Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Doors Day in LA

Fifty years to the day of the release of their debut album, Jan. 4 will be proclaimed "Day Of The Doors" in the city of Los Angeles. The proclamation will be made Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin during a public event at the intersection of Pacific and Windward Avenues, the location of the iconic "Venice" sign. Founding Doors members John Densmore and Robby Krieger will be on hand at the event as will family members of the late Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison.

The Doors (Densmore, Krieger, Manzarek, and Morrison) are quite possibly the most legendary Los Angeles band of all time. Formed in Venice, The Doors went on to become the definitive sound and voice of the 1960s and influence countless generations to come with classic songs such as "Light My Fire," "Break On Through (To The Other Side)," and, of course, "L.A. Woman." Their story has been the subject of countless books and films, including the infamous 1991 film by Oliver Stone and the acclaimed 2010 documentary When You're Strange, narrated by Johnny Depp. The Doors are celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 2017, as their eponymous debut album was released on January 4, 1967 and is still considered to be one of the all-time-great rock and roll debuts.

"Very apropos that The Doors are jumpstarting our 50th in Venice where we started," said Densmore. "Our songs sprang up out of the Pacific like beautiful, edible silver fish... and apparently the world took a big bite."

"Venice is a place where many have chased their pleasures or dug their treasures. It is a place that birthed The Doors and taught us all to cherish the funky, weird, and world-renowned vibe that Jim, Ray, Robby, and John helped make famous," said City Councilmember Bonin. "I am very happy to be amongst the feast of friends celebrating The Doors' 50th anniversary, and I thank the band, their management, and the Venice Chamber of Commerce for making this celebration possible."

2016 in Review: Best Concerts

Over the course of the year, I managed to see 53 concerts (including multi-act festivals and conferences such as NAMM). These top 10 performances made the most impact...

photo: Kevin Sullivan/OC Register
1. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Los Angeles Sports Arena
2. Elvis Costello, Fox Performing Arts Center, Riverside, Calif. 
3. St. Lucia, Observatory, Santa Ana, Calif.
4. Stevie Nicks, The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.
5. Culture Club, Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, Calif. 
6. The 1975, Coachella Festival #2, Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif. 
7. Kip Moore, Greek Theater, Los Angeles
8. Josh Ritter, The Fonda Theatre, Hollywood, Calif. 
9. Rodney Crowell, Stagecoach Festival, Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif. 
10. Trash Can Sinatras, The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 in Review: Best Albums

Here are my picks for Best Albums. These 20 studio releases definitely stood out from the pack. A few were "under the radar" and serve as a good reminder of what was available beyond mainstream radio playlists and music publications in 2016.

1. Last Shadow Puppets, "Everything You've Come to Expect" (Domino) - It took eight years, but the sophisticated second album from Arctic Monkeys' frontman Alex Turner, Miles Kane and James Ford was definitely worth the wait. Featuring shrewd lyrics, deft string arrangements by Owen Pallett (Arcade Fire) and an overall lounge lizard vibe, all the tunes came into clearer focus during the band's standout performance at Coachella Festival #2 last spring. 

2. The Record Company, "Give it Back to You" (Concord) - The LA trio impressed right out of the gate with their enticing debut's take on modern blues rock.

3. The Pixies, "Head Carrier" (PIAS) - Improving on underrated 2014 reunion effort "Indie Cindy," the highly influential veteran alt-rock band crafts another unique-sounding batch of songs with now-full-time bassist/backing vocalist Paz Lenchantin truly making her presence felt.

4. Tom Odell, "Wrong Crowd" (RCA) - A BRIT and Ivor Novello-winner in his native England, the singer/keyboardist goes big and dramatic on a sophomore album co-produced with Jim Abbiss (Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys).

5. St. Lucia, "Matter" (Columbia) - The Brooklyn-based synth pop band led by charismatic South African native Jean-Philip Grobler channels the Eighties on its second release of well-crafted infectious gems. "Dancing on Glass" was one of the year's more memorable earworms.

6. Green Day, "Revolution Radio" (Reprise) - Topical as ever on supercharged first single "Bang Bang," not to mention "Troubled Times," Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt sound revitalized here. Meanwhile, "Forever Now" is among their finest epic suites.

7. Travis, "Everything at Once" (Caroline) - The venerable Scotsmen remain eternally optimistic on their eighth album, often using U2 as a stylistic touchstone. Singer Fran Healy even does a charming duet with a female vocalist - a first for Travis.

8. Johnnyswim, "Georgica Pond" (Big Picnic) - Moving from low-key ethereal numbers to high intensity gospel, folk and R&B-tinged tunes, this husband and wife duo command attention with seamless harmonies (Amanda Sudano-Ramirez learned from the best: her mom was the late Donna Summer). Vince Gill adds tasty guitar work to a track, while the pair's take on Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" is almost more haunting than the original. 

9. Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen, "Death's Dateless Night" (Cooking Vinyl) - It's been a busy year for Kelly. First, the ARIA award-winning singer/songwriter emerged with "Seven Sonnets and a Song," an intriguing collection based on the works of William Shakespeare. Then came this stellar collaboration with Owen - who fellow Aussie Kelly first sang about on 1998 song "Charlie Owen's Slide Guitar." Utilizing sparse instrumentation (piano, acoustic guitar, Dobro, lap steel), they captivate on a wide ranging crop of covers such as Lennon & McCartney, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Cole Porter and Hank Williams, plus a couple traditional numbers.

10. Rolling Stones, "Blue & Lonesome" (Polydor) - The long running rock 'n' roll band cut their teeth on the blues. Now, after 54 years together, the Brits have finally done a proper tribute featuring songs made famous by Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon and others. Recorded live and surprisingly quickly in the studio (their last album arrived in 2005), the Stones give new vitality to the nuggets. Mick Jagger blasts some wicked harmonica and Eric Clapton even turns up to put his guitar stamp on two tracks.

11. David Bowie, "Blackstar" (Columbia)
12. Rick Springfield, "Rocket Science" (Frontiers)
13. Radiohead, "A Moon Shaped Pool" (XL)
14. Sara Watkins, "Young in All the Wrong Ways" (NewWest)
15. Cyndi Lauper, "Detour" (Sire)
16. Cheap Trick, "Bang Zoom Crazy Hello" (Big Machine)
17. Eric Hutchinson, "Easy Street" (Let's Break)
18. Brandy Clark, "Big Day in a Small Town" (Warner Bros.)
19. Pretenders, "Alone" (BMG)
20. Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones, "Little Windows" (Cooking Vinyl)  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Twenty One Pilots collaborate with MuteMath

Fueled By Ramen Recording group Twenty One Pilots have debuted a collaborative studio piece, which captures the duo recreating their songs, “Heathens,” “Heavydirtysoul,” “Ride,” “Tear In My Heart,” and “Lane Boy” live with MUTEMATH.

Shot and directed by longtime collaborator Reel Bear Media, the studio session is streaming now on Twenty One Pilots’ official YouTube channel with the tracks also available for free download via WeTransfer. For more information on TOP X MM (the MUTEMATH Sessions) please visit:

The second North American leg of Twenty One Pilots’ “EMØTIØNAL RØADSHØW” world tour is set to kickoff in January at the Providence, RI Dunkin Donuts Center, followed by an eagerly anticipated March tour of Australia/New Zealand (see attached itinerary). Tickets for all dates are on sale - for complete details and ticket information, please visit


01.17.17 Providence, RI @ Dunkin Donuts Center
01.18.17 Bridgeport, CT @ Webster Bank Arena
01.20.17 Brooklyn, NY @ Barclays Center
01.21.17 Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center
01.22.17 Charlottesville, VA @ John Paul Jones Arena
01.24.17 Allentown, PA @ PPL Center
01.25.17 Albany, NY @ Times Union Center
01.27.17 Pittsburgh, PA @ Consol Energy Center
01.28.17 Chicago, IL @ United Center [SOLD OUT]
01.29.17 Moline, IL @ iWireless Center
01.31.17 Madison, WI @ Alliant Energy Center Memorial Coliseum
02.01.17 Omaha, NE @ CenturyLink Center^
02.03.17 Wichita, KS @ INTRUST Bank Arena
02.04.17 Sioux Falls, SD @ Denny Sanford Premier Center
02.07.17 Bozeman, MT @ Brick Breeden Fieldhouse
02.08.17 Boise, ID @ Taco Bell Arena
02.10.17 San Jose, CA @ SAP Center
02.11.17 Sacramento, CA @ Golden 1 Center
02.14.17 Fresno, CA @ Save Mart Center
02.15.17 Anaheim, CA @ HONDA Center
02.16.17 Anaheim, CA @ HONDA Center
02.18.17 Las Vegas, NV @ Mandalay Bay Events Center
02.19.17 Tucson, AZ @ The Tucson Arena
02.21.17 Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center
02.22.17 Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center
02.24.17 Birmingham, AL @ BJCC Arena
02.25.17 Greensboro, NC @ Greensboro Coliseum Complex
02.26.17 North Charleston, SC @ North Charleston Coliseum
02.28.17 Tampa, FL @ Amalie Arena
03.02.17 New Orleans, LA @ Smoothie King Center
03.03.17 North Little Rock, AR @ Verizon Arena
03.04.17 Memphis, TN @ FedEx Forum
03.05.17 Louisville, KY @ KFC Yum! Center
03.24.17 Wellington, NZ @ TSB Bank Arena
03.25.17 Auckland, NZ @ Vector Arena
03.27.17 Brisbane, AU @ Entertainment Centre
03.29.17 Adelaide, AU @ Entertainment Centre
03.31.17 Melbourne, AU @ Rod Laver Arena
04.01.17 Sydney, AU @ Qudos Bank Arena
04.08.17 Perth, AU @ Perth Arena

Coldplay does exclusive live set for Spotify

Coldplay has released Live From Spotify London, an exclusive, five-track collection of unique, stripped-back live recordings, performed in front of a small audience at Spotify's London headquarters in November 2016.

Live From Spotify London is available on Spotify now at

The track listing is as follows:

Viva La Vida
Adventure Of A Lifetime
Christmas Lights

Coldplay is the most-streamed band of all time on Spotify, and reached a total of five billion streams earlier this week, more than a billion of which were for tracks from their current album, A Head Full Of Dreams.

The band was named Artist of the Year at this week's BBC Music Awards. Coldplay just completed the 2016 leg of their "A Head Full Of Dreams Tour" with two sold-out stadium shows in Sydney, Australia. The run, which has already sold in excess of 4.2 million tickets, continues in Asia, Europe and North America in 2017.

Arcade Fire news

Eagle Rock Entertainment is kicking off 2017 with the release of Arcade Fire’s The Reflektor Tapes on 2 disc DVD and 2 disc Blu-ray on Jan. 27. Details regarding Digital Video release to follow.

The Reflektor Tapes is a documentary about the making of Arcade Fire’s hugely successful 2013 studio album “Reflektor” by director Kahlil Joseph (who also directed Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” film). The Reflektor album debuted at the No.1 position in the Billboard Top 200 and established itself as a global hit. As well as the film, this release also includes a full live show, offering over four hours of entertainment overall.

The Reflektor Tapes received its premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. This documentary captures recording sessions, live performances and the band’s time in Haiti, a country with which they have a long-standing relationship. The second disc in the set features Arcade Fire’s full-length live concert from Earl’s Court in London on June 6, 2014, filmed during the Reflektor tour, which complements the documentary.

Disc One – The Reflektor Tapes (documentary)
Disc Two – Live At Earl’s Court:
1) Reflektor
2) Flashbulb Eyes
3) Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
4) Rebellion (Lies)
5) Joan Of Arc
6) Rococo
7) The Suburbs
8) Ready To Start
9) Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
10) Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
11) No Cars Go
12) Haiti
13) We Exist
14) My Body Is A Cage
15) Afterlife
16) It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
17) Sprawl II
18) Normal Person
19) Here Comes The Night Time
20) Wake Up

As well as the film and the live concert, this release also comes packed with extensive bonus features offering alternate versions of key tracks:

Disc One - Here Comes The Night Time Special / Promo Videos:
(1) Reflektor
(2) We Exist
(3) Afterlife / Afterlife from YouTube Awards

Disc Two - Director’s Cut Tracks:
(1) Flashbulb Eyes
(2) Here Comes The Night Time
(3) Reflektor
(4) Sprawl II
(5) The Suburbs

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Last Minute Music Gift Guide

With Christmas Day fast approaching, here are some music-related gift suggestions for all the procrastinators out there… 


Tim Buckley 
Wings: The Complete Singles 1966-74 
(Ominvore Recordings) 
Although Tim Buckley wasn’t a commercial success, his work was a major influence on countless artists; even more so after tragically passing away from a drug overdose at age 28 in 1975. The later success and early death of son Jeff also drew renewed interest in the elder Buckley’s catalog. This collection includes all his singles encompassing folk, jazz, soul, psychedelia and rock music. The liner notes feature a Q&A between Pat Thomas and Buckley lyricist Larry Beckett that will be of interest to longtime fans.

The Connells 
Stone Cold Yesterday: Best Of 
(Bicycle Music/Concord) 
Initially formed in 1984, this North Carolina band came to prominence later that decade with a handful of college rock and alternative rock radio hits. All the singles – including “Something to Say,” “Slackjawed,” “Get a Gun,” “Stone Cold Yesterday” and UK crossover hit “’74-75” are here. With videos in frequent rotation on MTV’s “120 Minutes,” the folk/rock group and its hushed vocalist Doug MacMillan stood alongside likeminded acts like Gin Blossoms, R.E.M., Trash Can Sinatras and the Cranberries. They emphasized melody and jangly acoustic guitars and had no problem getting heard on modern rock stations.


Phil Collins
Face Value, Hello I Must Be Going, No Jacket Required, ...But Seriously, Both Sides, Dance Into the Light, Testify, The Essential Going Back, The Singles 
In 2016, Phil Collins resurfaced in a big way. The Eighties pop/rock superstar released an autobiography ("Not Dead Yet"), made his first high profile live appearances in several years and put out all the studio albums with fresh cover photos replicating the originals. The double disc sets featuring remastered sound and a second CD with live songs, demos and rarities. In the liner notes of each title, Collins writes that he often thought the concert arrangements ended up sounding better. On the Diamond-certified No Jacket Required, for example, that opinion definitely holds true on "Don't Lose My Number," "Only You Know and I Know" and a leaner "Who Said I Would." For Going Back, Collins' tribute to 1960s soul, he trimmed four tracks into what he calls an "essential" version. Those who just want the greatest hits can opt for The Singles, available in two and three disc sets.      

Steve Earle 
Guitar Town 
(MCA Nashville/Universal Music Enterprises) 
Earle's twangy debut LP showed he was a force to be reckoned with. It spawned two top 10 country hits (the title track, "Goodbye's All We Got Left"), two top 40 charters ("Hillbilly Highway," "Someday") and became a standard bearer of the burgeoning alt-country movement. Guitar Town reached the top of Billboard's Country Albums tally and had two Grammy Award nominations. This deluxe two-disc 30th Anniversary Edition features the excellent original album remastered and a previously unreleased 19-song live show recorded on the Guitar Town tour at the Park West in Chicago in 1986, plus expanded liner notes. The awesome cover of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper" is worth the purchase price alone.
Be Here Now 
(Big Brother)
As the Supersonic documentary film gained rave reviews in limited release this year, Oasis fans could also revisit the appeal of 1997's Be Here Now -
third in the Chasing The Sun reissue series. Frequently slammed by UK music critics as being bloated, the album moved 700,000 copies in three days and remains the fastest selling UK album upon release. It spawned two chart toppers there ("D'You Know What I Mean?," "All Around The World") and another hit that barely missed the mark ("Stand by Me"). To date, the album has sold over 8 million copies worldwide. Housed in a hardback book, the new 3CD remastered version of Be Here Now includes B-sides, rarities. Key selling points for Britpop fans: the unreleased Mustique demos recorded in early '96 by Noel Gallagher and producer Owen Morris; Gallagher's 2016 Rethink of "D'You Know What I Mean?"; "Stand By Me" (Live at Bonehead's Outtake); "Setting Sun" (Radio Broadcast); "My Big Mouth" (Live at Knebworth Park).

Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt 
The Complete Trio Collection 
(Warner Bros/Asylum/Rhino) 
The gathering of these three superstars for the first Trio album was quite an event in 1987. It sold more than four million copies, included country chart topper “To Know Him Is To Love Him,” plus top 10 hits “Those Memories Of You” and “Wildflowers,” won two Grammy Awards and stayed at No. 1 on the country album chart for 5 weeks. Follow-up effort Trio II arrived in 1999, also won a Grammy Award, peaked in the Top Five of the country album chart and sold more than a million copies worldwide. Besides remastered versions of those CDs, there is another disc of rarities and unreleased takes. Among the nuggets: alternate takes of "I've Had Enough," "Making Plans" and "My Dear Companion"; 11 unreleased recordings spanning both album sessions (gospel standard "Softly And Tenderly," a capella "Calling All My Children Home"). 

Adam and the Ants 
Kings of the Wild Frontier 
(Sony Legacy) 
Armed with a then-unique Burundi beat driven sound and an ace sideman in guitarist Marco Pirroni, the second LP from the man born Stuart Goddard went to No.1 in the U.K. upon its 1980 release and spawned two Top 5 hits: "Ant Music" and "Physical (You're So)." This new edition was curated and remastered by Adam Ant (he also penned the insightful liner notes) and includes the original album, B sides, previously unreleased studio demos and rough cuts, a previously unissued live recording and rarities all fully remastered from the original tape by Ant. The 1981 concert on Disc 2 was recorded at the Park West Club in Chicago and finds the band in rough 'n' ready form. "A.N.T.S.," their take on Village People's "Y.M.C.A.," is quite a hoot.

Peter Case 
Peter Case 
There's always plenty of scrutiny when a singer puts out his first solo album after leaving a popular band. In this instance, it was LA cult fave The Plimsouls, who were best known for the alternative radio mainstay "A Million Miles Away." For Case's eponymous 1986 solo bow, he ditched power pop for exquisite folk/pop and the results were excellent. The studio crew was no less impressive: co-producers T Bone Burnett and Mitchell Froom, not to mention musicians Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Rusty Anderson (Paul McCartney), Jim Keltner, Jerry Moratta, Jerry Scheff, backing vocalists John Hiatt and Victoria Williams and string arranger Van Dyke Parks (Brian Wilson). This 30th anniversary edition of Peter Case includes the re-mastered original album (11 originals; the Grammy-nominated “Old Blue Car”; a cover of the Pogues’ “Pair of Brown Eyes”), plus seven bonus tracks: two from a 1986 promotional EP and five previously unissued recordings. Also included is an essay from Case about the album and unseen photos from the era.


The Posies 
Solid States 
Together since the mid-1980s, the Washington state power pop band is best known for such early Nineties alt-rock radio hits as “Golden Blunders,” “Dream All Day” and “Flavor of the Month.” Solid States is the first studio album from The Posies in six years and finds principal members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow taking a more adventurous approach. Here they emphasize electronic sounds before adding traditional instruments. Standouts include the catchy pop of “Unlikely Places, dreamy tandem vocals in “Scattered,” the dense soundscape of “Titanic” and “Rollercoaster Zen.”


The Mavericks 
All Night Live, Vol. 1 
(Mono Mundo/Thirty Tigers) 
To get the full Mavericks experience, one must see them in concert. That’s where Raul Malo’s beautiful rich voice and the musicians' expansive (but never self-indulgent) Americana sounds can be truly appreciated. The acclaimed Miami-bred band reunited in 2012 and followed with two stellar reunion albums (Mono, In Time). The bulk of All Night Live is taken from those efforts - a testament to how strong those songs are.

On Air 
By now, you'd think that the Queen vaults would be exhausted of vital material from the vaults. Wrong. Encompassing multiple sessions that Queen did for England's BBC radio from 1973-77, highlights from concert broadcasts in 1973, 1981 and 1986 (the final tour with late frontman Freddie Mercury), plus 3 1/2 hours of interviews with the musicians (spanning 1976-92), this amazing 6CD box set is perfect for the diehard Queen or classic rock enthusiast. It comes handsomely packaged in a white liftoff case with each disc in a white sleeve. The detailed liner notes for each session includes rare photos, quotes from DJ John Peel and more. It's fascinating to hear how the band evolved and tweaked song arrangements before recording them on the official albums. Key examples include alternate versions of "We Will Rock You," "Stone Cold Crazy" and "Keep Yourself Alive." There's also some unintentionally funny moments hearing the low-key British deejays introducing the tunes. 

Brian May & Kerry Ellis 
The Candlelight Concerts 
(Eagle Records) 
Keeping on the Queen tip, that band's guitarist Brian May, teamed up with singer Kerry Ellis on the Acoustic by Candlelight Tour of the UK in late 2012. The following summer the pair, reconnected for an appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. This CD is taken from various stops on the '12 jaunt, while the DVD spotlights the Switzerland show and includes a bonus music video. Of the selections culled from the tour: Ellis' elegant voice is especially lovely during a take on Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" and Barbra Streisand's "The Way We Were." The pair's voices mesh well amid a duet of Queen's "Love of My Life." Christmas tune "In the Bleak Midwinter" is gorgeous and they get to have some fun with Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" - a crowd singalong that gives May a chance to let loose on his acoustic guitar. 

Brian Wilson and Friends 
Taken from a special 2014 concert at the Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas filmed for PBS series Soundstage, the Brian Wilson & Friends CD+DVD finds the Beach Boys co-founder playing alongside his touring band with longtime bandmate Al Jardine, former Beach Boys sidemen Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar. Special guest appearances are made by Grammy award-winners Nate Ruess of Fun., country artist Kacey Musgraves, acclaimed trumpet player/composer Mark Isham, Sebu Simonian of the multi-platinum, chart-topping indie pop-duo Capital Cities and Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward of indie duo She & Him. In addition to many Beach Boys faves, the bonus material has behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.
Various Artists 
The Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris 
Recorded in early 2015 at Washington, D.C.'s DAR Constitution Hall, this tribute concert features an impressive array of performances by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Patty Griffin, Chris Hillman, Iron & Wine, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Daniel Lanois, Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack, The Milk Carton Kids, Buddy Miller, Conor Oberst, Herb Pedersen, Shovels & Rope, Mavis Staples, Trampled by Turtles, Sara Watkins and Lucinda Williams, among others, and Emmylou Harris herself on CD+DVD.
Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The Wonder of You
After 2015's surprise success I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which topped charts worldwide and sold over 1.5 million copies, here is the follow up. Recorded at Abbey Road, the album features Elvis’ most dramatic original performances augmented with lush new arrangements of “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” “Amazing Grace,” "Kentucky Rain,” “Always On My Mind,” “I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby” and more.


Pete Townshend's Deep End
Face the Face
(Eagle Vision)
With The Who having done its first Farewell Tour in 1982, Pete Townshend was well into his solo career by '86. Recorded early that year for German TV series Rockpalast at MIDEM in Cannes, this DVD+CD finds Townshend’s Deep End touring the concept album White City: A Novel. The 90-minute set includes tracks from White City, Townshend solo tracks, Who classics and more. Among the prominent musicians in the band lineup: Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour (lead guitar), Simon Phillips (drums) and John “Rabbit” Bundrick (keyboards). Highlights include Townshend's passionate "After the Fire" (recorded by Roger Daltrey), the wicked Screamin' Jay Hawkins cover "I Put a Spell on You," the snappy "Face to Face," "Behind Blue Eyes," an acoustic "Pinball Wizard" and the intense horn-laden "Rough Boys."  

Bryan Adams
Wembley 1996 Live
(Eagle Vision)
In the Summer of '96, Adams played to a sell-out crowd of over 70,000 at London's Wembley Stadium during his 18 ‘Til I Die Tour. The album had just gone to No. 1 in the UK and Top 5 around Europe. Available on DVD for the first time and running over two hours, the long-haired, black leather-clad singer/guitarist engages in some bluesy harmonica bursts on "Do to You," rocks hard during an extended "Touch the Hand," duets with Melissa Etheridge for the exuberant, gritty "It's Only Love" and lets his bandmates shine on an epic  “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You." In addition to rowdy performances of hits like “Kids Wanna Rock” and "Summer of '69," Adams and Co. indulge in classic 1960s covers of "I Fought the Law," "Wild Thing" and "7 Nights to Rock." 

The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds: Classic Albums
(Eagle Vision) 
Over the years, there have been several documentaries on the making of The Beach Boys' groundbreaking album Pet Sounds. But the latest installment in the long-running Classic Albums series - available on DVD and Blu-ray - goes even further and has fresh interviews with the principals involved. The hour-long film features old footage and often-fascinating recollections from Wilson, fellow Beach Boys Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, David Marks as well as co-songwriter Tony Asher, Wrecking Crew keyboardist Don Randi and engineer Bruce Botnick. Many demonstrate their contributions. A half hour of bonus material includes more interviews (Randi, engineer Mark Linett, Helen Shapiro) and demos (Botnick goes through "Hang Onto Your Ego" on the mixing desk in mono).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Brian Setzer Orchestra concert review: Los Angeles

Brian Setzer knows how to defy the odds. In a career that spans more than three decades, he’s done it twice.

The first time came in the early 1980s, when Setzer found success fronting classic rock ‘n’ roll-influenced trio Stray Cats at the height of the new wave era. 

A dozen years later, the Long Island, N.Y.-native formed the Brian Setzer Orchestra, combining his love of swing and rockabilly music and gained popularity while nu-metal ruled the airwaves.

Setzer recalled BSO’s beginnings Saturday night at a sold-out Microsoft Theater during his annual Christmas Rocks! tour. “People said we were crazy. Then we had a song on the radio.”

The event drew a variety of fans sporting everything from holiday-inspired attire (ugly Christmas sweaters, elf hats, lighted bulbs) to clothes with a greaser or pin-up-girl theme. Many families had their photos taken with a Grinch character or Santa Claus seated in front of Setzer’s favorite Gretsch guitars.

The presentation – which mixes Christmas songs and tunes from the BSO catalog with choice cuts from Setzer’s Stray Cats and solo careers – was just as joyful as the first time I saw it in 2002 (at its previous home, the Universal Amphitheatre).

Taking the festively decorated stage to Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka,” the 19-piece orchestra kicked off the 100-minute, 19-song set with a snazzy “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (which also opens last year’s “Rockin’ Rudolph” album).

Setzer immediately tore into a lightning-quick electric guitar display on a sizzling “Hoodoo Voodoo Doll.” More impressive fretwork would commence from him throughout the evening. The audience stood for the big slinky 1982 hit single “Stray Cat Strut” and relished John Hatton’s deft stand-up bass solo.

Both female backing vocalists (including Setzer’s wife, Julie) added sass to “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” as their main man had a blast doing an expressive vocal delivery and strolling the stage with his lime green guitar. Then different musicians had their chance in the spotlight.

A high-energy “Gene & Eddie,” Setzer’s tribute to Messrs. Vincent and Cochrane, was an early standout (check out the equally killer version on Setzer’s latest CD+DVD, “Rockabilly Riot! Osaka Rocka: Live in Japan 2016”). “Here Comes Santa Claus” featured cooing Andrews Sisters-type vocalizations and rollicking piano work by the amazing Kevin McKendree.

Plenty of swing dancing commenced around the venue by the time BSO got around to its signature song, “Jump Jive An’ Wail.” Setzer’s narrated drama during a heavy cover of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock” worked well and was a pleasant surprise. Later, the stripped-down segment featuring rockabilly nuggets “Mystery Train,” “Put Your Cat Clothes On” and “Fishnet Stockings” went down a storm.

A bright ‘n’ brassy “Rock This Town” saw the musicians pull out all the stops and Setzer played the life out of his guitar to conclude the main set. They encored with an enchanting “Nutcracker Suite,” and confetti dropped for the singalong “Jingle Bells” finale.

The Bellfuries performed a solid 35-minute opening set including selections from their current album, “Workingman’s Bellfuries.” The long-running Austin roots rock combo fared best during “Bad Seed Sown,” “You Must Be a Loser” (which singer/guitarist Joey Simeone dedicated to his ex-wives) and “Beaumont Blues.”

My review originally appeared at
Photos by Drew A. Kelley

Friday, December 16, 2016

Nine Inch Nails news

photo: John Crawford
Late last year, Trent Reznor declared, "New NIN coming in 2016. Other stuff, too."

The 'other stuff' included the scores for NASA's Juno short film, the climate change documentary "Before the Flood" (featuring the song "A Minute To Breathe") and the Peter Berg film "Patriots Day," set for wide release on Jan. 13.

Now, just in time, he makes good on the Nine Inch Nails side of things.

On Dec. 23, Nine Inch Nails will self-release Not The Actual Events, a new five- song EP. It finds Reznor and now official bandmate Atticus Ross taking an unexpected left turn from 2013's Hesitation Marks and sounding unrecognizable from their current film work. "It's an unfriendly, fairly impenetrable record that we needed to make," says Reznor. "It's an EP because that ended up being the proper length to tell that story."

The pre-order for Not The Actual Events has launched on Nine Inch Nails' redesigned website, Fans can pre-order two formats at the NIN store: 180g 1-sided vinyl and a unique limited digital + physical component version. The EP will be available on all digital platforms on Dec. 23.

A very special limited vinyl edition of The Fragile is also available for pre-order in the NIN store. Created by Reznor and Ross, this four-disc, 150-minute version of the classic 1999 album features 37 instrumental, alternate and unreleased tracks, many of which have never been heard before. The Fragile: Deviations 1 will not be available on any digital services.

"The Fragile occupies a very interesting and intimate place in my heart," explains Reznor. "I was going through a turbulent time in my life when making it and revisiting it has become a form of therapy for me. As an experiment, I removed all the vocals from the record and found it became a truly changed experience that worked on a different yet compelling level. The Fragile: Deviations 1 represents Atticus and I embellishing the original record with a number of tracks from those sessions we didn't use before. The result paints a complimentary but different picture we wanted to share."

Reznor and NIN art director John Crawford have begun the meticulous process of creating "definitive editions" of all the major NIN releases on vinyl. Fans can now pre-order the first three Definitive Editions (Broken, The Downward Spiral and The Fragile) in the NIN store. They will receive a digital download of the remastered audio shortly and vinyl will ship in spring 2017. Those interested in obtaining upcoming reissues, which will be released later in 2017, can request to be notified when specific albums become available.

"We want to present the catalog as it was intended to be, with no compromises," says Reznor. "That means a careful remastering of the audio from the original sources, a painstaking recreation of the artwork, pristine materials, some surprises and an insane attention to detail that you probably won't notice...but it matters to us. No extra bullshit and gimmicks - the 'real' records in their truest form."

Moving Units pays tribute to Joy Division

photo: Jeffrey Jacquin
 “It was kinda like the soundtrack to the discontent of my youth,” says Blake Miller of Moving Units, about one of his musical idols, British postpunk legends Joy Division, fueling a creative storm that has resulted not only in a tribute tour celebrating the music of the seminal postpunk legends but also a companion album for release on Feb. 17 titled Collision With Joy Division.

Also that month in Texas, the LA-based dance rock band will begin a national tour: Moving Units Present the Songs of Joy Division, a live homage which will include covers as well as songs from their own oeuvre.

“I was drawn to the moody industrial sound of their debut album Unknown Pleasures when I was a freshman in college,” he continues about the band’s sultry lure. “And [late Joy Division lead singer] Ian Curtis has this ‘Frank Sinatra smacked out on valium and uppers’ vocal style I really love. I remember feeling captivated by this band while I drove around my desolate hometown in suburban Detroit.”

Putting their own spin on such important tracks as “Disorder”, “Digital”, “She’s LostControl”, “Atmosphere”, and of course, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, among others, Moving Units will lovingly recreate the Manchester band’s tragic beauty faithfully.

“I think we share a deep artistic connection with their music,” he says about the reasons behind waging such a daunting tour. “Our band was very inspired by Joy Division and similarly innovative post punk bands from that era like A Certain Ratio, PiL, Section 25 and The Fall. So when we approached the material, we decided to learn the songs note-for-note and then apply our own musical brush strokes and accents to our versions.”

The new album was produced by Dave Trumfio (Wilco, Jesus & Mary Chain) and Blake Miller. Says Miller, “I think we captured the raw impulsive attitude of their songs and their performance style in a way that both honors their legacy and breathes fresh air into the music.”

Moving Units will also play a second set each night of Moving Units originals that will span their catalog of LPs from Dangerous Dreams to Damage With Care.

Tour dates; 

Feb 21 El Paso TX Lowbrow Palace
Feb 22 San Antonio TX Paper Tiger
Feb 23 Austin TX 3TEN ACL Live
Feb 24 Dallas TX The Foundry
Feb 25 Houston TX White Oak Music Hall
Feb 27 Atlanta GA Masquerade (Hell)
March 1 Wash DC DC9
March 2 New York NY Knitting Factory
March 3 Montreal CA Bar Le Ritz
March 4 Toronto CA Silver Dollar
March 5 Detroit MI El Club
March 7 Columbus OH Basement
March 8 Cincinnati OH MOTR Pub
March 9 Fort Wayne IN The Brass Rail
March 10 Chicago IL Empty Bottle
March 11 St Paul MN Turf Bar
March 12 Omaha NE Waiting Room
March 14 Lawrence KS Bottleneck
March 15 Denver CO Lost Lake