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

17Mar/080

The genius of Will Ferrell (with a good amount of help from Dave Grohl)

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I can always count on Heather Browne to start my Monday off with a smile via her I Am Fuel, You Are Friends blog.

This particular Monday was no exception. If you haven't seen Will Ferrell and Dave Grohl doing Leather and Lace as originally done by Don Henley and Stevie Nicks, you'll enjoy this.

Will Ferrell is so great with visual comedy - but if you're a fan, you already know that..

Visit Heather's blog to grab an MP3 of the performance from the video below.

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15Mar/080

Sheryl Crow plus Fleetwood Mac equals awesome

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According to Spinner.com, Sheryl Crow is set to "join" Fleetwood Mac for a collaboration, probably in 2009.

I'd like to see it - Sheryl and Stevie certainly have the chemistry, and it would be interesting to see how Sheryl would fit in to the overall Fleetwood Mac picture. From a songwriting standpoint, I think that Sheryl and Lindsey Buckingham could definitely do some cool things.

Reaction from Fleetwood Mac fans seems to be a split decision in the Spinner comments section....and I say bring it on! The live shows with a Sheryl Crow enhanced Fleetwood Mac would be great!

What do you think?

BTW - Lindsey Buckingham fans - take note, he's got a live CD/DVD that's about to drop a week from Tuesday. Captured live on the tour for the 2006 solo release Under The Skin, the package features a CD of the performance, recorded live in Fort Worth, TX in January 2007, and also a DVD of the show as well. In the setlist - Holiday Road......how awesome is that?

Pretty awesome in my book.

Lindsey Buckingham - Holiday Road (live in Milwaukee)

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13Mar/081

Festival Overload: When are there too many festivals?

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Everybody and their brother are in full swing, blogging the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival happening in Austin, TX. SXSW is an annual 10 day overdose of audio/visual paradise for movie and music fans.

For the past several years, I've had the goal to go to SXSW - heck, my aunt and uncle live in Austin, so finding a place to stay is certainly not an issue.

Each year that I am not at SXSW, I spend the entire timespan reading about what I'm missing. Those huge artists that are playing small venues that they would normally never play, delivering epic arena worthy setlists inside those small venues for the lucky few that are fortunate enough to be in Austin to be witnesses.

This year, I found myself wishing I was in Austin to see R.E.M. playing at Stubb's BBQ. It's the type of R.E.M. gig that 10 years ago, you woulda said "Naaaaaah, that would NEVER happen!" Now, with the combination of SXSW and a new album to support, anything is possible.

Now that I'm seeing the writeups and setlist reports, I'm kind of glad that I didn't go. A few years back, R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen on the same bill for the Vote For Change tour seemed like a dream show too - but a lackluster setlist from R.E.M. was a total downer so bad that not even a guest appearance from "The Boss" mid-set could salvage it. For the SXSW gig, all it took to erase my regret about not being in Austin were the words "hits were in short supply" as used in the Billboard review of the show.

All of that being said, I'm still looking forward to the new disc from R.E.M., and still hoping that it will be as good as Supernatural Superserious, the first track from the new album.

In a roundabout way, R.E.M. brings me to my overall reason for this post. When will there be too many festivals? How long before some of these festivals start tanking? After getting used to Bonnaroo, Virgin Festival (which I went to last year,) the reactivated Lollapalooza, and others, 2008 suddenly feels like the year that concert goers might finally say "enough!"

It feels like daily that we are reading about ANOTHER festival that will be making its inaugural run this year. And they all look like something that you would enjoy going to. Today's entry, the Pemberton Festival, found me on Mapquest to determine the driving distance between Cleveland, OH and Pemberton B.C. The prize for making the drive? Seeing Coldplay, Jay-Z, Nine Inch Nails, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, all in one gig. The cost: 39 hours of driving.

Okay, maybe not so fast on those plans to drive to Pemberton.

At this point, Lollapalooza is looking like a winner to me. I missed the past two years - 2006 because of work conflict, and 2007 because the idea of seeing The Police, Beastie Boys, Fountains of Wayne, and Cheap Trick (just to name a few) at Virgin Festival was too tempting to pass up. Now, with no sign yet of the Virgin Festival lineup, Lollapalooza is looking quite strong with rumors of Wilco, Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead on the same stage. Rage Against The Machine too? I guess that would be a good time to do some sight-seeing in Chicago.

It's great to have the opportunity to see The Police and so many other bands, for the same price that I paid to see JUST The Police here in Cleveland. Take your favorite band and insert them in place of The Police, and that is what I have come to look forward to with the rising popularity of festivals here in the U.S. I worry though that the festival formula is being spread too thin, and that attendance will suffer as a result, hurting festivals collectively. This year, it feels like the novelty is wearing off with the ability to catch Jack Johnson and Radiohead at several of the festivals that have already been announced. What once felt like a special experience, runs the risk of being cheapened and becoming merely another crappy multi-band show.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that. For now, Lollapalooza is winning in my world. The Rock on the Range show here in nearby Columbus, OH looks like it will get a repeat visit from me in 2008. Last year, ROTR delivered a day's worth of rock and roll music from many bands, including Velvet Revolver, Buckcherry, and an ace performance from ZZ Top. This year - two days worth of music, and all I really need is day one with the reunited Stone Temple Pilots, Filter, and Ashes Divide (featuring Billy Howerdel from A Perfect Circle.) And Virgin Festival? I'm still waiting....impress me!

I'll leave you with a random thought. Did you ever think that Metallica would play Bonnaroo?

Egad.

Stone Temple Pilots on Letterman (1993)

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9Mar/080

Song of the Moment – Yes – Love Will Find A Way

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The song Love Will Find A Way has been on my mind the past few days. No, not the Amy Grant song Find A Way from her Unguarded CD release, although that is definitely another favorite, and the one that introduced me to Amy's music, as it happens.

Amy Grant - Find A Way (live)

But that's not why we're here. We're here to talk about Love Will Find A Way by prog rockers Yes, from their 1987 Big Generator release.

Yes - Love Will Find A Way

I haven't seen this video in 20 years, and I still have the visual of the band standing around a fire playing music everytime I hear it. The song makes a connection, and you got the sense from seeing the video that the band might sit around the fire making music on a regular basis....at least I did. It wouldn't be until years later that I would find out how delicate the balance of Yes was. I had the opportunity to see the contracts and proposals that were drawn up, that ultimately were put on the table to make the Union album and tour happen. It was amazing stuff, that you would have to trot that kind of thing out to get a band like Yes to do something after so many years. But in the world of Yes, apparently that's just another day at the office!

Love Will Find A Way is a good example that I like to point to when talking about positive music from the days gone past. A song like this could really make you believe, draw you in, and implant itself in your world, becoming the musical soundtrack for things that were going on. It's probably no coincidence that former Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin does tons of soundtrack work these days.

The Rabin era of Yes is a polarizing subject among Yes fans. For me, the 90125 (1983) and Talk (1994) albums are two essential desert island discs that I would take with me if I was going on a trip to "Yes Island." 90125 hit the mark perfectly, and against all odds, they did it again with the same lineup a decade later. In a regrettable choice as a music fan, I missed the tour for Talk, and in doing so, my only chance to see the 90125 era lineup. Problem was that I wasn't nearly THAT big of a Yes fan at that point, and by the time they finally sucked me in in 1997, it was too late.

Yes - Walls (live on Letterman)

Love Will Find A Way was a track that I was surprised to find that I didn't have. I read a posting from someone online referencing the fact that it isn't on their greatest hits collections. I don't have Big Generator, so that's a problem. I believe that I might have the 45 somewhere in the massive collection that I plan to feature here soon, but that collection is massive, and disorganized at the moment. I found my way to the Amazon MP3 store, and now there it is, on my Ipod.

Love Will Find A Way, indeed.

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9Mar/080

Fun with Journey – Stone in Love and Ask The Lonely

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So you're a group of kids, and you've got a video camera, and some video editing skills. You're bored, so what should you do? Make parody videos for a couple of Journey songs, of course! I think the one for Stone In Love is the best of the two, but they're both fun!

Stone In Love

Ask The Lonely

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3Mar/080

RIP Jeff Healey

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I was saddened to hear that Jeff Healey passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Angel Eyes was the soundtrack for my first slow dance, and remains a favorite track of mine to this day. Healey was an artist that has been forever on my list of artists to further explore. As much of an "album" guy as I have always been, all I ever got around to, were the singles from Jeff. Now, I'm going to have to hunt down some of his catalog and do some long overdue catching up.

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2Mar/080

Maybe We Ain’t That Young Anymore – John Cusack and Better Off Dead

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Get the led out! That is all!

Savage Steve Holland's Better Off Dead is hands down one of my favorite movies from the 80s. The kind of movie that I've owned multiple copies of, in multiple formats - even working hard to track down the hard to find laserdisc version prior to the film's eventual DVD release a few years back.

So imagine my delight when I came in for a fill-in shift at the radio station, and discovered that I had passes to give away to a screening for Better Off Dead, happening at the Cedar Lee here in Cleveland, as part of their ongoing "cult film" series.

Plans were made, again with friend Rebecca, to go see this "must see" film, and we even managed to dig up former co-worker Sarah, who had unexplainably NEVER seen the film. I bought tickets in advance, preparing for the guaranteed sellout, and sure enough, when we got to the theater, it was packed for the first of two showings.

Now this is where I have a bit of regret - Big Head Todd and the Monsters were also in Cleveland at the House of Blues, and if I would have been thinking, I would have caught that show, and then hit up the midnight showing for Better Off Dead. But alas, I had already bought tickets for the 9:30 showing by the time I realized the conflict.

The Cedar Lee is not your traditional movie theater -they show a lot of indie films, with the occasional one that is quite popular (i.e. Juno) AND they also serve beer and wine for the patrons, which offers great possibilities for those that have always dreamed of getting their drink on while seeing their favorite flick. I think there were a number of those people in attendance Saturday night.

Now for the second point of regret - the Cedar Lee folks announce that due to a foul-up by DHL, the print for the film is being held hostage at one of their shipping centers in Michigan. Despite negotiations to try and pick up the print directly from the shipping center, they are denied on all requests, which surprises me, and gives me a bit of sudden dislike for DHL. As a result, they will be showing Better Off Dead from DVD source. Heck, I've got the DVD....I could be at Big Head Todd and the Monsters right now!

But hey, when is the last time you had an opportunity to see Better Off Dead on a big screen at all? That's what I was thinking, and you can't watch Better Off Dead and not enjoy it.

It's a real shame that Cusack holds such strong dislike for Better Off Dead and its "sorta" sequel One Crazy Summer, because they are really great and important films in his catalog in my opinion - right up there with High Fidelity in my book.

The DVD for Better Off Dead is bare bones, while the DVD for One Crazy Summer is well worth picking up - it has a great commentary track with Holland, "Bobcat" Goldthwait, and many of the other stars of the film, minus Cusack.

If you're curious what Holland and Dan Schneider (who played Ricky) have been up to since Better Off Dead, you can find a great interview from 2004 right here. Even better is the news that after years of relative inactivity, Holland is allegedly working on not one, but TWO comedy films, including one for National Lampoon.

'Bout time!

As for Better Off Dead, it was great to see it on the big screen. Had I been the Cedar Lee head cheese in charge, I would have tried to arrange a double screening of both BOD and One Crazy Summer, and get Savage Steve Holland in to host it - now THAT would have been huge! Kudos to them for screening Better Off Dead though - Upcoming screenings include Harold and Maude and Pee Wee's Big Adventure - check out the upcoming schedule here!

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2Mar/080

Shelby Lynne loves the analog

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Kudos to the fine folks over at The Vinyl District for this great reading from Shelby Lynne about her new album Just A Little Lovin'.

On a side note, she mentions legendary record producer Phil Ramone (Billy Joel, etc) within this article. If you haven't read Phil's great book Making Records yet, it is a must have!

"Hey why don't y'all come over and bring your computers and let's have a party"? Hell no! I say bring pot, wine and vinyl. That's sexy."

A Studer 2-inch tape machine is a huge cumbersome beast that takes up a lot of space and might need pampering and attention when you make records. It requires that you use big, heavy rolls of 2-inch tape that need changing when you record two or three songs on them. And hardly anyone produces or manufactures vinyl records anymore. And nobody has a turntable. But it's making a trendy comeback.

Just because something is easier doesn't make it better. It certainly doesn't make it sound better. I had a digital recording rig in my home studio for a month or two and got so depressed. I quit writing songs, my guitar collected dust and I thought my creative life had ended. So I jerked it all out of the wall and threw it in the garage and that's where it will stay.

My new album, "Just A Little Lovin'" was made on a 2-inch tape machine. I demanded it. I like working with engineers and producers who love and appreciate tape. I love the sound, smell, and feel of tape. That's why I enlisted legendary record producer, Phil Ramone, and the brilliant recording engineer, Al Schmitt. They didn't mind my insistence. They put up with my hardheadedness. Hardly anyone uses tape anymore because they claim it's so expensive and it's just easier to use a computer. Most engineers can operate any computer rig in studios these days. But if you ask them to run a Studer and put on a reel of tape, they run down the hallway screaming for Mommy. I'm sorry, but I can't get turned on looking at a computer screen. First of all, it's not more expensive. By the time digital users spend the time and money to buy the software needed to put that "tape sound" on their digital record, they have spent more time and money than I have. While their downloading "tape sound" software, I'm kicking back on the houseboat drinking beer with a fishing pole in my hand listening to Django.

It's not for everybody. Tapes are not perfect like digital. If you want to sing the word "love" 40 different times and 40 different ways, then digital's for you. Tape requires attention. You can't just push the space bar and go to lunch. For example: When I put on my vinyl (yes vinyl) of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," my favorite part is towards the end when you hear the "print through" of Robert's vocals. You know the part when he sings "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"? For years, before I made records I thought that what I was hearing was on there on purpose, for effect. But while making my new record the same thing happened. There is no reason, it's just a tape thing. Sometimes that happens. It's not as noticeable or as cool as Zeppelin but if you listen to my first track, "Just A Little Lovin'," towards the end you will hear my voice. I made a record with print through. Wow. Everybody wanted to fix it but I insisted on keeping it. This is a true testament to using tape. The "real" comes through. It makes me proud to be such a hard head.

I was born in '68. Mama and Daddy had albums. I grew up listening to their vinyl. I have discovered that having a vinyl collection is so much cooler than having an iPod. Now, I have an iPod and I admit they are genius especially for travel and convenience. But they aren't really any fun. I don't call up my friends and say "Hey why don't y'all come over and bring your computers and let's have a party"? Hell no! I say bring pot, wine and vinyl. That's sexy. It's really a great excuse to get together and listen to music. Everybody takes a turn looking through the collection and it's interesting to see what each person plays. The vinyl way is just me. I think if if we all listen to more music together, it really doesn't matter how we do it. Music will save us all just like it always has. We feed our souls with it. Vinyl just creates a little more discussion for us. You get to look at the covers, the liner notes, sometimes the lyrics are included. Plus you can roll a doobie on it. That's hard on an Ipod.

Times are tough. Concert tickets are high and records are, too. Hell, everything is high and nobody has any dough. With our economy and the way it's headed, my guess is that we'll all be staying home drinking bottles of Two Buck Chuck listening to music, however we choose to do it. Cheers, music lovin' fools!

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1Mar/080

U2 3-D: The Movie

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I finally saw U2 3-D last night. I've been dying to see it, and while I've been waiting for it to open in Cleveland, I've heard from every friend in every other city, many of them casual U2 fans at best, raving about it, telling me that I needed to go out and see it.

We've got an IMAX theater here in Cleveland, and I was pissed that they didn't book it, and got as far as looking for IMAX alternatives that were in driving distance. Not finding one (although I could have driven to Detroit,) I finally decided that the Cinemark theater that was showing it here, was as good as it was going to get. It was time to put aside my pickiness in regards to venue, and just enjoy a great movie. After all, the film wasn't shot for IMAX - I just thought it would be cool to see it in an IMAX theater.

I had deliberately not read up on the setlist in advance - I only knew that it was relatively short at under 90 minutes, and had a hits oriented setlist that reflected the shorter running time. Because I hadn't done my advance internet homework, it really was like going to a concert, with the anticipation and wonder of what was coming next. It's been long enough since the last tour, that I didn't have in my head what had been in the setlist for that tour. I was suddenly back in my early concert going days, before internet, where I was in the audience, in the dark as to what lay ahead in the setlist. I got two out of my three must hears - Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, and Miss Sarajevo, with Until The End of the World being the lone tune that was on the shelf, unheard at the end of the night.

Until The End of the World (live in Washington, D.C. 1992)

As they were coming back out for the "encore," I started thinking about all the songs from Achtung Baby that would be really cool in 3-D - hoping for Zoo Station, expecting that I would probably get Mysterious Ways instead, and in the end, settling for The Fly.

In summary, without giving anything away, U2 3-D is just as cool as you would expect it to be.

I'm driving home with my friend Rebecca who went to see the movie with me, and we're talking about additional songs that would have been cool. How amazing would Bad have been in 3-D?

I sat in the theater as the movie wrapped up also thinking that the next artist that I want to see a 3-D concert film from would be Peter Gabriel. Imagine if the US tour had been captured in 3-D? How cool would that opening number of Come Talk to Me be with Gabriel emerging from the phone booth, making his way towards you as he tugs on the phone cord? Gabriel's concerts and concert films are always visually amazing as it is, and I'd love to see that go to the next level with 3-D.

We also got to talking about how I am a different U2 fan now than I was when I was growing up. Now that I've got life experiences under my belt, there are U2 songs that resonate with me in a completely different way. At the time, I was just listening to them because they were good songs. Now, they speak to me lyrically and remind me of things in my past good and bad, and they draw my thoughts to a hopeful place as I look towards the future.

I'm thinking of my 10 favorite U2 songs, which is a hard choice.

(in no particular order)

1. With Or Without You
2. Where The Streets Have No Name
3. Bad
4. Until The End Of The World
5. All I Want Is You
6. Miss Sarajevo
7. Mysterious Ways
8. In God's Country
9. The Hands That Built America
10. Zoo Station

Miss Sarajevo

Bad (live at Live Aid 1985)

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