Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream/Review

Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream 180 gram vinyl (w/ download code)

The Boss is back with a new two-record set of all-new material just in time for his halftime appearance this coming Superbowl Sunday. On the heels of his last record, the acclaimed Magic, Springsteen is back again with the E Street Band with Working on a Dream, this time with mixed results.

My Lucky Day is the kind of upbeat anthem in the tradition of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out that could have easily been on Magic and makes you smile every time you hear it. Other highlights of the record are the epic, Outlaw Pete and the somber ballad, The Wrestler. While the rest of the material on the record is fine enough and I suspect that most fans of The Boss will enjoy it, many of the songs either aren't particularly memorable or suffer from mediocre lyrics. This is far from a bad record, it just isn't up to the higher standard realized by Magic--and is a far cry from anything from the classic period of 1975-1985.

Two 180 gram platters are packaged in a single jacket with inner sleeves containing the complete song lyrics. While sound quality varies from track to track, it is a significant step up from the uniformly compressed sound that was heard on Magic. Chris Bellman of Bernie Grundman Mastering did the vinyl mastering and although some of the faster numbers do have that squashed sound, it does not predominate the way it did on Magic. Bruce seems to be going for a Spectorian Wall-of-Sound on those tunes and more than likely, there is little a mastering engineer could do without completely changing the character of the songs.

Included with the vinyl package is a code for a 320 kbps download. Although sufficient for listening on an Ipod or in the car, the sonics are somewhat thin and pinched and don't compare favorably to the vinyl. Where the vinyl shines is on the acoustic ballads where it really captures the layers of Bruce's voice and conveys a realism missing from the digital download. While never an overwhelming audiophile experience, it appears that the vinyl will be the best way to hear this record.


Classic Rock Videos

The Beatles - Thank You Girl

Skynyrd Keyboardist Dies

Rock & Roll lost another valued member when Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell passed away on January 28. He was 56 years old.

Powell called 911 around 12:55 Wednesday morning saying that he was experiencing breathing difficulties. Rescue crews were quickly dispatched to his Orange Park, Florida residence, but Powell was pronounced dead just before 2 am.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is primarily recognized as a guitar-driven rock band, but Powell’s distinctive piano work helped to define the group's sound and Southern rock in general.

Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Powell was attending college in Florida and became a roadie for the band and performed in a group called Alice Marr.

Lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant invited Powell to join the legendary Southern rockers after hearing him play piano during a rehearsal of “Free Bird,” the rock anthem played by the band.

But, tragedy struck in 1977 in the form of a fiery plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and back up vocalist Cassie Gaines. Powell and founding guitarist Gary Rossington were the only two band members to survive the crash.

After the crash, Powell played with other bands and formed his own group, Alias, in 1979. He also teamed up with Rossington and Allen Collins and played with the Rossington-Collins Band. By the mid 80’s, Powell was playing with a contemporary Christian music group called Vision.

In the late 80’s, the surviving members reconvened and began playing a series of reunion concerts with Johnny Van Zant stepping in on lead vocals for his brother.
In recent years, Powell has continued to record and tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd and in 2008 the group performed with Kid Rock and Hank Williams, Jr.

As a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Powell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Rock and roll will truly miss his inventive and fluid piano work.

Album Cover Art

I am starting a new feature about album cover art. Some I like, some I don't, some are just insane and I wanted to share them with you :O)

Atlanta underground metal kingpins Mastodon revealed the cover to fourth album Crack the Skye. The cover comes courtesy of artist Paul Romano (who has done the other Mastodon album covers).

Music News & Notes

Cover Art of Michelle Branch's New LP

An official cover art for Michelle Branch's new album "Everything Comes and Goes" has been outed. The artwork pictures the singer sporting white tank top and picking up her guitar while looking sideways with street view during the daylight on the background.

"Raphael Mazucco shot this out in the desert while we were taking photos for the album," Michelle wrote on her official website about the video. "It's amazing what you can do with a store bought hand held video camera these days. I especially like the part where "hold" is written across my chest."


Modest Mouse Tour

Indie rocker's Modest Mouse are returning to the road next month for a short 12-date U.S. tour, beginning in Oakland on Feb. 22. The tour ends on March 8th at the Langerado Festival in Miami.

The band has attained significant mainstream success since being signed to Sony's Epic Records in 2001 and have been one of the leading bands in the commercialization of indie rock, beginning with their 2004 album "Good News for People Who Love Bad News."

The band's name was derived from a passage from the Virginia Woolf story "The Mark on the Wall" which reads: "I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises."

It's reported that ex-Grandaddy guitarist Jim Fairchild will join Modest Mouse on stage in the place Johnny Marr, who will be touring with UK rock act the Cribs this spring. However, Marr remains a member of Modest Mouse, according to the band's publicist.

The opening act on the tour will be Mimicking Birds, the latest band signed to Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock's Glacial Pace label.

Here are Modest Mouse's tour dates:

Feb. 22: Oakland, Calif. (Fox Theatre)
Feb. 23: Visalia, Calif. (Fox Theatre)
Feb. 24: Los Angeles (Hollywood Palladium)
Feb. 25: Tempe, Ariz. (Marquee)
Feb. 26: Albuquerque, N.M. (Convention Center)
Feb. 28: Boulder, Colo. (Balch Fieldhouse)
March 2: Kansas City, Mo. (Uptown Theatre)
March 3: Oklahoma City (Diamond Ballroom)
March 4: Austin, Texas (Stubb's)
March 5: Oxford, Miss. (the Lyric)
March 7: Atlanta (Tabernacle)
March 8: Miami (Langerado Festival)


Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

Heavy rockers Slayer, Marilyn Manson and Bullet For My Valentine will lead the bill for the 2nd annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, which kicks of on July 10 at the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Sacramento. The festival ends on August 18 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in San Antonio.

Jagermeister is sponsoring one of two second stages, on which Trivium, All That Remains, God Forbid and the liquor company's "battle of the bands" winner will perform. On the Hot Topic side stage, Cannibal Corpse, Job For A Cowboy, Behemoth, Black Dahlia Murder and Whitechapel will round out the bill.

Tickets for the 27-date North American shed tour go on sale April 24 via and

Last year's inaugural Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival featured Slipknot, Disturbed, Airbourne, Five Finger Death Punch, 36 Crazyfists, Machine Head, Black Tide, Suicide Silence, the Red Chord and Wall Of Jericho. The trek attracted nearly 340,000 concertgoers, according to organizers.


Another New Jay-Z Song Leaks Online

Although there's still no official release date for Jay-Z's upcoming album (which is rumored to be titled "Blueprint III"), new songs continue to be leaked onto the Internet.

"Money Goes" hit the Interent yesterday on Tuesday, becoming the seventh expected "Blueprint" track to arrive early either via the Web or radio. The leaks have continued unabated despite Def Jam's consistent message that there is no "Blueprint III" album on their release schedule.


Hot City- Alex Harvey Band Reissued

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band are releasing the 1974 album "Hot City," which never saw the light of day in its original form. The band ditched the original version of the album because they were unhappy with the work done by producer Shel Talmy. While most of the songs ended up in new versions on their next album, "The Impossible Dream," the original versions were never released until now.


Country Music Hall of Fame Fundraiser

The Country Music Hall of Fame has began a $1.1 million fundraising campaign in order to help pay the costs of four instruments that were once owned by Maybelle Carter, Johnny Cash and Bill Monroe. The instruments were awarded to the museum in a recent court case, but the decision requires that the Hall pay $750,000 by February 22, 2009.

Ricky Skaggs is taking the appeal to the fans. “Like their lifelong partners, these beloved instruments can now rest in peace. This outcome means that we, the public, remain the owners of these treasures, and it reminds us that we are fortunate to have them protected and accessible under the stewardship of one of the finest museums in the country. As owners, we have an obligation to help with these costs, and I believe fans will be honored to have the opportunity.”


Classic TESTAMENT Titles To Be Reissued On Vinyl

Two classic albums by thrash legends TESTAMENT — 1997's "Demonic" and 1999's "The Gathering" — will be reissued on gatefold double vinyl by Prosthetic Records on February 3. Each will feature etched artwork on Side D and be limited to 1,000 copies worldwide. Additionally, 100 copies of "Demonic" will feature red vinyl, while 100 copies of "The Gathering" will feature gold vinyl. Pre-orders can currently be placed at


U2 to rescue iconic recording studio?

U2 are reportedly considering buying London's Olympic Studios.

The Irish band recorded part of their forthcoming album 'No Line On The Horizon' at the historic Barnes studio, which has also been used by Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Oasis.

Olympic's current owners EMI said in December that the studios weren't making enough money to justify their existence, and put the building on the market.

Despite already having their own studio in Dublin, U2 apparently liked Olympic so much they are considering putting in an offer for it, reports The Sun.

In recent years, the studio's 'bunker' has also been a musical-home to producer Stephen Street. Street produced albums by The Courteeners and Kaiser Chiefs there, as well as Pete Doherty's upcoming solo album 'Grace/Wastelands'.


Ole Blue Eyes Is Back

The new Frank Sinatra compilation, Seduction: Sinatra Sings of Love, debuts this week at 23 on the album charts on sales of 17,000.

Overall, sales for the week were at 6.43 million units, down 12% from the same week last year.

Rock & Roll Tidbits

Although there is some debate among collectors about what was the last commercially released 8-track tape by a major label, many agree it was "Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits" in November 1988. There are reports of bootleg 8-track tapes being produced in Mexico as late as 1995 and some independent artists have released 8-track tapes as late as 2006.

Courtney Love has had her share of troubles. In fact, while appearing at a Seattle benefit dedicated to stopping violence against women, Love got into a fight, slapping a woman and wrestling with her on the floor.

Paul McCartney wrote the song "Lovely Rita, Meter Maid" for the album "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" after getting a parking ticket from a female warden in Abbey Road.

After seeing the 1978 movie, The Buddy Holly Story, Crickets drummer Jerry Allison said he thought it "was a horrible movie." He went on to say "the only thing I saw about it that was real was they spelled Buddy's name right."

The all-time most nominated Grammy artist is Quincy Jones with 77 nominations.

Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols proclaimed, “I wanna be like Iggy Pop and die before I’m thirty.” When a friend explained to him that Iggy Pop was indeed alive, Vicious was dumbfounded.

Iwao Takamoto, the animator who created the cartoon dog Scooby-Doo, said that he got the inspiration to name his character from the closing scat to Frank Sinatra's "Strangers In The Night.” (Dooby-dooby-doo...)

Joe Perry of Aerosmith fame had been partying for more than twenty years before getting sober. When asked how he felt, he replied, “A little hung over.”

When the Righteous Brothers single "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" was reviewed on the British TV show Juke Box Jury in January, 1965, it was voted a "miss" by all four judges. Since that time, it has become US radio's most played rock and roll song of all time, being heard over eight million times.

Paul Anka's first 45 sold just 300 copies. The follow-up, "Diana,” sold nine million.

While he was with Van Halen, David Lee Roth spent tens of thousands of dollars designing enormous inflatable statues of the devil that was able to ‘pee’ Jack Daniels a distance of fifteen feet out into the audience. It became an expensive gimmick, so he filled the statues with cheap bourbon in order to save money.

Three Dog Night's 1971 smash, "Joy To The World" was written by Hoyt Axton especially for an animated children's show called "The Happy Song" that never made it to production.

The Allman Brothers were never fond of ‘picture time.’ In fact, when one particular photographer tried to take a photo for the group’s 1971 album cover, “The Allman Brothers Band at Filmore East,” all the band members could do was scowl and glare. But when a friend of Duane’s stopped by with a bag of coke, the band was all smiles. In-the-know fans of the group enjoy pointing out that Duane was hiding dope in his hands on the album cover.

The song "Bye, Bye Love" had been turned down by 30 other artists before The Everly Brothers recorded it. It became their first big hit, rising to number 2 in the US in 1957.

After recording a number of demo songs on January 1st, 1962, The Beatles received a rejection letter from the Decca Recording Company that said "We don't like their sound and guitar music is on the way out."

Although The Ed Sullivan Show was the first TV program in America to host the Beatles, it was not their first US TV appearance. On December 7, 1963, The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite featured footage of Beatles fans at a concert. The Beatles' first US television appearance was on The Jack Parr Show on January 4th, 1964 when Parr showed a film of the band playing "She Loves You.” Before showing the performance, one of Parr's comments was "I understand science is working on a cure for this."

"The Twist" by Chubby Checker is the only song to climb to number one on Billboard's Hot 100 in two separate chart runs. The first was in September, 1960 and the second in January, 1962. The hit version is take number three in a 35 minute recording session.

While performing the song “Lithium” at the 1992 MTV Music Awards, Nirvana bass player Chris Novoselic threw his guitar up into the air. It came down hitting smack in the head, knocking him silly. Band leader Kurt Cobain, who had not seen the mishap screamed at Novoselic for losing the beat.

The only US number one single to be re-recorded by the same artist and become a Top Ten hit all over again is "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" by Neil Sedaka. The original, up-tempo version topped the Billboard chart in 1962, while a ballad rendition reached number 8 in 1975. Other songs have made a second appearance on Billboard's Hot 100, but it was the original version that came back.

Drummer John Peterson played for The Beau Brummels on their 1965 hits "Laugh Laugh" and "Just A Little" before leaving in 1966 to join Harpers Bizarre in time to record their 1967 hit "Feelin' Groovy.”