Mash-up masterpieces

21 07 2013

My friend put together a pretty slick mash-up, So Whatcha Want (Beastie Boys) and Always On the Run (Lenny Kravitz.)  That got me interested — again — in mash-ups.  Here are some cool ones.  Some are almost great songs in their own right.  Some make you giggle.  But they’re all cool in their own way.

I can’t forget Dread Zeppelin.  They were probably the pioneer mash-up band

 





Tender: Albarn, Gallagher, Coxon & Weller

24 03 2013

Enjoy

 





Britpop’s Hatfields n’ McCoys share the stage…for a good cause

23 03 2013

Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Paul Weller took the stage in London for the Teenager Cancer Trust give to play Blur’s “Tender.” I wish I had seen it and hope to hear a good quality copy of the performance. Pretty cool.

Noel and Damon make Britpop history





I say old chap, the closing ceremony was absolutely smashing!

13 08 2012

I’m not one for big extravaganzas and over-the-top, choreographed productions.  If the rock and roll is good, there’s no need for dancers, people flying around the arena on wires, lasers, explosions, fireworks and large props.  Still, the closing ceremony to the 2012 Olympics in London was a killer show.

A lot of the artists that performed were not necessarily my cup of tea.  I couldn’t even tell you who Jessie J. is, and I can’t remember the names of the hip-hop fellas that opened the show.  But, until the Brazilians came out toward the end of the show, there wasn’t a performance that wasn’t at least palatable.

Was there too much Jessie J.?  Probably.  She had no business signing “We Will Rock You.”  Why was Russell Brand, instead of a real singer, doing “I Am the Walrus”?  The Who — or the TWho as a friend likes to call them — performing the concluding numbers were alright.  But how did Roger Daltrey manage to mess up the words to “My Generation”?  There’s no way he hasn’t sung that song at least a thousand times.  Take That had no business closing out the show.

Those gripes aside, I loved the show.  Here’s a little run down of the highlights for me:

  • Imagine — It was great to see Mr. Lennon on the giant screen.  Normally, I ignore that song, but seeing it put on like that was incredible.  It was the first time that song has moved me in 20 years.  And how cool was the 3D puzzle picture of John’s face?  Fantastic!

  • “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” — Whoever decided to fit that number in is a genius.  What a fun performance.  Eric Idle really is a master entertainer, even as an older gent.  I smile everytime I think back to that piece.  Wonderful!

  • Freddie Mercury/Queen — The use of the clip of Freddie from an old Wembley Stadium show was super-cool.  As if from the great beyond, he was participating with the audience.  Brilliant.  Brian May and Roger Taylor were great.  Jessie J., as I said, really didn’t belong up there.  [She is easy on the eyes, at least]

  • Oasis…err…Beady Eye — Let’s face it: Liam’s voice isn’t what it was even 8 years ago.  He’s so nasally and seems to have lost his vocal power.  But, “Wonderwall” is still a brilliant song.  It’s almost the unofficial British national anthem.  I thought Liam and the band did a fine job and his voice was better than it’s been the last few times I’ve seen him perform.

  • “Newspaper Taxis” — Ryan Seacrest, or one of the other members of the American broadcast team pointed out that the symbolism behind the newspaper-covered cars and trucks, as well as the newspaper-themed stage ramps, was a tip of the cap to England’s greatest writers.  Sure, the little quotes in the newspapers on the stage were notable sayings of such people.  But everyone missed the most obvious meaning beyond the newspaper theme: tribute to “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds.”  London’s known for its newspapers — fish wrap! — and its busy traffic.  But where do you think the show’s producers got the idea to wrap motor vehicles in newspaper?  C’mon, it’s obvious.  The feature vehicle was also a taxi, in case you hadn’t noticed.  Fun concept.  The newspaper theme covered a wide spectrum of British cultural notes.

  • The Spice Girls — Look, I was never a fan.  But they’ve always been kind of fun.  Twelve, 15 years past their heyday, they looked better than ever and performed admirably.  I was worried they’d fly off the top of those fast-moving cars.

  • Fat Boy Slim — Cool.  Very cool.  I only wish he’d done “Weapon of Choice.”

  • I Am The Walrus — They nailed the feel of the song.  It was a slick, made-for-the-stage update of this classic song.  Russell Brand was a bit more of a circus ringmaster, a role that would fit better had they played “Magical Mystery Tour,” but the production was good overall.  It had a Cirque du Soleil vibe that worked.

Generally, the show was great, not only because of the highlights, but because it was a near-perfect blend of classic, retro and new British rock and pop.  George Michael, David Bowie, Pet Shop Boys, One Direction, Annie Lennox etc. — some of Britain’s most notable stars, young and old, were mixed together in a fine, cohesive stew.  I don’t care for the younger acts, but they all did fine.

I’m glad we recorded this digitally.  I might watch bits and pieces of it again in the coming weeks.

Way to go Britain!





A Pax Musica Brittania?

1 05 2012

Pull out of all the metaphors and cliches for this one.  What may have been the greatest ( in terms of vitriol and public attention) rivalry in the history of pop music, Blur vs Oasis, the Gallagher brothers vs Albarn, may have come to end.  OK, it’s not even been an issue for years, but the “end” of which I speak may be, in fact, a new beginning of… wait for it… collaboration.   Yes, you read that right: collaboration.

Noel Gallagher has said he would, hypothetically, collaborate with Damon Albarn.  Mind you, he picked Albarn over Thom Yorke (about whose singing and Radiohead’s music Noel once said, “I’m having it until the little fella starts singing.”)  Noel rightly recognizes that he could make cooler, more upbeat music with Albarn than the guy who Liam Gallagher once called a “miserable ginger dwarf.”

As for Albarn, he’s all but invited Noel on tour in Africa and suggested a collaboration.

http://www.nme.com/news/blur–2/63549

Blur and Gorillaz mainman Damon Albarn has invited Noel Gallagher to collaborate with him later this year.

Asked if he’d like to collaborate with Gallagher, Albarn said: “Well, why not? He should come on the Africa Express train in September. That’d be a nice chance to collaborate.”

Albarn also admitted that Gallagher and his bandmates handled the fame they experienced at the height of Britpop “a lot better” than he and his colleagues in Blur did.

He said of this: “I never held anything against him, even right in the middle of it. I just kind of admired them in a way; that they were better at handling it all than me. They didn’t seem to get too affected by the bullshit.”

Earlier this year, Gallagher was quoted as saying he’d rather work on new material with Damon Albarn than Radiohead – but also described the Blur man as being “as mad as a box of frogs”.

Speaking to NME, Gallagher said: “If I was gonna make a record, it’d be Damon. For a start, he’s as mad as a box of frogs. Number two, he’d get loads of hip-hop dudes working on it, which itself would be fucking mental. And number three? It would be a better record.”

I like Damon’s music and I love Noel’s.  This would be a fine collaboration, if you ask me.  I think Noel’s right that it would be “mental.”





“High Flying Birds is the best album…” “Ever.”

1 04 2012

He finished the sentence for me.  I think he might believe it, too.

I fancy myself as someone that’s not much of a celebrity chaser, but after last night’s Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds show at the Royal Oak Music Theater — more on the concert in a moment — my friends and I saw an opportunity maybe catch Mr. Gallagher after the show.  We walked through a parking lot toward the band’s buses and gear truck.  A supposed “security guard” told us we had to turn around but one of my quick-thinking friends said, “We’re with the band.”  Either he’s not too smart or he didn’t really mean to stop us, but he we walked on past and took a spot near the tour bus.

The roadies carted the gear out of the back of the theater, onto a truck in front of the first tour bus.  The lead singer of the opening band, Mona, a guy who looks like Joe Strummer with skinny jeans and a very gynic man purse, mulled around, smoking, talking, seemingly hoping to get the attention of autograph seekers.  No one seemed to interested.  But the crowd around the bus built to about 80 or so.

Horrible drunk male voices belted out in unison the chorus to “Don’t Look Back In Anger.”  A friend chided a younger fan for his “Justin Bieber hair.”  (We rebuked our buddy and told him the kid had a Beatles cut, a good thing, not a bad one.)  Why Oasis and Noel Gallagher fans do this I’ll never quite understand, but there were a couple of people around wearing Manchester United gear and there was a shout or two of “Glory, glory Man United!” to be heard.  Heads up: Noel hates Man United.  He’s a City fan.  But I digress…

One friend, who had more than his share of beer, needed a bathroom and talked his way past security, into the building somewhere.  Out of our group of 4, this friend is probably the biggest Oasis fan, but he was the least confident we’d see Noel before he got on the bus.  When he got into the building, he searched where he could and came out near where the roadies were working, convinced more than ever that Mr. Gallagher had already been whisked away by a limo.  “Do you guys want to go?”  I said, “I’ll do whatever you guys want, but you might want to stick around a bit.”  A bit more discussion was had about whether to stay or go and I told this friend, “We can go if you like, but the minute we leave, Noel’s going to come out and you’re going to regret that we left.”  Not 30 seconds later did Noel walk out of the building and approach us.

An odd older guy was one of the first to get to Noel.  In one of the most bizarre forms of admiration I’ve seen, he had a big, dumb grin on his face and gently touched Noel’s chest.  “I touched him!”  Mind you, this guy is in his 50’s at least.  But he wasn’t finished.  His next move was to caress Noel’s cheek.  When Noel didn’t jump back or yell at him — probably a smart move on Noel’s part — the guy leaned forward, gently grabbed Noel by the back of the hair and pulled him in for a kiss on the forehead.  My reaction was to yell, “Fella, that’s messed !  What’s wrong with you?”  I was afraid that this guy was going to run Noel off at any second.  A friend chimed in with a “What the ****, dude!”  The creepy guy just drifted off with a huge grin on his face, nearly in tears saying something like “I just couldn’t help it.  I got to touch him!” You’d think it was Jesus he’d seen.

Despite being somewhat repulsed by that man’s need to touch Noel, and obvious lack of shame about the whole thing, in an instant I knew that I had to say hello and get a handshake myself.  I just knew that somehow failing to get a handshake or an autograph would be a source of disappointment later.  I stepped forward, thrust out my hand and said, “Noel, can I shake your hand!” He put out his small, cold hand and gave me a medium-grip shake.  Immediately he turned to an autograph seeker and all I could think to say was, “High Flying Birds is the best album…”  Then I got tongue tied.  Noel finished the sentence for me. “Ever!”  I gathered some wits and said, “It’s one of the best albums you’ve ever made!” meaning to include Oasis greats like Definitely Maybe.

Then I felt dumb.  I knew that a bit of foolishness and nervousness had come over me.  But I was glad to have gotten the shake anyway.

Our friend that was so convinced we wouldn’t see Noel saw his opportunity and got to our kid.  He asked Noel to sign his Man City shirt to which Noel answered, “Fuckin’ hell!”     The friend offered the bottom of his shirt, but Noel said something like “hell no,” leaned forward and signed the shirt on his chest.  A second friend, an old high school buddy of mine, went from something of a passive observer to a fan that wanted to meet Noel himself.  This friend wormed his way up to Noel, got a handshake and backed out of the throng.  The fourth among us started recording some of the scene.

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The show was great, which wasn’t surprising to me in the least.  Unlike his petulant little brother, Noel is always in top form.  He’s a true professional.  His band was tight and played everything with precision and passion.  Noel sounded great.  His voice has held up well on the road.  Considering that most of his career he’s only been the front man on occasion, he has developed — or maybe was born with — strong pipes.

One big problem — the only problem — was that the volume was too loud for the venue.  I’m not griping about volume.  But the venue really couldn’t handle that much sound.    We had seats up in the balcony and when we were up there, things were a bit crackly.

Before taking our seats upstairs, 3 of the 4 of us headed down to the front, right stage, just beyond the barricade.  We had the short term fun of seeing the action up close and feeling it.  Damn, did we feel it! We were planted just feet from bass stack.  My hair and pants were vibrating.  In good light, you could see my hair move.  I felt like I was taking a very mild beating.  Five songs down front did the trick.  The crowd also filled in around us, moving us a little bit out of the sight lines we had, so we figured we’d go enjoy our seats next to the bar.

I tried my best to keep track of the set list as it went, but doing work is no way to enjoy a concert.  Everything, as I said, sounded great! Noel had a nice mix of current stuff, which to me is better than the vast majority of his Oasis work, a few of the Oasis hits and a nice bunch of Oasis b-sides.  Here’s the set list (probably not in exact order) as best as I can remember:

  • Good to be Free
  • Mucky Fingers
  • Dream On
  • If I Had a Gun
  • The Good Rebel
  • Freaky Teeth (a new song)
  • The Death of You and Me
  • Supersonic
  • (I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine
  • AKA…What a Life
  • Talk Tonight
  • Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks
  • AKA…Broken Arrow
  • Half The World Away
  • (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach
  • Whatever
  • Little By Little
  • The Importance of Being Idle
  • Don’t Look Back in Anger

NOTE:  I recognize that this rather personal account of our evening might not be for mass consumption.  If you stumble on this blog and want to read about the show, you might find this light on concert facts and heavy on personal stuff.  I have intentionally written this as something of a diary of a great night shared with friends as I have for strangers who may read this.  Whoever reads this, I hope you enjoy it! Cheers





Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds land in Detroit on Saturday, March 31.

29 03 2012

Our man, Noel Gallagher, and his High Flying Birds, hit the Motor City this coming Saturday.   Their special guest will be Mona, a band that, as yet,  I know nothing about.

I’m so keyed for this show.  For my money, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is, next to Definitely Maybe, the best album on which Noel has ever appeared.  Yes, I think it even beats out Morning Glory (but only by a nose.)   HFB is the best album I’ve bought in 10 years.  I love it.  Noel’s a great entertainer, in spite of — or maybe because of — his understated stage presence.  He just rocks out.  He sings with soul and emotion and has an underrated voice and presence.  He’s also a better writer than most (despite some occasional goofy, lazy, sloppy lyrics.)