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!!