Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry (Acapella Toto) Christmas!

Here's a little cheesy camp for ya on Christmas. I know that I already posted acapella Toto here, but this one is especially appropriate...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Voice of Keith Richards

With his new impossibly detailed autobiography flying off the shelves over the past month, Keith Richards has been on the top of our collective minds more than ever lately. Having read some of the book (or rather, listened to the audiobook narrated by Johnny Depp), I've found the candor with which Richards describes the depravity of his addict years with The Stones surprising, to say the least. He comes across as totally honest with himself when it comes to his mistakes and shortcomings, and this makes for a read that is endearing and thoroughly enjoyable.

Having learned about some of Keith's more sordid tales straight from the horse's mouth, I was inclines to look back at some lesser-known Stones tracks where Keith takes lead vocals. Typically, this usually happened once or twice an album, and the tracks were often overlooked as filler, serving as a breather in between Sir Mick's ballyhooing rockers. But while much of the Stones' output in the 80's and 90's sounds overly-slick and dated, Keith's tunes from that period really stand the test of time, and are consistent to an incredible degree when put together in a row. Especially in the later years, Keith was knocking off deeply affecting ballads of regret and humility, delivered in his signature off-hand, soulful tenor. The brutal honesty of his writing seems to come from the same place as the bracing truths in his songwriting.

So I made a Keith mix (surprise, surprise). Of particular note are "Too Rude," Keith's surprisingly successful stab at reggae from 1986's Dirty Work, and "How Can I Stop," a well-produced slow-burner from 1998's Bridges to Babylon that features jazz legend Wayne Shorter on a gorgeous outro sax solo. The rest of the tunes range from classic rockers to haunting laments, and they all come together to paint a picture of Keith Richards as one soulful, troubled dude in his own right. Play this on a rainy day, and let Kieth's blues drift you away...

The Rolling Stones, Starring Keith Richards - How Can I Stop

1. Infamy
2. Before They Make Me Run
3. Connection (Live)
4. Too Rude
5. All About You
6. Thief in the Night
7. Coming Down Again
8. Little T&A
9. Sleep Tonight
10. How Can I Stop
11. You Got The Silver (Live)
12. The Worst
13. Thru And Thru
14. This Place Is Empty
15. Losing My Touch

Download Link

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pic of the Day: Happy Thanksgiving!

George: Hullo, Bob. I dig love.
Bob: Greetings and salutations, George. I also believe dat what we need is love, to guide and protect us all.
George: Well that's something we can agree on, brutha.
Bob: United we are in de fight against repression, George.
George: Yes, Bob. Isn't it a pity, how we cause each other pain.
Bob: Fuck it, let's get together and feel alright. One Love.
George: Yes, it's true. All you need is love.

Look at this epic meeting of two cultural giants. Looks like around 1975 or so. Combined, the amount of Love and Happiness these guys inspired in people with their music is just staggering. Brothers in the cause. Monumental.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Treasure Island Music Festival Reivew -

Last weekend saw SF's Treasure Island get bombarded with ravers and hipsters for the 4th annual music festival, this year split into two seperate days of electro madness and indie songcraft. Though the weather sucked, bombarding us with wind and rain, we danced through it all and had a blast. My full coverage of both days is over at Jambase:

Treasure Island Festival :: 10.16.10-10.17.10 :: Treasure Island :: San Francisco, CA

Without a doubt, the highlight of the weekend was LCD Soundsystem's epic slow-burn rager on Sat. night. We were eating out of their hands like farm animals. The band's patience in building the show's energy up and out was excruciatingly awesome. This shaky video captures some of the magic that went down:

The other mind-blowing event of the weekend was the bizarre South African rap group Die Antwoord, which melted my face with pure, masterful rap prowess. This was some next level shit, straight up:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tom Tom Club Review - Glide Magazine

The rhythm section of the band once known as Talking Heads has been touring for years as Tom Tom Club, a quirky band with a sound rooted in light funk, Caribbean music. The most distinctive element of the band has to be the sing-song, half-rapped, often nonsense lyrics of bassist Tina Weymouth, who sounds like a Japanese schoolgirl more often than not.

Their live show was a dancey affair, with lots of blondes and legs and bouncing basswork. Though the music was nothing mindblowingly profound, it was an easily digestible bit of lighthearted fun, and a great party taboot.

Here's my review of the show over at

Tom Tom Club :: 10.08.10 :: Great American Music Hall :: San Francisco, CA

I've always had a big crush on Tina Weymouth and her sexy bass-rocking swagger. These videos attest the fact that I am still attracted to a 59 year old woman. Laugh if you like, I proudly stand by my statement...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Alberta Cross Review - Glide Magazine

The next generation of rock bands is here, and like non-pasteurized milk, the creamiest of the creamy good music is bound to rise to the top of the mish-mash of mediocrity flooding the scene these days.

Few freshman bands show more potential and promise than Alberta Cross, a British/American hybrid of a rock band which recalls early My Morning Jacket in the best way possible. Releasing their debut album Broken Side of Time in '09, these guys pack a punch both live and on wax, and you can feel that they are going to just get better and better as time goes on.

Sharing a bill with grungy space-sludgers Dead Confederate, Alberta Cross proved their staying power with an affecting show last week in SF. Here is my coverage of these up-and-coming rockers:

Alberta Cross :: 09.08.10 :: Great American Music Hall :: San Francisco, CA

The most rockingest, best crafted track has to be their title cut, the spooky "Broken Side of Time":

But when it comes to calling forth the spirits of creep, "Ghost of City Life" takes the cake as their most powerful, chilling tune:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DEVO Was Right - Dirty Impound

Starting a new trend, this is the first article in a series to celebrate a number of underrated, classic albums that deserve a closer look (featured on the rock website

Aside from their hit "Whip It," DEVO has always been sort of a cult band, as their weirdo, pin-head on-stage persona and tounge-in-cheek lyrics are quite bizarre and jarring. They truly broke the mold of rock/punk/new wave music with their first album, which rocked harder than their later albums, which leaned more towards programmed synthy electronic sounds. Bottom line, one of the finest debuts in the history of rock and roll. Here is the article:

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We are Devo! - Vintage Stash

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Outside Lands Review -

This past weekend saw Golden Gate Park be overtaken by around 50-60,000 music fans, 65 bands and 4 stages, over the course of two days. The result was a huge party in the park amongst the eucalyptus. Check out my review of the madness over at Jambase:

Outside Lands :: 08.14.10-08.15.10 :: Golden Gate Park :: San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Phish Phunk: 3.0

After this past weekend's epic, mind-melting Phish shows at the intimate Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA, those that are familiar with this band's musical journey back into relevance can now all agree that the phab four are now playing at a level of musicianship which has not been achieved in years.

For the first time in over ten years or so, Phish's live show now once again holds in it a consistently real possibility of transcending past its role as a "live concert" and achieving a status of "profound life experience." This band is currently able to reach such levels of synergy and musical transcendence regularly, thanks to their new-found commitment to musical precision, as well as all four band members' incredible chops. All this combines to create a musical stew of telepathy: the now-ness which is achieved when things are locked in with band and audience makes time stand still.

As an homage to Phish's much-welcome return to form, here is a compilation of the best freaky funk jams this band has thrown down since their return from retirement in 2009. One reminder for you: listen to this shit LOUD!!!!

Phish: Phunk, 3.0 - A Mix (all SBDs)

1. Wolfman's Brother - 6/11/10 - Chicago, IL
2. Tube - 6/18/09 - Burgettstown, PA
3. Sneakin' Sally Thru The Alley ->
4. Mansfield Jam - 6/22/10 - Great Woods
5. Boogie On Reggae Woman - 12/30/09 - Miami, FL
6. Tweezer - 6/18/10 - Hartford, CT
7. 2001 - 6/25/10 - Camden, NJ (MJ Teases)
8. Cities ->
9. Berkeley Jam ->
10. Moma Dance - 8/6/10 - Greek Theater

Download Link

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lost Moments in Musical History - McCartney and MJ

Everyone who's ever listened to Thriller (and that's pretty mucheveryone on the planet) knows of "The Girl is Mine," the catchy, cheeseball collaboration between Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. At any rate, though it's one of the weakest tracks on the album, it deserves some credit for using a chorus with the word "doggone" in it (that takes balls). The song was bafflingly released as Thriller's first single, and was soon overshadowed and overcome by every single other track on the album.

But few know of the extent of the relationship that formed between Macca and MJ during the early 80's. It began with the song "Girlfriend," which McCartney wrote specifically with MJ in mind. McCartney recorded it in 1978, and MJ followed suit with his far superior version, which was included on Off The Wall in 1979.

Paul McCartney - "Girlfriend"

Michael Jackson - "Girlfriend"

This seems to have eventually blossomed into a beautiful friendship by the 80s. In a recent interview, McCartney recalls how it began:

“He called me up on Christmas Day one year and asked, 'Do you want to make some hits?' So I said yeah, sure, you know, being of the hit-making variety. So we did, and it was really nice. He came to my house, and he got to know the family and stuff."

After they recorded "The Girl is Mine," MJ returned the favor to Macca by singing on a lost McCartney classic "Say, Say, Say." This song is better than "The Girl is Mine" in almost every way, but somehow few know much about it.

What follows is this song's long-lost music video, which features Paul, Linda and MJ as Depression-era Southern con-artists, getting into all sorts of zany adventures with their wild antics. Check out the borderline-racist vaudeville act at 3:30:

Now that's a satisfying romp of a music video!

This lovely friendship between two of the biggest pop stars in the world was not to last, however, as MJ stabbed his buddy in the back in 1985 when he outbid McCartney himself to own the rights to the entire Beatles catalog for $47.5 million. Though many thought this action unforgivable and sacrilegious (he gave the legacy of John Lennon a big "F U" by selling "Revolution" to Nike), it turned out to be the best business decision that MJ ever made, reaping him enough money to buy millions of pet monkeys. Regrettably, Macca and MJ never spoke again. The End!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

30db Review -

30db is a sideproject/supergroup which was formed by Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band and Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey's McGee. It can be assumed that this musical relationship began during the period when their two bands were touring as a co-headline act. The band's music is good rock songwriting, with great harmonies and nice mandolin flourishes. Here's my review of their recent show in San Fran:

30db :: 05.20.10 :: Great American Music Hall :: San Francisco, CA

At the band's heart is the chemistry between Austin and Bayliss, clearly apparent in this clip of them playing "Susannah," arguably their best song:

In their full band configuration, here's 30db playing "Lick #6":

Monday, May 17, 2010

RIP, Dio

Today, Ronnie James Dio died of stomach cancer. He will be missed. Dio was one of the best Heavy Metal vocalists that ever lived, belting out lead vocals and hitting the high notes every time with a powerful tremolo. Along with Robert Plant, he was the one responsible for imbuing Hard Rock and Metal music with mythological tales of witchcraft and medieval lore. He was responsible for Black Sabbath's 80's comeback, and helped the world realize that Ozzy really did have a shitty voice, if you think about it. He was also one homely mofo. Which made him all that more awesome onstage, belting it out while wearing a big cross and leather. Also, he invented the devil horns hand sign, for god's sake!

Here he rocks out as lead singer of Richie Blackmore's Rainbow in 1977.

But he was certainly most badass in the frontman role for Sabbath.

He had that voice to the end, hitting every note with gusto, and still playing with Sabbath (now called Heaven and Hell so as to not piss Ozzy off).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Embarrassing 80's Moments: The Grateful Dead

For musicians that have been playing music for as long as the members of the Grateful Dead, it is interesting to see how their current musical identities have been shaped by their collective musical output from the past 45 years or so. Considering the vast range of music that has come in and out of vogue through the years, you would think that old men like Bob Weir, who have experienced more in their lifetimes than we could possibly comprehend, have musically collected a little bit from each decade they've lived and played through.

This is certainly the case with the 60s and 70s, which was the period in which the Dead formed their musical identity. Having crafted their blues/R&B/psychedelic/folky/boogie-woogie sound in the 60's and early 70's, the band added a more funky and jazz fusion edge to their music as the 70's progressed, even touching into disco grooves come the late 70s.

But then came the 80s. The prominent synthesized, slick musical trends of the 80s couldn't have possibly been more out of sync with the Dead's homegrown musical aesthetic. As the band relentlessly toured the country throughout the decade, it was apparent that the Dead kept their music contained in a protective bubble which kept the plastic, artificial musical trends of the time at bay (not counting Brent Mydland's cheesy MIDI keyboard sounds in the mid-80s). It seemed that the Dead willingly rejected the superficiality which 80s music had to offer, refusing to be influenced by the times. Well, there are a few exceptions which I'm sure these guys would prefer to forget...

Case in point, this amazingly awful/awesome 1984 timepiece from Bob Weir's 80s side band, Bobby and the Midnites. This pop document is made even more astounding by the fact that the drummer is Billy Cobham, one of the finest Jazz Fusion drummers of his time playing drums on a silly, silly song. Bobby's crazy eyes are priceless on this one. Can you spot the acid-head in the group?

Meanwhile, in another musical universe, future Dead keyboardist Bruce Hornsby was a struggling L.A. musician, taking whatever gigs he could get at the time. This resulted in his joining Sheena Easton's band as a synth/keyboardist, and playing on some fairly popular pop hits of 1984-85. This selected track is entitled "Sugar Walls." Here are some selected lyrics from this lovely little love song:

Blood races to your private spots, lets me know there's a fire
You can't fight passion when passion is hot
Temperatures rise inside my sugar walls

(My sugar walls) Oooh (my sugar walls)
Come inside (my sugar walls) , my sugar walls (my sugar walls)
Come spend the night inside my sugar walls (my sugar walls)

Such a beautiful ode to love could only be written by one man. The author of "Sugar Walls"? Prince!!! Yes, that's right, the Prince. And playing keys on this ditty by Prince, Jerry Garcia's future musical cohort, Bruuuce Hornsby! Who would have thunk? There's a good shot of him at 2:11:

When the Dead were finally accepted by MTV and the masses in '87 with "Touch of Grey," they did it tastefully, on their own creative terms. While his musical peers and cohorts from the 60s were out there stinking it up and selling their souls for the Regan dollar, Jerry never pandered to such things like catchy synth-pop and music videos. He was way too busy doing H-bomb and tinkering with his Steinberger headless guitar and personal computer to be bothered with any of that stuff. Or was it the 80s' bankrupt musical landscape that was driving him to the junk? The world may never know...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Al Di Meola Review -

Al Di Meola has long been considered one of the most dazzling jazz-rock guitarists of his, or any generation. This sit-down, semi-formalized jazz performance of his World Sinfonia band was perfectly executed, flawless instrumental world music. Though at times it teetered dangerously close to a New Age-y sound, it never quite got there, and the music instead traversed the delicate path of beautiful harmonic compositions. Here's my review of this Jazz-Fusion guitar master's performance:

Al Di Meola's World Sinfonia :: 02.27.09 :: Palace of Fine Arts :: San Francisco, CA

This footage gives an idea of the sound that this band is capable of. Watch Di Meola's fingers fly over the fretboard. The effortlessness is astounding.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chico Mann Review -

Recently I was lucky to cover a record release party for the granddaddy of Latin Boogaloo, Joe Cuba. It was headlined by Chico Mann, guitarist in the afrobeat band Antibalas who has his own electro DJ side project that mashes up dance music from all genres into one big funky electric stew.

Chico Mann :: 02.11.10 :: Elbo Room :: San Francisco, CA

Here is some footage from that night that gives a sense of the mish-mash style that Chico Mann brings to the table, where he covers Joe Cuba songs, but adds some funky-ass beatz in there to modernize the tunes.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wagon Wheel / Rock Me, Mama

A few years ago, I was turned on to Old Crow Medicine Show by a friend of mine. After listening to most of their self-titled debut album, I decided that I liked their jug-band/old-timey/moonshine throw-down approach, and deemed myself a fan. I dug the tunes, though they were nothing mind-blowingly original. Then the final song on the album started up, and changed everything. The song was incredible. "Wagon Wheel" was one of those rare eye-opening, life-affirming tunes that made me all warm and fuzzy inside, made me smile to myself and think about the people I loved. And best of all, you could really sing along to it. It was absolutely timeless and catchy, the perfect campfire song.

At the time, I thought to myself, "Wow, this song is so much better than every other song on this album, it's an instant classic!" Though the rest of the album is also very enjoyable, "Wagon Wheel"'s absolute perfection made it seem a bit out of place with the rest of the songs on the album, and I wondered why.

Well, the answer to this is unexpected, but not surprising at all once it is known. The reason "Wagon Wheel" is so fucking incredible is because it was written by Bob Dylan! Duh! It seems so obvious now, doesn't it?

It turns out that old Bobby D had originally recorded this song as a rough, half-baked demo called "Rock Me, Mama" back in 1973 for his Billy the Kid Soundtrack album. There were no verses, just a chorus and some mumbles. It didn't make the final cut, and went unused. Somehow, almost 30 years later, Ketch Secor of Old Crow stumbled upon the unreleased recordings, and wrote his own verses for the tune, transforming it into the tune we know and love. The band got permission from Bobby to use his discarded gem, and the song is now officially credited to Dylan/Secor. Another testament to the legend of Dylan, who's output is so prolific that his musical trash can be picked up and turned into pure gold.

"Wagon Wheel" ended up being the song that put Old Crow Medicine Show on the map, making them the most popular old-timey jug-band in the country. This is not to downplay their talents as a band (they are awesome live), but rather to acknowledge their massive debt to old Zimmy. Here's Dylan's original demo: