Friday, March 16, 2018


I'm sure if The Doors had known this was the last concert of theirs that would ever be filmed, they would have brought more than the one red light illuminating them throughout this set. Of course, how were they to know they'd only play two more gigs before Jim Morrison left for Paris, and his demise. Also, they didn't know the deal at the Isle of Wight was that each band was responsible for their own lighting, so they just borrowed a red one, and had the festival's follow-spot to cut through the 2 a.m. gloom. Actually, the red gives the whole thing a spooky aura, fitting for The Doors, and the overall mood of their performance.

This was not a happy time for the group, with Morrison on trial for obscenity in Miami, nobody willing to book them in the U.S., and their immediate future bleak. Morrison had entered the beard phase, and clearly is not interested in causing a ruckus that night, barely moving from behind his mic, singing with his eyes closed for much of it, and letting the band try to make up the energy. Funny though, even this version of Morrison is still captivating, and he still manages to come alive at the right times to howl in Break On Through. If you couldn't see his face, like most of the 600,000 festival-goers, you'd have heard a really good show. The Blu-ray viewer has to wonder if he's stoned or drunk from his face, but really, he doesn't sound it.

The show does drag though, because of the long jams added to everything. There are just seven songs, but the set lasts over an hour. That's an awful lot of Robby Krieger soloing, never the best guitar player of the era, a time when everybody felt the need to ramble on. With nobody moving much, the viewer is left with the feeling they've entered a practice hall, not a live show. It also speaks volumes that this August 1970 show is based around their debut album from three years before, with the big four cuts from then featured: Light My Fire, Break On Through, Back Door Man and The End. Only Roadhouse Blues and Ship Of Fools are played from the just-released Morrison Hotel, with When The Music's Over the other number. It feels very much like they're doing what they have to do so people will feel like satisfied.

The sound is great though. Original Doors engineer Bruce Botnick has done a shiny 5.1 mix, and the film has been expertly restored, probably looking better than it ever has. A feature called This Is The End has been added, which explains the whole Miami incident in clips from the other three members, some new, some of the old Ray Manzarek stuff. The Isle of Wight show happened just after the trial started, Morrison still possibly going to prison, so no wonder he was subdued. It's good to have the context, I'd actually advise watching it first, before the live show.

Are there better Doors shows and videos available? Oh you bet, but with these important bands, we're now at the point where it's important to have the history. As John Densmore says, "Since he checked out at 27, it's precious footage."

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Randy Bachman has all the right in the world to do a tribute album to George Harrison, but he sure has a lot of balls to do this one. Bachman is almost the same vintage as Harrison, having started out in the early '60's, and was a Beatles fan before they even made it to North America, famously hearing them via a friend's reel-to-reel tapes sent over from England. They were both lead guitar players for hit-making '60's bands, and had a second big career in the '70's. So why did this turn out so tacky?
I won't slag Bachman for the usual reasons many Canadians do, sick of his radio  show and the constant me, me, me, refrain of his chatter, plus the outright factual errors he and the CBC allow to go through. At least I won't slag him in connection with this album. Instead, I'll slag him for the unnecessary and bizarre reinterpretations of the Harrison songs that will no doubt leave the late beloved Beatle spinning wherever he is, somewhere in the greater cosmos.
The thing starts somewhat lamely, but at least harmlessly, with a new tribute song Bachman wrote, Between Two Mountains. The title phrase refers to George's place between Lennon and McCartney, not the worst metaphor ever, but the rehash of classic Harrison guitar lines doesn't really make this a needed work.  Then, in a jaw-dropping move, the next cut and first cover is the Beatles' oldie If I Needed Someone, and I shit you not, it's done in a smooth jazz version. Now hey, I'm all for stretching and changing these things, but The Beatles as George Benson in his near-disco phase?  
And it gets worse. Here Comes The Sun as a reggae tune only sounds good on paper. Get it? Sunshine = Jamaica? The Wilburys' beloved Handle With Care is dull and sludgy, and sounds like BTO doing it. To liven up Think For Yourself, he flies in the slide guitar lick from My Sweet Lord, which only confuses the matter.
Taxman becomes an electric blues with a John Lee Hooker beat on the verses, and in the chorus it sounds like he and the singers are going "Batman!" instead of Taxman, like in the cartoon TV theme. And to show there's not a subtle moment on the album, I present Something, one of the great love songs of our day, now sped up and more resembling Boz Scaggs' Lowdown (actually a good song) with a plodding bass line and way too much electric soloing from Randy.
I'll give it this, the guitar playing is fine throughout, and the version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps works, along with guest Walter Trout on guitar. But like everything else he does, this album is all about Randy, and George gets lost in the process.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


If anybody has done this before, I've never heard of it. Making an original album wasn't enough for the Tin Pan Darlings, so the group went ahead and made a movie to go along with it as well. Not a documentary or making-of, an actual movie that matches the plot of the album. And, the Maritime group is touring the creation, so you can go see the show, as they perform the album to go along with the film. Tres cool.

You'll also be able to see the film on YouTube starting in April. It's a silent movie, a comedy, reflecting the jazz age style of the music, a '20's - '30's vintage feel and look. Tin Pan Darlings is lead by singer Tracy Anderson, who conceived of the project five years ago, first as music. Then her sister, pianist Amy got more involved, and learned, yes learned, how to make a film. The nine-track album runs about 36 minutes, so a good chunk of filming to do.

I can't tell you about the visuals yet, but the music is superbly created, featuring some of the region's best jazz players. Anderson teamed up with the dean of the scene, Halifax jazz-blues pianist Bill Stevenson, a fixture on CBC for years, and a frequent collaborator with, hmm, everybody, as producer and co-writer. He brought along his colleagues in Easley (Thom, double bass), Stevenson and Arsenault (Geoff, drums) for some cuts, and there are different combinations of players on each cut, featuring rich horn arrangements, and even some vintage jazz violin from Ray Legere. Amy handles lots of piano, and predictably Stevenson wades in with some tasty keys himself, especially the organ on Bathtub Gin.

Legere's violin is featured on Let's Have A Romance, playing off Anderson's vocals, a lighthearted proposal played out to a tango. On Cabana Song, the troupe goes Latin as the lovebirds go on vacation to a gentle samba, with Anderson getting to playfully follow the melody, scatting along to the piano notes. You can get a good sense of the plot from the soundtrack, all those classic jazz scenarios, and revel in the fine performances all the way through.

The live show is going to be quite an event, with the movie and with the Tin Pan Darlings performing as a jazz quintet, featuring both Andersons, Paul St. Amand on trumpet, Adam Bourque on double bass and Brendan Melchin on drums. Here are the tour dates so far:

March 21st, Second Wind Music Centre, Florenceville - Bristol
March 22nd, Five and Dime, Saint John
March 23rd, Sackville Commons, Sackville, NB
March 24th, Grimross Brewery, Fredericton 
May 12th, CodaPop Studios, Halifax

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


One of your classier and more enjoyable tribute concert sets gets reissued, and certainly one that resonates with fans still. There was no trouble gathering big names to celebrate Harrison, so much so that it was kept to real, close friends, which ended up making the performances all touching, and first-class as well. Everyone brought their A game, and of course, they had wonderful material to work with. Too bad Dylan wasn't there, no idea why not, but you had other fellow Wilburys Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers) and Jeff Lynne, plus Beatles Paul and Ringo, one-time fifth Beatle Billy Preston, and friends Eric Clapton, Gary Brooker (Procol Harum) and Joe Brown.

Then there was Ravi Shankar watching his daughter Anoushka lead a big Indian orchestra through his composition for George, Arpan, and Jeff Lynne singing Harrison's Indian-themed Beatle number The Inner Light, music that encompasses the first CD here. Of course, Harrison was the one who made us all pay attention to these exotic sounds in the first place. I remember as a kid finding them so difficult to appreciate, but now they float by, and I can follow these deft and delicate patterns, and find it relaxing and inspiring. Thanks for that, George.

On the rock side, well it's beloved hit after hit, with a huge band led by Clapton and augmented by young Dhani taking his father's place. Lynne, Clapton and Brooker offer up versions of three Harrison Beatle tunes back when he was being allowed the odd one: I Want To Tell You, If I Needed Someone and Old Brown Shoe. Not only do they hold up, they prove the point that he was being held back by being in the world's best band as his talents grew. A couple of solo numbers then make the point that his songwriting was brilliant from '68 on. Lynne does a nice job on Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth), although really that's one where the band absolutely shines, while Clapton does a stunning job on Beware Of Darkness, one of those times that proves how awesome he can be with the right song. British singer/actor Joe Brown gives a music hall feel to his tunes, including Here Comes The Sun, good-natured stuff. But then show switches to overdrive.

Petty and the Heartbreakers take things back to The Beatles with Taxman, before a mini-Wilburys reunion happens with Lynne and Dhani on board for Handle With Care, a true highlight. Then after Preston delivers a soulful Isn't It A Pity, Ringo rocks for his friend on the Harrison composition Photograph, and their old Carl Perkins favourite Honey Don't. Then it's Paul's turn with For You Blue, and a touching ukulele tribute on Something. The final push sees Clapton and McCartney team for While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Preston back on as the best one to do My Sweet Lord, and the whole gang with Clapton leading doing Wah-Wah. As a touching farewell, Brown returns to wish George well, singing I'll See You In My Dreams.

The reason for the reissue was to get it on vinyl for the first time, and to continue raising funds for Harrison's Material World Foundation. The big news on the vinyl is that the song Horse To The Water is included, as done by Sam Brown and Jools Holland, edited off the CD. And on the Blu-ray side, you get to see the hijinks of George's Monty Python pals, who show up for The Lumberjack Song in intermission, with Tom Hanks as an honourary Mountie. Here's the thing, not only is it a great watch or listen, you're going to feel good just owning it.

Monday, March 12, 2018


New band, short E.P., four tracks. Hailing from Kitchener-Waterloo, Amy and Marcus Addams handle the fuzzy guitars and vocals, while Colin White drums and Justin Cober, umm, basses. What they're doing isn't as noisy as shoegaze, but could be, if they weren't so keen on melodies and twin harmonies. There's a distinct retro feel to the cut Satan, with its boy-girl, which starts out Mickey and Sylvia and winds down all '60's Who.

On her own, Amy Addams sound a little like Neko Case singing The Smiths' Hand In Glove here, the lone cover, done in a less dramatic version. On their three originals, the group doesn't dwell in Retroland, instead letting all their influences jockey for position, coming up with a cool take on where pop could have gone after the '90's. Let's just pretend the last two decades didn't happen, and now Hyness is here.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


It remains mysterious to me why a heritage band such as, say, AC/DC remains hugely popular with original fans, concert-goers who have never owned one of their records, and entire new generations not born during the group's heyday, despite now being down to one original member (Angus). Yet new rock bands are having a desperate time trying to build any kind of interest and staying power, like its Dixieland or ballroom dancing or something else from a bygone era. I guess its just the whole spectacle of the thing, the cultural iconic moment it represents, and it doesn't matter who's up there as long as there's a guy in short pants and another one screeching "Highway to Hell" and some big lights and fireworks and like-minded souls numbering in the tens of thousands.

Anyway, if it's the music you actually enjoy, here's a band built on the AC/DC sound, from Sydney, Australia, natch. They'd been building and recording in their own country for a decade before a unique twist brought them to Canada. Playing in front of industry types at Canadian Music Week, they impressed the right folks fast, and in short order ended up working with Ian D'Sa of Billy Talent, and eventually moving here, so they're basically Canadian now.

The Lazys actually have more going on than the one-dimensional hard-pounding sound of their Australian forebearers, with the ability to throw in a ballad or two on the new album, and some more imaginative ways to get to the heavy choruses on the rockers. But when they strut their stuff, well, these are probably the hit songs Angus Young (and Def Leppard and Axl Rose and lots of others) wish they were still able to write. Nothing But Trouble is the first single, all churning energy, while Little Miss Crazy does the same trick as well. Half Mast Blues is an example of that rare genre, pirate rock ("Shiver me timbers/drink a barrel of rum"). But Young Modern Lightning is where the group stretches, kind of a power ballad with something decent to say. And One's Too Many is a hard rocker, but with more punk roots than metal. So, you know, rock 'n' roll still lives.

Friday, March 9, 2018


After a couple of acoustic albums, this Ontario favourite singer/songwriter from the roots field returns with a full band album. It's hard to single out one aspect to focus on with Vinnick, as she writes strong songs and sings with tons of emotion, plus plays both guitar and bass with authority. And when she does choose a cover, she makes it her own. Check out her version of Percy Mayfield's Danger Zone, which she does solo, just her and her bass, pouring her heart in to the vocal, and making us realize the world's still in an uproar these days.

With the full band, Vinnick turns up the soulful sounds, with Find Some Freedom an inspiring gospel-flavoured number featuring a guest solo blast from Kevin Breit, and Colin Linden doing the same on slide for Crying A River. On Creaking Pines, Vinnick conjures up a dark, creepy and slow groove over writer Kent Theaker's ghost story, with a spooky vocal to help the mood. But then she turns right around on All I Wanna Do, with a great bit of fun in All I Wanna Do with its slinky New Orleans vibe. There are several co-writes with some of the best blues-roots folks around, including Steve Strongman, Treasa Lavasseur, and Matt Andersen. That last pair close off the set with Drift Away, a thoughtful, dignified ballad that really shows off Vinnick's luminous voice. Again, it's a real toss-up as to which kind of song here I admire most, and thank goodness we get lots to choose from.