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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ramada Inn

"This is very important. Don't spook the Horse. That is very essential to the success of any ride. The Horse will head for the barn if it is spooked, and the music will continue but not have that magic that the Horse possesses. Any ride on the Horse must not have a destination. History has shown that the best way to spook the Horse is to tell it what to do or where to go or, even worse, how to get there. You must not speak directly to the Horse or ever look the Horse in the eyes until the ride is over and the Horse is secured in the barn. It is okay to talk to the Horse directly, but care must be taken to have respect for the muse when discussing anything with the Horse. The Horse and the muse are very good friends. Disrespect for the music will piss off the Horse, and possibly vice versa, although that is hard to prove. The Horse has met no equal, although there undoubtedly is an equal to the Horse out there somewhere. The Horse knows this well and will not tolerate anyone who is overly complimentary to the point of excluding other friends of the muse in a misguided attempt to gain the Horse's favor. That is absolutely not the thing to do, as it makes the Horse think, and that has a bad effect generally. The Horse has a voracious appetite. The songs the Horse likes to consume are always heartfelt and do not need to have anything fancy associated with them. The Horse is very suspicious of tricks. Keeping these simple guidelines in place is always a good idea when approaching the Horse for any reason."
- excerpt from Waging Heavy Peace (Neil Young, 2012)


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tunnel Of Love 25

Where do you go after your biggest selling record of your career? How do you continue to remain vital and relevant in the face of worldwide super-stardom? Here's celebrating one of the boldest and most mature albums ever made by an artist at the extreme height of their popularity. Here's to the greatest album ever made about men & women, and love.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream

My quick, no-spoiler review: 
This memoir is essential reading for all fans, one I found hard to put down once I started. It was written as if it were a 500-page online blog. His thoughts are all over the place. There are many many chapters, most are very short. It's easy to read and understand. He adopts a conversational style of writing, and he digresses a lot. It's not written in chronological order; kinda like Bob Dylan's Chronicles, except this one's more messy. Not everything Neil writes about is interesting, like his obsession with model trains. But it's a real enjoyable read when he talks about the music and creating art and life itself. It's gold.


Next up in the world of Shakey is Neil Young Journeys and Psychedelic Pill.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

2013 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees

As prestigious as it may claim to be, the Rock Hall has also been widely criticized by fans over the years for overlooking many obvious bands and artists that should've been inducted long time ago (seriously, no Hall & Oates?); or for inducting and nominating those who don't deserve to get in so soon. Only this year, the committee has started to recognize and officially induct backing groups, starting with those from the 50s and 60s (i.e. The Crickets, The Miracles, The Comets, The Blue Caps). Basically each year, only five out of over ten main bands/artists nominated are voted into the Rock Hall. The nominees for the class of 2013 includes some first timers and some long overdue. And for the first time, the public will have a chance to vote alongside the artists and music industry people [link]. The ones in bold below are those I think deserved to be selected:

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Deep Purple
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Albert King
The Marvelettes
The Meters
Randy Newman
Procol Harum
Public Enemy
Donna Summer