Tuesday, March 30, 2010

#33 The Lost King... Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was lost to us at such an early age that the majority of his legend is pure speculation. He was so incredibly talented that his brief career before his untimely death inspired pretty much all of rock and roll that came after him. Whereas Elvis was often denounced for stealing black music and calling it his own to gain his fame, Holly had crafted his brand of guitar rock and roll that was totally his own. With his trademark hiccuping vocals and his extremely talented guitar playing, Buddy Holly had begun revolutionizing popular music from the moment he laid his first track down. The legend that grew after his death was based on the endless speculation of what height he would have climbed to had his career not been cut so short. I am of the mind to agree with those people and I think had he survived he would have surpassed Elvis many times over and been known as the king of Rock. Quite a good deal of Elvis's image was his look, whereas Holly was sort of nerdy looking, with his curly hair and large horn rimmed glasses. Buddy Holly crafted his popularity with nothing but his incredible talent and he was so young when he died I think that his talent was only increasing when he was taken from us.

Buddy Holly was born in 1936 in Lubbock Texas. He came from a family of musicians who encouraged him in that direction at a very young age. By age 5 he had already won a talent show for his singing and he had begun playing the guitar as well as the piano and the violin. In 1955, Buddy saw Elvis perform, an event that helped him to realize music was getting to a point where he could begin to create the music he wanted to. Less then six months after seeing Elvis perform, Holly was sharing the bill with him and his career had begun to take off like a rocket. over the next few years Holly would release just 3 albums before his death in 1959 at age 22. These three albums are recognized as some of the most influential works in rock history. Buddy was the first white musician who wrote, performed and produced his own works. With his band the Crickets, he was one of the first white musicians to ever play the Apollo theatre in New York. When he toured the UK in 1958, Keith Richards was in the audience and seeing Buddy perform Not Fade Away was one of the biggest influences in Richards' life. Keith would later say "Everyone in rock is influenced by Holly". Two nights before Holly's death, 17 year old Bob Dylan saw him perform in Duluth from the front row. He later stated that Holly stood a few feet away from him and at one moment looked right at him, a moment that profoundly affected him in later years (Dylan mentioned this during his Grammy acceptance speech for his
Time Out of Mind record).

Holly's influence still abounds today in more genre's then rock. He pretty much invented the rock band standard of two guitars, bass and drums. His lyrics showed the beginning of a much deeper and richer talent that sadly never got a chance to be shown. His instrumentation was incredibly complex for the day including instruments such as the Celesta that were usually not used in rock and roll. Sadly, after a show in February of 1959, Holly died in a plane crash on his way to another performance. With him on the plane were fellow musicians Richie Valens and 'The Big Bopper'. Their deaths were forever immortalized in rock history as 'The day the music died'. Many record executives at the time believed that Holly's death would create a ripple effect and that rock and roll would be buried with him. As a result, the next few years saw a much fewer number of record contracts being given to rock and roll groups. People were so shocked at his death that many began spreading rumours that it was a conspiracy and that the government or the mob had ordered Holly's death.

50 years after Holly's death, his legend is still inspiring musicians and his music is still seeing sales. Buddy was the part of the first group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame. In my own personal opinion, Buddy Holly was the greatest of the fifties rockers. I have always enjoyed his music and it stands alone as good music, not just as nostalgia rock. Some of his tracks sound like they could have been written today, which might also speak to the revival of older styles of rock that has been occurring lately. If you have heard of Buddy Holly but have never given him a really solid listen then I suggest you do so. Start out with tracks like 'Rave on' and 'Peggy Sue'. If you dig it, then try some of the accoustic stuff from his later work, it is really quite good.

Here is one of the only videos of Buddy Holly in performance. Live in 1957,

Friday, March 26, 2010

#32.......... The Who

The Who have always been prime contenders for the title of 'Greatest rock band in history', up there with the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Rebellious to the point of totally destroying their instruments on stage, the Who rocked out in a way that captured the spirit of every angry young man in the sixties. Their influence has definitely stretched forward through the years, continually inspiring people and now, as we look back, they also capture the essence of sixties rebellion and counter culture in a way the Beatles or the Stones never quite did. Since the Who were technically Mods, they did exist on the outer fringe of rock. While exploring the outer regions, their experimentation led them in bold new directions that were years ahead of their peers. They were one of the first to begin pioneering the lands that would become punk rock and they pretty much invented the rock opera (see "Tommy). They were also the first group to really start using synthesizers musically and not just for effect.

The original line up of the Who consisted of Pete Townshend (lead guitar), John Entwisle (bass guitar), Roger Daltry (vocals) and Keith Moon (drums, percussion). All four of them grew up in the greater London area. Townshend and Entwistle knew each other at school in the late-1950s and played in a Dixieland band together in their early teens but Entwistle left in 1962 to join the Detours. That band included Roger Daltrey, who was then working as a sheet-metal worker. When the Detours needed to replace a rhythm guitarist, Entwistle suggested Townshend, and Daltrey switched from lead guitar to vocals when the original singer, Colin Dawson, left in1963. Not long after that, drummer Doug Sandom was replaced by Moon, who was then playing in a surf band called the Beachcombers. By early 1964 the group had changed its name to the Who and the legend began to take place.

Soon after, during a concert at a London tavern, Pete Townshend
accidentally broke the head of his guitar through the ceiling. Angered by laughter from the audience, he smashed the guitar to splinters on the stage. He picked up another guitar and continued the show. A large crowd attended the next concert, but Townshend declined to smash another guitar. Instead, Moon wrecked his drumkit after Townshend received catcalls from the crowd. The instrument destruction soon became a staple of The Who's shows for years. The incident at the tavern became one of "Rolling Stone magazines 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock 'n' Roll" It reminds me of one of my fave Who stories in which Keith Moon decided to really make a bang during the band's d├ębut on U.S. television on the Smothers Brothers show in 1967. Moon overloaded his bass drum with explosive charges which he detonated during the finale of the song, 'My Generation' The explosion caused one of the shows guest stars to faint, set Pete Townshend's hair on fire and, according to legend, contributed to his later partial deafness. Moon was also injured in the explosion when shrapnel from the cymbals cut his arm and the shows first aid team found moon laying in the wreckage laughing uncontrollably.

What else can I tell you about this fantastic band. It is late at night as I try and finish this article and I think about how much there would be to tell. I first heard the Who as a very small child when my dad would put on the LP of Tommy for me and my sister. The Who have so many amazing albums that it is hard to think about someone not knowing about them. If you like the good stuff and have never dug on the who, then get out of your seat and go check them out. They are dirty, rebellious, destructive and loud. Everything we want in a classic rock band and more. They could even switch gears and show you the beauty of rock (see awesome tracks like behind blue eyes). I know that Townshend and Daltry have sold out big time in the last few years but one thing I always admired about Pete Townshend was that he admitted it. He once said "There is only one way to sell and it's out! If I wasn't in this for the money I never would have sold my music to record companies in the first place". Whatever the Who have become now, that has no bearing on how freaking amazing they were when it all began. The spirit of the Who is still the spirit of youth in rebellion and maybe that is why in old age the Who just seem like they are not meant to be.

My Fave Album:
-Quadrophenia is the greatest concept album I have ever heard. It is so rich and well written with subtlety and quiet grace that it almost gets left behind in the wake of their loud and in your face recordings. It is solid gold and an album that always seems to have more to offer. If you want to know more about this wonderful album check out Quadrophenia

Check out this awesome video of The Who live at the rock and roll circus

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

#31 Searching for the main line with the Velvet Underground

Never in the history of rock has there ever been a band so hotly debated as the Velvet Underground. They are a group that you either love immensely or totally despise but either way, the Velvets always get a strong reaction. They were in many ways the first indie band and most often referred to as rocks first alternative band. To understand a bit more about that designation you have to realize that the Velvet Underground burst onto the scene in 1965. This was the era of the Beach Boys, and Sonny and Cher in the USA. These were the days when the Beatles were singing 'Eight Days a Week'. Meanwhile, in dingy apartments in some of the seedier parts of New York, Lou Reed and the band were beginning to write songs about heroin abuse, prostitution, sadomasochism and sexual deviancy.

Much of their instrumental sound was conceived by the groups multi instrumentalist and bass player John Cale. Together with Reed they crafted their sound around de tuning their guitars or by tuning each string on the guitar to the same note ( a technique Reed had 'invented' that he named Ostrich Tuning). John Cale was always very intrigued by using alternative ways of producing sound in music and was immediately interested in making music with Lou Reed who believed in the same approach towards writing lyrics. Cale used to love tuning his guitar way lower then normal because he thought it gave the music a lower, richer sound that he described as 'Sexy as hell'. His use of the Viola throughout the bands career, especially notable on tracks such as the terrific 'Venus in Furs' gave the band that awesome musical drone of notes that all seemed to blend together.

The Velvet Underground first began gaining prominence as the house band of Andy Warhol's Factory and at his Exploding Plastic Inevitable events. The initial lineup consisted of Lou Reed (vocals, lead guitar), John Cale (electric viola, piano, celesta, bass guitar, vocals), Sterling Morrison (rhythm guitar, bass guitar and vocals), Maureen Tucker (drums, percussion). Their constant musical experimentation and nihilistic outlook was pivotal in the rise of both punk rock, and later, alt rock. Their dark lyrics which were rooted in the work of beat poets such as William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg and the drugged loner artist look to the band helped shape the image of the band. The music of the Velvet underground which was highly simplistic and stripped down to the bare bones of rock. The overall sound was further laid down by Reed's deadpan, vacant vocals. Although they were never very commercially successful as a group, the Velvet Underground are generally recognized as one of the most influential groups in rock history. There had never been a band that so blatantly exploded the normative model of music like them. There are probably hundreds of artists and bands throughout the last 40 years that would never have formed if it weren't for the Velvets. Love them, or hate them, you have to admit that they sure left a mark on music for ever after.

My Fave Album:
- My fave Velvet Underground album would have to be their debut 'The Velvet Underground and Nico' from 1967. Not only is the album #13 on the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, it is also one of my absolute faves. I first got into the Velvet Underground with this album when I was about 18. My great friend Joyce (who has been mentioned many times previous as the person who has gotten me into countless bands) lent me the cd of this fantastic album. This album also features the immensely talented Nico who was the muse of both Jim Morrison and Jimmy Page. She has one of the most unique sounding vocal styles of any musician I have ever heard. Her voice is overflowing in mellow, soft moaning passion that is so hypnotic it just seems to lure you away like the voices of mythical sirens. Check her out on tracks like Femme Fatale, or All Tomorrows Parties and you will see what I mean. Sunday Morning is an amazing track which blends the vocals of Reed and Nico with wondrous results. This album also has the drug opus Heroin, which showcases heroin use and abuse with a zest that no band had ever had the stones for before and few have since. This album is so full of amazing grooves and wonderful rich tones, while at the same time it is for the most part stripped down and minimalistic and primal. I highly recommend this album if you have never heard it before, but I will add, you will either love this or hate it.

Check out this rare video of the Velvets at work. This is Sunday Morning. Enjoy

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

#30 The Master is in... John Lee Hooker

Behold, behold, the grandfather of rock. John Lee Hooker was one of the biggest innovators of the blues and the creator of what would later be referred to as the 'talking blues'. His boogie-woogie style of instrumentation mixed with his early proto-rap style of vocals was a huge influence upon the early rock and roll scene in the early 60's. Groups such as the Rolling Stones and the Fleetwood Mac, as well as artists like Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. At first glance it almost seems odd that his influence in the early 60's was so much greater throughout Europe then it was back in the USA. At the time though, there were so many fantastic blues musicians coming out of the USA that American listeners probably didn't know who to listen to first. Also, the civil rights battles in the states in those days really divided the music for a lot of people and many would be unwilling to listen to music from black musicians.

His recording career began in 1948 when he recorded his infamous "
Boogie Chillen." Released on the Modern label, the song introduced Hooker's standard for hypnotic, rambling, one-chord guitar playing and his deep, haunting vocals. "Boogie Chillen" was a throwback to prewar country blues and the antithesis of the slick rhythm & blues that filled out the charts in the years immediately following World War II. Incredibly, "Boogie Chillen" made it all the way to number 1 on the R&B charts in early 1949 and today is considered one of the all-time classic songs in the blues treasury. Over the many decades since then, Hooker has released over 100 albums, has won several Grammy awards including a Grammy lifetime achievement award and has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame (1980) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1991) for his vast influence upon a vast majority of rock and roll alumni. His induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall Of Fame was totally called for in my opinion for the man who has influenced countless fans and musicians who have in turn influenced many more.

As an artist, John Lee Hooker's style has always been unique, even among others of the blues greats. While retaining that foundation he has never shied away from breaking new ground musically and commercially. At the age of 80, John Lee Hooker received his third and fourth Grammy Awards, for Best Traditional Blues Recording "Don't Look Back" and for Best Pop Collaboration for the song "Don't Look Back" which Hooker recorded with his long time friend Van Morrison. This Friendship and others are celebrated on Hooker's album, The Best Of Friends. The album also celebrated a return, exactly 50 years later, to Hooker's first hit, Boogie Chillen and serves as a perfect bookend for Hooker's fifty years in the business.

Check out this clip, this was the first I had ever heard or seen of John Lee Hooker. Childhood memories! Thanks Mom!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Check out the Old Man's Beard

From the the deepest recesses of British Columbia's southern interior, the group Old Man's Beard began as a project for friends Michael Shaver (vocals and guitar) and Jesse Clarke (vocals, guitar, mandolin). Since forming their songwriting partnership in early 2008, Mike and Jesse have toured and worked hard to create a terrific album of original music that showcases both a catchy folk rock sound and the spirit of what it is to be a British Columbian. As a duo they have been exciting audiences with their unique live show consisting of a blend of reggae, boot-stompin' folk, and rock and roll. Over the last few years, the duo has evolved into a five-piece unit that includes Darrin Herting (bass), Leon Power (drums), and Stephanie Webster (vocals and additional percussion). Together, this five piece has built a sound complete with rich, home brewed harmonies, catchy rhythms and streamlined guitar work. After a winter of writing and recording, the band has released its first album, 'The River' and are currently touring in support of the disc. <

Old Man's Beard have had their song 'Dawson Bound' featured on the popular television show Daily Planet. Since mid-July, 'Tofino' (the song I first heard of theirs) has received play on CBC radio's province-wide program, All Points West. The group recently performed as part of the 2009 Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival and participated in the 2009 British Columbia Interior Music Awards (BCIMA) as a performer and nominee in the Best New Artist category. Old Man's Beard clearly love playing music together and this love of music is definitely helping to grow their fan base beyond BC's boarders to all across Canada. I first heard them earlier today after my mom sent me the Tofino song that she had heard off the radio. I really liked the track and dug some more of their stuff off the cbc and off their myspace page

I really like the track Dawson Bound as well. The vocals on this track really seem to remind me of Brandon Boyd (Incubus) and that actually goes for the album as well. It is kind of an interesting mix of Incubus, Bedouin Soundclash, and the Fleet Foxes. The album is really good and totally catches the spirit of BC rock. I think this is a pretty awesome start for these guys from the interior and I hope this isn't the last we hear from them. If you like folk rock in the vein of the new folk revival that is happening then totally dig these guys, especially if you have dug the Fleet Foxes or Mumford & Sons articles that I have written lately.
Cheers all,
See you on Monday!
Check out this awesome live cut from a radio show performance in Medicine Hat.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Legend of Blind Joe Death

Somewhere between a memory and a dream lies the legend of Blind Joe Death. The real name of this old blues musician is lost to us now in the fog of time and is only half remembered as the subtle alter ego of musician John Fahey. Very little is known about the original Blind Joe Death except that we know he recorded a 78rpm through Paramount Records in 1927. His real name, or where he was from has been lost over the years and even the record itself is pretty much extinct except for the B-side track 'John Henry' that was preserved in the record collection of John Fahey. In the late 50's, Fahey was a teenager working at a gas station and already a huge record collector. It was said that he stumbled upon an old dusty box of blues records while sifting through collections at church garage sale one morning in 1958. One of them was an old 78rpm with a simple white sleeve that had no art or name attached save for 'Blind Joe Death' written in black type.

In 1959 Fahey released his first album through Takoma records and the B-side of the record was credited to 'Blind Joe Death'. Many people assumed that Fahey was trying to re-introduce the old blues man to a younger and fresher audience or that he was attempting to appropriate the work and stage name of the original Blind Joe Death. Fahey claimed that his main influence in the blues was Joe Death and he styled his own playing style after him. This love of Blind Joe Death's style continued on throughout the sixties with future albums offering secret glimpses into the past of Blind Joe Death and tempting fans with more and more proof of his existence. towards the late 60's, Fahey would even share the stage with someone rumoured to be either the son of Blind Joe Death or even possibly Blind Joe Death himself. All of this served to grow the legend larger and larger as the years went by, causing more and more people to ask the question "Who is Blind Joe Death?"

Strangely enough, the answer to that question was "nobody at all". The reality of the story starts back in 1958 when John Fahey was working at the gas station and writing music in the style that would be known later as American Primitivism. Fahey was becoming more and more obsessed with that minimalistic style of blues that he felt it was as if he was having a religious style conversion and that he would be a blues player until his death. This carried on and eventually his friends started calling him Blind Joe Death. He decided to create the alter ego of this old blues musician and he started spreading the rumour that he had just found an old record by the infamous Blind Joe Death (who he said his nick name was an homage to). He saved up his income from the gas station and managed to get 100 lp's produced privately which he then secretly snuck into thrift stores and used record stores. These limited edition records were packaged in white paper with Blind Joe Death written on the cover. Eventually he actually had a few music historians convinced that Blind Joe Death actually existed. During the mid 60's, Fahey came up with the idea of walking off stage for an 'intermission' where he would change clothes and costume himself in the appearance of an old man. He would then return to the stage to perform the Blind Joe Death part of the show and leave some fans wondering if this part of the show was actually being performed by another musician.

At the heart of this legend is the music itself. With it's style rooted in stripped down home made blues, and slight amounts of folk grooves, the music of Blind Joe Death is a fantastic listening experience that hooks you within the first ten seconds. Even today, 60 years later, John Fahey and his legend of Blind Joe Death are still a force upon music, albeit a subtle and much overlooked one. At this stage of the game it is so far removed in our past that many people simply do not hear his music. To be frank though, the album Blind Joe Death is fantastic and is one of those records you are extremely glad to have heard and one you instantly find yourself recommending to friends.

This track is off the Blind Joe Death album and it is called 'Desperate Man Blues'

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

#29 About time for some Ramones

The Ramones are easily one of the most addictive and enjoyable bands I have ever heard and in my opinion the greatest punk band ever to form on the North American continent. Formed in 1976, The Ramones are also often hailed as the first true punk rock band. The boys all attended Forest Hills high school in Queens, NY in the late sixties. In early 1974, the band began to take shape as John Cummings and Douglas Colvin asked Jeffery Hyman to join their band that was being managed by another friend of theirs, Thomas Erdelyi.

Shortly after starting to jam, Colvin remarked to the others that he loved the idea of pseudonyms, particularly Paul McCartney's from the Silver Beatle days (Paul Ramone). He had just switched from playing rhythm guitar to bass and decided to take on the stage name 'Dee Dee Ramone'. He soon convinced the rest of the group to adopt the 'Ramone' name as a tip of the hat to Paul and the others agreed. Cummings stuck with lead guitar and became Johnny Ramone, and Hyman, who was originally on drums,became Joey Ramone. Soon after their first recording sessions had begun, Dee Dee realized he was destroying his vocal chords and could not continue as the band's lead singer. The group decided that Joey would take over lead vocals and that the band's manager Thomas Erdelyi would become their drummer, taking on the moniker 'Tommy Ramone'.

The Ramones always struggled at reaching commercial success which they never really did attain while they were a band. Their only album to go gold was a post break up compilation album called Ramones Mania. The members were also notorious for their infighting between members. This was partly due to each of their personal battles that they were going through at the time. Joey had always fought to control his obsessive compulsive disorder, while Dee Dee had pretty extreme bipolar disorder and Johnny gradually became more and more of a disciplinarian. These issues were further aggravated when Joey and Johnny would often clash due to their political views being on opposite ends of the spectrum.

None of the Ramones were fans of the majority of music that was being made in the 70's and their unique sound was partially a reaction to what the mainstream artists were churning out. Being huge fans of groups like The Kinks, The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones, the band felt that music of the 70's was lacking that energy and quick pace, favoring instead the long solos and slow jams. The Ramones set out on a mission to create music that was fast and fun like they remembered it being. With their famous four chords and manic tempo, they blasted onto the music scene at break neck speeds. Their music is packed with trash culture humour and that minimal rock sound that hearkens you back to the earliest days of rock except for the screaming lyrics and jacked up pace. Their first four albums are absolute dynamite! I love them enough to almost proclaim them my fave punk band but for me The Clash always come first. One thing I love about the Ramones is that you know it is one of their songs even before the music starts. You just have to hear Joey yelling out the count before the song and you know you are about to be assaulted by awesome punk rock.

The Facts:
-14 albums between 1974 and 1995 Only 8 with the original lineup.
-They were inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 2002.
-Sadly, within 8 years of the band disbanding, all the original members had died.
-The second time the Ramones ever played in the UK, the Clash and the Sex Pistols were in the audience and both bands were blown away at the performance of the Ramones.
-Best Simpsons cameo ever! 'Smithers have the Rolling Stones killed...", "but sir! those were the R..", "Do as I Say!"

My Fave Album:
-There are so many good ones, but I think mine is 1977's Rocket To Russia. I think it is my fave because I can remember my dad playing it for me as a little kid. I remember loving the fast pace and thunderous beat of the music. It is a total surfer punk record. Songs like 'Rockaway Beach' and 'Surfin Bird' totally give you the impression this is what the beach boys would have sounded like if they had started wearing leather, breaking their surfboards on stage and taking a whole lot of speed. 'Sheena is a punk rocker' is another fantastic track and one of the highlights of the album for me. For me, this album represents the best that North American punk was in the 70's. It is so full of rebellious energy and pure music with 100% of the BS removed. Even the front cover of the album, with the four members leaning against a brick wall looking pissed off is historic. Every part of this album screams punk with such intensity that it would burst your eardrums if you gave it half a chance.

Let's start things out here with one of my fave punk songs ever 'The Blitzkrieg Bop'

Oh and also dig 'Sheena is a Punk Rocker'

Monday, March 15, 2010

#28 Break on through with The Doors

The summer of 1965 saw the formation of what is in my opinion the greatest rock band to ever come out of Los Angeles, California. When Ray Manzarek and fellow UCLA student Jim Morrison met by chance one morning on the Venice beach, Morrison mentioned casually that he had been writing a lot of poetry and songs. Manzarek eventually coerced him into singing a bit of it to him and was immediately so impressed by Jim that he demanded they start a band together. The Doors consisted of Morrison (lead vocals), Manzarek (keyboards, vocals), Robby Krieger (guitar) and John Densmore (drums, percussion). They burst onto the scene that summer with a totally unique sound that immediately blew audiences away. The lyrics that Morrison was writing were unlike anything else in rock and roll at that time and his passion and pain that he conveyed in every note were easily audible on their records. Unlike the majority of rock bands at the time, the Doors rarely, if ever, used the bass guitar in their work. The odd time they used it, they usually got the sound from the bass setting on Manzarek's Fender Rhodes electric piano.

For the majority of 1966, they were the house band for local LA lounge bar 'The Whiskey A Go Go'. They began to get an immense and cult following and began making noise in all the right places. One of their last shows at the whiskey, was with Van Morrison's band 'Them' and the finale included both bands rocking out a version of the song 'Gloria'. Elektra Records president Jac Holzman was in the crowd that night and was blown away. He attended a few more Doors shows that month and then offered them a record deal. This came at the right moment because the Whiskey A Go Go fired them the week after when Morrison let loose on stage and took their song 'The End' in a new direction and added what was at the time extremely offensive language. He ended the song with "Father I want to Kill you...... Mother..... I want to Fuck You" which was not something you yelled into a microphone in 1966.

The on stage antics of Jim Morrison would only get wilder and wilder as time went by. They stemmed from his fear of being on stage as he always considered himself a poet and not a rock star. Throughout their career, he was increasingly intoxicated on stage and would often switch between seducing and verbally assault his audience. He would often be so messed up that they would turn off his microphone and Manzarek would sing Morrison's vocals in his best 'Jim' impression. He eventually was doing this so often that many people couldn't tell the difference between them vocally. Jim Morrison's 'bad boy of rock' image grew and went to his head only worsening his condition and serving to isolate him from his band mates. At the high mark of all this, Jim was arrested on stage in Miami after he flashed his penis to the audience during a song. His drinking and drug abuse were growing more and more heavy and it was affecting not only his live performances but also his writing and his emotional relationships with his fellow band members.

By 1970 The Doors were finished as a group and decided to quit performing live as they saw it was destroying Morrison. In early 1971 Jim and his girlfriend Pam moved to Paris so that Jim could get clean and get out of the spotlight for a while. Sadly, less then 4 months after he moved to Paris, Jim Morrison was found dead in his hotel room from what was apparently a drug related death (though there are many theories around why he actually died). Before he died, Jim recorded about an hour of his poetry with a few street musicians he had bumped into in Paris. The bootleg, called 'The Lost Paris Tapes', is hauntingly beautiful and contains some wonderful poetry showing that Jim was definitely still the poet he always had been.

The music of The Doors has lasted the last 30 years though and continues to be extremely popular. Although he was often wasted on drugs and booze, Jim Morrison was a lyrical genius and his songs are remain a source of beauty and sixties mysticism that really touch the soul of the listener. I for one even enjoy the live shows I have bootleg copies of. I find the way he would interrupt songs in the middle to go off on these drunken rants, often horribly abusing the audience to be incredibly enjoyable and quite often laughable. Even then it is as if he is singing just for one person and not to an entire crowd. I think that the music of The Doors will continue to be enjoyed for many decades to come.

My fave Jim Morrison story was the one where he met Janis Joplin at a party. A mutual acquaintance thought they would make the ultimate couple and so he tried to hook them up at this party. Unfortunately when Janis arrived, Jim was already incoherently drunk and said something to her about fucking her in the ass and she left immediately, vowing to never see 'That drunk asshole ever again'. Seeing her leave, Jim chased after her and grabbed her by the hair and tried to pull her out of the car. Janis responded by crashing a bourbon bottle over his head before speeding off. Jim lay on the ground bleeding from the head crying out "That was the woman of my dreams! I love her!"
Jim at his best! hahah I know it is wrong but I love that story. Way to go Jimmy.

The Facts:
-The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 1993.
-6 albums together, a seventh posthumous, and two without Morrison and 9 in total.
-In 1967 the group played the Ed Sullivan show and were asked to not sing "Baby we can't get much Higher" in the song 'Light My Fire' and were instead asked to sing it 'Baby we can't get much better'. The band agreed, but when they played live on the show, Morrison grinned straight at the camera and sang it the way they wrote it anyway.

My Fave Album:
- I would have to say that their debut album 'The Doors' would be my fave although I have to say that I enjoy almost all of their albums the same amount. Their debut however, really captures that mystic rebel feeling that I get when I think of Morrison and it has some great tracks on it that I have always really enjoyed. It flawlessly blends acid rock with blues and jazz in a way that is totally unseen in rock and roll for the most part. It conjures the sixties for me in a way that no other albums really do and as someone with a lot of stage fright I can connect with Morrison in that way and it makes me enjoy the Doors even more. He was not perfect, in fact sometimes he was quite an asshole but he was Jim Morrison and he was, as he always claimed he was, 'The Lizard King'.

Enjoy 'Riders on the Storm' one of my fave songs.

Friday, March 12, 2010

#27 Free Falling with Tom Petty

Tom Petty has known he that he wanted to be a musician since the age of ten when his uncle introduced him to Elvis. He might be a bit younger then the other greats and he might have missed the sixties, but throughout the last thirty years, Tom has been proving that he can rock the world with the best of them. After receiving only minor success with his first band Mudcrutch in the early 70's, Tom was reluctant to set out on his solo career after the group's demise. It wasn't until some of his former band mates helped him form The Heartbreakers in 1976 that he really took off . I have always thought he was extremely talented both lyrically and instrumentally. Throughout his career, he has played lead and rhythm guitar, bass guitar, piano, harmonica and even the drums. His career outside of his work with the Heartbreakers has been a whirlwind of success both as a solo artist and then in the late 80's as a member of the fabled super group The Traveling Willburys. That is quite the resume for the last fourty years of rock that Tom Petty has been a part of.

One of the things I love about his music is it's consistency. You know what your getting into when you throw on a Tom Petty album. He has a knack for creating straight forward, unpretentious nostalgia rock. This unique yet nostalgic form of rock helped catapult him to fame in the late 70's when traditional rock fans had begun feeling alienated by all the punk and new wave that was cropping up. To these fans, Tom sort of became their standard bearer, keeping the rock they believed in alive. He channels that type of rock that hearkened back to the stones, the Beatles and the Searchers. It is easy to see why he makes the music that he does when you look at his influences. Aside from meeting Elvis, Tom says that his greatest musical influence was when he was a kid and he watched the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show. Also, one of his first guitar tutors was Don Felder (who would later become a member of the Eagles). I think this love of the classics helps keep Tom modest and humble. He is seemingly the everyman of rock and as a result he is much loved by fans, critics and peers alike.

Petty has long been a opponent of the over bearing record companies and has often clashed in legal battles with them when they have attempted to go behind his back. Shortly before Tom release the album'Hard Promises' he was informed that MCA was going to be increasing the cost of their artists cd's in what they called their 'Superstar Pricing'. Tom threatened to cancel the album's release and was going to change the album's name to '8.98' (the original price of his and other artists releases through MCA). Eventually MCA saw that he was not going to back down and they changed the pricing back for Petty's work. This was thought to be the inspiration for future song 'Won't Back Down' which he released on the 'Full Moon Fever' album. Strangely enough, that song was then later used by George W. Bush in his 2000 presidential campaign until Tom Petty heard about it and immediately launched a cease and desist lawsuit against the presidential candidate.

I saw Tom Petty at the Pemberton Music Festival in 2008 and he blew me away. I have always been a fan but I had no idea that he was so good to see live. His band was rocking and he jumped right into 'You Wreck Me' which is one of my fave tracks of his. I would easily recomend seeing his show to anyone on the fence about it. He packs in the hits and puts on a show that is easily worth the ticket price. In fact, for all of you in BC, he is playing GM place on June 6th with Joe Cocker as the opening act. I think I am going to get tickets because that sounds like a show not to miss. For anyone in the States, or back in eastern Canada, check his show out because he will be touring your areas with Crosby Stills and Nash.

The Facts:
-Three solo albums, two with the Traveling Willburys, and ten with the Heartbreakers, with the 11th coming out next month.
-In 2002 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
-In 2002 he also appeared on the Simpsons in the fantastic episode where Homer goes to rock and roll fantasy camp.
-In 1987 Tom Petty's house was burned down by an arsonist, costing him over one million dollars in damage.

My Fave Album:
-I think it would have to be 1989's Full Moon Fever. This was Tom's first solo album and it is fantastic. If you look at the track listing for this album you can see that there really isn't a weak track on the entire record. In fact, the album is often referred to by many critics as a minor masterpiece. This album has Free Falling, I won't back down, runnin down a dream and Yer so bad to name just a few. If you haven't heard any of these you are probably living under a rock somewhere but if you really haven't and you seem to enjoy Tom Petty, then I highly suggest this album to start with.

Dig this clip. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers doing 'Don't Come Around Here No More'. I love this video, when you watch it you will know why. Enjoy! see you guys monday. Remember I will post a new playlist tomorrow!

here is a clip from the Pemberton Festival 2008 that I was at. It is a bit long and Tom doesnt come on stage until 2:52 but you can get a sense of the shows energy when he does hit the stage. (Oh and I was front row for this) Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tosho's Top Five Super Groups

So if anyone out there doesn't know what a super group is I will lay down a quick definition. A super group is a music group whose members have already achieved a large amount of fame and success before the creation of the group. There have been tons of so called super bands over the years but I will lay out my top five and let you have a look at why I think they are so awesome.

#5- The Good The Bad and The Queen
This was originally thought to be the name of the band but in reality was the name of the album (the band having no official name). It started out as a solo project for Damon Albarn during the Gorillaz hiatus. Danger Mouse signed on to produce the album and soon after Albarn announced that it was going to be a concept album by a group he had just formed. The group consisted of Damon Albarn (from Gorillaz and Blur, on lead vocals and keyboards), Paul Simonon (from The Clash, on bass guitar and backing vocals, Simon Tong (of The Verve, on lead guitar) and Tony Allen (of Fela Kuti's African 70, on drums) with Danger Mouse on occasional percussions, synthesizers and production. All the songs off the album are written by Albarn and Simonon and each focus on modern life in London.

The tracks are very well written and the lyrics are beautiful and poetic. It flows together as a concept album better then most that I have heard over the last ten years. With the sheer amount of talent contained in this group it is a wonder they can even be in a room together but they pulled it off for this album and it is a pretty excellent effort. All reviews were favorable and most gave 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recomend it if you ever wondered what a mix between The Clash and Gorillaz would sound like. I really hope that in the future they get together for another album.

#4 - The Monsters of Folk
When I heard that My Morning Jacket's front man Jim James was releasing an album with long time friends Connor Oberst and Mike Mogis, I was sufficiently stoked to say the least. I did some checking and found it interesting that the band was formed in 2004 when the members were on tour with their respective bands and solo projects. After playing together both on-stage and backstage, they started working together on various material. Due to the members' main projects, Monsters of Folk did not wrap up their first album until 2009. So well favoured was this album that they were referred to by certain critics as this generations 'Traveling Wilburys' (although they sort of sound a bit more reminiscent of CSNY).

After the first listen, the only flaw that I could see was that Jim James had only brought 5 songs to the mix here, but after another listen that turned into a plus because this album has helped me get into the work of Connor Oberst who brings some of my fave tracks to this album Ahead of the curve in particular Everyone shines on this record, although James, whose lead vocals open and close the set, beams brightest. The eclecticism of his latest My Morning Jacket sounds are brought into sharper focus by the company of his new bandmates. I am hoping this is the start of much more to come for the Monsters. This album shows off the talents of these four men at the top of their respective games but creates something here that is greater then the sum of their individual parts.

#3 Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
A band so awesome that each member has been inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame twice! Mixing protest songs with amazing vocal harmonies and beautiful folk ballads, the CSNY became one of the leading champions of the sixties ideal and affected a generation so deeply that they are still extremely popular today and still tour occasionally. David Crosby had helped launch the Byrds to fame with his talent for lyrics and his powerfully moving vocals. Graham Nash was lured out of the Hollies by the prospect of working with now freed up David Crosby and then Stephen Stills and Neil Young brought the tremendous talented guitar skills and further impeccable vocals with them after the demise of their group the Buffalo Springfield. Their decades spanning career has spawned so many hit songs and just as many albums full of material that other groups could only dream of. These four guys literally had talent dripping off them at all times.

The Woodstock Music Festival would be the event that helped propel them into the spotlight and over the years they are synonymous with the spirit of that festival. Of their work together I would say that 1970's 'Deja Vu' is the take away album. The addition of Neil young completes the band in pretty much every way. 'Teach Your Children', written by Nash, is one of the stand out tracks on the album. After that the band kind of fell apart for the majority of the seventies but came back in 1977 with 'CSN'. It is a totally solid album featuring really strong performances and songwriting from all three of them.

#2 Cream
The super group that began it all! Cream featured Eric Clapton fresh out of the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Ginger Baker from the Graham Bond Organization, and Jack Bruce from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers as well. They defined the genre of psychedelic blues rock and inspired everyone from the Beatles, to the Stones, to the Jimi Hendrix experience. This was also the platform that would really launch Eric Clapton to the world wide audience as the king of guitar. The released a couple of really fantastic albums together before imploding under the weight of their own stardom and immense talent. After the destruction of Cream, each would go off to be in other huge projects over the years. There really has never been a band quite like Cream. They were the poster band for the power rock trio and the sounds and lyrics have kept fans coming back for over forty years so far. Eventually the trio decided to get back together for a few historic shows in 2004 at the very hall they played their last show in the late sixties. I have watched the dvd from those performances and it is inspiring that even after all this time they still had the mojo together. The band was tight and the classics have never sounded so good except I think I enjoyed their vocals even more with the age they have in them now. Somehow blues just sounds better coming from older people who have lived a life and have grown to know what the blues are really all about.

#1 The Traveling Willburys
Of course I had to give the number one spot to the Traveling Willbury's. It really isn't fair to even call these guys a super group. They go so far beyond super it almost defies description. Some one once said to me "What's so great about the Traveling Willburys?"
Well I don't even know where to begin to answer that kind of question other then "Have you heard of them?" George Harrison (umm the BEATLES), Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lyne (ELO) and oh ya, a guy by the name of Bob Dylan! That is a crazy line up for one music festival let alone one band. They wrote a fantastic album together before they lost Roy Orbison who passed away soon after they finished recording. They did go on to write a second using some of the material they had from the first sessions but the second album didn't have the power of the first. I can't tell you enough how awesome their work is on 'Traveling Willbury's Vol 1' and if you haven't dug it then you should go out and do so ASAP!

Check out this, it is Handle Me With Care by the Traveling Willbury's. It is shocking how many rock giants are in this video.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Review on 'Plastic Beach' the new album by Gorillaz

Plastic Beach is the first new Gorillaz album since 2005's Demon days and it shows the quartet of primates moving further down the concept album rabbit hole. While concept albums always start with good intentions they often become nothing but self-indulgent ear garbage. On the plastic beach however, the Gorillaz actually pull it off without slipping into that cataclysm. This record took two years for Albarn and company to write and the time was well spent. It really blends together as an album and is an interesting hodge podge of songs mostly revolving around life on the 'Plastic Beach' which is an island that Gorillaz bassist Murdoc has spirited the band away to in order to coerce them into making the album. All sorts of weirdness abounds between the tracks on this album such as Murdoc forcing 2D to stay on the island by keeping him terrified of a monstrous whale, or the fact that Murdoc has somehow replaced Noodle with a robotic counter part. The album is described by the band as a picture of our plasticized world and the new breed of humanity living on it. At the same time they are quick to point out that they are not making a statement and that this is definitely not a 'green' album.

Plastic Beach also follow the success they found through collaboration (with past songs like Feel Good Inc. ) by inviting a host of some of the biggest names in music to join them on the record. Mos Def, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon are just some of the artists making cameos on the Plastic Beach. Seeing so many artists on this album kind of deflated my expectations at first but they are all used brilliantly here. The one downside I saw with all these fantastic artists contributing their talents is that we are missing out on Damon Albarn's fantastic vocals on the majority of the tracks. After a few listens to the album I realized that this lack of Albarn actually works for him instead of against him. It leaves you craving his sound until the odd track rolls up that actually features him and it makes you enjoy it twice as much as a result.

Stand-out tracks on this album are definitely the singles. Stylo is a fantastic track packed with an intense post disco beat that embraces rock and electro at the same time. Starting out the track is a wicked intro by none other than Mos Def and the chorus is sung by Albarn at is most phoned in style yet. The song climaxes with Bobby Womack cranking out the soul like he hasn't done in years and he really succeeds in turning a great song into an even greater song. SuperFast Jelly Fish (one of my fave tracks on the record) sees the return of De La Soul, the New York hip hop trio that last rocked with Gorillaz on Feel Good Inc. On Melancholy Hill is a fantastic number that features Albarn at his best and is a seductive song that could have been featured on a Blur album. Some Kind Of Nature is the kind of track I really hadn't expected from Gorillaz. I don't know how they managed to convince Lou Reed to do a song with them but it worked out splendidly on all fronts. His vocals resonate out from your speakers like the living dead and you shudder at first and then say to yourself "Is that Lou Reed?". Well it sure is!

All in all it is a fantastic album and I highly recommend it. Some of the tracks take a few listens before you really get into them but I kind of enjoy it when I like an album more after listening to it a few times. I also really like how the album flows with such timing. While songs like Stylo pump and thrash to a high energy beat, other songs really mellow it out which gives the album a well-rounded sense that makes it easy to listen to in many moods throughout the day. Included here is the video for Stylo, the first single off Plastic Beach. Enjoy!!!

Vezi mai multe din Muzica, videoclip pe 220.ro

Monday, March 8, 2010

#26 Pioneering the Afrobeat with Fela Kuti and the African 70

Few people have affected music and culture in the way that Fela Kuti has. Born in Nigeria in 1938, he moved to the UK in 1958 to attend medical school but realized soon after that it was music that was his passion and not medicine. He formed his first band 'Koola Lobitos' in the UK and was crafting a type of music that mixed African jazz with funk and European 50's rock n roll. In 1963, a few years after the formation of the group, Fela had married his first wife and decided to move back to Nigeria to raise a family and had hopes that his band's new kind of sound would be a hit back in his native country. In 1969, Fela and his band travelled to the USA for the first time to experience the music they had heard about. While there, they saw the metamorphosis that the civil rights battles going on in the states had started changing things and Fela got introduced to the 'Black Power' movement. These experiences had a tremendous influence on his musical development as well as his political ideals. He re-named his group the Nigerian 70 and travelled to Los Angeles to begin recording sessions for an album but was cut short when immigration found out he had no permit and deported Fela and the Nigerian 70. Those sessions remained in storage and were eventually released as 'The '69 Los Angeles Sessions'.

By now the band had grown to hold around 30 members with a multitude of drummers and percussionists as well as a (omit) large horns and brass section. Fela wrote all their components as well as his own during the song writing process (a process that became more and more time-consuming as his band's numbers grew). In fact, the only member of the band other than Fela that was allowed to contribute his own ideas was the groups original drummer from the Koola Lobitos days, Tony Allen. Tony was one of the irrefutable back bones of the band and had been with them since shortly after Fela's return to Nigeria in 1964. In regards to Tony, Fela often stated "Without Tony, there would be no Afrobeat". At 18 years old, Tony had taught himself to play drums while working as an engineer for a Nigerian radio station. His unique drumming was influenced by the music his father had loved (mostly African traditional, but also American jazz) and it was through his father that he began to hear American jazz music. Tony was heavily influenced by musicians like Art Blakey and Max Roach, as well as famed Ghanaian drummer Guy Warren who was one of the first to mix tribal Ghanaian drumming with American bop and jazz. Tony was with the band until 1979 when he left to pursue his own creative direction. He is often hailed by critics as one of the most outstanding drummers of all time and was named by music great Brian Eno as "The greatest drummer who has ever lived".

In 1970, Fela Kuti and the re named Africa 70 were back in Nigeria and had formed the Kalakuta Republic on an acreage that Fela owned and pronounced themselves an independent nation. They built a massive compound and recording studio and housed most of the families for the band members as well as a free health clinic that they built for the areas local population. Early in 1971, Ginger Baker (drummer for Cream) met up with Fela in Nigeria and the two hit it off and fela decided to join Baker on his mission to explore africa in a land rover and soak up the roots of music. This trip culminated in the live album 'Live! with Ginger Baker' which is one of the funkiest albums I have ever heard in my life. Throughout the 70's Fela's musical style began to solidify into what is now called Afrobeat, and his lyrics began to reflect his growing disgust with the corruption of Nigerian politics. His standpoint against the government and his popularity with the people caused the Nigerian Government to lash out at him. In 1977, the infuriated Nigerian government sent one thousand army soldiers to attack the Kalakuta Republic. During the attack Fela was beaten half to death and forced to watch as they threw his elderly mother out a second story window where she suffered fatal injuries. Fela was nearly killed but one of the commanding soldiers spared his life and allowed some of Fela's friends to take him away. As Fela was being taken to hospital, he saw the army burn his compound and his former life to ashes.

After the events of 1977, Fela continued with music but became more of a political activist as time went by and eventually gave up on music entirely to focus on his political work in Nigeria. He eventually formed his own political party 'The Movement of the People' and even ran for president of Nigeria. His conflicts with the ruling government never ended however and in 1984 he was beaten and arrested on made up charges of smuggling. In 1993 he was arrested along with four of his former band mates for a murder that none of them had any connection to and was freed a short while later. It was around then that Fela began isolating himself from his wives and was rumoured to be suffering from a secret illness. In 1997, it was announced that Fela had died from complications of disease, brought on by the AIDS virus that he had secretly been suffering from for the past decade.

One of the reasons their music was never extremely successful in Europe and North America is that their songs are usually a minimum of ten minutes in length. In fact, their tracks often extend into the twenty to thirty minute range and a few (mostly unreleased) live tracks go past the 45 minute mark. The seemingly endless grooves contained in this band's music come from a base rhythm of drums, shekere, muted guitar, and bass guitar that are repeated throughout the song. His band was also notable for featuring two baritone saxophones. Fela himself usually played the sax and keyboards but was known to take up the guitar and trombone. An interesting thing about Fela Kuti is that he refused to play a song once he had recorded it with the admission that if someone wanted to hear it after that they could buy the record. He believed that there was too much to still be created for him to focus on the material of the past. Today, his music and hopes for a free Nigeria still resound heavily around the world and his musical legacy is carried on by his sons Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti who are both prominent musicians.

The Facts:
- Fela had over 26 wives!
- In 1978 Fela's Band deserted him just before going on stage at the Berlin Jazz Festival when they heard he was going to use all of the proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.
- More then one million people attended his funeral in Nigeria at the site of the old compound.
- Between 1971 and 1992 he released 46 albums.
- A movie based on the life of Fela Kuti is slated to begin filming this year directed by Steve McQueen.

My Fave Album:
-The live album released in '71 with Ginger Baker is not only my fave Fela Kuti album, but it is also one of the most indisputably fantastic records I have ever heard in my life. This record is Bob Marley meets James Brown meets P-Funk. Ginger Baker brings the psychedelic rock vibe to really take this music to the next level while Fela and the crew of the African 70 show you why Africa is the birthplace of funk. The original album only features 4 tracks but each of them is around the ten minute mark and each of them blasts out a slightly different brand of funky music. I highly reccomend this album to anyone interested in exploring the fusion between rock and world music. A bonus track was released when they re-released this album a few years back has a fifteen minute drum solo battle between Ginger and Tony Allen and is worth the purchase of the album right there. You can really tell that Tony Allen and Ginger Baker are two of the greatest drummers ever on that track.

Shown below is some rare footage of Fela Kuti and the African 70 actually shot by Ginger Baker, at a gig in Nigeria shortly after the Nigerian civil war. Its pretty wild stuff! Let me know what you think of it!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

New Playlist up!

Enjoy the new Playlist!

Also, here is a classic track for your weekend enjoyment. Sorry for the lack of articles last week (we were experiencing technical difficulties). We are back at 100% now though so LOOK OUT!!!


Thursday, March 4, 2010


Hi all! just dropping a quick note that I thought was awesome. Visitors to the blog have been increasing world wide and their seems to be a race between UK and France lately. UK is back in the lead now with 8 visitors! Can France pull ahead? WE SHALL SEE!!!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#25 Gorillaz, the greatest band that never existed.

Who would have thought that a fusion between music and graphic arts would have blended together as well as in the phenomenon that is The Gorillaz. It started out as an idea between room mates Damon Albarn (Lead singer of Blur) and Jamie Hewlett (creator of the Tank Girl comic series) as they sat around their apartment watching MTV and remarking how lame and devoid of substance they thought it was. They decided that since the record industry had no substance they would create a band with such little substance that they wouldn't even exist! The band they formed called 'Gorillaz' consist of 2D (lead Vocals, Keyboards), Noodle (lead guitar, vocals), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar) and Russel (drums, percussion). In actuality, the original lineup of musicians behind the cartoons were Albarn, 'Del tha Funky Homosapien', and 'Dan the Automator'. Since their inception, Damon Albarn has been the only constant musician working with the band and has engaged a multitude of guest musicians to help him craft the Gorillaz sound.

Their music is totally out there and unique in the world of popular music. Fusing pop with electronic music, rock and hip-hop, Albarn has put together two of the most original sounding albums of the last ten years. I have always enjoyed the Gorillaz partly due to Albarn's involvement as I was a fan of his work with his former band Blur. He has a fantastic, haunting singing voice with a terrific English accent that sounds more then a little bored as he sings which may not sound good but I think it adds satire and depth to the music he makes. One of the reasons he wanted to make the Gorillaz is that he hated the celebrity around being a musician and having to appear in interviews and publicity shoots. With the Gorillaz he found a way out of all of that. Hewlett would create the characters to be in the publicity videos and in essence they would be the band, allowing Albarn to do the music side of it and leave the rest of it behind. In their live shows, the band would always be in the shadows and huge screens would show the characters rocking out in a virtual concert.

As time went by they began to advance the idea to the point where Albarn and Hewlett connected with 'Musion Eyeliner', a technology firm that they began working with to generate holographic Gorillaz characters that could actually be on the stage at a live show and not just on screens. They tested this new technique at the 2005 MTV Europe music awards and then again at the 2006 Grammy awards. While the two performances were seen as a generally huge success, the band decided to give up the idea of a world tour with the holograms as they felt the technology which was still in its infancy was too expensive to roll out on a world tour at that point. For the next few years the Gorillaz were pretty silent although Albarn has kept quite busy with his other projects and Hewlett has been working towards getting a Gorillaz film together. It was just announced that the band was releasing its long awaited third studio album. This is the first record from Gorillaz since 2005's 'Demon Days'. From what I have read, the album sounds like it is going to be fantastic. It has guest appearances from rock legends Lou Reed, Mick Jones, and Paul Simonon to name a few (Jones and Simonon we all remember from their work with The Clash). Albarn has been working with Simonon frequently throughout the Gorillaz hiatus. As a yet unnamed band they released a record together in 2007 titled 'The Good, The Bad and The Queen' which was a pretty solid record to say the least. The Gorillaz release 'Plastic Beach' march 9th here in Canada and it has already recieved fantastic reviews from pretty much every critic that has gotten to hear it. Their new single 'Stylo' is fantastic and was just brought to my attention from my good buddy Nate (SHOUT OUT TO NATE). The video shows the band being chased by an angry gun toting Bruce Willis and is totally amazing and a fun video to check out.

The Facts:

-Since 2000, the band has released only two studio albums together, as well as 3 compilation/remix albums and 3 dvd's featuring their cartoon selves.
-The Gorillaz are headlining the final night at this years Coachella Music Festival.
-They earned themselves a place in the Guinness book of world records under 'Most successful virtual band ever'.

My Fave Album:

-While their entire catalog is solid, I think I enjoy 2005's Demon Days the most. It is stuffed full of freaking awesome tracks and cranks the funk up a few more levels then on their debut album. Standout tracks for me on this record are Feel good inc., Dare, and The Mountain Called Monkey. I love that The Mountain Called Monkey is instrumental but features Dennis Hopper doing a fantastic monologue about villagers living under the clouds of a deity imbibed mountain called Monkey. The added funk is also accompanied by more varying musical experimentation, seeing the group add strings, vocal choirs and some terrific piano numbers. Albarn's distant slightly bored singing has never sounded so phoned in and it couldn't come across more awesome then it does here.

Here is their first single 'Clint Eastwood'. It's awesome and has tons of funk thrown in. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#24 Eye to Eye with Graham Nash

Few musicians have ever had the chance to impact rock and roll the way Graham Nash has. In a career that spans nearly fifty years, Nash has been a leading member of not just one, but two legendary rock bands and has had a tremendously prolific solo career as well. Known for his beautiful tenor vocals and his quiet, personal songwriting, Graham Nash has been a leading force within both 'The Hollies' and 'Crosby, Stills and Nash'. His solo career has included a lot of diverse projects with dozens of the heavy players or rock and roll over the last fifty years. Time has also seen him branch out to become a well known photographer with his work hanging in galleries worldwide. Today, at 68, Nash continues his photography as well as his musical solo career and has periodically continued working with 'The Hollies' which hold the distinction as being one of the few early 60's British invasion bands that never actually broke up.

In 1963 Graham was instrumental in the formation of The Hollies in Manchester, England. His haunting, tenor vocals helped the group perfect their tremendous harmonies and launch them to early success both in England and in the USA in the early sixties making them one of the first British Invasion bands even before the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Nash eventually tired of the relentless touring with the Hollies and left the band so he could 'hang out at home and write songs' and because he was fed up with the screaming fans drowning out the music (much the same reasoning as Lennon and Harrison had said tired them of touring with the Beatles). I think that the best album he did with the Hollies was 1964's 'In The Hollies Style'. It perfectly captures the vocal harmonies that they were famous for and it sees them branch out into songwriting in a big way (their debut album had one original song, this album is almost entirely original). In 1968 Nash was in the USA partying and met up with Mama Cass Elliot, Stephen Stills and David Crosby. He enjoyed himself so much that he soon left the Hollies and migrated to L.A to form Crosby, Stills and Nash.

His work with Crosby, Stills and Nash launched him to stardom and catapulted the band to the status of folk rock super-group. They have released 8 studio albums together (and with the addition of Neil Young periodically) between 1969 and 1999. Their work together was known for their unique blend of vocal harmonies as well as their political activeness and lyrics steeped in social and cultural commentary. Woodstock helped propel them into the spotlight and over the years they are synonymous with the spirit of the 60's. Of their work together I would say that 1970's 'Deja Vu' is the take away album. The addition of Neil young completes the band in pretty much every way. 'Teach Your Children', written by Nash, is one of the stand out tracks on the album. After that the band kind of fell apart for the majority of the seventies but came back in 1977 with 'CSN'. It is a totally solid album featuring really strong performances and songwriting from all three of them. Since then the trio has gotten together sporadically and released more albums and the occasional tour.

The solo career of Graham Nash has been all over the map of rock. He has five studio albums to his credit as well as a multitude with other artists on duet records and aiding them on their own albums. His debut solo record 'Songs For Beginners' is one of my fave folk rock records of all time. I first heard about it when I watched the Adam Sandler movie 'Reign Over Me'. There is a part in the movie where Adam Sandler is in a record store and he points to an LP of the album which has a picture of Graham Nash on it and says "Look at this guy, he KNOWS he just made a killer album". I thought that was awesome and the soundtrack is packed with a few Nash songs as well so as a side note, I think you should dig that movie its way better then 98% of Sandler's movies. I hope that his career as a musician is not done yet because I'm sure Nash has a lot more to offer us in the years ahead.

The Facts:

-Nash was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 as part of CSNY and will be inducted again this year as a member of the Hollies.
-In 2006, Nash and Crosby both joined David Gilmour of 'Pink Floyd' for his solo album 'On an Island'.
-In 1978 Nash permanently gave up his British citizenship in order to become an American.
-Nash has just released an amazing 3 disc box set spanning his entire career called 'Reflections'.

My Fave Album:

- I have to go with 'Songs for Beginners'. This is one of those albums that really speaks for itself in the first listen. Aside from his own brilliant songwriting with such songs as 'Simple Man', 'better days' and 'Chicago', the album hosts a multitude of music alumni including Neil Young, David Crosby, Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia to name a few. It's a fantastic album and one of the towering works of folk rock. I won't even say any more, just go listen to it right now!
Thanks for stopping by folks.

Oh and dig this freaking amazing live version of 'Simple Man' and I guarantee you will be hooked on Graham Nash.