Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Video for Mark Lanegan's Gravedigger's Song

I'm going to keep beating it into your heads until you believe me. Mark Lanegan will change your life. Fortunately for you, his new album, Blues Funeral comes out next week. The only voice I've heard more in the last few days is the one or two in my noggin, reminding me to eat and bathe and pick up the pills on the floor before my son comes over.  I will fully review it after it fully saturates.  Until then, here is the video for the track  "Gravedigger's Song".   Disclaimer: None of the creepy children were harmed during the filming of this vid.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wilco's New "Popeye" Video

Wilco bring Popeye back from the animation graveyard, with their new video for "Dawned on Me". If you haven't gotten their latest album The Whole Love yet, then you must feel like you haven't eaten your spinach...all of the time. It was in Circle of Fits Top 5 Albums of 2011. Bluto ain't got nuthin' on Wilco.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Star Spangled Banter

There seems to be a ridiculous amount of armchair fuss and disgust over Steven Tyler's performance of The Star Spangled Banner before yesterdays AFC Championship game. From the internets, tweets and newsrooms I've been privy to words like "TRAVESTY", "disgrace", "butchered", atrocity", even "tasteless" to describe his take on this atrocious song.

Yes, I said atrocious song. I have a lot to say about it, but I may morph back and forth between into some sort of veteran huggin', beer slingin' good ole boy full of lung butter and adrenaline....and yours truly. Because for some reason, this song is sacred. It is symbolic of the good old USA, so you better remove your hat and slap that hand over your heart and pay attention, boy. Because it's the most important song that ever glorified war.

"Because the game wont be the same without it, man. The goddamn game wouldn't even be being played if it weren't for the good old righteous wars. We won the right to play it. Now hear me. We won the right to come into your country when you don't want us to, take over your governments and turn your country into a police state until order is restored and your terrorist leader is punished, killed or driven out of power. Freedom ain't free. Ain't nothin' like a good old war song to get those colors flying, that pride bursting, and heart a poundin'. Ain't nothin' like getting all big chested and misty eyed with a good old outdated, imperialistic sing a long that most of the offensive linemen ignore while they adjust their jocks.   And nobody who has the privilege of an invitation to sing it, better sing it off key, off color or whatnot because that'd be a goddamn sacrilege. An abomination. And goddamnit, you better have a fuckin' tear in your eye when those fireworks drop and drape over the fighter plane flyin low and slow over the stadium. You'd better straighten up while flyin' right."

Hey, butterbean, listen to the words. Your sentiment is disguised by your pride. War has never been the answer to anything through history but rather a disagreement of religion and false gods, and a pursuit of land, power and money.. But now people are pissed off, being civilly disobedient, distrusting their leaders, and the act of being patriotic falls somewhere between cutting back on high fructose corn syrup and Tivo-ing The Bachelor. And you soldiers? Bless your hearts for what you do, even when you don't know why you do what you do, or no longer believe in what you do.

May I suggest an upgrade to Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" to be performed in lieu of the Elitist Anthem. A true panorama and pastiche of what America truly symbolizes-inclusion.

Steven Tyler is still a rock star. Even after having to take the Idol job to fund his various alimony escapades, and his ridiculous Oprah interview, the guy is still a Toxic Twin. He's still the guy who wrote the words to Sick as a Dog and Lord of the Thighs. And that's enough for me. I've been in his company while in his dressing room with my late sister and he was the coolest, intuitive, non self- serving celebrity I'd ever been around.

What he's absurdly up against in this PR debacle, for which I'm convinced that he doesn't give a shit about is the ABOVE played out national  SENTIMENT.... PLUS his much higher profile. Due to his appearance 2x a week on a massively popular faux- starmaking show which is shoved down the throats of a general public who know next to nothing about music, he's a CELEBRITY, now. A 40 second soundbite at the end of every fly- over city's six o clock news broadcast. These couch proud cretins and pasty tweens have most likely never heard a fucking Aerosmith song. Therefore, they would never know that Mr. Tyler sounded exactly like Mr. Tyler SHOULD sound , while singing the NATIONAL ANTHEM. IN BOSTON, WHERE HE'S FROM. He sounded like a ROCK STAR. A 63 year old rock star who can still hit the high notes on this notoriously difficult song to sing. So many vocally white washed or melismally mutilating understudies have tried to go where Steven went and failed by falling off the edge of the key or being a sonic gymnast and rappelling down the ends of the phrases.

If you wanted the slick operatic white bread take on this song, you should have waited for Kristen Chenoweth's sparkly clean version before the Giant/49er game. Her teeth were shining through the misty rain, her vibrato was Rogers and Hammerstein strong and pitch perfect. Shit, I was waiting for jazz hands.We did get the Miss America wave, though.

I was personally much more offended with the New England Patriots who were handed the game with a dropped pass and missed kick. And now that sneering thankless snob Tom Brady gets to dirty up my Super Bowl again. Now that's a travesty.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Darkness Returns

The Darkness Returns! No, not a common go to theme of dread and depression that runs rampant on this blog, but the UK BAND- The Darkness.  Remember them? Need help? Just think of the last time you heard Thin Lizzy glam- dipped guitars and outrageous falsetto on rock radio. In 2003, not 1973. Catchy melodies, guitar solos. and the glitter drenched, Mercury-lite vocal stylings of Justin Hawkins. You know, Rock! From back in the days of yore.... before your Instamatic Idols and Idiots.

Most of you will reluctantly reach back to 2003 to bring their catchy glam rock single " I Believe in a Thing Called Love" to the surface. It was an insanely infectious tune for the time, even soccer moms were scat singing it in their Voyagers. They were massive in England from 2003-2005 and even made a dent here with their Permission To Land album. But with their outrageous and dentally challenged videos and the penchant for shiny pinstriped jumpsuits, nobody knew whether to take the band seriously or not. Surprisingly enough, the Hawkins brothers (Brother Dan on guitars as well) were virtuosos as well as great songwriters.

The second album from 2005, One Way Ticket to Hell and Back, had the boys even nicking Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker, yet it made no dent and hardly a ding, and the fun began to fade.   After the obligatory saturation with fame and the maddening crash into the drugs/rehab/obscurity wall, the band split in 2006, with Justin leaving to regroup and eventually form the one album long project called Hot Leg. The remaining members fumbled along with a new front man in an ensemble called the Stoned Gods. Neither outfit made any real rock traction, and here it is a short two years later, and with the quids running low the world gets  a big whiff of reunion.

With Justin and Dan having realized that a grand glam sum is better then their bland glam parts, the band has regrouped in 2012 and are well into writing and recording a third album. A US tour has been announced with the dates listed below.

2/1 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix – SOLD OUT
2/3 – Boston @ Paradise Rock Club – SOLD OUT
2/4 – New York @ Irving Plaza – SOLD OUT
2/6 – New York @ Irving Plaza
Currently on sale: http://bit.ly/tmgRoG

2/7 – Philadelphia @ Trocadero
Currently on sale: http://ticketf.ly/vfqHUW

2/8 – Washington DC @ 9:30 Club – SOLD OUT
2/10 – Detroit @ St Andrew’s Hall – SOLD OUT
2/11 – Chicago @ Metro – SOLD OUT

2/12 – Minneapolis @ First Avenue
Presale tickets still available: http://www.thedarknesstix.com/
Currently on sale: http://bit.ly/u9YFea

2/15 – Denver @ Summit
Presale tickets still available: http://www.thedarknesstix.com/
Currently on sale: http://bit.ly/vHQnub

2/17 – Las Vegas @ House of Blues
Presale tickets still available: http://www.thedarknesstix.com/
Currently on sale: http://bit.ly/tNIaxN

2/18 – Phoenix @ Celebrity Theatre
Presale tickets still available: http://www.thedarknesstix.com/
Currently on sale: http://bit.ly/s2gjQV

2/19 – Los Angeles @ House of Blues – Sunset Strip – SOLD OUT
2/21 – San Francisco @ Fillmore
Currently on sale: http://bit.ly/rG3I4C

2/23 – Portland @ Roseland Theater
Tickets onsale Friday Jan 13, 2012.

2/24 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Commodore Ballroom
Tickets onsale Friday Jan 13, 2012.

2/25 – Seattle @ Neptune Theater
Tickets onsale Friday Jan 13, 2012.

I've got glitter on my fingers as I type this, and my jumper is at the cleaners!   See you there!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

TattOOFAH : New Van Halen Song

Well. The world has its new Van Halen Song called Tattoo.. which was spliced together from a Diver Down outtake and the yuk- yuk yuckiest  part of a deep cut off of Eat Em and Smile.  Complete with the best of wordy uber- cornball Hot For Teacher/Just a Gigolo aftermarket inspired lyrics from Conductor Roth, an Eddie solo with all of the cliche parts of an Eddie solo( kinda nice to hear them, but I already did about 7 million times thanks to mid- market rock radio)...and balloons. Plus we don't get to see how sparkly and outlandish Alex's drum set is in B&W. And Wolfie, you kind of look like Chaz Bono, but with more dancing talent and better man boobs.

Hey guys in the video booth or guys on the stage.. Howsa bout synching up your words to the video, or learning the words, even.  The album, called A Different Kind of Truth, comes out Feb. 7.

 Oh, well,I'll still go see them just in hopes of Eddie bringing out Frankenstein Kramer for one song.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Partially Deaf In Depth

For the last three months or so, I've struggled with a nasty concoction of recurring bronchitis, two asthma attacks, super resistant ear infections and cracked ribs from a machine gun body mantra of coughing fits.

I have improved for the most part. Except for my ears. As of right this minute, my hearing is at least 50 percent gone. For someone whose life nucleus is music and the appreciation or evisceration thereof, this puts a huge auditory damper on my day to day. Yeah, I can't hear shit. Which is good if what I'm listening to clearly contains some sort of half thought out sonic feces, but really horrid if its solid gold sound.

I have had a lifetime of hearing problems. You see, my Eustachian Tubes are deformed. For those of you saying, huh?, well, you've got them too, but yours most likely function properly, so that every time you swim, shower, congest, sneeze or produce something waxy, your eustacian tubes drain that foreign matter right down the back of your throat for proper expulsion ,like good internal plumbing should. Mine are closed tight, backed up like a toilet in the ladies room at a Britney Spears show. So, I have years old fluid, wax, scar tissue, first drafts of bad reviews, pixie dust, and well fed ear mites just chillin' back there. As a child with chronic ear infections, the standard procedure to alleviate these non stop symptoms was to to do a myringotomy, which is basically shove a tiny tube into the ear drums that assists with ventilation and drainage. LONG STORY SHORT, I had many of those damn myringotomies (,7x by age 12) have had my eardrums replaced twice, because the holes left would not close. The eardrums are new, but the drainage problem ain't going away. And my recent health issues have made it worse than ever.

  Next week, with the assistance of some very temporary Medicaid, I'm getting another adult myringotomy done, more little tubes to help with drainage.Unfortunately, this was an inconclusive option given to me by kind Dr. Wilcox, whom after reviewing my prior medical history, told me that this may or may not work. It may be scar tissue and not old fluid, hard wax and other foreign entities that reside behind my fucked up eardrums, in which case, my only other option is equivalent to a total restoration of that favorite room you lay around in, gut it and start over.  The problem with that is clear. A much longer recovery, without any chance of going to whatever job I may have. And with this Medicaid, drugs are not covered. Yes, believe what I say. I can get either operation, but I can't get the painkillers to go with it.  

I have come to the conclusion, that I may have limited auditory function for the rest of my life. Dr. Wilcox was very matter of fact, backing up his inquiry into my condition with a disclaimer that there is no cure or operation to "replace eustacian tubes", and that I was a "very difficult case". 

I have lived this long with a moderate 30% loss of hearing in my right ear and 20% in my left ear. It has come in handy at times in my life. I never really needed ear plugs at Judas Priest shows, never once had a case of tinnitus(ringing) and it was  a built in bullshit meter and filter for many unwanted conversations.

This moderate loss has been a hindrance as a performer and singer as my monitors always had to be jacked up so loud that the guitarists didn't even need me included in their stage mixes. And the few times I used in ear monitors, I was lost in the cacophony of instruments.

But this may change everything. I really cannot hear right now. Everything sounds like a whisper or a dull thud. The treble and some midrange in my life is gone. I have recently been digitally converting some of my favorite albums from 128 kbps to 320kbps to see if it may make a difference, and it really has not.

This morning I converted Crosby Stills and Nash's debut album from 1969. One of my favorite songs from CSN is "You Don't Have to Cry".  On a weird side note, I never knew until today that this was the very first song they sang together in Joni Mitchell's Laurel Canyon living room. Graham Nash was looking in on an a Stills Crosby sing- a- long , he heard a run through of this song(written by Stills and about Joni) and asked if he could join in with a high harmony. The rest is history.  And I'll still have history, and most likely will have to rely on audio memory. I couldnt tell the difference between the 128 and 320 bit versions, and both of them ended up sounding like I was not sitting cross legged with my poncho on in that living room basquing in some hashish drenched  acoustic bliss but rather hearing it underwater from the shallow end of Joni's pool.

Maybe this operation will act as some serious Drano for my ears.

Maybe I will have to get used to being more than partially deaf in depth.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Brilliant Bowie Birthday Piece from The Guardian

I came across this super article by Alexis Petridis from The Guardian, in celebration of Bowie's proper retirement birthday upon turning 65, this Sunday.

David Bowie: myth-maker turns 65 away from limelight

 By Alexis Petridis
Photo of David Bowie
David Bowie in the 1970s, not a man destined to make old bones - or so we thought. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives
It's a cliche when a rock star reaches 65 to mention the time when it didn't look like they'd make pensionable age, but with David Bowie, who marks the milestone on Sunday, it's almost unavoidable. Look at a picture of him in the mid-70s, when he was ravaged by cocaine, living off a diet of red peppers and milk and so paranoid that he apparently kept his own urine in a fridge lest persons unknown steal it: this is not a man destined to make old bones.

It wasn't just the drugs: there was something about the intensity with which he worked during that decade - the scarcely-believable ten-year creative streak that begins with the 1970s The Man Who Sold The World and ends with the 1980's Scary Monsters And Super-Creeps – that suggests an early demise. Someone that burns that brightly probably isn't going to burn for long.

Under the circumstances, it's hard to begrudge him his ongoing semi-retirement: he last made an album in 2003, and for the best part of a decade has made only sporadic public appearances, the odd special guest spot here and there. It was precipitated by emergency surgery on a blocked artery, and lurid rumours about the state of his health have abounded ever since.

Ill or not, having achieved more in one phase of his career alone than anyone can hope to in a lifetime – so much that it's literally impossible to imagine what pop music would be like if he hadn't existed – he's entitled to take early redundancy from pop stardom.

You can mourn the loss of more music if you want, but in a sense, his absence feels strangely right. Before his retirement, he'd begun down the path taken by most august rock legends: having bullishly announced in 1990 that he'd never return to his most famous songs, he began playing the hits again – he performed Low in its entirety in 2002 – tacitly acknowledging that his best work was probably behind him. It's a pragmatism that has served everyone from Paul McCartney to Iggy Pop well, but the all-our-yesterdays approach somehow didn't suit Bowie.

The artist who drew a decisive, iconoclastic dividing line between the 60s and the 70s in the lyrics of All The Young Dudes ("my brother's at home with his Beatles and his Stones … what a drag"), Bowie's music was never about nostalgia, always the present, or, even better, the future. Furthermore, the playing the-big-hits gigs are about creating a warm, communal glow of recognition among the audience and Bowie's music was never about that either. There was almost always something distant, aloof, other about it, even when it sounded like it was speaking directly to the listeners. "You're not alone, give your hands, you're wonderful," he cried at the end of 1972's Rock 'N' Roll Suicide, the collective we're-all-in-this-together sentiment undercut by the fact that it was sung by Bowie in the guise of someone else: he's playing a role.

His music could certainly move you, but the main emotion it instilled was a kind of boggling awe, not least 1976's Station To Station, made at the height of the wee-in-the-fridge era and yet - incredibly given that Bowie claimed to not actually remember making it - arguably his best album. You listen to it, or Low, or Diamond Dogs in the absolute certainty that the person who made it was not like you or anyone else, no matter how much anyone else claimed to identify with him: not the gay kids who sat thunderstruck in front of Top Of The Pops as he casually slipped his arm around his hapless guitarist Mick Ronson ("people used to stop my sister on the street and say 'is that Mick of yours a poof?'", he later protested), not the fanatics who dressed up like him, not the legions of other artists who tried to imitate him and always fell short.

Bowie was an early adopter of the internet, but he didn't really fit with the notion of a star in the 21st century, an era when the manufacturing of pop music has been laid bare on the TV and where stars are perpetually available on Twitter and Tumblr. Rock music currently exists in a world of 360 degree connectivity that's supposed to bring the artist and the fan closer and reveal the real person behind the myth. But as the best of his umpteen biographers David Buckley pointed out, with Bowie, revealing the real person behind the myth is missing the point: "the myth has far greater resonance and is far more intriguing than stolid attempts to identify a 'true' essence … his appeal has lain in the generation of myths." Those myths look likely to remain intact forever, which seems perfectly fitting.

I've no bones about Bowie finally "making old bones". I miss him(well...maybe I miss him as a 30 year old) but completely respect his will and desire to laze on the chaise, wrapped in a glitter Snuggie watching old Benny Hill reruns and eating kippers.  I mean, he sold that back catalogue for a cool billion with a reason, right? I wonder if he's a closet gamer? Or has an ant farm/toy train/Dark Shadows memorabilia collection in his penthouse. Maybe he's the guy who bought all of Elton John's wacky glasses from the 70s. Perhaps an arcade size Dance Dance Revolution game is set up in one of his den's, and he just hits, pops and jiggers on the lit up dance floor in his Let's Dance era grey silk suit (that's been taken out a few inches),  Maybe he knits colorful scarves  or is making plans to launch his own line of Make Up.  Ham radio?

It is quite unbelievable that his son (once Zowie, now Duncan Jones: Director of the films Source Code and Moon), gets more media play than dear old dad these days .  Hell, even Iman doesn't know where he is. So many rooms, so little time to look.

Happy Birthday Bowie....here's to becoming the real life Thin White, Wrinkled, Constipated and Cranky Duke.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

An Unbelievable Guitar Story starring Peter Frampton

From the New York Times :Peter Frampton Reunited With ‘Best Guitar’ After 31 Years

 Peter Frampton has been reunited with the Gibson electric guitar he played on “Frampton Comes Alive,” three decades after it was presumed destroyed in a plane crash.
Peter Frampton's favorite guitar, presumed destroyed more than 30 years ago, was returned to him last month.Peter Frampton’s favorite guitar, presumed destroyed in 1980, was returned to him last month.
It turns out the guitar did not burn up in November 1980 when a cargo plane crashed on takeoff in Caracas, Venezuela, on its way to Panama, where Mr. Frampton was to perform. Instead someone plucked it from the burning wreckage and later sold it to a musician on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao.
The guitar was returned to Mr. Frampton in Nashville last month after a two-year negotiation involving the local musician who had the guitar, a customs agent who repairs guitars in his spare time, a diehard Frampton fan in the Netherlands and the head of the island’s tourist board. 

Last month, the tourist board official, Ghatim Kabbara, bought the guitar with public funds and traveled to Nashville to hand it to Mr. Frampton in a tattered gig bag. Mr. Frampton said he knew as soon as he picked the instrument up that it was the same 1954 Gibson Les Paul with customized pickups that he had played for a decade. It was an emotional moment, he said.
“For 30 years, it didn’t exist – it went up in a puff of smoke as far as I was concerned,” Mr. Frampton said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Frampton said he was given the guitar by a man named Mark Mariana in 1970. Mr. Frampton had been playing with his band Humble Pie at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, and he borrowed the guitar from Mr. Mariana for a show because his own instrument kept feeding back when he soloed. He fell in love with it. Made of Honduran mahogany, it was light in his hands, and the neck was thin, the fretting action light, suiting his small hands.
“I used it for both sets and my feet didn’t touch the ground,” he recalled. saying he thought, “This is the best guitar I have ever played.”
After the show he tried to buy the instrument, but Mr. Mariana insisted on giving it to him. It became his favorite guitar. He played it on the Humble Pie albums “Rock On” and “Rocking the Fillmore,” and on all his solo records. He used it in sessions with George Harrison, Harry Nilsson and John Entwistle.
Perhaps most important, it was the guitar he played on the 1976 solo album “Frampton Comes Alive!” one of the best-selling live albums ever and the recording that established him as one of the great rock guitarists of the 1970s. “It’s all I ever used for 10 years,” he said. “That was it. That was part of me.”
Mr. Kabbara said the guitar surfaced two years ago when the local guitarist, who has not been identified, took the instrument to Donald Balentina, a Curaçao customs agent who collects and repairs old guitars in his spare time. The musician had been using it for decades, playing in hotels and bars on the island, but did not know the instrument’s history, Mr. Kabbara said.

Asked to repair the guitar, Mr. Balentina noticed the unusual third set of pickups and burn marks on the neck, Mr. Kabbara said. The customs agent began to suspect the guitar might be the one Mr. Frampton had played on the “Frampton Comes Alive!” album. He consulted with another Frampton fan in the Netherlands, who confirmed it had all the earmarks of the missing Gibson. Mr. Balentina also sent photos of the inner works of the guitar to Mr. Frampton. Mr. Frampton said he was stunned when he saw the photos; it looked like guitar, he said, but he could not be sure.

For two years Mr. Balentina tried to persuade the local guitarist to sell the instrument, and finally, in November, facing a financial problem, he finally agreed. But Mr. Balentina did not have money and, afraid another buyer might scoop up the guitar, he approached Mr. Kabbara at the tourist board.
Mr. Kabbara, an amateur guitarist who admires Mr. Frampton, agreed to put up the board’s funds to purchase the guitar, on one condition. He and Mr. Balentina would take the guitar to Mr. Frampton as a gesture of goodwill. “I thought the right thing to do was to give him back his guitar,” he said. “This guitar was him. The whole 1970s was this guitar.”

Mr. Frampton, who is 61, said he hopes to play the guitar again when he appears at the Beacon Theater in New York in February. For now, he has left the instrument at the Gibson Custom Shop in Nashville to have some minor repairs made. The neck is still straight, he said, but he must replace old pickups with new ones, made to the same specifications as the original coils. But he said he will leave the burn marks and scrapes alone.

“I want it to have its battle scars,” he said.

This guitar can be heard on arguably two of the best live albums of all time :  Humble Pie's Rocking the Fillmore AND Frampton Comes Alive.  Just an unbelievable story.                skb