Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's In Ace Frehley's Bag?

Ace Frehley recently supported the struggling Indie record industry by appearing at Amoeba Music in California, signing autographs (for free I presume) and appearing in the below video. It's great that Ace still seems to be on the wagon and doing great.

I love how Ace kind of hits on the pink haired interview girl who is probably younger than his daughter!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nick Mason Interview Completes Floyd Reposts on ClassicRock.com

I posted earlier about ClassicRock.com re-publishing some fairly revealing interviews with David Gilmour and Roger Waters from 2000, when the Floyd released the live version of one of The Wall performances, called Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live.

The publication has now posted a typically witty chat with drummer Nick Mason from the same time period. Mason's dry humor is always a nice counterpoint to the seriousness of the other two guys. I didn't get as many new nuggets of info in Mason's interview, but it's worth a read.

Oh and by the way, if you don't have Is There Anybody Out There? and are a Floyd fan, you need to get it. Roger Waters shouting at the crowd to "Clap! Come On! Have a GOOD TIME!!! ENJOY YOURSELVES!!!" at the front end of Run Like Hell is worth the admission alone.

Plus, you get the song "Last Few Bricks," which is a medley that was inserted before "Goodbye Cruel World" to give the crew a chance to finish placing the last few bricks in the wall at the end of the first set. Many of the other songs are extended. "The Show Must Go On" has an extra verse, for example, and "Empty Spaces" is totally different from the album version.

I recently found a bootleg of one of the rehearsals for these Wall shows and Waters barks orders left right and center at band, crew, sound guys, the guys building the wall across the stage. He is large and in charge! Pretty classic.

Read Mason's interview here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

KISS On American Idol

I don't really give a crap about American Idol. I have never watched it. I always figured it would just make me angry and who needs that?

My older kids like it though, and watch it at their mom's house. So when I wouldn't let my 11 year old watch the finale last night (too late for a school night - yeah I am a prick), I got the silent treatment all morning. I guess I forgot that when all the kids are talking abut something at school and you missed it, that makes you LAME.

I felt even worse when I found out that KISS made a surprise appearance. Had I been monitoring my bookmarked sites, Twitter etc, I may have seen the rumors yesterday. But hey, work sometimes takes priority over surfing the Internet.

I took Alex to see KISS when he was six, so it's not like he's never seen them. But I remember the baby boners I got when I was a kid and KISS graced the TV screen. I wonder, actually, how many people were introduced to KISS for the first time last night? American Idol has a pretty large and rabid fan base of viewers but I would not image the younger ones were aware of KISS.

Anyway, here it is. I guess the kid singing with them didn't win, but he sure sports the boots well, as well as a screech worthy of Rock Star's Izzy Cole.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cool Piano Covers of Tool/Rush

I stumbled on this artist on RushIsABand.com, as she does a very cool version of Limelight that they had posted. But the thing that really got to me was her incredible version of Tool's Wings For Marie.

If you can believe this, I ran a 5k race for cancer listening to the Tool version (twice in a row) and it somehow got me to the finish line. That is very emotional race and I was kind of choked up while running and listening to the song, cranked.

The way this woman does the song turns it into a more of a Firth of Fifth-style Genesis tune, combined with Sarah McLachlan vocals. See what you think:

Oh, and here is her version of Limelight:

Monday, May 18, 2009

DVD Review - Rush Snakes and Arrows Live

Spring finally sprung in Portland and this weekend we had weather in the mid 80s with full sun. But sadly, I spent all day Sunday on my back in bed with some kind of stomach bug I caught from my oldest son (thanks, Alex).

The one semi-productive thing I did all day was to crawl out of bed long enough watch the Rush live Snakes and Arrows DVD I got for Christmas but totally forgot about.

I have been going over the numerous Rush bootlegs I pulled off the Web. I mostly opted for pre-1980 tours, where they were in screaming good form, but still very raw. You know, the tours where they would still do all of 2112 and Hemispheres in the same gig.

So watching this Snakes and Arrows DVD with all of those old bootlegs in the back of my head, I have to say the band has for sure returned to the power of their early years. The new songs are so riff-heavy, and even older stuff like Digital Man and yeah even Mission, are far heavier than their originals.

But it's a rawness with the precision that only comes with being as good as Rush and playing for 30 years. The whole first set, Lifeson plays every song on a Les Paul. It's so refreshing to hear how pummeling a song like Limelight can be when its played on a Gibson instead of the various Fenders, PRS' etc that he's used. The dude is a total master.

Geddy's voice sounds great, and aside from the newer stuff, there seems to be far fewer pre-programmed sound bites humming along in the background. The DVD is also filmed from a musician's standpoint. Many, many closeups of fret work and drum fills shot from above the drum kit. Need I say that Neil is flipping sick on those drums?

There are also some hilarious bonus features - little "You-Tube worthy" skits featuring Geddy Lee as the Scottish "Harry Satchel" driving a delivery truck looking for chicken, when Alex Lifeson as a gut-bustingly ODD Mountie pulls him over.

I don't care if you already have the 3 DVD re-release of the 80s live videos, Rush in Rio and R30 - If you are a fan, get this DVD.

Oh and if you haven't seen this yet, dig this 1979 performance of La Villa Strangiato. This is the kind of stuff I am digging up in my quest for bootlegs:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Top Five Albums That Took A While To Grow On Me

Fellow blogger Seano posted a list of five albums that took him a while to latch onto but once he did, they became seminal listening. He challenged his readers to post their own lists in the comments. Instead, I thought I would hijack his idea and make my own list here. Thanks, Seano!

So here we go:

August and Everything After - The Counting Crows
I know why I didn’t like this album when it came out. Too much initial hype. Too much whiny singing. And NO guitar solos. The horror. But after many years and faded memories of all the magazine cover stories, these songs hold up very well. They paint great stories and the band supports the songs – imagine that. We don’t NEED a guitar solo here, folks. It’s about the song. My favorite Counting Crows tune though is a cover that is not on this album. It’s their version of Friend of the Devil. Seek it out. It’ll move you.

Born Again - Black Sabbath
In high school, my buddies and I originally liked this album because it was so bad. I mean the cover itself was enough shock value for us to want to consume this album if it was good or not. Turns out that there are some great moments on it, despite it being a weird release in a dark time for the band. The title track is very stony and who can argue that the riff for Zero the Hero is as pummeling as anything Iommi and crew ever cooked up? Hell, Guns and Roses stole it for Paradise City, so there ya go!

Black and Blue - The Rolling Stones
Sandwiched between the Stones’ more fruitful, Mick Taylor era and the rebirth of the band with Some Girls, Black and Blue was kind of a throwaway. The band itself called the album the ‘guitar audition album’ because they had not hired Ronnie Wood yet and there are a ton of guitar players sitting in on this release. But over the years I have come to realize there is not a bad track on it. Crazy Mama is as rocking as the Stones get, Hand of Fate is a keeper and two of my favorite Stones tunes are on it – Fool to Cry and Memory Motel. Enough said.

Pre-Help! Beatles
I had pretty much written off the Beatles' early stuff as pop pap, with the exception of standout hits like I Saw Her Standing There. But candy-assed tunes like She Loves You always made me think that whole period was not very deep. But checking out the band’s first four albums showed me a couple of things. 1) Lennon was totally in charge of that band, as he sings almost all the songs, and 2) he is much more bluesy and ballsy out of the gate than I had recalled. Songs like All I’ve Got to Do, You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me and You Can’t Do That totally kick ass. This Boy is incredibly bluesy and shows how well these guys could harmonize. Finally, check out their take on Please Mr. Postman. It’s as raw as some of Lennon’s later stuff.

Atom Heart Mother - Pink Floyd
Even the guys in Pink Floyd hate this album. I got it in high school and liked If and Fat Old Sun but that was about it. My perception turned when it came out on CD and it seemed…well, louder. I think they mastered it louder. And it sounded pretty good. The Atom Heart Mother side-long suite is dodgy in spots for sure but has some great moments. The notion of Floyd working with orchestrator/artist Ron Geesin must have seemed like a good idea. But remember that he also did an album with Waters that was nothing but songs made up of body noises. Rick Wright’s sub-par song on side two benefits from killer horn breaks thanks to Geesin. I think Gilmour’s latest work leans back towards Fat Old Sun much more than anything Floyd did in the late 70s or 80s. The album has a kind of dreamy quality and little of the intensity of something like Careful With That Axe Eugene or One of These Days. The night Wright died, for some reason I put this one on and it did the job.

That’s my five. So what else? Three bands I am trying to get into but it just ain’t clicking for me yet are The Foo Fighters, The Decemberists and Wilco. I mean, I like what I hear but maybe they’ll make the next list.

Seano, for your next roundup, how about guilty pleasure albums? Ones we like but probably shouldn’t? I’d be happy to take first crack, and then you can swipe MY idea!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Irish Student Dupes Media Via Wikipedia

This is interesting. According to news reports this week, an Irish student posted a phony quote in the bio of a freshly dead French composer on Wikipedia to see what would happen. Sure enough, before Wikipedia's crack team of editors flagged it as 'unattributed,' various news outlets had pulled the juicy quote and ran it in the composer's obituary. D'oh!

Per the AP story:

When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia, he said he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news.

His report card: Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.

The sociology major's made-up quote — which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hours after the French composer's death March 28 — flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper Web sites in Britain, Australia and India.

They used the fabricated material, Fitzgerald said, even though administrators at the free online encyclopedia quickly caught the quote's lack of attribution and removed it, but not quickly enough to keep some journalists from cutting and pasting it first.

A full month went by and nobody noticed the editorial fraud.

Now, I am as eager to break news on this blog as anyone, but I am not a journalist and I'll post just about anything. But you'd think that journalists would have the wherewithal to verify their quotes. Seems like in the news-hungry instant-entertainment driven world we live in, I guess there is no time for little details like 'verifying sources.'

From the article:

"I am 100 percent convinced that if I hadn't come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up," Fitzgerald said. "It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact."

Scary. But it makes me further question these urban legend-esque stories I get sent to me by family members, or photos that are probably Photoshopped. There were photos going around of some guy punching a shark in the face that were probably fakes. But there are enough people dumb enough to fall into 'seeing is believing,' whether it's unlikely or not.

Viewers beware...

Pearl Jam Bassist Mugged By Masked Georgia Thieves

I bet they were waiting for Ashton Kutcher to leap out of the woods with a camera crew and say "You've been Punk'd!" But alas, that was not the case. According to CNN, outside of a remote Atlanta recording studio:

Three men reportedly emerged from a nearby wooded area wearing masks and brandishing knives. They smashed windows of the rented Jeep Commander, snatched a BlackBerry phone and other belongings, and demanded money, the police report shows. The suspects allegedly got away with more than $7,300 in goods and cash.

[Pearl Jam bass player Jeff] Ament jumped from the passenger side of the vehicle and started to run, but he was chased by a suspect and knocked to the ground, said Mekka Parish, a public information officer with the police department.

She said he "suffered some lacerations" on the back of his head and was treated at the scene. His backpack was also snatched, she said, and included inside was Ament's passport.

Geez. What does it take to record an album anymore? Does Pearl Jam need to hire bodyguards?

If you want to see the surveillance camera shots over and over again, go here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Keith Emerson Cancels Tours Due to Medical Condition

People used to jokingly tell Keith Emerson if he keeps playing keyboards as physically as he did in the 70s, he's going to hurt himself. But sadly it looks like that is exactly what happened.

Emerson has posted on his Web site:

Dear Friends,

It is with much regret that I have to announce that due to past right hand injuries the resulting nerve damage and dystonic factor has made it unable for me to play the keyboards to the high standard I have always set myself and have to cancel my forthcoming Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla USA and European tours.

I am also going to have to cancel the proposed Emerson, Lake and Palmer tour which we were going to do at the end of this year.

I will of course continue with my physical/chiropractic/acupuncture therapy etc. in the hope that this will eventually get me back on form.

This is absolutely devastating to me as music will always be my main key to communicating with a world-wide audience. I know how much my fans and fellow band members were looking forward to these shows and it saddens me greatly to have to come to this decision and make this announcement.

Thank you for your understanding.

Keith Emerson

He even included a note from his doctor below the message in case we all thought he was bagging out so he didn't ever have to see Greg Lake again.

Side note - Lake must need money. He has said a number of times that he'd never play with Palmer and Emerson again. Lake's voice has changed so much that for the most recent ELP reunions, the keys of the songs were much lower so he could sing them.

Maybe Emerson fried his hands trying to bust out Hoedown on all the black keys! Disregard the very bizarre outfit he's wearing but check this out from the band's more epic period:

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Iron Maiden Movie to Run on VH1 Classic

I was bummed to see that the new Iron Maiden documentary Iron Maiden: Flight 666 was not scheduled to play in any Portland theaters. I resigned myself to buying the DVD whenever it comes out. But yesterday word spread around that the film will be aired on June 6 (of course) on VH1 Classic at midnight. I'll be setting the DVR for sure!

Some info on the film: The documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of the first leg of the band's Somewhere Back In Time World Tour, which kicked off February 8th, 2008 with the first of their 23 sold-out stadium concerts all over the world. The documentary has won the SXSW Festival award for Best Music Documentary.

The band has been marketing the movie via a number of channels (the band's fan club even has a Twitter account) and one is the film's YouTube channel. Here is a recent short clip I thought was kind of amusing and...well, different for a heavy metal movie:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rainbow Reunion of Sorts

I have been meaning to post about this for a long time. A number of ex-members of Rainbow have gathered and are on tour as "Over the Rainbow." One notable absence is founding guitarist Ritchie Blackmore who has been performing Renaissance Faire music the last bunch of years for whatever reason.

But here is the lineup:

Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow 1980-1984) - Vocals
Tony Carey (Rainbow 1975-1978) - Keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow 1980-1983) - Drums
Greg Smith (Rainbow 1994-1997) - Bass
Jürgen "J.R." Blackmore - Guitar

Yep, that is Ritchie's son on guitar.

Keyboardist Carey posted a blog entry after the band's recent Russian debut:

We rehearsed like madmen for several days in a Moscow studio — J.R. and I had pre-rehearsed at my house in Germany and Bobby and Greg in New York. After the first 10 minutes, it was pretty clear that when we didn't suck; we were pretty good. The tricky part is playing balls-out, take-no prisoners, and still being (reasonably) accurate. If you start thinking about what you're playing, you're automatically using a safety net...

First couple of shows had great moments and some fairly dodgy ones, as well. What surprised me was the turnout and the excitement level coming back to the stage.

The last four gigs were light-years better. Everybody had sort of figured out how they wanted to play the songs (this doesn't include Greg and Bobby, they had it cold from the beginning, for which they've both earned my eternal emnity).

I think Joe's doing a great job on songs he'd never sung before, great frontman, and Jürgen — well, I knew he was good going in, but he's killer and growing with each performance. And yes, he IS a Blackmore.

Here is a clip of the band doing the Dio-era tune Stargazer. It sounds pretty epic if you ask me:

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Surprising Pink Floyd Interviews from 2000

Classic Rock Magazine is pretty big in the UK but I don't think it's available very widely in the States. But thanks to the Web I am able to get a look at the content now and again.

So I wanted to let you know that the magazine has been re-running interviews from 2000 when Pink Floyd put out the live Wall performance Is There Anybody Out There.

Now really. I thought I knew all there was to know about Floyd and its internal strife and the break with Roger Waters after The Final Cut. But in the interviews with Waters and especially Gilmour, I learned a lot. For example, the two were not really fighting during the recording of The Wall except for a couple of artistic arguments. It was really during the filming of the movie that things got bad.

Also, both Gilmour and Waters were very disappointed with Richard Wright at the time, who both say was contributing absolutely nothing to the band or the albums by that point.

In classic form, Waters said, "he played less and less and less and generally wasn’t interested, really. If he thought he’d written a good keyboard part he’d hoard it and put it on one of his awful solo albums. He didn’t want to share anything with anybody, he just got really anal."

Waters fired Wright sort of behind Gilmour's back, but Gilmour puts the blame mostly on Wright, who did nothing fix what was broken.

Anyway, this is the tip of the iceberg. There is loads of info in these interviews.

If you dig Floyd, make a few minutes to check out the article and Waters interview here and especially the Gilmour interview here.

Friday, May 01, 2009

One Way To Get Out Of Jury Duty

Have you ever followed The Smoking Gun? It's a Web site that re-publishes public records and documents and focuses on the sensational or at least the arcane and sometimes hilarious. Check out their pages of celebrity mug shots and you'll get the idea.

Anyway, seems that Montana's Erik Slye was not very interested in doing his jury duty assignment and after leaving a message that didn't get him out of it, submitted a letter that said the following (spelling errors preserved):

Apparently you morons didn't understand me the first time. I CANNOT take time off from work. I'm not putting my familys well being at stake to participate in this crap. I don't believe in the "justice" system and I don't want to have a goddam thing to do with it. Jury duty is a complete waste of time. I would rather count the wrinkles on my dogs balls than sit on a jury. Get it through your thick skulls. Leave me the f--k alone.

See it (and find out the response) for yourself here.

If I wanted to get out of jury duty, I would just show up drunk...