Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peter Frampton To Play Frampton Comes Alive Next Year

As evidenced by KISS' Alive 35 tour, where the band played all of KISS Alive end to end, and shows like the current Roger Waters Wall tour, the hot thing right now is to dust off a classic album and play it live all the way through.

Matter of fact, that is what Rush is doing on its current tour, playing Moving Pictures end to end every night.

I think it's a great idea. Such care goes into the crafting and sequencing of albums (or at least that used to be the case), and if the whole piece is solid, then why not play it true to its released form?

Along those lines, Peter Frampton will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the classic Frampton Comes Alive by playing the whole damn double album on tour next year.

From this article on Planet Rock:

In an interview with KLOS, Frampton reveals that after he has finished touring his latest studio album, Thank You Mr Churchill, he will hit the road once more next summer to play special shows in celebration of his massive live album.

"2011 is the 35th anniversary of Frampton Comes Alive so we're gonna do Frampton Comes Alive 35,” he revealed. “For the first time since the 70s we're going to do a show where the second half of the show is the whole of Frampton Comes Alive.

"We're gonna have to dust off a few [songs] we haven't done in a while. We're thinking about using the intro music that's on the record. We're gonna have a big production and take people back to that time.”

I hope he comes to Portland so I can hear him say "Bob Mayo, keyboards!" finally after all these years. Frampton played a few years ago here in Portland and friends who saw the show said he is in top form and really kicked ass. I'll be watching for this one for sure. In the meantime, enjoy this:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Concert Review - Roger Waters The Wall

I saw Roger Waters’ The Wall in San Jose last Tuesday and it took me a few days to put ‘pen to paper’ because I wanted to let it all soak in. Of course as expected the concert was unlike anything I have ever seen. I think the photos I took will do it far more justice than a detailed description but here are some thoughts:

Musically, Waters stuck to the script. There were the same extended pieces that the Floyd did back in the 1980 shows (three solos at the end of Brick 2 instead of one, the extended Mother solo, the ‘A Few More Bricks’ medley). These were included to add more time to the concert and allow more time for the Wall to be built. It was great to hear a really true rendition of the album with all of the music pretty much as I knew it.

His band was great – Snowy White and G.E. Smith on guitars. A younger guy who did the leads, who was a little over the top rocker-style for me, but played Gilmour’s parts very faithfully (on a Tele no less). Waters had a number of vocalists including a guy who did nothing but sing Gilmour’s parts. And of course Rog played loads of bass.

But truthfully I was not watching the band. They are all dressed in black and on a visual level, they are totally secondary to the Wall, the props and the amazing, amazing visuals that were broadcast onto the Wall itself. The Wall had an almost fluorescent glow to it all night when it was just being backlit. But most of the time, amazing videos were beamed onto the Wall, which then became basically a 240-foot long movie screen.

I mean, these visuals were insane and led the audience on everything from IMAX-style nausea-inducing 3D to transforming the arena much like the use of different movie sets would – look at my various photos below and you will see what I mean about how the Wall itself was the star of this show.

The props were all there: the enormous marionette teacher for Brick 2, the plane flying into the Wall at the end of In The Flesh?, the giant inflatable Mother, and of course the flying pig, which roamed the rafters of the arena during Run Like Hell. Rog used a number of videos from the Wall film, including the parrying flowers from What Shall We Do Now? and the whole The Trial sequence. It was great to see that original, grainy film animation and that Waters did not try and ‘update’ (ruin) it in any way.

One thing that was different was Waters himself. He admitted more than once during the show that when he wrote The Wall 30 years ago he was an ‘angry young man’ and even went so far as to say he didn’t feel that way anymore and was really happy to be playing the show for us. Which is great for Waters, but I kind of missed the angry, tortured guy in some of the gut busters like Don’t Leave Me Now and Nobody Home. He was almost campy in those songs and it didn’t work as well, but shit I wouldn’t wish him sorrow for my enjoyment, so what the hell! I am just glad to see this show.

My buddy and I were saying that The Wall stage show is an amazing concept that we really sort of take for granted because it’s been around about 75 percent of the time we’ve been alive. But what an idea, and to come up with this in 1980! Image the band meeting: “So we build a wall. In front of the band. After the first set, the audience can’t see the band at all. We have giant puppets and a flying pig. At the end we topple the wall into the audience and that’s it – no encore. Holy f’ing shit.

Thematically the visuals were true to the original themes of alienation between nations, people and institutions. Lots of imagery of the recent wars and the men and women lost in those wars and how senseless they are – driven by greed, and ideological and religious jockeying. On his Facebook site, Waters had asked people who lost loved ones in wars to send photos and information prior to the tour, and he used at least a couple hundred of those images over the course of the night.

I have heard that the crux of the story for Waters is the song Bring the Boys Back Home and I have to say that this was the only part of the show that gave me a giant lump in the throat. In Vera, he showed slow-mo footage of little kids in school classrooms in surprise reunions with their dads and this one girl’s face went from surprise to elation to just a waterworks as she jumped into her daddy’s arms. It may be the one image I always remember after the bitching animations and flying pigs and planes fade from my memory. It was heartwarming and heart wrenching at the same time when you really get to the emotion of what these wars do to little kids. I found someone's video of it and posted that below the photos.

So anyway, the North American leg of The Wall tour is almost over and I am damn glad I saw it. Here are some of my snaps for those interested:

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Thoughts on The Anniversary of John Lennon's Death

December 8 is a day that usually sees me pretty melancholy. I recall when I was a mere 12 years old my dad coming into the family room and gently announcing that John Lennon had been shot and killed. I pretty much retired to my own room for the rest of the night. It was one of the first deaths, and for sure the first violent death, I had ever felt had hit home in any way. Was not sure how to process the emotions so I played some Beatles on guitar and cried a lot.

Big stars die all the time. They fall into one of two buckets for me. Either 1) most of their work had already taken place and they had been out of the spotlight for a long time, which somehow makes it easier to swallow or 2) they had been recently active (like Roy Orbison or Richard Wright) and are a bit of a gut punch. Lennon clearly falls into this latter category and much like with guys like Stevie Ray Vaughan I often wonder what Lennon would have done with the past few decades since his death.

Would he have reunited with the other Beatles for Anthology, or Live8? Would he have put out spotty albums in the 80s but then released scattered moments of brilliance like some other Beatles we know? Would he have had another good run of albums and tours and then retired, boring with the business again? Would I have ever been able to see him in concert or even meet him? Of course we’ll never know.

I saw Roger Waters live last night on the 69th anniversary of Pearl Harbor (the giant plane flying into the Wall in the first number was an interesting juxtaposition to this anniversary although I realize it happens every night – I will post a full review with photos soon). I am tempted to try and get a ticket for tonight’s show to see if he mentions Lennon.

Anyway, time to get muddling at work but wanted to get these thoughts out of my head.

Lennon we still miss you. Wish you were here.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Stones' Gimmie Shelter Deconstructed

My friend Nedmusic turned me onto this incredible breakdown of the Stones' classic 1969 song Gimmie Shelter. Someone has been able to isolate the vocals, rhythm guitar, second guitar/piano, bass and drums into five separate tracks. It's breathtaking to hear all the parts broken out like this. Spend some time checking this out if you dig the Stones - unreal.

Also credit must be given to the original Dangerous Minds post, where all of this came from.

Vocals (Mick Jagger and Merry Clayton):

Keith Richards' main guitar. Note the interesting punch ins and outs of Keith's licks to compensate for the fact that this is probably a four-track recording!

Charlie Watts' drum part plus percussion:

Bill Wyman bass:

Keith's second guitar and Nicky Hopkins' piano (at the moment it looks like this one has been taken down by YouTube):

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

DVD Review - Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones

The Stones are like cockroaches - they seem to have been around forever and just won't die. Despite the fact that their last truly great album was put out in 1981.

But every few years they churn out a new collection of tunes and hit the road to smash touring records yet again. There are glimmers of greatness - the Shine A Light movie for example has some really cool moments. And if their recent albums were pared down from 15 tracks to the 10 strongest, they'd be pretty good.

But honestly, the band jumped the shark once Keith cleaned up. Coincidence? No idea but I am reading his autobiography and we'll see if I can glean any tidbits for you all.

My favorite era of the Stones is the Mick Taylor era. So I was majorly geeked to get the recently released Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, a concert film from the 1972 Exile on Main Street tour.

This DVD reminds me of why I fell in love with the band in the first place. Charlie and Keith are the tightest rhythm section around. Bill Wyman pumps out some great bass lines. Jagger is at his full-throated screaming pilled-up best. But the real star of the show is Mick Taylor, who basically solos throughout every song, adding those tasty, tasty licks that seem so effortless but add incredibly to the music.

Highlights are the roughly 10-minute Midnight Rambler, Tumbling Dice, Gimmie Shelter and an unreal version of Love In Vain. In his book, Keith talks about how the young pre-fame Stones just wanted to 'be black guys' and play the blues. Later of course they got into other areas but the blues was always their fallback, and Love In Vain is top of the pile here. It does not hurt that Taylor gets two solos - one one slide and one not.

Even tracks like Dead Flowers - a song that seems like a bit of a novelty on the studio release - shine, as Keith and Mick share the mic for the harmonies and Taylor adds tasty leads throughout.

The bonus features include the band rehearsing stuff from Exile to get ready for the tour. That is worth the price of this DVD alone. Unreal.

Watching this DVD made me reach back into the bootleg community and score copies of live shows from 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976. There are some real gems out there, people. This band was tight in the 70s, despite the stories of addiction and debauchery. Especially look for the March 1971 Leeds, the October 1973 Brussels, and the July 1972 Madison Square Garden shows. All very good.

And get this damn DVD - it's great! Here is a clip:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CD Review - The Doobie Brothers - World Gone Crazy

The Doobie Brothers are probably not going to achieve world peace or national economic liquidity with its new CD, World Gone Crazy. But it might get your foot tapping on your commute or get you to run a little faster on your morning jog. The Doobies in their prime delivered great rock and roll with solid grooves, great playing and gorgeous vocal harmonies – cue up Listen to the Music if you’re not sure what I am talking about.

The first two tracks on World Gone Crazy, A Brighter Day and Chateau, stand right up there with the Doobies’ best rockers and should go over very well live. Especially Chateau, which has loads of great singalong harmonies and some fantastic slide guitar by guitarist John McFee. Track four, the title track, is another solid foot tapper, as is My Baby (track eight).

Founders Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons are leading the group, with Johnston taking most of the songwriting and vocals as usual. Simmons’ songs are not quite as strong this time but at least he is trying to re-write Black Water instead of China Grove. There are some very pretty acoustic-based tunes a la Black Water such as Far From Home (nice McFee violin on this one).

The third track, Nobody, is a redone version of the same song from the band’s first album in 1971. Picked acoustic arpeggios, piano and acoustic slide guitar ease you into this track, and then the whole thing picks up and really highlights those Doobie vocal harmonies. This version is tighter and sonically superior to the original and I can see why they decided to bring it back. It’s a great song.

Two guest spots by Michael McDonald and Willie Nelson are surely included to drive CD sales but their tunes are a little distracting – I mean, McDonald barely appears on Don’t Say Goodbye, and honestly it’s a great song without him. Willie’s tune, co-written with Simmons, is just okay. I have always favored Doobies tunes that are slightly more epic and moody, like Clear As The Driven Snow from The Captain and Me. Nobody (the song) surely falls into this category.

There are some clunkers (Old Juarez is a cool tune but is a total rip off of Smooth minus the Santana guitar and Rob Thomas vocal), but overall it’s a nice, solid album and I have already listened to it more than I thought I would. The majority falls into that good old rock and roll category a la Rockin' Down the Highway or Listen to the Music. And that ain’t a bad thing. You a Doobies fan? Get the album.

And if you are wondering if the Doobies can still cut it live, check this out:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Beatles on iTunes Store - Snooooore

I have bought and re-bought the Beatles. Got all the original releases on vinyl when I was a kid. Then bought some of them again when I realized I could get Apple issues at the used record store. Kind of cool to have Beatles albums first released in the 60s.

Then of course CDs came around and I had to get them all on disc. And then a couple of years ago they finally figured out how to make the CDs sound good, so I chose to re-buy them all over again.

Now thanks to the powers that be burying the hatchet yesterday, I have the option of getting them digitally via iTunes and of course I say no thanks. I already have all the superior-sounding CDs imported into iTunes for my iPod and have zero need for AAC quality versions.

I imagine I am not alone. But I guess for the younger set who may just want to buy a song here or there, it's nice to have the Beatles finally on iTunes. But I feel like that generation doesn't pay for its music anyway and probably got the tunes free from a file sharing service or their grandpa.

But dang SOMEONE is buying it up - According to this Mashable article:

Eleven of the top 25 albums on iTunes are Beatles records, including the full Beatles Box Set, which is currently at number 11 on the charts. In addition, more than 60 of the top 200 songs are Beatles tunes.

Sure, John, Paul, Ringo and George aren’t enough to knock Rihanna, Rascal Flatts and the Glee cast off the top of the charts, but these albums are 40-plus years old. We’re also smack dab in the middle of the biggest music release window of the year.

So what the hell do I know? I'm just glad people may be discovering this music for the first time. I wish I could do that all over again!

Speaking of Beatles discovery, I bet you've never seen this little clip:

Monday, November 08, 2010

Emerson Lake and Palmer Throw In The Towel

I remember back in the 80s going to see Emerson Lake and (Cozy) Powell in Oakland California and telling my brother who is 10 years older than me and grew up in the 70s (ELP's heyday). He said "Those guys are still playing that old shit?"

Yeah they were and they still rocked. The ELPowell album is fairly solid and at least had the pretty decent single Touch and Go. But touch and go sums up the band's career afterwards. Carl Palmer rejoined for a long stint in the 90s and the band put out some great DVDs of 70s stuff I had never seen. The studio albums were frankly pretty terrible and not worth mentioning.

The band called it quits (again) 12 years ago but reformed for a one-off gig last July headlining the High Voltage Festival event in Victoria Park, London for their 40th anniversary. Carl Palmer last week had this to say to Classic Rock Magazine:

...for reasons I won’t go into it’s always hard to rev it up. We rehearsed for it for a month, which almost killed me. Not the physical side of it, just keeping interested. Me personally, I didn’t need a month. But that’s what we did, and when it came to the gig what you saw was what you got. That’s as good as it will ever be (again). Everyone seemed pretty happy with it, and I think that gig will be far as the three of us can take things.

...I’m not the nervous type. I play all the time. Greg and Keith, on the other hand, were highly nervous and that was part of the problem though they both did the best they could.

And that’s about it, really. There are no plans to do anything else, not from my perspective anyway. I’ve let the other two know that. Being the 40th anniversary, it seemed a great way to finish things. Let’s just leave it there.

This interview of course got me all interested to hear this gig and I found a bootleg and yeah they are pretty scrappy. It sounds like Emerson's hands are freezing cold, and Greg Lake's voice is about an octave lower than in the 70s - all the tunes are in much, much lower keys to accommodate his voice.

Granted, Emerson sounds great for a guy who was diagnosed with repetitive stress syndrome (kind of funny if you are familiar with how he plays keyboards), and had nerve surgery on his arms a few years back. It's gotta be tough to bounce back from that. And he recently had a real health scare that you can read about here. Here's wishing Keith a speedy recovery.

But I agree with Palmer - they are done. But now I want to dig back into my vinyl and crank up Tarkus! Are you ready Eddie!?

For a little comparison, here is the band last July in London:

And in its prime:

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Great Interview with Producer Nick Raskulinecz

Once in a while I will come upon an interview with a musician, producer, manager etc and just yell YES! Mainly this happens when I am getting insights I have never heard before about a band I love or music in general. Or someone who generally tows the line and says the same old shit finally opens up and tells me something I didn't already know.

A recent interview between and producer Nick Raskulinecz is just one of those interviews. Raskulinecz has worked with load of bands, namely Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains and of course Rush. He in fact discloses this little nugget about the band's upcoming album:

There's going to be a lot of cool stuff. We've got six other songs ready to record, and they're probably going to want to write some more when they finish this tour. We'll sit down and figure out how to record everything else. I can already tell you that the title track is going to be one of the coolest things they've ever done. It's going to be epic.

"I told them, 'Don't try to write a single. Don't try to do anything conventional. Give me Rush from back in the day.' They don't need to write something for the sake of radio play. They're Rush! [laughs] So I think the record is going to be a little more bare bones, a little less produced. It's going to be more direct, with killer riffs, solos, pounding drums and Geddy singing up high the way he should. That, to me, is the sound of Rush."

Are you fucking kidding me? Bring it on!

But Raskulinecz also dishes on the state of the music industry and how it has impacted more than just bloated record labels:

I'm more successful than I've ever dreamed I would be. But I still have a hard time finding work. I know a lot of guys wouldn't tell you that, but I don't pull punches. There isn't a lot going on, and I put a lot of the blame on the Internet and illegal downloading. And listen, they call it 'illegal downloading' for a reason, because it's just that: illegal. It really hurts bands, producers; it hurts people across the board.

I know people think that you should get everything free now with the Internet, but people have to realize that artists are trying to make a living from their music. The downloading has marginalized everybody and everything, from artists to producers to guys who drive the trucks to bring the CDs to the stores. Everybody in the music business has been affected.

Raskulinecz also talks about how he hooked up with Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters, as well as his work with the new lineup of Alice In Chains and even a pretty killer Elton John story.

Raskulinecz is a true lover of music and is the real deal. Do yourself a favor and read the whole Nick Raskulinecz interview here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Alice Cooper Loses His Head (and blood, and fake needles etc)

Some British Airways employee must have gotten a shocker when he went through a lost bag owned by Alice Cooper. According to an article in The Express:

As the star flew in from the United States yesterday for his Halloween Night Of Fear shows on Sunday and Monday at the Roundhouse, North London, he discovered that British Airways had lost his bags. He then had to describe the contents of his snakeskin suitcases to bemused airline staff: as well as missing his fake blood and a giant syringe (in parts) that he uses when he “dies” four times on stage, he was also missing his skulls and skeleton limbs.

Hopefully this won't put him on some sort of weird no-fly list!

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Official - The Cars Reunited and Recording

I posted earlier this year about some cryptic photo posted to The Cars' Facebook page that showed the surviving four members of the Cars in a studio somewhere (Bassist Benjamin Orr passed away in 2000). On Friday it was confirmed that the band is reuniting and recording.

According to Yahoo! Music:

After a 23-year break, the Cars have reunited with original frontman/songwriter Ric Ocasek and are working on their first album together since 1987's Door to Door. On on their Facebook page the band recently posted a 73-second clip of themselves in the studio working on a new track called "Blue Tip," and Billboard reports that the Cars are recording a new album and may be planning tour dates.

In July the Cars hinted at a possible reunion with Ocasek, who previously said he'd never take part in one, when they posted a photo of the four surviving bandmembers together in a Boston studio. In 2005, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and guitarist Elliot Easton launched the New Cars with Todd Rundgren at the microphone, but that project ended in 2007. Any hopes for a full Cars reunion ended in 2000 when bassist-singer Benjamin Orr passed away from pancreatic cancer. The Cars' official website is currently "under construction," so more information is likely to come.

As I noted previously, The Cars were always boring as paint drying onstage but I gotta say that every time I hear an old school Cars tune on the radio, I think they were just a tight rock and roll band. The New Wave image put them in a weird box for me, but they are right there with bands of the era like Cheap Trick, Tom Petty etc who just made great radio-friendly rock songs with good players.

Ocasek's recent work with No Doubt showed me that he has not lost his touch. The songs Don't Let Me Down and Platinum Blonde Life from the band's Rock Steady album sound like, well, Cars songs! I was actually shocked how much Don't Let Me Down sounds like mid 80s Cars, down to the keyboard sound and part. Check it out for yourself.

Check out the video mentioned in the above article. It's full bore Cars but sounds very contemporary. I have feeling this comeback is going to go well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bloggers Unite!

Hey everyone, sorry for my lack of blogging as of late. Work has been insane and I have not been able to devote much time to anything else. Should lighten up soon though and I do have some CDs, DVDs and shows to review in the next couple of months, so there.

But I did make time to meet up last Monday night with fellow blogger and international spokesperson for the city of Philadelphia not taxing bloggers, Seano of Circle of Fits. Seano is a great singer who joined the Boston band Bang Camaro and toured the country, entertaining us all with his postings from the road. He is also a HUGE KISS fan. So be sure to drop him a comment if you see any news about Gene Simmons.

Here are the two of us. Sean looks great and I look like I am in a pressure chamber. What the hell happened to my HEAD?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jason Bonham Trots Out the Zep

So let's recap. After the Zeppelin reunion a couple of years ago, there were loads of rumors that the band would get back together and tour. But of course Robert Plant scuttled the idea - he was doing great on his own thank you very much, and despite the fact that they totally pulled off that reunion show, a close examination of the bootlegs reveal some dropped tunings and Plant doing a great job but really JUST pulling it off. No way he could do a whole tour.

So next the rumors were that the other three guys were looking at singers so they could go on without him. Even this year there were confirmations that Page, Jones and Bonham had been chomping at the bit to get out and play but nothing clicked with singers, so it didn't happen. Jones joined the truly excellent Them Crooked Vultures, Page put out a book and Bonham re-joined...ahem...Foreigner.

Until this year. Bonham announced the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience - basically a Zeppelin tribute band with the son of a founding member. Like if Julian Lennon trotted out a John Lennon Experience Tour or something. A little bogus and kind of obvious.

I thought this was totally skippable until I saw the below video clip from opening night.

From Bonham's Web Site: [10-09-2010] The opening night of the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience tour was a fantastic show! Jason would like to thank the fans for the well wishes and support.

Setlist of the first show included: Immigrant Song, Celebration Day, I Can't Quit You Baby, Your Time is Gonna Come, Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, Dazed and Confused, Lemon Song, Thank You, Moby Dick, [Intermission] Act 2: Friends, Since I've Been Loving You, Black Dog, The Ocean, The Song Remains the Same, I'm Gonna Crawl, Stairway to Heaven, Kashmir. Encores: Whole Lotta Love, Rock & Roll.

Sounds pretty sweet. What do you think?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Oldie But A Goodie - Geddy Lee My Favorite Headache

I ran into a video on the blog WeWillRockYou, of Geddy Lee making his one and only solo album, 2000's My Favorite Headache. I remember a couple of things about this CD - first off, it came out during Rush's hiatus when Neil Peart was dealing with his family tragedies. So I remember tripping out on thinking what this would sound like if it were a Rush album.

Next I thought - wow, Geddy can write lyrics! Musically there was some super heavy bass stuff and some ballady types of things, but pretty much what you would expect. My other thought was that he brings a LOT to the Rush equation and that a lot of these songs would be great Rush songs. But I also thought the same thing about Alex Lifeson's Victor CD. So I don't know. I think their contributions are pretty equal.

Anyway, overall the Geddy CD is good - the link to iTunes is here. At least blaze through the 30 second samples and see what you think. Oh, and I guess the reason this was posted in the first place is that there are various reports that Geddy might do a second one. But the closest I could find is him saying he wouldn't rule it out, which doesn't sound like much to me.

I had never seen this video. Enjoy:

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Vote For My CD in 2011 Portland Music Awards - Please

Hey everyone. I have been blogging here for about five years - this is post #666 as a matter of fact (ooooh scary!) and I have done a minimal bit of self promotion in all of that time. I have posted videos from my various bands - colorfield, Flat Stanley and Pink Floyd tribute band The Floydian Slips but for the most part have blogged about the music and musicians we love to love and love to hate.

Of course this year I did pimp my first ever solo CD pretty hard, called A Fear of Flashing Light. The response to this CD has been past my wildest expectations and I am very proud of the effort. So it is in this spirit for the first time in 666 posts that I ask you to actually DO anything beyond indulging in my musical musings.

Portland's annual Portland Music Awards voting is open, and if you feel so inclined, I'd love for you to vote for my CD in the best Indie album category. You don't need to register, provide an email, name or anything. You simply copy "Paul Lesinski - A Fear of Flashing Light," paste it into the "best album - indie" category and hit submit. It will take you less than a minute. That's it! Can you do it now, while the idea is right in front of you.

A Million Thanks!


Friday, October 01, 2010

Gillan and Iommi To Pair Up Again for Armenia

Various reports this week tell of Ian Gillan and Tony Iommi's intention to do another rock song for charity. According to the We Will Rock You web site:

The pair originally collaborated in 1989, when they re-recorded the Deep Purple classic “Smoke on the Water” to help raise money for victims of the Leninakan earthquake that struck Armenia in 1988.

In October of 2009 the pair traveled to Armenia to see first-hand how those funds had helped rebuild the community, but while visiting a local local music school they found that it had not been rebuilt in the wake of the disaster. So next week Iommi and Gillan, joined by ex-Deep Purple/Whitesnake keyboardist Jon Lord and Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain, are slated to go back into the studio. The foursome will record a new song entitled “Out Of My Mind,” and the money raised will go to rebuilding the music school in Armenia.

That is an interesting lineup! Gillan, Iommi, Jon Lord and Nicko McBrain? I have never heard of Nicko playing on anything but Iron Maiden albums. Wow, very cool.

But to say Gillan and Iommi "originally collaborated in 1989" is a vast understatement. Check out the below video. It is a virtual who's who of classic rock in 1989. Roger Taylor from Queen on drums, a thin Chris Squire on bass, Keith Emerson on keyboards. Vocalists include Gillan, Bruce Dickinson and Paul Rodgers. I saw Geoff Downes from Asia in there and the guitar player lineup is off the grid - Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Alex Lifeson, David Gilmour, Brian May. Holy moly! Why had I never heard of this before?

It's not the best version of the song but that lineup makes it worth watching all the way through. Also nice to know that half of the Born Again era of Sabbath will be working together again soon. I do love that weird assed album.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CD Review - Neil Young - Le Noise

I never know what to expect from Neil Young, and I like that about him. But what it means is that I approach each new release with caution. I am not a 'completist' who feels the need to own everything he has ever put out. I check out the videos, the samples on iTunes etc. More often than not these days, I actually pass on Neil's new stuff.

But I have been fired up to get Neil's new Le Noise album ever since I saw the video for Walk With Me. Available today, this is a special Neil release unlike anything he has ever given us. And as a guitar player who also loves raw tones, gritty production and 'real' playing, there is a lot to love. From the insane overdriven electric of Walk With Me to the gorgeous acoustic tone of Peaceful Valley Boulevard, Neil hits this one so far out of the park, the ball is the next county.

The closest I can compare Le Noise to is some of the material from Paul McCartney and Youth's The Fireman Electric Arguments album, which I also love for its sonic insanity and experimental bent.

One of my favorite Neil albums is Ragged Glory from 1990, with Crazy Horse. On Le Noise he has the same dirty-assed electric guitar tone but no band. The absence of bass and guitar leaves room for all sorts of ear candy. Weird effects on the voice, delay loops on everything, ghost guitars in the background.

The opening track, Walk With Me sets the stage for the whole album - Neil solo on gritty electric with delays and loops on the vocals. The next tune, Sign of Love, could be great with Crazy Horse - sounds like an outtake from Ragged Glory. Track 5, Angry World, is so far my favorite tune - it could be a beautiful acoustic song, but Neil chooses to deliver it in what sounds like the same tuning and tone as Cinnamon Girl, with a mesmerizing vocal loop that runs underneath the whole song.

There are two straight acoustic tunes on Le Noise as well, and these are up there with Neil's best. For example, Love and War is an INCREDIBLE song, vocally, melodically, everything. Neil sings, "I've sang songs about love, I've sang songs about war, since the back streets of Toronto." Yes he has. The song is gorgeous and poignant but again, in the hands of Crazy Horse this song will be a killer live.

The other acoustic song, Peaceful Valley Boulevard, clocks in at a hair more than seven minutes and is stony and slow, but with that 'drunken Indian' chunky rhythm Neil has been using since Down By The River. Despite a couple of lyrical head scratchers, those seven minutes go by fast.

Vocally, Neil vacillates between powerful over-the top shouting a la Rockin In The Free World and fragile delivery like on Silver and Gold. Props to producer Daniel Lanois who made the production on the whole CD something really special. Lanois clearly encouraged Neil to be as live and crazy as he could. There are loads of mic pops, string slides, amp hum and general noisiness especially as the songs fade out.

Side note - why does Neil always have a Stones rip off on his best CDs? The chorus to Hitchhiker is basically No Expectations from Beggar's Banquet, and I have lost count of how many times Neil has nicked a variation of the Jumpin Jack Flash riff, from Crime in the City to Welfare Mothers to Mr Soul!

On the CD closer, Rumblin', it sounds like Lanois just fed the whole damn mix through a fuzz box as Neil sings "when will I learn how to listen, when will I learn how to feel, when will I learn how to give back, when will I learn how to heal?" Awesome closer.

There are only eight songs on this CD but that is plenty. The sonic experimentation on six of these eight is really interesting and sets the whole mood of course, but at the core the songs are good too - it's not just a gimmick. It would be classic for Neil to put out Le Noise part two and do all these songs with a band. I'd buy that too.

Here is the video that got me fired up for this album in the first place:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rush Passed Over Again for Rock and Roll Hall - Fuck Off Rolling Stone

I guess this ought to be no surprise at all, but Rush has yet AGAIN been passed over for nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yeah I know it's a closed club led by a so-called expert panel but the bias is infuriating. If you are going to have a rock and roll hall of fame, put the best rock and roll bands in it, for fuck's sake.

Rush has great momentum right now. The band is selling out arenas and amphitheaters in a year when artists are canceling tours or selling tickets for $10 to get warm bodies in the door. The movie Beyond the Lighted Stage is critically acclaimed and is turning even more new fans onto the band. Rush is in the top 75 of all-time record sales by any artist, and has more consecutive Gold records in the US than ANY band except the Stones, Beatles and Who.

So who, you might ask, did get nominated this year? Donovan. WTF, he sucks ass and influenced um, NO ONE except he may have influenced me to pull my eardrums out... Donna Summer. Hmmm.... Alice Cooper. Good... Beastie Boys. OK, but really? Before Rush? Bon Jovi? Really? More influence, record sales, longevity? Not compared to Rush. Oh forget it, this is a futile post.

I mean look at this nominating committee. Who in the fuck are these people? I recognize a bunch of them from Rolling Stone magazine, and of course Robbie Robertson and Steven Van Zandt. Well, you know what? Fuck you Robbie, fuck you Steven and fuck you Rolling Stone. My subscription just ended and I won't be renewing. This is bullshit and everyone knows it. Man up and put Rush in the HOF.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Alex Lifeson's Acting Debut - Video

...well not really. I mean, I'd count his hilarious appearances in the Rush pre-concert videos as acting because he plays characters, is funny, and pretty random too! But Lifeson has an actual small film role as a border guard in the recent not so great movie Suck.

It comes out on DVD soon, but here is the Lifeson scene. I thought it was pretty good.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Roger Waters "The Wall" Tour Opens - Spoiler Videos From Rog Himself

So we don't need to worry about set list spoilers for the Roger Waters Wall tour that just started this week - we know he's doing The Wall, and if you didn't know that...well, I just don't know what to say.

So the things to avoid if you are trying to be surprised at the show are videos from the gigs depicting the visuals. You know, video of the wall crashing to the ground at the end of the show etc.

If you want to remain in the dark about what you may see at the show DO NOT watch the below two videos from Roger's site. There are loads and loads of spoilers and I am kind of sorry I watched them. But with my memory, come December when I see the shows I won't recall any of this anyway. Suffice it to say the production looks incredible. No. FUCKING incredible. I have tickets to the 12/6 show and will almost certainly try and score one for 12/8. This is a once in a lifetime, must see event.


Some fan observations and video from opening night:

Katy Perry Too Hot For Elmo?

This is pretty funny. Katy Perry filmed an appearance for Sesame Street that got a bunch of complaints from parents when it was posted online, so it has been pulled from the show.

The AP reported:

The children's show says it won't air a taped segment featuring the "California Gurls" singer and Elmo. The pop star — who is known for her risque outfits — wore a gold bustier top as she sang a version of her hit "Hot N Cold." But some felt it was too revealing for the kid set.

Sesame Street said in a statement Thursday that in light of the "feedback we've received" after the bit was aired on YouTube, they won't include it on the show. While the show said it was still available on YouTube, it had been removed by the official Sesame Street YouTube channel. Other versions on YouTube have generated thousands of hits.

First off, who provided this 'feedback?' My guess is that these people also listen to guys like Rush Limbaugh and think he speaks to them. Give me a break. Then again, she is pretty hot with a muppet. Dig it yo-self but don't blame me if you want to rinse your ears out afterwards:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Abbey Road Medley Sans Vocals

I am not sure how people get a hold of stuff like this but damn am I glad that they do. Just like the Sgt Pepper deconstructed post I made last year, here is the 16 minute Abbey Road side 2 medley without any vocals. Pretty damn cool if you ask me. Enjoy it at this link (it's a Facebook video - could not find it on YouTube).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nelly Furtado Covers Rush!

I don't usually just pop up videos on this blog for a video's sake but I thought this would interest any Rush fan out there. Nelly Furtado (whose song I'm Like A Bird is her most memorable and frankly a great song - gotta love that Mellotron intro!) covered Time Stand Still from Rush's Hold Your Fire album at a recent concert.

There is a well-shot YouTube of the rehearsal and gig. She does a good job but I think her band is also fairly interesting. The drummer is for sure doing his best to merge Neil's part with what makes sense at a Nelly Furtado concert. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Fear of Flashing Light -- CD Release Videos

Hey all - I have been pretty absent from my blog lately because I had a big CD release show last Friday and needless to say there was a lot of work leading up to it. It all paid off, with a song played on KINK radio's Local Music Spotlight last Thursday and a nice blurb in The Oregonian's A&E five live section, where they suggest five top shows for the week. There I was, sandwiched between Brad Paisley and the Scissor Sisters.

The show was off the hook - I turned it into an all-star jam that included various musicians I play with in other local bands such as colorfield and my Pink Floyd tribute band The Floydian Slips, running 14 years strong now.

We did almost all the music from the CD A Fear of Flashing Light, plus some colorfield tunes, covers and jams. Here are three of the better ones, for your viewing enjoyment.

This is the first track from the CD, done live:

This song was written by a guy named Jerry Joseph who deserves a blog post all his own:

An old tune of mine made new with this live version:

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Concert Review (sort of) - ASIA

This Friday I have a big gig - my CD release show and all star jam in Portland. Three hours, 30 songs, 11 musicians (not all onstage at the same time, though!). It's going to be pretty epic. KINK Radio will play a song tomorrow on the Local Music Spotlight at around 9:15 p.m. Pacific Time. There may be some press on Friday, we'll see...

Anyway, it's clearly a big show for me and so I faced a dilemma. The only night the core band of six could get together was last night - same night as Asia in Portland at the Aladdin. I have had a ticket for ages and as long-time readers know, due to heart attacks, heart surgery and god knows what else, Asia has cancelled Portland shows the last couple of times out.

My rehearsal was to end at 9:30, with the Asia ticket saying an 8 p.m. showtime. If there was an opener, I wouldn't miss much. But nope, no opener. The ONE time a band plays and does not drag along an opener, it works majorly to my disadvantage. Oh well.

I just resigned myself to it, had a great rehearsal and trucked over to the Aladdin to catch the last 30 minutes. I walked in during the middle of End of the World, a pretty good new tune. Next up was Open Your Eyes from Alpha and a Carl Palmer drum solo.

Now I had seen Palmer with a three piece instrumental group in this very venue (which only seats about 650 by the way) a few years ago and he blew me away. He was excellent last night but his solo was a bit more showy than last time. More balancing sticks on cymbals, bouncing sticks off the floor tom and catching them, etc, than just kicking ass on the drums. But he was indeed good and the crowd went totally apeshit. Seemed to be mostly men in their 50s - guys who loved ELP, Yes and King Crimson and went to this show because Asia was the next best thing.

The show ended with Sole Survivor, which was great. For the encore, the new Days Like These, and Heat of the Moment, I got to the very front to watch Steve Howe (see photo), one of my guitar heroes. I have seen Howe a bunch of times and he's always very good. He seemed a little bored, going through the motions last night, but it was the second to last night of the tour so maybe he was homesick.

I had earplugs in so I could hear very well. The band was incredibly tight. Much tighter than I expected. They were really excellent as a mater of fact. But they were pretty boring. John Wetton doesn't move much, nor does Howe. Geoff Downes has so much keyboard work to do and his back is to the crowd most of the time due to the way he's always set up his stuff. Palmer was the one mostly making loads of eye contact and mugging a bit.

When I was in front of Howe, a speaker was pointed right at my head out of which came Howe's guitar, some vocals and some 'backing vocals.' There has been discussion on the Web around is the band was using vocal augmentation. Here is what I heard: Wetton's voice was clear and live. They put a delay on his voice once in a while to allow held notes to layer and sound big but everyone does that. His voice sounded shockingly awesome. He hit the high notes in Sole Survivor with no effort.

Geoff Downes is doing backups, and they are also legit. But someone is triggering backup vocals a la Rush but not nearly as accurately. In Days Like These, I heard very very clearly the pre-recorded backing vocals, because they were out of sync with the band. Like someone triggered them a hair early or late and it was very obvious. I even saw Wetton roll his eyes a bit playfully, like, oh crap. So that mystery is solved but who cares? Lots of bands do it - Rush does it with vocals, keyboards, guitar parts and god knows what else, so in my book Asia can do it too. They just need to get better at it.

It was pretty incredible to see a band of this caliber in a VERY intimate theater. The audience was really into it at the end. Afterwards, I asked the guitar tech for the set list at Howe's feet. He said he couldn't give it to me because it had notes on it, which it did (I could see it). I said, OK no sweat - can you give this to Steve? And handed him one of my new CDs. Who knows if it went into the trash but MAYBE just maybe Steve Howe heard about a minute of my CD, or at least looked at the cover.

Hey a guy can dream, right?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Rare Dio-Era Rainbow Videos

To get your three-day weekend started off in style (or if you are not the U.S., your 2-day weekend), dig these killer Dio-era Rainbow videos, posted by Rainbow bassist Bob Daisley himself.

The back story, as according to

Bassist Bob Daisley, who was a member of Rainbow from 1977 to 1979, has posted high-quality video footage of the band performing the songs "Gates of Babylon," "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll" and "L.A. Connection" at a New York studio prior to the release of the band's third studio album, 1978's "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll." 

Although Bob Daisley and David Stone are listed on the "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll" credits for their contributions, they joined Rainbow after the recording sessions had already commenced and only appear on a couple of tracks. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore played most of the bass parts himself for the album.

They are pretty obviously miming along but the vocals are for sure different from the record so maybe those were live. Regardless, these are pretty cool. Enjoy:

Gates of Babylon

Long Live Rock N Roll

LA Connection

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

CD Review - Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier

Iron Maiden’s smash hit new album (I am not kidding -- check this out) The Final Frontier combines what we expect from Maiden (time signature and tempo changes galore, dual and triple guitar harmonies, galloping bass and apocalyptic lyrics) with some new twists (slide guitar, some gorgeous acoustic picking, and – gasp – electronic drums). Overall it’s a strong release, and after a few listens here is a sort of song by song take:

First song is in two parts. The first part, called Satellite 15, starts with something I have never heard on a Maiden album, which is heavily distorted Steve Harris bass, transitioning into a bit of a heavy metal jazz odyssey with heavily processed vocals and another first, electronic drums. A bit of a stretch for me here, but then half way through, the song jumps into the Maiden we know and love, as the song The Final Frontier.

Actually I had heard this second half before, as it came out on video a month ago. It’s very melodic. Good guitars and vocal melody but lyrically a little clunky. Kind of like a heavy metal version of Elton John’s Rocket Man, or David Bowie’s Space Oddity, but not as good.

This 8:41 opener goes right into El Dorado, which Maiden released online a while ago too. So I know this one and even saw them play it live. It’s a great tune and really kicks ass live.

Third track, Mother of Mercy, is very, very melodic. Guitars are almost jangling on this song. What I like about this is that with KISS for example, they feel obligated for every guitar tone to be totally overdriven to prove how much they rock. Maiden is cool with clean guitar tones and this song, while about soldiers and war (of course), has a lot of very clean, cool guitar tones on it. Good tune.

Fourth track, Coming Home is really solid – sounds a bit like Revelations but lyrically is about what space travelers feel when their mission is over and they land back on Earth. But you can read into this as a personal band road story too. Very cool – a bit of a departure from Maiden who don’t usually write about personal topics. Some great multi-part guitar harmonies on this one and a nice trading solos center section. Next up is The Alchemist. Upbeat tune. Again great guitar harmonies.

Island of Avalon is a nine-plus minute Steve Harris bass-driven tune a la To Tame A Land but really more like the center section of Seventh Son of A Seventh Son. Very nice chorus effect on the bass – again a nice, pure tone. As with most things Maiden, things move along and change quickly. Before you know it, you are in the 7/8 time center solo section, which I have to say is some of the coolest, trickiest new Maiden I have heard in a long time. If you only wanted to get one song off this CD and lean towards Maiden’s more epic, Steve Harris material, this one is your track. Otherwise, it's El Dorado.

Starlight is another good tune that sort of chugs along in the verses and straightens out in the choruses, which are also a bit of a Seventh Son throwback, chordally. This song is a great example of how with three guitars, the band can have a crunchy complex dual-guitar rhythm going, and then add a cool layer of lead fills or melody over the top. And the solo section is another 7/8 crank fest – they are flexing their 7/8 chops on this CD, and as usual drummer Nicko makes it sound very fluid. Never have been sure how he changes beats, time signatures, grooves etc on a dime but he does, and always has.

The Talisman is a nine-minute tune that starts with some very cool acoustic guitar picking. My guess is that this is driven by Janick Gers, who despite being totally annoying live brought more of a Genesis style open picked chordal feel to a lot of Maiden’s more recent quiet stuff. Shit, this song almost sounds like Steve Hackett on Entanged from Trick of the Tail! Love it. Very different. Of course this acoustic intro bashes into full Maiden gallop overdrive after a couple of minutes and yeah we’ve heard this before but it was good then and it’s good now. Handle it. There is actually some slide guitar in this song and I am not sure I have heard much of that over the years…

The last two songs are long epics as well. The first starts with bass chords, a repeating guitar melody and some moody synth. Maiden embraced synth way back on Seventh Son and I always thought it worked well in these quieter sections. Both of these last songs are top notch with some epic Maiden moments. Overall I give the album a 7 out of 10. For sure worth getting if you are a Maiden fan.

I have to say, after seeing the band on the last tour I went back and bought Brave New World and Dance of Death. I still far prefer A Matter of Life and Death and I hear this as a continuation of that latter album. Very real guitar tones, not a lot of processing on anything. Certainly a CD I will come back to more than a few times. I hope the Final Frontier tour comes back to my neck of the woods – these songs will be great live. Up the Irons!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Iron Maiden Debuts in U.S. at #4 - Their Highest U.S. Spot Ever - and is #1 in 21 Other Countries

Dig the press release below. With zero support from radio singles, reality TV or having its songs in movies, Iron Maiden has somehow managed to have their new Final Frontier album debut at the band's highest U.S. chart spot ever (#4), and have the release debut at #1 in 21 other countries.

Yes, these days you need to sell fewer units to get on the charts compared to the old days, but all boats lower equally in that scenario. Meaning, that is the case for every album on the charts now. It's all relative.

I just got the CD yesterday (trying to bump them up to #3 you see) and it's very good. I will post a review later this week after I soak in in a bit more.





Recent Billboard Magazine headline says it all: “Iron Maiden Slays Rivals…”

Iron Maiden have more than earned their status as one of the foremost contemporary and influential Rock bands in the World as they debut at #1 on sales charts in 21 countries to date with their 15th studio album, The Final Frontier. Released August 17, 2010, from UMe in the U.S. (released in the rest of the world through EMI), The Final Frontier commands the #4 position on the Billboard’s Top 200 Chart, making this their highest ever Billboard Chart entry in the U.S.

With their ever increasing popularity worldwide, based on their legion of loyal fans and the perpetual addition of new young fans, Iron Maiden are able to continually take their place on the uppermost reaches of the charts and fill stadiums and arenas all over the planet year after year.

In addition to their No. 1 spots on the charts in 21 countries to date, maiden are currently No. 2 in Australia, Belgium, Holland, No. 3 in Ireland, Poland and Turkey, No 4 in USA and No 5 in Singapore

The band reunited with longtime Maiden producer Kevin “Caveman” Shirley in early 2010 to record The Final Frontier at Compass Point Studios, Nassau, where they recorded the albums Piece Of Mind (’83), Powerslave (’84) and Somewhere In Time (’86) albums. Bruce Dickinson (vocals) , Steve Harris (bass), Nicko McBrain (drums) and Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers (guitars) are clearly the ultimate Iron Maiden lineup, and one that has become increasingly fearless and boldly creative.

"...the new Iron Maiden album--which is actually everything you might expect, bedecked with a fine, tasteful cover, and emerging in an era where it now has more meaning than ever, since Iron Maiden has become, almost by default, the Heavy Metal icons an entire generation must now strive to equal!" – Yahoo! Music

Thirty years after their eponymous debut album in April 1980 and with more than 80-million albums sold, Iron Maiden are more creatively vibrant, dynamic and relevant than ever. Having completed another North American tour in front of over 350,000 fans in 25 cities, creating a cutting edge video, “The Final Frontier“ produced by the award-winning production company Darkside Animation Films (“Lost in Space,” “Gladiator” and “Black Hawk Down”), and a mind-blowing new stage show, Maiden are in blistering form and ready to take their music into 2011 and beyond.

All chart positions confirmed to date are as follows -

No. 1 – Arabia, Austria, Brazil*, Bulgaria*, Canada, Chile**, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Finland, Japan+, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK,

No. 2 – Australia, Belgium, Holland

No. 3 – Ireland, Poland, Turkey*

No. 4 – USA

No. 5 - Singapore

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy 57th Birthday to Alex Lifeson

Cannot believe this guy is 57, but then again he's younger than Paul Stanley so what the hell. As a guitarist I feel like Lifeson is at the top of his game. Goes to show that rockin' ain't just for the young.

Alex and Geddy Lee told VH1 radio about their birthday rituals:

“(Geddy Lee) Well after I stop crying, I start drinking heavily. (Alex Lifeson) It’s interesting for me this summer because I celebrated my 21st birthday about a week or ten days or so after we went on the road on our first tour in Minneapolis. And we’ll be playing on my 57th birthday in Minneapolis.”

Happy birthday Lerxt! Here are a couple of solos through the ages:



20 Years Ago Today - Stevie Ray Vaughan Dies

Stevie Ray Vaughan died 20 years ago today in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin. I don't post a lot about SRV but I always loved his playing and thought he carried the Hendrix torch better than almost anybody. My favorite songs of his were the longer, slower ones like Tin Pan Alley and the incredible Riviera Paradise.

It seemed like, just as with Hendrix, that Stevie was getting into some new more jazzier kinds of music when he died. I wonder how much great music he would have produced over the last 20 years. We'll never know, but for today dig on this incredible live take of Riviera Paradise:

Alex Lifeson Spills New Rush Album Deets

As you'd expect, Rush is granting interviews across the country to pimp the Time Machine tour, which by all accounts is doing fantastic numbers. Many venues sold out etc. That is no small feat in this economy where the touring business is finally taking a big hit this year. Good for them.

But unlike, say, KISS - who trot out the exact same soundbites in every interview - the Rush guys will disclose little nuggets of information here and there. Maybe they are more talkative that day, maybe the interviewer is asking the right questions. But whatever the case, you gotta pay attention.

Along these lines, Alex Lifeson spilled some great details to the Allentown Pennsylvania paper The Morning Call. This Morning Call Alex Lifeson interview betrays these nuggets:

[Neil] Peart proposed the idea of doing an entire album after he saw Steely Dan on a recent tour.

"He was really impressed with the fact that they were doing different albums night to night," Lifeson says. "That's perhaps a little ambitious for us."

So Rush decided to do just one of its albums on the tour. The band had already decided to perform "The Camera Eye," the longest song on "Moving Pictures," for its current tour, so it was an easy leap to choose the album.

"We thought it would be a nice way to incorporate doing that song, a little more of a special presentation," Lifeson says. "The other stuff from that album, we've been doing for a while on and off, but it was nice to condense it all into the album and present it that way."

First of all, I love that Neil suggested doing Moving Pictures, and that he got the idea from a Steely Dan tour. So many bands live in a bubble and don't listen to anyone else's music. Rush has never been that way. Peart has said that he was a big fan of The Talking Heads and The Police in the late 70s, and that this helped move the band from epic pieces to stuff like Spirit of Radio and certainly the more ska and reggae stuff on Signals and Grace Under Pressure.

More from the article:

Lifeson says the band has six songs pretty much ready to go and three others almost done. The group plans to write at least a couple of additional songs after the tour. At this point, the CD is shaping up to be a musically varied work.

"There is the epic song, 'Clockwork Angels,' which is really taking shape. It's a multi-parted piece, very dynamic," Lifeson says. "Then there's some stuff that's very melodic and on the softer side, on acoustic, with a strong melody. So there's great diversity there. Honestly, I can't wait until we start really working on these songs. We've sort of got them to the stage where Geddy and I were happy with the arrangements and then Neil kind of comes in and starts working on his drum arrangements, and they go from there. So they're sort of in that pre-drum stage right now, and it's great to see them come to life."

Epic? Multi-parted piece? Say no MORE! The last one of those we got was The Camera Eye, which of course they are playing on this tour. Sweet!

Can't wait to hear this new album. In the meantime, here is The Camera Eye from the opening night of the tour in New Mexico:

...and the killer new song Caravan:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Interview - Iron Maiden Illustrator Derek Riggs

When I was getting into Iron Maiden in high school, part of the band's appeal was the insanely over the top, gory artwork on the band's album covers and how it seemed to evolve over time and connect with the previous album's artwork. It was very clever and appealing to me, while also a bit morbid. Perfect for high school.

The first couple of albums were just crazy Eddie killing people in alleys. But around Piece of Mind, themes began to emerge. Lobotomized Eddie. Egyptian God Eddie. Terminator Eddie. I must have logged as many hours staring at the Powerslave artwork as I did studying sophomore English. More, probably.

Album covers like Sabbath's The Mob Rules had as big an impact but with less mystery. It was less about "oh, what does this weird symbol in the background mean" and more about "Jesus these guys are total devil worshippers."

Turns out that all of Maiden artwork until 2002's Fear of the Dark was done by a guy named Derek Riggs. Of course I knew that because Maiden put everyone who did anything for the band into its tour programs - another reason I thought/think the band is so cool - and Riggs was always in some weird photo.

But he had a falling out with the band's management and refused to do any more art for them, even signing over the rights to the images he had created over the years. He is a real artist's artist, this guy, and in this Metal Sucks interview with Derek Riggs, we get these nuggets:

I was always trying to make the albums flow from one to the next. There’s more than just a bunch of pictures. There’s a visual, symbolic language that’s shared between releases. [laughs] Of course, I made Maiden think that it was them that was doing that.

When I’m painting a cover, this is what’s going through my head. The cover for the CD or record is the front end, but what’s making the money for the band is the merchandise. Of course, in [the band members'] minds, they’re the equal of Mozart. But if you’re like the FBI and follow the money, you’ll see that the band is just a front for a very large merchandising operation. The band might not know enough to know this, but I know it. So you look at a cover and think, “That’s not going to make a good shirt

I was right on the border of this for Somewhere in Time. The artwork is good on the record to hold in your hands, but it almost doesn’t work on a t-shirt.

Really, I’ve done zombies. At this point, it’s like, “How do you want your zombie? Would you like him with a burning city behind him or with lightning? Do you want him boiled or fried?” [laughs]

It's a really solid interview - check out the whole thing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Selfish Dickhead Commits Suicide at Swell Season Concert

OK now this is just weird. I saw the Swell Season last Friday at the Portland Zoo and didn't hear a thing about this at the time, although I imagine the band would not say anything from the stage about it, obviously. But the night before, someone had killed themselves at their concert by jumping from the roof of the theater, landing onstage on a speaker. Holy shit.

The Huffington Post reported:

A man jumped at least 20 feet to his death onto the stage of a Northern California concert in front of hundreds of horrified music fans, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said Friday.

The Swell Season was playing an outdoor show at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga in front of a crowd of about 1,900 when the jump happened Thursday night.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Rick Sung says authorities are treating the death as a suicide. Sung said the man's identity will not be released.

Sung says the man left a friend in the audience around 10 p.m. and soon appeared on a roof that covers the stage. Witnesses say he jumped off the roof and landed on stage near the band's lead singer, Glen Hansard.

Witnesses said Hansard removed his guitar and walked over to the man's body.

The jumper was pronounced dead by a doctor in attendance who spent an hour trying to revive him.

So, what the hell? I guess if someone is that fucked up either emotionally or on drugs, it is irrelevant where they decide to off themselves but I guarantee there were loads of kids at this show (there were in Portland) and come on - The Swell Season? Not exactly music you want to kill yourself to.

Suicide is so selfish but in this and all other cases it outa be private too. Why do this in front of thousands of people trying to have a nice evening? Bullshit.

The person who posted the below video on YouTube wrote: I filmed this about two minutes before a man jumped from the roof behind the stage and killed himself. I hope it conveys some of the intense beauty of The Swell Season's music and the type of evening that was taking place when it ended abruptly with a thud as the man hit the stage roughly where the violinist is standing in this video. It went from such an emotional high to a tragic low in an instant.

Oh and the song they were about to go into? Falling Slowly, from the movie Once. Bizzaro...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Ian Gillan

Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan turns 65 today - wow, 65! I have loved Purple since I first heard them back in high school. I recall heading to the used record store (Streetlight Records in San Jose, California), coming home with In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head and of course Live In Japan.

I was ultra fired up when the Mark IV version reunited in the 80s and put out the fantastic Perfect Strangers album and the pretty good House of the Blue Light follow up. I saw both supporting tours and was blown away each time.

Back in the 80s, Gillan had just wrapped up his short stint with Sabbath on the Born Again album and tour. I did not see that tour but that crazy album still holds a place in my metal heart. It's when the band started to jump the shark but Gillan's screech went over pretty well and who can argue the intensity of Zero the Hero, Trashed and the title track?

On those Purple tours, I could tell Gillan's voice was starting to give him problems. After Child In Time, he'd take a break while the guys did an instrumental, and he coughed a fair amount onstage. I am pretty sure he has not sung that song in years.

I was also stoked to learn Gillan played the role of Jesus on the studio LP of Jesus Christ Superstar prior to the movie and Ted Neeley's still-chugging-along-as-a-65-year-old-Jesus run at the role.

Anyway, what a great career and it's still going! Gillan just told VH1 Radio: “I think time, obviously, catches up with everyone, but it’s certainly not something we’re planning at the moment, everyone’s in pretty good shape. I don’t think we specifically try hard. We all had a pretty healthy life.”

Here's a nugget from back in the day. Happy Birthday Ian!

Child In Time:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Waters and Gilmour Reunion Video - Comfortably Numb and Brick 2

David Gilmour's official YouTube page just posted full versions of the four songs played in July at The Hoping Foundation Charity Event. For sure not the best picture or audio quality but damn it's great to see these two together again! The below is video of the latter two songs - Comfortably Numb and Brick In The Wall Part 2. Enjoy:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Video of Rogers Waters and David Gilmour Reunion

I posted last month about the great burying of the hatchet on July 10, 2010 where David Gilmour invited Roger Waters to appear with him at a charity benefit for an intimate audience of 200 lucky-assed motherfuckers. Waters agreed, then hedged, but in the end did it after Gilmour upped the ante and said he'd play on Comfortably Numb at an upcoming to be determined Wall gig. Wow!

Today, Waters sent an email to his fan base with a two minute snip of the performance, saying:

"Hi everyone,

Here is a two minute taster of the gig David and I did together for The Hoping Foundation back in July. The sound quality is crap but it was a great night for me, and for him, and also for "US and THEM".

Please support the Hoping Foundation; they are doing great work for refugee children. David and I have given the charity the whole 29 minutes and I'm told they're going to put it up at approximately 5 pm BST on Monday, August 16.

Go to to see the full video and please support the charity if you can."

Vimeo won't let me embed the video yet but you can see it here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rush and Tom Petty Classic Album Releases

I posted about this a while ago, but I think the Eagle Vision Classic Album series is one of the best music-related shows out there. They spend an hour or more picking apart classic albums from bands from U2 to Floyd to Cream, interviewing the band, producers, engineers, managers, hell the dude who swept out the studio...

Just watch the DVD on The Band's first two albums. They are able to interview Rick Danko before he passed, and the breaking down of the music by isolating tracks in the studio is breathtaking. Same with The Who's Who's Next album.

These DVDs are top notch and I am so stoked that there are two new ones out this year that I will watch more than a few times. The first I already posted about is Rush 2112 and Moving Pictures. This one will be out next month and it looks like one DVD covers both albums, so I hope it's extra long.

The other one I just found out about today, and it's Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Damn the Torpedoes. It is available right now.

Below are trailers for the DVDs I just mentioned. Rumor has it that they would like to do The Wall. Actually, the bottom of this article talks about what it takes to put these out and some of the artists they are thinking about. It's an interesting read.

Damn The Torpedoes:

2112/Moving Pictures:

Who's Next:

The Band: