Monday, April 30, 2007

They Blew Up The Death Star!

You need to have seen Star Wars 3 and 4 to really get this, but it's pretty classic. Thanks for the tip, VoxMoose!

Looks like Cartoon Network took this down, but you can now see it here.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dio Speaks!

This is from, copied in its entirety. But these quotes are so informative for those who care about Dio and Sabbath (and who doesn't!), I thought they bore repurposing:

David Glessner of the Express-News spoke with legendary vocalist Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath (Heaven And Hell), Dio, Rainbow). A few excerpts follow:

Discussing his universally recognized forked-fingers devil-horn salute:

"You see it at Britney Spears concerts now and that's when you know you've lost it. I certainly didn't invent it, but I've become synonymous with it. It's cool to do a show and not (flash the horns) for a while, because everyone in the audience is just waiting and waiting for it."

Talking about comparisons to the Ozzy-fronted version of Sabbath:

"As you said, I think (both versions of Black Sabbath) are two distinct entities. In listening to 'Heaven and Hell,' I find very few flaws in it. If you've got a great band playing great songs that defined an era, you've got something really special. Some of the people who discovered Sabbath at that point didn't even know there had been a Sabbath with Ozzy. This is not a me-versus-Ozzy thing. Sabbath with Ozzy invented heavy metal. They deserve the credit they've been given. I just brought something different, because I came from a more musical place. We kept the integrity of the heaviness, but musically, there were a lot more places for Tony and Geezer to go."

Chatting about Dio's original departure from Sabbath after the 1982 live album, "Live Evil," parts of which were recorded in San Antonio:

"There were too many people whispering behind too many other peoples' backs. Truth be told, Vinny and I were waiting for Tony and Geezer to come to the studio and they never did. Things got blown out of proportion."

Discussing the "Dehumanizer" album, which Dio describes as "one of the great, underrated albums of the metal genre":

"About a week into the American tour, I was told we were going to be the opening act for Ozzy for two shows. I said, 'No, I won't do that.' At that point, so much dirty water had gone under the bridge and I knew Sabbath was going to reunite with Ozzy anyway, so I just refused. They got Rob Halford as a late replacement for me to do those two shows. I did what I believed in and I still think it was right."

On Dio's determination to make sure the gates of Heaven And Hell will be locked before the legacy is pillaged:

"Had I been bright enough, I would have used your exact last words. If you get into the cycle of an album and a tour, and then another and another, at some point you're forced to do something you don't want to do. We all have other commitments and the guys are going to have their 40th anniversary with Sabbath next year, so I'm sure they'll do something with Ozzy."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Heaven and Hell Concert Review

Caught the Heaven and Hell show last night in Man Jose at the HP Pavilion. Overall, they did not disappoint. My buddy Kevin and I showed up just after 8:30 and we caught Megadeath saying goodnight. Which was perfect because I didn’t give a rat’s ass about seeing Megadeath or the other opener.

Quick set change and the mighty Dio-led Sabbath took the stage. They were fricking great. Exceeded all of my expectations. Dio was the stand out. His voice is still so powerful. It is clear that he has taken very good care of himself. Kevin and I had seen Dio play solo twice in the 80s (Holy Diver and Last In Line tours) and we agreed he sounded even better last night.

The guy also has the best attitude. He smiled all night, interacted with the front general admission layers of people. He took items fans had made for him, held them up and put them aside for later. He even tried to do a between song autograph but no one had a pen. Iommi came to rescue with a handful of picks. But you could just tell that Dio was having a blast singing these songs, with this band.

Tony Iommi was also a stand out. I had seen Sabbath at the last Ozzfest (more on that in a second), so I knew he was still at the top of his game as a player. But he really shines on the Dio-era songs. He ripped some of the most kick ass guitar solos – ranging from moody and dark to so blazingly fast I thought his prosthetic fingertips would burst into flame. Lots of smiles from Tony, too.

The guy who surprised me was Geezer Butler. I knew he was good, but I wasn’t sure if live he was sort of a slop hound. But he played the shit out of that bass. Fast and precise, melodic. Lots of cool wah-wah effects in Sign of the Southern Cross (funny, I always thought that was guitar on the album). The surprise of the night.

Drummer Vinny Appice was fine in the songs Рreally good, actually. But he wrecked it by doing the most Spinal Tap, bogus, crappy drum solo I have seen in years. Iommi must have needed a smoke break or something, because Appice had no business doing a drum solo. Boring, clich̩ and uninspired.

The set list was a dream. Sure, they skipped some Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules tunes in favor of new material or stuff from Dehumanizer, but I thought it worked overall. In fact, the three Dehumanizer tunes they did (After All, I, Computer God) were much, much better than their studio counterparts. It made me realize that the trouble with that album was the way it was produced – not the songwriting. These songs fit right in with the classic stuff.

They did two brand new songs that were recorded for the new Dio Years compilation. One (The Devil Cried) was very forgettable, but Shadow of The Wind was pretty killer – good vocal melody and very heavy riff.

Of course I am saving the best for last. They treated us to the classic Dio era Sabbath, doing Mob Rules, Lady Evil, Children of the Sea, Falling Off the Edge of the World, Sign of the Southern Cross, Voodoo, and the three standouts by far – Die Young, Heaven and Hell and a blistering encore of Neon Knights. Actually, I pretty much got my money’s worth with Children of the Sea. Epic.

The stage was gothic but not too Spinal Tap. No video screens thank God. I felt like this show would be so great in a little club. Just super heavy ass music played by talented hard rock legends.

Overall, it was very clear they were enjoying playing this music that they haven’t done in more than 15 or 20 years. Like I said, I had seen the Ozzy fronted Sabbath at the last Ozzfest and they just struggled. Ozzy lost his voice half way through, everyone was looking at the ground, and you just got the sense that they were so far past their prime it was kind of embarrassing. With Dio, it’s a whole different band. Tight, powerful, passionate, heavy, and really into what they are doing. I wish I could see them again, but I hear there is a DVD from this tour coming, so I will just have to get that instead!

Oh yeah, and Dio still says “Hell,” “Devil” and “Fire” the way only Dio can say “Hell,” “Devil” and “Fire.”

Set list:
After All (The Dead)
The Mob Rules
Children of The Sea
Lady Evil
The Sign of The Southern Cross
The Devil Cried
Vinny Appice Solo
Computer God
Falling Off The Edge of The World
Shadow of The Wind
Die Young
Heaven and Hell
Neon Knights

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wild Horses Couldn't DRUG Me Away

Sixty-something European ex-hippies and Keith Richards won't be the only tranquilized attendees at the upcoming Stones concert in Belgrade, the "City of the Future in Southern Europe."

Seems that the organizers are staging the concert, which is supposed to draw more than 100,000 people, right next to a racecourse. And they want to dope up the 300 horses on tranqs so they don't freak out during "When the Whip Comes Down."

The Reuters story said, "The sedative would be diazepam. In Serbia it trades under the name Bensedin, a very popular drug during the 78 days of NATO air strikes in 1999, when much of Belgrade's adult population was on tranquilizers."

OK, sing it with me. "Wiiiild Horses, couldn't drag me awayyyy." And especially if they were tranquilized on Bensedin!

Ace Frehley to Visit KISS Coffeehouse

Now, I don't know what is more lame. That KISS actually has a Starbucks style coffeehouse in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina of all places, or that poor ostracized Ace Frehley is going to make an appearance there to mark its first anniversary. (OK, maybe it's also shocking that the coffeehouse made it through its first year of business w/o going bankrupt - but that's a side observation).

Ace, who has been working on his 'latest album' about as long as Guns and Roses has been working on Chinese Democracy, was replaced in KISS (again) a few years ago and has made some bizarre appearances since. This includes the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp and a recent stint on VH1 Classic Rock and Roll Celebrity Poker Tournament.

Ace has always bitched about the 'commercialization of KISS,' so why the heck would he embrace this coffeehouse thing? MONEY, people. Ace sold his rights to all things KISS the first time he left in the early 80s, and I guess the guy's gotta make a buck somehow. So what the heck.

Oh yeah, and the coffeehouse slogan? "The coffee is hotter than hell." Please...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Classic Will Ferrell Vid

Update 4/19 - Will Ferrell had this video pulled from YouTube but you can go straight to his site to see it, for now. --P

OK, so this is not music related but it's damn funny! Enjoy...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Neil Peart Essay on New Rush Album

Rush's Neil Peart has always been a great writer. Aside from writing all of Rush's lyrics, he usually writes the text to their concert programmes and CD booklets, and has penned a few books as well.

One of my readers, Dr. John, uncovered this eight page essay Neil wrote about the writing and recording of Rush's new album, Snakes and Arrows, due out May 1. It's a good read if you have a few minutes and dig Rush (like I do).

Thanks, Dr. John!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Beatles Book Worth Reading

I was clicking around some friends' Web sites and Blogs and landed at Ned Music. Ned's an old buddy of mine and fellow Beatles trivia maniac. He posted about the new Beatles CD, Love, which combines both familiar and unheard of snips from Beatles songs across their catalog and does a mash-up into new pieces of music as the soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show of the same name.

I don't have the CD yet but after reading the entry, I am going to get it. It reminded me that I have suggested a recent Beatles book called Here, There and Everywhere to a few friends. It's written by Geoff Emerick, who was an Abbey Road engineer who worked with The Beatles from Revolver through the White Album, and then off and on afterwards, even through McCartney's current dismal solo career.

This book is a must have for Beatles fans, or even people curious as to how a record is made.

Remember, in the days before being able to truck down to Guitar Center or go to the Musician's Friend Web site to buy, say, a Flange effects pedal for your guitar, they used to have to come up with these effects out of thin air. They used tape machines to generate echo and reverb. They re-wired Leslie speakers to run instruments and voices through them.

Emerick even tells a story about how he enclosed a very expensive microphone in a plastic bag and submerged it in a water glass to see what it would sound like (bad). He even tells about how Lennon wanted to be suspended by a rope from the ceiling of the studio so HE could revolve around the mic. This is the crazy experimentation that led to all those killer songs and sounds that we totally take for granted today.

Emerick's book rips the lid off of these mysteries and shows with vivid storytelling how The Beatles and Abbey Road producers and engineers did what they did, with the paltry supplies that they had at their disposal.

Also, apparently The Beatles were total a-holes post-1968 and Harrison was a piss poor guitar player! Emerick for sure is biased towards McCartney and against Harrison. He tells great stories of Lennon being a jerk and Ringo being boring.

Regardless of all of this, I whole heartedly suggest getting this book if you are into The Beatles or recording. You'll learn a ton and be right amused in the process. If only school has been this interesting...

Friday, April 06, 2007

I Baptize Thee, Metallica, In The Name Of The...

One of my loyal blog readers, Dr. John, passed on this news from Sweden, where a Swedish couple is trying to name their baby girl Metallica. Pretty catchy name, yes? The dad said, "It suits her. She's decisive and she knows what she wants."

According to the MSNBC story, "In Sweden, parents must get the names of their children approved by the tax authority, which is in charge of the population registry and issues personal identification numbers, similar to Social Security numbers in the United States." It seems that they don't like the name saying "it was associated with both the rock group and the word 'metal.'...The official handling the case also called the name "ugly."

Maybe they should have gone with Beatallica, Caroline Maiden or Winifred Zeppelin?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Keith Richards - "Naw, I Was Just Kidding"

So this morning, the news is that Keith has retracted his statement that he ground up his dead father's cremated ashes and snorted them with cocaine in 2002 (see yesterday's post).

Too late!

Whether he did it or not, Keith just shot to the top of the list of rock and roll crazy crap, right past Ozzy biting dove's heads off, Ozzy snorting lines of ants off of the floor of Motley Crue's bus, Ozzy...well, anything to do with Ozzy. And also Nikki Sixx dying with a needle in his arm, coming back to life and shooting up again, Keith Moon driving cars into swimming pools, Joe Walsh cutting a hole between hotel rooms in LA with a chain saw. Keith blows by all of them (pun intended) with this, whether he really did it or not.

Right now, VH1 producers are updating their "100 Greatest Metal Moments" or whatever. God bless ya Keith! And yer dad.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Keith Richards: `I snorted my father'

If this wasn't Keith Richards, and it wasn't April 3, I would be certain this was an April Fools joke. Sadly it's not.

In a Yahoo News story that hit today, Keith says, "The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared. It went down pretty well."


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Radio Champions Eddie Trunk and Greg Stone

I wanted to post something about New York hard rock DJ Eddie Trunk. While I am not huge fan of 80s era hair metal (and he is), Trunk does a LOT to keep the whole hard rock genre alive. He is one of the last DJs who actually plays what he wants to play (instead of some corporate shill telling him what to play), and he has a great relationship with most of hard rock and metal's top tier. His Web site boasts tons of podcasts and interviews with everyone from Dio to David Coverdale to Lars Ulrich.

Trunk's show runs weekly in New York and Boston, but it's available online too, and he also has a weekly show on XM Satellite Radio channel 41. He's also seen a lot on VH1 Classic, running features and interviewing hard rockers. Every Christmas he has his radio "Kissmas" program where he plays KISS tunes all day and interviews any Kiss member who will make themselves available (and most of them do). There is a great recent interview with Trunk here, which reminded me to post on him after I read it.

Then there is Greg Stone. Stone is a DJ for the Bay Area's 98.5 KFOX. When I was a kid, the station was called KOME and every Sunday night Stone had a two hour radio show called "Stone Trek." He played nothing but progressive rock and it is there that I first heard Marillion, Camel and many obscure Pink Floyd, Genesis, ELP and Yes tunes that don't get played anywhere else. For example, he would play ELP's "Take A Pebble" or Floyd's "Echoes."

It was my generation's version of "Radio Caroline," the pirate radio station that operated off the coast of Britain in the 60s that brought music to the masses that the government sponsored stations couldn't (or wouldn't) touch.

Anyway, as with everything else from my childhood in the Bay Area, Stone Trek was long gone and sorely missed (by me at least). Imagine my shock, then, on a trip last year to the Bay when I got my rental car on a Sunday night, programmed the handful of English speaking stations I can still tolerate, and heard some weird Marillion song, followed by some Kansas track I had never heard before. "What in the hell is going on," I thought.

Well, Stone Trek was back. And for reasons I can't comprehend, he is now actually on Monday through Friday 10 PM to midnight, spinning the same killer prog rock. The San Jose Mercury News' Brad Kava blogged about Stone's return and I could not put it any better:

Every weeknight and Sunday at 10 p.m. KUFX becomes the best station on the air anywhere for fans of adventurous rock music.

And that includes non commercial radio, satellite, name it.

That's when deejay Greg Stone is given free reign, and the results are startling good. I have to remember I'm listening to a commercial station owned by Clear Channel, and I have to remind myself to turn it on, because I'm not used to going to the commercial dial to hear new music anymore.

That's right. New....Because Stone's library is so deep that he is constantly turning me onto rock I didn't know, and I have a library of over 10,000 discs.

It's a wonderful experience. What radio is supposed to be. Stone talks about the music with encyclopedic knowledge. I'm always learning new tidbits. And he plays progressive and bizarre rock, as well as plenty of more easy to take stuff.

This reminds me of why we thought rock was a great art form, not just easy listening music between the commercials.

Dare I say that there may be hope for radio?