Song of the day: Sun City

Remember this one? Never underestimate the power of music.

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Madison Square Garden announces the “Billy Joel franchise”

BillyJoel-photo-credit-KevinMazur_slideshow

There’s the Knicks, the Rangers, the Liberty and now there’s…Billy Joel? In a press conference held today at New York’s Madison Square Garden, it was announced that Billy Joel is MSG’s newest “franchise” and will be playing shows at the storied venue for the foreseeable future. In addition to the four sold-out concerts already announced for January, February, March and April, an additional show will be held on May 9th which will be Joel’s 65th birthday. And…there will be more shows to come.

While this is good news for NYC area fans, it doesn’t do much for fans elsewhere. Looks like Billy is in a permanent New York State of Mind.

A classic rock drummer coming out of retirement? Reuniting with bandmates? Maybe so, says Phil Collins

phil-collins-taxCould it be true? In a recent interview with German media, Phil Collins has stated that he has been thinking about a return to the musical spotlight, including (gasp!) a Genesis reunion (although I doubt that means with Peter Gabriel).

“I have started thinking about doing new stuff,” Collins recently told German media. He made these comments at the Stuttgart premiere of Tarzan, a stage musical based on Disney’s Collins-soundtracked cartoon. “[Maybe playing] some shows again, even with Genesis,” he admitted to Bild am Sonntag. “Everything is possible. We could tour in Australia and South America. We haven’t been there yet”.

Collins, 62, hasn’t played live since 2010, and not with Genesis since 2007. He stepped away from the drum kit after suffering major damage to his spine and basically said he was done performing. So whats driving this possible comeback?  His kids. According to Britian’s The Guardian, Matthew, 8, and Nicholas, 12, apparently want to see him play, and while the artist has ignored the pleas of his manager, he has said he is motivated by his sons. Even the musician’s older children are enthusiastic: “[My father is] doing really well,” Simon Collins, frontman for the prog-rock band Sound of Contact, told Smashing Interviews. “He’s starting to write again actually and spending more time with family, myself included.”

Apart from a covers LP released in 2010, Collins’ last full-length was the 2002 record Testify. It was the only album of Collins’ solo career not to reach the top five.

Are you a Phil Collins/Genesis fan? I would say “definitely” to both. I didn’t catch Genesis on their 2007 tour but  did see them 30 years ago at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. Caught Phil solo a couple of times after that. All were great shows.

Check out this clip from Collins’ “First, Final Farewell Tour” from about a decade ago.

 

Two guys walk into a clothing store. They just happen to be Zac Brown and Dave Grohl…

zac_brown_band_dave_grohl_a_lSo here’s what happened, according to Rolling Stone and The Hollywood Reporter: While waiting in line at John Varvatos’ store in West Hollywood prior to the 2013 Grammys, Zac Brown bumped into Dave Grohl while picking up some altered clothes for the ceremony, and he didn’t let the random meeting go to waste. They bonded over their love of analog recording gear, and their new friendship eventually resulted in Zac Brown Band’s newest release: “The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1.”, out December 10th.

The release, which Dave Grohl produced and played the drums on, will feature the recorded debut of the song “Day for the Dead,” which the band and the Foo Fighters frontman recently performed at the CMAs. Other tracks on the release include “All Alright,” “Let It Rain” and “The Muse,” the latter of which was written by the Wood Brothers, an ensemble signed to Brown’s label Southern Ground Artists.

“Dave is a musical genius,” said Zac Brown in a press release. “It’s been amazing to play with him onstage and get to spend time working with him in the studio. We are excited for fans to hear the music we’ve been able to create together.” Grohl discussed the collaboration with Rolling Stone at the American Music Awards this past Sunday. “They’re unbelievable,” he said of the group. “The band is so good they can be tracked live; we didn’t fuck with computers, we tracked live, four-part harmonies around one microphone. It’s rocking. I didn’t know what [the band] was [prior to this]. People are like, ‘Oh, it’s country.’ ‘No, it’s not, it’s like the Allman Brothers.’ ‘No, it’s not, it’s jam band.’ I don’t even know what you would call it, it’s fucking great.”

I’m a major Foo Fighters/Dave Grohl fan, but not all that familiar with Zac Brown (know the name, don’t know the music), so news of this release has got me intrigued. Zac Brown posted a making-of video which you can see on the band’s youtube channel, posted below. I’ve also posted their aforementioned performance of “Day of The Dead” from the CMAs. I highly recommend you crank it; it really cooks.

Mommy’s all right, daddy’s alright…guess who’s touring Canada in March?

cheap-trick-rick-nielsen-robin-vintage-70s-retro-classic-rock-music-musician-photo-mono-stereo-lp-vinyl-pop-art-1Ok, so that’s not a recent picture, but fans will recognize it as the cover of their now-classic self-titled disc released in 1977.

These road veterans have added a bunch of new dates to their current tour that will bring them to Canada in March. The dates are as follows:

3/6 – Calgary–Deerfoot Inn & Casino
3/7 – Regina–Casino Regina
3/9 – Thunder Bay–Thunder Bay Community Auditorium
3/11 – Hamilton–Hamilton Place
3/12 – Toronto– Massey Hall
3/13 – Ottawa, ON–National Arts Centre
3/15 – Montreal, QC –Metropolis

As reported on ultimateclassicrock.com, while there’s been some talk of a new record, Cheap Trick are currently in the middle of a lawsuit with former drummer Bun E. Carlos, who sued his onetime bandmates earlier this year, claiming he was forced out of the group. In September, the band fired back and counter-sued to have Carlos “removed as a corporate director” of the inner workings of the band.

The Calgary, Regina and Thunder Bay shows are already on sale. The rest of the dates go on sale this week. Check local listings.

After seeing Cheap Trick open up for Kiss in 1977, I became a huge fan of the band. I saw them as a headliner in 1979 in Montreal on a triple bill with opening acts Prism and Graham Parker & The Rumour. Check out the ticket stub below.

photo (31)

 

The band’s latest studio album is 2009’s “The Latest” which I wasn’t overly impressed with. I much prefer their previous release, 2006’s “Rockford”, which I think is as good as their early albums from the late 70s. Check out the track “This Tine You Got It”:

CONFIRMED: New Bruce Springsteen album out Jan 14th.

SPRINGSTEEN_HIGH_HOPES_cover-700x700From rollingstone.com

Bruce Springsteen will release High Hopes, an eclectic album that combines covers, re-recordings of old songs and studio outtakes from the past decade, on January 14th. “This is music I always felt needed to be released,” Springsteen said in a statement. A video for the debut single “High Hopes” was posted this morning.  (NOTE: Scroll to the bottom for the video)

The album was originally going to focus entirely on unreleased material from the past decade. Plans changed during rehearsals for Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Australian tour this past March, which featured Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello subbing in for Steve Van Zandt. Morello suggested they perform “High Hopes,” a Tim Scott McConnell song that Springsteen originally recorded with the E Street Band in 1995. 

“We worked it up in our Aussie rehearsals and Tom then proceeded to burn the house down with it,” Springsteen said in a statement.  “We re-cut it mid tour at Studios 301 in Sydney along with ‘Just Like Fire Would,’ a song from one of my favorite early Australian punk bands, the Saints (check out ‘I’m Stranded’). Tom and his guitar became my muse, pushing the rest of this project to another level.”

High Hopes also has a cover of Dream Baby Dream, originally recorded in 1979 by the New York punk band Suicide. Springsteen regularly played the song on his 2005 solo acoustic tour and he revived it earlier this month at a benefit at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Three of the other songs – “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” “American Skin (41 Shots)” and “The Wall” – have either appeared in concert or on previous Springsteen albums. “I felt they were among the best of my writing,” Springsteen said in a statement. “And deserved a proper studio recording.”

The remaining tracks are outtakes from the albums that Springsteen recorded after reuniting with the E Street Band in 1999. The late E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici and the late E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons appear on several songs on High Hopes, though it’s unclear exactly which ones. The album was produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen, though Brendan O’Brien has production credit on four of the tracks. It was recorded in New York City, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Australia.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with guest Tom Morello are playing shows in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in early 2014, but there is no word on whether they plan on coming back to North America later in the year.

Here is a complete track listing for High Hopes as well as Bruce Springsteen’s extensive notes about the album.

“High Hopes” (Tim Scott McConnell) – featuring Tom Morello
“Harry’s Place” * – featuring Tom Morello
“American Skin (41 Shots)” – featuring Tom Morello
“Just Like Fire Would” (Chris J. Bailey) – featuring Tom Morello
“Down in the Hole” *
“Heaven’s Wall” ** – featuring Tom Morello
“Frankie Fell in Love”
“This Is Your Sword”
“Hunter of Invisible Game” * – featuring Tom Morello
“The Ghost of Tom Joad” – duet with Tom Morello
“The Wall”
“Dream Baby Dream” (Martin Rev and Alan Vega) – featuring Tom Morello

All songs written by Bruce Springsteen except as noted

Produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen

*Produced by Brendan O’Brien

**Produced by Brendan O’Brien, co-produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s ‘High Hopes’ Liner Notes

 I was working on a record of some of our best unreleased material from the past decade when Tom Morello (sitting in for Steve during the Australian leg of our tour) suggested we ought to add “High Hopes” to our live set. I had cut “High Hopes,” a song by Tim Scott McConnell of the L.A. based Havalinas, in the Nineties. We worked it up in our Aussie rehearsals and Tom then proceeded to burn the house down with it. We re-cut it mid tour at Studios 301 in Sydney along with “Just Like Fire Would,” a song from one of my favorite early Australian punk bands, the Saints (check out “I’m Stranded”). Tom and his guitar became my muse, pushing the rest of this project to another level. Thanks for the inspiration Tom.

Some of these songs, “American Skin” and “Ghost of Tom Joad,” you’ll be familiar with from our live versions. I felt they were among the best of my writing and deserved a proper studio recording. “The Wall” is something I’d played on stage a few times and remains very close to my heart. The title and idea were Joe Grushecky’s, then the song appeared after Patti and I made a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. It was inspired by my memories of Walter Cichon. Walter was one of the great early Jersey Shore rockers, who along with his brother Ray (one of my early guitar mentors) led the “Motifs.” The Motifs were a local rock band who were always a head above everybody else. Raw, sexy and rebellious, they were the heroes you aspired to be. But these were heroes you could touch, speak to, and go to with your musical inquiries. Cool, but always accessible, they were an inspiration to me, and many young working musicians in 1960s central New Jersey. Though my character in “The Wall” is a Marine, Walter was actually in the Army, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry. He was the first person I ever stood in the presence of who was filled with the mystique of the true rock star. Walter went missing in action in Vietnam in March 1968. He still performs somewhat regularly in my mind, the way he stood, dressed, held the tambourine, the casual cool, the freeness. The man who by his attitude, his walk said “you can defy all this, all of what’s here, all of what you’ve been taught, taught to fear, to love and you’ll still be alright.” His was a terrible loss to us, his loved ones and the local music scene. I still miss him. 

This is music I always felt needed to be released. From the gangsters of “Harry’s Place,” the ill-prepared roomies on “Frankie Fell in Love” (shades of Steve and I bumming together in our Asbury Park apartment) the travelers in the wasteland of “Hunter of Invisible Game,” to the soldier and his visiting friend in “The Wall”, I felt they all deserved a home and a hearing. Hope you enjoy it, 

Bruce Springsteen

New Bruce Springsteen single, “High Hopes” out Nov. 25th. And it’s goood.

HIGH_HOPES_Nov25

Earlier this year, when Springsteen and the E Street Band (with Tom Morello subbing for Steve Van Zandt) were in Australia on the Wrecking Ball tour, they decided to take a detour into the studio. “We’ve never had a recording session during a tour in our lives,” Springsteen told Rolling Stone. “We did a couple of things that I wanted to put down. So that was very exciting. And being with Tommy was exciting. The band – Steven, Nils, all those guys – continues to be a source of inspiration for me.”

One of the results of that recording session is the single “High Hopes”, out November 25th. But it’s not a Springsteen original, nor is it the first time he’s recorded it. It was first released by Australian Tim Scott McConnell in 1987 and again three years later with his band The Havalinas.  Springsteen recorded and released it in 1995, but the only way to purchase it was with the special edition VHS copy of his Blood Brothers documentary.

Rolling Stone describes the single this way: 

“The song begins with a New Orleans carnival beat and a squall of feedback before a chunky acoustic guitar and Springsteen’s teeth-gritted vocals kick in, followed by horns, accordions and an army of backing vocals on the chorus. The finished product sounds like an unexpected mix of the Seeger Sessions Band, Rage, the E Street Band and the Meters. Judging by this track, Springsteen isn’t done with the musical boundary-pushing that characterized 2012’s Wrecking Ball.”

Rumours are circulating wildly that “High Hopes” is the first single from a new album that could be out by the end of January, and that it’s either a brand new studio album or something akin to Tracks 2.

Either way, I can’t wait.

Want a sneak peek of the new single? Check out the live performance below from March 18th in Sydney.