Thursday, August 29, 2013

Paul McCartney's New to be released October 15

After months of speculation, it's official: Paul McCartney will have a brand new studio album out before the year ends. The album, entitled New, will be McCartney's first studio album since last year's Kisses On the Bottom. Since Kisses was mostly an album of standards, New will be McCartney's first album to consist of original material since 2007's Memory Almost Full. The self-titled track is out now for digital download while the album will be released on October 14 in the UK and on October 15 in the US.

I'm very happy to hear this news. It's great that Paul is coming out with a new studio album so soon after Kisses On the Bottom. I thought Kisses was okay and know it was an album that Paul wanted to make for some time. His previous solo efforts have been good. I enjoyed Memory Almost Full but I think the last great one he released was 2005's Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. My only problem with this news: the album title. C'mon Paul! New? You couldn't think of a better album title? However, the new song is pretty good. It reminds me very much of "Penny Lane" or something the Beatles would've done back in their later years.

So yeah, I'll be looking forward to this.

I'm going to try something different and put the YouTube video right here so you can listen to the song.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fleetwood Mac- Then Play On reissue/remaster review

 Fleetwood Mac - Then Play On
Fleetwood Mac
Then Play On
1969
Rating: ****
Bonus tracks: ****

Some might find it hard to believe that before their success with albums such as Rumours and Tusk, Fleetwood Mac was actually a blues rock band then they were formed by guitarist Peter Green in 1967. Fleetwood Mac’s third album, Then Play On, is often considered by many to be their best effort when Green was in the band. The album is also the last the band would make with Green, as he left the band a year after the album’s release in 1970. Now in 2013, the album has been reissued and remastered with the original UK tracking list and segues.

Fleetwood Mac was formed in 1967 by guitarist Peter Green. With Green was guitarist Jeremy Spencer, bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. Green named the band using the surnames of the band’s rhythm section of McVie and Fleetwood. By 1969, the band had released two studio albums- a self-titled debut and Mr. Wonderful. Both efforts were simple blues rock albums and good enough for the band to make a name for themselves. IT was also around this time the band added a third guitarist, Danny Kirwin. The band soon achieved success with a hit single in the UK, the instrumental “Albatross”.

An album like Then Play On was a huge step for the band. Green decided that while sticking to their blues roots, why not dabble in progressive rock? “Coming Your Way” is a great intro and fits with the album cover painted by Maxwell Armfield. Green, Spencer and Kirwin all get to shine on this track. Blues comes in the form of the instrumental “Fighting for Madge”, Kirwin’s 12-bar “One Sunny Day”, the boogie riddled “Rattlesnake Shake”, and the sorrowful “Like Crying”. Songs such as “Closing My Eyes”, “Without You” and “When You Say” are beautiful ballads while “Underway” and “Searching for Madge” create this a sort of psychedelic atmosphere.

As for the sound, it’s fantastic. Then Play On is an album that has been retooled and messed with by the record labels for years. As mentioned before, this reissue is a remaster of the UK version. The US version was released twice in 1969. Both versions omitted songs from the UK version and rearranged segues. For example, the giggle at the start of “Like Crying” is moved to the end of “Searching for Madge”. When first released on CD in 1990, the album was changed up again. While mostly following the US versions, the segues were put in different places and once again, omitted several songs.

One major criticism of the 1990 issue that had fans complaining was the sound quality of the digital transfer, citing that there was too much hiss and distortion. I’ve done several sound comparisons of the 1990 issue and the new remaster. The 1990 version sounds much louder but very hissy and perhaps a little too much reverb. The new remaster does not sound distorted nor does it sound hissy. In fact, it sounds perfect. I’ve never heard the original vinyl but I can believe this is what people heard back in 1969. There’s no need to worry about any massive clipping either.

There are a few bonuses with this reissue. Insightful liner notes are written by Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke and there are a few bonus tracks. First, there’s the band’s hit single “Oh Well”. Unlike the 1990 issue in which the track as one nine minute track, the song is split into its original two parts like the original 45 single. Also on is another single, “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)” and its B-side “World in Harmony”. The former may sound familiar as it was covered by Judas Priest in 1979 while the latter is seeing its debut appearance on CD.

If you were disappointed by the 1990 issue of Then Play On, this is a no brainer: get this remaster immediately. If you are a stranger to Fleetwood Mac’s bluesy beginnings, Then Play On is a pretty good place to start. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Riot to release new studio album in 2014

Hard rockers Riot have announced today via Facebook that they will have a new studio album out in 2014. The album will be released on SPV/Steamhammer in the US and Europe and on Avalon/Marquee in Asia. No other information has been given on the album except that an extensive press release will be coming soon, along with samples of the new release. This will be Riot's first studio album without guitarist and founding member Mark Reale, who died back in January 2012 after his lifelong battle with Crohn's Disease.

I'm very happy to hear that Riot will have a new album out. I don't totally understand the album title but I'm sure we'll find out in the near future. Although I'm happy to hear this, I can't help but think if it's okay for their to be a Riot album without Mark Reale on it. Perhaps they could release the album under another name?

Since the Facebook post did say a press release will follow, I will post more on this upcoming album when the time comes.

Update: I have a few things wrong here. Donnie Van Stavern, bassist of Riot, commented on my story on Facebook telling me the album does not have a title yet (although I did put one there, Chapter 5- Back For the Attack- that was the name of the press release). Recording for the album will start in December. Stavern also said that the band name might change.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Black Sabbath come to Philly

Black Sabbath
Live in Philadelphia
Wells Fargo Center
August 10, 2013

It might be hard to believe but after years and years of waiting, Black Sabbath are finally back on tour. The reunited original line up (sans drummer Bill Ward) are touring in support of their latest studio album 13. As you can imagine, the place was packed with Sabbath fans waiting for an evening of great music.

            There was an opening act in the form of Andrew W.K. While his name might sound new, Andrew W.K. is a metal singer turned TV personality. Instead of having his own band and performing his songs, W.K. did something unusual: he stood on top of platform, playing hard rock and heavy metal classics, and at times shooting Sabbath t-shirts into the crowd. It was strange but ironically enough, W.K. did play some Dio and Deep Purple (the irony being that Dio and Ian Gillan have both sung for Sabbath at one point in time). W.K. even played Sabbath’s “Who Are You”, a deep cut from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

            Sabbath hit the stage at around 8:45 pm. The crowd went wild as sirens wailed and the black curtain went up. “How ya doin’?!” singer Ozzy Osbourne yelled as the band went into “War Pigs”. Osbourne let the crowd sing a line or two in the song to the point where he was gleefully conducting the audiences in vocalizing the song.

            Next came fan favorites such as “Into the Void” and “Snowblind”. The band even dug deep in their catalogue with “Under the Sun” and even the instrumental “Rat Salad” which led into a drum solo from drummer Tommy Clufetos. Even though Ward isn’t with the band anymore, Clufetos is a great drummer. The speed and energy Clufetos has is remarkable.

            With this tour being in promotion for their latest studio album, the band did play three songs from 13: “Age of Reason”, “End of the Beginning”, and “God Is Dead?” I find it funny that with a band like Black Sabbath, people are begging for a new studio album. When it comes time for a band to play those new songs, people walk out. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with Sabbath: barely anybody in the audience walked out during a new song. It goes to show that people actually like the new album.

            Sabbath also played their classics, all of which had fans singing along and clapping their hands to. During “Black Sabbath”, Osbourne commanded that the crowd turn on their cell phones and light up their cigarette lighters. Looking all around the place, it was a sea of flames. It was amazing. Bassist Geezer Butler had his chance to shine during “Behind the Wall of Sleep” playing his bass solo “Bassically” which, of course, went into the Sabbath classic “N.I.B.”.

            If one member of the band had to be awarded with MVP, guitarist Tony Iommi deserves it. As many know, Iommi is the only member of Sabbath that has been in every line-up change in the band’s history. In early 2012, Iommi was diagnosed with early stages of lymphoma. During the recording of the latest album, Iommi went through chemotherapy. During the concert, it was obvious that lymphoma is no match for the mighty riff master. He nailed every solo in each song, including classic such as “Iron Man”, “Dirty Women”, “Fairies Wear Boots”, and “Children of the Grave”.

            Osbourne was in great shape. It’s no secret that Osbourne has done almost every drug out there for years and years. Despite what most people say, Osbourne’s vocals sounded just fine. His onstage shtick as not changed with his cries of “Let me see ya hands!”, “We love you”, and “How the f*ck are ya?” Overall, Osbourne still has it. 

            “Children of the Grave” was supposed to be the last song played but Osbourne told the crowd if they made enough noise, they’d play one more song. As you can imagine, they did with playing the opening to “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” which went right into “Paranoid”.

“God bless you, Philly! We love you all!” Osbourne yelled.

            Black Sabbath were, in a word, amazing. That’s saying a lot considering these guys are in their mid-60’s. The question is if they’ll ever go back on tour sometime after this current one ends. Judging by the band smiling every so often during the show, it looks like they’re really enjoying this. If Black Sabbath come to a town near you, do yourself a favor and see them.


Setlist

1.      War Pigs
2.      Into the Void
3.      Under the Sun
4.      Snowblind
5.      Age of Reason
6.      Black Sabbath
7.      Behind the Wall of Sleep/NIB
8.      End of the Beginning
9.      Fairies Wear Boots
10.  Rat Salad (with Tommy Clufetos drum solo)
11.  Iron Man
12.  God Is Dead?
13.  Dirty Women
14.  Children of the Grave

Encore

15.  Paranoid (with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath intro)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

George Duke dead at 67

George Duke
January 12, 1946-August 5, 2013


Jazz artist and keyboardist George Duke died yesterday. He was 67. The cause of death has yet to be announced. Duke was known for his work in jazz music, starting his career by playing with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Over the four decades of his career, Duke has collaborated with dozens of artist including Miles Davis and Michael Jackson. 

In the rock world, Duke is best known for being the keyboardist for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Duke joined Zappa in 1970, first appearing on Chunga's Revenge. Duke appears on several of Zappa's most celebrated works including Over-Nite Sensation, One Size Fits All, and Apostrophe just to name a few. 

As a Zappa fan, it is sad to hear of George's passing. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

RIP George.