Saturday, May 31, 2008


Yours truly was interviewed for the Talking Metal podcast recently, and the episode has just been posted. The main topics of discussion: Black Sabbath's Black Box (the box set collecting every studio album from the original Ozzy Osbourne/Tony Iommi/Geezer Butler/Bill Ward lineup), and AC/DC's 1985 album Fly On The Wall. Both of which I contributed liner notes to. Ken Pierce of the metal website Piercing Metal was also on the show. Basically, we all went out for pizza, rolled tape and talked about metal. It was a great time.

The Talking Metal guys, Mark Strigl and John Ostronomy, also host the Talking Metal show on Fuse. Fuse should keep these guys around, the show is a lot of fun.


I just got back from The Raconteurs show - thier first of three sold out concerts at New York's Terminal 5. (I need to start bringing my digital point-and-click to these shows, but I'm always afraid it will get taken away).

Anyway, they were great. I saw them a few years ago in an arena opening for Bob Dylan, and I was a bit disappointed. But it must be hard to play for a half-empty arena and maybe only half of those people are interested.

But tonight, they owned the stage all night. I'm sure every indie blog will be analyzing every minute of the show and posting a setlist: I didn't take notes, I just took it all in and really dug it. Although they only have two short (and sweet) albums, they stretched the songs out in interesting ways that never seemed meandering or self-indulgent. One thing is for sure: they aren't a Jack White side project, they are really a great band. Having listened to the band a lot in the past few days, I've decided to revisit some of my Brendan Benson records.

It occured the me that there's nothing "alternative" or "indie" about the band. They are a great blues-based rock and roll band. Not metal, not punk, not a jam band (although they can jam), not blues traditionalists (although they know their blues). Just a great rock and roll band. They could have come out of the '60s or '70s. I highly recommend both of their albums (Consolers Of The Lonely will surely be in my top 10, or 5, of '08) and also I'd say they are well worth the money if you see them perform.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Last night, I wrote about two upcoming archival live Neil Young releases - Toast and Harvest Moon Live. They were both listed on Today, neither of them are. Toast has been written about in Neil's own NY Times. And I doubt that an Amazon employee was hoping for a release of a live recording of the songs from Harvest Moon and dreamed up a release. There must be a reason that these album releases were posted. On the other hand, there's been who knows how many release dates for The Archives over the past 15 years or so. 

In other Neil news, his Linc Volt documentary now has its own web site


A few years ago, while working for Video Hits 1, I had the opportunity to interview ?uestlove of The Roots. I don't remember what the topic was (I don't think it was about their new album, I think it may have been about Dave Chappelle).  I think it was supposed to be a 15 minute thing, but it went on until my 90 minute tape ran out. It was one of the most fun and interesting interviews I ever had the privilege to conduct.  Not that I'm taking credit for anything, the guy is just so interesting. 

Anyway, I just read an especially great interview with him on a site called Backbeat, where he talks about everything from The Roots, to music critics and bloggers to record labels to Al Green's awesome new album which he produced (and which I need to write more about) to the possibility of producing Tom Jones' next album.  Anyway, check it out here

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


So the Neil Young documentary that Jonathan Demme directed has a name. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it's going to be called The Neil Young Trunk Show. But who knows when it will come out. It will probably have to wait for the Crosby Stills Nash & Young doc Deja Vu, and his documentary Linc-Volt

Meanwhile, I just found out that on July 8, there will be not one but TWO archival Neil releases: one is Toast, which I wrote about. But there will also be a Harvest Moon Live album. Presumably from the solo acoustic tours Neil did before the album came out, when he played most of the album, to the chagrin to the classic rock fogies in the audience. I saw one of those infamous shows at the Beacon Theater, and I remember being blown away by how great some of the songs were, particularly "From Hank To Hendrix" and "Unknown Legend." I can't wait to hear this. 


I've heard rumors that Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band will be touring some more in the fall. No big surprise: the shows on this tour have supposedly been incredible, and I figured Bruce would want to be on the road with his A team during the election season. I wouldn't expect to hear an announcement of it until after the Giants Stadium dates - since they are still not yet sold out. 

There are rumors that this might really be their last tour. The death of Danny Federici must have hit all of them really hard. But the great indie rock blog Product Shop NYC writes that Max Weinberg may retire from the road after this tour ends. It would be sad if they really called it a day, but at least they'd be going out on top, how many bands can say that? How many bands of guys in their 50s and 60s can say that? 


Rolling Stone reports that Trey Anastasio is considering reuniting Phish. I was never a big fan of the band, but I respect what they accomplished: they became a cultural phenomenon, and they did it on their own terms. It's sad that Trey has struggled with drugs in the past few years - and I'm not talking friendly ones either - I hope he's defeated his demons.  He's a talented guy. And even though I'd rather see an Oysterhead reunion (the band he did with Les Claypool of Primus and Stewart Copeland of The Police), a Phish reunion would make an awful lot of people happy. 


Somehow I neglected to write about a "new" live Doors album, Live In Pittsburgh 1970, recorded on their last tour. I have to check it out. 

In other news, supposedly there's a new Doors bio-pic in the works, ostensibly the make people forget the one that Oliver Stone did about 20 years ago. I know that the surviving band members hated the movie, but it did re-ignite interest in the band. And Val Kilmer was a good choice for Jim Morrison

Two former members of the band are still touring as a Doors tribute band, but I won't get into that. Props to drummer John Densmore for not going along with it. 


The Smashing Pumpkins have announced that they are going to be doing some "special shows" this year to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Of course, "The Smashing Pumpkins" is really whoever Billy Corgan says it is: original drummer Jimmy Chamberlain and whoever else he hires. Like his post-Pumpkins band, Zwan

Supposedly, Billy played all of the guitars and basses on most of the Pumpkins records anyway. But I think people weren't really buying the Pumpkins reunion last year. 

Billy Corgan is a weird case. He never seemed to fit in the mainstream or in the indie/alternative world. When I saw the Pumpkins headlining Lollapalooza, Billy made an ass of himself, yelling at fans, mocking their backwards baseball hats, etc. Fair enough, but the dude had attended the festival, he knew what he was getting into. You don't sell tens of thousands of tickets a night without attracting that crowd. At the same time, he was never really accepted by the snobs, and he always bore a chip on his shoulder for it. After taking years of crap for not being "punk" enough, or some nonsense, he decided to do a flat-out arena rock DOUBLE album inspired by Boston and Queen, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.  Really good album, if a bit long. It brought the band from the club to the arenas. That made him uncomfortable, so then he did a left-field electronic based album, Adore. He took a risk, and it paid off with lots of great songs. But he was criticized for not being "rock" enough, and his response was Machina, which almost seemed like he was punishing people with a metal album that was fueled by his temper but not much else. 

But Zwan bored me, and I didn't like his solo record either, and I didn't hear most of the Pumpkins "reunion" album. Still, I think that he could do another great album, or at least a few more great songs. 


England's Telegraph newspaper has an interesting story asking if fidelity has died with the CD. While people will pay good money for HDTV or for cameras with the most pixels, crappy sounding mp3s seem to be ok, especially if they are downloaded for free. It's an interesting article. Check it out here


In a recent telephone press conference, Alicia Keys mentioned that she hopes to collaborate with The White Stripes

Man, that would be a great collaboration. Alicia and the Stripes are two of my favorite artists of the late '90s/'00s. I'd love to see what they come up with. I wonder how she and Jack White would get along in the studio. 

For now, I'm excited to see Jack with The Raconteurs this Friday night. But that would be a cool next project for him. And Alicia as well. 

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Aimee Mann's new album, Smilers, comes out in two weeks. Of course I'll pre-order it, but still I couldn't help buying the first single, "Freeway," on iTunes. It's another classic. I'll write more about the album after I've had some time to listen to it.

But I saw her over the summer, performing some of the songs from the album, I was digging them. The sonic theme of this album is "no electric guitars." As Aimee said, "The electric guitar is shit outta luck on this one."

Aimee's friend and sometimes collaborator, Elvis Costello, has a new album with his rock band, The Imposters, Momofuku. I'm not one of those people who adore everything he's done, but the one song from the album that I bought, "American Gangster Time," is pretty great. I've liked lots of Elvis's rock stuff over the past few years, especially the song "45."

Mudhoney has a new album, The Lucky Ones, which may be a sarcastic reference to their fortunes, compared to some other Seattle bands. Then again, the Mudhoney guys are still alive and rocking. I dug some of the songs from their last album, Under A Billion Suns, and the one before that, Since We've Become Translucent. It's like, they're putting out some great music, but no one is really noticing.


It's really sad when someone who seemed to have kicked drugs falls off the wagon. But today, lots of websites were reporting that Steven Tyler checked into rehab. There's been rumors for a long time that he'd fallen off. Whatever. I'm glad he at least checked in, and hopefully he'll defeat his demons and live to rock another day. The last Aerosmith album, Honkin' On Bobo, which was mostly old blues and R&B covers, was a great album and saw him in great form.


Lemmy has been celebrated with an action figure, but some guys have decided to go deeper with a documentary on the Motorhead frontman.

See the trailer at I wouldn't say that Lemmy is "unsung," but he definitely doesn't get the credit he deserves. I know that Metallica will be getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame one of these days, and they deserve it. But Motorhead should get in first.


This summer, LL Cool J will be releasing his Exit 13 album. It's going to be his final album for Def Jam Records. Somehow this is making me feel a bit old: he was the first artist signed to the label, and he's spent his entire career there. Of course, today's Def Jam doesn't really resemble the pioneering label of the '80s that really brought hip-hop to the, as they say, "next level."

I remember hearing that this album was going to be executive produced by 50 Cent. I wonder if that's still the case. Whatever. You've got to give it to L: no one in hip-hop has had an enduring career the way he has. Say what you want about his recent stuff, or his movies, or anything else he's done, no one in hip-hop has had his longevity.


That's one of the funnier headlines I've been able to come up with. Sonic Youth, of course, are not really what you'd call a "hits" group. Still, they have some great songs, and some of the more accessible ones are going to be collected on a Starbucks compilation, Hits Are For Squares. The slant on this is that a bunch of their famous fans - like Eddie Vedder, Mike D, Portia diRossi and Flea - each chose their favorite song and wrote about it. But a lot of the more well-known songs, like "Bull In The Heather," "Expressway To Yr. Skull," "100%" and their cover of The Carpenters' "Superstar" are all on it.

I first saw Sonic Youth when they were on an arena tour opening for Neil Young & Crazy Horse; Social Distortion were also on the tour. Sonic Youth were so abrasive to Neil's fans (and, according to the book Shakey, also to Neil's crew), but they were great. They just had such a "F- you" to them, I liked it. I got their Daydream Nation, but it took me a while to get into. My favorite album by them is Washing Machine. I saw them perform songs from that album a few times before it came out in the summer of 1995 when they were headlining Lollapalooza, and I was blown away. Then, they did two shows in one day at New York's Academy, I went to both and they were great. I haven't been as into too much of their music since then (although I did like some of the stuff I heard from their last album, Rather Ripped), but I will always respect them.


A while back, when VH1 announced that this year's Rock Honors ceremony would only be honoring The Who, I hoped that they would get artists who are worthy.

Turns out they did: Pearl Jam, The Foo Fighters and The Flaming Lips are all on the bill, with more to be named later. I'd like to suggest The Raconteurs if they're available.

Anyway, I will be tuned in on July 17.


Rod Stewart has done very little cool music in the past 30 years. That said, you can't really knock his early career: his stuff with The Jeff Beck Group, The Faces, and his first eight albums were all pretty great.

Still there are fewer artists with a wider margin of space between thier cool stuff and thier uncool stuff. Just my opinion but who else is as disappointing?

On the other hand, he always seems to be enjoying the ride he's on, so who am I to complain about it? I wasn't really feeling his Great American Songbook series of albums, although I thought there was some good stuff on his recent album of '70s mellow rock covers, Still The Same. And he's made his label - J Records - millions of dollars in just a few years, when few of his peers (or anyone else) was putting out multi-platinum albums once a year.

So, I'm reading this little feature on him in the new Rolling Stone, and he mentions that his next album will be the fifth (and final) Great American Songbook album, and he also wants to do an album of old R&B classics and then a country album. But the label doesn't want him doing a country album. He said, "Apparently, the idea didn't 'test' well, whatever the fuck that means." I'd love to be a fly on the wall when some marketing and research guy explains to Rod Stewart what kind of albums he should be making. And would it really be a stretch for the guy who sang "Maggie May," "The First Cut Is The Deepest" and "Handbags and Gladrags" to do a country album?


I don't know if this will compare with Jack Black's duet with Cee-Lo Green (from Gnarls Barkley) on "Kung Fu Fighting." But it's funny. Jables, along with Ben "Mr. Furious" Stiller and Robert "Iron Man" Downey Jr. last night collaborate with a holographic Gladys Knight (from like 30 years ago, by the looks of it) on American Idol, on, of course, "Midnight Train To Georgia." You can buy it on iTunes, or see it probably all over YouTube. The three of them are co-starring in a movie directed by Stiller, Tropic Thunder, which looks hilarious.

I think that this movie thing is cute, but I'm glad to also report that Jack's day job - TENACIOUS D - is playing a few festival gigs in Europe this summer. Hopefully they'll be doing some stateside shows at some point too.

By the way, the Gladys thing was a bit weird. I've seen the holographic thing done with Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, who are no longer with us. But Gladys is still alive. So that was kind of weird. But still funny.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


School of Rock is one of my favorite movies ever. Is it the most sophisticated film ever? Maybe not. Is it realistic? Um... maybe not? But all I know is that I smile throughout the entire thing every time I see it.

I think it captures the love for music that lots of us have. I don't play an instrument, and I've never been in a band, but I relate to the love. And there's something weirdly moving about watching the kids form the band and then play really well.

One of my favorite parts is actually during the credits, where Jack Black and the kids are rocking out to AC/DC's "It's A Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock And Roll." I've read that the scene was mainly freestyled, and it shows. It's a lot of fun.

One problem. Jack Black gives a solo and a shoutout to every member of the band except for the bass player, Katie. Jack? Cello! You wouldn't have forgotten John Entwistle, would you? Would you diss Paul McCartney like that? So, here's a shout out to Katie, played by real life musician Rebecca Brown. I'm not hating on my man Jables, though. I've already predicted that he will own not just the movie charts, but the pop charts this summer. But when Ms. Brown releases her debut, you owe her one: write her bio, or better yet, have Tenacious D open for her!

(EVEN) MORE ZEPPELIN RUMORS (thankfully, these ones have nothing to do with white snake)

Rolling Stone (where I got this image from) says that Much Music has reported that Led Zeppelin will be doing four shows in Canada this summer. But I don't see any reports on the site about it, maybe they took them down already.

Hard to imagine Zeppelin wouldn't do any U.S. dates, but I wouldn't give too much creedence to this rumor anyway. And I'm really looking forward to seeing Robert Plant and Alison Krauss next month.

These rumors get annoying after a while, but at least david coverdale's band have nothing to do with this one.


I'm glad that Nas isn't going to be using "The N-word" for the title of his new album. Announcing that as the title got him a lot of hype, but I don't think it has ultimately done him any good. I read a few interviews with him and he seemed to have a different explanation for using the word in each interview. And none of them seemed to be great explanations. But he's one of hip-hop's most enduring MCs and I just didn't think it was a great move. Bottom line: you do something like that, and you have to have a bullet-proof reason why, and I don't think he did. Or if he did, he didn't express it well. Still, I thought his last album, 2007's Hip-Hop Is Dead was a solid album, and I hope this one is as good.


One of the (relatively) newer bands that I can't shut up about is The Hold Steady. I just think they're great. I'm really looking forward to their next album, Stay Positive. They are streaming the first single "Sequestered In Memphis" on their MySpace page. Check it out.


Risky choice from The Abstract. Q-Tip's last two albums were shelved by record labels and remain commercially unreleased. So, hooking up with Nigel Godrich - the dude most well known for producing Radiohead, but he's also worked with Beck, Travis, Pavement and Paul McCartney - isn't the most commercial choice. You gotta respect Tip for sticking with his vision, damn the consequences.

It's good that Tip will be getting back in the public eye this summer by reuniting with A Tribe Called Quest for the Rock The Bells tour.


A blog owned by Variety magazine called The Set List is reporting that Martin Scorsese is no longer working on the Bob Marley doc, and that Jonathan Demme is taking over. The reason given was "scheduling reasons." It's well known that he is also working on a George Harrison doc.

The article also mentions that Demme is working on his second Neil Young doc. He did the great Heart Of Gold concert film a few years back, and he shot some of Neil's shows on his Chrome Dreams II tour last year. Nice work if you can get it!


The second version of Black Sabbath - which features singer Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinnie Appice and which now goes by "Heaven & Hell" - is about to get the box set treatment. Much like the original band's Black Box which came out in 2004 - and which yours truly had the honor of working on - this box will just contain remastered versions of their albums: 1980's Heaven & Hell, 1981's Mob Rules, 1982's live album Live Evil, and thier 1992 reunion album, Dehumanizer.

It's pretty amazing that this version of the band has proven so popular. The reunion was supposed to just be to record two new songs for The Dio Years collection, which led to a tour, which led to a live album, and now they are on the "Metal Masters" tour with Judas Priest, and apparently they are working on a "Heaven & Hell" studio album set for release in early 2009.

On one hand, I'm glad Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler have found something to do outside of Sabbath while Ozzy Osbourne is off doing his own career. On the other, I hope Sabbath does one last thing, I hope they don't get overshadowed by Heaven & Hell. I wonder what Ozzy - and Sharon - think about all this Heaven & Hell stuff.


I've written a lot about Tom Petty's reunited band Mudcrutch, but I haven't really mentioned much about the album. Let me rectify that.

It's awesome. Some have suggested that it's the best Tom Petty album "in years." (I never know what "in years" means. Two years? Ten?) I don't feel the need to quantify it like that. I liked Tom's solo album, Highway Companion, although I'll allow that it isn't classic from start to finish. I really dug the last Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album, The Last DJ, but I know that it wasn't a popular album. It actually made me proud to be a fan.

But on Mudcrutch, since it isn't a "Tom Petty" album, Tom is more laid back and relaxed than he has been in a long time. It really is an awesome album, and one of the best of the year for sure. I hope that they do a real tour at some point (real = play New York, not just California), and that they do more records in the future. Of course, if it becomes a regular thing, it may not be as loose, so maybe this album is just one great moment in time where a bunch of bandmates got back together and had a great time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The Foxboro Hot Tubs are, of course, Green Day. Everyone knew it, but a few weeks ago, the Green Day dudes came out of the closet, so to speak, with their poorly kept secret. Anyway, the album came out today and I will say that it is a very worthy $10. As you can see by the cover, it's very pre-hippie '60s, and I mean that in the best way.

Unlike Green Day's other alleged alias, The Network (which is supposedly members of Green Day and Devo), this album is actually yielding radio hits. I wonder if they expected it.

It's funny that two of my favorite albums of the year so far are by artists under other names: Green Day as Foxboro Hot Tubs and Tom Petty as Mudcrutch.


The Morning After Girls aren't really a new band, but I just discovered them. Of all places, in the gym. My gym has a video service that just plays random videos, most of which are awful. The Morning After Girls' "Run For Our Lives," however, is awesome. Great garage rock from Australia. Check them out.


In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, festival curator Anthony Kiedis says that at the end of thier last tour, The Red Hot Chili Peppers decided to take a year off.

Since guitarist John Frusciante rejoined in 1997, they've released three excellent albums, Californication, By The Way and the double album Stadium Arcadium. If they need some time apart before working together again, cool.

John put out like six solo albums between By The Way and Stadium Arcadium, so I imagine he'll do a bunch of solo stuff again. I know the second (and final) album by one of his other projects, Ataxia (featuring Joe Lally of Fugazi) comes out May 29.


(image from Backstreets) Last week I wrote about the great Mike Ness show I went to. The truth is, I didn't really want to go to that show. Mike was playing the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey a few days later, and that was the show that I wanted to go to. Bruce Springsteen is a well known Social Distortion fan, and he did a duet with Mike on "Misery Loves Company" from Mike first solo album, Cheating At Solitaire. Bruce is on break from the Magic tour, and I just figured he might show up. He did. I've been searching the web for photos or video: all I found was a 30 second clip of them finishing a song. But I guess there's something cool and old-school about that: literally, you had to be there. Ah, well, I had a great time at my show, maybe they'll do it again.


Yes, David Bowie has made some career moves that are, as the Brits say, "naff." Hi, Labyrinth!

But, happily, licencing his songs to a ballet won't be joining that club. Despite reports to the contrary, Bowie issued a statement on his website denying reports in The Sun saying that he would be collaborating with some Danish choreographer. Whew.

Now, for that reunion with the Glass Spider tour band and backing dancers...

I kid! I've seen every Bowie tour since his farewell tour in 1989, and other than the Outside tour, he's been awesome every time.


Yep, Courtney Love is reuniting with her former Faith No More bandmate Roddy Bottum. And yes you read that right: she was in the band for a minute, although she never recorded anything with them (to my knowledge, which isn't definitive).

I kind of lost interest in Courtney about the same time that she became a tabloid magnet, but that doesn't mean that Hole's Live Through This isn't a classic, because it is. In fact, Celebrity Skin is pretty good too. I did love her in the film The People Vs. Larry Flynt.

But so much has been written about her, I don't need to add to it. I just hope she makes another great album. Roddy Bottum is a musician with a lot of range - after all, he was in FNM and also Imperial Teen. Anyway, Ms. Love writes about the album at her MySpace page, but I often don't follow her writing, it's a bit long and very rambling.


I think it was kind of inevitable that Danger Mouse would end up producing a Beck album. I'm not as ga-ga over either artist as many seem to be, but I do have all of Beck's albums, and lots of stuff that Danger Mouse has worked on. This could be one of the best albums of the year. Supposedly it's got a '60s British psychadelia vibe to it. The first song is now streaming at Beck's web site.


I was surprised to read that Fuse will be broadcasting highlights from Bonnaroo. The festival seems so forward thinking, I didn't expect them to team up with a televison channel, even one as seemingly forward thinking as Fuse. Then again, they need to keep people interested in their festival during a time that festival attendence. According to this story, Coachella's attendence was down 30,000 people from last year - and they got a last minute attendence boost by adding Prince to the bill. Meanwhile, Stagecoach doubled in size in its second year. But Stagecoach has a defining charactertistic: it is a country music festival. All the other festivals are seeming more samey every year.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


This week, Metallica played a benefit concert to raise money for the Silverlake Conservatory Of Music, which is a non-profit founded by Flea to provide music lessons from great teachers at a reasonable price, making music lessons accessible to kids even if they aren't from rich families.

The gig was at a pretty small place with pretty high priced tickets, but lots of money was raised for a good cause. Metallica pretty much played older stuff, plus "Fuel." Flea jammed with them on one song, and he picked a classic - and one they don't do much - "Fight Fire With Fire." As usual, Metallica has posted the song for download ($10 for mp3, a bit more for FLAC) at thier download website Yes, all the money will also go to the Conservatory. Last year, Metallica did Neil Young 's annual Bridge School Benefit Concert, and posted those sets as well - which were pretty interesting, they included covers of Rare Earth's "I Just Want To Celebrate," Nazareth's "Please Don't Judas Me," Garbage's "Only Happy When It Rains," The Dire Straits' "Brothers In Arms" and Blue Oyster Cult's "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars."

People have long bitched about Metallica's Napster fight from a few years back, but offering fans live concert recordings for $10 is a cool deal (especially when the money goes to charities when appropriate).


OK, they've been around since 1999, but to me, Muse was a pretty new discovery. I'd read about them in British magazines over the years, and I kind of liked them, but thier 2006 album Black Holes And Revelations made me a fan.

I love that they have this kind of hipster cred, but they release singles with titles like "Knights Of Cydonia." They have a big Rush influence (I think they've listened to 2112 at least), but they're also clearly into U2, Queen and maybe even Jeff Buckley.

They have Rush-like chops, and the singer can hit the Freddie Mercury-type notes. And they also have a sense of humor. It's a good combination.

I don't endorse new bands too often, but this is one fairly recent discovery that I'm really into. HAARP is a live CD/DVD set - apparently, they're much bigger in England, as this was recorded at Wembley Stadium - but I'm looking forward to thier next studio album.


Like The Rolling Stones, Rush has a lot of live albums. Snakes & Arrows Live, which was recently released, is their eighth. A double live album that features live versions of many songs from their latest album, 2007's Snakes & Arrows (including "Far Cry," which is one of my favorite Rush songs ever), it also features a lot of classics. Most of them have already appeared on prior live albums.

Here's some of the tracks on the album: "Limelight" (it's 4th time on a live album), "Freewill" (4), "Between The Wheels" (3), "Dreamline" (4), "Subdivisions" (4), "Natural Science" (3), "Witch Hunt" (3), "Distant Early Warning" (4), "Spirit Of The Radio" (6!), "Tom Sawyer" (also 6!), "One Little Victory" (2), "A Passage To Bangkok" (3) and "YYZ" (5). I'm surprised they didn't include "Closer To The Heart," which has been on five live albums.

On the other hand, "Digital Man," "Entre Nous" and one of my favorites, "Circumstances," make thier first appearances on a live album.

So, do you need this album? Probably not. But I'm not you, and it's my belief that you can never have too many Rush albums, live or otherwise. If you think they're ripping off thier fans with all these live albums (a) you're wrong and (b) don't buy it. As I've said before, I'm excited that Rush is still working at all, after all Neal Peart has been through. Bottom line: I don't think it's a must-have - I wouldn't try to convince a Rush fan that they need to have this as I would a Stones fan with Shine A Light. And if you're looking to check out your first Rush live album, I'd probably point to (1) Exit ... Stage Left, (2) Different Stages and (3) All The World's A Stage.

Friday, May 16, 2008

JOHN RUTSEY 1953 -2008

Rush fans will recognize the name John Rutsey: he was the band's original drummer, and played on their self-titled debut album from 1974. I found this obit on the Rush fansite Power Windows:

"RUTSEY, John Howard - It is with deep sadness that John's family announces his untimely passing due to complications from his lifelong affliction with diabetes, at age 55. Donations may be made in John's memory to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 311, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2 (online:, by phone: 905-944-4631). Online Condolences: Published in the National Post on 5/15/2008."

Apparently, Rutsey left the band because of his diabetes, which would have caused problems on extended tours. He sort of dropped out of music, and at one point got into bodybuilding. Still, I wonder what it must be like when your ex-band comes to town to play a sold-out night at the local arena.

The first Rush album is really underrated in my opinion. They hadn't gotten "prog rock" yet, that came with drummer Neal Peart. The first album is a mostly underappreciated Zep-influenced garage rock gem. It really swung, and you can't swing without a solid drummer. Rest in peace John Rutsey.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Rolling Stone, who has a story titled "High Ticket Prices Could Hurt Concert Business." I'm a huge music fan, and I can't afford to go to all the local shows that I'd like to go to - prices are just insane these days. Add to that the fact that it now costs more because gas prices are through the roof, and how much it costs to park (many venues charge $10 or $20 to park, if you go to the city, you can easily pay twice that) ... concerts are just harder to afford these days.

Still, I'm planning on going to a bunch of shows this summer, but this might be my last summer going to lots of shows.


There are a lot of festivals going on this summer, but only one is being curated by Anthony Kiedis : American Eagle Outfitters New American Music Festival. On the bill: Bob Dylan, The Raconteurs, The Roots, Gnarls Barkley and a few others, but no Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don't know how "curated" it really is: all of these acts are on tour and are all playing other festivals anyway. But whatever, it sounds like fun. But here's hoping that the Chili Peppers get working on a new album sometime soon. Although I guess John Frusciante will probably want to release eight more solo albums, as he did between their last two albums.


OK, so even though I posted Dave Grohl's "Open Letter To Metallica," I kind of suspected that it might not have come from Dave. But it was so funny, I wanted it to be true. Anyway, he gave the real deal at the Foo Fighters' website.

"Hey Everybody, Just wanted to write a quick note to clear up this whole 'Open letter to Metallica' fiasco......For the record, I never 'wrote' anything to Metallica. I was asked by a journalist, at the end of a long interview (abut the Foo Fighters) to give a quick message to Metallica in the studio. So, I rattled that quote off the top of my head. No biggie, right? Somehow it became my 'open letter' to the band, and now it's been picked up by everyone from Blabbermouth to Rolling Stone (as if anyone really cares!). Now, it's true that I've been a loyal fan of this band for 25 years, and I can't wait to hear the new shit, but an 'open letter' to the band?!!?? Nah. Not my style. I'd rather just text 'em......
OK.......just needed to get that off my chest. Hope you guys are good. Thanks for coming out to the shows, they've been a blast. Only a few more before we crawl back into our cave and hibernate. It's gonna be a loooooong winter.......

It's crazy to me that someone could spend a lot of time with a cool dude like Dave for a legit interview, and then do him like that: taking stuff that he said in an interview and posting it on the web as an "open letter." Lame.

However, what probably is accurate is the band's tour rider, which has just shown up on the website Smoking Gun. Not a site that I frequent often, but the rider is so funny, referring to Dave as "The Guy From Nirvana" and demanding stuff like unopened cereal boxes "and not the Lucky Charms that Ronnie James Dio plowed through the night before." Really funny stuff .

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I'm looking forward to getting to see the Crosby Stills Nash & Young documentary Deja Vu, which screened at some film festivals this year. The film, about their 2006 tour in support of Neil Young's Living With War album, isn't just about the band on the road, but about how people reacted to Neil's message that the current administration, well, sucks, are incompetent and have sent lots of young men and women to their deaths without good cause. Etc.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lion's Gate Films will release it in select cities in July, and it will also be available on demand and via streaming video, with a DVD to come out soon afterwards.
I was at one of the shows on the tour, and I was frankly surprised how divided the audiences were about Neil's new songs. It didn't surprise me when Springsteen or Mellencamp's fans are put off by their progressive lyrics, but with CSNY, I can't believe it would surprise anyone. Anyway, I am really looking forward to this film.
Hopefully Neil will allow the band to put out a CD to accompany the film. I have to say, when CSNY first reunited in 1999, I was skeptical of how good it would be, especially since the album wasn't great. But I've seen them a number of times since then, in 1999, 2001 and in 2006, and they were great and vital each time.


I've never really been a big Neil Diamond fan, but I have to give him props on scoring his first ever #1 album with Home Before Dark. I'll also give Rick Rubin props, for making him seem cool (as opposed to kitchy). Neil Diamond hasn't really paid attention to any trends in the past, say, four decades - nor should he have. What he does is so mainstream, to pretend to be anything else would be kind of ridiculous.

One time I interviewed Robbie Robertson of The Band - a well known snob. I asked him who he thought should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who hadn't gotten in and he didn't miss a beat before answering "Neil Diamond." Of course, Robbie forced the rest of The Band to back Diamond at The Last Waltz. But anyway, congratulations Neil.


Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale says that he never said any of the stuff about Jimmy Page wanting the snake to open for Led Zeppelin that was circulating the other day. I half thought that it was bull, but it was kind of fun to think he was actually saying that stuff. Not very nice of me to say that, I guess.

But apparently he told Classic Rock magazine in an email that it was all bogus. "Why, after all the charming back-and-forths between one Monsieur Plant and oneself through the years, who could imagine such a premise possible? Not me, squire!"

"Besides," Coverdale concluded, "I've got a hit record and a sold-out tour, and I'm currently pretty fucking busy playing nightly, and joyfully, with my Fab Musical Serpents, ol' chum! No complaints here…" I'm not sure what he's referring to, regarding the "hit record" thing, but whatever. Maybe "Monsieur" Robert Plant started it, just for a laugh?