Monday, April 27, 2009

Awesome Bootleg Site - T.U.B.E.

Have been spending a lot of time on the weekends poring over the T.U.B.E. bootleg blog. The name of the site is an acronym for "the ultimate bootleg experience" and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree.

There are more than 2,000 bootlegged concerts on the site - everyone from Rush to Floyd, Yes, The Who, Audioslave, U2, R.E.M., and even Willie Nelson. And they add new ones every day or two.

The way it works is that you find the show that you want, click on the download link and you are sent to a service called Rapidshare. You can download shows for free but the service runs intentionally slowly with many limitations, to encourage full subscription. But if you pay a few bucks for a full subscription, the download times are faster and you can grab as many downloads at the same time as your pipeline can handle.

If you want to try it for free here are the steps:

--Click the 'download' link for the bootleg you want; the Rapidshare page opens
--Click 'free user'
--Click 'download,' then 'save' or 'open.' You receive a text file with information about the bootleg. In that text file are links to Rapidshare urls where you'll access the actual audio files, in compressed WinRAR format. When uncompressed, most gigs are already in MP3 format, pre-named and in order, and come with artwork.
--You'll need a program to unlock the WinRAR files once they download to your hard drive. Info on WinRAR files is here, and the program download links are here.
--Save the uncompressed files somewhere smart (like a folder on your desktop called 'bootlegs'). Drag the songs into iTunes and wha-la, you're jamming.

Some of the gems I have found:

--Van Halen demos as produced by KISS' Gene Simmons when he was toying with the idea of being the band's manager in 1976.
--The heavy metal day of the US Festival from 1983
--Pink Floyd debuting Echoes on the John Peel Sessions in 1971
--Live AC/DC gigs from the Highway to Hell tour with Bon Scott
--The last ever Wings concert
--Black Sabbath on tour in 1983 with Ian Gillan on vocals (hearing him shriek his way through Heaven and Hell is worth the download right there).
--The A.R.M.S. concert from 1983 where Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton all shared the bill (and stage). Check out Paul Rodgers and Page busting out a version of Midnight Moonlight, pre The Firm.
--Zeppelin busting out Physical Graffiti songs in New York City in 1975 before the album came out.

The sound quality varies. Most of the audience recordings are good for a listen but are not really gigs I will likely keep. But many of these are pulled right from the soundboard or are audio feeds and are therefore fairly pristine. They have all been mastered by engineers to bring out the best possible sound.

What I learned is that these bootleg traders are pretty fanatical about making the sound as good as possible. They list methods and technology/gear used, in great detail. Polishing turds in many cases, but for example there is a 1980 Genesis live gig that rivals the official 3 Sides Live release from a couple of years later.

Anyway, have fun poking around and let me know if you stumble on any gems.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart Reunite in LA

I have always been a big fan of Jeff Beck. Aside from being one of the classic pioneers of rock guitar (with Page and Clapton), I paid attention to him because his style was always so unique.

Maybe because he doesn't use a pick; maybe because he never got locked into one style of music. I don't know. The dude is just GOOD.

One of his very few mainstream successes was the single People Get Ready, which was a cool take on an old tune, put out in the 80s with Rod Stewart on vocals.

According to Classic Rock Magazine, Rod joined Beck onstage Tuesday night in Los Angeles. It was their first joint appearance in 25 years, according to the article. They did People Get Ready and I Ain’t Superstitious, which was recorded in 1968 when Stewart was vocalist in The Jeff Beck Group.

According to Rolling Stone, Stewart snuck onstage and started singing and it was a total surprise to Stewart! And of course there is a YouTube of the event:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Get Spinal Tap "Saucy Jack" MP3 for Free

Anyone who has seen the This Is Spinal Tap movie a few times will remember that near the end David St Hubbins and Derek Smalls talk about what they will do with their time off the road. They discuss finishing their musical version of the story of Jack the Ripper, called Saucy Jack.

25 years later, at least one song is done. The title track. Go here to get it for free.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Concert Review - Unplugged and Unwigged - Spinal Tap & The Folksmen

I have seen Spinal Tap live (in full costume, full band and character) twice. The second time was prior to the Mighty Wind movie, and Harry Shearer, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest came out as The Folksmen to open for (themselves) Tap. It was hilarious and was the first time I heard such classics as Blood on the Coals and the folkified Start Me Up.

So it was another treat to see the three don acoustic instruments last night at the Keller Auditorium in Portland and bust through Tap and Folksmen tunes without the trappings of being in character.

They were dressed semi-formal and comfortable (no wigs or stage outfits) and told funny stories between songs, razzed each other a bit and laughed a lot.

They did fall into character a few times, such as in Stonehenge - I mean, you can't do that song without reciting the opening spoken lines as Nigel Tufnel. But other songs like Big Bottom, re-done as a jazzy hipster scat, benefited from a re-tooling for the acoustic format.

A couple of things stood out. One, these guys can really play. When I had seen Tap before, I felt like Guest could really play well, and McKean was good, but Harry Shearer was being helped a lot by the keyboard player and frankly the drummer held the whole thing together. Last night was a different story. Shearer played fretted and standup bass and was very fluid. McKean did some songs on keyboards and was also very adept. Guest was great too but I expected that.

Also, their three parts harmonies were astounding. I know from playing my own gigs that the stripped down acoustic format lends itself to good singing, because you can hear really well. But, the audience can also hear really well and any mistakes are glaring. These guys were very tight vocally!

The second thing I noticed is that the songwriting is fantastic. Yes we know that the Spinal Tap and Folksmen songs are genius - Stonehenge, Hell Hole, Bitch School, Blood On The Coals, Old Joe's Place etc. But songs like Gimmie Some Money, Mighty Wind and All The Way Home are so close to the forms they are meant to parody that people not in on the joke would think these were real songs!

As expected, the three laid out funny between-song stage banter, but they also used a video screen at the back of the stage to break up the live show. Footage included a 'never before seen' clip of Tap playing on some late 70s TV rock show. Needless to say that the pre-MTV lighting, costumes and pseudo video storyline were all hilarious. Think Tap in their "Hemispheres era kimono-wearing Rush phase" and you'll get the idea.

They also showed two YouTube videos that they claimed were videos that fans had made of their songs. The second was a Lego Spinal Tap doing Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You (Tonight), which I found:

Also, they told a story about how when This Is Spinal Tap movie was to be released, NBC considered running it on broadcast TV but the censors had some issues with the script. Last night, the three proceeded to run through all of the censor comments one by one, reading from the actual report. Such as "One hour and three minutes - The lyrical content of Sex Farm is totally unacceptable" etc.

All in all, it was very entertaining and any fan of the Tap or Mighty Wind movies should seek this out. You won't be disappointed.

And for a good laugh, follow the blog from the tour here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Spinal Tap Album, Unplugged Show Sunday

I already wrote about the upcoming Unwigged tour here. But it's basically Harry Shearer, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest - the comedians behind Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind's The Folksmen - on tour as themselves.

The tour kicks off this weekend and comes through Portland on Sunday. I have tickets so expect a review. In the meantime, CNN ran a pretty funny interview with Shearer today here.

But the guys are putting the wigs back on for a new Tap album due his year called Back From The Dead, and a one-off show billed as a ‘One Night Only’ World Tour, at Wembley Arena on June 30.

Long Live Tap!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yes and Asia to Tour Together

Finally, a Yes-related tour I'd be very excited to see. Yeah, it's still with the impostor singer Benoit David instead of Jon Anderson but bootlegs I have heard show that the band is really hot now, Huckabee performance notwithstanding.

Steve Howe will be pulling double duty, playing in both bands. 

Unfortunately, they seem to have figured out how to get around the Portland curse by skipping Portland altogether. Damn it! Means I will have to drive to Seattle or try to book a work related trip to the Bay Area in early July.

Tour dates are here and there are two interesting recent interviews about this lineup, with Steve Howe and Alan White here and here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

George Harrison Gets Hollywood Star

For what it's worth to have star-shaped block of granite with your name carved into it embedded into the sidewalk, George Harrison got one today, in front of the Capitol Building in Hollywood, near John Lennon's own star.

Actually, it is cool that Harrison is being honored for all of his artistic endeavors. Obviously The Beatles, but his extensive solo work including great 80s solo album Cloud Nine and his work with the Traveling Wilburys. Also, his Handmade Films company funded and supported the guys in Monty Python when they couldn't raise the funds to get some of their movies made.

So he's got a star. The other side effect when something like this happens, it's a good reason for folks to come out and share memories, and of course for the labels to cash in. On the latter front, a Hollywood Reporter article noted that Capitol/EMI plans to announce details for a new Harrison music project, and a Martin Scorsese-directed documentary about Harrison is in the works.

Some who attended the ceremony today included Paul McCartney, Harrison's widow Olivia, his son Dhani, musicians Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne and actor Tom Hanks. See some of their comments here.

One guy who knew Harrison well couldn't be there - the gun-loving Phil Spector who finally had justice served when a jury found him guilty of second degree murder yesterday. I have heard the bootlegs of Phil and Lennon drunkenly flipping each other shit and the dude sounded borderline back in the 70s. No less than five women took the stand saying he had threatened them with violence over the years. What a sad end to a weird life.

Here is live clip of George in the 80s:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Jesus Christ Superstar on Good Friday

Watching Jesus Christ Superstar in my house around Easter time is about as traditional as the Easter Bunny and Sunday Easter Mass.

When I was a kid, you could count on two annual showings on tv - The Wizard of Oz and Jesus Christ Superstar. Growing up Catholic, JCS was the coolest Jesus movie we could see - a bunch of hippies rocking out in Jerusalem. Yeah baby.

As I got older, I began to totally dig the musical aspect. The different time signatures, many catchy tunes, the whaling voices of Jesus and Judas, and almost everyone else who opens their mouths for that matter.

Then later I got into what the film is really about, which to me is the struggle to do what you know is right, or is your destiny, even though it may cost you dearly. In JCS, of course, it is Jesus struggling with laying his life down when he is not sure why he needs to do it. And Judas struggling with whether to turn Jesus in or not. Whether you are religious or not, it's a great film about humanity.

No moment captures this struggle more potently than this clip. Turn it up and dig it:

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Technical Support

For better or worse, I am the "IT Guy" in my household. I am the one who takes the photos off the digital camera, posts videos of the kids on YouTube and makes sure any guests can connect to the wireless router. Pretty basic stuff.

However, nothing sends a chill up my spine more than my mom handing me her laptop, saying something like "the screen just stays blue" or "it won't connect." I love her to death and she's pretty tech-savvy for a 77 year old. But I have explained the difference between plugging the power cable into the wall and plugging an Ethernet cable into the Comcast modem so many times I have pretty much given up trying to tell her the difference.

So when mom handed me the laptop for 'repairs' this morning, I shuddered, and then was reminded of a hilarious video that went around a couple of years ago. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Beatles Remasters Due Sept 9

09/09/09 – mark your calendar. That is when The Beatles' entire catalog will be reissued in remastered, re-engineered format. Something that has been wanted by fans for years.

According to the New York Times:

Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music announced Tuesday morning that the Fab Four’s entire album catalog has been digitally remastered, and would be re-released on CD on Sept. 9. In a news release, Apple Corps and EMI said that the remastering effort, conducted at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London, took four years to complete, using a combination of modern-day recording technology and vintage studio equipment. The new CD releases, which include the 12 Beatles studio albums (the British versions) in stereo, as well as “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Past Masters Vol. I and II” (which have been combined into a single title) will feature the original UK album art, as well as original and newly written liner notes.

On Sept. 9 (the same day that
the video game The Beatles: Rock Band arrives in stores), Apple Corps and EMI said that two new Beatles boxed CD collections of the material would also be released, one comprising all 14 CDs plus a DVD documentary collection, the other consisting of 10 albums’ original mono mixes plus two additional CDs of mono masters. In a statement, the two companies added: “Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalogue will continue. There is no further information available at this time.”

I bought all The Beatles’ albums when I was a kid – on vinyl. I bought some of them again when I became a pseudo-collector and tried to find original Apple labels etc. Then I bought them again on CD in 1987 when they were first moved to that format. I have bought a few of them again for my kids so they could have their own copies. Will I buy these new remasters? I am not sure yet. I may get a couple and if I think the quality is noticeably better, then probably.

I did notice a HUGE difference in the sound quality when I bought the Love and Yellow Submarine discs over the last few years. Those CDs sound miles away in sound quality from the 1987 CDs, so you never know.

I am actually most interested in the mono mixes, as Geoff Emerick wrote in his book Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles that the mono mixes had the most care behind them, and the stereo mixes were actually throw-away quickie jobs to appease fans of the ‘new’ stereo format.

One funny aside – the Stones are doing the same thing. They are rolling out their post-1971 catalog in stages, starting with Sticky Fingers, Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock’n’Roll and Black And Blue in May. In the 60s, the Beatles and Stones used to communicate well, and the bands never issues new albums or singles at the same time, to avoid diluting the market and sales. Guess they didn’t get each others’ memos this time…

Ace Frehley Video Blog debut

Ace Frehley put up his very first blog video yesterday. It's rambling and self-promotional (but hey, aren't all video blog posts? Ha ha ha). But the couple of clips he plays from his upcoming CD sound pretty rocking. If KISS and Ace were to both put out 'old school' sounding albums this year, I might think I am 10 all over again!


Monday, April 06, 2009

Vote to Bring KISS to Portland

So, I realize KISS management probably has already routed and booked the just-announced U.S. and Canadian tour and is just laying another big public relations turd on all of us by suggesting the band will pay attention to where WE THE FANS want the band to play.

Having said that, please vote via the below widget to bring the band to Portland, as my 9 and 11 year olds will crap their trousers if they get to go to this concert. Of course if you want KISS to come to your town (yes, Chris from Stumbling the Walk I mean you), disregard my plea. But if you don't care, vote with all of your email addresses to send Alex and Cameron to KISS (and their dad too). Thanks.

Use "97219" as the zip code when asked...

KISS to Announce Tour to Cities Chosen By Fan Vote

From Pollstar today:

Simmons, along with Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, will make an official announcement in a video scheduled to appear on KISS Online at 3 p.m. today Eastern Daylight Time (high noon on the West Coast). Immediately following the announcement, fans will be able to cast their votes at to determine where KISS will play in the U.S. and Canada.

Plus, just for voting, fans will have an opportunity to purchase pre-sale tickets prior to the general onsale. That is, as soon as the band figures out where the fans want them to play. As an added incentive, fans are also encouraged to create their own viral KISS vids online, with the best of the best being shown in individual towns and cities each night before the band takes the stage.

“KISS has never followed the rules – we have always broken them. KISS has never listened to critics – we have always listened only to the fans,” Simmons said. “It’s time to give back to the fans with bigger shows and longer set lists. And for the first time anywhere, we want our fans to tell us where they want us, and when.”

For more widgets please visit

Big KISS News Coming in Three Hours

We already know that the band has a new studio album that is supposed to come out in September. We also know they have been touring Europe and South America, with a few Canadian shows as well. One can only hope this is an announcement for a North America tour. My nine year old has been badgering me for five years that I didn't take him last time (I knew he'd never make it the whole night), so maybe we'll get to finally cross that off the list?

Or hey, maybe Peter Criss and Ace Frehley need some money and are re-joining the band. Ha ha ha.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Brad Paisley and Keith Urban Tune - Dig the Guitar Work

I abhor the new form of 'country pop' that has been around for a while. It's formulaic and dumb. However, you can't find better players than country session musicians.

Take this silly tune from Brad Paisley with Keith Urban. Very predictable lyrics but damn check out the guitar tone, and the dueling leads throughout. I don't know (or care) if it's Brad and Keith playing those licks or if it's session guys. They flipping rock. Make sure to get to the end dueling guitar parts. You'll get it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Amazon Offers Genesis Vinyl Set

Got an(other) email from today. Usually they say something like "Since you bought that Star Wars figure for your kid at Christmas, we thought you'd want to buy this Star Wars lawn dart set" or some shit. I usually delete these emails right away.

But today this was the offer:

As someone who has purchased or rated music by Genesis, you might like to know that 1970-1975 [6 LP 180g Vinyl] will be released on April 14, 2009. Following the upgrade of the Genesis catalog with three comprehensive boxed sets of their entire studio output (plus bonus DVDs), Rhino brings the legendary band's early era back to its vinyl origins in style. Presented on 180 gram audiophile vinyl, the six-LP boxed set GENESIS: 1970-1975 features five landmark albums from the group's seminal Peter Gabriel-fronted era: Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound and the double concept LP The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

Collected in a handsome, protective slipcase box, each of the five albums comes in its own heavyweight gatefold sleeve featuring the classic cover art faithfully reproduced from its original source. The set contains some of the band s most adventurous albums and chronicles Gabriel's groundbreaking tenure as frontman for Genesis, one of the top-selling recording acts of all time.

I won't be ordering this because I already have all of these releases on vinyl but I thought it was cool that this is even being offered!