Saturday, March 31, 2012

The night Mick and Keith met their Maker!

Every time I listen to Muddy Waters, I feel like I could throw the rest of my entire music collection out the window and be perfectly happy listening to only Muddy for the rest of my life. Muddy is not just the best and my personal favorite blues artist; his stuff seems so much more then that. Listening to Muddy Waters is like taking a masters course in life. You feel completely awake, satisfied, and full every time you listen to even one track. Only Hank Williams Sr. and Bob Dylan come close for me in that regard.

Sadly, Muddy only seemed to get the recognition he so greatly deserved later in his life. He not only transformed and popularized electric blues, but he was one of the architects of Rock and Roll. Just ask The Rolling Stones....who named their band after one of Muddy's classics.

Below I present you two classics collections of clips of the man in action! The first is from an infamous night at Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge in 1981 where, in the middle of Muddy's set, the Stones crashed the party and jammed with the legend on 5 tracks. Is it the best performances of any of these songs? Hell no! But it's must see stuff for historical value alone.

The second playlist is from a perfectly captured performance of Muddy with the amazing Otis Span (piano) from the Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 1968. These clips may seriously be the greatest thing on the Internet!

Crank it up and enjoy the Master at work!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

R.I.P. Earl Scruggs

The Jimi Hendrix of the banjo; Earl Scruggs passed away yesterday at the age of 88 years old. It took me almost 40 years to fully appreciate the joy that is Bluegrass music, but Earl Scruggs was one of the pivotal figures that helped me see the light.

In his honor, enjoy this truly marvelous 1972 documentary made about Earl and his family. Musicians like Earl Scruggs only come along once in a lifetime.....may his joyful noise continue to influence musicians for generations to come!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Song for a Sunday.....

This wonderful new album by Andrew Bird ("Break it Yourself") is certainly getting a ton of play time in this house and will easily be one of my favorites of 2012. On this fine Sunday morning, this track sounded particularly good.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wrecking Ball

Bruce Springsteen has writen some of the best lyrics of anyone in rock, so one could excuse him for writing some clunkers in the past few years. But on his stunner of a new album, Bruce reaches lyrical heights that astound even this longtime fan.

One of my favorites is the third verse of the title track; "Wrecking Ball". The song was inspired a couple years ago when the city of N.J. tore down the classic Meadowlands Stadium. Leave it to Bruce to take that seemingly insignificant event and write a truly poignant anthem about aging and coming to terms with it.

"Now when all this steel and these stories, they drift away to rust
And all our youth and beauty, it's been given to the dust
When the game has been decided and we're burning down the clock
And all our little victories and glories, have turned into parking lots
When your best hopes and desires are scattered through the wind
And hard times come, and hard times go
And hard times come, and hard times go
And hard times come, and hard times go
And hard times come, and hard times go
And hard times come, and hard times go
Yeah just to come again
Bring on your wrecking ball!"

The power of rock and roll on full display, yet again......

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Career Opportunities

I would like to preface this post by saying how blessed that in the current economic environment, I HAVE a job. Unemployment is one of my biggest fears in life; not just financially, but because work is where we get a huge portion of our sense of purpose. But Good Grief, staying positive while working in current Corporate America is tough sometimes (for various boring reasons).

NOTE: I did not write this post at work!

I was brought up to work and work hard, but thought work was just a place to go for 8 hours and earn a paycheck. The concept of actually "liking" your job is so foreign to me. I think the people who actually do what they WANT to do and enjoy it are the luckiest people on the planet. The older I get, the more I think about this concept. How much is a paycheck really worth? In the 50+ hours a week that I work, do I provide and bring something useful good into the world? Again, with the recent struggles in the economy, I realize these thoughts are a luxury I am blessed to be able to have. It's just lately I am realizing that liking what you do for a living and having inner balance and happiness in your life do go hand and hand.

So, for all those out there having issues finding, keeping, or even loving your jobs, I hope these songs can bring you some catharsis and temporary relief.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pete Townshend-Scoop

Well all know Pete Townshend is a genius, but here is more proof. As a lifelong fan of The Who, I have recently re-discovered the treasure trove that are Townshend's "Scoop" releases. Currently totally four and counting, "Scoop" is a collection of Pete's solo work covering everything from Who demos to instrumental piano pieces. The albums also include liner notes written by Pete that explain each song in detail as well as the recording process used for them.

These releases are a must have for any fan of Pete's and in my book, are the most interesting collection of self-released material from any living popular musician. Listening to these, you get a much wider picture of Pete then what you thought you already knew. Almost like a window into Pete's soul, I only wish more artists would consider collections like these.

Below you can hear one of the most interesting selections in the collection. "Eminence Front" has long being one of my favorite songs, but this version from 2005 puts the song in a completely different light. I may even like it better then The Who's fiery take. Here are Pete's notes for this fascinating version:

"I was preparing at this time for a solo appearance at The Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York as part of a benefit by and for Paul Simon and his charity The Children's Health Fund on Sept 10 1995. Agreeing to appear, I picked up a guitar and realised that since the middle1992 I had probably spent more time home playing piano than guitar (I was recovering from a serious wrist accident and keyboard practice was more useful physiotherapy). So it seamed to me I should play piano in public for the first time. On this occasion the Wynton Marsalis orchestra, some of the best jazz musicians on the planet, were in attendance. I was nervous. But I did well. This demo was to help me get idea of how I might sound on the night."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

R.I.P. Robert Sherman

While this site tends to focus on honoring my heroes in the world of Rock music; today we must honor songwriter Robert Sherman, who passed away yesterday at the age of 89. Mr. Sherman was co-writer (with his brother Richard) of many of the classic Disney songs, including tunes from two of my personal favorite movies; "Mary Poppins" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".

Sherman's contribution to enriching the youth of countless children (mine included) cannot be overstated. On top of that, I would rank "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins as one of the greatest songs ever written.

Thanks for the memories Robert!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Golden Smog Remembered

"Supergroups" in rock and roll have been a spotty premise to say the least; take some famous musicians from already successful bands and put them together so they can make their own, unique artistic statement. Many have flat-out sucked (looking at you Asia, The Firm, Power Station, Mr. Big) or were at the least, huge disappointments (Blind Faith, Monsters of Folk, Travelling Wilburys).

But a select few have been really, really good (Cream, Temple of the Dog, CSNY, Broken Social Scene, Derek and the Dominos). Add to that list one part Wilco, one part Soul Asylum, and 2 parts Jayhawks, and you have the wonderful concoction that is/was Golden Smog. Having only released three albums in 20 years, Golden Smog is likely more a holiday for the guys then a true "Supergroup", but the results were great. Sounding like a perfect hybrid of all their other bands, the music sounded fresh and original as opposed to sounding like the discarded solo tracks that their other bandmates wouldn't play on.

I'm hoping we haven't heard the last of the venture but if we have, it sure was a fun diversion while it lasted. Enjoy this 1995 video of their killer Faces cover as well as their best original.