Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three for the Ride: Chris Whitley.

I'm taking a break from the usual format to focus on one artist today. A good friend and band mate sent me a link to a rough cut of a Chris Whitley documentary. As a result, I feel compelled to share just his music today. If you love music and you don't know who he was, you should. You've been missing out on the most unique talent to come along in the last 30 years. We lost Chris in 2005 to the ravages of his addictions. It's tragic. There is likely to never be anyone like him ever again. As they said in the documentary, "we have his records."

Chris's music goes way beyond just blues or rock as it is often categorized. There's something raw and essential about his music. He released over a dozen records and every one is different from the next. He was an ever-changing artist, but that amazing guitar talent and voice always remained. Take a listen. If you like what you hear, and want to hear more, pick up his debut album, Living With the Law (1991). It's a must for every collection.

Here's three for today:

Chris Whitley: "To Joy (Revolution of the Innocents)"
This is the opening track from 2001's Rocket House, Chris's sixth studio album. Chris added a DJ to his band for this record, so it's a departure from a lot of his earlier work. Other guest artists on the record include Dave Matthews and Bruce Hornsby. It's a very "accessible" record.



Chris Whitley: "Accordingly"
In 1998, Chris had been dropped by Columbia records and signed with a small indie label, Messenger Records. Unlike the high production value of his earlier records, Dirt Floor (1998) was basically Chris with one microphone, singing and playing in a barn. He recorded it in a day. It's a very pure record - an artist exposed and vulnerable. I got to see him play solo like this, years earlier, in a club with about 50 people in attendance. It remains the most impactful performance I have ever experienced.



Chris Whitley: "Dust Radio"
This song evokes an almost spiritual experience. It reaches me in ways that are devastating. I think it's his best work and the production on it is amazing. It's from his debut record Living With the Law (1991), a must-have-on-the-island record.



Until next time...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Three for the Ride: Snow Patrol, Adele, Motorhead

Some days, I take the train to work. Other days, I drive. Either way, I listen to music on the way. I put the iPhone music player on shuffle, and off I go. Calling my collection eclectic would be an understatement. It's often an interesting mix. There are songs though, that I really wish the world could appreciate as much as I do. Songs that make me say, "Ooh, listen to THIS! Isn't it great?!"

Here's what I heard this morning:

Snow Patrol: "Chasing Cars"
This video has over 85 million views on YouTube. Chances are, you've heard it. It's been in my head for days, so I needed to hear it. Not so random, but hey... It's a beautiful song from Snow Patrol's fourth album, Eyes Open (2006). It's a long crescendo that eventually is just rapturous. "Those three words are said too much, they're not enough."



Adele: "Skyfall"
This girl has a monster voice. It's bluesy and soulful and powerful. Adele reminds me a lot of Dusty Springfield. This track is obviously the theme song from the 23rd James Bond film of the same name, Skyfall (2012). As Bond theme songs go, it's in my top four (The others being "Live and Let Die," "Casino Royale," and, of course, "Goldfinger").



Motorhead: "Ace of Spades"
I first saw this video/heard this song on BBC's The Young Ones in 1984. The song originally appears on 1980's Ace of Spades.



Until next time...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Three for the Ride: Bruce Springsteen, Cheap Trick, Utopia

Some days, I take the train to work. Other days, I drive. Either way, I listen to music on the way. I put the iPhone music player on shuffle, and off I go. Calling my collection eclectic would be an understatement. It's often an interesting mix. There are songs though, that I really wish the world could appreciate as much as I do. Songs that make me say, "Ooh, listen to THIS! Isn't it great?!"

Here's what I heard this morning:

Bruce Springsteen: "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"
From the ever classic Born to Run (1975) comes this song that was the second single released from the album. It's more of a story kind of song that tells about the formation of the E-Street Band. The third verse says "...the Big Man joined the band" clearly referring to saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Great little ditty. Born to Run is my favorite Bruce album. It should be a part of any serious music collection.



Cheap Trick: "I Can't Take It"
It's strange sometimes how one thing mysteriously flows into another here. This amazing song (songs like this are why I started this theme on my blog) appears on 1983's Next Position Please. Crunch pop just doesn't get any better than this. The cover for this record is a comical version of the cover for Born to Run. The album was produced by Todd Rundgren and there's no denying his influence on the sound.



Utopia: "More Light"
Speaking of Todd, here's yet another great song from Todd Rundgren's band, Utopia. This is from 1985's P.O.V. which is an acronum for Price of Victory, Pillar of Virtue, Point of View, or maybe Persistence of Vision. You choose. P.O.V. is, thus far, Utopia's final record. (Insert sad face here.) The song is huge. Right at about 2:35, the song just melts your face as Todd reminds us all of what an incredible guitar player he is and drums by John "Willie" Wilcox that will give you chills. Layered background vocals on this song just add to its hugeness. Listen over and over.

I couldn't find it on Youtube, but I found this: More Light on rdio

Until next time...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Three for the Ride: Scott Weiland, Burt Bacharach, Chicago

Some days, I take the train to work. Other days, I drive. Either way, I listen to music on the way. I put the iPhone music player on shuffle, and off I go. Calling my collection eclectic would be an understatement. It's often an interesting mix. There are songs though, that I really wish the world could appreciate as much as I do. Songs that make me say, "Ooh, listen to THIS! Isn't it great?!"

Here's what I heard this morning:

Scott Weiland: "Missing Cleveland"
Power Crunch Pop Perfection. That's how to best describe this song. I love's Scott's writing. The chorus progression is classic pop stuff. This song is from his 2008 solo release, "Happy" in Galoshes. The drum break coming back in off the bridge gives me chills. And lyrically, it's brilliant. "The lonely thoughts where everybody knows the truth and lets it be." Maybe one day he and the DeLeo brothers will work things out so STP can make more great music.



Burt Bacharach: "This Guy's in Love With You"
Tied for the greatest pop writer of the 20th century, Burt Bacharach has written or co-written some of the most iconic songs ever to grace the AM airwaves. This song is just dreamy. From 1990's Bacharach & David They Write the Songs, this version is mostly instrumental except for a group of background singers on the chorus. The melody is handled by a mix of brass and wind instruments.



Chicago: "Feelin' Stronger Every Day"
This great song is from 1973's Chicago VI. It features Pete Cetera's amazing voice. Not a whole lot more to say about this one, but listen to it.



Until next time...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Three for the Ride, Jughead, Kansas, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Some days, I take the train to work. Other days, I drive. Either way, I listen to music on the way. I put the iPhone music player on shuffle, and off I go. Calling my collection eclectic would be an understatement. It's often an interesting mix. There are songs though, that I really wish the world could appreciate as much as I do. Songs that make me say, "Ooh, listen to THIS! Isn't it great?!"

Here's what I heard this morning:

Jughead: "C'mon"
Jughead features King's X guitarist Ty Tabor along with Derek Sherinian on keyboards (Dream Theater), Matt Bissonette on bass (David Lee Roth), and his brother, Gregg Bissonette, on drums (David Lee Roth). Their sole release was a self-titled CD in 2002. A lot of the songs are progressive crunch pop stuff written, for the most part, by Ty. I've been asking Ty to make another release happen and maybe even tour with these guys, but they are all very busy fellows.



Kansas: "Song for America"
Here's the rock anthem for the week. Kansas's 10-minute long epic was on the 1975 album of the same name, Song for America. It's a wonderful song, and the first one that comes to mind if anyone ever mentions Kansas to me. It's very symphonic in its structure and has some great melodies and movements. If you can find the time...



Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: "Here Comes My Girl"
There's a reason that 1979's Damn the Torpedoes has sold millions of copies. It has great songs on it that have become part of our cultures lexicon: "Refugee," "Even the Losers," "Don't Do Me Like That," and this gem, "Here Come's My Girl." Mike Campbell's layered guitar textures in this song are perfect. I love the way Tom speaks the lyrics. It sets a great mood. And the vamp at the end, I could listen to for hours. Then, there's the bridge. The bridge is pure magic. I get chills every time I hear it. "Watch her walk..."



Until next time...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Three for the Ride: Hum, P.O.D., Wings

Some days, I take the train to work. Other days, I drive. Either way, I listen to music on the way. I put the iPhone music player on shuffle, and off I go. Calling my collection eclectic would be an understatement. It's often an interesting mix. There are songs though, that I really wish the world could appreciate as much as I do. Songs that make me say, "Ooh, listen to THIS! Isn't it great?!"

Here's what I heard this morning:

Hum: "Stars"
I discovered these guys because this song was used in a Cadillac ad. The groove in that 5 seconds was so heavy and layered so beautifully I had to hear more. It's a very melodic wall of sound. The song is from 1995's You'd Prefer an Astronaut, Hum's third studio album. The Champaign, Illinois band has been defunct since 2000.



P.O.D.: "Goodbye For Now"
This track is form P.O.D.'s sixth record Testify, released in 2005. The track is more of a groove and laid back thing that is a big departure from their usual heavy sound. It also features Katy Perry on vocals (she's also in the video), back before anyone knew who Katy Perry was. It's her best work ;). The song is produced by Glen Ballard, who's credits are way too long to list here, but include the likes of Michael Jackson, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and Alanis Morissette.



Wings: "Getting Closer"
I am a huge McCartney fan, if you hadn't already figured that out. This is one of my favorite tracks from 1979'a Back to the Egg, Wings's last record. Although the album received horrible critical reception, I think it is one of Paul's better efforts. This song reminds me of earlier Wings stuff, like "Jet", "Juniors Farm", "Band on the Run", etc. It has such distinct parts; two different verses, a chorus, and the end which goes to an entirely different place than the rest of the song. Only McCartney can write and construct this kind of song with such stellar success.



Until next time...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Three for the Ride: Joe Walsh, Steve Vai, Jars of Clay

Some days, I take the train to work. Other days, I drive. Either way, I listen to music on the way. I put the iPhone music player on shuffle, and off I go. Calling my collection eclectic would be an understatement. It's often an interesting mix. There are songs though, that I really wish the world could appreciate as much as I do. Songs that make me say, "Ooh, listen to THIS! Isn't it great?!"

Here's what I heard this morning:

Joe Walsh: "Theme from Boat Weirdos"
But Seriously, Folks (1978) is best known for its hit, "Life's Been Good," but there are some other great songs on that record, and this instrumental piece is one of them. There are two very distinct parts in this song, one very dreamy and ethereal with a smooth flute melody played by drummer, Joe Vitale, and the other a more funky guitar-driven bit that features Joe's different guitar styles. It's one of my favorite tracks on this record.



Steve Vai: "Viv Woman"
This is turning into an instrumental sort of day. in 1984, Zappa alumnus Steve Vai released his first solo record, Flex-Able. It's a great first effort that reflects Zappa's influence in a huge way. The most impressive thing is that the record is recorded in his home studio, and as rumor has it, on an 8-track. The sound on this record is great.



Jars of Clay: "The Valley Song"
I've seen these guys 4 times now; twice in 1996 and then twice more recently. The show I saw a couple years ago was one of the best live music performances I have ever experienced. These guys know how to paint beautiful sonic pictures. This song from 2003's studio/live double album, Furthermore: From the Studio, From the Stage, is one of those paintings.



Until next time...