Jack White’s Blunderbuss Thus Far….

I haven’t been this enthusiastic to acquire an artist’s solo recording in years. I downloaded Jack Whites Blunderbuss from Apple iTunes today. I opened this unique bottle of  wine with a wide-eyed rapture . I smelled the cork and poured the first song, “Missing Pieces” into my waiting glass. The tantalizing audio sensations swirled among my taste buds. I was breaking new ground and life would never be the same.

Songs about the aftermath of the heart can take on powerful meanings, the last stanza of “Missing Pieces” epitomizes how the dust hasn’t settled for Jack White and someone he was once with….

Sometimes someone controls everything about you

And when they tell you that they just can’t live without you

They ain’t lyin’, they’ll take pieces of you

And they’ll stand above you and walk away

That’s right and take a part of you with them

© 2012 Third Man Records

Jack White’s music is richly inventive, avidly presenting scenarios for the mind to process and interpret.  The collective body of work, Blunderbuss is edgy, challenging, yet  extremely well stated. You find yourself swept along a current of emotions gladly losing your trepidation in exchange for new-found meanings.

The next song, “Sixteen Saltines” grounds the listener in the sensations Jack White has premiered with his boy band. It rocks right out at ya. The song is comfortable and familiar due to the significant airplay its been receiving. A wine taster would call this “cleansing the palate” for more wine to be senses and tasted next…

“Freedom At 21”  the third track is a cosmic rocker, real upper stratosphere stuff. It keeps the fuse burning strong from the energy created by “Sixteen Saltines”.

The fourth track, “Love Interruption” commences next. This was the first song from Blunderbuss that I witnessed Jack White and his female band première on Saturday Night Live. When I hear it now I am inclined to compare it to the Robert Plant/ Alison Krauss collaboration, Raising Sand.

Realize these are just four of the 13 tracks known as Blunderbuss but one should never rush the delicacy of fine wine, its best to give it time to breathe and savor, so this review will continue after more Blunderbuss wine tasting occurs over the next few days….

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Asia 30th Anniversary Album and World Tour

I admire the tenacity of the band Asia. They are very committed to the longevity of their music and global audience.

Asia announced today that they are assembling a 30 year anniversary world tour. Asia will also release a new studio album “XXX” with the original line-up: Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer & John Wetton on July 3rd in the US.

Their Connecticut dates later in the year include The Ridgefield Playhouse on October 23rd and Mohegan Sun on October 25th.

The new album, produced by Mike Paxman, has been hailed as Asia’s best album since its classic early 80s releases. The album will be released on CD, collector’s edition CD/DVD (featuring new music videos and behind the scenes footage), and on a limited edition vinyl.

The album’s first single, “Face on the Bridge,” will be available for download on May 14 and is already streaming online.

The Roger Dean, Year of the Water Dragon artwork for the new album and tour is stunning.

Record Store Day, April 21, 2012

Record Store Day
Record Store Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the ambiance and excitement that Record Store Day offers. I enjoy supporting the independent record store owner and the small retail chains. Record Store Day is my favorite shopping day of the year and in 2011 we had two Record Store Days, one in April and one on Black Friday.

It was my original intention to shop Record Store Day 2012 at Cutler’s in New Haven on Saturday. As luck would have it I had to be out-of-state in Massachusetts on Saturday for a company in-service and evening family plans elsewhere in Connecticut. Things weren’t looking promising to squeeze in some shopping time with extensive travel and plans.

I devised a new strategy for Record Store Day 2012. I used the Record Store Day locator on the Record Store Day Web site and located a Newbury Comics Record Store in Northampton, Massachusetts in direct line with my return trip on I-91. It was a new store for me and I wasn’t sure what their inventory would be or what I would find later in the afternoon on Saturday.

As luck would have it. I found the Newbury Comics store easily (thanks to Garmin GPS). They had a pretty well stocked Record Store Day section in the store. I debated over a couple of items (I plan to visit Cutler’s on Tuesday to complete my first goal…) and placed them back in the steps.

Here is the loot I purchased on Record Store Day 2012. Remember its all about the collectibles 😉

  1. Peter Tosh – Picture Disk – Legalize It as a Dub Club Mix! Echoldelic Remixes (4 different ones)
  2. Joey Ramone – Rock N Roll Is The Answer – 7″
  3. Kick Out The Jams – MC5/Afrika Bamnaataa – Colored Vinyl 7″ – Rhino
  4. Bruce Springsteen – Rocky Ground 7″
  5. The White Stripes – hand springs –  7″ Red Vinyl
  6. Respect – Otis Redding – Stax Volt  / Aretha Franklin – Atlantic 7″ Colored Vinyl
  7. Paul Revere & The Raiders – Ride Your Pony, B/W {You’re A] Bad Girl 7″ Red Vinyl
  8. Gary Clark Jr. Presents HWUL Raw Cuts Vol 1. 12″

The Last Waltz

Been thinking about Levon Helm and The Band these past few days. The best live concert movie is Martin Scorsese‘s film The Last Waltz.

“The late Jim Carroll once said that Levon Helm was the only drummer who could make you cry, and he was absolutely right,” the Oscar-winning director said in a statement to E! News. “Levon’s touch was so delicate, so deft, that he gave you more than just a beat—he gave the music a pulse. And his high, ringing voice was just as soulful. His bandmate Robbie Robertson wrote “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” for Levon to sing, and I’ll never forget how moving it was to watch him sing it during their final performance at Winterland, which is one of the high points of the movie we made from that wonderful show…I consider myself fortunate to have worked with Levon, and I am one among many, many people who will miss him.”

 

 

Levon Helm Drums On Above Us, We Will Miss Him

We mourn the loss of drummer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Levon Helm. He waged a courageous fight against cancer.

I reflect upon when I first heard Levon Helm’s voice with The Band. It was on the vinyl recording, Music From Big PinkI borrowed that record from my wife Rosemary when were first dating in the spring of 1969.  We loved the song, “The Weight“. I wasn’t aware Levon Helm was the lead vocalist at the time. I thought of The Band collectively and that they were recording with Bob Dylan in Woodstock, NY.

In his autobiography This Wheel’s on Fire, Levon Helm explains that the people mentioned in the song were based on real people The Band knew. The “Miss Anna Lee” mentioned in the lyric is Helm’s longtime friend Anna Lee Amsden.[5][6]

Bob Dylan wrote of Levon Helm: “He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation. This is just so sad to talk about. I still can remember the first day I met him and the last day I saw him. We go back pretty far and had been through some trials together. I’m going to miss him, as I’m sure a whole lot of others will too.”

Rosemary and I saw Levon Helm perform live in concert twice. The first time he was part of the all-star orchestra ensemble for the 100 year Salute to the Blues at Radio City Music Hall. The concert was filmed for DVD and titled, Lightning In A Bottle. 

The last time we saw Levon Helm play was at the Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, Ct in 2009. He appeared with the Levon Helm Band. He was advised by his doctor not to sing that night so Bob Weir and others stepped up to that task for him.

Last night at The Lumineers concert in Fairfield at Stage One, we all sang in loving memory, “The Weight” as the last song of the night. It was fitting and just to send our voices up into the sky as the last song of the night. We became his voice adding to his legacy, as we celebrated this great musician who showed us so much  heart.

Cover of "Music From Big Pink"
Cover of Music From Big Pink

Where The Action is

Dick Clark’s impact on our musical tastes is powerful and long-lasting. In the summer of 1965, Dick Clark Productions produced a weekday afternoon television show that was broadcast on WABC-TV in the New York City metro market.  The program proved to be a precursor to MTV because it was a form of music television that featured video hit after video hit.

The show aired from 1965 through 1967.  Most of the telecasts, all of which were produced in black-and-white, were taped at various locales in Southern California. The Summer of Love in 1967 would shift Top 40 to album rock, as listener tastes matured and became more defined.

I was glued to the television set watching the artists perform in all those great sunny beach locations and amusement parks. The show developed a cast of music regulars featuring one of my mid-sixties favorites Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Here’s one of the hits they made famous on the show, Just Like Me from Spotify…

Paul Revere & The Raiders – Just Like Me

Paul Revere and the Raiders

It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it

Publicity photo of Dick Clark from his ABC rad...
Publicity photo of Dick Clark from his ABC radio show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was sad to learn this afternoon that a major hero in my life passed away. My wife texted me that Dick Clark had died. We owe so much to Dick Clark as a music impressario. We grew up watching and dancing with Dick Clark on American Bandstand. My favorite part of his show was when they would choose audience members and let them rate the latest 45 r.p.m. records. The classic response was, “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.”

Much will be written and remembered about Dick Clark in the ensuing days. He deserves much high praise for his vision for music broadcasting, his production efforts and his passionate enthusiasm for music. I loved how courageous he was in spite of his past stroke on national television every New Year’s Eve.

My warmest personal memory of Dick Clark took place one week night in 1976 at Bloomingdale’s in Stamford, Ct. My wife, my sister-in-law and I went to buy his book, Rock, Roll & Remember and get it signed by him. We never anticipated we would get such an exclusive audience with Dick Clark at  Bloomingdales. It was about 90 minutes before closing time when we found Dick Clark’s signing area in the store. We couldn’t believe our luck. Hardly anyone was there. The majority of book purchasers and fans had been in earlier that evening to see him. He was so cordial to us, we found him to be a very genuine and down to earth person. He let me talk with him for over an hour. He was genuinely interested in my college disk jockey experience and what I knew about music. We spoke at length about his shows American Top 40, S10,000 Pyramid, and the music broadcasting field. He was an engaging speaker and I listened to him intently, working actively to keep my hero-worship at bay. Dick Clark treated me as an equal, a fellow broadcaster (I was doing a Sunday radio show on WVOF-FM 88.5 at Fairfield University at that time). He thanked us for stopping in and for buying his book. He had a great smile. We considered ourselves fortunate that we got such quality time with Dick Clark.

Rock and Roll Heaven has the premier music host now. I can hear the echoes of American Bandstand playing as I write…

God Bless You Dick Clark. Our hearts go out to your spirit. We send your lovely wife and family our deep sympathy and prayers.