Thursday, December 29, 2011

Deja Vu

Exactly three years ago I started this blog, in anticipation of the upcoming release of Bruce Springsteen's latest album, Working On A Dream. I called it a brilliant record when I reviewed it back in Jan of '09. I take that back now; I gave it a spin just the other day, and I must say it doesn't hold up well, aside from four or five songs. It's nothing compared to The Rising and Magic. At this point, we are waiting for the release, or announcement rather, on the details of Bruce's record, rumored to be out in Feb or March. No one is sure if it's a solo or E Street effort, but either way I would expect it's gonna be something vastly different from what he has done in the past, and I strongly believe he's capable of putting out another masterpiece.

I also made a sort of new year's resolution to attend as many E Street shows as possible, time and money permitting of course. So instead of waiting for the announcement of any Australian dates (which I'm sure will happen eventually), I've decided to travel back to the UK next summer to see the band. But this trip would not have been possible if not for two other acts: Pearl Jam and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (doing their first European tour in 20 years).

This has never happened before and probably won't happen again. PJ, Petty and Springsteen all touring the UK in the same exact week. They're all headlining Isle Of Wight, providing one of the best line-ups of any 2012 summer festival. Meanwhile, Glastonbury will not take place next year, and Hard Rock Calling is bumped back to mid-July. I'm happy that Bruce and his band are playing Hyde Park again, and as much as I'd like to go back to it, I would take any non-festival show any day. That's where the real fans are.

So it'll be PJ in Manchester (20 Jun) and Springsteen in Sunderland the next night. 22 Jun is still pending; Petty is doing the first night of Isle Of Wight, same night as Springsteen at Manchester's Etihad Stadium. Would like to avoid IOW if possible, so I'm holding out for more Petty gigs in the UK (there's a one week gap before his headlining gig); anyway, I do not believe he and the Heartbreakers will travel all the way to Europe and not play a show in London at least. It's still a long way to summer, but I can already feel the emotion welling up in me when I think of Clarence not being on stage with the band.

Whenever a major Springsteen tour is announced, I can imagine people immediately dropping what they're doing, rushing to post on BTX and GL, start making traveling plans around Europe or the States, like it's the most important thing in the world. And then before you know it, the ticket-buying anxiety starts kicking in. And then the other 'worries'; will I have good seats, will I have a good view in GA, how long will the show be, what will the setlist be like. I can easily apply the same situation now for the case of Pearl Jam. I love that whole feeling. Happy new year, and keep on rockin' in the free world!

Friday, December 16, 2011

American Slang, glorified



Happy holidays, everyone!

CLICK HERE for a cool Christmas gift from our friends at Backstreets.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage

This is the first and possibly last R.E.M. greatest-hits compilation that combines both songs from the I.R.S. and Warner years. This is the perfect entry album for anyone who's looking to get into the band's music; every one of their albums are fairly represented here (maybe except Monster). But it'll leave new listeners wanting more, cause for every song here, there at least two equally good or better ones not included --

Harborcoat, Pretty Persuasion, Letter Never Sent, Maps And Legends, These Days, Cuyahoga, I Believe, Welcome To The Occupation, World Leader Pretend, Hairshirt, Near Wild Heaven, Texarkana, Drive, Try Not To Breathe, Find The River, Star 69, Strange Currencies, Tongue, E-Bow The Letter, Bittersweet Me, Daysleeper, All The Way To Reno, I'll Take The Rain, Until The Day Is Done, Discoverer, It Happened Today, and the list goes on and on...

That's the incredible legacy R.E.M. left us with. As for the three new songs: A Month Of Saturdays is one of the 'weirdest' things they've done, very short with a post-punk, new wave vibe happening. Hallelujah is slow-burn mediocrity. The best is We All Go Back To Where Belong, a sad but fitting tune to sum up the band's three-decade career. The title says it all, and strings and horns accompany Michael Stipe as he sings "Is this really what you want?". We all know the answer to that. Thanks for the memories, guys.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Little Steven interviews Robbie Robertson

Special two-part episode at the Underground Garage, with "one of the most important cats in the history of Rock n' Roll". Great interview, great stories, and as always, great music.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Top 20 Albums Of 2011

I bought about fifty odd albums released this year; not much really, but much more than the previous few years. It's really hard to narrow down to my top ten, cause there is an overwhelming amount of good stuff. So after much serious re-listening and consideration, here are my top twenty:

1. The Whole Love – Wilco

2. Rome – Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi

3. Ashes & Fire – Ryan Adams

4. Bad As Me – Tom Waits

5. Circuital – My Morning Jacket

6. Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars

7. Nothing Is Wrong – Dawes

8. Collapse Into Now – R.E.M.

9. The Harrow & The Harvest – Gillian Welch

10. Blessed – Lucinda Williams

11. Go-Go Boots – Drive-By Truckers

12. How To Become Clairvoyant – Robbie Robertson

13. Elsie – The Horrible Crowes

14. I’m With You – Red Hot Chili Peppers

15. Wasting Light – Foo Fighters

16. Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes

17. Revelator – Tedeschi Trucks Band

18. The King Is Dead - The Decemberists

19. Bon Iver - Bon Iver

20. The Lost Notebooks Of Hank Williams - Various Artists

almost made the list:
Ukulele Songs - Eddie Vedder
Wild Flag - Wild Flag
So Beautiful Or So What - Paul Simon
The King Of Limbs - Radiohead
Laughing Down Crying - Daryl Hall

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Words



One of my personal favorites of Neil's, from Glastonbury, the night before I saw him at Hyde Park.

Play this for the late Ben Keith, and for George Harrison (25 Feb 1943 - 29 Nov 2001).

Monday, November 28, 2011

revisiting a kick-ass Southern Rock band

Remember back in '08, Tom Petty briefly reunited with his very first band and they put out their debut album after thirty-plus years? I gave the record a spin today, after not having listened to it in more than a year. It still holds up pretty damn well. And Tom Leadon (brother of Bernie, formerly of the Eagles) has got to be the greatest guitarist most of us haven't heard of. He and Mike Campbell are a perfect match. Here's hoping for a sophomore effort.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Buddy 'motherfucker' Guy

Was lucky enough to catch Buddy Guy a few years back. Here is one of the classic all-time jams, taken from the Scorsese-directed Shine A Light. I've been on a Stones roll this past week, with the reissue of Some Girls and The Brussels Affair. Even if you already own the '09 remastered copy of Some Girls, it's worth getting it again for the second disc of outtakes; they're much better than the Exile ones, IMO. Hopefully we'll get to see Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman back in the band next year!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Fans Are Alright

As the title already suggests, this bonus film (3rd disc of the PJ20 deluxe DVD/blu-ray set) focuses on the fans, their relationships to the band, and how they've enabled the band to stay to true to themselves all these years. Interspersed with live hand-held footage are interviews with fans from different continents, including a group that traveled cross-country in a van during the '09 Australian tour. I vividly remember seeing their hand-painted vehicle parked outside the venue after the opening show in Perth.

There's also a 'statistical analysis' portion by this professor who's a big fan, which is strangely interesting to watch. Although he was wrong in one part -- he thought that the reason why the band didn't play Alive during the American leg of their 2000 tour was because they got tired of it. Actually the reason was because of the tragedy at Roskilde. Speaking of which, there's some great footage of Daughter during the first show after that incident.

As far as performances go, the highlight is no doubt Yellow Ledbetter from Philly (31 Oct '09), which would've made the PJ20 film even better if it were included. The look on McCready's face as he stares blankly up to the Spectrum ceiling as he belts out Star Spangled Banner is just PRICELESS. Then there's also Bugs from that night, first time ever performed, a song so bad it's so good. And Eddie was really rocking it on the accordion. Again, let's hope this entire concert sees the light of day on DVD.

The most poignant moment comes during Hard To Imagine (Bonnaroo '08) where Cameron Crowe reads Eddie a fan letter, in which upon watching I had a sudden realization -- where would I be if not for Pearl Jam, or Bruce Springsteen, or Neil Young? To paraphrase what that fan said, their music has made so much impact on every aspect of our lives. Simply put, it's hard to imagine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Kids & Uncle Neil


- courtesy of Spiritual_Chaos (Ten Club member)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Kids Are Twenty

This title, inspired by The Who The Kids Are Alright documentary, is supposedly the original version of what became Pearl Jam Twenty. It contains full live performances of the band right from their inception all the way to last year, with a few archival interviews scattered throughout. As great as most of the live footage is, it's not sufficient enough to tell the Pearl Jam story; a good amount of talk has to be included. Cameron Crowe had to cut down most of the live performances to sizable portions for the final cut of the film, if not the duration of PJ20 would've been too long.

So like the book, this particular version makes another companion piece to the actual film. The song sequencing follows closely to that of the soundtrack, same for sound quality too, only that in most of these performances, the audience noise is mixed noticeably lower. The exception is Bu$shleaguer, where unlike in the soundtrack version, you can actually hear people shouting 'fuck you' to the band, and there's much more crowd booing, which makes viewing the whole clip more enjoyable.

There are also some additional performances not shown in the film, like last year's acoustic performance of Walk With Me at the Bridge School Benefit. My most-listened-to song from the soundtrack, it's always a joy when PJ and Neil Young play together (also there's Rockin' In The Free World from the short European tour of '95). Then there's Gonna See My Friend, taken from their now-legendary Philly stand in '09. It's obvious that those shows were professionally shot in high-def, so it only makes sense if they release a DVD/blu-ray box set in the future; it'll definitely make many people ecstatic.

After the credits roll, there's a bonus clip of the band debuting Of The Earth in Dublin last year. Not pro-shot per-say, as it's only filmed from one handheld camera right at the front, but it proves that perhaps the best spot in the house for any PJ gig is really standing right there. It's something else to see the band members' facial expressions up-close, especially Eddie's. Let's hope Of The Earth makes it onto their upcoming album.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

OFFICIAL - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Album/Tour in 2012

Well, things are starting to heat up down on E Street.

A lot of you have been hearing that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be on tour in 2012. That is absolutely correct. The European dates run from the middle of May until end of July and are being announced this week. Info on the US dates and the World tour dates will coming up shortly.

In addition, we want you to know that the music is almost done (but still untitled), we have almost settled on the release date (but not quite yet), and that we are all incredibly excited about everything that we're planning for 2012. That's all the info we have for right now, but we'll get back to you--real soon.

- courtesy of brucespringsteen.net

I'm under the assumption that it'll be a full-on world tour this time, including other countries outside Europe and the States. We'll just have to wait and see! But the BIG question is, who will replace Clarence Clemons? (a big part of me is hoping for the return of the Miami Horns)

UPDATE (28 Nov): For the full European tour schedule, head over to the official website.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Brussels Affair

With the Rolling Stones soon celebrating their 50th anniversary together next year, they've begun to open up their vaults. And the first item for sale is a previously highly circulated bootleg of one of the most talked-about performances in the Stones live cannon. I've very vaguely heard about this Brussels Affair boot before, but it's only now I get a chance to hear it for the first time, in glorious lossless sound (9 bucks for flac files was a steal). Easily the best live Stones official release, surpassing Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out. It's their most in-your-face live record by far. Not only are the songs better than their studio versions, the band seemed to transcend them to a whole new level. Sound quality is top notch, and Keith Richard's and Mick Taylor's parts are separated clearly in the stereo mix, done by Bob Clearmountain. Oh, and Taylor ABSOLUTELY FUCKING KILLS on the lead -- just listen to him go off on tunes like Gimme Shelter, You Can't Always Get What You Want, All Down The Line, Dancing With Mr. D and Midnight Rambler. And only someone like Mick Jagger can sing the way he does and get away with it. Jumping Jack Flash straight into Street Fighting Man is fucking orgasmic rock & roll, the latter played with a ferocious intensity unlike anything I've heard before. I'm listening to this for the third time in a day as I'm typing. It also made me wanna revisit Goats Head Soup, a highly underrated Stones album.

1. Brown Sugar
2. Gimme Shelter
3. Happy
4. Tumbling Dice
5. Star Star
6. Dancing with Mr. D
7. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
8. Angie
9. You Can't Always Get What You Want
10. Midnight Rambler
11. Honky Tonk Women
12. All Down The Line
13. Rip This Joint
14. Jumpin' Jack Flash
15. Street Fighting Man

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pearl Jam Twenty - The Extras

Finally received my 3-disc blu-ray limited deluxe edition, which has long been sold out, causing many shut-out Ten Club fans to petition for more copies to be manufactured. I hope they do, so as to prevent assholes from selling it on e-bay for more than a hundred bucks. I won't go into the film, as I've already done so two months ago.

There are a couple of extras-cum-deleted scenes on the first disc, all of which are eye-candy to the more-than-casual fan. After having viewed them, I'll probably won't re-watch it for a very long time, maybe except the 'Eddie Vedder House Tour'. He doesn't actually show us around his house entirely; it's mainly medium shots and close-ups. Though you can tell his place looks very cool, particularly inspired by Clockwork Orange and a bit like Luke Skywalker's Tatooine ranch. Not only does Eddie look fucking attractive offstage, there's also a uniqueness to the way he converses with Cameron Crowe that you just wanna pay attention to his every word.

The other band members' extra stuff: Mike McCready in his home studio talking about how Faithfull came about as he plays the lick on his Taylor acoustic. It's interesting for me as it's one of my favorite PJ songs -- McCready at his finest. Also Stone Gossard shows us a little of Seattle from his car and Jeff Ament goes back to his Montana hometown. Keyboardist Boom Gaspar is interviewed, talking about how he joined the band, but his clip is so short that Cameron might as well just have included it into the final cut, cause he's only covered for like a few seconds in the film. Finally Matt Cameron briefly describes to us how he conceived The Fixer; and I didn't know he could play the guitar!

There's this live footage from the mid-'90s where Eddie goes apeshit, smashing his mic stand against the stage floor, creating a hole big enough to go through. And then the band exits the stage through the hole one by one! The last clip is the band performing Come Back in Italy ('06), in memory of Johnny Ramone. It's one of their better ballads, very Otis Redding. Decent material overall. What I really would've wanted were longer interview segments with the band members, or a film commentary by Cameron Crowe (his Almost Famous Director's Cut commentary was fantastically insightful). These bonus stuffs are available on the single-disc edition.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wish You Were Here

So far I'm pleased with what I've heard from the new Pink Floyd remastered catalog (at least from Meddle onwards). The volume is not very loud, unlike a lot of classic rock remasters released in the market today. Which is a good thing because this doesn't compromise on the dynamic range, an important factor in the sound of any Floyd record. In order words they're not brickwalled. Wish You Were Here is the second album, after Dark Side, to receive the extended 'experience' and immersion' treatments (The Wall is coming next Feb). This time I settled for the former, because I wasn't willing to shell out extra for the blu-ray audio.

The second disc's first three tracks are worth the price of the set, all taken from the band's 1974 performance at Wembley. The sound quality here isn't perfect, but still highly listenable. These songs were played before they performed Dark Side in its entirety. Shine On You Crazy Diamond opens the set, a much unpolished live version, in a good way. And then it's followed by a song called Raving And Drooling. I'm not a big Floyd buff, so when I first heard it, I was like holy shit! -- it's the song, Sheep, still a work-in-progress at that time (more loose, different lyrics). It's by far my favorite Floyd tune, and I always get goosebumps when David Gilmour comes in full force strumming his electric guitar at its ending climax; this early live rendition contains that.

You've Got To Be Crazy is another soon-to-be-on-Animals song, which turned into the epic Dogs (they really ought to release an Animals extended edition in the future). The last three songs are from the studio; Wine Glasses taken from the abandoned Household Objects project, which would end up as the intro to Shine. This particular Have A Cigar features Roger Waters on vocals. The story was that he felt uncomfortable singing it, so he got Roy Harper to do it. Also Gilmour refused to sing it, from what I read in the Comfortably Numb biography. It's not surprising the words are still damn relevant today, a hard stab at the soulless, greedy record companies. The set concludes with a different version of the title track, with a violin taking center-stage.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The SMiLE Sessions

There's a reason why it's called The Smile Sessions, and not Smile, cause as we all know, The Beach Boys never fully completed making the record in 1966 and '67. Conquering his demons, Brian Wilson finally finished his own Smile in 2004, and when I first heard it I thought it was the greatest pop record since Pet Sounds. Makes you wonder, if Smile was released like it was supposed to forty plus years ago would the music world have been in a much different place.

No matter how many times you listen to Brian Wilson's fully realized version, you'll never ever once get bored or let down feeling like the original Beach Boys version is too much of the same. In many ways it is, but then in many ways it's not. It's mixed in mono, like it was intended to. You can hear lots of 'missing' elements, but it isn't that much of an issue. In fact, the one big thing Smile Sessions has that Brian Wilson Presents Smile does not is that dream-like psychedelic vibe, in which it's filled almost to the brim. It's hard to explain, you gotta listen to it. And also the fact that the rest of the Beach Boys are actually singing these songs should be enough to please all of us.

Obviously the three big songs here are Heroes and Villains, Surf's Up and Good Vibrations. But I think it's Surf's Up that really anchors everything, and sums up what this whole record is about, and I love how the mini-suite of Wonderful, Song For Children and Child Is Father Of The Man lead up to it. It's the most ingenious Beach Boys song ever composed, in an album full of ingenuity. But even that's an understatement. I can't even to contemplate the enormous effect this particular song has on my ears. You'd never think a human mind like that of Brian Wilson's (and gifted lyricist Van Dyke Parks) could possibly create something like this, let alone an entire concept album of this magnitude.

Meanwhile, the second disc filled with session outtakes is a revelation, giving us a glimpse into Wilson's creative process and his perfectionistic tendencies. There's a lot of communication between him and the band and the Wrecking Crew (session musicians) in between takes, and you can immediately tell that this was a young man in complete control of his artistic vision. He knows exactly what he wanted and he'd stop at nothing to get it. I never expected to get my mind blown from listening to the Smile Sessions, because even today, the music still sounds so fucking out there. It made me forget the eternal greatness of Sgt Peppers. I believe Smile will make vastly improve everyone's lives. Give it a whirl.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the ones that got away

Has this been another excellent year for new record releases or what? There are some albums which I never got around to mentioning, so here they are, highly recommended:





Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kindergarten: The Alternative Achtung Baby

Besides the b-sides and bonus tracks, this 'Kindergarten' disc was the reason why I got the Super Deluxe boxset. These are the early versions of Achtung. They all share one thing in common -- they were missing producers Brian Eno's and Danny Lanois' magic touch, which weren't really apparent on these 'baby' versions as compared to the final. I'll briefly go through the songs one by one:

1. Zoo Station
A much longer intro. Slightly different lyrics. Bono doesn't sing the title in the chorus, so it probably wasn't called Zoo Station early on. Also there's no ('it's alright/hey baby') bridge after the second chorus.

2. Even Better Than The Real Thing
Different lyrics. Different intro. Enjoyable as always, but the one on Achtung is more impactful.

3. One
The acoustic guitars are brought way forward, too much in fact. Obviously the final version is miles better; it's Edge's electric guitar that makes this song what it is.

4. Until The End Of The World
Edge's riff is buried, making the acoustic guitar more prominent. Again, not as impactful.

5. Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
Very different set of words. Edge's signature echo opens the song. Musically there's much more happening here than the final version. But what's missing is that sonic styling of Eno and Lanois. Also Bono's vocals doesn't hit you as much as he does in the Achtung version.

6. So Cruel
Similar to the final, but very different mix. Edge's little guitar riff in the verses can be heard more, and synthesizers are lowered a bit. I prefer Larry's hi-hat sound on Achtung though.

7. The Fly
Not much different. Just a little longer. Best ever Edge solo.

8. Mysterious Ways
Almost the same; with the exception of slight lyrical variations and Edge's small guitar solo after the second chorus. Much better on the final.

9. Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World
The most substantially different version from the final, with a slower tempo. This one here is almost a folk tune; it sounds as if the band was jamming it out for the very first time. It has an upbeat and fun vibe to it. But of course this kind of sound wouldn't have fit into the overall sonic texture of Achtung.

10. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
The lyrical intro we've all come to love ('sometimes I feel like checking out...') was initially placed at the tail-end of the song. Not as effective as when put at the start.

11. Acrobat
No major differences, except Edge's guitar is slightly louder here. In my opinion, this is some of his best guitar work ever; very underrated. It's like he's playing lead under Bono's singing.

12. Love Is Blindness
Best ever U2 album closer. This 'baby' is over seven minutes long, which is uncomfortably long. The final version was much tighter, concise and more passionate. Missing here is the ominous medieval-like organ intro, which is really the best thing about the song. Also Adam's bass lines; fucking spine-chilling.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Achtung Baby: B-Sides & Bonus Tracks

This is my first time listening to most of the songs on this disc (Super Deluxe boxset), and I enjoyed the bulk of it, several of which were early versions of what ended up on Achtung -- Lady With The Spinning Head has a similar groove as The Fly, and the drumming rhythm of Oh Berlin turned into Acrobat. Down All The Days became Numb from Zooropa; I much prefer the former, where Bono sings a different set of lyrics. Don't get me wrong, Edge is a fantastic singer, but I think Numb isn't his shining moment. The one song that would've fit perfectly on Achtung is definitely Salome, boasting that signature sexy rhythm pairing of Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton that made Achtung the classic that it is.

There's a remix of Wild Horses here, in which the acoustic guitars are more prominent. It sounds not bad, but you don't have that sort of emotional attachment you get from the original version. Blow Your House Down is the single to promote the Achtung reissue, and it sounds nothing like their Achtung stuff; it's more How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb-sounding, reminiscent of Fast Cars. Meanwhile, the slower soul songs, Heaven And Hell and the Stax classic, Everybody Loves A Winner are pretty rocking. Then there are the three rock & roll covers, which range from excellent (Satellite Of Love), to average (Paint It Black), to fucking terrible (Fortunate Son).

The last song is a remix of Even Better Than The Real Thing, and it's unarguably the best U2 remix ever done. This more-disco version was what the band opened most of this year's 360 shows with (and also Glasto). Speaking of remixes, I'm not gonna review the two remix discs, Uber and Unter, because I'm not really digging them. Some of these are unexpectedly good, but I can't get through most of them without getting a headache after a few minutes of listening. There's just something about dance and club music that makes me nauseous. Next up is the Kindergarten stuff.

Friday, November 11, 2011

From The Sky Down

This documentary film is about the making of Achtung Baby, or rather about U2 reflecting on that tumultuous period. It's roughly 75mins long, and I don't mind if it's short, but I think the film is rather incomplete. It's like director, Davis Guggenheim, rushed to put it together to make the deadline for the Achtung Baby boxset release, or the Toronto International Film Festival back in September, where it premiered. A lengthy amount of time is spent talking about the band during the '80s, especially on the Joshua Tree period, and while it is kinda necessary to put things into perspective leading up to the early '90s, it just drags the film down too much. Early in the film the band rehearses for Glastonbury in a Winnipeg theatre, and we see them trying out The Fly. And we see the band talking and trying to figure out live arrangements and stuff. There should be more of that footage; I probably would've enjoyed the film more.

Also the band revisiting Hansa Studios in Berlin. Again I've would've liked to see more jamming of the Achtung songs in there. The director did capture them doing a bit of So Cruel and Wild Horses, which was excellent. I also liked how he incorporated humorous unique animation into the band members' soundbites, similar to what he did in that guitar docu, It Might Get Loud. There's this interesting scene where we hear a sessions tape of an early version of Mysterious Ways, in which its chord progression became One. For me the best part of the film comes at the last five minutes, where the band prepares to take the Glastonbury stage, and then launches into a new rendition of Even Better Than The Real Thing. From The Sky Down could've been a documentary that really reveals the greatness of Achtung Baby, especially to the more casual fan, but it falls short. For a better scoop about the making of the album, check out the book, U2 By U2. The film is currently only available on the Uber and Super Deluxe boxsets -- smart money-making ploy.

I'm not going into detail for the other audio-visual contents, cause there's nothing new to cover: The second DVD consists of all the Achtung (and Zooropa) singles' music videos, their alternate versions and several live videos. The third disc contains a one-hour documentary-cum-concert film of the Zoo TV tour filmed at Yankees Stadium, and some other smaller TV specials and Achtung multimedia content. The last disc is the complete Zoo TV show from Sydney, which as you know, has been released before. More to come on the other audio contents...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Achtung Baby 20

The Super Deluxe boxset of Achtung Baby is by far the heaviest boxset I've ever owned. The 6 CDs and 4 DVDs are placed securely at the front and end of the hardcover book respectively. Apart from the iconic photographs taken from that era, the book also contains essays by people close to the band (Brian Eno, Danny Lanois, Anton Corbijn) and music critics. I'll start with the Achtung Baby album. Technically it is NOT remastered, because the original record was already mastered pretty well. But there are some improvements to the sound, more apparent when heard on a hi-fi system. The volume is noticeably higher, and also the bass is more defined, which is a good thing. A few tweaks have been made here and there, and to my ears it sounds like Bono's voice is clearer. Some of the little instruments that were kinda buried in the original are now brought more to the front. Achtung is still one of the best sounding records of its time, and I guess there's no huge need to properly remaster it. Zooropa is also included in the boxset (not remastered). It's a decent record, no real bad songs, but some of them are forgettable. However there's no denying that the title track is one of the most outstanding songs U2 has put out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bridge School Concerts: 25th Anniversary Edition DVD

This DVD set chalked full of mostly breathtaking performances has left me wanting more. Twenty-five years worth of rock & roll acoustic bliss at the Bridge School Benefit concerts, and this compilation is barely scratching the surface. But lots of the stuff present here over two discs will go down in live music history as some of the most special performances ever. We may never see R.E.M. play together live again, let alone with Neil Young, so I'm glad that Country Feedback was included. A punk-looking David Bowie sits down for a chilling, stripped-down Heroes. Dylan takes a more aggressive stab at Girl From The North Country. Pearl Jam surprises with a very different form of Better Man. Tom Waits works up some real sweat growling his classic 16 Shells. And Uncle Neil on Crime In The City, which is FUCKING STELLAR. And sometimes the simplest songs are those that stick the most; James Taylor on Fire And Rain, Simon & Garfunkel on America, and Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings on The Way It Will Be, my personal favorite. I felt so liberated and inspired after spending over two hours watching.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pearl Jam Twenty - The Book

I finally got around to finish reading. All the essential knowledge one needs to know about Pearl Jam is in this PJ20 book. The format is similar to U2 By U2, the official U2 'autobiography'. It's supposed to be a companion piece to the film, so a number of quotes from the movie are more or less the same as in the book, except that the book has much much more stuff. Think of it as a novel and the film as a heavily condensed adaption of the novel. And like in the film, there are more pages about the band's first ten years, which are also the most interesting to read. Countless anecdotes scattered throughout, interviews with close friends, peers, influences and idols. And lotta awesome photographs. I like that the writers put the recording process of each album into a long essay form at the end of the chapter of whichever year it was released. However, the most notable thing missing is drummer Dave Abbruzzese's input -- he wasn't interviewed at all. I'm not surprised if there's still some bad blood between him and Eddie. For any PJ fan, it's a must to read this and watch the film, doesn't really matter which first. For me, I got more satisfaction from the book. It's further validation of why we've come to love this band so much.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mr. November

The National took the stage to the most unlikeliest song ever, Bob Dylan's The Man In Me. And they decided to go slow and mellow by opening with Runaway. The band's first-ever concert in Asia had a setlist heavy of Boxer and High Violet songs, in which most of the audience were familiar with, and I think those live versions were much better than the album versions, more guitar-driven and more rock & roll. The trumpet and trombone were put to good use, and they stood out more during tunes like Fake Empire, Conversation 16 and England.

Frontman Matt Berninger was weirdly mesmerizing to watch. You would think by the way he sings he would not really be that engaging. But there was quite a lot of onstage banter in between songs, with the audience and his bandmates. When he sang he gripped on to his mic stand as if he were hanging on for dear life. And when he didn't, he watched his drummer, with his back to the audience. He moved graciously and randomly across the stage, like a drunk. And then once in a while, he'd explode, screaming the lyrics, most notably in Squalor Victoria.

My personal favorite was Mr. November, the second song in the encore. And then Matt made a comment about American politics. The new rendition of Terrible Love was stirringly loud and the singer decided to work his way to the middle of the floor, walking over the seats among the audience. The closing song was an unplugged (literally), singalong version of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks. Thanks to the excellent venue acoustics, I could actually hear the guitar strumming from where I was on the second floor.

The National is my fourth and last gig of 2011. Yup, it has been kind of a terrible concert-going year. But my god, what an unforgettable show; it really took me by surprise how great it was. My ears are still ringing as I'm typing this. Next up, Roger Waters performs The Wall in January.

P.S. This was one of the rare occasions where I didn't take a single photo.

1. Runaway
2. Anyone's Ghost
3. Mistaken For Strangers
4. Bloodbuzz Ohio
5. Slow Show
6. Squalor Victoria
7. Afraid Of Everyone
8. Conversation 16
9. Available / Cardinal Song
10. Sorrow
11. Apartment Story
12. Abel
13. Daughters Of The Soho Riots
14. England
15. Fake Empire

16. Lucky You
17. Mr. November
18. Terrible Love
19. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Bruce in Pittsburgh

There's this really glowing review of Springsteen's recent (second) show with Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers on Rolling Stone (click here). Reading it and seeing those live videos is getting me all hyped up for his next tour and album, which may or may not be with the E Street Band. I do hope it's the latter, cause those guys got too great a thing going to be stopping right now. Last night I re-read a bit of Bruce's eulogy to Clarence Clemons, and in the final paragraph he described what the Big Man said to his comrades after the last E Street show in Buffalo in '09:

This could be the start of something big.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pete Townshend



Some interesting advice the man has for Apple and the record labels.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lulu

After watching Lou Reed and Metallica perform Sweet Jane and White Light/White Heat at the 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame concert back in '09, it didn't seem outright surprising when it was announced that both legendary artists would be collaborating in the studio.

What's surprising though is the subject matter they chose to tackle in their first album (and a concept one) together. Get this: the songs of Lulu are based on two early 20th century plays (Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box) by German expressionist, Frank Wedekind, and they tell the story of Lulu, a doomed prostitute. From the start I had a feeling this whole thing could be the most brilliant idea or it could be the worst idea ever. After hearing Lulu the first time through, I have to say it's not exactly brilliant, it's just plain alright.

The music is relentless most of the time; the sheer force of Metallica's signature sounds grabs you by the collar and forces you in. While I don't have issues with James Hetfield's singing, I can't help but feel irritated whenever his voice comes up. But Lou Reed is the 'star' here, and Lou is being his usual self. His awkward phrasing and talk-singing didn't put me off at all; and I think that's what I like about the album.

The lyrics are dark and violent and sadistic; all the hateful emotions you can imagine all present in these songs. And the songs are long, spread over two discs. Some of the songwriting was pretty laughable at first listen, but after a second and third time through, I found myself more creeped out than amused.

I think there are only two or three songs (Iced Honey, Cheat On Me) here where most of us will find 'normal'. The closing Junior Dad, is weird, kinda like a thorn among the roses. It's almost twenty minutes long -- the first part is classic Lou, then Metallica stops playing halfway through, and then it's just a sea of strings all the way till fade out. I can't fathom that.

Reviews have been very mixed on this one -- dreadful, horrific, utter crap are what many have described it. People don't know what to make of it, and that's totally understandable. Because it's not so much of a collaboration as it is two artists doing their own thing, not really moving out of their comfort zone, so to speak. But put them together and the end results are unique, avant garde heavy metal, and I dig it for the most part.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Waiting



I gotta post this again, because the performance is so fucking good.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bad As Me

I read a quote somewhere from Sam Cooke in the mid-60s, where he said singing is not about how pretty the voice is; it's about believing that the voice is telling the truth. Tom Waits is one of those singers that embodies this quality. Bad As Me, his first album in seven years, can stand up with past classics like Rain Dogs, Small Change, Mule Variations and Swordfishtrombones. Simply put, Bad As Me is BAD. It's fierce, exciting and full of surprises. Lots of different musical styles -- Howlin' Wolf blues, film-noir ballads, gospel, waltz, R&B and soul, post-modern vaudeville, plain kick-ass rockabilly, and Waits and his band of talented musicians (including Marc Ribbots, David Hidalgo and Flea) excel in all of them. Keith Richards also sings and plays guitar on several songs, including Satisfied, a humorous sincere nod to (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, where Waits namechecks Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards. The songs are short as they are catchy; I'm surprised how terribly accessible this record is. No duds or anything, and the second last Hell Broke Luce is hot shit wicked. It's basically a rap tune in the form of a military march, and it blows away every other hip-hop/rap song out there now. If you feel down like the world has fucked you over, this is THE record to listen to. Do yourself a favor and get it.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Lost Notebooks Of Hank Williams

When Hank Williams died in 1952, he left behind personal notebooks containing a wealth of written lyrics, finished and unfinished. This new compilation brings together American artists of different generations and genres, using those lyrics to record songs that he never got a chance to, with some of them adding their own words. It's a similar concept to Billy Bragg's & Wilco's Mermaid Avenue, in which they used Woody Guthrie's lyrics.

The artists try their best to convey the mood one gets from listening to a Hank Williams tune, just with added instrumentation, and I think most do a fairly good job -- Alan Jackson (the first song being the best song), Jack White, Lucinda Williams, Patty Loveless, Levon Helm, Holly Williams (granddaughter of Hank), Merle Haggard, and even Bob Dylan, who brings a waltz-like touch to The Love That Faded. One thing still rings true; the words of Hank Williams cut like an extremely sharp knife; nothing but truth and honesty in them. It's common to hear this kind of personal songwriting these days, and we all know who to thank. All in all, Lost Notebooks is a more than decent tribute to the greatest country music artist in history. It's best to familiarize yourself with his music before getting into this.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

U22

U2 has done right this time, to the official fan club members that is. U2.com subscribers have the chance to decide the tracklist for an upcoming live double-CD compilation from the 360 tour (fan-club-only exclusive). Below is a list of 46 songs played throughout the two-year worldwide trek, and all the 30 countries that U2 performed in are represented. The ones in bold are what I voted for (top 22) -- being a more-than-casual fan, I'd naturally go for the lesser known and played stuff. At least this and the Achtung Baby boxset will keep me company till their next album.

40
All I Want Is You/Love Rescue Me
Angel Of Harlem
Bad
Beautiful Day
Breathe
City Of Blinding Lights
Desire
Electrical Storm
Elevation
Even Better Than The Real Thing
Get On Your Boots
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (Remix)
In A Little While
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
I Will Follow
Magnificent
Miss Sarajevo
Moment Of Surrender
Mothers Of The Disappeared
Mysterious Ways
New Year's Day
No Line On The Horizon
One
One Tree Hill
Out Of Control
Party Girl
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Return Of The Stingray Guitar
Scarlet
Spanish Eyes
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
Sunday Bloody Sunday
The Fly
The Unforgettable Fire
Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
Unknown Caller
Until The End Of The World
Vertigo
Walk On
Where The Streets Have No Name
With Or Without You
Your Blue Room (perhaps the rarest of all)
Zooropa

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bridge School Concert

Big thanks to the organizers and YouTube for putting up a live stream for Saturday night's Bridge School Benefit show. I only started watching at the halfway point, where Ed performed his acoustic set. Didn't catch Mumford & Sons.

Eddie Vedder:
1. Don't Cry No Tears (kinda fucked it up and stopped at the start)
2. You Gotta Hide Your Away
3. Don't Cry No Tears (full)
4. Rise
5. Without You (using that 'Clarence' uke)
6. Tonight You Belong To Me (with Regine from Arcade Fire)
7. Just Breathe
8. Porch (nailed it big time)
9. Sleepless Nights (with Beck)

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds:
1. So Damn Lucky
2. Save Me
3. Crush
4. Out Of My Hands (Dave on piano)
5. Two Step (Tim killing it on the solo)
6. Oh Susanna (with Neil Young)

Arcade Fire:
1. The Suburbs
2. Empty Room
3. Month Of May
4. Rebellion (Lies)
5. Intervention
6. Helpless (with Neil)
7. Wake Up

Neil Young:
1. Comes A Time
2. Sugar Mountain
3. Long May You Run
4. Heart Of Gold
5. Get Together (with everyone)

An absolutely awe-inspiring performance from Uncle Neil, and it was really something when he played to the Bridge School kids behind the stage.

CLICK HERE to re-watch tonight's stream.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Final R.E.M. Retrospective



CLICK HERE to listen to the last song R.E.M. ever recorded.

Disc One
Gardening At Night
Radio Free Europe
Talk About The Passion
Sitting Still
So. Central Rain
(Don't Go Back To) Rockville
Driver 8
Life And How To Live It
Begin The Begin
Fall On Me
Finest Worksong
It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
The One I Love
Stand
Pop Song 89
Get Up
Orange Crush
Losing My Religion
Country Feedback
Shiny Happy People

Disc Two
The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
Everybody Hurts
Man On The Moon
Nightswimming
What's The Frequency, Kenneth?
New Test Leper
Electrolite
At My Most Beautiful
The Great Beyond
Imitation Of Life
Bad Day
Leaving New York
Living Well Is The Best Revenge
Supernatural Superserious
Überlin
Oh My Heart
Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter
A Month Of Saturdays
We All Go Back To Where We Belong
Hallelujah

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gaslight Anthem: iTunes Session

This newly released EP is their last with indie label, Side One Dummy Records. The band recently announced that they'll be moving to Mercury/Island Def Jam Records. Let's hope they maintain their integrity and not sell themselves out. This seven-song set was recorded for an iTunes-only release, and contains a couple of fantastic rock covers, Baba O'Riley, Refugee, State Of Love And Trust and the Animals' House Of The Rising Sun (which I think is the best). Also included are three of their own, a slowed-down Boxer and a new one called Fathers And Sons, and the highly underrated The Navesink Banks. Brian Fallon's voice has never sounded better, and so has the band. If all goes well, we'll be getting the new Gaslight record next summer!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This Wheel's On Fire

That's the title of Levon Helm's autobiography released in the early '90s. It's essential reading about the history of The Band; written very informally like almost conversation style, and includes their stints with the Ronnie Hawkins and Dylan, in which they've honed their craft on the live stage for several years before finally making Music From Big Pink, which singlehandedly changed American music forever. I've always had a fondness for Big Pink, but after reading the book and listening to the album again, I was taken aback even more. It still sounds so revolutionary. On the other hand there's also the darker and more bitter parts of their career, covered thoroughly, especially The Last Waltz. I didn't realise how much Levon hated doing that farewell show and in particular how much he 'hated' Robbie Robertson towards the end, who was portrayed by the press as being the frontman of the band and took most of the credit for the songwriting and music, which led to the reason why Rick Danko and Richard Manuel got tired of composing after the first two albums. Also Levon describes both Rick's and Richard's deaths in heartbreaking detail. Richard died a week after I was born. Robbie's autobiography is due next year, so it'd be interesting to read his perspective on things. Hopefully we'll finally get the other half of The Band's real story.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Achtung Baby, Q Magazine has put together a tribute cover album, its CD to be included in its latest issue. CLICK HERE to check out Jack White's cover of Love Is Blindness (note: it's fucking intense).

UPDATE:
CLICK HERE for Patti Smith's rendition of Until The End Of The World.
CLICK HERE for The Killers' Ultraviolet (Light My Way).
CLICK HERE for Nine Inch Nails' Zoo Station.

1. Nine Inch Nails – Zoo Station
2. U2 (Jacques Lu Cont Mix) – Even Better Than The Real Thing
3. Damien Rice – One
4. Patti Smith – Until The End Of The World
5. Garbage – Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
6. Depeche Mode – So Cruel
7. Snow Patrol – Mysterious Ways
8. The Fray – Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World
9. Gavin Friday – The Fly
10. The Killers – Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
11. Glasvegas – Acrobat
12. Jack White – Love Is Blindness

P.S. For those planning to buy the Achtung Baby box sets, get 'em from Amazon; they got the cheapest deals.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Do you believe in love?

It's funny the best records of the year always come out during the last quarter, at least in recent times. I think I may have found the album of the year, and it's Ryan Adams'. My expectations were riding high for Ashes & Fire, his first proper record since 2008's Cardinology with The Cardinals (last year's released III/IV was actually recorded few years ago and Orion was a heavy metal concept album which saw a limited vinyl-only release). It's Adams at his mellowest and most tender, kinda like Heartbreaker and 29 mellow, but not as depressing as the latter. For me personally, this is the album I can most easily relate to, with Easy Tiger a close second.

The melodies and chord progressions and instrumentation here are things that won't surprise a longtime Ryan Adams listener, cause it's nothing we haven't heard before from the man. The songwriting gets to you, words that cut extremely deep like you wouldn't believe. But it's not only that; it's the marriage of the words and the music, and the results are stunning gorgeous and seductive. They just get into your head and remain there. And trust me, I've never heard him sung this good in a long time. The legendary Glyn Johns is back behind the board to produce, and the Hearbreakers' Benmont Tench plays the keyboards, instinctively filling in the spaces where appropriate. Wife Mandy Moore and occasional collaborator Norah Jones (piano) also help sing background.

It's really hard to single out any of the eleven songs, because I think they're all equally amazing. Digressing a bit, when it comes to reviewing or talking about albums and songs on this blog, I've come to a point where I've more or less run out of interesting vocabulary to describe how good they are. The bottom line is it's always hard to talk music, but for those of us who love it to death and write about it, we try our best to convey our thoughts, enough to hopefully encourage others to listen. Anyway, I can't even begin to talk about the songs on Ashes & Fire, other than to say they're among the most beautifully crafted by Adams. Just let the music take over your soul. It helps particularly late at night with a bottle of wine in hand -- it's one of those records.

Adams has suffered one of the worst possible illnesses imaginable for a musician, a rare condition known as Ménière's disease, which affected his hearing, that could very well have ended his career few years ago. Ashes & Fire is proof that he not only overcame the illness, but he's back to creating masterpiece records again. Despite having made music for more than fifteen years now, I feel that with this album, Ryan Adams' career is really only beginning. Get the CD or vinyl.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Goodbye, Steve

Since everyone's saying something, I might as well too. If it wasn't for Mr. Steve Jobs and his revolutionizing the music industry, my immense music collection would be in a big mess. So I'm forever thankful for him for coming up with iTunes, and also not forgetting the Macbook Pro, which has made my life so much easier and fun. And the iPod -- I've stuck with it for the past seven years (only changed twice), long enough to realize that I shouldn't be sticking headphones into my ears so much and instead, move back to the old days of just buying the physical CDs and listening to them at home on the hi-fi. But I'm still holding on to the iPod, and while I don't listen to it as much as I used to, I still treasure the fact that I can store my entire Springsteen live bootleg collection and travel around the world with it in my pocket. Also I can't believe the countless ideas I've had just by listening to it, riding on the bus and train. For example, the overwhelming amount of playlists I've created on-the-go as I scroll through the artists and albums and songs. Playlists, when done right, are one of the best tools for creating and fostering relationships with people. Meanwhile, the man tried his best to save the music industry. Obviously it couldn't be saved, but if it weren't for him, the business would have been in much deeper shit than it is now, probably even gone. He and his gang were goddamn geniuses. Rest in peace, Steve.

Bridge School Concerts: 25th Anniversary Edition

Heads up -- a 3DVD and 2CD compilation will be released later this month, featuring some of the most unique acoustic performances, culled from the past 25 years of the Bridge School benefit concerts. Proceeds go directly to the Bridge School.

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER DVD...
CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER CD...

The Bridge School Concerts 25th Anniversary Edition DVD

Disc 1:
Bruce Springsteen, “Born In The USA”
Patti Smith, “People Have The Power”
Pearl Jam, “Better Man”
David Bowie, “Heroes”
Ben Harper, “There Will Be A Light”
Bob Dylan, “Girl From The North Country”
R.E.M., “Country Feedback”
Emmylou Harris & Buddy Miller, “Love Hurts”
Fleet Foxes, “Blue Ridge Mountains”
Devendra Banhart, “At The Hop”
Bonnie Raitt, “The Road Is My Middle Name”
Billy Idol, “Rebel Yell”

Disc 2:
Brian Wilson, “Surfin' USA”
Gillian Welch, “The Way It Will Be”
The Pretenders, “Sense Of Purpose”
James Taylor, “Fire and Rain”
Simon and Garfunkel, “America”
Tom Petty, “Shadow Of A Doubt”
Dave Matthews, “Too Much”
Neil Young, “Crime In The City”
Tom Waits, “16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six”
Elton John and Leon Russell, “A Dream Come True”
Paul McCartney, “Get Back”
Metallica, "Disposable Heroes”
The Who, “Won't Get Fooled Again”

Disc 3:
Bridge School Documentaries:
Backstage At The Bridge School Benefit Concert
• The Bridge School Story

• Special Feature - Student/Artist Interviews


The Bridge School Concerts 25th Anniversary Edition CD

CD 1:
Bruce Springsteen, “Born In The USA”
Dave Matthews, “Too Much”
No Doubt, “Magic’s In The Makeup”
Jack Johnson, “Gone”
Fleet Foxes, “Blue Ridge Mountains”
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, “Love And Only Love”
Sonic Youth, “Rain On Tin”
Pearl Jam, “Better Man”
Gillian Welch, “The Way It Will Be”
R.E.M. & Neil Young, “Country Feedback”
Willie Nelson, “The Great Divide”
Nils Lofgren, “Cry Just A Little”

CD 2:
Sarah McLachlan, “Elsewhere”
Paul McCartney, “Get Back”
Elton John & Leon Russell, “A Dream Come True”
Band Of Horses, “Marry Song”
Metallica, “Disposable Heroes”
Thom Yorke, “After The Gold Rush”
Sheryl Crow, “The Difficult Kind”
Tony Bennett, “Maybe This Time”
CSNY, “Déjà Vu”
Norah Jones, “Jesus, Etc”
Jonathan Richman, “I Was Dancing In The Lesbian Bar”
Brian Wilson, “Surfin' USA”
The Who, “Won't Get Fooled Again”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Alice Cooper Gig

When the band played School's Out towards the end of the concert, I kinda knew that Alice would put in a little of Another Brick In The Wall (Part II) in there. And he did. Other than that, I only recognized like five other songs from the setlist. But it was a pretty high energy show throughout, filled with plenty of Halloween props, including a giant-sized Frankenstein and a guillotine!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mockingbird Time

"I want to make something for you that brings you joy", sings Mark Olsen in the title track of the new Jayhawks record, the first since 1995's Tomorrow The Green Grass to feature the two founders and principle singer-songwriters Olsen and Gary Louris. I love all the stuff they've done together, so this one is no different. They've got some great harmonies and melodies going and because both their voices sound so different, when put together it sounds magical. This is an album with no skippable tracks and it's always a huge plus if there's some sort of narrative or musical flow from song to song. If there's one that jumps out at me, it's Cinnamon Love -- I'd imagine it's something Buffalo Springfield or CSN would do if they were recording today. If you like your rock & roll, country, blues and folk jumbled up together, then this is the album to get! At the end of the day, any record that has pedal steel always brings me joy.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A HOAX: New Springsteen Album

Some fucking troll on BTX posted this fake news (see below) and it has spread like wildfire over the past few days. Now it has shown up on Twitter and even music press like NME. Remember, all this is NOT TRUE. What's true however, is that the E Street Band will be getting together soon to discuss their future, according to Steve Van Zandt.

Bruce Springsteen's 'Arcade At Night' Set For November 8 Release On Columbia Records

Bruce Springsteen's new album 'Arcade At Night' has been set for November 8 release on Columbia Records. 'Arcade At Night' was recorded with current and former members of the E Street Band including Steven Van Zandt, David Sancious and Roy Bittan. 'Arcade At Night' features twelve new Springsteen compositions plus one bonus track written in memory of Saxophonist, Clarence Clemons, who was lost from complications of a stroke in June 2010. It is the first collaboration between Springsteen and Ron Aniello, who produced and mixed the album.

1. Beneath The Floodgate
2. Arcade At Night
3. Stuck
4. Times Two
5. Turned Away
6. You'll Never Know
7. Figure It Out
8. Lost Soldiers
9. Caravan
10. Dead Of Night
11. Out Of Tune
12. Wake Me Up
Bonus track:
Bigger Than Life

'Arcade At Night' is Bruce Springsteen's twenty-fifth album and was recorded and mixed at Thrill Hill Recording* in Colts Neck, NJ with additional recording in New York City and Los Angeles.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Immersion into The Dark Side

What makes The Dark Side Of The Moon the classic that it is? The repeating chord progressions throughout the songs, the talking heads ("I don't know/I was really drunk at the time" is my favorite), the lunatic laughing, the orgasmic singing on The Great Gig In The Sky and my god the most beautiful piano intro of any Floyd song ever, the delaying synthesizers on Any Colour You Like, the grand swirling chorus of Us And Them, the sax solo on Money, the explosion at the end of On The Run, the clocks going off in Time and the following drum solo during the ominous build-up, the transition from Brian Damage to Eclipse, the perfect unison and rhythm of the cash register sounds and Roger Waters' thumping bass, the way David Gilmour sings "hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way", and so on and so on.

I believe the newly released immersion edition of The Dark Side is a must-get for all Floyd fans. The 5.1 Surround (also included are Stereo and Quad) mixes on DVD and Blu-Ray are simply out of this world; it's like listening to this album for the first time. You get the '74 Wembley concert -- the album performed in its entirety, featuring some outstanding extended jams on Money and Us And Them. Play this loud, and if your hair doesn't stand upon hearing "I've been mad for fucking years", then better get your pulse checked. Finally included in this boxset is the original mix by Alan Parsons; surprisingly good, initially I found myself listening to this more than the final album. Lotta subtle but noticeable differences. And a lot more eerie laughs from the lunatic.

Other than Dark Side, I only got the remastered Animals (mindblowing) and A Momentary Lapse Of Reason; I'll stray away from the first four albums for now as I still can't get past their ultra-psychedelic weirdness yet. Next up: Meddle, Obscured By Clouds, Division Bell, Wish You Were Here (in November) and the big one, The Wall next February!!!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE...

P.S. As part of Pink Floyd week on The Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon, CLICK HERE to check out Pearl Jam performing Mother and Foo Fighters & Roger Waters doing In The Flesh?.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

PJ20 Soundtrack - Disc 2

The second disc opens up with my favorite Temple Of The Dog tune, a demo of Say Hello 2 Heaven. The sound is muddy but listenable, and Chris Cornell's uncanny, soul-stirring vocals shines through. Oddly it doesn't sound as dated as compared to the album version from '91. This is followed by another demo, an instrumental Times Of Trouble, which is perfect for singing to PJ's Footsteps too!

The next demo is kind of a revelation; Acoustic #1 is Stone trying out some ideas on the guitar, with Eddie mumbling some words, but it sounds gorgeous; two young creative minds at work. After this is yet another short demo of the band fooling around on an Alice In Chains song. Fast-forward seventeen years, where you hear Matt Cameron doing his own cut of a tune known as Need To Know, which would eventually turn into The Fixer in 2009. This early, raw version reveals Matt's unique odd time signature style of playing.

Be Like Wind is Mike McCready's little score that was included in the film, and then also a short showcase of Given To Fly, which still sounds cool even when done on the acoustic. The following two tracks are Nothing As It Seems, the first a home demo by Jeff Ament, which reminds me exactly of something Roger Waters would've done during The Wall sessions. Then it's a live version from Seattle '01, which has the usual scorching McCready solo. But other than that, the song has never gotten to me; I've tried very much to like it, but still can't feel it. Seems like a good waste of album space, if you ask me.

Indifference is another song I wasn't so crazy about previously, but this live take from Bologna '06 finally did it for me. The crowd sings along to every word, like it's the biggest Pearl Jam song ever. It's not! But that's the beauty of it, the enthusiastic response a song like Indifference gets from the audience. As Jeff said in the PJ20 book, that's success. Next, Of The Girl, in which I'm glad Cameron included in. Here it's presented without the vocals, in full stereophonic awesomeness.

There are a handful of PJ songs that mean the world to me, and Faithfull is one of them. Their best song about organized religion ever, and Eddie tackles the issue with utmost grace and wit. This performance was only a soundcheck (Pistoia '06), but he sings as if he were in front of thousands; just the sound of him pouring his guts over the chorus lines; pretty unreal. I've always liked how he drops the f-bomb over my favorite line: "whatever the notion we laced in our prayers/the man upstairs is used to all this ____ noise". Just by doing that, the song enters a whole new stratosphere as it takes off into distorted territory.

This particular performance of Bu$hleaguer (Nassau '03) wasn't exactly well-received by the fans. I've read reports of people from the show getting very pissed off by the sight of Eddie donning the Bush mask (also addressed in the film). The crowd noise was purposely turned up in this mix, but I would've liked to hear more of the 'boos' and 'fuck yous' than the cheers. The following live Better Man comes, not surprisingly, from last year's Madison Square Garden show. Everytime PJ (and Springsteen) play that venue, the crowd energy is always off the charts.

Rearviewmirror ends the disc, as it usually does for the band's main sets. If you chart its onstage evolution over the years, you'll know that it has gradually turned into a monster of a song. It's the jam, by golly. I also own the bootleg (Universal City, 10/1/09) in which RVM is taken from, and I'm pleased they've decided to get the sound mix right for this compilation. So with that, I conclude my 2-part review. And now, back to the PJ20 book.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PJ20 Soundtrack - Disc 1

I finally got my copy of the soundtrack in the mail, a day after I got the book, which I'll review much later once I'm done with it. The PJ20 tracklist was put together by director Cameron Crowe, and if I can recall, most of the songs appear in the film in some fashion. But it's still a compilation that will not appeal to the casual fan. For one thing, you got very few of the big hits here. Essentially it's a collection of songs in which most of them has some sort of significance to the band's history, as you'll read in Crowe's liner notes.

The first disc is mainly presented in chronological order, after Release from '06. Alive, decent sound quality, from the then Mookie Blaylock's second-ever show reveals a then-shy Eddie yet to break out of his shell. Obviously the song was still in its infancy onstage, and it wasn't the audience to 'own' just yet. The next two tracks, Garden and Why Go are taken from their short club tour in Europe in '92. I'm sure the performances were something, but I was too distracted by the very lousy sound quality. Then it's back to NYC for an MTV unplugged version of Black, which needs no further mentioning.

Next three,
Blood, Last Exit and Not For You come from the '95 Australasian tour and they blew me away the first time I heard them. Pure fiery passion coming from the band, and Eddie just knocks every line out of the park. Makes me wish I were born earlier so I could see 'em on that tour! Then it's Monkeywrench Radio for Do The Evolution (the whole broadcast is available online and it's mandatory listening). Now Thumbing My Way reveals the soft, gorgeous, more melodic side to PJ; this live rendition contains that 'thing' that was missing from the studio one, as does always in their live versions.

Then comes the big one; the debut of Crown Of Thorns on their tenth anniversary show, a tribute to Andy Wood. This was one of the very rare times that the original intro, Chloe Dancer was played (not sung though). What I like about this is you can hear Brendan O'Brien's organ loud and clear, which is what defines the song really. And paired together with Stone’s guitar, it makes for a unique, emotional experience. Of course you'll also want to listen to the Mother Love Bone version if you haven't yet.

After an impromptu Let Me Sleep comes Walk With Me (from last year’s Bridge School Benefit). The absolute highlight of this disc. The original Le Noise version was as intense as it could get. Acoustically, PJ takes it down a notch, but Eddie's vocals and Matt killing it on the drums make sure the song still has that potency. By now it's common knowledge that PJ does justice to every Neil Young song they cover. The disc ends with Just Breathe from their 2010 SNL performance. On to Disc 2 in a bit.

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