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Freedom’s Overdue

Yesterday, my evening was ruined just because I took a peek at the newly received RENAISSANCE DVD, “Song Of Scheherezade”. Long overdue, as up to now we had to deal with YouTube snippets of the band’s live performances and the DVD by Annie Haslam, the disc is a monster of horribility. The change should have been sensed when the cover artwork has been changed from appealing, with the players pictures on it, to appalling, but even this can’t prepare the buyer to what’s inside.

The footage from both concerts there have been transferred from nth-generation video tape and sometimes gets close to a shadow play. And that’s the visuals. As for the audio part, it’s on par with the picture: no high frequences at all, so we not only don’t hear cymbals etc. – and RENAISSANCE were the experts in dynamics! – but also Annie’s voice sounds like the male’s.

Cherry Red Records may celebrate their 30th anniversary, my ass, but screwing up this DVD buyers, they do it in style. Jerks!


Take It Easy

The latest DVD I received with the prospect of reviewing was Mika’s “Live Parc Des Princes Paris”. I must admit I like the guy, he’s doing a top-notch job in the pop realm, even though there’s too much falsetto for an operatically-trained singer. This is not the point, though; the point is that this is very indicative of today’s music business when an artist with the only studio album under his belt has two live DVDs, the new one a follow-up to last year’s “Live In Cartoon Motion”. Both shows have been taped in Paris, by the way, the first in a club, the second in a stadium. A measurement of popularity growth, perhaps, and the tendency of squeezing the maximum juice of one product. On the one hand.

On the other hand, how many times did we complain of the lack of some historic footage when nobody was around to tape a performance of our favorite band 30 years ago? Why, then, slag off Mika for whom the Parc Des Princes’ show was the first on such a scale? But now, it’s really down to the guy to seriously deliver on the second album and carry on to gain a status which, in 30-years time, will keep his fans happy there is the document of the concert.

As for the review, watch this space.


Never Say Never, or A Reason To Believe

Many wondered if GUNS N’ ROSES were ever going to release their long-long-long overdue “Chinese Democracy”, many didn’t care. But everyone knew about it, and now it’s out – even under the promised titled. And now there’s trouble. Not so much in China where the album is – of course – prohibited as in the United States. It’s Dr. Pepper who’s in trouble now. Seems the company eggheads didn’t believe in Axl Rose’s potency to deliver and made a stupid promise to supply every American with a free can of soda on the album’s release. Well, not every American – exluded were Axl’s enemy No 1, Slash, and, if I’m not mistaken, Steven Adler. The band didn’t mind Dr. Pepper mentioning them in the press – sure, any ad is a good ado – yet now that the fans are complaining en masse, GN’R are going to shake some court action.

Rightly so, the word is the word, and one must stand by it – especially when it comes to a company this big. But then, Rose and Co aren’t so clean either in the field of promises, making the supporters cross their fingers for so long with a stiffing and hurting effect. Which means there were all the reasons to believe this “Chinese” thing wouldn’t come out at all. Still, never say never: this rule is well-known in the fickle rock ‘n’ roll world.

As for the fans, why did everyone stick out their ear to listen to the potentially false promise and then stick out their collective tongue as if they were thirsty, and line up to collect their drink? The people so foolish deserve to be fooled, ain’t ’em?


Take A Chance On Me… On You… On All Of Us

Just noticed that there’s a new edition of Mike Oldfield’s “Music Of The Spheres” is out, with a live bonus CD. Not that I’m a big Oldfield fan but then again, it sets me thinking of today’s marketing strategies. Back in the much happier – music-wise – times, it was normal to make the first edition of a record special. Bonus items such as posters, EPs, stickers (ah, just remember the tactile and visual sensation of those “A Dark Side Of The Moon” or “Captain Fantastic” fabulous packages!) made aficionados and unitiated alike run to the nearest shop and grab an LP… and help it shoot up in the charts, sometimes with/like a bullet. Then, the wheels started turning and momentum was being gained, and the records sold nicely for all the interested parties’ benefit. Not anymore.

Now, why the heck should I hurry up and buy anything if some six months later I will have a opportunity to buy an enhanced package for the same price? Mind, the bonus stuff is targeted mainly at the fans – but they usually purchase a new record right after it’s out, which means if you’re a fan you have to buy something twice. At least twice if not more, what with the multiple ‘definitive’ editions of the VELVETS’ banana thingy. Or Elton John’s re-issues. Alright, with Elton the latest crop looks really definitive, and even all the aforementioned “Captain Fantastic” inserts have been reproduced now as miniature replicas. But that’s re-issues, and we’re talking new albums now.

What’s more… Let me quote myself: “Fuck off” instead of “Thank you”, Glenn Hughes seems to be saying to his European fans. If his first DVD, “Soulfully Live In The City Of Angels”, all the world found difficult to be watching due to the lighting and compression, there’s a new line with Hughes’ forthcoming “Live In Australia”. Not only the European release of this title is the single disc instead of DVD and CD package as in Oz, but also it doesn’t have the extras: the footage from the July 2007 Rome concert, a “Music For The Divine” documentary and three promo videos from this, Glenn’s latest album. This scribe does have Hughes’ acoustic programme from “The Basement”, which has been in circulation among the fans for some time, but, having supported Glenn for a long time, pre-ordered the official release. Now, money’s lost, and the next time the pirate P2P network will seem the best way to avoid getting ripped off by the artist and the label. Why stay faithful to the one who doesn’t care?”

The last thing done rightly that I remember was David Bowie’s “Live At The BBC” the initial edition of which had the third disc added to the two main ones. Yet find, then, any David Gilmour’s supporter who wasn’t disappointed with having to buy the second pressing of “On An Island” or Mike Oldfield’s fans? That’s what should be called piracy… yet the big heads will say it’s a revenge. Is there really a war going on? Are we taking chances or being taken chances on?


If The Stars Were In Their Eyes

Why oh why there are artists whose music can appeal to everyone but who don’t get any support to spread it? I’ve just written a review of Boris Savoldelli‘s new album, “Insanology”, which is just great. The man sings a la Bobby McFerrin but his a cappella style is pure Italian – and for the most part pure pop. A pleasure is to be had there.

I’d like to derive the same emotion from trying to play – trying, yes, as I have no time to devote to this, no matter how I’d like to – the long-awaited PC adventure game, “A Vampyre Story”. Brilliantly designed, classic point ‘n’ click stuff that I love dearly – and humor abound to boot. What’s wrong with it? The absense of subtitles during the cutscenes. My hearing is not the best in the world, what with many years of dealing with music, and English isn’t my native tongue. Usually I understand the most of what’s being said, and it’s the same this time, but what about hearing-impaired out there? More so, the characters are speaking with freaking accents – sometimes not justified by the story. Unfair, what else can I say, especially with the game’s posponing from Hallowe’en to a latter date in order to fine-tune it.

Maestro Salvodelli also sings in English with a bit of accent but then it somehow complements the music not distracts from it. Shooting for the stars requires some brains, you know?


She’ll Run To Me – Against The Lace

Is it only for the crazy Russian fans who like to see anyone connected to any classic rock bands there were – or will there be more touring for the newly-meld multi-colored super-ensemble OVER THE RAINBOW? The line up – you bet! – features the members of RAINBOW but only two of them previously played in that group at the same time, in 1981-1982: vocalist Joe Lynn Turner and drummer Bobby Rondinelli. There are two decades between the stints of keyboard wizard Tony Carey (1976-1977) and bassist Greg Smith (1995-1997) – but the latter worked with Turner before hooking up with the RAINBOW leading light, Ritchie Blackmore. Who’s to step in for Blackmore, then?

The OVER THE RAINBOW guitarist is, um, Blackmore. Not Ritchie but Jurgen, or J.R., the Man In Black’s son by his first, German wife. Living in Deutschland and a good guitarist in his own right, though nowhere near his Pops, Blackmore Jr. isn’t famous at all yet there’s a name magic involved for the Russians. And the big buck beckons so good at the credit crunch time!

But it’ll be fun nevertheless, ain’t it?


Monkberry Loon? Delight!

“All these things will happen it time because you just can’t do it all at once. We are preparing these things, there’s work that people have done, but I just don’t want to flood everyone with THE BEATLES’ products”, said Paul McCartney in our recent interview. Did the graceful knight mean then that one of these would be THE BEATLES’ infamous “Carnival Of Light” avant-garde endeavor? It seems Paul has nothing more interesting to do than launch into revisionism. Sporadic gigging? It’s OK with us. Unveiling his part in the “Fireman” project (as if nobody knew Macca was in it!)? Let the big boy play if he wants to! But treading back on The Fabs’ route feels like a faux pas.

Not that we talk something sacrilegious but the legacy is legacy, and those who’s not into bootlegs had a nice peek behind the scenes with the “Anthology” three-volume release. That was a bit unfair, too… what with splicing the broken second and the master takes of “Yes It Is”, thus giving the false impression of the song being still unfinished in the process of recording while there is a complete take 1; and then why there was the tripled vocal track left of “Because” and not stripped down to the original three-part harmony? Unlike McCartney here, Yoko Ono didn’t embellish anything on “The Lennon Anthology”. But all right, that was adding to the legacy not taking from it. Which can’t be said of “Let It Be… Naked”.

Paul has always voiced his displeasure with Phil Spector’s job on the original album, yet why we have to deal with his wish, not the others’ who said it was OK? With George Harrison alive, Macca could hardly get away with this version of ‘Let It Be” – and it was George, by the way, who vetoed the inclusion of “Carnival Of Light” into “Anthology”. If anything, there were two Glyn Johns’ versions of THE BEATLES’ last album, initially titled “Get Back”. But no, it’s Paul McCartney who has to have a last say on everything now. There are some Fabs’ things awaiting re-issue, so why dig something so self-indulgent? Isn’t it Looney tuning, eh?


Circles And Rings, Dragons And Kings

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time – no, I’m not about the comments on my posts but about Roger Dean’s new book, “Dragon’s Dream”, out now. First mentioned four years ago, it was promised to be made available – lemme quote myself – as a “1,000 signed limited edition boxed sets of all three titles with a signed 32-page book of black and white prints, some handmade”, three titles being “Views”, first published in 1975, and its 1984’s successor “Magnetic Storm”, plus this new book titled then “Dragons Garden” featuring previously unpublished paintings and drawings. Now, there won’t be any box, while the only other book released simultaneously with “Dragon” is “Album Cover Album” that Dean took a part in compiling. Still, one can purchase “Dragon’s Dream” from the aritst’s site, but only if there’s a need for Roger’s autograph: sans the signature, the book is priced at $29.95, with it the book goes for 10 bucks more. Quite expensive for a pen mark, yet this is for collectors. Much more irritating is shipping fee – in my case it’s $35. More than the book itself. So as much as I wanted my money to go to Dean directly, I opted for eBay where the price was about the same yet shipping cost only 5 pounds. So if anybody’s greedy here, that’s not yours truly. More so, I’d have liked to post the news on the site before it appeared on Roger Dean’s pages – I heard it through the grapevine, so to say – and asked his webmaster for details… to no avail. Which brings us back to the problem of spreading the word.

Another subject worthy of returning to is the news on LED ZEPPELIN having decided to not be called so when going on tour without Robert Plant. That’s honest! Still, this is too close to THE DOORS situation. And don’t tell me about QUEEN who are tagged as QUEEN + Paul Rodgers now and have not a cheap substitute for the fallen Fred but a singer whom Mercury himself admired and who’d not been influenced by him.

And while we’re onto this, YES also made a honest decision not to be YES but IN THE PRESENCE – in the absence of Jon Anderson who’s still ill yet will join the colleagues on the road once he’s able to.

New ramblings, later on.


For All To Know

Recently I read a review of John Martyn’s new 4CD box in “Mojo” magazine, and the first thing that came to mind when I saw it was the first when I saw it. I mean, I received the news of the forthcoming release and wanted to post the item on my site, but I’d have liked to illustrate it with the cover artwork. Which I found on Martyn’s site – copyrighted. Well, a sort of: there was the site’s address across the cover, because it was published exclusively on John’s web home. Good for him. Yet how did he hope to promote the CDs if was prohibited to reproduce the artwork? The fans who visit his site would have been interested in the release no matter what, while uninitiated…

That’s the point I often come across with regards to the promo / review copies of new albums. Many artists spread the word among their supporters only while wanting to expand their fan base. How, tell me how? Send the promos to the sites that deal with all kind of artists in your chosen area, that’s the only way for all to know who you are.


So Little Time, So Much To Know…

…thus quoth the Nowhere Man in “Yellow Submarine”, and he was goddamn right. The day-off is nearing the end, and there’s not so much has been done, save for some home-maintance thing, a language lesson and another review. This time it was the LA’s VOX TEMPUS‘s second album, a bit boring but easy-on-the-ear prog-hard rock programme with the great Gregg Bissonette on drums. It becomes quite a generic thing, and there’s nothing strange as bands like this opt of IKEA-like modus operandi building from the ready-made blocks rather than essentials. That’s why, say, YES, GENESIS and JETHRO TULL were all original whereas – let’s take a nice, melodic example – IQ or PENDRAGON, as likeable as they are, feel like second-rate ensembles. Thankfully, they don’t fall for parody.

Who do are LED ZEPPELIN – but here parody is all moral. The band that originally broke up because they couldn’t imagine themselves being ZEP with one of them absent, now are going to tour without their iconic singer. Robert Plant prefers moving forward to going backwards unlike Jimmy Page who, since 1980, has done nothing original – be it in the company of Paul Rodgers, in THE FIRM, or David Coverdale. Curiously, out of respect to ZEP’s bass / keyboards player, John Paul Jones, the two worked 15 years ago as Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, not LED ZEPPELIN, while now, again with only two founding members on-boards, it’s going to be ZEP. Is it the presence of John Bonham’s son, Jason, that gives credibility to the endeavor? Looks like it does – in their eyes, not the fans’ ears. The tour might be successful, yet the thrill is all gone.

But they’re not young, their time is running out, and there’s so little time, you know.