Tag Archives: Beatles

A True Guitar Festival – Crossroads Night One (4/12/13)

21 Apr

Eric Clapton Crossroads (DAVID HANDSCHUH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Within the first ten minutes of the first night of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, I turned to my buddy and exclaimed, well, “that was better than an encore. Do we go home now?” Behind the attempted humor, I was serious in my sentiments.To open the show, Eric Clapton and guests greeted an enthusiastic full house at Madison Square Garden with a five-song acoustic set that drifted and jived through Clapton staples like “Lay Down Sally” and “Wonderful Tonight.” Clapton invited artists like Vince Gill and Andy Fairweather Low on stage, the latter of which sang tremendous lead vocals on his song “Spider Jivin” – the second song of the night. Clapton began the concert with “Driftin.” In the middle of his opening set, Clapton performed “Tears in Heaven,” which he has unearthed for his 50th Anniversary Tour. The song, written in response to the death of Clapton’s four-year-old son, is as potent as it is simple. Because of its subject, Clapton rarely plays it (last time before this tour was in 2003). Hearing him perform the song live was well worth the price of admission.

At the helm of the show was emcee and original Blues Brother, Dan Akroyd, who introduced artists and, prior to the concluding set by the Allman Brothers, performed a rousing version of “Got My Mojo Working” with Keb ‘Mo. In reviewing my notes from the show – and recalling my euphoric loquaciousness during/after the show, I realize now that despite my pre-show expectation to see a slew of revered guitar gods, I couldn’t quite grasp how overwhelming and ethereal the concert would be. Perhaps the “kid in a candy store” axiom might suffice in describing the crowd’s zeal, but I believe it may be a little weak. There was an infectious gregariousness to the crowd; this wonderful atmosphere of musical passion and friendship. It was as if the guitar community was coming together for a convention, a mind-blowing convention.

Let’s face it; the entire five-hour concert was a highlight. It was a virtual all-star game of guitarists. I intended on marking down some highlights of the night, but I ended up typing furiously on my cell phone (and then my friend’s cell phone after my battery depleted) just to keep up with the plethora of highlights. For your reading pleasure, I have narrowed down my thumb-tiring list of typed highlights to just three major performances during the show. Before I get to the top three of the night (not counting the Clapton solo set I mentioned above), let me commend Booker T and Steve Cropper for their set (the first after Clapton’s acoustic opener). Paired with Blake Mills, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Keb Mo, Booker T and the NEW MG’s played a five-song set (concluding with “Green Onions) that featured a strong version of “Born Under a Bad Sign.”

Now on to the top 3…

3.) “Everyday I Have the Blues” with Robert Cray, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughn & Eric Clapton

Blues royalty. Yeah, something like that. B.B. King, who is in possession of a personal fountain of youth, was electric for the few songs he sat in on. I particularly like this performance because it highlights the spirit of the festival. As these legends (King, Cray, Vaughn, and Clapton) playfully swapped and stole solos from each other, the crowd could almost smell the aroma of blues – which to me is a mixture of hard scotch and worn guitar strings. This jam is about as authentic as you can get. It is the blues. Strip away the stage, crowd, and allure, and there would still be four individuals playing the blues.

2.) “Don’t Let me Down” with John Mayer and Keith Urban

After a small set of original pieces, John Mayer summoned Keith Urban onto stage to complete a guitar duo for an electric performance of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let me Down.” There are so many things to like about this performance. A.) It’s an awesome cover of a Beatles’ song. B.) John Mayer and Keith Urban can flat-out kill it on the guitar. C.) They also can sing pretty damn well. D.) If you listen closely, the band adds several interesting influences into the song (country hints mixed with traditional blues). E.) Go to the 3:00 minute mark, refer back to B, and enjoy.

1.) “Whipping Post” with The Allman Brothers Band

12 minutes of pure, unadulterated, brilliance. Watching the Allman Brothers Band is always a treat, but they brought it to a completely different level for this concluding performance at Crossroads. The solos were that much more inspired, and the band played with some extra fire and oomph that propelled the song to the apex of awesome. Listening to the jam-packed crowd, five hours into the concert, belt out the familiar lyrics like it was the opening song was also spectacular.

Legendary show! And, all for a good cause.

Rocking Babies to Sleep…Musically!

11 Dec

Beatles Baby

Let’s face it, babies just do not understand good music. While we adults turn on Beatles’ tunes and pretend we are Paul or John, babies are content with any mellifluous sound that distracts them from the poop they just made in their diapers. Why pick any old pleasant sound, when you can show your baby what “good music” is before they even have the opportunity to grow up and shriek at some teen idol with meticulously practiced dance moves and vocal manipulation?

Meet Rockabye Baby, an extraordinarily creative music project that since 2006 has created CDs of instrumental lullaby versions of popular rock bands. Since the first releases in 2006 (Coldplay, Metallica, and Radiohead), Rockabye Baby has put out nearly 50 albums, the latest a tribute to U2. So, parents, here is the perfect opportunity to introduce babies to “Enter Sandman” without traumatizing them. “Enter Sandman” goes from advising babies to ignore the voices they hear from the beasts under their bed, closet, and head, to an instrumental that, while also rather freaky, is significantly more baby-friendly than Kirk Hammett’s guitar. Hammett, by the way, bought the Metallica version of Rockabye Baby for his son.

Not a Metallica fan. No worries. Bathe your baby with Beatles music. Here is a lullaby version of “All You Need is Love.”

I am caught between singing along and falling asleep. The version is just…so…relaxing. I *yawn* think I am going to just rest my eyes for a little bit. Forget about the baby, I want this as the soundtrack of my nighttime snooze. A parent (supposing the lyric is appropriate) can sing the song to their baby while rocking them to bed. “All You Need is Love” is certainly appropriate. I might not suggest singing the lyrics to the rendition of “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd. Even though the baby may not understand what you are saying quite yet, it is probably unwise to alert them of the lunatic in the hall.

The Pink Floyd CD (and The Beatles) will certainly be in my future child’s music collection. Start them young, right? Don’t laugh, a child’s impressionable ears are a horrible thing to waste. My father would play “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” by Franz Liszt when I was a baby. I consider it one of most incredible pieces of music I have ever heard. It was hardwired into my fledgling brain!

Talking about Rhapsody, why not introduce your baby to Queen. The lullaby version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” may be the best of all the albums.

Buy the CDs at Rockabye Baby.

The Final Four – Beach Boys, Beatles, Dylan, Zappa

2 Apr

A poorly doctored image for our tournament needs

Why go all the way to New Orleans when you can just stay online and vote for the best album released in 1966? Oh, because March Madness and this Music Court tournament have nothing in common despite the intentional name and date similarities and the college basketball finals are enticing? Okay, I guess I understand. But wait! You can do both. So before the National Title game commences tonight at the unfairly late hour of 9:25 p.m. ET (seriously! I go to sleep at 10 p.m.), vote in the two Final Four matchups below!

#1-seed Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys vs. #4-seed Freak Out by The Mothers of Invention.

For the second straight year, the March Madness album pool has gone chalk. That does not mean that match-ups cannot be close. In a big surprise, Simon and Garfunkel’s Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme did not only give top-seeded Pet Sounds a run for their money, but also almost beat them. The two albums were only separated by two votes. This was not the case for Freak Out which took care of the Mamas and Papas with ease. Because of this, I am not ready to sail Pet Sounds into the finals just yet. There is a chance that Freak Out might pull off a Final Four update and compete for the title of best album of 1966.

#2-seed:Revolver by The Beatles vs. #3-seed: Blonde on Blondeby Bob Dylan

Revolver has blown out every opponent it has faced since the first round. Blonde on Blonde has pretty much done the same (with the small exception of the Rolling Stones’ Aftermath which it beat by three votes.) Both albums are looking quite strong and, well, are excellent albums. The winner gets the finals and, for the Beatles, a chance to win best album titles for 1967 and 1966.

Elite Eight Part 2 – Beatles vs. Wilson Pickett and Bob Dylan vs. The Rolling Stones

27 Mar

Something about the favorites. The initial voting on the #1 vs. #8 match and #4 vs. #5 match has proven that the favorites get most of the love. Will this extend into our second round of Elite Eight voting? I guess we will find out soon.

Just a few housekeeping notes prior to the match-ups. Yes, this was supposed to be up yesterday, but an unfortunate bout of food poisoning left me curled up in bed for most of the day. I will be traveling on business from tomorrow until Saturday so I will most likely not have a chance to post in that time span. On to the matches!

#2 Seed: Revolver by The Beatles vs. #7 Seed: The Exciting Wilson Pickett by Wilson Pickett

 

 

 

 

Wilson Pickett was so excited that he crushed The 13th Floor Elevators debut in a shutout. Revolver almost did the same to The Rascals. The battle of two first-round powerhouses. Do the Beatles have too much for Pickett to handle?

#3 Seed: Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan vs. #6 seed: Aftermath by the Rolling Stones

While Blonde on Blonde had an easy time taking down The Who in its first round match-up, the 6-seeded Rolling Stones album Aftermath was almost upset by Donovan’s Sunshine Superman, only beating the trippy Dylan-like album by a vote. While I offer a hearty congratulations to the Stones’ album, I would have been interested to see a battle between Bob Dylan and the British Bob Dylan. Alas, we have this great match between a classic Dylan album and a solid Stones composition. I see Dylan taking this one easily, though.

The First Round Continues – March 1966 Madness – 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, 4 vs. 13

15 Mar

Thus begins the true first round of March Madness: 1966 Album Edition. If you are new to the game, let me do a quick sentence reminder of what this is. Over the next few weeks we are going to do a March Madness-style poll game that will narrow down the best album released in 1966 in a time span concurrent with the NCAA March Madness tournaments. Easy enough. All you have to do is vote and have fun. A few days I go I did the premiere post of this year’s competition that saw the #1 seed Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys vs. Buffalo Springfield by Buffalo Springfield. Both good albums, of course, but I think Neil Young would even vote for Pet Sounds, though. It seems that the majority of readers agree. Pet Sounds is winning 5 to 2 currently. Buffalo Springfieldis putting up a deserved fight, though. It is an excellent album featuring some musical superstars. Vote for The Beach Boys or Buffalo Springfield here

Keep voting! Remember, the only way this works is if we receive a whole bunch of votes. Let me thank John Phillips over at http://joebeans2002.wordpress.com/ for re-blogging the first March Madness poll. Do check out his blogs. I am grateful to all of you if you spread this along to others. Let’s make this years March Madness even more exciting than last’s.

On to the match-ups!

#2 seed: Revolver by The Beatles vs. #15 seed:The Young Rascalsby The Young Rascals

 

The Beatles were on last year’s 1967 list twice. They occupy a #2 seed this time around. The Beatles are Duke. They must have been a pretty good band. It is actually striking just how industrious and talented the fab four actually were. Many consider Revolver to be their first deep dive into musical diversity and psychedelics (and it makes sense considering their next two releases). It features hits like “Eleanor Rigbey,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “And Your Bird Can Sing.” It goes up against the debut album from the Young Rascals. The album features their versions of “Mustang Sally,” “In The Midnight Hour,” and a little-known song named “Good Lovin” that went on to be one of the Young Rascals most beloved songs. Is this an easy match-up for Revolver? I think Revolver has too many strengths to lose. It is multi-faceted and classic. Up to you all, though!

#3 seed: Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan vs. #14 seed: A Quick One by The Who

  

Blonde on Blonde was released a year after Highway 61 Revisited which is my favorite Dylan album. It is nowhere near a slouch though. Many consider Blonde on Blonde to be Dylan’s most advanced album. The opening track is “Rainy Day Women #12 & #35!” The album also features “Just Like a Woman” and “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.” It is bluesy and folky and if it wasn’t for the fact that two of the best albums ever released ever were ahead of it, it may be a #1 seed. It goes up against a Who album that is no Spring chicken – even though it was the second album released by the band. The album, which originally was called Happy Jack because of the title’s lewd aspirations, features a few great pieces, but mainly a band that would develop into one of the best of the generation. This may be closer than you think.

#4 Seed: Freak Out  by The Mothers of Invention vs. #13 Seed: The Soul Album by Otis Redding

This is a good battle between two bands that seem like they are absolutely nothing alike, but are more alike than it seems. The Mothers, led by Frank Zappa’s keen musical nature, blended doo-wop, blues, and rock, that together formed the experimental rock collage the album was. The Soul Album (features bluesy soul – obviously) was Otis Redding and members of Booker T & The MG’s (STAX Records house band). The album just couldn’t be bad. Will we have a 13-4 upset?

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