Friday, February 26, 2010

#23 You, me, a bottle of wine and Mr. Al Green

If you want to hear some funky soul that will groove you to the depths of yourself, then maybe you should give a listen to Mr. Al Green. He has been performing music for over fifty years and is showing no signs of slowing down these days. There is just something about the music of Al Green that makes you want to stoke the fire, open up a bottle of wine with that special someone and have yourselves a groovy little evening if you catch my meaning. Green's debut album with Hi Records in 1969 was 'Green is Blues', a mellow, horn-driven album that allowed Green to show off his powerful and expressive voice. Since then he has released 27 studio albums to date, with a catalog that is a wide range of music including R&B, Soul, Blues, Funk and Pop.

Al Green has always been known for his wildly improvisational, ecstatic cries and moans that came directly from his love of gospel music. In the late-1970s he returned to the Baptist church as a preacher. He continues to record albums in a pop-gospel style and is now often referred to as the Reverend Al Green. It is awesome that this conversion did not force him to cut the close ties the singer had to the Memphis soul and music that made him famous. This spiritual shift was partly due to a crisis of the soul that Green had suffered in 1974 after he was hospitalized with second-degree burns on his back, arm, and stomach after a former girlfriend, Mary Woodson of New Jersey, had poured boiling grits on him while he was bathing in his Memphis home and then killed herself with his gun. Green referred to the incident as a wakeup call and it signified the change over to a more gospel sound for his future releases.

The writing of Al Green always revolves around love and passion which have always been at the root of soul music. Songs like 'I'm Still in Love with You', and 'L-O-V-E LOVE' are pretty self explanatory in their lyrical style. They come across as a very Marvin Gaye style but with a bit more depth and roots feeling to them. One of his songs that I really enjoy is 'Take Me To The River' off 1974's 'Al Green Explores Your Mind'. It is an extremely funky track that wasn't very famous at first but has since been covered by many different artists. In fact, quite a few people think that it is a Talking Heads song, whereas in actuality they did a cover of it. In 2004, 'Take Me to the River' was ranked number 117 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. In terms of entire albums you have to check out 1973's 'Call Me'. It is the sixth album by Green and is widely regarded as his masterpiece. Many critics and fans alike have hailed this album as one of the best soul albums ever made. He really breaks out of his own mold on this record and incorporates some country influences (He covers both Willie Nelson and Hank Williams on this album). Al often gets overlooked in the soul department but he really is one of the best there ever was. If you are looking for something to go with that wine and candle light, then I suggest you dig Al Green.

The Facts:

- Green received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
- In 2009, Al Green was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.
- Al was kicked out of his first band 'The Greene brothers' by his own father after he was caught listening to the music of Jackie Wilson.

My Fave Album:

-'The Definitive Greatest Hits', was originally released in1975 as 'The Greatest Hits' and has consistently ranked as not just a well selling compilation but also as one of the best compiled 'greatest hits' albums in music history.It blew me away on the first listen through and remains my fave soul album to date. In 2003, the album was ranked number 52 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. This is a fantastic album and packs in over twenty of Green's funkiest, most soulful hits. This album easily stands alone and should be a must have in any collection of awesome tunes. The addition of 'Take Me To The River' makes this version way more worth it then the original 1975 package. It also contains 5 other tracks that are gold star additions to the mix. I highly recommend this album if you want to enjoy some funky good times.

Dig this live video of Al performing Let's Stay Together. This man is the KING of soul.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

#22 London, England presents, Mumford & Sons

Mumford and Sons are one of the groups at the forefront of England's folk rock revival scene and they are putting together some really awesome stuff over there. Rising out of the new folk scene, their live shows really started gathering them a solid fan base that led to the band being signed to a deal with Island Records. They have really started gaining a lot of momentum in Canada after their debut album, 'Sigh No More', was released here earlier this month but it has been out in the UK since October of last year. The band consists of Marcus Mumford (vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin), Country Winston (vocals, banjo, dobro), Ted Dwane (vocals, stand up bass) and Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, organ).

This band is really true to the essence of the folk rock revival that is going on right now. Their love of country, bluegrass and folk is audible throughout their material as well as the confidence and talent to expand the sound and create something really unique. I love how the instruments compliment each other in their music. The heavy use of banjo and stand up bass give the music that old folk feel and then a loud guitar chimes in reminding you this is also a rock band. Marcus's vocals remind me of early Dave Matthews and to be honest its the kind of music I wish that Dave Matthews was still making. The melody moves up and down from quiet to loud in waves that make you want to get up and move with it almost as if the harmonies and instrumentation are laying you down in a musical trance. The music is fairly on par with what we have been hearing from the Folk Rock Revivalists of late in bands such as the Fleet Foxes, and Monsters of Folk but what really sets them apart is the energy the songs have contained within them.

Mumford and Sons carry with them the sort of energy you would expect from more of an Alt-rock band. They take that energy and bring it to the folk rock that they clearly love and really make this album stand out from the others. As they have progressed, the songs got brighter, bolder and began showing an increasing focus on their passionate and often quite intimate lyrics. The band stated in an interview that "What we write about is real, and we sing and play our instruments more passionately cos we feel like we need to. We love honest music."
One listen is all it takes to understand that they mean it when they say that. I think that is one of the things I really like about this band. The music is has an honest feel to it and comes off as mellow and low key. That truth translates to the listeners of this new wave of folk rock because it is the opposite of what a lot of music has become these days. Some of the lyrics try a little hard to be pure folk when it is obvious that the band are a bunch of city boys from London but the songs about life and heartbreak and love are as true in the city as they are in the country and that is an area where they are excelling. They’re not at their strongest when echoing the reverb-filled harmonies of Fleet Foxes, but when they drop their restraint and go for their talented instrumentation, they achieve a harmonious balance of old school folk and upbeat bluegrass. When you have a wicked banjo player, you should use him.

The Facts:

- The band actually started out as a backing band for UK artist Laura Marling (Marcus's Girlfriend) in 2007.
-Marcus was actually born in America although he was raised in England.
-They will be touring North America this summer so stay tuned.

Enjoy this awesome video of them. This is their first single 'Little lion man'

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

#21 Partying on the mothership with George Clinton and P-Funk

Once upon a time, the gods of funk sent us George Clinton. His mission was to shake things up on Earth and show us a whole new kinda groove named P-Funk. The story of Clinton's legacy began in 1956 in Plainfield, New Jersey, with a group formed by a then fifteen-year-old boy named George Clinton. This early band was called The Parliaments, a name inspired by Parliament cigarettes. Over the next few years, the group had solidified into the initial lineup of Clinton, Ray 'Stingray' Davis, Clarence 'Fuzzy' Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas.

The Parliaments did not meet with great success in the beginning. Their early recordings consisted of only a handful of singles for the relatively minor label Revilot Records. These included a hard-won hit in 1967 with "(I Wanna) Testify/I Can Feel The Ice Melting", but the band still struggled to achieve recognition. The Parliaments were just the start and have gradually become just a part of the musical collective known as P-Funk. Over the years, the sound has solidified into a terrific blend of psychedelic rock, R&B, and an outrageous style of space-funk. Through their experimentation with distortion and feedback and their outlandish live performances, future incarnations like Funkadelic gathered a small but devoted cult following. Popularity began to rise with the release of albums such as 'Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow' and 'Maggot Brain'.

In 1972, William and Phelps Collins, two brothers who eventually became more widely known as Bootsy and Catfish, respectively, joined the band. Both brothers were influential in the development of what I would call the P-Funk sound, particularly bassist Bootsy who is regarded as one of the funkiest bass players to ever live. As the sound began to take flight, so too did the lyrics as songs became increasingly populated with recurring characters in what would be known as the P-Funk mythology. Characters such as the Lollypop Man (alias the Long Haired Sucker), Dr. Funkenstein, the Atomic Dog and the Star Child began invading the albums throughout the funky collective of bands Clinton was masterminding. He then began expanding beyond the characters to an entire funky universe. In 1978 he introduces Funkadelica, a nation where "the Funk rules and can’t be either stopped or labeled". The people of Funkadelica are called Funkateers (as are P Funk fans) and are led by Uncle Jam. Their mission is to rescue dance music from the doldrums of unFunkiness.

You really have to listen to P-Funk to hear what I am talking about. I remember when I first heard a sampling of their work I was completely blown away. It is music that is so funky it makes you sweat! You are compelled to let out a massive "WHOA" and put on aviator sun glasses and clothes decked in rhinestones and get your funk on. I got to see George Clinton in Calgary once and it was the funkiest thing I have ever seen. Everyone in the crowd had on huge sunglasses and was rocking out in ecstasy from funk overload. The band played for five and a half hours which is still the longest single concert I have ever seen. I remember that after it let out we all stood there at almost 3am that we were running on empty.... We had just been funked half to death by the master!

The Facts:

- The musical collective of P-Funk includes: Parliment, Funkadelic, The Brides of Funkenstein, the P-Funk All Stars and at least a dozen or more smaller acts between 1956 and today.
- When Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, They credited sixteen people as the official band members though many more were left uncredited.
- Their official discography is tricky to nail down because of all the different band names but it's somewhere in the 30-40 range between 1956 and today.

My Fave Album:

I love the album 'Mothership Connection' It is the fourth album by Parliament, released in 1975. This concept album of P Funk mythology is definitely my fave. It is a fantastic concept album and also the first appearance for the Starchild. He is a divine alien being, who came to earth from a spaceship (his arrival is "the Mothership Connection") to bring the holy Funk (with a capital "F": the cause of creation and source of energy and all life), to humanity. As it turns out (according to The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, 1976), Starchild secretly worked for Dr. Funkenstein, the intergalactic master of outer space Funk, who is capable of fixing all of man’s ills, because the "bigger the headache, the bigger the pill" and he’s the "big pill" ("Dr. Funkenstein," from The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein). Dr. Funkenstein’s predecessors had encoded the secrets of Funk in the Pyramids because humanity wasn’t ready for its existence until the modern era. With a story like that how can you not get hooked?

I love this track, sorry I couldn't find any good quality videos but this is an awesome track.

Monday, February 22, 2010

#20 Running free with the Fleet Foxes

North America is in the midst of a rock rebellion. The plasticizing of rock that has been going on over the last twenty years is now finally receding. Folk Rock is seeing a huge reemergence as people yearn for a rock that is stripped down and back to basics. The kind of music that a group of friends would make sitting around a campfire on a summer's night. The Fleet Foxes are one of the groups at the forefront of this resurgence. The band had its beginnings in the early 2000's at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle. Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset became close friends in high school through their shared musical interests and soon began playing together. Pecknold moved into songwriting, singing and playing guitar, while Skjelset turned his efforts to playing lead guitar.They began crafting a truly unique blend of folk rock infused with catchy pop sounds and marked by their use of beautiful vocal harmonies.

After high school the band began making their rounds in Seattle, gradually getting more notice from the local press. It soon became evident that Pecknold in particular was oozing talent from every pore; his songwriting is both fresh and nostalgic. Influences from bands like CSNY and the Beach Boys, as well as artists like Bob Dylan, are readily audible in his songs but invigoratingly inventive in the stale market of rock. Interestingly enough the band did not get much notice and slowly gathered their audience mostly from word of mouth.In late 2007 when their songs on Myspace began getting over 250,000 hits they finally began to catch the attention of record companies and were signed to a deal in spite of not having recorded much material at that point. They released an e.p. entitled Sun Giant and began touring larger circuits. They gained more notoriety in Europe than in North America through their tours. The e.p. was well received by critics and fans alike but the band stated they weren't happy with it as it didn't represent their true ambitions in regards to their musical direction.

After the addition of Craig Curran (bass, guitars, vocals), Nicholas Peterson (drums, percussion) and Casey Wescott (keyboards, vocals), the band returned to the studio to release their first full album. The self titled debut Fleet Foxes was released June 3, 2008 and became one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year. One listen of this album is all it takes to get into this terrific Seattle band. Skye Skjelset's guitar weaves its way through the songs with the talent and grace of someone decades older, while drummer Nicholas Peterson does a pretty good job of conjuring up Levon Helm. His rhythm and beats keep it all in check, allowing the band to explore at their free will but able at a moment's notice to bring it all back home. Casey Wescott's wonderful piano rhythms run through tracks like "Blue Ridge Mountains", giving the album that extra something. Above it all, Fleet Foxes' harmonies remain the most instantly recognizable aspect of their music, and they've clearly written and arranged these songs to showcase their amazing shared vocals.

This group is off to a fantastic start and deserve the good press they are getting. Give them a listen to and judge for yourself!

The Facts:

-Robin Pecknold has spoke of his support for online file-sharing and the positive effect he believes it to have on music, both as an art form and as an industry. I totally respect and agree with this, especially since it's online music forms like on myspace that have launched him to fame.

-I love that the band lists their wikipedia page as their official website.

-The band will be releasing their second album later this year. Stay tuned for more info.

Dig this track; t is called "White Winter Hymnal" and is a fantastic. You can hear the influence of bands like the Byrds and Neil Young. Influences aside, it has a really unique feel to it that I really dig and I hope you do as well.
Cheers folks!

Friday, February 19, 2010

#19 Down the rabbit hole with the Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit are a wicked alternative rock band from Scotland. Starting out in 2003 Frightened Rabbit was just the name that Scott Hutchison used as a moniker for his solo act. He was joined in 2004 by his brother Grant on drums and then in 2005, guitarist Billy Kennedy completed the early lineup. Since then they have rounded out the group with the addition of guitarist/keyboardist Andy Monaghan in 2007 and another guitarist/keyboardist Gordon Skene in late 2009. Frightened Rabbit is known for their guitar heavy sound and their songs that are steeped in heartbreak and loneliness. They are often referred to as an EMO band, which may raise flags at first to some of you but, please, hear me out. This band has the depth and substance that most of the 'emo' bands are sadly lacking in. The music that they have made so far is unpolished and rough around the edges in a classic garage band way.
Hutchison grew up playing guitar, and spent his teenage years playing covers of bands like the Foo Fighters. As to the name of the band, Hutchison has stated in an interview “You know those times when you were a kid, and you were forced to socialize with your parents’ friends’ children, and they’re not necessarily your friends? I hated those social situations, so I’d more often than not go off and sit in the corner. And my mum would say I had this ‘frightened rabbit look’, that I was just totally weary and anxious to be around other children. Socially maladjusted, even then.” Hutchison spent the first three years home-recording and assembling the sad songs of heartbreak and loss that would dominate the first Frightened Rabbit album, 2006's 'Sing The Greys', which he and his brother recorded while they were students at the Glasgow School of Art.

Hutchison's deep, moaning falsetto voice and his thick Scottish accent give the band a different sound then a lot of other bands at the moment. His talent for producing highly personal songwriting and his fierce, lifelong connection to the guitar make the music very addictive. Grant Hutchison and Billy Kennedy form a great rhythm section. Grant's drumming is very hard and loud and Kennedy throws down the bass lines at a level of funk that surprises at every turn. So far they have released two studio albums and one live album. Their new record debuts in March of this year and if it is anything like the single "Swim Until You Can't See Land" then it will be dynamite.

My Fave Album:
-I would have to say my fave so far is 2008's Midnight Organ Flight. This record rocks in a clever but purposefully naïve pop/rock kind of way. It is an intense album that broadcasts its unique sound with a nice mixture of indie rock and folk. The beautiful sadness that flows through the album is warm and comforting. It is the kind of record that goes well with a rainy night or after a moment of personal self-reflection. "Keep Yourself Warm" is one of my fave tracks on this album. I love its honesty and poignancy not to mention the fantastic vocals dealt out by Scott Hutchison. All in all this is a great album and definitely the one that got me into Frightened Rabbit. The band sounds more complete on this one and the guitars blend so well with the vocals and rhythm section. A great work by these young Scots that hopefully is a sign that their new album will also be a further step for this band.

Thanks for stopping by I appreciate all the support you all have shown so far!

Enjoy this awesome song off their new album due out March 2010. The track is "Swim Until You Can't See Land"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Welcome to our new Editor!

We are now joined by literature whiz Meg! She has kindly offered to help us in an editing capacity. The blog will now be a bit better in the grammar department! Welcome aboard to Meg.

#18 The one, the only, Bob Dylan

If you have never heard of Bob Dylan you should probably just go back to the moon or wherever you have been hiding over the last fifty years. Bob Dylan, often called the Father of Folk Rock, is generally recognized as one of the top 3 American writers of all time and named as the top solo musician in Rock History. His performing career spans over five decades and his discography extends from the early sixties and contains over 30 albums and counting. Artists like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and Tom Waits have publicly stated that Dylan has profoundly affected his career. There are universities in the USA that teach degree programs in Dylanology. In 2008 the Pulitzer Prize committee invented a prize just for Dylan for what they called his 'profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.'The man is one of the greatest rock icons of all time--even if you aren't much of a fan you can't really deny that.

I am going to write a different sort of article on Bob because there are books that could fill a room on him and I don't have a degree in Dylanology.

I first started getting into Bob Dylan when I was about 13. I was watching the new documentary series 'The Beatles Anthology' (a fantastic series by the way) and I saw a segment where the Beatles professed how much they loved the music of Dylan and how much he influenced them early on. That influence is clearly felt on albums like 'Help' ("Hide Your Love Away") and Rubber Soul ("Norwegian Wood"). Getting this kind of high praise from the Beatles was more then enough motivation for me to start checking out Dylan's work. I started out right from the beginning with his self titled debut album from 1962; he had already been touring the coffee house scenes for over 3 years at the time of the record's release. From there I dove in hungrily with albums like 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' (1963) and 'Highway 61 Revisited' (1965). Those are two of my favorite albums in all of music. The lyrics are amazing! If you took away the music the songs would stand alone as beautiful poetry. After getting into those two albums I was hooked and have loved Dylan since.

I first got to see Dylan in 2007 in Victoria, BC. This was in the middle of his Modern Times tour. The show was brilliant and Dylan was in top form that night, belting out classics such as "Maggie's Farm" and, one of my personal faves, "Don't Think Twice It's Alright". It blew my mind and has totally solidified me as a Dylan fan.

In October of 2008 I got to see him again in Victoria, BC and this time I got to meet him in person! I was working as a medic at the Save On Foods Arena and I figured the chance at meeting Dylan was well worth the risk of being fired so I snuck backstage and managed to introduce myself to him. I got to talk to him for a few minutes which mostly consisted of me trying to refrain from shouting out "I'M NOT WORTHY!". He asked me if my name was connected to Peter Tosh and I told him how my parents were huge reggae music fans. I made a quick exit soon after thanking him immensely for the opportunity to meet him and his staff gave me a sweet pin with the tour insignia on it that I still wear on my jacket to this day. In person Dylan seemed like a really down to earth guy for the most part. I was actually a bit surprised by that, seeing as the man is a living legend.

What really surprised me was that a lot of people walked out halfway through the show. The local rag (Times Colonist) gave the show a horrible review saying how bad Dylan sounded and that he should stop touring as he doesn't have what he used to. I haven't read anything in that paper in years and have sent them many letters stating that I think their music reviewer should be fired for incompetence--Bob Dylan gets a crap review but Def Lepporard or Cher or Brian Addams get glowing reviews? Clearly this man is going to Rock and Roll Hell for that one. Give me a break people, that show was dynamite! Bob was in top form and the backing band rocked the house down. The only people that were disappointed were those that showed up somehow expecting the 25 year old version of Dylan to hit the stage..... Well maybe after that miracle he would have introduced John Lennon back from the dead for a one-night-only duet. Personally, I love the fact that he can mix things up and perform the songs differently all the time. How boring would it be for him to do his old songs exactly the same for over 40 years? To those who said "boo hoo he didnt play the guitar?": who cares?! He is a singer above all and he sung every song that night. Its not like seeing a Jimi Hendrix concert and having Jimi play piano all night.
If nothing else, this concert was WELL worth the fifty dollar price of admission just for his awesome version of "Stuck Inside of Mobile".

The Facts:
-Bob was born Robert Allen Zimmerman.
-He has toured almost continuously since 1980 in what is commonly referred to as "The Never Ending Tour".
-Bob has won 11 Grammys, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Pulitzer and a score of other awards including two Honorary Doctorates of Music
-Bob was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
-His son Jakob went on to form the band The Wallflowers and is perhaps the most successful of any rock star's offspring.

My Fave Album:
-My fave Bob Dylan album changes all the time. Lately, it has been 1975's Blood On The Tracks. It was his 15th album and was partially recorded back in Dylan's home in Minnesota. The record is a bit darker then usual with the lyrics mostly revolving around heartache, anger, and loneliness. Dylan has rarely commented on this album but it is said by Dylan researchers that the songs came from his personal troubles at the time, such as the separation from his wife Sara. It is an amazing record and has some of Dylan's best work on it including: "Simple Twist of Fate", "Shelter from the Storm" and "Tangled up in Blue". This really is one of those albums that is solid gold from start to finish. I can't say enough good stuff about how much I dig this album. If you haven't dug it yet, then I highly suggest you go out and do so.

I love this early music video from 1965 for "Subterranean Homesick Blues":

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

#17 Sabbath meets Floyd in Black Mountain

Vancouver BC is quickly becoming the kind of place for music that San Francisco was famous for in the late 60's. Obviously not in the same vein, but in terms of the amount of talent then sure. One of the cities biggest acts lately is Black Mountain. Formed in 2004, they are just a part of the Black Mountain Army, a group artistic collective of mostly musicians, from Vancouver's East end. Most of Black Mountain participate in a number of other band's as well including: Pink Mountaintops, The Black Halo's, Jerk With A Bomb, and more then a half dozen other projects. Black Mountain itself consists of Stephen McBean (guitar, vocals), Amber Webber (vocals), Matt Camirand (bass), Jeremy Schmidt (keyboards) and Joshua Wells (drums). For the majority of their career, most of the band have also worked day jobs at the outreach center 'Insite' in East Van. When asked about their involvement with Insite, the band replied that they wanted to continue the work they were doing there to help people with drug addiction and mental illness and that working there also keeps them grounded as they begin to become more famous.

The music that comes out of Black mountain is all shades of blue and black. Metal intertwines perfectly with Blues and Psychedelic Rock like ingredients in some complex potion being stirred up by magicians on a hilltop during a thunderstorm. At times their sound can be very experimental. At others, it ranges somewhere between progressive rock, Blues Rock and Metal. Amber Webber's vocals sound like a darker, more mystical version of Grace Slick and her vocals perfectly coexist with those of Stephen McBean's. The Rhythm section are hard and thunderous with just the right amount of funk on tracks like 'Druganaut' and are reminiscent of the back bone of Led Zeppelin created by John Paul Jones and John Bonham. The guitar work in Black Mountain done by Stephen McBean is phenomenal and influences can be felt in his work from all over music. He seems just as adept in more slow, folk rock tunes like 'Stay Free' as he is in harder edge tracks like 'No Satisfaction' which sounds a bit like a cross between the Rolling Stones and the Velvet Underground with McBean masterfully channeling Lou Reed's murky vocal tone.

Their music doesn't really lend itself to singles or hit tracks but the albums themselves are solid gold for those times when you want to throw on a record and hear a complete piece of work. I actually enjoy that they make records for people who enjoy records, not just crafting an album around one track they hope to score big with a flashy music video. This is a tight five piece band and I was very pleasantly surprised when they proved just as talented live as they do on record. I saw them live at the Pemberton Festival in 2008 and while the set seemed a little rushed, they managed to perform 'In The Future' almost in its entirety. Songs like “Stormy High” and “Angels” were definitely the highlights of that set for me as McBean and crew rocked the side stage better then almost every other act to hit that stage during the course of the festival.

The Facts:
-In 2005, the band opened for Coldplay on their Twisted Logic Tour for three weeks.
-The band has really started taking off after the media exposure they got for 'Stay Free' appearing on the Spider Man 3 soundtrack.
-During a show in Oklahoma City in 2005, the band realized the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne was in the crowd. Impressed by what he saw, Coyne invited the band to crash at his house. "In the morning, we looked outside, and Wayne had all these bubble machines going," says Amber Webber, "He gave us one, and we used it on tour."

Fave Album:

My fave album so far is 'In The Future' (2008). This album breaks free from industry patterns and restraint with every track. Critic Adam Moerder commented, “The eight-minute ‘Tyrants,’ sounds like a Middle Earth baptism by fire.” "In The Future also features the Pink Floyd homage “Wild Wind". This record is another fine example of what I would call a 'Rainy day album'. One of the many shining moments on the album comes in the form of “Evil Ways,”a very fun jazzy song that is one of my faves of the album. I highly recommend this record it is another great example of the fantastic talent we have in BC these days.

Dig this video of 'Set Us Free' and see what is so awesome about Black Mountain.

Monday, February 15, 2010

#16 Garage Rock demolition duo 'The Pack A.D.'

The Pack After Death, commonly known as the Pack A.D are an explosive band out of Vancouver BC's lower east side. The duo consists of Becky Black (guitar, singer,songwriter) and Maya Miller (drummer, songwriter). These two extremely talented musicians formed the group in 2006 and since then they have been rocking the hell outta the B.C. music scene and are starting to get worldwide attention. It's clear that these two are not going to remain unknown for very long and in my opinion, their work is some of the best stuff I have heard in a long time. They have that pure raw essence of what true garage rock is all about. Becky Black has a voice that rock has been missing for a long time. She sounds part Janis Joplin and part Jack White, with a little Patti Smith thrown in for good measure. You can feel the spirit of punk flowing through her as she howls and moans out the lyrics with such passion that you can tell she could really care less if you were even listening. Maya Miller thrashes the drums with an garage rock intensity we haven't really seen since Dave Grohl in his Nirvana days.

I sort of dug this music right off the bat, but the more I listen to it the more I love it. When I first heard one of their tracks on 'Grooveshark Radio' I thought it was the group 'Black Mountain, also of Vancouver, as both bands share a somewhat Garage/Blues-Rock feel to their music. Black Mountain however, tends to lean more towards Psychedelic Blues-Rock, while The Pack A.D tend to go for a more classic Garage Rock feel with a definite love of Blues and Punk. I really can't say enough about the soulful vocals of Becky Black. Her talent is downright scary for someone so young. It's as if you had a mix of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick and you used that hybrid to replace Jack White in the White Stripes. Her voice can sound as ancient as if she had sung straight blues for the last sixty years while at the drop of a hat she can totally switch it up to feisty garage punk rock with high energy and passion pouring out the microphone like a sonic landslide. This mixture gives their music so much depth that one can't help but become a fan. Very few bands that are out right now can do both harder edge rock and passionate blues at the same time and the fact that The Pack A.D. do it so flawlessly is as scary as it is awesome.

The self released debut CD 'Tintype' (2007), had Vancouverites with their ears to the speakers, begging for more. The record blasts out of the starting gate with the Heavy Blues Rock track 'Gold Rush'. The wild fury of Becky's guitar instantly hooks you and then she opens her mouth and lets loose with vocals powerful enough to really steal your soul. Tintype is a great mix of classic sounding blues like 'Cabin', but even on the most basic songs there is something more there. One listen to killer tracks like All Damn Day Long are enough to sell you on this amazing duo. The follow-up album, 'Funeral Mixtape' (2008), got the group reviews in almost every major music magazine (Uncut gave the album 4 stars). My fave quote was from a music critic down in Texas who said this of the duo "It’s like meeting a cute girl for the first time in junior high mixed with being run over by rusty ‘72 Ford pickup". You can't really disagree with him when you hear an album with such intense blues, punk, grind, thrash and a deep, soulful swagger that pretty much turns your admiration into a deep rooted lust with one listen. The first track 'Blackout', is a powerful bluesy rocker that hits you like a whiskey soaked brick to the face. The sweet guitar intro on 'I don't Have To Like You' sounds very reminiscent of Clapton on 'Ride the River' (off his collaborative album with JJ Cale 'Road to Escondido') is also a fave of mine off the album. I highly recommend this group to anyone who likes blues-rock or anyone who is a fan of bands like The White Stripes, Black Mountain or The Black Keys. Their new album 'We Kill Computers' is released on April 27th, 2010. Until then, stay tuned for more info on this fantastic local duo.

The Facts:

-Becky and Maya met in 2005 at the gas station where Becky was working in East Van, and they hit it off and decided to get some music happening.
- CBC radio announces that apparently they are big fans of soup....
-Sorry not a whole of facts so far they are a very cryptic band and still pretty new! Stay tuned tho!

My Fave Album:
-At this point I would have to go with 'Funeral Mix-Tape'. It is just so damn good I kind of want to listen to it again and again. I just bought it on vinyl so I am stoked to hear them in that format and not just on the computer. Stand out tracks are definitely 'Making Gestures' (the single), Blackout, Dannemora Blues and 'Wolves and Werewolves'. That being said, the entire album is very addictive and easy to listen to from start to finish.

Here is a clip of their video for the Making Gestures song. Dang I really like this track. Her vocals are so good its freaky!

Friday, February 12, 2010

#15 All aboard the Led Zeppelin

On 12 January 1969 Led Zeppelin released their first album to generally negative reviews but huge commercial success at the same time. It was pretty clear that the fans knew something that the critics didn't. For the time, this was something of an enigma. All the reviewers thought that Led Zeppelin had no future and at the same time they were dominating the airwaves and filling stadiums at a rapid pace. Over the years many of those critics have changed their minds and have admitted that Led Zeppelin consisted of more then 'Big hair and Bigger guitar solos'. Now, in 2010, Led Zeppelin is considered one of the greatest Rock bands in history. The band consisted of Jimmy Page (lead guitar), Robert Plant (lead vocals), John Paul Jones (bass guitar, keyboards) and John Bonham (drums, percussion). They brilliantly crafted a sound that combined the fiery intensity of hard rock with the depth and soul of the American Blues greats. Led Zeppelin exploded into the 70's, practically redefining rock in the process. Their massive impact has extended through the years since they disbanded, influencing countless musicians from all over the world of Rock. Then and now, Led Zeppelin are one of the legendary bands for the ages. Their almost mystical power to evoke primal passions and their intense ability at creating musical and lyrical genius have kept fans wanting more for almost 40 years. The combination of Jimmy Page’s powerful, layered guitar work, Robert Plant’s trademark piercing vocals, John Paul Jones’ melodic bass playing and beautiful keyboard work, and of course, John Bonham’s epic, animalistic drumming (his style actually influenced Jim Henson to create the character 'Animal', the drummer on the Muppet show). Being so jam packed with talent definitely made them a band whose musical magic that has proved enchanting and irresistible.

When Jimi Page formed the band in 1968, his friend Keith Moon (of The Who) remarked that such a band 'would go down like a Lead Zeppelin' which of course gave Page the idea for what to name his new band. I thought it was cool when I read that Page intentionally misspelled the name as Led Zeppelin so that fans wouldn't mispronounce the name. It is one of those moments of Rock irony that the career of Led Zeppelin would be the exact opposite of what Moon had remarked. To me that stands up there with the record executive who turned down The Beatles, saying "No thanks, guitar groups are on the way out". In the 70's, Led Zeppelin became so huge that they were dubbed 'The Biggest Band In The World' and were often called the 'Beatles of the 70's' (something page would always deny, stating "Our music sounds nothing like theirs").

Time To Party:

The 70's saw them becoming incredibly rich and famous all over the globe. Their antics on tour began to become the stuff of myth and legends and what we now would consider the stereotypical Rock Star behavior. They traveled from gig to gig aboard a Jet airliner they renamed 'The Starship'. Rumors spread like wildfire about how they would rent out entire flors of their hotels and always trash their rooms, throwing Tv's out of the high windows. The debauchery was getting so ridiculous that they began to be banned for life from certain higher class hotels around the world. One story told how John Bonham rode a motorcycle down one of the hallways of a hotel during a massive hotel party. The passionate energy that the music was steeped in probably helped to create this mythic vision of Led Zeppelin as the rowdiest rockers in the world. They were crafting that famous slogan of 'Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll' and were living and breathing it as they took over the world with their loud, powerful music.
Sadly, the partying lifestyle took its toll and on the 24th of September 1980, John Bonham was found dead after having aspirated on his own vomit as a result of severe alcohol abuse. The surviving members of Led Zeppelin disbanded and released a statement saying "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."

The Facts:
-Between 1969 and 1971 they released four of the greatest Rock albums in history (Led Zeppelin 1-4)
-Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and won the Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2005.
-Page was accused of plagiarism in the way he used material from the old Blues musicians of the American south. Over the years many have questioned the authenticity and identification in the music of Led Zeppelin (spawning the Homer Simpson quote "Look honey, there goes Jimmy Page, the greatest thief of American black music that ever walked the earth").
-Eight albums and one released after Bonham's death form the backbone of the Led Zeppelin discography.

Fave Album:
-My fave would be the infamous album with no name that was released in late 1971. This infamous album featured four symbols on the inner sleeve, each chosen by a member of the group to signify himself. Jimi Page explained that the cover art was intended to bring out a city/country dichotomy that had initially surfaced on their previous album, 'Led Zeppelin III'.
"It represented the change in the balance which was going on. There was the old countryman and the blocks of flats being knocked down. It was just a way of saying that we should look after the earth, not rape and pillage it. The cover was supposed to be something that was for other people to savour rather than for me to actually spell everything out, which would make the whole thing rather disappointing on that level of your own personal adventure into the music."

I think that is pretty well said in my opinion. This album is quite simply one of the most awesome albums in Rock. Every track on this album is pure gold and to have an album like that, where each track is so amazing, is pretty rare in any genre of music. The album bolts right out of the starting gate with the pumped up rocker 'Black Dog'. From there it carries right on into another explosive rocker 'Rock and Roll' before switching things up a bit and diving into a fantasy epic right out of Middle Earth with the folk rock tale 'The Battle of Evermore'. It finishes side one with a song that is arguably one of the greatest songs of the last hundred years, Led Zeppelin's opus 'Stairway to Heaven'. This song has been played so many times that many people can't stand it anymore and has been talked about to death so if you want to know more check out Stairway to Heaven. Just when you think it can't get any better, Side two begins with 'The Misty Mountain Hop', which is one of my fave Zep tracks (I totally dig Plant's vocals in this song). From there you get to hear one of the greatest drum intros ever as 'Four Sticks' begins. The next track 'Going to California' is mellow and beautiful. If you close your eyes, you can picture Robert Plant sitting on a stool with a smoke and a glass of wine, conjuring up this tale of the search for love like some sort of musical shaman (it's rumored that he wrote it about Joni Mitchell whom he and page were totally infatuated with at the time). The album closes with the only admitted cover song of the record 'When the Levee Breaks'. It was originally a blues song from the twenties that was written about the great flood of 1929 in Mississippi. This song starts off with another fantastic drum intro by John Bonham except this intro has way more power and kick to it. It sounds as if he is beating his drums half to death in the pursuit of perfection (which he achieves here). The harmonica on this track is staggering in its blues filled intensity, helping to give the song that extra something that turns it from good to great.

See you all on Monday and thanks for dropping by!


Here is an awesome live version of 'Going to California'

Ladies and Gentlemen.... Janis Joplin

Just a quick post, thought you would all enjoy this video of Janis Joplin. This is a fantastic live cut from the Tom Jones show. I loved it and hope you enjoy it!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

#14 Neil Young, The Godfather of Grunge

Neil Young is not only an artist, he is a force upon the world of music. Since his breakthrough performances as a member of 'The Buffalo Springfield' back in 1966. He has forged a career that is deeply personal and often politically outspoken. His distinctive guitar work and unique tenor voice stand out front in all of his songs. Along with artists such as Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, Neil is one of those singers who you just instantly recognize. Since his debut he has grown immensely as an artist experimenting widely with differing music styles, from swing, jazz and rockabilly blues, to electronic music, industrial, alternative country and grunge. Young's profound influence on the emerging grunge scene caused critics to dub him "the Godfather of Grunge".

A Bit Of History:
After growing up in small town Manitoba, Neil migrated to Toronto, where he started getting popular as a folk singer on the Coffee house circuit. He soon migrated to a more Rocking sound and played with a few different bands over the next few years including groups such as the
Squires and the Mynah Birds (a group centered around future funk rocker Rick James). Also in the Mynah Birds was Bassist Bruce Palmer who would join Neil in Buffalo Springfield. Stephen Stills met Neil in Toronto in 1966 and convinced him he should move to California to join their new group that Stills was creating with fellow guitarist Richie Furay. Neil agreed and brought Palmer with him and a short time later Buffalo Springfield was born. This was really one of the first super groups in Rock and Roll. The group contained such an uncontainable pool of talent that few were surprised when they broke up only two years later to pursue solo careers. Stills, Young and Furay were all fantastic song writers, talented guitarists and unique sounding vocalists. Throughout his career, Neil has rejoined Stephen Stills on a number of projects including the band 'Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young' and 'The Stills-Young Band' as well as assisting each other on many of their various solo albums.

With Crazy Horse:
To discuss Neil Young you have to at least touch on Crazy Horse. Throughout his career Neil has released twenty albums with Crazy Horse. He has said in an interview that his work with Crazy Horse was “
the essence of my musical life. This is the core, the smoldering thing I come back to over and over again....If I had never done anything else, the Crazy Horse stuff would just stand on its own.”
Neil had known musicians
Danny Whitten, Billy Talbot, and Ralph Molina (of the band 'The Rockets') for about a year or so before he bumped into them again and asked them to form his backing trio. They accepted soon after and he gave them the name 'Crazy Horse'. With them, Neil crafted some of the best work of his career including 1969's 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' and partially on his 1970 album 'After the Goldrush'.
Whitten's death from a heroin O.D in 1972, mere days after being fired from the band because of his substance abuse problem had a profound affect on Neil. He was quoted saying "
It blew my mind. Fucking blew my mind. I loved Danny. I felt responsible. And from there, I had to go right out on this huge tour of huge arenas. I was very nervous and ... insecure."
It took Neil years to get over the death of Whitten. His next three albums were all very dark and crafted around themes such as the hollowness of the music buisness and of commercial success as well as the tolls exacted by hard drug use, specifically Whitten's death from heroin. Eventually, Neil and the surviving members of Crazy Horse decided to carry on and released their first of many albums sans Whitten, with 1975's '

Neil Young's solo career over the last forty years has been all over the musical map. He showed us his darker side in the 70's and his experimental side in the 80's. He brought it all back home in the 90's and is now bigger then ever in 2010. Neil has found himself (albeit somewhat reluctantly) as a living icon of Rock and Roll. One thing I have always really enjoyed about Neil's music is that when he creates an album, he does so because he feels the need to make that particular album. He has never cared about how well the albums sell or are received by critics. This mindset has often led him down some strange roads that lose some fans along the way, but overall it has made him a better artist and has given him fans throughout many genres of music.

The Facts:

- Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Twice! Once in 1995 for his solo work and again in 1997 for his work with Buffalo Springfield.
- Neil has directed five film under his pseudonym Bernard Shakey.
- His solo discography alone includes 33 studio albums, and six live albums which makes him one of the most prolific artists in Rock History.

My Fave Album:

-I would have to say my fave album is 1970's 'After the Goldrush'. Most of the album was recorded at a make-shift basement studio in Young's California home. Initially he dreamed it up as a project to merge CSNY with Crazy Horse although in the end Crazy Horse appears minimally on the album and only Stephen Stills is present from CSNY. The album was not very well received critically back in 1970 but over the years has become known as one of Neil's best albums as well as one of the greatest albums in Rock History. Songs such as 'After the Goldrush', 'Southern Man' and 'Don't Let it Bring You Down' contain some of Neil's best lyrics in my opinion and they are all sung so beautifully that in parts his voice is almost other-worldly. The combo of Whitten, Young and Stills sharing vocals on tracks such as 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' and 'Till the Morning Comes' are sweet vocal bliss! This album is a Rock classic and is perfect to listen to while having tea on a rainy day or if you are just in the mood for something a bit more mellow but still want that power that comes from a beautiful Rock record.

Cheers folks, until next time we meet.


Here is a sweet live segment of Neil from 1971. He interacts with the crowd a bit then jumps into an outstanding version of 'Don't Let It Bring You Down'

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Easier Access!

Newly added is a pages box on the left so you can easily pick from Band Bio's, reviews, etc.
Let me know if you like it!


#13 And Now for Something Completely Different...

Today I bring you an article that strays a little from what you might be used to. We are going to present to you Justice!

Justice is an Electro House duo out of France who's first album was nominated for a Grammy for "Best Electronic/Dance Album", but lost to The Reminder by Feist.

Early Beginnings

Justice first made their break with a remix of "Never be Alone" by Simian. From there, they were signed by Ed Banger Records. From there, they released one original track, Never Be Alone," and then worked on remixes for many larger mainstream artists such as; Daft Punk, Brittany Spears and Fat Boy Slim.

In 2005, Justice released their first single "Waters of Nazareth" and put out their debut album in 2007. Since the release of and with their appearances at such festivals as Coachella, Fuji Rock Festival, Pukkelpop, and others world wide, their populatirty has sky rocketed.

Favorite Album

Well with only one studio album, †, I would have to say that it is my favorite album. They do have a very good live album/dvd set called A cross the Universe, which is definitely worth checking out. It documents their shenanigans during their North American tour. Just to give you an example, at one point Xavier breaks a bottle over this one guy and they get arrested. It's pretty awesome.

All and all, if you like the beats, but still want some banging tracks to please your inner rocker check out Justice.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

#12. Rocking On With The Rolling Stones

It was June, 1962 and six young English men were crowded outside of a phone booth as guitarist Brian Jones was trying to place an advertisement with the local magazine 'Jazz News'. The young man panicked when he was asked the name of their group because it had no name yet at that point. He looked around anxiously and saw a Muddy Waters LP beside him and blurted out the name of the first track he focused on, 'Rollin Stone'. The Rolling Stones were born that day and have been rocking the world ever since.

The original and still considered the classic lineup was Brian Jones (slide guitar, harmonica, harpsichord), Ian Stewart (keyboards), Mick Jagger (Lead vocals), Keith Richards (lead guitar), Bill Wyman (bass guitar) and Charlie Watts Drums) completed the early lineup. Stewart, deemed unsuitable as a teen idol, was removed from the official lineup in 1963 but continued as the band's road manager and occasional keyboardist until his death in 1985. Brian Jones was fired from the band in 1969 due to his increasingly erratic behavior as a result of his heavy substance abuse and that due to his previous drug convictions, he would not receive a permit to tour North America that November. Bill Wyman quit the band in 1992 after years of being dissatisfied by Jagger/Richards monopolizing the songwriting within the group and was quoted as saying that he was 'simply tired from the relentless years of touring'. Jagger, Richards and Watts have remained the core of the group to this day along with Ron Wood (previously from the group 'The Faces') who has been with the band since 1976 (playing rhythm guitar and bass).

In 1967, the Stones were caught up in the 'Sgt. Pilcher conspiracy' when Mick and Keith were arrested for drug possession by narcotics officer Sgt. Norman Pilcher. Over the next two years, Brian Jones would also be arrested along with John Lennon and George Harrison of the Beatles and well known folk singer Donovan. It was eventually proved that Pilcher was planting the drugs his victims were convicted of possessing to satisfy the tabloid newspapers. In 1973 Pilcher was finally arrested and charged for this conspiracy and served four years in prison. Though Jagger, Richards and Jones all escaped any lasting sentencing it was only the beginning of the legendary drug use by the Stones. Keith Richards in particular began drifting away from the softer psychedelics of the sixties moving into harder substances such as cocaine and heroin. His substance abuse is so legendary that comedians often joke "There are no more drugs because Keith already did them all!" (Keith himself has been quoted as saying that he even snorted his own father’s ashes. Richards father died in 2002 and was cremated. Richards apparently mixed some of the ashes of his father with some cocaine). Within the Stones, the only thing more legendary then Keith's drug use over the last 40 years is Micks love affair with women (I saw them in 2003 in Toronto and they announced over the loud speaker "Could all women ages 20-40 with no ovaries please report to Mick's dressing room").

The Stones started out mainly as a Rhythm and Blues band, mostly performing covers of songs by the American Blues greats like Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry. Since 1996, their albums have featured mainly Jagger/Richards songs. Over the years, they gradually moved further away from the classic R&B sounds and moved into Pop music to better ride the wave of the British Invasion of music into the USA. Over the years the Stones have created a unique blend of Rock, Blues, Country, funk and R&B. Planning to tour again in 2010, the Stones will celebrate their 50th anniversary together in 2012. As of today, they are already the longest-lived continuously active rock group in history. They are also, according to many critics and fans, 'the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.' Throughout the last five decades of shifting tastes in the arena of popular music, the Stones have kept on rolling, always attempting to adapt to the latest sounds and styles without straying too far from their origins as a blues-loving, guitar-based rock and roll band. Trying to stay with the trends over the years has not always been easy for the group. Many of their albums over the last twenty years have met with less then favorable reviews (they haven't had a number one record in North America since 1981).

A lot of fans have criticized the band for straying so far from its origins and for some of the internal decisions made throughout the years (the firing of Brian Jones in particular alienated a large amount of fans). While the writing behind the music has not been as fantastic in recent years, the live shows are still bringing back the fans again and again. Their live shows are always exciting and full of variety (having over twenty albums to choose from helps). The Stones live shows are in such demand that they have continually gotten bigger and bigger over the last twenty years. In February 2006 the band played a free concert with a claimed 1.5 million attendance at the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. The 'Bigger Bang' album has been the first Stones record in almost twenty years to receive generally favorable reviews. The 'Bigger Bang' tour of 2006 was named the highest-grossing tour of all time, earning well over 437 million dollars. Love them or hate them, the Rolling Stones are a force upon music very similar to the Beatles. In the late sixties, it was often said that you were either a Stones fan or a Beatles fan, something which the world media took and turned into the legendary (but false) story that was the Beatles and Stones rivalry. With their 50th anniversary coming up in a few years, it seems their really is no stopping the legendary Rolling Stones.

The Facts:

-The Stones have released over 90 singles, more than two dozen studio albums, and numerous compilation and live albums. Ten of their studio albums are among Rolling Stone magazine's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

-They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

-As big as they are, they have only ever won 2 grammy awards.

-Although it was reported that Brian Jones died from misadventure after drowning in his swimming pool, many fans have maintained that it was murder over the last 40 years finally resulting in private investigators actually gathering enough evidence over the years to warrant British police to announce the re-opening of the case after all these years to examine the claims that he was murdered.

My Fave Album:

This was actually a bit harder then I thought it would be. Although I really love the older albums like '12x5' and 'Aftermath' I think if I had to pick a fave album it would be 1968's 'Beggars Banquet'. This was the final album to feature the classic lineup before the departure of Brian Jones and I always felt the group was missing something without him. This album also saw the stones getting more primal as well as returning to their rock roots after departing into the realms of Psychedelia and Pop over their previous few albums. One of the last contributions from Brian Jones was the terrific slide guitar that he played on 'No Expectations' (the slide guitar intro is fantastic) and the intense harmonica playing on 'Parachute Woman' (a great song featuring Mick channeling Muddy Waters in his best sexual boasting). The album also has fan fave 'Sympathy for the Devil' which I think is one of the best rock tracks ever laid down. While this album doesn't hold tons of their famous stuff, I think this is my fave album because of the feel it holds between its covers. It has that raw, murky feel to it that came from being recorded live on a cassette player with open microphones set between the band members and growls out of your speakers in tones that are rich in that old style blues rock atmosphere.

Enjoy this clip of The Rolling Stones live at The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. held in 1968! this was a momentous show and if you don't know about it check it out!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

#11 The Hidden Legends... The Kinks

When the Kinks first landed on the British music scene in 1964, they were following on the heels of groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones but they were delving further into a frontier of Rock and Roll that was years ahead of its time. The Kinks were one of the early pioneers of both the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal genres. Throughout the years the band has changed members quite often except for brothers Ray and Dave Davies who formed the core of the group. The group initially consisted of Ray (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Dave (lead guitar, vocals), Pete Quaife (bass guitar, backup vocals), and Mick Avory (drums and percussion).The Davies brothers, while both being musical geniuses, were legendary for their never ending battles and constant fighting. They practically wrote the book on feuding brothers in a rock band decades before Oasis.

The decades long feud aside, Ray Davies is almost indisputably rock's most literate, witty and insightful songwriter, while Dave Davies on the other hand, is renowned for his edgy hard-rock style guitar playing many years before hard rock had really begun to surface. This incredibly tight band had so much talent that it went to their heads rather quickly and egos began to clash with often disastrous results as early as 1965. One of the more famous incidents involved Dave and Mick Avory getting into a fight on stage one night in Cardiff in 1965. After running through a ramped up version of "You Really Got Me", Davies insulted Avory and kicked over his drum set. Avory responded by hitting Davies in the back of the head with his hi-hat stand, rendering him unconscious, before fleeing from the scene, fearing that he had killed his band mate. Luckily, Davies lived and was taken to Cardiff Royal Infirmary, where he received 16 stitches to his head. These types of on stage violence, especially the ones between Ray and Dave (often degrading into on stage brawls), resulted in The Kinks becoming victims of a 1965 blacklist by the American Federation of Musicians.

This inability to tour America during the height of the 'British Invasion' kept them from attaining the vast commercial success of groups like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. This inability was a shame because it kept them in a sort of underground status for much of the mid sixties but definitely contributed to the growing cult following of The Kinks. Partly because of this, The Kinks remain unique among the first wave of the British Invasion bands. It is interesting if you think about it that The Beatles broke up because they couldn’t remain together. The Rolling Stones and The Who stayed together because they couldn’t afford to break up. Within the Kinks, the battling brothers Davies seemingly stayed together out of spite for each other, and to spite the radio stations that all but ignored the band after its initial string of AM hits. It was possibly this inability to cross over into America that contributed to the new direction the band started to take later in 1965 and early 1966. Whereas before there were the pulverizing rocker songs like the pre-punk 'You Really Got Me' and 'All Day And All Of The Night' which were full of primal energy combined with the berserk fury of Dave Davies’ guitar, there were now songs that began to feature lyrics rich in social commentary, and a unique tone of every day life in English village life.

These trends continued into 1968, with the band even retiring from touring in order to focus on their studio work much like the Beatles had done in 1966. This move resulted in the release of legendary album 'The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society' which was a concept album and sort of the Kinks answer to 'Sgt Pepper' by The Beatles. While initially selling under 100,000 copies, it has gone on to become their greatest selling album and is recognized as one of the greatest concept albums of all time. The release of this album signaled a shift towards concept albums with increasingly story driven themes on their future releases during the rest of their thirty year span. Over the years, having gone from rowdy hit makers of the mid sixties to late Sixties cult heroes to bonafide arena-filling rock stars in the Seventies and Eighties, the Kinks are back to being a little under most peoples radar and have returned to their position as cult icons in the world of Rock.

The Facts:

- The Kinks remain the only band from the original British invasion with all the original members still alive.
-The career of The Kinks spanned more than 30 years between 1964 and 1996. In that time the group released 25 studio albums and had dozens of hit singles.
-All of the original members of The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
-Rumors have been spreading since late 2008 that a Kinks reunion is in the works.... stay tuned in regards to that. I will let you know more as it develops.

My Fave Album:

- I would have to say my fave album is Lola. It is a really solid album from start to finish and the satire and scathing views on the music industry are awesome. From tracks such as 'The Moneygoround' about the greed in the music business having little to do with the music, to the epic song of road life and travel in 'This Time Tomorrow' to the phenomenal track 'Lola' which is without a doubt the most famous song about a romantic encounter with a transvestite in all of Rock history. That being said, every track on the album is gold and it is a very easy to recommend album.

Enjoy this awesome live version of 'Lola'!
see you folks tomorrow for new posts!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Bob Marley

Happy Birthday to Reggae Icon Bob Marley, who would have turned 65 today if he had not been taken from us before his time.

spread a little love today in honor of him and dig this awesome live cut from a show in Germany.

Friday, February 5, 2010

10# The Only Band That Ever Mattered... The Clash

"The Clash are the only band that ever mattered" recited more then a few famous music critics. This incredulous statement is very true in many ways. The Clash were Joe Strummer (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (lead guitar, vocals), Paul Simonon (bass, backing vocals, occasional lead vocals) and Nicky "Topper" Headon (drums, percussion).While the Sex Pistols may have been the first Punk Rock group in the UK, it was The Clash that dominated the genre. If you are a serious punk rock fan, then you usually end up in one of the camps of the three godfathers of Punk Rock: The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and the Ramones. Honorable mention goes to groups like Iggy and the Stooges and Patty Smith. Why were the Clash so good?

The Clash Exploded onto the scene in 1976 with one of the greatest albums of all time. The self titled 'The Clash' is absolute Punk Rock Genius. The pure essence of the speed freak brain of punk with the tinniest most frantic guitars ever trapped on vinyl. When this album was released, lives were changed beyond recognition by it. Aside from being the 'Beatles of Punk Rock', they also showed their clear mastery of other genres as well. Their cover of 'Police and Thieves' showed that they could rock to the Reggae groove better then most bands. If you listen to the track, it is an amazingly good track. Simonon's bass line that pounds through the song like lightning bolts is by far the funkiest and most addictive bass line I have ever heard. The drum intro instantly affects you and makes you start air drumming uncontrollably. Mick Jones' guitar licks are as sticky as glue and reverberate and distort with that pure garage band style punk that we know and love.

It is so rare in music that a group of people this talented get together to make music. It's like if Beethoven had decided to write music with Mozart, with Chopin hanging out on the session for laughs. The Clash attack you from every angle, leaving you so musically stunned you are not even sure what has just happened to you. Joe Strummer, often referred to as Punk's poet laureate spits out his lyrics with such venom and energy that you become hypnotized as if you were staring into the cobra eyes of the punk gods themselves. Strummer's phenomenal lyrics were matched perfectly by Mick Jones' talent for instrumentation and his ability with a guitar. They were quite a legendary team and are definitely up there with Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards. In fact they are so talented that you often forget the other guys. Headon is quite simply one of the greatest drummers I have ever heard. You can hear his awesome beats and rhythm rocking the song along at every turn, he anticipates the grooves being shot out from the machine gun of Simonon's Bass guitar and the two of them together form one of the greatest rhythm sections in Rock.

Lyrically, the band's music was often charged by a quite left leaning ideology. Joe Strummer, in particular, was a committed leftist. The Clash are credited with pioneering the advocacy of radical politics in punk rock. Like many early punk bands, The Clash protested against monarchy and aristocracy. However, unlike many of their peers, The Clash rejected the nihilism apparent in most of the other groups. Instead, they found solidarity with a number of contemporary liberation movements and were involved with such groups as the Anti-Nazi League which struck a chord within Strummer in particular (his brother who had always sided with Neo-Nazi groups in the UK, became estranged from the rest of the family and eventually committed suicide in 1970). In April 1978, The Clash headlined the Rock Against Racism concert in London's Victoria Park for an estimated 80,000 people.

The Facts:

- In the ten years they were together (1976-1986) they released six albums containing some of the greatest Punk Rock that has ever been.
- The first album (The Clash) is often regarded as the blueprint of all Punk Rock that would come after.
- Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
- Having disbanded nearly six years earlier, The Clash scored their first #1 U.K. single with a reissued “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”

Fave Album:

-This might not come as a surprise if you have read the rest of this article. I am going to have to admit that their first album 'The Clash' is my fave. This explosive record was cut in three weekends and released in the UK in April 1977. It included such punk-rock anthems as “White Riot,” (which is one of the most amazing punk songs I've ever heard), “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.” and “London’s Burning.” Their reworking of Junior Murvin’s reggae classic “Police & Thieves” is the historic signpost between the punk and reggae communities. The Clash has been called “archetypal, resplendent punk,” and it was one of those paradigm-shifting albums that forever altered the course of rock. Ironically, it was not initially released by the band’s American label, Epic, which deemed it “too crude.” (As a further irony, the label would later sticker Clash releases with the praise that started this article: “The Only Band That Matters.”) Word of mouth and favorable press made The Clash one of the best-selling imports in history and Epic released a bastardized version of the album in 1979.

Enjoy this little medley that took place in Manchester, UK in 1977. This is some fantastic stuff. The prime example of why these guys were the greatest Punk Rock band in history. The fiery intensity is a sight to see. Strummer in particular appears about to explode in parts... ENJOY!

Feel free to leave any comments.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

#9 The Rasta Renegade.... Bob Marley

Bob Marley was and still is the undisputed king of Reggae music. He was a revolutionary with the soul of a prophet and the heart of a poet. His message and his music has had and continues to have a massive impact on people of all races throughout the entire world. He grew up in total poverty in one of the poorest areas of Jamaica and went on to become the first ever third world super star. He personally made sure that hundreds if not thousands of his fellow Jamaicans were fed each day, setting up a large free soup kitchen near his home. To many in his home country, he was the archetypal hero figure. To the world he was a musical legend and so much more. His untimely departure from this world at the age of 36, came at a time when his vision of 'One World, One Love' that was inspired by his belief in Rastafari, was beginning to be heard and felt. The last Bob Marley and the Wailers tour in 1980 attracted the largest audiences at that time for any musical act in Europe.
Today, some 30 years later, his audience continues to widen: to most of us westerners, Bob's apocalyptic truths prove inspirational and often life-changing; in the Third World his impact goes much further. Not just among Jamaicans, but also the Hopi Indians of New Mexico and the Maoris of New Zealand, in Indonesia and India, and especially in those parts of West Africa from which slaves were kidnapped and taken to the New World, Bob is seen as a redeemer figure returning from the mists with each song to reclaim their honor, dignity and freedom. He is the ultimate symbol of racial tolerance (being born half white and half black) and though his timeless message of unity and peace and love.

To me, his music was pure rock, in the sense that it was a publicly voiced expression of his private truth.
Reggae music and Bob's music in particular reach down to the deepest parts of my soul and affect me on an intense level. Reggae has always been a part of my life. My parents played it almost continuously the entire time my mom was pregnant with me. They named me after Peter Tosh (Bob's band mate in the reggae supergroup 'The Wailers') and they named my younger sister Marly (after Bob although they took out the 'e'). The sounds of albums 'Catch A Fire' and 'Burnin' reach back to my most primal and early memories. Those were the two albums I was rocked to sleep to almost every night for the first year of my life. For me, I feel that purity and joy of being an infant every time I hear Bob's music and it makes me feel like all will be right in the world. Others find the music affecting them for all kinds of reasons just as valid. With minimal effort you can pick out the component parts of which the myth of Bob Marley is comprised: the sadness, the love, the understanding, the God given talent. Those are facts, although it is sometimes said that there are no facts in Jamaica (Bob was quoted saying "Facts an' facts, an' t'ings an' t'ings: Dem's all a lotta fockin' Bullshit. Hear Me! Dere is no truth but de one truth, an' that is de truth of Jah Rastafari"). There is one more thing of which we can be certain: Bob Marley never wrote a bad song. He left behind the most remarkable body of recorded work. "The reservoir of music he has left behind is like an encyclopedia," says Judy Mowatt of the I-Threes. "When you need to refer to a certain situation or crisis, there will always be a Bob Marley song that will relate to it. Bob was a musical prophet."

To really tell the story of Bob I would have to write a book, so I suggest if you want to know more, check out the biography '
CATCH A FIRE: THE LIFE OF BOB MARLEY' by Timothy White. Tim had the opportunity to interview Bob many times and had a lot of access to him and his world throughout the years. It is a terrific biography and also contains a lot on Jamaican culture and history as well as the history of the Rastafarian religion. I highly recommend it if you want a thorough history on the whole story. The book is the size of a dictionary and aside from the story has included awesome info on discographies and brief bios of some of the other major players.

Aside from the lyrics, Bob's songs are musically as amazing as their message. The sticky accenting of the off beat, the heavy bass tones , the rhythmic drumming that melts in your ears like honey, and the kinky, punchy guitars merge together with the vocal harmonies beautifully in a way no other genre of music had done before. The music just flows out of the speakers at you and moves your soul until the body follows. Bob put it well in the song 'Trench Town Rock' "One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain".

Bob Marley is recognized by Time magazine as being the most influential artist of the last century. His posthumous compilation album 'Legend' has sold over 20 million copies worldwide (lets face it pretty much everyone on earth owns a copy at this point). He also pretty much created his own musical legacy in the form of his eleven children (the majority of whom have gone on to have successful musical careers). His sons Stephen Marley and Ziggy Marley recently won grammies for their respective albums at the start of 2010.

The Facts:

- 11 kids (although I have heard that number could be around 23 in actuality)
- Bob's views on peace and equality so scared his Jamaican government that they tried to assassinate him in 1976.
- The heirs of Halle Selassie believed in Bob so much that they gave him the emperor's ring which was fabled to be the biblical 'Ring of Solomon'. That ring is now entombed with Bob in his tomb/shrine in Jamaica.
- The last words of Bob were to his son Ziggy. They were "Money can't buy you life"
- The lyrics 'Every man got a right to decide his own destiny
' rang so true. Bob decided against amputation of his toe when it became cancerous due to his belief in Rastafaria which is strictly against amputation. Unfortunatley for us, that decision cost him his life.

My Fave Album:

Everyone already owns a copy of Legend so I'm gonna go into something more obscure.

Catch A Fire is a dynamite album by the ultimate reggae super group of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. For me, the three of them could never top the music they made together. It is very similar to the way the Beatles members never created the kind of work they did as a team. While I love Bob, he was at times a little soft and I love to describe the dynamic as 'Bob was the Paul McCartney to Peter's John Lennon'. The sound of this album is so amazing you just have to experience it. One of the greatest records of all time, and one that always reaches right down into my soul every time I listen to it. I would recommend this album to anyone who has already heard a bit of Bob but wants to get at the stuff beyond the super hits on Legend. They holy trinity of Bob, Peter and Bunny can't be beat here. They are so amazing together it's a shame they only released this album and 'Burnin', before splitting up to got their separate ways.

Dig this early video, it has all the original Wailers in it ( you can see Peter in the tuque and Bunny in the crazy hat). This video shows exactly what I mean about perfect vocal harmonies. I only wish that the video didn't cut off like it does, it loses the last few seconds and I couldnt find a better one but the video is still awesome. This song contains my fave guitar solo of all time, it is so funky sunglasses will appear on your face and dreads will sprout from your head. This is the good stuff my friends.