Friday, 25 February 2011

Free Music Friday #90: Just Another Rider

If I am asked about the kind of music I like, I normally describe myself as a Rock fan who is discovering the Blues. So, I surprised myself the other day when I named a Blues guitarist as my favourite (see Who is your favourite guitarist?).

Given my current appreciation of the Blues, it seemed appropriate to feature a Blues/Rock veteran in a Free Download Friday. Gregg Allman has recently released Low Country Blues and it is a belter! It is mostly covers with one original song that he co-wrote with Warren Haynes and to whet your appetite, they are giving it away as a free download:

Gregg Allman - Just Another Rider by MMMusic

While you are waiting for it to download, you can watch Gregg perform it in the studio:

His voice is brilliant and there's a real soulful quality to the track. I'd say it's one of my favourites on Low Country Blues but the there's not a duff track on the whole album!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Who is your favourite guitarist

I have now had four guitar lessons and week three was the best fun yet as I was given twelve bar Blues (in various keys) and Johnny B. Goode to practice for homework; my first real tunes. Excellent!

The finished product
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
What triggered this post though, was a throw away comment from my teacher, Les. He said something along the lines of, "If you said to me that you wanted to sound like your favourite guitarist, then...". I'm ashamed to say I tuned out of the next bit because I started thinking, "Who is my favourite guitarist?".

On the face of it, you would think it was a fairly simple question. If, for example, I was asked to name my favourite band, the answer, without a moments thought, would be, Rush. If I was asked for a favourite drummer, it's Neil Peart - no question. Favourite bass player - silly question. Nobody has a favourite bass player. (Or at least nobody important, so we can safely ignore them.) But favourite guitarist... I'm finding that tricky.

One issue is a question of style. Are we talking Rock, or Metal, or Blues, or... Here are some examples and contenders to make my point:

I still remember hearing Van Halen's debut album for the first time (I bought it on cassette!). I was simply stunned by Eruption - 1 minute 42 seconds worth of guitar genius. I'm still hugely impressed with it, so does that make Eddie Van Halen my favourite? Well perhaps. At least he might be until I listen to John Lee Hooker who is perhaps the complete antithesis of Eddie's finger tapping pyrotechnics but a single-note solo from Mr Hooker, accompanied by foot-stomping and moans can blow the flashier competition out of the water with its power and emotional depth. Then moving sideways to Chris Whitley, we have a sparse, almost discordant guitar sound that can be achingly beautiful. Or there's Stevie Ray Vaughan (who I first heard on a single by David Bowie), and Clapton, and Hendrix, and Page, and Young, and ... the list goes on. How are you supposed to pick a favourite?

If I pick a favourite today, it is likely to change tomorrow. But if you force me to pick one, just now I'd probably go for Joe Bonamassa. I like the way his solos flow naturally out of the music so they don't feel tacked on as an afterthought. He is steeped in the Blues but he knows his Rock and isn't afraid to experiment and explore other genres. And he is frighteningly prolific!

So, today, it is Mr Bonamassa. Tomorrow, who knows?

Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just me? Who is your favourite?

Friday, 18 February 2011

Free Music Friday #89: Dust Bowl

Thanks to a Tweet from @JayeRHill last week, I was alerted to another free download from Joe Bonamassa. (Do I need to remind you of how much I like Joe Bonamassa?)

Originally uploaded by Joanie H
Jaye thought the free offer was time limited to last weekend but the good news is, it looks like it's not to late to get it. Just go to the Dust Bowl Download page, enter an email address and within a few minutes you could be downloading a track from his still to be released album.

And what a track it is! It is
outstandingly good. Wonderful bass line, twanging guitar riff and some great solos from Mr Bonamassa.

My only problem with the track is, the twanging guitar. It's not that I don't like it. Quite the reverse. I really like it. It's just that it reminds me of something else... but I can't place what it reminds me of. Most annoying.

Twang, twang, dwanggg!

I keep singing it to myself in the hope that I'll remember but so far, no joy. Can anyone help me out?

That aside, I cannot recommend this track highly enough. Very much looking forward to hearing the rest of this album.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Free Music Friday #88: Glasvegas

I featured Glasvegas in a free download from iTunes, which they gave way on the run up to Christmas 2009 (see Free Download Friday #39: iTunes Holiday Sampler). The Glasvegas track was one of my favourites on this EP.

I had featured the band in an earlier post (see Free Download Friday #21: Glasvegas) and I liked what I heard from the band so much, I bought their album. This d├ębut album was released in 2008 and since then... not a lot but at last, a new album is on its way. It will be released in April of this year and revels in name of EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\ (I guess it seemed like a good idea to the band!) April is still some way off, so to whet our appetites, they are giving away a free track. It is called The World Is Yours, and you can listen to it below:

I love the vocals, and the drums, and... well, I really like the track! And, as a techie aside, I like the comment track in the player widget. It seems to be provided by SoundCloud - a site that I'll have to spend some time exploring.

So, how do you download the track? Just go to the download page on the Glasvegas site, sign up for their newsletter and Flo's your auntie.

What do you think of this new track? Are you looking forward to the release of their second album?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Gary Moore (1952-2011)

I am sure other people will do this better than I can, but I wanted to mark the sad passing of Gary Moore with a brief thought or two.

I think I first became aware of Gary Moore when he was in Thin Lizzy at the time they released the Black Rose album and I saw him play with them on the Black Rose tour at the legendary Glasgow Apollo. I think Black Rose is Thin Lizzy's most commercially successful album and remains my favourite. It was because of this album that I started to pay attention to what Gary Moore did post Lizzy and I think it is fair to say that he is one of the main reasons that this teenage Rock fan started listening to the Blues.

I couldn't find any video of Black Rose era Lizzy but I did find this great footage of Gary Moore playing Black Rose with Scott Gorham and Brian Downey:

Rock, Blues and Celtic influences and Gary and Scott having a blast.

Thank you Gary.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Free Music Friday #87: Let Joy Be Unconfined

Much has been made of the fact that Robert Plant has chosen to call his latest venture Band of Joy - the name of the band that he was in with John Bonham before they both joined Led Zeppelin. It is suggested that he is snubbing the idea of a Led Zeppelin re-union by re-claiming the name of his pre-Zeppelin band. Hmm! Not convinced.

Whatever the reasons for his choice of name, his latest release has been receiving a lot of positive critical comment and, if this free track from the album is anything to go by, the praise is much deserved:

At one level, the track on offer - Central Two-O-Nine, is an old style Blues number with uncertain origin (where uncertain=much discussed). So clear return to roots then? Arguably a return to Led Zepplin's roots. There is, however, a banjo working way in the track along with the acoustic guitar giving the track a bit of a country feel that hints at Mr Plant's more recently expressed interest in wider aspects of Americana.

I like this track. I like it a lot. I wasn't really tempted to buy the album he did with Alison Krauss, but I think I'll give this one a go.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Record Industry and MP3 downloads

I have had the occasional rant on this blog about the stupidity of the music industry (see for example these posts). It seems they adopt either a head in the sand or a headless chicken approach whenever online music distribution is mentioned. Apparently they still don't understand music fans or how to make money from online distribution (make it easy to access and cheap to buy - at least that's what I think). It may be though that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The article, Universal and Sony to change singles release policy, from the BBC website says that two major UK labels are going to end the practice of releasing music for radio airplay long before it is available for purchase. I don't know if this will really make much of an impact on illegal downloading (it could be too little to late - the bad downloading habits may be too firmly entrenched) but it seems an emminately sensible idea anyway and I hope it catches on.

Of course, it is not really a new idea, it a return to old practice because it's the way it used to work when I was a lad. The policy of building up interest and pre-orders by playing a tune on the radio for a long time before release has led to the phenomenon of records appearing high in the chart one week and then dropping like a stone the next. Hopefully, simultaneous release will allow records to build slowly and climb the charts over a period of time like they used to. It could even make the charts more interesting than the have been of late.

So, I think it's a good idea even if it doesn't impact on piracy. But if they announce next that they are dropping the price of legal downloads, I'll start looking for flying pigs.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? And do you think it will impact on piracy?