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Classic Rock Magazine

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    Last night The Who kicked off their Quadrophenia Tour at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida and it did not end happily. For their main set, The Who performed their landmark 1973 album Quadrophenia in its entirety followed by a five-song tour of the band’s greatest hits as an encore. Guitarist Pete Townshend, apparently unhappy with the stage volume, walked off during You Better You Bet, the next to last song, and left his band mates to finish the show without him.

    According to Boca Mag, there was more drama than what took place during the encore, “Throughout the evening, Townshend gestured and, at times, fumed at his off-stage crew due to sound issues and problems with his guitars.” Hopefully yesterday’s issues aren’t a harbinger of what’s to come over the course of the 36-city tour.


    Set: I Am The Sea, The Real Me, Quadrophenia, Cut My Hair, The Punk and the Godfather, I’m One, The Dirty Jobs, Helpless Dancer, Is It In My Head?, I’ve Had Enough, 5:15, Sea and Sand, Drowned,  Bell Boy, Doctor Jimmy, The Rock, Love Reign O’er Me

    Encore: Pinball Wizard, Behind Blue Eyes, Who Are You?, You Better You Bet, Baba O’Riley

    Both Keith Moon and John Entwistle were featured in the performance despite passing away in 1978 and 2002 respectively. WPTV tells us that video of an Entwistle bass solo was shown during 5:15 and Moon sang Bell Boy via video. From the looks of this clip, The Who spared no expense with the stage design for this tour. We just wish Roger Daltrey would keep his shirt on.

    The Who – The Rock, Love Reign O’er Me

    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    Earlier this evening NBC aired a one-hour telethon called “Hurricane Sandy – Coming Together” to raise funds for victims of the storm that ravaged the Northeast just days ago. Among the stars that participated were New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi as well as New Yorkers Billy Joel, Jimmy Fallon, Mary J. Blige and Tina Fey plus many more.

    The Today Show’s Matt Lauer hosted the telecast which urged viewers to donate to the Red Cross by visiting, calling 1-800-HELPNOW or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Highlights of the performances included Sting’s gorgeous unplugged version of Message In A Bottle, Steven Tyler teaming up with Springsteen, Fallon and Billy Joel for a fun romp through Under The Boardwalk, a Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway) that hit close to home and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s optimistic Land of Hopes and Dreams.

    If you missed it, we’ve found a number of videos from the telecast…

    Here’s Message In A Bottle by Sting…

    Sting – Message In A Bottle

    Brad Whitford, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry combine forces for Dream On…

    Aerosmith – Dream On

    A slew of stars backed Jimmy Fallon for Under The Boardwalk…

    Fallon et al – Under The Boardwalk

    The lyrics to Miami 2017 never sounded as real as they did tonight…

    Billy Joel – Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)

    Christina Aguilera opened the show with Beautiful…

    Christina Aguilera – Beautiful

    Jon Bon Jovi combined Who Says You Can’t Go Home and Livin’ On A Prayer…

    Jon Bon Jovi – Who Says You Can’t Go Home / Livin’ On A Prayer

    And here’s Mary J. Blige’s version of The Living Proof…

    Mary J. Blige – The Living Proof

    Finally, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band closed out the show…

    Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Land of Hopes and Dreams

    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    In September we told you about a new series of live archival releases from the Zappa Family Trust called Road Tapes. Today, we’ve found out about the first installment of what looks to be an exciting series. It appears instead of labeling Road Tapes as volumes, the installments will be labeled as “venues.” Road Tapes Venue #1 features a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention performance recorded at Kerrisdale Arena in Vancouver on August 25, 1968 and is expected to ship this week.

    This show not only hasn’t circulated among fans, but a setlist isn’t known. So far ZFT hasn’t released a track listing on the pre-order page. The only details are, “Get your ticket to ride! First stop Vancouver. House lights go down, Curtain goes up. You sit down and listen up. Get on the bus.” A look at the only other August show listed on the definitive FZShows site, from NYC’s Wollman Rink in Central Park, features a setlist that includes King Kong, Mr. Green Genes, Big Leg Emma and Baby Love. It’s thought Zappa was backed by the classic Mothers of Invention lineup of Roy Estrada, Ray Collins, Jimmy Carl Black, Art Tripp, Ian Underwood, Don Preston, Bunk Gardner and Motorhead Sherwood, but again there’s no details listed about this previously undocumented performance.

    You can pre-order this release HERE for just $15 not including shipping.

    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    Today we kick off a new column called Then and Now in which we let our readers compare a recently busted out version of a tune to a take from before the song was put on the shelf.

    Jamtronica act STS9 isn’t a band that plays covers all that often, so it was quite a surprise when the band filled nearly their entire first set with covers on Halloween night at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Penn. Starting off with Michael Jackson’s Thriller, STS9 tackled Icky Thump by The White Stripes, Daft Punk’s Robot Rock, The Walk by The Cure, Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones, Deee-lite’s What Is Love, King Pharoah’s Tomb by King Tubby, Bloody Beatroots’ Awesome and the Deodato version of 2001 (Also Sprach Zarathrustra) by the time the set was done.

    [Photo by by hollyfazekas From STS9 Tumblr]

    STS9 hadn’t covered 2001 since 1999 and Wednesday night’s take, like other songs in the first set, featured horns. We wanted to share a version of 2001 from 1998 as well as a decent video of Wednesday night’s cover to show off the differences between them.


    Here’s audio of STS9 performing Also Sprach Zarathrustra on April 18, 1998…

    [via TreeThuggerOnline]


    And check out this video of ASZ with horns from the Tower on Wednesday night…

    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    Ever since HD Net changed to AXS TV the cable network has been broadcasting live concerts from a number of our favorite acts. That continues on Thursday night when AXS TV simulcasts a Grace Potter and the Nocturnals performance live from the iconic Stubb’s BBQ in Austin starting at 10:15PM EST.

    Also of note, be sure to watch Father John Misty on Conan, Ty Segall on Letterman and Ben Folds Five on Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight. All the late night shows go to reruns on Tuesday night if the presidential election is decided in time otherwise election coverage will continue into the morning.

    Monday, November 5 [All Times ET]

    • Father John Misty on Conan [TBS 11PM]
    • Ty Segall on David Letterman [CBS 11:35PM]
    • Ben Folds Five on Jimmy Kimmel [ABC Midnight]
    • RNDM on Jimmy Fallon [NBC 12:35AM]
    • The Stepkids on Carson Daly [NBC 1:35AM]

    Tuesday, November 6

    • Counting Crows – Live At Auditorium Shores [AXS TV 12:45PM]
    • Jane’s Addiction – Live in New York [Palladia 2PM]
    • The Who: Quadrophenia- Can You See The Real Me? [Palladia 7PM]
    • Foo Fighters on Saturday Night Live [VH1 Classic 7PM]

    Wednesday, November 7

    • ASIA – AXIS XXX Live [AXS TV 11PM]
    • Cat Power on Conan [TBS 11PM]
    • Diamond Rings on Jay Leno [NBC 11:35PM]
    • RZA on Craig Ferguson [CBS 12:35AM]

    Thursday, November 8

    • Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – Live in Austin [AXS TV 10:15PM]
    • Brandi Carlile on Conan [TBS 11PM]
    • Lord Huron on Jay Leno [NBC 11:35PM]
    • Grimes on Carson Daly [NBC 1:35AM]
    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    With their first two studio albums, Titus Andronicus has turned what we’ve known about punk rock on its head with hyper-literate songs that tend to clock in at over five minutes or longer. The Glen Rock, New Jersey-based act, who were recently declared the “best young band in America” by Grantland, released their third full-length effort Local Business late last month. While 2010′s The Monitor was a song-cycle loosely based on the Civil War, their latest is a more straight-ahead affair rooted in a mix of ’70s glam and pub-rock. Patrick Stickles took to the streets of his hometown to shoot the video for the album’s lead single In A Big City, his ode to New York City. Check it out…

    Titus AndronicusIn A Big City

    by Jeffrey Greenblatt Leave A Comment

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    The main obstacle to time travel is not physical. It’s philosophical: If I could go back in time, then I could kill my grandfather or my father or my mother. If I did that I would cease to be and could never have gone back in time in the first place, so how is time travel possible? Electric Shepherd doesn’t give a shit about any of that because they solved a decades-old problem facing psychedelic musicians: How do you sound like you first experienced psychedelia at a free concert in 1961 and not at an un-tss un-tss rave in 1996, or worse yet, at a wub wub dubstep show in 2010? When I first heard their eponymous first album I thought someone had mislabeled some tracks from a late-60s psychokinetic band that didn’t make it onto any of the Nuggets releases. Was there a Strawbs album left in someone’s basement? Perhaps Curved Air had found some dusty reels in an attic? Maybe Premiata Forneria Marconi had meant for Per un amico to be a double album and this was the long lost second half?

    No, these time travelers are real; their drummer, Sonny Pearce, was born in 1988. (For the record, that is the same year as Milli Vanilli’s debut album, All or Nothing.) Pearce tells me, “Our band derives its name from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” which was turned into Ridley Scott’s cinematic freak out, Blade Runner. He continues: “I’d say more of the visual aspects of writers like PKD (as opposed to his obvious sci-fi influences) affect the music. We like to map out landscapes lyrically and musically that echo influences from writers and various time periods–i.e. ’60s/’70s.  We’re big fans of Dead Meadow, who sound like a ’60s/’70s heavy psych band, but make it new.” Indeed, if Electric Shepherd have traveled back in time to the early-70s San Francisco scene, Dead Meadow have traveled back to the harder, bluesier, Black Sabbathier scene from the same period.

    However, these are not nostalgia bands, and Electric Shepherd has many cosmic peers making new music today: DungenTame ImpalaTortoise, perhaps a jam version of Sparklehorse. But it’s hard to listen to sections of Imitation Gardens pt. 1 and not think of that one really popular band that came out of the Frisco scene in the ’60s. What were they called?  Oh, yes, the Grateful Dead. Electric Shepherd’s new album, The Imitation Garden, which comes out December 18, draws from the past and paints the present. It’s a bit heavier and a bit more polished than their first album, and it will motivate you to obtain the Jonathan Lethem-edited tome, the Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, pick a random page, and read: “Irreality is deepening, but the changeover shows enigmatic traces or imprints which do not belong.  To a very large degree memory no longer agrees with history.”

    [The Imitation Garden Cover Art]

    Tracks like Heaven Don’t Need begin slow and patient with Leslied vocals, then buoy forth with graceful lead guitar and tight, composed band-interplay before opening the throttle and rocking like Soundgarden in their thrashy heyday. Well, a less-depressed Soundgarden with a head full of pure LSD. Most Electric Shepherd tracks feature many sections, and this one is no different. Listing all the influences I can hear would crash the Internet, so I think it’s safe to say these are some well-studied and well-rehearsed young lads who have been able to tap into something primal to create something new. The Escapist is the kind of song that comes on at a party and makes everyone twice as interesting. In Search of the Ocean finds the band taking advantage of Duke Ellington’s famous light and dark theory.  Soft whispers are juxtaposed against snarling growls. The different sections are clearly composed but do not sound over-composed. Electric Shepherd always maintains some level of garage-band fuzz. The album ends with a climactic guitar solo that softly fades into the ether. Clocking in at seventy-three-and-a-half minutes, The Imitation Garden is a hefty chunk of psychotropic goodness, destined to take this band forwards on whatever continuum suits their fancy.

    by David Paul Kleinman Leave A Comment

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    On October 18th, David S. Ware passed away just before his 63rd birthday. Ware was known as a vanguard free jazz sax man, but that label doesn’t communicate the passion and brilliance of his work as a player or band leader. The label seems to connote uninhibited blowing, but Ware was a strong, focused and emotive player of exceptional material.

    An intellectual, he created smart, challenging music that was at the same time grounded and earthy in its explorations; it’s no coincidence that his phenomenal live album with his long standing David S Ware Quartet (featuring his perfect foil, Matthew Shipp on piano; Guillermo Brown on drums, with his big, spacious sound; and the rich, vibrating bass of William Parker) is called Live in the World. That double disc is required listening for anyone at all interested in this modern golden age of jazz that we live in. The music is stunningly intense and vibrant, with the band members listening and responding to each other so deftly, you can almost see them as the music plays. Together, those four musicians formed one of the great jazz collaborations of the era, a quartet in a league with Charles Lloyd’s New Quartet and the Wayne Shorter Quartet (a comparison that is still valid, even if Ware himself rejected it).

    To mark his passing, this week features a trio of songs by the Quartet drawn largely from turn of the century performances, starting out with Muriko’s Blues, a moody, sparse rhythm with a fantastic sax solo over it; followed by Yesterdays from a recent BBC Jazz on 3 remembrance, essentially Ware’s response to Trane’s I Want To Talk About You. And finishing up is a spectacular Aquarian Sound show opener from August of 1999. What you’ll hear in all this material is just how full and potent this group was, how much balance and mutual respect was communicated through every bar of music. Chances are, unless you’re an invested jazz fan, you don’t know Ware’s music. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen. As always, enjoy!

    by Dan Alford Leave A Comment

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    [We're still days away from getting back to full speed due to issues with internet stemming from Sandy. As such, we weren't able to post our Full Show Friday post this past Friday, so here it is today.]

    It’s been a hellacious week for many of us in the Northeast who are dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. So once you put the work week to bed, we’ve got an amazing one-hour live concert special for you to watch that features two of the greatest musicians to ever pick up an instrument  - Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett.

    Miles Davis brought a version of his Miles Davis Group that included Jarrett on keys, Gary Bartz on soprano and alto sax, Michael Henderson on bass, Leon Chancler on drums and percussionists Don Alias and James Mtume to Europe in late 1971 before disbanding the group. The septet played the Philharmonie in Berlin on November 6th for a show that was broadcast on German TV. Over the course of the hour-long program, Davis and his band run through a medley that contains bits of Directions, Honky Tonk, What I Say, Sanctuary,  It’s About That Time and Funky Tonk. This professionally-shot footage gives us an intimate look at these talented musicians in action…

    Miles Davis Group – Berlin 1971

    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    While 2012 hasn’t been a busy year for jamtronica pioneers the Disco Biscuits, from the looks of an announcement today 2013 might not suffer from the same lack of shows. The Disco Biscuits have just announced a three-night run in Colorado that will take place from Jan. 24th – 26th. The quartet will start this special winter edition of Bisco Inferno at the Boulder Theater on Jan. 24th followed by a performance at Denver’s Ogden on the 25th and a headlining gig at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield on the 26th with support from GRiZ and Michael Menert.

    Two and three-day packages go on sale this Thursday, November 8th, at Noon MT via Ticketfly.

    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    HeadCount Participation Party @ Highline Ballroom – November 5

    Words: Chad Berndtson
    Photos: Jeremy Gordon

    As we’ve often said in these pages, benefit shows with lots of announced special guests have a way of coming up short: packaged “moments,” awkward pacing, “super jams” that end up as little more than quick, haphazard exercises in pass-the-hat soloing on songs that aren’t so much improvisation vehicles as lowest common denominators.

    [All Photos by Jeremy Gordon]

    But heading into last night’s HeadCount Participation Tour finale in New York, there was THAT feeling: a night where there’d be room to dance, smiles to share and some gnarly magic. That it was a rager — and whoa mama, was it — shouldn’t have been a surprise, seeing there are few bands more adept at high-energy throwdowns than Dumpstaphunk, accommodating guests in often-messy succession.

    There were good vibes all around, and despite repeated insistence to vote, almost no actual politics from the stage. And yeah, you had a damn good cause on top of a damn good cause; HeadCount had announced late last week that it would turn the benefit partly into a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy challenges.

    That was important. Pre-show chatter confirmed this show was many folks’ first big venture out since the hurricane ravaged most of NYC and the surrounding areas. Music needed to be had, what with the tension of the weather event that had just finished and the tension of today’s election firmly mounting. And even with the late-inning buzzkill of Anders Osborne’s abrupt withdrawal from the show — details are sketchy — you had a raw-energy audience badly in need of catharsis.

    Mission accomplished. Luther and Cody Dickinson blazed into the Highline early and often, tearing through an hour of North Mississippi Allstars staples and quickly filling up the available stage real estate, first with Scott Metzger, and soon after, with Eric Krasno and Nikki Glaspie.

    Metzger was surprisingly a non-presence, content to hang back and play rhythm while Luther D. handled much of the heavy lifting. Once Krasno got into it, however — he started out on bass for Shake ‘Em On Down — there were fireworks aplenty, including a torrid, psychedelic trip through the Po Black Maddie/Skinny Woman combo with an acid blues guitar duel on the back end.

    By that time, Glaspie had pushed Cody out of the drum chair and into the bass stead, and soon after, Nigel Hall and James Casey slid in on keys to accompany Krasno on a brand-new song with a refrain of “Jezebel.” The protean Krasno revealed himself to be a sturdy singer, but better still was the fuzzed-out funk-rock jam that really opened up, with Dickinson playing paint-peeler slide off of Hall’s pummeling organ work. Questlove snuck in sometime during this song on a smaller kit next to Glaspie and the guitarists yielded to a brief showcase before Questo reburied himself in his phone and prepped for a DJ set.

    Nearly an hour later came Dumpstaphunk, which has re-gelled following its replacement of former drummer Raymond Webber with Glaspie and remains the fiercest New Orleans funk outfit in a generation. Like the NMAS, Ivan and the gang stuck largely to staples, including Put It In the Dumpsta and the Zigaboo Modeliste deep cut Standing In Yo Stuff — complete with a stage full of hip shaking ladies — along with the event-appropriate romp through P-Funk’s One Nation Under a Groove.

    Guests were brought on New Orleans-style, meaning with little announcement, gradually worked in and left to claim pieces of jams rather than be assigned parts. Casey and a trumpet player formed an ad-hoc horn section, and by the time the band slid into Meanwhile, Ivan was handing out guitars, loosely attempting to stage-manage and the slides and fingers were flying as Dickinson and Krasno made it back to the fray. Things got blurry, as they often do when hard-charging toward a guest-dappled finale, and Questlove slid in at one point and Nigel returned and was that Ron Johnson in the mix, too?

    The night’s only miscalculation was Bela Fleck, who had what amounted to a 20-minute cameo right after Questlove wrapped his DJ set and just before the Dumpsta action began. There’s never a bad time, per se, for Fleck’s neuron-popping virtuosity on the banjo, but with the master rolling through, sitting down mid-stage and picking out The Star Spangled Banner along with assorted African songs picked up from his travels abroad then waving a quick goodbye, it was akin to dropping a recital in the midst of a roadhouse rave-up: almost completely incongruous.

    It killed the energy — quickly restored as soon as Ivan and crew hit the stage — and also left plenty to wonder about what Fleck might have added as a guest of the Dickinsons or Dumpstaphunk itself (think of the adventure!). But this wasn’t a show where you quibbled with pacing or thought too much about what might have been. You shook your ass and enjoyed.

    DSC_8974 DSC_8938 DSC_8933 DSC_8897 DSC_8892 DSC_8769 DSC_8708 DSC_8648 DSC_8633 DSC_8620 DSC_8612 DSC_8605 DSC_8569 DSC_8545 DSC_8435 DSC_8394 DSC_8383 DSC_8186 _DSC4240 _DSC4226 _DSC4212
    by Chad Berndtson Leave A Comment

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    Dean Ween has spent the last few months with his head down in the studio working on a new as-of-yet untitled project so he hasn’t played many gigs of late. The Ween co-founder will make a rare appearance on November 28th at The Saint in Asbury Park, New Jersey along with his “friends.”

    Deaner put this show together to raise funds for his “kindred spirit” Nick Honachefsky who lost everything to Hurricane Sandy. Details about the event are just coming out and ticketing information is expected soon. Be sure to keep your eyes on the Facebook page for the event for updates.

    Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo wrote a stirring essay about the situation…

    I met Nick Honachefsky on 6/18/08 after I had filmed a few episodes of my web based fishing show “Brownie Troop Fishing”. He sent me an email saying that he liked my show, knew my band and that he fished his ass off and wrote for “The Fisherman” magazine, a NJ based weekly publication that I subscribe to. I had read his articles and seen his name a million times and when I called him to take him up on his offer to surf cast I knew immediately that we were kindred spirits. I had just broken my ankles on a Ween European tour after a wild night but it wasn’t stopping me from fishing. I told Nick what I was dealing with and we both agreed that it wouldn’t be a problem, I would just tape my legs up with garbage bags and duct tape so as not to get the casts all wet and slimy. (yeah right). I drove alone to the address he gave me in Normandy Beach, NJ and got to his house before he got back from running errands. I had to take a leak, big time after an hour in my truck so I let myself into his house to use the bathroom. He came home as I was walking through his kitchen and he simply said “hey, make yourself at home why dontcha”. After a few short formalities he helped me drag our gear onto his beach to go fishing and from the first cast we knocked it out of the park catching Stripers, Bluefish, and Sharks. We never looked back after that, I had found a like-minded friend in every sense of the word. After that day we fished something like 5 days a week, and spoke on the phone like 20 times a day. Our friendship grew naturally from that moment on and he quickly became one of the closest friends I’ve ever had. He has watched my son grow up, we’ve been through all of life’s major events together, the good and the bad. Most of all we fished together, as hard as two people can fish—from the surf, from the boat, in the river, in canals, around the world. Along the way we shot 16 episodes of the Brownie Troop Fishing Show together. He is as good an angler that has ever walked the beaches of Jersey, and he is an even better saltwater journalist, evidenced by his rise from local freelance fishing journalist to Managing Editor of Saltwater Sportsman, the Sports Illustrated of fishing magazines. He is even a better loyal friend though. When Hurricane Sandy hit, Nick’s house was at ground zero of the devastation. His house burned to the ground and washed away with the tide that we so carefully monitored for the past 4 or 5 years for a fishing advantage. I’ve spent a hundred nights sleeping on his couch at his place in Normandy, the door was always open to me and we had a lot of fun and a lot of late nights and early mornings there, waking up before sunrise to pound the surf. Now it’s gone, reduced to matchsticks like so many other homes left crushed in Sandy’s wake, along with all of his fishing journals, tackle, and all of his worldly possessions. I am hosting a benefit concert to help Nick rebuild his house and reclaim his life at the Jersey shore, which is exactly where he belongs. I’m asking for your support for my friend, come out and enjoy an evening of incredible music and good laughs for a great cause. We are down but we are not out and we will fish again soon, and forever. There are a lot of people in need and I have seen the best in people this past week since Sandy left the area, I ask that you help within your budget and limitations and assist in helping my good friend get back on his feet.


    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain wasn’t much of a sentimentalist but that didn’t stop him from forging a connection with Terry Jacks’ 1974 hit Seasons In The Sun which was the first record he ever bought. The song was penned by Rod McKuen as an English-language adaption of  Jacques Brel’s 1961 tune called Le Moribund. Rod McKuen recently came to our attention thanks to Aaron Freeman’s recent album of McKuen covers entitled Marvelous Clouds. Jacks recorded the maudlin Seasons In The Sun in 1973 and the song enjoyed a three-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100 charts the next year marking the Canadian artist’s one hit here in the States.

    In 1993 Nirvana entered a studio in Rio de Janeiro and laid down a version of Seasons In The Sun that wasn’t released until it was included in the 2004 box set With The Lights Out. For their take on Seasons In The Sun, the members of Nirvana switched instruments. While Kurt handled the vocals, he also played drums on the track. Krist Novoselic traded in his normal bass duties for a six-string electric guitar leaving Dave Grohl to play bass. A video of Nirvana’s Seasons In The Sun circulates complete with home movie footage. Take a look…

    Nirvana – Seasons In The Sun

    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    It is great to be back after taking  a quick one-week hiatus last week during Sandy.  Being without power for several days is no fun but certainly pales in comparison to so many that have lost so much in the last week. Thoughts are with everyone still affected by the storm.

    Recently on Technology Tuesday we reviewed Monoprice Earbuds and a HiFiMAN portable DAC. I thoroughly enjoy finding great audio products like these where you get a lot for your dollar. This week, we’ll take a look at another set of earphones that also offer quite a bit for the money.

    RHA, like Phiaton that we did a review on several weeks ago,  might be an audio company that you are unfamiliar with. Based in Glasgow, this UK company has only recently made a push into the United States with their professional grade products and cutting edge sound. Despite the hyper-competitive market segment of budget earphones and headphones filled with the likes of well known names like Sennheiser, Sony, Koss, Klipsh, Yamaha, Polk and scores of others, RHA is poised to make a name for themselves.

    The MA-350 noise isolating earphones are lightweight, comfortable, striking in appearance and offer quite a gratifying listen for $39.95. Read on to learn more about these earphones and your chance to win a pair!

    [MA-350 earphones from RHA]

    Overview RHA MA-350′s offer stunning sound with their unique trumpet horn shape and 10mm drivers. The $25-$75 earphone market is riddled with products of a dizzying array of quality and performance, but at $39.95, RHA has produced a true winner.

    Sound I have really enjoyed listening to these over the last couple of weeks and have enjoyed them with all sorts of different music. The sound is incredibly even, crisp and balanced. A deep and impressive bass output is complemented by plenty of treble. Both the lows and the highs sound natural without any artificial sounding processing. Likewise, the vocals are crisp and in-your-face right up front. It is tough to get punch, clarity and bass all delivered so naturally in this price range without one of those items suffering. The MA-350′s do a great job at all of them. They perform particularly well when pushed to max volume which is another thing many earphones in this price range are unable to do.

    Another thing that I absolutely love about these earphones is how quick they are able to “recover.” I’m sure there’s a fancy audio term for this but not sure what it is. What I mean is percussion and other sounds are sharp and able to quickly recover to prevent the notes from bleeding into each other. I used to think that the continued hum of a bass drum kick or vibrations from a cymbal smash were a good thing. Certainly they are if that is what the sound actually was on the recording. However, with more critical listening, I am definitely now really enjoying sounds like the MA-350′s can produce: clear, accurate and “as-recorded”.

    The noise isolation is also extremely impressive. These are of course passive noise cancelling meaning they rely on the physical design rather than microphones and signal processing. Nevertheless, perhaps due to the trumpet shape and the the design of the tips, these are the best passive noise isolating earphones I’ve ever used. You many NOT want to use these biking or jogging: you are literally cut off from almost all outside sounds. Similarly, very little sound leakage occurs with these either.


    Build & Design With aluminum construction and a nice woven fabric cable, these earphones feel very durable and look nice too. The ‘aerophonic design’ as RHA calls the trumpet shape is not only aesthetically pleasing but it allows a much larger driver (speaker) to fit without having to resort to side mounting which can be awkward and potentially uncomfortable.  The normal airflow system used by trumpets is inverted: the earphone directs air from the widest part of the bell shape to the narrowest. This concentrates sound naturally and produces clear, natural sounds with deeper bass than typically possible.

    When wearing the headphones, they are very unobtrusive looking with simple black buds featuring the RHA logo.  Three sizes of silicone tips ensure a good fit. Despite the metal aluminum build, they are still extremely lightweight and stay positioned in the ear for long periods without any discomfort. I also particularly like the length of the braided cord at about 4′. The cable Y-splitter and gold plated stereo plug also seem durable and well built.

    Keep in mind that these are straight earphones and do not include a microphone for calls or player controls on the cord. However, RHA has recently released the MA-450i’s. I have not listened to these but can only assume that they have the same outstanding sound quality. If you need a mic and controls, these may be the ones you want.

    Other things to know:

    • The MA-350′s come with a lengthy three-year manufacturer’s warranty
    • A cloth travel pouch is included
    • Frequency Range 16-22,000Hz

    Bottom Line This is a fantastic pair of earphones that will be a massive upgrade to anything that came packaged with your portable media player or phone. They compete well with all the major audio brands in this price category and offer bright, defined, natural, well-balanced sound with a huge kick. Particularly impressive is the bass, noise isolation and accuracy of sound.

    Interested in a pair of RHA MA-350′s for yourself? The good folks at RHA hooked me up with a pair to give away to you. Simply either Tweet a link to this article, stick it on your Google+ page, post to Facebook or pin to your Pinterest board. One entry per person so you only need to do one of those.  Then leave a comment on this column so I know you have entered. We’ll close the contest Monday night and announce the random winner next week. Good luck as always!

    MA-350 $39.95 Amazon (as reviewed)
    MA-450i $49.95 Apple (with Mic and Controls)


    Hidden Track Technology Tuesday

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    …and he’s got us feeling alright.

    The Bad Plus: Made Possible

    Every time the Bad Plus comes out with a new album, I say the same thing, but this may be my favorite album of theirs yet. While they’ve staked their claim as a piano trio that delves into deconstructed pop covers of the nth degree, their strength has always been in their original material and Made Possible is all those strengths on steroids: powerful, cerebral calisthenics, off-angle freeform, jaunty groovers and their patented gloriously slow build to emotional climax. If for some reason you’ve spent the last decade ignoring one of the best things going in any genre, this is as good a place as any to start.

    Spotify: The Bad Plus – Made Possible

    Marco Benevento: TigerFace

    I’m sure Marco needs no introduction to the readers of Hidden Track, but regardless, I feel obligated to inform you that Mr. Benevento has put out what is easily my favorite album of his since Invisible Baby. All of the familiar Benevento elements are here: organ, piano and beyond, electric and acoustic, layered in that way he does so well. But there is also a maturity and a comfort level and an overall relaxed vibe… just another guy taking a cudgel to the old piano-bass-drums thing smashing it to bits from the inside like it’s no big deal. Oh yeah, and the first two tracks feature Kalmia Traver from Rubblebucket and are as good as any pop song you’ll hear this year.

    Spotify: Marco Benevento – TigerFace

    Brad Mehldau Trio: Where Do You Start/Ode

    Not to be outdone by the other fantastic piano trio albums released this year, Brad Mehldau has put out not one, but two LP’s worthy of your awe. The trio is in fine form throughout, truly acting like one six-limbed creature, Mehldau’s hands on the piano seeming to dictate his rhythm section like few players can. Listening to these recordings, I’m often lamenting not having the visual to see exactly how this music is being made. The material is superb top to bottom, but if you’re looking for just a sample in familiar territory, you shouldn’t let your day end without listening to the trio’s cover of Hey Joe at least once… although repeated listens have provided me with just as many chills as the first.

    Where Do You Start

    Spotify: Brad Mehldau Trio – Where Do You Start


    Spotify: Brad Mehldau Trio – Ode

    P.S. As the end of the year approaches, I’ve still got plenty of recs to make. But I’m always interested in finding out about all the great music that I might have missed my (admittedly widely cast) net. If you’ve got some off-the-beaten-path recommendations, don’t horde ‘em – leave a comment or tweet me at @neddyo. Thanks!

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    Among all the hits in the Talking Heads catalog, the band had a few singles that didn’t hit as big as Psycho Killer, Once In A Lifetime or Burning Down the House, but that stack right up amongst the best in the catalog. (Nothing But) Flowers off the band’s last studio album, Naked, is one of those songs. In fact, it might actually be David Byrne’s best lyrical song of all and musically it’s right up there too.

    The reason for the inclusion of (Nothing But) Flowers today is that this song has a certain relevance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as so many people continue to await the return of electricity, heat and hot water. This song takes a reverse lens look at a society that goes from being inundated with modern comforts to one that reverts back to its natural undeveloped state. Ironically, where most musicians would sing a song about wanting to get back to nature, Byrne’s song highlights how his character misses the cars, the parking lots, the shopping malls, the 7-Elevens, the Dairy Queen’s and the nightlife.  This is an insanely clever song. Also, see if you can spot Johnny Marr in the video.

    by Ryan Dembinsky Leave A Comment

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    Stevie Wonder @ Scope Arena – November 5

    I will die happy because I have boogied down fifteen feet from Stevie Wonder. I have studied the rips and tears in his clavinet. I have seen his tech guy’s afro shake in the lights as he polished Stevie’s harmonica. I have heard Stevie tear into the wah-wah glory of Higher Ground, then jokingly switch to the syrupy synth of Celine Dion albums, then push the Scope Arena–which opened a year later than nearby Hampton Coliseum–into the Troposphere. I have felt the B-section of Sir Duke snake down onto the floor harder than Zeppelin, fiercer than Rage and crisper than a thousand DJs with a thousand Macbooks. I’ve seen the 62-year-old soul man almost break down and cry before changing gears and rocking the packed hockey arena out into the streets.

    [Photo by Sarah Kleinman]

    This election eve campaign concert had the feel of a New Year’s Eve show at Madison Square Garden. With Wonder not touring right now, the thousands upon thousands of people waiting outside in the cold knew they were in for something special. Walking up I heard a jammed out version of Signed, Sealed, Delivered. At first I thought organizers had hired a tight-as-hell Stevie cover band to warm up the crowd, but this was the soundcheck from inside. Speakers were placed around the outside of the arena, and screens were put up later for the countless who didn’t get into the free show. During the soundcheck Stevie allowed his guitarist to open the hose a bit, which didn’t happen during the show. However, Wonder’s band for this one-off gig was as tight as any he has assembled–nay, as tight as any band any mortal has ever assembled.

    An early highlight was Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel that had Nate Watts switching from bass to keyboard–a role he would play again for the dirt nasty funk of Superstition. Watts has been with Wonder for over three decades, and recently won the International Bassist Award, which had been won by one other musician, Jaco Pastorius, when Nate won it in 2010. Wonder could feel the energy in the crowd, so he played the chords of the MJ classic once through without singing into the mic. This brought forth melodies and harmonies normally heard from the Sunday gospel choir. At most shows, singing along can be a distraction, like the plague of glowing screens, but last night the chorus effect in the second row felt like a warm kiss. For My Cherie Amour the crowd’s harmonies were even more blissful. The booty shaking for stadium cameras that pumped the crowd up before Stevie came out continued throughout, getting nice and dirty for I Wish. There was, however, far too many folks more concerned with their smartphones than with shaking their asses in the first couple rows. Should be some kind of law: if you ride the rail, you reggae hard.

    Olympian Gabby Douglas introduced the Motown legend, and there were a couple speeches before the set, but that’s not why I was there. Wonder did talk a lot, but that didn’t bother me. Since it wasn’t a concert with high ticket prices, the American icon was casual and relaxed. . .at one point getting the crowd to shout “assholes!” The keytar didn’t make the trip, but I can’t say enough about how positive I felt walking out into the cold night. The last time I felt like that it was on the Atlantic City Boardwalk after hearing Phish surprise everyone with a Zeppelin mini-set. In all seriousness, Stevie gave me hope for the future no matter who’s in the White House.

    by David Paul Kleinman Leave A Comment

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    Austin City Limits executive producer Terry Lickona summed up the relationship between Wilco and the legendary television program best when he said, “When people ask what kind of music Austin City Limits stands for, there’s one band that sums it up better than any other – Wilco!” Wilco made their ACL debut in 1999 and have since been featured on the show a total of four times. Only Alison Krauss and Union Station and Lyle Lovett have appeared on ACL as much since 1999.

    Today, we look back at the start of the Wilco/ACL showmance as a video featuring Wilco’s entire performance from August 16, 1999 has surfaced. Over the course of 70 minutes, only some of which was broadcast, Jeff Tweedy and Co. ran through the best material from 1995′s A.M., 1996′s Being There and 1999′s Summerteeth. This was during the creative peak of Tweedy’s relationship with multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett who is featured throughout the episode. Take a look…

    Wilco – Austin City Limits 1999


    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    We’ve really enjoyed the music of Americana act The Civil Wars, a Nashville-based duo who offered an inventive spin on the Nashville-meets-Woodstock sound, so we’re saddened to read that the band has canceled all of their upcoming tour dates due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.”

    Here’s the full statement from the band…

    We sincerely apologize for the canceling of all of our tour dates. It is something we deeply regret. However, due to internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition we are unable to continue as a touring entity at this time. We thank each and every one of you for your amazing love & support. Our sincere hope is to have new music for you in 2013.

    - Joy Williams & John Paul White.

    We are a bit relieved to read the bit about having “new music for you in 2013,” but cancelling all your tour dates after your band has finally achieved a high level of critical and commercial success is not a good sign of the duo’s stability. In an unprecedented move, Joy and John Paul have committed to reimbursing non-refundable ticketing charges and more…

    PS – We understand that there are many of you stuck with service charges and travel reservations due to our abrupt cancelations. Please email us at if there are costs incurred that you would like to be reimbursed for, include a scan or attachment to your receipt(s) of the costs, and we will do our best to reimburse you for non-refundable charges.

    Let’s hope absence makes the heart grow fonder and the pair resolve their differences.

    [via Weeping Elvis]

    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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    Next week the new Rolling Stones greatest hits compilation, entitled GRRR!, comes out. Besides a collection of the legendary rockers’ best tunes (besides Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ – what’s up with that?), GRRR! also includes two new tracks. We already heard Doom and Gloom which we said “has the classic Stones sound with a modern twist” and today we get to feast our ears on One More Shot.

    Doom and Gloom may have had a “modern twist,” but One More Shot seems like a re-tread. It’s like the band took one part Street Fighting Man, one part Start Me Up and one part Gimme Shelter; mixed ‘em all up, threw it a batch of new lyrics and tacked the song onto GRRR! Hey, at this point, 50 years into their career, we’re just glad the Stones aren’t delivering pure crap. Plus, there’s something to be said for that classic Stones sound. But don’t take our word for it, listen yourself…

    Rolling Stones – One More Shot

    Let us know what you think in the comments section.

    by Scott Bernstein Leave A Comment

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