Monday, August 28, 2006

Google Tells It Like It Is

This email has been flying around and I thought it was pretty classic. Not sure if the powers that be have fixed this yet, but on Monday August 28, if you do a Google search on the word "failure," Bush's bio pops up. The image posted is a screen grab from my computer after I did it. I could not agree more or have more venomous words to say about our worst President EVER. Bush sucks.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Asia on Rockline

Tuned into KGON 92.3 in Portland last night to check out the original four Asia guys (Steve Howe, John Wetton, Geoff Downes and Carl Palmer) on Rockline. The host was in LA and the band was in a studio in New York so the interview sounded a bit disjointed to me. But overall they sounded good. Howe was surprisingly funny.

They avoided all the questions about why they broke up and why all the albums after the first one sucked, etc. They did three acoustic songs (Ride Easy, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes and Don't Cry). These sounded really good, except Wetton's voice was pretty froggy. He sounded like he was about two songs away from losing it (his voice). But then in the third song, it came in strong. Maybe he should do more of a warm up before singing (just a suggestion, John). Anyway, it was cool hearing them back together again. Made me all the more bummed that the closest they are playing to Oregon is Las Vegas (they are not even playing the Bay Area, fer Crissake!

Now, please tell me, does anyone screen these Rockline callers? There were some of the most inane questions asked (as usual) by slobbering fans who are so psyched to talk to the band they don't really have anything relevant to say or ask. Had I been patient enough to hit speed dial 5,000 times, here is what I would have asked:

1) When Greg Lake took John Wetton's spot for the Asia in Asia show, that was a truly hot lineup. Why was Lake in the band such a short time?

2) That Asia in Asia show was so good. Will they ever release it on DVD?

3) Will the band do any material from the Yes Drama album (both Howe and Downes were on the album)? How about GTR (Howe in the band, Downes produced the album)?

4) Question for Howe - what really happened to the aborted "More Drama" tour that was supposed to feature the bands White (Alan White with Geoff Downes), The Syn (Chris Squire and others) and Howe solo, with an end jam on Drama tunes. I had a Gold Ticket and front center seats for the Roseland date, but of course the whole tour was scrapped and there was no really consistent, legit explanation for why.

5) What is the band's collective weight? (OK, just kidding on that one)

Speaking of, I saw Carl Palmer's band at the Aladdin Theater a month or two ago and he looked like he takes very good care of himself. I will post a review and some snaps soon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Old Asia - New Asia

Old Asia - New Asia

These photos of Asia back in their heyday juxtaposed with this '23 years later' shot from this Fall's reunion tour just goes to show that as you get older you either blow up like a puffer fish or shrivel like an apple doll. Bummer that Howe, Wetton, Downes and Palmer won't be coming to the Northwest on the tour. I'd like to see them, even if they are approaching 'fossil-hood.'

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More Tubes Photos

More Tubes Photos from August 4 Portland Show (see show review from Aug 5 post below)

Got Metal?

This is an actual Craig's List posting from the Portland area that my friend Pat sent me today. Man, I wish you could apply to all jobs with a hilarious ad like this:

"Tired of the same T.V. shows, routines and tireless shit jobs? You need to form a fucking band Cochise. Have axe- will travel reasonable lengths to jam. I play loud fucking rythym guitar. I can shred on acoustic 2. Of late I downloaded Metal Church's anthology- like it. I'd like to put together a band that has a unique- distinguishable, innovative sound and song writing methodology up their sleeve. That's right dumb fuckers- I am 41 and I can still kick your ass. Call me @ (503)682-XXXX and ask for Bob G.- smile a mile wide and leave the couch. THX------- Bob G. all percussion and bassists get a free beer."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Awesome Rush Animation

You don't have to be a Rush fan to appreciate how cool this is and how much time must have gone into making it.

The End of the World

Here is a link to a Flash animation about the end of the world that my brother sent over the weekend. Enjoy with a nice cup of Joe.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Up The Tubes!

Caught The Tubes last night at Portland’s Aladdin Theater, a 620-capacity theater with a balcony and pretty good sound system. OK, so I went as a total last minute decision – The Tubes were my first concert back in 1982 at the San Jose Convention Center in California. I thought at the least it would be cool to see if singer Fee Waybill could still hit the notes in “She's A Beauty.”

But man, did they over-deliver.

First off, this local band called Paper or Plastic opened the show. Aside from the drummer, they were pretty rancid, until I realized that they were all about 18 years old. I remembered the bands I was in at 18 and how I would have acted at a gig like that. Then I thought they were pretty damn good, considering. When they cut in line for the meet and greet after the show, however, my enthusiasm for them waned a bit more, but what the hell? I sometimes wish I was 18 again so I could do it all over – but do it RIGHT this time. I sound like Uncle Rico in Napolean Dynomite – “Ohhhh, man I wish I could go back in time. I’d take state.” So let them have their fun, right? Who cares?

So, back to The Tubes.

I have seen plenty of old fart nostalgia bands trash their legacies, so I was ready for anything. First of all, I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout. Actually, kind of shocked. There must have been at least 550 people there – the balcony was open and the floor was packed once the openers got their crap off the stage. That really caught me off guard because the show got no promo, as far as I could tell.

I did not know there were so many Tubes fans in Portland. All different ages too – there were loads of guys that you know saw the band 100s of times in the 70s. There were dudes like me who cut their teeth on “Talk to Ya Later” and “She’s A Beauty,” and a lot of teens too. In fact, one kid in front of me requested “Haloes,” an obscure prog rock tune from the first album. And after consulting the band, Fee announced they were actually going to play it – and they SLAYED it.

Fee paraded out all the costumes like in the old days. He wore a TV on his head for “TV is King,” danced with a blow up doll, illuminated his leather bondage clad self in “Mondo Bondage” with a flashlight, and of course treated us all to an wobbling, wasted Quay Lewd in “White Punks on Dope.” He never missed a note, except for the super high, high part after the key change in “I Don’t Want to Wait Anymore," which guitarist Bill Spooner sang on the album version anyway (Bill has not been in the band since the 80s). I was astounded at how strong his voice was.

But, the band! Holy crap, the band was good. Original members Roger Steen (guitar) and Rick Anderson (bass) interacted only like guys who have known each other for 35 years can. Steen blew us all away with how good he was. I mean, he is a KILLER guitar player. That solo in “Talk To Ya Later,” originally played by Steve Luthaker on the record, is all Steen now and he met and surpassed that solo many times throughout the night. Original drummer Prarie Prince is on the road with Jefferson Airplane (I guess his girlfriend is the current Grace Slick-replacement singer), so they had a guy named Lou Molino on drums and man did he kick ass. I did not catch the keyboard player’s name (the only guy who did not come out to the meet and greet) but he was fantastic as well. He has all the sounds down pat, and added a ton to the vocals. Very pro. A keeper for sure.

I have to make special mention about the vocals. All five band members sang. Steen, Molino and keyboard guy did the majority of the back up harmonies and they were spot-on perfect. Very complex, three part harmonies behind Fee. At many concerts, if the backing vocals are that good, I wonder if the band is using a backing track, a la Ashlee Simpson (and most of the time, they are – in fact the bigger the venue, the more likely!). But these were live vocal harmonies, folks. A lot of hard work and a lot of talent there.

The guys were in incredibly good shape. I don’t know if I would have recognized Steen if I passed him on the street, b/c he’s taken no steps to hide his gray hair – but he looked great. Fee and Anderson looked pretty much like I remembered them in the 80s – even from the front of the stage where I was standing. It gave me hope, and also made me want to hit the gym!

In no particular order, they played: Mondo Bondge, Sushi Girl, Space Baby, Haloes, TV is King, Talk to Ya Later, I Don’t Want to Wait Anymore, White Punks on Dope, What Do You Want From Life, Tip Of My Tongue (awesome jam in this one), Out of the Business (this was the first song), She’s A Beauty, a couple of jams and a new song that I did not catch the name of but that SLAYED – another Steen solo ended this one. They did two or three others I am forgetting. The show lasted a very long time. I lost track, but at least two hours, with no bullshit set break.

They also did their punked up version of “I Saw Her Standing There,” which all of a sudden made me realize that these guys have been pushing the boundaries since the mid 70s.

It dawned on me that I was seeing living legends extend their legacy. The Tubes’ combination of rock, punk and theater in the 70s was so ground breaking. The Tubes were America’s answer to costume-wearing Peter Gabriel era Genesis – but with so much more of an edge. This was the West Coast’s answer to Alice Cooper and Kiss – but with so much more fun and kitsch.

Fee is the is the consummate showman, the eternal barker. By combining punk (before there was punk), prog rock, theater, raunch and humor, The Tubes did something that no other band ever did before or since. They are in a league all their own.

The obligatory break into the big time in the 80s disintegrated the original lineup, but not before they carved out a unique place in rock history. And last night at The Aladdin, they didn’t just give the audience a glimpse of former greatness, they kicked it up a notch and built on their legacy.

By the way, they were the nicest guys at the meet and greet. In fact, before the meet and greet, but right after the show, when the house lights came on and people were filing out, Fee was still at the edge of the stage, slapping hands and talking to people.

I mean, what a cool guy. No pretensions, no rock star bullshit. Just a guy who loves what he does, still connecting with his audience after knocking them out for two hours or more. Unreal. The world needs more bands with the work ethic and attitude of The Tubes. Musicians everywhere, take notes.