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 HopingFoundation.org 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:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Photos From Rush Concert - 8-7-2010

I promised a few photos from the Rush show:

Make sure to check out my full review of the show with almost 30 mins of (low-res) video.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Concert Review - Rush

Caught Rush last night on the 15th show of the North American Time Machine tour. WARNING -- loads of spoilers ahead so if you're going to see this tour and want surprises, stop reading now and for sure as shit don't watch the videos!

So the premise of this tour is that the band is tapping various eras in its history. I guess they have done that in past tours, especially the R30 tour.

But the big feature this time is the debut of two brand new tunes that are not on any released album yet, although you can buy them as a single on iTunes, and for the first time ever a beginning to end performance of the 1981 Moving Pictures album.

That means Camera Eye people - that means Camera Eye.

The set list is at the tail end of this review, but I have to say the show started out slowly for me. My buddies and I agreed that part of it was due to a 7:30 start time, which meant it was still light out. Things got more exciting when the band was able to unleash its killer light show, which was indeed incredible. The light rig was like some robotic animal and I am not sure I have seen such vibrant colors coming from concert lights before. Unreal visuals.

Oh and the stage looked like a time machine, but one built in the 50s - glowing transistors, huge vacuum tube screens, etc. Like Back to the Future but with low-fi old school technology. A creaky odometer-esque on-screen visual would slowly roll to the year the song they were about to play was released, etc. Pretty neat theme.

The show started with a hilarious video. These guys on every tour take the piss out of themselves more and more. Back 20 years ago it was funny to have little animations of each of them on the screen in the back. Now they are flipping actors in costume. Suffice it to say Alex Lifeson is in a fat suit that makes him look about 350 pounds, and even Neil makes a cameo.

This old school time machine keeps showing up in the videos and of course there is a big red button you are not supposed to push but it keeps getting hit, and when time lurches back and forth, the band on the screen goes from 1975-era Rush (actors, not the real guys), to babies with guitars and drumsticks, to the year 2112 when the band is playing gray haired in wizard outfits. The best one is where they all switch instruments, which you can see in one of my videos below in the solo section of Tom Sawyer. I have never seen Neil be this funny, but here he is, pretending to be ripping Alex's solo in Tom Sawyer...

So, the MUSIC.

Like I said, it started a little sleepy. First four songs -- Spirit of Radio, Time Stand Still, Presto, Stick It Out. On paper that may sound OK, but look at the first five songs of the Snakes and Arrows tour: Limelight, Digital Man (with massive jam at the end), Entre Nous, Mission, Freewill. That really got the blood pumping. Last night, not so much. In fact we were a little underwhelmed until the very end of that first set - once they hit Freewill, we were sold hook line and sinker and it kept getting better from there.

The two new songs are excellent. Well, B2BU is OK - that was another one of those sleeper first set tunes, although it is a really pummeling song. But Caravan has to be one of the best Rush tunes in 10 to 15 years. The center section is very Freewill, meaning it's an insane jam that will make you slap your face and say SHIT when it's over.

Like I said, the end of set one was stellar. Freewill was face smacking as mentioned, Marathon is one of my favorite 80s Rush tunes and they rocked the shit out of it, and the version of Subdivisions that closed the set made me wonder out loud if that is my favorite Rush song. Probably not, but top 5 for sure.

Then the real meat was served - Moving Pictures. Yeah, the first four songs on that album already get played a lot. But it was cool to hear them in ORDER! And then...The Camera Eye.

I have been waiting 25 years to see Rush play that song and they still over delivered. I was so glad to have shot rough video of the end of that song because watching the solo on my computer today, it was indeed as mind blowing on 2nd and 3rd listen as it was when it was happening. The crowd went ape shit, too.

Witch Hunt and Vital Signs were also epic. It was over way too fast but there was more to go. How do you follow Moving Pictures? With the brand new Caravan, which like I said is a fucking excellent Rush song. It took me quite a few listens to really get it but isn't the best Rush that way?

Next up was Neil's solo, which I captured on video (see below). Loved it - he gets better and better every tour. Then some familiar tunes - Closer to the Heart, back from a long hiatus, and the obligatory Overture/Temples from 2112 - always great but could be given a break. Show closed with Far Cry from Snakes and Arrows, which is another truly excellent new Rush effort.

Encore was La Villa and Working Man and I gotta say, watching Lifeson rip the solos in those two songs made my fingers cramp up. No idea how he pulls this shit off.

But hey, don't take my word for it. I was shocked to find that I had video of almost 30 minutes of the show. I will post some photos tomorrow. Enjoy, and for God's sake go see this tour if you can.

Set List:

Video Intro (The Real History of Rush Part 1)
The Spirit of Radio
Time Stand Still
Stick It Out
Workin' Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone!

Video Intro (The Real History of Rush Part 2)
Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
The Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Drum Solo
Closer to the Heart (with new 12-string acoustic intro)
2112 (Overture/Temples of Syrinx)
Far Cry

La Villa Strangiato (with polka intro)
Working Man (reggae intro)
Video Outro (I Still Love You Man)
Closer To The Heart Polka Exit Music

UPDATE: Posted a handful of photos on 7/11. Check 'em out!

Montage of Songs from the Show:

Neil Peart Drum Solo:

Moving Pictures:

Just found this excellent hi-def close up video of the intro "History of Rush" video and Spirit of Radio. Dang, which I'd had these seats!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

KISS Goes Reggae - Hilarious!

OK this needs no back story except God bless video editing software. Have a chuckle this morning:

Friday, August 06, 2010

Countdown to RUSH!

24 hours and I will be almost to the venue. Sweet! I of course peeked at the set list - very different. But they could play I Think I'm Going Bald five times and I'd be happy to just hear Moving Pictures all the way through, which is the highlight of this tour aside from some brand new unreleased stuff. For sure I will post a review. While I get geeked up, feast your eyes on this!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ain't In It For My Health - A Documentary on The Band's Levon Helm

The recent excellent and popular rock documentaries The Story of Anvil, Iron Maiden Flight 666 and Rush Beyond the Lighted Stage all whetted my appetite for, well, MORE rock documentaries, dammit! I love behind the scenes access to bands who over the course of their careers have not granted much access - Rush is a great example.

So I was highly stoked to stumble across some PR for filmmaker Jacob Hatley's upcoming documentary on Levon Helm, cantankerous 70-year old drummer from The Band. Old Levon was the one guy in The Band who was from America (the rest were Canadian) and was from the deep south to boot. His autobiography This Wheel's On Fire is a fantastic read if you dig The Band. But it also tears the cover off of any image of that group as a bunch of pals.

The Band basically toured in relative obscurity for years in the 50s and 60s and of course broke through as Dylan's backing band and then on their own. The core lineup splintered with the 1976 concert/film The Last Waltz, which Levon hated. He saw it as a ploy between Band songwriter Robbie Robertson and Martin Scorsese to sell out to Hollywood.

In the interviews below, Hatley even tells a story of how Levon rejected a lifetime achievement award because of his 'demons from the past,' which I read as "I am not going to Hollywood to pick up some Goddamn bullshit award that has anything to do with Robertson." Despite the fact he still plays Robertson's songs every gig, but ahem...

Anyway, the movie is called Ain't In It for My Health, and it was screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. The movie's Web site is at Ain't in It for My Health.

Hatley spent three years off and on living with Helm, shooting pretty much anything he wanted, editing along the way. The interviews below are from Levon's Web site. They are revealing regarding Levon and the film, but also give some great advice on filmmaking (mostly in the second part).

I have no idea when the rest of the world gets to see this film, but I can't wait.