Thursday, October 30, 2008

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

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

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

From the station's Wikipedia entry:

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

Floydian Slips to Rock Portland on Halloween

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tina Fey on Conan O'Brien

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

Part One

Part Two

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

AC/DC Bust Out Classics At Public Dress Rehearsal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 24, 2008

Merl Saunders Dies at 74

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

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

But I have a personal Merl story to share.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get Ready for a Heavy Metal X-Mas

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

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

Toto? Yeah, I wondered about that too.

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

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

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

Ah yes, and here is the ad:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sarah Palin On SNL

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

Friday, October 17, 2008

Letterman Grills McCain

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

For a complete transcript of the interview, go here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rolling Stone Has Format Makeover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chris Squire and Steve Hackett to team Up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 13, 2008

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

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

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

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

As reported today by the NME:

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

CD Review - David Gilmour Live In Gdańsk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Gavin Harrison - Porcupine Tree's Secret Weapon

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

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


Monday, October 06, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3rd Time's a Charm - SNL Debate Parody

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

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Robert Plant Says No Way to Zeppelin Reunion

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

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

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

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

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

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