Tuesday, 18 February 2014

And another one...

The outstandingly brilliant Joe Bonamassa and the wonderful Beth Hart have made yet another track available for free download: Close To My Fire. Give them your email address and download gorgeously laid back track.


So what do you think of Beth's vocals?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Free Download: BethHart and Joe Bonamassa

Today is Beth Hart's birthday. Happy birthday Beth.

Somewhat unusually though, instead of getting presents for her birthday... she is giving a present to us. Namely, a free track from an album called Seesaw that she did with Joe Bonamassa. Specifically, you can give your email address in exchange for the title track.


So what are you waiting for? Go get a free download and celebrate Beth's birthday!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Review of the year

Distinct lack of blogging during 2013.

New Year Resolution: try to get back to at least one post a week. 

Proof of the pudding: Review of stuff added to my iPod in 2013

Introduction (by way of an excuse)

First off, not a lot of new albums. This is due to a combination of too little time and more importantly, too little money. As a result, most of the additions are charity shop purchases. But here's what I did add, in the order of addition. 

Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy (Remastered)
Very pleased to find this in a charity shop early in January 2013. It's an album that I have never owned, not even on vinyl, but one I always intended to get. I was familiar with most of the songs but it is always good to hear stuff in the order decided when it was first released and in relation to the other stuff on album. It is not my favourite Zeppelin album (my favourite is Led Zeppelin I in case anybody is interested) but well worth having. It has a great track to kicking off with in The Song Remains The Same and a very strong finish in No Quarter and The Ocean.

Miss The Occupier - Keeping Company With Wolves
I have featured Miss The Occupier in this blog before and declared a possible source of bias (I know Roz, the lead singer and bass player). I picked up a copy of this album at the launch gig back in March. the addition of keyboards to their sound is interesting. For me the stand out track is Song For The Miserable which, among other things, gives the lie to Roz's claim to be a vocalist rather than a singer!

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
Another charity shop purchase. Mr Plant's voice still sounds great but Ms Krauss' vocals don't really grab me. Having said that, Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On) is well worth a listen. 
Slash is an outstandingly good guitarist with a talent for creating memorable riffs. Myles Kennedy is an awesome vocalist able to bring power and emotion to his performance. What's not to like about this album? My favourite tracks from the previous Slash album, R&Fn'R were Back From Cali and By The Sword, both of which featured Mr Kennedy, so I was pleased when I heard he was the only vocalist on this album. Having all the featured vocalists on R&Fn'R was fun but settling on the one vocalist this time made it feel more consistent. There's not a duff track on the album so picking a favourite is tricky. Anastasia is good, but if pushed, I'd probably choose You're A Lie.

The Temperance Movement - Pride EP
Another band where I have to admit to a personal connection - I kent his faither. By "his faither" I mean I know the lead singer's father, and I also know his wee brother, although I have lost touch with both of them. The lead singer is a chap called Phil Campbell and I've followed him from when he was a solo artist, when he was in a group and then solo again... but the stuff he is doing with the Temperance Movement is just outstanding and, for me, this is the best I've heard from him yet. In particular, Only Friend is stunning. First time I heard it was on the radio. At the time, I didn't know Phil was in the band and I assumed it was a cover of an old Blues song. It was only when Inlooked it up that I discovered who the lead singer was and that they had written it themselves. Their new album is still on my wish list - with a bit of luck, I'll get it for my birthday. :-)

I would count myself a fan of Genesis, but more the classic Gabriel era Genesis; I lost patience a bit with them when Collins took over vocal duties. I have most of the Genesis albums but don't have all of the ones produced after Gabriel left. In particular, I never bothered getting Calling All Stations because it was panned by one and all. Picked it up in a charity shop though and it's much better than I thought it would be. It is closer to old-style prog Genesis than the immediately preceding pop Genesis - I suspect that's why it didn't do so well when it was released. It's not a great album but it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. There are no five star tracks but four out of eleven tracks rated at four star makes it better than many I have in my iTunes collection!

Hayseed Dixie - Let There Be Rockgrass
Hayseed Dixie featured in my When musical worlds collide post in 2009 but it was only last year, when I came across this album in a charity shop, that I finally got around to listening to more than the odd track. They don't disappoint. Perhaps the key to a good musical spoof is that the spoof has to be good. That is, it works best when the people doing the spoof are not just mocking something but are good at what they do and have a love for the music that they are creating and aping. It seems to me that Hayseed Dixie manage that balancing act perfectly. They are clearly good musicians and perform the Bluegrass style songs with skill and passion. But they also seem to love the rock music they are covering while managing to avoid a stifling reverence for it. For me, the standout track is Highway to Hell - I think Bon Scott would have loved it!

That's all for now. It is already a longer post than I intended. I still have a few more albums that I added to my collection in 2013 but I will try and do another post about them soon.

What were the stand our additions to your music collection in 2013?

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas!

First of all, a Happy Christmas to you all. It has been so long since I posted here, I'm not sure anyone will read this but Happy Christmas anyway!

For the last few years I have posted a special Advent version of Free Download Friday offering links to free festive music on the four Fridays before Christmas. This year, I managed two Free Download Fridays and no Advent downloads. Sorry. I did, however, collect a few good freebies, so I offer them here as a Christmas present.

1) Joe Bonamassa
Another year, and another Christmas download from Joe. Perhaps not as strong as previous offerings (no longer available, but you can read about them in my previous post) but a new track from Mr Bonamassa is always worth a listen. You can download it from his website in exchange for enduring a particularly bizarre web page!


2) Hayseed Dixie
Thanks to my colleague, Mr Mosh, for this link... I posted a video of Hayseed Dixie back in 2009 but they have never featured in this blog as a free download. But just in time for Christmas, they posted links on their facebook page to two Christmas tracksWhite Trash Xmas is good and well worth a listen but Misty Wonderland Hop is outstanding! Download it now and put it on repeat for the rest of Christmas - you'll thank me later.

3) Roadrunner Records
At a time when free downloads are becoming harder to find, it's great to see that Roadrunner Records is still making tracks available on a semi-regular basis. This year, it looks like the main free download (well, the one featured on the front page of the UK site) is No Presents For Christmas from King Diamond. After a deceptively traditional start, it soon launches into its full metal glory! As well as the this track, they have also "re-released" Black Stone Cherry's Santa Claus Is Back In Town which is outrageously good! The sweartastic X-M@$ from Corey Taylor is also available for free but I'll leave you to find that one yourself. (This is a family friendly blog after all!) Finally, while looking around to see what else is available, I found a track from 2012 that I obviously missed last year that is still available for download: Royal Republic have an acoustic cover of Chris Rea's classic Driving Home For Christmas. The sound quality is a bit tinny but it is still a good track.

4)  For everyone else
I realise that the three sets of download above will not be to everyone's taste, so here are a few alternatives where hopefully there will be something for everyone.

  • CBC's Twelve Days Of Christmas: thirteen tracks to choose from. I like The Little Drummer Boy from Walk Off The Earth and I Believe In Father Christmas from Moist but my favourite by a long stretch is the boogie-woogie piano version of Winter Wonderland from Michael Kaeshammer (see video below). 
  • Paste Holiday Sampler 2013: Fourteen tracks in this one. My favourite is Children Go Where I Send Thee from Nick Lowe but I like the submissions from Otis Redding, Little Hurricane and The Last Bison too.
  • Classical guitar - Craig Ogden: A beautiful version of Deck The Halls.

That's it for this year. Merry Christmas and, in the words of Tiny Tim: God bless us every one!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Free Download Friday #136; Roadrunner Records at Download

After a very long gap, and after my first post in ages on Thursday, I decided it was long past time for a new Free Download Friday.

So, here is another download from the ever reliable Roadrunner Records. As they have done for the last couple of years, they have released a free sampler album with a track from each of their acts that are playing Download this year.

It's brilliant idea, as I've remarked before, and I don't understand why more labels don't do this. Festivals have oodles of bands and it can't be easy to decide who you want to see. So, putting out a sampler to let people who are unfamiliar with your roster hear what your acts are like is a no-brainer. If they like what they hear, they are more likely to go and hear!

The tracks and artists on offer are as follows:
  1. Absolute Zero - Stone Sour
  2. Black Tongue - Mastodon
  3. Bruane Brenn - Kvelertak
  4. Witchtripper - Down
  5. Live It Up - Airbourne
  6. Anastasia - Slash
  7. White Trash Millionaire - Black Stone Cherry
  8. In Due Time - Killswitch Engage
  9. Ghost Walking - Lamb Of God
  10. Chaos Lives In Everything (feat. Skrillex) - Korn
Ten tracks for free. Welcome back to Free Download Friday!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Rush - Clockwork Angels Tour

It's been far too long since I updated this blog but I cannot let the Rush concert in Glasgow last Thursday go by without comment.

Rush, SECC Glasgow, 30 May 2013 by DavidDMuir
Rush, SECC Glasgow, 30 May 2013,
a photo by DavidDMuir on Flickr.
Let's get the obvious out the way first. it was awesome!

I first saw them in concert in 1978 at the Glasgow Apollo for the Farewell To Kings tour and I often cite that as my favourite gig ever but I think Thursday's concert may well knock the '78 concert off the top spot. Why do I say that? Was it the light show? Was it the back projection? Was it the fireworks? Certainly, the shows have become more spectacular as the years have gone by, and the current show is possibly their most pyrotechnic yet, but explosions alone do not a great show make...

With Rush concerts, it's always been about the musicianship... at least, that's what it's been for me. Every time I see them live, I am astonished at how faithfully the three of them reproduce the sounds from their studio albums in a concert setting. Can I say that again? Three of them. On stage. Live! No studio trickery for support. Just three outstanding musicians working together to produce something that many bands twice their size (and nowadays half their age) would struggle to match! But what made this tour special was, not only did we have at least ninety minutes of the three of them working wonders by triggering samples and playing synthesisers with what ever spare limb wasn't already involved in playing their "main" instrument, we also had about an hour of Rush playing along with a string section. And the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble did what I would have said was impossible; they made Rush sound even better than usual!

The set list is embedded below:


As you can see, The Clockwork Angels String Ensemble played for most of the second set, which is where Rush played almost the whole of the Clockwork Angels album, but they also played along with Dreamline, Red Sector A and YYZ. Now, YYZ in particular, I have heard them play live umpteen times but I don't think it has ever sounded better than it did last week with the string ensemble rocking it up behind Rush.




Final Thoughts
As I sat in the SECC waiting for the concert to begin feeling stupidly excited, I thought back to my first Rush gig where I felt just as stupidly excited. What is it about Rush that can make a fat fifty year old man feel like a teenager again? What ever it is, long may it continue!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Academic Research

I did consider seeking funding for Rock related research some time ago (see Hazardous headbanging!) but as usual I didn't go any further than the, "Wouldn't it be a good idea..." stage.

But there is clearly research money out there for those who are willing to bid for it. See for example the wonderful Moshers, Heavy Metal and Emergent Behavior report on the MIT Technology Review site.

In the unlikely event that readers of this blog are unfamiliar with the concept of mosh pits, someone has helpfully defined some rules:


I like the way he describes some mosh pits as "Fight Club with a soundtrack!". (The first rule of Fight Club prevents me from explaining this if you don't get it already.) See also How To Survive A Mosh Pit.

So what do you think? What research idea could I pitch that will convince someone to fund me to attend concerts? If you come up with a winning idea, I am willing to give you a co-author credit on the paper!