Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shakey Pictures presents...

Directed by Bernard Shakey, this 40-minute silent film reveals the 'making' of Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, done of course, with a quirky sense of humor. Those still underwhelmed by the album may appreciate it after watching this. [link]


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spirit In The Night

Spirit has been showing up frequently in the past few shows on the European tour. This one's from the Pinkpop Festival last night. There's a new 'preacher' intro which makes full use of the E Street horns, and they're smoking it. Bruce has the crowd by the palm of his hand, and no performer can connect with them the way he does. Can't wait to hear this one live!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Late Night Listening, vol. 1

Something I've put together, in no particular order:

April The 14th (Part 1) - Gillian Welch
Sugar - The Horrible Crowes
Midnight In Harlem - Tedeschi Trucks Band
Re: Stacks - Bon Iver
Sweeter Memories - Todd Rundgren
The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) - Tom Waits
Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight (acoustic) - Whiskeytown
Hotel Chelsea Nights - Ryan Adams
I Wish I Was The Moon - Neko Case
One Sunday Morning - Wilco
Company - Rickie Lee Jones
Anthem - Leonard Cohen
Departure Bay - Diana Krall
On Top Of Old Smokey - Hank Williams
You Send Me - Sam Cooke
Drown In My Own Tears - Ray Charles
Natural Beauty (live) - Neil Young
Sky Blue And Black - Jackson Browne
Goddamn Lonely Love - Drive-By Truckers
Dear Avery - The Decemberists 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

God Save The Queen

The fourth online premiere from Americana. Let's hear it for the world's greatest garage band. In case you're wondering, it's the British national anthem, not the Sex Pistols tune.....obviously.


UPDATE: Rolling Stone has exclusive rights to stream the entire album for free [link].

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Levon Helm

He would've turned 72 today. I've compiled a playlist of some of my favorite Levon songs, during his time with The Band (original lineup) -- those not found on the Greatest Hits compilation. Also, LISTEN to The Basement Tapes over the weekend.

Don't Do It

Jemima Surrender

Get Up Jake

The River Hymn

Ain't No More Cane
The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show

Ain't That A Lot Of Love

Mystery Train

Ring Your Bell

Promised Land

I'm Ready

Daniel And The Scared Harp

Going Back To Memphis

Forbidden Fruit

Don't Ya Tell Henry

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cabin In The Air

A beautiful piece of music, as heard in the Cameron Crowe classic. Composed by Nancy Wilson (singer of Heart), it conveys that all-too-familiar feeling of wanting something or someone you can't have. It's bittersweet and it hurts so good. I also admire her scoring work on Vanilla Sky and Elizabethtown, because they evoke a kind of spirit of Americana one rarely expects to hear in film today.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Roger Waters on 60 Minutes

Waters is currently in the States on his final leg of the history-making Wall world tour. Here is my little review from my experience four months ago [link].

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Neil Young & Crazy Horse just released the third song and accompanying video from the highly anticipated Americana, out June 5th. This is the alternate version of the official video.......the rejected one. It's borderline sadistic. Enjoy!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prove It All Night

Barcelona usually gets the best setlists (and crowds of course) on any given tour, and last night was no different. With 29 songs, it was thus far the longest show of the Wrecking Ball tour. Not only it had two tour premieres (You Can Look and Hungry Heart), it also got Born In The USA, The River, Murder Incorporated, Talk To Me, and the return of Thunder Road into the set. But the highlight was Prove It All Night......yes, complete with the intro from 1978. It is a shocker indeed, a very pleasant one, even for the majority of fans not at the show. This is the live holy grail for most of us, the introduction to the song Bruce and the band played on the '78 Darkness tour. It was last seen and heard in LA on the '80 River tour. Greasy Lake offers an explanation as to why the '78 versions were so revered [link]. I'm sure the band will continue playing Prove It All Night occasionally for the rest of the tour, but I'm praying the intro segment won't be just a one-off thing. Bring on Sunderland & Manchester!

Listen here

Friday, May 18, 2012

Living In The Material World

I can't think of any director other than Martin Scorsese who can do justice to George Harrison's personal and professional life on the big screen. It's just magical. He's done it before with Bob Dylan's early career in 2005's No Direction Home. This almost 3.5 hour film is divided into two parts; the first focusing on The Beatles and the second on George's solo career. The tale of his life is presented in fairly standard chronological order. As a student of this medium, I must say it is a very well-edited film even in its most traditional form of documentary. Scorsese and his team had overwhelming amounts of material (compiled over several years) to work with, and it wasn't just a matter of piecing stuff together, and leaving out what's not important to the narrative.....and a lot of things were left out. It was more of how do you tell a story that most of us already know and makes us leave the picture with a renewed frame of mind and essentially, a whole new attitude on life and how to live it. Ultimately that's how movies are supposed to make us feel.

The story of the Beatles is told mainly from George's perspective, through recent interviews with his bandmates, colleagues and close friends, in the process letting us in some lesser-known, revealing details about the man. It's engrossing, as there are lots of footage and pictures the public has not seen before. And it sets up nicely the meat of the film which is the second half. A lot of time is spent discussing George's spirituality, religious and world beliefs, which influenced everything he did (hence the apt movie title), and it takes its time; still shots linger for long periods; it makes the viewer think deep thoughts. It's the theme of imperfect divinity that permeates all through the film. The story gets more and more emotional as it progresses. There is a key scene in which George's wife, Olivia, talks about how he felt about John Lennon's death and how he himself spent most of his spiritual life coming to terms with his own mortality, something which will always stick with me. It's heartwarming to hear his family and friends describe him as a human being. We're all sad he's not with us anymore. As cliche as it may sound, I honestly think the world would've been a better place if he were still around today.


Beware of sadness
It can hit you, it can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more,
That is not what you are here for

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary World Tour

They will be performing here in Singapore for the first time on August 22nd. CLICK HERE for tickets.


I love love love the album cover. It's simple and classy. If I'm not wrong, it looks like one of those record covers that came out of the 50s and 60s where you had the band members' names on it. It makes a strong statement of where the band is at this crossroads of their career. Handwritten will be Gaslight's debut on a major label. This will be their breakthrough album. Before long they'll move from playing Webster Hall to Madison Square Garden. They deserve all the attention they can get, cause they're one of the best bands of any genre out there right now. In the immortal words of Bruce, "it was bye bye New Jersey, I was airborne..."

P.S. Here's a recent, excellent interview with Brian [link]. This fella just gained another huge ounce of respect from me. And here's the full webcast stream of the band's performance in Brooklyn the other night [link].

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Early Takes Volume 1

This compilation acts like a soundtrack and companion piece to the critically acclaimed documentary film about George, Living In The Material World. Most of the ten songs are from his classic debut. Early takes and demos are what they are, minus the bells and whistles of the Phil Spector production; there are no horns on songs like Awaiting On You All and All Things Must Pass. My Sweet Lord is played with a slower drum beat, no slide guitar. Run Of The Mill is probably my favorite solo song of his, and this demo is short of two minutes, but it sounds magnificent; it's just one display of George's knack for creating unique but emotionally grabbing melodies. Above all, his voice sounded remarkable. The cover of Dylan's Mama You've Been On My Mind is the highlight of this very short collection, which leaves me wanting more. But this being only the first volume, I'm sure we'll get to hear much more exciting unreleased stuff in the future.

P.S. Producer, Giles Martin, provides a track-by-track breakdown [link].


Monday, May 14, 2012

soundcheck in Seville

Tonight the Wrecking Ball tour kicks off its European leg in Spain! Yesterday, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band gave a soundcheck and short rehearsal for press and journalists. Here's what they ran through:

We Take Care Of Our Own
Death To My Hometown
Rocky Ground
Thunder Road
Waitin' On A Sunny Day
I’m Goin’ Down
The Promise
Shackled And Drawn
Apollo Medley
We Are Alive

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Jesus' Chariot

The second song premiere off the upcoming Americana, by Neil Young & Crazy Horse. The other more commonly known title is She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain. Film buffs will recognize this footage from the 1915 racist classic by D.W. Griffith, Birth Of A Nation. Note that the blu-ray version of the album is also being released.


Friday, May 11, 2012


That's the title of the new biography coming out this November, written by a credible music critic. There are tons of Springsteen books out there, with only a handful worth reading i.e. (insider) Dave Marsh's Born To Run, Glory Days, and his most recent On Tour, though these may be a bit one-sided. Also Clarence's honest Big Man, telling Bruce's story from a friend's and bandmate's perspective. Then there's one called Racing In The Street, a collection of some of the more well-written and insightful articles and interviews since the '70s, with a foreword by Martin Scorsese. I even have one called The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen, in which the author dissects and interprets the albums and songs from a Christian and religious standpoint -- it's interesting alright, but sometimes a bit of a stretch. I have not yet read the one by Bruce's former manager, Mike Appel.

Going back to this upcoming book, this may just be the most definitive biography yet, based on the official synopsis:

In a groundbreaking biography that draws on unprecedented access to Springsteen and those closest to him, acclaimed music critic Peter Ames Carlin presents the most revealing account yet of New Jersey’s favorite son. With contributions from band members past and present, including the last interview given by legendary saxophonist Clarence Clemons, Bruce encompasses the breadth of Springsteen’s astonishing career and explores the inner workings of an American icon right up through his most recent sold-out tour and #1 album, Wrecking Ball.
- copyright (c), Simon & Schuster

Apparently the author also gained access to the Thrill Hill vaults, and got stuff very few outside the band has heard or seen. This should be a very good read [link]. Also, look out for two anticipated autobiographies released later this year -- Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young and Who I Am by Pete Townshend. Other music autobiographies currently out are those by Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, Johnny Ramone and Carole King. 


Thursday, May 10, 2012



Wednesday, May 9, 2012


The past few weeks have been a roller-coaster of emotions, with the deaths of Levon Helm and Adam Yauch. Every time one of our musical heroes die, we take time to mourn their passing. It's just so surreal; we don't know them personally, but when they're gone we feel that a vital part of us disappears too. And that's how I felt when Clarence died last year. Death is inevitable, but we move on. We preserve their legacies by continuing to listen, and pass their music on to future generations. At the end of the day it is our responsibility to pick up the flags of the fallen and carry forth their work.

On another note: this morning came with a rather unusual piece of news....Tom Gabel, the lead singer of the Florida punk band, Against Me! has come out as transgender [link]. Now other than owning only two of their records, I don't know much about the band like I do with The Gaslight Anthem. But to my ears they are a superb-sounding band and they play fucking powerful and meaningful music, plain and simple. So I guess what he sang on The Ocean (from 2007's New Wave) must have been about his life and what he was and is still going through.

Already the community has been flooded with comments in regards to this, many of which supportive and respectful, and there are others insulting and rude. Initially I didn't know what to make of it, but of course I'm not condemning or anything; I got no right to do so. Brian Fallon's little heartfelt blog post [link] put things into perspective. It's true that the majority of us will never understand the feeling of living in the wrong skin. It's really unlike coming out of the closet gay or lesbian, which is not that simple either. But this is an entirely different thing. I am inspired by Tom's courage. Here's wishing him all the best in his transition into Laura. I'll continue listening and buying the albums.

copyright (c) 2008, Ryan Russell

Monday, May 7, 2012

Something Big

One of the deep cuts off Hard Promises the band has started breaking out this tour. My Royal Albert Hall tickets has finally arrived. I figured the London shows are gonna be extra special, a sort of homecoming for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

R.I.P. Adam Yauch, 1964 - 2012

copyright (c), Danny Clinch

Another one of the important pioneers gone too soon. The Beastie Boys are the only rap group/artist I care about.  Their contributions to hip-hop music and popular culture are immense. They were just as concerned about doing good in this world as they were having fun making rhymes and innovative beats. And of course their music videos were groundbreaking too, many of which were directed by Yauch himself. His most epic was his final one last year, Fight For Your Right Revisited [link]. MCA has always been my favorite rapper of the trio, I always get a kick outta his husky voice. He'll be missed terribly. I'll spin Paul's Boutique and To The Five Boroughs tonight in honor of him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and bandmates.

Friday, May 4, 2012


It was only a matter of time (after dissolving The White Stripes) before Jack White would come out with a solo album. I went into Blunderbuss not expecting it to sound anything remotely like the Stripes, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. The only song that could fit nicely on say, Get Behind Me Satan, is Sixteen Saltines; Jack has the talent for blasting out simple, hair-raising riffs. This album is filled with many brilliant eclectic touches, and the tunes are short and attention-grabbing enough to demand repeated listening. As much as there's guitar distortion, this is also a piano-driven album, with some nice honky tonk. Freedom At 21 is one of my favorites; tasty in a weird kinda way, as Jack brings out his falsetto while singing rap-style. And given that this was recorded in Nashville with session musicians, there are lotta country, folk & bluegrass flavors to the songs too (pedal steel, mandolin, fiddle) to which Jack is no stranger to. He may not have the most attractive of voices, but I think his singing style is suited for the genre. His abilities as a songwriter should also be recognized; this is his best effort, for the first time I actually can relate to his lyrics, especially Love Interruption. The more I listen to the record, the more I realize how the underlying groove is strikingly similar to that of U2's Achtung Baby, where the drums and bass are really locked in, and that's a good thing. And for a modern rock album, it is mastered really well; overall dynamic range is just right. Finally, the genius eclecticism of Jack White can be found in the closing Take Me With You When You Go, which I actually thought initially was gonna be a Jayhawks cover. Just listen to it and be wowed. After watching the Webster Hall webcast live last week, I really need to see this man live. Heads up for those in the UK -- he's playing London on the 21st and 22nd of next month, which unfortunately clashes with my two Springsteen gigs.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Weight

Bruce played an off-the-cuff, but beautiful version of The Weight in honor of the late, great Levon Helm. You could tell it was totally unrehearsed, but the band already knew what was expected of them and when to come in. Either way, any musician worth their salt should already know The Weight by heart. It's just one of those songs. Thanks to the fan who requested it. We all needed this. I think I can get closure now.

So tonight's Newark show (a first for the E Street Band) concludes the first leg of the Wrecking Ball tour. The European leg commences in less than two weeks, running all the way till end July, before they head back to the States for the fall leg in mid August. So far more than 70 different songs have been played on this leg, which is an outstanding number; most bands don't even reach 50 on one given tour. We can expect many many more tour debuts and possibly a couple of world premieres in Europe. I'll be watching the setlists very closely. I hope Patti Scialfa joins the band this time (we didn't get to see her during the summer of '09) and I hope Bruce continues to crowd surf and chug beer from random strangers. I can't wait to hear Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, I can't wait to ball my eyes out during that song. Same goes for Thunder Road. It's gonna be fucking wild, man.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Oh Susannah

The Horse is back in all its sloppiness!


NOTE: This trippy-looking video was actually archival footage from the Great Depression. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This is why we love The Gaslight Anthem.
The new album, Handwritten, comes out July 23rd (UK) and 24th (US).