Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes Live At The Greek (2000)

51F14RMY29LFrom amazon.com

Rock ‘n’ Roll is all about fantasy, mostly about sexual fantasy (e.g. AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie”), but sometimes it is just about Rock ‘n’ Roll fantasy.

Such as, what if Jimmy Page found himself at a lose end and wanted to go out on tour? So who could he pick as a backing band? Perhaps his long time admirers and possibly America’s tightest jamming band The Black Crowes? And what could they pick as a set list? A selection of Led Zeppelin’s finest and just for good measure some of the finest standards laid down? Well, for once it was not fantasy, but reality. Rehearsals took place and dates were set and this amazing combination hit the road, playing to packed arena’s the length and breadth of America, with astounding results.

Fortunately plans were made to record the event for all time and here are the results. At first only released on the Internet, but sense was seen and the whole Shishkerbang was let loose on the eagerly awaiting Rock Public. For those amongst you who may feel that it is sacrilegious for anyone else to perform these songs, especially for old Robert (Percy) Plant not to be singing, hollering, and cajoling every nuance out of these classic’s.

Fear not. Chris Robinson, the Crowes’ vocalist, does not even attempt to imitate the great man, singing everything in his own style giving each song a new slant. The rest of the Crowes play with such abandon, I have never heard them play with such verve and panache, and this is somebody who has been a huge fan of the band for over ten years. The rhythm section of Pipien and Gorman keep a lock sold groove going whilst losing nothing of the looseness that keeps the music spontaneous and alive.

Probably the biggest sound difference on the Zeppelin classics is that although John Paul Jones used to double up on bass and keyboards (an exemplary job he did, too) in that band his use of piano was very sparing, whereas Ed Harsch is not frightened to push the piano right to the front of the sounds cape, soloing when any opportunity arises. But it is the three pronged guitar attack that floors you. Combining together to give the raunchiest guitar sound that has ever been heard on this little planet. (Lynyrd Skynyrd are stunning, make no mistake, this is just one step beyond) Obviously it’s Jimmy Page that steals the show. I doubt he has ever played better. However, the playing of Chris’s brother Rich Robinson, and new at the time Crowes guitarist, is of outstanding class, pushing their guest player to the outer limits of his ability.

The Song selection is spot on. The guitar duel in “You Shook Me” is nothing short of jaw dropping, specially as it follows a version of that old Elmore James classic “Shake Your Money Maker”, which rattles the roof tops and would bring a smile to even the most stern of anorak Rock ‘n’ Roll connoisseurs. Chris Robinson turns in a truly saucy version of “The Lemon Song”. The choice of Jimmy Page’s contemporary guitarist/songwriter Peter Green’s finest song written whilst in Fleetwood Mac, “Oh Well” is a pure delight.

There has never been a better version of “Heartbreaker” with Jimmy Page really stepping out on this one. So topped and tailed with “Celebration day” and “Whole Lotta Love” across two hours of music spread over two CD’s. You get Six cover versions and fourteen classic Zeppelin tracks (all with credit due to Willie Dixon and C. Burnett), played by a bunch of guys, who are having the time of their lives. This is certainly one of the top three Rock ‘n’ Roll Live albums of all time.

As an extra – if you have a computer you can watch them performing snippets of the songs live from your disc drive plus some very good stills taken from the Greek, where it becomes even more apparent how well they all gelled as a unit and what a good time they were having.

After this tour the Black Crowes went back into the studios to record their next album, the very heavily Zeppelin influenced “Lions”, since when, it’s been rumoured, they have disbanded, probably feeling it would be hard to top the Jimmy Page tour. One is also left to reflect what a shame it was that “Led Zeppelin” never recorded a decent live album. “The Song Remains The Same” is not a bad album, but hardly a killer. “Live at the Greek” leaves it for dead.

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May 24, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes Live At The Greek | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Live In New Zealand 1972 (Auckland, February 1972)

live_in_new_zealand_1972_fFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Western Springs Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand – February 25th, 1972

Disc 1 (47:31): Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Y-Aur-Stomp

Disc 2 (38:18): Dazed & Confused, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown

For the longest time there were three tapes from Zeppelin’s tour of Australia and New Zealand that were either hoarded or rumored to be hoarded. In the autumn of 2000 one of the three, the almost complete Sydney tape, surfaced on the Tarantura title Ayer’s Rock.

A year later the same label issued the second of the three tapes on Going To Auckland (TCD-6). This title caused consternation not only for being a four-disc set (“normal” and “remastered” versions), but also for running about 3% too fast.

The manufacturers issued very defensive statements through the Air Raid 2000 site claiming the tape speed was correct, but later rectified the situation on Going To Auckland (AKA-38) issued on their Akashic label twice; once in 2004 and again last year.

Genuine Masters also released this tape on Kiwi Express (GM-LZ-25.02.1972-DVD-A-06) to good reviews. Live In New Zealand 1972 is Empress Valley’s latest release in their project of releasing the entire tour on definitive versions.

The sound quality of the tape is very good to excellent albeit a bit thin and lacking in bottom end. The music is clear and Empress Valley didn’t use excessive mastering on this like Tarantura. It is a shame that this, like many of the Australian shows, is heavily cut and missing significant portions of music.

It fades in right at the end of “Immigrant Song” and contains little cuts between most of the songs. Plant acknowledges the importance of the event after “Black Dog” by saying, “we’d like to really thank you for the faith for making this the biggest thing to happen in New Zealand. And all the traveling involved it’s an amazing thing to hear. We traveled thirty-six thousand miles but at least we stopped in Bombay which is a great place to stay after a war”.

“Going To California” is normally played as the first acoustic number but is missing and judging by Plant’s comments before “That’s The Way” about American accents it was played. Plant sings “Tangerine” with much more emotion than usual.

The latter half of “Dazed & Confused” is cut at the end of the violin bow solo. It is a shame too because the part that is present is truly amazing and sounds like one of the all time greats. The piece does contain an early reference to “The Song Remains The Same”, the light and airy riff leading to the power cadence Page used in the middle of the guitar solo and is played right before the violin bow section begins.

Regarding this version, Tim Blanks, host of “Fashion File” on CBC observed: “Led Zeppelin changed my life. I was a screwed-up-tight schoolboy when I saw them in Auckland, New Zealand, on a midsummer night in 1972, shortly after the release of their epochal fourth album.

The stage was a distant blur. Fortunately, the couple beside me had binoculars. It was during the showpiece ‘Dazed and Confused’ that Jimmy Page began to ravage his guitar with a violin bow and my synapses involuntarily combusted.

“The sound was so alien, so witchy–coming from a man rumored to be in touch with dark forces–that I was whisked out of my seat, compelled to dance in the pagan style popular among mutant hippies of the day.”

The cut also omits “Moby Dick” and “What Is And What Should Never Be”(if they were played). “Whole Lotta Love” in its entirely is present and the usual Ricky Nelson and Elvis rockabilly classics are inclusions in the medley, “Hello Mary Lou”, “Let’s Have A Party”, “(Baby You’re So Square) I Don’t Care” and “Going Down Slow.”

The only encore “Communication Breakdown” is complete with a fiery solo by Page to end the afternoon’s show.

Empress Valley use their long box style packaging and include a mini replica of the tour program that was also included with their Adelaide release Deep Downunder. The front and back covers have pictures from the Melbourne show with the one on the front cover very dramatic with Plant staring at the rain clouds above the stage.

Live In New Zealand 1972 uses the lower generation tape that has surfaced and is an excellent release worth having.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Live In New Zealand 1972 | , | Leave a comment

John Lennon Acoustic (2004) & Rock ‘n’ Roll (1975)

MI0002023094john-lennon-acousticFrom pitchfork.com

I could see how releasing John Lennon discs called Acoustic and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the same day might have seemed like an insane stroke of integrated-marketing genius– “Why, it would almost be as cool as the Bright Eyes double-weeper!” some pony-tailed Capitol exec may have exulted– but these releases seem to have little to do with one another.

Hardly the polished, definitive statement that its title and cover photo imply, Acoustic culls demos and live tracks from 1998’s Anthology box, plus seven previously unreleased recordings. Much of the material draws from Lennon’s most raw album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, recorded after primal scream therapy with Dr. Walter Janov. The new disc’s most visceral moments– a bitter, desolate blues waltz of “Working Class Hero” and a finger-blistering, previously unreleased “Cold Turkey”, on which Lennon’s wavering, sheepish-lion vocal veers closely to Marc Bolan– predict the spare sneer of punk, even without amplification.

By comparison, Rock ‘n’ Roll sounds like “Crocodile Rock”. Here, Lennon revisits his roots, complete with the heavy, 50s-style echo he was employing on much of his original work (“Instant Karma”, for example). The now-familiar backstory to this satisfying (if less-than-brilliant) outing is that an out-of-court settlement with Morris Levy, owner of several Chuck Berry copyrights, required Lennon to record three songs to which Levy owned the rights. (Levy had charged, quite rightly, that Lennon’s “Come Together” cribbed from Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me”.) Phil Spector produced four of the album’s tracks, while Lennon handled the rest. Despite the legal obligation, Lennon’s performance never sounds forced; instead, he sounds unfettered, barnstorming through the favorites of his youth with the gleeful abandon he must have felt when, while listening to Radio Luxembourg, he first heard “Heartbreak Hotel”.

While Rock ‘n’ Roll is a wistful look at rock’s lost innocence, Acoustic hunkers down in the humdrum here-and-now of 1970s existence. “All right, so flower power didn’t work,” Lennon tells a live audience between the off-kilter protest songs “The Luck of the Irish” and “John Sinclair”, both originally on Anthology. “So what? We start again.” The fallout of the failed 60s left Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas’s Raoul Duke mired in drugs and depravity; Lennon ultimately turns, creatively enough, to “reality,” as described in the oft-quoted “God”. The version here, previously unreleased, opens with twangy guitar as Lennon goofs an impression of a Southern preacher. The accidental distortion that kicks in on the bass during Lennon’s powerful, repetitive “I don’t believe” sequence vaguely brings to mind Neil Young’s haunting Dead Man theme. Interestingly, Lennon replaces “I don’t believe in Zimmerman” with the less cryptic “I don’t believe in Dylan.” As always, the song concludes with Lennon’s statement of faith in himself. Still, this is a drop in recording quality compared to the Anthology version.

Among other previously unreleased tracks, the nursery-rhyme melody of “My Mummy’s Dead” stands out against a stark, slightly crackly background. “Dear Yoko” (as opposed to “Oh Yoko!”, which you may know from the Rushmore soundtrack if not from Imagine) suffers from fuzzy tape noise that Capitol’s sound engineers couldn’t remove. The song’s straightforward message of love still shines through– “I miss you like the sun don’t shine”– but casual listeners would be better served by the Double Fantasy version. “Well Well Well” becomes a heavily phased, forgettable one-minute run-through of the Plastic Ono Band original. Pop gem “Real Love” is informative as a demo, though it will merely leave you heading back to The Beatles’ 1996 version with fresh ears– it’s proof that Paul, George, and Ringo didn’t fuck that one up, after all. On the plus side, you don’t know “What You Got”, originally from Walls and Bridges, until you hear this percussive, bluesy rendition.

On “Watching the Wheels”, Lennon fleshes out the solipsistic themes hinted at in “God”. Whether or not his years of domesticity were as blissful as advertised, I don’t really care. It’s a song that Holden Caulfield might have sung after realizing he couldn’t smear out every F-word, a song about being true to oneself. If only Catcher in the Rye-obsessed maniac Mark David Chapman had understood, I like to think we might be listening to a new, blissfully mediocre release by a 65-year-old Lennon rather than a rarities compilation. This recording– originally released on Anthology and the “Unplugged” bootleg– strips away the hopelessly dated production of the Double Fantasy version. What’s left is poetic, melodic, homespun– it’s what diehard fans of any band look for but rarely ever find in a demo. Even brief background chatter from Yoko can’t throw a Spaniard in these works– instead it adds intimacy to the proceeding. It’s my new favorite Lennon recording, at least until the next time I listen to Imagine.

Nothing on Rock ‘n’ Roll matches that moment, but it has a breathless energy all its own. The remixing and remastering is clearly noticeable– for instance, the cover of Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-a-Lula” sounds infinitely clearer and brighter here than on the original album. With its staccato acoustic guitar and Lennon’s fervent vocals, “Stand By Me” remains more affecting (just barely) than the Ben E. King rendition. Much criticism has been hurled at the album’s ubiquitous brass, but on the new recording, bouncy horns and newly vivid bass enliven even previously unspectacular songs like “Ya Ya”, although the cod-reggae “Do You Wanna Dance” will forever be a concept by which Lennon fans measure their pain. “You Can’t Catch Me”– the song that necessitated this album in the first place– is a solid footstomper.

The four bonus tracks are welcome, but will leave little to satisfy Lennon cultists. “Angel Baby”, a swooning ballad from the cringe-worthy posthumous release Menlove Ave., should have been on Rock ‘n’ Roll in the first place. (It had appeared on Levy’s unauthorized Roots: John Lennon Sings the Great Rock & Roll Hits release.) Unfortunately, “Be My Baby”– one of the most legendary cuts from Roots– is still absent; completists already own it on Anthology, but that’s no excuse. “To Know Her Is to Love Her” is another slow, pleasantly schmaltzy Menlove Ave. track, while “Since My Baby Left Me” is a bouncy version of a cut from that comp. “Just Because (Reprise)” is really nothing more than a bizarre alternate ending. “I’d like to say hi to Ringo, Paul, and George,” John says, possibly drunk. “How are you?” This earnest, slightly silly snippet captures the record’s tossed-off joie de vivre– even if it’s not as Rock ‘n’ Roll as, say, Acoustic.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | John Lennon Acoustic, John Lennon Rock 'n' Roll | | Leave a comment

Paul McCartney Ram (1971)

paulmccartneyramFrom pitchfork.com

Flipping through the booklet to Paul McCartney’s Ram reissue, you’ll find no scholarly liner-notes essay.

This is odd. Usually the reissue-packaging gods demand the positioning of an eager critic between you and the product, dispensing wisdom on how you might experience the music they’re standing in front of. What you find instead is a McCartney family-photo scrapbook: Paul draping himself playfully around monkey bars with his infant Stella. Mary, about three years old, hoisting fat headphones above her tiny head; on the opposite page, Linda nuzzling Paul, those same headphones ringed around his neck. In the photos, Paul looks dazed, as if he were smacked in the face with a pillow seconds before the shutter clicked. It drives the point home: Ram is a domestic-bliss album, one of the weirdest, earthiest, and most honest ever made. No wonder critics loathed it so passionately.

Or at least, some critics did. Sometimes an album gets a review so resoundingly negative that it lurks forever like a mournful spirit in its rear view mirror: Jon Landau, writing for Rolling Stone, claimed to hear in Ram “the nadir in the decomposition of Sixties rock thus far.” Which is intense. But people wanted impossible things from Beatles solo albums– closure, healing, apologies, explanations for what to do with their dashed expectations. John Lennon tried telling everyone outright “The dream is over” on Plastic Ono Band’s “God”, but that still wasn’t a cold-water jet hard enough to prepare people, apparently, for the whimsical pastoral oddity that was Ram.

Landau was right, however, that it did spell the end of something, which might be a clue to the vitriol: If “60s rock” was defined, in large part, by the existence of the Beatles, then Ram made it clear in a new, and newly painful, way that there would be no Beatles ever again. To use a messy-divorce metaphor: When your parents are still screaming red-faced at each other, it’s a nightmare, but you can still be assured they care. When one of them picks up and continues on living, it smarts in an entirely different way.

Ram, simply put, is the first Paul McCartney release completely devoid of John’s musical influence. Of course, John wiggled his way into some of the album’s lyrics– in those fresh, post-breakup years, the two couldn’t quite keep each other out of their music. But musically, Ram proposes an alternate universe where young Paul skipped church the morning of July 6, 1957, and the two never crossed paths. It’s breezy, abstracted, completely hallucinogen-free, and utterly lacking grandiose ambitions. Its an album whistled to itself. It’s purely Paul.

Or actually, “Paul and Linda.” This was another one of Paul’s chief Ram-related offenses: He not only invited his new photographer bride into the recording studio, he included her name on the record’s spine. Ram is the only album in recorded history credited to the artist duo “Paul and Linda McCartney,” and in the sense that Linda’s enthusiastically warbling vocals appear on almost every song, it’s entirely accurate. Some read Paul’s decision as the ultimate insult to his former partner: I’ve got a new collaborator now! Her name is Linda, and she never makes me feel stupid. In the album’s freewheeling spirit, however, the decision scans more like guilelessness and innocence. The songs don’t feel collaborative so much as cooperative: little schoolhouse plays that required every hand on deck to get off the ground. Paul had the most talent, so naturally he was up front, but he wanted everyone behind him, banging pots, hollering, whistling– whatever it is you did, make sure you’re back there doing it with gusto.

It is exactly this homemade charm that has caught on with generations of listeners as the initial furor around the album subsided. What 2012’s ears can find on Ram is a rock icon inventing an approach to pop music that would eventually become someone else’s indie pop. It had no trendy name here; it was just a disappointing Beatles solo album. But when Ben Stiller’s fussy, pedantic “Greenberg” character painstakingly assembles a mix for Greta Gerwig intended to display the breadth and depth of his pop-culture appreciation, he slides Ram’s “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” on there. It’s the song we see her singing along to enthusiastically in the following montage.

Critics hated “Uncle Albert”. “A major annoyance,” Christgau opined. Again, from the current moment we can only plead ignorance, assume that some serious shit had to be going down to clog everyone’s ears. Because “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is not only Ram’s centerpiece, it is clearly one of McCartney five greatest solo songs. As the slash in the title hints, it’s a multi-part song, starring two characters. To put its accomplishments in an egg-headed way: It fuses the conversational joy listeners associated with McCartney’s melodic gift to the compositional ambition everyone assumed was Lennon’s. To put it a simpler way: Every single second of this song is joyously, deliriously catchy, and no two seconds are the same. Do you think early Of Montreal, the White Stripes at their most vaudevillian, or the Fiery Furnaces took any lessons from this song?

What a lot of people thought they heard on “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, and everywhere else on the album, is cloying cuteness. But it turns out you can say a lot of things– things like “go fuck yourself” (“3 Legs”), “everything is fucked” (“Too Many People”), and even “let’s go fuck, honey” (“Eat At Home)”– with a big, dimpled grin on your face. “It’s just the critics who say, ‘Well, John was the biting tongue; Paul’s the sentimental one,'” Linda observed shrewdly in a dual Playboy interview from 1984. “John was biting, but he was also sentimental. Paul was sentimental, but he could be very biting. They were more similar than they were different.”

The joy of paying close attention to Ram is gradually discovering that Paul was humming darker things under his breath than it seemed. “Smile Away”, for instance, is a messy, romping slab of Buddy Holly rock. Paul makes a joke about his stinky feet. The chorus goes “Smile away, smile away, smile away, smile away, smile away.” But it’s not just “smile,” a brief, cost-free act that can last a second. It’s “Smile Away”, keeping a fixed grin as conversation grows unpleasant. In interviews of the period, Paul was asked repeatedly if he felt lost without his collaborating partner, if he was motivated solely by commercial success, how he felt about being “the cute Beatle.” The backing vocal chant behind “Smile Away” goes, by turns, “Don’t know how to do that” and “Learning how to do that.” “Smile away horribly, now,” Paul slurs over the song’s fadeout. Yes, he’s fine. No, he and Linda will not become the next “John and Yoko.” But thanks so much for asking. If you tell a dog it’s a brainless fleabag with the same tone of voice you use to say “Good boy,” it will still wag its tail.

The album is riddled with dark grace notes like this: “Monkberry Moon Delight” has an absolutely unhinged vocal take, Paul gulping and sobbing right next to your inner ear. The imagery is surrealist, but anything but whimsical: “When a rattle of rats had awoken/ The sinews, the nerves, and the veins,” he bellows. It could be a latter-day Tom Waits performance. “Too Many People” opens with Paul warbling “piece of cake,” but the lyrics themselves wag their finger at societal injustices, former bandmates– basically everybody. The lyrics to “3 Legs” are full of hobbling animals with missing limbs.

The almost-title song “Ram On”, could serve as the album’s redeeming spirit: A haunting, indelible little tune drifts past on ukulele as Paul croons, “Ram on, give your heart to somebody/ Soon, right away.” The title is a play on his old stage name “Paul Ramon,” which makes the song a private little prayer; a mirror image, perhaps, to John Lennon’s “Hold On”. The song is reprised, late in the record, functioning like a calming breeze. “I want a horse, I want a sheep/ Want to get me a good night’s sleep,” Paul jauntily sings on “Heart of the Country”, a city boy’s vision of the country if ever there was one, and another clue to the record’s mindstate. For Paul, the country isn’t just a place where crops grow; it’s “a place where holy people grow.” Now that American cities everywhere are having their Great Pastoral Moment, full of artisans churning goat’s-milk yogurt and canning their own jams, Ram feels like particularly ripe fruit.

This reissue comes with a disc of extras from the period, which hardcore McCartney fans will already know well. They are lovely, an extension of the album’s mood and world without interrupting it or diluting it. Songs like “Another Day” and “Hey Diddle” feel like a cracked-open door onto the kind of records Paul could have conceivably gone on making forever. A few years later, he had returned, presumably chastened, to crafting over-arching concept records about fictitious bands, the sort of thing he’d gotten a lot of applause for in the past. But the bracingly pure and simple air of Ram has resonated further.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Paul McCartney Ram | | Leave a comment

The Doors Live At The Matrix

414htYtoc0LFrom amazon.com

Review This is the first official live release of the Doors in their prime.

All the other cd’s are from 1970 and by that time Jim Morrison was going into half drunken poetic recitals during the songs and they had clearly passed their live prime (though there were some good songs from then). But in 1967 the Doors were in another realm live. Next to the Velvets, this is about the only group that had a darker element to the sound.

And you get to hear the full version of “the End” with the oedipal sequence and some bizzare lyrical improvisations intact. Apart from a few blues covers the Doors weren’t “just starting out”. This is the Doors at their best live. Sadly, because of the sound quality, as the other reviews detailed I can only rate this one star. Its lousy. I’ve heard the “concert issues” of them and they are far better. The surviving members of the Doors could and should have released the original masters.

Not only for the listener but to honour Jim Morrison. You can grasp what the Doors sounded like live during their prime era which influenced punk, proto-punk and goth. But the sound quality is abyssymal. They need to reissue the original master tapes to the public or at least as penance allow the next winner of “American Idol” to be the lead singer for the “Doors of the 21st Century”. Take your pick. Just not this release until they get it right. Jim Morrison would agree.

Review The Doors and Warner Music Group issued a press release to promote this CD, stating: “Restored and carefully mastered from first generation tapes acquired by Elektra Records and The Doors 40 years ago, these historic shows never sounded better.” However, at least 4 tracks here were sourced from 3rd generation or higher bootlegs. The remaining songs were mastered from an edited 2nd generation 1/4″ reel to reel copy of a cassette dub made from the master reels.

Neither the Doors, nor their corporate record label Warner Music Group (aka the Rhino and Elektra imprints) own the original master recordings. The master tapes are owned by Peter Abram, who had the foresight to record the band at The Matrix (with the band’s permission)–more than two years before Elektra and Paul Rothchild got around to recording The Doors in a live setting at The Aquarius theater in 1969.

These legendary 1967 live tapes were well engineered by the young Abram and find the rock band at the peak of their prowess as an improvisatory unit. However, the tapes Warner Music Group has published on this 2 CD rip off are vastly inferior to the master tapes, brief samples of which are circulating on the Internet with Peter’s permission for comparison purposes.

Some fans may choose to believe that Abram is being greedy by asking for cash for his tapes. However, The Doors manager Jeff Jampool has publicly stated the Doors’ policy about acquiring live tapes is that they will only provide a small royalty based on sales. According to Abram, he wasn’t even approached to sell his tapes to the Doors for this release. And what about all those bootlegs on the market? According to Abram, all bootlegs derive from the missing first generation cassette copies in the Doors archive, which vanished in the 1970s.

The fans get a sonically subpar, incomplete product. The legality of this release is suspect since Peter owns the master tapes. Peter Abram receives zero money from this product, even though he owns the master sound recording. Meanwhile, your purchase of this material will make Warner Music Group and The Doors a little bit wealthier. And this is the same rock band that recently sued itself for $5million dollars over issues of “integrity.”

By the way, how much money was cover designer Stanley Mouse paid for his Matrix album cover art, while they guy that actually recorded the show–on his own nickel and made this cash cow possible for The Doors–doesn’t even receive a credit as recording engineer in the liner notes?

May 24, 2013 Posted by | The Doors Live At The Matrix | | Leave a comment

The Doors Live In Boston

51BnXJ-tRMLFrom amazon.com

I’m writing this review so those who are skeptical or hesitant about purchasing this release might better appreciate what to do instead of regretting it later. The shows recorded at Boston were part of a number of shows professionally recorded by the band for a future live release. Jim was an alcoholic and he did get drunk at some of the Doors live performances. If you don’t want to hear what a drunk Jim Morrison sounds like, then definitely purchase Live at Detroit and you will get a much better performance from Morrison and the band in general.

However, if you dare cross the line and dwell in the “loose palace of exile” you might find yourself surprisingly entertained by the Doors live at Boston. First off, the mix of this recording definitely fits the setting. The Doors played in an arena and what you get is “arena sound.” It makes for great listening if you turn it way up!!! John Densmore’s drums are mixed front and center and it sounds great! As for the shows:

The howl and moan by Jim at the start of the first set is quite a pleasure to listen to and it sets the stage for a ballsy Road House Blues which follows immediately after. Ship of Fools is well performed by the band and Jim is able to sing most of the lyrics, albeit in inebriated form. I won’t review each and every song but sufficit to say, as long as you don’t mind the grunts and slurs and yells by Jimbo, and you crank this recording loud, you will have a fun time!

No one in the audience could have cared less if Jimbo was drunk as a skunk! The Doors bravely carry on, juiced Jimbo and all. In the second set, Jim is even drunker but he’s capable of reciting poetry, (graveyard poem) and it’s a beautiful one at that! He also raps with the audience and you get the feel of being in the audience thanks to Bruce Botnick’s sound mix. I can imagine how the audience was having a fun time at this show and were rightly pissed off when the management cut the power because the Doors went “overtime” When you hear Jimbo say […] once the power is cut, you can hear how upset the audience was at seeing the Doors being prevented from playing further!

The Doors don’t perform every song well and do show some noticeable deficiencies and you can hear some flubs in many of the tunes performed. But hey, this is live and not every show is going to be performed to perfection. If you want a more “perfect live Doors experience” than go purchase “Absolutely Live.” This is Live in Boston and the suds flow during this show and Jimbo has a whale of a time performing live in front of his fans. This is a must release for hardcore Doors fans and an important release to fill in the picture of Jim Morrison, one of the more complicated, colorful and talented artists of the late 1960’s.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | The Doors Live In Boston | | Leave a comment

The Doors Live In Vancouver 1970

5137qtuOmELFrom amazon.com

Albert King opened for The Doors in Vancouver June 6, 1970, The Doors asked him to jam with them for four blues standards, they were only months away from starting the recording of L.A. Woman in the fall of that year. And from the versions of the songs The Doors played “Live in Vancouver” it seems they already had the blues on their minds.

There was some experimenting going on in Vancouver. The Doors were seemed to be pushing the limits of rock or at least stretching those limits between rock and the blues. At first it sounds like the Vancouver show is more sedate (not sedated) than the Felt Forum shows a few months prior. Upon a closer listening you can see The Doors were going for more of a bluesy feeling than a hard rock sound, and explains why Morrison, in introducing Albert King gives a quick tutorial to the audience about the two main indigenous forms of American music blues and country coming together in rock `n’ roll, he`s tipping the audience off as to what they’re doing.

The instrumentals in most of the songs highlights the bluesy feeling such as in “5-1” and “Light My Fire.” While they didn’t change the song substantially, during the instrumental of “Light My Fire” Morrison comes in using “St. James Infirmary” as a starting point and slips in some bucolic, blues tinged imagery from “Porgy and Bess” to highlight the bluesier aspects of The Doors usual repertoire “the fish were jumping, and the cotton is high.” What band today of the same calibre as The Doors would or could risk such onstage experimentation?

That’s not to say The Doors didn’t delve into their psychedelic roots they played “When The Music’s Over” and an interesting rendition of The End. Early in their career The Doors were interested in dissonance for their experimental journeys, in Vancouver they show that assonance had taken over their experimental interest. The End in Vancouver is a mature rendering of that song, it isn’t as frantic as earlier versions, The Doors let it play out like a noir film, Morrison stacking the familiar images upon each other, until the dramatic crashing climax, creating a movie for the mind of the audience.

Albert King played four songs with the band onstage, “Little Red Rooster,” “Money,” “Rock Me,” and “Who Do You Love.” King’s solos on these songs, like the rest of the CD doesn’t display a lot of unnecessary pyrotechnics but is solid playing all the way through.

I’ve been to a lot of rock concerts and listened have listened to a lot of live albums but none of those seem to have the context or coherence that The Doors were able to imbue into their best shows, and this is one of their best.

These Bright Midnight releases are great for fans like me who didn’t have the connections to get bootlegs, or weren’t’ collectors but still longed to hear the shows they’ve long heard about. The Bright Midnight releases are like raiding The Doors archives without having to worry about the quality, the sound is crisp and clear. The liner notes give you some background right from The Doors’ own pens that’s more reliable than second generation legend. “The Doors Live in Vancouver” will make a nice addition to your collection.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | The Doors Live In Vancouver | | Leave a comment

Jeff Beck Blue Wind Over Yokohama (December, 1980)

Jeff-Beck-Blue-Wind-Over-YokohamaFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Tuesday 16 December, 1980, Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan, Kanagawa, Japan

Disc 1: 01. Announcement; 02. Star Cycle; 03. El Becko; 04. Too Much To Lose; 05. The Pump; 06. Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers; 07. Space Boogie; and 08. The Final Peace

Disc 2: 01. Led Boots; 02. Freeway Jam; 03. Keyboard Solo; 04. Diamond Dust; 05. Scatterbrain; 06. Drums Solo; 07. Scatterbrain; 08. Blue Wind; 09. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; 10. You Never Know; 11. Going Down; and 12. SE / Announcement

Jeff Beck’s album There and Back, released in June, 1980, was his first studio album since Wired in 1976. The virtuoso musicians accompanying him on There and Back consisted of Jan Hammer, Tony Hymas, Simon Phillips and Mo Foster. At this exact same time, Phillips and Foster were also playing and recording on The Michael Schenker Group’s seminal studio album released in August 1980, which is an artistic fact of mind blowing proportions when one listens to what these musicians accomplished on the JB and MSG albums. Hammer’s contribution to There and Back included the perennial concert opener, “Star Cycle,” where he played both drums and keyboards, but Hymas provided the majority of the keyboard work on the album. Phillips and Foster did not tour with MSG in 1980, but with Beck and Hymas in support of There and Back.

Tarantura’s Blue Wind Over Yokohama documents the band’s thrilling December 16, 1980 performance in what can only be described as Mr. Peach sound quality. Expansive, lush, and detailed are fitting words because of the recording’s enveloping sound boasting deep bass with clear mid and high range sounds, free from distortion, and with respectful audience applause and clapping in a virtual surround sound dynamic. To top it off, Beck’s between song remarks are captured so closely that you’d think he was talking right in front of you. These recordings are truly amazing and we are blessed with the first class treatment they are given by Tarantura.

The high quality, glossy paper sleeve is decorated with separate pictures of Beck from the era. Inside of the jacket are images of the two ninety minute Sony duad cassettes used to record the concert and a reproduction of the ticket and its underside that humorously warned “no cassette and taperecorders are allowed.” It’s obvious that Mr. Peach was not the only archivist who did not heed that warning because this night in music history was also presented in the no label box set Cyclone. In contrast to the no label recording, Peach’s recording was of the whole experience, from opening announcement to closing announcement, and there’s also a distinct enhancement in Peach’s recording, definition, and volume. Tarantura apparently also utilized sturdier, higher quality discs that are beautifully decorated with the image seen on the front cover of this title.

After the sound of a gust of (blue?) wind swept across the concert hall, with some final guitar tweeking, Hymas began “Star Cycle” and we are immediately transcended into the beginning of another startling Peach recording. The detail in Phillips’ hi-hat accents, cymbal and brilliant drum work is heard just as clearly as what Beck, Foster and Hymas were playing at the same time. A crystal clear keyboard solo starts around 3:50 into the song that worked into a call and response with Beck, who thanked the happy crowd after the song’s conclusion and then said simply “this next one goes like this.” A rousing version of “El Becko” included sweet slide guitar soloing by Beck that continued to develop the good feel of this show.

Things slow up a bit for the next three songs. “Too Much to Lose” involved some funky bass slapping by Foster and simply ridiculous shredding, fret board and tremolo bar work by Beck; “The Pump” was melodic and intricate, beautifully recorded and relaxing to hear; and “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” had almost a dimly lit lounge feel to it, possibly lulling the audience before the explosive performance that was about to be performed.

Beck introduced Mo Foster and then came “Space Boogie,” quite possibly one of Simon Phillips’ most amazing pieces of work. An exhausting song with Foster flying alongside Phillips, Hymas moving up and down his keys and Beck playing a wild sounding solo starting around 2:30. It’s unlikely that anybody was looking at each other at this point in the song, and almost as impossible to comprehend how they held this together, but sure enough they do to reunite and drive the song across an exhilarating finish line. Instrumental mastery on full display here. The audience’s raucous applause seems cut short as the recording exposes a majestic version of the “The Final Peace” to end disc one in grand fashion.

“Led Boots” opens disc two with more superlative drumming by Phillips. This more than five minute version of an “old one called Led Boots” as described by Beck paved the way for Phillips to count in his sticks before laying down another killer beat to start “Freeway Jam.” Mo Foster solos about midway through the song, which is followed by a beautiful two minute keyboard solo by Tony Hymas that is electric piano and no synthesizers. Classy dedication to traditional style and sound. The mellow “Diamond Dust” is followed by “Scatterbrain,” which was divided by a nearly nine minute drum solo by Phillips. His market value must have been off the charts at this point in his career, and just one listen to this solo would tell you why. A remarkable combination of brute power, uncanny dexterity and legendary innovation always set him apart and was on full display in this concert.

The showstopper “Blue Wind” follows and extends to more than eleven minutes of what must have been a party on stage. The song’s catchy harmony, whether by Foster and Hymas or Beck and Foster, doesn’t tire, even with numerous solos. This is likely again because of the amazing clarity of this recording.

One might think fatigue would set in at some point with these guys, but “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” “You Never Know” and “Going Down” provided another fifteen minutes of virtuosity. Beck shredded to end “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “You Never Know” is similar to “Blue Wind” in feel and positive energy. “Going Down” finds Beck on vocals to take the show to its eventual conclusion, surely to the delight of an audience that clapped and chanted right to the final announcement.

Mr. Peach captured it all and this can easily be described as a must have for any fan of this era of Jeff Beck’s music, jazz fusion, or those of us whose collections continue to expand with the unprecedented bounty of Tarantura’s gorgeous Mr. Peach productions.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Jeff Beck Blue Wind Over Yokohama | , | Leave a comment

Had Me A Real Good Time: The Faces: Before, During & After by Andy Neil (2011)

OP53119From amazon.com

Hardcover, 405 pages of text, 5 page Introduction by the author, 15 pages of FACES and related selected discography, 7 pages of BBC radio and TV appearances, 13 pages of concert listings from 1969-1975, plus acknowledgments, Bibliography, Source Notes, and an Index. Also included are 32 pages of b&w photos throughout the book.

The author, Andy Neill, has written a number of liners notes for The Who, a book on that band, and also writes for Mojo Magazine, and Record Collector. He has interviewed a number of people from the era in question, and has done extensive research about The Faces, using many period interviews in order to get a better picture of the band during their hey-day.

Formed out of The Small Faces (who released a couple of fine albums) and The Jeff Beck Group (likewise), The Faces were all about good time r’n’r that combined a devil may care attitude, and enough musical chops to see them through. The band was never truly popular in England as in the U.S., where audiences took them to heart as they stormed across America, with their woozy-boozy take on r’n’r.

The foundation of this book is based around quotes from band members, those close to the band, and people connected to the music business during the band’s relatively short reign. While there’s nothing startlingly new here, for fans of the band (like me) it’s an inside look into a band that was all about having a good time on stage-sometimes at the music’s (and the audience’s) expense. Beginning with the member’s early days growing up, the book moves into the formative stages and various bands that would lead to The Faces. The use of period interviews (especially during the 70’s), woven into a full picture of the band, gives an accurate feel and flavor of the era, the music, and the many musicians during those exciting formative days of rock in England, and, to some extent, America-where the band toured extensively.

The background of events during these formative years is a good foundation for the many bands forming at the time. We follow various Faces members as they coalesce around the initial stirrings of r’n’r, and the various bands of the era. Neill has done a pretty good job of blending the disparate interviews into one big picture that flows along nicely. All the ups and downs, The Small Faces, The Jeff Beck Group, the albums by those bands, The Faces’ overwhelming desire to have a good time on stage, the eventual splintering (Stewart said when Ronnie Lane left the band the spirit was gone) of the band-it’s all here.

If you’re a fan of the band this book will help you relive those glory days when the band would (sometimes literally) stagger on stage and launch into one of their alcohol-fueled rock or soul tunes-sometimes to crank up the fire power, and sometimes to lose their way. The group’s desire to have fun (Stewart would launch soccer balls into the crowd, or the band would sing some old English drinking song for example) sometimes produced less than stellar performances. If you’ve seen the band a number of times (as I was lucky enough to do), you know that some nights they were on blistering r’n’r form. Other nights (or even during the same concert) their sloppy drinking habits carried over into sloppy performances. But it was all in good fun, and you couldn’t help but leave with a smile on your face. And this book brings it all back and into sharper focus.

If you’ve never experienced the band live, or never heard their music extensively, this book may be lost on you. Their albums gave some indication of their approach to music and performing. But on stage is where the band truly made their reputation, and reading this book brought back a lot of good memories. But it’s also a look into an era that will never be repeated. If you missed out on those times for whatever reason, this book will give you a good idea about those few years when The Faces stormed across America not just giving a concert, but a good time to everyone lucky enough to experience them live. The Faces were never a truly important band compared to other groups, but on a good night they were a combination of a powerhouse band and an on-stage party. This book is a welcome addition in just about anyone’s library of r’n’r.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Book Had Me A Real Good Time: The Faces: Before During & After by Andy Neil | , | Leave a comment