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a new album review
October 30th, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]

I posted this the other day, but I’m finally getting around to it on here. I figure I don’t plug my main website enough. Someday soon everything will be tied in together. Until then, bask in the majesty of my typing!

Saw Robert Fripp & the League of Crafty Guitarists tonight. EXCELLENT show. I was smiling nearly the whole time. I’m thankful I’ve been able to see him play two years in a row. I was happily surprised by the tunes they played. I estimate that I knew about 25% of the material tonight. Surprises: 2 Crimson tunes (Thrak & VROOOM) some CGT, the theme from Mission Impossible and the Beatles’ Flying. Great show. It certainly was taxing on my brain, so I’m pretty mentally beat up right now. It was pretty long (2 encores!), but well worth the admission. Oh, and no photos! I can’t believe it.

Awright, the bed calls.


Willie Nelson – The Essential Willie Nelson
October 29th, 2007 under Album Reviews. [ Comments: none ]

Released: 2003
Tracks: Night Life; Hello Walls; Crazy; Funny How Time Slips Away; I Never Cared for You; The Party’s Over; Good Times; Me and Paul; Shotgun Willie; Bloody Mary Morning; Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain; Good Hearted Woman; If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time; Uncloudy Day; Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys; Georgia on My Mind; Blue Skies; All of Me; Heartbreak Hotel; Help Me Make it Through the Night; Whiskey River; Stay a Little Longer; My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys; Faded Love; On the Road Again; Angel Flying to Close the Sun; Always on My Mind; Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning; Pancho and Lefty; To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before; City of New Orleans; Seven Spanish Angels; Forgiving You Was Easy; Highwayman; Living in the Promiseland; Nothing I Can Do About It Now; Graceland; Everywhere I Go; Slow Dancing; Mendocino County Line; One Time Too Many
Best track: On the Road Again
Tracks to skip: Heartbreak Hotel, Help Me Make it Through the Night, Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning, To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before, City of New Orleans, Seven Spanish Angels, Living In the Promiseland, Nothing I Can Do About it Now, Everywhere I Go, Mendocino County Line, One Time Too Many


My recent stretch of reviews has been interesting, and if you look closely you’ll see that I’ve been working through stuff in alphabetical order. I always have odd ways of picking stuff to review. Obviously I skipped from Yo-Yo Ma to Pink Floyd. I had this Willie Nelson down, but it was just easier to put on a 40-minute Floyd CD as opposed to taking close to 3 hours of a day and delving into this double CD set. It’s not torture or anything (well, the second disc is, but I’ll get to that in a bit) and I really love the first disc, but sitting through the whole thing at once is difficult. So, I noticed that since I had the time to do it tonight, I’d go full-throttle and knock this thing out. I gotta do the “intro” first…

I grew up in Texas and have lived 27 of my almost 32 years there. I’ve heard plenty of country music in my life so it’s pretty well established what I like of it and what I don’t. Generally, I don’t care for country. I think most of it (the popular stuff) is soulless crud. What you hear on Country Top 40 radio is definitely some of the worst music out there. Of course, you could put ALL “Top 40” in that same boat. I’m pretty particular about the country I like, so when I hear something that I like, I tend to latch on to it. I really, really dig Willie Nelson’s music. He’s one of the few that really speaks to me. I don’t even know where it started, but growing up it was easy to tell the difference between Willie Nelson and the crap that was played on the radio all the time. Here’s a guy who, holy crap, writes his own songs and, holy crap, can play the hell out of the guitar. Unheard of! I think that even if I didn’t like the man’s music, I’d still respect him since he’s such a great guitarist. I like his music, so yay, bonus for me.

This 2 disc set is rightfully called The Essential. It covers a wide range of his output (from 1961 to 2001) and it touches on all of the important tracks in his career. It’s awesome that you get so many of the great 60’s and 70’s songs, but then you also get the 80’s and 90’s stuff that isn’t so hot. There are quite a few single-disc compilations out there and they’re definitely great, but you get more good songs with this one. I enjoy his 60’s material. He’s just starting out and the songs are kind of basic, but still, some great songs came out of that period. Stuff like Crazy (Patsy Cline is great, but I actually prefer Willie’s version), Night Life & Funny How Time Slips Away are all great songs. On the whole his early stuff slowly gets the ball rolling. Things really start to move, however, when we hit Bloody Mary Morning. For the most part, that stretch of songs from the 70’s until about 1982 is just awesome. I’m not going to type all of those songs, but just look up there ^ and notice the songs going from Bloody Mary Morning until Always on My Mind. Great, great songs. Disc 1 of the set (clearly the superior disc) ends with a great 1-2 punch of Whisky River>Stay a Little Longer. Oh yeah, the 3 representatives from his Stardust album are also phenomenal: Georgia on My Mind, Blue Skies, and All of Me. Hell yeah, I say. His version of Georgia on My Mind is so awesome.

Like I said, for the most part, disc 1 is solid. The only ones I don’t care to hear (and usually skip) are Heartbreak Hotel & Help Me Make it Through the Night. Heartbreak Hotel is decent. I end up skipping it since I’m just not very fond of the song anyway. Nothing really bad in the performance, it’s just that I’m not enthralled with the song so any performance of it has me reaching for the fwd button. Help Me Make it Through the Night is a bit too warbly in the vocals, but it has a good guitar solo in it. Still, I usually skip it. Those are the only negative spots (and they’re not horrible negative spots) on disc 1.

Disc 2 continues on with the later 70’s material and ends up with…ugh, the recent stuff. Most of disc 2 is filled with duets. Merle Haggard, Julio Iglesias, Ray Charles, Waylon/Johnny/Kris, Emmylou Harris, U2, Lee Ann Womack, Aerosmith. There’s some good there, but there’s also some suck. Anyway, let’s talk about the good stuff first. The beginning of the disc continues on with his best material: My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (gorgeous song), On the Road Again (amazing), Always on My Mind (stunning). Those 3 songs, man, I just really love them. I listed On the Road Again as the “best track” from this collection and it probably is my favorite song of his. It’s absolutely a perfect song and it has such a wonderful spirit about it. It’s getting out there and playing music and doing what we’re best at. I never, ever get tired of jamming to this song. There are so many other good songs on here though, any number of them could be the “best track” (Crazy, Georgia on My Mind, Whiskey River, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, Always on My Mind…to name a few).

For me the holes start to show even near the beginning of disc 2. Faded Love is decent. Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground is also only decent. Willie’s vocals are again a bit too warbly, but like Help Me Make it Through the Night it has a gorgeous guitar solo in it (in case I haven’t said it enough, Willie’s a kick ass guitarist). The end of the really good material on this disc is Always on My Mind. A few more skippers abound (To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before? So bad it’s laughable). The music for Highwayman is a bit cheesy, but the song’s good and I like hearing Willie, Waylon, Kristofferson & Johnny Cash together. There’s something pretty cool about that lineup. Except for a good version of Paul Simon’s Graceland, the rest of this disc is pretty bad. There might be a few songs I tolerate, but mostly they’re bad. I mean, the previously unreleased track Willie did with Aerosmith, One Time Too Many is absolutely horrible. Steven Tyler and Willie Nelson DO NOT sound good together.

So there you go…the first disc and the first few of the 2nd disc are great and except for a few scattered ones, everything else on disc 2 is pretty much skippable. For me. I’m sure some people out there will find that material to be right up their alley. I’m sure some people actually like his duet with Julio Iglesias. I’m not one. The thing is, the scope of this collection means that most everyone will have something to enjoy here. Maybe there are “better” Willie Nelson comps out there. Go do some research. I like this one though. Taken on the whole, the good and the bad, the good definitely comes out ahead. I mean, Willie’s a great songwriter. I’m sure there are a ton of great songs he’s done the past 2 decades that are better than some of the tracks here. No biggie though. There’s plenty of great songs to make this “Essential”.

Rating: 85


It's official – Metal is non-threatening and no one is frightened by it anymore
October 12th, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]

I came to this thought while on the terlit this morning. I was thinking about the animated show Metalocalypse and that triggered this whole idea. I saw my first episode of the show last night and it’s really hilarious (it’s on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim). The band in the show, Dethklok, is a super heavy Scandinavian metal band who just happens to be one of the most popular cultural forces on the planet. This morning the thought occurred to me that having a cartoon about a metal band (a real metal band) completely means that metal isn’t feared anymore. Of course, glam metal was never feared, but REAL Metal (Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, Ozzy, Slayer) used to scare the crap out of people back in the day. It is not so anymore. This is very weird for me to deal with. Yeah, I know those bands aren’t even remotely “scary” anymore, but they were at one point. On one hand, since Metal is way more acceptable and mainstream than it was, maybe more people will listen to my metal podcast. Maybe it’s possible we’ll get a bigger audience? The other hand? I liked that the music put some people off. You really had to dedicate yourself to it, you didn’t just *casually* listened to metal.

So while in the shower and the idea of this blog going through my head I tried to think of when it all happened. When did Metal become acceptable? I think glam metal doesn’t count because it was ALWAYS mainstream. No one was ever afraid of Poison or Warrant. I think people probably were afraid of Motley Crue, especially after Shout at the Devil, but once they made Home Sweet Home on the next album it was all over. No one ever feared Crue after that. But that doesn’t apply to real metal. When did the empire start to crumble? I point to Metallica. I don’t think it was “One”, even though it was a massive hit. It was, of course, the self-titled Metallica album in 1991. Think about it. In 1990, if someone wore a Metallica shirt, they were still feared. If someone wore a Metallica shirt in the fall of 1991 (like yours truly) there was nothing threatening or scary about it. They had released The Unforgiven and then (ugh) Nothing Else Matters…and that was it. The first blow. Around the same time we also had Ozzy release the ballads as singles from his No More Tears album (No More Tears, Mama I’m Comin’ Home, Road to Nowhere). As the 90′s went on, there were other instances of the weakening of the music, mostly bands selling out (Metallica, Megadeth) and also the music going underground in general.

I mean, Metal was still popular then, but it just didn’t have the “fear” it had before. Quite honestly the passage of time is definitely one of the major players in this. Time passes and different stuff comes about and people aren’t so afraid of “heavy metal” anymore. But I certainly think the Metallica and Ozzy things hurt the culture as far as putting out weak material. Another thing that Ozzy did that really made me just think it was all over was The Osbournes. I guarantee you there was no one afraid of Ozzy after that show. He became a joke. Would the Ozzy of 1987 had dinner with president Reagan? No. But after his TV show, he had dinner with president Bush. That’s not the mark of someone parents all over the world fear.

At Don’s birthday party a few weeks ago he received a metal activity book for a present (stuff like, connect the moles on Lemmy’s face, color Metallica’s hair). And while it’s definitely a cool thing, seeing it just made me think that metal isn’t scary anymore. And a cartoon about a Scandinavian death metal band? It’s officially over.

Don’t get me wrong about all this, I certainly want more people to listen to metal and genuinely LIKE it (not make fun of it), but it’s still a kind of sadness for me. Time passes and people fear different music….and yes, I know music isn’t to be feared, it’s to be enjoyed. I know all of this blog doesn’t really mean anything, but I just felt like I should post. Hm, maybe the idea was better in my head.

****

In other news, yesterday was the first day of FALL WEATHER. You have no idea how happy this makes me. Hell, maybe you do. Cold weather totally makes me happy. I love being able to wear long sleeves and bundle up and all that. I love autumn and winter.


ctrl-C is my friend
October 5th, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]

Well, I’ll attempt this again. You know how it goes. I’m sure I won’t cover everything I typed the other night, so I’ll just talk about whatever comes to my mind.

(doing the Cut Thang because it’s long…)

As noted in my posts a few days ago, I did indeed finish my Marathon Quest of Nerdly iPod Listening. Will I ever do it again? Uh, I doubt it. The thought did cross my mind that if I decided to do something like it again, I might try to go alpha by album title. At least it would be more consistent that way…but then, having all of those “Live” albums all back to bad would annoy me. Profusely. I’m sure if I do decide to go that route, it won’t be for many years. In addition to annoying Julie to no end, what bothered me most about going alpha through the iPod was that whenever I heard a certain song, I’d usually want to hear the whole album (or at the very least other tunes from that album). Sometimes that particular song would trigger a desire to hear an entirely different song. I think that was more due to me being “confined” to listen to all of my music in a certain, orderly fashion. Oh, and I’m still annoyed about the alphabeticalization rules in iTunes.I did like that I was kind of forced to at least give everything the option to continue or be skipped. There are always those songs you put on the iPod and you kinda forget they’re there. It happens. This way at least, I got the chance to hear them if I wanted. I admit that I did take some breaks during the whole process; things like the Mildred album, those live Lovebead shows, the various CDs I’ve borrowed from Jenn since July and the group of things that I’ve acquired since I began the MQNIL. I made a special folder in the iPod for all of that stuff, and that’s what I’ve been listening to since I left work today.

Honestly, the hardest part of getting through it was during the early letters, around F and G. I did have that crazy stretch in the I’s with all of the King Crimson improv, and that was definitely something I looked forward to. Once I passed the mammothness of the M’s, I knew it would be easy the rest of the way. The only other major challenges were the S’s and W’s. Man, that last stretch after the W’s went by incredibly quickly.

So yeah, I’m glad I attempted it. I heard a lot of great music and went through stuff I might normally skip over. A fun quest indeed.

****

Last Sunday was the Shades of Winter gig, their final gig. I had a great time playing with them and playing that music. It was really nice to be able to play bass for an entire gig. What was great for me was that most of the time I didn’t even realize I was performing. It completely left my mind. I remember catching myself looking out at the audience and thinking, “wow, I’m actually playing to a group of people that’s more than just Julie, Lizzi, Eric & the Puritan Rodeo guys”. I really wasn’t nervous at all and I felt I was in a totally different headspace than usual. I mean, of course I wanted to play everything correctly, but there was something different about being a “sideman” where I could pay more attention to what was going on. I think the lack of nerves (and also that it wasn’t my music) helped my listening. I don’t know if it made me actually play better or not, but it was something I noticed.

I only noticed 2 mistakes, 1 of which was probably audible to the audience. I missed a chord in the 1st chorus of 13 Years. No big whoop. I thought that everyone played well in general. Don had some trouble in Winds of Home, but he eventually got it right (after asking me which chord he was supposed to be playing!). So yeah, on the whole I thought Don, Jenn & Susie all sounded great. I know that Don didn’t hear things like that, and pretty much had a miserable time. Well, except for US playing together. I could tell he really enjoyed that, as did I. I just think the non-enjoyment was really aimed at anyone on his left side. You know, I understand though. It was his last gig and he really didn’t want to be doing it anyway. It was a commitment, he fulfilled it. Plus he was playing 3 hours later that night and I know he was way more focused on that. I mean, he chose to leave the band for a reason and those gigs after you’ve already made the decision to leave can be difficult. I’m not condoning anything, but I understand.

Overall though, I really had a lot of fun and I’m so happy I got the chance to play with Shades once. They’re a great band and even if i wasn’t friends with them I’d still dig the music and would love to play with them on stage. Since they’re my friends, it was that much better. Thanks guys!

****

Monday’s Protean Mean practice started off with Jenn and I comparing notes about the Shades show before we moved into working a NEW SONG! Yay! Well, new for us. It’s called Trapped in Andy Land and one I wrote back in college. It’s an instrumental, so it’s our first one officially in the canon. I was really proud of Jenn learning the guitar part during the course of the practice. I think she sounded really good on it. Granted the middle section was giving her some problems (understandable, I don’t always play it right), but the rest of it she nailed. I think it’ll be a fun song to do once we get it together. As we worked on Andy Land so long, we decided not to work on anything else for the night. We were going to work on another instrumental, ME, but that’ll maybe be tackled next week.

I submitted us for SXSW the other day in hopes of making it this year. Who knows if it’ll happen this time. I’m not gonna deny that I don’t daydream about it a lot…but a lot of that is simply just introducing this band to Texas. And I would just LOVE to play a show in Dallas with all of my family and friends in attendance. I’m immensely proud of the music and the band and I really want other people to hear it too.

***

I think that’s all. In the initial entry I went into a huge political discussion at this point…hm…I guess I’ll leave that for another time. In the meantime, if you care which candidate you match up with the best, take this little test. I was really surprised who was my closest match.

One more “copy” before I go…


I want to throw stuff
October 3rd, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]

I just spend an hour, literally, typing a stupid blog and I accidentally went to another page and lost the entire thing!

I’m mad, dammit!


26278
October 2nd, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]

…and there was silence.


2 More!
October 2nd, 2007 under blog. [ Comments: none ]

As I type right now, I just finished U2′s Zooropa (freakin’ GREAT song) and I’m down to my last two: Zappa’s Zoot Allures and the California Guitar Trio’s Zundoko-Bushi. And then? J’ai finis.

I just felt like marking the occasion with a post. I’ll try to update tomorrow with thoughts on Sunday’s gig.

I have to say, that Zoot Allures is one of the coolest compositions EVER. Definitely one of Frank’s best moments.


 


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