Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays from Isorski!

Hey everyone.

I have been slightly derelict on the blog postings the last couple of weeks. Anyone in the States following the news probably knows that many areas have been socked in by unusually snowy, cold weather. Portland was no exception, as we broke a 50 year old record for snow and consecutive cold days (in the 20s) over the last two weeks.

You would think that being trapped indoors would lead to lots of time for blogging but when you are also trapped with 3 very active boys aged 2, 9 and 11 during the holidays, you can do the math and see that it equals NO free time for blogging. Ha ha ha.

My Pink Floyd tribute band The Floydian Slips plays on New Years Eve in Eugene and we had our first practice snowed out, so it's a set of marathon sessions starting tomorrow. We are doing Echoes for the first time, and I am very excited about that.

In fact, the set list consists of mainly old school Floyd - Set The Controls, Echoes, One of These Days, etc - and not as much from The Wall. That is a first for us and I am also pretty fired up for that as well.

So that will keep me busy through the New Year. But fear not - Santa was very good to me and I have a number of DVDs to review here. The first two I have started to check out are Rush Snakes and Arrows live and The Who Live in Kilburn 1977, which is unreal. Stay tuned for full reviews shortly!

And of course, happy holidays to all!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Shocking KISS History Revealed

I thought I knew all there was to know about KISS but I was shocked at this news report. I have been totally schooled on my KISStory.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Friday - The Mob Rules!

Could not resist posting this. Happy Friday! FIRE!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fish Takes A Break

Former Marillion lead singer Fish needs to rest his voice for at least six months and will not be doing any full touring until 2010, according to a story on Classic Rock today.

Fish's report of the news, emailed to fans, is pretty amusing:

“It started off pleasantly enough and my speaking voice was deemed to be not too bad considering I’d just completed a tour.

“She [the specialist] took internal photos of my throat and vocal chords with an endoscope and pronounced that I didn’t have nodules.

“I thought everything was going to be diagnosed as down to heavy usage and prescribed a rest from singing for a while.

“Just as I thought I had an all clear she pointed out a white area on one of my chords and said: ‘But this is worrying!’

“As soon as I heard the phrase ‘irregular cell growth’ my mind went cold and focused. I knew what it meant.

“In all honesty I am 50 years old, I smoke(d), drink, have a ‘colourful’ history, have sung nearly 1,700 gigs in 27 years and have conducted probably three times as many interviews. It’s like standing on the M1 and expecting not to be hit by a car.

“I am taking at least six months off from singing. I’d like to think that I can play some festivals in the summer of 2009 but there will be no arranged tours until 2010.”

Get well soon, Derek Dick, and stay off the M1!

12/19/2008 Update - After reading Fish's MySpace blog, Fish fears that this might be throat cancer. I did not realize that when I posted yesterday. Clearly it's more a serious topic than my blog post alludes to. Get well soon, Fish.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ace Frehley Launches Web Site - Awk!

If you can believe it, there has never been an official Ace Frehley Web site. Fan sites have done their best to pay tribute to ole Ace, but he has not had his own vehicle for communication with his fan base - until today.

Buzz was high in KISS-land that the site was coming and it was being designed by Ace himself - the same graphic arts whiz that designed the KISS logo and the very cool solo album morphing faces animation that ran on the back screen prior to the encore on the reunion tour.

But oh my, Ace must have been looking at circa 1995 sites for inspiration. His site breaks about every design rule imaginable. Too many flashing, power sucking animated doo-dahs, unclear navigation design, and man is it slooooooow.

I expected some Flash-based awesome space trip rocket ride but what I got is a page right out of Web Pages That Suck.

Check it out for yourself here. Shock Me!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Alex Lifeson Talks About the Past and Future of Rush In Upcoming Interview

As I mentioned in a previous posting, Rush has been all over the news lately. The last couple of weeks has seen a number of Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee interviews to promote the DVD Snakes and Arrows Live, which I believe I have sitting under the Christmas tree as we speak. (Oh please, Santa).

I bought the live CD of the same tour and ran a long review here. It was a great tour and the band kicked serious ass, doling out the tried and true songs as well as rarely heard gems like Digital Man, Entre Nous, Passage to Bangkok and Circumstances. Even 80s fare like Mission benefit ted from the new energy and heaviness that the band put forth live on that tour.

Word is that this DVD focuses on the musicianship of the band, with many close ups of blazing fretboards and flying drumsticks. That is my flipping dream come true!

Flash to last week, when Alex Lifeson sat down for a long interview with Modern Guitars magazine. posted numerous sneak preview excerpts this week but pulled them all down until the full interview runs on the MG site.

I was lucky enough to read the excerpts while they were up and the interviewer did an fantastic job, asking all sorts of questions I would want to ask, like which songs have they tried to bring back from the past but for whatever reason didn't (A Farewell to Kings and Camera Eye), are there any pre-1974 tapes of the band (there are), including Neil's first audition with the band (probably not).

They also discuss how the band was bummed about how Vapor Trails was mixed (the levels are too hot, so the overall sounds is compressed and distorted, kind of like the complaints about the new Metallica album), and they might remix the whole thing as a one-off project, to make themselves feel better about it.

It goes on and on. I will be sure to post the link when the whole interview runs. The pieces I saw make me pretty stoked to read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Ad From The Auto Industry

Click the ad to read the fine print.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gene Simmons Actually Makes Some Sense

Now that Gene is talking about the music business and not about leading the last remaining superpower on the planet, I will give him some props! Check out this video of Gene being interviewed by Billboard (rated R for language). I fully agree with his take on the Rock and Roll Hall of Shame.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I Never Get Out Anymore!

...Not really.

But I hear on the grapevine that I blew it by not going to see Nine Inch Nails last weekend in Portland. Apparently one of the most mind blowing stage sets ever created by mankind. Whatever.

And of course I miss out on a lot by not living in Southern California where in addition to fires, earthquakes and military jets taking out neighborhoods, I miss a lot of one-off gigs with stars and luminaries.

Behold these two edited posts, sent by my friend Tai, outlining what looks like a great club gig in Malibu last weekend, with the band Chevy Metal, a side band led by Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. When you get near the end of the second post, dig the set list. Very cool. The Wizard? Get outa here!

Originally Posted by Johnny Bravo84
I went to the show tonight. it was awesome. 15 dollar cover (yuck) but it was well worth it. I don't know who the other guys in Chevy are, but they're awesome. the guitarist was dead-on for most of the songs they did. Nate came up to play bass on one of the songs, and Stuart Copeland played drums during 'Substitute' by the Who. they played a bunch of cool songs.

then, during the Johnny Cash/Tom Petty cover band, Butch Walker and Pink came up and sang 'Free Fallin' at the end of the set. I was NOT expecting to see her there haha. she seemed to be Taylor's friend, they were chatting for a while during the show. random haha.

if this really is the last show at the Malibu Inn, I'm sad. first time I'd been there, and it was a really cool venue, with a great sound system.

Originally Posted by Cosmo
Yeah.. I was deep down in the O.C., down Lake Forrest way and gave myself plenty of time to make the drive up the 405. Fortunately, there wasn't any traffic, so I got there with plenty of time to spare. Bad thing, The Malibu Inn has already shut down their kitchen, so I had to eat at the Jack In the Box next door.
I met Wiley, Taylor and Dange out front and helped them in with the load in and stringing the cable for the video (yes, the entire night was taped by Taylor's friends). I scored a band/crew wristband, but paid the entry fee as usual because I thought Cassandra might show up and she'd be able to get in through the backstage door and hide out backstage til the band went on (as long as she promised to stay out of the beer tub and the bottles of VO). Plus... I love supporting the local bands anyway.
As previously stated, the setlist (this is slightly altered):
Black Sabbath- The Wizard
ZZ Top - Beer Drinkers, Hell Raisers
The Rolling Stones - Can't You Hear Me Knockin'?
Deep Purple- Highway Star
Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
The Who - Bargain
Faces (Rod Stewart) - Stay With Me
Wings (Paul McCartney) - Jet
Mississippi Queen - (Nate Mendel on bass, Wiley as frontman)
The Who - Substitute (Stewart Copeland on drums, Taylor on backing vocals)
The Rolling Stones - Jumpin' Jack Flash
Black Sabbath - Sweet Leaf
Queen/David Bowie - Under Pressure
(Not played from the setlist was Ted Nugent's 'Stranglehold', Queen's 'Dragon Attack' and Sabbath's 'Fairies Were Boots')
It was clear to see that Taylor was very happy to have Stewart play in their little band. And Nate is... well... Nate.
And yes, Rod Stewart was great at one time... most likely because he had Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane, Kenny Jones and Ian McLagen as his band. His suckiness began at 'Alantic Crossing' in 1975 and 'Do You Think I'm Sexy' was the death blow... in my opinion.
Also... Paul McCartney was a legend... but, 'Silly Love Songs' began a downturn and that 'Freedom' song and his pettiness to have some Beatles songs re-printed to say 'McCartney/Lennon' year's after John's murder sealed it.
(Foos... model your long range career following the 'Neil Young Model'... not the McCartney model).
And say what you will about Alicia Moore (a.k.a. Pink)... the gal has a voice that is pretty fucking incredible. Plus, the girl has a rockin' body and in person... SHE IS BEAUTIFUL. The 'Gospel Church' ending of 'Free Falling' almost made me want to go back to church today... but... I slept in, instead.
Regarding the video... I asked if it would be posted online... but, the answer was, 'Maybe... enventually'. Which I took as meaning, 'Nope'. I think it was made specifically for Taylor. Let's hope it gets posted because these guys had 2 fixed (one pointed at the drum kit from the back) and 2 roaming with an audio feed from the mixing board.
It is a shame that the Malibu Inn will be bulldozed because the land it sits on is so valuable as fucking unaffordale condos that none of us can afford or more bullshit shopping shit. It's like we have no value in heritage, historical value or tradition... only fucking money. The doors close next weekend... Malibu doesn't understand what they are losing.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Gene Simmons Lays Down The Law

At the end of the interview, Simmons says, "You guys are good. I never talk about politics."

Probably a good idea, because if Gene were President, here is what you can expect:

--Flat tax of 20 percent
--Public executions for drug dealers
--Gang control via sniper

These and other groovy gems can be found in this recent interview with the Edmonton Sun.

Knowing Gene, what other things could we expect under a Simmons Administration? KISS Koffins for all US military burials? Playmate interns? Family Jewels White House episodes? What do you think?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Queen to Split With Paul Rodgers?

The rumor mill is starting to heat up that Queen and Paul Rodgers are parting ways after the new Queen album only sold 12,000 copies in the States. The rumor has the band scrapping all of its 2009 dates.

This is only a rumor at this point, reported oddly enough on various KISS related sites.

Only last week Gene Simmons reported that KISS and Queen might tour on the same bill next year. That would have been bombastic to say the least. As for the split rumor, Simmons is reported to have said, "Oh, I've heard that, but we don't know until it's real. I would be happy to step up on that stage. I'd (also) love to step up on a stage with the Stones."

I always thought the Paul Rodgers/Queen thing was weird but it for sure didn't suck. It just didn't seem like the best of ideas. Hey, maybe Brian May is trolling YouTube for Queen tribute band singers as we speak! Ugh.

Excellent Rush Interview on The Hour

Rush is on a roll right now, what with decades-overdue positive coverage in Rolling Stone and appearances like the Colbert Report a few months ago. The latest is not as high profile but is a great 13-minute interview with Geddy and Alex on CBC's The Hour from last week.

I really like this interviewer's style. He is very engaging and his questions are solid. he is able to draw some stories out of the guys that I had not heard before. Check it out:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Test Your Prog Rock Trivia Skills Against Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree

Even if you don't know or like prog rock, it's fun to watch Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson decimate Mikael Åkerfeldt from prog rock death metal band Opeth in this prog rock trivia video.

I got about 7 of these right. Thanks to Bassbudd for the tip on this one.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

KISS Shreds

Needs no explanation at all. Thanks, Chris, for the link.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Interview With Yes Replacement Singer Benoit David

Notes from the Edge has posted an interview with Benoit David, the Yes tribute band singer who is taking Jon Anderson's place on the upcoming 40th Anniversary tour. It's an interesting read, and the main impression I get is that he is not a big Yes fan but rather looks at this opportunity as a job and is going to do his best to sing the songs for as long as they need him, after which time he'll return to his normal life.

A coupla quotes:

NFTE: Let's go into how you got this offer to sing with Yes. How did that come about?

BD: Oh well, that's an amazing story. Here's the whole story. It all started when Richard, our bass player for the tribute band Close to the Edge, he's our manager and bass player in the band, and he had ordered a re-release of an album that Chris [Squire] made. I don't have the details from that, but you probably know about that.

NFTE: Fish out of Water?

BD: Yeah, I guess; I don't even know the name. Though he had ordered that, and the thing said well, be patient, because Scottie and me are taking care of this in our own kitchen, and it might take a while before we get back at you, but it doesn't mean that we're not taking care of you. And I think it was like in June of this year, Richard got a call from Scottie at his place here in the Laurentians, and as he was talking with Scottie on the phone, going over the order and so forth, well, Richard mentioned, "By the way, maybe you guys would like to know that we have a tribute band, a pretty good one too, and we're having a ball playing that music." So Scottie put Chris on the phone, and they had a bit of conversation together, and a couple of days after, we got an email from Chris on our website saying I watched this, and you guys are great, and this is really good, and I'm telling the other guys about it. It happened that a couple of weeks later the news came out that Jon had health problems, so another week later Chris called Richard, saying, "Would it be ok if we borrowed your singer," (laughs). Richard gave Chris my phone number, and Chris called me as I was working, and there you go. That's how it happened.

NFTE: What would you like to say to Yes fans out there through this conversation?

BD: What I would like to say to them is I'm not Jon Anderson. I can't take Jon's place and do that. I'm fortunate enough that the members of the band thought that I could do a good job singing those songs, but I won't be replacing Jon Anderson. I'm just going to do my best to sing those pieces in the best way that I can so the public can have a good time listening to them. That's what I want to say. I go there very simply, because I was asked, and that's it. I don't want to take too much space in that process.

So, sounds like a level headed dude, but I still don't agree with the band's decision on this one. Even if they are going to do Machine Messiah!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Speaking of KISS...

I have seen most of the classic photos of KISS with the same old staged poses etc, so this one really caught my eye. Seems kind of raw and 'behind the scenes.' Make sure to click on it to see the full, large version. Must be from the Love Gun tour in 1977, based on the outfit.

And speaking of Love Gun, dig this hilarious clip from the movie "Role Models." Be warned, it's R rated and not great for listening in a cube environment!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

KISS May Record New Studio Album

I kind of ignored these rumblings, as Paul Stanley tends to change his mind and therefore his soundbites, frequently. But Classic Rock Magazine called him out on the carpet so to speak, to see if he is serious about recording a new KISS album. Here is what they got, from the January issue on sale Dec 10:

What does the future hold for Kiss?
It looks like we’ll be touring Europe as well as the States next year. You’ll be getting more of what you saw at the Download festival this past summer – the Kiss Alive! vibe amped up to the max. There might even be a new Kiss album at some point. I have been ambivalent to the idea in the past but I’m much more open to it now.

Why is that?
Well, I thought that I'd be content for Kiss to remain a heritage act, just playing our greatest hits – Detroit Rock City and all that. But the new Kiss line-up with Tommy Thayer (guitar) and Eric Singer (drums) is proving to be so good, so strong in spirit, it would interesting to see how we perform in the studio. I must stress that no recording time has been booked at this point. But it if we were to go into the studio, the intention would be to make a Kiss album in the style of our 1970s recordings. A classic Kiss album, unmistakably.

While I still firmly disagree with Stanley and Simmons’ decision to put different musicians in the classic Ace and Peter makeup, I have to say that the current lineup does indeed rock pretty hard and is certainly the tightest KISS lineup, musically.

The bummer would be that I always bought KISS albums back in the day primarily for the one or two Ace songs, and obviously that would be absent from any new KISS release...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Yes Members Humiliate Themselves on FOX TV

This is so sad and pathetic. The almighty rhythm section of Yes with an impostor singer and two totally out of tune guitar players hack through Owner of A Lonely Heart on Mike Huckabee’s FOX show. I mean, the audience shots alone speak volumes. What in the hell are these guys thinking to sink the Yes legacy down to such a low status. Please guys, just retire the brand gracefully before it’s too late.

"New" Beatles Song Might See Light of Day

The buzz today in Beatles-land is that an unreleased 1967 song called "Carnival of Light" may be finally released, if McCartney can get Ringo and the Lennon/Harrison widows to buy off on the idea.

But don't expect Penny Lane part two. According to the Associated Press, this is a 14-minute experimental song containing distorted guitar and gargling sounds -- and even includes McCartney and Lennon shouting "Barcelona!" and "Are you all right?"

McCartney says that while recording, he told his bandmates to "just wander round all of the stuff and bang it, shout, play it. It doesn't need to make any sense."

So, fans of What's the New Mary Jane and Revolution 9, you may just get your companion piece!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Floydian Slips Halloween Videos

Two weeks ago, my Pink Floyd tribute band The Floydian Slips played a Halloween gig at the Roseland Theater in Portland. The turnout was pretty good for all the competition we had downtown.

We made a lot of little mistakes first set, although no one really noticed except for the band. But second set ranked up there with one of my all time favorites. We played great and did the 1978 album Animals all the way through.

But I have to say, the real stars of that show were the lighting guys who really did a great job with the stage, lights and lasers. I got my paws on the video this week and here are some of the highlights of that second set:


One of These Days

Run Like Hell

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mitch Mitchell Dies in Portland

And a bit closer to home, as Neil Young celebrates his 63rd birthday, there is some sadness as drummer Mitch Mitchell died today in a hotel in Portland of natural causes, at age 61. Details here. Mitchell played on Hendrix's classic albums Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland.

Those who believe in an afterlife can only imagine the jam going on right now between Hendrix, Mitchell and bass player Noel Redding who died in 2003:

Or this:

Happy Birthday Neil Young

Neil turns 63 today but the mo-fo can still rock! Here is one of my all time favorites of Neil, at a Bob Dylan tribute concert in 1992. Outside of Hendrix's version, this is my favorite version of All Along the Watchtower. See how Neil is large and in charge here. Not much has changed since then. Happy birthday, dude!

Love this one too, from the same gig:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wassup with Change?

Let's hope the new dude can meet our high expectations.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Future Begins Now

Jack Bruce Trounces Zeppelin, Steven Tyler Jams with Page and Jones

After picking up an award for Cream's "Disraeli Gears" at the Marshall Classic Rock Roll Of Honour a couple of nights ago, bassist Jack Bruce launched into a pretty crazy anti-Zep tirade.

From the full interview at Classic Rock Magazine:

After the ceremony, Classic Rock magazine's Dave Ling grabbed Bruce for a quickfire interview — and was stunned when the legendary bassist launched into an extraordinary anti-Led Zeppelin tirade.

An excerpt from the chat follows below.

Classic Rock: The million dollar question: Are Cream going to do anything again?

Jack Bruce: Oh yeah, I'm sure we will. But we'll have Todd Rundgren [who's just walked by] in the band by then.

Classic Rock: It's good news that there might be more from Cream.

Jack Bruce: Well, the trouble is that I'm doing so many amazing things on my own. Cream is just a band from many, many years ago, and we did do something [referring to the reunion shows in 2005]… Everybody talks about Led Zeppelin, and they played one fucking gig — one fucking lame gig — while Cream did weeks of gigs; proper gigs, not just a lame gig like Zeppelin did, with all the [vocal] keys lowered and everything. We played everything in the original keys. [Becoming animated]: Fuck off, Zeppelin, you're crap. You've always been crap and you'll never be anything else. The worst thing is that people believe the crap that they're sold. Cream is 10 times the band that Led Zeppelin is.

Classic Rock: That's a bold opinion.

Jack Bruce: What? You're gonna compare Eric Clapton with that fucking Jimmy Page? Would you really compare that?

Classic Rock: To be fair, they're different kinds of player, aren't they?

Jack Bruce: No! Eric 's good and Jimmy 's crap. And with that I rest my case.

I'm sorry but I can't make it through ONE full Cream album. There are certainly some great tunes and they had the hard rock thing going pretty much before anyone else in the 60s, but come on dude!

In other Zeppelin news, the Plant replacement singer rumors keep flying. Chris Cornell, Jack White (from the White Stripes) and of course Myles Kennedy have all countered rumors that they are Zep's new vocalist.

But here is the really weird one. Seems that Aerosmith's Steven Tyler actually jammed with the band a couple of weeks ago.

From various stories, here is some more on this:

Aerosmith guitarist Whitford has confirmed Tyler has been singing with the rockers, but is convinced it is part of a plan to win Plant back. He says, "First of all, they did it for fun. I actually think Jimmy (Page, Led Zeppelin guitarist) wanted Steven to come over and play a little bit because, I think, he was trying to light a fire under Robert (Plant)." And Whitford thinks Page wanted to send Plant a message to persuade him to tour with the band: "Come on! Come on, Robert, let's go!"

Whatever. Just don't call it Led Zeppelin!


Wednesday morning the JJ & Lynne Morning Show at 94.7 WCSX (a Detroit radio station) called Jack at his home in London, where he clarified his comments:

"I was just having some fun with the press gallery really… being fairly tongue in cheek.

"The thing about Zeppelin is obviously it's a little bit of jealousy on my part, or more than a little bit because the audience was created by Cream and Jimi Hendrix… this sort of very large audience… then Zeppelin came along and had a very easy ride in that way.

"We were the pioneers and pioneers don’t always get the recognition they deserve. On the other hand, let’s face it: Jimmy Page ain’t no Eric Clapton… no matter what anybody thinks.”

Bruce also had this to say (jokingly) about Zeppelin:

“The only decent guy… the one good guy in that band is dead… so what are you gonna do? The trouble is if you say anything about the establishment… In Britain you mustn’t criticise the Queen or Led Zeppelin.”

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

Let's hope it's clear and decisive with no opportunity for challenges and ambiguity over results. This has gone on long enough.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Beatles to Release "Rock Band" Competitor

The Beatles will put out a video game that allows players to play along with the band's music a la Rock Band, but it won't be a part of that game or Guitar Hero, according to many stories in the press over the weekend.

From a Newsday article:

Apple Corps chief executive Jeff Jones would say that the game will encompass the band's entire career and that the tracks used in the game will be based on the British releases of their albums. Separately, Jones said Apple Corps is still in negotiations to release The Beatles' catalog for digital download, but no date has been set.

Giles Martin, who handled music production of The Beatles'
"Love" project with his father George Martin, said that idea will be central to the game. "We are trying to keep to, as much as possible, people playing the songs as though they're playing the originals," Martin said. "It's more of a way for them to interact with what they know very well as opposed to us remixing."

Developers weren't releasing details of the game, which is still in development and won't be available until the holiday season next year. So it's still unclear whether players get to become virtual John Lennon and perform their favorite songs next to virtual Paul McCartney, backed by virtual George Harrison and virtual Ringo Starr.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Isorski to Appear on KPSU Radio Friday - Live Web Stream Available

To help promote tomorrow's Halloween Floydian Slips show at the Roseland in Portland, I will be appearing on Portland State University's KPSU radio between 10 AM and 12 PM Pacific Time. The show is called Fabulous Fridays and is hosted by Goa Constrictor. I will probably be on the air by about 10:30 AM PT. We plan to talk smack, play some music and give away a few tickets.

To listen in live via the Web, go here. You might want to test it out beforehand, as depending on what computer I was using, I had some issues with staying connected. But it ought to work. I am glad to have this opportunity for those of you around the world to actually hear what I sound like! If you happen to catch the show, drop me a comment.

From the station's Wikipedia entry:

KPSU is one of only a few college and community stations left in the United States which provide fully freeform programming. This means that the station's DJs choose all the music they play, without any required cuts or forced rotation. KPSU's programming features a wide gamut of musical genres including, but not limited to, indie and punk rock, electronic music, hip hop and rap, experimental, underground metal, jazz, world music, folk and alternative country, psych and garage rock, rockabilly, exotica and lounge, soft rock, and noise and even talk radio and public affairs programming.

Floydian Slips to Rock Portland on Halloween

Time yet again for shameless self-promotion. Tomorrow night after the kiddies rake in their candy stashes, my Pink Floyd tribute band, The Floydian Slips, will take the stage at the Roseland in Portland to bust out, among other things, the full Animals album. If you are in or close to Portland, please come say hi.

Take a peek at our rehearsal from Monday night, from which I assembled a short "promo reel"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tina Fey on Conan O'Brien

I didn't catch this live but it's a pretty funny interview. Among other things, Fey talks about meeting Sarah Palin on the set of SNL and how Palin offered up her pregnant 17 year old daughter to babysit Fey's 3 year old backstage during the show! Enjoy.

Part One

Part Two

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

AC/DC Bust Out Classics At Public Dress Rehearsal

This is re-posted and edited from a Blabbermouth posting:

Jessica Letkemann of had the opportunity to see AC/DC's "final dress rehearsal" for their "Black Ice" Tour in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in front of thousands of contest winners and invite-only industry personnel. Here is her report of the show.

In a hail of faux-cannon shots and fireballs, AC/DC played a "final dress rehearsal" for its Black Ice World Tour last night (Oct. 26th) at the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in front of thousands of contest winners and invite-only industry personnel. The trek kicks off tomorrow at the venue.

The lights went down at 8:10 as an animated AC/DC film played and a giant locomotive moved out to center stage, surrounded by fireworks. Guitarist Angus Young, in his trademark black school-boy uniform, played the opening notes of new single "Rock N' Roll" train and got the crowd quickly shouting its approval.

The 14-song show soon segued into AC/DC classics like "Back in Black" and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," with singer Brian Johnson and company testing out the elaborate stage set: 21 Marshall amps with a bridge across them, assorted pyrotechnics, a phallic stage extension with a raised platform at the end and a glass panel laid into the main stage so a cameraman could catch Young's guitar-handling from underneath.

A giant bell descended for "Hell's Bells" and Young climbed the ringing rope to open the song. A plus-sized blow-up doll was deployed for "Whole Lotta Rosie," straddling the train prop and manned by a tech tasked with tapping her car-sized foot to the beat. Besides "Rock N' Roll Train," the title song from "Black Ice" was the only other new tune played.

The show came on the heels of blockbuster first day sales of the Wal-Mart-exclusive "Black Ice" album, which sold an estimated 193,000 copies on Oct. 20th, according to sources.

Here is AC/DC's set list:
--Rock N' Roll Train
--Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be
--Back In Black
--Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
--Hell's Bells
--You Shook Me All Night Long
--Black Ice
--Whole Lotta Rosie
--Let There Be Rock

--Highway To Hell
--For Those About To Rock

Here is where the Blabbermouth story ends and I pipe in. This set list is crushing. Nice to see some older stuff like Let There Be Rock. And somehow there is a pretty high quality YouTube up already of the first number:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Merl Saunders Dies at 74

Kick ass organist Merl Saunders died today at age 74 from being old. All the details can be found in this story by the San Jose Merc.

I mention his passing here because he was truly an awesome player. I saw him with the Jerry Garcia Band in the 90s and he really added a crapload to the music. Other sites will do so much better a job at talking about why he was as great as he was...

But I have a personal Merl story to share.

Back in the early 90s, I was in a band called The Strangers and we were supposed to open for Merl at the Roseland in Portland. Merl could probably fill the place on his own but we were pretty hot at the time in Portland and expected to have a lot of our own fans there to see us.

When we got to load in and soundcheck, there was Merl's ginormous Hammond organ front-center stage. We were supposed to set up around this behemoth keyboard and we were a five piece band.

We told them we had to have that organ moved and they said 'no.' It was one of the rare times we took a stand, knowing the venue would have a lot of pissed off fans if we bailed, so we said, "move that thing or we don't play."

They moved it, but I don't remember another thing about that gig!

So Merl joins Jerry Garcia and John Kahn of the Jerry Garcia Band in that great gig in the sky. I bet they are jamming as we speak. Maybe it sounds something like this:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get Ready for a Heavy Metal X-Mas

As recently reported by LimeWire and now on sale at (be the first to write a review!), a handful of heavy metal luminaries have recorded rocking versions of classic Christmas songs for the CD We Wish You A Metal Xmas And A Headbanging New Year.

The compilation involves the members of Foo Fighters, Heaven and Hell (Dio and Iommi) Queensrÿche, The Cult, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, Dokken, KISS, L.A. Guns, Marilyn Manson, Motörhead, Testament, King’s X, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Ratt, Styx, and Toto.

Toto? Yeah, I wondered about that too.

The LimeWire story reports that Dio’s manager wife Wendy put the project together with Bob Kulick (ex-KISS) and some dude named Brett Chassen. Dio and Iommi for some reason do a remake of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and there are nine other tunes.

Dio reportedly said, “The Metal Xmas album was a great opportunity to pay homage to my least favorite holiday.”

This will go on my wish list right next to Chris Squire's album from last year, Chris Squire’s Swiss Choir.

Ah yes, and here is the ad:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sarah Palin On SNL

Sarah Palin showed up in a couple of segments on Saturday's SNL. Pretty funny opening section. She didn't really even need to be in the second, way more biting piece. But hey, whatever. Was it funny? You betcha! Two more weeks of this shite and hopefully we'll have all of this campaign crap behind us and some clear direction ahead.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Letterman Grills McCain

Thankfully someone can cajole McCain into sort of admitting that the "Obama pals around with terrorists" bullshit is indeed, political bullshit. This is almost cringe inducing:

For a complete transcript of the interview, go here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rolling Stone Has Format Makeover

Got my Rolling Stone in the mail yesterday and thought it was a Nordstrom catalog for my wife! The publishers have shrunk the magazine size from the 10-by-12-inch size they have been using since the early 80s, to a standard magazine format.

Unlike many of the other print publications dying on the vine, RS added more pages to accommodate the same amount of content and ads. And they put Obama on the cover for the third time in the last six months.

I have subscribed off and on since the mid 80s and have a love-hate with the magazine. As liberal as I am, even I have to question the tone of some of their political coverage. And I get sick of some of the new music and fashion fads they feel that they need to cover to sell to the newer generation.

But like SNL, RS has been around so long, it's an institution all its own. I have to say, I like the new format. It's fresh and doesn't take away from the content. Most importantly, I'll be reading that Obama interview. One thing is that RS usually asks pretty good questions in their interviews.

And speaking of Ringo Starr (non sequitur), he has gone off the deep end yet again with this bizarre video on his site, telling people not to send items for autographs anymore.

Well, as of October 20. You still have time to get something in the mail people!

WTF? Why October 20? Why so grumpy, Ringo?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chris Squire and Steve Hackett to team Up?

Since Yes' Jon Anderson griped on his Web site about being kept out of the loop on his bandmates replacing him with tribute band singer Benoit David, the Yes camp has been in spin mode.

Guitarist Steve Howe is begging tour attendees to not commit 'musical terrorism' by booing the band, and bassist Chris Squire has reiterated that as soon as Jon is all better, he is welcome to re-join.

Anderson removed his gripey post and it's even gone from the news archives on his site. Of course I re-printed the whole thing here.

But buried in one of those articles is this little nugget:

Squire reports that he's also started a new venture with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett -- "We may call it Squackett," the bassist quips -- that will be released in early 2009, with European dates in the spring.

"We're nearly 75 percent done," Squire says. "It's real good. Steve Hackett is a very underrated writer and actually a very good singer. We're doing a lot of harmonizing, and some of it is almost in the Crosby, Stills & Nash vein."

Not so interested in hearing Squire and Hackett sing harmonies. But it could be musically very compelling as long as they are not trying to craft pop tunes a la GTR.

I have posted a version of this solo before but this is still one of my all time favorite musical passages. I think that is John Wetton on bass but imagine what Chris Squire might do with the part. Please excuse the hairstyles and keyboard player. This must be late 80s/early 90s!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Zeppelin to Tour with New Singer? Is Myles Kennedy In?

Myles Kennedy. You may remember him from the metal band Alter Bridge. Or maybe not! But if you have seen the movie Rock Star, you will for sure remember him as the singer who takes Mark Wahlberg's place at the end of the movie (see video below).

Kennedy actually has some interesting stats behind him. According to Wikipedia, he possesses a 4-octave vocal range, with his longest held single note timed at 22 seconds; his longest note streak with one breath is 31 seconds.

He may need it. If reports are to be believed, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham are rehearsing with Kennedy with the intent of doing a Led Zeppelin tour without Robert Plant.

As reported today by the NME:

Led Zeppelin have replaced their frontman Robert Plant with American singer Myles Kennedy, according to reports. MuchMoreMusic claims that Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham have been rehearsing with Kennedy recently, after Plant issued a statement quashing rumours of a reunion tour and album.

Of course, the source for this rumor is Twisted Sister's Dee Snyder, who recently said in an interview, "They're saying [to Robert], 'We're all rehearsed, we're ready to go. Here's a gazillion dollars on the table. If you don't do it, we're going out with this kid. And he can sing the shit out of Zeppelin.' And they're gonna hope that Robert, at the last minute, will go, 'Okay,' and step in before having the lead singer of Alter Bridge out with John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Jason Bonham."

We'll see! Kennedy certainly has the pipes, but I am sure there will be a fair amount of backlash if this project is called "Led Zeppelin." At least there will no mistaking the new frontman for Robert Plant, even from afar. A lesson KISS could learn as they continue to trick fans into thinking they are touring with the original four.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

CD Review - David Gilmour Live In Gdańsk

I enjoyed David Gilmour’s solo album On An Island very much but didn’t really find myself coming back to it a lot. But while at Costco the other day, I noticed Gilmour’s spanking new double live CD Live In Gdańsk.

This was recorded during the 2006 tour, where the recently departed Richard Wright was in the band and Gilmour did On An Island end-to-end live. Which made quite a few Floyd fans upset. They thought it was excessive and too much new material. They wanted more Wish You Were Here and less Take A Breath.

But I gotta say, the live version of the new album is fantastic. If you are a fan of Meddle-era Floyd, most of this CD will be pleasing. The live version of On An Island (the song) is particularly good, with a couple of very epic effects-laden solos. In fact, the CD really picks up when it gets to the new material.

The CD opens with Breathe – Time – Breathe from Dark Side, and while it is great to hear Gilmour and Wright reprise their vocal and instrumental roles, we’ve just heard these songs so many times, they lose their luster a bit. But given that Wright just passed away, it’s pretty chilling to hear his vocal spots in Time (every year is getting shorter/never seem to find the time…).

But then we hit the new album, and off it goes. After a few listens, this live version of On An Island is kind of like a new Floyd album, with Wright very present in the mix. Lyrically it can’t touch Waters in his heyday of course, but musically it’s very ethereal, spacy and well, Floydy!

It sounds somewhere between Meddle, Wish You Were Here and The Division Bell. Could easily have been a Floyd album, had Gilmour chosen. I did not get that feeling from the studio version but this live version is of that caliber. The instrumentals are particularly good – Then I Close My Eyes could have come off of a Wright solo album. Very dreamy and mellow with great Gilmour/Wright solos. Smile is from the same songbook at Fat Old Sun. Just gorgeous.

And it does not get much stonier than the live versions of the instrumental Red Sky At Night or the very sleepy but mesmerizing The Blue.

Or does it? Just when I am preferring the solo Gilmour tunes over the re-hashed Floyd, we get to disc 2, where he busts out Astronomy Domine, Fat Old Sun and oh yes, a 25 minute epic version of Echoes – hearing Gilmour and Wright lay out those vocal harmonies one last time is worth the money right there. And the two trade solos in the extended jam section in the middle of song. The delicate end outro with Wright’s keys and Gilmour’s noodlings is a fitting end to that musical partnership. Sad, but beautiful.

Outside of Echoes, Gilmour changes some of the classics up a bit, preferring to take the verses of Shine On right down to just guitar and vocals, and to rock the hell out of the end of Fat Old Sun, for example. On his solo material and the Floyd he chooses to do, it sounds like Gilmour is far more comfy singing mellow songs like Fat Old Sun over angry stuff like Run Like Hell. The end result is a set that has much more to do with Obscured By Clouds and Meddle than The Wall or Animals.

And that works for me. I have felt in the past that Gilmour has made albums with a conscious effort of trying to sound like Floyd (Momentary Lapse) or just maybe being weighed down by the baggage of the Floyd brand (Division Bell). By stripping this project of the name “Pink Floyd,” he liberated himself, played how he felt, and hey what do you know – it sounds like Floyd! And for Wright’s last recorded appearance, it is a fitting swan song.

This show was recorded at the Gdansk, Poland shipyards, and the band is accompanied by the Baltic Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. I only really hear them in the outstanding A Great Day for Freedom and the obligatory Comfortably Numb, though.

The version I got has an accompanying DVD of most of the live set, which I am eager to watch. There is also a very cool feature where you access Gilmour’s Web site via the DVD and obtain free extra downloads – one every month until September 2009. So far you can get another live version of Shine On and a live version of Wot’s…Uh The Deal from Obscured by Clouds! Hopefully one of the upcoming ones will be Wright’s Wearing the Inside Out, which was played on the tour.

One last comment on Wright. Just this week, Gilmour picked up an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music in London. He dedicated the award to Wright and said, "I'm going to dedicate this, if you don't mind, to my old friend and colleague Richard Wright who died a couple of weeks ago, (and) with whom I had worked for 40-odd years now. That's now come to an end. There's all sorts of music that I will not be able to play again without him. That's a source of sadness for me. He deserves this as much as I do. You could say that he was in the position of second fiddle, slightly behind some of the pushier chaps in the front. But his work was mighty important to our entire careers."


Gavin Harrison - Porcupine Tree's Secret Weapon

Porcupine Tree is one of the most mind-blowing 3rd generation prog-rock bands out there. They have been marrying Tool style rhythmic onslaughts with 70s style Genesis-esque pastiches for well more than a decade and are one of the best bands I have ever seen live.

This is in no small part due to their drummer, Gavin Harrision, who has been behind the kit the last six years. Thanks to my buddy Kevin for pointing me to this YouTube of Gavin playing to some of PT's more complex passages. This guy makes it look so easy but he is like some kind of machine back there. Watch and drool:


Monday, October 06, 2008

You Dig Metal and Melody? Get New Metallica and Disturbed CDs

I like my metal with melody. That is why I preferred Maiden and Priest over pre-Black Album Metallica in the 80s, and why I am not a giant fan of anything to do with rap, death metal or screamo. But there are lots of examples of bands that go super-duper heavy metal while retaining a strong sense of musical and vocal melody. Two new CDs that fall into this category are Indestructible by Disturbed (their fourth album), and the new Metallica album, Death Magnetic.

I don’t know a lot about Disturbed. Just got turned onto them last month but have been digging them enormously. They have the kind of intricate heavy music I like so much (a la Tool, Metallica, Sevendust, etc) but with great vocal melodies and catchy choruses. Kind of the best of both worlds in my book.

The title track (Indestructible) is a great indicator of the rest of this CD. It has a razor tight heavy groove with highly melodic vocals. In general, these guys combine a lot of elements. Razor heavy rock a la Sevendust, rhythmic, almost rap-like vocals, but somehow with loads of great melody and syncopation. This is very singable heavy rock. And it also has a groove to a lot of it, much like the Black Album had. The drummer plays behind the beat instead of on top of it, and when he does that in the speed metal parts, that makes for a very interesting groove.

I may be crazy but I almost sensed a Steve Perry-esque rasp on some of the high notes of the third track, Deceiver and especially the choruses of seventh track, Enough. The Night and Perfect Insanity take a page right out of the Metallica songbook, with complex sections and machine gun syncopation between all instruments. But then they break into totally melodic choruses that could be out of a Nickelback song (in a good way, though), then into a dual guitar solo parts right off of Powerslave. Speaking of, there is also plenty of Middle East touches, from the scales used to some of the background vocals.

The influences are pretty clear – Metallica, Sabbath, 80s metal like Maiden and Priest, and even 90s bands like Sevendust, like I said. But they do make it their own and the influences only serve as a reference point, not a distraction. You probably ought to be a fan of heavy music if you want to check this out, but all in all, the album is full of surprises and is one of the best recommendations I have received in a long time. Thanks to Kevin for this!

Death Magnetic
Then there is the new Metallica album. What can I say that has not already been said in countless blogs, the Rolling Stone cover story, and the fact that the band’s tour is selling out as we speak? Metallica is back to their true form, which is the proggy speed metal of the three albums before the Black Album.

Most of the songs clock in at six, seven, eight minutes, and they don’t stick with one tempo or arrangement for very long. The rat-a-tat speed triplet guitar chug is back in full force right from the get go and the whole band is playing like they are in their 20s again, but maybe all the experience since those days has made the band tighter and more focused. It’s a little like hearing Rush play Natural Science now. It’s the same song, but they play it much different. More maturely and dare I say with even more abandon and power.

From the first song, That Was Just Your Life, you can hear the sound of millions of 40-somethings who grew up on the first three albums in the 80s breath a collective sigh of relief and joy. This is the Metallica we have been waiting to get back to us since the Black Album.

The band hasn’t been in a vacuum all these years either. The songs here and there lean a bit on other bands that influenced Metallica in the first place or came along since. For example, the second song, The End of The Line, starts out like Pearl Jam’s Evenflow’s distant cousin. But of course it doesn’t stay there for more an a few seconds before transforming into head spinning speed. Around four minutes into the same song, we get a dual guitar harmony speed churn that sounds like it was snipped from Genghis Kahn off the first Maiden album.

The third tune, Broken Beat & Scarred has the closest thing to a sing-along chorus with the “What don’t kill ya, make ya more strong” refrain. This is my favorite song on the album. It has everything I like in a heavy tune - a great heavy groove, tremendous unison guitar-bass interplay and harmonies, singable sections, weird musical interludes etc. This song is a grand slam.

And on the album goes. I am still dissecting this thing, a month after getting it. Pay special attention to the almost 10 minute instrumental Suicide & Redemption. Epic & crushing!

Reports that the production is sloppy are exaggerated. It is a dense sounding album, but it sounds pretty raw to my ears. The production does not bother me – it’s supposed to be an aural onslaught. It’s Metallica’s fer God’s sake! I only wish you could hear the bass, but that seems to be the complaint around every Metallica album. I have no question that ‘new’ bass played Rob Trujillo is no small part of the band’s return to form. He is a monster. This will be a hell of a live show. In the meantime, get the album.

3rd Time's a Charm - SNL Debate Parody

You can set your watch to the predictability of SNL parodying the debates (although they have this Saturday off, I hear). This one is much longer than the others but no less spot on. Props to Queen Latifa as moderator Gwen Ifill. Enjoy:

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Robert Plant Says No Way to Zeppelin Reunion

Robert Plant issued an official statement on his Web site yesterday, putting to rest the rumors of a Zeppelin reunion for good:

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are currently touring the USA on the last leg of their 'Raising Sand' tour. They played a benefit concert in Oklahoma City for victims of Hurricane Ike last Friday; Austin, Texas last Saturday and tomorrow they play Portland, Oregon before finishing the tour in Saratoga, California on October 5th.

After those dates, Robert has no intention whatsoever of touring with anyone for at least the next two years. Contrary to a spate of recent reports, Robert Plant will not be touring or recording with Led Zeppelin. Anyone buying tickets online to any such event will be buying bogus tickets.

“It‘s both frustrating and ridiculous for this story to continue to
rear its head when all the musicians that surround the story are keen to get on with their individual projects and move forward,” Robert Plant said.

“I wish Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham nothing but success with any future projects,” he added.

I guess it makes sense. Interviews on Eddie Trunk and other programs have talked about while Plant for sure pulled off the one-off reunion vocally, making a lengthy go at it on the road would have been very challenging. Let's just hope Page, Jones and Jason Bonham don't make some boner decision like hiring David Coverdale for their new project!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jon Anderson Not Consulted Regarding His Replacement

In the "Oops I thought YOU were going to call the lead singer" department, Yes' Jon Anderson flamed his bandmates for deciding to go on the road with a replacement singer without even talking to him first.

On his Web site, Jon posts:

Not Yes

Disappointed, and very Disrespected

Disappointed that, with the exception of one phone call from Alan, none of the guys have been in touch since my illness, just to find out how I am doing, and how we will foresee the future for YES. And disappointed that they were not willing to wait till 2009 when I’m fully recovered.

And I feel very disrespected, having spent most of this year creating songs and constant ideas for the band, spending time with Roger Dean creating a stage design, also working with VH1 and Sirius and XM Radio to help promote the welfare of YES.

Getting sick was not "on my radar”, and I thank my own angel Janeee and my family for helping me through this difficult time, and the many well wishers, friends and fans alike, for understanding that ''things happen''.

Of course I wish the guys all the best in their 'solo' work, but I just wish this could have been done in a more gentlemanly fashion. After all YES is a precious musical band.

This is not YES on tour...

I send best wishes to one and all,

Jon Anderson
September 2008

The Magic Of Video Editing Software

The almighty mix of high-end video editing software and people with waaaaay too much time on their hands has brought you the following two videos.

The first video is just plain funny. Gangsta rap to Bert and Ernie. The second is actually a really creative splicing of an Avril Lavigne video into a prog rock tune by Porcupine Tree. Very clev-ah! Enjoy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Rush Hashanah

Always at the forefront of truly bizarre promotional ideas, VH1Classic is celebrating the start of Jewish holidayRosh Hashanah, which begins at sundown today, with a 24 hour fest of Rush programming, called Rush Hashanah.

From RushIsABand: Beginning tonight at sunset and running for the next 24 hours VH1 Classic will play Rush concert videos, music videos and interviews. Here's the complete schedule:

Monday 9/29
-7-10pm: VH1 Classic in Concert- Rush, Rush in Rio
-10-10:30pm: Hangin' With Rush
-10:30pm-1:30am: VH1 Classic in Concert- Rush, R30
-1:30-2:30am: Rush Videos
-2:30-3am: Hangin' With Rush
-3-6am: VH1 Classic in Concert- Rush, Rush in Rio

Tuesday 9/30
-6-7am: Rush Videos
-7-10am: VH1 Classic in Concert- Rush, R30
-10-11am: Rush Videos
-11-11:30am: Hangin' With Rush
-11:30-2:30pm: VH1 Classic in Concert- Rush, Rush in Rio
-2:30-3:30pm: Rush Videos
-3:30-4pm: Hangin' With Rush
-4-7pm: VH1 Classic in Concert- Rush, R30

And here is the promo the channel has been running. Happy Rush Hashanah!

Chris Squire Joins Foo Fighters In Vegas

Add members of Yes to the long list of rockers who have jammed in the last year or so with the Foo Fighters.

For those of you with short memories, that list includes Brian May and Roger Taylor from Queen, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee from Rush, and Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones (Zeppelin, if you didn't know that. Ha ha). Geez - what it is with the Foos? They have rock star magnets all over them.

Anyway, I guess ole Fishy joined the Foos over the weekend in Vegas to jam on the Foo song "Cold Day In The Sun" at the Hard Rock Las Vegas. Maybe Squire was auditioning drummers or something.

Thanks to MSTai for the tip, as she was there in person! Of course somebody posted a video of the event on YouTube:

SNL Does It Again

Tina Fey came back to SNL again this weekend to take on the role of Sarah Palin. Not quite as hilarious as her first appearance, but it beats working!

Can't wait for next weekend after the VP debate. I think they will have a number of soundbites to parody, from both sides.

This will get your day off to a fun start:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

These Guitars Have Balls...Well, Some of Them Do

You need a little something extra for your axe slinging? Tired of that same old boring Les Paul or Strat guitar design? Why stick with these dull tools when you could augment your shredding by playing guitars shaped like machine guns, axes, naked women or dicks.

Without further ado, here are ten guitars designed to bring out the man in your playing! Thanks to my buddy Dave for the ref.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Get Ready for the Neil Cam!

News from the Rush camp this week centered around the upcoming live DVD from the band's most recent tour. The 3-DVD set has the complete concert set list from the tour, plus a nice load of extras.

The official news release says:

While previous DVD releases showcase different sides of the band , this DVD offers fans a rare and close up look at the prodigious musicianship for which the band is renown. Cameras follow bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart, closely, capturing not only their playing, note for note, but also the intimacy they share on stage. The diverse track list includes many new songs from Snakes & Arrows as well as old favorites like "Tom Sawyer" and "Freewill" plus an explosive rendition of "Between the Wheels." Among the hidden gems and numerous special tour moments included as extras is the fan coveted "What's That Smell" vignette and outakes, a skit used to intro the second set, which capitalizes on the still emerging comedic talents of both Alex and Geddy who excel (and revel) in their roles as wild characters. Featuring collector's quality packaging and a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound or PCM Stereo for a superior audio experience, the DVD was mixed by frequent collaborator Richard Chycki (Aerosmith, Mick Jagger). Total running time is 221 minutes.

This one will be on my Christmas wish list for sure. It's comes out November 25 in the States.

Here are the deets:

Disc 1:
1. Limelight
2. Digital Man
3. Entre Nous
4. Mission
5. Freewill
6. The Main Monkey Business
7. The Larger Bowl
8. Secret Touch
9. Circumstances
10. Between the Wheels
11. Dreamline

1. What's That Smell (DVD Content)
2. 2007 Tour Outtakes
3. What's That Smell Outtakes
4. Far Cry (Alternate cut featuring rear screen footage)
5. The Way the Wind Blows (Alternate cut featuring rear screen footage)
6. Red Sector A from the R30 Tour

Disc 2:
1. Far Cry
2. Workin' Them Angels
3. Armor and Sword
4. Spindrift
5. The Way the Wind Blows
6. Subdivisions
7. Natural Science
8. Witch Hunt
9. Malignant Narcissism - De Slagwerker
10. Hope
11. Distant Early Warning
12. The Spirit of Radio
13. Tom Sawyer

14. One Little Victory
15. A Passage to Bangkok
16. YYZ

Disc 3:
Oh, Atlanta - The Authorized Bootlegs
1. Ghost of a Chance
2. Red Barchetta
3. The Trees
4. 2112/The Temples of Syrinx

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gene Simmons Does Some Good

As I was flying back to Portland from the Bay Area Thursday night, apparently Gene Simmons and faux-Ace Frehley Tommy Thayer were in Lake Oswego, Oregon hosting an auction to benefit Jeff Young, a great guy and one of the longest living survivors of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Jeff is a miracle. The guy outlived the medical community's predictions of his demise in the mid 80s and is still going strong, mainly due to brute force and one of the strongest wills I have ever observed.

The guy is confined to a wheelchair and can barely move, yet somehow he helps coach the Lake Oswego High School football team and puts out several inspirational emails a week to more than 3,000 "warriors," myself included. Find out more about Jeff here.

Anyway, periodically Jeff is in need of gear to help him do what he does, but needs the funds. His longstanding friendship with Simmons leads to auctions and events to help raise the dough.

Simmons said: "This is proof positive that Portland isn't just a nice place to live in, but it actually has nice people. Everybody here has come with big fat wallets full of cash and we're going to relieve them of all that money and actually do some good."

Various typical mean spirited comments on Blabbermouth aside (my favorite is "cool to see this...instead of Gene selling coffins..."), good for Gene and Tommy. Jeff's a great guy and inspires a lot of people around here. It's nice he gets some recognition and what he needs to carry on.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pink Floyd's Richard Wright Passes at 65

Pink Floyd keyboardist and co-founder Richard Wright died today at age 65 from cancer.

From the band’s start, to The Wall album, Wright was a crucial, important member of Pink Floyd.

He brought an easy jazzy piano style to the band’s music, but also added fantastic wicked Hammond organ playing and spacey synths and effects. He was also as much a part of the minimalistic style of the band’s arrangements as anyone. He knew that the space between the notes was as important as the notes themselves.

To me, Wright’s greatest Floyd moments are The Great Gig In The Sky, Us and Them and most of Shine On You Crazy Diamond (all of the parts, especially the last few minutes of the album).

But let’s not forget his voice. Wright provided backing vocals on much of Floyd’s music, up to Wish You Were Here. Then it was more of the Gilmour/Waters show. But his harmony work on Echoes from 1971's Meddle is classic Floyd and is a great example of how fragile and dreamy his voice was. You got the sense that he wasn’t very comfortable singing, yet he was probably the best singer in the group until Gilmour and Waters got more dominant post 1975

My take is that Wright provided as much of Floyd’s sound as Gilmour’s guitar and Waters' lyrics – at least up to the Animals album, where he seemed to lose interest, not contributing any new music until the 90s.

Of course this can be as equally attributed to Waters, who slowly squeezed Wright and then Gilmour out of the band by doing all the writing and then all of the singing. When Floyd came back without Waters in 1987, Gilmour involved Wright late in the project and he is barely on A Momentary Lapse of Reason – though I saw him on the tour and he was very involved live.

But by The Division Bell, Wright was back in the fold, contributing some really nice instrumentals and a song called Wearing the Inside Out. He also put out a final solo album (Broken China) that included the song Breakthrough, which he sang on Gilmour’s solo live DVD David Gilmour in Concert (below).

While he wasn’t as vibrant and prolific after 1975, he made a huge impact in the use of keyboards in prog rock. While Keith Emerson, Jon Lord and Rick Wakeman played circles around each other in the 70s, Wright was content to play for the song, and that is tougher than it sounds.

I was really glad when Waters buried the hatchet long enough for the band to reunite at Live8 a couple of years ago. They didn't show him much, but when Wright was on camera at the end solo of Comfortably Numb, he was standing up, rocking the shit out of his organ part. Once again adding crucial textures to Floyd's music.

Now I am really glad that reunion happened because along with the Beatles and The Who, death has robbed us of another reunion of one of the biggest bands in history. As recently as last week, Gilmour was saying he was done with Floyd for good, but now that door is shut for sure.

Weird thing is, when I put my iPod on random shuffle just now, Floyd’s Let There Be More Light came on. One song out of almost 15,000. Spooky.

The photo is from the LA Times. Below are two nice videos. Enjoy:

Breakthrough (from David Gilmour in Concert)

Echoes Part One (from Live at Pompeii)

SNL Hits A Good One

Saturday Night Live is always hit and miss. But sometimes they do a good job of presenting what is on everyone's minds, but with tongue firmly in cheek. Especially this clip from Saturday's premiere. This and a lot of their political satire works because they don't really take sides. They just swing at pretty much everyone.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Check Out The Frames

The handful of folks who have followed this blog for more than a year know that I was one of the many who fell for the move Once. I was stoked when Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won the very well-deserved Oscar for best song, and the duo's Portland show was one of the most intimate 'big' shows I had seen in a long time.

My friend Mark recently burned me some CDs of Hansard's pre-Once band, The Frames. I thought it would be mostly rocked up versions in the style of his Once tunes. I was shocked then to hear how rocking and dare I say progressive some of the music was. Dig these vids:


Revelate (anyone who liked the electric violin on Rush's Losing It as much as I did will dig this one. But the video doesn't to do the song justice. Check it on iTunes)

Fish-Era Marillion Live Box Set Coming

For fans of prog-rock, one of the most under-appreciated bands from the 80s has got to be Marillion. The band was kind of a combo of Genesis and Floyd but they certainly had their own style. The band's first four studio albums were with singer Derek Dick, or as he is better known, Fish.

Fish's lyrics were Roger Waters meets Jim Morrison. Kind of psycho, very introspective and poetic. The third and fourth albums, Misplaced Childhood and Clutching and Straws, are my favorites. I felt that the band hit their stride on these albums and they are both for lack of a better word concept albums.

Fish split with the band over artistic and management issues after Clutching, but went on to a pretty cult-status solo career. Meaning, not commercially successful but artistically very successful. His latest album, 13th Star, is said by fans and critics to be his best yet.

Marillion also carried on with a new singer, Steve Hogarth, and have put out 11 more albums and counting!

But now, finally, there is a record label interested in giving us all a glimpse into why the band was so compelling in the first place - its live work with Fish in the 80s.

Marillion: "The Early Stages" - Official Bootleg Box Set 1982-1987 is due to be released this November, just in time for Christmas. The six CDs are all live shows spanning the Fish years. More info can be found here.

To give you a small snapshot, here is a video of the band doing Bitter Suite from Misplaced Childhood in the mid 80s. Dig Fish's Jim Morrison-esque poetic ramblings at about 1:50 minutes in. Also love the Steve Hackett meets David Gilmour guitar work at about 3:30...