Tuesday, November 29, 2011


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.



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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.