Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Essentials: Songs

A new essentials list: the songs I cannot live without. This list will probably go on forever, never be completed and will be added to constantly...

Some changed me, some just made me smile, some made me angry, some made me think and some made me feel…

This is the list of my essential songs in no particular order. Always on repeat somewhere in my world…

Marshall Tucker Band, 24 Hours At A Time

Not really a love song but the story of an everyday man who just might need love. Classic southern rock within being cliché.

Foo Fighters, Everlong

“Breathe out, so I can breathe you in…” Dave Grohl. If ever a song captured my passion for passion, this is it.

Coldplay, Amsterdam

Can a song really give you chills every time you hear it? I haven’t really tried to decipher its meaning but the pure emotion it evokes is enough.

The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter

You can literally feel a storm brewing as a siren's voice beckons you, tempting you to come inside.

Iron Maiden, Age of Innocence

All the power and glory of Maiden is on display but the intelligent, non-pc commentary on modern society is chilling. Who would have guessed the ol’ number o’ the beast boys would be the ones to warn us of our own demise?

The Beatles/George Harrison, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

My favorite Beatle at his creative peak. Not only can you feel the emotion in his prose but literally the ache of his heart displayed in the riff and guest solo by Ol’ Slow Hand…

U2, Bad

It has to be the live version from “Wide Awake In America”. It has to be when I need to hear it. The striving of a lost soul trying to explain and reconcile his tragedy to the person closest to him.

Marvin Gaye, Inner City Blues

The vocalists of a generation wrote a social commentary that will never become dated or irrelevant. It changed my entire perspective on poverty.

Blondie, Heart of Glass

I don’t know if was her voice or just her, but Debbie Harry was my first crush. Really the first woman I ever noticed in that way. Okay, I know I was only like 6. Does that make me a pervert or just a little ahead of my time?

Supertramp, The Logical Song

Throughout my life I have questioned why I am who I am. Even at the age of 8, I wondered to myself why I born who I was. This song gave me perspective on my inner struggle and what might lie ahead for me.

The Underrated, Guitar

New series: The Underrated

This will be dedicated to musicians who always seem to be left out of the "Greatest Whatever" discussions. As always, lists are not meant to be complete and will be added to on a regular basis...

Underrated Guitarists

David Gilmour, Pink Floyd

Floyd’s music as a whole seems to always overwhelm the “parts” but Gilmour’s brilliance cannot be denied. Solos like Comfortably Numb and Wish You Were Here are mixtures all that makes guitar guitar.

Alex Lifeson, Rush

(You had to see this one coming.) Overshadowed by a god on a stool behind him, Lifeson appears to get lost the in all the and beats, moog petals and intricate lyrics. But, I challenge you to deny the power and addiction of riffs like Limelight, Spirit of Radio or Fly By Night. Nevermind the mindnumbing precision of La Villa Strangiato, 2112 Overture or Xanadu. Technically perfect.

Mike Campbell, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Rarely will you find a guitarist whose style so matches the essence of the vocals as with Campbell. Blessed with an uncanny sense of purpose, every note adds to the song as a whole. Listen to the chorus work on Breakdown or the solo in You Got Lucky, and you will understand.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Add your Rush site here...

Buy these NOW!!!

Albums that you need. Today...

1. Coldplay X&Y -- is there really any commentary necessary?

2. Foo Fighters In Your Honor CD 1 & 2 -- I can't stop listening to the first cd long enough to really enjoy the second, which is unbelievably good. Listen for guest stars, John Paul Jones (yes, the John Paul Jones) and Norah Jones. By the way, how much longer till Dave Grohl is recognized as the genius he is?

3. Beck Guero -- if you liked Odelay, then you are going to love this one...

4. The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan -- Definately Jack's most progressive work yet, exploring new realms of folk and bluegrass. By the way, Jack is a guitar god living in our midst...

5. Joss Stone Mind, Body & Soul -- Believe the hype. She is really that good...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Live 8 Coverage on MTV/VH1

The most highly anticipated concert event since Live Aid unfortunately was turned into nothing more than an exercise in shameless commercialism by these mutually owned media outlets. Unlike the original which was broadcast commercial FREE, this showing seemed a mere excuse for the networks to give ample face time to its VJs and run 5 minutes long commercial interruptions used to plug its upcoming new shows. Performances were constantly cut short by the incessant talking and aimless discussions. At one point you could actually hear a producer counting down for another interruption during Jet’s performance in Toronto. Why not run Philly on MTV, London on VH1 and the rest of the world on the VH1 Classic channels? Run streaming information about the purpose of the concert on the bottom of the screen and do infomercials during the bands breaks. Completely disgusting and unacceptable.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Essentials: Number 1

Rush Posted by Hello

Rush - If you don’t know me personally, you may never understand my selection for number one. Trust me, I realize I am probably in the less than 1% percentile of civilization that would. But remember, I never said this list was to be considered the “Top Ten Bands of All-Time”. These are my ten essential bands. For me, Rush is the culmination of all my passion for music: virtuoso musicianship, thought-provoking lyrics and creative integrity. They may have only 3 or 4 “hit” songs in the opinions of most people but I have never been about the opinions of most people. How many bands do you know that you can’t say another band sounds like them? I always wanted to be a drummer in a rock band, fascinated by the instrument and those who could manipulate it. And for me, there is no better drummer than Neil Peart. Do you know that feeling when someone’s greatness makes you want to quit something but also strive to be better at it at the same time? This has always been the feeling I got from listening to Neil play. Then, to top it off, he writes the lyrics. The lyrics that first made me look at the world around me with a different perspective from what I had been taught or experienced. To look at the past and consider its impending effect on the future and consequences on the present. I may never be able to truly explain why I feel this way about Rush. And in some ways, I’m glad I don’t have to…

The Essentials: Number 2

Led Zeppelin Posted by Hello

Led Zeppelin - Building on the blues influence of other 60’s British bands, Led Zeppelin added distortion and mysticism, turned the amps up to 11 and blew a hole in the universe. I was first baptized by them at the age of 13 when a friend copied Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II for me. Shortly thereafter, I got my hands on a VHS copy of The Song Remains The Same. I had never seen anything like this. No fireworks, no lasers or elaborate sets. This was the greatest hard rock band of all time filling every visual void with its sheer brilliance and might. The synergy of Plant and Page suspended by a backbone of Bonham and Jones is still the most powerful thing I have ever witnessed. For me, everything since then is judged by their standard. And it goes so far beyond what you may know as Zeppelin (see previous post "The Hammer of the Gods Rarely Used"). There are so many songs that are without equal. Whatever genre they decided to explore, they created a whole new version or method. And I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. I normally wouldn’t use someone else’s quote in something as personal as this but the following just states it perfectly: “Heavy metal music would not exist without Led Zeppelin, and if it did, it would suck.” – Dave Grohl. Enough said…

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Essentials: Number 3

beatles Posted by Hello

The Beatles - My parents grew up in the '50s and had no use for them. Fortunately, I had a friend whose parents had every album, on vinyl, but would not let out of the house. Yet, like passing on a sacred text to a seeker of truth, they graciously recorded each album onto cassette for me. This is how I was albe to "meet the Beatles". Thus began the musical journey that took me from the origins of pop music to the influence that would change music as the world would know it. But, the journey wasn't just musical; it was into the souls of Paul, John, George and Ringo. From the simplicity and innocence of "Love Me Do" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand", you follow the mystical searching, acid dropping and internal jealousy as it produces the most landmark albums of our time. Towards the end, the personalities of Paul, as a songwriter of a populist, and John, as a introspective revolutionary, are revealed while the underappreciated genius of George rises to the surface. For me, The Beatles are the reason I became a true music fan. Let's just say that without this rite of passage, I would not be writing this blog...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Essentials: Number 4

Iron Maiden Posted by Hello

4. Iron Maiden -- In its genre, this is the standard by which all metal is measured. A band for which there is no equal. There is no Beatles vs. Stones, Zeppelin vs. Sabbath debate here. It starts and ends with Maiden. Unlike the musical misdirection of most prog rock bands, Iron Maiden wrote epics about history, mythology, theatre and religion that were backed by some of the most incredible two guitar harmonies, blazing bass riffs and operatic vocals ever recorded. There were no "monster ballads" or senseless party songs like other arena bands of the day or stupid anthems from the spawn of commercialism that was hair metal. Each song tells a story ranging from the exploits of Alexander the Great, the charge of the Light Brigade or the defense of England by the Royal Air Force. Yes, this is thinking man's metal without the ridiculous 3 minute show off guitar solos or self gratifying performances. Maiden has always written, recorded and perfomed for one purpose: the legions of followers of Eddie the Corpse. The rest of the world be damned..

The Essentials: Number 5

The Cure Posted by Hello

5. The Cure -- One word: diversity. How is possible to be so dark, so eerie, so macabre and also be so upbeat, so funky and so blissful? The Cure has done this like no one else. One moment you feel a sense of overwhelming desperation about life and the world you live in. A darkness from which there is no escape. Moments later, you are twirling around in circles, dizzy with euphoria and ecstasy. From fantasy to the most dire or exhilirating human emotion, Robert Smith lyrics touch a different part of your soul with each song. And to top it off, have you ever heard another band described as "sounds like The Cure"? That's because there is no way to describe them simply or succintly. A sound as broad and unpredictable as the realms of Smith's lyrical universe with nary a creative rut. Pick an album, any album and go for a journey to somewhere you have never been before...

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Essentials: Number 10-6

Everyone has them. The bands they cannot live without. Everyone thinks his list is the best, quintessential, beyond compare.

I don’t think of my list that way. These are the artists whose music has changed my life, outlook or perspective. Without them, I would probably think that Motley Crue is classic rock …

Therefore, I present my essential artists, the artists that must exist for my soul to live. These are Nos. 10 through 6, and why. Nos. 5 through 1 will be coming soon...

10. The Dave Matthews Band – Okay, I know what you are thinking. It was a fad that I got caught up in. On the contrary, I first heard Dave in 1998 during a most turbulent phase of my life. Initially, there was this intriguing sound: a violin, a horn, no distortion. It wasn’t pop but it really wasn’t jam either. It seemed to exist in a world all its own. While that was the first attraction, Dave's lyrics about pain, love, addiction and complication began to make me feel something that I hadn’t in years: my soul.

9. Miles Davis – Everyone knows the name and most know a song. For me, an admitted jazz novice, its about being able to experience the very essence of a music genre through the life spanning genius of one man. Pick any era of his career from the Gil Evans recordings, the “Cool” or “jazz fusion” and it is arguably the best available at that time. He influenced everyone and played with the legends: Coltrane, Corea, Hancock. I can sum it up by saying this: no one doesn’t like A Kind of Blue but Miles taught you to love Bitches Brew

8. Tool – Grunge was obviously a much needed sound that saved us from manufactured metal sung by performers, not artists (ever wonder what will save us today?). What it lacked was the perversion and darkness that can only be expressed by depravity. Tool filled this void. This is the band that is just like that horror movie that you can’t watch but can’t make yourself turn away. Tool is the exorcism of what we call metal. So intelligent yet so reprobate. It makes you question the darkness of your own soul and the real reasons there is no light there…

7. REM – There always is this song or band you hear for the first time that changes the way you hear or appreciate music. That song was “Can’t Get There From Here”. It didn’t sound like anything else. It wasn’t New Wave or radio friendly. This was an “alternate” sound. Guitars not quite blue grass but nowhere near blues. Does it actually sound country? What was it? And for fifteen years, that was made REM great, you couldn’t quite describe them and you could never classify them.

6. U2 – I’m not going to tell you what you already know. A band from nowhere who took over the world. For me, it wasn’t about that; it was about emotions they felt along the way. In one moment, express the pain of betrayal and the very next, the sacrifice that only love can provide. U2 expressed anger at the world without judging it or claiming to have every answer. Unlike so many brilliant bands, U2 paid homage to the pioneers and hoped to honor them in a way only they could, by creating perfection.

Now, are you racking your brain trying to figure out 1 through 5? Yeah, that's the idea...

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Hammer (of the Gods) Rarely Used...

So, I'm in this discussion with a friend of mine about the band many consider the greatest rock band ever, Led Zeppelin. When it comes to Zeppelin, most everyone knows who they are and what the "hits" are but I started talking about the true essence of what made this band truly great. These are the songs that a lot of people have never heard but must to truly appreciate the greatness of this band...

If you are unfamiliar with any of the following tracks, download immediately (I personally recommend, they have all of these)...

Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You, Led Zeppelin
White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Led Zeppelin Box Set, Disc 1
I Can't Quit You, Babe, Led Zeppelin
Traveling Riverside Blues, BBC Sessions, Disc 1
Whole Lotta Love Medley, BBC Sessions, Disc 2
The Lemon Song, Led Zeppelin II
Bring It On Home, Led Zeppelin II
Tangerine, Led Zeppelin III
Gallows Pole, Led Zeppelin III
Since I've Been Loving You, Led Zeppelin III
The Battle Of Evermore, Led Zeppelin IV
When The Levee Breaks, Led Zeppelin IV
Dazed And Confused, The Song Remains The Same
The Rain Song, The Song Remains The Same
In My Time of Dying, Physical Graffiti
In The Light, Physical Graffiti
Bron-Yr-Aur, Physical Graffiti
Ten Years Gone, Physical Graffiti
Black Country Woman, Physical Graffiti (listen for the plane flying over in the opening seconds)
Achilles Last Stand, Presence
Nobody's Fault But Mine, Presence
Fool In The Rain, In Through The Out Door

Any questions or comments?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

New Music

New Must Have Albums:

The Duhks, The Dukhs

I like most people went out and bought the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? after it spent weeks on the Billboard Top 40. You basically weren't cool if you didn't have this album. But, you know something, it was okay. Good bluegrass but kind of boring.

Welcome to totally non-boring bluegrass. The Duhks are a Canadian group that create a hard edged, almost angry sound while playing traditional bluegrass instruments. If you love female vocal harmonies, do not hesitate to get this album. Listen very closely to the lyrics. Deep, very deep...

Garbage, Bleed Like Me

I am generally biased about Garbage. The last album was by far the weakest but I still defended it and learned to like it. Being the Shirley Manson worshipper that I am, I think that if I diss an album I will ruin my chances with her (sic).

No bias needed on this new offering. This is pure Garbage. This is the closest the band has come to recreating the pure energy of the first album. While 2.0 will always be the bands' Dark Side, Bleed Like Me reminds you why you fell in love with the brilliant production, harsh lyrics and intriguing vocals to begin with...

The Bravery, The Bravery

If you are a child of the '80s and escaped being infected with the virus that was glam metal, your cd, pardon me, cassette collection consisted of Depeche Mode, The Cure, REM, U2 (before Bono was leader of the free world), and The Smiths. While I could never put these bands in a true top 5 order, DM, The Cure and The Smiths were by far the most unique.

The Bravery capture various aspects of each bands' uniqueness without sounding like copycats. The songs are energetic and unpretentious capturing the best of 80s new wave without the cheesy pop elements that eventually burned out the true essense of the genre. 11 tracks on the cd and not a wasted one...