ride the back roads of the south, you're lucky indeed, cause this CD evokes many personas of long dead rural blues men, especially Muddy Waters and Mississippi John hurt. The album's lead-off track, "Looking for Some Heat" ought to be nominated "Best New Biker Blues Classic". Guest artists include Irish blues-rock guitarist Gary Moore lending choice riffs throughout the CD, Otis' daughter Cassie Taylor and jazz/hip hop pianist Jason Moran. "Lost My Guitar", "Sunday Morning", and "Talking About it Blues" are stellar tracks, best played loud if you expect to hear all the musical nuances on your bike. In all, it makes for a haunting musical backdrop if you need to discover some of your own inner and outer backroads.
Oh Happy Day
OK, I know what you're thinking. What's a review of a gospel CD doing in a bike mag?
Well, first off, this isn't your usual gospel CD - a fact that is quickly dispelled by the album's opening song. "I Believe" is a rompin' stompin' mother of a track featuring former kid guitar whiz Johnny Lang and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. It's also proof that the roots of rock and roll lay in the blues, and the blues, of course, were born from gospel music. Blind Faith's "Presence of the Lord" takes on an altogether different presence thanks to an amped up rendition by 3 Doors Down featuring the legendary Soul Children of Chicago. It's a great cover, even if it follows the original almost too closely. Other good stuff on the CD include a riveting duet with Al Green and current gospel sensation Heather Hadley trading verses on the Impressions'"People Get Ready", Rocker Joss Stone and Buick Audra performing "This Little Light of Mine", and Aaron Neville with the Mt. Zion Mass Choir on the Sam Cooke classic "A Change is Gonna Come". As an alternative to sittin' in church Sunday morning, take this CD on a ride and get some religion. It'll put a smile on your face. Just don't go tellin' the preacher we said so.
Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More
1969 was an interesting year for counter culture. Harley merged with AMF, a company that was certainly counter to Harley's culture. The movie Easy Rider debuted in June, featuring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as two counter culture bikers. And the biggest event, Woodstock, took place that August in upstate New York. Now, thanks to Rhino Records, the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film has now been re-mastered. They've also added liner notes and rare photos, all in a "bagger-friendly" cardboard foldout package. But what really makes this a biker essential is the music. And it's amazing how well it's held up over the past 40 years. The Who's "We're Not Gonna Take It", Santana's "Soul Sacrifice", Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help From My Friends", and of course Jimi's interpretation of the "Star Spangled Banner" are all epic performances, forever burned into our collective music consciousness. Crank up Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's "Wooden Ships" at maximum volume on your next ride and see if it doesn't impart a little nostalgic extra sensory overload in your brain. Rhino has also released a comprehensive six CD Woodstock box set containing an additional 38 previously-unreleased tracks from the festival, including (at last) some performances by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The incident at the Stones' Altamont performance was proof that bikers and rock festivals weren't always the best combination, but there's no denying the music here is good stuff for motorcylin' - even if you don't own a tie dye shirt.