Thursday, June 30, 2011

Play With Me


Watched Toy Story 3 last week, I liked it a lot. So many things were great, the animation, the story, the voice acting, blah blah blah. Even though I enjoyed it a lot, can't work myself up to say a lot about it. If you liked the first one, this is a must see. I'd say first two, but I've never seen Toy Story 2.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Dream Is Still Alive!

Dream Theater has released their first song without founding drummer Mike Portnoy. I was hoping with Portnoy gone they would lay off some of the nu metal edge they've had lately and if this songs an indicator, they have a little bit. While I wish "On The Backs Of Angels" would have had a stronger melody, it's still plenty good with a nice dose of proggy splash.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rush Says It's Time


They say the third time's the charm - last night I successfully sat through an entire Rush concert. The other two times I saw the band were marred by alcohol and bad luck, so I didn't see (or remember seeing) a full show from the long running Canadian power trio. I wasn't interested in seeing them this tour because I figured something would happen and I'd miss a big part of the show but my wife insisted I should go. She was right. Thank you honey :)

So for the third time we made our way out to the Concord Pavilion (I know it's called Sleep Train Pavilion but it'll always be Concord Pavilion to me). The weather was warm, pleasant. We got good VIP parking. The pre concert music over the PA was a dream mix of classic prog - King Crimson, U.K., Genesis, etc. Had some time to people watch, and some of the crowd's antics bled over into the actual concert (more explanation in a moment).

This show was said to be sold out and judging the crowd size during the show I'd say that's about right. The mix of people there I would probably best describe as what you would see at a big city park. You've got your families with small children there for a group outing, couples there for a night out, homeless looking folk with unkempt appearances and stoners puffing the hell out of their hash pipes. When night fell some took to hiding in the bushes and trees to do whatever, probably more drugs. A fight almost broke out in my seating section because this young wanna be tough guy kid and his girl insisted on standing when everyone else was sitting and shouting at them to stop blocking their view. If he didn't look like a skinny teen kid in over his head trying to look badass in front of his loudmouth girl, he probably would have got beat down.

It was still daylight when Rush hit the stage, it was kinda cool how they nonchalantly walked out there once the opening comedy video ended. The videos showed the band's fake history in a comic light and were pretty amusing. At the end of the first video was the opening to "The Spirit Of Radio" which the full band then started live. The set list went:

The Spirit Of Radio / Time Stand Still / Presto / Stick It Out / Workin Them Angels / Leave That Thing Alone / Faithless / BU2B / Freewill / Marathon / Subdivisions
Tom Sawyer / Red Barchetta / YYZ / Limelight / The Camera Eye / Witch Hunt / Vital Signs / Caravan / Drum Solo / Closer To The Heart / 2112 / Far Cry
La Villa Strangiato / Working Man

Rush opening with "The Spirit Of Radio"? Can't go wrong. One of their biggest hits, blam! In yo face. To say the band sounded tight goes without saying, when doesn't Rush sound tight? The only negative point I can make is it's the end of the tour and G goes well with the whole time machine theme. "Presto" was eddy Lee's voice sounds like it. He had to really push his voice to try to hit notes and at times would lose enunciation as a result. But hey, these guys aren't exactly young and he has been on the road for a year so I cut him some slack.

I purposely didn't look up the set list before going so things would be a nice surprise. So I enjoyed the trio serving up 1987's "Time Stand Still" from the Hold Your Fire album. Kindaa real left turn, I hadn't heard that one since I first got the Cd. It was around here the fight almost broke out in my seating section. "Stick It Out" continued the song's timeline progression from 1987 up thru the 90s culminating in 2007's "Workin Them Angels". While the band sounded fine the drama of the potential fight mixed with some pot heads lighting up next to me made it difficult to focus on the music.

"Leave That Thing Alone" allowed the band to push forward some of their instrumental magic, ending with Geddy Lee tearing it up on his bass. Even though I like "Faithless", I started to feel that the Snakes And Arrows album was getting a bit over represented. Oh well, it was one of my favorite tracks off that disc so I lived with it.

The band then previewed one of two tracks for their in progress new disc, the song was called "BU2B". It reminded me a bit of the Snakes And Arrows approach slightly more developed and even more guitar heavy. So like that album I'd have to hear the song a few times to get how it really hits me, as it was I thought it was just OK. I was impressed that the band would included unreleased material in their main set, it's been ages since I've seen anyone do that. That was cool.

With the lack of big hits being played the audience was respectfully appreciative until they kicked into "Freewill". Maybe they were pumped by the crowd response or just hitting their groove, but 1985's "Marathon" became positively transcendent. The lyric "Like a streak of lightning that flashes and fades in the summer sky" as the sun began to set on the outdoor venue made for a perfect concert moment. A planned mid song explosion gave the crowd a jolt. Then Rush closed out the first half of the show with "Subdivisions". 'nuff said.

During intermission I entertained myself reading the text message board underneath the upcoming concert announcements. My favorite text from the evening? Somebody sent in a Rick Roll "Never gunna give you up Never gunna let you down". Too funny.

A lot has been made of Rush performing the entire Moving Pictures album this tour which is fine by me, it's my favorite Rush album (even though I haven't owned it since the mid 80s). Once they began the second half with "Tom Sawyer" I knew what I was in for. It's "Tom Sawyer", let the air drumming begin! Even though it's largely regarded as a Neal Peart showcase, I really enjoyed how Alex Lifeson switched up some of the guitar solo a little. Not a lot, but just enough to make it stand out as different from the record. And Lee had intermission to rest his voice so he was able to push his vocal a little harder on the band's definitive song.

True to album sequence "Red Barchetta" roared up next. Followed by that beast of an instrumental, "YYZ". I freakin LOVE "YYZ". Always have. So to say I marked out to this jam is an understatement. It was just too bad I had to rely on the video camera coverage to see what drummer Neal Peart was doing. His drum kit is so tall that the only thing visible to the naked eye was his left arm hitting the snare drum or when he tagged the cymbals up top. Still, things couldn't get much more perfect with Geddy Lee hopping all over the stage playing off Lifeson and Peart. Oh yeah, "Limelight" was next so I guess it could get more perfect.

Now I haven't owned Moving Pictures since about 25 years ago. That's how long it's been since I've heard anything from side 2 of that esteemed album (except for when I wrote a brief review of Moving Pictures a few years back, I played snippets of the songs online to job my memory). Although I remembered some of the keyboards on "The Camera Eye" I had forgotten how awesome a piece of music it is. A long form prog piece, "The Camera Eye" was damn good. "Witch Hunt" pleased the hardcore fans, as the voices that sang along with the band got noticeably less but clearer here. And "Vital Signs". Totally forgot that one. Maybe because the band knew they were playing lesser known material at this point in the show, the lighting mechanism lowered down over the band and moved it's mechanized arms up and down like an electric octopus.

With the sold out crowd in rapt attention following the Moving Pictures part, Rush threw out their second unreleased song "Caravan". It was slightly better than "BU2B", the song was a touch more memorable and the instrumental break killed. Neal Peart's drum solo was up next. It was epic. Peart is one of the best rock drummers of all time, his solo started on his massive regular drum kit before it rotated to a smaller kit. It finished with a big band part displaying Peart in his element.

Had to take a whizz and missed most of "Closer To The Heart". "2112" got fans fists pumping as Rush continued to dig into their 70s catalog. The band announced this would be the last song before returning to the Snakes And Arrows era for "Far Cry".

We left during "Far Cry" to dodge the traffic so I didn't see "La Villa Strangiato" and "Working Man". Fortunately, "Working Man" is one of the songs I recall from the first two concerts so I can say I've seen it.

I'm happy to say I've seen Rush in concert now without feeling like it needs an asterisk next to it. Saw it from start to finish. Their performance was near perfection. And all of Moving Pictures? Can't put that down. Sure I can quibble on Geddy Lee's vocal more or on having too many songs from Snakes and Arrows (3) but when all is said and done, I loved it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Old catchphrases get revived all the time so I'm putting my vote in for Buggin'. As in "Why you buggin'?" I just always liked that phrase.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Knight And Day You're Not The One


On How I Met Your Mother there is an episode where a character has her past work ridiculed by co-workers at her current job. Her friend advises her to "steer into the storm", in other words be the first to make jokes at her own expense. It's this type of thinking that I believe is behind Tom Cruise's decision to star in the fluffy Knight And Day movie. Everyone say's you're crazy? Play a character that other characters consider to be nuts.

The trailer promised lightweight spy comedy fun with Tom Cruise playing a nutso government agent gone rogue and Cameron Diaz as the girl next door caught up in the danger. All cast and crew do their best to give life to this run of the mill action rom com, they just fall short. The air of predictability strangles Knight And Day in a vise grip of mediocrity. Winning performances by the two leads isn't enough to keep the momentum going no matter how likeable they are.

Meaning it's no better or worse than the Mel Gibson / Goldie Hawn action rom com Bird On A Wire from years past. If you watch the intriguing trailer and compare it to the finished film, the difference between the two becomes as obvious as...wait for it...night and day!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Witchy Woman Ages Gracefully...


Stevie it seems fitting to write this review in her style, little one. The original witchy woman (who is not the subject of the Eagle's hit) has released her first solo album in a decade. And it soars on the wing of a white winged dove(which means it's good). The stars aligned to unleash her best written work since '83's Wild Heart record. And it gives...a portrait of...a woman aging gracefully...sitting in the corner of a crowded a shadow of a a dream...or a Jane Seymour movie... Like the album title In Your Dreams suggests, Nicks lays on the mystique thick invoking exotic locations and the dead (even undead). Dave Stewart's gauzy production enhances the dark mysterious mood while keeping a spotlight on Nicks' fortune teller presence. In fact, if Nicks wasn't so authentic (and wealthy) I'd say "Wide Saragasso Sea","New Orleans", "Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream) and "Italian Summer" were inspired by surfing basic cable tv. But this is Stevie's world baby, so we stay with her awhile. Part of the fun of a Nicks album is deciphering what she's talking about. In Your Dreams is the most romance novelish thing she's done yet, with themes of passion and hope amid a shifting sea of mortality and maturity. Sort of Anne Rice minus the goth. Which works concept and execution...And so...the story goes...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Midnight Madness - Clarence Clemons Edition

Sad to read about Clarence Clemons having a stroke over the weekend. I certainly hope the best for his recovery. He always comes across as a pleasant guy and I think anyone who cares to know is already aware of his many musical contributions. Update: Clarence Clemons passed away today Saturday June 18. RIP Big Man. Thanks for the memories.

Tears Are Falling - in less critical bummer news, looks like Shannon Tweed and Gene Simmons are gonna break up on his reality show Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Even though I thought a decent portion of the show seemed scripted in recent years, I thought they did a good job of appearing genuinely affectionate of each other. Guess not.

Yes They Can - as hypocritical as it is, I can't say I was terribly psyched when Yes replaced singer / lyricist Jon Anderson. Which is funny considering how many bands I still follow from the 80s that have changed singers more often than underwear. So I was only mildly interested in their upcoming CD Fly From Here until I saw Trevor Horn was producing. Making this a roundabout (wink, wink) way of following up 1980's Drama album. Damn you Yes, you got me psyched again!

How Super is Super 8? - the flick has good buzz and nice advertising which has me thinking it might be pretty good yet not wanting to run out and see it immediately. Or am I just resistant to the invocation that this might be classic Spielberg by proxy? 'Cause I find it hard to believe anything can be that good.

Stone Cold - it's sad and aggravating people were prepared to rob and kill singer Joss Stone. I assume she was targeted for being rich only, I don't remember anything controversial about her that would piss people off to the point they'd want her dead. That's some cold blooded stuff.

Attack Of The Reruns - in rerun season, relying on new eps of Tosh.0 and The Avengers for tv viewing survival.

It Was A Good Day - Between playing Grand Theft Auto IV and hearing Music Choice on occasion I've heard this Isley Brothers song a lot. "Footsteps In The Dark". It's really grown on me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Journey Makes Believers Out Of All Of Us

"Don't Stop Believin" has had an interesting life, in the 80s it was an dominating rock anthem that many a Class Of '81 graduated to. But in the grungy alt rock 90s the song disappeared from view. The rock critic elite that had trashed Journey throughout their career was all too happy to see them go, until a sign of life flickered in 1998 thanks to an incredible string version used for the film The Wedding Singer. Since the turn of the century "Believin" has returned to its former glory, referenced by sports teams, movies and television series alike. It's become the theme song to a nostalgic view of modern optimism, maybe made more complex by chance than design but still there it is. And everyone wants a piece of it, in the last decade or so "Don't Stop Believin" has become a standard like "Strangers In The Night" or "If I Had A Hammer". So I spent tonight subjecting myself to a variety of cover versions so I can take a look at the song past Journey or Steve Perry.

There are a couple of basic ways to cover this song, I'll start with the best known one.

The Musical Take

What if all those streetlight people that were holding on to that feeling were to sing in unison while performing complex choreography? That question seems to weigh heavily on people's minds because two of the most popular cover versions of "Don't Stop Believin" is exactly that. The tv show Glee has the best known cover, going all High School Musical with zippy production and emphasis on a capella to accent the groove. It's not bad for what it is, I'm indifferent to it myself other than it brings recognition of the song to the young generation which is nice. The Broadway play Rock Of Ages uses the song as well for the big finish to their show. In both Glee and Rock Of Ages the tune is used as a sweeping gesture to bring a bunch of characters together to allow their moment to shine. While the musical take draws a lot of the rock muscle out of "Don't Stop Believin" I guess it isn't too different than hearing 25,000 fans in an arena screaming along with three or four beers in them. The Glee cover has caught on like wildfire with similar versions coming out from as unlikely places as Big Brother. Though when you get to the point where one or two people are making covers of the Glee cover, that goes a little too far. By the time you get to Alvin and the Chipmunks (who are autotuned to death, who thought of autotuning what is already understood to be a studio manipulated vocal?) it's game over.

The Full On Cover

Who dares to challenge the greatness of Steve Perry? Other than everybody with two turntables and a microphone? Can anyone sing this song better than the originator, he who gives life to magic, Steve Perry?? Don't give me no back talk, no. But a lot of people try and some do really well, even those that aren't officially sanctioned by Neal Schon and Jon Cain to do so under the Journey name. He who was nearly Steve Perry's replacement in Journey Kevin Chalfant does a good job of getting some Perry Power into his version. Tribute band singer Hugo has made a lifetime career out of being Steve Perry so ditto him as well. Plus the tribute band Evolution has this guy who even mimics the dress and mannerisms of Sir Perry. Where it gets interesting is Starship's Mickey Thomas covered it too, I always enjoy Thomas' vocals and got a kick out of his version. Wish I could say the same about American Idol's James Durbin tackling the arena rock classic, I enjoyed his performances generally but on tv he was to distracted by playing to the crowd to nail his vocal. Fans of Durbin must have felt the same as he was voted off the next night. Eric Dover (of Slash's Snakepit) had an OK take with his voice but the backing track seemed thin. His You Tube posting said he would go after anyone who makes a bad comment about his cover, it will be interesting to see if that's true. Fall Out Boy took a shot at it live, too bad the singer's voice failed him on the really high end. When it comes to the full on cover, the version with the most impact is Steel Panther's. A great balance of energy and knowing cheese, a mix they often do well.

String A Long

The Wedding Singer made the string arrangement of "Don't Stop Believin" a dream for people's nuptuals, except that version can't seem to be found anywhere. But there are string versions out there. Vitamin String Quartet had my favorite of the versions out there because it came closest to Wedding Singer with the slowed down tempo. Low Strung does a nice rendition too with a pace that's closer to the original. Still, it's that Wedding Singer version that everyone remembers fondly including me.

Dancing Machine

If Dance Dance Revolution taught me one thing, it's that I really can't dance. Other than that, DDR taught me that any song can be remade into a bleepin' and bloopin' electronica jam. The best of the dance covers was by some guy named Newton. It at least had a eurodisco feel to it. There were a few other versions I listened to but I'm not a big electronica fan so it all starts to sound the same after a bit.

Alt Rocka

We're getting into more painful territory as we get to Alternative Rock covers. Journey's slick arrangements and Perry-ized vocal style doesn't translate too well to the angsty mild punk pop of today. The best of what I could dig up was by somebody named Five Hour Flight Music, it was at least clean and entertaining. Another group called Flight 409 (what is it with alternative rock and flights?) has a singer that works in that current style what is it called - emo? I think he sounds emo. Doesn't work well for this song. I give them credit though for retaining the lurching drums. The biggest laugh I got out of this You Tube cruise is what's labeled a screamo cover. Funny stuff.

Odds & Ends

You'd think that would be all the covers right there...but wait! There's more! A group or person named Boyce Avenue has a pleasant piano ballad version that's pretty decent. There are also bluegrass and lullaby renditions that have a novelty to them. But my favorite of all the "Don't Stop Believin" covers is the a capella one done by Petra Haden. I guess her version influenced Glee's which takes some of the edge off, I remember when I first heard it how impressed I was with it's inventiveness. It's fantastic.

Which brings us full circle. There are tons more covers out there, I just don't have time to go through them all. The movie never ends, it goes on and on and on and on.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Dream After Dream


Journey's new disc Eclipse is out and I got it this week, and I have found it their most addictive release since - wait for it - Frontiers. It is that good. I've played it four times over in the last 48 hours. But it is also gonna be a tough sell to a mass audience. I don't think many of the fans they won over with Revelation is going to like Eclipse. It's not a very romantic album. Not a lot of heartache and heart break here, which is what a lot of people like about Journey's music.

When it comes to Journey, people expect power ballads ("Open Arms", "Faithfully")and self empowerment anthems("Be Good To Yourself", "Don't Stop Believin"). On Eclipse Journey ditches the former and goes all in on the latter. Every song on the album depicts struggle against the odds and fighting to get to the top because as they are sure to tell you "Anything Is Possible" when you "Resonate" at the "Edge Of A Moment" in the "City Of Hope".

To be honest, I was really ready to not like Eclipse before I even heard it. I had read online about the uncommercial tact of the new album and when they had done this type of thing before on Red 13 or Generations the results kinda sucked. When I hit play on my Ipod for this sucker, I braced myself for a lot of non melodic jams with excessive guitar soloing.

So I was shocked, shocked I tell you, that the melodies are killer on Eclipse (like the dramatic "Chains Of Love" where the building chorus is awesome). And while there is a ton of guitar on this disc, I didn't find the solos excessive. Plus drummer Deen Castronovo gets a chance to really shine here, playing with both weight and dexterity. Arnel Pineda has settled into the frontman role nicely and sounds at home here. There is a very real prog rock edge to Eclipse with moments that deftly recall the Next / Infinity days ("Venus" and "Human Feel") combined with some slick choruses a la "La Raza Del Sol".

While Schon's unmistakable guitar and Cain's hooky choruses stamp the music as Journey, I was thinking about how much I like the album but not in the usual Journey way. Then as Arnel Pineda got near operatic singing over Jon Cain's classical sounding piano during "Tantra" it hit me: Holy Crap, Journey made a Dream Theater album. A really freakin' good Dream Theater album, I'm talking Images And Words era DT. Producer Kevin Shirley once produced a Dream Theater album so he definitely knows the territory. And it explains why Castronovo's drums has so much presence, he's got Mike Portnoy room to work with in the songs.

Some people might think I'm putting down Journey for sounding like DT but I'm really not. Regardless of whether the homage is accidental or intentional, this music goes to the heart of the type of music I love - 80s AOR with proggy overtones. It's not for everybody, I remember in high school being the only guy owning Toto's Isolation album let alone liking it, but this sound is definitely for me. I won't be surprised if Journey ditches this musical style by the next album, so I plan to enjoy it while it lasts.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

"There Is No Journey Without Steve Perry..." (1998 - Present )

...Is the mantra of many a Journey fan since The Voice's dismissal in 1998. And who could blame those fans, in my entirely biased opinion Steve Perry is simply the greatest singer who ever lived in the history of the planet. And many fans like me became Journey fanatics thanks to his soulful, soaring vocals. However, I differ from some Perry fanatics in that when it comes to Journey I wasn't just a fan of Perry, but the whole band. Jon Cain's structured songwriting and cascading keyboards, Neal Schon's revved up guitar riffs and flamethrower solos, Steve Smith's understated and classy drumwork and Ross Valory's rock solid bass were other pieces of the Journey puzzle. Sure, Perry was a BIG PART of the successful phase of Journey's career but for me he wasn't all of it. And after Perry had solo success and the clout to stop Journey from rockin' anymore, I really saw Perry and Journey as two different entities from that point forward. Perry seems to want to do ballad after ballad after ballad and that's fine, he's great at it, but the Journey I became a fan of was a ROCK band. So I wasn't totally sad when Jon Cain and Neal Schon decided their wheel in the sky needed to turn a little longer with a brand new singer (even if it was kinda cold to kick a guy out because of a physical injury. It's not like they're a football team. But I bet Ross Valory was like "Yes! I'm not the one getting canned this time!")

Armaggedon Soundtrack (1998)

On the same movie soundtrack that Steven Tyler didn't want to close his eyes or fall asleep, Journey debuted a track ("Remember Me") with ex-Tall Stories singer Steve Augeri. How did I know it was Steve Augeri? The CD jacket told me so. I eagerly bought this disc just to see how Journey was going to sound and I was impressed with the cut. Augeri did sound a lot like Steve Perry except with more of a rock edge than r&b. Even though Deen Castronovo's heavy drums made them sound more like Bad English, I was happy that my favorite band was back and they were gonna rock again. I caught Journey in '99 on the Vacation's Over tour and when Steve Augeri took the mic at the start of "Separate Ways" I thought "Damn this guy is nailing it!". While Augeri didn't have as much energy as Perry did in his hey day, Steve mach 2 had plenty of cool moves and knew how to work the crowd well. By the end of the show I was sold that Augeri was a good pick.

Arrival (Japanese version 2000)

Journey hit the studio with producer Kevin "Caveman" Shirley, a guy who would come to produce a lot of their stuff from this point forward. I was plenty psyched to hear this new album, so much that my wife was nice enough to order it for me as an import. And so I heard the new disc and in the words of ex-member Randy Jackson, "They slayed it dawg." Though I was surprised that it didn't rock quite as much as I thought it would, there were still more rock tracks here than the prior two albums combined. "To Be Alive Again" and "Higher Place" blew me away, as well as the quiet piano ballad "Loved By You". Ditto the swaggering "I Got A Reason". Neal Schon had room to get all bluesy on "Livin To Do". And even the soft rock cut "I'm Not That Way" stood out. The only song I didn't like was "All The Things" because it was just too hard rock in this context. And I was lukewarm on the lead single "All The Way" because it seemed like a rewrite of "When You Love A Woman". But in one of the biggest bonehead marketing moves of the new century, they released Arrival to other countries ahead of America. In the age of Napster. D'oh!

Arrival (American version 2001)

With many fans downloading the album without the alternative of buying the CD domestically, Journey had to go back to the drawing board for the American release. I'm glad they did 'cause Schon used it as an excuse to punch up the Rock, adding new tracks "World Gone Wild" and "Nothing Comes Close" changing the character of the disc. My only complaint was the switch to a fade out at the end of "To Be Alive Again", I like that song better on the Japanese version. Saw them live again this tour and they were still going strong.

Red 13 (2002)

For their next release Journey went the EP route with the oddly titled Red 13. Which makes me think of Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men "Did you order the Red 13!!!" (I know, it was code red in the movie). Journey or probably Neal Schon wanted to get less commercial so the songs here aren't very catchy. Despite some good moments I didn't care for this disc. It just kinda bored me.

Generations (2005)

Two Captains. One Destiny. Wait, that's Star Trek. On Generations rumors abounded that Steve Augeri's voice was starting to burn out on Perry-esque high notes. The resulting album, Generations, fanned those flames by having a disc where every member sings lead at least once. This gave the album a multiple personality disorder with weird shifts in tone. It was also one of the laziest written things they had done. "Faith In The Heartland" sounded like u2's "Where The Streets Have No Name". "Knowing That You Loved Me" reminded me of a Boys II Men song. Schon sung "In Self Defense" was a retread from his '83 album with Jan Hammer. And the ZZ Toppish "Gone Crazy" with Ross Valory singing seemed like they had gone just that. Surprisingly, drummer Deen Castronovo came off good by sounding more like Steve Perry than Augeri ever did on the midtempo "A Better Life" (my favorite from this album) and rocked out "Never Too Late". By the time they hit the road more rumors spread about Augeri claiming he was doing an Ashlee Simpson miming to prerecorded vocals in concert. A surprise appearance by Steve Perry at the Hollywood Walk Of Fame induction ceremony led to a rash of "Is Perry back in?" theories. Eventually Augeri left to have throat surgery and was replaced by Jeff Scott Soto who had a good response from the fan base. Went to their concert where they were opening for Def Leppard on this tour. I thought Soto was OK but not great (though that W.E.T. album recorded later on was awesome) and had a stage presence that reminded me of Leroy from Fame (lots of hip shaking and exaggerated dance moves). The internet fan base seemed deflated when Soto was let go with the band stating they wanted a singer that sounded-how did they put it? Heritage? Legacy? I think it was Legacy. Anyway, it was code for someone who sounded more like Steve Perry.

Revelation (2008)

Journey surprised everyone (including the person they picked) when they revealed their latest lead singer selection was Arnel Pineda of the Phillipines. Pineda injected some much needed soul into the vocals making the band sound more like they did with Perry. They signed a big deal with Wal Mart and with Kevin Shirley back at the board recorded their best effort since Arrival. And it was here where the "There is no Journey without Steve Perry" mantra got really really LOUD. Like a small scale President Obama, Pineda was warmly received by many while a significant number of people questioned whether he should have any right to do the job at all. Until the release of Revelation I took a wait-and-see approach to Pineda, I wasn't sure if he was a great vocalist or great mimic (I posted this a few years back and got the most negative comments out of any post I ever did.) Revelation was a strong disc that convinced me Pineda's vocals could stand on their own merit and in a live setting he's pretty damn amazing. Running all over, leaping to prime DLR heights and unleashing wailing high note after high note with perfect accuracy, Pineda is a beast in concert. Seeing the band live with Pineda was fantastic. His minor short comings were shown on the Revelation companion disc of re-recorded greatest hits. Pineda sounded stiff (the opposite of how he sounds on the album of original material) in this setting and it didn't help that creatively there was no point to doing new versions. Nonetheless, Revelation was Journey's most successful album since 1996's Trial By Fire. They also got an Adult Contemporary hit with "After All These Years".

That brings us to the present. Journey's got a new album out called Eclipse. Just like the name of my favorite breath mints. Just got it this week, so I've decided to make the rest of this week Journey week on the blog. Though they piss off some fans, I'm glad Journey has decided to...corn ball drum roll please...don't stop believin'!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Catching A Big One


Saw a DVD of the documentary movie Catfish the other day, this movie has had a lot of buzz about it for a while. The movie documents how this photographer in New York starts a friendship with a girl from I think Michigan who likes to make paintings of his pictures. Through the girl the photographer befriends the girl's mother and eventually a romantic relationship with the girl's older sister. The relationship builds not through personal contact but via modern communication media of Facebook, text messaging and cell phones.

Eventually, the photographer becomes motivated to meet these people face to face. And then things get real interesting...

I watched this movie over the span of two days when I had time, I found it highly addictive. While no where near as ominously Blair Witch Project as the trailer suggests, in fact it can be argued this flick makes a mountain out of a molehill, Catfish is a fascinating parable about being a little wary of another person's online identity. It delves into one of those things that everyone goes "Oh yeah, I know about that" until it actually happens to them.

Catfish isn't earthshaking or amazing, it does raise an interesting topic about if there is a difference to people in general about trust. Does the amount of trust another person deserves depend on how you are communicating with them? For example, I don't feel the need to share every detail of my life on this blog just the parts I want to share. Is omission lying? Is it lying if nobody even reads this? It's not like I'm claiming to be an astronaut or anything. Would I feel more compelled to be honest and open about my life in face to face communication versus this, or the opposite? Or does it depend on my perception of honesty from the other person online, in person or otherwise? It's this grey area that struck me about the movie as interesting,even though that isn't exactly the question being raised(though it's close)

So yeah, Catfish is a pretty good documentary that certainly hooked me once I saw it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Double Shot Time

Time for a double shot of two recent songs made by bands I loved in the 80s.

First up, Whitesnake. I saw them live for the first time a few years back and it was awesome. And just in time, shortly afterwards David Coverdale had to cancel the tour to take care of his voice. Now the lead snake has slithered back to hear the wolf howl on "Love Will Set You Free" from the album Forevermore.

Next, Nor Cal rockers Night Ranger ditch their wanna be alt rock / nu metal ways of their last disc to go back to their Midnight Madness sound. Plus, they've managed to snag a guitarist and keyboardist who play and sorta look like the missing original members(though what I've heard of guitarist Joel Hoekstra's playing is good enough to stand on its own). The result is an effective time travel back to '84 on "Growin Up In California" taken from the upcoming album Somewhere In California.