You would think that a legendary artist like Neil Young, who has been making music since the ’60s, would have done it all by now. By the same token, you would think that Daniel Lanois, best known for producing landmark albums for U2, Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel, has also done it all by now. But one thing that these esteemed musicians have not done is work together on a record.
Young, soon to be 66, could have churned out another rocking classic like “Freedom” or solidified his label as the ‘Godfather of Grunge’ with another “Ragged Glory.” Or, he could have gone the tender folk route and delivered another “Harvest” or “Harvest Moon,” but collaboration between two pillars in the music world called for something truly remarkable, something that hadn’t been done before – something that most people wouldn’t even dream of doing. But with countless solo records, not to mention his timeless work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills and Nash, what else was there for Young to do? Continue reading →
When I receive a promo package from an artist/band in the mail which they have sent for review consideration, one might think the music would be the first thing I would check out as that’s what the whole deal is about, right? Well, no. At least, not for me. The first thing I look at when I open the envelope is the (hopefully) enclosed bio one-sheet. There on that sheet of paper should be a decent three or four paragraph write-up about the artist’s history, his inspirations, how the enclosed album came to be recorded, the inspiration behind it and so forth. I am expecting the bio to tell me briefly what is important and special about the artist/band, whether it be the act’s experience, background, mindset, or any other factoid that will set this act apart from all the other acts in the world. In Paul’s case, the most interesting thing about him was this bio quote: “I’ve always preferred the pop style of songs as opposed to the more instrumental (where the focus is on individual talent rather than songs). John Cougar Mellencamp instead of John Coltrane. The Rolling Stones instead of Charlie Parker.” that struck me about Paul’s mindset. Continue reading →
Despite an alarming amount of critical mass to (and by) the contrary, there truly was much, much more worth hearing this decade just past than those big Big Star, Beatle, Bob Dylan and even Neil Young box sets.
So then, strictly alphabetically speaking as always, here’s what I spent much of January 1, 2000 through December 31, 2009 listening very closely to whilst Rock and Roll Reporting…..
To me, Tom Petty will always be the quintessential every-day guy who ended up making it big. But not because of his possession of exemplary songwriting talent but because of his irrepressible spirit and pure rock and roll heart, the true power of which may never be known but which will always be felt, which has always guided him throughout his career. Whether it was involving members of his old band Mudcrutch in his original record deal instead of simply going solo, riding out a record company buyout and the personal bankruptcy it caused to rally his band and create Damn The Torpedoes (ie – one of the best rock and roll albums ever), fighting his new record company to lower the list price on his album Hard Promises, punching a wall and breaking his hand just because he hated the producer’s mix of his album Southern Accents and on and on, Petty has consistently done whatever it took and made the right choices, not just for personal economic/monetary reasons but personally and for his fans. This is a man who lives and breathes rock and roll, but seems to love his fans even more and is a genuinely nice guy to boot. A life lived in the spotlight with very few scandals to speak of and nothing but admiration from your peers is a very rare thing indeed in the rock and roll business. If he didn’t bring the rock like a sonofabitch he would be this generation’s answer to Pat Boone for chrissakes. But he does, and people know it. Like AC/DC, Petty’s albums are not going to lead to the next big thing or make waves with any musical innovations but people who love true rock and roll know he is the real deal and bands looking to capture the spirit of what makes rock and roll great will no doubt be listening to and studying his albums until the end of time…at least.
It’s not often you come across a band that has, yes, six members. On top of that two are dating, two are brothers, and it still all manages to work out wonderfully. Sound impossible? Not for California’s Family of the Year who are one such band. The self-professed indie-rock-folk-Americana songsters have just released their debut album, Songbook, and seem to be charming their way onto everyone’s iPod. If you haven’t heard them yet, SPIN Magazine recommends that you do – and so does The Rock and Roll Report.
The band consists of: Vanessa Jeanne Long (vocals), Joe Beaulieu Keefe (Vocals & Guitar), Sebastian Keefe (Drums & Guitar), James Buckey (Keys), Christina Schroeter (Keys) and Brent Freaney (Bass). Vanessa recently phoned in for a chat about Rock Band’s (yes, the videogame) pivotal role in their formation, impossible to remember band names and actually living and feeling like a family.
As pretty-pointedly shown throughout Martin Scorsese’s “No Direction Home” most recently, the ’66-model Dylan was an American idol at the indisputable peak of his powers as the [insert your own convenient pigeonhole here] Poet/Laureate of a Generation, Crown Prince of the (Thinking Man’s) Hit Parade, or – MY personal favorite – Snot-headed, Venom-spewing Anti-Rockstar of All Time. However, if truth be told, the “Robert Allen Zimmerman” of this period was in fact a man fatally absorbed in his own myth-making, squirming under the pressures of an over-demanding manager, sinking under his obligations to a wholly unsympathetic recording conglomerate, and to top it all was apparently stuffed to the gills in all manner of dangerously recreational pharmaceutica. Or, as Tony Glover’s brilliant liner notes inside “, The Royal Albert Hall [sic!] Concert” CD summarize, “Bob was not just burning the candle at both ends – he was using a blowtorch on the middle.”
True enough, 1966 WAS a tough year for r ‘n’ r’ers. Many crashed (Brian Wilson, for one) and several surely burned (John Lennon, most obviously). Dylan, for his part, did manage to snap his neck in two after peeling over the handlebars of his motorcycle that July, but just two months earlier was still in the fiery midst of The Never Ending Tour, Mach One. To the skeptical (at best), resentful (at worst) audiences of western Europe that spring, he had brought not only his trusty old acoustic and some nice folk tunes from his first few albums, but had defiantly snuck onto his tour plane as well a loud, raucous, extremely plugged-in rhythm ’n’ rock combo from the wilds of Toronto (by way of Arkansas) named The Hawks. This was indeed the proverbial boxing match wanting to happen, for insofar as his reverent disciples throughout the British Isles were concerned the 1966-styled Bob was still the poe-faced, freewheelin’ baby Guthrie of “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “The Times They Are A’Changin’.” Electric guitars and Carnaby Street-bright leather fashions? Those were just toys kids played with on that damnable scrapheap called the Top Forty.
Kurt Dahl leads a double life. First and foremost, he is the drummer of Saskatoon rock band One Bad Son (www.onebadson.com). Second, he is writing his Master’s of Law thesis on the future of the music industry, and how artists will continue to make money in a digital world.
The Rock and Roll Report contacted him to write a diary for his latest venture: driving to Vancouver to record new songs with Default drummer Danny Craig as producer. Below are his entries…
Saturday Feb. 7th – The Day Bob Dylan Dies
Spent the day listening to guitar takes and thinking about something: What will we do when all our music legends start to die? Will there be anyone that comes close to Dylan, Young, Townsend, Bowie, Cohen, etc? Mitch Mitchell died the other day, and I sat and wondered whether any drummers exist out there with the same rambling, melodic, jazz-on-steroids feel? Doubt it. Just like the Who were a tenth the band once Moon died.