Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Today is...what is it also called? All Hallows Eve? Anyway, for today I tried to think of a song that was scary. This was hard for me to do, maybe because I've grown up in the multimedia age, I don't find music scary even when it's trying to be. I couldn't find a scary song, but there was a song that I thought tried hard to be and was interesting in how far it would go to try to achieve this goal.

When I first started buying music, I was influenced somewhat by my younger neighbor also named Mike. He had a lot more music than I did and went through various phases. At first he worshipped Todd Rundgren because his older brother did, meaning I had to listen to a lot of Utopia which was OK but didn't really do it for me. Then he went into New Wave which was cool because I got to copy all of his The Police tapes, all five of them! He even went as far as Duran Duran for a second. After that he shifted to metal, first getting into KISS and then speed metal. While playing Strike Out in my front yard he would endlessly debate with himself: which band was heavier, Metallica or Slayer? Which leads to today's theme song for Halloween.

I had not heard of Slayer before my friend started playing them around me and while they weren't scary, I thought it took a sort of dementia to simulate speaking in tongues followed by an ominous voice saying "Hell Awaits". It was amusing to watch my friend copy the speaking in tongues part when there was no music playing, it really is something meant to be heard a capella. Then there was that album cover with presumably the fires of hell and spears piercing through corpses. On that same album was a song that was so "out there" I couldn't stop laughing, "Necrophiliac". Yes, it is exactly about what is in the title. When my friend would start singing the lyrics it was just too funny. Even now, 25 years later, the thought of this song brings a smile.

I was going to pick "Hell Awaits" for the Halloween song of the day but really, what could be better than "Necrophiliac"? A Halloween warning to all that click on the link below, the lyrics are graphic which of course makes it that much funnier to me. What a wicked holiday Halloween is.

Keep The Fire Burnin'

Eddie Vedder leads the charge once again for Pearl Jam.

and a half

Shortly before the release of Pearl Jam's new album Backspacer it seemed like the band couldn't catch a break. Bassist Jeff Ament was mugged outside of the recording studio and a deal to make the new disc exclusive to Target had fans crying "sell out". Sure this group has been through worse, it still was a less than auspicious setting to drop a new album.

When last we saw Pearl Jam they had reclaimed their often copied anthemic sound that they had dropped after their third album Vitalogy. Here on Backspacer it gets dropped again as Pearl Jam returns to an emphasis on wiry rhythms and subdued melodies. Every PJ album has its own flavor and here a loose punkiness mixed with maturity takes hold. Most of the songs are relatively short and the fast beat of the first four songs (The Whoish "Gonna See My Friend", "Got Some", the lead single "The Fixer" and the almost funky "Johnny Guitar") shoot by like a bullet.

In the middle of the album is "Just Breathe", a mellow acoustic ballad that sounds like a radio hit waiting to happen on adult contemporary. A surprise from this usually defiant rock band.

The sudden drop in tempo allows for more varied beats and a bit of classic rock such as the surging heroic "Amongst The Waves" with it's extended guitar solo or the pensive Traffic like piano driven "Unthought Known".

"Supersonic" picks up the pace again with another rapid fire rocker before going into a slower, swaying "Speed Of Sound". "Force Of Nature" is a decent mid tempo piece before closing with the reflective acoustic song (with strings!) "The End".

Overall, Pearl Jam sounds as invigorated and inspired as ever with a nerve and awareness in every track. They take chances by getting more frantic and ragged on the rockers while being sentimental and a bit mushy on ballads. Lyrically, it is one of their blander efforts with a lot of self affirmations and invocations of light, spirit, standing up for or against things. The relatively short run time (somewhere around 40 minutes) is perfect as it doesn't overstay its welcome. A good but not great Pearl Jam album.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Return Of Shred?

Is it cool to play guitar again? I don't mean just pose with a guitar and fake strum while the song plays which has been the norm in music for a while, I mean full on finger flying speed of light over indulgent guitar solos. The guitar has long been the symbol of rock rebellion, however in the past ten years or so it's been used more as a style accessory than an actual instrument. So to see young 'uns actually play something on it is a big shock. This week's free Itunes download is a singer/guitarist named Orianthi whose song is dull but shreds up a storm with her guitar (even classic 80's metal style hands all up on the neck and everything) suggesting maybe people are ready for this lost art to return.

Then I saw the much maligned (but I personally like 'em) Creed release new stuff. Usually Creed makes the same album each time out and though the beginning of "Overcome" fit in that mold it seemed to hit a little harder. Then when they got to the guitar solo the dude tore it up in a way I can't remember happening on any of their previous three albums. Sure you can still ridicule their sub Pearl Jam post grunge religious rock but hey, I like rock music that has the subtlety of a sledgehammer. So hammer away Creed.

Could this be a hint of things to come? Even Richie Sambora had to go back to the recording studio to redo his solo for Bon Jovi's "We Weren't Born To Follow" because people didn't think he was ripping it enough. Will rock fans have a real reason to pump their devil horns in the sky again? It just may happen.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

U2 On You Tube U Can See For Free

In what has to be the best named rock music broadcast since Asia in Asia, U2 made their L.A. concert online for all to see via You Tube tonight with the label U2 on You Tube. As far as promotional stunts go, this one was a killer. An entire concert live for free from one of the world's greatest rock bands.

Add that the camera work and direction were truly professional quality, I can't recall any action or key moments lost in the 2 hour coverage of this event. And there was a lot of ground to cover, the bands' new 360 degree stage complete with an outer walkway ring and moving bridges would be a daunting challenge for camera coverage. Fortunately, there are only four members of U2 so it's not like you're going to lose track of them out there. Nonetheless, the event was captured with DVD quality work.

The concert itself was really good, despite getting off to a cold start (at least that's what it seemed like online, maybe the people actually there or viewers with complex media systems attached to their computer had a different experience) U2 were in excellent form. Challenging the audience with an opening salvo of three songs from their recent No Line On The Horizon disc fell flat with the crowd. "Breathe", "Get On Your Boots" and "Magnificent" failed to connect making it seem like U2 were performing in a vacuum.

Once the hits started to kick in with "Mysterious Ways" and "Beautiful Day" the audience started to warm up. An acoustic version of "Stuck In The Moment" was nice and by the time U2 hit "Elevation" the group and thousands of their fans were finally on the same page. This seemed to fire up Bono in particular as he bounded around the stage pushing his voice to nail those high notes.

The rest of the set sustained the momentum by delivering a series of hit songs with a focus on the last three albums. Well known tracks like "City Of Blinding Lights", "Vertigo", "Walk On", "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "With Or Without You" were met with rapturous applause from the fans. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was recast into a context of Iran instantly modernizing the context of the tune. The catchiest song from No Line On The Horizon, "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" was given a lively arrangement to pack afro beat drumming in the mix.
Two encores for the show packed the real heat with their best known stuff including "One" and "Where The Streets Have No Name".

The rhythm section of drummer Larry Mullen and bassist Adam Clayton were on point, their throbbing grooves still intact. The Edge played with fire and displayed impressive backing vocals throughout. Bono fought hard to pump up the audience early on and once the group and crowd connected was able to go for the big gestures he's known for. Late in the show it seemed like his voice started to give out as he started to duck the high notes, nonetheless the momentum built up by then made this forgivable.

U2 on You Tube was so well done I'll be shocked if this isn't released on DVD in the near future. They used this platform to effectively gain exposure for the No Line On The Horizon album which has sold poorly in comparison to their other albums (it's a mere Platinum which is funny to write because most bands would kill for a Platinum disc). Most of the songs from this cd were played and once they started to pepper individual songs in between the hits came across better.

The relatively weak sales of No Line On The Horizon could be due to the subdued nature of the disc or worse, suggest that the band has at long last hit oldies status where the audience could care less about new material. Like the Stones, U2 can still sell CDs to the ever declining faithful yet sell out stadiums at the drop of a hat. In any case, U2 on You Tube is a strong show definitely worth viewing for free :)

Playing With Madness

Wolverine pops a claw for Ashley Judd in Someone Like You
While channel surfing I stumbled across one of those dime a dozen Ashley Judd rom coms in this case called Someone Like You. First I stayed on the channel because I thought I saw Wolverine in this movie (turned out I did,'ol muttonchops himself Hugh Jackman) and then I began hearing really good music. I forget what was happening on screen (because what I saw of this movie was not just bad but absolutely wretched) but the music was great. A montage or something took place while this song "It Must Be Love" played loudly. We weren't sure who did this song so I looked it up, turned out to be the British ska band Madness. Also in the movie was an Annie Lennox cover of The Clash's "Train In Vain" that sounded pretty good too. A Van Morrison song appears in it as well. "It Must Be Love" has been stuck in my head since hearing it in this flick. Who said you can't learn something from an Ashley Judd movie?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

...And Life Goes On

In the early 90's my favorite television show was ABC's Sunday night family drama Life Goes On. It was on Sunday nights at 7pm and in my book is one of the best shows of its type. The program had a bittersweet mood that was unusual for the genre.

The program centered on the Thatcher family, a clan persistently troubled with loss of employment and prejudice. Drew Thatcher (played with earnest conviction by Bill Smitrovich) was the understanding and hard working blue collar father to the family. His wife Libby Thatcher (stage veteran Patti Lupone) was the equally understanding ex-actress juggling work and caring after the children. Originally LGO centered on down syndrome actor Chris Burke playing the son Charles nicknamed "Corky". Corky and the family would encounter prejudice and misunderstandings as they struggled to give him a "mainstream" education in high school. Later, the program would shift its focus to teenager Becca Thatcher (Kellie Martin, who I thought was attractive in that girl next door kinda way) the outspoken smart girl going thru standard teenage issues when not fighting for a cause. Lastly there was the adult stepdaughter Paige (originally played by Monique Lanier then later by JAG actress Tracey Needham) who was often confused by what to do with her life both romantically and professionally.

Ultimately what I liked about LGO was it's ability to balance warmth, conservative family values and liberal social outlook. For a Sunday evening program in the family hour, LGO was unusual in it's willingness to tackle social issues such as down syndrome and AIDS on a regular basis and not wrap everything up in a cozy hug at the end of the show. It was willing to have downer endings instead which was and is unusual for a tv show of this type. Like the episode when Paige works with an african american man named Marquis with a criminal past, they become friends but after a misunderstanding leads Paige to believe he is stealing from her family at gunpoint she begs him not to hurt them. Marquis sees through the predjudice and in non tv family drama form does not accept Paige's apology ending their friendship. Obviously that ending stuck with me for me to remember it, it was a well played scene.

Living up to its name, life went on for these characters despite other setbacks such as Corky accidentally burning down the family restaurant business, Becca's ex-boyfriend (and recurring character in the first few seasons) Tyler Benchfield dying after driving drunk and in later seasons the struggles of her AIDS infected boyfriend Jesse (for which actor Chad Lowe won an Emmy). Even with these "big message" story arcs LGO kept its scale down to the nuclear family and its suburb keeping things more realistic.

Life Goes On ran from 1989 to 1993, and given my own recent setbacks in life this program has been on my mind lately. You Tube has some episodes posted which is nice, though some of the comments on them point to continued prejudice against people with down syndrome which is sad. Below is the ending to the episode referenced above which still has power after all these years. Because life goes on...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Stairway To Cleveland


This season the makers of The Family Guy tried for a Sunday night trifecta creating a spin off for the character Cleveland Brown (which I just now got is a play on the name of the football team) called The Cleveland Show (the third show made by Fam Guys makers is American Dad). Going in I had concerns because just having Family Guy and American Dad running simultaneously has caused a drop in the yuks of the main show and dropped its productivity (true to form, shortly after it's season premiere Family Guy is already in reruns). A third show...there just aren't enough jokes for them to do three shows in my opinion.

Still, I wanted to give The Cleveland Show a chance in case they could prove me wrong. After three weeks of watching it, I can safely say they can't. The Cleveland Show isn't bad, it's just boring. Maybe it's because the character Cleveland Brown is such a laid back character to start with. He doesn't launch into impulsive idiotic behavior like Peter Griffin or reactionary paranoia like the American Dad dude. Cleveland is slow and dry, removed from his original purpose of being a foil to Peter Griffin's nutso mania he seems like part of the furniture.

They try hard to surround Cleveland with crazy characters modeled after Family Guy like having a hyperintelligent child or literally having a bear for a neighbor. It just isn't enough. And unlike the strategy of front loading the best jokes into the new show at the expense of other programs that I expected, The Cleveland Show comes across like a contractually obligated mess of left over gags. I think I laughted out loud just once and the rest of the time can only work up to a bemused grin at best.

This show is not worth watching Family Guy go into reruns early in the season for and what's worse it oversaturates the evening with Seth McFarlane's humor down to his sloppy seconds. Even from its modest expectations, The Cleveland Show is a huge disappointment. As Cleveland would say "Oh no."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Saw It On TV

For today's KRQR Double Shot, I have two songs that I've gotten into through commercial means. These songs were probably hot months or years ago but you know me, a little slow.

First up is The Moldy Peaches song "Anyone Else But You" aka the song that Ellen Page and that Hugh Grant of the teen set (meaning working the befuddled charm angle) Michael Cera sing at the end of the film Juno. I also heard the melody of this song used in a recent commercial I think it was for either a theme park or state tourism. Anyway, the song has a nice trade off of male and female voices like they're having a musical conversation. Pleasant and intriguing stuff.

The second one is The Submarines "You, Me and the Bourgeoisie" aka the AT&T song. Everytime I listen to it I can't help but think "More bars in more places, the new AT&T" which takes some of the fun away but lets face it, without the commercial I wouldn't know this song from dirt. Now that I've heard it, I like it!.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mr Mike's High School Record Collection: Boston - Don't Look Back (1978)

I felt like I was in need of some positivity today so I threw an old stand by in the CD player, good 'ol Boston. Their music is always rockin' and happy guaranteed to bring a smile to an old dog like me. I could go into the irony of how a band with such a legally combative and argumentative past could generate cheerful sounding tunes but I'll leave that alone. So here we go, track by track:

1. Don't Look Back

This was the first Boston anything I had owned. When I first started buying records and tapes, I relied on the radio and what music videos I could come by on tv (we didn't have cable tv) to know what was out there. To learn more about Rock music the nerdy way, I bought books on the subject like the Rolling Stone Record Guide or a picture filled book that I think was called Classic Rock. Both books made reference to Boston, a band whose music was often grouped with Journey and Foreigner which were two of my favorite bands on earth. My neighbor that would clue me in on the latest bands had a poster of Boston on his wall that looked really cool. I became fascinated with this band that had a smash album in 1976 only to disappoint in 1978 and disappear afterwards. Since it was 1983 it seemed Boston was gone forever without a trace.

On the way to a family vacation in Lake Tahoe, we stopped at a gas and sip in the middle of the long drive up. While in the store I bought this tape, even though I had not heard a note of Boston's music at that point. The descriptions of their music as high tech finely crafted arena rock was irresistible to me. I popped the tape into the car tape player and was left in awe of what I had heard.

Cruising through the mountains in the Summer heat while guitars chugged and whooshed by as high pitched choruses sang "I! Finally see the dawn arriving. I! Finally see the road I'm driving" was a musically transcendent moment. Needless to say, I was hooked. It was so packed with guitars and amazing was everything I loved about music in 5 minutes time.

Today, this song still carries a spirit of hope that buoys my spirits (even though phenomenal lead vocalist Brad Delp eventually committed suicide). A reminder that you should always move forward, as Satchel Paige famously said don't look back because something may be catching up with you. Or something like that. This was a Top 10 single in '78 though I didn't hear it until I had the tape.

Yes, life is a journey. An organ humming echoey journey with guitars squealing in the background. And by the measure of this track, life is brief clocking in a little over 90 seconds.

3. It's Easy

If you don't look back and take the journey, you find life is easy takin' it day by day. I used to rock out in my little room as a kid air guitaring and everything. If that sounds embarrassing to admit, it's even more embarrassing to say I was caught doing this by a stranger. One day I was rocking out and had left the shades to my window open. I looked out and saw a telephone technician standing on the telephone pole staring at me. Mortified, I kept rocking out because I thought the only thing that could be worse was if I stopped and looked as idiotic as I felt. At least kids today can throw on a plastic guitar and claim they were practicing for a video game. Are you sure life is easy Tom Scholz?

4. A Man I'll Never Be

When I heard this song, I could not believe it wasn't a bigger hit (I think it barely crawled into the Top 40). "A Man I'll Never Be" isn't just a great Boston power ballad, it's one of the best of the form I've ever heard. It has that classic Boston structure of building up tension, releasing and then starting all over again but in a love song form. And the way that big theme-ish guitar part keeps recurring with little variations leading up to the big solo is a marvel. As a teenager who had heard the "Let's be friends" speech from girls I could definitely relate to the lyrics because I felt like the ladies were looking for someone other than me. Though I'm happily married now, I still think this is a brilliant piece of art.

5. Feelin' Satisfied

Or for me aka "That Beach Boys sounding song". Tom Scholz only had a mere two years to work on this record and has said this album was about half finished when it was released. I took that statement at face value because I felt the second half of this album seemed a little thin sonically compared to the first side. Still, "Feelin' Satisfied" had those Boston hallmarks of stop and go guitar licks, harmony vocals and handclaps a plenty. The third single from Don't Look Back, "Feelin' Satisfied" sounds like the foundation of a great Boston sound that was not finished. Strangely, I do feel satisfied. When I saw Boston live in the 80's I thought they were a little dull but enjoyed hearing this one.

6. Party

Boston is not a terribly deep band lyrically, they were a great party band. Even with their clean crisp atmosphere, there is a loopy bit of 70's sleaze in here that gives a little flava. Easily the funnest track on the record, I just imagined a happening 70's kind of par-tay when I would listen to this. The kind where you approach women and call them "Mama" while smoking a lot and drinking Billy Beer. Because we are...two wild and crazy guys.

7. Used To Bad News

My wife suggested this as my personal theme song which fit because I was playing it for sort of that reason anyway. She pointed out this was a happy sounding jam which is true, I was listening to the breezy way it handles the bad news. "Used To Bad News" is one of my fave Boston tracks because I like the laid back beat that suddenly launches into an organ solo followed by a blistering guitar solo. Like if The Eagles had jammed with Uriah Heep. Hopefully the worst of 2009 is over or I'll wear a hole through this track on the CD player!

8. Don't Be Afraid

One of the weaker Boston cuts in my opinion, it's so slight I was surprised to hear it on a bootleg that I believe predates the first record. It's not bad though, because until you got to Corporate America there was no such thing as a bad Boston song in my book. "Don't Be Afraid" meshed together boogie guitars, a John Mellencamp beat and the word "Love" being repeated a lot. Who knows, maybe with four more years Scholz could have made more of this one.

And there you have it, an album made for having a positive outlook on life. Remember to don't look back, get used to bad news and party til you're feelin satisfied. Don't be afraid of the journey even if you're a man you'll never be. While looking up clips on you tube for the music this band Piston kept coming up that seems to have covered the Don't Look Back album in '89. I'm not sure where this band came from and they don't really pull off the sound they're going for but it is fun to watch them try.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

That Joke's Not That Funny Anymore

Dixie says two barks

Long running music parody expert "Weird Al" Yankovic recently released an EP of music on ITunes called Internet Leaks. I downloaded it for my brother who's a huge fan. I've liked some of Yankovic's parodies over the years, the interpolation of the Kink's "Lola" and Star Wars resulted in the humorous "Yoda", "Eat It" was as well known as the gloved one's original for a time and "White and Nerdy" was pure genius. He even had an original song called "Christmas At Ground Zero" that I liked. Yankovic had the ability to take a specific geek skill, making up your own silly lyrics to songs, and use it to build an audience of folks who get to hear catchy music their way.

With Internet Leaks it seems Yankovic wants to try to be a touch more original. Instead of doing direct copies of others hits, he wants to graduate to copying performers. With the exception of "Whatever You Like", a fair parody of the rap hit of the same name, the songs evoke a certain artist. "Craigslist" tackles The Doors (said to include Ray Manzarek The Doors keyboardist), "CNR" is all White Stripes nervous frenzy and "Ringtone" takes Queen for a ride. While it's easy to see who Yankovic has set his sights on with these parodies, the lack of a hook to sell the whole thing causes the enterprise to crumble. Maybe Yankovic is tired of stealing hooks with his goofy humor, instead trying to come up with something to funny to say while imitating a performance style.

This combo falls flat, only "Ringtone" managed to get a half smile out of me as I sat through this tuneless dreck. It's a disappointment in that usually "Weird Al" can deliver at least one winner per outing. Here he strikes out. That leaves everyone else P-P-P-Poker, P-P-P-Poker faced.

Master And Servant

Doomsday rating:
Dixie says 4 and a half barks

Secretary rating:
Dixie says 3 barks

Bolt rating:
Dixie is biased because it's a doggie movie and says 2,000 barks. I say 7 barks.

This week has been a bad week for myself, so when I set out looking for a common theme to the recent movies I've watched I saw an unusually dark thread running through them. Well, it doesn't help that two of the movies have some darkness to them but nonetheless this post may be a little darker than normal for me.

Doomsday (2008)

How's that for uplifting? Doomsday is a post apocalyptic action thrill ride from England set in a future where London is a walled city to separate itself from a plague ridden Scotland (which is funny because we had seen a different program recently where my wife commented on how the British look down on Scotland in fictional entertainment). The plague makes it within the walls of London so they send a small team to check on possible survivors of the plague in Scotland to see if an antidote is possible. The small team led by one time Lara Croft candidate Rhona Mitra encounters a barbaric world stuck somewhere between Mad Max and the Medieval age.

This film by writer/director Neil Marshall isn't just influenced by other sci fi action films, it steals pieces outright. The aforementioned Mad Max, Aliens, A Clockwork Orange, 1984, I Am Legend and others have parts including action set pieces stolen outright. This patchwork script shouldn't work...but it does. Doomsday has a kicky energy that makes no bones about its lack of originality. Instead it revels in it, packing nihilistic punks, dilapilated cities, sword fights, smash 'em crash 'em car chases and an ass kicking Mitra into an action pumped stew. Mitra is a revelation, convincing in her hard bitten warrior girl persona making pithy comments and martial arts moves with commanding presence.

All the while, the movie sublimates the message that the government views people as cattle to be herded and manipulated to their own best interests. An original sentiment? No and of course Mitra is the renegade good guy, er, girl that rebels against the system she serves. Will Doomsday win any awards for anything? Nope, but if you have a chance to see this movie at a low cost it will repay you with cheap thrills a plenty.

Secretary (2002)

It's a lot, it's a lot, it's a lot like life. Secretary is a much buzzed about film from years back where a passive depressed secretary engages in a twisted S&M relationship with her lawyer boss. Starring Maggie Gyllenhall in the lead role as a girl from a well to do yet extremely dysfunctional family that engages in cutting to handle life's stresses. She takes a job with James Spader playing an extremely closed off lawyer that gets a thrill out of coldly putting his secretaries through exacting tasks. When he discovers that Gyllenhall's character will do just about anything she is asked, it creates a forbidden relationship that feeds both of their desires that is way unprofessional.

The story itself starts out strong with a tone that stands between realism and indie Hollywood trendiness. You get this feeling of "Look! Look! We're showing you non mainstream stuff with slightly bent characters, we're unique!!" but for the first two thirds the story is convincing enough to let it slide. The third act takes plausibility and whips it into submission leaving the audience without a safe word like "Bullcrap". Still Gyllenhall is very watchable as the sensitive innocent with a masochistic streak and Spader is a pro at playing twisted people.

The Master and Servant angle is overt here, Spader is the man with the power and Gyllenhall is the girl that likes to be slapped around. Because it's set up as an employer / employee relationship with some light bark about feminism you can read all kinds of subtext here 'cause it's all obvious. Ultimately it's Gyllenhall and Spader that makes Secretary worth taking note of. The rest you can place in the old round file.

Bolt (2008)

Disney's computer animated kids aimed adventure actually works well as good general entertainment. The story of a dog living a sort of Truman Show existence where he is led to believe he is a super powered pup protecting his young girl master Penny has a winning spirit thanks to amusing characters and an infectious fun tone. Little doggie Bolt lives a sheltered life where his owner / actress Penny is in constant danger from the green eyed man. Thanks to Bolt's super speed, super strength, heat vision and super bark he is able to keep the bad guys at bay. Until an episode cliff hanger has Penny captured, resulting in Bolt bolting from the tv studio to try to rescue her.

By accident Bolt ends up in New York, cross country from Hollywood. He captures a street cat named I think Muffin or Mittens who he believes can take him to Penny. A hamster who hero worships Bolt joins the journey back to L.A.

Bolt is cleanly paced and presented with good CGI. While not too different from the animated faire Disney has done over the years in terms of likeable animal characters and crazy adventures, it does a good job of updating the formula. An interesting spin was put on Bolt's loyalty to Penny by consistently referring to her as his "person" rather than owner or master. Somewhat generic yet well executed, Bolt gives an enjoyable Pavloivan response to its viewers: move the lever and you get a treat.

One last note, I saw the Mummy 3. I saw it for free and yet still want my money back. Dixie is sniffing it and is thinking a bowel movement may be needed for this one.
Loyalty is a feeling that can spur people to great heights of accomplishment or happiness, but it will be on other people's terms that it's measured. That's my Springer's final thought, be good to each other people and see you next time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Melting Point Of Metal pt. 2

The second phase of Bon Jovi's career started inauspiciously as longtime bassist Alec John Such exited the group. While they had maintained a healthy chunk of their fanbase with Keep The Faith, the more the 90's wore on the more hair bands struggled. These bands struggled for legitmacy, trying to work in darkness and bitterness often by cannibalizing their lineups (like a Vince Neil-less Motley Crue, or a Jani Lane-less Warrant) alienating their dwindling fanbase to try appealing to an indifferent Generation X. It was in this atmosphere that Bon Jovi released the kickin' "Good Guys Don't Always Wear White" for The Cowboy Way soundtrack. As good as this stomping rocker was (I liked it a lot) it didn't really advance the career. But it was a good lead in to the next album.

These Days (1995)

Keep The Faith recapitulated the band as more of a rootsy Arena rock band (an oxymoron if there was one) with hints of Alternative rock to stay with the times. But the songwriting was a bit spotty, or at least not always memorable. These Days took it all to the next level. The songs were appropriately 90's downers with titles like "My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms" or "Lie To Me" yet the spirit and musicianship is so high that it is one of the band's strongest efforts. In terms of performance, originality, depth and creativity this is the best of the Bon Jovi albums. The addition of permanent sideman Hugh McDonald on bass instantly livens things up with muscular grooves and high end notes that didn't exist with Such. And Richie Sambora is absolutely on fire, freed from shredding he delivers crisp gritty guitarwork as on the opener "Hey God". Their roots rock approach truly gels coming up with heat on rockers like "Damned". Despite their best efforts, the marketplace shrugged their shoulders and the best Bon Jovi could do was score some minor hits with the soulful "This Ain't A Love Song" and the jaunty "Something For The Pain". What could anyone say, it was a recession and Bon Jovi had been lumped with the other hair bands as Reagan era relics. Needless to say the band seemed discouraged by this album's performance since they haven't gone near this sound since then. Too bad, it's my favorite Bon Jovi album once you get past the big two (Slippery When Wet and New Jersey).

Destination Anywhere (1997)

The second Jon Bon Jovi solo album didn't do much to change his commercial fortunes and since I've never heard this I can't say if it's good or bad. I did hear the single "Midnight In Chelsea" which was OK. Tonight a played a few tracks off this album, it has that generic late 90's pop sound to it with the shimmering effects and shuffling electronic beat. At this point JBJ was getting known for his acting, turning in good performances on tv and film including I think it was Ally McBeal. The break in the action also gave the band a chance to reboot itself for the new millenium.

Crush (2000)

Going in Bon Jovi as a band was at their lowest point of visability since 7800 Fahrenheit. A savvy team up with teen pop Producer Max Martin changed the game, as he gave a spiffy high tech sheen to the "Livin' On A Prayer" rewrite "It's My Life". One of the most pivitol songs in Bon Jovi's history, "It's My Life" was a monster smash and caused the public to reassess the group as living legends.

The album in turn was also successful, a mixed blessing to me because once I got past "It's My Life" I had to fish for other things to like about the project. There was "Just Older" a sturdy pop rocker with some of that rootsy flair and great lyrics about aging gracefully. "Next 100 Years" ripped hard like a cross between "Freebird" and The Beatles. "Thank You For Loving Me" effectively updated the power ballad while "One Wild Night" had some of the freewheeling party anthem 'tude of Slippery era Bon Jovi.

Yet there was so much crap on this record that even today I had a hard time sitting through it. They try hard to open up their sound to adopt the modern pop sounds of the day. Crush started a trend in Bon Jovi's songwriting where it seemed like he wrote along to whatever was on the radio as "Two Story Town" knocked off Melissa Etheridge's "Angels Will Fall" and "I Got The Girl" mimicked the theme song to tv's Friends. A deliberate pop approach and a sprinkling of extra Beatles touches shoots through the whole piece. Then a heaping helping of soft focus dewey ballads to finish the job. It's their most toothless album, particularly when you hit junk like the silly slow song "Save The World". One of my least favorite Bon Jovi albums, though a big plus for their career. After "It's My Life" Bon Jovi would never be counted out by the media again.

Bounce (2002)

To date, this was the last full Bon Jovi album I've gotten (though I heard other ones after). Written as the band's response to 9/11 as seen through glitzy Hollywood eyes, they showed focus in both songwriting and performance here. Too bad they couldn't come up with anything as magic as "It's My Life" yet at the same time this album was consistent in providing modest enjoyment. The title track is a stunner of Arena Rock awesomeness, easily my favorite Bon Jovi song of the 21st Century. A driving groove and big gestures a plenty go a long way with me. They seemed determined to rock this time out and came up with good stuff like "Hook Me Up" or "Undivided" that effectively updated their classic sound to present.

That's not to say there isn't holes. JBJ continued to copy too much from the radio, channeling Elton John's "Levon" into "Joey" or xeroxing The Calling's "Wherever You Will Go" to his "Misunderstood". And the ballads seemed a little slighter this time out which is saying a lot considering the lack of quality control Bon Jovi started showing on these things in the mid 90's. "All About Lovin' You" is the best of the bunch, just that phrase "I'm all about..." reminds me more of loving a plate of cheesy nachos or something other than a girl. I'm all about lovin' cheesy nachos!

And the Hollywood connection seemed to get flaunted a bit, the closing track "Open All Night" was inspired by JBJ's character on Ally McBeal. "You Had Me At Hello" misfires in it's attempt to appropriate a Tom Cruise movie catch phrase. And Bounce had the same title as a Ben Affleck / Gwyneth Paltrow film. And as any major dude will tell you, Ben Affleck = bye bye legitimacy. In the end Bounce is a decent rock record with some good moments that seems even better if you don't look to hard at it and just enjoy the ride.

Have A Nice Day (2005)

Now it gets tough to give a full review of these albums that follow because I heard them but didn't get them. The lead single title cut was OK, it was similar but a touch better than Bounce's first release "Everyday". While most of the album rocks hard, it is with a definite ear towards modern pop rock eschewing most of their classic sonics. Meaning it's hard to distinguish this album from something by, say, 3 Doors Down. Maybe it was for the best that the best tune was a Country rockin' duet with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles called "Who Says You Can't Go Home". Simultaneously putting the band on the Country charts, giving promotion to habitat for humanity and giving Home Depots across the nation something juicy for in store play pushed the group back to the forefront of pop again.

Lost Highway (2007)

Remember the lesson: Jon Bon Jovi is a marketing genius. From the moment he changed his last name from...what was it...Biongiovi? to Bon Jovi, he's had his finger on the pulse of middle America. And after seeing probably a lot of CMT Crossroads, Bon Jovi decided it was time to go modern Country. I played this online a few times while it was streaming for free and mostly got little out of it. The first song to be released, "You Want To Make A Memory" struck me as similar to one of those slow Alison Krauss ballads except with a less capable singer (cause Alison Krauss kicks ass!). Second single "Lost Highway" seemed like a lighter take on "Who Says You Can't Go Home" with less juice. And a duet with Leann Rimes on "Til We Ain't Strangers Anymore" tries to be sexy but is ultimately heatless. I have no idea how this fared commercially because I really lost interest and the album seemed overshadowed by Richie Sambora's antics anyway. Sambora was all over the tabloids allegedly drunk off his ass and banging ex-starlets left and right. Was it all true? Probably some of it, in any case watching a potential Sambora flame out was more interesting than anything I heard from Lost Highway. I can't say it was bad, I just felt indifferent.

This brings us full, uh, circle with the pending release of Bon Jovi's new album The Circle. Will JBJ let it rock? Let it roll? The single "We Weren't Born To Follow" has my hopes up. If you would like to hear it with a ton of extra echo, click below!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Melting Point Of Metal pt. 1

I saw the video for Bon Jovi's new song "We Weren't Born To Follow" and I've got to say it's got me the most pumped up for a Bon Jovi album in a long time. I don't think since "It's My Life" that I've looked forward to a new Bon Jovi disc more. Because it's the best rock song I've heard from JBJ in a while, even if it does ape "Born To Be My Baby" just a little bit..but no more than "It's My Life" aped "Livin' On A Prayer".

Bon Jovi has definitely come up with some great CDs, so today I'm going to focus on when I was Jersey's second greatest band. It all starts in 1984 (no surprise there, huh?)...

Bon Jovi (1984)

When I first starting buying music I leaned heavily towards Arena Rock in my music listening. Throughout my life since being a teenager when people casually identify my music listening they usually say Styx even though I play other bands more often. Styx is great and I guess it just pegs what I listen to perfectly. But as they say that's neither here nor there.

There was this video that kept coming on tv that had everything I loved: catchy rock anthem chorus, blazing guitar, those keyboards that sound like a sci fi spaceship and a great video that featured post apocalyptic garb, Firestarter references and a dancing girl at the end. That was the band's first hit "Runaway" (though the band didn't play on this track instead it was a gaggle of musicians including Rainbow's Chuck Burgi and E Street's Ray Bittan). So I ran out and bought that tape, playing it to death during Summer vacation. Nice memories of going around Lake Tahoe making my family listen to the tough attitude of "Roulette" blare over the car speakers making my aunt complain "WHAT IS THIS?" . Blasting the hard rock chant "Breakout" while bouncing a tennis ball off the wall practicing my baseball catching skills. Relating to Jon Bon Jovi's balladic lament that "She Don't Know Me". And rockin out to what would become a recurring phrase in his songwriting, "Shot Through The Heart" (he was a little more philosophical at that point saying it's all part of this thing that we call love). They came across as a cool bunch of rockin' dudes with Tico "Hit Man" Torres on drums, Alec John Such on bass, David Rosenbaum (Bryan) on keyboards, Richie Sambora on guitar and of course, Jon Bon Jovi on the mic.

7800 Fahrenheit (1985)

The beginning of the famous Bon Jovi sound. Jon Bon Jovi is really good at a lot of things- he has a likeable and identifiable voice, he writes songs that people can relate to, the ladies like to look at him and his Superman tattoo - but there is one thing he is really really great at: marketing. Like many superstars of the 80's their success went hand in hand with their ability to read the marketplace and fit into it. In this case, Bon Jovi did some math - Arena Rock bands need pop hits to sell singles, Heavy Metal bands don't need hits and sell albums because they develop a following. He would get a bigger profit selling albums instead of singles plus no pressure for pop hits (though that would come anyway) so Bon Jovi went Metal. Or in this case Pop Metal. Gone were the regular guy jeans and vests, in were spandex and shredded clothes. Hence the title 7800 Fahrenheit which JBJ said was "The melting point of metal". I said to this to someone one time and was asked "Which metal?". I still have no clue.

At the same time JBJ had a high profile relationship with actress Diane Lane that made them the "it" couple for a time. When that relationship ended, it was rumored to inspire songs on this album plus "You Give Love A Bad Name". Damn dude, that's some hurt when it lasts more than one album.

This was one of those records that for the first six songs were flawless and then got boring really quick after. Those six songs were constantly on my turntable. The first single "Only Lonely" with its using the same word to begin and end a sentence gimmick was melodic rock awesomeness. Ditto the weepy synth ballad "Silent Night" with JBJ mourning the end of a relationship (seeing that "sad that it's over" pattern here). "The Price Of Love" was high charged pop rock while the ass kickin stopmper 'King Of The Mountain" was a favorite of mine. And who could forget the epic "Tokyo Road" with it's detailed lyrics that I think involved hookers or something. Belatedly I got into "Hardest Part Is The Night" after I lent the record to a friend who thought the song was awesome. Anyway, "In And Out Of Love" was the first song to really capture what Bon Jovi was going for -feel good arena sized anthems with a touch of Metal crunch smoothed out with synthesizers driven home with a big steady beat. The party hearty video positioned the group as happenin' guys and set up their approach for the next record.

Slippery When Wet (1986)

I've written this story a bunch of times on this blog, still it never gets old for me so here's the short version. 1986 + Me = big Bon Jovi fan. I bought this record as soon as I saw it and played 3 months nonstop 'cause it was the greatest thing I ever heard until I was sick of it. I got a lot of crap from my friends who thought they sucked. In December '86 "You Give Love A Bad Name" goes to #1 and the record I was sick of gets played everywhere all the time including by all those friends who a month before told me they sucked. I was never as big a fan after that as I got really burned out on hearing these songs. Demon dogs!

Now that my personal bitch fest is over, this is an undisputed masterpiece of Hair Metal. I knew of Producer Bruce Fairbairn through his splendid work with Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite, Fairbairn did not disappoint in here. His drive and focus results in tightly structured energetic tunes with bass lines that actually move instead of thudding along. Songwriter Desmond Child was also brought in and gave the band huge ass choruses that let them swing for the fences. Plus, in a making of the record documentary Child surprised me by saying he put a Latin feel in some of the songs including the beat to "Livin' On A Prayer". Armed with powerful songs and a Producer who could surpass their original vision, Bon Jovi could not fail.

And so they became the big thing. "You Give Love A Bad Name" meshed a vampy groove with a high flying chorus mixed to sound like 20,000 voices were singing at the same time. Matched with another feel good party hard video emphasizing JBJ's looks won the band a mass audience. The follow up single "Livin' On A Prayer" with its talk box beat and steady escalating melody became a rock classic. A surprise pick for the third single "Wanted Dead Or Alive" created an instant mythology for the Jersey boys as a weary group of road warriors doing it all for the fans (as well as leading to JBJ to proclaim in Circus magazine that "Wanted" was better than Led Zep's "Stairway To Heaven". "Raise Your Hands" showed up in an early scene of the Star Wars parody Spaceballs. The sentimental power ballad "Never Say Goodbye" won a ton of airplay with that classic verse "remember when we lost the keys and you lost more than that in my backseat baby." "Wild In The Streets" left no secret as to how much influence Springsteen had on JBJ.

As perfect an album as this was, there was even more goodness to be found as Sacramento radio grabbed onto "Edge Of A Broken Heart" from the Disorderlies soundtrack. A killer cut and one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs, I bought the record for this song even if it did mean owning that ambomination that was the Fat Boys rap remake of "Wipeout". Despite my personal bitterness of not being able to get away from Slippery When Wet, I was happy to see this worthy band make it to the top. And about six months later I started to play the record again and still found it great.

New Jersey (1988)

Ever the smart business man, Jon Bon Jovi went the sequel route with the follow up to his breakthru album. New Jersey is Slippery When Wet supersized. Lead single "Bad Medicine" took "Bad Name's" 'tude to the next level with a bigger arrangement and rapidfire verses. Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on...I'm not done! "Born To Be My Baby" effectively revived the desperate romance of "Prayer". And if you liked the cowboy metaphors of "Wanted Dead Or Alive", this time you got "Ride Cowboy Ride" and "Stick To Your Guns". Not to mention the slightly Countryish bracing power ballad "I'll Be There For You". More hits were racked up taking the racy "Never Say Goodbye" further on "Living In Sin" complete with a steamy video and a little gospel fire thrown in on "Lay Your Hands On Me". Even album tracks like the youthful "99 In The Shade" and the excellent "Wild Is The Wind" killed. New Jersey proved they were no fluke. Many Sacramento days and night were spent cruising and hanging out to these tunes while shopping at Tower Records (which I'm told is now a thrift store). The only caveat I had was that photo in the inner tape/CD cover - it looks like Jon Bon Jovi is caught taking a leak under a dock. What's up with that? And didn't Sambora date Cher around this time? Again, what's up with that?

Blaze Of Glory (1990)

After all that success, it was only natural that Jon Bon Jovi take a solo turn. He did it in an odd way, at least odd to me. Emphasizing his previously occasional earthy Country and Western vibe he had developed starting with "Wanted Dead Or Alive", JBJ created a set of original songs for the soundtrack to the Brat Pack Western Young Guns II. He even made a cameo in the film (very brief, though in later years he would be respected for his acting in larger roles). Led by the outstanding single "Blaze Of Glory" that I first heard while watching the end of this movie (I said "Really that's Bon Jovi" aloud while my friends looked at me in shock that I didn't know this already) JBJ nabbed a #1 single all by his lonesome. As good a song as this is, I could not get into this album as a whole. Maybe I'll re-evaluate it some day, but as a result of my initial reaction I can't tell you a thing about this disc other than I didn't like it. Meanwhile, Richie Sambora turned out to have a surprisingly strong following with his solo album Stranger In Town. As Emilio Estevez said, "I'll make ya famous."

Keep The Faith (1992)

A year before this CD, Grunge hit and Alternative Nation took over MTV and all of rock music. In one fell swoop, all the Warrants, Cinderellas, Slaughters and Firehouses got kicked to the curb for being too shallow and predictable - out of touch with a Country that had sunk into recession and a wave of slacker youth who wanted to "keep it real". Could Jon Bon Jovi lead his team through this massive change in music culture? Hell yeah he could.

Keep The Faith found Bon Jovi adapting their formula to fit the alternative rock 90's with mixed success musically but still effectively commercially. A new emphasis was placed on promoting themselves as a traditionalist rock band, mixing in covers like The Animals "We've Gotta Get Outta This Place" alongside their slighly darker new material live. The title track with its loose groove, spoken word verse and heavily featured piano figure leading to that classic Bon Jovi chorus put the group right in with times on their terms - It wasn't pure feel good drama like before, it was more weary but hopeful like classic Springsteen (who at that time wasn't writing like classic Springsteen which left the door wide open for this style). What really drove the album home was the piano based power ballad that followed, arguably Bon Jovi's best known song of this format - "Bed Of Roses".

"Bed Of Roses" with its twisted pain and near martyrdom in the face of love has become the power ballad I've heard most on the radio and people's karaoke from Bon Jovi. Even a few months ago at my parents house, I walked outside into a neighborhood throbbing with Hip Hop beats and Spanish horns from various homes to suddenly hear a really loud karaoke take on this song. It is without a shout of a doubt a great song.

In terms of memories, my wife often associates this album with our dating because I played it a lot at the time. "In These Arms" was the song I was really digging at that time and perfectly explains how I feel about her.

The rest of the album I don't remember a whole lot about, I seem to recall a lot of slow songs on the second side. I did like the kicky "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" though.

Crossroads (1994)

In a rare moment, a greatest hits disc perfectly encapsulated a band's career in addition to being the predictable cash in it always is. With Crossroads Bon Jovi summed up this period by including all their Top 40 hits plus some new stuff. Included was the unnecessarily acoustic moody take on "Livin On A Prayer" plus a forgettable "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night". But the third new cut was an ace power ballad "Always". Written for the film Romeo Is Bleeding but pulled by JBJ after he saw the film (is what I understood at the time, it is a bloody film) it is my personal favorite of his sweeping power ballad statements. After all this success bassist Alec John Such quit the band, leaving the official lineup a quartet from this point forward which I'll continue with a part 2.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Walking With The Panther

For a couple of years I've been hearing about and seeing this sort of joke hair metal band on television that currently is called Steel Panther (I think they've had a few names before this one). They've made a name at being a comedy metal band while playing blazing covers of 80's metal classics. Now they've released an album of original material that accurately rocks in the spandex and scissor kicks style while simultaneously poking fun at the shallow excess of the genre. Their humor is crude so other than the "clean" version of the Warrantesque power ballad "Community Property" (which I mean clean in a comparative way) below the rest I'll have to include in links. If you're a fan of old school pop metal and nasty R rated non pc jokes, this is a really funny and entertaining band. And if you love sappy epic power ballads like I do, this song "Community Property" shoots holes through 'em to reveal the true message of these tunes that we all knew but never had spelled out for us. Their album Feel The Steel includes Motley Crueish "Death To All But Metal" and also the "dirty" version of "Community Property" (which is really dirty, but really funny). So put your lighters, I mean cell phones, up in the air and watch out for Riki Rachtman sightings because it's Steel Panther time!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Under The Milky Way

I meant to post a few days ago about the sad passing of producer / engineer Greg Ladanyi, who apparently fell to his death shortly before a concert he was set to work on September 29th. Ladanyi's name appeared on many albums that I purchased in the 80's, including Fleetwood Mac's Behind The Mask, Don Henley's first two solo albums and Jackson Browne. Not to mention his work with Toto including on the immortal Toto IV. Ladanyi's work was marked by a smooth, tasteful sensibility. While reading one of his obituaries I was surprised to learn he had worked with The Church on the album that included a really great song, "Under The Milky Way".

Most producer / engineers don't get as much recognition as the artists they work with, in Ladanyi's case I feel his input played a factor on some of my favorite tunes on either a technical or aesthetic level. He didn't appear to be an "in your face" producer like say David Foster or Nile Rodgers where you hear 30 seconds and immediately knew who worked on it. As I type this, Toto's "Africa" popped up on my IPOD a song Ladanyi mixed. The "behind the scenes" people can make or break a project, I personally love the layered sound to Toto IV including how some of the piano from the demo is inserted into "Africa". In any case, another sad passing in music, to pay some respect here's The Church's hit that Ladanyi worked on "Under The Milky Way".

Great Moments In History 12/12/87

After years of watching music videos and wondering "how is it the concerts I go to are never recorded for music videos?" lightning struck twice for me with two of my favorite bands. the first was the recording of Journey's clip for "Girl Can't Help It" during my attendance of that group's show in Calaveras County in '86. The next year I attended a taping of a full concert for the mighty Fleetwood Mac.

I had no idea this concert was going to be recorded until I got there (despite the tickets stating it was to be filmed), my parents had given me the tickets for a birthday present. So me and my friend Tim took our seats in the good 'ol Cow Palace to see the Mac attack. They were decent seats on an upper seated level directly across from the middle of the stage. Going in I did know of one or two changes, namely that quirky guitarist / vocalist Lindsey Buckingham had quit and was replaced by guitarist / vocalists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. I was really disappointed that Buckingham had quit before the Tango In The Night tour, as I didn't expect them to come back in the first place and was totally stoked by that album.

As the concert started I saw that this was going to be a recorded event and not done quite as seamlessly as Journey's video either. First, there was this huge tangle of monster cables decending from the middle of the ceiling down to the floor blocking some of our view. And the cameras used included a huge one on tracks that pulled along the front of the stage in addition to the cameramen already scrambling on stage. Plus the house lights weren't brought all the way down, instead maintaining a sort of dusk level that highlighted the amount of smoke (you know what kind of smoke) in the arena. In fewer words, the recording process provided a bit of a distraction that made it tougher to get into the actual show.

But I can't say I didn't get what I wanted, not only did I attend a music video but an entire music vid concert that would later get released on video tape (it was combined with another show filmed at the Cow Palace for the finished product). And a concert I attended has been recorded for posterity, how cool is that? Yet what about the concert itself?

The new Fleetwood Mac (and anyone who has followed this band knows there is a new Fleetwood Mac often) was a tight, professional sounding unit. My teenage crush Stevie Nicks was still there in all her flowing scarves and poofy hair glory. She sounded strong though seemed more reserved than I expected. Maybe it was because this version of the group had a different chemistry, without Buckingham there probably was less drama on and off stage. From the opening song "The Chain" the tone was set: they cruised through a perfect sounding take with good vocals and a steady beat. At the same time, all that nervous edginess and frantic tension the song had with Buckingham was missing. A more polished approach took his place, in addition to Burnette and Vito a percussionist plus background vocalists were brought in to fill out the sound.

Still there were highlights to be seen and heard. Hearing Nicks perform "Dreams" live for the first time was pure magic. Newbies Burnette and Vito tried to invoke the original Fleetwood Mac's memory to good effect with an entertaining "Oh Well" and a mellow "I Loved Another Woman". Rick Vito was a spectacular sight of 80's gaudiness in a poker card covered jacket and dollar sign shaped guitar. "Everywhere" sounded better because Stevie Nicks had more presence in the background vocals (I don't know if she was included in the studio version, the impression I've had is no). "Little Lies" came across well and the one time where Stevie did work up some energy was on her solo hit "Stand Back". And drummer Mick Fleetwood did a one of a kind drum solo where he walked around the stage hitting his chest that made sounds like "Help me!".

All in all it was a good concert and fun, even if the ghost of Buckingham lingered as his "Go Your Own Way" remained at the end of the set. The band's brand of polished mellowness continued into the next studio effort Behind The Mask which I've been playing in the car this week. While I certainly like the Mac better with Buckingham, this lineup had its merits. All of the performers seemed comfortable, Vito could tear it up on guitar and Burnette did have a smoother delivery than Buckingham so it wasn't a copycat. This version of Fleetwood Mac is practically forgotten now, at the time they gave a pleasant backdrop to the end of the 80's.