Thursday, February 25, 2010

Downtown Superstar?

Don't have much time today, but gotta give a quick bit o'love to my good friend who is getting some crazy stalker blog action this action this week:




Nice work Mike...Still pissed I missed hanging with Axl, but also still glad I can crash on your couch....

Just like Pfaff's, the first one that Whitman himself hung out at:
New York's First Hipster Bar.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring Time release

Amongst the stupid snow and freezing rain some great news today as one of the best American bands out there will be releasing their 5th album Heaven is Whenever the first week of May.   In a word...Boosh! (And or Ka-Kow)

I love me some Hold Steady, I think Finn is one of the top 5 rock and roll lyricists and Tad Kubler (cool interview here) is one mean guitarist.  They are the Lex Luger of the rock scene...yup The Total Package RnR band.  I thought Stay Positive was a growing up/transitional album a step below their previous two releases, so I am very excited to see what they bring to the table this time.

Very much looking forward to this, and looking even more forward to catching them live...

And one of my all time favorite tunes:

Lost in Fog and Love and Faithless Fear...I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dead from 3 days ago...Feb 20th...

...of 1977.  Wanted to post these studio outtakes from the Terrapin Station Sessions for peeps this week. 
Always dug this cover art.  
Here is the Link to the Archive set from 2-20-1977 ahhh...almost exactly 33 years ago today, and of course you can listen right here:

What should you listen for?  Well enjoy the relaxed feel of the tunes, and the clarity of the playing.  Phils bass sounds in dynamite form, and the experimentations that would be a vital part of the band for years to come are in full bloom on this day.  "Fire on the Mountain" contains some cool stream of consciousness lyrics..."Put it down heavy/Sweep it down clean/lay it down dirty/play it now clean" or something along those lines.

Also the rare treat of Lesh's "Equinox" is cool as hell and could have been a classic, for Bob Weir's take on this track and why it was eventually left off the album click here. I always thought it was called "Mercy of a Fool", but I am glad the Archive and people can clear that up, though to be honest I forgot all about it until today.  Fun tune with hippy lyrics.

Then there is the meat and potatoes of the proceedings...the epic Terrapin Station.  This story is from Robert Hunters Box of Rain regarding the tune and is one of my favorite concerning any GD Song, so I wanted to share it:
    I wrote Terrapin, Part One, at a single sitting in an unfurnished house with a picture window overlooking San Francisco Bay during a flamboyant lightning storm. I typed the first thing that came into my mind at the top of the page, the title Terrapin Station.

    Not knowing what it was to be about, I began my writing with an invocation to the muse and kept typing as the story began to unfold.

    On the same day, driving into the city, Garcia was struck by a singular inspiration. He turned his car around and hurried home to set down some music that popped into his head, demanding immediate attention.

    When we met the next day, I showed him the words and he said "I've got the music." They dovetailed perfectly and Terrapin edged into this dimension.
Thanks for the Lyrics Robert
About ten minutes in this version starts doing some weird things, and it just goes to show how much was behind this tune.  Terrapin seems to be one that fans of the "jam" dislike because of it's consistent live presentation, this version shows just where it could have gone...and it seems like this darkness would have freaked the flower children who were tripping balls PROPER!  It has always been one of my favorites because from the first time you listen to it, it just feels special.  I also thoroughly enjoy this versions creepy vibe.  Enjoy the songs....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Album Review - Eels - End Times

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information before or after if needed but will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
End Times 
* and a 1/2 out of *****

Eels or rather Mark Oliver Everett, has been through a ton of hardships in his life and they consistently weigh him and his music down.  That weariness coupled with the straining honesty in his voice lends added gravity to all of his songs.  However, on past efforts an ironic, smiling-into-the-shitstorm flicker has off balanced the grim thoughts, not on End Times.  There is no irony in this title; Eels are speaking on the end of relationships, the end of life, the end of civilizations and the end of the world, yet at the end of it's run it is the album that has  failed.

Much sparser sonically then the recent (and superior) Hombre Lobo, E just wallows in the rut of despair waiting for these End Times which seem to be coming in the next gasp.  “Unhinged” has an organ and tambourine that off set some mean lyrics directed at a crazy ex-lover, “In My Younger Days” plays with simple electronic backing over suicidal thoughts.  The emptiness is all consuming and serves to drown the listener while E regresses into himself and the songs almost border on pitying. 

Let’s face it, Eels can convey pain brilliantly and the short heartfelt “Little Bird” sounds completely forlorn and devastating with the refrain “God Damn/I Miss that girl” but in context it is just another bleak song.  A full album of downers is tough to swallow unless recent breakups or hardships have clouded your life, if that's the case then I am sure this album will ring completely true. When Eels splashes in a bit of variety into the overall product he/they achieve better results, hopefully E cheers up just a hair for the next album.   

More thoughts, comparisons to other reviews and a video after the jumparooni

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Glide Review - Kats - I Can Levitate

What up newest review is up on Glide.

It is my friend Kats laying down his 10th(!) album, I Can Levitate.

Check the review right C'heer!!!
(I am noticing the stars are off on the review, I gave it ***and1/2)

Whats even cooler can decide for your own dam self, download the full release for FREE right here!!

As I said before on this blog, I have been friends with Kats for a while, but that aside this album is really good.  He is talented as all hell as is the whole Free Ice Cream crew, check out the whole site, after all it is all free. 

And as a bonus here is a video for you to gander at...feel free to bob your head at your desk it is Kats, Domer and Ryan O'Neil performing "We Got You"...Dig:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Easy Monday/Tuesday 6-25-1991

Another easy beginning of the week, so I won't spend too much time on the Dead today, but I wanted to point out a fun first set from 1991.  The 90's aren't well respected by most dead fans, but 91 is a fantastic year in Dead history.  The band (and Garcia in particular) was invigorated by Bruce Hornsby participation with the band helping out Vince Welnick make his transition into the group full time.  I have always loved 1991 and 90 as my first tapes for whatever reason were from this era (I will get to those at some point).  On this night Jerry and Bruce really seem to click.... 

Today's show is from 6-25-91 Bonner Springs, KS.

The keyboards of the new twinklers are loud on the opening "Jack Straw" and then omnipresent on "Sugaree" with Vince's electric flourishes overpowering the song, adding a weird carnival vibe before Jerry gets his MIDI into the act turning the tune into a mangled sonic soup.   This version is def worth a listen; one of the weirdest versions of one of their best tunes, can't say I love it, but it sure is interesting.  The first set while nothing life changing is a good example of how Hornsby and to a lesser extent Welnick forced the old gray-beards to open up some of their older tunes with new vigor...not always improving but at least always changing.

Where these new keyboard tones and vamps really come into their own are evident at the beginning of the second set. The 25+ minute combo of "Scarlett Begonias">"Fire on the Mountain" is perfect for this new experimenting especially the segue between the two.  These versions are mellow but exploratory more jazz then rock, not that smoking...speaking of smoking, "Smokestack Lightnin'">"He's Gone" continues the exploratory trend.  Bobby's cover of Smokestack has never been one of my favorites, but it gives me a chance to post the original by Howlin' Wolf:

"He's Gone" on the other hand is one of Jerry's better ballads, a real original that rings even more powerful now that he is actually gone, this version escapes into the air and floats majestically exploring the outer reaches.

One of the highlights of the 90's for the Dead was Jerry's voice aging to the point of rasp that added a greater sense of levity and beauty to the slower numbers.  Another of the excellent Jerry ballads pops up post Drums>Space via "Comes A Time". If forced to rank them, I would probably place "Comes A Time" behind only "Stella Blue" and the late great "Days Between" when it comes to Garcia's ballads. There is something about this tune that just cuts real deep in both the lyrics and the playing; a sense of honesty not always heard in the Dead's tunes.  

Only played 66 times live, this is a great version, savor this and the ending celebration of "Good Lovin'" which was a cover made famous by The Young Rascals that the Dead made their own:

And Jerry laying on the ballad one more time with the finality of Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" here is a different cover version by Eric Burdon and The Animals that you can compare it against, Enjoy the show:

Friday, February 12, 2010

New and Old Tunes

So two locations pointed out songs I wanted to share here, the first is over at Glide.  Dr. Dog has been one of my favorites ever since Eric from Glide told me to check them out at the Mercury Lounge in Jan. 2006.  What's not in that review is that show was one of I would say 5 or less in my show going career where I was enamored enough with what I heard to instantly buy Easy Beat on the spot.  The dog's hooked me and when I conducted an interview with them I was overjoyed.  it is still one of my favorite pieces I have written for glide and the reason for that is Scott McMicken.
The kid was affable, knowledgeable and completely into music.  He was a joy to interview and we could have literally talked for hours (if I remember we did talk for at least 1 hour) about his band various music and everything.  I was pumped to see the band grow and expand, so much so that I included their amazing album Fate at number 17 on my best albums of the decade list.  The group is cooking and their new tune points to excellent things for the future release, give it a listen, I think you will like it:

The next tune I want to mention was pointed out to me from the NYPL Blogs.  I confess I only know Steve Miller like most people from Smoker Joker Toker land...and the fact that he did the same show every summer at SPAC when I was in my younger days.  I had no idea he had a bluesy career pre-pop tunes, but thankfully Andy Wagstaff pointed that out to me in his blog entry.  Check out Bluesy Steve Miller:
This Great Albums You May Have Missed is a GREAT idea which I will be gleefully following, Thanks Andy.   

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Album Review - The HeavyThe House That Dirt Built

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information before or after if needed but will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:

The Heavy
The House That Dirt Built

** out of *****

The lines between imitation, tribute, and flat rip-off have never been cloudier in music; understandably people will argue both sides.  On one hand the argument is simply that music is music, listen and enjoy.  On the other people want respect for the original artists and ideas; for past efforts to inspire not be repackaged and sold.  Hip-Hop has dealt with this for years, and covers have always been part of Rock and Roll, this summer even found Kid Rock’s huge hit mashing up two classics.  The Heavy are treading in all of these waters.

It rings a bit stale on The House That Dirt Built, the group’s sophomore release.  The minute “Sixteen” starts the ghost of Screaming Jay Hawkins should be foaming at the mouth.   Taking the excellent “I Put A Spell On You” and replacing Screaming Jay’s classic delivery with Kelvin Swaby’s non-descript vocals and lyrics isn’t innovative or exciting, it’s a downgrade.  That is the problem in the end; if the lead vocals were inventive/astounding the group could better get away with “borrowing” from the likes of Third Guitar, but Swaby is tame in the front man role not a whirlwind MC making these tributes his own.   

Raw drums and a baritone sax spice things up on the Tom Waits styled hard rocker “Oh No! Not You Again!!” and “Short Change Hero” would be easily confused for a Gnarls Barkley deep cut but The House That Dirt Built ends up as a collage of beats, samples, riffs, experiments, all easily digested but not that sonically sustaining.   

More thoughts, tunes videos, and a full length documentary after the jump

Monday, February 8, 2010

Grateful Super Bowl Champs

To honor a team and a city that deserves it, I dusted off this very eventful day in Dead History for your Monday listening.  First, congrats to the New Orleans Saints, I am pumped they won as I was rooting for them and they deserved it.
I do gotta say that I think sportscasters have gone a bit overboard saying how much the team means to the city, they are certainly important, but lots of NOLA residents I have met over the years couldn't care less about football and just wish people would come back, yet I am sure those same people are enjoying the party going on now, so live it up!

The Dead certainly lived it up during their NOLA fact they lived it up a little too much on this historic day as they were arrested for possession.  Today's show is from 1-31-1970 and this was the second show ever at the newly opened Warehouse at 182 Tchoupitoulas St. (The Dead and  Fleetwood Mac opened the joint the night before).  The Dead after this show rarely ever played New Orleans again.  You can listen to it Right here:

Everyone and their mother, whether their mother is a fan or not, knows about this show because everyone has heard "Truckin" which immortalizes the arrest earlier that afternoon for eternity:

"Busted Down on Bourbon St/Set Up Like a Bowling Pin"   

While that is all well and good, that song obviously wouldn't show up for a little while (8-18-1970 to be exact) but the songs here have a loose chaotic energy that both New Orleans and The Dead are famous for.   It really is a shame that they would so rarely play NOLA after this first bad experience with the city, because had these two clicked something magical could have happened...I am sure of that.

The magic in this show is all over the place from the crazy stage banter to the technical problems.  Jerry Mentions that "Dire Wolf" is a "Paranoid Fantasy Song" and urges the fans to sing along with this top-notch version of one of Hunter and Garcia's overlooked gems.  An explosive "Morning Dew" showing up super early is a dope surprise and along with a spastic "Masons Children" represents the best of the electric playing on this night.  I use electric literally there because Phil's bass amp had some sort of voodoo overload and the band did an impromptu acoustic second set heavy with rarely played tunes and country covers.   

An Elvis cover finds the fellas crooning "Long Black Limousine" to start things off:
  Bobby then sings a stellar version of George Jones "Seasons of My Heart" (here is a cool version by Kitty Wells):

And my favorite acoustic song on the night, is The Dead's first ever version of the Mel Tillis number called "Sawmill" which contains the great lyric: "Women like a dollar, Women like a dollar/Yes and Women always will."  Amen Brother!  Here is the original I found on Youtube:

They also cover Bill Monroe's version of "The Old, Old House" (which is wrongly titled "Bound in Memories" on archive...maybe I should let them know), here is a decent version by the East Dixie Boys, not sure who they are, but it is a good pickin' tune.

Pigpen also gets into the act with his classic cover of Lightning Hopkins "Katie Mae"

The second set really shows off Bobby Weirs powerful vocals.  I will admit it, Bobby is the Dead member that I bust on the most, but while his guitar playing and short jorts can be debated, his voice can not.  Here, at only about 23 he sounds fantastic, aged yet smooth, Weir posses a great singing style....and that dam goofy smile, I kid I kid...Nice singing Bob.
  One last thing...I love Phil jumping in with this classic line regarding their arrest:
"Obedience to the Law is the Only True Freedom"    
Now that should be a bumper sticker.  Enjoy the show...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Glide Review - Dinosaur Jr. Live 1/16/10

Caught my current favorite group live in my current favorite venue a few Saturday's ago with some of my favorite people...Got a review up on Glide.  To say I was excited for this show would be an understatement...this was "Just Like Heaven" (even though they didn't play that)

You can read the full review right c'here!!

Here is a video of the show opener "Thumb" which was one of the best songs of the night:

G-d D-mn J can play a wicked g-tar!!!

I had a blast hanging out with Jeff and Charlette at this concert, we were banging around (not standing still like the crowd in front)and simply LOVING the audio onslaught from a position on the balcony just behind where this video was taken....amazing stuff.

As a major treat NYC Taper was nice enough to record the whole show!  You can download it and listen for yourself.  What do you think of the trio in the live environment?  Go get the Show, Now, HERE!   

Needless to say this band is amazing... for those who like guitar rock of any ilk and have somehow slept on them, pick up their back catalog.  All of the albums hold some treats, but You're Living All Over Me, Bug and the two newest Beyond and Farm are the places I would start....Or better yet come to see them with me next time they are in town, you got first beer.

And for twiddles and diddles one more video from the show:

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back in the Dead Saddle Again...

Hey there peoples, I took last Monday off from posting a Grateful Dead show, because I was gloriously on vacation.  Took some time-out in the great state of Florida on it's gulf coast; soaking up some rays some rum runners and some great novels.
So for today's show I am mentally going to go back to sunny F.L.A.   Granted it is the east-side with this gem from Miami 1974, but this is a whale shark of a show and hell Miami's close enough and a ton warmer then this windy New York City.  This show is so big though it makes up for a week off... 

You can listen to the full show here on this Embedded Player or you can go over to the archive and check it out there, full setlist is below with some highlights:

The first highlight of this recording (and the first set) is how in sync and tight the vocals are for the fellas and one lady.  Singing was an incredibly underrated aspect of the Dead and starting with Working Mans Dead the group made a concerted effort to improve their vocal stylings.  Once we get past some audio difficulties the band was experiencing you can hear the harmonies at work on "Mississippi Half Step", "Jack Straw" (a personal favorite) and Jerry's aching voice on "Row Jimmy" and a super "Cumberland Blues" again all of this is in the first set!

This set also contains the Grateful Dead's only known performance of Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock":

 Though Garcia loved the tune so much he did play it during his solo outings.

The second set's anchor is the "Dark Star Jam>Spanish Jam>US Blues"  a blissful combo and the main reason why I picked this FLA show today.  My old roommate had an AUD tape of this that was good, but when this trio was released on the So Many Roads box set my ears were freshly blown.  This is some of the jazziest interplay the fellas ever threw down and an all time must hear for any Dead fan new or old that want to listen to great music for about 32 minutes (longer then some full length albums).     

In the Dark Star Jam (they never get around to the lyrics), Jerry's lead is fine, but the interplay going on just below him is The Jelly; linking snare runs and cymbal rides, twinkling keys and well timed bass entrances critically connecting all parts moving things along before they start freaking the f out (in a good way) around the 10 minute mark.  At the 15 minute mark you can hear some bass drops and a snare, Phil and Billy getting ready to start the Spanish proceedings.  I am a sucker for a good "Spanish Jam", taking the spirit of Miles Davis "Solea" from Sketches of Spain and tye-dying it up Dead style is a win/win in this Mick's music book.  This version is pure Boosh, and even has a metal flair with Jerry going to town on Wolf, Phil dropping low end and some distorted gremlins messing with the sound.  Things clean up and then get rollicking with "US Blues" while Keith friskily bangs those ivories; Loud Keith ='s Good Keith and he is the MVP on this version of a classic tune that Dead Heads seem to sour on, not me, and not the receptive crowd at Jai-Alai.         

I could go on all day with this one but I won't, go have a listen and enjoy for yourself.
Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, FL 
Set 1
Ramble On Rose
Black Throated Wind
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
Beat It On Down The Line
Row Jimmy
Jack Straw
Let It Rock
Cumberland Blues
El Paso
To Lay Me Down
Weather Report Suite Prelude ->
Weather Report Suite Part ->
Let It Grow ->
China Doll


Set 2
Jam ->
Ship Of Fools
Big River
Black Peter
Around And Around
Dark Star Jam->
Spanish Jam ->
U.S. Blues
Uncle John's Band ->
One More Saturday Night

Casey Jones