Happy Friday. What are you listening to?

ipod-classic-accessories-3Haven’t posted one of these in awhile, so here’s what I’ve been listening to in shuffle mode today as I get ready for a couple of days off. Enjoy, and hope everyone has a great weekend.

As of the time of this posting, here are the last 15 to come up in the rotation.

1. Alert Status Red–Matthew Good

2. Shine a Light–The Rolling Stones

3. That Lady (Parts 1 & 2)–The Isley Brothers

4. Afternoon-Pat Metheny Group

5. Perfect Stranger–Cheap Trick

6. Open All Night-Bruce Springsteen

7. You Really Got Me–The Kinks (One From The Road version)

8. Two of Us–The Beatles

9. Spy In The House of Love–Was (Not Was)

10. Bitch–The Rolling Stones

11. You Got Lucky–Tom Petty

12. Spar Wid Me–The English Beat

13. Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes–Los Lobos

14. V-2 Schneider–David Bowie

15. What Makes You Think You’re The One–Fleetwood Mac

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My night with The Rolling Stones: sometimes you CAN get what you want

stones-3So here’s how it went:
When tickets went on sale for the May 25th Toronto show, I was lucky enough to snag a pair of those $85 “mystery” tickets. A bargain, compared to the $625 asking price for top tier tickets. With the $85 tickets, the caveat is that the seat location would be revealed when tickets are picked up the night of the show.
So my wife and I (seeing the Stones for the first time together; we each had seen them separately in the past) arrived at the Air Canada Centre and lined up with the rest of the holders of these tickets and waited patiently. Arriving at the front of the line, we were handed a sealed envelope from a pile of envelopes. And the winner is….? Section 323, row 14–waaaay up (six rows from the roof) and waaaay in the back. See the map below.
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Well, crap. If you’ve ever sat in those seats you’ll know that the climb up and down the stairs once you reach those sections is steep and not for the vertigo challenged. And even once your seated, the down facing angle is a little off-putting for some, including us. So while I wasn’t pleased with the seats, my wife was less so. The angle was making her feel dizzy and certainly neither of us wanted that. So keeping in mind the old adage “if you don’t ask u don’t get”, we thought we’d take a shot and ask fan services staff if there was any possible way to exchange our seats for a pair that weren’t akin to being at the top of a ski hill. After a bit of a runaround (down to street level where we originally picked up the tickets only to be told, eventually, we needed to speak with fan services back on the 300 level), we discovered that we aren’t the only ones trying for an exchange. It probably happens all the time. (FYI, I never would have bought tickets voluntarily to sit up there. I don’t like the steep angle either, and I’m not one those who live by the “well, at least you’re in the building” credo. If I can’t be reasonably close to the stage and seated like a normal human being, then I won’t bother. Not even for (gulp) Springsteen.)
So…after waiting patiently by the fan services desk on the 300 level and speaking with two very nice staffers we were offered a pair of tix in section 321 and three rows lower. A bit of an improvement. Those tickets were turned in by a guy who needed an aisle seat because of a disability.  The staffer said go inside and see if you like the seats, and if you do, they’re yours. Well, better than nothing, right?  So I went inside to find our new seats while my wife stayed by the staffers desk to thank them for accommodating us. Turns out the seats were smack dab in the middle of a row. (“Pardon me, excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry, I just need to get to those seats”….phew.) I was seated for about, oh…60 seconds…when my wife texts me the following:
“Floors come out now guest service. We have floor seats.”
Yeah, let that sink in a minute. I managed to text back “Wh”, which in my head I was saying “what the f***”. This then resulted in the reverse of  (“Pardon me, excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry, I just need to get to GET THE HELL OUT OF THIS ROW…)
See what happened was, as she was thanking those two nice staffers, a third staff member walked up to the desk and said he had a pair of floor seats up for grabs. He handed them to the original staffers, who then turned to my wife and said “Here. You want them?”  Talk. About. Timing. So off we went,  down to the floor. Instead of being in the 300s, we were now seated (thanks to a combination of perseverance by my rock star wife and sheer luck) in row 3 of the large floor section directly below section 119 .
And what about the show you ask? Outstanding. The Stones on this tour have done away with the massive stages and pyro that were a huge part of previous tours and opted for a bare bones stage, a catwalk for Mick to strut into the audience (which he did frequently) and a large screen. This time it was about the music, not the “show”.  Keith, Charlie and Ronnie were in fine form as was Mick Taylor (Mick Taylor!) who’s been along for the ride and ripped through Midnight Rambler and came back for the night’s closer “Satisfaction” Special guest  Carrie Underwood (yep) joined the band for “It’s Only R&R” and it was damn good. Special shout out to the  Cawthra Park Secondary School Chamber Choir who joined the band for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.
Check out the setlist:
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And here are a few brief video clips I shot with my iPhone. My ears are still ringing. What a night.

Rolling Stones partner with Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka

22_page_view_CHV-RS Pack PicThis was so tailor made for Keith Richards. Crystal Head Vodka,  founded by Dan Aykroyd, and The Rolling Stones, have partnered to create an exclusive, limited edition Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary Gift Set. According to the Crystal Head website, the gift set includes:

  • Stunning handcrafted display case featuring a real zipper—recalling the legendary Sticky Fingers album cover
  • Bottle of Crystal Head Vodka
  • 2-CD compilation of live Rolling Stones hits—not available for sale anywhere else
  • Crystal bottle decanter top—engraved with The Rolling Stones iconic lip-and-tongue logo
  • Bottle tattoo—featuring the 50th anniversary logo

The package retails in North America for about $100. 

For those who are interested, here’s the track listing for the two cd’s. I haven’t been able to find out where or when the tracks were recorded.

Disc 1:

1. Brown Sugar

2. Let’s Spend The Night Together

3. Shattered

4. Paint It Black

5. Gimme Shelter

6. Wild Horses

7. Shine A Light

8. Rocks Off

9. Miss You

Disc 2:

1.  Beast of Burden

2. Angie

3. Under My Thumb

4. Start Me Up

5. Jumpin’ Jack Flash

6. Honky Tonk Women

7. Satisfaction

8. You Can’t Always Get What You Want

9. Sympathy For The Devil

Anybody headed to see the Stones in Toronto or Montreal? I’ll be at the Toronto show on May 25th.  While they’re unlikely to make an appearance, I’d love to hear either of these live:

Admit it. You always wanted to be a back-up singer.

twentyI love a good music documentary. In recent years, some of my favourites have been Rush’s Beyond The Lighted StageFoo Fighters’ Back and Forth and Dave Grohl’s Sound City which took a fond look back at the famed recording studio. Earlier this year, there was another music doc that premiered at Sundance but unlike the Rush or Foo Fighters films that focused on the performers at the front of the stage, this one bypasses the main performers and points the camera at the back of the stage.

As described on the Sundance festival website, Twenty Feet From Stardom “juxtaposes interviews with industry legends (Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, and others) and the relative unknowns who support them like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and Judith Hill as they illuminate the art of melding their own distinct voices with lead vocals and reveal their desires for careers as solo artists. Twenty Feet from Stardom traces the backup singers’ history—from those Phil Spector–produced pop tunes and soul-inspired British Explosion acts (Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones) of the 1960s, to their reversal of fortune when the recording industry changed in the 1990s, and into today. Filmmaker Morgan Neville’s unprecedented look at the moving personal journeys of these normally uncelebrated artists pays tribute to their indelible role in popular music.”

After playing at the festival circuit in recent months, the film will see its theatrical release on June 14th. Based on the trailer below, I think this is definitely worth seeing:

Stones play surprise club gig in L.A. in advance of tour kick-off Friday

1stonesOn Saturday night, a very lucky group of  of Stones fans (along with the requisite celebrities) were treated to an intimate warm-up gig at a tiny Los Angeles club to see the band perform prior to the ‘50 & Counting‘ tour kick off this coming Friday, May 3rd. The group ripped through a 14-song set that included some of the classics you would come to expect plus a handful of covers and an appearance by former guitarist Mick Taylor who’s slated to join the band for the tour.

According to the New Musical Express, Mick Jagger was on energetic form throughout the hour-and-a -half long show, dancing and chatting with the crowd. “Thank you very much, you’re too good to us,” he said towards the end of the set. “The first show of the tour, probably the best one!”

Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood were backed by Darryl Jones, Chuck Leavell, Bernard Fowler, Lisa Fischer and Bobby Keys for the show. 

As previously announced, the Stones will hit Toronto on May 25th and June 6th and Montreal on June 9th. (Editors note: I’ll be at the May 25th show; can’t wait).

Here’s the setlist from Saturday night

You Got Me Rocking
Respectable‘ 
She’s So Cold
Live With Me
Street Fighting Man
That’s How Strong My Love Is‘ (Originally by Otis Redding)
Little Queenie‘ (Originally by Chuck Berry)
Just My Imagination‘ (Originally by The Temptations)
Miss You
Love In Vain‘ (Originally by Robert Johnson(
Midnight Rambler
Start Me Up
Brown Sugar
Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Getting ready for the weekend–what’s on your agenda?

polite-umbrella-1Well so much for an early Spring. Freezing rain, snow, slush…seriously? Last week I saw some folks around my neighbourhood working in their gardens. My first thought was “a little early, don’t you think?”. Well, I’m sure by now they’re regretting their decision. My weekend will probably the usual errands to run, but I’m hoping to maybe take in a movie (42?) and will be heading out Sunday afternoon for some NBA action to see the Raptors take on Brooklyn. As for the Jays…don’t get me started…although I do have tickets for a few upcoming games in May so hopefully by then their fortunes will have turned. And as for my beloved Habs, with a playoff spot clinched, all I have to say to the rest of the Eastern conference is “bring it on!”

And tunes. Let’s not forget some good tunes for the weekend. Have forgone listening to the iPod in shuffle mode lately in favour of  whole albums or groups of songs by the same artist. But for the weekend I thought I’d get back to shuffle mode. So here we go, with a “shuffle songs” reset, are the first 15 songs to come up on the iPod as I head into the weekend:

The Friday 15:

1. A Little Is Enough–Pete Townshend

2. Tequila–Wes Montgomery (BONUS VIDEO:  click here)

3. Wreck This Heart–Bob Seger

4. 100 Days, 100 Nights–Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings

5. Movin’ Out–Billy Joel

6. Time Stand Still–Rush

7. You Don’t Know Me At All–Bettye LaVette

8. Who Do You Love?–Bo Diddley

9. Boom–Flight of The Conchords

10. You Got The Silver–The Rolling Stones

11. Mr. Moonlight–The Beatles

12. It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll–The Rolling Stones

13. Clocks–Coldplay

14. When Your Mind’s Made Up–Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová

15. Three Time Loser–Bonnie Raitt

I’ll tell you the Undisputed Truth: it’s one-hit wonder Wednesday

Undisputed-truth-motownIt’s one of those songs you’ve heard before, but probably never knew who sang it, right? This cut from 1971 was by a group with one of the best monikers of the era, The Undisputed Truth. Originally released by The Temptations in an 11-minute version, it’s a great example of the “psychedelic soul” period of Motown, which was also exemplified tracks like The Temptations’  Ball of Confusion and Psychedelic Shack. Released on The Undisputed Truth’s debut album, the song went to number 3 on the pop charts.

The group was put together by producer/songwriter Norman Whitfield, who was also one of the driving forces behind The Temptations, (actually one of my favourite vocal groups of all time). Whitfield, along with his songwriting partner Barrett Strong have a list of songwrting credits any writer worth his salt would kill to be associated with, including Ain’t Too Proud To Beg or Ain’t Too Proud To BegI Heard It Through The Grapevine or I Heard It Through The Grapevine or I Heard It Through The Grapevine , and War or War, and my personal fave, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone. That latter tune was made famous of course by The Tempations but it was not the original version. The song was actually released one year earlier before by…wait for it…The Undisputed Truth.  It was very common for Motown artists to cover each other’s work, and some versions scored better with the music-buying public than others.

The Undisputed Truth didn’t last long on the charts. They scored a few more minor hits on the r&b charts but the success of “Smiling” was not to be repeated.