Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Dead 10-17-1983 Let's go to the lake...

Well it was a tough soccer weekend for the US and England for that matter, as both were eliminated, and while there should be instant replay on questionable goals, neither team can complain too much about the outcome's as neither looked all that sharp.  Well what is needed on this Monday is some soothing music, and a look to happy USA sporting events wouldn't hurt, so lets combine the two. We venture north today to the location of perhaps the USA's most iconic national sporting moment, Lake Placid:

This is the first time I am dipping into 1983, maybe the only, so I am doing so with a bang.  While it wasn't a career year for the band I do think this is the best show the boys played during '83 and is certainly worth your time.  Lean back as we present 10-17-1983, click that link or stream the full show right c'here:

Playing in a epic venue the boys took to the stage 3 years after the USA Men's Hockey team stunned the world with it's Miracle on Ice and beat the mighty Russians.  
This recording is almost perfect with up front vocals clear playing and pumping low-end.  Really a great job done by all who contributed to the sprucing up of the recording, there are no faults to be found.  The Dead waste absolutely ZERO time in getting into some epic territory.  The highlight of this whole show is the opening enchantment of "Sugaree".  At almost 17 minutes it comes and sticks around awhile, and while other great versions of the song seem to lazily swirl along, this one finds Garcia inventive on the axe, squirreling in multiple notes and taking the song into uncharted waters.  This is a version all fans and non fans alike should get down with.     

Bobby is playing some piercing slide on "Little Red Rooster" screaming out from your speakers, before the second highlight of the night strolls out with fantastic live rendition of "Friend of the Devil".  Easily one of the Grateful Dead's most iconic tunes, but also one of the rare examples of their studio work outshining their live performance, as rarely has a version come close to the American Beauty original recording. "FotD" usually is a bit underwhelming when the boys tackled it on stage, but during Brent's era with the band their are some standout versions, and this is one of them.  With it's easy opening that sounds like a different tune, followed by the excellent vocals and Brent's twinkling, almost harpsichord solo before Jerry's ranging runs, it is a version worth absorbing.      

The rare "My Brother Esau" which debuted earlier in the year shows up and Bobby makes it through while "Shadowboxing with the Apocalypse".  "Birdsong" then flutters in on Brent's twinkling ivories, Garcia's wandering lines and some well timed popping from Phil.  This version is a bit sped up but not too quick and does stick around a bit, really some excellent playing.  A tight and quick "Hell in a Bucket" is paired with an aggressive "Deal" to close out an exceptionally great first set that has some real high spots, and 3 contenders for "best ever" conversations with the "Sugaree" "Friend of the Devil" and "Birdsong" all thanks to this guy:
 The second set starts off with "Touch of Grey" which is a year and a month old, and would surprisingly rocket up the charts in just 5 short years...such a strange history with this tune which I will get into more during another post, but this is a fun version that strums along at a brisk pace and while Jerry's voice maybe a bit out of sorts, it is a fun ride.  Next is an explosive "Samson and Delilah" which would have melted the ice that the American Boys played on 3 years earlier.  Really cooking with fire from the Bay Area band here and then they go and do a mini bust out of "To Lay Me Down" which hadn't been played in over 2 years.  While I do love this song and this version is pristine, I think it's placement is a bit off and would have worked better if the band waited until post "Drums>Space" slot for this ballad.  

"Man Smart Woman Smarter" gets the energy ramped back up and Jerry again is blazing hot before the monster known as "Terrapin Station" rumbles out.  "Terrapin" has always been a favorite of mine, while I know other fans are upset because versions are the same show to show, I think it is a grand and beautiful song that was played sparingly enough that it remained a special treat when busted out.  Jerry here and there messes up some lyrics, but it is still a fine version, I particularly like Brent's tone and playing on this one.

This winner of a show contains my favorite way that the band commonly came out of "Space" with "The Wheel".  The early strains can be picked up from any of the spacey voyages the band was on, and it acts in uniting the crowd and band as one exhilarating force.
Heads who were in attendance all commented on the human wheel that was circling around the venue when this was played, and it is a wonderful version, I love the riffs Garcia plays with starting around the 6 minute mark which bleed into "I Need A Miracle".  Bobby leads the boys through a mega "Miracle" here firing hard and blues heavy, in fact it feels like they want to stay in the blues vein before abruptly switching towards their old Folky ways via "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad".  Brent again shines this time on an organ, and the mood is livened before the set closing "Good Lovin'" which finds Bobby speaking his mind and the encore of "Revolution" as an ode to The Beatles:

Enjoy the best show of 1983, a truly Gold Medal worthy performance.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Funday

After one of the great finishes in world cup history...
 We find ourselves on the eve of the biggest soccer match ever for this country, you really need to watch this video, and get pumped for the match tomorrow.

Come on boys, we are cheering you on.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Grateful Dead - 3-28-1969

Actually will be spending the morning listening to the amazing danah boyd speak on youth and social media, so it will be a fun and productive Monday AM. 
(CD cover art found here on Flickr)
But I won't leave without a show, and today we dip back into 1969 for some magic with 2-18-1969 which found the Dead Playing Modesto College in CA.  Listen to it by clicking on the date, or listen to the full show right c'here:

This show's a fun one and since youth was the topic of the speech I heard today, how about we hit up a ripping "Good Morning Little School Girl" to start things off.  The band was all ready playing when the tapes were rolling, but that doesn't kill the vibe at all. There are a couple of recordings on the Archive, but I think this version is the best.

Pigpen starts off super loud during "School Girl", but by the "Dark Star" the levels work out nicely, and holymoley it's just in time as this is a fun sonic adventure.  The cosmic crusaders where all over the map of deepest darkest space here with Captain Trips leading the way.
Some of the early "Dark Stars" are quick jaunts, but '69 showed the band slowing down and exploring the outer reaches with the tune and this is an excellent psychedelic version.

I am a bit short on time, so I will just point out some of the other highlights.  "Death Don't Have No Mercy" is a beast, as is "The Eleven" some great singing in the first and playing in the second.  Garcia is really the MVP here.  I am not a fan of the super long "Lovelight" but otherwise this is a great slice of Grateful Dead entering their 60's prime during the last year of the decade, enjoy, and feel free to share your thoughts.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Album Review - Band of Horses - Infinite Arms

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:
Band of Horse’s
Infinite Arms

**** out of *****

Have you ever had a gimlet to start a night of festivities during a summer gathering with friends, loved ones and a few strangers mixed in?  That gimlet is what Infinite Arms feels like; refreshing and enjoyable to start, that influx of lime and booze dropkicks the senses.  Soothing and easy as it progresses, brightening the surroundings even as the sun recedes.  In the end it has hit the spot, quenched the nerves yet lit that social fire; you are ready for the night to commence.

All three of Band of Horses albums have been unique; Infinite Arms is their mellowest offering so far and probably contains the least amount of standout songs, yet in the end may be their most cohesive full album offering.  The highest points come at the start and then the album coasts along.  “Factory” and “Compliments” are the two of the best tracks setting the bar high with their pristine production, horns on the first and driving guitars on the second.  “Laredo” possesses transitional lyrics matched by both clean and fuzzy six-strings over a strong back beat and comes before the album settles into some slower tracks that rely on Ben Bridwell’s fantastic vocals.

The voices are the true highlight on any Band of Horses albums, with perfect harmony’s expansive range and somber inflection.  For my money they are the best vocal band in rock and roll, so good that they add gravitas to simple lyrics; reminiscent of David Byrne. They have the ability to take the plain and inject beauty and meaning; elevating the everyday.

Take the closing lines to “Bluebeard”: “Find another way, try to break the ice/Every day and night, the banana peels were true, true”.  Written they are nonsense, but when sung by Bridwell and company something happens.  That’s not to say all the lyrics are meaningless, in fact, it wouldn’t be shocking to find that this is a loose concept album.  Homes, or at least passing residencies, are centerpieces of multiple tracks, the title song “Infinite Arms” sounds like it was sung and recorded on a back porch in the woods.  The specter of departing lover hovers on the outskirts of most songs as well creeping in and tugging at heartstrings.

Music, vocals and lyrics link up so effortlessly that it almost tips the album towards too polished, but before the sun sets, Infinite Arms tosses out the pounding drums and hints at a new beginning with “Northwest Apartment” and the glorious piano closing of “Bartles + James”.  All at once ending and yet transcending one of the albums of the year.        

A couple of more thoughts and a bunch of videos after the jump....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Billy Club Sandwich - Live 6-12-10 Santos Party House NYC - Pics and Video

This blog seems to be a bit hippy heavy lately with all the Monday Dead posts, so lets get Hardcore.  Hardcore Metal and Hip Hop are the fires where my fragile musical mind was formed, and I do love dipping back into the heat especially for some good friends, and Billy Club Sandwich are just that.
I have been friends with the group since 1995 and while I haven't attended a ton of shows lately I always love to see Glen, Martin, Havana and Muttley.  Hopefully I will be doing some more stuff with the NYHC stalwarts on future shows and releases, but until then go buy an album over at Dead City and enjoy some videos and pictures I took from from Saturday's Show @ Santos.
"Chin Music"

Metal and stink Eye Indeed Phil and Don...
oh and if you were wondering I didn't stick around for Underdog, it had been a long soccer day. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Dead From London 3-21-1981

Well the USA pulled out a draw with our old mother country England this weekend in the opening match of the World Cup.  Green couldn't handle Clint Dempsey's shot so we got what basically amounts to a win for us, and both squads looked poised to advance now. 
 So today for the Monday Dead series I am grabbing a show from London Town.  It is from 3-21-1981, you can listen to it via that link or stream it right c'here:

This is a soundboard recording that gives you crystal clear audio.  It is impressive, so much so that you may think it was a studio recording.   This show is from the Rainbow Theater in North London, the venue has quite a history, and while now it is a church, I am pretty sure some Dead Heads saw God on this night.
The recording puts the vocals directly in the forefront of this show, with Bobby and Jerry singing right in your ear and after some levels are played with during "Alabama Getaway" the music comes in fresh, with a heavy dose of Brent and a bit low level of Phil and the low end, but overall a clean listen. 

The segue of "Me and My Uncle" and Johnny Cash's "Big River" twinkle along with energy and set up an excellent and fairly unique pairing of "Tennessee Jed">"Little Red Rooster".  This starts the highlight of the show for me as the end of the first set contains some unique pairing and playing.  A growling Garcia leads a great stroll through TJ, lazily plucking and strumming before the blues of LRR come bounding out via Bobby's slide guitar.  Maybe not quite up to the Howlin' Wolf original but a hell of an effort...

There is a bit of sound quality drop in "Little Red Rooster" we get an audience patch briefly, but I don't mind it is good to hear the audience chime in after an awesome solo.   

"Althea" comes next and I think this was the perfect early 80's song for the band.  It has a great groove, fantastic lyrics and lends itself for some solo styling, and this version is great.  It is always a pleasure to hear when it is done well and this version certainly is as Phil comes alive dropping some unique bass lines while the drumming duo step up too.  Then we get a big time "Let It Grow" Phil has been fully turned up here blasting away, and the end gets a bit spacey, ala "Playing In The Band".  Then they end the set with a usual opening pairing of "China Cat Sunflower">"I Know You Rider", Great Stuff here as the band is hitting on all cylinders (Check out the Motoring going on right around the 4:20 Mark of CCS) before the set break, almost makes you wish they kept it going.

When they came out for of the break, they pulled out another favorite of mine, "Jack Straw" and this a rollicking version.  Things get a bit slower with one of my least favorite Jerry ballads (another pops up at the end of this set), "Ship of Fools" grinding out some of the energy, but the second set really focuses on "Estimated Prophet">"Eyes of The World".  Both contain some fine, if a touch sped up, experimenting before the "Drums>Space" singals the beginning of the end of the show.  "Not Fade Away" has some nice jamming , but then I have never been a fan of "Black Peter" which pops up before "One More Saturday Night".

Overall though this is a an excellent recording of a really great show, with the highlights coming mostly at the end of the first set, give it a listen.  Enjoy.      

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Fun Day World Cup Edition

The world cup is here and it should be an exciting month. Even Nobel Peace Prize winning Desmond Tutu is pumped check out the video here!   Yes, he is fired on up (did he say Yippee?!?!) and with good reason this is a great event... 

I will be watching as much as possible out and about with fans and friends, enjoying the spectacle...I will also be rooting on the good ole USofA in the 2nd revolutionary war tomorrow vs England:

Sam's Army better be in full swing.  Going to be a great game, and NYC is one of the best cities to take it all in.  Enjoy, and go Yanks:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
the Yanks are marching on! on! on!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Dead 1-20-1979 Buffalo, NY

So for this Monday in Dead-story we are hitting back to the winter of 1979.  We have had such beautiful weather today in the city, a cool morning going to 70 degrees this evening, I figured why not look to some of the coldest shows, Buffalo in January?  Safe to say it was freezing outside...but the playing in Shea's Theater was HOT, as this excellent recording.

Today's show is 1-20-1979 which can be found at that link or listen to it right c'here:

This is perhaps the best audience recording I heard of the fellas, this show is amazing, and you can see Charlie Miller commented that this has been remastered twice, but nothing has been lost from the sound, in fact a ton has been gained.  You get the full range of the band, a touch of the crowd, and the energy from the night leaks through everywhere.

A quick "Promised Land" opener gets the show going, but the magic really starts with the 12 minute "Sugaree".  This one has it all Jerry's high fret board wizardry backed tastefully by Bobby on slide and the easy drumming of Billy; a real highlight of this first set.  Feeling good in the laid back workouts finds "Peggy-O" in majestic form as well...Garcia was simply on this night. 
His playing and singing are really top notch and that is needed as this was a very stressful time in the bands history.  Supposedly this is the first night of Donna and Keith's break-up and while this must have been devastating for them as people the rest of the band seemed to grow a bit tighter.  Donna is not at this show, and honestly you can barely hear Keith, and with the quality of this recording it seems like he was absent.  While I know they both played shows with the Dead for the next two weeks (last show was 2/17) it seems like they checked out here mentally, the only time in the first set I hear him really contributing is during the late "Minglewood Blues" and he really only shows up for "Dark Star" in the second set.

That said though the group pulled together that much tighter with Captain Garcia driving the bus like no other... Really some fine axe work here, just peep the first sets "All Over Now" double solos that he pulls out, and I should also mention Bobby's slide playing on this night which is inventive and adds a lot to the songs, something he wasn't always known for.  Two of my favorite tunes end the first set with "Stagger Lee" and "Jack Straw" these versions aren't all time classics, Jerry forgets some lyrics, but they set the tone for a great second set.

A huge bombing of "I Need a Miracle" starts a blazing run of tunes, with the band propelling into the stratosphere with a huge second set, see that Mammoth skull on the poster?  It was a harbinger of the mammoth second set to come..."Too much of everything is just enough".

Bertha is a bit all over the place as you can tell the band is excited, when they immediately cowbell it up with some "Good Lovin'".  "Loser" makes a rare 2nd set appearance and is punctuated by Garcia's weeping notes before a big "Estimated Prophet" cruises into town.  This tune would really gain steam when Brent would soon join the band, but it is a fun ride here with it's warbling guitar flights...then begins the jelly with a sweet segue into..."The Other One" rumbling out into the Buffalo night with "Drums" and "Space" lurking in the wings.     
The "Jam Out of Space" is interesting here, but it acts more as an intro back into "The Other One" and I would have probably just called it "The Other One" if I was labeling this on a snazzy tape cover...
  After that brief dip back into "The Other One" we get the surprise of the set...."Dark Star" and what a surprise it is...the crowd goes nuts for this selection by the fellas.  Having been revived by the band in late 1978, this version has Jerry spazzing out with nice touches by Keith and Phil bombing along, getting freaky around the 8 minute mark.  A cool treat before segueing into a light and airy version of "Not Fade Away" and a rocking set closing  "Sugar Magnolia".  The encore of One More Saturday night is electric, like this pristine audience recording and must have sent the Buffalo deadheads away with a smile...a great show and a fun listen to hear just how dynamic Jerry can be on guitar during a transitional phase in the Dead's career.  Enjoy. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Album Review - The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever

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 Hold Steady
Heaven is Whenever
*** out of *****

Growing up…it can be a bitch or a joy, an adventure or a struggle, but it’s always tough to do, even (especially?) if you are a rock and roll band.  In the past, The Hold Steady have elevated Solo cup partying to the holy stature it deserves, yet even Craig Finn and company need to move on eventually.  They started on that journey with their last album Stay Positive and continue it here on Heaven is Whenever with various degrees of success; basically they are still finding their footing.

Instead of blasting out of the gate with their patented rocking opener, the band throws a slide guitar ballad curve-ball with “Sweet Part Of The City” which remembers fonder past days with a wistful sigh.  Days gone by are the focus throughout, but the longing for them is slowly leaving Finn’s voice, and that in itself has changed.  Finn expands his vocal range, singing more on Heaven is Whenever then he ever has in the past.  One trend that the group continues is their love of massive disk closers with “A Slight Discomfort”.  The Hold Steady pile up rising strings, cricket noises and simple piano parts for over 7 minutes ending the disk as graciously as they opened it.

With the departure of keyboardist Franz Nicolay, the group sounds more streamlined; there is less of a focus on pianos and bombast, making the E-Street analogies harder to draw.  Stripped down with minimal frills (for them) and focusing on the meaty guitars have the group sounding tight as ever but some of the songs seem to be jogging in place instead of racing triumphantly to the dawn.

While Finn can weave a tale as well or better then anyone in rock today, he sounds a bit tired on “Soft In The Center” with the chorus of “You can’t get every girl/You’ll love the ones you get the best”.  He lets us know he’s gone through that too, but not with any conviction, advice or real desire.  The album doesn’t seem to have any standouts on the level of past winners from the group (all though “Our Whole Lives” comes pretty close), but even judging it on its own, the story teller narrating Heaven is Whenever seems to have grown weary.  Check out “Rock Problems” and “The Smidge” for the new age grumpy old man telling the kids to get off their internet and onto his lawn so he can sing to them proper.  Because of this the slower songs work better, such as “We Can Get Together” which seems heartfelt in its desire to well, get together, and spend some quality time listening to records with the one you love.

Is this the last call on that monster bar band that was The Hold Steady? Who knows but it will be very interesting as to what the next morning brings for this band.                

More thoughts and videos after the jump:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Acoustic Grateful Dead to kick off summer 9-30-1980

Hope everyone had a happy Memorial Day Weekend, welcome to summer...we made it.  I attended a good friends lovely wedding up in Syracuse and got to experience some beautiful weather but today it is back to the desk.  It is an easy Monday (OK it's Tuesday but it is the first day of the work week so play along and Friday will arrive that much quicker...) so let's just stroll into some excellent Acoustic Grateful Dead from the historic Warfield Theater Run in the Fall of 1980.
 Today's show is the first set from 9-30-1980, listen via that direct link or right c'here:

Acoustic Dead is just perfect for summer days, and we got a muggy one here in NYC, hopefully this will cool you down.  These acoustic sets from the Warfield and Radio City Music Hall in 1980 were all recorded and the best of the best would be released as the excellent Reckoning.  None of this sets songs made the cut, but that doesn't diminish the quality of both the recording and the notch on both counts.  It opens with Bobby a bit hyped up running through "On The Road Again" and "Monkey & The Engineer" and Jerry mellowing it out with "Jack A'Roe" and my personal favorite from this set, "Birdsong".
 An acoustic "Bird Song" is a thing of beauty, this tune has been played in a variety of fashions over the bands career, but it was not present during the late 70's and was a bust out at these shows.  It can be epic or it could be simple and sweet.  This version is just a joy, a real smile of a song, and a perfect tribute to a good friend of the band, Janis Joplin.

Next come a few folk standards, "Dark Hollow" was the first.  Here is a cool performance that has a young spry David Grisman pickin' away and Peter Rowan singing, Check out Muleskinner:

Then the Dead do "Rosalie McFalls", how about this live version by The Infamous Stringdusters?:

The Dead, having started as a folk band, are right at home with these hoedowns, especially in an acoustic setting.  They then give a Bob Weir original a run through, and while I never cared too much for the lyrical version, these acoustic instrumental versions of "Heaven Help The Fool" are a joy to hear and this airing is no different. 

"China Doll" is eerie and haunting with it's harpsichord instrumentation and Jerry's cracking voice, but on this performance the backing vocals overpower the proceedings and take a bit of the sting out of it.  "Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie" works better with Jerry's world weary singing, and easy playing and what needs to be said about one of the simplest, picture perfect songs ever written..."Ripple", Enjoy.