Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Ghosts of Superbowl Halftimes Past

I don't follow rainbows, big dreams, brass rings; I've already captured mine, back when I was number 29... (Steve Earle - No. 29)

We are a week away from Superbowl XLIV and what should be a great football game. With the annual Superbowl comes the halftime show. Today let's look back at some of those highlights.

U2 (Superbowl 36)

Paul McCartney (Superbowl 39)

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Superbowl 42)

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (Superbowl 43)

Others worthy of mention are The Rolling Stones (Superbowl 40) and Prince (Superbowl 41). Here's to Superbowl 44 and The Who. Long Live Rock...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mix Monday: The Who

Listening to you, I get the music; Gazing at you, I get the heat; Following you, I climb the mountains, I get excitement at your feet... (The Who - Listening To You)

Today's Mix Monday is a tribute to one of my favorites The Who. As you probably know by now and I've mentioned this on several different blogs, The Who are playing the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV on February 7th. I've not read a playlist for the show or have heard any tips, but this is my prediction: (1) Baba O'Riley (great intro song); (2) Pinball Wizard (with maybe some lyric changes for football); (3) Who Are You (posslibly My Generation) ; (4) Won't Get Fooled Again (I think this one is a lock).

Today's Mix is more about the lesser know nuggets that this great band dropped throughout their career:

  • Join Together - As good as the early Who was I think they peaked between 197-1974 (or so). During this period they recorded Who's Next ('71) and Quadrophenia ('73) and some great singles and b-sides. Join Together from 1972 is one of those great singles.

  • The Seeker - This one is from 1970 and another nugget; "I asked Bobby Dylan, I asked The Beatles, I asked Timothy Leary, but he couldn't help me either"

  • Love Reign O'er Me - This powerhouse is from 1973's Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend's other great rock opera. Quadrophenia was the story of a teenage Mod trying to fit in.

  • Listening to You - This maybe my all time favorite song. It was the final song for 1969's rock opera Tommy. The song has taken on many forms; in concert Roger Daltrey became Tommy and this finale brought the house down; the song was played in their Woodstock set in 1969; this version is from the 1975 Tommy movie.

  • I Don't Even Know Myself - Recorded for Who's Next, but this little gem didn't make the cut; "Don't pretend that you know me 'cause I don't even know myself"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Classic Album Rewind: The Who - Who's Next

I'll sing my song to the wide open spaces, I'll sing my heart out to the infinite sea, I'll sing my visions to the sky high mountains, I'll sing my song to the free... (The Who - The Song is Over)

As you probably know by now The Who is playing the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV on February 7th. In preparation for the show I thought I would review one of their best records; Who's Next.

In 1971 The Who were at a turning point in their career having released the landmark rock opera Tommy in 1969 and playing the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York the same year. Who lead guitarist and main songwriter, Pete Townshend, was again experimenting with a theme-type album originally referred to as the Lifehouse project. The new release was to be a concept album set in the future. After several recording sessions the concept broke down. Record engineer Glyn Johns was brought to capture how the band sounded live.

Who's Next was a giant leap for The Who right out of the 1960's into the 1970's. The sound was fresh and edgy. Roger Daltrey singing was powerful; Keith Moon's drumming still gives me chills, John Entwistle's bass lines were melodic and Townshend guitar playing is the stuff of legends; Pete also embraced the then new synthesizer as if it was invented by him.

  • Baba O'Riley - A perfect lead off song; the song begins with the now famous synthesizer pattern that was created by Townshend as a result inputting life information of Indian mystic Meher Baba into a synthesizer (composer Terry Riley also influenced the track and thus it's title). The song kicks in with great drumming from Keith Moon and then Roger Daltrey's poweful voice; "Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals"...; followed by Townshend's power chords. The song concludes with the famous line "it's only teenage wasteland" and "they're all wasted".
  • Bargain - Roger Daltrey again sings with power and yearning, "I'd gladly lose me to find you, I'd gladly give up all I had, To find you I'd suffer anything and be glad"; The songs which at first glance appears to be a love song, but Townshend claims it was him seeking God - "I sit looking 'round I look at my face in the mirror, I know I'm worth nothing without you; And like one and one don't make two, One and one make one".
  • Love Ain't For Keeping - This songs feature great guitar, both acoustic and electric from Townshend and I love the John Entwistle bass runs in this one.
  • My Wife - The best John Entwistle song ever written. John also sings lead. The song is hilarious;"My life's in jeopardy, Murdered in cold blood is what I'm gonna be; I ain't been home since Friday night and now my wife is coming after me". The singer is running for his life from his jealous wife.
  • The Song is Over - The songs starts with a nice piano piece and Townshend singing. Then the song kicks in and Daltrey's voice takes over: "I'll sing my song to the wide open spaces"... Then the songs slow and Townshend croons "When I walked in through the door thought it was me I was looking for; She was the first song I ever sang, but it stopped as soon as it began". Great song.
  • Getting in Tune - Another powerful song; starts slowly with piano and a beautiful bass run by Entwistle; The songs builds and Daltrey's voice kicks in right in tune; "I've got it all here in my head, There's nothing more needs to be said; I'm just bangin' on my old piano, I'm getting in tune with the straight and narrow".
  • Going Mobile - Townshend sings this great tune about the open roads; "Keep me movin' over 50, Keep me groovin', Just a hippie gypsy" and "I don't care about pollution, I'm an air-conditioned gypsy; That's my solution, Watch the police and the tax man miss me, I'm mobile".
  • Behind Blue Eyes - This is a classic Who song. It starts out slow and melancholy with Roger and Pete harmonizing, then builds 'til you can hear the angst and fire in Roger's voice; "When my fist clenches, crack it open before I use it and lose my cool; When I smile, tell me some bad news before I laugh and act like a fool".
  • Won't Get Fooled Again - Maybe The Who's greatest song. The songs starts with the now famous synthesizer loop and explodes; "We'll be fighting in the streets with our children at our feet and the morals when they worship will be gone". This song contains the best drum solo of all times, the best scream in rock and roll history and the power chord may have been invented in this song. The song concludes with the great line "meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010: What's In Store

What's the world got in store for you... (Wilco - What's the World Got in Store)

I remember last year at this time I was really excited about the new music that was to be released and events in the upcoming months; a new Springsteen cd, Superbowl Halftime show and tour; also new cds and tours from Wilco and U2. I didn't get to see any of these acts live, but the music of 2009 lived up to my expectations.

Here I am a year later and 2010, at least early on, doesn't measure up. I've looked ahead at some of the early releases and nothing really jumps out. There are a few of interest: Vampire Weekend Contra (Tuesday), Eels End Times (1/19), Drive-By Truckers The Big To-Do (3/16) & The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights (3/16-I am pretty pumped about this one). However, later on it gets better with new CD's by U2, The Shins and The Hold Steady. It is suprising that U2 is planning to release a new CD so soon after last years brilliant No Line On the Horizon. Another one on my wish list for 2010 is the remastered/with extras Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town.

This year's Superbowl halftime show is another of my all time favorites The Who. This would have been a great choice 35 years ago, but The Who have not been The Who since the great drummer Keith Moon died in 1978 or at best since their farewell tour of 1982 with Kenny Jones on drums. It will still be nice to see Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend live.I'm sure there will be some suprise releases and something out of the blue. Anyway to quote the Who - Long Live Rock.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Best of 2009

The songs in your head are now on my mind; You put me on pause, I'm trying to rewind and replay... (U2 - No Line on the Horizon)

2009 will go down as a very good year in music for me. There were some fantastic CDs released, some really top notched songs, and I saw several really good shows. Let's start with my top 10 CDs of the year:

1. U2 - No Line on the Horizon - U2 completed the trifecta with their 3rd great album of the 00's. The cd was loaded with classic U2 sounds like the title track, the terrific Unknown Caller, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, Breathe, and some new twists: the soulful Moment of Surrender, the dance floor number Magnificent and the dreamy Fez-Being Born.

2. Wilco - Wilco (The Album) - Wilco continued in the vein of Sky Blue Sky and another outstanding batch of new songs; the great tune I'll Fight, the powerful One Wing, the paranoia meltdown of Bull Black Nova, the George Harrisonesque You Never Know to the fun lead off single Wilco (The Song).

3. Bruce Springsteen - Working On a Dream - Bruce and the gang recorded as was described as his White Album. Highlights include the Ennio Morricone influenced The Outlaw Pete, the River-like My Lucky Day, the Byrdsy Life Itself, the Beach Boysesque This Life, the inspiring title track and the sequal to Wild Billy's Circus Story and tribute to Danny The Last Carnival.

4. Rhett Miller - Rhett Miller - One of the suprise cds of the year was Rhett Miller's 3rd cd. After last year's Old 97's fine release of Blame It On Gravity, Rhett came back with another solid CD featuring: one of the best songs of the year Happy Bithday Don't Die, solid songs in Caroline, Like Love, If It's Not Love, the quieter Sometimes and Bonfire.

5. Brendan Benson - My Old Familiar Friend -Brendan Benson fresh off
duites with The Raconteurs recorded a fresh sounding pop CD: the should have been a hit single A Whole Lot Better, Misery, Eye on the Horizon, Garbage Day, Gonowhere with it's Wings era synthesiser, etc.

6. Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey - Now and Then
7. The Smithereens - The Smithereens Play Tommy
8. Steve Earle - Townes
9. Buddy & Julie Miller - Written In Chalk
10. John Fogerty - The Blue Ridge Rangers Ride Again

My favorite songs of the year are as follows:
  1. U2 - Unknown Caller
  2. U2 - Fez Being Born
  3. U2 - Magnificent
  4. Rhett Miller - Happy Birthday Don't Die
  5. Wilco - I'll Fight
  6. Wilco - One Wing
  7. Brendan Benson - A Whole Lot Better
  8. Bruce Springsteen - Life Itself
  9. U2 - No Line On the Horizon
  10. U2 - Moment of Surrender
  11. Brendan Benson - Misery
  12. U2 - I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
  13. Wilco - Bull Black Nova
  14. Bruce Springsteen - My Lucky Day
  15. Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey - Santa Monica
  16. Bruce Springsteen - The Last Carnival
  17. Wilco - Wilco (The Song)
  18. Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream
  19. Wilco - You Never Know
  20. Buddy & Julie Miller - Memphis Jane

My favorite show of the year was the Kings of Leon in Rupp Arena, Lexinton, KY on 10/10/09.