Monday, March 30, 2009

Czech Leader Taps Highway to Hell in Obama Speech

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek saw AC/DC when the band played Prague last week, and had one of the band's biggest tunes rolling around in his head when he diverted from a prepared statement about Obama's stimulus package.

According to the New York Times, instead of saying Obama's stimulus package would lead "the way to destruction" he used the phrase 'road to hell.'

According to the story, "AC/DC played here last week," Topolanek told the daily Lidové Noviny. "And their cult song Highway to Hell might have led me in that very improvised speech to use the phrase..."

Czech translator Petr Bilek said citing "hell" is not a big deal for Czechs in a speech like this:

Mr. Bilek suggests that this is in part “because American society is influenced by Christianity,” while Czechs are well-known for their atheism. A European Commission poll in 2005 (available as a .pdf) found that only 19% of Czechs say they believe in god, and a third identify themselves as atheists. So, Mr. Bilek told the Prague newspaper, “while for many Americans hell is truly a horrifying concept, Czechs don’t make such a big deal out of it.”

I wish politicians would whip out heavy metal lines in their speeches more frequently. Wouldn't it have been great if Bush had said "we're screaming for vengeance and we'll have those pesky Taliban dazed and confused after we make 'em run to the hills. If you think I am wrong, you've got another thing coming!"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

3/4 of Soundgarden Reunite Last Night in Seattle

MTV News reports today that Soundgarden minus Chris Cornell reunited for the first time since 1997 at the Crocodile Cafe (small place!) in Seattle last night. It was the Seattle stop on guitar wizard Tom Morello's Justice Tour. Interesting, as Cornell and Morello were in Audioslave!

But Cornell is on the road promoting his very odd new solo album. Who knows if he would have been there if he could have?

The article winds up:

After the show, when asked how he thought it went, [guitarist] Thayil reportedly said, "Not bad for an hour and a half of practice after not playing together for 12 years. ... It was a lot of fun. We played yesterday for a bit but we know all that stuff by heart so we didn't need to practice much."

The poorly kept secret was widely documented by a number of Seattle scenesters, showing up almost instantly in Flickr photostreams and a set of poor-quality MP3s and videos on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog site.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Three Stooges Movie Coming - Penn, Del Toro and Carrey to Star?

I love the Three Stooges. I grew up on the trio's short films playing on Saturday morning TV as a kid. I always rooted for Curly episodes, but grew to love Shemp and mildly tolerate Joe. Frankly, my favorite was always Larry.

I recently found that after years of horrible, edited, out of sequence video releases, Sony has digitally restored all of the films and has been releasing them in chronological order. I scored the first two DVD sets and watched a handful with my fellow Stooge fanatic brother while he visited this weekend, and with my 9 and 11 year old boys.

I have to say, those films are still funny as hell and the quality is stunning. Sony really did a nice job on the remasters. Check out the first DVD here. So far, five volumes have been issued, spanning 1934 to 1948. 

There are loads of episodes that have never been released to DVD and these five sets chronicle the whole Curly era and the beginning of Shemp's, when he replaced Curly after Curly had a debilitating stroke. (Shemp, Curly and Moe were brothers, by the way)

So, on to the reason for this post. Variety reported today about the long-planned Three Stooges movie to be produced by the Farrelly brothers, saying MGM will put the movie out and the following are the choices for the cast, pending negotiations: Sean Penn as Larry, Benicio delToro as Moe and Jim Carrey as Curly. Carrey reportedly plans on gaining 40 pounds to play Curly. Interesting choices. Sean Penn? Really? Could work...

Read the story here.

The LA Times already chimed in with a fairly skeptical take on the project and the casting. The writer makes a good point that Seth Rogen could do a great Larry, and Robert Downey Jr. would make a great Moe!

But whatever the case I hope Stooge Mania ensues. It is long overdue and a new generation of Stooge fans needs to emerge. Enjoy this little clip to stoke the fires:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Heaven and Hell Album Art Revealed

OK, here is a nice little image to get your week off to a positive start. Heaven and Hell (Dio-era Black Sabbath) will release its new album The Devil You Know on on April 28.

According to recent news reports, guitarist Tony Iommi said, "It was good to play [the new songs] live in the studio. It keeps you on edge." Bassist Geezer Butler added, "We've learned from the past that you can kill a song doing it over and over. The first Sabbath albums were done in two or three days. Technically they weren't great, but vibe-wise they were great. If you capture that feeling, that's all you need."

The album cover makes Mob Rules look like an image from a children's book. Behold! And have a nice day...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Paul Rodgers/Bad Company to Tour?

Adding more fuel to the rumor that the Queen + Paul Rodgers thing is over, a one-line blurb on the official Bad Company Web site simply says "Just announced: Bad Company to tour in 2009!"

I would certainly see this show. 3/4 of the original band (including guitarist Mick Ralphs), and Rodgers' voice is as strong as ever. Bad Company had so many great songs. This one is a winner if it happens.

Excuse the outfits and dig the rawness of this awesome version. Too bad late bassist Boz Burrell won't be able to grace this reunion.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Digital Music Robs Listeners of Album Artwork

My buddy at work who writes a metal column for has written another good one. 

The latest article is a long tome about how the move from vinyl to CDs to purely digital is a death knell for album artwork.

Justin suggests that it is a far greater loss to the metal genre, because metal bands leverage album artwork, inserts, posters, logos etc to help create an overall image of the band and to give the music a powerful visual not found in other music forms (like country for example).

I'd tend to agree with him but I think the loss cuts across every genre. He interviews a number of metal artists that back up his belief, for example King Diamond, who says:

“If I got a new album, especially in the old days, I would study that thing before I even put it on,” Diamond says. “It just created the atmosphere of the music to come. You could get into a certain mood before the album. It was created with the lyrics and the artwork. That’s still what we’re trying to do with CDs.”

I certainly did that. I remember poring over every Rush and Iron Maiden album cover, looking for little things the artists included, like a figure in a window or a hidden image. Hell, my friend Kevin and I decrypted the bizarre writing that was all over Ozzy Osbourne's Speak of the Devil album. I have no idea how we did it, but we did it, and it took a while.

These experiences are lost to today's generation who is now used to just grabbing digital songs off of iTunes. It's too bad.

Even Paul Stanley gets into the discussion in an AM New York article about the resurgence of vinyl. He says:

“The beauty in buying an LP used to be you got a package, a piece of art — something that someone worked hard on to make it creative, dynamic and interesting to look at it and maybe to put on your wall,” Stanley said. “And now with CDs, all you can see is someone’s name. In that way I miss it.”

Take the time to read Justin's article here, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

GE Ad Campaign Lets You Merge Real/Digital Worlds

Sucked you in with that horrible headline, huh?

Turns out that a new GE ad campaign encourages you to print out an image and hold it up to your computer's Web cam, at which time the computer renders a rotatable 3D image from the printed image you are holding. I have yet to try it yet but it looks hella cool. This dude explains it much better:

If anyone pulls this off, let me know how it went!

Update - Just tried it on my iMac. Very neat. All you need can be accessed here.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Who The F*** Are YOU?

My two year old had a pretty bad earache recently and to keep him content (taking his mind off of the pain) I let him sit on my lap and watch various kid appropriate YouTube songs. We enjoyed The Wiggles fruit salad song, various versions of Wheels on the Bus and even some Barney.

Yeah, I was about to pull my head off. But just when I was about to crack one open, we stumbled on a familiar voice. Lo and behold, it even showed the dude in the studio laying it down. It was so reminiscent (visually only) of a video I have seen probably 100 times starting in high school that I had to laugh at the before and after.

Here it is for you to enjoy as well:

The before:

The after:

Oh and this one killed me. Get this one started so you can hear the music and then scroll to the comment posted by 'fordblowz.'

Friday, March 06, 2009

CD Review - U2 No Line On The Horizon

I got an email this week telling me I could buy the MP3 version of the new U2 album, No Line on the Horizon, for $3.99 at Are you kidding me? I spend more than that on parking. So of course I went and hit ‘buy’ and have been listening this week.

There has been loads of hype around this album and frankly I have been really busy and have not paid much attention. I missed the band on Letterman all week, and I have not read the Rolling Stone cover story that arrived in the mail (Bono is wearing eye makeup on the cover photo that makes him look like he had a lobotomy. Is that why he wears the shades all the time?). I don’t know what the ‘single’ is, and I have not watched any of the new videos. So I am hearing this with untainted ears.

I also think they will have a hard time topping All That You Can’t Leave Behind, which is my all time favorite U2 album hands down. Sonically, performance wise and songwriting wise, they set a very high bar for themselves.

On first listen to No Line On The Horizon, I thought the first two songs were OK but nothing special. Then I hit the 7 plus minute Moment of Surrender, which is a slow, slinky tune that has a bit of a gospel feel, some fantastic slide guitar work from Edge and a vocal melody that reminds me of another song – Stones, Dylan, Neil Young? It’ll come to me. From this song on, I was engaged. And then on the next listen I got more into the first two songs.

Speaking of Neil, Edge lays down an interesting outro solo in Unknown Caller that sounds like he is channeling Neil – he pulls the notes from the guitar and branches out from his usual, chiming simple solo style. Get On Your Boots sounds like a return to the band’s techno experiment phase, except the main riff is a grungy, groovy thing. Someone gave Adam Clayton a fuzz box – sounds great! Stand Up Comedy is as catchy and funky as U2 gets. Not sure if this is the ‘hit’ but it should be! Great line in there too – “Be careful of small men with big ideas.” Indeed.

What is with all the vocal harmonies on this album? That is kind of a cool departure. Check Get On Your Boots On for the best example but it happens in Moment of Surrender, Fez – Being Born, Breathe and Cedars of Lebanon as well. Not sure I have heard such a rich vocal harmony sound on a U2 album.

And I have to say, Edge’s guitars sound as good as ever on this one. The dude has so many tools in the arsenal, from the smooth, almost jazzy picked chords in Cedars of Lebanon; grainy razor slide guitar; the rocking chunk of Magnificent; and of course the jangly, echo and delay drenched textures we all know Edge for throughout.

The band provides a really healthy balance between funky rhythms/distorted slide guitar and the moody, ethereal stuff I most associate with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno (a la Unforgettable Fire).

I can already tell that this album is going to grow on me. If you are fan of the band, shell out your $4 at while the offer lasts.

One other thing. After all the verses on the title track, Bono belts out “ah woa-oh-oh-ohie” right off of a 70s KISS album. Bono channeling Paul Stanley? You make the call...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ace Records Old School, other KISS Tidbits

I love this. Ace Frehley has posted a brief video on his Web site of him recording the guitar solo on a new tune at his home studio.

I took great interest in this, as I have been recording a fair amount lately as well (at a very modest home studio!), using everything from a Line 6 amp simulator plugged right into the computer to mic'ing my Fender Blues Deluxe in the closet, for isolation.

But here is Ace in all of his glory, blasting through a full Marshall stack, studio monitors blazing away!

He still has that Ace swagger (stagger?) and looks like he might fall over. But I gotta say, the lead he rips is pretty fine and until the singing comes back in, the song he's working on also sounds like classic Ace.

And speaking of KISS records, ClassicRockMagazine posted a pretty good opinion piece on the notion of a new KISS album, which is reportedly being recorded as we speak.

And on a side note, Gene Simmons posted a response to a letter on his site that he is close to releasing a multi-disc solo box set. I am setting aside my pennies already (not).

Back to the Ace video. Enjoy:

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Spinal Tap Unplugged? Kind Of...

I got an email today advertising a ticket pre-sale for something called Unplugged and Unwigged. On further examination, this is a 30-city acoustic tour by Harry Shearer, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest, the three actors/comedians who are the core of both Spinal Tap and The Folksmen from A Mighty Wind.

I guess they are going to get on acoustic guitars and play Tap and Folksmen tunes and talk about the movies, crack jokes etc. I imagine the Folksmen stuff will translate better to acoustic instruments than the Spinal Tap material!

Still, it sounds intriguing and is certainly a different idea. From the official Web site:

UNWIGGED & UNPLUGGED is not about funny costumes and characters, but rather three long time friends and collaborators who make each laugh and love nothing better than to find some excuse to get together and play music. The trio commented, “With this being the 25th Anniversary of the film This is Spinal Tap, we thought this would be a fun and at the same time, a little challenging, as we have never performed as ourselves. Think of the evening as three old friends jamming in your living room. As opposed to OUR living rooms; we won’t be home.”

Here is an interview with the trio where they mug it up a bit and talk about the tour:

And a YouTube video that I can't get to play. I sure hope it's funny: