Monday, October 26, 2009

Frank Zappa's 200 Motels movie-should by out by end of November


I've been in touch with British director Tony Palmer. Palmer has directed a few notable documentaries and movies on rock music. One of those movies was Frank Zappa's 200 Motels, which was released in 1971. After a long wait, the movie will be released on DVD by the end of November, according to Tony Palmer himself. The DVD will be available to purchase on his site, www.tonypalmerdvds.com. The DVD can be played on all regions. The only thing I don't know is if the DVD will include bonus material or have a wide release on Amazon and other sties. We'll have to wait and see.

200 Motels isn't the movie for everybody. Critics didn't like it because of its sexual content and references. The movie almost received the X Rating but after editing the movie, it was rated R. For rock listeners and Zappa fans alike, the movie is a classic. The movie doesn't quite have a story but revolves around the theme of a band being on the road. The movie also stands out for its cast. Ringo Starr is in the movie as Larry the Dwarf and Frank Zappa! Zappa's line-up of the Mothers then consisted of Mark Volman and Howie Kaylan (aka Flo and Eddie) of the Turtles. Keith Moon is also in the movie, playing a nun. Even Frank's former drummer, Jimmy Carl Black, is in the movie. Frank Zappa himself isn't in the movie much as he was behind the scenes. The movie also had a soundtrack, which was performed mostly with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Highlights in the movie? My personal favorite songs are the "rock band" oriented songs like "Mystery Roach", "She Painted Up Her Face", and "Magic Fingers". Jimmy Carl Black's number, "Lonesome Cowboy Burt", is hilarious. There are weirder (but funny) segments I like such as "Centerville" and the absolutely hilarious "Penis Dimensions", which sees Volman and Kaylan w/ the cast and the KKK carrying torches. The big epic closer, "Strictly Genteel", is one of the finest songs Zappa as ever composed.

There have been rumors that the movie's carrier, MGM, burned the master tapes to the movie. The movie was one of the first movie filmed on VHS. The movie was out on VHS for some time but now sells for high prices. In August of this year, a new 35mm print of the movie was shown in a California theater, where they showed a double feature of 200 Motels and Zappa's 1979 film Baby Snakes (which is out on DVD). I'm really looking forward to seeing 200 Motels on DVD.

Note: I have seen the movie...online. I'm not giving the site out and I advise you not to go looking for the movie now online. Look on YouTube for clips.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Phil Collins has stopped drumming?

Picture: Phil at a jazz festival I think, c. 1996

Singer/drummer Phil Collins has stated he has stopped drumming...at least for now. The Genesis drummer says that he can't hold his drum sticks as he has no feeling in his fingers. This is due to surgery Collins had back in April to help a dislocated vertebra in his neck. Collins says that if he were to drum again he'd have to have his hands glued to his drum sticks. Currently, he is making an album of Motown covers. This news was present back from September which said that Collins would never drum again.
This really sucks for most Genesis fans. Phil had been the drummer of Genesis since 1971 but then transfered over to lead vocals when Peter Gabriel left in 1975. He'd come to the drums occasionally but by the 1980's, Genesis had morphed from progressive rock band to "pop-prog" rock. This news also hurts any chances of the band performing at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductions (that is if they do get inducted). Most fans are dreaming from the line up of Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, and Tony Banks to reunite. I can see if Peter and Phil shared vocals and the drummer could be some guy. Perhaps Chester Thompson, their touring drummer since 1978 (also known for drumming for Frank Zappa). We'll just have to wait and see.

I read about this on Comcast on Monday

Monday, October 19, 2009

Frank Zappa's Hot Rats is 40


Frank Zappa
Hot Rats
1969
Rating: ****

Hot Rats is such a remarkable album. Just in 1969, Frank Zappa had split the Mothers of Invention (who would reform a year later with a different line-up) and decided to go solo. Lumpy Gravy was Zappa's first album released his name alone. Hot Rats was a big step for Zappa not only as a musican but as a composer. Five of the six songs on here are instrumental. The album was a flop in the US but for some reason, it was popular in the UK. Zappa would later speak fondly of the album in his 1990 autobiography, The Real Frank Zappa Book. He said,
"The very idea! An all instrumental album, except for one vocal cut- and that had to feature Captain Beefheart! He's no singer! Why are you wasting America's precious time with this, you a*****e."

My favorite song on the album would have to be "Peaches en Regalia". I think it's his quintessential song. The sound of it describes who Frank Zappa was: a genius ahead of his time. "Willie the Pimp" is the only song with vocals, sung by Captain Beefheart. The rest of the album has wonderfully conducted instrumentals including "Son of Mr. Green Genes", "Little Umbrellas", the 15 minute long "Gumbo Vibrations", and the coller closer "It Must Be a Camel."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kiss rocks Philadelphia

Picture: Kiss live in Stockholm, 2008. Note that the stage at the show I'm reviewing had the Kiss logo on the bottom, below Eric. The costumes are still the same.

Kiss
October 12, 2009
Wachovia Spectrum

"You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world, KISS!"

Thousands of fans last night rock n rolled all night with Kiss. The band are currently on a fan-routed tour promoting their new studio album, Sonic Boom. I got to see them and it was a lot of fun. Founding members Gene Simmons (bass/vocals) and Paul Stanley (guitar/vocals) are still in the band with drummer Eric Singer (who joined in 1991 and has been in and out ever since) and guitarist Tommy Thayer. The opening act was Buckcherry. The band was really good but in all honesty, we wanted to see Kiss! The band finally came on around 9 pm. I'll now give a song-by-song review on the setlist

1. "Deuce"- An opening riff is all you hear and all you see is a curtain with the Kiss logo on it. Curtain drops, explotion, Kiss! To my surprise, not too many people were going nuts over this classic. For the whole show, I sang along the whole show (why the serious face? It's a Kiss concert! You're supposed to have fun). Gene pumped the audience up by commanding "Let me hear ya!" A killer start.

2. "Strutter"- Without any introduction, the band went into another classic. The songs sounded really good and Paul's voice was in good shape.

In between, Paul said hello to the audience (in case no one knows, Paul has been the voice of Kiss since the beginning). When Paul remarked that the band had just come from the Madison Square Garen, the crowd booed.
"I know how you feel... for your hometown" said Paul.

3. "Let Me Go Rock N Roll"- Gene takes the mic again. The song came out fresh. Eric even had a little bit in it where he says "Yeah! Kiss loves you!"

Paul then went into his stage raps again. He started off by singing "People, I know how you feel about the MSG...but if we all get along, we gonna get this place...HOTTER THAN HELL!"

4. "Hotter Than Hell"- Great song and people were really singing along to this one. The song sounds so clear compared to the one on the Hotter Than Hell album, which suffered from bad production. Gene also did his fire-breathing act!

5. "Got To Choose"- Another song from Hotter Than Hell. Great solo from Tommy. People weren't singing it much :(

6. "Modern Day Delilah"- Paul introduced this song by saying they were playing classics but also "new classics". This song is the single off of Sonic Boom. It's a really great song that sounds like old-school Kiss. However, Paul's voice cracked a bit throughout the song but much credit to him for toughing it out!

7. "C'mon And Love Me"- This one was a real singalong. I mean, how can you not love lyrics like "She's a dancer/A romancer/I'm a Caripcorn and she's a Cancer/ She saw my face on a music magazine"?

8. "She"- This rocker has been a fan favorite for years. The big highlight in this song was an impressive guitar solo from Tommy. His first guitar shined a light on the crowd and the second one he took shot out fireworks. From the auidence, it looked like Tommy was destroying the stage! He also played Ace Frehley's old solo on this song and did it amazing well.

9. "Parasite"- Rough rocker. Enough said.

10. "100,000 Years"- Paul introduced this song as a "top classic" and described all the levels of "classic". This song is notorious for being very long as Eric Singer performed a very long and amazing solo. When Gene, Paul and Tommy came back. When Paul got to the mic, he said
"Well, the Phillies won. Are you proud of your hometown?!"
The audience went nuts. Paul then had the audience get up and singalong for a few calls of "Hey!". This was a great time for people to go to the bathroom but I stayed!

11. "I Love It Loud"- After his bass solo, Gene ascended to a higher stage. There, he did his "throwing-up blood" act which was AWESOME! Gene then had the audience singalong to this great little rocker. The "aye-aye-aye-ayes" were loud! This was different as Gene usually spits blood during "God of Thunder". A very cool change.

12. "Black Diamond"- Ah, yes! My favorite Kiss song. Paul opened with the beautiful solo and jokingly, went into "Stairway To Heaven". He then had the audience sing the intro with him a few times before yelling "Hit it!" to cue the rest of the band to play the faster part. Eric took over lead vocals. Eric even changed the "Got you under their thumb" lyric to "Got you under Philly's thumb" at the end.

Paul went into another stage rap. He said (words are NOT exact),
"People! If you came here to hear how we're gonna feed the whales, how to stop the war, or how to save money...you've come to the wrong f**king place
*Appluase*
"It ain't a crime to...ROCK N ROLL ALL NITE, PARTY EVERYDAY!"

13. "Rock N Roll All Nite"- The rock n roll national anthem! Confetti showered the audience while Paul asked the crowd to sing with them. After a few explosions, the band left the stage...

ENCORE

Gene, Paul, Tommy, and Eric came back out.
"Philly!" screamed Paul. "Do any of you want go home yet?"
The crowd roar negatively.
"This is gonna be the longest encore", Paul remarked. "This one is off of Destroyer and if you want to party, you got to SHOUT IT OUT LOUD!"

14. "Shout it Out Loud"- Another great anthem that had everyone singing. Gene and Paul shared vocals as always but for a short second, Tommy sang one line. Cool!

15. "Lick It Up"- Paul started this one off by saying "Philly...don't wanna wait till you know me better!". Every diehard knew it was time to "Lick It Up"! The band even went briefly into "Won't Get Fooled Again". In the background on the screens, cubes with pictures of all the Kiss albums rotated. I thought this was very cool and just a great way to show 35 years of hard work! This was the only song that the band played that was from the "non-make up" era (1983-1996).

16. "Cold Gin"- This Ace Frehley composed song is too much of a classic not to play. Paul remarked that people need this to cool off but "Don't drink and drive cause we wanna see you again!". During the solos, Gene licked Tommy's neck out of humor. Great stuff!

Paul went into another stage rap and said he remembered when they first came to Philiadelphia and he liked meeting his friend. He wanted to come out and see the crowd. Lucky enough, I had very good seats and the second stage was right there! After the crowd yelled "Paul!" a few times, he got ready to swing over. It was time for...

17. "Love Gun"- Paul swung over on a metal rod to a rotating stage. People in my section were all getting their phones out to take pictures. It was so cool to see Paul Stanley that close...inches away from me! I've always loved "Love Gun" and this was fantastic!

Paul remarked that they would have to get to the airport tomorrow. For now, we were going to...

18. "Detroit Rock City"- What I love about this song is that it's catchy and rocking. Usually since the release of Destroyer, this song has been the choice as the opening song for shows. This was now the closing song and it was such a terrific way to end it. Gene and Tommy are raised on platforms, Paul is smashing his guitar, and few explosions.
"Philadelphia, we love you! Rock n roll........"
BANG!
The lights went off and within seconds, the screen read:

KISS love you, Philadelphia.

I really enjoyed seeing Kiss. There'll be people who missed a great show just because Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are no longer in the band. This line-up is really good. Kiss has one of the most loyal fan-bases in rock music...the Kiss Army. After ten years of waiting, Kiss have been finally nominated to be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame (or Shame considering the so-called "deserving" acts that are in there and not a dozen others) for 2010. Will the Kiss Army win this battle? I hope so but for now, rock n roll all night and party every day!

Dickie Peterson, 1948-2009

Dickie Peterson, bassist and singer of the rock band Blue Cheer, died on Monday from lung cancer in Germany. He was 61 years old. Blue Cheer, often cited as pioneers of heavy metal, had a hit with their version of "Summertime Blues" in 1968. Blue Cheer had been touring again since 1999. The band's official web site as a link to an article on Peterson's death.

Rest in peace, Dickie.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Deep Bands- Spirit

picture: cover of the album Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus

This is a new series that’ll summarize bands, I think, deserve more attention.

California was the place for psychedelic music in the 1960’s. A lot of bands came out of the area and just some of them really made it. By 1968, there was a new band called Spirit. The band was formed by guitarist Randy California. California was just a teenager when he started playing the guitar. When he was 16, he joined a band formed by Jimmy James, better known as Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix gave California his last name as he had two different Randy’s in his band at that time. By 1966, Hendrix had barely formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience so California was out by then.

California and his step-father drummer Ed Cassidy formed Spirit. The band also consisted of singer Jay Ferguson, bassist Mark Andes, and keyboardist John Locke. The band was signed to Epic Records and released their self-titled debut album in 1968. For the band’s first tour, they played with Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin liked Spirit so much that during sound checks, they would play “Fresh Garbage”, the opener for the Spirit album. As a result of touring together, guitarist Jimmy Page gets blamed for plagiarizing California’s guitar instrumental “Taurus”. In this song, California plays a chord-progressing solo. The intro-solo to Led Zeppelin’s much more famous “Stairway to Heaven” in 1971 sounds as if Page had copy-and-pasted California’s playing! Page has denied copying California but there is no rest for some Spirit fans.

Later in 1968 the band’s second album, The Family That Plays Together, was released. The album earned the band a hit single with “I’ve Got a Line on You”, which reached #29 in the charts. The band released their third album, Clear, the year after. Spirit were invited to play at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Ironically, they were offered the spot right before Jimi Hendrix closed the three day festival. The band was forced to decline as the band was already touring in promotion for Clear and management thought that Woodstock wouldn’t be significant. Things got worse as tensions flowed during the recording of the band’s fourth album, Twelve Dream of Dr. Sardonicus, released in 1970. By 1971 after the tour in support for the album, Ferguson and Andes left and formed their own band, Jo Jo Gunne. California also left to pursue a solo career. Cassidy and Locke stayed, with brothers Al and John Staehely leading. This line-up released Feedback in 1972. Locke and Cassidy left leaving the Staehely brothers touring the band without any of the original members before breaking up in 1973.

In 1976, Randy California and Ed Cassidy reformed Spirit with ever-changing line ups and three more albums. A reunion with Ferguson, Locke, and Andes was in place in 1978 but fell apart after California pushed Neil Young off the stage, thinking Young was a drunk. Another reunion was attempted in 1984 but it did nothing. California and Cassidy kept going on as Spirit until 1997. On January 2, 1997 Randy California was killed in a riptide in a successful attempt at saving his son, Quinn. In 2006, keyboardist John Locke passed away.

The members of Spirit have done other projects over the years. Mark Andes is still playing here and there. Jay Ferguson attempted a solo career and when that failed, he started composing movie and television soundtracks. Ferguson composed the theme song for the hit NBC sitcom, The Office. Jo Jo Gunne reunited in 2005 a released an album. As for Ed Cassidy, he’s still writing and keeping in touch with fans.

Recommended albums: Spirit, The Family That Plays Together, Clear, and Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus

Personal view on albums: Of those four, I think Twelve Dreams is the one to get first. I think it’s one of the greatest albums ever made and I’m not the only one who thinks this!

Recommended Songs: Nature’s Way, Mr. Skin, Animal Zoo, Fresh Garbage, I’ve Got a Line on You, Aren’t You Glad, 1984, Prelude/Nothin’ to Hide, Dark Eyed Woman

Recommended Compilation: 1973’s Best of Spirit is very basic song wise. If you want more songs, Time Circle is good.