Friday, April 28, 2017

Linger




The Cranberries went on television, and ended up being mocked for their performance:

The Cranberries appeared on tonight’s ‘The One Show’ to perform their classic hit ‘Linger’, but viewers weren’t impressed.

The band appeared on the BBC One show along with a line-up of musicians including Ronan Keating and Bananarama.

The Irish rockers appeared on the show to promote their newest album ‘Something Else Today’, which features reworked versions of their classic hits and three new songs.

The album is out today (28 April).

However, during their performance of biggest hit ‘Linger’, fans commented that lead singer Dolores O’Riordan looked uncomfortable and seemed to be struggling to sing properly.

Was it lackluster or was she unable to hear the live mix properly? There's a pair of monitors in the front, she's moving back and forth, and it just doesn't look like she could hear herself in relation to the other musicians. Couple that with the fact that they've brought in a string ensemble and they're trying to modify what they would normally do with the demands of an outdoor TV studio.

If you haven't rehearsed with the string ensemble, and done a proper soundcheck, this is what the result is going to be. I can tell from hearing it that something has been turned down way too far and something else is just off. You can see her look over at the guitar player and grimace about the performance. It's a tough song to sing, and she's forced to do it outside when there's no energy from the crowd in a big open space with poor sound.

It sounds bad, but is that because of the person running the sound or because, all of a sudden, a professional singer who's been doing this for over 25 years suddenly can't sing in her own band?

Here's the band playing the same thing six years ago at a festival:

This festival version should sound worse but it doesn't. Dolores is wearing her ear pieces, she's right down in front with the crowd, and she's killing it. Even in the post-90s phase of their career, they can play and she can sing. Same setup, both venues are outdoors, but the difference is, the live mix she hears in the second video is much stronger and there's the energy of the crowd to feed off of. Big difference.

And, let's get this out of the way--Dolores has had her problems. Does that mean she can't be a singer anymore?

I'm going to have to come down on the side of the singer. Clearly, what she's hearing in the most recent version is poorly mixed and this was not her fault.













Wednesday, April 26, 2017

All I Want




I have done my part for king and country by pre-ordering the new Ride album, and they are really making a serious push with this one:

[...] the band have now unveiled ‘All I Want’.

Ride’s Andy Bell has said of the new song: “The day we recorded ‘All I Want,’ Theresa May had announced that her government would be making firms list their foreign workers. As it turned out that never happened because of the outcry about it, but that was the origin of the line comparing the UK to 1930’s Germany. It’s not like Ride are ‘going political’ it’s more that the current state of the UK is so terrible that we could not avoid writing about it when we were writing lyrics for the album.”

Drummer Laurence “Loz” Colbert added: “For the drums on ‘All I Want,’ Erol [Alkan, producer] and I sat down and went through every beat of a seven-minute improvised drum take, which we edited to create the finished arrangement. It was a very liberating experience! And one I would love to repeat, as there is something special about those first musical reactions to things.”

They won't let me embed the track, but you can find it here.













Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Smiths Know How to Protest




The Smiths had their Record Store Day release etched with the following phrase this year:

"Trump Will Kill America."

What more do you have to say about that?













Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Joshua Tree Turns Thirty




I remember when the Joshua Tree came out. It was March of 1987, and I was nearly out of high school. This was an event, something that has been lost in this post-music world. It was hyped the right way, and it was anticipated because the band hadn't put anything out since The Unforgettable Fire. In the interim, they toured the world, appeared at Live Aid, and stood on the brink of superstardom. All the needed was, well, The Joshua Tree. When it arrived in the stores, you had your choice of formats, which sounds crazy now. Compact Discs were taking over, but you could still buy vinyl or cassettes, you still had singles in different formats. I preferred to get the 45 rpm records.

And it was all amazing. Amazing shit, just amazing. To hear that album for the first time was life changing. Music just does not do that anymore.

The Joshua Tree outclassed everyone and everything else. It was better than anything being released at that point. In a head to head match, it dwarfed everything in the music industry. It was very much like watching a game-changing event. It was the Michael Jordan of albums. Everyone had been going along, doing their thing, and then this landed in the midst of all of that plastic, superficial music. It's not like you didn't have other bands doing vital, important stuff. I remember thinking, "this will force everyone to up their game," and I think it did. The music world still had boy bands, rap, pop, and heavy hair metal. None of that shit mattered. In the world of stuff that did matter, this was the thing.

I remember the excitement of buying those 45 rpm records though. I bought all of them because they came with bonus tracks--two B-sides, if you can believe it. They came in double gatefold sleeves--two 45 rpm records side by side. Up to that point, I was collecting singles and I absolutely loved my reissues of their first eight singles. I coveted them. Then I added the 12" singles and the CD singles came later on. 1987 was a transitional year for technology--you could get CDs, but I was still in that mode where I was acquiring everything in different formats. If I had it to do over again, I would never have bought another cassette tape, but that's neither here nor there (yep, I did gobble up a few cassette singles).

Young kids didn't rally to the album. It was far too important of a piece of art for everyone to like. If you were into Def Leppard, then The Joshua Tree did not have enough razzle dazzle for you. Was it a maturity thing? Did you have to have knowledge of what mattered in order to handle the message of The Joshua Tree? Could you like superficial things and embrace this thing or did you have to be awake to what was going on in the world? I have no idea. I suspect that if you were turned off by thinking, then you were going to go buy the Poison album. If you bought both, what the hell were you thinking? It's like there was a clear dividing line then, and we've lost that.

Grown men in their forties buying Taylor Swift records? Really? Who the fuck damaged you?

I fucking hated Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and John Cougar Mellencamp. I also fucking hated Van Halen, Def Leppard and Guns and Roses. But U2? Hell, I was ready to die on that hill. A better question might be, what the hell was wrong with me? Oh, that's right. I thought Pleased to Meet Me was the best album of the year. Paul Westerberg and Bono, two opposites making music that mattered the same amount, coming from different directions. Hey, the Eighties were weird, man. That's all I can tell you. Sorry you missed it.

How weird? Consider that these albums all arrived between March and September in one calendar year:

March 9, 1987 - U2, The Joshua Tree

May 5 - The Cure, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

June - The Replacements, Pleased to Meet Me

July 6, Echo and the Bunnymen, Echo and the Bunnymen

August - Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust

August 31 - The Jesus and Mary Chain, Darklands

September 1 - R.E.M., Document

September - INXS, Kick

Please note that R.E.M.'s first real "political" album, referencing Central America, imperialism, and environmental awareness came well before U2 plowed that field with 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant. They continued that theme in 1987 with their finest ever.

The artwork really stood out. The Anton Corbijn photos, the stark use of desert imagery. All of that married up with the particulars of the music inside of the album. It changed the culture, it moved the ball forward. If you were going to coordinate your album release after that, you had better have your artwork sorted out, your marketing plan in place, and you had better have the songs.

Is there a stronger group of songs on any other album ever? It was like Who's Next, Nevermind, or (What's the Story) Morning Glory, a murderer's row of singles. Side one of The Joshua Tree is like being taken to a masterclass in building a solid album. If they had taken one of those first three songs and just tucked it away for Rattle and Hum, it still would have been all killer and zero filler.

How does a song like Exit end up being forgotten? Same thing for Trip Through Your Wires. On anyone else's album, these are singles. On the Joshua Tree, they're just songs on side 2.

U2 jammed that album with songs. Their B-sides could have been a proper album as well, and Silver and Gold is one of the greatest B-sides ever. You already know the album, and I have to say, to hear that they have re-done Red Hill Mining Town is a terrific thing. What can you say about their only two American number ones, With or Without You and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For that hasn't already been said?

To me, the real gems were the B-sides, and that's why I was so interested in the non-album tracks. Zooropa is basically a B-sides album, and if they had found a way to craft an album out of the B-sides, I'm sure America would have hated that, too. But their B-sides made their singles something that you had to acquire. Getting them was hardly a challenge because record stores were eager to move as much of that stuff as they could. In that way, U2 were like New Order in that they were both bands that emphasized moving 12" singles for several different markets, not the least of which were dance clubs. This is why there are weird club mixes for a number of U2 songs.

For the 20th anniversary version of The Joshua Tree, the following tracks were listed as B-sides. If you separated them and made all of them into their own album, you'd have the little brother to the Zooropa album.

Please note that this isn't even the best U2 album. That honor is reserved for Achtung Baby.













Monday, April 17, 2017

Red Hill Mining Town




U2 have decided to re-work an old song and release it in conjunction with Record Store Day. They are celebrating everything Joshua Tree related and why not? What other album kicked as much ass as this one did?

Red Hill Mining Town is a bit of a "lost" single for the band. They didn't release it in America because, well, their best stuff from the late 1980s just didn't go down with this demographic. The U2 of 1988 and 1989 was very successful touring Australia and New Zealand, and they were immensely bummed by the critical backlash against Rattle and Hum, of which, there won't be a celebration in this country in a few years when it turns 30. Which is sad because I loved that album. It gave you original songs and live versions and the film itself was an incredible testament to what they could do live. It was full of songs. What's not to love about a band that is generous with songs? Where everyone else was stingy, U2 was giving away as much of itself as it could. For that, they earned nothing but scorn.

Everywhere else, they ate it up, but this country hated that album. Go figure. There's great stuff on it, and All I Want is You is their best single of the 1980s, by far.













Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ex-Pearl Jam Drummer Still a Bitch




Poor Dave Abruzzese just can't find anything positive to say about anyone or anything anymore:

Well, shit. I responded to a statement someone made online and of course a shit stirring online 'news source' decided to make it their business to print my words. So, in an effort to own them, I am going to share them. 

Hello, David Abbruzzese here….

Not true, the band and the hall did not invite or contact me.. The band tweeted that they welcomed the idea of the event granting the possibility of all the drummers to be in the same room. That isnt an invite.

I personally have deep respect for all drummers and of course the five that participated in the pearl jam bands carreer… I am going to say this; For the band to put me in the same light as Matt Chamberlain & Dave K really was a slap in the face. Nothing to do with those guys as people or players. Respect… but as a contributor? A band member? A definitive contributor to the energy and power of where the band went? …the sacrifices, the work, the physical and emotional contributions…not to mention the personal weight of carrying onthrough and after unceremonious and disrespectful way I was fired. I gave this band all I had to give every single moment I was in it. I never played for a paycheck. I never let the band down. I never let the music down. I never let the fans down… not once. I suppose that is why I am still such a point of contention. Truth be told, if I would have been inducted, I would have requested my tech, Jimmy Shoaf Jr. and my daughter, Francesca to say a few words on my behalf. IF THEY HAD invited me to be there to witness the bands induction? Nope. To do that would justify the mistake and disrespect the core fans that took this band to heart back when all we were to become, we had to earn and also, most importantly, we had to prove we deserved every single time we took the stage. And we did that. We, the Pearl Jam band & original crew, deserved to be inducted & respected. I’m proud of my old friends for managing it all so well. I dont know if I heard anyone say it, but you’re welcome and thank you, too.

Okay. There, I said it. I own it. I have to clarify that I mean no disrespect at all to pearl jam, it's management or anyone who has ever been or currently is a member of the organization.

"I mean no disrespect" because, some day, you might want to have me around for something, and I don't want to lose out on a chance to, you know, be your pal.

Here's an idea--show your loved ones you're in a better place by not caring about how it was handled and that you can move on and deal with what went on in 1994. Show your kid that something that happened when Bill Clinton was still in his first term has not derailed your life or means anything to you in the present. Be thankful they said, come on out, we'll give you your props. I would be willing to bet that, just like every other band that ever threw out a drummer, they didn't even bother getting worked up about the issue.

What a bitch. The guys from Blondie had a bigger beef than this guy, and they handled it much better. When the Talking Heads were inducted, you just knew David Byrne was dying to get off that stage and get five hundred miles away from everyone, and he handled it better. When they put the so-and-sos in there, and when that one guy who got kicked out for pissing himself onstage was excluded, even he handled it better, even though no one can remember him or his band or why they were being included in anything.

This is why we shouldn't have a "hall of fame" for the institution known as rock and roll. There's no clear or sane path to including people involved in an artistic endeavor when, in the course of making that art, people are jettisoned along the way or die. You can't please everyone, and you certainly are never going to please Mr. Abbruzzese, so why even try?













Thursday, April 6, 2017

Seance




My clumsy attempt at writing a review of Seance.

Seance is once of my favorite Church records because it IS very much OF ITS Time. 

I don't understand why this is a bad thing--music and nostalgia for different eras is a pleasant thing to me. It will forever be associated with a certain era when music was incredibly important. I remember where I was when I got this on compact disc, and where it was prominently displayed in record stores all throughout Minneapolis. When Arista acquired the catalog, they created the "Remote Luxury" album and they cranked out all of the titles before Starfish. They stacked them up in record stores, and they put them in order. Of Skins and Heart, you knew it was the first one, and Heyday was the last one before the breakthrough. Seance sat in the middle of the pile, stunning cover and all. You couldn't just buy one. You had to have it.

I'll never forget thinking, what other band had a slew of better records than this? This is treasure.

I remember putting this on whenever I had the time to sit and actually listen to it through speakers and through headphones. Fantastic stuff! I like it all. The synthesizers and the space in the songs and the drumming and the thought behind it all. Not dreck to me, not insignificant at all. This is what defined the ideal of holding this in your mind and living in the meditation of it all. Who has time for that now? Nice work if you can get it. I'm lucky when this cycles through randomly in the car. But, no! This is for speakers and quiet rooms.

To understand the album, yes, you have to remember everyone was much younger and looking for that elusive big hit, that thing that would secure a place in the world from which to look out from. If you're making your third album after an EP just bombed, you'd be a nervous wreck, too, and you'd overdo it. So, I don't look unkindly at the effort because it is of its time and that's a good thing. 

What makes it stand out? The swing and miss variety of songs? The clumsy snare drum overdub on what is the finest and most jangly of all early Church singles? The use of fast songs and slow songs to walk you through a version of the world that you wanted to exist? Combined as a whole, these songs really do stand up and hold their own. Do you like Future Islands? They use the synth sound and the heart-on-the-sleeve vocals to reach out and try to do something that is not ordinary. Do you like those moody shoe gazers and their flat vocals and distorted crawl? They owe a bit to this album. Do you think Bowie was content to crank out the same thing every year and a half? Seance is an album of dark atmosphere, and if it had to be done once, at least it wasn't run into the ground and recycled for the masses.

I view the whole thing as essential listening if you want to understand "why it feels so good to feel so sad." I view it as something that definitely inspired people to wander into darker places and look for sounds that could not be made safe for Radio Disney. It is one of a set. All of the Church albums are a thing I take from place to place, digitally catalogued and saved for eternity. I have the vinyl and the CDs, but all of that is stored so it can never be lost. If you have it, you're never getting rid of it, are you? 

When was the last time you saw Seance in the used bin?













Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Midnight Oil




I was going to advise you to go see Midnight Oil on tour this summer, but I'm a bit late to the party.

Virtually all of their shows this year are sold out. You can catch them at a European festival if you want. But you're not going to get tickets to any of their American shows, which is a bummer in and of itself. They are one of the greatest live acts of all time.

Here's hoping they come back around again and play larger venues. 













Paul Weller on the State of Music




He's not a fan of guitar music right now:

Paul Weller has slammed the ‘insipid’ state of modern guitar music, but has revealed that he is a fan of rap, R&B, grime and some singer-songwriters.

The former Jam turned solo icon is currently on tour to launch his new album, ‘A Kind Revolution‘. Speaking to NME ahead of his recent Teenage Cancer Trust show at the Royal Albert Hall, the ‘Modfather’ revealed his current listening habits.

Asked about the current state of guitar music, Weller replied: “I find it a bit insipid at the moment. I can’t think of any guitar bands, English bands anyway, at the moment.

“I quite like an American band called Savoy Motel; I like their last record. And Syd Arthur I really love – they’re mates as well, I really like them. Lucy Rose has got a new album coming out in the next few months that’s really great. There are a lot of great individual records and just individuals really.”

It's all laptop music right now, save for whatever handful of bands can afford to make records with instruments in a room. I'm not a fan of anything on the modern radio playlists right now simply because none of it is real and none of it has been played or crafted by people who can move outside of the digital music recording sphere. It's tinny and flat. Music is supposed to have some reverb. Too many sound effects and too few innovative sounds.

How is any of it supposed to sound good on vinyl? If you compare what people are doing now to what was done in 1979, you can really tell the difference in how it had a different texture. There's a reason why people cling to their old albums.