Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


A couple of solid albums have been out so far these first two months...there's Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, there's Jim James' outstanding debut, and then there's the new Nick Cave & Bad Seeds, which just about blew my mind. Some big news today that has to be mentioned here: Trent Reznor officially announced the return of Nine Inch Nails, after a four-year hiatus [link], with new music and a tour. The National announced the release of their sixth album, slated for May. And Iggy Pop & The Stooges are back with a new one, Ready To Die -- this is significant because it marks the first time since 1973's Raw Power that James Williamson and Scott Asheton are back together with Iggy. Also somewhere along the horizon, we'll get Bob Dylan's long-awaited 10th volume of the Bootleg Series [link].

Meanwhile, there are several upcoming releases worth noting:

Old Yellow Moon - Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris (Feb 26)
Honky Tonk - Son Volt (Mar 5)
People, Hell & Angels - Jimi Hendrix (Mar 5)
Old Sock - Eric Clapton (Mar 12)
Sound City: Real To Reel - Dave Grohl & Friends (Mar 12)
Love For Levon - Various Artists (Mar 19)
Comedown Machine - The Strokes (Mar 26)
American Ride - Willie Nile (Apr 9)
Stories Don't End - Dawes (Apr 9)
The Low Highway - Steve Earle (Apr 16)
Mosquito - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Apr 16)
Hubcap Music - Seasick Steve (Apr 29)
Wrote A Song For Everyone - John Fogerty (May 28)

And last but not least, The Next Day by David Bowie comes out two weeks from today. Expectations are riding high on this one.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Speech

MusiCares Tribute to Bruce Springsteen [link], by Thom Zimny

Saturday, February 9, 2013

2013 MusiCares Person of the Year

(February 7, 2013 - Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America)

It wasn't telecast live, but this is the official setlist, taken from various reports from the fan community and twitter feeds. Hopefully, a DVD of this event will emerge soon, as it had for the past few years.

1. Adam Raised A Cain - Alabama Shakes
2. Because The Night - Patti Smith
3. Atlantic City - Natalie Maines, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite
4. American Land - Ken Casey (of Dropkick Murphys)
5. My City Of Ruins - Zac Brown & Mavis Staples
6. I'm On Fire - Mumford & Sons
7. American Skin (41 Shots) - Jackson Browne & Tom Morello
8. My Hometown - Emmylou Harris
9. One Step Up - Kenny Chesney
10. Streets Of Philadelphia - Elton John
11. Hungry Heart - Juanes
12. Tougher Than The Rest - Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
13. The Ghost Of Tom Joad - Jim James & Tom Morello
14. Dancing In The Dark - John Legend
15. Lonesome Day - Sting
16. Born In The U.S.A. - Neil Young & Crazy Horse (with Nils Lofgren)

Bruce Springsteen's segment

17. We Take Care Of Our Own (house band with Jake Clemons, Patti Scialfa, Nils)
18. Death To My Hometown (house band with Jake, Patti, Nils, Tom Morello)
19. Thunder Road (house band with Jake, Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent, Roy Bittan, Patti, Nils)
20. Born To Run (house band with Jake, Nils, Max, Garry, Roy, Patti)
21. Glory Days (with all the artists onstage)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Get Up!

Get up for the first OUTSTANDING album of 2013! Is there ever anything Ben Harper touches that doesn't turn to gold? He's always been a grade-A student of the blues; taking tradition, infusing it with his own sensibilities, and churning out something fresh. This collaboration with legendary blues harmonica player, Charlie Musselwhite, is already one for the ages. The last time they worked together was over fifteen years ago, with John Lee Hooker. I'm vaguely familiar with Musselwhite; I first heard about him when I was watching the Blues Brothers 2000 film, where at the end he jammed with many other highly influential blues & soul musicians. To say his harp playing complements Ben Harper's singing is a kinda understatement. He brings the music to a new high. The harmonica doesn't try to upstage the vocals, nor does the vocals and everything else try to upstage the harmonica. Both fit together like a glove; case in point -- songs like the opening Don't Look Twice to the unplugged You Found Another Lover and to the closer, All That Matters Now, the perfect blend of guitar, piano and harp. Musselwhite comes in when he sees fit, and he knows EXACTLY when the right time is, and when he does he dances around the rhythm section like how a flame dances on a fireplace. This is a classic blues record that contains quite a bit of political and social overtones in the lyrics, and the blues comes in various forms: there's Delta blues, there's Chicago blues, gospel blues, rock & roll blues, R&B blues, slow-burning blues. It makes sense that it's on the Stax label. The most unique is the title track, because the bass lines are brought way upfront, which is quite unusual. But I love the way Ben's slide guitar and Charlie's harp solos weave in and out of each other. It's obvious these songs were recorded live, and they should sound great live. Will be seeing Ben next month for the third time, and he's also bringing Charlie along for the ride.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sound City

Wow......just wow. What an awesome, well-made film. It gave me chills all over and had me gasping for air within the first ten minutes of watching! For those who don't already know, Dave Grohl made a documentary movie about the now-defunct 'legendary' studio in L.A. known as Sound City. It sure didn't look good from the early archival footage, but it damn sure sounded good. Apparently the out-of-this-world acoustics was a phenomena that couldn't be explained. The place changed his life; he and Nirvana recorded Nevermind there. And the same could be said for many of the musicians, producers, and engineers who worked there. A couple of my personal favorite records were done there: Damn The Torpedoes, Hard Promises, Southern Accents, Wildflowers, After The Gold Rush, Rumors (mixed, not recorded), Johnny Cash's Unchained, hell even With Teeth by Nine Inch Nails. Speaking of Rumors, it pretty much blew my mind to know that Sound City was singlehandedly responsible for bringing Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks together with Fleetwood Mac during the early '70s. Amazing, ain't it? Almost everyone who had a part to play were interviewed for the film. I like it that we see and hear these people narrate, rather than have a neutral voice-over do it. The story of Sound City is told chronologically, and the scenes edited like a dynamic rock & roll record with many musical ups and downs. Ample screen time is given to those important albums recorded there. It wasn't all smooth sailing though. In the '80s, digital changed the recording landscape, and it affected business at the studio, but that didn't unnerve the people who still believed in putting music to analog and tape.

The custom-built Neve mixing console is as much a character and player in this film as everyone else -- those classic records wouldn't be what they are today if it weren't for this monster. Drums sounded sick because of it. Damn The Torpedoes, baby. Neve becomes the film's 'main focus' from the third quarter onwards after the studio shut its doors forever, and Grohl purchases and installs it in his own studio. It may be a weird shift in angle and mood for some viewers as the historical portion is now 'out of the way', but I think it's a cool shift. This is where the fun's just getting started. Dave brings back some of the Sound City players to record with him and the Foo Fighters; Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Lee Ving, Jim Keltner, and a first time collaboration between him, Trent Reznor and Josh Homme. Butch Vig is back at the board, handling production duties (soundtrack comes out next month). The best is saved for the last, as Sir Paul is invited to record with the remaining members of Nirvana. You not only get a kick out of watching these songs being recorded live, but also from watching all the musicians interact with one another in between takes.....that all-important creative process that makes shit happens. Because at the end of the day, it's the people coming together to create the magic of music, of which is a testament to Sound City's longevity. This film tells young musicians that sometimes relying too much on technology isn't the best thing in the world, and it teaches them a thing or two about doing it the old fashioned way. It's a love letter to Rock & Roll. It's a celebration of life!