chris squire

Chris Squire, Prog-Rock demigod…

Chris Squire was not only a founding member of Yes and thus a Prog-Rock demigod – he was also one of the most gifted bassists in the history of rock….

Chris Squire with his Rickenbacker (image courtesy YesWorld.com)

By now most of you who pay attention to such things are aware that Chris Squire, a founding member of Prog-Rock legends Yes, died last night in Phoenix, AZ, of a rare form of leukemia. He was 67.

Squire was/is primarily known as a “player’s player,” a moniker I think he’d like to be remembered by and one any bass player with chops that regularly entered “how’d he do that?” territory certainly deserves.

Some 18 musicians and singers have been members of Yes since its formation in 1968. Numerous great guitarists, drummers, keyboardists, and vocalists have passed through the band.

They’ve had only one bass player. Continue reading

Lindemann’s “Praise Abort”: Saturday Video Roundup

Oh look, Till Lindemann from Rammstein has a new side project with Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy and Pain. What are the critics saying?

Pigs, blood, phlegm and characters right out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting alternatively play in morbid grime or on a virginal white stage. Heavy guitar sounds, dark choirs and driving drum beats surge in the background. The lyrics are laced with hatred: “I hate my life, and I hate you / … / I hate my kids, never thought / That I’d praise abort.”

Yeah, that sounds about right. So for SVR let’s watch the first video, and then celebrate Till’s genius with a couple of the high spots from his work with Rammstein. Strap in, bitches.

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neil-young vs donald-trump

Candidates ought to study copyright law before using artists’ music

Even if they buy licenses and win in court over artists’ objections, they’ll lose in the court of public opinion

neil-young vs donald-trumpby Carole McNall

Welcome to the 2016 season premiere of the popular reality show, “Stop Using My Music in Your Campaign.” This episode features Donald Trump, newly announced (as of June 16) presidential candidate, and Neil Young, crusty rocker and songwriter. The two swapped statements after Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” provided the soundtrack for Trump’s triumphant entry to his announcement event.
(The announcement event can be seen/heard here.)

My immediate reaction when I heard a news item about the announcement (including a bit of “Rockin'”): “This will not end well.” It didn’t. And it didn’t take long. By June 17, Young had issued a lengthy statement. It can be summed up in this paragraph, quoted on rollingstone.com:

“Music is a universal language, so I am glad that so many people with varying beliefs get enjoyment from my music, even if they don’t share my beliefs. But had I been asked to allow my music to be used for a candidate — I would have said no.” (Emphasis mine)

Oops.

One day later, Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told Rolling Stone, “We won’t be using it again … Continue reading

trump

Donald Trump angers Neil Young in latest GOP song appropriation gaffe

trumpThese are probably not the sort of stories that Donald Trump wanted to start off with:

The New York real estate mogul arrived on stage at his campaign kickoff announcement Tuesday as the sounds of Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” blared through the atrium at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. . . .

“Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement,” a statement from Young’s team read. “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.”

But, then again, The Donald seems to be of the school that believes that any publicity is good publicity as long as they spell your name right. Continue reading

Alan Turing

Turing’s time

Last night we attended the world premiere of Sentences, Nico Muhly’s homage to Alan Turing, composed as a performance by counter-tenor Iestyn Davies. It was a lovely performance, consisting of seven sections, each relating to an aspect of Turing’s life. As Muhly said earlier in the week, they didn’t want to put together a typical gay tragedy, and in this they succeeded. Time will tell, of course, how durable of piece of composition it really is, but the Barbican crowd certainly enjoyed it, giving both Muhly, who conducted the glorious Britten Sinfonia, and Davies several standing ovations.

The libretto was by Adam Gopnik, whose day job is as a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. In the program notes, Gopnik makes an interesting point—writing something new these days about Turing is like writing something new about Robin Hood. The myths have become so ingrained that’s it’s hard to come up with anything truly new. Turing has been not only rehabilitated, he’s nearly been canonized. Continue reading

Music and Popular Culture

Another Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Venting

We haven’t had a good Rock and Roll venting around here for a while, so here goes.

The 2015 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame took place a couple of months ago, and, let’s see, who’s in this year? Ringo Starr, The Five Royales, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Green Day, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Bill Withers. Compared to some other years, this isn’t a terrible list by any means. There are some good rock bands here, and some fine, if not particularly original, guitar work in Vaughan. I always thought Reed was over-rated as both a songwriter and a performer, but that’s probably just me—lots of people think he was really deep, and he had what a lot of non-New Yorkers thought was a New York attitude, or something. And I’m absolutely delighted about the (long, long overdue) induction of the Butterfield Blues Band. But Ringo Starr? As a solo performer? Really? Levon Helm was a much better drummer, put together much better All-Star bands, and he’s not in. What’s up with that? Well, Ringo is LA through and through, and Helm—upstate New York. There you go. Continue reading

Tournament of Rock: The 5280 – congratulations to Space Team Electra

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And the results are in. The vote was very tight – 52% to 48% – and the victor in the finals of the Tournament of Rock: The 5280 is the late great Space Team Electra. Congrats to Myshel, Bill, Greg and Kit, who are without questions one of the best bands I have ever heard. Many of you might not have heard of them, sadly, and if that’s the case you owe it to yourself to get your hands on a copy of The Vortex Flower or The Intergalactic Torch Song.

Major props are also due to runner-ups Fiction 8 – Mardi, Heather and our good friend Michael. Continue reading

Tournament of Rock

Tournament of Rock: The 5280 FINALS – Space Team Electra vs Fiction 8

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In our second semifinal Space Team Electra thumped Snake Rattle Rattle Snake to advance to the grand final.

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know what to tell you – these are my two favorite Colorado bands ever, I’m friends with both bands, and have even co-written some songs with one of them. There are no bad votes here.

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Music and Popular Culture

The great gig in the sky: relistening to Dark Side of the Moon

Dark Side of the Moon. Image courtesy of WikiMedia.

A friend told me last week that she had spent one night doing nothing but playing her guitar, working out the intro to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”

I don’t have much Pink Floyd in my musical library, and what I have is predictable: “Wish You Were Here,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” “Comfortably Numb” and the entirety of Dark Side of the Moon. Until last week, I hadn’t listened to Dark Side for years—decades, even—probably because I bought it when it came out in 1973 and had grown tired of it.

My friend’s work on “Wish You Were Here,” though, prompted me to listen to Dark Side again—with headphones, of course. It has held up well. A little too well. The song “Time” brought back a series of memories, none of them pleasant. Continue reading

Tournament of Rock: The 5280 – Space Team Electra vs Snake Rattle Rattle Snake

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In our first semifinal match Fiction 8 nipped Big Head Todd & the Monsters to advance to the finals.

Our second semi showdown features a band I have argued is the greatest in Colorado history vs a band that may well be the greatest of the present day (although that’s up to the voters to decide, init?). The bands have a lot in common. Both are fronted by riveting, enigmatic women. Both thrive on atmosphere and texture. And neither is afraid of the dark. Continue reading

S&R Honors: the Blues Boy, BB King

“Muddy Waters was born near Rolling Fork, Mississippi. And to me he’s a Mississippi person that went to Chicago and play[ed]. John Lee Hooker was born in Mississippi and went to Detroit. B.B. King was born in Mississippi and went to Memphis.” – B. B. King

B.B. King and Lucille (image courtesy Wikimedia)

The news announced on B.B. King’s web site that the great guitarist and singer is in home hospice care means that soon another of the great blues musicians produced by the Mississippi Delta will soon no longer whinny with us, as Dylan Thomas would say. The loss of a figure like King is greater than the loss of a brilliant musician; with his passing another link to the long, storied history of one of America’s great original musical forms will be lost. In our current cultural malaise, with musicians unable to get paid for their creative efforts, King is also one of the last reminders that talent and perseverance could once lead to musical success, cultural respect, and recognized influence. Continue reading

bernie

Bernie Sanders is running! Now, let’s get him a theme song

Paging Matthew Grimm.

Bernie is in. And I’m in for Bernie.

One of the first things I thought was that the campaign needs a song. Maybe two. It needs an artist, one of us. There are many candidates. Jason Isbell comes to mind. So does Jeffrey Dean Foster. And maybe Paul Lewis. Or The Lost Patrol or The Blueflowers. Or Don Dixon. You know, non-corporate artists.

I don’t know. But off the top of my head, I have a few ideas for the kind of thing we’re looking for. Like “Real Americans” by Matt Grimm.

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J-Pop just breaking new gate: Saturday Video Roundup with BabyMetal, Band-Maid and Dir En Grey

It was a big week for Japanese Pop. Turns out SONY has signed Metal/GirlPop fusioneers BabyMetal, with designs on taking over America. And earlier in the week I discovered Band-Maid. It only seemed right that I’d share all this, plus a little bonus, with our readers.

Let’s start here.

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