Saturday, February 13, 2010

David Bowie: A Reality Tour

David Bowie (born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947 in Brixton, London, England, United Kingdom) is an iconic English singer, songwriter and musician. David Bowie has hardly been heard or seen in the past five years, popping up only as a kind of sonic shadow, a backing vocalist on a handful of tracks by friends and new favorites, including Arcade Fire, David Gilmour, Alicia Keys, Scarlett Johansson and TV On The Radio.

David Bowie’s greatest hits live!” reads the sticker on the attractive packaging of this newly released, but recorded back in 2003, two-CD set. And nobody’s going to be complaining that the promise isn’t delivered, as Bowie – backed by a solid yet flexible band that hits each peak with precision – runs through elegant renditions of his most-pervasive successes. Under Pressure, Rebel Rebel, Ashes to Ashes, Ziggy Stardust, All the Young Dudes: all present and correct.

Like R.E.M.’s recent Live at the Olympia set, A Reality Tour was recorded in Dublin; the crew must come cheap. That, or fans in the Irish capital are simply unbeatable. The latter argument for the recording location is supported somewhat by the accompanying credits: after listing the various musical contributors, the emotionally charged audiences at the Point Depot” are acknowledged. And there’s no doubt those in attendance make themselves heard, though such is the high-quality mixing work on this release that their vociferous appreciation is kept at a distance until such a time as a roar is absolutely key.

With 33 tracks stretching well over two hours, A Reality Tour isn’t exactly suited to single-sitting listening. It’s also far from a genuine greatest hits collection, though it certainly does feature a number of Bowie’s most-loved songs. But it is a great document of one of the world’s most inspirational recording artists – and performers – proving that age can’t quench the man’s desire to create, communicate and, ultimately, entertain. A maverick talent whose place in the pop annals was assured long ago, Bowie’s continuing hunger sets a fabulous example for the up-and-coming could-be-‘Heroes’ crowd.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

How To Reduce Feedback When You Play

If you've performed live on stage or even a casual jam with your friends at band practice -- one of the most annoying things guitarists have is a thing called FEEDBACK!

If you don't know what feedback is -- it's that terrible high pitched sound that comes from speakers.

It usually happens when you place your microphone too close to the speaker or play your guitar directly in front of the amplifier.

Not only does this damage your ears, but it puts your audience off when they come to hear you play! Now I'm not an expert on the dynamics of feedback. But I have performed on stage many times and have learnt a few tricks to avoid feedback from occurring...

The first step is to turn down your treble on your amplifier. Too much treble invites feedback so don't have too much treble in your amplifier settings.

The second step is to turn the volume on your guitar up only 3/4. Don't turn your volume up full as this is invites huge feedback! Always leave a little room on your volume, so don't turn it up all the way. Only 3/4 and I guarantee you will reduce feedback at least 80% with this trick.

One other trick is to turn down the gain or distortion on your amp. When you play softly, you can turn your gain or distortion full. But when you start playing with some serious volume, turn your gain only 50%.

You will still get the same sound and distortion, but this is the trick to avoiding feedback from occurring when you play loudly.

Finally, if you're using an effects pedal, only turn it up 3/4 the way. Like your guitar -- always leave a bit of leeway as it offers more control over the sound and keeps your playing tight!

Remember this -- if you keep control of your volumes, you reduce the level of feedback and have a much tighter sound as an over all band. If you turn everything up full and try to rule the world -- you'll sound a mess and out of control.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Heart - Crazy On You

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big hotel turn your lights on

The title of this entry is part of the chorus of a well known Steve Miller song. Wait, it's not? Well according to the younger sister of a friend of my wife it is. How about Big ole jet airliner? That's more like it!

The mystery of rock and roll song lyrics has been around for.... well as long as rock and roll. I think the occasional drug induced haze, from either the listener or the performer, (or both) has magnified the issue. How about; "Excuse me while I kiss this guy". That sound you're hearing is Jimi Hendrix spinning in his grave. "There's a bathroom on the right". I don't think that is what John Fogerty was really trying to say. "Dirty deeds and the Dunder Chiefs". This one, actually "Dirty deeds done dirt cheap", is straight from Tom Griswald of the Bob and Tom show. He thought that was the chorus for many years.

How about one of the most famous album sides of all time, "In a Gadda da Vida"? In this case the lead singer of Iron Butterfly, Doug Ingle, while drunk or high (or both) allegedly slurred the words of the actual title and lyric "In a Garden of Eden". The result, one of the earliest and most endearing heavy metal songs of all time. By the way Mr. Ingle also wrote the song with its "proper" title. Just goes to show you, sometimes misinterpretation is a good thing.

Please share your unique lyrics as you see fit. Until next time, keep on rockin.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Band - The Weight

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Band

On February 28, 1969 The Band made their live debut at the Winterland in San Francisco. The Band began backing up Bob Dylan in 1965 calling themselves The Hawks at that time. They were very influential in taking Dylan "electric" which of course was a very controversial event at the time. Singer/drummer Levon Helm did not participate in Dylan's 1965-1966 world tour for reasons unknown to me. The relationship continued throughout 1966 with Dylan and The Hawks, now named The Band, collaborating in casual sessions at a rented house in Woodstock New York (yes that Woodstock although the actual Woodstock concert was not really held in Woodstock). These sessions eventually would wind up on a Dylan album called The Basement Tapes. The Band also recorded a number of original songs that were released on the album Music From Big Pink and also on side four of The Basement Tapes. A little trivia for you. The album Big Pink received its name from the garish pink color of the Woodstock house.

Big Pink debuted in August of 1968 with songs that contained the eclectic backwoods style of The Band that was to become their trademark. Most of the songs were written by guitarist Robbie Robertson including the enduring classic "The Weight" (which is one of my favorite tunes of all time). The album received both popular and critical acclaim an in my opinion was one of the most influential albums of the late 1960's.

The LP The Band followed in 1969 with more great songs such as The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (you thought Joan Baez wrote it didn't you) and Up on Cripple Creek. This album was arguably their best work with the vocal harmonies being one of the items I appreciate most about the album. Stage Fright followed in 1970 with Cahoots in 1971. Other albums followed in the early 1970's before The Band performed their memorable last concert titled The Last Waltz in 1976, once again at The Winterland Ballroom. An all star cast performed at the concert including Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and of course Bob Dylan. The Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

That is all for this time. As always I welcome your thoughts and comments. Keep on rockin' in the free world.