Archive for March, 2011


What do Apple Computers, Steve Wozniack, Mtv, Ozzy Osbourne, The Ramones, the Cars, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks,

The Us festival quite possibly was the best festival since Woodstock and Altamont

 Fleetwood Mac, the Grateful Dead, Missing Persons, and Willie Nelson all have in common? The greatest music festival since Woodstock 1969 of course: not the butt of a Homer Simpson joke on The Simpsons but rather the US Festival!

What is the US (pronounced “us” not “u-s”) festival you ask? It was the biggest musical festival since Woodstock and the poorly planned 1969 Altamont festival. It happened on Friday, September 3 and went through Sunday, September 5, 1982 – Labor Day Weekend and happened again on Memorial Day Weekend, 5/28/1983-5/30/1983. It finally ended on July 4, 1983. There were different themes for each day: country day, rock day, new wave day, and heavy metal day. The lineup consisted of such great artists as INXS, Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks (both with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo act), Van Halen, U2, and the Clash.

It was literally the biggest festival since Woodstock.

However, it has never been released on dvd or blu-ray. But it has been shown in increments on VH1 Classic. I think that needs to change, don’t you?

Here are the 10 reasons Steve Wozniack needs to release this great festival on dvd and blu-ray:

1. Bono climbs the scaffolding during U2’s set.

Bono is a great showman, no doubt. However, this is the height of greatness when the greatest frontman of one of the greatest (and possibly the most controversial) Christian bands of all time decides to pull a stunt that could quite possibly put him one more step closer to God.

2. Breakfast with the Grateful Dead

What happens when you get pothead’s that are ending their “last dance with Mary Jane” all in one place? You get “Breakfast with the Grateful Dead!”

3. A blitzed David Lee Roth takes shots at Mick Jones of the Clash onstage.

You gotta love it when one rock star fights another. It’s like one of those moments that says “sucks to be you buddy!” As history has it, the Clash and Van Halen already had a fight going on when guitarist Eddie Van Halen decided to criticize the music that the Clash played by saying that it was “like music that I played in my garage.” At the Us festival, a clearly blitzed David Lee Roth said “I wanna take this time to say that this is real whiskey here… the only people who put ice tea in Jack Daniel’s bottles is The Clash, baby!” Roth only took one time to bash the Clash.

4. Heavy Metal Day

The artist lineup for that day was quite possibly the best lineup of heavy metal artist that ever walked the face of the earth. It was a sellout crowd with an estimated 375,000 attendants. It was, as Motley Crue’s Vince Neil put it “the day that New Wave died & rock & roll took over.” With a lineup that included the likes of Van Halen, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph and Scorpions – Neil’s point is well-taken.

5. Stevie Nicks babble’s and has technical issues.”

The night was a rather interesting night for rock goddess Stevie Nicks. For starters, she was high and a little off-key on her hit single “Edge of Seventeen.” But the more funnier and greatest moment of her set was when she performed her upcoming new hit single (and signature song) “Stand Back.” Nicks says nice things like “I am only talking cuz I should keep my mouth shut” and then tells the audience that she will “hand deliver it [her now-classic album The Wild Heart] to each one of you. I will! We will………sorta like Girlscout cookies!” She is clearly high at this point. she shows that she has a sense of humor when she starts explaining the lyric “be standin’ in” means and of course introduces the band. However she gives a great performance of “Stand Back” for the first time ever and that is what makes this performance memorable. Also, during the performance of “Edge of Seventeen,” Nicks dedicates the song to her late best friend, Robin, who passed away from leukemia during the success of the release of “Bella Donna.”

6. The Ramones perform “Rock and Roll Highschool.”

Words cannot describe this.

7. Pat Benatar sings “In The Heat of the Night.”

Never has a song been so fitting for both the time of day (or night in their case) and even the weather – which was a blistering 110 degrees in the middle of the day.

8. The Divinyls

Now, to anyone born after 1985, such as myself, they are known as a one-hit wonder band. Apparently they were labeled wrong because they did a bang-up set at the Us Festival. However, one must wonder what was lead singer Christina Amphlett was thinking with the fake ugly teeth.

9. Fleetwood Mac performs Tusk minus a marching band. However, the mac daddy and company make up for it by having keyboardist Christine McVie rock out on the accordion. Who knew that playing the accordion could make a person even more amazing than they already are? Christine pulls it off very well.

10. David Bowie electrifies the crowd with “Let’s Dance.”

David Bowie is one that never ceases to amaze.


Pat Benatar is one of the feistiest singers in rock & roll. In 1979, she hit the music scene with a vengeance with In The Heat of the Night.

Benatar exclaims to her ex-lover “you’re a heartbreaker/dream-maker/love-taker don’t you mess around with me” on the smash single Heartbreaker. Benatar’s gritty albeit beautiful vocals, combined with guitarist and future husband Neil Giraldo‘s searing guitar solos, make this track one of the quintessential songs of Benatar’s career.

Subtlety works well on the title track. The bass line, combined with a much more vocally subdued Benatar, makes this for one unforgettable early Benatar track.  It gives it a suspenseful feel. In a possible homage to the movie The Stepford Wives, Benatar tells of a fake woman living the life of another in My Clone Sleeps Alone.

One of the weaker tracks is If You Think You Know How To Love Me. It is essentially filler music and does absolutely nothing to make the album better.

Benatar shines on such other tracks as We Live For Love and Rated X. Rated X talks about a porn star who seeks out love in all the wrong places. While she wants love, all of the men that she seeks out want sex. According to husband Neil Giraldo in her autobiography Between a Heart and a Rock Place, We Live for Love was written as a love song for Pat Benatar by her future husband. However, she thinks otherwise that it was written for another woman.

Though it is not a perfect album, it is still a good album. In The Heat of the Night only gives us a taste of what to expect of her other albums including her followup to this album, Crimes of Passion and Precious Time.

 


Band fights: Almost every single band goes through this. Fleetwood Mac was no

Mirage is another example of what can come from pain: beautiful music.

exception with their release of 1982’s Mirage. There was much in-fighting within the band that seems to stem from the time during when Rumours was released in 1977.

One of the best tracks on the album is the Lindsey Buckingham-penned Can’t Go Back. It’s made even better by the beautiful piano playing and finger-picking guitar combination of Christine McVie and Buckingham. However, the melody of the song does not seem to match the overall lyrics. The overall lyrics are about lost love.

On the country-tinged That’s Alright, Stevie Nicks talks about a mutual breakup. Overall, it doesn’t seem to stand the test of time as the other great Nicks-penned track. Gypsy. Gypsy is a beautiful track that has a beautiful piano highlighting the entire track with Buckingham on backup vocals. Also, the lyrics are completely impeccable when Nicks says “So I’m back to the velvet underground/ Back to the floor that I love/ To a room with some lace and paper flowers/ Back to the gypsy/ that I was/ To the gypsy/ that I was.” She only gets better on Straight Back – which seems like a deeper version of Dreams. It keeps getting better when she starts singing with McVie.

Keyboardist Christine McVie never seems to disappoint with her contributions to Mirage. Only Over You, a love song written to her then-boyfriend and late member of the Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson. McVie’s voice is often underestimated and it should not be because it is the thing that makes this track absolutely beautiful.

However, one of the most annoying tracks is Book of Love, where Lindsey Buckingham cries throughout the chorus “Oh tell me who wrote the book of love/ Was it somebody from above/ Surely he must know all the rules.” Overall, the writing is on the wall about whom the song is about: Stevie Nicks.

Hold Me has to be the best album track overall due to McVie and Buckingham’s almost duet-like singing. McVie and Buckingham blend very well vocally.

B+

 


Hands down, Michael W Smith is one of the smartest artists both musically and

In 1984, former keyboardist for Amy Grant Michael W. Smith released "2," the follow-up album to his well-received debut, "Michael W Smith Project."

lyrically in Christian music. Not only can he write though-provoking lyrics, but he’s also a classically-trained pianist.

Smith shows that sometimes you don’t need to be familiar with his previous project, Michael W. Smith Project in order to have any sort of appreciation for his second album, 2.

One of the most remarkable contributions is the use of fellow CCM rocker Dan Huff of White Heart fame. Huff plays guitars on most of the albums tracks.

On the song A Way, which sounds alot like a prayer out of the book of Psalms, Smith pleads with God “You find me waiting for a miracle/ You hear me praying for a plan/ You are the only one prepared to rescue me/ then you take away the distance/ found between the truth and me/ and you give us simple reason to my restless rhyme/ Woa, hide me in the heaven/ You have held within your hand/ And make a way to find a way to soothe my mind.” This is perhaps one of the best tracks on the album because it is basically a prayer.

However, the biggest eye-opener comes on Restless Heart, which features a suprise duet with CCM superstar Amy Grant. Though she is only credited for background vocals on Restless Heart, she is clearly singing a duet with Smith. It is a welcomed surprise nevertheless. Grant and her then-husband Gary Chapman also contribute background vocals on All I Needed To Say.

The greatest thing  about this album, however, is the fact that Smith shows what EXACTLY he can do with his classical piano training. He shows off his classical chops on such songs as Musical Instruments and Wings of the Wind.



Rock music’s Gold Dust Woman, Stevie Nicks, returns with Live In Chicago,

her first live video since 1987’s Live at Red Rocks. This is a concert dvd that

is sure to please Nicks fans old and new.

Nicks surely knows how to entertain an audience. Instead of this being a standard concert dvd, Nicks makes it an experience for concert-goers and viewers alike – complete with stories about what inspired such hits as If Anyone Falls and Landslide. She opens the concert with the ever-popular Stand Back from her 1983 hit album The Wild Heart. On the ever-popular Fleetwood Mac hit Rhiannon, Nicks re-emerges dressed in a black top-hat, black gloves, and a black skirt – thus becoming Rhiannon. She does this transformation again on Gold Dust Woman, which makes the concert more enchanting and brings it to a new level of greatness.

One of the most entertaining stories that Nicks shares is about the time she wrote a song during the recording of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album in 1977 in Sausalito, CA. There was a time when she was not needed in the studio. A person in the studio gave her a key to Sly Stone‘s (of Sly and the Family Stone) studio. While there, she wrote what would be Dreams.

Stevie shows her true rock side when she exclaims that “this is my most angriest song” albeit with a little love and breaks into Fall From Grace from her 2001 release Trouble in  Shangri-La.

However, one of the more weaker moments is when she invites Vanessa Carlton to sing The One and Circle Dance. Though Nicks is a rocker, Carlton is a soft rocker. She has no point in being there.

Overall, it is a great dvd that celebrates the many hit songs spanning Nicks’ 3-decade long career. Perhaps the dvd’s title should have been titled “An Enchanting Evening with Stevie Nicks in Chicago” because it is one enchanting experience.


Okay everyone, in honor of SNL airing their Backstage special on NBC, I figured it would be great to do a rundown of the 20 greatest SNL music sketches.

These are in no particular order

  1. Candy Slice and the Slicers – Hands down, the late Gilda Radner was the funniest ladies of the original “Not Yet Ready For Primetime Players. 
  2. The Celine Dion Show – Former SNL cast member Ana Gasteyer consistently tries to show off the fact that she’s “The Greatest Singer In The World.” Oh and be sure to check out host Matthew Broderick as Gloria Estefan. 
  3. The Barry Gibb Talk Show –    In music, sometimes it is best not to use your singing voice as your talking voice.
  4. Whitney Houston – Maya Rudolph nails it as Whitney Houston tries to give Seth and Amy some extra special brownies on Weekend Update. However, don’t eat the brownies that Whitney Houston gives you!
  5. Lawrence Welk – For once, Lawrence Welk actually looks fun to watch.
  6. What Up With That?: Lindsey Buckingham is always a guest, yet he never sings any of the Fleetwood Mac classics.
  7. Stevie Nicks Fajita Roundup: Who knew that songs like “Dreams,” “Rhiannon,” and “Landslide” could be commercial jingles?
  8. Kiddie Metal:  Adam Sandler as a nursery rhyme singing Axl Rose!
  9. Celebrity Jeopardy with Bijork, Sean Connery, and Dave Matthews – “Everything is music! Crash boom bang, chimpa cha!”
  10. Blue Oyster Cult needs more cowbell: Ah yes, the cowbell skit. “I got a fever and the only perscription is MORE COWBELL!