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 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

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!