Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why Full Length CD's Are Valid.

Recently it was reported that U2 was very unhappy that their latest release ( No Line on the horizon) had only topped the 1 million mark in sales and it was the lowest performing piece of recorded work in its history. It prompted this comment from bassist Adam Clayton "The commercial challenges have to be confronted. The concept of the music fan - the concept of the person that buys music and listens to music for the pleasure of music itself- is an outdated idea".

While its true that todays ipod generation is used to buying music by the song, and the concept of a full length CD actually being solid enough to listen from beginning to end ( like us old dudes like to do) is pretty rare today. I am thrilled to report that the CD is in fact alive.

Gov't Mule
By A Thread
I know, "Yeah Mike loves Gov't Mule". While this is true, I feel I have to spread the news about this latest offering from my favorite band, because I feel its its best offering. Yes, perhaps even more so than its early work with Allen Woody. Its a collection of songs that reflect mature lyrical content and the ability to change gears and genres without losing what makes this band so good. The ability to reference the greats and yet be original and exciting. Its hard rope to walk on, but this band keeps doing it.
This is the 1st effort with new bassist Jorgen Carlsson ( who replaced Andy Hess, who appears on 2 tracks). Carlsson is a welcome addition to this band. He is loud in the mix and aggressive. Hess, while a good bassist in his own right, just didn't have much fire in him. This new bassist recalls Woody, and yet is very distinctive . I have had the pleasure to see Jorgen with the band, live 3 times. I instantly could feel the energy from this band rise up. I wondered if this would translate into a studio. I am stunned at how well it did.
Here is a track by track breakdown:
1. Broke Down On The Brazos- The track starts off with low guttural bass rumble and the Texas twang of Warren Haynes guitar. Just when you start thinking " Man this sounds like old good funky greasy ZZ Top" You hear the sound out of your right speaker of none other than lead guitar monster Billy Gibbons from ZZ dueling Warren for six delicious minutes. Nasty Nasty stuff.
2. Steppin Lightly- The gears change nicely into a funky stew that I can only imagine what this song will morph into when played live. Yes, danceable G-mule and its irresistible. Once again its Carlssons bass work that propels this song into a place that the previous post Woody lineup would have had a hard time pulling off this well.
3. Railroad Boy- This is a song that has been around since the 1800's. Covered by all sorts of artists. This is Gov't Mules take on it, and frankly, it sent chills down my spine. The lyric itself is chilling, but the stops and starts on this just adds to the drama. One of the highlights of this CD.
4. Monday Mourning Meltdown- A very moody piece that had elements of Pink Floyd in it and a middle section that wanders a bit into jazz. I love the risks that the band takes and how it pays off .
5. Gordon James- A song that starts off like a church hymn and develops into a nice midtempo ballad. Lyrically smart and about as commercial as this band gets. I say that in a good way. There will be no mashups or Kanye dropins.
6. Any Open Window- From the first notes of this track, you can hear Jimi dripping all over it. Its not just how much of the spirit of Jimi that is captured by Warrens guitar and vocal phrasing, its how galloping the rhythm section is. Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding are channeled by Matt Abts and Jorgen Carlsson. Love it.
7. Frozen Fear- Not my favorite on this CD, but still a very solid Gov't Mule song. Sure it will grow on me with repeated plays. A Grower!
8. Forevermore- I have heard this song in concert on on solo Warren acoustic recordings. This version trumps the other arrangements. The middle solo and backing hammond B3 give it the darkness it deserves. Its a great song to expose the non converted fans to.
9. Inside Outside Woman Blues #3- If "Any Open Window" gave you a taste for Jimi. This will give you a buffet of Jimi, and Cream. 9 minutes of non boring nasty freak flag flying blues!
10. Scenes From A Troubled Mind- Warren Haynes writes some of the most dark lyrics I can recall, and yet as all good blues music provides. Its that mixture of pleasure and pain in the music and lyric that deliver the release that this song builds too. Another song that I can imagine morphing into something bigger live. I love the last 3rd of the song that really recalls Zep in a subtle way.
11. World Wake Up- A message song. Biting lyrically and a song that all of us can relate to on some level.
In summary. I love this CD. When you love music and you get something great like this, you just wish you could personally thank the artists that provide the goodness that is great music. But I would violate my restraining order if I pestered artists like that ( hahaha)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Late night listening

Do you ever sit in the middle of the night and listen to music? When I feel down or have too much on my mind, I love to sit in the dark and let the music take me away. Here are 10 random nocturnal choices.

Al Green- Is Love. Songs about love and faith, the confusion of both. It's a soothing listen that I go back to time and time.

George Benson-Breezin: Lush and soothing. Perfect tonic for a rough day.

Jeff Buckley- Grace: Even though his songs and voice are full of angst, I find it great late night listening. Personal favorite "Last Goodbye".

Marvin Gaye- Vulnerable. I could pick any number of Marvin CD's. But this is a CD that is full of late night gems. Check it out.

Miles Davis- A Kind Of Blue: Maybe a cliché choice. But it's made for this kind of list.

Sam Cooke: Night beat. Title speaks for itself. Music that sounds like it would be played in a smoky bar in the early 60's.

Stevie Wonder: Music of My Mind. The track "Superwoman" is a favorite. Just a piece of music that gets me every time.

David Gray: White Ladder. Wistful songs of love. Low key, but not totally sleep inducing.

The Derek Trucks Band: Soul Serenade. CD full of moody instrumentals that require quiet listening.

Warren Haynes: 9-03-07 Aspen Co. LOVE this CD. Acoustic versions of everything from Costello's Allison to Black Sabbaths War Pigs, he also mixes in some great alt versions of Gov't Mule material.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Metallica Setlist/Review

That Was Just Your Life
The End Of The Line
Ride The Lightning
Holier Than Thou
Broken, Beat And Scarred
Sad But True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
All Nightmare Long
The Day That Never Comes
Master Of Puppets
Fight Fire With Fire
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
- - - - - - - -
Die, Die My Darling
Seek and Destroy

This was like a meal where the appetizers were so horrid you were ready to go to another resturant. Thankfully the promise of the main course kept you there.

The 2 opening bands ( Godija and Lamb of God) were just plain noise. Not a word was understood and the "music" sounded about as good as me trying to tune my guitar with my amp. Just plain anger and noise. While I love an angry tune as much as the next dude, this stuff was just plain crap. If I heard the lead singer from Lamb Of God scream " Give me some noise you MotherF#$#ers" one more time, I was gonna go down there and unplug each and every one of these dufus's.

Thankfully, Metallica knows how to put on a concert. Believe it or not, I could really feel the appreciation from the band as the crowd roared all night for them. Yes, even snotty Lars seemed happy to be playing for the packed house. Even though Metallica's catalog is filled with songs of alienation and anger. I walked away feeling that they are in touch with their audience and what this music provides to them. Its like they feel responsible for it. I found it refreshing to see a veteran band at grips with that. Especailly a band like Metallica, that has made many missteps when its come to its core audience. I enjoyed this show very much. Even though I am not a hard core Metallica fan.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A taste of Metallica

Here are some short clips of what I am to expect Tuesday night.

Kenny Wayne Sheppard W/Corey Stevens- Review

Sorry for the delay on this, but it ended up being a evening that left me feeling a little cold.

Its hard to explain when you watch 2-3 hours of music and it just never catches fire with you. The word proficient comes to mind. Corey Stevens put on a good show, it was never embarassing or cringe worthy, it just never got out of 2nd gear for me. He played his regional hits ( Blue Drops Of Rain, It's Over) and they satisfied the masses, but as far as going to another level...It didnt happen.

Kenny Wayne was more of the same. He seemed much more interesting when he played songs that were by other artists ( Hendrix etc). His original material was ok when he soloed, but his lead singer was very mannered and looked confused as to where his spot was in the band. He would sing in the wrong places and acted like a dufus.

I ended up leaving early after I had had enough. Not the worst concert I have been to, the tickets were cheap and my Mountain Dew only cost $2..not a total loss! :-)