Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pete Townshend Windmill Contest

The Who are giving away a Strat signed by Pete Townshend to the person who submits the best 30 second video of them doing a Pete Townshend windmill (that was BOWLING...). Contest details here.

The contest ended Sunday and I had been getting emails about it for a few weeks but blew them all off.

I kind of wish I had entered, as there are many lame entries and I could have been a contender! But there are a few great ones too. I like the ones below, especially the guy who drew blood. I think there should be a rule for this that if you don't draw blood, you are disqualified.

When I was 13 or 14, I was doing windmills in my room (playing to either Who Are You or live Won't Get Fooled Again from the Kids Are Alright soundtrack) and my hand hit the glass light fixture cover on the ceiling. It came crashing down and shattered everywhere. My mom ran in and said what happened, are you hurt? I said No and looked at my hand, which was covered with blood. I wish I had a video of THAT!

Here is the man himself, from a recent tour. Note how he almost certainly has wounded himself doing this. When Townshend does the windmills, his nails go flying. He bleeds. It's real, not some bullshit stage move. Dig it:

There were tons of lame submissions. Here are a few cool ones:

I like how this guy even put the number on the guitar and even looks like a young Pete (and he bleeds too):

This guys has all the moves down and likely hurt himself. Good man.

Love how this guy used a real gig. Band doesn't sound too smoking but I dig how he is throwing windmills all over the place in LA Woman!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Neil Young and Paul McCartney Go Apeshit

I am really not sure what to say about this, except that even though it doesn't sound that great, make sure to watch all the way to the end. The last two minutes are the payoff.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson Death Brings Down The Internet

You would have had to have been off the grid hiking in the Appalachians or hooking up with your Argentinian mistress if you had not heard that Michael Jackson the "king of pop" died yesterday of heart failure.

I was never a big fan, so this news isn't devastating me like it would if this were, say Neil Young or Geddy Lee. I mean, Jackson hasn't really been significantly creatively active in the last couple of decades if I recall, and that whole pedophile thing doesn't sit too well.

But I am clearly in the minority on this, and I fully expect to be inundated by Michael Jackson for the next few weeks. I am ready. Bring it on.

The one interesting side-product tidbit is that so many people were freaking out about Jackson's death yesterday that the Internet almost ground to a halt.

Gotta give the guy some credit for being that big of a deal to that many people. CNN posted a comprehensive story on what happened here. Excerpt:

"Between approximately 2:40 p.m. PDT and 3:15 p.m. PDT today, some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results for queries related to Michael Jackson," a Google spokesman told CNET, which also reported that Google News users complained that the service was inaccessible for a time. At its peak, Google Trends rated the Jackson story as "volcanic."

As sites fell, users raced to other sites: TechCrunch reported that TMZ, which broke the story, had several outages; users then switched to Perez Hilton's blog, which also struggled to deal with the requests it received.

CNN reported a fivefold rise in traffic and visitors in just over an hour, receiving 20 million page views in the hour the story broke.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Van Halen Guitar Hero Discludes Michael Anthony

They say that in war, the winners write history. In rock and roll, the most recent example of this is certainly Eddie Van Halen, who not only is trying to get his version of Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony's departures from the band set in stone. He is now trying to delete their very existence in the band's history.

When Van Halen's son Wolfgang took over bass duties from Anthony on the recent reunion tour, some of the band's artwork was altered on the VH Web site - Anthony was actually airbrushed out of the covers from some of VH's first releases.

Now, Hagar and Anthony won't be represented in the VH Guitar Hero video game. According to Rolling Stone, the trailer was previewed at the recent E3 Expo, and follow up reports confirmed that Wolfgang will be your VH bass player if you want to play the game.

No reports yet if any Hagar-era songs will even be IN the game. But I doubt it.

Which would be a shame. The band has a great history, being hugely successful TWICE, with the different singers. I don't think they would (or should) put out a Guitar Hero - The Hagar Years. But come on, Ed, own up to your history and do it right.

Some folks may want to jam out to Summer Nights as much as to Jamie's Crying. Wait...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New KISS Album to Rock, Out of WalMart?

Paul Stanley reports from the band's Web that the new KISS album "rocks big time," and should be out in Sept/Oct.

Stanley said:

We’re about four days from finishing the new Kiss album. Eleven tracks, and it is everything I’ve told you. It is classic. It is all written within the band. And it rocks big time!

Tommy [Thayer, guitar] and Eric (Singer, drums] both handle lead vocals. The songs, sound and playing will knock your socks off. You will all be as proud and excited as we all are. Oh…and WAIT till you see the cover!

Regarding that cover, Michael Doret, who designed the 1977 cover for Rock and Roll Over, has been tapped to do the new one, according to this recent interview:

You said you drew your inspiration (for the KISS cover) from a job for a (Japanese) magazine cover, IDEA. Where did you get your inspiration for that cover?

The magazine was doing a feature on my work and they asked me to come up with a cover for that issue. I did the cover image to look like a shooting gallery. So the inspiration probably goes all the way back to Coney Island—but the direct inspiration was also vintage tin toys and tin litho target games. Anyway I did the IDEA cover first and the whole KISS / Rock and Roll Over thing came afterward. I loved the way the IDEA cover came out, the way I had them print it in Pantone colors—it almost felt like a silkscreen. I really wanted to go that route again. As the members of KISS were wearing Kabuki-style makeup, the Japanese-y approach I did on the IDEA cover seemed a perfect match. So I came up with that graphic and used a similar color scheme and look. We even did it in five flat colors—not in 4 color process.

(The KISS cover) was like a shooting gallery then?

Not at all. It turned out to be more like a mandala, more Asian-influenced. I was just going for the look I had come up with on that other cover. The visual theme I chose came out of the album’s name, the “Rollover” thing. There was no “right side up” to that cover…An interesting side-note is that after all these years since I did that work for KISS, they’ve come back to me and asked me to design their next CD cover. It’s a big project, and at the moment, I’m totally immersed in it.

And photographer Ross Halfin, who has worked with KISS in the past, posted to his diary recently:

"Fathers Day today - spent it at the pool. The Love Gun Paul Stanley was at the hotel for lunch with his family. Jimmy and I chatted with him and his son Evan. Paul showed me the new Kiss album cover on his iphone and I'm still not saying what it's called, but it's old school Kiss..."

Other reports indicate that the band's new album will follow The Eagles, AC/DC and others by being available exclusively at WalMart.

According to Rolling Stone:

However, when Kiss do release their new album, it will apparently be a Walmart exclusive. Simmons revealed the news to an unlikely source — actress Denise Richards — during a Sirius XM visit. The promotional blitz will include Walmart dedicating an area of their stores to the band and dubbing it “Kiss Korner,” Simmons told Richards in the video posted at Blabbermouth. Rumors of a deal along the lines of AC/DC’s massively successful exclusive with the retail giant first emerged after Simmons and Stanley attended an Arkansas Walmart shareholders meeting on June 5th.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Porcupine Tree Album Details Released

According to ClassicRock.com, Porcupine Tree's upcoming 10th studio album, a double CD, is called The Incident and will be released September 21.

According to the story, the CD centerpiece is the 55 minute title track, which takes up one of the two CDs. The other CD contains four stand alone tracks written by the band last December.

From the story, the title track is “a slightly surreal song cycle about beginnings and endings and the sense that ‘after this, things will never be the same again’.”

The seeds of the idea that led to The Incident came to Wilson as he became caught up in a motorway traffic jam whilst driving past a road accident.

“There was a sign saying ‘POLICE – INCIDENT’ and everyone was slowing down to rubber neck to see what had happened,” he recalls.

“Afterwards, it struck me that ‘incident’ is a very detached word for something so destructive and traumatic for the people involved. And then I had the sensation that the spirit of someone that had died in the car accident entered into my car and was sitting next to me.”

“The irony of such a cold expression for such seismic events appealed to me, and I began to pick out other ‘incidents’ reported in the media and news,” continues Wilson.

“I wrote about the evacuation of teenage girls from a religious cult in Texas, a family terrorising its neighbours, a body found floating in a river by some people on a fishing trip, and more. Each song is written in the first person and tries to humanize the detached media reportage.”

The band put up a video from the studio that doesn't reveal too much but is still kind of cool:

And here is a video from a couple of albums ago of a song I find really cool. The video ain't bad either:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Alice Video Freaks Me Out

Not to get too deep into my past but at a younger phase I tried... ahem... psychedelic substances. Hey, I was in a band in San Francisco and that was something you just did. Anyway, someone on Twitter forwarded this video and I have to say, I feel like I am back in Golden Gate Park watching the trees melt.

This is made up of actual samples from the Disney movie Alice In Wonderland. A miracle Disney's lawyers haven't shut this down, but maybe they are all tripping on it too. I can't imagine how much trouble it must have been to create the audio, much less sync it to video. Some people have waaaaay too much time on their hands.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CD Review - Chickenfoot

I bought the new Chickenfoot CD partly because I liked the sound clips found in the YouTube montage fellow blogger Dr John posted. And partly because I wanted to check out the neato disappearing black ink packaging (it is very cool).

But I have been surprised at how strong an album this is, if you like guitar-based rock and roll (and who doesn't?). Right out of the gate, the first song Avenida Revolucion sets the stage for what you get on this CD. Namely, lots of shredding guitar and screamy Sammy Hagar vocals to a super solid backbeat.

But despite my initial impression, this is not a Van Halen soundalike band.

Some of Hagar's vocal approach leans on the Van Halen years but for the most part his work is standing on its own. And he mostly avoids the VH cliche vocal breakdowns "Come on fellas..." Instead, he goes into Jim Morrison-esque spoken word passages a couple of times.

Hagar is also kind of restrained with the 'party and hump chicks' lyrics, but let's be honest - it's a "good time" album, lyric-wise. As usual, Hagar's voice is in fine form and he delivers like you'd expect.

And yeah Satriani owes a lot to EVH, but he has taken the style into different areas. Truthfully, he is pretty restrained on this release. Oh yeah, it's shredaliscious, but only where it needs to be. The rest of the time, he plays some great tasty licks. I hear some Stevie Ray in there, and even his peers Neal Schon and Eric Johnson too. Overall his guitar tones are punchy and present. 

I don't have a lot of Satriani's stuff, because I stayed away from the shredding thing back in the 80s. But he really shines in a group context and is this band's secret weapon. Very impressive.

The songs are mostly based around interesting, sometimes heavy rock riffs. In fact, I hear almost as much Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page on this CD as I do EVH. You just know that Satriani brought in kick ass riffs, to which Hagar laid down catchy rock and roll vocals and everyone said 'Yeah!" 

The other great element is the rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Chad Smith. I have never liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers and always thought they were amazingly overrated (still do). But I have to admit that I am now a very big fan of Chad Smith, who lays down behind-the-beat grooves with just the right amount of Bonham fills. And Michael Anthony is right there doubling the complex licks (unless Satriani did the bass lines too).

I always hated how the Van Hagar era production always buried Anthony's bass. But it's very present on this CD, which helps it kick along.

Of course when Anthony sings back-up, we get that Van Hagar vocal sound, which is great. But I rarely thought the band sounded anything like Van Halen. To me, they are a kick ass hard rock band made up of very skilled musicians who are clearly clicking. I'd give this an 8.5 out of 10 and would recommend getting it if you dig any of these guys' former bands.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

DVD Review - Iron Maiden Flight 666

Despite the Iron Maiden Flight 666 filmmaker's contention that Iron Maiden is a private group who hasn't granted behind the scenes access to film crews, I feel like the band has released a number of excellent documentaries.

My favorite being Iron Maiden: The Early Days, and the Classic Album series episode on the making of the Number of the Beast.

But I have a new favorite, and (wait for it)...it's Iron Maiden Flight 666. This nearly two hour film documents the first leg of the band's 2008 worldwide tour bringing the rich Powerslave era show to 5 different continents over a month and a half via the band's plane, Ed Force One. Piloted by singer Bruce Dickinson.

There a few unique angles here. It is the first time any tour has combined the band, crew and gear on one vehicle (the plane) for travel. Usually the band and crew travel separately, mostly for logistical reasons.

And I am pretty sure it's the first time the lead singer flew the plane...

Putting the tour together this way enabled the band to visit countries it had never (or rarely) played in, like India, Costa Rica and Argentina. In the film, Dickinson says they told the booking guy to string together all the countries that the accountants have always said they couldn't play, because they were too out of the way and would therefore cost too much.

The story of how the tour went from a crazy idea to reality is really interesting.

But then there is the whole story of how fanatical the fans in these countries are. Especially India, Central and South America, who don't get a lot of big name touring bands rolling through. These fans go absolutely bugshit and the live scenes from these shows are unreal. A bonus DVD has a complete concert from the tour. But each song is filmed in a different country. People love their Maiden and it's an emotional watch.

There is some behind the scenes stuff too, like what the guys do on their rare days off (golf, tennis and soccer), and there are short segments on each band member, as told by their bandmates. And the obligatory, "Iron Maiden has sold more than 70 million albums with no radio or TV support, blah blah."

If you are a fan of Maiden, rock, or even just rock documentaries, this is a must-add to your collection.

Scream for me, Santiago!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chickenfoot Montage

So, I didn't even know it was out but the new Chickenfoot album is apparently available. Fellow blogger Dr John reviewed it and gave it 7 out of 10 stars. He posted the below montage video of songs. Some good moments. I may pick it up.

The one thing that strikes me is that the Hagar-Anthony vocals are so "Van Halen." Michael Anthony's sky high harmonies are as big a part of the band as Eddie's guitar work. Well, maybe not, but they are pretty damn important. You really do have half of Van Halen here - pretty cool.

Satriani and drummer Chad Smith sound great. Looks like a cool band. What do you think?

Oh, and if you go buy the actual CD, the packaging is something very different - it's heat sensitive. According to the band's site:

The ink reacts to heat and changes it’s appearance above and below 84ºF /29ºC. For example; If the package is at a general room temperature (around 73ºF) and is touched by a warm body part (above 84ºF) the ink will appear transparent at the point of contact. Once the surface of the ink returns to a cooler temperature (below 84ºF) it will return to it’s original opaque black color.

(Techie Fact) When you touch the thermo ink, you are literally moving millions of protons. This patented technology works by mastering the movement of a proton – essentially disconnecting and reattaching protons to turn colors “on” and “off."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Spinal Tap Official Widget

Monday, June 01, 2009

First Look: Beatles Rock Band Video

Here is the first look trailer of the Beatles Rock Band game, due on Sept 9, as unveiled today by Paul and Ringo at Microshit's E3 conference. It looks pretty flipping epic.

According to an article on PaidContent.org, "The 45 tracks bundled in The Beatles: Rock Band include I Saw Her Standing There, Day Tripper and I Want To Hold Your Hand; players will be able to download other songs on Xbox Live, of course, including the entire Abbey Road album. There’s even a charity angle: all sales of the track All You Need Is Love will be donated to Doctors Without Borders."

I just hope it will work on the Wii...

Ozzy the Dumb Ass Sues Tony Iommi

This has Sharon Osbourne written all over it. According to the Associated Press, Ozzy is suing Tony Iommi, who owns the Black Sabbath name, for 50 percent ownership of same name.

Check out Sharon's full statement:

“It is with great regret that I had to resort to legal action against my long term partner, Tony Iommi, but after three years of trying to resolve this issue amicably, I feel I have no other recourse. As of the mid-1990’s, after constant and numerous changes in band members, the brand of "Black Sabbath" was literally in the toilet and Tony Iommi (touring under the name Black Sabbath) was reduced to performing in clubs. Since 1997 when Geezer, Bill and myself rejoined the band, Black Sabbath has returned to its former glory as we headlined sold-out arenas and amphitheatres playing to upwards of 50,000 people at each show around the world. We worked collectively to restore credibility and bring dignity back to the name “Black Sabbath” which lead to the band being inducted into the UK and US Rock & Roll Hall of Fames in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Throughout the last 12 years, it was my management representatives who oversaw the marketing and quality control of the “Black Sabbath” brand through OZZFEST, touring, merchandising and album reissues. The name "Black Sabbath" now has a worldwide prestige and merchandising value that it would not have had by continuing on the road it was on prior to the 1997 reunion tour. Tony, I am so sorry it’s had to get to this point by me having to take this action against you. I don’t have the right to speak for Geezer and Bill, but I feel that morally and ethically the trademark should be owned by the four of us equally. I hope that by me taking this first step that it will ultimately end up that way. We’ve all worked too hard and long in our careers to allow you to sell merchandise that features all our faces, old Black Sabbath album covers and band logos, and then you tell us that you own the copyright. We’re all in our 60’s now. The Black Sabbath legacy should live on long after we have all gone. Please do the right thing.”

Ooops, I meant Ozzy's statement.

Here is my take - I agree that Ozzy injected new life into the band when the original four Sabbath members reunited. I am sure he was paid very well on those tours. But here's the thing. I saw Sabbath with Ozzy a few years ago and they sucked. Well, Ozzy sucked. I was even impressed with Bill Ward - but Ozzy couldn't hack it. They did the same old songs they had been doing the last bunch of tours. Ozzy's voice went out and he threw the mic to the ground and stormed offstage. It was sad, actually.

Fast forward a few years. The band is touring with Dio, who is singing better than ever. Not only did they write three strong songs for a Dio retrospective CD set, they have a brand new album, which is not the greatest but at least they have a brand new album! According to Iommi, had they been trying to do an album with Ozzy, they wouldn't even have written the first song yet.

The new album, which goes by the name Heaven and Hell, by the way - not Black Sabbath - debuted at number 8 on the Billboard charts.

So of course Sharon is bitter and wants a piece of the pie. From reading Rudy Sarzo's book, she has always been this way, trying to get Ozzy to put out Speak of the Devil - a live album of Sabbath covers - before the real Sabbath could put out the Dio-fronted Live Evil.

Just get back to your reality shows, Sharon, and quit trying to roll Ozzy out on more tours. Let the man rest. And give credit where credit is due. I contend that if Iommi had skipped the Ozzy reunion and went right back to working with Dio in 1997, they'd be as big as ever.