Archive for September, 2010

Bonus Video of the Week: Carlos Santana

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by 30daysout

Carlos Santana’s new album is Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time. It’s a collection of covers of some of the most famous and familiar rock songs of the past three decades, sung by a roster of guest vocalists.  The first few spins sounded pretty good to me, after that it got to be kinda “meh.”  Guests Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), Jakoby Shaddix (Papa Roach) and others take turns on songs like “Whole Lotta Love,” “Sunshine Of Your Love” and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

Here’s a promo video that gives you a flavor of what the album’s like:

Carlos Santana official website

Video of the Week: “Walk With Me,” Neil Young

Posted in News with tags , on September 26, 2010 by 30daysout

Neil Young’s new album is Le Noise, out this Tuesday.  Young and producer Daniel Lanois recorded the album in a Los Angeles mansion earlier this year.  The songs and the recording process have some of Neil’s usual weirdness: He only recorded on nights when there was a full moon and brought out his big white electric Gretsch guitar, which was used to record some of his most famous records in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Think Weld, and you pretty much have the approach you need for Le Noise.

Neil’s Garage – Neil Young official website

Stream the entire album courtesy of NPR

Live: Rush, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , , on September 26, 2010 by 30daysout

Rush onstage in Houston - our view from the hill

An alignment of the stars led to two tickets in our hands, to a Rush concert at Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.  I never have been a big fan of the Canadian prog-rock trio over the years, but I came away from Saturday evening’s performance with a respect for these great musicians and performers.

This is the band’s “Time Machine” tour with a handful of the band’s classic songs, a smattering of instrumentals, two new tunes from an upcoming album, and a complete performance of the three-decades-old Moving Pictures album.  Released in 1981, Moving Pictures was Rush’s most successful album, certified quadruple platinum with some of their best-known songs and radio favorites “Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight” and the Grammy-nominated instrumental “YYZ.”

But they kicked off the show Saturday (9/25) with “The Spirit Of Radio,” which found bassist/singer Geddy Lee vocally not quite on the mark.  By the middle of the second tune, “Time Stand Still,” though, he seemed fine.  The first set included the rarely-heard-live “Presto,” and one new song from the upcoming Clockwork Angels.  “BU2B” (shorthand for Brought Up To Believe) is a guitar-heavy rocker that almost sounds like 1970’s heavy metal but with some of Rush’s trademark deep questioning in the lyrics.  That segued nicely into the radio hit “Freewill” and the first set ended strong with “Marathon” and “Subdivisions,” Lee playing synthesizer and bass pretty much simultaneously.

The current single, "Caravan" b/w "BU2B"

These boys are supremely talented musicians, and the show was designed to spotlight each member’s distinctive talents.  Guitarist Alex Lifeson played acoustic and electric guitars and even broke out a lute for one song, Lee plucked through his share of bass solos (and even led the band on the funky instrumental “Leave That Thing Alone”) but the most astounding spotlight was on drummer Peart.  Seated behind his massive drum kit (“The roadies must hate putting that together every night,” observed my son), Peart began his solo like all others, tapping out some polyrhythms while his bandmates took a smoke break.  But after a few minutes his drum riser spun around, and he launched into an exploration of rhythm on some electronic drums and finally it wound up with a jazzy big-band swing tune, complete with synthesized brass.

Lifeson took a spotlight on a 12-string guitar and his strumming introduced “Closer To The Heart,” another favorite, and finally the whole shebang wound up with a couple instrumentals from 2112, “Overture” and – in the encore – “La Villa Strangiato.”  To wrap the encore, Lee faked everyone out with a reggae version of “Working Man” that mercifully evolved into its more familiar, more rocking incarnation.  Very good show – I would say Rush won me over, but seeing them live is much, much different than merely listening to their albums, the best of which are decades old.

The only problem I had with the concert was with the three overlong filmed set pieces that opened the concert, introduced Moving Pictures after intermission and which wound up the show after the encore.  Each movie featured the band members playing characters (with lots of prosthetic makeup and fake facial hair) and featured different versions of the band (one was a trio of chimpanzees) playing weirded-out versions of Rush songs.

Ever self-effacing, Lee suggested that maybe the band was a little “self indulgent,” and I’d say those movies were just that.  But those are easily forgotten, especially when the music from these three great musicians starts to rock.  A three-hour show with a near sellout crowd under the Houston harvest moon and the planet Jupiter?  Can’t beat that!

YouTube: “BU2B” by Rush

Rush official website

Live: Texas Tornados, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by 30daysout

Texas Tornados blowin' through Houston's Discovery Green park

No warnings were necessary as the Texas Tornados tore through Houston Thursday night, spawning dance-floor twisters with a raucous Tex-Mex blend of rock and roll.  The Tornados are anchored by Lone Star music legends Augie Meyers (Vox organ) and Flaco Jiménez (accordion), who were among the original members of this band, and guitarist/singer Shawn Sahm, son of the late, great Doug Sahm.

This was a free show in the Bayou City’s beautiful Discovery Green park, and the Tornados attracted a sizable crowd that seemed ready to wash away the work week.  The Tornados obliged with spicy rockers like “Adios Mexico,” Tejano ballads like “Volver” and stomping country rock like “Who Were You Thinkin’ Of?”

Sir Douglas Sahm was the architect of this type of music, and much of the evening was a celebration of his vision.  The Sir Douglas Quintet classic “Anybody Goin’ To San Antone” and Meyers’ “Velma From Selma” are rabble-rousing stompers when the Tornados take a whirl through them.  Singer Nunie Rubio and guitarist Louie Ortega performed beautifully on their tributes to the fallen Freddy Fender (also a Texas Tornados original member), “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and “Before The Next Teardrop Falls.”

Naturally the 71-year-old Jiménez got the lion’s share of the spotlight, because he is a walking Hall of Fame.  Jiménez, who has played with everyone from Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones, teamed up with Rubio for the beautiful “Volver” and later, the goofy “In Heaven There Is No Beer.”  And when handwritten notes passed up to the stage weren’t song requests, they were phone numbers or come-ons for Jiménez from various ladies in the audience.  One note said “Will you meet me at the Motel 6?” and Jiménez asked, “What number?”  Rubio was quick to jump in with “69,” to which Jiménez replied, “My favorite number.”

Meyers took the show into its homestretch with his lively “Hey Baby Que-Pa-So?” and the band wound it up with the rocker “Wooly Bully.”  But there was one remaining piece of business, and the Tornados took care of it during the encore: a truly epic version of the Sir Douglas Quintet classic “She’s About A Mover.”  Meyers explained, “This song was recorded in 1965 right here in Houston,” and the rockin’ groove and Sahm’s amazing “freaky guitar” fretwork left the crowd happy and satisfied.  Friday morning’s trip to work was a shock to my system, because the Texas Tornados jukebox put me in a weekend frame of mind one day early.

When these guys come to your town, do yourself a favor and catch ’em.  And if they are not coming to your town, at least pick up the great CD Live From Austin TX, with the original lineup playing the “Austin City Limits” TV show.  It’s one of the finest Texas party albums ever made.

Our review of new album ¡Esta Bueno!

Texas Tornados official website

YouTube: “She’s About A Mover” at Sam’s Burger Joint, San Antonio

YouTube: “Velma From Selma” at Sam’s Burger Joint, San Antonio

Holy Batusi! It’s Adam West!!!

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , on September 21, 2010 by 30daysout

Well, we missed Adam West’s birthday … on Saturday he turned 82 years old!  I remember West came to Beaumont, Texas, one time in the mid 1970s; I was a sportswriter and he played in some celebrity tennis match on the Lamar University campus.

This woman we knew, Cathy Beene, was a great tennis player and the coach of a college women’s tennis team at the time.  Her doubles partner in the celebrity match was Adam West, so it was a real thrill when she said she’d introduce me.

Man, I used to watch the damn “Batman” TV series when I was in sixth grade – they used to show two episodes a week, part one would leave with some absurd cliffhanger then it would get resolved the next night, “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!”

Anyway, I met and hung out with Adam West, he was pretty boring actually.  I think he was hitting on our friend Cathy.  And when I reached out to shake his hand goodbye he grabbed my right hand with both of his, looked me straight in the eye and said, just like Batman would have said, “Farewell, my friend, and remember … always keep both hands on the Batrope.”

For that, I will always love Adam West.  He will always be Batman.

MP3: Radio contest Promo by Adam West & Burt Ward

MP3: Texas Bat Crap commercial/”Look Out For The Batman” from the Children’s Treasury of Batman Musical Stories

MP3: “Miranda” (1966 single) by Adam West

MP3: Radio PSA by Adam West, Burt Ward & Yvonne Craig

MP3: “Boy Wonder, I Love You” (1966 single) by Burt Ward

MP3: “The Riddler” by Frank Gorshin

MP3: “Batman” by Jan & Dean

MP3: “Batman A Go-Go” by The Combo Kings

MP3: “Batman” TV show theme

MP3: “Batman Theme” by Sun Ra & the Blues Project

Video: Adam West … I mean Batman …  is BROKE!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

YouTube: Batman and Robin try to save ABC’s fall lineup

Adam West’s personal website

Leonard Skinner, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , on September 21, 2010 by 30daysout

Leonard Skinner, inspiration for the legendary band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in his sleep early Monday at a nursing home in Jacksonville, Florida.   A no-nonsense basketball coach and gym teacher at Jacksonville’s Robert E. Lee High School, Skinner was known in the 1960s to send students to the principal’s office if their hair touched their collars.  Some of those students later had a little fun and named their band after Skinner.  In later years, Skinner made friends with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s band members and even introduced them at a concert in Jacksonville.

Leonard Skinner obit and vintage photo in the Baltimore Sun

MP3: “Gimme Three Steps” (live)

MP3: “Call Me The Breeze” (live)

MP3: “Free Bird” (live)

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Randy Newman

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , on September 21, 2010 by 30daysout

Here’s one from my own collection, one that I actually had to special order back in the day because nobody at the record store had heard of the artist!  It’s Good Old Boys, by Randy Newman, from 1974.

Back then I used to read Rolling Stone magazine, and I saw this article about how L.A. “bad boy” Randy Newman was going to put out a record where he confronts the bigots in the South about racism and stuff.   Rolling Stone loved Newman’s previous album, Sail Away (1972), and they had pretty high hopes for the new one.  Of course, by that time I was mainlining the Warner Bros. Loss Leaders samplers and those featured a lot of Randy Newman too.

So I went looking for Good Old Boys – nobody had it, and back then you only had a few places you could go to buy records.  If it wasn’t at the department store or at Ted’s Record Shop in Jefferson City Shopping Center (Port Arthur, Texas), you were out of luck.  But the girl behind the counter at Ted’s wanted to be helpful, so she offered to “Special Order” the album for me.  After I gave her my telephone number and stuff she was kinda curious, and she asked “What does he sing?”  I could only laugh, because I sure as hell couldn’t explain.

About two weeks later, the album arrived but the only format they could get was 8-track.  To this day, I still don’t understand why they couldn’t get me an LP copy – it’s not like Randy Newman sold that many albums back then, or ever.  Anyhow, Good Old Boys was pretty unique even in 1974.  Perhaps the most notorious song of the day was “Rednecks,” inspired after Newman saw Lester Maddox, who was formerly governor of Georgia, interviewed on TV’s “The Dick Cavett Show.”  Maddox was an unapologetic segregationist, and Cavett had him on as a guest so he could expose Maddox’s racist views.  Cavett’s questioning so enraged Maddox that he walked off the show.

“Rednecks” is told from the point of view of a Maddox supporter, and he talks about the “New York Jew” who made fun of his beloved governor (Cavett is not really Jewish, but …).  The narrator wonders why Northerners hate the South, saying “we’re keeping the niggers down.”  But then he points the finger on Northern hypocrisy, citing examples of ghettos in big cities like Boston, New York and Los Angeles, where they were “gatherin’ them up, from miles around/Keepin’ the niggers down.”

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“New” Song Alert!! “Houston Texans Number 1”

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2010 by 30daysout

The Houston Texans are 2-0 for the first time in the team’s history, and heading for 3-0 against the Dallas Cowboys this weekend. I figured now was as good a time as any to pull out my Texans fight song. My musical partner (see Orange Is In), Jeff Balke, and I wrote and recorded, “Houston Texans Number 1,”  in 2000 before they even had the name “Texans.”

We had hopes that the team would adopt it as its fight song and we would all live happily ever after. However, they chose to go the route of popular country music star, Clay Walker (check out a sample). You win some, you lose some. Anyway, check out the tune and let us know what you think.

Lightnin’ Hopkins Marker Set To Go Up in Houston

Posted in News with tags on September 20, 2010 by 30daysout

Our friends at the Houston Press report that the Texas Historical Commission has created a marker for Sam “Lightnin’ ” Hopkins, the legendary bluesman who spent the majority of his life in Houston.

The marker is made of aluminum, and it was cast and forged by The Southwell Company in San Antonio.  It is more than nine feet tall, pole included, and weighs more than 75 pounds and stands about six feet tall.  It will be  installed on the grounds of Project Row Houses in Houston’s Third Ward, where “The King of Dowling Street” spent most of his time.

A dedication ceremony should take place in November.  You can make contributions to the Lightnin’ Hopkins Marker Fund by a direct deposit through any U.S. Bank of America branch, account number 5860-1320-5659 or a check made out to:

Lightnin’ Hopkins Marker Fund

501 E. 16th St.

Houston, TX 77008

MP3: “Mojo Hand”

MP3: “Automobile Blues”

MP3: “Mr. Ditta’s Grocery Store”

MP3: “Fast Mail Rambler”

MP3: “Lightnin’ Boogie”

MP3: “T Model Blues”

MP3: “Short Haired Woman”

YouTube: “Lonesome Road” by Lightnin’ Hopkins

Everybody’s Talkin’ About Harry Nilsson

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by 30daysout

(Editor’s Note:  Our L.A. correspondent Randy Fuller covered a screening of the new documentary about Harry Nilsson – here is his report.)

John Scheinfeld’s documentary, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?), is currently getting a week’s screening in Los Angeles (through 9/23), with Portland (9/24 – 9/30) and San Francisco (10/1 – 10/7) to follow.   It’s a gentle and powerful film examining the life of the singer/songwriter through his music and the words of the people who were close to him. Those whose comments tell the story of Harry Nilsson include Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Jimmy Webb, Mickey Dolenz, Robin Williams, Eric Idle, Al Kooper, Randy Newman and a host of others.

Director Scheinfeld said after the film, in an in-person Q&A at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 theater, that his biggest disappointment about the film is that he could not persuade Ringo Starr to sit for an interview.   Scheinfeld said “There are three people Ringo finds it very difficult to speak about: John Lennon, George Harrison and Harry Nilsson.”

The movie has just been released after a period of at least four years of being tinkered with. The final cut comes in just under two hours long, down from a previous version that clocked in at three hours.  Scheinfeld mentioned that all that lost footage didn’t stay on the cutting room floor.  “A DVD should be out by Christmas,” he said, “and there will be about another 90 minutes of footage – almost another whole movie – as part of the package.”

In the film, Parks and Dolenz have quite a few stories to tell about Nilsson’s legendary spiral into alcoholism and, ultimately, self destruction.  One of Nilsson’s cousins who was close to him also gets a lot of face time and adds a more personal touch to the account.

Comments from Nilsson’s friends about how they never knew how many days they’d be gone when they agreed to get together with him made the crowd laugh, while accounts of ruined relationships with two of his producers – Rick Jarrard and Richard Perry – were sadly touching.

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