Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Why Peter Gabriel Should Be Recognized by the Rock Hall of Fame

Just saw the news that KISS, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, Hall and Oats and Cat Stevens have all made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2014. That means Deep Purple and Yes did not.

Looking at the list of inductees, I was most intrigued by Peter Gabriel, because I have lately been getting back into him big time (no pun intended).

Been particularly digging the Live in Athens 1987 double live CD, which was pulled from the So tour. I saw him on this tour in the Bay Area in the mid-80s and it’s still one of the best concerts I have ever been to.

Also been doing a fair amount of writing and recording, finally getting into MIDI (welcome to 1985, Isorski), and Gabriel is really one of the first pioneers of the technology. That, and sampling.

For proof, check out this highly cool video about the making of his fourth album, Security.

Gabriel was really on the cutting edge of using samples, writing songs based around sequenced drum patterns, and also bringing world music into the world of rock. That plus his humanitarian effort outside of music. The more I think about it he’s like a prog rock, modern day George Harrison!

Anyway, glad he’s being recognized as a solo artist (he’s already in the Hall as part of Genesis). Hopefully he’ll make it to the ceremony this time!

UPDATE - Rolling Stone posted a Q&A with Gabriel, as follows:

Peter Gabriel was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010, but the ceremony fell during the middle of his tour rehearsals with a large orchestra in England and he didn't have time to take a trip across the Atlantic. "There was no indication at the time I'd have a second opportunity," he says. "I'm very grateful to have gotten in again. It's a huge honor since it's for your whole body of work and not just a specific project."

Gabriel chatted with Rolling Stone in the lobby of a New York hotel not long after he learned he was being inducted as a solo artist.

Congratulations on the big news.

Thanks. It's a fantastic acknowledgment from your peers and people who work in music.

You're going to go this time, right?

Yeah, I will definitely go. The last time I got in, it was like two days before my tour started. I would have otherwise gone. I just thought, "I can't go. We've given ourselves very little rehearsal time." But it was a great honor. . . Unfortunately, my bass player, Tony Levin, is committed to a prog-rock cruise the week of the event. I have to see if I can do something about that. We want to steal him for a night. The idea is that people have to play, right?

They generally do, but not always. Genesis didn't play.

Oh. I didn't know not performing was even an option. (laughs) Generally, you can either fret about playing and worry about it all night, or you can sit back and have a glass of wine and enjoy the evening. I have to think about that, but this is just great news. . . I'll probably play, though if I do "In Your Eyes," it'll take 10 minutes and that might be all the time I have.

Nirvana are getting in, too. I've seen photos of you and Kurt Cobain talking backstage at the MTV Video Music Awards.

We did talk. I expected to be dismissed as part of the old generation, but he wasn't like that at all. I didn't have long with him, but he definitely changed things, particularly in America. And it had a different sort of quality than what the Sex Pistols in the UK did. I thought that was more contrived in some ways. I was more into the Clash because despite presentation of what Johnny Rotten was doing, there was nothing new to me about the music. But with Nirvana, some of it, just in their choice of chords, there were some musical differences.

With Kiss, they were first putting on their makeup and costumes right as you were putting on a costume- and makeup-heavy show with Genesis.

[Casablanca Records founder] Neil Bogart [who signed Kiss] said that I was quoted as an example of why they should wear makeup. I don't know if that's true or not, but they did create cartoon-like figures. I saw it was very well-executed pop music. I know it was heavy-looking at the time, but I think it was smart.

There tends to be a huge jam at the end of the night between all the inductees. It's hard to imagine you playing a part in that.

I'm not a great jammer. I'm not a great musicians in terms of a player. I think of myself as a writer.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dave Grohl Produces New Ghost EP - Streaming Now

Dave Grohl has produced an EP of four cover songs for Swedish "death Satan metal band" Ghost B.C., available for live streaming now.

I use the quotation marks because Ghost has not sounded like death metal, well, ever. But due to the band's devilish lyrics and KISS-like mysterious image on Devil's Advocate steroids, the band has been lumped in with other truly awful screamo bands.

But these guys have always been more Blue Oyster Cult than Graf Orlock.

Great melodies, strong musical chops, surprising arrangements, and yeah, tongue in cheek Sabbath-esque image. In an interiew it was mentioned "It's sort of like Eddie for Iron Maiden, except we have our Eddie singing." Yep, these guys put the FUN in Funeral.

While I would have a Ghost novice start with the band's first album, and then go to the second, this EP is a nice addition to the discography, and the association with Grohl will no doubt draw some attention to the group, which they need to go more mainstream.

But really, how mainstream can you go when your catchiest song's chorus is "This chapel of ritual smells of dead human sacrifices from the altar bed."

The EP, which also adds a fifth song Secular Haze (live), will be out next week.

Stream it here:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2014 Hall of Fame Nominees - KISS, Yes, Nirvana, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel

Just saw the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees and it's a doozy of a list: Nirvana, Kiss, the Replacements, Hall and Oates, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, LL Cool J, N.W.A., Link Wray, the Meters, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Yes and the Zombies.

Yeah I know, there are plenty of acts listed that are arguably not 'rock and roll' but I set that all aside when I attended the induction ceremony for Rush (and others) this year and it was a blast. If even a few of those 'more rock than not' acts get in, it will be a hell of a show.

My faves:

Yes: - I have been down on Yes, pretty much done with them, the last few years as a live act. But if they were to really induct Yes and include most if not all of the 19 or 20 players in that band over the 40 years of its existence, it would be a hell of a thing. And this is just the kind of event that forces reunions that ought to happen - i.e. Jon Anderson rejoining the band. I might have to travel to the event again this year if Yes gets in. They deserve inclusion, no doubt. Highly influential band, lots of success in the 70s and again in the 80s but re-born. No question.

Kiss: Kiss needs to retire. I am done with these guys, Paul Stanley's voice is gone and they are just too old to pull it off. The magic of the reunion, seeing all four original guys together, has long worn off. An induction to the hall might force the original four back together one last time. If not, it would be a shame.

But at the same time, how does KISS perform at an awards show? Watching Rush sit in their seats for five hours, then get up and rock, was one thing. How do you get the makeup on? How do they set up a KISS stage? Would be interesting. And they'd have to play. You can't be KISS and not play if you get in. So, interesting to be sure. Do they deserve to get in? Hell yes. Sure they suck but they have influenced too many bands that don't, and they have sold more records than anyone but the Stones and Beatles, so enough already. They get in.

Peter Gabriel: Oh hell yeah. He'd be great. Witty speech, dry humor and then he'd rock the shit out of everyone. Shock the Monkey and Sledgehammer. That's my prediction. Maybe he doesn't get in this time, but he will eventually if not for the music then for his humanitarian work, which I think plays well with the judges.

Deep Purple: Should have been in last year. Would be interesting to see if they'd get Richie Blackmore off the bench but I doubt it. He's too busy playing lute at the Renaissance Fair. Totally deserve to be in.

Lots of great other artists. Paul Butterfield, Hall and Oats, Linda Ronstadt, the Meters, Cat Stevens. Any of them would be cool.

Oh shit and Nirvana! I almost forgot. I'd be shocked if they did not make it in their first year. Would be great to see what musicians they would put together to do Nirvana songs with Grohl and Co.

Yeah this is a pretty good year for the Hall. Better start saving my frequent flyer miles.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Black Sabbath Albums from Worst to Best - from Stereogum

A good friend of mine from work (the same guy who turned me onto Ghost), penned an insanely comprehensive overview of the history and significance of Black Sabbath, complete with an album-by-album analysis from worst to best.

I don't agree with all of his ordering choices - I think the new album, called '13,' is much better than where he ranks it - but I think in general he is right on.

Until I can get off my ass and review the new album myself, enjoy these literal weeks of work he put into it here: Black Sabbath Albums From Worst To Best.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rush Hall of Fame Induction Runs on HBO

HBO ran the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2013 induction program over the weekend but cut the intro where the Rush fans went apeshit during Jann Wenner's intro speech. But HBO did post it online. I was proud to be one of the hundreds of screaming voices. Check it out!

And here are some other 'official' HBO vids from the night:

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Album and Concert Review - Ghost - Infestissumam

I have a theory that producers Rick Rubin and Nick Raskulinecz had a gentleman’s bet to see who could out-Sabbath the other on their latest projects. Rubin worked with the actual Black Sabbath on the band’s upcoming album ’13,’ while Raskulinecz was behind the desk for Swedish devil band Ghost B.C.’s latest, Infestissumam, released last month.

We won’t know until June when the Sabbath album comes out but good odds would go to Ghost, who out-Sabbathed Sabbath on its debut, Opus Eponymous.

Ghost is a real enigma. Their image is full on Satan: The band plays in black masks and robes, so you don’t know who they are, and the singer, Papa Emeritus, is in full papal gear including pointy hat and vestments, but with an angry skull mask obscuring his face. Both of their albums feature for example what sound like Gregorian chants but of course are topically a bit different.

I would have passed over this in two seconds if the music wasn’t so damn good. The Opus album is insane – there is not a bad track on it. Very melodic and far more Blue Oyster Cult than Disfigured Prostitute (yes that is a real band). The songs are total earworms. Great arrangements, layered vocal harmonies, even the odd synth part for dressing.

Yes, Ghost is the Schoolhouse Rock of Satanic music. Instead of singing about conjunction junction, you walk around singing “come together, together as one, come together, for Lucifer’s son.” Brilliant strategy if these guys are serious, Spinal Tap funny if they are not. Either way, they win.

So the new album, Infestissumam. It’s not as strong as Opus. If there were three tunes chopped out of it, it would stand side by side. But as it is, there are some songs that are shockingly too sing-songy and catchy and they just don’t work.

However, the songs that DO work are incredible. Secular Haze, Year Zero, and Monstrance Clock stand out, as does the pretty classic take on the ABBA song I'm a Marionette. The song Jigolo Har Megiddo sounds like it came right off of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

Covering ABBA makes me think these guys are just riding this devil thing for a laugh (the Swedish bands have to stick together, right?), as does the impression that Monstrance Clock is probably a play on “Monsterous Cock.” I can see that as something someone said on the tour bus and was immediately turned into a song. It is about the conception of the devil’s son after all. I read an interview where one of the 'nameless ghouls' in the band (that is what they call themselves) said it's a little bit like Iron Maiden, except that in Ghost, Eddie (Maiden's zombie mascot) sings all the songs. Could not have said it better myself.

The other thing I find interesting is that the singer, Papa Emeritus, is now called Papa Emeritus II. Not sure if he died between albums and was replaced by a new guy. It was also funny that I got an email from Ghost last year asking me to vote for Papa when the Vatican was electing the new Pope. I did. Not sure it did any good…

So the album is good – some strong stuff. A few days after it came out, I saw the band live in Portland (last week). This was my third time seeing them. Last time, my buddy Dave and I drove three hours to Seattle to watch them play for 30 minutes, and then we drove back home. That is how much I like this band.

With the new album they are able to play a nice, 70 minute set that is chock full of great songs and theater. The best five or six new songs blend perfectly with the bulk of Opus, still in the set list.

I didn’t know the new album very well when I saw them but it didn’t matter. I immediately liked the songs they chose to play live.

There were rumors that the band took a massive advance when they signed to their label and there were a lot of concerns the music would suffer as the record label became increasingly eager to make its money back. But I hope Ghost is in it for the long game.

They are building a following by touring over and over, and a little bit like KISS, the mystique doesn’t hurt. My wife’s cousin and her husband, who do NOT generally go for this kind of music, proactively went to the show in Seattle the day after my Portland show. They were impressed. And if a mellow Dead Head can be impressed by Ghost, anyone can!

Below are a few photos from the Portland gig, plus a video for Secular Haze. Again, the fact that the video has Ghost on what looks like an Ed Sullivan-era sound stage cracks me up. Enjoy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Paul Stanley Stage Banter - 45 Minutes of Hilarity

I don't know if this is so funny because it's his isolated vocal track, which means in some cases it sounds like he's yelling in his bathroom, or because when presented as a 45 minute string, the absurdity is considerably augmented.

The write-up from KISS Asylum where I sourced this is equally funny because it does a quick snap judgement psychosis analysis on Mr. Stanley based on the various recurring themes in his stage banter. Either way you slice it, it's classic - enjoy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Musings from the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony

The 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show was for the most part a five hour thrill ride with a really boring middle segment. Of course the whole reason I was there was for Rush but there was a lot of talent in the theater and overall (except for that middle piece) it was a well-paced, well-produced night.

Rush fans were by far the most prevalent in the audience. There were acres of Rush shirts and, shall we say, lots of energy.

Take for example the first ten minutes of the show. Rolling Stone founder and target for the ire of many a Rush fan Jann Wenner strolled out to give a fairly canned intro/welcome speech. He was booed by the audience. It will be interesting to see if they fix that in the HBO broadcast next month. What they won’t be able to fix is how absolutely BATSHIT the audience went when Wenner read down the names of the inductees and got to Rush.

It was absolutely deafening. The entire house rose to its feet and screamed for at least two or three minutes while Wenner stood there, amazed. I don’t know that the Hall has seen anything quite like it, to be honest. I do think he got the message.

I turned to the guy next to me, who was crying by the way, and said “well, that sure felt good.” And it did. Lots of pent up frustration – maybe in some cases a lifetime – was released in that moment. It was group therapy.

Then the show got underway. Randy Newman kicked it off with a fun version of I Love LA, with guests Tom Petty, John Fogerty and Jackson Browne on guitar. They each took a verse. Don Henley inducted him, and once I realized that Paul Shaeffer’s band included Waddy Watchel, Jim Keltner and Tom Scott, I realized that the SoCal music scene from the 70s was well-represented.

The next few inductees were either not performers, or not alive. Producer Lou Adler was inducted by a very funny Cheech and Chong, and was then serenaded by Carole King, who he had produced. The late Donna Summer and Albert King were inducted and then followed up with some fine live music too.

For King, blues guitarist Guy Clarke Jr. and John Mayer ripped some spot-on electric blues numbers. For Summer, a killer Jennifer Hudson seriously shredded some of Summer’s biggest hits. I never would have paid to go see Hudson but I am glad I saw her sing, because she is talented.

Then things got a little wonky. Oprah Winfrey showed up to everyone’s utter shock to induct Quincy Jones, who gave the longest piss break worthy speech ever. I got back and still had to wait ten minutes for him to wrap it up. I mean, yes, the man has had a six or seven decade career and ought to be inducted for his work with Michael Jackson alone, but MAN was he long-winded.

Next it was time for Public Enemy. Whew, where do I start? Spike Lee started the speech and then oddly handed it over to Harry Belafonte who quietly rambled about things. What? I dunno I was Tweeting.

Public Enemy gets up and Flava Flav (dude who wears the giant clock around his neck) talks and talks and rambles and talks some more and at some point you realize this guy has a screw loose and then you wonder if he is just kidding? By the end the crowd was loudly encouraging him to WRAP IT UP.

He basically filibustered the ceremony.

Chuck D’s speech was respectful. He made a comment about people who say rap does not belong in a rock hall of fame and rightly pointed out that it all came from the same place, which was blues. Given Flava’s train wreck it was ironic that Chuck D’s speech was really the one that unified all the performers in the house, who he name-checked, including Rush. I got the sense there was a mutual respect there.

Public Enemy performed and it was fine. I mean I don’t know them so it was nice to see but I didn’t care that much. They did do a really cool thing which was to use records from the other inductees in one of their jams. Scratching the Tom Sawyer intro and also the same with an Albert King lick.

Now we are about four hours into it but we all know it’s about to get good. Heart is up. Chris Cornell inducts them with a very respectful and funny speech. It’s perfect. Ann and Nancy Wilson’s speeches seem a little canned but are fine. Original guitarist Roger Fisher slightly asses out in his speech because he basically knows he fucked up big time to get kicked out of that band. He tries to show love to the band but he calls them ‘these people.’

Things seem to be running long so they cut the mic before the rest of the original guys can speak and then it’s live Heart.

I have never seen Heart live. They open with Nancy Wilson on acoustic for the intro to Crazy on You. Most of the original band is together for the first time since the late 70s and they sound really good. The dueling guitar harmonies are spot on, Ann’s voice is excellent if a tad aged and honestly, it’s pretty magical.

Then everyone leaves and we get acoustic Ann and Nancy on Dreamboat Annie. It’s very gorgeous and well executed. But then I realize the original guys are not coming back. The current band plus Cornell and Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell join and do Barracuda. It’s pretty epic. I am totally sold on Heart and can’t wait to see them live this summer. They still have it. You have to wonder how weird it was for that original group to get back together and rehearse and perform. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that.

Now of course we are ready for Rush. Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters do the induction speech and it is funny as hell, but it’s also intense. You can tell Dave feels the way the rest of us do, that it’s about time this has happened. He jokes about getting turned onto 2112 by a ‘cool older stoner cousin’ and how everything changed from there.

His overall premise was ‘when did Rush become cool?’ and the answer was, they have always been cool! However, he also razzed them about the kimonos on the back of the 2112 album sleeve. The camera cut to Neil Peart and he was laughing and shaking his head. It was nice to see Neil get honored. In fact, Hawkins doted pretty heavily on him and of course the crowd was right there too – we want to give Neil his props, maybe even more so because he is so modest.

Rush’s speech was interesting. Neil led off with a very ‘prepared’ and verbose speech that was OK. Geddy was shorter and more heartfelt. He said something like, “we’ve been saying for years that this doesn’t matter, but you know what? It kind of does matter.” And everyone went nuts.

***update*** - it was Neil who said that, and after viewing on YouTube, it was a really nice speech. Sorry, my mind was foggy at 2 a.m. when I typed this!

He [Geddy] also gave a shout out to the fans and all of us attending, and you could tell he was moved at the turnout. Rush fans really are some of the most devoted. It’ll be interesting to see if that comes through on the HBO broadcast.

Alex Lifeson? Well, he started his speech with “blah blah blah” and stayed that course for about a minute too long. But it was funny and irreverent, and, well, very Alex.

Then the lights dimmed and we all noticed a small drum kit in front of Neil’s. The intro to 2112 rang out and Grohl, Hawkins and the Foo Fighters bass player launched into 2112, as Rush – complete with wigs and white jump suits a la 1977. It was funny but they really nailed the song. Right near the end, Rush came out and joined them so you had six guys playing. They did not go into Temples – at that point, the crew quickly got the Foo’s gear off and Rush did incendiary versions of Tom Sawyer and Spirit of Radio.

I was thinking how many people in the audience, certainly the majority of the industry and music folks seated up front, had never seen Rush. They have likely heard those two songs but never live. I am so glad Rush really brought it, to show those people what the hype is all about. There is really nothing quite like live Rush and they kicked ass. It was celebratory, and rightly so.

The end jam was way more organized than I expected. It started with Neil and Geddy laying down a groove, over which half of Public Enemy did a rap – so we did get a Rush/PE jam, which was really cool to see. Then they did Crossroads - it was Rush, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Hawkins on second drums, two of the Public Enemy guys, and on guitar Fogerty, Grohl, Clark Jr., Cornell and Tom Morello. They all traded verses and guitar solos and then it was over.

It was so neat to see Rush share the stage with others. They just never really seem to do that, so it was very cool to have the mix of folks up there. I’ll be pretty high for a few days from this. It was well worth the trip and I’ll be eager to see how they execute an edit for the HBO broadcast May 18.

***update*** - There are already Youtubes of the night up!

Grohl and Hawkins' awesome induction speech:

Rush acceptance speech. See what I mean about Alex?

Foos do Rush

Heart rip Barrauda with Cantrell and Cornell They were super tight about photos in the venue so I only have a few from before the show. In the back of the theater I happened to catch Ann and Nancy Wilson getting into the venue:

The front of this guy’s jacket was laden with hundreds of Rush buttons. People were taking their photo with him like he was a rock star. Classic.

Isorski at the Hall of Fame. Photo taken by a guy like me, who came to LA by himself to pay homage. There were tons of us there, all wandering around outside waiting for the doors to open. Ha ha!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rush to Be Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame Tonight - I'll Be There

When I heard about Rush finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after 14 years of snobbery, I was elated. It seemed like the media and institutions that had written off Rush specifically and progressive music in general were finally realizing that there are a LOT of fans of this music.

And yeah, in the end who cares, but the vindication is nice. I have to admit that.

Hearing the ceremony would be in Los Angeles (at least on the same coast as where I live), I thought I’d look into tickets. But no thanks. After just a few minutes, the ones left were all $350 to $750. However due to a fortunate moment of procrastination, I was surfing the RushIsABand.com site a few weeks later and noted that there were a limted number of those spendy seats now open for $100 a pop.

I decided to buy one and figure out the rest later. I travel to the Bay Area for work frequently and actually had a plane ticket from a cancelled trip that I needed to use. Adding a leg to LA actually brought the overall ticket price DOWN (whatever, but I’ll take it!) so here we are.

I am sitting in the fabulous downtown LA Double Tree, counting out time until the ceremony this evening.

I will certainly post something tonight or tomorrow. Will TRY to take a video or photo but I am sure they will be cracking down on that and I do just want to enjoy this moment as opposed to trying to preserve it. Hell it’ll all be on HBO next month anyway.

Also excited to see Heart and Randy Newman, and additional performers that turn my crank include John Mayer, Christina Aquilera, Cheech and Chong and yeah even Don Henley.

Looking at how I labeled each of my blog posts for easy future reference, I have posted about Rush 97 times since I started this blog in 2006. Um, sorry about that.

But here are a few of my favorites:

Neil Peart Writes to Isorski
Crazy Dude Plays By-Tor and the Snow Dog on A Ukulele
Teenage Rush Fans – You Think You Had It Rough?
The Accidental Drum Tech - Cool Neil Peart Story
Concert Review – Time Machine Tour
Concert Review - Snakes and Arrows Tour
Geddy Lee and the Joys of Winter

...And in an act of totally SHAMELESS promotion, here is my band attempting What You're Doing from the first Rush album:

Monday, April 15, 2013

First New Sabbath Single Coming Friday

I am getting truly fired up for this new Ozzy-led Sabbath album due to the handful of "In the Studio" videos the band has been releasing.

The new album, called 13, is set for release on June 10. The first single, God is Dead?, is set for release on April 19 (Friday). And in a move that some see as controversial but that I see as just a necessary evil in this day and age of record company languish, the song The End Of The Beginning will debut in the close of TV show CSI next month. I imagine in edited form, as it's an eight minute track!

Again, it's impossible to get a feel for a whole album from little snips, but I am hearing a serious old school Sabbath vibe in these video clips.

13 tracklist
1. End Of The Beginning (8:07)
2. God Is Dead? (8:54)
3. Loner (5:06)
4. Zeitgeist (4:28)
5. Age Of Reason (7:02)
6. Live Forever (4:49)
7. Damaged Soul (7:43)
8. Dear Father (7:06)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fleetwood Mac EP Coming Soon

Taking a feather from Rush’s cap, Fleetwood Mac have hit the road with a couple of new songs to play live (as opposed to a full album), and will release an EP within days, according to reports.

I think this is one of the benefits of the digital age, where bands don’t feel obligated to release full albums (frankly, sometimes padding said albums with CRAP to get them done on time). It provides a nice level of freedom and keeps the creative juices flowing without the pressure of a full release. Or so I’d imagine.

Rolling Stone reports that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks recorded at his home leading up to the tour, and one of the new songs, Sad Angel, was filmed just days ago in Philly.

Check it out:

It’s got some nice moments and I bet the studio version has legs.

Total sidebar but have you seen SNL’s Bill Hader do Lindsey Buckingham? It’s a recurring character and it’s damn funny.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

McCartney "Wings Over America" Album, "Rockshow" Film Re-release Coming Soon

People either love or hate Paul McCartney's post-Beatles work, especially the band Wings.

While conceding that it took the band a few albums to gel, I always loved the band and think the latter albums (London Town and Back to the Egg) are very underrated.

A few years back, Macca put out the splendid DVD Wingspan, which chronicled the whole of the 70s for Paul, from the Beatles break-up and his massive depression following it, to his re-energized career and the ashes to glory story of Wings.

The apex for Wings was this mid 70s period where McCartney could sell out arenas again and put out great sounding singles that placed well in the charts. Once Wings achieved this massive success, I get the feeling McCartney felt vindicated and didn't need to prove himself anymore, and then Wings kind of petered out.

Wings Over America, the triple album that chronicled the 1976 tour I just mentioned, is going to come out in expanded, remastered format on May 28. This version will have an additional disc from a California concert, plus a DVD of the Wings special Wings Over The World. There will also be the regular less expensive version that maps to the original release, but of course also remastered.

Also being released is the film Rockshow, the full concert (not the edited version that came out on VHS and Betamax in 1980) fully restored from the original 35mm film and with restored & remastered sound. I didn't know this before looking into the re-release but this tour was the only time McCartney toured the States in the 70s, and it was his first appearance there since the mid-60s with the Beatles, so no wonder it was such a success!

I had Rockshow on a video tape and watched it a million times. Its the ultimate chronicle of live Wings, from Paul pulling out old Beatles tunes in an acoustic set (I've Just Seen A Face, Blackbird), to Wings hits (Live and Let Die, Band on the Run), to Wings B-sides (Letting Go, Rockshow, Let Me Roll It).

Rockshow will also be shown on the big screen for one night only on May 15. For a listing of theaters, go to http://rockshowonscreen.com/.

Below is a YouTube of Let Me Roll It from the film. It'll be nice to have a cleaned up version. I was wondering when this might come out again, and I happy to see it's imminent!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Black Sabbath Release Song Snippet and Artwork from Upcoming Album

Black Sabbath is releasing a new album on June 11 - the first with Ozzy since 1978's Never Say Die. Bill Ward is not drumming on the album (called '13') so it's not a full reunion of the original lineup. But it's still an interesting idea, if not one rife with risk

The band resisted doing this for ages, for fear of not being able to live up to its legacy. A legit concern.

The band's producer on this album, Rick Rubin, forced the Sabs to listen to all of its old albums and said - you are going to make an album like these. Balls, but I guess that is why he gets the big bucks.

Well, based on this snip, he succeeded. It sounds like it was pulled off of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. It's impossible to judge a whole album by a 30 second sample, but this sure gets me fired up to check it out.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Prog on the High Seas - Cruise From The Edge is a Success

There are some ideas that look good on paper and turn out to be terrible in execution. Then there are ideas that just sound so comically bad, you throw up in your mouth a little but then shockingly they turn out OK!

The Cruise to the Edge cruise, where numerous prog bands set sail around the Caribbean (led by Yes, hence the name) on a five day tour of prog rock and elbow rubbing with FANatics is such an example.

When I heard about this idea, I thought it was five rungs below Vegas. But the Notes From The Edge blog had someone who attended and posted every day. I’d encourage you to read through the five posts, but it sounds like it was actually a really cool cruise. Start here with Day One and poke around to find the rest.

I had wondered if the artists would be cordoned off in their rooms in between sets to avoid 'the little people' but from the reports, passengers were able to run into and chat up some of prog’s most revered artists, including Steve Hackett, Chris Squire, Carl Palmer and John Wetton.

There were full concerts in what looks like a pretty nice indoor theater (see below), as well as less formal poolside and bar-esque indoor venues. Then there were question and answer sessions with musicians but also guys like Roger Dean, who designed most of Yes’ album sleeves.

The lineup was impressive – really a who’s who of 70s prog. Apparently the food and service were so-so and the seas were very rocky, but the bands kept it light and everyone was amused by the fact that they were all on a boat, hanging with each other and jamming for the obviously very devoted fans.

If they do this again I just might consider attending! Below are a some videos I was able to find.

Steve Hackett solo

Steve Howe and Jon Davison from Yes

Yes playing Turn of the Century, sounding shockingly good on this very difficult song w/no Rick Wakeman or Jon Anderson!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cookie Monster Subdivisions

I have been on a break from social media since new years - ditched my Facebook account for the moment and have not been too stressed about updating this blog. But mother of god, look what drove me back online. This is classic. Make sure to get to the vocals.

I'd actually buy this as an instrumental track. The music is great, although the drums are a tad over the top!