Sunday, August 29, 2010

Today is a Day for Frank Zappa (Age 22) on the Steve Allen Show from 1963

It just doesn't get much better than this. Here we find Frank in his TV debut only a short 2.5 years before the March 1966 sessions that would result in his first album entitled Freak Out.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Today is a Day for "Expo 86" by Wolf Parade (2010)

Sometimes it is the case that a band is better than the sum of its parts. For me, the band Wolf Parade is a clear example of this. I like Dan Boeckner's other band Handsome Furs pretty well. Likewise, Spencer Krug and his recordings with Sunset Rubdown are darn good. As well, I have fond memories for a couple of the Hot Hot Heat albums from earlier in the last decade and Dante DeCaro's guitar playing. But I like Wolf Parade better than these other bands. And I like the new Wolf Parade album Expo 86 a whole damn bunch. Though it came out in late June, it is only the last week or so that I have been listening to it on a regular basis.

I think it smooths out some of the raw edges (for better and for worse) of the band's first album (2005's Aplogies to the Queen Mary) and kicks out the jams as compared to 2008's At Mount Zoomer.

Listen for yourself, mofos:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tonight was a Night for Richard Thompson Shooting Out the Lights with Elvis Costello

If you want to know what my guitar playing sounds like today, take a listen to Thompson's two solos on this recent rendition of "Shoot Out the Lights."

RT with Elvis, December 2009:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tonight was a Night for Lou Reed Covering Kurt Weill & Bob Dylan ("September Song" and "Foot of Pride" edition)

Here we have Lou on the 1985-released tribute album Lost in the Stars: Music of Kurt Weill. This is the upbeat and rockin' version. [For the multi-artist Weill biopic soundtrack album from 1997 entitled September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill, Lou rerecorded the same song, but that recording is a more low-key affair.]

Here is Lou from the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration. [Has it really been almost 18 (October, 1992) years since that pay-per-view broadcast and subsequent (in 1993) album/video release? I chipped in at a viewing party in a friend's Austin, TX house. Good times.] Anyway, here is Lou from that night:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tonight is a Night for Tom Waits Covering the Ramones ("The Return of Jackie and Judy" edition)

or here:

Track #15 on the almost completely atrocious release from 2003: We're a Happy Family: A Tribute to the Ramones. [The other songs on this are awful, just awful. This is perhaps the worst tribute album ever recorded. A great Tom Waits cover and 16 other horrible tracks. U2? Late-period Metallica? Rob Zombie? The Offspring? Green Day? Peter Yorn? Kiss? Give me a break. Tom Waits and the Ramones are easily better than all of the other bands/musicians on this album combined. Bono singing "Beat on the Brat" is f&%$ing atrocious. Seriously, this might be the worst tribute album ever made. Can anyone name one that is worse?]

The song was also released as track #12 on Disc 1 of the 2006 Tom Waits rarities boxset entitled Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards. If you don't have this 56-song set in some format, your life is incomplete, mofo.

Today is a Day for Janelle Monáe's new "Cold War" Video

The simple and stunning new video for "Cold War" off of Janelle Monáe's stellar 2010 release The ArchAndroid:

I have had a half-finished review of the album sitting around for nearly 3 months now. I'll post it soon and I am sure the album will be near the top of my year-end "Best Albums of the Year" list. So, in sum, you are guaranteed at least 2 more postings about her before the end of 2010...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Today was a Day for "Live MCMXCIII" by the Velvet Underground (1993)

I hadn't listened to Live MCMXCIII, the VU "reunion" 2.5 hour-long double-album from 1993, in a fair bit of time. It is quite the fun listen. Suprisingly so. It isn't where you would want to start with the band, but if you are familiar with the band and at least part of the VU story, it is a compelling listen. The double-CD set is a compilation of songs from a three-night series (mostly the second night) of reunion shows that the VU did at the L'Olympia Theater in Paris on June 15th, 16th, and 17th, 1993. These dates were part of a longer European tour that the reunited Reed, Cale, Tucker, and Morrison did during the summer of 1993.

I think wikipedia has the 1990s VU reunion timeline about right: In 1990, Reed and Cale released Songs for Drella, dedicated to the recently deceased Andy Warhol. (“Drella” was a nickname Warhol had been given, a combination of “Dracula” and “Cinderella”.) Though Morrison and Tucker had each worked with Reed and Cale since the V.U. broke up, Songs for Drella was the first time the pair had worked together in decades, and rumors of a reunion began to circulate, fueled by the one-off appearance by Reed, Cale, Morrison and Tucker to play "Heroin" as the encore to a brief Songs for Drella set in Jouy-en-Josas, France.

The Reed–Cale–Morrison–Tucker lineup officially reunited as "The Velvet Underground" in 1992, commencing activities with a European tour beginning in Edinburgh on June 1, 1993, and featuring a performance at Glastonbury which garnered an NME front cover. Cale sang most of the songs Nico had originally performed. The band's opening act was Luna. As well as headlining, the Velvets performed as supporting act for five dates of U2’s Zoo TV Tour.

Given the success of The Velvet Underground's European reunion tour, a series of US tour dates were proposed, as was an MTV Unplugged broadcast, and possibly even some new studio recordings. However, before any of this could come to fruition, Cale and Reed fell out again, breaking up the band once more.

On August 30, 1995, Sterling Morrison died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

I spent most of 1994 thinking that we were going to get a reasonable U.S. tour by the VU and would have done anything in my power to make it to one of those shows, but it was not to be. I have seen Lou several times, but I am still holding on hope for a Reed/Cale collaboration some time down the road...

The "first set" from Live MCMXCIII jumps across all different VU albums and settles into a nice groove on "All Tomorrow's Parties" and "Some Kind of Love." The "second set" starts with a shot across the bow in the form of "Hey Mr. Rain" and thrashes some more later on the disc on "Black Angel's Death Song" and "Heroin."

Listen for yourself at grooveshark, or find this for yourself online mofos...

disc 1:

disc 2:

P.S. Hey Lou, John, and Mo. How's it going? Not to rush you or anything, but could you maybe put out Vol. 2 of the VU bootleg series? Vol. 1 came out in 2001, and it would be great to have another release. Send me an e-mail and I'll make some suggestions on what should be remastered and released from the VU archives...