Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Once Artwork - A Lesson in Hollywood Bastardization

All of this Swell Season fever led me to a few interesting posts on how Hollywood messed with the poster/DVD cover of the movie Once.

It's a pretty telling evolution. The artwork went from an artsy, rootsy design to the final version that has the couple holding hands on the cover, walking on a guitar neck.

The problem with this holding hands thing is that they never get together in the movie. Also, according to an interview with Glen Hansard, the final version has his head pasted onto someone else's body, and they have made Marketa Irglova taller! Totally Hollywood crapola. The whole interview is great by the way - from right after the Oscar win.

Here is the part addressing the artwork:

Pitchfork: Speaking of changing the cover, am I imagining things, or did they change the Once poster when it got released on DVD? They changed what you're wearing.

GH: Oh, man. They fuckin' killed it. You're right. They have us holding hands, which we never do in the film! Those legs aren't mine. Those legs are like three times longer than my legs. It's a completely new body. They literally just used my face. I'm wearing a hat in the original picture, so they Photoshopped my head. If you look at my head, my head looks totally weird, because whoever did the Photoshop job was shit. My head looks really weird, they took my hat off, and they gave me an entirely new body. It's completely bizarre. And they made Mar much taller than she really is. You can look at the original cover and then what they did to it and spot all the crappy differences. It's awful. It's a real shame. But at a certain level you've got to let this shit go. I designed the original poster and the cover of the DVD myself. Myself and John like to do things ourselves, and I do a bit of design for the Frames. I designed all the Frames album covers. So I put together the DVD cover and the poster originally. And then they took it and fucking bastardized it. Instead of walking down a street, they stuck us walking down a big guitar.

Pitchfork: Again, it's a different world. The music industry is sketchy enough as it is, but the movie industry is 100 times that.

GH: Yeah, it's just blatant. They don't give a fuck. They want you to look at the DVD cover and get everything from that. It's the opposite of what someone like Criterion would do. They create wonderful art. With a Criterion DVD, you just want to buy it for the box. They do it right. With the bigger-time DVDs...they could have done such a nicer job. But I'm just complaining from a design point of view.

The original poster:

The evolution to the Hollywood version:

Swell Season YouTubes from Portland Show

On the heels of my last post, I was made aware of various YouTube videos from Monday's Portland show. Here are some gems. Thanks to Claire for doing whatever she needed to do to get these up on YouTube!

Fitzcarraldo (an old Frames song):

When Your Mind's Made Up (still my favorite song of theirs)

Into The Mystic (Van Morrison tune)

Say It To Me Now - sometimes he opens he show with this without amplification. At our show, he used the PA...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Concert Review - The Swell Season

Caught The Swell Season last night at the Keller in Portland. This is Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from the movie Once, augmented by three side musicians and guest appearances by the opening act and even a kid Hansard and Marketa met on the riverfront earlier in the day (yes – I will get there).

I saw the two last year before their Oscar win for best song, at the Crystal Ballroom – a much smaller venue than the Keller. I reviewed that concert here, and the movie Once here.

I was wondering if I would like the show last night better than the pre-Oscar big-time-fame show last year. My gut told me I’d prefer the last one better, but I gotta say, I really enjoyed last night. They were a bit more confident (especially Marketa) but the down-home feel was just as present.

By being a street performer in Ireland from age 13 through 18, Hansard honed his skills for getting an audience involved and is now translating that skill to these newfound BIG audiences.

For example, he’ll have the whole audience whistle a tune, or whisper a line over and over – well beyond the usual ‘clap alongs’ that most performers will try to get out of their audience. It made for some pretty cool moments. You wonder if they are on the bus thinking, “what can we get the audience to do for us tonight?’ Reminds me of Jim Morrison from The Doors where he would try and purposely get the audience angry in his own bizarre live ‘social experiments.’

This tour has been reviewed elsewhere on the Web with full set lists and the names of who exactly were onstage, so I am going to bypass that part. I will say, though, that the addition of Rónán Ó Snodaigh and Liam Ó Maonlaí (founder of Hothouse Flowers) as the openers was a smart idea. These two were Hansard’s “mentors” when he was a street musician and having them open, and join the rest of his band off and on throughout the night, was like having his teachers perform with him. And they were fantastic, adding a very traditional Irish bend to the whole thing, in both what songs they performed and what instruments they played.

Then there was Joseph the guest star. If the story is to be believed, Hansard and Irglova were strolling through Portland before the gig and ran into this kid who for some reason clicked with the two. Long story short, Hansard tells the tale and has the kid come all the way down from the nosebleed orchestra section to sing a song onstage. He does Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass (one hit wonder from 1972) to the first standing ovation of the night.

The evening was full of these moments, as well as the great music I expected. We got all the Once music, a few solid new songs, and older songs by Hansard’s band The Frames, done in new ways with this lineup and format. There were even a couple of covers – one of the best was a version of Into the Mystic by Van Morrison that closed the set, before an encore that was about two songs too long. We also got the obligatory long, rambling, funny song intros by Hansard that in some cases were about as long as the songs he played after the intro!

The thing that is most cool about Glen Hansard is that after winning the Oscar and obtaining the level of success he now has, he could have gone in a glitzy direction. You know, a whiz-bang stage design; Some top name hired guns onstage; Expensive clothes, new equipment.

But what the guy decides to do is call up his old busking friends and bring them on the road. Not only as the openers, but to join him onstage to augment his band. He also gives everyone in his band a spotlight – from a violin solo spot to the bass player singing a verse to a song.

No, the only new trapping I noticed was a bigger, nicer bus outside. The guy seems to have maintained his humble nature and is taking advantage of the new success to spread it around instead of hoarding it. He and Irglova understand that sometimes the sum is much bigger than the added value of all the parts and having talented musicians around doesn’t detract attention from the main stars, but rather augments the spotlight and – really – just makes for a much better show overall.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Waters' Pig Endorses Obama

Picking up where we left off last week, the AP reports that Roger Waters launched a giant inflatable pig during his Coachella performance that said, among other things, "Don't be led to the slaughter" and "Fear builds walls."

The underside of the pig simply read "Obama" with a checked ballot box. Classic. I was WONDERING if he was an Obama supporter after the last post.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Roger Waters Endorses Obama

Not typically known for his political opinions (yes that was a joke), Roger Waters wants us all to vote for Obama, because he thinks Hilary Clinton will invade Iran.

From an article in Gigwise:

“I was so disappointed the other night when the ghastly Hillary got Texas and kept the whole thing going," he told the Independent.

"Please God, let's not have this woman! Hillary will want to make her mark and show that she can be just as good as a male president, and she will fucking invade Iran.

“Trust me. She voted to declare the Iranian Republican Guard a terrorist organisation!"

Despite being ineligible to vote, Waters, who lives in New York, said he would “buy a whole page in The New York Times” in order to “fly Obama's flag”.

“But I would be terribly afraid they'd go, 'This is that pinko shitbag who's attacking our President in time of war',” he added.

Reunion Face Off - Floyd or Zep?

There is little question that two of the most stunning and unexpected reunions of the last few years were Zeppelin at O2 last year and Floyd at Live 8 a couple of years ago.

Stunning in that no one thought these reunions would ever happen, and that both bands performed well.

There is also a bit of mystique about these two one-off shows, because there wasn't a full tour following either reunion (despite promoters offering literally hundreds of millions of dollars to each band). Also, both bands have members who have all but said "That was it - I don't want to do it again." Leaving us all a bit...wanting.

So, which one was your fave? Floyd or Zep?

Here are two YouTubes to refresh your memory.

Pink Floyd doing Comfortably Numb at Live 8:

Led Zeppelin doing Kashmir at O2:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pink Floyd to Reunite Again?

This one flew under the radar like a giant inflatable pig - Floyd drummer Nick Mason recently alluded to more Floyd reunion shows in the future.

In comments earlier this month reported here and here, Mason says they have not ruled out another performance and are just waiting for the right opportunity to do another show.

I wonder if anyone asked Gilmour. Last I read, this was not happening.

Me, I'd put the chances at about the same as Zeppelin reuniting to play the Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Judas Priest "Nostradamus" Song

Back in March 2007, I posted about Judas Priest's endeavor to record the band's first concept album (ugh) around the life of Nostradamus (double ugh). A double album no less (they still make those?).

The whole thing seemed like an outtake from Spinal Tap.

I also questioned if they'd even pull it off - seemed like a long winded endeavor that the band was sinking a couple of years into. Never a good time line for an album. Seems like the best ones come together quickly.

So, image my surprise to stumble onto a free Web stream of the song Nostradamus (all six minutes and forty five seconds of it) courtesy of Priest itself (and Epic Records). Check it out here.

After listening a few times, I was reminded of the Eastern feel of Iron Maiden's Powerslave, but to an insane degree. This thing starts out like heavy metal theater. But when the whole band kicks in double time speed metal and Halford issues a hearty scream, I gotta say, I can't rule this thing out until I hear the whole thing.

Dare I say, might they have actually pulled this off???

Note that Priest is on tour this summer with Heaven and Hell (Dio-led Sabbath), Motorhead and Testament. That is a no-lose bill. Jeez! Of course, no Northwest dates yet.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Got $5.7 Million? Buy Alex Lifeson's House

Alex Lifeson's home in Rosedale, Ontario is on the market. For a cool $5,699,000, you can move right in and enjoy the 6,000 square feet, complete with "Entertaining Spaces Stylishly Finished W/Sophisticated Accents."

Not sure how long this link will be live, but the listing, with photos, is here. Nice digs!

There was also an article in The Toronto Globe and Mail about it.

Face Melting Who Performance

One of the comments to my earlier post on Neil Young's face melting SNL performance was that it was one of the hottest live clips I have seen since The Who doing Young Man Blues in 1970 at the Isle of Wight. I wanted to get back to that...

I know in some circles the big debate is "did Zeppelin or Sabbath contribute more to the birth of heavy metal?" I think you gotta throw The Who in there after seeing this. Especially starting at about 3:30 in the below video.

Courtesy of Internet pirates and YouTube, here is the clip. Enjoy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Alex Lifeson Interview

Rush's Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee are on a media rampage right now, doing loads of radio and press interviews for the second leg of the Snakes and Arrows tour, which began a few days ago.

A friend of mine sent me this interview of Alex Lifeson from Saturday's New Orleans Times-Picayune. Lots of good nuggets in there. Check it out.

I thought this Q&A was particularly interesting, from a biz standpoint:

Q. The first leg of the "Snakes & Arrows" tour was your highest grossing tour ever.

A. We were probably up about 20 percent on average on attendance. We always do well, but there were even more people coming out on this last tour. And a lot of younger kids, which was very interesting to see.

This is great news, but also a bit of a surprise. I thought they would have had better attendance on the 30th anniversary tour, or maybe even in their heyday in the 80s. Shows you how much I know.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Death Metal Mashups

Death Metal falls into a category all its own. I have never been a big fan. I prefer melody, even if it's over the heaviest of music. Bands like Sevendust rock incredibly hard but layer fantastic melodies over the noise they weave. Evanescence and even Tool pull it off as well.

But whatever you think of Death Metal, the genius of the following videos from 'those with far too much time on their hands' cannot be denied. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hell of A Field Trip

CNN reports that a group of liberal arts students from Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia took a field trip to a brothel outside of Las Vegas, capping a course on American consumption and "the ideas that consume us." Hmmm.

Some interesting pieces from the story:

--The brothel tour was a natural fit for a class that tells students "don't just study America -- live it."

Yeah baby.

--This year's focus on Nevada started with a professor's interest in water rights and conservation. It grew to include discussions of the wedding and entertainment industries and, inevitably, prostitution.

Of course it did. With plenty of 'Web-based research.'

--As part of their research, students were assigned "The Beauty Myth," by feminist author Naomi Wolf, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," by Hunter S. Thompson, and a "20/20" episode on prostitution with Diane Sawyer, among other research.

Yes, and PLENTY more 'Web-based research.'

--After a tour and time to mingle, the students packed up gift bags containing a menu of services, a Chicken Ranch key chain and a brochure.

...and a group discount.

Where was this innovative thinking around field trips at MY college?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rush Kicks Off 2nd Leg of Snakes & Arrows Tour

Rush kicked off the second half of their tour to support their latest studio album Snakes & Arrows last Friday. (One of their best CDs in ages - reviewed here)

The band spent a week rehearsing, and did the kick off concert, in Puerto Rico. The set list isn't all that much different from the first leg of the tour, but they have added a couple of my faves. Like the first leg, they are doing eight or nine new Snakes & Arrows tunes (three of them are instrumentals), so if you like the new CD, you'll need to see this show.

Also, today the band released a double live CD of last years' leg, called Snakes & Arrows live. It's a great representation of the tour, and a good peek into what they are doing right now.

Here is a video of the band's opening song from Puerto Rico last Friday. The intro video is pretty funny if you can follow it. Enjoy.

KISS Is A Tribute Band Rip Off?

Some fans feel like the current KISS lineup is a big rip off.

You have original founding members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley touring with two replacements in Ace Frehley and Peter Criss’ makeup and outfits. The fact that they are much better musicians than Ace or Peter and that this lineup is actually pretty ripping is besides the point.

Some fans feel that it’s a sham – essentially a KISS tribute band. And that many fans don’t really know any better, so it’s also a bit of a lie.

I have been on the fence. I saw the current lineup on its last trip to town and I have to say, the new guys make the band much better musically. And they were able to pull out a lot of older songs that the original group possibly couldn’t or wouldn’t tackle, including material from the post-makeup albums. Most of which stink, but there are some gems.

I mean, what makes this any different than going to see Roger Waters do Pink Floyd songs with a full backup band? I guess it’s that attendees KNOW they are not seeing the real Floyd. I am not so sure the same can be said about KISS, due to the makeup, big show, etc.

There is also the fact that Stanley and Simmons are whores anyway, and will milk as much money out of the KISS franchise as they can. Nothing wrong with that, unless it smacks of dishonesty. Now they have Ace clone Tommy Thayer (great player, don’t get me wrong) singing Shock Me – Ace’s big song. I wonder how long it will be before Tommy’s guitar smokes – Ace’s trademark. And will anyone know the difference? Will they know it’s an imposter behind that smoking guitar? Will they care?

News yesterday from an interview with Peter Criss clone Eric Singer discloses that this new lineup is re-recording old KISS songs to “get around some copyright issues.” That just seems flat out bogus to me. Note that the version of the interview on KISS' official Web site has that bit of news edited out.

But the people speak the loudest. And KISS’ current European tour is selling out faster than the reunion tour did more than ten years ago. If people were really that upset (myself included) they would stop lining Stanley and Simmons’ pockets.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Play the "Who Is Older" Game

Is the below a photo of Paul Stanley and his dad?

Nope. It's Paul and Aerosmith's Brad Whitford at a recent Paul Stanley art show.

Now, which guy is older? (Don't cheat by looking it up on Wikipedia). Think about it. Look at the photo again. Got your answer yet?

Well, I'll tell ya. It's Paul Stanley, by a month. Paul was born January 20, 1952, and Brad Whitford on February 23 of the same year. Whew! They are both 56 years old.

Bonus questions - which guy did more drugs? Which guy had more plastic surgery?

Asia Live Via the Web - Tomorrow Night

I have been bitching that due to weird tour routing and open heart surgery procedures, Asia have continually missed bringing its reunion tour to the Northwest. And with the apparent imminent return of Yes later this year, who knows what the status of Asia will be?

So I guess the next best thing is this live Web performance happening tomorrow night at 8 PM Eastern Time.

The Web stream will come live from Asia's performance at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York.

They have even re-jiggered their Web site to prep for it.

They promise some behind the scenes clips. Hopefully one will be of Wetton doubling down at the casino tables, or of Downes jumping on the bar stage for a Karaoke "Video Killed The Radio Star."

Anyway, this might be kind of fun. I might try to catch the first part of this near the end of my work day.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Rutles - It Was 30 Years Ago

Long before Beatallica, there were The Rutles.

30 years ago, Eric Idle of Monty Python and a group of similarly funny blokes put together a send-up of The Beatles, called The Rutles. Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels got wind of it and put the money behind the idea, resulting in the classic movie All You Need Is Cash.

If you haven't seen the movie, find it and watch it - it's hilarious. Loads of great cameos, including George Harrison.

The pre-fab four got back together last month to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the movie. Of course, it's not the first re-grouping. They put out the inferior Archaeology CD a few years ago.

There were some articles and interviews around the anniversary. Good ones here and here.

And from the original movie, check out these classic scenes:

Monday, April 07, 2008

Bob Dylan Wins A Pulitzer

Kind of cool news today. From the Herald-Sun:

Legendary musician and folk icon Bob Dylan was handed a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize board today, following in the footsteps of fellow musicians Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.

Dylan was honoured with the special citation for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power", the board said, announcing the winners.

The board, which normally concentrates on US print journalism, does not make special citations every year but has in the past recognised Theodor Seuss Geisel, the writer of the Dr Seuss books, and author Ray Bradbury.

Jazz musicians Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane were both mentioned posthumously, in 2006 and 2007.

The award had nothing directly to do with his book Chronicles, which I reviewed in October.

Neil Young Flash Forward

I had a lot of great comments and emails from last week's post of Neil Young's face melting SNL performance.

Somewhere over the last fifteen or so years I stopped following what Neil was up to. That obviously didn't stop him. Below is a clip from last month in England. Man, did he get old.

But you be the judge - can he still melt faces?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

MySpace to Compete with iTunes

According to the Wall Street Journal, MySpace is going to try and weave an iTunes competitor digital music service into its ubiquitous social networking presence.

Think about it - you go your favorite artist's MySpace page and from there you can buy their music digitally instead of having to move over to iTunes or

It's a nice idea. Read the whole article here.

It's all going to come down to the user experience. I have been buying more and more digital music at Amazon, simply because I got a nice gift certificate and wanted to try it out.

I gotta say, it's not as nice of an experience.

Now that I have it up and running, it's great. The music offered by's digital music store is generally less expensive and the downloads go automatically into my iTunes desktop, which is key.

But it's not as elegant as iTunes. It's harder to search for and locate what I am looking for but I eventually get there. Will that make me pay more money by shopping at iTunes once my gift certificate runs out? I doubt it.

But for MySpace to pull it off, they are going to have to make it easy and dare I say fun to compete with iTunes.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Paul McCartney - Heather Mills Water Sports

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I have stayed out of the whole Paul McCartney/Heather Mills divorce thing.

But I just had to post this fantastic piece of programming.

The game, named "Mucca Chucka," involves players playing the part of Heather Mills.

Points are scored by throwing virtual water over depictions of Sir Paul McCartney and his lawyer, Fiona Shackleton, in scenes echoing the incident in which Mills threw water over Shackleton in court following Mills being awarded $48 million of McCartney's fortune.

Points are deducted on the Mucca Chucka game if a player hits a depiction of a judge by mistake. The more points a player scores, the more of Sir Paul McCartney's money the player wins.

Knock yourselves out!

Radiohead Does It Again

Got an email from Radiohead's reps (probably because I bought their album In Rainbows when they were giving it away for whatever I wanted to pay for it).

The email said I could now purchase the Radiohead song Nude in chunks and mix it myself. Specifically, the email said:

For those of you who enjoy this sort of thing, you can buy the separate components or 'stems' (bass, voice, guitar, strings/FX and drums) and remix your own version of the song. You can do this by adding your own beats and instrumentation or just remixing the original parts. More information here, and buy the stems here.

You can upload your finished mixes
here and be judged and even voted on by 'the public.' You can also create a widget allowing votes from your own Web site, Facebook or MySpace page to be sent through too.

What a great idea. Reminds me of how Neil Peart has made some of his raw drum parts available on his site, without any backing parts.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Alex Lifeson - One Generous Dude

Stumbled on this gem from Seems that at the recent NAMM show, amp manufacturer Hughes & Kettner had one of their signature Alex Lifeson TriAmps on display.

According to the post, One young fan named Zack Tabori asked if he could play it and proceeded to skillfully jam out some Rush licks. He so thoroughly impressed the Hughes & Kettner representatives there that they took down his contact info and planned to have Alex send him an autographed picture and some tickets to a show. Alex decided to one-up that offer and just give him one of his amps from the tour instead!

The whole story is captured in this video at the Hughes & Kettner site. What a cool dude!

In other Alex Lifeson news, in an interview with Billboard Magazine, Lifeson doles out this nugget regarding this summer's tour:

"We thought we should maybe revisit some older songs we're not playing currently or haven't been in the last little while. So we changed out a few songs in the set. We're gonna keep it loose and maybe kind of bounce back and forth." Lifeson says the group frequently gets fan requests for specific material. "We see 'Camera Eye' come up quite often, 'Jacob's Ladder' and some of the longer songs like that from our mid-period," he says.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fools Joke? Sadly, No

I have had CNN as my Internet browser start page for a year or so, but just switched it to Google News, because I have noticed over the last few months a tendency for to run National Enquirer-esque stories such as the following:

--Denied exit, child uses lunch box as toilet
--Woman, 66, nabs chicken store robber
--'Crying' Virgin Mary statue draws faithful
--Disfigured woman who wanted euthanasia dies
--Elderly man shown driving car into crowd
--Bitten while on toilet, woman drowns rat
--Boy, 4, wastes away to 10 lbs.; mom held
--Kids' root beer kegger brings cops

This is probably driven by reader preference, which is just as lame. For me, I am opting out.