Friday, January 29, 2010

Rush Tour in 2010? Help Decide What They Play

Rumors are heating up that Rush will do some recording and a tour this year. These snips of conjecture are best gathered by so I won't repost it all here.

However, there is a poll going around that asks Rush fans what five songs you would like Rush to bring back from the crypt. The guys who run the poll have kept it to songs that have not been performed at all (even as part of a medley) for at least the last 20 years, with a couple of exceptions explained on the ballot.

Put in your two cents here. What did I choose? Camera Eye, Jacob's Ladder, The Weapon, Chemistry and Territories.

Will it make any difference? The RushIsABand site has links to interviews where Rush management says that the band is aware of the petition and has looked at it when talking about set lists for past tours. So who knows, we may have a say. Come on guys! The Camera Eye!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Karaoke, Steven Tyler Style...

Who hasn’t had the urge to grab one of those PA phones at a grocery or hardware store and ask for a “price check on douchebags” or “paging Michael Hawk; that’s a page for Mike Hawk…” Ah the public ding-dong-ditch. A classic from adolescence. And yes, we mostly grow out of it.

But not Steven Tyler.

Clearly rehab is still a work in progress, as reports have Tyler serenading Home Depot shoppers in Rancho Mirage, California last weekend. According to TMZ, Tyler picked up a store microphone and belted out two of Aerosmith’s biggest hits – Dude (Looks Like A Lady) and I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing over the sound system. A source said, “Steven also swallowed a few mouthfuls of gas from a helium machine, for blowing up balloons, and kept singing in a high-pitched Bee Gees style. He was very relaxed though, and happily signed autographs for anyone who asked.”

Of course he was relaxed. Dude was like, a waste case…

Pollstar ran a story trying to confirm the incident and although it seems to be verified, they qualify it as up in the air.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Keith Richards Gives Up Booze - World Ends Tomorrow

Like Kirstie Alley giving up food, Pete Doperty giving up being a train wreck or the human race giving up breathing air, I never thought I would ever, ever report that Keith Richards has given up booze.

I mean, I thought the dude's blood had been replaced with booze at least three decades ago. But The Sun has reported that Keith Richards has stopped drinking and has apparently been off the alcohol for four months.

A source has told The Sun, “He has always quite enjoyed the fact that he seemed to be able to carry on drinking as much as he liked with no real negative impact on his health.”

According to the story, what prompted Keith to jump on the wagon was seeing bandmate Ronnie Wood getting into drinking very heavily recently. That, and Woodie dating children as a result...

“He has watched Ronnie fall well and truly off the wagon last year and he doesn’t like what he sees. Plus he has started to feel for the first time like it might do him some good to give up the booze for a while.”

Wow. Well, OK. Good on ya Keith! Good luck man.

Next stop: Celebrity Rehab - That would be killer TV...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Neil Young and Will Ferrell Bring Conan to A Musical End

Last Friday, as noted earlier, was Conan O'Brien's send off final episode in the wake of NBC being a bunch of total dumbshits. Neil Young did a moving rendition of Long May You Run, probably devoted as much to long-time Neil collaborator Larry Johnson who passed away suddenly.

Johnson was behind many of Neil's visual projects including the Rust Never Sleeps film, which is enough right there to make him a God in my eyes. More on Johnson here.

On a lighter side, Will Ferrell dressed up as Ronnie Van Zant led a cast of rockers including Billy Gibbons, Beck and Ben Harper through a rousing almost 10-minute Freebird to take the show out. If you were under a rock and missed both, you can find them here. Neil is at about 27 minutes and Will Ferrell is about 10 minutes from the end:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Peter Gabriel May Not Even Show Up to the R&R Hall of Fame

Well, this sucks balls. Peter Gabriel told Rolling Stone he has no intention of performing any songs with his former bandmates when Genesis is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Lame in March.

That's no shocker. But he also said he may not even show up. Now THAT would suck. Come on, Pete. You and the boys did some great things back in the 70s. Yeah you were kids, but you're getting a Goddam AWARD for it, so at least have the courtesy to show up for the speech and photo opp.

The short Rolling Stone article says:

In two months Genesis will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but fans hoping to see Peter Gabriel sing with his former band for the first time in nearly 30 years are probably in for a disappointment. “As far as I know, I’m definitely not going to sing,” Gabriel tells Rolling Stone. “I learned at our last reunion [in 1982] that you can’t just get up there. You have to rehearse.” Gabriel is actually not even positive he’ll be able to attend the March 15th induction ceremony in New York, since he’ll be in the midst of rehearsing for a European solo tour. “I’m trying to find a way to do it,” he says. “It’s not easy. If I can work it out, I’ll go.”

Five years ago Gabriel held a meeting with the classic Genesis lineup of Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett to discuss a possible staging of their 1974 prog-rock epic The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. “Initially I was open to it,” Gabriel says. “But then it seemed to be growing. I know what it’s like once you’re in it — these things tend to expand. I always describe it as going back to school, since this was a school group for me. It’s a fun place to visit and see your old friends, but its not a place you want to live.” Might he be open to a reunion show at some point in the future? “Phil has had trouble with his wrists and his back, so it’s pretty unlikely,” he says.

Neil Young Will Be Conan's Last Guest, NBC = Dumbshits

So for those who have not been paying attention, NBC are a bunch of dumb shits. First they give Jay Leno a show at 10 p.m. Leno's show sucked ass so they decide to move him back to his late night time slot of 11:30 p.m.

But instead of consulting Conan O'Brien, who currently HAS the 11:30 p.m. spot, they just announce that they are going to bump Conan to 12:30, and the guys after him (Jimmy Fallon and Carson Daly) to the absurd times of 1:30 and 2:30 a.m. I may not have these times exact but you get what is happening...

Well, Conan said to hell with that and refused to budge. I guess these guys have all signed CONTRACTS anyway, so NBC found itself in a real pickle. They either ditch Jay or Conan. They picked Conan.

So Conan is taking $45 million ($45 fucking million!) from NBC to go away as of Friday, and it came out today that Neil Young will be his final musical guest, which is the real point of this post. As for what is the right decision, I don't watch late night so I don't know/care. The few times I have seen Leno he seems OK but not that funny. Conan wrote for the Simpsons and is generally a little crazier so I like him better for those reasons. Whatever.

In the meantime, and this is classic, Conan can do whatever the hell he wants until Friday's last show and is pretty much doing so. Check this out:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Paul McCartney A Crooked Vulture?

In the holy shit department, here is an article verbatim from

Sir Paul McCartney was very nearly a member of Them Crooked Vultures.

The Beatles legend told The Daily Mail that it all came about when he went out for a meal with Dave Grohl after the Grammy Awards last year.

“Dave told me he was starting this band with Josh [Homme].

“I asked him who was playing bass and he rather sheepishly told me he’d approached John [Paul Jones].

“So you read it here first: Paul McCartney was nearly the bass player in Them Crooked Vultures.”

I am glad it's JPJ but shit, that would have been interesting!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Full Them Crooked Vultures Show on Web

For those of you who don't have the day off in The States (for Martin Luther King day) and want to blow an hour and a half "working," a friend sent me a link to a full, high-quality video of a recent Them Crooked Vultures gig from December 2009 in Cologne.

I can't embed it so you'll need to go to this link to see it. Enjoy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jimmy Fallon Does A MEAN Neil Young

I don't watch American Idol so I had to get the back story on this. Apparently, when auditioning in Atlanta, the Idol crew was graced with the 62-year-old General Larry Platt who did a rousing original song called Pants on the Ground. You can watch it below.

I guess it went immediately viral and there are scores of YouTube imitations up already. Jimmy Fallon took it one further and did the song as Neil Young on his show last night. It's a pretty amazing impression if you ask me. Anyway, enjoy:

General Larry Platt does "Pants on the Ground, an original composition:

Jimmy Fallon's version (as Neil Young):

And for reference:

Neil Peart Records Blistering Version of the Canadian Hockey Theme Song

Neil Peart put together an incredibly awesome drum-laden version of the Canadian Hockey Theme song, which debuted last night on TSN. This is akin to someone doing a blazing modern version of the Star Spangled Banner in the States. Explaining why this is important to Canadians, Peart told the Globe and Mail:

... "I tell Americans there is no analog for this song in the U.S. People hum it. They have it as a [cellphone] ring tone," ... "I gave a little speech in the studio before we started [recording] saying: 'Every mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, child, moose and beaver will see and hear this.' "I'll be very curious to know how Canadians respond to this." ... "The year before last, [TSN] first approached me about doing something and we'd just finished a Rush tour. ... This year was just perfect. I had time off and I was reinvigorated," he said. "I knew the [Hockey Theme] arranger because he was at the Buddy Rich tribute show. We needed a whole orchestra [17 musicians in all] but I knew people who could arrange that. It all came together." ... "We played the song a few hundred times. We filmed every step of the way as a documentary [for the Drum Channel website]. I'd go home and listen to it and we only had a minute for the song but I'd say: 'There's room for more drums in there.' I put everything I knew into that one minute," Peart said. "I start off with some Latin patterns I'd just been working on. There are three different rhythmic steps. There's a faster one at the start, then some slower rhythms, then the climax with the full Buddy Rich snare drum roll. As a band, we wanted to be true to the melody of the song. At the same time, I'm not going to play those parade drums." ... "I'm not co-ordinated; I say I'm dis-co-ordinated because I can get my four limbs to work independently," he said. "I was hopeless as a sports player as a kid. But drumming gave me the endurance so if I couldn't do things well I could at least do them for a long time [hence the cycling, swimming and cross-country skiing]." ...

The drum set used in this video will be donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the song will be available on iTunes January 19, according to a newsletter email I got this morning. Dig it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Rush Recordings May Take Untraditional Form

As noted on RushIsABand this afternoon, Neil Peart told the Canadian Press that the next set of Rush recordings may not take the form of a traditional album or CD release. Dig it:

"We feel very much liberated from the album format in a way right now, because in the three years since our last album (2007's 'Snakes & Arrows'), suddenly albums don't mean anything," Peart told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview from his home in California.

"We're thinking of writing and recording a few songs and maybe releasing them, and playing them live, and then going back and doing some more later. We just feel really free (in terms) of what we might do right now.

"Anything is possible in the nicest way and we like the fact of shaking it all up."

Peart says he's started writing new lyrics while bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson are preparing at their Toronto studio ("every time we start a new record, the technology is all different, and we've gotta learn it . . . again," he explains).

Asked if he would be willing to reveal details of any of the new songs, the personable Peart replied: "No, sir. (But) I like them."

But the 57-year-old says the band is aware that the record industry is in flux, and would rather adapt with the times than worry about the past.

"We're kind of taking this as a challenge to do something with, rather than to moan about," he explained.

"(It's) a healthier reaction than getting mad: 'Aww, things aren't how they used to be -- we wanted to make a 12-inch album with two sides!' Those things ARE hard to give up, and every time now we make a side one and side two mentally and build the dynamics ... so there is something lost.

"But, on the other hand, it's pointless to lament about it, and now we have the opportunity to take advantage of this amorphous situation going on in the music business right now." ...

This makes total sense to me. Once I was able to get my band's music up on iTunes, it dawned on me that I could record four songs at a shot and release little EPs as frequently as inspiration struck, and they'd be available worldwide (not that anyone would BUY them or anything). Very empowering! No need for a label when you have worldwide distribution at your fingertips, baby!

Anyway, this is not the first time the Rush guys talked about this idea so I'd be surprised if it didn't happen.

CD Review - Paul McCartney - Good Evening New York City

I can divide what any long-standing artist plays live into three categories:

1) The songs they feel that they HAVE to play. These are the hits that the majority of the audience wants to hear but that long-time fans are probably tired of.
2) Songs from the catalog. Not the hits but the stuff people have probably heard if they are fans.
3) Deep cuts – obscure songs or new songs that the majority of attendees have likely not heard.

Striking the proper balance between these three categories makes or breaks the concert. For example, the last time I saw The Who they had just put out a new album and they leaned so heavily on these category 3 songs in their set that they had no time for category 2 songs. This would have been great but I hated their new album and so had to suffer through those new songs live plus all the weathered warhorses like Behind Blue Eyes, Pinball Wizard and Baba O’Riley. What I missed was cat 2 stuff like Slip Kid, Relay, Bargain, I Don’t Even Know Myself – hell even Another Tricky Day would have been sweet.

On the other hand, Rush did a great job on the last tour. Doing seven songs from their brand new album (category 3), most of the cat 1 hits like Tom Sawyer, Limelight, Spirit of Radio, etc, and lots of category 2 gems like Natural Science and Force Ten, and even a handful of more category 3 rarities like Digital Man, Entre Nous (never played live prior to that tour) and Circumstances. Great balance, and reviews of the tour were positive overall.

Some bands who have been around forever unwisely do nothing but category 1 songs. That’s OK until you have seen them a few times and then it gets old fast. Come to think of it, The Who have fallen into that rut for me as well! Sucks ass because I love The Who!

One guy who could for sure fall into the category 1-only doldrums is Paul McCartney. I mean come on. The guy could do two hours of Beatles and Wings hits and be done with it. Look at his last few live albums. Stuff like Hey Jude, Yesterday, Live and Let Die and Band On The Run are on every single one of them. Do we need five identical live versions of Let It Be? No.

But McCartney is a smart cookie and knows how to vary it up with category 2 and 3 songs. Take his new CD, the double disc/DVD Good Evening New York City. Yes, he rehashed all those cat 1s again but digs way deep into 2: Drive My Car, Paperback Writer, Got to Get You Into My Life, Let Me Roll It, I’ve Got A Feeling. And I’d say there are many, many category 3 songs here. He does two excellent songs from the recent Fireman album (Sing the Changes and Highways). I’d venture to say that after hearing these two songs live, they stand up with the best of McCartney’s work. And boy, a few years ago I would not have bet that that was possible.

(Oh, and a shout out to Bob’s Bloggery, who reviewed this disc and is the reason I bought it. Thanks, Bob!)

Other newer gems are Calico Skies and Flaming Pie from Flaming Pie – again, I think that the live versions stand up really well with the rest of the repertoire. He also dusted off some great old nuggets – Mrs Vanderbilt (from Band on the Run – has he ever played that live?), Day Tripper, Helter Skelter, and I’m Down. A couple of other songs (Only Mama Knows and Here Today) are nice but don’t go over as well. I love Here Today because it’s an open letter to Lennon, but it just doesn’t have a great melody.

Now that he is unshackled from Heather Mills, he can dust off My Love again – a song I love despite its schmaltzy-ness. PS – next tour bring back Maybe I’m Amazed, Paul!

Anyway, the secret sauce to pulling all of this off is his latest band. These guys totally rock. Let’s start with the drummer, Abe Laboriel Jr. Huge black dude who beats the ever living shit out of the kit. No way could Paul do Helter Skelter with any of his previous drummers. He is a powerhouse and he drives the band big time. And he sings harmony to boot. Actually, everyone in his band sings, which comes in handy for stuff like Eleanor Rigby and Paperback Writer.

Guitarist Rusty Anderson and guitarist/bassist Brian Ray fill out the front line. Anderson has all the licks down but plays them with his own style and it’s very fresh. Ray is a smoking bass player and he not only has Macca’s parts down pat, he has the feel as well. So when Paul picks up the guitar or moves to piano, it’s Ray that holds down the bottom end.

Rounding out the five-piece is Paul “Wix” Wickens who has been with McCartney for more than 15 years and plays keyboards, harmonica, accordion etc. The jack of all trades that makes it possible to do stuff like A Day In The Life.

What? Oh yeah, Paul pays tribute to three members of the Beatles family who have departed – Linda with My Love, as noted. And he does A Day In The Life, which morphs into Give Peace A Chance. Very cool. That, along with Here Today is a very nice way to remember Lennon. For George, Paul does Something on the ukulele but then the whole band comes in just in time for the solo. Ray absolutely nails Paul’s bass part to a T here.

The other neat thing is that the show is in the new Citi Field, which was built next door to the recently demolished Shea Stadium. So on the DVD there is all sorts of banter about the Beatles’ 1965 gig at Shea. Paul keeps referring back to that gig and even notes that I’m Down was played there. In the DVD, the audio and video switches back and forth between the Beatles 1965 Shea performance of I’m Down and the 2009 Citi Field one. Kind of jarring at first but it’s kind of cool. That is the song where Lennon got so giddy that he played the keyboard solo with his elbow. Wickens does the same in tribute.

The DVD has the whole show – all 33 songs plus the between-song stage banter omitted from the CDs. I usually am not fond of McCartney’s live videos because they spend waaaay too much time on audience members singing along, to the point that I stopped buying them ages ago. But this one keeps it to a minimum.

And I guess I ought to end by saying that McCartney’s voice sounds truly excellent. A little rough on the high end but solid, which is how he was a couple of years ago when I saw him (with this very same band) in Portland. And once again I am blown away by how good he is on bass. It’s the old Hofner all night long and he knows how to work that thing. And piano as well. I can’t imagine Lady Madonna is very easy to pull off unless you got the chops.

McCartney fan? Get this damn CD. ‘Nuff said.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

DVD Review - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live

A Christmas gift I just cracked open this week was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live, a four DVD set that features numerous induction speeches, reunions, all-star jams and band performances over the 25 years of the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

The problem with this set is how it is positioned. According to Eric Clapton, hall co-founder Robbie Robertson cajoled Clapton into supporting the hall by saying "Magic happens here."

Well, maybe.

The magical moments touted in the promo for this set all revolve around the all-star jams that inevitably happen at the end of the evenings. "Where else can you see Mick Jagger jam with Bruce Springsteen, Bono and Paul McCartney?"

Well, nowhere else. But the problem is, those all-star jams are train wrecks, every time. They pick a three-chord song that everyone can hack along to. They have 25 guitar players onstage - all huge stars who could rip killer solos under different circumstances but here are all sloppy side-men at best.

A bunch of mega-stars cramped onto a small stage, with no one in charge and no one calling the shots. Of course the singers don't know the words to other stars' songs so you get Springsteen with that apey grin of his looking at Jagger like "Man isn't this awesome?! Hey what's the next line?" Paul Shaffer tries his damnedest to conduct this behemoth into something slightly organized.

Yeah it is awesome - for Bruce. But the rest of us, not so much. So don't buy this for the all-star jams 'cause it's a bunch of hype.

OK I got that off my chest. Now for the good stuff and there is a lot of it.

Predictably the good bits happen when things are a bit more organized. For example, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne with George Harrison's son rip out a fantastic version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps with Prince (yes, Prince) on lead guitar at the end. I posted that video a while ago here and it is truly, dare I say, magical.

Santana with guest Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac) is unreal. They do Black Magic Woman - a song I grew tired of about 20 years ago - but with Gregg Rolie back on vocals and keys, and Santana doing his usual job of leading his slaying band through a blistering arrangement. It's something I will watch again.

Eddie Vedder fronting the Doors is very cool, as is ZZ Top's set - yep, ZZ Top. In their own words "35 years, the same three guys playing the same three chords." But they are excellent and get two songs on the set where most bands just get one.

Springsteen's set with the E Street Band is high energy and is probably a real treat for Bruce fans, as it's when the group got back together with Bruce after a very long hiatus. Robbie Robertson playing The Weight with Rick Danko and Garth Hudson (and guest Eric Clapton) is nice, but it would have been better had Levon Helm shown up.

An excellent-sounding Crosby, Stills and Nash are joined by Tom Petty, who does a fantastic Neil Young impression on guitar for For What It's Worth. AC/DC deliver a nice Highway to Hell, and Metallica destroys the place with Master of Puppets, complete with two bass players onstage - Robert Trujillo and the man he replaced, Jason Newsted.

Good as they are, the Metallica bit underscores another issue I have with these shows. They are not in a concert hall. They take place in what looks like a banquet hall. The whole floor is loaded with round dinner tables with tuxedo'd industry luminaries and Yoko Ono seated, and anyone else who ponied up $15,000 a head or whatever.

That is a rough crowd to play for. Only a few performers are able to get everyone out of their seats -- a feat in and of itself became some of the attendees look old enough to require help to stand upright from a seated position. I wonder if that is why REM's Peter Buck literally throws his amp offstage at the end of Man On The Moon - a weird moment and not magical at all.

There are a lot of cool behind the scenes bonus clips like John Fogerty walking Springsteen and Robertson through old CCR songs he hadn't played in years. Cool footage of Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart talking to Paul Kantner, Jack Cassidy and Jorma Kaukonen before the Jefferson Airplane takes the stage. To say Kaukonen looks nervous is a vast understatement! Someone get him a bag.

The bonus footage also includes many complete induction speeches such as Pete Townsend lobbing insult after insult as he inducts the Stones. Or Paul McCartney inducting John Lennon, looking very out of place as he takes credit for everything from the Beatle haircut to introducing John to Yoko. But I watched all the bonus footage too, because I love shit like this.

One last gripe -- no matter how good Springsteen is, he is the Phil Collins of the R&R Hall of Fame. Meaning, he is ubiquitous and jams with - oh, everybody. Let's vary it up a bit, huh?

So in sum -- I will watch about half of these performances again and the other half I will skip. If you can get this set at a discount, it's worth it for the handful of great moments. But don't buy the hype - it ALL ain't magical.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Book Review - Paul McCartney A Life - By Peter Ames Carlin

I got the book Paul McCartney – A Life, by Peter Ames Carlin for Christmas and just finished it last night. It’s a comprehensive book that looks at McCartney’s entire life and career up to present day. Carlin interviewed scores of people – old bandmates, employees, friends etc. The only people not interviewed are members of McCartney’s family, or any of the former Beatles/their families. Maybe he tried and they said no.

But what he got let him put together what reads like a facts-based account of McCartney’s career. He looks at all the angles – was McCartney an obsessed workaholic who disregarded the input of all but his closest collaborators (Lennon and Linda McCartney)? Or was he an insecure worry-wart, eager to ‘set the record straight’ by rewriting history of his contributions to The Beatles and the songs credited to “Lennon/McCartney?” Or was he a savant following his muse to greater and greater heights (but in the shadow of Lennon), anyone with an opinion be damned?

The cool thing about Carlin’s book is that unlike most writers, he does not take sides. This is not a “Paul is an insecure dick” book, nor is it a glowing re-writing of history putting forth that Paul for the most part drove The Beatles and Lennon was along for the ride. Most books take one of those two angles. Rather, Carlin lays out the facts and lets the reader decide.

Where did I land? Well, I have always seen McCartney as unnecessarily insecure. There is no reason why he needs to trumpet what he did in The Beatles. His vast catalog of amazing songs speaks for itself. Latter 70s Wings material and a few glowing spots in his solo career back up the notion that he is a master of the melody, an amazing songwriter who didn’t need anyone else to help him.

Of course he was rudderless in the early 70s. Unlike Lennon and especially Harrison, McCartney didn’t have a backlog of songs to draw from. Also he was the odd man out, shut out creatively and business-wise by his three best friends who at the moment despised him. It’s amazing the dude landed on his feet at all.

The book portrays Linda McCartney as the savior who helped him get on his feet when he was down and out. Carlin again reports the facts, that Linda was not a good musician (by her own account even), but that her presence in McCartney’s creative life helped drive him to the great success of Wings and his other endeavors. The fact that she could be a bit overbearing was offset by the fact that anyone not overbearing was pretty much ignored by McCartney!

Having read way too much about the Beatles already, I knew a lot of the subject matter. But there was a lot that was new to me as well. For example, the turmoil of the songwriting sessions for the Anthology series, where the three surviving Beatles were all concerned they would not be fairly represented in the mix of the new song Free As A Bird. And how they had a three hour ‘airing out’ session in Harrison’s back yard and seemed to come back happier and got back to work.

I appreciated the themes that Carlin kept coming back to, that 1) events in Paul’s childhood affected how he behaved through the rest of his life, and 2) because he was mega-successful from a very early age, McCartney has a very distorted sense of how things are supposed to be, and this frequently clouds his judgement across the board.

Another recurring theme in the book is all of the ‘what if’s’ and close calls regarding Beatle reunions. I didn’t know that Lennon and McCartney hung out several times in the 70s and even jammed in a studio one time, with McCartney on drums. I found the bootleg of that session and it’s interesting to say the least but not very magical. They are all pretty wasted and it’s during Lennon’s “Lost Weekend.” But damn, it's interesting!

There were even a few times in the 70s when three of the four Beatles played together and just for purely logistical reasons the fourth wasn’t there (not because he wasn’t invited or because there was bad blood). The recounting of these events in the book makes me believe that the Beatles absolutely would have reunited at some point if Lennon had not been killed in 1980, if even for a one-off.

Anyway, for the most part McCartney comes across as a positive if slightly bemused artist (in the purest sense of the word) who struggles with various insecurities and the inability to identify a really good idea from a really bad idea.

It’s a fascinating read and even if you think you know all there is to know about the Beatles or McCartney I promise you will learn something from this book. And Carlin does it in 340 pages, which is a feat in and of itself. There is a LOT to cover in those pages and he does a great job not glossing over anything but not hammering the reader to death with details. And to back up his facts, there is a much appreciated appendix that outlines where he got all of his quotes and info. Very nice.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

T.U.B.E. Bootleg Site Moves Again

I know that a fair amount of my visitors use this blog as a portal to the T.U.B.E. Bootleg site, starting after I posted the new link after it was shut down last time. Well it happened again, and here is the new link.

By the way, I got the new link from the T.U.B.E. Facebook page, so if you need another way to track the site's excellent continuing bootleg collection, become friends with that page.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Concert Review - Rain

I took my boys (age 10 and 12) to see Rain, the longest-standing Beatles tribute band. I had no expectations, really. I bought the tickets for Christmas and the date just crept up, and all of a sudden showtime was here.

We arrived at the Keller in downtown Portland and took our seats. They piped 50s rock and roll over the speakers and ran Beatles trivia on video screens on both sides of the stage to pass the time. Then it was time to rock.

The motif for Rain is a little weird. They are a Beatles tribute band but they also have recreated filmed and audio moments from Beatles history to use as supporting media in the show. So when you hear Paul McCartney talk about writing songs with Lennon (it’s a clip from Anthology I think), it’s not Paul talking – it’s the guy who plays him. Same for the video clips, which is even weirder because up close, these guys don’t look a lot like the Beatles and it kind of messed it up for me. So, I stopped watching the screens and just watched the stage.

But that is where the magic happened. First of all, this was a live performance with nothing pre-recorded. There were four Beatles guys and one keyboard player – Mark Lewis, the guy who put the band together in the 1970s. Lewis played Billy Preston’s part in Get Back, for example. But he also did a lot of the string and orchestra parts in the band’s 1967 material and they had him onstage off to the side in the back so you could see what he was contributing.

Anyway, these guys were tight. Let’s set aside any resemblance to the actual Beatles for a second. The four musicians were top notch. The McCartney guy, Joey Curatolo, played lefty bass and had the McCartney bass lines down pat. The guitarists had Vox amps, with primarily Gretch, Rickenbacker, Gibson and Fender guitars and therefore sick tone. The Harrison guy had some synth patch hookup and for example played one of the string quartet parts to Eleanor Rigby on his guitar (and it sounded like a cello) – very cool to watch. The drummer was great too.

Rain has spent a good amount of time getting the parts right, musically. It was a mostly note-for-note rendition of the Beatles’ cannon. These guys are obviously fans first, kick ass musicians second. Not only did they get the parts right, they got the sounds right, as well as the spirit and energy.

The show went chronologically and Rain recreated the Ed Sullivan and Shea Stadium performances pretty religiously. To do a set/costume change, they closed the curtain and ran video of what was going on in the 60s during the time period. The audience spanned three generations – maybe four. Lots of older guys making peace signs with both hands on upstretched arms – they were THERE man (very cool to see). And of course kids and their dads like me.

Now here is the other thing – from where I was sitting, they looked a LOT like the Beatles. During the early material, it was a bit of a stretch. But as soon as they put on the Sgt Pepper costumes and added some longer hair and moustaches, they looked just like the Fab Four and it was a little eerie. Because they sounded just like them too. Great vocal impressions and like I said, they played great and had all the moves down.

Once they got to the White Album period, I had fallen hook line and sinker and it was actually fairly emotional. I could get a feel for what it might have been like to see these guys live. I also liked the later period of the show because they were not trying to recreate actual Beatles performances or films, but were playing Beatles tunes that the actual band had never played live.

For example, they put stools across the front of the stage and did a little acoustic set that included Blackbird and Norwegian Wood. I thought to myself, “Yeah! If The Beatles had gotten together and played any live shows after 1970, they for sure would have done an acoustic set.” They started While My Guitar Gently Weeps acoustically like the Anthology/Love version but then morphed into the full electric version complete with note-perfect Clapton guitar solo.

One other thing. The lefty bass player sat down for the acoustic set and they handed him an acoustic guitar, which he played right handed. I have never seen anyone play both right and left hand instruments at all, much less well. Blew my mind. Also, when the Lennon guy came out with the Let It Be outfit on, complete with chewing gum in his mouth, I kind of freaked out. The fact that they busted out Imagine and Give Peace A Chance was a nice bonus to the Beatles music and of course was rather emotional.

Other big highlights for me were the latter era stuff like A Day in the Life, I Am the Walrus, The End, Come Together, Gently Weeps, and Revolution. They nailed the three part harmonies of earlier stuff like This Boy and Eleanor Rigby.

The whole show drove a few obvious points home – namely that the Beatles had SO many classic timeless tunes, and that this was a total supergroup, with every band member being a big time star and contributor. They really created the mold that has been often imitated, never duplicated.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Stan Rogers' Kick-Ass Maritime Tunage

A buddy sent me this video and I have no idea if it was a joke or not - he usually sends incredibly NSFW stuff, but he is also way into sailing so I figure this is a serious email.

Anyway, why have I never heard of this guy? Sounds like he's a very influential Canadian folk singer with about nine albums to his name and a fairly successful career leading up to a very untimely death in 1983.

Well, he at least had a lock on the Canadian maritime folk song market, which has GOT to be huge, right? Reminds me a bit of the Knights of the Round Table song in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

But note the mostly empty booze bottle on the table and you get even more insight into what makes these guys tick.

Whether this is your cup of meat or not, you gotta admit they are pretty damn into it. Enjoy:

Soundgarden to Reunite in 2010

In what many music fans will see as the first gift of the New Year, it looks like Soundgarden is going to reunite. Chris Cornell put forth on his Twitter feed: "The 12 year break is over & school is back in session. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!" has the same message so it looks legit.

This is great. I never got to see Soundgarden back in the day, but I rank Superunknown as one of a handful of my 'desert island albums,' where every track is excellent, the overall vibe is top-notch and I can listen to the CD over and over again without getting tired of it.

Of course they have loads of other great stuff too but that massive album and the Temple of the Dog CD (not Soundgarden but close enough for me) are the ones I go back to.

Anyway, if this is legit and they do some local shows, I am all over it, rover!

Happy New Year, everyone.