Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Albums of 2012

1. Handwritten - The Gaslight Anthem

2. Psychedelic Pill - Neil Young with Crazy Horse

3. Tempest - Bob Dylan

4. Wrecking Ball - Bruce Springsteen

5. Voyageur - Kathleen Edwards

6. Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran - Jamey Johnson

7. Blunderbuss - Jack White

8. Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance - Patterson Hood

9. Banga - Patti Smith

10. Love This Giant - David Byrne & St. Vincent

11. Away From The World - Dave Matthews Band

12. "...Ya Know?" - Joey Ramone

13. Boys & Girls - Alabama Shakes

14. Old Ideas - Leonard Cohen

15. I Bet On Sky - Dinosaur Jr.

16. That's Why God Made The Radio - The Beach Boys

17. Born To Sing: No Plan B - Van Morrison

18. Silver Age - Bob Mould

19. Clear Heart Full Eyes - Craig Finn

20. Sugaring Season - Beth Orton

Other honorable mentions:
¡Tré! - Green Day
The Magic Door - Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Tomorrowland - Ryan Bingham
Big Station - Alejandro Escovedo

Saturday, December 29, 2012

When the change was made uptown, and the Big Man joined the band...

Halfway through this comes the single greatest and unsurpassed concert moment I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing. It's as if your whole life flashed right in front of your eyes for those two minutes. I hope the band continues to play Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out every night on next year's tour.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Charlie Is My Darling

What strikes me most about this previously never-before-seen road movie is how crazy the kids were in Dublin when the Stones came to town (Satisfaction had just hit No.1 on the charts in 1965). There's an insane stage-rush scene, where fans tried to make physical contact with the band and wreck total havoc, which still looks mindblowing even today. There are short but mesmerizing performances of The Last Time, Time Is On My Side, Chuck Berry's Around & Around, Satisfaction. Even as a relatively young (and innocent looking) band at that time, in particular Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman were quite articulate in their interviews to the camera, and didn't come off as a bunch of drugged-out punks only looking to get rich. The approach of the film follows Bob Dylan's Don't Look Back, also of the same era, cinema verite style. It's certainly not the best Stones film; Gimme Shelter and Cocksucker Blues were more affecting, but Charlie is another important treasure that simply needs to be seen to be believed, not only because there is so little existing live and backstage footage of them from the '60s, but it's essentially also a rare glimpse of an already great band on the road to further greatness. After this, the sex and the drugs and lots of other shit got in the way, though that didn't stop them from their rise to the top. Big thanks to Andrew Loog Oldham for finally releasing this. And what better timing than on their 50th Anniversary!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ten Club Single 2012

The annual Pearl Jam 10c 'Christmas' single came early this year! It's not only one of the best in recent years, but it also got fans all excited about what could come in the very near future. Two songs taken from the band's legendary 20th Anniversary shows last September at Alpine Valley -- All Night (feat. Glen Hansard, Liam Finn & Joseph Aurthur), which made frequent appearances during the 2008 tour, and the world premiere of In The Moonlight (feat. Josh Homme), one of the top tracks from Lost Dogs, music and lyrics courtesy of Matt Cameron. If this isn't a big hint to the inevitable official release of the two shows at East Troy, then I'll be damned. But what I'm really hoping for is a blu-ray from both nights. It's been a long time since we got a proper full concert on video (Madison Square Garden '03). I don't think it's too far-fetched of an idea; both shows were filmed anyway. Maybe since then, people have been working on editing the video for a forthcoming boxset release. Just mere personal speculation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

Here's a bittersweet gem from two years ago. This Christmas season wouldn't be complete without the mandatory viewings of It's A Wonderful Life and The Polar Express

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Unlike the first two (Uno and the better Dos), Tre, doesn't disappoint one bit. It's the best in the trilogy. It's consistent as anything the band's done since American Idiot. It's a thrilling ride from start to finish. My only dislike is the sound's still too clean. The opener, Brutal Love, lifts a page off Sam Cooke's Bring It On Home (complete with horns!), while the closing The Forgotten grandly pays homage to late period Beatles. And the other ten tracks showcase a much more focused band than before, finally getting back their groove. It feels like they've finally captured lightning in a bottle. The centerpiece, Dirty Rotten Bastards, is badass. Like I mentioned before, combining the best of all three records would've made one truly incredible album. I'm sure the band thought the same way early on too, but doing otherwise would've taken away the essence of what Green Day is about -- taking risks, being different. I mean, who would think of releasing three albums worth of new material in a span of just a few months? It ain't easy for even a big band like them to pull off, and for that they should be commended.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'da called you Woody, Joe

21 August, 1952 - 22 December, 2002

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Joe Strummer's death, who died too young at only fifty years old. I still think about (and listen to) him and The Clash on a regular basis. And don't forget his three albums with The Mescaleros were great stuff, especially the final one, Streetcore. Just imagine the amount of work he would have done if he were alive today. You're still sorely missed, Joe. Where would I be without you?


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

BTX Top 20

Back in September, someone from the Backstreets (BTX) community decided to put together a list of the top twenty Bruce Springsteen songs of all time, as voted by the members. This has not been done before. Over a thousand fans ranked their twenty most favorite songs, until the deadline last week. Thirty countries are represented, and as expected, I was the only one from Singapore who actually gave a damn and participated (members had to state where they were from or else they'd be disqualified). Here are the final results:

1. Thunder Road
2. Jungleland
3. Backstreets
4. Born To Run
5. Incident On 57th Street
6. Racing In The Street
7. Badlands
8. The River
9. The Promised Land
10. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
11. Darkness On The Edge Of Town
12. Land Of Hope And Dreams
13. Prove It All Night
14. Drive All Night
15. Lost In The Flood
16. New York City Serenade
17. Atlantic City
18. No Surrender
19. Long Walk Home
20. 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

I'm surprised there are no songs from the Tunnel Of Love, or even The Rising albums. I'm also surprised songs like Drive All Night, Lost In The Flood and New York City Serenade made the list. And it's good to know that most fans rank Long Walk Home as one of their favorites too.

And here's my own top twenty:
1. Thunder Road
2. Jungleland
3. Born To Run
4. Backstreets
5. Racing In The Street
6. 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
7. Darkness On The Edge Of Town
8. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
9. The Promised Land
10. Long Walk Home
11. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
12. Land Of Hope And Dreams
13. My City Of Ruins
14. Downbound Train
15. The Promise
16. One Step Up
17. Streets Of Fire
18. Atlantic City
19. The Price You Pay
20. Incident On 57th Street

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Inventing David Geffen

Watch Inventing David Geffen on PBS. See more from American Masters.

I knew David Geffen was a household name in the entertainment industry, but I didn't realize the tremendous impact he'd made on it, till I watched this fantastic PBS documentary about his life and career. It features substantial archival footage and interviews with the most important people in the business, and it's a must-watch for anyone interested in the workings of the music industry back in the old days, and lots more. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Rolling Stones, 50 and counting

The online pay-per-view cost only USD9.00, with good, non-laggy video quality to boot, and a better-than-decent sound mix that put Ronnie Wood on the left and Keith Richards on the right speakers. Tonight's Newark concert was PHENOMENAL, to say the least. It's the same 'ol Stones really....they still bring with them that unique rawness and looseness. Age did little to slow them down. Mick Jagger still sexy as ever, prancing around the stage like it was 1973, his voice in tip-top condition. The (primarily greatest hits) setlist is similar to their previous shows on this small tour, with a few 'curve-balls' thrown in. Dead Flowers, by request from the online community was very unexpected and very cool. I voted for this song too, and thought maybe the majority would've voted for something more well-known. The blues covers were great; John Mayer and the next big thing, Gary Clark Jr., proved they could stand shoulder to shoulder with Ron and Keef, especially Gary Clark Jr.; this young man's gonna go places soon.

And Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love couldn't have been a better tune for the Black Keys to guest on (wouldn't have known it if it weren't for The Last Waltz). The superb pair of new songs, Doom And Gloom and One More Shot sounded much better live than on record. Now, talking about Lady Gaga...I never cared for her and her music at all, but I was pretty much floored by her powerhouse vocals and weird dancing on Gimme Shelter. Actually the fact that she was dancing wildly while wearing a pair of high heels without missing a step impressed me more. Then you got Bruce Springsteen, sharing vocals with Mick on Tumbling Dice -- that's one of the last Stones songs I'd think he would sing on. But Bruce has a knack for singing in soul/R&B style, and weirdly his gritty voice complemented Mick's. Not perfect, but not too shabby either. What a sight it was to see a recharged Bruce and Mick playing off each other.

But I tell you what -- Mick Taylor guesting on Midnight Rambler is worth the price of admission alone. He has grown fatter while the band has grown thinner. But the way he played the Les Paul.....holy shit,'s as if he never left the band. He was really having fun onstage, and it's rare you see him move so much and getting a bit goofy up there. Mick Taylor absolutely KILLED on the guitar. And it was so nice to see him taking the final bow with the four Stones at the end. Bassist Daryl Jones doesn't get much appreciation when he should. Charlie Watts' drumming seems to get increasingly better. Can't say the same for Keef's and Ronnie's playing, but it's the rough edges that make the Stones still the greatest Rock & Roll band ever. Hits like Honky Tonk Women, Start Me Up, Brown Sugar and Jumpin' Jack Flash never sounded more fresh. This was a fun and high-energy gig, clocking in at 2.5 hours, long by the band's standards, and one which I didn't want to see end. Here's hoping for a full-on world tour next year.

1. Get Off Of My Cloud
2. The Last Time
3. It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It)
4. Paint It Black
5. Gimme Shelter - with Lady Gaga
6. Wild Horses
7. Goin' Down - with John Mayer and Gary Clark, Jr.
8. Dead Flowers
9. Who Do You Love? - with The Black Keys
10. Doom And Gloom
11. One More Shot
12. Miss You
13. Honky Tonk Women
14. Before They Make Me Run
15. Happy
16. Midnight Rambler - with Mick Taylor
17. Start Me Up
18. Tumbling Dice - with Bruce Springsteen
19. Brown Sugar
20. Sympathy For The Devil

21. You Can't Always Get What You Want
22. Jumpin' Jack Flash
23. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction


The only reason to get this biography is because it is semi-authorized, meaning the author, Peter Ames Carlin, got unprecedented access to Bruce's band mates (including Clarence Clemons, who was interviewed months before his death), family, close friends, ex-girlfriends (even his ex-wife, but not current wife), and music industry colleagues, and the man himself. But Bruce and manager, Jon Landau, had no control over what was published. This is a book that, unlike Dave Marsh's excellent but ultra-subjective books about Bruce, also reveals his imperfections -- there are stories by his band and crew talking about how difficult it is working with him at times, his run-ins with previous romantic partners, and his battle with depression. Then there are plenty of interesting footnotes, with some new revelations in them.

But for the hardcore fan, there generally isn't a whole lot we don't already know about Bruce's career. Carlin doesn't delve much into the Boss' artistic and creative process (more of that can be found in Marsh's Born To Run and Glory Days books). He just merely 'reports' it. In fact, this book reads like a long journalistic feature story, not that there's anything wrong with that. But sometimes it feels a little 'soulless', ya know? There are too many citations to past media interviews. On the other hand, I like that considerable attention is given to his relationships with his family (in particular with his estranged father), and the E Street Band; occasionally the bandmates had not-so-nice things to say about their leader.

Now the flaw lies in that Carlin devotes so many pages from Bruce's childhood up till the early 90s where he broke up the E Street Band, but he rushes through the last twenty years of his career. There is a bit of new information about how the Reunion tour came about, but I feel I could have more of it. And even less is written about his past ten years, which he had been on a constant creative roll. There is so much to write about from 1990 to this year that it could warrant a second book. So yeah, I thought it was gonna be the best book ever written about Bruce, but not quite there. It is thoroughly researched though, missed opportunities and questionable editorial decisions notwithstanding. At the end of the day, this is essential reading for anyone who cares about Bruce and his craft, as it serves yet as another reminder why he is one of the most extraordinary artists of all time, and why he's still as relevant as ever.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

American Skin

It's scary how this song still resonates today. Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families of Newport, CT.

West Coast Blues 'N' Roots Festival

The legendary headliners, Robert Plant and Paul Simon, are also going to headline Singapore's very own Timbre Rock & Roots Festival a few days before, with Rufus Wainwright, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Bonnie Raitt and Jimmy Cliff supporting [link]. Not bad at all. But in Fremantle, there's also Jason Mraz, Status Quo, Steve Miller Band, Chris Isaak, Ben Harper, Santana, and two bands I've been dying to see for a long time....Wilco and Iggy Pop & The Stooges.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - 2013 Australian Tour

The Aussie tour pre-sale on Wednesday was met with so much overwhelming demand that Frontier Touring announced extra second shows for each city, before the public sale. Even with eight shows, it wasn't exactly a breeze securing tickets this morning. Despite the sky high prices, all the good (and most expensive) tix sold out almost instantly. Melbourne got a third show and is currently selling very quickly. I was extremely lucky to get a decent A Reserve for Sydney 1, and GA for Sydney 2, minutes before the Ticketek system went bonkers. A 3rd and final Sydney show is looking like a possibility at this point. There will be lots of people from Perth, Adelaide and New Zealand traveling to the east coast for these shows. Well, this is what not touring down under for ten years will do to fans! I think by now the system should have eased up, but for those still having trouble getting tickets for Australia, here's a tip: try the mobile site. Or CLICK HERE to look for spares.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Concert for Sandy Relief

Tonight's one-off extravaganza at Madison Square Garden was similar in spirit to the historic Concert For New York City at the same venue, eleven years ago. There were stories of courage, loss, heartbreak, and hope from the hurricane victims and rescuers from the small towns and communities of New York and New Jersey, especially from the Jersey Shore. The performing artists were there to give and provide something these people can face their days with. Most of them were over the age of the fifty; it is truly something to watch one legend after another taking the stage, bringing along their A-game.

I never expected Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band to open the show. But it seems appropriate though; how strong that connection is between Bruce and NY/NJ. And since this is a worldwide broadcast/stream, chances are you get the biggest audience right at the start, and hopefully they got to get a taste of the greatest live band of all time. And with Land Of Hope And Dreams to start things off? Amazing. At the end of My City Of Ruins, Bruce even added a snippet of Jersey Girl in there.

There were a few surprises throughout the five-plus hours. Jon Bon Jovi trading lines with Bruce on Born To Run, and Bruce returning the favor during Bon Jovi's set. Eddie Vedder doing the chorus on Comfortably Numb with Roger Waters' Wall touring band -- now that was a huge surprise, and Eddie pulled it off perfectly. Waters also did Money, then going into Us And Them. Eric Clapton, no-frills as always, played a short but ass-kicking set, three songs you'd least expect him to do. Oh yeah, also not forgetting Adam Sandler who did a hilarious parody of Hallelujah, accompanied by Paul Shaffer on piano.

The Rolling Stones came halfway through the night, but they only played TWO songs! But man, wasn't it awesome seeing those old guys tear through Jumpin' Jack Flash? That was actually the most emotional moment for me personally. The Who played much longer, and they were bloody great. The big surprise was Bell Boy, which I believe was the only song where Keith Moon sang on. It was a nice tribute to him. I didn't catch all of Kanye West's set, but what I saw I thought was crap. Who invited him? Funny how the camera rarely cut to all those middle-aged white folks on the floor during this part of the broadcast. Jay-Z would've been a better choice.

Billy Joel's set is probably my favorite after Springsteen's; you can't mention Billy Joel without mentioning New York City. He has been out of the limelight for quite a while and even then, he played and sang as good as he had ever been. I LOVED Only The Good Die Young. Chris wonder what he's doing there. Good thing he didn't bring his band along. But he did have someone come out to sing with him, resulting in the BIGGEST surprise of the night. Michael Stipe. Losing My Religion. Enough said. After watching this, I'm beginning to like Chris Martin a bit more.

As the night's closer, Sir Paul McCartney didn't really go down the 'greatest hits' route. He had Diana Krall on one of his new songs. And then next he had Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear, which led to a Nirvana reunion of sorts. They premiered a brand new tune called Cut Me Some Slack, which will appear on Dave's upcoming Sound City documentary film [link]. It wasn't that big of a thing that people made it out to be, though it was cool to see Sir Paul rocking out with these grunge pioneers. Without any all-star jam, the finale was kinda anti-climatic, but keeping up with the spirit of things, I guess it was fitting to end with Alicia Keys singing Empire State Of Mind, with the firefighters, policemen and many helpers onstage.

The concert soundtrack is available for pre-order now and proceeds will go to those in need [link].

P.S. One of my favorite moments also was watching the cast of The Sopranos answering calls at the phone bank!

Monday, December 10, 2012

One More Shot

Damn, just when I thought this week couldn't get any better. The Stones will be playing their fifth and final show of their 50th Anniversary mini-tour this Saturday night in Newark, NJ. It's gonna be broadcast and streamed live worldwide through pay-per-view [link]. And today they just announced that Bruce Springsteen will be one of the special guests, together with The Black Keys (they're good, but I was never able to get into them), and Lady Gaga (fucking seriously?! She's terrible). Definitely gonna watch this as there are also strong rumors that ex-members, Bill Wyman and guitar god, Mick Taylor, will show up. The concert is scheduled to begin at 10am Sunday, Singapore time.

UPDATE: It's officially confirmed that Mick Taylor will be playing with the Stones on Dec 15!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


It took such a terrible disaster for this to happen. The media has moved on to other things, but the devastation is still there. A huge benefit concert for the victims of Hurricane Sandy at Madison Square Garden, with perhaps the most star-studded line-up in rock & roll history since the original Live Aid. You got Dave Grohl, Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Billy Joel, Eddie Vedder, The Who, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, and just added, The Rolling Stones. Doesn't get another better than this. The show will be broadcast and streamed live worldwide this Thursday, 8:30am Singapore time.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - 2013 Australian Tour

Seriously, I've been waiting for this moment for the past ten years. You never ever get sick of seeing the band over and over again. Thumbs up for arena venues! Notice the big gaps between the initial dates. Expect more shows to be added once tickets sell out quickly. On the downside, it is insanely expensive for a Springsteen gig, almost three times higher than Europe and US for a single GA ticket.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Live At Roundhay Park, Leeds 1982

The supposedly (sixth and) final release of the year-long live official bootleg series may be seen as a missed opportunity to many hardcore Stones fans. I mean, c'mon, why should there be another show from the same tour? I wished they'd released something with Mick Taylor in it. Leeds has almost the exact same setlist as Hampton '81, which came out early this year. Missing is Waiting On A Friend and Let It Bleed, and there's Angie on this one. But it's still worth getting I think, because besides it being the last show of the tour, it was also Ian Stewart's last show before he passed. His piano was a pivotal part of the band's sound. Without him, there would be no Rolling Stones. 
  1. Under My Thumb
  2. When The Whip Comes Down
  3. Let's Spend The Night Together
  4. Shattered
  5. Neighbors
  6. Black Limousine
  7. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
  8. Twenty Flight Rock
  9. Going To A Go Go
  10. Let Me Go
  11. Time Is On My Side
  12. Beast Of Burden
  13. You Can't Always Get What You Want
  14. Band Introductions
  15. Little T&A
  16. Angie
  17. Tumbling Dice
  18. She's So Cold
  19. Hang Fire
  20. Miss You
  21. Honky Tonk Women
  22. Brown Sugar
  23. Start Me Up
  24. Jumpin' Jack Flash
  25. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction


Here's how I rank all the six shows:
1. The Brussels Affair (1973)
2.  L.A. Friday (1975)
3. Hampton Coliseum (1981)
4. Tokyo Dome (1990)
5. Roundhay Park (1982)
6. Light The Fuse - Toronto (2005)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Celebration Day

There have been so many band reunions over the years, but obviously none as big and significant as this one, even if it was just a one-off thing. The sheer monstrosity of this event can't be understated. Year 2007 -- 20 million people around the world trying their luck to get into the 18,000-capacity O2 Arena in London. It was Led Zeppelin's first proper full-length gig since 1979. The pressure on the band to deliver was immense, and man, did they deliver -- if this document is how the band would want fans to remember them, then they have succeeded in maintaining their legacy, leaving with their head held high, no regrets.

When the lights in the arena go out, an old 70s newsreel plays on the big screen behind the stage, in a way introducing the band members. And what better way to kick things off than for Led Zeppelin to do their first song off their first album. The signature opening to Good Times Bad Times was earth shattering. The heavens split, and history was made at that point. The band was on fire, at the top of their game. There were smiles all around, so many interaction and facial exchanges between the band members. You can tell they were genuinely happy to be there. It makes us feel extremely good too. Black Dog is one of those songs that show the ingeniousness of the band's craft and creativeness in taking the blues somewhere new. Here it was played noticeably at least one key lower, so that Robert Plant could sing. He can't hit the high notes anymore, so there are quite a few songs that evening that were played in that respect. But his voice aged like fine wine. Jimmy Page's still a undeniably great guitarist. His playing on Black Dog isn't perfect, but the soul isn't lost. The magic is still there.

Only 16 songs were played, and every performance could be considered a highlight, with even a few considered definitive. In My Time Of Dying was when things started kicking into extreme high gear. The band was locked in, tight as shit. It was a joy to watch, especially Page. I got so sucked in by the music that I didn't mind those quick cuts and frequent 8mm camera shots in the video editing. For Your Life can be considered definitive, because it was the first time they played it live! It's astounding how such a great song wasn't performed back in their heyday. The next half hour is my favorite portion of the show. From Trampled Under Foot to an AMAZING Nobody's Fault But Mine (with Plant playing a mean harp solo), and then to an extended No Quarter, followed by Since I've Been Loving You. WOW. Too good for any words to describe. Just go watch it. John Paul Jones is bloody great, the most consistent player of the night in fact.

Dazed And Confused, another gem any Led Zep show wouldn't be complete without. As expected, the bow got the biggest cheers. Unfortunately, Stairway To Heaven, perhaps the most recognizable tune to even the non-fan, wasn't what I was expecting. Far from the best version I've heard, it looked and sounded to me like the band was a bit hesitant on playing it. May I say it was somewhat uninspiring. Maybe it could be because it was tuned down lower. But for many in attendance, that song was probably the sole purpose what got them there that night. The Song Remains The Same, the original studio version a marvelous showcase of guitar wizardry sounds very different here. It's more stripped bare, but again, Page makes do with what he has and goes for the killing. Misty Mountain Hop is a kinda weird tune by Led Zep standards, one which I've grown to love after hearing it in Almost Famous. It far surpasses the album take here.

Kashmir ends the main set. Wise choice indeed. Plant's shriek during the breakdown sends chills down my spine. I think it's still their greatest song ever, and the minute-long crescendo at the finale is one of the best moments from the film. The band didn't relegate to playing a greatest hits-type setlist. In fact if you wanna be technical, more than half the songs performed weren't originally released as singles. One more thing I gotta mention is regarding Jason Bonham. The spirit of his father was beside him all through the two hours. Plenty of face-time was given to him. Those drum solos, particularly finishing off Black Dog, Whole Lotta Love and Rock And Roll...WOW. I love the final part where the three guys gather close in front of Bonham's kit as he goes crazy with the solo. Goes to show you don't need a fanciful kit to display some insane drumming. He's actually the main reason why I can re-watch this countless times.

Sound mix is excellent for the most part, definitely better heard on the blu-ray than on the cd. Audience noise is leveled just right. The bonus dvd includes footage of the band going through a full dress rehearsal (from start to finish) at Shepperton Studios. It's just that the single camera is placed at the soundboard, some distance away from the action. The plus side is you get to see the whole giant projection screen. And the sound quality (a rare uncompressed LPCM 2.0) is pretty magnificent. So it's worth watching again and again. I'll even go so far as to say several of the songs performed during the rehearsal were better than the actual concert.

As far as concert films go, Celebration Day is right up there with The Last Waltz -- it transcends rock & roll music. And remember the message at the start of The Last Waltz? "This film should be played LOUD."


Friday, November 23, 2012


It's better than Uno. But for all its stripped-down, '60s inspired garage rock styling, it's a decent-at-best album. Nothing to shout about. I'm just a casual fan, but I long for the days of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown (and I hope that the final, upcoming Tre, will be able to deliver some of those anthemic vibes). I must say that the song, Nightlife, is probably the worst Green Day song ever. It's so fucking plain awful it would've fit nicely on a Black Eyed Peas or Maroon 5 album. Combining the best of Uno and Dos would surely make one hell of a record. Anyway, I hope Billie Joe Armstrong gets out of rehab soon.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Light The Fuse

I remember around this time last November, we got the debut of the official bootleg series, The Brussels Affair, still the best of the lot. Man, has it been a year already? This fifth show is taken from the Stones' most recent tour, or rather, before it officially began (though personally I would've preferred something from the very early Brian Jones-era). The songs sound very different from when the band performs them in a big arena or stadium. Different arrangements, different vibes, different chemistry. It's cool to hear this stuff in a tiny club setting. Besides, the rawness and looseness are more apparent here. 19th Nervous Breakdown is slowed down a lot; not sure if I like this version. Dead Flowers sounds great. The Otis Redding and Bob Marley covers kick ass too.
  1. Rough Justice
  2. Live With Me
  3. 19th Nervous Breakdown
  4. She's So Cold
  5. Dead Flowers
  6. Back Of My Hand
  7. Ain't Too Proud to Beg
  8. Band Introductions
  9. Infamy
  10. Oh No, Not You Again
  11. Get Up, Stand Up
  12. Mr. Pitiful
  13. Tumbling Dice
  14. Brown Sugar
  15. Jumping Jack Flash

Monday, November 12, 2012


Long may you run, Uncle Neil.

P.S. Pre-sales for the Neil Young & Crazy Horse March 2013 tour down under start this Wednesday, public sales next Monday [link].

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Springsteen & I

is a call out to YOU, the fans, to make a film about Bruce and what he means to you. We want your most personal insights, abstractions and reflections on how Bruce Springsteen and his music has affected your life. Springsteen & I is an open invitation to people all over the world to share stories that celebrate one of the greatest storytellers of our generation. 

Now, this is interesting. Not sure how this will turn out next year, but it's a dream come true, being able to do something creative about my favorite subject. What better way than to express it in film? Just started on the new Bruce biography, so maybe that will help inspire a little. 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - 2013 Australia/New Zealand Tour

It has just been made official! I happened to be listening to Driftin' Back when I first read about this. Sorry Patti Smith, looks like I won't be going to Japan next year.

Mar 2, 2013 - Perth Arena, Perth
Mar 5, 2013 - Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
Mar 7, 2013 - Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Mar 9, 2013 - A Day On The Green - Bimbadgen Winery, Hunter Valley
Mar 10, 2013 - Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney
Mar 15, 2013 - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Mar 16, 2013 - A Day On The Green - The Hill Winery, Geelong
Mar 19, 2013 - TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
Mar 21, 2013 - Vector Arena, Auckland


Meanwhile, we're still waiting for the Springsteen dates down under, which according to rumors, is supposed to occur around the same time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This train carries saints and sinners...

Earlier this year, Bruce said that he would not be campaigning for President Obama this coming election. He changed his mind few weeks ago when the E Street Band got back on the road. As of now, he has already performed at seven rallies for Obama, three of which took place just yesterday, on the eve of Election Day (and one of which also had Jay-Z performing, but not with Bruce). Apart from his usual No Surrender, The Promised Land, Thunder Road, and a new acoustic We Take Care Of Our Own, Bruce also brought back the stripped-down Land Of Hope And Dreams, which is just as emotional as the full-band versions (the E Street Band played it last week at the Hurricane Sandy benefit concert). The feeling I get from watching this is the exact same one as when I saw Bruce sing The Rising backed by a huge gospel choir at Obama's inauguration concert four years ago. Moved beyond words. Anyway, I've been following closely the elections these past few months, and based on what I've seen and read, I strongly believe that President Obama deserves to serve his country for another four more years. I hope to raise a toast to his victory tonight.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Psychedelic Pill

1. Driftin' Back
The longest song in Neil's repertoire, at a whopping 27 minutes. I turned up the volume before diving in, bracing myself for 'impact'. But there wasn't no sound of thunder. Instead it was the gentle strumming on the acoustic guitar. Before you know it, Crazy Horse gallops in, in all its ragged glory. It's a rough, bumpy ride; at times you can hear either drummer Ralph Molina or bassist Billy Talbot trying to keep up with the music. But that's the Horse will all know and love. Half the time Neil laments on how today's corporations and technology are destroying art, and longs for the old golden days when it wasn't about just the money. "When you hear my song now, you only hear 5% / You used to get it all." This could only mean one thing. Support and buy Pono when it comes out next year! The plain two-chord progression has a very calming effect though, and it gives me visions of euphoria. 

2. Psychedelic Pill
The extreme phasing stereo effects induce sonic psychedelia. Sign Of Love (2010) guitar riff paired with Fuckin' Up drum licks. It's actually pretty stunning. Good 'ol classic Horse in under four minutes. The bonus alternative mix has minus the studio trickery; it's definitely more listenable, but the essence of what the song is about is lost.

3. Ramada Inn
The next longest song on the album happens to be one of the Horse's absolute best tunes ever recorded. The more I listen to it, the shorter it feels. I wouldn't mind if the jam went on another ten more minutes. And just like Driftin' Back, it has all the elements of what makes Neil such a great improvisational and melodic guitar player; he plays really mean, focused solos here. Poncho, as usual, does what he does best. He's an average guitar player, but he somehow manages to support Neil in a mystical way in which only he can do. This is a perfectly crafted Crazy Horse song, in the beautiful spirit of Cortez The Killer.

4. Born In Ontario
I like when Neil sings about growing up, but unfortunately this one doesn't click with me. I'm not feeling the melody at all. The only thing I dig is the organ. 

5. Twisted Road
Another autobiographical tune. But compared to the previous one, this is so much better. A homage to Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Grateful Dead, done garage style. For the first time, Neil is penning all these songs without the influence of weed or alcohol (as mentioned in his book) -- he's doing a good job so far. And is it just me or does this have a bit of a Friend Of The Devil vibe?

6. She's Always Dancing
Same vein as Like A Hurricane, though not as epic. The awesome run of solos continues. It's still terrific despite the too-simplistic lyrics. I love it.

7. For Love Of Man
The most un-Crazy Horse song, originally written in the '80s. Slow, brooding and moving. It's obvious he's singing about his disabled son, Ben Young, also his spiritual guide, a term he occasionally uses in his book. Reminds me much of Western Hero, from Sleeps With Angels (1994), criminally underrated by the way.

8. Walk Like A Giant
Neil brings home the theme from Driftin' Back in the closing number, and has the band firing on all cylinders once again. Neil likes looking back a lot on this record, doesn't he? As a young man living through the '60s and '70s, he and his friends thought they could change and save the world. They felt invincible. But shit happened ("the weather changed and the white got stained"). The music ends on a devastating note, a continuous, near-painful bombardment of noise and feedback, resulting in nothing but broken dreams and promises.

Overall, Psychedelic Pill is close to flawless, no matter how flawed musically the Horse may be, or even despite the many similar riffs rehashed from past work. Neil's voice is still in top shape. By now, we should already know what to expect from the Horse....the long jams, the feedback, the occasional off-timings and off-keys, the unrelenting power, and the undying SOUL. Yet they never fail to surprise us. Neil has finally let them out of the barn; I mean you can REALLY smell them this time, unlike in Americana, released back in June. Kick-ass album title to boot -- it simply screams out: listen to me! It's their best since Ragged Glory. Crank the hell out of it.


Sunday, October 28, 2012


Journeys marks the third full-length collaboration between Neil and filmmaker extraordinaire, Jonathan Demme. For the purpose of this movie, last year Neil drove down memory lane, around his hometown of Omemee, Ontario, following his brother, Bob, reminiscing about his early years growing up, and then from there he drove to the iconic Massey Hall in Toronto, where he played two of the final shows of his critically acclaimed solo tour. The bulk of the setlist comes from 2010's Le Noise, and they're top-notch. With all these performances bring a new level of loud rarely heard or experienced before in a concert film. In fact, this thing sounds much better than it looks. The acoustic songs are 'loud' too, not only volume wise but also on an emotional level; Peaceful Valley Boulevard and Love & War are so striking they give me this chilling feeling of some sort of quiet apocalypse.

The electric guitar is equally as powerful as a backing band. The first song you hear it is on Ohio and it will blow you away! The special tribute segment to the four fallen Kent State students makes this version more poignant than it has ever been. On several songs, Demme uses some funky camera angles/techniques that surprisingly don't draw too much attention to themselves. It's like they become part of the songs' narratives. You want extreme close-ups? You got it -- On Hitchhiker and Down By The River, we see Neil from the micro-camera placed just below the mic. It's so close you can actually see his teeth. It makes you pay more attention to the lyrics. At one point, his spit lands right smack on the lens, providing some funky light effect when it's mixed with the colorful backdrop behind the stage.

The two previously unreleased songs make their official debut here; Leia, which I think is just average, and the even better, very sombre You Never Called, a tribute to the late Larry Johnson, whom Neil talks a great deal about in his book. There's not much old stuff. After The Gold Rush is done on the pump organ, and it sounds better than I'd expect; when those bass notes come in at the end of each verse, get ready for huge goosebumps. I Believe In You, another early classic, is performed on the piano. Personally, I would've loved to see Cortez The Killer included in here; it can only be heard faintly in the background during the hometown scenes. The closing Walk With Me, is sorta Arc-lite, drenched in hair-raising feedback at the finale. Journeys is a solid film that will probably only warrant repeated viewings for the hardcore fans. I wouldn't consider this entry-level Neil Young.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Life After Death

Damien Echols used to be one of the unluckiest men on earth. Yet at the same time, he also happened to be one of the luckiest and most blessed men on earth. The story of the West Memphis Three has longed seeped into the American consciousness, mainly thanks to the Paradise Lost documentaries. This brilliant book tells us what it was like to live behind bars for almost two decades. It serves as a reminder to us not to take things for granted. Damien proves to be an exceptional writer. He was penning many of these chapters from his cell. There are humorous moments, and there are moments that cause you to show absolute contempt for his accusers and the country's justice system. Lots of hard feelings in here. He frequently goes back to his childhood and teenage years, where he spent living in poverty among a dysfunctional family. It is fascinating as it is painful and saddening to read about the things that went down on Death Row. But he never writes in a way that makes the reader feel nothing but pity for him. To think that he manged to stay sane all this time in the worst place imaginable blows my mind everytime. He was able to find a sort of peace while doing time for a murder he didn't commit, while awaiting his execution. For example, he turned to books. He turned to Zen and meditation, but even then, it takes an incredible amount of discipline not to break. The turning point came when he met his future wife. I have tremendous respect for this man. Those narcissists and those idiots who constantly use social media to bitch and moan about how 'screwed up' or mundane their daily lives are seriously need to read this. 


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Light In Darkness

There are so many books out there about the Boss. Among them are several written by 'non-professional' writers. There is this one about the Darkness On The Edge Of Town era, aptly titled The Light In Darkness, that has been out for more than two years now, though it took me this long before I finally purchased it. It is truly one of a kind. It is a labor of love, made by a true fan, for the true fan. It doubles as excellent companion pieces to the famed 2010 Darkness boxset and more recently the photobook, Streets Of Fire, but it won't be complete without a few bootlegs (Passaic, Cleveland, Winterland, Palladium). The book contains loads of stories about how non-fans turned into fans, how casual fans turned into fanatics and die-hards, with particular focus of course, on how the Darkness album and the supporting live shows (not necessarily from '78) have forever changed their lives.

The lucky ones who were able to catch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in their 'prime' (despite the fact their best days aren't even over yet!) rave about how important and life-affirming the '78 shows were. I enjoy reading those little anecdotes about fans driving many miles across states to multiple gigs, blasting up the stereo as they went. Also entertaining are those stories about trying to score tickets for the gigs; life was so different back then. One particular favorite of mine is a perspective piece written by the screenwriter of A History Of Violence, one of my all-time favorite modern American films. He draws similar parallels between his story and his characters to the songs from the album, and it all makes perfect sense. Finally, plastered all throughout the book are the plenty of good looking high-quality photographs of Bruce and the band in action onstage, most of them which can't be found on the internet or any other print publication. It may not be perfectly edited, but this is mandatory reading for anyone who cares about the music. We're living those Badlands all the time.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pearl Jam 2012 Posters

A big shout-out and thank you to the Ten Club Forums for all these scans. I'm proud to be a 10c member.