Thursday, 30 September 2010

Rush + Guitar Hero = Genius!

When I first heard that the Rush album 2112 was to be featured in a Guitar Hero game, I assumed it would be one track or section off the album along with a load of tracks from other bands. Oh me of little faith! The truth is much more interesting.

They are featuring the whole of 2112 in a game and building a quest around the this seminal piece. For more information, check out this article from The Rolling Stone and watch this video:

Some people get a bit sniffy about Guitar Hero and complain that it would be better if people picked up a real guitar. I think people who complain like this are numpties! It's not supposed to be a tuition program; it's a game! Guitar Hero may not have created a new generation of guitarists but what it has done, is introduce a whole new generation of people to some classic Rock tracks. And, if this 2112 themed game gets more people listening to Rush that can only be a good thing... in my humble opinion.

As a music fan what do you think about Guitar Hero? If you are a guitarist, or a guitar tutor, what do you think of games like this? Good, bad or indifferent?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Free Download Friday #71: Trent Reznor

Mr Reznor if giving stuff away again...

As seems to becoming increasingly common, the download is made available in exchange for your email. This time it's a five track EP with a selection of songs from a film soundtrack that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross worked on that is being made available.

The film is called The Social Network and is a "based on a true story" (i.e. "we made it up") about the founders of facebook. It seems to be getting good reviews from cinema goers on IMDB but I suspect it is not the sort of film that will provoke much excitement in other members of the Muir family, so I'll probably have to wait for the DVD to see it.

Back to the music though. It is very much soundtrack music in that it doesn't draw attention to itself (which is as it should be). It is also a bit more laid back, not so in your face, as Nine Inch Nails. But the songs are strong on atmosphere and I can see them working well in the context of a film.

I like them all, but my favourite is the first track on the EP: Pieces Form the Whole.

While you are there downloading the soundtrack, have a look at what else is available. It looks like you can still download two Nine Inch Nails albums (The Slip and Ghosts I-IV) as well as an album from a Trent Reznor side project called How To Destroy Angels all of which are great.

Plenty for you to download and explore.

P.S. It's not that long ago that Jeff from Totally Free Music would have beaten me the punch with a NIN download. His blog has been very quiet of late. I know that he was planing some time out. I hope he is doing OK.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Free Download Friday #70: Amazon MP3s

I used to see Tweets and links on a semi-regular basis promising free downloads from Amazon. Unfortunately, when I followed the links, they took me to Amazon USA and the downloads were unavailable in the UK.

However, Amazon UK are now giving away a number of free MP3 downloads and have a dedicated page listing the currently available crop. Huzzah!

Tom Jones
Originally uploaded by itzpapalotl
The stand-out track for me (and I never thought I'd hear myself say this) is from Tom Jones! Now if you are thinking Delilah - forget that. Or if you are thinking of the more modern covers like Kiss - forget that too! The track on offer is called Burning Hell and is from his new album Praise & Blame. I have heard rumours that the record company was worried by this album when he delivered it to them because it was such a departure from what he had done before. If this is true, it is further proof that record company executives are idiots!

The album comprises largely of gospel covers and reminds me more of Johnny Cash than of Tom Jones. Burning Hell is an outstanding track. I have never bought a Tom Jones album (although over the years I've acquired some of his classic tracks) but on the strength of this track, I am very tempted to get Praise & Blame. Burning Hell has a stripped down production with raw bluesy guitar and drums with Sir Tom Jones groaning the lyrics with passion and power. Take it away Tom: "I'm goin' down to the church house, get down on bended knee..."

Other tracks on the Amazon free download page that I think are worth listening to include:
And five tracks from Bush:
But the standout track is Burning Hell. Download it, and download it now!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Band iPhone Apps #2: Spınal Tap

This is the second post in a sequence leading up to a review of the Rush iPhone App. The first post, Band iPhone Apps #1: Peter Gabriel, was some weeks ago but hopefully I'll manage to find time to do the rest without such a large gap between posts. (Famous last words!)

Originally uploaded by Der Ohlsen
This review is of the Spınal Tap App. If you've never hear of Spınal Tap, I would strongly recommending that you beg, borrow or buy a copy of This Is Spınal Tap, a mockumentary about a fictional heavy metal band... Well, I say "fictional" but they have released a number of albums and have toured and played bigger venues than some real bands.

Recently, they released an album called Back From The Dead which is supposed to be a reunion album to mark the 25th anniversary of the making of the film. It is described as "unwigged and unplugged". Brilliant! This app is connected with the Back From The Dead album and tour. It has seven (full) tracks from the band and you can comment on the tracks and share the fact that your listening to them on the iPhone App by text, Twitter, facebook, etc. As well as the music there is a fan wall (where you can leave messages and photos), and a news section (although the most recent "news" is a year old). Finally, there is a More... section with Photos, Videos, a discography, biography and more.

It's not without its problems, for example, the outdated news section and the fact that most of the links to the videos are broken. However, for the price (free) it is still well worth checking out. And if you really want to see the videos (and more beside) they seem to be available on the Tap's YouTube channel.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Free Download Friday #69: From

I am a long time user of (although I've not been particularly active of late - other than Scrobbling what I listen to on my iPod) and although I have posted about before, I've not passed on any of their free downloads for a while. This post fixes that!

Miss The Occupier
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
First up is Miss the Occupier - the band with my wife's friend in it. is offering Dead Pirates as a free download. Not as strong as The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, in my humble opinion, but jolly good nonetheless. Jangly guitars and vocals with attitude.

Nine Inch Nails are another band I've featured here before and they have, Me, I'm Not (grimmless mix), available on It is a very sparse arrangement which really only features Trent's vocals and a muted piano track. Despite the lack of noisy guitars and industrial noise - I like this mix.

And while you are checking out the remixed track, you could also try In This Twilight (Collapse) another remix of a Nine Inch Nails track and also available as a free download. This one has a much bigger sound - lots of ambient keyboards under the vocals. Two contrasting views of NIN - both available for free.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Free Download Friday #68: I'll get my cape...

Warning: It's going to get a bit prog this week!

Do you remember AOL? We used to call it Internet Lite and you could have built a small mansion from the free AOL CDs that seemed to fall out of every magazine you picked up. I assumed that it had just withered in the face of the rise of broadband and "proper" Internet providers.

Well, it seems they are still about in some form because this week I found my way to the AOL Radio Blog and in particular, the Free MP3 Downloads they offer. Loads of stuff here and they seem to have started a Free Music Tuesday feature that I'll have to keep an eye on.

Here are some of the downloads that caught my eye:


Hawkwind were the first band I saw live in concert (see Concert Memories #01: Hawkwind - I must get on with writing more of these concert memories!). AOL are offering Inner Visions from a new album called Blood Of The Earth. Look for the Download Free MP3 link on the AOL site underneath the brief paragraph describing the band. It is a direct link to the mp3 file. And talking about the "brief paragraph", I love their description of the track:
"This song features trippy keyboards and what sounds like an attack from video game spaceships."
If you have never heard Hawkwind, this is a great introduction. They more or less invented Space Rock, and the Inner Visions track is an excellent example of that genre. My copy of Quark, Strangeness and Charm will definitely feature in today's playlist!

Steve Hackett

I make no secret of my love for Gabriel era Genesis and Steve Hackett is from the same vintage - a key player in defining that early Genesis sound. The track on offer from AOL is Fire On The Moon. (From Space-rock to Fire On The Moon...Do you see what I did there?) This is an outstandingly good track. Quiet, contemplative start and then the chorus kicks in! Big drums, atmospheric keyboards, bombastic bass line, vox humana, kitchen sink... and about halfway through a great guitar solo from Mr Hackett (with the promise of another to come at the end).

My only problem is the vocals are slightly weak but otherwise this is a great track. Well worth the price of a free download!


An artist of a similar vintage is Asia.

I really like Yes and therefore have always felt that I ought to like Asia more than I do... But somehow they never grab me. This track, Finger On The Trigger, is good but I'm not sure it inspires me enough to go and look for songs I'd have to pay for.

And finally...

Now for something completely different.

I'm not sure why I had a listen to Kings X. The name sounded familiar but when I looked at my iTunes collection I didn't have anything of their songs. (Perhaps I got confused with Symphony X?) However, this track, from Kings X, Alright, I really like! Much more of a straight-forward rock track although according to Wikipedia, the band have prog metal leanings. I'm very tempted to go and find the album this came from and see what the rest of the tracks are like.

Any other suggestions?

That's my pick from the current crop of AOL free downloads. What tracks catch your eye?