Thursday, August 28, 2008

Steve Jobs Dies - Ooops, Not Really!

It's fairly common for the press to pre-write obituaries so they are ready when the time comes. That is how a five page story on James Brown, for example, pops out five minutes after he croaks. All the media has to do is write the first paragraph about how he actually kicked off, call some folks for a few quotes, and they are all done.

We got a little sneak peek at Steve Jobs' yesterday when Bloomberg News decided to update his obit and accidentally published it long enough for a number of sites, including ValleyWag, to grab and re-post it.

The writer's notes on who they ought to contact for quotes when the time comes is an interesting look into how reporters think. The obituary itself is lengthy and you got to wonder if Steve Jobs has read it. Maybe he has a few edits or corrections he could shoot to Bloomberg!

Check it out here.

I wonder who else's obits are all ready? My guess is Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty, John McCain and Robbie "Kaptain" Knievel. I just might write my own, so the world is ready! Ha ha ha.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Safeway and the Rise of Classic Rock Radio

I was in Safeway last night on a quick run to get some cold meds for my wife. Which one has the most meds? Theraflu? Nyquil? What's the dosage? How much is this? Hey what is that song playing over the Safeway speakers? I recognize that. Seems out of place...

It was Secret Touch from Rush's Vapor Trails album. WTF?

That is probably one of the noisiest, most angry songs Rush ever released and here it is blaring away in Safeway while I shop for cold meds. Awesome.

It reminded me of another time in Safeway - this time in San Francisco in the early 90s, when I had just graduated from college and had moved to the City to make music for a living (that lasted about 5 years and more than 1,000 gigs across the country).

I was doing my low budget musician diet shopping (bread/peanut butter/jelly) and noted that The Doors were playing on the PA - not one of their poppier tunes either. It was Riders on the Storm.

"There's a killer on the road. His brain is squirming like a toad -- PRICE CHECK ON AISLE SIX -- If you give this man a ride sweet family will die..." Yeah, baby.

This was around the time when I noticed that radio was turning more to a 'classic rock' format, playing all the stuff from the 60s and 70s that I loved but never heard outside of my room or car cassette player. Maybe classic rock was around earlier, but I remember taking special note right around the late 80s/early 90s and totally digging it.

Having heard the same songs they play on classic rock radio for the next 20 years has soured me a bit on it and made me take the (now very stale) format for granted, but back in the 80s, radio sucked as hard as the crappy 80s music pouring out of it. Classic rock radio was a nice breath of fresh air at the time. Made me feel like my people were finally in charge.

Gotta go to Costco today. Maybe I'll hear some Dio-era Sabbath. Well, one can dream...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jason Bonham Jamming with Page and Jones

Thanks to the Eddie Trunk site for this nugget: reports that drummer Jason Bonham spoke with the "JJ & Lynne" morning show in Detroit, Michigan this past Friday, August 22nd. During the interview, Bonham revealed that he is leaving Foreigner at the end of this month and that he has been jamming with Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.

Bonham, who was born in England and now lives in Florida, said, "I've been over [to England] a couple of times. I've been working with Jimmy and John Paul and trying to do just do some new material and some writing. I don't know what it will be, but it will be something...At the moment, all I know is I have the great pleasure to go and jam with the two guys and start work on some material. When I get there, I never ask any questions. If I get a phone call to go and play, I enjoy every moment of it. Whatever it ends up as, to ever get a chance to jam with two people like that, it is a phenomenal thing for me; it's my life, it's what I've dreamed about doing."

Jason added, "My time with Foreigner is coming to an end. This is the first time I've talked about it. I leave at the end of this month . . . I'm looking forward to taking some time out to be with the family really. Since I moved to America I've been on the road, so my first priority is to go and watch my kids grow up, because they've grown up way to fast in the last four years."

Friday, August 22, 2008

1970 - What A Year for Beatles Fans

Between checking out the Lost Lennon Tapes, digging through years worth of Beatles bootlegs and re-buying early 70s Beatles solo albums Ram (McCartney), Plastic Ono Band and Imagine (Lennon) and All Things Must Pass (Harrison), I have to say, those of you who lived through 1970 had a hell of a year, musically.

Me, I turned two on the day that Jimi Hendrix died in 1970. (Oh and as a side story, according to the book The Beatles Complete Recording Sessions, the band recorded the song Birthday on the day I was born - no shit - look it up - 9-18-68).

Anyway, there was obvious uncertainty about the band's future in 1970. Let It Be the film and album were both issued in May. Anyone who has seen that movie can see that the writing was on the wall big time.

But in a bootleg interview with Harrison from 1970, he says the guys are all enjoying the freedom they have to record on their own (even giving McCartney's album a nice plug) and saying that he's sure they'll be back together soon to record a new group album. Of course that didn't happen.

Whatever the case, here is what people got in a 14-month period, full-length album wise, from the fab four:

--September 26, 1969 - Beatles - Abbey Road
--March 27, 1970 - Ringo Starr - Sentimental Journey
--April 17, 1970 - Paul McCartney - McCartney
--May 8, 1970 - Beatles - Let it Be
--May 20, 1970 - Beatles - Let it Be (the film)
--November 27, 1970 - George Harrison - All Things Must Pass (triple album)
--December 11, 1970 - John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band

Notable is how strong Lennon and Harrison's albums were. Lennon ripped the myth off of the Beatles and laid his soul bare on Plastic Ono, and Harrison had three albums worth of backlog to unleash on the world - and almost all of the non-jam songs are classic tunes.

McCartney's album is a surprising piece of crap. I have tried about ten times over the past 20 or so years to listen to it with fresh ears and the only two songs I can stand are Junk and Maybe I'm Amazed - and I prefer later versions of both to the originals.

In the Lost Lennon Tapes, Lennon tells Rolling Stone that he was surprised how bad Paul's album is, and how happy he is about that, as he is self-admittedly very, very competitive.

Ram from March 1971 is better, and I really like all the Wings albums from Band on the Run all the way to the end. I guess it took Paul some time to pick up steam while the others hit the ground running but then petered out later. Paul was for sure the 'bad guy' in the early 70s, and I am sure the pressure was rough, with three Beatles vs. one. He admits this in the truly excellent Wingspan DVD.

A very cool post sent to me by Nedmusic asks the question, what if the band HAD done one more album in 1970 or 1971? Given that the songs would have to be from the 1969-1971 period, the writer put together a pretty cool "lost album" and goes into great detail as to why he chose what he chose (and what he didn't!)

Check that out here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dave Matthews Sax Player Dies

Never was a huge fan of the Dave Matthews Band. I find it really hard to hum his stuff - there is little melody and he's all over the place. I once tried to figure out one of his tunes by ear and gave up because I just couldn't follow it - and it was all on acoustic!

But one of the cool things about the band is the lineup - drums, bass, acoustic, keys, sax and violin. Very unique.

Sad news from the DMB camp today, however, in that sax player LeRoi Moore died from complications from an ATV accident. Man, are those things dangerous. Anyway, bummer for DMB fans - full story here.

Americans - Are We Really That Stupid?

I hope hope HOPE that this was a joke but I am having a hard time believing that it's not real.

An open question from a few days ago on Yahoo! Answers reads:

Is it safe to travel to Atlanta Georgia now? I am going to south carolina next weekend and I am thinking about drive down to atlanta just for the heck of it. But I heard the news that Russia has invaded Georgia, so is it still to drive to Georgia now? Atlanta is not near the coast, does that mean that Russia hasn't got to there yet?

The comments are priceless.

These are the same types of people who think Obama is a Muslim because, well, I guess that is the buzz right now, despite no proof whatsoever.

Please prove me wrong in November, America.

Blast From The Past - Osiris Reunion

I promise to post soon about the Floydian Slips show last Saturday in Eugene - it was stellar. Just gathering all the photos etc from people so I can post the best ones.

Speaking of posting, Voxmoose got around to popping some videos from our May 2006 Osiris reunion at our 20 year high school reunion. This was one of my favorite shows ever, hands down, and I am glad we had two camera angles and audio sources to futz with.

There were two shows - one at our 20th, and the other the next day at the high school itself, which was celebrating its 50th. We did a total of 16 songs, but here are a couple of choice cuts.

Voxmoose posted about the event as well and added more color and detail, here. Enjoy.

The White Room

Bloated (Osiris original)

The Sower (Osiris original)

Monday, August 18, 2008

New AC/DC Album Will Truly ROCK Wal-Mart

Rolling Stone posted a short item on AC/DC's forthcoming album Black Ice. (Yes, only available at Wal-Mart, starting October 21 - argh):

Sweet vindication! Last year in this column, AC/DC singer Brian Johnson promised that they’d tour in 2008. Well, he wasn’t kidding. Soon they’ll begin rehearsals in a secret location, before hitting U.S. arenas in late fall. We heard this news at the Sony HQ on New York’s Madison Avenue, before hearing all 15 tracks of the band’s earthshaking new Black Ice, recorded in Vancouver in just eight weeks with Brendan O’Brien. On it, Brian wails about skies on fire, blood in his eyes, storms raging, lightning flashes, hard rain and pretty women. Angus Young shreds throughout (we dig his slide work on “Decibel”), and the rhythm cats — Malcom Young, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd — are solid as a rock. The first single is “Rock ‘N Roll Train”; “She Likes Rock ‘N Roll” will be a stripper anthem; and “War Machine” (our favorite) will tear you to pieces.

Sounds pretty promising...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Beatles Boots Part Two

I found a much better source for all of the Purple Chick Beatles bootlegs and a ton more. This site also provides downloads in FLAC format, delivered in Zip files, which eliminates the need to sign up for Rapidshare to get the downloads.

As with any downloads, please use your security software to ensure you are not downloading anything malicious. So far so good on my end but I am not responsible if your computer is infected! Check it out on your own...

Not sure how long this site will remain live, so as McCartney once sang, "If you want it here it is, come and get it 'cause it's going fast." Here's the link.

Friday, August 15, 2008

KISS Pulls A Journey, Releases Re-Recorded "Hits"

KISS and Sony Music Japan are releasing a 'greatest hits' album in Japan only, featuring 15 KISS songs re-recorded by the current lineup, which only has two founding members. The other two guys are replacements who wear the makeup and costumes of the founding members they replaced.

Many fans know that they are basically watching a KISS tribute band when they see this lineup, but because the band is in full makeup, many people have no idea. They know KISS the 'brand,' and possibly don't even care that they are being duped by impostors.

Never mind that this lineup rocks harder than the original four, or that because the replacement guys are so talented it allows the band to tap its vast repertoire and play all sorts of tunes the original lineup would never attempt live.

I think it's interesting that this is a Japan-only release and that it has a bonus disc of the classic lineup from 1977. They must know that American fans will probably stay away from this one. No way in hell I am buying it! You can't beat the original versions...

Here are the tunes they have re-recorded:


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beatles Bootleg Gold Mine

Holy mother of God. If you are a Beatles fan, block off a few WEEKS to get through this.

Rolling Stone posted a very small blurb a few issues ago that read:

The Beatles' albums came out on CD in 1987, but fans have long complained that the early digital technology used to remaster the recordings left them sounding hollow and thin — and that the official remasters are way overdue. That's where Purple Chick comes in — a secretive fan (or group of fans) who has been quietly remastering classic discs like Revolver and A Hard Day's Night, and releasing the digital files for free online. How is this possible? The Beatles' CDs sound so bad that carefully digitized tracks from pristine vinyl copies are noticeably better — with crisper highs, a fuller soundstage, and more realistic reproduction of instruments and voices. And the Purple Chick editions are superior to the originals in other ways, too: The Sgt. Pepper collection contains the original record in mono and stereo, and four discs' worth of studio outtakes; the White Album comes in a whopping twelve-disc version, including alternate takes, studio chatter, demos and fascinating jams. So how do you get this stuff? Google is your friend: Try searching "purple chick and megaupload" to get started.

So I did.

It took a lot of hunting but I found a great source for some of these boots - essentially a chat forum that has links to the various CDs in MP3 format, complete with artwork that loads to iTunes. Some are in FLAC format, which is a supposedly cleaner form of compression but requires a special player (I think - haven't got that far yet).

You download all of this through a service called Rapidshare that is free but I'd suggest signing up for the short term full access program so you can download many CDs at a time (I had 20 going at once and it was fast). You'll also need a couple of Plug Ins to unbundle what you are downloading but just Google the name of the software and make sure you are downloading it from reputable sites.

There are a few dead links. For example, not all the Beatles for Sale links work and only a couple of the many White Album links work. But you will be able to get almost everything from Please Please Me through Magical Mystery Tour. That is more than 25 discs worth of Beatles bootlegs and remasters.

I have barely listened to what I have downloaded, but here are a few observations:

--The first two discs of each set for the most part are the re-masters - in mono and stereo. Remember, from Geoff Emerick's book, they paid little attention to the stereo mixes and mono is what you want if you want to hear how these songs were best mixed. I have yet to compare the re-masters with the 80s CDs, but Rolling Stone did it for you here.

--The area I am most interested in are the outtakes and studio run throughs. Some of them are from the Anthology series (so you have heard them before) but the depth of this collection is unrivalled. If your idea of a good time is to hear 15 versions of Strawberry Fields as the band works out the arrangement, you are in for a treat. You want to hear George Martin solo the vocal track on Sgt Pepper? OK, that's here too, from some TV show (Anthology maybe?). You want to hear the band rip through Day Tripper, with no vocals? Check.

--Make sure to download The Threetles - which is the three surviving Beatles (at the time) creating Free As A Bird and Real Love for the Anthology series. And, all of the music from the DVD version of Anthology is here as well. So, the jam McCartney, Harrison and Starr do in the studio on the DVD bonus material is here. As are the original Lennon versions of Free As A Bird and Real Love, so you can hear what they had to work with (which wasn't much!).

--Lots of fucking around and fucking up (and laughing). They polish turds into masterpieces before your ears.

I could go on and on and on. And I have barely checked any of this out. Tell me what you think.

The place that will get you going is here (click through all seven pages of the chat to get the various links).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Floydian Slips at the Cuthbert - The Lead Up

This coming Saturday is the Floydian Slips show in Eugene at the Cuthbert Amphitheater. Outside of the McDonald Theatre, the Cuthbert is kind of our home base summetime gig, and we love it. It's outdoors and we usually sell it out (or come really close), meaning it's my personal largest gig of the year.

I am also excited about it because we are going to debut an album end to end that we have never attempted before. We have done The Wall and Dark Side, so it's one of the others. You figure it out. Ha ha ha.

We get together tomorrow to make sure we still remember the chords to Brain Damage. I will try to post something. In the meantime, here is a repeat from New Year's Eve this year, at the McDonald:

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Isorski Joins the 21st Century and Digs Podcasting

They may be old news for Internet savvy peeps, but I have recently discovered the coolness of podcasts, or in short, 30 - 60 minute audio programs downloaded to your iPod or whatever and listened to later.

They are like custom radio programs I can listen to while running, commuting, watering the flippin' plants, etc.

I get most of mine via iTunes, but there are tons of other sites that offer them. Some are set up as subscriptions - so every time I open iTunes, the program checks to see if there are new Podcasts in that series, and if so, automatically downloads them.

Two John Lennon related podcast series I have been digging are:

The Lost Lennon Tapes

I remember hearing these in the 80s when Westwood One first ran them - I think it was every Sunday night. I wasn't a big fan. Too many commercials and frankly a bit too much hype.

But I am enjoying them a lot now, without the commercials. There are lots of interviews, outtakes, studio run throughs and info I had never heard before (and I am a pretty big Beatles fanatic, so that's a tall order).

It covers everything from Lennon's childhood through the Beatles, and of course early and late solo eras. And - thankfully - when they play a song, you hear the whole thing. Not just a little snip with the host yapping over it. Most of the versions and outakes I had never heard before - not even on the Beatles Anthology series or the Lennon Anthology that has four discs of outakes and demos! Very cool.

If you Google the series, you learn that there were loads of episodes. Only the first 27 are available (free) from iTunes and I am trying to figure out how to get my hands on the rest. They are really fascinating if you are interested in Lennon and/or The Beatles.

The Rolling Stone Lennon Interviews

This is a five-part free series on iTunes, and is the complete audio from the legendary interview between Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner and Lennon in 1970, right before he put out his first solo album, Plastic Ono Band. This is Lennon's first true solo album, a raw release that smashed the Beatles myth with songs like Mother, God, I Found Out and Love. This album, along with 1971's Imagine, are his two must-have solo CDs until 1980's Double Fantasy.

The Wenner interview is really killer for a number of reasons. You hear a very pissed off Lennon, stinging from the trauma within The Beatles - they had only officially announced the breakup months earlier (and Paul did it, even though Lennon quit first).

Also, despite not wanting to 'play the game' anymore or be part of the big music business machine, he still is struggling over what song to issue as the single from the Plastic Ono Band album. Wenner thinks it ought to be Mother, and Lennon seems to agree. But the song is so intense, you can tell he is afraid of alienating people and is leaning towards the Beatle-esque and more positive song Love.

You hear what Lennon thinks about Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road (he doesn't like them) and how competitive he is with the other Beatles, Dylan and...well, pretty much anyone else. He says that The Beatles were pretty much finished as a group by the time they got signed. You can tell he doesn't really care for or about any Beatles tunes besides his own and even there he dislikes most of his work with the band.

You can also get the transcribed printed version at but it's more poignant to actually hear it.

Later, Lennon mellowed out and mended fences with the other Beatles but he is royally hurt, pissed and disillusioned in this interview, which by the way was a huge coup for Rolling Stone and Wenner and helped to put the magazine on the map.

There are other podcasts I am checking out and will post about them later. But these two will keep you busy for a week or two, and will fill in many, many gaps in your Beatles and Lennon knowledge if you want it...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Flugtag Comes to Portland

Two of my sons and I were three of 80,000 that gathered around the waterfront in Portland on Saturday for a very special event - the last one like it happened here in 2004. Obama rally? Nope, that was in May and only 75,000 attended that event.

No, this was the Red Bull Flugtag - the best-attended event held in Portland by many accounts. Think of it as our version of Woodstock, or another notch in the "Keep Portland Weird" belt.

Marketwire explains it best:

While Portland packed in the crowds in 2004, today's event set a new local record as swarms of Oregonians came out to watch the brave, creative and often slightly crazy launch human-powered flying machines off a 30-foot ramp at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Though "Flugtag" means "flying day" in German, there weren't any average aviators today: a Chinese takeout box, a pot of gold and a giant wiener were just a few of the crafts that took to the skies.

While there has never been a limit on creativity, there were a few rules and regulations. First off, all flying machines had to be entirely human-powered (no external energy sources or stored power). Secondly, all crafts had to be less than 30 feet wide. And finally, no matter what they say, size does matter -- all crafts had to weigh no more than 450 lbs. (including the pilot).

The first Red Bull Flugtag took place in Vienna, Austria, in 1991. Since then, more than 40 Red Bull Flugtags have been held around the world -- from Ireland to San Francisco -- attracting nearly 300,000 spectators. The record for the farthest flight to date currently stands at 195 feet set in 2000 at Red Bull Flugtag Austria. The U.S. record stands at 155 feet set just last year at Red Bull Flugtag Nashville.

The story fails to mention that the 'crafts' launch off the ramp into the Willamette River, some 25 feet below. Taking into account that some of the crafts were more than ten feet high, you had crazy pilots launching themselves about 40 feet straight down into the suspicious waters of the Willamette, followed by their crews, who were also obligated to jump into the river per Flugtag rules.

For that many people, it was really well run and it was shockingly easy to get around.

I shot some good video but not as good as this guy:

Monday, August 04, 2008

Beam Me Up! Scotty's Ashes Scattered Over Pacific As Rocket Explodes

Scotty's Ashes. Now there is a great band name.

When James Doohan - Scotty from Star Trek for those who don't know - passed away last year, the big news is that his ashes were going to be shot into outer space, per his last wishes.

An attempt was made over the weekend but sadly, gravity prevailed and Scotty and 207 other boxes of ash exploded and plummeted into the Pacific Ocean when space burial company Celestis' Falcon 1 rocket began spinning out of control less than two minutes after liftoff.

Seems that Celestis has had pretty bad luck getting its company off the ground - pun intended. From this article on Gearfuse:

SpaceX [Celestis partner] was started in 2002 by Paypal founder Elon Musk as a low cost space delivery service. Since then, they’ve unsuccessfully tried to launch their Falcon 1 rocket three times. In 2006, the first SpaceX Falcon flight failed due to a fuel leak. Last year, the second Falcon 1 rocket made it to space, but got lost by SpaceX mission control.

Gizmodo had a pretty funny take on it too, here.

But I could think of worse places to scatter ashes - the Pacific Ocean works. Maybe one of those whales from Star Trek IV scooped him up with some krill and plankton...

Friday, August 01, 2008

For Those Who Tried to Rock...

Check out this site as covered in Rolling Stone recently. It's a collection of stories posted from high school one-gig wonders and deluded college acoustic trios.

Having been in plenty of both, I can relate to the stories. I think my favorite part about that period of my life - also represented in some of the stories on For Those Who Tried to Rock - were the grandiose plans and goals formulated due to inexperience and complete naivete.

For example, I have an audio tape of me and Voxmoose making big plans to go on tour opening for our heroes, delighting the fans with a 30 minute prog rock opera. No sweat - ought to be easy to get an opening slot on an arena tour. You'd think it was by the enthusiasm in my voice on that tape!

I will probably send the site a story or two, and maybe a photo or video. Ah, but which band to choose? The Midnight Ramblers, my first band from 8th grade that did two gigs? Dry Heave, from freshman year, with the 18 year old bass player and 21 year old singer (we were so cool to have older guys want to jam with 14 year olds).

Or Nimoy, RDVK, The Blue Meanies (yeah, we had the name first), or maybe the first outfit I was ever in, called Snot (yes, we had the name first). Snot was me and my buddy Bill, blowing off steam after school in 4th grade where we'd switch off on guitar and drums (yeah, before the White Stripes), and holler out brilliant originals such as "Stick A Stick Up Your Butt," "Farts" and "Butthair Joe." We were fucking geniuses.

A few years later, once we actually learned how to play, we'd do covers and switch the lyrics (yes, way before Weird Al). But our lyrics were PG-13 at best and were mostly R and X. Those tapes are for my ears only until I die and my kids realize what a sick little freak I was as a teenager.

Man, I feel a Snot reunion coming on. Stick A Stick Up Your Butt.