Friday, February 29, 2008

Random KISS Update

Whether you want it or not, it's time for a roundup of what the original members of KISS have been up to:

Paul Stanley is reportedly having a penthouse suite built atop Palms Place in Vegas, fueling rumors that he is in talks with Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular, the Vegas version of Phantom of the Opera. Stanley had a great run playing the Phantom in the Toronto production in 1999. Him posting the rumor on his own Web site is not doing anything to squash the buzz.

Ace Frehley, as we know, is on tour. But now his forthcoming CD has a name - "Pain in the Neck." Seems that the CD has a guest lead from Slash. And Ace is trying to cop the success of his original solo release from 1978 (all four KISS solo albums were issued on my 10th birthday in 1978 - how cool is that?). Ace says, "I've been listening to my first solo album with KISS, because everybody says that's their favorite record. I was trying to figure out what made it so special, so I'm trying to incorporate a lot of what that record had for this new CD. It has a lot of different aspects and shows different musical sides of me and it's something I'm trying to recapture. I don't know if I can do it but I'm gonna take a shot at it." Good luck, Ace. That first album rules.

Gene Simmons is still a scumbag. While the furor over his sex tape is dying down, he made the following comment on his site: "You should know for the record, the garbage was recorded without my knowledge and is a page from my past. It happened and there's nothing I can do to repair that. The black-and-white footage may have been decades old. The entity behind the garbage has repeatedly tried to make money off of this and we have always refused. This is not the first time the entity has tried to blackmail and extort us. We have always refused and we will continue to refuse." First of all, look at Gene in the tape. It is not 'decades old.' Secondly, I feel really bad for him (not). It's not like he didn't hump this chick in the first place. Really hard to feel any pity for old Gene here.

And Peter Criss? Well, he pretty much still sucks ass.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Floydian Slips Soundcheck Jam

Many of you know that I am in a Pink Floyd tribute band called The Floydian Slips. You can check out videos I have posted, etc, here.

I thought I would share this little gem today. It came up on my iPod today and I think it's neat. It's a very random jam we had during soundcheck at the Cuthbert Amphitheatre in Eugene, Oregon last August.

It's based around Shine On You Crazy Diamond but there are some other things thrown in the mix, and I love Uncle Reeotch's Bono impression in the beginning. Thought you all would enjoy it. Download the jam here:

Oh, and we just confirmed for August 16 this year at the Cuthbert, for any of you located in the Northwest. More info TBA.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Buddy Miles Passes Away

I don't know a lot about Buddy Miles except he was in the Band of Gypsies with Hendrix and provided the voice for those annoying California Raisins ads in the 80s. He passed away today at age 60. More info here.

Buddy rips it up in the below partial vid (and so does Stephen Stills - my word).

Hard Rock Royalty on Tour - Maiden, UFO, Ace Frehley

Between the quiet noodlings of The Swell Season and Mark Knopfler, the Northwest will greet some hard rockers who are doing rare tours this year. Check it:

Iron Maiden
I have seen them seven times. Why not eight? Especially as this tour is called the "Somewhere Back In Time" tour, as the band is dusting off their huge stage set from the 1984-85 Powerslave tour and are only playing songs from the first six albums. This will indeed be a step back 22 years in time for me. I saw them at Ozzfest a couple of years ago and they were still as great as I remembered from the 80s.

They followed Ozzfest with a concept album called A Matter of Life and Death and on that tour, did the whole 75 minute album end-to-end, pissing off many fans that wanted to hear the old hits. Good for Maiden! Oh, and to offset the cost of trucking all that gear around this year, the band had an airplane outfitted to carry band AND gear and guess who is flying it? Lead singer/pilot Bruce Dickinson. The band plays June 2 at the White River Amphitheater, outside of Seattle. It is their only Northwest stop. I will be there.

Ace Frehley
Hot off of his Dunkin Donuts TV campaign, Ace has been working hard at finishing his CD and staying sober. Ah, Ace's CD. I have been hearing about this so long, I am not sure which one has been longer in the making - Ace's album or Chinese Democracy. Ace doesn't even have his own Web site but I have been hearing "it's almost done" for years now.

Still, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Ace is back on the road, after very successful Halloween and New Years Eve gigs in the New York/Jersey area. This tour is not just a few gigs on the road - it's a full on club tour that kicked off last Wednesday. I have always been a big Ace fan and when he left KISS (I was 12), my interest in that band was over. I have a soft spot for the guy, as he is the reason I took up the guitar way back when. And the set list for this tour is smoking. The closest he gets to Portland, however, is Spokane or Vancouver BC. (Typically weird for Ace. Why Spokane?) Anyway, I may miss this due to the six to seven hour drive I would have to endure each way.

I don't have a lot to say about this one except that my wife and I saw UFO a few years ago at the Hard Rock in Chicago and they were fantastic. On that tour, they had Jason Bonham on drums and a different bass player, as Pete Way was not able to get into the country. Looks like that is close to getting smoothed out for this tour, and they are again with original drummer Andy Parker. So with the exception of Michael Schenker, they are touring with the classic lineup: Phil Mogg, Vinnie Moore, Paul Raymond, Pete Way, Andy Parker. The show I saw in Chicago was notable because I had no idea how many truly great songs UFO put out. It was one after the other and we had a blast. This show comes May 8 to the Aladdin Theater in Portland, which dramatically increases the odds that I will go.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Johnny Cash - and Book Review

Today would have been Johnny Cash’s 76th birthday had he not passed away in September 2003. I just finished his autobiography, called Cash: The Autobiography, and it's pretty good.

The book is organized mostly chronologically and in short chapters, so it's easy to read on the fly. Not being a giant fan of country music, I found myself glossing over the parts that talked in detail about certain tours or musicians he played with.

But the rest was pretty fascinating. The account of his childhood in the cotton fields is a piece of American history. He writes about it so vividly, I felt transported back into time into the deep South where the struggles of the farmers were real and raw.

If you have seen the movie Walk The Line, you are familiar with Cash's relationship with June Carter and also his long history of substance abuse. Cash goes into detail about the latter in the book and certainly struggled to get straight for most of his life. There are some wild stories in these pages!

Cash is also a religious man, something weaved throughout the book, from his love of old gospel music to his daily affirmations and love of religious history and interpretation.

Sadly, since the book came out in 1997, it ends before his 90s comeback is in full swing. Funnily enough, that is the Johnny Cash I came to know and appreciate. The old guy doing "Deliah's Gone," "Hurt" and "The Man Comes Around."

This is his work with Rick Rubin and some of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and I have all five of the CDs he did on Rubin's American Recordings label. While I wouldn't say they rock, they are fantastic. I can't think of anyone else who, in their late 60s and early 70s, had such a prolific run of great music at the end of their career.

Anyway, the book is good. Much like with Miles Davis' biography, I didn't need to love the man's music to appreciate his story. And now I have a whole career's worth of music to go back through and discover.

Here are two facets of that career for us to dig on his 76nd birthday: The video for his version of Trent Reznor's "Hurt," which I defy anyone to watch all the way through and not tear up at least a little, and a video from Cash's middle years.


San Quentin

Monday, February 25, 2008

New Heaven and Hell Project Announced

From Ronnie James Dio's Web site:

If you've been wondering what Ronnie is up to, wonder, no longer: After taking some well-deserved time off after last year's monster Heaven and Hell world tour, Ronnie will be heading off to the UK in March to begin writing the new Heaven and Hell record with the guys. Tony Iommi will then travel to LA to reunite with Ronnie, Geezer and Vinny to continue working on the record during April and May.

This is great news. The H&H show was one of the highlights of all the gigs I saw last year and the DVD and CD from the tour are mind blowing, if you like Dio era Black Sabbath. Reviews of the show and DVD here and here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hansard and Irglova Win the Oscar (and The Police)

Unlike the Grammys, where all of my top choices LOST, the only category I was paying attention to in this year's Academy Awards went to the folks I wanted to win - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova for "Falling Slowly " from the movie Once in the Best Song category. Cool. I've posted about them and their movie a few times, here, here and here.

Hansard said, "We made this film two years ago, we shot it on two handy-cams, it took us three weeks to make, we made it for 100 grand and we never thought we'd come into a room like this and be in front of you people... This is amazing."

Sometimes the good guys win! Right on.

Here is the vid of them doing the song, and below that the speech:

But I am not watching the Oscars right now. I have VH1 Classic on and am watching The Police play a concert for the BBC that was filmed the week before they went to America for the first time. This was the tour where they would play to three people at a crappy club, get in the van and hear Roxanne on the radio. They were young and hungry and so they are rocking the hell out of this show.

Needless to say, they were on the map by the end of that first US tour. On the VH1 Classic concert, they just got through Message In A Bottle, which hadn't been released when this thing was filmed. That second album, Regatta de Blanc, may be my favorite Police album.

Anyway, I bring all of this up because I got tickets to The Police at the Clark County Amphitheater yesterday. Rather, my buddy Pat got them for me, using my Ticketbastard account because I was at my kid's basketball game when they went on sale. (Pat, if I see a bunch of UFO tickets billed to my account I will know you did not delete my password!)

Looking to be a great summer of live music for me. Got tickets for Rush, Mark Knoplfer and now the Police with Elvis Costello opening. Sweet!

Friday, February 22, 2008

In Remembrance - Carl Anderson

Four years ago tomorrow (February 23), Carl Anderson passed away. He was best known for his role as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.

I caught him and Ted Neeley (as Jesus) on the JCS 25th anniversary tour and, wow was that good. It was very cool to see these same guys from the 1973 movie belting it out like no one's business.

Most of us have seen the movie. But check out Carl laying down the theme song on The Tonight Show with the glitzy dancers and costumes from the play. I think this was in the early 90s but I could be off a bit.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Heart of the Moment

Carl Palmer, drummer extraordinaire from Asia "had a successful heart operation carried out at an undisclosed hospital," according to a press release found at the Asia Web site yesterday.

The release continues that "Palmer, 57, had an angioplasty procedure done which is designed to prevent further narrowing of an artery in his heart by insertion of a stent."

"This was a precautionary measure done to ensure my safety. In my case, it was as a result of a hereditary factor, and the physicians involved wanted to make sure every precaution was taken. I am very grateful for their medical expertise and care," said Palmer.

Lots of people have this done. What's weird is that Asia's John Wetton had emergency open heart surgery last August.

Note how Palmer makes the distinction that the cause of his operation was 'hereditary' and not due to years of substance abuse and poor eating (Wetton).

Anyway, if I were Steve Howe or Geoff Downes, I'd be signing up for the full body scan/cavity probe to make sure I wasn't next in the ole Asia "Heart of the Moment" club.

What the hell? Maybe they ought to name the upcoming Asia album "Aorta."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gene Simmons Sex Tape - D'oh!

This is just too much. I mean, wouldn't you expect that this guy would have a twenty volume DVD collection of sex tapes out? But I guess this is the first one. News here.

The most classic part of this so far is that in his comments on his Web site, he doesn't deny that it's him. He just says that his lawyers are doing what they need to do. Probably because he's not making any money off of it, and that is bad in Gene's world! His comment:

Hi everyone. You may have heard or seen garbage that has sprung up from my past. Rest assured the proper legal team is looking at all ramifications and options. And us? Shannon, Nick and Soph are happy and healthy. All is well. And thank you all for the kind words of support.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Open Letter to Michael Anthony

This one has been sitting in the vault for a while. And since I haven't made a Van Halen post in a long while, I thought I would dig it out.

It's a very funny "open letter to Michael Anthony" from the editors of SPIN Magazine. Read the whole thing here. But here is a teaser:

Look, there's something undeniably poignant about watching a chubby-cheeked teenager get to share the stage with his pops and his uncle and that weird guy everyone's bitched about at the dinner table his whole life, but how is it that a 16-year-old novice is the most ambivalent -- and sure, I'll say it, most out-of-shape -- guy on a stage full of fiftysomething jillionaires? This kid just won the rock 'n' roll lottery, shouldn't he be doing...something? Mike, you would have been all over that catwalk, stomping, mugging, punishing that Jack Daniels bass. Wolfgang mostly just stood there in his hoodie, nodding his head, barely even deigning to smile. During "Romeo Delight" from Women and Children First -- I'm not afraid to say I had to look it up, it's been a while -- the enormotron showed Wolfgang finger-tapping the fretboard of his bass. Where do you think he learned that? (Hint: Not from you.) And come to think of it, shouldn't he be in school or something? Did he just hand a note to his principal?

To Whom It May Concern,
My son Wolfgang won't be attending school this year because he's in fucking Van Halen now.
Suck it,
Eddie Van Halen

True dat - double true!

Destroy The Earth With This RIA

Last week The Discovery Channel launched a very cool rich Internet application (whiz-bang Web site) called Earth Live that lets you play around with a 3D model of the Earth and unleash all sorts of havoc to see what happens when you do. One article gave these details:

Drawing on data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the new site and widget allow users to see nearly real-time satellite data of the globe's cloud cover, water vapor, and sea surface temperatures. Discovery and developer partner EffectiveUI have combined these elements to create "stories" around events like Katrina, La Nina, and a year in the life of the earth's biosphere. Users can also remix the elements of the biosphere into custom world views. All views can be added to web pages and Facebook as widgets.

Sadly, you can't unleash an attack by aliens. It's all weather-related. But it's very cool and may give you all something to do for a few minutes instead of actual WORK.

For more background, see this Computerworld story.

Check out the Earth Live site here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Book Review – Traveling Music by Neil Peart

When presented with a week and a half off from family responsibilities and with no other plans in the hopper, Neil Peart decides to take a road trip – by car this time – and packs up a slew of CDs he plans on spinning while on the road.

At some point in this journey, the forever journaling drummer and traveler decides he could probably squeeze a book out of the trip, mainly documenting his travels and reflecting on the music he cranks along the way.
In this way, we get to be passengers as Neil drives from his Los Angeles home to southwest Texas and back, the end goal being a visit to Big Bend National Park, where he had quickly passed through some years earlier on motorcycle and always wanted to return.

We hear Neil reflect on his love of everything from Sinatra to Madonna. We hear about his appreciation of Coldplay, Jeff Buckley, Porcupine Tree, Dido and Radiohead. And 98 degrees. Yes you read that right. We also hear about his disdain for Rolling Stone magazine.

And as side stories, we hear how he became friends with Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon, who was trying to appease his record company by writing a follow up to Everything You Want, and how Neil helped him try and figure out if ought to do that or just follow his heart.

Alternating with chapters about his journey and all of these reflections, Neil writes about his childhood and his early love of the drums, moving into how he tried to make it in music in London, moved back to Canada disgruntled, and then hooked up with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson to begin his career in Rush. We get insight into why he is so guarded with his private life, and we hear nuggets such as, if he could wipe all of his work with Rush off the face of the earth pre-1980 (Permanent Waves), he would.

For any Rush fan, just these parts of the book are worth the read. It’s basically an autobiography of his years in Rush.

For an intensely private person, Neil slowly is peeling back the layers of his story in his books.

This book is a great continuation from Ghost Story: Travels on the Healing Road, which chronicled his healing after losing his wife and daughter. I reviewed that book here.

Now we see a re-married and happy Neil reflecting back on his formative years, as he also carves out a new journey. There is another book, called Roadshow, that Neil put out after this one. It’s on my reading list!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tom Scholz to Huckabee - Back Off!

So, I am not really following the primaries/caucuses too much, although I am liking what I am seeing on the Donkey side.

But this caught my eye. Apparently, right-leaning Republican candidate Mike Huckabee has been using some rock songs at his rallies. One of these is Boston's More Than A Feeling. And former Boston guitar player Barry Goudreau has been showing up, showing his support.

All of this is pissing off Boston founder Tom Scholz, who is about as 'left' as it gets. In this AP story, Sholtz says:

"Boston has never endorsed a political candidate, and with all due respect, would not start by endorsing a candidate who is the polar opposite of most everything Boston stands for," wrote Scholz, adding that he is supporting Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. "By using my song, and my band's name Boston, you have taken something of mine and used it to promote ideas to which I am opposed. In other words, I think I've been ripped off, dude!"

"Whenever a campaign publicly exploits a well-known song, there is some inference of support" by the band or artist, he added. He recommends that Huckabee "stick to music recorded by far-right Republicans."

Check out the whole AP story for more deets.

And, wait a minute, did I get it right that Huckabee plays bass (see photo)? I wonder if he's any good? He kinda looks like Gene Simmons, but with less makeup and probably a shorter tongue.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Return of The Police

Got an email today stating that The Police are making one last run through North America this summer before their big reunion tour ends.

You may recall that I saw one of the very first shows of the tour in Seattle and wrote a pretty glowing review here. Upon reflection, and upon listening to a bootleg of that very show, I realize I was far too generous.

While I still stand by my contention that their vast re-working of the songs is a good thing, they were pretty rusty when I saw them, and were still obviously working the kinks out of the arrangements.

Well, they will be playing here in Portland on Friday July 11 and I am planning on going, so I can do a bit of a before-and-after observation. They must be smoking now, after being on the road for nine months straight since I saw them.

Pre-sales go on sale Tuesday. The details and full list of shows are here.

Oh, and they are touring this last leg with Elvis Costello, which will be a pretty sweet bonus. I have never seen him live but always thought he was great.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rush and Rush on Colbert Report

As found on the Rush Is A Band blog, the source for all things Rush, here is a hilarious appearance of Rush on the Colbert Report, where they accidentally mix up the band with Rush Limbaugh. Below is the whole clip but the Rush bit starts just after two minutes.

And related to my Grammy posts, he even throws in a little plug for Herbie Hancock around 4:45 into the video.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different - The Oscars

OK, with The Grammys behind us, now is as good a time as any to put in a plug for the only Oscar nomination I am going to bother to track this year. I blogged twice about this before - the movie Once, and a live performance I saw by the two main actors, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

The song Falling Slowly from the movie Once is up for Best Original Song and they better win it, because, well, they deserve it! It is not only a great song but the scene of Hansard teaching Irglova how the song goes in the music store is one of the best parts of the movie.

And I also hear they will be performing the song at the ceremonies, which means they will probably win it. They never seem to have the artist perform at these shows if they are not going to win. Just a peanut gallery observation not based on any type of actual fact! Good luck to them on the 24th.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Herbie Hancock Wins Best Album

The Grammys rolled out pretty much as expected last night, with the exception of Album of the Year, which went to Herbie Hancock, which ought to make Harmolodic excited!

Hancock was as shocked as anyone, saying, "I'd like to thank the academy for courageously breaking the mold this time. This is a new day, that proves that the impossible can be made possible. Yes we can, to coin a phrase."

Newsweek published a pretty good/funny overview of the whole show here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Grammy Snubs - Are We Surprised?

It should not come as a shock that a number of Grammy-nominated bands talked about on this blog have all been snubbed in tonight's awards festivities.

That list includes Porcupine Tree, Heaven and Hell, and Tool.

And of course, Rush lost their 5th nomination for best Best Rock Instrumental Performance. To who? Well, Bruce Springsteen of course. He plays circles around Rush! Fucking Grammy wankers.

To see the whole list, dig it here.

Stones Movie and New Links

This might be old news to some of you but last week I stumbled onto the trailer for a new Rolling Stones movie called Shine A Light, coming soon.

Looks like it might be pretty good, but I dunno. Right now I am a bit sick of The Stones. After reading the Ronnie Wood book, I wanted to go back and check out some Stones music I had not heard a million times and landed on Emotional Rescue. It has some good stuff on it but doesn't really hold up to the ones that bookended it - Some Girls and Tattoo You.

I also added some new links to the Isorski blogroll. Thanks to some of my new frequent commenters, for turning me on to your cool blogs. Great stuff!

For a much higher quality, widescreen version, go the official movie site here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Gene Simmons Mouths Off (Again)

This is always a hot button on Isorski's Musings: KISS Bass player and reality TV/apprentice/business mogel/womanizer Gene Simmons mouthing off about the music business.

Maybe it's because he's rich, or because he's trying to be controversial, but he's one of the few who sticks up for the music industry while everyone else says its getting its just desserts.

I put it you - what do you think of Gene's quote?

A recent interview, excerpted at Eddie Trunk's site, lays it down:

And what about the people who download music illegally?:"They're crooks. I would have sued the very first one and the very last one. As soon as you take somebody's property, that's stealing. People say to me 'You're rich, you have enough money.' It's actually not for anyone to decide that. I'll let you know when I'm too rich. The last time I checked, what we do isn't called charity, it's called the music business.

Here we are today with exactly what I said would happen happening. The very same people that love the music the most have slit its throat and they're surprised it's dying. 'How come my new band can't get a shot?' 'Cos you killed it, bitch.' Every day college kids who probably love music more than anybody are the same people slashing the record industry's throat by file sharing and downloading. It's the saddest thing for new bands. Doesn't affect me or KISS. We can continue to play stadiums and do very well, and we release DVDs. But there isn't a chance for a new band to become the next Beatles or KISS because there isn't the infrastructure to do it."

The Grammys Stink

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I generally don't like the awards shows - Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, VMAs etc.

There are lots of reasons, but one of the biggest is that it's rare when artists I feel are truly deserving are even nominated, much less do they ever win.

Then I see the latest big winners go through their choreographed dance steps while lip syncing their latest lite beer commercial (thanks to Tom Petty for THAT line) and it just makes me angry and then I have to scream at the TV and things go downhill from there.

This year the big question isn't who is going to win but who is going to be able to get sprung from jail or rehab to pick up their awards. Yawn. Please give some more deserving artists the kudos, please. Oh well, the whole music industry is going to hell and this fraternal glad-handling is part of the reason. Whatever.

My buddy from the Floydian Slips sent me this really funny overview of why The Grammys are so wrong. It's classic! Give it a read here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Lennon's OTHER Supergroup

Ok I swear after this one, I am done with The Beatles for a while.

But I just had to post this. From one of my new readers, 1938 Music, comes this absolute gem that I had never heard a thing about until two days ago. Seems that Ono, McCartney, Harrison and Starr were not the only ones to take a Lennon vocal and build a whole song around it, a la The Beatles Anthology songs Free As A Bird and Real Love.

One half of Cheap Trick and bassist Tony Levin got together in the late 90s to put out this kick ass little rave up of Lennon's I'm Losing You.

I dug Cheap Trick as a kid and still think they rock, and what can you say about Tony Levin? His work with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel alone rank him up at the top, top of my bass player list of greats.

These guys are a really weird combo, much less adding John flipping Lennon to the mix. But somehow, it works!


Update: I guess this song, with this lineup, was recorded during the Milk and Honey sessions and came out on Lennon's Anthology set, which I own. D'uh! The liner notes credit Cheap Trick's Tom Peterssen on bass, but it's Levin for sure. The video, however, is indeed from the late 90s. I mean, look at Rick Nielsen's crazy goatee! Thanks to Bob K and Don Capone for straightening me out!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Beatles Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Dies

Not to turn this into a Beatles blog, but this bears some mention. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the transcendental meditation guru that was widely popularized by The Beatles in 1968, has died at age 91.

After the amazingly successful Sgt Pepper album, The Beatles were self admittedly at somewhat of a loss. After catching the Maharishi at a seminar, they decided to join him in India for lessons on meditation, although Ringo left quickly because the food was too spicy.

The band wrote many of the songs that appear on the White Album while chilling out at Maharishi's compound. You hear how relaxed some of that music is - Long Long Long, Mother Nature's Son, Julia, I Will, Dear Prudence, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. They wrote some good stuff out there, which is why I wanted to pop up a quick post about this.

For stories about the Maharishi and his passing, check Wikipedia, and CNN.

DVD Review - Help!

Being the good rock and roll dad I am, I have exposed my kids to the classics, as appropriate (KISS, Maiden, The Stones – you get it).

In terms of The Beatles, which is easy listening for everyone, they have heard most of the bands’ repertoire in the car and at home, and even own some of their own CDs.

We got Yellow Submarine when it was re-issued on DVD a few years ago, and a recent fave has been A Hard Day’s Night. I thought that the movie they would really enjoy was Help! But as hard as I tried, I could not find it on DVD. It was crazy to me that it hadn’t been released, but lo and behold, the only copies available were crappy bootlegs.

But now it has finally been reissued, all cleaned up and with a bonus disc. And it has become an instant favorite of the boys. They actually agree on wanting to watch it, which is a small miracle over here.

I had not seen the movie in many years. It used to run on TV about once a year when I was a kid (like The Wizard of Oz and Jesus Christ Superstar), but since then it’s been tough to find a showing.

The movie itself looks fantastic. They did a bang up job cleaning up the original, but more on that later.

The plot is actually pretty bogus. You can see how The Monkees’ managers based that whole band and television series on this movie. There are a couple of very Monty Python-esque moments too, years before MP was around.

The shots of the band miming the songs are pretty cool, though, and I remember the in-studio version of “You’re Gonna to Lose That Girl” from when I was a kid. It hasn’t lost its magic. It’s a great clip.

The bonus disc is a nice addition. You have interviews with the director, Dick Lester, and many of the actors, who fondly reminisce about making the film. No big surprises unless you didn’t already know that the band couldn’t remember its lines, never for a second thought they were real actors, and smoked truckloads of weed while making the movie.

The Beatles are still having a lot of fun in this period, obviously. They are a bit past the moptop stage and are about to get into the Rubber SoulRevolver era, which is my favorite. It’s fun to see them on the cusp of that.

The other great piece of bonus material is an overview of how the film was restored. The production company that did this work goes over the whole process, from getting the films in shape, digitizing them and then how they fixed all the imperfections without altering the intent of the director. It’s pretty fascinating. The work was painstaking and they’d only get perhaps a minute of the film restored in a whole days’ work.

But it was well worth it, as the movie really pops off the screen. It’s a fun flick, as well as a historical document of where the Beatles were at in 1965.

Video clip of "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" from Help!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

You’ll "Really" Like This Web "Site"

My Grandma used to put quotes around everything. Especially people’s names. I’d get letters from her with people’s names in quotes and I’d think, "Ah, here is more news about my alleged family members."

My wife sent me the link to this site a few weeks ago but I did not get a chance to check it out until recently. Called The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks, it’s a hilarious look at the misuse of "quotes" from around the world.

Now I want to cruise around Portland looking for offenders so I can make sure the Northwest is represented! Check it out.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Beatles Go Intergalactacal

In an excersize of total futility, NASA is wasting taxpayer money Monday to beam The Beatles' "Across the Universe" to the North Star, Polaris, 2.5 quadrillion miles away. It will take 431 years to reach Polaris and can't be heard without an antenna.

The Associated Press wrote:

This first-ever beaming of a radio song by the space agency directly into deep space is nostalgia-driven. It celebrates the 40th anniversary of the song, the 45th anniversary of NASA's Deep Space Network, which communicates with its distant probes, and the 50th anniversary of NASA.

"Send my love to the aliens," Paul McCartney told NASA through a Beatles historian. "All the best, Paul."

NASA loaded an MP3 of the song, just under four minutes in its original version, and will transmit it digitally at 7 p.m. EST Monday from its giant antenna in Madrid, Spain. But if you wanted to hear it on Polaris, you would need an antenna and a receiver to convert it back to music, the same way people receive satellite television.

The idea came from Martin Lewis, a Los Angeles-based Beatles historian, who then got permission from McCartney, Yoko Ono and the two companies that own the rights to Beatles' music. One of those companies, Apple, was happy to approve the idea because is "always looking for new markets," Lewis said.

Given the state of the world right now, they should have sent Helter Skelter.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Please Kill Me Now

If you make it through this whole thing, you are a Saint. Which one do think is worse? This video or the Van Halen train wreck?

The Dirty Mac

In late 1968, The Rolling Stones decided to put on a concert event on a soundstage, invite a ton of the day's top musicians and film the whole thing for a movie. Jagger was the ringleader and of course The Stones closed the whole thing out with their own set. On paper, what a great idea! They called it The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.

The trouble is, their set stunk. They had been up for days, ingesting all sorts of recreational fuel, and when it came time to take the stage, they put in a mediocre performance.

Other performers were not so unlucky, and, for example, The Who blew everyone away with their blazing rendition of A Quick One. This is the highlight, for me, of the band's The Kids Are Alright film, and I know many others share my opinion.

Another top performance was the supergroup put together by John Lennon, just for the event. Here we had Lennon on guitar and vocals, Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Keith Richards on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. He called the band "The Dirty Mac."

They did one song, "Yer Blues" from the White Album. As much as everyone loves The Beatles, this version totally slays the original. They did another little jam with Yoko but it's not really worth mention.

Lennon's live performances after The Beatles were pretty spotty. He put bands together very quickly for benefit concerts and did one off appearances, but I have never heard anything that really blew me away like the R&R Circus performance. He seems under rehearsed and even a bit nervous.

However, here he is fully confident. It's great to watch.

Needless to say, The Stones shelved the whole movie idea due to their lousy set, and none of this saw the light of day (except for the Who's Quick One) until The Stones decided to release the film on DVD almost 30 years later, in 1996.

The YouTube clip below starts with Lennon and Jagger having a pretty glazed chat. You can taste their huge egos here, and can sense their rivalry but also friendship. Then we get the full song. Enjoy.