Noel goes acoustic for German radio

26 12 2011

Sometimes all you need is an acoustic guitar and a willing singer.  Noel sounds pretty dang good on this acoustic version of “If I Had A Gun,” which he performed for 1 Live in Germany.  It’s even more apparent in this acoustic version that he grabbed bits of “D’ya Know What I Mean?” and “Wonderwall” when he wrote this one.

Noel recently disclosed that “AKA…What A Life” was originally written as something of a ballad but was talked into making it a dancy number.  I’d venture to guess that this performance is how the song was originally meant to be recorded.

Are these Noel’s best vocal performances?  Probably not.  But it seems obvious to me that he has a ton of passion for performing this new material.  I don’t want to overstate it, but it’s kind of like a musical rebirth (or it seems that way on this side of the speakers.)





James Brown on the T.A.M.I. Show

19 07 2011

I heard it mentioned a hundred times in the song “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around,” but I had no clue what the T.A.M.I. Show was.  In fact, I thought it was about someone named Tammy Show.  Then I found the DVD by accident in the local library and made the connection.

The T.A.M.I. Show was a 1964 concert held over two days in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and was recording in what was groundbreaking “electronovision.”  The concert was then released on the big screen.

It’s hard to find an adjective that’s not overused these days.  I try not to overstate things.  But there is no other way to put it that this film is incredible!  Imagine a concert these days with the starpower of the equivalent of these artists, many of them who were still to peak:

  • Marvin Gaye
  • James Brown
  • The Supremes
  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Miracles’
  • Chuck Berry
  • Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas
  • Gerry & The Pacemakers
  • Lesley Gore
  • Jan & Dean (who emceed the show)
  • The Barbarians

Besides the musical artists, there was an amazing backing or house band, apparently known as the Wrecking Crew, and there was a bevy of young dancers.  The story goes that both Terri Garr and Toni Basil were in the dance corps.

There really were few lows in this show.  I found that I didn’t care for James Brown’s “Please Please Please” which seemed to go on and on and on.  He played this little bit of pretending to fall to the ground sobbing, only to be helped up and off the stage by his bandmates, who draped a king’s robe over his back.  He would then throw off the robe and saunter back to the mic.  People with probably a lot better musical taste than me think James Brown’s performance was one of the best ever captured on film.  I found it cheesy and goofy in spots.  Other than that bit, though, he was …well…James Brown.

Marvin Gaye, the Miracles and The Supremes all represented Motown beautifully.  I watched Marvin’s “Can I Get a Witness” several times; I didn’t want it to end.  He was such an amazing talent and, for me, the best on that stage.  Smokey and the Supremes showed why the lit up the charts for years.

The Rolling Stones were absolutely superb.  At that point, though, they had not fully defined their own sound.  They still had that feel of a (great) cover band.   If you’re a Stones fan, the TAMI Show is a must-see.

I was fascinated to see both Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas and Gerry & The Pacemakers, if only because I had heard so much about their part in the so-called “British Invasion.”  They were, after all, Liverpudlians (some of them) and friends of the Beatles.  I had heard their songs but had never seen more than a few seconds of footage from either group.  It is cool to see bands like that that have become little more than footnotes in rock history.

The Beach Boys showed themselves to be a more-than-adequate 4 piece band.  They were never the greatest musicians as individuals, but they held their own in that concert.

Chuck Berry’s one of my all-time favorites.  It’s sad he only got 2 1/2 songs while Lesley Gore, who performed well, had double that.

Jan & Dean were a bit annoying.  Someone re-wrote “Catch A Wave,” put lyrics to it about skateboarding, and talked them into singing it at the show.  Bad decision.

The Barbarians were interesting.  With their long bowl haircuts and high energy rock, they were sort of a Pre-Ramones (or maybe the Ramones borrowed from the Barbarians.)

If you can get your hands on the DVD or watch it streaming, do it! It’s a highly entertaining great piece of rock history.

Earth below us, drifting, falling

19 04 2010

One of my favorite 80’s songs is “Major Tom” by Peter Schilling.  I saw the video at my gym yesterday and it inspired me to share it here.

Video Flashback: “Just Like Paradise” — David Lee Roth

8 10 2009

1988 — I was a huge Van Halen fan and had really liked David Lee Roth’s first solo LP, Eat ‘Em and Smile.  So it was a big deal when DLR released his second LP, Skyscraper.

I don’t remember when I first got my hands on the album, but I do know I was a “sandwich artist” at Subway, two doors down from the (now defunct) Harmony House music store in our town.  A young, cool musician-type — wannabe hair metal singer — came in for a sandwich and we struck up a conversation about music.  By that time I had heard Skyscraper and recommended it to him.  He raced over to Harmony House, bought the cassette and came back for more chit-chat.  Ultimately I put him in touch with a friend who was an excellent guitarist and a new band was formed, but that’s a different story.

Around that time I happened to be at my friend Brent’s house.  We didn’t have cable but he did, so I did most of my MTV viewing.  We were lucky enough to catch this video together — he had already seen it.  My memory of the video is that I thought it was quite cool.  I really liked the song save some of the cheesy synthesizer work.  It ended up being one of the more catchy and enjoyable songs on that album.

But like most of the things I loved when I was 16 or 17, I outgrew the song and the album within a few years.  I heard “Just Like Paradise” last night in a store and it brought back these little memories.  I was reminded of why I liked the song.  Watching the video tonight, I am reminded of why I outgrew this stuff.   The staff antics of DLR and his band are just plain corny.  Steve Vai is a guitar wizard, but his stage presence is almost embarrassing to watch.  Of course, there is no bigger cheeseball alive than David Lee Roth, and he’s in typical form in the video.

Despite all that, a part of me still likes the song and video.  Catchy is catchy, right?

Video Flashback: “In the Mood,” Robert Plant

25 05 2009

I was a little too young to know much about Led Zeppelin.  Sure, I had heard of them as a kid, but my parents weren’t fans and we didn’t have rock n’ roll radio on too much.  My mom played a lot of Linda Ronstadt, some Eric Clapton and Olivia Newton-John, together with a mish-mash of oldies and country.

Because of that, I didn’t have much of an idea of who Robert Plant was when this song came around.  I heard the song a bunch on top 40 radio and loved it.  In fact, it was one of the songs I recorded from the radio and listened to over and over.  It wasn’t until I went to my mom’s best friend’s house and we turned on MTV that I learned of the then former career of Mr. Plant.  My mom’s friend’s younger brother, about 6 years older than me, made my “cousin” and I sit still while he watched this video.  He told us who Robert was and that “Zeppelin rules!”

This is another song that I haven’t heard in years.  It has simply dropped out of the radio station.  I’m not sure why it doesn’t get played much anymore.  It beats the crap out of most of Steve Winwood’s solo work and that still finds its way onto radio.

Disco Mac

20 05 2009

Somewhere in the late 70s, I lost track of what the Beatles, as individuals were doing.  Come to think of it, other than some of Paul’s mega-hits on the radio, I don’t think I knew much about their solo careers.   There’s no doubt that albums like Back to the Egg went unnoticed by me.

It wasn’t until I went to college in the late 80’s that I discovered much of McCartney’s back catalog of solo and Wings stuff.  I bought Back to the Egg on the advice of a good friend and fellow Beatles freak.  One of the first songs I really took to was “Arrow Through Me.”  It’s groove sounded perfect for unwinding with a cool autumn breeze blowing through the window and the lights low (not necessarily romantic, just relaxing.)  It’s never too late to discover old stuff.

Fast forward another 20 years and tonight, for the first time, I saw the video for “Arrow Through Me.”  I never knew there was a video for it. 

“…and the Crimson Dynamo came along for the ride…”

8 02 2009

I was surprised as a teenager (a decade or more after the song was released) to discover that Paul McCartney read comic books. Oh, perhaps he never read them, but he found Magneto, Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo and wrote a song about them. Some clever person with too much time on his or her hands made a video for it. Don’t you love youtube?