Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

27Feb/082

Concert Envy – Clapton and Winwood in NYC

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I had plans to catch Steve Poltz at the Beachland last night, but the crummy weather here in Cleveland made me think good thoughts about being home safe instead.

The recap of the initial Clapton/Winwood summit at Madison Square Garden makes me wish that I was in NYC instead. Being in attendance for last summer's Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago was one of my all-time great rock and roll experiences. I had goosebumps at so many points throughout the day and night, but certainly hearing and seeing the two of them on stage for the first time on U.S. soil in so many years, singing Presence of the Lord, was unbelievable. At that moment, I forgot completely about any problems in my world, the pending drive back to Cleveland....none of it mattered!

It was one of the few shows that I've been to where for more than 12 hours, there was no room for bathroom breaks. Everyone from Johnny Winter to Vince Gill to Willie Nelson to B.B. King, to Steve and Eric, were amazing. And I can't even begin to describe the knockout punch that Jeff Beck delivered. I've always had an awareness for Beck, but haven't really explored his catalog as deeply as I should have. At Crossroads, Beck came out and delivered an hour long set that was mind blowing, and damn near threatened to upstage Clapton's set.

Luckily, Clapton had Winwood as his not so secret weapon on that evening, and even without Winwood, Clapton's current band, which features Derek Trucks and a host of others, are quite impressive, particularly Trucks, who is such an amazing young talent.

After being at Crossroads, and hearing that more Clapton/Winwood shows would be happening, I was excited to see what Clapton and Winwood would pull out for the MSG shows. The setlist from the opening show is anything but predictable, particularly on Clapton's end, I thought Forever Man was an interesting and welcome inclusion. I would have loved to see their version of Little Wing, and Tell The Truth continues to be a favorite of mine in recent Clapton setlists - it smoked at Crossroads!

Little Wing (from the opening Madison Square Garden show)

They are filming for what will probably be a DVD release at minimum, and I can't wait.

Meanwhile, Winwood heads out on the road this summer as the opener for Tom Petty, and will be supporting his new solo CD Nine Lives, which features an appearance by EC on the lead single Dirty City. Nine Lives hits stores on April 29th.

Dirty City preview

Winwood has moved away from a good amount of his 80s material in recent years, instead focusing on his 60s/70s output. For the Petty tour, I'd love to see him dig in deep for a hits heavy set - it would fit well with the night of music from Petty, and would go over huge with the Petty crowd. I have to admit though, that's a tough setlist to make when you are trying to fit all of those decades of music into an hour or so!

Roll with It (live in 1988)

As for Clapton, you know he's always up to something. Grab a copy of the Crossroads Festival 2007 DVD (and 2004 as well if you don't have it,) and that will likely give you plenty of EC until he makes his summer plans for 2008!

Tell The Truth (Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007)

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26Feb/080

LIVE: VAST at the Cleveland Agora 2-23-08

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Jon Crosby and VAST are a musical nut that I've tried to crack, yet haven't gotten into, up until now.

My friend Andrea had sent out a mass email musical plea for friends to come out and check out one of her favorite bands, the aforementioned VAST. Always up for a good musical challenge, I decided to come out and give it a listen.

I've given brief listen to the albums, and never heard that "one song" to reel me in. I always heard from many, the classic "you've got to see them live" line that is so often crap. Now that I've seen VAST, I can report that it is actually true, you've GOT to see this band live. There's a reason why Jon Crosby and VAST get a lot of hype and praise and continue to make albums. That reason, is because Jon Crosby knows how to deliver the goods.

Armed with an ace band that makes up VAST in the live setting, they delivered the message with vengeance and passion that was undeniable. The band Hurt comes to mind as a band that I have seen within the past couple of years, where the emotion in the performance comes off as forced. You can't believe or subscribe to what they're putting into their performance, because it doesn't feel REAL. I hate bands like that, where it smells like nothing but a sheer attempt for commercial success. Not to mention the amount of pretentiousness that comes with it. With VAST, you believe it, and find yourself trying to get inside of the scenarios that are being laid out in song. You want to know what it is all about, and the believability is absolutely there

As I would find out later, this tour was a first for VAST - the first tour that features a fully live show. Crosby has been touring with a band for several years now, but has been aided with tracks that augment the live performance. This headlining tour is the first tour where all of that is stripped away, and everything that you see and hear on stage is created in the live setting. Most of the band with the exception of the drummer, have been with Crosby for several years now, and I can see why he felt comfortable making the move away from the tracks. This band is fully capable of delivering a show without any additives. I was hooked in within the first song, and they kept me there for the duration of the show.

I went to this show not knowing any songs by VAST. My friend knew Free - I knew nothing, but dug Pretty When You Cry particularly, and overall came home with the knowledge that I need to beef up my VAST collection.

Here is the current list of VAST tour dates - do yourself a favor and check out the videos below, and check out a show. You'll dig it!

Pretty When You Cry

FREE

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19Feb/083

Gary Louris – Vagabonds

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The Jayhawks are a longtime favorite band of mine, and when the two principal 'Hawks, Gary Louris and Mark Olson came to a splitting point in the mid 90's, I wasn't sure how I would deal with an Olson-free Jayhawks. As it happened, the loss of Olson gave me a glimpse of how much I really enjoy Gary Louris' songs. The Louris led albums Sound of Lies and Rainy Day Music are two of my favorites in the overall catalog.

I was stoked a couple of years back to get the opportunity to catch one of the Louris/Olson reunion dates at The Ark in Ann Arbor, MI, and it stoked the flames of anticipation for myself and many for the album that they would eventually complete together.

For now, that album is in the can and on hold as both fulfill their promotional obligations behind their current activities. For Olson, that means promoting his highly acclaimed solo CD Salvation Blues, and for Gary Louris, that means promotion for his solo debut, Vagabonds, which I've been enjoying immensely for the past couple of weeks.

The album hits stores officially today, and one of the things I forgot is that it was produced by Black Crowes mainman Chris Robinson. There is a great interview with Louris that just hit the web that sheds a lot of light on the past events, the current solo effort, and what's next.

I think it is a natural progression for Louris following where he left off with Rainy Day Music, and at the same time, it's very much a solo effort that sounds comfortably different than what we have been used to from his Jayhawks output. For me, I think I find Louris embracing his inner Neil Young a bit more on this release compared to past releases with the Jayhawks.

I can't stop listening to this album - I listened to it four times in fact, in the first 24 hours that I had it. I can't recall the last time that an album got that much initial play in my player, right off the bat. Hear it for yourself - You can listen to the entire album right now on his Myspace page

Omaha Nights

Now if we can just get the planned CD release of Bunkhouse and that long awaited Jayhawks live album released, wouldn't it be great? You're damn right, it would!

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18Feb/080

Maybe We Ain’t That Young Anymore: Molly Ringwald

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There are some people that exist in a timeless holding pattern in your memories. Molly Ringwald is one of them. So I was naturally shell shocked to read that the greatest Ringwald I've never known is turning 40. I own all of her greatest films, I try and watch them regularly....how could this have happened?

Sigh.

It seems appropriate to pull out Molly by Sponge in tribute.

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18Feb/0829

The World’s Greatest Record Collection

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Sometimes you run across something like this Ebay posting, and even though you are very satisfied with where you are in life, an Ebay listing like this will make you wish that you had a spare 3 million dollars sitting around to spend.

The World's Greatest Record Collection

The gang over at the Steve Hoffman Forums are discussing this in depth.

I've got quite a collection myself, but seeing something like this makes my collection seem like music for a weekend trip by comparison. There are some hefty requirements, including for one, you have to have a pretty hefty amount of space - it is currently being stored in a 16,000 sq ft climate controlled warehouse.

Just looking at the above, I guess my house is out of the running. It's still fun to think about, though!

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17Feb/081

Albums Revisited – The B-52′s – Cosmic Thing

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The above live version of Dry County from the Cosmic Thing album is proof positive that you can find ANYTHING on Youtube. As I was about to begin this entry, I began to wonder if The B-52's had ever done Dry County live? Seeing this video on Youtube makes me grateful for Youtube, and at the same time, even more pissed at myself that I missed seeing the band at Public Hall on the Cosmic Thing tour.

B52s - Cosmic Thing

Cosmic Thing is both my favorite album from the band, as well as the album that introduced me to the world of The B-52's. Produced by red hot producers Nile Rodgers and Don Was, it was certainly their most accessible release at that point, and musically wasn't a hard sell to the average music fan. You couldn't turn on a radio in 1989/1990 without hearing the good time party in a box that was Love Shack, and good times were jam packed into radio favorite Roam as well.

That was Cosmic Thing in a nutshell - an audio invitation to the ultimate party of 1989 with The B-52's as your host. You had "the girls" with Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, that "weird guy" with the one of a kind Fred Schneider, and the rest of the band holding things together musically, keeping the party from "going out of bounds," to borrow a previous phrase from the B's. It was a musical knockout punch, and as I listen to the album today, it hasn't lost a step after all of these years. That's right, Cosmic Thing is nearly 20 years old. Will the B's do something special to recognize that upcoming anniversary? Who knows?

Dry County and Deadbeat Club to me, represent the musical version of driving with your friends on a Friday night - hell, whether you were a guy or girl, you all had that album growing up that you sung along with as you drove in the car, and with Cosmic Thing, it really felt like the band were singing along with you just as much as you were singing with them. I never was dancing in torn sheets in the rain, but as a guy, that's probably for the best.

Fred Schneider was at his quirky best on tracks like Channel Z (which I never quite found on my TV,) the title track, and of course Love Shack.

It's a shame that the band was really unable to capitalize on this album. Cindy Wilson retired from the road after this album, and the band didn't quite match the prior success with Good Stuff, although I personally thought it was a worthy followup. Critically, the overall consensus seemed to find the B's without Cindy Wilson lacking.

Wilson has been back with the band for several years now, and the band appear poised to unleash an album that is very much in the ballpark of Cosmic Thing, if the title track and first single Funplex is any indication. The new album is in stores in March, and if you haven't heard the single yet, it is worth a listen - this song and the new single from R.E.M. are my two favorite singles of the moment.

Cosmic Thing - Amazon MP3

Funplex (via Mixtape Maestro)

Junebug (live in Florida 2003)

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16Feb/080

Exploring the new business model of music with Big Head Todd & The Monsters

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I first heard Big Head Todd & The Monsters via their excellent 90s release Sister Sweetly, which is definitely in my short list of albums that are great from the first track to the last, and could be desert island discs for many. Problem is, that there are many that still haven't heard this great album.

Big Head Todd dropped off my radar for a few years, and reappeared a couple of years back via a Cleveland co-headlining date with Toad The Wet Sprocket. I was stoked to see Toad, and honestly being a few years removed from the Big Head Todd scene, didn't know what to expect.

Big Head Todd blew the doors off of Toad at that show, delivering a career encompassing set that had a nice healthy dosage of the essentials from Sister Sweetly, and wrapping up with a scorching cover of Clapton's Forever Man. You can get a good feel for the set that I saw by picking up Live At The Fillmore, an excellent double CD and DVD concert live release that came out in 2004.

These days, the band are among the bands that are exploring creative new ways to get their music out to the masses in these times of shrinking music sales. Late last year, the band offered a free copy of their brand new album All The Love You Need for anyone that wanted to sign up via their website. The band teamed with various radio stations in the United States to mail 500,000 copies of the album directly to listeners.

The giveaway continues with copies of the album recently included in Relix Magazine. The album is also available as either a free download, or in a cardboard sleeve for $5 via the band's website.

All of this promotion leads up to a physical release of the CD, which will be a Best Buy exclusive deluxe version initially with all sorts of cool extras.

I like that part of the reasoning for this is a desire to get more people to come out to the band's live shows. Steve Poltz is doing something similar, selling a companion disc to his latest album Traveling, which you can only get at his shows. And it's working, at least for me - I'll be at his Cleveland date in February to get my copy.

As for Big Head Todd, after signing up via the band's website in December, I got my copy of the CD in early January as promised, in my mailbox. The album is another solid addition to the Big Head Todd catalog, and highly recommended for Big Head Todd fans. The more I hear, the more I am convinced this band can do no wrong...but you're of course free to convince me otherwise!

Big Head Todd & The Monsters - Bittersweet (Cleveland 1993)

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15Feb/080

Then and Now – BOC – Cities on Flame!

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Check out a live version of Cities on Flame recorded live in 2003!

Download the full show on Dimeadozen right here.

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15Feb/080

Song of the Moment: Crowded House – Weather With You

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Since I just got done writing about my love for "love gone wrong" songs, it should be noted that I like my share of real live actual happy songs as well.

"Weather With You" by Crowded House is one of those songs. It's one of those songs that unless you're robotic and have no feelings, you hear it, and no matter what kind of day you're having, you feel better. At least I do.

That's no excuse for the fact that I didn't get a single Crowded House reunion date last year. Looks like I'm going to have to road trip it, if the band comes anywhere near the state of Ohio this year!

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15Feb/080

A heads up for Police fans

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A story, and then a heads up for you all. I was lucky enough to see The Police twice last year. Once here in Cleveland, and then again about a month later at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore.

Message In A Bottle (live in Rio)

For the show here in Cleveland, I paid top dollar for the 200 dollar seats, which is something I reserve these days for the absolute best of the best. As a music fan that missed seeing The Police back in the day (I was too young,) I had long ago written off the chance of ever seeing the band live. I had been lucky enough to see Sting solo a few years back, and got the chance to meet him before the show. That whole experience was worth its weight in gold, and Sting delivered a grade A+ performance that hit all the marks that I could have hoped for. It was as close as I was going to get to seeing The Police, and I was okay with it. I had finally seen a show via Sting that filled that gap in my concert going adventures.

Hence, I was totally stoked when the long rumored Police reunion tour took shape, and I took away a number of things from the show that I saw here in Cleveland. As much of a fan as I was, I had really never paid that much attention to Andy Summers as a guitar player. That was the shocker of it all - when I saw the Police show, I actually enjoyed watching Summers and Stewart Copeland more than I did Sting. Summers whipped off some wicked licks for a 64 year old guy, and if Copeland was in it for the check, well he certainly went for every dollar of that check very passionately on both performances that I saw. Copeland was an absolute monster behind the kit. My complete review of the gig can be found right here.

Over all, this reunion for me has had the impact that a Led Zeppelin reunion would have on many others. Just like the solo show that I saw from Sting, the tickets were pricey, but The Police delivered the goods.

The band is back on the road this year, and will be coming as close as Columbus and Detroit, and I'm leaning towards hitting up the Detroit date, because it would be pretty cool to see the band at the former Pine Knob (now DTE Energy Music Center.)

As gung ho as I am about seeing the band again, it seems that there are people that aren't making plans for a return Police visit. I read this with interest on the latest dispatch from Bob Lefsetz:

Hey Bob,

I was just going to trash this email having de-activated my Police.com account but I knew that the email I sent to them in response would not get a reply so I thought I would share it with you guys instead.

Millions of people like me joined ThePolice.com at a hundred bucks a pop to get the "best seats in the house" for their local Police reunion tour concerts. (The website was originally titled thepolicetour.com before they realized they’d have to change the name to keep raking in the cash after the band got off the road). The "limited edition" poster they sent out to everyone as gravy was an unremarkable shot of the band circa 1977, which fairminded folks put straight up on ebay to claw back a few dollars and a shred of their dignity.

But get this…in the email they sent me, they were informing that they were about to AUTOMATICALLY RE-CHARGE MY CREDIT CARD the $100 renewal for another year’s membership!

So here’s what I wrote in response:

Dear Thepolice.com,


I just received my membership renewal email. It is blatantly clear to me that you are attempting to automatically renew peoples’ accounts because you know that no-one in their right mind would fall for this scam twice, and you’re trying to dip your hand in our pockets one last time.


I joined your website to get GOOD seats to my local Police concert. I bought my tickets THE MINUTE they went on sale and the seats were half-way back in the arena. Surely, SURELY the fan club ticket allocation should have been, all things being equal, the best seats in the house. Of course, keep the front three rows of the arena for competition winners and the band’s family, friends and hangers-on, but beyond that, the people running these shows and this website should have made sure that the people who were big enough fans to drop $100 ON TOP OF the $225 tickets should be front and centre.


You have made millions of dollars with the scam of a website and I am delighted to finally be rid of you. I used to love The Police, but my memories of them will forever be tainted by this huge money-grabbing fiasco they have endorsed with their once-good name.


I don’t expect a response to this email as I suspect that right about now your mailbox is being flooded with emails just like this one.


Goodbye, and good riddance.

Luke

Ouch!

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