Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Favorites!

Well, it’s a little late. I was hoping to have this one up a bit before the holidays, but I ended up off line for a couple of weeks. But there are still probably still a few glasses of eggnog to drink before the holiday season officially winds down for another year.

In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite seasonal tunes. Forthcoming, my thoughts on Bon Jovi’s latest recording, The Circle.

Do they know it’s Christmas? Band Aid

I remember when it came out and now it’s a classic. Sure sign of aging. Some Christmas songs I am not sure if I like anymore or if they are just fond childhood memories. This one I am sure that I do still like. Barenaked Ladies also do a good version of this on their Christmas album. Speaking of Barenaked Ladies…

Jingle Bells, Barenaked Ladies

Probably the only version of Jingle Bells I like is by the Barenaked Ladies. As can be expected from this band, it is in good humor. It starts off very soft, slow and sultry on the piano and then moves in to very boppy and humorous number. It’s a hard one to resist. My kids also love it.

I Saw Three Ships, Bruce Cockburn

Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn has a great Christmas album containing this number. The entire disc does not play like a traditional sounding Christmas recording. It is more of a rootsy/folk recording. It makes for a nice quiet holiday night at home just relaxing under the Christmas lights.

Carol of the Bells, Trans Siberian Orchestra

From one extreme to the other the Trans Siberian Orchestra gives us hard rock sounds of traditional favorites. To my taste, Carol of the Bells never sounded so good. I like this whole album.

I Believe in Father Christmas, Emerson Lake and Palmer

This is one I remember hearing on the radio during December month every year tracing back for some time. I always loved this song and never knew who sang it and could never locate it. Finally along came the Internet and through the magic of Google I typed in a few lyrics and the mystery was solved. The best way I can describe it is a kind of haunting Christmas tune.

Something About Christmas Time, Bryan Adams

This is another one that goes back a ways for me. It’s slow, it’s cheesy – but aren’t the holidays suppose to be.

Father Christmas, The Kinks

This is a nice little funny but serious rock and roll tune. The chorus “Father Christmas, give us some money, we don’t want your silly toys, we’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over..… all your toys, for the little rich boys”. The song sounds humorous when you hear it, but they are no doubt trying to tell us something too!

Happy New Year everyone!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Hey everyone,

Just another quick note - I have been offline for a couple of weeks. The power supply on my fairly new laptop needs replacing and I am waiting for a new one to arrive in the mail. I am just doing a quick post from a relative's house. I have a couple new posts ready to roll as soon as I am up and running again at my own house.

I have some time off over the holidays and it some ways it's actually nice not to have a working computer in my house. But I'll be good and ready to hook up again and browse my usual sites and blogs as soon as I am able.

In the meantime, if you celebrate the holidays I hope you are enjoying it to the fullest!! If you do not, I hope, as usual, life is treating you good.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas is coming....

Hey everyone,

With the holidays fast approaching everything is busy busy busy. I bought the newest Bon Jovi CD, The Circle, shortly after it came out and I haven’t even took it out of the wrapper yet. I will be posting a review as soon as I do get the chance to give a listen or two all the way through.

I did get all my holiday shopping completed (just about) and decided that I owed myself a treat and purchased myself a new acoustic Seagull guitar. If there are any guitar experts out there feel free to let me know how they are. (no negative comment please because I have already made the investment – haha). I haven’t been finding the time to play and I plan on trying to change that so I made the purchase. I am far from a great player, but enjoy the quiet contentment I get from playing the guitar with myself or others.

In addition to my forthcoming thoughts on the new Bon Jovi disc I am attempting to put together a list of favorite rock and roll holiday songs. Hopefully, it will appear sometime over the weekend.

I decided to end today with something with a bit of holiday spirit. Here is one of my favorites, Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell, playing the holiday selection Merry Christmas Everyone. He’s a decent singer too. Enjoy!! Back soon!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stub Hub?

This is not really a posting so much as it is a question. Have any of you out there ever used Stub Hub for concert tickets? I only started checking out this site recently and there are some good seats being sold for upcoming summer concerts that are for the most part sold out.

It's brand new to me, but from all the research I have done seems like it's all ok. But thought I would throw it out there to see if anyone had any experience using this service.

Thanks in advance to anyone for sharing!! Hope you are all enjoying the weekend!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Trans Siberian Orchestra and some other thoughts

I’ll start with my usual preamble about taking too long to update my blog and now get right into a few thoughts for today.

Have you ever listened to the Trans Siberian orchestra? Big Orchestra sounds combined with hard crunching rock and roll. They have recorded concepts from Christmas music to the Last Night of Beethoven. I have had this kicking around for a while and have only listened to it on occasion, but not long enough to comment on it. It was always something I was curious about listening to from start to finish.

After finally giving their music some time the last few weeks I was prompted to look up footage from some of their live shows. It is cheesy and over the top? Maybe. But isn’t that the point? I like the sounds here for the same reasons why I loved the hair bands of the eighties and why I loved the big theatrics and sounds of metal gods Iron Maiden.

When played lived this style of music contains all the props that it should including extensive lights and pyrotechnics. Their tours are often played in some larger arenas with a not too expensive ticket price. I would think it makes for a fun night out!

Speaking of tours U2 just announced a date in the wonderful city of Montreal this summer. I am in the process seeing if this can work into my summer travel plans. I am yet to see U2, but would love to get the opportunity. My only dilemma is I am not sure if I can get all the details worked out to get away before the concert likely sells out.

Also, Bon Jovi continues an extensive tour. My wife have never been to see Bon Jovi, one of her all time favorites, but I have. I would love for both of us to go but looks like all the dates that we might travel to have already had most good seating sold.

I hope to be back before the end of November. Christmas is only a little over a month away, so here is a live clip of the Trans Siberian Orchestra performing the Carol of the Bells.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Random Thoughts, Halloween and Michael Jackson

Well it’s been such a busy couple of weeks I haven’t been able to pay attention to my blog. So I thought I would take just a few minutes and sit down in front of the computer and jot down some random lines to let everyone know I am still here. My kids had birthdays last weekend. I remember having a birthday party as a kid, but for some reason this seemed like it was a full weekend event for my two. This weekend they are both excited about Halloween, and wouldn’t you know they are sick. Such is life, rotten timing.

Speaking of Halloween, in one of my high school English classes on Friday I broke out Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and tried a dramatic reading followed by a showing of the now classic Simpson’s version narrated by James Earl Jones. From there we started talking about people’s fascination with this time of year and the genre of horror. Somehow Michael Jackson crept into the conversation and I couldn’t resist playing the Thriller video for a Halloween treat.

I haven’t spoke about the King of Pop on this blog, so now is as good a time as any. Back in the 80’s I loved the hair bands, the hard rock and the heavy metal. But I was a secret Michael Jackson fan. I just found the sounds of the Thriller record so infectious and impossible to resist. After spinning such bands as Quiet Riot and Def Leppard, I would spend a little time with the now pop classic sounds of Jackson. I had Jackson’s album Bad too and liked It just as much.

Friday’s viewing of Thriller was the first time I sat and watched a Michael Jackson video in a long time. He was unquestionably talented. Later that evening at home I ended up on YouTube watching other videos by the late superstar. Most of the songs and videos hold up to this day and are arguably far better than most current pop artists could ever hope to produce.

I’ll choose not to comment on the controversy that surrounded his life. Whatever he was, or whatever he wasn’t, Michael Jackson the entertainer managed to get this rock and roller enjoying pop music for a while. No other pop artist has ever done that since.

Have a Happy Halloween everyone!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blast from the Past Time

Anyone remember this one? The band…Grim Reaper. The song…Rock You to Hell. My friend had this cassette and for a while we played this song over and over again. And that was my own history with the band. It started and ended in the year 1987. One song. One video. One year. 1987.

However, earlier this week I found myself humming this tune. I have no idea why other than it was buried somewhere deep inside my subconscious and it decided to make a sudden plunge forward into the land of the living. My brain tells me to hum it and later that evening I was in front of Youtube listening to the song and watching the video. Then my own natural curiosity forced me to fire up Google to discover more about the band named after the Angel of Death.

I now know more about them than I ever did. They actually formed in the late 70’s/early 80’s and began recording. They released three albums, and their third and final recording, Rock You to Hell, contains the title track that has submersed out of nowhere in my head. In more recent years the band has got back together and has played some live shows.

So there you have it, a very brief history of a band from a very casual fan who knows very little about them. I’d be curious to hear from anymore who remembers them or knows more about them then I do! Have a good one!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Anvil The Story of Anvil

I have been anticipating watching this one since I first saw the trailers. I remember Anvil well from back in the eighties. Songs such as Metal on Metal and Mad Dog got some pretty steady airplay in Canada. Since those days I knew some things about Anvil and also made some assumptions. I knew that they were still in existence. I knew they have continued to put out albums and play live. I also knew that their early work was influential on some acts that have gone on to become metal legends. What I assumed then, is that they although they faded far from the spotlight and were definitely not rock stars, they probably managed to scrape together a modest living for themselves thanks to a cult following and live shows.

Boy was I wrong on the assumptions. This movie details every brutal detail. It begins with a brief history of the band and some comments from quite a few legends. Lars Ulrich from Metallica, Lemmy from Motorhead, and Slash all talk of their affection for Anvil and explain the band’s influence on the genre of metal. Flash to the next scene and there’s Steve Kudlow (Lips) driving to work….as a deliver person for a food catering company. Although Anvil is still in existence, to make a living and provide for their families they are forced to work in very unglamorous jobs.

Lips and Robb Reiner are the two original members of Anvil who as kids vowed to do this until they were old men. Now in their fifties, the movie documents how they have stuck to this promise. I won’t mention all of the details but some of what you will see is an absolutely awful tour of Europe with some terrible gigs, trying to gain funding for their new album and the recording of it and a look at their unconditional love for each other and their families.

The person that fascinated me the most here is Lips. He comes across as a fifty year old kid and you can’t help but root for him through his frustrations and failures. He is for the most part kind, polite and optimistic. But he occasionally loses control and is an emotional wreck. His counterpart, Reiner, is equally committed and passionate to their craft, but keeps his emotions a little more grounded.

The movie is hilarious, heartbreaking, eye opening, fun and I could keep going on. It has it all. I am not sure you can find two as committed and devoted to their music. The exposure they have gained from this film has apparently done the group no harm. I will be following and rooting for them. May the dream never die! I highly recommend this movie!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pearl Jam's Backspacer

I haven't reviewed anything in a while, but this past week I have been listening to the newest release from one of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam. The new record, titled Backspacer, is the first since their self titled effort in 2006.

I didn't really embrace the 2006 disc, but I'm not sure if I didn't like it, or if I just didn't listen to it enough. Pearl Jam sometimes requires a few spins before it really starts to grow on me. I often go from liking to loving a lot of their music.

However, I found Backspacer to have more of an instant effect on me compared to any of Pearl Jam's other releases with the exception of some of their earliest efforts. The songs are a little more melodic and may be easier to take to for those who do not usually embrace alternative bands and perfer straight up rock and roll.

Having said that, I don't want to be misleading. This is still very much a Pearl Jam record and a great one at that. Eddie Vedder is unmistakable as always. He may be one of my favorite vocalists. I have always loved Eddie's haunting vocals on slower and, well, haunting Peal Jam tracks. There are a few of those on here too including Just Breathe and The End.

And of course there are plenty of straight up in your face rock tracks including a great opening number called Gonna See My Friend, as well as The Fixer, Supersonic and others. It's a very solid rock record that I enjoyed on the first listen that should also have some staying power with me too.

Grade A. Favorite tracks: Gonna See My Friend, Supersonic, Just Breathe.

As an aside, I have always listed my favorite tracks when reviewing a CD. I am not sure if I should do that because it often changes. However, the tracks listed are certainly those that are striking me as favorites at the moment.

Have a great week!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Eighties

Sean on the Circle of Fits blog recently spoke of his disgust of what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has turned into as well as this year’s nominees. Check out the blog post here, I totally agree with the sentiments presented.

As a result I got thinking of some bands from the eighties. This infamous decade is where I spent my entire teen years and as a result there was a period of time when I knew ever lyric to ever track of every glam and hair band that ruled the airwaves. A slight exaggeration, but it was the scene I lived for a few years. So what about some of these bands? Who from this time and that genre belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

I am assuming Bon Jovi will get the nod at some point. No matter what your thoughts are on them there is no denying their accomplishments. They are continuing to find success long after the arrival of massively popular Slippery When Wet.

What about Motley Crue? The bad boys of rock continue to be a huge concert draw. Should they be a no brainer….or would they be as relevant if it were not for the “tabloid-ish” lifestyle that has followed some of the band members around?

How about Def Leppard? This band often get criticized for one reason or another. But they did put our two Diamond selling albums….a feat accomplished by only a select group of artists. They also continue to record and are a steady concert draw.

These are just the three obvious bands that found their early and highest levels of success in the eighties. Do any or all of these belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Are there any others from the decade that everyone either loves or hates that deserves induction? What do you think?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Some Great TV and Great Music

Wow, it's been too long since an it goes. Something a little different maybe, but with a music twist.

My T.V. viewing habits have certainly changed a lot over the last 5 years. In fact I rarely sit down at a specified time to watch a favorite show anymore. I rarely sit and just cruise through the channels aimlessly and I don’t enjoy reality programs. But thanks to DVD I have discovered some fantastic series that I can watch through at my own pace on my own time. Although, many people will often say there is nothing good on T.V. anymore, there are some fantastic shows I have watched in their entirety over the last few years. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Six Feet Under

I have to make a bold statement and say this is the best television program I have ever watched. I didn’t see a single episode of this until the show had completed its run on HBO. Someone lent me a copy of season one on DVD and I instantly fell in love with it. I thought the premise at first would turn me from wanting to check this out; I couldn’t see me wanting to tune into a show set in a funeral home. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The show had everything I like about a good program – unforgettable characters, great drama, dark humor, no clichés, powerful storylines and fantastic acting. There are not many movies or shows that I have watched that really stay with me for a long time. But after watching the series finale of this one I felt haunted for days/weeks afterwards with parts of the series going through my head over and over again. Fantastic stuff, I suspect it will be a while before this one is ever topped for me.

The show has also has a “killer” soundtrack (haha – another pun). There is a mixture of somber and haunting songs as you would expect in a show about a funeral home. There are also a few upbeat songs capturing some of the shows dark humor and quirkiness. For the most part the musical artists featured throughout this show are not main stream artists.


I was a fan of the X-Files and always thought David Duchovny may fall into the type casting trap and never be able to shake his Fox Mulder character from the long running Fox science fiction drama. About 10 minutes into this Showtime original and Duchovny was no longer Mulder to me and had easily transformed into Hank Moody.

This show follows the life of Moody as he makes the move from his beloved New York to California to be near his ex and daughter. Hank was once a very successful and bestselling author, but is now uninspired and struggling with the fact that one of his best known works was made into a tacky movie. Hank drinks, tells it like it is, and sleeps with a lot of women. Yet despite his many flaws, you are always rooting for him and he is totally hilarious. I think there may a little bit of Hank in all of us, he is straight forward and matter of fact, doesn't give in to societal pressures and norms and underneath it all has an unconditional love towards his family and friends. There is a great supporting cast of characters and actors and the show has had many laugh out loud moments for me through the first two seasons and I can’t wait for the third.

This show also features some great music. I recently purchased the soundtracks for the first two seasons. It contains a variety of songs from some lesser known artists to a few more mainstream such as Sheryl Crowe, Elton John and The Rolling Stones. I guess most of the music on here would fall into the category of alternative rock. Of the two shows I have featured here the music in this one edges out for me a little. There are few great covers on here too, my favorite being Neil Nathan’s version of ELO’s Do Ya. Nathan’s version is a totally stripped down acoustic version of the fast and large sounds of the original.

I’ll try to get back sooner than later this time. In the meantime, if you haven’t heard Neil Nathan’s Do Ya, here it is….have a great week!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Before Slash, there was Nash...the Slash

Nash the Slash of the Canadian band, FM

Well I decided to keep the blasts from the pasts going for at least another week. I have no idea why this 80’s pop band came into my mind this week but for some reason I found myself sitting down one evening watching their videos on YouTube.

FM are a Canadian band who formed in the late 70’s, but saw most of their success in the 80’s. I am not sure how much success they had outside of their native country, I never really followed them closely. By the time they were getting some airplay in Canada I was submersed deeply into the hair bands of the day. But they had the unmistakable 80’s pop sound with those catchy tunes that could get stuck in your head and stay there for days.

But perhaps the most unique thing about this band was one of their members, Nash the Slash. Nash is also a solo performer and has a bit of a cult type following mainly around his home province of Ontario. His is a multi-insturmentalist and his own style of music is quite different than what you would hear FM performing. Wikipedia describes it best as a blend of new wave/new age/punk rock and I would also throw in progressive maybe. But what is also very unique about Nash the Slash is his appearance. He always appears in videos and live totally wrapped up as if some sort of mummy. Check out the video I have included below to see what I mean. Back in the 80’s I never questioned why he dressed this way, I just assumed it was some sort of gimmick. I checked the Internet do a bit or research on Nash the Slash and here is what I found out.

Aparently during a performance in the late 70's he walked on stage covered in these badages as a sign of awareness of the Three Mile Island Diaster and what could happen to you. In short, the bandages became his trademark and they stuck...haha...bad pun!

Nash has also composed for film and continues to tour and record. FM has also performed in the last few years, although to my knowledge Nash was part of the latest version the band.

Check out the video below for some classic foot tapping, 80's sounding pop music and try not to chuckle at the mummified Nash the Slash rocking out. Have a great labor day weekend!

Concert Review, John Prine

It was a unique concert experience; well it was for me anyway. I am used to attending rock and roll shows, so being seated in a small theatre watching a country folk artist for the evening was a bit of a switch, but certainly did not disappoint.

An audience made up of people in their early twenties right up to well into their sixties packed the theatre leaving not an empty seat in the house. And a very enthusiastic crowd we all proved to be too, clapping loudly and chanting anticipating the performer’s entrance. But before the headliner hit the stage we were treated to a great performance from Carrie Rodriguez, a young lady from Texas. She was relatively unknown around these parts but received a loud ovation from the audience after quickly winning us over with her approximately 30 minute set.

When the legendary singer songwriter John Prine hit the stage the crowd in unison stood up and gave him the first of several lengthy and loud standing ovations before a single chord was strummed on his guitar. Prine took centre stage with just two other musicians with him, an electric guitar player and a bassist, both who proved impressive throughout the night.

Prine sang through one well known number after another as the crowd often sang along. And it lasted a long time, the singer who is into his 60’s treated us for close to two and a half hours of songs from his 40 year career. Occasionally, Prine would stop long enough to tell one of his witty stories in between songs as he has also become characteristically known for. It is a treat to listen to him speak and share some stories about where he got the inspiration for one of his songs or the circumstances under which they were written.

About midway through the evening the two back up musicians left the stage and Prine performed several numbers solo including the popular Illegal Smile. He stopped singing at one point during this song, cued the house lights up, and the crowd took over.

The night finally ended with a 3 song encore which included Carrie Rodriguez coming back to the stage singing one of his classic duets, In Spite of Ourselves. Another lengthy and loud ovation ended the evening and I suspect no one walked away disappointed on this night.

Unfortulately I left my camera in our hotel room so I have no photos or footage from the concert, but here is the setlist from the evening. I have also included a youtube video clip of Prine performing the classic and haunting Hello in There.

Have a great week!

John Prine Setlist, August 29th, 2009
Spanish Pipedream, Picture Show, Speed of the Sound of Loneliness, Please Don't Bury Me, Souvenirs, Far From Me, Fish and Whistle, Glory of True Love, Long Monday, I Wish You Love, Angel From Montgomery, Christmas in Prison,Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow), Illegal Smile, Dear Abby, Sam Stone, Saddle in the Rain, Bear Creek, Sweet Revenge, Ain't Hurtin' Nobody, Hello In There, Lake Marie
Encore (with Carrie Rodriguez) - In Spite of Ourselves, Unwed Fathers, Paradise

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Honeymoon Suite

Honeymoon Suite's latest release, Clifton Hill

It seems that is has become an unofficial tradition for me lately to end off the week with a blast from the past. I have not really set out to do that, but it seems that every week something has been reminding me of a video, a song, or a band from back in my teen years. I heard on the radio a couple of days ago that Canadian rockers Honeymoon Suite were playing close by this weekend.

For those unfamiliar, Honeymoon Suite are a melodic rock band from Niagara Falls, Canada. Back in the 80’s they achieved some great levels of success in Canada, but failed to capture a large audience elsewhere. It’s a shame too because they really had some great rock songs. I wonder that if because rock bands dominated the airwaves at the time if there were some that never achieved larger levels of success than they may have. No disrespect to Nickelback or to compare them to Honeymoon Suite, but take them for example just because they are also Canadian. If they were sent back in time to compete with all the other hard rock acts of the 80’s would they have been as successful? Maybe they would, maybe it would have been easier since rock was quick to be sent out on the airwaves at the time. Just some passing thoughts. What do you think?

Honeymoon Suite continues to tour and recently released their 7th album, Clifton Hill. I remember seeing them perform back in the height of their popularity and I wouldn’t mind checking them out tonight in a club type setting. But I have my babysitters confirmed for tomorrow night’s John Prine show, so I will have to sit this one out.

Below is a song that they recorded for the Lethal Weapon soundtrack in 1987. I thought this one may have been a bigger hit than it was being it was part of a blockbuster movie. I don’t think the song, also titled Lethal Weapon, got much airplay throughout the movie and it was only heard during the film’s closing credits. Someone correct me if I am wrong on that one.

Enjoy your weekend, summer is getting short!

John Prine

Although rock and roll remains my favorite genre of music in the many forms that it exists, I do enjoy stepping outside of this world from time to time in the form of a few artists that have caught my ear. One of those is country-folk singer and songwriter John Prine. This coming weekend I get the opportunity to see the legend perform in an intimate and small venue in what should be a great show.

I love any singer who can pick up an acoustic guitar and tell a story though song that draws you in hanging on to every word. There are several out there who can do this and Prine is one of the masters. Listening through the singer’s songs bring forth a range of emotions. One number may almost bring tears to your eyes with heart-breaking and sincere lyrics about the realities of human life and the next may bring forth laughter if it is one of his many funny and light hearted tunes.

When I mention John Prine to people I most often get one of two reactions. One – who’s John Prine? Two – I love John Prine!! I always wanted to see the performer in concert and I have been anticipating this upcoming show all summer. Some thoughts after the performance will follow next week. In the meantime, below is one of my favorite John Prine songs made more famous by Bonnie Raitt and covered by many, Angel from Montgomery. This is Raitt’s version, I’ll probably post something by Prine after the concert.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How about a taste of Chickenfoot?

I finally want to write a few words about the self-titled debut release of rock’s newest supergroup, Chickenfoot. I have been playing this one off and on for a few weeks and although I am not sure if I have listened to it thoroughly enough to give a detailed description and review, here are a few thoughts and impressions.

If you are unfamiliar, this band is comprised of vocalist Sammy Hagar of solo and Van Halen fame, base player Michael Anthony also of Van Halen, drummer Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and guitar legend Joe Satriani. An interesting mix of individuals, but all from solid hard rock backgrounds so it should be no great surprise what the this record sounds like.

This is a strong listen from start to finish with elements of all the musicians’ backgrounds shining through at times. It’s hard and at times bluesy rock with great guitar riffs from Satriani leading the way. You can also here Anthony’s district background vocals that were evident on many a great Van Halen track over the years. The comparison to Van Halen will be inevitable and at times it is similar. There are tracks that sound like they could come from a Van Halen album during Hagar’s tenure from the band. But over all it’s not a Van Halen sounding record and Chickenfoot offers their own style made up of the four talented individuals in this band.

One thing I have taken away from this album so far is a re-appreciation for Joe Satriani. As I listen to this CD, Satriani’s stamp is notably there. It wasn’t long after I started playing this one that I got the urge to blow the dust of Satriani’s 1987 release, Surfing with the Alien. It’s been years since I listened to this and after giving it a spin I think I have more appreciation for it now than I did in ‘87. It is an innovative and fun record and Satriani is truly a master of his craft.

I hope to give Chickenfoot a few more good listens. Some of the of my favorite tracks so far are the bluesy but fun Soap on a Roap, the slower Learning to Fall, another hard hitting track with a bluesy riff Turning Left and a very fun song titled Sexy Little Thing.

I’ll end off with a blast from the past as I have been having fun doing lately. Below is the audio of Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien. Have a great weekend!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Flight 666 now boarding!

Well I finally watched Flight 666, the recent Iron Maiden documentary over this weekend. First of all, this is not a ground breaking documentary, but I cannot really say anything negative about it. I am, as I have stated before on this blog, a huge Iron Maiden fan, and this movie should be very enjoyable for the hardcore enthusiast, casual listener or new fan.

It is an all access pass to their unique and ambitious Somewhere Back in Time tour in 2008. The film documents the first leg of this tour in which the band plays 23 shows in 11 different countries over 45 days. What made this possible is a Boeing 757 airplane, appropriately titled Ed Force One, which transported the band, crew and all of the gear required to put off their massive stage show from destination to destination. And the captain of Ed force One was no other the Iron Maiden vocalist and pilot, Bruce Dickenson.

The movie has some fantastic live footage. It shows the band in their travels, bonding with fans and in their off days doing such activities as taking in a round of golf or playing tennis with a former Wimbledon champion. But what I really like about this movie is it served as a reminder of why I love this band and why they are such a treasure.

One of my favorite lines in the movie is “Iron Maiden never cared about being relevant, which is what makes them so relevant”. So true. Here is a band that rose from an era which metal reigned supreme and even dominated mainstream radio. However, Iron Maiden didn’t score top 40 hits like the many successful bands of the time. They did not bend to commercialism and chose not to write the perfect radio rock song or ballad. Yet they found a huge audience and one of the most enthusiastic fan bases ever, as also documented in this film. What is also worth noting is the appeal of Iron Maiden continues to grow. A very large part of their audience is just as young as they ever were.

The fans that embrace Maiden are a big part of this film. Many scenes at the airports show thousands of adoring and over excited fans trying to get a glimpse of their heroes as they chant loudly...Maiden...Maiden...Maiden! Picture a bunch of teens trying to get a glimpse of the Jonas Brothers and it’s not much different except for the makeup of the audience. Some are actually brought to tears after the concert comes to a close. Perhaps the most humorous part of the film is “Father Iron Maiden”, a man who runs a church and bases his sermons on Iron Maiden lyrics. Oh yeah, and he has over 150 Iron Maiden tattoos. He says he is the world’s biggest Iron Maiden fan and we may have to let him have that title.

I love Iron Maiden’s musicianship, lyrics and energy and this movie captures it all. It is also a rare look into life behind the scenes of an Iron Maiden tour and into the personalities that make up the band and crew. Again, there are no edge of your seat or “OMG moments” in this documentary. It’s just a very cool movie about a very cool band! And there is nothing wrong with that. The movie also comes with a second disc that is a complete Iron Maiden concert. This rocks in itself - turn it up and enjoy!

If only on my next vacation I could fly via Ed Force One!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Some Great Rock Docs Lately

Opening today in some theatres is the awesome looking documentary It Might Get Loud featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White, and the love of their craft, the guitar. I can’t wait to see these three unique talents come together in this film. I have watched the trailer for it several times, but I unfortunately won’t be one those taking it in over the next few days. If anyone out there does I would love to hear your thoughts. Can’t wait to see this movie!

Speaking of music related documentaries; here are a couple of others I am anticipating as well. I still haven’t got around to watching Flight 666, the movie that documents Iron Maiden’s ambitious Somewhere Back in Time tour in 2008. Bruce Dickenson, the multi-talented vocalist, is a licensed pilot and flew the band from destination to destination on this stretch. I really must go out and purchase this one because Iron Maiden is one of my all time favorite acts and I can’t believe I haven’t seen this already.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil trailer

Another fantastic looking film is Anvil! The Story of Anvil. This Canadian band often gets credit for influencing many well known metal acts such as Metallica and Anthrax. However, Anvil themselves never managed to achieve levels of success even comparable to many of the metal acts to come out of their generation. Despite of this they have stayed together and continued to tour and record and follow their dreams for over 20 years. The movie has received a tremendous amount of critical acclaim, even from one of the most well known documentary film makers in recent years, Michael Moore. The movie is billed as a story of human spirit, endurance and following your dreams. Check out the trailer above if you haven't heard of this. It really looks like a fantastic story and of these three wonderful looking documentaries, it is the one I am looking forward to the most.

If anyone has seen either of these movies let me know. As soon as I see either of them I will no doubt be discussing them here. In honor of Anvil, I’ll end the week with a blast from the past. Back in the 80’s the video below did get some air play on Muchmusic in Canada. It’s a typical 80’s music video, quite entertaining. Come to think of it, I think I am going to try and get my hands on Anvil’s newest release and have a listen too.

Have a great weekend. I’ll be continuing to spin Chickenfoot’s debut recording over the next couple of days and hopefully finally get a posting up on it next week. Cheers!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Finding Common Ground

Has anyone seen this one? I heard Def Leppard were doing the CMT program Crossroads and made a point to tune in and check it out. So what do you think of this? A quick search on the Internet and plenty of criticism can be from people accusing Def Leppard of simply looking for exposure by sponging off a new top selling young artist of today.

A little harsh I think. I think it’s good fun. It’s the first time I sat and watched the program Crossroads in its entirety. The Def Leppard songs sound great and I enjoyed watching the boys play and sing along with Taylor Swift’s numbers too. Everyone genuinely looked like they were having fun on stage and the merger really worked.

I was aware of the show Crossroads before now and some of the acts that have played together. But I wasn’t aware of the extensive list of acts to have performed on this program since 2002 until I looked it up on Wikipedia. Like MTV’s Unplugged, this is a neat idea for a show and one I should really tune into more often.

I am not really a big county music fan apart from a few artists so I really don’t follow what’s happening on CMT, but I think I will check their schedule for Crossroads more often. Who from the world of rock would you like to see make an appearance on this show, if anyone at all? The first person that comes to mind for me is Bruce Springsteen. How about push it a little more? Bring in a band like KISS, Aerosmith or The Who. Just a few quick names popping into my mind as I type.

So what are your thoughts on CMT’s Crossroads? Here's Def Leppard and Taylor Swift performing Photograph. Have a good one!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Let's try some movies.

I haven’t really tried reviewing many movies on here before, unless they have been music related. But in an effort to attempt to branch out just a little from time to time, here are some very quick reviews of four of the movies I have watched over the summer so far, all at home on DVD or Blu Ray. I have even attempted an “out of 5 stars” rating. Later in the week I hope to get back to the music and review the self-titled debut of rock’s newest supergroup, Chickenfoot. In any event, here it goes:


A science fiction action movie about a group of people with extraordinary powers. Some are ordinary folks attempting to live their own lives and the others work for “division”. And the power struggle ensues. Does it sound cheesy? It is. I was hoping for a fun mindless escape with this one. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this movie. For some reason the more the movie progressed the more annoyed I became with it. Dakota Fanning is another actor we’ve watched grow up on screen. She is good in the film and has one short scene where she is drunk, it’s quite humorous. Other than that, not much worked for me here. 2 stars out of 5.

Revolutionary Road

This one didn’t work for me either. Although I have to admit it, the performances were great. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winselt are both great in this film, better than they were in Titanic. You can really sense the distain this couple develops for each other. The movie being set in the fifties really works too. The couple’s situation and plans really goes again social norms of the day. Wait a minute, didn’t I start by saying I didn’t like this movie? Although I can appreciate the performances and concept, by the end of this one I was getting bored with the main characters constant bickering and fighting with each other. 2.5 stars out of 5.

Grand Torino

Awesome!! Clint Eastwood proves that at over 70 years old he is one of the best in the business. Again, just as he did with Million Dollar Baby, Eastwood writes, directs and stars in this fantastic film. This one is actually my favorite of these two wonderful movies. Grand Torino is the story of an old school, prejudice widower, played by Eastwood and the relationship he develops with the foreign family next door in a troubled and ganged filled neighborhood. Eastwood is fantastic as is the supporting cast. This movie doesn’t follow clichés and is a great all round if you love good drama. 4.5 stars out of 5.


Coraline is a wonderful , innovative and at times creepy animated feature. It tells the story of a young girl, voiced by Dakota Fanning, who is somewhat bored in her surroundings and of her parents’ obsession with their work. While exploring she discovers an entrance that leads her to her another world where everything is fun, including her parents. Apart from their personalities, the other major difference in this world is everyone has buttons for eyes. It sounds silly as I type it, but it works. Of course the conflict ensues when the “other” parents want to keep Coraline and replace her real eyes with buttons. I watched this one on Blu Ray and in 3D and it was visually stunning as well. This was my first time watching 3D at home and I was impressed. 4 stars out of 5.

As always – send along your thoughts or recommendations. Back later this week!

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Couple Blasts from the Past

I thought I would end off the week with a couple obscure blasts from the past. I’d be curious to hear is anyone heard of or remembers either of these. First up, some classic sounding 80's metal in the form of Canada's Killer Dwarfs. This band achieved some moderate levels of success, but never reached the heights of a lot of the metal bands back in the day when this type of music dominated. A quick Youtube search and you will find live footage of this band performing in the new millennium. They sound great and the singer (Russ Dwarf) still does the hand stands as he does here. I love his over emphasized facial expressions as he is trapped inside the crate in this video.

Our second selection is classic 80's sounding pop music. I used to have three 80's pop songs that would get forever stuck in my head. They were Nick Kershaw's Wouldn't it be Good, John Waite's Missing You and this one, the lesser known of the three from another Canadian, Jim Foster. It was years after the 80's had long since passed us by when for no apparent reason this song, X-Ray Eyes, would re-surface in my memory and I could spend all day humming the chorus. What made it so frustrating is I had no memory of who sang this song and could find no one who could even remember the tune, let along the singer. Thankfully because of the evolution of the Internet, I solved this mystery. It felt like some sort of ritual or exorcism that puts a restless soul at peace. I don't think the song ever popped up in my head again. A Google search on Jim Foster will also reveal what he has been up to since the 80’s; he is still active in the music business. Like the video above, I love his exaggerated facial expressions. Classic 80's. Enjoy!

X-ray Eyes / Jim Foster

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I Blog Therefore I Blog

Hey there! I want to take a few moments to give a shout out to all the excellent blogs to the right that I enjoy and visit frequently. They are all unique in their own right, but all offer excellent reading and an obvious passion for what it is they are writing about.

Last year when I was frequently updating this blog I was also frequently leaving comments on many of the blogs I have listed. Then, I disappeared, or so it would seem. “Real life”, if you will, was getting in the way of this online hobby I developed. Truth be known, although I stopped blogging myself and taking the time to write comments on others, I still read and perused them frequently.

But I learned a valuable lesson this last year, and that is to make time to for your own hobbies. In every week and month that passed, I wanted to start blogging and communicating to you and others again. I love how technology permits us to keep this global community that allows you to share your passions with others of similar interests, be it music, movies, sports, politics or some unique and unusual collection of something obscure.

Back in the care free days of high school I would spend hours on end talking about things that mattered to me and my friends at the time. Such as, who’s better - Sammy Haggar of David Lee Roth? Now, that “real life thing” again gets in the way of spending time in such a way. And I am not knocking real life, in fact I love it. But thanks to the Internet I can enjoy the “best of both worlds”, to quote Van Halen!

So blog on bloggers, or leave a comment if you are just a reader. Whatever, it is good to share my thoughts with you. And although I have many excellent blogs listed to the right, I am sure there are many out there I am yet to discover. So please feel free to suggest others, I would love to hear about them!

Have a good one and as always – rock on!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rock of Ageless

I had planned on posting a few quick movie reviews on some of my summer viewings this morning, but that will have to wait until later in the week. I wanted to get down some thoughts on an absolutely wonderful documentary I watched over the weekend called Young at Heart.

This movie follows the events surrounding a choir that performs a variety of rock and roll songs. You’ll hear selections from James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Cold Play and Sonic Youth, to name a few. What makes this choir so unique however, is that their average age is over 80.

I can’t tell you how much affection I had for these people as I watched their challenges and successes. In a day where the world seems obsessed with youth this was a treat. I hate to sound cliché, but while watching this movie you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, etc. etc. It sure has those moments where you can’t help but laugh with these people and there is more than one somber and heartbreaking moment throughout the film as well.

I admit it - I sometimes struggle with the concept of aging. On one hand I consider myself a professional, responsible family man and I relish ever second of it. But on the other hand I don’t want to let go of some of those special hobbies that made youth so magical, such as, raving or ranting over a new recording from some loud and noisy rock and roll band. And you shouldn’t have to. Part of the reason why I enjoy blogging some much is it allows me an avenue to keep that hobby burning and to share it with many others around the world with the same affections.

In this movie there is a group of seniors who take it even a step further. They put themselves out there, on stage, and enjoy life doing something they are passionate about in some cases up until their last moments. So I’d say here’s to those that continue to rock on into their senior years! Clint Eastwood – some of the best work in his career at over 70. Brian Johnson - currently rocking as the oldest member of ACDC on the Black Ice tour at 61. Chris Chelios – playing in the NHL in his late 40's. And of course there are many other examples. And finally to the seniors in this movie and the many youth who are just starting and will hopefully entertain generations into their golden years too!

Rock on!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Anyone remember this one?

Alright, one more before the weekend starts. Last week this time I was heading off to my 20 year high school reunion. In honor of that event, the song in the video below was our grad theme song. Sounds very cheesy now, but I am so gald we went with it!! It is also a tribute to the late front man of Quiet Riot, Kevin Dubrow.

Twitter me this Twitter me that

I Tweet, but I am not sure why. But I do. Feel free to follow me if you wish:


More to come next week. Have a great weekend everyone!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Tragically Hip

Simply put, The Tragically Hip is one of my all time favorite bands. The Hip, along with Iron Maiden, are two bands that I can spin any of their recordings from start to finish and thoroughly enjoy all the way through. The Hip’s latest offering, We Are The Same, represents somewhat of a different direction, but fully delivers.

In the early days, The Hip recorded and become known for some signature songs that are now definitive Canadian classic rock. Songs such as New Orleans is Sinking, Blow at High Dow and Little Bones are just a few of their hard hitting ageless classics. But over the years they have given us their share of semi-mellow to mellow tunes as well. Songs like Bobcaygeon, The Dire Wolf, The Emperor Penguin and Wheat Kings are some of my favorites. The newest disc, apart from a couple of songs, offers us a full package of mid tempo tracks and it is unquestionably one of my favorite recordings of the year.

As much as I love The Hip up until recently I have only attended one of their concerts which was about 15 years ago. And to be perfectly honest, it was far from being even close to the top of the list of my favorite shows. I have written about it in an earlier post. However, a couple of months ago I finally got around to seeing this band again and had a total opposite experience. This most recent concert experience gets placed very close to the top of my all time favorites.

The concert was billed as an Evening with The Tragically Hip. There was no opening act, the band played two complete sets and close to 30 songs in total were delivered that night. It didn’t hurt that I had great seats for this show, actually, the best seats I ever had for a concert. Much better compared to the first time around when I was in the back of an arena for a standing room only concert.

The Hip never seem to follow norms and they mix up their set list from night to night. So despite my attempts to snoop around on the Internet the evening still had plenty of surprises. The band started with my favorite track from the new CD, and what might be considered an odd choice for an opening number. The song, The Depression Suite, is actually three songs crammed into one epic 9 to 10 minute mid-tempo track. From there the band played a mixture of old classics, songs from their CDs in recent years, plenty from their new disc and a short three song acoustic set. Everything went over well with the enthusiastic crowd. They sounded great and lead singer Gordon Downie certainly captured everyone’s attention and imagination.

It certainly says a lot for a band and the affection it has garnered with its fans when it can play more than half of the contents of a brand new recording and it is embraced almost as well as the classics in a concert. Looking around the arena there were no droves of people heading to the bathroom when a new song was played as often typically happens at a concert from a band that has been around for a while. It was clear that everyone wanted to embrace every moment of this show.

To conclude with a couple of ratings, Tragically Hip’s newest CD, We Are The Same gets an A+ from me and the concert gets the same.

If you are from the U.S. or another part of the world and are not overly familiar with the Hip I’d be happy to suggestsome songs to get you started. I understand in some parts they have a great following, but in more areas they are not well known. Here in Canada they have reached legendary status over their 20 plus years in the business.

Have a good one!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Long live the 80's...sort of!

I had the privilege this last weekend to attend my 20 year high school reunion. We were fortunate enough to graduate during the last year of an unforgettable (or maybe forgettable) decade. Actually, I loved the 80’s - the wild and crazy fashion, the tunes, the times, etc. etc. Ironically, while attending my Class of ’89 reunion, I did, perhaps for the first time in my life, gain some appreciation for dance music.

I was a rocker in the 80’s. I loved the hair bands and admittedly still do. It was a pleasure to be enjoying some refreshments in a bar with all of the old tunes playing in the background - Twisted Sister, Poison, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Canadians Honeymoon Suite and Platinum Blonde. However, as the night progressed and more alcohol was consumed people naturally got the urge to dance. Surprisingly, I was one of the many ready to take to the dance floor. Not that any of us would make Solid Gold dancers (how’s that for an 80’s reference), but there was a noted awkwardness when trying to work the floor to We’re Not Going To Take It.

Later in the evening, someone decided to take action and switched the music. The last hour of so of the evening consisted of a bunch of late 30-somethings dancing around to "Ma-ma-ma My Poker Face" and other more modern dance tracks. And for someone who have always proclaimed to dislike this type of music…I admit it…it was great fun!

I don’t ever see me making of mix of it to play in my i-pod, but the next time alcohol tricks me into thinking I can dance, I will likely welcome the more modern tunes a little easier.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Remember me???

“Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?”

The heart of rock and roll is still beating......

A little over a year ago I was updating this blog 4 to 7 times a week!! A pace I could certainly not keep up once the realities of summer vacation ending came all too soon. At that time it seemed I went from calm waters to a category 5 hurricane - life sure got busy. I announced a brief hiatus and over a year has now passed.

I was very happy to have found an audience and people were reading, leaving comments and sending me emails. This blog quickly became my favourite pass time. I suspect many of my regulars have stopped checking to see if I have returned, but here I am. I'll have to crank the amps to 11 and see if I can get anyone to listen (read) again.

I may take somewhat of a different approach to the blog this time. I will attempt to update a couple of times a week, not daily. Also, I may stray from chatting exclusively about music and allow myself to talk about other things as well. I am not sure what shape this blog will take this time round – stay tuned. But fear not music lovers – if I am writing about anything, chances are rock and roll will always be a focus.

So just Aerosmith did so well in the 80's - my attempted comeback begins. Hmmmm.....what are some other of rock's greatest comebacks? I smell another top 10 list coming.

So.....holler if you hear me!!!!

Back soon!