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...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gerry Rafferty Missing

Does anyone remember Gerry Rafferty? he had some very cool big songs in the 70s - Baker Street, Get It Right Next Time, Right Down The Line and Days Gone Down come to mind.

But sources report that Rafferty, who had been experiencing liver problems, checked into St. Thomas Hospital in London July 25 for series of tests to determine the status of his health.

On August 1, nurses entered Rafferty's room to find him gone, his bed empty, but his personal belongings left behind. London authorities are suspecting a kidnapping and filed a missing persons report. The 61-year old rocker remains missing. Doctors have yet to release his condition to the public.

Weird! Here's hoping for the best and in the meantime, check out these two vids. These are my favorite kind of videos by the way - studio shots! Cool 70s threads too.

Baker Street (You think he was going for a mid-70s John Lennon look here? Nah...)

Get It Right Next Time (this one is my favorite of his - reminds me of being a kid, 'cause that's when this came out)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yes It's True...

Confirmed today by the Associated Press.

Chris Squire says:

"You can't ever really replace Jon Anderson, because he's been such a force in the music business," Squire said. "We look upon his replacement as more of an understudy." Squire said he is hopeful Anderson will be well enough to do shows next year.

Unless they play a TINY venue and/or play a bunch of totally obscure music that Anderson would never do (The whole Drama album, let's say), I will be giving this one a pass.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yes Pulls A Journey - Goes to YouTube for NEW SINGER to Replace Jon Anderson

This is not a joke (or is it?).

Jon Anderson's chronic reactive airway disease has led to the band to replace him with singer Benoit David from Canadian Yes tribute band Close To The Edge. See and hear him here. Indeed Chris Squire himself endorsed the band back in May.

This news was posted yesterday at Classic Rock Magazine, but there is no confirmation on Yes' site or anywhere else for that matter.

The story says, "The band plan to tour North America towards the end of this year, with a break in early 2009 given Howe's prior commitments to Asia, and then further Yes touring in other countries."

If this is true, it's a mistake. Journey and Priest could pull it off but I don't see Yes fans buying this. It's not like Yes is some faceless band and people who like them won't miss the lead singer. Yes' audience has shrunk to a tight group of fanatics who go to every show, but will likely not be into Anderson being replaced. Not at this stage in the band's career.

If this is true, catch Yes on the county fair and casino circuit, but you won't see me there.

Thanks to MSTai for the tip...


On doing some more research, it looks like this idea may have been hatched as early as July. From a post on the YesFans site, check out this letter sent to promoters, soliciting gig offers for the band:

From: Xxxxxx Xxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 2:31 PM
Subject: YES

Hello All,

Please see the notes below. The band YES will be touring cut-down arenas and theatres from October 30 – Dec. 14, 2008. They are looking for Guarantees of XXX. Note: The band is traveling with production.

When you have a moment please let me know if you are interested in promoting,


VP Operations


YES – Featuring Chris Squire, Alan White, Steve Howe, Oliver Wakeman, and a soon to be announced new lead singer (in the mold of Jon Anderson of course, who has well publicized vocal problems and is unable to perform).

Their 40th anniversary summer tour (of mostly amphitheaters) has been canceled due to Jon’s vocal issue.

The band is now looking to re-schedule and scale down the tour to be able to play theaters and cut-down arenas. The time period is October 30 through December 14.

Looking for XXX in most majors and secondaries (more $$ in markets that has history and/or big money Fair or Casino offers).

Metallica Pre-Sale - How Times Have Changed

Got an email announcing the ticket pre-sale for Metallica's upcoming Portland show (the password is CYANIDE, if you want to get in on it).

Anyway, the band who made the giant PR blunder of taking on Napster and music fans everywhere a few years back has finally embraced the fact that the dynamics of the music industry have changed.

The pre-sale ticket prices of $91.94 and $71.94 also include a copy of the new CD Death Magnetic and a digital download of the show you attend from livemetallica.com. That is pretty cool, if you ask me.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Book Review: Contents Under Pressure

Anyone who follows this blog knows I am a lifelong Rush fan. Besides jamming with the guys at a soundcheck or something, one of my band fantasies would be sitting down with Rush and asking them what they thought of each of their numerous albums, from 1974 to date.

I heard that before one of the more recent tours, Geddy and Alex got together and listened to every one of their albums chronologically, trying to figure out what songs they could pull from the vault. I would have paid a LOT to have been a fly on the wall for those meetings.

But the book Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home and Away, which came out right before the 30th Anniversary Tour, is as close as I’ll get. It’s an authorized book about Rush’s albums and tours, loaded with quotes from all the Rush guys, telling stories about what was going on during the making of every album over the course of the band’s first 30 years.

You get these nuggets (and much more):

--Neil Peart is not a fan of any of the band’s albums until Moving Pictures. I was pretty surprised at that, since many fans consider that early period the best of the band’s whole career. But in terms of his lyric writing, the bombast of the music, and the quality of the recordings, he says please, let’s skip all of that and just start the band’s career with Moving Pictures. Alex Lifeson, however, thinks that those old albums stand up much better than he thought they would, and he really enjoyed revisiting Hemispheres and even Caress of Steel and Fly By Night.

--Lifeson is not a big fan of the keyboard heavy albums Signals and Grace Under Pressure, and feels that there was a much better balance on Power Windows and Hold Your Fire. After those four albums, even Geddy Lee got sick of the keyboards in Rush and tried to wean them away more and more every album after that. They talk in detail about how hard it was to bring those overdub-heavy albums into a live setting. This includes their first foray into triggering samples of keyboards, vocals, guitars and effects that play along with the band, and how unreliable the technology was back then. And yeah, let's be clear - they don't play to a click or pre-recorded track a la Won't Get Fooled Again. Rather, they trigger finite snips of sound using foot pedals or drum triggers. Maybe it will play for a couple of bars, or maybe through a whole chorus. That requires a lot of onstage dancing and focus, and is why they don't visit Power Windows or Hold Your Fire that much in the live set these days.

--Some albums have been very, very hard to record, due to tight timelines, band disunity, uncertainty about producers, etc. Hemispheres, Grace Under Pressure and Counterparts were the three that were really hard to make. For Hemispheres, they wrote the album without checking how the keys of the songs were for Geddy, and when he went to sing them, they were all too high. That album was a nightmare for him to sing. The easy albums to record were Moving Pictures, Test for Echo and even though it’s not included in the book, from other interviews we know that Snakes and Arrows was a joy for them to make.

--None of the band really like Presto all that much. They think Roll the Bones has better songs but isn’t produced very well (I’d agree with that one).

--The band carves up their recorded history like this: The first few albums were all about becoming ripping musicians – hence the crazy prog-rock structure of their songs and epic album-side long mini operas. Come Moving Pictures through the 90s, it was more about songwriting and arranging. Hence the keyboards, catchy choruses etc. Now it’s about combining all of those elements, while getting back to their power trio roots.

Anyway, this is the tip of the iceberg. If you dig Rush, you’ll love this book.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Funny McCain - Palin Photos

So, this is not out of any kind of mean-spirited anti McCain stuff. After hearing his speech, I continue to like him as a person and respect his service. I just don't think his politics (and especially Palin's) are right for the country, or for me personally.

So in the spirit of having a good laugh, check out this litany of "art" created by people with nice senses of humor and too much time on their hands.

Check it here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Isorski Digs Politics

Actually, I don't. I have religiously avoided the TV news for more than eight years, mostly in revulsion over our current regime (Bush) - watching the news makes me too angry.

But you pretty much can't avoid it these days with the lengthy lead up to the recent Democratic and Republican conventions, and those events themselves.

I have avoided turning this blog into a political forum and I also generally avoid any discussion of politics and religion. But today I feel like I just have to. The sickening display at the Republican Convention has made me too angry to stay quiet.

McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as VP has raised all sorts of interesting issues but at the core, he chose about the rightest-wing person he could find, and this is being overlooked by those who would rather focus on the fact that she is a woman, that her 17-year old daughter is knocked up, how will she raise five kids (one with Downs) as VP, and then as president once four-time cancer survivor McCain kicks off.

CNN contributor Hilary Rosen said it best in a column today. I urge you to read it, and please, come November, do not give the Republicans another four years. They have done enough damage in the last eight, haven't they? Obama will do just fine. Plenty of solid presidents have started with minimal experience, and just because you have experience doesn't make you a good president!

I don't care about how Sarah Palin or John McCain take care of their families. I care about how their policy choices affect my family and millions of other Americans.

McCain and Palin get their health insurance paid for by the government (hers in Alaska and his in Washington). Yet they oppose giving the nearly 46 million uninsured Americans the same access to affordable health care.

John McCain's kids don't have to worry about paying for college. Yet he has opposed every single education support program to help others.

McCain and Palin say they will stand up to oil companies. Yet the only energy policy they support gives millions of dollars in tax breaks to oil companies to do more drilling and he has opposed every piece of federal legislation to explore alternative fuel sources.

McCain and Palin say they will revamp how Washington does business. Yet his campaign is filled with lobbyists and she has cooperated with Sen. Ted Stevens in funneling federal money for useless projects in Alaska for years. And McCain and Palin have no solutions for Americans worrying about their jobs in a fragile economy.

McCain and Palin want us to leave their families alone. Yet they want to make rules for our families by eliminating our right to make our own choices over abortion, eliminate our access to family planning education or domestic partner benefits, and our freedom from discrimination.

They want to control what our kids learn in school about sex and about science. In short, through the policies they promote and the judges they support, they want the government to have more control over our private lives than at any time in history.

McCain and Palin now say their campaign is about change, too. Yet the only real change they have proposed is a change from a suit to a skirt in the vice president's office and one man fighting a misplaced war for another in the Oval Office.

That seems to me to be the right reason to oppose them in November. It's not the process or the people, it's what they represent. This unconventional choice of a vice presidential nominee by John McCain won't result in a win in November, because McCain and Palin are the wrong choice for the country.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Movie Review – Tropic Thunder

Caught the new Ben Stiller movie Tropic Thunder over the weekend. I had read a review in Rolling Stone and it sounded like it would be hilarious. And it was.

In a nutshell, the movie is about a film company trying to make a Rambo-style war movie but the director runs into issues with the actors and their egos. So the decision is made to plop the actors down into the middle of the jungle, where the movie would be filmed more “Blair Witch” style but it goes horribly wrong immediately, and the actors (some of who believe they are still acting) quickly have to assimilate to a real-life wartime situation with a drug cartel.

The cast is all-star. Stiller, Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Cruise and Nick Nolte. But hands down the movie was stolen by Robert Downey Jr., who plays an Australian Oscar-winning actor who is playing Sgt. Lincoln Osiris, an African American. To get into the part, Downey’s character has dyed his skin dark and refuses to break character from Osiris ever, even when it is obvious they are not acting for the movie anymore.

This character is one of the funniest I have seen in a long time. I was laughing just looking at Downey. Some of his facial expressions speak pages, and his lines will be quoted a la Caddyshack for years to come.

I do have to say that the first few minutes contain some pretty graphic mock violence that I thought was a little unnecessary. After that, though, the movie is one big laugh. And Tom Cruise comes in with a career changing hilarious/weird cameo that is so over the top that you'll laugh even if you hate Tom Cruise.

Also notable is the cinematography and special effects, which are of the quality of a big budget war movie and made the movie a pleasure to watch in addition to laugh at.

Here is a mashup of the trailer that shows some good Robert Downey Jr. stuff. It does not do the movie justice, though - go see it.