Monday, December 29, 2014
What a great way to end 2014. There's so much to tell about this show that I'm almost at a loss as to where to begin....
Let's start with the music - that is, after all, why we were all there. This is the tenth annual Christmas thru New Years jaunt through California for this tour, and the capacity crowd at The Independent in San Francisco stated quite loudly that they got it right. Both bands played headline length sets with Cracker opening the show, Camper Van Beethoven closing, then Cracker coming back for a show ending encore, and both put on shows that clearly defined why both are so revered, respected.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
While on a break from touring this year, the members of the live touring version of The Stooges (James Williamson, Steve McKay, Mike Watt, and drummer Toby Dammit) got together and recorded songs that were originally penned by Iggy Pop and James Williamson in 1973/74 as the follow up to their quintessential album Raw Power. While a number of these tracks have found their way onto inferior sounding bootlegs and unofficial releases over the years, they are never properly recorded since the band didn't have a recording deal at the time. ~ James Williamson's .com
Iggy demurred, so James went ahead and did it - people have long clamored to hear what was left over from the demise of punk rock's original legends, so we are the joyful recipients of what may have been, and it's a great trip.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Paul Raymond is celebrating his golden anniversary as a professional musician, and to do so he's got a brand new career retrospective solo album, Rewind 50, another new UFO album (A Conspiracy of Stars), and tours scheduled with both bands leading well into 2015.
After fifty years on the boards, Raymond shows no signs of slowing down, and in fact, he's playing as well as ever, his singing voice has actually gotten stronger as the years have gone passing by, and he's looking great as he begins his second half century.
I caught up with Paul to discuss Rewind 50, and to catch up with the big end to 2014, so we agreed to stick with the new, and to then pick up this conversation again after the first of the year, at which time we'll focus on his long history with the legendary UFO, MSG, and the many legends attached to those classic rock institutions.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Paul Raymond has been supplying rock with style, class, and sophistication for nigh on fifty years, and with Rewind 50 he takes a loving look back on what he's delivered. It's a tasty take on a lot of great music that is a great joy to hear.
There are a few classics on tap that you'll know, but there's also a lot of chestnuts that will fill in some blanks, and some that will even further enlighten you to his great career with such rock stalwarts as UFO, MSG, Waysted, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, and even a never before heard Terry Reid song which is worth the price of admission alone for any true lover of rock.
The best parts of this record are the quality of the songwriting, and Raymond's gruff but soulfully sweet vocals. You can hear remnants of forty years next to Phil Mogg, and there's a large dose of classic British soul lurking in his smokey smooth voice. He's joined by some of the same mates that helped him record 2012's excellent Terms & Conditions album (See review here), and they provide more than competent support. This is one of 2014's more pleasant surprises.
Brian May's Red Special: The Story Of The Home-Made Guitar That Rocked Queen And The World is unquestionably the guitar book of the year.
Who knew that Brian May and his father actually built a custom winding machine with which to construct the pickups (later replaced with Burns Tri-Sonics) for the famed Red Special? Or that Brian actually let co-author Simon Bradley, and his longtime guitar technician and right hand man Pete Malandrone dismantle the Red Special for the purpose of photographing and documenting details for this spectacular book?