Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I've had a follow-up post brewing, because after I made my initial post regarding the new Counting Crows album Underwater Sunshine, I realized that I had some notes on the album by Adam Duritz in my email.
The band's gigs for April and May went on sale this morning with the majority selling out within an hour or less. To celebrate, they're now streaming six songs from Underwater Sunshine for your listening pleasure, although as you can imagine, the link appears to be hammered with traffic right now, so the streaming gratification might not be an instant thing.
The advance notes on Underwater Sunshine call it a "testament of a band geek-obsessed with music." Presumably, that's "geek obsessed" and not a description of Adam Duritz as a "band geek," although perhaps both can be applied.
Duritz says that “there’s a million great songs written every day that you discover, and wish your friends could appreciate as much as you do. These songs come from bands young and old, stretching from the early '60s to last year. They’re all great and will hopefully be heard by a few more people now.”
“If you wonder why we didn’t just write our own record, it’s simply because we wanted to do THIS one,” says Duritz, We now have the creative freedom to release albums like this and offer our fans more music than ever."
From what I've heard so far, it's a great listen and I can't wait to hear the rest. I'd love to see them play some of this material live, although I'm not sure that a road trip to Chicago is in the cards for me right now.
Hopefully the 2012 touring season will bring a future show date that's a little bit closer to the Cleveland zip code.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
How did you spend your Presidents Day holiday? Me? I was enjoying Saturday night's tour opening show by Van Halen, thanks to the immediacy of the internet.
Certainly with Youtube, it's no surprise to find video from the show you attended at [insert club here] on the morning after. For bands/artists with extremely passionate fanbases (think: Springsteen, U2, etc.), it's almost a given that you'll be able to find at least one audio download of the entire show - maybe multiple sources and eventually, probably video of that entire show as well.
[And from there, it gets crazy, because people start posting multi-camera shot versions, brought together using the various video sources of each show that circulate. Which is when people start to argue about which one is the "best" version. You know the drill.]
For a band like Van Halen, an event on the level of their highly anticipated tour opening show in Louisville, Ky. with David Lee Roth on the mic meant that taper fans were really on their game. Less than 12 hours after the show wrapped while some of the attendees were probably still sleeping, there was already a DVD of the show available.
By the time that I finished downloading it, someone had already posted a "better" version with upgraded audio. But I had already burned my copy, so it's not like I was going to be a snob and wait to download the upgraded version before I watched it? Who has that kind of patience?
Going into the tour, I was skeptical about whether or not it would be necessary for me to see this show, since I saw the previous 2007/2008 reunion tour with Roth three times. As I discussed with friends, it would come down to the setlist. The last tour featured quite a few "rarities," so how would Van Halen top that?
The answer, my friends, came in the form of a pair of tunes from Van Halen II, including "Women in Love" and "Outta Love Again," both MIA from Van Halen concert setlists since 1979 and 1980 respectively.
A circulating "master" setlist indicated that 1984's "Girl Gone Bad" was a future possibility.....and indeed, it made its first appearance last night in Detroit! (Although sadly for Detroit fans, the inclusion came at the expense of "Outta Love Again" which was lifted out with "Girl" taking its place.)
Length wise, the show clocks in 24 songs deep, about the same as most of the shows on their initial reunion tour. New material from the A Different Kind of Truth album and the added rarities mean that some of the songs featured on the last tour have taken a back seat. "I'm The One," "Atomic Punk," "So This Is Love," "Jamie's Cryin'" and "Little Dreamer" go on the shelf, at least for now.
If there's any further setlist variations throughout the tour, some variety and additional surprises would of course be very possible. The 2007 reunion tour notably featured nearly every song off of Van Halen except for "Feel Your Love Tonight" and "On Fire." So far, the current tour continues the embargo on those two songs....and when it comes to "Feel," what gives?
As my friend Matthew notes in his review of the Louisville gig, the choice of material from the new album could leave some of the diehard VH fans wanting more. There's sadly no "You and Your Blues," which is easily one of my favorite cuts from the new album. Ditto for "Blood and Fire," although the "master setlist" indicates that as an additional possibility. I'd also like to hear "As Is" and "Stay Frosty," which seems to be the sleeper cut making waves with fans ranging from me to Dave Grohl.
But the setlist that made it to our ears is a damn good one and you can enjoy some particularly nice video from the opening night at the bottom of this post, thanks to Randy.
The band is endorsing audio and video recording of the new tour and those same type of recordings proved to be a bit of a liability in 2007 when Eddie Van Halen was hitting his low points. Thankfully, the recordings today will act as an endorsement for why you should go out and see this band live.
Eddie looks great and healthy and he's playing like a motherf**ker, just like the old Eddie that we know and love so well. His one handed riffing on "She's The Woman" was paired with a smile that would remain plastered on his face for most of the night. He broke out the classic yellow and black "Frankenstein" guitar when they got to "Tattoo," the polarizing first single from the Truth album.
Although Michael Anthony is very much missed by this Van Halen fan in the lineup, Wolfgang Van Halen really has found his confidence on stage and the joyful interplay between EVH and son really is something to see.
Diamond Dave, what can ya say? He's still got plenty of Daveisms on tap, ready to dish out at a moment's notice. "Everybody Wants Some" brought the DLR quip "party here, party there....party f**kin' everywhere!" But the headset mic, Dave - lose the headset mic.
It might be a big pipe dream at this point, but a tour featuring Van Halen and Chickenfoot really would be the best of both worlds. If Dave and Sammy were able to (somewhat) pull it off solo, hopefully the two bands can find a way to share the stage someday.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I was excited when I recently learned that the Counting Crows had a new album on the schedule of upcoming releases. My excitement faded when I found out it was a covers record. But I always like to give an artist the benefit of the doubt, especially when it's a favorite like the Counting Crows.
Today, I had the opportunity to hear seven of the songs that will be featured on Underwater Sunshine (or what we did on our summer vacation), the upcoming album from the Crows which is set for release on April 10th.
I think fans are really going to love this album, because as I hit play, I had the thought that hadn't occurred to me previously, "self, you love listening to cover songs from Counting Crows." Shit. Why didn't I think of that before?
One of my favorite Crows covers from the past is their take on "Friend of the Devil" by fellow San Franscisco natives the Grateful Dead. Specifically, I love the version of it that they played live at the Warfield on 12/13/03.
The whole album (or at least the portion that I've heard) has the vibe of what I loved about their Warfield version of "Friend." It's clear that they are invested in the material that they've laid down, but it also doesn't feel overly polished. It has the feeling of a group of friends that got together for a day in the studio, to run through a set of some of their favorites, one take a piece, without going back to smooth out the occasional off moment that might have occurred in their mind.
Some of the material has vintage roots in the Crows history - most fans will probably recognize "Jumping Jesus" by Sordid Humor and "Four White Stallions" by Tender Mercies, two bands with close connections to the Counting Crows family tree. [Incidentally, Tender Mercies featured future Crows guitarist Dan Vickrey and his early work with Tender Mercies helped to put him on the Counting Crows radar and secure the gig. 20 years later Vickrey took care of some unfinished business and released a Tender Mercies album.]
None of it comes off as by the book, boring "anybody could have covered this" kind of material. Quite the opposite. Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, the band's most recent studio album released in 2008 found the band occupying two different sides of the fence. The "Saturday Night" portion was appropriately S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y, night loud, while the "Sunday Morning" side was indeed a perfect fit for a quiet contemplative Sunday morning listen.
The tour behind the album found the band focusing on the joy of collaboration, sharing the stage with Michael Franti & Spearhead and Augustana for a traveling experience called the Traveling Circus and Medicine Show. Eschewing the traditional individual sets, the combined touring package of band members instead spent the evening on stage together, playing each other's songs.
Underwater Sunshine makes a lot of sense as a transition point on the heels of that touring experience. Adam Duritz and crew reportedly recorded at least 20 songs for this album and it's one of those things that you hear it and think "man, I can't wait to hear where they're going to go next."
"Next" as in, "next album." I've been waiting for quite a while to see what their next move would be after Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings. Hearing Underwater Sunshine, I'm fairly confident that the "next" album will be a trip worth taking.
You can hear a sample of the album by dropping your email address in here to get a free download of "Mercy," the second of two Tender Mercies covers featured on the album.
The track listing for the whole thing is here and it looks like if you're lucky enough to be in San Francisco, you'll have the chance to see the band play a couple of special shows, including a date on March 9th at Slim's. Pre-sale information for the shows can be found here.
And if you're going to SXSW, the band will be playing a free show for BMI at Auditorium Shores on Friday, March 16th with Diamond Rug and Tender Mercies opening.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
So I'm sitting here tonight watching some live Dan Baird & Homemade Sin on DVD (Fresh Out Of Georgia..Live Like A Satellite for those of you who want to play along at home....although warning, the DVD is PAL format...universally compatible MP3 and CD versions are here.) and the desire to share some of the clips from that DVD on Facebook led me to these Youtube clips of Georgia Satellites performing live in 1988.
"Nights of Mystery" always jams and as my friend Jeff Giles said just a few minutes ago, "Dan Baird RULES."
So of course, I had to post the clips here for you guys to enjoy.
[Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, for the unfamiliar, features three former members of the Satellites lineup, Baird, drummer Mauro Magellan and bassist Keith Christopher, with Jason & The Scorchers guitar player Warner Hodges on guitar. Their album rules.]