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Things to hear, things to see
May 27th, 2005 under blog. [ Comments: none ]

Just thought I’d do a quick update before experiencing the joys of work again today. For the curious/bored, here’s my list of things I have to listen to and things I have to read on my trip this evening:

(now, I know I won’t listen to *all* the stuff here (or read), but I go prepared when it comes to music)

Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies
Beatles – Tragical History Tour
Adrian Belew – Mr. Music Head
Bryan Beller – View
John Coltrane & Jonny Hartman
David Garza – Oh Dread EP
David Garza – May Ides EP
Bryan Dunn – Static & Scripture
Jeff Freling – S/T
Grumpy – S/T
Trey Gunn – Joy of Molybdenum
Iron Maiden – 7th Son
Journey – Dream After Dream
Mike Keneally + Metropole Orkest – the Universe Will Provide/Parallel Universe
King Crimson – Absent Lovers, disc 1 & 2
King Crimson – Projekct 3: Masque
Living Colour – Live at CBGB’s
Metallica – Master of Puppets
The Mistakes – S/T
Parliament – Gold, disc 1 & 2
Phish – Undermind
Pink Floyd – Dark Side
Radiohead – Kid A
Shaolin Death Squad – S/T
David Sylvian/Robert Fripp – Damage
Frank Zappa – Absolutely Free
Frank Zappa – Broadway the Hard Way
Zero 7 – When it Falls
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood

and the books:

Hidden Life of Dogs – Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Great Pianists on Piano Playing – James Cooke
What to Listen for in Music – Aaron Copland
Quidditch Through the Ages – JK Rowling


Awright, I’m off to finish my Cap’n Crunch.

Have a great holiday!

Random Thoughts on a Saturday Morn
May 21st, 2005 under blog. [ Comments: none ]

Happy Saturday! Any day that I don’t have to work is a wonderful day. Yes, I did happily watch Revenge of the Sith on Thursday. It rocked. I was hoping to see it again with my bro and sis-in-law but they couldn’t find a baby sitter (my mom had plans) so no SW for us tonight. I know they’ll see it soon enough. It’s too bad Kyle is only 3+, otherwise of course we’d take him. I do wonder how old he’d have to be to see it, because there is some definite evil in that movie. Hmm, I guess it’s PG-13 for a reason. I don’t want to give anything away about it, so I’ll police what I say since I know that most people aren’t dorks who need to see it within the first 24 hours. Yes, the movie is pretty dark and very disturbing at times. During some scenes it goes past that “oh, it’s just a movie” thing and you get really disturbed. Darth Vader/Anakin may be a badass, but after seeing this movie he’s not a character that I say I “like”. Yoda is still my favorite character of the whole series. I still have some unanswered questions, as I think a lot of people do. As usual, the dialog isn’t too great, but we’ve been dealing with that for 28 years now. I really want to watch it again, esp. on a good screen, because, well it *was* good and of course I want to see it again asap. Also, I saw it in such a crappy, non-stadium seating theater that I need to see it “properly”. Boy am I spoiled! I sound like a snob. Well, I am. Absolutely “Sith” is better than Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. I had a feeling it would be better. But yeah, it’s dark. When we got home Julie suggested that we watch Jedi to ‘get a happy ending’.

Last night we ate some nice Mexican food and came back to the house and watched the Mavericks game. Julie could care less about basketball, and most of the time I am the same way. Except for the playoffs, which I love to watch because it’s actually exciting. The stupid Mavs didn’t do what they needed to and lost the game in overtime. It sucks, but I knew they wouldn’t beat the Suns on Sunday anyway and they really aren’t yet good enough to be at that level. Besides, IF they beat the Suns, then they’d still have to go through San Antonio (yeah right) and then Miami to win the championship. So yeah, not this year. Now we reach the most boring time of the year…baseball season. I cheer for the Rangers and I like going to games, but for the most part these next 3 months are just so boring. Damn I hope hockey comes back next year!

Oh, Borea, you misspoke a bit about my recording project. It’s not a ‘demo’, but an actual REAL album. I’ve been planning this thing for almost 6 years now. Yes, that long. There have been various things holding me back (proper recording equipment, questions on how to do the drums, etc), but mostly it’s just been my massive problem of motivation. My music funks come and go, but it seems like I never truly get out of it all. My hope is that by actually finishing the album I’ve been planning that I can brush some of the hazy-funk off and get going. Really going. You know, I do no like working. The whole concept and idea of work is not fun. I know, this isn’t news to anyone. We don’t work because we love it, we work because we have to. To pay bills, to buy food, to support our families, to buy “nice things”, to buy CDs, to buy new equipment because we’ve had the same amp since Miniver Cheevy (that’s 13 years).

Eh, work is forgotten. It’s SATURDAY!!! I saw the new Star Wars movie the other day, I get to hang out with my nephew tonight (Alan said he watched Episode IV with him for the first time yesterday), it’s a nice day out, I can’t smell the Trinity, I am excited about recording the album and I get some vacation next week. Friday night I fly out to Seattle with Julie for half-week of time with friends, drinking fantastic beer, eating fantastic seafood, seeing beautiful scenery in Oregon, Washington and Oh Canada. I love flying too, that’s always fun.

Massive CONGRATULATIONS go out to my Soul Sister Jennifer on completion of her Undergraduate Studies. BA in English Lit. That’s awesome.

There’s dust on your guitar…

Here we go…
May 16th, 2005 under blog. [ Comments: none ]

Hmmmmmmmmmm, well, the opportunity arises and I say, “Why not?”. I keep my own personal diary, and I honestly don’t update that daily, or even weekly. I can only hope that I’ll update this thing more often. Otherwise, it’s all a bit pointless innit?

Two main things going on right now:

Star Wars Ep. 3 opens in 3 days. I wish I could go to the midnight show on Wednesday/Thursday, but I’d be going alone and since I have to be at work at 8 the next morn, it wouldn’t exactly be “smart”. And plus, I’m seeing the 7pm show Thursday eve anyway. So, I’m a dork…just not a Super Dork. I am very excited for this movie.

Also, last week I determined that I’ve been sitting on my arse too long and I have set a date of August 1st as the date I will “release” my debut album. In my case since I’m doing it all myself, at home, and will only probably give copies to friends and family, the “release” consists of actually holding the disc in my hand. That’s 2.5 months. I’m currently at the stage of demoing, which is just basic song structures…mostly guitar, bass and prob. vocals (which SCARES ME, even if it is just for myself at this point). I think I’m going to record all my songs (50+) and then determine which ones will work together with whatever it is that I “want to say”. Maybe I won’t demo *all* 50+, but I know it will be a lot; probably in the realm of 30-40.

That’s all for today!

Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time
May 8th, 2005 under Album Reviews. [ Comments: none ]

Released: 1986
Tracks: Caught Somewhere in Time; Wasted Years; Sea of Madness; Heaven Can Wait; Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner; Stranger in a Strange Land; Deja-Vu; Alexander the Great
Best track: Wasted Years, maybe Sea of Madness
Track to skip: absolutely none

OK, as I do with all these albums that I review, when I listen to a recording I always try to listen with as open of a mind as possible. Some albums that I ‘know’ I don’t like I’ll try to find good in them and some that I ‘love’ I’ll try my best to be objective. I have had some revelations about a good number of them and of course some albums are exactly how wonderful I think they are before putting on my Reviewer Hat (headphones, usually). So, here we come to Iron Maiden’s 6th studio album and one that I proclaim on the front page of this review site as to be my favorite album ever. Or, The Best, if you will. So, I listen to this album that I’ve heard a million times with an open mind and you know what? It’s STILL my favorite. I can still listen to this and get sometimes as much, but usually more, enjoyment out of it than I have since the first listen. Because these guys are such professionals and so talented, there’s always something new to discover about the music here. That’s true of any great album; the more you listen to it, the more you get out of it.

There are some interesting story lines that weave through this album. You have a loose concept of “time” and some different thoughts on various aspects of it. This album came after Maiden’s immense World Slavery Tour where they did more shows than any tour before or since and I’d be willing to bet more than most bands do for two tours. The tour lasted for 11 months straight, and that’s long enough to make anyone go a bit crazy and force them to think about the concept of time in ways that maybe they hadn’t before. There’s also the aspect of doing an album following a live one. Live albums are traditionally places to stop and take stock of where the band is, where they’re going and why they’re doing what they do. Different/new aspects usually come out during the album following a live one. In Somewhere in Time’s case, it’s the use of synthesizers. I don’t understand why people have such a big hissy fit about the use of synths on this album. I only notice that they’re there if I specifically listen for them. They’re not distracting, they’re not overbearing and they’re not cheesy at all. They’re only used as slight colorations and that’s all. For me as a music fan, the most important ‘story line’ on here is the true emergence of Adrian Smith. He’s written some great songs over the years (The Prisoner, Die With Your Boots On, 2 Minutes to Midnight), but he finally comes out and writes 3 songs all on his own for this album. And, not surprisingly, they are the best songs here: Wasted Years, Sea of Madness & Stranger in a Strange Land. The band knew this too as Wasted Years and Stranger were the two singles from the album. All throughout Maiden’s career I always look to Adrian’s songs (still do) and they’re ones that get my brain really going.

Somewhere in Time once again features the “classic” lineup of Smith, Harris, Dickinson, Murray & McBrain, with the amazing and excellent Martin Birch producing/engineering/mixing. Besides Adrian’s songs, his guitar playing is stellar on here. Specifically the song construction and solos for Sea of Madness & Stranger are just awesome. Everyone is naturally excellent, but I still also just get shivers listening to Nicko McBrain’s contributions. He definitely has the best right foot of any drummer I’ve ever heard. He does with one foot what many drummers can’t do with two. Listening to SIT on headphones brings out his drumming even more. Steve Harris, the reason I’m a musician, does not disappoint on here either. I like to play along with this CD because (besides its excellence) it’s also a tremendous workout. Honestly, most of his lines on here are pretty traditional, but they work perfectly for the songs. There are those time when he breaks out with the melodic stuff and it just floors me. He’s yet another reason why I love those solo spots in Sea of Madness and Stranger; what he does underneath Adrian’s solos are so fantastic and beautiful. I still get so much inspiration from those bits.

I have to list some things I love about this album: Nicko’s right foot on Caught Somewhere in Time; the whole song of Wasted Years…the music, the lyrics, the guitar solo, the catchiness, the smile it brings me; how Sea of Madness is a kick ass rocking song, but Adrian wrote in that perfect mellow section where he plays that beautiful solo; Bruce’s singing on Sea of Madness in particular; the guitar playing from both Murray and Smith on Heaven Can Wait; Steve Harris’ lyrics & music too…he wrote a great one here; that “kick into gear” guitar solo section of Long Distance Runner, so intense; again, the whole damn thing of Stranger in a Strange Land, esp. the guitar solo which is Adrian’s best in Iron Maiden; more great drumming from Nicko on Deja-Vu, and some excellent Murray guitar; the whole damn song of Alexander the Great…instant history lesson for millions of kids growing up; the melodies on this song are just stunning and especially that whole middle section kicks my ass.

OK, yes, I love every single second of this album and it’s PERFECT. The songs are great, the playing is great, the artwork is brain-explodingly detailed and wonderful and the production is perfect. I still say, and probably always will, that this is the best album ever. I can’t find fault in it. Now, I do understand that most people don’t like Iron Maiden and wouldn’t think this was anything special. I realize that. I know it’s not exactly ‘cool’ to love Iron Maiden and I also know that this album isn’t for everyone. However, it IS for me and a lot of people I know and it’s one of the few albums that will get a response of something like, “Somewhere in Time, wow, now *that’s* a great album”.

Rating: 99

The Beatles – Yellow Submarine Songtrack
May 8th, 2005 under Album Reviews. [ Comments: none ]

Released: 1969 (original); 1999 (remix Songtrack)
Tracks: Yellow Submarine; Hey Bulldog; Eleanor Rigby; Love You To; All Together Now; Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds; Think for Yourself; Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; With a Little Help From My Friends; Baby You’re a Rich Man; Only a Northern Song; All You Need is Love; When I’m Sixty-Four; Nowhere Man; It’s All Too Much
Best track: either Hey Bulldog or Nowhere Man
Track to skip: none

This is the soundtrack to the Beatles animated movie Yellow Submarine. The original album was issued in early 1969 with 4 previously unreleased songs (Hey Bulldog, All Together Now, Only a Northern Song & It’s All Too Much), 2 that you knew (the title track & All You Need is Love) & 7 tracks of orchestrated music George Martin composed for the film (Pepperland, Sea of Time, Sea of Holes, Sea of Monsters, March of the Meanies, Pepperland Laid Waste & Yellow Submarine in Pepperland). In 1999 the Beatles went back and not only re-released the movie on VHS & DVD, but also reworked the soundtrack. Now it’s the “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” with the difference being more Beatles songs you already knew replacing the George Martin orchestrations. I’m unsure why they didn’t just keep the Martin compositions on here since the CD is only 45 minutes so there’s room. The songs that they added for the Songtrack are all featured in the film, but I think there are a few songs in the film that *aren’t* here. Huh? When you look at this CD in all those ways (only being 45 minutes, not featuring all the music in the movie) it’s a little disappointing. But then again, it IS The Beatles and it highlights songs from their most creative period so it’s not like it’s horrible to own.

The four ‘new’ songs are really just rejects that didn’t fit on any albums. Only a Northern Song was left off of Sgt. Pepper, while both All Together Now & It’s All Too Much were recorded during the sessions for Magical Mystery Tour. I think All Together Now was actually composed for the movie, while Hey Bulldog was a new track that came up while the group was working on Lady Madonna. OK, so, “rejects” isn’t the best word possible to use for these songs, but it does show that maybe the band thought they weren’t good enough for their proper albums. Of these four, Hey Bulldog is clearly the best track. It’s one of the more rocking songs in their catalog and just has a wonderful feel to it. All Together Now is just a silly, almost-throwaway, song. I don’t skip it because it’s just stupidly fun. It’s a kid’s song, that’s for sure. I still like it though. Only a Northern Song is one of George’s (he surprisingly gets 4 songs on here; that’s pretty cool) where he’s sort of protesting being lumped into Paul & John’s publishing company (instead of being on his own, like he would starting in 1968), Northern Songs, Ltd. As a song goes, it’s decent enough. It’s pretty damn psychedelic with lots of crazy sound effects and nonsensical lyrics. It’s a feast for the ears with some interesting stuff going on underneath and on top of the song. It’s All Too Much is a great psychedelic/heavy rocker that shows Harrison in particular had been listening to Hendrix’s feedback experiments. This song rocks and it’s too bad that it’s such an overlooked song in The Beatles catalog. I like these 4 new ones, but really Hey Bulldog and It’s All Too Much are reason enough to buy this.

Then we come to the songs we already know and love, with 2 from Rubber Soul, 3 from Revolver, 4 from Sgt. Pepper & 2 from Magical Mystery Tour. I don’t think these are the best songs from those respective albums, but they fit within the context of the movie and also this album. I think that not only are these songs remastered, but perhaps also a slight remixing on them. I remember reading comments from when this came out from Beatle fans going into serious detail about the differences in these versions and the originals. I personally think the remastering sounds wonderful and makes the songs sound fuller than they already are. Many of the instruments and background sounds are much clearer on this album. Nowhere Man sounds fantastic, particularly in McCartney’s excellent bass line.

So, all in all I do think this is an essential album. I mean, Hey Bulldog and It’s All Too Much are essential for Beatles fans and present two more different things that they did. I’m not sure if I’m going to buy the original issue of the album with George Martin’s songs. I need to go back and watch the movie again and just listen to those. I do wish they were on here though. Even though this version is easier to find, the original is still in print so you can get either or both if you feel like it. If I have to pick between the two, I definitely prefer this because you get all the great songs that you already know in addition to the four unreleased ones. In a way, it’s a compilation of The Beatles’ psychedelic period, even if it does skip the best songs from this era (Strawberry Fields, I am the Walrus, A Day in the Life, etc). It’s a fun album and for me that’s what really counts.

Rating: 91

Dah-veed – Live at Rick’s, Denton, TX 1994
May 8th, 2005 under Album Reviews. [ Comments: none ]

Recorded: 1994
Tracks: My Sister; Now You Can Open Your Eyes; Long Walk Home; Lockjaw; Devour; Amnesty; Tell Me Why; John Lennon Song; Scatterbrain; Influence; Big Stick
Best track: this band smokes, but Tell Me Why might be the best on here. Maybe not, because Big Stick is so insanely good
Track to skip: absolutely none

Oh my gosh I love this! Yup, there’s the review right there. This is a live show (not officially released) recorded at Rick’s in Denton, TX, probably in early 1994. I guess it could be late ’93, but I’m just guessing it’s ’94. The band on this particular night was of course Davíd Garza on guitar and vox, Clay Pendergrass on bass, Jim Cocke on keys, Michael Hale on drums and Chris Searles on percussion. This was almost released as a real album with the title of “Throb Throb Throb”, but I guess Davíd decided to keep it in the can. It’s too bad, because this show is excellent. Thankfully we did at least get two songs from this night that came out on the next studio album Conmigo: I’d Rather Be Lost (not on this tape) and an edited version of Long Walk Home. I wish that this was the full show, since it’s only 45-50 minutes long and his shows were around 90-120 minutes back then. Oh well, I enjoy what I have. I am very thankful that we get the full version of Long Walk Home on here, since I heard the shortened Conmigo version first. Since Searles guested with the band on this night, the songs naturally had higher percussion content than normal. Chris does a nice solo in Open Your Eyes (they all do) and there’s just such a great jam in Long Walk Home.

It’s annoying that this isn’t the full show, because you can hear the first few seconds of songs like Steer Clear & Forget Song and then they cut off. Also the sound isn’t exactly perfect. There’s a bad dip in the volume of Lockjaw, but you know, this *is* a bootleg so it’s not going to sound perfect. It sounds like it was recorded from the soundboard as opposed to the audience, because of the clarity of the instruments. The volumes may be low at points, but I can hear Clay’s excellent bass just fine. Oh man, this version of Devour is great! That just came on and the biggest smile came across my face. I love it! Jeez, and then comes Tell Me Why…this version grooves harder than just about *any* studio recording David’s ever done. This bad was so immensely talented. I know there’s always the danger of falling into a nostalgia trip, especially when a musician is always changing and fans have their particular favorite period, but I don’t feel like a crappy fan in saying that this group and this period of Davíd Garza’s musical existence was clearly the best. All of them, all 5 of them, are just so excellent. Excellent musicians, excellent performers, excellent listeners. These guys and this show in particular just knock my socks off.

I hope someday soon to transfer this cassette to CD, or hopefully even get a hold of the full show. The previous review, the Wacky’s show, is great, but this one is better (even if it’s severely edited). The band was on fire this night and the audience is wonderfully enthusiastic. If you can get a hold of this show grab it because it’s fantastic and probably the best example of why Dah-veed was the best band touring around Texas in the early-mid 90’s.

Rating: 95


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